Posts by Rick Newman

  • An alarming new way to steal your passwords

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 2 days ago

    At a restaurant, you pull out your phone to check email. Without even thinking about it, you tap in a PIN to unlock your phone. Your back’s to the wall and nobody can see what you’re typing, so there’s no reason to worry that somebody could intercept your passcode.

    Except, sadly, there is. Researchers at Syracuse University have demonstrated that hackers can guess PINs by analyzing video of people tapping on their smartphone screens -- even when the screen itself isn’t visible. Software used to analyze such video relies on “spatio-temporal dynamics” to gauge the distance from the fingers to the phone’s screen, and then approximate which characters the fingers tap on a keypad. “It’s like lip reading,” says Vir Phoha, an engineering and computer science professor at Syracuse and co-author of a paper on the technology. “Based on hand movement and the known geometry of the phone, we can see which keys are pressed.”

  • How Wall Street may threaten your pension

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 2 days ago

    Most people with a pension probably don’t think much about the fees assessed to manage their retirement money. But maybe they should.

    Recent reporting by journalists Neil Weinberg and Darrell Preston of Bloomberg reveals that some pensions invest money with private-equity firms and other alternative investment firms that charge unusually high fees, whether the money earns a positive return or not. The funds also require a high degree of secrecy as a condition for investing with them, which runs contrary to basic principles of sound investing. “It is a big concern, because if this money goes into the private-equity firms, it’s not there for the pensioners,” Weinberg tells me in the video above. “Their benefits are at risk.”

    [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]

    “If you look into many of these documents, they're not trade secrets,” says Weinberg. “It’s business strategy-type stuff. It has to do with fees, with conflicts of interest. It has to do with some really troubling things.”

  • Your tax bill isn’t as bad as you think

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 3 days ago

    Tax Day is always a grim reminder of how much of the money you earn you don’t get to keep. But taxes are the price of living in a civilized society (ahem) and here in the United States, the tax burden isn’t all that bad, in general.

    The typical American pays 31.5% of his or her income in taxes, including federal, state and local income taxes, plus the amount taken out to fund Social Security and Medicare. (That figure also includes the employer contribution to Social Security and Medicare, which might otherwise be added to your paycheck as income.) That’s a big chunk of money, but it’s lower than in most other advanced countries.

    For all the angst over taxes in America, the tax burden on most people has declined during the last 35 years. President Obama raised some taxes beginning in 2013, but that mostly affected high earners. For many middle-income families, the effective federal tax rate -- after deductions and other tax breaks -- is the lowest it has been in decades, as this data shows:

  • Chris Christie is showing how to lose an election — by 'reforming' Social Security

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 4 days ago

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is already losing—and he hasn’t even declared his candidacy yet.

    Christie, who may eventually join the pack of candidates battling to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, has attempted to demonstrate his readiness for office by tackling a big and important idea: The need to make Social Security and Medicare more financially stable. Without any changes, Social Security will run short of money sometime in the mid-2030sand Medicare will flatline a few years earlier. Everybody in Washington knows these entitlement programs need to be revamped. But few politicians are willing to propose specific ways to either cut back benefits or raise taxes to keep the program fully funded.

    The most prevalent objection is the idea that retirees who contributed to Social Security their whole working lives would get short-changed in retirement if the government cut back benefits — no matter how wealthy the recipient. Here’s one of many examples:

    3. Key lobbying groups such as AARP will have to back the changes.

  • Hillary Clinton is bashing CEOs -- while taking their money

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 4 days ago

    It’s unremarkable these days to hear somebody bad-mouthing CEOs who pull down 7-, 8- or even 9-figure salaries. Unless the bad-mouther is Hillary Clinton.

    The leading Democratic candidate for president has kicked off her campaign with a mild but unexpected jab at the leaders of corporate America. In an email to supporters right after declaring her candidacy, Clinton lamented the strains on ordinary families “when the average CEO makes about 300 times what the average worker makes.” Analysts interpret the populist remark as a leftward turn meant to appease liberals outraged over soaring income inequality and the outsized lifestyles of the one percent.

