As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!

October 2009

Peer-to-peer lending institution Prosper is offering a $50 bonus for new lenders who sign up for for the service and bid on two loans. Peer-to-peer lending is an interesting way for people to qualify for loans and to lend money to others. In an economy where savings account interest rates are under 3% or 2%, it’s tempting to put cash to better use through these direct loans. There is a possibility to earn much more than you would by putting cash in a savings account as long as loans are chosen carefully and you’re willing to accept risk.

There is something appealing about working outside the banking system. Peer-to-peer lending takes a specific power of the financial industry and puts in the hands of individuals.

I tried Prosper a few years ago. A friend of mine was looking to consolidate his credit card balances, but was looking for a better option that putting several thousand dollars onto one high-interest card. His plan was to apply for a loan on Prosper and use the funds to pay off his credit cards. He would then only need to worry about one payment each month with a lower total payment and a lower interest rate than what he would likely get with a credit card.

A Great New Investment OpportunityWhen he asked me about Propser, I offered to help him out by bidding to provide a portion of the funding for the loan. The idea of being an investor appealed to me, but unfortunately, the state of Texas prevented him from participating on Prosper at that time. It is my understanding that he would qualify only for an interest rate higher than allowed by the state.

My adventures with Prosper ended before they began. And I won’t be able to get started. As I began to research investing in a portfolio of loans at Prosper and bidding on individual loans, I was greeted by this message:

Unfortunately, at this time lenders in New Jersey are not able to bid or transfer money to Prosper. If you have portfolio plans, they have been paused. You may transfer money out of your Prosper account as they become available from loan payments.

If you reside in a state where Prosper is allowed to do business, consider signing up for an account and qualifying for the $50 bonus. What is your experience with Prosper?

{ 12 comments }

Update: Capital One has purchased ING Direct.

Here in the Untied States, ING Direct, a banking arm of the large financial company ING Group from the Netherlands, offers more than just high-yield online savings accounts. The bank also offers investments and mortgages, and some of the latter may have been too risky, like those sold and packaged into securities by domestic banks.

ING Group received a taxpayer bailout of €10 billion ($14.9 billion) and the European Commission is forcing the financial company to restructure in order to repay this loan. Part of this deal involves taking ING’s insurance companies public and selling the United States’ ING Direct by 2013.

The effect of this sale remains to be seen. Some time between today and the end of 2013, ING Direct will be owned by another company. This bank was one of the first to operate without any brick-and-mortar branches and the first to be an unmitigated success. When I first started paying attention to my finances at the start of this decade, the recommendations for ING Direct flowed from every information channel. With the highest interest rates in the savings account business, unusually capable customer service, and a slick and functional website, the bank was a favorite among the die-hard personal finance fans at the Motley Fool discussion boards.

More recently, ING Direct has moved from excellent to very good. I still recommend this bank to people who want a hassle-free experience, but their rates are no longer as competitive and their electronic checking account is not the best in class. For those with more money to put in savings, those who would benefit from a higher interest rate, I usually offer additional options.

ING Direct’s corporate message in response to those customers concerned about recent news of the impending sale is that your money is safe. I don’t think safety is the real concern. Accounts at the bank are insured by the FDIC, so even if the bank fails safety isn’t a problem. These are the questions you should have right now:

  • Who will purchase the bank and will ING Direct’s core values change?
  • If the core values change, will they be for the better (more competitive interest rates, for example) or for the worse (scaled back operations and customer service, for example)?
  • What new account fees will be introduced?
  • ING Direct employs about 1,200 in Delaware and another thousand more across the country. Will they have jobs and for how long?

These questions will not be answered for some time.

I do not see the announcement of this sale as a reason to move money out of ING Direct now. I will be watching developments closely, however. With the bulk of my savings in ING Direct, I am very sensitive to the fact that they do not offer the highest interest rate available. For years, the bank has counted on customers like me: those who first deposited when the interest rates were high and competitive and who have stayed around as other banks consistently offer higher rates. But I do not owe my loyalty to a company and will be quick to shop around if I am no longer getting a good deal considering cost, return, and service.

Photo credit: diaper
ING to sell Delaware-based bank in [sic] 2013, Eric Ruth, The News Journal, October 27, 2009
Post-Bailout Blues as Europe Orders ING Group to Sell 2 Units, Eric Dash, New York Times, October 26, 2009

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This is an editorial by Smithee and a plea for your help in shaping the future of entertainment.

