Tuesday, March 31, 2009
By: Dan Hughes
There are two main forms of life insurance that people may have to choose between. These two types include term life insurance and whole life insurance, and, for the most part, people have no idea which type of life insurance is best for them.
With term life insurance, you are only covered for the life of the policy, while you are still paying the premiums, of course. Basically, this is the policy that makes the most sense for the majority of people out there, especially the couples that have kids. A life insurance policy is only intended to help the ones that have others dependent upon the life insurance holder. You do not want to continue paying premiums on your life insurance once your kids are no longer considered dependents.
With whole life insurance, on the other hand, the life insurance policy is designed to cover you for your entire life. It combines a term policy with an investment component, which could be in bonds and money-market instruments or stocks. The policy builds cash value that you can borrow against, which is why the premiums generally cost more than what term insurance would cost. As this “accumulation account” grows over time, the cost of your premiums may decrease over time.
Basically, what you need to ask yourself when looking for life insurance, is who you need to insure should anything happen. If you are generally healthy and have older kids, whether you may be single or not, whole life insurance probably is not the best way for you to go.
Source 1 Source 2 Source 3
Monday, March 30, 2009
Indemnity plans – are the original health insurance plan, but fewer and fewer people are buying them these days because of their high premiums.
Pros: You can choose your own physicians and hospitals.
Cons: You must pay a $500 to $1,000 deductible before your insurer will pay your claims. You need to pay the difference, if your doctor charges more than the insurer consider.
HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) – are the least expensive and the least flexible health plans.
Pros: Low cost, usually $5 to $10 and not much paperwork involved
Cons: You can only visit doctors within a prescribed network of doctors, and must choose an in-network primary care physician who oversees your medical services, and you must get a referral from him or her to see a specialist.
PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations) – are more flexible and cost a little more than HMOs.
Pros: payment is $5 to $10 and may visit an in-network specialist without getting permission.
Cons: You need to pay the bill and submit it to the insurer for reimbursement, if you see a non-network doctor. In addition, you may pay the difference between the non-network physician's bill and the network physician's bill would be.
POSs (Point of Service plans) – are more flexible and cost slightly more than PPOs.
Pros: You can visit a non-network doctor with your primary care physician's approval and still receive coverage.
Cons: You must pick a primary care physician to oversee your services. If your primary care physician does not approve your visit to a non-network physician, you may have to submit the physician's bill and only receive partial payment.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Ultimately he decided on San José, Costa Rica, where just a week or so after the outpatient procedure and initial recovery, he and his wife were sightseeing throughout the country, then relaxing at a lush resort. He was home four weeks later, with no complications.
Mr. Schreiner is what’s known in the health care world as a “medical tourist.” No longer covered under his former employer’s insurance and too young to qualify for Medicare, Mr. Schreiner has a private health insurance policy with a steep $10,000 deductible. Not wanting to spend all of that on the $14,000 his operation would have cost stateside, he paid only $3,900 in hospital and doctor’s bills in Costa Rica.
“I didn’t have to fork over my entire deductible,” Mr. Schreiner said. “What’s more, they bent over backwards there to take care of me — no waiting, a friendly staff, everyone spoke English.”
At least 85,000 Americans choose to travel abroad for medical procedures each year, according to a recent report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Treatment includes dental implants, hip and knee replacements, heart valve replacements and bypass surgery. The cost of surgery performed overseas can be as little as 20 percent of the price of the same procedure in the United States, according to a recent report by the American Medical Association.
Medical tourism is expected to expand quickly in the coming years because of rising health care costs in the United States, increasing availability of international facilities with United States accreditation, and the fact that insurers and employers are beginning to embrace the practice.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, for example, has started a subsidiary company, Companion Global Healthcare, to offer medical tourism services to individuals and businesses. Hannaford supermarkets in Maine recently added an international option for hip replacements to its health care plan.
After choosing the right company with the lowest rate…here are some ways to lower your insurance costs:
1. Ask for higher deductibles. Even though it may seem hard to give up more money in the beginning, it can ultimately decrease your rates in the long run. These savings can be set aside in the case that you do need to make a claim for any reason.
2. Make sure your older cars insurance isn’t too much. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that a car loses values as time goes on. As the older car loses value, you might still be paying the same amount of insurance when you first bought the car even though it costs ten times less now.
But changes to the federal COBRA program might make that health coverage more affordable.
The state’s unemployment rate hit 11 percent in February, up from 10. 3 percent in January, the State Employment Security Commission reported Friday. In Greenville County, it was 9.5 percent last month. The national rate was 8.1 percent.
COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, was intended to keep employees from losing their insurance along with their jobs. It allows people to keep their employer coverage for up to 18 months, so long as they pay the full premium.
But those COBRA payments are unaffordable now for most on unemployment. In South Carolina, for example, the average unemployment payment of $1,209 a month equals the average COBRA family premium, according to Families USA. That forces many to choose between home and food or health care.
