US Economic Job Creation

America’s job creation count has been in flux for a while now, probably in connection to the pandemic. In August the hoped-for and economic policymaker predicted job gain was 720,000.  But this figure fell substantially short at 250,000. September was equally (if not more) disappointing with a mere 194,000 jobs added to available options for the unemployed.  These numbers did not fare well for predictions of a strong economic bounce back.

But October is looking brighter.  According to a recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been a drop in unemployment from 5.2 to 4.8 percent.  The expectation was 5.1 percent so this should have been seen as good news. But not everyone felt that way.  Economic Research Director at Indeed, Nick Bunker said that

“This is quite a deflating report. The hope was that August was an anomaly but the fact is, the delta variant was still with us in September. One optimistic interpretation is that Covid-19 case counts are receding, so future months should be stronger. But the reality is that we are still in a pandemic.”

Another CNBC report explained that the 4.8 percent unemployment rate is actually the lowest that it has been since February 2020.  

Mozes Victor Konig on Diamond Evaluation

When it comes to diamond evaluation, there is a lot of advice and tips both on and offline.  Books such as The Diamond Handbook by Renee Newman and Gems: Their Sources, Description and Identification by Michael O’Donoghue are definitely recommended.  But to really understand and analyze a diamond, gem expert Mozes Victor Konig believes more is needed.

“The way I initially got into it,” reports Mozes Victor Konig, “was actually by some YouTube videos on the subject I stumbled upon.  Much as books are great guides, to really get to the crux of the matter and see hands on how something is done, videos really help.”

Also, Konig believes, having a “feel” for the precious stone is important.  “You can read all the books in the world on diamonds and watch a ton of tutorials, but if you’re not somehow in tune with diamonds and have a love for them, it’ll be much harder to get an accurate evaluation,” he explained.

Some people are so in tune with diamonds that even the most subtle difference in color strikes them and that can make a huge difference in value.  While you can have two diamonds with almost identical clarity and weight, a slight distinction in color can really affect value. But that takes time to figure out as well as the right lighting. That is probably the main reason that fluorescence can only be identified in approximately  35 percent of gem diamonds. 

Overall though it just takes practice and love as Konig and others have found.  Just keep looking, keep being aware of unique attributes and keep falling in love with diamonds.  After all, they are a girl’s best friend!

America’s Economy: Fighting Back

Wedding, Couple, Marriage, Ceremony, Bride, Husband

There have been some great numbers showing that the US economy could well be on its way back from the coronavirus pandemic that caused substantial financial loss in many industries.  Thanks to the fact that 300m vaccination shots have been given nationwide (a number that is continuing to increase), a true sense of “back to business” is being felt.

Take a look at the fashion industry for example. For so long people were in Zoom or other online meetings so were not so interested in purchasing new clothing. Marshalls and TJ Maxx encountered a 12 percent increase in sales this quarter and Rent the Runway has reported a demand for crop tops four times what it was in 2019.

WFH is being slowly morphed back into return to the workplace. Large corporations like Bank of America and Morgan Stanley are bringing their workers back, with some even offering return-to-work programs.

Large entertainment events are returning as well as we see more weddings take place. With the ditching of masks and opening of restaurants and other leisure activities, there is a lot of hope for the economy showing signs of recovery.

Where to Invest Right Now

There are always so many seemingly conflicting opinions and suggestions as to where best to invest money. According to finance and tech investor Mozes Konig, “trends come and go very quickly on the stock market. This makes it more challenging to advise people on long-term investing as even the seemingly most stable companies’ stocks will drop at times.”

Mozes Konig has been involved in investments for a number of years.  Sometime ago he went through some issues with Interpol which he thankfully has now resolved.  Since then, he has been working with a variety of different companies – primarily but not exclusively in the tech sector – and advising clients on investment opportunities.

“I believe that while no company is 100% safe and guaranteed as a good investment, there are definitely some that are more viable than others,” Konig says. “Take Microsoft, Apple and Amazon for example; none of them are going down anytime soon,” he added.

For those looking for stability (perhaps even more important during these times, having lived through COVID) they would probably be best advised to invest money in the solid, long-standing companies like the ones mentioned above.

Lab Grown Diamonds

Diamonds are a classic staple as a desired jewel.  As Shirley Bassey said: “diamonds never leave you…men do.” Starting in the 20th century with the De Beers marketing campaign, the market has grown significantly for this type of investment. 

