The Dollar’s Stil a Mainstay of World Currency

AMA4-10-14The venerable American dollar has taken a beating of sorts in recent months, facing fluctuating values in world markets and incursions from digital alternatives like the Bitcoin. But even with its ups and downs, the dollar’s still king in a world hungry for currency that’s stable, solid and backed by a secure government.

As a recent Flightfox report on the bustling black money markets in Argentina reveals, for much of the world, the greenback is still the go-to currency in uncertain times.

AS Flightfox reports, Buenos Aires is home to one of the world’s largest – and most open – black markets for currency in the world, and people flock from everywhere to change out Argentina’s severely devalued – and largely unstable—peso for American dollars at rates far above the government’s exchange rate.

The reason? In 2002 Argentine fell into a severe debt crisis, and the resulting government defaults caused mistrust of the government and its financial institutions. That mistrust caused a run on the country’s banks, and the government imposed limits on how much account holders could withdraw at any one time. At the same time, it restricted the acquisition of foreign currencies, most notably the dollar.

And so, in a quest for a stable, trustworthy currency that’s immune to the country’s political ups and downs, Argentineans rich and poor flock to the black markets to acquire dollars and hold them as security against another financial crisis.

Where do the dollars come from? Tourists, of course. But other transactions such as investments bring dollars into the Argentinean economy to proved a stable, if largely illegal, financial foundation for many citizens.

It’s a scenario played out in various forms in numerous other countries around the world, but particularly in Latin America where government and financial instability create periodic monetary crises.

That’s why the Bitcoin, the stateless, paperless digital currency, enjoys such popularity in those same countries. Decentralized and anonymous, the Bitcoin also offers residents of those politically unstable countries an alternative to the ups and downs of their “official” monies.

But for sheer staying power, not much beats the dollar. Backed by a demonstrably stable government and functioning economy and tradable virtually everywhere in the world, US money represents a solid and secure base for transactions of all kinds. That’s one reason why, as Jason Hartman says, investing in US property creates a long-term foundation for building wealth. (Top image:Flickr/imagesofmoney)

McClure, Grace. “The How And Why of Argentina’s Currency Black Market.” Flightfox. Flightfox,com. 25 Oct 2013.

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The Hierarchy of Human Needs Guides Consumer Behavior

AMA 81:  Investing tips and Tricks With Matt Schifrin

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AMA 82 – Gold Prices with Dent Research editor Rodney Johnson

Rodney Johnson is President and Editor of Dent Research. He joins the show to explain why gold will fall below $800.

 

Johnson then discusses whether the US economy is slowing. He also shares how investors can build streams of income instead of relying on equity markets.

 

Visit Dent Research at www.dentresearch.com.

 

Rodney Johnson works closely with Harry Dent to study how people spend their money as they go through predictable stages of life, how that spending drives our economy and how you can use this information to invest successfully in any market.  

 

Rodney began his career in financial services on Wall Street in the 1980s with Thomson McKinnon and then Prudential Securities. He started working on projects with Harry in the mid-1990s. He’s a regular guest on several radio programs such as America’s Wealth Management, Savvy Investor Radio, and has been featured on CNBC, Fox News and Fox Business’s “America’s Nightly Scorecard, where he discusses economic trends ranging from the price of oil to the direction of the U.S. economy.  

 

He holds degrees from Georgetown University and Southern Methodist University.

Check out this episode!

AMA

The Hierarchy of Human Needs Guides Consumer Behavior

AMA4-11-14“You can’t always get what you want,” sang the Rolling Stones. But, as the next line goes, you might find you get what you need. What people really need has been debated by experts in economics, psychology, and many other fields. But it turns out that a theory from the 1940s offers a paradigm of our essential needs that’s still guiding advertisers, retailers and investors today.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow published his groundbreaking “Hierarchy of Human Needs” back in 1943, and it’s been used in all kinds of settings to provide insights into human behavior and why people make the decisions they make. Here’s how it works: Maslow divided the “needs” that drive people into categories, from the most essential, physical elements to more abstract, emotional or spiritual ones. According to this theory, people have to satisfy those basic needs first before moving up the pyramid to meet the less immediate ones.

At the most fundamental level are essential needs of the body like food, water and sleep. Next come needs of safety and security, such as a safe place to live, employment and health. After those needs are met, an individual can turn to satisfying needs of love and belonging, such as friendship and romance. And once those are taken care of, people can strive for esteem (achievement, respect, confidence). Finally, at the top of the pyramid, comes self-actualization, when an individual is able to focus on spirituality, creativity and contributing to others.

What’s important is that these basic human needs are sequential. If your main worry is getting enough food to eat or finding a secure job, you probably won’t be too worried about winning an achievement award or helping the planet. But if you have a stable home and income, with the respect and love of family and friends, you can devote more of your time to volunteer work or art lessons.

