Money Talks — But What Does It Say?

Money Talks But What Does It Say?What does your money say? Of course, most of the time, we’re more concerned with what money can buy – and what various institutions like the Federal Reserve and the megabanks are doing with it. But a country’s history, culture and values are written on the coins and bills it keeps in circulation. Case in point: the lowly US dollar bill, which contains in its often-misunderstood symbols and slogans the dreams and aspirations of its founders.

The images and words that appear on paper and metal money aren’t static. They change over time to accommodate new circumstances – and political conditions. US currency alone has undergone several permutations as a result of the country’s changing configurations and events like the Civil War. And in other parts of the world, new money commemorates changing regimes and leaders.

Money Talks In Symbols and Slogans

Because money acts as a kind of shorthand for what the issuing country stands for, every image and word printed or stamped on stands as a symbol with layers of deeper meanings behind it. And as those meanings become hazy with time, the symbols themselves can take on entirely new meanings their creators never intended.

Most officially circulated currency carries at least the image of a prominent individual, a motto or slogan, and a symbol representing what the country stands for. Beyond that, money can carry a variety of images and slogans.

Take the dollar, for example. The greenback and its cousins the bigger denominations are recognized around the world. Everybody knows who’s on the bill – Ben Franklin – but what done the other parts of the dollar represent?

Seals, Symbols and Portraits

Franklin wasn’t always on the bill, though. Back in the 1860s, the face on the dollar bill was actually that of Salmon P. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury. And at that time there were actually several currencies in circulation as the Confederacy printed its own money and Texas declared itself a Republic with its own money too.

Those things aside, though, the key elements of American money haven’t changed too much since their creation not long after the country was born. And those mysterious symbols that raise the specter of black magic and Satanism were the brainchild of a designer inspired by the poetry of Virgil and the history of Egypt.

The face of the dollar, like other denominations, has a Treasury Seal. It consists of a scale, representing balance, a chevron with 13 stars for the 13 original colonies and a key symbolizing official authority. Until 10996 each banknote carried a Federal Reserve Bank designator that indicated where it was produced. Now, only the dollar and $2 bills carry this unique designator, a letter that proclaims the bill’s origin. Larger denominations simply carry the general Federal Reserve System Seal.

The Great Seal: Eagle and Pyramid

The dollar bill and others also carry the Great Seal of the United States – complex creation consisting o an eagle and an unfinished pyramid.

The eagle’s meaning is pretty clear – but even at that, its symbolism has stirred some controversy. The Eagle of course represents freedom and independence, soaring high and strong. There’s a shield on its chest, covered with the red, white and blue stripes and stars we’re familiar with: thirteen stars for the original colonies and blue for justice, white for purity and red for valor.

This eagle bears thirteen arrows in its left talon, representing war, and an olive branch in the right representing peace. But it’s the other part of the seal, with its mysterious eye atop a pyramid, that fuels speculation of darker meanings.

What does an unfinished pyramid with an all seeing eye on top say about the country? This symbol on the Seal, along with its inscription, “Novis Ordo Seclorum,” – “New World Order” — has fueled speculation about Masonic influences, alchemy and even Satanic references. But according to Charles Thompson, who designed the Seal in 1782, the truth is more mundane.

The pyramid, deliberately left undone, was meant to symbolize strength and duration. While that may call for a stretch of the imagination, the all seeing eye, said to represent watchful Providence, is clearer. And the inscription, inspired by Virgil, was meant to indicate that the birth of the country introduced a new direction into the world – not world domination.

The dollar and its relatives in the higher denominations have been redesigned and refurbished from time to time. Colors have changed slightly and the relative prominence of various elements has shifted. The symbols and messages on the greenback may have been misunderstood and even maligned, and its fortunes go up and down in the world’s money markets. But still it bears on its printed face keys to the early days of the country – and the vision its founders had for the future.  (Featured Image:Flickr/imagesofmoney)

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AMA 90: Work the System with Sam Carpenter

AMA91: America’s Forum with J. D. Hayworth

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AMA 91 – America’s Forum with J.D. Hayworth

J.D. Hayworth is a former Arizona Republican Congressman and host of “America’s Forum” on Newxmax TV.

 

Hayworth discusses why Bill Clinton’s Presidency so corrupt and what this corruption means for Hillary’s bid in 2016.

 

Hayworth contested John McCain and did not win in 2010. He explains the biggest issues he had with McCain. 

 

Hayworth finally shares how he went from sports broadcaster to politician.

 

J.D. Hayworth was a Representative from Arizona. Born in Highpoint, Guilford County, N.C., July 12, 1958, he graduated from High Point Central High School, Highpoint, N.C. and earned a B.A. from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He’s a former television and radio journalist, before being elected as a Republican to the One Hundred Fourth and five succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1995-January 3, 2007). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the One Hundred Tenth Congress in 2006. 

 

 

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AMA 90 – Work the System with Sam Carpenter

Sam Carpenter author of, “Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less.” He joins the show to discuss how can people make more money by working less.

 

With a background in engineering, publishing, journalism and telecommunications, Sam is author of the book, “Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less,” (2009, Greenleaf Book Group, www.workthesystem.com). He is also CEO and majority owner of Centratel (www.centratel.com), a national telephone answering service that he has operated for 28 years. Sam is founder and director of Kashmir Family Aid, a 501C3 non-profit aiding surviving school children of the Northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir earthquake of October 2005 (www.kashmirfamily.org).  

 

Outside interests include mountaineering, skiing, cycling, reading, traveling. “Work the System” won the prestigious “Best Non-fiction” award at the New York Book Festival. The book is now in its third edition. Sam also owns a consulting firm and distributes an on-line product, The Work the System Academy (www.workthesystemacademy.com) Originally from upstate New York he lives in Bend, Oregon and Seattle, Washington with his wife Linda.

 

Get “Work the System” at www.workthesystem.com

 

Visit the Work The System Academy at www.workthesystemacademy.com.

 

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AMA 89 – The Truth about Gold and Silver with David Morgan

David Morgan is Publisher of The Morgan Report. He joins the show to discuss what’s next for gold and silver after the FOMC’s latest announcement and the news in Iraq. 

 

In the interview, Morgan shares whether investors should trust this metals rally. He explains why silver is a better currency and more ubiquitous than gold. 

