September 21st, 2011
By: Sheryl Nance-Nash
Recent college grads may be feeling a bit ripped off. They did what they were supposed to — studied hard, graduated, and now … nothing. A new online study by Harris Interactive for American Express (AXP) reveals that 68% of recent grads are not working or are working at a job that is not in their field. Nearly half are only making ends meet with the help of mom and dad.
It’s not surprising that some 80% of new grads reported moving in with their parents after all the pomp and circumstance. For the first time in nearly a year, in August, the economy had the distressing distinction of not adding any new jobs. With so much frustration to be found in the job market, more young people are running back to the classroom: 27% opted to pursue another degree in 2010, up from 20% in 2007.
So, what can a person with a newly minted bachelor’s degree do? Plenty.
Personality Counts: The news on the job front isn’t all bad. According to American Express’ Recent Graduate Environment Survey, 62% of hiring professionals said that personality traits such as communication skills and a good attitude are the qualities they look for most when interviewing. Significantly fewer gave such high importance to a candidate’s qualifications/skill set (36%), intelligence/knowledge (23%), work history (11%), or educational background (10%).
“The fact that personality counts almost twice as much as candidates’ skill set is good news for graduates who say their biggest challenge is not having enough work experience,” says Jennie Platt, director of millennial and household product strategies at American Express. “Highlight your interests and passions and let your personality come through in an interview. Be open to applying for jobs outside of your field of study or work. We were surprised to learn that even though recent grads are having a tough time navigating the job market, more than 60% have not looked outside their field of study for work.”
Improve Communication Skills: What’s holding the young folks back? More than half of hiring pros said that while social media has improved recent grads’ ability to think out of the box, it has deteriorated their writing skills (87%), ability to focus on a task (79%), and verbal communication skills (78%).
Learn the Hot Spots: What every underemployed eager beaver wants to know is where the good jobs are. Freshly minted grads are much in demand in health care (46%) and professional/scientific/technical services (37%). Internet marketing (29%) and Web design (29%) round out the list of the sectors that are most on the hunt.
If you’re wondering if you went to school for nothing more than the spiritual rewards, well, that depends largely on your paper. According to the survey, the most marketable degrees are technology (55%), business (52%), engineering (49%), finance (28%) and science (27%). Turns out an entrepreneurial degree is more attractive than a liberal arts degree.
September 28, 2010
NEW YORK — Bank fees: They’re like a game of Whac-a-Mole. The minute one set is banned, a whole new set pops up.
In August, the Card Act banned a variety of fees — including certain overdraft and excessive late charges. But one month later, banks are increasing existing fees and finding creative new ways to charge customers more for credit cards, so-called “free” checking accounts and banking services.
Already this year cash-advance fees and balance transfer fees have risen to 4%, up from 3% in July last year, according to a study conducted by the Pew Health Group’s Safe Credit Cards Project.
“It’s like you’ve got a sinking boat, where you plug one hole and another one springs up,” said Curtis Arnold, founder of CreditRatings.com. “You can shut down one egregious fee, but that doesn’t mean other fees aren’t just going to start popping up elsewhere.”
Here’s a bank-by-bank look of what to expect.
Bank of America: Just last week, Bank of America said it plans to raise minimum balance requirements over the next 12 months and charge a monthly account fee for customers who can’t maintain those balances.
“We currently estimate over time through these and other items we are working on that we will have the ability to offset a substantial majority of the revenue from the various regulatory changes,” Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) CEO Brian Moynihan said in a presentation to investors last week.
Customers enrolled in the lender’s new eBanking checking account will be charged $8.95 per month if they opt to receive paper statements and visit tellers instead of banking online. Since the launch of eBanking in August, nearly half of all new checking accounts fall into this category.
Earlier this year, annual fees ranging from $29 to $99 were applied to a variety of Bank of America credit card accounts.
Wells Fargo: Remember how Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) fought a pitched battle with Citigroup for the right to merge with Wachovia? Well, Wachovia customers are now being fully integrated — including being charged Wells’ higher fees. Receive images of cancelled checks with your paper statement? $2. Use your savings as overdraft protection? $10 fee every time you make a transfer.
