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Not All in Congress Believe Economy Is Healthy; Financial Pressure for Super Bowl Heroes; Where is the Oil Market Headed?

Aired February 3, 2007 - 12:58   ET


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks. Coming up on "IN THE MONEY," crunch time. See if the middle class financial squeeze is for real. Plus from priceless to useless, find out why we'll spend big on products that aren't built to last. And yesterday's heroes. We'll look at a new drive to help some former Super Bowl stars get by. All that and more after a quick check of the headlines.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And here are those headlines.

President Bush has issued a disaster declaration for the four counties in Florida. At least 20 people died when severe thunderstorms and at least one tornado his central Florida yesterday. The clean-up continues today.

And the death count now stands at 121 after a suicide bombing in central Baghdad. Iraqi officials say 373 other people have been hurt. They say some victims are still trapped under the rubble. It is the deadliest attack in Iraq in more than two months.

And a visit to the opposition camp for President Bush today. He spoke to House Democrats meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia. He said the U.S. commitment to Iraq is not open-ended and declared that the Iraqi government needs to show strong leadership.

And fire in Philadelphia. A restaurant and nightclub burning today in the Old City section of Philly. The building popular with tourists was home to the Five Spot Lounge and Peek-A-Boo Burlesque Revue. The choking smoke forced residents out of nearby apartments as well.

And bird flu hits Britain -- 2,500 turkeys have died at a farm in eastern England. Officials say there is no public health threat. While there are long-running fears the strain could mutate, the current form only threatens humans who handle infected birds.

More gunfire in Gaza, gunshots echo through Gaza City again today despite a cease-fire between the two rival Palestinian political factions, Hamas and Fatah. Fatah sources say at least eight Palestinians have been injured today.

We'll update the top stories at the bottom of the hour. Now time for IN THE MONEY, you're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

VELSHI: Welcome to IN THE MONEY. I'm Ali Velshi. Coming up on today's program, stuck in the middle. President Bush says the economy is healthy but not everyone in Congress is buying it. We will look at who's right.

Also ahead, reading the dipstick. Figuring out where the oil market is headed can be a full-time job. So we'll talk to a guy who has that job and he'll tell us what we need to know hopefully.

And squeeze play. A lot of yesterday's Super Bowl heroes are under financial pressure today. Find out how one group plans to help them out.

Joining me today, Jennifer Westhoven and "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" correspondent Christine Romans. It has been an incredibly busy week ending on a sad note with the tornados hitting Florida. We saw a great deal of devastation out of that.

JENNIFER WESTHOVEN, "HEADLINE NEWS" CORRESPONDENT: A day lot of people in Florida would like to forget. It does seem to be at this point limited to a certain area. So what you don't have is something like Katrina where you can't get supplies in. So it seems like these people are going to be quickly be able to get help --

VELSHI: And building materials.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" CORRESPONDENT: That is right and we watch to see how companies respond of course, because after Katrina and after other disasters especially in the southeast you've often seen those companies come in and they have better transportation logistics and in many cases emergency logistics than the federal government. So we'll see just how quickly they get supplies in there and whether there are disruptions that hurt companies or whether companies are actually able to leverage that.

One thing that is interesting in the wake of Katrina we did a lot of research about living dangerously, people in the United States moving to areas like central Florida. And you have got huge population increases along the whole southern corridor there, even as sea temperatures arguably rise and we've got obviously hurricanes and tornados and coastal communities that are right in the path. It is interesting to keep an eye on that for economic purposes as we go forward.

WESTHOVEN: Despite all the news we had this week about global warming and climate change, there are a lot of scientists who argue that the government to get caught up in that argument is ridicules, they have to worry about all those people who are out there living on the coast and deal with it as a risk and forget about the question of why.

ROMANS: Eighty seven million people live in the path of an Atlantic coast hurricane. That's almost a third of the American population, 30 percent or something right around there. It is fascinating what this all means for the economy, for markets and also just basic economics of the country. So whenever there is a disaster in one of these regions, it is just always important to sort of take a quick step back and say our pessimism diminishes over time but we are living dangerously in many cases. VELSHI: The basic economics of the country was the topic that we spent much of the week on today. President Bush hit the road this week to start talking about the economy. He had plenty of good things to talk about, including numbers showing the economy grew faster than expected last quarter.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The America's economy grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006. That means our economy grew at 3.4 percent last year, which is up from 3.1 percent in 2005. Ladies and gentlemen, the state of our economy is strong.


