Category: Money & Finance

China: Separating the Signal from the Noise

ChinaTo say the least, global financial markets are off to a bad start in the New Year. Given all of the headlines surrounding China, we thought we would give a market recap and try to untangle recent events, sorting out the clamor from the meaningful developments.

What’s Up With China?

The facts are easy to see. The Shanghai composite is now down almost 16%, only a few trading days into the New Year. Even the large-cap CSI 300 index is down 15%, signaling big outflows from China’s equity markets.

Chinese regulators tried to arrest the fall by implementing ‘circuit breakers’, similar to what is built in to American markets, where trading is halted for a time if stocks fall more than a certain percentage, and then closed for the rest of the day if they fall even more after reopening. The idea is to make everyone take a break and cool off in times of extreme volatility.

Chinese markets have been blowing up these circuit breakers. On January 4, markets lost 7%, triggering the circuit breaker and closing the market for the day. Then on Thursday, January 7, Chinese markets opened sharply lower in the first few minutes. The 5% drop triggered a 15-minute halt, but when trading resumed, the slide resumed as well, again triggering the 7% loss and market close for the day. Thursday’s trading day lasted only 29 minutes. 

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The Wu Wei of Responsible Budgeting

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 The New Year has arrived, and it promises untold opportunities for wealth-building! However, tapping into the storehouse of financial gain involves a responsible approach to budgeting. It requires a thorough assessment of how your inflow and outflow of money should ideally align. Most importantly, it demands a commitment to establish sound money practices; something  that is usually not high on our priority list.

Whenever I hear the word budget, it conjures up thoughts of an arduous and time-consuming process. Much of this is due to the fact that ‘money’ is imbued with all sorts of emotions and, at times, uncomfortable feelings.

In the Taoist tradition which I closely follow, there is a Chinese concept called ‘Wu Wei’ (pronounced ooooh way) that offers a poignant perspective in our quest for sound money management. It essentially means ‘non-doing’ or ‘effortless action’, a life course that is devoid of struggle or excessive effort. With practice, it enables an unconscious mental state which allows our actions to flow with the natural rhythms of life.

Below are three foundational pillars which embody the Wu Wei of budgeting responsibly. When pursued with awareness and small doses of focus, they can lead to higher levels of equilibrium between what we earn and what we spend.

Daily Practice

Ensuing from the simple practice of examining your budget are unconscious habits that make managing your money just like breathing. The key here is practice, engaging in this ritual on a regular basis to foster improvement. By way of example, an element of all championship sports teams is their commitment to practice, the absence of which would lead to mediocrity. Similarly, maintaining an effective budget involves preparation and looking at one’s history while also anticipating what’s ahead.

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.

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

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.