Monday, September 30, 2013

Government Shutdown

The last time the U.S. had a government shutdown was from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996.
The reason behind the conflict was due to funding for Medicare and public health in the 1996 federal budget.  As a result the Dow Jones dropped from 5176.73 on December 15 to 5075 on December 18 the first Monday of the shutdown.  Stocks rebounded a few days after January 6, 1996 then collapsed once again. By the end of January stocks came back aggressively.

But this isn't 1995 we just came out of the worst recession since the 1930's.  Our economy is not healthy enough to handle a shutdown especially with unemployment at 7.3% and slow U.S. annual growth. The market is already showing the blow this will bring to a brittle economy the DJI closed at 15,129 a 128 point drop for the day.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

5 Ways To Get Ideas To Start A Business

If you find yourself with a strong desire to start a business but can't seem to get started or lack ideas read the following 5 pointers to get your creativity flowing:

1. Travel
Get out there look at different communities see what the daily routine looks like in every country or state you visit.  Check out the markets and the major employers. Do you see products/services that are to your liking that you don't find in your hometown?

2. Meet People
Think you have the people you need in your life think again there is always something to be learned from your fellow man.  We don't know it all and by meeting others we get to see how they think and how they view life.  It may surprise you that every so often you meet people that will need your help or may have the answer you are looking for.  They may also give you ideas about things you don't even know about.

3. Look at Art
When was the last time you went to a museum? Go to art galleries see what is in peoples' minds and hearts.  I have seen some original work that has blown my mind and exhibits that have inspired me.  Check out this artist's work Erik Plambeck to view this exhibit you have to clock in and out.  People that work in advertisement go to art galleries to get ideas for their next commercial I can see why.

4. Try To Solve A Problem
Start at home do you see a problem that needs fixing? Maybe you have a recipe to make vegetable chips that's what made Dana Sinkler and Alex Dzieduszycki the creators of Terra Chips rich.  If you don't find the answer right in your home then take a walk around your neighborhood do you see any services or products that would help the community?

5. Look At Other Businesses
Read about failed businesses and why they didn't work.  Look at businesses in your area see if you can think of ways on how to improve them.  Check out the businesses that are for sale on eBay to get ideas or to pick up where the owner left off.  Make sure you find out the real reason the owner is selling the business. Research the new trends in your local businesses as they may hold answers to what you should be looking for.

Get guidance before you start your business but don't take too long or over think the process.  You don't want to be a part of the take your dream to the grave team.  Good luck!

Monday, September 23, 2013

5 Ways To Save Money Year Round

I read a lot of articles about saving money and they either tell you to cut coupons or to shop for specific items during certain holidays. To me that sounds too complicated.  Here are a few simple ways to save no matter the season:

1. Buy Ahead of Time When Traveling
Nothing fancy here just book that flight well in advance.  When using Greyhound, Megabus, Metro-North and Amtrak the strategy is the same book your tickets well in advance and save the difference. You can travel in between states for cheap if you book ahead.  If you want to really be frugal bring your own food to eat on the ride.

2. Buy Used
When you buy new you pay for the depreciation on that item.  I draw the line when it comes to clothes and computers but there are lots of people that don't mind buying used clothing.
3. Barter
I love trading movies and electronics with friends.  Sometimes I just give items I don't need to my friends and when the time comes they return the favor.  Post your items online, you never know who wants your old stuff and what they are willing to trade for it.

4. Go Digital
If you have a computer/laptop you basically have all you need to entertain yourself.  Music, movies, information, games, books and just about everything else can be found online for free.