VELSHI: A friendly crowd greeted President Bush when he surprised traders with a visit to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Wall Street's enthusiasm and a healthy U.S. economy are bright spots for the president. And when Wall Street wasn't watching the president, it was focused on Ben Bernanke, starting his second year on the job, the Federal Reserve Chairman kept interest rates unchanged this week. The Fed says the economy's growing well and inflation seems to be under control.


BOB BRUSCA, CHIEF ECONOMIST, FAO ECONOMICS: We've had, after raising interest rates, went on this long series of pauses. The economy seems to be finally recovering from. I think the president deserves some credit but I think you have to really spread credit around for an economy as sophisticated as the United States.


VELSHI: Where is all this good news coming from? Oil prices are up with the recent cold weather but a barrel of oil is still $20 cheaper than it was last summer. Stock prices keep hitting new records. The unemployment rate is almost as low as it's ever been. And the housing market, well, it's cooled off but hasn't collapsed. But even with the economy going strong, the president had to acknowledge that all Americans are not sharing the bounty equally.


BUSH: We have an obligation to help ensure that every citizen shares in this country's future. The fact is that income inequality is real. It's been rising for more than 25 years.


VELSHI: While President Bush is saying the economy is in good shape, the Democrats in Congress aren't entirely buying it. They've held several hearings in the last few days on the problem facing the middle class. The Senate's Joint Economic Committee held one of those hearings and one of the panelists was Richard Vedder, a distinguished professor of economics at Ohio University joining us now from Athens, Ohio. Professor, thank are to you joining us. What's your take on this?

RICHARD VEDDER, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, OHIO UNIVERSITY: Well, I think the economy is in pretty good shape but I think the middle class is in pretty good shape, too. A0mericans are living better than they ever have before. They're spending more; they're enjoying life more. They are living longer lives. They take cruises even, members of the middle class. Luxuries that were only available for the rich a generation or two ago are increasingly available for members of the ordinary working public, the middle class.

ROMANS: A couple of things though that we keep hearing about, and especially from the Clinton alumni yesterday who were talking about income inequality. Hank Paulson the Treasury secretary has mentioned income inequality. The president has as well. We talk about all the things that are feeling better for the American middle class. But the savings rate is at the lowest in 74 years, and you've got this crazy high cost of education, at the same time we're told if you want the keep to the upper middle class or even beyond you've got to be educated. You don't argue that there are chinks in the armor for the middle class here.

VEDDER: Oh, there is no question about that. In fact, I run a center on college affordability and productivity in Washington and have written a book recently on college costs. There's no question, there are problems in society, there have always been problems, there always will be. We have a long-term problem with the aged and Social Security and Medicare. But in terms of the general condition of the American people, and even members of the middle class and the lower middle classes, they're pretty good.

WESTHOVEN: My impression is that the reason -- one of the reasons that you're saying that the middle class is doing better is because you're saying that their spending is more then when you look at income. Why would you make spending more important than income?

VEDDER: Well, people -- what do you enjoy in life? Do you enjoy making money or do you enjoy spending money?


Well, yes, you enjoy spending money, but I've got a cousin who spent too much money and spends every night awake at night trying to figure out how to make those payments. Spending may be a momentary joy but what you end up with is a big cycle of debt that leaves people vulnerable.

VELSHI: But it is a great momentary joy.

VEDDER: Yes. That's a good point. But on the other hand, why are people saving relatively little? Part of the reason I think is government policy which taxes savings, is punitive of savings. Double, triple taxation, savings, corporate taxation, private taxation, capital gains taxation, and death taxation. All of this impacts negatively on saving. The rise in the market, which you have also talked about, a good deal, markets at near all-time high, people feel fairly secure. They say, we have quite a bit of wealth; we have quite a bit of assets. They aren't putting money in the bank, but the value of their 401(k) accounts is still going up every year.

VELSHI: Professor, I think your point may be valid intellucally, but the savings rates are lower at lower income so I don't think these people are loosing sleep sitting around saying I don't want to save because the government is going to tax me, the fact is money is cheap it is easy to borrow, credit is available, when I go to buy my high- definition TV this weekend I don't have to pay interest for 8 1/2 years or something like that. Our society is built around spending money. But it works, we spend, we pay our bills and I guess our kids get to inherit the joy of that.

VEDDER: Yes. That's right. And it is possible to -- to have too much debt. There are too many -- there are some people out there with too much debt.

ROMANS: What about the trade deficits and the budget deficits and all this credit card debt? You've got more credit card debt outstanding today than probably 100 countries combined their GDP. It is incredible, billions of dollars. Are those deficits and those debts that we're running in this country are they going to come back to haunt us at some point?

