Who Regulates Your Wallet?

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on October 16, 2009

ConfusionFair business practices and consumer rights in the credit card industry are being regulated by six different entities depending on the classification of the card issuer.  This fragmented system exists despite the fact that the rules regarding business practices and consumer rights laws are the same for all credit card issuers.

Imagine you discover a burglar in your house and call the police.  They arrive to make an arrest, but when they show up, they do nothing.  They tell you you’ve called the wrong police.  The police officers that arrived at your home only deal with criminals whose last name start with Q through S and this guy’s last name starts with a B.  Moreover, the officers who are in your home tell you they won’t call the officers who deal with bad guys with last names beginning in B because they’re in competition with each other.  Too bad too, because the guys who showed up are really good at prosecuting burglars but the guys you should have called are a little behind the times in that capacity.  And of course, because of the competition, the two different police departments don’t share information.

All Drivers MUST Have Car Insurance & All Citizens MUST Have Health Insurance

by Brian Johnson on October 14, 2009

medicalThe latest version of the health care legislation has weakened the requirement that all Americans must have health insurance. Coupled with the inability under the proposed law for health insurance companies to deny coverage to people for poor health, this concession would mean that Americans could purchase insurance at any time and therefore would have little or no motivation to get health insurance while still healthy.

What Washington has failed to account for is that the very idea of insurance is based on the idea of spreading the costs between people who file a claim and those who do not. The cost of premiums is kept down precisely because some people will not die within the span of a term life insurance policy, or will not have a car accident, in the case of an auto insurance policy.

Stocks are Overvalued

by Brian Johnson on October 13, 2009

A while back we wrote a piece describing the basic problems with Bullish opinions currently circulating about the end of the recession.  In that article, we showed the various continued symptoms of our nation’s economic problems and the signs that we are still in a very real recession, even if abstract economic terminology currently suggests otherwise.  Recently, I came across the following graph in an article by Henry Blodget, and I think that it shows further evidence that the stock market is already overvalued and the bulls are wrong about their predictions.


Ink Bold vs. AmEx Gold Card: Who Wins?

by Lynn B. Johnson on October 9, 2009

Ink Bold Charge CardLast week, banking powerhouse JP Morgan Chase launched a charge card for small businesses. This is the first charge card to be offered by any major Visa/MasterCard issuer, as American Express locked up that marketplace a long time ago.

The new business charge card is called Ink Bold, and, as with any charge card, monthly balances must be paid in full each billing period. Ink Bold most closely resembles the Gold Card from American Express OPEN. Let’s compare some typical features:

Regulatory Redundancy Hurts Consumers

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on October 8, 2009

RedundancyAs we all know, the competitiveness of U.S. companies is measured by their ability to innovate and also by their operating costs.  Operating costs can come in the forms of labor and overhead, but they are also the result of less tangible forces like those produced by a nation’s laws, regulatory bureaucracies and taxes.  As a nation, we need to recognize that we are unlikely to meet competitive equality with China or India as far as labor costs are concerned.  Instead, we should focus our attention on reducing the other elements that contribute to the cost of doing business in the United States.  A large part of that can be traced to complying with the various regulatory bodies.

The insurance industry, which is regulated at the state level rather than the federal level, provides a prime example of how over-regulation can significantly increase the operating costs of a business.  If insurance were regulated at the federal level, the number of regulatory bodies would be reduced from 50 to 1.  This would allow insurance providers to both lower their cost structure and more easily compete on a national level.  Moreover, a single regulatory body for the U.S. insurance industry would monitor the industry more efficiently than would 50 such bodies working independently of one another.  The reduced bureaucracy, the increased efficiency in regulation and the resultant increase in market competition would pass savings on to American consumers.

Plan Ahead to Save Money on Halloween Costumes

by Lynn B. Johnson on October 6, 2009

Halloween Plan AheadIf you or someone you buy for is planning to dress in costume for Halloween, you can save big money by taking care of those needs right now instead of a couple of days prior to October 31st.

For the younger set, Toys “R” Us/Babies “R” Us lets you save $10 on purchases of $30 or more if you’re a new “Bill Me Later” customer, subject to credit approval.

