Archive for June, 2006

Clean loan information sites

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

I recently added a couple of sites about loan information to my directory and wanted to share them will everyone because they seem like clean, quality sites. In other words, I don’t see them trying to sell anything or tons (or even any) advertisers trying to sell stuff.

The first one is Lender’s Mark loan resources. They have a lot of mortgage-related information such as types of mortgages. I knew about FRM and ARMs, but balloon mortgages are something new to me.

They also suggest (as I have done on this blog) having a cash reserve for emergencies. They specifically mention hurricanes while I normally talk about health problems and the fickle nature of jobs and insurance once you’re seriously ill. For either reason, that cash reserve is a must.

There’s also an interesting article on buying a house or renting and investing. Buying real estate is usually the correct move according to this article and it’s hard to argue with that well-accepted conclusion.

The other site I’ll just mention briefly is focused on bad credit loans and has links to places where you can apply for loans and that sort of thing. They don’t seem to focus on any specific kind of loan – lots of loans are mentioned on this site.

Wealthy people in London

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Following yesterday’s richest cities in the world theme, I thought this article on lifestyles and economies of wealthy people in London was interesting.

One thing they mentioned was that rich people go to Dubai for shoping and stay in the Murj, which I was just blogging about on my travel blog yesterday. They also talk about expensive cars, yachts, private jets, and other good stuff.

List of World’s most expensive cities must be wrong

Monday, June 26th, 2006

1. Moscow
2. Seoul
3. Tokyo
4. Hong Kong
5. London
6. Osaka
7. Geneva
8. Copenhagen
9. Zurich
10. Oslo, New York (tied)

Now I’ve been to three of those cities: I live in Seoul, I’ve visited Osaka, and I was raised and went to college in the suburbs of New York City. Seoul is by far the cheapest of the 3, so how is it ranked the second most expensive city in the world?

Here in Seoul you can get an apartment for 500-1,000/month easily. You can go out for dinner and spend less that 5.00 easily. I went out for a few meals in Osaka and none came close to 5.00. In New York 5.00 will get you a pastry from Ferrarra’s, but not a meal in a restaurant.

I don’t know what system they are using, but however they measure the cost of living in these cities has given them laughable results.

Will Boeing rise as Airbus falls?

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

Airbus is in trouble. They invested a fortune in A-380 and came up short. The CEO sold stock right before the company announced it would not come close to expected profits and the future looks bleak: ‘There is huge reputational damage here. Would you buy an aircraft from these people today? The answer is probably no. You’d go to Boeing.’

Airbus’s parent company, EADS, lost a quarter of its value in a day and this could be good news for Boeing. Investors who want exposure to the commercial airline industry are running out of options; Boeing might be the best one left.

Cruise stocks: contrarian play?

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

A Merrill Lynch analyst, David W. Anders, is recommending cruise stocks as a contrarian play. He joins the ranks of at least one Motley Fool.

I know from the cruise news in my travel blog, that the cruise industry gets lots of attention and most of it is positive. I agree with analysts who say that the market in America is growing and will continue to do so. Risks include more bad news in terms of viruses and disappearances, higher oil prices, terrorism, bad weather, and stricter environmental regulations (cruise ships run on diesel and murder the environment).

Are the stocks really undervalued when you consider not only the current valuation and potential growth but also the risks? What are the chances that the stock will outperform the broader market by a large enough margin to make up for the risk of underperformance? Since I can’t answer these questions, I’m not buying cruise stocks.

Summarizing the the influence of possible rate hikes

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

With interest rates ready to rise, stocks are on the way down. This Bloomberg article has a nice summary of declines in Japan, Korea, and Europe.

What surprises me most is the drop in metals:

Copper prices in London have dropped 13 percent in the past four days, the biggest decline since June 1996. Metal for three- month delivery on the London Metal Exchange fell as much as 4.1 percent to $6,750 a ton today, the lowest since April 25. Gold prices dropped below $600 an ounce for the first time in almost two months.

There should be a buying opportunity here somewhere. All we ahve to do is find it.

