Why did the stock market get over valued?

August 28, 2015

This was a week that market analysts retroactively tag “a long anticipated correction”.

Yeah, right.  That’s what you guys have been saying.

DJIA 08-24-15 5 years
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This week’s market dynamics beg a bigger question:

Why, given a sluggish economy and DC disarray, did the stock market keep marching forward to record highs … that met their come-uppance this week?

Easy.

Let’s start by taking a stroll down memory lane ….

Read the rest of this entry »

High frequency trading: A world of battling algorithms…

August 27, 2015

The extreme market volatility this week,  at least partially fueled by the algorithm-based high frequency traders, reminded me to reprise a very cool 15 minute TED Talk that is stashed in the HomaFiles archives.

Tech entrepreneur Kevin Slavin tells how algorithms have reached across industries and into every day life.

A couple of lines caught my attention:

  • There are more than 2,000 physicists working on Wall Street developing operational algorithms
  • Massive scale speed trading is dependent on millisecond read & respond rates …
  • So, firms are physically literally locating right next to internet routing hubs to cut transmission times
  • And, of course, there isn’t time for human intervention and control
  • “We may be building whole worlds we don’t really understand, and can’t control.”

Obviously, Slavin comes down on the side of the quants.

Worth listening to this pitch … a very engaging geek who may be onto something big.

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma >> Latest Posts

TechView: The 2 market charts that I’m watching …

August 26, 2015

I don’t give investment advice.  Period.

That said, there are the 2 technical charts that I have on my radar.

The first is a simple “channeled” trend view of the S&P 500

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The takeaway:

For the past 3-1/2 years, the S&P has been trending upward (no news there) … within a fairly constant band delimited by the highs and lows.

Besides being a psychological trigger, the 2000 level appears to have been a significant technical breakpoint.

Hindsight is 20/20 … I should have bailed on my S&P Index holdings when the 200 level was broken.

But, of course, I didn’t.

Ouch.

The 2nd chart zooms in on the last 5 days of trading.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Bernie Sanders missed a big opportunity on Monday …

August 26, 2015

Yesterday, we posted about high frequency traders crowing about their high profits from Monday’s unprecedented stock market volatility.

Arguably, their methodology — hinging on fast data and low transactions’ costs — fanned the volatility flames.

I was surprised that Bernie Sanders didn’t seize the moment to say “I told you so” … and to pitch his Financial Transactions Tax.

Given the stock market bounces this week, I though it would be timely to reprise a post from a couple of weeks ago which has heightened relevance and timeliness …

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Shocker: I agree with Bernie Sanders’ Financial Transactions Tax … err. make that “half-agree”

Dem-Socialist candidate Bernie Sanders doesn’t serve up much that I agree with … but, there is one reheated idea that I half-support.

Sanders proposes that financial transactions be taxed … roughly 1/2% for most trades … slightly lower for for some categories of investments … say, Municipal Bonds.

Sanders would use the new tax proceeds to fund public college for low-income students.

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Let’s dissect the proposal … then, for what it’s worth, I’ll tell you where I agree and where I disagree …

Read the rest of this entry »

High frequency traders crow: “Best day since the 2010 Flash Crash” … say what?

August 25, 2015

Yesterday was a historically spectacular day on Wall Street … DJIA down 1,000 on the open, rebound by about 750 points, back down by 750.

Unprecedented volatility.

DJIA 08-24-15

Geez, was the world’s economic structure changing that much hour-to-hour?

Was new economic  information flowing in at warp speed?

Nope.

Sure, there was a deepening understanding that the market is over-valued and that China’s economy is in trouble.

That explains a big correction, but what about the hour to hour volatility?

Read the rest of this entry »

Gov’t @ Work: Making $500k? Living in HUD housing? … No problem!

August 24, 2015

From the you can’t make this stuff up file …

A recent HUD IG report identified “families earning more than the maximum income for government-subsidized housing as an egregious abuse of the system. “

Some examples in the Washington Post:

  • A New York City family making $497,911 a year pays $1,574 a month to live in public housing in a three-bedroom apartment subsidized by taxpayers.
  • A tenant with assets worth $1.6 million — including stocks, real estate and retirement accounts — pays $300 for a one-bedroom apartment in public housing in Oxford, Neb.

