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Middle Class Still Struggling in the Economy; Outlook For Stocks; Impact of Unemployment Benefits
Aired March 14, 2010 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: Welcome to YOUR MONEY. I'm Christine Romans. Ali Velshi is off.
A year ago this week, stocks were searching for a bottom, and they found it. The S&P 500 rocketed 68 percent higher since then, a historic turnaround for stock, but less so for the economy and economy still not working for millions of out-of-work Americans.
You could say it's an upside-down world, a world where millionaires are being minted by the minute, 16 percent increase to the number of millionaires last year, but most working Americans are nowhere near ready for retirement.
The vast majority of you have less than $50,000 saved for retirement. It's not enough. But how can you prepare to retire when you just want to get back to work? Is this what recovery looks like and what does it mean for our country?
Stephen Moore is the editorial writer of the "Wall Street Journal," Benjamin Barber is a senior fellow at (INAUDIBLE) let me start with you Stephen Moore. You think that a rising tide lifts all boats, that it is a good thing that we are creating wealth again in this economy.
STEPHEN MOORE, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yeah. It's sure important that we get this stock market turned around, and it has turned around, as you said. Most of the markets are up 60 percent. That's really important, Christine because remember, over half of all Americans own stock directly and another 20 percent or so own stock through their 401(k) plans and retirement plans.
So a rising stock market is good for all Americans. You correctly pointed out that we have seen an increase in millionaires in 2009, but remember in 2008, we saw about a 30 percent decline in the people who had million dollar incomes. So I think the fact that we've got more wealthy people is a good thing, but the problem is the one that you pointed out, that for middle class and lower income people, they're not seeing jobs. They're not seeing a rise in their income right now.
ROMANS: Interesting thing about the middle class and what's happening here is that the middle class, even upper middle class, hit particularly hard, even though there is a stock market advance. And the reason why is because a lot of their wealth is tied into either a small business or tied into the value of their home, real estate, and they are more likely to depend on a job. So you see this rift between middle class, upper middle class and then the ultra and the high net- worth individuals.
BENJAMIN BARBER, AUTHOR: We should start with an area of agreement. We all agree that millionaires are doing really well. I'm happy for them. But for the rest of America, that's not very helpful and we know in fact that unemployment lingers around 10 percent. If you figure that people aren't even looking for jobs it goes up to 16, 17 and if you parse that by the minority community, young African- American males and Latinos, it could be as high as 30, 35 percent unemployment.
So for a lot of people not having a job is a desperate situation. About one in eight mortgages have either defaulted or in danger of default. That means one in eight Americans are risking or already have lost their homes. Those are the real ways that Americans live and to talk about the stock market and how millionaires are doing is not only kind of irrelevant, but kind of outrageous in the face of what real America is facing.
ROMANS: But isn't this a sign there is some kind of recovery happening? I mean, we still see really dangerous signs everywhere, but February retail sales for example up 0.3 percent, a big surprise. In February people were buying furniture. They were going out to the mall. They were actually going out to dinner, even though there were all of these snowstorms and the like. Are we seeing the kernels of recovery that maybe you see them first in the stock market, but they will eventually Benjamin translate back to the middle class?
BARBER: Well here's the problem. There's always been historically a disconnect between what happens at the stock market and what happens in the economy. But as you say, we do see some small signs of recovery. But the problem is that may mean in six months, 12 months, 18 months off. If you're about to lose your home, if you still don't have a job to say, don't worry, 18 months from now things are going to be looking up.
You're asking what do I do in the intermediate time when I've got to feed my family, educate my kids, send a kid to college? And Americans are hurting and one of the problems here is the banks because the banks have adopted Harry Truman's slogan. The buck stop here which is to say they take the bucks from Washington and they don't go anywhere else. They don't re-appear in the business community. They don't reappear in the mortgage market.
So banks are hanging on and doing very well as they're trying to cover their toxic debts, but the rest of America is still in big, big trouble and promises, promises it may be getting better, but they need to see the reality today.
ROMANS: Stephen Moore, is this what recovery looks like? I mean is this how choppy and painful, but this is what recovery looks like?
MOORE: No. I think this is a really weak and disappointing recovery, Christine. We are in the beginning stages of recovery, but if you look at the last seven or eight recessions that we've had, usually we boom out of recession. The economy gets its mojo going and we usually have 6, 7, 8 percent growth. I think you're right that we're not seeing any of the job creation that we hoped for. I think most of the jobs programs in Washington have failed.
But the one positive sign I think is the stock market and it's important for people to understand why a rising stock market helps the economy generally, because a rising stock market is an indication that investors think that corporate profits are going to improve. When corporate profits improve and businesses are more healthy, guess what? They hire more workers. So I think it's a leading indicator, hopefully that we're going to see some jobs later this year.
ROMANS: But at the same time Steve you say the president's job policies are not on track but you say the stock market is telling us that something is on track?
