KaratBank

Harald Seiz, CEO and Founder of Karatbars International was appointed Senator by the German Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade (BWA).

The goal of Harald Seiz is to develop innovations on the subject of monetary policy, hand in hand with the domestic and foreign policies.

“I am convinced that we can make a difference” Harald Seiz says, “because a debt-free currency is within our reach, but we can only bring change if we take joint action.” Learn More, The Greatest Wealth Transfer

Karatbars International is already working on it; 24k Gold is the oldest currency in the world. “We want to set an example and show the world that it is possible to introduce debt-free means of payment.  Click Free Registration

With the help of politics and the general public we have a huge opportunity to provide a better life to people worldwide. ”

Conducted by Anja Schäfer-Oettinger

More about Karatbars International

Stock Market Crash Imminent Economic Collapse In 2017

Current stock market valuations are not sustainable. In 1929, 2000 and 2008, stock prices soared to absolutely absurd levels just before horrible stock market crashes with economic collapse.  What goes up must eventually come down, and the stock market bubble of today will be no exception and economic collapse 2017 is possible.

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In fact, virtually everyone in the financial community acknowledges that stock prices are irrationally high right now.  Some are suggesting that there is still time to jump in and make money before the financial crash comes, while others are recommending a much more cautious approach and preparing for the imminent economic collapse.  But what almost everyone agrees on is the fact that stocks cannot go up like this forever.

On Tuesday, the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all set brand new record highs once again.  Overall, U.S. stocks are now up more than 10 percent since the election, and this is probably the greatest post-election stock market rally in our entire history.

But stocks were already tremendously overvalued before the election, and at this point stock prices have reached a level of ridiculousness only matched a couple of times before in the past 100 years. Only the most extreme optimists will try to tell you that stock prices can stay this disconnected from economic reality indefinitely.  We are in the midst of one of the most outrageous stock market bubbles of all time, and as MarketWatch has noted, all stock market bubbles eventually burst and global economic collapse imminent…

“The U.S. stock market at this level reflects a combination of great demand, great complacency, and great greed. Stocks are clearly in a bubble, and like all bubbles, this one is about to burst.”

Learn More THE GREATEST WEALTH TRANSFER

Source: The Economist

The 401k Future

Coming changes in the retirement industry represent a seismic shift decades in the making.

Simply put, a comfortable and secure retirement can no longer be taken for granted by the vast majority of the population. Unlike the past, no single institution or corporation will come to the rescue with guarantees. Today, employees are largely on their own when preparing for the future, yet the extent to which most people will reprioritize to fund their own retirement remains to be seen.

With the looming threat of a flat-lining retirement industry, defined contribution plans like the 401(k) arguably act as a defibrillator—and a good one at that—but they’re far from a sure bet.

Step Back: How Did We Get Here?

No matter how unfashionable it might be to acknowledge past actions or inactions that have led to a current conundrum, every now and then, it’s worth a pause to consider the course of events that have led to where we are and where we’re most likely headed.

Historical Context

Rather than rehashing 50 years of history, suffice to say that globalization is largely to blame for much of the strife facing the retirement industry today. Looking back to the late 1960s, after Vietnam and before low-cost labor from Asia impacted worldwide pay scales, baby boomers became a driving force, both politically and economically, exerting significant pressure on both wages and benefits in the United States. Those were the halcyon days of labor unions, when employees, both skilled and unskilled, were given not only high wages but also high quality medical benefits and pension plans that would ensure a flow of income all the way to the grave.

The risks and costs of guaranteeing lifetime benefits didn’t escape the attention of the companies offering them, but there were no easy solutions. Some defined benefit pension plans were negotiated but then not properly funded. And others got creative with their actuarial assumptions, in some cases applying a discount rate of 8 percent or more in an attempt to deny or forestall the reality of the future cost of the guaranteed retirement plan.

When China decided to become a member of the world community, things went from bad to worse. Product production shifted into high gear in Asia at a cost that was substantially less than goods produced in the United States. And this sent U.S. companies scrambling to remain competitive, which meant reducing costs and overhead as much as possible. As a way of reducing labor costs, benefit plans were among the first expense categories that came under pressure.

Industry Context

Over the past 20 years, corporate America has increasingly done away with defined benefit plans to instead offer profit sharing plans in conjunction with 401(k) plans. Today, DB plans have all but evaporated from the landscape, with the exception of plans offered by local, state and federal governments. These employers have not felt the pressure of foreign competition, however tremendous unfunded liabilities and significantly longer life expectancies are beginning to take their toll. The strain on governments to properly fund these plans leaves few other options than to raise taxes.

Thus, the whole concept of a guaranteed lifetime benefit has gone the way of other impossible dreams. The 401(k), 403(b), and other similar plans are now the primary source of future retirement income to go along with Social Security. And employees are now largely responsible for their own retirements. So, where do we go from here?

The Much Needed Wake Up Call

Right off the bat, employees must be made to understand exactly what’s at stake. And the most effective way to make that point clear is by providing a personalized retirement readiness assessment. For some, this can feel much like a virtual ice bucket challenge, which is just what you want. The report should delineate how much employees should save for retirement, based on their specific needs, versus how much they’re saving currently. And if they’re not going to make it, they need to be told—in no uncertain terms.

Employees are not the only ones that need a wake up call. The responsibility also lies with plan providers. The new DOL ruling is an admonition to the retirement industry—that plan providers and advisors must act in the best interests of plan participants, which should mean helping to alleviate some of the retirement planning burden by providing the best possible services at fair and reasonable prices.