These are extreme cases, but they’re not alone: about 2.5% of the 1.1 million families in the country who live in public housing have incomes over the HUD maximums.

 

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So, why is this happening and what is HUD doing about it?

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Mail: “Chelsea takes the plunge” >>>

August 21, 2015

WARNING: Disturbing Content

We’re temporarily suspending the HomaFiles usually high editorial standards … this is a story that must be told.

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Earlier this week, the UK’s Daily Mail led it’s coverage with the following story:

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The article has so many angles that it’s a ‘must view to believe ” …

Read the rest of this entry »

Dems: An unstoppable 2016 ticket …

August 20, 2015

I hate to help the Dems, but I can tell them how to win when Hillary finishes her implosion.

Cutting to the chase, it’s  by running Biden for President with Obama for VP.

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Before you dismiss the idea out-of-hand, let me explain …

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump: Inspired by the 1972 Cuban Olympic boxing team?

August 19, 2015

Say, what?

Many of you may be too young to have witnessed and remember, but…

In the 1972 Olympics, the polished U.S. boxing team was predicted to sweep the competition.

But, something happened on the way to the medals’ platform that shocked the sporting world.

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Here’s the story and why Trump jogged my memory of the 1972 Olympics …

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember how your healthcare costs were going to go down by $2,500 per family?

August 18, 2015

Recently, a friend casually mentioned to me that his family finances were being strained by healthcare costs.

Why?

His family’s annual deductible had gone up from $2,500 to $12,500.

What?

Think about that for a moment … a 10-grand bump in out-of-pocket healthcare costs before the insurance even kicked in (with co-pays, of course).

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The discussion piqued my curiosity, and I did some digging to put my friend’s predicament in perspective … what I found was surprising (and certainly under-reported in the main stream media)

Read the rest of this entry »

Tipping the scales: Airline starts weighing all passengers …

August 17, 2015

You read that right …

Uzbekistan Airways is going to start weighing passengers before flight

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Here’s what’s going on …

Read the rest of this entry »

Want to be rich?

August 14, 2015

The most recent Census Bureau data … sorts households by income quintile … the highest quintile are “rich” households and the lowest quintile are “poor” households.

A fundamental conclusion drawn from the data: if you want to be rich, it helps to have a job and be married to someone who has one, too.

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Let’s dive into some of the details …

Read the rest of this entry »

How to think like a rich guy …

August 13, 2015

Steve Siebold, author of “How Rich People Think,” spent nearly three decades interviewing millionaires around the world to find out what separates them from everyone else.

“It had little to do with money itself, he told Business Insider. It was about their mentality.”

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Here are my favorites from his 21 Ways that Rich People Think Differently:

3. Average people have a lottery mentality. Rich people have an action mentality.

“While the masses are waiting to pick the right numbers and praying for prosperity, the great ones are solving problems”

4. Average people think the road to riches is paved with formal education. Rich people believe in acquiring specific knowledge.

“Many world-class performers have little formal education, and have amassed their wealth through the acquisition and subsequent sale of specific knowledge.”

5. Average people long for the good old days. Rich people dream of the future.

“People who believe their best days are behind them rarely get rich, and often struggle with unhappiness and depression.”

7. Average people earn money doing things they don’t love. Rich people follow their passion.

“To the average person, it looks like the rich are working all the time … But one of the smartest strategies of the world class is doing what you love and finding a way to get paid for it.”

8. Average people set low expectations so they’re never disappointed. Rich people are up for the challenge.

“No one would ever strike it rich and live their dreams without huge expectations.”

12. Average people live beyond their means. Rich people live below theirs.

“The rich live below their means, not because they’re so savvy” … but because they can … and they do!

15. Average people would rather be entertained than educated. Rich people would rather be educated than entertained.

“The rich appreciate the power of learning long after college is over … Walk into a wealthy person’s home and one of the first things you’ll see is an extensive library of books they’ve used to educate themselves on how to become more successful … The middle class reads novels, tabloids and entertainment magazines.”

click for the full list

Thanks to CH for feeding the lead

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Rich man: “What inequality?”

