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Friday Financial Five – February 5, 2016

Friday, February 05, 2016


Interest rates fall again

The Fed hike at end of 2015 was widely considered the starting point for interest rates to head in an upward trajectory but that has not been the case. Rates have fallen for five straight weeks and Zillow reports that the average 30-year mortgage quoted on its website dropped to 3.5%, a rate that hasn’t been seen since 2013. The 15-year mortgage is also heading down, touching 2.75%. The falling rates haven’t produced more mortgage applications during these winter months, as the Mortgage Bankers Association reported a seven percent for purchases.

Presidents and S&P 500 results

It’s popular to make the connection of market returns with the political party holding presidential office. As it pertains to the S&P 500, returns have been higher under Democratic Presidents since 1945, with an average annual return of 9.7% vs. 6.7% under Republican presidents. Gerald Ford, a Republican, had the best overall performance with an 18.6% annual average from 1974-1977. He was elected after Nixon’s resignation, and the economy was positioned for expansion after a spike in oil prices and recession. The second best market performance was under Democrat Bill Clinton, averaging 14.9% thanks largely to the technology boom. President Obama is currently positioned to have the second best track record (behind Clinton), although recent volatility could threaten that.  

Cybercrime costs estimated at $450 billion

The ability of government bodies to police crime over the internet without violating privacy laws has always been a hot button issue. The cost of cybercrime is rising, with Hamilton Place Strategies estimating the total global cost at almost half a trillion dollars. In 2014, it’s reported that there were over 85 million data breaches in the U.S., making the prevention of cyber-crime number one on the agenda of CEOs for the country’s top companies.

Navigating college financial aid for divorced couples

College financial aid applications for remarried divorcees can present pitfalls, including the need to list full financial information for both households. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) should focus on the custodial parent, or whomever the child spent the majority of time with over a 365-day period. The federal government doesn’t require information on the non-custodial parent, but they do inquire about child support received by custodial parent.  At many private schools, the non-custodial parent will provide financial information, affecting the school’s aid but not federal aid.  

Census Bureau commemorates 50 years of Super Bowls

Super Bowl weekend means big money and 2016 is no different as a 30 second advertisement will cost $5 million. This differs from the first Super Bowl in 1967, where the same spot cost $42,000. In honor of the game, the U.S. Census Bureau released interesting figures depicting changes since the first Super Bowl was played. World population has grown from 3.5 billion to 7.3 billion. The median sale price of a single family home has risen from $22,700 to $282,800 and the price of regular gas is up from 33 cents to $1.83 per gallon. 

Dan Forbes, a CFP Board Ambassador, is a regular contributor on financial issues. He leads the firm Forbes Financial Planning, Inc in East Greenwich, RI and can be reached at [email protected]


Related Slideshow: Massachusetts Business Rankings

See how Massachusetts stacked up.

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Massachusetts has 2015's 28th highest insurance premium penalties for high risk drivers, according to a WalletHub report. 

Mass is behind Colorado and New Mexico who come in at 26 and 27 spots respectively while Mass is ahead of Tennessee and the District of Columbia who rank 29 and 30 respectively. 

Massachusetts ranks 14th overall in the category of DUI conviction annual premium increase with an amount of $756.

Massachusetts ranks 20th overall in the category of speeding over 20 mph annual premium increase with a total of $261 while ranking 21 overall in the category of  two accidents annual premium increase with a total of $1,364. 

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Massachusetts has been ranked as the 5th most eco-friendly state in the country, according to a recent study by WalletHub. 

Mass ranks tenth in environmental quality and fourth in Eco-Friendly Behaviors landing them in 8th overall. 

Mass is behind Minnesota and New York who are in the fourth and third spots respectively, and in front of Washington and New Hampshire  who come in at the six and seven spots. 

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The Economist

Small Business Friendliness Grade: D+

The Economist grades states on an A+ to F grading scale for its small business climate. Massachusetts ranks near the bottom of the nation, joining New Mexico and New York in receiving D+ grades.  9 states scored worse than a D+ in the Economist rankings. 

Overbearing bureaucracy and excessive licensing is stifling small business in America. 

Read More About The Economist Grade Here

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#25 CNBC

CNBC ranks each state in cost of doing business, economy, technology and innovation.

Massachusetts' unemployment rate as of May 2014 was 5.6 percent. The state added 9,100 jobs in the month of May.

Read More About CNBC Ranking Here

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#13 Forbes

Forbes ranks each state in business costs, economic climate, and growth prospects.

The most damning in the commentary:

Massachusetts’ business costs, including labor, energy and taxes, are the highest of the 48 contiguous states—only Hawaii is higher—at 20% above the national average.

Read More About Forbes Ranking Here

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#47 ChiefExecutive.net

ChiefExecutive.net ranks each state in taxations and regulations, workforce quality, and living environment.

The most damning in the commentary:

Taxation and regulation are always the key barometers. Massachusetts and Oregon are the worst.

Read More About ChiefExecutive.net Ranking Here

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Tax Foundation

#25 Tax Foundation

Tax Foundation ranks each state in corporate tax rank, sales tax rank, and unemployment insurance tax rank.

Massachusetts ranked #49 in unemployment insurance tax.

Read More About Tax Foundation Ranking Here

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Wallet Hub

#10 Wallet Hub

Wallet Hub ranks each state in ROI rank, state tax rank, and overall government services.

Massachusetts ranked #49 in worst roads and bridges, but ranked #7 in overall government services.

Read More About Wallet Hub Ranking Here

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#41 ALEC

ALEC ranks each state in economic performance and outlook.

Although Massachusetts ranked low in economic performance, a forward-looking forecast is based on the state’s standing in 15 important state policy variables. Some of these variables include top marginal personal income tax rate and sales tax burden.

Read More About ALEC Ranking Here

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Kauffman Foundation

#29 Kauffman Foundation

Kauffman Foundation ranks each state in entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurial activity generally is highest in Western and Southern states
and lowest in Midwestern and Northeastern states.

Read More About Kauffman Foundation Ranking Here

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Free Enterprise

#18 Free Enterprise

Free Enterprise ranks each state in performance, exports, innovation + entrepreneurship, business climate, talent pipeline, infrastructure.

Massachusetts's reputation as a hotspot for science and technology endures in this year's rankings. The commonwealth is a center for STEM jobs and university research and development, ranking 4th and 2nd, respectively, in those two categories. It also ranks 6th as a center for high-tech establishments. Massachusetts is taking aggressive steps to bolster economic activity with high-impact university-industry R&D projects and new tools for tech-based startup companies.

Read More About Free Enterprise Ranking Here

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The Pew Charitable Trusts

#45 The Pew Charitable Trusts

The Pew Charitable Trusts ranks each state in job growth and job creation.

Massachusetts added 38,368 jobs in 2014.

Read More About The Pew Charitable Trusts Ranking Here


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