MOORE: Yeah. Look I think the natural animal spirits of the economy show and our kind of entrepreneurial economy is going to show up in an expansion of 2010. I'm pretty bullish on 2010. I'm just worried that we're not going to see -- remember, Christine we lost 10 to 11 percent of the GDP in this terrible recession and so we need to see two or three years of a stronger recovery just to regain the jobs and the lost income that we saw in this recession.
ROMANS: You say two to three years. There are others who say far more two or three years. I mean 100, 150 (sic) jobs created every year just to keep up with people graduating from high school and immigrating to this country who are going to get a job. So that shows you that it's a very -- you're going to have to have a strong, strong recovery, Benjamin to get us back to par, right?
BARBER: Indeed. And you want to look at both in politically and humanly about people to whom you say don't worry. In two or three years, maybe five, but probably two or three, you'll have a job again. Two or three years of continued joblessness, that's desperate. The other missing piece in the puzzle we haven't talked about is the role of government. I disagree with Steve.
The stimulus bill is the best thing that's happened to the economy and an awful lot of that went to the states, went to jobs and that was great. It broke the fall of the economy. It didn't bring us back, but it really helped break the fall and what we need is more partnership between the marketplace and government, not less and right now we're getting real resistance to any further government input. Government is the place where we as a people do together which it can't do alone and it helps make capitalism work.
ROMANS: We're going to talk (INAUDIBLE) we're going to talk about this more. We'll talk about jobs, when they are going to come back. The government's role in all this and how we're going to pay for all of it and an awful lot of record red ink in February. We're going to talk about all that in just a moment. But coming up, the blistering stock market rally, it helped grow this new crop of millionaires. But for the rest of us, is it a time to jump in the stock market or get the heck out?
ROMANS: We're back with Stephen Moore, author of "Return to Prosperity" and Benjamin Barber, author of "Consumed." Stephen, let me ask you first, last week we had an economist on the show who told us that 40 percent of the long-term unemployed, 40 percent of the unemployed are going to be left out of this recovery.
They may have a very difficult time getting a job back and it's government's responsibility to maybe spend $100 billion a year to figure out how to take care of these people because the economy is working but not working for them. What about the long term unemployed, the people who can't get a job? What are we going to do as a country to fix this?
MOORE: It is a big problem Christine. You really put your finger on the situation. The most depressing part of unemployment is that a large percentage of the people unemployed now have been unemployed for more than 18 months. That's a long time to not have a job and not to have an income.
I just happened to think we're not approaching this the right way. The only area where we're really seeing much growth in jobs right no is in government. It's interesting to me the town that I live in in Washington, DC is booming right now while the rest of the country isn't creating many jobs at all.
ROMANS: It's interesting because a lot of people have told me that the center of gravity of this country has moved from Wall Street to Washington and they are not quite sure which one is worse or better, quite frankly.
Benjamin, I want to show you a screen that we put together about how many people are available for work. There are 2.7 million job openings in January. That's a vast improvement, but still that compares with 4.4 million job openings in December 2007. It shows you that we need to have more jobs available. It means there are 5.5 people now vying for every job opening and that compares with just under two people for every job when the recession began.
When I give statistics on the air, people call me, write me, e- mail me and say 5 1/2 people are competing for the same job? No, it's much, much more than that. The job situation, are we going to be able to fix this in the near term? Are the presidential policies working?
BARBER: Here's the problem. There's always Christine a vast gap between abstract statistics that tell an accurate story aggregately about the country and what it feels like if you're one of those millions and millions without a job, without a job, as Steve said for maybe 18 months or longer or among the 6 or 7 percent who aren't even on the market anymore because they've given up. To them to be told, quite a lot of people are getting jobs. There are 2.7 new jobs, not for me, not for my family, not for the people in my immediate penumbra who are affected by my income.
So we need a program that gets to those hard luck cases, of whom there are millions who are losing their homes or without work. We do not have it without help from the government. Government employs people in Washington. It employs people throughout the country through the stimulus which got construction going, highway construction going, repairs going, infrastructure going, alternative energy going. Those are all vital job areas. We need more jobs there, more money there. The market will help but government needs to help as well.
MOORE: You know, here's the problem, Christine that I see with that philosophy. Where do most jobs come from in this country? They come from businesses and they come from mostly actually small businesses, employers who hire less than 50 workers and those are the businesses that are kind of on strike right now.
They're hunkered down. They're very worried about the future and you know what? They're worried about Washington. They're worried about the health care bill with the new taxes, the union agenda, the climate change, cap and trade. A lot of what we're doing in Washington, I'd make the case, is anti-employment. We haven't done much to help the major small business employers hire more workers.
