Money $marts: Walk off those hunger pains
Published 05/04/2011 at 9:03 a.m.
By law, the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States — the Fed — is responsible for maximizing employment and minimizing inflation, tasks that are basically mutually exclusive.
Money $marts: Economy or first class retirement?
Published 04/27/2011 at 10:10 a.m.
Some 20 years ago, Georgia State University in collaboration with Aon Consulting began analyzing post retirement expenses and income needs. Adjusting for taxes and imputing a “comfortable” standard of living, a 70 to 80 percent of pre-retirement income requirement was ...
Money $marts: Is your tax refund too big?
Published 04/20/2011 at 10 a.m.
Early in his career, Professor Milton Friedman, a Nobel Prize winning economist, was instrumental in devising our income tax withholding system. Friedman, an ardent advocate of limited government, is said to have, in hindsight, deeply regretted his creative work since ...
Money $marts: We can reach energy independence, but many roadblocks are preventing it
Published 04/13/2011 at 9:34 a.m.
Almost 40 years ago, a cartel of Arab nation oil producers instituted an embargo on sales to the U.S. and simultaneously increased by a factor of four the per barrel price inducing a U.S. recession. Since then we have had ...
Money $marts: Stuff happens, so insurance is a necessary evil
Published 04/06/2011 at 10:12 a.m.
I really dislike paying for insurance. Why pay for an event that probably won’t happen? With hindsight I always think of the money that could have been saved since I didn’t get sick, crash the car or die. But I ...
Money $marts: These are taxing times
Published 03/23/2011 at 10:47 a.m.
The IRS commissioner, Douglas Shulman, has admitted publicly that he hires a tax preparation professional because the “tax code is too complicated.” No doubt. The Federal Tax Code contains some 20,000 pages of confusing terminology, arcane rules and complicated credit ...
Money $marts: China will be collecting its ‘vig,’ one way or another
Published 03/16/2011 at 11 a.m.
Anyone familiar with “Soprano speak” or the methods of loan sharks has heard the term “vig.” It refers to the amount of loan interest which must be paid to the lender each week the debt remains outstanding. The vig is ...
Money $marts: To fee or not to fee
Published 03/09/2011 at 1:41 p.m.
Airlines took in some $22 billion in add-on fees (checked baggage, meals, ticket changes, etc.) last year. Naturally, they are considering other services where fees might apply. Here’s a list of my possibilities. Most of them are meant to be ...
Money $marts: How many politicians does it take to change a light bulb?
Published 03/02/2011 at 9:58 a.m.
There’s an old joke of derision that asks the question: How many (plug in ethnic group name) does it take to change a light bulb? The answer: four, one to hold the bulb, the other three to turn him.
Money $marts: BFF (best friends forever) without the F (forever)
Published 02/23/2011 at 9:48 a.m.
Historically, banks have vacillated between two customer strategies, relationship or transaction. The former generally involved selling more products to fewer customers; the latter, selling fewer products to more customers. The relationship strategy was prevalent up to the 1980s because most ...
Money $marts: ‘I’m so confused’ about my credit scores
Published 02/16/2011 at 9:52 a.m.
In his youth, the actor John Travolta appeared in a TV sitcom, “Welcome Back Kotter,” in which he played the role of high school student, Vinny Barbarino. Whenever events got too complicated for Vinny to process, his tag line was ...
Money $marts: How can I con thee?
Published 02/01/2011 at 3:27 p.m.
How can I con thee, let me count the ways. The first rule to follow: lead them astray. The promises made in the heat of battle, Discard as needed with nary a rattle.
Money $marts: Energy follies: Starve people, feed cars
Published 01/26/2011 at 9:57 a.m.
Rising food prices — the United Nations food benchmark index hit a record high in December — are fomenting unrest around the world particularly in developing countries dependent on food imports.
Money $marts: Spreading the pain of fees
Published 01/12/2011 at 9:55 a.m.
In some cultures money lenders are not allowed to charge interest. So how do they get a return on a loan? They charge a “fee.” Airlines, not wanting to alienate paying passengers with higher airfares, instead charge a “fee” for ...
Money $marts: Out of control control
Published 01/05/2011 at 10:12 a.m.
There are approximately 150,000 federal regulations contained in 50 volumes on the shelves of the Library of Congress, up from one volume (yes, one) in 1925. This does not include additional volumes that will contain the rules being formulated, as ...
Money $marts: To give or not to give
Published 12/15/2010 at 9:29 a.m.
Years ago when I worked for a big New York bank, you could always tell when the holidays were coming. In the lobby of the headquarters building, there would appear a giant billboard on which was a thermometer and its ...