The hierarchy helps explain motivations in the housing marketplace, and can provide a framework for getting priorities straight. As Jason Hartman says everybody needs a place to live. And for income property investors, housing falls for most people into the second level of Maslow’s hierarchy: security and safety – a pretty fundamental one that most everyone needs to satisfy in one way or another.

It’s what contributes to demand for housing in some areas and not in others, and why some neighborhoods just don’t attract renters. Commodities like Housing can be other things too – big flashy properties are probably meeting an “esteem” need more than one of safety and security. And recognizing those distinctions can be useful for investors as well.

Maslow’s paradigm isn’t perfect, and it’s by necessity very general. But for everybody involved in income property investing – buyers, sellers and renters alike – that hierarchy can be a handy tool for explaining – and targeting – decisions about housing, food and clothing, those basic human needs. (Top image:Flickr/Purpleslog)

Read more from The American Monetary Association:

Taxc ID Theft: Tis the Season

Who’s Really Paying for Bank Settlements?

The American Monetary Association Team

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AMA 81 – Investing Tips and Tricks with Matt Schifrin

Matt Schifrin is the Vice President at Forbes Publishing and Managing Editor of Investing for Forbes Media. He joins the show to give us his tips for investing in 2014.

 

Schifrin shares one investment to avoid at all costs and the best ways to get rich. He explains why Wells Fargo is so great and whether Apple investors should reinvest their dividends.

 

Find out more about Matt Schifrin at www.mattschifrin.com. Read Schifrin’s work at blogs.forbes.com

 

Check out this episode!

AMA 80 – “Second Chances” with Chuck Gallagher

Chuck Gallagher is the Chief Operating Officer at American Funeral Financial and Founder and CEO at Ethics Resource Group. He’s the author of “SECOND CHANCES: Transforming Adversity into Opportunity.”

 

Chuck is a Prostate Cancer Survivor. He discusses the emotional journey from diagnosis to treatment and what happens after the treatment is over and how the side effects changed his life.

 

The topic then shifts to politics as Chuck discusses whether the government shutdown was ethical.

 

Find out more about Chuck Gallagher at www.chuckgallagher.com.

Check out this episode!

Tax ID Theft: Tis the Season

AMA4-5-14It’s nearly tax day, and whether you’ve filed long ago and are awaiting a refund or scrambling to make the midnight April 15 deadline, you might find that your refund never appears – or that your bank accounts are suddenly empty. Tax ID theft is up 66 percent from 2010, and fraud officials expect it to rise even more.

Along with Social Security numbers, tax ID thievery is one of the most common forms of identity theft. Most victims only realize their personal information has been hijacked when an anticipated tax refund doesn’t arrive. When they follow up with the IRS they may find that the refund has already been claimed using their tax information. And that information can also be used for other purposes such as raiding the victim’s bank accounts.

What makes tax ID and Social Security number theft so easy? The main reasons, according to fraud and cybersecurity experts, has to do with the vulnerable nature of the government’s databases, which are often overburdened and poorly protected with outdated security software that allows hackers easy access to all kinds of personal information. And because a vast network of workers are constantly updating and inputting information, the chain of processing allows for human error at nearly every point.

The same kind of vulnerability plagues medical databases at large institutions such as the Veterans Administration and insurance companies. The information that’s collected often goes global, bought and sold in marketplaces around the world to create new identities for people crossing borders and avoiding prosecution.

Most victims of tax and Social Security ID theft don’t know what’s happened until after the fact, so the burden of resolving the issue lies with them. Experts advise anyone who misses getting a tax refund within a reasonable time to follow up with the IRS or state tax authorities to verify its status. And if you suspect your information has been hijacked, they stress that it’s essential to report the problem to all entities such as credit card companies and banks.

General identity protection protocols are important too, such as checking credit reports and statements, and taking care to change or update passwords. Catching identity hackers in the fast moving world of electronic transactions may not always be possible – but staying vigilant and keeping control of your financial affairs as Jason Hartman recommends can help make things run smoothly and safely this tax season.  (Top image:Flickr/DonkeyHotey)

Read more from The American Monetary Association:

Does the Ukraine Crisis Affect US Money Matters?
Can Bad Credit Crush Job Applicants?

 

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Does the Ukraine Crisis Affect US Money Matters?

AMA4-1-14v2As Russian troops seized control half a world away in Ukraine, and international tensions began to rise, we’ve been uncomfortably reminded that in an interlinked global economy, what happens across the globe can also affect conditions in our own backyard. Because the US is massively indebted to foreign countries, money market watchers worry that the current crisis and others like it could compromise national security and send currency values plummeting.

These concerns center on the large numbers of US Treasury bonds held by Russia, as well as China, India and smaller nations, particularly in the Caribbean. If any of those bond holders suddenly began selling off their stock, it could cause interest rates to skyrocket and bring chaos to financial markets worldwide.

