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Techs Without the Trauma, The Impacts of a Raised Minimum Wage on Business

Aired January 28, 2007 - 15:00   ET


JENNIFER WESTHOVEN, "HEADLINE NEWS" CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to IN THE MONEY. I'm Jennifer Westhoven. Coming up on today's program the state of your greenbacks. We'll look at the money side of the State of the Union Address. See what all that talk about pocketbook issues means in the real world.

And also ahead, changes in the air. Climate shifts could mean new expenses for business. Find out how some companies might turn it into a moneymaking opportunity.

And techs without the trauma. The dotcom crash left lots of investors spooked about tech stocks. Learn about what's changed and see which industries to watch.

Joining us me today "Lou Dobbs Tonight" correspondent Christine Romans. Welcome to the program, and our Jen Rogers. Welcome.


WESTHOVEN: We want to start off by talking about the minimum wage provision, which sailed through the House, but then hit a big roadblock in the Senate this week.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" CORRESPONDENT: Let's remember this is something that more than 60 percent of the American people want, depending on some of the polls, it's 80 percent of the American people think, come on, these are the poorest working Americans. Let's raise the minimum wage.

Business has been pushing strongly against it. They call it a jobs killer. They say if they have to raise the minimum wage to $7.25, which, by the way, full-time job on that is still barely above the poverty line, they say it will kill jobs and that they need tax cuts to make up for it. Now you are seeing sort of some of the opposition start to really grind through on Capitol Hill.

ROGERS: It certainly seems like a bump in the road, but, I mean, this has been ten years in the making, right, since we've had a bump up, so Democrats say they're determined to keep pushing through here, so we'll have to wait and see what happens certainly.

WESTHOVEN: Yes. While Congress keeps giving themselves pay raises as well. ROMANS: If you are sick of hearing about the State of the Union Address, lets say that you are not alone. The president brought up some things that could have an impact on your money. We want to drop the story without telling you about those first. Greg Valliere is going to give a picture and help us read between the lines, he is the chief strategist for Stafford Washington Research Group. Greg welcome back to the program.


ROMANS: This is Christine, but, hey --

VALLIERE: Hi Christine.

ROMANS: You we always get mixed up. She's the blonde. That's all right. Let's talk about the president's State of the Union. He talked about a lot of things. He noted to have kind of a big kind of push, something to be known for, whether it's entitlements, whether it's energy, but is it really anything besides Iraq that this president can talk about right now?

VALLIERE: God forbid I should be cynical, but I do think that this was a speech designed to change the subject. An awful lot of Republicans have gone to the White House in the last week or so saying, look, things look really bad for 2008. We could have more losses, including the White House in 2008. We can't talk about Iraq for the next two years. Can we please change the subject? I think that's a major reason why the president focused so much on domestic issues.

ROGERS: This is Jennifer here, Jennifer Rogers, talking now. I want to know how much of what actually gets proposed in a State of the Union comes to fruition? Is this just a big trial balloon that comes out and then eventually gets popped?

VALLIERE: Yes, very good point. Traditionally very little gets done, but when you are this grid locked, I think even less will get done. I do think -- I heard you earlier talking about minimum wage. I do think you get that. They're doing a dance now, but you'll get a minimum wage bill. You may get something taking some tax breaks away from energy companies, giving some of the money to producers of alternative energy, but a lot of the other ideas that the president talked about, I think, aren't going anywhere.

WESTHOVEN: Greg you were just talking about how you think the Republicans want to and need to change the subject.


WESTHOVEN: You know, can they? Do they have any chance of doing that with so much focus on Iraq now? You know, in a way if they do change the subject, it would almost look like they're taking their eye off the ball?

VALLIERE: You know, it obscures everything. We've got probably fourth quarter GDP of 3.5 percent. We have a budget deficit that's falling sharply. Nobody knows about this because Iraq dominates everything, and the big story I think politically this last week -- well, there are lots, but the big one inside the beltway is how many Republicans are moving away quickly from Bush. They don't want to be associated with this troop surge, and I think the rebellion in his own party is going to further weaken him.

ROMANS: Greg can you explain something for me. (INAUDIBLE) again here.


ROMANS: The Democrats control Congress now. You've got a war in Iraq that is making headlines. You've got all of these head winds, and stocks have been doing really well. The middle class says they feel pretty rotten, but the stock market is doing really well. What's happening there?

