Archive for March, 2014

The surprising way Bitcoin could break into the mainstream. Hint: It’s not what you think.

From Bloomberg:

Bitcoin isn’t just for buying and selling cupcakes and cameras anymore.

A crop of entrepreneurs, backed by investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and BitAngels, are betting that the technology behind the virtual currency can be used for a range of financial tasks now handled by banks, exchanges, e-commerce providers and other middlemen.

Invictus Innovations Inc., Ripple Labs Inc. and other startups are harnessing Bitcoin’s underlying code for such tasks as authentication, which means making sure that a buyer isn’t posing as someone else, and verification of payments to ensure that a transaction is valid. If successful, the new tools could reduce the fees shouldered by buyers and sellers in the $1.22 trillion global electronic-commerce market, as well in financial services, cloud computing and other areas.

“People are just starting to realize that Bitcoin isn’t a currency and a payment system, it’s the Internet of Money,” David Johnston, co-founder of BitAngels, a group of investors in Bitcoin-related startups, said in an interview. “It’s a really exciting time.”

BitAngels is currently considering more than 30 projects in the Internet-of-Money category, Johnston said.

There’s growing recognition, even among financial firms, that Bitcoin’s underlying design can be used for any transaction requiring some degree of verification. In a report this month, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said while Bitcoins probably won’t be viable as a currency, the basic technology “could hold promise.” Bitcoin’s future as the Internet of Money was one of the hottest topics at the CoinSummit conference in San Francisco this week.

Digital Money

Bitcoin captured the attention of investors and innovators last year, fueling a rally that drove the value of the digital money to about $1,200 from $12. More recently, scrutiny from governments, bans in China and India, and the collapse of online exchange Mt. Gox have cast doubt on the viability of Bitcoin as credible replacement for fiat currencies.

The price of Bitcoin plunged almost 10 percent yesterday after China’s central bank ordered banks and payment companies to close the trading accounts of more than 10 Bitcoin exchanges. Bitcoin was valued at about $500 yesterday, according to the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index.

The software behind Bitcoin relies on a public record of every transaction that’s ever made. When someone spends all or part of a Bitcoin, the change in ownership is recorded by a global network of computers and posted to a public register, ensuring that the same unit of money can’t be used twice. The owners of computers solving and verifying these transactions are rewarded with new Bitcoins for their work.

Building Blocks

Bitcoin’s building blocks, designed to validate each transaction, are adaptable for any type of exchange, regardless of whether they are attached to a currency or not. Called a blockchain, the currency’s underlying design opens up possibilities for the technology to be used in other industries, according to Marc Andreessen, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz who is looking to fund startups focused on this new category.

“The blockchain is the core innovation,” Andreessen said at CoinSummit. “We want a whole sequence of companies: digital title, digital media assets, digital stocks, and bonds, digital crowdfunding, digital insurance. If you have online trust like the blockchain provides, you can reinvent field after field after field.”

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is an investor in Andreessen Horowitz.

Buyers, Sellers

BitShares X, a decentralized bank and exchange, is among the first Internet of Money services. Developed by Blacksburg, Virginia-based Invictus, BitShares X will debut in the second quarter and will offer users the ability to save, trade, borrow, and lend financial securities, from dollars to derivatives, without an intermediary like a bank or brokerage. Transactions are handled by users’ computers, and verified publicly, making theft or fraud impossible.

“With a traditional exchange, you send your dollars, and they record an IOU for so many dollars,” Dan Larimer, chief executive officer of Invictus, said. “The exchange can default on their IOUs to you – Mt. Gox is an example. In our case, no one can steal the balance from your account.”

The technology can potentially eliminate fees, which pay for the cost of accounting systems, banking services and verification of account holders, according to Chris Dixon, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz. By eliminating most of those expenses, financial services such as escrows and dispute resolution based on the Internet of Money could represent a significant business opportunity, he said in an interview.

“What Bitcoin does, it removes the need for trust in the system,” Dixon said. “It’s very brilliantly designed.”

Real Things

People buying and selling physical goods, especially expensive items such as cars and houses, can also benefit from Bitcoin’s technology. EBay Inc. and real estate brokers stand in the middle of transactions, ensuring each party’s identity and making sure everyone gets paid, for a fee. While this doesn’t rule out person-to-person deals, many opt to pay a commission to a middleman to minimize risk.

Ownership of goods could be tied to a verified digital token that can be transferred to the buyer from the seller, simultaneously with a payment.

“There’s a potential for at least 10 percent of the world’s e-commerce to be done over the blockchain,” Michael Terpin, co-founder of BitAngels, said in an interview.

Keybase, another nascent idea, works as a virtual identity card, verifying people using the same underlying Bitcoin technology. In addition to confirming people for messages or e-mail, it can also be used to as a certificate of authenticity for files or online video streams.

Open Markets

In another scenario, Bitcoin Tangible Trust lets people buy and trade gold using Bitcoin technology to validate transactions and show ownership. Ripple Gateway Pte’s RippleSingapore offers a similar service for trading gold, silver, platinum, and currencies. Some 200 people are using the system, which is backed by bullion reserves, and currency deposits at Singapore’s Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp.

