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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.

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

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

What is motivating Chris Christie to veto this give away program?

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Three states are ending a program that qualified residents for extra food paid for by the federal government -- including two, New Jersey and Wisconsin, led by potential Republican presidential candidates.

Congress in February passed a law to raise the costs of so-called heat-and-eat programs. Such initiatives had allowed states to give residents as little as $1 a year in home-heating assistance to qualify for an average of $1,080 a year in added food stamps. The new minimum state contribution is $20 per household a year, and Chris Christie’s New Jersey, Scott Walker’s Wisconsin as well as Michigan are taking a pass.

Read more: What is motivating Chris Christie to veto this give away program?

New action against corporate inversions

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What is a corporate inversion?  

A corporate inversion is transaction in which a U.S. based multinational restructures so that the U.S. parent is replaced by a foreign parent, in order to avoid U.S. taxes. Current law subjects inversions that appear to be based primarily on tax considerations to certain potentially adverse tax consequences, but it has become clear by the growing pace of these transactions that for many corporations, these consequences are acceptable in light of the potential benefits.  

Read more: New action against corporate inversions

Are Military budget cuts affecting our armed forces?

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U.S. military leaders this week seized on escalating Islamic extremism and increased spending by China and Russia, imploring Congress to scrap mandatory budget cuts that they say are leaving U.S. forces vulnerable and less ready to fight.

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief arms buyer, told the annual Air Force Association conference that continuation of $1 trillion in forced spending cuts would further erode the readiness of the U.S. Air Force, which was forced to ground 13 squadrons last year and sharply curtail flying hours.

Read more: Are Military budget cuts affecting our armed forces?

Carbon Taxes Don't Kill Jobs

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Where they've been tried, the evidence shows, well-designed carbon taxes have succeeded in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. But that doesn't necessarily end the debate over their effects -- nor should it. The next question is whether that success is bought at the expense of jobs and incomes.

The answer is no. As long as the tax is well-designed, it can cut emissions at little or no economic cost. And that is a conservative assessment: In practice, a carbon tax has been shown to provide an economic boost. The reason is that the revenue raised by a carbon tax can be used to cut other, more damaging, taxes.

Read more: Carbon Taxes Don't Kill Jobs

It's Time to Abandon the Delusion of a Carbon Tax

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At the United Nations last week, President Obama urged the nations of the world to follow our lead and begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The president has moved aggressively to use the powers of the Clean Air Act to begin the decade-long process of regulating greenhouse gases as air pollutants. Still, even though the president is articulating a strong policy on climate change, he is being criticized because the U.S. is not willing to set a price on carbon. As Coral Davenport reported in the New York Times:

Read more: It's Time to Abandon the Delusion of a Carbon Tax

There is more than one pay to pay off student debt

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Feeling pressured to take a job or pursue a career you're not really into just because it pays a lot? That's understandable, especially since the average college student graduates with $29,400 in student loan debt.

If you're philanthropically inclined, here's some good news: A few new organizations, and the government, are making it easier for college grads to pay down their loans if they're willing to help those in need.

Read more: There is more than one pay to pay off student debt

How Obama Care may cost you come tax time

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A significant benefit of the Affordable Care Act is the opportunity to receive money-saving tax credits up front to cut the overall cost of health insurance, but now hundreds of thousands of consumers could owe back some of that money next April.

Those affected took advance payments of the premium tax credit for health insurance. Some married couples could owe $600 or $1,500 or $2,500 or even more. It might feel like a raw deal for some who are already suffocating under the escalating costs of health insurance.

Read more: How Obama Care may cost you come tax time

Hospitals charging before the procedure

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Get ready to whip out your credit card before you are wheeled into the operating room or undergo an MRI.

Hospitals are increasingly asking patients to pay for procedures either upfront or before they are discharged. That's because Americans are shouldering a greater portion of their health care bills, and medical centers don't want to get stuck with patients that can't pay.

