Showing posts from October, 2009

Suze Orman's Top 10 Money Tips for Women

by CNBC Staff

When it comes to women and finance, sometimes there's a disconnect between what women know and how they act, their ability as achiever and their financial underachieving, and between the power they have within reach and the powerlessness that rules their actions.

Financial expert Suze Orman gives her list of the top 10 money tips for women to follow:

1. Listen to Your Gut

Women are compassionate toward those in need. Instead of going with their gut, they sometimes overlook the obvious and make an emotional money mistake. "A friend, relative, loved one will approach you saying, 'I need to borrow $5,000.' You'll think 'I don't want to' and yet you say 'OK,'" Suze explains. So, think twice before you say yes if your gut is saying no.

2. NEVER Co-Sign for ANYONE

If a friend or family member asks for you to co-sign on a loan, it's probably best to say no. Suze says more often than not, the borrower will default or pay late and you r…

Economy growing but recovery could be at risk

Economy grows again in 3rd quarter, but worries about staying power of the recovery persist

By Jeannine Aversa, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fueled by government stimulus, the economy grew last quarter for the first time in more than a year. The question now is, can the recovery last?

Federal support for spending on cars and homes drove the economy up 3.5 percent from July through September. But the government aid -- from tax credits for home buyers to rebates for auto purchases -- is only temporary. Consumer spending, which normally drives recoveries, is likely to weaken without it.

If shoppers retrench in the face of rising joblessness and tight credit, the fragile recovery could tip back into recession.

For the Obama administration, the positive report on economic growth is a delicate one: It wants to take credit for ending the recession. On the other hand, it needs to acknowledge that rising joblessness continues to cause pain throughout the country.

Millions of Americans hav…

Bear Markets Do Wonders for Retirement

by Joe Mont

The six-month bear market that wiped out nearly half of Americans' retirement savings threatens to scare away the class of investor who has the most to gain from it: young people.

Mutual fund manager T. Rowe Price says in a study that those who began to systematically invest in equities in severe bear markets were "significantly better off 30 years later than investors who began in bull markets."

The analysis charted four hypothetical investors who each contributed $500 a month (15 percent of a $40,000 annual salary) toward a retirement account that replicated the S&P 500 Index over three decades. The starting date marked a severe stock-market downturn: 1929, 1950, 1970 and 1979.

The four investors were initially hard-hit. The S&P 500, for example, had an annualized return of minus 0.9 percent from 1929 to 1938, the second-worst 10-year period in history. The benchmark index grew a mere 5.9 percent in the recessionary era of the 1970s.

But for all four inv…

Legalize It: Insider Trading Is a Victimless Crime, Says James Altucher

If James Altucher had his way, it would still be business as usual at Galleon Group. Instead, the hedge fund is embroiled in one of the largest insider trading scandals in history; the company's head, billionaire Raj Rajaratnam, has posted $100 million bail and the firm is essentially ruined.

So why does Altucher, managing director at Formula Capital, think the Feds should lay off Rajaratnam? Simply put, he thinks insider trading should be legal.

Altucher says it's a matter of pragmatism, suggesting insider trading is:

1. A victimless crime
2. Almost impossible to prosecute
3. A big waste of taxpayer money

If insider trading were legal, Altucher says, the SEC would spend their money on tracking down fraud and uncovering "the next Madoff or Enron."

He also believes there's an actual market benefit to insider trading. "If insiders, the ones with privileged information, are throwing that information into the stock price everyone benefits with a more accurate…

3 signs of the next real estate collapse

The latest bubble is about to burst, but this time it's in the commercial market. Here's how to see it coming.

By Katie Benner, writer-reporter

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- When the FDIC closed Chicago's Corus Bank last month, it may have signaled the beginning of the next shock to the banking system: commercial real estate defaults.

Corus, whose balance sheet was larded with bad construction loans, is just one of many banks that have a slew of this debt on their books. Refinancing the $2 trillion in commercial mortgages will be tough, as property values decline. And in this new age of cautious lending, few banks are willing to refinance loans.

"There is a lack of new debt," says Michael Haas, a real estate attorney at Jones Day. "There is a hesitancy to extend credit when there is a real possibility that the real estate may be worth less than it was a few years ago."

Now, in a situation eerily similar to the subprime crisis, the result is likely to be a wave of f…

Worries rise about dollar slide -- but what to do?

