January 2008

senate.jpgThe $150 billion economic aid package on a fast track to passage in the House faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where lawmakers in both parties are seeking to tack on billions for senior citizens and the unemployed.

The House planned a Tuesday afternoon vote on its plan to speed rebates of up to $600-$1,200 to most income earners while giving tax breaks to businesses.A Senate panel was to vote Wednesday on a $156 billion version, which gives $500-$1,000 rebates to a broader group, including older Americans living off Social Security and wealthier taxpayers, and would extend unemployment benefits. Senate leaders hope to pass it by week’s end, said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The action put the Senate on a collision course with President Bush, who has cautioned against adding to a carefully negotiated package that brought together House Democrats and Republicans, both of whom surrendered cherished proposals to reach a deal. The White House and congressional leaders agree it is critical to enact an economic recovery package as soon as possible to help head off a recession and boost consumer confidence.

“The Senate is threatening to create partisan conflict by trying to put in additional programs,” said Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman.

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22819987.jpg A full-blown dollar crisis on top of a credit crunch and a weakening economy would be frightening. Thankfully, it need not happen. A lot of pressure is being put upon some Governments and, by extension, the Central Bank, to revalue the local currency exchange rate in relation to the US dollar.

Some financial experts are calling for a revaluation, one to take account of the dramatic decline the dollar has suffered over recent months.

Other financiers are saying the time has come for their currency to be del-inked to the dollar and set against a basket of currencies which would reflect a more realistic value of their currency on the world market. So far these calls have been resisted by many, for a number of reasons.

It is not sentimentality that compels a currency to retain the US dollar as its peg, but there is a recognized historical reason for doing so. Until recently, many Gulf countries relied solely upon exports of crude oil and refined products for its export earnings to support the economy.

Oil was and still is traded in American dollars so it made a lot of sense for Gulf , as nascent nations and emerging economies to link its currency to that with which most business would be conducted.

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stock-ticker.jpgA Rate Cut appears to be the only way Wall Street may put the brakes on a steep decline next week, is anticipated from the Fed, and Friday’s monthly jobs data may trigger a comeback for stocks after their January dump. Even after this week’s two-day rally, stocks finished on Friday in the red and remain down sharply for the year so far.

The Federal Reserve’s meeting is expected to result in a reduction of 50 basis points in the fed funds rate, now down to 3.5pc.The central bank’s announcement will come only eight days after the Fed took emergency action on Tuesday and cut rates by 75 basis points. The move was surprising – not only for its size – but also because it came outside of a scheduled policy meeting.

The Fed acted as stocks were falling almost worldwide and about an hour before the market opened on Tuesday after a three-day holiday. The Federal announcement is expected on Wednesday, at the conclusion of a two-day meeting. A blizzard of economic reports, including data that may show contraction in fourth-quarter gross domestic product, and quarterly earnings from several Dow components, as well as a major speech by the president, will compete with the Fed and the jobs data for investors’ attention.

Investors on Wall Street and Main Street are likely to pay more attention than usual to the president’s remarks on his views of economy following this week’s decision on a tax-rebate plan.

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candy31.jpgPersonal finance blogging is a great way for both professionals and dabblers to share their personal knowledge with the world. With the right resources, just about anyone can be a successful personal finance blogger. Take a look at these helpful resources that will make launching your PF blog easy and fun.

1. Ask for help on sites like Ask Shane and ProBlogger: Don’t be afraid to reach out to your fellow bloggers to ask for advice. Use these sites to learn from the experience and mistakes of others. Once upon a time even professional bloggers were starting out just like you and they can be an invaluable source of guidance and advice.

2. Learn to code: You don’t need to become a coding expert, but it will help to learn the basics of the most common coding languages used in blogging. You’ll be able to better customize your blog both to your own design and to the needs of your readers. Check out these online resources for learning HTML, CSS and XHTML.

3. Concentrate on content first: While it’s tempting to get caught up in designing a swanky layout for your site, content should always be your first priority. Develop good articles first, and worry later about how they look. Use this article from SEOmoz for instruction on how to generate great content for your site.

4. Guide to creating hooks: Your hook is what lures readers onto your site in the first place, and this guide can help you develop a good one. Whether you’re banking on humor or your investigative reporting skills to entice readers, always make sure your hooks are top-notch or readers won’t return.

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glasgow-whisky.jpgA man goes into a bar and seats himself on a stool. The bartender looks at him and says, “What’ll it be buddy?”

The man says, “Set me up with seven whiskey shots and make them doubles.” The bartender does this and watches the man slug one down, then the next, then the next, and so on until all seven are gone almost as quickly as they were served. Staring in disbelief, the bartender asks why he’s doing all this drinking.

“You’d drink them this fast too if you had what I have.”

The bartender hastily asks, “What do you have pal?”

The man quickly replies, “I have a dollar.”

*** *** ***

A man in a bar sees a friend at a table, drinking by himself.