Digital media, such as music and video can also benefit from the same technology. Invictus is planning a service that lets users buy shares in sound tracks, for example.

“It’s a way for fans to buy into a song when it’s new, and if it becomes popular, you can make money,” Larimer said. Since digital content ownership will be verified, such a service will be a natural defense against piracy, he said.

Voting Tools

Using Bitcoin technology and cars connected to wireless networks, package courier services could evolve into a self-organizing industry. Anyone who is part of the service with a car could become a courier, picking up and delivering packages as they commute or run errands. While still a conceptual idea, the system would collect fees from senders and pay deliverers.

MaidSafe has developed a service that lets consumers share storage or processing power with others, an alternative to cloud-computing providers such as Amazon Web Services. David Irvine, MaidSafe’s founder, said he’s working with about 20 companies that are creating Web applications.

The Internet of Money isn’t all about cash and software, said Dave Cohen, a 45-year-old programmer in San Francisco who is working on a way to let users cast votes using Bitcoin-based verification.

“I would like to see voting for the voters to be convenient, and for the vote counting to be almost instantaneous,” Cohen said.

New Coins

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and EBay have filed patents that mention digital currencies such as Bitcoin and underlying technologies.

“We know for a fact that many financial companies are thinking about adopting it,” Balaji Srinivasan, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said in an interview. “We see banks all the time that are evaluating this for internal operations.”

While some of the Bitcoin 2.0 startups are using the existing Bitcoin network, many are creating alternate versions that work in the same way to provide verification. The most well-known projects are Mastercoin, Ethereum, Colored Coins, Counterparty, Ripple, and BitShares.

BitAngels’ Johnston said the majority of his group’s funding and deals will be related to Internet of Money this year. After evaluating 200 investments last year, the venture-capital group invested more than 60 percent of its funds in Mastercoin, he said.

“Right now, Bitcoin is in the lead,” Brock Pierce, an investor in Mastercoin, said. “And usually, the technology that gets the most adopters wins.”

 

More on Bitcoin:

Escape the bankers… This is the real reason Bitcoin is surging

Porter Stansberry: What you should know about Bitcoin and gold

The IRS just made a “ruling” on Bitcoin. Here’s what they said.

Monday, March 31st, 2014 Invest, News, Wealth Comments Off on The surprising way Bitcoin could break into the mainstream. Hint: It’s not what you think.

Gold Investing for Your Golden Years – About – News & Issues

Gold Investing for Your Golden Years
About – News & Issues
A gold IRA is one way to invest in precious metals for retirement. Working much like a traditional IRA, a gold IRA lets investors accumulate tax-deferred savings to withdraw once they retire. However, with a gold IRA, individuals hold actual precious

and more »

Monday, March 31st, 2014 Invest, News, Wealth Comments Off on Gold Investing for Your Golden Years – About – News & Issues

Bitcoin won’t replace the U.S. dollar… but it could soon break into the mainstream in a completely different way

From Bloomberg:

Bitcoin isn’t just for buying and selling cupcakes and cameras anymore.

A crop of entrepreneurs, backed by investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and BitAngels, are betting that the technology behind the virtual currency can be used for a range of financial tasks now handled by banks, exchanges, e-commerce providers and other middlemen.

Invictus Innovations Inc., Ripple Labs Inc. and other startups are harnessing Bitcoin’s underlying code for such tasks as authentication, which means making sure that a buyer isn’t posing as someone else, and verification of payments to ensure that a transaction is valid. If successful, the new tools could reduce the fees shouldered by buyers and sellers in the $1.22 trillion global electronic-commerce market, as well in financial services, cloud computing and other areas.

“People are just starting to realize that Bitcoin isn’t a currency and a payment system, it’s the Internet of Money,” David Johnston, co-founder of BitAngels, a group of investors in Bitcoin-related startups, said in an interview. “It’s a really exciting time.”

BitAngels is currently considering more than 30 projects in the Internet-of-Money category, Johnston said.

There’s growing recognition, even among financial firms, that Bitcoin’s underlying design can be used for any transaction requiring some degree of verification. In a report this month, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said while Bitcoins probably won’t be viable as a currency, the basic technology “could hold promise.” Bitcoin’s future as the Internet of Money was one of the hottest topics at the CoinSummit conference in San Francisco this week.

Digital Money

Bitcoin captured the attention of investors and innovators last year, fueling a rally that drove the value of the digital money to about $1,200 from $12. More recently, scrutiny from governments, bans in China and India, and the collapse of online exchange Mt. Gox have cast doubt on the viability of Bitcoin as credible replacement for fiat currencies.

The price of Bitcoin plunged almost 10 percent yesterday after China’s central bank ordered banks and payment companies to close the trading accounts of more than 10 Bitcoin exchanges. Bitcoin was valued at about $500 yesterday, according to the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index.