At our house, we enjoy some Hulu programming on occasion. Even though during the recent DVR years I’ve become accustomed to skipping commercials, I don’t mind them on Hulu, for these reasons:

  1. I’ve only seen one per commercial break
  2. They haven’t been suddenly, obnoxiously loud
  3. Hulu is free, and so advertising makes sense

And so far, there’s no ability to skip them. I can deal with that, because in an episode of, say, “Defying Gravity” on Hulu, there are five commercial breaks, for a total of five minutes of Lipitor commercials (at first, every episode would play five of the same Lipitor commercial, it was almost funny). I can accept five minutes. That means about 9.6% of a 43-minute show is an ad. That’s fine, so long as the service is free.

But that is going to change sometime in 2010. Hulu is owned by NewsCorp (who owns roughly half of everything), and they have decided:

It’s time to start getting paid for broadcast content online. I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content. I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value. Hulu concurs with that, it needs to evolve to have a meaningful subscription model as part of its business

Anything more specific than this decision is just speculation: subscriptions for what, everything? premium channels only? groups of channels? Nobody knows.

What I propose is unacceptable is this: a subscription fee for any user, for any content, so long as the advertising remains part of the experience. In other words: unskippable ads are no problem, subscription fees for any content are no problem, but both together would be a problem.

You and I have a chance right now to help influence and inform Hulu’s decision to go forward with a subscription model, before we let ourselves get duped.

Sadly, we’ve been letting ourselves get duped for a long time.

Newspapers, Cable TV, mobile phones

Newspapers are filled with advertisements, and they also expect you to pay for each copy. The same is true of magazines. In fact you could argue that any fashion magazine is just one huge multi-part advertisement. So, I don’t read them. Oh, I look at the news online all the time, but between my banner-blindness and various browser plugins, it’s not often I see an advertisement.

TV is a different story. TV used to be just like radio: the good parts were ad-supported, and you also had a station that relied on member subscriptions. Cable messed that all up, and we were too busy with the colorful new channels to notice. A cable company would set up shop in your town and tell you all about the dozens of extra options you’d get for $X / month. We were totally psyched to get MTV and Nickelodeon at our house, but it didn’t occur to me until later than since the cable company replaced our over-the-air channels, we were now paying for something that used to be free. Thirteen free somethings, in fact (UHF was admittedly pretty empty).

There’s an argument that in the case of OTA / broadcast channels, what you’re paying the cable company for is consistent quality of signal. I’d be happy to see some proof of that, in the form of a cable company’s accounting spreadsheet. I’m sure that NBC is charging the cable companies regional monopolies a fee to include their programming, and cable is passing that cost on to the customer.

The mobile phone business model just depresses me whenever I think of it. Here’s how a phone worked since the time it was invented: if you called someone, you were expected to pay for it, but if someone called you, it was free. This makes total sense: the phone call recipient didn’t intend to have that conversation, he or she isn’t really responsible. Besides that, this seemed to work very well for decades, and phone companies never changed it. That is, until we were tooling around town with phones in our pockets and cars. Since it was new and fancy, providers decided to invent a different business model: you’d be paying for calls now whether you started it or not.

As far as I know, mobile phone companies have never had to justify this to their customers en masse.

AOL vs. World of Warcraft

Remember those CDs of AOL software? They were everywhere. It seemed like you’d get a new version in your mailbox every three months, especially if you weren’t even a customer. They were free, because AOL’s business model was a monthly fee for access, content, and software upgrades. And AOL did fine for a long time.

Everquest came along and messed that all up, charging both a monthly fee and an upfront fee for the software, and now WoW players suffer the same fate. You’re paying the company twice for the same things they were going to be doing anyway. What is wrong with us? Why do we enable companies to use more than one business model at a time?

Advertising is a replacement for subscriptions

And vice versa: subscriptions are a replacement for advertising. Advertising is one business model, and subscriptions are another. Employing both for the same product is unacceptable.

I’d like to ask for your help now in spreading this message to the managers at Hulu, so they understand the intelligent way to move forward is to either saddle us with a recurring fee and remove the commercials, or leave the commercials in an otherwise free service.

On Hulu’s discussion forum, there are already many threads decrying the decision to start charging. You could try adding your own voice there, or e-mailing [email protected]. Another less elegant method would be to add an irrelevant comment on one of the entries at the official Hulu blog. In my experience, site owners are more likely to read blog comments than they are discussion forums, but your mileage may vary.

