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Complexity and Simplicity

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Real experts, in any field, are people who can make the most incomprehensible issues and complex things simple.  They can explain it so it makes sense.  At the very minimum people who can’t easily do that lack communication skills.  They also often lack any real understanding of what they are talking about.  Take the subject of money as an example.  Money can seem quite complex and “complicated” – but only if it is made to seem that way.  The basics of money are really pretty simple.

Money is a medium of exchange.  Money is an idea backed by confidence.  It isn’t a piece of paper – but it can be.  It isn’t a credit card, but it can be a credit card.  It is an idea backed by confidence.  I totally trust in your word that you will give me the exchange you say you will.  That is all it ever was, is, or will be.  Money is an idea backed by confidence.  If we lived in a society where the exchange was “direct” – I’ll give you four chickens and a box of oranges for your young calf, it would be impossible to have “inflation” or a “collapse of the system”.  If the people who control the money supply did what they are actually supposed to do (allow an increase of “money” that matches an increase in production) we would not ever have a “financial crisis”.

Money is a medium of exchange.  Something for something.  Dentists exchange a service for money.  So do Realtors, plumbers, brick layers, etc.  Entertainers exchange a valuable smile or an entertained feeling of some sort.  General Motors and BMW exchange automobiles.  An exchange would always be in the category of a product or service of some kind.  Trouble only enters in when the exchange is out.  The something for something factor isn’t present: short selling, hedge funds, futures trading and of course, most investment banking.  There are people who work night and day to take the necessary, simple concepts of money and deliberately make them so complex that even the other “financial professionals” don’t quite understand them.  Nice work.  For a criminal.

There is an endless sea of “data” on the subject of finance.  There are really only a few important fundamentals.  Anyone who had the well being of his fellows in mind wouldn’t work to make a simple subject incomprehensible to everyone else.  The current mess didn’t just happen.  It wasn’t an “accident”.   It was engineered and created by Wall Street types.  Every single one of them who had a hand in this took money from everyone else – with no exchange.  The inflation alone that will result from these actions will make most of the world’s money less valuable.  And now some of the very people who stood by while it was happening – seemingly asleep – will take credit for “fixing things”.

The good news is the sun will still come up tomorrow.  Regardless of the government and media gibberish, this isn’t “the end”.  I’m pretty sure the earth will continue to spin on it’s axis.

Russell has been an Associate Broker with John Hall & Associates since 1978 and ranks in the top 1% of all agents in the U.S. Most recently The Wall Street Journal recognized the Top 200 Agents in America, awarding Russell # 25 for number of units sold. Russell has been featured in many books such as, "The Billion Dollar Agent" by Steve Kantor and "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" by Gary Keller and has often been a featured speaker for national conventions and routinely speaks at various state and local association conventions. Visit him also at nohasslelisting.com and number1homeagent.com.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Steve Simon

    September 29, 2008 at 6:04 am

    I disagree with a large portion of your post. You have oversimplified an very complex problem and essentially blamed poor communication for the problems we currently face.

    Simple answers to complex problems are often (not all the time, but often) incomplete!

    The subject of “money” is only simple when you are discussing a household budget or some basic rules of good investing.

    It is not simple when you’re speaking about an over leveraged market; which was created by the Clinton era rules and regs that pushed the intstitution towards lending in areas that were suspect, to people that were not qualified in a traditional sense (meaning good payment history, and a saved downpayment ready to placed in the equity column).

    It is not simple whe the above was compounded by a upward spiral of purchase that was fueled by speculation and the desire of many to move towards the safety of real estate (the seeming safe market), after the stock downturns of 9/11.

    The above was made worse by lack of enforcement of secondary market player guidelines being enforced. They (the guidelines) were in place, they were not however enforced. Human resources were stretched thin, in the appraising ranks, and two types of bad appraisals started appearing: those that were bad becasue they were don in violation to the USPSP rules,and those that were bad because they were fraudulant.