The software behind Bitcoin relies on a public record of every transaction that’s ever made. When someone spends all or part of a Bitcoin, the change in ownership is recorded by a global network of computers and posted to a public register, ensuring that the same unit of money can’t be used twice. The owners of computers solving and verifying these transactions are rewarded with new Bitcoins for their work.

Building Blocks

Bitcoin’s building blocks, designed to validate each transaction, are adaptable for any type of exchange, regardless of whether they are attached to a currency or not. Called a blockchain, the currency’s underlying design opens up possibilities for the technology to be used in other industries, according to Marc Andreessen, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz who is looking to fund startups focused on this new category.

“The blockchain is the core innovation,” Andreessen said at CoinSummit. “We want a whole sequence of companies: digital title, digital media assets, digital stocks, and bonds, digital crowdfunding, digital insurance. If you have online trust like the blockchain provides, you can reinvent field after field after field.”

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is an investor in Andreessen Horowitz.

Buyers, Sellers

BitShares X, a decentralized bank and exchange, is among the first Internet of Money services. Developed by Blacksburg, Virginia-based Invictus, BitShares X will debut in the second quarter and will offer users the ability to save, trade, borrow, and lend financial securities, from dollars to derivatives, without an intermediary like a bank or brokerage. Transactions are handled by users’ computers, and verified publicly, making theft or fraud impossible.

“With a traditional exchange, you send your dollars, and they record an IOU for so many dollars,” Dan Larimer, chief executive officer of Invictus, said. “The exchange can default on their IOUs to you – Mt. Gox is an example. In our case, no one can steal the balance from your account.”

The technology can potentially eliminate fees, which pay for the cost of accounting systems, banking services and verification of account holders, according to Chris Dixon, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz. By eliminating most of those expenses, financial services such as escrows and dispute resolution based on the Internet of Money could represent a significant business opportunity, he said in an interview.

“What Bitcoin does, it removes the need for trust in the system,” Dixon said. “It’s very brilliantly designed.”

Real Things

People buying and selling physical goods, especially expensive items such as cars and houses, can also benefit from Bitcoin’s technology. EBay Inc. and real estate brokers stand in the middle of transactions, ensuring each party’s identity and making sure everyone gets paid, for a fee. While this doesn’t rule out person-to-person deals, many opt to pay a commission to a middleman to minimize risk.

Ownership of goods could be tied to a verified digital token that can be transferred to the buyer from the seller, simultaneously with a payment.

“There’s a potential for at least 10 percent of the world’s e-commerce to be done over the blockchain,” Michael Terpin, co-founder of BitAngels, said in an interview.

Keybase, another nascent idea, works as a virtual identity card, verifying people using the same underlying Bitcoin technology. In addition to confirming people for messages or e-mail, it can also be used to as a certificate of authenticity for files or online video streams.

Open Markets

In another scenario, Bitcoin Tangible Trust lets people buy and trade gold using Bitcoin technology to validate transactions and show ownership. Ripple Gateway Pte’s RippleSingapore offers a similar service for trading gold, silver, platinum, and currencies. Some 200 people are using the system, which is backed by bullion reserves, and currency deposits at Singapore’s Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp.

Digital media, such as music and video can also benefit from the same technology. Invictus is planning a service that lets users buy shares in sound tracks, for example.

“It’s a way for fans to buy into a song when it’s new, and if it becomes popular, you can make money,” Larimer said. Since digital content ownership will be verified, such a service will be a natural defense against piracy, he said.

Voting Tools

Using Bitcoin technology and cars connected to wireless networks, package courier services could evolve into a self-organizing industry. Anyone who is part of the service with a car could become a courier, picking up and delivering packages as they commute or run errands. While still a conceptual idea, the system would collect fees from senders and pay deliverers.

MaidSafe has developed a service that lets consumers share storage or processing power with others, an alternative to cloud-computing providers such as Amazon Web Services. David Irvine, MaidSafe’s founder, said he’s working with about 20 companies that are creating Web applications.

The Internet of Money isn’t all about cash and software, said Dave Cohen, a 45-year-old programmer in San Francisco who is working on a way to let users cast votes using Bitcoin-based verification.

“I would like to see voting for the voters to be convenient, and for the vote counting to be almost instantaneous,” Cohen said.

New Coins

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and EBay have filed patents that mention digital currencies such as Bitcoin and underlying technologies.

“We know for a fact that many financial companies are thinking about adopting it,” Balaji Srinivasan, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said in an interview. “We see banks all the time that are evaluating this for internal operations.”

While some of the Bitcoin 2.0 startups are using the existing Bitcoin network, many are creating alternate versions that work in the same way to provide verification. The most well-known projects are Mastercoin, Ethereum, Colored Coins, Counterparty, Ripple, and BitShares.

BitAngels’ Johnston said the majority of his group’s funding and deals will be related to Internet of Money this year. After evaluating 200 investments last year, the venture-capital group invested more than 60 percent of its funds in Mastercoin, he said.

“Right now, Bitcoin is in the lead,” Brock Pierce, an investor in Mastercoin, said. “And usually, the technology that gets the most adopters wins.”