A Pill Worth Swallowing

Breaking the news to plan participants that need to save around 18% of their earnings can be difficult.  But there is good news to deliver as well. The key points to illustrate are the exponential benefits of even small increases in 401(k) contributions, the power of compound interest over time, and the tax savings that can be realized.

Another vital part of this conversation should be a discussion of the optimal asset allocation and investment choices based on the employee’s specific needs. When the advisor can illustrate savings growth, based on realistic rate of return assumptions, financial goals begin to seem achievable.

The employee education process is crucial to the success of the 401(k) plan. But the time and effort it takes to really get through to people—including group educational forums and one-on-one planning session—is substantial.

Increasing the Odds

No matter how much plan participants can discipline themselves to save, if they’re invested in inferior investment products, it could be all for naught. To make a real difference in people’s lives, plan fiduciaries must be hawkish when it comes to the quality of the investments options and the legitimacy of the fees.

Advisors should recommend benchmarking the plan on a continual basis, to determine the latest industry standard for investments and to identify and eliminate any excessive and unnecessary fee. This is at the heart of what it means to be a plan fiduciary—to act solely in the best interests of the plan participants, act in a prudent manner, diversify the plan’s investments, and ensure that the plan expenses are reasonable.

Through a diversified fund lineup, that includes both active and low-cost passive investment options, and by ensuring that providers are free of inherent conflicts of interest, the odds of achieving a desired level of retirement readiness can be well within grasp.

Tracking Progress

Once the right products are in place, it’s imperative to remain vigilant in ensuring that performance remains on course and individual plans stay on track. To that end, a process for the selection, monitoring and replacement of investment choices is imperative.

As those in the retirement industry for any length of time have observed, if the current course is left unchecked, the prospects are bleak. We’re trending toward a scenario where many, many people will find themselves struggling to make ends meet during retirement. That’s why, now more than ever, plans sponsors and their advisors have a duty to help.

If being in this businesses is worth doing, how much more satisfying to know that you’ve helped steer as many people as possible toward a more promising future. It’s a great challenge and it will take a concerted effort on behalf of everyone to see to it that no one is left behind.

Source: 401k Solution Beirne Wealth

Real Estate Perceptions

Here is fancy graphic that outlines the perceptions of the Real Estate Investing Industry and the differences between the way Men VS Women see it.

And it proves that people are starting to catch on to the power of investing in Real Estate…

…which means if you don’t act now, you’re going to look back in 5 years and KICK YOURSELF for not taking action sooner.

Check this out: perceptions-of-real-estate-investment

What can we take away from this?

The consensus is in: Real Estate holds the highest perceived value of investing out there. And there is a reason why it does.

a. It’s a secured method of investing – even when the economy goes to the crapper, if you’ve invested wisely, and saved yourself % off of Market Value on the property, you will be in an incredibly lucrative place when the economy rises back up.

b. It holds its value, and even increases in value as time moves forward (At a much more rapid rate than stock markets and other investment strategies)

c. People think it’s the best investment

Are you ready to invest in Real Estate for this new year?

Are you an Investor, with a tight agenda or tired of wasting time finding a good Real Estate Investment? My group is an experienced team on Real Estate and lending, have the deals that you are looking for. I have an exclusive access to the Trust Deed Sales, (Foreclosure from BofA, Chase,  Fannie Mae and meny more banks.  I got an especial list, Riverside, Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties in California  700 foreclosure  for sale on December, Cash Only.

More information contact me HERE

The European Banking Crisis

Fears of a European banking crisis have been on the rise in recent months, with the anxiety centering on two banks in particular: Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG (DB) and Italy’s Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena S.p.A. (BMPS.Milan).

The European Central Bank (ECB) on Friday rejected Monte dei Paschi’s request for more time to raise private money in a €5 billion recapitalization plan. The central bank had given the struggling lender until the end of the year to raise the money and hive off €27.7 billion of non-performing loans; the refusal to grant a three-week extension sent Monte dei Paschi’s shares down 10.6% to €19.50 at close Friday. That price leaves the bank – which has less than a month to raise several billion euro – with a market capitalization of just €571.8 million.

Given the uncertainty caused by Italians’ rejection of Sunday’s referendum, the plan appears impossible to complete. In order to avoid the politically toxic measure of a bail-in, which would tap a large pool of retail bondholders to rescue the bank, the Italian Treasury is planning to take a stake of up to 40% in the bank, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Deutsche Bank, meanwhile, faces a potentially crushing fine from the U.S. Department of Justice, though few expect the bank to end up paying the government’s full initial ask of $14 billion

If Monte dei Paschi, Deutsche Bank or another vulnerable lender runs out of options, many fear that financial contagion reminiscent of the fallout from Lehman Brothers’ collapse could drag the world economy back into chaos. What ails European banks generally, and Deutsche Bank and Monte dei Paschi in particular? Can they be saved, and if not, can the financial system be saved from them?

Why Are European Banks in a Crisis?

Europe’s economy is mostly listless and in a few areas deeply distressed. Average unemployment in the 19-nation euro area is nearly 10%, and the rate is over 20% in Greece. The financial crisis in Europe that began when the U.S. mortgage bubble burst is still grinding across the continent in different guises, including the sovereign debt crisis that periodically threatens to pull Greece out of the eurozone.

Despite the lingering effects of the financial crisis in Europe, the continent’s banks are still profitable: average return on equity was 6.6% in 2015, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), compared to 15.2% in 2006 and 2007. But borrowing and fee-generating activities have decreased, and non-performing loans continue to weigh on the sector, particularly in the “PIIGS” countries: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

Source: IMF Global Financial Stability Report, October 2016. Legend edited for space and clarity.

If economic weakness has hurt banks, so have policymakers’ attempts to set the continent on a new course. New regulations have increased costs and cut into profits once achieved through risky trading strategies. Even more painful are negative interest rates, an unconventional monetary policy approach that first appeared in Sweden in July 2009 and has since spread to Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Hungary and the 19 countries of the eurozone (as well as Japan).

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Six central banks have introduced negative interest rates to 24 countries since 2009 (note: not all rates shown are headline rates). Source: central banks. 

As a result, banks are finding their margins squeezed. Most are unwilling to pass negative interest on to savers, fearing an exodus of deposits. (Your mattress doesn’t charge a fee.) At least one lender has bowed to the pressure to pass on negative savings rates, however: in August, a community bank in southern Germany announced it would charge a 0.4% fee on deposits of more than €100,000 ($109,000). A spokeswoman for the National Association of German Cooperative Banks described the move, which affected perhaps 150 people, as a reaction to the ECB’s “disastrous policy of low interest rates.”

A look at Deutsche Bank and Monte dei Paschi’s stocks bolsters the idea that negative rates have been a nightmare for banks: the lenders’ shares lost 88.6% and 99.6% of their value in the nine years to June 30, respectively, as the ECB’s deposit rate fell from 2.75% to -0.4%. Monte dei Paschi’s stock closed at €18.90 on December 6; if it weren’t for a 100-to-1 reverse stock split on November 28, the price would be €0.19.

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This confluence of factors led Credit Suisse Group AG (CS) CEO Tidjane Thiam to call European banks “not really an investable sector” in September. But according to the IMF, blaming economic lethargy and hyper-accommodative monetary policy is not enough. The fund estimates that a rise in interest rates, an increase in fee generation and trading gains, and a fall in provision expenses on soured loans would, combined, boost European bank profitability by around 40% in terms of return on assets. And yet, $8.5 trillion, or around 30% of the system’s assets would “remain weak.”

For all the cyclical challenges facing Europe’s banks, their problems are not just cyclical. According to the IMF, the sector needs to cut costs and rethink business models. Consolidation is also necessary: the fund estimates that 46% of the continent’s banks hold just 5% of its deposits.

Still Too Big To Fail?

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If another sector fit the description above – bloated, with too many inefficient competitors scrapping over a highly-regulated, barely-profitable market – the solution might be to let competition do its bloody work. Unfortunately, as the world saw in 2008, some institutions are too big to fail.

When Lehman Brothers’s radioactive portfolio of mortgages began to threaten the bank’s future in mid-2008, CEO Richard Fuld hunted for any sort of rescue, be it fresh investment, a merger, a buy-out, a change to Federal Reserve rules or an outright bailout. The bank ran out of options and declared bankruptcy on September 15, 2008, an event that laid bare the fragility of the global financial system.

Over the following days, hedge funds that traded through Lehman’s London office found that their assets were frozen, sowing panic behind the scenes. The crisis erupted into plain view when major money market funds “broke the buck” – announced they would not be able to repay investors in full – sparking a flight from commercial paper that threatened to deprive large corporations in every sector of the cash they needed to pay workers and invoices.

Gargantuan, system-wide government bailouts stopped the bleeding, but the world still feels the effects of a crisis triggered by a single bank failure eight years ago.

Monte dei Paschi di Siena

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On Friday, December 9, the ECB rejected a request from Monte dei Paschi di Siena for additional time to continue with a private recapitalization plan that got underway in late November. The three-week extension would have pushed the deadline to January 20; the rebuff sent Monte dei Paschi’s shares plunging by over 14%, with circuit breakers halting trading more than once. The stock pared losses slightly to close down 10.6% at €19.50.

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Faced with a year-end deadline to raise €5 billion in new capital and rid its balance sheet of €27.7 billion in bad loans – the net value of which is estimated at €9.2 billion – it appears increasingly likely that the €571.8 million bank (at close Friday) will be forced to take public money. Reuters reported Wednesday that the Italian government is preparing to take a controlling stake of up to 40% in Monte dei Paschi, in what an unnamed source called a “de-facto nationalization.” The €2 billion injection, which could take place as soon as this weekend, will reportedly take the form of bond purchases by the Treasury: retail investors numbering around 40,000 will receive face value for their bonds, which the government will then convert to shares in the bank. Monte dei Paschi’s stock rose 10.8% Wednesday in response to the news.

The government has been forced to resort to a bailout because voters rejected a referendum on constitutional reforms on Sunday, December 4. Following the vote, which saw “No” triumph by nearly 20 percentage points, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced he would resign. His exit has the potential to set off a destructive chain reaction: the Five Star Movement, a euroskeptic party, could come to power as a result. Its leader, former comedian Beppe Grillo, has called for a referendum on Italy’s leaving the eurozone. A far-right party, the Northern League, also stands to gain from the anti-establishment rebuff.

Medium-term political uncertainty has led to acute short-term uncertainty for Monte dei Paschi. Citing unnamed Italian officials and bankers, the Financial Times (FT) reported on November 27 that perhaps eight of Italy’s ricketiest banks could fail in the event that a “No” vote set off market turbulence and endangered rescue plans designed to save them from a bail-in. The euro dropped to a 20-month low against the dollar following the vote; by Monday afternoon EST, the currency had more than recovered those losses, but Monte dei Paschi proved less resilient. Its shares closed down 4.2%.