Friday, March 27, 2009
1) Buy term life insurance: Term life insurance is much less expensive than the permanent life insurance. Because the whole life insurance charge higher premiums for lifelong benefits.
2) Comparison companies: The competitive insurance industry brings a lot of benefits to the consumers. So before you purchase your insurance, make sure you got several quotes from different companies and get the lowest rates.
3) Get healthier: The insurance rate is based on several factors, such as age, gender and health condition. So if your body is in good shape, it actually going to save you money on the premium.
4) Pay premium on annually base: It’s cheaper to pay your insurance premium every year instead of quarterly or monthly.
5) Select your insurance coverage carefully: If you calculated that you need a large amount of coverage, it’s quite possible to win a discount from the insurance companies by asking them to do so. So never feel hesitate to ask.
Currently, we have an opportunity to cure this problem. There is a bill before the Legislature that would raise the level for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to 200 percent of the poverty level, or about $42,400 for a family of four. That would be a good start. We should also adopt a buy-in program to allow all families access to this program.
We know healthy children do better in school and in life. We also know such an investment will more than pay for itself in the long run by creating a healthier generation of North Dakotans.
Covering every child is clearly within our reach. Let’s do it.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Dental insurance is insurance dedicated to paying portions of one's dental care. It is important that when you are doing research in regards to purchasing dental insurance, you know what your dental insurance company covers and what that company doesn't cover.
There are three different types of dental coverage. The first type of dental coverage is called Preventative dental insurance which is are cleanings and the dentist examining your teeth. X-rays and also sealants can fall into the preventative category depending on your insurance provider. The second type of dental coverage is called "basic or restorative". Cavity fillings, extracting teeth and also root canals are under this type of dental coverage. Root canals are major procedures however most dental insurance companies cover root canals under the basic or restorative category of dental coverage. The last type of dental coverage is called "major". These types of procedures are painful and extremely costly. Some procedures include surgical extractions, dentures, implants, crowns and other painful procedures. Insurance companies don't cover comestic procedures such as teeth whitening.
Most to almost all dental insurance companies use a term called "usual, customary and reasonable" (UCR) fee guide. This allows dental insurance companies to choose prices for all procedures that are covered under their policies. However the dentist may charge a different price for the procedure that they are performing on the patient. For example, you visit your dentist and the visit cost $100 but the dental insurance company will only cover up to $80, you must come up with the difference of the $20. For the most part, dental insurance companies coordinate with the dentist to come up with an agreement for the prices they will allow their patients to pay. Dental insurance providers have a "yearly maximum" which means that in one fiscal year or calendar year, the dental insurance provider will pay up to a thousand dollar maximum that year.
So is dental insurance for you? You need to consult with your dentist and have a discussion about what your financial situation is and what is the best situation for you. As I said before, you should do research on dental insurance providers, know the different types of coverage (preventative, basic and major), know about a yearly maximum and what your insurance provider covers and doesn't.
Many people do not have life insurance. A substantial amount of the uninsured are senior citizens. Many seniors believe that they are too old to get life insurance, however it is common to see advertisements for life insurance policies that are reserved for seniors. Often, uninsured senior citizens desire life insurance in order to cover medical or funeral expenses once they die.
Typically, the older a person gets, the higher their life insurance premiums are. However, this is not necessarily the case with senior-specific life insurance. One website states that "Policies are general short term, and only pay a limited death benefit for the first two years. After two years, the full price of the insurance is payable to your beneficiary at the time of your death...Life insurance for seniors is available for as little as $15 a month. Usually, these inexpensive policies offer a low death benefit...Typical deferred life insurance policies offer as little as $5,000 coverage and go up to $100,000."1
In the past, many insurance companies would not provide life insurance for senior citizens. However, today, many states require that companies provide them coverage. Many life insurance policies for seniors have cash value so that they may be borrowed against or cashed in by the policyholder if they so choose.
Here are top reasons to buy travel insurance:
1. Your flight has been cancelled.
2. Your bag was lost with your insulin inside. You need help to locate your bag as soon as possible and have your emergency prescription filled. Who do you call?
3. Your first visit to Asia, and your passport and wallet are stolen. Where do you turn for emergency cash, and how will you get your passport replaced?
4. You're involved in an accident and adequate medical treatment is not available. You need medical evacuation.
5. You need to cancel your trip due to illness.
6. Your cruise line, airline or tour operator goes bankrupt. You need your non-refundable expenses covered and to get to your destination.
7. You have a medical emergency in a foreign country.
8. A terrorist incident occurs in the city where you’re planning to visit and you want to cancel your trip.
9. A hurricane forces you to evacuate your resort, hotel or cruise.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Recent research has found that women are paying more for health insurance than men. Researchers have narrowed down the specific discrepancy to the fact that women are more meticulous when it comes to keeping up with health checkups. The coverage being compared is the same between men and women, essentially the same coverage but significantly different premiums. The research explained that women between the ages of 19 and 55 use more health care, especially in the childbearing years. Therefore, regardless of those women who chose not to have children they are penalized with a higher premium than that of men at the same age. The premiums differences are as much as 49% for a woman in Columbus, Ohio who is paying a monthly premium of $92.87, while a man with the same health and age background is only paying $62.30. During this current economic crisis where more unemployment is likely to occur; more individuals are looking for individual health coverage due to layoffs. However, once women reach the age of 55 there is a trend of a significant drop in monthly payments. Again, this pattern is attributed to the drop in likelihood of pregnancy past the age of 55. This issue of women paying higher premiums is becoming more prominent as members of Congress, such as Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana are bringing up this issue in the media. In efforts to try and lower premiums try some of the following:
- Increase your deductible: The higher the deductible, the lower the monthly premium.
- Invest in a Health Savings Account (HSA). An HSA combines high deductible health insurance plans with a tax-favored savings account. Money in the savings account helps pay the deductible and money left in the account earns interest and rolls over from year to year.
- By Generic Prescription Drugs instead of brand named ones.
- Don’t make unnecessary trips to the emergency room as that is charted on your Medical records, which is used when your policy is being underwritten.
- Stop Smoking.
- However, if you are considering having a child, make sure you have insurance coverage for at least a year or two BEFORE you actually have children. By doing so you can make sure you are covered for pregnancy.
Due to the current economy situation, experts anticipate that more pet owners would seek pet insurance. The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) seeks “opportunity for pet insurance industry to protect and insure more pets.” Growing the pet insurance industry will lead more pet insurance providers, and which will lead to a wider range of pet insurance options as well. In general, there are two basic types of coverage for pets. One covers routine care like annual blood work and vaccines; and, the other covers major medical cares like surgeries and run about $235 a year.
The concept of the credit card insurance remains the same as the other insurance: you pay a minimum monthly payment fee, normally based on the balance of your account. Supporters claim that it is a great idea that provides protection over our credit card once they get into hardship. Some argue that the insurance can only make the minimum payment of each month, and have a limited time frame, which is not worth it. However, when you suffer a critical illness or death, the insurance will cover the entire balance to reduce the pressure of your family.
Purchasing credit card insurance is a personal decision and really depends on your unique situation. Usually, however, the expense of credit card insurace outweighs the potential benefits, because most insurers pay only the minimum payment when a claim is made. A better alternative of credit card insurance is to set a side some amount of money for some emergency use, such illness and death. As always, being informed of options will assist your decision making. So take some time to sort these files and get organized.
Monday, March 23, 2009
The economy is causing many Americans to reevaluate their budgets. Even though you are trying to cut back on your monthly expenses, there may be areas you have overlooked. One place you might consider examining is your health insurance plan.
“Your health insurance plan is the first place you should look if you want to save money long term," says eHealthInsurance.com executive Bruce Telkamp. “Check to see if you're paying for benefits you don't use or if you can afford a higher deductible. You can save a lot of money by shopping around for a health plan that better suits your needs and budget.”
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WE CAN UNDERSTAND why talk of bank nationalization freaks out the stock market: The very notion is so, well, French. An increasing government stake in the banks dilutes the value of privately owned shares, and outright takeovers can wipe out creditors, too. Federal ownership and operation of large institutions, even temporarily, could lead to politicized lending -- if it doesn't simply overwhelm government's managerial capacity. True, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. takes over insolvent banks all the time. Rarely, however, has Washington contemplated taking over not just one large bank but possibly several, including giants such as Bank of America and Citigroup. The biggest previous FDIC takeover involved Continental Illinois, a bank less than a fifth the size of Citigroup, a quarter-century ago. The process lasted seven years. So we agree with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, who told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday: "I do not see any reason to destroy the franchise value or to create the huge legal uncertainties of trying to formally nationalize a bank when it just is not necessary."
The question, though, is whether nationalization, in some form, can be avoided. And the answer is: It depends. It depends on how deep the recession becomes, and on how well-equipped the banks are to survive it. Lately, the stock market has been beating up bank stocks, reflecting market mavens' pessimism on both counts. Soon, however, we may get a somewhat more objective take from the Obama administration, which yesterday rolled out its "stress test" of 19 big banks with more than $100 billion each in assets. It will assess solvency under alternative scenarios, a "baseline" forecast under which unemployment averages 8.8 percent in 2010 and an "adverse" one in which joblessness hits 10.3 percent next year. On the basis of the results, the Treasury Department would make additional capital injections, in the form of preferred shares that convert to common stock as needed.
The federal bailout of insurance giant American International Group Inc., designed to help stabilize financial markets, is roiling another corner of the corporate world.
AIG's competitors claim the insurer's federal lifeline is unfairly tilting the commercial-insurance playing field. And they're pressing federal officials to crack down.
In a meeting March 4 at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, some of AIG's biggest competitors complained directly to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, AIG's top government overseer. They urged him to prevent AIG from using the government rescue to win an advantage, particularly by cutting prices. Mr. Bernanke said he'd look into the complaints, according to people familiar with the meeting.
