Best business commentary
February 21, 2008
The oil markets speak
“Naysayers” arguing that oil prices are artificially high “keep getting drowned out by the sound of the markets,” said USA Today in an editorial. Oil prices have tripled in four years, to today’s $100 a barrel. “Better get used to it.” Increasing demand and unsteady supply have made $30-a-barrel oil and $2-a-gallon gas things of the past. This will feel like “a new tax on transportation, heating, and manufacturing,” but there might be some “upsides.” If higher prices help “wean” us off oil and boost investment in green technologies, maybe it’s “the markets’ way of imposing an energy policy when national leaders fail to devise one of their own.”
Shopping the shrinking student loan market
Student loans are going the way of home mortgages, says Andrea Coombes in MarketWatch, with higher interest rates and fewer lenders. If you need a student loan, first look to banks, which are diversified and have more money free to lend than “nonbank lenders,” where student loans are “their bread and butter.” A lender you already work with is a good place to start, and a co-signer might “beef up” your credit score. And “don’t forget the financial-aid office.” You might have to “be persistent” with these offices, but “remember, by the time a school accepts you as a student it’s invested a fair amount of money in you” already.
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