One of the more painful memories in my life was telling my father that he was no longer capable of driving or living alone. A tall, physically active man, Dad had worked since his teens in the Great Depression, fought in World War II, married and raised two boys to manhood, and dealt with the death of his spouse, burying his wife of more than 50 years. He was a proud man, always ready to help others and capable of handling life’s setbacks with equal measures of grit and grace. To him, being a man meant being able to take care of yourself.
In 2013, the FBI arrested a ring of identity thieves responsible for more than $13 million in losses over a two-year period, from 2007 to 2008. Tobechi Onwuhara, a Nigerian national, impersonated victims across the country to scam their credit card companies into transferring millions of dollars from their customers’ home equity line of credit (HELOC) accounts, and the information he and his confederates used to identify victims was primarily collected through public sources. In other words, any efforts by the individual victims to foil the perpetrators would likely have been futile.
While there are a variety of investment options available to everyone, an astute investor must practice good fundamentals to control risks and optimize potential returns, including taking the time to be informed. As stated by Peter Lynch, renowned manager of the Fidelity Magellan Fund from 1977 to 1990 who beat the S&P 500 index 11 of 13 years, “Investing without research is like playing stud poker without looking at the cards.”
As you build your portfolio for retirement, it is crucial to keep several principles in mind.
The price-to-earnings ratio, commonly known as the P/E ratio, is one of the most widely used valuation metrics. It is a basic measure used to compare different investments or the same investment over different periods of time, and it’s simple to calculate.
The P/E ratio is most commonly used for a quick comparison between two securities to see how Wall Street values them, with a higher P/E suggesting that future earnings are more likely. Dividing the common stock market share price (numerator) by earnings per share (denominator) produces the ratio. For example, a stock with a market price of $15.00 and earnings of $1.00 per share would have a P/E ratio of 15 (15/1=15).
According to government statistics, there were more than 4.2 million divorces between the years of 2006 and 2011, about half the rate of marriages in the same period. Statistically, about 40% of first marriages end in divorce, while almost three-quarters of third marriages fail.
Divorce is often costly, and can be devastating for all parties involved – partners, children, parents, and grandparents. According to the Holmes-Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale, only the death of a spouse is a more traumatic, stress-causing event; divorce is more stressful than separation, a jail term, the death of a close family member, or a personal injury or serious illness. Fortunately, time does heal all wounds, and understanding the healing process can help speed the path to recovery.
By Michael Lewis
Malcolm Forbes is credited with the phrase, “He who has the most toys wins the game.” According to a People magazine article written at the time of his death, his hobbies included the acquisition of wealth and “flaunting what it could buy.”
His memorial service featured displays of his vast collection of art, including antique model boats, toy soldiers, and manuscripts. Forbes owned eight homes around the world including a private island, 2,200 paintings, a 151-foot yacht, and a Boeing 727. He also owned more Russian Imperial Faberge eggs than the Russian government. Since his death, Mr. Forbes’ philosophy has been attacked by both preachers and pundits, some of whom cited the Bible’s question: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”
Humankind’s fascination with gold can be dated back as far as 4000 B.C., and for much of our collective history, possession of gold was a sign of wealth and status restricted solely to governments and nobility. Eventually, the first gold coins are believed to have initially financed long-distance trading around the world – around 500 B.C., Darius the Great of the Persian Empire is thought to have minted the first coin, the “daric,” to facilitate the expansion of his empire and the needs of his army as it moved into foreign territories.
Need a new shoulder joint, a gun, or that tiny little part that fits inside your child’s toy? 3D printers have the potential to change our lives and make every person an inventor, a sculptor, or a chef.
These revolutionary printers are increasingly visible in our everyday lives:
- Guns. In 2013, self-declared “crypto-anarchist” Cody Wilson designed, created, and printed a plastic gun via 3D printing technology. Cody fired a shot and distributed the CAD files for the gun over the Internet. There were more than 100,000 downloads before the U.S. government closed the site. In May 2014, Yoshitomo Imura was arrested in Japan of possession of five 3D printed guns.
By Michael Lewis
The combination of inexpensive technology, accessible virtual markets, and easy funding through crowdsourcing is changing the face of entrepreneurship. Today’s new business starters are socially sophisticated, willing to bear more risk than previous generations, and more likely to work out of a home or small office and rely on others for business processes. Some are small guerrilla outfits surfing from one hot concept to the next, and some are venture capital-funded geniuses with disruptor ideas.
It is a great time to start a new business – the best time in history.
By Michael Lewis
The automobile occupies a special place in the American psyche. For most of the 20th century, it was the economic backbone of the nation, spurring growth and innovation across industries including steel, rubber, glass, and petroleum. It was the impetus for the geographic spread of cities and the dispersion of families across the continent.
The car symbolizes freedom, status, and utility. It remains the first major acquisition for many Americans, and obtaining a driver’s license is a rite of passage for every teenage boy and girl. While aircraft and railroad passenger miles have steadily increased over the years, auto passengers still log 7.25 miles for every airplane and rail passenger mile combined.
Magicians and con-men have known for centuries how to deceive, seduce, and exploit audiences and individuals to their benefit. Francis Bacon, 16th century philosopher, scientist, and author, said, “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.” We are willing victims, even active accomplices, in the regular misinterpretation of the world around us, often to our dismay and sometimes to our harm.
In fact, neuroscientists are just beginning to unravel the secrets of the brain – how we see the world, and how we remember details of events and environments. This can help us understand the hidden feelings that color our decisions and drive our actions, which in turn can help us make better decisions.
Generation Xers are beginning to turn the corner, midway between their teens and retirement. Now in their late 30s and early 40s, they have lived through three recessions, 9/11, and culture wars amidst starting families, buying homes, and struggling to repay student loans. For most of their lives, they’ve been on the short end of the stick, facing unemployment and moving back home to live with parents, but the tides are turning economically and socially.
Malcolm Holland, president of $650 million Veritex Community Bank in Dallas, Texas, worries about the future of community banks as a result of increasing federal regulations and growing compliance costs. His concern is based upon the increasing expansion of federal rules that limit the flexibility of community bankers to meet the needs of their customers: “Community banks need to be creative because small business is creative. If we can’t meet the needs of small business – the core of our business – the economy as we’ve known it will cease to exist.”
By Michael Lewis
On February 11, 2014, President Barack Obama signed an executive order raising the minimum pay for workers employed by companies that have federal contracts. The pay per hour would be lifted from $7.25 to $10.10 and go into effect on January 1, 2015.
As might be expected, the move ignited a fire storm of dueling statistics and questionable conclusions from both sides of the political spectrum. Consequently, the average American is likely confused about who the order affects and its potential impact on the economy.
The bee has always occupied a special place in man’s psyche. Young children learn the origins of babies with stories of “the birds and the bees,” while their industry is so respected that a person engaged in intense activity is “as busy as a bee.” “Spelling bees” and “quilting bees” are so named because a meeting of people working together resembles the scenes within a beehive. Closely guarded information is “none of your beeswax,” and the flappers of the 1920s popularized the “bee’s knees” to express the coolness of an object or activity.