BARBER: Christine can I respond to that? The real issue here it is true. I agree completely with Steve. Small businesses are the heart of the American economy and American capitalism. They are hurting. They are hunkered down not because they're afraid of government but because many of them can't get the small business loans that when government bailed out the banks that thought banks were going to do.
So a lot of that money is tied up in banks not just in the big, stupid bonuses but they're hanging on to it, worried about toxic assets in the future, worried about deficits and defaults in the future and they are not passing the money on.
ROMANS: Regulators are literally in the office telling them you have to tighten up your lending standards. You have to make sure you're not lending out money like it's candy like you did during the '90s.
BARBER: You know how they respond to that? They say fine, we won't lend it at all then we can't make any mistakes.
ROMANS: I want to talk about the future of debt though because we've already spent a lot of money to blunt the effects of this financial crisis and economic disaster. And now we have record red ink, 17 months of deficits. If you look at these $221 billion deficit in February. Just for the fiscal year to date now, $652 billion. Interestingly enough that February number comes with government revenue actually coming up a little bit, which was a welcome surprise, but, look. Guys, at what point does this become a very serious problem for what we can do in the near-term? Stephen?
MOORE: The think the idea of borrowing $10 trillion over the next 10 years, what is what is in the current president's budget, I think is real financial calamity and I really worry, Christine, if we stay on that path and don't get this budget under control, we may face another financial crisis as we saw in 2008 and it's going to be just as gut wrenching as the one we just lived through.
ROMANS: Do we have to spend now though to fix the problem so that we can fix it later? BARBER: The national budget is a family budget is absurd. We need to spend to fix things as a percentage of GNP. Our debt today is certainly not any worse than it was in other crises in our history, whether there's the wars or other financial crisis.
In the unwillingness to put the muscle of government finance into fixing things, whether it's health and so on is absurd and also deeply hypocritical because when it comes to national defense, they're not for that. We pour trillions not just into Afghanistan and Iraq but into antiquated nuclear weapons and things that don't help national security. Let's spend a little where it counts.
ROMANS: It all goes together doesn't it? Benjamin Barber, senior fellow at (INAUDIBLE) thank you so much, Stephen Moore, editorial writer of the "Wall Street Journal," Gentlemen, fascinating discussion. Have a wonderful weekend.
The stock market is up. Talking more than 60 percent in one year. Blink and you missed it because it's been a rough couple of years, right? We're going to tell what you some of the smartest people what they're saying about the market and how come some are saying, get out now.
ROMANS: There she blows. Take a look at the Dow Jones industrial average. Since March of last year, the stock market is up 62 percent for the Dow. It's been 20 years since we had a bull market like that. But everyone wants to know when the bull will run out of steam and especially when to get out of stocks, just as some of us are taking note of some of this big, big bull market.
Shawn Baldwin is the founder and CEO of Capital Management Group. Shawn, big question here. We know that we've minted all these millionaires in 2009 because many of them were exposed to the stock market and exposed to financial instruments that many Americans were too afraid of over the last year. Should the average American still be buying into stocks right now?
SHAWN BALDWIN, FOUNDER & CEO, CAPITAL MANAGEMENT GROUP: The answer to that simply is, yes. You're going to find that we're going to be, this is like, I like to say, a new bull and one of the things that's going to drive it is that there is approximately $12 trillion of institutional money out there. This money is managed by professional money managers who now more than anything else worry about one thing, beating the S&P 500.
If they don't beat that index they don't have a reason to have a job. They're going to continue to put money into the market and what I like to call, if we had a market meltdown, this is something like a melt up or pile up. No one wants to miss it.
ROMANS: No one wants to miss it, but how long can it last? Since 1932, the average bull market has lasted about four years. But it's taken longer to go 60 percent or something. We've done an awful lot of rallying in just a year. Could this one be shorter? You know, a bull market on steroids, we're looking at some sort of a fall here going forward especially if the economy doesn't perform the way many expect it to.
BALDWIN: There's reason to have concern there and I don't want anyone to think that as economists like to say, there will not be possible new tests of the lows. There may be a potential dip at some time that will be caused more than likely by overly aggressive shorting of someone getting bad information, trying to -- but fundamentally, structurally, the market's in a great position.
After recessions, markets tend very much to be what we call range bound. The determination of what the range will be is something that no one can really answer yet. Fundamentally, we know that more institutional money managers have to put money in. Second, look at our market in terms of the private equity market in M&A. There are going to be two other components that help to drive this market.
ROMANS: A lot of deals you think, right? They have to compete. They have to grow some way but that's going to mean companies buying companies and M&A mergers and acquisitions are going to have to go out there and do some deals. So where is the hot money going, then, the hot money, the smart money? It's not necessarily going into the things that got us here right? We should be looking at other areas, then, for the next leg of this thing?
BALDWIN: Of course, emerging markets are on fire and they have been. A lot of people aren't really sure as how they are going to go into merging markets. You can get exposure into those by going into multi-nationals here in the UK, names that you know that will have growth in other places.
