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Personal Finance News 02/2011



The Answer to Your IPO Dreams? (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Everyone wants to get a head start on buying into tomorrow's hottest stocks. But before you assume that you're really going to get the inside track on a hot IPO, you need to check the details. You might be disappointed to discover that you don't get any better treatment than anyone else who bought shares on the open market.

Money Challenges Workers Face After 50 (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - By the time you reach age 50, you have already faced many money challenges including paying off your student loans, buying a home, merging finances with a spouse, and caring for children. But many 50-somethings think the biggest financial challenge of their life is still ahead of them: retirement.

Whirlpool 4Q profit rises on lower costs, taxes (AP)
AP - Whirlpool Corp.'s fourth-quarter earnings rose 80 percent mostly on lower costs and an income tax benefit, but the world's biggest appliance maker said it is raising prices to help deal with higher raw material costs.

7 Signs of a Student Aid Scam (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Every year, consumers lose more than $100 million to student financial aid scams, according to Finaid.org. It's not a stretch to see why. Finding money for college is rife with complexity and confusion:

7 Signs of a Student Aid Scam (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Every year, consumers lose more than $100 million to student financial aid scams, according to Finaid.org. It's not a stretch to see why. Finding money for college is rife with complexity and confusion:

How the Surplus Became a Deficit (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Exactly 10 years ago, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a report projecting that, in 2010, the federal government would run a $796 billion surplus. In reality, 2010 produced a $1.3 trillion deficit.

How to Prioritize Retirement Savings (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - Saving enough money for retirement is one of the biggest challenges baby boomers and later generations are facing. Even with the rising cost-of-living, many individuals earn enough money to fund their retirement. However, many people don't save because they have misplaced priorities. For example, they may be spending more than they can afford to, or they may be saving for the wrong purpose. Here is how to fit retirement savings into your current budget.

Facts, Figures About Federal Income Tax and the 16th Amendment (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - On Feb. 3, 1913, Congress ratified the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, allowing the government to tax individual incomes. Delaware, Wyoming and New Mexico were the last three states to approve the amendment.

Rate on 30-year fixed mortgage rises to 4.81 pct. (AP)
AP - The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage edged up this week as bond yields increased.

The 9 S's of Retirement Success (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - A successful retirement requires action. But many people start saving so late in their career that they effectively eliminate their chances of a comfortable retirement. Here are nine S's to follow that will help you achieve your retirement goals.

Your Guide to the New Tax Credits (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - Like it or not, it's that time of year again, when the IRS comes looking for its piece of the pie. But for all you small business owners, listen up. Your 2010 tax refund could be a lot bigger this year.

5 Reasons Women are Unprepared for Retirement (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - Women typically have a longer life expectancy than men, which is more years of retirement that will need to be financed. But women are actually saving less for retirement than men. Here are five ways women are unprepared for retirement.

A look at mortgage rates in the last 52 weeks (AP)
AP - A look at mortgage rates in the last 52 weeks

3 Mergers That Just Make Sense (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - As outsiders, we never really know when mergers and acquisitions will take place. Betting on a takeover can often lead to financial ruin. But that doesn't mean we can't talk about some takeovers that would make a lot of sense, even if they never happen. Here are three buyouts I think should happen sooner rather than later.

The Real Estate Lobby Is Ready to Rumble (BusinessWeek)
BusinessWeek - Barbara J. Thompson plans to put a human face on the high-stakes debate over whether to preserve cherished U.S. government subsidies for home loans. Hundreds of faces, in fact. Next month, she'll lead a legion of "everyday people" to Capitol Hill to affirm the virtues of homeownership and urge Congress not to abandon federal support for low-cost mortgages. ...

Grab a Piece of This $11 Million (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - In 2010, the top 10 American long-term-care insurers paid out $11 million per day -- $4 billion for the entire year. The industry may be experiencing a little turbulence now, but don't let that keep you from jumping into this pool of funds.

