Monday, October 8, 2007

The 16th Century Entrepreneur Who Created the Concept of the Taxi

The 16th century was a time of amazing transformation in Europe. The Dark Ages were gone, the Black Plague had run it course and Middle Age fears and superstitions were slowly disappearing. The printing press had been invented and it was completely revamping the way people communicated. Columbus had discovered the Americas and the great age of exploration was in full swing. Medical advances, the Reformation, the creation of the great Italian banking houses and the Dutch trading companies had completely changed the way people thought, worked and worshipped.

And yet, there was one area in which there had been virtually no advance since the time of Christ: transportation. Horse or mule, horse drawn carts and boat were the methods of travel utilized to convey people, goods and foodstuffs. Travel was slow. It was uncomfortable. And, it was often very dangerous. Brigands and pirates faced little in the way of organized policing. A bandit pretty much had a field day during the period.

Of all the difficulties a traveler faced, the most frustrating by far was speed: or the lack thereof. As the great Florentine, Venetian and Genoan merchant banks financed warfare, fleets, crops, expeditions and colonization, they had to continually factor a risk premium into their risk/reward computations before settling on the interest to be charged on each loan. The slowness of receiving news of progress, success or failure on the status of an investment vehicle was agonizing to all parties participating in an enterprise. Did the fleet sink, or is it close to home with a valuable cargo? Has the battle been engaged, and who won? Was a new land discovered, and what did it offer in minerals or trade goods as materials for profit?

Knowledge is power, and speed provides the edge that makes this power so important. If I know today, what my enemy or rival will not know for several days, I have a decided advantage on strategizing to my advantage and profit. In the 16th century an industrious Belgian family developed the first international service to address the ages old problem of slow communication.

The Tassis family had obtained the rights to handle a rudimentary postal service in several Duchies in what is now Belgium. The service promised a decent living for the Tassis family by the standards of the time. However, they wanted to do more, expand and create a service that could become the international standard.

The Tassis family divided the work responsibilities between family members and had them disperse throughout Europe. The key to their success was a cohesive, standardized system of fleet horses, experienced, responsible riders, a network of terminals to change horse, rider and re-route mail and packages, and scheduled delivery times. Spain, France, Italy and Germany were little more than a polyglot of feudal city states during this time. There was no central government to handle a service like mail delivery that we consider routine today. The opportunity for a private company to organize and manage an international operation of this import and scale was a wonder.

The Tassis received contracts to handle the delivery of mail throughout most of continental Europe. From Naples to the Danube, and Gibraltar to Copenhagen, the family built a delivery network that managers at DHL, UPS, or FedEx would admire and recognize today. A treaty, legal contract or purchase order that took five weeks to reach Genoa from Madrid, could now be delivered in seven to 10 days. As the loads increased the price was lowered and this only accelerated the use of the service.

The family became rich, powerful and across Europe became members of the aristocracy. The name Tassis in the German language is spelled taxis. Today, everywhere in the world, people call for a taxicab when they need to transport themselves for a fare. The taxi service created by the Tassis was an important part of the development of the Renaissance.

The Tassis are responsible for one of the most elemental and important service enhancements in history. The ability to accelerate the movement of important commercial, legal and governmental communications enabled decisions to be made more quickly and on a grander scale. The entrepreneurial innovation that the Tassis family introduced enriched their family, business, government and, most importantly, the working class that benefited so much from the rapid expansion of capital and trade. Even today, we can still learn from the historical record that the ability to offer a novel new benefit pays off in so many ways.

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Mr. Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, Inc. ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

FOREX 101: Make Money with Currency Trading

For those unfamiliar with the term, FOREX (FOReign EXchange market), refers to an international exchange market where currencies are bought and sold. The Foreign Exchange Market that we see today began in the 1970's, when free exchange rates and floating currencies were introduced. In such an environment only participants in the market determine the price of one currency against another, based upon supply and demand for that currency.

