10 Super Reasons to Start Your Own Information Marketing Business

Monday, December 30, 2013

Here are 10 Super reasons why you should start your own information business. But before we begin, we need to clarify that Information products do NOT just cover online money making or business related niches. Any topic where you can teach people can be the basis of you very first information product and the cornerstone of your information empire.

Super Reason #10 : All your information products would be digital - ebooks, videos, newsletters - so you will have a business with a low, low production cost. As long as you can speak and write, you can create your own information product.

Super Reason #9 : Unlike a regular brick and mortar store, you don't need to invest in store renovations, warehousing and staff. All you do need is a computer and an Internet connection to start building your own information business empire.

Super Reason #8 : No need to go through the hassle of getting a business loan because your start up costs are really minimal. Like I said in Super Reason #9 - you only need a computer, an Internet connection, and a desire to make money.

Super Reason #7 : The Internet is overflowing with information and the lots of these resources are free. More importantly, lots of them are freely available to you to re-use commercial purposes. You just need to repackage, rebrand and rework this information to suit your product's niche and you will have your own hot-selling range of information products!

Super Reason #6 : Your production costs is low, you don't have any warehousing costs and you don't need to pay rental, so your profit margins are going to be a lot more than if you were selling a physical product. Profit margins can be based on perceived value - if you have a reputation for producing highly valuable information, or if you are savvy enough to GIVE that perception, then customers are not going to grumble about the price they're paying and your profit margin.

Super Reason #5 : The Internet marketplace is growing at an incredible rate. If your worried that the market will be saturated, don't. As long as people are looking for information, you will have a market. Your information doesn't have to be totally new inventions, but they should give your customers value - a fresh perspective on a niche, a new twist to performing a task, an updated list of top-ten way etc. And if you find yourself wondering what niche to go into, just look around you.Find a highly active niche in the information marketplace and copy what the successful leaders are doing. In some cases, being an affiliate and selling other people's information products can be just as rewarding as creating your own. As long as you don't steal other people's products, slap your own label on it and sell it word for word as your own, the information product business is quick, easy and profitable.

Super Reason #4 : There are more people buying online each year. With the advancement of technology and online security measures, making purchases online is become, easier, safer and faster. Add too that a continuosly growing and hungry market looking for information and you have a mind-boggling sized market. Stats revealed that over 150 million people spent well over $100 billion online for purchases last year alone. Imagine how great your business would be if you had a store where 150 milliion people with over $100 billion spending money were browsing everyday?

Super Reason #3 : You can work anywhere. You are not tied down to a brick and mortar store where you have to be there to keep an eye on staff, take delivery of products and cash in your daily takings. All you need is an Internet connection and you are connected to your office and your customers. You can sit in a Starbucks in downtown New York or in London or on a beach in Bali and you would still be connected to your money making information empire.

Super Reason #2 : You are your own boss. You set the rules. You decide when to work, where to work and how you should work. You are the big kahuna.

Super Reason #1 : Residual, passive income for the rest of your life. I don't mean to say that this is a hands-free plug and play business where you can just relax, turn on a switch and the money will roll in like crazy. That would be irresponsible of me. However, once you've done the main job of producing your information products and put in place a solid, reliable marketing, and sales system, your information product empire can potentially be a source of residual, passive income that works even when you sleep and lasts even after you're gone - for your family. Now if that's not good enough reason to start your own information business empire, I don't know what is.

Business Insurance - The Best Choice For Owners

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Professional liability insurance is a kind of insurance taken out by certain professionals in order to get coverage for claims made against them by customers. The insurance might apply to doctors and in this case it is called Medical Malpractice, or to Public Notaries for whom it is named Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O). Real estate brokers, appraisers, management consultants, website developers will also contract E&O insurance.

Software developers and technology consultants may benefit of this insurance too. In their case, the insurance covers the failure to perform, financial loss and errors and omissions of the products or services sold. In a single word, this professional indemnity insurance may apply to any business that provides advice or gives a service.

But let's see in what ways professional indemnity insurance will protect your business:

1. For example you made a mistake in the professional services offered to your client out of negligence, or you might have lost or damaged their data and these results in litigation. The insurer may represent you before the court and defend you and in case you become liable for damages, the insurance will cover those costs, limited to your level of coverage.
2. The mistake has been done and you decide to fix it. The insurance will provide you with funds for that, thus avoiding larger claims on the part of the client.
3. If one of your employees steals your client's money, the insurance will cover for the loss incurred.
4. Breach of intellectual property leads to a dispute. When literary and artistic works, inventions, designs and images have been misused, you might find yourself as a professional in a legal dispute which can be stressful and costly. Taking out insurance will cover the cost of the lawsuit.
5. Facing a trial can severely damage your reputation. Being insured and capable to defend yourself will save you and enable you to continue your career.

Looking at the cost of this insurance it has to be noted that it is particularly high for those professions with high risks, but the benefit of the insurance will outweigh the costs. The insurance cost is established on the basis of the percentage of the company's total spending.

The needs differ according to the profession. Maybe it is high time for you to contact a reliable insurance broker and discuss all insurance options possible to offer you real protection in case of trouble with clients. As a professional firm or practice, you have to take out professional indemnity insurance frequently as a compulsory requirement of your company, your client and to protect yourself and your business.

No espere hasta el Nuevo Año

Saturday, December 28, 2013
No espere hasta el Nuevo Año Un nuevo año significa usualmente aumento de precios, en ocasiones mayor inflación o devaluación, no espere hasta que esto le ocurra, contrate su Seguro de Estudiante online ahora mismo, no importa que su cobertura comience tiempo después. Podra obtener por internet de inmediato su Poliza de seguro y tarjeta. Disfrute de Cobertura mundial y Economicos Precios. Comprelo ya en http://segurosdeviaje.webs.com #SegurodeEstudiantes

Commercial Truck Financing

Friday, December 27, 2013
Purchasing a truck is a major financial investment that involves a significant amount of preparation. The decision of how to finance a truck involves several key steps and will require you to do a fair amount of research to prepare for your purchase. Many commercial truck lenders are borrower-friendly even in this economy. Because the commercial truck is valuable collateral, there is little risk of loss for the lender. There are many different types of companies that specialize in industrial equipment or truck financing. It is important to know the details of how these companies operate, so you can find the best possible deal for your needs. To calculate truck financing, you must establish the cost of the truck, decide on how much you will pay as a down payment, explore loan options and make a decision that best fits your personal wants and needs.

Guidelines on Calculating Commercial Truck Financing:

1.) Determine the cost of the truck. You should identify the truck you want to buy and locate a detailer where you can purchase your vehicle. You should shop around to ensure you have the best possible price for the truck you want to buy. Once you have identified where you will purchase the truck, you should negotiate a price. Once you have the price set, you can begin to explore various ways to finance the purchase.

2.) Decide on what kind of down payment you can afford. You should examine your personal finances and establish a cash amount that will be placed directly towards the total cost of the truck. If your truck costs $20,000 and you can make a $5,000 down payment, you will have $15,000 left to finance through a loan from a financial institution.

3.) Examine options.

a. A Loan. As with any type of loan, a bank or financing company will lend you the money to purchase large pieces of equipment or large trucks at a particular interest rate, depending on the institution you are borrowing from or the quality of your credit. If you believe or know you will have steady business once you have your equipment or truck, and therefore will be receiving regular payment for your services, taking out a loan to purchase these items is an excellent idea, because you will be able to pay back the capital group or bank on time and the interest can simply be factored into the fee for each job your company performs. If business is not guaranteed to be steady during the loan period, this option becomes more and more risky.

b. Leasing. Leasing a large piece of equipment or a truck is a better idea if your company is trying to retain capital and spend money in other places. The cost of leasing a truck is much less than buying it and making monthly payments. However, the mileage of the truck comes into play, as does the wear and tear on both the truck and the equipment. It's also considered throwing money down the drain in a way, because at the end of the lease, your company will not own the truck or equipment; it was merely rented for the term of the contract. However, leasing can be ideal if the truck or equipment is only going to be used sparingly for certain jobs each year, in which case it isn't worth buying it.

c. Purchasing. Buying a truck or equipment is a good idea, even though it may be more difficult to finance. This is because you will retain a portion of your investment in the equipment or truck itself when you buy and pay it off over time. This way, though, you can rent the truck out to other companies or people for a fee when you don't need it, earning money that can help you with your payments. However, maintenance and upkeep come into play here, as they become your responsibility. Be sure to get a manufacturer's warranty for at least a few years from whomever sells you the truck or equipment; and make sure whomever you rent the truck or equipment to provides proof of insurance.

4.) Calculate your expenses over time. This calculation can be done very easily by using an online lease calculator, such as the one provided by Cars.com or Edmunds. You will need to input the information you gathered in the previous steps such as the price of the car, the interest rate and the repayment term. This will yield a calculation that will illustrate your total monthly payment, as well as the total cost of financing.

5.) Choose the best option. Once you have identified the pros and cons of the financing options available to you, you must make a decision as to your best option. The best option is usually the least expensive option that best fits your needs. If you decided to take out a loan through a financial institution or an automobile dealer, you must apply for the loan. If you are approved, you can use the funds to purchase the truck. Your payments will begin immediately.