Approaching the friend he comments, “You look terrible. What’s the problem?”

“My mother died in August,” he said, “and left me $25,000.”

“Gee, that’s tough,” he replied.

“Then in September,” the friend continued, “My father died, leaving me $90,000.”

“Wow. Two parents gone in two months. No wonder you’re depressed.”

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539w.jpgIndia’s Tata Motors on Thursday unveiled its much anticipated $2,500 car, an ultra-cheap price tag that brings car ownership into the reach of tens of millions of people. But critics worry the car could overwhelm the country’s roads and create an environmental nightmare.

Company Chairman Ratan Tata, introducing the Nano during India’s main auto show, drove onto a stage in a white version of the tiny four-door subcompact, his head nearly touching the roof.With a snub nose and a sloping roof, the world’s cheapest car can fit five people — if they squeeze. And the basic version is spare: there’s no radio, no passenger-side mirror and only one windshield wiper. If you want air conditioning to cope with India’s brutal summers, you need to get the deluxe version.

While the price has created a buzz, critics say the Nano could lead to possibly millions more automobiles hitting already clogged Indian roads, adding to mounting air and noise pollution problems. Others have said Tata will have to sacrifice quality and safety standards to meet the target price.

The chairman, though, insists the car will meet safety standards and pollute even less than motorcycles, passing domestic and European emission standards and averaging about 50 miles per gallon (20 kilometers per liter).

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recycling-bin.jpgWise men always said that words are like arrows on a bow. Once released, they never come back but hover around in the universe. I wonder, what would you say about the written word?

Writers and writing coaches like to rail against flabby writing. But what if this verbal clutter wasn’t just getting in the way of us writing with clarity and style – what if it was also draining the vital resources of the planet?

Those innumerable blogs, sms blitz on a million mobiles, reams of emails are probably lying in the hinterland of the universe somewhere, words that we need no more.

Even when we hit the trash icon on our computer screens and feel happy to clear the trash from our computers and servers, does it go away completely? Or does it just get released in the digital world to rot and fester away for years?

The eco experts have already expressed alarm over the piling junk in space with nearly half a century of our space exploration programmes.

There is junk from spent rocket stages, hatches blown off space shuttles, paint fragments chipped of shuttles travelling at incredible speeds and old, rusted satellites, floating around us hundreds of light years away.

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main.jpgIt is often a daunting task to manage your finances with all of the different and varying expenses that you can accrue today. From mortgages, credit card bills, car payments, there are many financial responsibilities to juggle. Sometimes these expenses creep up on us and make it very difficult for us to pay. That is where a cash advance can truly help.

A cash advance payment is the sum that is paid toward the advanced amount of money that was received by the individual. This amount should be paid in full to eliminate any new charges or fees to an account. If this is not a possibility, the consumer will need to budget money very strictly and come up with a plan where the cash advance payments will be paid off as quickly as possible. To ensure a high level of organization and self-esteem through this whole process there are some things to think about when budgeting this expense into the rest of an individuals financial plan.

While these loans are often useful to those in need of emergency cash for bills or other unexpected financial burdens, there are often fees and interest that you must pay for the convenience of these cash advances. If they are not paid in a timely manner, they can also accrue fees and can ultimately damage your credit.

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flattery.jpgFlattery will get you everywhere. Giving praise is often neglected. When was the last time you took the time to call someone to thank them about a service they performed for you? Or, in this generation, emailed a nice testimonial?

It helps negotiate: Flattery is infantry on the march for negotiation. Actually it is the best, and oldest, trick in the book to bag the best deals while shopping.

It breaks the ice: Sometimes, a little flattery goes a long way in getting to know new people. Surprising how much nicer people can get when their ego is pampered.

It lifts spirits: When a friend has a bad hair day or is feeling down, a bit of flattery does the trick. Instantly,it makes him/her feel better.

The queue moves: In a supermarket on a Friday evening, a little flattery can help you jump the queue and stave off varicose veins.

Makes light of excess baggage: A minor compliment accompanied with a smile could help you save some precious dollars at the airport!

Gets help when the tyre goes flat: A damsel in distress plus a little flattery. Result? A good samaritan to help and the happy prospect of keeping freshly manicured nails in tip top condition.

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crystal_ball2_bmwpreview.jpgIt’s easy to look back at everything that happened in recent history and say, “I saw that coming.” But how good are you really at predicting the future?

Wall Street’s top forecasters have some good news and bad news for 2008. Many think stocks will head higher but that unemployment will rise and the overall economy will slow.

In other words, 2008 is going to look an awful lot like 2007. Despite falling housing prices and the subprime mortgage meltdown igniting fears about a broader economic slowdown. Subprime mortgage meltdown? The worst is over.

The coming year will be challenging for stock investors and you don’t need a crystal ball to make that prediction. However, since investing is always about future results, what do you think 2008 will be like for the stock market?

Odds are it will be very much like the latter part of 2007, at least through the first four to six months.

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