Saturday, February 28, 2009

Broken And Broke: Repair Shops Getting The Fix

The economic downturn has people tightening their budgets and breathing new life into old possessions. Shoes, luggage and sporting equipment are getting makeovers — and repair shops are reaping the benefits.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Bank Gives Bailout Money Back | What's the Story Behind TARP?

Thanks but no thanks

iberiaIBERIA Bank, a Louisiana company that previously accepted $90 million in government aid, says it will now give the money back. Changes to the Troubled Asset Relief Program would put the bank at a disadvantage, said Daryl Byrd, the bank’s chief executive.

Regulations

It’s true, there are a lot more rules and restrictions on banks that take bailout money now than there were under the Bush administration. So it makes sense that a bank that’s doing just fine would want to forego government aid.

But if the bank was doing just fine, what was it doing taking government aid in the first place?

“We didn’t want this”

Earlier this week I wrote about Northern Trust bank. The company threw a large, lavish party in Los Angeles after accepting more than $1 billion in federal aid. Naturally, Congress was outraged and asked the bank to return to the government the amount it spent on the party.

Northern Trust responded that it had never wanted government aid and had only gone along with the program because of politicians pushing for participation.

A strange story

So what’s going on here? A bank that took $90 million is returning it, so clearly that bank didn’t need the money. Another bank came right out and said it doesn’t need the money. So is the government really asking banks that don’t need help to take the money? And why?

If there are any readers out there who know the answer, I’d really like to know. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Bank Gives Bailout Money Back | What's the Story Behind TARP?"

Affiliate Marketing on the Web

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is about paying for performance. In short, it is a type of marketing in which one merchant induces others to place banners and buttons on their Web sites in return for a commission on purchases made by their customers.

Amazon.comamazon

Amazon.com is the pioneer of affiliate marketing. It allows other Web sites to publish information of their own choices of books. When people click through to Amazon and buy these books, the Web site in question gets a commission. Affiliate marketing can open up new channels to market for the affiliate sponsor, and be a source of extra revenue for the affiliate Web site. When investigating affiliate marketing, consider:

  • affiliate marketing is more suited to products than services;
  • you’ll need to work hard with your affiliates if you want it all to work;
  • a well-designed compensation package will be critical to success.

Is your business suited to affiliate marketing?

  • There needs to be a substantial number of Web sites that are attracting your target market. These Web sites need to show a willingness to join an affiliate program. You might be selling medical supplies but that doesn’t mean that hospital Web sites will become affiliates.
  • Affiliate marketing is better suited to products than to services. It is much harder to track whether another Web site sent you visitors who, after prolonged negotiation, decide to pay you for your services.
  • Is the market already saturated with affiliate programs? It would be difficult to set up an affiliate program today that offered commission on book sales.

Have a strong value proposition

As with all good ideas, there are a huge number of merchants offering affiliate programs. How is your program going to attract new members? The level of compensation/commission you will offer will be important. However, on its own it will rarely be enough. You will need to work hard with your members by organizing regular competitions, special offers, and other incentives that make for an attractive value proposition both for your affiliate members and the end customer. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Affiliate Marketing on the Web"

Latham & Watkins lays off 440 | Death of Big Law Firms?

Legal giants slashing and burning

David Lat and Elie Mystal of the legal blog Above the Law report that the worldwide legal firm Latham & Watkins have laid off 440 employees (190 associates, 250 staff). According to Above the Law, Latham & Watkins managing partner Bob Dell announced the layoffs via this company wide E-mail:

From: Robert Dell (SF)
To: #ALL L&W PERSONNEL
Sent: Fri Feb 27 08:00
Subject: Executive Committee Announcement

To: All Personnel

From: The Executive Committee

It is with deep regret that we are announcing and implementing today a layoff of associates, paralegals and staff, which will affect approximately 12% of our associates (190) and 10% of our paralegals and staff (250). Everyone who is directly impacted by this workforce reduction will be notified personally today, and will be offered a comprehensive separation package, including payment of six months salary (up to total severance of $100,000) plus six months of continued medical coverage (through August 31, 2009), as well as other resources to support this transition.

We deeply appreciate the many valuable contributions and committed service of those affected by this decision. We made this painful decision with great reluctance and only after concluding that demand for legal services in this troubled economy will not provide enough work for all of our attorneys. Needless to say, the depth and duration of this recession could not have been anticipated. While our diversified practices and global platform continue to provide us the stability and strength to navigate these unprecedented global economic conditions, our structure was built to serve even greater demand based on the significant and steady growth we experienced before the rapid onset of this global recession. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Latham & Watkins lays off 440 | Death of Big Law Firms?"

U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Iraq Complete by 2012

Stand down. Homeward bound.

Families want to see their loved ones again. Children deserve fathers and mothers. American troops in Iraq will be coming home. There will be a complete U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Karen DeYoung and Anne Kornblut of the Washington Post report that President Obama will announce plans to withdraw the majority of the 142,000 U.S. troops currently serving in Iraq by August 31, 2010. Until the close of 2011, as many as 50,000 will remain. By 2012, American families with loved ones returned will be whole again.

“A very hard end date”

January 1, 2012 will be set as the deadline for final withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq.

President Obama’s senior civilian and military advisers helped formulate this timetable. They see it as “the best way to manage the exit” without jeopardizing Iraqi security. For America, however, some Democrats object that 50,000 troops is “too many to leave behind.” Republicans, however, were largely supportive. Arizona Senator John McCain said he “supports the plan to leave 50,000 troops in Iraq as briefed by [chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] Admiral [Michael] Mullen and [Defense] Secretary [Robert M.] Gates.”

Coming home to economic trouble

On the fields of battle, there appears to be little concern in Iraq’s government. “We have faith in our armed forces and our security services, to protect the country and consolidate security and stability,” Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said. “We have no worries for Iraq if American troops pull out. Thank God we have succeeded in ridding ourselves of sectarianism and racism.” ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Iraq Complete by 2012"

More Details on Obama's Budget Proposals

Changes to agriculture

agriculturePresident Barack Obama revealed his budget proposals yesterday. The 2010 budget increases funding for the Agriculture Department to $26 billion. However, it also decreases funding for some programs that have been around for a long time.

No more farm subsidies for some

Over the three years that begin in September, Obama proposes phasing out direct payments to some farmers. This will only affect farmers who bring in more than $500,000 per year in sales revenue.

He will also decrease funding for the Market Access Program. The plan would eliminate funding to  promote overseas brands.

Expensive census

Obama hasn’t appointed a Department of Commerce Secretary yet, but he has drawn up plans for how much he wants to spend on commerce. This department’s funding would make a big jump from $9.3 billion to $13.8 billion.

