Category Archives: Entrepreneur

January Economic Update

Headwinds certainly increased in January as subpar earnings and anxieties about emerging markets unnerved Wall Street. January ended up as the poorest month for stocks since May 2012, with the S&P 500 losing 3.56% and many other global benchmarks retreating. Rough winter weather impeded homebuyers and jobseekers, but not consumer spending. On the NYMEX, gains and losses varied widely with natural gas and coffee futures jumping north. As many analysts expected, the Federal Reserve decided to further reduce its monthly asset purchases.1


At the Fed, the Ben Bernanke era ended with another taper. On January 31, the central bank announced it would buy $65 billion in bonds a month ($35 billion in Treasuries, $30 billion in mortgage-linked securities) starting in February, which was $10 billion below the previous amount.2


That wasn’t the only reduction investors heard about in January. Hiring had fallen off in December, with employers adding just 74,000 jobs; the awful weather gripping much of the country may have influenced that figure, as well as the dip in the jobless rate to 6.7% (347,000 people left the job hunt).3


The Institute for Supply Management’s factory PMI slipped to 51.3 in January, down from 56.5 in December. Early in January, ISM’s service sector PMI had come in at 53.0 for December, a dip of 0.9 points from the November mark. Additionally, durable goods orders sank 4.3% in the final month of 2013.4,5,6


Inflation resurfaced in December, it turned out: the Consumer Price Index moved 0.3% north (core CPI rose 0.1%) and the Producer Price Index advanced 0.4% (with a gain of 0.3% in core PPI).7


Good news also arrived. Consumer spending was up 0.4% in December – twice the gain economists polled by had forecast – and by the federal government’s initial estimate, the economy grew 3.2% in the fourth quarter. The last month of the year also witnessed improvements in retail sales (0.2%, 0.7% with auto buying factored out) and industrial production (0.3%). Thanks in part to a $53.2 billion December surplus, the federal budget deficit was 41% smaller at the end of 2013 than it had been a year before.6,7


Consumer confidence also strengthened. The Conference Board’s index rose to 80.7 in January from December’s reading of 77.5, and the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index gained 0.8 points on the month to reach 81.2.6


Lastly, President Obama authorized the Treasury to create a new type of retirement account – the MyRA, a principal-protected savings vehicle governed by Roth IRA rules that would serve as a kind of “starter” Roth IRA for workers unable to enroll in employer-sponsored retirement plans. As mandatory enrollment won’t be a feature of the MyRA, analysts aren’t sure it will make much of a dent in the retirement savings problem.8


As January ended, the biggest selloff in emerging market currencies in 5 years was underway. Argentina’s peso lost 19% of its value last month; South Africa’s rand fell 5.9% against the dollar while Turkey’s lira slipped 5.1% versus the greenback. In some emerging market countries, real yields were too low to attract capital necessary to address current account deficits. At month’s end, the real yield for South Africa was 1.4% (compared to 2.0% in the past decade) and Mexico’s real yield was 0.1%.

Turkey, India and South Africa all hiked interest rates in January.9


China’s manufacturing sector had clearly slowed. The country’s official factory PMI hit a 6-month low of 50.5 in January, and the HSBC PMI for China fell a point to 49.5 (contraction territory). In better news out of the region, Markit’s manufacturing PMI for Japan hit 56.6, the best reading since February 2006.10,11


Markit’s eurozone factory PMI came in at 54.0 in January, which was a better reading than in any month since May 2011. Annualized consumer inflation in the eurozone decreased to 0.7% last month, triggering concerns about deflation; eurozone unemployment remained at 12.0%.11,12

Most of the big benchmarks retreated last month. The Asia Dow lost 5.70%, the Europe Dow 2.78% and the Global Dow 3.86%. MSCI’s Emerging Market Index and World Index respectively lost 6.60% and 3.77%, while the DJ STOXX 600 retreated 1.75%. In Asia, the Nikkei 225 lost 8.45%, the Shanghai Composite 3.92%, the Hang Seng 5.45%, the Kospi 3.49% and the Sensex 3.10%; the Jakarta Composite rose 3.38% and Pakistan’s KSE 100 climbed 6.03%.1,13


In the Americas, the TSX Composite advanced 0.54% and the MERVAL 11.64% while the Bovespa sank 7.51% and the IPC All-Share lost 4.32%. Europe saw the following losses: FTSE 100, 3.54%; CAC 40, 3.03%; DAX, 2.57%, RTSI, 9.82%. Ireland’s ISEQ rose 2.49% last month; Italy’s FTSE MIB gained 2.38%.1i COmposite : the TSX Composite (-2.30%), the  gan’



Natural gas futures jumped 15.48% on the NYMEX last month. Other major energy futures lost ground: oil slipped 1.31%, unleaded gasoline 5.70% and heating oil 2.62%. NYMEX crude ended the month at $97.46.14,15


Among metals, COMEX gold gained 3.80% to finish January at $1,245.60; silver futures rose 1.14% and platinum futures 0.52%. Copper, on the other hand, fell 6.49% in January.14,15


Coffee made the month’s other big ascent, climbing 13.52%. Other crop futures advancing on the COMEX: corn, 3.21%; cocoa, 6.83%; cotton, 1.41%. Declining crop futures included soybeans (2.59%), sugar (5.24%) and wheat (7.84%). The U.S. Dollar Index ended January at 81.31, representing a 1.59% monthly gain.14,16


Aggravating winter storms didn’t quite arrest home buying in December. The National Association of Realtors said existing home purchases rose 1.0% in that month. The Census Bureau, however, estimated a 7.0% drop in new home sales. Existing home sales improved 9.1% in 2013 (the best year since 2006) and new home sales were up 4.5% for the year. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed a 13.7% overall yearly gain (20 metro markets) in November.6,17,18


Looking to the near future, NAR said pending home sales dropped 8.7% for December (perhaps weather was a major factor). The Census Bureau recorded a 3.0% decline in building permits for December, along with a 9.8% retreat in housing starts.6,7


Fixed-rate mortgages were a bit cheaper in December – a look at Freddie Mac’s December 26 and January 30 Primary Mortgage Market Surveys shows the average rate on the 30-year FRM descending from 4.48% to 4.32%, and from 3.52% to 3.40% for the 15-year FRM. Average rates on 5/1-year ARMs rose 0.12% to 3.12%; average rates on 1-year ARMs ticked down 0.01% to 2.55%.19,20


At the closing bell on January 31, the most-watched U.S. indices had not quite corrected from 2013 peaks, but were still notably beneath them: DJIA, 15,698.85; NASDAQ, 4,103.88; S&P 500, 1,782.59. The Russell 2000 lost 2.82% on the month,

wrapping up January at 1130.88. This won’t surprise anyone: the CBOE VIX advanced 34.18% in January, ending the month at 18.41. The Dow Jones Internet Index and NASDAQ Biotech Index pulled off January gains – the former rose 6.90%, the latter 8.41%.1


DJIA -5.30 +13.26 +19.24 +4.97
NASDAQ -1.74 +30.61 +35.59 +9.86
S&P 500 -3.56 +18.99 +23.17 +5.76
10 YR TIPS 0.53% -0.57% 1.73% 1.85%

Sources:,, – 1/31/141,21,22

Indices are unmanaged, do not incur fees or expenses, and cannot be invested into directly.

These returns do not include dividends.


February began with more struggles for stocks: a 326-point drop for the Dow largely in response to the major January retreat of ISM’s key manufacturing PMI. When the dust settled on the market’s worst day of the young year, the S&P 500 was almost 6% below its December 2013 all-time peak. The big question here: is this retreat a sign of market normalcy or representative of something worse? How many investors will believe that this pullback is warranted and stick with stocks, and how many will turn to “safe havens” with a glance at emerging economies? January’s employment report may be a key test. If it shows the economy adding 200,000 or more jobs, investors worldwide might breathe easier. They also might be comforted by other (presumably solid) American economic indicators as the month unfolds.23


UPCOMING ECONOMIC RELEASES: The roll call of data for the remainder of February: January’s ISM service sector PMI and the January ADP employment change report (2/5), January Challenger job-cuts data (2/6), the January employment report from the Labor Department (2/7), December wholesale inventories (2/11), December business inventories and January retail sales (2/13), the University of Michigan’s preliminary February consumer sentiment index and January industrial output (2/14), February’s NAHB housing market index (2/18), January housing starts and building permits, January’s PPI and the January Fed policy meeting minutes (2/19), the January CPI and the Conference Board’s January leading indicator index (2/20), January existing home sales (2/21), the Conference Board’s January consumer confidence index and December’s Case-Shiller home price index and FHFA housing price index (1/23), January new home sales (2/26), January durable goods orders (2/27), and then the University of Michigan’s final February consumer sentiment index, January pending home sales and the second estimate of Q4 GDP (2/28). January’s consumer spending numbers will come out on March 3.

Reeve Conover Disclosure


This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. Marketing Library.Net Inc. is not affiliated with any broker or brokerage firm that may be providing this information to you. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is not a solicitation or recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. The NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. NYSE Group, Inc. (NYSE:NYX) operates two securities exchanges: the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) and NYSE Arca (formerly known as the Archipelago Exchange, or ArcaEx®, and the Pacific Exchange). NYSE Group is a leading provider of securities listing, trading and market data products and services. The New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. (NYMEX) is the world’s largest physical commodity futures exchange and the preeminent trading forum for energy and precious metals, with trading conducted through two divisions – the NYMEX Division, home to the energy, platinum, and palladium markets, and the COMEX Division, on which all other metals trade. The Asia Dow measures the Asia equity markets by tracking 30 leading blue-chip companies in the region. The Europe Dow measures the European equity markets by tracking 30 leading blue-chip companies in the region. The Global Dow is a 150-stock index of corporations from around the world created by Dow Jones & Company. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is a float-adjusted market capitalization index consisting of indices in more than 25 emerging economies. The MSCI World Index is a free-float weighted equity index that includes developed world markets, and does not include emerging markets. The STOXX Europe 600 Index is derived from the STOXX Europe Total Market Index (TMI) and is a subset of the STOXX Global 1800 Index. Nikkei 225 (Ticker: ^N225) is a stock market index for the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE). The Nikkei average is the most watched index of Asian stocks. The SSE Composite Index is an index of all stocks (A shares and B shares) that are traded at the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The Hang Seng Index is a freefloat-adjusted market capitalization-weighted stock market index that is the main indicator of the overall market performance in Hong Kong. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index or KOSPI is the major stock market index of South Korea, representing all common stocks traded on the Korea Exchange. The BSE SENSEX (Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index), also-called the BSE 30 (BOMBAY STOCK EXCHANGE) or simply the SENSEX, is a free-float market capitalization-weighted stock market index of 30 well-established and financially sound companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). The IDX Composite or Jakarta Composite Index is an index of all stocks that are traded on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX). Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index (KSE-100 Index) is a stock index acting as a benchmark to compare prices on the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) over a period. The S&P/TSX Composite Index is an index of the stock (equity) prices of the largest companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) as measured by market capitalization.  The MERVAL Index (MERcado de VALores, literally Stock Exchange) is the most important index of the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange. The Bovespa Index is a gross total return index weighted by traded volume & is comprised of the most liquid stocks traded on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange. The Mexican IPC index (Indice de Precios y Cotizaciones) is a major stock market index which tracks the performance of leading companies listed on the Mexican Stock Exchange. The FTSE 100 Index is a share index of the 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange with the highest market capitalization. The CAC-40 Index is a narrow-based, modified capitalization-weighted index of 40 companies listed on the Paris Bourse. The DAX 30 is a Blue Chip stock market index consisting of the 30 major German companies trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The RTS Index (abbreviated: RTSI, Russian: ?????? ???) is a free-float capitalization-weighted index of 50 Russian stocks traded on the Moscow Exchange. The ISEQ Overall Index is a capitalization-weighted index of all official list equities in the Irish Stock Exchange, excluding U.K.-registered companies. The FTSE MIB (Milano Italia Borsa) is the benchmark stock market index for the Borsa Italiana, the Italian national stock exchange. The US Dollar Index measures the performance of the U.S. dollar against a basket of six currencies. Additional risks are associated with international investing, such as currency fluctuations, political and economic instability and differences in accounting standards. This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  Investments will fluctuate and when redeemed may be worth more or less than when originally invested. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. All economic and performance data is historical and not indicative of future results. Market indices discussed are unmanaged. Investors cannot invest in unmanaged indices. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional.