Dollar slide raises worries worldwide -- but government action likely to be only words for now

By Pan Pylas, AP Business Writer

LONDON (AP) -- Concerns worldwide about the dollar's slide have escalated to the point where currency traders are beginning to wonder when governments might try to do something about it.

For now, any attempt to put a floor under the dollar's exchange rate is expected to remain rhetorical, with actual market interventions by central banks unlikely -- especially if China won't change its currency policy.

But with the dollar sagging against the euro, the yen and a host of other peers, policymakers around the world are voicing worries a weak dollar will dampen their still-shaky economic recoveries. A falling dollar hits exporting countries because they find it more difficult to sell their products to the U.S.

A weak dollar also raises the cost of commodities such as oil, which are priced in the U.S. currency.

So far, currency traders have largely ignored e…

Retire With S$1 Million – even if you haven’t started to save

By Stephanie Thng, Funds Supermart

Start saving early and it could make a world of difference to your retirement plans. Time is your best friend as you will find in this story. Here, we assume five individuals at different stages of their life, from those earning at entry-level, to those close to retirement age. All aim to achieve a monthly income of S$2,500 during their retirement years from age 62 to 82. We also taken into account that the inflation rate stands at 3% per annum, meaning that the general cost of goods and services rises by that amount each year.

Further, we assume that whatever the investors save during their pre-retirement days will earn 8% annually. After they hit the age of 62, we assume that the return on their savings drops to 4% per annum as they take less risk in their investments. This simple illustration does not take into account your other financial needs, such as whether you have planned for your insurance needs (life or term insurance, mortgage insurance, …

Turning a lifetime of savings into income

The way you withdraw from your portfolio will determine how much income you will have in retirement. Here are a few options.

By Walter Updegrave, Money Magazine senior editor

NEW YORK (Money) -- Question: The 4% rule seems to have become the conventional wisdom for drawing money from your savings in retirement. But I believe the rule is flawed. I think it might make more sense to choose a percentage of your savings that you will withdraw annually and then just apply that percentage to your savings balance at the beginning of each year so you would have more money to spend in years when investment returns are good and less to spend in years when returns are bad. What do you think? --E. W., East Lansing, Michigan

Answer: No method for turning your savings into spendable income in retirement is going to be perfect. Any withdrawal system you come up with is going to have pros and cons.

So rather than thinking of one system as better than another, I believe it's important to understand th…

How Uncle Sam is killing your savings

Ultralow rates are hurting the nation's prudent savers as they bear the brunt of Wall Street.

By Allan Sloan, senior editor at large

(Fortune Magazine) -- This is a quiz. What do the record-high Wall Street bonuses have in common with the record-low yields for savers?

Answer: They show yet another way that prudent people, especially those living on fixed incomes, are being screwed by the government's bailout of the imprudent.

Here's the deal. The government is spending trillions to keep interest rates down in order to support the economy and prop up housing prices, and those low rates have inflicted collateral damage on savers' incomes.

"It's a direct wealth transfer from savers and retirees to overly indebted borrowers," says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at

Since October 2007, when government intervention in the financial system began picking up speed, yields on the ultrasafe one-year and five-year investments that many retirees favor…

Oil at $80: That's good news and bad news.

By Paul R. La Monica, editor at large

Oil prices are back around $80 a barrel for the first time in nearly a year. But is that good news or bad news for the economy? Let the debate begin.

Of course, the knee-jerk reaction is to declare that rising oil prices must be a bad sign. After all, increased energy prices could be considered the equivalent of a big fat tax increase for an already cash-strapped consumer.

Even though people don't have to pony up four Andrew Jacksons to buy an actual barrel of oil, rising crude prices obviously hurt consumers at the pump.

And in just the past week the nationwide average price of a gallon of gasoline increased by 10 cents, or about 4%, to $2.58, according to motorist group AAA.

On the other hand, oil prices were hovering around a low of near $30 a barrel back in February. And at that time, the average price of gas was below $2 a gallon. But how good did you feel about the economy back then?

Fears about a massive wave of big bank failure…

Allow Me to Introduce: The Biggest Sucker Rally Since The Great Depression

By Simon Maierhofer

It's been said (and perhaps you are getting tired of hearing it) that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. If the parallels of the Great Depression continue to hold up as they have (and according to historical indicators they will), history doesn't have to repeat itself to severely hurt investors. A mere rhyme to the Great Depression would be enough to wipe out tons of portfolios.