FOREX is a somewhat unique market for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is one of the few markets in which it can be said with very few qualifications that it is free of external controls and that it cannot be manipulated. It is also the largest liquid financial market, with trade reaching between 1 and 1.5 trillion US dollars a day. With this much money moving this fast, it is clear why a single investor would find it near impossible to significantly affect the price of a major currency. Furthermore, the liquidity of the market means that unlike some rarely traded stock, traders are able to open and close positions within a few seconds as there are always willing buyers and sellers.

Another somewhat unique characteristic of the FOREX money market is the variance of its participants. Investors find a number of reasons for entering the market, some as longer term hedge investors, while others utilize massive credit lines to seek large short term gains. Interestingly, unlike blue-chip stocks, which are usually most attractive only to the long term investor, the combination of rather constant but small daily fluctuations in currency prices, create an environment which attracts investors with a broad range of strategies.

How FOREX Works

Transactions in foreign currencies are not centralized on an exchange, unlike say the NYSE, and thus take place all over the world via telecommunications. Trade is open 24 hours a day from Sunday afternoon until Friday afternoon (00:00 GMT on Monday to 10:00 pm GMT on Friday). In almost every time zone around the world, there are dealers who will quote all major currencies. After deciding what currency the investor would like to purchase, he or she does so via one of these dealers (some of which can be found online). It is quite common practice for investors to speculate on currency prices by getting a credit line (which are available to those with capital as small as $500), and vastly increase their potential gains and losses. This is called marginal trading.

Marginal Trading

Marginal trading is simply the term used for trading with borrowed capital. It is appealing because of the fact that in FOREX investments can be made without a real money supply. This allows investors to invest much more money with fewer money transfer costs, and open bigger positions with a much smaller amount of actual capital. Thus, one can conduct relatively large transactions, very quickly and cheaply, with a small amount of initial capital. Marginal trading in an exchange market is quantified in lots. The term "lot" refers to approximately $100,000, an amount which can be obtained by putting up as little as 0.5% or $500.

EXAMPLE: You believe that signals in the market are indicating that the British Pound will go up against the US Dollar. You open 1 lot for buying the Pound with a 1% margin at the price of 1.49889 and wait for the exchange rate to climb. At some point in the future, your predictions come true and you decide to sell. You close the position at 1.5050 and earn 61 pips or about $405. Thus, on an initial capital investment of $1,000, you have made over 40% in profits. (Just as an example of how exchange rates change in the course of a day, an average daily change of the Euro (in Dollars) is about 70 to 100 pips.)

When you decide to close a position, the deposit sum that you originally made is returned to you and a calculation of your profits or losses is done. This profit or loss is then credited to your account.

Investment Strategies: Technical Analysis and Fundamental Analysis

The two fundamental strategies in investing in FOREX are Technical Analysis or Fundamental Analysis. Most small and medium sized investors in financial markets use Technical Analysis. This technique stems from the assumption that all information about the market and a particular currency's future fluctuations is found in the price chain. That is to say, that all factors which have an effect on the price have already been considered by the market and are thus reflected in the price. Essentially then, what this type of investor does is base his/her investments upon three fundamental suppositions. These are: that the movement of the market considers all factors, that the movement of prices is purposeful and directly tied to these events, and that history repeats itself. Someone utilizing technical analysis looks at the highest and lowest prices of a currency, the prices of opening and closing, and the volume of transactions. This investor does not try to outsmart the market, or even predict major long term trends, but simply looks at what has happened to that currency in the recent past, and predicts that the small fluctuations will generally continue just as they have before.

A Fundamental Analysis is one which analyzes the current situations in the country of the currency, including such things as its economy, its political situation, and other related rumors. By the numbers, a country's economy depends on a number of quantifiable measurements such as its Central Bank's interest rate, the national unemployment level, tax policy and the rate of inflation. An investor can also anticipate that less quantifiable occurrences, such as political unrest or transition will also have an effect on the market. Before basing all predictions on the factors alone, however, it is important to remember that investors must also keep in mind the expectations and anticipations of market participants. For just as in any stock market, the value of a currency is also based in large part on perceptions of and anticipations about that currency, not solely on its reality.

