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How you can pay less tax while making the world a better place

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While altruism is the primary quality that motivates people to donate and help those in need, did you know that the simple gesture of writing checks to your favorite charitable institutions can help in reducing your taxes?

Generosity indeed goes a long way, and the benefit of paying lower taxes is one of its most practical advantages that are surprisingly less known to most people. Fortunately, there are financial institutions, such as LOM Financial, that help clients identify such opportunities and execute tax management plans in the most strategic and beneficial ways possible.

Donating to charity through the organizations recognized by the Internal Review Services (IRS) can make you eligible for a reduced tax. In order to check if your chosen organization is included in IRS’ list, you may request their IRS determination letter or call the government agency’s hotline.

However, you have to take note of the following:

  • Tax deductions are not honored if donations are given to individuals. These forms of donating include handouts to the homeless, pooled funds or collections to financially support a neighbor or coworker in need, or other victims of tragedies.
  • Claiming a charitable deduction is only possible if you itemize these deductions on your tax return. You can do this by itemizing them on Schedule A found on your federal form 1040 (lines 16-19).
  • Your donations will only be valid for tax deductions if it is substantiated by a receipt or a bank record where the name of the charity is clearly annotated.
  • While volunteering services won’t give you the advantage of reduced taxes, the expenses acquired while performing your charity work will – unless they are personal in nature or reimbursable.

Most importantly, you have to remember that only charitable donations made in the same year are entitled to tax deductions.

Major bonds that dominate the Debt Market

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Also known as the debt market, the Bond Market is a dynamic financial market that allows participants to issue and trade debt securities. These exchanges play an important role in the economy especially since the primary objective of the bond market is to give access to long-term funding for both public and private expenditures. Financial services companies, including offshore investment firms like LOM Financial, look at the debt market as a major investment vehicle. Here are some of the most common types of bonds issued and traded in the credit markets.

Government Bonds

Government bonds are issued by national governments but it can also be issued by lower levels of governments such as local and municipal entities. Basically, it offers bonds with periodic interest payments, initially attracting buyers, especially conservative investors, by presenting a face value on their agreed maturity dates. Municipal bonds, on the other hand, are issued by lower levels of government such as a state or a local government entity.

Corporate Bonds

Corporate bonds cover a huge percentage of the entire bond market primarily because of the issuing capacities of large corporations – the bond’s main issuers. The debt securities, unlike the bonds issued by government entities, can carry a higher credit threshold and boasts the possibility to return higher yields – of course, with an equivalently higher risk.

Other types of bonds

There are other types of bonds that fall under the category, asset-backed securities. These are the kinds of bonds that are primarily issued by financial sector participants and banking institutions. An example of this type of debt security is mortgage bonds that rely on pooled mortgages from real estate properties.  However, these bonds are usually reserved for institutional investors and not accessible to individual investors.

Industries that scored the largest revenues in 2017

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The largest industries in the world today have a huge influence in the global economy. Aside from generating massive revenues of over $27 trillion, these industries have also raked in a total of $1.5 trillion in profits (based on 2016 data) – and their successes don’t end here. Inevitably, they have become important components in many investment portfolios, including discretionary accounts from offshore investment firms such as LOM Financial.

Based on Fortune 500’s ranking which was released after the end of the different sector’s respective fiscal years, these are the top industries with the highest revenues in 2017.

Banking and Finance Industry

The global banking and financial services sectors represent one of the world’s largest grossing industries.  According to the said ranking, there are 55 companies whose performances from the previous year earned their spots in Fortune’s top 500 money-makers. Included in the top ten is America’s Berkshire Hathaway with a revenue of $223.8 billion.

Automobile Industry

Another industry that’s in the ranks of the biggest industries in terms of revenue is the Automobile Industry, with 34 companies making it to the list. Examples are Japan’s Toyota Motors (with over $254.7 billion in revenue) and Germany’s Volkswagen with a revenue total of $240.2 billion.

Petroleum Industry

Not surprisingly, the petroleum industry is home to the top companies in 2017 based on their revenues. In this particular industry, 28 companies were recognized by Fortune 500. Ranked fourth is China’s Sinopec, with a revenue of $267.5 billion, and Netherland’s Royal Dutch Shell with a $240 billion on the seventh place.

While the retail industry did not make it to the top three highest grossing industries, WalMart Stores actually bagged the top rank as the leading company with the largest revenue in 2017.

What’s inside the most profitable investment portfolios today?

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Portfolio diversification is one of the most effective investment strategies that you should turn to especially if you’re new at investing. However, diversification does not only mean putting different entries into your folder but it also involves carefully balancing and choosing which sectors and specific industries can help you reach long-term financial goals.

Here are the top industries that constitute the most profitable investment portfolios:

Industries under the Technology Sector

Technology companies constitute the most popular sector to invest in, especially with the rise of several new industries that are transforming how people work and live – especially in this booming information age.  Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and even Autonomous Vehicles are part of the new wave of innovative industries that investors should consider for a balanced portfolio. Whether it’s investing in shares of this growing sector such as startups or opting for already established companies, you’ll be on the right track.

Industries under the Health Care Sector

This particular sector plays a vital role in responding to the demands of an aging population through leading innovations and life-saving products and services offered by the different health care industries. From biotechnology, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, hospital conglomerates, and other healthcare companies, including these investment options in your portfolio is a wise move.

Industries under the Financial Sector

The financial services sector covers a long list of industries that include financial organizations, banks, insurance companies, brokerage firms, credit card companies, and even offshore portfolio management firms like LOM Financial. The financial sector is your best bet if you’re looking at the benefits of long-term investments, especially in the U.S. as the government rolls over regulations that will effectively put financials on top of the best industries to invest in for 2018 and beyond.

The promise of a billion-dollar market in the luxury tourism industry

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Luxury travel is no longer just about expensive destinations and staying at the most luxurious hotels in the world. In fact, the recent trends that currently dominate the entire industry make it more diverse than how it was conventionally perceived.

According to statistics, the new face of the global luxury tourism industry shows an increased interest in destinations that offer unique, exclusive, and exotic holiday experiences for travelers. More interestingly, luxury travels are no longer limited to a particular affluent social group. This is because, the popularity of the luxury travel experiences in the social media coupled with the increased spending of the middle as well as an upper middle class have shaped and redefined the whole luxury travel market, fueling market growth that is expected to reach over $1.1 billion by 2022, according to the Allied Market Research report.

What drives the demand for luxury travel? According to the same report, the rising growth of the industry can be attributed to luxury travelers’ high spending power as well as their need for exclusivity. Similar studies and statistics that examined the opportunities and forecast for the luxury tourism industry showed that North American and European travelers contributed 66 percent of the industry’s total revenue. In addition, recent data revealed that the global destinations that topped the most-sought-after luxury travel experience are in Kenya.

Safari adventures, for instance, accounted for an approximately 44 percent of revenue not just in the U.S. but of the overall luxury travel market globally. In fact, this segment is still the most popular among young and middle age vacationers. On the other hand, about 70 percent of millennial travelers prefer culinary-focused travel experience as a top motivation in taking their own luxury trips.

Nevertheless, the likes of Santorini, the Cayman Islands, Maldives, and other “expensive” islands remain to be the top choices amongst affluent travelers, given their reputation and the superiority of hospitality services. Just last year, popular offshore investments center and luxury destination Bermuda has hosted the America’s Cup, a racing competition for sailing yachts that attracts not only the world’s top sailors and yacht designers but also wealthy entrepreneurs and sponsors.

Private equity: A brief history of the trillion-dollar global industry

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The beginnings of private equity industry can be traced back the post-World War II era as a response to the economic gloom caused by the war’s aftermath. The late 1940s, in contrast to the state of the finance industry during those times, was the golden age of the formation of the world’s very first venture capital firms: the American Research and Development Corporation (ARDC) and the J.H. Whitney & Company.

In the 1980s, private equity investors in the U.S. recorded a boom in large buyouts on Wall Street, participated by two famous PE investors: Henry Kravis and Jerome Kohlberg, Jr. of the Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), a modern global investment firm.

Over just a period of ten years (from the end of the 1970s through 1990s), records show thousands of leveraged buyouts, amounting to an overall transaction value of $250 billion.  The same decade also produced major private equity firms like Hellman & Friedman, The Carlyle Group, Bain Capital, and the Blackstone Group.

The deterioration in economic and financial performance in the U.S., for instance, totally changed the recent history of the private equity industry and the investment industry as a whole. Before 2008, private equity firms used to have the freedom and capacity to complete huge buyouts, thanks to low-interest rates, laid-back lending procedures, and even easy access to debt-financing.

Come 2008, fewer buyouts were observed, recording only small volumes of completed deals. The figures drastically dropped, from the early years of the 21st-century value of trillions to just over $400 billion from 2008-2010. However, as soon as the economy recovered from this recession, private equity buyouts slowly found its way back to the limelight, closing billion-dollar buyout deals once again.

Today, the global private equity industry holds over $2 trillion in assets and a committed capital value of $1 trillion.

Economics of Christmas: How much money is made and spent during the holidays?

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The Christmas season is perhaps one of the most celebrated holidays in the world and while many countries consider it as a religious festivity, other nations have created their own definition of this joyful event.

From sharing meals among one’s family and friends, exchanging gifts, to selfless giving to the less fortunate, these are just some of the ways to celebrate the essence of the holidays—and all of these typically come from careful budgeting and stretching one’s finances.

If you scratch the surface and look at it from an economic perspective, how expensive really is Christmas and how much money is made during the most wonderful time of the year?

According to several statistics, Christmas is one of the strongest economic drivers among many nations globally, reporting rapid and dramatic sales increases in almost every retail store worldwide. In the United States, for instance, the retail industry recorded a staggering three-trillion dollars in the 2013 holiday shopping season.

 

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A recent study by the National Retail Federation further revealed that in 2016, an average American spent over $900 for their holiday gift list – and researchers are expecting that this year, it will go up and reach almost a thousand dollar per person.

On a comparative perspective, the spending habits of Australians—for example—are not far from that of the Americans. In fact, they’re one of the most generous in the world when it comes to gift-giving, spending over $11 billion during the holiday season. It is estimated that this year, the average Australian will spend almost $600 for gifts alone. In the developing world, however, spending can be understandably lower but also growing over time.

The commercialization of Christmas season started a long time ago and its influence as strong economic stimuli is expected to grow in the future. People are expected to spend thousands of dollars on gifts, decorations, holiday parties and more. In fact, Christmases around the world, especially in the West, are anticipated to be increasingly extravagant every year.

Wealthiest teenage celebrities in the world

Is there a perfect formula to become a millionaire at a young age? While some of the richest people in the world managed to be on top of the list because of their family’s influence and wealth, others succeeded through hard work and raw talent.

Let’s take a look at the young people who dominate the list of the wealthiest teenage celebrities today:

 

  1. Elle Fanning (estimated net worth: $5 Million)

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Age: 19 years old

Born on April 9, 1998, the younger sister of the iconic Dakota Fanning is making her own name in the industry. In 2005, Elle was a main part of the Studio Ghibli animated film, My Neighbor Totoro for her role as the English voice for Mei Kusakabe. The following year was the period that catapulted her to success, accepting major leading roles. It is estimated that the sisters have a combined net worth of over $21 million.

 

  1. Cameron Boyce (estimated net worth: $5 million)

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Age: 18 years old

Cameron Boyce was born on 28 May 1999 in Los Angeles and is one of today’s highly recognized celebrities. Most of his projects involve film and television series, and even at a young age he was known for his talent in his craft. Included in his acting portfolio are nine TV performances, product ads, five major film roles and one Young Artist award in 2012, and lastly, an Apple Design Award in 2014.  The success of his projects earned him an amazing net worth of $5 million.

 

  1. Jaden Smith (estimated net worth: $8 Million)

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Age: 19 years old

Jaden Smith is an American rapper, singer, songwriter and actor and is the son of one of the most successful actors in the world, Will Smith. The young Smith has been following his father’s footsteps and it started when he landed his first acting role in the film, The Pursuit of Happyness—and many other movie projects followed. Jaden Smith was born on July 8, 1998. In his younger and early teenage years, his character was considered eccentric and one-of-a-kind.

 

Sleeper hits: Low-budget films that broke box office records

What really defines a good movie? Is it the complexity of the plot? Is it the amount of technical effort put into each frame? While everyone has different answers to these questions, many can agree that great filmmaking does not only require a generous amount of financial capital. While having enough funding is important, many have proven that small-budget films can also win the crowd and bring home massive ticket sales. Let’s take a look at some of the best low-budget films that broke the budget norm and won back an enormous return on investment (ROI):

Paranormal Activity (Budget: $15K Box Office: $193M)

This low-budget suspense thriller directed by Oren Peli was actually shot at his own house for just seven filming days, working under a $15K fund.
The creators of Paranormal Activity won the box office without spending a single penny on advertisements and promotions. Instead, the disturbing handheld camera horror movie gathered a following via word of mouth.
The success of the first movie fueled the production of four more sequels, taking home a combined gross income of $805 million as of 2014.

The Blair Witch Project (Budget: $60K Box Office: $248M)

Another spooky handheld camera film captured the attention of scary movie fans and curious viewers around the world. With a $60K budget (reports estimate less), it became a worldwide blockbuster hit and was able to pull in $248M.
The film seemed very realistic and it was able to convince many viewers that the footage was actually real until creators and actors revealed themselves to the public after its huge success.

Friday the 13th (Budget: $500k Box Office: $59M)

The reputation of this movie has gained it an international following and its fandom endures even after years since it was first released in the 80s. However, not everyone knows that the production cost of Friday the 13th was only $500k.
The story revolves around a group of camp counselors who attempted to open an old summer camp that was once the site of drowning accident. The horror started when an unknown attacker began stalking and murdering them one by one.

REPOST: This new virtual reality tool could transform how we design cars

The car manufacturing industry is undergoing a major overhaul. With evolving market demands and the advent of new design technologies, carmakers are now capable of creating unique concept vehicles quite more easily. Symourpowell has developed an amazing software wherein people can freely conceptualize their designs within a short amount of time. Here’s an article from CNN to know more about this groundbreaking technology:

Google opened a new world of VR possibilities when it introduced the 3D painting app Tilt Brush in 2016. Targeting the worlds of art and design (Google recently launched its own artist in residence program), the software has shown what can happen when creativity is let loose in a virtual environment.

Now, London-based design studio Seymourpowell is hoping to do the same in the automobile sector with a new 3D sketching tool. Wearing an HTC Vive headset, users are able to draw, manipulate and augment car models in virtual reality.

The software is designed to speed up the design process, with adjustments quicker to make than if modeled in Photoshop or in traditional 3D-imaging programs.

Streamlining the process

Seymourpowell’s lead automotive designer, Richard Seale, hopes the tool will bridge the longstanding divide between designers (who are paid to shoot for the stars) and engineers (who are meant to keep them grounded).

“As an engineer, it’s very frustrating to (produce) cars with designers, because designers and engineers are typically at loggerheads,” he said at the firm’s south London studio. “It’s the same for designers, (who say) ‘I want to do this — why can’t I?'”

The typical design process begins with a meeting — or three — followed by concept sketches. Once a design is approved, a clay model is created. After that, a costlier model is used to further refine the design.

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