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Empty office buildings make for suite deals

Mon, 5 Apr 2010 15:28:48 GMT

It may be a tough time to get a loan to start or expand a business. But if you’re looking for office space, there are some suite deals out there.

Q&A: Why the fuss about a flat jobless rate?

Fri, 2 Apr 2010 18:21:13 GMT

Answer Desk's John Schoen fielded readers’ questions in a live chat Friday about the March unemployment report. Here are some of his answers to their questions.

Bankers winning financial reform battle

Tue, 9 Mar 2010 15:42:45 GMT

As Congress inches toward a new set of rules to avert another global financial collapse, the score so far looks like Bankers 1, Consumers 0.

Jobs data show signs of a turning point

Fri, 5 Mar 2010 20:18:33 GMT

(image) After more than two years of staggering pain for workers, the latest employment data include signs that a historic wave of heavy job losses may be ending and modest gains lie ahead.

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Q&A: What’s next for the labor market?

Fri, 5 Mar 2010 19:13:25 GMT

Answer Desk's John Schoen fielded readers’ questions in a live chat Friday about the February unemployment report. Here are some of his answers to their questions.

U.S. workers caught in vicious cycle

Thu, 4 Mar 2010 18:49:16 GMT

American workers are pitching in harder, picking up the slack for laid-off co-workers and squeezing more profit from every hour worked. That can't last forever.

Six hazards facing the stock market

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 17:57:33 GMT

Nearly a year after the stock market staged one of the biggest rallies in history, investors  worry that this bull may be getting wobbly. There’s no shortage of cause for concern.  

Q&A: Any bright spots in the economy?

Wed, 17 Feb 2010 18:44:19 GMT

Answer Desk's John Schoen fielded readers' questions in a live chat on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Here are some of his answers about the housing crisis and the economic recovery.

Latest threat to recovery? Strong dollar

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 15:18:37 GMT

(image) The dollar has surged to an 8-month high against the euro, and is also rising against other currencies. Its strength could start damaging the fragile U.S. recovery.

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GDP data may overstate economy's health

Fri, 29 Jan 2010 21:31:50 GMT

The U.S. economy turned in a surprisingly good performance in the fourth quarter, surging by 5.7 percent, according to government data. Or did it? By John W. Schoen.

Deficit fears could crush Obama's jobs plan

Thu, 28 Jan 2010 18:53:58 GMT

(image) President Barack Obama laid out his jobs plan in his State of the Union, but finding money for fresh programs could be tough amid rising concern over deficits.

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Ruling could give companies even more clout

Fri, 22 Jan 2010 17:23:45 GMT

The Supreme Court's decision to remove campaign finance restrictions on corporations means a tsunami of company cash is likely to flood through the political system.

Imagining a Haitian-scale disaster in the U.S.

Fri, 22 Jan 2010 17:41:41 GMT

As the people of Haiti grow more desperate, readers are wondering why the relief effort is going so slowly. Consider what the devastation might look like in the U.S.  Answer Desk.

Answer Desk: No limits on banker bonuses

Tue, 12 Jan 2010 17:03:36 GMT

The White House says financial execs “just don’t get it.” Wall Street bankers say that the White House doesn’t get it. But it's the taxpayers who are really getting it.  Answer Desk.

Answer Desk: Noxious investment fees

Fri, 22 Jan 2010 17:41:03 GMT

Ringing in the New Year is a great time to take stock of how well your stocks are performing — and how much that performance is costing you. Answer Desk.

Answer Desk: TARP bailout won't die

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 00:35:51 GMT

The $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program was never used for the purpose for which it was originally intended. Yet it has been extended for another year.  Answer Desk.

New home sales drop as recovery teeters

Wed, 23 Dec 2009 17:15:04 GMT

The housing market is in the midst of a rocky recovery, but it’s too soon to declare the end of one of the worst slides since the Great Depression.

Gold may be riskier that it seems

Tue, 22 Dec 2009 16:59:04 GMT

With prices surging, investors are flocking to gold. Before you take the plunge, take a closer look at what’s making the metal sparkle.  The Answer Desk.

U.S. debt could push interest rates higher

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 13:15:08 GMT

Congress is taking the final steps to raise the national debt ceiling. That raises the question of whether the growing need to borrow money could drive interest rates higher.

