What Do I Wear To Work?

This is a very interesting topic in today’s workplace.  What is the dress code these days for the office?  Most don’t really know.  Many companies still have a strict dress code and have only one “casual” day like on Friday.  But there are also a lot of companies who allow casual dress all the time.  Many would agree it has gotten a little out of hand.  It can be even worse in the summer when it gets so hot.

The bottom line from this USAToday article is if you wear it on the weekends or out to a club or at the beach, then you probably shouldn’t wear it to work.  That is a good thing for everyone to remember…

Casual dress days have spread in recent years, as the boom of technology and Internet companies led to a more relaxed atmosphere for corporate America. Even major companies without connections to technology found themselves offering casual days once a week or all summer to compete with the lure of hip Internet firms.

According to human resources consulting firm William M. Mercer, 90% of firms interviewed in a 2000 survey offer casual dress, up from 84% in 1998. Nearly two-thirds have casual dress year-round, with the rest limiting it to certain days of the week, typically Fridays, or the summer.

“A huge number of employers have casual dress, and based on surveys we’ve done, we haven’t seen a reduction,” said Anne Reustle, a senior consultant at Mercer in Philadelphia.

But as the push toward casual wear has grown, so has criticism that employees cross the line.

“It’s a lot worse in the summer. As the seasons change, so does the amount of fabric. As it gets warmer, clothes shrink,” said Barbara Seymour, a Los Angeles fashion expert and columnist for CareerBuilder.com.

Read more on this subject at USAToday.com:


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Personal Finance Tips: Retirement

Financial Matters

What is long-term care? Is it part of Retirement Planning?

life style business finances for retirementLong-term care refers to the ongoing
services and support needed by people who have chronic health conditions or
disabilities. There are three levels of long-term care:

Skilled care: Generally round-the-clock care
that’s given by professional health care providers such as nurses, therapists,
or aides under a doctor’s supervision.

Intermediate care: Also provided by
professional health care providers but on a less frequent basis than skilled care.
Continue Reading Personal Finance Tips: Retirement

If Your Mortgage Lender Is In Trouble, Are You?

Many may have thought this or even asked this question.  If you have a mortgage with a lender that is not doing so hot and their stock price has tanked, does that hurt you?  The answer is no.  You are not really at risk although it could be an inconvenience but not really a risk.

The number 1 lender out there getting lots of attention is Countrwide.  There was an article on USAToday.com talking about Countrywide and this question of whether any one with a Countrywide mortgage would be in trouble…

The other thing to keep in mind is your mortgage is considered an asset on Countrywide's books. If the company were to run into severe financial difficulty, which, again, there are no indications of currently, your mortgage could be sold. It's not something to be afraid of. Mortgages are routinely bought and sold. You'll want to keep your paperwork to make sure all your information was transferred correctly and there could be some inconveniences, but other than that, it's really not a big deal.

But I want to stress, again, there are no signs that Countrywide is in danger of vanishing. In fact, there's been evidence to the contrary as the company has been able to raise money from outside investors to weather the turbulence in the housing industry.

Read the complete USAToday article at:


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The Outsourcing of Outsourcing in India

India has become the place for companies to outsource their work over the last several years.  Now Indian companies like Infosys Technologies are beginning to outsource some of their outsourcing work to other counties…

Some analysts compare the strategy to Japanese penetration of auto manufacturing in the United States in the 1970s. Just as the Japanese learned to make cars in America without Japanese workers, Indian vendors are learning to outsource without Indians, said Dennis McGuire, chairman of TPI, a Texas-based outsourcing consultancy.

In May, Tata Consultancy Service, Infosys’s Indian rival, announced a new back office in Guadalajara, Mexico; Tata already has 5,000 workers in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. Cognizant Technology Solutions, with most of its operations in India, has now opened back offices in Phoenix and Shanghai.

Wipro, another Indian technology services company, has outsourcing offices in Canada, China, Portugal, Romania and Saudi Arabia, among other locations.

