Saturday, April 30, 2011

Understanding What Matters in Business and in Life

By Michael Masterson
We were walking down a small cobblestone street in Aix en Provence. It was a perfect June day - sunny and still warm in the late afternoon. The old, unpainted buildings had an amber glow.
Some of these buildings, we had learned from poking our heads inside, contained modest-sized apartments. Others enclosed elegant residences that only the wealthy could afford. From the outside, though, you couldn't tell one from the other.
"That's a good thing," K said. "From the outside nobody can tell how much money you have."
"It's the opposite back home in Florida," I said. "Wealthy people want everyone to know how much money they have. They tear down old buildings and replace them with McMansions."
"It's just a question of values," K said.
We stopped at a cafe about a block from where we were staying. It was nearly filled with people having drinks and smoking, enjoying the end of their workday. A young girl stood under an oak tree playing Bach on a violin.
Jean Marc, the owner, brought us coffee. I wrote in my journal. K was reading a local newspaper.
"It says here you can survive without food for three weeks," she said. Three days without water. But only three minutes without oxygen."
"Japanese pearl divers can stay under water for 10 minutes," I said. "The world record is something like 19 minutes and 21 seconds."
She shook her head, smiling. "You know what I mean. It's a question of values."
I thought about that as we walked back to our place. So much of our time is spent pursuing goals that have questionable or temporary value. And often we ignore what is most important.
Like oxygen. What could be more important to human beings than oxygen?
Yet we don't spend any time appreciating it. I made a mental note to mention oxygen the next time I said grace.
Bill Bonner and I often surprise our marketing protégés by saying that "there is an inverse relationship between what is valuable and how much people will pay for it."
I remember a meeting in London, for example, with the people running Bill's investment publishing business there. We pointed out that their free services usually focused on investment strategies, their $100 newsletters focused on investment analysis, and their $1,000 services provided trading tips.
"The strategies - fundamentals, timing, etc. - are what really determine financial success," we reminded them. "Yet nobody is willing to pay for that. They will pay $100 for stock analysis and they'll pay even more for single-sentence buy recommendations. We've tried reversing the price structure many times, but it never works."
When I have candid conversations with very successful investors they never give me stock tips. They always talk about fundamentals. The same is true in the world of business. The entrepreneurs I know who make huge money seldom talk about specific business opportunities. They prefer to discuss universal principles.
There is a reason for that.
When you have ready access to wealth building opportunities, you understand that they, in and of themselves, have little value. What counts is being able to analyze them quickly and efficiently, cull out the best ones and then take advantage of them. That knowledge is what separates you from the rest of the pack. And that knowledge is scarce.
But if you're like most people, specific opportunities are rarely available to you. Colleagues don't call you up and offer you inside deals. Your broker doesn't care much if he pleases you. He just wants to sell something and take his commission. So because genuine opportunities are scarce, you tend to jump on anything that "feels" good.
Trouble is, since you are an outsider, most of what you are pitched is not special. You don't know that, but you fork over your money anyway. And then you are disappointed.
There is a lesson here for entrepreneurs: Without a solid understand of fundamentals, it is hard to make smart wealth building decisions. If you want to be successful you must learn to value what is truly valuable.
So what are the most important things for entrepreneurs to know about wealth building?
Here is a short list:
  • You will never get rich chasing the next hot opportunity. Understand the larger business trends. Discover how wealth builders of the past have profited from them. And do the same with your time and money.
  • All businesses develop in much the same way. They go through stages, each one of which has its own problems, challenges, and opportunities. To take your business from one level to the next, you must learn what these problems, challenges, and opportunities are and take advantage of them.
  • Never invest in a business or an industry that you don't understand. It doesn't matter how great the opportunity seems. If you don't know the market well, you will inevitably make bad and costly decisions.
When fledgling entrepreneurs come to me and ask me to mentor them in wealth building, I always tell them the same thing: "Everything I know I have already written down in the books I have written. You can find out what you need to know by reading those books."
Most of the time, they don't follow my advice. They can't believe that something they might find in a bestselling book will give them what they are looking for: a formula for getting from zero to millions of dollars.
They tell me that they want to hire me to be their personal consultant, no matter what it costs. And when I explain that I am not taking on any new clients, they are discouraged. But they shouldn't be.
There is no question that getting mentored by a successful wealth builder is more valuable than reading a book. But the value is in the prompting and coaching and correcting, not in the essential ideas.
If you are still struggling to hitch a ride on the money train, the problem may be that you don't understand the fundamentals. Take this five-question test to judge your knowledge:
  1. What is the single most important rule in acquiring great wealth?
  2. What ROI do you need every year to acquire the net worth you are seeking?
  3. What sort of enterprises will give you that ROI?
  4. What is the optimal selling strategy for the most successful business in your industry?
  5. What is the allowable acquisition cost for your business?
Send your answers (and any questions of your own you might have) to ETR's Associate Publisher, Jason Holland, at Jason will review and reply to those in need of the most help with their businesses.

Our Mining Stocks With the Potential for Enormous Gains

These under-the-radar miners could make you a fortune...
But they don't mine for silver or gold.
They dig up something much more rare...
With the price of all types of precious metals rising rapidly, latching onto the stock of the right mining company can make you a fortune.
And these four companies were no different.
Since I sent this urgent report, readers who acted on it would be up triple digits right
now -- on all four companies.
But it's not too late for you to make triple-digit profits from these same four companies.
Just last week, I got an e-mail from investigative financial journalist Michael Robinson. He's the guy who discovered these four incredible miners. And it was his special report I forwarded to my readers.
He told me these companies have just begun their rise up. And he wanted me to let my readers know this could still be a fresh opportunity to make unbelievably high profits.
"These still have room to run," he wrote.
Michael is simply one of the best researchers I know. His record speaks for itself. He's been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He wrote a critically acclaimed book, Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings.
He's covered almost every aspect of the financial world in his 30 years as a journalist. His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Because of his deep inside knowledge, Michael has an uncanny knack for uncovering exciting investment stories no one else knows about.
That's how he discovered these four unique mining companies.
Wall Street and the mainstream media have overlooked them, but their story is fascinating. And the amount of money they could make investors is hard to fathom.
After all, when things go well with mining companies, the gains for shareholders can be extraordinary.
For example, look at some of the gains made by these special mining companies, all in the last five years:
  • Loudong General Nice Resources 11,900%
  • International Tower Hill Mines 2,465%
  • Golden Eagle International 1,194%
  • Crocodile Gold Corp. 1,158%
Just $1,000 into any of these companies would've made you over $11,000