Make Money with Currency Trading on FOREX

FOREX investing is one of the most potentially rewarding types of investments available. While certainly the risk is great, the ability to conduct marginal trading on FOREX means that potential profits are enormous relative to initial capital investments. Another benefit of FOREX is that its size prevents almost all attempts by others to influence the market for their own gain. So that when investing in foreign currency markets one can feel quite confident that the investment he or she is making has the same opportunity for profit as other investors throughout the world. While investing in FOREX short term requires a certain degree of diligence, investors who utilize a technical analysis can feel relatively confident that their own ability to read the daily fluctuations of the currency market are sufficiently adequate to give them the knowledge necessary to make informed investments.

Rich McIver is a contributing writer for The Forex Blog: Currency Trading News ( ).

Mutual Funds - A Secure Investment For Your Future

Investment opportunities galore in today's globalized world, but if you do not want to take too many risks and earn handsome returns as well, then mutual fund investments are certainly your best bet. No doubt, a large portion of your invested money will be ultimately channeled to the so-called volatile stock markets, but you need not worry because your funds and that of other investors will be put under the management of seasoned professionals who will take care of the risks involved and ensure that you get the best possible returns from your investments. Moreover, since the mutual fund company will not charge you anything more than a small amount as processing fees, it makes more sense to opt for mutual funds rather than to make direct investments in the stock market.

Mutual funds have always been one of the most secure investment options available because they are based on the time tested logic - "never place all your eggs in the same basket." Money collected from retail investors such as you is channeled to various investment avenues such as equities, bonds, short-term money-market instruments and others, something that automatically reduces the associated investment risks. Investments risks are also reduced because most mutual fund companies often have intra company shareholdings that act as insurance against potential future downfalls or volatility in the money market.

It is not that your returns are guaranteed, but since the chances of earning profits is relatively more in case of mutual fund investments, it is always better to park your hard earned money in such secure instruments. You will benefit not only from the dividends that you will be entitled to receive, but also from the appreciation in the NAV (Net Asset Value) of your mutual fund units. Liquidity is also not a problem because you can sell your mutual fund units as and when you want at market rates (NAV). Your decision to sell will however be dictated by factors such as your present financial needs and your present and future financial goals and objectives.

Mutual funds are certainly one of the most secure investment avenues, but still you need to be prudent simply because not all mutual funds available in the market offer the same benefits. To ensure the safety and profitability of your investments, you will thus have to select only those funds that hold the most potential for future growth. It is only then will you be able to do justice to the phraseology: "Mutual Funds - A secure investment!"

GREG S. owns and manages his Mutual Funds website where you can get more useful information about investing in various types of Mutual Funds.

IF - The Wonders of Investing

If it seems as if all investors are

selling, who is buying?

If trading has become entertainment

for you, it may be time to refocus

on profits.

If your stock has reached an annual

low, can it go any lower?

If your stock has reached an annual

high, can it go any higher?

If all the television analysts jumped

off a bridge, would anyone care?

If your portfolio is based solely on

fundamental analysis, perhaps it

is time to learn technical analysis.

If I said you had a beautiful portfolio,

would you hold it against an index?

If you are tired of losing value on the

long side, perhaps its time to learn

both sides of the market.

If you do not have a written financial

plan, you should.

If you could put aside $205 at the

beginning of each month for thirty-

five years, with an 11% annualized

return you may save over $1


If you have stopped looking at your

portfolio statements, does that mean

your game plan is off?

If a fool and his money are easily

separated, who introduced the two?

If buy and hold is your philosophy,

why do you need a broker?

If a tree falls in the forest, does it ruin

the stock market for the day?

If someone invented a computer

program for investments that proved

100% correct all the time, we would

never know about it.

If you think the market capitulated,

you are not in a state of selling


If 1,000,000 lemmings jump, can they

all be wrong?

If you want to know what Greenspan

thinks about economics, count the

times he smiles.

