Posts belonging to Category Personal Finance



Lehman Brothers went bust 10 years ago

Can it happen again?

In early 2007, the then chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, dismissed the idea that the slowdown in the US housing market had profound implications. It was, according to the man running the world’s most powerful central bank, just a local affair. Everybody knows what happened next. Within 18 months the local problem in the US subprime mortgage market had ballooned into the biggest global financial crisis since the 1930s. When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt 10 years ago this week, it was the catalyst for a month of turmoil in which no financial institution was considered entirely safe.

Inevitably, the anniversary of those tumultuous weeks in late September and early October 2008 has prompted speculation about whether it could happen again. And, if so, what will be the cause? Looking around the global economy, there are plenty of potential candidates…

Bernie Sanders wants to slap a special tax on Amazon

“Wages are so low, employees forced to depend on food stamps”

Senator Bernie Sanders wants to slap a special tax on Amazon and other big companies that employ workers who collect food stamps and other public assistance. But Amazon disputes Sanders’ depiction, saying its pay and benefits are competitive with other retailers. The progressive icon from Vermont has been on the attack lately, posting a series of Facebook videos over the past week calling out Amazon (AMZN) and Walmart (WMT) for not paying a living wage, which he lists in some posts as $15 an hour. In one video, titled “Get Amazon Off of Corporate Welfare,” he highlighted that CEO Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest person and earns $260 million a day, while many of his workers are on food stamps.

“Mr. Bezos continues to pay many thousands of his Amazon employees wages that are so low that they are forced to depend on taxpayer-funded programs, such as food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing in order to survive,” Sanders said in the video, stressing that taxpayers foot the bill for these benefits. “Frankly, I don’t believe that ordinary Americans should be subsidizing the wealthiest people in the world because they pay their employees inadequate wages.”
http://www.cnn.com

62% of America’s Jobs Pay Less Than $20 Per Hour

US has 130 million jobs overall

Almost two-thirds of America’s jobs aren’t paying a cent more than $20 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That means 62 percent of the nation’s jobs offer their employees less than $41,600 a year! The BLS report (h/t Horizon Credit Union) notes that the US has 130 million jobs overall.  Of those positions, 18 million pay less than $10 an hour and a startling 63 million pay between $10 and $20. Add it all up and you’ve got 81 million jobs (out of 130 million) paying their workers less than $20. This includes administrative assistants, personal care aides, and retail workers.

Employers that offer a more generous salary, more than $42,000 a year, make up about 38 percent of the nation’s jobs. According to CNN Money, 27 million jobs offer an hourly pay between $20 and $30. That includes plumbers, office supervisors, electricians, and insurance sales agents — all four positions have an hourly pay that hover around $24 an hour, an annual salary of about $50,000.

https://www.madamenoire.com/

Wage floor for Uber’s ride-hail drivers

The goal is to pay drivers $17.22 an hour, or $15 an hour after expenses like gas.

The New York City council passed first-of-its-kind legislation this afternoon setting a wage floor for ride-hail drivers and capping the number of ride-hail vehicles in the city. Below, our story from before the historic vote.

Uber drivers make about as much money as minimum wage workers.

In some cases they can even make less. That’s because Uber drivers are considered independent contractors, rather than employees, and aren’t protected under federal, state, and local minimum wage laws.

Uber drivers aren’t being recognized as employees (that legal battle is ongoing). But in New York City, the city council is poised to pass a package of bills that, for the first time ever, would set a wage floor for Uber drivers and their peers in the ride-hail industry.

https://qz.com/

Amazon earnings skyrocket

Unlike Facebook

Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) forecast strong fall sales and posted a profit that was double Wall Street targets on Thursday thanks to the retailer’s younger, higher-earning businesses, including cloud computing and advertising.

Shares rose more than 3 percent in after-hours trade. The report was a relief to investors in the U.S. technology sector, still reeling from a profit warning by Facebook Inc (FB.O) Wednesday that plunged its stock 19 percent.

Amazon’s report shows how the world’s largest online retailer has increasingly learned to compensate for the high costs of fast package delivery and video streaming by controlling expenses and building up higher-profit businesses. It was the first mover in the business of selling data storage and computing power in the cloud, a bet that continues to reap rewards and give it the leeway to invest in grand projects.

