A bleak future for taxes
Most financial advisors predict that taxes will go up in the near future—the government’s revenue shortfalls mean they pretty much have to, says Ben Steverman in BusinessWeek. But which taxes? By how much? And when? Experts think Uncle Sam will keep the status quo in 2010, so “with taxes on income, capital gains, and dividends now at historical lows, the next 15 months may be the best time to be paying taxes.” You may want to consider taking profits on certain long-term investments soon. The same conditions also make this a good time to take a lump-sum retirement, or to sell a business. “Remain flexible,” however, and avoid drastic measures. Complicated deductions, tax shelters, or “other schemes” will do you no good if Congress makes them obsolete.
How to get in on China
If you’re wondering whether to allocate some of your retirement portfolio to investments in China, the answer is a “resounding yes,” said James Glassman in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. The continuing economic development of this hugely populous nation remains the century’s “most compelling economic story.” While gross domestic product of the U.S. sank 6.1 percent during the first quarter of this year, China’s GDP was up 6.1 percent. That upward trend is expected to continue, thanks to the country’s increasing consumerism. The Morgan Stanley China closed-end fund is about as close to investing directly in China as foreigners can get, but an exchange-traded fund may offer lower expense ratios and less volatility. Try the iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index.
Credit cards: No longer for kids
Mailboxes stuffed with credit card offers and card-related freebies have become part of the college experience, said AnnaMaria Andriotis in SmartMoney. But that’s about to change. As of Feb. 22, 2010, lenders won’t be able to solicit anyone under 21 without their explicit permission. And say goodbye to free T-shirts, instant credit approval, and other promotions. When the new rules kick in, underage customers will need to submit a written application with a qualified co-signer or otherwise prove that they have sufficient income to pay their bills. Of course, that February deadline means that issuers still have several months to woo young cardholders—so expect to see a rush of offers in the near future.