And last month, Wipro said it was opening a software development center in Atlanta that would hire 500 programmers in three years.

In a poetic reflection of outsourcing’s new face, Wipro’s chairman, Azim Premji, told Wall Street analysts this year that he was considering hubs in Idaho and Virginia, in addition to Georgia, to take advantage of American “states which are less developed.” (India’s per capita income is less than $1,000 a year.)

For its part, Infosys is building a whole archipelago of back offices — in Mexico, the Czech Republic, Thailand and China, as well as low-cost regions of the United States.

The company seeks to become a global matchmaker for outsourcing: any time a company wants work done somewhere else, even just down the street, Infosys wants to get the call.

Read more from this recent The New York Time article:


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More Subprime News (Not Surprised)

Well, it is no surprise that another financial institution is getting out of the subprime home lending business.  The latest news comes from Lehman Brothers, a leader in packaging subprime mortgages into securities.

Of course, by shutting down this arm of their business, they are also laying off employees.  The subprime shake up isn't done yet…

“Lehman Brothers announced today that market conditions have necessitated a substantial reduction in its resources and capacity in the subprime space,” the firm said in a news release.

Lehman’s decision to shutter the lending unit, BNC Mortgage, makes it the latest casualty in the subprime mortgage meltdown that started earlier this year and rippled into the broader credit markets starting in late July.

In recent weeks, several mortgage companies that specialized in risky home loans have stopped making loans, shut down or encountered other distress. Also today, Accredited Home Lenders, a subprime lender based in San Diego, stopped making loans through brokers and laid off 1,600 people, more than half of its staff. Earlier this month, Lone Star Funds, a private equity firm, pulled out of a deal to buy the company for $400 million.

On Monday, Capital One Financial shut down its GreenPoint mortgage business, which specialized in making loans to people who did not fully document their income and assets. And Aegis Mortgage, which is controlled by Cerberus, the private equity giant, filed for bankruptcy protection, last week.

If you would like to learn more, visit The New York Times article:


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Homeowners Defaulting On Loans

Home mortgage lenders are going through some rough times right now.  There is a big increase in homeowners who are defaulting on their loans.  The challenge is many home buyers bought homes thinking that the prices would continue to increase at the rates that they were increasing.  Many buyers had adjustable rate mortgages and paid little or no money down so as the interest rates on their adjustable rate mortgages went up and their home price dropped making it harder to sell, it made it hard to keep up with the payments. 

Subprime lenders have felt the biggest hit but it has really hurt them all…

Problems in the mortgage market spread deeper and farther afield yesterday.

Trading in the shares of a large mortgage company was suspended yesterday, and the nation’s largest insurer of home loans said its stake in a business that underwrites and invests in mortgage securities may be worthless. Earlier, a German bank acknowledged that its investments in American loans have deteriorated.

The developments are the latest indications that the housing slump will affect a broader segment of the mortgage industry and that the problems will last longer than many officials had suggested earlier this year. Just last week, the nation’s biggest home lender, Countrywide Financial, acknowledged that defaults on second mortgages to prime borrowers were rising quickly.

The New York Stock Exchange never opened trading in shares of American Home Mortgage yesterday after the company said late Friday that it would suspend its dividend and was facing “significant margin calls” from its banks.

Already down 70 percent for the year, shares in A.H.M. fell 39 percent in premarket trading, to $6.39.

To learn more on this subject, read the complete article below from The New York Times:


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The Stock Market Plunged Today!

It was a bad day for all the major indexes today.  It was one of the biggest drops this year.  The worries over the subprime lending market along with other issues caused a big hit to the stock market…

Investors who had been able for months to largely shrug off discomfort about subprime mortgage problems and a more difficult environment for corporate borrowing finally decided it was time to sell after the Commerce Department issued another disappointing home sales report.

Feeding the plunge were concerns that higher corporate borrowing costs will curb the rapid pace of takeovers that had driven stocks higher this year. Investors also feared the sluggish environment for home sales and continued defaults in subprime loans would spur debt defaults and weigh on corporate earnings.

“Worries that have been out there for the past couple of years are coming to a head right now,” said investment strategist Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research Inc. “It's show time.”

The Dow plunged 311.50 or 2.3%, to 13,473.57 after falling 449.77 in earlier trading. The close was its worst since the 416.02 it lost on Feb. 27, when a drop in the Shanghai stock market rattled world exchanges.

Read the complete article on USAToday.com if you would like to learn more:


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Microsoft Earnings Are Up

Microsoft had to pay out over a billion dollars from challenges with the Xbox 360 game consoles.  But even with that they still were up for the quarter.  It was good news for Microsoft shareholders today…

The software giant reported that profit grew 7.3% in its fiscal fourth quarter. Meanwhile, revenue for its fiscal year topped $50 billion for the first time.

Microsoft posted quarterly net income of $3.0 billion, or 31 cents a share, on sales of $13.4 billion, meeting analyst expectations. In the year-ago quarter, it had net income of $2.8 billion, or 28 cents a share, on sales of $11.8 billion.

For fiscal 2007, Microsoft earned $14.1 billion, or $1.42 a share, on record sales of $51.1 billion.

Charly Tracy, Microsoft senior finance manager, attributed robust sales growth to “strong execution by our partners and sales force.”

Windows PC software, Windows server software and Office saw revenue increases of 14%, 15% and 19%, respectively, compared with the year-earlier period, Tracy says.

Read the complete article on USAToday.com if you would like to learn more:


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Ending Credit Card Confusion

There is a lot of confusion out there with all the different credit cards available.  The Fed is working to help clear up some of this confusion…

“The goal of the proposed revisions is to make sure that consumers get key information about credit card terms in a clear and conspicuous format and at a time when it would be most useful to them,” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday. “Greater clarity in credit disclosures allows consumers to make more informed credit decisions and enhances competition among credit card issuers.”

People now often have to wade through tiny print and dense language to get information about the terms of their credit card. When terms — including rates and fees — are changed, that can be on a separate piece of paper accompanying the monthly statement. Those separate inserts aren't always looked at, the Fed says.

To help, the Fed's proposal would call for a table summarizing the changes to appear on the statement above the list of the consumers' transactions. That's where people are most likely to notice the changes, the Fed says.

From solicitations to monthly statements, the Fed's proposal would require key information appear in larger print, with rates and fees in an easier-to-see boldface. The proposal also aims to make language easier for people to understand.

To learn more about the changes being considered, read the complete article below from USA Today:


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S&P 500 Is About To Hit a New Record High

Stock market investors must be enjoying watching the stock market perform so well.  Especially after so many years of not-so-good results!  It wasn't long ago that the Dow hit a new record high and it has continued to go up.

The S&P 500 is about to beat its own record that was set back in 2000!  It doesn't sound like a long time ago but it has been 7 years! 

Here's a little news shared from USA Today on the subject:

Seven years after hitting its all-time high, the S&P 500, the large-company stock index that has been overshadowed by the blue-chip Dow's 21 record closes this year, is just 15 points away from posting a record of its own.

While S&P 1527.46 doesn't carry the cachet of Dow 13,000, it is an important milestone that Wall Street is eyeing closely.

The reason: 1527.46 is the record close the Standard & Poor's 500 set back on March 24, 2000, before succumbing to a multiyear bear market that wiped out nearly 50% of its value.

After rising 4.86 points to 1512.58 Wednesday, the benchmark index that accounts for 75% of the total value of the U.S. stock market, is 1% away from rewriting the record books.

A new high for the S&P 500 is significant because it is a much broader gauge of the market than the 30-stock Dow. Also, many investors lost lots of money investing in funds that mimic the index back in the go-go '90s. Taking out the old high would also be the latest confirmation that the four-year uptrend that began in October 2002, and has lifted virtually all major U.S. indexes to new highs, is still intact.

You can view this USA Today article if you would like to read more:


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