Previously, these fees already existed for Wells Fargo customers but were only applied to a very small number of Wachovia customers.
HSBC: HSBC (HBC) is charging a $19 annual fee for customers who open a line of credit beginning July 1 and an additional $10 every day they use the credit line as protection from overdrawing their checking account.
“This is not unusual in the industry and our competitors have been charging similar such fees for some time,” an HSBC spokesman said. “The change aligns us with our competitors.”
Other banks let customers link their savings and checking accounts as an alternative option for overdraft protection. But HSBC doesn’t, meaning customers will either pay a fee to open a line of credit (if they have good enough credit to qualify), pay a fee for overdrafting their account or get their card declined.
Citibank: Citi (C, Fortune 500) announced changes to its checking accounts this month and will now assess monthly maintenance fees of up to $30, depending on the checking account and whether the customers meet certain requirements — such as making a certain number of monthly transactions or carrying a specific minimum balance.
Monthly maintenance fees were previously as low as $3, depending on the account.
Earlier this year, Citi imposed a $60 annual fee that could be waived if customers spent about $2,400 a year. But the new regulations banning inactivity fees led the bank to eliminate the fee soon after it was introduced.
American Express: American Express (AXP, Fortune 500) has added $29 fees to more of its cards. As of July, the new fees affect customers with Delta, JetBlue, Hilton and Starwood cobranded cards who want to recoup reward points they forfeited for paying a bill late.
The point-forfeiture fee already existed on other cards, so the bank said it wanted to be “consistent and have it across cards.”
Because of how competitive the already cutthroat industry has become, banks have to be careful how far they go — or they risk losing desperately-needed customers.
“They have to be really careful about rolling anything new out in this environment,” said Peter Garucci, a spokesman for the American Banking Association. “They’ve always competed for the same number of wallets, but if the number of wallets is smaller because of the down economy and new rules, the competition is going to increase and the last thing they’re going to want to do is make their customers mad.”
Consumers should take advantage of this increased competition to negotiate fees with their banks.
“Fees especially are very much negotiable, so if you see something show up in your account that you don’t like, call and complain, and threaten to take your business elsewhere,” Arnold added. “Chances are if there’s a fee or interest rate you don’t like one place, you’ll find something better somewhere else.”
June 16, 2010
By Cindy Perman
Stocks rallied Tuesday as the euro gained against the dollar after a number of successful European debt auctions eased investor concerns about the euro zone’s solvency crisis. Techs and industrials led the advance.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 213.88, or 2.1 percent, to close at 10,404.77. All 30 components were higher, led by Microsoft [MSFT 26.41 -0.1725 (-0.65%) ], American Express [AXP 41.5327 -0.0573 (-0.14%) ] and Boeing [BA 66.82 -0.66 (-0.98%) ].
The S&P 500 rose 2.4 percent to trade above its 200-day moving average of 1,108.26 for the first time since May. The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 2.8 percent. And the CBOE volatility index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, was near 25 at the closing bell.
The euro rose against the dollar as strong demand for government debt from several European countries offset worries about the debt crisis after Moody’s downgraded Greece’s credit rating to junk status on Monday.
“Most of the downtrend in the euro is done,” said Michael Cohn, chief investment strategist at Global Arena Investment Management. “We’ll probably have one more downdraft for the euro by August to around $1.15, but that’s it.”
April 8, 2010
By: Kevin Spak
Visa knows if you’re going to get a divorce. It knows that you just moved and, most importantly, it knows if you’re going to miss a payment—maybe before you do. Credit card companies have developed eerily accurate models for predicting consumer behavior based on the things they buy, the Daily Beast explains. “Card companies don’t really care about divorce in and of itself—they care whether you’re going to pay your card off,” explains one law professor.
People who buy cheap motor oil or drink in certain bars are considered risky borrowers, whereas people who buy carbon monoxide detectors and premium birdseed tend to pay on time. When American Express offered some customers $300 to close their accounts last year, it used this kind of data to pick its targets. And if the company predicts a major life change, like a move or divorce, it alerts marketing partners, so they can sell you things like furniture and home refurbishing services.