Most of the additional spending would go toward the 2010 Census. Obama wants to ensure the Census is completed “effectively, efficiently and on time.”

Investing in education

The 2010 budget calls for $46.7 billion for education. That’s $500 million more than the education budget for 2009. The budget includes $2.5 billion to help low-income students go to college.

Focus on energy

In the Energy Department, the budget allows for $26.3 billion in spending. That’s in addition to the $11 billion for energy in the stimulus package.

Obama says his plan “supports and encourages the early commercial development of innovative, clean energy technologies through loan guarantees.” ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "More Details on Obama's Budget Proposals"

Great Depression Cooking with Clara - Saving You Money

Be frugal, be fed during latest Depression

OK, can we really hide this anymore? We’re in a depression. That’s why it’s very important that we find any means necessary to make our dollars stretch. That’s what 93-year-old Clara Cannucciari has been doing since America’s last Great Depression.

Lindsay Goldwert of ABC News reports that Cannucciari, a great-grandmother, knows her way around a kitchen and knows how to prepare cheap, nourishing, quality meals. According to Ms. Cannucciari’s blog (she has one, don’t you?), her food is so tasty that she gained weight during America’s last Great Depression. You can learn about that and more by checking out her cooking show blog, “Depression Cooking with Clara.”

She learned from her mother

“My father had to have his pasta every day. And my mother insisted we always have a little meat too,” Cannucciari said. In fact, she and her brother liked meat so much that they would pretend to be sick in order to get more, despite the rationing that was necessary during the Depression.

Cannucciari was born in Chicago in 1915. She attended high school until she was a sophomore, when she had to leave to work for her family. At 20, Cannucciari worked for Hostess, filling Twinkies with creamy filling. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Great Depression Cooking with Clara - Saving You Money"

General Motors Bleeding Cash: A Blow-By-Blow

General Motors: building better cash coffins

Joe Weisenthal of The Business Insider reports that General Motors is officially America’s “national money pit.” The automaker is bleeding cash at an astonishing rate. One wonders when they’ll file for bankruptcy, particularly after posting a $9 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2008.

That amount includes special items; if the numbers for normal operating expenses are taken into account ,the loss was “just” $6 billion. According to Weisenthal, that was $1.5 billion worse than analysts and pundits had predicted. Cash on hand is currently at about $14 billion, which according to Phil Lebeau is only $2 billion higher than the “bare minimum” it takes to run the company.

For all of 2008, the company lost about $31 billion.

Breaking it down

Not surprisingly, the management of General Motors wants $16.6 billion more from Washington. If they get it, it would be shocking if President Obama would allow the same leadership body to remain in charge.

But let’s look at this from a slightly different angle for a moment. A $9 billion fourth quarter loss? In order to swallow these numbers, break it down by the day. It so happens that General Motors was losing $85 million per day in the fourth quarter, which is still monstrous. Let’s go deeper:

  • General Motors losses…
  • Quarter: $9 billion
  • Day: $85 million
  • Hour: $3.5 million
  • Minute: $58,333

Give thanks to The Business Insider for sharing these stupefying calculations. Per minute, General Motors lost more than the average household income for the United States in 2007. It’s certainly more than what my household earned. How about you? Would you put that money to better use? ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "General Motors Bleeding Cash: A Blow-By-Blow"

The 'Art' Of Doling Out Stimulus Money

The Federal government has begun sending tens of billions of stimulus dollars to states and cities to dole out quickly. For advice on how to shell out that money, government officials might want to turn to the Gates Foundation. It is an institution that has had to learn how to spend a lot of money in a very short period of time.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

New California Gold Rush-the Housing Market

The global recession

Global recessionEverything is deteriorating. The stock exchanges that we thought would be down for a couple of months before they drag themselves back onto their feet, have stayed down. For some reason nothing induces them to get going again. The housing market is a disaster, the auto industry is dead and refuses to lie down, and the terrible financial disease is spreading around the world like a wildfire out of control.

The horror stories

The horror stories are starting to emerge. This guy worked his whole life and paid his insurance and pension premiums every month, even in the months when he had to scrape the money together. Now aged 68, he's still here but the insurance and pension company has disappeared. Immigrants who arrived from other countries in mid-life are destitute and are begging on the streets. A guy loses his great job at a hi-tech company, defaults on a couple of mortgage payments while he is racing around the country looking for something else, and his house is repossessed.

Are you running to the California Gold Rush?

But not all is darkness. There is always someone who profits in the worst of times. The price of houses is down and down and down. The good news? Why, there's a special on houses in California, a silver lining in the Golden State’s epic housing crash.

In the midst of this crash, plummeting prices and near record-low interest rates make it possible for young couples to own a home in California for the first time. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "New California Gold Rush-the Housing Market"

Obama Reveals Budget Proposals

More money slated for struggling banks

Obama pledges to slash deficit after initial increase.

Obama pledges to slash deficit after initial increase.

President Barack Obama unveiled his budget plans for 2009 and 2010 today. Some of the big items for this  year  include $410 billion for federal programs and dedicating $250 billion to bailing out banks. This is in addition to the $700 billion TARP fund.

Big budgets

The fiscal year 2009 ends in September. Obama’s proposal for the remainder of this year adds up to about $3.94 trillion. The proposed budget for 2010 costs $3.55 trillion.

Big ticket item: health care

As expected, the 2010 budget calls for dedicating $634 billion to to health care reform. The administration calls this a “down payment” on the ultimate goal of universal health care.

Pay caps on government salaries

The 2010 budget calls for a freeze on salaries for all White House senior staff. Other civilian employees for the federal government would be limited to receiving a 2 percent pay raise. This year government workers got up to a 3.9 percent salary increase.

Bumping up deficit, defense

Obama’s plans for 2009 would push the annual budget deficit to $1.75 trillion. The 2010 budget increases defense spending by 4 percent, up to $534 billion.

Military pay caps

In addition to the pay caps for civilian government employees, Obama has also proposed a cap on military salary increases. His plan would limit raises for military personnel to 2.9 percent. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Obama Reveals Budget Proposals"

Ireland's Recession deepens, seeks Bailout from their Government

Nearly 100,000 people marched through Dublin on Saturday

Ten years ago I bought a ticket from Boston to Dublin, Ireland, so that I could join the new Intel plant that was coming online in Leixlip, near Dublin. This is a classic case of déjà vu. Now I need to buy the ticket to get back to the States.

Ireland is in a state of collapse. They are facing tough government cutbacks, a deepening recession and bailouts for the banks. The Prime Minister has a ballooning budget deficit and is planning to introduce a pension levy on public sector workers and freeze their pay.

