Thursday, March 31, 2011

Increase in mortgage insurance coming to FHA

Federally supported mortgages, last year, got more costly. In April of this year, the cost will go up all over again. This increase will increase the overall expense of low-cost mortgages. Article resource – Cost of FHA loans set to increase again by MoneyBlogNewz.

The place of FHA loans

Specific mortgages get home loans from the Federal Housing Administration. The FHA doesn't give bad credit personal loans. Instead, it insures mortgages for other loan companies to lend. A down payment between 3 and 6 percent is required instead of the 10 percent standard mortgage down payment with an FHA-insured loan. FHA mortgages could be taken out for any amount up to $729,750. There are many that want to own a home but cannot make a down payment. Typically they can nevertheless make a mortgage payment though.

How much you pay for FHA loans

Borrowers don't have to worry about the difference between FHA loans and regular mortgage loans. There isn't much of a difference. Borrowers are required to pay mortgage loan insurance with FHA loans so that the federal government will repay the lender if something goes wrong. For many years, FHA loans required a 0.5 percent premium be paid as mortgage insurance. The amount went up 0.9 percent in 2010. Now the total is at 1.15 percent. This was after another 0.25 percent increase in April. FHA borrowers have to pay 1.15 percent additional of the mortgage. This can be added to monthly payments. For those who have a $157,000 mortgage, this can be a pretty large increase. It means $400 a year extra.

FHA has good and bad about it

The FHA wrote mortgage insurance for the first quarter of 2011 for $72.1 billion in loans. The FHA wrote more refinancing loans since There are fewer loans than in previous years. It is not all bad news though. There are fewer defaulting FHA loans. There is also bad news. In order to stay solvent, the FHA will have to increase rates still. Borrowers should expect rise in mortgages. This will occur on average. This could show a recovery in the economy or that mortgage lending nevertheless makes the federal government nervous. Either way, the boon of low interest rates is sure to end soon.

Articles cited

Tampa Bay Times

tampabay.com/news/business/realestate/fha-raises-mortgage-fee/1159586

Total Mortgage

totalmortgage.com/blog/fha/fewer-fha-loans-going-bad/11172



Real expense of nuclear power apparent at Fukushima

Resurgence was brewing for nuclear power, however the Fukushima disaster might have nipped it in the bud. However, the darker side of nuclear energy has been exposed by Japan’s struggle to contain radiation from the reactor damaged by the earthquake and tsunami. Measures to protect nuclear reactors from earthquakes in the future might be so costly that investors will think twice before believing that an investment in nuclear energy could be profitable. Article resource – Fukushima disaster lays bare the true cost of nuclear power by MoneyBlogNewz.

Getting nuclear power paid for

About 62 percent of the public was interested in nuclear power in a Gallup poll in 2010. This was because of the idea of nuclear power as a clean, reliable energy source. The Obama administration announced plans to provide $54.2 billion in loan guarantees for the construction of nuclear power plants. But even prior to the Fukushima disaster, it was doubtful that new nuclear reactors would be under construction in the U.S. anytime soon, according to Mark Cooper of the Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment. Cooper gave a presentation at the House of Commons in Ottawa, Canada, where he said there was a United States nuclear industry bubble that was not going to last soon. The bubble began to inflate in 2001 when the Bush administration started heavily promoting nuclear energy with billions in loan guarantees. The nuclear industry was not doing as well as anticipated by 2008. Natural gas became a cheap option while the recession began. The othe! r clean energy possibilities helped bring it down as well.

Nuclear power starting to cost more

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, building new reactors could become even more cost prohibitive. Cooper's research shows that there was a 95 percent increase in construction costs after the Pennsylvania Three Mile Island accident in 1979. Every person had to pay 40 percent more in electricity because of this. Construction costs went up 89 percent causing electricity to rise 42 percent in 1986 after the Ukraine Chernobyl disaster. The price of construction goes up quite a bit after accidents occur for nuclear reactors. This is as the safety needs to be addressed causing a design change. Due to the Fukushima incident, the United States already has the Nuclear Regulatory Commission together to start figuring out what changed have to be made.

Investors cannot risk it

Clean energy alternatives, like wind, solar and natural gas, are looking like something more investors are willing to invest in over nuclear power plants after the Fukushima disaster. The nuclear plant risk is one utility might pass on as well. Sometimes you do not want to pay much for energy. If this is the only consideration, nuclear energy makes the most sense. The cost to clean up a nuclear accident aside, it is cheaper to do most other options. Onshore wind farms are 35 percent cheaper than nuclear power plant building. The world can get electrical power from several alternative sources. The nuclear power costs to the economy are avoided with them. For savvy investors, clean energy alternatives promise more profitable opportunities.

