Presented By: Golden Key Realty Group
Women & Success: Golden Key’s Evi Angelakis Talks With Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo
I recently sat down with Fox’s powerhouse Maria Bartiromo for an interview about women in C-suite, the economy and the departure of Amazon. I couldn’t have found a better person to continue my “Women & Success” series. Maria radiates strength and has been one of my favorites since her days in the New York Stock Exchange floor. Maria is an anchor of Mornings with Maria on FOX Business Network, Sunday Morning Futures on FOX News, and Maria Bartiromo’s Wall Street on FOX Business Network.
1) You have been on air for almost 30 years, covering the stock market, investments and the economy on daily basis. You probably know better than anyone else the different cycles including the recession periods and the booming years of the economy. Is there a pattern to these cycles?
Well, I think there are patterns in that every time we get into a boom period people start believing the hype. For example, when we were in the dotcom boom back in the 90s we were investing in companies based on clicks to the website as opposed to fundamentals like earnings and revenue. And we sort of got caught up in this idea that Internet stocks are going to go up because they have been going up and they just going to continue going up, until they just didn’t anymore and until the market came to a realization that you can’t invest in things based on clicks to a website. You invest on fundamentals like earnings growth and revenue growth. A couple of years later we’ve got the same thing when we started expecting housing prices to keep going up. So, when you look at several markets for example 2004, 2005 home prices were up 40 percent year over year. Pick any market- like Phoenix, Arizona in 2006. Home prices were up 40 percent year over year. Was there any reason for that? Was the school system any better? No. Was the population growth happening? No. It’s just that people thought that home prices are going up so they’re just going to continue going up until they didn’t. Until finally the market realized there’s too much debt in this market and there’s too much supply and there’s not enough demand. So the market busted and that led to the worst financial crisis in a generation. The same thing happened in 1987 in the stock market crash. People just thought that the stock market is on a roll, so it is going to continue going on a roll. There was no thought about valuations and about fundamentals but more so just momentum.
When you get into one of these momentum moves where things just going up up up and away and you just expect that they’re going to continue going up- it’s probably the wrong idea. You have to go back to the basic issue of- if things look too good to be true, they probably are. And so it’s really important to come back down to earth and recognize that sometimes these hyped up euphoric periods are not based on real fundamentals. And so it’s important to come out of these things with a lesson learned and that is the very basic lesson of – if it looks too good to be true it probably is and we need to value things based on real growth. I tend to always look at growth. Where is the growth in the economy? Where is the growth in earnings? You have to really identify where the growth is in any situation. And I think when you look at the patterns that we’ve seen in terms of ups and downs, we tend to do that even on the down side. We get so down because we think well it’s been negative and it’s going to continue to be negative until valuations gets to a point where they’re so extreme that you have to buy.
2) Many in our industry say we are headed for another recession. Other say the market is simply adjusting itself. What’s your take on it?
Well look, recessions happen every eight or nine years. We are in the 10th year of this expansion. So will there be another recession? Of course, yes there will be another recession but right now things feel pretty good in the U.S. We’re talking about record low unemployment, we’re talking about a story where economic growth has finally ticked up above 3 percent for 2018 a year over year which is very positive and wages are up about 3 percent year over year. That’s a very good sign. Having said that, the U.S. does not live in a vacuum alone. We are seeing a slowdown across the world. Europe is going to be lucky if it squeaks out growth at even 1 percent in 2019. You’ve got major problems in Europe with BREXIT uncertainty in Britain and Italy budget problems and France where there’s been protesting because of gas taxes and government reforms. Germany is not as strong as it once was. So Europe is weakening. We know that China is weakening you’ve got a tariff issue there and even though they say that they generate growth of 6 percent, people are questioning whether or not we can even believe those numbers. So when you see the rest of the world slowing down, the U.S. does not live in a vacuum. It will hit the U.S. because we export and import a lot. But right now domestically speaking things are going very well in the U.S. I do expect things will slow down a bit but I’m not expecting a recession anytime soon.
