FM: What is your outlook on the dollar?
JT: We are the safety and soundness and liquidity provider. I am surprised that the euro is as strong as it is. When I look at what happened to us — debt going from $10 trillion to $15 trillion — it doesn’t surprise me as much because we are not a great alternative. I am neutral to mildly negative on the dollar. I don’t think there will be any dramatic moves. There are a lot of things going on in the [world] right now that will make the dollar very attractive very quickly. The Iran [situation] could blow-up. When I look at that I find it very frightening. I find what is going on in that Middle Eastern corridor very frightening, and our inability to come to terms with that and the possibility of a true conflict is worrying to me. But that would bode very well for the U.S. dollar because once again you go back to what are you going to do [but return to the] safety and soundness [of the U.S. dollar]. Without a global catastrophe of any kind, given our inability to affectively attack our own fiscal situation, I am neutral to mildly negative on the dollar.
FM: Assuming that the current recovery continues to gain steam and there is no major global crisis, where does the dollar go?
JT: Then the dollar stabilizes and goes up slightly. We are seeing signs of recovery but until the housing market [improves] — my personal signal though I am not an economist — [the economy will struggle]. Until the housing market feels like it is truly recovering and until people are feeling wealthier, and their primary asset is their house, it is hard for me to see that we are going to have a robust turn. People need to start spending with confidence, people need to start hiring with confidence, there has to be a sense of wealth creation.
FM: In addition to your responsibilities for BMO Capital Markets, you serve on several corporate and charitable boards. Why is this important? Do you bring something unique due to having such a global outlook?
JT: It is important to me for a bunch of reasons. I am on the board of trustees of Dennison University, which is where I went to school, largely on a scholarship and government loans. I had an opportunity through the generosity of other people who didn’t know me to be able to get an excellent education. Part of the reason I feel this need to give back is because without that you have a lot of people who don’t get those opportunities. A lot of the boards I’ve been on have to do with education because allowing people to get access to education — you are teaching someone to fish instead of giving them fish — is very important. It is very important that people of all shapes, sizes and colors have access to that education based upon their willingness to work and their abilities. The other focus I have had is health care and that has been through Children’s Memorial Hospital. That is because women and children, generally speaking, haven’t gotten the same access to health care that other people have. If you are a sick child and your parents can’t afford it, where do you go? Children’s has been one of those places where if you are a sick kid, you have the ability to get access regardless of your financial situation. That is why I have focused on the charities that I have.
FM: Throughout your growing career you also have had a high profile husband (Thorsen is married to James McNulty, chairman of the board of directors of NYSE Liffe U.S., a board member of NYSE Euronext and former President and CEO of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange). How difficult has that been?
JT: Having two people that work very hard can be stressful and can be difficult; however, having two people that are working very hard all of the time can be helpful to each other because you have an appreciation for what is going on in someone else’s life. If you [have a situation in which] the guy is a CEO and the wife is staying home, it can be less helpful. There are benefits and there are definite downsides to it.