For instance, the company is working to ship food from Whole Foods Market stores across the United States, in an ambitious attempt to bring groceries into the age of online retail.

http://www.reuters.com

Venezuela’s inflation rate may hit 1,000,000 percent

Hyperinflation in Venezuela

 When the International Monetary Fund predicted this year that hyperinflation in Venezuela could top 13,000 percent, it seemed as if the South American country’s economic outlook could not get any worse.

It just did. With the situation in the country deteriorating faster than expected, the IMF has unveiled a far more severe prognosis, saying that Venezuela’s hyperinflation is poised to reach an annualized rate of 1 million percent by year’s end. That inflation rate is set to catapult socialist Venezuela into a rogue’s gallery of nations that have suffered the worst inflation rates in history.

Venezuela’s “is one of the most severe hyperinflation situations that we’ve known about since the beginning of the 20th century,” said Robert Rennhack, deputy director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department.

http://www.washingtonpost.com

Nigeria and India, champions of the extreme poverty in the world

Nigeria overtakes India

Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, with an estimated 87 million Nigerians, or around half of the country’s population, thought to be living on less than $1.90 a day. The findings, based on a projection by the World Poverty Clock and compiled by Brookings Institute, show that more than 643 million people across the world live in extreme poverty, with Africans accounting for about two-thirds of the total number.

In Nigeria, as with other countries on the continent, that figure is projected to rise. “By the end of 2018 in Africa as a whole, there will probably be about 3.2 million more people living in extreme poverty than there are today,” the researchers write.
Despite being the largest oil producer in Africa, Nigeria has struggled to translate its resource wealth into rising living standards.

Economic Ponzi Scheme

Financial disaster is quickly forgotten

Consider two economic systems. In one, consumers work for employers to produce products and services. The employees are paid wages and salaries, and business owners earn profits. They use much of that income to purchase the goods and services produced by the economy. They save the remainder. A certain portion of the output represents “investment” goods, which are not consumed, and the portion of income not used for consumption – what we call “saving” – is used to directly or indirectly purchase those investment goods. There may be some goods that are produced and are not purchased, in which case they become unintended “inventory investment,” but in a general sense, this first economic system is a well-functioning illustration of what we call “circular flow” or “general equilibrium.” As is always the case in the end, income equals expenditure, savings equal investment, and output is absorbed either as consumption or investment.
The second economic system is dysfunctional. Consumers work for employers to produce goods and services, but because of past labor market slack, weak bargaining power, and other factors, they are paid meaningfully less than they actually need to meet their consumption plans. The government also runs massive deficits, partly to supplement the income and medical needs of the public, partly to purchase goods and services from corporations, and partly to directly benefit corporations by cutting taxes on profits (despite being the only country in the OECD where corporations pay no value-added tax).

https://www.seekingalpha.com/

The richest families in the world

33 rich people listed by the Sunday Times

The Sunday Times has published its much-anticipated Sunday Times Rich List for 2018, which ranks the wealthiest people in Britain, as well as the rest of the world— and it gives readers a sneak peek into the net worth of some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, self-made billionaires, and family groups.

https://www.businessinsider.com/

Five top stock ideas

Big gains

Morgan Stanley revealed its favorite stock picks to its clients, predicting big gains for several stocks this year.

These are “the firm’s best stock recommendations,” Morgan Stanley’s research team wrote Wednesday. “Selection criteria is simple – stocks that we expect to outperform the market in the next 3-6 months based on specific catalysts such as a change in industry fundamentals, a positive EPS surprise, or new product introduction.”

https://www.cnbc.com/

Medicare for All

Poll Says Majority of Americans Prefer ‘Medicare For All’ Health Care

A growing number of Americans now support the idea of federally-funded healthcare, according to a new poll conducted by Gallup measuring response to each of the three remaining Presidential candidates’ proposed healthcare policies.

When presented with three different scenarios for the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), based on the candidates’ positions, 58 percent of U.S. adults favored Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ idea of replacing the law with a single-payer, federally-funded healthcare system that provides insurance for all Americans.

For this poll, Gallup surveyed a random sample of 1,549 adults between May 6 and May 8 of this year about which of the three candidates’ healthcare policies they preferred, without using any of their names. The majority expressed a preference for Sanders’ proposal to replace the ACA with some form of the “Medicare for All” system, compared to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton‘s proposal to maintain the ACA and presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump‘s proposal to repeal it.

http://abcnews.go.com

Amazon is Eyeing the Banking Industry

How Amazon is planning to break into Wall Street

Banks have been warily watching Amazon.com Inc. for signs it would threaten their world. The tech giant’s latest move looks more like an opportunity — at least for one of them. A proposal to start offering a product similar to checking accounts is “for now not showing any signs of disrupting the industry,” Brian Foran, an analyst at Autonomous Research, said in a note to clients Monday. “While the ‘Amazon effect’ has dictated trading in several sectors, for banks it seems a much tamer story.”