Ireland before the EU

I remember the days before Ireland joined the EU. It was then touted as one of the poorer countries in Europe. Ireland joined the European Communities, now called the European Union, in 1973 and its economy spiraled in order to keep up with its partners.

Before the current economic crash, Ireland had the fifth highest gross domestic product per capita and the seventh gross domestic product per capita considering purchasing power, and the fifth highest Human Development Index rank in the world.

The country also boasted the highest quality of life in the world, ranking first in the Economist Intelligence Unit's Quality-of-life index. Ireland was ranked sixth on the Global Peace Index. Ireland also has high rankings for its education system, political freedom and civil rights.

Hi-tech moved in

On the heels of the tremendous development and the economic upswing that took place, the hi-tech industries of the world all fell in love with Ireland and huge manufacturing plants mushroomed. Everyone is there: Intel, Dell, IBM, HP, Oracle, Lotus, Microsoft and most other hi-tech names you can think of. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Ireland's Recession deepens, seeks Bailout from their Government"

Economic Conspiracy?

President Obama’s inauguration speech

Presidential Inauguration 2009

Presidential Inauguration 2009

President Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America, came to the Throne of Presidency during times of heavy economic tribulation in this country.  President Obama clearly understands this, as it was one of the first things mentioned during his inaugural address.  The purpose of this article is to analyze President Obama’s views and reasoning for the current economic state and synthesize them with things taking place around the globe, as well as look for other possible causes of the depression.

A consequence of greed and irresponsibility

In his inauguration speech, President Obama begins by pointing the finger, by stating our economic state is "a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age."  Obama is referring to banks when he says this. I discussed this in yesterday’s article, “The Truth about Obama, Banks and the Illuminati”.

Hard choices

Today I would like to address the latter: "our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age."  I am not quite sure what hard choices he is referring to, but maybe he is referring to our inability to give up old technology and change into more economical-friendly technologies, such as hybrid cars, or alternative fuel sources. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Economic Conspiracy?"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Westgate Capital Manager Arrested on Investor Fraud Charges

Westgate Capital manager caught

Nice one, James.

"Nice one, James."

The fallout from the Bernie Madoff disaster continues. So, when is it that you’re going to step up your monitoring of financial fraud, SEC? Any time now…

Alistair Barr of MarketWatch brings our attention to James Nicholson, 42, the manager of the investment firm Westgate Capital Management LLC. Mr. Nicholson has been ceremoniously arrested at his Saddle River, New Jersey home on charges of securities fraud and bank fraud, according to the Department of Justice.

I learned it from you, Bernie

Nicholson told investors that Westgate Capital had assets within the company that ranged anywhere from $600 to $900 million. However, in true Bernie Madoff style, the real value of Westgate’s assets was substantially lower. As a result, investors dumped as much as $100 million into a variety of funds managed by Westgate since 2004.

It’s in the brochures; must be right!

Futhermore, Nicholson’s associated Westgate Strategic Growth Fund was audited by an independent accounting firm. However, the DOJ determined that this accounting firm was actually a virtual firm registered at a virtual address. In case of telephone inquiries, an answering service was set up that would direct calls to a phone number that Nicholson provided. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Westgate Capital Manager Arrested on Investor Fraud Charges"

Skip the Big Risks

In Roughing It , Mark Twain’s book about his travels in the American West, he described feeling “as if an electric battery had been applied to me” when he thought he’d struck a huge lode of silver in Nevada in 1862. Although the claim was denied within days, Twain often referred to this euphoric…


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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

No Zombie Banks, Just Payday Loans For Living

Payday loans for reanimated banks?

Payday loans are for living. Zombie banks are mythological husks of a dying economy… right?

Greg Robb of MarketWatch reports that Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve are denying that the government has seized control of any banks, or that this will ever be necessary. There is no such thing as “zombie banks,” he says. The term “zombie” as it applies to banks, says Robb, indicates that a bank still exists but is only alive because the government has taken complete control.

“That is not an accurate description” for top U.S. banks now, says Bernanke. “They all have substantial franchise value. They are all lending — all active. All have substantial international franchises.” In particular, Bernanke objects to zombie terminology. Perhaps because it implies there no control over the institutions. They lumber along, much like a spastic denizen of the walking dead - with the prerequisite motor skills of a lump of Jello.

Pumping up dead profit margins

Just how damaged American banks are right now is uncertain, as rumors of mounds of toxic “off-book” debt won’t go away. Things still look grim, despite the fact that Presidents Bush and Obama have signed off on pumping billions into them for “partial” ownership stake. There may be much more pumping up to come. How much is anyone’s guess. A loan until payday, anyone?

As always, the idea of nationalization is avoided like so much necrotic tissue. Bernanke insists it would do more harm than good,  “destroying the franchise value and creating high legal uncertainty.” He believes the Fed has enough supervisory oversight to get banks to do what the government wants to create profit. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "No Zombie Banks, Just Payday Loans For Living"

Feds Ban Online Payday Loan Companies from Certain Practices

Nevada Online Payday Loans Companies Sued

gavelFederal and state regulators in Nevada have gotten a court order that bars seven online payday loan companies from engaging in a few specific practices.

Federal Trade Commission claims the companies have used “deceptive” lending and collection practices.

Who is involved

The companies named in the lawsuit, which was filed November 2008, are: Leads Global Inc., Waterfront Investments Inc., ACH Cash Inc., HBS Services Inc., Lotus Leads Inc., First4Leads Inc., Rovinge International Inc.

The companies have agreed to obey the court order until the case goes to trial.

Accusations

The companies are accused of omitting loan terms from online payday loan applications. The suit also says the companies “used abusive and deceptive collection tactics.”

Here is a list of some other claims prosecutors are making:

“Falsely threatening consumers with arrest or imprisonment, falsely claiming that consumers are legally obligated to pay the debts, threatening to take legal action they cannot take, repeatedly calling consumers at work and using abusive and profane language; and disclosing consumers' purported debts to co-workers, employers and other third parties.”

Not a fireable offense

The lawsuit does not seek to shut these companies down or take away their lending licenses. The prosecutors will seek to bar the companies from using the practices named in the future.
The court will also ask that the companies forfeit any money acquired using said practices. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Feds Ban Online Payday Loan Companies from Certain Practices"

Online Payday Loans Could Help Ex-Microsoft Employees

Surprise, you might need online payday loans

Maybe Microsoft should have done some extra research before it signed severance checks.

Maybe Microsoft should have done some extra research before it signed severance checks.

Former Microsoft employees who have gotten new jobs might need  online payday loans to pay back their previous employer. An unknown number of the employees that were laid off in January will be getting letters telling them that they need to pay back part of their severance packages.

