Some of Michael Najjar’s images transport people to the precarious heights of the Andes mountain range in Argentina. Others focus attention on the severe cliffs over which a mountain can slide.
Using photographs taken during his climb to the summit of Mount Aconcagua, Najjar used the computer to manipulate the images of surrounding mountain ranges to track the paths of the world’s stock market indexes over the past three decades.
Inspired by his ongoing interest in technology, he attempted to evoke the impact of algorithmic trading on stocks and options trading, which carves out some market peaks and valleys. “I wanted to do something extremely physical to rematerialize what has become invisible,” Najjar said in a recent telephone interview from his Berlin studio.
Before Squared Away reveals which photograph the artist himself believes depicts Europe’s precarious financial and economic situation, click here to make your own decision. …Learn More
Newlyweds beware: The longer you are married, the more you will argue about money.
U.S. married couples argue an average of three times per month about their joint finances. But once couples hit their mid-40s, these spats increase to four times per month, according to a telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,005 adults by the American Institute of CPAs.
“The stakes are higher” for older couples with more money in savings, said Kelley Long, a member of the Institute’s financial literacy commission. She said middle-aged couples also argue fiercely about steep financial obligations, such as how to pay for the children’s college.
What does all this emotional “baggage” have to do with newlywed bliss? … Learn More
More than one in four Americans revealed that they put their “mad money” in the freezer.
The freezer strategy was more popular than socks and mattresses, according to a Marist College survey last month of more than 1,000 people.
More people with college degrees chose the freezer than did non-college graduates. But the second most popular hiding place – socks at 19 percent – was particularly popular in the Northeast where people own a lot of socks. Third was the proverbial mattress, and more men than women went this route. Wisely, 17 percent knew of “no good place” in the house to hide their mad money.
Several years ago, I put my credit card in a plastic deli container, filled it with water, and froze it. Just once, I was thinking, it’d be nice to get an American Express bill that didn’t break the $500 barrier. (My barrier is higher now.)
I didn’t admit this to anyone at the time, but maybe it’s alright to talk about our quirky financial habits. Apparently, many of us have them.
Unfortunately, Marist did not ask how much this mad money amounts to. Presumably we’re not talking about thousands. Are we? Squared Away readers, where do you put your mad money, if you have any?Learn More
Being a single woman is serious stuff – financially that is.
One website recently published a humorous list of the advantages of being a single woman today. “You don’t have to be worried about not getting a special gift from Him on your special day because there is no Him.” Or: “There is no argument about where or when to go on vacation.” Toilet seats were also mentioned.
This may not amuse 30-something women with serious concerns about whether they’ll marry and have children. But face it: single women of all ages have more difficult money issues than their married friends. When two incomes are coming into the household, a couple shares the rent or mortgage. Fixed expenses can add up over a single woman’s life or during long bouts after, say, divorce.
“Single women are far more at risk,” said Wendy Weiss, a former financial adviser who writes a blog on her website, Hot Flash Financial. “If we make 77 cents on every dollar [men earn], men have 23 percent more discretionary income, and that’s usually the amount we advisers recommend you put away,” she said. Women also live longer and need more money to get through retirement, she said.
Prior to retirement, the rule of thumb is that single people need well more than half, possibly as much as 70 percent, of a childless couple’s combined income to afford the same lifestyle. It is higher for the poor (whose fixed expenses consume more of their total income) and for single mothers (for obvious reasons). …Learn More
The stock market is on a downward jag, reminding us that financial events and products not in our control often determine our well-being. Thriller writer Robert Harris calls the markets an “alien force that slips human control.”
In today’s featured video, a California entrepreneur discusses how complex math, beyond our ability to comprehend, increasingly shapes the financial markets. He’s referring to various developments on Wall Street: the rise of computerized trading; Wall Street firms hiring math and engineering PhDs to design investing strategies; and institutional investors that use formulas to break multibillion-dollar stock trades into smaller transactions to evade detection by their competitors.
These are accomplished using “algorithms,” which are a bit like formulas but are far more complex mathematical progressions. Nobody really understands it, including narrator, Kevin Slavin, an independent tech consultant. And that’s the point.
He explains the mysteries of Wall Street’s “black box” in an simplified and elegant way that will wow viewers as he educates them.
“We’re writing these things we can no longer read,” Slavin said. “We’ve lost the sense of what’s actually happening in this world that we’ve made.” He adds, we are “only starting to make our way” to understanding it.Learn More
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has soared 27 percent since October! These times of strong market gains are the brass ring for a large swath of well-educated, well-off Americans.
But recent academic research on three topics – value investing, the record of individual investors, and the usefulness of investment advisers – raises serious questions about buying individual stocks or actively invested stock funds.
The upshot of this research, it seems, was neatly summed up by Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman’s bestseller, “Thinking, Fast and Slow:” stock picking “is more like rolling the dice than like playing poker.”
The papers are complex (though not difficult to read), so here are synopses and links to them: …Learn More
We know that not enough Americans save for retirement. Behavioral finance professor Shlomo Benartzi devised a way to fix it – quite awhile ago, in fact.
To ease the pain of saving money, Benartzi and economist Richard Thaler designed a now-famous program in which employees can commit to increase their 401(k)s savings when they get a raise.
Saving is painful because it requires sacrifice, but committing to save money that one doesn’t yet have synchs with human psychology. In 1998, Benartzi and Thaler tested their theory on blue-collar workers in a Midwestern manufacturing plant, and it worked.
The key to saving, Benartzi said, is “embarrassingly simple but extremely powerful.”
The finding was nothing short of ginormous, though employer adoption has been modest. David Wray, president of the Plan Sponsor Council of America, estimated that about 10 percent of U.S. employees with 401(k) plans at work have automatic savings increases, typically at raise time. It’s much more common among mega-employers, he said.
If you’ve heard about behavioral economics but haven’t had time to learn what it’s really about, this 15-minute TED video in which Benartzi explains is an excellent start.