But who cares about history when the market is up and the forecasts call for better days ahead. The Dow Jones (DJI: ^DJI) and S&P 500 (SNP: ^GSPC) have rallied over 55% while the Nasdaq (Nasdaq: ^IXIC) has soared nearly 70%. Wall Street is anxiously expecting another earnings season, which is expected to be predominantly good.

Reuters reports that 'earnings optimism lift Wall Street' while Credit Suisse encourages their clients to buy bullish Alcoa options in advance of Alcoa's profit reports.

If there is one thing we should have learned fro…

Do High Commodity Prices Signal Economic Recovery?

By Ron DeLegge, Editor

SAN DIEGO ( - Don't look now, but many key commodities have hit their yearly highs. Crude oil prices for November delivery on the New York Mercantile exchange crossed $75 per barrel and gold has stayed firmly above $1,000 per ounce.

Commodity permabulls like Jim Rogers see nothing but blue skies ahead.

Rogers, in his usual alarmist tone, told Yahoo's Tech Ticker he's 'quite sure' gold will hit $2,000 an ounce. Never mind that buying gold during the last recent gold rush resulted in a big fat goose egg. People that were unfortunate to try that experiment bought gold at $850 per ounce in 1980 and didn't see levels close to that again until 2008. That's 28 years of futility! But this time, according to the commodity bulls, things are different.

Why are commodity prices rising and is it the signal of an impending economic recovery?

It's the Dollar Stupid

The swift fall in the U.S. dollar has created an opposite effect on co…

Selling your gold? Don't get taken

As gold prices hit record highs, consumers are rushing to trade their bling for some serious cash. But experts warn that you shouldn't jump at the first cash-for-your-gold ad you see on TV.

By Parija B. Kavilanz, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- With the price of gold as high as it's ever been, more people are rummaging through their dresser drawers, safe-deposit boxes and anywhere else they can to trade their forgotten bling for a thick wad of cash.

But proceed with extreme caution -- especially if you find yourself lured by a late-night infomercial promising fast and easy cash for simply mailing your jewels in a pre-paid plastic envelope.

"Ask yourself, would you send cash to Con Edison (the electric company) in the mail?" said Michael Gusky, a 30-year gold jewelry industry veteran and founder of scrap gold dealer

Gusky's pretty sure that people are getting ripped off by a slew of fly-by-night gold buyers who've smelled oppor…

"This Is a Sucker's Rally," Strategist Tice Says

David Tice, chief portfolio strategist of Prudent Bear Funds, has one message for you: Don't believe the bullish hype. "This is a sucker's rally. The economy is really not getting that much better," he says.

Tice notes 2008 was a dismal year for Americans on three key fronts (or leg's of a stool):

* Their paycheck.
* Value of their home.
* Investment portfolio.

"We see this as being a long-going economic malaise, where all three of those legs are going to continue to be hurt," Tice Says. Given the long-term down trend, Tice argues investors should be focused on liquidity and having some portion of their portfolio holdings in negatively correlated assets. In other words, when one set of assets moves down in value, another will gain.

Persistent bear Tice adds investors shouldn't swallow biased messages from Wall Street or the media to dive into the market whole hog. Now, Tice says, is the time for wealth preservation.

Cramer's Advice: Don't Give Up

By Jim Cramer, RealMoney Columnist

Jim Cramer's newest book, Getting Back to Even, is out in bookstores today. We're publishing this excerpt as a sneak preview for TheStreet readers.

So why should you believe that investing in stocks, which got us into the mess we're in, can also get us out of it? Why not just cut your losses and stick your money in a traditional savings account where you won't have to worry about it? First of all, because you'll never get back to even that way, and second, because there is a world of difference between owning stocks, which has caused so much wealth to disappear, and trying to make money in stocks, an approach that at the very least lets you sidestep some of the pain. You can get back to even if you follow the latter course.

Most peddlers of financial advice, even after the wealth-shattering crash of 2008, preach the virtues of owning stocks just for the sake of owning them. They will still tell you to buy and hold, an investing shib…

Don't Let a Market Crash Hit You at the Finish Line

by Jason Zweig

Can you make the risk of stocks go away just by owning them long enough? Many investors still think so.