Congress Can't Police Themselves

by Brian Johnson on October 5, 2009

ScandalRecently, we’ve printed a number of articles concerning the need for Congress to change the way they do business and the overall difficulty of putting such changes into effect.  The current laws concerning politicians and the disclosure of funds raised by lobbyists is a perfect example of just what happens when Congress decides to police its own excesses.

First, some explanation.  Lobbyists want the ear of politicians so that they can convince them to vote their way on some issue.  How do they convince politicians that their side is in the right?  Strong rhetoric?  Sound argument?  No.  They use money and campaign contributions.  They, essentially, attempt to buy votes.

Consumer Protection & Prudential Protection Go Hand in Hand

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on October 1, 2009

hand-in-handIn response to my recent blog post, “Modified Plans for the Consumer Agency Still Doomed to Fail,” I received an email from Reuters blogger Felix Salmon that questioned the idea that consumer protection and prudential protection can coexist.  In layman’s terms, Felix’s challenge was that what’s bad for the card issuer is inherently good for the consumer and vice versa.  Given that this is a question that many people likely have, my response to Felix follows:

It’s important to remember that one of the best ways to protect consumers is to prevent them from securing loans that they clearly cannot afford (i.e. “toxic loans).  As you very well know, when someone gets a loan that is significantly higher than what they can afford, they get into all kinds of trouble, including being forced into bankruptcy and/or foreclosure.  As it stands now, prudential protection and consumer protection are combined, and there are various regulatory agencies that have the knowledge, experience and authority to prevent toxic products to the market. Unfortunately they’ve been asleep at the wheel. Under the CFPA prudential protection and consumer protection will be split.  This means that the very agency responsible for protecting consumers won’t have the required data or experience, not to mention the authority, to protect consumers against toxic products. 

Modified Plans for the Consumer Agency Still Doomed to Fail

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on September 30, 2009

Consumer Financial Protection AgencyLast week, Representative Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, made a push to scale back the proposal for the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA), part of a financial regulatory reform bill, which is expected to be voted on by the end of the year.  Some of the paring down of the CPFA includes the elimination of the requirement for financial firms to offer plain “vanilla” products and services, such as mortgages with simple terms and credit cards with easy to understand contracts.  Additionally, in the memo that was circulated by Rep. Frank, outlining the modifications he envisions with respect to the CFPA, it was noted that, “ the CFPA will not have authority to approve or change business plans” for financial institutions.  As one would imagine, plans for the CFPA have been amended in order to assuage industry concerns about its restrictiveness and to appease legislators whose support is needed if the full bill is to pass through Congress. 

This is par for the course in Washington, and we’ve all seen how much the healthcare bill has shifted over the past few months.  However, the CFPA has been doomed from the start because it is disjointed at its core, and no amount of amendments or adjustments will fix the problems that are inherent to this new regulatory agency.  The CFPA won’t work because its basis is the idea that consumer protection can be separated from the oversight of the soundness of the financial institutions themselves.  Thus, while Congress and the Obama administration have been spot on in their diagnosis of the problems that plague America’s financial regulatory system, embracing the CFPA as a solution will not help the industry nor will it protect consumers.

How Congress Crippled the FDIC

by Brian Johnson on September 30, 2009

FDICRecent waves of bank failures, and the expected continuance of those failures, has put the FDIC in an uncomfortable position.  Covering the accounts held by the failing banks is depleting the FDIC’s coffers, leaving them with only two options on how to get that money back.  Unfortunately, neither option is particularly attractive. 

On one hand, the FDIC could borrow the money from the Treasury, but the size of the FDIC and its position as a bedrock American financial institution loads its actions with enormous relevance for the rest of the economy.  If the FDIC has to borrow money from the Treasury for the first time in twenty years, it creates serious doubts concerning the strength of our economy and our recovery.  If there is another large collapse, moreover, having already borrowed money from the Treasury, the FDIC will be in a more precarious position to guarantee the safety of America’s bank accounts.  On the other hand, if the FDIC decides to turn to the industry to build up its funds by charging banks more insurance fees, it will end up putting more ‘at risk’ banks into further danger of collapse, which would, in turn, force the FDIC to cover those accounts.

