Corrections or additions?
These articles were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on September 22,
1999. All rights reserved.
Princeton Economics International
Martin Armstrong, the Carnegie Center-based economic
forecaster who turned himself in earlier this month on charges of
federal securities fraud, kept a low profile before his arrest, and
— not surprisingly — has kept a low profile since. But the
lawyer representing Armstrong against the charge that he covered up
trading losses of as much as $950 million in Japanese corporate
by using money from later investors to pay off early ones, had said
that Armstrong would fight the charges. This week the first counter
A sister company to Armstrong’s Princeton Economics International,
which shares space in Suite 303 of 214 Carnegie Center, issued a press
release this Monday, September 20, in which it vowed to continue its
operation and in which it suggested reasons why the Japanese
and investment community would be unhappy with Armstrong and would
be out to frame him.
The related company, Princeton Economic Institute, says it is
of Armstrong’s Princeton Economics International and another Armstrong
entity, Princeton Global Management, though it does say that Armstrong
is an analyst for Princeton Economic Institute. In its September 20
statement the Princeton Economic Institute defended Armstrong as
outspoken opponent against government manipulations, interventions,
and `the billionaires’ club’."
"His director warnings about the political corruption in Japan
and the billions of dollars in hidden losses within its financial
system . .. . have put him in the direct line of fire by the Japanese
government as the man they most wish to discredit. No doubt his highly
critical stand against the accounting systems used by all governments
that falsely distort CPI, GDP, trade statistics, poverty statistics,
and taxation have not made him very popular in some circles. His
warnings about the failure of the Euro have also created a few
Mr. Armstrong has always been aware that his research has made him
a target over the years, nevertheless he has always stood his
The Princeton Economic Institute website,
claims that the firm and Armstrong have a strong presence in Japan.
It reports that seminars offered by the Japan office "are the
most widely attended in the financial community. PEI’s clients now
include virtually 100 percent of the top 100 corporations and
in the nation. This is why the Japanese media refer to PEI as one
of the `most influential’ advisors in Japan. Our Tokyo office provides
forecasting on domestic as well as overseas markets in Japanese every
day via fax, Reuters and Bloomberg."
The website notes a July, 1998, article in the New York Times quoting
Armstrong as an authority on the Japanese economy: "Why people
would be even remotely in this environment is beyond me. Long-term,
I am very optimistic that Japan will come back and be the real
of Asia. But until things get worse, politicians there are not really
going to budge on fundamental reform."
The September 20 statement alluded to Armstrong’s economic forecasting
model and said that groups as diverse as the CIA and the Chinese
had sought information on how it worked, but that Armstrong
offering advisory services while insisting that the model remain
Armstrong’s attorney, Mark Durand of the Philadelphia-based Durand
and Durand, has stated that Armstrong "is being made a `scapegoat’
but the media prefers to print the propaganda handed directly to them
by his opponents," continued the press statement.
One of the more intriguing aspects of the case is the background of
Armstrong, a 49-year-old Maple Shade resident. Various published
have described his youthful passion for stamp and coin collecting
that supposedly led him to become a millionaire at the age of 15.
He later owned an art gallery and coin and stamp shop in Robbinsville
that was subsequently moved to Quaker Bridge Mall. The coin trading
apparently led to gold and silver investments and those led to the
sophisticated investments being managed at the time of his arrest.
None of the published reports mention any formal training in economics
or financial planning, or any college education at all. The press
release, while not commenting directly on any of the reports about
Armstrong’s unusual career path, suggested that Armstrong had no
for his self-education.
"At no time has Mr. Armstrong ever misrepresented his
said the statement, citing an interview with a Bloomberg reporter
two years ago. "After all," the statement continued,
Ricardo, and even Adam Smith became important contributors to
without any formal degree in the subject, relying instead upon
experience and observation."
Financial journalists and investigative reporters on at least two
continents, one can guess, will soon bring their own experience and
observation to the case of Armstrong, who was released on $5 million
bail. If convicted, the authorities noted, he could serve up to 10
years in prison and be fined twice the value of the alleged losses.