Citations

Reuters

reuters.com/article/2011/03/25/idUS423443138820110325

Fast Company

fastcompany.com/1742619/what-are-the-economics-of-nuclear-power-after-fukishima

The National

thenational.ae/lifestyle/personal-finance/japans-nuclear-woes-add-pressure-to-invest-in-green-energy



Google Books judgment depending on copyright and antitrust worries

Google’s vision of a universal virtual library has hit a snag in court . Google settled with author and publisher groups for $125 million to get the go ahead for the project, however those opposed to it cited copyright and antitrust worries. Authors and publishers, which have become allies of Google in the case, said the Google Books ruling made it clear as to what changes must be made to eventually get the negotiation approved.

Settling on Google Books

To be able to try to scan all published books and make them accessible to everyone who wants them, the program Google Books was started. Due to the book-scanning project, Google got sued in 2005 by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. In 2008, Google agreed to pay $125 million up front and provide the means for authors and publishers to get paid any time their books are viewed online. The settlement has been mired in the legal system as opponents for instance Amazon, Microsoft, the Justice Department, copyright experts and some foreign governments argued against it. On Tues, Manhattan federal court judge Denny Chin said the Google Books settlement would solidify the company’s search monopoly and give it the right to exploit published works without the permission of copyright holders.

What orphan works has to do with this

There was one objection that Judge Chin had probably the most and it was to a provision in the Google Books settlement. This would, unless an author and publisher opted out, allow to business to digitize any books. It would look better, states Chin, with an "opt in" choice instead. The opt-out provision was written because of an issue with so-called “orphan works.”. Anytime a book has a copyright holder that can't be found or is unknown, it is an orphan work. An opt-in would make it impossible to use orphan works, Google states. The point of this was for Google Books to be able to consist of orphan books to be accessible to everyone. Many say that Congress, not a settlement or lawsuit, should be in charge of making the decision on orphan texts.

Antitrust issues

Every book written is being offered in the book scanning project that is meant to "democratize knowledge" which means over 130 million books is integrated. Antitrust worries are there as well though. Nobody would be able to compete with such a complete library as Google would have with this program. Other critics of Google Books said offering exclusive access to millions of books would put Google in an unassailable position in Internet search. As the battle goes on, Google has scanned about 15 million books. Books with expired copyrights can be accessed via Google's Book Search, as well as about 20 percent of copyrighted titles Google has licensed from publishers. Sample text can be accessed from copyrighted titles that have not been licensed to Google.

Information from

New York Times

nytimes.com/2011/03/23/technology/23google.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

Financial Times

ft.com/cms/s/2/f7ee4948-54bf-11e0-b1ed-00144feab49a.html#axzz1HR3IHDr1

PC World

pcworld.com/article/222963/judge_rejects_google_book_deal_over_monopoly_concerns.html



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Demand diminishing between companies as durable products costs rise

Orders of durable products have fallen in the past month, which is being attributed to weaker consumer demand, among other things. Orders for durable goods, or manufactured products that last for long periods of time, rose in January, but increasing prices may have put a damper on the willingness of businesses to order such products. However, orders for transportation increased, so plane and automobile manufacturers are shipping more units.

Dropping demand not hurting transportation

Transportation has been doing really great, states AOL News. This is during a time where there has been a huge decrease in the amount of durable products being ordered. There was a 1.9 percent increase in February in vehicles and trucks orders. Orders for commercial aircraft rose by 26.7 percent. Congress isn't worried about getting new defense aircraft so those order dropped 18.4 percent. It’s the fourth time in the last five months that there was a decrease in durable goods. In fact, in February, there was a 0.6 percent decrease, including transportation.

Price goes up

The increase in gas means it costs more to drive customer goods, states CNN. Also, the rising oil and gas prices mean a rise in energy costs. Smuckers and Kraft, parent companies, elevated costs for Folgers and Maxwell House coffee. A steady increase in customer costs has been shown. The energy cost increase isn’t helping this increase. You will find non-essential products being purchased for instance the iPad 2. More than likely, consumers will spend less money on these things as food prices increase.

Costly summer likely ahead

There is no shortage of supply of gas causing the price to go up. MSNBC states that gas is increasing anyway which could hurt consumers after hurting retailers. Transportation costs affect goods, in the more it costs to get things like Huggies diapers and T-shirts to stores, the more stores have to charge for them. The cost of essential items for instance food is going up because businesses aren't purchasing durable goods and producers are raising costs. The things individuals will always buy, such as gas, coffee or bread, are the ones producers can charge more for. A huge decrease in non-essential items mean someone could get a cheap iPad. CNBC states this is only for people that have some additional money after all the price increases.