August 12, 2015

According to a CNBC summary  of a study published in the Journal Psychological Science …

The richer you are, the more likely you are to think that others are wealthy, too. 

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According to the study’s authors, the reason for the misconception is simple …

Read the rest of this entry »

Common Core: Is the problem really standards?

August 11, 2015

When questioned in the debate re: his support for Common Core, Jeb Bush gave a mushy (and self-contradictory) answer .

When he was done, I wasn’t sure if he was for it or against it.

For his punch line, he reverted to the universal “we need to set higher standards” argument.

A couple of other candidates jumped in to praise higher standards.

Sounds like motherhood, right?

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I’m not so sure ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Reprise: How Beef-Loving Voters Can Get Tofu for President

August 10, 2015

This is from the HomaFiles archives – one of my favs.

The original article was inspired by Clinton’s win over elder Bush (the Perot factor), younger Bush’s win over Gore (the Nader factor), and Jesse Ventura’s gov win in Minnesota.

The analysis has relevancy these days, given the way that the not-Trump vote is being carved thin among many GOP presidential contenders.

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Excerpted from WSJ: How Beef-Hungry Voters Can Get Tofu for President, March 14, 2003

Those odd ducks who scrutinize returns, calculate how each additional candidate affects the others’ chances and analyze strategic voting are hard at work. I refer, of course, to mathematicians.

Yes, there is a mathematics of elections.

Research has identified various voting systems world-wide in which, paradoxically, becoming more popular can make a candidate lose, abstaining gives your preferred candidate a better chance, and picking a winner means accepting someone a majority of voters don’t want.

This last paradox characterizes the U.S. system of plurality voting (vote for one; the top vote-getter wins). It works fine when there are two candidates, but with three or more, plurality voting can come up short.

For a democracy, the mathematicians’ most robust result is chilling. “It’s surprisingly difficult to identify a voting system that accurately captures the will of the people”.

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The Election

So as not to inflame passions with current political examples I’ll illustrate his point with food.

You and two colleagues are planning an office party, and the caterer offers chicken, steak or tofu. You poll 17 invitees:

5 people prefer chicken to steak to tofu.

2 people prefer chicken to tofu to steak.

4 people prefer steak to tofu to chicken.

4 people prefer tofu to steak to chicken.

2 people prefer tofu to chicken to steak.

One organizer tallies the ballots by the plurality method, counting only first-place votes. Chicken wins (7 votes), while steak is last (4 votes).

A second organizer uses “approval voting,” in which voters mark all acceptable choices (everyone’s top two choices are acceptable). Now steak wins with 13, tofu gets 12 and chicken is last with 9.

The third organizer uses a point system that gives their first choices 2 points, second choices 1 and last picks 0. Now tofu wins with 18, steak gets 17, chicken 16.

The ‘winner’ changes with the choice of election procedureAn ‘election winner’ could reflect the choice of an election procedure” rather than the will of the people.

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It gets better. Thanks to a mathematical property called non-monotonicity, in some voting systems, ranking a choice higher can defeat it.

In a plurality-with-runoff system, the two candidates with the most first-place votes face one another in round two.

This time, we invite other departments to our office party, and get this first-round result:

27 prefer chicken to steak to tofu.

42 prefer tofu to chicken to steak.

24 prefer steak to tofu to chicken.

Chicken (27 votes) and tofu (42) reach the runoff. Assuming steak fans maintain their preference and give their second-round votes to tofu, tofu wins the runoff.

That seems fair.

But what if four people in the group of 27 chicken lovers are last-minute converts to vegetarianism and, in round one, prefer tofu to chicken to steak, like the group of 42?

Now steak (24 first-place votes) and tofu (46) make the runoff, in which steak beats tofu 47 to 46. Tofu’s late surge turned its win into a loss.

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Such paradoxes tend to occur under specific but far from unusual circumstances.

With plurality voting, the most common is when two centrists face an extremist. The majority splits its vote between the centrists, allowing the fringe candidate to squeak in. In Minnesota’s 1998 governor’s race, Hubert Humphrey got 28% of the vote, Norm Coleman 34% and Jesse Ventura won with 37%, even though most voters ranked him last.

