recession http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1545/all en-US America Is Back: 4 Economic Predictions for 2015 http://www.wisebread.com/america-is-back-4-economic-predictions-for-2015 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/america-is-back-4-economic-predictions-for-2015" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000035878548_XXXLarge.jpg" alt="american kids racetrack" title="american kids racetrack" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With 2014 already in the books, everybody is dusting off their crystal balls and predicting what the 2015 U.S. economy will look like.</p> <p>And the predictions are looking awesome. Here are four that explain why 2015 may be a great year for the U.S.</p> <h2>1. U.S. Minimum Wage Will Be Higher</h2> <p>Americans are overdue for a better hourly rate. At the federal level, the last minimum wage increase was back in July 2009. However, before 2007 the minimum wage had been stuck at <a href="http://www.raisetheminimumwage.com/pages/qanda">$5.15 per hour</a> for 10 years.</p> <p>Though the labor market has experienced significant recovery in recent years (the unemployment rate is now a much-improved 5.9%), many people are still stuck in low-paying jobs, and demanding better pay. Accordingly, lawmakers have agreed to raise the minimum in several U.S. cities and states in 2015:</p> <ul> <li>$12.25: Oakland, CA (March 2, 2015); San Francisco, CA (May 1, 2015)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>$11.00: Seattle, WA (April 1, 2015); Berkeley, CA (October 1, 2015);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>$10.50: Washington, D.C. (July 1, 2015)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>$9.15: Connecticut (January 1, 2015); Vermont (January 1, 2015)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>$9.00: Rhode Island (January 1, 2015); Massachusetts (January 1, 2015); Minnesota (August 1, 2015); New York (December 21, 2015)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>$8.75: Alaska (January 1, 2015); West Virginia (December 31, 2015)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>$8.00: Nebraska (January 1, 2015); Maryland (January 1, 2015)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>$7.25: Federal minimum wage</li> </ul> <p>The years ahead look even better. For example, my home state of Hawaii is set to experience <a href="http://labor.hawaii.gov/wsd/minimum-wage/">minimum wage increases</a> every year for the next three years: $7.75 (2015), $8.50 (2016), $9.25 (2017), and $10.10 (2018).</p> <h2>2. U.S. Consumer Spending Power Will Be Strong</h2> <p>The fracking revolution has increased oil production, which, combined with lower global energy demand, caused oil prices to decrease about 50% in 2014. This has benefited the average U.S. consumer by providing extra room in their budget. Some places around the country are enjoying gas prices below the $2.00 per gallon mark. However, there are several other goods and services that will also experience price drops. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-buys-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2015?ref=seealso">8 Buys That Will Be Cheaper in 2015</a>)</p> <p>The best news is that no matter which <a href="http://knoema.com/kyaewad/us-inflation-forecast-2013-2015-and-up-to-2060-data-and-charts">U.S. inflation forecast</a> you peruse, price levels are forecast to remain stable in 2015, meaning your dollar will buy just as much (if not more in some cases).</p> <h2>3. U.S. Will Continue to Attract Foreign Investment</h2> <p>In 2015, the U.S. is poised to outperform almost all developed nations. Our country is finally experiencing the benefits from the end of 2009's recession and our GDP is expected to grow 3% for the first time in 10 years. Some of the key drivers of our strong economic growth are:</p> <ul> <li>Lower oil extraction costs due to the <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/id/101416763">shale oil boom</a>;</li> <li>Increase in <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-11-06/u-dot-s-dot-natural-gas-exports-will-fire-up-in-2015">U.S. natural gas exports</a> in 2015;</li> <li><a href="http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=19471">Lower gas prices</a>;</li> <li>Overall <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/id/102294235">increase in consumer spending</a> in goods and services;</li> <li>Increase in government spending; and</li> <li>Increase in <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2014/12/18/housing-outlook-2015-11-predictions-from-the-experts/2/">affordable new homes</a> in 2015.</li> </ul> <p>These and other economic factors create an ideal scenario for America's economy, and economists forecast that our <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/billconerly/2015/01/06/economic-forecast-2015-2017/">positive economic outlook</a> will attract strong foreign investment in 2015.</p> <h2>4. U.S. Interest Rates Will Go Up</h2> <p>This is the consensus from <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/r-reuters-poll-most-wall-street-firms-still-see-fed-rate-hike-by-june-2015-2014-11">Wall Street's biggest banks</a>.</p> <p>And this is not bad news at all. Given our stronger economic growth, the Federal Reserve needs to tighten up interest rates a bit. Otherwise, the economy would get &quot;too hot.&quot; Plus, it rewards savers by giving their accounts a boost. According to the economists from those same Wall Street's big banks, here is what we can expect:</p> <ul> <li>Short-term rates: Forecasts put this federal funds rate at 1%.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Long-term rates: The expected rate for longer-term securities, such as a 10-year T-bill, is around 2.5%.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>30-year fixed mortgages: A separate report predicts that this critical interest rate should be just <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/tool/business/T019-S000-kiplinger-s-economic-outlooks/index.php#ir">4.4% at year-end.</a> This is a slight increase from current 30-year fixed rates averaging between 3.60% to $3.90, depending on location.</li> </ul> <p>2015 is likely to be the year when the U.S. economy's recovery is felt by most average Americans. While not every single economic problem has been solved, these four predictions show us that there is good reason to stay positive.</p> <p><em>Do you expect 2015 to be better for the economy &mdash; and your pocketbook?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/america-is-back-4-economic-predictions-for-2015">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-for-a-recession">Preparing for a Recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-journal-part-ii-broke-or-poor">Recession Journal Part II: Broke or Poor?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/economic-effects-of-pandemic-flu-in-a-recession">Economic effects of pandemic flu in a recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-new-normal-economy">The new normal economy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance America Economic Growth Economy recession Tue, 10 Feb 2015 14:00:04 +0000 Damian Davila 1286248 at http://www.wisebread.com What I Miss About the Recession http://www.wisebread.com/what-i-miss-about-the-recession <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-i-miss-about-the-recession" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3348350633_05b146223b_z.jpg" alt="recession bargain" title="recession bargain" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="187" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The recent &quot;Great Recession&quot; was officially deemed to be over in 2009, but it is only recently that the economic recovery seems to have really picked up speed. While it is nice to see the stock market go up and the unemployment rate go down, I do miss a few things about the recessionary years. I'm not actually looking forward to the next recession, of course, but when it comes (and it will, some time), here's what I'll be looking forward to more of. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-for-a-recession">Preparing for a Recession</a>)</p> <h2>Less Traffic</h2> <p>Lately I have definitely felt that traffic has increased during commute hours. It is great that more people are getting jobs, but I do miss the shorter commute times and less congested roads. Apparently the increase in traffic is happening all around the country, and the National Safety Council reported the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nsc.org/Pages/National-Safety-Council-Estimates-First-National-Increase-in-Traffic-Deaths-Since-2005-.aspx">first increase in traffic related fatalities in years. </a></p> <h2>Shorter Lines</h2> <p>During the recession we rarely had to wait for a spot at a restaurant, but now that is very common. Restaurants that did not need a reservation during the recession are bustling once again. It is great to see establishments have more business, but it was nice to eat in sparsely populated dining rooms where it was easier to hear your friends across the table. There were also shorter lines at many malls and parks.</p> <h2>Bargains</h2> <p>It was much easier to find a bargain during the recession. You could negotiate down the price of almost everything, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-try-to-reduce-your-rent">including rent</a>. Hotels and travel were also cheap, and there were more restaurant coupons than I could use.</p> <p>Lately I have definitely seen fewer sales and coupons and an increase in prices on most goods and services. Large ticket items such as furniture and real estate were being sold at below replacement cost during the last recession, but now it is much more difficult to find a bargain that good.</p> <h2>Frugality and Saving</h2> <p>In the last few years everyone talked about saving instead of buying that next big thing. The frugal people were suddenly not so crazy!</p> <p>Now it seems that the tide is turning, and saving money is beginning to be uncool again. The <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-earn-a-good-interest-rate-in-a-low-rate-environment">zero interest environment</a> does not help the savers' argument at all, and there seems to be less urgency for everyone to save as a whole. The funny thing is that saving during the lean years when you have less income is much harder than saving during the flush years. I do miss that more people cared about saving money during the recession, and I hope they realize that they should try to save more now to prepare for the next recession.</p> <p>There are many things about the last few years that were not very nice, but I definitely saw the brighter side of the worst economy since World War II. I hope some of you were able to get some great bargains that you could use for years to come, and that you are keeping up those <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-saving-habits-make-you-a-revolutionary">good frugal habits</a> you have learned. In the next recession those who have cash will have many more choices than those who don't.