Joblessness in the US to stay for a while?

February 19th, 2010

This article says unemployment will remain high and change America significantly:

The Great Recession may be over, but this era of high joblessness is probably just beginning. Before it ends, it will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults. It will leave an indelible imprint on many blue-collar men. It could cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a despair not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years to come.

Predictions for gold, stocks, and currencies

February 14th, 2010

Interesting article here that predicts gold prices will slide while large gains can be made with certain currencies in Asia. They say go heavy on stocks but from developed rather than emerging markets.

Recent gains for the US dollar

February 9th, 2010

It’s interesting to note that as soon as we see some bad news in Europe, the dollar gains against virtually every currency in the world. The dollar is still considered “safe” (despite the fact that holding onto dollars could have cost you big over the past couple years) because it is the currency backed by the most economic, political, and military power (not necessarily in that order).

This article shows that interest rates (in Korea in this example) effect a currency. Since I’ll be moving US dollars to Korean won for a new apartment in Seoul soon I’m very curious to see what will happen to the won vs. the dollar short term. Obviously I’d like to see the dollar gain…

Traveling Budgets and the Currency Exchange

November 10th, 2009

When is the best time to exchange money for a trip?

Everyone has a different opinion when it comes to exchanging money. Some travelers believe that waiting until you arrive at your destination airport is the most efficient way to exchange money, but in today’s volatile global market that strategy can be expensive. The currency market is in a constant state of change, so a good rate today could turn into a budget breaker tomorrow. Most trips out of the country are planned in advance and travel budgets are usually a top priority in that planning process, so it makes sense to know how much your currency exchanges will cost you. A last minute large amount exchange at an arrival airport could cost an extra $150 for every $1000 you exchange if the dollar has weakened by 1500 points over the last few days.

The best way to exchange money is to exchange small amounts of money while you are planning the trip. When you average your exchanges you know exactly how much each exchange costs, so your budget is more realistic. Averaging protects you from a major shift in currency value, which can occur at any time with some trading pairs. Exchanging money before you leave your own country is a strategy that will make your travel budget work when you arrive in your host country.

Where should I exchange money?

Some travelers rely on credit cards when they travel not realizing that credit card companies use an exchange rate that includes their profit plus they add a surcharge to every travel purchase, so you never know how much you are spending until you get a statement. Banks add a fee to every currency exchange and the rate some banks use may not be a real time rate, which can cost you more than necessary. Airport currency merchants may have hidden fees in their posted rates, which add additional cost to the trip. The best way to exchange money is to use an averaging system in the planning process and get advice from a reliable currency trader who watches the market hourly. Forex trading can be complicated to the layman so a professional trader can help you make exchanges without extra fees, hidden surcharges or bogus rates.

Other travel points

It is a good idea to find out if your host country has cash limitations. If you are carrying more cash than the country allows it can be confiscated at a customs checkpoint. Always carry cash in a money belt or hidden pocket which is secure and out of sight. Carry a small amount of cash for incidentals in a purse or a wallet and hotel safes and other security measures should be used when you arrive at your destination. Common sense is always your best security tool when it is used.

The experts at ForexTraders.com provided this article to help you understand the importance of a strategy when trading currencies before traveling abroad. If you need more information about forex trading, forex brokers or margin trading and leverage accounts, please visit our website.

What to do when debt collectors have the wrong person?

October 28th, 2009

Question: I’ve been getting calls from a debt collection agency based in NJ. They continue to call even after I’ve told them many times, I’m not the person they are looking for. I’m just baffled that someone has my home number and is asking for someone other than my wife and I.

They call 2-3 a week and never stop. What in the hell can I do to get them from calling here? I already blocked 2 numbers, but they continue to get through with different numbers. We are on the National Do Not Call list, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference.

Anyone have any experience with these goons?

Answer:

First of all you should have received something in the mail stating there was an attempt to collect on a debt.

If you have not, this IS a scam.

Get a copy of your credit report [ free once a year ] from Equifax, Trans Union and Experian, Google it.

Debt is sold from one entity to another for pennies on the dollar so make sure you don’t owe anyone anything, even if you don’t recognize the debt collection company. But they have to notify you in writing in any case.

The next time they call tell them to send something in writing and get the company name and address.