Answer Desk: Adding up bank bailout losses

Tue, 8 Dec 2009 12:32:09 GMT

As the Great Bank Bailout of 2008 appears to be winding down, it's looking like taxpayers will get a lot – but certainly not all – of their money back.  The Answer Desk.

Repairing consumer credit 

Tue, 1 Dec 2009 23:11:04 GMT

The lending spree that fueled the borrowing bubble has destroyed the credit histories of millions of Americans. The could spell trouble for the economic recovery. The Answer Desk.

Jobless benefit bedlam

Mon, 23 Nov 2009 15:20:34 GMT

Congress' move to extend unemployment benefits for people out of work more than a year drew a heavy response from bewildered readers trying to figure out who is eligible. The Answer Desk.

Who needs overpaid bankers?

Sun, 15 Nov 2009 23:04:23 GMT

Sometimes a story in the business section really touches a nerve with readers.  News about gigantic pay packages for bailed-out bankers is one of them. The Answer Desk.

Who gets extended jobless benefits

Sun, 8 Nov 2009 23:53:11 GMT

President Barack Obama signed into law a bill extending unemployment benefits and expanding a popular credit for homebuyers. Here is how the law works. The Answer Desk.

GDP growth overstates case

Mon, 2 Nov 2009 19:10:43 GMT

The latest data shows the economy growing again. So how come it doesn't feel like the recession is over? On possible explanation: It isn't over.  The Answer Desk.

Breaking down the cost of health care

Mon, 26 Oct 2009 21:59:30 GMT

If and when Congress gets around to passing a bill to overhaul the health care system, the price tag will be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Where is all that money going?

'Official' job numbers don't tell the whole story

Tue, 20 Oct 2009 11:31:13 GMT

(image) Government jobs data are only estimates. But the "official" numbers don't include everyone who wants and needs a fulltime paycheck. The Answer Desk.

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Getting mortgage help

Sun, 11 Oct 2009 23:28:19 GMT

There are people out there who can help save your home from a bad mortgage. But you have to pick very carefully. The Answer Desk.

No winners in trade wars

Wed, 7 Oct 2009 19:49:49 GMT

Recent U.S.-China skirmishes have prompted readers to wonder why protecting American jobs with tariffs is such a bad idea. But in a trade war, everybody loses. The Answer Desk.

The shrinking dollar

Mon, 28 Sep 2009 12:31:16 GMT

The recent drop in the value of the dollar has been a good thing for U.S. exporters. But if the currency falls too far, the consequences could be serious. The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Homebuyer tax credit to expire

Sun, 20 Sep 2009 22:28:39 GMT

The federal tax credit for first-time home buyers has given the ailing housing market a shot in the arm. Will Congress extend it? The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Taking stock of your investments

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 20:32:39 GMT

A year after the financial markets trashed trillions in retirement savings, it's a great time to take a closer look at your investment risk.  The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Lots of interest in rates

Mon, 7 Sep 2009 20:48:53 GMT

There's a lot of interest in rates this week. The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Housing's long climb back

Mon, 31 Aug 2009 20:43:11 GMT

Despite recent signs of improvement, the housing industry still faces a long road back. The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Downward mortgage spiral

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 21:06:22 GMT

Our story last week on the failure of the government's mortgage relief efforts drew a flood of mail from homeowners facing default and foreclosure. The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Paying off your mortgage

Sun, 16 Aug 2009 21:07:24 GMT

With foreclosures rising and mortgage companies flooded with borrowers in trouble, is it a good idea to just pay the thing off if you can afford to? The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Looking for mortgage relief

Sun, 9 Aug 2009 22:18:55 GMT

Last week's news on the slow pace of  mortgage relief for millions of struggling homeowners generated a flood of mail from readers looking for help.  The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Risks for working 'retirees'

Sun, 2 Aug 2009 22:36:17 GMT

Working past retirement age is turning into a necessity for many. It turns out that doing so is not without risks.  The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

How Goldman profits

Mon, 27 Jul 2009 15:02:17 GMT

While the U.S. banking industry  struggles to right itself, Goldman Sachs has figured out how to turn financial turmoil into gold. Here's how.  The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

California’s budget mess

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 11:17:18 GMT

Unraveling California's budget mess helps explain why the Golden State's financial problem has so far defied a solution. The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

The peril of predictions

Mon, 13 Jul 2009 11:47:05 GMT

We confess: We did not predict the collapse of the housing market and near-collapse of Wall Street. And to be completely honest, nobody did.  The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Who'll take California IOUs?

Mon, 6 Jul 2009 15:08:42 GMT

With California set to print $3.6 billion in IOUs to pay bills, a lot of recipients are wondering: Just what good are these bogus bucks anyway? The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Slow stimulus spending

Mon, 29 Jun 2009 15:56:38 GMT

The government's stimulus plan was supposed to flood the economy with cash to help end the  recession. But so far,  spending is just a trickle.  The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Raiding college savings

Fri, 12 Jun 2009 14:48:55 GMT

In tough times, some cash-strapped parents are wondering: can I pull money out of my kid’s college savings account to pay bills? The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

There’s a reason GM stock is cheap

Mon, 8 Jun 2009 11:17:26 GMT

GM’s historic bankruptcy filing this week has a Wisconsin reader wondering if the worst is over for the iconic American car maker – and if so, is now a good time to buy the stock? We suggest he put the brakes on that idea.  The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Housing rebound may be slow

Wed, 27 May 2009 23:57:54 GMT

There are hopeful signs that the housing market may finally be hitting bottom. But there are also signs that the recovery may take awhile. The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Beware the hidden agendas of 'experts'

Thu, 21 May 2009 23:54:40 GMT

Financial 'experts' offer many different opinions about where stocks and the economy are headed. How do you tell who's right?  The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Meltdown will leave vastly changed economy

Mon, 18 May 2009 15:06:27 GMT

With the economy showing early signs of  stabilizing, a lot of people are wondering:  what's the 'new normal' economy going to look like? The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Yikes! Series I Savings Bonds paying 0.0%

Fri, 8 May 2009 13:44:35 GMT

If you’re one of the inflation-averse savers who bought Series I Savings Bonds to protect you from inflation, you just got a nasty surprise.  The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Who's going to fix my Pontiac?

Sun, 3 May 2009 18:32:52 GMT

  The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Bailouts and banks’ bottom lines

Fri, 24 Apr 2009 18:47:21 GMT

Did the taxpayer-funded bailout put banks back in the black? If so, should that really count as “making a profit”?  The Answer Desk.

How does the Fed ‘mop up’ extra cash?

Mon, 20 Apr 2009 14:43:00 GMT

The Fed has pumped more than $1 trillion in cash into the banking system to try to fix it. How will it drain that cash back out when the system stabilizes? The Answer Desk.

How can I steer clear of foreclosure scams?

Sun, 12 Apr 2009 21:49:47 GMT

There are lots of good people out there who can help you get a better mortgage. And then there are the scammers. How do you tell the difference? The Answer Desk.

One world currency?

Mon, 6 Apr 2009 12:00:22 GMT

What if everyone in the world used the same currency? Sounds like a simple idea. But like many simple ideas, it would bring some nasty unintended consequences. The Answer Desk.

Why can't they just give us bailouts?

Mon, 30 Mar 2009 13:37:59 GMT

The government's latest handout to investors looking to profit on the bank bailout has readers: why not just give the money directly to taxpayers? The Answer Desk.

Can't we just let AIG fail?

Sun, 22 Mar 2009 20:28:24 GMT

Last week’s outrage over big bonuses paid to executives at AIG has more than a few readers wondering: Why can’t we just let these big companies go out of business? The Answer Desk.

Should I just walk from my mortgage?

Mon, 16 Mar 2009 16:00:46 GMT

Millions of homeowners who owe more than their house is worth are tempted to just walk away and mail the keys to the bank. Here's why that's not a good idea. The Answer Desk.

Another stimulus check?

Mon, 9 Mar 2009 14:39:13 GMT

With the economy and the stock market on a continuing slide, readers are looking for relief.

Obama walks tightrope on banks

Tue, 24 Feb 2009 00:28:49 GMT

(image) The Obama administration is trying to craft a plan that could give the government direct banks ownership – without scaring away private investors. By's John W. Schoen.

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Housing relief backlash

Mon, 23 Feb 2009 18:43:52 GMT

The White House's foreclosure relief plan has touched a nerve.  Why, readers ask, should my taxes got to pay my neighbor’s mortgage? There's is a pretty good answer. The Answer Desk.

Homeowner bailout?

Mon, 16 Feb 2009 18:26:06 GMT

With trillions of tax dollars going to rescue the economy and financial system, homeowners are asking: where's our bailout? The answer may come on Wednesday. The Answer Desk.