VEDDER: Well, let's put things in perspective. The budget deficit you mentioned. The budget deficit this year will come in at somewhere under 2 percent of GDP. It finished last year under 2 percent of GDP. What is it in Europe? Three percent of GDP in most countries. What is it in Japan? Even higher. We are running a deficit, we'd be better off if we didn't run that deficit, but it isn't that bad. Trade deficits. From 1607 to 1870, a period of 263 years, we ran trade deficits nearly every year. And the economy grew and prospers and that's when America became a great industrial nation. I'm not saying trade deficits are irrelevant, but one reason we have the trade deficit is because we have capital pouring into our country because it is a great place to invest.

The effect of which has been to value the dollar greater than it otherwise would be which has tended to lead to trade deficits so there are two interpretations of the trade deficit and one of them is positive not negative.

VELSHI: Professor, we will take an opportunity to talk to you again about the trade deficit, a subject that you can probably give us some good stimulating stuff on. Distinguished Professor Richard Vedder is at Ohio University joining us from Athens, Georgia. Thank you for being with us.

ROMANS: All right. When we come back, the hard truth about software. Even a hot new product like Vista isn't made for the long haul. Find out why we'll pay now for a version that will be dated a little later.

Also ahead played out. NFL pension rules have left some former Super Bowl stars in trouble. We'll take one look at a move to fix that.

And, the 5,000-square foot cash cow Britain is gambling on the benefits from a big-time casino. See why some people think that's a bad bet.


WESTHOVEN: Built to last. That's a phrase companies once used with pride to describe their products. Now it seems companies are just as proud to crank out items that don't last at all. This way of doing business isn't only hazardous to your wallet but it is hurting the environment as well. Giles Slade is the author of "Made to Break: Technology and also Lessons in America." And he joins us now from Vancouver. Giles thanks for joining us. I wanted to start off by bringing up a gadget that so many people love right now, the ipod. You say this is the perfect example of a gadget that comes with a built-in death bait. What do you

GILES SLADE, AUTHOR, "MADE TO BREAK:" The lithium ion battery of the ipod is built to last 13 months with normal use roughly one month after the warrantee. You can't replace the battery. It is sealed inside the device itself so you have to send it back to Apple to get them to replace.

ROMANS: Or you buy a new one. That's what a lot of people do because people want the latest iteration of these fancy gadgets. I know I personally have three different digital music players over the past year and I'm not even a technology guru.

SLADE: Jobs would like to you buy one. He said in an interview he would like you to buy one every year. So they make them as fail able as possible and they bring out new ones to make you sick of your old ones.

VELSHI: A car is going to last you a long time. A toaster will probably last you a long time. A stove will last you a long time. So someone is building this obsoleteness into consumer electronics, it seems deliberate.

SLADE: In consumer electronics it is based on Moore's Law, which says that every 18 months something betters, newer, faster, twice s powerful will come out.

ROMANS: How many of these gadgets are we buying every year? I think you said on average maybe 26 -- I'm not there yet; I'm not buying 26 different kinds of consumer electronics.

VELSHI: I'm at 42.

ROMANS: He's making up for me. Why are we buying so many different things? And when are manufacturers going to get the idea we should put it all in one thing and the hardware stays the same and it is just the software that changes and then we don't have all of this waste? Or is that counterproductive for profits and for selling stuff?

SLADE: I think eventually people will lose interest in consumer electronics the way they lost interest in calculators or the way they lost interest in pickup trucks last year and they'll look to another field. But right now we don't buy 26 new devices every year. We have maybe 26 on average in our homes.

ROMANS: I see.

SLADE: We spend about $2,500 every year on consumer electronics. So you've got your old cell phone, your old DVD player, your old TV, and a whole bunch of other things. My 12-year-old son has five old game boys. I didn't realize until yesterday when he bought a new Wii.

ROMANS: That's quite an allowance. I want an allowance like that.

VELSHI: I'm looking to buy another one of these -- I want to buy a plasma TV right now. My biggest problem, the prices are good, but I have a TV that works perfectly well and nobody wants my old TV.

WESTHOVEN: I'll take it.

VELSHI: OK. Deal! Here we go. Your case has been proved, Giles. I'm going to get rid of my TV, I'm going to give it Jennifer and I'm going to get a fancy new one probably this weekend.

ROMANS: Giles just quickly, what about the new software for example, vista software, the new software that comes out, but then have you this new fancy software but then you need new hardware that's more powerful to run it.

SLADE: Yes. Yes. Vista by some estimates will obsolete 94 percent of existing computer computers. Microsoft is bragging for every $1 a consumer spends on their new operating system they will have to spend $18 in upgrades. They are very happy about this. They think they've forced people to spend more money. I think that's really cynical and I think it is unfair.

ROMANS: All right, Giles Slade, we have to leave it there, joining us from Vancouver. Thanks so much for joining us, sir. "Made to Break" is the title of the book. And we really appreciate you joining us today. Thank you.

VELSHI: Coming up after the break, the deal that didn't fly. See how Wall Street's reacting to U.S. Air's cancelled bid for Delta. We'll look at that and other moves this week.

Also ahead insert nozzle and start asking questions. If you're having trouble figuring out the oil market, get in line. We'll ask an expert where oil's headed.

And when the cheering stops. Players from past Super Bowls are struggling to make ends meet. We'll hear about a new drive to help them out.


WESTHOVEN: The big news on Wall Street was all about two things that didn't happen, the Fed didn't raise interest rates, and U.S. Airways' long-standing hostile bid to buy Delta fell apart. Stephanie Elam joins us from the New York Stock Exchange for more on that. A Fed meeting, they didn't change a thing, and, boy, Wall Street just took off on their optimism. What was the story there, Stephanie?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right Jennifer. I don't think that was so much a surprise that they didn't change interest rates, holding them steady at that 5.25 percent rate. But what was really the focus here was whether or not they were going to say anything about future rate hikes and what we saw was really an indication that perhaps they may leave them alone for the rest of the year and that's why we saw the Dow rise almost 100 points to set another trading high.

Overall the comments from the Fed were also pretty good there as well. They are saying the economy remains healthy and inflation pressures seem to be easing. They also pointed to stabilization in the housing market. So that also helped out as well.


WESTHOVEN: Certainly if rates aren't going to go up, that gives also of people some breathing room who are facing lower prices right now.

ELAM: No doubt.

WESTHOVEN: Also want to ask you about this big deal that's been going on between U.S. Airways and Delta, especially Delta's CEO Grinstein, I guess he gets to say "In your face." U.S. Airways didn't make their bid happened to last. What's this mean? Not only for these two companies but a lot of other airline stocks really rallied on hopes that there would be a lot of merger talks going on between airlines.

ELAM: Yes, it is sort of like the soap opera of airlines right now. I mean take a look at what is going on U.S. Airways finally did decide this week hey that $10 billion bid that we were offering for Delta, we might as well flat-line it. The main reason why is because Delta's creditors have already rejected the hostile takeover bid. They'd been going back and forth even after they raised the bid, U.S. Airways did, and it still wasn't enough. So that changed the whole dynamic here and so they said if we can't sway creditors we have to let it go.

So U.S. Airways shares actually right after the news broke were down about 2 percent but they did rebound. So it wasn't that big of a deal. But what's interesting, Delta's people are very happy with this result. They've said from the get-go since this started a couple of months ago that they are committed to emerging from bankruptcy on their own and they're saying they may do so as soon as April. A lot of people did also say that this deal would have had some regulatory issues because both Delta and U.S. Air operate shuttles in the northeast, and that could have been a big deal between D.C., New York City and Boston. So that could have caused some problems for that deal as well. Now if you just take a look at the overall airlines, like you were talking about Jennifer, you got Jetblue they actually said they've returned to profitability in the fourth quarter with net income of $17 million. They first slipped into the red in the fourth quarter of 2005. Here's the little catch here. They're saying they may actually post a loss for the first quarter depending on the tax rate. So that is what a lot of analysts were looking for.

WESTHOVEN: Right so some of the factors that got Delta in bankruptcy in the first place starting to get a little bit better, starting to alleviate a little bit. Stephanie Elam from the New York Stock Exchange, thank you very much.

ELAM: Sure thing. . WESTHOVEN: All right. Coming up on IN THE MONEY, crude logic. From geology to geopolitics, the oil market is packed with variables. Find out which ones investors should be watching.

Plus, surf and turf meets fish and chips. A Las Vegas-style casino is coming to northern England. Find out if that will help the economy there in this week's "What Works" segment.

And so much for the cheap seats. See how far some people will go to land a Super Bowl ticket.


WHITFIELD: Half past the hour. Here's what's happening in the news right now.

The search for survivors still under way in central Florida after killer storms swept through the area. Rescuers are going house-to- house. At least 20 deaths are now confirmed.

The casualty counts steadily rising in Baghdad. Authorities now say more than 120 people there are dead, another 373 injured. Victims of a suicide trucker who detonated the truck in a crowded market.

Fire in Philadelphia, a restaurant and nightclub burning today in the old city section of Philly. The building popular with tourists was home to the Five Spot Lounge and the Peekaboo Burlesque Review. The choking smoke forced residents out of nearby apartments as well.