In the six months since the government stepped in, AIG at times has slashed insurance prices -- by more than 30% in some cases -- to fend off rivals and to keep or win contracts, according to public documents, insurance buyers, executives and others in the industry. This tack has helped AIG insure customers ranging from the U.S. Olympic Committee and an Arizona airport to an Illinois nursing home and a Florida town government.
State insurance regulators in New York and Pennsylvania are investigating, as is the Government Accountability Office, which issued a preliminary report at last week's congressional hearing on the AIG bailout. The GAO said insurance regulators, brokers and buyers say AIG "may be pricing somewhat more aggressively than in the past in order to retain business," but the pricing didn't appear "inadequate." The GAO said it hadn't "drawn any final conclusions."
As central banks head toward the lower limit of interest rate cuts, the search has begun for alternative or unconventional monetary policy instruments.
Interest rate spreads. Owing to risk aversion and information asymmetries regarding bank balance sheets, the difference between policy base rates and three-month interbank rates rose in October to about 1.5 percentage points (pp) in the euro-area and U.K. Thanks to liquidity operations, the gap shrank in January below 0.5 pp in the euro-area and to about 0.8 pp in the U.K. Continued liquidity provisions on the interbank market is a policy option left to central banks to reduce risk premiums on interbank rates and eventually on retail rates. It will probably remain a key policy instrument in the coming months to ensure the smooth day-to-day refinancing of the financial sector.
(Money Magazine) -- You've been waiting for this moment for nearly 18 years: Your baby is almost ready for college. Your finances, not so much. The market's protracted free fall means that your college fund is now worth just a fraction of what you need. Your home's value has no doubt dropped sharply too - no help there. The only thing that keeps going up, you guessed it, is college tuition. So it's goodbye, Dream School U., hello, Central State, right?
Wrong. While there's no denying times are tough, you have more options to help pay for that BA than you think. From targeting the right schools to taking advantage of new financial aid rules and tax breaks, you can get the price to a manageable level. These steps will ensure your kid ends up at a great school you can really afford.
1. Use your savings strategically
The typical 529 college savings plan of a high school junior or senior has dropped 12.5% in value over the past year. And if you didn't invest in an age-based portfolio that automatically shifted into safer investments as your child got older, your losses may be far worse. The big question before you: Should you try to hold off withdrawing money from the account to give your savings time to bounce back?
Unless you have another source of ready cash you can use to pay college bills - if you can squeeze more out of current income, say, or have other non-retirement savings you can tap - the answer is no. Since most of the money in your 529 is (or should be) in cash or other fixed-income investments by now, a big surge in stocks won't help you much.
2. Apply higher - and lower
With endowments down 25% to 30% in the past year, colleges have been slashing budgets, cutting everything from new construction to faculty. One program that top-tier schools haven't cut: the more generous aid packages they began offering families last year in response to congressional criticism over their use of endowments.
Tip: Make sure you fill out the federal application for financial aid, known as FAFSA, even if you think your income is too high for help - for many merit awards, it's the only way to qualify. And check the colleges' websites to see whether there are additional requirements for merit aid; some scholarships require a separate application that may have an early deadline.
3. Play it safer
Nowadays you need not only a Plan B, but also a Plan C and maybe a Plan D. So be sure your child applies to two or three safety schools that you know you can afford and he would be happy (or at least willing) to attend. Public colleges will probably be high on that list. But don't assume your state's flagship university is a sure-fire backup, since your teen isn't the only one seeking safety these days. Says Lisa Jacobson, CEO of Inspirica, a New York City college consulting service: "For the first time I'm seeing many upper-middle-class and wealthy parents encouraging their children to apply to their state schools - just in case."
4. Borrow smart
Face it: No matter how diligently you seek out scholarships or how savvy you are about the schools you target, chances are you're going to have to borrow money at some point to pay college bills.
5. Make tuition less taxing
Thanks again, Congress. The recently passed economic stimulus legislation included a welcome provision for tuition-paying parents: an expansion of the Hope Credit for educational expenses - now called the American Opportunity Tax Credit - to $2,500, from $1,500. It will be available for the 2009 and 2010 tax years.
6. Stop worrying (at least for now)
Your biggest concern may not be how to pay college bills now but how you'll pay if you get axed at work - a not unreasonable fear, given today's high and rising unemployment rate. But if your financial circumstances change dramatically during the year, many colleges will give you what amounts to a do-over on aid.
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posted by SooYeon(Pia), Shin
March 19 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. mortgage rates may fall to the lowest since World War II on the Federal Reserve’s plan to buy up to $300 billion of Treasuries and increase purchases of mortgage-backed bonds.
Rates for 30-year fixed home loans dropped to 4.98 percent this week, Freddie Mac said today. They may reach 4.5 percent as the Fed’s purchases progress, said Mike Larson, real estate analyst at Weiss Research in Jupiter, Florida.
