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Looking beyond the bull market

moneymatter 600When the latest bull market for U.S. stocks reached the five-year mark on March 10, 2014, only five bulls had lasted longer. The Standard & Poor's 500 index posted a gain of 177 percent for the five-year period.

The current bull followed on the heels of the Great Recession and the worst stock market decline since the 1929 stock market crash. The most recent bear market began in October 2007; the S&P 500 fell 57 percent before hitting the bottom on March 9, 2009.

In typical fashion, investors who sold stocks during the downturn may not have participated fully in some of the subsequent bull market gains. A recent Morningstar study found that emotional trading practices had a negative effect on investment returns over the last decade. For the 10-year period ending December 31, 2013, investor dollars returned an average of 2.5 percentage points per year less than the average mutual fund's performance, largely because people have a tendency to buy high and sell low.

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Prince ends 17-year war with Warner Bros.

prince 600Who can forget Prince's highly publicized split from his record label Warner Bros. in 1996?

The "When Doves Cry" singer scrawled the word "slave" on his face and even changed his name to a symbol as a form of retaliation against the record label which released his most popular albums in the 1980s and early '90s.

Now, some 17 years later, Prince has returned to Warner Bros. and is regaining complete ownership of his entire catalog.

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Harlem’s ‘Gang of Four is no more’

GangOf4 600New York City lost one of its most powerful progressive forces Wednesday with the passing of Basil Paterson.

As a member of the influential "Gang of Four," Paterson – along with former Mayor David Dinkins, late civil rights activist Percy Sutton, and Congressman Charles Rangel – helped to develop the economic and political capital of the city's black community.

With Paterson and Sutton both now deceased, many are now looking back on the legacy of the Gang of Four and wondering if there is a void in New York City's black political leadership.

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Open house beckons children and parents to Kamp KSI

kampksi 600Inside Kairos Services, double doors opened, and children ran excitedly to a large table set up with green and gold pawns. Rather than video games and iPads, these children are excited about chess, just one of the disciplines taught during Kamp KSI.

Kairos, a nonprofit that works to help people become self-sufficient through employment, hosted an open house for the camp, which is in its second year. The camp for children ages 6-12 teaches an array of disciplines to foster critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. Herbert Lester, executive director, says the goal is to prepare children to be globally competent, which will help them secure jobs and become model citizens.

"The United States has fallen in academics compared to other countries. Our children must learn skills and competencies to compete with students from across the globe," Lester says. "Kamp KSI equips our campers to think critically, problem solve creatively and work collaboratively through fun activities that children enjoy."

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‘Vanishing Pearls: The Oystermen of Pointe a la Hache’

VanishingPearl 600On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig owned and operated by British Petroleum (BP), exploded, spilling over 50 million barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico before it was finally capped weeks later. In June, President Obama announced that the company had set aside $20 billion in cash designated to help those deleteriously affected by the ecological disaster.

Kenneth Feinberg's law firm, which had previously handled the distribution of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, was retained at a rate of $850,000/month to handle the BP one also. Although the TV commercials running in the company's highly-saturated PR campaign would have you believe that it was contrite and committed to undoing any damage, truth be told, that carefully-cultivated corporate image bore little relation to how it was actually treating many of the victims seeking restitution.

Take, for example, Pointe a la Hache, an African-American enclave located in Plaquemines Parish, La. For generations, the men of that Gulf shore village of less than 300 had supported their families by plying their trade as oyster fishermen. However, the BP spill put the brothers out of business and by 2012 the tiny African-American community had effectively been turned into a ghost town.

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