 

Morgan then discusses how levered banks are and if financial institutions have learned anything from the 2008 crisis.

 

Seduced by silver at the tender age of 11, David Morgan started investing in the stock market while still a teenager. A precious metals aficionado armed with degrees in finance and economics as well as engineering, he created the Silver-Investor.com website and originated The Morgan Report, a monthly that covers economic news, overall financial health of the global economy, currency problems ahead and reasons for investing in precious metals.  

 

David considers himself a big-picture macroeconomist whose main job as education—educating people about honest money and the benefits of a sound financial system—and his second job as teaching people to be patient and have conviction in their investment holdings. A dynamic, much-in-demand speaker all over the globe, David’s educational mission also makes him a prolific author having penned “Get the Skinny on Silver Investing” available as an e-book or through Amazon.com. As publisher of The Morgan Report, he has appeared on CNBC, Fox Business, and BNN in Canada. He has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Futures Magazine, The Gold Report and numerous other publications. Additionally, he provides the public a tremendous amount of information by radio and writes often in the public domain.

 

Find out more about David Morgan and his work at www.silver-investor.com.

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Can Corporate Tax Inversions Harm the Economy?

Can Tax Inversions HarmtheEconomyThe chief financial officer of drugstore giant Walgreen’s just departed his job. And while the movements of higher ups at megacorporations often resemble a round of musical chairs, this particular job change sheds light on a new trend in corporate tax evasion: tax inversion.

Tax inversion is a milk toast term for a sweeping strategy that’s being increasingly embraced by large and some mid-size American corporations: partner with a foreign corporation, dissolve the US business and reincorporate it outside the country. While technically legal, this kind of move worries entities like the US Joint Committee on Taxation, which estimates that tax inversions cost the country – and its taxpayers – nearly $20 billion annually.

Tax Inversion Exploits Tax Code Loopholes

US corporate taxes are among the highest in the world, so it’s no surprise that businesses of all sizes are constantly looking for ways to avoid the hit. And while proposals for business tax reform have been on the table for over two years, Congress still hasn’t taken action on reforming the code in ways that would benefit the economy as a whole and create a more equitable tax structure.

But the existing code does come with loopholes that savvy corporate lawyers can exploit. And one of those is a provision that creates tax benefits, not liabilities, for companies that acquire foreign corporations and then declare that they’re based overseas.

At Walgreen’s, the departure of CFO Wade Miquelin came just before the company announced its intention to acquire Alliance Boots, a Switzerland based company that has no apparent connection with pharmacies. That acquisition lets Walgreen’s reconstitute its corporate headquarters abroad – and shed a large portion of its US corporate tax burden.

Offshore tax havens aren’t new, of course. Putting US money into foreign accounts to stash it safely away from the taxman is a time-honored practice conducted by businesses large and small – as well as numerous criminal organizations. But as that strategy gets riskier, corporations are taking a different tack – recreating their corporate identify itself outside the country. Making it easier: the ability to buy up, merge or partner with an existing company in that foreign country.

Tax Inversion and Domestic Tax Revenue

The result? The new entity on foreign soil doesn’t pay corporate taxes at home on profits made through its reincarnated, offshore, version. And that, obviously, means that tax revenue ends up conspicuously absent from the domestic tax base – a scenario with the potential to affect the health of the economy and the lives of American taxpayers in a multitude of ways large and small.

According to a recent Forbes article, the immediate impact of tax inversion is felt by company shareholders, many of whom are smaller investors. If they’re left holding the bag of nearly useless shares after the company moves offshore, they may end up selling off their shares of the company’s stock at a loss – and paying the higher taxes imposed on short-term capital gains.

That’s what happened with the recent merger of US based Forest Laboratories with ActivusPLC in Dublin. Forest Laboratories closed its US operations and reinvented itself in Ireland, leaving Forest Laboratories company shareholders to cope with unloading their shares and paying the resulting capital gains taxes at the higher short term rates.

That multibillion dollar tax loss, say financial experts, also robs the country of needed funds to keep the economy humming and boost sectors such as employment and maintaining the infrastructure. But not everyone agrees.

Although corporations practicing tax inversions are able to evade taxes on revenues made outside the country, they still must pay standard US corporate taxes on revenues fro inside the US. That, some economists argue, offsets the overall loss of tax revenues. And, they say, the process itself oaf dissolving and reincorporating the company brings with it taxes and fees that return to the government.

Joining the criticism of tax inversion are supporters of the President’s recent proposal, which has languished since 2012 without government action. They say that the current loophole that allows for inversion stacks the decks against those businesses that aren’t able to accomplish a foreign merger and restructuring, and robs the country of much needed revenues for essentials like road and bridge repair and emergency response funding.

Closing the Loopholes With Tax Reform

The proposed corporate tax reforms would make it harder for a US-based company to reinvent itself as a foreign entity and continue to enjoy the perks of its US based operations. Foreign shareholders would have to hold a majority in the new entity, rather than the 20 percent now required. Those provisions were part of an earlier bipartisan proposal made back in 2004, and reform advocates hope that the changes will survive.

In the meantime, though, tax inversion remains a hotly debated issue. And as more US corporations enter into unlikely partnerships with foreign businesses for the purposes of avoiding US corporate taxes, the ultimate effect on the economy overall may be more uncertain than it first appears. But financial experts warn that because changes to the tax code won’t be coming any time soon, corporate tax inversion will affect the nation – and its taxpayers – in ways large and small.

(Top image: Flickr/KevinFowler)

Sources:

Madhani, Amer. ”Walgreen’s CFO Departs Ahead of Tax Inversion Announcement.” USAToday Finance. usatoday.com. 5 Aug 2014.

Wastall, Tim. “The US Treasure Would Not Lose $20 Billion From Corporate Tax Inversions.” Forbes. Forbes.com 5 Aug 2014.\

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AMA86: Crowdfunding with Matthew McGrath

What is the Fed and What Is It Doing With Your Money?

Carla and The American Monetary Association Team

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AMA 88 – Crowdfunding with Matthew McGrath

Matthew J. McGrath is the President and CEO of Optimize Capital Markets. He joins the show to discuss institutional crowdfunding and how the JOBS Act infringes on investors’ protections rights.  