Information Marketing and Short Reports

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Selling information online is without any doubt one of the most lucrative forms of making money online, since day one I have been a huge fan of information marketing. However this isn't for everyone. But at some point most are very interested in creating their own information product online. Whether its to compliment an affiliate product, or be part of its own site, dedicated to that product.

Writing in general makes some very nervous, it certainly is for me to this day. I was intimidated at the thought of sitting down to write an ebook. tons of questions like how long should it be? and what if I make mistakes?? Well I'm here to tell you, if you don't write like a 3rd grader and have decent grasp of the Queens English, then your really not going to have a lot of trouble.

Part of making this an easy process, is being in a niche that you are very comfortable and knowledgeable in. One of the reasons why, it becomes very easy for you to come up with ideas for the chapter titles that you want to write about and once you have that, then the rest gets pretty close to writing itself. Another key to being able to write, is writing like your sitting and talking to a friend.

People don't want to read complicated vocabulary. There is no need for it. Remember you are not writing a scientific paper and your audience is a bit simpler about things then you may think. You also don't have to be overly entertaining. Ebooks are informational in nature, and you simply want to make sure have enough meat in it that makes the purchase a worth while investment.

One of the very best ways to get yourself into the the information marketing business model, is to start with writing short 12 to 20 page reports. And there is no better guy to listen to, than Jimmy Brown. This does a few things for you. First and foremost it makes it manageable. It takes the weight of writing 50 to 75 pages out of the equation. It also teaches you how to do it quickly, and still deliver valuable content.

When done right it is pretty easy to put together a number of successive reports that eventually become an ebook. It's fast, its easy, and pretty much can be done in a couple days. I had only wished this had been around when First got started. Life would have been a ton easier.

The Importance Of Debt Education Canada

Tuesday, December 24, 2013
A lot of people from Canada are facing an extraordinary and unusual situation these past months owing to the bad economic situation that has beleaguered the country in historical proportions. Millions of people are facing huge debts from multiple debtors as the economy struggles hard to get back on its feet. And some of them were forced to declare bankruptcy as they are unable to settle their numerous financial obligations. Such declaration will surely hurt people’s credit ratings and will definitely have a long-term impact on a person’s future. And while the debt situation of many Canadians seems to be at an alarming level, some can still be optimistic about being able to deal with the upsetting problems nonetheless.

And there could be reason for such optimism. Canada fortunately has good resources that can provide debt relief through some organizations or institutions with professionals who are expert in working people out of debts. These professionals are able to provide debt education Canada people need in order to avoid ending up in bankruptcy. With the proper information and advice, a lot of people who are in debt will be able to learn the different ways on how they can reduce their spending, plan their budgets and target financial goals towards full settlement of the existing debts. Though this help may come late for people who are already deep in debt, it will still help them in avoiding being in the same circumstances again in the future. Similarly, those who are not in deep debt yet, will be able to pull their reins back to control their spending activities.

For a start, the experts will introduce you to debt education Canada people seem to forget – and that is setting up a plan for your spending activities. This is one part which drives many people into huge credits and debt because they are spending more than their income or what they can financially afford. By focusing your attention on your spending budget, you know exactly what you can only spend every month without sacrificing your budget for the monthly expenses such as insurance payments, car mortgage, rent, tuitions, etc. It is important that all of these regular and repeating monthly payments have their allocation from the income. Hence, if there’s just little money left after paying all the dues, it would mean that you will have no capability to spend on unnecessary stuff.

The financial experts will also tell you that in keeping or determining a budget, you will learn how your financial goals can be achieved. And by keeping track of your financial goals, you are able to maintain a healthy and stress-free financial situation. Most of the people in debt are those who never gave importance on setting a budget and financial goal. If you are targeting something as your goal, you will learn to make the necessary adjustments in your spending, lifestyle, etc. Even if the financial goal is a short-term one, you still get to benefit from it because you are able to achieve it without forfeiting your other financial obligations. You were able to stay on your budget, pay your dues and achieve your goal.

Canadians at this time should take advantage of credit counseling offered by some financial institutions as it will help them learn various practices and ways to determine your financial status, work out a suitable and doable debt repayment plan and target to get out of debt the soonest time possible, as permitted by your financial capability. This way, people will be more informed and guided and will in turn avoid being in terrible and stressful debt situations.

Important Ways To Keep Your Staff At Their Best While Manning Your Business Trade Show Stand

Monday, December 23, 2013

Every veteran convention participant recognizes that, when it comes to successfully working the trade show display circuit, there are two critical components that come into play. What's the first factor to consider when striving to achieve a positive return on investment? Unquestionably, this falls on the business' trade show stand itself.

It's no secret that garnering the attention of the wandering masses at these industry functions is of paramount importance. In order to effectively entice and inform the consuming crowds, each attending organization needs to have a trade show stand that delivers something distinctive that the competition just doesn't offer. Whether utilizing an elaborate stand replete with several attention grabbing features, or opting for simple banner stands that visually compel the wandering crowd, having a unique display is an important piece of the achievement equation.

Beyond The Trade Show Stand: Consider Your Most Valuable Asset

However, beyond the stand design, businesses truly looking to capitalize on the many opportunities presented at these events also need to consider what should be their most valuable asset: their employees. It is vital to never underestimate the importance of staff members manning the trade show display in the overall success of the event. Once visiting guests stop into the stand, it is completely up to your team to connect with and, hopefully, convert each person into a viable lead for your organization. Just like your business' stand, you need your staff to stand out from the competition. They not only need to consistently be dynamic as they engage with the attendees, they also need to embody a professional and polished representation of your organization.

Key Methods To Help Your Staff Shine At Every Trade show Display

Want to make sure your staff makes as big of an impact as your trade show display? Employing a few simple techniques can help ensure that your team is always the one to watch at every event. Always consider:

Trade show display training: Professional training can make a huge difference in your team's polish and performance. Even offering a few onsite sessions can make a major impact.

Customized stand flooring: Most events can stretch on for hours, leaving your staff on their feet all day long. Partner with a reputable design firm that offers customized (aka padded!) flooring. An experienced provider will offer various options that meet a range of price points to ensure you get an ideal complement to your already existing trade show display.

Wardrobe requirements: Beyond flooring options, always consider other ways to help keep your team feeling energized and comfortable. Wardrobe is a great way to help ensure that your employees are ready for the long day of standing they have ahead of them. While looking professional is always a must, always encourage them to wear their most comfortable shoes while manning the exhibits.

Scheduling needs: If you want your employees to always look refreshed, offer scheduled breaks throughout the event. The hours manning the stands can prove grueling. In order to keep their energy levels high, create a specific outline of breaks that allows staff members to get away from the stand, but still maintains adequate coverage at all times.

Cash Your Gold With Open Eyes

Saturday, December 21, 2013
Did you know that a girl’s best friend is no longer the diamond? Recent studies have shown that girls prefer gadgets to gold and diamonds as gifts. The newer, the better. Those heirloom pieces which you treasured so that someday you’ll pass on to them will probably not be appreciated as much as the grandparents whished. Or, how about those earrings whose pairs have gone into thin air long ago? They are just staying in the jewellery box, right? No one is interested in them, and they’ve become useless shines.

But, wait. One can make use out of them, especially in these times of fluctuating economy. Why not go cash for gold? Gold, when just sitting there, is a dead investment. The more practical way today is to change it into cash, ready to be used anytime. The good news is, the price of gold has gone up 20% since last year.

Gold parties are held periodically in the United States. This is where you can have your gold appraised of its value and exchanged for cash in the spot, if you so wish. There are also companies that offer good prices for your jewelry – you just fill up a form, send the gold with it, then they will send you the money. Your jewelry is insured, and if you are not content with the transaction, they will send you back the item, you return the money to them, and that’s the end of it.

You have to make an informed choice, though, before you plunge in and get cash for gold. First of all, know the karat of your gold. When it says 14k it means your jewelry has 14 parts gold out of 24 parts. It follows that the more percentage of gold there is, the higher its appraisal will be. Secondly, if your assortments of jewelry have many different karat values, they should be weighed differently. So before you go and have them appraised, classify and separate them according to their karat values. Third, it’s always advisable to have some knowledge about your potential buyer. One’s reputation precedes oneself, and this goes for gold buyers, too. Be it an online buyer or a gold party buyer. There are many ways to know them – online, or through acquaintances who have had similar experiences.

The next thing is to verify the current value of gold. There are dealers who count on the fact that you are in a hurry, and will hurry to give you an underestimated value for your item/s. If you will have it changed, by mailing to any dealer, take a photo of your items before you send them. Ask your questions before you send your jewelry to them.

The design of your gold jewelry may also account for its price. Another wise move would be to have it appraised somewhere else, even if it will cost. At least you would know better about your gold.

Now here’s another fact. Gold buyers will only buy your gold at the most, 70% of its original value. Be prepared for this, too, so you have an estimate of how much you will get. Still, selling out unused gold can help for your planned vacation, new furniture or, yes, a new gadget that will make the young ones happy. Then it would be worth it.

