Category : Personal Finance & Investing

(MarketWatch) Former SEC lawyer sounds alarm on ‘the greatest retirement crisis’ in history

He pointed to a “woefully unprepared” U.S. population.

“In the decades to come, we will witness millions of elderly American’s, Baby Boomers and others, slipping into poverty.” he said in a podcast this week with the Peak Prosperity blog. “‘Too frail to work, too poor to retire’” will become the new normal for many elderly Americans.”

Siedle threw out some startling numbers to show just how much pensions are underfunded, a pervasive problem made worse by their inability to reach performance targets, which is typically set around 7%.

“Warren Buffett BRK.A, +1.41% himself has said that is an unrealistic return,” Siedle said in the interview. “Wall Street’s solution to every investor problem is, and will always be, pay us more fees.”

Investors then pay those higher fees for “ever riskier rolls of the dice,” in an effort to chase returns, which “has resulted, predictably, in worse performance.”

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pensions, Personal Finance, Personal Finance & Investing, Social Security

Archbishop Justin Welby: Britain’s housing crisis is a major challenge

Britain’s housing crisis is one of the major challenges facing this country.

Housing is becoming unaffordable for many families, making it hard for those on lower incomes to get through the month and pushing them into debt. People are living in poor quality, over-crowded or temporary housing, putting their health at risk. Families are forced to move away from the communities they have settled in, separating them from family and support networks and breaking up communities.

Meanwhile it’s the poorest who are suffering the most. It’s those with least who find themselves isolated, or having to move every time they start to get established. The stress piles up in ways many of us would find hard to imagine.

That is why I’m so pleased to be launching the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community. The commission will explore these issues by combining academic and industry expertise with the lived experience of those affected by them. It will draw on the wisdom of those taking innovative approaches to housing.

The Church of England is already doing much to alleviate current suffering and build better communities. We do this every day through our 33,000 social action projects around the country – from food banks and debt counselling, to helping people of different faiths build bonds of friendship. But we also do it just by being in contact with people; by simply being there.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture

(NYT Op-ed) Nicholas Kristof–is a small Seattle company showing that capitalism can have a heart?

Staff members gasped four years ago when Dan Price gathered the 120 employees at Gravity Payments, the company he had founded with his brother, and told them he was raising everyone’s salary to a minimum of $70,000, partly by slashing his own $1.1 million pay to the same level.

The news went viral and provoked a national debate about whether efficient capitalism could have a heart. Some Americans lauded Price for treating employees with dignity. However, on Fox Business he was labeled the “lunatic of all lunatics,” and Rush Limbaugh declared, “I hope this company is a case study in M.B.A. programs on how socialism does not work, because it’s going to fail.”

So I came to Seattle to see what had unfolded: Did Gravity succeed or crash?

There were bumps, no doubt about it. A couple of important employees quit, apparently feeling less valued when new hires were close to them in pay. The publicity forced Gravity, which processes credit card payments for small businesses, to hire additional people to handle a deluge of inquiries. Worst of all, Price’s brother, who owned a stake in the company, sued and alleged that Price hadn’t consulted him on decisions.

For a while, it wasn’t clear that the gamble was going to pay off.

But eventually it did: Business has surged, and profits are higher than ever. Gravity last year processed $10.2 billion in payments, more than double the $3.8 billion in 2014, before the announcement. It has grown to 200 employees, all nonunion.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance & Investing, Theology

(NYT) Biggest College Admissions Scandal in US History: Actresses, Business Leaders and Other Wealthy Parents Charged

A teenage girl who did not play soccer magically became a star soccer recruit at Yale. Cost to her parents: $1.2 million.

A high school boy eager to enroll at the University of Southern California was falsely deemed to have a learning disability so he could take his standardized test with a complicit proctor who would make sure he got the right score. Cost to his parents: at least $50,000.

