A no- or low-money-down mortgage is dangerous for the borrower, the lender, and, if enough of these loans are made, for the economy as a whole.
I really thought it would take longer than this.
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am generally skeptical of the proposition that we will learn much of anything from the Great Recession. My assumption has long been that given five or 10 years we will be the same bunch of ignorant fools we always were, doing the same foolish things.
But I did think that in the shorter term -- this year and next -- some of the more obviously foolish stuff would be avoided. I didn't think anybody would be willing to invest in GM in 2010. And I didn't think that anybody would be discussing taking out new no-money-down mortgages anytime soon. I was wrong on both counts. Post continues after video.
Should we let all of the tax cuts sunset, or just part of them? Or should we keep them in place?
No matter what you think about President Obama, you have to appreciate the sheer amount of work he's managed to get Congress to do in the few years he's been in office. Whether or not they're the right things to do will remain to be seen. But one topic that is sure to take center stage within the next few months, if not weeks, is what we should be doing about the soon-to-be-expiring Bush-era tax cuts.
A little history for those of us who weren't paying taxes before 2001 (that includes myself, at least on any meaningful level):
Company uses scratch-and-sniff to educate about the dangers of natural-gas leaks.
Scratch-and-sniff is usually associated with pleasing scents: men's cologne, women's perfume, new-car smell.
Not so with this month's bills from Puget Sound Energy, serving 1 million-plus customers in Washington state. A pamphlet (.pdf file) accompanying the bill is infused with the odor of rotten eggs. Scratch the pamphlet and you'll know what a natural-gas leak smells like. When you smell that smell, it's time to leave the house. Right. Now.
Some found the smelly pamphlet humorous.
Rogue app allows hackers to post spam on Facebook pages.
If you're offered a chance to install a "dislike" button on your Facebook page, ignore it. It's part of a phishing scam.
The idea behind the "dislike" button is to allow users to flag comments they don't like. Facebook has a like button but not a dislike button, and says it has no plans to add one.
New Outlook plug-in attempts to keep inappropriate emotion out of our online missives. But can it overcome human stupidity?
It's happened to us all. An e-mail we thought was perfectly clear and straightforward was taken by the recipient the wrong way. Perhaps he was offended, angered or thought we were making fun of him. And all we wanted was to make sure he knew the meeting was at 9 a.m., not 10 a.m., and he needed to be there on time.
A new software program wants to save us from ourselves. ToneCheck is a plug-in that works with Microsoft Outlook and was created by the Canadian company Lymbix. Once installed, it will check your messages for inappropriate emotion, giving you an opportunity to reword your missives before you hit "send."
Lymbix CEO Matt Eldridge came up with the program after he found that his e-mail sales pitches fell flat, he told ABC News' Ki Mae Heussner: "I thought to myself, there's a spell check, there's a grammar check. There must be a check I can download into my Outlook to check my tone."
Make more money without leaving a bad taste in your boss's mouth.
Ready to make more money? As I've written before, getting a bigger salary matters more than your asset allocation. It matters more than avoiding ATM fees. Heck, it matters more than your savings rate. If you can get a 20% bump today, you put yourself on the path to a huge difference in wealth 20 years down the road.
And the benefits just multiply. As you negotiate for raises, you'll get better at it. You'll get better in other kinds of negotiations too. Worst-case scenario: You get shot down. But if you don't ask, the answer will always be "no."
- Video: What's next for the Fed?
In Part One of this two-part series, I explained why "now" is a great time to ask for a raise. The economic environment is bad, but not so much that you've lost all negotiating power.
However, let's not abandon tact. Getting a raise is a lot different from negotiating a job offer.
What's the fastest way to pump up a credit score? I asked the company that invented credit scoring for their three best ideas.
You're planning to buy a house in a few months and want to do everything possible to raise your credit score before you apply for a mortgage. What are the three most important things you can do today for a higher credit score tomorrow?
Where you rent is increasingly about what technology you use.
Choosing where to rent movies may soon depend in part on what gadgets you own (basic DVD player excluded).
Over the last year, electronics manufacturers, content providers and rental companies have made a number of partnerships that give consumers more viewing options. TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles and cell phones, among other devices, today have the ability to download and play movies, or stream them online.
"The choices are almost dizzying now," says Andrew Eisner, director of content for electronics review site Retrevo.com.
The selection is expanding rapidly, too.
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