October 2008

With living costs rising at a seemingly constant rate, simple, everyday expenses are getting more and more difficult to accommodate, and many people are finding their budgets getting tighter than ever.

While there are plenty of areas people can trim their budgets, such as spending on entertainment or shoe shopping, the rising costs of necessary items like food and gasoline make it harder and harder for people to cut enough spending elsewhere in their budgets to accommodate the increased expense of these everyday necessities. And despite the need, it’s simply unrealistic to eliminate all extraneous spending in order to make room for the ever-increasing expense of groceries and gasoline.

Thankfully, with a little budgetary reorganization, some planning, and a dash of creativity, you can maximize your food budget to make sure you get the best value for your dollar. Here are a few tips to help you spend wisely at the grocery store, and stretch your food budget as far as possible.

Plan ahead All too often, people approach grocery shopping with an impulse-buy mentality. “I’ll just go see what’s on sale,” is an extremely ineffective approach to grocery shopping. Sit down with a cookbook and plan your meals at least a week in advance. Scheduling meals out in advance will allow you to maximize your food spending, as you can organize meals by primary ingredients, using them from one day to the next. Also, planning ahead will help you avoid impulse buys when you get to the store. Make a list and stick to it.
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The Rescue Plan. Is my money safe at the Bank?

Well to be honest, I would like to say yes. If you asked me the same question some months months ago, I would have undoubtedly said yes. Now however I actually have a sliver of doubt. It’s true that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) pledges to insure your money.

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The near-term outlook for global stock markets is for continued volatility, with little chance of sustained progress until we see an end to corporate earnings downgrades and an improvement in economic leading indicators.

In this note we comment on the problems facing emerging markets, and some broad thoughts on why capitalism remains a reasonable starting point for economic systems.

What is our market outlook?

The threat of a global financial meltdown has diminished thanks to massive central bank and government intervention, which has addressed the liquidity and solvency issues of many US and European banks. However, corporate earnings estimates for 2009 still look too optimistic in light of the poor economic leading indicators that we are seeing, such as consumer and business confidence levels. Therefore, sandwiched between the possibilityof an immediate short-term relief rally and a positive long-term view that equities are currently cheap, we have a near-term view that markets will remain volatile and are likely to trade sideways while the US, Europe and Japan endure a recession.

Emerging markets: the real threat would be a rise in global protectionism.

If the worst is over regarding the US and European banking crisis, it certainly is not for some emerging markets. Hungary finds itselfwith a massively over borrowed consumer sector, with foreign currencyborrowings in Swiss francs and Japanese yen. As these safe havencurrencies appreciate, the risk of widespread default on mortgages and other bank loans increases. The Ukraine economy is coming down with a bump as foreign lenders are put off by 25% inflation. Other emerging markets are suffering from a mix of problems that can include an overvalued currency, excess consumer borrowing (in local and sometimes foreign currencies), falling prices for commodity exports, domestic politics and a drop in demand for exports as the G7 enters recession.
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World leaders vowed yesterday to revamp the global financial system in the face of recession fears, but US President George W Bush urged nations to “recommit” to free markets despite economic turmoil.

China’s Premier Wen Jiabao called for more regulation of the world’s financial system, saying after the summit “we need to draw lessons from this crisis.”

“We need financial innovation to serve the economy better, however we need even more financial regulation to ensure financial safety.”

Wen confirmed China’s participation in a crucial summit in the United States on November 15 aimed at tackling the financial meltdown, without specifying which Chinese leader would attend the meeting of 20 industrialised and emerging powers.

The economic turmoil has led to growing criticism of US-style free market capitalism, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy earlier this week saying “the ideology of the dictatorship of the market… is dead.”

But Bush, moving to set an agenda for the upcoming international economic summit, said its participants must “recommit” to the principles of free enterprise and free trade.

“As we focus on responses to our short-term challenges, our nations must also recommit to the fundamentals of long-term economic growth – free markets, free enterprise, and free trade,” Bush said.
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Though investors have endured some pretty terrible Dow performances in recent weeks, including another 300-plus point on Friday, the downward spiral has not gone far enough to halt trading on Wall Street.

New York Stock Exchange rules currently call for circuit breakers to interrupt trading only in cases of extreme drops of more than 1,100 points. Such breaks, established after the Black Monday crash in 1987, are intended to help investors step back and assess what is happening.

The thresholds for market timeouts are set quarterly, using the Dow’s average closing price for the previous month, and activate in increments of 10, 20, and 30 percentage point drops.

For the current fourth quarter, if the Dow drops 1,100 points before 2 p.m., trading stops for an hour. If such a drop happens between 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., trading halts for a half hour. After 2:30 p.m., the 1,100-point threshold expires.

There is also a 2,200-point mark. If the Dow falls by that much before 1 p.m., trading stops for two hours. Between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., a 2,200-drop causes an hour halt. After 2 p.m., trading ends.

If the Dow falls by 3,350 points, trading stops for the rest of the day.