VALLIERE: I think you've got to give a lot of credit to the Bernanke Fed. They did just what they had to do last year, they didn't tighten too much, and we now have a Goldilocks scenario 2.5, 3, 3.5 percent growth.

ROMANS: The president is not getting credit for it. He will get credit when things are bad all presidents do and how much control he really has of the economy is debatable, I guess, but it's interesting that so many people, you know, the most recent poll, Bill Schneider told us this week is that some 60 percent of Americans feel like the economy is good. Stocks are doing well, but the president is really getting slammed here.

VALLIERE: I wouldn't want to blame the media, would I?

ROMANS: No, no, no. Please don't.

VALLIERE: If Jack Cafferty was with us, I probably would go off on to a long rant about the media, but I think it's a factor. I think the main thing is Iraq is such a bummer. It looks so hopeless that that infects everything. That really -- that really brings down Bush's rating on things where he is doing pretty well.

ROGERS: Let's talk about 2008; go a little bit beyond Bush. You know, is this going to be something -- we're having all these people come out and say that I'm running, but a lot of the stories have to do with fundraising. Is that going to be the big issue going forward right now for the next year or so, just money, money, money, in terms of how much they're raising?

VALLIERE: You got it. It's the mother's milk of politics, and Hillary Clinton and Terry McAuliffe and Bill Clinton have quite a network, and if you don't get in their camp early, they have long memories, and I think that a lot of people will be intimated into casting their lot with her.

Look, she's the favorite, but I do think she's one newspaper story away from imploding. That newspaper story would be some new revelation about Bill, you know. There are a lot of people snooping into their personal lives, so you can't rule out Obama, Edwards, and maybe even Richardson who is very charismatic. It still is hers to lose, but she still could lose it.

ROMANS: Greg it sounds like we're going to have an awful lot to talk to you about over the next year and a half. Greg Valliere, chief strategist at Stanford Washington Research Group. Thanks Greg.

WESTHOVEN: When we come back, alternative doesn't always mean better. The White House wants America to start swapping oil for other fuels. See if that's good for business and the planet.

Plus, you already spend enough money on technology and gadgets. Maybe its time the tech sector made you some cash in return. See whether consumer electronics are a smart move right now.

And if you snooze, you lose. A sleepy worker helped Comcast make the list of last year's dumbest business moves. We'll tell who the other Einstein's are.


ROMANS: Climate change was a theme in President Bush's State of the Union Address this week, but it's also been a hot topic at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Our Becky Anderson has been mingling among the business and political elite there. She's got a look at just how these jetsetters are confronting the problem.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's the busiest week of the year at this ski resort, 2,400 politicians and business leaders have come to tackle the word's problems. And high on the agenda this year is climate change. While they're talking about saving the environment indoors, private jets are piling up at area airports and the Audis are lining up on the street. This year the World Economic Forum is trying to reverse some of the damage that it causes.

ANDRE SCHNIEDER, COO WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM: We have defined a calculation scheme which allows to break it down for each participant, and we invite each participant to sign up through this annotative and actually give a money amount which is equivalent to what it will cost to reduces co2 in Indonesia in a hydro energy project.

ANDERSON: This tells us that a CEO flying from New York to Zurich uses over six tons of carbon dioxide. Once they're here leaders can pay $90 to offset their emissions and clear their conscience.

NEVILLE ISDELL, COCO COLA CEO, and W.E.F. CO-CHAIR: Obviously the argot doesn't make a big difference. But what it does is it makes a statement, and that's important. My wife flew down to Barbados the other day, and she signed up, and she made sure that she was zero carbon emission, and I think it really is something that makes people think about how their every day activities actually affect the environment. ANDERSON: One wonder just how many of these leaders will alter their everyday activity says once they make the journey home.

Becky Anderson, CNN, Davos, Switzerland.


WESTHOVEN: Well, for more on how business and political leaders are confronting the issue of climate change, we are joined today by Kevin Vranes, principal consultant for Point 380. Welcome to the program. So news this week, right, that some major lead American companies, Dupont, Caterpillar, General Electric, are actually going to Washington and asking the White House for caps on greenhouse gas emissions.


WESTHOVEN: That is certainly unusual. You know, not unexpected headline. What do you make of that?

VRANES: You throw Alcoa in there. Alcoa is a big energy consumer. You know, I think a lot of companies see this as coming; I think they see it as inevitable. I think they're trying to see -- trying to get a long-term pricing built into their future plans. A lot of these companies are talking about 30 to 50 year investments. They want something to go on in the future.