Recent events in the Russia-Ukraine standoff are fueling those worries as the diplomatic gloves came off and harsher threats of sanctions and other punitive measures against Russia began to surface. In a recent post to Bloomberg Review, Brandeis University Professor of Global Finance Catherine L. Mann notes that one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisors recently warned the US that if it imposed sanctions, Russia would jettison its stock of US Treasury bonds. Right after that statement, the amount of bonds the Federal Reserve was holding on behalf of foreign banks dropped by more than &100 billion.

But those bonds haven’t been sold off, suggesting they may simply have been moved by jittery investors to more secure locations uninvolved in the confrontation. And although it turns out that Russia isn’t actually one of the major holders of US Treasury bonds, the situation highlights the vulnerability of US money markets in a tightly interconnected global economy.

That said, how secure are US financial interests in that economy? As we’ve said, Russia holds only a fraction of the world’s total bond holdings. And it comes as no surprise that the major holders of these assets are in Asian countries, led by China and Japan. Other significant holders include the United Kingdom and the Caribbean. And while the Asian markets tend to hold on to their investments, Caribbean holdings are far more volatile.

The flow of bonds held in those island markets historically mirror financial conditions and policy making in the US, reflecting events like the housing collapse of 2008-2009 and.more recently, the ups and downs of the Federal Reserve’s massive stimulus effort. While those bond holders remain largely out of the financial and political spotlight, they may hold more power to damage US financial interests and by extension global markets than higher profile players like Russia.

What’s a smart investor to do? Staying abreast of events in a volatile world means taking Jason Hartman’s advice to stay educated, keep control and question everything – because in an increasingly interconnected world, everything can be local.  (Top image:Flickr/DaveProffer)

Source:

Mann, Catherine. “Why Russia Won’t Tank the US Treasury Market.” Bloomberg Review Economics. BloombergReview.com 30 Mar 2014.

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AMA 79 — The Real Unemployment Rates with Chris Meyer

Who’s Really Paying for Bank Settlements?

The American Monetary Association Team

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AMA 79 – The Real Unemployment Rates with Chris Mayer

Chris Mayer is the Managing Editor of Agora Financial and Editor of the Capital and Crisis publication. 

 

Mayer breaks down the unemployment numbers for us and whether it is actually getting better. 

 

He then discusses the benefits of traveling around the world to get an investment story. Given the instability in the emerging markets, Mayer assesses whether this is the beginning of the next global financial storm. 

 

Chris has prepared a SPECIAL video for our listeners. He shares SEVEN incredibly safe stocks that you should buy now. Chris believes these stocks will multiply your wealth 20 times over. Visit www.GrowYourWealth.info to find out what these companies are. 

 

That’s www.GrowYourWealth.info.

 

Check out this episode!

Who’s Really Paying For Bank Settlements?

AMA4-1-14Since 2010 the nation’s biggest banks have paid out billions in settlements over fraud, misrepresentation and downright illegal banking practices. But lawsuit after lawsuit continues to catch the megabanks red handed, with no apparent damage done by those multimillion-dollar payouts. Where do the big banks get their money? From the very government that’s prosecuting them.

A new report from Bloomberg Review notes that the eight largest banks in the US earned over $80 billion in 2013. That number includes perennial bad boys Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, along with Citibank and a few smaller institutions involved in lower profile legal issues.

The primary way that banks make their money is through borrowing at lower interest rates than they can earn from their assets. That borrowing is conducted between both domestic and foreign banks, and those rates stay low because the debt is guaranteed by the government. In other words, if banks are unable to meet their loan obligations, government support keeps them afloat.

The financial crisis and subsequent housing market collapse of a few years ago put these massive banking operations in the public eye. As the subprime loans they’d underwritten crashed and the shady banking practices associated with them hit the spotlight, so did the government bailouts.

Those government-backed bailouts continue even as more lawsuits are pressed against the big banks – by the government. Investigations and charges against Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and others have been conducted by the US Department of Justice and a long list of states’ attorneys general, among others. And nearly all of those cases have resulted in a settlement from the institution in question.

Those banks, which together were responsible for billions in transactions and the bulk of the nation’s lending activity, were quickly deemed “too big to fail” – so big, in other words, that to fall into insolvency would create an even bigger financial disaster. And that meant that they had to be supported at any cost.

That cost ended up being carried by the nation’s taxpayers, who by some estimates subsidize at least a quarter of the banks’ profits. Other figures place that total much higher, suggesting that these institutions actually “make” most of their money from subsidies rather than actual earnings.

The well publicized problems in the nation’s banking industry and the legal actions that followed led to a spate of new regulations under the sweeping Dodd Frank Act, which was aimed at imposing accountability on the banking industry and protecting consumers. But according to some financial experts, the provisions of Dodd Frank may have had the unintended consequences of pumping more money into the big banks through higher interest rates, fees and charges to customers.