Credit Card Laws That We Don't Need

by Brian Johnson on September 29, 2009

swiping-credit-cardIf you are like most Americans, you often use credit cards for your purchases.  Behind the scenes, when you swipe your credit or debit card through the machine, the merchant pays a small fee to their bank (i.e. interchange fee) for the ability to accept credit card transactions.  Let us be blunt about this: if the business wants your money, then they would be smart to pay these fees because cash transactions are becoming rarer with each passing day.  ‘Cash only’ businesses are becoming a thing of the past. 

The merchants themselves are becoming increasingly irate that they have to pay these fees to allow their customers to use credit cards and are now turning to the nation’s lawmakers for help.  Bills are already headed for Congress which would allow merchants to enter into collective bargaining with the banks and would make it easier for merchants to steer customers to other forms of payments and let them set minimum and maximum amounts for credit card purchases.

The SEC Can Not Fix Broken Governance - Shareholders Can

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on September 28, 2009

share-holdersAll along it has been our contention at Wallet Blog, that the board of director’s system for American public companies is in need of significant repair.  Specifically, its problem is that shareholders lack the ability to control who serves on the board of directors of their own companies at any point in time.

Lately, we have seen more and more stories in the financial news telling us that the various boards of directors of American public companies have acted in ways that are either suspicious, irresponsible, or just plain illegal.  With each such story, we see the SEC attempting to curb the corporate excesses one problem at a time.  In a recent story, the SEC has begun investigating the role of consulting firms in setting salaries for CEOs.  Specifically, the question is whether recommendations about CEO pay packages are compromised when the same consulting firm hired by the board also provides other services to the company? In other words, are these consulting companies providing generous recommendations to the board about the CEOs pay packages in order to keep the CEO happy and minimize the chances that the CEO replaces them with another consulting firm for all the other services that they provide?

Bring Change to Congress

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on September 25, 2009

CongressEach member of Congress, with an ear for his or her community will hear thousands of ideas about what they should or should not be doing, and where they should or should not lend their support.  With 535 members of Congress, it is only natural that the network of ideas, beliefs, stances, and opinions are fairly complicated.  We can expect that the majority rule will allow some of these ideas to make into law.  We cannot expect, however, that a change in the manner by which Congress conducts business will ever gather the steam necessary to become law. 

Congress is designed to make moves in the nation’s political game; it is not designed to change the rules of that game.  When the public votes for a Senator or Representative, they vote for an individual and not a vision of how Congress should conduct its business.

Politicians Forget Their Accountability for the Financial Mess

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on September 23, 2009

HypocrisyOn the anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, President Obama warned the financial community that there wouldn’t be any more bailouts and that the age of Wall Street greed and reckless mismanagement would have to come to an end.  We completely agree with this position, but we also think that it is hypocritical that some modified version of this sentiment wasn’t delivered to Congress as well.  

Whatever is said about Credit Default Swaps and the other exotic financial products that caused the near total collapse of the global financial system, they were (and still are) legal.  Moreover, they were made legal after 91 years of being illegal by the  Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 which was piggybacked onto a much larger bill, presented at the last minute before Christmas recess, allowed to bypass committees and was passed by Republicans and Democrats alike.  It was this law that created an unregulated $63 Trillion market  and set on its course to blow up in the face of the American taxpayer.   

Shareholders Are Helpless in Controling Their Companies - Judge Agrees

by Brian Johnson on September 22, 2009

helplessRecently, a judge denied Bank of America’s attempt to settle with the SEC for $33 million dollars under accusations that the Bank presented false information to its shareholders about Merrill Lynch employee compensation packages.  The judge reasoned that the $33 million would end up being paid by shareholders, effectively forcing them to pay a bill twice which they should have never had to pay at all.  While we agree with the decision we clearly can not continue operating in a manner where shareholders are helpless in running their own companies.

Does it not seem odd that the owners of the company are not responsible for hiring corrupt or incompetent management or for allowing that corruption to continue?  Unfortunately, the reality with the current Board of Directors system is that shareholders cannot be responsible because they have very little power to decide who will sit on that board or to quickly remove board members when their attitudes or behaviors work against the shareholder interests.  If shareholders could have ousted Ken Lewis at any point in time, then they should have been responsible for any wrongdoings under his leadership. 

Credit Card Ratings by J.D. Power and Associates

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on September 21, 2009

RatingsJ.D. Power and Associates recently released the results of a customer satisfaction survey of credit card issuers in conjunction with their 2009 consumer satisfaction awards.   According to J.D. Power and Associates:  “The study measures customer satisfaction with credit cards by examining six key factors: interaction; fees and rates; billing and payment process; rewards; benefits and services; and problem resolution.”