Social Media Is Here to Stay - Use It To Drive Traffic to Your Trade Show Exhibits

Friday, December 20, 2013

As soon as businesses started promoting Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, it became pretty obvious that social media was here to stay. It's easy to see why: social media is a phenomenal marketing tool when used correctly. Businesses can connect with their clients and receive feedback in ways they couldn't before. They can share new product information and announcements, conduct surveys or just get to know their customers a little better at little to no cost.

So how can you integrate this amazing marketing tool into your trade show exhibits?

Pre-Event Marketing

Just as you would any other marketing tool, start using your social media accounts to promote trade show exhibits and your presence at such. You can create Facebook posts asking who plans to attend the event and what they are most looking forward to. You can announce that a new product will be unveiled at the event or provide a teaser that doesn't quite give away all the details. This gets the conversation going and starts to generate buzz about the trade show exhibits and your business.

Don't forget that catching up with friends and colleagues is as important to many trade show attendees as seeing new products. Make it easy for them by creating an event on your Facebook page. This allows your Facebook friends to RSVP to the event. It is a quick and easy way for clients to see who's going to be at the exhibition and who isn't. In a similar fashion, you can send out invitations to your colleagues on LinkedIn and start to generate excitement there as well.

Best of all, these techniques don't cost anything other than the time it takes you to update your status or send out an email. You're still providing the same information that you typically provide with more traditional marketing methods, just in a new way.

Integration Into Trade Show Designs

Even when the event is going on you can use your accounts to keep customers apprised of what's going on. If you do unveil a new product, announce it and post pictures of it. If you've won an award, let all your followers know about it. It doesn't have to be a press release worthy announcement. A simple Tweet will get the news out and generate interest in your company.

Another idea is to provide running updates about the event on your social media pages. This can be done via status updates or even live feed. Providing these updates helps keep those customers who couldn't attend the event in the loop and keeps your business front and center.

If you plan a giveaway, Tweet about it! It'll remind attendees to swing by your booth. Make sure you "Check-in" at your booth and post it to your pages so your followers know where to find you. Or create a Foursquare location and let smartphone GPS apps guide attendees to your booth.

Modular trade show designs offer plenty of opportunity to welcome social media into your booth. Set up some seating or an open area when attendees can take a break and check their messages. A display for a trade show may contain a QR code that links to your website or Facebook page that visitors can quickly scan and then read later.

Use Informal Connections To Develop Formal Relationships

Social media is a fun and informal way to get your message out there and meet and understand your clients better. It allows you to shine through as a business full of people with personality rather than just a company to do business with. It can provide that people to people connection that exhibitors value so much. Get a head start on building those connections through social media then solidify the relationships in person at trade show exhibits.

Social media isn't going away. Used wisely, it can generate big results with little work.

Tu Seguro para Estudiar en el Extranjero

Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Seguro Medico que satisface los requerimientos de Universidades y/o Gobiernos, excelentes Coberturas, Economicos precios; para mas detalles o cotización visite nuestra pagina http://segurosdeviaje.webs.com H.R.Olivar Seguros de Viaje #SegurodeEstudiante #TipicoDeNavidad

¿Es Usted un Viajero frecuente?

Si Usted efectua viajes internacionales frecuentes, un Seguro Multiviajes le brinda ahorro en la contratación de su Seguro de Viaje, le brindara Cobertura Medica durante un año para sus multiples viajes; para mas detalles o cotización visite nuestra pagina http://segurosdeviaje.webs.com H.R.Olivar Seguros de Viaje #SegurosdeViaje #TipicoDeNavidad

¿Viajan en Grupo de 5 o mas personas?

Ahorre en el costo de su Seguro de Viaje al comprar un Seguro de Viaje para Grupo, disponible para grupos de 5 o mas viajeros; para mas detalles o cotización visite nuestra pagina http://segurosdeviaje.webs.com H.R.Olivar Seguros de Viaje #SegurosdeViaje #TipicoDeNavidad

Just How Selling An Annuity Works

Whenever you receive compensation in the form of structured payments or settlements, there is the possibility to receive these annuity payments in one single payment. For numerous reasons this could materialize. Maybe you just won the lottery! Conversely, you might have won a settlement for a legal or medical suit in which they have consented to pay you an amount of money for injuries.

In any case, the structured settlement is normally designed with two objectives in mind. The first is that it might be the best way to match your cost outflows. Monthly payments may be chosen to match expenses, if you have received a settlement to cover monthly bills, including any medical costs. The length of the annuity is normally designed to do the very same. It could be a year or several decades based on the expected amount of time for your treatment.

Meant to benefit the company or business who is paying out the annuity and yourself concurrently, annuities ensures you are provided for. A lump sum could possibly total to an amount that might run in the millions. This is a serious cash flow for any company who must always make sure that their expenditures do not exceed their revenue (and lead to bankruptcy). The expense of your monthly annuity could be chosen to match their revenue projections also.

A structured settlement can be quite a valuable thing. Monthly you would receive a check in the specified amount, where money is guaranteed. If it matches your overall health bills, then having the regular income allows you to discount those bills and not include them in your financial plan, if you like. Conversely, some families can face a financial crisis without the resources to get themselves out. They may have a huge expense and no way to get the money to pay it. In order to meet and clear up crisis situation, lots of people who have a structured settlement choose to extract the value out of the annuity at one time. A family will do this by converting the structured settlement to a lump sum payment by an appropriate funding organization.

If you decide to sell annuity settlement payments, you must carefully understand the conversion charges. This begins by comprehending the value of the structured settlement alone. The settlement is created around an interest rate that is stipulated at the time of the negotiation. The federal prime rates are normally what these interest rates are based on and allows for cost of living increases. You annuity would be worth a million dollars if at the time of settlement you agreed to a million dollars but will change later on if the prime interest rate increased. If the prime rate increases or the cost of living reduces, your annuity is definitely worth more than a million dollars. If it has been some period of time, such as a year, since the settlement, then a annuity worth is prorated by the elapsed time in relation to the total annuity time. Talk to a financial analyst or enter your numbers on a website calculator to determine the current worth of your annuity.

Your funding company will offer you somewhat less than the current worth of your structured settlement if you choose to sell the annuity. The difference can vary greatly. The sum could be 90% of the settlement value or significantly less. Be sure to perform this research to select the best conversion rate for your annuity.

4 Benefits to Buying Business Cards Online

Monday, December 16, 2013

It has become increasingly popular to buy nearly anything online. There are many advantages which can be gained from this shopping medium. Some of the most obvious advantages are:

Easier to Use

Nobody really wants to have to get into their car, drive somewhere, buy something and then have to drive all the way home. Driving to and from the store means dealing with all the traffic and then inevitably standing in long lines just to give a cashier your hard earned money. Online shopping lacks any of these problems. You shop in the convenience of your own home. There is no traffic to deal with and no long lines. You get on a site, pick what you want and buy it. Like all online shopping, buying business cards online is just plain easier than buying them in a traditional store.


Online you have the advantage of shopping anonymously. This can lead to your design team remaining confidential so your competitors can not easily mimic your most effective marketing designs by getting friendly with your local printer.

Shorter Turnaround Time

This definitely applies to buying business cards. Most stores which offer printing solutions work as middlemen often outsourcing the work to these very same companies which offer their services online. By going directly online you're cutting out the middleman so the overall time from request to creation can be significantly less.

Lower Cost

In most cases online businesses offer lower prices. Buying business cards online can save money because the companies offering it have lower overhead. Beyond this fact many of the companies offering business card services actually act as middle men between companies which actually design and manufacture business cards and are available online.

There is simply no doubt about it that buying online just plain makes sense. However, there are some things which need to be taken into account when buying online. Too many people make the mistake of simply looking for the best price when in reality they should be looking for the best value. The problem is that many people simply don't really appreciate what the best value really is when it comes to buying online.

The best value when buying business cards online is a combination of the cost and the quality of service. A high quality business card company should offer excellent design and printing capabilities. What this means for the consumer is they should be able to design a beautiful and brilliant business card which is going to catch the attention of your customers quickly and effectively. They need to put together a design that is not only going to catch your customer's attention but also improve your company's image. Well made business cards are not business cards built from a template.

Well made business cards are business cards which have been designed from the ground up by someone who understands how to catch someone's attention and do it in a professional and attractive fashion. They are designed by someone who takes the time to know your company so as to ensure that the design exemplifies what your company stands for. After this design has been made it needs to be able to be implemented. It can't be printed on low quality paper or in black and white. It needs to be done in full color with high quality paper.

The key to buying business cards online is simply about recognizing the good from the bad. It's an unfortunate truth that like most businesses there is more bad than good but getting truly unique, high quality, and well designed business cards online is an achievable goal.

