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Friday Financial Five – December 18th, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015


Fed Raises Rate and the World Goes On

The inevitable finally occurred as the Federal Reserve opted to raise the target federal funds rate by a quarter point, the first increase since 2006. A rate hike may be new territory for those looking to buy a house for the first time but a higher mortgage rate isn’t a foregone conclusion. The Fed committed to continue reinvesting principal payments from mortgage-backed securities into new mortgage-backed securities. They will also continue rolling over maturing Treasuries. This continued support should help provide some stability in the bond market, even with another expected increase in the first half of 2016.

Congress Finally Addresses Permanent Tax Changes

Congress came to agreement on the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015. Many provisions, habitually extended each year over the last decade, have been permanently renewed. Others were extended but are expected to pass within the next week. The permanent provisions include the deductions from IRAs to charities, which allows taxpayers who are over 70 ½ to make a tax-free contribution up to $100,000 to a charity. The Enhanced Opportunity Tax Credit allows families to take a credit of up to $2,500 per year for up to 4 years of post-secondary education. The Enhanced Child Tax Credit raises the threshold for calculating the additional refundable portion of the tax credit. Finally, the deduction for schoolteacher expenses is now permanent, allowing elementary and secondary schoolteachers to deduct up to $250 per year in school supplies or expenses. 

Most Charitable States

There are plenty of ways the United States can improve but the country has always been at the forefront of generosity. Coinciding with the holidays, Wallethub  promoted giving by putting together a meaningful comparison of different states’ generosity. The rankings are based on, among other things, number of public charities, percentage of people donating, and median amount of giving. Utah, Maryland, and Idaho ranked at the top of the chart, while California, Louisiana, and Rhode Island filled the last three spots.

Growth Rate of Women Billionaires Outpacing Men

As women continue the fight for income equality in the workplace, longevity and estate planning practices are working to help females take their place amongst the wealthiest in the world. UBS/PricewaterhouseCoopers examined the rate of increase in the number of billionaires since 1995 and females are outpacing males by a healthy rate. The number of women worth over a billion has grown 6.6 times as opposed to 5.2 times for men. Asian women have the led the way for this growth, increasing from 3 in 2005 to a total of 25 today. There are still more total female billionaires in Europe and the United States, with the U.S. numbering 63.

Payday Lending Takes a Big Hit

In a holiday feel-good story for those against payday lending, the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) took action this week against EZCORP for illegal debt collection practices. Due to the finding, the company will refund $7.5 million to 93,000 customers and pay $3 million in penalties. For 130,000 consumers, their payday and installment loans will not be collected. EZCORP was accused of illegally visiting these consumers in their homes and workplaces, while lying about their rights and unlawfully drawing money from their bank accounts.

Dan Forbes, a CFP Board Ambassador, is a regular contributor on financial issues. He leads the firm Forbes Financial Planning, Inc in East Greenwich, RI and can be reached at [email protected].


Related Slideshow: Oregon Business Rankings in US

See how Oregon stacked up against the other states in the U.S.

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Oregon gets a C+ for small business friendliness from Thumbtack, in conjunction with the Kauffman Foundation.

According to the ranking:

Overall friendliness C+

Ease of starting a business B
Ease of hiring D+
Regulations D
Health & safety D
Employment, labor & hiring D
Tax code D+
Licensing C-
Environmental D
Zoning D+
Training & networking programs B+

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CEO Magazine

CEO magazine was not kind to Oregon.

The state ranked in the bottom ten states at #42.

Oregon get lumped by CEO's as being California like - too much regulation.

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The 2015 rankings puts Oregon in the top 20. Oregon ranks #18 in the United States. 

NY ranks one spot ahead at #17 and Florida ranks after Oregon.

#1 in the United States: Utah

#50 in the United States: Mississippi

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Oregon has been ranked as the 2nd most eco-friendly state in the country, according to a recent study by WalletHub

Oregon ranks eighth in environmental quality and first in Eco-Friendly Behaviors landing them in second overall. 

Oregon is behind Vermont and ahead of New York and Minnesota who land in the third and fourth spots respectively. 

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The Economist

Small Business Friendliness Grade: C+

The Economist grades states on an A+ to F grading scale for its small business climate. Oregon is one of 4 states that earned a "C+"

Overbearing bureaucracy and excessive licensing is stifling small business in America. 

Read More About The Economist Grade Here

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#22 CNBC

CNBC ranks each state in cost of doing business, economy, technology and innovation.

Read More About CNBC Ranking Here

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Wallet Hub

#28 Wallet Hub

Wallet Hub ranks each state in ROI rank, state tax rank, and overall government services.

Read More About Wallet Hub Ranking Here

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#38 Kauffman Foundation

Kauffman Foundation ranks each state in entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurial activity generally is highest in Western and Southern states and lowest in Midwestern and Northeastern states.

Read More About Kauffman Ranking Here

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#19 Forbes in 2014

Forbes ranks each state in business costs, economic climate, and growth prospects.

Read More About Forbes Rankings Here


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