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CNN IN THE MONEY
Problems Continue In France; Senators And High Cost Of Energy; Home Prices And Stock; Presidential Panel Seeks To Trim Mortgage Interest Deduction; Resumes That Cross The Line; Networks Offer On Demand Programming
Aired November 12, 2005 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: ... Annan called on Iraqi's to put aside their ethnic rivalry and participate in upcoming elections. He said the U.N. is committed to supporting the country's quest for peace and reconciliation.
Earlier Annan visited the bombed hotels in Amman, Jordan. Jordan's King Abdullah says four people carried out Wednesday's attacks. The king also confirm a husband and wife were part of the team of bombers.
Inside Iraq today, a huge sweep by Iraqi police commandos in the city of Baqubah. Iraqi authorities say several local officials were among the nearly 400 terror suspects detained in the raids. One of them is said to be the city's deputy mayor.
And in Liberia, the capital is reported calm today. Angry opponents of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who appears to have won the presidential election, clashed briefly with police yesterday. Her rival has alleged massive fraud in the elections. International observers have declared the vote fair. Official results are expected on Tuesday.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. More news at the bottom of the hour. IN THE MONEY begins right now.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the program. I'm Jack Cafferty. Coming up on today's edition of IN THE MONEY, overseas and under fire, three hotels run by U.S. companies were targeted by suicide bombers in Amman, Jordan this week. We'll look how safe American businesses abroad really are.
Plus, rich pickings. Oil bosses have been getting a grilling in the Senate over their fat profits. See why big oil just might deserve every penny, and why the senators asking these questions are more than a little bit hypocritical.
And the great American write-off. Some people treat the mortgage interest deduction like it is one of this country's sacred cows. We're going to hear from a man who says it's time to turn this cow into some hamburgers.
Joining me today a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans, CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz and "Fortune" magazine Editor-at-large Andy Serwer. Well, you've got to hand it to the French. They only tore up the cities in that country -- 275 of them - for, what, a week and a half before the government finally decided to allow the local mayors to declare some curfews and begin arresting these mutants who are going around lighting fires and burning everybody's property. The question is, why does it take a week and a half to address rioting that has spread all over your country?
ANDY SERWER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Well you know, you're never going to get appointed ambassador to France. We've known that for a while. I was wondering where you were going to come off on this. I mean here's a person who's very critical of the French and also critical of Muslims committing violent acts. Who are you rooting for here, the water cannons?
CAFFERTY: Well, come on. You know, Jacques Chirac was strutting around telling the rest of the world everything it ought to be doing about all kinds of international problems three years ago. And they start burning up his cities and he sits on his thumbs for a week and a half without doing anything.
SERWER: It is only 300 cars a night.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jack, as you know you've forgiven me for actually going on vacation for two weeks in France. What a beautiful country. I drove all around.
LISOVICZ: You were there before the fires.
SERWER: You were not exactly in those neighborhoods.
LISOVICZ: You see on the buildings everywhere in Paris, liberty, equality, fraternity -- you know the goals that were articulated after the revolution. The government clearly has not done a good job addressing the very sizable population of the immigrant community that lives in a different world. Quite literally, you do not see the poor people.
CAFFERTY: They did a lousy job of addressing the violence that is threatening everybody else's lives and welfare in the country.
LISOVICZ: Fortunately it does seem to be subsiding.
CAFFERTY: Well I think because they ran out of matches.
SERWER: Ran out cars.
CAFFERTY: There are no more cars to burn, they burned all the cars. Got to love them.
This week's bombings in Amman, Jordan turned U.S. owned businesses and customers into targets for suicide bombers. Al- Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq group claimed responsibility for attacking three hotels in Amman -- the Grand Hyatt, Days Inn and Radisson SAS.
Al-Zarqawi is waging a campaign against Jordan's monarchy, and most of the casualties were Jordanian. One of these mutants blew up a wedding. But even if the attacks weren't aimed at American business alone, they do raise some serious questions about how safe U.S. companies are abroad, and how to go about making them safer.
And for a look at that we're going to talk with Jules Kroll, who is the founder of Kroll Inc., which is a risk consultant company. Mr. Kroll, nice to have you with us.
JULES KROLL, FOUNDER, KROLL INC.: Good morning.
CAFFERTY: What is the significance of the fact that three U.S. hotels, U.S.-owned hotels were targeted in Amman, Jordan? I mean there are a lot of things there about Jordan, Jordan's ties to the U.S., Jordan's relations to Israel. How do you read the tea leaves on the picking of these three soft targets?
KROLL: Well it's pretty simple. Cowards always attack those things most vulnerable. In Jordan, they've got ripe targets. They're American targets. Jordan has been an ally with a huge Palestinian population. And all these people want to do is disrupt and cause mayhem. That's the purpose of terror.
