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Mar 10, 2010

BBC The US Economy / Background and Analysis


MarketWatch: Personal Finance Daily , March 10th, 2010


Personal Finance Daily
MARCH 10, 2010

Wednesday's Personal Finance stories

By MarketWatch

Don't miss these top stories:

Overdraft protection: What a brilliant idea -- for the banks, that is.

For a hefty fee, banks offered to pay your bad checks for you, thus helping you avoid all the embarrassment of walking into a store that no longer accepts your checks. And with the advent of debit cards, overdraft kicked into high gear. Consumers could use their plastic cards to make purchases without enough cash in their accounts to cover any of them. Think of the fee bonanza.

Well, things are changing again. Bank of America today said it will soon prohibit most debit-card transactions if the account owner doesn't have money in his or her account, and other banks are expected to follow suit ahead of new rules that will require banks to alert customers before covering an overdraft.

That means if you make a purchase with your debit card but don't have money in your account, you'll get denied at the cash register. That might sound like bad news, but to my mind it's not. A few embarrassing denials at the cash register might prompt more of us to keep better track of how much money is in our account. Nothing like a public revelation of bad financial planning to shame us into what's best for our pocketbook. (And anyway, what is the big deal about getting denied at the register? It's not the end of the world.)

The bad news is, we're losing a known ogre -- the overdraft fee -- for an unknown one. Because you can bet banks will figure out a way to make up the lost revenue.

--Andrea Coombes , Personal Finance editor

Bank of America kills overdraft fees

Bank of America customers will no longer complain about that $40 cup of coffee because they won't be able to buy it if there's not enough money in their debit account.
See story on banks shifting to new forms of overdraft protection.

Steep drops in credit-card balances driven by companies charging off bad debt

Credit-card debt has been falling for 16 straight months but consumers aren't paying off their financial obligations as much you might think.
See story on write-offs driving steep decline in credit-card debt.

Commentary: Senate won't act in consumers' best interests

On behalf of Main Street investors everywhere, here's a message for the United States Senate: Thanks for nothing. Financial reform legislation on the Senate floor this week was supposed to help ensure that ordinary folks get a fair shake from the markets, but it is likely to pass without the single most important item to protect consumers.
See Chuck Jaffe.

Check-cashing firms warn lawmakers on 'burdensome' rules

Representatives of the check-cashing business warned U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday that passing legislation that creates more regulatory barriers could stall business, eventually hurting consumers who lack bank accounts with depository institutions.
See story on check-cashing firms.

Protect babies by losing the slings: Consumer Reports

Devices that allow parents to wear their babies and keep their hands free are popular, but front carriers are less risky for babies than infant slings, a Consumer Reports safety expert said Wednesday.
See Kristen Gerencher's Health Matters Blog.

Got water? There's a filter for that

With concerns mounting about tap-water purity, there are a slew of new products on the market. About the House columnist Wendy Bounds samples filters for faucets, showers, water bottles and pitchers - and even enlists the help of some thirsty friends to determine which filtered pitcher emerges as the winner of a taste-test.
 Watch Video Report.

Money, markets and more

Wall Street gets some jobs news this Thursday. Google has its own apps store but it's all business. Bicyclists can now get a Google Map just for them. Mattel clears the way for characters from TV's "Mad Men" to become Barbie-style dolls.
 Listen to Radio Report.


Anxiety, financial stress linger after a bout of long-term unemployment ends

With the unemployment rate at about 10%, you'd think landing a job in times like these would be enough to make anyone unequivocally happy. But a long-term period of unemployment can bring emotional baggage and financial stress -- even after the new job begins.
See story on the long-term effects of unemployment.

Brand yourself to find a job

What's the next big thing in the job market?'s Adrienne Mitchell tells us it's building your own brand online.
 Listen to Radio Report.


Three ways to boost your confidence about retirement

I know, I know, we're starting to sound like a broken record, or MP3 player. But researchers are once again sounding the alarm that Americans are not saving enough for retirement.
See Robert Powell.

Savings bonds

Holding on to matured bonds is like stashing money under the mattress. Just don't be shy about getting help with redemptions, advises Andrea Coombes.
 Watch Personal Finance Minute.


Unhappy public may give Obama opening on health-care overhaul

As President Barack Obama on Wednesday prepares to pitch his health-care overhaul to the public for the second time in three days, he can take comfort in a new poll that shows Americans want Congress and the president to stick with their reform efforts.
See Capitol Report.

Industry leaders doubt health cost controls

Health insurance reform legislation being pushed by President Barack Obama doesn't do enough to control the rising cost of health care, industry participants said Tuesday, as Obama prepared to hit the road again this week in a bid to sell his nearly $1 trillion overhaul.
See story on health-care reform.


Home tech, dreamt about in the '50s is now here

Home technology, dreamt about in the 1950s, is now a reality. Burger King is firing up new breakfast items. A retired Red Sox ace publishes his first video game. And new Kleenex rolls out new single-use hand towels for your home. Join John Wordock and Ann Cates, and get money news you need to know.
 Listen to Radio Report.

Coping with China's housing boom

Soaring residential property values in China's top-tier cities have some talking bubble. WSJ's Josh Chin reports from Beijing, where even doctors can have a hard time affording a decent house.
 Watch Video Report.


After a winning year for the markets, fund investors still wary of stocks

Ask most financial professionals and they'll tell you the same thing: Investors flee the stock market and then jump back in, but too late for their own good. The evidence of the past year seems to support that view, as new money coming to stock mutual funds has been negligible even as returns have been among the best on record.
See FundWatch.

Commentary: Stock analyst says the market's easy pickings are gone

David Trainer, president of New Constructs Inc., a Nashville-based stock research firm, says that the days of easy money from momentum stocks or hot sectors are over for now. Instead, astute buying and being able to sort out an industry's prospects will separate the winners from the losers.
See Your Money with Chuck Jaffe.

Commentary: Which letters called the market bottom?

Pencils ready? Here's this week's investment pop quiz. The first question: How many stock market timers, of the several hundred monitored by the Hulbert Financial Digest, called the bottom of the bear market a year ago?
See Mark Hulbert.

Liquidations fall, while hedge-fund launches rise

An outgoing voicemail message at the office of Bellman Walter Capital tells callers that the San Francisco-based hedge-fund firm shut down at the end of 2009.
See Hedge Funds.

Between a wirehouse firm and an independent

Hybrid brokerage firms are essentially a combination of traditional wirehouses and independent advisory boutiques. Edward Sullivan, president of SeaCrest Wealth Management, explains why this new phenomenon is gaining steam.
 Watch Video Report.

Tech companies won, investors lost

Ten years ago, investors knew that technology would change the world, and they were right. But you can be 100% right about the future and end up with zero to show for it if you overpay in the first place.
See Jason Zweig.


Too early to declare victory on economy

Economist Ethan Harris wants you to know he's optimistic about the U.S. economy, so you know he's not just being a Gloomy Gus or a permabear when he says the recovery "remains extremely fragile and dependent on policy."
See Forecaster of the Month.

Senate approves extension of unemployment benefits

A bill that would extend unemployment benefits and health-care subsidies passed the Senate on Wednesday, and now moves on to the House.
See Capitol Report.

Corker: No exemption for payday lenders in bank-reform bill

There will be no special exemptions for payday lenders in sweeping bank reform legislation under consideration on Capitol Hill, said a key lawmaker on Wednesday.
See Capitol Report.

Bill fashioned after 'Volcker rule' introduced in Senate

Big commercial banks would be barred from making speculative investments in stocks and derivatives and prohibited from owning hedge funds or private-equity firms, under financial-reform legislation introduced by five Democratic senators Wednesday.
See Capitol Report.

Tailoring a fiduciary standard for brokers

Lawmakers are considering a fiduciary standard for brokers. Suzanne Barlyn, Compliance Watch columnist, talks with David Tittsworth, executive director of the Investment Adviser Association, about how a standard that was crafted for investment advisers can apply to a brokers' business model.
 Watch Video Report.

'Extreme' hurricane season forecast

This year's Atlantic hurricane season could be "extreme" with several major storms hitting the U.S., meteorologists warned Wednesday.
See story on hurricane season.


Best Buy seeks first-mover advantage with 3-D TV push

Aiming to steal a beat on competitors, Best Buy Co. has tied up with Panasonic Corp. to exclusively sell the Japanese electronics giant's first three-dimensional TV home-entertainment system bundle in the U.S.
See story on 3-D televisions.

CNBC: Evening Brief, March 10th 2010


»click here to see the latest top stories from

BBC Alerts: US budget Hits Record of $221bn, , March 10, 2010

US budget deficit hits record $221bn

Dollar bills
The US deficit in 2008 stood at $459bn
The US government recorded a budget deficit of $221bn (£147.6bn) in February - the largest monthly deficit in its history.
The total deficit since the beginning of the fiscal year in October now stands at $651.6bn, the figures from the US treasury show.
That puts it on track to beat last year's record annual budget deficit of $1.4tn.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called the deficit "unsustainable".
However, he maintained that running the deficit was helping the US continue its recovery from the recession in the short-term.
Like the UK, the US is suffering from a fall in tax receipts due to tough economic conditions, while relying on increased spending to drive the recovery.
But analysts called the figures "frightening".
Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said it expected the budget deficit to fall this year as the recovery takes hold.

