Are you teachable and willing to learn new things? Are you interested in making better financial decisions? Are you interested in making more money? Then you may just be ready for Business Street Smarts. What is Business Street Smarts? According to the marketing copy, it is a program which will allow us to 1) Know our Finances, 2) be Efficient, 3) Control our taxes, and 4) Prevent Fraud. What business owner wouldn’t be interested in these skills?
Best of all, it is a fireside chat with a former colleague or ours, none other than Mike Field, CPA, JD. For those who don’t do acronyms, he is an accountant and a lawyer. Despite these handicaps, Mike is a fun guy, and rivals Tom Cruise in the category of person producing the most dental glare when they smile. Here he is laying out the virtues of Business Street Smarts:
We have just completed the first audio portion of the downloadable MP3 series, which is a lesson in establishing “hooks” for memory retrieval. In this section, Field shows you how to organize Information in your mind so that you can instantly retrieve it. He employs a unique teaching technique to achieve this goal. The technique seems basic, and it is. The jest of it is to use the familiar and join it, mentally, with the unfamiliar.
At the end of the first day, we are aware that we will do the following over the course of the next 15 days in terms of sections:
1) Build a Foundation of Primary Financial Statements, Balance Sheets, Income Statements
2) Learn how to analyze these statements
3) Understand Business Taxes and the interplay with one’s personal taxes
4) Learn how to detect and prevent Fraud, as well as some basics in bookkeeping
However, all we know at this point is our way around an unfamiliar house with some incredibly strange things involving Olympic gymnasts, Count Dracula, and a cat happening in the front yard, on the porch, and in the living room. Yet somehow, it all makes sense. Will it translate into better financial and business decisions for The Mint? Stay tuned.
Approximately one year ago, we had the good fortune of being laid off from our most recent employer of seven years. We say good fortune as the first time this happened to us, after seven years at our first employer (on September 10, 2001, which is a story for another day) it marked the beginning of what continues to be the greatest adventure of our lives.
Staying in one place is comfortable, one knows what to expect, what to do, more or less what the rules are. It is easy to see why many people get a job and then go on autopilot for 30 years. However, staying in one place is also dangerous in that one runs the risk of stagnating to the point that they unwittingly join the ranks of the walking dead.
If you have just been laid off, you are likely uncomfortable, which is good, because there is hope for you. There will be time for that hope to blossom and trust us, it will. However, if you have just been laid off from a long time employer, chances are that what you feel at the moment is intense discomfort laced with panic. This is normal, and should drive you to take decisive action.
What should that action be? As a public service here at The Mint, we are offering a series of steps that were applicable to our situation in Portland, Oregon, circa 2014. They may or may not be useful and/or accessible to you depending upon your situation, and are not to be taken as any manner of legal/financial/tax or any other sort of advice.
With that disclaimer out of the way, we hope to guide others and save them some time and confusion in navigating the system of public support available in the Willamette Valley.
One last caveat, the following list is comprised primarily of public resources. At this moment in time, faced with losing a primary source of income, it is unlikely that one’s political ideology will stand in the way of taking advantage of the resources available to them. If you find yourself struggling at all with this, be reminded that these public resources are absolutely necessary given the broken monetary system that we live in. Indeed, the use of debt as money and the economic distortions it causes every day is likely the indirect cause of your present circumstance. Acknowledging this fact should put to rest any hesitations about whether or not to apply for public assistance, not matter what your present circumstance.
Unemployment Insurance: The first thing we recommend, unless you have a job that you will start within the next 5 days, is to file an unemployment claim against Oregon here: https://ssl8.emp.state.or.us/ocs4/index.cfm?u=F20141022A163756B40164586.0519&lang=E if you were working in Oregon and laid off (not fired with cause), you should have no problem qualifying. The reason not to delay this step is that you have the right to claim the first day you are out of work and have to wait a week before you can claim a week of benefits. They last for six months and are usually ~$500 per week on the high end as of this writing. Even if you were fired for cause, you may still qualify for unemployment insurance. Oregon is generous in this sense and many employers are paying for it in the form of an employment tax anyway and will encourage you to take it.
Do not delay on this step! Call the same day you are dismissed, otherwise you are literally leaving money on the table.