LISOVICZ: Mr. Kroll, clearly it would be more effective -- and we put that in quotes -- for these maniacs to go after a U.S. company in the U.S. If you were advising a U.S. hotel chain, a mall, an arena, what would you tell them to be doing right now?
KROLL: In the United States or overseas?
LISOVICZ: In the U.S.
KROLL: Well, the fact is, we live in a wide-open society. Virtually every hotel, every building in this country is subject to this kind of attack. We live in an open society. And most facilities in this country are completely unprotected.
SERWER: Jules, let me ask you about overseas switching back. I mean you got a couple different kinds of companies that have tremendous exposure abroad, U.S. companies. First of all, the hotels we are looking at there, obviously all over the place. And fast food is another area. You've got the McDonald's attacked in France recently just the other day. KFC, Taco Bell. You've got Starbucks all over the place. What should those companies be doing? And are you advising them? Are they seeking out help from people like yourself who can help them?
KROLL: Well, particularly since 9/11 after every crisis, there is a period of time in which people pay more attention to this issue. But the reality is, most facilities are vulnerable. You can harden them somewhat, but most of them for example are right at curbside. They are absolutely vulnerable no matter what you do. They're absolutely vulnerable to car bombing or truck bombing attacks which seems to be the most typical way other than suicide bombers who gain entree into the hotel on an individual basis. There's not a lot that can be done except as it relates to your own employees where you screen them, where you liaise with the local police and intelligence services and hope for the best.
CAFFERTY: What can you do if you're an American business traveler, and particularly if your travel takes you to places like the Middle East?
KROLL: Well, the people in those countries, the governments of those countries -- and I'm hopeful the Jordanians have a serious military, serious police and a serious intelligence service. Americans are not safe, are not safe there at this time. Hopefully, those countries will do something about this because only in these countries do they have the solution to solve their own problem. We cannot do it as private citizens, unfortunately.
LISOVICZ: The fact that these bombings took place in Jordan with a huge Palestinian population, does that say anything to you about the desperation of these people that, in fact, that they may be struggling quite a bit to do something that would be more effective against western interests here?
KROLL: Well, I don't see them desperate. I don't see them struggling. I think they are playing to an audience that is the Muslim street, and they want to flex their power. They may have miscalculated here because they killed a lot of their own people. And this is a government that I don't think will be like some of the other governments taking this in a passive manner. But I don't think they're desperate. They're very carefull (ph) and very strategic.
SERWER: Jules quick last question. Say you have been hired by Hilton, and they ask you about their properties in the Middle East, in Saudi Arabia, in Lebanon. Would you tell them to close them down?
KROLL: That's a business judgment. If they ask me a different question, are they vulnerable, I would say yes. And if they ask me the question, can they harden some of the facilities they have given their locations, there are things that can be done tackily. All you're doing is improving your odds, but the odds are stacked against us.
LISOVICZ: It's a dangerous world. Jules Kroll, executive chairman of the company that bears his name, thank you for joining us.
KROLL: Thank you.
LISOVICZ: And remember to stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.
When we come back, pony up. Stick around for some reasons to actually feel good about helping oil companies rack up big profits.
And later, if the rich get richer, what do you get? See if the mortgage interest deduction is the big bargain so many people think it is.
And you asked for it. Find out if network moves to bring you video on demand could make you let go of your TiVo.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CAFFERTY: If you think gas prices are out of control, they're coming down a little bit right now. They got pretty ridiculous there a few weeks back. Watching some oil company fat cat getting grilled in Congress this week might have made you just warm and fuzzy all over. The Senate hearings aimed at getting big oil to account for its big profits. The hypocrisy of these hearings is absolutely mind-boggling.
If you think these profits are about greed, our next guest thinks maybe we should think about it again. Russell Roberts is a distinguished scholar at the Merkata Center, professor of economics at George Mason University. And we are delighted, Mr. Roberts, to welcome you to our tidy little program here IN THE MONEY. Nice to have you with us.
Am I missing something here? These are the same senators that just voted on a huge energy bill that contains tax cuts for the oil companies. This is the same bunch of senators that voted on an energy bill that made no effort to address gasoline consumption in this country at all. Now they are all sitting there posturing for the cameras saying how come the companies are making so much money. I mean, what's wrong with this picture?
RUSSELL ROBERTS, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: The Senate always has great theater, doesn't it? Different guys saying the same thing over and over again. It was -- it's a bizarre and surreal spectacle with a lot of noise and not much light.
SERWER: So Russell, I don't think there's a chance in heck that we're going to get a windfall profits tax, right? That's dead on arrival, right?
ROBERTS: I don't know. I think it should be dead on arrival. I think it is a bad idea. We tried it once before. It discouraged energy production. And it's the last thing we want to do is discourage companies from going out and finding more energy.
Down the road, a windfall profits tax is going to punish consumers rather than helping them down the road. It is a bad idea.
LISOVICZ: Professor, what about those very tough questions about the profit margins that oil industries make? I don't want to get a lot of hate mail from viewers that I'm a defender of big oil. On the other hand, wouldn't that be a slippery slope? Wouldn't you then have to go after the big profit margins that retailers make, for instance?
ROBERTS: Sure. There are a lot of industries that are more profitable than oil. I don't think we want to go after any of them, and we don't want to give handouts to companies and industries that have low rates of return. You have to remember that high profits are good for consumers. Not right now, but high profits are what give businesses the incentive to invest.
Oil and other industries are very capital intensive, very expensive to make those investments. We all know if you take off the high returns when you're investing, your incentive to invest goes down. So the last thing we want to do is to tell oil companies you can't make a lot of money because they'll just invest less and that's a mistake.
CAFFERTY: What should be done if we are serious about addressing the compensation of big oil? In other words, where is the national political will to make some serious effort at curbing consumption, at developing alternative energy sources, at doing something besides sitting around whining because the companies are making a buck because oil is a finite resource and we at this point don't have any other options about things to put in our cars and heat our homes with?
ROBERTS: Well remember, this is basically a short-run phenomenon. High prices, the spike we saw a month or so ago was due to Katrina. To pierce supply (ph) and demand effect, the overall level prices that are relatively high now is due to the fact that China and India are industrializing and using a lot of energy. And that is going to push prices up.
We have to be careful when we look at solutions to those kind of problems. The last energy bill is just a grab bag of goodies for various lobbies, big oil, small oil, small ethanol, and big ethanol. A lot of that has a lot of political payoff and doesn't really help us as consumers. I don't think we want to discourage people from consuming gasoline artificially. We like driving, we like the benefits of driving. We want to make sure there's a stable supply of energy down the road. Who's best at doing that? I think it is the companies with that profit motive rather than the halls of Congress.
So the last thing I think we ought to be doing is giving out special goodies, because when you give out special goodies, what that does is tell oil producers and those ethanol producers and farmers, spend more time in the halls of Congress and less time finding energy. So I want to get rid of artificial subsidies and artificial taxes on both sides of the ledger and let them stand on their own two feet, I don't want them coming to us for hand outs when they have tough times which they will, it is a very cyclical industry and I don't want us pandering to bad economics and polling date of today and trying to take money from them when they're having a good time.
SERWER: Right. I mean leaving aside small ethanol for a moment which is a nice phrase, what about transparency though with regard to gas prices? What about putting at gas pumps, what percent goes to taxes, what percent is marketing, what percent is the markup? Wouldn't that be helpful? You do that in a cable bill or a phone bill. Why can't the oil companies or gas stations do that? That would help, wouldn't it?
ROBERTS: Well they used to do it; they used to post the taxes. I think the reason they don't, I'm not sure why that changed. That did change. Taxes vary at the state level quite dramatically across states. A lot of states, you know one of the highlights of that hearing -- they were very few -- and one of the highlights was Senator Craig saying why are prices in Idaho higher than Washington?
Well I don't know the answer. He didn't get an answer. But the place to look is taxes and special regulations that make it more expensive to get Idahoians gasoline. But you are right. It would be nice to have a little more transparency. LISOVICZ: Is there any light at the end of the tunnel here, Professor? I mean we obviously did not learn anything after the price shock in the early '80s. When we do have record highs, as we did in early September, people consume less energy. They're starting to buy hybrids. Consumers are actually starting to move the market. Do you think this is a short-lived phenomenon? Do you think we'll go back to our gas guzzling ways now that oil, crude has come down about 18 percent since the highs of Katrina?
ROBERTS: And the price of gasoline has come down more than that. My local station is down from a high of $3.50 to about $2.30. That's a really dramatic reduction.
People do respond to incentives. They respond to those high prices and they'll respond when they're lower, they are going to use more gasoline. Nothing inherently wrong with that. I think we did learn something in the late '70s and early '80s, which is price controls are a very bad way to reduce the price of gasoline. The best way to reduce the price of gasoline is to let the market work, and if it turns out that means higher prices, that's fine too.
SERWER: All right. We've got to leave it at that. Russell Roberts, professor of economics at George Mason University. Thank you for coming on the program.
ROBERTS: My pleasure.
SERWER: Coming up after the break, hold that McMansion. With homebuilder Toll Brothers warning the Street, see how the stock is doing.
Plus, how to stand out from the crowd. One big dumb mistake in a resume will do the trick.
And it turns out dessert is just the appetizer. Meet a woman who turned retirement into the start of a new career. Our "Life after Work" segment is still ahead.
