Just when things started to look up again amidst the backdrop of a historic presidential election, the economy reminded us that it stops for no one and readings that came over the week from manufacturing to retail to unemployment show that 2009 is looking very bleak indeed. The graphic below from the WSJ shows the worsening job situation, where the unemployment rate rose to a 14-year high of 6.5%. Economists think the jobless rate, which was below 5% as recently as April, could approach 7.5% or 8% in coming months. If you are working make sure you over perform, increase your emergency funds and be prepared in the event of an unexpected layoff (see some tips here). With the faltering economy and anemic consumer demand, a new round of stimulus payments is all but guaranteed. The question as I discussed recently is when will the next economic stimulus payment be made (the reader poll suggests Dec/Jan).
I also had a couple of posts this week where I vented my frustrations at unwarranted airline fuel surcharges and mechanics/auto-repairer’s that over sell and rip you off. It was good to be able to express my thoughts and hopefully some of the tips I provided will save readers some hassles and money. In terms of investments, I discussed a recent semi-speculative options play on the Yahoo-Google-Microsoft takeover/merger triangle. Recent comments by Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer against the deal have crushed Yahoo’s stock price, but I still hold out hope that some kind of deal will get done sooner rather than later because Microsoft needs Yahoo’s search technology to effectively compete with Google.
It was a busy time for me this week, appearing in 4 money related blog events. The Carnival of Personal Finance (@ The Sun’s Financial Diary – where my submission was an editor’s pick), the Festival of Frugality (@ Bargain Briana), the Money Hacks Carnival (@ Living Almost Large) and finally but by no means the least the Carnival of Taxes (@ Don’t Mess with Taxes). Thanks to all the hosts for including my articles. A couple of posts, including Health insurance 101, were featured on leading money blog MSN Smart money this week. Here are some other posts that caught my eye this week:
– Fire Finance updated the Top 100 Personal Finance Blogs list he maintains and yours truly came in at number 25, up a nice 32 since the last run. You can slice and dice ranking lists how you want them, but this is one of the more quantitative lists out there so nice to be moving in the right direction. Thanks to Fire Finance for compiling this list, which I am sure takes a lot of time and effort.
– Money, Matter and More Musings looks at the Socialist/Capitalist divide when it comes to wealth.
– Canadian Capitalist writes about investors stampeding out of the stock market. I am still holding on, but the instinct to flee is strong.
– Moneyning writes a great post on lessons his parents taught him about personal finance. Teaching kids about finance and investing early on will make them much better money managers in the future.
Over the last few weeks I have been reading Snowball, a biography on Warren Buffet. I received it as a gift (thanks RR) and given the subject matter and my interest in investing it was something I really enjoyed. Overall I think the book provides a good view on Buffet’s personal life (didn’t realize he was so emotionally insecure) and his ascent to the top echelons of the business world. Because it contains real interviews with Warren Buffet and his friends/family, the book feels more authentic and validates the information you are reading. My only complaint was that it made Warren Buffet’s success look too easy (when I am su
re it took a lot of hard work) and that unless you are a whiz with numbers it can be hard to achieve success when it comes to investing. Still, a great read and for around $20 it is a great gift idea. If you are have kids showing an interest in stocks and investing this could be a great motivational story for them.