“It’s a big bullet the Fed’s firing here,” he said. “The Fed is kind of going all in.”
U.S. central bankers said yesterday they will buy up to an additional $750 billion of mortgage-backed securities from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae to support home lending. The Fed is trying to lower rates by reducing the supply of outstanding mortgage bonds, boosting their price and lowering yields. That would allow banks to reduce the rates on new mortgages and still sell mortgage securities at a profit.
The Fed announced a program in November to buy $500 billion of mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by Fannie, Freddie and Ginnie Mae. That helped drive 30-year fixed mortgage rates down to 4.96 percent during the week ended Jan. 15, the lowest since Freddie Mac began keeping track in 1971.
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Written By: Poornima Gupta, Reuters
DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co. said Monday that its tender offer to purchase its senior secured term loan debt was oversubscribed and that it was making more cash available to buy back the debt from investors.
Ford -- the only U.S. automaker that has not sought U.S government aid -- is powering ahead of its domestic rivals in bolstering its finances in the global economic downturn. It aims to complete a turnaround plan without seeking emergency federal loans.
The automaker was the first in reaching a deal with the United Auto Workers union on contract changes to lower its labor costs and is already leading General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC in the effort to reduce debt on its balance sheet.
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Posted by: Connie Yee
Flooding and Arkansas, unfortunately, seem to go hand-in-hand. Of the state’s past 33 Presidential disaster declarations, 22 have involved a flood. That’s two out of every three.
"Both the history of flooding in this state and the many floods throughout the midsection of our nation are reminders that flooding is a serious risk to Arkansas residents and the economy," said Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Moore of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage and less than one per cent of Arkansas residents and business owners have flood insurance.”
"We often can’t prevent flooding, but flood insurance can cut the financial and emotional toll,” said Arkansas Department of Emergency Management Director David Maxwell.
Low-cost National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) coverage is available to homeowners, renters and businesses in every community in the state that participates in the program. Home and business owners can buy coverage for their buildings and contents, and renters can purchase insurance to cover personal property.
Posted by: Connie Yee
U.S. crude rose $1.73 to settle at $53.80 a barrel, having earlier climbed to $54.05, its highest price since December 1. London Brent crude rose $2.25 to $53.47.
The U.S. government said it would offer financing for investors to unburden banks of up to $1 trillion in soured assets stifling the economy, sending Wall Street up around 5 percent Monday. (^N - News) Stocks also received support from data showing U.S. existing home sales rose in February.
Dealers said the bank plan could brighten the outlook for global business and consumer energy demand, which has been shrinking for the first time in a quarter century.
Written by: Tim Paradis
Posted by: Connie Yee
NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street got the news it wanted on the economy's biggest problems -- banks and housing -- and celebrated by hurtling the Dow Jones industrials up nearly 500 points. Investors added rocket fuel Monday to a two-week-old advance, cheering the government's plan to help banks remove bad assets from their books and also welcoming a report showing a surprising increase in home sales. Major stock indicators surged more than 6 percent, including the Dow, which had its biggest percentage gain since October.
Although analysts were still hesitant to say Wall Street is squarely on its way to recovery after the collapse that began last fall, they said the banking and housing news bolstered the belief that the economy is starting to heal.
"It's just hard to argue that there isn't an improvement in economic activity on the horizon," said Jim Dunigan, executive vice president at PNC Wealth Management.
The market began turning around two weeks ago on news that Citigroup Inc. was operating at a profit in January and February. A spate of more upbeat economic reports helped the market build on its gains, although the rally stalled last Thursday and Friday.
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Posted By: Madeleine Brooks
NEW YORK -- Goldman Sachs Group is considering selling part of its 4.9% stake in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., a move that could raise more than $1 billion, according to several people familiar with the matter.
Talks between Goldman and ICBC about a sale began late last year and include potentially divesting 15% to 20% of the New York company's stake in the Chinese bank, two people with knowledge of the discussions said. Goldman's shares in ICBC are valued at about $7.5 billion. Any transaction would have to wait until late April, when a lockup on half the stake is set to expire.
The potential move comes at a delicate time for Goldman and other U.S. financial institutions that have received government aid in recent months. In addition to pressure to reduce risk taking and spending, such companies are facing tough curbs on compensation that could make it harder to keep top-performing traders and investment bankers from defecting to rivals. Since getting $10 billion in capital from the U.S. government last October, Goldman has made no secret of its desire to repay those funds. Trimming the stake in ICBC could help Goldman repay some of the aid.
Last week, China's Ministry of Finance made it more difficult for foreign institutions to buy or sell blocks of stock in Chinese financial firms, citing a need to protect national assets. The new rules, to take effect May 1, include a requirement that trades in Chinese financial firms by foreigners must be executed on a stock exchange at prevailing market prices. It is unclear whether those rules would affect Goldman's possible sale.
Some AIG competitors have complained in the meeting at Riger Hotel in Washington DC that AIG is taking the advantage of the bailout to fend off rivals to keep or win contracts, which ranges from the U.S. Olympic Committee and an Arizona airport to an Illinois nursing home and a Florida town government.
However, The GAO said insurance regulators, brokers and buyers say AIG "may be pricing somewhat more aggressively than in the past in order to retain business," but the pricing didn't appear "inadequate." The GAO said it hadn't "drawn any final conclusions." And also, government needs AIG to retain competitive in order to repay the government.
So far, it’s hard to asset that is there really unethical usages of the bailout from government. And both sides are being aggressively at this period of time, but there is no evidence of yet a "systematic problem". "The competitors know AIG's in a vulnerable state....There are plausible stories on both sides."
Article Written By: Maya Randall and Michael Crittenden
Posted By: Madeleine Brooks
WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department unveiled its plan to use both private and public funds to take toxic assets off banks' balance sheets, and Wall Street cheered the news, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 6.8%.
Acknowledging that the financial system continues to face "acute pressure" and is working against economic recovery, Treasury will try to address the real-estate-related assets that Secretary Timothy Geithner said is reducing banks' willingness to take risks and to lend money to consumers. The effort will be coordinated with the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
"This will help banks clean up their balance sheets and make it easier for them to raise private capital," Mr. Geithner said.
The plan calls for the federal government to work with private investors to try to restart the market for the troubled mortgage loans and securities, which in turn officials hope improves the financial condition of banks that have received billions in capital injections from the government already. The federal government will pair as much as $100 billion with private capital to generate $500 billion in purchasing power to buy the assets, and Mr. Geithner told reporters the plan could reach $1 trillion in size over time.
"We have to complement this program with a range of approaches to help get these securities markets back to a point where they're working again," Mr. Geithner told reporters Monday morning.Click here to read more about this article
By: Li Bin Chen
As banks continued to fail, the Treasury unveiled its plan to wipe the banks clean of $500 billion worth of bad assets. After the announcement of the “Bad Asset” plan, bank stocks, among the most badly pummeled sectors in this recession, experience a stock surge. The stocks easily outperformed the 4% gains of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq. Citigroup is one of the banks that had some of the headiest gains with its stock surging more than 20% in the first five minutes of trading. Although these initial reaction were promising, but there were doubt about the future of the country. Due to the announcement, the stocks had surge but everything had to wait until the plan is actually put into practice. The Treasury still hasn’t seen any investors who are willing to buy these toxic assets.
The plan for Treasury to buy up billions in bad bank assets raised hopes that the economy is stabilizing. The stock reaction is a vote of confidence in the implementing of the plan. By getting rid of the bad assets, banks will not be limiting their lending and therefore prolonging the recession. Many economists had felt that stabilizing the banking system is the key to stabilizing the economy. By partnering with private investors, government hopes it can finally flush out toxic assets from banks’ balance sheets. The goal is to buy up at least $500 billion of existing assets and loans, such as subprime mortgages that are now in danger of default. The program could potentially expand to $1 trillion over time as the need increase.
Posted by: Stephanie King
Written by: CNN.com
President Obama turned his attention to the need for more clean-energy funding Monday, arguing that an expanded investment is needed to lay the foundation for long-term economic growth, cut dependence on foreign oil and slow the process of global warming.
President Obama speaks Monday on investments in clean energy.
Obama, speaking to a group of renewable-energy company owners and investors, said the country has "known the right choice for a generation (and that) the time has come to make that choice."
In the years ahead, the United States "can remain the world's leading importer of foreign oil, or we can become the world's leading exporter of renewable energy," Obama argued.
"We can allow climate change to wreak unnatural havoc, or we can create jobs preventing its worse effects. We can hand over the jobs of the 21st century to our competitors, or we can create those jobs right here in America."
He met with the owners and investors in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House.
Stimulus may get small wind turbines spinning
Borger: Obama staking a lot on domestic policy
The recently passed $787 billion economic stimulus plan includes $59 billion in new clean-energy tax breaks, part of "the largest investment in basic research funding in American history," according to Obama.
The tax breaks, he claimed, will help create 300,000 new jobs and double the supply of renewable energy.
Obama also highlighted a proposed allocation of $150 billion over 10 years in new
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After all, the Fed has either bought or announced plans to spend trillions of dollars on troubled mortgages and other types of questionable consumer debt in the past year. At the same time, the Fed has been loaning money to banks and companies that couldn't get funding elsewhere.
So the purchase of AAA-rated Treasurys, the highest credit rating that a bond can have, is probably the least risky thing the Fed can do these days.
Investors agreed: The prices of long-term Treasuries rose after the Fed's announcement, pushing their yields lower. (Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.) Rates didn't even budge much Friday after the Congressional Budget Office raised its federal budget deficit forecast for this fiscal year.
This financial protection can be particularly comforting when it comes to providing:
- protection for your family against financial hardship or to maintain their current standard of living.
