Your Next Gig

By |2019-09-17T06:14:20-04:00September 17th, 2019|Global Market Update|

What is the “gig economy”? Photo: Roger Wallenberg. Source: Department of Defense A “gig” is a short-term contract for a performer. An assistant professor in Music Studies at Dartmouth complained once that he’d never find another gig like the one he had in Hanover. When people use the term now to describe the economy, they’re referring to the fact that more and more people are independent contractors – about 10% of today’s workforce. Apps on your smartphone like Uber and Airbnb make it simple [...]

Bright Lights, Rich City?

By |2019-09-16T06:17:05-04:00September 16th, 2019|Global Market Update|

The world’s cities shine brightly. Photo: Cexin Ding. Source: Unsplash. There’s an iconic photo of North Korea, taken five years ago by the crew of the International Space Station. It dramatically illustrates the relative economic activity of North Korea compared with neighboring South Korea and China. In the photo, North Korea is almost completely dark. It’s impossible to tell where its coast lies. In fact, South Korea looks like a separate land, cut off by an arm of the Yellow Sea from China. The [...]

Dog and Cat Investing

By |2019-09-13T06:40:55-04:00September 13th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Do you invest like a cat or like a dog? Photo: Kitty.Green66. Source: Flikr. CC BY-SA 2.0 Our cat and dog have very different approaches to life. Both were “rescues,” but the similarity ends there. Our cat is playful and mischievous. When I get up in the morning, she jumps up and follows me to the kitchen. She sits on a chair next to me as I type, begging me to dangle a hand or string where she can swat it. If I’m concentrating [...]

Starting Small

By |2019-09-12T05:46:14-04:00September 12th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Is there a bear market hiding somewhere? Photo: Courney Celley/USFWS. Source: Flikr. Public Domain. A bear market is a period of time where securities prices tend to fall. They can last from a few months to several decades. Some people think Japan’s stock market has been in an enduring bear market since 1989. Bear markets are marked by economic weakness and falling corporate profits. Often, they feed on themselves: falling markets lead to pessimism which leads to more declines which lead to more pessimism. [...]

Foggy Prospects

By |2019-09-11T06:30:13-04:00September 11th, 2019|Global Market Update|

We had some pretty thick ground-fog the other day. Photo: StockSnap. Source: Pixabay. License. We didn’t have fog very often where I grew up in Minnesota. The prairie is flat and clear, and the temperatures evenly distributed. But in northern New England, the mountains cool much faster than the surrounding land. The heavier cold air flows downhill into the valleys, where the atmosphere is thick with moisture. The cold, dry air forces the water vapor to condense, and a thick fog forms. It’s interesting [...]

The Foolishness of Crowds

By |2019-09-10T06:47:58-04:00September 10th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Have you ever cheered with a really big crowd? Photo: Pexels. Source: Pixabay. License. The cheering and excitement take on a life of their own. We get swept up in waves of emotion and excitement, carried along by the power of thousands and thousands of people just like us, rooting – and dreading – the same things. There’s something primal, elemental about it. People are tribal. We’ve developed group cohesion strategies in order to survive. Social media, news outlets, politicians, marketers all use this [...]

Abstract Markets

By |2019-09-09T06:51:34-04:00September 9th, 2019|Global Market Update|

What do you see? “Police Gazette,” by William de Kooning. Source: Wikipedia. Abstract expressionist art demands as much from its viewers as it does of the artists who create it. It’s emotionally intense, and tries to capture the “spirit” of the subject, rather than particular details. But the artworks are open to a lot of interpretation. Reality can seem obscure and difficult to elicit. One of the most important such artists of the 20th century was Willem de Kooning, a talented painter who came [...]

Marching Portfolios

By |2019-09-06T06:54:51-04:00September 6th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Did you ever play in a band? Photo: Manseok Kim. Source: Pixabay. License. I did in high school. It was a small affair, and we weren’t very good. There were only about a dozen of us: a couple of flutes, clarinets, and a bassoon, some trumpets and trombones, a drummer, and I played the French horn. Our school didn’t have a big instrumental tradition, and the school itself was pretty small. But we had a lot of fun, and we learned a lot about [...]

The Loneliness Effect

By |2019-09-05T06:49:32-04:00September 5th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Is loneliness a growing problem? Photo: Matthew Henry. Source: Freerangestock. CC0. Several major publications have recently claimed that loneliness has risen dramatically, that it’s an epidemic, that there is a “loneliness crisis.” In the UK, the government even created a “Minister for Loneliness” as a way to battle social isolation and the resulting health problems. Loneliness tends to increase stress, our to which our bodies respond by releasing stress hormones. Over the long run, this can impair cognitive performance, compromise the immune system, and [...]

The Wealth of Asia

By |2019-09-04T06:37:59-04:00September 4th, 2019|Global Market Update|

What is Hong Kong? Photo: Robster1983. Source: Wikimedia. CC0. Hong Kong is a former British Colony founded in 1840 as a trading station. It has a free market economy with almost no tariffs or duties, highly dependent on international trade and finance. In fact, the value of imports and exports, $1.2 trillion, is approximately four time the size of Hong Kong’s economy. It has very little arable land and no significant natural resources. All it has is a decent harbor, an advantageous location, and [...]