“Administrative error”

In a letter to some former employees, Microsoft states that an “administrative error” resulted in some laid off workers being overpaid in their severance packages. The company asks workers to return part of their severance pay in the form of a check or money order.

Tight timeline

To make matters worse, Microsoft isn’t giving its ex-employees much time to get their finances in order. The company requests that the overpayment be returned within two weeks.

Luckily, online payday loans can be approved almost instantly and transfer money to your account in a couple of hours.

Legal recourse

Jill Pugh

Jill Pugh ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Online Payday Loans Could Help Ex-Microsoft Employees"

Personal finance/cash advances – a whole new meaning

The Concept of Personal Finance

The Key of my mind...

The key to your financial sucesss is in your hands

When we hear the phrase 'personal finance,' we immediately think of banks lending to individual customers and of small ticket personal loans and cash advances.

However, we are not talking about taking loans or cash advances in this article. What we are talking about here is the actual 'personal finance,' which means financing your dreams personally. That is how the great American dream was born and funded. It was only in the later phases that public money and cash advances became a part of the story, and, as they say, the rest is history (or a mystery!)

Personal Finance Planning

All of us have dreams that we aspire to accomplish. It can be something as obvious as retiring early, or something as ambitious as setting up your own manufacturing unit. Almost all the big business names of today started small. The excitement of seeing something growing from a small to big scale is one of the biggest joys of life. Anyway, here are a few time-tested tips which will ensure that we can personally finance our own dreams, and make them count – without depending on banks, cash advances or public money for support.

Savings

  • Though it might sound clichéd, this is the biggest secret behind successes, and no – it does not take a lifetime. According to 2006 stats, the average savings in an American family was 12.8% (Source – Money magazine); just for comparison's sake, the average savings in China was 50%, and in India, it was 33%.

The best way to fund your dreams still is to save money – but then, you need to start early. If you are in the age group of 25-30, you should be able to turn your dream into a reality before you are 35 or 40, irrespective of the amount you earn. Proof – Oseola McCarthy, a washerwoman on the southern Mississippi university campus donated $624,600 to the university in July 1995. All of that money was from her savings! Check out Google for more info on that. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Personal finance/cash advances – a whole new meaning"

Pay Off Cash Advances, Charges on AMEX Card, Get Cash

Company offers select customers reward

cut cardAmerican Express customers who can pay off all of the cash advances and charges on their credit cards might be eligible for a cash reward.

The company has sent letters to certain customers who could qualify to get $300 if they pay off their full balances in March or April. The customers who received the offer have until the end of February to accept.

A strange business idea?

There is more to it than just paying off balances for these select customers. In order to qualify for the $300 reward, customers must also close their credit card accounts. So that’s the deal: If customers pay off all charges and cash advances and cancel their cards, American Express will send them a prepaid card worth $300.

This struck me as a little odd. I have never heard of a company offering customers an incentive to stop doing business with them. So what is the explanation?

Words from the company

Company spokeswoman Molly Faust says it’s part of the company’s strategy to cut expenses.

“We are looking at different ways that we can manage credit risk based on the costumer’s overall credit profile,” she said.

The company wants to save $1.8 billion in 2009, and part of its strategy is to scale back on efforts to gain more customers.

Strategy backfired

American Express’ earnings have fallen sharply this year, much like its competitors. Discover Financial Services, Capital One Financial Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc are all scaling back credit lines of select customers. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Pay Off Cash Advances, Charges on AMEX Card, Get Cash"

Nationalize Banks, Sop Up Bad Credit Personal Loans

Toxic credit? Try bad credit personal loans!

Toxic credit means that banks need bad credit personal loans of their own.

Hugo Dixon reports for CNN Money that the U.S. is fighting the nationalization of its banks. As I see it, one of the reasons for this is that snide talking heads will come out and decry such socialism. But considering how much trouble toxic debt is causing for America’s banks, perhaps a holding company mentality is needed to eat up the poison and keep the banks alive.

Shareholders are happy with the bailout cash, but taxpayers get nothing for the trouble. It’s their money being thrown around, but there’s no guarantee that the same people who drove the banks aground in the first place won’t do it again. Don’t leave the kids the keys to the liquor and gun cabinets, I say. No personal loans with bad credit for the irresponsible, either.

Only a “modest” discount

President Obama’s plan, according to Dixon, is to “buy mandatory convertible preferred shares in any bank that fails a stress test.” This plan is going into effect now. This will be changed into ordinary shares if necessary for the bank’s survival. So, the government may end up owning these banks, even if it doesn’t want to call a spade a spade.

To some, it seems that doing this would kill value for the shareholders. Yet Treasury Secretary Geithner maintains that “the price at which the new capital would convert into ordinary shares would be a modest discount” to the share prices as they stood on February 9.

Will America become a Socialist nation?

Dixon goes on to show how this might work. Citibank’s share price on 2/9 was $3.95, while Bank of America’s was $6.90. That’s double In both cases, that is roughly double where the stocks stood on the Friday before. Exchanging the government’s $45 million stake in each would still be a huge dropoff for the shareholders on a per share basis. Government would end up with 68% of Citi and 51% of BofA. But, says Dixon, “if the banks’ ordinary capital is wiped out, selling shares to taxpayers at twice Friday’s price will seem a positive bargain” for them. Whatever the case, this problem needs a solution, because bad credit personal loans for bad bank behavior cannot continue. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Nationalize Banks, Sop Up Bad Credit Personal Loans"

Monday, February 23, 2009

Could Short-Term Loans Help Boost Home's Selling Price?

Getting the best price in a bad market

The way your home looks from the outside can greatly add to its selling price.

The way your home looks from the outside can greatly add to its selling price.

One of the tests for when it’s OK to get short-term loans is whether they can actually help you  make money.

Now is a terrible time to have to sell your home, as values for housing have sunk so low. But life happens, and if getting short-term loans to fix up your house could push up your home’s selling price, it could be a good investment.

Almighty curb appeal

The best way to increase the amount you can get for your home is to start on the outside, according to CNNMoney.com.

If the siding on your home is worn or damaged, replacing it is a good first step. If taking out short-term loans to get your siding repaired quickly will get more buyers looking at your home sooner, it might be worth it.

Siding tips

According to a remodeling survey, fiber-cement siding is the best way to get your money’s worth and add value to your home. Also, if only a portion of your siding is in really bad shape, consider replacing just that part. If you can get away with patching and painting the rest, go for it.

Stack your deck

If  you live in a warm climate, adding a deck to your home will greatly increase its value. Eric Stalemark, a contractor and founder of Decks.com, says that cedar is the best wood to use for a deck based on durability and appearance. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Could Short-Term Loans Help Boost Home's Selling Price?"