 

More on Bitcoin:

Escape the bankers… This is the real reason Bitcoin is surging

Porter Stansberry: What you should know about Bitcoin and gold

The IRS just made a “ruling” on Bitcoin. Here’s what they said.

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 Invest, News, Wealth Comments Off on Bitcoin won’t replace the U.S. dollar… but it could soon break into the mainstream in a completely different way

Small-cap expert: The market is making a major shift right now. This is what you need to know

From Frank Curzio, editor, Small Stock Specialist:

High-beta sectors are in freefall.

These are high-growth areas like biotech and social media – which tend to be more volatile than the overall market.

Most high-beta names – like social-media giant Facebook and online travel site Priceline – are investor favorites. These stocks are mentioned almost every hour of the trading day on major media outlets like CNBC and Fox Business News.

These sectors more than doubled over the past 18 months. Now, investors are taking profits.

But there is one part of the downturn that few people are talking about: Investors are moving their money from high-beta sectors into cyclical sectors instead. And these stocks are likely to outperform the market this year.

Let me explain…

Cyclical sectors are correlated to the economy. They include banks, semiconductors, and steel companies. When economic growth is sluggish, these sectors underperform. When the economy improves, people borrow more money, buy more electronics, and build more stuff. So these companies benefit from stronger economic growth.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen sluggish growth in the U.S. of less than 2%. But economists – including the ones who work at packaging-transportation giant FedEx – have raised their annual gross domestic product (GDP) forecasts recently. Most are now predicting 3% annual growth in the years ahead.

Note: I mention FedEx because these guys are real-world economists. They tour the country and track demand from consumers. More important… if they are wrong, they get fired – unlike the economists that work for the government.

This 3% growth rate is not great. But it’s much faster than the past few years – and roughly in line with the average 3.2% annual growth rate we’ve had in the U.S. over the past 60 years. This stronger growth is leading to a “great rotation” of money out of high-beta names and into cyclical sectors.

For example, high-beta biotech and social-media names are down 13%-14% over the past month. Yet, cyclical semiconductors and banks have run higher over the same time frame – up around 3% each.

 

 

In short, big money is being moved out of high-beta names and into cyclical sectors. And I expect this rotation to continue over the next year as GDP growth in the U.S. pushes through the 3% mark.

Over the past year, I’ve written about bank, steel, and semiconductor stocks. Most names in these sectors have moved higher since my write-ups. But this is just the beginning…

Banks recently finished their latest round of stress tests. These are tests used to find out if banks have enough capital on their balance sheets to withstand an economic crisis. Almost every U.S. bank passed. As I told you last week, this means most banks will be raising their dividends and increasing buybacks in the months ahead. When big banks do increase their dividends, I expect these currently cheap stocks to trade at a similar multiple with the S&P 500. That’s a gain of 25%.

And while the majority of steel companies just reported weak earnings, most stocks in this sector have held steady. Due to extreme cold-weather conditions, many construction projects have been put on hold. And people are staying at home rather than venturing into the cold to buy new cars. But demand for cars, manufacturing, and construction is expected to rebound sharply in the months ahead. This will help push steel stocks higher.

And semiconductor (“chip”) stocks are reporting solid earnings. These companies make the chips that go into computers, smartphones, video-game consoles, and other electronic devices. These companies have seen huge growth in the past few years from the surge in smartphones and tablets. This growth will continue as more chips are needed in electronics used in autos, airplanes, medical devices, and new wearable technology. In short, the sector has huge upside potential.

As I said, I expect the great rotation to continue through this year. A few names that will benefit include banking giant JPMorgan (JPM), steel producer Steel Dynamics (STLD), and chip manufacturer Marvell (MRVL). These names are cheap, will see strong earnings growth as the economy grows north of 3%, and pay solid dividends.

I suggest increasing your exposure to these sectors.

Crux note: Frank says the final sector that could soar from this rotation is one of his favorites: the elite small-cap dividend-payers.

These are companies that have raised their annual dividends for decades… yet still grow earnings faster and pay higher dividend yields than the average S&P 500 company. And they are all cyclical names.

Three of these elite dividend-payers are still in buy range today. Click here to get all the details right now.

More from Frank Curzio:

Frank Curzio: Stocks are headed even higher from here

Must-see: A “no-brainer” way to make 100%-plus on an unstoppable trend

This remarkable technology “shift” could solve a $1.7 trillion problem

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 Invest, News, Wealth Comments Off on Small-cap expert: The market is making a major shift right now. This is what you need to know

A lost album was found in Johnny Cash’s vault. Listen to it here.

The Man in Black is back.

Johnny Cash is one of the most iconic singer-songwriters of all time. He had a voice like freight train. His words could touch the deepest parts of your soul. He sang and toured with other greats such as Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

His music was rooted in country… but it was so much more. There is no doubt his music took part in the origins of rock and roll. Johnny Cash’s music transcends genres… only to be classified as great American music.

It’s for this reason, famed producer, Rick Rubin, started working with Johnny in the 1990s. Rick Rubin co-founded rap empire, Def Jam. Rubin is eclectic and works with top performers. He is a production genius.

