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18 Jan 2009 - 23 Feb 2021
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Linda Stern
Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
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OCT 17, 2012
Stern Advice: Munibond maniacs, beware
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – For almost a year now, investors have been flinging money at municipal bonds like they were $20 iPads.
In the week ending October 10, U.S. munibond mutual funds had their biggest week since April, with nearly $915 million in new inflows, according to Lipper, a Thomson Reuters company. Individual investors bought 1.9 bonds for each one they sold.
Maybe those investors were attracted to the outsized returns these traditionally “safe” investments have been delivering. General and insured munibond mutual funds have had total returns of 7.89 percent so far this year, compared with the 2.75 percent total returns logged by Treasury funds, Lipper said. Last year those same munifunds returned 11.29 percent to investors, while the Treasury funds returned 7.11 percent.
OCT 10, 2012
Stern Advice: Don’t let your finances fall off the cliff
WASHINGTON, Oct 10 (Reuters) – It’s time to watch Washington to see just how bad your New Year’s eve is going to be. Without any action in the Capitol, the U.S. economy is said to be poised to fall off of a “fiscal cliff.”
Projected increases in taxes and cuts in spending would throw the economy into another recession, says the Congressional Budget Office, and it could throw your family finances over the edge, a cc ording to analysts.
That’s because of several issues all hitting at once. The George W. Bush-era tax cuts expire on December 31, and without any extensions personal income tax rates will rise, as will rates on capital gains and dividends. Also expiring is the temporary 2 percent payroll tax cut that has boosted workers’ paychecks for the last two years. Beginning on January 1, there’s a new 3.8 percent surtax on investment income for people earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 for couples).
OCT 10, 2012
Don’t let your finances fall off the fiscal cliff
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It’s time to watch Washington to see just how bad your New Year’s eve is going to be. Without any action in the Capitol, the U.S. economy is said to be poised to fall off of a “fiscal cliff.”
Projected increases in taxes and cuts in spending would throw the economy into another recession, says the Congressional Budget Office, and it could throw your family finances over the edge, according to analysts.
That’s because of several issues all hitting at once. The George W. Bush-era tax cuts expire on December 31, and without any extensions personal income tax rates will rise, as will rates on capital gains and dividends. Also expiring is the temporary 2 percent payroll tax cut that has boosted workers’ paychecks for the last two years. Beginning on January 1, there’s a new 3.8 percent surtax on investment income for people earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 for couples).
OCT 10, 2012
Stern Advice: Don’t let your finances fall off the fiscal cliff
WASHINGTON, Oct 10 (Reuters) – It’s time to watch Washington to see just how bad your New Year’s eve is going to be. Without any action in the Capitol, the U.S. economy is said to be poised to fall off of a “fiscal cliff.”
Projected increases in taxes and cuts in spending would throw the economy into another recession, says the Congressional Budget Office, and it could throw your family finances over the edge, a cc ording to analysts.
That’s because of several issues all hitting at once. The George W. Bush-era tax cuts expire on December 31, and without any extensions personal income tax rates will rise, as will rates on capital gains and dividends. Also expiring is the temporary 2 percent payroll tax cut that has boosted workers’ paychecks for the last two years. Beginning on January 1, there’s a new 3.8 percent surtax on investment income for people earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 for couples).
OCT 3, 2012
Grandpa has dementia, but he’s still trading stocks
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It’s a sad, sticky and increasingly common situation: An elderly relative insists on managing his money, but you suspect he’s losing his ability to handle that.
The older people get, the more likely they are to suffer cognitive decline. Roughly 14 percent of people over 71 have some level of dementia, according to the National Institutes of Health. For those in their 90s, the rate rises to 37.4 percent.
Many older folks have spent a lifetime managing their finances and take pride in it. They may hold onto their checkbooks and brokerage statements more tightly than they do their car keys. Take the parents of John M. Smartt Jr., a Knoxville, Tennessee certified public accountant and investment adviser, who have been married for almost 70 years. Just last week they finally agreed to merge their separate checking accounts and allow Smartt to write checks for them.