The takeaway for investors? As Jason Hartman says in his 10 Commandments for Successful Investing, it’s important to stay educated. Banking accountability and lending reform may be more of an abstract than a reality – as long as the nation’s superbanks rely on government subsidies to pay off government-driven legal actions. (Top image:Flickr/rieh)

Source:

Klein. Matthew C. “How Our Big Banks Really Make Their Money.” Bloomberg Review Banking. BloombergReview.com 31 Mar 2014

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Property or Currency?  The IRS Weighs In On the Bitcoin

Can Bad Credit Crush Job Applicants?

The American Monetary Association Team

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Property or Currency? The IRS Weighs In On the Bitcoin

AMA3-29-14It’s been said that nothing’s certain but death and taxes, and while the former may not apply to the Bitcoin, the latter certainly does. The IRS has caught up with the ever-growing virtual currency. And the tax police’s new guidelines only add to the questions about what to do with the digital challenger to the world’s traditional currencies.

We’ve been following the Bitcoin’s progress for some time, as it matures into a viable form of commerce and stumbles into controversy and criticism from governments and institutions around the world. And as those entities struggle to come to grips with the growing popularity of Becton, they reveal some insights into Bitcoin’s future as a free and democratic form of exchange that’s independent of those very institutions.

The latest twist in the Bitcoin saga involves the Internal Revenue Service’s debate over how to classify the digital currency for the purposes of taxation. That’s an important consideration, given the way Bitcoin values have jumped over the past year or so.

The result? Bitcoins are property, not money. That means that in general the regulations that apply to property transactions apply to transactions that use Bitcoins. So, Bitcoins can be subject to the same tax rates and penalties as ordinary income or assets that are subject to capital gains taxes in most cases.

Those cases depend on whether a user holds Bitcoins as a capital asset, like stocks or bonds, or as inventory or other property. If they’re considered an asset then capital gains taxes apply – a different category of taxes than the “ordinary’ gains and losses from inventory.

But because Bitcoins are created and circulated independent of regulatory authorities or central banks, there’s no actual controlling body that can establish standards for how Bitcoins should be treated for tax purposes in the US and other countries. That freedom from government or private regulation is both the Bitcoin’s greatest strength and one of its greatest weaknesses, as we’ve seen from the spate f recent scandals and crashes of major Bitcon exchanges in various parts of the world.

Those who conduct transactions using Bicoins aren’t the only ones affected by the IRS determination. The tax guidelines also hit the growing number of Bitcoin “miners,” who work to create their own stashes of Bitcoins by cracking the complex algorithms that generate the coins.

Now, miners will have to declare their Bitcoins as income, with taxation based on the fair market value of the currency at the time it was mined. Since Bitcoin values fluctuate so greatly, that means miners could take a loss if those values have plummeted after the coins were mined.

Accounting firm Price Waterhouse estimates that up to 80,000 Bitcoin transactions take place every day, involving everything from property to payment for services. That means it’s a good time to take Jason Hartman’s advice to stay informed and watchful as the Bitcoin – and attempts to regulate it – continue to evolve.  (Top image:Flickr/bitkeychain)

Source:

Drawbaugh, Kevin and Patrick Temple-West. “Bitcoins Are Property, Not Currency, IRS Says Regarding Taxes. Reuters US. reuters.com. 25 Mar 2014

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Can Bad Credit Crush Job Applicants?

Exchange CEO’s Suicide Adds to Bitcoin Turmoil

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Can Bad Credit Crush Job Applicants?

AMA3-26-14You’ve got the qualifications. You’re dressed for the interview and your resume is state of the art. But in spite of all this, the state of your credit could derail your hopes for that dream job. Increasingly, employers are turning to credit checks to make employment decisions. But is it legal to use credit reporting as a hiring tool?

Many factors play into a company’s hiring decisions, some of them overt, others so subtle that even a hiring manager may not be able to articulate what makes one candidate “feel” like a better fit than another. But using certain kinds of information to weed out undesirable candidates is prohibited by law: questions about sexual orientation and a candidate’s plans for motherhood are prime examples.

Now, the question of how far a potential employer can snoop in order to vet potential employees has become more complicated thanks to the easy availability of information, sometimes compromising, on the Internet. That includes credit information, and the law isn’t clear on how much investigating is too much.

Like any other potential creditor, an employer can run a credit check and learn things like whether an applicant has ever defaulted on loans or chronic patterns of late payments. They can also find out how much credit a potential employee has and how they use it, as well as what purchases they’re paying off. All these things can provide insights into an individual’s lifestyle and sense of responsibility.

It’s legal to do this under federal law. Credit companies such as Experian offer modified versions of their full credit reports to employers using them for screening processes. And whjie the law also states that it’s not legal to use any information that might be discriminatory in an employment decision, it’s not always easy to determine where those lines are drawn. And since those kinds of inquiries remain confidential, a job applicant may not actually know what credit information is playing a role in hiring decisions.

Credit and money management experts acknowledge that using credit reporting in hiring may be legal, but it isn’t always a fair reflection of an individual’s competence, reliability or sense of responsibility. Still, in today’s employment world, it’s almost a given that credit cheeks will be run as part of an employment application – and applicants need to be proactive and protect themselves.

