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The breadth of your financial knowledge is just as important as the size of your portfolio. But with the surplus of information written in incomprehensible industry jargon, the financial world can be hard to navigate and even harder to understand.

To help you stay up-to-date, well-versed and ultimately identify opportunities that work for you needs, our market and economic strategists translate market trends and economic news into easily-digestible summaries, reports and podcasts.

One government telling citizens exactly where tax dollars go

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Twenty-four million British taxpayers are about to find out as they receive personalized summaries that break down exactly where their hard-earned cash goes.

The program, considered one of the first of its kind by experts, aims to improve transparency and make the government more accountable for its spending.

Read more: One government telling citizens exactly where tax dollars go

What is in store for republicans

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The U.S. Congress probably won’t need to raise the federal debt limit until August 2015 or after, allowing the new Senate Republican majority to sidestep a divisive fight for much of its first year in power.

Congress last addressed the debt limit in February 2014 and suspended it until March 15, 2015. The U.S. government will be able to use tax receipts and intragovernment payments to stave off default for at least a few months beyond that, said Shai Akabas, associate director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

Read more: What is in store for republicans

An evidence of bias

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It turns out there is quantitative proof academia, Hollywood, and the media actually are dominated by liberals.

In a data set provided to Business Insider, the non-partisan political analytics firm Crowdpac used information about federal campaign contributions dating back to 1980 to determine the political biases of various professions. Crowdpac found the entertainment industry, news media, and academia were among the most liberal professions in America.

Read more: An evidence of bias

The battle over retirement advice

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It's the $10 trillion question nobody's talking about. Though candidates are mum and it won't appear on any ballot Nov. 4, the midterm elections tomorrow could determine how much money savers will have in their pockets when they retire. And by "savers," we mean nearly 70 percent of American households.

Here's the issue: Should the Department of Labor expand the list of so-called "fiduciaries," financial advisers who by law must act in the best interest of retirement savers? Put another way, should financial professionals be required to maximize your gains even if it means a smaller profit for themselves?

Read more: The battle over retirement advice

First time home buyers

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The percentage of homes that were sold to first-time homebuyers dropped to 33% this year, the lowest percentage in almost three decades, according to the National Association of Realtors. Typically, first-time homebuyers comprise about 40% of all purchases.

This is despite the fact that mortgage rates are hovering near record lows and home prices are still off about 15% compared to the housing boom peak, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index.

Read more: First time home buyers

Buffet suffers big losses

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Buffett is known for shunning the quick buck and focusing on the long-term performance of his investments. He'd best not change that this week.

His Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB) investment house holds big pieces of Coke and IBM, both of which have taken a drubbing in the past two days.

Read more: Buffet suffers big losses

Company break-ups

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They may not be as juicy as celebrity breakups, but corporate divorces are all the rage these days.

Hewlett-Packard's decision to split into two companies is just the latest in a series of corporate breakups.

Ironically enough, the last company that HP (HPQ, Tech30) CEO Meg Whitman led, eBay (EBAY, Tech30), disclosed plans last week to spin off PayPal -- which was bought under Whitman's watch in 2002.

Read more: Company break-ups

Wealth out-paces income

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More household wealth in America sounds like good news, but it could also mean economic trouble.

The ratio of wealth to income has hit a recent record, according to Credit Suisse.

The last time it was this high was during the Great Depression. And it came close two other times: 1999, the year before the dotcom bubble burst, and leading up to 2007, before the housing market crash.

Read more: Wealth out-paces income

Magazine cover risk

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Barron's latest cover is looking bullish — and for some that's a sign to sell.

Traders and investors routinely freak out over bullish headlines, convinced they're signs of bullishness going mainstream.

Read more: Magazine cover risk

The rule of 72

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Sooner or later you're going to hear about the "Rule of 72" if you talk about investing long enough.

The "Rule of 72" is a simple formula that helps you figure out how quickly your money doubles based on the interest rate you earn. Sounds harmless … right?