LISOVICZ: Now let's take a look at the week's top stories in our "Money Minute." The oil price domino effect is in gear. Kraft Foods says it's increasing prices on many products by about 4 percent because of rising energy costs. Kraft is the nation's biggest food manufacturer. But don't expect to see the change reflected in government inflation reports, because they exclude most food prices.
The U.S. trade gap hit a record $66 billion in September, but there could be some changes ahead as the U.S. and China did agree to a three-year deal to cut back on China's booming textile shipments to America. The agreement covers lower cost clothing like socks and T- shirts.
And they get you coming and going. We're all used to paying a small transaction when we will withdraw money from another bank's ATM. But it turns out Bank of America is also charging a denial fee. That means if you try to withdraw more than you have in your account, not only will you be denied, you'll also be charged a fee. Bank of America says that denial feel only applies when you use another bank's ATM.
SERWER: Luxury home builder Toll Brothers blew cold air on the hot housing market this week when it downgraded its sales outlook for 2006. The companies blaming higher mortgage rates for softer demand. Toll Brothers shares have had an up and then down year. They shot up nicely through the middle of July but they have been dropping ever since. That makes Toll Brothers our "Stock of the Week".
You know, this has been one of the great stock plays of the past five years, past 15 years. Toll Brothers was a single-digit stock in 1991 that went up to about $60. It's all about this incredible boom in housing. People have been saying it's going to end. Well, maybe it's finally here, but maybe.
LISOVICZ: Well we've seen -- we've certainly seen housing sales slow down a bit. A lot of folks say that's not such a bad thing. It's a more sustainable rate. But to your point about the stock price, which hit an all-time high in July, executives were selling the stock in July, too.
SERWER: Well they're smart.
LISOVICZ: And maybe they know something.
CAFFERTY: This train's had a long ride. Trees don't go to the sky. Is it time to get a basket of these things and start shorting them here?
SERWER: Well I know some people that did, and especially started shorting it once it was on the covers of the magazine. I think "New York Times" Magazine did a story about them; some guy that shorted made a whole bunch of money. Interestingly though, these stocks are already pretty cheap. I mean they're going down, but they have got price earnings multiples of about eight.
So they're selling for about eight times earnings. It's not like these things are going to collapse completely. And people have been saying these guys are going to go down for a long, long time. I just wonder, the other thing I wonder about this particular company, Toll Brothers, is that they sell homes for $700,000.
CAFFERTY: This is up end.
SERWER: Right. It's mostly on the East Coast. So you wonder how indicative is this of the overall market? I mean is KB Homes going to have the same thing, Lenar -- all those. You know they are all a little bit different, and housing is a very regional market.
LISOVICZ: But you mentioned two things, $700,000 in East Coast. And $700,000 on the East Coast, as we all know, is a starter home. You're lucky if you have indoor plumbing.
LISOVICZ: That ain't bad. Maybe we'd better go over to Susan's house. CAFFERTY: When it comes to investing advice here on IN THE MONEY, it should be pointed out that when Google came out, I think it was $125 a share, we collectively sat here on this program and said in six months, you'll be able to buy it for $60 bucks. Now it's $400. And if we really knew what the hell we were talking about, we wouldn't be sitting here talking to you right now, would we?
LISOVICZ: Very good point, Jack.
SERWER: Could be. We'll find out. We'll find out. All right. Let's leave it at that I think.
Coming up on IN THE MONEY, baseball, apple pie and the mortgage interest deduction. Some people treat that tax break like an American birthright. See if most of us would be better off by simply getting rid of it.
Plus, you're looking for a job. Not to date people. We'll hear about some who revealed a little too much on their resumes.
And send a note to your future self. This is cool. Our "Fun Site of the Week" is a do it yourself time capsule. We'll show you how to get there.
WHITFIELD: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. A quick look at the stories "Now in the News".
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is urging Iraq's divided factions to reconcile before mid December's scheduled parliamentary elections. Annan is in Baghdad on an unannounced visit today. He met with top Iraqi officials, political and community leaders and U.N. staffers there. Annan says the U.N. fully supports efforts to bring peace to Iraq.
Jordan's King Abdullah tells CNN four people including a husband and wife team carried out this week's deadly hotel suicide bombings in Amman. A Jordanian government official says the terror group al Qaeda in Iraq was behind the attacks. Wednesday's explosions killed 57 people. More than 90 others were hurt.
Iraqi police commandos raided an area of Baqubah earlier this morning. They detained more than 380 people. They include the city's deputy mayor, a city council member, and a college dean who was a member of the Islamic party. The Islamic party has condemned the raids. Iraqi police say residents are giving them crucial information to help capture terrorists.
I will have all the days' news at the top of hour. Now back to more of IN THE MONEY.
