Monday, January 25, 2010

Here are a few old facts.

[The following factoids are derived from the archives of the AxSA Factoids of the Week.]

2 November 2008
Can you name America's #1 export? Was it agriculture? Maybe knowledge services? No, it was our debt. Believe it or not, since the start of this century, our country's leading export has been its bundles of securitized consumer loans and home mortgages. To put this into perspective, these debt securities sold to foreign governments and financiers, totaling an approximate $27 TRILLION from 2001, dwarf all of last year's GDP at $13 trillion.

6 December 2008
According to the Economic Intelligence Index, of nearly 420 Western executives surveyed, 55% contended that the performance of their businesses would suffer in the near future due to a serious lack of leadership talent. Though the majority called talent management a priority, only 27% believed that their businesses are doing a good job of cultivating, managing and keep talented people.

4 January 2009
According to figure from LED, 2008 was a record-breaking year in Louisiana's efforts to lure media productions. Thanks in large part to the tax incentives of Hollywood South, over 80 major motion pictures and television projects, totaling some $800 million in collective production budgets, spent an estimated $500 million throughout the state.

7 February 2009
Governments use municipal bond issuances to finance public services and large projects, as well as to fill in budgetary shortfalls and service older debts. Investors tend to like these instruments for their tax-exempt status, but the illiquidity and risk associated with muni-bonds cannot be ignored. Therefore, in gauging the creditworthiness of governmental bodies, do you know which two states receive the lowest ratings from Moody's Investors Services, Fitch Ratings, and Standard & Poor's? If your guess was California and Louisiana--you're right. Both states are tied as the most probable, of all fifty states, to default on their obligations to debtholders.

14 February 2009
From globetrotting, corporate denizens to struggling day laborers, there are over 200 million migrants working around the world. In 2007, these expatriates remitted an estimated $350 billion back to their home countries, and from the U.S., alone, remittance payments to developing countries reached $265 billion that same year.

21 February 2009
In the 1990's, Asia's tigers were on fire--and chief among the nations experiencing rapid development was South Korea. That all changed in 1998, when a financial crisis spread from Bangkok to Seoul. Suddenly, the young democracy found itself in the midst of uncertainty; thirteen percent of all loans become nonperforming, and its banking system and credit markets simply shut down. As a result, its leaders moved quickly to implement a far-reaching strategy: the government pulled bad loans from banks' books and recapitalized their balance sheets to restart lending. What's more, they allowed truly distressed, nonfinancial chaebols to fail, rather than bail them out, and they also assisted in the restructuring of other, more viable companies. Though their plans initially met the ire of the global community, fast action from South Korea's leaders produced over 9% growth in 1999, up from less just 7% at the start of the regional crisis.

16 March 2009
As a technology of convenience, mobile payments allows consumers to make the purchase of goods and services by using their mobile phones or other wireless devices as methods of payments similar to, and as ubiquitously as, credit cards. The U.S. currently lags behind nations like Japan in the proliferation of this technology--but not for long. According to Juniper Networks, by 2013, mobile in-store payments and mobile banking will grow to $375 billion per year from $57 billion last year.

3 May 2009
Which matters more--"Made in the USA" or "Made by Detroit"? To date, according to CSM Worldwide, the output from Big Three automakers is little more that 50% of the cars assembled in North America.

9 May 2009
In 2003, credit and debit cards surpassed cash and checks as the preferred methods of payment by Americans. The shift helped to fuel growth in the country's penchant for debt. However, in the final quarter of 2008, debit-card use by American consumers displaced the usage of credit cards, attesting to a new general willingness by consumers to save more money during this recession.

1 June 2009
According to the NOAA, from 1851 to 2007, there have been a total of 1,372 recorded tropical storms and hurricanes. The largest number of these storms occurred in the months of August (347), September (466), and October (281).

12 July 2009
Though many in the business community are reluctant to openly talk about it, depression is a common affliction, impacting the lives of one out of four women and one in every eight men. The symptoms of depression can include the following: an inability to concentrate or make decisions; erratic sleeping patterns; excessive weight loss and weight gain; anxiety and fatigue, as well as irritability and physical pain; and thoughts of death or suicide. For more information on depression, visit www.familyaware.org.

22 July 2009
Over the past 40 years, national debt levels in the United States have held at roughly 36% of GDP, but with the onset of the current recession and subsequent, robust government spending, in 2009, the amount of this debt will rise to 57% of GDP. That is to say it plainly, for every dollar in goods and services produced in the U.S., our leaders in Washington, D.C., have borrowed and doled out fifty-seven cents. Such a high level of debt is not unique; we had similar percentage levels during times of war. However, what makes this circumstance really different is that, if the spending of the Obama 2010 budget is allowed to commence, particularly without a corresponding tax hike to defray most costs, the national debt will easily balloon to 82% of GDP. At that point, interest payments alone will become the largest pay-outs from our future federal budgets.

10 September 2009
According to the UN, street gangs like MS-13 are gaining cross-border prowess across the western hemisphere. In Central America, for example, Honduras leads the trend with 36,000 gang members--more than the total number from El Salvador and Guatemala, combined. Meanwhile, in the United States, the super-predators of MS-13 have spread to immigrant hubs in 42 states.

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