"Over any 20-year period in history, in any market, an equity portfolio has outperformed a fixed-income portfolio," one reader recently emailed me. "Warren Buffett believes in this rule as well," he added, referring to Mr. Buffett's bullish selling of long-term put options on the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index in recent years. (Selling those puts will be profitable if U.S. stocks go up over the next decade or so.)

As the philosopher Bertrand Russell warned, you shouldn't mistake wishes for facts.

Bonds have beaten stocks for as long as two decades -- in the 20 years that ended this June 30, for example, as well as 1989 through 2008.

Nor does Mr. Buffett believe stocks are sure to beat all other investments over the next 20 years.

"I certainly don't mean to say that," Mr. Buffett told me this week. "I would say that i…

Don't Believe The Double-Dip Story

Javier Espinoza

BofA-ML is forecasting growth for 2010 and 2011.

LONDON -- The global economy is likely to relapse into a recession, right? At least that's what respected voices are saying. Last week, a survey conducted by the Association for Financial Professionals in the U.S. found that finance executives were still wary of the possibility of a double-dip recession. And on Tuesday both a senior executive of investment bank Morgan Stanley ( MS - news - people ) and British Chambers of Commerce chief economic advisor, David Kern, talked about the risks of the global economy relapsing into a recession.

But on Tuesday, Bank of America - Merrill Lynch ( BAC - news - people ) challenged that view. The bank told clients that it did not believe in a double-dip and expected 2010 and 2011 to be "good years" for growth in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

"Yes, long-term potential growth will be lower after the crisis—but this will not prevent a rebound from unusu…

Retired early ... and getting scared

When early retirement isn't working out, these fixes might help you get back on track.

By Walter Updegrave, Money Magazine senior editor

NEW YORK (Money) -- Question: I had the good fortune to be able to retire early at age 52, but last year's market meltdown has made me rethink the decision. I may still be okay, but I don't have the same level of certainty I once had. My question is this: How will Social Security be calculated for me and how does the fact that I haven't worked the last few years fit into the calculation? --Jack Ford, West Newbury, Mass.

Answer: Before I answer your question about how your Social Security benefits are calculated, I want to address the uncertainty you're feeling about whether you can afford to stay retired.

You're not alone. Given the beating retirement savings accounts have taken over the past year, many retirees are wondering whether they will need to "unretire" to one degree or another to avoid having to ratchet back th…

Fewer S'pore millionaires

By Esther Teo

MEMBERSHIP of Singapore's millionaires' club has taken a hit in the face of the global economic downturn. The number of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) here - those who hold at least US$1 million in investible assets - shrank by 21.6 per cent to 61,000 last year, up from 78,000 in 2007, according to the Asia-Pacific Wealth Report released by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini on Tuesday.

Japan comes out top of the survey with 1.36 million HNWIs, well ahead of Singapore at sixth place and Hong Kong and Indonesia at ninth and tenth place respectively.

The combined wealth of Singapore's millionaires shrank 29.4 per cent to US$272 billion during the year - the third-largest erosion of wealth in the region after Hong Kong and Australia.

The reasons cited for the decline are the slowing of Singapore's GDP growth and the plunge of the stock market, which fell 50.8 per cent last year.

Asia-Pacific's total population of high net worth individuals, three-quarters of who…

The 4-Letter Word that Brought Down Wall Street

By Dayana Yochim Dayana Yochim

Do you know the No. 1 rule of finance? Of course you do: Don't spend what you don't have.

That silly little rule is one that the Wall Street suits thought fit to ignore. Given how that strategy played out, I think it's pretty safe to state with certainty that borrowing money to buy stuff you can't afford doesn't always work out so well.

Or, even more simply: Too much leverage is bad.

Leverage is actually a four-letter word: d-e-b-t
Most of us have a wallet full of leverage opportunities -- credit cards. Still, while leverage might be the American way, it should not be yours.

I never get tired of this magic trick, in which I turn less than $20 a week into more than $12,000 in debilitating debt. (Apologies if you've heard this spiel before.)

Consider the difference between setting aside $75 a month versus coming up $75 short and patching over the difference with a credit card. Over five years, that monthly $75 in savings amounts to $4,500 …