Financial News

335,000 Amex cardholders to receive $59.5 million in restitution

With an average refund of $177, the 335,000 American Express cardholders who will be receiving restitution can celebrate the newest action of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Continue reading

Ocean’s 16: the lottery curse redux

“The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory.”

-from George Orwell’s 1984 Continue reading

NC Tax Simplification and Reduction Act: What tax break?

Many North Carolinians are miffed by recent legislative reforms in the state.  They’re tired of politicians spouting mindless, scripted rhetoric.  The recent television ad with governor Pat McCrory saying “We’re stepping on the toes of the left and the right to make tough, necessary changes” only makes many North Carolinians more distressed.  In this commercial—paid for by a 501(c)(4) group called Renew NC—McCrory makes some generic claims about how he is making the state better. Continue reading

Medical Expense Tax Deductions Changing in 2013

Even with the help of health insurance, medical expenses cost a whole lot and they are only continuing to rise year after year. The good thing is that insurance premiums, co-pays and uncovered medical expenses are deductible as itemized deductions on your tax returns. Whether you are covered by your employer or by an individual coverage, there are some tips that you can use to make sure you are maximizing your deductions. Continue reading

Hockey: We need you to end the lockout!

I have never been a hockey fan.  Maybe it’s because of being played on ice, or maybe because it doesn’t use a ball; possibly, it’s because hockey seems like a glorified version of boxing with extra padding.  Whatever the reason, I’ve never liked the sport, and I never will. Continue reading

Forty-seven percent of Americans don’t pay income tax…

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.” Continue reading

Oil In Africa?

OIL! The magical three letter that so much of our life depends on. Oil touches modern Americans in nearly everything they use and do in daily life. Whether it is the oil used in plastics, oil used to fuel their cars and homes, or the oil used to produce and transport nearly all goods and services imaginable, oil has a tangible effect on all of us. When I think of oil, I think of the Middle East as most Americans probably do. That is why a recent discovery of oil in Africa of all places is blog-worthy. With gas prices expected to reach record highs this summer it goes without saying that a discovery of oil is positive news, however, could the recent discovery of oil in Kenya really have any effect on American consumers? Continue reading

Structural Unemployment – Part Deux

I painted a fairly bleak picture of structural unemployment in my previous post. First, let me reiterate economists do not agree on any quantitative measure of structural unemployment in the economy, nor do they agree that it is a pressing issue moving forward. Paul Krugman has argued that structural unemployment is a non issue under present circumstances, while Narayana Kocherlakota of the Minneapolis Fed is worried that structural unemployment is ultimately eroding the Federal Reserve’s capability to fight high unemployment through conventional monetary policy tools. I’ll let the experts continue haggling over the precise extent of the problem. If President Kocherlakota is correct, however, policy makers need to ask some serious questions about the efficacy of monetary policy moving forward. Continue reading

Are you cyclically or structurally unemployed?

The phrase “jobless recovery” is one we have become all too accustomed to hearing in the financial news.  Economists assure us economic growth is underway, but most Americans take little comfort in knowing that the recession officially ended in June 2009.  At that time, the official unemployment rate was 9.5%.  Fast forward 24 months to the present, and the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics place the official rate at 9.1%.  Over the past 2 years, GDP has grown at an approximate average annual rate of 2.4%, while unemployment has only fallen by a net 0.4% over the same period.  The failure of the recovering economy to create new jobs has led many economists to speculate that the labor market is suffering from something much more severe than simple lack of demand for workers. Continue reading