Turning Point – Free Trade or Protectionism

free tradeThe debate about free trade versus protective tariffs (taxes) has raged for centuries. However, it has become especially virulent as industrialized countries lose an increasing amount of jobs to emerging nations. Free traders, worried about the possibility of new tariffs to protect native industries, predict a trade apocalypse. Reported by TIME, Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, claimed, “If we start to trigger a round of protectionism, as you saw in the 1930s, it could deepen the world crisis.”
 
Proponents of free trade – including many economists – claim that the benefits of lower prices far outweigh the costs of lower incomes and displaced workers. Professor of Economics Alan Binder, writing in the Library of Economics and Liberty, claims that a country’s wage level depends not upon its trade policy, but its productivity: “As long as American workers remain more skilled and better educated, work with more capital, and use superior technology, they will continue to earn higher wages than their Chinese counterparts.”
 
Opponents of free trade disagree. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has consistently voted against trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He argues that trade agreements have encouraged corporations that seek low-income labor and fewer regulations to close factories and ship jobs overseas. According to the senator on Fox News, “Over the years, we [America] have lost millions of decent-paying jobs. These trade agreements have forced wages down in America so the average worker in America today is working longer hours for lower wages.”
nbsp:
Understanding the history of tariffs and free trade, especially in the United States, is necessary to evaluate the effects of NAFTA and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Two other major trade agreements are also being discussed – The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the China Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) – which could have global ramifications as well.

Tariffs and Free Trade in the 20th Century

By the end of World War I, advocates of high tariffs recognized that tariffs weren’t the most important source of government revenues and so adopted an alternative argument. There was the widespread belief that tariffs benefited the wealthy while raising the cost of goods for other Americans. As a consequence, protectionists justified tariffs primarily as a way to promote employment for citizens of their country. This argument coincided with a growing concern that inexpensive foreign goods would destroy domestic manufacturers and lead to widespread unemployment.
 
After World War I, economic nationalism and protectionism dominated world trade with countries creating new taxes on foreign goods to protect native industries and maintain full employment of their citizens. As the global economy shrank, countries retreated behind the new tariffs and trade blocks to protect native industries until after World War II.
 
Read more. . .

What are Binary Options?

gamblingIn early 2004, 32-year-old Englishman Ashley Revell sold everything he owned – furniture, clothes, car, golf clubs, and his old cricket bat – to raise almost £76,840, or the equivalent of approximately $140,617 in U.S. currency (per the average 2004 exchange rate). On April 11, 2004, Revell walked up to a Las Vegas roulette table and placed his entire fortune on the color red.
 
Roulette, named after the French word meaning “little wheel,” is played with a small ball and a wooden wheel with 38 slots or pockets for the ball to rest in. In American roulette, 18 slots are red with odd numbers, and 18 slots are black with even numbers. Also, two slots are green and marked as “0” and “00.” The game begins when the dealer (croupier) spins the wheel in one direction, then spins the ball in the opposite direction. Winning or losing is based upon the slot in which the ball finally comes to rest.
 
The odds of picking the correct color are 38 to 18, or 47.4%. In other words, Revell’s chance of winning was less than the odds or a single coin flip. Fortunately for him, the call came to rest on a red pocket. Revell won £153,680, doubling his money in less than 20 seconds.
 
According to the Binary Option Brokers Association, online gaming companies had searched for years to find a product that was “easy to trade, highly rewarding, and tied to financial markets.” The solution: Binary options—also known as “all or nothing” or “high-low” options—which give investors an opportunity to play the market similar to sports betting and roulette.
 
Easy to understand, the more popular binary options provide almost instantaneous feedback and gratification. Binary options do not require ownership of the underlying asset, being simply wagers about price direction within a set time. According to CNBC, binary options have become increasingly popular with U.S. investors, despite critics who compare the option to “buying a lottery ticket.”
 
The options, available from European brokers for years, gained SEC approval in 2008. Binary options were first traded in the U.S. on the American Stock Exchange and subsequently by the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE). Today, binary options in the U.S. are primarily traded on the North American Derivatives Exchange (Nadex) or the Cantor Exchange (CX), each regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
 
According to Nadex, 5,000 contracts are traded daily on the exchange, and the popularity of binary trading is growing – volume on Nadex increased 64% in 2016, as the ability to trade minute-to-minute price movements in currencies, commodities, stock indexes, economic events, or the price of Bitcoin is irresistible to some people. Though a wide range of assets are tradeable on regulated exchanges in the U.S., binary options on individual securities are only available with foreign brokers.