Don't Get Payday Loans for Travel | Free Drinks on Airlines

U.S. Airways won’t charge for beverages

Travelers drew the line when U.S. Airways started charging for soda.

Travelers drew the line when U.S. Airways started charging for soda.

In case you are thinking of getting payday loans to cover all the extra fees that U.S. Airways has been charging, you may want to reconsider. U.S. Airways has announced that it will no longer charge for soda, juice, tea, water and coffee.

Fees, fees, fees

U.S. Airways made news last month with its announcement that it will now charge for pillows and blankets. The $7 fee for the “Power Nap Sack” sticks, but the airline has agreed to stop charging for nonalcoholic beverages.

The airline also charges extra for checking luggage. With fees between $25 and $50 on most airlines, travelers might need to get payday loans to cover all the extra fees.

Tough industry

The reason U.S. Airways is able to continue charging for luggage is that this is a common practice among airlines now. However, U.S. Airways was the only airline to start charging for in-flight beverages, and this hurt the airline’s business.

Because no other airlines followed suit when U.S. Airways began charging for drinks, the airline had to drop the practice. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Don't Get Payday Loans for Travel | Free Drinks on Airlines"

Ohio HB 545 Zombies Cry Foul When Payday Loans Play Fair

House Bill 545 doesn’t play nice with other laws

Wallet, meet overdraft fees

Wallet, meet overdraft fees

Payday loans in Ohio have weathered the storm of House Bill 545. This we know.  But let’s take a closer look at what opponents of payday loans are concerned about. An editorial by Marc Kovac of Dix Communications, a media conglomerate that no doubt has interest in the banking industry, should shed some light on the matter.

Governor Strickland has voiced concern that if lenders are using Ohio’s Small Loan Act to lend at the same rates as before, they may be violating the new law of House Bill 545. So what he’s saying is that the pay day loan companies left in Ohio may be breaking the law by following the law. Not only is that not the problem of the lenders, but it should be noted that lenders are working within applicable laws. They are cooperating with state government.

Payday lenders cooperate, adapt

Payday loans have adapted to existing laws. When House Bill 545 placed an oppressive 28 percent annual interest cap on short-term consumer loans, stores closed and hard-working individuals lost their jobs. None of this was necessary. Those against HB 545 predicted that the bill would put 6,000 Ohioans out of work. Much of that fear was recognized once the bill passed. Over 500 stores closed, according to Ohio Department of Commerce Legislative Director Ernie Davis. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Ohio HB 545 Zombies Cry Foul When Payday Loans Play Fair"

Ohio HB 545 Can't Kill Payday Loans: They Live!

Payday loans and the Small Loan Act

Jim Siegel of The Columbus Dispatch reports that the Ohio Department of Commerce will not regulate payday loans into oblivion. Great, but they’re on the verge of being taken away from the public as is, thanks to House Bill 545. It capped annual interest rates at 28 percent for the high risk, unsecured loans, which is not a workable profit model. It isn’t oblivion, but it’s close.

In order to save scores of employees from unemployment and keep options open for consumers who need emergency cash but have less than perfect credit, lenders who remain in Ohio are offering pay day loans under the state’s Small Loan Act. Ernie Davis, the commerce department’s legislative director admits that lenders ”are operating under licenses set in statute.” Yet meddling politicians - driven as if their masters’ whips are at their backs - are going to look again and again to make sure lenders are “abiding by terms set in the new law.” ... click he re to read the rest of the article titled "Ohio HB 545 Can't Kill Payday Loans: They Live!"

Buy Builders, If You Dare

To be a truly contrarian investor, you need the nerves of a cat burglar. How else can you buy stuff others are unloading in disgust? And few sectors are more loathed today than homebuilders.


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After String of Quick Loans, Obama Plans to Shrink National Debt

President says he’ll cut deficit by two-thirds

After he handed out billions of dollars in quick loans to banks, auto retailers and the nation as a whole, President Barack Obama’s next goal may surprise you.  He plans to cut the annual deficit by two-thirds in the next four years.

Big plans

At the beginning of Obama’s presidency, the national debt was $1.2 trillion. That amount will rise to $1.5 trillion after initial spending from the quick loans and other programs in the economic stimulus package. However, Obama’s economic projections say that by the end of 2013, the deficit will be down to $533 billion.

How to slash a deficit

The major components of Obama’s plan are Iraq troop withdrawal and higher taxes on the wealthy. Obama says he’ll release his budget outline Thursday. This outline will also make clear how he intends to deliver campaign promises on health care and energy policy, according to the New York Times.

Funding the Iraq war has accounted for a huge percentage of the nation’s spending, and Obama says his troop withdrawal plan will save about $90 billion.

A few new taxes

Obama proposes taxing income from investments in hedge funds and private equity partners at ordinary income tax rates. Right now those types of income are taxed like capital gains, at the rate of 15 percent. His policy would consider those funds income, and thus they could be taxed up to 35 percent, which is what the most wealthy pay in income tax.

Fewer tax cuts

During Obama’s campaign, he said he would immediately get rid of  the Bush tax cuts on income, dividends and capital gains. However, because of the economy crisis, he plans to instead let them lapse, as scheduled, after 2010 for individuals who make more than $250,000 a year. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "After String of Quick Loans, Obama Plans to Shrink National Debt"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hot Jobs in a Cool Economy?

The latest issue of Women’s Health has an article called The Hottest Jobs Right Now, listing 5 jobs that they say “could lead to a richer, more rewarding future.” Here’s their list, along with their estimates of pay ranges according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data:

  • Eco Interior Designer: “helping home remodelers go green.” Pay: $50,000-$82,000
  • Social-Media Marketer: helping companies harness the marketing power of sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Pay: $113,000-$144,000
  • Financial Advisor: considered one of the 10 fastest-growing careers. Pay: $82,000-$137,000
  • Natural-Foods Chef: helping busy people eat healthily or tailor their diet to allergies, weight loss, etc. Pay: $41,000-$65,000
  • Wellness Manager: Working with corporations who want to reduce their long-term costs by focusing on preventive care for employees. Pay: $95,000-$125,000

A sidebar article also lists these “low-stress” jobs for people who are looking for quality of life rather than a big paycheck:

  • Archivist
  • Museum Curator
  • Credit Analyst
  • Nursery and Greenhouse Manager
  • Set Designer
  • Soil and Water Conservationist

I’m not sure I can take all the salary estimates too seriously, and obviously most of these aren’t jobs you can just waltz right into without some experience and training. Though I bet a lot of people will read this and say WHOOHOO, I could be a social media marketer!

