Thursday, May 6, 2010

ETR: Why Is This Man Smiling?

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Issue No. 3017 - $1.00

Thursday, May 6, 2010

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Why Is This Man Smiling?
By Bob Irish

JP Morgan Chase Picture

Do you recognize this man? It's Jamie Diamond, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, and he's got plenty of reasons to be smiling. His bank still exists because of the taxpayer bailout. So, thanks to you and me, his paycheck last year wasn't bad. $16 million.

And, again thanks to you and me, his bank is able to borrow money (our money) from the Fed at virtually no cost and then turn around and lend it out at a big profit. How big? JPMorgan Chase reported $11.7 billion in profit in 2009.

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like I've been ripped off. Clearly, though, a lot of Americans don't feel that they've done enough for Mr. Diamond and the rest of our nation's bankers. They want to do even more. Are you one of them? Maybe you are but you don't even know it.

Let's look at how we can continue to help the Jamie Diamonds of this world.

What You Get

What are you doing with your safe money? Maybe you have a few CDs? If you look online for Chase's CD rates, this is what you will find:


Or maybe your sacred money is in a money market account with Chase. It's currently paying 0.02 percent. Or maybe you've got a Chase Premier Platinum Checking account? It's paying 0.01 percent. So if you want to keep Mr. Diamond in $4,000 suits, just pick one of the above. He doesn't care which one you choose. Regardless, he'll use your money to get a much better return.

What the Bank Gets

When you deposit money with Chase (or any bank), they pay you interest. Last year, according to their annual report, Chase paid out $4.6 billion in interest to depositors.

The money they don't lend out they invest. Some of your money goes into bonds -- mortgage-backed, Treasuries, and corporates. Last year, the bank took in $12 billion in interest from their bond portfolio.

So they're paying a small fraction of what they earn to depositors. And while they're making over 22 percent from their own bond investing, you're making less than 1 percent in most instances.

That's the real reason Jamie Diamond is smiling. He's got hisself a no-lose proposition!

Now you've got a choice. You can either keep on giving to our county's privileged bankers -- or you can take the Jamie Diamonds of this world out of the loop and start making the kind of safe profits the banks make.

Cut Out the Middle Man!

Do you buy your stocks online? I do. I save money on every trade by cutting out the middle man (the broker).

I cut out the middle man when I buy tires, too. I go to Tire Their wholesale prices save me nearly $100 per tire.

I shop at Costco. And like every membership warehouse club, they cut out the middle man to save their customers money.

If you could sell your $400,000 house without a realtor, would you? Of course you would. By cutting out the middle man, you'd save $24,000 in real estate commissions.

It's the right thing to do. So why haven't you cut out the middle man when you invest your safe money?

Fact is, you can invest your money the same way the banks do... in the same place where Chase invested $54 billion of their depositors' dollars. And by cutting out the middle man, you can make for yourself the same type of returns the banks makes on your money.

Where the Banks Invest

Last year, Chase invested over $54 billion of their depositors' dollars in corporate bonds. Corporate bonds. The same safe investment vehicle used by large financial institutions like insurance companies and pension funds. And they booked big gains.

The banks know this market and are savvy enough to choose the right bonds. Now, thanks to Steve McDonald, an analyst and bond expert with ETR's sister publication, Investor's Daily Edge, so can you.

Steve's Secret

Each bond on the market is issued at a "face value" of $1,000. Over a period of time, various market factors can cause a bond to trade for less than that par value -- at a discount to the amount to be paid at maturity.

Almost every bond Steve recommends is trading at a discount. So not only do you collect your interest like clockwork, you enjoy capital gains. Add the two together, and you get your "total return."

Does It Really Work?

And how. Let me give you an example.

Last year on June 2, Steve recommended a Textron bond that was to mature in 2014. The bond was paying interest at 5.125 percent. The going price when he purchased it was $840, which equated to a discount of $160 ($1,000 minus $840).

Just four months later, on October 27, Steve sent an alert to his subscribers to sell the Textron bond at $940 to $950.

Let's say you purchased five of the Textron bonds. Your cost was $4,200. Had you sold those bonds on October 27 for $940, you would have ended up with $4,843.50. A profit of $643.50! That's $93.50 in interest and $550 in capital gains.

Here are a couple of Steve's other actual trades:

  • Genworth

5.75 percent coupon, maturity date 6/2014, "A" rated
Recommended at 71.3 on 6/23/09, sold at 86 on 9/15/09
Expected return: 16 percent annualized
Actual return: 90.5 percent annualized

  • Merrill Lynch

6.05 percent coupon, maturity date 8/2012, "A" rated
Recommended at 87 on 3/31/09, sold at 102 on 8/19/09
Expected return: 11.3 percent annualized
Actual return: 56.7 percent annualized

Is It Safe?

The above returns are so impressive you might get the sense that they involve a lot of risk. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This type of debt investing has an 80-year history of incredible consistency. According to Moody's, between 1925 and 2005 only 0.23 percent of investment grade bonds (the kind Steve recommends) defaulted. This means that 99.77 percent of these types of investments performed as contractually obligated!

Take it from one of Steve's subscribers, Les M.: "What I appreciate is I sleep at night."

What Has the Middle Man Ever Done for You?

Most investors are unaware of this opportunity -- and it shouldn't surprise you to hear that Wall Street doesn't go out of its way to educate investors on this strategy.

Once you see how profitable and safe this type of investing is, you may never put another dollar into a CD or money market account again. So don't let the banks continue to fleece you. Take Jamie out of the loop. Then you'll be smiling instead of him.

If you'd like to know more about this super-safe alternative to the paltry yields available at the bank, click here.

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The Language Perfectionist: Can You Be Too Correct?

By Don Hauptman

English has rules that should be respected. One purpose of this column is to encourage proper use of the language. But a problem sometimes arises: People try to apply a rule with excessive conscientiousness and wind up, ironically, committing another kind of error. This phenomenon is called hypercorrection.

The classic example involves personal pronouns. Schoolchildren are taught not to use "me" in the subject of a sentence. Thus, "Jim and me are going to the baseball game" should be "Jim and I are going...."

But some folks misconstrue the lesson and say, for example, "I'll tell you how much he was paid, but the amount is just between you and I." In this case, because the pronouns are the object of the preposition "between" -- not the subject of the sentence -- it should read "between you and me."

Another common error -- again mistaking the subject for the object -- is the use of "who" where "whom" is correct. "Who do you admire most?" should be "Whom do you admire most?" In this case, "whom" is the object of the admiration.

But here, too, some people misapply the who (subject) / whom (object) rule and make the opposite mistake. I found this sentence in a newspaper article online: "He fully accepts responsibility... for the situation into which he put his wife, whom he knows is entirely blameless in all of this." It should read: "who he knows is entirely blameless...."

Here's a helpful tip if you're ever in doubt: Mentally remove the peripheral phrase -- in this case, "he knows." Then it becomes clear that it's the wife "who is" blameless. No one would ever say "whom is."

Finally, usage guru Bryan A. Garner notes an interesting instance of hypercorrection, which he calls "false Latin plurals." Because people are aware that, for example, the plural of syllabus is syllabi, they mistakenly echo the rule where it doesn't apply -- by saying, for example, octopi (octopuses is correct) or apparati (apparatuses is correct).

I'm reminded of an old joke about a bartender puzzled by a customer who orders a "martinus." Why? Because he wants one martini, not two.

[Ed Note: For more than three decades, Don Hauptman was an award-winning independent direct-response copywriter and creative consultant. He is author of The Versatile Freelancer, an e-book that shows writers and other creative professionals how to diversify their careers into speaking, consulting, training, and critiquing.]

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