Post Updates #2

Sep 28, 2012 by

There have been developments and new information on several topics I’ve written about this year.

Timebanking

Back in April I wrote “Save with Timebanking” about a cool way to save money by swapping chores and services with others in a timebank organization. The Center for a New American Dream is presenting a free webinar on October 11 titled “How to Start a Time Bank and Skill Exchange.” Guest speakers lined up include:

  • Mashi Blech – Director, Community Connections TimeBank, Visiting Nurse Service of NY (New York, NY)
  • Janine Christiano – Founder, Arroyo Time Bank/Co-Director, Arroyo SECO (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Mira Luna – Founder, Bay Area Community Exchange (San Francisco, CA)

To learn more and register for this free webinar, click here.

High-Frequency Trading

One of the points I made in “Why I’m Wary of Stocks” is the rise of high-frequency trading. Congress is at last investigating this rip-off of individual investors and disaster waiting to happen. Here’s former Wall Street insider, now whistle blower, Haim Bodek discussing high-frequency trading. (Sorry for the obnoxious 15-second introductory commercial.)

New FICO Mortgage Score

My post “New FICO Mortgage Score” outlined the specifics of a just-announced credit score developed by Fair Isaac Corporation to market to the mortgage lender industry. In an article fetchingly titled “How Mowing Your Lawn Could Affect Your New FICO Score,” US News & World Report freelancer and blogger at My Family Finances JP discusses some of the implications of the FICO Mortgage Score and what’s behind the number.

LIBOR Scandal

Investigation of the LIBOR rate-rigging scandal is underway and dominates the business pages in the U.K., where the scandal’s epicenter likely lies. Check this dedicated Guardian page to learn everything you may want to know about the topic.

One interesting tidbit: Instant messages from a Royal Bank of Scotland trader as he worked to manipulate LIBOR reveal a rather cavalier attitude about the possibly illegal activity. Here are examples, as reported by The Guardian:

In April 2008 the trader sent an instant message to a number of traders, saying: “Nice Libor … Our-six month fixing moved the entire fixing hahahah.”

In an earlier message to colleagues and traders at other banks, including Deutsche Bank, the RBS trader writes: “It’s just amazing how Libor fixing can make you that much money or lose if opposite … It’s a cartel now in London.”

“What’s the call on Libor,” one Singapore trader asked a London-based trader in a August 2007 chat.

“Where would you like it, Libor that is,” the London end replied.

“Mixed feelings, but mostly I’d like it all lower so the world starts to make a little sense,” another trader responded.

“The whole HF world will be kissing you instead of calling me if Libor move lower,” the RBS trader said, referring to hedge funds.

“OK, I will move the curve down 1 basis point, maybe more if I can,” the London man replied.

Time to Buy a House

In June I asked whether it’s “Time to Buy a House,” and published this mortgage rate historical graph.

Chart of 30-Year mortgage rates

Mortgage rates remain extremely low—the 30-year fixed rate U.S. national average is today 3.55%—and it appears the housing market is turning around. After falling through the first several months of 2012, the Case-Shiller 20-city price index is now up 5.9% year-to-date. Of course real estate value trends are highly location dependent, but if you’ve been waiting to buy until prices hit bottom, the time may be now.

Facebook

In May I wrote “Facebook IPO: Not for Me.” I think I made a good call on this one (and I had lots of company). The current FB price = $20.67 per share, down about 45% from the IPO price.

Real Estate Dilemma

Finally, you may have read of my friend Tom’s “Real Estate Dilemma.” Tom has put the property in question back on the market at $20,000 more than he paid for it a short time ago. He says there’s a “mini-boom” going on in the city where he lives, and he invested about $4,000 in improvements. Once the property is sold, he plans to calculate damages and, if there are any, insist his former realtor make him whole.

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