Are there any readers out there who do any of these jobs? What do you think?
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Friday, February 20, 2009

What Freelancers Need to Know About Their Finances

With unemployment rates at their highest in 15 years, there’s never been a better time to consider becoming a freelancer. Companies may not be hiring the way they once were but there’s still a huge demand for skilled workers. Programmers, web designers, writers and anyone else who can bill their services by the hour are bound to find a receptive audience. But if you’ve never freelanced before you may not be aware of what it takes to run a business. And while you may welcome the thought of setting your own hours, working in your pajamas, and playing your music as loud as you want, make no mistake about it. Freelancing is a business with very specific rules about how you should manage your finances. In this two part article, we’ll tell you what you need to know.

Taxes

One of the major differences in how you need to handle your finances is how you deal with taxes. As a freelancer, you will have a different tax status than someone who is employed full-time by a corporation. You’ll be responsible for supplying yourself with everything you need to get your work done; perhaps a computer, a phone, Internet access, a desk, and an office. On the plus side, many of these things can be claimed as business expenses and deducted from your taxes.

Depending on your filing status, you may be required to pay quarterly taxes. Estimating your taxes and keeping to a quarterly schedule may be difficult for someone who is used to having the company automatically deduct the tax before their paycheck even hits their bank account.

That’s where a good accountant comes in. When preparing to file your tax return, it is critical to select an accountant that specializes in small businesses and knows how to work with freelancers’ returns. For example, you may have heard that you can deduct a portion of your rent if you work from home, but how much is allowed? And how do you make sure your office is properly delineated from your living space. An accountant that knows what to deduct for you can help you save money and file a more accurate tax return. According to Mark Luscombe JD, CPA Principal Tax Analyst for CCH, which produces the free annual CCH Tax Guide For Journalists, freelancers need to file at a minimum, Form 1040 and Form 1040 Schedule C, depending on their particular situation. If the freelancer estimates that they will owe more than $1,000 in tax beyond any tax paid through withholding, in general they should pay quarterly estimated taxes.

Working as a freelancer essentially means you have your own business. Filing your taxes as a sole proprietor could be a good idea since it will enable you to deduct business expenses. “A sole proprietor attaches a Schedule C to the Form 1040 individual return. Schedule C is the place to set forth the income and expenses of the sole proprietorship.,” says Luscombe.

Deductions and Expenses

Tracking deductions is important, as this will help you be better prepared come tax time. Keep a record of any phone or car expenses you had that were business related. Having a separate phone account that is exclusively for business will provide a better-detailed list of related phone expenses. Make sure you have receipts for everything you plan to deduct and keep track of all expenses. If you have minor expenses under $75 it is less critical.

Use expense tracking software such as Mint.com to automatically sort transactions into categories such as groceries, gas and many others so you see exactly where your money goes and keep a record of your expenses. It’s also a good idea to have a separate credit card and bank account dedicated to business related expenses, that way you can have a documented record at the end of the year. Many credit card companies will send you a year-end summary with purchases neatly categorized so all you have to do is go through it and mark which ones were legitimate business expenses.

Requirements for home office deductions have loosened up in recent years, Luscombe says, “The home office deduction has gotten a little easier to meet - the home office is no longer required to be used by customers or clients as long as it is the principal place of any business carried on by the taxpayer. There is no dollar limit on what can be deducted, but expenses applicable to the overall home such as utilities and depreciation require an allocation between the portion of the home used for business and the portion used for personal purposes. Also, the allocable expense portion of the deduction for a home office cannot create a loss (i.e. cannot exceed business income less other business expenses). Such expenses can, however, be carried forward to future years.” It’s also important to note that any income received should be reported as income. A few examples include money won in a writing contest or funds received from grants.

Some of the common home office deductions include, equipment and office supply purchases such as computers, printers, software, hardware, office furniture, paper, and pens. Deductible business related expenses are a dedicated business telephone line and Internet connection, as well as web domain registrations and hosting fees. Also deductible are entertainment expenses such as meals or drinks for colleagues or interview subjects. Car expenses, travel expenses, and professional journals and dues, research related magazine subscriptions and books, health care and advertising expenses like brochures, business cards and flyers are also deductible.

Figuring out the depreciation value of your office equipment can be a bit more difficult.
According to the tax analyst, “Depreciation can be very complicated to determine. It depends on the depreciable basis of the asset, the depreciation method that applies under the tax law, the depreciable life of the asset, and any special rules such as bonus depreciation or small business expensing elections that may apply.” If you aren’t working with tax professional, you may want to turn to IRS Form 4562 and Publication 946 for help in determining how to depreciate an asset.

When looking for tax assistance, a reputable accountant can be found by talking to organizations, friends and colleagues in the field. Once you find a specialized accountant, interview the person and ask them how much of their time is spent preparing freelancers tax returns, see if you have a good rapport with them and find out what their fee is. These questions will help you determine if this is the right person who will meet your tax needs.

In part two you’ll learn how to deal with health insurance, retirement issues, and clients that refuse to pay.


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Man Loses $13,000 in Toilet | Short Term Loans, Anyone?

Short term loans to replace lost cash

These days, it feels like more money is going down the toilet and people are crying out for short term loans to fill the gaping hole in their balance sheets. Critics of of President Obama’s economic stimulus package worry that the money is not going to be used in the right way, while others are concerned that the massive infusion of money into the money supply will create rampant inflation (if we haven’t already been there for a while). Did you hear about the hyperinflation in Zimbabwe? Folks there may as we ll flush those paper zims down the toilet.

But sometimes, people who don’t mean to flush money down the toilet end up doing just that.

Sealed for freshness

Dave Graham reports for Reuters that a German businessman lost his euros in a public toilet. He had more than 10,000 euros (which translates into about $13,000 American) in a clear plastic bag. Why did he carry that much money with him into a public restroom and why was the money zipped up in a plastic bag? Is there a kidnapping/contraband/blackmail story here that we should know about? Anybody who “discovered” the money in that restroom after the man’s departure may have needed bad credit short term loans for their emergency cash needs before, but not now… ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Man Loses $13,000 in Toilet | Short Term Loans, Anyone?"

UPDATE: Stanford Found by FBI | Quick Loan to Jail?

Quick loans won’t get him out once he’s incarcerated

Here, let me take that money of yours...

BBC News reports that FBI agents in Virginia have located and served Sir Allen Stanford with civil papers, a quick loan courtesy of the SEC. They would like to see him pay it back with other people’s money… and jail time.

