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CNN IN THE MONEY
Which Way for U.S. Economy?; New Doc Examines Credit Industry; Do You Deserve a Raise?
Aired March 11, 2007 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD: "Now in the News," a desperate search for a newborn baby suffering from jaundice. Three-day old Mychael Darthard, weighs just over 5 pounds. Doctors say that without mother's milk or a special electrolyte solution, the baby's life is at risk. Authorities say she was abducted from a hospital in Lubbock, Texas, by a woman posing as a hospital worker. Police are asking anyone with information to call 806-775-2788.
This surveillance video shows the suspect walking through the hospital lobby. She is described as an African-American woman in her early 20s. About 5'3". She was last seen in a red pickup truck, believed to be a late model Dodge. Police say she may have a male accomplice.
At least four people are dead after an apartment fire in Chicago. Another man is in stable condition after jumping out of a third floor window. The fire broke out early this morning in a three-story building about a block from Wrigley Field.
The U.S. ambassador to Iraq calls it a first step. Representatives of Iraq, its neighbors and the U.S. met in Baghdad to discuss improving security in Iraq. There were rare direct talks between Americans and Iranians. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad calls those contacts, quote, "constructive and business-like."
We'll update the top -- oh, sorry about that. President Bush turns the other cheek, despite taunts from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the president held a news conference in Uruguay, the second stop on his Latin America tour. He stuck to talking about trade and friendship, ignoring an anti-American speech Mr. Chavez gave last night just across the border in Argentina.
And now we'll update the top stories at the bottom of the hour. Now time for IN THE MONEY.
ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to IN THE MONEY. I'm Ali Velshi. Coming up today, what you can learn from people who went overboard with their plastic. How to find out what you should be making on the job, and why it's so difficult to do so. But let's start with the little word that could have a big impact on your money. Recession.
After 18 years of barely decipherable mumbling, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan chose last week to send one very clear message. We could be headed for a recession. Joining me to talk about it today, cnnmoney.com managing editor, Allen Wastler, and Jen Rogers.
Recession, haven't heard the word in five or six years.
ALLEN WASTLER, MANAGING EDITOR, CNNMONEY.COM: Yes, well, you know, it's all sort of relative on how you view it. Now we could be formal and say. Well, macroeconomic definition of recession is two consecutive quarters of negative growth in the gross domestic product.
JEN ROGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That doesn't sound scary.
WASTLER: It's a pullback. And that's how people need to look at it.
ROGERS: I mean, when I think of recession, I think about my job and I think about my house. And a recession doesn't necessarily mean that you are going to lose your job. But it does it might be harder to find another one and you know, CNN may not be handing out raises at the rate that they do right now.
VELSHI: And fundamentally what that is going to do is it's going to make you pullback. It's going to make you not spend as much money, because we -- as we're going to talk about later on, we live in debt. We sort of accept that, as long as you think you can keep on paying it.
WASTLER: And then it become as vicious cycle. Because if you don't spend your money and I don't spend mine, then nobody's making money. So there's nothing to grow on, and so people cut back more. We stop spending even more and you can go down the hill and it could be terrible.
ROGERS: It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
VELSHI: Recessions don't cause recessions. People cause recessions.
ROGERS: Are you blaming me? I've been spending.
VELSHI: Now as much as we all know about this -- and that is the truth. It is the American consumer who knows about this, we are not economists. But Diane Swonk is, in fact, she is the chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago.
Diane, welcome to the show. Good to talk to you.
DIANE SWONK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MESIROW FINANCIAL: Good to see you.
VELSHI: What is going on here? Do you kind of think we're headed for a recession? I've never been able to make sense of Alan Greenspan and this was pretty clear. SWONK: Actually what he said a possibility of a recession. It was like a game of telephone, you know, when everyone talks into the other person's ear, and by -- it went from Hong Kong as possibility to Wall Street as a probability, which are two different things, first of all.
VELSHI: But he put a number to it. He said one-third probability.
SWONK: A third, yes. But a little bit higher than the blue chip consensus. You know, really not something -- you know, the majority then that the bigger risk is that the economy does exactly what the current Fed chairman, who has more access to resources in the real time economy than the former Fed chairman does, says we expect a reacceleration in growth in the second half of the year.
And I have to admit, my leaning is towards the current Fed chairman, not the former Fed chairman at this stage of the game. Although I knew Alan for many years.
ROGERS: When I think of recession, as I said, I think of jobs and my house. We talk about jobs a little, but how could this affect the real estate market? Is this something where we should all be biting our nails right now?
SWONK: Well, I don't think we should be biting our nails in the sense of, I don't think it's going to happen. However, if there is a possibility of it, absolutely. You're absolutely right. Because it means that you're taking already a downturn in housing which has not caused recession yet. In fact the economy has been fairly resilient through it.
But it means that if you are going to try to sell your house, it is going to be much harder. And especially for those people who are forced to sell, either because of a distressed situation or because they have to move for a job, maybe the jobs in their area aren't as good, and they have to move to an area where there are more jobs, then being able to sell may be compromised.