A $10,000 investment in Loudong General Nice Resources would've made you a millionaire. In just five years.
Most people think gains like that are only a fantasy.
But, it can happen for you too...
In the end, the four mining companies Michael recommended could go as high as 1,158%. If you got in now, that would mean you could still pick up 924% on one of those companies alone.
That's why Michael's asked me to offer you a second chance to find out about these investments while they're still headed way up.
In a minute, I'll show you how to get all the details on these companies today, including ticker symbols and specific buy instructions, for FREE.
But first, let me explain exactly what these companies are mining for, and why it's so valuable.
Not All Mining Companies
That Glitter Are Gold
These companies don't mine for gold, silver or platinum. They aren't coal miners either.
Instead, they mine a funny subsector of little-known materials known as rare earth elements. These science fiction-sounding metals with names like palladium, iridium and molybdenum are actually extremely crucial to our everyday lives.
These elements are essential for the function of laptops, cell phones, HDTVs, satellite tracking and complicated missile guidance systems.
The Chinese control nearly 100% of this market.
By 2012, I believe the Chinese will begin consuming more of these elements than they produce. Anyone who wants to import these minerals from China will have to pay a steep price. The market value of these metals will skyrocket.
You can see why the companies who mine this stuff would be so valuable.
That's why the four companies Michael Robinson recommended in his special report are already up triple digits.
And that's just the start...
These companies still have a very real chance of reaching 1,158% overall gains. If you buy now, you could still see gains as high as 928% on these companies, as China continues to tighten their grip on these metals.
Michael's special report is called "The Rare Earth Giants of North America," and inside he tells you the names of these four companies, what percentage of your portfolio you should allot to these opportunities, and how much farther up he thinks they'll go.
The report is yours free today...
All I ask is that you take a risk-free, trial subscription to Michael's monthly newsletter,American Wealth Underground.
Every month he reveals potentially lucrative opportunities just like these that are ignored by the mainstream.
So what does risk-free mean?
17 Out of 24 Winners in 2010
When you take a subscription to American Wealth Underground, you'll have 90 days to test it out.
If, for any reason, you're not satisfied during that 90-day trial period, you can cancel your subscription, either by calling or e-mailing us. And we'll give you a full refund, no questions asked.
Even if you decide to cancel after 90 days, we'll still give you a prorated refund.
Why would I make an offer like this?
We put out the American Wealth Undergroundnewsletter every month.
I hired Michael because I'm completely confident in his work.
I don't think there's another financial journalist out there who uncovers more unique opportunities than he does.
Just look at the kinds of gains American Wealth Underground subscribers have seen this year:
  • 17 out of 24 open picks in the model portfolio are up...
  • The average gain of those picks is 40%... and rising.
  • The four rare earth plays from the May special report all went up triple-digits in just six months.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Ways To Make Extra Money That Is Effective For Everyone

Are you trying to find ways to make extra money so you don’t have to keep living paycheck to paycheck? There are a variety of ways that you can decide to use.

You just need to learn what some of the most effective and easiest ways are so you can choose the one that fits you the best. Be sure it is a way that you will enjoy because this is going to make it much easier for you to really make money with it.

The following are a small handful of the ways that you can decide to use for earning extra money from the comfort of your own home.

1. Affiliate marketing – This is a very effective method and very popular way because it is free to get started with. You just need to locate affiliate programs in any niche that you like.

Then sign up for free with their affiliate program and you will be sent all that is necessary for you to get started right away such as, a website and marketing help.

Make sure you start out promoting only one affiliate program and get it making money for you before you add another one.

You can easily promote many programs so you can earn the most money possible, but taking on too many when you first begin is going to be a mistake because it is very easy to become confused and overwhelmed, until you have gained experience with making money from home.

2. Business Opportunities – There are numerous business opportunities in varying niches that you can decide to use for earning money. Again, find a niche that interests you and then search for the business opportunity you will use.

This will make your search for the best opportunity much simpler and less time consuming.

3. Freelancing – Do you like to build websites? Do you like to write? There are many freelance services you can offer online to help you earn money.

There are also many people that are ready to hand you their money if you will do the task that they don’t know how to do or dread doing. Freelancing is a good way for everyone to make extra money, but you need to be sure you can offer a service that will be profitable.

Do a little research to learn if your service will be profitable and if it is, then get your freelancing business started immediately.

4. Niche marketing – Do you want to build a business around a particular niche like, golfing? Then you can get on the internet and locate affiliate programs and business opportunities for that particular niche.

This is an effective way to make money because the more you can narrow down your niche; the more likely you are to target people who are ready to buy what you offer.

With these ways to make extra money in your mind, you now have to choose the one that fits you the most. Once you choose the way you want to use, get started immediately because the sooner you start, the sooner you will be making the extra money your family needs to live comfortably and not paycheck to paycheck anymore.

Professional Internet marketer Mark Babcock helps average people make money online and create extraordinary incomes from home. For anyone that is searching for extra money ideas visit his website today so he can start helping you.

Readers that are searching the Internet for more info about internet marketing, then make sure to visit the site which is mentioned in this paragraph.

There is No such Thing as an Overqualified Candidate

“Sorry you are overqualified for this role, but thank you for the interest.”

Have you or any of your peers heard this before? Well recently the concept of ‘overqualified’ came under debate in the AESC / BlueSteps group on Linkedin, discussing, should you hire an ‘overqualified’ candidate?

While there are many reasons an executive may search for a role that appears beneath their experience level, such as transitioning into a new industry or lack of availability of higher level positions, the answer to the ‘overqualified’ dilemma generally lies in the attitude of both the executive and employer. In every case, real passion must exist for the role on the candidate side and employers must avoid dismissing these candidates as simply ‘risk hires’. Instead, organizations should benefit from these highly experienced executives by nurturing growth and laying foundations for role expansion.