A four-year-old scandal involving a former Carnegie
Center-based firm, Sigma Inc. and its founder, Chuck Kohli, resurfaced
in the news just this week. A U.S. District Court judge dismissed
a racketeering lawsuit filed against Sigma’s attorneys, Stark & Stark
of Lenox Drive.
Nearly 200 investors who were burned in the Sigma scam are represented
by Hill Wallack of 202 Carnegie Center, which has filed separate civil
suits in county court. Those suits are still pending. The investors
charge that Stark & Stark attorneys became actively involved in the
management of Sigma while advising Kohli on a number of matters.
Going to a smaller space doesn’t necessarily mean a
company is not doing well. It might just signal a redirection. That’s
what Gary Richman is doing for Ficomp Systems, which develops speech
recognition software and integrates it with network systems. He is
taking his product from the trading floor to the warehouse.
A couple of years ago, Ficomp’s hot product was speech recognition
for the Wall Street market. Traders wouldn’t have to type things into
the computer; they merely needed to talk to their computer. The system
worked fine — until it got to the trading floor. It turns out
that traders work in an environment that is noisier than an
birthday party at McDonald’s. And it is much more tense.
"We make the assumption, and so far it is a valid one, that more
people know how to talk than know how to type," says Richman.
"But we spent too much money trying to develop the trading floor
product. To make better use of the funds we have, we eliminated the
folks that were doing the testing. Now the developers do the testing
The firm moved from 15,000 square feet at Docks Corner Road to 5,000
feet at Cedar Brook Corporate Center and dropped from 26 employees
Richman studied electrical engineering at Brooklyn Polytechnic
Class of 1965, and worked in engineering design and communications
before moving to sales and marketing. He owns the 22-year-old
but both his brother and sister work there. He and his wife of 31
years, Paula, have three grown children.
"A whole bunch of people out there are providing canned voice
recognition products, but we do voice recognition for a large
application," says Richman. "The actual product continues
to grow but the voice recognition part hasn’t grown as fast as we
thought," says Richman. "The challenge of the financial
is that it is very noisy and very chaotic. We continue to deliver
the product there, and we installed a system at Swiss American
"But now we are talking with a book retailer about doing warehouse
`picking’ and to a fast food chain about replacing the touch screens
the employees use. We think it will be a lot easier to say `Two big
Macs and a small fry’ than to punch the buttons."
Hiring and training warehouse workers is often a major headache, and
sometimes the turnover is only three months. Some of the workers may
not be good readers, and they may not be native English speakers,
so they might have difficulty following written instructions. With
the Voice Horizon System, instead of getting a computer printout,
they wear a headset, and the computer translates text to voice, saying
"Go to aisle 10, bin 12, and pick five of this book." Their
voice reply is translated, he says, to text.
Richman believes his competitors are working with voice recognition
only for telephone applications, not for the warehouse floor, the
trading floor, or the burger counter. Foreign language accents are
no problem, he says. And the program can even translate the entire
sequence from English to Spanish and back to English again.
It sounds plausible. But what happens when the Big Mac customer
her mind? The worker simply says, "Change quantity. Change
Richman admits to one instance for which the Voice Horizon System
technology won’t work. It won’t work for those who mumble. You have
to be able to talk.
— Barbara Fox
2, Cranbury 08516. Gary Richman, president. 609-655-5500; fax,
Home page: http://www.ficompsystems.com.
David W. Schafer read about the Entrepreneurial Training
Institute (ETI) in U.S. 1 in March of this year, took the course,
did his business plan, and had his business funded to the tune of
$21,000 by the Trenton Business Assistance Corporation. Then he quit
his day job to launch a home-based business on Clover Lane, a website
where golfers can keep track of their handicaps.
Schafer’s story holds interest for would-be entrepreneurs, who can
follow in his footsteps to get funding, and for golfers, who can
their handicaps on his website http://www.sparkygolf.com
First the story of Schafer, the graduate of ETI, which is sponsored
by the New Jersey Development Authority (NJDA) for Small Businesses,
Minorities, and Women’s Enterprises. The seven-week course has been
attended by more than 350 people and is given in 10 locations around
the state, and though most sessions have begun, latecomers can still
register by attending the session on Thursday, September 23, at Human
Resource Development Institute, 200 Woolverton Avenue, Trenton, at
6 p.m. Or on Wednesday, September 22, at 6 p.m. at the Burlington
County High-Tech Incubator on Route 38 in Mt. Laurel. Cost: $225
a textbook, "Business Planning Guide" by David H. Bangs Jr.
Scholarships are available through the Mercer Business Association
Call 609-292-1890 or E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for information on
the NJDA or ETI. For information on TBAC
All EDI students develop a business plan, and these plans are
to a "panel review" by lawyers, bankers, and accountants.
They are prime candidates to qualify for $20,000 to $100,000 loans
from the TBAC or NJDA. TBAC has a MicroLoan program that is funded
by the Small Business Administration. The NJDA’s fund is derived from
The other two alumni who received funds, Schafer notes, were a retired
woman who was starting a retired persons catalog business, and a young
woman who wanted to expand her plumbing business. "What made me
less typical than others in the course was that I came from a business
background, so maybe my business plan had a little more polish to
it," says Schafer.
Schafer majored in finance and business operations at Drexel, Class
of 1986, and was doing IT consulting for other businesses. He also
had a family owned business, Dakon Industries Inc., which involved
restoring antique auto parts. "With our funding from the EDA,
I have given up the other businesses and am doing this full time,"
says Schafer. His wife, the associate director of a teachers’ pension
plan in New York, is the wage earner until the website gets going.
The TBAC will go for equipment, marketing, and working capital.
Now the golf story: This whimsically designed golf portal, using a
funky dog logo, sells products, offers links, has tips, games, and
of course those golfing jokes, but its most important product is the
database that keeps and calculates handicaps.
"On our site you type in the slope and rating of the course, and
your scores, and it spits out the handicap," says Shafer. His
formula differs from the USGA’s but produces approximately the same
results. "We say it is not a USGA handicap, but a big business
issue is whether the USGA will object." His marketing until now
is to list with search engines but he is starting a banner ad
His income will come from banner advertising, charges for links in
his own search engine, the online store, and minor charges for
or golf leagues to get their handicaps as a group. Individuals can
enroll at the website for free.
"It seems like a good system," says Bob Cioppa, who
the golf tournament for a software firm, Cylogix, on Washington Road.
He points out that clubs will track handicaps for their members, but
some do it only for their own course. "Handicaps are a reasonably
sophisticated formula. The majority of golfers don’t belong to a
golf club, and a system like this would be very helpful for them."
— Barbara Fox
David W. Schafer, owner. 609-731-7137.
206, Lawrenceville 08648. Robert Kelly, president. 609-219-0959;
fax, 609-219-0459. Home page: http://www.infiniteds.com.
The firm moved from 1009 Lenox Drive to a larger office at 993 Lenox
Drive. Phone and fax remain the same.
2A, Hopewell 08525. Kent and Tom Kilbourne. 609-466-7720.
The 25-year-old father-son mail order business has moved from 909
State Road to Hopewell.
Commons Way, Princeton 08540. Jane Rodney, director. 609-497-2126;
The Center has expanded into space at 916 Montgomery Commons, adding
two offices for Hispanic and African-American outreach coordinators.
Blau Kaptain Associates at 12 Roszel Road, he was most recently a
pharmaceutical recruiter for the Cassie Group in Toms River.
12. He was formerly hockey and golf coach for Princeton University
and a defenseman for the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins. A
service will be Sunday, October 3, at 2 p.m. at the Lawrenceville
for Total Research, he was a self employed statistical consultant.
Merrill Lynch in Plainsboro as a security guard for D.B. Kelly
of marketing at Rider University and chairman of the board of
of Lower Makefield Township, Pennsylvania.
manager of the Princeton Indoor Tennis Center.
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