Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ SEC makes Goldman poster child of greed ]]> Lead story image

It is absolutely disgusting. If Goldman Sachs is guilty of the charges brought by the SEC, these greedy pigs deserve every fine and loss of stock value that the government and the markets mete out to them. But America does not deserve this fate, nor do the innocent employees of the company who will be brought down as this once iconic and always egotistical firm is pilloried. Although Goldman says it will vigorously defend the suit, the battle will bare publicly the ways in which Wall Street -- and Goldman, which has become a proxy for Wall Street -- helped … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:01 -0600 <![CDATA[ High-tech solutions needed to avert panic ]]> Lead story image

Last week's market "glitch" was shocking to behold in real time. As it happened, I was in the boardroom of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange when the slide started. The huge room is equipped with screens that can be viewed from every seat around the table, and all eyes turned to the screens as the numbers changed quickly in red. (Full disclosure: I am a director of CME Group -- but my commentaries do not speak for the company and I have no non-public information on what caused Thursday's strange events. CME Group issued a statement Friday morning, saying that both … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:42 -0600 <![CDATA[ ILLINOIS, FEDERAL HEALTH LAWS DIFFER ]]> Lead story image

Q. You recently wrote about the Health Care Reform Act that will require employers to cover children up to age 26. But don't we already have that law in Illinois? A. Thanks to you and many readers who pointed out that Illinois did pass Young Adult Dependent Coverage as part of a bill that went into effect on June 1, 2009. That state law requires all individual and group health insurance, and HMO contracts that offer coverage to dependent children to extend that coverage for qualifying dependents up to age 26 (and up to age 30 for military veteran dependents). … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:42 -0600 <![CDATA[ Insurance covers all? Don't bet on it ]]> Lead story image

We all know that what you don't know can hurt you. But what most don't consider is that what we don't insure can devastate you. Three years ago, I wrote about a MetLife survey that revealed what people don't know about their insurance coverage. Now, MetLife Auto & Home is just releasing an update on that survey. Sadly, the combination of ignorance and recession has made the situation even worse. There's always an excuse for not having enough insurance, whether it's on your health, your life, your car or your home. In these tough times, many say that it's simply … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:41 -0600 <![CDATA[ Weigh the good and bad before converting Roth IRA ]]>

I've been going back and forth about converting an IRA to a Roth this year. What do you think? A. I've written about this special opportunity to convert a traditional IRA to an after-tax Roth IRA this year, regardless of your income level. (Until this year, conversions could only be done if your modified adjusted income was under $100,000.) But if you do a conversion in 2010, there is no income limit. That's the good news: You can roll your traditional, pre-tax IRA into a Roth IRA that will grow completely tax free when you withdraw it in the future. … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:41 -0600 <![CDATA[ Grads need sound plan to repay student loans ]]> Lead story image

Millions of college graduates are about to ask this question: Was it worth it? And it's a question that students just entering college should be asking as they start looking at taking out student loans to finance their college degree. It's not the education, or the college experience that's the issue. It's how you will repay those student loans. Today's college graduates enter a job market that has few jobs available. Yet, within months of graduation, they must work out a plan to repay the loans that made their degree possible. Those loans now look like the worst deal they … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:01 -0600 <![CDATA[ GOOD NEWS FOR HOMEOWNERS STILL HANGING IN THERE ]]> Lead story image

Q. Is there any hope to refinance my high- rate mortgage if my home has fallen in value? I keep making the payments on time, but it seems ridiculous that banks won't help you unless you fall months behind in payments. I don't want to lose my good credit, and I don't want to default. I just want to take advantage of lower interest rates -- even though I have very little equity left in my home although I originally put 20 percent down when I bought it five years ago! A. Yours is a common lament. As I wrote … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:41 -0600 <![CDATA[ The waiting game ]]>

