As a consumer, you’ve probably visited a franchise at least once in the last month. But have you ever thought about owning one? If you’re the entrepreneurial type and looking for a career change or another income stream, it might be worth considering. This kind of business venture allows you to be your own boss and offers more structure than a startup. There are pros and cons to owning a franchise, of course, and some questions to ask yourself before taking the plunge.

Which brand is right for me?
While all franchises follow a similar high-level model, no two businesses are alike. It’s critical to select one that seems truly invested in their franchisees’ success. Ranked lists of the best and worst franchises can shed light on what to look for (e.g., creative marketing) and what to avoid (e.g., high fees).

How can I acquire information?
Once you’ve identified a potential franchise, you’ll want to deepen your understanding of the day-to-day operations and learn all of the ins and outs. Attend a Discovery Day, a soft sales event where you can interact face-to-face with franchisors, ask questions and get a better sense of the brand. And they’ll want to get to know you, as well, before moving forward.

Who can assist me?
Of course, investing in a franchise is a big commitment and life event. When it comes to financial decisions of this scale, it’s wise to consult a business law attorney to review your franchise agreement before you sign. And you’ll want to look at the money side of things with an expert to help you frame your expectations and evaluate how this new business will impact other areas of your financial plan. Think a franchise might be for you? Get in touch.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

No matter how much fun your summer is shaping up to be, it’s no time to put your finances on pause. Take a look at the past six months to gauge how you can adjust your strategic or tactical actions to ensure you’re making steady progress toward your financial goals.

Check In With Your Cash Flow
Is your spending under control, leaving you with a chunk of untouched income each and every month? If not, take a deep dive into your budget to see what your dollars are doing, and tighten that proverbial belt. And make sure your emergency fund is full so you’re not tempted to reach for short-term, high-interest debt when an unexpected need arises.

Look at Long-Term Goal Progress
If your cash flow and emergency fund are in good shape, point that unspent monthly chunk toward larger goals like retirement, kids’ college funds or other investment vehicles. Research has shown that time in the market may be more effective than trying to time the market. Now is an optimal opportunity to diligently and consistently fund investment accounts linked to your long-term goals.

Make Adjustments Based on Life Changes
Have there been any births, deaths, breakups, job promotions or other notable life changes since 2017 began? Milestone events can impact your financial plan and priorities in many ways.

You may need to tweak your insurance coverage, amend your estate planning documents or revisit the beneficiaries listed for your various accounts and policies. Let the appropriate professionals know; they will have the best guidance for each situation, but only if they’re aware of these changes in the first place.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Are you always looking for the latest gadget, or do you prefer to wait and see what stands the test of time? Either way, you’re likely connected to the internet of things whether you know it or not. What exactly does this trendy terminology mean? Here’s an overview to bring you up to speed.

Everyone’s Getting Into It
In a nutshell, the internet of things describes a technological ecosystem of devices — think cars, heart monitors and kitchen appliances — that send and receive data via the internet. This trend is spreading to diverse and surprising industries, including agriculture, retail and transportation, as hardware gets stronger and cheaper.

Less About the Device, More About the Data
Don’t expect to browse the web, stream your favorite TV show or use instant messaging services on these gadgets like you can on your smartphone or computer. Reminder alerts, seamless firmware updates and similar features will appeal to consumers, but the real draw is for manufacturers and other companies. They will benefit from the enormous amount of data that can provide analytics and insight into how people are using the devices, as well as personal data like health-related metrics.

Exciting Pros, Worrisome Cons
Security and privacy are the primary concerns surfacing with the internet of things and for good reason. The extensive data flowing from so many devices poses a logistical issue for IT infrastructure, not to mention the vulnerability to hackers and other cyberattacks.

Staying current with new tech can feel like a full-time hobby, but for those looking to constantly improve and optimize their lives, each year brings further advancements. Just remember to embrace the internet of things and other changes with your eyes wide open.

Vacations allow you to escape the routine of your everyday life. Making the most of your time away from home is up to you. If you’re interested in springing for once-in-a-lifetime hotel accommodations, here are a few unusual options.

Relax in Luxury
Looking to indulge beyond the traditional hotel and continental breakfast? A well-appointed retreat that makes you the focus can help you recharge your mind, body and spirit. One option: the art-centric Hotel Marques de Riscal in northern Spain, which was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and sits on an established vineyard of the same name.

Or you can add a little adventure to your luxury getaway. At Oberoi Vanyavilas in Ranthambore, India, guests can sip champagne from the observation tower and spot royal Bengal tigers at a nearby watering hole, along with other indigenous wildlife.

Travel off the Beaten Path
If a real escape sounds like music to your ears, consider a remote destination where you can avoid real-world interruptions. How about a quiet island retreat off the east coast of Africa? The Manta Resort on Zanzibar’s Pemba Island offers privacy and romance and the option to stay in an underwater room surrounded by untouched coral reefs and their inhabitants.

If that’s not remote enough, consider White Desert’s Whichaway Camp in Antarctica. From November through January, travelers can experience the South Pole and all of its beauty in comfort and style.

Go With What Speaks to You
Finding a one-of-a-kind stay isn’t as hard as you may imagine; just give some thought to your personal interests. Car enthusiast? The 4.5-star, auto-themed V8 Hotel in Stuttgart, Germany, may speak to you. Nature lover? Sleep among the clouds in one of the treetop rooms in Sweden’s aptly named Treehotel. Your options for unconventional lodging across the globe are nearly limitless.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Landing on the Fortune 500 is a pie-in-the-sky dream of many business owners. The most profitable U.S. companies that make up the latest list collectively employ 27.9 million individuals across the world and represent $840 billion in profits and $12 trillion in revenues. Who are these business dynamos and where are many of them based?

The Top 10
In June 2016, Fortune magazine took a look at 2015’s top moneymakers, most of which are household names. The No. 1 spot goes to the Arkansas-based big-box retailer Wal-Mart, followed by oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil, tech innovator Apple, insurance and investment outfit Berkshire Hathaway, and pharmaceutical distributor McKesson. Health care companies, auto manufacturers and a communications company round out the top 10.

Hot Areas for Headquarters
Many Fortune 500 company headquarters are on the East Coast — from Comcast (No. 37) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; to JetBlue Airlines (No. 405) in Long Island City, New York; to General Electric (No. 11) in Fairfield, Connecticut.

The Midwest also houses several successful centers of operation, including Motorola Solutions (No. 451) in Schaumburg, Illinois; Harley-Davidson (No. 432) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Dow Chemical (No. 56) in Midland, Michigan.

How States Rank for Business
Knowing where a state ranks on business matters and understanding their differing approaches to incentives, tax rates and more may narrow down where to move next, even if a job isn’t waiting for you upon arrival. According to Chief Executive magazine’s “Best and Worst States for Business,” Texas is the most beneficial, pro-growth spot for business owners, while California ranks lowest.

As we begin a new year, one way of exploring the economic landscape ahead of us is to examine the biggest revenue generators in America and the impact they have on national and local scales.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

It may seem early, but the start of a new year is an ideal time to get your ducks in a row when it comes to tax preparation. Use the following tips to get some work done now and avoid the panic of procrastination.

Revisit Your Usual Routine
The bulk of tax prep comes down to organized paperwork, so take stock of your documents. To report income, you’ll want W-2 statements if you’re salaried, 1099s if you do any freelance work and end-of-year statements for taxable investment accounts. Keep in mind that employers have until Jan. 31 to file and provide copies of W-2s and most 1099s to employees and contractors.

Strategize Your Upcoming Tax Bill
One significant benefit to gearing up for tax season now: You can potentially owe less to the IRS by stashing away some funds in tax-advantaged accounts. You have until April 17, 2017, to max out 2016 contributions in a Traditional IRA, solo 401(k) or health savings account and potentially net a nice deduction as a result. Or if 2016 resulted in lower-than-usual income and you can afford to pay more taxes (but at a lower rate), consider whether a Roth conversion makes sense for the year.

Note What’s New
High-income earners should be aware of phaseout limits for itemized deductions, the Medicare surtax and a new higher rate for dividends and long-term capital gains. And if you were without healthcare coverage in 2016, don’t be surprised when the IRS levies a penalty fine.

Square away your tax situation early in the year so you have plenty of time to identify potential gaps, valuable opportunities and strategies to protect your hard-earned wealth for this year and the next.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

One common trait among the highly successful is their endless drive to improve and learn. Take a page from their book during your downtime this holiday season by feeding your curiosity and keeping your mind engaged. Make space on your digital device for some of these popular finance-focused podcasts:

  1. National Public Radio’s Planet Money tackles broad economic topics with a fun, inventive approach. One example: In August, a five-episode series chronicled their 100-barrel oil purchase, following it from a Kansas well to its final stop at an Iowa gas station. Look for new podcasts once or twice a week.
  2. Marketplace delivers a daily podcast that takes a detailed look at the day’s business and financial news in a relatable and highly digestible format.
  3. What started in 1997 as a syndicated newspaper feature has evolved into Motley Fool Money, a weekly radio show and podcast. A team of analysts helms this production, deciphering technical jargon and covering investing-related stories and interviews.
  4. Fans of the 2005 nonfiction bestseller “Freakonomics” may appreciate the eponymous weekly podcast, which looks at economic systems from fresh perspectives. Podcast topics range from an economist’s take on ride-sharing apps to conversations with innovative entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss and more.
  5. Stacking Benjamins focuses on personal finance, alternating between guest interviews that touch on earning, saving and spending, and a roundtable format that features other podcasters and bloggers.

Time is money, so spend it wisely. Put your downtime to good use with these and other informative podcasts.

Public Domain - GlassSteagall

The Glass-Steagall Act which is formally called the Banking Act of 1933 was enacted to prohibit commercial banks from participating in the investment business after the many bank failures of the Great Depression era. The idea was that banking institutions that safeguard and control our money supply should be separated from market investments such that greater stability of our monetary system remains intact. There were actually four main provisions of the Act that were somewhat chipped away at from 1933 until 1999 when the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) repealed what was left.

The 1999 GLBA repeal bring us up to the 2008 financial crisis. Some critics argue that the repeal has allowed investment banks to gamble with depositor’s money held in affiliated commercial banks. Conversely, others argue that the key activities that lead to the crisis were not even prohibited by the Act. Either way, we’d argue that it is not easy to draw simple conclusions about such complex relationships, but there is no doubt that to maintain separate commercial and investment banking certainly could help to provide more stability to the money supply during a significant financial crisis.

So, why all this talk now about a 1933 Act that was repealed in 1999? Well, as of last week, the official 2016 Republican Platform includes a revived separation of commercial and investment banking. Now, I’ll not speculate about who will win the election nor about some of the other economic policies that are surprising (and there are several). But, if Trump were to win, would this policy have any opportunity to get traction and if so, what might it mean economically.

First, how serious is the GOP and Trump about implementation of this policy? Most news outlets who have even reported on the issue are touting that Trump has “never endorsed restoring Glass-Steagall”. However, in August of 2015, Trump did address the Volcker Rule, which some consider to be Glass-Steagall lite. Furthermore, Carl Icahn who some consider a Trump advisor on the matter, proposed a return to Glass-Steagall over two years ago. These factors together with the fact that the policy has become an official part of the GOP platform, indicates to me that those making the proposal are serious. As for likelihood of implementation, there is bipartisan support from the grassroots. Support from the establishment is mixed with more Democrats who seem to support the measure than Republicans. Special interests groups would also likely be divided with multinational banks likely opposed and investment companies and some community banks likely in favor.

If implemented, the ramifications would depend largely upon the level of implementation. If only minor provisions were enacted, the average consumer might barely even notice and banking entities might merely have certain limits on certain types of transactions. However, if implementation occurred on a more grand scale, one could see the break-up of large conglomerate banks in a manner not seen since the Great Depression. For consumers the biggest change would likely be whom you receive certain financial services from. It could redefine how consumers think of full service banking. For the industry, it would certainly be a major shakeup.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

AdobeStock_84743022 - United Kindom small

Did you miss Adrian’s brief commentary about Brexit on WBBJ? View it here!

Well, the people of the United Kingdom (UK) have made their voices heard and voted for Brexit. As you are likely already aware by now, Brexit is the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (EU). And, Brexit is not the only European upheaval on the horizon. In case you missed it, I wrote over two weeks ago about keeping a watchful eye on several European issues to be mindful of in the third paragraph of the “May Jobs Report and the Fed” blogpost. If you’d like more detail on the logistics of Brexit, BBC News has a good piece on the UK’s referendum, but despite calling the piece “All you need to know”, there is a great deal left untold.

What we know:

The first step in a series of steps for the UK to leave the EU: It is important to keep in mind that the“referendum” vote by the people was merely the first step. No official exit has actually taken place yet. While I anticipate the UK to leave officially, it is still not absolutely certain as the politicians could choose not to act on the will of the people. There is already some resistance, but I find it likely that should politicians delay too much, you’ll find the people of the UK ready to replace them to make this happen. Assuming Brexit moves forward without delay, it is still estimated that it may take as long as two years for Brexit to be completed.

Uncertainty yields market flights to safety: There is significant uncertainty not only about the ramifications of the Brexit vote, but even more so regarding how the markets will react years into the future regarding those ramifications. However, that uncertainty could yield positive or negative outcomes depending on what actions are taken from here. Keep in mind that what we have seen in the markets thus far is not based on what investors know; rather it is based on what investors don’t know. I encourage you not to assume that Brexit means doom nor that Brexit means boon!

More on the horizon: Spain, while shadowed by the Brexit vote, had a major election on June 26th that adds the European uncertainty. Despite claims by the People’s Party Mariano Rajoy to have “won”, the vote leaves in place political stalemates because the Party is short of a majority to take actions without consensus from opposing leadership. Furthermore, Greece faces major debt payments of over ~$11 billion over the next several weeks. And finally, France is having major issues with strategic fuel reserves. In mid-May, the French government estimated it had 115 days of reserves left, but the issue is more about logistics and as summer fuel demand increases, this could be another major economic issue to contend with.

Media, government and sales fearmongering: One thing which is already occurring from the Brexit vote is fearmongering. The media is one place where you should expect such to occur.  Here is about 60 seconds of media fearmongering if you already haven’t had enough. There’s no doubt that most major news sources will be playing up the worst aspects for news ratings for some time.

Another source which I anticipate to continue with the fear tactics will be governments. There may or may not be as much coming out of the UK, but certainly expect any other country entertaining an exit to have its leadership use every tactic possible. In particular, I don’t expect Brexit to be completely smooth sailing. Watch for political leadership to seize on any negative Brexit issues for all they’re worth.

Finally, those selling financial newsletters or certain investments such as precious metals will certainly use this to their advantage. And, while I’m not completely opposed to a small holding in non-traditional investments as some advisors may be, I recommend not becoming overzealous just because of fear tactics.

Now, I’ll make some broad speculation. Keep in mind, this is speculative conjecture. Please, do not attempt to make investment decisions based on my musings; consult your investment professional.

What we don’t know:

Euro Demise: First, I think Brexit spells the eventual end for the Euro as we know it. The UK is the first of several nations that will likely exit. It is still undetermined if the EU will place trade sanctions on the UK, which have already been threatened. If the EU does, other EU countries may be more hesitant to exit and the UK will likely see some negative economic consequences. Despite sanctions, I think other nations will still eventually exit, it may just take longer. Of course “receiver” states, those which benefit more economically than they contribute may continue to try and hold the EU together. One must also consider that the UK kept the Pound as their currency in addition to the Euro, whereas other currencies such as the French Franc would have to be reintroduced, which would be more complex. Exits by stronger economic states means that if the Euro does continue to exist, it certainly will not be the currency which some thought would supplant the dollar.

Good for the UK: Economically, I believe it could be very good for the UK to exit the EU, especially if sanctions are not imposed. The UK is better positioned financially than most of the rest of the EU, and if the Pound’s value stays lower in comparison to the Euro and/or the Dollar, it will make business investment more attractive in the UK. But, not only will the UK have more economic independence, it will also have more socio-political independence. We’ve seen time and time again throughout history that more freedom means more economic prosperity. It may take years, or even decades, however I do believe that this is a good first step towards helping the UK re-establish greater financial strength and prosperity. We’ll have to see what other steps are taken by the UK to see how impactful this may be. Keep in mind that for a year or more, this could have the opposite effect. As I said before, uncertainty usually yields a flight to safety and there is a lot of uncertainty in the UK at the moment.

UK Immigration Reform: I believe there were many factors which drove the Brexit vote, not least of which were economic independence and Brits seeking smaller governance closer to home. Certainly, there were numerous socio-political and economic factors of influence. One factor not to discount is the European refugee crisis. Regardless of your personal thoughts on the refugee relocation throughout the world, one cannot deny the fact that it is putting financial strain on receiver nations and influencing the cultural landscape through Balkanization.

The Fed: I still believe the Federal Reserve Bank will raise rates as much and as fast as they feel they can. However, Brexit no doubt puts a hold on rate increases for a while.

 

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Our views may change at any time based on the constantly changing conditions that influence finance and economics. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Eddleman - WBBJ

Here’s a story I was interviewed for on WBBJ about Brexit. Obviously I had much more to say that had to be cut from the piece. Don’t forget, I actually had a brief blogpost weeks ago where I mention Brexit and what else is on the horizon. Expect more details soon in our Eddleman’s Economic Insight blog.