Money $marts: The U.S. fiscal improvised explosive device
Published 12/08/2010 at 11:17 a.m.
Deficits, debt, spending and taxes are the recurring subjects of media headlines and debates. America has complicated economic problems that require action. Policy choices appear to be stark and in conflict.
Money $marts: On average, the temperature is fine
Published 11/30/2010 at 1:12 p.m.
Inflation is one of those economic terms easily misunderstood. Generally, of course, it is thought to mean rising prices. But price increases have many causes, most of which have little to do with real inflation.
Money $marts: The housing market continuing to drag down economy
Published 11/23/2010 at 2:31 p.m.
The law of markets states that production creates its own demand. This means producers produce so they can sell to other producers and thereby obtain the power to consume.
Money $marts: Cashing out vs. charging forward
Published 11/17/2010 at 10:13 a.m.
I was just in New York City visiting my youngest grandson and his mom and dad, too. I decided to take only cash with me. Actually, I took a credit card along, but vowed not to use it. I wanted ...
Money $marts: Why should taxpayers pay for others to drive electric cars
Published 11/09/2010 at 3:07 p.m.
There’s been a lot of press lately about the electric car (vehicle). EV’s are the transportation of the future, providing energy efficiency and lower operational costs. EV’s will move us toward energy independence; mitigate the onset of global warming; and ...
Money $marts: Veracity vitiates voter vacillation
Published 11/02/2010 at 1:51 p.m.
Its Election Day as this is written, so I do not know the outcome. If the polls are correct, however, voting Americans will once again “throw the incumbent bums out” replacing them with…new bums or, finally, truth tellers and realists.
Money $marts: Travelers benefit from airline competition
Published 10/26/2010 at 1:36 p.m.
One of the things unique about this country is the ability to pack up everything and move somewhere else and start over; can’t take Florida humidity anymore, head for Colorado; California fiscal self destruction getting you down, head for Wyoming.
Money $marts: The energy policy follies
Published 10/19/2010 at 12:18 p.m.
The economic policy makers in Washington have been messing things up royally. Both the Bush and Obama administrations are to blame for the “Great Recession” and not so great recovery. Sure the risk oblivious banks and financially illiterate subprime mortgage ...
Money $marts: Renting vs. buying a home — once again
Published 10/12/2010 at 1:56 p.m.
Over the past few years I have written several columns about the pros and cons of renting vs. buying a home, always concluding that renting is generally the better deal even when the housing boom was in full force. Now, ...
Money $marts: Monsters from the id
Published 10/05/2010 at 3:57 p.m.
One of my favorite movies is a ‘50s sci-fi flick, “Forbidden Planet.” It has a timeless philosophical appeal. The film, with great special effects and novel electronic music, details a 23rd century Earth-based spaceship’s visit to the planet Altair IV, ...
Money $marts: Too many rules ruin the game
Published 09/29/2010 at 10:26 a.m.
One of the government perpetuated myths of the “great recession” which, by the way, officially ended last year according to economists (who apparently still have jobs), is that deregulation of the financial industry allowed bankers to run amuck, taking on ...
Money $marts: Search for yield gets risky
Published 09/21/2010 at 10:28 a.m.
One of the recurring problems with having made the Federal Reserve bank responsible for full employment in the U.S. (1978 Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act) is the asymmetric market effects that results from the Fed’s interest rate policies in pursuit of ...
Money $marts: Currency trading not for the little guy
Published 09/14/2010 at 1:58 p.m.
One day in the early 70’s as an economist with a major New York global bank, I was called to the executive’s office to discuss the movements of the German mark U.S. dollar exchange rate.
Money $marts: The government spending scam
Published 09/08/2010 at 10:49 a.m.
Yet another spending plan has been hatched by the government as a jobs creator. It’s not a stimulus, mind you. That word has now been banned from talking points.
Money $marts: The government is hurting us by helping
Published 09/01/2010 at 11:33 a.m.
A proverbial piece of advice: what’s the response when someone knocks on your door and says “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”? Run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.
Money $marts: The new ‘norm’
Published 08/25/2010 at 10:38 a.m.
Since the Great Depression (1929-1933), the U.S. economy has experienced 13 recessions including the recent one. The shortest was six months long. The recent downturn, officially begun in December 2007, was the second longest on record; the 1980-82 recession was ...
Money $marts: Here come the credit card fees
Published 08/17/2010 at 3:50 p.m.
Last year, Congress passed the “Card Act” (short version of the real name) aimed at curtailing some of the more egregious consumer credit card policies derived by banks to extract additional revenues from their irresponsible and available balance challenged customers. ...