Johnny and Rubin worked a lot together. They created a lot of songs. Rubin released two Johnny Cash albums posthumously. There are still four to five albums that haven’t been released… and may not even see the light of day.

Even if these albums never get released… there is still good news.

Another new album was found. Johnny died in 2003… months after his wife, June Carter Cash died. After his death, their son, John Carter Cash, cleaned up their home. This is when he found a treasure…

In a vault, John found a never-before-released album called Out Among the Stars. The majority of the production happened in 1984. Johnny had battled drug addiction throughout his life. He had fallen back into his drug addiction in 1983. In 1984, he went through recovery. It’s at this point in his life… when he was true… when he was aware… when his voice was perfect.

Listen to the full newly released album from Johnny Cash’s album Out Among Stars right here…

 

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More Cruxellaneous:

Ukraine BOMBSHELL: Leaked conversation could set off a full-blown war

Why Jim Rickards says buy gold now… before it’s too late

This 59-second video explains how the gov’t tricked us all into paying income taxes

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 Invest, News, Wealth Comments Off on A lost album was found in Johnny Cash’s vault. Listen to it here.

The week before national elections in Turkey and THIS gets leaked

Reuters reports Turkey discussed staging a fake attack to drag Syria into a war.

Tensions between Turkey and Syria have been building since 2011. The Arab Spring ignited a Syrian civil war. Turkey condemned Syria’s authoritarian regime. As a response, Turkey suspended trade relations and all agreements with Syria.

Turkey banned YouTube on Thursday after the taped discussion had been leaked. Senior Turkish government, military, and spy officials discussed plans to stage a missile attack. The attack would be a pretext for a Turkish military response.

What was said on the tape is incriminating…

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Erdogan sees any attack as an “opportunity” to increase Turkish presence in Syria.

Turkey’s spy chief Hakan Fidan said, “I’ll send four men from Syria, if that’s what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey; we can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.”

The tomb is historically sovereign to Turkey but located in Syria.

Despite Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s best efforts to plug the leak by banning YouTube… the tape still got out. Erdogan said, “They have leaked something on YouTube today. It was a meeting on our national security. It is a vile, cowardly, immoral act.”

 

More on Turkey and Syria:

Forget Iran… “Damning” evidence suggests the West is about to attack another Mid-East country

“Absolutely mindblowing”: You may not believe what Obama is using as “proof” to start a war with Syria

Why even a limited U.S. attack on Syria could be a “game changer”

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 Invest, News, Wealth Comments Off on The week before national elections in Turkey and THIS gets leaked

James Altucher: The most interesting radio show I’ve done all year

I just got off the radio with one of America’s smartest people.

His name is Steven Kotler. I’m a huge fan of his books.

Steven can make you twice as productive. He can help you achieve more than you ever thought possible.

Even if you are rich and successful, you can learn a lot from Steven Kotler.

Steven is the bestselling author of several books. His latest is The Rise of the Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance.

You’re probably thinking, “No thanks, James. I don’t need another book about productivity and setting goals.”

This isn’t one of those lame books. This book will change the world.

This book isn’t about doing more things you think you should be doing.

It’s about doing things you had no idea you could do.

It’s about accessing parts of your brain and body you don’t even know exist.

You know the cliché that we only use a tiny part of our brain’s full capacity?

Steven’s book provides clear instructions on how to access that huge untapped capacity. You can use it to make a lot more money, become smarter, be a star athlete, and just about anything else.

Steven figured out these instructions by studying the world’s top experts on the subject: extreme sport athletes. These are the people who jump off cliffs, surf 100-foot waves, and ride bikes down mountains.

It turns out, extreme athletes are better at accessing untapped brain power than any other group on the planet… even better than conventional athletes or scientists.

Extreme athletes know how to tap into “flow.”

On the radio show, Steven defined flow as this:

Flow is technically defined as an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and we perform our best. Flow is those moments where we get so sucked in that everything else seems to vanish. Concentration gets so intense that action and awareness start to merge. Your sense of self, your sense of self-consciousness disappear. Time passes strangely. Sometimes it speeds up and five hours will pass by in, like, five minutes. Sometimes it slows down and you get that freeze-frame effect like in a car crash. And throughout, all aspects of performance go through the roof.”

I’ve seen “flow” happen. I’ve seen computer programmers get so engaged in programming code that they forget to eat and forget to sleep. They go 24 straight hours. It’s far beyond what most people think the brain and body can do.

Although Steven has spent the most time studying extreme athletes, he points that flow can help regular people achieve incredible things at work. He says:

McKinsey did a 10-year study. They found top executives report being five times more productive in flow than out of flow. You gotta stop and think about that… It means you get to go to work on Monday in flow, you take Tuesday through Friday off, and get as much done as your steady-state peers.”

The good news is, you don’t have to jump off cliffs or surf to achieve what Steven calls “flow states.” You just have to know some basic neuroscience.

Accessing flow states is all about manipulating brain chemicals so they allow you to achieve incredible focus and energy levels.