Articles cited

Daily Finance

dailyfinance.com/article/durable-goods-orders-fall-09-percent-in/785798/

CNN

money.cnn.com/2011/03/18/news/economy/rising_prices/index.htm

CNBC

cnbc.com/id/42248040

MSNBC

msnbc.msn.com/id/42197087/ns/business-consumer_news/



IE9 surpassed by Firefox 4 in downloads at release

Internet Explorer nine appeared on the scene about a week before Firefox 4 was released. Firefox 4 had three times downloads in the first 24 hours than Internet Explorer 9 had a week earlier. Microsoft could be faulted for some of the beating, because Internet Explorer 9 has no support for Windows XP, while Firefox 4 does.

Higher number of downloads of Firefox 4 than Internet Explorer 9 by a long shot

On Tues., Firefox 4 launched. It was downloaded about 7 million times in the first 24 hours it was out. One day after Internet Explorer 9 was launched, 2.4 million users had downloaded the upgrade. IE9 is definitely losing to Firefox 4. Nevertheless, nothing can compare to the "Download Day" that Mozilla did to win a Guinness World Record with Firefox 3.0 having 8 million download in the first twenty-four hours. In Europe, Mozilla is very popular. That is where much of the Firefox 4 downloads ended up coming from. Users in Europe logged 44 percent of Firefox 4 first-day downloads. About 26 percent came in North America. Next was Asia. This was where 20 percent of users came from. The remainder of the connected world included the rest.

No more Windows XP compatibility for Microsoft

The plans Microsoft had for Internet Explorer 9 meant that Firefox 4 was bound to win the first day download competition. It did not even seem like a competition anymore. Internet Explorer 9 was only developed for Windows 7 and Windows Vista by Microsoft. CEO Steve Ballmer might end up needing a personal unsecured loan after that decision. IE9 will not support Windows XP, even though the 10-year-old operating system is used by more than 61 percent of Windows machines that went online in Feb., according to the Web metrics company Net Applications. Firefox engineering director Jonathan Nightingale told GeekWire that offering Windows XP users a high-quality experience with Firefox 4 was difficult, however the user group was too large to leave behind. Microsoft wasn't planning on wasting time developing Internet Explorer 9 "to the lowest common denominator," according to a statement about it. Microsoft might be attempting to convince Windows XP users to upgrade. It w! ould seem logical.

The money Firefox brings in

Mozilla has high states in the market for a browser. Because Mozilla displays links in the search bar of the Firefox browser, it gets money while Microsoft and Google track user information to make money. As users for Firefox multiply, Mozilla, a non-profit foundation, generates more revenue. There was a 34 percent increase from 2008 to 2009 in revenues going from $78 million to $104 million. Currently, market share mostly goes to Internet Explorer at 56.8 percent. It was at 68 percent in 2009 which means it has dropped. Due largely to Firefox 4 launch a delay, Firefox has lost 2.5 percentage points in the past year and has a 21.7 percent market share. Google Chrome has grown to 11 percent market share from nothing, doing really well.

Articles cited

MSNBC

technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/03/23/6327891-firefox-4-soars-thanks-to-microsofts-luddite-customers

Computerworld

computerworld.com/s/article/9214982/Firefox_4_thumps_IE9_in_first_day_download_contest

TechCrunch

techcrunch.com/2010/11/18/state-of-mozilla/



Monday, March 14, 2011

A summary of several frequently unnoticed tax write-offs

In this economy, unnoticed tax deductions are a crying’ shame. Unnoticed tax deductions lead to millions of working class individuals paying more than they should. But you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a CPA to discover a lot of tax deductible expenditures.

Tax deduction values

Instead of taking the standard tax deductions, about 46 million U.S. taxpayers will itemize. This means the government ends up losing about $1 trillion in tax dollars. About 85 million taxpayers use standard write-offs to protect another $700 billion. Choosing the standard tax break means many people are missing out on free cash. Several could pay fewer taxes each year if they were to itemize. Even those who take advantage of tax write-offs for instance interest paid on mortgages and student loans, real estate property taxes and state sales taxes might be giving the government extra money.

Career-related tax deductions

Most people do not realize there is a tax deduction for any expenses caused when looking for a job. The U.S. job industry has been terrible lately meaning several individuals are missing this tax break. Any job hunters expenditure is deducted as long as that job hunter has a total itemized deduction that is greater than 2 percent of the adjusted gross income. This is only allowed if the job search is in the very same industry as the previous job. Unless a first time job hunter is moving over 50 miles for the job with 14.5 cents per mile and moving expenditures deducted, first time job hunters cannot deduct job hunting expenses. For working class individuals going back to school to change careers, $2,500 of college tuition can be claimed as a tax credit. While a tax break lowers taxable income, a tax credit lowers the taxes owed. Single taxpayers making $80,000 or less or married couples making $160,000 or less qualifies for the tuition tax credit.

