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December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘research’

What Happens To The Children?

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

The marriage is ending.

Let’s start with some facts. In the general population, 50 percent of marriages end in divorce within 10 years. Sixty percent of divorces occur among couples between the ages of 25-39. More than a million children are affected by divorce per year. Half of these children will grow up in families where the parents stay angry and resentful toward each other.

Unhappy parents have a hard time raising happy children. Children of divorce have higher rates of substance abuse, conduct disorders, depression, interpersonal issues and problems in school.

In the Orthodox world the figures aren’t quite that high – but they are accelerating rapidly. Years ago a couple got divorced for “extreme” reasons: domestic violence, child abuse, sexual abuse, infidelity, or untreatable mental illness. Now it’s those reasons and more. Couples get divorced because they are too impatient or intolerant or not emotionally connected enough to see crises through and learn the skills that can help them have a really good relationship and a really good marriage.

Landmark studies like the ones done by Judith Wallerstein and others indicate that years after a divorce both men and women are still quite angry with their former spouses. It is important to remember that anger often is the manifest, or outer, layer of emotion that is being used to cover up underlying feelings of sadness, pain, shame and despair.

This anger can be dealt with in many ways. Some turn their anger inward, causing depression. Many use their anger to bitterly malign the former spouse. Often the goal is to destroy any possible relationship the ex might have with the children, the rationale being that the ex-spouse is not worthy of a parent-child relationship.

Even in the best of circumstances – what we might call an “amicable” divorce –children will be affected in a highly emotional and significant way.

The goal of a “good” divorce is for parents to communicate effectively, without bitterness and rancor, and not let the children get caught in the middle. Their commitment to their children should fuel their energies and enable them to work together to help their children cope and adjust to the changes brought on by the divorce.

Unfortunately, more often than not we see maligning, accusations, spitefulness and deep anger. This creates an environment for the children that is fraught with instability, despair, confusion and frustration and that can only lead to feelings of low self-esteem and poor adjustment in all areas of living – psychologically, socially, academically and behaviorally.

In other words, the negative reactions and behaviors of the parents are what prevent the children from coping and adjusting properly, not the divorce itself.

This fundamental and crucial concept is difficult for parents to digest and internalize. Why? Because it requires them to own their feelings, to own their behaviors and to realize it is their behavior, not just the behavior of the other parent, that can be harmful to the child.

Helping Ourselves,
Helping Our Children

Several years ago I spoke to a group of parents concerning “doing it all and self-care.” Consider the following scenario: You are on a plane, awaiting takeoff. The flight attendant begins her (or his) safety and security announcements. At one point she notes the oxygen mask stored above and states that if oxygen is necessary, a mask will drop down. She describes how the mask must be placed properly over nose and mouth. And then she emphasizes that if you are traveling with a small child, put the mask on yourself first, before you place the mask on your child. Because you can’t care properly for your child if you haven’t properly cared for yourself.

Parents who are divorcing or divorced need to take care of themselves so that they will have the positive energy to care for others, particularly their children, who need them more than ever at this time. Some ways include:

• Support Groups. Hearing that you are not alone and that your situation is not entirely unique can be supportive and helpful. Sharing experiences, and giving and getting advice to and from others, can be nurturing and empowering.

• Friends and Family. Allow yourself to get the support and empathy you need by allowing friends and family members to pitch in and help you, whether by babysitting, taking your child to shul on Shabbos, or going out for some relaxation time together. It is best to choose family members who can be strong with you and for you, who can respect your privacy and understand their boundaries.

Two American Economists, One Jewish, Win Nobel Prize

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley, American economists with ties to Israeli universities, won the Nobel Prize for Economics.

The professors won the prize, called the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, for their research in how to make economic markets work better by more precisely matching supply with demand. Shapley used game theory to study the problem. Roth helped redesign the medical residents’ match program to make it more efficient for young doctors.

The prize was announced Monday.

