Money market fund assets rise to $2.572 trillion - Yahoo Finance Money market fund assets rise to $2.572 trillion - Yahoo Finance

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Money market fund assets rise to $2.572 trillion - Yahoo Finance

Money market fund assets rise to $2.572 trillion - Yahoo Finance

NEW YORK (AP) -- Total U.S. money market mutual fund assets rose by $7.87 billion to $2.572 trillion for the week that ended Wednesday, the Investment Company Institute said Thursday.

Assets of the nation's retail money market mutual funds fell by $4.27 billion to $887.46 billion, the Washington-based mutual fund trade group said. Assets of taxable money market funds in the retail category fell $2.93 billion to $701.97 billion. Tax-exempt retail fund assets fell $1.33 billion to $185.49 billion.

Meanwhile, assets of institutional money market funds rose $12.13 billion to $1.685 trillion. Among institutional funds, taxable money market fund assets rose $12.73 billion to $1.599 trillion; assets of tax-exempt funds fell $600 million to $86.37 billion.

The seven-day average yield on money market mutual funds was 0.03 percent in the week that ended Tuesday, unchanged from the previous week, said Money Fund Report, a service of iMoneyNet Inc. in Westborough, Mass.

The 30-day average yield was also unchanged from last week at 0.03 percent. The seven-day compounded yield was flat at 0.03 percent. The 30-day compounded yield was unchanged at 0.03 percent, Money Fund Report said.

The average maturity of portfolios held by money market mutual funds fell to 45 day from 46 days in the previous week.

The online service said its survey of 100 leading commercial banks, savings and loan associations and savings banks in the nation's 10 largest markets showed the annual percentage yield available on money market accounts was unchanged from last week at 0.13 percent.

The North Palm Beach, Fla.-based unit of Bankrate Inc. said the annual percentage yield available on interest-bearing checking accounts was unchanged from the week before at 0.06 percent. said the annual percentage yield on six-month certificates of deposit was also unchanged at 21 percent from the previous week. The yield on one-year CDs was unchanged at 0.33 percent. It fell to 0.52 from 0.53 percent on two-and-a-half-year CDs. It was flat at 1.12 percent on five-year CDs.

The battle between money and the middle class - Morris Daily Herald

The following editorial appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday, May 31:


On June 5, voters in Wisconsin will decide whether to allow Scott Walker, the proudly divisive Republican governor who took office at the start of 2011, to finish his four-year term or force him to leave office three years early.

The Walker recall election is a rare political spectacle fueled by obscene amounts of money.

Of $26 million raised for the recall election since January 2011, more than $25 million has gone directly to Mr. Walker’s campaign, much of it from outside right-wing ideologues and corporate interests.

His Democratic opponent, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, had raised less than $1 million as of the end of April because of Wisconsin election law limits that did not apply to Mr. Walker. Mr. Barrett has outside support from union groups.

But real substance underpins the spectacle and spending of the Wisconsin election, issues that should matter not only to residents of the Badger State but also to people of the St. Louis area and the rest of the country.

The core question is whether ordinary voters finally have been pushed to the point of demanding leaders who will work to restore America’s ailing middle class to health and secure America’s economic future in the process.

That’s a lot to put on the shoulders of any electorate, even in Wisconsin, a state with a storied heritage of progressive ideals and policies that have improved the lives of its people for generations. But in Wisconsin as elsewhere for the last 30 years, distorted economic policies have been steering unimaginable amounts of wealth to moneyed interests while the incomes of working Americans have stagnated at best.

Yet it was not much more than a year ago that Wisconsinites rose up in protest and defiance when the new governor, under the pretext of a budget crunch, launched an assault on the basic right of government workers to bargain collectively for their compensation.

Collective bargaining, of course, helps level what otherwise would be a massive imbalance of power between a government or corporate institution and a lone employee.

Teachers, office clerks, road crews, maintenance staff, IT departments and cafeteria workers — backed by outnumbered Democrats in the state legislature — took to the streets of Madison and the halls of the state capitol in opposition to the bill incorporating Mr. Walker’s anti-worker agenda. Eventually, the governor and the Republican legislative majority had to resort to parliamentary maneuvers to pass the statute.

In hastily called recall elections just a few months later, voters retained three of three Senate Democrats and ousted two of six challenged Senate Republicans, setting the stage for next week’s recall effort against Mr. Walker.

The most recent polls favor Mr. Walker’s retention by a small margin, but gubernatorial recalls are so rare that the predictive accuracy of polling is virtually unknown.

Mr. Walker and outside groups supporting him enjoy a ridiculously lopsided financial advantage, but longtime Wisconsin observers also note that most voters have long since made up their minds, so the spending is more likely to enrich media consultants, ad agencies and TV stations than the candidates’ vote totals.

Finally, there’s been some fanciful speculation that Wisconsin’s recall results may foreshadow the outcome of November’s presidential election. Perhaps, but the survival of America’s middle class is more important than even that battle.

Money Watch: Investing tips to help put kids through college - USA Today

Q: I am a single parent. I will soon be debt-free and then I can set aside a little money for my daughter's college. Should I put it in a savings account or are there better options? I will only have four years to save.

A: Four years is not a long time horizon; however, you still need to be willing to take on some investment risk in order to grow your money.

A savings account will earn very little income at these low interest rates and you will owe tax on that interest income. But a well-diversified portfolio in a 529 plan offers better upside potential. And your earnings would grow tax free, and withdrawals would be tax free when used for college expenses.

In addition to federal tax benefits, many states offer tax deductions for 529 plan contributions. But some of the states are considering reducing or eliminating the tax deduction as they grapple with mounting budget deficits. Investors need to be very careful in choosing their own state's 529 plan solely on the basis of a state tax deduction that may or may not be there in the future.

It's wise to shop around before you choose a 529 plan. One of the best sites to compare and contrast plans is It provides a 5-Cap rating for each state's 529 plans, based on such things as performance and risk. A 1-Cap rating is the worst and 5-Cap is the best.

That four-year time horizon makes your asset allocation challenging. It requires you to look more at the investment markets and be willing to make investment choices that might go against popular logic.

For example, you would naturally consider an age-based portfolio option or bonds and cash as your most conservative options. However, with interest rates at record lows and the possibility that they will rise over the next four years, you would be investing in bonds at exactly the wrong time, because bond prices fall when interest rates go up.

And an age-based portfolio for an 18-year-old would be weighted heavily in bonds and cash. Given the real possibility that interest rates will rise, you might need to put more of your 529 plan into stocks to avoid the interest-rate risk in bonds.

You could place it in stable value funds, but your returns would be meager over that time horizon. Stocks, given all the volatility, have produced the best long-term total returns, but it requires taking a bit of risk.

If your daughter goes to a four-year college, you could continue to invest inside the 529 plan while she attends college, so presumably your time horizon is longer than just the four years she has until she begins college. In addition, many kids take a gap year after high school to travel and save money for college, which may give you an additional year to grow your investments.

John Gugle, NAPFA -registered financial adviser

Alpha Financial Advisors, Charlotte

Russian Banker Deplores US Financial Ban on Iran -

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TEHRAN (FNA)- Chairman of Russia's Vneshtorgbank (VTB) Andrei Kostin lashed out at the US for imposing financial sanctions on Iran, stressing that the move violates the international laws. The US financial and economic sanctions against Iran violate the ...

Western banks 'reaping billions from Colombian cocaine trade' - The Guardian

The vast profits made from drug production and trafficking are overwhelmingly reaped in rich "consuming" countries – principally across Europe and in the US – rather than war-torn "producing" nations such as Colombia and Mexico, new research has revealed. And its authors claim that financial regulators in the west are reluctant to go after western banks in pursuit of the massive amount of drug money being laundered through their systems.

