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B’s Dominate Wings, Take Game 3—shut out Detroit 3-0 to take 2-1 series…

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Dear John: Single Dad - How Do I Handle Daughter’s Adolescence?—How to support your daughter through puberty

State Report: Marijuana Tax + Bill Targets Prostitutes and Pimps—Plus increased sentences for gang crimes

John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud—JR's column on the sports stories and personalities…

 
 

Friday Financial Five – January 17th, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

 

A Federal budget will be a reality in 2014

A positive trend coming out of Congress is a seemingly earnest attempt to create a spending budget, something that has eluded them for some years now. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives put forth a $1.1 trillion spending bill, with the intention of reducing the deficit by over $20 billion in the next few years. The bill was quickly approved by the Senate on Thursday in hopes of being signed into law by Saturday, and includes the necessary funding for the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank. The bill also avoids drastic cuts to military and domestic spending programs and isn’t expected to restore unemployment benefits.

Improved regulation for European banks

2014 will be the year that the European Central Bank will finally have a single regulatory body to provide central banking oversight. The Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) will review bank assets and conduct stress tests. This level of oversight hasn’t been in place since the start of the Euro. The hope is that a central body will lead to improved regulatory clarity and continued improvement in bank fundamentals. There has been a decrease in nonperforming loans and banks are making more money and the ECB would like to see that continue.

A continued shift in the face of retailing

There’s continued weakness in the ability of bricks and mortar stores to compete with low margin online retailers. Best Buy becomes the latest to suffer a disappointing fourth quarter in 2013, joining JCPenney and others. Best Buy’s strategy of lowering prices to combat online pricing has helped move more volume, reflecting in an improved 2013 stock performance, but it appears to be a perpetually uphill battle. Online retailers simply have less overhead and upkeep to worry about and that’s not going to change.

Juggling both HSAs and FSAs

A household utilizing a Health Savings Account in conjunction with work health insurance plan might also have a Flexible Spending Account available. What some may not know is that those accounts are not necessarily supposed to be used simultaneously. When one has both an FSA and an HSA, the FSA must be “limited”, meaning it can only be used for non-medical expenses. This would include dental, vision, and some medicines. The HSA would be used for medical expenses only.

Huge donation for cancer research

While sometimes easy to vilify the wealthy, there are often reminders that philanthropic individuals can lead to transformative change in important areas. Twenty years after his death, the estate of shipping magnate Daniel Ludwig continues to make improvements possible in the area of cancer research. To start the year, Ludwig’s estate donated $540 million to previously established facilities at Johns Hopkins, MIT, Sloan-Kettering, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and Harvard University. This latest contribution brings his total contribution to global cancer research to $2.5 billion.

 

Dan Forbes is a regular contributor on financial issues. He is a CFP Board Ambassador. He leads the firm Forbes Financial Planning, Inc in Providence, RI and can be reached at dforbes@forbesplanning.com


Related Slideshow:
13 Biggest Business Stories in RI in 2013

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13 Best Biz Cities in RI

GoLocal's examination of the Best Cities and Towns to do business in RI explored new ground for companies looking to relocate or expand.

Our researchers culled municipally-distinct data on tax rates, workforce availability, cost of living index, economic indicators for short term and long-term job growth, even average driving time to TF Green Airport, to quantify a blend of factors that make for a pro-business environment. Because every city and state in RI complies by statewide measures, those metrics weren't included in GoLocal's research.

READ THE STUDY

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12 Superman

Our coverage of the Superman building's threatened future started back in 2011, when a news story by GoLocal's News Team first unveiled the threat that Bank of America would leave the building and leave the city with the largest embarrassment.

In the story, The Superman Building: Downtown’s Ticking Time Bomb - former Mayor and developer Joe Paolino predicted the demise of the iconic building.

The failure to act by the Taveras Administration created the tallest embarrasment in America - one that has been reported by most every news organization in America.

GoLocal covered the demise of the building throughout the year.

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11 JetBlue Factor

JetBlue's arrival to Rhode Island was first announced by GoLocal is the summer of 2012, but no one quite knew the impact of the JetBlue factor, until a promotion by the airline was launched in partnership with the Big Blue Bug, which rocked the internet and sold out $20 tickets in minutes.

The promotion launched on GoLocalProv showed the world of advertising has changed forever. 

Launched one minute and thousands sold out nearly instantly.

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10 New England's Business

GoLocal's business team loves to collect and breakdown critical data to help Rhode Islander's get a beat on the story or even the bigger story.