Stanford has been accused of $8 billion fraud against investors. The claim is that they were lured by the promises of “improbably and unsubstantiated high returns on certificates of deposit and other investments.” The SEC calls the case “fraud of shocking magnitude” that loans itself quickly and easily to the recent memory of Bernie Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

Richard Kolko of the FBI revealed that agents had served the legal papers to Stanford in Fredericksburg, Virginia, at the request of the Securities and Exchange Commission. This step was necessary in order to ensure that Stanford would turn in his passport and be made aware of the what he faced, said the BBC’s Richard Lister from Washington. Criminal charges have yet to be filed, so Stanford is not currently being held in custody.

Bank terror bonanza

As a result of Stanford’s fraudulent operations, branches of banks controlled by the Stanford Group have been shut down or placed under national control in Peru and Venezuela. The former nation suspended operations for 30 days, while Venezuela has announced it will take control. Panama, Ecuador and Antigua have also took action against Stanford’s interests there. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "UPDATE: Stanford Found by FBI | Quick Loan to Jail?"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Good News: Online Payday Loans and Companies with Solid Jobs

Online payday loans and other bright spots

Some people get cheered up when they find out that online payday loans can quickly and easily get them out of a financial jam. I like to bring people good news in the midst of all this economic doom and gloom, so whenever I come across a cheery story I try to share.

Companies hold steady in shaky economy

CNNmoney has published a story on nine companies that have never laid off an employee, and some of them have some great business ideas. For instance, grocery store Nugget Market doesn’t replace employees who leave voluntarily when finances get tight. If stores are short on people they can “borrow” employees from other stores nearby in the same chain. All employees are cross-trained so they can work in bagging, the deli or the cash register. Employees could feel confident getting online payday loans because they always knew payday was coming.

Believing in people

Some companies have been lucky enough to be able to stick to stalwart philosophies regarding employee retention. Founders of Aflac founders John, Paul, and Bill Amos adhered to this philosophy: ”If we take care of our employees, the employees take care of the business.” For nearly 20 years, Aflac insurance company has seen double digit growth every year, even the last two.

Capitalizing on convenience

QuikStop convenience store chain has stayed lucrative by staying privately owned. Because the company doesn’t have to pay out to any shareholders, any profit can be put back into the business. Still, the company is very picky about the way it spends its money. The family that  owns the company, the Cadieuxs, ”rejects proposed expenditures that don’t benefit customers or employee growth.” ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Good News: Online Payday Loans and Companies with Solid Jobs"

Payday loans: quick and easy in times of financial tragedy

Payday loans are an ideal choice of borrowers

Money Back Guarantee

Do you wish to tackle all those monetary problems without fuss? Try payday loans. Offering a perfect solution, payday loans deliver a sound way to tackle a financial emergency, mid-month. Payday loans will help you out of your financial dilemma, calmly and quickly.

How much money can I get with payday loans?

Although the money offered is very modest, it is still handy to tackle certain financial emergencies. With payday loans, the offered amount ranges from ₤80 to ₤750 in the UK or $100 to $1,500 in the U.S., with the repayment duration of 14-31 days. Readjustments in the payback date can usually be made if the borrower fails to remit the loan amount on the pre-decided day. The offered advantage is technically referred to as a "rolling over."

How long does it take?

Payday loans, curtail your labor to a vast extent. The same does not require you to make any personal visit to the lending firm. If approved, payday loans offer instant approval online, with the same being granted at the very place you have applied from. The approved amount is typically delivered the very same-day with the same being deposited directly in your checking account.

A bad-credit score usually offers no hindrance of any sort. With payday loans, no time is squandered in redundant credit checks and cumbersome paperwork.

What is required?

Anyone who is at least 18 years old, earns at least ₤1000 UK or $1000 U.S. salary per month and owns a bank account is a candidate for a payday loan. Payday loans can be used for virtually anything: a pending bill, a sudden medical emergency, a doctor fee, a car repair, etc. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Payday loans: quick and easy in times of financial tragedy"

No Cheap Loans Coming From the Federal Reserve

Cheap loans? Not from the Fed

When it comes to financial relief in America, Axel Merk sees no cheap loans on the way from the Federal Reserve.

Merk, the president and CIO of Merk Investments, recently contributed an editorial to the “Investors’ Soapbox AM” segment of Barron’s that criticizes Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke lack of engagement over some key economic issues. Merk wonders whether Bernanke’s exit strategy from the recession is an exit strategy at all.

As Merk sees it, the following are two major issues he feels that Bernanke and the Fed should address:

  • Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) purchase programs can’t be phased out. The $500 billion the Fed plans to spend on these, according to Merk, can’t be offloaded to the market again. Thus, they’re permanent additions to America’s economic landscape - “almost a doubling from the base before the start of the credit crisis” - and inflationary “unless otherwise sterilized”
  • At some point, Merk feels, President Obama’s stimulus plan will produce the desired effect. However, Merk feels it won’t be loans cheap; it will be “much later, be less efficient and thus more inflationary than many anticipate.” He predicts that in a “best case” scenario, the Fed policy will quickly follow up an initial tightening with dramatic easing. He has not seen indications of this from Bernanke.

Risk: not as small as you imagine

The Fed also claims that the credit risks they have assumed are “rather small” (Bernanke’s words). If this is true, why are they taking on new staff to weed through all of their acquired assets? Merk wonders whether the Fed has bitten off more than it can chew and does not understand the level of risk they have absorbed.  Bernanke, much like President Obama, said that not acting would have been disastrous. Acting is one thing; acting in the most appropriate fashion is another. The mere fact that the government and the Federal Reserve have acted is no assurance that things are going to be fine and the right actions are underway. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "No Cheap Loans Coming From the Federal Reserve"

Payday Advance Loans Stores, Swiss Banks May Be Targets

Payday loans stores targeted by policies

Payday advance loans stores have worried for some time that new policies would run them out of business. In some states, legislators have come pretty close to doing just that.

Now, Swiss banks owned by UBS are worried that new policies could drive them out of business, too.

Does no more secrets mean no more business?

Yesterday UBS agreed to comply with orders from U.S. officials and turn over banking records of United States taxpayers who had accounts with their Swiss banks.

Many are concerned that this will “open the floodgates” to other countries requesting that USB break confidentiality agreements. People worry that if UBS and other organizations change its practices, they will lose business. Payday advance loans stores also pledge to protect customers’ privacy, but that is only to protect their personal information, not to avoid taxes.

Predictions coming true

Since UBS agreed to pass along client information to the United States’ government in order to avoid criminal charges, some other countries have already started to push for a change in Switzerland’s policies.

