For the week of August 24, 2009
A strong month for sales of existing homes and positive, yet prudent, comments from Fed Chairman Ben
Bernanke took the markets higher last week. The National Association of Realtors reported Friday that
sales of previously occupied homes rose 7.2 percent in July, its fourth consecutive monthly increase and
the highest level in two years. A tax credit for first-time home buyers, set to expire this fall, contributed to
the increase. For the week, the Dow gained 2.16 percent to close at 9,505.96. The S&P rose 2.27
percent to end the week at 1,026.13, and the NASDAQ climbed 1.78 percent to finish the week at
Source: Morningstar.com. * Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and
cannot be invested into directly. Three and five-year returns are annualized. The S&P, excluding “1 Week”
returns, is a reflection of return to an investor, by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax.
Top Five Percent – To rank in the top 5 percent of all U.S. taxpayers required an adjusted gross income
(AGI) level of at least $160,000 based upon calendar year 2007 tax data. This group earned 37 percent
of all AGI nationwide and paid 61 percent of all federal income tax in the country (Source: Internal
Revenue Service, Tax Foundation, BTN Research).
Saving More – The personal savings rate in the U.S. at the end of June 2009 was 4.6 percent. The
nation’s personal savings rate was 0.2 percent as of March 31, 2008 (Source: Commerce Department,
Rapid Rise – The fastest that the S&P 500 has bounced back with a 50 percent gain from a bear
market closing low in the past 50 years took place in 1983 and required seven months to achieve. The
return calculation was based upon the change of the raw index and does not include the impact of
reinvested dividends (Source: BTN Research).
2037 or 2043? – The Social Security Board of Trustees announced on May 12, 2009, that the trust fund
backing the payment of Social Security benefits would be zero in 2037 and that the payment of benefits
would drop to 76 percent of their originally promised levels. On Aug. 7, 2009, the Congressional Budget
Office calculated that the trust fund would be zero in 2043 and that the payment of benefits would drop to
83 percent of their originally promised levels (Source: Social Security Administration, Congressional
Budget Office, BTN Research).
WEEKLY FOCUS – Picking Pockets By Phone
The Federal Trade Commission receives more than
100,000 complaints per month pertaining to the
National Do Not Call Registry, which is meant to
prevent telemarketing firms from contacting people
who have placed their name on the list. Several states
that operate their own, stricter do-not-call lists have
reported increases in complaints, and many state
officials point to the economic downturn as a major
Law enforcement agencies have long held that when the
economy goes down, property theft and financial crimes
go up, particularly as unemployment increases. A
hundred years ago, that might have meant more
pickpockets and petty larcenists. Today, it means more criminals trying to get information they can use to
create credit. To them, it’s a numbers game – as in bank account, credit card and Social Security
It doesn’t take a data breach at a major retailer or government office for your numbers to fall into the
wrong hands. According to SpendonLife.com, low-tech methods like stealing wallets or physical
documents account for 43 percent of identity theft. And thieves often don’t use credit or debit cards for an
immediate shopping spree before the card is deactivated. Instead, they use the information to open new
lines of credit – a practice that impacted 67 percent of identity theft victims in 2008.
Phone scams involve what’s known as “phishing” – attempts by the caller to get you to divulge your credit
card, bank account or Social Security number. These callers usually present themselves as a
representative of a financial business or a government agency and often ask for you to verify information.
They may even read you a phony account number, expecting you to give them the correct one. Don’t fall
for it! Your financial institution will not contact you by phone and then ask for your account number, and the
same is true of the Social Security administration or the Internal Revenue Service. If those entities are
calling you, they will already have your numbers.
Identity theft doesn’t mean someone stealing your documents so they can pose as you. It means stealing
your confidential information to access your money, investments or line of credit. Desperate times push
thieves to desperate measures and easy marks. Protect your accounts and Social Security number as
you would the cash in your wallet – because sometimes that pickpocket is just a phone call away.
If you’d like more information about identity theft and protecting your confidential information, please
contact our office.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of
the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-
chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common
stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan
Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized
benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies
representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all
dividends. Written by Securities America. SAI# 299765
Copyright © 2010 The Money Alert.com. All rights reserved.
All information herein has been prepared solely for informational purposes, and it is not an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security or instrument or to
participate in any particular trading strategy. The Money Alert does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any
information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to this web site or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility. All such information is provided solely for
convenience purposes only. The Money Alert is not affiliated with any of the firms or entities listed unless specifically stated. The Money Alert does not provide investment, tax or legal
advice. Please consult the appropriate professional regarding your personal situation.