All posts by todeidei

22May/17
North Korea missile May 20 2017

North Korea Continues Missile Launches

As tensions continue building over North Korea’s build up in nuclear arms project, another missile launch as confirmed on May 20 by representatives from South Korea. The statement issued by the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff read as followed:

“North Korea launched an unidentifiable projectile to the East Sea from Bukchang area in South Pyongyang Province at 16:49 today.” (The East Sea is also referred to as the Sea of Japan.) The South Korean statement later added, “The projectile flew 500 km [310 miles] and ROK and U.S. are now analyzing its details [sic]. ROK military is closely monitoring North Korean provocative trends and maintaining highest military readiness.”

After the South Korean statement, Commander David Benham, a U.S. Pacific Command spokesman, issued the following statement on behalf of the White House: “U.S. Pacific Command detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 09:59 p.m. Hawaii time May 20. The launch of a medium range ballistic missile occurred near Pukchang. The missile was tracked until it landed in the Sea of Japan. We are working with our Interagency partners on a more detailed assessment. We continue to monitor North Korea’s actions closely. U.S. Pacific Command stands behind our ironclad commitment to the security of our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) assessed that the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America.”

While North Korean leader Kim Jong-un continues to taunt the US and neighboring South Korea, the international community continues to levy sanctions on Jong-un and his people. While the sanctions are creating issues, nothing seems to be deterring North Korea from further missile launches. To date, this is the 7th recorded missile launch in 2017. As long as Jong-un acts with defiance, there seems to be little chance of mediation.

16May/17
laptop ban us homeland security

US Homeland Security Looking at Wider Laptop Ban

With terrorists threats increasing throughout the air travel industry, The United States Department of Homeland Security is looking at a total ban on in-cabin computers (tablets, laptops) on designated flights. The proposed flights affected originate from 10 countries from within Europe and Africa. The ban would require all computing devices to be checked through as luggage.

If this policy is put in place, frequent travelers are going to face a major change in the way they travel. Not only will they have to endure long flights without any form of distraction, sans the airline’s movie list, but they run the risk of having their devices damaged or stolen by baggage handlers. Flight insurance would most likely cover the cost of such an incident, but who wants to get off a flight and have to head to the nearest mall for a new computer? Never mind that important data could be lost.

While the ban would only affect airlines originating in those 10 countries into the US, the likelihood the ban would eventually be expanded to include other countries would increase. There’s even a possibility Homeland Security could impose the ban on domestic flights should even one threat be exposed.

When contacted for a comment, several major US airlines (United Airlines (UAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL) nor American Airlines (AAL)) could not be reached. In anticipation of this type of ban throughout the world, several proactive airlines are allowing travelers to gate-check their devices, lowering the risk of theft and damage. There’s even a possibility the items could be stored in the cabin under lock n’ key with the airline staff. Among these airlines, which include Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines, efforts are being made to offer loaner laptops, which would be controlled as the airlines property.

Stay tuned for more information on this proposed ban.

08May/17
macron victory france presidential election

Macron Claims Victory in France’s Presidential Election

With France facing significant issues related to unemployment and immigration from Muslim countries, the country’s citizens went to the polls in round two of the presidential election. As the dust cleared, Emmanuel Macron was the decided victor. The announcement came after the polls closed on a bitter fight between Macron and the far right candidate Marine Le Pen.

After Donald Trump’s victory in the US and Brexit’s victory in the United Kingdom, there were great concerns among populist leaning political figures that the tide had turned and a nationalist movement was sweeping the world. As a self-described centrist, Macron was able to strike a major victory among politicians who still favor liberal causes like open immigration policies.

Macron is a successful 39-year old businessman who decided to start his own centrist party and a run towards the presidency only a year ago. His victory serves as another clear message that tradition political concerns across the globe are under great pressure from people who want to see significant changes in the way their countries are being run.

While he never made a formal declaration of support, US President Trump was known to have been supportive of Le Pen’s tough stand against the continued immigration policies that have been creating significant problems between France’s borders. In an official statement out of the White House on behalf of the President, “We congratulate President-elect Macron and the people of France on their successful presidential election. We look forward to working with the new President and continuing our close cooperation with the French government.”

