‘Boring’ High-Quality Bonds and Why You Need Them

Between mid-September and mid-October, the S&P 500 average sank nearly 150 points, or about 7.4 percent. Many investment pundits now suggest stocks are quite risky and the next great Bear Market could be coming. Suddenly bonds, previously shunned by many investment advisers, are looking more appealing. To better understand how high-quality bonds and bond funds act as a portfolio’s shock absorber during market volatility, let’s go back to the very painful period that ended on March 9, 2009. The stock market had plunged well …

Will Interest Rates Rise Next Year? And Should You Care?

When interest rates rise, the value of bonds declines. Many experts are sure that rates will increase next year, but should you worry about that? Why are experts convinced that rates will rise next year? For one, the Federal Reserve announced last week that it will start raising the federal funds rate next year from the near-zero rate of today. The Fed is also tapering quantitative easing, meaning that it’s buying back its own longer-term bonds at a much slower pace …

Regulator Seeks Greater Oversight of Auto Financing

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to extend its oversight to large nonbank auto-finance companies to make sure they are not discriminating against consumers. The CFPB announced today its proposed rule to expand its supervision to these companies, which would include the finance arms of auto manufacturers. “Nonbank auto-finance companies extend hundreds of billions of dollars in credit to American consumers, yet they have never been supervised at the federal level,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. “Today’s proposal …

Payday Lender Ordered to Pay $10 Million Over Collection Practices

Ace Cash Express, one of the nation’s largest payday lenders, has agreed to pay a $10 million settlement over its collection practices. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said that Ace, based in Irving, Tex., must refund $5 million to customers who fell victim to such practices from March 2011 to September 2012; it must also pay a $5 million civil penalty. Payday loans are taken out by people who need quick cash between paychecks. Companies such as Ace Cash Express have been known …

Getting a Student Loan? Your Interest Rate Just Went Up

Starting today, parents and college students will be paying more for federal education loans. Interest rates on new federal loans are adjusted every July, and this year’s rates are slightly higher than those for loans issued in the previous 12 months. The rate on Stafford loans for undergraduates is now 4.66 percent, up from 3.89 percent. Parents and graduate students now will pay a rate of 7.21 percent for PLUS loans, compared with 6.41 percent previously. These rates are fixed …

Interest Rates Are Low Until You Do the Math

I often hear that interest rates are awful and that it’s the worst time ever for retirees needing to live on fixed income. Yet when you look at after-tax, inflation-adjusted returns, a different picture emerges. Many people smile when I tell them that back in 1980 they could have earned 12 percent on a 10-year U.S. Treasury or certificate of deposit (CD). Depositing $10,000 would have returned $1,200 a year. But if a third went to taxes, that gain would …