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Younger Americans Face Even Greater Gaps in Personal Wealth

In the “new economy,” full of novel financial realities, we often hear a lot about how cash-strapped kids are often coming home to live with and borrow from their better-positioned parents. And now a new report tells us why.

According to a new report from the Associated Press, the wealth gap between younger and older Americans has stretched to the widest on record, “worsened by a prolonged economic downturn that has wiped out job opportunities for young adults and saddled them with housing and college debt.”

Private Jobs Are on the Rise Amid Public Sector Worries

The best holiday gift may have been a private sector hiring surge in December 2011, as employers gifted the American job market with 325,000 new workers. At the same time as a the rise in public sector jobs, claims for unemployment benefits fell, raising high hopes that recent labor market woes are over and a new year may mark a new era in employment optimism.

According to a report from Reuters, the surge cam as a shock to those following the job marker trends, which to date had been less than stellar. “The ADP National Employment Report's December job tally surprised economists who had expected a 178,000 gain. It was also well above the 204,000 private jobs added in November. ‘The number is stunning,’ said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at John Thomas Financial in New York. ‘This is another data point that shows our economy is healing. It fits in well with improvements we've seen in consumer sentiment, and obviously that's because there are more people getting paychecks, which is making everyone happier.’

When There's Its Never Been A Tougher Time to Get Ahead, Bankruptcy Has Never Been a Better Solution

Amid encouraging job figures that the private sector is surging, it’s important to take a second look at the sad state of the so-called “American Dream.”

In a new article, the New York Times does just that, finding that “Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe. The mobility gap has been widely discussed in academic circles, but a sour season of mass unemployment and street protests has moved the discussion toward center stage.”

Mortgage Servicers Making Americans Miserable

Jobs in the private sector may be on the way up—a complete change of pace from the post-Recessionary years—but optimism about the mortgage industry is still way down in the wake of massive foreclosure abuses at major mortgage lenders.

In fact, The New York Times recently published a shocking article detailing the struggles of homeowners facing foreclosure framed by mortgage servicing horror stories piling up all across the nation.

According to the Times, dubious mortgage practices— widespread document execution fraud, misrepresenting fees, forgeries on signatures for your key mortgage documents, and making deceptive statements about efforts to correct paperwork—have become the norm, not the exception, for many a major mortgage lender from the West Coast to the East Coast.

The Holiday Spending Hangover Strikes Back!

The days between Thanksgiving and Christmas had many people wondering where America’s lingering financial issues went as millions of shoppers returned to our nation’s stores, malls and gallerias en masse to take advantage of extreme sales (and savings) and, in doing so, generated the most successful Black Friday for retailers ever.

A new report found that, in fact, retailers seduced shoppers at record rates despite the sluggish economy. “The 3.4 percent increase in same-store sales reported by Thomson Reuters was better than expected -- an optimistic sign in an ailing economy. Still, it's unclear how often people will shop in the upcoming year, a factor that will depend more on whether they find jobs than on how much retailers innovate or drop prices. “’Consumers were feeling better about loosening up purses this holiday season,’ said Jharonne Martis, director of research for Thomson Reuters. In particular, big wins in the apparel and teen apparel sectors indicated that shoppers were willing to spend not only on necessities, but on discretionary items like new clothes and shoes,’ Martis said.”

A Renewed Interest in Credit Card Interest

We talk a lot about the dangers of using credit cards, the nation’s plastic pariah that contributes to many living beyond their means, causes people to pay incredibly high interest, and in more cases than we care to share, leads a lot of folks to file for bankruptcy.

And so for the many thousands of you who were hoping to pay off credit cards quickly and easily as your New Year’s resolution, we have some bad news.

A New Year of New Bank Fees

According to a new report from the 2012 U.S. Banking Sector Outlook, the New Year’s ring could signal a major “cha-ching” for banks in 2012, as financial institutions all across the country react to timely federal restrictions by scrambling to add new fees to their recession weary customers.

Jobless Americans Saw Little to be Thankful for in 2011

We all know that the Thanksgiving holiday is a time for turkey-filled table settings, overstuffed family reunions, and, quite literally, giving thanks for large and small blessings throughout the year. But for many jobless Americans from California to the Carolinas, finding even the smallest things to be grateful for is more of a struggle in 2011 than possibly ever before, as they not only face limited unemployment incomes, but diminishing benefits in the new year.

In fact, according to an October analysis released by the National Employment Law Project, 1.8 million out-of-work Americans will have to find a way to live if Congress fails to pass a bill extending federal unemployment payments by year's end. According to the analysis, hat staggering figure could inflate to as many as 6 million people by the end of 2012 if Congress refuses to act.

Watch Out…Banks are Pushing the Plastic All Over Again

If you’re like many beleaguered and over-budgeted Americans, you grew weary and wary of credit card debt during the throes of the Great Recession. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (Credit CARD Act) was supposed to address the fact that you’ve been “paying” with plastic both literally and metaphorically ways for years, shielding average Americans from unexpected and massive changes to their credit card terms—terms that had previously led directly to financial hardship for an overwhelming amount of our nation’s families. Fast Forward to 2011 when new legislation is actually worsening many of the gains from the Credit CARD Act, by tightening federal regulations on debit card usage and causing banks to push their credit card offers to supplement lost debit income. According to The Huffington Post, “Banks have spent the past year pushing credit on shoppers through aggressive advertising, low-promotional rates and 0 percent offers, leaving no website, mailbox or television commercial slot untouched with promotions to get shoppers charging. The new efforts come as a reaction to the Durbin amendment, part of the larger Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation, which was enacted on October 1. The regulation limits the amount a bank can extract each time a customer swipes a debit card to around 21 cents. Credit card swipe fees, meanwhile, are essentially a Wild West for bank revenue: Companies and issuers can charge between 2 and 4 percent per credit transaction, with rewards cards typically getting an even higher rate. Where a $100 debit card purchase adds up to pennies on the dollar in swipe fees for a financial institution, a credit card swipe might send a $2.50 chunk of change to issuers.”

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