Are you ready for some football? We obviously know it as soccer, but no matter what you call it, the beautiful game is set to captivate the globe as the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off from Brazil June 12. After all, there is no shortage of story lines associated with the Brazil edition of this quadrennial celebration of sport. From the home country’s last-minute scramble to ready itself for the world stage and the accompanying protests regarding the government’s massive infrastructure investment to questions of tourist safety and doubts about the stability of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, the drama is at a fever pitch before the games have even begun.
Then there’s what the World Cup means for the business of soccer in the United States. Interest in soccer among American consumers has been steadily rising with the aid of a number of important tailwinds – including the popularity of youth soccer, MLS stability, America’s growing immigrant population, and the rise of new 24/7 sports networks. So, as the red, white and blue prepares to make its seventh consecutive World Cup appearance in a country with only an hour’s time difference from the East Coast, sponsors are gearing up for record U.S. viewership.
The energy crisis continues to dominate the headlines in 2014, but this time with positive news: America’s energy outlook is improving — or it seems to be. The U.S. Department of Energy did a little number crunching earlier this year, and the results have prompted some observers to speculate that a domestic energy revolution is underway.
The Energy Department’s report revealed that U.S. energy production, particularly crude oil and natural gas supply, is again reaching historic levels in part because of recent technological breakthroughs. Among other improvements, the report also projected that U.S. reliance on foreign oil will diminish by 2016.
With midterm elections just around the corner and the economic recovery finally gaining steam, the big question confronting America is whether Washington will still be gridlocked in 2015.
In the past few years, we’ve witnessed incessant quarreling in Congress that’s hampered worthwhile legislative action. 2013 was an especially rough year. Remember the government shutdown in October? The fiscal cliff scare that lifted us all from our seats the very first day of the year? Let’s not forget the historic altering of filibuster rules. So many memorable moments. So many lurching halts to the economic recovery.
We love numbers at WalletHub, particularly those related to money, and there is no shortage of interesting stats and figures surrounding the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500, which is set to be held Sunday at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In honor of this tradition-rich event, we compiled some of the most interesting tidbits – from the $10K it cost to produce the Borg-Warner Trophy in 1935 and the $3.5M it’s currently valued at to the $431 million economic impact the event has on Indianapolis – into an interesting infographic that will help fans connect with the race. We also spoke to motorsports experts about declining Indy 500 TV ratings, the biggest issues facing the business of IndyCar and, of course, who they think will drink the milk this year. So check it out, buckle up, and get ready for a wild ride.
Companies across the country are hopping on the financial literacy bandwagon in droves. Some are conducting money management seminars with military families. Others are teaming up to develop interactive games, inner-city outreach programs, awareness campaigns, and a variety of other initiatives.
But what are their motives in doing so?
Along with an abundance of showers, April brought with it two very important calendric events: National Financial Literacy Month and, of course, The Masters Tournament.
They might seem like an odd pair – golf and financial know-how – but if you’ve ever watched a golf tournament, the commercials alone illustrate just how closely tied golf and financial services happen to be. And while that obviously has more to do with the affluence of those who watch golf than the game itself, golf’s major governing bodies are committed to using the game as means of imparting life lessons on young people through The First Tee program – established by the World Golf Foundation in 1997.
In any association or community of individuals there is a need for guidelines and basic rules of conduct. Such norms of behavior are indispensible if we are to live together in social relationships.
Normally the rules governing an association start out as simple and commonsensical. In a community of individuals it is easy to understand the logic embedded in prohibitions against the natural law violations of the individual’s right to life, liberty, and property. However, with the passage of time there is a tendency to layer on more and more regulations and red tape. The expanding regulatory code becomes cumbersome, contradictory, and chaotic. Eventually what started out as a useful voluntary association often evolves into an overbearing bureaucracy that is detested by its own members.
Here’s a riddle for you: What all-American seats go up and down and all around, bringing strangers peanuts and proximity in nearly all weather?
The answer: Tickets for an American Airlines flight and a Major League Baseball game. You see, the airline industry and professional sports – American and MLB, in particular – have been innovative with their use of “dynamic pricing” in recent years, offering blueprints for other consumer-facing businesses to embrace the role of auction-based technology and big data in the modern buying-and-selling process.
Is it possible to invest money and be successful at it, without knowing anything in particular about what you are investing in? In theory yes, and there are people who are successful in this style of investing.
This school of investment thought says that everything is accounted for in the market at any point in time, therefore it is hopeless to try to outsmart the market based on fundamentals. And since the fundamentals are baked in the cake, why bother? The only think investors need to bother with is the trend. If the trend is up, you should be invested, and if it is down, you should either be out of the market or short.
The number most significant to the 2014 Masters Tournament is undoubtedly 1. It will be the 1st Masters since 1995 without Tiger Woods, the world’s No. 1 player, in the field. And three individuals – Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Jason Day – actually have a chance to overtake Woods in the world rankings come Sunday.
This just goes to show how much things have changed since 2005 – the last year Woods took home the green jacket. Both the golf industry and the economy were riding high then, buoyed by the real estate market’s bubblicious growth. But the housing market collapsed and disposable income dried up, leading to the closure of nearly 650 courses and forcing 4.7 million people to give up the game, according to the National Golf Foundation.
