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There are dozens of economic indicators released every week, and due to the internet’s increasing digitization of these reports the information can now be accessed by everyone.  

Five steps to help your child understand capitalism and manage money.

As a Financial Consultant with more than 20+ years experience I can tell you that inflation is a double edged sword.   

TransUnion Study Finds Two Out of Three Americans Stressed Out About Finances 

Retirement seems to have changed while we were waiting for the big opportunity to arrive.  Not the same people our parents were, our world has changed.   

Why protecting yourself and your family against the unexpected is prudent.

Survey: U.S. CFOs Express Declines in U.S. Economic Optimism, Delay Expectations of Recovery Due to Fiscal Cliff, Tax Concerns

Central and Eastern Europe Emerge as Strong Bases for Electronic Manufacturing Service Providers, Finds Frost & Sullivan. With its promise of even greater cost savings, China threatens to burst the bubble of CEE's EMS providers. 

Hosted PBX boosts the odds that you'll convert a call into a sale.

Entrepreneurs are what keep America going.  

Failure to prepare could cost London its reputation as a global financial hub 

According to a recent report, U.S. airline passengers spent $3.36 billion on checked and carry-on baggage fees over the last year.* To help travelers avoid these expensive fees, IndependentTraveler.com™ (http://www.independenttraveler.com) -- one of the world's first travel Web sites -- shares six smart tips for travelers looking to save on airline baggage fees.  

President’s Obama opening up diplomatic options despite republican shrill cries for war might have been a tough decision to make but it saved the world a devastating war in 2012.   

Advice for Consumers on Safeguarding Their Personal Information from Criminals and Remaining Educated on Identity Theft Risks.   

ASIA 

Business

HSBC is closing its consumer banking unit in Japan after 4 yrs as part of a Global Restructuring Plan.  Indian Call Centers were used in debt collection fraud committed in California, making around  $5 Mn from the fraud. World Bank cuts down its forecasts for global growth and warns that Euro problems will threaten emerging economies like Mexico and India.

Politics 

Seven people have been killed in clashes between security forces and protestors over burning the Quran at a NATO base.  Mandarin is increasingly becoming a growing language in south-east Asia.  Nagoya Mayor denies Nanking Massacre leading to row between Chinese Nanjing and Japanese Nagoya regions.  Nepalese serving minister for communications has been jailed to 18 months in prison on charges of corruption.  Hardliners rally against U.S. intervention in Pakistan.  Foreign reporters warned in China after European journalists were attacked while they were covering land rights protests.  Despite warnings from North Korea, South Korea holds military drills near disputed borders.  Italy moves Kerala state HC against detention of Italy Marines accused of shooting down Indian Fishermen. Asian Age Editor has been charged with journalist Jyotirmoy Dey’s murder. Aung San Suu Kyi will participate for the first time in an election.  This comes after 20 yrs of house arrest.  She has registered for election for a parliament seat in Burma.  Kim Jong-nam, brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un and currently in exile in China predicts that the current regime may not last longer since the military has become very powerful beyond control.  Pakistan Supreme Court has held the Prime Minister in contempt for not acting on graft charges against the President.  Several million Chinese closely followed elections in Taiwan which reelected President Ma, signaling that Chinese citizens seek democratic benefits.  A UN Report states that Opium production in Afghanistan has increased after current government took over.  Ruling Congress government does not give permission for Salman Rushdie’s trip to India, not to hurt Muslim votes in the 5 states going to election.  Indian Government has given its sanction for courts to launch criminal proceedings on sites like facebook, google, etc.,  Indian government is allowing 49% FDI into India’s Aviation Sector.  Royal United Services Institute says that China has improved its military capabilities to take on the U.S. might in the Pacific. USA agrees to release high ranking Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo bay in reaction to Taliban’s peace overtures.  Aung San Suu Kyi hopes to see democracy arrive in Burma during her lifetime.  Maldives closes down all spas and health centers after a Islamist group accused them of being prostitution centers.  China starts 24 hrs US channel to spread awareness of Chinese Culture abroad.  President HU accused western forces of trying to divide India through western culture infusion.   China could have one third of its population above 60 by 2050.  Sr. healthcare is still a growing field for China.  Developed countries are erecting trade barriers to protect their frail economies from dumping and to promote domestic manufacturing. 

