Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Tricky accounting helped state avoid necessary contributions ]]>

You might be wondering how the State of Illinois got away with avoiding making the needed pension contributions for so many years. The answer is simple: accounting magic. I's not so surprising to find tricks in the numbers. That's how Enron got away with all those "off balance sheet" subsidiaries. That's how Wall Street firms never had to properly value all those credit default swaps. And, similarly, that's how the state got away with promising pension payments, but never funding them. Expected rate of return You and I know what we hope our 401(k) investments will earn. But we can't … ]]> Thu, 24 Mar 2011 10:58:01 -0600 <![CDATA[ '09: Time to look ahead, not back ]]>

Let's look back on 2008 without recriminations, and look forward to 2009 with only the resolve to face reality. This past year was a tough one financially for almost everyone. The markets once again demonstrated that -- much like Mother Nature -- we cannot stand in their way. Once rolling, the markets cannot be deterred by government fiat or individual pleas, any more than we can muster the force to change the direction of a hurricane or tornado. We can only find the safest shelter possible, hope the storm doesn't do too much damage, give thanks for emerging in good … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:57 -0600 <![CDATA[ Madoff case shows warning clearly bears repeating ]]> Lead story image

Terry Savage: There is a certain fascination in watching the growing list of sophisticated investors who were taken in by the $50 billion investment fraud perpetrated by Bernie Madoff. Those scammed range from Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, of Hollywood fame, to some of the world's largest banks, like HSBC and Banco Santander. And it also includes hundreds of retirees and many charitable foundations, as well as the country club set in Palm Beach and New York. ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:57 -0600 <![CDATA[ AVOID THE FIRING SQUAD ]]> Lead story image

The employment news is grim. Companies are announcing mass layoffs. Your job could be next. It's a scary way to live for millions of Americans. Chicago-based employment attorney Laurel Bellows says there are things you can do to either prevent or postpone your firing -- or to increase your benefits package above what the company may be offering in its standard severance deal. Bellows advises that you take steps to make it less likely that you are the one being fired. In effect, make them choose someone else. **Listen to your inner voice: If your gut tells you you're at … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:57 -0600 <![CDATA[ Talk money with family ]]>

If you have family gathered round you today, this column will be important. But if you are alone on this holiday -- or know someone who is, by choice or by chance -- I entrust you with this important and serious task. In the midst of all the holiday cheer, or loneliness, lies the important fact that we are all connected to one another, in small ways and large. This is not a column about charitable giving,, although I presume that you've already made arrangements to share your money and your time with those less fortunate. Instead, this is a … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:57 -0600 <![CDATA[ LEGEND ENDS LONG RUN ]]>

Is it possible to make money in the stock market by holding stocks for the long run? Yes, and there's living proof. But the man who has done it for himself, his subscribers and his managed accounts is about to retire! At age 88, the legendary Chuck Allmon has announced he will discontinue the Growth Stock Outlook newsletter he has written since January 1965, though he will continue to advise $200 million in managed accounts. Allmon has always been a proponent of finding companies with good, growing businesses and sticking with them. That has led to an incredible track record … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:57 -0600 <![CDATA[ Fed cuts rates to fight recession, deflation ]]> Lead story image

Terry Savage: How low can interest rates go? We're about to find out. The Federal Reserve just cut its short term interest rate target from 1 percent down to a range of zero to .25 percent. Yes, that's correct. Short-term rates will now be pushed to their lowest level in history, in another attempt to jump-start the economy. The Fed signaled that it will also attempt to cut longer-term interest rates, typically set by the market. They'll be buying 10-year government bonds a move that will push bond prices up and yields down. Late Tuesday, many banks cut the prime rate from 4 percent to 3.25 percent. ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:56 -0600 <![CDATA[ Can world fix Humpty Dumpty markets? ]]> Lead story image

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again! As the stock market struggles to find a bottom, I'm reminded of that old nursery rhyme. Leaders of the world's industrialized countries are struggling to find a solution that will put the system together again. But the cracks are too great. What they should be working toward is a new global financial system, based on transparency of transactions and a centralized structure for matching and measuring freely made transactions. Until the global market participants can trust each other, the system … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:56 -0600 <![CDATA[ It's the thought that counts ]]>

We're approaching the holiday season amidst dire economic predictions and warnings about credit-card spending. Since we issued those warnings months, even years, ago, it seems more appropriate to take a positive approach toward seasonal gift giving. Even though your budget is stretched, and your finances are overextended, you still can give meaningful holiday gifts to those you care about. Where did we ever get the idea that "meaningful" is synonymous with expensive? It's time to redefine the spirit of gift giving, as well as the practice. And if you get your family and friends together this Thanksgiving weekend and agree … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:56 -0600 <![CDATA[ Picking a Medicare drug plan ]]> Lead story image

Here we go again. Starting today, seniors have six weeks to sign up for another year of Medicare Part D -- the prescription drug benefit -- that goes along with Medicare Part A (hospitalization), Part B (outpatient and doctor costs) and Medigap (the supplement that covers other costs including co-payments and deductibles). It's a must-do project, even if you're among the few seniors who don't currently take prescription drugs. If you don't sign up when you first become eligible, there will be big penalties to pay once you do need some prescriptions -- and for sure you will need them … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:56 -0600 <![CDATA[ Why the Wall Street nose-dive? ]]> Lead story image

The stock market is always right. Nonetheless, I must admit to being more than a little annoyed that the stock market greeted the election results with a two-day nose-dive of more than 929 points, the worst two-day performance since 1987. On Friday, the market staged a small rebound of 250 points. Still, the markets made their point. It smacked of Wall Street pique that President-elect Barack Obama appears to be no friend of "the Street." But the economic platform of our new president came as no surprise, so why the sell-off? Yes, he promised to tax capital gains at the … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:56 -0600 <![CDATA[ Demand for bullion soars ]]> Lead story image

Grab your wallet and stare closely at the money. What's it worth? It's worth whatever it will buy. But can you imagine a time when someone looks at your cash and really doesn't want it, because it "isn't worth the paper it's printed on?" That's what happens when a country "prints" or creates too much money. It loses value. The official name for that process is inflation. What's the alternative to paper? Gold. It's been the "hedge" against inflation ever since paper money was first created by governments. In recent weeks, the U.S. government has created billions and trillions of … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:56 -0600 <![CDATA[ 7 things you must understand about the global crisis ]]> Lead story image

The bad news just keeps coming - and despite all action by Congress, Treasury, the Fed, and now by central banks around the world, the markets shrug off the attempts to rescue the global economy. Once a selling panic is triggered, it's hard to lure money back into the markets. Since we've never seen anything quite like this, and since this is a new and very interconnected world, there are many questions, and few simple answers. 1. Why are stock markets around the world falling together? Global financial markets are instantly linked with both information and emotion. The United States … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:55 -0600 <![CDATA[ Gas price in free fall, but flip side of that is trouble ]]> Lead story image

Terry Savage: The world's stock and commodity markets are pricing in a global depression. That's the only way to understand the staggering declines not only in the major stock indexes Wednesday, but the greater percentage losses in commodities that are the raw materials of the industrial economies of the world. ]]> Thu, 24 Mar 2011 01:28:06 -0600 <![CDATA[ Dohmen makes the case for a worst-case scenario ]]> Lead story image

When everyone is telling you that this credit crisis could not have been predicted, you can point to one man who boldly -- and incredibly accurately -- told you exactly what was going to happen. His name is Bert Dohmen, publisher of The Wellington Letter for the past 30 years (, one of my all-time favorite newsletters. ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:08 -0600