ROMANS: Bottom line is the writing is on the wall, and they want to be there to help write the regulations and write the new kind of front tear that's going to cost them potentially hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars.

VRANES: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, you saw what the midterm elections, the new Democrats taking over. You've got Barbara Boxer, pretty powerful committee position and Jeff, a pretty powerful committee position and each of them have designs on climate change regulations, so yes I think Corporate America really sees the writing on the wall.

ROGERS: How generally environmentally conscious can some of these big oil companies be? Sometimes you see these ads --

ROMANS: Jennifer you sound sinful.

ROGERS: They're the most beautiful ads with birds flying around and they land on some oil rig or something, and, you know, just makes you think, well, is this just spin, or is this for real because if it's for real, aren't they sort of putting themselves out of business?

VRANES: You know, yes. You know, it's hard to be a green oil company, isn't it, and you definitely see them making this list of terms we call the green washers. The green washers are companies that are trying to promote a nice environmentally clean image when really they're not doing much about it.

ROGERS: Who is on the list? VRANES: What I have seen on that list are companies like Nestle, Chevron, BP, and Shell has been on that list too. On the other hand, you have some pretty positive companies. You have Johnson & Johnson and Texas Instruments and Nike, Alcoa, like we talked about in the beginning, where those companies are actually trying to make a difference, and they've been involved in projects not since day one, but pretty early on in the Chicago Climate Exchange and this new partnership they just announced last week.

WESTHOVEN: What about companies that aren't green washing at all, what about companies that are actually out there maybe actively fostering debate about whether or not there is greenhouse gas emissions or whether or not they're having any affect?

VRANES: Well you know, the main culprit there has been Exxon Mobil. They're the poster child for trying to stall not just action on climate change, but also trying to confuse the public on climate changes. I'm actually starting to get a sense that they're starting to pull back away from that a little bit. I think they also see the writing on the wall, and I think they don't want to be the last man standing either and, so I kind of get a sense that they're starting to pull back too.

ROMANS: Kevin, there was a time when we would say global warming on television, and we would be inundated with, like, conservative think tanks and conservative oil industry tied groups whose only job was to try to change the wording global warming to climate change. Or to get it into something that didn't suggest that Americans were doing it or that the consumers weren't doing it or that energy companies had any kind of say in it. We've really come a long way on this debate, haven't we?

VRANES: We have. I mean, and that falls to science. I think what we've come to is maybe a tipping point in the understanding and the awareness of the issue from the public and from the business community. I think that maybe up until now they were just kind of taking a wait and see approach where they were saying, well, maybe next year new science will come out, maybe next year new science will come out, and finally here we are. It doesn't happen.

Every year new science comes out that says, no, it really is happening, and I think finally people have said, OK, we hear you. We've woken up, and we're going to make -- we're going to make progress on this issue.

ROMANS: There are some scientists, though -- I do have on point out that there are some scientists who still adamantly say there is a long period of temperatures in this environment and it maybe has nothing to do with human kind. There are those folks still out there.

VRANES: There are those folks out there. I would say that they're at the fringe, and I would say that they actually get more media attention than they deserve compared to the scientific weight of opinion. You know, there's going to be a new report released actually next week February 2nd. A big intergovernmental panel will come out with its latest consensus statement on climate change, and it will say the consensus of the scientific community is that we are 90 percent certain that global warming is happening, and we are the cause of did.

WESTHOVEN: All right. Thank you so much. You talk about a tipping point. All that scientific evidence and then you see things like where people just can't ski for the winter, and you hear about polar bears coming in and drowning because there's no ice for them to be on, and it starts to shift a little bit in terms of the public's mind. All right.

Coming up after the break, spiking the rumor mill. Find out what the gap is saying about its future now that it booted its CEO.

Plus, retro investing. See if star stocks from the dot-com age like Yahoo are sparkling again.

And there are a growing number of single women in the work force, and their financial prospects are growing too. Get some financial tips for single women and the rest of us.


WESTHOVEN: Ford announced this weekend they had another record- breaking year in 2006, but it wasn't the kind of record to be proud of. Susan Lisovicz has the details on that and how Wall Street reacted. She joins us now from the New York Stock Exchange. Susan, nice to see you again. Ford with this whopper of a loss more than $12 billion. We did the math, and it worked out to something like losing the value of a Mustang every minute last year.

