Archive for the ‘financial’ Category

 

 

 

 

Louisiana_race.jpg

FILE: Undated: State Sen. Neil Riser, left, and Vance McAllister in photos provided by their campaigns, in Louisiana.

Vance McAllister, a political newcomer with the backing of the popular “Duck Dynasty” TV family, was elected as Louisiana’s newest member of Congress Saturday night.

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website, McAllister led establishment candidate Neil Riser 59.7 percent to 40.3 percent — a difference of over 17,500 votes — with 976 of a possible 981 precincts reporting.

McAllister advanced to this weekend’s election to face off against Riser after an October contest with more than a dozen other candidates from both political parties — in what is known as a “jungle primary.”

The seat in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District was left open when GOP Rep. Rodney Alexander resigned this summer to take a Cabinet post in GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.

The largely rural district along the Mississippi River delta is dotted with farmland and plagued by poverty. The 5th District covers all or part of 24 parishes, from northeast and central Louisiana into southeastern parishes bordering Mississippi.

In last month’s election, Riser finished ahead of McAllister, taking 33 percent of the vote compared to 18 percent. But neither got the 50 percent needed to be declared the outright winner.

Many GOP races since 2010 have in some form been a Tea Party-vs.-establishment candidate showdown.

However, Riser doubled as both the establishment candidate and Tea Party favorite, promoting his experience but promising strident opposition to President Obama.

McAllister, meanwhile, embraced his outsider status, complete with an endorsement from his close friend Phil Robertson, the patriarch of television’s hit series “Duck Dynasty.” McAllister ran as the more measured pragmatist, criticizing Washington gridlock and hyper-partisanship, particularly on Obama’s health care law.

“Plain and simple, this was Riser’s election to lose. Riser was the favorite going into the evening. He had the dollars. He had the endorsement of the Republican establishment. He had a strong showing in the primary. Yet, he lost it,” Joshua Stockley, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, told the Associated Press.

An ally of Jindal, Riser had his campaign up and running almost immediately after Alexander announced his resignation in September. The timing prompted cries of favoritism, though Jindal, Alexander and Riser deny any collusion.

Riser touted his decades-long experience as a businessman in the funeral industry while arguing his insider experience has led to significant legislative accomplishments such as helping get a state constitutional amendment passed that strengthened gun rights.

“I see a very clear distinction in the fact that I’ve made the votes,” Riser said. “These aren’t just talking points for me.”

He was endorsed by the Tea Party of Louisiana and FreedomWorks, a Tea Party-aligned national political action group.

Conservative activists said it’s McAllister, who’s never held public office and noted during the campaign that he’d never even visited Washington, that they worry would be the go-along-to-get-along congressman who isn’t conservative enough.

McAllister, who spent at least $800,000 of his own money on his campaign, according to the Federal Election Comission, countered eagerly with his newcomer status.

“I am not part of the establishment; I’m just part of the district,” he said.

When Robertson endorsed his friend, he explained that McAllister has “the least political experience.”

Despite that profile, McAllister didn’t push the “blow the whole place up” mantra that some GOP primary candidates have offered in similar conservative enclaves around the country.

While he is critical of the atmosphere in Washington, he doesn’t blame it exclusively on Obama. He also points a finger at House Republicans’ 40-plus votes to repeal Obama’s health insurance overhaul.

“I will vote to repeal it if there’s a vote right now today,” he said in a recent debate.

“But the truth of the matter is you stand on a platform and pander for votes on something that can’t be repealed,” he told Riser.

McAllister says Republicans should show the president respect and that the best course on health care is to work on improving Obama’s signature law since he was re-elected and Democrats still control the Senate.

Both candidates described themselves as conservatives – opposing abortion, favoring strong gun rights and criticizing Obama’s policies generally. Both criticize the levels of federal spending and debt.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of difference in the policy, per se, because we’re both true conservatives both fiscally and socially,” McAllister said.

McAllister will take office in time to vote on the next round of budget resolutions in January and, almost certainly, a vote soon after on whether to raise the nation’s borrowing limit. Those votes were set up by an October deal to end a partial government shutdown driven by GOP opposition to the health care law.

