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Thursday, 29 July 2010

7 New Skills Every Worker Needs

Rick Newman

You're an expert at something? Hey, congratulations. Now, go become an expert at something else.

Most Americans striving to find or keep a job know the sensation: It's getting harder to get ahead, and the demands keep intensifying. Everybody knows how the recession destroyed wealth and derailed careers, leaving millions in a hole they're trying to dig out of. Now we're beginning to see some of the longer-term changes in the way Americans live and work. Some are distressing, but there's also plenty of hope for people who are industrious and willing to do what's necessary to succeed.

Unemployment is obviously far too high these days, and likely to stay that way for a couple of years at least. A prolonged "jobless recovery" is likely to depress incomes, spending, and living standards. But it's a mistake to assume that there are no good jobs or that Americans must consign themselves to inevitable decline. Despite a damaged economy, good jobs are emerging for people with the right qualifications. And it's an ineluctable fact of capitalism that wealth can be created by those who are shrewd, determined, or just plain lucky. Even now.

The catch is that success these days requires new skills and a degree of toughness that a lot of Americans lack. A recent survey of big companies by consulting firm Accenture, for example, found that the majority plan to hire over the next two years. But not like before. Like many individuals, firms fear that they're failing to keep up with technology and falling behind in a ruthlessly competitive marketplace. Only 15 percent of firms in the survey, for instance, felt that their workers have cutting-edge skills. That means they're interested in hiring talented workers who are able to give them an edge. But few companies plan across-the-board hiring to reverse the mass layoffs of the last three years. Instead, most firms plan targeted hiring to fill their most vital needs--while maintaining a lean payroll in case the economy turns south again.

Specific needs vary by company and industry, of course, but some key commonalities apply to many firms. Here are some of the attributes that workers will need to thrive in an austere economy:

Agility

When the recession hit, a lot of companies discovered that their workforce was poorly configured for a sharp downturn. Many big firms didn't know enough about their workers' skills to move people where they were needed, for example, so they ended up cutting staff by arbitrary percentages or axing whole departments. Then they realized that they had fired people they needed, along with others they could do without. Now, as companies rebuild, they intend to fix that problem. That means there will be fewer full-time hires and more temporary workers, even among managers and professionals. Companies will hire people for particular projects, for example, and maybe even offer some of the same benefits that full-time staffers get. But they'll also retain the ability to quickly downsize without the trauma and expense of a mass layoff. And they'll move people around more frequently, to best match workers' abilities with the company's needs.

Workers will have to get used to less predictable work, more turnover, and careers that could entail several different jobs and even different disciplines. Those who adjust to project-related work without a single, long-term employer could turn out to be appealing hires--and they might learn to enjoy the breaks between jobs. But those who complain about turbulence and insist on a stable, predictable career path could find that nobody's listening--or offering them a job.

Skill Combos

If you're good at one thing--but only one thing--companies might pass you by. In the Accenture survey, for example, companies said that sales, customer service, and finance were their most important functional areas. But lots of people have that kind of experience, and many of them are unemployed. The way to differentiate yourself--and land that job that 150 people applied for--is to develop and highlight two or three different skill sets, such as IT and strategic planning, or sales and logistics. That will make you more valuable to an employer, especially if they need to shuffle workers around. A 2009 study by consulting firm McKinsey found that the highest earners with the best overall prospects have a combination of valuable skills. That's especially true in global companies that need technical experts who are also good at managing the complexities of international supply chains or a dispersed staff. The more things you're good at, the more reasons you give a company to hire you.

Tacit Skills

Companies increasingly value intangible qualities that are hard to put on a resume, like informed intuition, judgment under pressure, ease with clients, and problem-solving abilities. These "tacit" or "cognitive" skills tend to come with experience, but they also accrue to people who seek additional responsibility, volunteer for tough assignments, and are willing to take risks. The McKinsey study, for instance, found "an increasing demand for tasks that require human skills complemented by technology." To build these kinds of skills, work with colleagues who seem to have them and volunteer for projects that will force you to learn new things. To highlight these intangibles for a potential employer, line up references from people who can attest to your tacit abilities and find concrete ways to emphasize how you've solved problems or achieved unconventional results.

A Broad Vision

You might be missing out on a good job simply because you're looking in the wrong field. Most people tend to look for work in the industry they're most familiar with, but with sharp downsizing in industries like construction, real estate, retail, and manufacturing, that can be self-defeating. Cathy Farley of Accenture recommends focusing on your skills--not your job or title--and exploring whether you can apply them in a different field. "If you did supply chain management in manufacturing, maybe look in healthcare," she says. "If you did project management in construction, that could apply in a corporate environment." Companies might even value the perspective of somebody who comes from a different discipline, but it's up to you to suggest the fit and explain why it might work.

Analytics

Whatever your field, chances are there are new data-gathering tools to help assess performance and identify opportunities. The explosion of computer programs and other tools for measuring sales, Web traffic, return on investment, and consumer behavior leaves little in business unexamined--including your own performance. In the past, analytics was often the job of data geeks poring over spreadsheets. But it's becoming everybody's job, and the more you know about your own performance or that of your division, the more likely you'll be able to improve it. Training involves the use of spreadsheets and various computer applications, offered through many companies, community colleges, and training centers. Or teach yourself.

Curiosity

It's not something you'd put on a resume, but an inquisitive mind can help inoculate you against the vicissitudes of a chronically tough job market. "Your greatest defense against what's happening is to be interested in a wide variety of things and be intrigued by things," says business guru Tom Peters, author of The Little Big Things and 14 other books. Curiosity, he says, "will lead you instinctively to talk to people you wouldn't ordinarily talk to, to go farther afield than you might think you should." That's the way to find opportunity, especially when many conventional paths to advancement have narrowed or closed.

Self-Reliance

It's becoming apparent that the big institutions that many Americans have relied on for the last 50 years--corporate America, banks, the government--won't be as supportive in the future. Those who adjust and become more entrepreneurial will be the winners. That means developing more technical skills instead of relying on others, making lots of backup plans, and building a big cushion in case something goes wrong. "Don't get too dependent on having total continuous employment," advises Peters. That way, if you end up out of work for a while, it might seem like more of a blessing than a curse. And you'll know what to do next.

The Last Gasp Bubble of Government.com

Todd Harrison

When I began writing ten years ago, I would offer that the opposite of love wasn't hate; it was apathy.

I shared that thought after tech stocks dropped 40% in less than two months and then recovered half those losses the next two months. We all know what happened next; the tech sector melted 70% the next few years.

Wash and rinse, Pete and repeat; we've seen that sequel again and again and again. From the homebuilders (real estate) to China to crude oil, a "new paradigm" arrived. Every time was different and each offered a fresh set of forward expectations that would finally prove historical precedents need not apply

I traded all of those bubbles thinking quite sure they would follow the path of false hope and empty promises paved by their predecessors. That proved true as the real estate market crashed, China imploded under the weight of the world, and crude crumbled just as it seemed ready to stake claim to the new world order.

Sisyphus Now!

While those bubbles hit home for many Americans, they're hardly unprecedented through a historical lens.

There was the tulip mania in 17th century Holland as Dutch collectors hoarded a hierarchy of flowers.

The Mississippi and South Sea bubbles of the 18th century emerged in the wake of Europe's dire economic condition.

The roaring twenties, fueled by an expansive use of leverage, led to the crash and Great Depression while not necessarily in that order.

And there's Japan, perhaps the most frequently referenced modern-day parallel of our current course. The land of the rising sun boasted one of the strongest economies on the planet before a prolonged period of deregulation, money supply growth, low interest rates, bad real estate bets, and "zaitech" (financial engineering) creating a virtuous cycle of speculative frenzy that ultimately collapsed the country.

Does any of this strike a chord?

If familiarity breeds contempt, the percolating societal acrimony shouldn't come as a shocker. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That most certainly applies to our financial fate but as with most journeys, the destination we arrive at pales in comparison to the path we take to get there. (See: What In the World is Going On?)

Our Federal Reserve chairman is a student of history and well versed on the passion and plight of financial excess. We've witnessed extraordinary stimuli intended to shift the natural course of the business cycle, one that long ago lost its way. While policymakers conceivably "saved" the system, the resulting imbalances pose a fresh set of issues for the global socioeconomic spectrum.

I've repeatedly offered that the financial crisis hasn't disappeared; it simply changed shape. It--for lack of a better analogy--has gone airborne, migrating from the tangible to the amorphous, from Wall Street to Main Street, from a distant coexistence to an emerging class war. It, like most viruses, will arrive in waves and infect those who haven't been inoculated with a steady stream of financial consciousness.

Gauge your internal reaction to every opinion you rear or hear, multiply it by millions and you'll begin to imagine the magnitude of the shifting social mood. While the recent stock market rally reflects renewed optimism that can conceivably continue the chasm between perception and reality is widening; while the tape can run, we, the people are running out of places to hide.

That's not to say we should lose hope, quite the contrary. The greatest opportunities are born from the most profound obstacles and this will again prove true. The trick to the trade and a pathway to prosperity won't be found by those wallowing in the "why," pointing fingers and placing blame; they'll be conceived by those proactively positioned, readily prepared and steadfastly aware of what lays in wait.

The leaders coming out of a crisis are rarely the same as those that entered it and the ability to add capacity into a downturn will define the winners on the other side. We must reward those who saved, incent those who are motivated and punish those who've transgressed. Until there is culpability for wayward decisions, there won't be motivation to change behavior and rebuild society from the inside out.

Therein lies the rub of our current course; innovation and entrepreneurialism are integral parts of the solution but many of those in a position to effect positive change don't have access to capital. While credit worthy borrowers may be a rare breed—and lowering those standards were the root of the problem—the obligations of many have muted the aspirations of most.

The Hot Tub Time Machine

I've maintained throughout our time together that the mother of all bubbles—debt— would be the final frontier before free market forces shocked asset classes back towards equilibrium. With total debt-to-GDP stretched towards 400%, we reached the zenith of that elasticity in 2008 and the system unwound with great vengeance and furious anger; the gig was up.

It's hard to say what would have happened if we let the market do what the market was in the process of doing. It could have created a domino effect that toppled corporate America from JPMorgan (JPM) to General Electric (GE) to Target (TGT) to Goldman Sachs (GS) to AT&T (T); the commercial paper market was frozen, payrolls would have halted and citizens may have taken to the streets to feed their families.

We're talking potential anarchy here and I'm not prone to hyperbole.

The alternative scenario—the one the created a chasm of discord throughout the land—was the evolution of the last gasp bubble, that of Government.com. $800 billion here, $1 trillion there, numbers so enormous they seem silly; the reality is they're anything but. (See: Will the EU Bailout Work?)

While we remain in the eye of the storm—the relative calm between the banking crisis and the cumulative comeuppance—a simple yet scary truth remains. We haven't cured the disease; we're simply masking the symptoms. (See: The Eye of the Financial Storm)

I will again remind you that the opposite of love isn't hate, its apathy. We've noted the lower volume during rallies and the higher traffic during the declines—a sign of distribution—but a simpler truth may be emerging, that of burnout. After four—or five, or six—bubbles and bursts, folks are both bitten and shy by the gamesmanship in the marketplace.

Perhaps that's a function of financial fatigue or maybe it's an intended consequence of the war on capitalism; to be honest, it's tough to tell. As the machines take over and the secular bear chews through victims, it's hard to blame the average American for wanting to walk away. (See: The War on Capitalism)

I'll simply say this; the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. While financial markets seem docile or worse, backstopped by the powers that be for the foreseeable future, the time to pay attention, remain engaged and prepare for what's to come has perhaps never been more acute.

Nothing contained in this article is intended as a solicitation for business of any kind or for investment in the firm.Sisyphus Now!

While those bubbles hit home for many Americans, they're hardly unprecedented through a historical lens.

There was the tulip mania in 17th century Holland as Dutch collectors hoarded a hierarchy of flowers.

The Mississippi and South Sea bubbles of the 18th century emerged in the wake of Europe's dire economic condition.

The roaring twenties, fueled by an expansive use of leverage, led to the crash and Great Depression while not necessarily in that order.

And there's Japan, perhaps the most frequently referenced modern-day parallel of our current course. The land of the rising sun boasted one of the strongest economies on the planet before a prolonged period of deregulation, money supply growth, low interest rates, bad real estate bets, and "zaitech" (financial engineering) creating a virtuous cycle of speculative frenzy that ultimately collapsed the country.

Does any of this strike a chord?

If familiarity breeds contempt, the percolating societal acrimony shouldn't come as a shocker. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That most certainly applies to our financial fate but as with most journeys, the destination we arrive at pales in comparison to the path we take to get there. (See: What In the World is Going On?)

Our Federal Reserve chairman is a student of history and well versed on the passion and plight of financial excess. We've witnessed extraordinary stimuli intended to shift the natural course of the business cycle, one that long ago lost its way. While policymakers conceivably "saved" the system, the resulting imbalances pose a fresh set of issues for the global socioeconomic spectrum.

I've repeatedly offered that the financial crisis hasn't disappeared; it simply changed shape. It--for lack of a better analogy--has gone airborne, migrating from the tangible to the amorphous, from Wall Street to Main Street, from a distant coexistence to an emerging class war. It, like most viruses, will arrive in waves and infect those who haven't been inoculated with a steady stream of financial consciousness.

