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Is College Debt Really Necessary? What Parents and Students Should Know

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“Had the people who started Facebook decided to stay at Harvard, they would not have been able to build the company, and by the time they graduated in 2006, that window probably would have come and gone.” – Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal.

Ever since I can remember, I was inculcated with the belief that in order to truly succeed in America, you have to get at least a 4 year degree from a prestigious university; even if it means taking on a ton of debt that you may work your entire adult life to pay off.

I also came to believe that if you really want to stay on the top of the heap, then you need to take on even more debt and get a graduate degree, hence my own post-graduate alphabet soup, including law school.

In high schools across the nation, statistics are still being trotted out by guidance counselors to “prove” that young people have no chance of success without that high-priced sheepskin, or that, if they somehow manage to land a job without one, they will never get promoted and will be stuck in bottom-of-the-ladder limbo land for all eternity.

Twenty years ago, the idea that “you have to go to college to make good money” might have been more truth than myth.

Now, though,, the ever-escalating cost of tuition, fees, and books at America’s universities means that post financial collapse parents might want to take another, perhaps more jaundiced view of the entire higher education system even as the old school narrative continues to be shoved down their throats by university marketing departments.

As a financial educator, I have had numerous concerns about my own clients taking on the costly burdens associated with financing their child’s college education. Truthfully, it makes me more than a bit queasy when I see clients raiding their savings and retirement accounts to send Junior to a fancy private school.

This is especially true in a financial system in flux, where, for the first time ever, over 50% of the unemployed and underemployed have college degrees. To make matters worse, there is a bubble on the horizon; large, paper-thin, and waiting for one tiny pin prick to explode it.

This bubble comes in the form of easy-to-obtain student loans that many are finding are not so easy to pay back. A 2012 article on CNN’s website reported that, at a time of record high unemployment for college grads, student indebtedness had reached an average of nearly $27.000.

“… Two-thirds of the class of 2011 held student loans upon graduation, and the average borrower owed $26,600, according to a report from the Institute for College Access & Success’ Project on Student Debt. That’s up 5% from 2010 and is the highest level of debt in the seven years the report has been published.” (1)

Beyond the expense of college there is also the thornier issue of whether most college kids are learning anything of real value that can be applied to the new economy. The education cartel, always in need of fresh blood and fresh wallets, has systematically smeared those who work in the trades as “blue-collar,” or “uneducated,” and thus somehow inferior to those with Ivy League degrees.

Matthew B. Crawford, a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, and author of the bestseller, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work, has posited that the degradation of manual labor and the rise of so-called knowledge-based jobs was wrongheaded and that the future will belong to those who actually know how to do things such as build custom furniture, repair a car, or install heating and air conditioning units.

Says Crawford:

“While manufacturing jobs have certainly left our shores to a disturbing degree, the manual trades have not. If you need a deck built, or your car fixed, the Chinese are of no help. Because they are in China. And in fact there are reported labor shortages in both construction and auto repair. Yet the trades and manufacturing are lumped together in the mind of the pundit class as “blue collar,” and their requiem is intoned. Even so, the Wall Street Journal recently wondered whether “skilled [manual] labor is becoming one of the few sure paths to a good living.”

Crawford also observes that “If the goal is to earn a living, then, maybe it isn’t really true that 18-year-olds need to be imparted with a sense of panic about getting into college (though they certainly need to learn). Some people are hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations and natural bents, when they would rather be learning to build things or fix things… ” (2)

The Cartelization of Education

We need only look, says bestselling author and trend forecaster Charles Hugh Smith, to the advent of the higher education cartel to see the reason for our obstinate addiction to the “old school” higher education system and the instance that insistence that everyone needs to go to college. There is a lot of money to be made, says Smith, and an elite cadre of cartel bosses who stand to profit by promoting that myth.

“Why does the old style system still persist even though it is already demonstrably inferior? In addition to the financial disincentives, there is another reason: the current system retains a monopoly on assessing student learning and granting credit for demonstrated accomplishment. The schools are able to do this because they have arranged a monopoly on accreditation. This is ultimately a grant of state power.