President Bush gets a warm welcome from the opposition. Speaking to House Democrats at their conference in Virginia today, the president discussed the Iraq war as well as a wide range of other domestic issues.

Britain's first bird flu outbreak, 2,500 turkeys dead at a farm in eastern England. Nearly 160,000 other turkeys will be called as officials try to contain the virus. They say there is no threat to the public.

We'll have a live report from England at the top of the hour. Now back to IN THE MONEY. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

ROMANS: Exxon Mobile posted the largest annual profit in U.S. history this week. The oil giant made $39.5 billion last year. Now if you don't have a calculator handy, that comes out to roughly $75,000 a minute. Exxon Mobile stock has climbed steadily during that time and that's enough to make you scratch your head. After all, oil fell below $60 a barrel in the fourth quarter of last year, down from a high of nearly $80 a barrel.

But that hasn't hurt big oil too much and investors over all seen pretty bullish on this sector. Fadel Gheit is an oil analyst with Oppenheimer he is going to sort it out for us. Welcome back to the program.

FADEL GHEIT, OIL ANALYST, OPPENHEIMER: Good morning or good afternoon I guess.

ROMANS: Seventy five thousand dollars a minute that the largest corporate profit in history. Even as oil prices were cooling a little bit. Explain it for us.

GHEIT: Well, it's very simple. It is a very large company, it has huge assets and it invests $20 billion a year. It pays shareholders about $30 billion a year in dividend share buyback. So you add the two numbers, that's $50 billion. So actually when you calculate that, they spend more or they give back more than their income. They made $40 billion, but they paid back, whether it's to shareholders or to invest in their operation, $50 billion.

WESTHOVEN: You know, so much of what we look at when we look at oil stocks is predicated on what the price of oil is doing.

GHEIT: Absolutely.

WESTHOVEN: So what's your outlook for the price of oil over the next few weeks, months, and the foreseeable future?

GHEIT: Actually, last August we thought oil prices were high and likely to go down. Luckily it happened the way we forecast. Couple of days ago I change my mind I don't think that oil prices are likely to go sharply lower from current level. Maybe $4, $5, but I don't think we are going to see $40 any time soon. There are politics, there are industrial constraints, and there is also the growth in demand. There is no inflation. Nobody is getting hurt, if you will. But OPEC is basically drawing a line in the sand. The Saudis did not like the $70 or $80 oil, but also the rest of OPEC really does not want to see $30 barrel oil and they don't want to see it go back up. So what you are seeing here is that we are going to be in the trading range but never the less we are going to see oil prices between say $55 and $60, which is very healthy for the industry and very good for Exxon.

VELSHI: Fadel this is an exciting story four times a year when these earnings come out and we can all calculate as Christine did how many thousands a of dollars a minute it is. That's going to happen as long as oil is above $30 a barrel, probably above $20 a barrel. These companies can make money at very low rates today. The fact is as Jennifer said, when oil is going to be whether it is $30, $40, $50, $60, $70, $80 or more we are going to see these record profits and investors have done well by that.

GHEIT: But people have to realize, of course the politician and government say blame it on oil and oil companies. Really they are price taker. The market decides how much oil prices will be. I mean, Exxon Mobile does not dictate where oil price is going to be a month from now or week from now.

ROMANS: Let me ask you about political risk. We have Democrats in control on Capitol Hill. We have the fourth largest oil supplier for the United States, Hugo Chavez who is making moves to nationalize some assets there. You've got conflict in the Middle East. All of these are risk factors. Any of them factored into oil right now?

GHEIT: That's what the market is anticipating. Because any miscalculation, whether a war in Iran or a power play by Russia or additional push from Hugo Chavez or the civil war in Nigeria, all these things could really kick in at a much higher gear and get us much higher oil prices. So the market is already anticipating one of these factors will play out. That's why I do believe we have at least $10, maybe even more, in speculation premium embedded in the oil price. But this is the bad news over -- the good news is that is not going to go away any time soon.

ROMANS: We talked about investors, but quickly drivers. What does this mean for drivers? Will we have some relief at the pump? When I go to the gas station I don't think of civil unrest in Nigeria and the war in the Middle East and the like, but it is something that pans out.

GHEIT: Yes, absolutely. We will pay more as oil prices go higher and we approach the summer driving season, we'll end up paying higher prices at the pump. People should expect that and people should be throwing their arms in the air saying what are they going to do about that? Politician cannot do anything about that. If we do not like the price of gasoline, we should conserve, we should drive less, we should drive smaller car. And eventually that will happen, but it hasn't happened.

ROMANS: OK. Fadel Gheit thank you so much. Oppenheimer thanks for joining us today, sir.