Hulu’s Free Glory Days Are Official Numbered, John Herrman, Gizmodo, Oct. 22 2009

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Over 100 banks failed in 2009. Most of these are smaller regional banks who, in order to compete with larger banks, offered risky loans and are now facing customer defaults. Larger banks were offered government bailouts to prevent failure, but these smaller banks whose failures are not seen as major risks to the economy are left without taxpayer assistance.

The FDIC covers savings accounts, checking accounts, and certificates of deposit to ensure that customers hardly notice when one of these smaller banks fail. As long as a bank is a member of FDIC, and most are, customers should be confident that even if a bank fails, they will be able to withdraw their deposits within the coverage limit. Predicting the increase of bank failures this year, the FDIC decided over a year ago to increase its insurance limits. In 2008, only 26 banks failed compared to over 100 in 2009.

Although there is often worry in the press that FDIC is underfunded and might run out of money, that situation is highly unlikely. The FDIC is requiring banks to start paying their FDIC premiums which have largely been ignored for decades to increase its available funds. The FDIC also has an extensive line of credit with the Treasury, and because Congress will always vote to make sure the FDIC will be able to cover necessary expenses, it is in effect a limitless credit line.

Here is a full list of banks that have failed since 2000. I will update this list as necessary.

Bank Location Failed Date
Beach First National Bank Myrtle Beach, SC April 9, 2010
Desert Hills Bank Phoenix, AZ March 26, 2010
Unity National Bank Cartersville, GA March 26, 2010
Key West Bank Key West, FL March 26, 2010
McIntosh Commercial Bank Carrollton, GA March 26, 2010
State Bank of Aurora Aurora, MN March 19, 2010
First Lowndes Bank Fort Deposit, AL March 19, 2010
Bank of Hiawassee Hiawassee, GA March 19, 2010
Appalachian Community Bank Ellijay, GA March 19, 2010
Advanta Bank Corp. Draper, UT March 19, 2010
Century Security Bank Duluth, GA March 19, 2010
American National Bank Parma, OH March 19, 2010
Statewide Bank Covington, LA March 12, 2010
Old Southern Bank Orlando, FL March 12, 2010
The Park Avenue Bank New York, NY March 12, 2010
LibertyPointe Bank New York, NY March 11, 2010
Centennial Bank Ogden, UT March 5, 2010
Waterfield Bank Germantown, MD March 5, 2010
Bank of Illinois Normal, IL March 5, 2010
Sun American Bank Boca Raton, FL March 5, 2010
Rainier Pacific Bank Tacoma, WA February 26, 2010
Carson River Community Bank Carson City, NV February 26, 2010
La Jolla Bank, FSB La Jolla, CA February 19, 2010
George Washington Savings Bank Orland Park, IL February 19, 2010
The La Coste National Bank La Coste, TX February 19, 2010
Marco Community Bank Marco Island, FL February 19, 2010
1st American State Bank of Minnesota Hancock, MN February 5, 2010
American Marine Bank Bainbridge Island, WA January 29, 2010
First Regional Bank Los Angeles, CA January 29, 2010
Community Bank and Trust Cornelia, GA January 29, 2010
Marshall Bank, N.A. Hallock, MN January 29, 2010
Florida Community Bank Immokalee, FL January 29, 2010
First National Bank of Georgia Carrollton, GA January 29, 2010
Columbia River Bank The Dalles, OR January 22, 2010
Evergreen Bank Seattle, WA January 22, 2010
Charter Bank Santa Fe, NM January 22, 2010
Bank of Leeton Leeton, MO January 22, 2010
Premier American Bank Miami, FL January 22, 2010
Barnes Banking Company Kaysville, UT January 15, 2010
St. Stephen State Bank St. Stephen, MN January 15, 2010
Town Community Bank & Trust Antioch, IL January 15, 2010
Horizon Bank Bellingham, WA January 8, 2010
First Federal Bank of California, F.S.B. Santa Monica, CA December 18, 2009
Imperial Capital Bank La Jolla, CA December 18, 2009
Independent Bankers’ Bank Springfield, IL December 18, 2009
New South Federal Savings Bank Irondale, AL December 18, 2009
Citizens State Bank New Baltimore, MI December 18, 2009
Peoples First Community Bank Panama City, FL December 18, 2009
RockBridge Commercial Bank Atlanta, GA December 18, 2009
SolutionsBank Overland Park, KS December 11, 2009
Valley Capital Bank, N.A. Mesa, AZ December 11, 2009
Republic Federal Bank, N.A. Miami, FL December 11, 2009
Greater Atlantic Bank Reston, VA December 4, 2009
Benchmark Bank Aurora, IL December 4, 2009
AmTrust Bank Cleveland, OH December 4, 2009
The Tattnall Bank Reidsville, GA December 4, 2009