3) What do you think of the Amazon decision to pull out of the deal in LIC?
I think it was unfortunate. I think that when you have a company like Amazon which is obviously an exciting, growing company in an environment, it tends to lift many votes. Just visualize what could have been with an Amazon headquarters in Long Island City. That would lighten up the streets, it would clean up the streets, it would create lots of traffic and people. It tends to not just create the 25,000 jobs that they were talking about but it also creates an environment that is better with cleaner streets and more activity and life. So you really want to see that. So, it was unfortunate that the politicians got involved and couldn’t get together on this. Now having said that, you can’t give away the store for a company. You can’t say- ‘OK come here we’ll give you all the tax breaks to the world.’ I think part of it was that a lot of the competitors like Macy’s and others were saying were saying- how come Amazon is getting all these breaks and I’m not? But I still think it was really a negative. It was unfortunate and New York was the loser on that one.
4) You were the first person ever to start reporting from the New York stock exchange floor. How did you come up with the idea and did the producers need much convincing about this new trend of reporting?
No, I started my career at CNN when I was a production assistant. At CNN in 1989 and 1990 we were doing something that nobody else was doing. This was way before Fox News. This was Ted Turner’s CNN and that was an entrepreneurial company. We were broadcasting the first Gulf War literally as it was happening. I remember being a production assistant watching Bernard Shaw in Baghdad under the bed saying bombs are going off right now. Nobody else was doing that. All the major networks were waiting until 6:30 at night to bring you the evening news. So I learned how to report on a story as it was actually developing and that was my first entrée into reporting live news when I was a PA at CNN business news. It served me well later when I began to report from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, reporting on the stock market as it was actually happening. It was an incredibly exciting time, I was thrilled to do it. And the reason I think that we were able to get down there is because Dick Grasso wanted it, the New York Stock Exchange head wanted it. He was an ally of mine and we were starting a new show, Squawk Box, and we wanted it to be different. My producer and I went to Dick Grasso to see if we could bring a camera down on the floor. It was difficult. Nobody had done it before. A lot of the guys on the floor did not want it. So I did certainly face pushback, but it was new and it was fresh reporting on business news as it was happening and the stock market was the one face of business news. We certainly had to convince people on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, but once we got to Dick Grasso and made the appeal, and Dick was a good friend of mine at the time. I had worked there before CNBC, I worked at the New York Stock Exchange when I was a production assistant at CNN. So, Dick knew me and trusted me. He knew that I was responsible, but yes it was a new trend of reporting. I learned it first at CNN and took it to the New York Stock Exchange and I’m so proud of those days.
5) What was like working from that floor considering that 90% of the people surrounding you were men. What kind of challenges did you face, professionally or otherwise?
It was tough. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. When I first got down there a lot of people did not want me there. I got into a handful of fights frankly, I definitely did. Luckily I have sharp elbows myself, grew up in Brooklyn, and I’m not easily pushed around. But there were plenty of days when I went home thinking that this is really hard because I was alone in a sea of suits. It brings lots of challenges- it was hard getting information because some people didn’t want me there and some of those people were on the Board of the New York Stock Exchange. Even if I was talking with traders and trying to get information, they would get reamed after I left them by bosses and by people who were in higher positions in them and then they wouldn’t talk to me again. So it was very tough to get information on the floor of the stock exchange initially. It was very hard to make friends. But little by little I made allies and I had support and I ended up getting real information right from the post.
I was able to help democratize information for investors. That’s one of the proudest things I have done in my career. I’m so proud of the fact that I was actually among those people who helped democratize information for the individual investor. Remember, we were at a time when individual investors were trying to arm themselves with information so that they could make their own financial decisions and most investors pay big money for research and back then you didn’t give it away. All the big firms like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs- they were charged big money for independent research about what stocks they were buying or selling, the stocks they liked, and the stocks they were upgrading or downgrading. So it was very hard to get information at first, but little by little I made lots of sources and was very successful down there. So I’m very proud of my time on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and I’m grateful to people like Dick Grasso who made it happen.