The next two steps may or may not apply to one’s specific circumstance as they are income qualified programs which take into consideration other income sources that a household may have. If you and your household have no other income source, bear in mind that you are below many of the income thresholds as of the day you were laid off and are likely to qualify based on the current circumstance. This is important, because certain programs, such as SNAP, last for six months before you have to recertify income. At that point, you will be employed (we here at The Mint believe in you!), but in the meantime, you get a six month stipend
2. SNAP (Food Stamps): They usually will give these within a week as they are considered essential. It is scaled on income and you qualify the minute your income drops below a certain level based on the number of people in your household. Below is the website to apply through if applicable: http://www.oregon.gov/dhs/assistance/pages/foodstamps/foodstamps.aspx
In some cases, enrolling in SNAP will automatically qualify you for coverage, which is nice, because by this time, you may be getting sick of pulling together all of your personal data and submitting it to a government agency that will no doubt be hacked.This step is important as, once qualified, you will not have to pay COBRA or a private health insurance. The coverage may not be great, and, depending upon how much you use your health insurance, it may be best to stick with the current provider, but if all you need is peace of mind on this front, it will save a chunk of change.
4. Housing Assistance: Depending upon your housing situation, there may be rent or mortgage assistance which you now, overnight, have become eligible for. They can be a pain to apply and take a while to kick in (if they do at all), but may be worth it if they do. Here is a list of resources in Oregon: http://www.oregon.gov/dhs/assistance/Pages/housing.aspx
The above four steps are “defensive,” now for the job search, or “offensive” side, assuming you will be looking for a job, at least for the short term until your next movie deal comes through.
Networking: There are a number of networking opportunities that any job seeker or small business owner would be wise to attend from time to time. Attending these events will not only give you something to do other than surf the internet for jobs, it will inevitably encourage you to see you are not alone. You may even be inspired. One of the best in Portland is Portland Connect, you can request an invite here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Portland-Connect-36370/about They host a number of popular events and is a nice and efficient way to get to know some people who are there to mutually help each other. The group drives home an oddity that we have found to be true in Portland, that it is a town where you must network face-to-face. Portland Connect is a great place to do just that.
Recruiters: If your profession is in such demand that it can support a recruiting industry, reach out to them, as they are literally in the business of finding you a job. In Finance and Accounting, which happens to be our industry, we recommend Robert Half. There are many others as that are industry specific. Find them, call them, they will help.
As for internet job searching: For the most part, applying online, while giving a strange sense of accomplishment, is akin to sending a message in a bottle. Chances are it will never get read and, if it does, the chances of it reaching the intended recipient at the right time may be slim. It is always best to call someone at the company if possible to at least know you are not sending an “SOS to the world.” Nevertheless, there are some sites which tend to be more responsive than others. We seemed to have the most luck in terms of response from Craigslist posting, and Mac’s List: http://www.macslist.org/ which is specifically targeted towards non-profits, our present area of expertise. Idealist: http://www.idealist.org/ also has good leads in terms of non-profits. Generally speaking, we had little luck with large companies and wasted a lot of time on their sites applying, though it can be good practice.
Friends and Family: Now is the time to reach out rather than retract. Theoretically, your friends and family are another set of eyes and ears on the ground and generally be willing to assist you in your plight if it is within their means. Reach out to the great brother and sisterhood of mankind, for we were made to help each other. Indeed, disinterested service to others is the sure path to happiness. Just remember to lend a hand when you are on the other side as well!
There are innumerable resources out there which may or may not apply to your situation. We provide those listed above as a public service, for they were pearls of wisdom that we had to grasp for mostly in the dark, if it sheds the light on someone else’s way as they walk the path of unemployment, the time spent compiling it has been well worth it.
Above all, stay encouraged! The US economy is going gangbusters and you have a place in it, it may require relocating, training, and generally becoming uncomfortable.
Get used to it, for you are now being asked to play a larger part of the long story of human progress. Embrace it.
Yesterday we had the pleasure of hearing a presentation by John Shin, the G10 FX Strategist at Bank of America. Mr. Shin is highly intelligent and a deft presenter, as one would expect from someone of his caliber (Harvard PhD in Econ, etc.) He also managed to make the material, essentially a rehash of Central Bank rate policy over the past several years through today, somewhat entertaining and relevant.
One of the big takeaways from the presentation was that the ECB has not been performing well in its role when compared to the FED, Bank of England, and Bank of Japan, against which it is often compared. Mr. Shin acknowledged that in many cases their hands are tied as, while they have the experience, they seem to struggle with their mandate, to maintain a stable currency, as they are vilified in a world where other Central Banks have taken stimulus to extremes once thought unimaginable.
The Euro is a very important currency. The Euro and the ECB as its managing institution are also very young relative to their counterparts. Making their job even more difficult is the fact that they are managing the currency for the Eurozone, whose internal fiscal and market dynamics at time defy analysis if not logic. Here at The Mint, we recognize that the ECB is simply making the best of what’s around as they constantly mend the currency union that holds what is at times a tense economic union together.
Mr. Shin also spoke at length about the Unemployment rate in the US and the associated workforce participation rate (roughly 64%) which has rapidly declined due to, according to Shin, a roughly 50/50 mix of demographic and economic factors. He also put the workforce participation rate in perspective, as it is still above where it was in the 1960’s, roughly 59.5%.
Generally, he was bullish on the US Economy and the US Dollar, and had pegged his expectations for FED rate increases to mid-next year. It will be interesting to see if his call plays out.
After the presentation was finished, we asked him for a nugget of advice in terms of what his one Key Indicator was to keep a pulse on economic activity. He said that, while they track many indicators, as one would expect, there is none that speaks more to the contemporaneous state of the US economy than the monthly jobs numbers. Concretely, when they top 200,000, the economy is in good shape, anything below that is a bad thing in his view. He said no other data point correlates so well with other economic growth indicators.
So there you have it, the dollar will remain strong and as long as the economy adds 200,000 jobs or more per month, all is well from the perspective of one of B of A’s best and brightest.
Mr. Shin is in charge of the “World at a Glance,” which is their flagship publication which highlights the bank’s key forecasts in FX, rates, and commodities. An extremely interesting read put together by some of the best in the business.
Will his forecasts on FED rate increases come to pass in mid-2015? If today’s market action is any indication, low rates could be with us for a long time to come.
For some time we have followed a group known as Positive Money UK on Twitter. They seem to be among the few people/groups that have a decent comprehension of the flaws in what we call the insane debt based monetary system in which the inhabitants of the earth are either coerced or compelled to live by. They describe themselves as “a movement to democratise money and banking so it works for society and not against it.”
We were reminded of this by one of their tweets today:
The alien meme sums up what we have been driving at for some time now here at The Mint. We tend to focus on the acceleration of the damage that humankind causes to nature as the nasty side effect of using debt as money, but it is well noted in other corners that indeed, many of the distortions in relationships between persons and nations have the concept of extinguishing debt as their root.
The video which is linked to in the above Tweet from Positive Money UK is presented as a public service below, it does a nice job of showing how the only way to create money in our insane, debt based monetary system, is to go deeper into debt or have someone else go into debt.
While the video is spot on in terms of money creation, they present only half of the solution (which we find is common in many monetary reform circles, namely Bitcoin). The second half that is too often ignored is that 1) money, as a concept, necessarily will take on many forms in the world and 2) whatever is used as money by a majority will necessarily require an associated debt market to successfully operate for any length of time (the lack of a viable debt market is killing Bitcoin). This is the great supposed advantage of using debt in the form of Central Bank notes as money, infinite debt markets = infinite liquidity, meaning there is always money available. It is this advantage that any viable monetary reform must include, or else it is doomed from the start.
On their website, Positive Money UK points out that “Only 1 in 10 MPs understand that 97% of money is created by banks.” As the English are generally cleverer than Americans, we would imagine the ratio in the governing bodies on the US side of the pond to be even lower. If you need proof of this, just watch the next Senate Banking Committee session on C-Span.
Nobody seems to get that today, circa 2014, money and debt are the SAME THING. What passes as money today are nothing more than liabilities of Central Banks. This is a worldwide phenomenon, and the effects are profound.
Money is a concept that attaches itself to certain real world things in various forms. Credit is another concept which attaches itself to various agreements. They are the antithesis of each other. Most people generally understand this and spend a good deal of their time working or causing others to work in order to attain a reasonable balance between the two on their ledgers, regardless of the size.
However, as the above video partially illustrates, most people are wrong, the only way to “make money” is to “make debt.” This is causing SEVERE imbalances in the natural world as the activities of mankind continue with an unconscious disregard for the effects of the real world.
The effects on the real world are this: There is an inordinate amount of fallow land left unattended while an increasing share of mankind passes time in urban settings, with their own productive capacity squarely aligned, day in, day out, in conflict with the needs of the natural world.
The irony is that many have taken note of the dire state of affairs of nature (read Climate Change, etc.) and then misdiagnose the cause. They clamor for more “money” to solve problems that have come about as an indirect result of the creation of more “money.”
Humankind was never meant to live under that shadow of such an overabundance of credit. The removal of limits on credit creation has effectively removed the natural governor of the activities of man, the need to create real, free market money, making certain that debts are settled in terms of real goods which are demanded by a free market economy. The return to this natural governor on human activity is indispensable if humankind is to even begin to address climate change and world peace.
