What Comes After the Dollar?

  • James H. Lee

The Euro recently hit a two-year low. Meanwhile, Russia is tipping at the brink of a deep recession. Japan just received a credit downgrade by Moody’s.

These days, I don’t envy speculators in the currency markets.

Trading currencies is like judging a beauty contest in a small town, when none of the girls are particularly attractive. There aren’t that many good choices. Sometimes you just have to do the best you can.

Bitcoin is like the mysterious new girl in town, but unfortunately one of her old boyfriends has an unsavory reputation – a bit of a scandal, really. Bitcoin prices are off 70% this year, yet nobody is talking. It’s been shunned.

So, the winner (for now) is everyone’s sweetheart, the U.S. dollar. In a deflationary environment, when prices for oil and gold are falling, the dollar is able to buy more than it did last year. Furthermore, a strong dollar has also shored up investment in our own stock market.

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The Greek Fraternity of Finance

  • James H. Lee

Animal House

When we are not nerding-out in front of our computers, or binge-watching CNBC, financial analysts have really interesting lives.

Sort of.

Like members of most other secret fraternities, we are somewhat obsessive about things that make absolutely no sense to anyone in their right mind. Take our passion for Greek letters, for example. What they signify in finance is entirely different than what they might mean in mathematics, or, well Greek.  Alpha, beta, delta, epsilon, and theta all have their own unique personalities.  So who are these guys, anyway?

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What Home-Run Stock Picks Have In Common

  • James H. Lee

Let's admit it - we all like to swing for the fences once in a while. Few things are as exciting as hitting a double, a triple, or better yet, a home run in investing.   During some years, it is harder to hit home-runs than others.  2013 was pretty amazing in this respect, this year is a little more challenging.  It takes time and practice for everyone, veterans and rookies alike.

 

The well-respected mutual fund giant T. Rowe Price recently did a comprehensive study of small to mid-size stocks that completely hit it out of the park - generating six-fold gains or more over a ten-year period. In other words, these stocks grew at annualized rates in excess of 20% per year.

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Investing in the Future of Cybersecurity

  • James H. Lee

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

About a year or two ago, I logged on my online bank account to find a $280 charge for the purchase of a dozen World Wrestling Entertainment t-shirts with expedited shipping to Hyderabad, India. I didn't realize that I was such wrestling aficionado and had absolutely no recollection of doing this. My bank (god bless them), cancelled the transaction and no harm was done.   But it served as a reminder that even fairly diligent people need to be vigilant about their data and financial activity.

Identity theft and online crime are on the rise, and your digital pockets are most likely to be picked by someone on other side of the globe.

The costs are now $445 billion per year, and growing rapidly.   Aside from the risks of bad publicity, many corporations are acutely aware of the potential impacts on their bottom line and this fits into our Digitize Me investment theme. As we all spend more time online, we'll also be spending more money protecting ourselves from threats that we cannot see.

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Koans for Futurists

  • James H. Lee

KoanWhat is harder than finding the right answers?  Asking the right questions.

In Zen Buddhism, a koan is a short story or question that is simply worth meditating on.  There might not necessarily be a single good answer, but the process of contemplating the question itself is a worthwhile pursuit that may lead to sudden insights or enlightenment.

Futurists tend to be "big picture" thinkers.  However, some puzzles are too complex for any one of us to solve. 

Here are a few....

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The Great Controversy of 2030

  • James H. Lee

One of the peculiarities of professional futurists is that we get excited (and often worried) about things that aren't on the news yet.   We call these "weak signals." If you go past the chatter and listen closely, you can get a sense of tomorrow's headlines.

The "big story" on the media right now is that with the breakthroughs of fracking, America is rapidly moving toward energy independence. We've defied Hubbert's Peak, and oil production is now getting very close to levels that we haven't seen since the 1970's.

If you dig much deeper beneath the surface, there is an even more abundant source of energy that we haven't even tapped yet.

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