Archive for April 2011

Japan power crisis could benefit coal ETFs Available energy sources needed to offset supply constraints(MarketWatch)   Leave a comment

Posted April 28, 2011 by ilanamelissagreene in Uncategorized

Are Bad People Actually Good? (Business Insider)   Leave a comment

 
 
 
 
 
 What motivates a person to break the rules? Why do people perpetrate frauds? Is it to achieve success? Is it to gain wealth or power? Do fraudulent people operate independently? Are they encouraged by society or others? Unfortunately, good and bad people alike are capable of evil deeds, such as falsifying credit cards or even scientific results. The spectrum is wide, and it is interesting to delve beneath the surface.

One example is Harvard Professor Mark D. Hauser, the author of the upcoming book “Evilicous: Explaining Our Evolved Taste For Being Bad”, who was, ironically, found to be “solely responsible” for eight instances of scientific misconduct by an internal university investigation in August 2010. Harvard has not divulged many details, but Hauser has been found guilty of eight different accounts of scientific fraud involving fabricating reports with bogus and exaggerated data.  Within the scientific community, few acts are taken as seriously.

Hauser’s story is an interesting one: To the best of public knowledge, Hauser had no accomplices in these acts. A typically well-quoted professor, Hauser refused to answer any questions concerning his research. In the end, however, a group of scientists came forward to state that Hauser had been habitually reporting false data and using his power and authority to ensure the embellished statistics were published. In a nutshell, this is a well-respected professor who turns to do just about anything to maintain his status. A plethora of researchers stated that Hauser would report false data and use his power and authority to ensure that the embellished statistics were published.

Of course, scientists aren’t the only ones creating crimes. In the credit card realm, we witness evil on a daily basis. According to the U.S. Secret Service, in fiscal 2009, fraud loss from credit card and identity theft totaled $443 million.

Consider the case of San Francisco’s Timothy Truoung, who has been sentenced to jail for duplicating a number of stolen credit cards and making illegal online purchases. In order to protect himself from getting caught, Truoung would go online and the check the status of the cards he stole. In truth, however, the cards were so well designed that store employees and card issuers that worked with cards everyday were not able to notice the difference for quite some time.

With such limited information, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes Truong a bad person—greed, necessity, mental disorder or the like. Regardless, our own court system has stated clearly that he is a “menace and a threat to society.” After all, this is not Truong’s first offense—he has been engaged in illegal activity since as early as 1992.
Maybe Truough once started out good, but—through a series of unfortunate events—was pressured into treacherous waters? Do we all have a bad streak deep down inside? It’s hard to know for sure. Perhaps all we can do, each day, is allow for a moment of deep introspection—something to check as to whether we, as individuals, are following our own moral compass.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/are-bad-people-actually-good-2011-4#ixzz1Ka6bB4qQ

Posted April 25, 2011 by ilanamelissagreene in Uncategorized

Consumer Spending Drove 3.1% Fourth-Quarter Growth (Business Insider)   Leave a comment

 

The economy is slowly picking up, and consumers are beginning to spend again. According to the revised estimate by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, real gross domestic product rose 3.1% in the fourth quarter of 2010. This marks the 6th consecutive quarter of growth. Consumer spending, which is 70% of the economy, rose 4%, the largest percentage rise since the fourth quarter of 2006.  The increase in the price of goods is accelerating also. Growth tripled, rising 2.1% in the fourth quarter, compared with a .7% rise in the third.

In a survey done by Mastercard Worldwide in Mid-December, 61% of consumers had no intention to reduce their spending this year. This is a significant change in attitude from the recession, and consumers who are re-entering the job market or worrying less about the safety of their jobs may be starting to act on their pent-up demand But even as purchasers’ spending patterns change, consumers are still actively looking for sales.

As per the MasterCard survey, 59% of shoppers whose incomes ranged from $35,000 to $50,000 had no intention to reduce their spending in 2011, and 57% of consumers who had an income of $50,000 to $75,000 were also not cutting back. The figure for shoppers making $100,000 to $150,000 was 73%.  In general, consumers were a lot less restrictive about their spending decisions.

Consumers’ mindsets have changed when it comes to shopping, and the way credit cards are being used has also slightly shifted post-recession. Consumer spending patterns are highly correlated with the number of credit cards issued. Banks are setting aside less money for defaults, which is another indicator that the credit card situation is better.  When the economy hit rock bottom, issuers no longer gave out generous credit card offers, and consumers began using debit cards or cash payments.