LISOVICZ: Life, liberty, and the right to deduct your mortgage interest from your taxes. For generations of homeowners that tax break has been a given. Now, however, a presidential panel is saying it may be time to trim this deduction. Reaction has ranged from outrage to fury.
You might be surprised that our next guest says it's not such a bad idea. Robert Reich is a former Labor secretary under President Clinton. He is now a professor at Brandeis University. Welcome back, Mr. Secretary.
ROBERT REICH, FMR. SECRETARY OF LABOR: Hi, Susan. First of all, it's not going to happen. Don't worry; it's not going to happen. This is dead on arrival.
LISOVICZ: All right. But before we get to that, I mean is it really just reserved for the wealthy? It's for -- written for up to $1.1 million. You're coming to us from Boston. I'm coming to you from New York. I mean that's nothing these days in big cities.
REICH: You and I and the California, there are a lot of high priced areas. This is the one recommendation that came out of the president's commission on tax reform that I think really does make sense. They don't want to get rid of all the tax advantages of mortgage interest, they want to just limit it. They want to just change it a little bit so it doesn't have such a distorting effect that most of the benefits as they are now go to people who are quite rich.
Look, Susan, one-third of the people in this country don't have houses. They don't own their houses. They rent. They don't get anything out of the current mortgage interest deduction at all.
Another huge group of people, two-thirds of everybody who pays taxes, they don't itemize their deductions. Most of them are homeowners. They don't itemize. They get nothing out of the home interest deduction. Most of that home interest deduction which costs about $63 billion a year to the Treasury Department in lost revenue, everybody else has to make it up -- that goes to very rich people.
CAFFERTY: What is the idea of this so-called simplified tax -- set of tax recommendations? The president of the United States gave these guys kind of carte blanche the way I understood his instructions. Go do something to make the tax code of this country readable and simple and let's do something about this the system that only is designed to keep lawyers and accountants and people like that employed.
Poring over the five million words that are in the current tax code and they come back with this basket of nonsense that nobody can understand. And the thing that sticks out and one of the reasons it's dead on arrival is the subject we're talking about here. You can't get a senator or congressman in his right mind that is going to vote to overturn my mortgage interest rate deduction.
REICH: It's not going to happen. A lot of this is for show. The president wants to show that tax reform is on the agenda. He comes up with a commission, makes a lot of reports.
It's very hard, by the way, to square simplification with fairness. What is simple is often unfair. What is very fair in terms of people who don't have much income paying a smaller proportion of their income than people who have a lot of income tends to be complicated. So inevitably there's going to be a lot of tension between simplification and fairness.
The main thing here is although nothing is going to happen with these recommendations, this one on the mortgage interest actually is pretty good and eventually it may actually come to pass or something like it. You see what happens with tax reform, is most people don't pay attention -- it kind of seeps into the Washington atmosphere. A lot of specialists, tax reform specialists, eventually people on the staff for senators and congressmen. Eventually they hear about it, they think about it, they get feedback from all kinds of people, and maybe three, four, five years later if it is a good idea it may find its way into legislation.
SERWER: Professor, I understand your argument that the mortgage deduction is a regressive policy. In other words, it hurts poor people more than rich people. So why haven't liberals or Democrats complained about this more? Why didn't you guys address it during the Clinton administration, for instance?
REICH: Well because it's motherhood and apple pie. Mortgage interest deduction, are you kidding me? Everybody thinks it's wonderful. All I'm saying to you is that if you take a close look at it, a close look at it, you actually find that it benefits people very rich, most people who have moderate income, average working people, the poor don't get anything out of it.
It cost $65 billion for the Treasury. The entire budget, the entire budget of the Housing and Urban Development Department that provides low-income housing is $35 billion. I mean it's just a fraction of what we spend -- essentially spend, I'm talking about what the Treasury basically gives up in terms of mortgage interest deduction.
The reason politicians don't want to get close to this because it is another third rail in politics. Most people think they get a big deal out of the mortgage interest deduction. And again the recommendation here is not to get rid of it, it is to change it and limit it so it doesn't just help basically rich people.
LISOVICZ: OK, so Mr. Secretary, let's pretend that the simplification or the reform of the tax code really will actually happen. What would you recommend for a mortgage deductible? Like for instance should it be for people who earn under a certain amount or first-time homebuyers? How could we make it more equitable?
REICH: Well I think the recommendation of the commission is pretty good. They say, you take all of your mortgage interest that is eligible for mortgage interest deduction and instead of deducting it from your income, you just take 15 percent of it and that 15 percent is a tax credit. It's right off the top of your taxes. So everybody essentially who takes let's say a $10,000 mortgage interest deduction gets the same treatment.
CAFFERTY: What about the argument that says this thing is an incentive for first-time homebuyers? That if I can manage to scrape together my down payment, I no longer have to pay rent and I get a little bit of a break because I can deduct my mortgage interest from my tax return. So in addition to building up my equity in the house that I buy, I get a little break April 15.