In these categories, they found that Discover Card and American Express Credit Cards topped the list in nearly every category along with National City (except in the category of Problem Resolution where the sample size was too small).  American Express ultimately received the J.D. Power and Associates Award for Credit Card Satisfaction.  In some categories, these big three were rivaled by Wells Fargo.  U.S.  Bank also, notably, scored above average in Fees and scored an outstanding in Problem Resolution.  Target Visa, WaMu, GE Money, Credit One Bank, and First Premier Bank scored below average (2 out of 5) across nearly all categories.  Interestingly enough, Bank of America scored only average in all but two categories (Rewards and Problem Resolution) where it scored below average.

Universal Coverage for…Car Insurance???

by Alexandra McDougald on September 18, 2009

Car WreckA few weeks ago, in the middle of the evening rush hour and during one of Washington, D.C.’s infamous summer rainstorms, I was side swiped.  The fault was completely on the part of the driver that hit me.  After this lovely woman insisted, while screaming at the top of her lungs, that the accident was my fault, we exchanged the necessary information.  I looked down to the portion of the torn piece of paper where she had written her insurance information, and saw that she had listed a company called MAIF as her automobile insurer.  I thought innocently, “huh, never heard of these guys before.”

When I got home I Googled “MAIF,” and was shocked at what came up.  Turns out MAIF stands for the Maryland Auto Insurance Fund, which was, according to the Web site, “created by the Maryland State Legislature in 1972 for the purpose of providing automobile liability insurance for those residents of the State of Maryland who are unable to obtain it elsewhere in the private insurance market.”  What does this mean?  It means the state of Maryland has a government run and subsidized car insurance program for residents who have been priced out of the commercial auto insurance market.  This usually happens due to drivers being involved in multiple car accidents, which causes insurance premiums to increase until they eventually become unaffordable.  I’m not a resident of Maryland, and I’m a liberal who believes in big government, but I’d be pretty teed off if I knew that even one penny of my tax dollars was going directly or indirectly towards a program that seems to have been designed to help insure reckless drivers.  I’m all for universal coverage when it comes to health insurance, but for car insurance – nope not on my dime. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Agency -- A Step in the Wrong Direction

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on September 16, 2009

Wrong WayAs Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, which has been charged with reviewing the current state of financial markets and the regulatory system, Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren has been quite vocal in her support of the administration’s proposal for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).  The CFPA would be the regulatory body that ensures that financial institutions provide clear and simple disclosures, which would ostensibly deter consumers from opting for risky and “exotic” financial products, and would be the eighth agency involved in consumer credit regulation.  While I agree that there has been little effectiveness in the regulatory system as far as consumer financial protection is concerned, this is no reason to create yet another agency.  The CFPA, which was actually conceived by professor Warren several years ago, would separate the regulation that provides consumer financial protection from the regulation that ensures the banks that serve these consumers are solvent, and do not introduce toxic products to the market.  If our hope is for a solid financial system, then it must be understood that these two areas of regulation go hand-in-hand.  Warren is right, “the credit market is broken,” but she herself proves that the CFPA won’t fix it. 

Warren lays out her arguments for the CFPA in two articles that appeared recently in Business Week and in The Baseline Scenario.  While she is spot on in her analysis of the nature of the problems that plague our financial system, her solutions do not address the problems that she identifies.  It’s true, traditional financial products cannot compete with “exotic” products whose terms seem attractive up front, but hide surprises and changes that are revealed only after the consumer has committed.  Further, the more complex these “exotic” financial products become, the less able consumers are to make comparisons.  Right now our financial system lacks a level-playing field, transparent in its operation, which encourages competition, and also engenders product innovation. 

Obama Needs to Borrow Some Military Strategies

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on September 15, 2009

Military StrategiesWhat is the greatest issue facing America right now?  Is it the crisis of non-renewable energy sources, financial regulation reform, health care reform, or the recession and the stimulus package?  I think we’d all agree that all of these are major issues regardless of our viewpoints about the right solution.  The attention given by President Obama to these issues suggests that he, too, sees these problems as requiring immediate attention.  As such, his administration has set about dealing with all of them at once.

