Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Future According to Bill Gates

Bill_Gates_June_2015You’d be hard-pressed to pick a well-known figure who is more involved in either the tech world or the world of philanthropy than Bill Gates. But what do tech and philanthropy have to do with each other? At the start of this year, Bill and Melinda celebrated fifteen years of running their foundation. Bill laid out some thoughts on the next fifteen years in a great video interview and also explained how his role in technology has informed his approach to philanthropy. As this year draws to a close, it’s a good time to look back on Gates’ thoughts. From health and agriculture to education and money, Gates seems passionate about the idea that advances in technology will provide the keys to unlocking a better future for the world.

A thread that runs throughout Gates’ entire vision is that of helping poorer countries to become self-sufficient rather than trying to apply bandages to their problems. At every turn, he seems committed to building lasting changes rather than just

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Give the Gift of Gold!

gift-card-of-goldSeason’s Greetings from your gold and silver providers at Anthem Vault, send gold to your loved ones via email for the holidays!

We are so excited to offer our customers an effective last-minute gift option for the holidays. One that will not only be exciting for those receiving it, but you can also rest easy knowing your loved one has begun or is continuing to protect their wealth from inflation.

Gold and silver are popular gifts all around the world. Jewelry, furniture, art, sculptures are given out each year during the holidays. Giving the gift of gold as a form of savings is no different. Christmas Day is right around the corner, and getting your physical gold and silver may be tough this late in the gifting game. However, you can easily send gold or silver via email to a loved one and show the appreciation you have for them in a few easy clicks.

It’s easy! And will surely put a smile on their faces!

Log in to your Anthem Vault account (if you haven’t signed up yet start here), in the righthand corner where it says “Buy Metal”, select the drop down menuScreen Shot 2015-12-21 at 10.57.09 AM and click “Buy Gift Certificate”. This will take you to a page where you can simply plug in your special person’s email and a special message, choose the amount of gold or silver you’d like to send and move forward with the payment process. It takes no time at all and will be a wonderful last minute gift that they will remember forever.

If you have any questions about your gift certificate, feel free to reach out to our support staff at support@anthemvault.com or call 1-855-428-2858. Happy Holidays to you and yours! May your holidays season be blessed with love, gratitude, and joy!

Anthem Vault has some wonderful products and services coming in 2016. Be on the look out for updates and if you haven’t joined our newsletter yet, now is the time! Sign up here – it’s free and informative…not to mention some awesome deals are released each month!

This easy gift of gold can be purchased year round at Anthem Vault. The option to purchase on Christmas morning is here! You don’t have to worry about not having a gift in time ever again! Same goes for birthdays, anniversaries, wedding gifts, and other special occasions. Give the gift of gold!

 

The Fed Finally Hikes Interest Rates – Is All Well?

Federal_ReserveThe Federal Reserve concluded its meeting this past Wednesday, choosing to increase their interest rate target by a quarter of a percentage point. The move was expected by the market because the Fed had been signaling it was planning on raising rates before the end of the year. Many market participants are cheering the move, saying it shows the Fed has confidence in the economic recovery and that things will be returning to normal. However, this is quite unlikely for a number of reasons that will be discussed below.

First the facts. The Federal Reserve increased the federal funds range from 0% to 0.25% (where it had been since December of 2008), to a higher range of 0.25% to 0.50%: essentially a quarter point increase. Yellen noted that the rate increase was due to the Fed’s confidence in the U.S. economy. The Fed’s projections put interest rates at a median 1.375% by the end of 2016, implying gradual rate hikes through next year.

I previously wrote that I did not expect the Fed to raise rates this year. So yes, I was off in this prediction since the Fed did sneak in a small increase right before year end! My logic was that the Fed currently had more to lose than to gain with a rate increase, given the risk of increasing rates into a recession or pricking the stock and bond bubbles. Conversely, the Fed didn’t face much pressure to increase rates, given that inflation is currently low, and if inflation did increase, it could be blamed on other factors.

I still think that is the case, which is why the Fed’s first increase is a very small one. What may have prompted the increase could be two factors. First, since the Fed has talked about (and repeatedly delayed) increases, they may have felt it necessary to finally have one, lest they lose all credibility. It was getting to the point that the market expected it so much, that if they backed out, it could have signaled that the Fed was not at all confident in the U.S. recovery, which might have sent panic through the economy.