    The entire situation was made even worse because the warnings that wer issued went unheeded, this being the case,partly becasue the warning from the administration carried the taint of a very unpopular President attached to them:
    But here are some of the warnings over six or seven years (this from my blog):
    but the attempt to blame the current admiistration for the bailout and crisis is so wrong it is frightening that those that make the comments can believe them.

    Bush begged for reform of FNMA and FHLMC more than a dozen times in 2008 alone. There was a timeline released about his position since 2001 I have placed it below this text:

    2001

    April:The Administration’s FY02 budget declares that the size of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is “a potential problem,” because “financial trouble of a large GSE could cause strong repercussions in financial markets, affecting Federally insured entities and economic activity.”

    2002

    May:The President calls for the disclosure and corporate governance principles contained in his 10-point plan for corporate responsibility to apply to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (OMB Prompt Letter to OFHEO, 5/29/02)

    2003

    January: Freddie Mac announces it has to restate financial results for the previous three years.

    February:The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) releases a report explaining that “although investors perceive an implicit Federal guarantee of [GSE] obligations,” “the government has provided no explicit legal backing for them.” As a consequence, unexpected problems at a GSE could immediately spread into financial sectors beyond the housing market. (”Systemic Risk: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Role of OFHEO,” OFHEO Report, 2/4/03) Read the rest of this entry »

    Russell I could go on, but I think you get the point. Your statement about a true expert can simplify anything is simply wrong… Complex problems very often are the result of mutliple factors weighing against something. The combination of their effect is sometimes extremely diffcult to overcome, and not easily explained.
    Just my thoughts:)

  2. Laura Cannon

    September 29, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Steve, -I agree with your point that sometimes big problems are complex and need to be respected as such; however, I am not sure that you yourself respected the complexity of the stated problem.

    Your exculpatory remarks about the Bush administration and your critical remarks of the Clinton administration are simplistic at best and more likely misleading. For one, you forget that the Bush administration has been managing or mismanaging monetary policy for EIGHT years. If, and I would stress the “if” here, the Clinton policies were problematic eight years ago, there was time and, for a while the necessary cooperation with a Republican Congress, to pass legislation to correct those policy problems.

    “Begging” for reform is hardly strong leadership. Your time-line of the Bush administration’s actions to avoid our current economic collapse is unconvincing given the complexity of what preceded our current economic problems and the actions that were NOT taken. Even Bush’s Treasury Secretary Paulson admits that regulations have been “primitive” and completely inadequate for the sophisticated markets we inhabit today.

    Truth be told, I am not sure the Clinton or Bush administrations had the grit or foresight to slow down what seemed to be economic prosperity. The will to curb what seemed to be growth was absent from both parties. It may have been willful ignorance, but I think it was more likely simply ignorance. Both parties and most economists are genuinely surprised by the extent of this downturn. A major factor in the sting of this blow is just how unforeseen it was.

  3. Steve Simon

    September 29, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    What a twister:)
    I am not a lover of Bush nor a hater of Obama or Clinton. My response was and remains spot on,
    “Complex problems that are treated with simple solutions; the solultion will usually be found to be lacking.”
    You wrote in response to that:
    “Steve, -I agree with your point that sometimes big problems are complex and need to be respected as such…”
    After that you went on a rant leaning a little to the left:)
    Just because you are in the Oval Office, that does mean you get what you want either.
    This man made mistakes (Bush), so will the next and Congress will be there to make them larger.
    My response was not about the monetary trouble it was about the post “Simplicity”. I used some information to support my point to that end, nothing more…
    It wasn’t my timeline it was the White House’s…
    Also the ignorance you describe, simply and willful, have and will be in abundance anytime there is a significant problem.
    Again these are my thoughts on Simple solutions being inadequate for complex problems:)

  4. Steve Simon

    September 29, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Response to Ms. Cannon,

    I’m betting you were not old enought to care (or even born) when the real seed of the money trouble was planted:

    Jimmy Carter in the late seventies approved the CRA, (the Community Reinvestment Act).
    FNMA and FHLMC got the message; “Make loans to minorities”.