Gauge your internal reaction to every opinion you rear or hear, multiply it by millions and you'll begin to imagine the magnitude of the shifting social mood. While the recent stock market rally reflects renewed optimism that can conceivably continue the chasm between perception and reality is widening; while the tape can run, we, the people are running out of places to hide.

That's not to say we should lose hope, quite the contrary. The greatest opportunities are born from the most profound obstacles and this will again prove true. The trick to the trade and a pathway to prosperity won't be found by those wallowing in the "why," pointing fingers and placing blame; they'll be conceived by those proactively positioned, readily prepared and steadfastly aware of what lays in wait.

The leaders coming out of a crisis are rarely the same as those that entered it and the ability to add capacity into a downturn will define the winners on the other side. We must reward those who saved, incent those who are motivated and punish those who've transgressed. Until there is culpability for wayward decisions, there won't be motivation to change behavior and rebuild society from the inside out.

Therein lies the rub of our current course; innovation and entrepreneurialism are integral parts of the solution but many of those in a position to effect positive change don't have access to capital. While credit worthy borrowers may be a rare breed—and lowering those standards were the root of the problem—the obligations of many have muted the aspirations of most.

The Hot Tub Time Machine

I've maintained throughout our time together that the mother of all bubbles—debt— would be the final frontier before free market forces shocked asset classes back towards equilibrium. With total debt-to-GDP stretched towards 400%, we reached the zenith of that elasticity in 2008 and the system unwound with great vengeance and furious anger; the gig was up.

It's hard to say what would have happened if we let the market do what the market was in the process of doing. It could have created a domino effect that toppled corporate America from JPMorgan (JPM) to General Electric (GE) to Target (TGT) to Goldman Sachs (GS) to AT&T (T); the commercial paper market was frozen, payrolls would have halted and citizens may have taken to the streets to feed their families.

We're talking potential anarchy here and I'm not prone to hyperbole.

The alternative scenario—the one the created a chasm of discord throughout the land—was the evolution of the last gasp bubble, that of Government.com. $800 billion here, $1 trillion there, numbers so enormous they seem silly; the reality is they're anything but. (See: Will the EU Bailout Work?)

While we remain in the eye of the storm—the relative calm between the banking crisis and the cumulative comeuppance—a simple yet scary truth remains. We haven't cured the disease; we're simply masking the symptoms. (See: The Eye of the Financial Storm)

I will again remind you that the opposite of love isn't hate, its apathy. We've noted the lower volume during rallies and the higher traffic during the declines—a sign of distribution—but a simpler truth may be emerging, that of burnout. After four—or five, or six—bubbles and bursts, folks are both bitten and shy by the gamesmanship in the marketplace.

Perhaps that's a function of financial fatigue or maybe it's an intended consequence of the war on capitalism; to be honest, it's tough to tell. As the machines take over and the secular bear chews through victims, it's hard to blame the average American for wanting to walk away.

I'll simply say this; the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. While financial markets seem docile or worse, backstopped by the powers that be for the foreseeable future, the time to pay attention, remain engaged and prepare for what's to come has perhaps never been more acute.

Nothing contained in this article is intended as a solicitation for business of any kind or for investment in the firm.

Do You Believe in Technicals or Fundamentals?

by Randall W. Forsyth

It's summer, the time for amusement parks and roller-coaster rides. So, too, it seems for the stock market as July is turning out to be fun after the second quarter's scary slide.

Key technical gauges of the stock market have begun to turn positive. The major stock market gauges have poked above their 200-day moving averages. The Dow Theory gave buy signal with the Industrials and Transports closing Monday above their June highs.

Richard Russell, the octogenarian publisher of the Dow Theory Letters, told his subscribers that he didn't expect a buy signal but they might as well buy some (NYSE: DIA - News) that track the DJIA "to get in on the fun."

But for himself, Russell wrote: "In view of my financial position and my age, I don't feel any urge to play the upside of this market, this despite the Dow Theory bullish signal. That fact is that at this stage of my life, risk vs.reward plays a very large part in my actions."

That's consistent with the advice from the doyenne of market analysis, Louise Yamada, offered here recently ("First, Protect Capital," July 23.) To repeat, she cites two kinds of losses, of opportunity—from sitting out a rally—or of capital. There always be future opportunities, but if you've lost capital you won't be able to take advantage of them.

Indeed, one leading fundamental strategist urges investors to resist the increasing bullish calls.

"We are at the most dangerous state in the Ice Age—the 'post-bubble' cycle," writes Albert Edwards of Society Generale.

"For although it is clear that leading indicators have turned downwards, the choir of sell-side sirens is singing its song of reassurance. The lesson from Japan was that once the cyclical rally is over, any downturn in the leading indicators should find you stuffing beeswax in your ears to block out the lilting melody so as to avoid the jagged rocks of recession."

Edwards's key thesis is that Western economies have entered an Ice Age of secular stagnation and deflation such as has gripped Japan for a decade. While there are significant differences, there are parallels in the unwinding of extreme equity valuations "in a post-credit bubble world."

Even so, Edwards contends that even a secular decline is punctuated by sharp but short-lived cyclical rallies that reverse as the transitory economic thaws end. Japan has seen 40%-50% tradeable pops in the Nikkei but the key always to get out as soon as leading indicators turned lower.

That's clearly happened in the Economic Cycle Research Institute weekly leading indicator, which is now in "recession" zone, according to Edwards, but also is a matter of heated debate. For its part, ECRI doesn't look for a double-dip but still a second-half slowdown.

And as I wrote in the Current Yield column in the print edition of Barron's this week ("Treasuries at Odds With Stocks", July 26) the ECRI weekly leading indicator may be overly influenced by mortgage applications.

But that is a counterpoint to the distortion of perhaps the best leading indicator—the slope of the yield curve—which in normal times would be pointing to a boom. These are anything but normal times, as evidenced by the Federal Reserve holding its federal-funds rate target near zero. Were that not the case, the yield curve would not be nearly so positive, either in its slope or in its implications for the economy.

Other leading indicators from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Conference Board are rolling over at "a far more moderate, reassuring pace." But one of Edwards's favorite leading indicators is the change in equity analysts' optimism. He finds the six-month change in the OECD leading indicator for the U.S. follows the analyst optimism closely (as measured by their upgrades as a percentage of all estimate changes.)

And the analysts' estimate changes have been sharply lower. While that's given corporations a lower hurdle to clear to beat forecasts, it points to weaker economic growth. Moreover, Edwards says "the current rate [his emphasis on the second derivative] of erosion of analyst optimism is consistent with a full-blown bear market.

What will become clear is the economy's underlying weakness. Real gross domestic product growth "of around 4% was hugely driven by the end of inventory liquidation and contrasts with the sub-2% rebound in final sales [GDP minus inventory change.]" That's with the biggest-ever peacetime stimulus, so "it doesn't take a genius to work out that as the stimulus ends (it doesn't even need to be reversed), we are going to see a slump in GDP growth."

Does that mean a double-dip? That's not crucial Edwards says bulls are missing an important nuance—it doesn't take a recession for the equity market to slump. Nominal final sales are "shockingly low," running at below normal recession levels, which help explain the revenue warnings during the current earnings season, he adds.

Whether you agree or not, Edwards can't be accused of being the two-handed economist so detested by Harry Truman.

"My view on the outlook could not be clearer. They may be wrong, but at least they are clear. We still call for sub-2% 10-year bond yields and equities below March 2009 lows."

So, enjoy the ride on the Dow technical roller-coaster. Just know when to get off.

Put Your Rally Caps Back On: 5 Reasons the Long-Term Bull Will Resume

by Brandon Rowley

"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."-Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds

The last time I wrote this quote it was May 2009 and I argued that the market had upside even after the 33% rally off lows in "So

Much for Shorting the Markets" (shameless reference I know). I wrote this article following an extraordinarily anomalous time and the opportunity was the once-in-a-decade type of opportunity. While we are far from those extreme circumstances, the equity market has just experienced a 17% correction from highs and we are now 9% off those lows. Many are wondering whether the bull market is back on or this is just a bear market rally. I believe we could be at another quality buying opportunity, not nearly the extreme of 2009, but a great chance to pick up stocks on a 10% discount. Below are my five reasons for being bullish:

1. Europe learned from the US crisis and made all the right moves.

The world has been in a rolling credit crisis for three years now. The deflationary collapse struck in the United States first causing an incredible drop in asset prices in late 2008. The government was fairly quick to respond to the massive demand-side slump. In fact, the government intervention was accomplished much earlier along in comparison to the Great Depression largely accounting for why another depression was avoided.

The $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) achieved major feats in restoring confidence in the banking system. Re-capitalizing major financial firms was the first step in stabilizing the collapsing equity markets and frozen credit markets.

European markets started to fall in mid-April as sovereign debt fears hit front page and calls for the complete collapse in the euro monetary union were abound as the euro was dropping from highs of over $1.50 to cracking $1.20 on the downside. The EU responded even more quickly than the US did with the TARP program. The playbook had already been written by the US, the EU borrowed the best plays and put them into action earlier and more effectively. The EU announced a debt aid package for €700 billion that quickly halted the euro's decline.

The next step for Europe was to give its banking system the seal of approval. The stress tests in the United States worked very well to build confidence by helping struggling banks re-capitalize and systematically show that most banks would be fine even in the face of possible worsening economic headwinds.

The EU's stress tests were carried out brilliantly. They were just harsh enough as not to be seen as a farce finding seven banks in need of €3.5 billion in capital. Many may disagree with that statement in terms of the test's rigor and plenty of analysts did complain but the US equity market response Friday was muted to positive signaling a broader acceptance. The names of the failing banks were wisely leaked ahead of the results so there were no surprises for participants. The tests offered the needed assurance that most of the system was in good shape to withstand foreseeable volatility.

2. Second-quarter earnings reports have been great & the sentiment pendulum has swung positive.

The chief concern this earnings season was weakness on the top line. Analysts have been arguing for months that while cost-cutting is great and improves the bottom line, sustainable growth in earnings will only come from top line growth. Bespoke has a great chart out showing that these fears have not been realized so far. As of Wednesday 73% of companies have beat expectations on their revenue numbers, far better than the historical 62% average. While earnings reporting is inherently backward-looking, it is clear that analysts continue to underestimate this recovery.

On top of strong reports, earnings sentiment has dramatically shifted from week one of this season to week two. Bespoke assessed as of Wednesday that the average earnings reaction has been -0.4%. Yet, Friday was a game-changer. Anecdotally, the reaction difference between Intel (NASDAQ: INTC - News) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN - News) was rather shocking.

In week one of earnings season, on Tuesday night Intel reported an absolutely astounding quarter amazing the Street by exceeding top and bottom line estimates on higher margins and aggressively raising guidance. INTC reported EPS of $0.51 versus $0.43 expected and revenues of $10.8 billion versus $10.3 billion expected. Gross margins expanded year-over-year from 51% to 67% for the second quarter 2010! INTC topped it off by raising Q3 revenue guidance well above $10.9 billion estimate to $11.6 billion. Second quarter 2010 was Intel's "best quarter in the company's 42-year history". How did the market reward INTC? After opening the following day 5% higher shares were sold aggressively throughout the day to close the stock up a marginal 1.7% for the day. By Friday all the post-earnings gains were wiped out.

Amazon, on the other hand, reported earnings on Thursday night this past week. AMZN produced a huge miss of analysts estimates with EPS coming in at $0.45, far lower than the $0.54 consensus estimate. AMZN eked out a top line beat by $100 million reporting $6.6 billion. The large prices cut for the Kindle device from an original selling price of $399 down to $189 to maintain competitiveness with the iPad, Reader and nook caused a significant reduction in margins. This report was the first major miss of estimates by a market leading company. Did the market punish AMZN? Hardly. While AMZN opened on Friday at $105.93, down 16.8% from the previous close, buyers immediately stepped in on the open snapping up the discounted shares. AMZN continued rallying throughout the day and recaptured nearly all of the day's losses to close down a very mild 1%.

The change in sentiment is quite drastic. The pendulum has swung to the positive side as even a very disappointing report was confidently bought, that response coming in stark contrast to the selling seen after the absolutely steller INTC report the previous week.

3. The leaders to the downside have stabilized, GS & BP.

The SEC investigation into Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS - News) in mid-April marked the first significant drop in a leader of the market. Over the ensuing months shares of GS dropped from $185 to below $130 by the beginning of July. The hearings, speculations, rumors all worked as an overhang to shares for months and acted as a major drag on the equity market. The Deepwater Horizon rig explosion on April 20th was another blow to the market. Shares of (NYSE: BP - News) melted from over $60 to well below $30 by late June. The oil spill pulled down many others in the oil sector, particularly Halliburton (NYSE: HAL - News), Cameron (NYSE: CAM - News), Transocean (NYSE: RIG - News) and Anadarko (NYSE: APC - News), among others.

