Disappointing Chinese trade data to impact markets
The Chinese trade data released today showed Chinese imports increasing 0.3 percent in contrast to Reuters projected 11 percent growth. Exports rose 4.9 percent against a projected increase of 8.5 percent. According to Fox Business News, Asian markets mostly fell today based upon this news.
Greeks attempt to form government in ongoing tragedy
Greek Socialist leader, Evangelos Venezilos, will attempt to form a government today to avoid a new election after voters rejected the bailout deal and pushed Greece into a political crisis. Greece will run out of cash in June and the EU will not give them additional support unless austerity measures are implemented. Markets are reacting to the crisis although European shares are up today. The Dow fell 97 points on Wednesday to close at 12,835.
Chinese banks to enter US
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve approved plans by three state-backed Chinese banks to expand in the US. The Chinese banks intend to assist Chinese companies operating overseas and looking to do business with foreign investors seeking exposure to the yuan. The Wall Street Journal reports that this could open the door to Chinese takeover of US banks, although that is not expected to happen soon. China will now allow US firms to own significantly larger stakes in Chinese brokerage firms. Bank of China will build a branch in Chicago and Agricultural Banks of China, Ltd. will build a branch in New York City. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China,Ltd., the largest Chinese bank, will complete its purchase of an 80 percent stake in Bank of Asia. Bank of Asia has 13 branches in California and New York.
Large Spanish bank fails
The Spanish government was forced to take over Bankia, its fourth largest bank today, according to Bloomberg. Bankia was the largest holder of real estate debt in Spain. This is the second bailout for Bankia and will allow the government to convert its preferred shares into voting shares and overall control of the bank.The Prime Minister indicates that this is all part of a plan to shore up Spain’s banking system. Spanish markets reacted favorably to the news.
Home prices are beginning to rise due to fewer homes for sale
The US had 2.37 million existing homes for sale at the end of March, down 22 percent from a year ago and down 41 percent from the peak in 2007, according to the National Association of Realtors. USA Today reports that first quarter home sales were up 5.3 percent from a year ago. With improving sales and smaller inventory, the median price of an existing single family home rose in 74 of 146 US markets.
The end of municipal bond insurance?
In the past, protection could be bought to insure a municipal bond for a purchaser. Moody’s, however, warned in late March that it would cut bond-insurer Assured Guaranty Litd.’s credit rating to the single-A range, according to the Wall Street Journal. The downgrade will leave fewer insured deals because most bond issuers seek an insurer with a higher rating than they have. Assured Guaranty is the only municipal bond insurance company left. This will weaken demand for the debt of small municipalities and increase their borrowing costs. Last year, only 5.2 percent of new municipal bonds had insurance.
Achieving the American Dream depends on where you live
In a recent report by Pew Charitable Trust, it was found that those who lived in Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Utah are more likely to improve their economic standing after their prime working years than the typical American. USA Today reports that if you live in Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina or Texas, you may fall behind in your standard of living. The overall conclusion of the study is that people are likely to do better for themselves in states where there are more educated residents and more dynamic economies. The study focused on data from the Social Security and Census bureaus for individuals born between 1943 and 1958
Catherine S. McBreen is President of Millionaire Corner. McBreen plans and develops content for Millionaire Corner. Catherine balances editorial content to meet the informational needs of both new and seasoned investors. She designs special monthly surveys on topical issues affecting the economic environment.
McBreen has a B.S. in speech communications from Northwestern University and a J.D. from DePail University College of Law. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.
Well-known for her expertise in the affluent and retirement arenas, McBreen is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. She has been quoted widely by the financial media, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Research, Private Asset Management, On Wall Street, Reuters, Bloomberg News, The Dow Jones Newswires and Worth. Cathy has appeared as a guest on CNBC Closing Bell, First Business Morning News, Neal Cavuto at Fox Business News, ABC and CBS radio.
McBreen is co-author with Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. of the book "Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On: The Wealth-Accumulation Secrets of America's Richest Families" (Portfolio, January 2008)
Catherine is the mother of four and is involved in many school and community events.