Binary Options

Binary options are considered “exotic options” since they differ significantly from the highly regulated standardized call and put options traded on an exchange such as the CBOE, NASDAQ Options Market, or the NYSE Amex Market. Binary options are traded on exchanges and over-the-counter (OTC) around the world, including the United States. A binary option can be viewed as a wager on the direction of the market (or another underlying asset) within predetermined period of time.
 
Read more . . .

5 Keys to Civil Political Discussions with Friends and Family

men-having-political-discussionAccording to Professor Nolan McCarty of Princeton University, it seems that political rancor today has reached heights not seen since Reconstruction after the Civil War. A Stanford University report found that Americans have become increasingly polarized along political party lines, primarily due to “political candidates relying on negative campaigning and partisan news sources serving up vitriolic commentary.” As a consequence, the report concluded that the level of political animus in the American public exceeds racial hostility.
 
Conservative columnist Gerry Feld claims that politics has turned into a “sewer of insults, name-calling and character assassinations like we have never experienced before.” He cited examples of jokes on an MSNBC program about presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s black grandchild and disparaging remarks about former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin’s child with Down’s syndrome.
 
Liberals and conservatives alike are to blame. Wendy Davis, a Democratic candidate for governor of Texas, was called “Abortion Barbie” by a Republic party country chairman and “retard Barbie” by her opponent and eventual winner of the gubernatorial race, Greg Abbott. At the 2013 Missouri State Fair rodeo, a clown wore a Barack Obama mask and was run down by a bull to the delight of much of the crowd. Feld bemoans the undignified ways we treat each other and says “to move forward and be productive, we need to drop disparaging remarks and name-calling.”

Keys to Civil Political Discussions

Political disagreements can end friendships and destroy family relationships. According to a YouGov.com poll, more than one in four respondents (28%) have serious political disagreements with a family member, and more than one-third of those aged 18 to 29 experience political friction.
 
While friends and family have a lot in common, it can be shocking when you uncover political disagreements. Discussions can quickly degenerate into name-calling and hurt feelings. One blogger writes that political discussions can be “down right painful and fill one with such angst,” and another says that “We have to brace ourselves before any political discussions in the family because they get nasty fast.”
 
Family members of former Vice President Dick Cheney (whose daughter Mary Cheney is gay) took their feud over gay marriage publicly to Facebook. Liberal Democrat Melissa Reylek-Robinson, a 34-year-old mother in San Diego, married to a conservative Republican, notes that “Election time is probably the worst time for us. We definitely get into some heated debates.”
&nbsp:
If you want to be sure that partisan politics stay out of your personal relationships, consider these tactics to reduce the heat:
 
Read more . . .

Fractional Ownership for Vacation Homes, Planes & Boats

oceanfront-townhouses-918x516Have you ever dreamed of owning a vacation home in Pebble Beach, California or a mountain château in Aspen, Colorado? Rather than fighting security lines at the airport, perhaps your dream is to drive up to your plane and go wherever you want, whenever you want.
 
Pleasures once thought to be enjoyed only by the very rich – vacation homes, aircraft, and yachts – are possible for more people today. While the expense of ownership always exceeds the cost of renting a luxury residence for a limited period, the benefits of having one’s place—familiarity and convenience—can outweigh financial considerations. The best thing about owning an asset is that it is always there when you want to use it.

Timesharing Is Not Property Ownership

Many confuse collectively owned or fractional share ownership with timesharing. The two are vastly different.
 
In 1974, the Caribbean International Corporation (CIC) offered the first timeshare program in the continental United States. Rather than owning the property itself, interested parties could buy the right to use a one- or two-bedroom condominium in the U.S. Virgin Islands for one week each year. The term of the timeshare agreement was 25 years. Each unit offered 50 one-week shares, with the remaining two weeks each year used for maintenance and repairs.

While critics complained that property sold as timeshares was frequently overpriced, this new financing method proved popular with customers who sought to return to the same site each year. Unfortunately, when sales abuse became common, many countries established regulations over the sale and management of timeshare properties. In the United States, individual states enacted a 10-day cancellation period for any reason applying to new contracts in the event of “buyer’s remorse.”
 
Although the FBI issued a special report in 2012 about timeshare scams, the concept remains popular with consumers. According to the American Resort Development Association, there are currently more than 5,300 resorts in nearly 100 countries owned by more than 9 million timeshare owners today.
 
Read more . . .