SUSAN LISCOVICZ. CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's incredible. The response on Wall Street was also something to -- that was also noteworthy. Ford is losing thousands of dollars on every car and truck it makes, and it's basically mortgaging all of its assets to finance this restructure. It came in -- on the one hand, Wall Street expected a lot of red ink, but it did come in worse than expected, and, you know what, it may -- the losses may actually accelerate this year.

Now, the stock rallied, Jennifer. It was the most actively traded issue at the New York Stock Exchange, and it rallied two days in a row. Why is that? Because there are some signs, glimmers, if you will, of promise. The fact that Alan Malaly has gone to Tokyo to talk to the archrivals, Toyota, about how they run their assembly line.

The fact that there are reports that the UAW may absorb some of the health care costs for retiree health cares which is one of the reasons why Ford and GM lose so much on every vehicle it makes. That's a sign of promise. You know, we'll see. It's certainly not going to be an overnight turnaround.

WESTHOVEN: Right. But certainly for all the people who work at Ford, for all the car dealers, for basically everyone in Michigan they can only hope that some of those glimmers will actually turn out to be a trend.

Another company that, you know, has new management and is having a lot of trouble, Gap. CEO out this week. What happened there? LISCOVICZ: Well, I suppose there are a lot of people, Jennifer that would say I told you so. Four years ago the Gap, the nation's largest specialty retailer apparel retailer hired someone who had never worked in fashion or design. Somebody who ran theme parks really well, Pressler of Disney. Guess what, he restored a fiscal discipline in the back office, but, you know, really didn't do anything for the product, and I suppose you could find parallels with both Ford and Gap.

You can really try to get your finances in order, but you still have to make a product that people want to buy. That is the problem. Gap is really going to need to get somebody who understands fashion as well. The Gap is huge between Banana Republic, Old Navy, Gap. We're talking more than 3,000 stores in a very competitive landscape. And this time the bad news, a lot of times when there's management shake- up, Wall Street will applaud. Gap shares have gone down 5 percent this week.

WESTHOVEN: Half the reason they have all that competition, so many companies have just copied them so well. That's why there's so much competition. Susan --

LISCOVICZ: And they're big.

WESTHOVEN: Thank you so much for your perspective from the New York Stock Exchange.

LISCOVICZ: My pleasure.

WESTHOVEN: Thanks for joining us.

Coming up next on IN THE MONEY there's tech and then there's tech. See which parts of the technology sector are worth watching and what you should avoid.

Plus, the plastic handcuffs. Find out how to handle debt before it starts handling you. We'll have some tips for single women and everybody else.

And an image crisis. Wal-Mart's PR moves last year nailed it the top spot in a list of dumb business moments. We'll tell you about that and some of the other winners.



ROGERS: Our next guest believes the technology sector holds the key for the near term future of the markets. Here with what you need to know for investing this year is Barry Hyman, an equity strategist at EKN Financial Services. Thank you so much for joining us here in the studio. I want to know technology is a little bit of a mixed bag, but what do you think about sticking your big toe into the Internet sector here?

BARRY HYMAN, EKN FINANCIAL SERVICES: I think it's a good place to be. In the near term the cyclically, the seasonality works against the tech sector probably for the next couple of months, but I think if you have a bigger picture type of perspective, the tech sector, I think is a great opportunity for investors. It did under perform the markets last year. It wasn't even up double digits last year.


HYMAN: So the S&P 500 and the other sectors. I think when you look at the tech sector; you have to believe that investors at this point of the market have an appetite for a little bit more risk in the market. Risk is evidence of the growing premiums to the market itself where there is risk if things go wrong. When the investors get appreciable of that type of scenario, they want to come and they look for stocks and they look for the NASDAQ stocks. They look for technology stocks. I think this is a good time, and I think 2007 when we look at the big picture of the end of the year is going to be good for the technology sector. Internet is based upon media and it is based upon advertising models now. It's very consumer-centric. I think when you look at that particular part of it I think it is a good part to be into.

ROMANS: Do you buy Internet stocks separately or do you buy them in some kind of a basket? Do you buy them in some kind of an exchange- traded fund? How do you wade in there in Internet stocks?

HYMAN: Well I think if you are looking at the EPF that is always a good place to start. There are a couple of those that are out there.

ROMANS: Exchange Traded Funds. What if you don't want the risk, one kind of stock or one stock in particular?