It even helped Steven recover from a horrible disease that doctors couldn’t figure out. He was bedridden for three years. He was near suicide. But he figured out how flow works, and now he’s healthy and happy.

One key way to access the flow state is to take on a project or a job or an athletic event that slightly exceeds your current skills. Not far beyond your skills… just slightly beyond. If you can long jump eight feet, try to jump across a ditch that is eight feet four inches. You’ll be amazed at what you can do.

I personally think that accessing flow states is an essential part of surviving and thriving in the Choose Yourself Era. The cubicle economy that America has survived on for the past 100 years is dead.

The only way to really survive over the next 20 years is to access this internal piece of yourself that contributes to flow and makes you a better person than you thought you could be. Find the part of yourself that will make you more creative, more energetic, and more independent.

I hope you’re interested in flow and Steven’s ideas on it. On the show, you’ll hear about several ways you can start accessing flow. Use it to do whatever you want. Several of my friends at Stansberry & Associates said this was the most interesting podcast I’ve done all year.

You can hear my entire discussion with Steven Kotler right here, for free.

 

More from James:

Ten simple ways to make your life happier and less stressful immediately

Throw out your “to-do” list and replace it with this

Eight ways to naturally experience the same effects as heroin

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 Invest, News, Wealth Comments Off on James Altucher: The most interesting radio show I’ve done all year

How to become a "Pawn Star" in four simple steps

If you want to negotiate like a master… learn from the best.

Rick Harrison is the star of History Channel’s “Pawn Stars.” He runs the busiest pawnshop in America. The shop buys 3,000 to 4,000 items every month. Harrison, alone, does five to 15 negotiations per day.

In the video below, Harrison shares his top four tips to become a master of negotiation…

No. 1. Be a nerd. Read everything. There will always be opportunities. Stay up to date with your field… and you’ll be able to jump on any opportunity that comes your way.

No. 2. Never give the first price. The other person in the negotiation may offer a lower price than you would have first suggested.

No. 3. Be willing to walk away. Don’t feel forced to make a deal.

No. 4. Never take advantage of people. Your reputation… and your business… is at stake.

 

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More on negotiations:

Eleven tips for getting a better price on almost anything you buy

How to get the best car deals online

Porter Stansberry: The most valuable advice I’ve ever shared

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 Invest, News, Wealth Comments Off on How to become a "Pawn Star" in four simple steps

Think the Federal Reserve knows what it’s doing? Read this now.

From Bloomberg:

The decision of central banks to focus more on economic slack as a barometer of when inflation will become a problem could backfire, if history is any guide.

The Federal Reserve, Bank of England, and European Central Bank have started using the level of spare capacity in their economies as a way to foretell when they will start reversing easy monetary policies. The more capacity, the bigger the output gap between actual and potential economic growth and the longer officials can keep interest rates low because price pressures will be sluggish.

“While this sounds plausible, past experience suggests that central banks tend to hike rates too slowly, with corresponding risks for price inflation,” Christoph Balz and Bernd Weidensteiner, economists at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, said in a March 21 report.

The problem is that output gaps are hard to estimate and better done in hindsight. To demonstrate that, the Commerzbank economists looked at what the Fed would have estimated for the output gap in the early 1970s, given the data they had available from the prior three decades.

The initial impression was of an output gap of minus 1 percent for 1974, which would have encouraged the U.S. central bank to be “moderately expansionary,” said Balz and Weidensteiner.

In reality, the economy was later shown to have been slightly over-stretched in 1974. Repeating the exercise for 1983, the output gap the Fed would have calculated at the time was minus 1 percent, versus the minus 4 percent it proved to be.

“In other words, a more restrictive policy would have been appropriate in 1974, but in 1983 a more expansionary policy was required,” said Commerzbank. “This demonstrates the uncertainty prevailing when monetary policy conclusions are drawn from the current data set.”

With the Fed’s new lines of communication aimed at damping expectations of rate hikes, the risk is the Fed “will again probably raise rates too late and too cautiously,” said the economists. This time the “greater danger” may be that loose monetary policy fans inflation in asset prices.

* * *

To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Kennedy in London at skennedy4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Fraher at jfraher@bloomberg.net.

 

More on the Federal Reserve:

The Fed is supposed to stimulate the economy… instead they’re killing it.

The “real story” on the Fed’s insane policies are finally coming to light

WARNING: The Fed just gave capitol controls “two thumbs up!”

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 Invest, News, Wealth Comments Off on Think the Federal Reserve knows what it’s doing? Read this now.

There are four things you must do to get wealthy. Read this and get started today.

Editor’s note: Our friend Mark Ford is launching a new program that he says can make you wealthy within seven years.

It’s called the Palm Beach Wealth Builders Club. Mark started the club after he discovered that many of his readers at our corporate affiliate The Palm Beach Letter hoped to retire within 10 years… but did not have the wealth they needed to do so. Some – like one subscriber Paul T. – also feared their failing health was holding them back.

In today’s essay, Mark shows that no matter your age, health, or financial situation… you have the power to “save” your financial future.

