A headline in the December 2013 issue of The Atlantic claimed that American schools compared to the rest of the world – the members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – were “expensive, unequal, bad at math.” Their conclusion was based upon American student performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment in 2012. Far East countries such as China, Korea, and Japan were top performers, while most European and Scandinavian countries ranked higher than the U.S. as well. Even the country’s former Cold War competitor, the Russian Federation, ranked higher than the United States in the assessment.
Bernard Baruch, known as “The Lone Wolf of Wall Street,” owned his own seat on the New York Stock Exchange by age 30 and became of the country’s best known financiers by 1910. Mr. Baruch, while a master of his profession, had no illusions about the difficulties of successful stock market investing, saying, “The main purpose of the stock market is to make fools of as many men as possible.” According to Ken Little, author of 15 books on investing and personal finance topics, “If you are an individual investor in the stock market, you should know that the system stacks the deck in its favor.”
In 1959, physicist Richard Feynman predicted a future in which scientists would, by manipulating atoms and molecules, be able to build materials and structures of higher strength, lighter weight, increased control of the light spectrum, and greater chemical reactivity.
Everything of a physical nature – human beings, plants, minerals, air – is composed of combinations of atoms and molecules bound together either by shape or electronic charge. Manipulating atoms on a nano-scale would theoretically allow humans to reproduce everything from diamonds to food.
The consequences of “financial risk” became apparent to many investors during the a two-year period from 2007 to 2009. The stock market (as measured by the Standard & Poor 500) plummeted from 1562.47 on October 10, 2007 to 752.44 on November 20, 2009. As a consequence, more than one-half of the retirement savings of many people were lost.
Many investors had saved money for years in order to enjoy a comfortable retirement – but as a result of the decline in stock values in that two-year period, workers were forced to delay retirement or accept a significant decrease in their expected standard of living. The S&P 500 did not regain its previous high level until the first week of April 2013.
Choosing a financial advisor is one of the more difficult tasks that a person will make. If the choice is made correctly, the benefits are incalculable. But if the choice proves to be wrong, the results can be disastrous for you and your family.
The following tips are intended to help you identify, evaluate, and choose a financial advisor that is familiar with the problems you face as an investor and can help you achieve your financial goals. With his or her knowledge of your personality and risk profile, your advisor can guide you safely through the morass of choices to those most likely to lead to success.
With age comes wisdom – or, at least, so those of us who are approaching the age of retirement hope. For many people, wisdom includes the recognition that prices of assets can go down as well as up, especially in the short-term. In addition, experience shows that markets do not always reflect underlying values, driven in the short-term more by emotion and psychology than by logic. History is full of companies who have gone public and enjoyed soaring stock prices, only to go bankrupt in the harsh light of economic reality.
Do you feel a personal responsibility to help others? Randy Lewis, author of “No Greatness Without Goodness,” claims that all people, including businesses, have the responsibility to make the world a better place. In his case, he spearheaded a Walgreens initiative to hire the disabled. In the five years following his initiative, similar programs were sparked across America and Europe.
In June 2014, Starbucks, the ubiquitous coffee cafe, announced a free online college program through Arizona State University for any employee working 20 or more hours per week. Duncan Campbell, an Oregon entrepreneur, started Friends of the Children to provide emotional and educational support to at-risk children, starting with kids in kindergarten and progressing with them through college. Of the kids involved, 83% graduate high school and 93% avoid juvenile hall for breaking the law.
Americans born after World War II have grown up in a culture that seems to promise them everything. The greatest economy in history was built, in part, by creating an insatiable demand for “more.” Unfortunately, however, its consequences can be measured in part by an unmanageable national debt, the approaching scarcity of many natural resources, increasing class conflict, and the high degree of stress and unhappiness of society at large.
Many retirees, as well as those who hope to retire within the next decade, are discovering that their resources may not be able to provide the lifestyle they’d anticipated. For some, there is little alternative except to severely cut back expenditures and lower expectations. For those who have not yet reached those years, there is another option: living lean.
Parents spend thousands of dollars on orthodontics to ensure their children have what’s arguably the clearest physical indication of prosperity: a straight, white smile. George Washington was certainly prosperous, but he also endured the agony of poorly fitted wooden dentures for much of his life. And James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, claimed that if a man had his hair and teeth, he had it all.
It’s not surprising then that an entire industry is devoted to keeping our teeth healthy, clean, and attractive. Aside from a big boost in self-confidence, the condition of your teeth plays a major role in your overall health. As with many things, many people are willing to pay for those benefits. But is purchasing dental insurance the best way to go about doing it?
Technology has been both a boon and a curse throughout history, upsetting the apple cart of the established order with new opportunities for some and great losses for others.
Consider the impact of the automobile, first on the horse and buggy industries, then on railroads. Television almost destroyed the movie business until the more creative people adapted. eBooks currently threaten longstanding bookstores and traditional publishers. The pace of technological advance has accelerated during the last half-century, challenging cultures, societies, and individuals to adapt to the new environment.