A second area that's going to accelerate that may not necessarily be as much for your viewership is going to be in terms of foreign exchange and currency trading as the entire world essentially decided to ease at the same time. However, we will go out in a dis-coordinated fashion and that's going to create a tremendous amount of volatility in terms of prices and currencies.
ROMANS: That means different countries are going to raise interest rates at different times. That means that as those interest rates, differentials change, some currencies are going to be more valuable than others because you have to buy that currency to get into these debt instruments that you're trying to get the yield on. Shawn Baldwin, founder and CEO of Capital Management Group. some great advice there after a very, very big run-up year. A lot of people trying to figure what to do next. Shawn Baldwin from Chicago, thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
ROMANS: Ninety nine weeks of unemployment benefits, a much needed helping hand, or a handout?
ROMANS: A record number of Americans are paying the bills with their new jobs bill, paying the bills with unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks under the legislation. And although the average American only collects unemployment for about six months, more than 10 million people currently receiving the support. So is the money more of a handout or is this a much-needed helping hand or both?
Peter Morici, professor at University of Maryland school of business is here to give us a little more insight into this. When we talked about the last extension of jobless benefits, there were some concerns in Washington that this was going on for too long at a cost of about $10 billion a month, that this can't go on forever.
Even one economist from the University of Chicago, several economists, one from the University of Chicago Robert Shimer (ph) who said that 1.5 to 2.3 million people by his analysis stayed unemployed longer because they received jobless benefits. Peter weigh in on this for me. Does extending jobless benefits keep people unemployed?
PETER MORICI, UNIV. OF MARYLAND SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: I think it does. If you only have 26 weeks of unemployment insurance, you loose your job, you get focused real fast on finding another job because it takes some time. If you have two years of unemployment insurance or almost two years, there's a real temptation to get involved with another project.
There's also the issue of two-income families. If you make $1,000 a week and they gave you $500 in unemployment benefits, in a two- income family, the reduction in your take-home pay is not that large. And so the incentive to go find another job quickly is reduced. This does extend to how long people are on unemployment insurance.
ROMANS: We do agree that in this kind of economy, which is unlike anything certainly we've seen since the early 1980s that extended unemployment benefits was necessary as the right thing for our country to do, but at some point we have to talk about an exit strategy.
MORICI: We have to talk about an exit strategy at some point. During the Ford/Carter years, when we were in the kind of job market we will be going into. That is where people will be finding jobs but they're not always going to be commensurate with their qualifications. In those years people abused unemployment benefits quite a bit. They would get themselves unemployed, go to school, get themselves unemployed, run for public office.
We had one guy running for a school board who admitted he was using unemployment benefits to finance basically full-time campaign. In Canada, they had terrible experiences with this. People rotating jobs in communities. They would work six months, then someone else would work six months. They would kind of swap the jobs around.
ROMANS: I have to say, Peter, I mean, I think most people want to get a job and they want to get a job that they're going to advance in, that's going to make them be able to grow their family well. There are always going to be people who are going to scam the system, but for the most part, isn't this a country that likes to work, wants to work and at this point, the job market just isn't working for us? And at what point is, are jobless benefits anyway just a band-aid to fix policies so that we're creating jobs for people to get instead of unemployment benefits?
MORICI: You're really creating two issues. One is that extended benefits can't start to gradually start a culture and people start becoming attuned to the notion that they're entitled to this and therefore they can take time off. And so that you do have people who decide to just take some time out. That's not good for the economy. It shrinks it. The other aspect of it, the Obama administration really is not taking the substantive steps it needs to take to fix the economy.
ROMANS: Like what?
MORICI: They're taking the easy way out. Well, the trade deficit. Its export promotion program is really not going to fix the trade deficit and the trade deficit is responsible for a lot of our unemployment. There's not enough customers.
Also, businesses can't borrow money. They spent most of the TARP money making Wall Street rich. They didn't use it as was originally intended, to create a bad bank of sorts to clean up the books of the banks. So the 8,000 regional banks, terribly troubled, lots of failures, almost 200, more to come.
So you know, if Obama wants to get serious about fixing trade, fixing the banks, doing business with China, restoring bank capital, we can get people to work.
ROMANS: The president this week had a press conference where he talked about -- or an availability at the export-import bank, where he said, Look, I have named this export council. We are going to double American exports over the next five years. I mean, that's a tall order and a high -- a high mark to try to hit.
I want you to listen to what the president said, and I want you to tell me, do you think he can do it with the policies that you've seen? Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't be satisfied with being number one right now. We shouldn't assume that our leadership is guaranteed. When other markets are growing and other nations are competing, we've got to get even better. We need to secure our companies a level playing field. We need to guarantee American workers a fair shake. In other words, we need to up our game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Peter, if we up our game and double our exports, but China triples its, then don't we still have the same trade problems?