Riser said he opposes efforts to raise the debt ceiling, saying spending should be cut instead. McAllister wasn’t so absolute. He conceded he’d be willing to raise the debt ceiling if the increase was coupled with federal spending cuts and a long-term deficit reduction plan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/11/17/louisiana-voters-pick-between-two-republicans-to-fill-open-congressional-seat/

Advertisements


Fewer than 50,000 Americans have thus far bought a health-care plan on the problem-plagued ObamaCare website according to an insurance industry report, representing only a fraction of the half-million enrollees the administration apparently wanted the first month.

The number was reported first Monday by The Wall Street and confirmed by Fox News, which was told the final reporting day was Nov. 3.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a prompt response, saying officials could not confirm the numbers.

“We have always anticipated that initial enrollment numbers would be low and increase over time,” said agency spokeswoman Joanne Peters. “And, as we have said, the problems with the website will cause the numbers to be lower than initially anticipated.”

Healthcare.gov went live Oct. 1 and was immediately plagued with such problems as slow response time, volume-induced crashes and supplying incorrect information.

Official have since called in private technical experts and have taken the site off line in non-peak hours to perform maintenance and improve the situation.

The federal site handles insurance enrollment for 36 states without their own sites.

The administration has set a goal of signing up seven million Americans for insurance by next March, when open enrollment ends.

The Journal reported the number of enrollees thus far could be as low as 40,000 and  that the administration’s goal of 500,000 enrollees in October is based on an internal memo cited last week by Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp.

The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said in a statement the low numbers are not surprising because of the website’s problems.

“Whether it’s higher costs, fewer choices or simply website glitches, it’s becoming more clear with each passing day that this law isn’t ready for prime time and should be delayed,” Hatch said.

I coined a phrase to define this world we live in where everyone has an opinion and there are a multitude of ways to express that opinion. I call it, “The Feedback Society.”

Whether on a consumer review site like Yelp; in the ‘comments’ section of an online publication; or something as simple as calling your congressperson, it’s clear that everyone has an opinion and they are eager to share it with as many people as possible.

The vast majority of these are anonymous postings—or as I like to tell my celebrity clients, “Writing on a bathroom wall.” I actively discourage them from reading it knowing that they can be toxic, mean-spirited and just plain hurtful. As their representative I do take into account the whole of the feedback, so I have an idea of how a story is being received.

Certainly a public relations person is tasked with presenting a client to the public, but equally important is letting the client know what kind of environment they are stepping into and how their news is being received.

President Obama has access to some of the most sophisticated opinion analysts in the world. And while he can certainly take heart in the fact that his own approval rating held steady at about 44 percent during the government shutdown while Republicans were plummeting; it is equally clear that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has been a real shit show.

His problems didn’t begin with the rollout; they began with a lame effort at selling Obamacare to the American people. His lack of clear targeted messaging and inability to get people behind it at the grass roots level made it easy prey for his political opponents.

Even people who clearly stood to benefit from provisions in the act expressed their hatred for it. His own ham-handed PR rollout was further denigrated by the opposition who took, and still take, every opportunity to demonize the law and its provisions.

Despite losing the PR battle, POTUS won the war. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. It has the added bonus of being vetted by the U.S. Supreme Court and found lawful.

The official rollout of the Affordable Care Act coincided with the shutdown of the U.S. government by Congress on October 1. Defunding Obamacare was the major incentive for shutting down the government and, ironically, opposition to the shutdown made the act more popular than it had been.

What was clear from the beginning of the rollout was that the online systems to handle a massive rollout of complicated and sophisticated data was just not in place and the system crashed.

Despite multiple news reports that 476,000 Americans have applied for the coverage, no one seems to have access to accurate information. Additionally, this bill was, in part, designed to simplify the health care coverage process.

The inability of the government to handle this system supported the opponents’ argument that it’s just too big and complicated for the government to handle and would be better dealt with by private industry.

On Monday, President Obama held a news conference, which some referred to as an ‘infomercial,’ to discuss the state of the law.

To his credit, he didn’t sugarcoat the problems and expressed his own believable and apparent frustration with the technical aspects of the rollout.

Not surprisingly, his political opponents are using the glitches to heir own advantage. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell tweeted that a visit to the Obamacare website made a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles seem pleasant.

While millions stand to benefit from the provisions of Obamacare, the system is dependent on people, indeed millions of people, signing up for the system. When the system designed to manage that doesn’t work, the result is chaos, frustration and a huge political opportunity for opponents.

And if The Affordable Care Act cannot attract the critical mass it needs to make the numbers work, it could be a very costly program.

I’m glad the President owned the problem. But what’s more important is that he owns the solution. Because, unless he gets an effective and efficient system in place to access the new provisions, The Affordable Care Act and the benefits possible to tens of millions of uninsured Americans will go down as his greatest folly and a huge failure for any future government program that dares to think big.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

By Tim Fernholz @timfernholz October 11, 2013

JP Morgan devoted $9.3 billion to legal expenses last quarter, driving its net loss of $380 million.  Its legal troubles took up 39% of its total revenue in the same period, by far the company’s largest single expense.

+

 

That’s right: The largest bank in the United States spends more money fighting and paying off legal and regulatory challenges than it does paying its staff, buying securities or paying rent on its 5,600 Chase retail bank branches.

+

 

What does your largest expense say about your business? Ideally, the biggest cost should get at the heart of what the firm does. Goldman Sachs’ largest expense was compensation and benefits for its (in)famous talent. Apple’s largest expense in its most recent quarterly report was on sales, largely new stores and employees. General Motors’ largest expense is building cars.

+

 

For the first time, the bank revealed its total expenditures on legal costs. Since 2010, JP Morgan has devoted $31 billion to legal problems, spending $8 billion on settlements and reserving $23 billion for future costs. That’s almost half of its net earnings ($57.5 billion) in the same period, keeping in mind some of those reserves can be returned to stockholders if settlements and legal fees turn out to be less than expected. The exhaustive list of all the civil and criminal investigations JP Morgan is dealing with—from Libor to the London Whale to the Madoff ponzi scheme—could lead to the largest bank fine in history, some $11 billion. That would be on top of the the $3.7 billion the company has already paid this year. Settlement talks are ongoing.

+

 

The bank avoided reporting losses of $932 million by saving $542 million less this quarter to cover the costs of future defaulted loans. This reflects an improving US economy—fewer people are defaulting on loans—but it also reflects a scramble at the bank to cover the costs of its near-constant run-ins with regulators and prosecutors. Those are costs its normal businesses just can’t cover. The financial industry has been more than happy to overlook JP Morgan’s law-breaking under Jamie Dimon as long as it has been profitable, but it may not take too many quarters of losses to change that tune.

Sourcehttp://qz.com/134534/jp-morgan-is-spending-more-on-fines-and-lawyers-than-on-employee-salaries/

There are times when you want other people to act or think a certain way – namely, the way you think and act. There’s an art to persuasion that begins with a few simple rules. The first comes from Benjamin Franklin: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” This would seem like a basic truth, but it gets ignored all the time. Think back on the times when someone persuaded you to go along with something that you didn’t really believe in. Years can pass, and still you will be skeptical or resentful about being persuaded against your will.

There is really only one secret to changing other people’s minds, but it’s a big one: Follow practical psychology. If you heed this advice, you will get better at persuading and influencing people over the years. On the other hand, if you ignore or sidestep psychology, you will find yourself with less and less influence as time passes. Here are five ways to put practical psychology to work that you may have overlooked or not known about. Each way comes with a tactic you definitely shouldn’t try, since it’s proven not to work.

1. Be sincere and truthful. Don’t be manipulative.

2. Appeal to what someone else already believes. Don’t impose your own belief system.

3. Be aware of the other person’s blind spots. Don’t assume they are open-minded.

4. In general, persuade through reason, not emotion. Don’t assume that emotions aren’t in play, however.

5. Make the other person feel right. Don’t make them feel wrong.

These are all effective ways to change someone else’s mind, but the tricky part is that if any one of them goes wrong, the others won’t be of much use. If you’re a woman applying for a job and the interviewer is dead set on hiring a man, nothing else will matter – blind spots, prejudice, and ingrained biases are among the hardest things to overcome. On the other hand, a really skillful use of practical psychology might get you the job, especially if you can make him feel right about his decision.

Let’s consider each of the five points a bit further.

1. Be sincere and truthful. Don’t be manipulative.

You can’t sell other people on something you don’t actually believe in. That’s why infomercials on late-night television do everything they can to persuade you of their honesty. Testimonials, authority figures, before and after photos, and research data are called upon to make the viewer believe that they aren’t simply watching a commercial, even though they are. We shut out commercials instinctively because we know from experience that they are manipulative and insincere. We also put up our guard when a salesman says, “I really believe in this product.” The upshot is that you shouldn’t try to be a master manipulator. It only works on weak-willed people, and in the end they are fickle allies. Rely on your listener’s natural ability to detect sincerity.

2. Appeal to what someone else already believes. Don’t impose your own belief system.

People identify with their beliefs. If you’ve ever slammed the door when someone tries to offer you a religious pamphlet, or had the door slammed in your face when you went canvassing for a political party, the truth of this point will be obvious. In a different world beliefs would be flexible and open to change, but that world isn’t at hand. So you need to know what someone else really, truly believes. With that knowledge at hand, you can align yourself with their beliefs. Without that knowledge, you are throwing darts at a brick wall. If you try instead to impose your own beliefs, the other person will feel that you are making him wrong, and immediate shutdown follows.

3. Be aware of the other person’s blind spots. Don’t assume they are open-minded.

A blind spot is a fixed opinion that is so strong, the person shuts out any input to the contrary. It’s the supreme example of rigid thinking. If you are self-aware, you know that you have your own blind spots – there are certain things you simply can’t stand or that bring out your most stubborn reactions. There are also positive blind spots, as when a mother feels that her beloved child can do no wrong. No one announces their blind spots, so you have to feel them out. Is the other person balking, contradicting you, trying to change the subject, crossing his arms over his chest? Look for sure signs of resistance, and you will generally be hitting close to another person’s blind spots. It seems discouraging that almost no one has an open mind, but it’s a fact of practical psychology that must be considered. Your task is to avoid sensitive topics and to appeal to the part of your listener that wants to agree with you.

4. In general, persuade through reason, not emotion. Don’t assume that emotions aren’t in play, however.

One of the most confusing aspects of persuasion has to do with being reasonable. Everyone thinks they are, and decision-making is supposed to be rational. Yet psychological research has shown time and again that emotions cannot be separated from the choices we make. Therefore, should you appeal to someone else’s emotions? Unless you have a personal relationship, the answer is generally no. You risk insulting their intelligence or coming off as being manipulative. To be persuasive, you must argue rationally while always monitoring the emotional atmosphere. (It’s worth noting too that competitive personalities regard a show of emotion as a sign of weakness – with them, you must muster all the rational reasons you can.) Some people can be persuaded by a show of emotion, but if you look a bit deeper, they either wanted to be persuaded or agreed with you in the first place – think of the cheers at political rallies for a speech that would be greeted coldly if it was delivered to the other political party.

5. Make the other person feel right. Don’t make them feel wrong.

This point might win the prize for what gets ignored most often. Anytime you bully somebody, lord it over them, use your position of authority, or act superior, you are making that person feel wrong. We all feel wrong when we are judged against. We feel right when we are accepted, understood, appreciated, and approved of. (I’ve met at least one hugely successful executive who built his entire career on making other people feel that they were the most important person in the room.) If you make someone else feel accepted, you have established a genuine bond, at which point they will lower their defenses. If you push someone away instead by making them feel wrong, their defenses will turn twice as strong.
These five points are really just elaborations on Ben Franklin’s aphorism, but they are worth learning and testing out if you want to be successful at getting others to change their minds.

Social Networks and The Global Brain | The RABBIT HOLE with Deepak Chopra

Courtesy of YouTube/The Chopra Well

Aspiration is the greatest ally anyone can have in their rise to success. It gives “you” a reason to move forward despite obstacles and setbacks. But why put “you” in quotation marks? Because there is more than one you to consider. Human beings have divided natures. As pointed out by Plato two millennia ago when he compared the soul to a chariot being pulled upward by a white horse and downward by a black horse. Depending on which horse you encourage, your personal fate is in your hands.

Setting aside a loaded word like soul, everyone has a choice to write their own story. In fact, every decision you make represents a stroke of the pen, so to speak, leading the main character – “you” – to the next stage of the narrative. “You” therefore is a creation. No one has a fixed identity, one bestowed at birth or in early childhood. Each person is open to revision as their story unfolds.

