| Self-published book will help Christians raise their money IQ
by Joel Belz Posted 4/17/15, 01:00 am
It doesn’t much matter, says banker Joe Kesler, what dozen people you invite to sit down around the lunch table: They all have money problems.
For obvious reasons, they may not want to talk about those problems. It’s just too embarrassing. There’s the young father whose credit card debt has gotten way out of control. And there’s the widow who has an attractive nest egg for retirement, but absolutely no idea where to invest it productively and safely. They both have money problems. And then there’s everybody in between.
A new quarter. In the past week, we turned over a new month and a new quarter. Though we still have plenty of problems in the economy, it’s fair to say we have more good news than bad. Stock market performance was mixed. The Dow was down slightly for the quarter, but the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ both rose. In fact, they rose for the ninth consecutive quarter.
| The rise of the dollar against other currencies carries risks and rewards
David Skeel | 4/03/15, 01:00 am
I first learned about the dollar’s recent strength after noticing something odd about the change in my pockets several months ago: lots of Canadian dimes and quarters. Since I haven’t been to Canada lately, I suspected Canadian coins might be showing up in cash registers because they’d recently become cheaper than American money. And indeed they had: Last July, a Canadian dollar was worth roughly the same as an American dollar; as of late March, it was worth 80 cents.
Calm before the storm. Last Monday, I said the week before had been pretty quiet, but we can now say it was a calm before another storm. In Europe, Greece and its key creditor Germany kept trying to work out a deal for Greece’s debt. But because both sides remain intractable, the deal continues to stall, spooking the global markets. The Dow lost ground four out of five days last week. We also saw a continuation of volatility in the markets. On 14 of the first 19 trading sessions in March, the Dow moved up or down more than 100 points.
Yellen speaks. The big news last week was a two-day Federal Reserve meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. Fed-watchers were on the lookout for a single word: “patient.” Past statements from the Fed said the central bank would be “patient” about raising interest rates. The markets interpreted that to mean as long as the word “patient” was in the statement, an interest rate hike was still off in the future. But when the Fed eliminated the word patient, it would signal interest rate hikes could come soon.
Another volatile week. The markets were volatile again last week. After a five-year rally without a serious correction, sometimes news the markets think could throw a wet blanket on the fire causes a big drop. Then, the fire burns through the blanket anyway and the markets rise again. That cycle causes big drops and then—usually within a day or two—big gains again take us back to where we started.
Focus on jobs. Once a month we have a week during which we get a lot of employment related data, and last week was that week for March. On Wednesday, payroll processor ADP said private employers hired 212,000 workers in February. The number was slightly below expectations, but still considered decent. On Thursday, we got the report for first-time claims for unemployment benefits. First-time claims rose by 7,000 to 320,000, the highest number since last May.
| Why not use regulatory relief as a carrot to entice big banks to hold more capital?
David Skeel | 3/06/15, 01:00 am
The main regulatory skirmish in Washington these days pits the new Republican majority, which wants to roll back the 2010 financial reforms known as the Dodd-Frank Act, against Democrats and the president, who vow to protect every jot and tittle.
The Dodd-Frank Act isn’t casual reading: It started out as a 2,319 page law, and bank regulators have added thousands of pages of regulations in the five years since it was passed.