2015 will be more expensive
Does your business require shipping, travel, or coffee? That’s too bad – you’re looking at spending more money in 2015, and we hope you’ve budgeted properly. Although gas prices have hit a four-year low and consumers are feeling positively about that, the savings will be made up for elsewhere, we promise.
In your personal life, you should start setting aside some chocolate, bourbon, and bacon (prices are set to spike on those luxuries this year), but for your professional life, you need to brush up on what this year holds for price spikes.
If you breathe and live in America, you probably drink coffee, and if you travel for business, you are a pro at racking up your Starbucks rewards points. The average American worker drinks $20 per week of coffee as of 2013, and prices were expected to drop last year. But they didn’t.
No, Brazil had a nasty drought, and since that’s where the majority of the globe’s coffee comes from, prices went up on brands like Starbucks, Gevalia, Folgers, Maxwell House, and even Dunkin’ Donuts. Further, K-Cup prices by Keurig have already jumped, and Kraft Foods recently announced a 9.0 percent increase for their single-serve K-Cup packs by Maxwell House, McCafe, Gevalia, and Yuban.
2. Shipping costs
In 2015, UPS and FedEx will be increasing prices, implementing a dimensional weight pricing structure, wherein packages of all size are priced based on the amount of space the package occupies as it relates to its weight.
At the end of December, UPS prices rose 4.9 percent for all ground, air, international, and freight services in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.
This week, FedEx prices also rose 4.9 percent for all domestic, import, and export services in America, as well as for FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx Ground services.
Tim Leffel, author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations said, “For hotels, business travel is up and unemployment is down, so rates will continue to tick up.”
Analysts forecast that hotel costs will rise 2.2 percent for international travelers, with a 3.5 percent increase in North American nations alone. Anyone traveling to Latin America should save up – hotel room prices are expected to rise 6.5 percent this year due to a shortage of rooms.
4. Air travel
The American Express Global Business Travel Forecast for 2015 indicates a 6.0 percent increase in prices for short-haul business flights, while the Global Business Travel Association predicts a 2.2 percent increase in prices for business air travel globally, and a 2.5 percent price increase within North America, and a 3.5 percent spike in cost for travel to Latin America.
Expect fewer flight bargains this year as the economy improves. Many are annoyed that gas prices are plummeting, but air travel isn’t following suit, and some are crying foul, but airlines don’t pay for jet fuel tank by tank like consumers do, rather they buy futures and hedge their bets (in this case, it was a good bet – in 2012, there were some bad bets). Jet fuel is expected to fall 17 percent in cost by the end of the year, but that will go toward profits, not bargains for you, friend.
5. Health care
Medical costs are expected to rise a whopping 6.8 percent in 2015, according to PriceWaterhouseCooper which also reports that 85 percent of employers are implementing or considering implementing increases in employee cost-sharing within three years. One in five employers now offer a high-deductible health plan as the only option for employees.
For those insured under the Affordable Care Act that aren’t looking at plan options before the open enrollment period ends on February 15th, a 20 percent increase for health insurance might be coming their way. Further, AARP reports that prescription drug prices will continue rising dramatically.
It’s not all bad news
The truth is that 2015 is going to cost a lot more for companies with traveling teams, but for those staying put, several business expenses are actually expected to go down – cloud storage, smartphones, smartwatches, software, and even many hardware options. So while technologies get less expensive, travel gets more expensive. If only there was a way to travel less and use technology more…
Will China’s new digital currency really compete with the US Dollar?
(BUSINESS FINANCE) It isn’t the first time that China has tried to compete with the dollar, but the release of a digital currency has lead some economists to raise red flags.
For decades the US has been the world standard for foreign trade. As of 2019, 88% of all trades were being backed by that almighty dollar, making it the backbone of the world economy. However, China may be sneaking in something new for digital currency.
In the last few months, over 100k people were “airdropped” cold hard digital currency. This currency came from People’s Bank of China (PBOC), who has created a digital manifestation of the Chinese yuan. This is planned to run concurrently with its paper and coin playmates. Upon initial inspection, they resemble the same structure as Bitcoin and Ethereum. But there’s a major difference here: The Chinese government is the one fronting the money.
The suspected plan behind this is that the government plans to tightly control the value of the digital yuan, which they are known to do with the paper one as well. This would create a unique item within the world of cryptocurrency. Personally, I don’t think that any of this is going to go anywhere soon. Too many people still need hard currency but it does open up a unique aspect of currency that has only just started since debit and credit cards. It gives the government the ability to spy on its cryptocurrency users. Being able to monitor transaction flows can reveal things like tax evasion and spending habits. There is even the possibility of experimenting with expiring cash.
But how does this affect the US? There’s a method that has been used by Americans since WWII called dollar weaponization. The exchange domination allows the US government to monitor how the dollars move across the border. Along with that monitoring they are actually able to freeze people out of global financial products as well. It’s a phenomenal amount of power to hold.
