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. Keep reading…

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. Read More…

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 Read More…

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.

Read More…

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.Keep reading…