If you expect nothing of your

portfolio, you will not be


If you are a rational investor, can you

benefit from an irrational market?

If you managed your money like the

government, you would take money

from your neighbor and spend it on

stock options that expire this week.

If you are confused with the opinions

of the media, create your own.

Wardlaw has been involved in the fields of investments and insurance for over twelve years. The author's belief is that familiar life elements best illustrate practical investment strategies; not typical investment jargon. For comments and questions, please contact the author at

Recent Trends In Real Estate

Real Estate industry in the recent years has been on a boom in all its five sectors, viz. Residential, Commercial, Retail, Industrial as well as Investment. Though there have been reports and rumors of crashing, real estate market has been fairly steady in its growth and will be growing further in the second half of year 2007. This is evident through economic indicators like stable rates, falling dollar, changing demographic trends, rising stock market.

The number of immigrants coming to USA has been increasing rapidly. It is estimated that USA will witness a rise in the number of immigrants from approximately 9 million in 1990 to around 12 million by 2010. The demand for home ownership among this section in USA is very high and they will make up for almost 30% of the market share by 2010. If the predictions made by Harvard are to be considered, they will have a combine purchasing power of $1.5 trillion. Also they might account for around 55% - 60% of first time homebuyers.

Homebuyers are becoming more and more cautious of their purchase decisions. Thus the real estate agents and brokers need to adopt more of a financial planner approach. Being the traditional real estate agent is not going to work for long. Thus the real estate industry has to be more global, institutional and professional. They need to have complete knowledge and reduced response time.

Technology too has a substantial role to play in changing real estate trends. The market scenario has been changing continuously, with more and more people taking help of Internet technology and engaging in free flow of information about buying and selling of property. Thus the real estate industry is shifting from its traditional broker dependent model to a new social networking model. Around 77% of the homebuyers surf through net to buy their dream house. The realtors too have joined this trend by providing free information online through their websites.

There has been a change in real estate advertising trends too. Since consumers have hands on ample knowledge, their tolerance levels have decreased. They expect real estate agents to give them more than usual. If consumers are not given exactly what they want, they'll instantly switch to other options. This calls for realtors to brand themselves more strongly.

Lets talk about the most preferred places for homebuyers in USA. Online searches make it evident that city of Manhattan; San Francisco, Philadelphia, Los Angels, San Diego, and Washington are more looked for.

While most parts of United States of America are witnessing a boom in real estate sector, people in New Orleans, Louisiana and Mississippi are struggling to sell their home. Sign boards saying, prices reduced' and new prices' can be seen alongside Victorian homes. All this comes as after effects of hurricane Katrina. Prices of property insurance have soared high here. There is a shortage of upper class buyers like doctors and other professionals. Looks like a complete rehabilitation here is going to take some more time.

Martin Lukac represents Purchase Loan and Refinance Loan financial marketplace which connects consumers with multiple mortgage companies that compete for their business. For more information please visit Recent Trends in Real Estate

How To Start Investing On The Stock Exchange

Without a doubt in my mind, I believe that the main reasons that most people are unsuccessful as investors are a lack of both preparation and discipline.

Investment in any form is a show of faith in the future, optimism if you prefer. Whether you are buying property, antiques or stocks, you are displaying your positive outlook for your future years.

Yet despite this obviously good intention, many people make dreadful investments and lose large amounts of money. This optimism can become blinding and prevents us from seeing obvious risks or pitfalls. If we do see them, we may discount them or fail to understand their potential implications.

Therefore, understanding the nature of risk is a key lesson that all investors should try to learn before they begin to invest directly in companies quoted on the stock exchange.

For years, investment newcomers were advised to start by choosing a few companies and investing on paper. In other words, the new investor would follow the progress of the company and share price without actually buying. Each day a new plot on a hand drawn graph of the company would help the investor to understand just a little more.

Over time, the investor might spot trends between the company and a leading index or sector. The price might move in odd and unpredictable ways causing a desire for more understanding and education to explain these mysteries.

