An upward revision in GDP has fanned expectations the Federal Reserve will after all raise interest rates in 2015. Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

The US economy grew faster than previously thought in the second quarter of the year, according to new figures that have fanned expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates before the end of 2015.

Government data suggested the world’s biggest economy grew at an annual pace of 3.9% between April and June, exceeding economists’ expectations for the US GDP estimate to stay unchanged at 3.7%. It marked an even stronger bounceback from the sluggish 0.6% growth recorded in the opening months of 2015 when an especially harsh winter hit economic activity.

The dollar strengthened against other currencies and US stock markets rallied after the upward revision to GDP, which the Commerce Department said was largely driven by consumer spending being stronger than previously thought.

Economists said the figures left the door open for the US central bank to raise interest rates from their current record low of close to zero at policy meetings in October or December.

“Yellen has confirmed a hike can still occur in 2015, so speculation over a December move is currently rife in the market – with short-term dollar bulls hoping for an October move,” said Alex Lydall, senior trader at foreign exchange business Foenix Partners.

“With the exception of inflation, economic indicators are still solid for the domestic economy in the US, so the pertinent question remains: will the Fed risk looking irresponsible and delay rate hikes into 2016, or will they take the plunge this year, with perhaps a more cautious hike than the expected 0.25%? The jury is still out.”

The Federal Reserve held off raising borrowing costs at its policy meeting last week as it cited volatility in the global economy. But Yellen indicated in a speech on Thursday this week that there was a still a good chance the first hike for almost a decade could come before the year is out. She said US economic prospects “generally appear solid” and it was best not to wait too long to tighten policy, which has been ultra-loose since the global financial crisis.

However, some experts noted that GDP figures did not give the most up-to-date picture of the economy’s performance and that more timely economic indicators painted a gloomier picture.

The revision had “little bearing on US policy”, said Chris Williamson, chief economist at economic data company Markit, which tracks business activity in the US and other economies.

“It does little to change the story that the economy rebounded strongly in the spring after the weak patch seen earlier in the year. More important are the forward-looking indicators, which include a number of red flag warnings that growth is slowing amid headwinds of the strong dollar, slumping oil prices, financial market volatility and emerging market jitters,” he added.

“The more up-to-date survey data play into the hands of dovish policymakers and will reduce the odds of interest rates rising any time soon.”

Source: The Guardian

VW officially appoints Matthias Mueller as the new CEO

Matthias Mueller, CEO of Porsche AG attends the Porsche AG annual press conference on March 2015 in Stuttgart, Germany.

Thomas Niedermueller | Getty Images
Matthias Mueller, CEO of Porsche AG attends the Porsche AG annual press conference on March 2015 in Stuttgart, Germany.

Following the emergency meeting that was scheduled today, Matthias Mueller has been officially named CEO replacing Martin Winterkorn, who admitted to news of the auto giant’s manipulation of emission tests for its diesel cars.

In a statement, Mueller said he wants to implement strict compliance standards while gaining back the trust the company has lost.

Mueller faces a tough job at the helm. Volkswagen will now try to navigate its way through civil suits and multinational investigations over allegations it deliberately tricked regulators who were testing emissions levels on diesel vehicles made between 2008 and 2015.

In a nutshell, the issue was first brought to light by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month based on tests from West Virginia University. Volkswagen is said to have installed sophisticated software known as “defeat devices” that only turned on full emissions controls when it sensed official testing taking place, but otherwise emitted 10 to 40 times the legal amount while on the road.

The Company estimates 11 million cars are affected worldwide. Mueller contended that Volkswagen vehicles never posed safety risks to consumers.


8 therapeutic lifestyle changes that promote wealth

8 therapeutic lifestyle changes

8 therapeutic lifestyle changes

It is often said that one should not just aspire to be rich but to be wealthy.  In order to understand this, we could say, while being rich only covers the financial aspect, wealth covers every aspect of our lives. Let’s Explore the following TOP 8 therapeutic lifestyle changes.

1  Exercise

We are designed to move.

Our bodies are mechanical miracles that enable us to walk, run, lift and play. As we use them, our bodies adapt and flourish. Our muscles grow stronger, our bones tougher, our hearts more powerful. Health improves: we become leaner and fitter, and less likely to develop deadly diseases such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and cancer.

Exercise also benefits the brain and mind. Scientists used to think that the brain was largely unchangeable. However, now we know that the brain is amazingly responsive and can even increase in size when stimulated by exercise or meditation or when fed a healthy diet. When we walk or workout more blood and oxygen flow to the brain, and over time new blood vessels form so that the increased blood flow becomes permanent. With exercise, the brain actually increases in size as brain cells live longer, sprout new connections, and join each other to form new neural pathways. Sounds like fun right?

2 Diet & Nutrition 

Feel better by changing your diet.

For most of human history the compelling concern of everyday life was simply finding enough to eat. Fail for a day and you felt hungry; fail for several days and you starved. Consequently, humans evolved to wolf down large amounts of food whenever it was available, and to delight in sweet tasting sugars and calorie-loaded fats.

But what is good for preventing immediate starvation is not what’s good for maintaining long-term wellbeing. Lots of sugar, fat, and calories take a toll on both body and brain, as the growing epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease make all too clear. The mind also suffers. An unhealthy diet takes a toll on mood and mental acuity, eventually resulting in greater rates of depression and dementia. On the other hand, a healthy diet enhances mental function, reduces the rates of depression and dementia, and lowers the loss of mental acuity that can occur with aging. Consequently, those of us fortunate to live in countries with large amounts and varieties of readily available foods have to consciously select our diet.

In short, the foods we choose are enormously important for both our physical and mental wellbeing.


3   Time in Nature

We are a part of nature and nature is a part of us.

For the first time in history we live divorced from nature. We reside in huge cities, spending most of our time under artificial lighting. We keep unnatural daily rhythms, and spend hours each day immobile in front of television and computer screens. Not surprisingly, we now suffer from new disorders with picturesque names such as nature-deficit disorder, digital fog, technostress, and techno-brain burnout.

Fortunately spending time in natural settings is healing and restorative. If you start spending more time in nature, you’ll likely feel better emotionally and spiritually, and also function better intellectually and socially.Being in nature is healing. For example, natural settings can reduce symptoms of stress, depression, and attention deficit disorder. Likewise, patients in hospital rooms that overlook natural settings suffer less pain after surgery, require less pain medication, and leave hospital sooner.

4 Contribution

Service is not necessarily a sacrifice, but rather can benefit both giver and receiver.

Service is said to serve the giver by reducing painful unhealthy mind-states such as greed, jealousy, and egocentricity while strengthening pleasant, healthy mind-states such as happiness and generosity. Psychologists agree. Their research shows that people who volunteer more are happier and healthier and even live longer. Elderly volunteers who donate their time to assist students who are having trouble at school not only feel better themselves but also display improved intellectual abilities and better brain function. The same benefits can be experienced through undertaking meaningful paid work.

Society also benefits when individuals are generous. Generosity tends to lead to more generosity, and those who witness kind, caring behavior are more likely to be kind and caring themselves. The evidence is clear: generosity and service to others improves psychological, physical and brain wellbeing. When people help others, in their work or beyond it, they themselves are helped and tend to end up happier and healthier. Contribution and service to others have long been considered essential elements of a life well lived. Now they can also be considered essential elements of a healthy life.

5 Build GOOD relationships

The idea that good relationships are crucial for both physical and mental wellbeing is an ancient theme.

Philosophers, psychologists and scientists agree. In fact, the quality of our relationships is one of the most important of all lifestyle factors in determining the quality of our lives. It is amazing just how powerful our relationships are. Rich relationships lower the risk of diseases ranging from the common cold to heart disease and strokes and of psychological disorders such as depression. Good relationships are associated with greater psychological health and happiness and with better intellectual and work performance.

The dramatic effect of relationships on our wellbeing is grounded in the very design of our brain. The new research field of social neuroscience shows that we are hardwired for empathy and intimacy. Our brains resonate with one another like tuning forks, picking up subtle emotional and social cures, enabling us to empathize with others, and to literally feel what they feel.

In every relationship and in every interaction we create an intimate brain to brain link-up. This neural link allows us to feel and affect the brain function of everyone we meet. We are not only parts of social networks but parts of neural networks.

Given this intimate link between our brains, it’s no surprise that our relationships are so important and powerful and that we affect each other so dramatically.

6 Recreation

We all benefit from relaxation, humor and play, and researchers are beginning to understand why.

Playfulness is built into our biology. Youngsters of many species—from cats and dogs to monkeys and chimpanzees—spend large amounts of time playing, and in the process they learn and grow.

For children, play is more than just a way of having fun. It’s also a way of experimenting and trying new things; of testing themselves and expanding their limits, of training muscles and developing minds. Play is also a way of learning how to live together, of learning how to compete and cooperate, to make friends and acquire social skills. Yes, play is fun, but for children it’s also an integral part of learning and growing.

Adults also benefit from play, and the many benefits are summarized nicely by the word recreation, or re-creation. With recreation and play we re-create, refresh, and revitalize ourselves. We speed our recovery from work and stress, reduce painful emotions such as anxiety and worry, and foster feelings of happiness and joy. No wonder recreation and play are so good for us both physically and emotionally.

7 Relaxation and effective stress management

Stress and challenges are an inevitable part of life.

Stress can be good: it can push us to learn new skills, stretch our limits, and encourage us to reach new levels of mastery and success.

But when stress is severe, and especially when it is also chronic, then that is another matter. Severe stress exacts a toll on both body and mind. Mentally we feel anxious and tense and can easily become overwhelmed and exhausted. Over time we can end up feeling hopeless and helpless, depleted and depressed. Physically, stress takes its toll throughout the body with effects ranging all the way from tense muscles down to disrupted functioning of our genes.

However, there are many skillful strategies and practices for dealing with it, besides meditation. These include several of the other Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, or TLCs, that we are looking at. By using one or more of them we can reduce our stress and sometimes even learn and grow from it.

8 Religious/Spirituality

Religion and spirituality are vitally important to most people. In fact some 90% of the world’s population engages in religious and spiritual practices. For the other 10%, some appreciation of the “Big Picture” – the size and wonder of the Cosmos – is invaluable.

For most of these people, religion and spirituality are especially important in coping with stress and illness. When faced with health challenges or life crises, whether their own or those of loved ones, most people the world over call on their religion for help and support. Research evidence suggests that these people do in fact feel comforted and are more likely to also be happier and healthier.
However, the kind of religious involvement makes a big difference. In general, people tend to feel better and be psychologically healthier when they are involved in religious communities that emphasize qualities such as love and forgiveness, rather than focusing on themes of guilt, sin, and punishment.

What kinds of health benefits do people receive? Research demonstrates both physical and mental health benefits. Mentally, people with regular religious-spiritual practices are less likely to suffer from psychological difficulties such as anxiety and depression or drug and alcohol abuse. They are also likely to be psychologically healthier and happier, to be more resilient, and to have better relationships and marriages.

Regular religious and spiritual practices are also associated with better physical health. Such people tend to have fewer specific health problems such as high blood pressure and to be in better physical shape overall. One of the most remarkable of all research findings is that people who attend religious services weekly tend to live an average of SEVEN YEARS longer than those who don’t. But hey, Don’t worry if you are not really religious, some people substitute Yoga or meditation as a means of spiritual connection.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH and start seeing the changes that will bring you a WEALTHY LIFE.


VW Appoints new CEO Today

Matthias Müller

Matthias Müller


Today, Müller is the hot favourite to take over as CEO of the Volkswagen Group, following the resignation of Winterkorn this week.

Volkswagen’s board will meet Today to appoint a new chief executive after the resignation of Martin Winterkorn over the emissions scandal that has beset the German carmaker.

The company’s 20-member supervisory board will gather at its headquarters in Wolfsburg for a scheduled meeting that has turned into an emergency crisis summit.

Matthias Müller, the 62-year-old boss of Volkswagen’s Porsche sports car division, is the frontrunner to take over. He is backed by a majority of the board and looks certain to be appointed, Reuters reported.

Winterkorn quit on Wednesday after he had apologized for breaching public trust but was unable to hang on to the job he held for more than eight years. His resignation came less than a week after US regulators revealed that the company had installed devices in its diesel cars to falsify emissions tests.

Müller trained as a toolmaker before studying information technology. His experience of working for the Volkswagen empire since the 1970s has made him the favorite to try to steady the company.

Müller, who has previously joked about being too old to get the top job, also has the support of the Porsche-Piech family, who own most of the voting rights in Volkswagen.

The appointment of a new chief executive is expected to coincide with more senior departures from the carmaker. Reports in Germany said Ulrich Hackenberg, head of research and development at its Audi arm, Wolfgang Hatz, a board member at Porsche, and Heinz-Jakob Neußer, head of VW brand development, were poised to leave.

Michael Horn, Volkswagen’s US boss, may also depart in the clear-out. Horn said this week that the company “screwed up” over the emissions affair.

In April, Volkswagen US wrote to owners of diesel-powered Audi and VW cars asking them to take their cards to dealers to make sure emissions were “optimised”, Reuters reported. The company failed to mention that the letters were part of an effort to placate increasingly sceptical regulators over Volkswagen’s emissions record.

Pressure continued to build on the carmaker as European and US authorities escalated their investigations. Germany’s transport minister said Volkswagen had manipulated emissions tests in Europe and at least 27 US state attorneys launched a multi-state investigation into the company.

In the UK, ClientEarth, an environmental group, criticised the government for failing to act on evidence that cars were not performing according to test results.

The government told the supreme court in evidence for a case brought by ClientEarth that “the real world emission performance of a vehicle has turned out to be quite different to how the vehicle performs on the regulatory test cycle”, the Times reported.

Volkswagen’s luxury rival BMW was dragged into the scandal on Thursday when a news report said some of its diesel cars exceeded emissions standards. BMW said it did not “manipulate or rig” tests on its cars.

BMW’s shares fell heavily but were up almost 5% in Friday morning trading. Volkswagen shares, which had fallen by more than a third this week, rose 1.8%.

VW diesel scandal spreads to Audi, Porsche — and possibly even BMW

Fallout from the Volkswagen diesel scandal continues to grow, as this morning brings reports that Audi’s head of research and development Ulrich Hackenberg and Porsche’s engine chief Wolfgang Hatz are both out — two of the top engineering figures in the Volkswagen’s other flagship brands. That comes as a bit of a surprise, even though it’s widely expected more heads will roll at VW aside from Martin Winterkorn, the CEO of the company’s worldwide operations, who resigned effective yesterday.

Meanwhile, there’s word from the German newspaper Auto Bild that BMW’s diesel engines were also “significantly” exceeding regulatory limits, CNBC reports, with the BMW X3 2.0-liter diesel model spitting out 11 times more nitrogen oxide than the current level set by the European Union.

“[We did not] manipulate or rig any emissions tests. We observe the legal requirements in each country and adheres to all local testing requirements,” BMW said in a statement in response to the allegations. “When it comes to our vehicles, there is no difference in the treatment of exhaust emissions whether they are on rollers (e.g. test bench situation) or on the road…We are not familiar with the test mentioned by Auto Bild concerning the emissions of a BMW X3 during a road test. No specific details of the test have yet been provided and therefore we cannot explain these results.”