The €5 billion recapitalization plan, which appears likely to be abandoned, was developed by JPMorgan and unveiled on October 25. It called for the Italian lender to raise €1.6 billion through junior bondholders’ agreeing to convert debt to equity. Atlante, a rescue fund for Italy’s banks, would stump up another €1.6 billion, and a new bond issue would cover the balance. A Qatari government fund was mulling an “anchor” investment of around €1 billion, depending on the outcome of the referendum.

To sweeten the deal for investors, Monte dei Paschi said it would target €1.1 billion in net profit by the end of 2019. The bank has already eliminated its dividend; to cut costs further, it announced in late October a plan to slash 2,600 jobs and shut 500 branches. Investors remained skeptical: shares fell by over 20% after the announcement, leading authorities to temporarily halt trading in the stock. Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts were hesitant as well, asking in a research note if it is “even possible” to raise €5 billion in fresh capital for a €550 million company (at close on October 25).

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Monte dei Paschi began exchanging subordinated bonds for equity in late November in the first stage of the recapitalization plan. On December 2 it said it had raised around €1 billion in the swap. The same day, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported that the government was in discussions with the European Commission regarding the terms of a bailout for the bank, apparently anticipating the results of the referendum. When voters rejected Renzi’s reforms two days later, already wary private investors were unwilling to go forward with the rescue plan.

The hope is that, once the Italian Treasury has become the bank’s controlling shareholder (it is already the largest, with a 4% stake), private investors will be confident enough to fill in the €2 billion gap left by the €1 billion debt-for-equity swap and the government’s €2 billion investment.

If the bank is not recapitalized or bailed out by the end of the year, it may have to resort to a bail-in. EU rules that went into effect at the beginning of the year require that junior bondholders take a loss amounting to 8% of assets before taxpayers can be tapped for a traditional bailout. In countries where bank bonds are mostly held by institutions, that might not be a disaster, but Italy’s tax code and cultural norms encourage retail investors to hold bank bonds – around €200 billion nationwide. A much smaller bail-in caused an Italian saver to kill himself in December 2015.

Renzi tried for months to convince Brussels to allow for the use of public money, but Germany and others in Europe’s “core” were in no mood for taxpayer-funded bailouts. “We wrote the rules for the credit system,” German chancellor Angela Merkel, who is facing elections in 2017, told reporters in June. “We cannot change them every two years.” In the wake of the referendum, circumstances appear to have changed.

A Long-standing Problem

Stress tests conducted by the European Banking Authority in July found that, nearly eight years after the financial crisis began, the continent still harbored at least one bank liable to walk off a cliff in a downturn. Monte dei Paschi, Italy’s third-largest lender, saw its fully-loaded common equity Tier 1 (CET1) ratio, a risk-weighed measure of capital, fall to -2.4% in 2018 under the test’s adverse scenario. In other words, the bank would be insolvent, and its collapse could potentially lead to other bank failures. It was the only one among 51 banks surveyed to earn that distinction, though struggling Greek, Cypriot and Portuguese banks were excluded from the test.

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Monte dei Paschi’s struggles were well-known going into the stress tests. The lender had unveiled a restructuring plan just hours beforehand, showing it was not banking on a pleasant surprise. Founded in 1472, Monte dei Paschi is the world’s oldest surviving bank, but in this case antiquity does not imply stability. Prior to the first quarter of 2015, when it turned a modest profit, it had lost money for 11 straight quarters – over €10 billion in total. In the three months to September the bank swung to loss again, of €1.2 billion.

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Note: net revenue and net income figures are shown as restated; share prices are adjusted for splits up to September 30.

Shortly before Europe’s financial crisis struck, Monte dei Paschi bought Antonveneta from Banco Santander S.A. (SAN) for an inflated €9 billion. In 2013 that acquisition – funded by a complex hybrid instrument designed by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) – became the subject of an investigation that also uncovered complex derivative contracts with Deutsche Bank and Nomura Holdings Inc. (NMR), which Monte dei Paschi management had used to conceal losses in 2009. Three former executives received 3.5-year prison sentences in connection with the fraud in 2014.

Monte dei Paschi took a €1.9 billion bailout in 2009 in the form of Tremonti bonds, named for the finance minister at the time. These were hybrid securities designed for sale by struggling banks – four in all, three of which had repaid by mid-2013 – to the Italian government; the proceeds counted towards regulatory capital requirements. Monte dei Paschi ducked out of the European bailout of Spain’s banking system in 2012, but the following year it sold Italy €4.1 billion in rejiggered Tremonti bonds (known as Monti bonds after Tremonti’s successor). Of this sum, €2.1 would substitute for the first bailout, including interest. The bank has raised around €8 billion through additional rights issues since 2014, diluting previous shareholders’ stakes, yet its market capitalization as of December 7 is a mere €614 million.

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Deutsche Bank

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Ironically, given Merkel’s avowed reluctance to bail out banks, the other European institution that keeps markets up at night hails from Germany. In June, the IMF named Deutsche Bank “the most important net contributor to systemic risks” among the so-called global systemically important banks (G-SIBS).

Linkages among global systemically important banks. Size of bubbles indicates asset size; thickness of arrows indicates degree of linkage; direction of arrows indicates direction of “net spillover.” Source: IMF Financial System Stability Assessment, June 2016.