The other issue, and I think you really brought it up, of not getting raises. We've had a lot of wage stagnation already in this expansion. It's not the recession itself, it's the inability to recoup earlier losses, our inability to get out of it quickly in recent years that has been where the real pain is fought.
And many American households, because of higher energy prices, have already felt crimped. They have not seen the wage gains. And this will only exacerbates that, even if they have a job. They'll feel like they're losing ground.
WASTLER: Diane, what should people -- I understand that you don't think that there's a recession looming out there. And I kind of don't either. But what should we be looking at just in case? What are the signals saying, OK, it's coming? SWONK: You know, well, the big issue is inventories. One of the biggest things to lead us in to recession is when we have got a lot of excess inventory in the economy where we have got to drain them. And frankly, only one sector that exists now, we've done a lot of draining of inventories, it has caused a soft landing which is a pretty economist term for that rocky landing you get at the airport but you don't end up in a crash.
SWONK: I think that's important to understand is that, you know, we do have a soft landing. We have not seen -- the inventories are just not there to be drained, to cause the kind of contraction in employment you would necessarily see. The other issue is, are you going to -- do you have a big bubble, a stock market bubble to burst? Don't have that either.
So the things that typically cause recessions just aren't there. In fact, even in the mortgage market it may be harder to get a mortgage if you're not qualified. Frankly, I think that's good news, not bad news. But if you're a qualified borrower, there's still plenty of credit out there for you. For better or worse, you know.
One of the things I used to tell our credit people when I was in the banking industry is, you have to remember, it's someone's ultimate desire, if they don't want to hand out money to their children is to die in debt. Because it means they lived beyond their means their entire life.
ROGERS: What about inflations? Do you think -- and again, we are not in a recession right now, but if we started going down this road and people start getting more worried about it, what's going to happen to prices, say, at the grocery store or at the gas pump, you know, at the department store? What happens there? Do they go up or do they just flatten out?
SWONK: Well, inflation tends to lag, like after we have a weak spell where we have a recession, you do see a sharp deceleration in prices. It is not falling prices per se, although gas prices likely would fall in the U.S. as a result of recession, because our demand would be lower.
But in the broader spectrum of things, the competitive markets that we've seen already consumers, you know, waiting out early in the morning on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, to buy goods, very competitive pricing environment would be even more competitive.
It's great if you have got a job and you are not feeling squeezed. If you're at the high income of the income strata, you get to reap the benefits of that. Everybody else, the reason that the prices are lower because they can't pay for them any higher.
VELSHI: Diane, so what does anybody do? If we are watching these signals and we are trying to figure where the economy is going, what does the average person do about this, anything? SWONK: Well, there's not much you can do, except do what we should be doing already. And that's being more responsible about our retirement. Saving a little more. If we all saved a lot all of a sudden and stopped spending, that would cause a recession. So I don't really want that to happen. I want a more orderly transition.
But being more responsible, making sure that you have that cushion of cash. You know, we all should be doing anyways in our lives those things are the things you should be aware of when the economy is softening because you may need that little extra spare, you know, to carry you over if things actually were to go where I don't think they will, but if they were, it's always a possibility, if that, you know, 25 percent chance happened, you know, you want to have a cushion.
VELSHI: Diane's closing words, be a little more responsible, and save a little money.
Coming up next, drowning in credit card debt, and why one filmmaker says the system is rigged against you.
VELSHI: America's credit crisis took center stage in Washington this week. Senator Carl Levin led hearings on the Hill addressing interest rates, grace periods and fees. Industry reps warned -- or they were warned that if they didn't voluntarily clean up their act, they could actually face stricter regulation.
It's good to have someone to blame for the credit crisis, isn't it? I mean, we all know that we spend more than we earn. And we finance that imbalance often with credit. But what if the credit crisis isn't really your fault at all? Well, it's something that James Scurlock suggests in his new movie "Maxed Out," isn't it, James?
JAMES SCURLOCK, DIRECTOR, "MAXED OUT": Well, yes and no.
VELSHI: Tell me what you -- what do you -- you didn't come to this conclusion when you started this film. Tell me what you learned?
SCURLOCK: Well, I started with the assumption that everyone is just being irresponsible. But one of the absurdities of the new system is how the definition of personal responsibility has changed.
You know, I talked to a lot of people who had done everything right. They had no credit cards. If they wanted something they saved up and paid cash for it. And then they went out to buy a home, or rent an apartment or get utilities or insurance, and they found out they had a terrible credit score. And they said, how could this be possible? I'm doing everything right, I'm being responsible.
WASTLER: James, tell us, for people who haven't seen your film, my understanding is -- and it's coming out right about now, I believe, it focuses on people that have like really tragic consequences from the debt. Can you explain a little about that, and explain whether or not it's an extreme situation that you filmed? SCURLOCK: Well, you know, we looked at everything. I mean, we look at people flipping multimillion dollar spec homes and we look at people in the Deep South who are drowning under these predatory mortgages that we're now hearing a lot about.