The answer? Make cleaning up credit a part of the application process. Take a look at your own report and resolve any outstanding issues before launching the job search if possible. Contact creditors and work out ways to resolve outstanding accounts. No one but the employer may ever know what kind of information affects a job application, or how it may be used. But as Jason Hartman says it’s vital to take control of your credit – before it takes control of you. (Top image:Flickr/PhilipTaylor)

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International Students Boost the Economy

Social Security Numbers Define Our Identities

The American Monetary Association Team

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International Students Boost the Economy

AMA3-24-14Tensions may be rising all over the world, but strained international relations don’t seem able to stop students from venturing abr4oad for both short term and full degree study programs. According to recent statistics from the Institute of International Education, around 800,000 international students attend American colleges and universities each year – and they’re helping to boost the US economy in a variety of ways.

International students can help the housing market. Housing for international students near college campuses is a kind of short term rental that keeps on giving – and while student renters may bring their share of headaches, as Jason Hartman says, they’re also likely to bring a landlord/investor a stream of income, especially if there’s an international student placement organization involved.

Some stay only a semester, but others working on longer-term programs may keep renting for years. Their connection with others at home and in the US also help to keep properties rented year after year.

What kind of housing do international students look for? The answer is as varied as the individuals themselves. Some pool funds to rent single-family homes; others might rent condos or units in multiplexes. Graduate students with families might look for stable neighborhoods farther from campus. And thanks to an increasingly varied academic curriculum, summer most likely won’t see a slowdown in student renters, many of whom may be taking advantage of summer intensive programs in languages, sciences and other subjects.

Students boost the economy in other ways too. Some buy cars and other higher end items. Many get jobs, either through sponsored work study or on the general job market. Organizations that serve the international student population provide jobs for professionals such as teachers and counselors. And of course, the travel industry benefits in ways small and large.

The nature of the international student population changes, of course, as the global political landscape shifts. Currently the largest group of international students in the US are Chinese, at 25% – a change from past years which saw many more from the wealthier countries of the Middle East and India. Travel restrictions and economic conditions at home also affect the number and nature of students choosing to go abroad for an education.

Still, for much of the world, a degree or other certification from an American college carries its own cachet and allows the degree holder to bring home much needed knowledge in fields such as medicine and the sciences.

Studying abroad isn’t cheap – but opportunities for scholarships and other funding make it possible for qualified students to venture abroad for educational experiences that enrich not just individuals, but also the economy at large.  (Top image:Flickr/eglobetravel)

Source:

“International Students in the United States.” Project Atlas. The Institute of International Education. Iie.org. 24 Mar 2014.

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Old Scams Still Snare New Victims

Successful People Rise and Shine

The American Monetary Association Team

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Exchange CEO’s Suicide Adds to Bitcoin Turmoil

AMA3-17-14The Bitcoin, pioneer of the digital currency movement worldwide and once the darling of liberty lovers everywhere, has suffered some major setbacks in its march toward acceptance as a real alternative currency. But whether – and how – the Bitcoin weathers those rough spots may prove the true test of its staying power, as the recent suicide of a young Bitcoin exchange CEO seems to suggest.

Autumn Radtke, the 28-year-old CEO of First Meta, a Singapore-based Bitcoin exchange, was found dead in her apartment in late February. Her death occurred over a month ago, but as other financial professionals took their own lives in a series of strange and dramatic ways, those seeking a pattern in the string of deaths added Radtke’s to the list.

That list includes midlevel-banking professionals from JP Morgan jumping from the roofs of their office buildings, an overdose by a Deutsche Bank exec, and various other deaths under somewhat shady circumstances of relatively young financial professionals.

Theories about as to the real cause of these deaths. Some blame the intense pressure of legal investigations into unscrupulous banking practices by JP Morgan, Bank of America and others. Others speculate that these bankers had inside knowledge of a coming financial collapse, with echoes of the Great Depression of the 1930s, which saw numerous bankers leaping from windows and roofs. Still other theories point to the stresses of the fast paced financial world and a culture of success that won’t admit weaknesses such as depression or anxiety.

Though the explanation may never be really known, the inclusion of Radtke in this list puts the spotlight on the Bitcoin once again, and points up the recent struggles of the upstart currency. From its start as a techie experiment to its days as the darling of liberty lovers everywhere, the Bitcoin has fallen on some hard times.

Associations with the drug site Silk Road, repeated hackings and thefts and the well-publicized struggles of Bitcoin exchanges like Japan’s Mt Gox have rocked the Bitcoin world. Countries such as China and Russia have refused to allow Bitcoin trading in their official exchanges, and the cybercurrency’s stock has fallen. It’s also being challenged by a variety of other digital monies with names like Freedomcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin.

Negative publicity notwithstanding, the Bitcoin perseveres, even as many observers, including Jason Hartman, expect a major push by established banking and government institutions to shut it down completely. And as some financial experts have pointed out, if it walks like a coin of exchange and talks like a coin of exchange – well, then.

