Posts by Rick Newman

  • America’s seniors are getting a lousy deal on healthcare

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 2 days ago

    The golden years are brighter in other countries.

    American seniors are sicker, more medicated and more hamstrung by medical costs than their counterparts in at least 10 other advanced nations. That’s the troubling conclusion from a new set of surveys conducted by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund and published online by the journal Health Affairs. Researchers surveyed nearly 16,000 adults 65 or older in 11 countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and seven European nations. The findings suggest that the $300 billion American taxpayers spend every year on Medicare, the healthcare program for the elderly, isn’t buying very good results.

    Rick Newman’s latest book is Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success . Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.

  • The Internet is about to transform your car

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 3 days ago

    Traffic is clear, cruise control is set to 65 and I can’t help glancing over as my passenger pulls up a puppy video on her laptop. The sleeping pitbull is so zonked that a woman who is tapping his belly, wiggling his leg and tickling his ear can’t force his eyes open. Everybody in the car giggles as the puppy twitches and rolls over but refuses to wake up.

    But back to the road. I’m driving a 2015 Buick Regal with what may be the newest must-have feature: a 4G LTE cellular connection that turns this unassuming sedan into a powerful rolling hotspot. My passenger is working on her laptop (with occasional amusement breaks); my son, in the backseat, is streaming video onto his own device. And my own smartphone is downloading email and other data through the car’s wi-fi network, reducing data consumption on my cellular plan and saving some battery juice.

    For all the promise, networked cars will endure controversy if they inhibit safety in real-world driving. The technologists will probably get it right eventually, and once they do, the car, rather than the phone, may once again become the ultimate mobile device.

  • New hope for middle-class workers

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 5 days ago

    Working as a sales clerk at a retailer such as Target (TGT) or the Gap (GPS) may not seem like an auspicious career beginning. But new research suggests such “middle skill” jobs could lead to much better opportunity than many Americans realize, and perhaps even represent the missing link in a lackluster economic recovery.

    Researchers at Harvard Business School, consulting firm Accenture and analytics group Burning Glass have published a new report that helps explain a strange new paradox of the U.S. economy: employers are struggling to fill many key openings even as an unusually large number of workers are underemployed or sidelined completely.

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    Rick Newman’s latest book is Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success . Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.

  • Another rude Obamacare surprise awaits

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 5 days ago

    Taxes are bad enough when you know they’re coming—and much worse when they arrive unexpectedly.

    As the Affordable Care Act enters its second year of operability, a key and controversial element of the plan will begin to affect several million Americans for the first time. People who didn’t have health insurance during 2014 may soon have to pay a penalty fee that starts at $95 and goes up based on how much you earn. Some Americans know about the penalty, and they’ve budgeted for it or at least accepted its inevitability. But several million others could be in for a rude surprise when Washington assesses a fee they didn’t even know was coming.

    Rick Newman’s latest book is Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success . Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.

  • Income taxes are lower than you think

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 10 days ago

    You probably think your taxes are too damn high. Chances are, you’re wrong.

    The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office just published its annual analysis of Americans’ income and taxes, and guess what – American taxpayers continue to get a pretty good deal. The average household pays 19.3% of its income in federal taxes, CBO estimates. The middle 60% of families pay just 13%. Since temporary tax cuts expired in 2012 and taxes went up for most workers, those aren’t the lowest rates ever, but they’re close. Tax rates were about 6 percentage points higher in 1979 and relatively stable at those levels, until Congress began to cut them starting in the late 1990s.

    This chart shows the changes over time, by income group:

    This chart shows income trends since 1979, broken down by income group:

    Rick Newman’s latest book is Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success . Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.

  • Obamacare begins to unravel

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 12 days ago

    There was strong opposition to Medicare before it went in to effect in 1965, but after that, the health program for seniors quickly became an accepted and even popular part of the U.S. medical system.