As a result, modern colleges and universities have collectively become a rent-seeking cartel, an alliance of nominally competitive institutions that maintains a highly profitable monopoly of accreditation. To grasp the power of the cartel, consider a typical Physics I course even at MIT is almost entirely based on Newtonian mechanics, and the subject matter is entirely in the public domain. Only a cartel could arrange to charge $1,500 and more per student for tuition and texts, in the face of far lower cost and superior quality materials, for subject matter that is no more recent than the 19th Century.” (3)

Jeffrey Tucker, CEO of the startup Linerty.me and publisher at Laissez Faire Books, agrees with Smith and maintains that cartelization has ensured that a return on investment in higher education is far from a sure thing for most students and their parents.

… even if the teen does everything right-every test trained for and taken five times, every activity listed on the portfolio, a high GPA, top of the class, early applications and admissions-you are not home free. You are going to spend six figures, but there is also a high opportunity cost: you remove your child from remunerative work for four years, and this is after four years of no employment in high school. That means both lost income and lost job experience. College is costly in every way. (4)

Citing what economists refer to as “inelastic demand,” Tucker writes that the cartel is exceptionally aware of, and deliberately contributes to, parental unwillingness to forego a four-year college education for their children, even if it means putting themselves in the poor house.

“Parents would gladly step in front of a bus to save their children, so facing debt and financial loss for a few years seems just part of parental obligation. This is why, in economic terms, the demand for college is relatively inelastic: Parents keep paying and paying no matter how bad it gets,” he argues. (4)

I see a lot of angst concerning this issue among my own clients. As the parent of a high school student, I understand it. The idea of college “no mater what” is so ingrained in our thinking that when a child tells us they are considering postponing college or even not going at all, parents tend to panic.

However, the stakes are higher than ever before and the potential for damage to the parents’ own financial well-being is enormous, not to mention the contribution education debt makes to our national economic malaise.

Parents and students need to ask themselves honest questions about the value of a traditional four-year degree, what the potential return on that investment will be, and whether or not there are viable alternatives.

Student Debt and Wall Street

As of this writing, current student debt stands at around $1.2 trillion dollars, more than the entire gross domestic products of some nations, including Canada.

After what we’ve discussed in previous chapters, it should come as no shock to you that many banks have turned these college loan obligations into (surprise, surprise) “investments” and are busy shopping them on Wall Street as subprime debt.

The market for these educational loans is relatively small compared to the market for home loans, so I doubt that it will be as massive a bubble as we had during the housing market.

However, if the Fed continues to hold interest rates down, investors might be desperate enough to snap more of them up. Then we could have another potential economy-damaging event on our hands.

Teresa’s Takeaway: Alternatives to Traditional 4-Year Degrees

Many of my clients are able to fund their kids’ education without incurring any debt due to their diligence in creating and maintaining their own private finance system using specially-designed insurance policies. In fact, I set up many of these policies that have as their express purpose the funding of a university education.

That being said, however, I never think it is a good idea to spend money simply because you have it available.

If you are a young person considering college or graduate school, do your research and question your motivations. Before saddling yourself or your parents or grandparents with a lot of debt- consider alternatives to four-year colleges, such as online degrees, community colleges, and trade schools. Ask yourself if what you really love and want to do

Find out if what you want to do really does require a college degree in the first place. Amazingly there are lots of high-paying jobs that don’t require 4-year degrees.

Look into local and community colleges, where your expenses are often a fraction of what private universities charge.

If you’re a recent high school graduate, take a year to “cool off,” work, save and travel. Gain a better understanding of yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. Learn what you have to offer to the world. Contribute to the global conversation in a meaningful way as a volunteer.

A bright spot in all of this is the fact that there are some great alternatives to the traditional sheepskin; alternatives that might actually broaden a students’ understanding of the world and give them skills that are needed in the new economy without bankrupting mom and dad.

Bestselling author James Altucher, a longtime proponent of re-thinking college, provides a few real alternatives to college.

Altucher suggests that some college prospects might be better off taking their college savings and starting a business.

He also suggests traveling to a country such as India and immersing your self in a culture completely different than your own.

You will learn what poverty is. You will learn the value of how to stretch a dollar. You will often be in situations where you need to learn how to survive despite the odds being against you. If you’re going to throw up you might as well do it from dysentery than from drinking too much at a frat party, “he writes. (5)

For even more ideas of what to do instead of college, check the resource section of this book for a link to Altucher’s report “40 Alternatives to College.”

