Posts by Rick Newman

  • The jobs recovery is weaker than it seems

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 5 hrs ago

    The numbers seem terrific: 3.2 million jobs created during the last 12 months, an average of 267,000 per month. Economists expect another 250,000 or so new jobs when the official numbers for February come out Friday morning. The pace of job creation now is comparable to the pace of the late 1990s, when the economy was booming.

    These are not boom times, however, and the fine print in the job numbers and other economic data helps explain why. The biggest problem is that new jobs being created pay less, on average, than jobs lost during the last several years. That’s holding down pay and depressing middle-class living standards. We’re also likely to see more evidence soon that plunging oil prices are causing job losses in the energy sector, which until recently was one of the brightest spots in the whole U.S. economy.

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  • Why the fake president on 'House of Cards' is better than the real one

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 6 hrs ago

    Frank Underwood, the fictional president played by Kevin Spacey on the Netflix series "House of Cards," is a murderous villain who’s more Machiavellian than any real president in recent history.

    He’s also a model of political courage, compared with modern politicians.

    In season 3, in the midst of a recession, with unemployment soaring and his approval rating sinking, Underwood goes on TV to tell the American people this:

    The American Dream has failed you. Work hard. Play by the rules. You aren’t guaranteed success. Your children will not have a better life than you did…. We’ve been crippled by Social Security. By Medicare. Medicaid. Welfare. And entitlements. And that is the root of the problem. Entitlements. Let me be clear: You are entitled to nothing. You. Are entitled. To nothing.

    Rick Newman’s latest book is Liberty for All: A Manifesto for Reclaiming Financial and Political Freedom. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman .

  • It’s a great time to cheat on your taxes

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 1 day ago

    If you don’t already cheat on your taxes, it’s an opportune time to start.

    For the fourth year in a row, the Internal Revenue Service will be doing more with less when it audits 2014 tax returns, with the odds of getting audited falling to an 11-year low. Just 0.86% of individual tax filers are likely to get audited this year. In 2010, the odds were 1.11%. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen calls that change “a deeply disturbing drop in our individual audit rates.” The odds of wealthy filers earning more than $1 million getting audited have fallen from 8.4% to 7.5% since 2010. For big corporations, the odds of an audit are down from 16.7% to 12.2%.

    The IRS certainly needs effective Congressional oversight, which in the past has forced the agency to be less hostile and more helpful toward typical taxpayers. But starving the agency doesn’t serve honest taxpayers at all. Giving the IRS the resources to do its job would.

  • Got $172? That's the typical Obamacare penalty

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 6 days ago

    One of the last big unanswered questions about the Affordable Care Act is how taxpayers will react when they have to pay penalty fees for the first time this tax filing season. We’re beginning to find out.

    Obamacare, as the ACA is known, requires most Americans to have health insurance or fork over a “shared responsibility payment” — aka, a penalty fee -- which is assessed each year when people file their tax returns. The fee for 2014 is $95 or 1% of your income, whichever is more. But a long list of exemptions provides an out for many uninsured people, and this year is the first test of whether the penalties and exemptions will generate outrage or generally seem fair.

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  • Americans still want bigger homes -- even though they should downsize instead

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 7 days ago

    Don’t do it, people!

    New research from real-estate data firm Trulia shows that Americans still crave big homes, even after a brutal housing bust proved the perils of overspending on real estate. In a Trulia poll, 43% of people said their ideal home is bigger than the one they live in now, while just 16% said they’d prefer a smaller home. Forty percent said they’re satisfied with the size of their current home.

    There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, of course, but the trend toward purchasing ever-bigger homes seems to have resumed after the disruption caused by the housing bust that began in 2006. The average size of a new home has dipped in recent months, according to data from the National Association of Home Builders, but at about 2,600 square feet, it’s still close to record highs, as this chart shows:

    Rick Newman’s latest book is Liberty for All: A Manifesto for Reclaiming Financial and Political Freedom. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman .

  • Hillary Clinton paid $300,000 to explain what ails the middle class

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 8 days ago

    She’s identified the problem. Now, assuming she runs for president, Hillary Clinton will have to come up with ways to solve it.

    During a speech in Silicon Valley, Clinton, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, highlighted the displacement many workers have suffered as new technology has made many jobs obsolete. “The old jobs and careers are either gone or unrecognizable,” Clinton said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “The old rules just don’t seem to apply, and, frankly, the new rules just aren’t that clear. “[If] we want to find our balance again, we have to figure out how to make this new economy work for everyone.”

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

    But that comes after getting elected president, and for now, Clinton has at least identified the right issue for debate: Finding new ways to assure the digital economy does more good than harm for the largest number of Americans. At the moment, there’s no app for that.

  • How to bank hundreds of dollars more each month

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 9 days ago

    Robert Shiller, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, offered some simple advice for people trying to get ahead when he visited Yahoo Finance recently: Live like a student.

    “My students are living alright,” Shiller said. “I’ve suggested to them, why don’t you just continue to live at that level after you get a job? It would pile up into a lot of money.”

    Struggling workers might take offense at a comfortable, accomplished Yale professor suggesting middle-class Americans should subsist on ramen noodles and hand-me-down furniture. But Shiller, like other economists, is addressing a stark reality: Many Americans live beyond their means, with 20% of adults spending more than they earn, according to the Federal Reserve. Less that half of all adult Americans have enough money saved to cover a $400 financial emergency. Millions more are far short of the funds they’ll need to retire comfortably.

    Estimated savings from caring less about my house: $300 per month.

  • Working women earn more than Patricia Arquette may realize

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 10 days ago

    Academy Award winner Patricia Arquette used her 80-second acceptance speech at Sunday night's Oscar ceremony to champion women’s rights, declaring, “it’s our time to have wage equality once and for all!” The crowd roared, with Hollywood royalty such as fellow Oscar winner Meryl Streep cheering in solidarity. Many viewers no doubt did the same at home.

    Arquette continued her equality push on Twitter following the Oscars, arguing, among other things that "women have been basically paying a gender tax for generations:"

    Women have been basically paying a gender tax for generations.

    Guess which women are the most negatively effected in wage inequality? Women of color. #Equalpay for ALL women. Women stand together in this

    If you are fighting against #Equalpay you are fighting for ALL women and especially women of color to make less money than men.

  • If Apple wants to transform cars, it should build this instead of copying Tesla

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 13 days ago

    The tech world is going gaga over the prospect that mighty Apple will enter the car business and teach those fumblebums at General Motors (GM), Toyota (TM), BMW and Tesla (TSLA) how to build a 21 st -century vehicle.

    There are plenty of reasons to beskeptical that Apple will ever manufacture cars for public sale. The car business is a low-margin heavy industry, for instance, whereas Apple (AAPL) is a high-margin consumer-product company. It does make sense for Apple to get more involved in cars as a supplier of information, software and control systems, but not as a manufacturer running its own assembly lines.

    More from Yahoo Finance

  • The future price of oil? Nobody has a clue

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 15 days ago

    Oil prices could plunge to as low as $10 per barrel. Or they could soar to an unprecedented $200 per barrel.

    This is the rather wide range of estimates coming from some of the financial world’s most knowledgeable forecasters. Some will turn out to be right, but many will end up being very, very wrong. Predicting something as volatile as oil prices is a fool’s errand, of course, yet that doesn’t stop analysts from insisting that this time, they really know what’s going to happen.

    History, however, shows they don’t. Here, for instance, are some of the predictions from a year or so ago, for the price of West Texas crude -- the U.S. benchmark -- in 2014:

    Goldman Sachs (GS): $90

    Barclays (BCS): $97

    International Monetary Fund: $102

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