Monthly Archives: August 2014

NABE Survey Feels Good About Economy

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Business Economists, most economists believe that the Federal Reserve is “on the right track” with its programs to repair the US economy.

The NABE survey, which was released on Monday, also showed that a majority of economists believe that there is only a small risk of inflation in the near future.

The semiannual questionnaire polled 257 economists from July 22 to August 4 and found that 53 percent of them say that the Fed’s stimulus programs are on target, while 39 percent thought the Fed was interfering too much with the economy.

The Federal Reserve has been slowing down on its bond-buying economic stimulus program since the end of last year. Also on the horizon, according to economists, is the increase of interest rates in the coming year. Interest rates have not gone up since the economic crisis of 2008. The survey showed that about 75 percent of those asked expect that the Fed’s first interest rate increase will come in 2015.

The survey also showed that 42 percent of the NABE economists agree with US fiscal policy, saying it is “about right.” Others, about 34 percent, believe the policy is “too restrictive.” One year ago the survey showed that only 31 percent thought the US fiscal policy was “about right.”





Lev Leviev Releases BitCoin Dashboard Visualizer

Lev Leviev

Lev Leviev Venturing Into the World of BitCoin

Lev Leviev co-founder of VKontakte, Russia’s biggest social networking platform, recently launched a “dashboard” for bitcoin users called BlockTrail. The platform allows users to visualize more easily bitcoin blockchains.

With his profits from last year’s sale of VKontakte, which was valued at over $1 billion, Lev Leviev was able to jump into a new technology with full thrusters turned on.

Leviev commented that:

“We both got started with bitcoin in 2013 and almost immediately were struck by the potential of this disruptive technology. It was clear that bitcoin needed better tools for its economy to flourish.”

Leviev created a “holding company” for his ventures in the world of bitcoins, called BlockCorp, with his partner Boaz Bechar. Bechar has been a friend of Leviev for many years. He is a technology entrepreneur based in Amsterdam, and also serves as BlockCorp’s CEO.

BlockTrail is the first undertaking for BlockCorp. The holding company has €500,000 in the tool, which is designed to keep track of bitcoin transactions visually for its users. Another project in development by BlockCorp is a mobile messaging application dependent on BitMessage, which is a decentralized, encrypted messaging protocol.

Survey Shows Businessmen Lax on On-line Security

Businessmen show lack of concern over on-line security

Businessmen show lack of concern over on-line security

According to a poll conducted by Swivel Secure, 74.2 percent of business owners either write down or otherwise record off-line their collection of passwords. That means that a vast majority of heads of companies have their passwords saved on post-it notes or Excel documents, perhaps not the best way to maintain security of websites.

The survey quizzed 2,500 Americans on their on-line habits, revealing that many business-owners are not doing enough to insure the security of their on-line workplace systems. This lack of professionalism when it comes to security also funnels down to the employees, further creating dangerous exposure of their company’s data.

The poll uncovered other aspects of on-line behaviors which can compromise the workplace, such as the habit of re-using the same passwords to log-in to different systems, found in 63 percent of those polled; and in 61 percent said they are “unconcerned” with the security of their corporate systems.

“Consider this: if passwords are reused across personal and corporate systems — which more than one in five U.S. employees openly admit to — it only takes one employee’s Twitter or Amazon password to be hacked for unauthorized network access to be gained, compromising the entire network and all of the sensitive information held within,” says Fraser Thomas, vice president international at Swivel Secure Inc.

Regulators Warn Consumers of Risks of Bitcoins

Be ware of Bitcoins

Beware of Bitcoins

Virtual currencies such as Bitcoin are coming under increased scrutiny by federal regulators as their popularity continues to advance, triggering a cautious reaction from officials.

The Consumer Financial Protection Agency announced that they will begin to take grievances by people who utilize currency-like products such as Bitcoin and internet exchanges where these forms of money are accepted.

Part of the warning issued included references to the facts that these online currencies are not backed by the US government, or any other government; their exchange rates can fluctuate drastically, and they can be the target of computer hackers and scammers. Bitcoin accounts also have the distinct disadvantage of not being insured by the government, as other accounts are.

“Consumers are stepping into the Wild West,” CFPB director Richard Cordray said.

Nevertheless there are several advantages to using Bitcoins, including the facilitation of online transactions due to the ease of processing payments.

The SEC is also warning against Bitcoins, arguing that investors should be sensitive to Ponzi schemes involving these virtual currencies.

The global policy counsel for the Bitcoin Foundation, Jim Harper, said that the warning from the CFPB is generally fair, and “pretty standard.” He added that it is “helpful to the extent that it informs consumers without scaring them.”

“There are consumer risks around new technologies, and even-keeled educational material from government agencies can help make consumers aware and savvy,” Harper said.

Ethiopian Business Leaders Visit Houston

Remains of Lucy the Hominid

Remains of Lucy the Hominid

In a friendly prelude to the upcoming US Africa Summit, the Fourth Ethiopian-US Business Form took place in the Texas city of Houston. Leading the delegation of Ethiopian businessmen was President Mulatu Teshome.

President Teshome stated that he believes an excellent business climate has been created not just for Americans, but for investors from other nations to invest in Ethiopia. He also mentioned the establishment of Industrial Zones in Ethiopia which makes it simpler for investors to launch businesses.

He also addressed the US announcement to open up a trade bureau in Ethiopia, which will be a great chance for the two countries to strengthen their business ties and interests.

Texas Senator Rodney Ellis said that export revenue has climbed from $39 million to $84 million in the years between 2005 and 2012. Ellis also thanked the government of Ethiopia for allowing their ancestor, Lucy, to visit Houston. (Lucy is a 3.2 million-year-old hominid fossil.)

A similar meeting is expected to also take place in Los Angeles, California.