He shares the four things you must do to get wealthy. And he reveals the single most important way you can get rid of debt and enjoy a comfortable, worry-free retirement…

 

By Mark Ford, founder, The Palm Beach Letter:

Paul T., a Palm Beach Letter subscriber, sent me the following “confession”:

I have no savings, no significant assets, and bad credit due to having to file bankruptcy after 2008. And to make matters worse, I just hit 60 and I feel like everything is suddenly starting to go wrong with my body!

Give it to me straight, Mark. Is it even possible to save myself at this point?

If you have ever felt financially or physically “old,” this essay should be helpful. For the answer to Paul’s question is yes. And not a qualified yes – a definitive yes!

Virtually all financial and most health problems can be solved. When you are young, you feel the truth of this instinctively. But as you age, your psyche’s natural optimism sometimes fades. The burden of debt and joblessness – even aches and pains – seems terminal.

But that is an illusion. You can fix all your financial problems, one by one. And you can acquire wealth. In fact, if you really want to work at it, you can become wealthy in seven years or fewer. And you can do all this starting at age 60.

Things are easier now for older people. Sixty is the new 40!

What You Can Do in Your 60s

Let’s begin with Paul’s health issues, since without good health, it is difficult to put your full energy into your business and financial objectives.

Paul doesn’t have a terminal illness. He has diminished energy, occasional muscular fatigue, chronic aches and pains, and the growing feeling that his body is “falling apart.”

Your doctor may tell you that these are inevitable symptoms of aging. And there is no doubt that the body is designed to wind itself down as it ages.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to give in to physical debilitation and the mental gloom that goes with it. By taking advantage of new discoveries in nutrition and exercise science, you can be strong, energetic, and pain free all the way through your 70s and even your 80s.

I provide myself as your example. I come from a family that is predisposed to obesity, heart and digestive problems, and depression. My genetic bad coding started messing with me in my late 30s.

Knowing next to nothing about nutrition, I spent about 20 years gaining and losing weight as my strength, flexibility, and stamina gradually diminished. Then, in my early 50s, I began consulting for the natural health industry. This gave me an inside view at all sorts of breakthrough studies that helped me understand how I could eat, exercise, and relax more profitably.

Today, at 63, I’m in very good shape. I’m not what I was at 25, but I’m able to work 16 hours nonstop, wrestle with men less than half my age, and spend six days climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Moreover, I’m taking supplements that seem to be actually retarding the shortening of my telomeres – the cellular switches that control aging.

About a year ago, I took a battery of tests that measure my “relative age” in terms of lung capacity (extremely important), visual and mental acuity, heart strength, and even something that measured the flexibility of my blood vessels. In every area, I tested at least 10 years younger than I am. In several areas, I tested 20-plus years younger.

The point: You can regain some measure of youthful vigor, stamina, and optimism by implementing a good eating, exercise, and sleep routine…

How Much Can You Accomplish?

Behind Paul’s question is a common prejudice: that our years for being productive are between 30 and 60. There is no doubt that you can change the world in that middle third of your life. But you can accomplish great things in the last third, too.

To prove the point, here are a few examples of what these well-known people have been able to do in their 60s (or thereabouts):

  •  Harland Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders, was 65 when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken. As demand for his tasty chicken grew, Sanders opened a restaurant. And the rest, as they say, is history.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65 when she began writing her beloved Little House on the Prairie series. She went on to pen eight total books in the series – in addition to being a journalist.
  • In 1954, at the age of 52, Ray Kroc opened a hamburger stand – when most people his age were retiring. Kroc revolutionized the fast-food business when this hamburger stand eventually became McDonald’s.
  • Car icon and businessman Henry Ford was 60 years old when he created the first car assembly line.
  • At 70 years old, Golda Meir became the fourth prime minister of Israel – and the first woman to hold the post.
  • In 2004, at the age of 82, Robert Galvin, retired longtime CEO of Motorola, started Galvin Electricity Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming and improving the nation’s power grid to 21st-century standards.

Consider this: As of 2009, the latest year for which information is available, persons reaching age 65 had an average life expectancy of an additional 18.8 years (20 years for females and 17.3 years for males). That means we sexagenarians have many more years to live well and thrive!

How to “Save” Your Financial Future

Do you empathize with Paul? Here’s my advice.

First, stop reading all the doom-and-gloom material that is out there. Yes, debt burdens our world economy. And yes, that debt will be paid one way or another. But you are not going to make yourself any richer by worrying about it.

At The Palm Beach Letter, we do the worrying for you by making safety our highest priority. So let us do the macroeconomic analysis. Spend your reading time about motivational subjects and acquiring knowledge.

Second, believe this: It is perfectly possible – even likely – to eliminate debt and acquire wealth within seven years if you are willing to do the right things.

That seven-year term is a personal projection, but it’s not without basis. It comes from what I’ve done many times over in my own life, and what I’ve been able to help other people do many times over.

When you are young, seven years seems like an eternity. But at 60, you now know that it will pass faster than the blink of an eye. That’s why it’s so important for you to take my advice seriously and put it to work immediately. If you wait even a week to get started, you will find it easy to push it off another week and then a month, and before you know it, those seven years will have passed, and you will be in the same bind you are in now.