More unnoticed tax deductions

You will find tax deductions that get unnoticed. This involves deductions for home and family. As more Americans take care of their elderly parents, they become eligible for a substantial tax deduction. When paying over 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income for this person, they may be able to get a dependent parent deduction. In fact, over half of the parent's financial support comes from them. There have been a lot of United States automaker incentives for purchasing a new vehicle. In 2010, buying a new car means you are able to deduct the sales tax, even in case you are not doing an itemized deduction, as long as you made under $135,000. Taxpayers that made energy efficient improvements in their home can get green energy tax credits up to $1,500. The Making Work Pay tax credit was available too. It won't be much longer before the Making Work Pay tax credit isn't accessible anymore. 2010 is the last year for it. This tax credit is often taken care of by employe! rs who withhold less, but singles can take $400 off their tax bill and married couples can save $800 by completing Schedule M along with the 1040 form.

Articles cited

MSN Money

articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Taxes/CutYourTaxes/the-19-most-overlooked-tax-deductions.aspx?page=2

U.S. News and World Report

news.yahoo.com/s/usnews/20110217/ts_usnews/10hiddentaxdeductionsexposed

ABC News

abcnews.go.com/Business/irs-taxes-2010-tax-credits-deductions-save-money/story?id=12908788&page=2



Saturday, March 12, 2011

Global food inflation starting to hit U.S. grocery budgets harder

Food prices in the U.S. are rising at an accelerated speed. Checkout at the supermarket is getting more painful in the U.S. as need rises globally for key commodities used in food production. Source of article – Global food inflation starting to hit U.S. grocery budgets harder by MoneyBlogNewz.

Costs of food going up is a problem to deal with

There was a year-over-year increase of food inflation in January of 1.8 percent. The U.S. Consumer Price Index came out to state this. With the rising fuel prices and bad weather, the cost for many goods is going up. The need is increasing right along with it. So far, the impact of these factors has been most dramatic in meat costs. For example, due to tightening supplies, corn costs reached a 30-month high in January. Feeding livestock takes corn. That means it costs more to pay for livestock to live. More people in developing countries such as China and India want more meat too. There has been a 1.5 billion pound increase in beef exports in the U.S. This has happened in just five years time.

Average U.S. food costs

With the Global supply of meat, consumers in the U.S. have to bid against other countries. A year ago, the price for meat was down. In just that time, poultry costs have gone up 2 percent, beef went up 6 percent and pork went up 12 percent in cost. Rising Global commodity prices are also affecting other items in the food cart. There has been a huge increase in bread, milk and egg prices according to January CPI data. The price of wheat has gone up while the coffee bean went up 77 percent last year. That means cereal and coffee are now luxury items to buy. The 2011 expectations for pork are insane. There is anticipated to be a 10 percent increase in prices. Beef costs are expected to rise more than 7 percent. U.S. customers will be eating more chicken, which is anticipated to rise in cost a little more than 5 percent.

Perspective for price of food in 2011

Overall, U.S. food prices are anticipated to rise 3 percent to 4 percent this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The idea that this inflation in food costs won't affect Americans is there. U.S. policy makers don't want to admit to the truth. The Senate Banking Committee heard from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last week who said that customers will have an effect that is "temporary and relatively modest" from the food inflation. The Fed doesn’t factor in food and energy costs when it calculates inflation, but more than 12 percent of after-tax income in U.S. households is now spent on fuel and food. Consumers aren't happy with the increases in costs. This is because unemployment is still extremely high while those who are employed are not having an increase in wages anytime soon. In 2008, the average taxpayer earned $33,000 a year, far less than two decades ago.

Information from

CNN Money

money.cnn.com/2011/03/08/news/economy/food_prices/index.htm” target=”_blank

Seeking Alpha

seekingalpha.com/article/256992-rising-prices-are-hitting-consumers-harder-than-the-fed-will-admit” target=”_blank

Agrimoney.com

agrimoney.com/news/meat—and-oil—to-lead-climb-in-us-food-prices–2903.html” target=”_blank



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Microfinance founder Yunus terminated by Bangladesh government

Muhammad Yunus, head of the Grameen Bank and Nobel Laureate, was thrown out of his placement by the Bangladeshi government. Yunus, the original head of Grameen Bank, is popular for his work in the arena of microfinance, lending small loans to the poor to help them start businesses. Yunus is a noted and vociferous critic of the Bangladeshi government, and some feel it is only an intimidation tactic by the government. Source for this article – Microfinance pioneer Yunus fired by Bangladesh government by MoneyBlogNewz.