References:

(1) Report CNN Money “Average Student Loan Debt Nears $27,000”

(2) Crawford, Matthew B. Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work

(3) Smith, Charles Hugh, Higher Education Cartel, Meet Creative Destruction, Sept. 9,2013

(4) Tucker, Jeffrey A.”Is There A Viable Alternative to College?” The Freeman, July 2013

(5) Altucher, James “8 Alternatives to College” The Altucher Confidential. January 8, 2011

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TA: Bitcoin Dives Below $40K, Why Bulls Could Struggle In Near Term

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin started a strong decline from the $43,500 resistance against the US Dollar. BTC remains at a risk of more downsides below the $39,200 support.

  • Bitcoin started a major decline after it failed to clear the $43,500 resistance.
  • The price is still trading below $41,000 and the 100 hourly simple moving average.
  • There was a break below a major bullish trend line with support near $42,000 on the hourly chart of the BTC/USD pair (data feed from Kraken).
  • The pair could continue to move down if there is a break below the $39,200 support.

Bitcoin Price Declines Heavily

Bitcoin price gained pace for a move above the $42,500 level. However, BTC struggled to gain pace for a move above the $43,500 resistance zone.

A high was formed near $43,497 before the bears appeared. As a result, there was a fresh decline below the $42,000 support level and the 100 hourly simple moving average. Besides, there was a break below a major bullish trend line with support near $42,000 on the hourly chart of the BTC/USD pair.

There was a fresh decline below the $41,200 support zone. Bitcoin even declined below the $40,000 support zone. A low is formed near $39,261 and the price is now consolidating losses.

On the upside, an initial resistance is near the $40,250 level. It is near the 23.6% Fib retracement level of the recent decline from the $43,497 swing high to $39,261 low. The first major resistance is near the $40,500 level. An upside break above the $40,500 resistance could start a steady recovery wave towards $41,200.

Source: BTCUSD on TradingView.com

The next key resistance is near the $41,200 level, above which the bulls might aim a test of $42,500. Any more gains may perhaps call for a move towards the $43,500 resistance zone.

Fresh Drop in BTC?

If bitcoin fails to start a fresh increase above $40,500, it could start a fresh decline. An immediate support on the downside is near the $39,500 zone.

The first major support is seen near the $39,200 zone. A downside break below the $39,200 support zone may perhaps spark another major decline. The next major support is near $38,500, below which the price could even decline below the $38,000 zone.

Technical indicators:

Hourly MACD – The MACD is now gaining pace in the bearish zone.

Hourly RSI (Relative Strength Index) – The RSI for BTC/USD is in the oversold zone.

Major Support Levels – $39,500, followed by $39,200.

Major Resistance Levels – $40,250, $40,500 and $41,200.

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Binance’s CZ Explains Why Banning Crypto Ads Won’t Affect Demand

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Several regulators around the globe have taken a hostile approach around crypto exchanges and crypto-related companies by forbidding them to advertise the industry to the general public. However, Binance’s CEO Changpeng Zhao thinks this will not affect the high demand of the market.

Curbing Crypto Ads

Crypto-related firms have been accused by international regulators of marketing their services with misleading messages that undermine the risk digital assets investments could possess to users.

Spain, U.k., and Singapore have banned the advertisement of crypto to different extents.

In Singapore alone, crypto exchanges and other licensed companies can only publish ads on their own websites and mobile apps to avoid reaching the general public.

The country’s ban includes “any form of advertisements or promotional materials in public areas such as Singapore public transport, public transport venues, broadcast media or periodical publications, third party websites, social media platforms, public events or roadshows.”

“MAS stresses that DPT service providers should conduct themselves with the understanding that trading of DPTs is not suitable for the general public. These Guidelines set out MAS’ expectation that DPT service providers should not promote their DPT services to the general public in Singapore.“

Spain requires a pre-approval for any crypto advertisement directed towards an audience of 100,000 or more people and all ads and must include a warning like such: “Investments in crypto-assets are not regulated. They may not be appropriate for retail investors and the full amount invested may be lost.”

In the U.K., authorities have banned several ads that they have claimed to be “irresponsible and took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity.” 

Related Reading | Fidelity Says What We’ve Been Thinking: Countries & Central Banks Will Buy BTC

Why It Won’t Affect Price

The price of cryptocurrencies is driven by demand and supply, meaning the interest users have in the market and the availability of each digital coin. For this reason, the effects that bans might have on the adoption of cryptocurrencies are believed to be important for the future of the market.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (also known as “CZ”) alleged during a CNBC International interview that the reason why regulators take this approach on advertisements is that the crypto industry has a huge demand.