REICH: It's a good argument and you would still -- according to this recommendation you would still get the break. But instead of it being an interest deduction, it would be a tax credit, which is much more to you. Remember tax credits come right off your tax, dollar for dollar. And mortgage interest or and any deduction is off the amount of money that you would otherwise pay taxes on.
SERWER: And wouldn't it hurt housing prices if this were to come to pass? It would just roil the markets, wouldn't it?
REICH: Oh the mortgage lenders they are just going crazy. You can hear them.
SERWER: The sky is falling.
REICH: I'm here up in Massachusetts and I can hear them from here in Washington. Look it, they're all worried about this. They love the mortgage interest deduction. They think it does have a lot to do with mortgage prices. No. Most of the studies show if it has any effect on housing prices, it would only have a slightly negative effect on prices -- housing prices are very, very high, I mean you are talking about $2, $3, $4 million homes.
CAFFERTY: Mr. Secretary, I appreciate you making time for us here on IN THE MONEY. I thank you for coming on the program.
REICH: Thank you.
CAFFERTY: Robert Reich, professor at Brandeis University, former U.S. secretary of Labor.
More to come on this tidy little business program. Coming up next, paper tigers. Some resume writers take the aggressive job- hunting thing a little too far. There are some real mutants out there. All you have to do is read these resumes. Cringe along with us. We will check on something called resumes from hell.
The networks make a bid for you to veto the TiVo. Allen Wastler of MONEY.com will tell us about this week's moves toward video on demand.
SERWER: A Scorpio born in the year of the ox spiritually fit seriously likes non-popular music and classic sports, especially tennis. Not bad for a personal ad but this spiritual Scorpio isn't looking for love; he is looking for a job. His resume is just one of many "Resumes from Hell" immortalized in the book of the same name.
Co-author Rachel Meyers joins us now. Rachel, welcome to the program. Everyone knows the line speaks French and they didn't really speak French. But we're talking about people who are just way over the line here. Do they think they can get away with it?
RACHEL MEYERS, CO-AUTHOR, "RESUMES FROM HELL": I think they do. I don't think people realize how quickly they have to make an impression on a hiring manager, and how quickly that impression can go wrong.
LISOVICZ: Oh, yes, oh, yes. Yes, you provide many samples. Let's go to one of the ones that struck me. It's always good to be confident in your resume, but you should do it in a certain way, like you should quantify your skill. You shouldn't be outright beating your chest.
MEYERS: Absolutely true.
LISOVICZ: Like the one that talks about I have done nothing but amaze my employers every step of the way.
MEYERS: That's right. We call that the show me don't tell me resume. People don't like to be told that you're amazing. I want to hear about why you're amazing. Show me how you're amazing. I'll decide if you're amazing or not.
LISOVICZ: This is an actual resume.
MEYERS: Oh absolutely. These are all actual resumes.
SERWER: Susan's amazing, Rachel, take my word for it.
LISOVICZ: I did not write this resume.
SERWER: She's amazing.
CAFFERTY: It has nothing to do with her resume.
Where did you find these idiots? I mean all you have to do is go on the computer and you can find out how to write a resume. Or you can call an old high school teacher or knock on your next-door neighbor's door and say can I look at a copy. I mean who are these morons that you dug up for this thing?
MEYERS: Surprisingly, we didn't have to do any digging. They came to us. We were recruiters for many years. We worked for a major Web site where hundreds of resumes came in every day. And we collected all of the bad ones.
SERWER: People do this stuff. I mean, there have been questions about Mike Brown's resume, the head of FEMA. George O'Leary, the prospective coach of Notre Dame football apparently fudged his. It's just amazing that people try to get away with this stuff. And then they stay stupid things like have passport and don't use tobacco or firearms. I love that one. That's terrific, thank you.
MEYERS: What's great with that one, is that he actually used it as a header on every page of his resume. That's how important those topics were to him.
LISOVICZ: Packed and ready to go. But you know there's another resume from hell where one talks about salary. It's OK to talk about salary, but maybe in the interview, right?
MEYERS: That's right.
LISOVICZ: Not right in the resume.
MEYERS: That's right. Save it for the interview, save it for the negotiation. A lot of people do list their salary histories on their resume -- too much too soon.
LISOVICZ: Right. One actually has the gall to set the parameters. Won't work for this. Will work for as much as this.
MEYERS: That is right. That makes me wonder who's applying to who.
CAFFERTY: Will read for food.
That's what we do here at CNN. We read scripts for food. What kind of job was the person flying for who said have passport, don't use tobacco or firearms? What sort of work did he want to do?
MEYERS: Actually a lot of these people are computer programmers, because we were working on software industry.
