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Miscellaneous

Amazon Reports Record Holiday Sales

The overall holiday sales numbers for brick and mortar stores are not in yet, but are projected to be a couple of percent lower than last year.  This is not good news for the stores—or our economy.

However, contrast that to Amazon, the world’s largest Internet retailer, which reported record holiday sales this year. Consider (according to bloomberg.com) that for Amazon:

  • 6.3 million items were ordered on its peak day (Dec. 15)
  • 5.6 million items were shipped on its peak day
  • 99 percent of goods arrived in time to meet holiday deadlines

Amazon is likely a harbinger for all Internet retailers. Amazon’s success is not to imply that all online retail sites set record sales numbers this holiday season, or even surpassed last year, but it certainly does suggest a trend.

I am a case in point. For my Christmas shopping (as well as my non-Christmas buying) in the past month or so, I purchased much more online than from physical stores. These online excursions included multiple purchases from several Websites; unfortunately, not all of them worked out to my satisfaction or met my expectations — for a few of them, I’m still waiting for problems to be resolved.

Amazon, however, is a consistent, notable exception, having provided me with ease of use, accurate deliveries, and quick shipments—on multiple orders. I recommend them to people looking to buy books (and other products) and also hold them up as an example for other online stores to emulate.

Amazon.com is showing us the future today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Miscellaneous

An Economy Needlessly Spiraling Out of Control

We are in the midst of a wide-scale panic in the stock markets with prices plummeting daily. At this point, there is no legitimate cause for the mass selling; people are basically reacting out of fear without thinking clearly or logically. (And it doesn’t help when media folks with a huge following are telling everyone to sell.) 

Two key points of investing are as true now as ever:

  1. Take a long-term view; don’t seek short-term results.
  2. Buy low and sell high. Right now is the time to buy, because there are great deals out there. Instead, too many people are panic selling; they bought high and are selling low—a guaranteed way to lose money.

Even if your portfolio is out of balance or you want to take a less-risky position, now is not the time to make adjustments, because you will certainly take a loss. Ride it out and wait for things to rebound, as they certainly will.

When Charlie Rose had an exclusive interview with Warren Buffett. His comments are astute and insightful; everyone should take a listen and carefully consider what he has to say.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Miscellaneous

China—The Sleeping Giant is Stirring

The Olympics is now a week past, yet only yesterday did I finish watching the coverage that I recorded on my DVR.

Three times during the Olympics I came within minutes of filling up my DVR’s hard drive. Once I did need to delete about 20 hours of unviewed programming so that I could record more. But other than that, I was able to keep one-step ahead of the recorder.

This week, though, I was able to view the Olympics at a more leisurely pace, without the pressure of additional events being recorded on a dwindling amount of memory. I was finally able to watch the Gold medal match in men’s basketball, which was much closer than expected and a great game.

The closing ceremonies were awe-inspiring, just like the opening ceremonies. But the one thing that I can’t shake is the knowledge that China reportedly spent close to 40 billion dollars on the games. That’s an incredible amount of money that certainly could have been spent on more important investments or laudable pursuits.

True, Beijing will end up with some great infrastructure as a result and the world likely has a more complete perspective of the nation of China, but at a cost of 40 billion dollars?

Throughout it though, I have truly realized that China is indeed a sleeping giant—and the giant is beginning to awake.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Business Articles

Wasteful Packaging

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

I continue to be amazed at the way certain products are packaged. There is often waste and much more packaging material than is needed or justified. The black hose fitting below is accompanied by the blue holder. Both made of plastic, the holder, or packaging, is about 25 to 33% of the size if the fitting. This would suggest that of the dollar I paid for this product, 25 to 33 cents was actually for packaging. One might argue that there must be some means by which to hang the product on the display, but alas, they were all lying loose in a bin. Although I don’t understand it, oil is required for plastic, so why are we wasting oil for unnecessary plastic packaging?

Another perplexing packaging arrangement is HP printer cartridges. This is wrong on many fronts. The box is much bigger than it needs to be, a cardboard insert is needed to keep product from sliding around in the over-sized package, a sealed “recycling” pamphlet that accomplishes little, and a foil wrapper. (Dell just uses a foil wrapper for their cartridges—why can’t HP do the same?)

KFC meals are a third example of an excessive amount of “packaging” material. The quantity of none eatable product that goes straight to the landfill on every meal is shocking. It is so much that I find it hard to enjoy their food. (I thought about going to KFC and buying a meal so that I could take a picture of all the packaging used, but wouldn’t that make me an unnecessary contributor to the problem?) Other fast food outlets have figured a way to minimize their food packaging, why can’t KFC follow their environmentally friendly practices?

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is publisher, editor, author, and blogger with 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for tips and insights.

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Categories
Miscellaneous

The Mortgage Crisis Perpetrators and Their Victims

As bad news about the mortgage crisis continues to flow unabated, my emotions vacillate between pity and ire.

The lending institutions knew—or at least had a moral responsibility to know—exactly what they were doing and the possible ramifications.  They engaged in fiscally risky behavior and got burnt. I have no remorse for them per se. Unfortunately, most of their employees and stockholders are innocent victims of greedy business practices. I am sad on their account, but how do you punish the businesses and protect the stakeholders?

Some borrowers fully understood the risks, optimistically assuming ever-appreciating property values and easy access to credit to refinance their highly leveraged real estate portfolios. I don’t pity their plight.  They took an aggressive gamble—and lost. They’ll get exactly what they deserve—unless the government bails them out, then they get what they don’t deserve—compassion.

Other borrowers didn’t understand the ramifications of sub-prime loans.  Some were duped by aggressive lenders and I’m sure others were lied to. Their risks were downplayed or dismissed, while being assured they could “own” a house they really couldn’t afford. True, they should have been more careful and could have been more prudent, but the reality is that they were preyed upon and taken advantage of. Now they’re in over their head, with seemingly no way out.

We don’t hear too much about a fourth group: renters in repossessed properties. They paid their rent on time every month, but when their landlords lose the property, the renters are evicted. They are innocent victims. My heart aches for them. They weren’t greedy, they didn’t make a bad decision, they weren’t duped or lied to; they merely had the misfortune of renting from the wrong people.

The US government (who is complicit in this mess by creating the convoluted laws that allowed it in the first place) has and will continue to bail out some of those affected. Unfortunately, I see no attempt to rescue the hapless renter who is now homeless as a result—and that’s who most deserving and needing help.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.