On September 15 the angst surrounding Deutsche Bank deepened when it confirmed reports that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was seeking a $14 billion settlement for alleged wrongdoing related to mortgage-backed securities from 2005 to 2007. The bank’s New York-listed shares plunged by over 9% the next day, as it had only €5.5 billion ($6.0 billion) set aside for the purpose – less than the €6.8 billion it had lost the previous year. (A couple of weeks later, Greece’s central bank chief relished the opportunity to announce that his country’s banking system was safe from German spillover.)

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Few expect Deutsche Bank to pay the full amount, which could push it over the brink. Citigroup Inc. (C) talked the DOJ down to $7 billion in 2014 from a $12 billion initial ask. Other fines for similar activity range from Morgan Stanley’s (MS) $3.2 billion to Bank of America Corp.’s (BAC) $16.7 billion.

Even with a diminished fine, though, Deutsche Bank is in a precarious position. As of September 30, it had €5.9 billion ($6.4 billion) set aside for litigation expenses, up from €5.5 billion at the end of the previous quarter. JPMorgan analysts wrote on September 15 that a final bill over $4 billion would raise questions about the bank’s capital position. They pointed out that the mortgage-backed security probe is not the last potentially costly legal issue Deutsche Bank could face in the near future: an investigation into money laundering for Russian clients is also underway.

Speculation began to swirl that Germany would flout the bail-in rules it had expended such political energy to defend, though Merkel has ruled out state assistance, according to government sources quoted in Munich-based Focus magazine.

Deutsche Bank’s CET1 capital ratio has fallen since the end of 2014, though it rose slightly in the third quarter of 2016 to 11.1%. At 10.8% in June, the ratio was around €7 billion shy of CEO John Cryan’s 12.5% end-2018 goal. Selling Postbank and its stake in Hua Xia Bank Co. Ltd. will likely bring Deutsche Bank closer to that target, but stricter rules could push its capital ratio even lower.

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While Deutsche Bank has taken a few heavy losses since the financial crisis in Europe began, it could conceivably have built up more capital through retained earnings and avoided looking so brittle when the DOJ came knocking. John Cryan, the bank’s CEO since July 2015, has set his sights on executive pay, telling a conference in Frankfurt that November, “many people in the sector still believe they should be paid entrepreneurial wages for turning up to work with a regular salary, a pension and probably a health-care scheme and playing with other people’s money.” Chief financial officer Marcus Schneck told investors on October 27 the bank would dispense with cash bonuses for the year and may tie executive compensation to the stock price. On November 17 Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that Deutsche bank may cancel six former executives’ unpaid bonuses, without specifying the amount.

In fairness, shareholders have taken a greater share of earnings than executives – though not per head – in the form of dividends, which were discontinued in 2015.

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Better-than-expected third-quarter earnings of €278 million, announced on October 27, have given Deutsche Bank a moment to catch its breath, but the firm remains vulnerable, and it does not have to be the European banking crisis’ zero cell to contribute to the carnage – it could serve as a conduit. Deutsche Bank reported net exposure to Italian financial institutions of €1.9 billion at the end of the third quarter, up €1.1 billion from year-end. Its net credit risk exposure to the PIIGS countries is €31.1 billion, up €4.9 billion.

Will There Be a European Banking Crisis?

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The ultimate question is whether, if one of these banks or another were to collapse, the world would see a repeat of the Lehman moment. Kevin Dowd, professor of finance and economics at the University of Durham, answered this question in stark terms in an August report for the Adam Smith Institute: “Once contagion spreads from Italy to Germany and then to the UK, we will have a new banking crisis but on a much grander scale” than in 2007 and 2008.

Not everyone agrees. “No, I don’t see them as the next Lehman,” Harvard Law School professor Hal Scott told Investopedia on October 31. “I think that there are problems that are idiosyncratic to some extent to each bank. I don’t see panic ensuing from how they’re dealt with.” In fact, he sees the European banking system as having “more capability to handle a contagion than in the United States,” due to Americans’ unwillingness to see a repeat of the 2008 bailouts.

Scott explained that European authorities have three “weapons” that would allow them to put a stop to financial contagion “pretty quickly.” First is the ability of national central banks to act as a lender of last resort, although the ECB can cap the amount these banks lend. “I’m pretty confident that the Italian central bank and [German] Bundesbank would lend,” he said, adding, “I think there would be a strong lender of last resort response in Europe.”

The second weapon is the Single Resolution Mechanism, what Scott called a form of “standing TARP,” which envisions the use of banking industry contributions, creditors’ money and public funds to resolve failing banks. Finally, while the EU lacks a system-wide deposit insurance scheme, there are rules governing national schemes, which guarantee up to €100,000 per depositor per bank.

While Scott does not see Deutsche Bank or Monte dei Paschi setting off another Lehman-like chain reaction, he identified flaws in the European banking system’s current design. It would be better, he said, if the ECB acted as the lender of last resort rather than national central banks. He is also doubtful of capital requirements’ ability to stem a panic: “in a run on a system, no amount of reasonable capital is going to be sufficient.” Such requirements are a good thing, he clarified, like enhancing a building’s ability to withstand fire – even so, “you don’t abolish the fire department.”

If and when something goes wrong in Europe’s fragile banking system, avoiding a full-blown financial crisis in Europe will likely depend on policymakers’ ability to quickly reassure markets and depositors. According to Scott, national and continental authorities’ capabilities are “more than adequate.” On the other hand, judging by the state of Europe’s banks nearly a decade after the initial crack-up, resolving crises quickly may not be the continent’s strong suit.

By David Floyd

Gold: Why Doesn’t Your Financial Advisor Recommend It?