Now, the SEC has settled with GS for a minor $550 million fine. In a broader context, the uncertainty over financial reform is behind us as Congress finally passed the financial reform bill. Shares of GS are on the rebound back up to the $150 area now. BP finally managed to stop the leak in the Gulf quelling fears of an unstoppable disaster, bankruptcy, etc. Shares of BP are now over $10 off the lows and the cleanup is well underway.

4. The first higher low is in place confirming buying interest.

For the first time in this market correction, there is a convincing higher low in place on the charts. After a series of three lower lows, buyers have stepped in to buy at higher prices. Along with the higher low, the close on Friday amounts to the first higher high and takes out the descending trendline. While the break of a trendline is not inherently bullish, it does signal a significant change in the rate of decline. The cocktail napkin technicals point to an encouraging change in previous trend.

5. Doctor Copper is forecasting a strengthening economy.

What is Doctor Copper saying? A reading of the technical tea leaves in both copper and crude oil offers compelling evidence for the bullish argument. Something has clearly changed in the dynamics of copper. Once again, similar to equity markets copper had its first higher low put in and this past week achieved its first higher high. In just this last week, copper rallied 8.9% from below $3 to challenge the $3.20 level. It may take a few days but recouping the $3.20 level will be final confirmation of this rally.

Crude oil is also showing signs of increasing demand. After breaking down below $70 per barrel in late May, crude prices have rebounded and are now bumping up against the $80 resistance level. Oil also has a higher low in place on the charts.

Actively trading this new rally:

Right when a trader gets used to trading one way, the market changes. This is happening again as it will become increasingly difficult to trade on the short side should my call be realized. Shorting can be thrilling because gains come very rapidly when they do come as a result of panic-induced selling. As far as strategy goes, gains on the short side are meant to be taken off the table very quickly. As Keith McCullough of Hedgeye.com says, "There is no such thing as short and hold". I should have heeded this advice and brought in my shorts earlier rather than holding them back to flat after equities found support at the 1,050 level.

The short squeeze is often the first move up the market. This squeeze is rapid because it is exactly the same type of buying as the selling was: panic-induced. Yet, after the first move, the momentum typically slows. Buying occurs in a much more controlled and logical manner than selling often does. I think of it in this way: buyers looking to enter positions use limit orders, capitulating sellers use market orders. The buying is concerted and rational, the selling is fast and indiscriminate. Buyers say, "work me into this position"; sellers say, "get me out now!" Profit-taking definitely occurs more logically than this but a lot of selling, especially in sizable corrections like the one we just saw results from irrational panic.

Trading a new move higher will require longer holding times and much greater relaxation of anticipated levels. Panicking sellers are more acutely aware of price and will make decisions based on declining price. Buyers are typically not as aware of specific price and look to buy on pull-ins. Levels are therefore more fluid and active traders should be more diversified not only in the number of positions but also the timing of entering those positions. Allowing yourself to be wrong on timing by starting smaller and legging into a position slowly will reduce much of the stress that comes from mistiming purchases.

I have been accumulating long positions slowly over the last couple of weeks. Although I was net short as of two weeks because of a long volatility and short market position, I kept buying small amounts of individual names. Now, all my shorts are off the table and I have a broad basket of individual names that I believe will do well in the next wave higher. Time to see if this thesis plays out.

Double-Dip? "Resilience" of Oil Prices Saying "Something Different", Chris Edmonds Says

Crude oil prices took a hit Tuesday after trading over $79 per barrel, the highest levels in nearly three-months. Prices fell below $76 per barrel following news the Consumer Board’s consumer confidence index fell again in July.

Chris Edmonds, managing principal at FIG Partners Energy Research & Capital Group, says prices are likely range-bound for the time being. Current prices suggest healthy demand but he doesn’t expect prices to go much higher than $80 “until we get more clarity on the economy.”

But he doesn't foresee oil prices falling much below $65 anytime soon and says "the resilience of oil prices told us...that the domestic and global economy is beginning to stabilize, and demand obviously is a key part of that."

Crude oil futures are up about 15% in the last year and had risen sharply this month prior to Tuesday's setback. "Oil has some risk" if the macroeconomic data continue to deteriorate, Edmodns says. "But those who trade the commodity feel like they see signs of stabilizing and incrementally growing demand. Oil prices are also telling you supply remains difficult."

Goldman Sachs says current prices are too cheap – telling clients this week prices are significantly lower than fundamentals warrant.

"Those who have resources to drill and exploit are those who will perform best over long periods of time," Edmonds tells Aaron in this interview. Based on that he recommends investing in Apache, EOG Resources and Northern Oil and Gas.

Disclosure: Edmonds' firm has an investment banking relationship with Northern Oil & Gas. He does not own shares of any of the stocks mentioned.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A Grand Unified Theory of the Jobless Recovery

by Derek Thompson

Something's not right.

In most recessions in the last 60 years, jobs recovered soon after the economy healed. But in the last three downturns -- the early '90s, the early '00s, and today -- companies continued to slash jobs and hold off hiring for months, even years, after profits returned. In the current recession, many commentators are perplexed that corporations are sitting on their largest cash pile ever rather than investing in new workers.

Who or what can we blame? Four things.

Start at the top with executive pay, says Robert J. Gordon, a Northwestern economist, in a new paper. The share of executive compensation taking the form of stock options increased by 55% in the 1990s. That made the big suits particularly sensitive to downturns in the stock market, which has collapsed twice in the last decade, after the tech and housing bubbles burst.

Executive pay depends on high stock prices. High stock prices depend on high quarterly profits. High quarterly profits in a downturn depend on lower costs, and the fastest route to lower costs is to slash workers while the economy suffers. That's why "industries experiencing the steepest declines in profits in 2000-02 had the largest declines in employment and largest increases in productivity," Gordon writes.

That's not all. While sacrificing workers for higher profit became de rigeur, a combination of factors also made mass layoffs attractive. Higher immigration and imports, the rising cost of medical care and lower labor union penetration -- all of these factors encourage firms to reduce hours faster than we might expect.

Third, technology has made many middle-tier while-collar jobs "vulnerable to replacement by computers or outsourcing." As Gordon writes: "Middle-level white collar employees have been turned into mere commodities by the ubiquity of substitution between people and computers."

Finally, there's the rise of reluctant part-time employment -- which BLS counts as broad unemployment. One way to think of this group is to imagine the economy as a fleet of pick-up trucks. In good times, the truck cabin is big enough to offer plenty of space to almost everybody who wants a seat. But in this downturn, the big employers swapped for cheaper trucks with a smaller cabin and bigger cargo space and stuffed part-timers, contractors, freelancers and interns in the back.

Employers realize that they can get away with more people without benefits in the bed and fewer people with cushy spots in the cab. The part-time economy is here to stay.

It's common for critics of the administration to blame the jobs crisis on Obama's health care plan, or to mock the White House for predicting the Recovery Act would keep unemployment below 8 percent, when instead it soared above 10 percent with the stimulus. For sure, the White House's economic policy has been stop-start and full of half measures. But studies like this are important reminders that the new millennium has created a new kind of economy and a new kind of recession.

Jobless recoveries now appear to be the new normal. We need a menu of economic policies that recognize why, and try to combat the new reality.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

First, Protect Capital

by Randall W. Forsyth

Down 100 points one day, up 200 the next. Who can make sense of this stock market?

The answer that first sprang to mind was Louise Yamada, the long-time market maven whose shingle reads Louise Yamada Technical Research Advisors, LLC. Along with Alan Shaw, she was the heart and soul of Smith Barney's renowned technical research department until parent company Citigroup (NYSE: C - News) decided to shutter it early last decade.

"One day doesn't make a trend," she said of the Dow Jones Industrial Average's 201.77-point pop Thursday.

The stock market's pattern remains one of "distribution," which in the parlance of technical analysts means stocks are being moved, or distributed, from "strong hands" that have profits to "weak hands," the Johnny-come-latelies who want to jump on an advancing market's bandwagon. A distribution phase classically is a symptom of a market that is topping.

To confirm the uptrend has resumed would take the market to clear a number of hurdles, Yamada continues. That would mean topping the July high, which in DJIA terms translates to 10,370, and a push through its 200-day moving average at 10,460. In simple terms, passing those tests would mean the upward momentum has resumed after the second-quarter slide.

But, "we need more days like this," she says of Thursday's price action to confirm a renewed uptrend. Moreover, the volume continues to be more vigorous on days when the stock market falls than on days of big gains, such as Thursday.

That said, Yamada points to technology as an area of relative strength in the stock market. Not a unique observation admittedly, but one she first put forth three years ago. Since the dot-com bubble's bursting, tech spent years of treading water relative to the rest of the market before gaining relative strength starting in 2007.

Of course, some "old" technology names such as Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT - News) remain mired in the mid-20s and getting cheaper all the time relative to its earnings and hoard of cash on its balance sheet. Indeed, Microsoft failed to rise after hours despite reporting robust earnings late Thursday. To be fair, the 2.9% pop during the regular session could have anticipated the strong results.

At the bottom of Yamada's list are the financials. As long as tech had to wander in the wilderness after the dot-com collapse, so are the financials likely to languish, she says. The financial-regulation reform legislation signed into law Wednesday is unlikely to hasten the group's return to leadership.

As for other market sectors, Yamada notes that Treasury yields such as the two-year notes have fallen to historic lows, touching a miniscule 0.56%--which could ultimately lead to an ultimate downside target of 0.40%-0.50%, she writes in her latest note to clients.

As for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, she says the breakdown in the yield points to an ultimate target of 2.45%. a good deal below Thursday's 2.94%.

But Yamada calls the 30-year bond as the "canary in the coal" mine in an interview. While it has broken through 4%--at 3.96%, up from its recent low of 3.89% as a result of of its sharp price drop Thursday in reaction to stocks' rally—it has failed to set a new low on this move lower. And so, the long bond may be warning that the slide in Treasury yield lasts only as long as the flight to quality continues.

So many cross currents, so little time to sort them out. Yamada imparts invaluable wisdom to deal with them.

There are two kinds of losses an investor can suffer: a loss of opportunity or the loss of capital. There always will be future opportunities. But if you've lost the capital, you won't be able to take advantage of them.

The answer is obvious in these uncertain times: protect capital.

Ten Stock-Market Myths That Just Won't Die

by Brett Arends

The Dow Jones Industrial Average last week ended up pretty much where it had been a little more than a week earlier. A rousing 200-point rally on Wednesday mostly made up for the distressing 200-point selloff of the previous Friday.

The Dow plummeted nearly 800 points a few weeks ago — and then just as dramatically rocketed back up again. The widely watched market indicator is down 7% from where it stood in April and up 59% from where it was at its 2009 nadir.

These kinds of stomach-churning swings are testing investors' nerves once again. You may already feel shattered from the events of 2008-2009. Since the Greek debt crisis in the spring, turmoil has been back in the markets.

At times like this, your broker or financial adviser may offer words of wisdom or advice. There are standard calming phrases you will hear over and over again. But how true are they? Here are 10 that need extra scrutiny.

1 "This is a good time to invest in the stock market."

Really? Ask your broker when he warned clients that it was a bad time to invest. October 2007? February 2000? A broken watch tells the right time twice a day, but that's no reason to wear one. Or as someone once said, asking a broker if this is a good time to invest in the stock market is like asking a barber if you need a haircut. "Certainly, sir — step this way!"

2 "Stocks on average make you about 10% a year."

Stop right there. This is based on some past history — stretching back to the 1800s — and it's full of holes.

About three of those percentage points were only from inflation. The other 7% may not be reliable either. The data from the 19th century are suspect; the global picture from the 20th century is complex. Experts suggest 5% may be more typical. And stocks only produce average returns if you buy them at average valuations. If you buy them when they're expensive, you do a lot worse.

3 "Our economists are forecasting..."

Hold it. Ask your broker if the firm's economist predicted the most recent recession — and if so, when.

The record for economic forecasts is not impressive. Even into 2008 many economists were still denying that a recession was on the way. The usual shtick is to predict "a slowdown, but not a recession." That way they have an escape clause, no matter what happens. Warren Buffett once said forecasters made fortune tellers look good.

4 "Investing in the stock market lets you participate in the growth of the economy."

Tell that to the Japanese. Since 1989 their economy has grown by more than a quarter, but the stock market is down more than three quarters. Or tell that to anyone who invested in Wall Street a decade ago. And such instances aren't as rare as you've been told. In 1969, the U.S. gross domestic product was about $1 trillion, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at about 1000. Thirteen years later, the U.S. economy had grown to $3.3 trillion. The Dow? About 1000.

5 "If you want to earn higher returns, you have to take more risk."

This must come as a surprise to Mr. Buffett, who prefers investing in boring companies and boring industries. Over the last quarter century, the FactSet Research utilities index has even outperformed the exciting, "risky" Nasdaq Composite index. The only way to earn higher returns is to buy stocks cheap in relation to their future cash flows. As for "risk," your broker probably thinks that's "volatility," which typically just means price ups and downs. But you and your Aunt Sally know that risk is really the possibility of losing principal.

6 "The market's really cheap right now. The P/E is only about 13."

The widely quoted price/earnings (PE) ratio, which compares share prices to annual after-tax earnings, can be misleading. That's because earnings are so volatile — they're elevated in a boom, and depressed in a bust.