Audi A3 2012 TDI

Late last week, news of the diesel scandal broke as VW admitted to cheating on emissions tests with the use of a software-based defeat device on almost 500,000 of its 2.0-liter “clean diesel” TDI engines sold in versions of the Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, Golf, new Golf SportWagen, Passat, and Beetle, as well as the Audi A3, since the 2009 model year. The scandal encompasses both the 140-horsepower, 236 lb-ft-of-torque blocks and the newer 150-hp engines released beginning with 2015 models. Later VW admitted that the software is actually installed on over 11 million vehicles globally.

While diesel engine sales account for less than one percent of the passenger car market in the US, it had been growing, and it composes much more of the European car market thanks to higher fuel prices, looser emissions standards, and widespread fudging — reports abound of car manufacturers taping the doors shut and folding in mirrors to improve aerodynamics during tests, for example. It’s already known that VW has cheated in both the US and Europe. But the fact that its other brands may be exposed in the same manner, and that other auto manufacturers like BMW may also be involved, improve the odds that diesel may soon be dead in cars in the US once more.

Four Ways of Fostering a Less-Than-Toxic Work World

In her recent article on our toxic work world, Anne Marie Slaughter calls for a paradigm shift in how we think about the work done outside and inside the home. She puts forth a proposal: we’ve made significant strides for the equal right to work; now we should be talking about the equal right to care.

Her article harnesses a growing body of thought leadership demonstrating that flexible, results-oriented work increases profits and improves productivity; and partners it with the well-documented phenomenon of workplace differences for working moms and working dads (see Michelle Budig’s 2014 study showing that having a child helped mens’ careers, but hurt careers of women). At the same time I was reading Slaughter’s NYT piece, a colleague (a white male engineer) pointed me to a study that backs Slaughter’s conclusion with powerful data on the transformation that happens for women when workplaces go flexible: research by Harvard economist Claudia Goldin indicates that flexible work environments result in equal pay for men and women.

Slaughter’s central concern is that today’s workplaces aren’t built to support co-earning parents–our workplaces operate as if half of its employees don’t have a family to care for when they get home.

“We can, all of us, stand up for care. Until we do, men and women will never be equal; not while both are responsible for providing cash but only women are responsible for providing care.”

Last week Slaughter’s husband wrote that his wife’s career was only made possible because he slowed down his own career to be their family’s lead parent. I commend the two of them for putting forth their example as a cautionary tale for change. Some of the NYT comments critique for Slaughter painting with ideals that are out of touch with implementable solutions. My husband and I have acheived co-parenting balance, and as a CEO of a software company, my workplace has accomplished a results-oriented work environment where working parents can thrive. I can tell you how we’ve executed:

1. We encourage flexible work. At Unitive, every employee follows whatever combination of work-from-home with in-the-office time that best suits their personal life responsibilities. As a rule, standing meetings are scheduled after 10 a.m. and before 4 p.m.

2. Performance is measured by results — not facetime. Digital and productivity tools like Slack and project trackers have reduced concepts like “facetime” to an archaic vestige. The measure of each of my employees comes down to the quality of the work they contribute.

3. We have no limit to vacation days. Our vacation policy is simple: take whatever time you need it whenever you need it. No strings attached. The natural effect of flexible, digital work environments are workdays that go beyond an 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. window. Vacations are critical to employee satisfaction and mitigating burnout.

4. We value transparency. I’ve found flexible work setups operate most seamlessly in environments in which employees are also encouraged to bring their full selves to work. While employees are comfortable being as open or closed about their non-work selves, our leadership’s job is to foster a workplace that is inclusive to all individuals and lifestyles.

While we are still in the midst of our journey, our mantra of flexibility has been pivotal to the development of our corporate culture. Whether they’re male or female, a parent or non-parent – affording my employees the right to live their lives gives each of them the opportunity to contribute on equal terms and ensures that a variety of perspectives arrive – and stay – at the table. My company’s success hinges directly on this paradigm shift. The success of the American workforce is no exception.

Arzo Enterprises