August 2008

The dreaded “R” word – recession – has been dominating business headlines for months now. More and more economists are predicting bleak economic conditions and weak job growth in the coming months.

If you get laid off, you can only hope you saw the writing on the wall long before your company announced its cuts. You can only hope you leave with an impressive work history, great recommendations, and updated skills. You can only hope.

Unfortunately, not everyone is so prepared when the boss delivers a pink slip.

Here are some things you can do starting today — whether you think you face a layoff or not — to keep yourself relevant on the job:

Act as if your job is always on the line, even if you’re still on the company payroll. Strive to make yourself more valuable — not just to your current employer, but also to any potential employers you’ll need to win over in the future.

Imagine yourself interviewing for a new position. Can you point to specific ways in which you’ve improved your skills and grown on the job? If so, keep up the good work.

Document your accomplishments. Update your resume regularly to reflect your ever-increasing skills on the job. You can use this information during your performance review and salary negotiations or, should the worst happen, for finding other employment quickly.

If, however, you’ve been coasting in your current position, it’s time to take some initiative. Try these surefire ways to increase your value as an employee:
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So it’s now official, and 80,000 packed into the Denver Broncos’ football stadium in Denver on Thursday were there to see it: Barack Obama is now indisputably the Democratic candidate for the 2008 presidential election campaign, and the first bi-racial man in American history to win the nomination of a major party. The unlikely campaign that began 19 months ago in the freezing winter of Springfield, Illinois had reached and passed its penultimate hurdle.

Senator Obama himself, revelling in the biggest political extravaganza the US has ever seen, seized the opportunity on prime-time, coast-to-coast television to switch gears in campaign strategy – and the nation witnessed non-confrontational Obama morph into combative Obama.

“If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament and judgment to serve as the next commander-in-chief, that’s a debate I’m ready to have,” he roared with the characteristically brilliant, soaring oratory that has stirred so much enthusiasm across the world. “I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first… John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives.”

McCain, meanwhile, also took advantage of the evening to spring a surprise, one-upmanship campaign ad on the nation’s television screens. Oozing supposed sincerity, McCain looked straight into the camera and congratulated his opponent: “Senator Obama, this is truly a good day for America,” he said. “Too often, the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed.” Minutes later, viewers saw an Obama campaign ad featuring a negative personal attack on McCain – all with the overall effect that Mr Nice Guy seemed to have transformed into an attack dog during the course of the evening, while the veteran old toughie McCain had changed into the warm and fuzzy of the two candidates.
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The pace of global oil demand growth should increase next year as rising consumption in emerging markets outweighs declines in developed nations hard hit by the high fuel costs and mounting economic problems. The barrel of crude which sold for $65 in 2007 might soon cost $200.

With such astronomical increase coming on top of a credit crunch, economists are talking seriously about the prospect of world recession and, even the worse, stagflation – the lethal combination of inflation and economic stagnation last seen in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.

We are told it is all due to a world shortage cause by soaring demand for oil in China and India, and that we can expect record prices to continue for eight years.

But is this really the case? Nowhere in the world are people queuing at petrol pumps; there are no power blackouts and no idle tankers are waiting in the Gulf for oil.

On the contrary, oil storage tanks across the world are full, super tankers are queuing at ports to unload and no major oil field is closed. Across the world, 86million barrels of oil are produced every day which at the moment is sufficient, not least because consumption in America – which burns a quarter of the world’s supply every day – is actually declining.

Alarmists also say that the world’s oil supplies have passed their ‘peak’, that the world has consumed half of all its oil and that the remaining 1trillion barrels will be gone by 2025.

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Much has been written and said (and a lot more to come) about the incredible Olympic performance of Michael Phelps. And there’s no question in our minds that he deserves every one of the accolades and then some.

Well, he did it. 8 gold medals in 8 races for Michael Phelps. A truly amazing accomplishment.

And the beautiful thing is that all of us benefit from his performance. Every time Michael stood up on that gold medal platform, he reminded us that anything is possible.

Because he’s an outstanding example of someone who has followed the Universal Laws that always bring success. And you can find the clear evidence of that in some of the media coverage of

In an article about Phelps and his coach, Bob Bowman, NBC Sports reported, “Bowman, who is something of a student of success literature, said a recurring theme of his coaching and direction is that successful people…make a habit of doing things other people aren’t willing to do. And that’s our game here.”

“The difference between successful people and failures is that successful people make a habit of doing the things that failures do not like to do.”

And that’s just one pretty obvious reason for Michael’s success, but there are others…Contrary to what NBC might have you believe, the purpose of these games is not to have you sitting around spending more time on your butt in front of the TV!

The purpose is to get you inspired to go out and reach for YOUR dreams!

Like the Universal Law of Cause and Effect, “the greatest principle in the history of mankind.”


The US is already in a recession and it will be longer as well as deeper than many people expect, US investor Warren Buffett said. Warren Buffett said the economy is still in a recession and unlikely to improve before 2009 but that stocks appear better valued than a year ago.

He said in an interview the US was “already in recession” and added: “Perhaps not in the sense that economists would define it” with two consecutive quarters of negative growth. “But the people are already feeling the effects,” said Buffett, the world’s richest man. “It will be deeper and last longer than many think.”

“You always find out who’s been swimming naked when the tide goes out. We found out that Wall Street has been kind of a nudist beach,” said Buffett, who in March was called the world’s richest person by Forbes magazine.

But that is just part of a market system. And you know, if I had to pick the chances that we are going into a recession, I would say they are fairly significant, but I don’t know anything that you don’t know.