Why You Should Invest in Event Public Liability Insurance

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Planning and implementing a successful event can be pretty complicated, not to mention risky. To ensure that none of your organizational efforts will go to waste, you need to invest on a good event public liability insurance policy. This type of security option will give you the help that you need in ensuring that the unfortunate circumstances that will take place during your event will be completely covered. By having this type of insurance policy under your name, you will be able to do a better job in tending to the other aspects of your event, knowing that the possibilities of accidents are all fully covered.

There are basically two types of event public liability insurance policies that you can enlist for: the single event liability policy and the multiple even liability policy. As the names imply, the first type will give you coverage for a certain event, while the latter will give you coverage for more than one. Make sure that you go through the main features and benefits of the two types and choose the one that will better fit your needs. You might have to consult a professional in making the best choice, so see to it that you get the best people on your side.

Majority of the activities that people often want to take part in present them with various forms of risks. As a matter of fact, gathering a certain number of people in a single place for a duration of time is risky enough as it is. Fortunately, a good event liability policy will give you the help that you need in managing these risks. It will be impossible to bring the risk level down to zero but, at least, you will know that you would be able to readily respond to whatever circumstances that may come your way.

You need to gain a thorough understanding of the various terms that will come with professional liability insurance policies in the market, for you to be able to pick out the policy that will suit you best. Make sure that you allocate a certain amount of time in your events planning stage to this certain task, for you to be able to peruse your options appropriately. If you do not think that you have enough knowledge to be able to choose the best policy yourself, then try to get the help of a professional broker.

How to Open a Wine Bottle With a Shoe

Saturday, December 14, 2013
Have a bottle of wine but no corkscrew?

Should you ever find yourself in that situation, I offer the following video as a public service announcement.

Link if video does not play: How to Open a Wine Bottle With a Shoe

Thanks to reader "Bob" who sent me the video.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Stockton Doomed to Another Bankruptcy; Getting Out of bankruptcy the Worst Possible Way

Friday, December 13, 2013
Heading into bankruptcy Stockton, California had about $147 million in unfunded pension obligations and about $250 million in debt from various bond issues.

The city could have and should have shed some of those pension obligations and made changes in various pension agreements, but it didn't.

It did shed bond debt for one cent on the dollar, subject to lawsuits.

Stockton Doomed to Another "Stigma of Bankruptcy"

The New York Times reports Stockton Return to Solvency, With Pension Problem Unsolved
Battered by a collapse in real estate prices, a spike in pension and retiree health care costs, and unmanageable debt, this struggling city in the Central Valley has labored for months to find a way out of Chapter 9. Now having renegotiated its debt with most creditors, cobbled together layoffs and service cuts and raised the sales tax to 9 percent from 8.25 percent, Stockton is nearly ready to leave court protection.

But what Stockton, along with pretty much every other city in California that has gone into bankruptcy in recent years, has not done is address the skyrocketing public pensions that are at the heart of many of these cases.

“No city wants to take on the state pension system by itself,” said Stockton’s new mayor, Anthony Silva, referring to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or Calpers. “Every city thinks some other city will take care of it.”

“They wanted to get out of bankruptcy in the worst possible way, and that’s just what they did,” said Dean Andal of the San Joaquin County Taxpayers Association, which fought the sales-tax increase. “If they go ahead and hire those new police officers, the city will be back in insolvency in four years.”

City officials insist their plan will work. “We got the tax, and thank God it passed,” Councilman Holman said. “I have confidence that the numbers line up.”

Nor does the Detroit ruling this week make Stockton want to revisit pension reductions. Connie Cochran, a city spokeswoman, said that city workers had already seen their pay and retiree health benefits cut. In addition, she said, Calpers told the city that its only option was to pay a $970 million termination fee to leave the system, and Stockton could not afford it.

Mayor Silva said the city’s plan would help it out of bankruptcy sometime late next spring, if all goes well, after the judge hearing the case has time to rule on its fairness and viability and negotiations can be completed with one final bondholding creditor.

“We will lose the stigma of bankruptcy, and it will buy us time,” he said.
Getting Out of bankruptcy the Worst Possible Way

I am hoping the judge tells Stockton its plan is not viable (for the simple reason it isn't viable).

Raising taxes is not the way you deal with preposterous pension obligations.

When CalPERS  told the city "the only option was to pay a $970 million termination fee to leave the system" the city could have and should have spit in their face (not literally of course).

The polite way of doing that would have been a balanced blend of pension haircuts and bond haircuts.

Instead, by putting 100% of the burden on bondholders, the city virtually ensured inability to issue further bonds at a reasonable interest rate. Moreover, the city punished taxpayers, and did nothing to fix untenable pension obligations.

Stockton is doomed unless the bankruptcy judge handing the case sends Stockton back to the drawing board.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

"Dirty Jobs" Mike Rowe on the High Cost of College; Get Ready to Get Dirty; What's Wrong With the College Model?

Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs chimes in on the US education system in an interview with Nick Gillespie on Reason.Com.

click on above link if video does not play

Rowe: If we are lending money that ostensibly we don't have to kids who have no hope of making it back in order to train them for jobs that clearly don't exist, I might suggest that we've gone around the bend a little bit.

Gillespie: We are doing everything we can to push every kid to go to a four-year college. What's wrong with that?
Rowe: It's not working. You have a trillion dollars in debt on the student loan side. You have a skills gap, something [interrupted by Gillespie]

Gillespie: What do you mean a skills gap?
Rowe: Right now you have about 3 million jobs in transportation, commerce, trades, that can't be filled.  

Gillespie: Anything from carpentry to electricians, plumbers,
Rowe: [interjects] Heating, electric, truck drivers, welders is a big one, jobs that typically parents don't sit down and say to their kids - look if all goes well, this is what you are going to do.

Rowe's advice is summed up in the following clip I took from the video.

Get Ready to Get Dirty

The video is a lengthy 41 minutes but Reason.com provides this synopsis so you can skip to topics that interest you.

  • His bad experience with a high school guidance counselor (3:20)
  • Why he provides scholarships based on work ethic (6:57)
  • The problem with taxpayer-supported college loans (8:40)
  • Why America demonizes dirty jobs (11:32)
  • The happiest day of his life (13:14)
  • Why following your passion is terrible advice (17:05)
  • Why it's so hard to hire good people (21:04)
  • The hidden cost of regulatory compliance (23:16)
  • The problem with Obama's promise to create shovel ready jobs (33:05)
  • Efficiency versus effectiveness (34:17)
  • Life after Dirty Jobs (38:24)

Work Smart, Not Hard

The 3:20 mark discusses this higher education ad campaign thrust upon Rowe by Mr. Dunbar, high school guidance counselor

Picking up at the 7:50 mark ...

Gillespie: When did the idea disappear that you should learn a skill that is actually useful or in need?
Rowe: That's a good question for a real social anthropologist. My own opinion is there is a kind of inertia that most parents would agree that it exists. And it's  a desire see something better for your kids than you had. The question of course is "what is better?" Is it better, right now today, to have $140,000 in debt but a degree from Georgetown, or is it better to be that kid I described in Butler.

It's an excellent interview, please listen to at least a portion of it.

My Take

  1. At the right price, college may be a good choice, but it's not always a good choice. 
  2. Government interference in education has so increased the cost of education, and so many kids are pushed into totally useless degrees, that college is an increasingly poor choice until costs come down. 
  3. Points one and two especially hold true for those in programs that qualify a person to do nothing but work as a retail clerk upon graduation.
  4. To help bring down education costs, we need more alternative courses, more two-year trade courses, more online courses, reduced administration costs, and termination of defined benefit pension plans for teachers. Simply put, we need more competition and reduced costs at every point in the system.
  5. The student loan program is an abysmal failure and should be abolished.

Italy's "Pitchfork Protests" Spread to Rome; Interior Minister Warns of "Drift Into Rebellion"

Over the past four days "pitchfork protests" have spread to numerous cities, disrupting road and rail travel in protest of the state of the economy.

The pitchfork movement started with a loose group of Sicilian farmers concerned about rising taxes and cuts to agricultural state funds, then evolved into a nationwide umbrella grouping of truckers, small businessman, the unemployed, low-paid workers, rightwing extremists and ultras football supporters according to IBTimes.

Map of Major Protests

Map courtesy of Stratfor.

Pitchfork Protests Spread to Rome

Reuters reports Italy's 'pitchfork protests,' in fourth day, spread to Rome.
Italy's "pitchfork" protests spread to Rome on Thursday when hundreds of students clashed with police and threw firecrackers outside a university where government ministers were attending a conference.

Truckers, small businessmen, the unemployed, students and low-paid workers have staged four days of rallies in cities from Turin in the north to Sicily in the south in the name of the "pitchfork" movement, originally a loosely organized group of farmers from Sicily.
"There are millions of us and we are growing by the hour. This government has to go," said Danilo Calvani, a farmer who has emerged as one of the leader of the protests.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told parliament the unrest could "lead to a spiral of rebellion against national and European institutions."

The protests are fuelled by falling incomes, unemployment above 12 percent and at a record 41 percent among people below 25, and graft and scandals among politicians widely seen as serving their own rather than the country's interests.

The protesters' precise aims remain vague beyond demanding the government be replaced and parliament dissolved. Targets range from tax collection agency Equitalia and high fuel prices to privileged elites and the euro.