Done correctly and the benefits to the hiring organization can be huge. See below for how the organization is likely to benefit, and why the term overqualified is overused.

  • ‘Overqualified’ as a hiring risk should be viewed as the exception, not the rule. Overqualified simply means more experience, better qualifications and a broader vision.
  • Highly qualified candidates drive change and improvement – if you are not looking for this and do not allow ‘overqualified’ executives to reach their full potential, expect them to seek new opportunities as the market returns to normal.
  • ‘Overqualified executives have already completed similar tasks, saving the organization a lot of time and avoiding mistakes. To put it simply, overqualified = less training costs.
  • A specific role in each organization should not be seen as a static list of duties when success is the ability to manage change and discover new opportunities.  Positions always change and expand, and experienced professionals are the most apt to develop these opportunities.
  • Highly qualified executives provide mentorship to other employees, drive innovation and offer informal on-the-job training.
Despite these positives, fears of hiring executives who are qualified beyond the job spec sheet are still strong in the job market. Some believe overqualified executives will leave when a better offer is made, and the ability to retain these talented individuals will only be decided if the organization can compensate sufficiently.
Overqualified also becomes a mask for other fears. Executives in the discussion highlighted that ‘Overqualified’ is often a mask for age discrimination and that too many executives are intimidated by a higher qualified hire.

With more positives outweighing the negatives driven by fear, the consensus of the discussion was that there is no such thing as an overqualified candidate, experience or qualifications on paper do not translate into excellence and using the vague label is misleading. Instead, organizations must be flexible with positions in order to attract and retain the very best, and candidates must be prepared to develop horizontally as well as vertically.

Finally, hiring managers should treat all candidates who have completed the application process equally, assuming that they are serious about the role and have considered the level of the position. Follow this attitude with an honest discussion with the candidate about any concerns. Any other approach will lead to dismissing candidates with the most experience and highest qualifications.

Career Opportunities as a Franchisee

By Greg Helwig
In this challenging economy where there are six job seekers for every job opening, many would be surprised to learn that one viable option is to take your employment matters into your own hands by starting a franchise business. For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, starting your own business as part of a larger franchise operation offers the opportunity to take control of your destiny and forge your own path.
As for the type of business you decide to open, another positive factor is that inexperience in your chosen industry does not have to be a barrier to entry. There are a number of sectors poised for continued growth, from food service to fitness to child care.
Joining a franchise organization provides entrepreneurs with crucial technical and industry support -- important components that are not present when starting as an independent operator. An added benefit of working with an established franchisor is assistance in accessing start-up financing.
Be in business for yourself, but not by yourself
Franchising is a great way for people with little or no experience in a particular industry to start (and grow) their own business. It allows you to become independent and pursue your career goals while capitalizing on the experience and support of an established organization.
Important skills and personality traits
People with the following characteristics and background typically make for a good franchisee:
  • The ability to sell and market yourself and your business
  • Self-motivation (even though you are in a partnership with a franchisor it is still your business and you are responsible for its success)
  • Willingness to be the "face" of your franchise
  • Being extroverted and trustworthy (especially in service-based industries.)

In addition, having a sales, marketing or business background is a plus since you will want to think of creative ways to market your business. While these are not requirements for achieving your desired goals, they are factors that can help lead to thriving business.
Knowing when to take the leap
Starting a new career or job can have its challenges. If you think that you are interested in becoming a franchisee, you first need to ask yourself what you need to be happy. Your ideal lifestyle, career and income are all important factors to consider.
Next you need to think about what industry you would like to be involved in, such as food service, retail or child care. For example, those with a love for children or an education background might consider an educational child-care franchise.
Once you have narrowed down your areas of interest, conduct research to learn about various franchisors in that industry and then call the headquarters to discuss their offerings, requirements and financing options.
Selecting a franchise that will be a true partner
As you get to the final stages of selecting a franchisor to work with, it is important make sure that you are forming a partnership with an organization that works best for you. To ensure that you are getting the most out of your franchisor, keep the following tips in mind:
  • Understand the services the franchisor will provide. One factor to consider is the operational ratio of the franchisor staff to the number of franchisees they oversee. Find out if they offer a protected trade zone to avoid another franchise being located in close proximity to yours.

  • Align with a franchisor that has an established brand. They should have at least 50 franchises and, ideally, a national presence.

  • Meet with the franchisor staff. Make sure to meet the decision makers of the franchise including the senior staff. Often you can attend a "discovery day" to learn about the franchise program.

  • Look for a franchisor that takes a proactive, not reactive, approach when it comes to supporting their franchisee's success. Some franchisors are only concerned about their franchisee's performance when it is poor. Aligning with a partner that provides the necessary support every step of the way is critical to success.

  • Make sure the franchisor provides growth opportunities. Will there be the possibility of opening up another franchise in a year or two in the general area you have chosen?

If you are frustrated by the current job market or looking for a career in a field that you are passionate about, opening a franchised business may be the right step for you. Working with a franchise operation provides you with the support you need to begin a business along with the tools you need to make it successful. For self-motivated job seekers, franchising allows you to do what you love and ultimately take control of your career. 

The Financial Event Your Great-Grandchildren Will Talk About With Awe

History informs us of past mistakes from which we can learn without repeating them. It also inspires us and gives confidence and hope bred of victories already won."
William Hastie