Technology 

China aims to have top bio scientists by 2020.  Only 25% of Chinese studying abroad return home.  China detected 320,000 instances of harmful alien species that would attack crops.  India is working on a $15Bn Nano City with the first occupant to come in by March.

 

EUROPE 

Politics 

A briefcase containing details of a UK-French Drone Project went missing in Paris.  The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has urged Germany to end castrating sexual offenders.  UK turns to be more religious than most thought and reflecting in all aspects of living in UK.  The European Commission has started legal cases against Hungary for stifling independence of key organizations through new laws.  President Orban’s spokesperson called the charges as lies and slander.  Non Arctic Countries like India, China, Brazil, Japan, etc., are seeking place as “Observers” on the Arctic Council.  Top Gear defends its program on India in response to Indian High commission calling its show “offensive” and reflects lack of cultural sensitivity. The European debt still a crisis. No clear end game. Many political and economic factors maintain uncertainty.  Belarus makes it mandatory for shopping sites to use .by domain, restricts internet access.  UK decides to do away with “sister cities” concepts in a bid to restrict unnecessary travel.

Business 

Fitch cuts Greece rating after it accepted the conditions set for the $130 Bn bailout. Microsoft files suit with EU saying that Motorola Mobility is blocking sales of its software, Windows PC’s and their XBOX Console.

 

AMERICA 

Business 

A Bank of America Survey revealed that since people are living longer, the social security age rise.  More than 40% of people above age 55 is either searching for employment or are working.  A Whistleblower from Citigroup said that Citigroup not only cheated FHFA, but also defrauded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by selling them insurance for defective mortgages.  Foreclosures in America have risen 8% nationally when compared to December but still are down when compared to last year.  Latest unemployment numbers now at 8.2% after over 240,000 new jobs were created in January. Wall Street DJI soars.  IPO’s might be good for the founders, investors and early employees, but maintaining motivation and expectation after the IPO remains harder and companies are punished for missing expectations.  Amazon profit falls and it warns of similar trends in near future, despite a rise in revenue in Q4 upto 35% over previous year. Local government debt has attracted many investors after Fed announced that overnight rates are to remain near zero till 2014.  Federal Budget deficit is expected to cross $1 Trillion in 2012 repeating the trend of previous 3 years.  Ipad has the largest acceptance in Corporate Businesses compared to any other technology tool since Microsoft and Intel domination of the Office Technology Industry. Chinese state run energy trader faces sanctions from USA over its dealings with Iran.  Obama seeks to consolidate several wings related to Trade under one umbrella and overhaul the Commerce department, projecting $3 Bn in savings. Auto Plants in USA are running in full capacity, even doing three shifts. Auto companies have positive outlook for 2012 and 2013. Irish startup uses salt and water to cleanup factory instead of chemicals using Russian technique of electrochemical activation. The biggest retailer of consumer electronics, Best Buy is looking for leveraged buyout. Online retailers and discount stores offer cheaper rates than Best Buy.  Demand for new cars led to 7 months of straight rises till dec.2011 thus increasing profits overall in 2011 for Car Manufacturers.  Sites like Napkins labs convert facebook followers into focus groups which reduces product development time. 

Politics 

The Obama Administration proposes to reduce corporate tax rate to 28% from current 35%. Rick Santorum attacks Obama’s environmental policy because he limited energy production. Jobless claims fall to 348000 according to Department of Labor Data. Unemployment numbers inching downward help the Obama campaign on the economic front  The Auto Industry bailout might help Obama win the re-election considering that GOP politicians had opposed the move then.  Mitt Romney wins the GOP Florida and Nevada primaries increasing hopes of his becoming the presidential nominee from GOP.  The Fed Regional Vice Presidents in response to FOIA act revealed their assets.  Some of them own huge farmland while others own shares of companies. Case/Shiller Indexes show that the housing market might recover Increasing population of pythons in the Everglades is reducing native mammal population.  Police arrested 400 people in Oakland.  Organizers are struggling to get bail funds to get them released. Obama delivers a strong State Of The Union Address. Uses US military effectiveness as model for Congress to follow. A smoke bomb was hurled over the fence of White House after hundreds of “Occupy Wall Street” protestors left.  The U.S. Supreme court supported earlier rulings on government organizations and schools starting sessions with prayers.  Wikipedia, Google and several other sites are protesting against the proposed US Govt Acts, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).    Latest Washington Post/ABC News public opinion poll says that 84% of American citizens do not agree with the way Congress is performing its job.  Fed Officials are continuously monitoring the economy and are very much open to further stimulus if needed. U.S. government will be reducing its troop strength to cope up with the $250 Bn budget cuts over the next 10 years.  Obama bypasses congress makes Richard Cordray head of CFPB making recess appointment.  Newt Gingrich continues campaign competing with Mitt Romney and Ron Paul for the Republican nomination for president.  Mitt Romney’s Mormon Faith becomes a point of discussion in Republican politics.  Washington Governor supports gay marriages, leading the way for Washington to become the 7th state in USA to legalize gay marriages.  Compared to Western Europe, economic upward mobility is tougher in United States. 

Education 

The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing a case which will bring to focus the usage of Race in University Admissions.  Many American Muslim Families are turning to home schooling. Obama administration has doubled the number of fruits and vegetables in school lunches and initiated changes long due.  Many colleges have fudged or twisted their internal processes to gain/retain ranking in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Dulles based Echo360 equips 500 college clients in 29 countries with lecture capturing technology.  Close to $65 Mn was spent by schools in North America in 2011. A study by Swedish scientist showed that most American children born into the bottom fifth of income remained in same state even after becoming adults, primarily because of weak parental educational background.  Idaho teachers resist online push in education saying that no studies have proven the benefits of online studies.  USA today survey reveals that women are dropping out of workforce to pursue more education in colleges. 

Entertainment 

Recently released Zuckerberg IM’s by Business Insider reveal that he wanted to sell Facebook idea to fund his file sharing idea. Music Industry rebounds in USA with album sales increasing to 330 mn Units. 

Sports 

FedEx has extended its sponsorship of the FedEx Golf Cup and has kept a $10 Mn prize for the champion.  An  Avalanche caused deaths of 3 expert skiers in a skiing resort in Cascade Mountains in Washington State. NY Giants win Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. Eli Manning was spectacular. Obama honors “St. Louis Cardinals” team and calls them the “the greatest comeback team in the history of baseball.” Ice Hockey Enforcers who do most of the Brawling in the game are the subject of a new Film titled Goon.  SEC dominate college football, which won several consecutive titles and nearly 84% of its season non conference games. 

Health 

Journal of the American Medical Association states that women have higher death risk from chest pain than men.  CDC study finds that Raw Milk causes more food borne illnesses compared to pasteurized milk.  Scientists are demonstrating that Sleep can be done in periods and doesn’t need to be a continued 8 hr block as is traditionally believed. University of California researchers show that words can be reconstructed from brain wave patterns which are deduced from electrical signals emanating from the brain.  New Studies by Cochrane Collaboration question the efficacy of Tamiflu’s medication.  Researchers say that Roche had not provided them complete data despite requests.   Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that Sleeping after a traumatic incident actually locks in the event and memories.  Obesity rates in USA have hit a plateau after doubling over the previous decades.  FDA has restricted usage of cephalosporins in livestock citing bacterial infections which are not treatable. 

Technology 

USA will double the current wireless spectrum since the demand for wireless data traffic is huge and the government wants to speed wireless communication. Apple’s Siri works great for normal accents, but it has problem recognizing voice of deep accented people. Amazon profit falls and it warns of similar trends in near future, despite a rise in revenue in Q4 upto 35% over previous year. Google introduces new privacy policy Yahoo co-founder  Jerry Yang  resigns.  Carol Bartz might take his place. Roku Streaming stick will enable flat panel TV’s to use connectivity to bring more video to TV’s.

 

LATIN AMERICA 

Politics 

The Drug war in Mexico is increasingly becoming violent and is resembling Colombia yrs back  OECD says that Chile is the most prepared of all countries to weather global crisis in 2012, but still needs to do a lot more to eradicate social inequalities. Floods ravage south brazil forcing evacuations of thousands from their homes.  Mexican drug lord Arellano Felix pleads guilty in USA, faces up to 25 yrs in prison.