Trying to get Nobel Prize winner out

Yunus was forced out of his Grameen Bank placement. NPR reports the Bangladeshi government is responsible for this. While director of Grameen Bank by Bangladesh Bank which is the central Bangladesh Bank in the nation, Yunus was ordered out of the position after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. As Bank directors are required to retire when 60 years old, Bangladesh Bank claims that Yunus was not complying. Yunus is 70, however Grameen Bank was founded under a law passed in 1983 which exempts Yunus from the statute. He was given an indefinite term of office as managing director of Grameen Bank in 2000, when he reached the age of 60. Yunus is still in the job while Grameen is combating this.

Microcredit icon and government fight continuously

For years Yunus and the Bangladeshi government have been fighting. Yunus has previously accused the government of corruption, while government officials termed the small loans that Grameen lends to the impoverished as “sucking the blood from the poor.”. In 2007, Yunus tried to start a political party that failed. Officials have been looking at the operations of Grameen Bank to root out any possible malfeasance for months, after allegations were made of an improper funds transfer, according to the New York Times. All funds were redeposited after Grameen transferred donations from the Norwegian government straight to a Grameen affiliate without the Norwegian government finding out over it. This amount was for $100 million.

Key figure in fight against poverty

Many know and love Yunus and Grameen Bank. This is due to the microfinance loans used to battle poverty in the world by the Bank. Very poor, mostly women, are able to get small loans from Grameen Bank to be able to get a small industry started. For instance, a very poor clothing maker could get a microloan for a sewing machine and fabric and set up a business and an income. Women make up 97 percent of Grameen’s borrowers, according to USA Today, and the Bank has more than $10 billion in loans. The 2006 Nobel Peace Prize award was given to Yunus and Grameen Bank due to help with poverty conditions. Bangladesh did much better after these loans were made. Many feel like putting the poor in a placement where they now have debt is a poor choice since it encourages a bad practice, getting the microcredit model criticism. Others are worried because microlending in other countries has lead to violence when it comes to collecting payments and other corrupt practices.

Articles cited

USA Today

usatoday.com/money/world/2011-03-02-bangladesh-yunus_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

New York Times

nytimes.com/2011/03/03/world/asia/03yunus.html

NPR

npr.org/2011/03/02/134190697/bangladesh-forces-microcredit-pioneer-from-bank



Fuel cost increases countrywide fueling questions of power turmoil

The typical gas price is rising in every single state in the U.S. It’s all but guaranteed to hit $4 per gallon by summer. Gas costs have been rising, due to unrest in Middle Eastern countries and Libya slowing oil exports and driving the price of petroleum up. Should the industry prove unable to curb cost instability, the American government has stated it’s open to tapping its oil reserves to calm the market.

Government considering use of crisis reserves

Continuing turmoil in Libya brought oil exports in that nation to a standstill, leading to a spike in oil prices. Currently, the average gasoline price per gallon hit $3.51 on Monday, March 7, in accordance with CNN, and gas costs are on track to possibly hit $4 by summer. The prices have been going up every single day for the last 2 weeks. There has been a 34 cent total boost per gallon. Reuters reports that the Obama administration is considering using the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to stop this increase. The Reserve is a storage facility that contains almost 730 million barrels of crude oil, roughly equal to a one-month supply of oil for the entire United States. Reserves will only be used if necessary, administration officials continue to say. In 2005, the Hurricane Katrina disaster occurred causing a release from the reserve. Since the Nixon administration when it was established, it has only been used three times total.

Massive price increase

Since Libya has plunged into unrest, there has been some trepidation in the world sector for oil, but not due to a drop in supply. The United States gets hardly any oil from Libya that produces less than 2 million barrels a day. The Department of Energy reports that Saudi Arabia produces over 12 million a day. A 25 % boost in oil production was changed in Saudi; this more than makes up for Libya losses. The rise of fuel costs isn’t due to a shortage in supply; rather, markets are uneasy because political turmoil is spreading to other oil exporting nations. It doesn't really matter that Libya revolts are stopping oil production. If the exact same thing were to occur in Saudi Arabia, there would be a severe issue.

Obtaining the right cost from Gasbuddy

The site Gasbuddy.com will help individuals find the cheapest gas in their area. Many web sites are used for individuals to report fuel costs. Gasbuddy puts all these together. The Gasbuddy network extends from coast to coast, so there are few places in the U.S. or Canada that don’t have some information posted. A Gasbuddy app is available too. Windows smartphones, iPhones and Androids can all get the app. Since Gasbuddy relies on people reporting the gas costs they see, the site is fast becoming a resource that is quoted by major news agencies as well as a valuable tool for consumers.

