Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why make a profit?


Many have criticized Amazon.com for being unprofitable since inception.

If you ask me, they're just being ultra-efficient.

Take a look at this chart:

Amazon's revenue has grown exponentially, but they've always kept their net profit/loss pretty close to zero.

You see, the taxation system in most countries is actually a bit paradoxical.

The purpose of a corporation (as defined by law) is to generate a profit, but that is also what is taxed. So if you make a profit, you lose a good chunk of it to taxes.

On the other hand, if you re-invest those would-be-profits back into your business for growth, you get to keep it all.

Meanwhile, massively profitable companies like Apple and Google end up engaging in complicated IP licensing schemes in tax havens to lower their taxes.

Of course, a flat tax could put an end to some of these complex games...

Monday, April 07, 2014

Losing weight is hard: Part 2

Here is the update to my post last month entitled "Losing weight is hard".

Through a program of restricted eating and intense exercise, I was able to lose most of my December "Christmas baking" weight:


I'm back down to around 160lbs and about 13.5% body fat.

Surprisingly, this is still on the high end of normal! Mid-range for my height should be about 155lbs and 12.5% body fat. That will be my goal after we return from the wedding.

Even 130lbs would still be in the "healthy" range. I can actually remember quite well when I was 130lbs. It would have been in high school, where admittedly, I was a bit of a beanpole :-)

Another interesting chart is my one-year plot (missing the period when the scale was being shipped):


When I look back and see how I was up over 170, that seems so high, but meanwhile it had become the "new normal."

It's important to keep things in perspective, and I've found that our Internet scale really helps with that.

Realistically, Melissa and I will probably gain some weight during 2 weeks of all-inclusive resort food, but at least we have a good baseline, and a working system for losing weight.

Finally, a few tips:

  1. It will take longer than you think, and it will be harder than you think, but stick to the plan!
  2. On a related note, make sure you have a plan. Write down exactly what you can and cannot eat. Carry a copy in your wallet if you have do (Melissa did).
  3. Sugar is evil when it comes to weight loss. In my personal experience, sugar intake is the single largest factor. Do everything you can to eliminate it from your diet.
  4. Keep to your routine! If you "fall off the wagon," get back on immediately. If you go back to bad eating/exercise habits for more than a day, it will be incredibly hard to correct.
  5. Always set a goal, and remember why you are losing the weight (health, quality of life, self esteem, special event, beach season, etc.)
  6. Discover new healthy treats to displace unhealthy ones, but make sure not to go overboard, and be sure that the treat is actually diet-friendly.
  7. And most importantly: Have a partner! When the going gets tough, you need someone to kick your butt. Mel and I both had to kick each others' a few times :)

Friday, April 04, 2014

A Formula for Success


A formula for success and happiness, in both business and life:

Keep your own expectations tempered, but always try to exceed the expectations of others.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

When will the next stock market crash happen?

Stocks have been on a major upswing for the past five years, but haven't gained quite as much as the big 1990's bull market:

But the big question on investors' minds is: When will the next crash happen?

This article about bull markets shows us how the current market compares historically.

We're at about the median time length, and not quite the median gains.

So although it's quite possible stocks will keep increasing for another year or two, it's unlikely to go much further than that.

Another unique factor with this market is that it is being infused with money by something called "quantitative easing", a large financial experiment with unknown side effects.

Meanwhile, corporate profits are doing very well, but earnings ratios are starting to get high.

And interest rates continue to stay extremely low.

It will be interesting to see what direction the stock market takes in 2014/2015.

More reading: