What I'm Reading This Weekend (1/13-1/14)
Thank you Beth for an awesome curated list to make me smarter over this long weekend (not so long for me:) about all things personal finance. Enjoy!
Check your account balances!
- By now you have probably heard about the Capital One double entry disaster:
Capital One customers around the country awoke Wednesday to see multiple charges for the same debit card transactions on their accounts.
Paying for College
- As college applications are in and early acceptances received, its time to hunt for dollars. How to Find College Aid by Yourself or With Help from the WSJ helps you get started.
Many people don’t realize the extent to which grants and scholarships are available—and not just for students who are the smartest or most athletic. These awards have varying requirements, and unlike loans they usually don’t have to be paid back.
- Will your kid be the next Steph Curry of video games? I came across Videogame Stars Have Fans, Fortunes—and Utterly Baffled Parents in the NYT and remember talking to my neighbor about her son’s esports scholarship at The Ohio State University.
The rapid rise of organized esports has bewildered many, perhaps none more than moms and dads who used to scold their offspring about wasting their lives in front of a computer.
- Or maybe your kid will pay his way through school mining cryptocurrency? Quartz brings us the secret lives of students who mine cryptocurrency in their dorm rooms.
It can be hot, loud, and sometimes risky, but these students have found a way to make money and position themselves at the cutting edge of blockchain technology and the cryptocurrency craze.
Stocks and Bonds
- The Stock Market keeps hitting record highs. Is this the next bubble? Will anything slow this down? CNNMoney gives an optimistic view, as is CNBC, (with a video), citing strong fundamentals, inflation still being low, and the potential for corporate tax reductions. It does make some nervous, and according to the WSJ, Jerome Powell, the new Fed Chair, will be paying close attention.
- Yields on bonds, notably long-term Treasuries, have finally started to climb. Why do yields rise? When demand and, therefore, prices fall [Editor's note: Those who think of bond's as "safe investments may be surprised to learn that after a 30+ year bull market, you can lose money on bond funds]. One trigger is that central banks step away from Treasuries. Or could the market be anticipating more inflation? CNBC, The Financial Times, and USA Today all provide an explanation of the highest yields in nine months.
Technology and Banking
- We have talked about the eventual elimination of cash. The Cashless Society Has Arrived— Only It’s in China from the WSJ, describes the meteoric rise on noncash payments (from almost zero in 2012 to $9 trillion in 2016) in China. Even beggars accept payment electronically! The article examines the issues around this (transactions don’t necessarily clear trough the central bank) and compares it to other countries around the world.
- We are familiar with fingerprint ID and even face ID, but voice ID? Fortune gives us a glimpse into the not too distant future. Hint: it’s a little big-brotherish.
A voiceprint makes it possible for your bank to have fewer security breaches because it knows that you’re you and not your evil twin sister. It also enables your car to recognize you when you slip into the driver’s seat and speak, unlocking secure apps and automatically adjusting the seat and temperature based on your preferences.
- Can’t get through a week without something else on cryptocurrency. This time, it’s Kodak (remember the yellow boxes of film?). Read this piece from the Verge and see to get insight into Kodak’s stock price rise on the announcement and how blockchain technology protects photographers image rights.
Food for Thought?
- Which retail sectors are doing well as we keep hearing about the demise of retail in general? The Washington Post brings you Liquor, home, hobbies and cars — an obsessively detailed look at sectors that are surviving the retail apocalypse.
- Worried about inequality getting worse? Did you read the Piketty book? You might be interested to read how San Francisco Fed economist Òscar Jordà and company addresses this by measuring “The Rate of Return on Everything.” Or read the “Cliff Notes” version of the entire concept in the Washington Post Wonk Blog.
On a “Personal” Note
- There is concern that the CFPB is being stripped of its “P”—powers to actually protect consumers. In this Bloomberg opinion piece, It's Not OK for Finance to Be Dangerous Again, Noah Smith supports his view with research and great graphs explaining why now, as much as ever, consumers need protection.
Consumers make mistakes out of ignorance. They need help, not a regulatory rollback.
Need help explaining ETFs to your students? Try this infographic from Visual Capitalist
About the Author
Beth Tallman entered the working world armed with an M.B.A. in finance and thoroughly enjoyed her first career working in manufacturing and telecommunications, including a stint overseas. She took advantage of an involuntary separation to try teaching high school math, something she had always dreamed of doing. When fate stepped in once again, Beth jumped on the opportunity to combine her passion for numbers, money, and education to develop curriculum and teach personal finance at Oberlin College. Beth now spends her time writing on personal finance and financial education, conducting student workshops, and developing finance curricula and educational content. She is also the Treasurer of Ohio Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.
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