 

Optimize Capital Markets is Canada’s first and longest running internet-based institutional crowdfunding company. The company operates optimizecapitalmarkets.com, an online website where businesses can request to get financing from potential accredited investors and institutions. 

 

Optimize Capital Markets was founded in September 2009 by Matthew McGrath, a former vice-president of private client services at the Royal Bank of Canada. 

 

Visit Optimize Capital Markets at www.optimizecapitalmarkets.com.

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AMA 87 – Inflation and Economic Woes with Charles Goyette

Charles Goyette is the Host of “Ron Paul’s America” radio show. He joins the podcast to give his dramatic solution to prevent the coming financial ruin. 

 

Goyette believes the longstanding practice of crony capitalism strangles our economy. He thinks we need to reign in overseas spending and end American interventionism. 

 

Goyette then explains whether it is fair for younger people to subsidize older people.

 

New York Times bestselling author Charles Goyette spent many years as an award-winning and popular Phoenix radio personality. Admired for his “Fearless Talk Radio,” Charles was named Best Phoenix Talk Show Host by the New Times. Because of his insistence on holding all poiticians – regardless of party – accountable to the same strict standards, Charles was widely known as “America’s Most Independent Talk Show Host.” His years of experience as a financial professional have served his listeners well as he sounded the alarm about the mortgage bubble well in advance of the calamity and described the consequences of the governments reckless economic behavior in his clear, easy to understand manner. 

 

Charles is no newcomer to the national economic debate. In fact, more than 25 years ago Charles arranged for a then little-known Texas Congressman named Ron Paul to be the keynote speaker at a series of monetary conferences he hosted. Goyette has often been called on to share his views with television audiences nationally on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, CNBC and Fox Business Channel, including on the Glenn Beck Show and The O’Reilly Factor with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News; NOW with Bill Moyers on PBS; and on Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN, where he repeatedly warned before the current turmoil the “economic calamity the Republicans and Democrats” were creating. He has written for a number of magazines including The American Conservative and Gannett magazines, and for LewRockwell.comCNBC.comWorldNetDaily.com, and TheStreet.com

 

Listen to “Ron Paul’s America” at www.ronpaulsamerica.info.

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AMA 86 – Banking Bail In with John and Monica Miller

John and Monica Miller are the authors of, “The Coming U.S. Banking ‘Bail In.’” They join the show to discuss if it is true that in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and the EU, when you deposit funds in your bank account, the money belongs to the bank. They share what first world “Triple A” countries are not part of this bank money grabbing initiative.

 

The Millers definte what a “bail in” is and answer whether the FDIC program offsets a “bail in.” They also describe the process of sending money overseas to avoid a “bail in.”

 

They then talk about the U.S. banking system and how Americans can side-step the “bail in” problems.

 

Find out more about John and Monica Miller at http://www.banking-holiday.com.

 

John and Monica Miller, formerly of Hawaii and now residents of New Zealand, believe that Australia offers some of the best financial conditions in the free world. The Country is debt-free and the wealth is staggering. It is a resource based economy that is still prospering. 

 

Therefore, before capital controls and retirement account seizure takes place, this is certainly a place that should be considered when trying to internationalize assets. And while they drive on the wrong side of the road, the weather is quite nice, and there are some incredible beaches and cities.

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Can Living Wills Prevent Another Banking Collapse?

AMA7-28-14People make living wills – and now, so do banks. To prevent a major financial meltdown like the one that hit the country in 2008, major US banks are now required to create a contingency plan for failure and submit it to government regulators. But because those regulators haven’t been monitoring those “living wills,” the safety net protecting consumers from another crisis is still full of holes.

The Post Collapse Clean Up

The banking collapse of 2008 devastated the country. Mismanagement, fraud and reckless lending crated a bubble that burst in spectacular fashion, leaving the housing market in ruins and the economy on shaky ground. That’s when the nation’s biggest banks, also the worst offenders, were deemed “too big to fail,” and massive bailouts kept them functioning

In an attempt to prevent more scenarios like this, the government stepped in, passing the sweeping Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 to impose more accountability on the banking industry and protect consumers from predatory practices and their own bad judgment.

Among the many requirements of the Act was the “living will” mandate. The country’s biggest banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase, had come under investigation by the US Justice Department and various state attorneys general for wide ranging fraud and mismanagement that put millions of homes into foreclosure nationwide as well as other financial crimes affecting not just domestic but also international financial activities.

But because those banks were the linchpins of the country’s financial structure, a collapse, either due to bankruptcy or illegal dealings, remained unthinkable. They were still too big to fail, which meant that anther crisis would require more bailouts at taxpayer expense.

The Fed and the FDIC: Banking Regulators

So the Dodd Frank Act required each of these large banks as well as a few other heavy hitters in the financial world to create a detailed plan describing what would happen to the company in the event of a complete collapse. That plan was to be filed with designated government regulators — the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, better known as the FDIC.

The job of the Fed and the FDIC was to conduct periodic “stress tests” that would determine whether financial institutions were healthy. One job was to review these plans annually and notify their creators of any shortcomings. Banks were supposed to amend the plans to accommodate the Fed’s recommendations until the plan was deemed credible and viable.

And if they didn’t? The Dodd Frank Act also includes a mandate for regulators to seize and forcibly dismantle stubbornly non-compliant institutions and either kill them entirely or recreate them as smaller entities. This would prevent the need for massive and unpopular bailouts to keep those struggling, and shady, financial giants afloat.

Four years later, none of that has happened.

The Fed’s Standstill

The banks, chief among them the perennial banking bad boy Bank of America as well as its cohorts Chase and Citi, have filed living wills. They were followed by other big financial entities including Prudential and American International Group.

But the Fed and the FDIC have yet to respond. The whole topic became a sore point in recent US Senate Banking Committee hearings, when new Fed chair Janet Yellen blamed her agency’s foot-dragging on a complex documentation process and altogether avoided the question of the mandate to forcibly break up malfunctioning institutions.

The lack of response from the Fed on the entire “living will’ aspect of Dodd Frank worries a number of financial experts. They fear that even if the institutions comply with Dodd Frank and file plans as required, those plans are largely meaningless without timely feedback from the regulators.

What’s more, banking experts say, the reason the Fed is avoiding questions about the mandate to take charge of troubled institutions is that it doesn’t really have any plans of its own in place to address how to do that. If true, that means government regulators have no power to require banks to create credible plans and act on them if necessary.

This creates a situation, they say, that leaves the country vulnerable to another banking collapse like the one five years ago, with megabanks on the verge of collapse and a taxpayer funded bailout waiting in the wings because Dodd Frank’s provisions couldn’t be enforced.

For “taxpayer” read “you” – the ones already paying higher banking fees as large banks pass on their legal costs to customers.

Other provisions of the Dodd Frank act, such as requirements for tighter lending standards and consumer assistance, are in place, and the ultimate fate of the “living will” mandate remains to be seen. But as Jason Hartman says, education is a key part of investing success – and of financial survival in case of a bank’s demise.  (Top image: Flickr/eglobetravel)

Read more from The American Monetary Association:

Who is the Fed and What Is It Doing With Your Money?

Not a Student? Student Loan Debt Still Hits Home

Carla and the American Monetary Association Team

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Who is the Fed and What Is It Doing With Your Money?

What does the Fed do?The Fed, aka the Federal Reserve, has been making more headlines since the housing collapse of a few years ago than at any time in its history, thanks largely to its ongoing but fading stimulus program aimed at keeping interest rates low. But the Fed does far more than that. Like a puppet master in the shadows pulling strings, the Federal Reserve makes decisions that affect the financial health of everybody in the US – and many abroad.

The nation’s central bank is tasked with regulating the flow of money throughout the economy. Its gatekeeper committees and subcommittees oversee everything from interest rates to inflation as it holds back or introduces money into the system.

That’s how the Fed gained its current level of consumer recognition. The housing bubble that peaked and then burst around 2008 had devastating ripple effects throughout the e3conmomuy as a whole. As homeowners across the country defaulted on mortgages and lost homes to foreclosure, the economy as a whole flattened.

So the Fed stepped in with a large-scale stimulus program known formally as Qualitative Easing version 3, a plan that involved the buying of billions of mortgage backed securities from the nation’s big banks each month. That. The Fed argued, would allow those banks to keep interest levels low and encourage the recovery of housing and other aspects of the economy.

But while the progress of the stimulus has gained the Fed some public scrutiny in recent months, it’s done little to lift the veil on the Fed’s relationship to those megabanks deemed too big to fail, the world’s money markets and you – yes, you, the American taxpayer.

The Fed and Interest Rates

The stimulus and its effect on interest rates touch everybody who’s looking to take out a loan, particularly for a home mortgage. Because QE3 was originally aimed at propping up the housing industry after the collapse, mortgage interest rates fell to historically low levels and have remained relatively low even as the Fed takes steps to taper down the stimulus thanks to improving job rates and consumer indexes.

Those low rates also trickle out into other kinds of loans as well, since the stimulus allows banks to adjust rates down on consumer credit purchases of items like cars and appliances too. But critics of the stimulus, some of whom are employees of regional branches of the Fed, point out that the nations large banks can still set their own rates and charge customers higher fees on transactions as well.

The Fed and Inflation

Probably nothing the Fed does has more of a direct effect on consumers than adjusting rates of inflation and deflation – the value of the dollar relative to its purchasing power. While it may seem that the best rate of inflation is no inflation at all, the Fed actually considers mild inflation to be completely acceptable. And it has the power to adjust those rates accordingly.

That’s not all bad, as Jason Hartman points out. As the value of the dollar goes down, so does the value of debt –meaning that a person with a home loan can end up paying less on that loan than its original value, since the dollar is worth less than it did when the loan was new.

The Fed and the Big Banks

Whether or not you hold an account with one of the country’s biggest banks, such as Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo or JP Morgan Chase, you’ve been affected by the malfeasance of those banks in the recent past. They’ve all been implicated in bad behavior stemming from the housing collapse that includes misrepresentation, fraud and outright criminal activity.

The Department of Justice, backed by the Fed, launched a number of investigations that led to multibillion-dollar fines and settlements on the part of Bank of America, Citgroup and Chase as well as a number of smaller satellite institutions. Victims in some pf the suits got settlements too.

But because a fine in the millions of dollars is mere pocket change to an institution that can’t be allowed to fail, those banks continue to operate, passing along the costs of those legal actions to customers in the form of fees and rates.

Those bad banking practices led to the creation of the Dodd frank Act in 2010 – a sweeping piece of consumer protection legislation aimed at protecting consumers and imposing tighter standards – and penalties – on the banks themselves.

Because of the Dodd Frank Act, the Fed now conducts annual “stress tests” – a review of a bank’s assets and outlay to determine its overall stability and health. The test allows the Fed to pinpoint problem areas and intervene before the bank is in danger of failing. Though the Fed’s stress tests are aimed at the bank itself, not consumers, the results are passed along in the form of customer service, accountability and even the opening and closing of bank branches in various parts of the country.

The Fed, LIBOR and International Currency Exchanges

Think that global money markets don’t affect the average American with o offshore assets? Think again. The Fed is active in the world’s currency exchanges too, with ties to the international banking rate setter LIBOR and others. Those rates set the value of the dollar relative to the currencies of other countries and the related interest rates. And that affects the rate and costs of importing and exporting goods as well as the exchange rates for currency conversion and other international financial activity. Whether you’re a tourist, entrepreneur or investor, the Fed’s behavior on the world scene affects your financial decisions.

The Fed isn’t omnipotent, though. Its recent actions – or inactions – about requiring banks to comply with stress test mandates recently came under sharp scrutiny by the Senate Banking committee. But its reach is long and its decisions small and large can affect the way we all conduct business both personal and pubic both at home and abroad.  (Top image: Flickr/anthonyquintano)

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AMA 85 – The Future of 3D Printing with Christopher Barnatt


The 3D Printing Revolution is about to transform our lives. While traditional laser and inkjet printers only make marks on paper, 3D printers build up solid objects in a great many very thin layers. Already pioneers are 3D Printing production tools, prototypes, jewelry, sunglasses, works of art, toys and vehicle parts. But this is just the beginning, with digital manufacturing destined to change how we create, transport and store a great many things.

Within a decade, some products may be downloaded from the Internet for printout in store or even at home. Already DIY enthusiasts are building their own 3D printers, while consumer models for the rest of us are just starting to arrive. Meanwhile doctors are learning how to 3D print kidneys and other replacement human organs.

In this book, futurist Christopher Barnatt explains how 3D Printing works, overviews the 3D Printing Industry, interviews some of its pioneers, and highlights how 3D Printing may help to save the planet. Also included is an extensive glossary of 3D printing terminology and a 3D printing directory.

Christopher Barnatt’s 2012 book, 25 Things You Need to Know About the Future, was reviewed by The Futurist as “an exciting, yet realistic and believable, vision”, and by New Scientist as “a worthwhile read for anyone curious to know what may await us”.

Check out this episode!

AMA 84 – Vodka Diplomacy with Phaedra Fisher

Phaedra Fisher visited Russia back in 1994, and witnessed the privatization and inflation firsthand. Her book, Vodka Diplomacy, explains her experience and life in Russia as several events unfolded.

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Not a Student? Student Loan Debt Still Hits Home

Student debt still hits homeYou’re not a college student. You don’t have a child in college. But the escalating crisis of student loan debt still affects you, in ways large and small. In the spring of 2014 the total student debt load in the US had reached $1.1 trillion – and that burden of debt is stifling entrepreneurship, threatening the economic recovery and sparking fears of another recession.

The cost of college has been steadily rising over the past half-century or so. From lowly community colleges to prestigious Ivy League schools, institutions of higher learning have been raising tuition costs and other fees. At the same time, scholarships and grants from private and government sources have been drying up.

That means more and more students hoping to get the degree that would lead to a lucrative long-term career have had to turn to loans to get through school. Because the traditional government funded student loan programs still aren’t enough to cover all the expenses associated with college, private lenders have stepped in to fill the gap, with higher interest rates and shorter terms than the old standbys. Even Pell grants, which could support a lower-income student through a two or four year degree program at a community or small state school, are falling short, which means those students who can least afford another burden of debt are also turning to private lenders for help.

The result? On average, American students leave school with a debt load of about $30,000. And while increasing numbers of students are finishing degree programs later in life, the bulk of the burden falls squarely on the fastest growing segment of the US population: the so-=called “millennials,” people ranging in age from early twenties to early thirties.

In the traditional paradigm, these twentysomethings might have been expected to graduate, get a good job, marry, buy a house and settle down to raise a family funded by a solid career. But increasingly, economic circumstances paint a very different picture.

Student Loan Debt Stifles Economic Growth

Saddled with large amounts of debt, recent graduates are opting not to take on more – and that includes the “good debt” of a home mortgage as well as the general consumer debt of cars and other high-end purchases. Even with near record low interest rates, these young consumers are wary of taking on more debt – especially if they’re struggling with lower paying jobs than they expected to have with their degrees.

Fewer home sales and consumer purchases mean a sluggish economy overall. What’s more, the student debt problem also ripples through the world of employment, with serious implications for job growth and new startups. And that in turn affects the country’s global competitiveness and ability to innovate.

Student Loan Debt Crushes Employment Opportunities

The problem of student loan debt affects the job market – eve among those who don’t go to college. A recent study found a relatively large subgroup of individuals who could go to college but are choosing not to, precisely because they don’t want to take on the burden of thousands of dollars in debt. Instead, they settle for whatever lower-wage jobs they can get with less education. While some may advance to better opportunities and better wages, most don’t.

Another group often overlooked in studies of student debt includes those who enroll in college, but then drop out – usually after they’ve gotten financial aid to attend. These individuals are left in worse trouble than those who do finish. Not only do they end up without a degree and with limited job options, they’re faced with repaying the debt they’ve incurred.

Among students who do finish their degrees, competition in some fields is fierce, leaving many still stuck in low-wage jobs that aren’t connected to their field at all. The old cliché of the PhD driving a taxicab isn’t far from the truth. Limited financial options leave more and more of these new graduates living with family or friends in an effort to make ends meet.

For many, the threat of post graduation debt affects the choice of career, too. Students increasingly gravitate toward majors that promise higher paying jobs upon graduation, such as business or law, rather than the ones that lead to public sector or nonprofit work, like social services ad education. That leads to potentially damaging shortfalls in those key areas.

Even if they are able to land a reasonably well paying job in their chosen field, some of these graduates can expect to be paying down their loan debt for the rest of their working lives. Student loan debt isn’t discharged in bankruptcies, so many simply default – and the resulting blot on a credit report can chill any other efforts to take out a loan.

Student Loan Debt Affects US Global Competitiveness

The student loan crisis isn’t just choking the economy at home. Much of the country’s job growth comes from startups and new small businesses. But recent graduates coping with heavy debt loads may not want to – or be able to – take on the additional debt needed to launch a business. That means that good ideas go undeveloped, key innovations never get off the drawing board, and bright thinkers don’t get the support they need to keep the country ahead of the curve in a competitive global market.

A Turning Tide?

Recognizing the problem is the first step toward fixing the problem, and new – and old – efforts to tackle the student loan debt problem are trying to do just that. New programs aim to help money strapped students understand the loan process. Lower cost online programs aim to make the cost of an education cheaper. Some colleges have even (gasp!) scaled back on some fees and charges, and made more scholarship aid available.

Still, that $1 trillion in student debt won’t go away quickly. As Jason Hartman says, awareness is the key to making changes — and it doesn’t take a college degree to see that student loan debt affects us all.

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The Future May Be Brighter Than You Think: Here’s Why

Bitcoin for Real Estate: A New Frontier

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The Future May Be Brighter Than You Thought: Here’s Why

AbundanceIn a world of shrinking resources and stagnant salaries, it’s easy to believe we’re living in bad times with no hope of a recovery. But a look at the bigger picture, as revealed in a new book based on research from all over the world, suggests that we’re living in a time of unprecedented abundance – and things are only going to improve.

The future is better than you think,  say authors Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler in their new book, Abundance, which argues that, taken overall, the human beings on this planet right now are actually living in times of unprecedented abundance, and that the future doesn’t have to be feared. They’ve got the statistics to prove it, with charts showing everything from the narrowing gender wage gap to the number of people in countries around the world who are finishing college now.

A Century of Improvement

Diamandis and Kotler point out that in spite of current predictions about the decline and fall of cultures and governments, most areas of life have taken a major upswing in the last century or so. Their conclusions range from the obvious (there were more deaths in war in 1918 and 1940 than in our current cycles of armed conflict) to the surprising – a correlation between a reduction in armed conflict and expanding Internet use.

The data, presented on the duo’s website, come from a variety of different studies and analytical frameworks developed by various institutions such as the US Census Bureau. USA Today and university think tanks from round the world. While some is a little esoteric –there’s been a decline in the cost of human genome sequencing and an upswing in the number of people who shower daily in the winter – taken as a whole, the stats and trends offered by Diamandis and Kotler paint a picture of a rapidly changing, but also vastly more abundant world than the ones our parents or grandparents lived in.

Since 1900, the average human lifespan has increased by a stunning 36 years or more, and the whirlwind pace of technology means that people in just about every part of the world have the opportunity to become better informed than ever before – and able not just to receive information, but to create it and share it with the click of a mouse.

Physical comforts are more widely available than ever before, too. That observation about the percentage of people (75) who take a shower in the winter now as opposed to the 1950s (18) speaks to a variety of things including access to indoor plumbing, heat and water.

Technology Feeds Abundance

Another indication of abundance in the world is the number of photographs taken, from zero in the 1850s to thousands today. Add to that the data showing a dramatic increase in the number of people who are able to use the Internet and you have a profile of a population that’s literate and tech-savvy. People make more money and have more leisure time than at any time in the past century and more.

And, the authors argue, because technology and innovation advance exponentially, not linearly,that means that the future could be very bright indeed.

Should Investors Wear Shades?

The takeaway for investors? While no one’s advising a head in the sand approach that ignores the realities of current economic conditions and the struggles of people around the world to simply survive, and the ongoing political and social issues that need to be addressed, there’ this look backward sheds a strong light on the future, with implications for building wealth in real estate.

People are better educated than ever, with unprecedented round the clock access to the most widely available of all commodities, information. And that’s good news for investors in a rapidly growing rental market, where new opportunities become available on a daily basis and there’s always something new to learn. Networking is only as far away as the touch of a button, so it’s easier than ever to stay educated and informed – two of the most important things an investor needs to be successful, as Jason Hartman says.

These gains aren’t likely to vanish. And if you’re hoping to get started in income property investing, the strides we’ve made over the last hundred years or so mean that new doors are opening to learn about investing, make new decisions – and turn more profits. In an abundant world, everybody benefits – and three’s always enough to go around.  (Top image: Flickr/KevFowler)

Source:

Diamantis, Peter and Steven Kotler.  Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think.” AbundanceHub. Abundancehub.com. 6 July 2014

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Bitcoin for Real Estate: A New Frontier

The US: The Last Superpower Standing?

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Bitcoin For Real Estate: A New Frontier

AMA7-7-14In spite of outcry from government banks and cyberpolice worried about connections to Internet crime, the Bitcoin just keeps on trucking, with more and more sellers accepting the digital currency. But the growing use of Bitcoin for buying real estate is raising concerns about the digital coin’s staying power and stability.

Bitcoin’s splashy entrance into the real estate market came with the announcement in the spring of 2014 that the owner of a Southampton, NY property priced at nearly $800,000 was wiling to accept cash in traditional funds for the property or the equivalent in Bitcoin.

The German-born owner of that Southampton property isn’t the only one willing to take the controversial virtual currency for a real estate transaction. Sellers in Indonesia and Latin America, where Bitcoi is big, are also letting buyers know they’re willing to take Bitcoin for real estate.

But the volatility of Bitcoin has housing professionals worried. About the implications not just for these sellers, but for the housing industry as a whole – and for the investors working to build wealth through income property investing.

Bitcoin’s Rocky Road

Too see why, let’s look back at the Bitcoin. You’ll find numerous articles about it right here in our archives, because Jason Hartman’s watching its progress. Bitcoin was created back in 2009 as an experimental digital money that anyone cold use, anywhere in the world, without connections to any bank.

The Bitcoin’s popularity spread, especially in countries whose own currencies were unstable, and as it gained traction among larger groups of merchants and sellers willing to take payment in Bitcoin it became a legitimate commodity in the world’s money markets. Prices fluctuated wildly, at some points reaching as high as $200 per coin.

But with that newfound celebrity came troubles. Bitcoin exchanges were accused of money laundering, and the anonymity of the coin made it ideal for use in illegal transactions everywhere in the world. State banks and monetary authorities issued stern warnings and refused to deal in Bitcoin.

The hostility of major financial institutions and governments toward Bitcoin and other digital currencies like it have triggered fears among some Bitcoin supporters of a major effort to kill the coin entirely. But others point to the continuing spread of the coin into areas like real estate as evidence that it’s here to stay.

Bitcoin for Real Estate?

But while conducting a transaction like buying real estate with Bitcoin seems simple, it comes with complications beyond the initial exchange.

The Southampton seller says he included the Bitcoin option to broaden the range of potential buyers and give buyers an additional option. And as long as the Bitcoin sale is treated like a cash sale, real estate professionals point out that it could work. After all, the only requirement for a successful Bitcoin transaction is that both parties agree on the price and the terms.

But the very anonymity of Bitcoin makes it hard to create safeguards around such as sizable exchange. Bitcoin is backed by nothing, and its value fluctuates wildly. A hundred thousand dollars’ worth of Bitcoin today may be worth a hundred, or a thousand, in the next few months, leaving the seller with no return at all.

Credit checks on Bitcoin buyers of real estate are also useless. Since Bitcoin transactions don’t appear on anyone’s FICO report, it’s impossible to verify a buyer’s reliability. And there’s no recourse if the deal goes sour. That’s another reason Bitcoin is loved by illegal traffickers of all kinds.

Another obstacle in using Bitcoin to buy real estate is the number of ancillary transactions that go along with any kind of housing sale. Inspections, title searches and transfers, legal fees and permits are all al pert of buying am investment property – and those entities probably wont accept Bitcoin, so funds for those transactions will have to be carried by the parties involved, even if the main sale is done via Bitcoin.

For now, Bitcoin transactions for real state have been limited to relatively expensive properties, ones that could equally easily be purchased with cash. And cash is still king n some kinds of real estate purchases, pushing out those buyers who have to work with lenders to take out a mortgage.

As Bitcoin continues to make inroads into the world of real estate, should investors get on the bandwagon? The answer depends on a lot of considerations. If you’re a Bitcoin enthusiast who wants to help promote its use, there’s a growing list of sellers willing to meet you halfway.

How Does Bitcoin Work?

Experts point out that sellers willing to tae Bitcoin for property – or any other high-end purchase – may want to consider immediately rolling those Bitcoins over into the purchase of some other tangible thing, such as another property or other substantial item. That ensures some protection against a Bitcoin crash and burn that leaves you holding a virtual wallet full of nearly useless virtual money.

If a property you want can only be had by Bitcoin, it’s relatively easy to get some. Bitcoins can still be “mined” – produced using the complex algorithms that set the number of Bitcoin circulating. If you don’t have the patience, computer power or expertise to mine Bitcoins simply engage or sell something for Bitcoin or pull out your real wallet and buy some Bitcoins from an exchange.

Bitcoins are then added to your online wallet and then transferred to the seller’s account when the deal is done. Fees for Bitcoin transactions typically run much lower than those charged by banks and other institutions.

What happens to your Bitcoin stash come tax time? The IRS and other authorities continue to grapple with how to classify them, but for now they’re being treated as property, not as assets. That’s another consideration in large volume Bitcoin sales.

Should you buy real estate with Bitcoins? Well, maybe. The cybercurrency’s road to complete acceptance in the financial world is still a rocky one. But as more and more sellers opt for Bitcoin purchases, digital money has already altered the way real estate business is done.  (Top image: Flickr/btckeychain)

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The Stimulus Fades, But Interest Rates Stay Low

Successful Investors Use Their Heads

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The Stimulus Fades, But Interest Rates Stay Low

AMA6-22-14The ongoing draw down of the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing plan is in full swing, with another $10 billion slashed from the buyout budget every couple of months. According to predictions, that should cause interest rates to jump. But despite the fading of the Fed’s artificial manipulation, those rates are hovering close to the historically low levels of a few years ago. And that may be good news for US consumers.

Interest rates for the typical 30-year fixed rate home mortgage of the kind Jason Hartman recommends to income property investors are still hovering below 4.5 percent. That’s maybe not quite as low as those historic rates of a couple of years ago. But industry watchers had predicted a much bigger jump following Fed’s decision to scale back the stimulus.

And scale back it has. Qualitative Easing 2, its plan to boost the economy by buying up billions of dollars worth of mortgage backed securities, was intended to push banks to keep rates low, thereby encouraging people to take out loans, which they’d then use to buy things, in a chain reaction that was supposed to benefit not just the struggling housing market but also the economy as a whole.

Though critics worried that the stimulus was really only benefiting the banking industry, its impact was clear: rates stayed low and big ticket purchasing, primarily housing, went up. And that’s why news of its draw-down sent jitters through the financial world.

The Fed is now on its third round of scaling back, paring another $10 billion off its budget every time – a move that triggered speculation that rats would bounce up as natural market forces took over. But halfway through 2014, that still hasn’t happened.

According to a recent report from Interest.com, the reason for the continued low rates has little to do with the Federal Reserve, and much more to do with a dip in the numbers of people applying for mortgages or refinancing plans.

New rules put in place at the start of the year make it harder to qualify for most kinds of loans, and fewer homeowners are opting to refinance than a few years ago, when the housing market was rebounding after its historic collapse. But as the year progresses, lenders are easing up on credit score requirements and actively courting buyers with faster turn around times and quicker approvals

The reasons behind today’s low interest rates are complex, and that picture is subject to change. But for now, those expectation-defying rates are creating new opportunities for smart investors to begin building wealth.  (Top image: Flickr/KevFowler)

Source:

Sante, Mike. “Interest Rates Fall to 2014 Lows Despite the Fed.” Interst.com Mortgages. Interest.com 4 Jun 2014. Accessed 21 Jun 2014.

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5 Investing Mistakes That Cost You Money

Successful Investors Use Their Heads

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Successful Investors Use Their Heads

AMA6-14-14It’s the stuff of happy endings everywhere: a gut feeling a tug at the heart or an intuition opens doors to just the right thing. That can be true in money matters, too – but financial experts say that the best investing outcomes are those driven by cool, collected logic: objective, not subjective, thinking.

Subjective decision-making is the kind that’s ruled by feelings rather than facts and figures. And there’s a place for that in many an investing endeavor, particularly real estate. When you’re choosing a place to make your home for at least a few years, your feelings can – and maybe should – play a role. If price and other “objective” considerations are equal, choosing a house that reminds you of your childhood home may make sense.

But when it comes to investment properties bought with the intent to generate income, decision making, has to be objective. The prettiest property in town doesn’t mean much if it costs too much and can’t generate income from rents. Investors need to consider cold hard facts and figures – a process that Jason Hartman sums us as Three Dimensional Real Estate Investing: price, financing and cash flow.

Those three dimensions allow an investor to take a clear look at the key parameters that indicate investing success. And they also reveal the ways emotions can derail the process:

Emotions can enter into the prices of buying a property. It’s easy to jump at a property just because it looks like a bargain, or sellers say it won’t last long. Those kinds of feelings can make price the sole determining factor of whether a property makes sense. But the objective investor also considers:

Financing an investment can get derailed by impulses and personal interactions too. Again, emotions ranging from comfort (there’s an easy way to handle the process with friendly lenders) to fear and aversion can overrule more important factors such as what terms and rates work best for individual investing goals. Investors making impulsive decisions can end up paying more or getting less.

Not much else matters if the property doesn’t produce the desired income, or cash flow. Calculating the Rent to Value ratio and other factors gives a clear picture of the cash flow potential of a given property – and those figures need to guide decisions.

In other aspects of investing, too, the head has to prevail over the heart. Choosing advisers not for expertise, but for personality, or skimping on learning about the investing process because it’s boring, won’t get an investor very far on the road to building wealth.

How to keep decisions objective – and put those pesky feelings in their place? The key, say life coaches and financial experts, lies in mindfulness: pay attention to how you’re feeling and what seems to be pulling you to or away from a given option, Have clear goals, too, and know what steps you need to take to achieve them – a way to keep the head, not the heart, firmly in control of your investing success.  (Top image:Flickr/KevFowler)

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The US: The Last Superpower Standing?

5 Investing Mistakes That Cost You Money

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The US: The Last Superpower Standing?

AMA6-18-14A slumping economy, a devalued dollar and accusations of spying at home and abroad: for these

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and a host of other reasons, the US has taken a few pratfalls on the world stage in recent years.

But as a newly updated article from The Futurist argues, those troubles don’t change the fact that by a number of key benchmarks, the US is still the world’s only superpower. And that’s good news for investors and entrepreneurs.

What makes a superpower anyway? The term crept into public awareness during the Cold War, when the US and Soviet Union were vying for world supremacy in terms of military reach, innovation, economic strength and cultural clout, among other factors. The US won many of these, especially the cultural clout thing. And, as The Futurist points out, it’s likely to keep on winning – at least in the ways that really matter.

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the major contenders for superpower status are China and India, and China leads. It ‘s a large country with a fast growing economy and masses of investments abroad. But by the other standards – military might and cultural reach – it, like other contenders, falls far behind.

Although China spends extensively on its military, at this point no country other than the US has the means to conduct multiple wars with such as small percentage of the country’s GDP. The US military is able to conduct its own operations, engage in cooperative maneuvers with other countries and even step up for peacetime crises at home and abroad. China’s military, for example, has neither that kind of reach nor that flexibility.

The dollar may have taken a beating in recent months in the world markets, but it’s still the most sought after currency in the world, universally recognized and traded on legitimate and black markets around the world. The dollar is so entrenched as the global go-to currency that it would take years for the yuan or rupee to achieve the same kind of reach and influence.

But it’s on the cultural front that America’s superpower status is assured. American brands like McDonalds and Nike are recognized and sought after everywhere in the world. To the dismay of local culture aficionados, American film, television and music have global reach. More than that, the US is the incubator for significant scientific research – and its educational institutions draw students from everywhere in the world, who use it as a springboard for making changes in their home countries. Even the most prestigious universities in China, for example, have little or no recognition outside the country.

As part of a global economy, the US certainly isn’t immune to the ups and downs o he marketplace. But as the saying goes, reports of its demise are greatly exaggerated. That’s why US real estate is still the best option for building wealth that lasts – as Jason Hartman always says. (Top image:Flickr/PhilRoeder)

Source:
“Why the US Will Still Be The Only Superpower in 2030, v.2.0” The Futurist. Sungularity2050.com. 6Jun 2008, updated 2014, accessed 18 June 2014

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5 Investing Mistakes That Cost You Money

Data Theft Crosses All Borders

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5 Investing Mistakes That Cost You Money

AMA6-12-14Investing is supposed to make you money, not make you lose it. But it’s easy to fall into a few traps that can cause exactly that – whether you’re new to investing or have been around the block a few times. Regardless of how you’re investing, financial professionals point to five common mistakes that can derail investing success:

Not Establishing Clear Goals
Although of course your goal as an investor is to gain more money, it helps to be much more specific than that. How much money do you want to acquire – and in what kind of time frame? What resources do you have to make that possible? Asking questions like this can create a clear picture of the results you want. Then,

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break that goal down into smaller steps.

Leading With the Heart, Not the Head
While successful investors often credit a “gut” feeling for a successful investing decision, subjective investing – prompted by emotion, not logic – can lead to trouble. Being objective about the pros and cons of an opportunity and making decisions based on logic leads to better results than impulse buying and sentimental attachments to things that just don’t yield.

Failing to Diversify
It’s been said again and again: putting all your investing eggs in one basket means that the basket may fall apart. Spreading investments over a variety of markets and holdings offers protection against a failure in any one aspect of the process and offers opportunities to recover from a localized disaster.

Not Factoring in Costs
In some ways, the old adage is true: you do have to spend some money to make money. But all too often eager investors forget that fact. Fees paid to advisors and other investment professionals, closing costs and down payments on real estate, and a host of other costs have to be taken care of up front. Failing to allow for those can stop an investing effort before it even begins.

Trying to Get Rich Quick
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is – and investors who want quick money are apt to get burned by a variety of scams, strategies and schemes that aren’t sustainable for the long haul. Successful investing often is a waiting game, with returns that come over time.

Investing success depends on getting educated about investing, doing your homework and staying in charge of he process, as Jason Hartman recommends. And that’s the way to avoid those classic investing blunders, too. (Top image:Flickr/marchand)

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Data Theft Crosses All Borders

Gen Y: Changing the Economic Game

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Gen Y: Changing the Economic Game

AMA6-11-14Move over, baby boomers. There’s a batch of new kids in town, and their numbers have knocked you out of first place as the biggest age cohort in the country. We’re talking about the millennials, or Generation Y, whose buying patterns and lifestyle choices are changing the face of the economy in ways large and small.

According to recent Department of Labor statistics, the largest age group in the country now has an average age of just 23. That generation, like the baby boomers born between the end of World War II and 1960, includes people just finishing college to young adults in their mid-thirties. And like the baby boomers, which shaped the cultural and economic landscape for so many years, this new group is making an impact in virtually every area of the economy.

Think of Gen Y as the connected generation. Coming of age in a digital world that puts everything within reach 24/7, this group is adept at testing, Skyping, Facebooking, Instagramming and a host of other web based social connections. In person connectivity? Not so much.

That makes these young people as a general group a challenge for traditional employers, who bemoan their lack of a mainstream work ethic and overall social skills. They’re highly mobile, with little attachment to a job long–term. They’ve grown up in a world where employment isn’t consistent and careers don’t last, and many of them have struggled to find a job related to what they learned in college.

Surveys of social patterns show that this generation is commitment shy in many ways. Burdened with student debt from years in college and struggling to find work, many live at home or with friends, unwilling or unable to make the big-ticket purchases such as a house or car that used to signal “adulthood.”

They tend to marry later, too, and postpone or skip starting families. This generation is more likely than any other to say they plan to have just one child or remain childless – and when they do leave home, they’re more likely to rent rather than buy a home.

Idealism and a wish to change the world is also a key characteristic of this group – and many of them prefer entrepreneurship or working in ways that improve conditions for people and the world to the traditional goals of capitalism.

Granted, that picture of the new millennials has some very broad strokes. But they offer a few insights into the way this new majority views – and changes – the world. It’s a different take on the old American Dream – and as Jason Hartman says, that mans new opportunities for alert investors. (Top image:Flickr/Ju-x)

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Data Theft Crosses All Borders

Is A College Degree Worth The Cost?

The American Monetary Association Team

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