A student with no experience rowing won a spot on the U.S.C. crew team after a photograph of another person in a boat was submitted as evidence of her prowess. Her parents wired $200,000 into a special account.

In a major college admissions scandal that laid bare the elaborate lengths some wealthy parents will go to get their children into competitive American universities, federal prosecutors charged 50 people on Tuesday in a brazen scheme to buy spots in the freshmen classes at Yale, Stanford and other big name schools.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing

(USA Today) Help with the mortgage. More married couples bring in roommates to ease cost, study shows

In June, Natalee King and her husband, Jonathan, realized a decade-long dream of buying a home in Orange County, California, one of the more expensive housing markets in the country.

The couple drained their savings for a down payment to win the fixer upper.

But concerned about the cost of future repairs and compelled to rebuild their savings, they decided to rent out the master bedroom with its own bathroom for $1,250. From September through January, two college students on internships leased the space.

That rent money gave the Kings a bit of relief, and they’re looking for more.

They just signed another renter who is expected to move in at the end of the month. They plan to rent for at least a year to steady their finances as Jonathan goes back to school for a career change.

Read it all.

Posted in Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance & Investing

(AP) Paying for funerals impossible for many poor families

Darlene Hardison would have loved to have a funeral for her father and uncle and bury them in marked graves at a Michigan cemetery. But she and her family could come up with only enough money to have Hoover Heags and Arthur Hardison cremated, then they left the remains to a Detroit funeral home to bury.

Authorities later discovered Heags’ and Hardison’s cremated remains among nearly 300 others in bags, boxes and other containers inside Cantrell Funeral Home, one of two Detroit funeral homes police and state licensing officials are investigating for allegedly improperly storing remains. Heags had died about a year earlier; Hardison had been dead for about two years.

“The funds were limited … to paying house bills and we just didn’t have the money to cover everything we needed,” Darlene Hardison said at a cemetery where a memorial service was held for some of the people whose cremains authorities found in the now-closed Cantrell Funeral Home on Detroit’s east side. “We were just able to do a cremation and that was it,” Hardison said, wiping away tears.

Hardison’s story illustrates how the funeral homes now under scrutiny may have ended up having so many remains and why it is that families didn’t notice. Many poor families in the U.S. have been priced out of funerals and burials. People who can’t afford those services are left with the cheapest option: cremating their loved one’s remains and leaving it to a funeral home to dispose of them. Others may simply abandon relatives’ remains altogether, leaving it to coroners and funeral homes to pay for cremation and disposal.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Poverty

(CEN) Bishop Paul Butler welcomes U-turn on Universal Credit

THE BISHOP of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, has welcomed Amber Rudd’s announcement that the government will not extend the two-child limit on Universal Credit for children born before April 2017.

New changes also include pressing ahead with a pilot to support 10,000 people from ‘legacy benefits’ on to Universal Credit in a test and learn approach.

Bishop Butler, who speaks for the Church of England on issues relating to children and young people, said: “As a just and compassionate society, we believe that every child is a blessing and deserves to be treated equally.

“So I very much welcome the announcement that the two-child limit policy will not be extended to children born before the policy came into effect in April 2017.

“I also welcome the Government’s mor

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture

(NY Times Magazine) How American Cities Make Money by Fining the Poor

[Jamie] Tillman told me that she thought she had no choice but to plead guilty — it was unlikely, she believed, that the judge would take her word over that of the arresting officers. “I admit, your honor,” she said. “I just want to get me out of here as soon as possible.” Under Mississippi state law, public intoxication is punishable by a $100 fine or up to 30 days in jail. Ross opted for the maximum fine. Tillman began to cry.

The Federal Reserve Board has estimated that 40 percent of Americans don’t have enough money in their bank accounts to cover an emergency expense of $400. Tillman didn’t even have $10. She couldn’t call her family for help. She was estranged from her father and from her mother, who had custody of Tillman’s two young daughters from a previous relationship.

“I can’t — ” Tillman stammered to Ross. “I can’t — ”

Ross explained the system in his court: For every day a defendant stayed in the Alcorn County jail, $25 was knocked off his or her fine. Tillman had been locked up for five days as she awaited her hearing, meaning she had accumulated a credit of $125 toward the overall fine of $255. (The extra $155 was a processing fee.) Her balance on the fine was now $130. Was Tillman able to produce that or call someone who could?

“I can’t,” Tillman responded, so softly that the court recorder entered her response as “inaudible.” She tried to summon something more coherent, but it was too late: The bailiff was tugging at her sleeve. She would be returned to the jail until Oct. 14, she was informed, at which point Ross would consider the fine paid and the matter settled.

That night, Tillman says, she conducted an informal poll of the 20 or so women in her pod at the Alcorn County jail. A majority, she says, were incarcerated for the same reason she was: an inability to pay a fine. Some had been languishing in jail for weeks. The inmates even had a phrase for it: “sitting it out.” Tillman’s face crumpled. “I thought, Because we’re poor, because we’re of a lower class, we aren’t allowed real freedom,” she recalled. “And it was the worst feeling in the world.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Politics in General, Poverty, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Manchester Evening News) A Cheshire church is offering couples the chance to get wed for just £1,000

It is likely to be the happiest day of your life, but it also guaranteed to be the most expensive.

The average wedding in the UK now costs £30,355, an all-time high, with couples across the UK willing to splurge saying ‘I do’.

Now a church in Cheshire is offering couples the chance to have a wedding for just a fraction of the usual cost.

St John’s Church in Hartford, near Northwich, is recognising the huge expense couples face as they enter married life and offering an affordable alternative.

Dubbed ‘A Grand Wedding’, for just £1,000, a handful of lucky couples will be be given use of the venue, organist, a two-tier personalised wedding cake, invitation and service stationary, a photographer and flowers.

Also included in the package is a catered reception in the church centre for up to 30 guests including a two course meal, with the option to add a further 20 guests for an additional amount.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance & Investing, Stewardship

A study by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis finds that about 40% of middle-class Americans will live close to or in poverty in retirement

• Two in five – or 40% – of older workers and their spouses will be downwardly mobile in retirement.

• If workers ages 50-60 retire at age 62, 8.5 million people are projected to fall below twice the Federal Poverty Level, with retirement incomes below $23,340 for singles and $31,260 for couples.

• 2.6 million of 8.5 downwardly mobile workers and their spouses will have incomes below the poverty level – $11,670 for an individual and $15,730 for a two-person household….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Personal Finance & Investing, Poverty

(NBC) Former medical debt collectors using expertise to help the neediest patients

Craig Antico co-founded RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit that buys up batches of overdue medical bills, erasing $120 million in debt for 60,000 patients so far.

Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance & Investing, Stewardship

(C of E) Fixed Odds Betting Terminals: £2 maximum stake is ‘right decision’, says Bishop Alan Smith

The Bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith, has welcomed Government plans to limit the maximum stake on Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) to £2.

Dr Alan Smith said the decision was an “essential” step in curbing the harm done by the machines, which he said have “taken advantage of the vulnerable for too long”.

He thanked ministers for their action, announced today as part of a package of measures in response to a Government consultation.

Bishop Alan had previously written to all members of the Church of England’s General Synod, encouraging them to respond to the consultation with evidence of the consequences of these machines for their communities.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture

(Post-Gazette) Religious institutions wait to see what tax reform does to their place in people’s budgets

The conventional thinking is that most people who donate to places of worship are not primarily motivated by tax benefits.

For many, giving is a core value based on religious teachings and a sense of gratitude.

This could be the year when those assumptions are put to a test.

The new federal tax law has cut taxes for working American families, but it also could have the unintended consequence of reducing the financial incentive for many people to donate to religious and charitable organizations.