Mario Borghezio, an outspoken Northern League member of the European Parliament, on Thursday used the protests to attack the euro and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi.

"The wind of revolt that is blowing in Italy today is the direct result of the euro and the wrong choices made by the EU and the ECB," he said during the ECB chief's testimony to the European Parliament.

'Pitchfork' Protests Rattle Italian Government

The BBC reports 'Pitchfork' Protests Rattle Italian Government
First it was the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, led by charismatic comedian Beppe Grillo, that shook up Italy's political landscape.

Now a new populist movement headed by disgruntled farmers and lorry drivers has taken its anti-austerity message to Italy's streets and squares.

The past week has seen four days of rallies and protest actions across the country by the Forconi, or "Pitchforks". The name derives from the movement's roots among struggling farmers in Sicily, who in 2011 and 2012 staged strikes and roadblocks to demand more help from the government.

The loose-knit grouping has expanded nationwide and has drawn in a variety of groups who have suffered badly as Italy's economic crisis has dragged on. The protesters include road hauliers, small businessmen, low-paid workers, the unemployed and students.

Some of the protesters complain of excessive state regulation and are unhappy about austerity-driven tax hikes. Others have denounced capitalism and the euro.

All seem to be united in their contempt for Italy's politicians, who are accused of failing to address the country's grave economic problems.

'Drift into rebellion'

The Italian government on Thursday expressed its concern and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano warned of the danger of a "drift into rebellion" by the movement. He spoke of the protests drawing in elements bent on violence.
Beppe Grillo Urges Police to Join Movement

Reuters reports Italy's Grillo urges police to join "pitchfork" protests
The head of Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement Beppe Grillo urged police on Tuesday to join protesters as a wave of "pitchfork" protests gave vent to bitter frustration after years of austerity and recession.

Grillo, whose movement has no direct connection with the protests, welcomed reports that several police officers took off their riot helmets and expressed sympathy with demonstrators on Monday.

"Italians are on your side. Join them. At the next demonstrations, tell your guys to take off their helmets and fraternize with the citizens," he wrote on his popular blog. "It will be an extreme, peaceful and revolutionary signal and Italy will change," he wrote.

Though there are no direct ties to Grillo's movement, both tap into the growing anger in many parts of Italy after the worst recession in postwar history.

Letta has warned repeatedly that opposition to the government and the EU is growing strongly, fuelled by sacrifices needed to keep public finances in order and which could result in a massive anti-EU vote in next year's European parliamentary elections.
Eventually, Will Come a Time When ....

I repeat once again my 2011 message Eventually, Will Come a Time When ....

Eventually, there will come a time when a populist office-seeker will stand before the voters, hold up a copy of the EU treaty and (correctly) declare all the "bail out" debt foisted on their country to be null and void. That person will be elected.

Greece, Finland, Germany, Belgium, and even France are possibilities. All it will take, is for one charismatic person, timing social mood correctly, to say precisely one right thing at exactly the right time. It will happen.

Shop Online and Save Money

When we shop, we want the best product for the lowest price. One way to save money on your purchases is to look at online shops. Often, online shops can deliver your products at a very competitive price. But there are some things you should do before making your first online purchase.

Many online shops are cheap, because they can run a more efficient business online than offline. Therefore they can offer lower prices. But they are businesses, too. They want to get as high a price as possible. It is your job to find out if they are worth shopping with or if you have better options in another shop. You have to make a comparison of the price with different shops, to find out which one is really cheapest.

When you compare prices, there are especially two factors you have to focus on. First of all, you should pay attention to make sure you are comparing the same brand or quality. Some companies will make items that look or sound just like a well-respected brand. That way, they can take advantage of the good name of the brand company. If you shop on an international website, you should also be aware that some identical products will be slightly differently packed in various countries, making them seem like different products although they are the same. The only way to be absolutely certain if it is the genuine product is to contact the producer and ask if they do business with the shop you want to shop at.

Secondly, you should make sure you compare the offers for the same quantity of the product. If they are not sold in the same quantity you will have to calculate the price for the same quantity. It could be useful to calculate the unit cost of each product. When you do these calculations, remember to include shipping. Some companies will charge a high shipping expense while others deliver free of charge. Of course you should also consider if you can buy the number of units you need, or if you have to buy larger quantities.

Before you do your shopping, there is one more thing that is necessary to do when you shop online. You need to check the online shop to find out if they deliver on their promises. Today it is very easy to set up an online shop, so anybody can do it. This opens the door for some dishonest people. You can do this check by doing a search on them or by going to an independent review site and seeing what their customers think of their experiences with the shop.

Once you have found the shop with the best offer for you, you can make your purchases. But, just as in any other shop, you have to make sure you only buy what you need and don't fall for the temptation to buy more than you need, just because the products are cheap. If you do buy too much, you haven't really had any benefit from the good prices, but if you don't, you will soon experience how much extra money you suddenly have. Especially if you make sure to use these extra savings to pay back your loans or deposit them into a savings account.

Does the US Have Enough Military Bases?

Thursday, December 12, 2013
Inquiring minds might be interested in the analysis of artist Josh Begley who catalogs every U.S. military base in the world. Here is a representation.

Gizmodo comments on the Chilling Geometry of Every US Military Base Seen From Space.
The United States military is everywhere. It's so big that it's hard to quantify just how massive it is—any number used to describe it is so large that it defies the understanding of an ordinary human brain.

A self-described "data artist," Begley has started an ongoing effort to collect satellite imagery from every U.S. military installation in the world. The initial map, parked at Empire.is, collects all of the data listed in the Department of Defense's 2013 Base Structure Report. The official report doesn't include the military's secret bases, though, so Begley has included others that have been unearthed—and he encourages people to submit information for others that he's missing.

The resulting collection is mind-boggling. At the top, there's a zoomable world map with all of the installations plotted. Keep zooming in, and eventually the map will reveal the satellite imagery for each location, assuming it exists. As Begley points out, plenty of sites have been censored from public view.
Mapping the United States Military Footprint

Please consider Mapping the United States Military Footprint on Google Maps Mania (an unofficial Google Maps blog tracking the websites, mashups and tools being influenced by Google Maps).
The United States has well over 700 military bases across the planet with official facilities in at least 37 countries. Empire.is is a map showing the location of United States military installations, not only in the US but around the world.

As well as mapping known United States military installations Empire.es also provides aerial imagery of a large number of the bases, sourced from Google and Bing Maps.

The data for the military locations is from the 2013 Base Structure Report and from sites reported by journalists and geographers. The author of the map says that there are still many military bases missing from the map.

Image from Empire.Is 


  1. Given that any satellite can pick up this information, is there any rational reason to have "secret bases"?
  2. Is any base really a secret?
  3. Would US security be hampered if 25% of the bases were shut down? 50%? 80%?

The answers are 1-no, 2-no, 3-no, no, no.

The Ease And Convenience That You Can Get With A Credit Card

Credit cards are no longer some sort of luxury but a reality of modern life. Not so long ago, these cards were a sign of richness, but the situation has changed since then. More and more banks willingly provide their customers with credit cards. More and more people can take advantage of these cards. But how does a credit card work? When you use your credit card in a store, restaurant, etc. you do not spend your own money. You spend your bank’s money instead. If you are able to return your debt in a short time, the interest will not be taken. Most often, a credit card is a plastic card with a ferromagnetic strip bearing the name of its owner, a cipher, a sample signature, and a number of the personal bank account.

The first credit cards were introduced in the early 50s. They were called the Diners Club cards. The opportunity to pay by credit card attracted many people. That’s how Visa and MasterCard, the world-known international payment systems, appeared on the market. These two payment systems support plastic cards emitted by different banks. For the average user, the difference between Visa and MasterCard is insignificant. Still, it is advisable to pay attention to the fact that the MasterCard payment system works with Euro in the countries and territories of the European Union. However, even in these countries, Visa’s internal accounting currency is U.S. dollar.

Almost all major banks work with the credit cards these days. It is very difficult to distinguish a true leader in this field, because even the most reliable banks have their weak sides. These banks can offer you a credit card, but you should still be aware of all the pitfalls of using a credit card. First of all, you should be aware of the hidden commission. As soon as you have decided to get a new credit card, you must begin with searching for the most reliable bank. At this stage, it is necessary to consider several criteria. Naturally, you will want to work with the bank which offers the lowest annual interest rates. But even if the rates are very low, you should understand that the bank may charge a fixed rate for the credit card service. Some banks make even better deals. They offer 0% rates for a short period. The longer this period, the better, but it is still necessary to pay attention to the maintenance costs.

When choosing among credit cards, it is advisable to take into account your local stores, super markets, and the network of ATMs. The best way to select a bank is to choose the one which has an office next to your place of residence. The same is true for the credit and debit cards. It will be very difficult to use your credit card if there is no ATM anywhere around you. Fortunately, you can spot all ATM networks on your city map. Banks always provide their clients with the most detailed maps.

Bank of Japan Vows to Stick with Easy Money Policy; If It Doesn't Work, Do More of It

The massive number of Yen shorts may be a caution signal, but fundamentally, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe is out of his mind with his inflation policies.

Abe hijacked the Bank of Japan with policy appointments under his influence and now the BoJ vows to stick with easy money policy even though over 100% of the recorded inflation is due to the declining yen, not higher wages as Abe wants.

The Financial Times reports Bank of Japan Vows to Stick with Easy Money Policy.
The Bank of Japan will keep its highly expansionary monetary policy in place until inflation hits and stabilises at its 2 per cent target, the central bank’s governor said on Thursday, adding it would take more easing measures if price rises flagged.

“We intend to achieve the 2 per cent inflation target and maintain that in a stable manner,” Haruhiko Kuroda told the Financial Times, suggesting ultra-easy money could remain

“It’s not good just to touch on 2 per cent inflation and then go down to 1 per cent or less than 1 per cent.”in place well beyond the two-year timeframe the BoJ has given itself to reach the goal.

Since his appointment by Mr Abe this spring, Mr Kuroda has committed the BoJ to buying some Y50tn of Japanese government bonds a year – a far more aggressive policy than his predecessors’ and enough to double the country’s monetary base by the end of next year.

Yet sceptics have noted that much of the inflation generated has been the result of a steep fall in the value of the yen, which has pushed up the cost of imports, most notably oil and gas.

Mr Kuroda, a former finance ministry official, reiterated his support for tighter fiscal policy to rein in Japan’s huge government debt, which is approaching two and a half years’ economic output. He reiterated his support for a planned doubling of the national sales tax, to 10 per cent by 2015, and said further tax rises or spending cuts would be needed to meet a goal of eliminating the deficit, minus interest payments, by 2020.
Arrogance, Incompetence

It is a sign of arrogance as well as incompetence to believe desires take precedence over reality. And with Abe's appointments, the bank of Japan is clearly way out of control.

Doubling taxes in a recession is insane. Supposedly Abe will make up for it with fiscal stimulus.

But even if Japan allocated 100% of tax revenues to stimulus, a fundamental economic point is governments do not spend money wisely.

Forcing down interest rates harms those on fixed income. And given Japan's huge demographic problem, spending money on more infrastructure (or whatever else Abe wants to spend the stimulus on) is a pure waste of money.

Those on fixed income actually welcome falling prices, but Abe wants them higher. So far, Abe's trashing of the Yen has prices has translated into higher energy costs and food costs, not wage hikes that Abe wants.

Is he concerned? Apparently not. Abe's policy (as with most politicians) is "If It Doesn't Work, Do More of It".

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Spain's Catalonia Region to Hold "Independence Referendum" November 2014; Madrid Vows to Block Vote; Independencia!

Political anxiety is heating up in Spain. In a direct challenge to Spain's central government the Wall Street Journal reports Catalonia Political Parties Agree to Hold Independence Referendum.
Political leaders in Spain's wealthy Catalonia region set Nov. 9, 2014 as a date for a referendum on declaring independence from Spain, but the national government immediately said it would move to block such a vote as unconstitutional.

The latest announcement from Catalonia, which has long chafed under what it calls economic and cultural dominance from Madrid, sets Spain's leading industrial region on a collision course with the central government, with enormous stakes for both sides and an outcome that is difficult to predict.

Catalan regional leader Artur Mas said on Thursday that major political parties had agreed on the wording of a two-part question to be put on a ballot next November. The first part is: "Do you want Catalonia to be a State?" The second part is: "Do you want Catalonia to be an independent State?" Mr. Mas, who had pledged the referendum after elections last year, said the question was "inclusive, and at the same time clear and concrete." He added that there would be more details in coming days on how the vote would be conducted. 

Recent polls indicate that around 80% of Catalonia's 7.5 million citizens favor a referendum. Some polls show a much narrower majority favoring independence, though how the question is phrased has an important bearing on the results.

Strains have long existed between Madrid and Catalonia, the country's leading export region, which has a distinctive language and culture.

But the economic crisis that has battered Spain since 2008 has further frayed the relationship, with Catalans complaining they pay much more in taxes than they receive in investments. Some 43 cents of every euro Catalonia pays in taxes doesn't come home, according to data compiled by the Catalan government. Another factor fueling Catalan discontent was a move by Spanish courts in 2010 to strike down key parts of a statute that would have given more autonomy to Catalonia.

This past Sept. 11, a regional holiday in Catalonia, more than a million pro-independence activists showed their strength by turning out to form a 250-mile human chain running the length of the region.

Activists calling for the independence of Catalonia, currently a region of Spain, take part in a 'human chain' during a protest on Wednesday. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images


Here's an interesting image from International Business Times.

Spain to Block Poll

ABC News reports Spain to Block Independence Poll
The president of Spain's regional government of Catalonia said Thursday he wants to hold an independence referendum on Nov. 9, 2014, but the Spanish government immediately said no.

Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz Gallardon responded to Mas' announcement, saying a referendum would be illegal and would not be allowed.

Spain's Constitution says only the central government in Madrid can call a referendum, and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy recently rejected a request by Mas to allow one. The government has not said what it might do to prevent a ballot.

Mas said the referendum date was set almost a year away so as to give ample time for negotiations with Madrid on "the way to stage the consultation legally."

Scotland is staging an independence referendum next year, on Sept. 18. That vote has been approved by the British government.

Mas began pushing for a referendum after he failed to clinch a better financial pact for Catalonia with the central government in 2012. The referendum proposal got the support of some 1 million people who turned out at two demonstrations held since then.

The possibility of a region having the right to decide its future has stirred much political debate and raised questions as to whether it is time to reform the 1978 Constitution to ease territorial discontent. The Basque region, which has traditionally sought greater powers, failed in a bid to hold a self-determination referendum several years ago.

Catalonia is one of the country's most powerful regions and represents roughly a fifth of Spain's 1.1 trillion euro ($1.5 trillion) GDP. Its population of 7.5 million is greater than those of EU members such as Denmark, Ireland or Finland.

Spain has 17 regions, each with substantial autonomy but with no control over key areas such as defense, foreign affairs, ports and airports, and in the making of national economic and financial decisions.

Will the central government send in troops to block the vote? If so, how much economic and social damage would that cause?

It's difficult to say precisely what will happen, but things are heating up politically to go along with huge economic strife in Spain.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Moody's Puts Puerto Rico on Downgrade to Junk Review Citing Very High Debt, Pension Obligations, Chronic Deficits; Exodus Underway

Deficit spending and untenable pension obligations frequently go together, and always cause problems when they do.

Coupled with a buildup of debt, and a very bloated public sector (which also go hand-in-hand) Puerto Rico is about to fall to junk level.

Please consider Moody's puts Puerto Rico on review for downgrade.
Citing Puerto Rico's weak finances and economy, Moody's Investors Service put the commonwealth's general obligation rating of Baa3, the company's lowest investment grade rating, on review for downgrade on Wednesday.

Moody's also placed ratings capped by or linked to Puerto Rico's general obligation rating on review, including the Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corporation's senior and junior lien bonds.

The moves affect approximately $52 billion of rated debt, the rating agency said in a statement.

Moody's said it is concerned about Puerto Rico's "weakening liquidity, increasing reliance on external short-term debt, and constrained market access, within the context of a weakened and now sluggish economy."

"These developments exacerbate the longstanding financial strain brought by the commonwealth's very high debt load and pension obligations, as well as its chronic budget deficits," Moody's said.

A major issuer of municipal bonds, Puerto Rico has been in or near recession for eight years. It has suffered from a loss of U.S. federal government economic support, spending cuts by its own government, high oil prices and population decline.
Exodus Underway

The Washington Post reports Puerto Rico confronts a rising economic misery.
Boxes and wooden crates filled with household items bound for the U.S. mainland are stacked high in the Rosa del Monte moving company’s cavernous warehouse, evidence of the historic rush of people abandoning this beautiful island.

Puerto Rico lost 54,000 residents — 1.5 percent of its population — between 2010 and 2012 alone. Since recession struck in 2006, the population has shrunk by more than 138,000 to 3.7 million, with the vast majority of the outflow headed to the mainland.

And while government workers make up about a quarter of the commonwealth’s workforce — much higher than the U.S. average of 16 percent — their ranks are shrinking as the pervasive debt and economic problems careen toward a reckoning. Now, just over 41 percent of working-age Puerto Ricans are in a job or even looking for one.

As work has disappeared, more Puerto Ricans have relied on the government to survive: About a third of the commonwealth’s population relies on food stamps, and residents of the island are twice as likely as those on the mainland to receive Social Security disability benefits, according to researchers.
Puerto Rico Unemployment Rate

Expect Default

On December 1, in Puerto Rico the Next Detroit? I said ...
Puerto Rico has been in recession for 8 years. The unemployment rate is 15% and debt has piled up to the tune of $70 billion. How did Puerto Rico get into trouble? The short answer is the same way as Detroit: loss of industry coupled with lavish pensions.

Job flight, high crime rates, and huge pension woes in Puerto Rico seem similar to the problems in Detroit. However, there is no constitutional provision that allows US states and Commonwealths to declare bankruptcy.

