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Friday Financial Five – November 20th, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015


Morningstar rates the 529 plans

Morningstar conducted their annual ranking of the states’ different 529 college savings options. The criteria include five P’s – Performance, Price, Parent, Process, and People. Two plans received a negative rating – Arizona’s Ivy Funds plan and the South Dakota plan. Rhode Island’s CollegeBoundfund, one of the largest 529 plans in the country, will be changing investment managers from Alliance Bernstein to Invesco. Ascensus, the new plan administrator, will be opening offices in the state in 2016.

Gini used to compare large city income inequality

The Gini coefficient was created by Italian statistician Corrado Gini to measure individual income inequality in an economy. A Gini measurement of zero reflects total equality and a calculation of one means complete inequality. Bloomberg used the measurement (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-10/the-10-most-unequal-big-cities-in-america ) to compare large U.S. cities, each with at least 250,000 in population. Based on these findings, the city with the highest level of inequality is New Orleans. Rounding out the top five are Atlanta, Cincinnati, Boston, and Dallas. All of the large cities listed have a Gini calculation between .5 and .6, which are higher than the country’s average of .48. The United States has seen this average increase pretty dramatically over the last five years.

Forbes 40 under 40

No cities in California hit the top 10 for the Gini coefficient, but California is called home for 33 of the top 40 wealthiest American entrepreneurs under the age of 40. Mark Zuckerberg heads the list with a net worth of over $47 billion. He has four times the wealth of former roommate and number two on the list, Dustin Mokovitz. All of the list’s entrepreneurs are worth at least $400 million, with 34 of them making their fortune in the tech sector. The lone woman to make the list is Elizabeth Holmes, who started a blood-testing company called Theranos.

HARP remains an option through 2016

The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), a product of the financial crisis, continues to exist at least through the end of next year. While the program has undergone recent revisions, terms of eligibility are still available at the HARP website (http://www.harp.gov/ ). Borrowers need to be current on their mortgage and have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan. The loan would have to have been originated before or on May 31st, 2009, with the outstanding mortgage balance representing greater than 80% of the home’s value. To date, the program has refinanced over 3 million borrowers.

Madoff victims awarded over $1 billion

Another byproduct of the crisis was the uncovering of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Roughly seven years later, that case is moving towards a conclusion. The bankruptcy judge overseeing the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC approved the distribution of $1.18 billion by the end of the year. At that point, over half of the $17 billion bilked from of clients will have been recovered.

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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