The return to this natural governor will be painful, but it is inevitable, and the more one can prepare now to operate in a world where money and credit operate in their appropriate the capacities and take their appropriate places in a balanced economy, the better.
The world is headed, kicking and screaming, towards a forced monetary reset, and things will be much different than they are now.
We applaud the efforts of Positive Money UK, for they are on the right track. You too can follow them on Twitter or YouTube and learn more about this fascinating and important subject that, by our own reckoning, only one in a million comprehend. Will that one be you?
Today the BLS reported that payrolls grew in September and that the stated unemployment rate dropped to 5.9%. They also published the labor force participation at 62.7%. The handy chart below from the folks at Business Insider shows how steeply labor force participation has dropped over the past five years.
Labor Market Participation aside, the 5.9% unemployment is exciting for banks. On one hand, it can be seen as a sign that more people are working and theoretically becoming creditworthy. This is big because consumers with deposits are cherished in the Basel III framework that they are painfully working their investment ladders into.
On the other hand, it is seen as just high enough that the Federal Reserve will not raise short term interest rates for fear of “derailing the recovery” or whatever phrase Janet Yellen chooses to employ in her latest effort to mask the brutal fact that they are continuing to provide money free of charge to a painfully inept banking cartel.
While much will be written about today’s “Goldilocks” job report, it matters not in terms of Fed policy. The Fed will continue to offer money free to banks until they are certain that Basel policy reforms will not inadvertantly cause (rather than prevent, as they are designed to do) the financial crisis. Meanwhile, in the real world, the cost of labor, meaning the cost of hiring someone who can actually perform a specific task, is about to skyrocket.
The reason for this is that there remain severe imbalances in the labor market caused by recent advances in technology, namely cloud based administrative services and logistics, which are now colliding with a relative decline in the recent productivity gain that said technology was providing. While large productivity gains having been the norm, there is soon to be a lack of persons who have the requisite skills to run such systems efficiently, which means that those productivity gains will at a minimum not continue and may even be lost.
There is also another labor undercurrent that the BLS data does not capture. This is the large scale disruption of entire industries that the cloud and logistics revolution is enabling.
Indeed, there is much more to the labor market than a tidy percentage point can express, as nearly five years of ZIRP is pushing the division of labor to new extremes. Employers, Employees, and the BLS may soon become archaic terms, as American Society moves towards outsourcing on steroids.
Today’s 5.9% is little more than bad information, unless of course, you are a banker, in which case it means that the Goldilocks days are here again, and the Fed’s subsidy, a license to strip mine the earth that is provided on the backs of its inhabitants and nature herself, will continue until further notice.
En la entrevista que se puede ver en versión complete abajo, Mel abarca temas interesantes con franqueza. Entre ellos:
-Como preservar el dinero, como ganar el dinero, y como separar la vida personal de la vida empresarial de la familia.
-Lo que es un Mapping y por que es importante
-La diferencia entre ahorrar e invertir
Hay también unas frases y pautas claves compartidas, por ejemplo:
– Diversificar activos si uno quiere preservar el capital
-Los grandes patrimonios se ganan por la concentración, y se conservan por la diversificación.
-Es importante reflexionar en donde uno quiere llegar y cuando con su patrimonio y imponer una estrategia de inversión de acuerdo con este deseo. Una vez impuesta, es aún más importante mantener la estrategia pese a los cambios temporales en el mercado.
-Que tengo? Que es lo que me cuesta dinero? Que es lo que me gana dinero?
-Hay que separar lo acumulado por cubos e asignarlos un valor monetario.
-Empresa operativa = Crecer el capital
-Empresa patrimonial = Conservar el capital acumulado
Es importante la distinción entre que tipo de empresa conviene porque hay que separar los intereses de los miembros de la familia quienes quieren seguir creciendo el capital de los a quienes no tienen interés en aportar al negocio.
-Hay que entender bien a los asuntos financieros y fiscales.
-Establecer la sucesión y comunicar/conversarlo. La conexión entre el dinero y el amor está muy fuerte.
La entrevista termina con las reglas de oro de Mel Lagomasino:
-Ten un propósito
-No invierte en algo que no entiendes
-Entiende las emociones involucradas
-Maneja los costos que se pueden comer la rentabilidad
La entrevista reveladora, “Invertir: ¿Por Dónde Empezar?” se puede ver a continuación en YouTube. Disfruta de la entrevista e intenta poner en práctica algunos de sus consejos. Sobre todo, irespectivo del tamaño de tu patrimonio, comienza a vivir e invertir bien!