    Bill Clinton rewrote the rules, again there were warnings in 1994 (but you don’t seen to like it when I post them 🙂 He, by this action turned the two players into the half government half private giants that we are seeing in trouble today.

    The rule changes were the “planted seeds” of this crash.

    For the record, I think the intent was good. It’s just that rarely does good come of playing with the free flow of the free enterprise system.
    Bill Clinton’s National Homeownership Strategy, widened Carter original Act in ways that were never proposed in the begining.
    Robert Rubin rewrote the rules in 1995…
    This is where it started…

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Business Marketing

Google Analytics will now filter out bot traffic

(BUSINESS NEWS) Bender won’t be happy that Google Analytics will now automatically remove bot traffic from your results, but it’ll help your business.

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In the competitive, busy world of online content, Google Analytics can help businesses and online publications deliver what their audience and consumers want. Now Google is finally taking the step of filtering out bot traffic in your Google Analytics reporting. This is excellent news!

In the world of websites, online news sites, blogs, and social media, bots are the bane of our existence. In their finest form, they are the electronic equivalent of junk mail. At their worst, they can carry malicious malware and viruses to your site and computer. They can even flood the internet with unfounded rumors that can have an impact on people’s opinions–stirring the political pot or lending misleading numbers to drive unfounded rumors, such as wearing a mask is dangerous. No it’s not! Chalk that nonsense up to bots and crackpots.

For businesses that rely on Google Analytics to determine what content is not only reaching but also resonating with potential customers, filtering out the bot traffic is crucial to determining the best course of action. Bots skew the data and therefore, end up costing businesses money.

Bots set up for malicious purposes crawl the internet looking for certain information or user behaviors. Bad bots can steal copyrighted content and give it to a competitor. Having identical copies on two sites hurts your site and can dink your SEO ranking. However, good bots can seek out duplicate content and other copyright infringements, so the original content creator can report them.

However, it is important for companies and content creators to know if their content is actually reaching real live humans. To this end, Google will start filtering out bot traffic automatically. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) actually provides an International Spiders and Bots list, through which Google can more easily identify bots. They use the list and their own internal research to seek out bots in action, crawling through the internet and confusing things.

Google says the bot traffic will be automatically filtered out of the Google Analytics results–users don’t have the choice. Some may argue there is a good reason to see all of the data, including bots. Many businesses and online publications, though, will be relieved to have a much clearer vision of what content genuinely appeals to humans, to readers and potential customers. It is a welcomed advancement.

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Business Marketing

Opportunity Zones: A chance to do good

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Opportunity zones offer a chance to breathe new life into economically-distressed communities.

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opportunity zones

Opportunity Zones are a beautiful mechanism for growing communities that are struggling, but some critics have put this process in a negative light. The following is an expert’s perspective on just this topic.

Jim White, PhD is Chairman and CEO of Post Harvest Technologies, Inc. and Growers Ice Company, Inc., Founder and CEO of PHT Opportunity Fund LP, and Founder and President of JL White International, LLC. His new book is a heartfelt rallying cry for investors: Opportunity Investing: How to Revitalize Urban and Rural Communities with Opportunity Funds, launched March 31, 2020.

Dr. White holds a B.S. in civil engineering, an MBA, and a doctorate in psychology and organizational behavior. He acquires struggling businesses to revive and develop them into profitable enterprises using his business turnaround strategy.

In his own words below:

BY JIM WHITE, PHD

Every investment vehicle has a twist some folks don’t like. Real estate, stock options, offshore tax havens, and even charitable gifting can be criticized for certain loopholes.

Likewise, some detractors have pointed to opportunity zones, a newer investment vehicle unveiled in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017. This bold, bipartisan plan allows for private investment capital to be channeled into some of the most distressed communities in the nation, serving the struggling residents and the investors alike.

Personally, I believe it is one of the noblest initiatives to emerge from Washington in years.