The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy estimates roughly 30 million households earning between $50,000 and $100,000 will be less likely to itemize deductions on their taxes due to the new law. With less incentive to donate, researchers predict the amount those households give will decline.

“Tax incentives do affect how much people give,” said Una Osili, associate dean for research. “If it is more expensive to give, they give less.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Taxes

(Mirror) Punters would lose £500 a session under Gambling Commission’s recommendation for fixed bet terminals to set the maximum stake at £30

Gambling addicts will lose more than £500 a session if the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals is set at £30.

Government minister Tracey Crouch wants a £2 limit on the ­bookies’ shop machines – nicknamed the crack cocaine of gambling.

But her plans received a blow from the Gambling Commission – the body that advises the Government – which has recommended she sets the top stake at £30.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Wash Post) Robert Samuelson–Don’t deny the link between poverty and single parenthood

What’s less worthy is basing any debate on misleading analysis. That’s my complaint against the Times essay. Its hypothetical and admittedly unrealistic thought experiment that eliminating poverty among single mothers wouldn’t have much effect on overall poverty is wrong, according to the government’s own figures from the Census Bureau.

Let’s look at the census figures.

In 2016, 40.6 million Americans had incomes below the government’s official poverty line, which was $24,339 for a family of four, including two children. Of those below the poverty line — 12.7 percent of the population — nearly 5 million were moms or dads heading single-parent families; 8.7 million were children under 18 in these single-parent homes.

Do the arithmetic. Together, single-parent families and their children totaled almost 14 million people, which is roughly a third of all people in poverty. If, magically, a third of America’s poor escaped poverty, the change would (justifiably) be hailed as a triumph of social policy. If we included the children in poverty in two-parent families, that would add more than 7 million to the total (3 million parents and 4 million children). The total of 21 million would equal about half of all people in poverty.

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Posted in Census/Census Data, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Poverty

(Wash Post) A retirement account Boom leads to an Urge for Some Americans to Splurge

The remarkable stock market rally of 2017 – in which the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index shot up 22 percent and the Dow Jones industrial average 25 percent – has boosted the nation’s retirement accounts to record heights, making the painful 2008-2009 stock market crash feel like ancient history. And that fervor has not faded with the new year.

That feeling of optimism could spread as more Americans receive their year-end retirement account statements in the mail and online this month, providing concrete evidence of newfound paper wealth.

And some are so confident that they are taking money out – despite it being taxed and potentially hit by an early-withdrawal penalty – assuming it will be replaced as markets continue to surge upward.

“I’ve seen more money requests for extraneous items in the last six weeks than I have in the last five years,” said Jamie Cox of Richmond-based Harris Financial Group, which manages $500 million in savings for about 800 middle-class families.

“There’s a lot of people that are feeling comfortable spending their retirement money right now,” Cox said.

Cox said he is seeing more people take larger withdrawals, $20,000 to $40,000, to fund dream vacations or home improvement.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Theology

(Front Page of Yesterdays LA Times) Borrow $5,000, repay $42,000 — How super high-interest loans have boomed in California

[JoAnn] Hesson’s $5,125 loan was scheduled to be repaid over more than seven years, with $495 due monthly, for a total of $42,099.85 — that’s nearly $37,000 in interest.

“Access to credit of this kind is like giving starving people poisoned food,” said consumer advocate Margot Saunders, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center. “It doesn’t really help, and it has devastating consequences.”

These pricey loans are perfectly legal in California and a handful of other states with lax lending rules. While California has strict rules governing payday loans, and a complicated system of interest-rate caps for installment loans of less than $2,500, there’s no limit to the amount of interest on bigger loans.

State lawmakers in 1985 removed an interest-rate cap on loans between $2,500 and $5,000. Now, more than half of all loans in that range carry triple-digit interest rates.