* * * * *

Thanks to such outcomes, scientists say what’s most needed is “a way for voters to register their second and third choices … especially in primaries, where there tends to be a large field.” Both a ranking system (give candidates 4, 3, 2 or 1 point) and approval voting accomplish that.

The U.N. chooses a secretary-general by approval voting. “It is particularly appealing in elections with many candidates … If your favorite candidate is a long shot, you can vote for both him and a candidate with a better chance without wasting your vote on the long shot. Approval voting would do a lot to address the problem of presidential-primary victors not being the choice of most voters.” Approval voting could well make more people (especially supporters of long shots) feel their ballot matters.

Still, no system is perfect. As Nobel-winning economist Kenneth Arrow proved mathematically in 1951, no voting system is guaranteed to be free of paradoxes in a race with three or more candidates, except one — a dictatorship.

Here’s a wild election scenario that you won’t see anywhere else …

August 7, 2015

First, a couple of disclaimers:

This is neither my prediction of what’s to come, nor my preference..

It’s just an oddball scenario that could conceivably happen.

 

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Bottom line:

All the pundits say that if Trump runs as a 3rd party candidate, then the GOP is toast..

I say: Not so fast …

Read the rest of this entry »

What happens if no presidential candidate gets 270 electoral votes?

August 6, 2015

Let’s put another puzzle piece in place re: a wild scenario of how the GOP could prevail even if Trump runs as a 3rd party candidate …

Electoral College

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What happens if no presidential candidate gets 270 electoral votes?

Read the rest of this entry »

Quick: Has any 3rd party presidential candidate ever won any electoral votes?

August 5, 2015

Lots of chatter around whether Trump (or Sanders) will run as 3rd party candidates.

Pundits are unanimous that a Trump 3rd party run would doom the GOP and hand the election to Hillary (presuming that she’s not in jail).

I’m not so sure.

In the next couple of posts, I’ll build to a scenario that has Trump running as a 3rd party candidate, but the GOP nominee getting the keys to the White House (<= note how I strained to avoid using the word “winning”).

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Let’s put the first puzzle piece in place and answer the question:

Has any 3rd party presidential candidate ever won any electoral votes?

Read the rest of this entry »

Hacked: LifeLock CEO spanked by identity thieves … 13 times.

August 4, 2015

Since LifeLock is in the news again, I thought I should reprise the HomaFiles all-time most viewed post …

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Here’s one from the “you can’t make this stuff” file.

LifeLock is one of the companies that monitors the credit applications and credit worthiness inquires.

Todd Davis became LifeLock’s CEO when the company’s founder was ousted for making repeated misleading statements about his shady past and the company’s origins.

For a couple of years, Mr. Davis was prominent in LifeLock’s ads … revealing his social security number and daring identity thieves to crack his code.

Bad idea.

 

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Reportedly, Mr. Davis has had his identity stolen at least 13 times since his taunt-the-thieves commercials.

Read the rest of this entry »

Smacked: FTC charges LifeLock (again) …

August 3, 2015

Loyal readers know that I’m attentive to identity theft issues ever since I got nailed.

I tend to be a proponent of the identity theft services.

I buy mine through Costco (good place to save a few pennies, right?) …  in part, because I’ve been suspicious of all the advertising done by industry leader LifeLock.

 

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Turns out that the FTC was – and continues to be suspicious of LifeLock and its hyped up claims …

Read the rest of this entry »

How do self-made billionaires self-make their billions?

July 31, 2015

Previously, we posted that there are about 1,800 billionaires in the world and that about 2/3s of them are self-made … not just born lucky.

According to a PwC study, the self-made billionaires usually started at a big company, some were fired from the big companies, and most became serial entrepreneurs.

Usually they got on the map with their first or second venture, but built their wealth through a series of successive (and highly successful) ventures.

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The PwC study also identified 5 traits that were relatively common across the self-made billionaires.

 

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Broadly speaking, PwC says concludes that most business managers are “performers” – linear logicians who are good at execution .

The self-made billionaires are “producers” who  look at the world from different angles — allowing them to spot opportunities and to turn good ideas into great businesses.