RTTNews: Evening Market Wrap

Evening Market Wrap Wed Mar 10 17:06 2010 


Mar 10, 2010 Stocks Advance Amid Another Lackluster Trading Day - U.S. Commentary Stocks were able to move higher on Wednesday, even as the economic calendar remained light and trading volume remained subdued. The major averages all closed in positive territory, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq posting a sizable gain. Full Article

Economic News

Mar 10, 2010 Wholesale Inventories Unexpectedly Fell 0.2% In January Wholesale inventories unexpectedly showed a modest decrease in the month of January, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday, although the report also showed a notable increase in wholesale sales. The report showed that wholesale inventories edged down by 0.2 percent in January following a revised 1.0 percent drop in December. The decrease came as a surprise to economists, who had expected inventories to rise by 0.2 percent versus the 0.8 percent drop originally reported for the previous month. Full Article

Corporate News

Mar 10, 2010 Standard Life Posts IFRS Pre-tax Profit In FY09British insurer Standard Life plc (SL.L), in its preliminary results for the full year 2009, reported Wednesday a profit before tax on International Financial Reporting Standards or IFRS basis compared to loss last year, reflecting higher investment return and net earned premiums. For the full year, the company's IFRS profit before tax was GBP 419 million, compared to a pre-tax loss of GBP 406 million in the previous year. Full Article
Mar 10, 2010 Interserve FY09 Profit Rises; Sees Challenging FY10; Wins Over GBP 200 Mln Worth ContractsBritish building and maintenance group Interserve Plc (IRV.L) reported Wednesday a higher profit for fiscal 2009, driven by strong revenue growth across all segments, except Equipment Services. The group expects fiscal 2010 to be challenging, particularly in the first half. Separately, Interserve said it has won GBP 200 million worth contracts in the UK and through its Middle East associates. Full Article
Mar 10, 2010 American Eagle Q4 Profit Climbs 81%; Guides Q1 EPS Above ViewTeen clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (AEO) reported Wednesday that profit for the fourth quarter climbed 81% from last year, helped by strong sales and margins amid fewer markdown sales during the Christmas shopping season. Adjusted earnings per share for the quarter surged, and came in line with analysts' expectations. Quarterly net sales grew 7%, and topped consensus estimate by a whisker. The company also provided earnings forecast for the first quarter of fiscal 2010, above Street view. Full Article
Mar 10, 2010 Terra Now Prefers CF Industries' Bid Over Yara'sNitrogen products maker Terra Industries Inc. (TRA), Wednesday said it now considers the latest bid put forward by CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (CF) better than the deal made in February with Norway-based Yara International ASA (YAR.OL, YARIY.PK). Yara now has five days to come up with a better offer. Meanwhile, CF Industries said Terra is worth more to it than any other company given the strategic benefits, including synergies. Full Article
Mar 10, 2010 Brown-Forman Q3 Profit Drops; Narrows FY10 EPS OutlookAlcoholic beverage manufacturer Brown-Forman Corp. (BF-A, BF-B) Wednesday reported a decline in third-quarter profit, as expenses escalated, despite a rise in sales. Looking ahead, the company narrowed its full-year 2010 earnings forecast. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company's third-quarter net income declined to $107.9 million or $0.73 per share from $123.4 million or $0.81 per share in the corresponding period last year. Full Article


Mar 10, 2010 Cautious OPEC Raises Oil Demand Outlook The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries boosted its outlook for global oil demand growth on Wednesday, but cautioned that demand will be highly dependent on the pace of the US economic recovery. In its monthly oil market report, the cartel also expressed concerns about the level of public debt in almost all OECD regions, record-high unemployment levels across the globe and the ability of China to avoid an overheating. Full Article

Political News

Mar 10, 2010 Israel Under Fire From International Community Over New East Jerusalem Settlement Plan Israel's plan to build 1,600 new houses in East Jerusalem has come under unusually swift and sharp criticism from the international community. Its critics included U.N. Chief, the European Union's foreign-policy head, and the United States, despite being its strongest ally. Full Article
Mar 10, 2010 Obama Pledges Continued Support For Quake-Ravaged Haiti President Barack Obama Wednesday reiterated the U.S. commitment to recovery and rebuilding in Haiti following the earthquake that devastated the nation in January. Speaking in the White House Rose Garden following an Oval Office meeting with Haitian President René Préval, Obama said the time has come for Haiti to rebuild following the massive quake that killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands more homeless. Full Article
Mar 10, 2010 Sebelius Challenges Insurers To Divert Money For Anti-Reform Ads To Cutting PremiumsHealth and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke at the America's Health Insurance Plans conference Wednesday, arguing that the health insurance companies should divert millions in anti-reform advertising dollars and instead use that money to cut premiums. Sebelius told the insurance executives in attendance that they could "choose to take the millions of dollars you have stored away for your next round of ads to kill meaningful reform, and use them to start giving Americans some relief from their skyrocketing premiums." Full Article
Mar 10, 2010 Begich Named To Senate Budget CommitteeSenator Mark Begich, D-Alaska, has been appointed to a vacant seat on the Senate Budget Committee, effective Tuesday night. "As a member of the Senate's Deficit Caucus, I am committed to a new era of fiscal responsibility in Congress," Begich said in a statement on Wednesday. "Alaskans expect me to be a responsible steward of their tax dollars," he added. Full Article
Mar 10, 2010 Poll Shows NY Gov. Paterson's Plunge In Approval Has Bottomed OutA new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed that the substantial drop in New York State Governor David Paterson's approval rating seems to have bottomed out. According to the poll, which surveyed 1,454 New York State registered voters March 5 - 8, 61% of New Yorkers disapprove of the job Paterson is doing compared to only 21% who approve. Full Article
Mar 10, 2010 DCCC Unveils 13 Candidates For Its Red To Blue ProgramThe Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Wednesday that it has named the first thirteen candidates to its Red to Blue program. The Red to Blue program is an effort by the DCCC to support Democrats in competitive districts around the U.S. currently held by Republicans. Full Article
Mar 10, 2010 SEC Chief Economist To Leave Agency To Rejoin Private SectorThe Securities and Exchange Commission announced Tuesday that Chief Economist James Overdahl is leaving the agency to rejoin the private sector. Overdahl has served as principal economic advisor to the SEC on policy, rulemaking, and litigation support since July 2007. Full Article

Forbes Didita:: Out with the old at AoL, March 10th, 2010

Out With The Old At Aol
Taylor Buley
Layoffs begin at the Internet company.

Google Conquers Time
Quentin Hardy
Real-time search, translation, location--everywhere? Murdoch 1, Google 0
Oliver J. Chiang
The Internet giant released new tools that give news publishers more control over the search engine.
Digg Bets Big On A New API
Taylor Buley
The social media company aims to make developing for its platform easier.
The Pirate Bay's Heir Apparent
Andy Greenberg
As the world's biggest file-sharing sites clean up or shut down, all eyes are on Isohunt.

NYT: Business Afternoon Update, March10th, 2010

NYT: Business Afternoon Update
           March10, 2010

Proposal for European Monetary Fund Meets Resistance
Germany’s proposal to establish a European Monetary Fund ran into skepticism 

at home and abroad, highlighting the political and legal hurdles that such an 
undertaking would face.

Telecommunications Stocks Give Wall Street a Lift
Investors remained reluctant to make significant moves without a clear sense of

the recovery’s strength.

Fraud-Alert Service Pays $12 Million Settlement
An Arizona company agreed to stop saying that it protected against all types of 

identity theft and constantly monitored credit reports.

Facebook Will Allow Users to Share Location
The social networking site plans to roll out features next month that will give its 

400 million users the option of sharing their location with friends as part of thei
r news feeds.

A New Airport to Open, but a Dispute Lives On
Backers said Northwest Florida Beaches International would bring new businesse

s and residents to the Florida Panhandle; critics said environmental problems had
already begun.

More Business News

ZDNet:: Adobe Reader and targeted malware attacks March 10, 2010

Featured TalkBack
The netbook is dead, according to my editor-in-chief Larry Dignan. I'm inclined to agree with him frankly; as Gartner and IDC project that netbooks will not sell as many as they have done before, or even ever. What do you think? Will you get a netbook? by Zack Whittaker
This white paper contrasts room, row, and rack architectures and shows why row-oriented cooling will emerge as the preferred solution for most next-generation data centers. (Sponsored by APC)
Must-Read News

Adobe Reader and targeted malware attacks

Microsoft plugs dangerous Excel security holes

New Microsoft IE zero-day flaw under attack

Vodafone HTC Magic shipped with Conficker, Mariposa malware

'Highly critical' flaw found in Opera browser
ZDNet Blogs

Google Apps Marketplace adds value, makes it harder to ignore the cloud

Mozilla's FrankenFirefox

My PAC's better than your POD. Or is it?

The disk error mystery

Hey, Google! I'll blog for broadband
Beat the heat in your data center. Compare the efficiency benefits of row-based cooling with other common cooling architectures.
TechRepublic Hot Topics

10 things to consider before deploying a cloud

Get your head out of IT (at least once per day)

Move to a paperless system for client documentation

The safety of numbers: Implementing filters on outgoing email

Quick resume tip: Lead with your skill set
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At the RSA Conference, FBI Director Robert Mueller highlights the importance of a coordinated response to cybercrime, encouraging businesses to work more closely with the government.
Homeland security secretary outlines latest online efforts
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