- cash to pay off mortgages, taxes, or other debts so your heirs are not left with them.
- funds to pay funeral expenses.
- a continuing income stream for your surviving family members.
- an inheritance for your heirs.
- a nest egg for future expenses like your children’s or grandchildren’s education.
As you can see, life insurance is most applicable when you have dependents or heirs that you want to provide for. On the other hand, there are plenty of situations when life insurance does not make sense. For instance…
Posted by Chaoran Hu
2) Some insurers have responded to last summer's $4 gasoline by expanding their reduced-driving discounts to better serve people who have cut back on their driving. If you do not drive many miles, you may qualify.
3) When you rent a car, odds are you do not need rental-car insurance and can rely on your existing car insurance policy to protect you. You will, however, be on the hook for the deductible payment should you be in an accident that is your fault.
4) Inflation protection is a must-keep feature of home insurance, but like millions of seniors who have downsized, you may have reduced your possessions. Review whether you still need special riders on jewelry, furs, computers, and other items.
5) Life insurance is designed to help loved ones, providing them money to replace the income lost by your death and helping to conserve assets in your estate should you have enough wealth to trigger estate taxes. As we age, the protective objectives of life insurance diminish and you may not need as large a policy.
6) Substitute generics for brand-name drugs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a tool to identify generic equivalents of brand-name prescription drugs. Use it and see if you can save money.
By Michael Collins
Insurance Fraud is a major problem in today's society. People will often hear stories about people burning down their houses or even killing spouses in order to collect insurance money. However, there is another form of insurance fraud that is not as common or as well-known: the Swoop and Squat, a form of auto insurance fraud.
AllState Insurance has publicized this type of fraud in commercials to help customers avoid becoming victims. Their website defines the swoop and squat as "Two vehicles work as a team to set up an accident. One vehicle pulls in front of an innocent driver and the other alongside, blocking the victim in. The lead car stops short, causing the victim to rear-end him. The car that pulled up alongside serves as a block and prevents the victim from avoiding a collision." So, the fraudsters essentially create a "controlled accident" that minimizes the risk to themselves, but will still get them a lot of money from the insurance companies, as well as causing the victim's insurance rates to go up.
Cities like Los Angeles and Miami have been known as hotbeds of swoop and squat rings. In addition, vehicles that are heavily insured, like tractor-trailers or expensive cars, are commonly targeted. If the fraudsters claim bodily harm (often faked), along with the damage to the car, they can make much more money with their scheme. Many rings have been known to involve corrupt doctors and lawyers, in order to verify injuries and get the cases through the court system.
This type of fraud is often difficult for drivers to avoid if confronted. However, insurance companies believe that the best ways to avoid becoming a victim are refrain from tailgating other cars, and to call the police as soon as an accident takes place.
Posted By Michael Collins
With the banking world back into doom-and-gloom mode, safety is the name of the game for investors and savers. Many of those looking to keep large amounts of cash safe have fled to 10-year Treasury bonds, which were yielding about 2.18% on Jan. 15. Of course, those investors face some capital risk if they sell the bonds. To play it even more safely, investors may consider three-month T-bills, but they were only yielding 0.10%. Six-month bills yielded 0.72%.
Meanwhile, on BankingMyWay, you can easily find a six-month CD yielding 3.00% or higher. But what about FDIC insurance?
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has temporarily increased its basic deposit insurance limit for individuals to $250,000, but that is set to expire at the end of 2009. That will be here before you know it. What if you have deposits that exceed those limits?
You could spread your deposits across accounts at different institutions, but that would be an arduous record-keeping chore. And, of course, it would be a hassle to visit several banks or S&Ls. But the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service, or “CDARS,” can do this for you.
The service, provided by Promontory Interfinancial Network, has been available for six years. About 2,800 banks and thrifts in all 50 states offer the service, which allows CD depositors with balances of up to $50 million to have their entire balances insured by the FDIC. The number of participating institutions has increased 53% over the past year, not surprising when you consider that 25 banks failed last year.
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Sunday, March 22, 2009
Article by: CNN Money
Posted by: Madeleine Brooks
1. All policies fall into one of two camps.
There are term policies, or pure insurance coverage. And there are the many variants of whole life, which combine an investment product with pure term insurance and build cash value.
2. Insurance is sold, not bought.
Agents sell the vast majority of life policies written in the U.S. because the life insurance industry has a vested interest in pushing high-commission (and high-profit) whole-life policies.
3. Whole life is expensive.
Policies with an investment component cost many times more than term policies. As a result, many people who buy whole life often can't afford an adequate face value, leaving themselves underinsured.
4. Whole-life policies are built on assumptions.
The returns quoted by the agent are simply guesses - not reality. And some companies keep these guesses of future returns on the high side to attract more buyers.Click here to continue reading the article
Saturday, March 21, 2009
By: Li Bin Chen
Banks in Kansas, Colorado, and Georgia were seized, pushing this year’s tally of failed U.S. lenders to 20. This accounts for the highest unemployment in a quarter century as foreclosures surged amid a recession. FirstCity Bank of Stockbridge, Georgia, was closed on Friday, amid the economic crisis. It was closed by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) was named receiver of the failed bank.
