Archive for August, 2016

The Richest Generation Keeps Getting Richer

Posted on August 31, 2016 by Laura Lam

Baby boomers started turning 65 in 2011, marking the unofficial beginning of their retirement years. The timing could not have been better for older boomers, who are already part of the wealthiest generation in U.S. history. Since then, the broad S&P 500-stock index is up 91%. Market performance in the early years of retirement is a crucial worry for anyone living off a nest egg. In the worst-case scenario, stocks crash just as retirees start spending their savings, leaving them in a hole they can no longer earn their way out of.  But older boomers have experienced what is arguably the best-case…

The Evolving Threat of EMV Card Fraud

Posted on August 30, 2016 by Laura Lam

Chip-and-PIN cards are here to stay in the U.S. – despite some pushback from banks and retailers alike. While the switch means better protection for consumers and companies at point-of-sale (POS) terminals, there are new security threats on the horizon as scammers shift their efforts from brick-and-mortar stores to online transactions and more aggressive chip-and-PIN fraud. In the U.K., where chip-and-PIN cards have been the retail standard for more than a decade, cybercriminals have moved away from POS terminals to target online shoppers by leveraging the inherent insecurity of card-not-present (CNP) transactions.  By compromising user profiles or accounts online, attackers get…

Why are Cities and States Reluctant to Borrow?

Posted on August 26, 2016 by Laura Lam

Wall Street is urging governments to invest in big-ticket infrastructure projects. Voters and public officials have a different message: not so fast.  Plunging global interest rates have made borrowing cheaper than ever. But instead of spending on aging roads, bridges and buildings, many state and local governments are scaling back. New government-bond issues have dropped to levels not seen in the past 20 years. Municipal borrowers issued about $140 billion in bonds for new projects last year. Adjusted for inflation, that is 53% lower than in 2006 and 21% lower than in 1996. So far this year, municipalities have borrowed…

Delinquency Rates at Lowest Level in 10 Years

Posted on August 25, 2016 by Laura Lam

The delinquency rate for mortgages on residential properties during the second quarter dropped to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2006, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported. The rate fell 11 basis points from the first quarter and 64 basis points year-over-year to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.66% of outstanding loans, the MBA said Thursday. The delinquency rate for FHA loans dropped 55 basis points from last year to 8.46%, its lowest level since 2000. The delinquency rate for conventional loans was 3.86% in the second quarter, while the rate for VA loans was 4.31%. Similarly, just 0.32%…

Voters Split on Best Candidate for Housing

Posted on August 24, 2016 by Laura Lam

Opinions differed between current and prospective homeowners. For current homeowners, 33% favored Donald Trump, while 31% picked Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, 35% of prospective homeowners prefer Clinton, as opposed to just 27% who feel Trump would have a more positive impact. “A much larger percentage of survey respondents admitted they ‘don’t know’ which candidate will be best for real estate,” said Gino Blefari, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway HomeService.  “It will be interesting to see who will embrace the housing needs of Americans and put forth the best case for positively impacting our real estate market.” Berkshire Hathaway found in its…

The Middle-Class Housing Crisis

Posted on August 23, 2016 by Laura Lam

Deepening income inequality across the U.S. is dividing the housing market into winners and losers among renters and owners, the middle class and wealthy, and racial groups.  An annual report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, the State of the Nation’s Housing, reveals that even while the housing market begins to recover and regain solid footing, large parts of the country are being left behind. The number of American households paying more than 30% of their incomes on housing – a number that economists consider sustainable – ticked up to nearly 40 million in 2014.  That is particularly concerning because that number had been trending down for 3…

What is ‘Negative Wealth?’

Posted on August 22, 2016 by Laura Lam

Most people have some debt – payments to make, loans to pay back. But for some Americans, debt has gotten to an extreme and dire level: all their debts, added up, cost more than all their assets combined.  It’s called “negative wealth,” and a new analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that 14% of Americans are dealing with it, along with another 1.1% who are just breaking even. Which means that for 15.1% of Americans, everything they own isn’t enough to pay off their debt. Using data from the Survey of Consumer Expectations, economists were interested in…

Skimming Scams: Learn to Protect Yourself

Posted on August 19, 2016 by Laura Lam

Criminals have made off with as much as $3 billion dollars worldwide using devices that skim information from your cards.  The use of skimmers at ATMs especially has exploded – more than 5 times higher last year than the year before.  Thieves install the skimming hardware and/or tiny cameras at ATMs to copy card information and to record the typing of PIN numbers. But there are ways to protect yourself. “Most commonly the criminals remove the devices and then use the information to create a duplicate debit card that they can then use to drain your account,” said Nikhil Huteesing…

Banks Team Up to Fight (Cyber) Crime

Posted on August 18, 2016 by Laura Lam

Big banks are revving up efforts to combat cybercriminals targeting the financial-services industry.  Eight of the largest U.S. banks are forming a group that seeks to tackle the growing cyberthreat. It includes J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., among others. While still in its early stages, the big banks expect the group members will share more information with each other about threats, prepare comprehensive responses for when attacks occur and conduct war games designed for the issues facing the biggest institutions. The big banks are currently part of a wider group of banks that looks to share information about…