Business and Tech Links and Notes #6

January 11, 2010

1-10-10

1. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ah8p5De56NvE&pos=5

“Rice Export Prices to Remain Around $600 a Ton, Economist Says”

I guess it is safe to assume this is good news for anyone with rice futures, and it is bad news for anyone who actually needs to consume said rice. It is good that India is stockpiling significantly more rice than is required, considering anything can happen. Hopefully, weather conditions will improve, so there will be a bumper crop next year. I wish I had something more profound to say, but I know virtually nothing about the Asian grain market.

2. http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/06/rfd-cable-gottsch-business-media-farm-tv.html

“The Ted Turner Of Rural TV”

Although RFD-TV is not a new venture, it is still one that innovates in a society that otherwise has overwhelming focus on urban life. I think it is good that such a network exists that allows many people who live in rural areas to have programming that is more meaningful to them than what other networks provide. Of course, some people would say that it would be a generalization that people in rural areas would necessarily enjoy this network, and that is true. Obviously, not everyone watches this network, but many do.

1-11-10

3. http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/personal-finance/financial-planning/money-tree-mistake-avoid-saving-retirement/

“Money Tree: Could You Be Saving TOO MUCH for Retirement?”

I generally agree with the idea behind the article, although there are some semantics I do not quite agree with. In my opinion, it seems contradictory that people could retire too early and be saving too much in their retirement funds. Does it not make sense that someone can retire earlier if he or she has saved the money to do so? Beyond that, I think the ideas are generally sound investment tips that could be used in other forms of investing. Obviously, for instance, having a diversified portfolio is never a bad thing, and one should always consider inflation whenever one invests long-term.

4. http://www.cnbc.com/id/34754063/

“Going Gaga For Lady Gaga At CES”

I hope Polaroid uses the current popularity of Lady Gaga as a steppingstone to a bigger plan, perhaps with more endorsements from other celebrities or other signature lines. Polaroid has really lost its relevance in the past decade, and it desperately needs to find a way to catch up with other similar companies. Although the idea of bringing back a camera similar to the vintage instant photo camera is a nice novelty, it is merely a trinket that will bring in a few quick pennies, without so much as even putting a bandage on the company’s problems, let alone solve them. Polaroid needs to find a way to innovate with consumer electronics and become a reputable brand again.

5. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a4TwfiSIfjdM

“Dubai’s First Foreclosure May Open Floodgates in Worst Market”

I did not know that property was never foreclosed upon in Dubai, but it makes sense, considering investors do not take on the banks’ loan risk like investors do in many other countries. For a while, Dubai was supposed to be this financial promised land, but like the rest of the world, it has taken its share of the beating. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of Dubai’s populations come from places outside of the UAE on work visas, so Dubai’s problems become everyone else’s.

6. http://blogs.zdnet.com/Burnette/?p=1614&tag=wrapper;col1

“Are SSDs too fast?”

I have to agree with all the people who say that developers need to create programs on the best machines the company can provide, and then the software needs to be tested on many different machines of various capabilities. Moreover, I believe that more software needs to be made like computer games, particularly when it comes to system use. The end user can decide how much performance he or she wants from the game, ultimately deciding the level of resources the program uses. All programs need to be like this. If the end user could decide just how much functionality he or she wants from a particular program, he or she can dictate exactly how well the program performs.

7. http://www.informationweek.com/news/global-cio/security/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=222300303

“Global CIO: 5 Points To Make When Your CEO Cries Cloud”

I think it is safe to assume that most people who are not heavily into IT or computer science have a relatively limited understanding of cloud computer. This includes many CEOs. This article is fantastic in that it explains how to not put the cart ahead of the horse. Cloud computing is still in its novelty phase, and it will take a few more years before it becomes the general norm for all software. I think one of the most important issues, like the author said, is mobility. Just because cloud computing is the big thing now does not mean that everyone will buy into it full force. Companies may need to go back to putting their programs and information on their own servers for any reason at any time. Once the information is in the cloud, how easy will it be to take it off, if it comes to that?


