Blog: Inside Job: A Must-See Film About the Wall Street's Dubious Deals
Bob Larranaga "He that is of a greedy spirit stirreth up strife . . ." (Proverbs 28:5) Inside Job is a highly rated documentary that will have your insides churning as director Charles Ferguson exposes the questionable practices of the money mavens who brought the world to the brink of financial collapse. Now available through Netflix, this film is a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks that Wall Street has learned the error of its ways and that Washington's watchdogs are straining at the leash, ready to protect the public's interests.
Film maker Ferguson reveals that the current administration has elevated many of the film's characters to positions of high authority where they have helped to stonewall most legislative efforts to truly reform Wall Street. In Ferguson's view, we have the best government that money can buy. In scene after scene, the camera's unblinking lens focuses on close-up shots of squirming subjects. Using their own words, he exposes what appear to be conflicts of interest and self-serving deals by key players in the credit derivative swaps scandal.
In reviewing the film, New York Times called it a "story of crime without punishment." In fact, only one of the key figures in the financial scandal has been held accountable. Angelo Mozilo, chairman of the board of Countrywide Financial, recently settled an SEC fraud case for $67.5 million, small change for a man who earned $470 million between 2001 and 2006.
As Ferguson sees it, the complexities of modern finance cannot be reduced to a fool-proof formula. He may well be right. If so, we will continue to have financial bubbles so long as money managers can dodge the risks they take by gambling with other people's money in order to earn outlandish year-end bonuses.
Rule of Thumb
According to one local realtor, in today's market, it can take at least 20 home showings to close a sale. But all real estate is local so ask your broker how many showings it takes to make a sale.
Housing: Mortgage Rates Up, Home Sales Down On November 24, Freddie Mac announced that mortgage rates on a 30-year fixed rate loan Inched up to 4.4% from a decades low of just 4.15% two weeks ago. The rate on 15-year loans rose to 3.77%, up from 3.57% two weeks ago. The mortgage rate increase is tracking with rising yields on Treasuries as investors shift money out of bonds and into stocks in anticipation of a strengthening economy. . . . "Mortgage Rates" continues. See also "Housing Update" Shopping: Merry Thriftmas: Holiday Shopping on a Budget According to a survey by Rasmussen Reports, 58% percent of adults say they will spend less on gifts this holiday season. But whether you’re shopping at the local mall, online, or by phone or mail, you can stretch your holiday budget and make it a Merry Thriftmas. Here are ten tips that can help you save like the Dickens this year. 1. Make a list and check it twice. Decide how much you can afford to spend then make a list of the people you expect to give presents, the type of gifts you plan to buy, and how much you plan to spend on everything from the gifts, wrapping paper, greeting cards and holiday entertaining. Think twice about giving gift cards. If a store closes, its cards become worthless. Also, one-quarter of gift cards are not redeemed in the following year, according to Consumer Reports. 2. Shop online. Check out websites like PriceGrabber, PriceScan and CyberMonday that compare prices and send you alerts on specials. Shopping online not only gets you the best deal, but also saves you time and money on gas. If you buy from an online merchant, keep shipping costs and delivery time in mind . . . "Holiday Shopping" continues. Gift Cards: New Gift Cards Keep On Giving
Consumers spend $88 billion a year on gift cards with most of those purchases falling during the holiday season. The cards are a convenient way to make sure that the people on your gift list get what they truly want. But until recently the value of those gift cards was dinged by fees and expiration dates that left upwards of $5 billion in cards unredeemed. However, new federal regulations make sure those gift cards keep on giving. They require full disclosure of fees and expiration dates on the card packaging . . . "Gift Card Rules" continues. Banking: New Overdraft Rules for Debit Cards and ATM Cards
Debit cards and ATM cards combine purchasing power with shopping convenience. But many consumers have been hit by high transaction fees when they have overdrawn their accounts. Under the latest in a series of regulatory ruling by the Federal Reserve Board, your bank must now get your permission to apply its standard overdraft fees to debit card and ATM . . . "Debit Card Rules" continues. For a quick way to save on holiday shopping, click on the Sunday Coupon Preview.