If …

Do you remember any of your elementary school teachers? Think back for a moment if any remain in your memory.

My kindergarten teacher at Bateman Elementary School, on the north side of Chicago, was Mrs. Hart. I only remember her because it was kindergarten, and she was my first teacher. No one went to pre-school in those days.

The next teacher I remember was Mrs. Castle, third grade, at Laurel Elementary School, in the heart of the borscht belt, near Melrose and Fairfax, in Los Angeles. I only recall her name because we just moved to LA, mid-semester, and I was the new kid in class. She was nice to me, even though I was a little behind in my knowledge of cursive.

Then we moved again when I was in the sixth grade, also mid-semester, and again I was the new kid in class at Lankershim Elementary School in North Hollywood. Not easy when you are painfully shy and eleven years old. But this teacher, Irv Sherins, was different.

Mr. Sherins paid lots of attention to me. He even assigned one of the kids, Dennis Gass, to be my buddy and show me around the school. (Dennis and I remained friends through high school. He enlisted in the Army right after graduation and died in Vietnam.)

You might be wondering what my memory of Irv Sherins has to do with investor relations and strategic public relations, which, after all, is what this blog is supposed to be about.

I so vividly remember Mr. Sherins – not because he treated me well and made me feel comfortable as the new kid in class – but because of a two-letter word he wrote on a corner of the blackboard, that was never erased. It was a word that has relevancy for our clients, our staff and corporate executives, among others, everywhere: The word is “If…”

Between today’s political stress, the coronavirus, and yes, the steep stock market decline, impacting valuations and business conditions worldwide, the meaning of that one small word written by Mr. Sherins more than 50 years ago, and never erased, can help all of us now. It was the first word and title of a famous Rudyard Kipling poem circa 1895. It’s interpretation by Mr. Sherins:

If you can keep your head while others around you are not…

Roger Pondel,

UBS’s Take on the World Economy

In a recent conference call with clients, UBS’s chief economist and head of asset allocation, said that their targets for growth in the global economy have been revised downward.  UBS is now expecting 3.6% growth in 2008 and 3.8% growth in 2009.  Specifically, the U.S. is projected to grow at only 0.8% this year down from a standing estimate of 2.1%, while growth in Asia is expected to grow at 7.8% and growth in euro-based countries should grow 1.3%.
The dollar is expected to remain weak against emerging currencies, with the euro peaking at around $1.50 and giving up some gains to about $1.40 in the back half of this year.
Financials kicked off the current market volatility in the U.S. and elsewhere, and while there have been some significant write-downs thus far, UBS believes that a second and third leg of write-downs are still to come, possibly from credit card issuers and for corporate bonds.
What does this mean for global stock markets?  UBS currently likes U.S. equities, especially relative to European equities, believing that expanding profit margins will be one catalyst for enhanced market valuations.


Laurie Berman, Senior Vice President,