January 22, 2014 - With the calendar turned to a new year, we eagerly gaze to the opportunities of 2014 and what lies ahead for the fixed income markets. On the whole, there is consensus that this new year will see higher interest rates across the spectrum as the US economy expands more rapidly, the Federal Reserve tapers its asset purchase program and investors seek higher returns in other asset classes. However, exactly how much higher interest rates will be at year end is quite uncertain; below we share our thoughts on why the US economy will continue to perform well and how the Fed will handle raising the Federal Funds rate.
December 18, 2013 - On the short list of items one must put together when pitching a startup is the financial model - the Excel workbook which contains formulas and variables predicting revenues and expenses and, ostensibly, a business model that could produce a big exit for the founders/shareholders.
December 4, 2013 - Environmental economists have a useful framework to analyze limited, but renewable, resources. It is called maximum sustainable yield. For a fishery, maximum sustainable yield measures the number of fish that can be harvested each year without impairing the future viability of the fishery. Violate this level long enough and you have the case of the Grand Banks cod population that was overfished for decades until it completely collapsed in 1992. Usefully, these economists also bring a long-term perspective (a VERY long-term perspective), which is critical to understand systemic problems that compound over generations.
December 4, 2013 - 57 projects – all in flight at once. 3 people working on them. Same meetings happening over and over again. Stakeholders in revolt. A team demoralized and struggling to serve. Confusion. Frustration. Demotivation. That’s where we found ourselves 12 months ago at Square 1 Bank. The current process for evaluating, prioritizing, and completing technology work was not working.
December 4, 2013 - Ahhhh, behold the holidays. A time of hustle and bustle, feasting and imbibing, and friends and family (sometimes in that order!). It is quite likely that no other 8-week period throughout the year consumes as much energy, emotion and money as the time from Halloween through New Year’s. And we lament how quickly the time goes, as if we inadvertently stepped into Mr. Peabody’s WABAC time machine and somehow missed days, if not weeks. On this occasion, perhaps such a trip would be of use to review the fixed income markets in 2013 to set the stage for the year ahead. Alas, it will be 2015 before long…
November 14, 2013 - While it may be a surprise to some in the startup community, the last few years have seen record high profit margins for the largest U.S. corporations. In fact, over the last few years, corporate after tax profits accounted for the largest ever share of gross domestic product (GDP). As encouraging as this may seem, a major reason for this stems from the low wages that employees are now earning. In fact, as of 4Q 2012, total wages fell to a record low of 43.5% of GDP. Historically, wages typically account for roughly 50% of GDP. So, in short, corporations have never been more profitable and employees are getting an increasingly smaller share of the pie.