Posts by Rick Newman
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance1 day ago
There have been several efforts by the government to help struggling homeowners, and most haven’t accomplished much. Now there’s a new plan to help first-time buyers purchase a property—and it’s already controversial.
Mel Watt, director of the agency that oversees the mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC), says the government will soon announce new rules meant to lower the required down payment on home purchases and relax other rules that have left many potential buyers unable to get approved for a mortgage. Watt hasn’t yet spelled out the details, but the changes might allow buyers to score a property with a down payment of as little as 3%.
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance2 days ago
Monetary policy is usually pretty dull stuff. But during the last six years, the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented quantitative easing program became a high-stakes economic experiment that generated a surprising amount of divisive political fodder.
The Fed first began QE, as it’s known, in November 2008, shortly after Lehman Brothers collapsed and the government began bailing out banks to prevent a full-blown financial panic. The Fed’s plan was to supercharge the economic stimulus it was trying to create through traditional maneuvers such as cutting short-term interest rates. Ben Bernanke, who was Fed chairman at the time, was an expert on the Great Depression and the misguided actions of the Fed during that period, which arguably made the depression worse. He was determined to play a more constructive role in helping the economy recover.
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance3 days ago
NFL teams can use more than 500 footballs on any given Sunday during the season, with more than 700,000 official Wilson balls sold each year. So the sale of a few dozen should barely attract notice.
Yet shoppers in China got the league’s attention two years ago when they bought 72 footballs from the NFL’s shop on Tmall, the huge Chinese e-commerce site owned by Alibaba (BABA). The NFL was trying to ramp up promotion of the sport in a few big Chinese cities, and had run into a problem. “Nobody could get a football,” says Frank Lavin, global CEO of Export Now, a consulting firm that helped the NFL contract with Tmall. “People would travel to the United States and bring back three in their suitcase.”
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance8 days ago
The travel industry wants you to take more time off -- and they’ve got the data to prove you should.
The U.S. Travel Association has been publishing research on Americans’ work and vacation habits, and apparently we suffer from a “work martyr complex” that leaves us needlessly chained to the office.
The latest data shows the typical worker who gets paid time off takes just 16 days of vacation per year, even though she’s entitled to about 21 days of leave. Some of those lost vacation days can be rolled into the following year, but some are lost permanently.
Those 16 days of annual getaway time represent a new low in the amount of vacation Americans take. Here's the trend since 1976:
The USTA calls those five foregone vacation days “America’s lost week” and says it costs the U.S. economy $284 billion per year. And if you happen to be one of those undervacationed workaholics, the travel association has important news for you: Spending extra time at the office won’t help your career.
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance8 days ago
Imagine you’re a boss with a worker who tells you he was exposed to the deadly Ebola virus. What would you do?
An increasing number of businesses, universities and other types of organizations are beginning to ask that question, as the Ebola death toll rises and authorities warn the virus could infect 10,000 people per week by the end of the year globally. And the answers aren't simple ones. “A pandemic touches all parts of a business, potentially,” says Randy Nornes, executive vice president at consulting firm Aon Risk Solutions. “This is an extremely complex topic. When a pandemic comes up, one thing a lot of companies find is a lot of connectivity is missing inside the organization."
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance10 days ago
If the price of a car or an iPhone drops, that’s usually good news for consumers. So it might be puzzling that investors and economists suddenly seem freaked out about the possibility of deflation, or a sustained drop in the level of all prices, on average.
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance13 days ago
The middle class is struggling to get ahead, largely because incomes are stagnant. Many workers can’t get a meaningful raise, others earn less than they used to and too many people are still unemployed, earning nothing.
But some employees are getting handsome raises, and they’re not just CEOs and Silicon Valley developers. New data published by Moody’s Analytics shows that workers in a large subset of the labor force earned 4.5% more in the third quarter than they did a year earlier. That’s more than twice the average increase in wages tracked by the government. It’s also more than twice the rate of inflation, which means these workers, at least, are getting ahead.
Moody’s analyzed data provided by payroll processor ADP, covering 24 million employees—roughly one-fifth of all U.S. workers. “There are some signs of wage growth beginning to pick up,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said in the video above. “People are starting to see pay increases that are above the rate of inflation, and the pay increases are accelerating.
Here’s a breakdown of wage gains by select characteristics:
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance14 days ago
Anybody who studies lists of best colleges is used to seeing Ivy League schools and a few other elite perennials filling the top 10. But in a new list of rankings meant to identify the best colleges for lower-income students, the Ivies are closer to the bottom than the top.
Montana Tech is the No. 1 school in a new “social mobility index” generated by CollegeNet, a higher-education technology company, and Payscale, a compensation-data firm. The SMI rankings are meant to highlight schools that do the best job of helping disadvantaged students graduate with the ability to start a career free of crushing levels of debt. Five criteria determine the SMI rankings: tuition, percentage of the student body from low-income households, graduation rate, salaries of grads once they start working, and the size of each school’s endowment. Here are the top and bottom 10:
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance15 days ago
It’s as predictable as birds soiling your windshield: When gas prices fall, Americans buy bigger cars.
Falling gas prices are generally good news for consumers, since less money going into the tank means more money for other stuff. If gas prices fall by 50 cents per gallon and stay there for a year, the typical consumer’s disposable income rises by 1%, according to forecasting firm IHS. For somebody earning $50,000, that’s an extra $500. Spending rises by nearly as much, which helps the overall economy.
Drivers have been getting this type of break lately. Gas prices at the pump have fallen from about $3.75 per gallon in June to about $3.20 today. They’re below $3 in at least six states, according to the American Automobile Association, and pump prices are likely to fall further as the global oil market works off a glut that could last for months.
There’s a dark side to cheap gas, however, because falling fuel prices—which usually don’t last—lead many car buyers to purchase bigger, thirstier vehicles—which is a long-term commitment.
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance16 days ago
President Obama should get some credit for pulling the U.S. economy out of a nosedive in 2009 and ending a brutal recession before it became a depression. But voters are feeling punitive and they’re inclined to believe Obama has flubbed the economy, which could cost Democrats the Senate in the midterm elections just a few weeks away.
So why can’t Obama get a break on the economy?
Comparing his record with the four other post-war presidents who served two full terms reveals the answer. Here are the changes for five key indicators during the presidencies of Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama, from the first month of their presidency until October of the sixth year, right before the midterms:
Obama’s record is middling on job creation, lowering the unemployment rate and overall GDP growth. Considering that the economy was in the midst of the worst downturn since the 1930s when he took office, those numbers look pretty good.