HYMAN: This is good for a new investor. I would caution though that anyone that is going to get involved in technology don't put all your eggs in one basket. That has truth to anything in the market. With technology you have to be a little bit more aware that there is so many parts of tech as a generic term. There are many different parts, software, hardware, Internet and various different parts.

HYMAN: Semiconductors that you want to be aware of.

WESTHOVEN: What about the old investors? By that I mean people who invested back in 2000 and got creamed, creamed, though. You know, they lost you know, yes.

ROMANS: They're still afraid.

WESTHOVEN: Friends, you know, relatives who lost a lot of money. They were in Lucent. They were working for some start-up. They had quit their jobs. Now they say back when I was rich. You know, they're still scared. They're still scared of these stocks.

HYMAN: Psychology of the market for those people still works against them. I think they're just starting to dip their toes back into the market in tech. Back then it was a different story. You had a bubble. You had companies growing at 20 percent a year; trading with multiples of 100 pd. ROMANS: It seems so normal then, didn't it?

HYMAN: It seemed normal, and it seemed kind of wacky at the same time because everybody was making money until the end came, and the end came rather suddenly. Now you have different multiples in the market, different valuation standards. Big cap, mega-cap technology stocks are trading at 15 to 18 times earnings. Not much different than the market multiple itself. Companies are making money this time around. Back then companies were not making money. They were going public on the hopes of something like this, and a lot of the ideas, a lot of the companies that went public back then, companies in the broadband sector, for instance, they were just ahead of their time. They didn't make money back then. Now that's all you hear about. That's the Internet sector. You always have to be careful how you look at the market. Vary your investments and go into different stocks. Go into a mutual fund that specializes in technology or an Exchange- Traded Fund that gives you diversification.

ROGERS: Where are the dangerous parts of the tech sector right now that you wouldn't want to get into right now?

HYMAN: I think you have to avoid anything that's commodities at this point. That means they don't have pricing power on their side. The PC makers are tough. That's because prices are always coming down and margins are being crimped. I think the one sector that we would look at that is also problematic is the semiconductors. Semiconductors carry commodotization, and they also carry sectorality, right now they are having problems with inventory problems because of a demand, so we would look at that as not wanting to into. The other parts that we like would be computer services, computer hardware, and stuff like that. Where it's tied into the consumer and media and advertising models.

ROMANS: Barry Hyman, thank you for trying to get us off on the right foot here in 2007 from EKN Financial Services. Thanks for joining us.


ROMANS: CNN first met the Simmens family of Claremont, Florida, a year ago as they told us of their struggle to stay in the middle class. In this week's "Family Money" we find the Simmens family have added a child to their family in the last year and $15,000 of credit card debt.


ROMANS (voice over): For the Simmens family 2006 saw the birth of a baby boy, an eight-week maternity leave for Stephanie, a job change for Adam, a new addition to the house for grandpa and grandma who live with them, and a pile of bills.

ADAM SIMMENS, MIDDLE CLASS FAMILY: The expenses went up, income went down, prices of diapers, formula, food, bread, a gallon of milk, everything. Everything has gone up.

ROMANS: Last year the Simmens told us it was a badge of honor not to tap those credit cards. This year

Stephanie, a third grade teacher, said they had no choice.

STEPHANIE SIMMENS, MIDDLE CLASS FAMILY: Our credit cards became our kind of source of a second income. I went back to work early so that I could -- we could start paying off -- paying back some of those credit cards, and kind of trying to float back up to the top of the water again.

ROMANS: But Adam switched to a lower-paying job in private security, he says, for better health benefits. That brought their income, they say, to just about $41,000 compared with $55,000 the year before. Stephanie's parent's baby sit keeping their child care costs down. High property tacks in Florida keep them out of a bigger house.

S. SIMMENS: It's not just my family. I think most of the families here that are middle class are struggling. We hear the same stories from teachers at school going through the same things, and I hear the parents going through the same things when we ask for extra money for projects or extra supplies, but, yet, we are considered the middle class.

ROMANS: And struggling to stay there.


ROMANS: The family tells us it is hopeful that 2007 will be a better year for them. Adam starts a new county corrections job just this week. If they can put the credit card bills behind them, then they can start thinking more about the future.


ROGERS: Thanks, Christine. Well there's more to come here on IN THE MONEY. Up next, so much for the big spending shoe addict. More single women are working for their own money and saving it. Stick around and watch us trash some stereotypes about unmarried women. We'll have tip on improving the financial lives they really lead.