</p> <p><em>What do you miss about the recession?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-i-miss-about-the-recession">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-george-w-bush-write-for-wisebread">Should George W. Bush write for Wisebread?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-new-normal-economy">The new normal economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-these-8-things-to-profit-from-the-improving-economy">Do These 8 Things to Profit From the Improving Economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-reasons-why-the-us-economy-is-kicking-the-worlds-butt">9 Reasons Why the U.S. Economy Is Kicking the World&#039;s Butt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Financial News bargains Economy habits recession Fri, 29 Mar 2013 09:48:30 +0000 Xin Lu 971476 at http://www.wisebread.com Once Again Safe as Houses? http://www.wisebread.com/once-again-safe-as-houses <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/once-again-safe-as-houses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/allerton-mansion-large.jpg" alt="Allerton Mansion across the pond" title="Allerton Mansion across the Pond" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A good reason to buy a house: It's affordable, and you want to live in it. A bad reason to buy a house: You're worried about &quot;missing the bottom&quot; in the housing market. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-equity-was-always-imaginary">Your Equity Was Always Imaginary</a>)</p> <p>As soon as housing prices made their initial leg down, I started seeing people thinking that it was time to buy. But very few of those people were saying, &quot;I just saw this perfect house!&quot; Most of them were saying, &quot;Maybe I'd better buy now, before prices go back up.&quot;</p> <p>I saw so many people talking that way, I wrote a post &mdash; <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-worry-about-missing-the-bottom-in-houses">Don't Worry About Missing the Bottom in Houses</a>. My point was that &mdash; unlike the stock market, where prices turn on a dime and zoom back up so fast that it's hazardous to your wealth to try to time the market &mdash; the housing market turns very slowly. After the bottom is long past, there will still be houses whose owners didn't sell as prices were falling. Some of them will move to sell at the first sign of rising prices. And, of course, there will always be the occasional motivated seller who simply has to sell.</p> <p>You never need to rush to buy after a housing crash &mdash; house prices will stay down for years. But now, it's been years.</p> <p>One never knows the future, of course, but sometimes the trends are so strong and so obvious it seems safe to make a prediction. That's how I saw the housing market back in March of 2009, when I wrote that post.</p> <p>Having done so, I figured I was obliged to mention when it's no longer the case.</p> <p>I'm certainly not calling a bottom in the housing market. I'm not predicting that prices will go up soon.</p> <p>All I'm saying is that the abnormal situation where you really can predict a market is coming to an end. Three years ago, I was willing to bet that there was no reason to rush into the housing market. There was no danger of &quot;missing the bottom.&quot;</p> <p>Now things are returning to normal. I don't know that prices will head back up any time soon. But after years in which they really couldn't, I've begun to figure that now they could.</p> <p>I still think that the only good reason to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-process-for-purchasing-a-house-with-cash">buy a house</a> is that you've found one you really want to live in, and you're able to get it at a price you can comfortably afford. And when that's the case, you don't really need to worry about whether the market is at the bottom or not.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/once-again-safe-as-houses">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-costly-things-new-homeowners-dont-prepare-for">9 Costly Things New Homeowners Don&#039;t Prepare For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-overpriced-us-housing-markets">The 4 Most Overpriced U.S. Housing Markets</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-evaluate-a-neighborhood-before-you-buy">How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before You Buy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-shouldn-t-buy-a-home-if">You Shouldn’t Buy a Home If…</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/real-estate-terms">21 Real Estate Terms Every Home Buyer Should Understand</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing first time home buyer housing bubble housing market recession Tue, 24 Jul 2012 09:37:00 +0000 Philip Brewer 943654 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Retire During a Recession http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-retire-during-a-recession <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-retire-during-a-recession" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/grandparents_palm_trees.jpg" alt="Grandparents" title="Grandparents" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If there&rsquo;s any group more worried about the long-term effects of the recession than new grads, it&rsquo;s the soon-to-retire. The economy is forcing nearly everyone to reevaluate their financial plans and goals and (for better or for worse) is making most of us settle in for a few more years of work before we can retire.</p> <p>As I listen to all the talking heads discuss new strategies for working longer and later in life, it seems that the old three-legged stool model of retirement is all but obsolete. The three legs of retirement &mdash; Social Security, an employer-sponsored retirement plan, and personal savings &mdash; are shaky at best. Economic forces have reduced both personal savings rates and retirement plan balances. And just keeping the bills paid has cut into the new money we can contribute.</p> <p>So is there a way to retire in the middle of a recession? Maybe. By reconsidering the three-legged stool model and taking a bit more aggressive and holistic approach to retirement planning, jumping off the work treadmill might still be possible. Here are the five steps that can help you prepare for retirement during a recession. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/deciding-what-you-want-out-of-retirement">Deciding What You Want Out of Retirement</a>)</p> <h2>1. Pay Off Your Mortgage</h2> <p>Paying off our largest fixed expenses well before retirement is an obvious, but seldom discussed part of a real retirement strategy. Saving more for retirement depends on knocking out the big bills and devoting more money and energy to personal savings and other asset-building activities. Don&rsquo;t discount the valuable peace-of-mind that mortgage-free living can give you as you settle into retirement.</p> <h2>2. Downsize and Downshift</h2> <p>Many financial advisers base their retirement calculations on replacing enough income through savings to support pre-retirement lifestyles. But is this realistic? What exactly do we sacrifice in putting off retirement until we have enough in savings to support our current standard of living? Maybe enjoying our golden years is enough of a reward to sacrifice a few of life&rsquo;s luxuries. A more modest home, a smaller budget, a used car, and fewer vacations all seem like worthy trades for time and a bit of freedom.</p> <h2>3. Save More</h2> <p>Of course, savings is always an essential component of a retirement plan, and saving more is usually a winning strategy. Many financial experts see the writing on the wall with pre-tax 401(k) contributions and are now advising their clients to redirect a larger share of money to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-a-roth-ira-may-be-better-than-your-401k">Roth IRAs</a>. Personal tax rates are bound to increase and the old advice of socking away pretax money while we&rsquo;re young and enjoying a lower tax rate upon withdrawal at age 59&frac12; may not hold true much longer. Whatever vehicle or approach you choose, having more choices later in life typically means crunching the numbers and saving till it hurts.</p> <h2>4. Get Creative</h2> <p>Getting creative with expenses and income may be the unspoken fourth leg of the new retirement stool. Solutions like trading a large home for a small duplex can reduce expenses and provide rental income. Phasing out of our careers slowly, going part-time, or switching to contractor or consultant status is another way to test to the waters of retirement while still keeping the money coming in.</p> <h2>5. Supplement</h2> <p>Even post-retirement, some folks are choosing to go back to work part-time in their previous fields or explore new, lower-stress jobs. The days of all-or-nothing retirement may be over, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean that it&rsquo;s not possible to thoroughly enjoy the retirement part of semi-retirement. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/making-extra-cash">Extra income</a> during these years can supplement personal savings and help retirees feel engaged and plugged in to their local communities.</p> <p>For those of us who believed that retirement would be as simple as that old three-legged model, the rules seem to have been suddenly and unfairly changed. Still, retirement is possible &mdash; maybe just not in the form we anticipated or as quickly as we had expected. The new retirement stool is made of up of many legs, and we&rsquo;re responsible for the stability of most of them. The time to start planning is now.</p> <p>How have your retirement plans changed in the last three or four years? Do you expect to enjoy the kind of the retirement your parents have? What advice would you give middle-aged readers who are rethinking their retirement strategies?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-retire-during-a-recession">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-do-i-need-to-retire-how-much-can-i-spend">How much do I need to retire? How much can I spend?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-boost-your-odds-of-retiring-early">5 Ways to Boost Your Odds of Retiring Early</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-thoughts-everyone-has-their-first-day-of-retirement">6 Thoughts Everyone Has Their First Day of Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-five-types-of-people-who-never-retire-are-you-one-of-them">The Five Types of People Who Never Retire (Are You One of Them?)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-boost-an-underperforming-401k">5 Simple Ways to Boost an Underperforming 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement pensions recession retirement planning retirement savings Mon, 26 Dec 2011 10:48:14 +0000 Kentin Waits 838006 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Prosper Despite the Coming Economic Challenge http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-prosper-despite-the-coming-economic-challenge <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/how-to-prosper-despite-the-coming-economic-challenge" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/how-to-prosper-despite-the-coming-economic-cha...