WESTHOVEN: Now for this week's "What Works." A Las Vegas-style casino is heading across the pond. Britain is retooling its gambling laws and wants bigger casinos to attract gamblers and tourists while creating jobs. But will it work? Our Jim Boulden has that story.


JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Britain's casinos are mostly small, private clubs with only limited winnings allowed. Now the law has been changed to allow the opening of a host of new casinos dotted around the country with unlimited wins slot machines and a more open environment. The Northern city of Manchester has won the rights to create the country's first and only super sized Las Vegas-style casino. To be built next to one of the city's stadiums.

The winning bid calls for 5,000 square meters of floor space, over 1,200 one-armed bandits, or slot machines. And it claims the casino will create 2,700 jobs. But, the government insists only the size will be similar to a Las Vegas casino.

TESSA JOWELL, UK CULTURE SECRETARY: Some Las Vegas-style tricks of the trade will not be allowed. There will be no free alcohol to induce more gambling, there will be no pumped oxygen to keep gamblers awake.

BOULDEN: Most gamblers have their money on East London's dome winning the first casino license. Its plan was to attract the international crowd who come to London. Many also had a bet on Black Pool, the fading northern seaside resort town spent years trying to bring glory and jobs back to this Victorian town. Some in Black Pool say they'll fight the decision to give the license to Manchester.

STEVE WEAVER, BLACK POOL COUNCIL: We won't accept no here. It is right solution for Black Pool and we will continue to go forward in that way. Our whole community is behind this. Just absolutely astonished.

BOULDEN: The change in the British gambling laws allowing for a super casino has not been popular. In fact the government was going to grant 40 Las Vegas-style licenses. After an outcry that was reduced to eight and now there is only one. Critics say gambling should not be seen as a way to regenerate rundown areas, and will increase gambling addiction, among other ills.

RACHEL MAWHOOD, ANTI-SUPER CASINO CAMPAIGNER: The research shows that in every case, in every case, the opening of a large casino is followed by a huge increase in crime.

BOULDEN: But Britain's gamble over $100 billion yearly on just about anything. From horses to whether it will snow on Christmas. The government is gambling some of that money can be used to regenerate depressed regions and it may allow more super casinos if Manchester turns out to be a good bet.

Jim Boulden, CNN, London.


ROMANS: There are lots more to come here on IN THE MONEY. Up next as we countdown to kickoff in the Super Bowl, an NFL legend is here to reveal the league's dirty little secret.

Plus, crashing the boy's club. We'll tell you about a group that helps women help women get ahead in business.


VELSHI: While some NFL franchises are valued at over $1 billion, or even more, it may surprise you that some ex-Super Bowl champions receive just over $100 a month from their NFL pensions. Amidst the glitz and glamour of Super Bowl week, the often-horrific condition of the National Football League's former players is a well-kept secret, or has been, until now.

Joining us now from Miami, the home to Super Bowl XLI is Jerry Kramer; he is a former Super Bowl champion with the Green Bay Packers and the founder of the Gridiron Great's Assistance Fund. Jerry thank you for being with us, it is an honor to have you here. Tell me about the Gridiron Greats. What does the Gridiron Greats do?

JERRY KRAMER, FORMER GREEN BAY PACKER: There are a lot of problems with guys from the '60s and '70s. The pension plan as you mentioned is abysmal, I got started in this because one of my teammates sent me an e-mail, said that his below-poverty level pension of $126.85 a month disgusted him and embarrassed him so much that he quit wearing his Super Bowl ring, he quit wearing his Hall of Fame ring and he didn't want anything to do with the NFL in the future. So I've started getting involved in it. I find that Mike Ditka is doing a golf tournament in Chicago the last five or six years. Paul Kraus is doing a tournament in Minnesota. Washington-Baltimore Chapters are working together to try and help out. There are just a lot of problems out there.

So when I started the auction, it is online right now at Go there and make a donation or bid on objects, memorabilia. Ditka gave us a championship ring. We got just a ton of stuff there. When I started finding out the depth of the problem, I brought these guys in and were trying to get together and sing with one voice and maybe the folks upstairs will hear us.

ROMANS: Jerry, these are really unsung heroes, these are guys in the '60s and '70s you say, who now, now they are looking at the NFL as this huge phenomenon where some of these guys are multimillionaires when they come in now, but the guys who built this league, some of them really suffering, you say. What kind of numbers we talking about?

KRAMER: You know it's hard to find out a precise number. I know there are about 350 guys who are getting between $120 a month and $350 a month. You can figure maybe a third of them are having trouble. We got 9,000 ex-players. The medical costs are what's really eating most people up.