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Posted in Personal Finance & Investing

(CT) A federal judge (again) has declard that the longstanding clergy housing allowance violates the 1st Amendment

Once again, a federal judge has declared that the longstanding clergy housing allowance violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Offered only to “ministers of the gospel,” the 60-year-old tax break excludes the rental value of a home from the taxable income of US clergy. It’s the “most important tax benefit available to ministers,” according to GuideStone Financial Resources.

It’s also the biggest: American ministers currently avail themselves of the tax break to the tune of $800 million a year, according to the latest estimate by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

Wisconsin district judge Barbara Crabb first ruled against the housing allowance in 2013, finding that the second part of Section 107 of the IRS tax code provides “a benefit to religious persons and no one else, even though doing so is not necessary to alleviate a special burden on religious exercise.” Her ruling “sen[t] shockwaves through the religious community,” the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability stated at the time.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture, Taxes

Keeping Things in perspective Dept–Looking back to 1938 and what it cost to Live

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Personal Finance & Investing

(NBC) Parents of Toddler Killed in Disney Resort Alligator Attack Launch Foundation to Help Families with Children in Critical Medical Need

The parents of Lane Graves announced that the foundation, named in honor of their son, would help other parents pay expenses like electrical bills or the mortgage, while their children endure organ transplants.

Watch it all.

Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing

(Local Paper) South Carolina insurance director confirms http://HealthCare.gov prices will increase 31% next year

As Congress once again turns its focus toward health care reform, the S.C. Department of Insurance posted some sobering news about 2018 health insurance prices.

The agency confirmed on its website Thursday that average premiums for HealthCare.gov polices will skyrocket 31 percent in South Carolina next year, confirming information the federal government published on the future of health insurance costs earlier this summer.

Some customers will face higher increases than others. A 60-year-old patient in Charleston County who doesn’t use tobacco and wants to buy a “silver” plan next year will pay about 28 percent more. His monthly premium will increase from about $837 a month this year to $1,068 a month next year.

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Posted in --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance & Investing

(WSJ) After Irma, Many Mobile Homeowners May Face Tough Choice–rebuild or walk away

Some of the homes hardest hit by Hurricane Irma in Florida are also the least likely to be insured.

Florida has more mobile and manufactured homes than any other state. These homes, which are built in factories rather than directly onto a lot, often house low-income residents and seniors seeking cheaper housing for their retirement.

The homes are also less likely to be insured than many other types of homes, with the Florida Manufactured Housing Association estimating as many as 50% of the homes may lack insurance.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Marriage & Family, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Personal Finance & Investing

(WSJ) In America Men, young adults and rural residents increasingly say college isn’t worth the cost

Americans are losing faith in the value of a college degree, with majorities of young adults, men and rural residents saying college isn’t worth the cost, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey shows.

The findings reflect an increase in public skepticism of higher education from just four years ago and highlight a growing divide in opinion falling along gender, educational, regional and partisan lines. They also carry political implications for universities, already under public pressure to rein in their costs and adjust curricula after decades of sharp tuition increases.

Overall, a slim plurality of Americans, 49%, believes earning a four-year degree will lead to a good job and higher lifetime earnings, compared with 47% who don’t, according to the poll of 1,200 people taken Aug. 5-9. That two-point margin narrowed from 13 points when the same question was asked four years earlier.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Personal Finance & Investing, Rural/Town Life, Young Adults

(Bloomberg) American weddings are getting rarer and smaller—but not cheaper

You’re not the only one spending fewer summer weekends watching other people get married—but don’t worry, the weddings you’re still invited to might feel a little more special these days.

Fewer Americans are getting married, and the ones who still are have scaled back their weddings. Their nuptials are becoming smaller, though not necessarily cheaper, affairs.

Many couples are waiting longer and longer to schedule their weddings. In 2015, the median first-time American bride was almost 28 years old and the median groom almost 30, according to the most recent data available from the Census Bureau. (Ten years earlier, the typical bride was 25.5, the typical groom 27.)