October 26, 2009
The International Forecaster
The G-20 finance ministers meet in Scotland on November 6th and 7th, and they will all be bleating about the fall in the dollar. France started this week, and the others will follow. Their currencies are rising in value and they do not like it.
We expect other nations to follow, Mexico and Brazil in imposing a 2% tax on incoming funds and others will print their currencies and buy dollars to reduce the value of their currencies and at the same time buy US Treasuries that are decreasing in value. That will neutralize any benefit from the exercise. In addition, they will all scream for a strong dollar policy. By the time the meeting begins the dollar should be between 71 and 72 on the USDX, the dollar index. The weaker dollar means dollar debt will be cheaper to pay back. The big question is how long will it take for the dollar to fall to 40 to 55?
We are often asked how does today compare with the 1930s in tax revenue and government spending? In 1930-31 tax revenue fell almost 53%. It increased 250% in 1932 and tripled in 1938. Yet, growth during the 30s went nowhere. In spite of an increase of 45% in government spending during those years by 1940 GDP had not returned to the levels of 1930. In 1939 unemployment was still 17.2% and in 1940, 16.4%. This is the same monetary policy being used today that was used during the 1930s. Keynesian monetization that does not work. The only reason the depression did not continue is that FDR arranged another war, otherwise the depression could have continued indefinitely. The debt bubble of the 1920s only lasted seven years. Our present debt bubble actually began in 1978, was purged in 1982-83 and began again in 1986. It was killed in 1989 and resurrected in 1994. The bubble of 2000-2001 was replaced by our current real estate bubble in 2003, which is now in the process of deflating. The privately owned Federal Reserve engineered all this.
The current fiasco was accompanied by a shortfall in tax collections to government spending from 2003 to 2007. 2008 held its own due to cooking the books and 2009 fell almost 18%. Unless further tax increases are implemented you can expect 2009 to fall short as well. Thus, if taxes are not increased the American economy will collapse. This is harsh and tax increases will come at just the wrong time. It can in part by temporarily covered by hyperinflation, but that would be a transitory solution. 62.8% of foreign reserves are in US dollars, so as the dollar depreciates foreign debt decreases. The flip side is that there is major imported inflation, particularly in the cost of goods and services.
Present government stimulation is not going to work. It didn’t work in the 1930s and Japan has found out to its dismay that since 1992 it didn’t work for them either. Why should it work in America? The debt that has been so wantonly created is still going to be there and if taxes are not raised or costs cut, it will be even larger.
Our government, Wall Street and many Americans are basing their future on stimulation and recovery and it isn’t going to happen. This supposedly is how government is going to generate its tax revenue. All we can say is good luck.
At the G-20 and G-7 we hear about an exit strategy. A strategy that doesn’t exist. Others may raise taxes but we can assure you the US and UK will be the last to do so. They are currencies in disparate trouble. The dollar will find its real value somewhere between 40 & 55 on the USDX. The dollar will become a third world currency and as a result gold will climb to $2,500 to $3,000.
The G-20 let us know that they would be replacing the G-7 and G-8. This desperation of power to developing countries would expedite the transfer of wealth from Western nations in the third world via carbon taxation in order to lower standards to meet those of the lower tier countries. This is being done to force the first world to accept world government.
In his address to the conclave US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told attendees that the US was going to legislate sweeping changes to the financial system under the guise of creating greater protection for consumers and investors and to promote a more stable financial system that would relieve taxpayers of the burden of the financial crisis.
The members still want to complete the Doha trade talks that have been bogged down for four years. What the WTO is really trying to accomplish is extreme financial deregulation under the cover of trade agreements, which would undermine genuine regulation and would make the entire world a free trade zone to be further looted by transnational conglomerates. The force behind WTO deregulation is the EU and they are pushing the worst aspects of the plan.
The WTO has an agreement called the FSA, the Financial Services Agreement that explicitly applies to more than 100 countries and mandates major deregulation. Mr. Geithner worked on this plan during the Clinton administration, so his regulation statements are meant for public consumption only. Incidentally, the WTO-EU rules are virtually unknown to the US Congress.
Geithner was the one who closed the deregulation deal for the Clinton entourage as lead negotiator. He knows all about the existing agreements. He was directly instrumental in the destruction of Glass-Steagall. The whole new crowd in the Obama administration was responsible for setting up what has become the destruction of our financial system.
The present US course is to re-regulate and that is in direct opposition to what the WTO and the EU want. There will be quite a fight over this change of direction by the US, especially over the WTO, Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services, which is severe deregulation. The bottom line is Doha, the FSA, WTO and the EU have to be stopped. More deregulation is now politically unaccepted by Americans who have lost so many jobs. There obviously are two factions within the Illuminist structure fighting this out. In fact, the FSA was largely written by American Express and AIG. These are some of the inner workings behind the scenes that you never hear about. Things are never what they seem to be.
The Treasury will have major issuances next week. On Monday alone they will issue $116 billion in new notes and bills, 2, 5 & 7-year paper; plus another $30 billion in bills and $7 billion in TIFS. Tuesday will see $44 billion in 2-year notes. On the 28th, $41 billion in 5-year notes and on the 29th, $31 billion in 7-year notes. That totals $182 billion and that is disastrous.
Domestic investors are selling the rally in domestic stocks at an accelerating rate while continuing to invest overseas, and in the emerging bond bubble.
Don’t’ be deceived by Wall Street and Washington, the worst remains ahead for the economic and systemic-solvency crisis. There are no meaningful signs of business recovery, with the current depression likely to evolve into a great depression, in conjunction with the collapse of the value in the US dollar and a hyperinflation. Risks are high for these crisis’s to explode in the year ahead. The general outlook is not changed says economist John Williams.
Mortgage application fell for a second straight week with refinance loans decreasing 13.7%, the lowest since 9/11/09.
Barclays Capital hosted a private meeting yesterday with Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn, CFO David Viniar and Global Sales and Treading co-heads David Heller and Harvey Schwartz.
How concerned are they about any new regulations on the financial industry? Not much. In a copy of the notes Barclay is putting out on the meeting, and obtained by EconomicPolicyJournal.com, Goldman told Barclay that it is educating the regulators.
Barclay advised that senior Goldman management are spending an, “exorbitant amount of time thinking about potential regulatory and policy outcomes and educating regulators and policymakers on the intricacies of financial markets.”
The only picture I can conjure up is Blankfein and company educating,
Gene Sperling (“Counselor” to Geithner) who last year took in $887,727 from Goldman
Lee Sachs (Geithner’s “right hand man”) who reported more than $3 million in salary and partnership income from the hedge fund Mariner Investment Group (started by Brace Young former Goldman partner) and Gary Gensler (Head of CFTC) former Goldman partner.
August 31, 2009
Dallas Business Journal
The U.S. government has made a profit of about $4 billion on the bank bailout program so far as some of the largest banks have already repaid their loans, according to a report by the New York Times.
In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, locally-based Plains Capital Corp. was listed late last year as the recipient of $87.6 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds.
To date, the Treasury says it has allocated $250 billion in TARP funds.
The Associated Press is now reporting that lawmakers, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, are going to draft legislation that will force companies benefiting from the funds to report how the money is spent.
The lawmakers’ decision follows an Associated Press report in which the news agency said it had asked 21 banks how they’re spending the money — only to receive no answers or vague answers at best.
The article said the profit so far amounts to about a 15 percent return annually, and that the news comes as a pleasant surprise given a lot of controversy around the Troubled Asset Relief Program when it was approved.
The profit so far has included $1.4 billion from Goldman Sachs, $1.3 billion from Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) and $414 million on American Express(NYSE: AXP), as well as between $100 million and $334 million in profit from the five other banks that have repaid the government, according to the Times report. It does not include $35 million from 14 smaller banks.
The banks operating in the Dayton area that have paid back their TARP funds include U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) and JPMorgan & Chase Co.(NYSE: JPM).
The article cautions that the government has yet to be paid back by insurance giant American International Group (NYSE: AIG) or the automakers, General Motors and Chrysler.