Read more: Hospitals charging before the procedure

Strong US dollar

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The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the value of the greenback against a basket of foreign currencies, has climbed to its highest level in over four years.

"The momentum of the dollar's advance is unprecedented," said analysts at Société Générale in a note Monday morning.

Read more: Strong US dollar

Parents help first time homebuyers

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The Bank of Mom and Dad is playing a growing role as lender of last resort for a housing recovery struggling to provide more traction for the U.S. economy.

Last year, 27 percent of those purchasing a home for the first time received a cash gift from relatives or friends to come up with a down payment, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. That’s up from 24 percent in 2012 and matches the highest share since the group began keeping records in 2009.

Read more: Parents help first time homebuyers

Average cost of raising a child hits $245,000 - Yahoo Finance

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New parents be warned: It could cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars to raise your child -- and that's not even including the cost of college.

To raise a child born in 2013 to the age of 18, it will cost a middle-income couple just over $245,000, according to newly released estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's up $4,260, or almost 2%, from the year before.

Read more: Average cost of raising a child hits $245,000 - Yahoo Finance

Why People are Buying Chinese Stocks They Know Absolutely Nothing About

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Zhang Xiuli says she knows nothing about the nine Chinese companies that held initial public offerings last month.

Not a problem. Zhang, 37, tried to buy shares in each and every one, confident that she knew what was coming next: an immediate surge in price that has rewarded investors in Chinese IPOs with an average first-day gain of 43 percent this year. Her orders were among 655 billion yuan ($106 billion) of bids for 3.2 billion yuan of new shares, an over-subscription rate 28 times bigger than that of Agricultural Bank of China Ltd.’s listing at the height of the nation’s IPO boom in 2010.

Read more: Why People are Buying Chinese Stocks They Know Absolutely Nothing About

What the Closing of the Revel May Mean for Atlantic City

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The shuttering next month of Revel, the $2.6 billion hotel and casino that was meant to usher in a new era of opulence in Atlantic City when it opened in 2012, is set to quicken the seaside community’s downward spiral.

Five years after the longest recession since the 1930s, hotel rooms sit vacant and revenue keeps falling in what was once the second-largest U.S. casino market. Gov. Chris Christie’s turnaround plan for the municipality, begun in 2011 and hinged on Revel’s success, hasn’t delivered, prompting Moody’s Investors Service to cut the city’s $245 million of general-obligation debt to junk last month.

Read more: What the Closing of the Revel May Mean for Atlantic City

2014 Is the Time to buy a house

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Right now is a great time to buy a house.

To understand why, I encourage you to spend a moment contemplating the chart above. What it shows is that the interest rate you pay on a mortgage matters a lot when it comes to the ultimate price of the American dream.

Read more: 2014 Is the Time to buy a house

Where Are Our Tax Dollars Are Going

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A government website intended to make federal spending more transparent was missing at least $619 billion from 302 federal programs, a government audit has found.

And the data that does exist is wildly inaccurate, according to the Government Accountability Office, which looked at 2012 spending data. Only 2% to 7% of spending data on USASpending.gov is "fully consistent with agencies' records," according to the report.

Read more: Where Are Our Tax Dollars Are Going

Good News for Your Credit Score

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A change in how the most widely used credit score in the U.S. is tallied will likely make it easier for tens of millions of Americans to get loans.

Fair Isaac Corp. said Thursday that it will stop including in its FICO credit-score calculations any record of a consumer failing to pay a bill if the bill has been paid or settled with a collection agency. The San Jose, Calif., company also will give less weight to unpaid medical bills that are with a collection agency.

Read more: Good News for Your Credit Score

The Federal Reserve’s Experiment with Quantitative Easing

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"Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has, the more one wants." — Benjamin Franklin

The Federal Reserve is desperate to raise rates so that they can lower them again.

Read more: The Federal Reserve’s Experiment with Quantitative Easing

 

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