Executive pay limit loopholes

Mon, 9 Feb 2009 00:21:22 GMT

When the government announces pay limits for bankers who take taxpayer money, expect  the search for loopholes to begin as soon as the ink is dry. The Answer Desk.

Mortgage credit scorecard

Mon, 26 Jan 2009 12:54:38 GMT

Mortgage lenders have gotten a lot more tight-fisted in the current credit meltdown.  So just how low can your credit score be – and still get approved? The Answer Desk.

Small business bailout?

Mon, 2 Feb 2009 15:17:41 GMT

Small business owners are wondering: is there anything in this bailout that's going to help me? The answer, unfortunately, is: not much. The Answer Desk.

Is the grid ready for plug-in cars?

Mon, 19 Jan 2009 17:54:47 GMT

With all the talk about a new fleet of electric cars coming down the  pike, Jacob in Denver is wondering: Is the nation's power grid ready for all these vehicles? The Answer Desk.

Bailout likely to shift course

Sun, 11 Jan 2009 23:01:26 GMT

With Washington's changing of the guard, Congress is taking up a $350 billion question. Who will get the rest of the money left in the controversial bailout fund? The Answer Desk.

Uncle Sam's borrowing binge

Mon, 5 Jan 2009 18:09:11 GMT

As the government works out the details of a massive economic stimulus plan, some readers are asking: where is all this money going to come from?  The Answer Desk.

Questions we missed in 2008

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 14:04:04 GMT

This is a good time to revisit some of the — let's just say "more unusual" — questions we didn't get to earlier. Happy New Year to all. The Answer Desk.

Why can't I get zero-interest loans?

Mon, 22 Dec 2008 16:37:48 GMT

Last week's move by the Federal Reserve to let interest rates fall to zero has lots of readers asking: where can I get some of this zero-percent financing? The Answer Desk.

The $8 trillion question

Mon, 15 Dec 2008 14:48:49 GMT

It's the $8 trillion question: Are we ever going to see all of this bailout money again? The Answer Desk.

Stopping the recession

Mon, 8 Dec 2008 16:30:40 GMT

With the recession deepening, more than a few readers are offering suggestions on how to end it.

Explaining the oil bust

Sun, 30 Nov 2008 21:57:39 GMT

With oil prices at a third of peak levels,  OPEC producers are having little luck trying to prop them back up. So was the price spike driven by greedy speculators after all? Answer Desk.

Cash out my 401(K) or hang on?

Sun, 23 Nov 2008 23:52:34 GMT

This week's discussion about retirement on Newsvine: What should I do with my 401(k) account now? Sell my stocks at a loss? Or hold on and hope the market comes back?

The debt legacy

Sun, 16 Nov 2008 21:37:36 GMT

This week a 13-year-old reader from Topeka wants to know: What is the government going to do about paying down the gigantic national debt? We wish we had a better answer.

Time to end oil tax breaks?

Mon, 10 Nov 2008 17:30:03 GMT

Should the oil industry get to keep tax breaks intended to spur more production? And why can’t the government reset variable rate mortgages to the rate that homeowners can afford?

A 401(k) urban legend

Mon, 3 Nov 2008 14:40:14 GMT

On top of the high economic anxiety we’re all slogging through these days, recent reports of congressional plans to “do away with 401(k) plans” aren’t helping.

How low can stocks go?

Mon, 27 Oct 2008 20:54:26 GMT

The stock markets wild gyrations show no signs of letting up. As market indices rack up huge losses, a Florida reader is wondering: what happens if it just keeps going down?

Who made this mess?

Mon, 20 Oct 2008 16:02:27 GMT

As the global financial turmoil shifts from full-blown panic to widespread anxiety, a lot of readers are also getting angry. And they're taking names: “Who’s responsible for this mess?”

Where did the money go?

Mon, 13 Oct 2008 15:24:37 GMT

The financial market collapse of the past few weeks has destroyed trillions of dollars in wealth. So where, exactly, did all that money go?

Can’t we put the bums away?

Mon, 6 Oct 2008 11:33:53 GMT

The government's $700 billion plan to rescue the creaking financial system has prompted readers to ask, why can't we just arrest the CEOs responsible for this mess?

What's your take on bailout?

