6.30.2015

Cisco buys OpenDNS



Cisco buys a DNS provider to protect you in the cloud

Excerpt:


When you think of internet security from Cisco, you probably imagine firewalls and routers (usually) stopping hackers and malware from hitting your network. You're going to have to expand that definition very shortly, though. Cisco has snapped up OpenDNS, whose domain name services you might have used to dodge regional restrictions or improve on your internet provider's less-than-stellar connection. The networking giant isn't making the acquisition for any of those reasons, though. Instead, it's all about boosting Cisco's cloud security -- the goal is to defend against attacks on your corporate network wherever you happen to be, and to predict threats before they strike. You might not get much first-hand experience with the fruits of this merger, but things will likely kick into high gear when the purchase closes later in 2015. And in case you're wondering: no, OpenDNS' existing services aren't going away. They'll continue to run as-is (and importantly, expand) under the deal, so you won't have to scrounge around for an alternative.
Comment: Previous OpenDNS posts . Official announcement

You too can throw money at Greece!



Greek debt crisis: Crowdsourcing campaign 'is not a joke'

Excerpt:

Twenty-nine-year-old Thom Feeney has set up a crowdsourcing page asking people to "chip in a few Euro then we can get Greece sorted and hopefully get them back on track soon".
Comment: Greek Bailout Fund

6.29.2015

The Greek Referendum



Greek Debt Crisis: Europe, Athens Race to Sway Greeks in Bailout Referendum

Excerpt:

Greeks now face an intense referendum campaign against the backdrop of an economy going into deep freeze. Over the coming days, the debate about the history-making consequences of voting “yes” or “no” is likely to polarize their crisis-bruised society. In the balance are the future of the nation and Europe’s 16-year experiment with a common currency.
Comment: The choice is less real money (austerity with the Euro) or an abundance of fake money (the Greek drachma). Image capture from The Financial Times


My password logbook


  • I kept a 17 year log of passwords
  • Since June 17th, 1998
  • Before our password standards changed, I had such exciting passwords as "mudejar", "smidgen", "samshu" and "opaque", "dilbert", "tractor", "wooden", "discover", and "Saturn97"
  • I shredded it on June 22nd of this year

Kicking the Can: “If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has.”



Greece: without compromise a tragedy awaits
Excerpt:

As noted more fully here the first instinct is for creditors and debtors alike to bury their heads in the sand and talk rather than act…effectively to kick the debt can down the road as they did over much of the last few years helped more recently by rate cuts and the introduction of QE.
Comment:Image is snapped from the article.

Greece in the Caribbean



Puerto Rico facing historic default on its $72 billion debt
Excerpt:


Puerto Rico is just days away from a historic economic collapse after the commonwealth's governor said the island cannot pay its $72 billion in debts. Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, who took office two years ago, said in a statement Monday that the government's attempts to slash expenditures and restructure its debt have failed. He said an analysis by former World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials "for the first time acknowledges the true extent of the problem." With several massive payments looming in the coming weeks, Padilla scheduled a media conference for 5 p.m. Monday to address the situation. Over the weekend, Padilla told The New York Times that the government's finances were "in a death spiral" and that "the debt is not payable." The inability of the U.S. territory to repay its debt, combined with the financial crisis in Greece, would have far-reaching implications for financial markets and unsuspecting American investors. Morningstar, an investment research firm based in Chicago, estimated in 2013 that as much as 80% of Puerto Rico's debt has found its way into muni-bond funds, and 180 mutual funds in the United States and elsewhere have at least 5% of their portfolios in Puerto Rican bonds. Puerto Rico, which became a territory of the United States in 1898 after a war with Spain, cannot legally file for bankruptcy, as American cities like Detroit have done when faced with similar fiscal crises. The island's constitution, however, states that Puerto Rico must make its debt payments before it pays for any other government services, leaving the island in a fiscal limbo if it cannot make its payments.
Comment: Image snap from the Economist

6.28.2015

Germany awaits GREXIT






Greece Orders Banks Closed, Imposes Capital Controls to Stem Deposit Flight

Excerpt:

In Germany, which is Greece’s biggest creditor, Sunday newspapers led with headlines such as “Game Over?” and the word “Exit” in ancient Greek. Leading politicians who had called for leniency with Athens in the past voiced fury, and many conservatives said it was high time for a Greek exit from the euro to be prepared.
Comment: Image capture from German news sites.