While the economy has been displaying begrudging improvement of late, there is still reason for concern at the household level – primarily when it comes to spending and debt. The average household owes more than $7,000 to their credit card company, according to CardHub research, and outstanding student loan balances total well over $1 trillion. What’s more, after displaying year-over-year improvement in credit card spending and payment habits –indicative of overall reliance on debt – in six out of the previous seven quarters, U.S. consumers added 8% more to their tab in Q4 2013 than they did in fourth quarter of 2012.
The question is: How are we going to turn things around? We need to learn our Great Recession lessons about the dangers of habitual overleveraging and the importance of making sensible money-management decisions with an eye to the future. Widespread overspending helped intensify the downtown, and pre-recession spending levels are even less sustainable without the support of the housing bubble. That means the three in five Americans who don’t maintain a budget need to change their ways and we all need to take a long, hard look at what we consider to be “necessities.”
In today’s world, an individual’s prevention efforts against identity theft/fraud have to span far beyond tearing up credit card offers.
Technology has made the criminal’s job much easier to target a larger group of unsuspecting victims. Phishing scams can be like shooting fish in a barrel, opposed to the “old school” ways of diving through a neighborhood of dumpsters for personal information haphazardly thrown away.
Are we entering a Star Trek economy where nearly all of our desires are met by the simple push of a button? With 3-D printing, robots used in manufacturing, and program trading of stocks it seems we are moving that direction.
While 3-D printing is only in its infancy, the technology’s potential is stunning. The technology has been used to produce jewelry, guns, and medical devices. Moreover, robots and computers are now used to do repetitive tasks in manufacturing, to answer your calls when you telephone the bank, and to explore deep oceans and outer space.
The issue of financial literacy, or a lack thereof, has rightfully earned a great deal of mainstream attention in the wake of the Great Recession. It seems that while we refuse to learn our lesson about the dangers of habitual overleveraging, judging from the more than $73 billion in credit card debt that we’ve racked up in the past two years alone, we do want to help future generations avoid repeating our mistakes.
The question is how corporate America fits into the picture. It’s clear that parents and teachers have an inherent responsibility to prepare young people for the financial realities of the “real world,” and most school systems are experimenting with different methods of incorporating personal finance and economics into the curriculum. But do businesses, from small organizations with just a handful of employees to Fortune 500 companies, have any business coming anywhere close to the issue?
Movie-goers are usually in for a treat when winter rolls around. It’s Oscar Season, after all, and big studios are busy lobbying for the inclusion of their films in the discussion for an Academy Award. Prestige obviously is a driving factor in all of the Oscar hoopla, but it’s dollar signs that studio execs, agents, actors, writers, producers, and directors see when they look at that iconic gold statuette (officially known as the Academy Award of Merit).
Winning an Academy Award – or even being nominated – can greatly help a studio's bottom line and make the careers of industry professionals. But you’ve got to spend money to make money, and millions of dollars are invested in the Oscar selection process each year.
In an era dominated by digital technology it should come as no surprise that someone has developed a digital currency. Paypal is a digital payment system but Bitcoin, developed in 2009, is an actual digital currency that, in the last several months, has generated excitement and interest – and yes, a little concern -- in the financial services industry.
Bitcoin uses crytography to create and transfer money. Any country's currency can be transformed into bitcoins so users can make payments. To use a bitcoin you need wallet software that runs on a computer or mobile device.
2013 was a year characterized by economic distractions, with things like the government shutdown, concerns about a potential U.S. default, and overall political obstinacy taking center stage. So, it’s fair to wonder: Will 2014 be any different?
While it’s impossible to know for sure, we can certainly offer some educated predictions for what the New Year has in store for consumers’ wallets. From GDP growth and unemployment to the stock market and gas prices, you can get a sneak peak of the most important issues facing your money in 2014 by checking out our predictions below.
The recent government shutdown and threat of default shook financial markets and caused many consumers to reassess their financial plans. But has it fundamentally changed the way we should be investing our money?
Probably not, say the experts we consulted. But it certainly has raised new risks that all investors should take into account.
The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia are record-setting in an astounding number of ways, from the seaside town’s traditionally warm February temps to fact that the Olympic torch visited space for the first time. But it’s when you start talking money that things truly get interesting.
The record $51 billion that Russia has invested in the Games is more than the previous 21 Winter Olympics combined. That figure also includes some $25 billion lost to corruption and theft as well as $8.7 billion spent on a transportation system to the mountains that could have been paved with a nice layer of Louis Vuitton bags for the same price. You can’t ignore the $775 million that NBC spent on the rights or the $1.05 billion in advertising revenue they’re expected to rake in either.
The Super Bowl is a game of numbers, from the Roman Numerals that denote each contest to the millions of people and billions of dollars that are engrossed in it each year.
Given the societal importance of the Big Game, the emphasis it places on social media, and the fact that the world's economic epicenter is serving as this year's backdrop, it only makes sense for WalletHub – the first social network built from the ground up around personal finance – to audit the figures that make the game tick.