MORICI: Absolutely. It's no trick to double your exports in a five-year upswing. The trick is to double your exports without doubling your imports. You know, if exports go up by a trillion, imports go up by two trillion, it's still going to be, you know, millions of jobs lost net. You know, it's no good to create one new export job to lose four new jobs to imports. No, this president talks a good game on trade, but frankly, he plays like the Toledo Mudhens in this arena.
ROMANS: But you were critical of the last administration on trade, as well, right? Am I right?
MORICI: Absolutely. This is essentially a continuation of the Bush policy on trade.
ROMANS: All right.
MORICI: That's my problem with the Obama administration.
ROMANS: Peter Morici, professor, University of Maryland business school, who is a bipartisan critic of trade policies in this country. Peter, thank you so much. Have a great weekend.
MORICI: take care.
ROMANS: The fallout over Toyota, why some are predicting a recall mania and whether that's good for us, next.
ROMANS: All right, time now for a look behind the headlines. Our good friend and YOUR MONEY regular, Richard Quest of CNNI's "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS," joins us from Bahrain, and Rachel Sklar, editor at large at Mediaite.com, joins us from LA.
From recalls to runaway Priuses, Toyota owners feel under siege, just like the Toyota brand, you guys. How badly damaged is that brand? The CEO, Akio Toyoda's, worldwide apology tour is over, the congressional hearings in the U.S. nearing an end. Is it possible for the Japanese auto maker, Richard Quest, to repair its image?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Absolutely. It comes back to what you and I have talked about before on this program. Do people believe this was a transgression from the gold standard that had been held before? If they do believe it was a transgression, this is over and done with in 18 months to two years. If, however, it continues to rumble on and there is something systemically wrong, then I think you've got problems.
At the moment, I believe I can see it being contained, and you and I will just put this in the textbooks of what happens when companies screw up.
ROMANS: Well, Rachel, it's quite a big screw-up. I mean, millions of people looking at their Toyota and wondering if it's just going to run away from them, if they're going to have the resale value on this Toyota. And even look at February, you know, sales numbers. It shows that people are shying away from this brand.
RACHEL SKLAR, MEDIAITE.COM: There's no question that Toyota is like the national punchline when it comes to bad cars right now. I mean, you've heard it on all the late-night shows. But you know, I was just thinking back to when there was that scare with Tylenol, when there was -- you know, people were getting poisoned from Tylenol caplets back, like, (INAUDIBLE) two decades ago. You know, no one thinks twice about buying Tylenol now. They're probably not happy I'm bringing that up.
SKLAR: But the point is that brands can recover, and you know, Toyota is -- at the very least, has finally gotten in front of this. So you know, eventually they will.
ROMANS: Let's talk about the Toyota recall embarrassment in the context of other auto makers because it's made them sit up and listen. GM recalled 1.3 million vehicles March 2nd. A few days earlier, Hyundai announced a big recall, Nissan, Mazda did the same. Hundreds of cars are recalled every year in this country, so some of those vehicles might have been recalled anyway. But now we're -- everyone's heightened -- their awareness is heightened because of the Toyota problems. But will all these recalls actually make you safer?
Rachel, some experts suggest that, you know, there may be an increase in recalls, but it doesn't probably increase auto safety overall. How do you weigh in?
SKLAR: Just because all these auto companies are now announcing all of their recalls doesn't necessarily mean that cars are less safe. It just means that auto companies are prudently opting for recalls at this point. Recalls are sort of, like, a last resort for auto makers. Nobody likes them. It's obviously way more expensive to fix a car after it's off the factory lot.
And -- and you know, and consumers don't much like them, too. Consumers would probably prefer, you know, not to have to deal with a recall, as well, but -- so I think that what is working for car companies now that are not Toyota is that it's a smart move for them all to be announcing their recalls right now because if you've got, like, a rash of recalls, then you won't focus on any one brand.
SKLAR: You won't focus on Nissan or Mazda or, you know, the Chevy Cobalt. And it's still -- it's still all in the context of Toyota...
ROMANS: ... all the headlines and all the -- yes, everyone...
ROMANS: ... keeps talking about Toyota. That's a very good point, Rachel.
Richard, this one's for you. Failings by Lehman Brothers executives and its auditor (INAUDIBLE) the bank collapse that unleashed the worst of the financial crisis. That's according to a report, a long and scathing report by a bankruptcy investigator out this week.
It brings me to the "Romans Numeral," Richard, eight months -- eight. That's the number of months it took for Lehman to go from record earnings to utter devastation, collapse. Lehman's bankruptcy filing in September of 2008 was, of course, the largest Chapter 11 filing in history.
The former CEO, Dick Fuld's, attorney released statement saying, among other things, that Mr. Fuld did not know what these transactions were. He didn't structure or negotiate them, nor was he aware of their accounting treatment.
