Atlanta Great Choice !

The Economist: Atlanta among least expensive cities to live

A new report by The Economist that ranks the world’s most expensive cities in the world finds that Atlanta is among the least expensive.

The Worldwide Cost of Living survey is conducted twice each year by the publication’s “Economist Intelligence Unit.” The survey compares more than 400 prices on 160 products and services that include: food, clothing, household supplies, personal care items, home rents, transport, utility bills, private schools, domestic help and recreational cost.

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Vanguard’s Economic Week in Review

Economic Week in Review: Navigating through choppy waters

JULY 18, 2014

The financial markets had many factors to absorb this week, including Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, clashes in the Middle East, and the downing of a Malaysian airliner in Ukraine. U.S. economic data were mixed—the Fed’s Beige Book indicated modest growth throughout the country while housing starts dropped more than 9% in June.

For the week ended July 18, 2014, the S&P 500 Index was up 0.5% to 1,978 (for a year-to-date total return—including price change plus dividends—of about 8%). The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 3 basis points for the week to 2.50%, for a year-to-date decrease of 54 basis points.

Housing starts sink

Construction of new homes dropped 9.3% in June, the weakest showing since September 2013. Housing sectors in the South were the hardest hit, as a record 30% decline was attributed to unusually heavy rain that threw a wet blanket on permits and construction. However, there were a few bright spots. Permits for single-family homes were up for the last two months and overall housing starts still were up 7.5% from a year ago.

Analysts are said to be looking for July’s results to determine if June’s showing is a trend or an aberration. The results also will be closely watched by Federal Reserve officials, who look to the housing market as an indicator of economic growth when considering monetary policy. Continue reading

VANGUARD: Fall finale set for Fed’s bond-buying !

VANGUARD’S Economic Week in Review: Fall finale set for Fed’s bond-buying program

JULY 11, 2014

Federal Reserve officials this week indicated that they will most likely end their bond-buying program by October, provided the U.S. economy continues to improve as anticipated. While the Fed has been winding down its economic stimulus program for several months, newly released minutes from the central bankers’ June meeting mark the first time an end date has been set.

Minutes show Fed officials concerned about low market volatility

The Fed has reduced its bond-buying to $35 billion per month, which is down from its high of $85 billion per month. The bank outlined a plan to reduce its bond-buying in increments around its next three policy meetings, likely ending at its October meeting with a $15 billion reduction, depending on economic conditions.

As for short-term interest rates, which have been near zero since late 2008, Fed officials said any future increases would also depend on evolving economic conditions. The minutes also outlined new tools for implementing monetary policy, namely the ability to pay interest on excess reserves and overnight reverse repurchase agreements. As the impact of these tools becomes clearer, they will likely be used to influence the federal funds rate once the policy rate is lifted.

“Although the Fed may be signaling an October end to tapering,” said Vanguard economic analyst Ravi Tolani, “Fed officials have indicated that the fed funds rate will remain near zero for a considerable time after asset purchases end, especially if inflation remains below the 2% target. That said, the minutes indicated that should economic conditions evolve as expected, the Fed may be inclined to raise the policy rate sooner than previously expected.” Continue reading

Obamacare projected to kill at least 146K jobs, raise rates

Quoted from the Atlanta Business Chronicle:
Apr 3, 2014, 6:51am EDT Updated: Apr 3, 2014, 9:37am EDT

Home Depot’s Marcus: Obamacare projected to kill at least 146K jobs, raise rates

Bernie Marcus BS1

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Bernie Marcus

Carla Caldwell, Morning Edition Editor

The Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus says many of the Affordable Care Act’s most damaging aspects are still to come and are projected to kill at least 146,000 jobs and force millions of Americans who kept their health insurance to pay much higher premiums.

In an editorial published this week in The Wall Street Journal, Marcus says, “President Obama’s promise that Americans could keep their health insurance if they liked it was the most infamous of the Affordable Care Act’s sketchy sales pitches. But many of the law’s most damaging aspects are less known, buried in thousands of pages of regulations.”

Says Marcus, “Consider the ‘fee’ – really a hidden sales tax – that all health-insurance companies have been forced to pay since the first of this year on premiums for policies sold to individuals and small and medium-size businesses.”

Marcus adds that the “health-insurance tax – known as HIT in business circles” is expected to generate revenues of about $8 billion this year and as much as $14.3 billion by 2018, according to the legislation.

He said the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation predict that insurance companies will pass the cost on to customers. “In other words,” says Marcus, “millions of Americans lucky enough to keep their current health insurance under ObamaCare will be paying much higher premiums because of this tax, with the added cost rippling through the economy and stifling job creation.”

Marcus writes, “The National Federation of Independent Businesses projects the health-insurance tax will add an additional $475 per year for the average individually purchased family policy – nearly $5,000 over the course of a decade. Small businesses will take an even bigger hit, with the cost of an employer-provided family policy rising a projected $6,800 in the next decade.”

Home Depot’s Bernie Marcus: America to get very hurt by Obamacare

Home Depot’s Bernie Marcus: America to get very hurt by Obamacare

Bernie Marcus

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Bernie Marcus

 Jan 9, 2014, 6:38am EST UPDATED: Jan 9, 2014, 10:55am EST

Home Depot’s Bernie Marcus: America to get very hurt by Obamacare

Carla Caldwell, Morning Edition Editor

The Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcussays America hasn’t seen anything yet when it comes to the problems and additional costs Obamacare is going to deliver to middle-class America.

In an interview Wednesday with Fox News’Neil Cavuto that included questions about the Affordable Care Act, Marcus said, “Well, Neil, it’s just the beginning. Now you have to remember that the mandate, they put off the big companies until 2015, supposed to come in 2014 with everybody else. So you haven’t really seen it hit. And I speak to a lot of business owners and small businesses especially, people who have 100, 200, 300, 400 people working for them.”

Marcus said business people tell him they are studying Obamacare and can’t say if they are going to stop carrying insurance on employees, or if they are going to put more people into part-time jobs.

Marcus added, “Neil, you haven’t seen anything yet. And what you are going to see in January of 2015, right after the elections are over, boy, the Democrats look beautiful on this one. It is politics as usual. They have put off this thing because America is going to be hit so hard.

“All of middle-class America is going to get very, very hurt, very, very hurt by this. Because that is where it is going to come out. So if you are somebody working for a living, and you have been doing this for a number of years and your employer has been covering you and paying the premium for you, you are going to end up in two ways – No. 1 you are going to end up with very little insurance and you are going to end up with very, very high co-pays, and you are going to end up with just a mess on your hands.”

Glad tidings cheer markets

The last full week of 2013 was marked by an upbeat tone as the latest economic data exceeded expectations and major U.S. stock market indexes hit all-time highs. The advance for stocks came as investors digested big news from the previous week, which had lifted some uncertainty regarding fiscal and monetary policy. The Federal Reserve announced on December 18 that it will begin trimming its bond buying in January while keeping short-term interest rates low for longer than previously indicated. Congress also passed a budget deal that sets federal government spending levels into 2015.

VANGUARD’s WEEK IN REVIEW – ECONOMIC UPDATE

Here is what Vanguard has to say, which makes me think that interest rates may start going up and that Real Estate may start picking up. Good news for the Housing Market!?

“The bulk of data released this week indicated that the economy is improving. They included a fourth month of solid job numbers, a large upward revision to the most recent GDP figure, further signs of strength in manufacturing and housing, and a pickup in exports.
“The Federal Reserve will be weighing whether recent improvements, especially in the job market, are enough to warrant any tapering of its $85-billion-a-month stimulative bond-buying program. Its next meeting is scheduled for December 17–18.