And so we come to our last post (and newsletter !) of 2015, with 2016 just a couple of days away (or perhaps a couple hours, depending when you read this).
From our end of the world’s affairs, we can report the economy has mostly held, and business has been pretty good.
Are these trends likely to continue in the new year? According to the Christian Science Monitor, “signs seem to indicate that 2016 will be another good one, as the U.S. will continue to outperform its peers, with GDP growth ranging from 2.1% to 4%.”
Reasons for this general optimism include oil prices staying low, wages inching up, and Americans carrying less debt.
The UK’s Guardian is a little more circumspect, with their look ahead saying that “prediction number one for next year is that both inflation and interest rates will stay lower for longer than currently anticipated…Cheap money will boost both borrowing and – for a time – growth.”
But, they caution, “the next theme of 2016 will be China, where the question is not whether the pace of growth will slacken, but by how much.”
That is certainly one of the profound lessons of recent new years past — that all parts of the world are interconnected in ways they have never been before. On a practical level, this is why network security remains such a big issue in payments, and unfortunately, we close out the year with another newsworthy hack — this one affecting holiday travelers:
The Hyatt hotel chain announced over the holidays “that it had discovered credit-card stealing malware in its payment system, Reuters reports.” Unfortunately, the chain is being circumspect about the extent of the intrusion, not saying yet what specific customer credit card information might have been taken. Also “Hyatt hasn’t said how many customers or hotels were affected, only saying that an investigation was ongoing and customers should look for suspicious charges.”
The incident appears restricted to Hyatt-managed properties, rather than those that are owned by franchisees, but doublecheck your own accounts if you’ve stayed at one recently.
This speaks to another trend we’ll hope doesn’t continue unchecked in the new year: “Payment card fraud is increasing at a faster clip than payment card sales, new research from the Nilson Report reveals.
“The United States is a global fraud center, as its 48.2 percent share of global card losses is more than double the 21.4 percent share of global card dollar volume. Fraud losses now amount to 12.75 cents for every $100 in volume.”
And if you want to augment your luck — or that of your family or your business — there are many New Year’s food traditions designed to help you do just that: “Long noodles are another Asian contribution. They represent long life. A stir-fry is pretty gentle and may be the best way to go. It’s bad luck to break or cut the noodles, so handle with care,” according to a USA Today roundup on “lucky” New Year’s dining from around the globe.
Also eating a whole fish: “Fish are loaded with luck. Their scales look like coins. (Scandinavians eat herring for the silver skin.) Fish swim forward, indicating progress.”
Or if you want to keep it simpler, still, just eat something round, that being “the shape you want for the new year. Unity, continuity, the year coming full circle. Anything round will do — bagels, doughnuts, oranges, cakes.”
And of course “roundness” represents those ongoing, and unbroken, cycles, we continually find ourselves in the midst of. So here’s to long noodles and round shapes throughout the New Year.
See you next week — and next year!