This is these -- these -- these off-balance sheet-transactions, if you will, these "Repo 105" transactions that everyone was talking about, basically moving aside $50 billion. That's what his attorney says. Ernst & Young, the auditor, says that they didn't do anything wrong, either, that they, you know, gave them a clean bill of health in 2007, and that 2008 was a wholly different year altogether.
So who's -- who's at fault for Lehman falling apart, Richard?
QUEST: Yes. No, that report runs for some 2,200 pages. It also says that what happened at Lehman Brothers was not the cause of the economic crisis but the consequence of the crisis. And what the report doesn't say, and I think this is the core question, is whether or not Lehman should have been saved.
QUEST: Now, yes, with wonderful -- with wonderful hindsight, let me look -- excuse me, Christine. Let me just look in the mirror. Oh, look! I can see all the things wrong that Lehman did.
But now let's look at -- who's asking the question, Should Lehman have been saved? If we'd saved Lehman Brothers -- and I don't happen to think perhaps we should have done, but if we had saved Lehman, would there have been the seizing of the credit markets that ultimately took us into the worst part of the recession?
There was more wrongdoing than you can shake a stick at at Lehman Brothers, but this report, frankly, is not necessarily worth the 2,000 it was printed on.
ROMANS: Rachel Sklar, Mediaite, thank you so much, Richard Quest. Stick around, everybody, because next: Twitter may be popular, but Twitter has a problem, a big problem that could threaten its future.
ROMANS: Welcome back, Rachel Sklar and Richard Quest in Bahrain. Twitter -- it's the fattest growing social network in the world, nearly 50 million users. But according to the Web security company Barracuda Networks, 73 percent of Twitter users -- hey, they've only tweeted fewer than 10 times ever. So what makes you a user when you're just a follower? And with so many follow-only customers out there, does Twitter have the potential for growth, Richard?
QUEST: Right, now, first of all before we talk Twitter, I need to do a mea culpa! Rachel! Rachel, last time you and I were on YOUR MONEY, I said, What was the social usefulness of this social media? And you quite rightly, and in your blog, took a large scythe and hacked away at me! And I deserved every bit of it.
Listen, I discovered...
SKLAR: Sorry, Richard.
QUEST: ... firsthand some social usefulness of it. I was -- I discovered -- here in Bahrain, where I am at the moment, the foreign minister tweets regularly. Now, I was at dinner with the minister, and sure enough, we ended up having a tweeting battle over who was going to pay for dinner. This is a man who will -- seriously, he'll sit in cabinet meetings and he might occasionally send little indiscreet notes out. Now, that is a useful purpose of Twitter!
ROMANS: Well, you know, Rachel, one of the things about this Barracuda report that I found interesting was that it found a lot of people were using this just to retweet news links, as their own news feeds, not necessarily to have conversations with people. So it was more like a news feed for many, many people, or just to follow celebrities, not necessarily true social networking. What do you think, Rachel?
SKLAR: I think that retweeting is true social networking. That's saying, like, I just saw something of interest and of use, I'm going to forward that to the people who follow me. And that's how, you know -- and so on and so on and so on, like that old commercial. This is how stuff gets disseminated.
I think that, you know, everybody has these big expectations of Twitter. They forget that it's just a platform. I mean, it's a fantastic platform. It's a multi-use, it's a very diverse platform, but it's a platform the same way blogs are platforms, the same way print is a platform, you know?
ROMANS: Richard, last word.
QUEST: The fundamental problem I have with the retweeting, with the people using it as news tweets and all these things, is the quality of the material. It is -- you know, the provenance, the accuracy -- if we are moving to a situation of citizen journalism, which we are, then we're going to end up with also people wondering, what is the value of that which they're receiving? We're in transition. We ain't there yet. But I do question just what -- how much a lot of it is really worth.
SKLAR: That's why the value of curators is so important right now.
ROMANS: It's fun to experiment along the way, I think we can all agree. Richard Quest, Rachel Sklar, thank you so much.
Interesting we're talking about Twitter because I spent the day with Paula Deen this week. I asked her about tweeting, and she said, What's my tweeter number again? She does tweet, but she calls it her "tweeter number," which I thought was cute. I got into the kitchen with her. Hear how she started her business from nothing at all and how can you do it, too.
But first: Some say print is dead, but for Tish Leizens and her small magazine in the Pocono Mountains, the recession may have brought just the incentive needed to help turn her magazine into a successful business.
ROMANS (voice-over): For Tish Leizens, publishing was all she ever knew. So when she and her husband, Ed, settled in the Pocono Mountains in 2006, creating a magazine on life in the region seemed like a perfect fit.
TISH LEIZENS, , FOUNDER AND EDITOR, "OUR HOUSE": We can't be a traditional publisher. You know, that's not the way to go.