The FirstCity Bank had $297 million in assets and $278 million in deposits as of March 18 but it still cannot survive the economic downfall. Any direct deposits from the federal government that it currently hold will be transferred to the SunTrust Bank. At the end of 2008, a total of 25 banks collapsed throughout the nation and among all Washington Mutual was the biggest bank to fail in the U.S history and 252 banks were listed by the FDIC as troubled institutions. If any banks fail, the FDIC will provide insurance for $100,000 per depositor. The FDIC will fulfill its obligation to insured depositors by mailing checks for their insured amounts.
The FDIC-insured bans lost $32.1 billion from October through December, the first quarterly loss since 1990. The agency’s deposit insurance fund, used to reimburse customers of closed banks, tumbled 45% to $18.9 billion in the quarter from $34.6 in the preceding period, which reflected the closing of numerous banks. This was the most difficult periods the FDIC had to deal with since it was created 75 years ago. FDIC is considering calculating the levy based on a bank’s assets, rather than domestic deposits, so large lenders will bear more of the cost.
The U.S economy has shed 4.4 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. Unemployment rate had jumped to 8.1% in February, the highest in more than 25 years.
By: Li Bin Chen
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Question 1. If you have no credit card debt and have closed your credit card accounts, how can this hurt your credit score? - Nathan
First, how long you've used your cards accounts for about 15% of your FICO score. The longer history you have managing a card, the better your score will be.
Secondly, your FICO score also calculates how much credit you have in relation to your debt. By closing a card, you wipe away some of that available credit and that makes your debt look bigger - if you do carry debt at some point.
Some issuers are even closing down your credit cards if you don't use them often enough. So be sure to spread around your purchases on different cards so you avoid this situation.Click here for full article
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
With the U.S. economy in a crisis state, we are looking to cut costs whenever possible. One auto-related expense that could offer room for a trim is car insurance. According to insurance-industry experts, there are various ways to squeeze your coverage to yield up to a 50 percent cut in your annual insurance costs.
1) Take advantage of discounts:
* short commute to work or school
* good student grades (above "B" average)
* multiple-car discount (2 or more vehicles on the same policy)
* prior coverage (having another policy in effect within the last 30 days)
2) Dropping your collision and comprehensive coverage. Cutting collision coverage is not so full with risk, however, especially if you own an older vehicle. As cars get older, their values obviously decline, and you may reach a point where the actual cash value is low enough that it is no longer makes economic sense to maintain that collision coverage
3) Keeping collision and comprehensive, but increase your deductible to $1,000 or more.
4) Dropping your uninsured motorists (UM) coverage.
5) Dropping your liability limits from "recommended" limits of 100/300/50 down to 25/50/10. (Many states have minimum liability limits of 25/50/10, but some require higher or lower minimum coverage depending on where you live). The trick is knowing how low you can go without leaving yourself vulnerable, with too little protection in the event of an accident.
6) Some consumers find that a good way to cut their insurance premiums is to just do their due diligence and comparison shop and switch from one insurance company to another based only on price.
By Michael Collins
When choosing life insurance, one of the most important decisions that one must make is whether to purchase a whole life policy or a term life policy.
Whole life policies, once enacted, will cover the policyholder from that day until the day that they die. This is good for policyholders because they will no longer have to worry about dying unexpectedly and being uninsured. However, this comes with a price. Whole life policies are far more expensive than term policies, because lifetime coverage guarantees payment upon the death of the policyholder. Whole life insurance is essentially a savings account. The policyholder pays the insurance company throughout the duration of their life, who will pay the beneficiary upon the policyholder's death. Whole life policies are considered assets, so they can be borrowed against or surrendered early for cash.
Term life insurance are generally considered to be a more cost-effective option, especially for younger people. Terms can be anywhere from one to thirty years. Because the policy can expire, there is a chance that the insurance company will not have to pay, so rates are lower; although they get higher with age. A major drawback to term, however, is that it is not considered an asset and has no cash value.
Overall, both types of life insurance have advantages and drawbacks. However, I believe that term life insurance is superior, mainly due to the cheaper rates. Whole life insurance may be attractive, but the money that would go toward the high rates could simply be invested or put in a savings account by the policyholder and have a similar effect.
Second, insurance can gives you peace of mind. It let you know that if anything happens to you, your family will be financially secure. Your back up plan had been set in place. This way you can relax a little more while you are on vacation, knowing that if someone should break into your home and carry off your property, you are covered. There are certain things in life that we pay for even though we may never use them and insurance is just one of such thing.
But some people tend to be carry away with the insurance products and end up buying policies that they don’t really need. Before spending a penny, always ask yourself if I don’t buy this policy am I putting myself and my family at serious financial risk from a genuine and common danger?