By Lou Carlozo
(Reuters) – Amid a burst housing bubble, worldwide jitters over government debt and the high-profile recklessness of some financial movers and shakers, markets in the U.S. and abroad have taken a beating.
Risk today, in almost any form, is seen as the enemy by a growing number of investors.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The blow up of now bankrupt-MF Global proves that vetting a financial firm isn’t ever simple. Companies use accounting tricks and other machinations to hide problems until the last possible moment.
While no one expects individual investors to become forensic accountants, there are usually warning signs before a disaster strikes — you just have to know where to look.
By Lou Carlozo
(Reuters) – Open enrollment for benefits ends today at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Jason Rothstein, 40, has just finished all the needed paperwork. Once again, his health insurance premiums will go up – about 5 to 6 percent in 2012. And, as an employee with earnings in the $61,000 to $76,000 range, he’ll pay more for his insurance than colleagues at a lower salary level.
Rothstein, who is single, says that UIC divides its employees into five income divisions for benefits purposes. Even though he’s in the second-highest quintile, you won’t hear him complain about paying roughly $120 a year more for his Blue Cross-Blue Shield HMO plan than employees at the bottom of the ladder.
In the traditionally male world of angel investing, Ed Reitler is used to having his voice heard. A partner in Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt LLC of New York City, he’s also the founder of the ARC Angel Fund, a New York-based investing launched in 2010. So when he says that it’s “incredibly important” to develop female angel investors because “they are crucial to ensuring the funding of a more diverse group of companies,” you’d hope his male counterparts would take notice.
After all, Reitler’s got a point. A 2006 report by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation on women and angel investing concluded that “women entrepreneurs gravitate to women angels,” and that those benefactors “look at more women’s start-up businesses than some of the more traditional [male] groups do.”
Want to kick up your feet no matter how hard the cold weather kicks its heels? With winter on the way, we examine luxury renovations ideal for cocooning. Judge for yourself whether they’re worth a set of blueprints and a stack of greenbacks.
Item: Home theater system
Why you want it: Screening movies in your own theater — complete with rump-shaking sound and a larger-than-life picture — can bring out the Hollywood mogul in anyone.
Cost: Estimates vary widely, but figure a minimum of $5,000 for a high-end setup that includes 7.1 Dolby Digital surround sound, at least seven speakers and a subwoofer, amplifiers and a 73-inch rear projection TV that can reproduce 3D and HDTV images. Rich Conklin, a principal engineer with Grand Home Automation in Grand Rapids, says the company’s “Signature Series” surround systems range from $15,000 to $30,000.
Value: A survey conducted by Axiom Home Theaters in Dwight, Ontario, Canada found that a 375-square-foot home theater can add $15,000 to $25,000 to a house priced between $150,000 and $350,000. (Those figures apply to both U.S. and Canadian dollars.) However, this is one asset you can take with you to a new home, as many of the components are portable.
Did you know?: Music engineer/producer Jeremy Kipnis designed a home theater system that reportedly cost more that $6 million, and incorporates three dozen-plus speakers and a motion-picture screen measuring 18 x 10 feet.