So the more the Bitcoin suffers the same tribulations as other currencies in terms of misuse and theft, the more it begins to resemble “conventional” money. Add to that the arrest of one Bitcoin exchange CEO and the death of another in ways that echo circumstances in the “real” financial world, and it begins to seem that in some aspects – though not necessarily the most desirable ones – the Bitcoin has arrived.  (Top image:Flickr/bitcoinnation)

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Social Security Numbers Define Our Identities

Successful People Rise and Shine

The American Monetary Association Team

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AMA 78 – The Infinite Banking Concept with Tom Dyson

Tom Dyson is the Publisher of Common Sense Publishing, which owns The Palm Beach Letter. Common Sense is one of the fastest growing investment newsletters in the world.

Dyson joins the show to discuss what he looks at when picking stocks, including what every good company needs to have over the long term.

Dyson then shares his thoughts on why he thinks whole life insurance with paid up additions policies are great investments.

The topics then turn to lifestyle, as Dyson discusses ways to cut down stress and lose weight.

Dyson has prepared a SPECIAL video for all listeners. He shares where bankers and the rich keep their money and why they do it.

Visit www.palmbeachletter3.com to find out more.

Check out this episode!

Social Security Numbers Define Our Identities

AMA3-15-14If you don’t have a Social Security number, do you really exist? About 480 million Social Security cards have been issued since the system began in 1936 – and by now, the numbers on that card define our identity for everything from hospital admissions to getting a new car loan. It’s the closest thing in the US to a national identity card – and anyone who steals those numbers on the card takes your identity along.

But the Social Security number system didn’t start out that way. It was just a filing system to keep track of Social Security applications, and the numbers we faithfully recite from memory in all sorts of situations originally only indicated three things: the area where the card was issued, a group number that narrows the pool of cardholders, and a set of four unique serial number digits at the end. That number was originally intended only to identify applicants in the Social Security system itself.

Today, though, the Social Security number (or SSN) turns up everywhere, an easy identifier in all kinds of transactions. It can be changed, but only with some difficulty and legal petitioning. And once it’s hacked, the number holder’s entire identity can be compromised.

Social Security numbers rank among the top targets for identity theft, say cybersecurity experts. Hijacked numbers can be used to create new identities, or to divert the benefits of someone who already receives Social Security. Or they can be used to get access to credit card accounts and other kinds of financial transactions.

Social Security fraud may also be a family affair, with a friend, relative or even caregiver taking advantage of the easy availability of someone’s Social Security card or number. But regardless of the way the theft happens, a victim may not know it, until questionable credit card bills start rolling in, or bank accounts are suddenly empty.

How to protect that precious set of nine numbers? Fraud experts say that it’s important to keep your Social Security card secure – and don’t carry it in your wallet unless absolutely necessary. Monitor credit reports for signs of unauthorized activity. And report a stolen card right away. The same advice applies for family and friends of the vulnerable elderly, whose SSNs are often co-opted by caregivers and used to siphon money from a person’s accounts or do other kinds of financial transactions.

Identity theft experts caution that in today’s fast moving digital world, the chances of catching garden-variety identity thieves are pretty small. But reporting a theft, or a suspected theft, is still important, and there’s help available for the time consuming processes of shutting down compromised accounts and protecting assets.

Social Security numbers have come a long way since their early days as part of a simple filing system to their role today as the key to an individual’s entire identity. Like a good credit score, an investor’s Social Security number is more valuable than gold – and, as Jason Hartman says, it’s worth protecting like the treasure it’s come to be. (Top image: Flickr/DonkeyHotey)

Read more from The American Monetary Association:

Old Scams Still Snare New Victims

Successful People Rise and Shine

The American Monetary Association Team:

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Old Scams Still Snare New Victims

AMA3-10-14It’s said there’s nothing new under the sun. And that seems to be true in the world of financial scams and frauds, where new victims continue to get caught in variations of old scams that have beep around for years. The Internet has only made it easier for scam artists to cast a wider net. Case in point: a very simple real estate “bait and switch” that recently netted a New York con artist a cool $22,000.

We’ve brought you news in these pages about a variety of scams and frauds masking the rounds of real estate transactions both online and off. And while vigilance is usually the key to avoiding getting burned, sometimes the scam looks so straightforward it’s hard to spot the catch. That’s what scammers are counting on when they place ads (usually on Craigslist but also on other kinds of real estate listing sites) for homes and apartments for sale or rent.

There’s just one catch. They don’t actually own the places they’re posting about. So when interested parties respond, the scammer may show the place, collect deposits or – in some especially brazen cases, a sale price – and then disappear. That’s what happened in New York’s East Village, where a man claiming to be the owner showed 10 people a vacant apartment, collected $2,200 in deposit money from each of them and then vanished.

When the would-be renters tried to finalize the transaction, they found that the apartment was owned by someone else and that it wasn’t actually up for rent. There was no hops of recovering their lost money – or of tracking down the bogus seller.

