Posts Tagged ‘Cnn’

Economic Woes

November 7, 2008

Forecast 2009: Your savings and credit

The prediction: Continued low interest rates on savings – but slightly easier credit


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By Ismat Sarah Mangla, Money Magazine staff reporter


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Where your rates are headed in 2009
Interest you’ll earn on savings will likely be a bit lower…
Bank money-market deposit accounts
0.7%
Money-Market funds (taxable)
1.5%
One-year CDs
2.6%
…but you’ll pay lower rates on most of what you borrow.
New-car loans
6.8%
Home-equity loans
8.3%
Credit cards
13.5%
Note: Rates are 2009 projections.
Source:Money Magazine estimates, CardRatings.com, Crane Data, HSH Associates

Bankrate.com
Type Overall avgs
wrtBankRateLinkCdMma(‘mma’);MMA 2.44%
wrtBankRateLinkCdMma(‘mma10k’);$10K MMA 2.73%
wrtBankRateLinkCdMma(‘cd6mo’);6 month CD 3.03%
wrtBankRateLinkCdMma(‘cd1yr’);1 yr CD 3.50%
wrtBankRateLinkCdMma(‘cd5yr’);5 yr CD 3.89%
Find personalized rates:

(Money Magazine) — The good news: The government bailout plan that injects banks with capital will “help make credit somewhat easier to get” in 2009, says Mesirow Financial’s Diane Swonk.

The bad news: The difference likely won’t be dramatic. So don’t expect tough rules for getting the best interest-rate deals and the highest credit limits to ease up next year.

As for interest rates, the federal funds rate has dropped to 1%. That’s likely to slightly lower average yields on savings accounts, money-market funds and certificates of deposit.

On the bright side, the best rates available on credit cards and car loans are likely to fall a bit too (see the chart to the right). The exception: rates on home-equity loans (vs. lines of credit). HSH Associates projects them to rise from 7.9% to 8.3%.

In order to pay the bigger insurance premiums they now face, many banks will increase the fees they charge you for things like overdrafts and ATM withdrawals, predicts economist Mike Moebs of research firm Moebs Services.

By the way, more banks will almost certainly fail next year. Those most at risk are smaller ones that don’t benefit from the bailout, say experts.

The wild card
  • Consumer distress

Overwhelmed by mortgage and credit-card debt, Americans could default in droves. That could make banks even more skittish about lending.

The action plan
  • Check your coverage

No matter how shaky your bank is, remember that so long as your deposits are FDIC-insured (the new limit is typically $250,000 per institution), you’re protected.

To check, use the Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator at myFDICinsurance.gov.

  • Shop for the best bank deals

Just because average rates on savings will be low next year doesn’t mean some places won’t offer slightly better ones.

Top-yielding savings and money-market deposit accounts provide returns that should almost keep up with inflation. GMAC Bank, for example, recently offered 3.75% on a savings account.

To find the best rates – and check for the lowest bank fees while you’re at it – click on the Bankrate.com rate finder to the right.

  • Nab a good credit-card deal now

With more stringent regulation likely on its way and conditions tighter for lenders all around, dazzling offers like low-balance transfer rates for the life of the loan will all but disappear in 2009, says CardRatings.com founder Curtis Arnold. “Take advantage of those while they’re still around,” he advises.

  • Shore up your credit

If you plan to borrow next year, see “Improve Your Credit Score.

From: CNN Business

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Election news

November 3, 2008

Palin costing McCain, poll suggests

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: McCain would do better if vice presidential vote was separate, poll suggests
  • NEW: Fifty-three percent say Palin doesn’t agree with them on important issues
  • McCain warns an Obama win could give Dems complete control
  • Dems currently have 235-199 majority in the House; 51-49 advantage in the Senate

By Paul Steinhauser WASHINGTON (CNN) — A new national poll suggests Sarah Palin may be hurting Republican presidential nominee John McCain more than she’s helping him.

Fifty-seven percent of likely voters say Sarah Palin does not have the personal qualities a president should have.

Fifty-seven percent of likely voters say Sarah Palin does not have the personal qualities a president should have.

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A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday indicates McCain’s running mate is growing less popular among voters and may be costing him a few crucial percentage points in the race for the White House.