Ask your broker about other valuation metrics, like the dividend yield, which looks at the dividends you get for each dollar of investment; or the cyclically adjusted PE ratio, which compares share prices to earnings over the past 10 years; or "Tobin's q," which compares share prices to the actual replacement cost of company assets. No metric is perfect, but these three have good track records. Right now all three say the stock market's pretty expensive, not cheap.

7 "You can't time the market."

This hoary old chestnut keeps the clients fully invested. Certainly it's a fool's errand to try to catch the market's twists and turns. But that doesn't mean you have to suspend judgment about overall valuations.

If you invest in shares when they're cheap compared to cash flows and assets — typically this happens when everyone else is gloomy — you will usually do very well.

If you invest when shares are very expensive — such as when everyone else is absurdly bullish — you will probably do badly.

8 "We recommend a diversified portfolio of mutual funds."

If your broker means you should diversify across things like cash, bonds, stocks, alternative strategies, commodities and precious metals, then that's good advice.

But too many brokers mean mutual funds with different names and "styles" like large-cap value, small-cap growth, midcap blend, international small-cap value, and so on. These are marketing gimmicks. There is, for example, no such thing as "midcap blend." These funds are typically 100% invested all the time, and all in stocks. In this global economy even "international" offers less diversification than it did, because everything's getting tied together.

9 "This is a stock picker's market."

What? Every market seems to be defined as a "stock picker's market," yet for most people the lion's share of investment returns — for good or ill — has typically come from the asset classes (see No. 8, above) they've chosen rather than the individual investments. And even if this does turn out to be a stock picker's market, what makes you think your broker is the stock picker in question?

10 "Stocks outperform over the long term."

Define the long term? If you can be down for 10 or more years, exactly how much help is that? As John Maynard Keynes, the economist, once said: "In the long run we are all dead."

Is China at a Policy Turning Point?

by Craig Stephen

The Shanghai A-share index may be the world's second-worst performing equity market this year, but it is beginning to attract notice for the right reasons again, finishing last week up 6.1%.

A possible relaxation in government tightening measures which have rationed credit since the beginning of the year is the main reason for the move higher, although various analysts are starting to push cheap valuations on A-shares.

But it is changes in government policy that are under particular close scrutiny in an economy and equity market that is notoriously policy-driven.

Speculation is rising that recent weak economic data will force the government's hand into easing up on tightening measures. The release of second-quarter gross domestic product numbers earlier this month showed the economy slowing to a growth rate of 10.3% versus 11.9% in the first quarter.

Last week, Chinese President Hu Jintao said the government should stick to a proactive fiscal policy and moderately loose monetary policy in the second half of this year to ensure a stable and relatively rapid economic development. There was also a Xinhua news report that consumption stimulus measures will be implemented in the second half, which sounds like Beijing is ready to up the pace a little.

Deutsche Bank, in a new economic report, asks if this is the "turning point" in China macro policies? It expects economic numbers on the mainland will worsen in the next two to three months, but it is not expecting Beijing to loosen policy until the fourth quarter.

Still, if Beijing is ready to alter course and put its foot back on the accelerator, investors may want to position now.

Deutsche Bank concedes there is a very mixed bag of signals on the economy and says the chance of missing out on a huge A-share rally from now is limited.

There are, of course, various challenges facing policy makers -- from a property bubble and an uncertain outlook for exports into a fragile global economy, to fears over bad loans.

But in the meantime, money has to go somewhere. Already some brokers are getting off the fence to proclaim bullishness on Chinese shares.

Nomura, in a recent strategy report, upgraded its outlook for A-shares, saying they are inexpensive on valuations and attractive, relative to domestic deposit rates.

The bank argues that liquidity conditions and inflation expectations dominate the performance of the A-share market.

In particular, Nomura highlights the impact of deflationary expectations with respect to property and asset prices, which has led to an increase in cash holdings by local investors. This means that one consequence of measures to curb property prices is investors are now on the lookout for another place to put their money.

With bank deposits paying little over 2.5%, and investment options in China severely restricted by the state, the stock market is again starting to look attractive.

Another support for A-shares is that, after recent falls, valuations now look cheap on a historical basis. Nomura calculates that on a price-to-earnings basis, the CSI 300 is now approaching a 15-times multiple versus an average price earnings ratio of 22.9 times. Macquarie Equities agree valuations are low, calculating that on a forward-earnings multiple, Shanghai A-shares are trading at just 13.2 times.

One caveat, however, is that if valuations are getting cheap, you would expect an improvement in dividend yield. Unfortunately, this is not the case, with Nomura measuring dividend yield on the CSI 300 at 1.5% versus a historic mean of 2.6%. Mainland Chinese companies in general are still poor at paying out decent dividends.

Meanwhile H-shares in Hong Kong should be watched as a proxy for any strengthening of A-shares. Another interesting trend is the narrowing of the traditional A-share premium over H-shares. It now stands at just 0.7%, Macquarie notes, versus a long-term average of 28.6%. Nomura highlight that A-share tracker-funds have also begun to trade at a premium.

Looking ahead, government policy will be carefully watched for any confirmation of policy loosening or new stimulus by Beijing. Still, perhaps the most important signal to watch for is evidence mainland Chinese retail investors are returning to equities.

Monday, 26 July 2010

How profits, stocks can rise as economy stumbles

Bernard Condon, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- With earnings season in full swing, bulls and bears are combing through reports to arm themselves in what's become the mother of all stock market debates: Does the recovery gain steam, sending shares aloft? Or does it remain sluggish, or even stall, and push them down further?

A third possibility: Maybe the economy doesn't matter so much.

Larry Hatheway, an economist at UBS, says economic growth means companies selling more things. But he thinks that is not as important as it used to be to generating the profits needed to send stocks higher. That's because U.S. firms have mastered the art of pulling more and more money from each dollar of sales.

One gauge of that success: Corporate margins, or profits per sale, are hovering near 12 percent now, by one measure -- tantalizingly close to a half-century high.

"As long as we don't fall into another recession, it's a good time to make money," says Hatheway, who's bullish on stocks. "We're able to squeeze more profits out of sales than we were twenty or thirty years ago."

Though just a third of companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 have reported quarterly earnings results so far, the picture is impressive. Profits are booming. Eight out of ten companies have beat earnings expectations, according to Thomson Reuters. The average jump in profits is 33 percent.

It's an old story, really. Companies cut workers in a downturn, and squeeze more out of those remaining. And so profitability rises smartly -- only to fall again in the recovery as sales and payrolls rise once more.

But Hatheway says margins will stay high for a while yet because the forces that pushed them there aren't going away anytime soon.

He says high unemployment is likely to stick around longer than in typical recoveries. And while that's bad for the economy, it's good for margins. "Firms can pick good employees and dictate compensation," he says.

U.S. companies also have learned to squeeze more from their equipment and factories, not just their workers, he says. They kept their spending on such things low even before the recession. They feared a repeat of the booming 1990s when they spent wildly on equipment like telecommunications gear -- only to discover they didn't need all of it.

Hatheway says globalization has helped, too. Companies outsource much work abroad and draw supplies from numerous sources now as trade has boomed, which helps keep costs down. Growth abroad has boosted exports, too. That makes the fate of U.S. profits, and margins, less tied to U.S. growth.

The result: Though profit margins will rise and fall as they always have done, the highs and the lows are higher, Hatheway says. He defines margins as total U.S. corporate profit divided by the country's gross domestic product.

"I see lows now of maybe 9 percent," he says, a point or two higher than margins during most of the 70s and 80s. He adds that falling margins are "far in the future" -- perhaps four years away.

Not everyone is convinced.

Legendary investor Jeremy Grantham, the Boston money manager who called the housing bust years ago, has been telling investors for months now that profit margins will fall from their perch, sending stocks tumbling. Andrew Smithers of London researcher Smithers & Co. wrote a report warning of the same. John Hussman of the Hussman Funds wrote this month that investors buying stocks on the belief that fat margins will last are destined to "walk themselves over a cliff."

"The dark side of margins is that they're going to have to come down," says Claus Vistesen, an economist at the University of Hull in England. He adds, ominously, "And the market hasn't fully priced this."

Hatheway, for his part, isn't backing down.

"If you give me slow growth and high unemployment, I can give you high earnings," he says. "The stock market is not the economy."

Thursday, 22 July 2010

为什么他是富人你是穷人? 揭秘富人赚钱秘诀

顶级富豪消费门槛最低1.1亿
  日前,“2010胡润富豪消费价格指数”在上海发布,调查显示,由于去年一年奢华房产价格猛增,国内的富豪们正在为进入精英圈子付出更高昂的费用。经过计算,今年的“富豪CPI”为同比增长11.3%,去年同期为同比增长4.6%,今年的“富豪CPI”增幅是去年同期的近2.5倍。
  “富豪CPI”分析的是58种与高品质生活方式相关的商品,也分为八类,包括:房产、汽车、手表、珠宝、烟酒等。数据显示,2010年顶级富豪消费门槛最低1.1亿元。胡润百富创始人兼首席调研员胡润表示房产价格猛增是富豪CPI高涨的主要因素,一年间富豪消费高端房产价格平均涨幅高达45%。现在,越来越多的富豪在创造财富的同时,也在不断地追求更顶级的奢侈品,他们的需求远远超过市场上的供应量。
  为什么他是富人你是穷人?
  1、自我认知
  穷人:很少想到如何去赚钱和如何才能赚到钱,认为自己一辈子就该这样,不相信会有什么改变。
  富人:骨子里就深信自己生下来不是要做穷人,而是要做富人,他有强烈的赚钱意识,这也是他血液里的东西,他会想尽一切办法使自己致富。
  2、休闲
  穷人:在家看电视,为肥皂剧的剧情感动得痛苦流涕,还要仿照电视里的时尚来武装自己。
  富人:在外跑市场,即使打高尔夫球也不忘带着项目合同。
  3、交际
  穷人:喜欢走穷亲戚,穷人的圈子大多是穷人,也排斥与富人交往,久而久之,心态成了穷人的心态,思维成了穷人的思维,做出来的事也就是穷人的模式。大家每天谈论着打折商品,交流着节约技巧,虽然有利于训练生存能力,但你的眼界也就渐渐囿于这样的琐事,而将雄心壮志消磨掉了。
  富人:喜欢交流,但是多半都是同层次的人在交往,进行着半真半假的友情。
4、学习
  穷人:学手艺
  富人:学管理
  5、时间
  穷人:一个享受充裕时间的人不可能赚大钱,要想悠闲轻松就会失去更多赚钱的机会。穷人的时间是不值钱的,有时甚至多余,不知道怎么打发怎么混起来不烦。如果你可以因为买一斤白菜多花了一分钱而气恼不已,却不为虚度一天而心痛,这就是典型的穷人思维。
  富人:一个人无论以何种方式赚钱,也无论钱挣得是多还是少,都必须经过时间的积淀。富人的玩也是一种工作方式,是有目的的。富人的闲,闲在身体,修身养性,以利再战,脑袋一刻也没有闲着;穷人的闲,闲在思想,他手脚都在忙,忙着去麻将桌上多摸几把。
  6、归属感
  穷人:是颗螺丝钉。穷人因为出身卑微,缺少安全感,就迫切地希望自己从属于并依赖于一个团体,于是他们以这个团体的标准为自己的标准,让自己的一切合乎规范,为团体的利益而工作,奔波,甚至迁徙。对于穷人来说,在一个著名的企业里稳定地工作几十年,由实习生一直干到高级主管那简直是美得不能再美的理想。
  富人:那些团体的领导者通常都是富人,他们总是一方面向穷人灌输:团结就是力量,如果你不从属于自己的团体,你就什么都不是,一名不文。但另一方面,他们却从来没有停止过招兵买马,培养新人,以便随时可以把你替换掉。
  7、投资及对待财富
  穷人:经济观点就是少用等于多赚,比如开一家面馆,收益率是100%,投入2万,一年就净赚2万,对于穷人来说很不错了。穷人即使有钱,也舍不得拿出来,即使终于下定决心投资,也不愿意冒风险,最终还是走不出那一步。穷人最津津乐道的就是鸡生蛋,蛋生鸡,一本万利……但是建筑在一只母鸡身上的希望毕竟是那样的脆弱。
  富人:富人的出发点是万本万利。同样的开面馆,富人们会想,一家面馆承载的资本只有2万,如果有一亿资金,岂不是要开 5000家面馆?要一个一个管理好,大老板得操多少心,累白多少根头发呀?还不如投资宾馆。一个宾馆就足以消化全部的资本,哪怕收益率只有20%,一年下来也有2000万利润啊。
  8、激情(能不能干成事,首先要看有没有激情)
  穷人:没有激情。他总是按部就班,很难出大错,也绝对不会做到最好。没有激情就无法兴奋,就不可能全心全意投入工作。大部分的穷人不能说没有激情,可他的激情总是消耗在太具体的事情上:上司表扬了,他会激动;商店打折,他会激动;电视里破镜重圆了,他的眼泪一串一串往下流,穷人有的只是一种情绪。
  富人:燕雀安知鸿鹄之志?王侯将相,宁有种乎?有这样的激情,穷人终将不是穷人!激情是一种天性,是生命力的象征,有了激情才有了灵感的火花,才有了鲜明的个性,才有了人际关系中的强烈感染力,也才有了解决问题的魄力和方法。

