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Cheat Sheet Q & A:
How prevalent is ID theft really?:
Bottom Line: Today’s question comes from a listener who wants to know what the real story is behind ID theft. How much is hype design to sensationalize or sell you a service? How much of the noise is reality?
I’m happy to receive this question and address these numbers. ID theft protection companies have pushed numbers around enough that it’s muddied the conversation nearly to the extent of trying to figure out which auto insurance company will save you the most money if you switch.
The most recent firm data we have is from 2011. In 2011:
So the first answer is that ID theft is a significant crime that is in fact quickly growing. Here’s another break out for you to consider:
So in summation:
If you have a question or topic you’d like me to address email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming in March – self serve healthcare:
Bottom Line: Some time ago we talked about the future of healthcare including self-serve kiosk options for checkups and simple diagnosis of common ailments. This could potentially make routine check-ups more convenient and affordable, while at the same time providing information that could help identify potential issues that would require more extensive medical care, earlier. Well that time is almost here…
Solohealth’s self-serve health care kiosks will be making there way into 2500 Wal-Mart and Sam’s club stores in March. These health stations are supposed to go further than any previous medical kiosks have previously. Among the function these new self-serve stations will be able to:
In an era with high and rising health care costs, concepts like these kiosks could go a long way towards earlier diagnosis and better health care outcomes for many who otherwise wouldn’t seek medical attention.
While the market isn’t at an all time high – most mutual funds are:
Bottom Line: The Dow is still several hundred points from an all-time high. The NASDAQ is about two thousand points from an all-time high but about 67% of all stock based mutual funds are currently at all-time highs. That’s potentially good news for you if you’ve been invested in 401k’s or other retirement accounts. There is also a little nugget of gold in this story.
What’s the main reason that most stock based mutual funds are at all-time highs when the market isn’t? Are the fund managers exceptional? Some fund managers may be outstanding but the secret is in the dividends.
I will frequently point out that two-thirds of all stock market returns are the result of reinvested dividends. That’s the secret to this story.
While the Dow is still 2% or so off of its 2007 highs, if you owned the Dow companies over the same period and reinvested the dividends you’d actually be sitting on a 14.8% increase in value. Mutual funds do reinvest their dividends. The Dow, like other stock market indices, doesn’t reflect the value of dividends that are paid out.
I’m considering options to provide my market and individual company research for you receive on a monthly basis. Stay tuned (or better still let me know if you’re interested). Knowing the level of demand could help me prioritize.
Credible rumor – Google to turn to traditional retail:
It’s an odd phenomenon. Most big box specialty retailers are struggling or are out of business. Meanwhile companies that have built their businesses without traditional retail are the ones that are starting their own physical retail locations (Apple, Microsoft & soon… Google). Google is looking to open 15 -20 retail stores in major cities to highlight their product line. Included in these stores would be:
This isn’t a new concept. It would just be Google’s version of what Apple and Microsoft have been up to but that would certainly work. Apple is the most successful retailer per square foot in the world.
EBay vs. Amazon online taxes:
Bottom Line: So Amazon reversed course last year and dropped its opposition to online sales tax across state lines. This is significant because of a new development that occurred yesterday.
A bi-partisan bill was proposed in the Senate yesterday. Yes – bi-partisan. And for that reason there is a very real chance it could pass this year. The proposed bill calls for the following:
So Amazon will go along with this… so EBay has decided to take up the other side and fight it. EBay joined the Heritage Foundation in opposition to this universal sales tax.
Oddly this proposal would take the very companies that are at a current disadvantage (small local businesses) and immediately turn them into potentially taxed advantaged category if they were to stay under a million in sales per year.
This story will gain attention as the bill is perpetuated. Stay tuned.
Girl Scouts gone mobile:
Bottom Line: If you find yourself in the situation of asking when the Girl Scouts will be coming back around with the cookies…
The Girl Scouts have released an app for Android and iOS devices that will point you to the nearest location where you can obtain Girl Scout cookies. This could be a dangerous development if you typically try to pace your Thin Mint consumption.