The concern for economists is that the price fixing capabilities of this new currency as well as its backer being an entire countries government could affect everything about the global financial system. Only time will tell how true that turns out to be.
There are a number of possibilities that could come up honestly and they could fall flat on their face unless they put their entire monetary worth behind it. Only time will tell but some economists are already calling for DigiDollars from the American government. Another step into the future.
A tiger shows its stripes: The growth of Tiger Global and their investments
(BUSINESS FINANCE) Tiger Global has been acquiring a load of tech companies – let’s talk about who they have and how they’ve been so successful.
In 2003, Tiger Global was founded by Chase Coleman who began his career at Tiger Management (brilliant name choice). In the ensuing years the investing firm expanded to include private equity and venture investing. Today it’s hitting the charts at $65B with its employees (number at ~100) being the firms’ biggest shareholders.
Earlier this month, Tiger Global raised one of the largest pots of VC money ever recorded, coming in at $6.7B. These came from a list of occurrences and investments.
- Roblox: A sandbox gaming startup, Tiger Global owned 10% when it went public in March and the value is hitting ~$38B+
- Stripe: A fintech firm Tiger Global leaped onto this investment when Stripe announced a $600m rise in value at a $95B monetary evaluation of the company.
- M&A wins: In 2020, 3 portfolio companies (Postmates, Kustomer, & Credit Karma) of Tiger Global were acquired in billion-dollar deals.
The tactics that Tiger Global stands by are well documented in a few different locations. One of the biggest that they push is speed. The deals that fly across their tables are completed in just 3 days, far outpacing other firms. When you are an investment firm hour are a time between success and failure. To keep up with these ideas, they have a pre-emptive approach to startups. Doing thorough research and throwing money at people before they even start looking for it. Knowledge is power and this lets them get their foot in the door faster than anybody else.
Resources and a monstrous war chest are 2 of the other factors that they set their claim to fame on. The numerous portfolio companies have high-priced consultants thrown at them for advice on a regular basis. These consultants just add to the success of the companies and keep things building. Where does this money come from? The stakeholders. The mountainous mounds of money that this firm keeps on hand is matched very few in the world. Scrouge McDuck would be hard pressed to keep up with these guys.
They also keep to long-term holdings as an approach to their methods. Unlike traditional VCs, Tiger Global operates public market hedge funds which provides price stability for startups since it doesn’t have to distribute funds after an IPO, unlike traditional VCs.
In the first quarter of 2021 Tiger Global has closed 60 deals, keeping with their hit the ground sprinting approach. They have bids on a number of different companies already as well (ByteDance, Discord, Hopin, & Coinbase). At least one of these reaches a value into the tens of billions. This company is set to be one of the fastest growing groups in the globe. Who knows where it will stop? Let’s wait and see, or join. Whatever hits your fancy.
India bans cryptocurrency prior to releasing their own
(BUSINESS FINANCE) India is potentially planning to ban cryptocurrency — and instead, they’re planning to introduce their own version of it for purchase.
Owning mainstream cryptocurrency these days is a bit like owning a pair of Crocs: Potentially lucrative (especially if you’re Post Malone), but mostly just weird. A recent report shows that India is planning on adding “illegal” to that list, possibly ahead of launching their own cryptocurrency in place of the banned ones.
The proposed law would also fine anyone found trading—or even simply owning—banned cryptocurrencies in India. Mining and transferring ownership of cryptocurrency would similarly warrant punitive measures.
CNBC notes that this law would be “one of the world’s strictest policies against cryptocurrencies” to date. While some countries have imposed strict laws regarding things like mining and trading cryptocurrency, India would be the first country to make owning it illegal.
Some talk of jail time—including sentences of up to 10 years—for cryptocurrency owners and users was floated by Indian lawmakers back in 2019, but there is no explicit indication that those terms would be present in this rendition of the bill.
To be fair to the lawmakers involved here, the bill wouldn’t be as cut-and-dry as “has bitcoin, gets fined.” According to the CNBC report, people who own cryptocurrency would be able to “liquidate” their earnings for up to six months preceding the bill going into effect. This would theoretically allow investors to hold onto their portfolios for a bit longer before having to cash out.
But that leniency might not matter anyway. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this move could do two dramatic things to the cryptocurrency market: Add yet another niche option for investors, and destabilize every other pre-existing cryptocurrency option—or, at least, make them less stable than they already were.
In fact, the simple introduction and threat of this bill could be enough for the cryptocurrency market to take a nosedive—something that can’t be discounted as a factor in making this decision. Current reports put Indian-owned bitcoin values at roughly $1.4 billion, though, so it’s clear that the bill hasn’t had a deleterious effect at this point.
The fact that India’s central bank has plans to introduce a government-sponsored cryptocurrency of their own cannot be separated from this bill, either. While the official government position is that blockchain is to be trusted while existing cryptocurrencies are eschewed and dismissed as “Ponzi schemes”, it’s clear that at least part of this bill is motivated by a desire to thin out the competition.
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