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/how-to-prosper-despite-the-coming-economic-challenge" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000016272554Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many economies face difficult times in 2012. But your fate does not have to be directly correlated to any of them. By continuing to solve problems for your customers and by adding more value than they will ever expend on your product or services, you can make your business a contrarian, and likely part of the reason world economies can have any hope of recovery!</p> <p>At a recent conference <i>The Economist&rsquo;s</i> Economic Editor <a href="http://www.economist.com/mediadirectory/zanny-minton-beddoes" target="_blank">Zanny Minton-Beddoes</a> discussed the state of the world economy. She warned her comments would not paint a very rosy picture, yet I will argue there is still so much opportunity for businesses to grow and succeed.</p> <p>Here are four issues Zanny suggested will carry into 2012 followed by my thoughts on how you can navigate around, over, or even through them to achieve success.</p> <p><strong>1. US Debt to GDP Exceeds 100 Percent</strong></p> <p>The United States continues to creep closer to insolvency than financial health. For the first time since 1947, the <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/08/04/us-debt-reaches-100-percent-countrys-gdp/" target="_blank">United States&rsquo; Debt to GDP exceeded 100 percent</a>. That means the total gross economic value America can produce in a year will no longer cover the entire debt load to which this country is obligated. Normal businesses would be bankrupt before they even reached 50 percent debt to annual inflows.</p> <p><strong>2. Mortgage Debt Overhang</strong></p> <p>Thanks to recent declines in real estate values and over-aggressive lending practices, over 20 percent of households in the United States owe more on their homes than they are worth. It used to be worse, but this will continue to be a drag on many industries and the economy as a whole for years to come.</p> <p><strong>3. Political Paralysis</strong></p> <p>Nothing is more frustrating about America&rsquo;s struggling economy than the inability of its government to get anything meaningful or productive done to improve the situation. While each party seems content to align themselves on the far ends of the politicalspectrum, they have forsaken the political middle ground where progress and improvement needs to happen. With a big election year ahead, the stalemate seems destined to continue into 2012.</p> <p><strong>4. Europe Has Its Own Challenges to Overcome</strong></p> <p>If you think the United States&rsquo; debt to GDP is bad, consider the insolvent country of Greece at over 145 percent. So long as the European Union is at risk with Greece, Italy, and potentially others, America&rsquo;s capital and debt markets, and, consequently, its economy, will still struggle, despite an arguably faux increase in the value of the dollar.</p> <p><strong>How to Prosper Anyway</strong></p> <p>Before you get too overwhelmed with these problems, there is still a long list of companies that are succeeding anyway. How? They recognize these economic issues are generally outside of their control and influence, and they charge forward in spite of what they hear in the mainstream media and from other business owners who continue to blame the economy for their problems. Here are some suggestions to make sure you&rsquo;re included among the companies that thrived despite the macro-economic woes.</p> <p><strong>1. Put Your Head Down and Go to Work</strong></p> <p>As simple as this may sound, it really works. Turn off the news, shut-out the doom-and-gloom, and focus on what you can actually control. Find new markets for your existing products. Develop innovative products and services. Get a grasp of the key performance drivers of your business and train your thoughts and actions to improve those metrics.</p> <p><strong>2. Micro-Manage Your Cash Flow</strong></p> <p>Your business needs cash like your body needs blood. Businesses that thrive in tough economies know their cash flow and keep a close eye on every inflow and outflow. They charge the right prices and collect money faster than competitors. They minimize all expenses, with an eye toward reducing waste, getting the best prices without sacrificing quality, and squeezing as much value as possible from every dollar spent.</p> <p><strong>3. Look to Emerging Markets</strong></p> <p>With many of the developed countries and economies flat or even contracting, most large companies are targeting emerging countries as their best prospects for growth. So should you.</p> <p><strong>4. Consider Buying another Business</strong></p> <p>Just as real estate values are down, business values are also coming down. If you&rsquo;ve considered buying a competitor, merging one of your vendors or suppliers into your existing business, or any other merger or acquisition strategy, this might be one of the best times to pursue such a course of action. If you can prove that such activity will pencil to profitable and sustainable growth, you&rsquo;ll likely be able to find relatively inexpensive <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/3-things-you-can-do-to-help-your-banker-say-yes" target="_blank">financing to help you with the transaction</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ken-kaufman">Ken Kaufman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-prosper-despite-the-coming-economic-challenge">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-reasons-why-the-us-economy-is-kicking-the-worlds-butt">9 Reasons Why the U.S. Economy Is Kicking the World&#039;s Butt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-for-a-recession">Preparing for a Recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/america-is-back-4-economic-predictions-for-2015">America Is Back: 4 Economic Predictions for 2015</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center Economy global economy national economy recession small business US economy world economy Mon, 19 Dec 2011 00:35:09 +0000 Ken Kaufman 825740 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways To Grow Your Business Despite The Economic Crisis http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-ways-to-grow-your-business-despite-the-economic-crisis <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/5-ways-to-grow-your-business-despite-the-economic-crisis" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/5-ways-to-grow-your-business-despite-the-econo...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/5-ways-to-grow-your-business-despite-the-economic-crisis" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000004671806Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Looking at the gridlock in Washington, it&rsquo;s easy to get discouraged about the future of your business. But entrepreneurs have a long history of tunneling under, over and around obstacles&mdash;and finding new opportunities on the other side. You can do the same, even if the obstacle is as daunting as the current economic uncertainty we all face.</p> <p>Here are some strategies to us to grow your business, despite today&rsquo;s political climate.</p> <p><strong>Seek more business from highly profitable clients.</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;It takes the same amount of time to get a so-so client as it does to get a really good client,&rdquo; says Bert Martinez, CEO of sales and marketing consultancy Bert Martinez Communications, based in Phoenix and Houston. Do careful market research, and focus on the small percentage of customers in your niche who can realistically help you double your sales profitably, he advises. &ldquo;Contact them every two weeks,&rdquo; he suggests. Alternate your means of communication from phone to mail to email&mdash;and then repeat the cycle until you are able to set up an appointment to meet them or talk by phone, he advises.</p> <p>Remember: An ambitious goal like doubling your sales isn&rsquo;t achievable in a month. But if you start working on building your relationship with prize clients now, you&rsquo;ll be in much better shape than you would be if you keep doing the same old, same old.</p> <p><strong>Try education-based marketing.</strong></p> <p>One of the best ways to reach busy prospects is to offer them information that will help them to do their jobs better, says Martinez. That can be as simple as calling them to share some new data you&rsquo;ve gathered at your business on an industry trend that may be useful to them&mdash;without trying to sell them anything. &ldquo;The benefit here is that you come in as an expert,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re really gaining a high level of trust and rapport.&rdquo; Sharing your expertise will keep you top of mind if the prospect needs your services in the future.</p> <p><strong>Use your website to capture more leads.</strong></p> <p>Offer a great white paper or something else that&rsquo;s valuable to potential customers for free or a very low cost&mdash;and require people to enter their contact information to obtain it, says Kris Cavanaugh, who advises business owners on how to achieve their goals at Shift, an Atlanta firm. This will help you to build a robust contact list. Of course, you&rsquo;ve eventually got to reach out to folks who share their information to sell them something. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s all about follow through,&rdquo; she says.</p> <p><strong>Find out what matters to your prospects.</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t matter what the economy does&mdash;people will buy what they are connected to,&rdquo; says Cavanaugh. When talking with current and potential customers, make sure you are able to make a clear connection between the product or service you&rsquo;re selling and what they are going to get from it, she advises. &ldquo;Do some extra questioning,&rdquo; she suggests. &ldquo;If you ask the right questions, you&rsquo;re going to get to the deeper reasons someone wants something and close the deal earlier.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Invest in your business.</strong></p> <p>Even if your budget is tight, it&rsquo;s important to make <a target="_blank" href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/unlikely-sources-of-capital-1">strategic investments</a> that will keep your company moving forward, such bringing your website up to date, says Cavanaugh. &ldquo;All day, we, as small business owners, ask our prospects to take a risk and hire us,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;If you&rsquo;re not doing it for yourself, you&rsquo;re not standing on a strong enough foundation to get other people to do it for themselves.