The U.S. marriage rate—the number of new marriages per 1,000 people—has been falling for decades. It fell especially fast during the recession, in 2008 and 2009, but there’s little evidence that people started getting married again even as the economy recovered. And research firm IbisWorld predicts the marriage rate will keep falling over the next five years.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Sociology

(CT) DL Mayfield–How Government Support Saved Me; Signing up for food stamps changed my view of poverty in America

Just a few months ago, my family stopped qualifying for government cheese.

It came as a little bit of a surprise to me—I had, after all, been a part of the WIC (women, infants, and children) program for almost seven years, starting with my first child. My daughter was born two months early due to life-threatening complications and I was never able to breastfeed. WIC supplied the formula, an expense that would have been a huge blow to our family’s finances. As my husband and I took turns getting our graduate degrees, WIC provided us with milk, cheese, eggs, and a few other essentials, and when we were support-raising missionaries living in immigrant and refugee neighborhoods for three years, we used our WIC vouchers along with all of our neighbors.

Two years ago when my second child was born, I wasn’t able to work, and while moving across the country, our only car broke down. By the time we finally found an apartment to live in and a job for my husband, we didn’t even have enough money to buy curtains for our windows. We applied for food stamps, or SNAP, along with WIC, and I don’t know what we would have done without it for those few months. I felt sweet relief being able to go to the grocery store, swipe my card, and purchase food for my family. Each time, I was incredibly grateful for my country.

In light of where my family is now, it’s important for me to take a moment and remember those feelings—both the stress of not having money to buy essentials and the gratitude for any small breaks.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Personal Finance & Investing, Poverty, Religion & Culture

Irenic Thoughts: Synonymous with Anonymous

Chuck Feeney became a billionaire in the duty free shop business. Then he gave away $600 million anonymously. As the Daily News wrote of the reclusive philanthropist,

Chuck Feeney is what Donald Trump would be if he lived his entire existence backward.

.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Personal Finance & Investing

A market edge for Muslims

The strategy is almost heresy on Wall Street: Find a top-performing investment by seeking out a mutual fund with some of the industry’s strictest ethical screening requirements.

Yet that approach, if adopted, would work in at least one case. The Amana Income Fund, which avoids not only alcohol, tobacco, and gambling stocks but also pork producers and lenders who charge interest, received a Lipper award earlier this year for outperforming 180 equity income funds ”“ screened and unscreened ”“ over the past three years.

Amana Funds dominate the relatively small niche of socially responsible investing (SRI) that aims to reflect Islamic law, or sharia. The idea is for an entire portfolio to reflect moral values from the Koran, which deems pork products unclean and regards the charging and paying of interest as immoral endeavors that foster exploitative relationships.

“If Islam forbids it, then we’re not going to buy it,” says Monem Salam, deputy portfolio manager at Amana Funds. That principle generally “keeps us out of trouble,” he says, by requiring the funds to avoid such ticking time bombs as Enron and WorldCom, which imploded in accounting scandals a few years back. Both were too heavily leveraged to pass muster at Amana.

In theory, Islamic funds face an uphill battle since about half of the stock market universe ”“ including most financial services companies ”“ is off limits to them. But in practice, Islamic funds fulfill their moral ideals in considerable measure by mimicking some revered habits of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

For instance, because excessive stock trading amounts to gambling in the eyes of Islamic authorities, Islamic funds practice a buy-and-hold strategy that helps keep trading costs down. Also, concern about the ethics of borrowing and lending leads Islamic fund managers to avoid deeply indebted companies, such as several big-name airlines, which tend to stumble in recessions and in times of slow economic growth. Both practices are quintessential Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, based in Omaha, Neb.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Personal Finance & Investing

Cause for Concern?

From here:

A report today from Portales Partners on brokerage margin debt, which at $318 billion is 14% above its highest level reached in March 2000 — the year the dot.com bubble burst.”

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Personal Finance & Investing