    Supporters of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s bold health reform law, often highlight the similarity to Medicare in terms of initial opposition. But Obamacare, as the ACA is known, is hardly catching on like Medicare did (at least not yet). In fact, the law suddenly seems more threatened than at any time since it was passed in 2010, and it’s now possible the whole unwieldy program could collapse.

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

    The administration’s downgrade of estimated enrollees in 2015 highlights the problem. Until recently, the best estimate of 2015 enrollment came from the Congressional Budget Office, which predicted that 13.1 million Americans would be covered by the ACA in 2015. The White House now says the number will only be about 9.1 million, as new people sign up but some who had coverage in 2014 drop out.

  • How to make sure you don’t overpay for college

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 12 days ago

    Never pay list price!

    That’s the mentality Americans have toward electronics, clothing, airplane tickets and cars. And now it’s getting easier to think the same way about college.

    The website College Abacus,founded in 2012, lets prospective students and their parents compare the list price of a university to the net price, once software has determined the amount of grants and scholarships the school would likely offer. Universities are required to have such calculators on their websites, but College Abacus puts all the information in one place, similar to the way Kayak scrolls the web for a variety of airfares, then helps you find the best deal.

    A weak labor market, meanwhile, has left many grads with low-paying jobs and a lousy set of choices: Pay off those college loans, or pay rent? Economists worry that 20-somethings starting their working lives hamstrung with debt may never become the robust purchasers of cars, homes and amusements that their parents were. The slow-growing economy we have now partly reflects that.

  • The economy is better than midterm voters think

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 15 days ago

    The people have spoken. But we may be misinterpreting what they said -- especially about the economy.

    The emerging storyline from the Republican sweep in this year’s midterms is that voters are struggling financially and looking for new leaders who can fix a broken economy. They voted with their pocketbooks, as they often do, and those pocketbooks are thin and threadbare.

    Exit polls show the economy was the top issue among voters, with 65% saying the nation is on the wrong track-- the highest level of voter dissatisfaction in at least 25 years, except for the deep-recession year of 2008. Since President Obama is the most visible face of the economy, voters voiced their displeasure by voting against his party decisively.

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

    Rick Newman’s latest book is Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success . Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.

  • Bad news about jobs is now bad news for stocks

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 16 days ago

    When the first monthly employment report for 2014 came out, it was lousy news. Employers added just 113,000 jobs in January. Economists had been expecting about 180,000. Yet the stock market rose a snappy 1.3% that day, as if a weak economy was somehow good for corporate earnings.

    For the last several years, a kind of perverse logic has permeated economic reports: bad news is actually good for investors, because it means the Federal Reserve will perpetuate the super-easy monetary policy that has helped inflate the price of assets such as stocks. Time and again, traders have interpreted disappointing numbers on jobs, GDP, income and spending as a de facto extension of the Fed’s monetary stimulus, because the ever-accommodative Fed would never tighten up with the economy still weak. For that reason, bad economic data has tended to drive stocks higher rather than lower.

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

  • BMW finally answers Tesla with a “green” supercar

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 17 days ago

    Up till now, Tesla (TSLA) has had the market for high-end greenmobiles pretty much to itself. But that first-mover advantage is ending.

    BMW has just rolled out the head-snapping i8, a plug-in supercar that will test just how much big spenders are willing to pay for a racer with a green badge. This real-life Batmobile starts at about $140,000, but availability is limited for now, and some sellers are asking well over $200,000 for the car. BMW says production should ramp up by next year. 

    For geeks who care about the details: The i8 lets you go about 20 miles on electric power alone, and recharge the battery at home. When the electric power runs low, the gas engine kicks in, while regenerative braking continues to push a small electric boost to the front wheels. Put both systems together and it adds up to a 357-horsepower rocket wrapped in super-lightweight carbon-fiber and aluminum. Fuel economy ranges from 28 MPG to 78 MPG, depending on which mode of driving you're in.