By RC Peck
Less than 860 milligrams of active matter.
That is what finally brought World War II to a close.
To put it in perspective... 860 milligrams is about 0.0303 ounces. There are 16 ounces in a pound. Take a cube of butter and shave off a tiny flake, and you're starting to get the picture.
That is the amount of active plutonium that went off inside "Little Boy," 1,900 feet above Hiroshima. The resulting nuclear reaction made a firestorm that was about 2 miles in diameter. It burned at over 7,200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Isn't it mind blowing that such a tiny thing could cause such a huge explosion?
But that's the reality of life. Big doors swing on tiny hinges. Huge ships are controlled by small rudders. Life-changing events happen in seconds.
Most people don't realize it, but we are facing the equivalent of that 860 milligrams of active matter in the financial market today.
When it goes off, it will create a global financial firestorm that will catch tens of millions of people totally unprepared.
The event will be so forceful that it will effect a sudden and drastic transfer of wealth... the likes of which have never been seen.
Note that I did not say a destruction of wealth. I said a transfer of wealth.
That's right. Just like in the Great Depression, money will not evaporate. The gold, the silver - all the precious things on planet Earth - and the need for humans to exchange goods and services using money will not vanish.
During the Depression, it just became harder for some people to get their hands on money. And when it becomes hard for one person to get money, it becomes extremely easy for someone else.
Consider J. Paul Getty. Getty is known for his oil empire. But he knew little about the oil industry. He was an investor. When the stock market plunged in 1929, he used his modest savings to buy up all the oil and gas stocks he could. He paid pennies on the dollar for most of them.
What others lost, he scooped up.
Then there's Babe Ruth. In the mid-1930s, while many people were standing in bread lines, he was hitting home runs and making millions (in today's dollars).
There are thousands of other examples, but you get the point. In a financial crisis, money does not go away... it simply transfers hands.
Right now, 860 milligrams of active financial material is being packed into its bomb casing by government leaders, financial magnates, and international rebel factions. They've been at it for over 40 years now.
They are doing this through the active manipulation of currencies, stock markets, real estate markets, oil prices, and commodity prices. The manipulation may work for a time. But there will be a backlash.
You see, all markets eventually spring back to their mean state or middle ground. The harder and longer they're manipulated, the harder and faster they spring back.
Think of it as a bow and arrow.
If you draw back the string of a bow just a little, the bow will respond with just a little force. However, if you draw the string back all the way, you will get a sudden, powerful response.
The bow was drawn fairly tight from 2002 to 2007 with the manipulation of the real estate sub-prime market. Then it snapped back in an attempt to return to middle ground.
But instead of allowing the financial markets to square themselves, governments and other industries around the globe pulled back even harder.
That is when government printing presses fired up in earnest, churning out money. Since then, the drawing back of the string has become so intense that we now face the largest market manipulation in the history of the world. The market will snap back. Said another way... it will detonate.
When it does, the result will be a shocking, instant, and possibly violent transfer of wealth from one group of humans to another.
Some believe it will transfer from one nation to another.
Could be.
But I think it will be more of a transfer from those who are unknowing and/or unprepared... to those who know what is happening and are ready to scoop up the gold, silver, cash, and other riches that will freely flow from one group to the other.
The question you should be asking yourself right now is this: "How do I position myself to be one of those who easily receive, instead of part of the group that is going to lose it all?"
It's a smart question. The answer is easy: Find the tiny hinge that this big door will swing on and exploit it.
Just like the 860 milligrams of plutonium that sparked the chain reaction in "Little Boy," there is one little niche-of-a-niche in the market that will detonate and start the global crisis. This is a small, relatively unknown, but extremely easy to secure, asset class.
Because it is such a small micro-niche, no one is talking about it. The spotlights are focused elsewhere. The attention is on government printing presses, real estate markets, commodities, and other "newsworthy" assets.
Not long ago, I identified this micro-niche asset class and have been telling my private clients about it. They have already seen a handsome 105% return in the past three months.
But that is nothing compared to what is coming.
The most profitable "hidden opportunity" of this current global financial crisis will be like a nuclear explosion, focused exclusively on this micro-niche asset class.
Millionaires and even billionaires will be created overnight.
Right now, the micro-niche asset is at the equivalent of a $35 billion market cap. When it is detonated, it will explode to a $3.5 TRILLION. That is a 10,000% increase.
This is the investment opportunity of five lifetimes. It has never happened before at this level. I'm sure that we will never see it happen again.
For those who know what is going on and where to focus, the money that was lost in the ugly markets of 2000-2010 can and will be made up - and then doubled or tripled in a matter of months.
Retirement funds will be filled and secured. People will suddenly have so much money that they will never have to work again. Like J. Paul Getty and Babe Ruth, while others are standing in bread lines and wondering what went wrong, they will be enjoying a life of wealth.
The story of the economic event that is about to happen will be told to our great-grandchildren. They will listen in awe because it will have become a major piece of human history.
Much like we talk about the Fall of Rome, the Civil War, "Little Boy," and the Berlin Wall, they will talk about this massive transfer of wealth.
And just 860 milligrams of financial power - one obscure, unnoticed micro-niche asset class - will spark the whole thing.
Read this simple report here :->

Thursday, April 28, 2011

This Metal Humiliates GOLD!!!

 It took gold prices an entire decade to make investors 387%.
Over the next 12 days, silver is likely to race even higher as Bolivia's Evo Morales threatens to nationalize the mining industry.
While he threatened the same action in 2006, don't put it past him this time, as apresident tries to revive a damaged image.
No, really. He means it this time.
Seeing how mining is a major chunk of export income for Bolivians — and that Morales draws great support from miners — he'll more than likely push for that nationalization.
Nationalization is nothing new for this guy...
Ever since taking control in 2006, Morales has nationalized or raised taxes on oil, natural gas, mining, and telecommunications. There are no signs this trend will end any time soon.
The world's sixth largest producer of silver in 2010 could easily be nationalized within days.
That said, buy into the iShares Silver Trust ETF (SLV) before May 1, 2011. If nationalization results in tighter silver supplies, SLV will explode.
On the Flip Side
Nationalizing the mines means Morales could lose the support of mining stakeholders who have provided the president with a strong support base thus far.
So while you're riding SLV for speculative upside gains, you can also pick up the likes of Pan American Silver (PAAS), which has also fallen on nationalization fears and has more than likely priced that in on this spectulation:
paas chart 042011
At risk of nationalization is Pan American's San Vicente Mine, which took the stock down from $40+ highs.
If nationalization is a no-go, the stock pops.
It pops even more with call options.
You can also check out Coeur d'Alene Mines (CDE), an old favorite silver company I've traded off and on for years. Even though the stock has dipped, it too is a buy. And it could pop on two things:
1. As I said with PAAS, no nationalization will result in higher prices.
2. Even with nationalization, I believe the threat is priced in. Heck, it may be a buy now if the Bolivian president stays true to his assurances that CDE's Bolivian mine, San Bartolome, will not be nationalized.
cde chart 042011
So there you have it — three ways to trade the Bolivian nationalization fears around May 1, 2011.

