Monday, February 09, 2009

The Solution to the Economic Crisis


I am so excited - I have found the solution to the economic crisis, thanks to an article on The New Agenda, of which my daughter is a cofounder.

What is the solution? It's very simple. Women.

I know you're thinking I have finally gone off the deep end - but hear me out.

Let's start with Iceland. Iceland was famous for its financial system, which was its major industry. This fall, the headlines were full of its total collapse. In a way, it was more shocking than America's, because it was so highly regarded. The country is now teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. It's a small country, so the collapse of its major banks was a total catastrophy.

So what did Iceland do? In a recent election, it threw the men out, and women are now running the country. A new woman Prime Minister takes office next week, and she has thrown out all the good ole boys. At least half her cabinet will be women. The two major banks are now being run by women. The Prime Minister says:
"We are going to base our economic policies on prudence and responsibility, but we also stress social values, women's rights, equality and justice."

Are they nuts? Not according to research. Diverse groups do a much better job of problem solving. Wall Street has been run forever by white guys - who all look and act alike. Nowadays, however, they are looking desperately for diversity - especially women. So if you're a woman banker, now's the time to head to New York.

One study showed that elevated testosterone leads to increased risk taking. Other studies show that men are more likely to take high risks when surrounded by male peers. Women don't act like this.

Other research showed some unexpected benefits came just from women getting the right to vote, because politicians suddenly had to pay attention to what women wanted. (Imagine that!) One demonstrated benefit was increased public health measures. One professor says 20,000 lives are saved each year just because of women getting the vote.

In 2006, Muhammad Yunnus of Bangladesh was awarded the Nobel Peace Price, along with the Grameen Bank which he founded. Why? He popularized microlending - small business loans of around $200 to poverty struck people in his country (and now around the world). Over 97% of his loans go to women. Why? Women are far more likely to use their earnings on their families and to educate their children. Women are successful and pay their money back. They found when they lent to men, it was much more likely to be squandered.

Unfortunately for us, by the time we realized we were in an economic crisis, Hillary Clinton was no longer a candidate. And even more unfortunately, Obama is surrounding himself with men. He has the same number of women in his cabinet as Bush had - and only half as many as Bill Clinton. Did you notice all those guys with tax problems? I don't know about you, but that makes me nervous. The only woman with similar problems was because her husband filed separately and screwed up. You just can't trust men with money.

Message to Hillary: Send Barack to Iceland - maybe he'll learn something.

UPDATED: Today's Washington Post has an article about this very issue being discussed in England and Europe. It discusses a study showing that companies with higher percentages of women in management have weathered this crisis much better than male dominated companies. This is the lead, datelined London:

"Fred, Tom, Andy, Dennis, Eric, John, Stephen, Antonio and Paul ran British banks that lost billions of dollars. So they have been called in for a grilling by Nick, Graham, Colin, Jim, Stephen, Michael, Andrew, George, Mark, Peter, three Johns -- and a single, solitary Sally."


Jane said...

Love it! Now I wish I could find women carpenters and painters in this town. I am so tired of these lame carpenters, electricians, painters, etc. I think some of these guys take advantage of women who are single with no husband of which to answer. We need to stop being so nice to these inept handyman jerks. I recently had a bad experience with a carpenter/contractor who had been highly recommended.

The state of Obama's cabinet--sobering and disappointing. When will America be ready for a woman president? At least Hillary has a post. Obama does have two daughters--surely they will be a source of enlightenment for him--we hope.

Elizabeth said...

Yay, you found the solution.

Casey Ann for President!