So the film is pretty broad in scope, but there are a lot of people who have been taken advantage of. And if you look at the subprime numbers that came out recently, you find millions of people who couldn't pay their first mortgage payment or the8ir second mortgage payment. So these loans are really designed to fail.
ROGERS: You know, you talked about -- in the movie, a little bit about how they keep adding on fees and changing the contract on you, and you don't really know what you're dealing with, because you can't even figure out the credit card contract. Can you talk about that a little bit? How this just piles on top of people? It could just be something small that they started out with and in the end it turns in to this mountain?
SCURLOCK: Right. Well, you know, credit has gone from being a business that made money on interest and on a spread to being a business that makes a lot of money on fees. I think fees have gone up 1,000 percent in the last ten years for credit cards. So we had a Harvard Law School professor couldn't understand their contract. There's an MIT math professor who can't do this double psycho-billing math that a lot of the credit card companies use.
So for most consumer, it's just -- you know, it's impossible. Plus the terms and conditions can be changed at any time for any reason. So at the end of the day, the contracts are kind of meaningless to begin with.
VELSHI: Yes. I got -- one my credit cards sent something in the mail this week, a change in terms of -- and conditions. I actually just threw it out, I wasn't going to read it. I have debt. I work in this business. I have debt. I pay interest. I'm assuming you have some debt and you pay interest. Did you learn anything out of this thing, other than the -- sort of the misery that people live under in debt? Did you learn some magic trick that's going to help you do better?
SCURLOCK: Well, you know, if you the numbers, and you look at why people declare bankruptcy and you look at why people are in debt, the only real solution is to never go to the hospital, never get divorced and never lose your job, which I don't I think is that realistic for most people -- and probably never go to college.
Other than that, I think you just have to be very, very wary. You know, a lot of these people get the credit card offers and take them at face value. But if they're getting a credit card offer, it's not because they're responsible or because they're a platinum person or a gold person. You know, it's because they could make money for the credit card company.
WASTLER: James, bang on Congress a little bit. There was a big hearing... SCURLOCK: OK.
WASTLER: ... this week and everything. And they had all the big boy credit card companies come. Oh yes, we promise, we're going to be more transparent with our customers, which is a bunch of malarkey, quite frankly. I know you've been following it carefully, but all of these banks have big lobbying organizations that help get their point of view across in Washington. Is there any realistic chance that we'll get some sort of change out of D.C.?
SCURLOCK: Well, I think the congressmen are still sort of stinging from this bait and switch with bankruptcy reform where they were told that if they passed the bill, about a year-and-a-half ago, that all Americans would get this dividend in the form of lower interest rates. I think they said it was $500 or $600 we were all paying because people were gaming in the bankruptcy system.
And nobody has gotten a dividend check yet and I don't think interest rates have come down. So and I think Congress is very angry about this. And you have new -- the Democrats in charge of the committees and oversight are they are really taking these guys to task.
ROGERS: James, in the research it said that one of the best ways to stay out of debt is not to have children, which is funny and also sort of depressing for Allen and I. It explains why Ali is so well- dressed always.
VELSHI: (INAUDIBLE) but no kids I have to pay for.
ROGERS: But so if you have already messed that up, and other people say, don't have credit cards. Pay for everything in cash. That seems impossible as well. Pay your monthly bill on time. OK. Well, that's not always practical. But so what else can you do to make sure that you don't fall in to trouble? I mean, you talked about not getting divorced or running into health problems. Is there anything else that you can do? Because sometimes are just -- those big things are out of your hands.
SCURLOCK: Yes. Sometimes you can call the companies and negotiate with them. You know, sometimes if you're in a lot of -- ironically enough, if you're a bad credit risk, I think you have a lot more leverage with the credit card companies because they know you don't really have nothing to lose by not paying. But you can sometimes call them up and negotiate a lower interest rate.
VELSHI: James, did you use credit cards to get this film done?
SCURLOCK: I didn't use...
SCURLOCK: I didn't use credit cards to finance the film. I did use them in the making of the film to -- you know, to do hotel reservations and plane tickets, and all that kind of stuff. You know, credit cards are great, they provide a convenience and people should be willing to pay a fee for that service. The trouble these fees and interest have nothing to do with what they are costing the banks. They are just feeding this huge profit machine.
VELSHI: It's a worthwhile film to see. James, thanks very much for being with us.
SCURLOCK: Thank you.
VELSHI: Catch the film when you get a chance, "Maxed Out," James Scurlock is the director.
Allen, did you use the word malarkey in that discussion?
WASTLER: Malarkey, malarkey. That's one of the safe CNN words.
VELSHI: That's an approved word. Malarkey.
WASTLER: Yes. That's an approved word, Malarkey.
VELSHI: I'll give you some malarkey. The numbers say that you probably didn't do a lot of shopping last month. We'll tell what you that means, when we come back.