Obama's Oil Blunder
For too long, your government has made your gas tank a slave to the wallet-gouging actions of OPEC and the Russian oil cartels...
It's time to fight back.
We have the technology to double the oil and natural gas that we get from American reserves — and kick our foreign dependence for good.

We have people wanting to exit U.S. dollar holdings. PIMCO's Bill Gross is shorting the U.S. dollar. And China wants to reduce its holdings of U.S. debt.
The only thing it's doing is signaling to the rest of the world that the U.S. dollar should be abandoned.
Utah just inked a bill that would recognize gold and silver coins as legal currency. If the bill passes, Utah would become the first of many states that have proposed the same thing...
Colorado, Georgia, Montana, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington want to do the same.
What does that tell you?
It tells me silver is going much, more higher.
Buy SLV on probable upside with or without nationalization — and take a speculative position on PAAS and CDE on the idea that nationalization will be a no-go.
As always, you'll want to play it safe... I wouldn't risk the house.
Stay Ahead of the Herd,

The Housing Market's Silver Lining

By Steve Christ | Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
The great thing about having lunch in a neighborhood bar in Baltimore is that you never know who you'll run into pounding beers at 12:30 on a Tuesday.
Hiding behind the poker machine in the dark corner on yesterday's stop, I found my old pal Charlie.
Munching on the last bite of coddie cake with crackers, he looked like he had had a few...
“What's wrong pal?” I asked him with a chuckle. “Has the Case-Shiller Index got you down in the dumps again?”
It was at that moment I realized I had gone too far. The look he shot me was one I had seen before.
You see, long before Chuck ever became a realtor, the guy was one of the toughest dudes ever to tote the rock.
And after smashing his head against his locker for a while in the pregame, his eyes took on a certain glaze that let you know he was about to get busy...
Those cold, dead eyes were staring back at me, and I suddenly wished I'd just gone to the salad bar at the grocery store. But that's when I decided to sit a few stools down and quickly change the subject. As it turns out, a little talk about the kids made for much better conversation.
Six years into our long-running housing debate, I think it's probably a good time to let it all quietly end.
The Housing Market is Still Broken
Meanwhile, the object of our little banter quietly continues to drop, no matter how many beers Charlie drinks.
After trillions of dollars down the rat hole, Humpty Dumpty can't be put back together again.
According to the Case-Shiller Index, property values in 20 cities fell 3.3 percent from February 2010, the biggest year-over-year decrease since November 2009.
“There is very little, if any, good news about housing. Prices continue to weaken, trends in sales and construction are disappointing,” says David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index.
What's more, Robert Shiller himself said yesterday he is “pessimistic”, and believes that home prices could go down “much more” than the predicted “five or ten percent decline”...
If true, that would practically ensure a housing double dip.3 Lies About Retirement… Most People Believe!
What if everything you thought was right for your retirement, was actually WRONG?
One wealth researcher claims that by blindly following retirement's "best practices" you could actually be missing out on amazing opportunities to make your golden years much better! Watch it here ->

Are You Pushing Customers Away?

"In business, you get what you want by giving other people what they want."
Alice Macdougall

By Paul Lemberg
Since the start of the recent recession, many businesses have tightened their credit policies so that only the best-rated customers get payment terms. Everyone else has to pay cash.
Sure, it makes sense to hold down unnecessary costs and avoid risk. But have they bothered to figure out whether net profits are up or down as a result?
I'm willing to bet that, at the end of the day, tight credit policies are costing tons of money in missed sales.
Losing Repeat Business... Forever
And that's just one example of how businesses like yours are pushing away customers. Mostly, it's done in an attempt to limit expenses. But it is almost always shortsighted.
Once you push away those customers, they are pushed away forever. They never come back to make ever-more-valuable repeat purchases.
So let's take a look at some of the other ways you might be making it hard for customers to buy from you.
1. Limiting Payment Options
I like to eat at a local place that serves a fabulous Mediterranean frittata with a wild greens salad. But they only take cash. It makes me think twice about bringing people there. And I never go with a big group. Who wants to peel off $300 in cash for breakfast? Yes, they save the transaction fee that credit card companies would charge them - anywhere from 1.9% to 3.5%. But what about all the lost business?
Almost as bad are places that accept only one or two types of credit cards. But the list of widely used credit cards is not long. So why on earth would you not accept ALL of them?
Maybe American Express charges you 1% more than Visa or MasterCard. But suppose a customer doesn't have Visa or MasterCard...or suppose they buy everything on Amex to get the frequent flyer points. It doesn't make sense to lose that customer's business in order to save 1%.
Even worse are the small online businesses that accept only PayPal. That is just nuts. I estimate it cuts into their sales by 30%-50%.
Wake up! You've worked hard to attract those customers. So make it easy for them to give you their money!

