COLUMN: Four ways to prepare for mega financial woes

February 17, 2012

NEW YORK, Feb 17 (Reuters) – Peter Orszag, former
budget director for the Obama Administration and now vice
chairman of global banking for Citigroup, sees a “trifecta” of
mega financial woes coming toward the end of the year that are
unlikely to be tackled by Congress before election day.

Prepaid cards gouge you to access your own money

February 13, 2012

By John Wasik

(Reuters) – Why should you pay to spend your own money? The newest generation of prepaid debit cards, which banks keep offering despite the growing chorus of advice to the unbanked against buying into them, often levy more fees than conventional credit cards. The latest indignities even include charges for adding money to your account.

Despite mortgage deal, housing still dicey

February 10, 2012

NEW YORK (Reuters) – In the wake of the just-announced landmark $25 billion settlement over dodgy mortgage practices, is it time to buy a home?

Why hedge funds don’t live up to their name

February 6, 2012

By John Wasik

(Reuters) – In theory, last year should have been a great time to be invested in a hedge fund. With markets gobsmacked by U.S. and euro zone crises, what better way to protect your money than to hedge against the market — the nominal premise behind a hedge fund? Managers can be defensive and pick the sectors or countries that will do well when most of the market is sour. There’s a big catch here: Success depends upon whether managers guess which sector won’t decline or manage to retreat to bonds at the right time.

Do big dividends signal big troubles?

February 3, 2012

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Last year, the dividend-growth strategy was a speedboat navigating the doldrums of the stock market.

Want to narrow the tax gap? Raise capital gains rate

January 27, 2012

By John Wasik

(Reuters) – If the president and Congress are serious about income equality and cutting huge breaks for the wealthy, they should raise the capital gains rate.

What the State of the Union means for your wallet

January 25, 2012

By John Wasik

(Reuters) – While Americans might get a little break in their payroll taxes through the end of this year, greater financial relief for workers will be elusive. After the State of the Union speech by President Obama on Tuesday night, it’s clear that the wizard will still be hiding behind the curtain.

Lazy returns: How my Nano portfolio beat the S&P 500

January 23, 2012

By John Wasik

(Reuters) – I’ve never thought that laziness could be a virtue, but when it comes to investing, it’s often advantageous. You can trade too much and become too pre-occupied with the headlines and business TV shows. It can drive you crazy and you’ll lose lots of money making bad decisions.

Underwater homes deal may be economy’s saving grace

January 20, 2012

By John Wasik

(Reuters) – You’re underwater on your mortgage and falling behind on payments. You may lose your home. Can you negotiate with your lender to reduce your principal?

5 reasons to invest in 2012

January 17, 2012

By John Wasik

(Reuters) – If you want to be optimistic about investing this year – and there are plenty of reasons to be – you need to understand the tale of two economies.