&rdquo;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/elaine-pofeldt">Elaine Pofeldt</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-ways-to-grow-your-business-despite-the-economic-crisis">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/america-is-back-4-economic-predictions-for-2015">America Is Back: 4 Economic Predictions for 2015</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-for-a-recession">Preparing for a Recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-i-miss-about-the-recession">What I Miss About the Recession</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center business growth economic crisis Economy increase sales marketing recession small business Fri, 16 Sep 2011 22:12:29 +0000 Elaine Pofeldt 696861 at http://www.wisebread.com The Recession Glossary http://www.wisebread.com/the-recession-glossary-1 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-recession-glossary-1" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/dictionary.jpg" alt="Girl reading the dictionary" title="Girl reading the dictionary" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="187" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The recent economic uncertainties have given rise to an array of new financial terms. Certainly you have heard of terms such as staycation and bailout over the last few years; some of these terms have become so common that they are now included in major dictionaries. Below are 15 of the top recession terms; feel free to add yours in the comments section. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-changes-you-can-make-today">25 Frugal Changes You&nbsp;Can Make Today</a>)</p> <h2>1. Stress Test</h2> <p>Derived from cardiac stress tests, a financial &quot;stress test&quot; is an assessment of a bank's ability to survive a potentially deteriorating economy. It ensures that banks have sufficient capital reserves to avoid liquidity problems in a downturn.</p> <h2>2. Consumer Confidence</h2> <p>A measure of consumers&rsquo; confidence in regards to the economy. Indicating the general public's optimism about economic activity, the consumer confidence level tends to be directly correlated to GDP growth and the employment rate.</p> <h2>3. Funemployment</h2> <p>This refers to enjoying one&rsquo;s time during unemployment. Funemployment does not mean people are not actively seeking employment or are happy with their lack of jobs. However, it does mean they are taking this opportunity to spend time doing things they would not normally have time for and enjoy.</p> <h2>4. Insource</h2> <p>The opposite of <em>outsource</em>, insourcing is performing duties yourself that were once outsourced to other parties in order to cut costs in times of financial hardship. For example, cooking at home while previously ordering takeout.</p> <h2>5. Staycation</h2> <p>Taking a staycation refers to vacationing at home or close to home due to financial constraints. This can include a <a href="http://financialhighway.com/4-fun-and-affordable-ways-to-spend-family-night-at-home/">fun family night at home</a>, barbeques with friends, or even short trip in the nearby area.</p> <h2>6. Underwater</h2> <p>When your current home value is below its current outstanding mortgage value, it's &quot;underwater,&quot; making refinancing virtually impossible, as you owe more then the value of your home. This phenomenon has been the primary cause of record level of home foreclosures in the recent years.</p> <h2>7. Bailout</h2> <p>This refers to providing financial aid to failing or near-collapse corporations. The term became widely used during the financial meltdown of many corporations in 2008. Merriam-Webster named &ldquo;bailout&rdquo; its &ldquo;Word of the Year&rdquo; in 2008.</p> <h2>8. Madoffed</h2> <p>Named after ponzi scheme runner Bernard (Berni) Madoff, it refers to individuals who have been conned out of their life savings by their brokers, bankers, or advisors.</p> <h2>9. Recesionista</h2> <p>A fashionable individual who maintains his or her current life standards by finding creative means during harsh economic times. With the recent economic conditions, more and more people are aiming to live a frugal lifestyle while maintaining some of the pleasures of their prior luxuries.</p> <h2>10. Intaxication</h2> <p>Derived from <em>intoxication, </em>intaxication is an intoxicating feeling one feels upon receipt of their tax refund. In financially difficult times, even a small tax refund can go a long way.</p> <h2>11. Zombie Bank</h2> <p>A bank with a negative net worth. Although these banks have higher liabilities than assets, they can continue business as usual thanks to government backing and handouts.</p> <h2>12. Homedulgence</h2> <p>Similar to staycation, this refers to the tendency of indulging and entertaining at one&rsquo;s home versus going out due to financial constraints.</p> <h2>13. Bleisure</h2> <p>As more people opt to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-productivity-hacks-from-a-work-at-home-mom">work from home</a>, the division between business and leisure hours have blurred. Whereas previously there has been a concrete divide between work and leisure time, workers are now managing the two simultaneously.</p> <h2>14. Stagflation</h2> <p>A combination of stagnated economy, i.e. no growth, combined with a very high inflation rate.</p> <h2>15. Double-Dip Recession</h2> <p>A double-dip recession refers to a recession followed by a short term recovery that then back into another recession. Also referred to as a &ldquo;W-shaped&rdquo; recession.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ray-jamali">Ray Jamali</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-recession-glossary-1">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-i-miss-about-the-recession">What I Miss About the Recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-journal-vi-its-over-any-questions">Recession Journal VI: It&#039;s OVER!!!!!!!!!!!! Any Questions?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-mortgage-crisis-solution">A Mortgage Crisis Solution</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-new-normal-economy">The new normal economy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Financial News language recession words Mon, 12 Sep 2011 10:36:17 +0000 Ray Jamali 699235 at http://www.wisebread.com Can You Survive a Double Dip Recession? http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/can-you-survive-a-double-dip-recession <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/can-you-survive-a-double-dip-recession" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/can-you-survive-a-double-dip-recession</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/can-you-survive-a-double-dip-recession" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000005080691Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Worried about whether your business can survive another recession? You&rsquo;re not the only one losing sleep. In a recent survey by <a href="http://www.citigroup.com/citi/press/2011/110504a.htm" target="_blank">Citibank</a>, 83% of small business owners said they are concerned about another economic downturn.</p> <p>However, many entrepreneurs emerged from the Great Recession with some handy survival strategies. In the same survey, 77% said they would be prepared if the economy went south again. While it&rsquo;s still unclear if we&rsquo;re heading into another slump, it never hurts to think ahead. Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure your business is on strong footing, no matter what the economy does.</p> <p><b>Have I asked my team what the company could do better lately? </b></p> <p>Ask your staff to be honest and, if necessary, challenge the way you&rsquo;re doing things. &ldquo;The best business owners want employees on their team who will not be `yes people&rsquo; &ndash; as long as there&rsquo;s a healthy respect,&rdquo; says Kris Cavanaugh, who advises business owners on how to achieve their personal and professional goals at Shift, an Atlanta firm. Also seek suggestions on how to improve your business from advisors such as your accountant and lawyer &ndash; and your clients.</p> <p><b>Do I know where all the money is going? </b></p> <p>Even small areas of waste or nonessential spending in your business can hurt your business over time. &ldquo;There may be some things you don&rsquo;t have to buy so your cash flow stays stronger,&rdquo; says Cavanaugh. If you&rsquo;re losing track of purchases by your team, now is the time to put tighter controls in place.</p> <p><b>Is talent on our team being wasted? </b></p> <p>Evaluate whether there are people on your staff whose skills are not being utilized the way they should be, suggests Cavanaugh. Using even one person&rsquo;s highest skills more effectively can give your company an edge.</p> <p><b>Do I have the right assistant? </b></p> <p>No CEO excels in every area. When you&rsquo;re navigating a tricky economy with a small team, it&rsquo;s very important to have an assistant whose skills complement your own, says Cavanaugh. It will help you to maximize your effectiveness. &ldquo;The best CEOs have a really great support network,&rdquo; Cavanaugh says. &ldquo;They have surrounded themselves with people who are good at the things they are not good at.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>Am I using joint ventures to economize? </b></p> <p>Partnering with another, noncompeting business is a great way to stretch your marketing budget, says Cavanaugh. For instance, someone who runs a personal training business might put together an educational seminar with other wellness professionals, such as a spa owner and chiropractor, to attract prospects who are likely to use the services of all three.</p> <p>When times get tough, the tough get creative.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/elaine-pofeldt">Elaine Pofeldt</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/can-you-survive-a-double-dip-recession">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-automate-your-everyday-life">4 Easy Ways to Automate Your Everyday Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-not-to-delete-your-emails">5 Reasons Not to Delete Your Emails</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-to-defeat-disorganization-forever">Do This One Thing to Defeat Disorganization Forever</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-for-a-recession">Preparing for a Recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/america-is-back-4-economic-predictions-for-2015">America Is Back: 4 Economic Predictions for 2015</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center double dip planning recession small buisness Fri, 08 Jul 2011 19:51:11 +0000 Elaine Pofeldt 601184 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Build Wealth in a Depressed Economy http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-wealth-in-a-depressed-economy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-build-wealth-in-a-depressed-economy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/325588888_9369962730_z.jpg" alt="coin jar" title="coin jar" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The current economic environment has led many investors to become pessimistic about the United States'&nbsp;economy. Consumer confidence is low and unemployment is running high. But as Warren Buffett has often noted, economic recessions are when investors can find some of the absolute best opportunities.