The same scenario is played out on home and apartment listing boards across the country. Some transactions are conducted entirely online, with hungry buyers sending a “seller” large deposits or, in some cases, the whole purchase price of a dwelling on the basis of a few photos or a talk with the scammer, who often pressures them into moving forward fast with a story of unhappy circumstances.

The properties used as bait typically come from real listings pirated from other sources – or local properties the scammer has personal knowledge of, as in the New York City case. The scam joins a long line of similar traps laid for unwary renters and buyers. But because it appears so transparent and above board, it’s easy to become snared.

The solution, real estate fraud experts say, is to be as diligent as possible. Don’t send anyone money for a property sight unseen. Resist hard sells, sob stories and other kinds of pressure tactics to close a deal before you can think. That might include a look at property records or a call to a building’s manager to confirm the details.

Of course, fraud experts recommend reporting this kind of incident to local authorities and anti-fraud task forces, who add it to their database even if it seems unlikely that the scammer will ever be tracked down. In the end, it’s still the buyer who must beware — because in the world of finance fraud and scams, everything old is new again.  (Top image: Flickr/catierhodes)

Read more from The American Monetary Association:

Successful People Rise and Shine

Digital Currency Scams Hit the Internet

The American Monetary Association Team

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Successful People Rise and Shine

AMA3-13-14Can getting up early bring more investing success? Profile after profile of the world’s most successful and wealthy people suggest that rising with the sun (or earlier) is a key habit that translates into more energy, better decision-making and increased financial success.

The finance site Money Morning reports on new research by University of Heidelberg professor Christoph Randler that suggests that these early birds make better investing decisions and enjoy greater financial success overall than those who hit the snooze alarm.

What do these successful people do in the morning?

They use the time to get focused, find clarity and plan their activities for the day. The majority of the successful people surveyed in productivity research did one or more of these things:

They exercise. Whether it’s running, tai chi, yoga or an hour in the gym, most successful entrepreneurs and investors commit some early morning time to working out. The benefits? Overall better health, increased oxygen flow to the brain, and an increased sense of well-being and energy that helps with making decisions, thinking fast and resolving problems.

They practice meditation. Or something similar. If there’s one thing shared by nearly all highly successful people studied, it was a commitment to a daily meditation and/or mindfulness practice. Whether it’s ten minutes or the hour spent by really dedicated practitioners, a meditative practice of some kind appears to give these high achievers a mental clarity and “edge” that carries them through the day.

They plan. Good decisions don’t just happen. And successful people use their morning time to strategize for the coming day. That could be as simple as making up a To Do list, or as complex as keeping a journal to explore thoughts and create new strategies to make goals a reality.

They visualize. Creative visualization may seem too New Age for many, but advocates of visualizing and its cousin, affirmations, say that helping the subconscious mind to “see” outcomes does much to eliminate resistance, align yourself with a picture of success and get the conscious and subconscious minds on the same page.

They prioritize. Successful investors and others know they can’t accomplish everything. So an important part of that early morning planning involves taking a clear look at what needs to be done and whittling away at the non-essentials.

Oh, and these overachievers make time for breakfast, too. Like Mom always said, it’s an important meal, fueling the brain with the energy it needs to stay on top of the day’s activities.
Not everyone is a morning person, and there’s no one approach that guarantees success. But for investors hoping to build wealth the way Jason Hartman recommends, setting the alarm clock may be a simple way to change the game.  (Top image:Flickr/KeithRoper)

Source:

Fitz-Gerald, Keith. “Successful Investing: Five Things to Do Before 7 AM Every Day.” Money Morning. MoneyMornin.com 18 Nov 2013

Read more from The American Monetary Association:

Small Banks Wither Under New Regulations

Do Women Make Better Investors Than Men?

The American Monetary Association Team

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Small Banks Wither Under New Regulations

AMA3-12-14Where have all the small banks gone? Local and regional banks and financial institutions are fast disappearing, their places often filled by branches of the ever expanding megabanks. According to a new report from Money Morning, those little banks – often the last resort for some borrowers – may be falling victim to the slew of new regulations ironically intended to rein in the big banks and impose some accountability on the financial industry.

As we’ve reported here before, the aftermath of the housing collapse of 2008 put the big banks – those deemed “too big to fail” – in the spotlight for a variety of bad banking practices ranging from wildly inappropriate mortgage loans to outright fraud. As more and more incidences of deceit such as the “robosigning” scandal and interest rate manipulation came to light, a string of lawsuits, many pressed by the US Department of Justice, followed.

These cases mostly ended in settlements, with banks like Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase paying millions to customers bitten by their bad practices. But another outcome was the creation of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, popularly known as the Dodd Frank Act – a sweeping piece of legislation that imposed numerous new regulations and penalties on the financial industry.