When you step back and ask “Who am I?” the author is looking at his creation. The process of building a self is a creative act. Even if you blame the outside world for your problems, even if you bemoan your bad luck or wish you had a missing X factor to improve your lot (more money, better parents, an Ivy League diploma), these thoughts also become part of your story. Mysteriously, the self is self-created. No one is exempt from this truth.

Which leads us back to aspirations. The “you” that has the greatest chance for success is driven by higher aspirations. The “you” that has no aspirations is very likely to fall short. Look at the difference between them:

Aspirational “You”

– is curious, open-minded, and eager for new experiences

– finds motivation from within

– wants to be self-sufficient

– speaks his own truth

– has inspiring role models

– feels attached to a higher purpose

“You” without aspirations

– looks out for number one and therefore feels insecure

– fears loss and is greedy for gain

– measures itself by external rewards (money, possessions, status, power)

– is reluctant to trust

– takes a defensive and self-protective stance

– has no higher values except self-interest

Even though I’ve described the aspirational “you” as more desirable than the “you” without aspirations, there’s a great deal of social pressure to think the opposite. In a “greed is good” ethos, the value of self-interest gets promoted in two ways. First, it’s supposedly the stance of winners, defined as overachieving, ruthless competitors. Second, if you don’t defend your self-interest, nobody else will. Does anyone want to be idealistic, soft, compliant, and non-competitive?

If you answer no, you are letting externals define your attitude, because there is nothing softabout having aspirations (consult the biographies of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King), and keeping true to your aspirations is the opposite of being compliant. Defining the game as an either-or between winning and losing betrays the complexity of the life stories we all write every day. Moments of winning catch the spotlight. Outside the spotlight are years and decades of challenges, the main challenge being how to build a self that stands for who “you” really are.

In my own experience – and as a teacher of leadership skills – the most successful people are aspirational. They define their success in inner terms. They refuse to be bad actors in both senses of the word – bad at acting the roles assigned to them and bad in their personal behavior. In a society propelled by advertising, mass media, competition, and dynamic change, the temptation to run with the pack is strong, and the pack is always running for external rewards. And the pack gives you an easy identity as “one of us.” For all that, your life story has only one author, and its main character only one source. A “you” without aspirations will never be worthy of the possibilities that are hidden within.

Wellbeing and Visionary Leadership: Deepak Chopra in Mexico

Courtesy of YouTube/The Chopra Well

As the days drag on, the shutdown has deepened public disgust with leaders of our government.

I share the feeling – there’s no doubt that most of this current Congress has got to go – but I also feel something that I don’t think many share, unfortunately, and that’s a sense of optimism.

Last week, I had the chance to talk about the government shutdown on LinkedIn Today with CBS’s Jill Schlesinger andUniversity of Michigan Professor Jeff DeGraff. It was a great conversation.

Here’s what we need to remember: Yes, this Congress is in charge right now but they don’t have the monopoly on leadership.

Right now, there are states and municipalities that are getting it done. (Look at Mayors Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal). They’ve recognized that this is a time where we’re confronting some very thorny problems, none of which has a clean solution. Instead, they’re compromising, innovating, moving forward as best they can with common-sense strategies.

This is the next generation of leadership. They’re earning their chops now for future greatness. A mayor who will become a congresswoman. A state congressman on track for a Senate run. A governor eyeing the presidency.

They’re not hampered or hamstrung by the problem that’s tying so much of Washington up in knots.

They’re willing to be disruptors.

When I talk to people in DC, I’m struck by the slavish adherence to incrementalism. An inch in the right direction is heralded as magnificent progress, even if it’s evidence of massive dysfunction to the rest of the country. Here in Silicon Valley, my colleagues and I see an area that’s ripe for disruption, for exploring big, creative, smart ideas that really could generate momentum. It needs us, though, to believe it can happen and to work for it, whether it’s voting for the right leaders, lobbying for our passions, writing letters and blogs, etc.

The shutdown will end – as Dr. DeGraff pointed out, there will be some kind of face-saving deal.

In the meantime, look to Nov. 5 and remember that we need daring disruption sooner, not later, even at the local level.

What ideas do you wish our leaders would implement?