First Security National Bank Norcross, GA December 4, 2009
The Buckhead Community Bank Atlanta, GA December 4, 2009
Commerce Bank of Southwest Florida Fort Myers, FL November 20, 2009
Pacific Coast National Bank San Clemente, CA November 13, 2009
Orion Bank Naples, FL November 13, 2009
Century Bank, F.S.B. Sarasota, FL November 13, 2009
United Commercial Bank San Francisco, CA November 6, 2009
Gateway Bank of St. Louis St. Louis, MO November 6, 2009
Prosperan Bank Oakdale, MN November 6, 2009
Home Federal Savings Bank Detroit, MI November 6, 2009
United Security Bank Sparta, GA November 6, 2009
North Houston Bank Houston, TX October 30, 2009
Madisonville State Bank Madisonville, TX October 30, 2009
Citizens National Bank Teague, TX October 30, 2009
Park National Bank Chicago, IL October 30, 2009
Pacific National Bank San Francisco, CA October 30, 2009
California National Bank Los Angeles, CA October 30, 2009
San Diego National Bank San Diego, CA October 30, 2009
Community Bank of Lemont Lemont, IL October 30, 2009
Bank USA, N.A. Phoenix, AZ October 30, 2009
First DuPage Bank Westmont, IL October 23, 2009
Riverview Community Bank Otsego, MN October 23, 2009
Bank of Elmwood Racine, WI October 23, 2009
Flagship National Bank Bradenton, FL October 23, 2009
Hillcrest Bank Florida Naples, FL October 23, 2009
American United Bank Lawrenceville, GA October 23, 2009
Partners Bank Naples, FL October 23, 2009
San Joaquin Bank Bakersfield, CA October 16, 2009
Southern Colorado National Bank Pueblo, CO October 2, 2009
Jennings State Bank Spring Grove, MN October 2, 2009
Warren Bank Warren, MI October 2, 2009
Georgian Bank Atlanta, GA September 25, 2009
Irwin Union Bank, F.S.B. Louisville, KY September 18, 2009
Irwin Union Bank and Trust Company Columbus, IN September 18, 2009
Venture Bank Lacey, WA September 11, 2009
Brickwell Community Bank Woodbury, MN September 11, 2009
Corus Bank, N.A. Chicago, IL September 11, 2009
First State Bank Flagstaff, AZ September 4, 2009
Platinum Community Bank Rolling Meadows, IL September 4, 2009
Vantus Bank Sioux City, IA September 4, 2009
InBank Oak Forest, IL September 4, 2009
First Bank of Kansas City Kansas City, MO September 4, 2009
Affinity Bank Ventura, CA August 28, 2009
Mainstreet Bank Forest Lake, MN August 28, 2009
Bradford Bank Baltimore, MD August 28, 2009
Guaranty Bank Austin, TX August 21, 2009
CapitalSouth Bank Birmingham, AL August 21, 2009
First Coweta Bank Newnan, GA August 21, 2009
ebank Atlanta, GA August 21, 2009
Community Bank of Nevada Las Vegas, NV August 14, 2009
Community Bank of Arizona Phoenix, AZ August 14, 2009
Union Bank, National Association Gilbert, AZ August 14, 2009
Colonial Bank Montgomery, AL August 14, 2009
Dwelling House Savings and Loan Association Pittsburgh, PA August 14, 2009
Community First Bank Prineville, OR August 7, 2009
Community National Bank of Sarasota County Venice, FL August 7, 2009
First State Bank Sarasota, FL August 7, 2009
Mutual Bank Harvey, IL July 31, 2009
First BankAmericano Elizabeth, NJ July 31, 2009
Peoples Community Bank West Chester, OH July 31, 2009
Integrity Bank Jupiter, FL July 31, 2009
First State Bank of Altus Altus, OK July 31, 2009
Security Bank of Jones County Gray, GA July 24, 2009
Security Bank of Houston County Perry, GA July 24, 2009
Security Bank of Bibb County Macon, GA July 24, 2009
Security Bank of North Metro Woodstock, GA July 24, 2009
Security Bank of North Fulton Alpharetta, GA July 24, 2009
Security Bank of Gwinnett County Suwanee, GA July 24, 2009
Waterford Village Bank Williamsville, NY July 24, 2009
Temecula Valley Bank Temecula, CA July 17, 2009
Vineyard Bank Rancho Cucamonga, CA July 17, 2009
BankFirst Sioux Falls, SD July 17, 2009
First Piedmont Bank Winder, GA July 17, 2009
Bank of Wyoming Thermopolis, WY July 10, 2009
Founders Bank Worth, IL July 2, 2009
Millennium State Bank of Texas Dallas, TX July 2, 2009
First National Bank of Danville Danville, IL July 2, 2009
Elizabeth State Bank Elizabeth, IL July 2, 2009
Rock River Bank Oregon, IL July 2, 2009
First State Bank of Winchester Winchester, IL July 2, 2009
John Warner Bank Clinton, IL July 2, 2009
Mirae Bank Los Angeles, CA June 26, 2009
MetroPacific Bank Irvine, CA June 26, 2009
Horizon Bank Pine City, MN June 26, 2009
Neighborhood Community Bank Newnan, GA June 26, 2009
Community Bank of West Georgia Villa Rica, GA June 26, 2009
First National Bank of Anthony Anthony, KS June 19, 2009
Cooperative Bank Wilmington, NC June 19, 2009
Southern Community Bank Fayetteville, GA June 19, 2009