VeraSun IPO news

Saturday, June 10th, 2006

This is a very attractive industry, and VSE will be the only “pure play” (at least for the next few weeks) since companies like ADM (the market leader in the US ethanol market) are divirsified. Anyway, this is a profitable company in an attractive industry so everything’s good, right? Well except for the high debt. Anyway, we’ve got articles from Motley Fool (they warn that the industry and its companies are in flux), BusinessWeek (here we learn that the cost of their new plant is estimated to be 280 million – more than the 190 they are expected to raise from the IPO – meaning that this company will be further in debt soon), and many others.

life insurance advice needed

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

Life insurance question from a college senior: My buddy is trying to get me to consider purchasing whole life insurance as a vehicle to build cash value. Anyone have any experience with this? I’m heading into my last year in school, so i’m thinking about saving responsibly while i’m young…so i’ve already started a Roth IRA, and purchased term insurance that is worth $250,000.

Answers: Whole Life as an investment vehicle is a poor performer and usually not very liquid. If you’re looking to start saving money and being responsible, there are much better ways to do it.

If You Are Just Graduating School and do not have any dependents, avoid life insurance all together – you do not need it. When you start working, max out your 401k and if you have the resources, start putting money into a mutual fund. Once you obtain greater liquidity you can start doing more sophisticated investing.

Whole Life Insurance is a very expensive way to save with the most popular policy available being Northwest Mutual Life. They catch people by promising a minimum return of I think 4%ish. The also try to sell you on the cash surrender value. It only begins to make sense at very large dollars and as a supplemental savings plan.

Term insurance is not saving. It pays money to your beneficiary if you die during its term. Hence the name. Unless you are worried about your benficiary really needing the money, cancel it. Put the money you have saved into an index fund with a very low expense ratio.

Insurance is not an investment. At least its a lousy one. If you need insurance (do you??), then level term insurance is the way to go. You determine how long you expect to need coverage for – 10, 20, 30 years or whatever, and buy a level term policy of that length. You’re guarunteed a fixed price on the premium for that amount of time. For investing, stick with real investments (mutual funds, stocks, bonds). Max your 401K contributions if you can.

Does someone rely on you for financial needs right now? People often assume they need insurance. in many cases they do. But as a student, is someone depending on your income at the moment? the only thing your term insurance will do today… is provide a death benefit to your beneficiary. Putting your investment dollars into a Roth IRA is a great start as the growth you experience within your Roth will not be taxable at retirement. So putting money into this, the earlier the better is often wise. also, your investment choices in your Roth are important as well. of your overall portfolio, your more aggressive investment choices should be within your Roth, as they will benefit the most re: taxes.

keep in mind, while you are young, liquidity is often a concern as well. be aware of the costs associated with accessing monies you may put into a Roth (or any retirement type money) or insurances. Plus, I assume you’re in your 20s. Figure you get married in 3-5 years. Until then, you are wasting money on insurance you don’t need. Your 10 yearr term policy’s only going to be good from another 5-7 yrs then anyhow.

Some people also consider pet insurance to be a good investment; if you have a pet medical insurance plan you don’t have to worry about sudden emergencies since the pet insurance will cover it, so by going online to buy pet insurance you can make sure you can afford an emergency vet trip when needed.

My friends recently paid $6500 for a slipped disk in their 1-year-old dog. My 12-year-old recently cost me $1500 when he developed a bladder stone. You want to be prepared for these events if you’re a pet owner.

Vegas housing market cooling off

Monday, June 5th, 2006

Here’s an interesting article about how the Vegas housing market is cooling off – there’s more supply now than there has been in a while. There are some investors losing money; those who joined the Vegas real estate party in 2005 may be losing money after considering fees.

Since the Vegas real estate market is losing it’s appeal, you may be more interested in a Vegas vacation. My Las Vegas NV site has some good articles and information on hotels. We also have some good reader reviews of the different hotels.

Cruise company stocks, products & brands

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

One Motley Fool writer is bullish (long-term) on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. He argues that Carnival would be the better investment since they are already bigger, growing faster, and have higher profit margins.

Royal Caribbean caters to more discerning clientele, making them the right choice for your next vacation but the wrong choice for an investment. I would like to think that the better product (Royal Caribbean) would be the better investment. However, I’m not sure that either product is very strong right now.

Each company has received their share of bad press lately. From Carnival offering extraordinarily bad cruises (and kicking people who complain off the ship) to people missing from Royal Caribbean cruises, I would say investing in either company would be investing in a tarnished brand.