ROMANS: 2009 brought an award for Best Niche Consumer Magazine. But "Our House" wasn't immune the dire straits faced by countless magazines and newspapers across the country.
LEIZENS: Our revenues were down, but our fall (ph) issue -- our revenues were down by 50 percent, and our goal was to break even last year. So when we look at our numbers, we kind of knew that, you know, it was very difficult for us to make it for that year.
ROMANS: So Leizens brought on publishing veteran Tom Donnelly to help grow the business.
TOM DONNELLY, PUBLISHER, "OUR HOUSE": ... recreate. There's people in Manhattan that will come down and...
ROMANS: She conserved resources, cutting the winter issue. And with only two full-time employees, "Our House" is keeping overhead to a minimum.
LEIZENS: We outsourced not just editorial, we outsourced our distribution. We have a company working on our distribution. They care for our accounts, too.
ROMANS: And the page has turned for "Our House." Advertising is up 20 percent.
DONNELLY: Returning players, OK? We got Crystal Springs, you know, back in. Who else? Superior Wall is now back in. So again, you know, I want to be optimistic. I don't want to be overly optimistic. But it's encouraging.
ROMANS: The company is primed for growth. LEIZENS: We're actually getting other businesses other than advertising, like reprints or custom publishing, which we've never had before.
ROMANS: And the spring issue just hit over 200 newsstands.
DONNELLY: Approximately 118 Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores, you know, from Manhattan through Philadelphia, and then we embrace (ph) them of the local food market chains, some of the more boutique, specialized bookstores.
ROMANS: "Our House" thinks 2010 will be their year.
LEIZENS: We have a real good brand. We have a real good magazine. We have a good product. And we have a niche market that nobody has really tapped into.
DONNELLY: We do expect to at least break even and make a small profit for this year.
ROMANS: Christine Romans, CNN, New York.
ROMANS: Well, 20 years ago, Paula Deen was afraid to leave the house, had no job, two kids and $200 in her pocket. She is now, of course, Paula Deen, a household name. She says if she can do it, so can you. And if there's one thing Paula Deen loves more than butter, it's her family, her sons, Bobby and Jamie. She's their number one PR machine for "Good Cooking," their new magazine on newsstands now, really geared toward men, grilling, some interesting "get home with the family" kind of dishes in here.
I met with Deen, the whole Deen family, at the Food Network kitchens. We did a lot of cooking and a little bit of conversation.
ROMANS: The last time we talked, we talked about the economy. And people are moving in, they're nesting, they're staying at home. They're buying food...
PAULA DEEN, "PAULA DEEN'S HOME COOKING": Right.
ROMANS: They're trying new things.
PAULA DEEN: Right.
ROMANS: Is this all part of kind of gearing onto that trend, do you think?
PAULA DEEN: You know, I really think so, Christine. Don't you boys? I mean, like, you cook a lot at home, Bobby. BOBBY DEEN, "GOOD COOKING" MAGAZINE: I do. And I think with things being the way they are right now, we want to do things that are affordable and easy and things that...
PAULA DEEN: Yes.
BOBBY DEEN: You know, particularly for me, being a single person and enjoying cooking, I like to be able to find things in my local grocery store...
BOBBY DEEN: ... you know...
PAULA DEEN: Yes.
BOBBY DEEN: ... pretty easily, and few ingredients.
ROMANS: Paula Deen, you really struggled. You had these two boys.
PAULA DEEN: Oh, honey, I...
ROMANS: You didn't have any money.
PAULA DEEN: I struggled.
ROMANS: You started making...
PAULA DEEN: No...
ROMANS: ... sandwiches...
PAULA DEEN: We had no money.
ROMANS: ... or lunches for doctors' offices, starting your own catering business.
PAULA DEEN: Right.
ROMANS: What -- for someone who is really starting over right now, what is your message for what you have done? How does it relate to them?
PAULA DEEN: I did start this lunch business called The Bag Lady, y'all. And every week, I would try to introduce a new recipe out there for folks to try, you know, tried to keep it interesting. But you know, I'm living proof, girls, that you can take control of your life at any age, take responsibility for yourself. Give it a little thought, and stick to what you know.
PAULA DEEN: And of course...
ROMANS: And try to make money doing what you know. PAULA DEEN: Yes. And trying to make money doing what you know.
ROMANS: Let's make some hamburgers.
PAULA DEEN: Let's make some hamburgers!
ROMANS: This is an economical thing to cook if you've got a family of four, you want to grill some burgers, you want to throw a nice dinner on. So what are you doing?
JAMIE DEEN, "GOOD COOKING" MAGAZINE: This is something that we did a lot growing up. We always had the money for hamburgers and wasn't always able -- wasn't always able to do steaks and things like that.
JAMIE DEEN: So this is a pepper jack burger, and it's really simple. We're taking -- this is, like, cans of fried onions from the grocery store, a little bit of cumin -- this is a great flavor that I love in here...