6) At some point you were referred to as the ‘Money Honey,’ initially you didn’t like the nickname. Why was that? Did you find it sexist?
No, I never didn’t like it. I was very flattered to have been noticed right from the get-go. I didn’t find it sexist at the time, I was flattered to be noticed. Nobody really picked up the phone and said hello- Money Honey? It’s not like anybody really called me that. I was called that nickname in the newspapers, the New York Post came up with it because it rhymes, but I never felt that it undermined me in any way. I was always confident that my viewers and my sources knew exactly the person that they were dealing with. They knew that I was going to get right to business. They knew that I was going to ask the serious and tough questions and they knew that I was ready to go head to head with any man, woman or anybody else who wanted to talk business with me. So I never felt that it was undermining me at all.
7) Your rolodex must include every high- profile CEOs in the United States and abroad. What percentage of that would you say are women?
It’s a small percentage. There are plenty of women who are in leadership places and leadership roles but the CEO role and the corner office has been hard to get to for women. So I think that we’ve come a long way but we’ve got a long way to go. You can come up with lots of different reasons of why that is, why women have had a hard time breaking that glass ceiling. But I’m proud to say that since I was on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange there has been a great path and a great opening for women on both the journalism side, there are plenty of female reporters down there today, as well as women traders and investors. I remember meeting a handful of women on the board of the New York Stock Exchange. We all felt like we were the minority. That was another camaraderie that I was able to build with women on the floor because we were a small group. I think we have come a long way and I’m proud of the efforts that I’ve made to help women behind me. But there is still more to do and I think part of that has to do with leadership traditions in men. Maybe on the board of directors we need to appeal to the board members to say look, let’s be more diversified so that boards can push for more women in the CEO spot. But we haven’t really seen the numbers increase to the CEO office all that much. CFO’s, Presidents – those numbers have risen quite a bit for females.
8) The #MeToo movement and harassment is an issue women face daily in the workplace. The majority of women prefer to stay silent on this issue. How can a woman avoid being sexual harassed in the work place without jeopardizing her job or position?
Well, I think you’ve got to be firm. I’ve always been firm, when I first started out at CNBC somebody made a comment to me, one of my colleagues that I didn’t like, and I said: “don’t say that to me again because those are the things that get people fired,” so be careful. That alone changed the dynamics between me and that person, he never messed with me again. Sometimes you just need to be firm to make sure people understand you’re listening and you’re watching, and you don’t have to make much more of it. I’ve never been a cry-baby about any of this stuff because I work so hard and keep my head down and I’m constantly working. So usually I’m not bothered by it but I do think that women face a different element at work than men do.
9) Do you have any final words to investors in the banking business?
I think we are very fortunate to be looking at a backdrop that is quite strong in the US. But I think we can’t get complacent. I think you have to recognize that things change, we have to always be monitoring the backdrop for a investing. And if something does materially change, you have to rethink where your money is. It’s not a bad idea to constantly assess: am I still seeing the growth here that I expected, and am I still seeing the same situation, the reasons that I bought this stock to hold on to it? But I think today we have to be very happy that the U.S. represents the most deep and liquid market. And there are so many options for investors from individual stocks to mutual fund to exchange traded funds that investors really do have the best situation in the United States. And I’m proud to have had this front row seat in all of these cycles throughout the U.S. and global economy for the last 30 years. I learned so much and I’ve certainly grown my own portfolio which was one of the reasons that I came to Fox. In the last five years I feel like I have learned so much and grown so much in terms of not just investments, but the world. And I’ve stretched myself in terms of policy, I’ve had a front row seat, and politics as well as business. So, for me, I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to have a much more rounded portfolio.