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  • Homeowners

    Medication for Middle-Class Mortgage Mania

    Mortgages Blog Money 

    Everything old is new again…. Between 1634 and 1637, tulips became all the rage in Holland. The record of exactly what happened is sketchy and perhaps apocryphal in part, but at one point a particular kind of tulip bulb could be traded in the marketplace for about 12 acres of land. This is one reason why the history of this phenomenon is often labeled the “tulip mania.” In America between 2005 and 2008, real estate […]

  • $2 a Gallon Gas, Michele Bachmann? Aim Higher.

    Government Blog 

    Big city-dwellers notwithstanding, American consumers may purchase gasoline more frequently than any other item. In fact, according to a 2009 Nilson report, when it comes to credit card purchases, gas is the most frequent purchase. Food, groceries and retail items are also on the list, but when you think about it, it makes sense — most Americans pump their own gas on a very regular basis. For many people the price of gas relates directly […]

  • Capitol building

    Zero Sum Game: The Black Box of the Congressional Budget Process

    Government Blog 

    So, how do you do your household budgeting? Millions of us use QuickBooks or some variation thereof. For those who are technologically challenged (I was for years), yellow pads, composition books, copy paper, accounting journals, even index cards, are the medium of choice. However different their materials may be, most consumers who keep a household budget without the aid of an accountant or bookkeeper use pretty much the same method. As a rule, even accountants and […]

  • The Silver Lining in the U.S. Debt Downgrade

    Blog Money 

    No matter which side of the political fence or economic Continental Divide you sit on, few can deny that this was the week that was. It began with the controversial debt-ceiling deal about which I wrote in my last column. Shortly after the president signed off and the legislation became law — a remarkably silly law, even in the context of a country with so many silly laws — Moody’s issued a statement that it […]

  • Of Debt Ceiling Debates, Non-Denial Denials and Non-Default Defaults

    Blog Money 

    In 1980, Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan asked the American people: “Are you better off than you were four years ago… Is America more respected?” Fast forward to the cyber era of 2011, where anything less than real time is considered “so two weeks ago,” and weeks seem like dog years: are you feeling better now than you did four months ago? Do you believe that America is more respected in the world after our […]

  • On Cell Phone Hacking and Privacy: A Modest Proposal for Mr. Murdoch

    Data Security 

    The recent revelations regarding the outrageous escapades of certain News Corp. subsidiaries, and the employees thereof, have been so scandalous as to capture and dominate the attention of the worldwide media for several weeks. For once, most Americans began to follow business news with the obsessive fascination normally accorded “Jersey Shore” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” This story has everything: the resignations and apparent bribery of high Scotland Yard officials; the arrest of very […]

  • Un-Warrented: American Consumers Lose Their Biggest Defender

    Financial Literacy Banking Blog Money 

    At long last, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launches officially this week. Unfortunately, so far it seems that what happens on Thursday, July 21st could be more of a lurch than a launch. As has been rumored over the past few weeks, President Obama bypassed the chief architect and advocate of the Bureau, Elizabeth Warren, to be its first director. He nominated Richard Cordray, the former Attorney General of Ohio, who rose to national prominence […]

  • Child Identity Theft: The 17-10 Solution

    Blog Identity Theft 

    This week I had the opportunity to attend a fascinating forum in Washington, DC, to explore the myriad issues surrounding child identity theft, including foster care identity theft (a particularly cruel malady foisted upon children who already begin life behind the eight ball) and identity theft within families. The event was sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission and the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, and was attended […]

  • The Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Breach: Losing Client Data the Old Fashioned Way

    Data Security Blog Privacy 

    A few days ago, a friend of mine received several letters dated June 24, 2011 from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, where he has kept brokerage accounts for himself and his children for many years. It began with the now familiar, “we care about you” phrase: “At Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, client satisfaction and information security are critical priorities.” Then it segues into the sickeningly familiar, “but perhaps not enough” phrase: “We are writing to inform […]

  • The Weakest Link: Feds Fail with Cyber Security Proposal

    Data Security Blog 

    Last week I expressed my concern over efforts in Congress to delay, defang and ultimately defund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I called upon consumers to rebel against being treated as little more than pachyderm toe-jam and to send a clear message in 2012 to those in Congress who have been the spear carriers for business. My consternation over the GOP’s crusade to derail the first truly powerful and focused national consumer protection agency, however, […]