When it comes to your investments, diversification hasn’t worked. The “Buy and hold” strategy has become “buy and hope.” The one asset that could have helped stabilize your portfolio isn’t ever recommended by CNBC or your financial advisor. That asset is gold.

One cannot rely on CNBC or conventional financial media advice as they are misinformed.

Continually CNBC bashes gold as gold is the enemy in their book. They’d rather you put your trust in assets that don’t counteract the fall of the U.S. dollar. How has that worked for investors the last 10 years? Not well.

It’s not your fault you’ve lost money on your investments but you’re not being told the whole truth about investing to begin with and things unfortunately are worse than you may think.

We have experienced in 2008 and 2009 a horrendous Global stock market downward spiral and the U.S. stock market hadn’t seen this type of decline since the great depression. While nothing goes straight down, and bounces like we’re experiencing now will and do occur, those bounces will only be followed by further declines for the time being.

Governments have made it so we don’t know much about investing in gold.

The U.S. Government hides from us how much gold is stored in Fort Knox and won’t even let us audit it. Why the secrecy?  Every Central Bank in the world owns gold, so you’d think governments would advertise this fact so their citizens would have a stronger belief that their paper currency has some sort of gold backing, especially with the recent rise in the price of gold.

Gold used to back our currency, but for the last 38 years it has not. What really backs our currency? The answer is the full faith and debt of the U.S. government. The dollar has lost 81% of its purchasing power in those 38 years. What cost $1 in 1971 costs $5.31 today for that same item.

Gold used to be the money of our forefathers. Today, if they were alive, they’d demand their portraits be removed from the currency as it does not subscribe to the definition of money they laid out in the Constitution.

Ignorance of how gold fits into ones understanding of money or even how to include gold as part of a diversified portfolio is not your fault either. It’s one of the dirty secrets you’re better off not knowing about. That is, unless you want to protect your wealth from confiscation through the coming tsunami of inflation.

The hottest market in the last 10 years and your financial advisor had the opportunity to put you into gold but they didn’t do it. 

You see, financial advisor’s aren’t taught anything about gold as a viable investment except that it is a commodity and sits atop the pyramid of investments at the highest risk level while the U.S. Dollar sits at the bottom “safe” level.  Hmmm, hasn’t the dollar lost about 25% in value the last five years?

Many financial advisers are really clueless about gold because even their Certified Financial Planner (CFP) textbooks don’t explain gold well.  I bought and paid for the entire CFP course and received all the books in advance.  The book for the investment class, “Investments: An Introduction”  Seventh Edition by Herbert B. Mayo (Custom Edition: College for Financial Planning), had six pages devoted to gold, almost all of which bashed gold as an investment relating it to” jewelry” and “numismatic coins.”  The book called buyers of gold, “collectors” and didn’t even mention U.S. Gold Eagle coins or the U.S. Mint.

So the next time you see your financial adviser (CPA, Insurance Agent, Psychic or whomever is advising you on where to invest), show them the table below and ask them why they didn’t have you diversified into gold the last 5-10 years and why they aren’t recommending you insure the continuous decline of the U.S. dollar with an investment in gold today.

And remember one important fact; if your portfolio goes up 10% and the U.S. dollar falls 10%, you haven’t gained any true wealth. 

Diversification into gold can help counteract the decline in the U.S. dollar and maintain your wealth. 

In a future article I will be discussing more reasons to diversify into gold.

Ask for more information BUY GOLD TODAY  

YEAR END PRICE OF GOLD
2000 $273.60
2001 $279.00
2002 $348.20
2003 $416.10
2004 $438.40
2005 $518.90
2006 $638.00
2007 $838.00
2008 $885.50
2009 $1,992.00

Contact me Here to open a free Gold account

What Does The 2016 Election Have To Do With Your Retirement?

The world’s financial landscape is changing…
And it could soon cause a lot of money to move out of the U.S. dollar.
So how do you protect yourself? By following China’s lead. http://wp.me/p4m7MW-li

More: Here Are the Stocks to Buy if Donald Trump Becomes President

5 Books That Will Instantly Give You a PhD in Productivity

Read these five books to instantly become a productivity master.

Becoming productive is one part art, one part science. There are some best practices out there, but most people have to determine what is going to be the best for them through a process of trial and error.

One of the best ways to get started on the productivity journey is to read books on productivity. Shocking, I know.

While I would not say I have a PhD in productivity, I will say that I am well-studied–let’s say to a post graduate level. I got to this point by reading everything I could get my hands, implementing and testing dozens of methods, and obsessively pursuing productivity for nearly 10 years.

Through this process I have read a handful of books that stand out or made a significant impact on my own approach.

These are my top five:

1. Meetings Suck by Cameron Herold

This book argues that meetings don’t suck, we just suck at running them. And most would agree that’s pretty accurate.

Meetings can be an epidemic that not only waste your time, but everyone else’s as well. When you look at the time spent in meetings, it can be truly alarming.

I reached out to Herold for this article and he stated:

“There are 11 millions meetings every day and $37 billion wasted each year in meetings. I calculate that the average employee spends a minimum of 1 hour a day in meetings of some sort, which is 12.5 percent of their work day. When companies figure that as much as 12-25 percent of their salaries are being wasted–it’s time to fix meetings for sure.”

Learning how to be more productive where we spend so much of our time is a productivity breakthrough and this book is one of my personal favorites so far of 2016.

2. Getting Things Done by David Allen

This book has become a bible for many well-known executives, entrepreneurs and founders.