</p> <p>Let&rsquo;s take a look at a few ways to build wealth during the current downturn. (See also: <a title="5 Money Lessons From Millionaires" href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-lessons-from-millionaires">5 Money Lessons From Millionaires</a>)</p> <h3>Invest in areas where no one else is&nbsp;</h3> <p>One of the easiest ways to lose your hard-earned dollars is by following the crowd. Fear is causing many investors to rush to the safety of Treasury bonds and gold. These assets do have some value, but they are not the best opportunities right now. The time to rush into gold was when no one was buying it at $300 or $400 per ounce. Gold now trades at nearly $1,400 an ounce. You never want to chase an investment when it is trading close to its all-time high valuation.</p> <p>Investors looking for a nice return should turn their attention to the assets that investors are avoiding. Stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the financial sector have been underwater for years now. Many technology stocks are still trading at prices below their true value. The steel and industrial production sector contains some great values as well. These investments are long-term holds that could reap serious rewards for risk-taking investors.</p> <h3>Build another income stream</h3> <p>Unemployment may be running high, but that shouldn&rsquo;t deter you from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-small-businesses-that-are-free-or-cost-little-to-start-up" title="10 Small Businesses That Are Free or Cost Little to Start Up">starting your own company</a>. A bad economy is the perfect impetus for starting an online business. There are needs for temporary agencies, consultants, and webpreneurs. All of these businesses require very little overhead and can be started from the comfort of your own home. Most just require paying a few bucks for a domain name to get started.</p> <p>A part-time job can also add a little income. You can do freelance writing or design work for other companies and bring in an extra couple hundred dollars a month. You can start you own catering business or run errands for people in your neighborhood. If you love pets, then start a pet-sitting business. Your entrepreneurial venture could end up turning into a full-time job.</p> <h3>Buy residential real estate</h3> <p>The real estate market looks like an absolute mess right now. Foreclosures are peaking and home prices continue to be depressed. Every market pundit is predicting more pain for the real estate sector. But while the market may be tough now, but there are signs that the sector may finally be reaching bottom.</p> <p>Mortgage rates are the lowest that they have been in decades. This could help entice some homebuyers and real estate investors back into the market. Remember back in 2009 when everyone was so pessimistic about the stock market? The market reached its low early in 2009 and has bounced back nicely. Many investors missed the rebound waiting for another market drop.</p> <p>The same thing could be setting up right now in the real estate market. Everyone is waiting for commercial and residential real estate to hit bottom. The truth is that no one can tell when a market is at its lowest point. Investors with the capital should consider getting in these markets now, as they are much cheaper than they were just a few years ago.</p> <p>Remember that during a bad economy can be the best time to implement your wealth-building strategy. Just because the economy is in a downswing doesn&rsquo;t mean that you cannot emerge from these difficult times in better financial shape than you entered them.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Mark. Mark publishes his own financial blog at <a href="http://buylikebuffett.com/">Buy Like Buffett</a>. He is a registered investment advisor and has written financial columns for Baltimore and Washington D.C. area newspapers. Read more by Mark:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://buylikebuffett.com/index.php/2010/08/5-ways-to-start-investing-with-50/">5 Ways To Start Investing With $50</a></li> <li><a href="http://buylikebuffett.com/index.php/2010/09/3-great-sites-for-earning-freelancing-income/">3 Great Sites For Earning Freelancing Income</a></li> <li><a href="http://buylikebuffett.com/index.php/2010/09/3-companies-that-have-virtual-monopolies-in-the-united-states/#more-4096">3 Companies That Have Virtual Monopolies In The United States</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mark">Mark</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-wealth-in-a-depressed-economy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-profit-from-obamas-cuba-announcement">5 Ways to Profit From Obama&#039;s Cuba Announcement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/real-estate-investing-is-cheaper-and-easier-than-you-think">Real Estate Investing Is Cheaper and Easier Than You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-vet-an-ipo-before-you-buy">6 Ways to Vet an IPO Before You Buy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-avoid-running-out-of-money-in-retirement">6 Ways to Avoid Running Out of Money in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Financial News Investment freelance jobs part-time job real estate investing recession Thu, 28 Oct 2010 13:00:12 +0000 Mark 272346 at http://www.wisebread.com A Mortgage Crisis Solution http://www.wisebread.com/a-mortgage-crisis-solution <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-mortgage-crisis-solution" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bank-building_2.jpg" alt="Bank building" title="Bank Building" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="278" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The latest twist in the ongoing saga of the mortgage crisis is that some fraction of the banks (and other owners of mortgages) didn't manage the paperwork well enough to be able to prove that they actually own each particular mortgage on each particular house. This is bad and sloppy &mdash; but it just might contain the seeds to a solution.</p> <p>I've written before that the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/root-cause-of-the-financial-crisis">root cause of the whole financial crisis</a> was not (as many have suggested) <strong>falling house prices</strong>; rather it was that <strong>housing prices got too high</strong>. If you think about it, the average house has to be affordable to the average household &mdash; who else is going to buy it? Once prices got too high, they had to fall. The government and many other institutions have done what they can to &quot;fix&quot; the problem of falling house prices, but that's an effort doomed to failure.</p> <p>Although propping up housing prices is a losing effort, it's a popular one. Homeowners like it &mdash; and homeowners tend to be voters. Bankers also like it, and the government has been looking out for them as well, for several reasons: They're a source of political contributions; bank regulators are tasked with preserving the banks (which are endangered by collapsing housing prices); even legislators and regulators who are primarily looking out for the interests of ordinary people know that a collapsing financial sector would be hard on everyone &mdash; not just bankers.</p> <p>The upshot has been that, despite the fact that a lot of people would like nothing better than to stick it to the banks, there's been very little effort to actually do so.</p> <p>This latest twist in the crisis, though, may give us an opportunity to make the banks do the right thing.</p> <h2>The Right Thing</h2> <p>The right thing would be for the pain to fall where it belongs. A lot of failed mortgages have two culprits. It's as much the fault of the homeowner who bought a house they couldn't afford as it is the fault of the banker who lent them money they'd never be able to pay back. But I'm not too worried about sticking it to the poor homeowner &mdash; they're going to suffer plenty. My main concern is that helping them not cost the rest of us a lot more money.</p> <p>So, to my mind, the right thing to have happen is for the <strong>banks who made stupid mortgages</strong> to be the ones who lose a lot of money. That's not a popular idea with bankers (who won't get nearly as much bonus money), and it's not a popular idea with bank regulators (who worry that banks that lose money might go under, dragging the rest of the financial system down with it). But the discovery of this record-keeping failure may have taken matters out of their hands.</p> <p>Banks have been resisting efforts to write mortgages down to the value of the house, even when the only alternative is foreclosure. All those foreclosures are sad. They'd be sad even if the only people being foreclosed on were foolish people who bought houses they couldn't afford &mdash; I don't want to see even foolish people turned out of their home. But it's worse than that. Many innocent people are caught up in the housing catastrophe. (You can see the stories of some innocent victims in the comments on my post <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-options-if-youre-underwater-on-your-mortgage">Six Options if You're Underwater on Your Mortgage</a>.)</p> <p>Up to now, though, there's been no pressure on banks to negotiate with homeowners to straighten things out. It's been cheaper to just foreclose, write off the loss, and go on.</p> <p>But now that everyone knows that the banks had been cutting a lot of corners on the paperwork, the situation is very different. A few egregious mistakes aside, in most cases there really is a mortgage and the owner really hasn't been making his payments. But because of the mistakes, it now seems clear that the bankers will no longer be allowed to slide things through quick and easy. Instead, they're going to be forced to cross every t and dot every i.</p> <p>This changes everything. In the cases where the record keeping has been very sloppy, it may be impossible to prove that the bank really owns the mortgage. Even where it's possible, it may be expensive. The banks, looking for the cheapest solution, just may find that it's cheaper to negotiate with the owner, and then write a new mortgage (and make darn sure that the paperwork for the new mortgage gets filed correctly). Even if they write the mortgage down to fair market value, they'll probably come out ahead of where they'd be if they had to foreclose, maintain the house for a while, and then sell it into a down housing market. (And they'll come out way ahead of where they'd be if the homeowner discovered that the bank can't prove that they've actually got a mortgage on the house at all.)