Business and Tech Links and Notes #2

January 4, 2010

1-4-10

1. http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/jan2010/gb2010014_211008.htm

“Kraft May Lift Offer on Cadbury Stock Rise”

It does not seem surprising to me that a food (candy) company has become a hot target for takeover at this time. Even in the worst of times, people will still eat candy. It also does not seem surprising that Cadbury’s stock is pushing up as high as it can, considering the strength of the company, and considering how many other companies seem to have interest in buying Cadbury. Regardless of who ends up buying the company, I do think the Cadbury brand will still remain strong, and it will not get swallowed up by its parent company.

2. http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/04/news/economy/ISM_manufacturing/index.htm

“Manufacturing activity continued to grow in December”

According to the article, there has been steady growth for several months in manufacturing. Computer and electronic manufacturing is up, which is no shock. But I cannot see the greater correlation between manufacturing growth and general economic upturn. There was no mention in the way of sales or much of anything else further on the business chain. Also, not a peep was mentioned about job growth or manufacturing infrastructure increases. Although an increase in orders is not a bad thing, I think it would be unwise to believe it alone has any meaningful effect on the greater economy.

3. http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0118/investing-eveillard-first-eagle-mutual-funds-calamity-insurance.html

“Using Gold as Calamity Insurance”

Although some may laugh at this notion, I think Ron Paul has a good idea when he says that we need to be able to have alternate forms of currency, because that forces the people who control the various forms of currency to be more vigilant in maintaining the value of said currencies. What does this have to do with the article? I agree that gold is not the end all, be all of financial value, but gold definitely has its place in any society that heavily relies on fiat currency and securities-based investments. In the article, the company uses gold to give stabilize mutual fund portfolios. What has helped gold throughout the years is that it is a tangible object that cannot go away. It changes in value mostly from mining circumstances and consumer and investor demand. This has been a viable, stable currency for many centuries. Why can it not continue to be a usable currency? It does not have to be the currency, but it can be one of many.

4. http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-10423524-265.html?tag=newsLeadStoriesArea.1

“Five New Year’s Resolutions for Google”

This article really hits the nail on the head. In particular, the comments about Google Books made a lot of sense. It seems surprising that Google has not tried to cash in on the e-reader craze yet, considering how dedicated they are about creating a comprehensive e-library. Then again, that may be part of what Google has in mind with their current mobile strategy. Google is one of those companies that tries to make everything tie into everything else. Although this strategy generally works, I do think people can be sometimes overloaded by having too much in one spot, such as in the example of Google Wave. I find it interesting that so much hype was made about the Wave beta testing just a month or two ago, and we barely hear anything about the project now.

5. http://www.informationweek.com/news/healthcare/EMR/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=222100334

“U.S. Pushes For EMR Standards”

This makes sense, and I totally support this. If a person gets sick or injured, particularly somewhere not near his or her home, having standardized medical files could help people significantly by correcting the problems made by inconsistent forms, such as wasting time and making possibly incorrect assumptions in filling in gaps. I do not think paper files should be done away with, but they need to become backup files, as opposed to the main sources of information on patients. Consistency in electronic medical files is something I believe should be on the top of the list of tasks for improving health care in the United States.

6. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=am2z88Oy1kJs

“Housing Animal Spirits to Be Banished by Prime Foreclosures”

This article was a bit depressing to read. It is one thing when people who played the market and tried to live drastically beyond their means get hit, but it is quite another when people who did things in a reasonable, cautious way are in the hot seat. The current recession is quite the cycle, where people become less inclined to spend when they are getting laid off or otherwise having their employment decreased, but employment rates end up having a hard time increasing, because people are less inclined to spend. Such a skittish economy causes even the most responsible of people buying on credit to have problems, because the jobs they took for granted as being secure suddenly become not so secure. Something has to give, somewhere.

7. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a1cY88utRbZU&pos=7

“Commodities Back as Gurus Eschew Financial Assets (Update1)”

Although the U.S. stock market and the dollar appear to be in recovery for now, I think there will be a turn toward inflation once the stimulus money is weaned from companies. I could easily see the U.S. starting to print money if it cannot find another way to pay for the huge hole it has gotten itself into. I think it will be especially important to continue holding onto commodities and precious metals investments throughout 2010, because I do not think the dollar has seen its worst days yet, even if the Fed raises interest rates.


