This final note comes by way of Businessweek:
The FBI says criminals have found a new way to use stolen credit cards. They scale the roof of a store and wrap aluminum foil around antennas. Stores use antennas to communicate with credit card companies. That foil blocks the transmission, which means stores can't verify whether a card is legit or stolen.
Businesses figure the connection's down temporarily, which happens every once in a while, and approve the transaction.
By the time a business finds out what the card was stolen, the criminals are long gone with the merchandise they bought and the stores ... are on the hook.
Brazil is the world's third largest market for Facebook, the fifth largest for Twitter, and it has quickly become the largest market for Lulu, the controversial man-rating app for women. That has highlighted the country's race to pass legislation to keep up with a quickly changing society.
How's this for an unlikely pairing: Jimi Hendrix and George Frederick Handel. In the late 1960's, Hendrix rented a small attic apartment in Central London, which happened to be right next door to where Handel lived more than 200 years earlier.
The London odd couple of Handel and Hendrix will finally live together -- in the same museum.
For years, David Weliver, editor of Money Under 30, made financial New Year's resolutions, but they never stuck. “I made the wrong resolution, to be honest,” says Weliver. “I resolved to budget.”
At the time, Weliver was more than $80,000 in debt. The problem with resolving to budget was the same problem people run in to when they resolve to lose weight, he says. “If you just say, ‘I’m going to exercise more, I want to lose weight,’ you’re bound to not succeed, because those are very vague ideas.” Weliver was able to get rid of his debt by picking resolutions that were very specific and very achievable, such as putting aside $50 a week.
If you want to get your finances in order, specifically, what’s the first thing you should do?
“Aim for zero consumer debt. That includes credit card and auto loans,” says Jill Schlesinger, an analyst at CBS News who has more than a decade of financial planning experience.
After that, says Schlesinger, take care of the basics: Make an emergency fund to last at least 6 months and bump up your retirement contribution as much as you can. “Live beneath your means.”
That’s the major piece of advice David Jones, President of the Association of Independent Consumer Counseling Agencies, has for the resolutionarily inclined. He says that can often be achieved by making small changes to your daily routine. “We see people every day that are having trouble making ends meet,” says Jones. “Yet, they are going to Starbucks twice a day, they are buying lunches out when they could be brown bagging it.”
A lot of us are suffering because the country went through a financial rough patch, so it seems only fair that Uncle Sam should have to make a financial resolution.
“Have a regulatory regime that will prevent us from going through another financial crisis,” is what Schlesinger recommends. She says the most important thing the U.S. can do in 2014 is make sure 2007 never happens again.
“It’s very important when you have a year like we’ve just had to not gloat, but to look ahead and say, well, what could go wrong and let’s address that.”
If 2013 was a good financial year for you, says Schlesinger, max out your retirement contributions, make an emergency fund that could last you a year ... and then go out to a really nice dinner.
You can always start your diet in February.
Capers and heists are alive and well in the Internet age.
Just last year, a hacker stole more than 4,000 Bitcoins from the cloud. You may remember thieves stole $50 million worth of diamonds in Belgium, by driving onto the tarmac at the airport in Brussels and intercepting a shipment.
Tim Fernholz, reporter for Quartz, dutifully chronicled the biggest capers and heists of 2013.
Tim’s favorite heist of 2013? $26,000 worth of Pappy Van Winkle artisinal whiskey. “[That theft] hits near and dear to my heart, as a lover of bourbon,” Fernholz says. “This was Pappy Van Winkle’s 20-year-old aged bourbon, which of late in the United States, as had this very big resurgence in popularity. $900 dollars a bottle on the secondary market.” Fernholz added he doesn't think it'll be recovered anytime soon.
Check out the rest of his list over at Quartz
Psychologists have found a simple way to improve academic performance and even health. When people sit down and write about a negative experience and they revise their story to see it in a more positive way, it changes their behavior and helps them succeed.
De Blasio, the first Democrat elected as mayor in two decades, rode the subway to his swearing in. In his inaugural speech, he promised "a new progressive direction in New York."
Home prices are rising in the Sun Belt and most big cities. Everybody talks about rising housing prices as a good thing, but it’s not so great for people trying to buy a house.
Part of the reason housing prices have taken off? Investors. Some from other countries, some from Wall Street. They've snapped up homes at bargain prices, then rented them out. Investor interest sparked bidding wars in housing markets, which Anthony Sanders saw first-hand when he bid on a house in the Virginia suburbs of Washington several years ago.
“I just happened to have one Chinese investor literally arrive at the house at the same time I did," he says. "And we almost had a foot race to the door. Fortunately, I’m faster.”
Sanders knows a thing or two about the housing market. He teaches real-estate finance at George Mason University, and says the bidding wars are producing bubbles in the hottest housing markets, like Los Angeles, San Diego and Charlotte.
“That’s where the bubbles are forming," he says. "They’re old bubble cities, that are re-bubbling.”
Sanders’s fast footwork got him the house, by the way.
Economist Svenja Gudell, the director of economic research at Zillow, watches housing bubbles carefully. Because lenders stopped making shaky loans, and the bubbles are confined to the most expensive cities, Gudell doesn't expect another housing crash.
Plus, more houses are on the market. Fewer people are underwater – owing more than their houses are worth -- so they’re selling. “You have more banks selling their foreclosures and you have more people freed from being underwater," she says. "So supply will increase.”
Gudell says as housing supply increases, prices will cool, and expects home values to rise 3 to 5 percent in 2014, as opposed to 2013's 7 percent.
Patrick Newport, a housing economist with IHS, agrees that prices won’t go up as much this year. His prediction? "A [housing] slowdown in 2015, and then going forward, prices growing maybe one or two percent above the rate of inflation.”
That's about the normal rate of growth, according to Newport. Low enough to banish housing bubbles — and housing bidding wars.
At least 13 victims have injuries ranging from burns to trauma suffered from jumping out windows.