JAMIE DEEN: Yes. A little bit of salt. We're going to do a little bit of pepper. Now, this is the part that's going to be up to y'all. I've got a -- I've taken a jalapeno. I've taken the seeds out. So depending on how spicy you want these, you know, you might only go a little bit...
PAULA DEEN: You know how we'd bump that up a little bit?
ROMANS: What would you -- OK, Mom. How's Mom going to improve upon the recipe? Go for it.
PAULA DEEN: Well, I would take a stick of butter, real, real cold butter.
JAMIE DEEN: She's not kidding.
ROMANS: Wait a minute! News flash! Paula Deen wants to add sticks of butter!
PAULA DEEN: I would take it and I would cube it up. I'd throw it in the freezer, and then I would mix it up in with that hamburger meat. And with the jalapenos and the butter melting, y'all, that's a hamburger...
JAMIE DEEN: And so good for you, too!
PAULA DEEN: It is (INAUDIBLE)
ROMANS: And you -- you will have a lifelong...
JAMIE DEEN: And so good for you.
ROMANS: ... -relationship with your cardiologist with that...
PAULA DEEN: It is outrageous! No, butter is safe, honey. It's that other stuff you don't want to eat.
JAMIE DEEN: My favorite thing to eat with burgers (INAUDIBLE) potato salad. And Bobby's got my favorite recipe...
ROMANS: Let's do it.
JAMIE DEEN: ... down there.
ROMANS: Let's do it.
BOBBY DEEN: This is a little different recipe than what you would normally do, or what you normally think when you do potato salad. We're going to use a grill basket and about three pounds of fingerling potatoes.
ROMANS: Do you do anything to them? Did you boil them first? Did you...
BOBBY DEEN: Didn't do anything to them.
ROMANS: ... put any -- no olive oil, just...
BOBBY DEEN: Didn't do anything to them.
ROMANS: ... straight potatoes.
BOBBY DEEN: They're just raw, just raw like that. So we're going to -- it would take about 20 minutes, probably, to cook these all the way. All right, this is an ultra-creamy potato salad. It's really, really simple. It's got exactly what you think. About-and-a- half cup of mayo to start. And I've chopped up some fresh basil and parsley.
ROMANS: So those -- this is the finish part. These are just roasted on here for 20 minutes?
BOBBY DEEN: Exactly. And then cut. Going to eyeball a couple of tablespoons of olive oil here.
BOBBY DEEN: All right. Some whole grain mustard, Dijon.
PAULA DEEN: And that's really a whole, whole grain.
BOBBY DEEN: Exactly. It is. It's very chunky. Little bit salt and pepper just to taste. And the juice of about half a lemon is going to end up in here. And that's what's going to make it so creamy, is that lemon juice. ROMANS: Oh, the lemon juice makes it creamy?
BOBBY DEEN: Absolutely.
ROMANS: Now, when you go with a restaurant with your mom, I'm just wondering, does Paula Deen, like, comment on what she's eating at the restaurant?
BOBBY DEEN: Oh, Lord, yes!
BOBBY DEEN: Yes, she's...
PAULA DEEN: Do I what, Christine?
BOBBY DEEN: Comment on what you're having. Are you opinionated about what you're being served in most restaurants?
PAULA DEEN: Yes. In fact, they have told me before, Mama...
BOBBY DEEN: Please!
PAULA DEEN: ... this is just a meal. Just eat it. Don't critique it!
JAMIE DEEN: Are y'all ready for a burger?
ROMANS: Let's do it! Now you're all working together. You're doing this together right now. What's it like working as a family?
JAMIE DEEN: I'm thankful that we're able to spend so much time together. I'm 42 this year. My brother will be 40. And we see each other a lot. You know, we still interact...
PAULA DEEN: And I'm 46, y'all!
ROMANS: Let's have a drink to that.
PAULA DEEN: Let's have a bite of burger to that, y'all!
JAMIE DEEN: Thanks for having us.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
JAMIE DEEN: Cheers, Mom.
ROMANS: Paula Deen says she's just like you. She started from nothing with her family, hard work and a good idea. And now she is incredibly successful. She is using that success also with her sons and her restaurant and also in this new endeavor for a new magazine. So Paula Deen -- thanks a lot, Paula.
Thanks for joining me on YOUR MONEY. Ali will be back next week. You know, what do you want to learn? What do you want to know about money and saving and to save the country's finances? You can join our constant conversation on FaceBook and Twitter @alivelshi and @christineromans. And of course, that doesn't mean you can miss us for YOUR MONEY Saturdays at 1:00 PM Eastern, Sundays at 3:00. You can log on 24/7 to CNNMoney.com. Those recipes with Paula Deen are at the YOUR MONEY Web site. Please go there.
Have a great weekend.