However he said that won’t stop him from investing in selected companies and said he remained interested in well-managed German family-owned companies.

“If the world were falling apart I’d still invest in companies,” he said.

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• You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right.

• We do not view the company itself as the ultimate owner of our business assets but instead view the company as a conduit through which our shareholders own assets.

• When Berkshire buys common stock, we approach the transaction as if we were buying into a private business.

• Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing.

• Never invest in a business you cannot understand.

• Unless you can watch your stock holding decline by 50% without becoming panic-stricken, you should not be in the stock market.

• The critical investment factor is determining the intrinsic value of a business and paying a fair or bargain price.

• Risk can be greatly reduced by concentrating on only a few holdings.

• Stop trying to predict the direction of the stock market, the economy, interest rates, or elections.

• Buy companies with strong histories of profitability and with a dominant business franchise.

• Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful.

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Stock futures pointed to a higher open Monday as investors remained cautiously upbeat about the recent downturn in oil prices, which dipped further below $114 a barrel even as Tropical Storm Fay headed for Florida.

Light, sweet crude slipped 42 cents to $113.35 a barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after rising in earlier trading.

Despite some worries in the market about Fay disrupting supplies from the Gulf of Mexico, oil remains near its lowest levels since early May, thanks to the dollar’s rebound and growing signs that developed economies around the world are slowing. Russia’s statement Monday that its troops have begun withdrawing from the conflict zone in Georgia also appeared to alleviate concerns about supplies from that region.

Dow Jones industrial futures rose 41, or 0.35 percent, to 11,704. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures rose 3.20, or 0.25 percent, to 1,302.90, and Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 7.25, or 0.37 percent, to 1,972.75.

Last week, the Dow finished lower, but the S&P and the Nasdaq composite index ended up.

In earnings news on Monday, Lowe’s Cos. posted a nearly 8 percent drop in second-quarter profit. The results were better than expected, but the home improvement retailer also issued a disappointing outlook.

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Bolstered by falling oil prices and a rising dollar, US stocks could extend their modest gains next week, even in the face of still troubling consumer- and housing-related data.

Wall Street could extend gains next week if financial results from market bellwethers and data suggest the U.S economic slowdown isn’t as dire as once feared.

A slide in energy prices is a welcome boost in an economy hamstrung by the housing slump and mounting mortgage losses in the financial services sector. In the near term, consumers and business should feel some respite as energy costs recede, boosting prospects for a range of market constituents, including airlines, retail, industrial and technology sectors.

Oil’s downward trend helped boost consumer spending slightly in the past month, with crude hitting a three-month low below $114 a barrel on Friday. But its path remains volatile, prompting some investors to remain cautious about the market.

The dollar’s recent jump suggests to some that the health of the US economy could improve. The US economy began weakening before others and now that investors are seeing poor economic data from Europe and Asia, some think the United States is closer to a recovery than others.

“For the past two years, crude has followed the dollar almost lock-step.”

“The strength we’ve seen in the dollar is almost certainly helping bring crude down. At this point, as you move backward, it actually acts as a stimulus on the economy.”

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I read with amazement a story by Gary Simpson . It concerned a couple in their early 30’s from Western Australia who won AUD $793,151.87.

Their lotto dream was realized just two years ago. Lucky people huh?

OK. Nothing too amazing about that – so far. Reading on I was shocked to learn that this story is news now because, despite their massive windfall, this couple had never stopped claiming social security benefits. Greedy huh?

That welfare money is meant to be available to disadvantaged people who are in financial difficulty. Essentially it is “survival” money.

But the story gets worse, much worse…This couple spent ALL that money in just seven weeks! Gone. Vanished. Seven weeks! It hardly seems possible. So, what does that tell you?

The first thing that struck me was how utterly irresponsible this pair was. How do you spend $113,307.41 each week for seven weeks? I have great difficulty comprehending that.

What if this pair had spent just the $93,151.87 having “fun” and put the $700,000 into an interest bearing term deposit for three months at 6.00% interest while they got some decent financial advice? At the end of the three months they would have accumulated another $10,500 to play with (less tax, of course).

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“It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.” If you can grasp this simple advice from Warren Buffett, you should do well as an investor. Sure, there are other investment strategies out there, but Buffett’s approach is both easy to follow and demonstrably successful over a period of more than 50 years. Why try anything else?

For anyone who is not an accountant, annual reports of companies are dull things indeed. Once you know how much money a company has made (and you don’t need the annual report for that), there isn’t anything much that’s worth reading. However, there is one company in the world whose annual report is eagerly awaited for the interesting reading material that it has and that’s the American company Berkshire Hathaway.

The reason? The annual letter to shareholders that is written by the great investor (and Berkshire Hathaway’s Chairman and CEO), Warren Buffett. Buffett is perhaps one of the most respected businessmen of the world. His ideas on business and investing are full of a simple wisdom that would have sounded naive and unworldly had it not been for Buffett’s fantastic track record. Buffett’s 2007 letter, which was released on February 29, is as interesting to read as any of the earlier ones.

The central tenet of Buffett’s investment philosophy is that one should not invest in anything that one does not understand and that one should be unremittingly focused on long-term value. Buffett is also deeply skeptical of financial engineering and ‘innovative’ financial instruments. In today’s situation, when volatility rules and people are investing day-to-day and sometimes hour-to-hour, it’s worthwhile to take a cool look at what people like Warren Buffett have achieved and how they’ve achieved it.

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