Tag Archives: Economics

Has Gold Lost Its Luster?

Flickr/hto2008

Flickr/hto2008

Maybe beauty really is a commodity, because despite all its ups and downs as an investment, that’s one area where gold has always glittered. From the gold-dipped tombs of Ancient Egypt, to the coins and currency that were ferried across the oceans, to the simple wedding bands many of us wear today, people have loved this shiny element for centuries. And through that time, through good and bad, it has always symbolized power, wealth and permanency.

For the most part, that’s how many investors still view gold: as a hedge against inflation in the good times and a safe harbor in the bad. Perhaps most importantly they’ve seen it as something special, something whose value defies the laws that apply to other commodities and currencies alike. But when gold dropped to two-year lows this month, it left many analysts wondering whether this investment had finally lost its luster. Read more in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.com.

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The Secret Life of Money

It’s a reserve currency you can use almost anywhere in the world. There’s more than $1 trillion of it in circulation. An unimaginable amount of time, energy, resources and technology are employed to create, protect, transport and defend it.

Flickr/401(k) 2013

Flickr/401(k) 2013

We’re talking about American currency – the millions of crisp bank notes that roll off the presses every year and exchange hands across the country and the world. In 2012, the U.S. spent more than $700 million printing paper money. But that’s hardly all there is to the complex process of creating and distributing money. That money is packaged and shipped to Federal Reserve banks, then sent to commercial banks where it’s withdrawn by consumers, spent, returned to the banks and then shippedback to the Federal Reserve for storage…where it’s checked over, bill by bill, for damage and counterfeit.Wow!

In fact, behind each dollar bill is an amazingly complex system that we often take for granted.  In “Secret Life of Money”, a one-hour special to air on the Discovery Channel on March 30th, the whole system behind creating – and protecting – America’s currency is unraveled, from the presses that print the money to the armored cars that carry it to commercial banks, and everything in between.

We were curious about some of money’s little-known mysteries, so we talked to David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein, correspondents for NPR’s Planet Money and experts featured in the special, for their insight about currency, its value and its future. Check it out in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.com.

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Interest Rates Rising: Are You Living on the Edge?

Flickr/skittledog

Flickr/skittledog

Canada’s benchmark interest rate has been at 1 percent for more than two years and, as a result, a lot of Canadians have gotten pretty comfortable floating along on a cloud of cheap debt. Unfortunately, most economists agree that the air will go out of that cushy lifestyle – perhaps as early as this year – when interest rates rise. The problem is, most of us are just so darned comfy, we haven’t given much thought to what a rate increase could mean to our finances and financial well-being. In other words, many of us are living in a dream…and deliberately ignoring the fact that we may be drifting toward a serious financial wake-up call.

Are you living on the edge? Find out what areas of your financial life would be affected by an interest rate increase and what it could cost you in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.com.

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What the End of the Bush Tax Cuts Could Mean for Retirees’ Savings

Flickr/401(K) 2012

When the Bush tax cuts — formally known as the Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 — were implemented, Americans faced lower tax rates than any time since the 1970s. Now, they are set to expire at the end of 2012 — and it has everyone wondering what it will all mean for their finances.

Unfortunately, with the all the political debate (Did the cuts help the economy or hurt it? Will President Obama extend parts of them for another year? Who will be affected?) it’s hard to tell what the tax landscape will really look like in 2013. The possibility of change has one group especially worried: Retirees and those approaching retirement.

After the stock market crash and ongoing recession, this group has taken a major blow, and many of them can’t afford anything else that might put a drain on their savings. Check out some of the potential consequences for this group if the Bush tax cuts are repealed in my new post on GoBankingRates.com: http://bit.ly/S0FmIN

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Why It’s Time for the World to Get Out of Debt: Deleveraging Explained

Flickr/ToastyKen

We’re a nation of debtors. A survey released by BMO in June showed that the average Canadian household is more than $100,000 in debt, and most have ramped up borrowing over the past five years. With interest rates rising, many are scrambling for a way out.

The same thing happens on a macroeconomic scale in national and global economies. In fact, it’s going on right now in much of the world. It’s called deleveraging, and it happens when people, companies and governments hit a dead end in terms of borrowing and have to switch to paying it all back. So what does that mean for investors? As with all things economic, it’s a matter of some debate. Read more in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.ca: http://bit.ly/SeuO9r

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Inflation: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

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When people think of inflation, certain iconic images come to mind. Like schlepping wheelbarrows full of cash to the corner store to buy a loaf of bread; or even burning dollar bills, because they are worth less than fuel or firewood. Indeed, those things actually happened. Fortunately, inflation rates that extreme cause so much economic damage that they (thankfully) can’t last for long.

In most cases, inflation is much less dramatic, but alas, no less devastating. Canada’s inflation rate has averaged around 3 percent per year since 1915. So, while you probably won’t ever need a truck full of cash to shop for groceries, what you get for your money will continue to erode, slowly but surely, over time. The good news? You don’t have to stand by and let it happen. Read more in my latest article on GoldenGirlFinance.ca: http://bit.ly/MTciQJ

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