This desire for new knowledge is a core trait of successful investors. To succeed in stock exchange investments, it is vital to firstly keep up to date, but if possible to stay ahead of the pack. This might mean reading trade journals, the annual reports of competing firms, company reviews, interviews and much more. This ongoing education is vital to success.

As computer technology has advanced and investment analysis tools that only a few years ago were expensive and highly specialised have proliferated, the basic learning process for an investor has changed.

Should it?

If plotting points on a graph hepled to truly understand the workings of a moving average or stop loss system, why stop? This used to be 'investment 101' but is now a task to be downloaded. For many investors, it was the most valuable investment they made. They learned to invest and to understand the workings of the stock exchange. They learned a skill, for others a trade.

This time and investment in learning will help the decision making process of an investor for years to come. It may both earn and save many thousands as the years pass.

Is this a process that you have taken? To accompany all the reading and theory that goes with investment generally, paper trading is an important pillar in understanding both investments and the stock exchange.

Stuart Langridge is an experienced investor and investment adviser. If you would like to read more of his down to earth investment advice, please click here:

Forex Day Trading Tips You Need to Know

The popularity of forex currency trading system continues to grow as more and more people have realized the potential income that they can earn from forex trading.

With a massive daily profit of $1.5 trillion, forex trading has definitely surpassed the combined profits of bond market and global stock market. This is probably the main reason why many people were enticed to try forex trading.

Along with the massive growth of forex trading comes the forex day trading. As its name implies, forex day trading mainly refers to the actual selling and buying of various foreign exchange currencies all throughout the day. Its main purpose is to come up with no net variation in place at the last part of the day. In other words, for every forex currency bought, there should be one currency sold.

In order to see the profit or the deficit, one must look into the discrepancy between the current values of the currency being sold to the purchase amount. The main incentive of this method of trading is to lessen the burden of maintaining a position during the night.

Normally, the open price may have considerably altered from the earlier days final currency value. Hence, forex trading that involves traders who are dependent on the currencys performance during the day is known as forex day trading.

In essence, forex day trading is not as dangerous as the other types of forex trading activities. But then again, the usual employment of margin purchases such as utilizing funds on loan increases the deficits and profits. So to speak, the potential shortfall and returns may happen in very little time.

For this reason, experts say that it is normal to expect that nearly 90% of forex day traders will lose profit. Hence, it would be more enjoyable on the part of forex day traders to gamble their money that is not important to them.

The main point here is that even if forex day trading aims to provide you with the right amount of money that you need to gain, it should still be separated from the psychosomatic point of examination and trading activities.

To know more about forex day trading, here are some tips that you need to know, or you can read about forex futures trading.

1. You should know that forex day trading is course oriented

This means that forex day trading is focused more on the development. Forex day traders are expected to identify what comprises the winning trade. By the time you have already identified the outline, you will have more confidence in taking the trade.

This means that you will easily make good decisions without feeling regretful. In addition, at the end of each transaction, you will be able to feel good about your decision.

2. You are bound to lose before you can gain something

Forex experts say that every successful forex traders has definitely lost some hefty amount of money before they were able to achieve something. In fact, they say that this is the primary factor needed in order to gain success in forex day trading.

However, it does not necessarily mean that because you are bound to lose money at one point or another, you should expect loses all throughout. It is still important to remember that as a forex day trader, you must do everything just to win the game.

This can be done by speculating positively at all cost, taking risks without uncertainties. Of course, losing is part of the game. But remember that losing is not a major issue in ones success.

Fail if you must; that is, if you will think that losing is inevitable. Yet, one should also keep in mind that these loses are relatively small and will only take few minutes of your time to make those errors.

And lastly, it is important that you know what you are doing. Do your homework and find out more about forex day trading. In this way, you will learn the basic safety measures of forex day trading. You will also learn the important steps you have to make if ever the unforeseen circumstances take place.

So the next time you want to start a career in forex day trading, it is important that you start on the insides first. Know what the client wants. From there you can already make a fresh start in trading.

For more information and tips about forex trading. Visit us at