I grew up in a sharecropper cabin in what would have been an opportunity zone in Salem, South Carolina. What would an influx of investment dollars have meant to my low-income community? More and better-paying jobs to offset unemployment. People relocating to my town for those jobs, reversing population decline and increasing real estate values. New life breathed into local businesses. The increased tax revenues could have helped improve failing infrastructure. Social challenges, like crime and drug use, could have decreased. Better resources for my family and our neighbors, such as health care and education, would have emerged.

Today, there are nearly 8,800 distressed communities dotting the country that have been identified as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). These neighborhoods were designated from census tracks, treasury, and state leaders as communities that would benefit from an influx of investment dollars directed through Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs) to reinvigorate businesses, rebuild infrastructure and bolster residents.

As our economy continues to falter, more and more businesses file Chapter 11 and unemployment soars under COVID-19, I believe we are heading toward a painful expansion in designated opportunity zones. Even with the latest round of CARES stimulus money many people will have no way to rebound from this crisis.

One of the unexpected consequences of the coronavirus quarantine is that many businesses are discovering that, in reality, they can succeed through working remotely. This success is a double edged sword, meaning that if a business can thrive with employees working offsite then commercial real estate will suffer. And when companies no longer require brick-and-mortar locations, a local domino effect ensues; ancillary businesses, from cafés to gyms to print shops in and around a commercial office environment will subsequently close. The ripples will be felt through many other industries, including construction, transportation, energy, and retail.

Qualified Opportunity Zones and Qualified Opportunity Funds are instruments that can help stop a downward spiral. When a sponsor is able to present a project that meets the objectives of the QOZ initiative, both the QOZ and the investors benefit. That’s a win!

And, it’s not only urban centers that benefit from investment dollars. Forty percent of opportunity zones are rural. Even with often plentiful food, water, energy and other natural resources, deep poverty exists, and too many of America’s 60 million rural residents lack access to education and healthcare. A declining population often goes hand in hand with failing infrastructure as tax money for repairs dwindles. Many households lack broadband, something the vast majority of Americans take for granted.

Despite the challenges, rural residents are often surprisingly resilient and resourceful. According to The Hill (“Rural America has opportunity zones too”), rural residents create self-employment opportunities at a slightly higher rate than the national average. Their challenge is to connect with investors and access funding, more of which is directed to small business investment on the coasts.

In fact, many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t know about Qualified Opportunity Funds. If a business is located in an opportunity zone it is eligible for direct funding by reaching out to the QOFs with a specific request for funding.

More than any investment plan that’s come before, I believe opportunity zones have the greatest capacity for positive social and economic impact. Spread out over many communities, these investments can help our nation flourish as a whole.

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Business Marketing

Gloves that translate sign language in real time

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new wearable tech translates American Sign Language into audible English in real time.

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Advancements in technology never cease to amaze. The same is true right this moment as a new technology has been released that helps translate American Sign Language (ASL) signs into spoken English in real time.

This technology comes in the form of a hand glove – similar looking on the front side to what one would wear in the winter, but much more advanced when in view of the palm. The palm side of the glove contains sensors on the wearer to identify each word, phrase, or letter that they form via ASL, and is then translated into audible English via an app that coincides with the glove.

This is all done in real time and allows for instant communication without the need for a human translator. The signals are translated at a rate of one word per second.

The project was developed by scientists at UCLA. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said lead researcher Jun Chen.

The hope is to make communication easier for those who rely on ASL, and to help those unfamiliar with ASL adapt to the signs. It is thought that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States use ASL. As of now, the glove does not translate British Sign Language – the other form a sign language that utilizes English.

According to CNN, the researchers also added adhesive sensors to the faces of people used to test the device — between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths — to capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language. However, this facet of the technology is not loved by all.

“The tech is redundant because deaf signers already make extensive use of text-to-speech or text translation software on their phones, or simply write with pen and paper, or even gesture clearly,” said Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf post-doctoral researcher from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London. “There is nothing wrong with these forms of communication.”

What are your thoughts on this advancement? Comment below!

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