The goal of Dodd Frank was to protect consumers from the kinds of manipulative and fraudulent practices that led to the housing crash, and to hold banks accountable for their behavior. Dodd Frank provisions included new standards for mortgage lending and new penalties for banks that ignored them.

The big banks, with masses of resources and legal teams at their disposal, absorbed the Dodd Frank changes with relative ease. They’re too big to fail, remember? So even with the extensive list of changes imposed by the Dodd Frank Act’s numerous new sub-acts and watchdog groups, for these megabanks business continues relatively unchanged.

But according to a new post from Money Morning, for smaller banks and financial groups, the slew of new regulations is becoming too much of a burden, one that’s crushing their ability to keep on doing business as usual. These small local banks don’t have the resources to stay in compliance and handle the consequences if they aren’t. New lending standards are limiting the number of new customers and these institutions are often too small to qualify for a bail out.

Many smaller regional banks have been absorbed in mergers with larger ones. Others have simply closed their doors. And, say financial experts, that’s closing the door to loan applicants and banking customers who may not be able to meet the standards imposed by larger banks, or who have special needs that a local bank could handle.

In the long run, the loss of the country’s small banks, credit unions and other kinds of financial institutions puts a dent in the recovery of the economy as a whole and limits options for investors who want to build wealth in real estates as Jason Hartman advises. And whether or not the well-meaning reforms of the Dodd Frank Act are entirely to blame, mortgage seekers of all kinds may feel the loss of the banks that are just small enough to fail.  (Top image:Flickr/gorfor)
Source:

Zeiler, David. Three Charts That Show How Dodd-Frank Is Killing Small Banks. “ Money Morning. MoneyMorning.com 7 Mar 2014

Read more from The American Monetary Association:

Do Women Make Better Investors Than Men?

Digital Currency Scams Hit the Internet

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Do Women Make Better Investors Than Men?

AMA3-8-14If, as John Gray’s book would have it, men are from Mars and women are from Venus, it seems that where investing is concerned, Venus is rising. A new report by USA Today confirms what a variety of behavioral studies have been saying for a while: women are better at investing than men.

Although talking about behaviors in gender-specific terms raises the specter of sexism, studies conducted in both the UK and US show that some traits characteristic of men and women play a big role in their success at investing – and why men may be more prone to falling victim to investing scams and bad deals.

Women have been characterized as less tolerant of risk than men. What’s more, they tend to look more carefully at long term goals than men, and to be far less driven by impulse. And these general characteristics can boost investing success. Women investors may not jump at the latest smoking hot deal – and that means they may miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity. On the other hand, over time, they’ll probably end up losing less in the long term when those flashy, risky deals dry up –or come crashing down.

Women investors are more likely to have the patience to wait for an investment to yield results than men are – and, according to a recent article from USA Today, that makes them more likely to hang in with investments that offer a return over time rather than an immediate pay out. That kind of thinking can be an advantage in real estate investing, where wealth is built over time from a stable long-term investment.

It’s an old cliché that women are more willing to ask directions than men. And it seems the same dynamic holds true in the investing world, where research on gender differences in money management found that women more frequently ask for advice on investing decisions, seek out qualified experts to consult, and do their own homework before making a commitment, like Jason Hartman always advises. Plus, they’re more willing to establish connections and relationships that can support their investing efforts, while male investors as a group often prefer the lone wolf route and resist asking for help.

Women may have a leg up on men in some areas that are important to investing success, but in general investing is still a man’s world. Women investors are still in the minority, and their efforts are hampered by gender stereotyping and self-esteem issues. Those things combine to create barriers for women in the investing world – but thanks to investing programs and groups designed for women, their numbers are increasing.

And the picture for men isn’t so gloomy, either. Bold moves and quick decisions are still a key part of investing success – and an approach that balances the best of both worlds means a clearer path to long term wealth for the men and women who live here on Earth.  (Top image:ClipPix)

Sources:
Carden, Robert. “Behavioral Economics Show That Women Tend to Make Better Investments Than Men.” The Washington Post. WashingtonPost.com 11 Oct 2013

McWhinnie, Eric. “Women Are Mostly Better Investors Than Men.” USA Today Money and Personal Finance. USAToday.com. 8 Mar 2014

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Crowd Funding With Tim Sullivan

Digital Currency Scams Hit the Internet

The American Monetary Association Team

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AMA 77 – Crowd Funding with Tim Sullivan

Tim Sullivan is the Chief Executive Officer of MicroVentures. He joins the show to discuss how early-stage funding has changed from the 90′s to today. He also explains the differences between angel investors and VCs.

 

Sullivan then digs deep into the JOBS Act and how the SEC is regulating it. 

 

Sullivan’s firm, MicroVentures, is the biggest crowdfunding platform. It’s done about $40 million in deals with companies that have become big, like Facebook, Palantir, and Twitter. Sullivan shares his strategy in finding such companies.

 

Sullivan finishes the interview by talking about whether Twitter’s current valuation is fair.

 

Visit MicroVentures at www.microventures.com.

Check out this episode!