 

AFRICA 

Politics 

Yemen’s government tries to delay transition of power from President Saleh citing that February elections might be hard to conduct since law and order has been deteriorating in the country.  Failure of Aid Agencies to respond in time caused nearly 50000-100000 deaths in East Africa Famine in 2011.  South Africa exports record amounts of corn resulting in depletion of domestic supplies.  America monitoring China’s growing influence in Africa starts promoting democracy in Togo.  NASA Scientists and others confirm that rocks from MARS fell over Morocco in July 2011. Explosions rock northeastern Nigerian areas after a ultimatum issued by Islamist group to Christians to leave the area expired.  Libya’s transitional government is concerned that if militias are not brought into control, the country may witness a civil war.  Lebanese MP seeks answers from parliament against hostile CIA activities in Lebanon.  Despite having abundant natural resources, Congo people remain hungry for two days a week.  Congo govt. has totally neglected agriculture instead focusing on extraction of minerals, leading to imports of expensive “food donated by foreign donors”. Egyptians vote in the third and final round of polls, in aN election where the powerful Muslim Brotherhood is expected to prevail.

 

MIDDLE EAST  

Politics 

Top Iranian Nuclear Scientist killed in bomb attack.  Iran accuses USA and Israel agents.  Qatar favors sending Arab troops to Syria to stop Syria’s crackdown on protestors. US asks President Saleh to step down after transitioning power and conveys that they have not rejected President Saleh’s U.S. Visa  Bomb blasts kill 66 people in Shia areas in Iraq. 

Business 

Iran’s government has issued orders to ban sales of Barbie Dolls in stores, citing threat from western culture to its Islamic Values.  USA pays for patrolling the Hormuz Straits and this allows other importing countries like China to not pay for it and import Oil at cheaper prices.  Saudi Arabia will invest $200 Bn to explore oil and build refineries in China and Indonesia over the next 10 years.  Bilateral trade with China crosses $58 Bn from Jan-Nov.2011.  Attack by Israel on Iran’s “nuclear” targets might trigger the Third World War. Iran- USA tensions rise to high decibels and drive US crude higher after Iraq threatened usage of military force against patrolling war ships in the Gulf.  European Union, currently accounting for 17% of Iran’s exports, plans to ban purchase of Iran oil in support of U.S. Sanctions.  War against Iran by USA and Israel will result in Hezbollah-Israel conflict which both parties do not seek.  Hence USA and Israel seem to be involved in covert activities reflected in explosions near Iran’s nuclear sites.    Saudi Arabia introduces law mandating  employment of women only in lingerie shops.

 

In difficult economic times, you might be tempted to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over your head. It would block out all the doom and gloom out there. However, it would also block out the new opportunities which are opening up.   

At the Washington DC Auto show this year, President Obama had his victory lap - photo opp from feeling vindicated after a tough decision politically and financially.

The Auto Industry Bailout has given Obama lot of strength and hope and was stressed in his State of the Union Address on his decision for the Auto Industry Bailout.  Obama is using it as a strong campaign tool because the GOP had opposed it then.   

Paul Krugman writing for the New York Times reviewed both Obama and his state of the Union Address and clearly pointed out the Bailout was actually not targeted at the Big3 but the whole Auto Industry ecosystem.  The Auto Industry could have taken down lots of dependent companies down under if the industry had been allowed to collapse.  So the key takeaway from Paul’s analysis for us here is that the entire Auto Cluster was saved because of the Bailout.

It can be taken similarly that allowing the Big Investment Banks to be taken over or merged helped prevent further collapse.  By keeping interest rates close to Zero till 2014, the government is offering sufficient time for the market and economy to recover slowly.   The government understands that the markets cannot recover overnight and hence is betting on a slower recovery and deploying the financial tools at its disposal.

So, saving the cluster in any sector remains paramount to any stimulus decisions, not the individual companies.  Krugman rightfully points out when companies get their work done in other countries, it is not because that country has cheaper wages, and it is because it has a better eco system. 

Pondering over that statement and looking at India and China, India had a huge English Speaking Educated Graduate population which was just ripe for the outsourcing idea to fructify while China had well organized Industry clusters which allowed companies to reduce costs by getting products manufactured there with high quality at lower price. 

The price parity is largely again because of currency difference and not because of a difference in standard of living when compared ratio wise of costs, savings and expenditures.  These same industry clusters were once in the USA and no longer are there now.  Hence if the same jobs have to be created, it is paramount to create the Ecosystem which is no longer possible.

Despite the high cost of living, Silicon Valley wasn’t impacted as much by recession as were other areas.  People still flock to the Bay Area seeking jobs.  Despite a weak economy and the century’s worst recession, areas which contain clusters for say industries like pharma were not impacted as much as other areas.  

America should focus on creating these clusters again.

Closing the Skills Gap Critical for American Competitiveness, DuPont Chair & CEO Reports
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