Now, credit card companies are making up for lost profits. American Express saw a 48% increase in profits in the fourth quarter, earning $1.06 billion. According to the New York-based company on January 19th, preliminary results were released showing total revenue increased by 13% to $7.3 billion, partly because of a 15% rise in cardholder spending.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/consumer-spending-drove-31-fourth-quarter-growt-2011-4#ixzz1KE0GUa7W

Posted April 22, 2011 by ilanamelissagreene in Uncategorized

Consumer Spending Drove 3.1% Fourth-Quarter Growth (Business Insider)   Leave a comment

The economy is slowly picking up, and consumers are beginning to spend again. According to the revised estimate by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, real gross domestic product rose 3.1% in the fourth quarter of 2010. This marks the 6th consecutive quarter of growth. Consumer spending, which is 70% of the economy, rose 4%, the largest percentage rise since the fourth quarter of 2006.  The increase in the price of goods is accelerating also. Growth tripled, rising 2.1% in the fourth quarter, compared with a .7% rise in the third.

In a survey done by Mastercard Worldwide in Mid-December, 61% of consumers had no intention to reduce their spending this year. This is a significant change in attitude from the recession, and consumers who are re-entering the job market or worrying less about the safety of their jobs may be starting to act on their pent-up demand But even as purchasers’ spending patterns change, consumers are still actively looking for sales.

As per the MasterCard survey, 59% of shoppers whose incomes ranged from $35,000 to $50,000 had no intention to reduce their spending in 2011, and 57% of consumers who had an income of $50,000 to $75,000 were also not cutting back. The figure for shoppers making $100,000 to $150,000 was 73%.  In general, consumers were a lot less restrictive about their spending decisions.

Consumers’ mindsets have changed when it comes to shopping, and the way credit cards are being used has also slightly shifted post-recession. Consumer spending patterns are highly correlated with the number of credit cards issued. Banks are setting aside less money for defaults, which is another indicator that the credit card situation is better.  When the economy hit rock bottom, issuers no longer gave out generous credit card offers, and consumers began using debit cards or cash payments.

Now, credit card companies are making up for lost profits. American Express saw a 48% increase in profits in the fourth quarter, earning $1.06 billion. According to the New York-based company on January 19th, preliminary results were released showing total revenue increased by 13% to $7.3 billion, partly because of a 15% rise in cardholder spending.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/consumer-spending-drove-31-fourth-quarter-growt-2011-4#ixzz1KDyq7S3i

Posted April 22, 2011 by ilanamelissagreene in Uncategorized

Top 6 List: Celebs With The Worst Money Problems (Business Insider)   Leave a comment

The rich and famous are just like us. Even if they are winning awards left and right, earning six-, seven- or eight- figure incomes and releasing platinum records galore, they still manage to get into financial messes and don’t know how to get out. Here are some of the latest examples:
1. Who is the meanest girl in town these days? It might be the credit card companies when it comes to dealing with LiLo’s debt. Lindsay Lohan’s not-so-much-to-speak-of career can’t pay for her expensive partying habits. She has even resorted to stealing high-end jewelry, whether to seek attention or because of serious brokeness. Lohan had $600,000 in credit card debt in 2010, according to Radar Online, and was reportedly 2 months late on her $11,500-a-month rent until her landlord threatened to evict her, according to TMZ. Perhaps Lohan can apply her disciplined eating habits to a more structured financial plan? We all know she knows how to get skinny.

2. Rihanna mentions masochism in a number of her songs. “I try to run but I don’t wanna ever leave,” she sang in “Love the Way You Lie Part 2” with Eminem. She allegedly tried to run from a debt to her personal trainer, too, according to The Frisky. She hired a $1,500-a-day trainer and did not pay the $30,000 bill, the trainer told news media.

3. Corey Haim might have gotten famous too early, without learning how to handle his money. Haim was “The Most Famous teenager in the world,” and got addicted to drugs at 15. Heim was remembered for his famous movie ” Lost Boys.” He died broke at age 38 after what authorities called an accidental drug overdose. In 1997, he was $100,000 in debt — partially in credit cards — with an additional $100,000 owed in taxes. He was so desperate that in 2001 he tried to sell his hair and one of his molars on eBay.

4. Tori Spelling — Was it Daddy’s help all along? Tori’s dad, Aaron Spelling, created the popular American drama series Beverly Hills 90210. At the time everybody said the only reason she was even on the show was because it was her dad’s show — I mean, she played the only character of the show that was saving her virginity until marriage. She certainly played daddy’s little girl — how much did he help her out with her finances in real life? As soon as Tori started her own show, she went broke. I guess too much plastic surgery and shoes do not do a body or credit card good. Tori, like a good girl that she is, got it together. Donna Martin might be daddy’s little girl after all.

5. Courtney Love is said to be the “most controversial woman in rock history.” The credit card companies might agree with this, and certainly do not love dealing with her. Love was sued by American Express in 2009 over $350,000 in unpaid bills. Love, for her part, claimed identity theft And it’s possible she could be a fraud victim. Celebrities can be tempting targets for identity theives.