1 – [1/31/14]

2 – [1/29/14]

3 – [1/10/14]

4 – [2/3/14]

5 – [1/6/14]

6 – [1/31/14]

7 – [1/21/14]

8 –

9 – [2/2/14]

10 – [2/2/14]

11 – [2/3/14]

12 – [1/31/14]

13 – [1/31/14]

14 – [1/31/14]

15 – [2/2/14]

16 – [2/2/14]

17 – [1/23/14]

18 – [2/3/14]

19 – [2/3/14]

20 – [2/3/14]

21 – [1/31/14]

21 – [1/31/14]

21 – [1/31/14]

21 – [1/31/14]

21 – [1/31/14]

21 – [1/31/14]

21 – [1/31/14]

21 – [1/31/14]

21 – [1/31/14]

22 – [2/3/14]

23 – [2/3/14]

Government website violates FLSA!

Bloomberg Business Week is reporting that nine workers at a call center in Boise, Idaho, say they were wrongly denied overtime pay while working 50- or 60-hour weeks.  They are suing Maximus, the Reston (Va.) contractor running the 1,800-employee website.

The complaint, filed Jan. 24 in federal district court in Idaho, argues that the plaintiffs and hundreds of other low-level employees were “wrongfully classified as exempt from overtime compensation” under federal labor laws. The suit seeks at least $5 million in compensation and damages.  This is apparently not the first time this claim has been made by Maximus Employees.

“The Fair Labor Standards Act generally requires workers to be paid overtime if they’re clocking more than 40 hours per week. The law provides exemptions for certain categories of workers, including administrative employees who earn at least $455 a week, or $23,660 a year. Exempt employees must also be involved in managing business operations and have a degree of independent authority.”

For the whole story click here


19 Hard Things You Need To Do To Be Successful

My goal is for all of us to be happy, successful and grow together.. you can find much more daily motivational material like this here:

You have to do the hard things.

  • You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.
  • You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.
  • You have to give more than you get in return right away.
  • You have to care more about others than they care about you.
  • You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.
  • You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.
  • You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.
  • You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.
  • You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.
  • You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.
  • You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.
  • You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts.”
  • You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot.
  • You have to try, fail and try again.
  • You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.
  • You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.
  • You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.
  • You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.
  • You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.

You have to do the hard things. The things that no one else is doing. The things that scare you. The things that make you wonder how much longer you can hold on.

Those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success.

The hard things are the easiest things to avoid. To excuse away. To pretend like they don’t apply to you.

The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success is that they do the hard things that smarter, wealthier, more qualified people don’t have the courage — or desperation — to do.

Do the hard things. You might be surprised at how amazing you really are.

Source Article:

Why Training your Supervisors is critical

Over the last 10 years I have seen a number of instances where Supervisors were made aware of an issue with an employee that they did not act on.  The problem is that, when an employee tells their supervisor certain things, the Employer has technically been notified of that information.  If that information is actionable – requiring you, the Employer, to do something – you are liable if you do not.

Examples of this are easy to find:  An employee, over lunch tells his supervisor his divorce is final, or he has adopted a child, or that he hurt himself on the job.  This is not anecdotal storytelling – the law holds that the employer has been officially notified.  In the first two, Human Resources needs to know (COBRA, FMLA, and an enrollment period for the child on the employee benefits plans).  In the third, an incident report needs to be completed and filed with HR in the event of workers compensation.  It could also come into play with your employee leave policies and FMLA.

