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.”
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 Driver for Change: Income Inequality in America
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?
Brief History of the ACA
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.