2. Unreasonable Shipping and Handling Fees
I'm not sure who online vendors think they're fooling when they add $28 to ship something that can't possibly cost them more than $4.95 to deliver. When I see that tactic, I ditch the website.
Automated shopping carts make it easy for you to give customers a choice of shipping methods tailored to their needs and their budget. Better yet, do what Zappos does and ship for free. More and more e-tailers are doing it, and those who don't will get left behind.
One of the reasons often cited for Zappos' incredible success (and $800 million sale to Amazon) is their free shipping, even on returns. And get this: Choose the free shipping option and theystill send it overnight. Now that's service.
3. Making It Hard for Customers to Find What They Want
If your customers can't find what they want quickly, they'll go elsewhere.
So if you have an online store, give customers a search box on every page of your website. Plus, since your "shelf space" is infinite, make sure every possible product pops up for every appropriate search term.
If you have a brick-and-mortar store, organize it with your customers in mind. Use big readable signs, along with on-shelf labeling. Scatter specials around the store, positioning them directly in the flow of traffic. (Supermarkets are great sources of inspiration for this. Study what they do. And copy it.) And train your staff to ask shoppers, "How can I help you?" instead of "Can I help you?"
4. A Complicated or Confusing Checkout Process
My local Ralphs grocery store is great at merchandising. But now they're pushing automated checkout, and it doesn't work very well. The electronic scanners are clumsy and inefficient, and when they bark "Place the item in the bag," it sounds rude. Plus, it's impossible to pay for self-serve items from the "olive bar."
But I was in the new Fresh & Easy market the other day, and they've rethought the whole process. Everything that doesn't work at Ralphs works beautifully here. So I know it's possible to get it right.
Online, my problems are different. Sometimes, it's hard to find the "Checkout" or the "View My Cart" button. Sometimes, my order information is lost when I accidently hit the back button. And sometimes the shopping cart can't handle dashes in my phone number. What's wrong with dashes? And why can't the system save things in my cart for a day? Or even two? When I get interrupted, I have to start over again. How frustrating. How inconvenient. (Amazon saves things in your cart... forever.)
Did you know that 70% of all orders started online are never completed? Put some thought into improving your checkout process, and the payoff could be huge.
5. Faxing in the Age of the Internet
This one is hard to believe, but more common than you might think.
I wanted to purchase a vitamin supplement from a company in New York. But turns out the only way to do it was to print out their order form, fill it out by hand, and fax it to the company. Fax... can you imagine! How much more business could this company do if they operated as if they were in the 21st century?
A Few Other Mistakes You Might Be Making
The last thing you want to do is irritate your customers in any way. So, consider these questions...
  • Are your business hours long enough? Early enough? Late enough? 
  • Do you have enough staff for the volume of shoppers? 
  • Is your customer service line responsive? 
  • Are your on-hold times out of whack? 
  • What about your toll-free phone numbers? Easy to find? Prominently posted? 
  • Is your phone tree a button-pushing nightmare? ("Please listen carefully because our menu has changed.") Don't waste my time. Just tell me what I need to know. And ALWAYS give me the option of talking to real person instead of a machine.
Take a hard look at the steps your customers have to go through to make a purchase. Where do they get hung up? Where is the process harder than it needs to be? Find those sources of irritation and reduce or remove them.
And don't stop there. Make it your mission to continue to make the buying process easier and easier for your customers. They will reward you with their loyalty... and their money.

Profit Like It's 1933!

"Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open."
Alexander Graham Bell

On May 27, 1933 - in the heart of the Great Depression - a crowd of more than 30,000 people stood in line to get into the "Century of Progress" World's Fair, held in Chicago, IL.
Over the next 24 months, 39,052,236 people would attend the fair. To put that in perspective, the entire US population at the time was 125,578,763. So 32% of them found a way to get there.
The cost of admission alone brought in $19,526,118... in 1933 dollars. That would be the equivalent of $325,247,383 today.
And when you consider the money spent on food, parking, gas, knickknacks, and lodgings, it is estimated that the "Century of Progress" brought in well over a billion dollars.
And remember... this was during the Great Depression, with unemployment at a whopping 24%.
Two of the people making serious money from the "Century of Progress" were Rufus Dawes and Charles Dawes. The brothers were Chicago bankers who benefited wildly from the fair being held in their city. Rufus was the president of the fair corporation. Charles was head of the bank that handled most of the funding. (He had also been Vice President of the US from 1925 to 1929.)
Many other individuals and companies rose to the top during those troubled times.
For example, in 1929, Kellogg's was a relatively small company. Their market share trailed far behind that of their main competitor, Postum Cereals (later known as General Mills).
However, by the end of 1939 Kellogg's had decidedly taken the lead - a position it holds to this day. While thousands of other companies were failing, Kellogg's couldn't produce its cereals fast enough. Its revenues shot into the hundreds-of-millions, and its profit margins were in the double-digit percentages.
Then there was Charles Darrow. After the Crash of 1929, Charles lost his job and much of his money. Not having anything else to do, he decided to refine a little-known parlor game. By 1937, his version of the game - Monopoly - had sold more than 6 million units at an average price of $10. That would be about $150 in today's dollars. Incredible.
I'm confident Mr. Darrow never worried about money again.
And what about Michael J. Cullen? Michael started his career working as a warehouse boy with The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company. But in 1930, he came up with the idea of a "supermarket." He began buying or renting deserted warehouses and manufacturing plants and stocking them with huge quantities of cheap food, clothing, and household supplies.
Within a few years, he was a multi-millionaire many, many times over.
Here's the point...
If you know where to look... and you know what to look for... there's a lot of money to be made during a financial crisis.
And right now, we are in a serious financial crisis... and it's only going to get worse.
The question is this...
Are you going to be like the 24% of the population that lost it all during the Great Depression... or are you going to profit from the enormous opportunities that are sure to arise?
I want to give you one simple, very specific, thing you can do right now to ensure that you'll not only survive this crisis but thrive. As you'll see, it will help you whether you're an investor, business owner, or just an everyday Joe...
I'm talking about cultivating the key relationships in your life.
Now is the time to consider who you know, what they do, and how you could benefit each other financially, socially, and personally.
Let me give you an example of the profit-power of securing the relationships you already have...
Joshua Boswell is friend of mine who happens to be a top-notch copywriter and marketing consultant. He's written copy for ETR, has spoken at several of our conferences, and has worked with us on product development.
But when the market crashed back in 2008, he wondered how he was going to survive.
He had been making a strong six-figure income as a copywriter. But several of his clients started to cut their marketing budgets... which meant Joshua was getting less and less work.