For now, liberal factions can breath a sigh of relief. In support of Macron, former US President Barack Obama just last week issued a video in support of the new French leader. In the video, he made clear the importance of the election by saying “Because the success of France matters to the entire world.”

01May/17
millenials debt

Millennials and Debt

The United States is very much a debtor nation. From the country’s governmental debt to personal debt, the numbers are sitting at staggering levels. According to a report released by the organization UBS, the nation’s consumer debt currently sits at around $3.6 trillion, that’s trillion. Even more alarming is the fact it continues to rise month after month, year after year.

At that level, the US debt sits at 20% of GNP, which is reaching levels that are unsustainable. A closer look at the number indicates that millennials (21 years old to 34 years old) are responsible for $1.1 trillion of the total consumer debt amount. The causes of millennial debt reaching such limits are two-fold, college debt and an inability to or unwillingness to live within their means.

The college debt issue is not new, yet is still threatens to undermine the stability of the US economy if not addressed in the immediate future. According to New York Fed President William Dudley, “continued increase in college costs and debt burdens could inhibit higher education’s ability to serve as an important engine of upward income mobility.”

As for consumer debt, recent improvement in the situation is becoming more apparent. As millennials find themselves facing unmanageable debt issues, they are beginning to address the root causes of their problems. While they tend to still want to overspend on big ticket items, they are learning the benefits related to frugality and waiting for the lowest and best prices.

One trend that warrants monitoring relates to auto leasing. According to the UBS report 32% of millennial are foregoing car purchases in favor of leasing. While it certainly offers a lower priced option for transportation, they are having to walk away from leases without a meaningful asset to show for their efforts. With student debt so high, something has to give.

24Apr/17
US rig count pressure oil prices

U.S. Rig Count Puts Pressure on Oil Prices

By mid 2015, oil prices had climbed as high as approximately $105 a barrel. In just a matter of months, the price took a nosedive, hitting as low as the mid $20 range by mid-2016. Due in large part to that drastic drop, oil companies in the U.S. reacted by shutting down oil and natural gas rigs in record numbers. By June of 2016, the number of operational oil rigs had gone from a record of 1,600 (late April 2015) to just above 350.

The volatility of oil and natural gas prices is well documented. For a number of reasons, the world had a front row seat to watch the wildest pricing ride in history. In the process of the drop, oil and gas companies had enormous write-offs as they recorded record losses that amounted to hundreds of billions worldwide. Fortunately, prices found stable ground by the end of 2016.

Today, oil prices seemed to have stabilized at around $50.00 a barrel. With oil prices poised to inch higher, U.S. oil and natural gas concerns are in the mood to reopen oil and natural gas rigs. Over the past 14 weeks, the number of oil rigs has increased by more than 200 to a current level of 688. Likewise, gas rigs have increased to 167.

With the addition of so much more oil activity in the U.S., the price of oil seems to be destabilizing. As of April 22, 2017, the price sat at $49.32 per barrel with continuing downward pressure throughout the world.

From this point forward, it becomes a real balancing act as U.S. firms attempt to create more supply without adversely affecting the market. With the threat of war on so many fronts, the global economic system is already jittery. It won’t take much to topple all the recent gains in oil prices, which is something the wold can ill-afford at this point in time.a

06Apr/17
Card skimming rise

Card Skimming is on the Rise

If any of the recent data is truly indicative of the degree of the problem, it would seem thieves are gaining an edge on the security used to detect skimmers. Skimmers are small devices inserted into the slot of an ATM machine. They are used to record data off a credit card or debit card’s magnetic strip. By also using a tiny, strategically placed camera to record a customer’s pin number as they enter it, thieves can duplicate the card and start using it for purchases and ATM withdrawals.

Some recent data released by FICO Card Alert Services indicates there was a 70% increase in the number of cards compromised by skimmers in 2016. Furthermore, there was a 30% increase in the number of cards that were hacked. These increases are attributed to technological advancements that are making it more difficult to detect skimming devices.