The result is that no particular issue gains the necessary momentum to answer opposition in Congress, and nothing can be done without Congress’s approval.  So, President Obama’s plans are taking far too long and are being swept under by waves of resistance despite the fact that the country needs solutions.  By attempting to solve all these problems in parallel, he is failing to decisively solve any of them.

The Associated Press does it again! Do they even know how to read statistics?

by Brian Johnson on September 10, 2009

UnemploymentAccording to Associated Press Economics Writer Christopher S. Rugaber, the recession is showing signs of recovery because 10,000 fewer people filed for unemployment benefits than the figure projected by economic analysts.  Another sign of recovery, according to Rugaber, is that the number of people receiving unemployment benefits fell 159,000 to 6.1 million.  Of course, that’s a tricky number as it’s clear by the rise in the overall unemployment rate that the drop in unemployment benefits wasn’t due to people finding jobs, but to people losing their benefits. In other words, they’re now out of work and out of income.  What I’d like to know is: how does Rugaber read these figures and determine that these are positive signs of recovery?

Let me first address the figure upon which Rugaber seems to base the lion’s share of his opinion:  analysts predicted that American companies would lay off 560,000 workers last month and as it turned out, they only laid off 550,000.  Let us be reasonable about this: both numbers are staggering.  Either number indicates half a million people.

Quick Hit: $25 Gift Certificates for One Dollar

by Lynn B. Johnson on September 10, 2009

For a very limited time, Restaurant.com is offering gift certificates worth $25 for the price of $1. Just enter the Discount Code NINETY at checkout and hit “apply.” Oh, and be sure to say “no thanks” when they ask if you want to complete the survey, because if you click “yes” you’ll get charged an additional twenty bucks.

This offer is good for 99 hours starting 9/9/09, so act quickly!

The Bulls Are Wrong About Our Economic Recovery

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on September 10, 2009

RecessionThe bulls are pointing to the end of a recession and a robust recovery ahead for the American economy.  Their optimism is based on a definition of the recession, in economic terms.  For economists, a recession ends when the economy ends its negative growth.   These terms, however, are theoretical.  In practice, a robust recovery must parallel a robust recovery at the American household level, which is unlikely to happen for a number of reasons: 

  • The Unemployment rate:  We hear a good deal of optimism coming from economists concerning the fact that the unemployment rate is slowing, but we ought to remember that it isn’t actually going down, but continues to rise.  According to the Associated Press, we are at the worst unemployment crisis since 1983 and economists are predicting the unemployment rate to peak above 10% by the middle of next year. 
  • State Deficits:  We are suffering huge deficits at the state level which the Federal Stimulus package can not correct.  This means additional job losses for state employees.
  • Unemployment Insurance:  Not only is America facing a dangerously high unemployment rate, but the unemployment level in this country has been high for so long that benefits are now running out.  We are in a situation far worse than simply having people who are out of work; they are out of work, have few prospects for new jobs, and are receiving no income.
  • Continuing Bank Failures:  Despite the federal government’s intervention, we continue to see banks fail.  The number of banks on the FDIC’s “Problem List” (banks in danger of failing) has gone from 305 to 416 at the end of June ’09.  Some analysts are afraid that the FDIC will go into the red by the end of this year.
  • Continuing Credit Crunch:  In these uncertain times, credit markets continue to be very tight.  Because of the continuing failure of the nation’s banks, regulators and bank executive remain cautious, which means less credit availability.  Companies who need to deal with debts that are coming to maturity are likely to find less opportunity to refinance.  As a result, we can expect more corporate bankruptcies and more job losses.   

Many economists are calling for more stimulus money by the federal government, but it is clear that what the country really needs is smarter spending.  We desperately need to make investments with government funds that will deliver strong returns on the nation’s money, and thus, we believe that the federal government ought to invest in new technologies that will turn America’s trade deficits into strong surpluses. It is precisely for that reason that this is the right time for a ‘Manhattan Project’ on energy independence.

10 (Plus One) Fabulous Free Finds for You

by Lynn B. Johnson on September 9, 2009

freebiesYeah, between summer vacations and back-to-school, my wallet’s pretty tapped out. Yours too? How about a nice change of pace: free stuff!