More specifically, the PxC team concluded that “most self-made billionaires – the “producers” –practice five habits of mind — ways of thinking and acting that generate uncommonly effective ideas and approaches to leadership.”

The 5 traits:

1. Ideas: Empathetic Imagination

The producers typically worked in their field long enough to have an awareness of critical trends, empathy for customers, and knowledge of existing practices.  Then, they added a healthy dose of imagination to change the game.

2. Time: Patient Urgency

“The creation of massive value in an industry does not happen overnight. The billion-dollar idea often comes after years, even decades, of commitment to a market space. Skilled producers learn to be patient. They know how to wait for the right idea at the right time. But once they hit on a compelling idea, they have a bias toward action that compels them to take urgent steps.

3. Action: Inventive Execution

Many executives take product design and go-to-market strategies as givens. “The business model, pricing, functions, sales pitch, and deal structure are treated as inherited, predefined by the models, costs, and pricing that already exist in the company and industry.“

Producers redesign opportunities everywhere – both in the product – broadly defined – and the implementation.

4. Risk: Relative, Not Absolute

“Producers, in general, are distinguished not by the level of risk they take, but by their attitude about risk. Most people measure risk in absolute terms: Will this business succeed or fail? Producers view risk in relative terms: Which option presents the greatest opportunity? If the opportunity is right in a risky venture, they’ll look for ways to mitigate risk”

5. Leadership: Teaming with Performers

“The idea of the solo genius is so pervasive in the way people talk about and think about extraordinary success that it obscures the real story of how good ideas become great businesses. Self-made billionaires are not alone. Producers have the ability to see beyond the parameters of what exists today to imagine new opportunities. Performers, in turn, have the ability to optimize and achieve within known parameters. Value creation requires both.”

Producers surround themselves with producers …

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Bottom line:

Yeah, wealth distribution is skewed. No argument there.

But, it’s wildly misleading to characterize the richest of the rich as folks who were just born lucky.

The majority of the made their own luck … and earned their wealth.

Sorry, if the facts don’t match the popular narrative …

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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How many billionaires are there? How many are self-made?

July 30, 2015

With all of the vitriol now being cast at rich people, and with all of the broad-brush policy proposals to redistribute their wealth … you’re probably guessing a pretty big number, right?

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Well, Forbes reports about 1,800 billionaires worldwide  … holding $7 trillion…   or roughly 7% of the total global gross domestic product.

1.800 isn’t a particularly big number, right?

But, even I concede, they skew the distribution of wealth.

The billionaires always seem to get caricatured as Saudi princes, one of Sam Walton’s descendants  or Paris Hilton – all just lucky by birth and clearly undeserving.

Well, PwC’s think tank dug deeper into the numbers and uncovered some facts that tend to disrupt the popular narrative …

Read the rest of this entry »

Jet: Start-up targets Amazon and Walmart … say, what?

July 29, 2015

After months of testing and and network-building, the e-commerce start-up Jet.com opened its digital storefront last week, marking the official kickoff of the company’s ambitious effort to battle Amazon and Walmart for price-conscious customers.

According to the Washington Post, Jet is taking a new approach to pricing. Its algorithm doesn’t simply look at the price of each individual item in your online shopping cart.

It looks at all the items you want to buy, as well as your Zip code, to determine which retailer or warehouse can ship that unique combination of items to you the cheapest.

Shoppers can only buy things on Jet if they’ve signed up for a $49-per-year membership.

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Let’s dig a little deeper and assess the odds …

Read the rest of this entry »

Where does Amazon collect sales tax? Why?

July 28, 2015

One of the things that I about Amazon was that my orders didn’t get dinged with sales taxes.

That was then, this is now.

In 2013, I was disappointed to see Amazon start collecting sales taxes in Virginia (my home state).

But, no collected sales tax in Maryland – next state over – where we have a summer vacation shack. shack and a branch of the family tree.

Hmmm …

The arbitrage opportunity evaporated in 2014 when Amazon started collecting sales tax in Maryland.

Nuts.

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Source

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Some recent purchases sparked my curiosity .  What’s going on?  Are there still arbitrage opportunities?