VELSHI: Here's a quick look at some of the stories this week that had an impact on Wall Street and maybe on your street. A&P is looking to buy the rival Pathmark supermarket chain. Now some consumer groups are worried that that merger might raise food prices, especially in the Northeast. And this comes as corn prices are soaring because of this ethanol boom.
Now speaking about shopping, did you do a lot of shopping in February? Because the numbers say you probably didn't. Wal-Mart and a lot of the other major retailers reported weak sales numbers for February. And that was even true at the specialty retailers like, for instance, Victoria's Secret, which took a hit, because of weaker than expected Valentine's Day sales. Apparently that storm hit on Valentine's Day and all of those guys who were rushing out to buy stuff for their sweeties on Valentine's Day, couldn't do it. Because they didn't think of doing it the week before.
ROGERS: That's why I didn't get any lingerie.
VELSHI: That's totally why, the storm.
ROGERS: I had no idea what it was.
VELSHI: If it were only Victoria's Secret, though, except across the board. I mean, there were much weaker than expected sales. Does that mean that... WASTLER: It means there are too many retailers. I mean, there are just too many stores out there, they are cannibalizing each other. Look at Wal-Mart, 4,000 stores. They're opening up Wal-Marts within walking distance of a Wal-Mart. I mean, there are just too many retailers and they are fighting over a fixed level of money. So that we're seeing cannibalization in the stats. That's what we're seeing.
VELSHI: I chew up a lot of TV time analyzing what this could mean for a recession or economy. You're just saying it's not actually that important?
WASTLER: No. I'm saying it's very important, but we need to see a shakeout. You need to take the bad with the good. And part of it is, we need to see some retailers go bye-bye, whether that's bankruptcy or consolidation, that needs to change. We need to see some constriction and maybe we do need a little recession, one step back so you can take four steps forward. You know?
ROGERS: I don't think the weather is complete baloney either. I know you don't think it's really up to snuff, but I go into these stores and I think, why am I going to go buy something with polka dots on it right now or something that's so flimsy? Because I have no interest. It's freezing. It is really cold. I mean, I don't know about guys. Maybe you guys clothes are sort of the same all year long...
VELSHI: Yes, I don't buy seasonally. So I don't understand the buying seasonally thing. But I think you're right. In some segments of society that may mean more than it does to others. I don't think the weather particularly affects my shopping.
WASTLER: No. My jeans are worn out. I need to get new jeans, and I do that -- it happens about once every two years.
VELSHI: All right. So we have decided we're not going to spend any more time talking about retail sales, and how bad they were in February. We have got other topics though.
Coming up on IN THE MONEY, how to know what your boss knows about the going pay rate for your job. Stay with us.
WHITFIELD: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. "Now in the News," a desperate search for a newborn baby suffering from jaundice. Three- day-old Mychael Darthard, weighs just over 5 pounds, doctors say that without the mother's milk or a special electrolyte solution, the baby's life is at risk. Authorities say she was abducted from a hospital in Lubbock, Texas, by a woman posing as a hospital worker. Police are asking anyone with information to call 806-775-2788. This surveillance video shows the suspect walking through the hospital lobby. She is described as an African-American woman in her early 20s, about 5'3", she was last seen in a red pickup truck, believed to be a late model Dodge. Police say she may have a male accomplice.
In Chicago, a deadly inferno. At least four people were killed in this apartment fire. The building just a block from Wrigley Field.
A rare face-to-face encounter between the U.S. and Iran at a security conference in Baghdad. An Iraqi official says American and Iranian diplomats had direct exchanges. The conference is aimed at stopping violence in Iraq. Also there, diplomats from Iraq's other neighbors, including Syria.
President Bush now in Uruguay as part of his goodwill tour of Latin America. His focus is on trade and other economic issues. He has avoided a war of words with Hugo Chavez. The Venezuelan president is leading anti-American protests in the region.
A 101-year-old New York woman, mugged in a shocking attack. A security camera shows the man in Queens punching the woman in her face and snatching her purse. She suffered a fractured cheekbone and bruises. The robber is also suspected of attacking an 85-year-old woman shortly afterwards, both times just taking about $30.
Coming up at the top of the hour, the general in charge of U.S. troops in Iraq shows us the challenges he's facing on the ground.
Now back to more IN THE MONEY.
VELSHI: Do you get paid enough for what you do? Do you guys get paid enough for what you do?
VELSHI: Do you know that for a fact?
WASTLER: No. I deserve a raise. Saying it right now.
VELSHI: He thinks she deserves a raise.
ROGERS: You're much more confident than I am.
VELSHI: Does he know he deserve a raise? How do you know what you're worth? How do you know if others are getting paid more than you for doing the same job? Well, Joe Giordano is the founder of payscale.com in Seattle. And apparently, he has got an answer to that.
JOE GIORDANO, FOUNDER, PAYSCALE.COM: Hello. Good morning.
VELSHI: What do you have to tell us. What can I do to find out whether I'm getting paid enough, or in this case, whether Allen's getting paid enough?
GIORDANO: Well, at payscale.com, you can go online and put in your job profile, and how much you make. The service provides a means for people to go online and anonymously compare their salary.
ROGERS: I went on the site. And I went in. I put my information in. It didn't take too long...
VELSHI: Which is why you didn't answer when I said, do you get paid enough?
ROGERS: Yes, exactly, because I know the answer. I'm not revealing it. You know, people are very cagey about telling everybody how much they make, which I guess is why the anonymity of the site works. But I'm wondering now what do I do with this information? I know where I am in the scale. How do I use that to my advantage?
GIORDANO: Yes. We found that there is a number of uses of the information that people have found. So if you come up a little low on the scale, for example, you may be making trade-offs with regard to benefits or a short commute time. If you come up high on the scale, you have the satisfaction of knowing you're paid well. And that makes happy employees.
If you're negotiating a salary, well, then information is power. And knowing what your boss knows gives you a better leverage and better status in a conversation with regard to salary and compensation.
WASTLER: Joe, being a managing editor, I have occasion to speak to HR people from time to time. And going through the whole pay process, they have sort of let drop to me that oh, our HR folks are talking to the HR folks over there and over there. And it's always like collusion, if you will, among all of the different employers in certain sectors about what salaries should be. So does that sort of stack the situation against somebody looking for a raise? If everybody's agreed, you know, the major company, hey, we're only going to pay X amount in this range for this kind of position, you know, what hope do you have?
GIORDANO: Yes. Well, that's the way the situation was before a Web site like Payscale was invented. Compensation information was relegated to the hands of compensation directors and human resource managers, and used as a leverage in negotiations with employees.
For the first time, leveraging the Internet and technology and particularly the critical mass of people out there that, you know, can connect anonymously and compare their salaries, this creates an opportunity to level the playing field and provide information for real people, matched to the individual needs of that person.
VELSHI: You know, Joe, I sort of compare it to Consumer Reports or Edmunds if you are going to buy a car you can, you know, pay for -- pay some money, and they will tell you how much that car actually costs and you can then go to the dealer and say, I know that this is what this car costs. I'm going to pay you $500 over invoice.
How do you know? Where do you -- how do I know that we trust this information? We see these salary surveys in magazines all the time, they're wrong. In many cases, they're just dead wrong.
GIORDANO: Yes. Well, we have found that there's a few reasons it's different now with Payscale. The proposition is vastly different than filling out a salary survey that is sponsored by a company or an association.
In this case, you are anonymously comparing your own salary with others, people like you in real time. And if you put in incorrect information, you get out incorrect information. And so we found there's no incentive for people to lie in this particular case.
ROGERS: What industries or jobs do you have the most information on? Because I imagine that, you know, a lot of Fortune 500 CEOs aren't going online and putting in their salaries. So you know, you probably don't have a lot of that information. So who is this best for?
GIORDANO: That's right. Payscale today has a database of over 5.5 million people and growing dramatically. So you'd actually be surprised how broad it is. You're right that the Fortune 500 executives are probably not spending too much of their time on Payscale. But once you move down that chain into corporate America as well as blue collar workers, waitresses, truck driver, and all kinds of jobs, you'll find good information available at Payscale now.
VELSHI: Is there sort of a salary range at which you're most effective?
GIORDANO: We actually -- the way the system works is, it matches you on attributes of people like you. So the type of company and size of company you work for, skills, degree, education, years experience in your job, and the match is always honed to people like you. So if you work kind of in the upper end of corporate America, it's only going to match you to people in that category. If you work in retail or store management, and that type of job, you'll be matched to people in those categories.
VELSHI: Joe, thanks for taking the time to be with us.
GIORDANO: Likewise, thank you.
VELSHI: Joe Giordano in Seattle.
Up ahead, see how much your money is really helping the cause when you buy a product that donates to a charity.
VELSHI: The Global Fund's anti-AIDS Red campaign, co-founded by the rock star Bono, was on the hot seat this week. The Boston Globe and Ad Age magazine both reported the company spent $100 million on marketing those Red products, but the campaign ha only raised $18 million. Well, the fund disputes that. It says it raised at least $25 million and that the costs were overestimated.
The Gap, Apple, and Motorola are among companies that have teamed up with Red. You can buy their products and they will donate some money to the fund. Well, we thought we would talk a little bit more about the whole idea of marrying charity and merchandise. Stacy Palmer is the editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Stacy, thank you for being with us. There's a big red herring in this whole thing in that these companies were marketing and they were selling products. They were not marketing just to raise money. So the $25 million, the $100 million, that's kind of beside the point. The issue is, is this cause-related marketing effective?
STACY PALMER, THE CHRONICLE OF PHILANTHROPY: Right. It raises a lot of money for many charities, and it gets them plenty of visibility. That advertising isn't just helping the companies, but it helped The Global Fund fight AIDS, get attention. So that's one way and one reason that charities invest a lot in attracting these corporate sponsorships.