But he noticed that one of them - a man named RC Peck - didn't seem to be fazed by the crash. In fact, RC appeared to be doing better than ever.
When Joshua asked RC about it, it led to a conversation that totally changed his life.
Within 5 months, not only had Joshua totally recovered from the crash... he was making over 3 times the six-figures he had been making before.
Imagine that. In the midst of the biggest economic crash since the Depression, Joshua's income shot up by over 300% in under 5 months.
You see, RC - one of Joshua's key connections - moved in different circles. And he knew something Joshua didn't know.
That's what made it possible for Joshua to make his income to explode.
After Joshua shared that story with me, I was curious to know what, exactly, RC did - and what it had to do with Joshua's income explosion.
What I found out is that, for the past 15 years, RC's been the secret financial weapon for the major investors, corporate executives, and business owners in Silicon Valley. These mega-millionaires trust him with their money, and it's no wonder...
His "Silicon Valley Investment Formula" has netted a stunning 693% return over the past 10 years... Plus, he's predicted and profited from every market crash in the past 15 years.
His track record shows that he and his clients who use the Formula have never lost money in the market or with their more unusual, "hidden" investments.
During all this time, he's shared his Formula only with his personal clients. (No surprise that they pay him a small fortune.)
Here's the thing...
If Joshua had not reached out to RC and cultivated this key relationship, he may never have recovered his financial footing after the crash of 2008... let alone tripled his income.
And it is very likely that there are people in your life, too, who run in different circles. People who can open doors for you that otherwise would be shut tight (or invisible).
With gold moving toward $2,000/oz... the housing market still wondering where the bottom is... inflation hunting for new highs... the US dollar acting like a frightened mole that just keeps digging deeper... and politicians gutting our economy with government printing presses and spending sprees... there is little doubt that a major financial crisis is already upon us.
You need to act soon. Start with the key relationships in your life and the rest will follow.

Single Favourite Stocks

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Today's Video

100,000 Frequent Flyer Miles Without Flying

"Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind."
Chris Guillebeau is on a quest to visit every country in the world. He's traveled to 141 countries so far, and he's flown to several of them on someone else's dime.
Last year, I read an article he wrote on credit card churning and I was intrigued. American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI) staff writer Bonnie Caton and one of her friends gave it a try and they enjoyed two free first-class tickets to Costa Rica, drinking complimentary Champagne and living it up in the Admiral's Lounge. All they paid was a measly $60 in taxes.
Churning is when you apply for a new credit card that offers a mileage bonus. Then, once you get the miles, you cancel the card. Wait a little (usually 60-65 days). Then, re-apply for the card to get those miles again.
The miles add up quickly. Bonnie's friend accumulated over 120,000 points in just six months - enough for the two free first-class tickets to Costa Rica and a free economy-class flight to Alaska.
Credit card churning is legal, but it's not for everyone. It does have a downside...
If you try this strategy, here are some things to watch out for:
  • Not all credit card companies allow churning. You'll have to experiment. That said, we found a card in our research that offers 100,000 points upfront without churning - enough for two transatlantic flights. (More on this card below.)
  • You'll need to meet the minimum purchase requirement to "get" the mileage reward. But never run a balance. Pay it off ASAP. Racking up debt for free tickets isn't what this is about. It's about working the credit card system, legally, for your benefit.
  • Your credit score will drop a little - 4%, eight points, maybe more. It varies. So if you're applying for a mortgage or car loan, wait to use this strategy. A lower credit score can result in paying higher interest rates on mortgages, car loans, and more.
Here are a few guidelines to help you choose the right cards for you:
1. Which airlines or alliance do you want to fly with? Knowing this will help you choose cards that fit into your travel plans.
2. What taxes or fuel surcharges will you have to pay once you cash in your points for a flight? Air Canada added fuel and baggage surcharges to their fees instead of raising the price of their flights - and since you can use the points only for the cost of the flight, it can get costly.
3. Do your airline points expire and when? For one of the credit cards Southwest offered, they claimed your points don't expire. But in the fine print, this meant so long as you keep flying with them.
4. Will the card accelerate you toward "elite" status? Southwest Airlines' Rapid Rewards Premier Card (VISA) earns you 30,000 bonus points after you make your first purchase - enough for a free flight to any of the 70+ destinations Southwest serves. But you can also earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points toward A-List and A-List Preferred Status for every $10,000 you spend on the card. (See The annual membership appears to be $99, though, which leads us to this...
5. Is there an annual fee? Some cards will defer the annual fee for the first year, which means you can cancel the card before that fee hits. If the card you're applying for has an annual fee, you want to make sure the perks you'll enjoy far outweigh what you're paying in annual fees.
6. Are you ready to travel soon? You'll need to redeem the rewards as soon as possible, and then cancel the card (unless it has no annual fee and you want to keep it).
There are lots of options available. But the more points you can earn up front, the easier it is. So, instead of signing up for two cards at 25,000 miles each, you can sign up for one that earns you 50,000 points.
And now, here's the card I told you about earlier... the one that earns you 100,000 miles up front...
The British Airways Visa Signature Card.
You get the first 50,000 miles when you make your first purchase. And you get the second 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 on the card within the first three months.
You'll also earn:
  • 2.5 BA Miles for every $1 you spend on British Airways purchases. 
  • 1.25 BA Miles for every $1 you spend on everyday purchases.
You must be a member of the British Airways Executive Club programme. And you can redeem BA Miles only for travel with British Airways.
This offer expires May 6. So if you're interested, you'll get full details here.

Click Here:-)

When To Sell Stocks

By Sham Gad
The vast majority of investment advice is geared towards buying. This should come as no surprise to investors since it's the buying of securities that begins the entire investment process. It's also the buying that generates commissions and fees for brokers. Of course what is bought must be sold, and each trade exacts commissions and fees.
The Importance of Selling
Buying at the right price is vital. The ultimate return one will gain on any investment is first determined by the buy price. In a way, one can argue that a profit or loss is made upon buying; you just don't know it until you sell. And, while this theory is deeply rooted in sound fundamental principles of investing, selling is also a vital link.

Indeed, while buying at the right price may ultimately determine the profit gained, selling at the right price guarantees the actual profit, if any. Thus, if you can't sell at the appropriate time, the benefits of proper buying disappear.

The Casino TradeThe reason why many have trouble selling is rooted in an innate human tendency to be greedy. For example, an investor purchases shares of stock at $25 a share, and tells herself that if the stock hits $30, she will sell. What happens next is all too common. The stock hits $30 and the investor decides to hold out for a couple of more points. Surely, the stock reaches $32 and greed continues overcome rationality. She holds out for more. Suddenly the stock price takes a turn downward and is back at $29. The investor then tells herself that once the stock hits $30 again, she will sell it all. Unfortunately, this never happens and the stock price continues to drift lower. Succumbing to her emotions and frustrations, the investors sells at $23, below her initial buy price. (Learn how to turn negative experiences into positive ones in Taking The Sting Out Of Investment Loss)

As greed and emotion overcame rational judgment, sound investment principles were replaced by casino-like tendencies. The initial result was a loss. And while the investment loss was $2 a share, the true loss was $7 because the investor had the opportunity to sell at $30, but refused.