Plus, clean out your desk. We're going to show you how Google treats its workers right down to the free workouts and the fancy food. Stick around.


ROGERS: For the first time more than half of the 117 million women living in the United States are without husbands. Our next guest says single women need to know more about their money than ever before. Glinda Bridgeforth is a financial coach and the author of "Girl, Get Your Credit Straight." She is joining us from Detroit. Thank you so much for joining us.

I want to know do women get a bad rap when it comes to money? There's some misconceptions out there that I'm going to may my paycheck and run to the mall and spend it all before I, you know, even blink twice? GLINDA BRIDGFORTH, FINANCIAL COACH: Well, thank you so much for having me, and absolutely, I believe that women get a bad rap. I think that because we know that we're -- we tend to be emotional type beings, I think people tend to think that we're the only ones that spend on an emotional level.

Yes, in fact, I do think that our self-esteem is really important when we're feeling sad or lonely or bored or depressed, then we tend to do that retail shopping, that retail therapy that a lot of people have made us known for, but I do think, also, that men do the same sorts of things. I think that sometimes theirs are just bigger ticket items. It's the big screen TVs. It's the motorcycles, computers, but no, absolutely. I think women get a bad rap.

WESTHOVEN: And, Glinda you say that this headline that came from "The New York Times" more than half of women are living single is actually a great wakeup call they should stop dreaming about prince charming to rescue them from their little place and get their financial hmm in order.

BRIDGFORTH: He might, after all, just be a frog.

ROMANS: You can still dream a little.

BRIDGFORTH: I do think it's a great wakeup call. I think it's the reality check that we need that we have to begin to take personal responsibility for our own finances because we don't know what's going to happen in the future. Even if prince charming does come along, we don't know if he is going it stay. We don't even know if we'll want him to stay after a while, so, no, it is important, I think, for us to begin to take some action.

ROMANS: Glenda, let's talk about the title of the book "Girl, Get Your Credit Straight." Credit card debt drives me crazy, and we just profiled a family that over the last year had no choice but to rack up $15,000 in credit card debt. We know that there are 640 million -- there are two credit cards for every man, woman, and child in this country. Women, get rid of those credit cards or use them wisely.

BRIDGFORTH: Well, credit is not a bad thing. I think credit is a good thing. It's the abuse of credit that is the problem. I understand that there are situations where people get backed up against the wall, but my philosophy is that we've got to be pro active. If we can do some preventive types of things, like make sure that we minimize our credit, that we don't, you know, get ourselves on the edge so that if something happens, then it just throws us into chaos, but I also think that it's important for us to make sure that we've got that savings cushion, that emergency fund, and if you have got that, then sometimes when a situation comes up where there's a loss of an income or some other family crises or whatever, then you can go to that savings as opposed to pulling out credit cards.

ROGERS: In your work and in your research, how have you seen women struggle with money break down on socioeconomic lines or on cultural lines? BRIDGFORTH: You know what, I have been in business for over 16 years, and it's really interesting. I think that there are more similarities than there are differences. It really doesn't matter whether a person is earning $20,000 a year or $120,000 a year. I tend to see the same sorts of issues and problems on both sides of the spectrum.

You know, self-esteem is a big issue. Again, how we feel about ourselves is an indication as to how we behave with our money. Depravation is an issue. Sometimes what we do is we may have had some sort of depravation or impoverishment from the past, whether it is financial or emotional, and what we tend to do is we try to compensate for that. No matter how much money we spend today, it's never going to fill the hole or the void that we may have had in the past where we try to medicate ourselves.

Then lastly is fear. I find that to be something that is pretty much spread across the board, and, basically, that's fear that, you know, there's not enough. There's never going to be enough. There's fear that I'm not smart enough to handle my finances, so I see it on both sides of the spectrum.

WESTHOVEN: You know, I'm going to ask, what kind of women come to you? Because in a way if you are a woman and are you in a financial hole, it might be hard for you to think, oh, I'm going to pay a financial coach, right? Even though you might be exactly what they need. Who ends up coming to you?

BRIDGFORTH: Well, you know what, I have a lot of female clients, but actually in the last several years I find that there are a lot of couples that are coming, which I think is wonderful because -- and what happens in that case is in a both parties are working together. They're working on one accord in order to reach the financial goals.

