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You may have heard of people making a great deal of money off of the Internet and wondered if it was true.
You can actually turn your computer into a cash machine and start making money on a number of online ventures and you can do it with little or no upfront investment.
The Internet has spawned countless millionaires, it has helped stay-at-home moms bring in a little extra cash for their households, sprouted numerous websites promoting everything under the sun and it’s made people famous and rich at the same time. There are so many ways to make an online income, and I’m going to share some of them with you here in the following pages. If you follow the tips in this book, there’s no way to NOT make some money.
You can write eBooks, write articles and have them distributed, you can blog, you can sell things on eBay, you can become an affiliate marketer, an Internet Marketer or sell things on Craigslist.
It’s all there for the taking, so step up and get your slice of the Internet pie.
There are some things you need to do before you jump right into making money online.
First, you must decide just what it is that you want to do. Take a look at where your strengths lie, what you’re interested in, what talents you have and what you can do with them. People who make a good living off of the Internet generally do so because they use their gifts, their talents and even their hobbies.
You’ll need a computer, Internet access, and the ability to take payments online from a service such as Paypal or credit cards. You’ll need a website, so you should look for cheap domains to purchase that will host your Internet venture, if that’s the direction you’re going to take your business.
There are ways to make money online without owning a website and I’ll talk more about those later.
An eBook is short for Electronic Book, it’s created on a computer and sold digitally to customers. You’re reading one right now!
It does not pass through editors and publishers who all take a portion of the profits from the author. If you can write and are an expert on something, you can write an eBook and sell it online. An Ebook has distinct advantages over a regular book in that you can place hyperlinks into an eBook that will direct customers to websites where you may be selling products relating to that particular eBook. In this way you make money once on your eBook sale and then again when your customers pay you a visit on your website.
You can place Affiliate Links in your book. An Affiliate link is where your customer clicks and is taken to a place like Amazon or another website selling products. When they purchase products from these links, you the author, are given a portion of the sale.
If you enjoy writing, you may wish to try your hand at writing a blog. The subject can be anything of interest to you, and you can place ads targeted to your audience on your blog. When items are bought by your readers through those links, you make money. Ka-ching!
If you can write, you can make money online.
Let’s say you enjoy raising pygmy goats. You’re an expert on pygmy goats. You know how to breed them, what they eat, how to handle their health issues and just where to tickle them to make them giggle. You are The Pygmy Goat Whisperer.
Write articles about pygmy goats and submit them to an article directory like Article Dashboard, or an Ezine. Within your article on Pygmy Goat Nutrition, you can insert hyperlinks to your webpage where you sell All Natural Pygmy Goat Food. People come to the article directory searching for pieces to place on their websites. Someone chooses your article and it’s spread to all the visitors to that particular website. People begin to visit your website and start buying the things you have to sell. They sign up for your free Pygmy Goat Newsletter, and join your Pygmy Goat Lovers Membership group, at a price of course. You are making money various ways and it all started because you love pygmy goats and you wrote an article about it.
Your marketing goes on and on as long as your article is available on the directory.
There are numerous ways to make money through Internet Marketing. What you’re going to need is a product to sell, whether it be a physical product or a digital product of information.
Let’s say you create garden gnomes, in all shapes and colors. Some are happy some are sad and a few are just plain creepy looking. Now you want to make money off your gnomes. You will need to market them.
You’ll need a website, a sales page, pictures of your gnome inventory and your prices. Setting up a domain, an account with paypal and then advertising your wares in various places is all well and good, but what if no one comes to visit your site? You have no traffic. You need traffic.
Market yourself. Put your name out there as THE person to see for garden gnomes. Put in keywords, the words that search engines look for people are searching for things online, all through your website. Visit other sites that are garden gnome related. Trade links with them, foster a relationship in gnome forums and brand your name. Make sure that when you post, your signature has a link to your website in it. Advertise through Google or other web pages. Bring in the customers.
Yes Virginia, there is a special place called eBay, where all the used clothing, the Barry Manilow cd’s people got tired of, recycled wedding gowns, eBooks on how to get gum out of your hair and all the odd toys from the island of misfit toys come to be sold at auction to the highest bidder~~and people are making a killing there.
If you have something you would like to sell, something you don’t need any longer, you can put it up for sale on Ebay. Set up a free account, browse the categories’ they offer to get an idea of what’s for sale and then either buy something or put something up for sale yourself. For a small fee, you can add pictures to your listing and create your own sales page to bring in customers. If you have a large inventory of things, like…oh, say garden gnomes with pygmy goat companions, you can have an online eBay store to sell your stock of the little critters.
You can customize your auctions for three days or an entire week, depending upon how much exposure you want and how fast you’d like it to go. Set a reserve price for your product, so that someone can simply pay that price, end the auction and go home with your product. Ebay is an excellent way to make money online.
Once upon a time a young man living in the San Francisco area had a computer. His name was Craig Newmark and he started posting things about cool things going on around town. Its popularity grew in leaps and bounds, so Craig had to get a Listserver majordomo, which required a name. He wanted to call his list ‘sf-events’ but was persuaded to call it Craigslist, since that is essentially what it was at the time.
Later, people started adding other things to the list, like apartments for rent and garage sale items. Craigslist is in every state and in most countries and it’s become a great way to sell things and services to people.
If you have bunk beds that your children have outgrown, post them on Craigslist and watch the buyers come in droves. People are always searching for great deals and there are tons of products priced quite reasonably there. Some people scour garage sales in their neighborhoods, purchasing bargains and then reselling them for a profit. Craigslist is another great way to make money online.
The Internet has an amazing variety of possibilities from which to profit. If you have the desire to become the next Internet billionaire then you’d better get busy. There truly are no get rich quick schemes that work, although thousands of spammers will do their very best to convince you otherwise and pressure you to purchase their programs to make six figures in two days or less!
Avoid the hype and the hucksters. Take your time to learn the ropes. Study your options and see which Internet business is for you, then put all your energy behind it. Persevere, if you get knocked down, get right back up.
Learn from those who have more experience than you do. Join forums where ebusiness is discussed. Study what has made them successful Internet Entrepreneurs and what mistakes they’ve made so you don’t have to make those same ones.
Yes, you can turn your computer into a cash machine. You just need to know the right buttons to push.
Many people often associate economic downturn with lack or absence of opportunities. “It’s simply impossible to make money much less to prosper during an economic recession or depression.”
This is absolutely not true.
Because the truth is, economic recessions or it’s uglier cousin, economic depressions, are just the perfect opportunities that anyone with vision can take advantage of to become not just rich – but filthy rich!
For the record no less than America’s second richest person alive, Warren Buffet whose personal fortune reached a dizzying $48 billion before he decided to give back to the society $31 billion can attest to this.
Warren Buffet built his massive fortune buying businesses and properties that most people had given up as lost. To many businessmen, he is the great rescuer who bailed them out of their economic miseries.
But of course Warren Buffet saw more than rescuing them out of their economic woes. If he sees no value or potential in their businesses, he sees no reason to buy them.
But what exactly does he know that ordinary mortals don’t usually know about economic downturns?
First and foremost, economic downturns don’t last. During bad times, Prophets of Doom would say the worst things about the economy.
Of course things are bad. But they only remain bad to a certain point. This is because of the thing called Economic Cycle.
Economic Cycles are periods in history of booms and busts. Economic cycles are the hallmarks of laissez faire system. Economic cycles behave just like the seasons.
And just like the seasons, the climate always changes. And just like the seasons you can predict a downturn or an upturn.
What happened just after just the turn of 20th century was a classic example of an economic boom suddenly gone bust.
In the roaring 20’s people thought that there was no stopping to the prosperous times. Until one day, people started dumping stocks at such a frenzy that it sent the whole world in probably the worst economic depression in history.
By all means the signs of a coming collapse were present. Stocks were at all time high. In fact unreasonably high. And people were living beyond their means.
The same thing happened again with the housing market in 2007. Just a couple of years ago, the sense of affluence was everywhere with home values skyrocketing.
Because of the high cost of home ownership many Americans were forced to borrow beyond their means. The result was a credit crisis that sent the world reeling again in another round of recession.
So the question now is if we could predict an economic downturn, could we also predict an economic upturn?
The answer is yes.
If you religiously watch CNBC or read CNNmoney.com, you’d find that home prices had already gone low enough to attract the buyers back.
But how low it could get is the question. Prospective home buyers are still in the sidelines waiting for better bargains. The question this time is when will they decide that the price is already right enough to make them buy?
The following articles will open your eyes to the realities of economic cycles and the opportunities that you can take advantage of for your personal economic growth.
An economic downturn is a phase of the business cycle in which the economy as a whole is in decline.This phase basically marks the end of the period of growth in the business cycle. Economic downturns are characterized by decreased levels of consumer purchases (especially of durable goods) and, subsequently, reduced levels of production by businesses.
While economic downturns are admittedly difficult, and are formidable obstacles to small businesses that are trying to survive and grow, an economic downturn can open up opportunities. A well-managed company can realize the opportunity to gain market share by taking customers away from their competitors. Resourceful entrepreneurs capture the available opportunities, from an economic downturn, by developing alternate methods of doing business that were never implemented during a prior growth period.
The challenge of successfully navigating your business through an economic downturn lies in the realignment of your business with current economic realities. Specifically, you, as the business owner, need to renew a focus on your core clients/customers, reduce your operating expenses, conserve cash, and manage more proactively, rather than reactively, is paramount.
Here are best practices that will help you to successfully navigate your business through an economic downturn:
The primary goal of any business owner is to survive the current economic downturn and to develop a leaner, more cost-effective and more efficient operation. The secondary goal is to grow the business even during this current economic downturn.
• Conserve cash.
• Protect assets.
• Reduce costs.
• Improve efficiencies.
• Grow customer base.
• Do not panic… History shows that economic downturns do not last forever. Remain calm and act in a rational manner as you refocus your attention on resizing your company to the current economic conditions.
• Focus on what YOU can control… Don’t let the media’s rhetoric concerning recessions and economic slowdown deter you from achieving business success. It´s a trap! Why? Because the condition of the economy is beyond your control. Surviving economic downturns requires a focus on what you can control, i.e. your relevant business activities.
• Communicate, communicate, and communicate! Beware of the pitfall of trying to do too much on your own. It is a difficult task indeed to survive and to grow your business solely with your own efforts. Solicit ideas and seek the help of other people (your employees, suppliers, lenders, customers, and advisors). Communicate honestly and consistently. Effective two-way communication is the key.
• Negotiate, negotiate, and negotiate! The value of a strong negotiation skill set cannot be overstated. Negotiating better deals and contracts is an absolute must for realigning and resizing your company to the current economic conditions. The key to success is not only knowing how to develop a win-win approach in negotiations with all parties, but also keeping in mind the fact that you want a favorable outcome for yourself too.
Recommended Best Practice Activities:
The Nuts and Bolts… The following list of recommended best practice activities is critical for your business’ survival and for its growth during an economic downturn. The actual financial health of your particular business, at the outset of the economic downturn, will dictate the priority and urgency of the implementation of the following best practice activities.
1. Diligently monitor your cash flow: Forecast your cash flow monthly to ensure that expenses and planned expenditures are in line with accounts receivable. Include cash flow statements into your monthly financial reporting. Project cash requirements three-to- six months in advance. The key is to know how to monitor, protect, control, and put cash to work.
2. Carefully convert your inventories: Convert excess, obsolete, and slow-moving inventory items into cash. Consider returning excess and slow-moving items back to the suppliers. Close-out or inventory reduction sales work well to resize your inventory. Also, consider narrowing your product offerings. Well-timed order placement helps to reduce excess inventory levels and occasional material shortages. The key is to reduce the amount of your inventory without losing sales.
3. Timely collection of your accounts receivable: This asset should be converted to cash as quickly as possible. Offer prompt payment discounts to encourage timely payments. Make changes in the terms of sale for slow paying customers (i.e. changing net 30 day terms to COD). Invoicing is an important part of your cash flow management. The first rule of invoicing is to do it as soon as possible after products are shipped and/or after services are delivered. Place an emphasis on reducing billing errors. Most customers delay payments because an invoice had errors, and therefore, will not pay until they receive a corrected copy. Email or fax your invoices to save on mailing time. Post the payments that you have received and make deposits more frequently. The key is to develop an efficient collection system that generates timely payments and one that gives you advance warning of problems.
4. Re-focus your attention on your existing clients/customers: Make customer satisfaction your priority. A regular review of your customers’ buying history and frequency of purchases can reveal some interesting facts about your customers’ buying habits. Consider signing long-term contracts with your core clients/customers which will add to your security. Offer a discount for upfront cash payments. The key is to do what it takes to keep your current customers loyal.
5. Re-negotiate with your suppliers, lenders, and landlord:
i) Suppliers: Always keep your negotiations on the level of need, saying that your company has reviewed its cost structure and has determined that it needs to lower supplier costs. . Tell the supplier that you value the relationship you have developed, but that you need to receive a cost reduction immediately. Ask your supplier for a lower material price, a longer payment cycle, and the elimination of finance charges. Also, see if you can buy material from them on a consignment basis. In return for their price concessions, be willing to agree to a long-term contract. Explore the idea of bartering as a form of payment.
ii) Lenders: Everything in business finance is negotiable and your relationship with a bank is no exception. The first step to successful renegotiations is to convince your lenders that you can ultimately pay off the renegotiated loan. You must point out to your lenders why it would be in their best interest to agree to a new arrangement. Showing them your business plan and your action plan that includes your cost-savings initiatives, along with “the how” and “the when” of the implementation of your plan is the best way to achieve this goal. Explain to them that you will need their cooperation to insure that you can survive, as well as, grow your business during the economic downturn. Negotiated items include: the rate of interest, the required security to cover the loan, and the beginning date for repayment. A beginning date for repayment could be immediate, within several months or as long as a year. The key is to realize that your lender will work with you, but that frequent and continual communications with them is critical.
iii) Landlord: Meet with your landlord. Explain your need to have them extend the term of your lease at a reduced cost. Make sure you have a clause in the lease agreement that entitles you to have the right to sublet any or all of the leased space.
6. Re-evaluate your staffing requirements: This is a very critical area. Salaries/wages are a major expense of doing business. Therefore, any reduction in the hours worked through work schedule changes, short-term layoffs or permanent layoffs has an immediate cost saving benefit. Most companies ramped up hiring new employees in the good times, only to find that they are currently overstaffed due to slow sales during the economic downturn. In terms of down-sizing your staff, be very careful not to reduce your staff to a level that forces you to skimp on customer service and quality. Consider the use of part-timers or the current trend of outsourcing certain functions to independent contractors.
7. Shop for better insurances rates: Get quotations from other insurance agents for comparable coverage to determine whether or not your present insurance carrier is competitive. Also, consider revising your coverage to reduce premium costs. The key is to have the right balance-to be adequately insured, but not under or over insured.
8. Re-evaluate your advertising: Contrary to the other cost-cutting initiatives, evaluate the possibility of increasing your advertising expenditures. This tactic realizes the advantage of the reduced “noise” and congestion (fewer advertisers) in the marketplace. The downturn period a great opportunity to increase brand awareness and create additional demand for your product/service offerings.
9. Seek the help of outside advisors: The use of an advisory board comprised of your CPA, attorney, and business consultant offers you objectivity and provides you with professional advice and guidance. Their collective experience in working with similar situations in past economic downturns is invaluable.
10. Review your other expenses: Target an across-the-board cost-cutting initiative of 10-15%. Attempt to eliminate unnecessary expenses. Tightening your belt in order to weather the downturn makes practical, financial sense.
Proactively managing your business through an economic downturn is an enormous challenge and is critical for your survival. However, through well-planned initiatives, an economic downturn can create tremendous opportunity for your company to gain greater market share. In order to take advantage of this growth opportunity, you must act quickly to implement the above best business practices to continue realigning and resizing your company to the current economic conditions.
Copyright © 2008 Terry H. Hill
You may reprint this article free of charge in your newsletter, magazine, or on your website, provided that the article is unedited, and that the copyright, author’s bio, and contact information below appears with each article. Articles appearing on the web must provide a hyperlink to the author’s web site, http://www.legacyai.com
Terry H. Hill is the founder and managing partner of Legacy Associates, Inc, a business consulting and advisory services firm. A veteran chief executive, Terry works directly with business owners of privately held companies on the issues and challenges that they face in each stage of their business life cycle. To find out how he can help you take your business to the next level, visit his site at http://www.legacyai.com
To download a copy of this article, click on this link: http://www.legacyai.com/Article_Downturn.html.
About The Author
An author, speaker, and consultant, Terry H. Hill is the founder and managing partner of Legacy Associates, Inc., a business consulting and advisory services firm based in Sarasota, Florida. A veteran chief executive, Terry works directly with business owners of privately held companies on the issues and challenges that they face in each stage of their business life cycle. Terry is the author of the business desk-reference book, How to Jump Start Your Business. He hosts the Business Insights from Legacy Blog at http://blog.legacyai.com and writes a bi-monthly eNewsletter, “Business Insights from Legacy eZine.”
By signing up for Business Insights from Legacy eZine at http://tinyurl.com/2t4fxs you can keep abreast of the latest tips, tactics, and best business practices. You will, also, receive the free eBook, Jump Start Your Knowledge of Business.
Contact Terry by email at http://www.legacyai.com or telephone him at 941-556-1299.
Understanding the Mortgage Meltdown; What happened and Who’s to Blame
by: Richard Gandon
People are losing their homes and many more will lose their jobs before the mortgage meltdown works its way through the system.
To paraphrase Alan Greenspan’s remarks on March 17th, 2008, “The current financial crisis in the US is likely to be judged in retrospect as the most wrenching since the end of the Second World War. The crisis will leave many casualties.”
How many casualties? Experts are predicting that in the next few years, between 15 and 20 million homeowners could have homes worth less than what they owe. Walking away from a bad situation may actually make sense for people who mortgages that are ‘upside down’ considering the fact that refinancing is out of the question and home equity is nonexistent.
It seems quite easy to point fingers at greedy Wall Street titans for causing the sub-prime mortgage crises. They after all, put together the deals that allowed banks to underwrite mortgages and then offload these liabilities to investors. What many fail to realize is that there is no shortage of blame to go around from homeowners buying more home than they could afford to real estate agents looking for more commission dollars. Mortgage brokers and bankers, the banks themselves, ratings agencies such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, Wall Street, the Fed and last but certainly not least, the Federal Government.
Let’s start with the homeowners–the people who are now in the process or soon to enter the process, of losing their homes. Some of these people had never before owned a home and as such, may not have been prepared for the costs associated with homeownership. Basic financial literacy is sorely lacking in this country despite there being no shortage of budgeting and tracking programs readily available such as Quicken and Microsoft Money. The lack of financial literacy does not absolve these buyers of their responsibility. Every borrower receives a truth in lending disclosure statement. Here is a portion of what the act covers:
The purpose of TILA (Truth In Lending Act) is to promote the informed use of consumer credit by requiring disclosures about its terms and cost. TILA also gives consumers the right to cancel certain credit transactions that involve a lien on a consumer’s principal dwelling, regulates certain credit card practices, and provides a means for fair and timely resolution of credit billing disputes. With the exception of certain high-cost mortgage loans, TILA does not regulate the charges that may be imposed for consumer credit. Rather, it requires a maximum interest rate to be stated in variable-rate contracts secured by the consumer’s dwelling. It also imposes limitations on home equity plans that are subject to the requirements of Sec. 226.5b and mortgages that are subject to the requirements of Sec. 226.32. The regulation prohibits certain acts or practices in connection with credit secured by a consumer’s principal dwelling.
Much of the subprime mortgage crisis can be traced directly back to variable-rate mortgages. As is clearly stated above, “TILA does not regulate the charge that may be imposed for consumer credit. Rather, it requires a maximum interest rate to be stated in variable-rate contracts secured by the consumers dwelling.” It also clearly states that TILA also gives consumers the right to cancel certain credit transactions that involve a lien on a consumer’s principal dwelling. One has to wonder whether or not these homeowners:
1. Bothered to read the truth in lending act disclosure at all.
2. Understood what the truth in lending act disclosure meant.
3. Chose to ignore the information printed clearly the truth in lending act disclosure.
A number of months ago, just as the subprime mortgage crisis was beginning to unfold, The New York Daily News ran an article about a family in New York City, who had bought a home and were now faced with the prospect of foreclosure. The article was sympathetic to this family, highlighting the fact that they’re living the American dream and that this dream was about to come to an end. What I found to be distressing was the fact that clearly visible in the photo that accompanied this sympathetic article was a very expensive flat screen television hanging on the wall. Perhaps I’m naïve, but I can assure you that if I were faced with the prospect of losing my home and having my family put out on the street, there is absolutely no way that I would still have that expensive television hanging on my wall. It would have been one of the first things to be sold and some financial relief would be found by jettisoning what I’m sure was the expensive cable bill.
Clearly the public needs easy access to financial literacy courses. Too bad we don’t see the need to make this a mandatory course of study in our educational system.
Mortgage bankers and brokers have in the last four or five years been raking in cash by the bucket load in the form of commissions paid when mortgages they’ve originated, close. Many of these people have not needed to do much in the way of prospecting. Instead, their phones have run off the hook as people have jumped on the homeownership and refinancing and take out extra cash bandwagon, despite their ability to pay for their home. No-document loans were readily available without the borrower having to produce documentation that backed up their income. Clearly this practice can and indeed has, lead to substandard loan underwriting processes. Were some of these mortgage bankers and brokers dishonest? Sure. Were all of them dishonest? I think not. To have a massive nationwide conspiracy, where thousands and thousands of people involved in the mortgage banking and mortgage brokering profession got together to create this situation is simply not feasible. Yes, some of the blame does belong with those in the mortgage industry, but they were simply a small cog in the huge machine that created this mess.
Let’s discuss real estate agents. In 2007, we bought a home, and also sold a home. The agent we used to purchase our home was absolutely fantastic. In our opinion, she went above and beyond to make our deal happen. She answered every phone call, followed up on every concern and was the epitome of professionalism. We consider this individual to be a friend, and we have sent referrals her way that have resulted in her earning additional commissions. We will continue to recommend her to all who ask or mention that they’d like to buy or sell a home in our area.
The real estate agent, we used to sell our home, could not have been more different. We got our old home ready to sell prior to closing on our new home. We decided to list it as “For Sale by Owner.” In the event that we didn’t sell this home on our own, it was our intention to list it with an agent as soon as we had closed on the purchase our new home. Literally, from the day we put the sign in front of our home and listed it on a “For Sale by Owner” website we were inundated with phone calls from real estate agents. We were told many lies and were constantly harassed; although we had already made it quite clear to every agent who called, and there were more to 60 who did; that we were willing to pay half the commission-the same as they would have received had they sold another agent’s listing. We also told every agent that called that we had already lined up an agent to sell our home in the event that we chose to no longer sell it ourselves. Our deadline was the closing date of our new home purchase. We did have an interested buyer who shortly after our closing date decided to keep looking so we listed our home with a local agent so that we could concentrate on getting our new home ready for our moving date at the end of the school year. This agent showed our home a maximum of two times and got an offer which we accepted. We ended up getting $1,000 less than we had wanted in a declining Real Estate market. The agents who had called many times to harass us called our listing agent on a number of occasions and he lied telling them that the house was under contract when in fact it wasn’t at that time-clearly a breach of our agent’s fiduciary duty. Quite frankly an ethical agent would have continued to show our home until closing in the event that the deal fell through.
But wait, there’s more. Our agent also acted as the buyer’s mortgage broker. At the closing table, we learned that he had signed documents from the buyer stating that he (our agent) represented them and we had signed documents stating that he represented us. We also learned that the buyer had effectively put down approximately 2-3% of the purchase price when financed closing costs were factored into the equation. Their first mortgage had what we thought was a high fixed rate and their second mortgage came with a rate in excess of 8.5%. Because the closing happened in August, literally in the midst of the first wave of the meltdown, if they didn’t close on the day they did (August 31st, 2007), Citibank wasn’t going to extend their rate. When my wife & I have bought houses in the past, it had always been a very happy day. These people looked absolutely shell-shocked at the closing table. I’m not convinced that they knew just how much their monthly payment was going to be until closing day. We knew down to the penny well in advance having budgeted and planned everything on a spreadsheet. Were these people stupid or just inexperienced and mislead by a greedy combination of real estate agent & mortgage broker? I’m extremely confident that they are intelligent people but inexperienced and taken advantage of by an unscrupulous agent.
The banks are also culpable. Prior to bank deregulation, Savings and Loans provided mortgages to home buyers and kept these loans on their books. Non-performing loans had a negative effect on the S&L’s profitability which of course caused tighter lending guidelines such as job stability and decent down payments in order for prospective home buyers to be approved for a mortgage. Way back then, a home buyer had to actually save up enough money for a down payment 10 or even 20% before a bank would ever consider underwriting a mortgage. The checks & balances kept banks solvent and borrowers responsible. Although this approach worked, some cried foul stating that the regulated system was racist and discriminatory-and there certainly was some truth to this. Skipping forward to the present, banks made a bundle on mortgages over the past five or six years. For the most part, they allowed their underwriting criteria to be stretched so far out of alignment that almost anyone could and indeed did, qualify for a mortgage despite their ability to pay. Some folks even applied for and received mortgages for more than the property was worth. Sometimes for as much as 25% more than their property was worth!
Under the prior system, 125% mortgages would not have been possible because of course these loans were held on the banks’ books and could have led to losses that would have had to have been absorbed directly by the bank.
So what went wrong? Under the current system, these loans were sold to the big Wall Street investment firms who repackaged them as collateralized mortgage obligations (CMO’s), Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS’s) and other similar acronyms. These instruments were then sent to the ratings agencies for their blessing and more importantly a letter rating. Many of these structured finance deals receive AAA ratings-the highest ratings available meaning that in theory, these instruments were least likely to default. How does one create a ‘triple A’ or AAA rated financial instrument out of sub-prime mortgages? Herein lies the magic. These Asset Backed Securities (ABS) are made up of different tranches or slices, each carrying a different risk and reward level. The first dollar of principle and interest is applied to the securities with the highest rating, and the first dollar of loss is applied to the tranche with the lowest ratings. The lower slices are designed to provide a security blanket that in theory protects the higher-rated securities. The investment banks that package or ‘structure’ these securities in order to earn fat fees when they sell them to investors are the same entities that pay the ratings agencies to rate these instruments. Clearly the possibility for conflict of interest is present. If investors and not the investment banks that stand to rake in millions in fees were to pay for the rating, the potential for this conflict of interest would be negated. Furthermore, the investment banks have a vested interest in convincing the ratings agencies of the credit worthiness of these securities.
So we’ve already pointed fingers at homeowners, some greedy, many more I suspect, naïve or uninformed, real estate agents-one out of more than 60 in my experience was a gem, mortgage brokers & bankers, banks, Wall Street and ratings agencies so who’s left? The Federal Reserve and the Government of course.
The Fed as its known is responsible of the country’s monetary policy and for supervision and regulation of banks. This is the definition of the Fed’s roles in their own words:
The Fed is best known for its role in making and carrying out the country’s monetary policy-that is, for influencing money and credit conditions in the economy in order to promote the goals of high employment, sustainable growth, and stable prices.
The long-term goal of the Fed’s monetary policy is to ensure that money and credit grow sufficiently to encourage non-inflationary economic expansion.
The Fed cannot guarantee that our economy will grow at a healthy pace, or that everyone will have a job. The attainment of these goals depends on the decisions of millions of people around the country. Decisions regarding how much to spend and how much to save, how much to invest in acquiring skills and education, how much to spend on new plant and equipment, or how many hours a week to work may be some of them.