9、自信
  穷人:穷人的自信要通过武装到牙齿、要通过一身高级名牌的穿戴和豪华的配置才能给他们带来更多的自信,穷人的自信往往不是发自内心和自然天成的。
  富人:李嘉成在谈到他的经营秘诀时说:其实也没什么特别的,光景好时,决不过分[size=5]乐观;光景不好时,也不过度悲观。其实就是一种富人特有的自信。自信才能不被外力所左右,自信才可能有正确的决定。
  10、习惯
  穷人:有个故事,一个富人送给穷人一头牛。穷人满怀希望开始奋斗。可牛要吃草,人要吃饭,日子难过。穷人于是把牛卖了,买了几只羊吃了一只,剩下来的用来生小羊。可小羊迟迟没有生出来,日子又艰难了。穷人把羊卖了,买成了鸡,想让鸡生蛋赚钱为生,但是日子并没有改变,最后穷人把鸡也杀了,穷人的理想彻底崩溃了,这就是穷人的习惯。
  富人:根据一个投资专家说,富人成功的秘诀就是:没钱时,不管多困难,也不要动用投资和储蓄,压力会使你找到赚钱的新方法,帮你还清帐单。这是个好习惯。性格决定了习惯,习惯决定了成功。
  11、上网
  穷人:上网聊天。穷人聊天,一是穷人时间多,二是穷人的嘴天生就不能闲着;富人讲究宠辱不惊,温柔敦厚,那叫涵养,有涵养才能树大根深。穷人就顾不了那么多,成天受着别人的白眼,浑身沾满了鸡毛蒜皮,多少窝囊气啊,说说都不行?聊天有理!
  富人:去网上找投资机会。富人上网,更多的是利用网络的低成本高效率,寻找更多的投资机会和项目,把便利运用到自己的生意中来。
  12、消费花钱
  穷人:买名牌是为了体验满足感,最喜欢试验刚出来的流行时尚产品,相信贵的必然是好的。
  富人:买名牌是为了节省挑选细节的时间,与消费品的售价相比,他更在乎时间成本。

富人赚钱的九大秘诀
  富人的钱赚得也不容易
  当被问到致富的秘诀时,富人的回答都很简单,大多是勤奋努力、节俭朴实和长期精明投资。美国媒体曾总结出9条富人理财的秘诀,虽然这些秘诀看起来语不惊人,但其中所蕴含的深刻道理却值得人们去思考。
  秘诀一:养成节俭习惯
  “7年赚700万”的博客作者、49岁的卡特伍德早年在科技业打拼时十分节俭。他说:“很多人在年轻时过度依赖信用卡借贷,结果是借贷吃掉储蓄,永远省不下钱来。如果年轻时能养成节俭的习惯,赚的钱才会留在口袋里。”
  秘诀二:对自己有信心
  《30岁以前赚到100万》一书的作者科里几乎读遍了市面上所有的百万富翁传记。他发现几乎所有的富翁都有一个共同特点,就是有无比的自信心,相信自己绝对会有大成就。这个发现帮助他在年轻时就成为了百万富翁。
  秘诀三:有梦想才有可能
  《邻家的富翁大妈》作者史密斯认为,想成为富翁就一定要有这样的梦想。一项调查显示,虽然美国是世界上百万富翁人数最多的国家,但大多数美国人却没有成为富翁的欲望。因此本来有条件成为富翁的人最终却与富翁失之交臂,这与人们的心态有一定的关系。


秘诀四:勤奋工作
  亿万富翁川普在他的新书《像川普一样思考》中说,成功并不是靠运气,而是靠勤奋工作。他说:“很多人认为富人有钱是碰到了好运气。其实带来好运的是勤奋,但因为勤奋多半会带来成功,所以人们就认为是好运带来了成功。”
  秘诀五:学会做预算
  史密斯女士每月都会记账,她也建议朋友们每月列出自己花钱的细目。此外她还认为维持好的信用对成为百万存款族也有帮助,这样可以在很多方面省下钱。
  秘诀六:做感兴趣的工作
  虽然从事金融工作会带来高薪,但是如果自己不喜欢就很难获得成就感。富翁科里认为,只要是自己真心喜欢的工作,就可能有超凡的表现,赚到财富。

秘诀七:明确生活目标
  最好先把自己的想法具体化,包括想住什么样的房子、孩子要上什么样的大学等等,总结出一个数字,这样更能帮助自己达到目标。这其实就是设立财务目标,然后对自己一生所追求和想达成的目标进行分解,逐步实现梦想。
  秘诀八:逆向投资
  科里建议在投资方面应与大多数人逆向而行。比如现在股票跌得很惨,如果敢逢低买入,一年半载之后就可能大丰收。科里谈的是一种投资策略,而对于很多人而言,关键是要形成投资的观念。中国人有储蓄的观念,但投资的观念却还在慢慢形成中。
  秘诀九:量入为出
  百万富翁史密斯说,他的理财经验是想办法将收入的10%到25%节省下来。不要把钱都花在那些象征身份地位的奢侈品上,如名牌皮包、鞋子和服装、时髦跑车、豪华庄园等等。一定要量入为出,不要被物欲所操纵。(国际在线)



财富感悟:没有野心只能一辈子当穷人
  巴拉昂县一位年青的媒体大哼,以推销装饰销像画起家,在不到十年的时间里迅速跻身于法国50大富豪之列,1998年因前列腺癌在法国博比尼医院去世。临终前,他留下遗嘱,把他4.6亿法郎的股份捐献给博比尼医院用于前列腺癌的研究,另有100万作为奖金,奖给揭开穷人之谜的人。
  穷人最缺少的是什么?
  如果你所设定的目标是一只鹰,那你可能只射到一只小鸟,但如果你的目标是月亮,那你可能就射到了一只鹰。某些人之所以贫穷大多数是因为他们有一种无可救药的缺点,即缺乏野心。他们所追求的只是一种平常、闲适的生活,有的甚至只要温饱就行,即有饭吃、有床睡,这些就洽谈室了他们一辈子成为不了富人。因为他们的目标就是做穷人,当他们拥有了最基本的物质生活保障时,就会停滞焉,不思进取,得过且过,没有野心让他们贫穷。古文中曾记载,仲永3岁便能成诗作文,才华可溢,但却满足现状不思进取,没有继续填充自己扬名宇内的野心,终于泯然众人矣。
  翻开史业,让我们回顾一下在历史上曾有深远影响的人物,拿破仑在军事院校就读时曾立誓要做一名卓越的统帅并吞并整个欧洲,由此他的勃勃野心可见一班。在院校期间,他将自己定位在一个很高的标准,严格要求自己,最终以赏成绩敏一做了名炮兵,开始了他的霸业之旅。成吉思汗扬言大地是我的牧场,有雄鹰的地方就有我的铁骑,造就了成吉思汗时代。同样,看一下中国近代。在改革开放的浪潮中,一批不甘平凡勇于挑战的开潮儿们脱颖而出。借着改革的东风,他们几乎都成了浪尖上的人物,都富裕了。前不久,一些好莱坞的新贵和其它待业几位年轻的富翁就此话题接受电台的采访时,都豪不掩饰地承认:野心是永恒的特效药,是所有奇迹的萌发点;某些人宽这所以贫穷,大多是因为他们有一种无可救药的弱点,即缺乏野心。
  巴拉昂逝世周年纪念日,律师和代理人按巴拉昂生前的交代在公证部门的监视下打开了那只保险箱,揭开了谜底:穷人最缺少的是野心,那成为富人的野心。(首席执行官)


掌握穷变富的哲理 迈向富人行列
  你认为自己是一个贫穷的人吗?如果是,你是否想过改变自己的现状,从现在起积累自己的财富,迈向富人的行列?读读以下的这些理财哲学,或许会对你有所启发。
  A、将生活费用变成第一资本
  一个人用100元买了50双拖鞋,拿到地摊上每双卖3元,一共得到了150元。另一个人很穷,每个月领取100元生活补贴,全部用来买大米和油盐。同样是100元,前一个100元通过经营增值了,成为资本。后一个100元在价值上没有任何改变,只不过是一笔生活费用。
  贫穷者的可悲就在于,他的钱很难由生活费用变成资本,更没有资本意识和经营资本的经验与技巧,所以,贫穷者就只能一直穷下去。
  财智哲学:渴望是人生最大的动力,只有对财富充满渴望,而且在投资过程中享受到赚钱乐趣的人,才有可能将生活费用变成"第一资本",同时,积累资本意识与经营资本的经验与技巧,获得最后的成功。
  B、最初几年困难最大
  其实,贫穷者要变成富人,最大的困难是最初几年。财智学中有一则财富定律:对于白手起家的人来说,如果第一个百万花费了10年时间,那么,从100万元到1000万元,也许只需5年,再从1000万元到1亿元,只需要3年就足够了。
  这一财富定律告诉我们:因为你已有丰富的经验和启动的资金,就像汽车已经跑起来,速度已经加上去,只需轻轻踩下油门,车就会疾驶如飞。开头的5年可能是最艰苦的日子,接下来会越来越有乐趣,且越来越容易。
  财智哲学:贫穷者不仅没有资本,更可悲的是没有资本意识,没有经营资本的经验和技巧。贫穷者的钱如不是资本,也就只能一直穷下去。
  C、贫穷者的财富只有大脑
  人与人之间在智力和体力上的差异并不是想象的那么大,一件事这个人能做,另外的人也能做。只是做出的效果不一样,往往是一些细节的功夫,决定着完成的质量。
  假如一个恃才傲物的职员得不到老板的赏识,他只是简单地把原因归结为不会溜须拍马,那就太片面了。老板固然不喜欢不尊重自己的人,但更重要的是,他能看出你的价值。同样,假如你第一次去办营业执照,就和办证的人吵得不可开交,可以肯定,你开的那个小店永远只能是个小店,做大很难。这样的心态,别说投资,连日常理财都难做好。
  很多投资说到底是一种赌博,赌的就是将来的收益大于现在的投入。投资是件风险极大的事,钱一旦投出去就由不得自己。
  贫穷者是个弱势群体,从来没把握过局势,很多时候连自己也不能支配,更不要说影响别人。贫穷者投资,缺的不仅仅是钱,而是行动的勇气、思想的智慧与财商的动机。
  贫穷者最宝贵的资源是什么?不是有限的那一点点存款,也不是身强力壮,而是大脑。以前总说思想是一笔宝贵的精神财富,其实在我们这个时代,思想不仅是精神财富,还可以是物质化的有形财富。一个思想可能催生一个产业,也可能让一种经营活动产生前所未有的变化。
  财智哲学:人与人之间最根本的差别不是高矮胖瘦,而是装着经营知识、理财性格与资本思想的大脑。
  D、对自身能力的投资
  有一位伟人的话,大意是一个人的价值大小,不是看他向社会索取多少,而是看他贡献多少。相比之下,按劳分配并不是按你的劳动量来分配,而是要你生产出更多的价值。只要你愿意,你劳动的能力越强,创造的价值越多,就越可能获得高的收入。多劳多得的根本是质而不是量,贫穷者最根本的投资是对自身能力的投资。
  财智哲学:说到资本家,贫穷者就联想到那些剥削工人剩余劳动价值的人,心中自然有种抵触。实际上,只要你愿意,你也可以当资本家,资本市场是向每一个人开放的,其中也有你的那一份天地。
  E、教育是最大投资
  学历只是一般教育的证明,学校里学到的只是一些综合性的基础知识,人一辈子都需要重新学习。有一篇报道,江苏省2003年高学历(本科及以上)者人均年收入超过11万元,小学文化程度者只有3708元,二者相差近30多倍。经济收入的悬殊,已经造成实际上的高低贵贱。在当今社会,要想过上稍稍像样一点的生活,就必须有一个高学历。
  财智哲学:教育是最大的投资,对很多贫穷者来说,他们的命运是和受教育程度密切相关的。因为贫困不是一种罪过,但贫困中的人都不得不承受它的恶果。
  F、勿以运气为贫穷开脱
  关于资本的故事每个人都听过不少。比如某个美国老太太,买了100股可口可乐股票,压了几十年,成了千万富翁;某位中国老太太,捂了10年深发展原始股,也成了超级富婆。故事的主角都是老太太,笨头笨脑,居然一弯腰就捡了一个金娃娃。
  从理论上讲,美国老太和中国老太的投资都是成功的,但对更多的人而言,却很难有什么推广价值。两个老太凭什么能够坚持捂股?不是理智的分析,也不是坚定的信心,而是什么都不懂,要么是压在箱底忘在脑后了,要么是运气的因素。贫穷者把很多事情都归于运气。因为只有运气是最好的借口,可以为自己的贫穷开脱。"运气不好"是所有失败者的疗伤良药。
  财智哲学:在商品经济时代,人人都会有运气,不劳而获不仅是可耻的,而且是不可能的。一个人之所以有权获得收入,是因为他为社会生产出了产品,社会才给了他的回报。
  G、知本向资本靠拢
  有个故事说的是一个国王要感谢一个大臣,就让他提一个条件。大臣说:"我的要求不高,只要在棋盘的第一个格子里装1粒米,第二个格子里装2粒,第三个格子里装4粒,第四个格子里装8粒,以此类推,直到把64个格子装完。"国王一听,暗暗发笑,要求太低了,照此办理。不久,棋盘就装不下了,改用麻袋,麻袋也不行了,改用小车,小车也不行了,粮仓很快告罄。数米的人累昏无数,那格子却像个无底洞,怎么也填不满…… 国王终于发现,他上当了,因为他会变成没有一粒米的穷者。一个东西哪怕基数很小,一旦以几何级倍数增长,最后的结果也会很惊人的。
  贫穷者的发展难,起步难,坚持更难。就那么几粒米,你自己都没了胃口。可一件事情的成功,往往就在于最后一步。当基数积累到一定的时候,只需要跳一下格子,你就立地成佛了。这之前的一切都是铺垫,没有第一粒米,就没有后面的小车大车,这个过程是漫长的,也是艰难的。但是世界上聪明的人很多,有知识的人遍地都是,但真正能发大财的却少,要把知识变为知本,只有和资本联姻才行。
  财智哲学:富人靠资本生钱,贫穷者靠知本致富。以知本作为资本,赤手空拳打天下,可能是现代贫穷者们最后也最辉煌的梦想。但是,一个生活在底层的人,很难有俯瞰的眼光和轩昂的气度,贫穷者内心最缺乏的其实就是这种自信。(上海金融报)