Countries such as neighboring Germany are pressing Switzerland to amend banking secrecy laws that  they say promote tax evasion.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said last year the Swiss should be put on a "blacklist" of uncooperative tax havens. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Payday Advance Loans Stores, Swiss Banks May Be Targets"

Payday Loan Company Loses $2.5 Million in Settlement

Fast Cash Loans forced to give up $2.5 million

When you go to a payday loan company and take out a loan, it is expected that you will repay that loan within the agreed time period. Typically, this period is two weeks. If you do not repay within the allotted time period and also fail to repay your loan with an installment plan as some lenders offer, it is reasonable and within the legal rights of pay day loans companies to attempt to collect outstanding debt.

Apparently, Federal Way in Washington State thinks that we should instead live in a financial Never Never Land where borrowers do not have to be “burdened” by the responsibility of repaying their debts. Owen Lei of KING 5 TV News in Seattle reports that the Federal Way lender Fast Cash Loans will pay $2.5 million in court settlement with former clients who sued because they want to fly kites rather than be adults and pay their debts.

But isn’t the lender being defrauded by negligent borrowers?

Customers involved in the class action against Fast Cash Loans claim that voicemails left by representatives of the company were defamatory. Moreover, they object to said representatives presenting themselves as “fraud investigators,” according to Lei. How is that inaccurate? Hasn’t Fast Cash Loans been defrauded by customers who don’t pay?

Pacific Financial Holding, the parent company for Fast Cash Loans, will pay $2.5 million to end the negative publicity, although they maintain there has been any wrongdoing on their part. They will continue to offer payday loans.

Legitimate means, legitimate ends

“I guess everybody’s reaction when they listen to them is outrage, when you listen to someone being so… arrogant, I believe is the word, about their abuse,” said Michael Kinkley, an attorney for the plaintiffs. Mr. Kinkley, you’re wrong. People who are fed up with people expecting bailouts when they have been irresponsible are NOT outraged. They’re outraged at enabling mouthpieces like you who profit from the breakdown of personal responsibility in western society. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Payday Loan Company Loses $2.5 Million in Settlement"

Fantasy, Invention At New York Fashion Week

Sally Singer, Vogue magazine’s fashion news and features director, says the need for fashion and style don’t disappear — even in rough economic times.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Obama Plans to Help Homeowners with Bad Credit and Personal Loans

Bad credit plus personal loans equals crisis

Obama hopes to help homeowners avoid this fate.

Obama hopes to help homeowners avoid this fate.

A mixture of bad credit and personal loans has caused millions of Americans to face foreclosure on their homes. Now President Barack Obama has revealed his plan to help up to 9 million Americans keep their homes.

Obama will use money from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Fund that the Bush administration approved last fall. He will dedicate $75 million to keeping Americans with mortgages from having to turn into their keys.

Keeping families off the streets

Many homeowners are facing the reality of having bad credit because their personal loans have gotten too expensive for them to handle. Many also now own property that is worth less than the amount they owe on their mortgage.

Obama’s new foreclosure prevention plan will help about 4 million Americans who are facing foreclosure. His plan is to offer incentives to banks so they will refinance loans to get monthly payments down to manageable levels.

Property values

The plan will also help 4 million to 5 million people who are paying mortgages that are now worth more than their property, if their loans are through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Because of the steep depreciation in housing values, nearly 14 million people are currently paying mortgages that are worth more than their property.

Because the government now owns large stakes in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Obama says mortgages through those companies will be easier to refinance. People who aren’t behind on their payments but are paying mortgages on low-value property can refinance their total mortgages. ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Obama Plans to Help Homeowners with Bad Credit and Personal Loans"

Surviving Financial Tides - Cash Advances Can be an Option

The impact of the Wall Street collapse

Credit CrunchWith the collapse of Wall Street, we, Americans, suffer from financial worries and the need for Cash Advances here and there. Wherever we go, recession is the word of mouth. Large companies are shut down, jobs are lost, credit cards balances are multiplying, and lifestyles, if not lives themselves, are ruined.

Uncertainty is today’s plaque

We live at a time where uncertainty is a plague that devastates the land. It knocks on our doors at night, it looms over us even when we sleep, and it follows our every footstep, becoming a constant shadow that does not leave even when daylight is gone. Wherever we go, whatever we do, the unsettling fact remains: the world is witnessing a financial crisis bigger than it ever has over the past years. How are we then supposed to survive it?

How to overcome our financial worries

The first step we must take is to clear our minds and stay focused. The more we worry about losing our jobs, the more our performance dwindles, thus creating a bigger chance for our worries to come true. We must analyze our financial situation and think of the next step from there. Instead of asking questions that are impossible to answer (e.g. What if I can't pay my debts? What will my future be?), ask yourself questions that you can solve with some thinking (e.g. What can I do to earn more money? What should I do to spend less?). Little by little, by asking yourself the right questions, you'll find solutions to the problems you face.

What can you live without?

The next step is to review your current lifestyle. What is excessive? What can you do without? What needs immediate attention? What can you put off until later? Prioritize your needs to know which ones have to be solved first. Again, don't focus on losing whatever comfortable lifestyle you had before. Focus on adapting. What's done is already over with, and the only things you should deal with are what you have at hand. After that, study your possible options. Would debt consolidation make it easier for you to pay cash advances/debts? Do you need the advice of a professional? Is there a relative or a friend you can borrow money from in desperate times? What alternative sources of money are available out there? ... click here to read the rest of the article titled "Surviving Financial Tides - Cash Advances Can be an Option"< br>

Obama Sends $75 Billion to Homeowners in Foreclosure

If real estate is truly the root of the economic recession, then this new proposal from President Obama should help. The plan calls for $75 billion to help 9 million homeowners who can no longer afford their monthly mortgage payments and are at risk for foreclosure.

Here is how this plan would help.

If you owe more than 80% of your home’s value, this plan will help you refinance your mortgage. How will the value of your home be determined? Will they use the purchase price, current estimated market price based on other similar homes sold recently (which could be considerably lower), or some appraised value?

If you’re at risk for foreclosure, the $75 billion would be used to subsidize your mortgage interest rate. This would lower the interest rate you see while the lenders still receive their money from the government. The goal is to keep payments below 31% of income. But what happens when income suddenly drops to zero through the loss of a job? 31% of zero is still zero.

If you declare bankruptcy, a judge will have the authority to modify your mortgage. This is good news for consumers with no other options.

There are a number of other measures that affect lenders rather than consumers. The plan offers incentives for lenders to help at-risk borrowers who are not yet late with payments. $10 million will be set aside to protect lenders against further home price declines.

At this stage, this is just a proposal. The Senate and the House of Representatives will both draw up their own versions of this proposal and eventually agree on a bill. This could take some time, and as sentiment turns away from helping citizens directly, particularly if it is widely believed that homeowners generally find themselves in trouble due to their own choices and actions, there may be a struggle to turn this proposal into an agreed-upon law.


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