VELSHI: A lot of these guys have injuries.

ROMANS: Knee and back surgeries, neck surgeries.

KRAMER: Exactly. Willie Wood, our safety and a great football player, has a narrowing of the spinal canal and had a surgery on his high back, surgery on his low back, surgery on both hips, surgery on both knees, and is able to move with a walker, just barely now. These are guys -- these are older guys, but we've got guys 45, 50 years old who are having trouble walking also.

So that whole injury and not only the physical side of it, the emotional side of it, you leave the game, the game leaves you. I believe I read something a couple days ago that 80 percent of the players are divorced within four or five years of leaving the game. There is post-concussions trauma, there is Alzheimer's, there is dementia, and there is depression, just tons of problems that are now developing that we didn't know anything about.

WESTHOVEN: It is clear these guys really need some help. While I know you're probably working with the league to see what they can do, for people who are watching, so your Website you're saying your auction is a little bit like eBay they can go in and see all different things related to stars that they use to love or teams they used to love? Is that how it works?

KRAMER: That's exactly right. It is going to be up for the next ten days or so. Howie Long gave us a day with Howie at Fox Sports; Siragusa gave us a day carrying the wire. Bart Starr sent in a helmet with Jimmy Taylor, Paul Horning, Bart Starr, Merlin Olson and I are taking some folks fishing in Hell's Canyon. Just a ton of stuff, too much to mention. Vince Lombardi Jr. sent a beautiful hand-drawn play from his father. Ditka gave us his championship ring and a variety of things like that. We'll have this for the next ten or 11 days and you can go on to, you can make a cash donation, a couple of bucks, $5.00, anything that helps, and you can bid on the items. Again, it will be on for the next ten days or so.

ROMANS: Let me ask you one thing. You know from the point of view of the league, back when some of these guys were negotiating their pensions, it wasn't the big deal it is today. I mean maybe from their point of view, you know, I mean the guys today are getting much better pensions. Aren't they? Because it is a much more profitable system, how do you deal with that?

KRAMER: There is no question about it. The normal inflation would increase a product from 10 to 15 times from my era to today. The NFL players' salaries have increased 300 times. I make $28,000, $35,000, a kid today playing my position at the level I played is making $7 million a year. So it is a dramatically different time and dramatically different incomes. I don't think we are talking, I mean you know the NFL got a 59 percent increase in revenue this year. It wouldn't take a lot of that to look back and help some guys out. That's all we're trying to do is shine a little light on it and say, hey, excuse me, you forgot somebody here. How about some of these guys that helped you out long ago and played with the injuries, played with the sickness, played with all the problems? They need a little help now. Let's have a little help.

WESTHOVEN: Jerry Kramer, thank you so much for your work and for joining us today. Jerry Kramer, a former Green Bay Packer, now helping his other teammates.

ROMANS: Coming up next on IN THE MONEY, every second counts. Find out what they're charging for a 30-second Super Bowl spot this year. Allen Wastler is going to join us with the number.

It is time to hear from you as we read some of your e-mails from the past week. You can send us an e-mail right now as well. We are at

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: The Super Bowl is about athletic competition at its highest level. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat and money. That's what we're really talking about here, an awful lot of money. managing editor Allen Wastler joins us now to break down some of those figures for us in today's edition of "The Number."

ALLEN WASTLER, MANAGING EDITOR, CNNMONEY.COM: The number, the number today is $2.6 million. That's how many dollars you got to pay for a 30-second spot on CBS.

WESTHOVEN: That's during the great times to watch. Right?

WASTLER: That is right. Because they do go off card, you know and you get deals and stuff. But when you average it out, I got other numbers for you too. Because we're all about numbers $2.5 million, that's the number of people expected to run out and buy a new TV set for the Super Bowl.

VELSHI: No I am totally all about the TV set.


VELSHI: I'm giving my old TV set to Jennifer. Weren't you listening?

ROMANS: Very nice.

WESTHOVEN: Is it for the Super Bowl?

ROMANS: Why do you need a TV set?

VELSHI: No. It is because Super Bowl is one of the biggest opportunities to advertise and think, yes, I need a new TV. Because you don't.

WASTLER: And you get good sales. You got all the left over Christmas inventory. So $56.04 that is the average amount people will spend this year on just Super Bowl related food, and the big foam fingers. $4,500, that is the average going price for a ticket for the Super Bowl on the Internet at all the different broker sites and things like that. The cheapest one that I saw toward the end of the week was $2,424. Eight sold for over $10,000.

VELSHI: Does that include a massage?

WESTHOVEN: Are those 50-yard line?

