ALEX CHADWICK, host:
From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.
LUKE BURBANK, host:
And I'm Luke Burbank. Coming up: where to put your money during these uncertain days.
CHADWICK: The day after stock markets around the world saw share prices go way down, the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke tried to reinsure investors. He told Congress the financial markets are working well. His appearance had been scheduled earlier.
BURBANK: That did seem to help settle Wall Street a bit after yesterday's decline, which was the worst for the Dow Jones in four years. The markets are recovering a bit today.
We'll talk with a smaller investor in a moment. First, though, to New York's financial district and NPR's Mike Pesca.
MIKE PESCA: Of course, every U.S. business is somewhat affected by what happens on Wall Street. So consider the stores located within sight of the stock exchange itself to be the sentinel chickens of the U.S. economy.
Miles Costello is co-owner of the Wall Street Barber Shop.
Mr. MILES COSTELLO (Co-Owner, Wall Street Barber Shop): It was quiet yesterday, because nobody could get out of work, I guess.
PESCA: That's Bloomberg TV. on in the barbershop. So they knew what was going on. But at the candy stand next door, Karit Rasapiti(ph) was left to wonder.
Mr. KARIT RASAPITI (Retail Merchant on Wall Street): I didn't even know that yesterday until like five o'clock. Then I found out it was something happening in the market.
PESCA: So at 4:30, you were like where is everyone?
Mr. RASAPITI: Yeah. I was like, no, where is everyone?
PESCA: Karit says the traders who've come in today have been mostly glum. But one area of business is doing well: lottery sales.
(Soundbite of beeping sound)
Mr. RASAPITI: They spend money on the lotto now because they want to get money back.
PESCA: Hey, let's hope it's just risk junkies getting their fixes and not a calculated decision that million-to-one odds is now the best investment going. Mike Pesca, NPR News, New York.
CHADWICK: We're joined now by Gene Rooks. She's treasurer of an investment club in Florida. The name of the club is Southern Women Investing Money - that's SWIM. Ms. Rooks, welcome to DAY TO DAY.
Ms. GENE ROOKS (Treasurer, Southern Women Investing Money): Well, thank you so much.
CHADWICK: Well, tell us first of all about your club. Who's in it? How big is it? How much money have you got invested?
Ms. ROOKS: All right. We have 16 members at this time. And our present portfolio is about $56,600.
CHADWICK: You retired from a lifetime working at General Motors. Is that correct? You collected…
Ms. ROOKS: Yes. GMAC. Their finance arm.
CHADWICK: Well, their finance arm. Perhaps you're prepared for a life of investment now, then. But I wonder when you have things like a crash in China and the Federal Reserve board talking about the economy looks stable today and remarks by Mr. Greenspan a couple of days ago, how do you - an investor in Florida - how do you make sense of all this?
Ms. ROOKS: Well, naturally, the China slowdown is going to have some impact on us. But we don't look at the day's news as being significant. We invest for the long term.
So we're not going to panic and sell out.
(Soundbite of music)
Ms. ROOKS: We'll just kind of see what happens with things. And perhaps this dip right now could be a buying opportunity for some other stocks.
CHADWICK: Do you think that you have money invested in the Chinese market in some way?
Ms. ROOKS: Not particularly. Most of ours are American companies whose primary business would be American, although some of them do have international, you know, trends as well. But we do not have any basically Chinese investments.
CHADWICK: How often does your club meet?
Ms. ROOKS: Once a month.
CHADWICK: And when's your next meeting?
Ms. ROOKS: It'll be on the 19th.
CHADWICK: On the 19th of March.
Ms. ROOKS: Correct.
CHADWICK: Well, I just wondered. So it's been a while since you all met. But did you call each other up yesterday afternoon?
Ms. ROOKS: No. Actually, I didn't hear from anybody.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. ROOKS: But then, some of the girls - several of them are still working. And they just really don't watch it every day like I do. In addition to being a treasurer assistant, I'm our club's portfolio manager. So I try to keep an eye on it on a daily basis more than they do.
CHADWICK: But this is front page news everywhere in the world today.
Ms. ROOKS: That's right. It sure is. There was a lot of blood yesterday.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. ROOKS: I did hear from my son, unhappy about some of the things that happened. But I told him just hang in there. Your good stuff will still be good next month, and the price will start coming up.
And, as a matter of fact, it has this morning already.
CHADWICK: Well, how is it that you maintain such a cool head in a time like this?
Ms. ROOKS: Well, I couldn't tell you, except perhaps just being - watching it for many years, you realize that what goes down will come up. And if you - particularly from an investment club standpoint, you invest in solid companies. You're not investing in, you know, the quick little technical trends of things.
And when you look at the quality companies, they're going to survive. And they're going to recover even if they do have a setback.
CHADWICK: Gene Rooks manages the portfolio for the investment club Southern Women Investing Money. That's based in Orlando, Florida.
Ms. Rooks, thank you for speaking with us, and good luck.
Ms. ROOKS: Thank you.
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