  学富人理财型投资
  理财是一种思想,如果你想要更多的钱,必须改变你的思路。任何一位白手起家的人总是从小做起,循序渐进,然后不断壮大。投资也是这样,起初的投入虽有限,但以财生财的观念来说,它必然会成为未来获取更大收益的基础。很多人试图期望储蓄和筹集一大笔钱后,再来做一笔大生意或大投资,因为他们认为大的投入才能赚到真正的大钱,但往往事与愿违。太多的不成熟的动机和思维方式最终都使他们的大量资本承担着巨大的风险,要么生意不成,要么惨痛的损失掉其中的大部分……
  那么,不理财而仅靠自己的一身本事,就会逐渐富有起来吗?因为很多人在面对理财、投资时,总会不成熟的认为有风险,谁又亏了,谁又血本无归了。总是认为把钱存在银行更把稳一点,殊不知,正因为这样,他们失去了能逐渐成为一个富人的机缘,并且永远也富有不了,只能成为一个辛苦赚钱的工具,而非自由自在的享受生活的人。
  A 穷人和富人,不一样的理财观
  当人们刚刚参加工作时,收入不多,只够自己的日常开销,这时,当然是穷人。几年后,工资涨到了四五千,他们会考虑攒点钱,付个首期,买个房子。再过几年,收入涨到万儿八千时,他们又会面临娶妻生孩子买车等更高的生活开销。
  再经过几年的奋斗,工资涨到两三万甚至更多,也许真的可以称得上事业有成,但生活追求也变得水涨船高,房子要住更舒适点的,车子要开更高级的,孩子要上昂贵的双语幼儿园,旅游要去国外的度假胜地……
  总之,这种生活状况不仅在成都,乃至众多大城市里的白领,都是沿着这样一条道路展开的。看起来生活质量是越来越好,但高收入,并不代表他们就能进入富人的行列,因为每个月要付的账单越来越高,开销也越来越大,结果是他们对工作的依赖性也越来越强,连换工作也不敢想了,因为他们一但离开了工作,就会手停口停,恢复穷人本色,同时已经水涨船高的生活标准也会成为他们沉重的负担。
  所以许多人看起来是有钱人了,但是他们根本说不上是真正的富人,因此从科学理财的观念看,靠高收入和攒钱来实现富裕的思路完全是错误的,依靠攒钱,不仅多数人无法获得最终的财务自由,甚至不可能得到正确的理财观念。
  那么,怎样的投资理财,怎样的科学理财观念才能做到量体裁衣,以财生财、一生无忧呢?
  专家提供了这样一个典型的例子,以前的王公贵族子弟,凭着自己或是祖上的积累,享受不用干事的生活。他们的钱是花一分就少一分,钱花完了,就只能卖家里的古玩字画旧家具等,到这些东西也卖完了,一切也就完了。而陆文夫的小说《美食家》中的朱自治则不同。他有着数量可观的房产和每月丰厚的租金,自然过着悠然自得的美食家生活。
  可见,穷人和富人表面的差别是钱多钱少,但本质的差别是对待理财的科学态度。形象地说,在富人手里,钱是鸡,钱会生钱,在穷人手里,钱是蛋,用一毛就少一毛。
  B 房产趋于理财型投资
  《中国新富人群的理财需要与金融创新报告》最近发布的一份调查显示,在目前居民对各种投资理财工具的实际选择比例中,房地产以13.6%的比例列在第五位。但对于占中国城市人口5%的新富人群来说,房地产以最高的预计未来收益水平(24.5%)成为他们最钟爱的投资产品。
  该报告对新富人群的定义为:个人金融资产在50万元以上,年收入20万元以上。如今的新富人群则形成了民营经济所有者、各类企事业中
  高层管理人员和专业人员三分天下的格局。报告还显示,这些高收入群体主要集中在金融、IT、电信、房地产、贸易以及专业人士发达的中心城市,约占这些城市总人口的5%。报告中对潜在投资者的调查还显示:对于各类投资理财工具在未来1年内收益的看法中,房地产以 53.2%位居第三,低于国债和基金,高于子女教育基金、股票、定期储蓄和收藏;在未来1年内对各种投资理财工具的
  选择调查中,房地产以8.3%的被选择率列在第二位,仅次于基金……对此,业界分析人士认为,居民对房地产投资的未来收益普遍看好。
  日前,记者在成都的多个商用物业的投资客采访和调查中了解到,成都有近80%的购房者都是中小投资者,他们一次性投资额均在30-100万元之间,年收入大多在20万元以上,属于典型的新富人群。为此,一商用物业的营销总监在采访中认为,成都市作为我国西部的中心城市,金融、IT、电信、房地产、贸易等行业均十分发达与活跃,因而城市新富人群在不断增加。对占中国城市人口5%的新富人群来说,由于他们已逐步具备较为成熟的理财观和丰富的物质资源,在投资中更愿意选择具备良好发展势头和能持续创造利润的中长期物业。由此近来一直保持旺盛发展势头的房地产投资成为首选也就不足为怪。
  C 人人都可以做理财高手
  财商这个词由来已久,但真正能明了其概念的人并不多。它之所以重要,是因为它让人们走出了以往理财的很多误区。
  通常贫穷人家对于富人之所以能够致富,较负面的想法是认为他们运气好或从事不正当的行业,较正面的想法是认为他们更努力或克勤克俭。但这些人万万没想到,真正的原因在于他们的理财习惯不同。投资致富的先决条件是将资产投资于高报酬率的投资标的上,例如股票或房地产,比如说,有的人能通过自身的努力奋斗,赚很高的薪金,但是,这并不意味着他的财商高,只能是他的工作能力较强罢了。有的人在投资过程中,作风泼辣,敢于冒险,经常有很大的斩获。可是,也不能算是财商高,只能是他的投机能力强,外加运气不坏。举例来说,一百万的房子,转手就赚十万的这种投机做法就不算财商高。
  日常生活中,人们所说的“财商”,是运用自有资金,赚取稳定收益的能力。譬如:花100万买了个房子,拿来出租,租金就算是稳定的收益,而收益越高,就意味着你的理财能力越强,所以,光靠简单的“有钱”,是不能让人安心退休的。因此,对于消费者(尤其是投资者)而言,必须善于运用你的财富,让钱代替人去工作,只有当钱能让你获得像工资一样稳定而充足的收入时,你也就可以退休了。
  真所谓“上天赐与我们每个人两样伟大的礼物:思想和时间。”轮到你用这两种礼物去做你愿意做的事情了,你,且只有你才有权决定你自己的前途。把钱无计划、不节制地消费掉,你就选择了贫困;把钱用在长期回报的项目上,你就会进入中产阶层;把钱投资于你的头脑,学习如何获取资产,财富将成为你的目标和你的未来,选择是你做出的。每一天面对每一元钱,你都在做出自己是成为一名穷人、中产阶级还是富人的选择。也正是居于如此的理财观念,城南某黄金商铺一则“年少无知,年老无资”的广告语乍一见诸报端,便引起了人们对选择贫困或财富的共鸣。
  让金钱为我而工作,而不是我为金钱而工作,成为金钱的奴隶,这是正确的理财观念。获取财富并不一定要通过艰苦的劳动,理财不理财的结果可能相差万里。
  D 前半生栽树、后半生乘凉
  对广大城市新富人群而言,每当功成名就之后,“退休”一词又成为他们心中化不开的情结和忧愁。于是,“我希望在××岁退休”、“等我有了××万的积蓄,我就退休了”……如此这般的感慨和豪言壮语时常充斥在我们的工作和生活中,也曾经成为网上讨论的热点。那么,新富人群拥有多少钱才可以退休、安享晚年呢?曾经在网上有一个比较经典的玩笑是397.2万元。它包括:买一套普通的房子得花50万元、买车至少100万元(以15万元/辆计,退休到死需要三辆)、养一个孩子要30万元、孝敬父母43.2万元(一对夫妻要养4个老人,按每月给每个老人300元计算)、全家开销108万元、休闲费30万元、退休养老36万元。
  其实以上的例子,虽是个玩笑,但它用概念的意识传递给我们,理财,首先要进行资本的原始积累,或者通过工作的积蓄,或者通过投资。
  有了原始积累之后,就要通过投资去获得稳定的现金收益。只有以稳定的现金流为目的进行的投资,才能让人们在投资领域拥有持续的赚钱能力,才能规避投机行为所带来的风险。既有稳定收益,又能规避风险,这样才能让人安心退休。
  当然,同一些发达国家相比,中国人的理财观念处于一种相当不成熟的状态,多数人用投机的心态投资,总想听一个消息就能赚一大笔,而忽略了投资是一项艰苦的工作,有大量的功课要做,过于看重“一笔赚了多少钱”,而不去钻研如何获得长期稳定的回报。而在一些发达国家,人们看重的是稳定而持续的投资收益,而不是大起大落的赌博式投资。所以,如果更多的人能以现金流为目的,进行理性的投资,那么,不仅退休的理想可以早些实现,整个社会的投资环境也会更加理性。


 找出富人理财的共同点
  我们知道富人正变得越来越富。我们知道富人数量在增多。我们还知道,基金管理行业和银行业正向“财富管理”这一新领域投入巨大的资源。
  从经济数据以及对财富管理行业最粗率的理解来看,这一切都非常清楚。
  《福布斯》(Forbes)等出版物公布的全球富豪排行榜也令上述说法不容置疑。这些排行榜光彩易读。
  但目前还不那么清楚的是,富人的投资方式与其他人究竟有什么不同。
  我们在概括“富人”及其需求的时候,需要谨慎行事。《福布斯》排行榜显示,按照排名前后,全球最富有的5位富豪分别是:一位美国软件企业家、一位成功的美国投资管理者、垄断全国电(600795,股吧) 话市场的墨西哥投资者、宜家(Ikea)的瑞典创始人和整合全球钢铁行业的印度企业家。比尔·盖茨(Bill Gates)、沃伦·巴菲特(Warren Buffett)、卡洛斯·斯利姆(Carlos Slim)、英瓦尔·坎普拉德(Ingvar Kamprad)和拉克希米·米塔尔(Lakshmi Mittal)都非常富有,但对他们进行太多的概括,可能会很危险。
  财富管理行业的假设
  然而,财富管理行业的经营似乎的确建立在一种假设基础上:即我们概括出富人的一些特点。
  其一,为了进一步扩大财富,他们愿意承担公众不可及的更大风险。
  近几年来,对冲基金和私人股本这两个行业一直在推动着市场,它们理所当然地获得了大量关注。但普通散户投资者无法直接利用它们。
  它们属于富人,也是私人银行和财富管理活动的中心。富有投资者还可以运用多种策略,例如卖空或大量使用衍生品,而监管机构禁止多数散户投资者采取这些策略。
  不过,富人真的需要这些吗?
  至少从理论上而言,一位“财富”经理应能不去理会标准基金管理层有关贝塔和阿尔法——它们分别是与市场相关和不相关的回报——的所有担心,也应避免根据市场平均回报设定基准的做法。
  富人贵在守富
  但拥有巨额财富的一个优势在于,你不再需要取得巨大、超越市场平均水平的回报,来让自己变得富有。
  你唯一的担心应该是,首先,避免做出让你损失财富的蠢事,第二,回报超过通胀水平。
  这进而表明,最明智的策略是目前所说的“绝对回报”投资,现金是需要超越的基准,而关键是永远不要亏损。
  换言之,尽管非常富有的人群能够承担得起比他人更大的风险,但对他们而言,保守一些可能更为合理。他们可以承担更多风险,但他们没必要这样做。那些没有存够养老金的人,才可能会理性地开始承担巨大投资风险。