</p> <p>I see this as a win for everyone except the bankers. Homeowners get to stay in their house, with a new mortgage that reflects the actual value of the house. House prices fall to where they belong, making houses available to ordinary people &mdash; but they do so without the dislocations of so many foreclosures and forced sales. Bank profits will suffer, but in exchange the banks get a chance to clean up their paperwork &mdash; valid, provable mortgages that will stand up in court. Really, it's just the bankers &mdash; whose bonuses will be under considerable pressure until this is all worked through &mdash; who lose.</p> <p>As a bonus: Going on the theory that there's considerable overlap between the banks most prone to screw up the paperwork and the banks most prone to lend money to people who couldn't pay it back &mdash; I'm thinking that the worst of the pain will tend to fall right where it's most deserved.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-mortgage-crisis-solution">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/low-interest-rates-do-not-make-homes-affordable">Low Interest Rates Do Not Make Homes Affordable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-reform-of-fannie-mae-and-freddie-mac-will-affect-you">How the Reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Will Affect You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/three-bad-ways-to-fund-mortgage-lending-and-maybe-a-good-way">Three bad ways to fund mortgage lending (and maybe a good way)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/principal-forgiveness-the-new-bofa-mortgage-deal">Principal Forgiveness: The New BofA Mortgage Deal</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-is-the-best-time-to-lock-in-a-mortgage-rate">When Is the Best Time to Lock in a Mortgage Rate?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Financial News Real Estate and Housing banks credit crisis mortgage mortgage crisis recession Tue, 12 Oct 2010 13:00:10 +0000 Philip Brewer 260745 at http://www.wisebread.com Double-Dip-Proof Your Business http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/double-dip-proof-your-business <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/double-dip-proof-your-business-elaine-pofeldt" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/double-dip-proof-your-bus...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/double-dip-proof-your-business" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000000918489XSmall.jpg" alt="business umbrella" title="business umbrella" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With fears swirling about a double-dip recession because of disappointing employment news, dropping housing sales and other indicators, many entrepreneurs are worried that we're in for another round of tough times. A new survey by Citibank found that 86 percent of entrepreneurs are concerned that this will happen. While it may be next to impossible to insulate your small business completely if it does, you can protect your sales by borrowing some smart strategies from other ventures that have done well in the past couple of years.</p> <p>For ideas on how to &quot;double-dip-proof&quot; a small business, I talked recently with Clifford Lerner, CEO of fast-growing Snap Interactive, a New York City provider of applications for dating websites such as <a href="http://www.areyouinterested.com/index_nl.php?action=splash&amp;qs=">Are You Interested</a>, and his brother and co-founder Darrell Lerner. Their young business, which went public in 2006, has built an enviable track record of growth in the past few years. For the six months that ended June 30, revenues were nearly $2.2 million, compared to $1.6 million in the same period in 2009. &quot;Our revenue keeps growing, and it's larger than it's ever been,&quot; says Darrell. Here are some ideas you can use in your own business, no matter what field you are in.</p> <h3>Face reality</h3> <p>This isn't a great time to launch a business that takes tens of millions to start, but it can be an ideal time to pursue other, lower-cost opportunities. &quot;Find something that's not capital intensive at a time when it's difficult to raise capital,&quot; advises Darrell. Snap Interactive raised $750,000 in financing from friends and family in 2006 and 2007. That's not pocket change, but it pales in comparison to the amount that tech startups raised in the dotcom era.</p> <h3>Stay lean</h3> <p>Snap Interactive never raised venture capital, so it stretched its startup money to make it last. For instance, the founders never went on a hiring spree. Today, the company has only 16 full-time employees. &quot;Pretty much every hire is because of an urgent need that is going to have significant impact to our bottom line pretty quickly,&quot; says Clifford.</p> <h3>Pay attention to customer feedback</h3> <p>When Snap Interactive adds a new element to its site, its team devotes constant attention to the tracking system it uses to measure visitors' responses. That way, employees can focus on doing what works and get rid of additions that aren't profitable quickly. This may sound obvious, but given the time constraints many small businesses face, it isn't done as often or thoroughly as it should be, say the site's founders. &quot;The companies that disappear are the ones that don't realize the importance of this and don't come up with creative ways to test ideas,&quot; says Clifford.</p> <h3>Maximize social media</h3> <p>No matter what your industry is, Facebook and Twitter offer easy ways to create a community where you can engage with current and potential customers. Snap Interactive, for instance, uses its Facebook fan page to post photos of couples who met on the site and got married. Fans will often direct their friends to the site, exposing more people to the company. &quot;If you don't have a presence on Facebook, you're missing out,&quot; says Darrell.</p> <h3>Create recurring revenue</h3> <p>Snap Interactive used to focus on generating revenues through advertising, which is tied closely to the state of the economy. It switched in December to a subscription-based model &mdash; a move that is working out exceedingly well, accounting for much of the increase in revenues. If you spend some time brainstorming, there's probably a way to offer your customers a subscription or other type of ongoing purchasing option that's easy to renew. If the new option appeals to customers, it'll put you on strong footing no matter what the economy does.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/elaine-pofeldt">Elaine Pofeldt</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/double-dip-proof-your-business">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-i-miss-about-the-recession">What I Miss About the Recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lessons-we-can-learn-from-blockbusters-demise">Lessons We Can Learn From Blockbuster&#039;s Demise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-george-w-bush-write-for-wisebread">Should George W. Bush write for Wisebread?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Financial News Small Business Resource Center double dip Economy recession small business Fri, 10 Sep 2010 17:02:48 +0000 Elaine Pofeldt 226156 at http://www.wisebread.com Spending Wisely: What to Do When Profits Soar http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/spending-wisely-what-to-do-when-profits-soar <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/spending-wisely-what-to-do-when-profits-soar-scott-allen" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/spending-wisely-what-to-d...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/spending-wisely-what-to-do-when-profits-soar" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000009343524XSmall.jpg" alt="Rising profits" title="Rising profits" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you started your business, you knew the odds were stacked against you. But someone has to beat the odds &mdash; why shouldn't it be you? And what do you do when it <em>is</em> you? As the economy rebounds, more and more businesses are going to start seeing profits beyond their current business model. When you're in that position, how can you best put that cash surplus to good use?</p> <p>It will be tempting to try to ride the wave of your success and put more money into marketing, perhaps in new markets or media that you haven't previously been able to afford. That's actually the last thing you should do. I don't mean don't do it at all &mdash; just that there are several other things that need to come first. When you overload any system, it crashes. The same is true of your business. You now have the breathing room and resources to focus on things other than marketing. Invest in the things that will allow your business to continue to grow.</p> <h2>1. Plug the Holes</h2> <p>Your newfound success may be exhilarating, but it also means you're more exposed than ever before. Satisfied customers will be your least expensive and most effective marketing. On the flip side, dissatisfied customers on a large scale can ruin your business beyond repair. Now is the time to take care of those nagging operational issues that you've been putting off. It's also the time to look at your entire value chain process &mdash; from suppliers all the way through to customer service &mdash; and figure out where any inefficiencies or limits are. Start thinking less in terms of pushing for growth and more in terms of removing the barriers to it.</p> <h2>2. Invest in Scalability</h2> <p>Are you ready for the next stage of your growth? Can your current suppliers meet your growth needs, or do you need to find one who can, or some supplemental suppliers who can, in combination with your current supplier? Are your own production systems capable of meeting your growth projections? Do you have enough office/retail/warehouse space? Are your IT systems suitable for the next stage of your company?</p> <p>Perhaps most importantly, can you handle the <a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;218395891;41475468;y?http://www201.americanexpress.com/sbsapp/FMACServlet?request_type=alternateChannels&amp;lpid=300&amp;openeep=17460&amp;ccsgeep=17460">customer service</a> needs that will arise one, two, three, six months after your current sales? I recently met an entrepreneur whose business had boomed after his product was covered on Oprah, but he hadn't scaled his customer service operations. To see just how bad the problem was, he called in himself and was told by the system that his approximate hold time was 14 hours! Needless to say, his business crashed almost as quickly as it had boomed.</p> <h2>3. Invest in Quadrant 2 Projects</h2> <p>In time management, Quadrant 2 is for those tasks which are important but not urgent. This includes production capability activities (covered above), relationship building, recognizing new opportunities, planning, etc. Some of these require only your time, while others cost money. For example, this may be the time to explore participation in industry organizations or executive peer groups, if you haven't already. Do some market research to explore possible new product offerings. Consider hiring a management consulting firm to guide you through this phase of your growth and help you update your business plan. Or work with an executive coach on your personal productivity and leadership skills. These are all short-term expenses that create long-term value.