The economy is waiting. We are all waiting, and hoping. Banks are waiting to lend. Businesses are waiting to borrow. Consumers are waiting to spend. And home buyers are waiting to make an offer. Unemployed workers are waiting for jobs to come back. Bosses are waiting to hire. Troubled homeowners are waiting for either foreclosure notices or modification help. And meanwhile the economy is basically in a standoff, according to a series of reports released Thursday. Unemployment: The latest economic figures released Thursday bear out that scenario. New claims for unemployment dropped slightly, giving hope that the job picture is … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:40 -0600 <![CDATA[ The value of money has lost its meaning ]]> Lead story image

It all adds up. That was the point made by our own Illinois senator, the legendary Everett Dirksen, back in 1951 when he is said to have exclaimed: "A billion here, a billion there, it all adds up!" Now, more than half a century later, we're talking equally casually about TRILLIONS of dollars. As I scrolled through the legendary wit of Dirksen at, another of his sayings caught my eye: "We are becoming so accustomed to millions and billions of dollars that ''thousands'' has almost passed out of the dictionary." That was in January 1964. Today, the word "billion" … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:40 -0600 <![CDATA[ Some lenders offer reward for owners who stick it out ]]>

For a homeowner who could pay the monthly bill but is thinking about walking away from the mortgage because the property is now worth less than the loan, is there any way to create an incentive to hang in there? Yes, there is a reward that could change this trend of strategic defaults, according to some behavioral psychologists and economists who have partnered with a financial services firm. The lender could provide a solid financial "reward" for sticking around and not defaulting on a mortgage. The solution is outlined at The acronym stands for "Responsible Homeowner Reward." It is … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:40 -0600 <![CDATA[ Cash crisis? First figure out exactly where you stand ]]>

I have recently received so many questions related to dealing with a personal financial crisis that I thought I would answer a few at once, giving you my best ideas for prioritizing your finances when you lose your job. In general, the most important thing is to immediately figure out your situation, and all the possible alternatives if your lack of income continues more than a few months. I realize that's asking a lot of you -- to be rational and realistic while in the midst of an emotional crisis. But good counseling and an open, honest relationship with adult … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:13:57 -0600 <![CDATA[ Currency battles cheapen dollar, deepen fiscal hole ]]> Lead story image

Global finance ministers, including Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, met in South Korea over the weekend to discuss exchange rates. And they promised they wouldn't create a currency war that could lead to a global trade war. That promise won't be easy to keep. It's estimated that the recent decline in the U.S. dollar will add half a percent to our annual growth rate, as the weak dollar makes our exports more attractive to foreign buyers. That's the one plus of creating "too many" dollars, and weakening our currency. But there is a downside. No country ever made itself more powerful … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:40 -0600 <![CDATA[ Stocks on rise, but so is inflation ]]> Lead story image

What are the markets telling you when stocks make new highs and gold soars $55 an ounce to $1,393? On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 219.71 points, 2 percent, to close at 11,434.84 -- a two-year high. The markets are saying that the "smart money" is betting that inflation is on the way -- in spite of the Fed's worry about a slowing economy, and in spite of weak jobs numbers, and in spite of the continued housing slump. Many people think that inflation is an economic force when it really is a monetary problem: too much money … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:39 -0600 <![CDATA[ Congress has big tax decisions to make before Jan. 1 ]]> Lead story image

The election is over, and the tax tea leaves are murky. Surely the lame-duck session of Congress, which begins Nov. 15, will do something about income taxes, and possibly the estate tax. Even without a crystal ball, here are a few financial moves you should be considering before year-end. If you wait until everyone figures out the right moves, financial services providers will be jammed. Taxes The lame-duck session of Congress, still controlled by Democrats, is likely to vote on an extension of the current tax rates for most people. They know that if nothing is done, there will be … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:39 -0600 <![CDATA[ Cost of long term coverage rising, but it's still good deal ]]> Lead story image

Stop what you're doing, and answer this question: Will you care for your parents -- and your in-laws -- in their old age? Will you invite them into your home, to use the bedroom your college kid just vacated, and will you provide them with help dressing and bathing? Or let's reverse the situation: Who will care for you in your old age? Will your children invite you into their home and help you shower and take you to your doctors' appointments? Think about it -- because one way or another, we're all going to be faced with this problem. … ]]> Fri, 03 May 2013 12:14:39 -0600