So they're very important for a lot of nonprofits. But I think donors have to realize that a lot of that purchase price is not ever going to charity, and be very savvy about how they're making their purchasing decisions.
ROGERS: So how can you be more savvy if you're a consumer? You're in a store, you're thinking about buying a pink telephone, or a red shirt. What should you be looking for? I think one thing that I've noticed is a difference between, you know, the portion of sales and also the portion of profits that's donated. Are there other things you should be looking for?
PALMER: Right. To find out just what is going, and whether there might be a some limit on it, the company might have said, you know, no matter how much is purchased, we are only going to give $200,000 to charity. And that's our limit. So you need to understand that kind of thing and ask as many questions as you can. And if you don't get answers, don't buy the product.
WASTLER: Stacy, I'm Mr. Cynical Guy, and I sort of look at these companies sort of jumping on these charity bandwagons. And that is just a way for them to sort of make consumers feel good about buying the iPod, or buying the shirt, or whatever. I mean, are we going to see a trend of more and more companies sort of doing profiteering off charity?
PALMER: Absolutely, in terms of getting these deals. And I'm not sure whether you want to say they're profiteering, but I think they absolutely -- they do very well. A lot of studies have been done that show that a company that gets involved in these charity deals does much better than the company that doesn't. They really steer a lot of consumers to them. So there are some people who think that traditional corporate philanthropy could entirely disappear and we'll only see these corporate marketing deals. And that causes a great deal of concern in the philanthropic world.
VELSHI: But why? Why does it cause concern? What is -- so people are buying red iPods and pink blenders, and all sorts of things, and they get reminded every day when they look at their iPod or their pink blender or whatever it is that there is a cause out there and it makes you feel good that you did something. What's wrong with that? PALMER: Absolutely. You know, those things are very good, but what charities also need is bigger cash donations, they need volunteers, they need a lot other things. So it's important to think of that as one piece of your giving to charity, but that's not something that's going to necessarily take care of all of the problems in your area.
VELSHI: So what you are saying is you're not off the hook? If I bought the red iPod, I'm not done with AIDS.
VELSHI: If I bought the pink phone, or whatever it is, I'm not done -- that wasn't my charity for the year?
PALMER: Right. Think more about it. And that's one of the reasons that charities like these deals is that it does make people think much more about it. They become aware, they get engaged, they go to the Web site of the charity they're supporting. They find out other things that they can do.
Also a lot of employees at the companies that are doing these deals, they will get involved in volunteering. So there have been big benefits that go way beyond the money for a lot of charitable organizations.
ROGERS: Beyond just your basic awareness, doesn't it also just bring more people in to the tent to start thinking about giving? Maybe not buying more -- giving, but actual giving money and writing out a check to some of these charities?
PALMER: It does. And especially because some of the campaigns are aimed at very young people in particular. It's bringing them in to the idea of giving to charity. And that's both good to attract new people in to philanthropy, but it is worrisome that some people might think that all they have done is buy that T-shirt ad and it's over, they don't have to do anything more.
WASTLER: Stacy, I notice all of these campaigns seem to rely on celebrities a lot. You know, you see Bono jumping, you know, advertising it. Do all of these campaigns necessarily have to have celebrity participation to be successful?
PALMER: No. A lot them that are very small scale or that benefit less known charities may just involve a simple product or something else that, you know, is marketed for the charity. So they're not all of these celebrity glamour deals. A lot of them are smaller but add up to lots of money for charities that couldn't really afford to spend anything on marketing. Most nonprofits don't really have a budget to spend a lot of money on promoting their cause.
VELSHI: Stacy, thank you for joining us.
Well, after nearly 60 years in print, Marvel Comics has killed off one of its most famous and beloved super heroes, Steve Rogers better known as Captain America. That's kind of like taking the chip out of your chocolate chip cookies, right? Well, the folks at Marvel don't see it that way. They say this move opens the door for a great story.
VELSHI (voice-over): In the comic Captain America, war hero, secret agent, the man behind the mask, is to stand trial. His crime, defying a new law calling for those with super powers to register with the U.S. government, a law that came in to being after a superhero's tragic mistake causing a fictional 9/11.
DAN BUCKELY, PRES., MARVEL COMICS: 9/11 every child knew about from -- if you could see a TV, he knew what 9/11 was. Just part of storytelling -- every popular fiction storytelling thing does reflect these things.
VELSHI: The story line was intentionally written as an allegory to current issues like the Patriot Act and the war on terror. Captain America, or Steve Rogers, eventually surrenders to police but he is mortally wounded as he climbs the courthouse steps. A violent and strange end for an American icon.
Captain America first appeared in 1941 as America entered World War II. He was symbol of American strength and resolve in fighting first the Axis powers and later communism. So if the current story line is an allegory for the post-9/11 social and political situation, what does the death of Captain America represent?
JOE QUESEDA, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, MARVEL COMICS: There is a lot to be read in there, but I'm not one who's going to tell people, this is what you should read into it. Because I could look at it and say, you know, I can read several different types of messages.
VELSHI: One clear message, Captain America is dead -- or is he?