Even though the CEO thinks these bans could slow down the industry’s growth, CZ is not worried about the macro picture because he thinks the demand for crypto is so high that curbing crypto ads will have little impact.

Changpeng Zhao claimed that most users are driven to the crypto industry through “word of mouth” marketing rather than ads.

“Clampdown on crypto advertising is unlikely to have much of an effect on demand, as most of the crypto users come from word-of-mouth promotions anyway.”

CZ noted that Facebook and Google opposed crypto ads for a long time and even though they are giant platforms that reign over the internet, this has not affected the adoption of digital assets.

Binance is the largest crypto exchange in the world and it recently withdrew its application to start a cryptocurrency exchange in Singapore after facing pressure from the country’s regulators over concerns of risks and consumer protection.

The exchange, however, has not lost interest in conducting business in the country. The global regulatory framework is miles away from becoming clear, and Binance is working to adapt and comply, taking “strategic, commercial and developmental” considerations.

CZ stated that Binance hasn’t driven its eyes away from Singapore for the country might change its regulatory framework later on.

The future location of Binance headquarters remains a mystery. CZ said they are exploring “everywhere in the world.”

The CEO noted that Binance is working with many authorities to help them build a comprehensive regulatory framework for the crypto market.

Related Reading | Binance’s CZ Wants Entrepreneurs To Create Coins. Does His Argument Make Sense?

Crypto Total Market Cap

At the time of writing, the global market cap of cryptocurrencies sets its price at $1,8 trillion, showing a decline of %3 in the daily chart.

Crypto total market cap at $1,8 trillion in the daily chart | Source: TradingView.com

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Bitcoin’s Plan To Fix The Crowdfunding Problem?

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Bitcoin's Plan To Fix The Crowdfunding Problem?

Crowdfunding has been around for some time now, and although it has been a hard time for some projects to gain funds, bitcoin could be the answer.

Let’s look at the root of the troubles and how crypto could potentially address them.

Related Reading | Downward DOGE: Descending Dogecoin Pattern Predicts Deadly Drop

The In’s and Outs…

Crowdfunding is a practice where you can donate money – including cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and more cryptocurrencies – to projects, associations or people to develop ideas. It is a very powerful mechanism and tool for innovation and supporting social enterprises. Different platforms, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have not taken their foot off the brakes; the web 2.0 crowdfunding movement, which has led to the creation of several billion-dollar tech startups, like Oculus, and raised millions of dollars for thousands of causes, is ripe for development.

Crypto crowdfunding has the potential to be a network that connects people and their ideas. Today, crowdfunding is dramatically narrowed by its reliance on legacy finance, which limits the vast majority of the world from accessing it. Although this is good in theory, and has worked thus far, the major issue is the reliance on the legacy financial infrastructure, that is not only costly but globally fragmented.

BTC: Bitcoin bouncing back after hitting all time high in November 2021. | BTC:USD tradingview.com

Most crowdfunding platforms are only found in 30 countries. To date, the costs of operating crowdfunding in this network are very high, due to the many mediating third parties involved. The average crowdfunding platform charges a 7% fee per successful project. Could crypto’s aggressive transaction fees beat out traditional competitors?

Crowdfunding & Crypto: A Pair Of Aces…

Many platforms have had a hard time with the tight reliance of legacy financial infrastructure; this has made some crowdfunding platforms move over to the “web 3.0” model.

One big example is Kickstarter, who has decided to move from its reliance on Stripe to creating its own crowdfunding protocol on other blockchains. This may make sense for equity-based crowdfunding, which can enable the platform and it’s users to invest in new companies and their ideas.

A prime example of these worlds coming together was just last year with Bitcoin Smiles, which raised roughly 1.8 BTC. Bitcoin Smiles was an initiative aiming to raise funds and provide free dental care to impoverished people living in rural areas of El Salvador. Another project that can be used as an example is Kivéclair, a development project that educates people about bitcoin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Although these are only few examples of early crowdfunding in crypto, these do provide a valid source and hope that bitcoin can still rally through its community of caring bulls and bears.

Related Reading | Bitcoin Millionaires Are Flocking To This North American Tax Haven. But What Do The Locals Think?

 

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