 成为百万富翁的捷径
  有人认为,现在美国大约有500万个家庭拥有100万美元的财富,其中80%的人属于第一代致富者。对这些人来说,富裕并不是拥有昂贵的轿车、别墅,而是有长期稳定的收入作保障,为此,理财专家认为,人们只要遵循一些普遍的原则,都可以挖掘出致富的潜能。他们归纳出了以下一些法则,或许对你有些启示。
  钱生钱法。1967年,北卡罗莱纳州的拉尔夫兄弟决定以出售股份的方式筹款开一家杂货店。他们联系了100 个熟人,这些人以每股10美元的价格各自买下了100股。30多年后,当初的杂货店已变成了拥有1000多家连锁店的“食品之王”的大公司。它的股票价格为每股109美元,当年投资者中的78位已当上了百万富翁。
  量入为出。1960年,汉托和乔吉娜从古巴来到美国时,身无分文。1966年他们大学毕业后做了记者。他们的致富策略就是节省每一分钱,由于银行储蓄是按复利计算的,所以夫妇俩每月按时去银行存钱。他们的生活很节俭,打折商品是他们常买的东西,经常从报纸上剪折价券去买便宜东西,上班带盒饭。几年后,他们便把收入的大部分储蓄起来。直到1987年,他们拿出1250美元投到共同基金里,8年后就成了百万富翁。
  不筑债台。今天信用卡公司有五花八门的优惠办法吸引新客户。银行又大力推销房屋抵押贷款,一般人面对这类诱惑,很容易把持不住自己,代价是你欠下债务,须为债务支付利息。美国百万富翁中70%全无债务,他们知道,每支付1美元利息,可用来投资的钱就少了1美元。因此,他们所买的房子一定是他们负担得起而财力上仍绰绰有余的。
  自己创业。自己当老板的人能成百万富翁的机率,比工薪阶层的机率要大4倍。工薪阶层的收入决定于雇主愿意给多少,自己创业的人如果精明能干,可以大展宏图。
  长期等待。要想财富长久,就要具备足够的定力,拒绝短期利益的诱惑,抱紧核心资产。微软的比尔·盖茨能够多年蝉联全球富豪榜首,就是得益于他能够抗拒诱惑,不放弃微软的大部分股权。任何投资者在走向致富之路时并不富有。这需要长时间的等待,合理地安排自己手中的资金,选准投资方向,如此则任何人都会有可能成为富翁的。
  气定神闲。投资没有一定赚钱的道理,不过,富豪们一定有办法使自己安度投资的低潮。专家们发现,富豪们大多是玩扑克牌的高手。他们大多生活作息有规律,婚姻生活稳定、美满。有志成为富豪的人,不妨向他们的生活态度看齐。
  脸皮很厚。富豪的行为模式异于常人,常做出违反社会常规、招致他人忌恨的事。美国最大零售商沃尔玛的创办人山姆·奥尔顿经常扰乱市场价格。一旦逮到机会,他便伺机向供应商杀价。所以供应商们都知道和沃尔玛做生意不容易。因此,如果你想当好好先生,最好打消富豪梦。



 成为富翁的八个步骤
  有些人认为理财是富人、高收入家庭的专利,要先有足够的钱,才有资格谈投资理财。事实上,影响未来财富的关键因素,是投资报酬率的高低与时间的长短,而不是资金的多寡。美国人查理斯·卡尔森在调查了美国170位百万富翁的发家史后写了一本名叫《成为百万富翁的八条真理》的书。卡尔森所总结的、成为百万富翁的八个行动步骤是:
  第一步,现在就开始投资。他在书中说,在美国,六成以上的人连百万富翁的第一步都还未迈出。每个人在迈出第一步时都有一堆理由,但其实这些理由都只是自己在找无关紧要的借口。有人也许会说:“没时间投资。”卡尔森说:“那你为什么不减少看电视的时间,把精力花在学习投资理财上?”
  第二步,制定目标。这个目标不论是准备好小孩子的学费、买新房子或50岁以前舒服地退休。不论任何目标,一定要定个计划,并且为了这个计划全心全意地去努力。
  第三步,把钱花在买股票或基金上。“买股票能致富,买政府公债只能保住财富。”百万富翁的共同经验是:别相信那些黄金、珍奇收藏品等玩意儿,把心放在股票上,这是建立财富的开始。
  第四步,百万富翁并不是因为投资高风险的股票而致富的,他们大多数只投资一般的绩优股,慢,但是低风险地敛财。
  第五步,每月固定投资。使投资成为自己的习惯。不论投资金额多少,只要做到每月固定投资,就足以使你超越2/3以上的人。
  第六步,坚持就是胜利。调查显示,3/4的百万富翁买一种股票至少持有5年以上,将近四成的百万富翁买一种股票至少持有8年以上。股票买进卖出资本频繁,不仅冒险,还得付高额资本税、交易费、券商佣金等,“交易次数多,不会使你致富,只会使代理商致富。”
  第七步,把税务局当投资伙伴,善用之。厌恶税务局并不是建设性的思维,而应该把税务局当成自己的投资伙伴,注意新税务规定,善于利用免税的投资理财工具,使税务局成为你致富的助手。
  第八步,限制财务风险。百万富翁大多过着很乏味的生活,他们不爱换工作、只结一次婚、不生一堆孩子、通常不搬家、生活没有太多意外或新鲜,稳定性是他们的共同特色。
  理财致富是“马拉松竞赛”而非“百米冲刺”,比的是耐力而不是爆发力。对于短期无法预测,长期具有高报酬率之投资,最安全的投资策略是:先投资,等待机会再投资。
  塑造良好的理财心态
  很多人在学习理财时,最注重如何掌握投资的技巧:怎样去将手上的资金去生利,怎样在股票市场上去挑选合适的股票,怎样利用基金等投资工具,怎样投资房地产或生意,怎样尽量省下税金,怎样为退休或遗产作最佳的安排等等。不错,要有效地理财,必须了解各样投资工具的特性,然后定下一个整体的计划去实行,但有一样比这些技巧更重要的,就是先有正确的理财心态。态度不对,即使有最好的理财方法,往往也是徒劳无功。
  自古以来,钱财的吸引力令人难以抵御,试问谁不想银行存款或资产净值不断直线上升?可是人的贪性,令人心永不知足,为了追求钱财物质,不惜付出任何代价--家庭、健康、良知、甚至自己生命。上个世纪80年代华尔街投机专家,公开宣扬“贪是好的”言论,至上个世纪90年代股票市场长期上升,都令不少人对堆积财富如痴如醉,殊不知贪心却正是理财的首忌。
  贪心除了导致财务上的亏损外,也危害个人身心健康与家庭生活。建议大家在反思一下自己对理财的心态,然后才花时间为自己财务做一个谨慎的规划,去耐心地等候收成。
  到底富人拥有什么特殊技能,是那些天天省吃俭用、日日勤奋工作的上班族所欠缺的呢?富人何以能在一生中积累如此巨大的财富?那就是:投资理财的能力。人们理财知识的差距悬殊,是真正造成穷富差距的主要原因。
  获得财务自由的前提
  理财致富只需具备三个基本条件:固定的储蓄,追求高报酬以及长期等待。
  假定有一位年轻人,从现在开始能够定期每年存下1.4万元,如此持续40年;如果他每年存下的钱都能投资到股票或房地产,并获得每年平均20%的投资报酬率,那么40年后,他能积累多少财富?一般人所猜的金额,多落在200万元至800万元之间,顶多猜到 1000万元。然而正确的答案却是:1.0281亿,一个令众人惊讶的数字。这个数据是依照财务学计算年金的公式得之,计算公式如下:1.4万 (1+20%)40=1.0281亿。
  这个神奇的公式说明,一个25岁的上班族,如果依照这种方式投资到65岁退休时,就能成为亿万富翁了。投资理财没有什么复杂的技巧,最重要的是观念,观念正确就会赢,每一个理财致富的人,只不过养成了一般人不喜欢、且无法做到的习惯而已。
  有句俗语叫:“人两脚,钱四脚”,意思是钱有4只脚,钱追钱,比人追钱快多了。人的一生能积累多少钱,不是取决于你赚了多少钱,而是你如何理财。致富关键在如何理财,并非开源节流。
  目前,储蓄仍是大部分人传统的理财方式。但是,钱存在银行短期是最安全,但长期却是最危险的理财方式。银行存款何错之有?其错在于利率(投资报酬率) 太低,不适于作为长期投资工具。同样假设一个人每年存1.4万元;而他将这些钱全部存入银行,享受平均5%(更何况我们现在处在一个低利率时期,利率低得可以忽略不计,一年期的才1.98 %)的利率,40年后他可以积累1.4万元(1+5%)40=169万元。与投资报酬率为20%的项目相比,两者收益竟相差70多倍。
  更何况,货币价值还有一个隐形杀手——通货膨胀。在通货膨胀5%之下,将钱存在名义利率约为5%的银行,那么实质报酬等于零。因此,一个家庭存在银行的金额,保持在两个月的生活所需就足够了。不少理财专家建议将财产3等份,一份存银行,一份投资房地产,一份投资于较投机的工具上。不妨在投资组合时分为 “两大一小”,即大部分的资产以股票和房地产的形式投资,小部分的钱存在金融机构,以备日常生活所需。


迅速成为富人的八大取胜之道
  (一)职业取胜
  很多人有一种误解,以为单凭职场打拼无法快速致富,实际是随着社会的发展,某些职业的含金量越来越高,成为某一领域的专家权威,快速致富会很容易。另外如果在职场中能够不断晋升,相应的薪酬也会水涨船高。
  (二)专利取胜
  能够为社会提供的产品越具有适用性、越具有独特的知识技术含量,就越容易成功。从可口可乐到微软,世界上成功的创富故事很多与专利有关。
  (三)套利取胜
  拥有一定的资金以后,在不同的投资市场进行套利性质的操作是实现快速致富的捷径之一。前提是熟悉的投资市场越多越好,由于每一个投资市场其运行基本上都是涨涨跌跌的,所以白领熟悉的投资市场多,就容易抄到底部,资金也会因此而比较安全。
  (四)资源取胜
  白领应该不断有意识地积累资源。在现代社会中要取得成功,是否积累了丰富的资源是很关键的,成功的营销人员通常都是很注意培养人脉资源的,要成为一名专家他平时也必然要注意相关资料的收集整理。广义上的资源可以包括名气(知名度)、比较独特的技术、资金、人际关系、物质储备等。
  (五)借贷取胜
  普通白领要快速致富,必须学会借。除了金钱以外,还有很多东西都可以通过借来帮助提早实现自己的理想。当然借有时会存在一定的风险,尤其是借资金进行投机风险是很大的,只要注意控制风险,善于利用各种力量的人是较容易成功的。
  (六)合作取胜
  当机会来临而个人难以把握时,应该采取与他人合作的形式来争取赢利,千万不要因为贪婪而拒绝合作或者轻易放弃机会。好的发财机会虽然有但是毕竟不会频繁出现,应该珍惜每次机会。
  (七)出奇取胜
  与大多数人一样地工作一样地思维,并且只有与普通人差不多的生活目标,长此以往再出色的人也会沦为平庸。能够在关键时刻出奇制胜者,平时都是有心人,都是善于发现机会并且把握机会者。
  (八)资本取胜
  通过对全球巨富的研究,可以发现他们往往是资本市场中的长袖善舞者。通过资本市场融资,是快速积累财富的诀窍之一。所以当面临公司有上市的可能时,一定要把握住机会把公司做大做强。(投资与合作)

How The Rich Are Winning

by Brett Arends

You may have been hearing a lot of doom and gloom about the economy recently.

OK, so the news on jobs, real estate and retail sales has been dismal. Yes, maybe it's true the middle class is broke, in debt, under water, out of work and in despair.

But look on the bright side. One group of people is doing just fine. The rich.

The New York Times this weekend tried to find signs they were easing up -- maybe somebody put their new Ferrari on hold because of the Greek crisis. But any such suggestion should be viewed in context.

Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF - News) says sales at its flagship New York store jumped 26% in the first quarter. International luxury goods giant Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy -- whose brands range from Fendi to Givenchy to Moet & Chandon Champagne, plus, of course, those cliched Vuitton bags -- says U.S. sales boomed 20% in the first quarter, including a remarkable 58% boost for sales of jewelry and expensive watches like Tag Heuer.

Indeed the Swiss watch federation says exports of luxury watches (those $2,000 "timepieces") to the U.S. rose 12% in May and are now ahead 9% for the year. Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN - News) says same-store sales zoomed ahead 14% in June. They're up 11% year to date. Super-luxury goods purveyor Richemont -- which owns such brands as Cartier, Dunhill, and Van Cleef & Arpels -- says U.S. sales are up.

The Sunseeker Club in New York, America's biggest dealership in the multi-million dollar British luxury power boats, tells me business is strong again. Those who have the money to spend, they say, are spending it.

At times like these, cash buyers are king.

These are not isolated incidents. According to consultants Cap Gemini, the wealthy saw their net worth bounce back sharply last year. And while those with $1 million or more did pretty well, the real story was the boom among the ultra rich: Those with more than $30 million to invest. "Ultra-HNWIs (High Net Worth Individuals) increased their wealth by a striking 21.5% in 2009, far more than the average in the HNWI segment as a whole," Cap Gemini reported, adding: "A disproportionate amount of wealth remained concentrated in the hands of Ultra-HNWIs."