The most far-reaching and detailed analysis to date of the drug economy in any country – in this case, Colombia – shows that 2.6% of the total street value of cocaine produced remains within the country, while a staggering 97.4% of profits are reaped by criminal syndicates, and laundered by banks, in first-world consuming countries.

"The story of who makes the money from Colombian cocaine is a metaphor for the disproportionate burden placed in every way on 'producing' nations like Colombia as a result of the prohibition of drugs," said one of the authors of the study, Alejandro Gaviria, launching its English edition last week.

"Colombian society has suffered to almost no economic advantage from the drugs trade, while huge profits are made by criminal distribution networks in consuming countries, and recycled by banks which operate with nothing like the restrictions that Colombia's own banking system is subject to."

His co-author, Daniel Mejía, added: "The whole system operated by authorities in the consuming nations is based around going after the small guy, the weakest link in the chain, and never the big business or financial systems where the big money is."

The work, by the two economists at University of the Andes in Bogotá, is part of an initiative by the Colombian government to overhaul global drugs policy and focus on money laundering by the big banks in America and Europe, as well as social prevention of drug taking and consideration of options for de-criminalising some or all drugs.

The economists surveyed an entire range of economic, social and political facets of the drug wars that have ravaged Colombia. The conflict has now shifted, with deadly consequences, to Mexico and it is feared will spread imminently to central America. But the most shocking conclusion relates to what the authors call "the microeconomics of cocaine production" in their country.

Gaviria and Mejía estimate that the lowest possible street value (at $100 per gram, about £65) of "net cocaine, after interdiction" produced in Colombia during the year studied (2008) amounts to $300bn. But of that only $7.8bn remained in the country.

"It is a minuscule proportion of GDP," said Mejía, "which can impact disastrously on society and political life, but not on the Colombian economy. The economy for Colombian cocaine is outside Colombia."

Mejía told the Observer: "The way I try to put it is this: prohibition is a transfer of the cost of the drug problem from the consuming to the producing countries."

"If countries like Colombia benefitted economically from the drug trade, there would be a certain sense in it all," said Gaviria. "Instead, we have paid the highest price for someone else's profits – Colombia until recently, and now Mexico.

"I put it to Americans like this – suppose all cocaine consumption in the US disappeared and went to Canada. Would Americans be happy to see the homicide rates in Seattle skyrocket in order to prevent the cocaine and the money going to Canada? That way they start to understand for a moment the cost to Colombia and Mexico."

The mechanisms of laundering drug money were highlighted in the Observer last year after a rare settlement in Miami between US federal authorities and the Wachovia bank, which admitted to transferring $110m of drug money into the US, but failing to properly monitor a staggering $376bn brought into the bank through small exchange houses in Mexico over four years. (Wachovia has since been taken over by Wells Fargo, which has co-operated with the investigation.)

But no one went to jail, and the bank is now in the clear. "Overall, there's great reluctance to go after the big money," said Mejía. "They don't target those parts of the chain where there's a large value added. In Europe and America the money is dispersed – once it reaches the consuming country it goes into the system, in every city and state. They'd rather go after the petty economy, the small people and coca crops in Colombia, even though the economy is tiny."

Colombia's banks, meanwhile, said Mejía, "are subject to rigorous control, to stop laundering of profits that may return to our country. Just to bank $2,000 involves a huge amount of paperwork – and much of this is overseen by Americans."

"In Colombia," said Gaviria, "they ask questions of banks they'd never ask in the US. If they did, it would be against the laws of banking privacy. In the US you have very strong laws on bank secrecy, in Colombia not – though the proportion of laundered money is the other way round. It's kind of hypocrisy, right?"

Dr Mejia said: "It's an extension of the way they operate at home. Go after the lower classes, the weak link in the chain – the little guy, to show results. Again, transferring the cost of the drug war on to the poorest, but not the financial system and the big business that moves all this along."