Compounding the problem, Puerto Rico passed a massive set of tax hikes including corporate taxes, a broadened sales tax and a new gross receipts levy, hoping to get its budget under control. Given that tax hikes in the middle of a recession are about the worst possible choice, the situation is ominous.

So how is Puerto Rico's debt going to be paid back? The answer is it won't. Although, bankruptcy is out of the question, nothing can stop a default except a bailout by the US. Given that handouts from this Republican Congress are unlikely, look for Puerto Rico to default.
Puerto Rico is Toast

Of $70 billion in debt, $52 billion is subject to a downgrade to junk status. The rest may not even be rated.

A close friend with ties to the region writes ...
Those leaving are predominantly from the upper end of society, as they see opportunity melting away and fear a dead end for their children. Upper middle class Puerto Ricans are educated, speak English, and are absolutely free to move to the US and find jobs. As you noted, the upper 40% pay 106% of the taxes. So the exodus is obliterating the tax base. The feds don't want a run out of Puerto Rico.

But ultimately, the feds will have to step in, Republican Congress or not. The same policy that makes it completely easy for Puerto Ricans to move to the US means that if a panicked "run out of Puerto Rico" starts, it will be a smoking ruin. That would be extremely harmful to US foreign policy.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Introducing the Knightscope K5 Security Robot, Effective Cost $6.25 per Hour

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Knightscope Inc. has introduced a crime-fighting R2D2 look-alike robot with an effective cost of $6.25 per hour.
Silicon Valley startup Knightscope Inc. is developing an "Autonomous Data Machine" with the potential to perform the oftentimes monotonous task of keeping watch over property more cost effectively and comprehensively than a human security guard. The company today revealed it has already started securing beta customers for its first two models, the Knightscope K5 and K10.

The robots, which share a passing resemblance to R2-D2, collect real-time data via a network of sensors. These sensors can include a 360-degree high definition video camera, high quality microphones, thermal imaging sensor, infrared sensor, radar, lidar, ultrasonic speed and distance sensors, air quality sensor, and optical character recognition technology for scanning things like license plates.

Knightscope says the K10 model is intended for vast open areas and on private roads, while the K5 robot is better suited to more space-constrained environments.
K5 vs. R2D2

K5 Closeup

Effective Cost $6.25 per Hour

Bloomberg reports Crime-Fighting Robotic Guard... for $6.25 an Hour

Above video: Knightscope CEO Bill Santana Li discusses the company's security robots with Emily Chang on Bloomberg Television's "Bloomberg West."

K5 ready for prime time yet? Perhaps not, but they do have a dozen beta customers lined up. Regardless, this introduction is an indication of where things are headed.

The most impressive thing to me is the company just started in April. Look at what they have done in a short time. The Knightscope Team Bio is impressive.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Rich Don't Pay Most of the Taxes (They Pay All of Them); Reflections on the "Almost Rich"

Counting transfer payments such as foods stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, and other government welfare, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis shows the top 40% pay 106% of all taxes (more than all of them). In turn the bottom 60% get money back.

Please consider The rich do not pay the most taxes, they pay ALL the taxes by CNBC reporter Jane Wells.

Buried inside a Congressional Budget Office report this week was this nugget: when it comes to individual income taxes, the top 40 percent of wage earners in America pay 106 percent of the taxes. The bottom 40 percent...pay negative 9 percent.

The key table is in Box 1 on PDF page 11 (report page 7) of Distribution of Household Income and Taxes. The report was released in December 2013 but data is for 2010.

Highlighting is mine.

Key Facts

  • The bottom 20% had average income of $8,100 but received $22,700 in annual assistance, netting $30,800 in after-tax income.
  • The second quintile had average income of $30,700 but received $15,200 in annual assistance, netting $43,400 in after-tax income.
  • The middle quintile received a bit more than they paid out, with $2,600 in annual assistance to be precise.

That money had to come from somewhere, and it did.

  • The highest quintile paid $52,500 more in taxes each year than they got back.
  • The second-highest quintile paid $8,800 more in taxes each than they got back.

Wells concludes ...

Fair or not, I will let you be the judge. People who make more should pay more, generally speaking. In America, they are. Yes, the rich (and almost rich) are getting richer. When it comes to individual income taxes, they're also covering the entire bill. And leaving a tip.

Reflections on the "Almost Rich"

I would be hard-pressed to call the fourth quintile "almost rich". And I rather doubt they are getting much, if any richer, inflation-adjusted.

The benefits to this recovery are concentrated in the top 10%, with most of that in the top 1%. Thank the Fed for that outcome.

For further discussion, please see ...

Regardless of who you think is to blame for rising income inequality, the report sheds a great deal of light on where tax dollars are coming from, and where they go.

Fair is in the eyes of the beholder.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

High-Powered Idiocy from Academic Wonderland; Three Reasons Banks Not Lending; Blinder is Blind

Alan Blinder, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, is back at it.

In an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal, Blinder says "Don't only drop the interest rate paid on banks' excess reserves, charge them."

Please consider The Fed Plan to Revive High-Powered Money.
Unless you are part of the tiny portion of humanity that dotes on every utterance of the Federal Open Market Committee, you probably missed an important statement regarding the arcane world of "excess reserves" buried deep in the minutes of its Oct. 29-30 policy meeting. It reads: "[M]ost participants thought that a reduction by the Board of Governors in the interest rate paid on excess reserves could be worth considering at some stage."

As perhaps the longest-running promoter of reducing the interest paid on excess reserves, even turning the rate negative, I can assure you that those buried words were momentous. The Fed is famously given to understatement. So when it says that "most" members of its policy committee think a change "could be worth considering," that's almost like saying they love the idea. That's news because they haven't loved it before.

Not long ago—say, until Lehman Brothers failed in September 2008—banks held virtually no excess reserves because idle cash earned them nothing. But today they hold a whopping $2.5 trillion in excess reserves, on which the Fed pays them an interest rate of 25 basis points—for an annual total of about $6.25 billion. That 25 basis points, what the Fed calls the IOER (interest on excess reserves), is the issue.

Unlike the Fed's main policy tool, the federal-funds rate, the IOER is not market-determined. It's completely controlled by the Fed. So instead of paying banks to hold all those excess reserves, it could charge banks a small fee, i.e., a negative interest rate, for the privilege.

At this point, you're probably thinking: "Wait. If the Fed charged banks rather than paid them, wouldn't bankers shun excess reserves?"

If the Fed turned the IOER negative, banks would hold fewer excess reserves, maybe a lot fewer. They'd find other uses for the money. One such use would be buying short-term securities. Another would probably be lending more, which is what we want.
Initial Thoughts

For starters, my first thought was not "Wait. If the Fed charged banks rather than paid them, wouldn't bankers shun excess reserves?"

Banks are not holding excess reserves because the Fed pays them 0.25% interest annually. Banks are holding excess reserves in spite of the fact the Fed pays them 0.25% interest annually!

The difference is huge. And the three-fold reason is simple.

Three Reasons Banks Not Lending

  1. Banks do not have credit-worthy customers.
  2. Credit-worthy customers do not want to borrow.
  3. Banks are capital impaired.

Is number 3 that unbelievable?

I think not. Banks still do not have to mark assets to market. What are they hiding?

Even if one assumes banks are not capital impaired, reasons 1 and 2 are sufficient enough to explain why banks are not lending.

Are Corporations Starved for Cash?

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) surveys businesses each month to see what their main issues are.

Loans are never high on the list. Here is the NFIB November 2013 report.

NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg explains ... “The year is not ending on a high note in the small-business sector of the economy. The ‘bifurcation’ continues with the stock market hitting record high levels, but  the small-business sector is showing little growth beyond that driven by population growth. There is also a hint that employers are getting an inkling of what Obamacare might mean for labor costs, concern about the cost and availability of insurance bumped up 3 percentage points after a long period of no real change. Small-business owners who provide health insurance may soon find that their plans ‘unacceptable’ to Obamacare and be obliged to either pay more for the coverage or abandon it and pay the benefit in cash. This will be a major source of angst and uncertainty in 2014.

Most Important Issues Facing Small Businesses


22% of small businesses complain about government red tape (which I presume includes Obamacare), 21% complain about taxes, and 15% complain about poor sales.

Only 2% of small businesses complain about financing.

Large corporations are flush with cash (debt really). They don't want or need to borrow either (but they are happy to keep rolling over debts at lower-and-lower interest rates).

Blinder is Blind

Those in academic wonderland are too blind to see what should be perfectly obvious: Banks would not accept a paltry 0.25% if they thought they had creditworthy customers willing to borrow.

And although creditworthy customers don't want to borrow, Blinder wants the Fed to force banks to lend anyway! To Whom? Banks can only do so by lending to non-creditworthy customers. How would that work out?

Let's step back and ask a simple question: Why are there excess reserves?

The simple answer: The Fed is printing money banks don't want or can't lend because banks are capital constrained or lack of creditworthy borrowers.