Read the rest of this entry »

States: Where does $100 buy the most? The least?

July 27, 2015

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) does a periodic market basket study – estimating how much a standard basket of goods costs in different parts of the country.

The national average is indexed to $100 … and called the Relative Price Parity index.

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Based on the most recent study, prices are the lowest in Mississippi where the $100 shopping basket can be purchased for $86.80.

Said differently, a dollar is worth 15% than the national average in Mississippi.

What’s the most costly state?  Where does your state rank?

Read the rest of this entry »

Big Question: Will an iPhone blend?

July 24, 2015

All the hoopla surrounding  Trump’s announcing Sen. Graham’s cell phone number …. and Graham’s humorous video of ways he tried to remediate the situation by destroying his cell phone … reminded me of an ad campaign run by a company called  Blendtec.

According to George Parker of  AdScam ….

At a conference a couple of years ago. GE and their agency, BBDO, made a presentation of their new “Imagination” campaign.

After showing some nice TV spots and explaining that they’d spent $300 million on media over the last year, they proudly declared that brand awareness had increased substantially.

This generated polite applause.

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Next up was the Marketing Director of blender manufacturer Blendtec who proceeded to blend:

  • a brick
  • some ball bearings
  • an 8 ft garden rake
  • an iPhone

He then put up a single slide showing that every time they posted a self-produced, ten dollar video on YouTube in their long-running “Will It Blend” campaign (which to-date has had more than 220 million views,) sales went up by an accurately measurable percentage.

Understandably, the crowd went nuts.  

The point being, GE spent hundreds of millions and couldn’t quantify with any certainty what they had achieved for all that money.

Blendtec spent pennies and achieved consistently significant and measurable results.

Below are the links to the Blendtec iPhone videos…  worth watching.

Read the rest of this entry »

Flaw of Averages: 3 views on inflation …

July 23, 2015

Oftentimes, important trends are buried  in statistical averages.

You know, the thing drowning in a river with an average depth of 3 feet.

In my Strategic Business Analytics course, I harp on “decomposing” problems and statistics down to their component parts …. to simplify the problems and reveal insights.

Here’s a case in point: the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

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For the past 10 years (really, longer), the CPI has pretty much straight-lined upward.

Case closed, steady inflation … right?

Not so fast.

Let’s look at the CPI from a couple of other angles …

Read the rest of this entry »

Shocker: I agree with Bernie Sanders’ Financial Transactions Tax … err. make that “half-agree”

July 22, 2015

Dem-Socialist candidate Bernie Sanders doesn’t serve up much that I agree with … but, there is one reheated idea that I half-support.

Sanders proposes that financial transactions be taxed … roughly 1/2% for most trades … slightly lower for for some categories of investments … say, Municipal Bonds.

Sanders would use the new tax proceeds to fund public college for low-income students.

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Let’s dissect the proposal … then, for what it’s worth, I’ll tell you where I agree and where I disagree …

Read the rest of this entry »

Uh-oh: Hacker hits on Ashley Madison …

July 21, 2015

This may be bigger than the Feds having 20 or 30 million digital personnel files tapped by hackers.

Ashley Madison got hacked and over 37 million customer files have been taken hostage,

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, Ashley Madison is a sleazy, Canadian based “online dating and social networking service” that “discretely” hooks up folks who are already in a relationship, i.e. married.

Some background:

The name of the site was created from two popular female names, “Ashley” and “Madison” … the site’s slogan “Life is short. Have an affair.”

The site has been around for about 15 years and gets about 125 million hits each month (pun intended).

Reportedly, 70% of the site’s members are guys … no surprise there.

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That’s the back-story … now for the “so what?” …

Read the rest of this entry »

How many freelancers are there in the U.S. workforce?

July 20, 2015

Note that I said  “freelancers”, not “freeloaders” ….

So, how many?

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Place to start is with a definition ….