Bank of Lincolnwood Lincolnwood, IL June 5, 2009
Citizens National Bank Macomb, IL May 22, 2009
Strategic Capital Bank Champaign, IL May 22, 2009
BankUnited, FSB Coral Gables, FL May 21, 2009
Westsound Bank Bremerton, WA May 8, 2009
America West Bank Layton, UT May 1, 2009
Citizens Community Bank Ridgewood, NJ May 1, 2009
Silverton Bank, NA Atlanta, GA May 1, 2009
First Bank of Idaho Ketchum, ID April 24, 2009
First Bank of Beverly Hills Calabasas, CA April 24, 2009
Michigan Heritage Bank Farmington Hills, MI April 24, 2009
American Southern Bank Kennesaw, GA April 24, 2009
Great Basin Bank of Nevada Elko, NV April 17, 2009
American Sterling Bank Sugar Creek, MO April 17, 2009
New Frontier Bank Greeley, CO April 10, 2009
Cape Fear Bank Wilmington, NC April 10, 2009
Omni National Bank Atlanta, GA March 27, 2009
TeamBank, NA Paola, KS March 20, 2009
Colorado National Bank Colorado Springs, CO March 20, 2009
FirstCity Bank Stockbridge, GA March 20, 2009
Freedom Bank of Georgia Commerce, GA March 6, 2009
Security Savings Bank Henderson, NV February 27, 2009
Heritage Community Bank Glenwood, IL February 27, 2009
Silver Falls Bank Silverton, OR February 20, 2009
Pinnacle Bank of Oregon Beaverton, OR February 13, 2009
Corn Belt Bank & Trust Co. Pittsfield, IL February 13, 2009
Riverside Bank of the Gulf Coast Cape Coral, FL February 13, 2009
Sherman County Bank Loup City, NE February 13, 2009
County Bank Merced, CA February 6, 2009
Alliance Bank Culver City, CA February 6, 2009
FirstBank Financial Services McDonough, GA February 6, 2009
Ocala National Bank Ocala, FL January 30, 2009
Suburban FSB Crofton, MD January 30, 2009
MagnetBank Salt Lake City, UT January 30, 2009
1st Centennial Bank Redlands, CA January 23, 2009
Bank of Clark County Vancouver, WA January 16, 2009
National Bank of Commerce Berkeley, IL January 16, 2009
Sanderson State Bank Sanderson, TX December 12, 2008
Haven Trust Bank Duluth, GA December 12, 2008
First Georgia Community Bank Jackson, GA December 5, 2008
PFF Bank & Trust Pomona, CA November 21, 2008
Downey Savings & Loan Newport Beach, CA November 21, 2008
Community Bank Loganville, GA November 21, 2008
Security Pacific Bank Los Angeles, CA November 7, 2008
Franklin Bank, SSB Houston, TX November 7, 2008
Freedom Bank Bradenton, FL October 31, 2008
Alpha Bank & Trust Alpharetta, GA October 24, 2008
Meridian Bank Eldred, IL October 10, 2008
Main Street Bank Northville, MI October 10, 2008
Washington Mutual Bank (and FSB) Henderson, NV September 25, 2008
Ameribank Northfork, WV September 19, 2008
Silver State Bank Henderson, NV September 5, 2008
Integrity Bank Alpharetta, GA August 29, 2008
Columbian Bank & Trust Topeka, KS August 22, 2008
First Priority Bank Bradenton, FL August 1, 2008
First Heritage Bank, NA Newport Beach, CA July 25, 2008
First National Bank of Nevada Reno, NV July 25, 2008
IndyMac Bank Pasadena, CA July 11, 2008
First Integrity Bank, NA Staples, MN May 30, 2008
ANB Financial, NA Bentonville, AR May 9, 2008
Hume Bank Hume, MO March 7, 2008
Douglass National Bank Kansas City, MO January 25, 2008
Miami Valley Bank Lakeview, OH October 4, 2007
NetBank Alpharetta, GA September 28, 2007
Metropolitan Savings Bank Pittsburgh, PA February 2, 2007
Bank of Ephraim Ephraim, UT June 25, 2004
Reliance Bank White Plains, NY March 19, 2004
Guaranty National Bank Tallahassee, FL March 12, 2004
Dollar Savings Bank Newark, NJ February 14, 2004
Pulaski Savings Bank Philadelphia, PA November 14, 2003
First National Bank of Blanchardville Blanchardville, WI May 9, 2003
Southern Pacific Bank Torrance, CA February 7, 2003
Farmers Bank of Cheneyville Cheneyville, LA December 17, 2002
Bank of Alamo Alamo, TN November 8, 2002
AmTrade International Bank Atlanta, GA September 30, 2002
Universal Federal Savings Bank Chicago, IL June 27, 2002
Connecticut Bank of Commerce Stamford, CT June 26, 2002
New Century Bank Shelby Township, MI March 28, 2002
Net 1st National Bank Boca Raton, FL March 1, 2002
NextBank, NA Phoenix, AZ February 7, 2002
Oakwood Deposit Bank Co. Oakwood, OH February 1, 2002
Bank of Sierra Blanca Sierra Blanca, TX January 18, 2002
Hamilton Bank, NA Miami, FL January 11, 2002
Sinclair National Bank Gravette, AR September 7, 2001
Superior Bank, FSB Hinsdale, IL July 27, 2001
Malta National Bank Malta, OH May 3, 2001
First Alliance Bank & Trust Co. Manchester, NH February 2, 2001
National State Bank of Metropolis Metropolis, IL December 14, 2000
Bank of Honolulu Honolulu, HI October 13, 2000

