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Economy

The Decline and Fall of the U.S. Dollar

by Sasha

The U.S. dollar hit record lows today due to concerns that China might shift its foreign exchange holdings elsewhere. I’d been concerned before when I first heard that the Canadian dollar was ahead of our own, but today, The Guardian reported that the American dollar had reached a 26-year low against the British pound: By ... Continue reading this article…

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Former Big Spenders Trading Down

by Luke Landes

Newsweek in an upcoming article has taken note of a changing trend. Americans who in the past several years would choose certain items important to them on an individual level and spend more, this behavior is changing. Expensive coffee drinks, shoes, entertainment are some examples. People with a passion for a product have had no ... Continue reading this article…

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American Men Earning Less Than Dad

by Luke Landes

A study by a group of research organizations have determined that men in their thirties are earning less, when adjusted for inflation, than their fathers earned in their thirties. Studies like this help to explain the reported financial condition of younger households throughout the United States. Relying on Census Bureau figures, the study’s authors found ... Continue reading this article…

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New Price-Gouging Bill Passes House

by Luke Landes

While it will probably be vetoed by the White House, the House of Representatives passed a bill designed to prevent price-gouging at the gas pump after catastrophes, like Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Charley (NY Times). The House bill would give the FTC “the explicit authority to investigate and punish those who artificially inflate the price ... Continue reading this article…

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Governor Jon Corzine Voluntarily Pays Ticket

by Luke Landes

Jon Corzine, the governor of New Jersey, was in an accident a few weeks ago. He was badly hurt because he wasn’t wearing a seat belt at the time. He fractured his thigh, ribs, and other bones and spent some time in a hospital. He’ll be spending even more time rehabilitating. He wasn’t issued a ... Continue reading this article…

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US News Annual Investing Guide, Part 6: The Dollar

by Luke Landes

What are the expert economists saying about the state of the dollar throughout the year? James Pethokoukis from U.S. News & World Report assembled some opinions on the dollar’s predicted performance for the paper’s Annual Investing Guide. The big issue is the trade deficit. The dollar has been falling, so will foreign banks give up ... Continue reading this article…

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The Virtual Reality Economy of Second Life

by Luke Landes

I heard on the radio this evening that Reuters is opening a “bureau” to cover news in the virtual world — an online role-playing game — called Second Life. This world is so immense and detailed, it allows the “players” to participate in any activity they could in the real world. You can open businesses, ... Continue reading this article…

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Foxwoods Thanks Governor Corzine

by Luke Landes

On Wednesday I pondered that perhaps New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, by allowing the state’s services, including casinos to shut down, may save consumers money they’d otherwise throw away in Atlantic City. After all, Las Vegas is too far away for most people to spontaneously visit. I neglected to take Foxwoods into account. The casinos ... Continue reading this article…

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Governor Corzine Shuts Down New Jersey

by Luke Landes

It’s a good thing I’m spending my weekend in New York; the governor of New Jersey shut down the state’s government because the politicians couldn’t agree on a budget. It’s illegal for the state to spend money without an operating budget, so state services, including the casinos in Atlantic City, have been shut down for ... Continue reading this article…

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Fed Up

by Luke Landes

The Federal Reserve Board raised the federal funds rate to 5.25 percent today. Consumers like us will eventually see that increase in mortgage loan and credit card interest rates. While I don’t have a mortgage and I don’t pay interest to credit cards at the moment, I do have student loans that have been affected by ... Continue reading this article…

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American Total Net Worth (and Debt) Increasing Fast

by Luke Landes

DreamHost makes babies scream and old men with lung cancer cry. Sometimes, it has been said, they eat their young and take their pets to the opera. According to the Federal Reserve’s quartertly “Flow of Funds” report, the total net worth of American households rose in the first quarter this year. If you add up ... Continue reading this article…

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Bulletin: Fed Raises Rates to 5%

by Luke Landes

As expected, Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve Board raised the target for the federal funds rate to 5 percent. Here is the full statement. I hope we’ll see some increases in savings account interest rates, but the climb is slow compared to the free-fall when the rates move in opposite directions.

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Gas Service Stations and Gouging

by Luke Landes

The federal government announced the other day that they will investigate price gouging by gas stations. The announcement itself may have helped to ease prices a little, but most of the time, the investigators report that price movement is merely due to the forces of supply and demand. I heard on the radio this morning ... Continue reading this article…

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Will Other’s People’s Spending Affect My Retirement?

by Luke Landes

A new Ask the Expert from Money Magazine tackles the topics of the United States’ federal budget deficit, national debt, and personal debt, and presents some thoughts about the only relevant question: What does it mean for my future? Walter Updegrave, the resident Expert, says we should not fear the chicken littles who cry we’re ... Continue reading this article…

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Spending and Income Increased

by Luke Landes

It’s time for some numbers from the government. In February, consumer spending rose 0.1 percent and personal income grew 0.3 percent. Even though the income gain was higher than the spending gain as a percentage, we are on average spending more than we have available. Living above our means in the American way, and I don’t see ... Continue reading this article…

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You Know, The Federal Reserve… For Kids

by Luke Landes

While we’re all anticipating an increase in the Federal Reserve’s short-term interest rate, the Fed has been busy creating a website for kids. The aptly named Federal Reserve Kids Page contains an eagle with large talons and mildly interesting trivia aimed at middle schoolers and those needing a refresher course on the twelve Federal Reserve ... Continue reading this article…

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Who Wins: Republicans or Democrats?

by Luke Landes

Jeremy Siegel is asking which political party is better for the economy: Republicans or Democrats. He kills the suspense only a few paragraphs into the story (and I’ll spoil it for you): Despite the behavior of the market during the last Presidential election, over longer periods of time, the stock market has done significantly better ... Continue reading this article…

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Corzine’s New Jersey Budget

by Luke Landes

The big story in New Jersey today was Governor Corzine’s proposed state budget. You can read his speech here. To summarize, New Jerseyans will be looking at higher sales tax, increased tax on cigarettes and liquor, increased tax on luxuries like limousine services and tanning salons, possibly increased property taxes even after rebates, and no ... Continue reading this article…

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Historically Inaccurate Numbers

by Luke Landes

I generally like the articles Bill Fleckenstein writes for his “Contrarian Chronicles” column at MSN Money. Today he published an article about the way the government manipulates the rules of arithmetic to maintain an happy economic outlook. Here’s the first example: unemployment. If unemployment data are calculated using the same methods that were used during ... Continue reading this article…

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Economy Didn’t Grow As Much

by Luke Landes

The government’s gross domestic product (GDP) report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis says the economy grew only 1.1 percent (annualized) in the last quarter last year, down from 4.1 in the third quarter. That’s a significant plunge, and the rate’s lower than what most economists expected.

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