CAFFERTY: I don't get the connection at all. How do you do the dots on that one?
MEYERS: Yes, the '90s were a time of great arrogance for computer programmers. They thought they could get away with a lot on resumes.
SERWER: You know we do stories in "Fortune" Magazine Rachel. A lot of times we catch these CEOs doing this stuff. A lot of times people will make up two things, combat experience, well I was in Vietnam. No you weren't, you weren't there. Another one we always find, not very often but sometimes, I played a little minor league baseball.
SERWER: We check up.
MEYERS: Little league.
SERWER: We check up. You know they say they played minor league baseball, they didn't play. Why do people feel compelled to do this? Why do people fudge like that?
MEYERS: I think that people want to insert a lot of personality into their resumes. They feel like they want to be known, not just as their job but as a whole person. So they make the mistake of putting all this personnel information not just in their resumes but in their cover letters, in their e-mails, in voice mails. And these days you have to really think about if your prospective employer Googles your name, what are they going to find?
LISOVICZ: Even if it's true or not, it's I think what you call, Rachel, the who cares factor. I personally know many of the presidents and military leaders of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. I mean do you really want this person to work for you even if it's true?
MEYERS: Well that one makes me wonder why this person is sending their resume to me if they have all of these great connections.
SERWER: They could be their own dictator.
MEYERS: Call Castro. Maybe he could get you a job.
CAFFERTY: We are almost out of time. But help me out here, help me put my resume together. How should I do it so that I got a shot at maybe getting an interview and then I got a shot of maybe getting a job?
MEYERS: Sure. Well I can give you a few quick tips. One thing that I always tell people to do is quantify their skills in terms of money, whether it's revenue you generated, money you saved. You can quantify it in terms of time saved. Customers served. This can apply to CEOs or waitresses. Anybody can quantify their skills.
So that's a great thing to keep in mine when writing your resume. Also to always make sure that you include a cover letter. My co-author John Reed, he won't even look at your resume if you haven't included a cover letter. It's an opportunity to show the employer that you've done your research on them and you know how you're going to fit in.
LISOVICZ: We are going to have to leave it at that. But thank you for alternately amusing us and horrifying us. Rachel Meyers co-author "Resumes from Hell," it truly lives up to its title. Thanks for joining us.
MEYERS: Thank you.
LISOVICZ: There's more ahead on IN THE MONEY. Up next, firing on all burners. Meet a retiree who decided that retirement was the right time to get cooking.
And if you've got plans for a change when you retire or you just want to sound off, send us an email about it. The address INTHEMONEY@CNN.com.
LISOVICZ: In our "Life After Work" segment today, defining retirement. It can mean different things to different people. Some scrimp and save their whole working lives to sit on a quiet beach somewhere or perfect their golf game. But others have something else in mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISOVICZ (voice over): When it came time for retirement, Carol McCormick wanted to do something really different.
CAROL MCCORMICK, BAKER: We have friends that have retired. And we don't understand how they can just stay in the same place and do the same thing and we're just different I guess. We always want change.
LISOVICZ: At 57, McCormick left a career in health care to go back to school. She spent two years at the Culinary Institute of America living in the dorms with the younger students while her husband lived at home with their son. She undertook a full degree program and discovered her enthusiasm for baking.
MCCORMICK: You almost become very competitive at school because culinary they just throw it together. A little bit here, a little bit there, throw it together. Bakers have to be precise. You have to measure. It takes longer.
LISOVICZ: McCormick used her retirement savings and some student loans to cover the tuition and get her associate's degree. With her new qualifications, she moves with her retired husband to Jackson, New Hampshire, where she was offered a job as a baker at The Red Fox Restaurant.
MCCORMICK: I think they were sitting back waiting to see if I was going to be able to hold my own. So I lift my own 50-pounds bags of flour and dump them and don't ask anybody to help me. You have to get used to the kitchens, you have to get use to the people that you work with, because you're the new kid on the block.
LISOVICZ: McCormick works full-time as a baker now but doesn't see her job as work.
MCCORMICK: I'm just doing something that I like to do and I'm having a good time doing it. So I don't know what retirement really feels like, but I always thought of retirement as doing something that you really want to do, whether you're getting a paycheck or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LISOVICZ: Next week on our "Life After Work" series, we'll introduce you to a retired couple living the high life. They've picked up a new hobby in their retirement hang gliding and they do it daily. We'll have their story next week.
CAFFERTY: Can't wait to meet those folks. Coming up next on IN THE MONEY, it's time to hear from you as we read some of your emails from the past week.
Also ahead, drop yourself a line. You can pick it up 10 years or so down the road. The "Fun Site of the Week" will help you create your own digital time capsule. And you can send us an email right now if you want to. We are at INTHEMONEY@CNN.com. We actually have some moron on the staff who reads this stuff and will send you a response.