Weathering Retail Sales

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Here in Denver, we were recently socked in by a winter storm for about 24 hours. It made for messy conditions for the morning and evening commutes. Meanwhile, the Colorado mountain communities were full of glee, reveling in snow powder that attracts ski and snowboard business.

As with ski resorts, it’s no secret among retailers that weather can have a profound effect on sales. Seasonal changes – as well as daily and weekly fluctuations – must be accounted for when making consumer sales projections. These ebbs and flows not only impact the type of items being sold, but also the manner in which consumers shop. For brick and mortar retailers, the good weather generally fuels business, generating an increase in foot traffic which leads to an uptick in sales. But inclement weather? Well, the results can be mixed.

 ‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly (for Retailers)

The first phase of the holiday season is now behind us, and it appears that shoppers were out in big numbers, according to the latest retail data from the National Retail Federation.

But warmer-than-normal weather patterns wreaked havoc for some stores who were hoping to capitalize on this the busiest shopping season of the year. A report from data analytics firm Planalytics shows that U.S. stores lost $185 million in November sales. This slide is largely attributed to an unusually warm weather pattern in the Midwest and along the East Coast. So far, this trend has continued into December, with outerwear sales plummeting over 30% in cities like Boston, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.

Netflix – Evolve or Die

NetflixStreaming platforms have become so popular that they are becoming bywords. Netflix has been the subject of numerous internet memes and is notorious on college campuses for its ability to distract students for hours on end. It’s pretty common to hear people recommend TV shows and then mention that they are available on Netflix, making the assumption that just about everyone has access to an account. Sites like Netflix seem to have become integrated into our popular culture.

I explained in a past article how streaming services can offer a convenient way of saving a little money on your media intake. This is one of many reasons people are starting to favor internet streaming over cable for watching their favorite shows. Streaming is also far more convenient in that it allows for control over one’s viewing experience; no more pandering to TV’s rigid schedule or flipping through channels endlessly to find that there’s simply nothing good on. Streaming allows viewers to watch what they want, when they want, and to watch as much of it as they want. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet of digital content which is a package that’s hard to beat.

Even as Netflix has reached meme status, its foothold could be slipping. In much the same way that Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services have undercut cable and started eating into that market as cheaper alternatives, Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV Stick are beginning to challenge the growth of streaming services by offering even cheaper options. It just goes to show that you should never get too comfortable, resting on your laurels. That’s why Netflix is currently working on implementing a couple of new plans to adapt to the competitive nature of the industry.

Undaunted by competition and potential threats, the streaming company has been gradually making the shift towards producing its own original content. Several recent Netflix original shows have reached mainstream popularity, and are well-loved by critics and fans alike. With sites like YouTube steadily increasing in popularity and viewership over the years, people generally seem more open to original content produced solely for the internet than they might have been just a few years ago. Netflix appears to be the first major streaming service to move in this direction, which could grant them the advantage of seniority.

Their tech people have also been working on new methods for encoding their content that could cut data usage and give them a little boost in speed and efficiency. If you are unfamiliar with the term, a layman’s explanation of encoding is that it’s the method used to store media as digital information that can then be transmitted. Currently, Netflix uses algorithms to choose bit rates at which to stream, based on their users’ connection speed. The new algorithms also take into account the complexity of the video being streamed. This means that content with lower complexity can be streamed at a higher quality than more complex content at the same bit rate. Streaming through Netflix with these encoding algorithms would be optimized for each individual piece of content as well as for network conditions, which should lead to a better streaming experience all around.

Only time will tell if Netflix’s moves to stay ahead will pay off. It’s hard to imagine that something as ubiquitous as Netflix could die off, but remember that MySpace was once relevant too. Netflix seems to be forward-thinking and hopeful, despite share prices that have been slipping.

Foibles of a Free Internet

adblock logoThe latest round in the battle for a free internet came last week when Yahoo opted to ban adblockers from Yahoo Mail. Users of the mail service who were running adblockers were barred from accessing their email and presented with a message telling them to disable the plugins in order to continue. Needless to say, this move wasn’t very well received, but this type of heavy-handed tactic didn’t come completely out of the blue. Companies like Yahoo are increasingly bemoaning the negative impact of adblockers on the viability of ad-supported free content models. Yahoo’s action even led tech news site Cio.com to declare the web as ‘broken’.

The internet is most certainly at an important crossroads. The free and open nature – that allowed it to blossom and become the vast network that forms the backbone of modern society – may be poised to undo itself. 

The greatest threat to the very principles that made the internet so revolutionary and disruptive are not external but internal.