Information from

CNN

money.cnn.com/2011/03/07/news/economy/gas_prices/

Reuters

reuters.com/article/2011/03/07/us-usa-oil-idUSTRE7252X520110307?pageNumber=1

Department of Energy

eia.doe.gov/cabs/newint.html

Gasbuddy

gasbuddy.com/



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Million dollar home revenue grows as prices still slip

Sales of luxury properties rose dramatically in major United States cities past year. Affluent Americans are scoring key deals made possible by crashing home values and low jumbo rates on mortgages. Another down year is anticipated for the housing industry overall, which is looking at a future decline in costs of up to 25 percent due to foreclosures. Source of article – Million dollar home sales increase as prices continue to slide by MoneyBlogNewz.

Luxurious real estate reacts to stock market wealth

In all of the 20 areas that DataQuick monitors as a real estate analytics firm, million-dollar home sales went up. After four straight years of decline, high-end home revenue increased 18.6 %. Wealthy people are feeling more financially secure as stock values have almost doubled since March 2009. The San Jose, Calif., luxury home industry went up the most last year. The increase in price for properties over $1 million went up 27.4 percent. The homes in NY went up too. There was a 25 percent grow likely due to the Wall Street bonuses. There was an increase of 20 percent for these properties in Washington D.C. There was a 0.4 % increase in luxury homes in Phoenix though as one of the work real estate markets in the country.

Decline in jumbo personal property rates

More individuals have been willing to get luxurious home sales because of jumbo home loan rates. They have gone down quite a bit. Purchasing a $1 million home demands a jumbo loan. Since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will not back a jumbo loan, it is much riskier than regular mortgages. In 2009 jumbo mortgages had rates of interest 1.8 percent higher on average than regular mortgages. Last year, the main difference narrowed to 0.6 %. A million dollar jumbo loan will save $780 a month on average with this difference in rate of interest. Money is paid for many luxurious homes though. Cash was paid for 29.4 % of $1 million properties past year, DataQuick claims. About 62.2 percent of buyers paid cash for anything over $5 million. For million-dollar homebuyers who got jumbo loans, the median down payment was 40.1 percent.

Outlook continues to be grim for housing market

Growth in luxurious real estate revenue is doing little to revive a moribund housing industry that is down 80 percent from its peak in 2005. New home sales fell 11.2 percent from Dec. to January. There might be an additional 25 % decrease in home prices in accordance with professionals. In 2010, the quantity of United States foreclosed properties was 26 %. The number is anticipated to go up in the future too. Everyone looking to purchase a home can get a bigger discount by just waiting. Another year or so is when it is anticipated to be at its worst. There is good news to all of this though. According to the National Association of Realtors, an annualized rate of 5.36 million for existing home sales in January was higher than forecast. If the trend continues, existing home sales could increase 8 % in 2011.

Articles cited

CNN Money

money.cnn.com/2011/03/07/real_estate/million_dollar_homes/?npt=NP1

Total Mortgage Services

totalmortgage.com/blog/jumbo-mortgage/jumbo-mortgage-rates-stock-values-boost-sales-of-luxury-homes/10733

International Business Times

ibtimes.com/articles/119628/20110307/real-estate-outlook-pending-sales-declined.htm



Saturday, March 5, 2011

U.S. manufacturing index continues increasing, but obstacles lie ahead

United States manufacturing has emerged from the recession with the rest of the economy in tow. Manufacturing activity in the U.S. accelerated in February to its highest rate in nearly seven years. The latest surge marks 19 straight months of expansion. Continued manufacturing growth is in the forecast because orders are outstripping inventories, however the sector must overcome looming inflationary pressures.

ISM's February report

As factories increase production to meet rising demand, U.S. production in Feb. increased at the highest rate since May of 2004, according to the Institute for Supply Management. Many use the monthly production index that ISM published as an economic indicator. ISM is based in Tempe, Arizona as a nonprofit industry. There was a rise in the ISM manufacturing index, or factory index, from January to February. This increase from 60.8 to 61.4 has been a good sign. Anything over 50 percent is good. It means growth is occurring. That huge leap was not expected. The growth change was expected to get to 60.9 in Feb. instead.

Good news for U.S. production

You will find several things that make the manufacturing index go up. These consist of strong exports causing production increase and new orders. From Jan to February, the ISM export index went up from 62 to 62.5. Then there was a change from 67.8 to 68 in the new orders index. That is the strongest rate since Jan 2004 that has happened. There was also a rise in the ISM production index. It went to 66.3 after being at 63.5. The inventories index headed the opposite direction, from 52.4 in January to 48.8. The manufacturing sector will be increasing with these numbers that show the supply chain needs more replenishment. The government program that ended up being an $858 billion tax cut bill that passed in December will help manufacturers. In 2011, they may get just a little additional help.