Read more: The rule of 72

How to get richer according to Janet Yellen

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Fed Chair Janet Yellen made a speech this morning at the Boston Fed’s conference on economic opportunity and inequality. She even had a slide deck!

Her general point was that wealth inequality in the US is not only bad, but has gotten a lot worse since the beginning of the Great Recession (see the above slide). She also notes that America is actually pretty bad at the one thing that’s supposed to make ours the land of opportunity: economic mobility.

Read more: How to get richer according to Janet Yellen

Simplifying your wallet

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Your wallet should be an organizational tool, not a catch-all. 

If yours is bulging with month-old receipts, random gift cards, and every single credit card you own, it may be time for a little process of elimination.

Read more: Simplifying your wallet

Changes to 401K fine print

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Trying to keep your pretax and after-tax retirement contributions straight before rolling them over? Well, for once, the IRS is here to help.

Back in mid-September, the Internal Revenue Service issued a notice allowing investors to separate “blocks” of contributions when choosing where to send them. As long as those distributions are made at the same time, when you roll over a 401(k) or other qualifying retirement plan you can do so without rolling any portion of your after-tax contributions into a traditional IRA — where they'll just be taxed at regular income rates (again) when it comes time to collect.

Read more: Changes to 401K fine print

Where are the young adults headed?

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City Observatory released a report Monday about how college-educated young people are flocking to cities instead of suburbs.

Well-educated young adults are 126% more likely to move to a city after college than they were in 2000, according to the report, which The New York Times linked to. But they're not just moving to New York or Washington, DC.

Read more: Where are the young adults headed?

When is college not worth it?

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Want to set off a firestorm of a debate? Ask one simple question: “Is college really worth it?”

On one side are the people who say absolutely, that the pay gap between college graduates and everybody else reached a record high last year, that a college degree is the key to economic mobility and that college-educated adults even have a lower likelihood of divorcing their spouse. On the other side of the debate are people who say absolutely not: students are graduating more indebted than ever before, college isn’t for everyone and a bachelor’s degree won’t guarantee economic prosperity.

Read more: When is college not worth it?

Warren Buffet calls the 2016 presidential race

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Billionaire investor Warren Buffett made a bold prediction about the 2016 presidential race at Fortune's "The Most Powerful Women" summit in California on Tuesday. 

Buffett said, "Hillary is going to run." Furthermore, he added that he's positive she will make it to the White House.

Read more: Warren Buffet calls the 2016 presidential race

How to Survive a David Lerner pitch

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It's all about suiting the spin to the audience when you're in the financial industry, and the investment seminar at the Trumbull, Conn. Marriott on a late-spring evening in June had "senior citizen" written all over it.

"We're gonna tell you about investments that provide income and investment appreciation," said Jonathan Hurwitz, an executive at the brokerage firm David Lerner Associates, to 300 mostly 60- and 70-something investors as they dined on lukewarm chicken parmesan. And, lest anyone consider leaving early, "After that's done, we're gonna serve dessert and have a little drawing and give away some door prizes," Hurwitz said.

Read more: How to Survive a David Lerner pitch

How much do we pay to send a child to public school?

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How much do we spend on our public schools in America? Quite a lot, actually, but you wouldn’t know it if you posed the question to the average voter. In poll after poll, Americans vastly underestimate per-pupil education funding and overall school spending. For example, in a recent national poll commissioned by the Friedman Foundation, more than a quarter of respondents thought their state spent less than $4,000 per student on schools—the real number is well over $10,000 (depending on estimates).

Read more: How much do we pay to send a child to public school?

The best way to withdraw money from your tax deferred accounts

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Know that tax-deferred retirement account you've been feeding during your working years? Yeah, you can't defer that pain forever.

You need a strategy if you're going to keep that tax bite from sinking too deeply into your savings. Figuring out how and when to withdraw money from taxable, tax-deferred and tax-free accounts can save retirees a lot in taxes, says Anthony D. Criscuolo, a senior financial planner with Palisades Hudson Financial Group.

Read more: The best way to withdraw money from your tax deferred accounts

 

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