According to a trade group called the Freelancers Union, there are 5  basic types of freelancers:

  1. Independent Contractors: These are the “traditional” freelancers who don’t have an employer and instead do freelance, temporary, or supplemental work on a project-to-project basis.
  2. Moonlighters: Professionals with a primary, traditional job who also moonlight doing freelance work. For example, a corporate employed web developer who also does projects for non-profits in the evening.
  3. Diversified workers People with multiple sources of income from a mix of traditional employers and freelance work. For example, someone who works the front desk at a dentist’s office 20 hours a week and fills out the rest of his income driving for Uber and doing freelance writing.
  4. emporary Workers:  Individuals with a single employer, client, job, or contract project where their employment status is temporary. For example, a business strategy consultant working for one startup client on a contract basis for a months-long project.
  5. Freelance Business Owners: Business owners with  between one and five employees who consider themselves both a freelancer and a business owner. For example, a social marketing guru who hires a team of other social marketers to build a small agency, but still  identifies as a freelancer.

OK, so what’s the answer?  How many?

Read the rest of this entry »

What percentage of retail sales are done online?

July 17, 2015

Got to thinking about this since recently ….

Amazon Prime is pushing hard for sign-ups and online activity.

Conter-indicator: Recently, I’ve done more store-shopping than I have for a while.

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Bought a TV from Best Buy online and satisfied my need for instant gratification by picking it up at a local store.

Glad I did, because the TV had an “issue” and needed to be replaced … a quick 2nd trip to the store got me up & running with virtually no hassle.

Bought a new boat motor at West Marine.

Shopped for one online, wanted to touch the real thing.

Glad that I did because I ended up having a seasoned pro salesman introduce me to a motor technology that I didn’t even knew existed – eco-friendly propane powered outboards.

Bought one.

That said, my 30-something kids scoff that they by everything online.

Sound familiar?

OK, so what’s the answer?

What percentage of retail sales are now being done online?

Read the rest of this entry »

Seriously, does anybody give a hoot about the Iran deal?

July 16, 2015

The Obama-friendly MSM has been trying its best to hype the deal as the most consequential foreign policy act in history … or at least the past hundred years.

Republicans  and Israelis are ranting doom and gloom.  The former largely for political reasons; the latter with legitimate concerns that they’re toast.

So, I’ve been feeling a bit guilty that I can’t get revved up on the issue

Thought Obama’s press conference yesterday might get me interested.

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For what it’s worth, here’s my take …

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m a ‘Hot Shot’ … err, make that WAS a Hot Shot.

July 14, 2015

Time for a little shameless retro self-promotion.

Here’s the back-story …

The year was 1988.

We were living in Connecticut, so I took my then young sons to the Princeton-Yale basketball game … hoping to hook them on Ivy League colleges.

Walking in, some students were signing up volunteers for the half-time shooting contest.

Urged on by my family, I threw my name into the ring.

They called my name … I beat 2 other contestants … and was invited to the “Finals” to compete for 2 round-trip tickets on American Airlines.

Lay-ups were worth 1 point, free throws were worth 3, and shots from the 3-point line were worth 7.

I figured that 18 points would win it.

My strategy: rapid-fire 8 free throws … and make 6 of them.

I practiced and knew I could do it.

Under game day pressure, i missed 4 of 7 free throws, and had no choice but to head for the 3-point line.

Bottom line: SWOOSH !  7 points … for a total of 16.

Just enough to win the crown and a trip to Las Vegas.

Best of all: my sons were in the stands to see it all.

Since you probably weren’t there, click the pic or link below to see the most exciting 45 seconds in sports history.

click to view video

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Best part of all: my sons were in the stands to see it all.

Worst part: It’s been downhill since …

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#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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Innovations: Lulumon’s “Stuff Your Bra II" sports bra … say, what?

July 13, 2015

In a CNBC round-up of analyst stock picks, one dude was high on Lulumon because of its product “innovations” like the “Stuff Your Bra”.

That caught my eye, of course.

At first, I thought this post was going to be about false advertising … not by Lulumon, by its customers.

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Turns out that Lulumon’s “innovation” isn’t about faux-enhancement… it’s about practicality.

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Gov’t @ Work: A lesson in cost-benefit analysis.

July 10, 2015

The Inspector General for the Social Security Administration released a report on the SSA’s track record for detecting and collecting overpayments – amounts paid to people in excess of what they’re entitled to receive.

Here’s the good news …

“Generally, SSA attempts to collect overpayments regardless of the amount.”

 

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Here’s the bad news …

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How to get your credit reports for free …. no strings attached.

July 9, 2015

Want to see your credit reports?

Some companies provide almost free peeks at your credit reports.  Typically, you have to sign up for a credit checking or identity theft program …. and then cancel your subscription within 7 or 30 days to avoid getting billed.

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There’s also a low hassle way …

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What percentage of women keep their maiden name when they get married?

July 8, 2015

According to a Google Consumer Survey reported in the NY Times

Just over 1 in 5 first-marriage brides keep their maiden names rather than take their hubby’s surname.

The trend has been slowly inching up for the past couple of decades.

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What’s driving the trend?

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Digital amnesia: Is Google dulling your memory?

July 7, 2015

First, some background …

The tests I give my students always include some questions that can reasonably be tagged “memorization”.

Some students are repulsed by them them and shout the cultural refrain: “Don’t memorize anything that you can look up.”

The apparent thinking: You’ve only got a limited amount of space in your brain, so don’t clog it with an overload of information … only store the stuff you can’t look-up.

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What’s wrong with that argument?

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Which states do people view most (and least) favorably?

July 6, 2015

YouGov ran a poll asking a national sample which states were viewed favorably … and which were viewed unfavorably.

Then, they ranked states based on the net difference between favorable and unfavorable views.

The winner: sunny paradise Hawaii.

 

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Interestingly, the rest of the top 10 is dominated by northern and mountain states.

Guess which state has the lowest favorability rating …

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Decision Making: Beware the villains …

July 3, 2015

According to Chip & Dan Heath in Rotman Management article “The 4 Villains of Decision Making” …

“Research in Psychology over the last 40 years has identified a broad set of biases in our thinking that doom our decision making. If we aspire to make better choices, we must learn how these biases work and how to fight them.”

 

Confused man

 

According to the Heath Brothers – academics & popular authors – there are 4 decision making villains that have to be confronted

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Dilemma: The case of the lost concert tickets …

July 2, 2015

 

A classic “framing” question from Kahneman’s Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow

Here’s the situation:

A woman has bought two $80 tickets to the theater.

When she arrives at the theater, she opens her wallet and discovers that the tickets are missing.

$80 tickets are still available at the box office.

Will she buy two more tickets to see the play?

 

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Most (but, not all) survey respondents answer that the woman will go home without seeing the show.

Let’s try another situation …

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Amazon and the “power of free” …

July 1, 2015

Everybody knows that Amazon’s free shipping program has been a resounding success.

So much so. that the company has announced that it will be moving the minimum qualifying order up from $25 to $35 … inducing shoppers to fill  their carts fuller or switch to the highly profitable Amazon Prime program.

The free shipping program’s success was highly predictable based an an apparently inadvertent “matched market test” that Amazon did.

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Here’s the skinny on the Amazon’s inadvertent market test …

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FTC makes it official: Size matters !

June 30, 2015

Have you ever shelled good money for “free” air.

Bet you have.

It’s called “slack fill”.

Say, what?

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Let’s start with a confession …

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Why we make mistakes: Winging it, too few constraints, greener grass

June 29, 2015

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Grass look s greener

Today, we finish the list … ending with an old standby: The Grass Looks Greener …

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Why we make mistakes: We’re all above average (or at least think we are)

June 26, 2015

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Im above average

Today, we add reason #10 to the list. we all think we’re above average

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Why we make mistakes: Men shoot first, then …

June 25, 2015

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Man shooting gun

Today, we add reason #9 to the list. Men shoot first, then …

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Why we make mistakes: frame of mind, skimming, tidiness

June 24, 2015

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, I’m  excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Man making mistake

Today, we add reasons 6, 7 and 8 to the list.

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Why we make mistakes: The myth of multi-tasking

June 23, 2015

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, I’m excerpting the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Mukti-tasking woman

Today, we add reason #5 to the list: the myth of multi-tasking…

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Why we make mistakes …

June 22, 2015

In this and a couple of subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from a summer read:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Confused man

Today, the first 4 reasons on the list …

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