Fifty-seven percent of likely voters questioned in the poll said Palin does not have the personal qualities a president should have. That’s up 8 points since September.

Fifty-three percent say she does not agree with them on important issues. That’s also higher than September.

“Just after the GOP convention in early September, 53 percent said they would vote for Palin over Joe Biden if there were a separate vote for vice president. Now, Biden would beat Palin by 12 points if the running mates were chosen in a separate vote,” said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

And what if voters were allowed to vote for president separately?

“It would be a 4-point edge for Barack Obama, 52 percent to 48 percent. Since the McCain-Palin ticket is currently getting 46 percent in a match-up against the Obama-Biden ticket, it looks like Palin’s presence on the GOP ballot is taking 2 percentage points away from McCain. In a close race, that might represent the margin of victory,” Holland said.

The unfavorable numbers for Palin, Alaska’s governor, also have been growing. They are 8 points higher in the current poll than in early October, and they’re twice as high as they were when McCain announced his running mate in late August.

“John McCain has also been suspect with conservatives, the base of the Republican Party, and they were never enthusiastic about his candidacy. Palin was a unusual pick. She was well known with conservative insiders but unknown outside. When she was named, there was a rush of enthusiasm among conservatives and everyone was impressed by McCain’s unusual and unexpected choice,” said Bill Schneider, CNN’s senior political analyst .

“The more many Americans have found out about Palin, the less they like her.”

Meanwhile, the poll also suggests Americans may not be as concerned as McCain about one-party rule if Obama is elected president.

One of McCain’s closing arguments has been that the Democrats are poised to increase their majorities in Congress, and that Obama — the Democratic presidential nominee — is “working out the details” with Democratic leaders to raise taxes, increase spending and “concede defeat in Iraq.”

But in the poll, 50 percent of likely voters said if Obama wins the White House, Congress should be controlled by Democrats, with 48 percent saying it should be controlled by Republicans.

Fifty-nine percent said if McCain wins the presidential election, Congress should be controlled by Democrats, with 39 percent saying Republicans should control it.

Democrats currently have a 235 to 199 majority in the House of Representatives and a 51 to 49 majority in the Senate — the chamber’s two independent senators are allied with the Democrats.

One of Obama’s closing points is that McCain would carry out George Bush’s policies if elected, saying the Arizona senator has “ridden shotgun” with the president on economic policy.

The poll suggests that 53 percent think McCain would mostly carry out Bush’s policies, with 45 percent saying he would not.

Only 28 percent approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president.

Likely voters questioned in the poll were also asked whether Obama will win the election. Video Watch more on the final days of campaigning »

“Nine in 10 think it’s likely; nearly half say it is very likely. Only 1 in 10 say it is very likely that McCain will win, while half say a McCain victory is unlikely,” Holland said.

How will Obama supporters react if he does not win on Tuesday? According to the poll, one in five will be angry; one in four will be upset but not angry. Most Obama supporters, however, say they will be disappointed but not angry or upset if McCain wins.

The poll also suggests the Democrats are much more excited about this election than Republicans. Forty-five percent of Democrats questioned said they are extremely enthusiastic about voting this year, compared to 28 percent of Republicans.

“The economy remains the No. 1 issue to most voters. But although 8 in 10 say that economic conditions are poor now, 62 percent say that the economy will be in good shape a year from now,” Holland said. “The economy, which is already a strong issue, jumped even further in importance after the financial crisis hit in September.

“And since the public tends to blame the Republicans more than the Democrats for that crisis, that event provided a boost not just to Barack Obama but to Democratic candidates across the country. Democratic congressional candidates have a 9-point lead in the ‘generic ballot’ question.”

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The generic ballot asks voters their preference for U.S. House without naming the candidates running in each district.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Thursday through Saturday, with 1,017 adult Americans, including 950 registered voters and 716 likely voters, questioned by telephone. The survey’s sampling error ranges from plus or minus 3 percentage points to plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, depending on the question

Source: CNN

Study: Google does a brain good

October 19, 2008

I thought this article was pretty interesting…

Study: Google does a brain good
(CNN) — Can Google make you smarter? Is the more you Yahoo, the better? A new study suggests that searching online could be beneficial for the brain.
Searching online triggers areas of the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning.