QUESEDA: There was a period where characters would just die, and then be resurrected, and the death had very little meaning, and the resurrection had very little meaning. So when I took over the helm, there were certain characters that were dead and had meaningful deaths, and all I ask of my writers is, first of all, if you're going to kill a character off, please let that death have some meaning.
What happens with Cap, more importantly, what happens with the costume and what happens to the characters who were friends and enemies of Cap, you are going to have to read the books to find out.
VELSHI: According to the business, the comic book business is booming. It has seen month-over-month growth in the last several years. Either of you comic book people?
ROGERS: No, but...
VELSHI: I mean that in the nicest way.
ROGERS: ... now I want to go read that one. It looks really good.
VELSHI: I'm not a comic book guy and I'm fascinated by that story. I was really -- and I have got a copy of it, by the way, which, that is going for a lot money on eBay.
WASTLER: Oh yes? Can I see it?
VELSHI: Yes, but can't touch it. But it is -- yes, this is a big deal. I didn't know that these things were such a big deal. The story was actually motivated by the fact that there are a bunch of folks around here who alerted me to the fact this was big deal.
WASTLER: Well, I guess I'm sort of a little jaded on the whole thing though. Because remember when they killed off Superman?
VELSHI: He's back.
WASTLER: He's back. You know. And you knew that that was happening. And so I sort of look at it a little bit as a gimmick.
VELSHI: Are you saying this is a marketing ploy?
WASTLER: Yes, it is like marketing -- let's sell some comic books.
ROGERS: ... seems to be saying that it's going to be a meaningful death and that it's going to...
WASTLER: Yes, yes, yes.
ROGERS: You don't believe him?
WASTLER: I bet you meaningful is that bottom profit line there. That's meaningful.
VELSHI: It's going to be a meaningful...
ROGERS: I was touched.
VELSHI: I might get back in to reading comic books.
Coming up next, why this weekend's time change might wind up costing you money, not saving you money.
VELSHI: Well, we hope you remember that Daylight Savings Time starts this weekend. It has been a big topic, it is about energy saving. Some guy even wrote a book about it.
VELSHI: I don't get it.
WASTLER: And you should, even though...
VELSHI: I do not get what this is all about.
WASTLER: It's about getting money from your wallet, your purse, me, all of you out there, it's about getting your money and getting it in to stores. The whole thing is a scam. Congress wouldn't do it if a lobbyist didn't tell him to do it, right?
VELSHI: But what -- can we -- I really have avoided studying in on all of this. What's going on? What is it supposed to do? It's supposed to save energy.
WASTLER: Basically, that's the theory. It's that, oh, we'll have longer daylight hours and it will save energy, you know, because people can do stuff more without the lights and everything like that.
But what it's really about, if you trace the history, which the guy who wrote the book did, what it's about is it's about letting people be out of doors a little bit more so they go to the store. They drive around a little bit more. So you end up actually using more money to, you know, basically go in to the coffers of the retailers.
And this latest one, extending it down, for 350 million that we're going to have to pay to adjust all of our little -- your little BlackBerry -- you had an issue with that...
VELSHI: I already spent an hour updating my BlackBerry. I'm not...
ROGERS: I can't believe it took that long.
VELSHI: I was quite prepared to hang out for three weeks with the wrong time. In fact, my VCR, my microwave, I change nothing.
WASTLER: And see, that's what I'm doing too.
VELSHI: I get tired when it gets dark, I wake up before it is -- who cares?
WASTLER: When I run in to the device and it's -- the time is wrong, then I will reset it. OK. You know, it's just that way. But nevertheless, a lot of corporate IT units, they have to spend a lot money because we have people around here running around with little patches. Oh, we have got to turn off the computer system and do the patch.
VELSHI: You know, we are all kind of savvy. I'm pretty good with the patches and the downloads. This was a bit of an undertaking. I'm sure a lot of people couldn't care less.
WASTLER: Yes. I'm sort of like, we'll reset the clock. But what I am a little bit furious about is, you know, there is this myth that oh, this is for the farmers. You know? This all originated way back when for the farmers. It did not. It originated in New York City back in the early part of the 20th Century, and it was designed specifically to let people shop more on the way home.
ROGERS: Maybe this will be good for the economy. We will definitely not go in to a recession because now we'll be spending.
WASTLER: Now what is it with this thing, it's always, you know, let's put the screws to the consumer. Oh, it will be good for the economy. No, no. We need to save more. We need to stop whacking the consumer. This is just -- it's another example of how we're being exploited, people. We need to stop it.
ROGERS: You don't have to go shop. You can just go to the park and be out in the light, which is what I like that about Daylight Saving Time. You can be outside.
VELSHI: You take the extra hours, and go, look, it's sunny for another hour, I'm going shopping, then you know...
ROGERS: ... those people I want their money.
WASTLER: As we pointed out earlier in the show, we've got to have -- we've got kids.
WASTLER: We've got wives. So Halloween, now the kids can go trick or treating, even longer.