    [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]

    Here’s a sampling of businesspeople in the top tier of donors — giving $25,000 to Ready for Hillary — according to the Center for Responsive Politics:

    Eli Broad, retired entrepreneur who made billions in insurance and home building. Estimated net worth: $7.1 billion.

  • Here's how Hillary Clinton plans to raise tons of campaign money

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 5 days ago

    The gusher is officially open.

    Hillary Clinton’s formal entry into the 2016 presidential race is also the launch of a wildly ambitious fundraising effort. Clinton aides have promised an “insane” push to wring money from donors that might be the most successful ever. By Election Day in 2016, total donations to Clinton’s campaign could approach $1 billion. Barack Obama in 2012 raised a mere $716 million.

    Clinton will inherit the innovative financing network Barack Obama developed during two terms in the White House. And oh yeah, her husband Bill, once president himself, still has a multitude of of rich and powerful friends, including many who contribute to the Clinton Foundation. “She’s a very, very good fundraiser,” says Bill Allison of the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation, which monitors the role of money in politics. “It won’t surprise me if she has eye-popping numbers.”

  • Here’s where Marco Rubio gets his campaign money

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 5 days ago

    The first two Republicans to declare their presidential ambitions—Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky—will most likely battle each other for a limited pool of funds donated by true-red conservatives. Marco Rubio, the third Republican to declare his candidacy, has a much better shot at corralling serious corporate money.

    Politically, Rubio has been migrating from the limited-government, Tea Party edge of the GOP toward the mainstream, aligning himself with business interests seeking modest reforms rather than the radical downsizing of government. “Rubio has positioned himself as an establishment candidate with appeal to grass-roots conservatives,” says Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who advised the McCain presidential campaign in 2008. “He knows he needs to keep the car between two white lines and appeal to the rank-and-file Republican voter.”

  • Here's where Rand Paul gets his campaign money

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 11 days ago

    He’s not quite the iconoclast Ted Cruz is, but Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky will need a lot more money from mainstream corporate donors if he wants to mount a serious bid for the White House.

    Paul, the second Republican to officially declare that he’s running for president, after Cruz, has a devoted following among small-government libertarians and home-state industries such as Big Coal. But Paul has snagged little corporate money, which isn’t surprising given some of the policies he advocates. [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]

    Still, Paul has managed to raise more than $14 million since first being elected to the Senate in 2010. Here are his top 10 donors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics:

    Club for Growth, the conservative political-action group. Donations to Paul since 2009: $106,515.

  • 13 CEOs who hang out at the White House

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 18 days ago

    Corporate America may not have a BFF in the Oval Office, but the White House still welcomes the nation’s business leaders. Lots of them.

    The Obama administration has been making the White House visitor logs public since 2009, and it recently updated the records for 2014. Most people who visit the White House are ordinary Americans taking a public tour, but many VIPs drop by as well. We downloaded the latest data, which covers the first 11 months of 2014 and includes 747,000 individual records.

    Rex Tillerson, CEO, Exxon Mobil (XOM)

    Date of visit: March 12, 2014 Met with: Jeff Zients, Director of the National Economic Council

    Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors (GM)

    Date of visit: Jan. 28, 2014 Met with: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama

    Mark Fields, CEO, Ford Motor Co. (F)

    Randall Stephenson CEO, AT&T (T)

  • How American frackers plan to beat OPEC

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 22 days ago

    Gary Evans, CEO of Houston-based energy firm Magnum Hunter Resources (MHR), has a blunt message for OPEC oil ministers hoping to force down prices and drive American competitors out of business. “OPEC is making a huge mistake,” he says. “We made a lot of money with oil at $100 (per barrel), and we’ll become more efficient and make a lot of money at $50.”

    The Saudis are right when it comes to costs: Extracting so-called tight oil from shale deposits in America is considerably more expensive than Saudi Arabia’s own drilling costs, which by some estimates is as low as $10 per barrel. What the Saudis may not have counted on, however, is extreme cost-cutting underway at many drillers, which is making them far more efficient and pushing down the price at which they can turn a profit. The Saudis’ market-share move could even backfire, as U.S. frackers become more efficient competitors. “We will figure out how to operate in a lower price environment,” Evans says. “Anybody who thinks our costs are too high – that’s absolute bull crap.” Lower rig counts