Business and Tech Links and Notes #1

January 4, 2010

1-2-10

1. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=arp0XyPoRxW0&pos=10

“China Property Bubble May Lead to U.S.-Style Real Estate Slump”

Although the Chinese government still tries to hold onto its communist ideals in name, China is really just as heavy into capitalism as America is. The practice of “flipping” property is a good short-term means of making money, but investing too heavily into it can have major pitfalls, as was shown in the American property market during this current recession. If China wants to continue moving forward, it needs to stick to an economy based on manufacturing.

2. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aeuJT_pSE68c&pos=11

“Ethiopian Farms Lure Investor Funds as Workers Live in Poverty”

African agriculture is a sound investment right now, particularly considering few people are actually invested in it. Land values, to buy and to maintain, are incredibly cheap right now, even in comparison to other poor, largely agriculture-based areas of the world. Unfortunately, workers who previously tended to their own land have become employees to these investors, and the workers’ pay is barely enough to sustain life for themselves and their families.

3. http://www.forbes.com/2009/12/23/evolution-resources-biowillie-business-energy-ethanol.html

“‘BioWillie’ Chief’s Questionable Comeback”

Dennis McLaughlin, head of Evolution Resources, is trying to break into the biofuel industry, but he failed to tell his investors about his colorful past, where he ran another company into the ground with a similar project. Also, there are allegations that he impropriety occurred regarding the sudden jump in value of the empty property where the old biofuel project was to take place. It seems to be this person emphasizes raising capital at any cost, as opposed to actually creating a sound business, especially considering a large chunk of his money was raised by celebrity endorsements of a concept.

1-3-10

1. http://www.infoworld.com/d/adventures-in-it/2010-tech-career-outlook-460?page=0,0

“2010 Tech Career Outlook”

The fact so many IT jobs are being sent overseas is not surprising. It is equally not surprising that the IT jobs that will be available are going to be increasing in sectors that are still trying to get off the ground, such as fully blown cloud computing. But, as the article says, countries such as India and China have no desire to continue to be sources of cheap labor for lower-end IT positions; these countries will want to compete against the U.S. and Europe. Although this is an obvious claim, the key for the United States to maintain technological superiority is through continuing innovation.

2. http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-computing/need-job-in-it-cloud-needs-you-689

“Need a job in IT? The cloud needs you”

Cloud computing is not entirely brand new technology, but innovation is in progress to make cloud computing the way of the future, as opposed to specialty or novelty technology as it is now. Regardless, creating such a transition requires qualified people who have an updated skill set. Although the author of the article is confident cloud computing will go forward, he also believes salaries for qualified people will skyrocket, due to a lack of competent people in the sector.

3. http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/industries/finance/mixed-bag-stimulus-unemployment-keys/

“Keys to Next Year: Stimulus, Employment”

The current recession has caused general investment volatility. The author mentions a bond bubble near the end of the article, and although that sounds worrying, it just seems to be an effect of investors having run away from stocks when the stock market had its freefall in late-2008. Furthermore, the article mentions how there may be a major selloff of stock in late-2010 as a result of lessening stimulus packages. To me, the economy sounds like the tide that goes in an out like it always does, but the waters are just a little choppier than usual right now. Obviously, real estate also took a hit, and appears to only be stabilizing a marginal amount, but I wonder how other investments are holding up, such as commodities.

4. http://www.cnbc.com/id/34643627/

“Amazon May Pay for Touting Kindle Without Details”

What is interesting is the level of controversy over such as small percentage of Amazon’s profits. I wonder if the worry is over Amazon’s possibly making less money on the Kindle as it should right now or if there is a greater worry over the e-reader market as a whole, which Amazon currently leads. Amazon touts high numbers and percentages of e-book sales, but is the craze really latching on as much as they want us to believe? Why would Amazon be more worried about creating “media buzz” about the Kindle than being more honest with investors?