Personal Debt: Faces and Stories



Photographer Brittany Powell asked people to pose at home and explain their levels of debt
thedebtproject.net
gofundme.com/thedebtproject

Comment: Image snap is from official page (2nd link). Use the first link to read the stories

6.26.2015

Greece: staring down the barrel of a gun



Checkmate: Is this Greece’s final, final deadline?
Excerpt:

After nearly six years of bailouts and brinkmanship, Greece and its creditors are staring down the barrel of a gun Friday as they face a weekend deadline to seal a reforms-for-rescue deal -- or a default by Greece. In what analysts and markets see as the final deadline, Greece has to reach a deal with creditors Saturday or it will fail to make a crucial debt payment due to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), next week on Tuesday.
Comment: Image source.  Advice ... let 'em go ....

6.25.2015

SCOTUScare ... and it's still NOT Affordable



The 7 Best Lines from Justice Scalia’s Blistering Obamacare Dissent

Excerpt:

"The Act that Congress passed makes tax credits available only on an “Exchange established by the State.” This Court, however, concludes that this limitation would prevent the rest of the Act from working as well as hoped. So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”
Obamacare still faces these big challenges

Excerpt:


As many enrollees are discovering, the “Affordable” Care Act is somewhat misnamed. Healthcare costs continue to rise faster than wages or overall inflation, putting a financial burden even on people who have healthcare. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund found that 23% of Americans who have healthcare coverage are “underinsured,” meaning their out-of-pocket spending on healthcare is more than 10% of their income in a given year. Deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs have been rising because consumers and businesses have been opting for plans with lower premiums—which usually require the patient to bear more of the cost before 100% coverage kicks in. The irony is that insurance has gotten more affordable, but actual healthcare hasn’t.
Comment: Image source ... modified with. In our post-modern world words no longer convey absolutes

Updated:

6.24.2015

My Retirement was Announced Today


Jim will be retiring on July 3rd after 22 years with Wells Fargo. While I am excited for Jim that he is able to move on to the next chapter in his life, I will truly miss having him on my team. Jim’s greatest quality is caring about people and he shows that to everyone he meets. Please join me in congratulating Jim on his retirement.

Thank you!

Tami K.

Technology Manager Release Management
Comment: 7 more days! Image Source

6.23.2015

Socialist governments: "They always run out of other people's money"



So what if Greece leaves the European Union?
Excerpt:

Now come Greeks bearing the gift of confirmation that Margaret Thatcher was right about socialist governments: "They always run out of other people's money."

... In January, Greek voters gave power to the left-wing Syriza party, one third of which, the Economist reports, consists of "Maoists, Marxists and supporters of Che Guevara." Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, 40, a retired student radical, immediately denounced a European Union declaration criticizing Russia's dismemberment of Ukraine. He chose only one cabinet member with prior government experience — a former leader of Greece's Stalinist Communist Party. Tsipras's minister for culture and education says Greek education"should not be governed by the principle of excellence . . . it is a warped ambition." Practicing what he preaches, he proposes abolishing university entrance exams. Voters chose Syriza because it promised to reverse reforms, particularly of pensions and labor laws, demanded by creditors, and to resist new demands for rationality. Tsipras immediately vowed to rehire 12,000 government employees. His shrillness increasing as his options contract, he says the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are trying to "humiliate" Greece. How could one humiliate a nation that chooses governments committed to Rumpelstiltskin economics, the belief that the straw of government largesse can be spun into the gold of national wealth? Tsipras's approach to mollifying those who hold his nation's fate in their hands is to say they must respect his "mandate" to resist them. He thinks Greek voters, by making delusional promises to themselves, obligate other European taxpayers to fund them. Tsipras, who says the creditors are "pillaging" Greece, is trying to pillage his local governments, which are resisting his extralegal demands that they send him their cash reserves.
Comment: Image capture from www.syriza.gr. The Wiki article on Tsipras is revealing: an atheist. "[his] youngest son's middle name is Ernesto, a tribute to Che Guevara."

Greece: How Big is Their Economy?



Psst! Here's the secret about Greek debt drama

Excerpt:

The first thing to know about the Greece story is that it's not really about Greece. Not, at least, in the big financial picture, where the country's measly $242 billion economy is only a shade larger than Connecticut's, and where its debt, the equivalent of $360 billion, would be a rounding error of the nearly $18 trillion in U.S. obligations. Why Greece and its likely debt default and possible exit from the euro zone matters is as a symbol—of how far the global community will go towards rescuing Greece from its debts, and ultimately, perhaps, for whether similarly debt-laden weak sisters in the euro zone should simply leave the union, go back to their original currencies, and inflate their way out of trouble.

