How will 2015 treat our wallets? That is the question everyone is asking as 2014 nears its close and we prepare to ring in the holidays with loved ones and then enter the season of resolutions and new beginnings. Underpinning this inquiry is a feeling of cautious optimism, as the U.S. economy appears to be hitting its stride – producing strong GDP growth and impressive hiring numbers – despite turmoil in the global oil markets, concern over stock market valuations, and worries about global conflict and recession.
Update: With the year coming to a close, we decided to revisit WalletHub’s 2014 Economic Predictions to see how we ended up doing. We graded each of the predictions and provided explanations for our marks. If you think we were either too lenient or too harsh, make sure to let us know in the comments section below. And if you’re interested in getting a jump start on all the big WalletNews of next year, check out WalletHub’s 2015 Economic Predictions.
High-stakes hacking has been a major theme for American businesses in 2014. The recent wave of data breaches at popular retailers have made consumers more aware — and warier — of the very real threat that their sensitive financial information could slip easily into criminal hands.
October 31 – Halloween – conjures up visions of ghosts, ghouls and other fictional monsters; however, a non-fictional monster, the zombie-debt collector, exists all year around. The typical zombie-debt collector is a purchaser of debt who preys on unsuspecting consumers. Consumers need to be prepared to defeat the claims of these monsters.
Zombie debts arise from unenforceable or dead debts. The debts may be unenforceable against consumers because the debts never existed, as in cases of mistaken identity or identity theft. Similarly, the debts may be unenforceable by operation of law, as in cases where the debts have already been paid or discharged in bankruptcy. Additionally, in many cases, zombie-debt collectors may seek to collect old or stale debts that are time-barred because the limitations period for collections has passed.
It’s time to grab your peanuts and Cracker Jack because baseball’s big day has arrived. The 110th World Series is upon us, as the Giants and Royals square off. While this year’s Series lacks one of the various geographical rivalries that were possible at the onset of the playoffs, it does feature two hot, battle tested teams that have slogged their way through long odds to arrive at the precipice of a championship. That should make for a compelling match-up.
And although we’ll have to wait to see who comes out on top (our experts have some guesses in the meantime), we can certainly get acquainted with the teams and everything else that makes the World Series tick. You see, given that baseball is a game that lends itself to and is in love with statistics, WalletHub decided to take a closer look at some of the most important facts and figures related to this year’s World Series. You can check them out in our infographic below, along with an Ask The Experts section where we discuss both the outcome of this Series and the future of baseball with some of the country’s leading sports management experts.
It’s that time of year again when the Big Apple plays host to the violent grunts of the world’s best tennis players and boisterous cheers from less-than-muted spectators. And it seems only yesterday that Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams owned their opponents on the court, both snagging their second and fifth championship titles, respectively, at the 2013 U.S. Open.
But aside from trophies, the two winners also bagged a record $3.6 million each, including the main draw prize of $2.6 million for singles and all their other cash winnings up to that point. This year, the total award money has reached a new high: $38.3 million — an increase of 11.7 percent from 2013 — just behind Wimbledon at $42.3 million.
The images are disturbing: Thousands of apprehended child migrants cramped inside detention holding cells and sprawled across floors at bedtime. No parents and no certainty of their fate. President Obama has labeled the issue an “urgent humanitarian situation.” Others have described it as the ongoing “immigration crisis.”
Since this past October, roughly 63,000 unaccompanied alien children, or UAC, have illegally crossed the border shared by the United States and Mexico. Between January and the end of July, nearly 40,000 UACs — the majority of whom fled from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to escape widespread gang violence — have been placed in foster care or reunited with relatives in the U.S. Meanwhile, the fate of thousands remains in limbo as the children await delayed Congressional action on emergency funding.
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.