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Do not look for trust at major brokerages

The poor Saint Anthony Foundation will have to sue Citibank to get its money back from what was purported to be a money-market fund. I found myself wondering why anyone thinks major financial institutions are worth trusting for advice.

In a sea of some 350,000 Citibank employees, how could any one of them feel any personal responsibility to do the right thing for an organization that just feeds and shelters homeless people.

Investors who exited seek way back in

"The market rises on a wall of worry." For those who bailed out at some point during the downdraft, it's now a "wailing wall."

Those folks have missed the "snapback," and are gnashing their teeth trying to decide when, if ever, to expose themselves to risk again. Current statistics reveal that investors still have 43 percent of their money in fixed income (cash or bonds) and this is after a 62 percent rise in market values since March.

Alternative to 401(k) plans not in your interest

So, there I was last Thursday on WNYC radio, the public broadcasting station of New York City, where I was rebutting the recent Time magazine article that called for "retiring the 401(k)" because of the latter's apparent failure. I can't beat these people off with a stick. On Brian Lehrer's show, I was pitted against Stephen Gandel, the author of the cover article that was riddled with errors and half truths.

Regulations help keep bankers honest

"Death panels" for institutions "too big to fail" sounds like a good idea to me. The concept was voiced by Barney Frank in describing what Congress has in store for the financial services industry. We should have remembered the last experiment with unfettered free markets when we deregulated the Savings and Loan industry. Over 3,500 executives went to prison. Fortune magazine ran a hilarious two-page spread with hundreds of tiny mug shots.

Health care solution by one reader

Last week's health care column triggered a flood of e-mail from readers. Most agreed that something needed to change, and they cited their specific frustrating examples in dealing with the prevailing system.
Those few happy with the status quo don't have much sympathy for the 45 million uninsured, but they are forgetting one thing: It's not the same 45 million from year to year.

Health care costs fuel reform call

I was stunned last week to learn that the health insurance premium my company pays for my wife and me (we're in our 60s) is $1,827 per month. What am I getting for $22,000 per year? Not even a death panel. It's a $2,200 deductible plan with a stop-loss of $4,400 for the two of us combined. This is through Blue Shield, which is still operated as a nonprofit.

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