Current Issues

Property Insurance Blues

By |2024-06-19T21:20:47-05:00May 29, 2024|Current Issues, Money Management|

When we discuss prices going up our focus to date has been food, energy and of late, insurance. “Home insurance premiums rose about 30% from 2019 to 2023, while rebuilding and replacement costs went up 55% during the same period.” – Kiplinger.com. Ouch! A number of natural disasters combined with general inflationary trends have caused prices to skyrocket, particularly in markets like Florida. Car insurance has also been impacted by shortages of certain parts and the need for more electrical components for electric vehicles. We can all agree it’s a problem so what are some ways we can reduce our insurance costs? I spoke to my good friend Kreg Foster who owns Foster Insurance Services in Webster City, Iowa. He had some specific tips to manage your insurance costs: 1. Get quotes with higher deductibles. I may offer some savings but not always. It’s always important to have funds available [...]

The Old Boss, Not the Same as the New Boss

By |2024-05-16T22:05:58-05:00February 5, 2024|Featured, Current Issues|

“85% of economists were predicting a recession last year.  I was one of them. I felt uncomfortable being in the consensus, and it turns out being uncomfortable being in the consensus was actually the right feeling.” – John Mauldin, Mauldin Economics  “Heading into 2024, we want to own stocks, not because the FRB may cut rates or because inflation is heading lower.  We want to own stocks because we are in a bull market and in a bull market that is what you do, you own stocks.” – Birinyi Associates, Inc.  “We would expect an institutional crises to become pronounced over this next year, even absent a disruptive major war, as routine political rage might materialize into something deeper.” – Geopolitical Futures  It is difficult to not feel a bit smug when the many predictions of early 2023 fell flat on their face.  The call for recessions, market declines and [...]

Young Adults are Falling Victim to Online Scams

By |2024-05-16T22:14:06-05:00January 30, 2024|Cyber Security, Current Issues, Featured|

You get a notification on your phone, alerting you that an unfamiliar charge has posted to your account. You have no idea where the charge came from and suddenly your bank account is absent a couple of hundred bucks. You better act fast and get your credit or debit card cancelled before the scammer can purchase more stuff with your hard-earned money! While scammers are generally known to target the elderly who can be susceptible to falling for their tricks, it turns out the younger generations are losing more money to scammers! Young people are targeted via social media like Instagram and Facebook. According to the Federal Trade Commission an astounding $2.7 Billion has been lost to scams on social media from June 2021-January 2023! Many of these losses are generated through fake online shopping ads in which the merchant (scammer) doesn’t fulfill the order and disappears when you try [...]

How Can Intelligence Be Artificial

By |2024-03-03T19:37:18-06:00December 13, 2023|Current Issues|

Early in my career as a banker, I remember spending a serious amount of time explaining how a fax machine worked to one of my customers. He did not understand the technology. It seemed to make him angry that documents could be delivered so quickly and without filters. Well, he would likely be completely flummoxed if I was to get him to either understand, or utilize, artificial intelligence. The word itself is a bit anxiety producing. Our intelligence, as humans, seems to belong to us as individuals.  None of us can identically replicate the intelligence of another person.  Their skill set and experiences uniquely belong to them.  That’s where creativity blossoms and individual contributions become so meaningful. During the book writing process my book coach kept encouraging me to “find my voice.”  Well, artificial intelligence is the gathering of many voices. And it appears to be driving all forms of new [...]

Can AI help improve your life?

By |2024-03-03T19:37:33-06:00December 13, 2023|Current Issues|

Can AI Help You Improve Your Life? There's been so much chatter about potential drawbacks of AI like ChatGPT and Google Bard that many people are overlooking how AI might improve our lives. From automating mundane tasks to performing more efficient internet searches, there are almost limitless applications for these services -- if you know how to get the most out of them. What AI does well. AI is very good at summarizing longer text, proofreading, and translating. Another group of AIs, such as Midjourney, can create pictures and songs based on prompts. What AI doesn't do well (yet). While AI is good at searching its available databases, finding patterns, and providing basic answers, it doesn't have the ability to "think" about what you're asking it. Nuance and context can get lost, as can the need for an emotional response such as empathy or humor. Finally, much of the [...]

AI’s Role in Shaping Our Tomorrow: A Look Ahead

By |2024-03-03T19:37:51-06:00December 13, 2023|Current Issues|

While artificial intelligence (AI) is making headlines today, the concept of "thinking machines" can be traced back to ancient philosophers and mathematicians. The phrase artificial intelligence was first used in the mid-20th century, at the dawn of the computer age. Like most transformative innovations throughout history, AI's possibilities have been met with a combination of excitement, skepticism, and fear. What is AI? AI is a branch of computer science that focuses on giving machines or computer-controlled robots the ability to execute intelligent tasks. AI aims to create intelligent machines that can replicate human behavior by programming them to think and learn like people. Is AI a new concept? Many AI applications are new, but the theory and some basic technology have existed for years. Innovators have built on their predecessors' work and brought us to the AI inflection point we are at today. Here's a brief history of AI [...]

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