There are fewer than 100,000 ultras around the world. A third of those are here in the U.S. Ultras make up 1% of the high net worth, according to Cap Gemini, but held 36% of the high net worth's wealth.

Talk to any rich person, and they won't tell you they're doing well. They're more likely to complain. After all, taxes are going up. And there's that Black Panther communist in the White House spending us to rack and ruin on all this socialism.

Are they right?

The rich are always complaining. Back in Edwardian England the aristocrats moaned about the servants.

Sure, the top rates of tax expected to go up at the end of this year, when the Bush tax cuts are due to expire (the debate about the new tax regime rages on). But that will only take rates up a bit -- to the levels seen in the late 1990s. You remember how tough things were for the elite back then.

And who pays the top rate anyway?

Right now it only kicks in on each dollar of ordinary income over $374,000 a year. A recent study by the Congressional Budget Office found that the top 1% of Americans paid an average federal income tax rate of just 19% in 2007, the last year when data were available. The top 5% of earners paid an average rate of less than 18%. There are ways and means to minimize tax -- like calling your income "capital gains." That's what private equity honchos do, where possible. In many cases, it means people making tens of millions a year are paying lower tax rates than their chauffeurs and receptionists. (There are proposals to change that, with predictable screaming).

As for socialism: The Federal Reserve reports that the private sector is doing so badly that corporate profits just, um, rocketed to a new record high. The after-tax profits of corporate America rocketed 43% in the first quarter.

And let's not overlook, too, this year's gigantic one-off tax cut for the very wealthiest: The one-year abolition of the federal estate tax. When it comes to inheritance, we are, at least for a year, back in the age of President Taft. That, for example, saved George Steinbrenner's richly deserving heirs hundreds of millions in taxes. For years we've heard the wealthy rage against the estate tax and express their fervent wish they could avoid it. This year they have their chance.

The truth is, this is a great time and place in which to be rich. The average Fortune 500 chief executive pocketed $10.5 million in 2008, the last year for which data are yet available. That's more than 300 times the average worker's pay. Back in the Dark Ages -- the 1940s through 1980 -- the ratio was typically about 40 times. From 1979 through 2007, says the CBO, the top 1% saw their average household income skyrocket from $346,000 to $1.3 million in constant, 2007 dollars. That's after taxes. Meanwhile the average middle-class family saw their income rise from $44,000 to $55,000.

And according to an analysis by the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. has one of the most unequal income distributions in the world. In this field, most of the developed world is pretty much in line -- Japan, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Great Britain. Some are more unequal than others, but all are comparable. In each case, of course, the rich make more than the middle class, sometimes a lot more. But they generally occupy the same economy.

The U.S.? Our income distribution is more in line with Zimbabwe, Argentina, and El Salvador. We think of Russia as the land of oligarchs, but America's inequality is actually slightly greater than Russia's.

Maybe we should all be investing in luxury goods companies, and launching overpriced "designer" labels targeted at oligarchs with more money than sense. As for all those millions out of work: Maybe they can get jobs as servants.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Scams: A Sucker Retires Every Minute

by Alexis Leondis

More retirees are being targeted by financial fraudsters. Often, these scammers are themselves elderly.

Annuities. Reverse mortgages. Life insurance pools. Principal-protected notes. The options being offered to senior citizens hoping to ensure a comfortable retirement are dizzying. And in a growing number of cases, that may be the intention as more scammers--often elderly themselves--try to con retirees. Though hard numbers are difficult to come by, many lawyers and advocates for the elderly say more seniors than ever are being lured into investment schemes that are unsuitable for people of their age or are outright swindles. "Seniors who suffer from isolation and diminished capacity make ideal targets," says Steve Riess, a San Francisco attorney who represents elderly victims of con artists peddling bogus investments.

One out of five Americans over the age of 65 has been the victim of a financial scam, according to the Washington-based Investor Protection Trust, a nonprofit that promotes shareholder education. That means more than 7.3 million seniors have been taken advantage of financially through inappropriate investments, high fees, or fraud, which insurer MetLife says comes at a cost of more than $2.6 billion a year. "Older people are being targeted because, as 1930s robber Willie Sutton said when asked why he robs banks, 'that's where the money is,'" says Kathleen Quinn, executive director of the National Adult Protective Services Assn. in Springfield, Ill.

Many of today's scammers have a particularly good understanding of their victims--because the fraudsters themselves are of retirement age, if not exactly retired. More elderly con artists than ever seem to be preying on retirees, perhaps because senior citizens put more confidence in someone their age, says Denise Voigt Crawford, president of the North American Securities Administrators Assn. "It's astounding that you can't even trust older people anymore," Crawford says.

In November, William Kirshner, 84, a financial adviser in Corpus Christi, Tex., was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing more than $100,000 from senior citizens and other clients who invested in promissory notes issued by his company. Ronald Keith Owens (above), 74, was sentenced to 60 years in prison in January 2009 for persuading investors, including retirees, to put more than $2.6 million into nonexistent bank-related investments. And William Walter Spencer, 68, a Franklin (Tenn.) financial adviser, sold elderly members of his church promissory notes that turned out to be bogus. He pleaded guilty to fraud in May and is expected to be sentenced in August.

Veterans are a big target. Several groups offer to help former soldiers sign up for a $2,000-a-month benefit from the Veterans Affairs Dept. in Washington. While the program is real, some groups are telling seniors they can only qualify if they liquidate their assets and purchase an annuity, which usually comes with a hefty sales commission.

Reverse mortgages, which let people aged 62 and older get cash out of their homes and are repaid when the borrower dies or moves, are a big part of many scams. One popular ruse is urging the elderly to finance annuity purchases with a reverse mortgage, despite a ban on cross-selling them with other financial products. Other unsuitable investments being pushed on seniors are pools of life insurance policies, similar to the bundles of home mortgages that helped fuel the financial crisis. Some of these have turned out to include policies that don't exist, and it's unclear whether they're supposed to be overseen by state insurance regulators or the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Principal-protected notes are another investment being pushed on the elderly, says John Gannon of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in Washington. He says seniors fall for these because the name makes it sound as if they're risk-free; in fact the principal isn't always protected, as holders of notes backed by Lehman Brothers learned when the firm collapsed. "Financial professionals, both legitimate and illegitimate, know there are assets seniors have that they can get their hands on," Gannon says. "They've figured out ways to get to all of them."

The new financial regulatory reform bill would crack down on advisers who market themselves as specialists in investments for seniors, and another measure would include harsher penalties for anyone committing securities fraud against the elderly. "We need better regulation of this industry," says 75-year-old Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who heads the Senate's Special Committee on Aging, "so seniors can tell the difference between professionals who offer clear and unbiased financial advice and bad actors...who steer them toward inappropriate financial products."

The Bottom Line: More retirees than ever are being targeted by financial swindlers, many of whom are themselves elderly.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Sunshine Empire trio guilty

By Khushwant Singh

A DISTRICT court convicted former head of Sunshine Empire James Phang Wah, 49, and ex-director Jackie Hoo Choon Cheat, 29, on Friday for perpetrating a fraud and for criminal breach of trust.

Phang and his wife Neo Kuon Huay, 46, were also found guilty of falsifying accounts. The trio will be sentenced on July 30.

During the two-month long trial that started last October, the prosecution presented evidence that the two men had misled participants about the customer rebate points (CRP) earned by buying the firm's lifestyle packages. The duo had claimed the CRP was derived from the firm's turnover on the e-mall platform.

While this sounds impressive, it was essentially meaningless, as the e-commerce platform generated no additional income for Sunshine, District Judge Jasvender Kaur noted.

The CRP was paid out from the sale of new packages and since the rebate points could come up to 160 per cent of the cost of a package, the scheme was doomed to fail, the judge said on Friday.

The court also ruled that both men had committed eight CBT offences by paying Neo a monthly commission of one per cent of total sales under the guise that she was the firm's group sales director.

Phang and his wife were also convicted on six charges of falsifying accounts for the payment of these commissions.

Phang and Hoo face a maximum of $15,000 fine and seven years' jail for fraudulent trading. For the CBT offences, they face a maximum of life imprisonment and a fine. The maximum penalty for falsifying accounts is seven years' jail with a fine.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

How do you make more money than your boss?

Please share with us your ways of doing so!

Retirement Shouldn't Be Numbers Game

by Joe Mont

There shouldn't be any harm in finding ways to simplify the complexities of retirement planning.

Over the years, much advice has drawn upon "magic numbers" touted as simple guidelines and goalposts for investors.

Those cookie-cutter bits of wisdom, however, hardly reflect the changing face of retirement, an evolution charged up by the millions of Baby Boomers who are just now reaching retirement age. Some may be downright dangerous to follow. Here are some common measures and how they stack up.

The Magic Number: 70%

What It Means: Plan to spend 70% of your current income in retirement. For example, if your pre-retirement income was $100,000 a year, spend $70,000 in your golden years.

What's Wrong With It: People are living longer than ever. (The life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.4.) With a company pension, you may be set for life, no matter how long you live. With direct-benefit plans giving way to employee-managed 401(k)'s and IRAs, retirement savings has become finite and the risk of running out of money as you grow older becomes very real.

That is not to say you should live out your remaining days as a penny-pincher. But it does mean that you need to individualize your game plan.

Do you come from a family with some members who have lived into their 90s? Do you have an illness that may someday require long-term care? Those and other personal factors need to be among the many things to think about as you assess your post-retirement spending habits and investment strategies.

The Magic Number: 4%

What It Means: This is another spending guideline. It suggests that a retiree spend an inflation-adjusted 4% of his or her total retirement assets each year, keeping the balance invested with a mix of stocks and bonds.

What's Wrong With It: No less an authority than Nobel laureate William Sharpe, professor of finance, emeritus, at the Stanford Graduate School of Business has written extensively about this "rule" and why it can ultimately be harmful.

The rigidity of the spending plan is among its problems. If a portfolio underperforms, staying the course is a clear path to running out of money. When returns are better than expected, there is an unspent surplus.

Sharpe offers an alternative to the 4% rule. Instead, invest in TIPS (Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities). If those returns prove insufficient, an investor can always dial up portfolio risk and seek better returns.

The Magic Number: 62

What It Means: The earliest age that one can start collecting Social Security benefits (at reduced levels). It is also the average retirement age, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

What's Wrong With It: Working longer not only allows you to earn full benefits (the threshold for which has steadily crept up to 66 in recent years) but a few extra years on the job means more salary to tuck away and a healthier 401(k) or IRA.

The Magic Number: 1 million

What It Means: The number of dollars many advisors offer as a retirement savings goal.

What's Wrong With It: When we last tackled this topic, it generated a boatload of angry responses. Times are tough and the last thing folks wanted to hear were advisors' warnings that even $1 million may not be sufficient.

The initial story focused on a poll of registered investment advisors by Scottrade. It found that 71% of them don't believe $1 million is enough for the average American family. Most said families need to save double, or more than triple, the amount.

A great many readers raised two common arguments: that financial advisors are in the business of getting you to invest more, so of course they want to up the ante; and times are tough and there is no way that most families can save even close to a million bucks.

An Employee Benefit Research Institute study of self-directed retirement plans bears out the latter talking point. It found, for example, that those between the ages of 55 and 64 averaged only $69,127. We've seen other studies that move the mark even lower.

Both sides make valid points. With longer lives, inflation and rising medical costs, the advisors who were polled may not be all that reckless. After all, it wasn't a question of what families can save, rather what would be ideal.

To those on the other side, it's probably true that the vast majority of us will find a way to make due with far less than what was suggested. To sum up the good advice posted by commenters, paying off your mortgage and debt, staying away from credit and luxury spending, and maintaining a diversified and balanced investment portfolio are ways to ensure sufficient retirement savings.

-- Reported by Joe Mont in Boston.

Bear-Market Sentiment Is Back: Fund Survey

nvestor expectations for economic growth and profit have double-dipped, according to Bank of America-Merrill Lynch's latest fund survey.

The survey released Tuesday found that fund managers turned bearish in their outlook on the global economy and corporate earnings for the first time since February 2009.

Investors said they were more concerned about the outlook for US stocks now than at any other point since November 2006.

A recent string of weak US economic data raised speculation the recovery may be losing momentum, with June nonfarm payrolls falling by the largest number since October.

But others are less bearish, with IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn playing down the possiblity of a double-dip recession Tuesday.

For the first time in over a year, investors expect corporate profits to weaken. Asset allocations towards pharmaceuticals, a classic defensive sector, increased to the highest level since March 2009, according to the survey.

On Monday, US aluminum maker Alcoa (NYSE: aa) kicked off the second quarter earnings season with a return to profit.

"July's survey echoes the sentiment that investors expressed during the recession in early 2009," said Gary Baker, head of European equity strategy at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.

And while investors have become more risk averse, Baker suggested that if upcoming economic data fails to confirm the double-dip that fund managers are expecting, risk assets will have a much better third quarter.

A total of 202 fund managers, managing a total of $530 billion, participated in the survey from July 1 to July 8.

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