Money $marts: Tips for money management at college
Published 08/11/2010 at 10:20 a.m.
I was sitting at the local Starbucks having my usual essential morning caffeine ingestion when I overheard an adjacent table conversation. Mom and Dad were talking finances with their daughter who, apparently, was almost off to college.
Money $marts: The wary tortoise wins the race
Published 08/03/2010 at 4:12 p.m.
Years ago I worked for a large financial institution in New York. Excellent benefits included an employee retirement plan to which the bank contributed about 15 percent of its profits annually. Individual employees could add to their allocated profit share ...
Money $marts: They don’t know what they’re doing
Published 07/27/2010 at 1:20 p.m.
Unless you’re living on an isolated island somewhere without access to any news, the continuing weak economy has not escaped your notice. Perhaps too, you have been perusing the news channels hoping to get some pertinent information as to the ...
Money Smarts: Body mass? You'll have to know your BMI
Published 07/24/2010 at 9:53 a.m.
What’s your BMI (body mass index)? Buried in the 1,000-page stimulus and 2,800-page health care bills are little known provisions. The specific rules adjoining them have yet to be written by the thousands of new government regulators being hired for ...
Money Smarts: The risk of politicizing insurance
Published 07/18/2010 at 8:29 a.m.
Basically, the insurance business is one of pricing risk. To do this, analysts (called actuaries) review the history of relevant events, current trends and potential changes in the future.
Money Smarts: Clunkers and bunkers are flunkers
Published 07/09/2010 at 7:45 a.m.
“We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work ... after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... and an ...
Money Smarts: Today as yesterday ... greenhouse gas monitor is coming
Published 07/01/2010 at 1:56 p.m.
This column is an update of a July 2008 article. Write to email@example.com
Money Smarts: It’s ‘whack a mole’ on bank fees
Published 06/25/2010 at 1:08 p.m.
In the kid’s game, “whack a mole,” the animals keep popping up from holes while, to score points, players try to whack them with a mallet. Hitting the moles gets more difficult as the speed of the game accelerates. After ...
Money Smarts: Only accountability can reduce risk
Published 06/17/2010 at 1:42 p.m.
All activities involving people have risk; humans make mistakes.
Money Smarts: Obama the punisher
Published 06/10/2010 at 2:43 p.m.
In the US, there are three million people in jail punished for breaking the behavioral rules of society. That’s about one percent of the population. We don’t assume from these “bad apples” that the other 99 percent of citizens are ...
Money Smarts: Credit scores and credit
Published 06/03/2010 at 3:26 p.m.
Historically, when it comes to obtaining credit, the pendulum always swings back and forth between easy and difficult. When flush with cheap money and an expanding economy, banks will make more loans (mortgages, credit cards, car purchases, home equity, etc.) ...
Money Smarts: Absorbing energy smarts
Published 05/27/2010 at 1:12 p.m.
Debates about energy often get testy. That’s because the arguments are usually clouded by emotions. The number one reason people buy mileage efficient hybrid cars, for example, is that it makes them feel good about themselves; the purchase provides for ...
Money Smarts: More regulations hurt the economy
Published 05/20/2010 at 7:34 a.m.
The Obama administration is on track to become the biggest regulator in executive branch history. New or enhanced rules will be applied to all sorts of personal and business activities. For example, with Obamacare legislation getting passed by Congress, the ...
Gerald Kramer: Money Smarts ... planes, blades and cell phones
Published 05/12/2010 at 5:11 p.m.
Retail marketers have plenty of tricks to get you to buy merchandise. A sale, for example, attempts to get you into the store where you will hopefully buy other non sale items. Then there are the “valued customer cards” which ...
GERALD KRAMER: Money Smarts - Definition of financial world’s derivatives
Published 05/05/2010 at 5:53 p.m.
Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, is in the news these days because of some transactions undertaken with a client who had a bad feeling about the subprime mortgage market. The client thought that the market was ripe for a downward ...
GERALD KRAMER: Money Smarts - Trashing the spending culture
Published 04/28/2010 at 4:41 p.m.
There’s a strong argument for the cause of the economic meltdown, now commonly referred to as the “Great Recession,” being ourselves. In the years leading up to the crisis, Americans were on a debt tear.
GERALD KRAMER: Money Sports - The pseudo science of economics
Published 04/21/2010 at 4:32 p.m.
I watch the news every night starting with the networks and then going to cable, where I switch channels intermittently to capture the latest opinions on events. It’s an activity that is fraught with frustration mainly because of the lack ...