6. Jay-Z — this one took me by surprise. He is certainly raking in the cash in real life. He is one of the most successful hip hot artist and entrepreneurs in American history, worth over $450 million. Even so, for some reason he keeps getting himself into some financial blunders. Excess might be his problem. Twenty-two private jet flights totaling $137,485 is expensive. He couldn’t pay this bill. ESPN reported that he was asked to reimburse the $50,000 fine levied on the Nets by the NBA after he visited the University of Kentucky locker room right after the WIldcats got a spot in the NCAA Final Four. (As a part-owner of the Nets, Jay-Z is barred from having contact with intercollegiate basketball players.)

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/top-6-list-celeb-with-the-worst-money-problems-2011-4#ixzz1KDxjQcB5

Posted April 22, 2011 by ilanamelissagreene in Uncategorized

Chip And PIN Cards Finally Coming To U.S. (Business Insider)   Leave a comment

One of the best ways to see the quaint streets and towering monuments of Paris is by bicycle. For a mere euro per half-hour, you can rent one in any Parisian neighborhood — unless you’re using an American credit card.

The Velib’ bike rental system is just one of many travel conveniences unavailable to most Americans because their magnetic strip-based credit cards are obsolete. Many kiosk systems abroad, like gas pumps and metro ticket machines, cannot read American credit cards. But at long last, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase are helping the United States catch up with the rest of the developed world by offering cards embedded with microchips. The so-called “Chip and PIN” technology is old news in not only in Europe but in countries like Japan, Canada, China, Mexico and Brazil.

In a pilot program, Wells Fargo will test microchip-embedded cards with 15,000 customers it considers frequent travelers, including college students and some of its private banking clients. The bank plans to send out the cards in a few months. JPMorgan Chase is adding microchips to its ultrahigh-end Palladium card. And some credit unions around the country, including the State Employees’ Credit Union of Raleigh, N.C., are starting to offer debit cards with a chip. The United Nations Federal Credit Union in New York has offered such credit cards for about a year, according to The New York Times.

The chip technology, called EMV, helps reduce fraud and has an embedded microprocessor that contains the information needed to make payments. A PIN must be entered with each purchase. One reason the U.S. has not yet adapted the technology may be that it has not had as many credit card fraud problems as other countries, reported The Times, which also speculated that the looming cuts to credit card swipe fees could cause banks to give EMV chips a closer look.

Until the U.S catches up, what’s an international traveler to do?  Travelex, the currency converter, offers prepaid debit cards called Cash Passports, some of which feature EMV chips. Travelers can choose from a number of local currencies and use the card at retailers, ATMs and anywhere else the locals can use a card. And since the balance is preloaded, the card can help travelers stick to their budget, too.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/chip-and-pin-cards-finally-coming-to-us-2011-4#ixzz1KDwjKnMc

Posted April 22, 2011 by ilanamelissagreene in Uncategorized

The Best Balance Transfer Deals Right Now (Business Insider)   Leave a comment

Are you looking to save money and pay down your debt faster? One way to do this is to transfer your balances to a 0% interest balance transfer card.

If you are a current or former employee of the Armed Forces or the Defense Department or a family member of an employee, you may be eligible for a fee-free balance transfer with 0% interest through the Navy Federal Credit Union. For the rest of us, the best balance transfer deal on offer right now is the Citi Platinum Select Mastercard, according to Credit-Land.com.

The Navy Federal offer is open to new and existing cardholders. Transferred balances up to $30,000 will accrue no interest for 12 months, and there is no fee. The offer applies to a variety of Navy Federal cards with varying interest rates on purchases.

“This is an unprecedented offer in the card industry today,” Randy Hopper, Navy Federal’s credit card portfolio manager, said in a statement. “While other issuers have 0% balance transfer rate offerings, they typically include a balance transfer fee of 3% to 7%, which can cost cardholders up to $350 on a $5,000 balance, but Navy Federal’s offer has no fees.”

Thus far, he seems to be right. But the Citi Platinum Select Mastercard comes in at the low end of the fee scale at 3% or $5, whichever is greater. And its introductory period is one of the longest available. Your transferred balance — and your purchases, too — will be interest-free for 21 months.

Obviously nothing beats an interest-free, fee-free balance transfer, but this card can still save you a hefty amount in the long run if you transfer a large balance. If you leave that $5,000 balance Hopper mentions on a card with an 18% APR, you’ll pay $1,575 in interest in 21 months, compared with a $150 fee if you make the transfer. And since your money won’t be going to interest payments, you can pay that balance off faster.

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Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-best-balance-transfer-deals-right-now-2011-4#ixzz1KDvbG0bz

Posted April 22, 2011 by ilanamelissagreene in Uncategorized