Monthly Archives: December 2015

Google Eyes: A Window Into Your Health

google eye There are few things more important than our health and the medical advances that maintain us. In the last thirty years, the role of technology in medicine has been at the helm of health care breakthroughs. The tech giant Google unveiled plans in early 2014 to address the question

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2016: Take charge and #BeResponsible

fotolia_98074017It’s always a mind-numbing task to review the year that just passed, trying to piece together the puzzle of events – and 2015 was no different. From the investment side, precious metals had a slow and low year. Technology took some massive steps forward with the release of driverless car prototypes, ubiquitous Uber, a wide variety of drone applications, robots, 3D printers… the list goes on.

While technology has been punching away at the world’s troubles, ‘government’ has provided the endless background hum as we approach the 2016 elections. I won’t bore you with the details but amid heated talk of the war against ISIS, it is regulations and taxation that have continued their insidious influence, growing in reach akin to the way the money supply grows in such a speedy and unethical fashion. No, we aren’t here to remind you of the grim realities of the world; just to send some motivation and energy into your day-to-day life, and to ensure you are seizing each day and making it count!

We bring you the #BeResponsible campaign for 2016!

Responsible Resolutions

New-Year_Resolutions_listAs New Year’s Eve looms, people scramble to fit a few more events into the remainder of the dying year and begin making plans for next year. It is the season of New Year’s resolutions. If I’m honest, I’ve never been much for New Year’s resolutions. It seems that most people never end up keeping them anyway, and they often consist of wishful thinking and empty promises. But it doesn’t really have to be that way.

There’s nothing actually wrong with making a New Year’s resolution, and in many cases it could actually be a good thing. My cynicism comes from the past failures I have witnessed, but failure to keep resolutions does not make them illegitimate. So maybe instead of being cynical and pessimistic, or just plain lazy, this is the year to set realistic and responsible goals and then stick to them. Here are a few goals for being more responsible with your money for the coming year.

Save More Money

This is definitely not a very exciting resolution. Saving money takes restraint, patience, willpower and commitment. It can be hard not to touch your money when you know it’s sitting there just waiting to be used. Thinking too much in the present can make it hard to look towards the future.

Spending money comes naturally to most of us. We love things, and what is money for if not to buy stuff? There is a certain amount of truth to that statement, but saving money is about planning for tomorrow instead of blindly thinking only of today. It is perfectly fine to buy things, but it should be done with restraint. Having some wealth stored up for later on can make your life easier and more comfortable in the future. It can provide safety for unforeseen accidents or maybe even help you retire early.

Make Wise Investments

Making investments can also be seen as a way of saving money. One way to save in this way is to invest in gold or silver. Buying precious metals is a way to save money for the future that can offer a better store of value than just stashing your cash under the bed. Keeping your money stored in gold or silver will also keep you from recklessly spending it. It’s not like you can just get up and go to Walmart to purchase some toilet paper with a silver round.

Of course, there are many other ways to invest that actually offer you the chance to make a decent amount of money. That said, investing for profit is not for everybody. It takes a lot of know-how and can be big risk. If you are going to get into investing, you should do lots of research and make sure you really know what you are doing before making any decisions. As you know, many companies will offer their employees 401K or stock options. These are more accessible ways via which the average person can get a foot into the investing door.

These points are all pretty general, but I guess in the end it’s up to you to come up with the specifics. These may not be sexy resolutions, like losing ten pounds. And in fact, you might need to commit to these things for more than just a single year to see a real payoff, but they are goals worth setting. Making a commitment to wisely save money and make good investments should be at the top of everyone’s list with the start of each year.

Fun Board Games That Also Teach Economics

IMG_20141214_195354860_TOP_SMALLGetting bored over the holiday break, or need to kill time waiting for the New Year to arrive?  Board games provide a great diversion but if you are like me, you find some of the classic board games to be a bit dull. Fortunately, I have found a couple of games that are not only loads of fun to play, but also offer some great economic lessons.

When considering board games and economic you might think of Monopoly, since it deals in money, trading, mortgages and rent. But Monopoly is one of the worst games there is, both in terms of game design and the economic concepts taught.

Why Everyone Hates Monopoly

First, Monopoly is hated by many people who are regular game players. A popular board game ranking site, boardgamegeek.com, ranks Monopoly at 11,689 on its list, a few places behind games like Old Maid. Why? The game follows a tired sequence that gamers like to call the ‘roll your dice, move your mice’ mechanic, so most players are bored while it is not their turn. It also is a game where once one person gets the upper hand, everyone else must play out the game in despair with little hope of winning.

More importantly, Monopoly teaches bad economic concepts. Unlike real life, there are rarely any situations where people are forced to pay someone for a service they do not want or need. Yes, some real estate or hotels may be more expensive than we would like, but there are always alternatives, even more so now with the rise of services like Airbnb. Also, contrary to popular belief, while monopolies are a theoretical economic possibility, there have never been any monopolies in history that have actually succeeded.

China’s Alibaba: Should Amazon, eBay and Overstock Worry?

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 I’ve long been fascinated by what’s happening in the world of international commerce. My intrigue has grown considerably over the past week after a lunch with two new friends from China. Over dumplings, a spicy chicken dish and cabbage, we explored a cornucopia of topics from the future of Big Data to the emergence of the messaging platform WeChat. But the biggest discussion topic was the explosive success of a global e-commerce enterprise in China that few westerners have even heard of……

Alibaba.

Founded in 1999 during a time when less than 1% of China’s population was online, Alibaba has minted itself as the world’s largest e-commerce company with a customer base that exceeds that of Amazon. Back in 2014, the company made history by raising $25 billion – reputedly the largest IPO ever – exceeding that of Google, Facebook and Twitter combined!

Now comes word out of China that Alibaba endeavors to significantly expand its footprint worldwide after a stunning set of accomplishments in their home country. According to the book ‘Alibaba’s World: How A Remarkable Chinese Company Is Changing The Face Of Global Business’, the company currently has approximately 300 million customers, while facilitating over 80% of China’s e-commerce transactions. And this is in a country where per-capita income averages $6,800 per year, and only a quarter of their population has ever ventured into the world of online shopping.

Watch Out for Driverless Cars

Google's_Lexus_RX_450h_Self-Driving_CarFord has recently announced that they will begin testing driverless cars in 2016. If you haven’t been keeping up with the development of driverless cars, that may seem exciting. If you have been keeping up, you may be wondering what took Ford so long. The auto company is just one in a long string of companies that includes Google, Tesla, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Delphi, Bosch, Nissan and Cruise Automation, who which have all been test driving – or rather test-not-driving – their own autonomous vehicles around Palo Alto, California.

Ford had previously been working on driverless technology for a while, but this will be their first step toward trying out fully autonomous cars. The company has been testing their driverless tech at Mcity, a fake town designed specifically as a testing ground for autonomous vehicles by the University of Michigan. The town attempts to simulate a wide variety of realistic driving conditions that will put the cars through their paces.