... Default is the simplest way out of the crisis from a financial standpoint, but the ramifications could be substantial. "If Greece were a company and it had creditors, there would be a default," Krosby said. "But it's not a company, it's a country, and even though as a country that's very small ... the fact of the matter is geopolitically it plays an important role."

... Never mind that the long-term prospects for the state to satisfy its creditors remain dubious, the markets are willing to buy into the extend-and-pretend scenario.

... "A failed outcome in Greece would also have negative implications for the rest of the euro area," Credit Suisse added. "For us, the risk of contagion would be more prevalent through the banking system than through sovereign debt. But it's important to be humble: there may be unanticipated or underappreciated channels of contagion and risk that could prove surprisingly powerful." Consider, then, the ensuing period of deals and nondeals, news of breakdowns and rumors of break-ups, to be more of the financial kabuki theater that has permeated the euro debt crisis.
Comment: Per Wiki the estimated 2015 GDP is $ 294 Billion. Image source (snap from article)

6.22.2015

Greece debt crisis: Do I care?



Greece debt crisis: Why should I care?

Greece makes up just 2% of the eurozone economy, so stay or go, why care? Here are five reasons.:



  1. 'Grexit' could be disastrous for Greece
  2. Whatever the outcome, it will have a knock-on effect in other countries
  3. The US is worried
  4. If Greece goes, others could follow
  5. The global economy won't like it
Comment: Image source. My take:
  • First of all it looks like some sort of deal may be struck this week. I'm still skeptical although the stock market is responding today as if the deal is solid. I personally expect more broken promises (Greece) and more stuggles. 
  • About disastrous for Greece? Yup! If the Greek populi is so unconcerned well then it is there problem.
  • About the US being worried. The context there is about Greece running into the arms of Putin's Bear. Well that would be stupid! 
  • The slo-mo train-wreck interests me because it, in my mind, foreshadows the US debt crisis that I may still be alive to witness. But I am concerned for my children and the country I love. There are lessons to be learned from this mess!



It's in our DNA!


Obama uses 'n-word' in interview about US race relations

Excerpt:

Mr Obama acknowledged that attitudes about race in the US have improved since his childhood, but he said that America's history of enslaving black people "casts a long shadow and that's still part of our DNA that's passed on".
Romans 3:10-18:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;

there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 

All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.”

“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Comment: We are sinners and need redemption! Christ is the only answer! Image source

6.19.2015

Student Loans a "Ball and Chain" for Parents Too!



Co-signing a student loan? You may never be able to free yourself

Excerpt:

Parents and grandparents who signed on to their kids’ private student loans are having trouble getting out of them, even when their student is successfully paying back the debt, a new report suggests. About 90% of co-signers who applied to be released from a private loan were rejected, according to a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau review of more than 3,100 complaints about private student loans. Often student borrowers can’t qualify for a private loan without a co-signer and even if they do, a more credit-worthy co-signer could give them access to a lower interest rate. “Parents and grandparents put their financial futures on the line by co-signing private student loans to help family members achieve the dream of higher education,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray
Comment: Image source. We know parents who are co-signers with their children's loans and are unable to retire.

Greece's Circular Replayment Situation



Greek debt: Fears grow over Greek banks' health
Excerpt:


... the European Commission, the IMF and the ECB are unwilling to unlock bailout funds until Greece agrees to reforms. They want Greece to implement a series of economic changes in areas such as pensions, VAT and on the budget surplus before releasing €7.2bn of funds, which have been delayed since February.
Comment: Image capture from article. An analogy to this at a familial level would be parent to child: "your allowance will stop if you don't clean up your room"

FCA & GM?




Six reasons show Fiat Chrysler making play for GM

Excerpt:

The companies are taking it seriously. GM and FCA have hired financial advisers to evaluate a potential deal, according to a report from Reuters on Wednesday. GM has hired Goldman Sachs, and FCA has hired UBS, according to the report.
My take on what it could look like:



6.18.2015

The Greek Contagion - Numbers and Charts



Greece’s Debt Due: What Greece Owes When

Greece says deal on debt crisis unlikely at Thursday talks
Excerpt:


The Bank of Greece also warned that the country's economic slowdown would accelerate without a deal. "Failure to reach an agreement would... mark the beginning of a painful course that would lead initially to a Greek default and ultimately to the country's exit from the euro area and, most likely, from the European Union," it said in a report. The bank added that about €30bn was withdrawn from Greek bank deposits between October and April.
Comments: The first link, from the WSJ, has the numbers and charts.  Image source. Observations:




6.14.2015

Impasse: "Athens insists it will never give in to demands for more pension and wage cuts"



Greece and creditors fail in 'last attempt' to reach deal

Excerpt:

European Union officials blamed the collapse on Athens, saying it had failed to offer anything new to secure the funding it needs to repay 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) to the International Monetary Fund by the end of this month. Greece retorted it was still ready to talk, but that EU and IMF officials had said they were not authorized to negotiate further. Athens insists it will never give in to demands for more pension and wage cuts. "This is very disappointing and sad. It was a last attempt to bridge our differences but the gap is too large. One can discuss a gap, but this is an ocean," said a person who was close to the talks. Both sides acknowledged the talks had lasted less than an hour, although even here accounts differed: Greece put the length at 45 minutes, EU officials at half an hour. Following what it called this "last attempt" at a solution, the EU's executive Commission said euro zone finance ministers would now tackle the issue when they meet on Thursday. With no technical deal apparently possible, the ministers are likely to have to make difficult political decisions on Greece's membership of the currency bloc. Failure to keep Greece in the euro, after years of arduous negotiations and two emergency bailouts totaling 240 billion euros, would send it lurching into the unknown and mark a historic blow to the EU's most ambitious project.
Comment: Getting interesting.

Greece: A lesson in socialist failure



Greece has become an object lesson in how not to run an economy
Excerpt:

The first Greek problem is that a huge percentage of its able-bodied population is not working and simply collecting state pensions. It goes without saying that Greece’s economy is in recession, and its official unemployment rate is 26.6%, something the U.S., for example, hasn’t seen since the Great Depression. But fully four fifths of Greece’s budget goes to pensions and state wages, and 10 percent of the nation’s entire economic output comprises pensions alone.

... The second problem is that Greek taxes are sky-high, killing incentives for hard work, enterprise, and industry. It seems likely that so few people are bothering to work because so much of their income is sacrificed to other people’s pensions and government wages. The IMF’s Rice pointed out that "[t]he policy of increasing already-high rates on a low tax base again is not sustainable. It is critical to significantly broaden the tax base." Rice did not point out that the tax base is broadened only by more people working in the private sector, which itself can be accomplished only by lowering the tax rates.
Comment: Image source and license information. See also: Greece struggles to address its tax evasion problem

The new government of Greece, led by Alexis Tsipras, has promised to tackle tax evasion. It hopes this strategy will yield €3bn ($3.4bn) in the coming months in order to cover part of the cost of its €12bn Thessaloniki anti-austerity programme. This would entail various measures – a gradual increase in the minimum wage to reach €750, an extra month’s income for pensioners receiving less than €700 a month, and various welfare benefits – to help the most vulnerable members of the community. “If this government thinks it can change the system in a few weeks it is underestimating how complicated it is to collect tax in Greece,” says Haris Theoharis, narrowly elected to parliament for the centrist To Potami party. Between January 2013 and June 2014 he was secretary general for public revenue, a job imposed on the then conservative New Democracy government by the country’s creditors, increasingly irritated by slow progress against fraud and tax dodging. “In Greece more than two-thirds of the population – private- and public-sector employees – pay tax in the normal way, because it is deducted at source,” Theoharis explains. “The problem is that it’s still too easy for contractors, people in the professions and some big companies not to declare all or part of their earnings.” He claims the state misses out on between €10bn and €20bn in revenue. Direct and indirect taxation should bring in an average of €50bn a year.

The Magna Carta: England's Greatest Export




Magna Carta: Eight Centuries of Liberty

Excerpt:

Eight hundred years ago [today], on a reedy stretch of riverbank in southern England, the most important bargain in the history of the human race was struck. I realize that’s a big claim, but in this case, only superlatives will do.

As Lord Denning, the most celebrated modern British jurist put it, Magna Carta was “the greatest constitutional document of all time, the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”

It was at Runnymede, on June 15, 1215, that the idea of the law standing above the government first took contractual form. King John accepted that he would no longer get to make the rules up as he went along.

From that acceptance flowed, ultimately, all the rights and freedoms that we now take for granted: uncensored newspapers, security of property, equality before the law, habeas corpus, regular elections, sanctity of contract, jury trials.

Magna Carta is Latin for “Great Charter.” It was so named not because the men who drafted it foresaw its epochal power but because it was long. Yet, almost immediately, the document began to take on a political significance that justified the adjective in every sense. The bishops and barons who had brought King John to the negotiating table understood that rights required an enforcement mechanism. The potency of a charter is not in its parchment but in the authority of its interpretation.

The constitution of the U.S.S.R., to pluck an example more or less at random, promised all sorts of entitlements: free speech, free worship, free association. But as Soviet citizens learned, paper rights are worthless in the absence of mechanisms to hold rulers to account. Magna Carta instituted a form of conciliar rule that was to develop directly into the Parliament that meets at Westminster today. As the great Victorian historian William Stubbs put it, “the whole constitutional history of England is little more than a commentary on Magna Carta.”
Comment: Image sources: Wiki. Wiki article Text

See also: Magna Carta Celebrations Reignite Legacy Debate - As the U.K. prepares to mark the 800th anniversary of the ‘great charter,’ some question the importance of the document

6.13.2015

Finally enacted: New Medicare Cards Will Not Display Social Security Numbers




New Medicare Cards Will Not Display Social Security Numbers

Excerpt:

A new Medicare card is coming, one that will no longer display a cardholder’s Social Security number, or SSN. To protect seniors from identity theft, President Obama recently signed a bill that requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue new Medicare cards that don’t display, code, or embed SSNs. Medicare advises senior citizens to carry their cards at all times, but doing so makes them more vulnerable to identity theft. If a wallet or purse is lost or stolen, identity thieves have access to an SSN. For more than a decade, we and other Federal agencies have recommended taking SSNs off of Medicare cards. However, the amount of money and effort this would take has prevented it—so the new law includes funding and instructions for HHS to consult with the Social Security Administration to "establish cost‑effective procedures” to modernize Medicare cards. The bill gives HHS four years to issue modernized cards to new beneficiaries, and four more years to issue the new cards to existing beneficiaries.
Comment: But up to 8 years to implement! The bill ... see section 501

6.12.2015

The Greek "Zombie" State



Greece, a Financial Zombie State

Excerpt:

Greece and the other countries in the eurozone are once again at an impasse days ahead of a crucial deadline. If the two sides do not reach an agreement on how to extend a 240 billion euro ($270 billion) loan program beyond June 30, Greece will most likely default on its debts and would probably be forced to abandon the euro. ... Whether Greece will have to go on in this zombie financial condition will also depend on the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, both of which have lent money to Greece. I.M.F. officials have been privately pressing the eurozone for debt relief for Greece, but the fund’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, should do more to convince European leaders that the country cannot succeed unless there are major changes to the loan program. The president of the E.C.B., Mario Draghi, recently said “growth with social fairness and fiscal sustainability” had to be a part of any deal between the eurozone and Greece. More than five years have passed since European officials reached the first loan agreement with Greece. Yet instead of moving toward recovery, the country has been trapped in an economic calamity with no end in sight.
Comment: Image source  Night of the Living Dead. Instead of brains, Greece wants bailouts. Some nice Zombie sound effects

Tsipras’s brinkmanship



EU Prepares for Worst as Greece Drives Finances to Brink

Excerpt:

European officials are preparing for the worst as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s brinkmanship pushes Greece’s finances to the limit. Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Tsipras to accept the framework for financial aid as the German public turns against supporting Greece and euro-area officials demanded a proposal for stabilizing the country’s debt by the end of Friday. The International Monetary Fund team left Brussels earlier this week, despairing of Tsipras’s tactics. In response, Greece ruled out cutting pensions and demanded a debt restructuring. Bank stocks plunged. “People are really fed up with this,” UniCredit SpA Chief Global Economist Erik Nielsen said in a television interview. “They’ve never seen anything so completely ridiculous, frankly speaking, from a debtor country.”
Comment: To use a Poker analogy, Alexis Tsipras has a "handful of nothing"

6.11.2015

On “nonfunctional slack fill", “weight-out", and "de-sheeting"


How Do Companies Quietly Raise Prices?
Excerpt:


Earlier this year, McCormick reduced the amount of pepper in its signature red-and-white aluminum tins. What once had eight ounces of pepper now has six. A medium container with four ounces has only three, and a two-ounce tin contains 1.5 ounces.
Comment: Image source. One of Kathee's stock picks

The Intolerance of Tolerance



'He did nothing wrong': Florida principal ousted after defending Texas cop
Excerpt:

A Florida high school principal, who defended the Texas police officer at the center of that infamous pool melee, has become the latest victim of radical speech police hell-bent on trying to silence public discourse. Alberto Iber lost his job as the principal at North Miami Senior High School after he wrote a comment about the McKinney, Texas incident on the Miami Herald’s website. “He did nothing wrong,” Iber wrote. “He was afraid for his life. I commend him for his actions.” Three sentences. Sixteen words. Sixty-two characters. Miami-Dade County Public Schools released a statement on June 10 announcing that Mr. Iber had been removed from his position at the high school and reassigned to an administrative position. The district said they require their employees to conduct themselves “in a manner that represents the school district’s core values.”
Comment: The old "intolence of tolerance". Image source. "1984-Big-Brother" by Frederic Guimont ; Original uploader was ChemicalBit at it.wikipedia - 1984comic.com (former Art Libre licence stated here) ; Transferred from it.wikipedia. Licensed under FAL via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1984-Big-Brother.jpg#/media/File:1984-Big-Brother.jpg

Speaking today

Comments: A "lunchinar".

6.10.2015

Kρίση σύλλογος



Greece Is the Crisis Club’s Odd Man Out

Excerpt:


Spain, Greece, Portugal and Ireland all entered the crisis with huge current account deficits—the balance on all exports, imports and income between a country and its partners. Such deficits are typically corrected via currency devaluation, which boosts exports and curbs imports. But membership in the euro makes devaluation impossible. Instead, prices and wages must decline, a painful process called “internal devaluation.”
Comment: Kρίση σύλλογος = Crisis Club. Image source

6.09.2015

The Not-So-Proletariat Life of El Maximo Lider



The Secret Life of Fidel Castro - A former security agent shows the leader lived large while preaching revolutionary sacrifice.

Excerpt:

Sánchez witnessed firsthand Castro’s indifference to Cuban poverty. The comandante gave interminable speeches calling for revolutionary sacrifice. But he lived large, with a private island, a yacht, some 20 homes across the island, a personal chef, a full-time doctor, and a carefully selected and prepared diet. When a Canadian company offered to build a modern sports-facility for the nation, Castro used the donation for a private basketball court. Wherever he traveled in the world, his bed was dismantled and shipped ahead to ensure the comfort he demanded.
Comment: Image source = Flickr. El Maximo Lider = The "Maximum Leader"

6.07.2015

Above "the Venmo Line"



Money Isn’t Free, but Moving It Is Now Cheaper - Payment startups disrupt traditional cash-transfer firms by offering nearly instantaneous, zero-cost services

Excerpt:

Take Venmo, for example. Venmo is the Snapchat of money in that it’s wildly popular with 20-somethings and on college campuses, and yet it is so unlikely to be used by people older than 30 that internally, the company calls that age the “Venmo line.” Venmo’s mobile app makes it easy to pay friends for just about anything, usually things like rent or your portion of last night’s bender. In 2014, the company handled $2.4 billion in transactions, and it is growing so quickly that it did half that amount of business in the first quarter of 2015 alone.

The cost of using Venmo is zero. Early in the company’s history, this business plan, or lack of it, nearly killed the startup, but an acquisition by payments company Braintree (which was later purchased by behemoth PayPal) saved it. Like countless other newfangled payment services, including competitors Square Cash, Google Pay and even payments in Facebook Messenger, the reason Venmo can charge nothing is that payments within its network are just data bits moving around in a database somewhere, rather than dollars being moved between bank accounts.
Comment: See also: Quartz coins “the Venmo Line”: Reminding us that the under-30 crowd lives in a totally different digital world, Read what happens when a bunch of over-30s find out how Millennials handle their money, Venmo
Quartz’s editorial team stumbled upon a generational divide earlier today, describing the phenomenon “the Venmo line.” One one side of the line are millennials and their elders who value privacy and view digital services that threaten it with suspicion. On the other side are youthful, digital natives who view public sharing as foundational an element of their lives as breathing. Judging by Quartz’s unscientific data, this line appears to fall right around 30 years old
Comment: I've used Paypal and money transfer with both Wells Fargo and Capital One 360. The image above is from Logan's Run, where when one reaches the age of 30, they are vaporized. I was 27 when it came out in 1976

Bedrock Investing Principles



Five Bedrock Principles for Investors

The List:

  1. Diversification is how you limit the risk of losses in an uncertain world.
  2. Emotions: You are your own worst enemy. (You can be the best stock picker in the world, capable of finding tomorrow’s winning businesses before anyone else. But if you panic and sell during the next bear market, none of it will matter.)
  3. Volatility: There is a price to pay: The price of admission to earn high long-term returns in stocks is a ceaseless torrent of unpredictable outcomes, senseless volatility and unexpected downturns. ... The reason stocks offer superior long-term returns is precisely because we can’t forecast what they will do in the short run.
  4. Eschew High Fees: When in doubt, choose the investment with the lowest fee. As a group, investors’ profits always will equal the overall market’s returns minus all fees and expenses. Below-average fees, therefore, offer one of your best shots at earning above-average results.
  5. Time: Time is the most powerful force in investing. ...Wealth grows exponentially—a little at first, then slightly more, and then in a hurry for those who stick around the longest.
Comments: Image source. My own comments:

  • We started very late. I could blame circumstances but really the blame is upon me. 
  • Kathee are I are not stupid but we really muddle through some of this. We are very good earners and good at being frugal (see earlier article). But investing: Some knowledge and some dumb luck. 
  • We try to value invest with companies that we feel will make money long term. Examples: IBM, Wells Fargo, MMM, Apple. 
  • We do not use a wealth advisor. We did for several years. Paying a W.A. 1% fees seems like a waste to me. 
  • With regard to time and volatility: We don't have anything invested where we feel we would need to bail out if the market declined. We are in it for the long haul. 


America's Seismic Cultural Revolution




A massive, silent cultural revolution has changed America

Excerpt:

It happened without a Summer of Love, without Timothy Leary, without a groovy anthem or a shaggy new national look. In the past decade or so, there’s been a silent revolution in American culture, one at least as profound as the ’60s upheavals.

... Compared to just a few years ago, we have a completely different set of ideas about what constitutes acceptable behavior. As Caitlyn Jenner puts it in her new reality show, “I’m the new normal.”

We’ve hardly taken notice of it, because it happened in people’s minds instead of in the streets, happened in ordinary people instead of in the elites and the punditocracy.Consider America circa 2002: Not that different from today, seemingly. A time traveler who spent a few hours walking around your town then and now might have a difficult time filling a small notebook with observations about what’s changed. Maybe there are more Starbuckses. And what happened to Blockbuster Video? Yet support for gay marriages to be treated the same as straight ones went from 39% just nine years ago to 60% today, according to Gallup.

As recently as 2010, a clear majority opposed gay marriage. Today, a large majority support it. As for the broader issue of whether gay and lesbian relationships are even morally acceptable, only 40% said yes in 2001. Today that number stands at 63%.

... What caused all these changes? It’s hard to say. Older Americans are dying off. Popular culture not only deals with homosexuality approvingly, but has added more and more gay personalities to the mix.

... Americans are simply, broadly, more tolerant of others who are unlike them. As a general trend, that’s heartening. On the other hand, what comes along with this mass departure of moral judgment from public life? Let’s say we grant that it’s morally acceptable to smoke weed. Is it morally acceptable, then, to spark up a joint every day at lunch? Sure, as long as you’re not endangering others. It’s still not terribly wise, though.

... Increasingly, we don’t want to judge others for anything, even if what they’re doing is destructive. But is being non-judgmental the same as granting tacit approval, even support?
Comments: Image source of Easy Rider is Flickr. A good book on the kind of change we are seeing is The Intolerance of Tolerance

6.05.2015

Three Prongs of Wealth



Balance Your Financial Life With the Three Prongs of Wealth

Excerpt:

Having a budget is great, but it’s not the total package if your goal is to build your net worth. In the long run, there are three key areas that matter for improving your finances: maximizing your income, minimizing your expenses, and investing. As personal finance blog Thoughts of an Anonymous Lawyer points out, many of us tend to focus on just one of these categories. Usually, it’s minimizing our expenses, because that’s often the easiest one to do. You feel in control of your life when you can save money on your daily coffee. However, all three categories are necessary if you want to work towards financial independence.

... Of course, maximizing your income can be roughly translated to “Find a better job” or, in some cases, “Get your employer to pay you more.” Neither of which is easy. Not to mention, investing is something you can only do once you have money to invest. It’s tempting to think you’ll get to these once you have the time or the ability. However, even starting in small ways can help get you on the right track. Neglecting those areas, however, will make it a lot harder for you in the long run.
Comment:Simply:

  • You need to earn money
  • You need to save money
  • You need to invest money


Greece: Timeline of Debt Crisis



Greece crisis live: borrowing costs soar as Athens looks to Moscow - Greece will have to pay €1.6bn to the IMF and €1.5bn in pensions and wages by the end of the month

Comments:

  • Screen shot from article. Best to view in the article itself
  • Lesson: Delaying addressing debt magnifies the crisis downstream
  • Chinese proverb: Question: "When is the best time to plant a tree?" Answer "20 years ago!"
  • Same goes for debt. Whether it is personal debt, corporate debt or government debt. 
  • I personally think that GREXIT will happen, that it will be better for the EURO. A generation of Greeks will suffer from mistakes made today and a generation ago. 
Updated: Greece would suffer if it left eurozone. But would Europe?
Economist Holger Schmieding at Berenberg Bank in London predicts a period of "disorientation" while investors figure out what the impact will be. The first word of an impending departure would likely roil markets, especially in Europe. Stocks and the euro might fall. And borrowing costs for other eurozone governments with shaky public finances, such as Italy and Portugal, might rise, at least temporarily. Yet Schmieding foresees no serious long-term damage and dismisses talk of a comparison to Lehman's collapse. The risk for Europe as a whole, he says, "is very, very small — virtually zero."

6.03.2015

Bill Gross' Bloomberg Terminal to be in Smithsonian



'Bond king' Bill Gross donates old Bloomberg keyboard, Beanie Babies to Smithsonian

Excerpt:

The co-founder of Pacific Investment Management Co. also donated several other items from his trading desk -- a Monroe Trader bond calculator, two Beanie Babies (one red bull and one black bear) and a pair of fuzzy dice always set to lucky number 11. ... Gross' status in the financial world made his keyboard even more important, Liebhold said. He added that the addition of the dice and the Beanie Babies helps to humanize Gross' keyboard beyond its technological value. "I was really interested in the notion of Bill Gross as the individual," he said. "It really makes that moment where our visitors can really identify with it much more." Gross said he always arranged his dice and Beanie Babies a certain way at his desk and might be tempted to do so when he sees the exhibition. "I'll want to adjust the dice to 11 if they're not to 11," he said. "And make sure the bull and the bear are appropriately placed so that if I'm bearish on the market, the bear is a little more forward than the bull." The keyboard also has a signature Gross touch. At the top is a piece of white sticker tape with his old password on it.
Comment: Screen shot from article.

6.01.2015

Darrell Hammond Channels Colonel Sanders



SNL Alum Darrell Hammond Plays Colonel Sanders in New KFC Ads 

Excerpt:

In a series of KFC ads debuting on May 25, Hammond will “become” the beloved Kentucky Fried Chicken founder — who appeared in ads for the fried chicken company in the ’60s and ’70s — taking on his likeness right down to his signature white hair and black bow tie.

“Because [Col. Sanders] is no longer with us, we needed to find the greatest impersonator of our generation,” Kevin Hochman, CMO of KFC, tells PEOPLE. “Darrell has mastered the cadence, tone and mannerisms of other celebrated figures … so, who better to play one of America’s dearest icons than [him].”

The fast food chain even offered Hammond the role in a comedic spirit. “KFC asked Darrell to consider the role by sending him a fake letter from the Colonel’s fake attorney which stated that the Colonel had asked that Darrell play him if the time ever arose that the brand wanted to bring the Colonel back,” says Hochman.
Comment: He does it well! Image above is screen shot from YouTube video (below):

Mister Jimmy and "You Can't Always Get What You Want"



Stones lore: Jagger and Mr. Jimmy in Excelsior

Excerpt:

According to local legend, Jagger had gone to an Excelsior drugstore the day after the concert. While he was waiting to fill a prescription, Jimmy was ahead of him in line, ordering a cherry Coke, but the drug store had run out, so he had to settle for a regular Coke. At that point, Jimmy turned to Jagger and uttered the famous line: “You can’t always get what you want.” Years later, Jagger used that line as the title of a song, and it became one of the Stones’ greatest hits. Jagger put the drugstore in Chelsea and cherry Coke became "cherry red" soda, but Mr. Jimmy got a mention in the lyrics.
Comment: Image source. Wiki on Jimmy Hutmaker. Wiki on You Can't Always Get What You Want See also: Excelsior loses tie to rock and roll history. Lyrics:

I went down to the Chelsea drugstore To get your prescription filled

I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy And man, did he look pretty ill

We decided that we would have a soda

My favorite flavor, cherry red I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy

Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was "dead"

I said to him You can't always get what you want You can't always get what you want You can't always get what you want But if you try sometimes you just might find You get what you need