Amazon is in talks with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Capital One Financial Corp. about the product, people familiar with the matter said Monday. The targets are millennial consumers, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. The strategy could help Amazon lower fees it pays to financial firms and give it a bigger window into customers’ income and spending habits. The Wall Street Journal reported the talks earlier Monday.

http://www.bloomberg.com…  March 07, 2018

Bull Market Heading for Major Correction in 2018, Bank of America Says

The bull market is showing signs of cracking

Bank of America Corp. (BACGet Report) says signs are growing that the eight-year-old bull market in stocks and risky assets could soon come to an end. And, as with all late-stage bull markets, the trick for investors is in getting the timing right. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, a key benchmark for U.S. stocks, could peak at 2,863 during the first half of 2018, Bank of America analysts predicted in a report. That’s 8% above current levels.

But the second half could bring mostly gloom for investors, as the Federal Reserve tightens financial conditions by raising interest rates and shrinking its balance sheet. Volatility — a measure of the size of daily price swings — could rise from this year’s unusually low levels. Inflation is likely to increase. Yields on corporate bonds could widen relative to those of U.S. Treasuries — an indicator of fading investor confidence in companies’ ability to repay their debt. “Signs of bubble-like behavior abound,” according to the report, which cited examples like record-high art prices, soaring Bitcoin prices and a 100-year-bond sale by Argentina, the South American nation that has defaulted on its debt eight times in the past 200 years. Next year “could represent the move toward euphoria, which typically heralds the end of a bull market.”

http://www.the street.com…  March 05, 2018

Stocks or Bonds: What Happens When Rates Rise?

Basic rules

Although there are no specific rules about how bonds and dividend-paying stocks respond to rising interest rates, there are some broad tendencies you may want to consider, suggests Mary Ann Bartels, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Portfolio Strategy.

With bonds, the “coupon rate” is the interest rate that an issuer uses to calculate regular interest payments to investors. The longer the term of a bond, the higher the coupon is likely to be; you’re paid more to wait longer to get your principal back. Higher risk, too, affects the coupon, with high-yield bonds from less solid companies offering more generous interest payments than you’ll get from higher-rated corporations or from U.S. Treasury bonds.

http://www.ml.com…  Febuary 23, 2018

Despite Trump’s attacks, Obamacare sign-ups dip only slightly

Millions of Americans opted to sign up for coverage on the exchanges for 2018 anyway

Some 11.8 million people selected plans on the federal and state-based exchanges, down 3.7% from last year, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy. The data, released Wednesday, provides the first look at sign-ups for 2018 nationwide. Just over 8.7 million people signed up on the federal exchange, while a little over 3 million picked plans in the 11 states and District of Columbia, which run their own marketplaces. Obamacare advocates had feared that sign-ups would plummet after the Trump administration cut the open enrollment period in half, slashed advertising by 90% and reduced support for enrollment assistance. Also, insurers hiked premiums for many plans amid the uncertainty in Washington, D.C. and President Trump’s elimination of funding for Obamacare’s cost-sharing subsidies. However, in a strange twist, richer federal premium subsidies actually made coverage more affordable for many people.

http://money.cnn.com...  Febuary 08, 2018

The store of the future

Inside Amazon Go

Long lines at checkout are common at grocery stores. But at Amazon’s new cashier-free store, you’ll only need to worry about clumps of tourists. The small test store in Seattle, which opened to the public for the first time on Monday, could be what automated shopping spaces will look like in the future. It uses cameras and sensors to detect what food you’ve taken from a shelf, then automatically charges you when you walk out. I stopped by to try out the store, located in the base of Amazon’s corporate skyscraper, on Thursday morning. Three days after its grand opening, the massive lines had mostly disappeared. There were only a handful of shoppers inside at 10:15 a.m., but business picked up at lunchtime and there was a short line to enter.

To walk in, you need a few things: an Amazon account, a recent smartphone, and the Amazon Go app. You enter the 1800-square-foot space through six high-tech turnstiles. Open the app and wave a code on your screen above a gate to open it. It’s a familiar experience to anyone who has ridden a subway or used a mobile boarding pass at the airport.

http://www.cnn.com…  January 29, 2018