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Wal-Mart CEO: Recession Has Changed Consumers for the Better Suggesting that retailers are closer to working men and women than any other industry, Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott addressed the public once more in his farewell address after ten years at the helm of the retail megastore. Scott offered a candid take on the country's current economy and where its going. Hes confident that the first half of 2009 will bring more of the same struggles for both retailers and consumers, and its his belief, as ... 5 Reasons to Buy a Home Now Theres a brief exchange I had a few years ago with a friends father that Ill never forget. We were sitting outside a Washington DC lunch spot talking about what I was going to do when I got out of college when I asked Mark, whos been a real estate developer in Maryland for years, whether or not real estate would forever exist as a lucrative business. His answer was short, but it explained every ... Recent Gas Price Hike Could Forecast the Future Gas prices rose for the sixth consecutive day Monday, putting the national average at $1.842 a gallon. Its a figure thats 3 full cents higher than Fridays figures. Gas Comparisons Over the Last Year Despite the temporary jump in prices, gas is still selling for 39% of what it sold for last January and 55% less than this summer when gas prices reached record national highs of $4.114 a gallon on July 17. Only Alaska, Hawaii, California and Washington currently have gas ... Quick Exchange Rate Tip for Foreign Travelers If youre financially stable enough to have trips to foreign countries planned in the coming months you might want to be keeping an eye on the foreign exchange rates. The value of the American dollar has been in steady decline for the past few years, and current figures put the U.S. dollar in a very unfavorable spot. When stacked against the euro, the dollar was valued at $1.324 on Friday, $1.332 on Wednesday, and $1.318 on Tuesday. Against the pound, ... Are Republicans Risking Economic Collapse to Maintain Control? Just months ago McCain was dogging Obama as non-partisan. Just weeks ago Republicans were stressing the need for both parties to work together in order to pull us out of our financial downward spiral. Seems they have short memories. The first jab came just minutes after the presidential oath was flubbed. The Republican base was quick to latch onto the ridiculous Fox News claim that the flub somehow discredited President Obama's presidency. First red flag. Now as our economy ... Struggling Retail Industry Causing Major Slips on Wall St. That optimistic stock report we brought you a couple weeks ago is now officially old news. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped for the sixth day in a row yesterday, with its 250 point loss pitting the Dow at its lowest point since December 1. The same can be said about Standard & Poors 500 index, which lost 3.4%. The Nasdaq composite dropped to its lowest point since December 4. The New York Times Jack Healy attributes the figures to a gloomy retail ... Tax Returns Get User-Friendly This Year In light of the messy economic situation and the hardships our government is expecting Americans to endure in the coming months, the IRS has loosened its generally tight grip on the way it does business. Taxpayers should expect a little more leeway when it comes to paying their taxes, among other accommodations. Read and rejoice: The IRS will offer added flexibility for those who need to miss payments If youve lost your job or are dealing with ... Wells-Fargo Takes Control of Wachovia Wells-Fargo & Co. completed their $12.7 billion acquisition of Wachovia Corp. this past Friday. The California-based bank now heralds itself as one of the strongest financial companies in the nation and Americas #1 small business leader and can now lay claim to over $14 trillion in assets. The move puts Wells-Fargo in control of Wachovias 11,000 stores and 12,260 ATMs operating out of 39 states and does indeed make Wells-Fargo the nationwide leader in small business lending, agriculture lending, commercial real estate lending, ... Must Read: Bailout Cheatsheet The Trail of Tax Dollars CNNMoney.com has a great outline of where and when money has been allocated for this economic bailout were paying for in tax dollars. Check it out here. Were beginning to wonder what the figures for Citigroup loan-loss backstops and Auto industry energy efficiency loans will look like when alls said and done. Also, that unknown price tag for money market guarantees is something we're eager to see cleared up. There look to be four different ... 