Saturday, 27 November 2021
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.


Today at the crisis headquarters a meeting to discuss a further response to the pandemic was held and the Minister of Health Vili Beroš reported at the Government session on the latest data on coronavirus infections.

"In Croatia, 3,053 new cases were recorded today, which is 28.24 percent of the number tested. There are 939 people in hospitals and 131 people on ventilators. As we announced, today is the meeting of the crisis headquarters, we will discuss a further response to the pandemic," said Health Minister Vili Beros.

He added that "An increase of new cases of 56 percent compared to last Wednesday is a call for an additional much-needed dose of caution," he said.
He also warned of the danger of "twindemia", i.e. a joining of the coronavirus and flu. So far, 140 cases of influenza have been recorded in Croatia, which arrived earlier this year than usual.


The insurance industry has been affected by covid-19, just like every other industry around the world. As changes are made throughout society to compensate for the pandemic, insurance needs are changing to ensure coverage. The International Journal of Environmental Research has authored numerous papers on the topic, and they state that in some areas of the industry they have seen a decrease in premiums, with continued reductions expected to offer coverage to their consumers. They also claim that the cost to the insurers for claims is costing more than the cost of the premiums that they have coming in.


There is currently a huge strain on the investment portfolios of the insurance companies. They rely on these to keep money built up to pay the claims off. There must be a fund set up for every insurance company that allows them to pay for claims that are filed. It is a requirement by law.

As the funds from investments decrease, due to the market failing and people selling out, the profits of the company decrease. As most of you know, if a company does not make a profit, they will not stay in business long. It is hard for smaller companies to stay afloat since the covid-19 pandemic began. Since the changes that have been made is going to be the new way of life, the insurers need to find better ways to increase their incomes, without having to raise the cost of the premiums for the consumers that are already struggling.

Delayed Payments

As consumers continue to struggle paying bills, insurance companies are seeing an increase in late premium payments. The carriers are pushing for agents to accept them, without any late fees or penalties being added on. This causes an even bigger strain on the insurer because it affects their cash flow.

Cash flow is a combination of money earned, money spend, and money going to profits. Past due payments means that the business must cover extra costs from funds that should be going to other areas of the business. A negative impact on the cash flow decreases the profits of the company and causes an industry wide panic of trying to keep their doors open for business.

Cheaper Premiums

As mentioned earlier, premiums have been decreasing for insurance agents to keep customers. As lockdowns occur, jobs are lost, and incomes decrease, the need for insurance has dramatically decreased. For instance, pregnancy insurance may no longer be needed because people with less income can get help from state programs to pay for the bills.

Even though insurance is extremely important, people are choosing to decrease their coverage due to costs that they cannot afford anymore. As the income from premiums decrease insurance companies struggle even more to keep up with their bills, and the claims that they are still required to pay.


Coverage disputes are happening throughout the world daily. Covid-19 was not included in most policies, so people that are dealing with the virus also must deal with their insurance carriers. They have been finding that claims filed under coronavirus are being turned down. Many policies have clauses stating that they do not cover world events that are out of the control of the public, or private, sectors.

Wrap Up

Even though the pandemic has affected all of us in separate ways, the insurance sectors are stepping up and making changes to ensure that their consumers are getting the coverage they need. Needed riders are added onto existing policies, and new plans include covid-19 issues. The future of insurance companies may look bleak now, but the agents that stick it out will get back to business as normal soon.


The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has published a new Covid-19 map on which the epidemiological picture of Croatia is presented somewhat worse than last week.

The city of Zagreb remained in dark red, and was joined by North-eastern Croatia, which includes Slavonia, Sisak-Moslavina County and Karlovac County.
Red means a 14-day rate of 75 to 200 with a positive rate greater than 4 percent, and areas where the 14-day rate is infected is 200 to 500, and dark red areas mean a 14-day rate is greater than 500.

The ECDC map is advisory, but some EU Member States rely on it when introducing epidemiological restrictions upon return to the country.


The meteorological autumn has just reached its halfway mark, and the AccuWeather meteorologists are already predicting what our winter will be like. This week, they released an annual winter forecast for Europe, to help residents predict what costs await them due to rising energy costs but also the impact of the coronavirus.

Thus, AccuWeather forecasters say, among other things, that the shift of the polar vortex to the south will bring stormy weather conditions to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, so the coming winter will be marked by strong winds.

Some of the strongest storm winds are most likely to hit southern France, Spain and Portugal, and that area of Europe, after recording record rainfall this autumn, may still be hit by floods. In other parts of southern Europe, meteorologists predict, very wet winters will prevail, especially in the Balkans, where heavy rainfall is expected with above-average temperatures.


This weekend in Dubrovnik the Lapad Run will be held in which Du Motion and the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Public Health Institute will jointly mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The whole day start at 9:30am this Sunday in the bay of Lapad.

"We invite the people of Dubrovnik to respond as much as possible to Sunday's race and to support this noble cause,” said the director of Du Motion Alen Boskovic. He explained how participants can choose between walking or running on two sections - 5 or 10 km, all in order to raise awareness of the importance of regular preventive examinations and early detection of the disease.


According to the current data of the County Institute of Public Health, in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, one case of breast cancer is detected every four days, while at the country level as many as six new cases are detected daily. However, the disease is curable in over 95 percent of cases if detected in time.

All those interested can register for the race until Friday, October 22 via the official Du Motion website. And here is a link -

Covid-19 registration requirements

In accordance with the current epidemiological measures of the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection, all runners over 14 must meet at least one of the conditions for participation: possession of a valid EU digital COVID certificate, negative PCR test or rapid antigen test, recovery from COVID-19 or vaccination certificate.


The Dubrovnik public bus company, Libertas, has finally introduced the use of contactless payment.

Libertas has announced that it is now possible to pay for monthly passes, bus tickets and other tickets with credit cards rather than cash.

This move, which clearly should have been made years ago, is also and added advantage with the current Covid-19 safety situation.


"There is no plan to expand the EU's digital COVID certificates, but we will soon start talking about it," Krunoslav Capak, director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, announced yesterday after a session of the Scientific Council of the Croatian Government.

He referred to the fact that Western European countries are very widely and increasingly using COVID certificates as a kind of relative pressure to vaccinate non-vaccinated people, because those who have been vaccinated have certain advantages in using certain services, such as cultural institutions, restaurants and the like.

“It is very likely that we will talk about it soon. I would say that the introduction of COVID certificates in the health and social care system has succeeded, "Capak said.

As of this week, 70 percent of nurses and technicians and 88 percent of medical doctors have been vaccinated with at least one dose, and hospital directors say there are no major difficulties with testing. It is not yet specified what the application of the EU digital COVID-19 certificate will be extended to.

Some of the members of the Scientific Council and epidemiologists mostly refer to the experiences of European countries, but with the caveat that it is decided by the Civil Protection Headquarters.

Here’s what they don’t teach you at school: how to put your money to work. All they say is that there’s this linear path you should follow: go to college, get a degree, find a prestigious job, and move up the career ladder until retirement.


Yet, when it comes to building wealth, that’s not the whole story. It leaves out what you should do with your savings. Spoiler alert: the answer’s not “put them under a mattress.”


You can grow your savings by investing that money and whatever returns you gain later on. But which assets should you choose?


Let’s make a case for the tech industry stocks and for getting started while you’re still in college.

First, a Word of Caution: Always Do Your Research

The reality of tech stocks is, not all of them are Apple, Netflix, or Facebook. Most tech companies are either startups or young companies that haven’t even turned a profit yet. Plus, even tech giants can be replaced: think about what happened to BlackBerry and Nokia.


So, unless you invest in FANGMAN (Facebook, Apple, NVIDIA, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Netflix), you’ll need to do thorough research. While investing is never risk-free, it can help you minimize the possibility of losing your hard-earned money.


Of course, due diligence takes time. In fact, it’s akin to a part-time job. So, you’ll need to reflect on your priorities and act on them. That can mean reducing your academic workload by hiring a professional paper writer from, for example. You can also work on this during boring lectures (wink-wink).

Reason #1. Tech Industry Is Booming

While practically every other industry took a nosedive during the COVID-19 pandemic, tech was the exception to the rule. The pandemic only accelerated technology adoption across the board. 


Case in point: Zoom. Its year-on-year customer growth reached a whopping 354% in the first quarter of FY2021.


What’s more, the tech companies that have the right secret sauce to corner the market are synonymous with higher-than-average growth. Think about it: Google was founded in 1998, Amazon – in 1994. And over just a bit more than two decades, they grew into multinational conglomerates with revenues of $182.5 billion and $386 billion (2020), respectively.

Reason #2. Tech Stocks Have a High ROI

Tech companies’ outstanding performance during this digital surge was reflected in the ROI of their stocks, too. Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet (Google) saw gains of around 80%, 70%, and 30% in 2020, respectively. For comparison, the average ROI in other sectors of the stock market is a-not-so-amazing 10%.


But the pandemic only sped up the existing trends. Tech stocks have always brought higher ROI to investors.


For example, NASDAQ-100 has always beat S&P 500 over the past decade by 2.5x on average. Why? The former consists mostly of tech companies, while the latter includes only a quarter of them.

Reason #3. The Earlier You Start, the Better

Why invest in tech stocks should be a no-brainer by now. But why do it while you’re still in college? Wouldn’t it be safer to wait until you graduate and get a job?


Not exactly. That is, it wouldn’t make that much difference in terms of safety. Where it does make a difference is in the potential earnings. And this is where time is of the essence because of two simple words: compound interest.


Here’s what it means in practice. Let’s say you have $1,000 to invest. Imagine that you start when you’re 18, earn 10% in returns every year (stock market average), and put the returns to work, too. By the time you’re 40, you’ll have around $8,100.


How much will you have by that time if you start at 25? Only around $4,180 – just a half of what you could’ve had.

Reason #4. You’ll Learn a Lot from Experience

Like many other skills, you can’t become a pro in investing only from reading books or watching YouTube tutorials. You need to get your hands dirty – and a lot of what you’ll learn will be by trial and error.


Apart from just investment skills, you’ll have no other choice but to build solid financial habits, like tracking expenses, in the process. They are invaluable: they’ll help you build a safety net for yourself and ensure you won’t be ruined by a surprise bill or student loan debt.

Reason #5. It Can Help You Pay Off Your Student Loans

Speaking of student loans, most websites will tell you, “get rid of all debt before investing.” But that’s easier said than done if you have a student loan. And, in reality, it’s not 100% necessary.


What you need to take care of is minimizing your interest through restructuring. Then, the returns you earn won’t be eaten away by the interest on your debts.


The neat part is that you’ll have a head start to pay off your student loans if you invest wisely while in college. That means you’ll have to pay less in interest, which brings down the whole amount you’ll have to give away.

3 Tips on Choosing the Right Stocks

What if you can’t afford to buy Amazon’s shares? Or you simply don’t want to buy fractional shares for FANGMAN companies? Then, these three tips will help you find the right tech stocks.


  • Understand the company’s product. As Warren Buffet once put it, “Never invest in a business you cannot understand.” Not following this piece of advice is what led to the dot-com bubble bursting in the early 2000s.
  • Analyze price-to-earnings or revenue growth metrics. Price-to-earnings works only for established tech giants. Think Apple and Google, for example. Revenue growth works better for innovative startups or young companies.
  • Remember: overvaluation is rampant. Every company presents their product as the new Facebook or YouTube – so, it ends up overvalued. Don’t rely solely on valuations. Instead, analyze the product, its target audience, and competitors to see if it can actually take off.


A Final Piece of Advice

Remember to start small and play it safe. Don’t try to beat the market by betting all of your money on a “one-of-a-kind game-changer.” Instead, consider low-risk investments like exchange-traded, mutual, or index funds.


Investing is a long-term commitment, and it can be boring or even discouraging at first. But if you stick with it, you’ll see your savings grow, at first steadily, and then – faster and faster as you accumulate wealth.



The Voice of Dubrovnik


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