Shana Tova! Today marks the beginning of the Jewish high holiday Rosh Hashanah, a celebration of the new year, a celebration of the creation of the world. Once again, we pause and reflect on what has been, what is, and most importantly, what is to come.
With each new year comes a deeper understanding of what is occurring in the world. This understanding is a gift from God, as we have all been given a unique dose of both wisdom and perspective. As Rosh Hashanah 5775 is upon us, God is calling each and every one of us to use the wisdom and perspective he has given us to carry on in our unique calling.
This year it has been given to us to explore quantam physics, and its how it explains any number of phenomena, such as prayer and eternity, which are often dismissed by natural science. It is a call to believe and walk in faith and courage.
It has also been given to us to present the healing miracles of Jesus presented in the Gospel of Luke, during the first ten weeks of 2015 on the Gregorian calendar.
It is now time to remind ourselves why Rosh Hashanah is especially important for those of us who believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah.
The Feast of Trumpets and the Messiah’s Return
We are convinced that the Messiah, Jesus, is returning. We are equally convinced that it has not been given to any man to know the exact time of his return.
What we do know is that we will know the season of his return. The interpretations which we have heard of Jesus’s declaration recorded in Matthew 24:36 generally center around the premise that some sort of series of great catastrophes will be unfolding and a series of signs will be in some stage of fulfillment, implying that these things will mark the season of Jesus’s return.
Here at The Mint, we subscribe to a much simpler and more profound understanding of this scripture, drawn from an understanding of the Jewish wedding ceremony. Jesus will arrive during the fall season in the Northern Hemisphere.
In fact, based on the timing of His death and resurrection, the Passover, we believe that His triumphant return will logically take place over Rosh Hashanah. The celebrated Feast of Trumpets.
Not necessarily this fall, mind you. For it is impossible to know for certain. If one were to attempt to pick a specific year, the logical choices would be one of the upcoming Jubilee years, 2018 (starting on Rosh Hashanah 2017 on the Gregorian calendar) or 2068, or the final year of the 6000 year Jewish Calendar, 2240.
Yet it could be tomorrow, or the next day, as Rosh Hashanah has the element of uncertainty as to precisely when the new moon occurs. This detail fits nicely with Jesus’s declaration that we would not know the day or time.
With all of the things that are happening in the world, many have begun to speculate that the end is nigh.
Clearly, the end is always nigh, and calamities such as the ones humanity is currently suffering have always taken place to some degree ever since mankind chose to disobey God and turn their back on their Creator.
Today, with billions of us on the planet, these calamities are multiplied to a staggering degree. The good news is that God’s grace and mercy are experienced in abundance as well, and this will overcome all suffering and calamity as He daily establishes His Kingdom within and amongst us.
Rosh Hashanah may be the most important and least observed/understood holiday for anyone who is not Jewish. However, what occurs over the next nine days will set the tone for the coming year. They occurrences are of such magnitude that the Jewish title, the “days of awe,” may be the only appropriate descriptor.
Under these circumstances, Jesus announced that He would not attend the upcoming Feast of Booths (Tabernacles), or Sukkot, the Jewish Festival which follows Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, which was the holiest day of the year. Jesus’ initial reluctance to attend the Feast, and ultimate decision to attend, has great significance, both for our understanding of the sixth sign and for Jesus’ future second coming.
As you may recall, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, marks a new beginning. The Jews believe that on this day the fate of each person for the upcoming year is written by YHWH in theBook of Life. The days (approximately 9) between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, known as the the days of awe, are spent in deep reflection, fasting, and prayer. It is a time of confession and repentance, it is a time of recognition that we are but dust, yet infinitely precious in YHWH’s sight.
The Jews believe that the fate which is written on Rosh Hashanah is then sealed by YHWH on Yom Kippur, at which point the Feast of Booths begins. It is our speculation that Jesus made the decision to ultimately attend the Feast of Booths to symbolically seal His fate. He would give His life for humanity on the upcoming Passover.
Yom Kippur is regarded as the Sabbath of Sabbaths, as such, it is only appropriate that the Jewish leaders who were looking for a reason to kill Him, would carefully observe Jesus in hopes of catching Him breaking their observance of the Sabbath.
As Rosh Hashanah begins, we hold fast to our faith, cleanse our minds and spirits, and resolve to love and forgive as God has loved and forgiven us. May this year be filled with a generous portion of wisdom and perspective, and the faith and courage to use it to fulfill our calling. The Messiah is coming, the trumpet is about to sound!