5. Use Promotional Codes
Before you buy an item online search for promo codes to get an extra 10% off or to get free shipping. You can also let the item rest on your shopping cart for a day or so to decide if you really need the item.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hedge Funds’ Small-Cap Picks Crush The Market

By: Insider Monkey

Perhaps you've heard by now: Hedge funds have underperformed the S&P 500 year to date as the index is up 13% so far in 2013. Of course, hedge funds are often specifically designed to reduce an investor's exposure to the fluctuations of the overall market through long/short or other low-beta strategies, so this is not exactly the most level playing field on which to judge the utility of hedge funds.
In addition, when hedge funds can turn the full power of their research teams on under-served areas of the market, such as small cap stocks, we've shown that, far from being chronic underperformers, they can actually be excellent sources of alpha.
How can we determine this? Several weeks after the end of each quarter, each
files a 13F with the SEC to disclose many of its long-equity positions as of the end of the quarter. We track these filings in our database for a number of purposes, including to help us research investment strategies.

Last summer we found that, on average, the most popular small-cap stocks among hedge funds (measured by the quantity of funds in our database reporting a position) tended to outperform the S&P 500 by 18 percentage points per year.
At this point, we went to work stock picking — identifying which were the most popular small-cap picks based on 13Fs filed in November 2012. A number of these picks were merger targets;
is one of those low-beta strategies we've mentioned, as whether or not a deal closes is very weakly related to market conditions.

Let's take a look at the results since the beginning of this year for the five most popular picks which remain publicly traded: United Rentals (URI) is up 16%; Visteon (VC) has returned 34%; Tripadvisor (TRIP) is up 58%; W.R. Grace (GRA) is trading 13% higher; and Marvell Technology (MRVL) has soared 78%. You don't need a calculator to compare the average return of these names to the S&P's 13% gain, but we'll do it anyway: 39.8%. It's fair to note that small-cap stocks tend to outperform the overall market in good times, but still, Vanguard's small-cap ETF (VB) is up only 19% year to date.
Now consider: this portfolio comes from information released in November of last year, based on information about hedge-fund holdings from September. Buying these stocks at the beginning of 2013 would have been a very easy strategy to implement for investors with sufficient capital to buy five stocks and, even with a very substantial delay, would have resulted in a market-beating portfolio. These results are above what we've found to be typical, but demonstrate that strategies based on hedge-fund activity can realistically work.
Then why is it that overall hedge funds aren't beating the market? A few reasons. First, as we've mentioned, hedge funds often hedge by going short other stocks or the overall market in pursuit of absolute returns; they may also pursue more market-neutral strategies, such as merger arbitrage or investing in global macro instruments.
Second, the largest hedge fund positions — particularly for successful funds that raise billions in capital from investors — tend to be in large-cap stocks almost by necessity. Large caps are more closely followed by large institutional investors and the financial media, and so it is harder to generate alpha in these stocks.
When we looked at billionaire David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital's 13Fs over time, we found that he gets a good deal of his outperformance from small caps (read our analysis here).

Third, of course, investors in hedge funds pay performance fees. There are other reasons less positive for hedge funds as well — for example, a number of funds have been long gold this year, with disastrous results thus far.
Paying heavy fees to invest in a hedge fund is probably not worth it for most investors who don't have to concern themselves with finding investment opportunities uncorrelated with the rest of their portfolio (as many institutional investors do).
However, on average, hedge funds' consensus small-cap picks tend to do quite well. We believe that there are other strategies waiting to be discovered as well, and of course, investors can take advantage of 13Fs and the more up-to-date news from 13D and 13G filings (which occur when a fund or other major investor owns at least 5% of a publicly traded company) to identify free initial investment ideas.

Disclosure: none

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

Many people end up in debt early on in life and I believe it is because they don't quite understand how credit cards and interest rates work.  I would advice them to read the fine print on their credit card disclosure and guide to benefits.  It is important to get into the habit of reading contracts, disclosures and benefit statements to understand how you can evade catastrophe as well as to understand how to protect yourself.  Not all the print is negative your benefits guide will list price, purchase, extended and return protection all good tools that will benefit you.

I once met a young lady who applied to as many department credit cards as she could to get the free gifts that were used to lure her in.  She also loved the concept of buy now and pay later.  Years later I found out she got together with a guy not that she really wanted to but she felt trapped by the enormous amount of debt she had accrued on all her credit cards.  I still don't think she quite understood how much debt she actually had amassed.  A $20,000 charge on your credit card can actually mean you will owe $40k or more depending on the APR and if you only make minimum payments.