What the Fed can do, is create an environment that is conducive to healthy economic growth. It does so by pursuing a goal of price stability-that is, by trying to prevent inflation from becoming a problem.
Inflation is defined as a sustained increase in prices over a period of time.
A stable level of prices is most conducive to maximum sustained output and employment. Also, stable prices encourage saving and, indirectly, capital formation because it prevents the erosion of asset values by unanticipated inflation.
Inflation causes many distortions in the market. Inflation:
· hurts people with fixed income-when prices rise consumers cannot buy as much as they could previously
· discourages savings
· reduces economic growth because the economy needs a certain level of savings to finance investments that boost economic growth
· makes it harder for businesses to plan-it is difficult to decide how much to produce, because businesses can’t predict the demand for their product at the higher prices they will have to charge in order to cover their costs
Bank Regulation & Supervision
The Fed is one of the several Government agencies that share responsibility for ensuring the safety and soundness of our banking system. The Fed has primary responsibility for supervising bank holding companies, financial holding companies, state-chartered banks that are members of the Federal Reserve System, and the Edge Act and agreement corporations, through which U.S. banking organizations operate abroad.
The Fed and other agencies share the responsibility of overseeing the operation of foreign banking organizations in the United States. To insure that the banking system remains competitive and operates in the public interest, the Fed considers applications by banks for mergers or to open new branches.
The passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Act in November 1999, was the culmination of a multi-decade effort to eliminate many of the restrictions on the activities of banking organizations.
Some of the main provisions of the GLB are:
· Repeals the existing limitations on the ability of banks to affiliate with securities and insurance firms
· Creates a new organizational form that allows banking organizations to carry new powers. This new entity called a “financial holding company,” (FHC) and its non-banking subsidiaries are allowed to engage in financial activities such as insurance and securities underwriting
The Fed’s enlarged role as an umbrella supervisor of FHCs is similar to its role in supervising bank holding companies. The Federal Reserve Banks will supervise and regulate the FHCs while each affiliate is still overseen by its traditional functional regulator.
The Fed has to delineate the financial relationship between a bank and other FHC affiliates. Its primary goal is to establish barriers protecting depository institutions from the problems of a failing affiliate. To do this efficiently the Fed has to ensure increased communication, cooperation, and coordination with the many supervisors of the more diversified FHCs.
The Fed has access to data on risks across the entire organization, as well as information on the firm’s management of those risks. Regulators will be in a position to evaluate and presumably act on risks that threaten the safety and soundness of the insured banks.
It would appear that the Fed has failed to curb housing inflation which played a role in this entire debacle then made matters worse and in their efforts or lack there of, to properly supervise banking institutions.
Finally the government, a.k.a. Uncle Sam, the big Kahuna 10,000 pound elephant etc. Where do we begin? How about with: ‘Where were they?’
It now appears that after millions of horses are out of the barn (some horses ran, others were foreclosed upon) the government wants to step in with a bailout to save the rest. While nobody wants to see people lose their homes, the question that must be raised is this: What about all those of us who were responsible? Those of us, who scrimped and saved up a decent down payment, bought less-house than we could afford and who live below our means? Many of us drive older cars and keep them longer. We don’t run out and buy the latest and greatest at inflated prices, we watch, wait and budget.
When the World Trade Center was attacked, families who decided not to sue received government payouts and we certainly don’t begrudge them as I’m sure that given the choice, they’d prefer to still have their loved-ones over the money. The problem, in typical government fashion is that those who were responsible and had insurance policies in place received less than those who were irresponsible and didn’t plan ahead. I’m not talking about dishwashers at Windows on the World and blue collar workers; I’m talking about executives, traders and people who should have known better.
Now our government, the same government that sat by idly watching as this bubble got bigger and bigger despite many warnings, wants to step in and bailout people who are in danger of losing their homes. There has been no talk about educating people, let’s not teach people to fish, rather, let’s give them a fish and bail them out once again at the expense of those who are responsible.
Clearly, by keeping the majority of the population financially ignorant, there is a lot of money to be made by the poverty industry.
About The Author
Richard Gandon is the Managing Director of The Financial Learning Network, dedicated low-cost online to financial literacy seminars. His ‘Understanding the Stock Market” course was made into a CD-ROM and is in use in more that 50,000 classrooms nationwide. Every year since 1998, Richard has teamed up with a fifth grade class in Georgia to teach them about the stock market online. Richard has more than 20 years of financial services industry experience including as a broker, trader, licensing trainer and managed both a sales group and Central Inquiry, a Historical Equity & Index Research group at Standard & Poor’s.
Superior Leader – Warren Buffet
by: Michael J. Spindler
Superior business leader and American investor Warren Buffett is often called “Oracle of Omaha” or the “Sage of Omaha” and philanthropist. (Wikipedia, 2007) Buffett is the CEO, and the biggest shareholder of the Berkshire Hathaway Company. Buffett’s has an estimated current net worth of approximately $52 billion in US funds. Forbes Magazine ranks Buffett the third richest person in the world in September 2007 behind Carlos Slim and Bill Gates.
Warren Buffett is known for his economical and plain lifestyle. Buffett still lives in the same Omaha, Nebraska house that he purchased in 1958 for $31,500 with a current value of $700,000. In 1989, Buffett spent $9.7 million of the Berkshire’s funds on a corporate jet. He jokingly named it “The Indefensible” because of his past criticisms of such purchases by other CEOs. (Wikipedia, 2007)
Warren Buffett decided to make a commitment to give his fortune to charity back in June 2006. Buffett’s charity donation is approximately $30 billion, which is the largest donation in the history of the United States. The donation was enough to more than double the size of the foundation with 83% of it going to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Buffett believed that his family had enough money to get started in life so Buffett decided to give his fortune to charity. Buffett’s annual salary in 2006 was only $100,000. In 2007, Buffett was listed among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. (Wikipedia, 2007)
What makes Warren Buffett a good business leader? This is what everyone wants to know because Warren buffet is so successful. It all starts with leadership. Warren buffet is a true leader where his leadership makes a difference in the world. Leadership is very much related to change and Warren Buffett has the capabilities of leadership change to fit the changing world. Warren Buffett has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to map read in the irregular waters of change. Is Warren Buffett born a leader? The authors of this paper believe not. Experience and research has shown little evidence that an individual who comes to power is a “born leader.” Warren Buffett took the falls that any other leader has to take. Warren Buffett learned from his mistakes and turned his mistakes into a positive thing. Warren Buffett shares his leadership at all organizational levels and Buffett is empowered to share leadership responsibilities. In the world of business, many titles related to leadership roles are actively used in business and Warren Buffett wears those titles to make him effective in multiple leadership positions in business. Distinction between good leadership and good management is made often. Managers are made to be organizational, controllers and budgeters. Warren Buffett has leadership in all three departments and one must have these traits to be a good business leader.
Another important trait in Today’s business leadership is communication. Warren Buffet is a skilled communicator in all aspects of life. Communication is the real key of leadership. Skilled communicators have an appreciation for positioning in the business world. Warren Buffet is experienced at positioning himself at the right place at the right time. Warren Buffet has the understanding of the people he is trying to reach and what he can and cannot hear from the people. Knowledge of audiences’ needs and wants gives the orator the ability to listen. Warren Buffett is an excellent listener with the ability to convey his understanding.
When Warren Buffett talks, people listen. Warren Buffett can send a message through an open door and does not have to push the message through a wall.
Leadership is crucial to any successful business and good leadership is what Warren Buffett is all about. This is what makes Warren buffet a good business leader.
Mr. Warren Buffett’s investment strategies and course of leadership are shining examples of characteristics shared by cognitive theorists. Cognitive theory is an approach of explaining behavior through perception, anticipation, and thinking. Mr. Buffett’s continual approach of analyzing both possible investment choices, market trends, and the ability to place management resources of the right caliber in the right position has consistently brought this investor to the forefront amongst peers and the marketplace. At the core of every sound investor is a creative innovator.
Innovation demands creativity. Creativity in turn draws on our cognitive faculties, across the full amplitude from emotion to reason. In the number-heavy world of global investing, innovative thinking is critical. Innovative investors decipher future trends, spot likely winners by combining science (financials) with art (acuity and perception) and continuously mitigate risk. They assess user needs, product features, the proper deployment of money, professional organizational structures and risk management. (Kore Kalibre, 2006)
Mr. Buffett’s instinct and ability to interpret market trends is also held by tight reigns. Despite over 50 years of growth, Mr. Buffett always adheres to one of the most basic business principles: “…only compete where you have a competitive advantage. Warren Buffett refers to staying within your circle of competence. Social psychologists tell us, though, that we are prone to overconfidence when it comes to assessing our abilities…” (Arthridge, 2006) A man of Warren Buffett’s position and track record could easily be derailed to a sense of over confidence. The principle of only competing within your range of competitive advantage is a principle that can be applied to many other areas in life, and Mr. Buffett’s ability to work and live by this idea has allowed him to continue forward with minimal bruising.
By establishing the previous examples, the authors can reinforce the principles of cognitive theory in that Mr. Buffett behavior patterns are clearly dictated by thought processes, which include interpretation, analysis, and foresight. “As experiences and events gain meaning and value, the process becomes increasingly top down as the mind in (a) attempt at an orderly process influences perception though beliefs, goals and external process” (Gardener, 2007)
Warren Buffett’s is a self empowered leader, because he is loyal, sets goals, plans a strategy for achievement, and stays committed until he accomplishes his purpose. Up to date, he is the greatest stockbroker of all-time. He is a very conservative investor that prefers to invest in companies that sell name brand products that he uses. For example, Coca-Cola, Gillette Razors, See’s Candy, Gulfstream Jet, and GEICO are the major companies he invested in. In the nineties his assets quadrupled in less than five years. He is a smart investor that usually does not take big investment risks. For example, he will not invest in internet stock, because the return is unpredictable. He likes to invest in companies that he is sure will be successful 20 years later. He buys the company with the intentions of keeping it forever. Usually, the management team of each company is the same staff that sold it Warren Buffett from the beginning. He stays loyal to his partners, and the team workstheir best to keep him happy.
After Warren Buffett’s wife died, he decided to donate 85% of his money to charity. However, “he wants his money to be used the same year he donates it”.(Harris, 2006) The requirement will accelerate the process to help the world. According to Fortune magazine, five-sixths of his money will go to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This foundation which focus on finding cures for diseases that are common in poor nations. The rest of the money will be split among four other charities, that are each run by his three children and one that is in his late wife’s name.
Warren Buffett is not a huge spender. In fact, he still lives in the same house he bought 40 years ago. Warren “told ABC News “Nightline” that being born into wealth did not entitle his children”(Harris, 2006). In addition, he told Fortune magazine that, “A very rich person would leave his kids enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing.”(Harris, 2006) In other words, he wants his children to work earn their money and value hard work and smart choices.
In the year 2006, Warren’s first annual donation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was $1.5 billion and the rest was divided among the four charities. He was the first person to make a donation better than Bill Gates, the richest man in the world. It seems as if Bill Gates and Warren Buffett set a good example and lead others to be more generous, because now the Barron Hilton has committed to donating half of his fortune to charity also. Barron Hilton is the founder of the Hilton Hotels and is worth $2.3 billion. Hopefully, a trend started among the fortunate to give to the less fortunate.
