Monthly Archives: December 2013

Use Financial Warfare on Your Competitors

Cause for thought.

SUMMARY

This from recent edition of Addison Wiggin’s Apogee Advisory. Article was about oil as a financial weapon. Also cited China’s acquiring gold to back future currency to eventually undermine the dollar.

Premise of the article is that keeping the price of oil and gas high puts economic pressure on China since they have to import most of their oil . In effect, it becomes a form of economic warfare.

View your business as a video war game.  What could each Department/Division do that would set you apart while putting your competitors at a disadvantage? (If you play, or know video game players, ask them what makes the games they play unique. Video games are one of the most competitive markets there is.)

The most successful companies offer a product or service that perpetuates itself inexpensively and has features that are very hard to replicate. Think of Coca Cola.

The business world isn’t about competing, it’s about winning. Slight tweaks aren’t enough, we each need to differentiate ourselves.

THE DETAILS

Most of us have probably read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Jesuit missionaries brought the book to the attention of the western world in 1772. Basic premise:  a skillful strategist should be able to subdue an enemy’s army without engaging it.  (This short book should be must read for anyone in business. Lots of ideas that can be implemented.)

The US keeps the price of oil high which drains more of China’s currency (the Yuan.) Likewise, China has been buying massive quantities of gold bullion to put a stronger base under their currency in an attempt to weaken the worlds reliance on the dollar as the medium of trade. Thus weakening the US.

Sun Tzu was a brilliant military strategist. His objective was to weaken an enemy so they didn’t have the will the fight.

That got me started rethinking our industry and specifically my company. What can I do to differentiate our company from the hundreds of competitors? How do I get an advantage that can be permanent?

Trade publications are full of articles about branding…at the same time most major name brands are finding less and less brand loyalty. Let’s face it, there isn’t much to distinguish brand names any more. Electronic mediums are further breaking down the historic differentiation of brand names.

So what is your brand? Does it convey the difference you want to convey? How is your brand memorable? Have you asked your customers to define your brand?

 

This ‘N That – Dec. 1, 2013

Foreign investments in US up 283% in last 12 months
Treasury Department reports Korea, Singapore and China alone are pouring more than $5BB into REIT’s monthly. That’s nothing compared to the Japanese who control 4-9% of each segment of the US REIT market…and they continue to invest. Why? Feds “no taper” policy has bargain hunters flocking to REIT’s. Source George Neil at Agora Financial 5 Min. Forecast.
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Supertax worldwide now getting serious attention.
Ready for 17% “Supertax” on your assets? It’s gone from mere discussion to the ream of probability. Seriously being discussed by the International Monetary Fund. QE (Quantitive Easing) worldwide is likely to increase rather than decrease. Banks and governments then have the choice of massive inflation, repudiating public debt, or some type of “supertax” to try to restore balance.

(Cyprus “bail out” cost many bank depositors more than 47% of their capital. Poland used “pension reform”, Spain plundered their Social Security Reserve Fund. Unlike these countries version of a supertax, IMF is looking broader.) In effect most of the world is broke. Banks and Governments don’t like massive inflation or debt default. Only thing left is some type of tax, worldwide on assets like savings, investments, etc. Talk now is one time. Hmm, believe I heard that when USA initiated first Income Tax.

We’ve probably got few years, but far fewer than most of us think. So how do you protect your wealth from the above? Put some of your wealth into precious and non-precious metals (think in terms of palladium, platinum, copper, etc.) Invest in real estate, both foreign and domestic, own assets internationally, and have a stash of physical cash. Why physical cash? It doesn’t pay any interest in bank so why keep it where government can get at it? (Source: Money Morning)
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USA Today reports an experimental space plane that flies at mock 10 could put satelittes into space for $5 million. ************
Investment thoughts from business leaders
‘Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, peak on optimism and die on Euphoria.” Source: Investment legend John Templeton.

Value Investor Benjamin Graham advises that no investor should have less than 30% of their portfolio in stocks, or more than 70%.

Last suggestion from the experts. Don’t neglect trailing stops…in any market. Trailing stops protect gains so none of us have to “guess” when this market moves from current optimism to euphoria to pessimism.
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Deadly fungi in your dishwasher.
Previous belief that high temperatures, detergents, and salts prevented fungi growth are false. Turns out there are two types of black yeast that thrive in these conditions. Both these fungi cause potentially fatal lung infections.

Keeping dishwashers free of fungi is simple…leave dishwasher open for 30 minutes after washing. This gives rubber seal around the door chance to dry. Another option: mix equal parts baking soda and vinegar to clean the seal. Pour cup baking soda on dishwasher floor, then put vinegar in the soap dispenser and run dishwasher at its hottest setting. Source: Secrets of the Retirement Millionaire by Dr David Efrig Jr (Stansberry Research.com)
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Statin drugs increase risk of cataracts
Cholesterol connection to heart disease is not near as certain as drug companies have convinced doctors. Better to try reducing cholesterol naturally with exercise (20 minute walk 4-5 times a week) and avoiding “white killers”…sugar, white bread, and white rice. At least challenge your doctor before taking statins (think Lipitor, Simvastatin, etc.). University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Dallas VA Medical Center found statins increase cataract risk by 27%. Canada’s University of Waterloo in 2012 reported the same thing. People with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk.
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Free/Discounted eBooks
Bookbub.com is free online service. Select categories that interest you. Tell them the ebook device you are using. Sit back. They will email you when books in your areas of interest are available.
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Long waits at US Entry Points will cost US $95 billion in next 5 yrs.
Consensus Research conducted study for US Travel Association. US and non-US travelers waited between 3 hours and 4 hours 40 minutes to be processed by CBP into US. 44% of those interviewed indicated they would not visit US in next 5 years because of wait. Survey covered O’Hare, LAX, Miami, JFK, and Dulles.
Put some heat on Congress to streamline the process.
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Office Vacancy Rate Still Above 17%
Has been above 17% since third quarter 2009. Conversely, senior housing reached 89%
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Similarities between challenges facing Retail and Hotels.
Luxury and discount retail are doing fine. Retailers in center are not doing as well. Retailers who recognize that most of their offerings are a means to the end will do the best.
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Test Tube Hamburger
August 2013 scientists in Netherlands unveiled technique that can create 175 MM patties. Result is 100% lean burger that reportedly has same taste as traditional beef.
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Key Technologies from Techno Optimist Peter Diamandis
His Top 3: 3D printing, synthetic biology, and artificial intelligence and robotics. Over last 100 years, human life span has doubled. Cost of food down 13x, energy cost down 20x, transportation down 100X, communication dropped over 1000X, all enabled by technology. Source: Breakthrough Awards from Popular Mechanics Nov. 2013
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No Cost Water Filter
18 year old Meghan Shea designed inexpensive water filter that removes up to 90% of E.coli bacteria. Moringa tree seeds, when crushed cause contaminants to clump. Filter can be built with PVC, plastic bottles, or bamboo providing a cost effective system for poorest portion of the world. Source: Breakthrough Awards from Popular Mechanics Nov. 2013.
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Book of the Week: Ethical Theft- How to Steal Business from Your Competitors by Don Farrell. Quick read. Don presents ideas in entertaining ways. Should be required reading in every Sales Department…and for GM’s.
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Consultant of Week: Don Farrell of Fresh Revenues. Don founded Fresh Revenues in 2007. He had co-founded Signature Inc, the training company 20 years earlier. Don delivers guaranteed levels of revenues to clients while permanently distancing them from competitors. ************