Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
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Jun 16, 2011
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Is it time to worry about rising prices?


The economy is still too weak for us to be worrying about inflation. That seems to be the majority view of economists, who are more focused on the prospects of a U.S. government default, a still-struggling housing market and unemployment.

“We don’t think there is a big concern now in terms of rising inflation,” Brad Sorensen, director of market and sector analysis for Charles Schwab, told me in an interview, echoing a common view. “With unemployment relatively high, there’s no wage pressure, and until we see that, there’s not a huge threat of inflation,” he said. “The bond market continues to not show any worry about inflation,” observes Charles Rotblut of the American Association of Individual Investors.

Jun 15, 2011

Stern Advice: Read this before jumping on the ETF bandwagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some stories just seem to end up in the cosmic consciousness: blogged, tweeted and talked about in many different places at the same time. Right now, one of those story lines involves the big smackdown between traditional mutual funds and ETFs.

Several analysts have raised the idea that traditional mutual funds are dying and the future belongs to ETFs, which look like index funds but trade like stocks.

Jun 14, 2011
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Emerging markets: You don’t get what you pay for


Roughly $2 billion a month has been flowing into emerging market mutual funds recently, an amount that makes it one of the more popular destinations for nervous U.S. investors in recent weeks.

Underlying those investments are a couple of core beliefs:  (1) That China, India and other growing powerhouses will continue to deliver big returns to investors; and (2) That smart portfolio managers can suss out the best stocks in this space, justifying the higher costs of active management.

Jun 10, 2011
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Spas: Weak economy creates deals on feel-good services


There’s one industry that seems to have withstood the tough economy fairly well: the spa business. Maybe getting massaged helps us to forget what’s going on in the market.

Between 2007 and 2009, an additional 2,700 spas (including day spas, destination spas, medi-spas and more) opened in the U.S., bringing the total to 20,600, according to data gathered by PriceWaterhouseCoopers for the International Spa Association.

Jun 9, 2011

Analysis: Fee-only annuities try to ovecome bad rep

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – For decades, variable annuities have had a bad rap, dissed as fee-laden, overly expensive and “not bought but sold” to unsophisticated investors by commission-hungry brokers.

That was enough to turn off fee-only advisers who under a fiduciary standard of care must find the lowest-cost, best financial products for their clients.

Jun 8, 2011

Stern Advice: The latest in cheap, automated investment advice

WASHINGTON, June 8 (Reuters) – Sometimes, off-the-rack is
just what you need, especially when it comes to basic,
plain-vanilla investment portfolios.

It’s not like every pre-retiree has to reinvent the wheel
when it comes to assembling an investment plan; there’s wide
agreement about what that plan looks like. It’s a mix of stocks
and bonds, acquired at low cost, that is rebalanced regularly.
It tilts toward stocks when workers are younger and moves
toward bonds as they age.

Jun 8, 2011
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DIY investing gets more sophisticated


A number of relatively new websites are offering self-directed investors some pretty high-end portfolio management for small amounts of money, and that’s good for do-it-yourself investors.

But, as I report in my Stern Advice column today, they aren’t all created alike. Some offer advice and others don’t. Some cost more than others. You won’t know the players without a scorecard.

Jun 1, 2011

Stern Advice: Prepping your portfolio for the end of QE2

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Well, the world didn’t end on May 21, as some had predicted.

And the sky won’t fall when the Federal Reserve stops its quantitative-easing program, or QE2, according to many financial professionals.

May 31, 2011
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Housing crash: Is it time to buy low?


True confessions: I live in a bubble. Washington, D.C., the area I call home, appears to be one of the only two places in the country (the other being Seattle) where real estate is doing very well, thank you. So around me, I see home prices stable and rising, and houses getting sold within days of going on the market.

That’s not the case in most of the country, where home prices on average fell 0.8 percent in March, according to the S&P/Case Shiller survey released this morning. “Home prices continue on their downward spiral with no relief in sight,” David Blitzer of S&P, said in a statement. Home prices are at their lowest post-crash levels, with some areas retracing all the way back to 2002 levels.

May 26, 2011
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Parents want to help their kids, but when does it stop?


A weak job market for college and high-school graduates is continuing to drive young adults back into the households and onto the payrolls of their parents, a variety of surveys have confirmed.

Almost 60 percent of parents with non-student children between the ages of 18 and 39 have been helping their kids, according to a survey being released today by the National Endowment of Financial Education. A study released last month by found that more than half of all recent grads are living with their parents. And as much as 85 percent of the Class of 2011 expect to move back home, at least for a while, according to a study by market research firm Twentysomething Inc.

    • About Linda

      "Linda Stern is an award-winning personal finance journalist who loves to write about how the big picture affects your pocketbook. A former contributing editor at Newsweek magazine and a long-time Reuters columnist, Stern covers everything from credit cards to retirement planning to investing. As a Washington-based correspondent, she sneaks in as much tax and economic policy as her editors will allow. She tweets at And when she expresses opinions, they are her own and not those of her employer."
      Joined Reuters:
      October 2010
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