Preparing Your Portfolio Is the Most Important Action You Can Take

When the stock market is running very hot or very cold, it is on everyone’s mind and few conversations last very long before turning to the latest numbers.

Whether it is the boom of the 1990s or the credit crisis of 2007, when the market is erratic and volatile, people are engaged.

The factors that lead to a boom-bust cycle in the market are important. Investment professionals and regulators spend a great deal of time trying to understand what happens in the market during these periods.

Individual investors have little influence on the market. While it is important to understand what happens and why, that is not the most important consideration for individual investors.

The most important influence on how your portfolio performs is how well you have prepared it. Preparation is the only factor you can influence.

Preparation means adopting a reasonable allocation between stocks, bonds and cash. It also means diversifying you holdings by industry sector, company size and growth and value stocks.

Most investors should consider a bond allocation equal to their age. For example, a 45 year-old investor should have 55 percent in stocks and 45 percent in bonds.

You can’t know with any assurance which turns the market will take – even industry professionals don’t know.
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The cost of air tickets are expected to start coming down soon because of the world financial crisis, experts are predicting.

Experts are ruling are ruling out a plunge that would endanger the health of airlines.

“If you keep prices too high you’re going to lose more passengers,”

A forecast of reduction in an average ticket of between 15 and 20 per cent by the end of March is predicted, to be attracting passengers from more conventional companies like British Airways.

Most airlines nowadays use the yield management system, whereby prices are adjusted by computer on an almost daily basis in line with demand, starting relatively low then rising if a particular flight fills up, or falling if it does not.

“However, company profit margins are narrow, and they cannot really engage in a price war.”

Few airlines have yet adopted an aggressive pricing strategy, as they try to recover from the massive cost of fuel which neared $150 a barrel in mid-July, forcing them to slap surcharges on tickets.

While oil has now fallen to a third of this level, companies have held back from price-cutting at the same rate, while announcing a reduction in the surcharges since September.

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But in the end, ketchup is just ketchup, isn’t it?

Not really. For Americans, ketchup always contains tomatoes and vinegar and some kind of sweetener, along with spices, and a brand named Heinz.

H.J. Heinz Co. (HNZ) reported a 22% rise in its fiscal second-quarter profit and indicated that it may take fewer price increases on its products amid weakening consumer spending and falling commodity prices.

The company is still going ahead with some selected price hikes, but indicated that price cuts were unlikely.

Food companies have raised prices steadily over the last year amid soaring commodity prices. Investors and analysts have been watching closely to see how these companies now will handle the subject of price increases as commodities have pulled back and global economies have weakened. Price increases play a big role in offsetting costs, but in a weak economy companies run the risk of pushing away penny-pinching consumers. There has been some speculation that retailers may also be resisting efforts by manufacturers to raise prices.

The company took a fair amount of price hikes in the second quarter and that discussions with retailers on pricing are a “little more difficult.”

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The billionaire Saudi prince, who invested in Citicorp in 1991 when it was in financial straits, said he would raise his stake from 4 per cent to 5 per cent. At Citi’s current market value of just over $25bn, the new investment would cost about $350m.

The 26.4 per cent fall in the shares, which closed at $4.71 in New York, prompted Citi’s directors and executives to look at strategic options, includes selling part or whole of the company.

A $350m vote of confidence from Saudi prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal could not halt the rapid decline in the fortunes of Citigroup yesterday, with fears mounting that what was once the world’s biggest bank will lack adequate capital to withstand the billions of dollars of losses expected in the months to come.

The £236m investment came before the market opened yesterday, and reversed the nose-dive in the ailing bank’s share price for only 20 minutes before the sellers returned. It had been hoped that the boost in sentiment from Al-Waleed’s vote of confidence would end a two-year selloff that has wiped more than $200bn from Citigroup’s market value.

But as quickly as the share price had improved, it declined again. At one point it plunged by more than 25% to less than $4, its lowest since 1994. By the close on Wall Street it was off by more than 26% at $4.71, giving the bank a puny market value of $25bn.

In January 2007, Citigroup shares were worth more than $54 each and the company was valued at more than $250bn.

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Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama made history by becoming the first ever African American to be nominated for the role by a major political party.

Barack Hussein Obama II was born on August 4, 1961 in Hawaii. His mother, Ann Dunham, a white American from Kansas, met his Kenyan father, Barack Obama I, while they were studying together at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His parents separated when Obama was two, and he barely knew his father, who died in an automobile accident in 1982.

In 1967, Obama’s mother married Indonesian Lolo Soetoro, and the family moved to Jakarta, where Obama lived until he was 10. He has a half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng.

Obama moved back to Hawaii in 1971 and lived with his maternal grandparents until he graduated from high school in 1979. A graduate of Columbia University, he entered Harvard Law School in 1988, where he served as the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review.

First elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996 Barack Obama served as an Illinois state senator for seven years before he was elected to the US State Senate in November 2, 2004.

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The election of a new American president is always an important event, because of the power the American president has to influence events and affect lives around the world.

This election is particularly important: the American economy is going through the most serious financial crisis since The Great Depression. And the international scene is littered with the debris of Bush’s disregard for the rule of law, and his confrontational strategies.

Barack Obama has promised to undo the damage eight years of Bush policy has caused. The other contender, John McCain, if he unexpectedly surmounts the odds and becomes president, will likely build on the Bush legacy, notwithstanding his recent disclaimer: “I am not President Bush.”

To be sure Obama has said he would use force to defend American interests, and would be ready to act outside the framework of the United Nations.

It may be that being the president of a superpower carries with it some obligation to brandish the use of force as an instrument of foreign policy, or else risk being disqualified from the race altogether.

Nevertheless, the possibility of an Obama administration choosing dialogue over confrontation, engagement over hostility, is real.

Therefore, the new president would be well-advised to send a message that his defence of American values is genuine and not a rhetorical device to justify oppressive foreign policy choices.
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What is it that prevents America from righting herself? Stupid, blind, unthinking patriotism — willful idiots yelling “We’re number one!” while ignoring all evidence to the contrary.
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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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