2009 Senior Savings Get a Boost from Congress Senior citizens across the country got good news in December when reports out of Washington stated that Congress suspended the law that requires those 70 ½ or older to withdraw funds from their retirement plans in 2009, even if they dont need the money. Traditionally, senior citizens have had to withdraw whats known as required minimum distributions, or RMDs, every year, with the price tag based individually on the IRA owners age and IRA balance on December 31 of the ... Wall Street on the Up and Up Good news coming from Wall Street today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 258 points, or 2.9%, to close above 9,000 for the first time since November. Standard & Poors 500 index gained 3.2%, and the Nasdaq composite rose 3.5%. Numbers have been rising since this past Wednesday but experts are remaining cautiously optimistic, according to CNN.coms David Goldman: Investors should brace for wild market swings as companies and the economy struggle to rebound. This past year was marred by horrid ... Milking the Declining Price of Dairy Products Like the auto industry in Detroit, Americas dairy industry is also taking a huge hit thats sure to affect your grocery shopping budget. The New York Times Andrew Martin reports: "In a warehouse that [Roger Van Groningens] company runs here, 8 to 20 trucks pull up every day to unload milk powder. Bags of the stuff surplus that nobody will buy, at least not at a price the dairy industry regards as acceptable are unloaded and stacked into ... Bigger 09 Paychecks Under Obamas Make Work Pay Tax Plan Americans making less than $75,000 annually should expect to see a slightly larger paycheck every two weeks when Barack Obama takes the presidential office on January 20. While he was once believed to be re-thinking the plan he touted during the election, the President-elect is in fact expected to implement a reduced tax plan. The plan would take effect almost immediately, which could increase individual earnings by $83-$166 per paycheck during the first quarter of the year. Its Obamas ... Home Price Index Hit With 18% Drop In October Homes prices across the country dropped again between September and October, marking the 27th month in a row that the S&P Case-Shiller Index has posted losses. The mean price of homes saw a 2.2% drop, bringing prices back down to where they sat in March of 2004. Altogether, home prices experienced an 18% decrease from last Octobers figures. David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poors, attributes the price drop to the fact that October ... NASDAQs Tech Driven Trading Model Outsmarts the Competition Financially, 2008 was a year defined by the plummeting stock market, but Forbes Magazine still thought that no company was more impressive over the four quarters than market mogul NASDAQ OMX. The financial magazines Daniel Fisher praised the New York-headquartered company for adapting to recently introduced methods of new business better than competitors. It was CEO Robert Greifeld that caught Forbes' attention with his ability to transform the company from a typical trading floor institution into a company that... Christmas Comes Early for the Auto Industry The debate of whether to bail out the auto industry seems to be coming to a close. President Bush announced this morning that he intends to enact a rescue plan for General Motors and Chrysler LLC that will make $13.4 billion in federal loans available to the two struggling automotive companies. Wondering where those billions will be coming from? The money will be pulled from the $700 billion fund put aside in October to bailout Wall Street firms and banks, and ... Top 10 Cities Vying for a Piece of Obama's Job Creating Stimulus Plans On December 8, the United States Conference of Mayors met and drew up an 803-page report outlining how their respective cities would use the money President-elect Barack Obama intends to spend on infrastructure projects aimed at improving Americas economic situation by giving the country a face lift. Altogether, the 427 city mayors drew up a list of nearly 11,400 projects, totally $73 billion, they would like to see put into action when Obama presumably signs off on the plan. Miami and Mayor ... New York Enacts Digital Retail Tax - Is Your State Next? In New York this week, Governor David Patterson announced the state would begin charging a digital retail tax for online purchases. The tax will go into action along with similar plans from Paterson to raise taxes on movie tickets, soft drinks, sweets and snacks, and luxury clothing items among other items. Altogether, Paterson hopes to implement 88 new fees and taxes on what hes deemed superfluous items and purchases. The move to join the 17 other states and the District ... States Struggle to Support Their Unemployed As unemployment rates rise nationally, individual states are now facing the challenge of generating enough funds to pay for jobless benefits. The National Association of State Workforce Agency reported this week there are thirty states across the country turning to the federal government for federal aid to solve a crisis thats seemingly feeding upon itself less people in the workforce means less state-generated money, which in turn means less funding for the unemployed. When the economy is going ... Federal Reserve To Cut Interest Rates to Historic Low The Federal Reserve decided this afternoon to cut a key short-term interest rate to historic lows, making things clear that it will employ all available tools in its effort to save the country from its current economic crisis. The Fed announced that it would pull back its target for the federal funds rate to a figure between 0% and .25%, more than .75% lower than the 1% Chairman Ben Bernanke and the Reserve had previously planned to implement. Its the lowest interest ... Obama Plans a Roadblock to Stop Unemployment Rate Escalation CNN Money has published