LISOVICZ: A very nice guy.
CAFFERTY: NBC and CBS, those other lesser known networks besides CNN, announced this week that they're going to start offering viewers on demand programming for 99 cents per show. But is this an act of innovation or perhaps an act of desperation? That's the focus of Money.com Managing Editor Allen Wastler's "Inside Out" this week. What up with that?
ALLEN WASTLER, MANAGING EDITOR, MONEY.COM: Well you see when they announced that, everybody was how innovative, they are on the cutting edge. It follows ABC a few weeks before saying we've got to deal with apples, we are going to download with that. But I smell -- I smell fear at the broadcast networks because think about this.
They've been fighting TiVos and the DVRs and that whole on slot of technology where people can just race through the commercials and watch the parts they want. That's what I do with my TiVo. That means when they turn to the advertiser and say you going to re-up for a new season, and the advertiser says why? Nobody is watching commercials, they are all TiVoing it and going right through.
So the TV guys, the broadcast guys have to think we need to diversify our revenue base a bit. We are not going to be able to stop this onslaught of technology. So they're trying to transfer some of the revenue base and getting subscriptions coming in. Bet it's opening up a whole nest of other problems for them. First of all, you're taking off the affiliates now, because all of a sudden you're going to offer primetime shows on demand for 99 cents a piece. Why bother watching the local guy at all.
CAFFERTY: Local news.
WASTLER: It's also going to get you into a whole cost question because all the actors, little production companies, outfits that put the show together say hey, 99, 50 cents of that should be mine. They all want a piece. Also, it's going to get them into more debates with the FCC. Why? On demand, can you show me the real "Desperate Housewives," the one with a little bit more punch in there? Add some more scenes.
CAFFERTY: The question that occurs to me, are people willing to pay to watch IN THE MONEY? Without the commercials? If you are, you can send the money to me. I'll make sure it gets where it's supposed to go. What do you think?
WASTLER: Now that's innovation.
LISOVICZ: I think we want a little piece of the action, too.
SERWER: He's just steering it.
CAFFERTY: I'm going to be overseer. What's the "Fun Site of the Week?"
WASTLER: We found this wonderful little site sort of like a time capsule site where you can arrange to send yourself an email in one year.
CAFFERTY: We're not self-absorbed enough in this country.
WASTLER: Right. You can do everything. But what you didn't know was we already had the service going way back in the '90s. We've already sent ourselves some emails. Susan, let's start with your email.
LISOVICZ: I was a baby then.
WASTLER: By this time, if all goes according to plan, I will be reporting for CNN in New York and co-anchoring a weekend program with Jack Cafferty and Andy Serwer. A girl can dream, can't she? Five years ago, you sent this email, Andy.
SERWER: I did?
WASTLER: Let's hope they've sorted out the whole Florida recount mess by now so the markets can get back to business. Speaking of business, I wonder if anything ever became of that little internet company I just heard about called Google.
SERWER: I wish I had.
WASTLER: Now, Jack, we couldn't go back that far with you. I mean you did it like one week ago. It says, I hope I even have time to read this, because by the time another week goes by, the situation room will probably be a 24 hour seven day a week program.
SERWER: It should be.
CAFFERTY: I don't know if it should be or not. That is interesting because you can actually do that and go back and read it in ten years.
WASTLER: You go back and they'll send you an e-mail in ten years.
CAFFERTY: Time now to read your answers to our question of the week about whether you think your employer might eliminate your health benefits in the coming years.
Gregory wrote this: "I'm worried all of our health benefits will be eliminated because of rising costs for corporation. But that is like throwing the baby out with the bath water. When will our politicians realize that we need national health insurance to keep our economy moving?"
Carol wrote: "I'm not worried because I totally expect my employer to eliminate benefits. People need to remember that benefits are just that, benefits, and not a right. Let's all get real and take responsibility for ourselves."
LISOVICZ: Top management speaking there.
CAFFERTY: Mike wrote this: "I'm not worried because I am self insured and my costs actually have been going down. When you check things out on your own and talk with your doctors you'll find that many medical costs aren't as big as the insurance companies would like you to believe."
Now for next week's email "Question of the Week", which is this. Have you ever made a bad impression when applying for a job? Be honest, we promise not to use your last name. You can send your answers to INTHEMONEY@CNN.com. You should also visit our show page at MONEY.com/inthemoney, which is where you will find the address of our "Fun Site of the Week."
On that note, we thank you for joining us for this edition of IN THE MONEY. My thanks to CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz and "Fortune" Magazine Editor-at-large Andy Serwer, and Money.com Managing Editor Allen Wastler.
We will see you back here next Saturday at 1:00, Sunday at 3:00. Hope to see you then. Until then enjoy the rest of your weekend.
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