Searching online triggers areas of the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning.

A study at the University of California, Los Angeles, measured brain activity of older adults as they searched the Web.

“There’s so much interest in exercising our minds as we age,” said the researcher, Dr. Gary Small, a professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. “One result of this study is that these technologies are not all bad. They may be good in keeping our brains active.”

To study what brains look like when people are searching the Internet, Small recruited two groups of people: one that had minimal computer experience and another that was Web savvy.

Members of the technologically advanced group had more than twice the neural activation than their less experienced counterparts while searching online. Activity occurred in the region of the brain that controls decision-making and complex reasoning, according to Small’s study, which appears in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Small said he can’t pinpoint why there was more brain activity in the experienced users.

“The way I theorized is that when we are confronted with new mental challenges, we don’t know how to deal with it,” he said. “We don’t engage neural circuits. Once we figure out a strategy, we engage those circuits. ”

In the study, 24 people were divided into the two groups, who were similar in age ranging from 55 to 78 years old, sex and educational achievement. Their only difference was their technological experience.

The number of people in the study was small, “but adequate to see a difference between the groups. It was so significantly different,” Small said.

The subjects went into the magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, scanner, which is like a large tunnel. The MRI monitored their brain activity while the subjects strapped on goggles, through which they saw a book page or an Internet search page.

They were given search tasks such as finding out how to choose a car or looking up the benefits of eating chocolate or drinking coffee. They had buttons and keyboards to conduct a simulated online search.

Their other task was to read pages laid out like a book.

“The bottom line is, when older people read a simulated book page, we see areas of the brain activated that you’d expect, the visual cortex, and areas that control language and reading,” he said. “When they search on the Internet, they use the same areas, but there was much greater activation particularly in the front part, which controls decision-making and complex reasoning. But it was only for the people who had previous experience with the Internet.” Interactive: See MRIs of study participants’ brain activity »

Liz Zelinski, a professor of gerontology and psychology at the University of Southern California, said the findings about the brain activity differences aren’t surprising and offered this analogy: “If you wanted to study how hard people can exercise, and you take people that already exercise and people that don’t exercise, aren’t they going to be different to start out?”

Research has shown that as the brain ages, its structure and function also changes. Such changes have been linked to declines in brain speed, control and working memory and other cognitive abilities.

Taking on mentally challenging tasks could improve brain health, according to recent studies. Brain teasers, such such as Nintendo’s Brain Age game and computer programs are geared towards boomers and aging adults. And everyone has different recommendations from crossword puzzles to Sodoku to video games as ways to keep the brain sharp, Zelinski said.

Her recommendation: “Do something hard and challenging that’s fairly unusual for them to do, something they haven’t done before. The idea is it should be difficult. If you do a crossword puzzle all your life, it’s not going to be challenging for you.”

For many aging Americans, learning how to use a computer is a challenge.
Health Library

* MayoClinic.com: Brain and Nervous System
* MayoClinic.com: Senior’s Health

The barrier for most seniors is the disinterest and intimidation, said Tobey Gordon Dichter, the founder of a nonprofit group, Generations on Line, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based organization that provides instructions and encourages seniors to get on the Web.

“It does so much for the mind,” Dichter said about searching online. “It allows for the mind to take where you where you want to go. It’s on-demand information.”

But it’s difficult at first, she added. “When you’re undertaking new frustrating tasks, like learning a language or how to use a computer, you’re pushing those neurons.”

The Pew Internet and American Life Project reported in a 2006 sample survey that about 32 percent of people who are 65 and older used the Internet.

Jewel Hall, 71, surfs the net on her laptop every other day. The Maryland resident said searching online forces her to think.

“It’ll make you think, ‘Do I have the right thing in there?’ ” Hall said. “Should I try to put something else in there? It makes you think, “What can I put in there to make the right things come up?’ You do use your brain a lot.”
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Small has written a book, “iBrain,” which examines the impact of technology on the human brain and said he wants to conduct further studies on the effects of technology on the organ.

Small encourages older adults to learn how to use search engines and said, “This could be exercising their brain and their neural circuitry in a way that’s helpful.”

From: