Friday, May 29, 2015

10 ways to keep meetings a positive experience for attendees: get results as a group

Meetings are vital in business, but they can also become time-consuming showstoppers when they cease to be productive. If you start to get the feeling that your meetings are ineffective, here are 10 helpful strategies to employ.

1: Make meetings the exception and not the rule
If you don't have a reason to meet, don't.

2: Exploit social media
Instant messaging, social media posting boards, and other online collaboration tools can be effective means of getting people together on issues and resolutions without having to call a meeting.

3: Conduct mini preemptive meetings
If your meeting is about a complex issue, or you are working with a group where there are many known incompatibilities, it is best to hold a preemptive meeting first. By meeting separately with smaller contingents of the overall group, you'll be aware of all the issues that could be brought up in the larger forum.
Once you know the issues, you have an opportunity to defuse them and to achieve consensus in advance of the main meeting. Almost always, this assures that your larger meeting will flow better and faster.

4: Publish the meeting agenda/goals in advance
Pre-publication of meeting agenda items and goals helps everyone focus in advance on what the meeting needs to accomplish.

5: Order pizza
There are times when staff is weary, overworked, and hardly in a mood for a meeting. When this is the case, order in pizza and go over meeting issues in a relaxed atmosphere. This is especially helpful for lunch meetings that occur when schedules are tight, and there isn't another time to meet.

6: Run the meeting by the clock
By informing meeting attendees in advance that the meeting will not run beyond its scheduled time, you can often energize the group to get through all of the issues in the allotted timeframe. This tactic works best when the room is booked by another group right after your meeting.

7: Get "meeting mongers" to focus
I'm not a fan of long meetings, so I was surprised to learn there are actually "meeting mongers" -- those are people who enjoy meeting just to meet. It is easy to spot them in meetings: They bring up side issues to the agenda so conversations can be prolonged, and they leave disappointed when the meeting ends.
If you lead a meeting with meeting mongers, it is important to keep these folks focused on the agenda, so you don't lose control of the room.

8: Put a stop to filibusters
People who step in to prolong discussions because they sense the meeting is not going where they want it to can be tougher than the meeting mongers. They systematically try to derail the meeting by taking the floor and discussing fine points of the issues so they can postpone a decision that is unpopular to them.
As soon as you see filibustering, step in immediately to stop it -- the other attendees will appreciate it. You should interrupt the person filibustering, tell them the matter can be addressed "offline," and get the meeting back on track.

9: Call a timeout
If tempers flare and the meeting exchanges get hot, it is the perfect time to call the meeting off with a request to reconvene at a later time. This allows everyone to cool off, collect themselves, and perhaps meet independently before the next meeting to iron out the troubling issues.

10: Talk with upper management before reconvening

Some meetings become so dysfunctional that even the thought of reconvening later is unrealistic. In this case, the best thing to do is to call together upper management of both sides to ensure that you have consensus in goals and executive endorsement before scheduling another meeting.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bug Crashes iPhones With a Text (PCMagazine)

A specific string of symbols and Arabic characters sent to an iPhone will crash the smartphone.

Tip: How to Force a Text Message in iOS 7

Want to annoy your friends? A new bug within Apple's Messages app can crash a message recipient's phone with just a few characters.
As reported by MacRumors last night, a specific string of symbols and Arabic characters sent to an iPhone will crash the smartphone.
The blog said the problem is more annoying than harmful. Its main purpose appears to be rebooting a phone and, in some cases, keeping a person out of the Messages app.
According to a Reddit user, the problem is related to how banner notifications process Unicode text. "The banner briefly attempts to present the incoming text and then 'gives up,' thus the crash," the user wrote.
Apple confirmed the glitch. "We are aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of Unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update," the company said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.
If the message hits your phone, MacRumors has a few solutions, like sending a reply message if your app will open, or composing a message to yourself via Siri or the Notes app if it won't.
The blog tried it out an iPhone running iOS 8.3, though the Journal said it could be executed on older versions of the mobile OS, too.
If you're feeling devious, it might take some work. The Journal said it took 24 tries to pull off a reboot, while The Guardian patiently plugged away 50 times before making it work.
Now might be a good time to review the video below, which guides you through blocking a phone number.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

GMCC Names Olga Ramudo Executive of the Year

CAMACOL congratulates Olga Ramudo President and CEO of Express Travel who was recently named Executive of the Year by The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. She serves on our Board of Directors and has actively participated in promoting Miami-Dade County as a place for business.Good Job Olga!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

China Unveils Plans for Greater Naval Role Beyond Its Coasts (BusinessWeek)

Chinese Navy
Chinese navy holds m
emorial ceremony for 120th anniversary of the first Sino-Japanese War in Weihai, Shandong province of China. Source: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
China set out its ambitions for a bigger naval presence far from its coasts, amid wariness among its neighbors over whether the country’s fleet will be used to back up its territorial claims.
The People’s Liberation Army will add “open seas protection” to “offshore waters defense” on a list of core naval missions, according to the country’s 2015 defense white paper. China must expand on its “active defense strategy” to meet the demands of a new historical era.
“The maritime battlefield has been broadened, and China’s navy needs to react to protect its rights globally,” Wang Jin, a PLA senior colonel, said at a briefing in Beijing on Tuesday.
China’s increased naval might, as well as its assertion to territory in the contested South China Sea and East China Sea, has helped spur the region’s largest military build-up in decades. It has shown a greater willingness to project power far from its coasts, evacuating workers from Yemen and joining Russia for naval exercises in the Mediterranean.
The release of the white paper came as the official Xinhua news agency reported that China has started construction of two large lighthouses on reefs in the South China Sea. The lighthouses will provide navigation services for ships from different countries, Xinhua said, citing the transport ministry.
“This posture reflects China’s rising reliance on the oceans for its economic prosperity,” said Zhang Baohui, director of the Center for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. “However, it has also intensified the security dilemma with other countries, such as the U.S., Japan and India, who distrust China’s maritime agenda.”
Chinese Dream
The paper -- entitled “China’s Military Strategy” -- sets out how the armed forces will contribute to President Xi Jinping’s plan to rejuvenate the nation and what he calls the “Chinese dream.” The most recent white paper, published in 2013, focused on the organization of the various arms of China’s military.
The Pentagon’s annual report on China’s military, released earlier this month, warned that rapid military modernization “has the potential to reduce core U.S. military technological advantages.” Absent from China’s nearly 9,000-word paper were details about how its military budget was divided among the various services.
The document underscored “the principles of defense, self-defense and post-emptive strike,” saying: “We will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counter attack if attacked.” The armed forces will intensify participation in international peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance, the paper said.
Active Military
“The scope, distance and the ability to project power have all grown,” said Ni Lexiong, director of the Sea Power and Defense Policy Research Institute at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. “The paper highlights the ‘active’ element in China’s existing military strategy, and and it’s best manifested in its navy.”
The document noted new threats of “hegemonism, power politics and neo-interventionism” in a region where the U.S. and others have sought to test China’s control of airspace and waters around islands and reefs. The U.S. last week flew a P8-A surveillance aircraft near the Spratly islands in the South China Sea, where China is building islands. The flight elicited warnings from the Chinese navy to leave.
“Some external countries are also busy meddling in South China Sea affairs; a tiny few maintain a constant close-in air and sea surveillance and reconnaissance against China,” the white paper said. “It is thus a long-standing task for China to safeguard its maritime rights and interests.”
Cyberspace, Nuclear
While the risk of a global war is unlikely the paper noted the threat of local conflicts, stemming from things like ethnic and religious strife. “International competition for the redistribution of power, rights and interests is tending to intensify.”
The military plans to hasten development of four “critical security domains” - the ocean, outer space, cyberspace and its nuclear force, it said.
“Long range, precise, smart, stealthy, and unmanned weapons and equipment are becoming increasingly sophisticated,” the paper said. “The form of war is accelerating its evolution to informatioinization.”

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tropicana 2020 with Willy Chirino : Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba



Please "Save the Date" for Noche Tropical Presents Tropicana 2020 featuring a headlining performance by Willy Chirino!

WHEN: Saturday, October 24th, 2015
TIME: 7:00 pm - 2:00 am
WHERE: JW Marriott Marquis Miami

255 Biscayne Blvd Way, Miami, FL 33131

For more information, please email

Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba 2147 SW 8th Street Miami, FL 33135 USA

Copyright 2014 Foundation For Human Rights In Cuba.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sweden commandeers Pirate Bay's .se addresses

Summary:A court has handed ownership of the The Pirate Bay's Swedish web addresses to the country's government.

The Pirate Bay's new logo. Image: The Pirate Bay

A court has handed control over The Pirate Bay's Swedish web addresses to the Swedish government.
A Stockholm court ruled on Tuesday that the Swedish government could take ownership of the two domain names due to The Pirate Bay's violations of the nation's copyright laws.
The domains have been handed to the Foundation for Internet Infrastructure (IIS) in Sweden, the organisation that sits under the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency and is responsible for all .se domains. From there, ownership of the domains will be transferred to the Swedish government.
As Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter notes, the ruling is a first for Sweden. It means police can now target a .se domain name rather than be forced to find the actual server a company uses.
In a show of defiance, the Pirate Bay has created a new logo of a four headed dragon crowned by five new top-level domains (TLDs): .la, .gs, .vg, .am, .mn, and .gd. The torrent site has already moved to the new web addresses. from Sweden, for instance, now automatically redirects to .La is the TLD for Laos.
IIS is pleased with the ruling as it has said it should not be responsible for any decision about which domains should be seized - something that prosecutors in Sweden have been angling for, without luck, for years.
"We are pleased that the city court ruled in our favor and agreed with our argument that, in our role as the top-level domain administrator, it is not our responsibility to decide on what is or is not unlawful in specific cases," Elisabeth Ekstrand, senior legal counsel at IIS, said.
Still, domain seizure is a poor choice for combatting online criminal activities, according to the organization, given that it's easy for an operator to move to another TLD, and the site would still be reachable if users know the site's IP address.
Ekstrand has previously criticised efforts in the US to to seize The Pirate Bay's former .org domain,telling ZDNet in 2012 that rights holders would be better off finding new business models than continuing to play whack-a-mole with the file-sharing site.
Seizing the .se domain is the latest effort by prosecutors to stamp out the Swedish file-sharing site, which has included laying criminal charges against the Pirate Bay's founders, and last December raiding its Swedish datacentre.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Some Comcast Xfinity and HBO Go users complain that they suddenly can't watch videos on their PCs

Comcast XFinity TV GO

If you are one of the many Comcast Xfinity users getting a weird "Error message: 900|106000" when you try to watch videos on your PC, the problem could be related to the latest Adobe Flash update.

Some Xfinity users have been getting the cryptic error message for days, according to a Comcast help forum. Over 150 messages have been posted to the forum, which has been viewed by over 6,000 people.

It appears the problem can be fixed by re-installing an older version of Flash. (Caveat: installing older versions comes with risk, as many times Adobe updates Flash to fix a bug that helps hackers.) There's been another rash of complaints again to the a Comcast forum since earlier this week. 

Writes one user:

I am also receiving this message on literally every video that I try to watch. I've tried fixing all the bugs, as per the other troubleshooting information, even uninstalling and reinstalling google chrome. Help!

Writes another:

Just signed up for HBO so I can watch it on my media center PCs.

I get the 900|106000 error on two out of the three PC's in my home. Unfortunately the machine that works is my desktop rather than the two PC's hooked up to big screens.

The desktop and one of the others are running Windows 8.1.

The third machine is running Windows 7.

Have tried both Chrome and IE on the two machines that won't work. I am using Chrome on the machine that does work.

Looking for a way to fix this before I cancel the HBO service.

In this latest instance, Ken Fromm, a vice president at cloud infrastructure provider, tells us he couldn't watch videos from Comcast for a few days.

Fromm did some sleuthing and discovered that by using Safari with an older version of Flash, things started working again. He also tells us a fix for Google Chrome could have happened, as Xfinity just started working for him again when using Chrome.

With the caveat above about using older versions of Flash, here's how you can go back to an earlier version of Flash in your browser:

1. Go to this page that lists Adobe's Archived Versions of Flash. Scroll down to a version before the problems began and install it.

2. If that doesn't fix it immediately, try uninstalling Flash by going to this page and downloading the "uninstaller."  Then reinstall the older version again.

3. If that doesn't fix it, and you are using Chrome (which automatically updates to latest version of Flash) try downloading a new PC browser, such as Safari or Opera.  You may need to manually install Flash again.

We've reached out to Comcast and Adobe to comment and will update this post when we hear back.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Invitation from the Polish American Chamber of Commerce / Invitación de la Cámara de Comercio Polaco Americana

POLISH AMERICAN CHAMBER INVITATION INVITACION DE LA CAMARA DE                                                                                                      COMERCIO POLACA AMERICANA

May 15th 2015

June 1st to 4th 2015 
36th Hemispheric Congress of Latin Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables.

September 25th, 2015 CAMACOL 50th Anniversary Gala.

September 27th to 29th, 2015 Permanent Secretariat 37th Hemispheric Congress 

Upcoming venues: Polonia: 2016; Bolivia 2017; China 2018.

Miami, Florida, May 1, 2015

Dear Colleagues:

Just a couple of weeks we returned from Poland to a very successful trip with leaders of Florida and Camacol. The objective of this trip was to meet our partners and allies in both the private sector and the government sector and to confirm the huge trade potential between the Americas and Central and Eastern Europe.

The introduction of democracy, the transition from state-controlled economy to the free market and the realization of economic reforms were the driving force behind adaptation to the global economy of the Polish economy today. Poland and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have a unique experience in political and economic transformation. The exchange of experiences and technical assistance between our countries and public institutions seems to be very important to help improve existing structures in Latin America, and could become an area of strategic cooperation.

It is worth emphasizing that in Latin America is more than 6.5 million Polish descendants, of which almost two million in Brazil. Poland maintains diplomatic relations with 33 states in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Poland, one of the countries with the most dynamic growth in the European Union (EU) and the only country that didn't kept going into recession in 2009, undergoing a process of economic expansion and looks at Latin America as one of its preferred markets. To date, the largest investment in Poland in Latin America for more than three billion dollars has been in Chile the company KGHM, which is the second largest copper producer in Europe and the world's largest silver.

So far the economic cooperation between Poland and Latin America has been limited mainly into four sectors: automotive, raw material exploitation and certain products of agribusiness and since 2010 also in the defense sector with certain countries. However currently there are 15 sectors of Polish industry with a huge potential for cooperation.

According to the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, responsible for European affairs, Piotr Serafin, in 2014-2020, Poland will receive nearly PLN 500 billion (about 138 billion dollars), instead of 441 mln PLN , ie the sum of constant prices. "The method of calculating the actual amounts of constant prices in current prices is regulated by law. It is also a part of the budget agreement," the official said at a conference.

Poland remains the largest recipient of EU funds until the end of this decade, which should help it join the top 20 world economies by 2022.

14 SEZs are waiting for foreign companies to create consortia or joint ventures to enter the market of the European Union.

In accordance with the priorities of Polish foreign policy 2012-2016, with regard to Latin America, a key factor in relations "Poland-Latin America" is Poland's participation in the drafting and implementation of the policy of the Union European Union (EU) to the region. Poland is in favor of a quick ratification of the EU - Central America and the Trade Agreement between the EU and Peru and Colombia (both agreements were signed in June 2012) and future negotiations on Association Agreement EU-Mercosur.

Therefore the Polish-American Chamber of Commerce of Florida and Las Americas and Polish Trade Center Corp. suggested within the framework of Camacol, creation of 5 working groups: MERCOSUR, Andean Pact, CAFTA, CARICOM and CEEC (Poland and Central Europe and East), which have the main objective to identify the areas of synergy and economic cooperation between their respective regions.

Today gives me great pleasure to accept Poland as the site for the Hemispheric Congress Camacol in 2016. I am pleased to also notify that this initiative has the support of our ambassador in Washington, DC Mr. Ryszard Schnepf and government Poland.

Taking this opportunity, I want to inform you that our camera will provide air tickets to the presidents of the 22 member countries of Camacol on the journey from Miami to Poland for this congress. In return we expect that each Chamber of Commerce is committed to bringing at least 5 companies in the 2 or 3 industries most potential among certain countries and Poland and Central and Eastern Europe.


Leszek Ladowski

Wifredo Willy Gort, Chairman Hemispheric Congress
Mario O. Gutierrez, President Camacol
Jose Miguel Izquierdo Encarnación, President Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico; 
Chairman of the Permanent Secretariat 2014-

Apreciados Colegas:

Ante todo quiero darles gracias por aceptar a Polonia como miembro en la Secretaría Permanente del Congreso Hemisférico de Camacol.

Hace apenas un par de semanas acabamos de regresar de Polonia de un viaje muy exitoso con los líderes de estado de Florida y de Camacol. Como objetivo de este viaje fue a conocer nuestros socios y aliados, tanto del sector privado como del sector de gobierno y para confirmar el enorme potencial comercial que existe entre Las Américas y Europa Central y del Este.

La introducción del sistema democrático, la transición de la economía controlada por el Estado al mercado libre y la realización de reformas económicas fueron la fuerza impulsora detrás de la adaptación a la economía global de la economía polaca de hoy. Polonia y los paises de Europa Central y del Este tienen una experiencia única en transformación política y económica. El intercambio de experiencias y asesoría técnica entre la nuestros paises y de instituciones públicas parece ser muy importante para ayudar a mejorar las estructuras existentes en América Latina, y podría convertirse en un área de cooperación estratégica.

Vale la pena subrayar de que en América Latina vive más de 6.5 millones de descendientes polacas, de los cuales casi 2 millones en Brasil. Polonia mantiene relaciones diplomáticas con 33 estados de Latino América y Caribe.

Polonia, uno de los países con crecimiento más dinámico de la Unión Europea (UE) y el único que evitó entrar en recesión en 2009, vive un proceso de expansión económica y mira a América Latina como uno de sus objetivos preferentes


Miami, Florida, May 1, 2015

Apreciados Colegas:

Ante todo quiero darles gracias por aceptar a Polonia como miembro en la Secretaría Permanente del Congreso Hemisférico de Camacol.

Hace apenas un par de semanas acabamos de regresar de Polonia de un viaje muy exitoso con los líderes de estado de Florida y de Camacol. Como objetivo de este viaje fue a conocer nuestros socios y aliados, tanto del sector privado como del sector de gobierno y para confirmar el enorme potencial comercial que existe entre Las Américas y Europa Central y del Este.

La introducción del sistema democrático, la transición de la economía controlada por el Estado al mercado libre y la realización de reformas económicas fueron la fuerza impulsora detrás de la adaptación a la economía global de la economía polaca de hoy. Polonia y los paises de Europa Central y del Este tienen una experiencia única en transformación política y económica.

El intercambio de experiencias y asesoría técnica entre la nuestros paises y de instituciones públicas parece ser muy importante para ayudar a mejorar las estructuras existentes en América Latina, y podría convertirse en un área de cooperación estratégica.