I am 100% in favor of not paying interest on alleged excess reserves but not for reasons stated by Blinder. Rather, I am in favor of unwinding every bit of QE madness that created the excess reserves in the first place.

Clear Signal

That Blinder wants to pay negative interest rates on excess reserves ought to send a signal to Blinder and others the Fed's QE policy was a failure (assuming one believes the Fed's stated reason for QE was to spur borrowing and job growth).

I believe the real reason for paying interest on reserves was a backdoor way of recapitalizing banks slowly over time. Regardless, the primary result of QE was the creation of bubbles in stocks and bonds.

It's time to end the monetary madness, not double down on it with extremely ill-conceived and poorly-written notions of forcing banks to lend.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Milk Futures Set to Double if Farm Bill Does Not Pass

Unless a farm bill passes by the end of the year, the crop subsidy program will revert to 1949 policies and the government would be required to stockpile milk until it reached $37.20 per hundred pounds. The current price is about $19.00.

Why our legislators would write ridiculous laws like this is totally beyond me, but they did.

The House wants to pass an extension to resolve the issues, but the Senate says no. So here we sit wondering if the price of milk is going to double.

Bloomberg reports Extension of Farm Subsidies Rebuffed by Senate Democrats
An extension of U.S. agriculture subsidies to late January was rebuffed yesterday by Senate Democrats, who said they won’t pass any House plan for temporary funding before Congress breaks for the holidays.

“We’re not going to do an extension,” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, told reporters. “If the House leadership would just stay through next week, like the Senate is staying, we would actually be able to get” a new five-year farm-policy bill, she said.

If Congress doesn’t act before year’s end, U.S. dairy support programs will revert to a 1949 statute that when fully implemented would double the wholesale price of milk.

The Agriculture Department hasn’t said when it could implement the law, which could take months. Lawmakers are reluctant to head home for the holidays to headlines about milk prices of $7-per-gallon in the new year.

Cuts to food stamps, along with changes to crop insurance programs and other farm aid, have been stumbling blocks as lawmakers seek to resolve differences in Senate and House versions of a reauthorization of agricultural programs.

The main effect of an extension to the end of January would be to allay fears of milk prices rising after Jan. 1, when dairy is the first crop program set to revert to the 1949 policies form the underlying language of all subsequent farm bills.

Under the law, the government would be required to stockpile milk until it reached $37.20 per hundred pounds, nearly double the current price of dairy futures traded in Chicago.

Other commodities, including corn and wheat, would see their programs revert to archaic programs later in the year.
I rather doubt it comes to this but stranger things have happened.

Lots of questions:

  • Why are food stamps tied to farm bills? 
  • Why do we have crop supports?
  • Why would legislators write bills that would revert to arcane 1949 provisions?

I propose the elimination of all price supports, elimination of all tariffs, and to make some common sense reforms to the food stamp program, but I expect none of that to happen.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

About That Illinois Pension "Fix"

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The highly touted Illinois plan to fix its pension system is largely hot air. I was waiting for details to prove just that and they came out today. Let's flashback to the initial claim.

A headline from six days ago reads Illinois lawmakers approve fix for $100b pension crisis
The Illinois Legislature approved a historic plan Tuesday to eliminate the state’s $100 billion pension shortfall, a vote that proponents described as critical to repairing the state’s deeply troubled finances but that faces the immediate threat of a legal challenge from labor unions.

The measure approved Tuesday emerged last week following negotiations by a bipartisan pension conference committee and then meetings of Illinois’ legislative leaders. They say it will save the state $160 billion over 30 years and fully fund the systems by 2044.

It would push back the retirement age for workers ages 45 and younger, on a sliding scale. The annual 3 percent cost-of-living increases for retirees would be replaced with a system that only provides the increases on a portion of benefits, based on how many years a beneficiary was in their job. Some workers would have the option of freezing their pension and starting a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.

Workers will contribute 1 percent less to their own retirement under the plan. Legislative leaders say they included that provision, as well as language that says the retirement systems may sue the state if it does not make its annual payments, in hopes of boosting the measure’s odds of surviving the unions’ anticipated court challenge.
Actuarially Unsound

Unions are opposed to the plan, as always, and will file lawsuits, as always. But the plan does not even work.

Via email, Jonathan Ingram, at the Illinois Policy Institute explains...
House Speaker Mike Madigan and proponents of the temporary pension “fix” enacted last week promised taxpayers that it would immediately reduce the state’s unfunded pension liability by about $20 billion. But despite these promises, the credit rating agencies have indicated that they would be waiting for actuarial analyses before making any decisions on how the new law will affect Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation credit rating.

They’re wise to wait. It turns out that somewhere between $6 billion and $8 billion of Madigan’s promised reduction is solely the result of accounting gimmicks.

Part of the “fix” Madigan’s bill offers is to eventually move to what’s called the “Entry Age Normal” cost method for calculating how much the state should be contributing to pensions each year. That’s actually a good idea. This new accounting method helps make the pension ramp a little less steep. It’s also required by the new pension accounting rules promulgated by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board.

But here’s the problem: switching to this new accounting method actually increases the state’s unfunded liability by approximately $6 billion to $8 billion in the short term, because it attempts to spread the costs over the course of employees’ careers, rather than having them backloaded like we do now.

So how do you make up for that increase when you’re trying to reduce the state’s unfunded liability? Do you incorporate more comprehensive reforms to get that debt under control? Not if you’re Madigan.

Instead of addressing that increase, the pension bill simply delays implementing the accounting change until fiscal year 2016. This means that the state gets to pretend that at least $6 billion to $8 billion of the pension debt simply doesn’t exist for now. But when the new rules take effect in 2016, that pension debt is added back to the books. Instead of cutting $20 billion off the unfunded liability as promised, it looks like Madigan’s bill only really cuts $12 billion to $14 billion.

Actuaries for the state’s largest pension system recommended against delaying the new accounting rules. As they noted, the gimmick is being used to “maximize the amount of liability reduction,” even though 25% to 35% of that liability reduction will be added back to the pension debt in just a few years.

The rating agencies have already begun cracking down on state and local governments for using gimmicks to paper over their true pension debt.

Are lawmakers seriously hoping they’ll overlook this one, especially when our own actuaries are highlighting it?
Pension Fight Could Create Deeper Hole

The Washington Post reports Ill. pension fight could create deeper fiscal hole
With the fight over solving Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension shortfall now headed to the courts, the financially troubled state faces a grim possibility: The plan could be tossed, and Illinois could wind up in an even deeper fiscal hole than the one it’s in now.

Legislative leaders, anticipating a legal challenge from public-employee unions once the landmark bill approved Tuesday is signed, went extra lengths to bolster the law’s odds in the courtroom — including an unusual three-page preamble to the legislation in which they lay out their case for cutting worker and retiree benefits.

But legal experts say those efforts could mean little in a state that provides some of the country’s stronger constitutional protections of pension benefits.

They point to Arizona as a possible warning sign. In 2012, a judge there said a law raising the employee contribution to pension benefits was illegal, and ordered the state to repay the money to workers — with interest.

Illinois, Michigan and Arizona are among the seven states that have clauses in their state constitutions that protect pension benefits, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. The others are Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana and New York.

Illinois and New York’s protections are considered to the strongest, however, because the language expressly states that it applies to current and future benefits.

A coalition of labor unions known as We Are One Illinois stated immediately after the bill passed that it will sue if Gov. Pat Quinn signs it, which the Chicago Democrat is expected to do as early as this week.

Quinn said he believes the legislation is constitutional and will ultimately be upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court.

“It is necessary for the economic good for the people of our state, and I think the court will see it that way,” he said.
Economic Good of the State

If Governor Quinn really wants to do something for the "economic good of the state" he can start by signing legislation that would ...

  1. End collective bargaining rights for Illinois public unions.
  2. Make Illinois a right-to-work state.
  3. Scrap prevailing wage laws.
  4. End defined benefit pension plans going forward.
  5. Lower taxes for the average citizen.
  6. Hike taxes on public union pension payments enough to make the system sound.

Plan Worth Fighting For

As long as there is going to be a court battle with the unions, you may as well go to court over a plan that will actually fix the system.

Illinois should figure pension liabilities at a reasonable rate of return, say the 30-year treasury rate. That would make the plan underfunding look far worse today, but so be it. The idea is sound.

Then after barring new entrants into the scheme, the state should hike taxes on pension recipients enough to make the system fully funded with no additional taxes on regular taxpayers.

I propose something along the lines of "taxing pension benefits above a specified amount at 80%, taken straight out of the check". The "specified amount" would be determined based on what it takes to make the system actuarially sound in a reasonable timeframe (say 15 years).

If you going to have a fight, make it a fight worthwhile.

As always, it's best to have a plan B. I propose a simple one: default on pension obligations above a certain level, but pay all other state obligations early to avoid bond market disruptions.

Public Unions Should Bear the Brunt of the Pain

Public unions (in conjunctions with pandering politicians) wrecked Detroit, and numerous cities in California and other states. Together they wrecked Illinois.

It's perfectly fair for unions to bear the brunt of the pain in working out a solution.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock