Showing posts from December, 2007

'Tis the Season for Scams

By Catherine Holahan

Ah, the holidays -- that most wonderful time of year when the Web is aflutter with e-mailed season's greetings, online shopping offers and cyber criminals. The scams run the gamut, from fraudulent e-mails purporting to be alerts about online transactions to scam gift offers. "There is always an effort by the criminal underground to separate victims from their money this time of year," says Paul Ferguson, an advanced threat researcher with Trend Micro, a security software provider.

Cybercriminals know it's easier to get people to fall for scams related to online shopping when they have shopping on the brain. It also doesn't hurt that the legitimate act of online shopping often involves visits to comparison-shopping sites and strange discount sites. So it's little surprise that some of those destinations turn out to be fake. "People are particularly vulnerable this time of year because they are looking for bargains," says Bill Loesc…

Six Moves for a Prosperous New Year

by Kimberly Lankford
Thursday, December 27, 2007provided by

What should I be doing now to get my finances on track for 2008?Now is the perfect time to get your financial house in order. You may be flush with cash from holiday gifts and a raise or bonus at work. Or you may be dreading the credit-card bill that arrives in a few weeks, reminding you how much you spent for the holidays. Either way, a few key steps can help you pocket more cash in 2008. Here's what you can do now so you can spend a lot less time worrying about your finances throughout the year:1. Take advantage of higher IRA limits
You'll be able to save an extra $1,000 in your IRA in 2008, when the contribution limits rise to $5,000 (you can contribute $6,000 for the year if you're 50 or older in 2008). Make it easy by signing up to have your contributions deducted from your bank account every month -- $416 per month will get you to the $5,000 maximum by the end of the year.Have some extra cash now? You sti…

Thirty-Five Minutes to Riches

Find out your credit scoreTime it takes: 7 minutesKnow how lenders see you. Take seven minutes to download a Raise your credit score Time it takes: 8 minutesIt takes time to recover from major credit lapses, but you can do two things fast that will improve your credit score. Both will lower the size of your outstanding debt as a percentage of your total borrowing power.1. Pay down a balance. 2. Call your issuer and ask for a higher credit limit. And don't spend it.Triple the return on savings Time it takes: 10 minutesDo you have cash going nowhere in a checking or savings account? Bank money-market accounts typically pay less than 1%. You can open a savings account with HSBC Direct that recently paid 5.05%. No minimum balance is required.With your driver's license and Social Security number handy, visit and click on Sign Me Up. You'll be walked through screens to enter personal information. Want to fund your account immediately? Have a check with your bank a…

Recession-Proof Your Portfolio

by Annie Sorich

There's lots of talk of a recession these days, making many investors nervous. What exactly is a recession? The technical definition is two quarters (six months) of negative gross domestic product growth. (GDP is the total market value of the new goods and services produced during a specified time span.) More simply, a recession describes a shrinking economy rather than a growing one.Although a downturn in market performance isn't necessarily a recession, the two can go hand in hand, as the last two recessions in 1990 and 2001 suggest. Currently there's not a consensus on whether the U.S. is in a recession, heading for a recession, or simply slowing down a bit, but it never hurts to be ready. Below are a few important steps to take when the economy turns sour.Buy, Don't SellWe all know the old adage "Buy low, sell high." Yet that's the opposite of what some people do when the economic climate looks gloomy. The start of a recession …

Bursting the Economic-Fear Bubble

by Ben Stein
"It's all relative." You've probably heard this before, and it's true of everything except right and wrong.But it's especially true of economics, and it's doubly true of all the recent scare-talk about the economy.Simply put, the media and the short-sellers on Wall Street are trying to scare us into having a recession. Since the nice people who read this have some interest in facts and figures, here are a few reasons why things aren't so bad.Heavy LaborFirst, the housing correction.Now, it's true that we're having a very large housing correction. It may be the sharpest fall-off in housing starts as a percentage of the prior peak that there's ever been in the postwar era.But housing is only about 5 percent of the economy at most. If it falls by half or a third, that's a big drop. In an economy like ours, though, where there was a severe labor shortage before the housing correction, the labor shortfall can be readily absorbed…

Understanding Bear Markets

What is a bear market and what causes it? By definition, a bear market is when the stock market falls for a prolonged period of time, usually by twenty percent or more. It is the opposite of a bull market. This sharp decline in stock prices is normally due to a decrease in corporate profits, or a correction of overvaluation (i.e., stocks were too expensive and fell to more reasonable levels). Investors who are scared by these lower earnings or lofty valuations sell their stock, causing the price to drop. This causes other investors to worry about losing the money they've invested, so they sell as well; the vicious cycle begins. One of the best examples of a prolonged bear market is that of 1980's when stocks went sideways for well over a decade. Experiences such as these are generally what scare would-be investors away from investing. Ironically, this keeps the bear market alive; because no few buyers are purchasing investments, the selling continues. How does a bear market af…

My Passive Income Generation Links (See above)

Hello all,

Hope everyone have enjoyed the finance articles on my blog so far. And hope they have provided you some guidance in this volatile market.

Just hope to bring everyone's attention away from the financial market for a while, back to the internet.

I am currently 70% cash and 30% vested in equities. The 70% cash is my opportunity fund to scoop up cheap and good investments in the near future....guess everyone should know that it is not a question of "if" the downturn will come, but when. I believe it should begin within 2 to 3 years from now.

I am grateful that currently, with my 70% cash not earning returns and my 30% equities (holding for long term) sitting with some paper losses, my internet means of generating passive income is still working hard. Oh yes, for these, the returns are almost infinite! Because they generate returns for me at very low or no cost at all!

Even when the financial markets are not doing well, millions of people all over the world are sti…

Feeling the Crunch

by Ben Stein
If I were to choose a cartoon to represent the financial events of 2007, it would be the familiar one of Lucy promising Charlie Brown that this time, definitely this time, despite all the lies in the past, she would hold the football firmly in place while he practiced placekicking. Then, of course, she snatches it away and he goes flying onto his backside.In the case of 2007 and investors, Lucy is, as always, Wall Street. The football is collateralized mortgage obligations, and the placekicking dupe is you and me. But the smart observer is the guy or gal or who knows this crisis won't go on forever, and the time to buy stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs is when everyone is worried -- not when they're chirrupy and happy.What Went WrongLet's start at the beginning.It's not even six years after the catastrophe of the high-tech fraud and stock collapse, and, after endless professions that Wall Street would stick to the highest levels of probity and honesty, it'…

New Year's Career Resolutions You Should Make

by Tara Weiss

It's resolution time again. Instead of making the same old difficult-to-stick-to promises, like losing weight or quitting smoking, use the New Year to take stock of your career.Addressing career concerns might make you more fulfilled on a daily basis. If you make the resolutions wisely by setting small, achievable goals, you're likely to feel particularly rewarded.The first step: Consider what your career goals are and examine whether you're on track to meet them. "Are you happy with your job and your career," asks Wendy Enelow, a career consultant in Virginia who has written several books on résumés. "I'm not saying 'Are you making money?' But are you happy? Do you enjoy going to work on Monday mornings?" The time to ask this question is the last week in December or the third week of January -- because nobody wants to go back to work after the holiday break.If the answer is yes, that's great. But you should still be …

7 reasons to be bullish now

Last week's rally was only the start of a move up. Here's how leading money managers suggest you can take advantage of the market's bounce back.
By Michael Brush

Last week's impressive rebound in stocks was more than just a head fake. I see seven reasons why the reversal was the start of a bullish move in stocks.

A safe way to play this turnaround is to get broad market exposure, using mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. For more oomph, build positions in companies that have the right characteristics for the slower economic growth ahead. To find those stocks, I picked the brains of several managers who have excellent records at diversified domestic-stock mutual funds.

Before we go there, here's why I see better times ahead for stocks:

Reason No. 1: The smart money is positioned for gains.

There are many ways to read the minds of the smart money on Wall Street. Jason Goepfert, who runs a great Web site called that offers a cornucopia of investor-se…

2008: World Economic Growth Slowing

By Viorel Urma, AP Business Writer
2008: Global Economy to Grow at a Slower Pace, Beset by Credit Crisis and High Oil Prices NEW YORK (AP) -- The world economy, buffeted by the credit crisis gripping financial markets, is expected to keep expanding in 2008 -- albeit at a slower pace -- with little fear of recession. But unlike past economic upswings driven by the U.S., Japan and Western Europe, the main engines of growth this time are predicted to be China, India and other emerging economies.

In its latest World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund projected that global economy would grow by 5.2 percent this year and moderate to 4.8 percent in 2008, compared with last year's 5.4 percent growth. The 2008 forecast was downgraded by nearly one-half percentage point from the summer outlook, reflecting the turbulent conditions in financial markets."Risks to the outlook, however, are firmly on the downside, centered around the concern that financial market strains could …