This is driven home by a recent decision in South Carolina District Court.  Read the article here. Essentially, an employee decided he couldn’t make mandatory training because, at first, he was having countertops installed, and second, he needed to unwind.  The employer denied him the time off, he didn’t show up, and they fired him.

However, when you read the article, a number of people in the firm were aware that he was “acting unusual”, a supervisor told HR that he mentioned feeling stressed and wanted counseling, and other medical issues.  Even though the employee never mentioned FMLA, the court ruled that the case can go to trial, suggesting that he had given his employer enough notice of his intent to take FMLA leave.

Scary reading.

7 signs you have a poisonous workplace

by January 14, 2014 in HR Benefti Alerts:


Poison can be a silent killer, undetectable until it’s too late. The same can be said of a poisonous workplace. You may not know there’s a problem until your best workers start dropping like flies — that is, unless you can spot the symptoms.

There are a number of things that can poison the well, so to speak. But each manifests itself in unique ways that can help HR spot the poison early and apply the antidote.

Here are the signs your workplace has been poisoned:

1. Managers play favorites

Managers tend to make friends in the office just like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with that. But problems occur when those managers start to give preferential treatment to those they’ve befriended. This kind of treatment can take many forms:

  • Offering some more chances to earn bonus compensation than others
  • Providing friends with special training or perks
  • Looking the other way when certain workers abuse the time-off policy or other rules, and
  • Being more lenient with select employees when it comes to things like handing in assignments on time.

2. Leaders lead by poor example

The actions of your leaders, whether they’re in the C-suite or middle management, have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the workforce. Abrasive leaders breed abrasive subordinates, which creates a hostile work environment.

Some signs you’ve got a poisonous leader in-house:

  • He/she thinks sexual harassment policies don’t apply to him/her
  • He/she makes promises to the staff but fails to keep them
  • He/she will step over employees if it means making another dollar, and
  • It’s common to hear phrases like, “Because I said so,” “Because that’s how we’ve always done it,” or “I sign the checks, so I’ll make the decisions.”

3. The boss thinks a paycheck is ‘the benefit’

Of course, not every employer can afford to provide an extensive benefits package. But most employers at least acknowledge the important role benefits plays in the workforce today. But not every employer does — and that’s troubling.

If you’ve ever heard your boss utter something to the effect of, “They (employees) should just be happy they’re getting paid” at the mention of a health plan or retirement account, it’s a sign you have a Scrooge on your hands.

4. A negative clique has formed

Employees will naturally sort themselves into peer groups. Again, this is OK, unless one of the groups is always badmouthing company initiatives or trashing superiors.

You never want to stomp out friendly banter, but sometimes exceptions must be made when that banter is hurting morale.

5. Not everyone is treated equally

Every company has its high-performing standouts and those whom the company relies on to keep the ship afloat (like IT personnel). But there’s a harmful tendency for organizations to walk on egg shells around those individuals, letting them get away with unruly behavior or break the rules now and then. The fear is that if they’re reprimanded, they may quit.

While turnover is a risk, treating these employees differently from the rest of your workforce makes your law abiding citizens feel disrespected. And that could be more disastrous than letting one standout worker walk.

6. Members of the Good Ol’ Boy Network are hired

Most workplaces welcome the thought of their best employees recommending peers for employment. After all, if the recommended candidates are anything like the workers, they should fit right in.

But some company leaders can take this concept too far, hiring friends and past associates who aren’t good fits for the company — all while forgoing the normal interviewing and hiring process.

7. There’s no clear benefits communication

Benefits communication needs to be a two-way street. Not only must you be able to clearly explain the benefits you offer to employees, there also needs to be a system in place for employees to have their benefits questions answered.

It may sound counterintuitive, but the reality is benefits can actually be a detriment to the work environment if employees don’t know how to access or use them.

Blog Archives

Reeve Conover is a Registered Representative. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/dealer member FINRA/SPIC. Cambridge and Conover Consulting are not affiliated. Licensed in SC, NC, NY, CT, NJ, and CA. - SIPC - Brokercheck