Mon, 29 Sep 2008 13:06:29 GMT

This week we're asking for your take  on the financial crisis and the government’s emergency bailout. Log on to Newsvine and join the conversation. The Answer Desk

The financial mess and you

Mon, 22 Sep 2008 15:25:03 GMT

An extraordinary week in the financial markets brought a flurry of questions from readers about their personal finances. The Answer Desk

Why no bailout for homeowners?

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 20:50:40 GMT

The government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has left some readers wondering: What about families who have lost their homes — or are still at risk of foreclosure?

Are W-4 changes a good idea?

Mon, 8 Sep 2008 15:42:43 GMT

With costs rising and paychecks flat, readers are looking for ways to make ends meet.  The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Who cares about Fannie, Freddie?

Tue, 2 Sep 2008 12:06:57 GMT

If most mortgages are being paid on time, just why is everyone so worried about mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?  The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Is it better to save or pay off debt?

Mon, 25 Aug 2008 15:43:19 GMT

If you’re saving for a house, is it better to pay off student loans first or put everything toward a down payment? The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

Placing a heating oil bet

Mon, 18 Aug 2008 11:47:36 GMT

Is it better to sign up for one of those pre-paid heating plans? Or hope that oil prices will keep falling?  The Answer Desk, by John W. Schoen.

How far will gas prices fall?

Mon, 11 Aug 2008 15:49:47 GMT

(image) It's hard not to notice the recent drop in gasoline prices . Which has a lot of readers wondering: How much lower are they headed?  The Answer Desk, by John Schoen.

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When nest eggs get fried

Mon, 4 Aug 2008 15:55:28 GMT

The gyrations in the stock and credit markets have forced some retirees to face choices they may not have thought about when financial markets were calmer.  The Answer Desk

Is my money safe in a bank?

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 16:36:29 GMT

(image) The failure of IndyMac Bank last week — and news that some depositors didn’t get all their money back — has a number of readers wondering: is my bank account safe?

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Is it time to tap U.S. oil reserves?

Sun, 13 Jul 2008 20:55:06 GMT

(image) With gasoline prices showing no signs of easing, a number of readers are wondering why the U.S. doesn’t tap into the millions of barrels it has stored up in case of an emergency. If this isn’t an emergency, they’re wondering, what is?  The Answer Desk.

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Is this economy worse than past recessions?

Mon, 7 Jul 2008 13:48:51 GMT

(image) How does the current downturn stack up against recent recessions? So far the current event seems fairly mild. But there are worries about a "double dip." The Answer Desk.

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Who owns my mortgage?

Mon, 30 Jun 2008 12:16:36 GMT

(image) Homeowners with mortgage troubles get similar advice wherever they turn: contact your lender. But, for many, that's not as easy as it sounds.

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How bad are consumers getting squeezed?

Sun, 15 Jun 2008 20:35:42 GMT

Rising gas prices are just the latest in a series of blows that have consumers tightening their belts. The Answer Desk.

Would more offshore drilling help?

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 21:48:11 GMT

(image) The White House call for increased oil drilling in the U.S. is a great idea. Unfortunately, it won’t provide relief at the gas pump for millions of Americans struggling with the cost of topping off their tanks.  The Answer Desk.

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Economic forecast ABCs

Sun, 8 Jun 2008 21:14:16 GMT

Where is the U.S. economy headed? Is the current downturn going to follow a V-shape - or maybe a U? Economists have come up with an alphabet soup of forecasts lately.

Why do U.S. refiners export fuel?

Sun, 1 Jun 2008 21:23:38 GMT

With gasoline prices zooming toward $4 a gallon - a beyond - readers are looking for relief - and explanations. If fuel is in such short supply, how come U.S. refiners are shipping some of it out of the country?  The Answer Desk.

Why not ban oil speculation?

Mon, 26 May 2008 16:41:48 GMT

The recent spike in oil prices has been blamed on, among other things, speculators  trying to make a buck. So why can’t we just put a stop to all this speculation?  The Answer Desk.

The candidates on gas prices

Sun, 18 May 2008 22:30:54 GMT

The summer driving season isn't even here yet, and the issue of rising gas prices is heating up on the campaign trail. So what would the presidential candidates do?  The Answer Desk.

Are we in recession — yes or no?

Mon, 12 May 2008 21:13:03 GMT

This week readers are looking for a straight answer to what seems like a simple question. Is the U.S. in recession or not?  Yes. It is simple question. After that things get a little more complicated.  The Answer Desk.