Vale la pena subrayar de que en América Latina vive más de 6.5 millones de descendientes polacas, de los cuales casi 2 millones en Brasil. Polonia mantiene relaciones diplomáticas con 33 estados de Latino América y Caribe.

Polonia, uno de los países con crecimiento más dinámico de la Unión Europea (UE) y el único que evitó entrar en recesión en 2009, vive un proceso de expansión económica y mira a América Latina como uno de sus objetivos preferentes.

Al día de hoy, la inversión más grande de Polonia en Latinoamérica por más de 3 mil millones de dólares, ha sido en Chile la empresa KGHM, que es la segunda mayor productora de cobre de Europa y la más grande del mundo de plata.

Hasta ahora la cooperación económica entre Polonia y Latinoamérica ha sido limitada principalmente en cuatro sectores: automotriz, material primas, explotación y ciertos productos de agroindustria y desde el año 2010 también en el sector de defensa con ciertos paises.

Sin embargo actualmente existen 15 sectores de la industria polaca con un enorme potencial de cooperación.

De acuerdo con el Vice-Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Polonia, encargado de los asuntos europeos, Piotr Serafin, en 2014-2020, Polonia recibirá casi 500 mil millones PLN (alrededor de 138 mil millones de dolares), en lugar de 441 mln PLN, es decir, la suma de los precios constantes. "El método de cálculo de las cantidades reales de precios constantes en los precios actuales se regula por la ley. También es una parte del acuerdo presupuestario ", dijo el funcionario en una conferencia.

Polonia seguirá siendo el mayor beneficiario de fondos de la UE hasta el final de esta década, lo que debería ayudar a que se une a las 20 principales economías del mundo para el 2022.

Las 14 zonas económicas especiales están esperando a las empresas extranjeras para crear consorcios o join ventures para entrar en el mercado de la Unión Europea.

De conformidad con las prioridades de la política exterior de Polonia 2012-2016, en lo que respecta a América Latina, un factor clave en las relaciones "Polonia-Latinoamérica" es la participación de Polonia en la redacción y aplicación de la política de la Unión Europea (UE) hacia la región.

Polonia está a favor de una rápida ratificación del Acuerdo de Asociación UE - Centroamérica, y el Acuerdo de Comercio de la UE con Perú y Colombia (ambos acuerdos se firmaron en junio de 2012) y de las futuras negociaciones sobre Acuerdo de Asociación UE-Mercosur.

Por lo tanto la Cámara Polaco-Americana de Comercio de Florida y Las Américas y Polish Trade Center Corp. sugiere dentro del marco de Camacol, creación de 5 grupos de trabajo: MERCOSUR, PACTO ANDINO, CAFTA, CARICOM y PECE (Polonia y Europa Central y del Este), los cuales tendrían por el objetivo principal identificar las aéreas de sinergia y cooperación económica entre sus regiones respectivas.

Hoy me da un enorme placer aceptar como la sede a Polonia para el Congreso Hemisférico Camacol en el año 2016. Me es grato notificar también, de que esta iniciativa tiene el apoyo de nuestro embajador en Washington, DC el Sr. Ryszard Schnepf y del gobierno de Polonia.

Aprovechando esta oportunidad, quiero informarles de que nuestra cámara proveerá los boletos aéreos a los presidentes de los 22 paises miembros de Camacol en el viaje desde Miami a Polonia para mencionado congreso. A cambio esperamos de que cada cámara de comercio se comprometa a traer mínimo 5 empresas en las 2 o 3 industrias de más potencial entre sus determinados paises y Polonia y la Europa Central y del Este.


Leszek Ladowski

cc Wifredo Willy Gort, Chairman Hemispheric Congress 
Mario O. Gutiérrez, Presidente Camacol 
       Jose Miguel Izquierdo Encarnación, Presidente Cámara de Comercio de Puerto Rico;           Presidente de la Secretaría Permanente 2014-2015

Mrs. Betty Gradera 
305 642 3870 ext 202 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Nobel Winner’s Math Is Showing S&P 500 Unhinged From Reality (BusinessWeek)

James Tobin, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Yale University.