reports that the national unemployment rate continues to climb. Currently the figure stands at 6.7%, and theres no sign of greener pastures in the coming months. The announced loss of 553,000 jobs in the month of November alone comes along just as America faces the longest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and estimates have this particular recession extending far longer with effects far greater than that of the 1980s. Global Insight has predicted ... Is Your State Asking for Government Aid? It seems as though everyone is looking for a bailout, whether its financial institutions, insurance companies, or the auto industry. When the governor of your state is lobbying for money from congressional leaders and the Administration, well, thats a different story. Thats because strengthening the economy during the current financial crisis starts at the state level. Leaders of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) met at Congress Hall in ... Unemployment - Double Edge Sword of the Faltering Economy One of the things that is not being talked about nearly enough in these tough economic times is both a cause and a byproduct of the financial crisis. While everyone spends their time focusing on the shrinking credit market and people write articles about how bad the stock market is faltering, few people have mentioned unemployment. In many areas of the country, unemployment is as high right now as it has ever been. The national unemployment rate is rising, ... How Influential is the Auto Industry to Our Economy? What Does It Mean When the U.S. Automakers Fail? Was your reluctance to buy a car from one of the three major U.S. automakers, General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., or Chrysler LLC, the cause of their imminent collapse? The Big Three automakers are asking Congress to pass legislation for government-backed loans. They may just get half of what theyre asking up to $17 million as opposed to $34 million. What the automakers want Americans to know is ... Did Black Friday Do Enough for the Economy? What is Black Friday? Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, the unofficial start of the Christmas season and one of the biggest retail shopping days of the year. Since Thanksgiving always occurs on the last Thursday in November, Black Friday takes place between the 23rd and the 29th of November each year. While Black Friday is not an official holiday in its own right, it is generally included in the Thanksgiving holiday. Many retail analysts look to Black ... Obamas Cabinet - Can They Turn the Economy Around? Barack Obama was elected the forty fourth president of the United States of America on November 4, 2008. He is the first African American president to ever be elected. President Elect Barack Obamas cabinet has begun to take shape. He has started to form his economic team. It is crucial for him to have a strong and capable economic team because the economy has been suffering for the last few years. President Elect Barack Obama has selected Timothy Geithner to ... Deflation - What is it and Why Its Not as Good as it Sounds What is Deflation? Deflation, as defined within the study of economics, is a general decrease in the price level of goods and services below zero percent. The below zero percent qualifier is important because it indicates that prices are actually decreasing as opposed to increasing to a lower degree than in previous periods. In other words, a decrease in price levels from +5% to +4% from one period to the next is not considered to be deflation -- it's called disinflation, ... Global Economy Summits - Can World Leaders Find a Solution Together? The Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy was held on November 15, 2008. There were many countries represented at the summit. The following countries were represented: The United States of America, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the European Union. There were many country leaders at the summit. The following country leaders were present at the summit: President George ... Will Crime Go Up As the Economy Goes Down? Will Crime Go Up as the Economy Goes Down? Many people believe that the nation's crime rate is correlated with the state of the economy -- that is, as the economy dwindles, the rate of crime increases. It's not an invalid fear: when people lose their jobs and become desperate to make ends meet, they sometimes turn to petty crime to help alleviate their economic problems. But while the connection makes intuitive sense -- when people have nothing to ... Was AIG Worth Bailing Out? The U.S. Government has found themselves face to face with an enormous money pit popularly known as American International Group or AIG. AIG is one of the largest insurers linked to retirement held by millions of Americans, mutual funds and U.S. mortgages which made it neccessary to fund the company with an $85 billion bailout loan. Without the bailout, the global economy would have faced a much larger scale of financial crisis. This is the only fact to ... Global Recession - Is it Possible? The world economy is now entering a major downturn in the face of the most dangerous shock in mature financial markets since the 1930s, claims the International Monetary Fund (imf.org). It appears that the IMF, the European