Obama aims for sharp drop in government-backed mortgages (Reuters)
Reuters - The Obama administration has plans to reduce the role of government backed mortgages, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to less than 50 percent of the market from a dominant role today, CNBC reported on Friday.

Obama aims for sharp drop in gov't-backed mortgages (Reuters)
Reuters - The Obama administration has plans to reduce the role of government backed mortgages, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to less than 50 percent of the market from a dominant role today, CNBC reported on Friday.

Should You Pay Off Debt or Save for Retirement? (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - When you first get started managing your personal finances, many people are faced with an intimidating to-do list. You need to make a budget, create an emergency fund, reduce debt, get insurance, buy a house, invest, save for retirement, and save for your children's college costs. It's hard to know where to start. Oftentimes people give up or get stuck deciding between these big goals. One especially tricky choice is deciding between retirement savings or debt reduction. Should you delay your retirement savings until your debts are paid off?

BofA creates foreclosure unit (Reuters)
Reuters - Bank of America Corp appointed on Friday a new foreclosure and loan modifications czar, and created a new unit to oversee problem home loans in a bid to sort out its on-going foreclosure issues, becoming the first large U.S. bank to do so.

Bank of America creates unit for foreclosures (AP)
AP - Bank of America Corp. on Thursday said it is splitting its mortgage business into two units, with a new division created specifically to handle foreclosures and discontinued loan products.

Money Tips for Young Doctors (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - For all their potential earning power, young doctors also face unique financial challenges: How and when should they start paying off their massive student loans? How can they best manage a relatively low income early in their careers, while anticipating a higher salary later? When can they afford to start a family, and balance parenthood with a demanding work schedule?

U.S. support of mortgages must end: Redwood CEO (Reuters)
Reuters - The U.S. government will have to reduce its competitive role in the mortgage market to entice private investors to return, even if it means higher borrowing costs in the transition, the chief executive officer of Redwood Trust said on Monday.

3 Ways to Conquer Pension Envy (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - The haves and have-nots in retirement could be defined by who has access to a traditional pension. Those with an employer-sponsored traditional pension will get guaranteed payments for life, while everyone else must depend on their own saving and investing savvy.

An Oil Company for the 21st Century (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - While almost half of my portfolio is in oil companies, I've tended to avoid the majors for years because their shares haven't been good performers (and their profits aren't especially sensitive to the oil price). BP's share price is down by 19% over the past decade while Royal Dutch Shell is up by a touch over 10%.

3 Home Mortgage Refinancing Nightmares (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - Just a few months ago, my wife and I talked about how much money we were going to save by refinancing our 6 percent fixed-rate mortgage down to 4.25 percent interest. A few years earlier, we would have been crazy to think that we could refinance our mortgage loan from 6 percent to an even lower rate. But the chance to find a better mortgage rate was one of a few bright spots in the U.S. real estate market's dreary past three years. ...

Consumers borrow more money for 3rd straight month (AP)
AP - Americans are putting more money on their credit cards after two years of cutting back, helping fuel the third straight monthly increase in consumer borrowing.

Key Republican urges faster Fannie, Freddie sell-off (Reuters)
Reuters - An influential Republican lawmaker on Monday pressed for a faster sell-off of home loans held by mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

5 Ways to Get Organized for Tax Season (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - Tax season officially runs from January 1 through April 15. But calendar deadlines are deceptive. Face it: Tax preparation is a 12-month activity requiring discipline, organization and data, according to accountants and professional organizers.

Consumer credit rises, supports strong growth view (Reuters)
Reuters - Consumer credit surged in December as shoppers boosted their credit-card debt for the first time in more than two years, supporting views economic activity was gathering momentum.

U.S. plans to raise cost of govt backed mortgages: sources (Reuters)
Reuters - The Obama administration will propose raising the cost of loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration as part of a plan to reduce government support of the mortgage market to below 50 percent, said sources familiar with the plan.

Calpers sues ex-Lehman execs over mortgage risks (Reuters)
Reuters - Calpers sued a group of ex-Lehman executives and underwriters, alleging it bought over $700 million in bonds and Lehman stock without knowing the true condition of the now-bankrupt financial company.