But what about lab grown diamonds? According to business investor Mozes Konig, this particular sector has changed a lot since De Beers started selling man-made diamonds since its U-turn policy change in 2018. Following that decision, more and more people were looking to purchase these diamonds for engagement rings. Now, De Beers is seeking to elucidate to its customers the distinction between natural gems and lab-grown diamonds as a way of highlighting the fascination with earth-uncovered diamonds so that there is still a huge desire for them.

There is a slight problem with this however.  By marketing lab-grown diamonds, De Beers runs the risk of undermine its natural diamonds. Having said that, the production costs for lab-made diamonds has significantly decreased within the last ten years which gives the jewelry firm and others like it the opportunity to further reduce their consumer prices.

“In conclusion” notes Konig “what we have seen is a huge growth in the market since 2018 as more retailers purchase these and customers learn about it through publicity and friends.”

Increased Industry Spending

At the beginning of this year, the US Congress  again received a request from industry trade associations for more spending.  This is not news in and of itself since most years it makes this request but this year the situation is even tougher. 

According to Tom Donahue, CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, there will be more than just the stimulus endeavors Joe Biden is offering.  He pointed out that:

 “We can also stimulate the economy in a major way if we finally do the long overdue and broadly supported work of rebuilding our infrastructure. It’s the number one way to raise productivity, create jobs, and drive up incomes in a hurry. Our lawmakers should enact a fiscally and environmentally responsible infrastructure package that focuses on urgent needs like roads and bridges, modernizes our critical networks, and upgrades and expands technology like broadband. Even in a 50-50 Senate and a House divided by five votes, this can be done—and it might build some goodwill for bipartisan progress on other priorities. We’ve been working on this for more than 20 years. Let’s find a way to pay for it, and let’s get moving. This year, there can be no excuses for failure.”

In addition, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released a series of Failure to Act reports as a prelude to the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure version.  This was an investigation into the metal and concrete-intensive construction, surface transportation, electricity, waterway systems, airports and more.  The summary found:

 “The total documented cumulative investment gap between projected needs and likely investment in these critical major infrastructure systems is more than $2.6 trillion by 2029, and more than $5.6 trillion by 2039”

Mozes Konig: Cyber Security Investments 101

Cybersecurity investments have grown substantially in the last decade. In the last few years, Mozes Konig of MVKonig Ltd. has been investing in this industry.  Konig – who a while back went through some issues with Interpol which he thereafter solved – has been following the updates on the increasing relevance of cybersecurity today and for the future.

It has been estimated that cybercrime costs the world economy more than $400bn each year.  While in 2013 approximately 3,000 US firms were estimated to have been the victim of cybercrime, according to the 2019 Official Annual Cybersecurity Jobs Report  for those looking for work, cybersecurity is a great place to start. Experts have anticipated that from 2013 to 2021, there will be a 350% growth in job vacancies in this industry.

“It’s a fascinating industry,” explained Mozes Konig.  “Every year you find IT firms responding to developments in the tech sector. With that comes new opportunities for cyber criminals to do their work.  Hence more cyber security is always needed.”

All of this can negatively impact a business’s growth if the necessary measures are not put in place. 

“In addition,” continued Konig, “given that people are using their devices more and more, there is naturally going to be a far greater exposure to cyber criminal invasion.  In fact, while it may seem that investing in cyber security is expensive, we have only experienced that not making the investment comes at a greater price.”

Business safety is crucial in every aspect but as society continues to become increasingly device-oriented, investing in cybersecurity is no longer a luxury but a necessity.

COVID-19: How the Big Firms Weather the Storm

COVID-19 is affecting everyone: personally, as a family, a community, a business and globally.  In this article we take a brief look at how some firms are faring better than others.

In this kind of crisis climate, the bigger corporations with more resources seem to be managing better, in particular, the tech giants. For example: Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.

Shares of Amazon hiked up almost 30 percent this year from massive increases in online deliveries.  Given the increasing need for cloud services, Microsoft also benefited enjoying a 9 percent increase.  Apple is an interesting case as its product is not necessarily an essential product and right now demand is higher for those offering essential services.  However, once Apple 5G is launched it is anticipated profits will soar.

Overall, as most are realizing, the process of re-opening the economy will take much longer and be much tougher than shutting it down.  Even if some states re-open they will not necessarily be able to function at normal levels since they often depend on other states (that have not yet opened) for their products/services.  Today, companies are often terribly reliant on firms and individuals nationwide – and even worldwide – for completion of product.

COVID-19: New Type of Purchasing?

Markets are moving in new directions.  The demand for digitalization is growing at an extraordinary pace in the age of social distancing.

BlueJeans – one of the world’s largest videoconferencing, screen sharing and video calling companies with around 15,000 customers – is being bought out by Verizon for approximately $400 million. According to Business CEO of Verizon Tami Erwin:

 “As the way we work continues to change, it is absolutely critical for businesses and public sector customers to have access to a comprehensive suite of offerings that are enterprise ready, secure, frictionless and that integrate with existing tools.”

BlueJeans will be built into Verizon’s 5G offering.  Since companies such as Zoom have faced hacking issues and the New York City Department of Education told workers not to use it, other rival companies are now seeking to profit from the new business opportunity.

Staying connected while working from home

Munear Ashton Kouzbari Offers Bosses Direction on Managing a Team Working from Home

Most of us spend a substantial portion of our waking hours at our workplace. Or at least we did before the corona pandemic upended our lives and forced us to spend all our time at home. Managers and employees, CEOs and support staff, are all navigating this new reality. Munear Ashton Kouzbari offers insight for bosses and administrators looking to weather the transition to remote employment successfully.

Have your Resources Ready

The 21st century is ready for working from home. There are so many free or low-cost options to establish and maintain a virtual office team.  Sit down with your tech crew and review your specific needs. Then you can select the set-up that is most suitable for you and your employees. Some managers mistakenly believe that they can rely exclusively on email to communicate with workers. You’ll want to use some kind of chat platform for regular check-ins and maintain an “administrator only” channel for updates.  Make sure that all the internal platforms and files that employees need to do their jobs are available outside of your office network.

Munear Ashton Kouzbari recommends the best tools for your business

This whole work-from-home thing happened very quickly. Few employers had time to properly train staff on using all the remote tools. Tech support will likely need to do some online training sessions, or even one-on-one calls, to guide people through the new processes. It will take time, but it is worth the investment.

Also, if practical, let employees take office equipment home. Laptop computers might be obvious, but office chairs, screens, keyboards, and even desk lamps can greatly enhance the home office experience.

Be Clear and Reasonable

Just because your team is now scattered, it doesn’t mean you should not be clear about what is expected of them. Set well-defined parameters of acceptable behavior and gently remind everyone that working from home is not a pseudo vacation. If you had weekly meetings in the office, maintain that schedule in a virtual forum (zoom, workspace, etc.). Attendance, and reasonable attire, should be mandatory.

BUT, keep in mind that many of your workers will also be juggling childcare during the pandemic. While most workers can stay task-focused while in the office, school and daycare closures have most parents struggling to find a work-life balance. When scheduling online meetings and calls, give plenty of advanced notice and ask for optimal times. Give as much leeway as possible on deadlines and understand that most parents will be putting in a lot of late-night hours once the kids are asleep.  

Maintain the Positive Office Environment

One of the reasons social distancing is such a struggle for most of us, is because we are social beings. As bosses, it is important to maintain a friendly and positive office culture so that employees enjoy coming to work and spending time with their colleagues. Now that working from home is the reality, your teams are probably missing each other, which can have a tangible impact on output. Use the tools mentioned above not only for work-related meetings but also to simulate kitchenette camaraderie.  Encourage colleagues to connect and consult with one another.

Encourage everyone to work together, even when they are apart

Communicate Regularly

When you and your staff are working remotely, keep the lines of communication open. Now that they can’t just pop their head into your office, make sure they know how to find you—and that you want to be found. Touch base with each member of your team on a regular basis. Whether you call by phone, ping them on a workplace platform, or initiate a video chat, take the time to genuinely express interest in how they are doing. This reality isn’t easy for anyone. Show them that you care about more than just the bottom line.  Your workers are likely to surprise you with their resilience and motivation to do well in this less-than-optimal situation. Use this time to uncover hidden talents or interests in your employees that didn’t necessarily come across in the regular work environment.

As we all figure out how to work through the current corona crisis, it is worth viewing this period of working from home as an opportunity rather than a challenge. Digital teams and communities are effective. Productivity, engagement, and even business growth can be obtained, even remotely, when managed correctly.