The core concept is based on the idea that when a task that needs to be done enters your brain, it needs to be processed and sorted.

If it is just kept in your mind, that creates an open loop and throughout the rest of the day, your brain will constantly be in a state of stress trying to make sure it does not forget to do it.

The key here is to first capture everything and then second, sort it into various categories. Finally, take time to review. For the system to work, it must constantly be reviewed.

3. The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch

You have probably heard of the Pareto Principle before, but in case you haven’t, it is based on the theory that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of the effort that you put into it.

This is not just the case for getting tasks done; it is a pattern that appears outside of the business world as well.

Knowing this can help you to consciously think about where your results come from and where you are simply wasting your time.

4. Zen to Done by Leo Babauta

This book was written by Leo Babauta, the well-known blogger behind ZenHabits.

Zen to Done goes even more basic than Getting Things Done–I recommend that people read both books and depending on how complex and complicated their day-to-day is, they can decide which one works best.

From what I have seen, Zen to Done is great for someone just starting their productivity journey while Getting Things Done is more advanced.

5. 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Nick Kruse

I recommend reading this book once a quarter. It takes nearly every popular productivity concept that’s out there and shows you how to implement it along with providing insights for how other successful people use that specific productivity method.

For example, Richard Branson and his little black book are used as an example in one section. These tangible reference points are helpful, particularly for readers like myself who are more visual learners.

Working on productivity is a never ending job. There is no such thing as the perfectly productive individual. Like everything, it is something that requires constant attention, focus, and a strong desire for steady improvement.

Jim Rohn once said “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing–that’s why we recommend it daily.”

The same goes for productivity.

BY JAMES PAINE Founder, West Realty Advisors 

5 Misconceptions About Networking

By Herminia Ibarra Harvard Business Review

A good network keeps you informed. Teaches you new things. Makes you more innovative. Gives you a sounding board to flesh out your ideas. Helps you get things done when you’re in a hurry. And, much more (see my recent Lean In video on how networks augment your impact).

But, for every person who sees the value of maintaining a far-reaching and diverse set of professional connections, many more struggle to overcome innate resistance to, if not distaste for, networking. In my 20 years of teaching about how to build and use networks more effectively, I have found that the biggest barriers people typically face are not a matter of skill but mind-set.

Listening closely to my MBA students’ and executives’ recurrent dilemmas, I have concluded that any one or more of five basic misconceptions can keep people from reaping networking’s full benefits. Which of these are holding you back?

Misconception 1: Networking is mostly a waste of time. A lack of experience with networking can lead people to question whether it’s a valuable use of their time, especially when the relationships being developed are not immediately related to the task at hand. Joe, a Latin American executive in a large company striving to promote greater collaboration, for example, told me that every single co-worker who visits his country asks him to meet. Last year alone he had received close to 60 people, a heavy burden on top of the day job. Rightly, he wonders whether it’s the best use of his time.

But, just because networks can do all these things, it doesn’t mean that yours will. It all depends on what kind of network you have, and how you go about building it. Most people are not intentional when it comes to their networks. Like Joe, they respond to requests, and reach out to others only when they have specific needs. Reaching out to people that you have identified as strategically important to your agenda is more likely to pay off.

Misconception 2. People are either naturally gifted at networking or they are not, and it’s generally difficult to change that. Many people believe that networking comes easily for the extroverted and runs counter to a shy person’s intrinsic nature. If they see themselves as lacking that innate talent, they don’t invest because they don’t believe effort will get them very far.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has shown that people’s basic beliefs about “nature versus nurture” when it comes to personal attributes like intelligence or leadership skill have important consequences for the amount of effort they will put into learning something that does not come naturally to them. People with “fixed” theories believe that capacities are essentially inborn; people with growth mind-sets believe they can be developed over time.

As shown in a forthcoming academic paper by Kuwabara, Hildebrand, and Zou, if you believe that networking is a skill you can develop you are more likely to be motivated to improve it, work at it harder at it, and get better returns for your networking than someone with a fixed mind-set.

Misconception 3: Relationships should form naturally. One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about networking is that relationships should form and grow spontaneously, among people who naturally like each other. Working at it strategically and methodically, they believe, is instrumental, somehow even unethical.

The problem with this way of thinking is that it produces networks that are neither useful to you nor useful to your contacts because they are too homogenous. Decades of research in social psychology shows that left to our own devices we form and maintain relationships with people just like us and with people who are convenient to get to know to because we bump into them often (and if we bump into them often they are more likely to be like us).

These “narcissistic and lazy” networks can never give us the breadth and diversity of inputs we need to understand the world around us, to make good decisions and to get people who are different from us on board with our ideas. That’s why we should develop our professional networks deliberately, as part of an intentional and concerted effort to identify and cultivate relationships with relevant parties.

Misconception 4. Networks are inherently self-serving or selfish. Many people who fail to engage in networking justify their choice as a matter of personal values. They find networking “insincere” or “manipulative” — a way of obtaining unfair advantage, and therefore, a violation of the principle of meritocracy. Others, however, see networking in terms of reciprocity and giving back as much as one gets.

One study discovered that views about the ethics of networking tend to split by level. While junior professionals were prone to feeling “dirty” about the instrumental networking they knew they had to do to advance their careers, their seniors did not feel the slightest bit conflicted about it because they believed they had something of comparable value to offer.

The difference came down to confidence or doubt about the worth of their contributions, with junior professionals feeling more like supplicants than parties to equitable exchange. My own research suggests that the only way to conceive of networking in nobler, more appealing ways is to do it, and experience for oneself its value, not only for you but for your team and organization.

Misconception 5: Our strong ties are the most valuable. Another misconception that gets in the way of building a more useful network is the intuitive idea that our most important relationships in our network are our strong ties — close, high trust relationships with people who know us well, our inner circle. While these are indeed important, we tend to underestimate the importance of our “weak ties” — our relationships with people we don’t know well yet or we don’t see very often—the outer circle of our network.

The problem with our trusted advisers and circle of usual suspects is not that they don’t want to help. It’s that they are likely to have the same information and perspective that we do. Lots of research shows that innovation and strategic insight flow through these weaker ties that add connectivity to our networks by allowing us to reach out to people we don’t currently know through the people we do. That’s how we learn new things and access far flung information and resources.

One of the biggest complaints that the executives I teach have about their current networks is that they are more an accident of the past than a source of support for the future. Weak ties, the people on the periphery of our current networks, those we don’t know very well yet, hold the key to our network’s evolution.

Our mind-sets about networking affect the time and effort we put into it, and ultimately, the return we get on our investment. Why widen your circle of acquaintances speculatively, when there is hardly enough time for the real work? If you think you’re never going to be good at it? Or, that it is in the end, a little sleazy, at best political?

Mind-sets can change and do but only with direct experience. The only way you will come to understand that networking is one of the most important resources for your job and career is try it, and discover the value for yourself.

Herminia Ibarra is a professor of organizational behavior and the Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning at Insead. She is the author of Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader (Harvard Business Review Press, 2015) and Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career(Harvard Business Review Press, 2003). Follow her on Twitter @HerminiaIbarra and visit her website.

Why I Hope Donald Trump Paid $0 in Taxes

Written by Robert Kiyosaki | Tuesday, August 16, 2016

And Why Hillary Clinton is Wrong To Attack Him On It

You can tell that the presidential race is heating up because the attack ads are heating up too. In the past, much of political advertising happened on the television. If you didn’t like it, you could change the channel. This election involves social media more than any other I can remember.

Last week, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, sent this out on her Twitter account:

patrickiturra.com
Twitter

Usually, the candidates choose to release their tax returns if they are running for president. Donald Trump has elected, so far, not to do this.

Last week, Hillary and Bill released their 2015 tax return to the public. This was most likely the reason they are attacking Trump on his tax returns. As The New York Times reports, Hillary and Bill paid “$3.6 million in federal taxes for an effective tax rate of about 35 percent.” Most of this income came from speeches and Hillary’s memoir.

I find it interesting that Hillary would choose to attack Donald Trump for not paying anything in taxes and celebrate that she paid so much in taxes. This to me shows that Hillary is a career politician, while Donald is a career entrepreneur. It also shows me that Donald is doing what the tax code was intended for while Hillary and Bill are being penalized for not doing what the tax code was intended for.

As I’ve learned from my Rich Dad tax advisor, Tom Wheelwright, the most patriotic thing you can do is not pay your taxes!

Let me explain.

The Tax Code is Made to Incentivize

As you probably know, the tax codes in the US and in many different countries are long and complicated. The question is, why?

The reason is that government leaders learned a long time ago that the tax codes could be used to make people and businesses do what they want by utilizing the tax code.

In short, the many credits and breaks that are found in the tax code are there precisely because the government wants you to take advantage of them. For instance, the government wants cheap housing. Because of this, there are many tax credits for affordable housing that developers and investors can take advantage of that minimize their tax liability, put more money in their pocket, and in turn, create affordable housing. Everyone wins.

There are many scenarios like this in the tax code that incentivize investors and entrepreneurs to do activities the government is looking for while rewarding those who take those actions with lower-or zero-tax burden.

Because of this, limiting your tax liability actually means you’re doing what the government wants you to do through the tax code. And that is the most patriotic thing you can do.

Why Hillary is wrong

This is why it is insanity for Hillary to criticize Donald for not paying taxes. The only way in which he would not pay taxes would be by doing things like investing and creating jobs to receive tax benefits created by the government! Conversely, the fact that Hillary and Bill paid a 35% tax rate and millions in taxes shows they are not doing what the government wants. They are not providing jobs, starting businesses, or investing in a meaningful way.

Personally, I’d rather have someone who understands how money and taxes work, how to create jobs and invest in ways our own tax code incentivizes, than one who doesn’t. This is not an endorsement of either candidate, but it is a true observation regarding this one issue.

Hillary’s tweet is capitalizing on the general ignorance around money and taxes that much of our country has. In that way, it is actually a lie and a form of fear mongering. It is an attack without legs to stand on, preying on emotions rather than appealing to logic and intellect.

But that’s what most of our politics has devolved to these days, so I’m not surprised.

Want to know more? Read Tom’s book on taxes

During the election season, you’ll hear lots of things that sound right, but fall apart upon further analysis. That’s why it pays to do your own homework, especially when it comes to money and taxes.

And that’s why you should read Tom Wheelwright’s book, Tax-Free Wealth.

Tom is a genius when it comes to taxes, and I encourage you to read his book- and to begin looking at how you can be patriotic by not paying your taxes by investing and building businesses that the government rewards with tax breaks and credits for doing exactly what they want.

Also, for more information on using the tax code to get rich, take advantage of our Rich Dad education and coaching classes that will help increase your financial education and your wallet, while decreasing your tax bill.

More to protect your money: Do You Need Insurance Against the U.S Dollar?

Written by Robert Kiyosaki | Tuesday, August 16, 2016