One massively wide-read story was one that pivoted off the data of the Milken Institute and its rankings of all the cities in America.

The Best-Performing Cities study is published annually in order to highlight the cities and metropolitan areas in the U.S. that are prospering, and to point out those that are struggling from a structural point of view. By examining job, wage, and technology metrics over a five-year period, the publication utilizes a data-driven approach to provide a comprehensive measure of economic strength.

See which New England cities ranked best overall--both in the 200 largest metros pool and the 176 smallest metros pool.

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9 Arcade is Back

GoLocal has been tracking the Arcade since we came online in 2010 - from investigative video reports about the homeless living in the building to restoration and the reopenning.

While the financial district is only a shadow of itself - kudos need to go out Evan Granoff for pouring millions into the restoration of the classic Greek revival edifice.

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8 38 Studios Defendants

An exclusive report by GoLocal's Investigative Team unveiled that defendant's in the 38 Studio's lawsuit had filed responses, and they had a very different opinion of what caused the collapse and the loss of $100 million to the State of Rhode Island. 

Almost every defendant pinned the blame on Governor Lincoln Chafee for failing to give oversight and then hitting the panic button and forcing the ultimate collapse of the company.

GoLocal posted more than 440 page of court documents.

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7 Social Media

Social media continues to flex its muscle and demonstrate that it is far more influential than legacy media. 

Twitters IPO and the progression of the Facebook model have redefined business.

One article in GoLocal's on going coverage of the metamorphosis of social media was a great guidance article by Johnson & Wales' Sierra Barter which functionally went viral. 

Amazingly, one of the biggest stories of 2013, the effort by union leaders to force John DePetro off the air for calling female teacher protestors "WHORES," has been battled almost exclsuively on social media. 

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6 Alex and Ani Growth

Rhode Island's homegrown Alex and Ani continues at rocket speed growth. 

The Cranston-based, Made in America jewelry company continues to bundle the very best of Rhode Island: jewelry design, old school manufacturing and smart marketing.

According to a study by Bryant University:

 

• Generated $80.04 million in revenue, including $22.06 million in sales in the state of Rhode Island, $51.42 million in sales in other U.S. states, and $6.57 million in exports.

• Supported 1,094 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in Rhode Island, from which 296 are direct FTE jobs and 798 are induced FTE jobs.

• Created $35.4 million in income for Rhode Island households. Direct earnings totaled $10.32 million and induced earnings totaled $25.1 million.

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5 College Endowments

In Rhode Island, colleges and universities are big business. They are major economic engines and each of the local colleges readily announce the positive impact they have on the local economy and job creation.

GoLocal's look at the top 50 endowments of the college and universities in New England, found that Harvard's $30+ billion endowment overshadowed all other colleges in New England.

Brown ranked ranked 5th in New England and 28th overall with an endowment of more than $2.4 billion.

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4 Fastest Growing

While Rhode Island's economy is trailing the rest of the country, there are some bright spots. Throughout 2013, GoLocal featured a number of companies that were fast-growing.

Inc Magazine's fastest growing companies in the US list flagged some real growth engines.

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3 Twin River Rebound

Twin River is now a real casino with humans not video tapes dealing black jack.

Under the leadership of John Taylor, the company has rebounded from bankruptcy and become a model for gaming firms.

Now, Twin River is expanding and has made a strategic purchase in Mississippi.

With casinos coming online in Massachusetts sometime in the future, Twin River is doing a better job diversifying and planning for the future than the state of Rhode Island, who is so dependent on the revenue.

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2 Unemployment

Rhode Island's unemployment situtation is a national embarrassment, and it is hard to see a governmental strategy designed for its improvement. In the post-38 Studios environment, decision-makers are affraid to champion significant initiatives.

The result is now that Rhode Island is last in America in unemployment and the crisis has gone on without improvement for years and years.

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1 Demise of Newspapers

In the past year, the Providence Journal has laid off, demanded buyout or pushed retirements of over 50 reporters, editors and photographers - a staggering percentage of the newsroom.

Many of the those who departed were among the most recognized. Pulitzer Prize winning writer Mike Stanton quit to take a teaching job at UConn and now freelances for the Boston Globe.

Speaking of the Boston Globe, Red Sox owner John Henry bought the Globe from the New York Times for $70 million which represented a 97% loss in value for what the NYTimes had paid for the Globe and other related media.

As GoLocal's Pultizer Prize winning reporter Dean Starkman has written repeatedly about the need for media to invest in content. His words seem to fall on deaf ears.

 
 

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