Possible difficulties

The hiring sector went up with the production activity. There was an increase from Jan to February in the ISM employment index also going from 61.7 to 64.5. That is the highest rate since January 1973 that has been hit. However, inflationary pressures loom as a threat. When an increase in the ISM index from 81.5 to 82, many are concerned that consumers already having trouble with higher gas prices can have to start dealing with rising prices on commodity and energy. In January, an increase of 0.2 percent was shown in customer spending though, which is the slowed rate since June. That means that manufacturers may be in for a surprise here soon with the increased manufacturing and less buying.

Articles cited

Bloomberg

bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-01/ism-index-of-manufacturing-in-u-s-rose-to-61-4-in-february.html

Wall Street Journal

online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704506004576174273942074528.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

CNN Money

money.cnn.com/2011/03/01/news/economy/ism/index.htm



More checking account opportunities accessible from B of A

B of A has unveiled a new pilot program that gives members of the bank more choices concerning their checking accounts. The bank is offering new customers in select areas choices between checking accounts with various structures of bank fees. Bank fee practices have resulted in lots of criticism of B of A and other large national megabanks in recent months. Post resource – Bank of America offering more choice in checking accounts by MoneyBlogNewz.

Consumers can pick banking fees with new program

ABC states that B of A is beginning a new program that will allow choice when it comes to account fees for customers to choose their bank account plan and fees. The largest national banks have come under criticism for charging excessive banking fees, and now B of A, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and others have rolled out new programs for checking accounts to make fees more transparent. There will be new programs tested in certain states for B of A. This contains Georgia, Arizona and Massachusetts.

Pick the account with fees attached

You will find five options for B of A for fees. Between $6 and $25 a month could be paid for these. These are the account types:

  • Essentials: Simple checking account with a debit card. The monthly account fee is $8.95, however the fee is waived if a consumer receives monthly direct deposits or maintains a minimum account balance of $1,500.
  • e-Banking: This can be a checking account also. It is simple checking. When banking online entirely or through ATM with electronic statements rather than paper, fees are waived entirely. However, overdraft, non-sufficient funds and ATM fees will still likely apply.

Definitely more amenities are given to wealthier account holders. This is because more money is being put in the bank.

  • Enhanced: Account fees are waived if consumer has a minimum balance of $2,000 in one account or $5,000 across connected accounts. Get the Enhanced account for 2 connected checking. You will find also 2 savings or money sector accounts that connection to it. Enhanced account holders may also have fees waived with monthly use of connected credit cards.
  • Premium: Fees are waived with a minimum balance of $20,000 across connected accounts, certain Merill Lynch investment accounts or a mortgage through B of A. You will find free services that this account offers. This consists of free money orders and cashier's checks.
  • Platinum Privileges: Customers must have a minimum account balance of $50,000 to be able to be eligible for these perks: Privileges charge cards, mortgage special rates, money industry accounts and personalized customer service.

Bank fees on the rise

As the federal government has increased regulatory pressure on banks to curtail deceptive fee practices, account fees have been steadily rising at the nation’s largest banks. There are many things being done by the big banks, for instance B of A, Wells Fargo and Chase, to make up for what they lost with the Dodd-Frank Act. This Act stopped practices for instance signing consumers up for expensive programs without notification.

Citations

ABC News

abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=12550430&page=1



Thursday, March 3, 2011

Does daylight savings time actually save energy?

The second Sunday in March marks the beginning of daylight savings time 2011. Congress declared an earlier start date for daylight savings time five years ago, believing that stretching the period would save power. A provision in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 enacted the change, but whether it has produced energy savings is disputed.

Daylight saving time approaching means one less hour in the day

Dealing with daylight conserving time 2011 can be a hassle for every person in the U.S. except those living in Hawaii and Arizona. On March thirteen, at 2 a.m., every person will have to move their clocks forward an hour. The reason why daylight conserving time occurs is to save energy. This has been the case since Germany wanted to save on coal in World War I starting this tradition. The need for electric lighting goes down when an additional hour of day is added with daylight conserving time. Many compare daylight conserving time to cutting off an end of a rope and adding it to another end by manipulating clocks. Since industries in retail and outdoor recreation get benefits from daylight conserving time, farming and entertainment end up having a difficult time with it making it controversial.