With Britain having overtaken the US and Spain as the world's biggest consumer of cocaine per capita, the Wachovia investigation showed much of the drug money is also laundered through the City of London, where the principal Wachovia whistleblower, Martin Woods, was based in the bank's anti-laundering office. He was wrongfully dismissed after sounding the alarm.

Gaviria said: "We know that authorities in the US and UK know far more than they act upon. The authorities realise things about certain people they think are moving money for the drug trade – but the DEA [US Drugs Enforcement Administration] only acts on a fraction of what it knows."

"It's taboo to go after the big banks," added Mejía. "It's political suicide in this economic climate, because the amounts of money recycled are so high."

Anti-Drugs Policies In Colombia: Successes, Failures And Wrong Turns, edited by Alejandro Gaviria and Daniel Mejía, Ediciones Uniandes, 2011

Money and passports: Is George Zimmerman's plight racial? -

Shouts of injustice may calm some down now that Travyon Martin’s shooter George Zimmerman has to report to jail in the next two days.

A judge has given Zimmerman 48 hours to surrender. The judge also revoked Zimmerman's $150,000 bond.

Zimmerman failed to report $200,000 raised and stored inside his PayPal account. He and his wife discussed the evasion during jail phone calls. The two used a special code to deceive listeners and discuss the funds.

A Florida judge ruled that Zimmerman’s deceit merits revocation of his bond. Furthermore, Zimmerman’s second passport was discovered.

Some argue that his $200,000 should not be included as personal finances because that money goes to his attorneys. Others say that Zimmerman’s lie, or attempted cover-up, really harms Zimmerman’s chances at trial. They asked how can a jury believe a man who hasn’t been honest with the courts?

Others have defended Zimmerman’s two passports, explaining that he likely lost the first and ordered a second. Still, wisdom, based in logic and the law not race, dictates that if Zimmerman’s second passport was needed because he lost the first, then an honest man would have reported recovering the first lost passport.

Zimmerman’s last name, particularly European, and Trayvon’s first name, particularly African American, have set off a string of events that have pit race and parties against each other.

Many older members of the African American community believe George Zimmerman wasn’t charged with murder immediately because his victim was black. A number of African Americans and lawyers for Trayvon Martin have stated over and over that had Martin been the shooter, Martin would be in jail.

Those on the opposite end of the race spectrum, those who believe Zimmerman is a white victim, are also prominent debaters in the Trayvon Martin shooting. Many argue that Zimmerman’s hope rests with Republicans and gun lobbyists who believe in Stand Your Ground and the right to bear arms in this country as long as the owner has a legal right (permit) to carry the weapon.

Others point to an African American President who has made only one comment on the Trayvon Martin shooting. Weeks after the murder and about a week after Trayvon Martin’s death saturated cable news, President Obama told the world that if he had a son, his son would look like Trayvon. These “others’ argue that Zimmerman’s become part of a federal “witch hunt”--a sly reference to Department of Justice Deputy Eric Holder, also African American.

Communities, black, white and other, have all cried “Justice for Trayvon” thus shunning any and all notions that they’ve gathered in Trayvon’s Martin name to race bait. For many, Zimmerman’s trial is about justice, not race.

Zimmerman shot an unarmed African American 17-year-old. His lawyers will argue self-defense. The 17-year-old had THC in his system. Zimmerman had been on a prescription drug that warns of upset to the psyche, particularly with moods that cater anxiety and aggression.

What his trial and the what the law mean to George Zimmerman isn’t clear. Past behaviors, inc luding a scuffle with police that merited a mug shot and criminal record suggest that Zimmerman has had problems with authority in his past. Lying about his finances has cast an old light on Zimmerman. A light that suggests Zimmerman owns a certain disrespect and casual disregard for the American Justice System

passport cover photo credit: Wikipedia

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