</p> <h2>4. Hire Professional Management</h2> <p>You're an entrepreneur &mdash; you've been wearing many different hats, as has most of your team. Now is the time to start letting you and your team focus most of your time on the highest-value activities. It's also probably the time to bring in some new ideas, especially if you and your team haven't run a company at this stage of growth before. Take a skills and experience inventory of your management and figure out where the biggest gaps are &mdash; that's where you should consider hiring someone from the outside.</p> <h2>5. Have a Little Fun</h2> <p>You've been working hard and so has your team. Enjoy it a little, else what's all the hard work for? Don't be extravagant, but do something that everybody can enjoy: a company outing, a foosball table or gourmet coffee machine for the break room, let everyone pick new desk chairs, etc. Make sure it's something that either permanently improves the work environment or is a truly distinctive and memorable event.</p> <p>Your business is a complex system. During the early stages, companies generally drive growth by pushing more into the input of the system, i.e., more leads. While the marketplace is providing the input pressure, now is the time to work on the rest of the system to set up for sustainable growth: fix the leaky pipes, remove any choke points, and keep the moving parts well oiled. Once you've done all that, you can start up the marketing pump again.</p> <script type="text/javascript"> federated_media_section = "platinum"; </script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/scott-allen">Scott Allen</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/spending-wisely-what-to-do-when-profits-soar">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-fund-your-business-without-touching-savings">3 Ways to Fund Your Business Without Touching Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-got-over-the-hump-and-sold-my-blog-for-3-million">How I Got Over the Hump and Sold My Blog for $3 Million</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center business expenses profits recession small business Sat, 24 Jul 2010 14:59:03 +0000 Scott Allen 149617 at http://www.wisebread.com The Credit Crunch Myth: You Can't Fix What Ain't Broke http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-credit-crunch-myth-you-cant-fix-what-aint-broke <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/the-credit-crunch-myth-you-cant-fix-what-aint-broke-kate-lister" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/the-credit-crunch-myth-yo...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/the-credit-crunch-myth-you-cant-fix-what-aint-broke" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000009212038XSmall.jpg" alt="Hammer" title="Hammer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you heard about the credit crunch? Of course you have. Everyone has. As far as small businesses are concerned, the story goes that the recovery is stalled because the nation's lenders are being stingy with credit.</p> <p>So, in an effort to fix the <em>problem</em>, the American Recovery Reinvestment Act (ARRA) authorized $730 million in funding for the SBA to:</p> <ul> <li>increase the level of SBA loan guarantees to (up to 90%),</li> <li>allow borrowers to use SBA funds to replace existing debt,</li> <li>expand the SBA microloan program,</li> <li>reduce loan fees, and</li> <li>create a new $255 million emergency loan pool (American Recovery Act Loans).</li> </ul> <p>Only one problem: There may not be a small business credit crunch at all.</p> <p>Since 1973, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a 400,000-strong small business membership organization has asked its members &mdash; a statistically valid sample of U.S. small businesses &mdash; about their borrowing needs and experiences.</p> <p>Their late-2009 poll showed only 8% of small employers consider access to credit an immediate concern. The real problem, cited by more than half of the respondents, was slow or declining sales (51%) and economic uncertainty (22%).</p> <p>Of the 55% of the NFIB business owners surveyed who said they had applied for credit, 40 percent received some (13%), most (12%) or all (22%) of what they required.</p> <p>Less than 20% of those surveyed didn't get a loan because they were turned down, didn't like the <a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;218395199;41474888;e?http://www.plumcard.com/?eep=17460">terms</a> offered, or simply didn't apply for fear of rejection. Among those declined for credit, twice as many cited poor sales as the reason, not credit rationing.</p> <p>So, what's the real problem? According to NFIB Economist Dr. William Dunkelberg, &quot;There seems to be general agreement that uncertainty keeps business owners from expanding their business and hiring, keeps consumers from spending more, and keeps investors from investing in the stock market.</p> <p>Dunkelberg gets more specific about the problems in the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends report (January 2010):</p> <blockquote> <p>Twenty-four months of recession have sapped the financial strength of many small firms that are too numerous now in the new spending/credit environment. Many that "need" credit are likely 'marginal' and don't have the record to support a loan. Too many houses were built, too many strip malls opened, too many restaurants started, too many new retail outlets were launched in the 2003-2007 period and all of them cannot be supported by a consumer that now chooses to save.</p> <p>Washington still doesn't get it. It pays lip service to the fact that small business generates half of private sector GDP and employs 60 percent or more of private sector workers, but when it comes time to provide help, two failing car companies with union employees get $80 billion and small business gets $30 billion IF banks decide to accept the funds to support loans and IF the owners can subsequently get a loan from a bank. ..."Stimulus" for this administration has not focused on supporting consumer spending nor been designed with a sense of urgency as central to policy formulation.</p> <p>And Washington clings to the false notion that it is a lack of loans that is keeping small firms from hiring. We are building less than half of the number of housing units normally constructed, putting a huge dent in mortgage and construction loan demand. We are buying two-thirds the number of cars normally purchased, so auto credit demand is way off. Plans for capital expenditures and inventory investment among small firms are at 35 year lows. Even large bank CEOs now admit loan demand is weak! So loans are not in short supply, but reasons to get loans certainly are.</p> <p>Lenders and investors live by the mantra: "Never throw good money after bad." What that means is, if you haven't addressed the fundamental problem, in this case lack of sales, throwing money at it is only going to delay the agony. Sales have declined for most U.S. companies over the past two years. Those that haven't cut costs enough to maintain profitability are going deeper in the hole every month. Without a plan to increase sales or decrease costs, new money will offer only a temporary fix.</p></blockquote> <p>The problem is, by trying to increase small business credit availability, we're not only throwing money at a problem that doesn't exist; we're creating a new one.</p> <p>SBA loan defaults doubled last year. Last year, banks failed (140 of them) at the highest annual rate since the 1992 Savings and Loan Crisis. The &quot;troubled bank&quot; list now includes more than 700 financial institutions.</p> <p>Don't forget, it's you and me, American taxpayers, who are ultimately on the hook for the SBA loans that go bad. Essentially, we're the unwitting (and speaking for myself, unwilling) co-signers on loans the nation's surviving lenders wouldn't touch without a guarantee.</p> <p>Does it really make sense for the government to encourage banks to make bad loans? Isn't that what got us into this mess to begin with?</p> <script type="text/javascript"> federated_media_section = "gold"; </script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-lister">Kate Lister</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-credit-crunch-myth-you-cant-fix-what-aint-broke">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-i-miss-about-the-recession">What I Miss About the Recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lessons-we-can-learn-from-blockbusters-demise">Lessons We Can Learn From Blockbuster&#039;s Demise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-new-normal-economy">The new normal economy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Financial News Small Business Resource Center Economy loans recession small business Sat, 03 Apr 2010 02:54:50 +0000 Kate Lister 6067 at http://www.wisebread.com The 2-Pronged Strategy for Postrecession Success http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-2-pronged-strategy-for-postrecession-success <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/the-2-pronged-strategy-for-post-recession-success-lynn-truong" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/the-2-pronged-strategy...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/the-2-pronged-strategy-for-postrecession-success" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000009000991XSmall.jpg" alt="Competition" title="Competition" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It is probably safe to say that recessions mark hard times for everyone. Consumers cannot afford to spend as much as they used to; companies lose sales every day; employees suffer wage cuts or lose their jobs &mdash; and cannot afford to consume. The current round of this vicious cycle began in 2007, and though some say we are beginning to recover, the outcome will likely prove to be drastically different from what we used to know. What strategies can businesses use to help them survive a recession &mdash; and with enough health to thrive when times get better?</p> <p>Ranjay Gulati, Nitin Nohria, and Franz Wohlgezogen launched a project in December 2008 to analyze corporate performance during three global recessions: 1980 to 1982, 1990 to 1991, and 2000 to 2002. In their article <a href="http://hbr.org/2010/03/roaring-out-of-recession/ar/1"><em>Roaring Out of Recession</em></a> (Harvard Business Review, March 2010), Gulati, Nohria, and Wohlgezogen identify what they call &quot;progressive companies&quot; as the type most likely to come out ahead after a recession. Progressive companies utilize an optimal combination of defensive and offensive measures to help them succeed even as their rivals flounder in the tough economic landscape. The strategy most likely to produce results during &mdash; and after &mdash; an economic downturn involves improving operational efficiency and investing in both existing and new businesses.</p> <h3>Defensive Measures: Operational Efficiency</h3> <p>When a recession hits, this is often the first question that business executives would attend to: How do we cut <a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;218396076;41475586;v?http://www201.americanexpress.com/sbsapp/FMACServlet?request_type=alternateChannels&amp;lpid=298&amp;openeep=17460&amp;ccsgeep=17460">costs</a>? There are many ways to reduce expenditures: lower operating costs, eliminate frills, and reduce the workforce, for example. Business leaders implement these tactics in hopes that their company will save enough resources to ride out the downturn, but if the focus is solely on cutting costs, odds are good that the company will fall far behind their more aggressive competitors. Trying to do more of the same with less often results in lower quality products and services &mdash; major turnoffs for customers who are looking for better value for their money. Within the company, initiatives and innovations that may improve performance are left unfunded; employees see upper management slash head count and fear they may be next.</p> <p>While it is undoubtedly necessary to cut costs when times are tough, the best way to enhance corporate performance is to increase operational efficiency. Rather than doing the same with less, companies need do <i>better </i>with less. Companies need to reexamine every aspect of their business models and come up with innovative and cost effective solutions. Although increasing operational efficiency is a difficult process, it is definitely worth a try. Companies that stress operational efficiency (instead of, say, reducing the workforce) enjoy better morale among their employees, who in turn become more creative in reducing costs. And when times get better, operational costs would remain low &mdash; allowing profits to grow significantly faster than those of rival companies.</p> <h3>Offensive Measures: Invest in the Future</h3> <p>Companies that are too defensive tend to fall behind competitors who are able to adjust their business models in accordance with the new economic environment. Companies that promote themselves too aggressively, however, also risk endangering the organization's welfare. Offensive moves that a company may consider include reaching out to untapped customer bases, making strategic investments with long-term payoffs, and taking advantage of depressed prices to buy talent, assets, or other businesses. While these investments may prove helpful in themselves, focusing too much on promotion may create a &quot;culture of optimism&quot; within the company where executives and employees ignore warning signs, taking too long to recognize and respond to crises.</p> <p>Progressive companies invest in their future by spending on marketing, R&amp;D, and new assets. They develop new markets and enlarge their asset bases by buying property, plants, and equipment at low prices so that they will be better equipped to fulfill increased demands after the recession. Investment tactics have the potential to help pull a company out of the recession rut, but only if they are implemented with customer needs in mind; adding bells and whistles at a time when customers want lower prices and greater value would only drain resources and decrease profits. If a company's executives want their business to thrive after a recession, they must make investment decisions based on how they can best meet their customers' needs.</p> <p>According to the study, only 21% of companies that focus only on cost-cutting actually pull ahead of competitors after a recession; of heavy investors, only 26% fare substantially better than their rivals. Unsurprisingly, companies that perform well after a recession use a combination of both defensive and offensive measures &mdash; the best outcome results from the two-pronged approach deployed by progressive companies. Progressive companies cut costs in ways that would increase operational efficiency, freeing up resources that they would subsequently invest in marketing, R&amp;D, and assets. The focus is always on how to improve the company's performance in the future, because once better times arrive, they will be the ones already at the top.</p> <script type="text/javascript"> federated_media_section = "gold"; </script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lynn-truong">Lynn Truong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-2-pronged-strategy-for-postrecession-success">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-fund-your-business-without-touching-savings">3 Ways to Fund Your Business Without Touching Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-got-over-the-hump-and-sold-my-blog-for-3-million">How I Got Over the Hump and Sold My Blog for $3 Million</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center recession small business Mon, 15 Mar 2010 21:57:23 +0000 Lynn Truong 5619 at http://www.wisebread.com Recession Journal VI: It's OVER!!!!!!!!!!!! Any Questions? http://www.wisebread.com/recession-journal-vi-its-over-any-questions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/recession-journal-vi-its-over-any-questions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/celebration-balloons.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are people grabbing strangers in the street and kissing them yet?</p> <p>Do you see the quivering, multi-colored ticker tape floating in the wind? How about the pitter-pat of feet toward the mall?</p> <p>Are the talking heads flailing their arms with tales of you winning and the terrorists losing with your purchase of a new smart phone or a plasma television?</p> <p>Are you happy now?</p> <p>I ask these things because it&rsquo;s finally over, technically, officially &mdash; the recession is over.</p> <p>The latest U.S. Commerce Department figures reveal that America's economy grew at a 3.5% pace in the third quarter, beating economist expectations and turning in the best growth numbers in two years.</p> <p>For any of those still feeling the personal blues and responding to this jargon with a resounding &lsquo;whaaaaa,&rsquo; any positive gross domestic product growth after consecutive quarters of contraction or negative GDP, signals a technical, if not literal, end to the recession.</p> <p>In this case, the latest GDP figures ended four straight quarters of negative GDP growth.</p> <p>Indeed a relatively bullish equity market &mdash; with duller horns than recent years but still bullish &mdash; and respectably performing bond market, along with government stimuli and small surges in consumer cars and home purchases, is responsible for the growth.</p> <p>So I&rsquo;m checking in with you, how do you feel? Feel good? Okay, you sitting down?</p> <p>Good.</p> <p>Well here&rsquo;s what our &quot;post-recession&quot; looks like right now.</p> <p>In the same week that good GDP data pulled the United States out of a recession, there's also mixed to bad news where other economic indicators are concerned.</p> <p>For one, consumer confidence is down.</p> <p>I asked you how you were feeling, how come you didn&rsquo;t tell me?</p> <p>The so called &quot;current conditions&quot; indicator from the Conference Board, which was also recently released, fell to 20.7, and is near its lowest level in 26 years.</p> <p>This is due to the continually lackluster labor market, where the current jobless rate of just under 10% &mdash; 9.8% to be exact &mdash; is the highest since 1983.</p> <p>Okay I know that sucks, but are you comfortable?</p> <p>Apropos, the ABC Consumer Comfort Index, also recently dropped on investors like it&rsquo;s hot, indicates that consumers are as uncomfortable about current conditions and about spending as they were during peak levels in discomfort this summer.</p> <p>And of course, we found out, in that same fateful week that consumer spending had nosedived in September by the largest amount in nine months. And incomes, to say nothing of disposable incomes, were flat across the board.</p> <p>Still happy?</p> <p>No, no, sit down, this&rsquo;ll only take a bit longer. Cop a squat.</p> <p>Further &mdash; yes this came out the same exact week too &mdash; while the S&amp;P/Case-Shiller home-price index climbed 1% from the prior month, seasonally adjusted, after a 1.2% increase in July, sales of new U.S. homes unexpectedly fell in September.</p> <p>The fall of home sales points to fear about lingering foreclosures and the end of tax credits for home buyers that could hamper a housing industry recovery.</p> <p>Speaking of foreclosures, the U.S. Census Bureau &mdash; yes recently they said this &mdash; the number of vacant properties, including foreclosures, residences for sale and vacation homes, rose from 18.4 million a year earlier.</p> <p>Meanwhile durable goods orders are up, but continued high unemployment looms in the shadows, as does the potential for a wild correction in commercial real estate.</p> <p>Additionally, buried in the basement of the Commerce Department's glowing is data that reveals the inflation-adjusted disposable personal income of consumers falling fell 3.4%, almost the same percentage of positive GDP growth.</p> <p>Don&rsquo;t get mad at me, I&rsquo;m just being real.</p> <p>Okay, put the torches and pitchforks down. I repeat, we <i>are</i> officially out of a recession folks.</p> <p>But the long-term effects of new or amended spending habits, our country&rsquo;s personal and government debt and how we respond now that we&rsquo;re out, will determine our personal and collective future.</p> <p>Do you plan to get out there and make something happen? Do you plan to wait until the coast is clear? How has your philosophy changed, if at all?</p> <p>I know, I know, more questions but as Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics pointed out to me in a, to belabor the point, &ldquo;recent&rdquo; conversation, &ldquo;questions are all we have in the present.&rdquo;</p> <p>And the more we ask of our government and ourselves where fiscal and personal decisions are concerned, the more answers we have.</p> <p><em>This post was included in the <a href="http://www.thefinancialblogger.com/carnival-of-money-hackers-%E2%80%93-my-favourite-coffee-edition/">Carnival of Money Hackers</a>.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jabulani-leffall">Jabulani Leffall</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-journal-vi-its-over-any-questions">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-15"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-journal-v-mind-the-gap">Recession Journal V: Mind, The GAP</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-depression">Recession Depression</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-reasons-why-the-us-economy-is-kicking-the-worlds-butt">9 Reasons Why the U.S. Economy Is Kicking the World&#039;s Butt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-will-the-comcastnbc-merger-really-affect-you">How Will The Comcast/NBC Merger Really Affect You?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Financial News economist recession US economy Sat, 31 Oct 2009 16:00:04 +0000 Jabulani Leffall 3778 at http://www.wisebread.com