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Jun 22, 2011

Stern Advice: Early retiree health care mess may improve

WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) – Try being over 50 and
finding health insurance in the open market.

Even if you’re in tip-top health, you can expect to pay
three times as much for coverage as a younger person. And with
everything from high blood pressure to a trick knee seen as a
disqualifying pre-existing condition, you may not even qualify
for that rate.

Jun 16, 2011
via Reuters Money

Will ING customers stay happy with CapOne accounts?


ING Direct customers seem to love their online-only bank, and reports that it may soon be taken over by Capital One Financial Corp. have a few of them worried.

The tenor of reaction comments posted on The Consumerist web site ranged from “I’m sad” and “Noooooooooo…” to unprintable epithets. ING has won a following with competitively high interest rates on savings and checking, and no-fee checking accounts. And CapOne drew complaints from some discontented customers of Bethesda, Maryland-based Chevy Chase Bank after it took over that Washington-area institution.

Jun 16, 2011
via Reuters Money

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
via Reuters Money

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
via Reuters Money

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
via Reuters Money

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.

    • 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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