Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is there a silver lining?

Fareed Zakaria writes there is one. Fareed writes that amidst all the fears of recession, global economic meltdown and the credit crunch, there is a silver lining for the United States--if it learns lessons from this crisis. The culture of overspending and over leveraging might finally end. The habit of having 10 credit cards and fancy cars and houses that we cannot afford will no longer remain the same. Accounting standards will change, regulations will change, all for the better and not worse. We will see a more disciplined America.

We are witnessing history in the making. Probably even the world's most intellectual economists are having a hard time figuring where's the bottom. The unpredicatable swings in Dow Jones everyday only indicate that maybe worst is not over yet. United States, as stated in Fareed's article, is on its way to having some fundamental changes not only in the way Wall Street operates, but in a way the economy is regulated and governed.

When the world markets are in turmoil and there's rampant fear of recession in the United States, two politicians, aspiring to take the most coveted seat (so far) in the White House, the Presidency of US, had their final debate this week in long island, NY. Obama and McCain fought tooth and nail last night, and all the pundits, analysts, media polls, republicans and democrats provided their own analysis of how they performed and who won. However, none of them talked about the global meltdown, the meltdown continuing in Asian markets and how prepared are they to take leadership in this crisis. Rather, Joe the Plumber took the center stage and became an overnight celebrity. Sure, they did mention their economic plans as part of their "key messages," however, both lacked a thorough, convincing, specific view on how they perceive the current situation and what exactly will they do about it. Ironically, they know that its the number one issue on everyone's minds right now. It is unfortunate that none of the candidates seem to have any grasp of what's going on in the world economic crisis and we are only 20 days away from selecting what was once the most powerful and coveted positions in the world, the President of US. I do not favor any party or leader. But it is sad that this crisis is not only of confidence, but also of capable leadership in the country today.

Economic downturns are cyclical, what goes up comes down and what comes down will surely move up. However, as Fareed writes, United States is undergoing some profound changes--in its culture, in its society, in its markets, in its government and in its leadership. It remains to be seen if the vision of the two presidential candidates will enable this country to cope in this changing environment.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Time to speak up and fight back

I read an interesting article about an op-ed published in Forbes about Goldman Sachs. It predicted that Goldman and Morgan will be the next banks to fail and that they should consider more options of merging with foreign banks. Interestingly, the head of media relations at Goldman replied back stating the claim is more "from gut" than factual. I loved reading the Goldman's reply as well as the original post.

We are indeed living in fascinating times. The communicators at the survivor banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley face a daunting task: Their firms are constantly amidst rumors, analyst discussions, speculations and media scrutiny and it is the job of these communicators to remain vigilant about what is said about them and act promptly to correct facts and restore investor confidence. This is over and above providing candid and honest communication to all their stakeholders about their strategies and current operations, boosting employee morale within the company and keeping clients happy and reassured.

After Moody's sent a release about the possible downgrade of securities of Morgan Stanley, if the Mitsubishi deal doesn't come through, the stock of Morgan Stanley plunged. However, Morgan was quick to respond. The management immediately held meetings with its shareholders, communicated with its employees and counter-parties to reassure them about the Mitsubishi deal and explain Morgan's current stability.

The importance of communicators has never been so crucial. Today, they are adding demonstrable value on every front--right from keeping the morale of employees high to safeguarding the reputation of their company amidst all the speculation and rumors. At a time when confidence is at historically low proportions, only honest communication can restore it and help regain the credibility. In today's environment, where rumors are driving the fate of hundreds of years old institutions, effective, prompt communication has not only helped businesses fight back wherever needed, but it has also helped them survive.