The third thing you must do is take responsibility for the financial mess you are in.

There is no doubt that you have been lied to and misled. There is no doubt that you have been preyed upon by a host of “wealth stealers” – bankers, brokers, lawyers, insurance agents, and medical professionals whose job is to separate their clients from their money. There is no doubt that the government has been taking its pound of flesh from you while you struggle to survive.

But none of that really matters. These forces and people don’t care about your financial problems. They won’t help you. You must accept the fact that only you can turn your life around. You have to step up to the plate. You must make a serious personal commitment to change.

I can help you with this last bit. I wrote a book about change – which incorporates everything I’ve learned about the subject – several years ago. It’s called The Pledge. When you become a member of our Palm Beach Wealth Builders Club, you receive a free copy.

Once your body is healthy and your mind is right (including your commitment to persist in this plan), you are ready for the first life-improving change. And that is the acquisition of additional income.

I have written about this subject many times before. My argument is that you can’t get wealthy by investing alone. You must curtail your spending, manage your money, and allocate your investments wisely. And you must also create extra income for yourself and your spouse.

This is a big, big point. Before I first wrote about this idea in 2011, no investment expert I knew of was saying this. Now some of the better investment writers are beginning to teach it, just as the better business writers began teaching my ideas about entrepreneurship several years after I introduced them in Early to Rise.

So much the better. Let’s get the word out. But you should know that you are getting this advice from the guy who first shouted about it – while everyone else was saying, “It’s just a matter of buying different stocks and bonds.”

Bringing in extra income is the single most important way you can get rid of debt and become wealthy within seven years. It is the surest way you can get out of the financial pickle you are in and enjoy a comfortable, worry-free retirement.

Debt and Bankruptcy

As to your debt and bankruptcy, don’t be intimidated by it. There are ways to contain and even eliminate it, as well as repair your credit.

There are alternative retirement lifestyles that will allow you to live very well on an amazingly small amount of income. There is a program I’ve developed with the Palm Beach Wealth Builders Club team. It’s called “Retire Next Year” because these retirement opportunities don’t require much more than the willingness to make a change in how or where you live. And you can accomplish them with a modest income – which you already have.

And while you are creating new income streams, and restructuring your investing, you can live very well if you follow the advice of another Wealth Builders Club program called “Living Rich.”

Don’t Forget to Live Rich

“Living Rich” is a special favorite of mine. I’m sure some readers will consider it frivolous because the advice is not about making more money but about getting more quality out of the money you have. To me, it is the most important thing one can learn about wealth.

The fact is that – although 80% of people would like to (and should) have more money in their lives – most of them can start enjoying a higher quality of life immediately by spending their money more thoughtfully.

All of these programs are available as part of our Palm Beach Wealth Builders Club. We launched this club after reviewing a survey of Palm Beach Letter readers and discovering that many of them – too many of them – were hoping to retire within 10 years but did not have the wealth they needed to do so.

I don’t believe in “retiring” in the traditional sense. I don’t believe in giving up meaningful work, for example. I have many friends who tried replacing work with golfing and grew tired of it all too quickly. Of all the activities one can do in retirement, golf is probably the worst because it defies what you want to do with your time: improving yourself by practicing something that you think is useful. If you are not a professional golfer, you can’t possibly say golfing is useful. And as to improving your skills? It just doesn’t happen!

Another great mistake people make when they retire is that they give up their active income. There is nothing you will regret more – in terms of financial decisions – than to substitute passive income for an active one.

The good news is that anyone who is in their 60s (or younger) can eradicate debt and build wealth within seven years. And this goal – this specific goal – is the cornerstone of all of the many different mini-programs we have within the Palm Beach Wealth Builders Club.

The Bottom Line

Being 60-plus years old is not a problem. It’s an opportunity. You are older now, and that means you should be wiser. You should be able to use that wisdom to make good choices.

In the Palm Beach Wealth Builders Club, we will give you the options, and we will provide plenty of recommendations on how to follow up on any of these options you select.

Get your health back by following my earlier suggestions. Then get your mind in shape by joining the Wealth Builders Club and reading and taking The Pledge. Then get to work reading everything we will be sending you. It will be a ton of useful advice and information.

If you do that, I can guarantee you that before your membership in the club is one year old, you will be on your way toward your financial goals and feeling 100% better than you feel now.

Crux note: The Palm Beach Wealth Builders Club isn’t about stocks, bonds, or any “get rich quick” scheme. It’s a carefully coordinated program of money-generating strategies he has refined over 30 years. If Mark lost his entire fortune today, he says, he would use these techniques to rebuild. To learn more about this new program – and the eight “Rules of Wealth” it’s based on – click here.

 

More from Mark Ford:

These six “truths” could be the difference between retiring wealthy and barely scraping by

Self-made millionaire reveals: How to really buy happiness

How to charm anyone: One of the most valuable skills you’ll ever learn

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 Invest, News, Wealth Comments Off on There are four things you must do to get wealthy. Read this and get started today.

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