If you sold every share of every company in the U.S. and used the money to buy up all the factories, machines and inventory, you’d have some cash left over. That, in a nutshell, is the math behind a bear case on equities that says prices have outrun reality.
The concept is embodied in a measure known as the Q ratio developed by James Tobin, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Yale University who died in 2002. According to Tobin’s Q, equities in the U.S. are valued about 10 percent above the cost of replacing their underlying assets -- higher than any time other than the Internet bubble and the 1929 peak.
Valuation tools are being dusted off around Wall Street as investors assess the staying power of the bull market that is now the second longest in 60 years. To Andrew Smithers, the 77-year-old former head of SG Warburg’s investment arm, the Q ratio is an indicator whose time has come because it illuminates distortions caused by quantitative easing.
“QE is a very dangerous policy, in my view, because it has pushed asset prices up and high asset prices, we know from history, are very dangerous,” Smithers, founder of Smithers & Co. in London, said in a phone interview. “It is very strongly indicated by reliable measures that we’re looking at a stock market which is something like 80 percent over-priced.”

Dissenting Views

Acceptance of Tobin’s theory is at best uneven, with investors such as Laszlo Birinyi saying the ratio is useless as a signal because it would have kept you out of a bull market that has added $17 trillion to share values. Others see its meaning debased in an economy whose reliance on manufacturing is nothing like it used to be.
To Smithers, the ratio’s doubling since 2009 to 1.10 is a symptom of companies diverting money from their businesses to the stock market, choosing buybacks over capital spending. Six years of zero-percent interest rates have similarly driven investors into riskier things like equities, elevating the paper value of assets over their tangible worth, he said.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was little changed at 10 a.m. in New York.
Members in the benchmark gauge last year spent about 95 percent of their profits on buybacks and dividends, with stock repurchases exceeding $2 trillion since 2009, data compiled by S&P Dow Jones Indices show.
In the first four months of this year, almost $400 billion of buybacks were announced, with February, March and April ranking as three of the four busiest months ever, according to data compiled by Birinyi Associates Inc.

Slow Spending

Spending by companies on plants and equipment is lagging behind. While capital investment also rose to a record in 2014, its growth was 11 percent over the last two years, versus 45 percent in buybacks, data compiled by Barclays Plc show.
With equity prices surging and investment growth failing to keep pace, the Q ratio has risen to 58 percent above its average of 0.70 since 1900, according todata compiled by Birinyi and the Federal Reserve on market and asset values for non-financial companies. Readings above 1 are considered by some to be too high and the ratio has exceeded that threshold only 12 percent of the time, mostly between 1995 to 2001.
That’s nothing to be alarmed about because the American economy has become more oriented around services than manufacturing, according to George Pearkes, an analyst at Harrison, New York-based Bespoke Investment Group LLC. Nowadays, companies like Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. dominate growth, while decades ago, it was railroads and steelmakers, which rely heavily on capital.

Mean Reversion

“Does that necessarily mean that the Q ratio should be as high as it is right now? I don’t know,” Pearkes said by phone. “With those sorts of long-term indicators, they can sometimes mean that the market is overvalued. But the reversion to the mean on them is usually going to take a lot longer than most people’s time frame.”
Any investors who based their investment decisions on the Q ratio would have missed most of the rally since 2009, according to Jeffrey Yale Rubin, director of research at Birinyi’s firm. The measure rose above its historic mean three months into this bull market and since then, the S&P 500 has climbed 131 percent.
“The issue we have with Tobin Q is that it does a very poor job at timing the market,” Rubin said from Westport, Connecticut. “The followers of Tobin Q never told us to buy in 2009, yet now we are warned that we should sell. Our response is sell what? We were never told to buy.”

