Statistical samplings suggest the earnings gap between the richest and poorest Americans has expanded over the past few decades, and many view this widening separation as fraught with negative social consequences. In particular, critics of income inequality believe it fragments the country into two distinct groups; a small elite – i.e., the “1 percenters” – who hold a disproportionate percentage of wealth and power, and the rest, who are in a day-to-day struggle to survive. In this simplistic rendering, income inequality is low-hanging fruit for politicians and pundits from either end of the political spectrum. It’s easy to define the good guys and bad guys, and propose quick fixes, like more taxes, or less regulation – and vice versa. But this approach obscures some fascinating nuances regarding income in the United States.
Not a day goes by that our Financial Representatives are not asked by clients and prospective clients – is the cash value of life insurance protected from creditors? The answer is typically: “It depends.” In fact, there are as many answers as there are states and the District of Columbia. Since it is such a common topic of interest among prospective clients and current policyholders, let’s take a look at life insurance and creditor protection.
There have been numerous surveys and studies done on the number of people in this country who have not done any estate planning and in many situations, don’t even have a will. While the survey results vary, the one consistency is that the number is well over 50% of adults. That is astounding in this day and age, particularly given the number of recent celebrity deaths causing their families unnecessary grief. And, even though we’re talking about celebrities, the anguish is not always just about money.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over the last few years, more than a half million new businesses are formed each month, but just as many, if not more, close down each month. Obviously, not all are successful or make it big. If you’re an entrepreneur and want to start up your own business, there are several common themes for you to remember if you want to ensure success. The following is a non-exclusive list of ten things, in no particular order of importance, to remember and think about, compiled from various interviews of well-known or highly successful entrepreneurs in various publications.
You’ve probably heard someone say “How can we do it so cheap? Because we eliminate the middleman!” It’s an enduring model for attracting customers: a claim that one’s product or service is better because it eliminates intermediaries that add cost. Intermediation is valuable, but comes with a price; depositors don’t receive all the interest that borrowers pay, because banks have to be paid for their services. But to the extent the services of these “middlemen” can be streamlined or eliminated, transaction costs can diminish. In the past decade, technology and the Internet have dramatically disrupted intermediary structures in various sectors of the economy.