So knowing when to sell is of paramount importance. From the example above, proper selling reduces the likelihood suffering two ultimate consequences. In the first instance, proper selling helps ensure the preservation of gains. In the second instance, proper selling reduces the likelihood of incurring major losses.

Watch: What Are Stocks?
Never Attempt to Time MarketsBefore getting into reasons to sell stocks, investors should realize that timely selling does not require precise market timing. Very few, if any investors, will ever buy at the absolute bottom and sell at the absolute top. Consider it a healthy dose of luck if you do happen to do both. The most successful investors - Warren BuffettPeter Lynchand others - did not succeed by buying at precise bottoms and selling at exact tops. Instead, they focused on buying at one price, and selling at a higher price.

Reasons to SellProvided that a share of stock is bought at a reasonable price, there are only a few reasons to sell it.

  1. An Analytical Mistake Was MadeIf upon buying shares, you later conclude that errors were committed in the analysis - errors which fundamentally affect the business as a suitable investment - then you should sell even if it means a loss will be incurred. The key to successful investing is to rely on your data and analysis instead of Mr. Market's emotional mood swings. If that analysis was flawed for one reason or another, move on. Sure the stock price can go up even after you sell, causing you to second guess yourself, but the key to successful investing is to learn from mistakes. Everyone will make mistakes. Learning from a mistake that costs you a 10% loss on your investment could ultimately be one of the best investments you make - if you learn from it and go on to make better investment choices.

    Of course, not all analytical mistakes are equal. For example, if a business fails to meet short term earnings forecasts and the stock price goes down, that's not necessarily reason to sell if the soundness of the business stills remains intact. On the other hand, if you see the company losing market share to competitors that could be a sign of long-term weakness and likely a reason to sell.
  2. Rapid Price AppreciationIt's very possible that upon buying shares, the stock price, for one reason or another, rises dramatically in a short period of time. The best investors are the most humble investors. Don't take such a quick rise as affirmation that you are smarter than the overall market. Indeed, one's chances of making money in the stock market over the long run increases significantly if you buy cheaply. But a cheap stock can become an expensive stock in a very short period of time for a host of reasons, some of which are likely due to speculation by others. Take your gains and move on. Even better, should the shares decline later, you may be presented with the opportunity to buy again. If the shares continue to increase, take comfort in the old saying, "no one goes broke booking a profit."
  3. Valuation is No Longer Justified by the PriceThis is the most difficult reason to sell because valuation is part art and part science. The value of any share of stock ultimately rests on the present value of the company's future cash flows. Valuation will always carry a degree of imprecision because anything in the future is uncertain. Hence this is why value investors rely heavily on the concept of the margin of safety concept in investing. (Learn more about margin of safety in Take On Risk With A Margin of Safety)

    A good rule of thumb, although by no means mandatory, is to consider selling if the company's valuation becomes significantly higher than its peers. Of course, this is a rule with many exceptions. For example, just because the Procter and Gamble Company trades for 15 times earnings while Kimberly Clark trades for 13 is no reason to sell PG, especially when you consider dominance with which PG products command.

Another more reasonable selling tool is to sell when a company's P/E ratio significantly exceeds its average P/E ratio over the past five or 10 years. For instance at the height of the Internet boom, Wal-Mart shares had a P/E of 60 times earnings. Despite Wal-Mart's quality, any owner of shares should have sold and potential buyers should have looked elsewhere.

The Bottom LineIn summary, any sale that results in a gain is a good sale. When a sale results in a loss, and is accompanied by an understanding of why that loss occurred, it too may be considered a good sell. Selling is bad when it is dictated by emotion instead of data and analysis. Remember not to judge your selling by whether or not you are selling at the top. Instead focus on selling for reasons dictated by rational reasons of valuations and price.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Underappreciated Municipal Bond

Social Security won't be there for many of us -- so here's how to build a "replacement retirement" with safe municipal bonds.
Last week, readers nearly sunk me with their heated responses to my call for the end of Social Security. (Thank you for your replies.) Today, we'll focus on buying tax-exempt bonds to replace that coveted Social Security check once the program implodes.
Meredith Whitney, the analyst who correctly predicted the fall of Citibank and the other megabanks, more recently pounded the table about a coming wave of municipal bond defaults.
Nouriel Roubini discussed the same not long after, and while his numbers were substantially less painful than Whitney's, they were still triple the historical default trends.
Even if Roubini is correct, municipal bonds are still remarkably safe. Using his numbers, the default rate could climb to 3.7%. (That's not 37%, but three point seven.) This number also includes ALL bonds... even bonds that should never have been sold, for things that nobody wanted.
Adding to municipal bond woes, on Friday [April 7] we were greeted with this front-page news in The Bond Buyer:
"Fitch Ratings Friday downgraded $4.6 billion of Detroit water and sewer revenue bonds, citing weak financial performance and future challenges, including looming capital needs and risks associated with derivatives."
So why do I think it's time to consider municipal bonds?
Forget the fact that I've been working with every size municipal borrower across the United States. The reason I like bonds now is because they are currently out of favor, and the prices have dropped. They are also talking about eliminating tax-exempt bonds all together -- making any tax-exempt bonds I currently hold worth that much more.

Municipal Bonds Create Your Own Safety Net

It is unlikely Social Security will be there for anyone under the age of 40 -- or at least not in its present form. If you agree, then along with playing around in the stock market, you had better start considering creating your own safety net. I would suggest that municipal bonds offer a perfect replacement for our government's Ponzi scheme.
However, like any investment, you better understand what you're buying. Which is the point of today's piece.
As much as I'd like to impress you with advanced knowledge, my side of the investment banking business doesn't require an advanced degree. If you can read and do a little math, you'll understand bonds just fine. In a few short paragraphs, I'll provide you with a few keys that will help you more confidently invest in municipal bonds and increase your returns over what a broker would try to sell you.