ROGERS: Yes, that's nice.
WASTLER: OK. So we're paying more for candy. Oh, we can do a longer barbecue. That's more beer and meat that we're going to have to buy. I mean...
VELSHI: Lesson learned here...
ROGERS: It's also fun to me.
VELSHI: The beauty about how this is good for the economy is some guy wrote a book on this that's going to sell. I'm going to write a book about Wednesdays.
ROGERS: I don't think that's going to sell.
VELSHI: It's a history of Wednesday.
VELSHI: Wednesday is the least appreciated day in the week. I'm going to write a book about -- and then it's going to become a movie. Because movies are big business. This summer, in fact, filming is going to begin on the fourth Indiana Jones movie. Harrison Ford is reprising his role as a Nazi-fighting treasure hunter, a character who actually had some real-life counterparts.
Randi Kaye has the story of one man who has made it his mission to showcase their work.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Vermeer, these masterpieces grace the walls of museums today, but might have been lost forever if not for the work of a group nicknamed "monuments men."
ROBERT EDSEL, AUTHOR, "RESCUING DA VINCI": The monuments men and women are my heroes. They're -- it's a group of men and women, about 350 or so, museum directors, curators, art historians that volunteered for service during World War II, and ultimately were involved in the leadership of what I refer to as the greatest treasure hunt in history, trying to find the great works of art throughout Europe, hidden in more than 1,000 hiding places.
KAYE: Robert Edsel uncovered the story at a crossroads in his own life. In the late 1990s, Edsel sold the oil and gas company he built in Texas, and decided to take a break from work. He moved his family to Italy to renovate a villa, study art, and discover his next passion.
Little did he know it would find him on a bridge in Florence.
EDSEL: And I stood on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence, the only one of the bridges that wasn't destroyed and blown up by the Nazis when they fled Florence in 1944, and thought to myself, how did all of this stuff survive World War II? In fact, who were the people that saved it?
KAYE: And so Edsel discovered the story of the monuments men. And his new passion is sharing their story through a book he has authored, a documentary he helped produce, and speeches he gives.
EDSEL: Literally tens of thousands of paintings, hundreds of thousands of cultural items, hidden in more than a thousand caves, salt mines and other places by Hitler and the Nazis was a circumstance no one contemplated, and resulted in an extraordinary effort on the part of this special group, these monuments men and women, to try and find these things, and ultimately restitute them to the countries from which they were stolen.
It's such a privilege for me to be able to go now and see these things, and understand the labor of love and the sacrifice, in some cases, loss of life, to make them available, so that we can all enjoy them.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
VELSHI: And we'll be right back with more IN THE MONEY.
VELSHI: I want to start at new segment here on IN THE MONEY. Are you guys OK with that?
VELSHI: It's called "The Malarkey Moment."
WASTLER: A technical term.
VELSHI: You know about this stuff, Allen. These e-mails, I didn't know everybody got them. I thought it was because we work in business news. You gets these -- buy this stock, you know, it's going to go up. It's 6 cent stock or a 10 cent stock. And it is going to -- within five days, it's going to be huge news. And this stock is going to go through the roof. I ignore them. They fill up my...
VELSHI: I delete them.
VELSHI: Apparently some folks have bought these stocks. It's a typical pump and dump scheme. The idea is you pump up a stock. Other people buy it. Then you bail out. And they're stuck holding the bag.
People get suckered. You know how many go out? The SEC says 100 million a week, 5 billion a year.
WASTLER: It's outrageous. You know, but it's the whole spam phenomenon, and that's just part of it is the pump and dump scheme. And you look at these things and it's just patent -- why aren't you out there hitting the delete button, too? Somebody is like...
VELSHI: Here's the thing. Somebody was saying to me, well, what can people do to protect themselves against this? And the SEC has gotten involved. They have actually suspended trading in about 35 companies because they've tracked some of this activity.
But why are you buying stuff that somebody who you don't know sent you an e-mail about?
ROGERS: Yes. I really want to know who is following through on these, and buying them. It make me scratch my head because I have no idea who... (CROSSTALK)
VELSHI: Allen's theory on spam mail, it's a theory, but Allen often tells us that when you send out that many e-mails, if one fraction of 1 percent of people, two people buy it...
WASTLER: If you just get that one little part, and they ruin it for everybody else. But there is a silver lining to this that I walk away with.
VELSHI: What, are you pumping?
WASTLER: That is an idea. No, it's, if you see these things go out, it's a sign of a healthy market. Because when you get the rogues coming in and trying to profiteer on it, it means that the market is looking good, the people are buying stock and it's active. So I take it as a good thing.
VELSHI: That's a good point.
ROGERS: Silver lining in every pump and dump scheme.
VELSHI: I really love this new "Malarkey Moment."
Allen, thank you so much. And, Jen, thank you so much. And on our behalf, thank you for joining us this week on IN THE MONEY. We'll see you here next week, Saturday at 1:00 and Sunday at 3:00. Have a good week.
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