Technology Holding Businesses Accountable at Finovate

I went to Finovate in New York City with Rebirth Financial this past week. It was a great experience for me and the company. The networking, information, advice, and press were all extremely valuable. I wrote about the event from our company’s perspective on the company blog.

There were two other companies presenting at Finovate with technology that really made me excited. Both are ways to prevent businesses from trying to pull a fast one on people who don’t know any better. I see these ideas as a way to make are markets function better by removing information asymmetries that favor businesses at the expense of customers and investors. Continue reading

Why Greece Should Default: Its Time to Start Over

Earlier, I claimed that despite the grave consequences, Greece should default. Default would not be pretty for Greece or the rest of the world, but I firmly believe it is better than the alternative.

The international consequences of a Greek default would have a significant impact on Greece itself. When Europe’s banking system starts to collapse, its difficult to imagine many people taking trips to Santorini. It’s export markets will suffer. The conditions would not allow Greece to quickly return to prosperity. Continue reading

Inside Job: Get Up To Speed on the Financial Crisis in Two Hours (For Free)

The ugly side of Wall Street.

If you are only going to watch one movie for the rest of your life, it should be Inside Job. Spend two hours in front of the computer watching this. It won’t cost you anything other than your time, and we have a duty to each other as voters to understand what has happened and demand accountability. Continue reading

Biking New Orleans

I love riding my bike. It makes sense on so many levels. Its my transportation, exercise, and time to think. I save money on gas, stay in shape, and get to blow off some steam.

New Orleans is a great place to bike. The city is small enough to get to most places in 15 minutes and anywhere in 30 minutes. It is checkerboard-flat. The traffic is extremely mild. It’s hot, but not as hot as walking. You get the wind blowing in your face, and there is a lot of shade from the live oaks overhanging the streets. Most of the city is beautiful, and if its not, then its at least interesting and foreign.

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Four Votes from the End of the World

Coming to a street near you?

There was a popular economic theory last decade called “decoupling”. Decoupling was the idea that the stability and viability of the world’s economies were becoming independent of each other. It held that China’s success wasn’t subject to US success, the US wasn’t subject to Europe, Europe wasn’t subject to China, and so on.

Decoupling was rightly dumped from our vocabulary in 2008 when the financial crisis revealed a deeply integrated and co-dependent economic system. Nothing has changed in the three years since. The global economic system is like tectonic plates all pushing in different directions, kept from sliding by a tightly-strung piece of dental floss. Continue reading

Free Lunches In An Open World

An economic truism is that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. While lunch itself may not be free, you can get a lot of free software and education. In the open source movement, a lot of skilled programmers have put their time into software that they give away. You can get graphic editors, music production software, office suites, and even operating systems. The programs come with thorough user guides and YouTube demonstrations, so you can figure out how to use them. Its not always as a good as what you would pay for, but you didn’t pay for it.

Open education is even more exciting. On an informal level, people with know-how, a camera, and time have posted instructional videos on how to do almost anything. You can learn how to change a flat tire, build a solar panel, play guitar, and anything else you might be interested in taking up. Educational institutions have gotten in on the act with top universities like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Cal Berkeley posting videos of entire courses online. Sorry you never got that Philosophy degree? Don’t be; you’re probably better off. I’m speaking from experience. And you can just attend that Existentialism in Film and Literature class you were dying to take via iTunes. Continue reading

Silver is on the Scoreboard

You’ll notice a new tab on the site called “Scoreboard”. Basically, I’m sharing my investments, so you can see for yourself whether I know anything about the subjects I feel confident enough to write about. It will allow you, fair reader, to judge my expertise and motives. Its a gesture of openness and accountability that I’d like to be a hallmark of this site, and I don’t think you’ll find anything like this in mainstream media commentary. I’m not going to say how much I’ve invested because I’m not comfortable with revealing the extent of my poverty, but knowing when and for how much I opened and closed positions should be sufficient to make your own judgments.

I made the first trade of my life a few weeks ago. I bought shares in SLV, an exchange traded fund (ETF) that owns a pool of silver. It is supposed to track the price of silver while giving the added convenience of being able to be sold at a mouse click and not having storage costs. I was promptly taught a lesson in market timing; as of yesterday, my position was down 5%. I got some of that back today, but that is irrelevant. I took the position to hold for a period of 1-5+ years, and I’m still feeling confident.

Here are the reasons I think this is a good investment. Continue reading