January 27, 2013 |
As housing prices soared, Bill McBride sensed a lie. In 2005, the retired technology executive saw signs of the bubble everywhere. He chatted up a woman at his gym who had bought a home priced at 10 times her annual income. He heard "spiky-haired" young mortgage peddlers preaching that "any equity in your home is dead money. " And he read the data: How could homeownership hit record highs as household incomes stagnated? McBride founded his finance blog, Calculated Risk, to warn the world about a looming housing market collapse.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 22, 2013 |
Every time we learn something new about the molestation scandal in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, it becomes more obvious why Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and his minions have fought so tenaciously to keep things under wraps. Not to protect the privacy of victims or the rights of suspected abusers, as the church hierarchy has contended. But to hide the unconscionable deception by church leaders, who repeatedly did more to protect their own image than to help the victims of horrific crimes.
January 6, 2013 |
Are people, by nature, kind or rotten? This question has kept philosophers, theologians, social scientists and writers busy for millenniums. A vote for our basic rottenness comes from scholars such as Steven Pinker of Harvard, who has documented how it is the regulating forces of society, rather than human nature, that have brought a decline in human violence over the centuries. A vote for our basic decency comes, surprisingly, from work by primatologists such as Frans de Waal of Emory University, who have observed that other primates display the basics of altruism, reciprocity, empathy and a sense of justice.
December 19, 2012
Conservatives argue that Washington never cuts programs, it just increases spending on them more slowly than planned. But to recipients of federal benefits, that type of "cut" can seem just as painful. That's why there is an intense battle looming over a proposal to reduce the cost-of-living adjustments applied to numerous federal programs, including Social Security. The change is billed as a more accurate way to calculate the effects of inflation, but it's really just a way to make Washington's financial picture marginally brighter.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 24, 2012 |
SACRAMENTO - At the heart of Proposition 39 is a way to recoup $1 billion the state gave up in tax breaks for Silicon Valley companies and other big California corporations as part of a back-room deal. But the measure isn't aimed at those businesses. A late-night pact three years ago allowed firms to choose between two ways of computing their state income tax. Not surprisingly, they have opted for the lower result. Proposition 39 would eliminate that choice, taxing all businesses with a single formula and returning $1 billion to the state.
September 29, 2012
DAMASCUS, Syria - When shop owners and customers saw the small group of armed men appear on the street, they ran the other way or headed indoors. "Go, go," said one shopper, holding several bags as he ducked into an alley. "Go back, they're going to start fighting. " The tiny band of Free Syrian Army rebel fighters had decided to attack a nearby checkpoint, a rudimentary barrier of sandbags manned by a few government troops on a street lined with convenience stores, pharmacies and vegetable sellers.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 27, 2012 |
California's key measure of public school quality will be redefined to lessen the impact of standardized test scores under a bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown. The law, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), will broaden how the Academic Performance Index is calculated by limiting test scores to 60% for high schools and including graduation rates and other factors. The 1,000-point index, which is currently based entirely on student test scores, has been criticized as an inaccurate gauge of campus quality even as it is widely used by parents to choose schools and real estate agents to sell homes.
September 21, 2012 |
Arguing that it was unseemly for the federal government to be a major investor, The Times' editorial board urged the Obama administration Friday to stop waiting for General Motors stock to climb and to start selling the government's remaining stake in the automaker. It's clear that taxpayers would lose billions of dollars if Washington unloaded its GM stock now; just how large the loss would be, however, depends on how you look at the initial loans. The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program has a simple way of calculating how much the taxpayers have gained or lost on TARP loans: It looks mainly at the amount of the loan and the dollars of principal repaid.
September 12, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - The financial crisis and the Great Recession have taken a heavy toll on the U.S., and now one public interest group said it has calculated that cost: at least $12.8 trillion. The estimate from Better Markets, which supports tougher financial regulations, came in a 72-page report released Wednesday, just days before the four-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Bros. That failure triggered the crisis, which dramatically exacerbated the recession that began in late 2007.
September 9, 2012 |
Dear Liz: You write about it not being a good idea in many cases to pay off your mortgage, but does it make sense to do so to reduce savings so that we can be in a better position to help our high school junior get financial aid for college in a year? We also have a 529 and some investments and are savers. Answer: Your income matters far more to financial aid calculations than your savings, said Lynn O'Shaughnessy, author of "The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price (2nd Edition)