WASTLER: I don't know. They're the good front ones, very nice. $100 million that is how many people are expected to watch the Super Bowl. At least CBS hope so, that would be a new record, 53.5 million that's the number of pounds of avocados that are going to be consumed during the Super Bowl! For all that Guacamole. Add this all together and you have a total Super Bowl economy of $8.7 billion. That's the equivalent of the country of Albania.

ROMANS: Let's bring this back full circle. We were talking to Jerry Kramer about of 9,000 former NFL players, 300 of them get like a monthly pension of $100 or something. Look at economy of the Super Bowl today and how things have changed over the past 20 years or so, it is remarkable.

WASTLER: It is a real ripple affect, because what you see is a lot of consumerism tied around this one media event. When you think about it, it started out as not that big a thing but it's grown and grown. And growth will continue because experts say you'll never see the advertising rates backtrack from where they are. They always advance; advertisers don't make it cheaper to do that. And with the changes the Internet's bringing, you are going to see more quick buys, the ticket phenomenon is actually really interesting, because now they're loosening up scalping rules. You're actually seeing more of this secondary economy beyond the tickets go on. So it is fascinating.

WESTHOVEN: What do you think about these ads that people are making? Doritos is going to run ads to win a contest.

VELSHI: Yes free labor is what it is.

WESTHOVEN: Maybe better ideas.

ROMANS: Outsourcing your commercials.

WASTLER: See how they are. Doritos has the self-directed one. A couple other advertisers are doing that. Maybe it is all part of that interactivity. You are the person of the year.

ROMANS: My personal opinion is the most important number is bear score at the end, not the dollars. I care about what the points are.

WASTLER: You are so going to get blown away by the Colts.

ROMANS: We are going to take this up right now.

WESTHOVEN: I'm counting on you for the ad wrap Monday morning.

WASTLER: Take care.

VELSHI: Well women in the work force are paid 80 cents for every dollar a man makes according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In this week's "Life after Work," we look at how one successful business woman hopes to eliminate that gap by bringing thousands of women together in a twist on the old boy's club.


VELSHI (voice over): Meg Whitman, CEO of ebay. And Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox and Indra Nooyi CEO of Pepsi-Cola, each a leader of a Fortune 500 company and proof that the glass ceiling can be broken. But Janet Hanson warns there are still a lot of barriers for women.

JANET HANSON, FOUNDER, 85 BROADS: If you're at a company, and there really are very, very few female role models, then how are you ever going to know whether it's possible to be successful? And so we're providing an entire community of women across various professions who are extraordinarily successful.

VELSHI: Hanson is the founder of 85 Broads, a network of 16,000 women in business who support and mentor each other. It works in much the same way the so-called Old Boy's Network does for men.

HANSON: But we really want to turn on its head is that women are not willing to help each other. I think once you give them a community to thrive in, then they will do everything they can to leverage their relationships on behalf of other women.

VELSHI: Hanson founded the group using the millions she made as a money manager and former executive at Goldman Sachs. In fact the name 85 Broads plays off Goldman's famous Manhattan address, 85 Broad Street. But Hanson's looking for a different kind of payback on this investment.

HANSON: How I measure return is seeing other women do extraordinary things with their lives.


VELSHI: We'll be right back with more IN THE MONEY. Stay with us.


WESTHOVEN: Now it's time to read your answers to our question about what's the dumbest thing you've ever seen a company or business do?

Bruce from the Bronx, New York was one of the many viewers who pointed out one of the greatest all-time blunders, writing, "My vote goes to Coca Cola for taking the original Coke off the shelves in favor of new Coke in 1985. Why mess with the most popular drink in history? Even when they brought 'Classic Coke' back, I stayed away."

VELSHI: I hate the stuff.

ROMANS: Bill in Texas writes, "The dumbest thing I've seen and continue to see every day is American businesses moving jobs or factories to China. Don't they realize that they will eventually be nationalized by the Chinese government and they will lose everything?"

VELSHI: An optimist.

Allen wrote, not Allen next to me, this is Allen one of our viewers, "I think it's stupid the way some businesses treat their customers poorly on purpose. I'm talking about expensive restaurants that make people wait for a table even if they have reservations, or snooty furniture boutiques who make customers make an appointment."

Now for next weeks email question of the week, "Are you an impulse consumer, or do you fight the urge to buy at all costs?" I just have to recluse myself from this question. Send your answers to and you should really visit our show page at, it has excellent pictures of us on the Web page. Christine thank you for joining us, always a pleasure. Jennifer Westhoven and Allen Wastler managing editor of

We will see you back here next week Saturday at 1:00 and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. I will have a new TV set by then. Bye bye.


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