The circuit breakers have been activated twice, both times in late afternoon trading on Oct. 27, 1997, when the Dow eventually closed off 554 points, or 7.2 percent. Trading that day was halted under previous triggers, which were later revised in 1998. The current triggers have never been hit.
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investingIt is important to look for positive points to find a way out of the financial crisis, apart from philosophic controversy.

All countries, whether separately or collectively, are working hard to contain the crisis, or at least to reduce losses, despite the gloomy picture of the global economy and the pessimistic atmosphere blanketing the entire world.

Although it is difficult to speak about positive points while the entire world is facing such a crisis, there must be some positive aspects.

The first of these positive effects is that the financial crisis ushers in an end to the domination of the sole magnate in international financial relations, which was a major cause of the crisis.

Wall Street was the world’s most powerful investment house, just a few months ago, where investments used to pour from the East and the West. Now Wall Street means bankruptcy, and investors in fear of losing their money do their best to avoid it.

At present, there are regions in Europe and Asia, including the Gulf region, emerging as hubs of huge investments, which will bring about more stability to the world financial system. This shift is important for restructuring international relations in the post-crisis stage.

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The torrent of earnings releases set to hit this week could only exacerbate volatility moves, analysts say. Volatility has knocked around stocks on Wall Street in record ways. Buckle up for the coming week.

News and concern over inter-bank lending, credit spreads and declining oil prices, the major averages managed to piece together a strong week that built on the lowest levels in five years.

So far in October, each day the Dow in ranges of no less than 250 points. In fact, the index saw the first 1,000-point swing in its history just over a week ago on Oct. 10. Most of this volatility has been blamed on the liquidation of assets of hedge funds and mutual funds. Rumors of poor performance at major players intensified the effect.

“No doubt the indiscriminate selling we’ve seen has been liquidation, no doubt. Everything is for sale,” says Art Hogan, chief market analyst with Jefferies. Hogan points out that all the indexes have fallen by roughly the same percentage, which indicates that funds are not selling stocks in one industry to invest in another.

The news about the deleveraging of the hedge fund industry is already behind the event, to a certain extent. A lot of hedge funds have a very high level of cash right now. As we come into next week, the question now is whether cash levels are high enough for everyone’s comfort and is the indiscriminate selling is behind us or not, and can we start focusing on fundamentals.
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Investment risk is the chance that money can be made or lost on any investment. It is important to know how risk and reward interact and to understand what investments might suits different risk appetites.

“No pain, no gain.” You heard that cliché to describe something you really didn’t want to do? Unfortunately, investing carries a certain amount of risk and with that risk can come some pain, but also some gain.

You must weigh the potential reward against the risk of an investment to decide if the pain is worth taking for thethe potential gain.” Understanding the relationship between risk and reward is a key piece in building your personal investment philosophy.

What is Risk?
Risk can be thought of as the uncertainity of something happening. In investing this is often seen as the variability in the returns of an investment. This variability can be measured in many ways, one common yardstick beingvolatility. Volatility is a measure of the speed and magnitude of price changes in an investment over a period of time. If the price moves up and down rapidly over short time periods, it has high volatility. If the price almost never changes, it has low volatility.

Investors need to be aware of the various investment risks and to realise what effects they might have on their investments. Although risks pose a threat, they also pose an opportunity and investors need to know the best way of mitigating risk so that they can also benefit from the potential rewards.

What about reward?

Risk and reward go hand in hand. Generally speaking the greater the risk the greater the potential chance of reward, or loss. An investors financial goals and attitude to risk will be a guide to what type of investment will best suit them. Different asset classes have different risk/reward profiles.
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All that money you’ve lost — where did it go?

Any ideas? Come on lets talk……

Have you ever seen a road accident happen? You must have, since many generally drive like idiots and have a high accident rate. Whenever I see a road accident and later think about how it happened, I can’t help feeling that while most of us drive like idiots, most of the time accidents happen when two idiots do something idiotic at the same time and at the same place. One guy is happily speeding, while trying to read a text message and just then another one in front of him decides to turn right without revealing his intentions beforehand. Either one would have got away but the two in combination becomes an event.

The stock markets are just like that. While one company or one industry may be driven by some particular factor, a prolonged bull market or a bear market only happens when many different factors come together. Sometimes, some of these factors may be related but at other times, they may be unrelated. It could just be a coincidence that they are happening at the same time.

There has never been a correction that has not proven to be an investment opportunity. While everything is down in price, there is actually less to worry about than when prices are historically high. More money has been lost by people who bought into last year’s markets than by those who will buy into this one, at this stage of the correction. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.

Every correction is different, the result of various economic and/or political circumstances that create the need for adjustments in the financial markets. This correction is worse than most that I’ve experienced, but the doom and gloom scenarios many have been pushing are unlikely to come to fruition. Once the media elects a new president, they’ll just have to start reporting better news: 96% of all mortgages are current sounds a whole lot better than 20% of all sub-prime mortgages are in trouble.

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