Even more alarming was this comment by T.J. Horan, FICO’s vice president of fraud solutions: “As the last few years have proven, skimming technology and know-how have improved and are more accessible to the general population. So we will continue to see increases in compromises and the speed at which they occur.”

As consumers, there are a few steps we can take to prevent a collective loss of billions of dollars to criminals.

1. Don’t use remote ATMs and point-of-sale terminals in poorly lit, low traffic areas. It’s better to stick with machines at major banks or with major department stores.

2. Try to shake the slot area of a ATM machine before using it. If it wiggles or is lose, tampering may be possible.

3. Use your other hand to protect your pin number from cameras as you enter it.

4. Only use credit and debit cards made with chip technology.

5. Check your card or bank statement frequently. The sooner you catch issues, the sooner you can stop cards and minimize your exposure.

29Mar/17
Apple Disney rumblings

Apple / Disney Rumblings

Apple has created a war chest that is second to none. With over $200 billion in cash invested all over the planet, Wall Street has often made comments about what the company is going to eventually do with all this money.

In recent months, Wall Street rumblings have sent Disney’s stock up over 7.75%. Some of this increase could be due to rumors that Apple could be on the verge of buying the Entertainment giant for a large chunk of the company’s cash reserves. This isn’t a rumor that has been mentioned once or twice. In fact, this is a rumor that keeps popping up and peaking the interest of investors.

On the surface, one would have to wonder what these two mega giants have in common. The answer is content. They are both huge brand names that have derived a great deal of its success from the company’s content. While Apple sells the latest in technology, Disney uses this technology to provide the latest and greatest in entertainment.

When asked what he thinks of these rumors from Disney’s perspective, RBC analyst Steven Cahall had this to say: “Bulls think it portends well for a swan song exit via a sale to a giant like AAPL.”

The one part of a possible deal that doesn’t seem to fit is Disney’s ownership in the all-sports ESPN network. While both Apple and Disney are huge players in the international arena, ESPN is very much a U.S. domestic interest. To make this deal more fascinating, there are analysts who believe it would be in both company’s best interest to sell off the Broadcast Network as part of a mega-deal.

For now, all of this would seem to be nothing more than rumor and conjecture. With that being said, all eyes figure to be on both companies over the next few months.

20Mar/17
EU Business School United Nation change the world model conference

Eager Students Compete at UN’s Change the World Model Conference

Developing the knack for being able to negotiate with individuals from other parts of the world is something that’s become vital as the scope of the business world takes on a greater international perspective. While it is only one facet of that skill set, it is something that students from all areas of the planet have the opportunity to do when they attend the Change the World Model United Nations conference held in New York City.

With over 2,000 students taking part, a wide array of important categories were researched beforehand and then discussed at the United Nations. During the research portion, each country that’s part of the UN, as well as the different committees that make up the organization, were part of educational plans in the students’ respective countries.

Since the students were representing a specific country, they had to adopt the political philosophy of their nation. That encompassed looking at previous resolutions that had been passed, while also checking how others countries voted.

The basis of all this work was not only to enhance the students’ researching abilities, but also to push them into working together with those representing similar interests. More importantly, the work was meant to force the students to work with countries that might be diametrically opposed to their interests, thereby developing the mediation and resolution skills of all involved.

The intensive nature of the overall project was balanced by the fringe benefits of traveling to interesting areas of this vibrant town. Students were able to check out the melting pot of different communities within New York City, while also checking out iconic spots like the Statue of Liberty.

The schools from which the students came represented some of the finest institutions of higher learning in the world. Names like Harvard University, the University of Copenhagen and Politecnico di Milan came together with the EU Business School and others.

Despite what would ordinarily be considered stiff competition, EU Business School delegates were able to hold their own throughout the course of the competition. In two instances, students from different schools representing EU Business School were recognized for their efforts.

From the Switzerland branch, a student that was representing Uruguay within the Security Council, Marvin José Posas Bautista, was presented with an award for Best Delegation. In addition, Christian Plattes from the Barcelona branch was given Best Delegate accolades for representing Bulgaria within the Historical Security Council.