{ 6 comments }

Seven Zen Principles to Guide Your Money and Your Life

by Luke Landes

A few years ago, I visited the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Japanese gardens are designed precisely to appear natural, resulting in an interesting collision between nature and man. There is a set of principles or aesthetics that guide the creation of Japanese gardens, including the dry gardens commonly called […]

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Podcast 27: Man Vs. Debt and Frugal Travel

by Luke Landes

The Consumerism Commentary Podcast has now completed six months of broadcasts without missing one week. This is as good a place as any to declare the “First Season” of the podcast complete and begin the “Second Season.” In the premiere of Season 2, Tom Dziubek and Flexo speak with Adam Baker, the creator of the […]

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Net Neutrality Simplified

by Smithee

Depending on how you get your news, the topic of network neutrality can seem boring, or confusing, or both. Possibly you haven’t yet heard about it, or you’ve already formed an opinion. The reports I see are too often complicated, lacking reasoned arguments and full of hyperbolic guesses as to what the future might hold. […]

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Pay Czar Ordering Bailed Out Companies to Reduce Pay

by Luke Landes

The executives of these companies had to see this coming. When a company is “too big to fail,” it becomes a public institution in senses of the phrase but the most literal. And for a number of banks and other financial companies in the past year, the public has become a partial owner thanks to […]

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Investor Psychology: Why We Fail to Make Good Financial Decisions

by Luke Landes

Investors make better decisions when they separate emotions from the thought process, but it’s practically impossible to achieve the goal in perfection. Regardless of how hard one tries, emotions will always be present. The best an investor, or anyone who makes decisions about finances, can achieve is awareness of the ways psychology prevents optimal decision […]

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Senator Dodd Going Ahead With Overdraft Legislation

by Smithee

We told you last month about banks deciding to let customers opt out of overdraft fees, first announced by Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, and then the next day by Wells Fargo (and Wachovia, which it owns). These big banks made the changes very soon after lawmakers announced an intention to try to […]

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