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.
By Michael Lewis
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.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, otherwise known as “Obamacare,” is destined to be one of the most controversial legislative acts of the 21st century. It is both a symbol of compassion and good intentions, as well as a monument to the complexity of a modern society with conflicting goals and philosophies.
Supporters claim that it can lead to affordable healthcare for all Americans for the first time in the nation’s history, while detractors believe it may destroy the national healthcare system and bankrupt the country. What is the truth?
By Michael Lewis
Velta Lewis died the morning of May 15th in the arms of her husband in the home they had purchased upon retiring three years previously. Her death, nine months after the diagnosis of lung cancer, occurred shortly before the couple expected to celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary during a two-week trip to Paris. My father was devastated. Over the following weeks, I would find him sitting alone in their darkened family room – no television, no radio, no conversation to break the silence – staring with red-rimmed eyes into the past, trails of tears upon his cheeks.
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are courses offered for free via the Internet, and provide education and training to large numbers of people separated by vast distances and economic circumstances. MOOCs differ from usual online college courses, which are generally limited to pre-qualified students who pay tuition fees. Despite the mixed results of educational innovations before their introduction, advocates hope that MOOCs will finally meet the goal of every public educational system: The transmission of information and concepts effectively and efficiently, with high retention at the lowest possible cost.
In the days before personal computers, instantaneous communications, and sophisticated software, many Wall Street brokerage firms employed veteran traders to sit and interpret the paper tapes of stock transactions that spewed from mechanical tickers across the city. These traders, known as tape readers, would note the price and volume pattern of individual trades in the hopes that they could identify opportunities for quick profits. For example, if the latest trade of a stock differed significantly from previous trades in either price or volume, this might be interpreted as the work of insiders acting before news that could affect the company is announced. The tape readers would then act similarly, hoping their intuition was correct.
According to a 2013 Gallup Poll, more than half of working Americans expect to retire by age 65 or earlier. However, this expectation stands in stark contrast to their practical readiness for retirement.
The 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey, performed by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Matthew Greenwald & Associates, delivers the following unsettling statistics:
- In 2013, three of four Americans had total savings of less than $25,000, and an astounding 28% had less than $1,000.
- Less than half of Americans have any idea how much money they will need during retirement or how much they have to save in order to reach that amount.
Imagine the opportunity to hear the late mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractal geometry, explain its application in fields ranging from “how galaxies cluster, how wheat prices change over time, or how mammalian brains fold as they grow.” Or MacArthur Fellow and University of Southern California law professor Elyn Saks detail her life dealing with schizophrenia on a daily basis, often imagining that she has killed “hundreds of thousands of people.”
Perhaps you would prefer watching jazz musician Herbie Hancock improvise a new version of “Watermelon Man,” or see 64-year-old long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad explain her successful fifth attempt to swim from Florida to Cuba, 110 miles through shark- and jellyfish-infested water.
December 25th and April 15th are two of the most memorable dates on the American calendar. The first is the culmination of a joyful season of celebration, gift-giving, and general goodwill, and is eagerly anticipated. The second date – the day income tax returns must be filed – is a day of dread, stress, anger, and fear for many people. Preparation for Christmas often begins in early autumn, while many people wait until the last minute to complete and file tax returns.
Despite the fact that three out of every four filers receive a refund, nobody likes income tax time. However, there are ways to make the experience less hectic and easier to endure.
Baby boomers are the first generation of a new retirement era with the burden of saving the bulk of their retirement income and making those savings last 20 to 30 years. This responsibility is due to the decline in company pensions which shifted saving and investment responsibilities to employees, as well as an increase in life expectancy after attaining adulthood (almost 20% since 1950). The challenge of investing has been particularly difficult in the last five years; a study by Thornburg Investment Management calculated the annual “real return” for many classes of investment during the period as being negative.
By Michael Lewis
Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” was published in 1936, and is one of the best-selling self-help books of all time with an estimated 15 million copies sold. Some have called the book the bible for building relationships for its insights into human nature.
The principles espoused by Carnegie continue to be valid almost a century later. Why? Because human nature doesn’t change. Each of us wants to feel important and special, and we are naturally drawn to those who make us feel better about ourselves – they are the kind of people we want to be like and be around.
The purpose of communication is to convey information from one person to another. Through the choice of written and spoken words, ideas, concepts, emotions, thoughts, and opinions are exchanged. Unfortunately, miscommunication is common – the listener or reader fails to understand what is said or written. Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Make Friends and Influence People,” said, “90 percent of all management problems are caused by miscommunication.”
When you consider the tensions between men and women, young and old, friends, and family members, it seems that most people are guilty of poor communication. But it’s possible to develop effective communication skills by learning how to speak and write simply and clearly, using plain language that’s easily understood by most people.
By Michael Lewis
Historically, exchanges of value – barter systems – were done face-to-face so that participants could instantly verify the respective physical properties being exchanged. As purchasers and sellers became geographically distant, agents or trusted third-parties acting on behalf of the participants became necessary to verify the quantity or quality of the property being transferred. For example, credit card issuers are examples of a third-party standing in for a buyer, guaranteeing to the seller that the buyer’s funds are good.
In 1937, Johnson O’Connor, then the director of the Human Engineering Laboratory of the Stevens Institute of Technology, performed a detailed study of vocabulary use and familiarity with research subjects, ranging from high school and grammar school pupils, to professors and businessmen. He determined that the largest vocabularies are possessed by “major executives,” and the size of one’s vocabulary correlates to his salary. Johnson also concluded that a large vocabulary was an “important concomitant of success and financial prosperity.”