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CC’s Expert Series: Understanding The Economic Situation (Pt. 2)


(In the second installment of our Expert Series Understanding The Economic Situation, we continue with the Q and A with a VP of an Investment Banking Firm. He knows his stuff and he’s gonna break it down for us in ways we can finally understand. Pay attention; he offers great advice for us college ladies for saving, spending, and not getting depressed. In case you missed the first part, read it HERE]

Do these recent economic waves mean college students and recent grads should stay away from investing in the stock market right now?

No – they should DEF participate and now is the time to do it. Recent and current grads should look to NON-financial stocks. Everything is down right now and there are so many bargains. Look to other tech and retail stocks. Buy stock and just let it sit. Don’t start trading regularly like I did when I was in college. I didn’t really make anything off of it, and if I had held onto the Google stock that I bought at $15, I would NOT be answering this email right now – I would be on a beach drinking fruity drinks with umbrellas.

How does one actually start to make smart investments?

Smart investments are ones that are based off of information, not emotion. An emotional investment is, “OMG, everyone is selling off finance stocks – I should sell mine too!” An informed one is made by reading 10K reports, poking around the internet for info, maybe even emailing or calling an investor relations representative of a company (they HAVE to talk to you and actually like doing so). Then you say, “Oh, Lehman is f*cked but JP Morgan is still in a strong position.”

How can today’s college students and recent grads start saving money?

I know it sounds stupid, but if a college student started saving SOMETHING on a monthly basis – the results would be amazing. Compound that over a yearly basis, and by the time you are ready to get a house (in 10 years or so) you will be in a much better financial position. SAVE. Keep 2 credit cards, 1 you do not touch. Keep it in the bottom of your underwear drawer. The second one should be paid off at the end of every month. You can even work with the CC company and set a self-imposed limit. They want your business, so they will do whatever you want. The card in your underwear drawer is an emergency card – and should stay hidden until the most dire need, NOT a trip to Vegas.

Do you think it’s right that big CEO’s got those “golden parachutes” when these companies went down?

Ah, the Golden Parachute. I want one of those. Yes, they are worth it. You have these CEOs with big names, and lots of pressure. When these guys/gals first join a big company, it is because they have developed a good reputation as being smart business people. Companies want them to bring that reputation to their company, because the stock price would go up even at the announcement of new executive. It is the same theory behind paying athletes the high salaries. It is not just the on the field value, but off the field as well.

CEOs become the face, name and brand of the company – and if the company goes down (whether it is the CEOs fault or not) people will always associate that company with that person. Their possible job future is gone. It is also important to keep them from having to worry about their job security. Think of it this way, if you are worried about something, does it affect the way you make decisions? Sure it does. If Jane CEO is worried about keeping her job, she will make conservative decisions with very little risk. Very little risk=very little return. That is not how businesses grow, especially big global ones.

When the board of directors say, “Hey Jane, you are smart and saavy. If anything happens and you get fired, $10M is yours. Go out, get on the cover of Forbes, talk to the WSJ, make HUGE deals for us so that the stock price will go up.” If she does well, she is a genius. If she guesses wrong on even 1 small aspect, everything could crumble. Golden Parachutes are part of the reason why we have experienced some of the growth we have.

Honestly, should we be freaking out?

Your PARENTS should be freaking out, not you. This is cyclical. When you are your parents age, you won’t be seeing stuff like this – it will be different, but not like this. If you have $1M in financial stocks – then I would say go out, buy a hat, and hold the f*ck on to it. But you don’t – so stay cool. Be a little Fonzie.