How the Church of England Invests Its Billions (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - This article has been adapted from our sister site across the pond, Fool UK.

Cool the Conspiracies: Inflation Numbers Aren't Lying to You (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - It's a paradox many have grappled with lately: Commodity prices are blowing up, yet the Consumer Price Index, or CPI, says inflation is tame. As Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke noted last week, "we have recently seen significant increases in some highly visible prices," yet, "overall inflation remains quite low."

Mortgage applications fall in latest week (AP)
AP - The number of people applying for a mortgage dropped last week as rates jumped.

Young Investors are the Most Conservative (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - Financial planners have traditionally advised young retirement savers to invest heavily in equities and then gradually transition to less volatile investments as they age. But financial market turmoil appears to have scared many young investors out of the stock market. Twenty-somethings are now the most conservative investors of any age group.

Officials to unveil housing finance plan Friday (Reuters)
Reuters - The Obama administration will unveil its proposals for changes to housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Friday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

Republicans: Halt taxpayer aid for Fannie, Freddie (AP)
AP - Federal taxpayers should stop propping up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Congress will wean the country away from its reliance on the two huge but fiscally feeble housing finance companies, House Republicans said Wednesday.

Money Tips for Young Lawyers (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - It would be easy to assume that young lawyers have little to worry about when it comes to money. Recent law school graduates can command high salaries and they've studied contracts, estate planning, and other financial technicalities. Why, then, do young lawyers so often struggle when it comes to managing their own money?

Obama housing plan due Friday; Bernanke weighs in (Reuters)
Reuters - The U.S. government should only back home loans as a last resort in times of economic stress and should explicitly charge for that support, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.

Mortgage default notices slow sharply in January (AP)
AP - Fewer U.S. homes entered the foreclosure process in January than in any month in more than three years, the latest sign lenders are taking longer to move against homeowners who have fallen behind on mortgage payments.

Average rate on 30-year mortgage hits 5.05 pct. (AP)
AP - The average rate on the 30-year mortgage topped 5 percent this week for the first time since April. Higher rates could further hamper the struggling housing market ahead of the spring's prime home-buying season

Good Beer Leads to Good Profits (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - One of the great growth stories through the recession and today is the expansion of the craft beer industry in the United States. In 2009, craft beer sales increased by 12% while the industry as a whole fell by more than 2%. The trend continued through the first half of 2010 as craft beer sales were up again 12% by revenue and 9% by volume, while total beer sales were down nearly 3%.

Amazon: A General Store for the 21st Century (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - The consumer is back ... sort of. The holiday shopping season was merrier for some retailers than others. That suggests investors should be picky about retail stocks.

Obama housing paper includes government insurance fund (Reuters)
Reuters - President Barack Obama's housing white paper to be unveiled on Friday includes an option to create an insurance fund for mortgage backed securities that is similar to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, sources familiar with the plan told Reuters.

Obama to offer solutions for housing finance (AP)
AP - Homebuyers will face potentially higher interest rates under any of three Obama administration options for reducing government support of the mortgage market, the price of ending the country's dependence on financially teetering housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

White House to unveil proposals for mortgage market reform (Reuters)
Reuters - The Obama administration on Friday will unveil long-awaited proposals for what could lead to the most sweeping changes to the way Americans buy their homes in decades.

US unveils housing market overhaul (AFP)
AFP - The US Treasury Department proposed Friday to wind down state-backed mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have underpinned the housing market for 40 years.

Long road ahead for Obama housing overhaul plan (Reuters)
Reuters - The Obama administration nailed a 'condemned' sign on the wrecked U.S. housing finance system on Friday, but did not offer a clear blueprint for a rebuilding project that could go on for years.

Instant View: Obama proposes winding down Fannie, Freddie (Reuters)
Reuters - The Obama administration will propose a wind-down of government-controlled mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to documents obtained by Reuters.



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