My feeling is you can't afford to not pay someone, and, of course, you want to clearly make sure that you're not overpaying, but it's important to make sure that you get the support that you need because sometimes we need an objective pair of eyes to take a look at what we're doing because we've gotten in the habit of thinking that everything is a necessity when, in fact, there are some things that are really just wants. We've gotten to a point where we can't determine a want from a need.

ROGERS: Glenda Bridgforth, thank you so much for joining us. Definitely need an objective set of eyes sometimes when are you are shoe shopping. You are the author of "Girl, Get Your Credit Straight." Thank you so much for joining us.


ROMANS: Our corporate cousins at "Fortune" Magazine are out with their annual list of the 100 best companies to work for, and guess who is number one, Google. What makes this company so great? In this week's "What Works," "American Morning's" Alina Cho went searching for answers at the company's headquarters in California.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Ever wonder what's behind this home page? It's the Google flex in Mountain view, California. The people who work here are called Googlers, or if you are new, you are a noogler. And Google is hiring a 100 a week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can almost sleep here; you can do your laundry here. You can eat around the clock.

CHO: And all of it is free. Googlers and nooglers can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner here at any of the company's 11 gourmet restaurants. If you gain what's called the Google 15, hit the gym. Training is free. So are the massages. There's volleyball, swimming, rock climbing, game rooms, and scooters, and how is this for a perk? Google will kick in $5,000 toward the purchase of a hybrid car. All this and every day is take your dog to work day.

LASZLO BOCK, VP, GOOGLE: For us it's less an expense item and more an investment because we truly believe that it generates value for us in the business.

CHO: By value, Google means productivity. The Internet search engine is not just Google anymore, there's Froogle, Google Earth, Blogger, and g-mail, and Google is available in 110 languages. Many of the ideas are hatched not in the cubicles, but in the lunchroom or over coffee. Twenty seven-year-old engineer Niniane Wang is the quintessential Googler. She graduated from college at 18, was lured to Google from Microsoft, and loves her job so much; she immediately rejects all other offers.

NINIANE WANG, GOOGLER: What inspires them is not the ability to cash out and then relax and sail down the Nile, but what inspires them is the ability to change the world.

CHO: Google gets one million applications a year, one every 25 seconds. This year hired just 5,000.

CHARLES HUDSON, GOOGLER: Google gets the best and brightest for whatever it is we're trying to do. Whether it's our world-class chefs or the people who are running our advertising sales. People are just really talented here.

CHO: Alina Cho, CNN, Mountain View, California.


ROMANS: Say nothing of the stock. If you have been working there for a while before this company went public, then there's the little perk called the Google shares because that stock has been very, very good performer over the past few years.

WESTHOVEN: It's a great way to get people to want to come to work instead of to have to come to work, and when you alleviate all their daily chores, they don't have to leave to go and take care of things. Everything is taken care of.

ROGERS: I think we should try and get some of that here. A little dog would be underneath you.

ROMANS: Tea bags right behind us, though, Jen.

ROGERS: We have free tea and water.

ROMANS: Lipton tea bags and coffee from the machine.

Coming up next on IN THE MONEY give and take. Find out how one company's temporary iPod generosity put it on a list of the year's dumbest business moments.

And it's time to hear from you as we read some of your emails from the past week. You can send us email right this very second. We're at


WESTHOVEN: If business is all about learning from your mistakes, there are a lot of American corporations in full-blown education mode right now. The latest edition of "Business 2.0 Magazine" chronicles the 101 dumbest moments in business for the mast year. I love that list. They do it every year. managing editor Allen Wastler joins us now with a look at the list.

ALLEN WASTLER, MANAGING EDITOR, CNNMONEY.COM: You know what, our readers -- we put it on the Web too because we're partners with Business 2.0, and we put the list on the Web. We set a one-day traffic record.

ROMANS: Really?

WASTLER: Because of that list. That list -- everybody just piling in. You want to hear some of our favorites?

ROMANS: Please.

WASTLER: We've talked about this one before earlier in the year, but remember the Comcast cable guy?

ROGERS: I love that one.

WASTLER: All right. Comes in, shows up, going to hook this guy up with cable. He has to call back to the company to get a question answered, sits on the couch, and its taking so long, one hour, in fact. He drifts off to sleep.

ROMANS: He lost his job, right?

WASTLER: Right, because the customer videotaped it and put it on the web and it became a Web sensation. Comcast answer, rather than fix their system that the repairman has to call, nope, they fired the guy.

ROGERS: Bad about that.

ROMANS: Instead of working on a shorter call time.

WASTLER: That was just a dumb moment. OK. Another one of our favorites, National Semiconductor. OK.

ROMANS: What's this one?

WASTLER: In June they want to build up employee morale. We get a lot of that around here. Building up employee morale. They gave everybody a free iPod.


WASTLER: OK. That's pretty cool. All right. The very next month they had to lay off some people. Guess what they wanted back? Give me back your iPod.


WASTLER: It was company equipment.

ROGERS: Not a --

ROMANS: No, you can't do that.

WASTLER: The tribe called Quest is company equipment thing.


WASTLER: Very, very rude. That's another dumb moment. My personal favorite, this one is over in Germany. OK. There's a utility over there. ENBW. I don't know how you do it in Germany, but they lost the keys to one of their vital security areas in their nuclear plant in Phillipsburg. Oh, my goodness. They lost the keys, OK? Now, the keys get lost and everything. It took them several months to figure out they weren't going to find the keys and finally get the locks changed. You assume people had to go in and out of that secure area. I guess in this time of just, you know, terrorism and bad things and all sorts of stuff, they -- well, that was a dumb moment.

ROGERS: Not Radio Shack fired people by email.

WASTLER: Radio Shack firing people by email. That was OK. That was one of the moments. Also, Wal-Mart was the big winner because Wal- Mart had, like, eight different moments.

WESTHOVEN: Poor Wal-Mart.

WASTLER: Why beat on Wal-Mart anymore.

ROMANS: What about dumpster diving.

ROGERS: Northwest.

ROMANS: Northwest. Go look through the dumpster for valuable items.

WASTLER: And make your own baby food and make your own cat litter. There are many, many great --

ROMANS: I guess if you don't have a job, you have the time to do that.

ROGERS: What can you do?

WESTHOVEN: We have many for 2007 to talk about on this show.

ROMANS: I'm sure.

All right. Jen.

ROGERS: In this week's "Life After Work" we meet a former crusading New York prosecutor who became very successful at a related but also very different career. Randi Kaye reports.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): She has spent her life fighting for victims of sexual assault.

LINDA FAIRSTEIN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: When I came to practice law in 1972, the laws in this state and across the country were so archaic that most victims of sexual assault were not allowed to have a day in court. So the year I joined the office more than 1,000 men in the city of New York were arrested for sexual assault, 18 of them were convicted.

KAYE: Linda Fairstein spent 30 years trying to change that. In the U.S. Attorney's office she pioneered the use of DNA evidence and made other real changes.

FAIRSTEIN: There was no victim advocacy. There were no rape crisis units; there were no rape evidence collection kits. Those all came to be through the years that I did the work.

KAYE: But she had another passion, writing crime novels.

FAIRSTEIN: The summer of 1994 we went to Martha's Vineyard on our vacation, and I would spend a few hours every couple of days writing this first crime novel that became "Final Jeopardy."

KAYE: In 2002 with the success of her writing career, Fairstein retired from the D.A.'s office, but not from the fight for victims of sexual assault.

FAIRSTEIN: It's interesting now that some of the celebrity, if you will, of the fictional career gets me endorsed, people who will listen, who didn't listen to Linda Fairstein 35-year-old prosecutor.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


ROGERS: We'll be right back with more IN THE MONEY.


WESTHOVEN: Now it's time to read your answers to our question about whether you think the stock market will keep going up this year. Bob in Clearwater, Florida wrote, "The bull market cannot endure. It's been propped up by oil stocks and oil prices are falling. It's also overheated by credit buying and that cannot go on forever."

ROMANS: He is a doubter.

ROGERS: Joe writes, "Unlike the tech boom of the late 90s this recent run up has been gradual and sustained. I think the markets have further to gain, but all bets are off if taxes are raised for people in the $50,000 to $200,000 a year salary range."

ROMANS: And Richard in Seattle wrote, " The stock market is over valued and headed for a big correction in 2007. I suggest you buy gold if you have any money. We can worry about the post Iraq war recession in 2008."

WESTHOVEN: Next weeks email question of the week, "What's the dumbest thing you've seen a company or business do?" Go on send your answers to We love to hear from you. And also visit our show page

Thank you for joining us for this edition of IN THE MONEY. And also our thanks to Jen Rogers, managing editor Allen Wastler, and Christine Romans. You can catch Christine on "Lou Dobbs Tonight" weekend edition tonight at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

We will see you back here next week Saturday at 1:00 and Sunday at 3:00. See you then.