  1. Free TV and Movies: Seems like there’s nothing good on TV these days; good thing we’ve got Hulu.com as our go-to source for TV-over-the-Internet. Not only do they have hundreds of shows cataloged on their site, they’ll also tell you where to find other favorites. An umbrella site, ovguide.com, also serves as a massive pointer toward other TV and movie favorites.
  2. Free Debt Help: feeling overextended? Evolution Finance (EF) just completed a new credit card debt help area. It’s chock-full of tips, definitions, and referrals for people who are feeling a little overwhelmed (or a lot overwhelmed) and want to get their debt load under control. EF is also the parent company of Wallet Blog, so I’m happy to assure you that it’s worth a look.
  3. Free Music Education: Always wanted to learn to play the ukulele? Ukulele Underground offers free online video ukulele lessons, tabs, chords, and more. Go Piano offers free piano lessons from basic to advanced. And eHow offers a series of 15 videos that will get you started on the road to violin virtuosity. There are similar lessons on the Internet for every instrument — just type “free online <instrument> lessons” into your search engine and watch it go!
  4. Free Food for Kids: About.com’s travel with kids host has cataloged many sites that offer coupons or information about where kids can eat for free (usually while dining with an adult who pays full price).
  5. Free Time-Sucker: Facebook. ‘Nuff said.
  6. Free Money for College: Besides the myriad grants and fellowships out there, you can start saving for your kids’ college now by registering for Upromise. By shopping online through upromise.com, eating at participating restaurants, or shopping at participating stores, you can be credited with bonus money in a Upromise account that can then be rolled over into a 529 account. Makes sense!
  7. Free Mind Expansion: Find Hub is a compilation of all major search engines in one place. From comparison shopping to videos, from travel to maps and a dictionary to help you define it all, it’s a one-stop site and super convenient (and yeah, it’s under the Evolution Finance umbrella too, but it’s really helpful and you’ll like it).
  8. Free Stationery: Once you register for Vistaprint, you’ll receive about four emails a week and they’ll all offer you free printed items. It costs a little more to upload your own designs (rather than using their templates), but it’s worth it! I’ve ordered from them for years and have never been disappointed — just make sure that you double-check that they don’t put their logo on the back side of anything you’re ordering.
  9. Free Comparison Shopping: How did we ever save money before the Internet? Whether you’re looking for travel deals on Kayak.com, item deals on Shopping.com, credit card/gift card/prepaid card deals on Card Hub, or mortgage deals on Lending Tree, the Web is chock-full of sites that help you become a savvier consumer. Thanks, Tim Berners-Lee!
  10. Free Credit Report: You are allowed one free credit report per credit-reporting agency each year. Get in on the fun at annualcreditreport.com. Watch out for other outfits that promise a “free” credit report — they usually sucker people into paying a subscription fee.
  11. Free Software: Paying for software is so 1999. Nowadays you can use Google Apps for your personal and business use. Microsoft Office replacements are available online at OpenOffice, and you can keep  your PC safe via AVG’s free anti-virus protection.

Disclosure: Some links point to CardHub.com or FindHub.com, which are both owned by the same parent company as this blog.

Couponing without the Hassle

by Lynn B. Johnson on September 8, 2009

couponingDo you feel guilty that even though a dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to, you’re still not clipping coupons out of the weekly newspaper circulars? “Couponing” is one craze that we should all take advantage of — especially with so many grocery stores now offering double-coupon values when you give them a single coupon — but it’s such a pain in the neck! First you have to get your hands on a local newspaper, then go through the slippery circulars, clip the coupons you think you might actually need while avoiding the ones that make you want to buy unwanted items, then organize them in some sort of order, and finally, remember to take them to the grocery store. It’s exhausting.

Happily, a new online company has taken the hassle out of coupon-clipping. Shortcuts.com, a service of AOL, offers free online grocery coupons that link to your grocery store loyalty/rewards card.

Cash-For-Clunkers Wrap-Up

by Lynn B. Johnson on September 1, 2009

gas-guzzlerWell, the Cash for Clunkers program, aka CARS, ended on August 24th. The original $1 billion, which lawmakers thought would last until October, was gone within two weeks, which prompted lawmakers to grant another $2 billion towards the program.

Ultimately, CARS increased car sales, and the sales of more environmentally friendly cars, while removing junkers from the road. It offered a shot in the arm to ailing car dealerships and the U.S. auto industry at large.

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