The New York Financial Writers’ Assn., which stages the “Financial Follies” each year, reported cash/savings of $589,120, up $50,000 from the previous year when there was a loss of $30,000.

The report was made at the annual meeting Jan. 26 at the Marriott Marquis when Imogen Rose-Smith of Institutional Investor and AR magazine (previously Alpha magazine) was elected president. AR, which stands for Absolute Return, and which rates hedge funds, is a service of II and HedgeFund Intelligence.

Rose-Smith, with II and AR six years, is a 1998 graduate of the University of East Anglia, England.

NYFWA each year gives ten $3,000 scholarships to students who show an interest in financial writing.

Bylaws of the group forbid investments in stocks or bonds. The cash is kept in money market funds, CDs and U.S. treasuries.

2009 Show Grossed $294K

The 2009 show grossed $294,075 and had expenses of $235,526 for a profit of $58,549 according to IRS Form 990 which was filed Aug. 5, 2010. Income for a dinner speaker was $53,951 and expenses were $40,224, resulting in overall profit of $72,276.

Present for the 2010 show were about 1,100 financial executives, working press, PR pros, media executives and representatives of educational institutions such as Columbia University-Knight-Batehot Foundation.

Rooney & Assocs. hosted nearly 40 financial journalists.

Almost all of the major PR firms were represented as well as major Wall Street Houses.

Membership Gains; 90 Freelancers

NYFWA reported a gain of 20 members to a total of 397. This includes 90 freelancers, a category that did not exist in 1979.

The medium supplying the most members in 1979 was the New York Times with 15. Current roster has three from NYT—Glenn Collins, Diana Henriques and Greg Roth.

Current members include 276 active; 30 associate; 48 life active and life associates, and 42 students.

A scholarship has been named after Clare Reckert, former reporter for NYT and the first female financial writer for the paper, who died last year at the age of 100. She was one of the first two women to join NYFWA in 1971 when women were first allowed as members.

Writers Faulted Selves in Downturn

2009 Financial Follies
Members of the group in 2009 faulted themselves for not playing a big enough role in warning Americans about the dangerous economic bubble that was developing and later burst.

It hosted a panel titled “Financial Journalism under Fire” that said journalists did not keep up with the profusion of murky financial instruments such as credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations and many types of derivatives.

Member Mike Kandel asked those in the audience how many were familiar with such devices and only a few raised their hands.

Sal Nuccio, life active member, said credit default swaps were insurance used as a “gambling device” and nothing at all was “swapped.”

Kandel said financial reporters did not work hard enough at following up their stories such as contacting the SEC and congressmen.

Barron’s reporter Erin Arvedlund said she exposed the ripoff perpetrated by Bernie Madoff in 2001 but no one paid any attention to her.

This led Henriques, who was at the panel, to say financial journalists should give themselves the “Cassandra Award” since the Greek god of that name could predict disasters but who could find no one who would believe her.

Report Blasts Wall St., Government

A 633-page report released this week called the financial collapse of 2008-09 “avoidable” and put the blame on excessive speculation by Wall Street houses, banks that gave housing loans to almost anyone who walked in the door, the Federal Reserve, and government regulators such as the SEC that failed to do their jobs.

Just about everyone was blamed, including consumers who took the sub-prime housing loans, except financial reporters.

The report was published by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Its website includes 1,900 supporting documents and 300 transcripts of audio interviews.

Republicans found fault with the report.

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), new chair of the House Financial Services Committed, said the panel did not reach “even a rough consensus” and that it had “minimized the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in causing the crisis.”