Don’t bother reporting them to the No call list, nobody cares. Report them to their states Attorney General and the FTC and BBB [even though the BBB is a scam]. If they fail to agree to send you the debt collection attempt in writing, the threat of calling the Attorney General should end things.

If they agree to send you the information in writing, even better. Follow up by sending this letter, certified mail, return receipt requested.

Your Name
Your Address

Collector’s Name
Collector’s Address

Dear {insert name of collector or company},

I am writing in response to your (letter or phone call) dated {insert date}, (copy enclosed) because I do not believe I owe what you say I owe.

This is the first I’ve heard from you, or any other company on this matter therefore, in accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Section 809(b): Validating Debts:

(b) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.

I respectfully request that you provide me with the following information:

* (1) the amount of the debt;
* (2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
* (3) Provide a verification or copy of any judgment (if applicable);
* (4) Proof that you are licensed to collect debts in (insert name of your state)

Be advised that I am fully aware of my rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. For instance, I know that:

* because I have disputed this debt in writing within 30 days of receipt of your dunning notice, you must obtain verification of the debt or a copy of the judgment against me and mail these items to me at your expense;
* you cannot add interest or fees except those allowed by the original contract or state law.
* you do not have to respond to this dispute but if you do, any attempt to collect this debt without validating it, violates the FDCPA;

Also be advised that I am keeping very accurate records of all correspondence from you and your company including recording all phone calls and I will not hesitate to report violations of the law to my State Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.

I have disputed this debt; therefore, until validated you know your information concerning this debt is inaccurate. Thus, if you have already reported this debt to any credit-reporting agency (CRA) or Credit Bureau (CB) then, you must immediately inform them of my dispute with this debt. Reporting information that you know to be inaccurate or failing to report information correctly violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act

Commercial real estate losing value

September 14th, 2009

This article talks about how commercial real estate is falling in value. The article gives a few reasons to be pessimistic about the economy. One of them:

“We expect construction activity to continue to pull back over the next 18 months,” as “property values still face significant further declines.”

Abby Joseph Cohen at Goldman Sachs sees a bull market but I see a broken record

August 6th, 2009

Cohen at Goldman Sachs says it’s a bull market. Again. Problem is Cohen is a cheerleader with one outlook for the market – positive. I was shocked when she started urging for caution after Lehman went under.

If you think we’re in a bull market then fine – start buying. But I wouldn’t take Cohen’s word for it.

Just the front side of a recession?

July 15th, 2009

Just talked to a friend who had some interesting things to say about the economy, particularly about how we are being misled by the government and Wall Street:

This is the front end of a recession – the tougher back end is in front of us.

Jobs are a lag…not a lead factor. This is not an inflation or inventory driven correction…this is a global credit and banking collapse.

Name a recession with a 17% unemployment rate on the front side since the panic of 1837? The 17% is not the government number of course – Birth death model corrections and other “assumptions” should not be accepted just becasue it convieniences them…the same calaculation basis used in the Great Depression (which was 30-33% at its trough) yields a number roughly north of 17% right now.

Japan is the second largest economy in the world. It dropped 41% in May and 43% in June….name a time when a major nation dropped like that on the front side of a recession?

You know, its a misnomer to call the end of the decline “a recovery” …thats Orwellian. The economy dropped like a stone…and the relief some think they see is the flattening out at an economy much smaller than it used to be…but with out the cash and credit to expand again normally found at the beginning of a true recovery…its not going to get better. Sorry.

What do you think about the economy? Are we flattening out? How long until we see an actual recovery and not just less of a decline?

Detroit, NYC, Phoenix, Portland, Minneapolis

July 5th, 2009

According to this article, Detroit, NYC, Phoenix, Portland, Minneapolis are expected to see continuing housing declines for a while. Detroit is no surprise except maybe some people though things could not possibly get much cheaper. I guess I’ve always thought of New York as crazy expensive so I’m not sure I expected it to decline much. But I suppose things had to come down a little.

Headlines misleading the public on Buffet’s view of the US economy

June 25th, 2009

You’ve probably seen the headlines about how Buffet says the economy is in shambles. If you haven’t already, take a look at the full interview because it doesn’t sound to me that he thinks we’re a hopeless case. He’s basically saying we will recover but there’s a risk of inflation and it may take some time to recover.

Interestingly, until we recover, until consumers start getting more spending power, I don’t see how inflation could be a problem…