Bond Yields

Everyone from Janet Yellen to Warren Buffett has spoken cautiously on stock valuations in the past month. Both the Fed chair and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said prices are at risk of getting stretched should bond yields increase. The rate on 10-year Treasuries slipped last week to 2.14 percent while the S&P 500 gained 0.3 percent.
“It’s probably a sensible configuration for the stock market to be overvalued because competing investments are so poor,” Robert Brusca, president of Fact & Opinion Economics in New York, said by phone. “As an investor, you’re not just looking at the value of the firm, but the value of the firm relative to other things you can do with your money.”
At 2,260 days, the bull market that began in March 2009 this month exceeded the 1974-1980 rally as the second longest since 1956. While measures such as price-to-earnings ratios are holding just above historical averages, the bull market’s duration is sowing anxiety among professionals who watched the previous two end in catastrophe.
“We’re still close enough to that prior experience and that hold-over effect is still there,” Chris Bouffard, chief investment officer who oversees more than $10 billion at Mutual Fund Store in Overland Park, Kansas, said by phone. “When you start to see prior cycle peaks on the chart like Tobin Q and any other valuation metrics that people are putting up there, it looks dramatic, stark and scary.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How tech is aiding disaster relief after the Nepal earthquakes

NASA heartbeat detection

This search and rescue technology by NASA found survivors buried under 10 feet of debris. The device, called Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (or FINDER) listens for heartbeats and breaths of survivors trapped beneath 30 feet of rubble, within 100 feet in open spaces, or behind 20 feet of concrete. The microwave radar technology can find someone within five feet.

Person Finder

Google brought back an adapted version of itsPerson Finder after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit. Person Finder originally launched in 2010 after the massive Haiti earthquake. Individuals can post details about friends or family members they believe are missing or affected by the earthquake, or post information about someone if they think they've seen them.

Nepal Monitor

Ushahidi, which is a crowdsourced mapping platform, doesn't have software deployments in Nepal, but because of the earthquake, they are monitoring closely how their software is being used by people there. They are looking at two locally run deployments, and one is Nepal Monitor, which collects human rights and security reports. It's being used to track the earthquakes.

Crowdsourced mapping

This platform, Nepal Earthquakes 2015, is also locally run, and offers information about where the earthquakes hit the hardest, places to donate clothes, food, and other guides, as well as where volunteers are needed. People on the ground have worked with USAID and the World Bank to compile and organize the information.


So, it's not new tech, but Facebook raised $10 million for Nepal in two days, simply because they launched that little donate button that appears on the top of your newsfeed. The money will go to nonprofit International Medical Corps. Facebook also launchedSafety Check, which allows people to send messages to people in Nepal.

Solar power

Nepal had power blackouts long before the earthquake. After it hit, of course, health clinics and hospitals are overflowing, and electricity is crucial. People are turning to solar power to keep the power running, and nonprofits are raising money to donate solar power systems. For instance, SunFarmer has raised more than $100,000 to donate and install solar projects throughout the country. All the donations will be doubled, up to $20,000, by the organization's corporate partners, and in Canada, the government is tripling the donations to relief aid.

Drone damage assessment

Drones have been used in several ways following the earthquakes, including news coverage --CNN and NBC have both used it extensively -- and for damage assessment. Global Medic has a fleet of four drones in Nepal (pictured is one of the types, the Aeryon Scout), using them to provide real time assessment to emergency responders. However, Nepal has moved to limit the number of drones, and they now have to be approved by the Civil Aviation Authority.


Crowdfunding, which started becoming popular post-disasters after Hurricane Sandy, has reached new heights with the earthquakes in Nepal. Indiegogo,which now has an entire section of the site dedicated to funding campaigns for aid relief, has raised more than $1.5 million from 134 different campaigns and more than 16,000 people.


Though it's nothing new, SMS messaging is still very effective during disaster relief. Global Giving has raised about half of its $5 million funding goal.


Tomnod is a crowdsourced platform for people to use satellite images to explore and solve problems. For Nepal, Tomnod asked people to start by comparing before and after imagery and place tags on every damaged road or building they find.