OCT 3, 2012
Stern Advice-Grandpa has dementia, but he’s still trading stocks
WASHINGTON, Oct 3 (Reuters) – It’s a sad, sticky and increasingly common situation: An elderly relative insists on managing his money, but you suspect he’s losing his ability to handle that.
The older people get, the more likely they are to suffer cognitive decline. Roughly 14 percent of people over 71 have some level of dementia, according to the National Institutes of Health. For those in their 90s, the rate rises to 37.4 percent.
Many older folks have spent a lifetime managing their finances and take pride in it. They may hold onto their checkbooks and brokerage statements more tightly than they do their car keys. Take the parents of John M. Smartt Jr., a Knoxville, Tennessee certified public accountant and investment adviser, who have been married for almost 70 years. Just last week they finally agreed to merge their separate checking accounts and allow Smartt to write checks for them.
AUG 1, 2012
Stern Advice: GNMA funds have a following despite low rates
WASHINGTON, Aug 1 (Reuters) – Lately mortgage interest rates have been hitting one record low after another. At the same time, we’re seeing increases in mortgage defaults, foreclosures and short sales in which lenders get less than 100 cents to the dollar for the loans they’ve let. So why would anyone want to be a mortgage lender right now?
That would be a good question to ask investors who have thrown $6.9 billion into Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA)-backed mutual funds in the year ending June 30, according to figures from Lipper, a Thomson Reuters company.
They have their reasons. GNMA-backed mortgages are backed by the government, so they are relatively risk-free. Even at record lows, they yield more than Treasuries do. And Federal Reserve policymakers have hinted that they might be willing to buy big bunches of these mortgage-backed bonds if they have to do another round of quantitative easing to stimulate the economy.
JUL 25, 2012
Prepping for the summer wave of short sales
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Coming soon to a neighborhood near you: A late-summer wave of short sales, as homeowners, mortgage bankers and potential buyers all race to settlement on bargain-priced homes that are worth less than the mortgages written on them.
“We’re seeing a rush already,” said Daren Blomquist of Realtytrac, a firm that monitors real estate foreclosures and distressed sales. “There was a big increase in the first quarter and we’re expecting that to continue.”
A short sale occurs when the lender agrees to let the property be sold for less than the amount owed on the mortgage.
JUL 25, 2012
Stern Advice-Prepping for the summer wave of short sales
WASHINGTON, July 25 (Reuters) – Coming soon to a neighborhood near you: A late-summer wave of short sales, as homeowners, mortgage bankers and potential buyers all race to settlement on bargain-priced homes that are worth less than the mortgages written on them.
“We’re seeing a rush already,” said Daren Blomquist of Realtytrac, a firm that monitors real estate foreclosures and distressed sales. “There was a big increase in the first quarter and we’re expecting that to continue.”
A short sale occurs when the lender agrees to let the property be sold for less than the amount owed on the mortgage.
JUL 18, 2012
Stern Advice: Designing your own mortgage
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Here’s an appealing idea: What if you could design your home loan so the house is paid off exactly when your kids go off to college, or when you retire? Or if you could refinance for 10, 12 or 17 years, instead of the standard 15- or 30-year terms on most fixed-rate mortgages?
Of course, most borrowers are free to prepay their mortgages, but now, some lenders are letting people borrow money for as many – or as few – years as they like.
Quicken Loans has created a product based on that premise. Called YOURgage, it lets borrowers choose the term of their loan – anything from 8 years to 30 years. Other lenders, who haven’t marketed their efforts so explicitly, also are allowing borrowers to chose alternative maturities on their loans.
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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 www.twitter.com/LindaStern. And when she expresses opinions, they are her own and not those of her employer."
HOMETOWN:
Emerson, N.J.
JOINED REUTERS:
October 2010
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EMAIL:
linda.stern@thomsonreuters.com
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