Shapely, 89, was awarded an honorary doctorate from Hebrew University in 1986 and has worked with Israeli Nobel Prize laureate Robert Auman, who won his Nobel for his work with game theory.

Roth, who is Jewish, was a visiting professor of economics at The Technion in Haifa in 1986, and a visiting professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University in 1995. Roth frequently visits Israel, Auman told JTA.

“I have been hoping for this for years,” Auman said of the award to Roth and Shapley. “It is absolutely the best choice that could be made.”

Roth, 60, is a professor at Harvard University in Boston, but will be leaving for Stanford University, where he is currently a visiting professor of economics, at the end of the year. Shapley is professor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Jewish Oral Surgeon Puts Drill to Anti-Semitic Dental School

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Talk about a root canal.

Sixty years after Perry Brickman was thrown out of Emory University’s dental school simply for being Jewish, the retired oral surgeon from Atlanta went back to the school on Wednesday to receive an official apology. University President James Wagner offered a public mea culpa to Brickman and other Jewish students who faced anti-Semitism at the school between 1948 and 1961.

The apology was in part due to Brickman’s research about Emory’s dark legacy, which he detailed in the documentary film “From Silence to Recognition: Confronting Discrimination in Emory’s Dental School History.”

Are Your Investment Decisions Rational?

Friday, September 28th, 2012

As a financial planner, I often ask new clients why a particular investment is included in their portfolio. One answer that I find somewhat worrying is: “I don’t really know how to explain it, but I just had a gut feeling that this stock was going to be a winner!”

Often the stock in question is anything but a winner, but that isn’t the point. If you were to fit a new kitchen, would you simply walk into a builder’s showroom and say that you wanted the kitchen cabinets that are in the storefront window because you had a “gut feeling” about them as soon as you saw them, or would you first visit several showrooms, research the types of materials used and other factors that are important to your decision? Of course you wouldn’t order home renovations based on gut feelings, because thousands of dollars are at stake, as well as the fact that you will have to live with the results of your decision for a very long time.  Just like investing.

Yet very often, investors base their financial decisions on irrational reasoning.

The way that emotions affect investing has become a science and much research is conducted into various phenomena such as loss aversion, mental accounting, and herding. Emotions influence investors’ decisions in many more ways than you would expect. Sometimes fear drives an investor to sell a stock because a sudden dip in the market makes him afraid he’ll lose everything. And, at the other end of the spectrum, is the person who did well with a certain small investment, and figures that because he did well once, he’s bound to do even better if he does it again. He continues to invest in something that might not be appropriate at increased levels, just because he wants to duplicate his previous “win.”

On my radio show, Goldstein on Gelt, I interviewed several researchers who study behavioral investing, including Professor Terrance Odean of Berkeley University, Nobel Prize Winner Professor Daniel Kahneman, and best-selling author Professor Dan Ariely (click on their names to watch videos of these interviews). Watch the videos and let me know if the research on behavioral finance jives with your investment decisions.

$1 Million Israeli BRAIN Prize To Be Awarded in 2013

Monday, September 24th, 2012

A $1 million dollar prize has been announced which will go to the individual or team with the highest potential for helping people around the world by the non-profit organization Israel Brain Technologies.

The Breakthrough Research and Innovation in Neurotechnology (BRAIN) prize will be awarded by a panel of international leaders in neuroscience, technology, and business.

Israeli President Shimon Peres, whose love of brain research led to the founding of IBT, lauded the potential for make inroads against debilitating brain diseases, both in terms of the benefit to mankind and the possibility of economic profit.

The first BRAIN Prize will be awarded at IBT’s Global Brain Technology Conference in 2013.

Leap In Number of Tel Aviv Bicyclers

Monday, September 24th, 2012

More residents of Tel Aviv are taking to the streets to enjoy the fresh air and health benefits associated with bicycling than ever before.  Since 2010, 54% more residents use their bikes to get to work and school  – an estimated 18,000 people, compared to 12,000 just two years ago, according to a survey conducted for the Tel Aviv municipality economic and social research center.

The number of Tel Aviv residents using public transportation has also risen by almost 4 percent.  The use of private cars also dropped by 5 percent, yet is still the most popular method of transportation in the city.

The Tel Ofan bicycle rental project of Tel Aviv – through which travelers can rent bicycles for short intervals to travel between numerous rental stations throughout the city, will be adding an additional 21 spots in the near future.  Approximately 20,000 Tel Aviv residents subscribe to the service.

How to Avoid Being the Next Ponzi Scheme Victim

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

One of the main headlines in world financial news this August has been the fate of ZeekRewards.com, an online company that offered investors the chance to get rich quick. Interestingly enough, I heard about ZeekRewards before this company hit the headlines, when one of its salespeople contacted me and asked me to represent them. The very pushy salesman nagged me to set up a meeting, but the more he pushed me, the more uneasy I felt. So I decided to follow my mother’s adage of, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” and I didn’t meet him.

Reading the headlines, I’m very relieved with my decision. ZeekRewards offered promises of returns such as 1.5% of the investment at the end of each day and shares of 50% of the daily profits. Wouldn’t everyone want that kind of deal? However, this August, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an emergency action in a North Carolina federal court because this investment project was yet another Ponzi scheme.

The owners of ZeekRewards must have realized that many of these potential investors were going to ask questions. So, in a bid to protect themselves they added a clause for new users stating that they were not purchasing stock or any kind of “investment or equity,” and they even labeled the whole thing as an “e-commerce subscription.” The SEC saw through their ruse and said that this was not the case and in fact the company was offering its subscribers false securities. However, the average investor did not have the knowledge to understand what they were getting into, and the abovementioned clause probably sounded fair enough.

As people kept subscribing and playing the company’s game, investing and reinvesting, the company’s cash outflows began to exceed its total revenue, leading to a collapse and many unhappy subscribers who were left with nothing.

This time, there are more than 1 million victims of the scheme, making this the largest such bankruptcy case, with around $600 million at stake.

Interestingly, many observant Jews, both in Israel and America, have fallen prey to this scheme. It’s not the first time that Jews have been hit hard by Ponzi schemes (think Madoff).

This raises the question of why Ponzi schemes such as ZeekRewards are tempting to the religious Jewish community. One possible answer is that many religious Jews have large families and in this economic climate finances may be tight. Offer a person who is trying to find legitimate ways to support his family a way to make some extra money, and it’s tempting to find out more.

Sadly, as stated above, ZeekRewards is not a one-off story. Apart from desperation to make more money, another possible reason people fall for these schemes is that the scammers may have gotten smarter.

However, there are three basic measures that you could follow to protect yourself from falling victim in a financial scheme:

1. Remember my mother’s rule: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” ZeekRewards offered high gains for pressing a few buttons and looking at some ads. This is the first sign of something suspicious. When something sounds too good to be true, ask yourself, “What’s the catch?”

2. Do your research. One potential investor who decided against investing with ZeekRewards said that when he heard about it, he did his homework. He discovered that the company’s securities offerings were not registered with the SEC as required by U.S. federal law. Recognized authorities monitor investments for a reason; their absence speaks volumes.

3. Don’t feel pressured. If the company/salesman/friend keeps nagging you, saying that the investment opportunity will be gone if you don’t “buy now,” it may be wise to let the opportunity pass.

While there are no guarantees in the world of finance, taking these three steps will provide a basic level of protection against becoming a victim of the next Ponzi scheme that rears its ugly head.

If you are interested in hearing more about the biggest investment fraud in history, watch this TV interview that I did on the subject of Bernie Madoff. Although this was four years ago, the points remain the same. If anything, there are more frauds out there and we need to be more careful than ever. So be wary and tread with caution.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/goldstein-on-gelt/how-to-avoid-being-the-next-ponzi-scheme-victim/2012/09/11/

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