Union, and World Bank have been quite busy bailing out one country or another. The latest $25 billion financing package for Hungary comes on the heels of two other financing packages distributed as emergency loans to Iceland and the Ukraine. These countries ... Saving the Economy - Do we Spend or Save? Citizens may be feeling the pressure from the media or government to get out there and save the economy by spending its their patriotic duty to spend. According to the Federal Reserves Beige Book report, consumers have been pulling back on spending since September, with a resounding moan from retailers. Keeping the wallet shut is not whats causing the economy to spiral into a recession. But the news media, such as the NY Times, would have ... The Nasdaq Composite Index Financial indexes play a major role in how Americans, in fact how people globally, determine how their economy is doing. A financial index measures the day to day movement of stock markets. Indexes have become a yardstick of the economy. One of those financial indexes is the NASDAQ Composite Index. The NASDAQ was introduced in 1971. NASDAQ is an acronym for National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations. However, the NASDAQ Composite Index has evolved in its thirty-seven years from ... Economic Crisis 2008: Where the US Economy is going So, like most, my thoughts have been on where the US economy is right now and where we are headed. We've known this was coming for years. Unqualified home buyers in bulk. Large mortgage companies collapsing. Credit Card Debt out of control. Spending 3 trillion on the war in Iraq. Last week, we got notice that Bank of America pulled it's credit card offers from affiliate networks. So no new cards. There's also a lot of buzz on the internet ... How the Economy Effects Credit Trying to understand how the economy, the Federal Reserve, and even gas prices affect the credit card in your wallet can be difficult. However, along with other factors, they are all closely related. Most financial transactions involving banks revolve around the Federal Reserve and the interest rates they set. The Federal Reserve sets the Federal Funds Rate, which is basically the rate of interest that banks and thrift institutions are expected to charge when borrowing money from one another. ... Commercial Paper - What Are they & Economic Affects In the United States, the term commercial paper refers to promissory notes that have a fixed maturity of less than two hundred seventy days. These negotiable instruments are issued by corporations or banking institutions in exchange for capital that can be used to meet short term financial obligations such as regular operating expenses. Less expensive than using a bank credit line and normally sold at a discount of face value, commercial paper is an extremely liquid market that is ... Spending The Stimulus SLOWLY For the last 2 or 3 months, we have been bombarded with talk about the economic stimulus package (i.e. tax rebates). Since the legislation was passed to actually fund the rebates, the economy has gotten significantly worse. Finally, the money is actually rolling into bank accounts and it seems that the government (and the retailers) want us to spend the money as quickly as possible! Never mind that we have heard nothing but hype, political and otherwise, surrounding the rebate ... Simple Strategies for Surviving the Bad Economy For months, now, all the news about the economy and anything associated with it has been negative. The housing market is not doing well. There's a "credit crisis". Oil prices are at record highs and, consequently, we are paying much higher prices for gas. The stock market has gone down as well as interest rates on CD's and high-yield savings accounts. Not to mention that lots of people are without jobs. Just about the only good news there has ... 10 Ways To Improve YOUR Economy Unless you rush out to spend your tax rebate check as soon as it arrives, there isn't much you can do to help the U.S. economy. We just have to hope that, eventually, the government efforts will work. Until they do, we'll be stuck "waiting it out". While we are waiting, there may be hope for improving our personal economies. Regardless of what happens to the nation's economy, here are 10 things you can do to improve yours now! ... Will We Sabotage the Stimulus? The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 is official. Tax rebate checks will be on the way to millions of Americans as soon as the majority of the tax filing season is over. While the arguing over details about who gets how much money has ended, the debate over the pros, cons and ultimate wisdom of the stimulus continues to be debated. On paper, the rebates are a "gift" from the government - cold, hard cash for taxpayers (i.e. consumers) ... Not Worried About Wal-Mart With all the negative attention directed at the economy, the true signs of panic may have officially surfaced. At least two recent headlines indicate concern that Wal-Mart, the American icon of consumption, is in trouble. Frankly, it's hard to believe that! Seriously, do these numbers represent trouble to you - $345 billion in sales - 6800 stores/facilities worldwide - 127 million store visitors per week in the U.S. ? There is no doubt that the U.S. economy is struggling. All ...