The personality of Warren Buffett ties to the Social Cognitive Level, because he tries to understand and make sense of other people. He observes the differences in social knowledge when dealing with people. Social cognition refers to making sense of ourselves, others, and how the information is used. In the sixties and seventies Albert Bandura and Walter Mischel were psychologists, studying personality development. They found that social learning and cognitive principles improve ones abilities to self-regulate and to follow goals. Warren investment choices were successful, because he conditioned his the way he processed information, choices, and expectations.
References – DO Not Strip References!
Gardener, J. (2007). Cognitive Behavior Theory. Retrieved December 26, 2007, from http://www.cognitivebehavior.com/theory/index.html
Harris, D. (2006, June 26,). Warren Buffett’s Unprecedented Generosity. Retrieved December 31, 2007, from http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=2118501
Kore Kalibre (2006, March-April 2006). Warren Buffett’s Innovation: Staying away from Rapid Product Innovation. Retrieved December 26, 2007, from http://www.korekalibre.com/index.php?option=com_magazine&task=show_magazine_article&magazine_id=26
Legg Mason Value Trust (2006, October 26). Legg Mason Value Trust (LMVTX) Letter to Shareholders. Retrieved December 26, 2007, from http://markets.kiplinger.com/kiplinger?GUID=323448&Page=MediaViewer&Ticker=LMVTX
Wikipedia (2007, December 25). Warren Buffett. Retrieved December 18, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Buffett
About The Author
Michael J. Spindler – http://www.localmusichits.com – A Musicians Community for Fans and the Bands to promote hits in local music on a national stage.
Free to distribute – However- Do not strip Article References, remove the HTML if needed, but keep the URL’s. Do Not Remove the Authors name, Michael J. Spindler and keep the hyperlink to http://www.localmusichits.com – I use software that compares my “library” and scours the web for placements. When I find my article on your site and you have not followed the above binding agreements, Lawyers will be involved.
The advice often given to young couples starting off in life is “Not to buy what you cannot afford”. The same basic advice should be heeded by many. If you cannot afford it- then do not buy the item. But what of investing in your own future in terms of an investment in your personal education or training as well as investments in your own personal career. Is this not getting ahead in life? Is this not money well spent? Even if you have to borrow and go into debt is this not money well spent?
If at the end of the day , year or decade you will be much further ahead in position , salary as well as benefits in addition to “job” and “personal” satisfaction is this not money, time and effort well spent and allocated. ? Indeed it is and can well be.
In the case of your education a dollar borrowed now will result in better jobs- that you will most likely find more challenging and enjoyable , and have a lot more financial reward than a job on the status scale – say as a bus driver or a technician doing oil jobs at your local Wal-Mart. In the case of a vehicle or car loan it may be a godsend. If your vehicle is not reliable – then how can you show up on time, keep your job without an image and reputation of reliability? Not only do you want to keep your employment and income associated with the job but also the job references from your employment superiors for use with other employers for better positions and pay, or for promotion within your present organization. You may even run into a case of promotion within your present firm to another branch office or plant. Not having reliable transport may limit your promotion offerings and flexibility. In addition, if you take out a loan to purchase that vehicle, you may well have upscaled and upgraded your car or SUV, from the models that you most likely would have purchased. By doing so, and driving a higher grade auto model, you may well appear as a more established, senior, more experienced and established employee as well as individual. Fortunately or unfortunately in life most comes down to appearances and perceptions.
There may be a much better and / or better paying job but its way across town, or in an area not served by the bus transit system. Or it may be the case that there is bus service – but if devours a good two to three hours a day of travel time. Good bye to your personal social life. You may have all the money in the world – the wealth of Bill Gates Himself and yet no time or energy to enjoy it. So much for all that pay of that new wonderful job.
A real step foreword as they say. It is always a case of reward versus cost or cost versus benefit. It is a case by case analysis.
In addition you should think of additional or add on costs. Do not stretch yourself too thin – financially. A course at university may not be offered in your calendar year – you will have to complete your schooling fully at a later date than expected. A course may be full – ditto for time delay. Or you may even have to repeat a course or change plans along the way necessitating longer time duration of studies. Leave a buffer of funding both for yourself and as well with the agency that provided the loan – be at bank, savings and loan, credit union or even parents or relatives. Don’t break the bank so to speak at the first step. The same analysis of benefit versus costs prevails in the car / transport / job scenario situation. Many people will drive across town for a bargain to save a dollar and spend $ 10 on gas costs in the process. Incorporate the price of gas into your final net salary not as an aside.
Lastly and most importantly – always pay your bills. Never take on more than you can chew, or in this case afford. Before making that commitment for a loan or undertaking always evaluate carefully before signing on the bottom line. It’s not only a matter of convenience. Your credibility itself is on the line, in addition to your personal honor and integrity and reputation. Pay your bills on time – even earlier than required. This applies to all loans – whether they are for rent, mortgage, utility bills, bank loans, charge card payments or student loans. If you cannot pay in full, then at least pay a bit above the minimum payment. If you are really stuck then contact the lender. Explain the situation honestly. Make a commitment and follow through. Remember the whole point of the exercise was your self improvement – an investment in yourself. To not take the exercise seriously is to shortchange yourself and your future opportunities as well as income stream in the future. To borrow for yourself and personal gain make prudent sense.
|About The Author|
Maxwell Z. Rubin Winnipeg Job Bank http://www.winnipegjobshark.com Property Tax Reduction http://www.realtytaxconsultant.com/ Car Payments Vancouver British Columbia http://www.secondchancefinance.ca