Benefits of energy conserving

To encourage energy savings, a provision in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended the period of daylight conserving time by four weeks. The change amended the Uniform Time Act of 1966, and the earlier “spring forward” time was first enacted on March 11, 2007. Those in charge of writing the Energy Policy Act of 2005 said there would be energy savings due to this extension. The savings would be of 1 percent. However, a study in Indiana after that state put all counties on daylight conserving time in 2006 found a net decrease in energy savings. Converting the entire state to daylight saving time cost Indiana households an additional $8.6 million in utility bills because of higher heating costs in the morning and higher air conditioning costs in the afternoon.

Seeing the things people want and don't want with Daylight conserving time

Because of sleep deprivation, there is actually a rise in heart attacks during the first week of daylight savings even though it may not save energy. Fatal vehicle crashes and automobile collisions with pedestrians end up going down because of daylight saving time though.

Articles cited

U.S. News and World Report

health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/sleep/articles/2009/03/03/13-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-daylight-saving-time

Wall Street Journal

online.wsj.com/public/article/SB120406767043794825.html

Wikipedia

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Policy_Act_of_2005



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Disguised man robs casino of chips, escapes in taxi cab

Twice in 2 months now, casino security has failed. A man with a disguise walked into a casino in Vegas. The person just walked in and walked out. The thief walked in, walked out with $35,000 in chips. The chosen getaway automobile was a taxicab. Resource for this article – Disguised man robs Vegas casino of chips, escapes in taxi by MoneyBlogNewz.

Male robs Rio gambling establishment with gun

The riches of the Rio casino in LV are well known. On Thursday night, a male wearing a fedora, sunglasses and fake mustache simply walked to the casino and grabbed chips off a table. The dealer tried to stop the man from taking the chips. The thief then showed a gun to the dealer. The masked thief then walked out the front door, got into a taxi and escaped the scene.

Plans that are simple paying off probably the most

Much like the Bellagio robbery last month, this robbery seems to have integrated very little planning. The thief simply donned a dime-store disguise, walked in the front door, brandished a weapon, took the chips and walked out. What the cab driver was paid in is not known right now. It might have been in casino chips though. The man that robbed the Bellagio was caught quickly. It took less than a month to do.

Tracking casino chips

Many people will still casino chips. Casinos, however, have ways to protect themselves. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are put in the high-value chips while putting tags in all chips has been considered by casinos. The value of the chips doesn’t remain the exact same. A "final redemption" period is done every few years where the chips will not be worth anything after it is over so the new chips can come in with new values. Someone who steals chips has to turn them back into money somehow like selling them online, redeeming them in casinos or other means.

Citations

Yahoo

news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110224/us_nm/us_casino_robbery



Bush house targeted by Aldawsari, Saudi bomber

Aldawsari, a Saudi student in Texas, has been arrested and accused of planning a bombing. Federal agents said that Aldawsari had been preparing on targeting Bush. A chemical business first discovered “suspicious purchases.” They reported the purchaser to the police, who involved the FBI. Source of article – Saudi student Bush home bomb plot: Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari accused by MoneyBlogNewz.

The arrest of Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari

The criminal arrest of Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari occurred on Wednesday. FBI agents made the arrest. A bomb plot that was focusing on the residence of the Bush family was being created by the South Plains College pupil that has been, since 2008, in the U.S. Aldawasri is accused of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. There were 2 searches the FBI did of Aldawsari's apartment. They found a Hazmat suit, clocks, wiring and concentrated acids.

Bush home bomb plot funded by scholarships

Plans for “Jihad … (that will) target the infidel Americans” were found by the FBI in a notebook they believe was Aldawsari. A scholarship was awarded to Aldawsari. This was used even with his plans in the United States to carry out "Jihad" as the notebook states. In addition to attending school, Aldawsari made an effort to learn English and how to make explosives. Allegedly, Aldawsari sent himself e-mails identifying potential targets that integrated homes of U.S. military troops, dams and previous President George W. Bush’s residence.

Federal officials criminal arrest Saudi student with chemical business help

Aldawsari came to the attention of federal officials when a chemical company reported him to the police. An attempted purchase Aldawsari made was noticed as it was of concentrated phenol. An explosive component, picric acid, can be made with phenol. Aldawsari claimed the chemical was for “off-campus, personal research.”. The behavior was considered suspicious by the company. This is why the police were notified. There was an investigation opened by federal agents. This led to him quickly getting arrested. There is a hefty consequence for the Bush house bomb plot for the Saudi pupil if found guilty. He might end up in prison for life with a $250,000 fine. A public statement hasn't been made by former President Bush yet even though he knows about this.

Articles cited

MSNBC

msnbc.msn.com/id/41758705/ns/us_news-security/

New York Daily News

nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/02/24/2011-02-24_saudi_college_student_khalid_alim_aldawsari_accused_of_plotting_bomb_attack_on_g.html?r=news