Credit cards with high interest rates are dangerous and are best to stay away from.  You don't want to give a company or another person so much power or control over your well being. There are kind people out there but some people will take advantage of you and your situation.  You also want to be able to manage the budget in your home and pass healthy financial habits to your children.

Having a credit card is a big responsibility and for those that live on a tight budget it seems to cause them more harm than good that is why informing oneself is the best way to go.  There are cases where authorized users have been reported to credit agencies for not paying off the balance on a deceased family members credit card.

With a tough economic environment especially for young adults it seems that the American Dream has changed it is no longer to own a home but to be debt free.  Inform yourself and please learn the right way to use a credit card to be financially free and live the new American Dream.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Could You Handle Receiving A Large Sum Of Money?

We all fantasize about receiving large sums of money either through the lotto or any other act of luck.  What figure do you dream of: $50,000, $250,000 or $1,000,000?

As we work hard everyday we figure a nice windfall would be the answer to our problems.  Would you be able to handle a substantial amount of money if it were given to you today? Let's say you happen to receive 1 million dollars and you find yourself working a 9-5 job what would you do?  Would you quit your job? If so what would you do with your free time?

Without a plan how long would you be able to survive without running out of money?

Would you take a nice vacation? Would you buy a house? When you think about it this way lots of cash seems like a good thing.  Money well spent can be good if it brings joy and an answer to a problem.

Would you spend too much wiping your entire windfall in a few years or even end up in debt?  The large gift could leave you missing the big picture of how hard it is to create wealth.  The million dollars would be a big responsibility assuming you would want it to last this generation and the next.  You would have to learn to make more of it otherwise you would run out eventually.

You would have to educate yourself about preserving, multiplying and transferring the money you just received.  You did not create the million dollars so you missed out on all the steps therefore you would have to get advice on the matter otherwise it would be bye bye windfall.

Yes, the money can do much good if used wisely.  It can be used to have a good time with family, friends and to give to good causes.  

It could become a burden if you are not prepared and have unrealistic expectations.  You may end up in the same place you started due to bad money management skills.  In this case you might have been better off not receiving the money at all. 

Would the large sum of money received make you dependent on it instead of on your qualities and skills? Would it disrupt your life's calling or pursuit of it?  Would it make you proud and take away the humility that is necessary to learn and excel in life? Would you be a good friend to those around you? Would you still be a compassionate person? Would you give back to society or would it all be about you?

Money can be a blessing but only when it is used wisely and when it does not disrupt your view on life and the pursuit of happiness for you and your family.  You may come across a large sum of money someday why not become better prepared by educating yourself financially and emotionally to be ready when it does come.  If it doesn't then maybe you are better off without it, all you do need is already around you and most likely it is free.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why You Should Network

Feeling out of ideas?

Getting to know people can be a good way to get new ideas.

Even if you work very hard there is always something that can be gained by reaching out to people. There are periods in our life where we may not grow any further until we meet the right people.
Whether it is business or any other profession it is important to go to networking events and conferences to seek help.

Growing does require a large effort on our behalf but we also need others to improve ourselves and to get encouragement.  You are also of high value to others who need your expertise and special qualities. We are called to help each other out and by only keeping what we know to ourselves we hold ourselves back and those who need our help.

I once attended a special event at a college, the speaker was a venture capitalist, he told me something I never forgot.  It was during the financial disaster of 2009 I asked him if it was a good time to venture and invest given the financial situation, he did not like my comments.  He stated that we will always need people for ideas and for goods and services and as long as that is true there will always be a reason to invest. Although at the moment it did not make much sense I later on understood what he meant.

Connect with others not only will you grow and learn you may also make good friends.  As you grow you may need to hire people or may be given a better job opportunity.  At the right time your ideas may lead to a business where you may need investors or staff and this contributes to the overall economy recession or not.

Networking an artistic piece by Gerson Santillana (c)