Feature

What the experts say

The boomer crunch; When mobiles make you spend; Watson goes to Wall Street

The boomer crunchBad news, baby boomers: You won’t be able to rely on your portfolio to pay bills in your golden years because of the “sheer number of other boomers,” said Karen Damato in The Wall Street Journal. As large numbers of people retire in coming years and sell stocks and bonds to support themselves, “there will be fewer younger investors to buy those securities, keeping a lid on prices.” At the same time, high demand for the goods and services retirees need will push up costs. The coming population shift is “a political, economic, and capital-markets game-changer,” says fund manager Robert D. Arnott. To make sure your portfolio can withstand the shock, Arnott says boomers should “save more aggressively” and invest in emerging economies “that aren’t afflicted by the 3-D hurricane of deficit, debt, and demography.”

When mobiles make you spendWatch what you charge on your smartphone, said Quentin Fottrell in SmartMoney.com. Many major retailers, including Walmart and Target, are developing systems that let customers pay at the register with a wave of their smartphones, in lieu of credit or debit cards. They believe “people will likely spend more” that way, and they’re probably right. Analysts say mobile payments “combine self-service and instant gratification” in a way that can encourage reckless spending. “The ease of waving a phone, without having to pull out cash or even swipe a card, will certainly result in more impulse buying,” says Ed Mierzwinski of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Watson goes to Wall StreetThe Jeopardy!-winning supercomputer Watson is going to work for Citigroup, said Beth Jinks in Bloomberg.com. The bank plans to use Watson, which can read and understand 200 million pages of information in three seconds, to identify “risks, rewards, and customer wants mere human experts may overlook.” Beyond monitoring market data, Watson will comb newspaper articles, SEC filings, social-media feeds, and regulatory announcements to give the bank an edge. It could prove to be a big moneymaker for IBM, Watson’s owner, which will earn a percentage of the revenue and cost savings from the computer’s expertise. Having already farmed out Watson’s talents to health-care clients, IBM’s Manoj Saxena says that financial services is the “next big one for us.”

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