Sallie Mae, What A Tramp…

Me Top Dog.  You... not.

Whilst Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) are languishing in  penny-stock purgatory, SLM Corporation (Nasdaq: SLM), or Sallie Mae as it's commonly known, is doing just fine, thank you very much. A former government-sponsored enterprise (GSE), SLM Corporation enjoys tidy profits of over 12% on yearly revenue of around $6 billion, reasonable returns on equity,  and a nice little 2.97% yield (for you dividend hounds). On the face of it, SLM appears to be a decent good place to invest  (more on that later, things are not what they seem). Sallie Mae, Flying Low Under The Radar Chances are most people have only heard of Sallie Mae in the context of Freddie Mac, Farmer Mac,  and Ginnie Mae, fuzzycute monikers for grossly inefficient … [Read more...]

The Amazing Profits of Payday Loan Companies (?)


Common sense would suggest that a lender charging interest rates of three to four hundred percent a year would soon amass the kind of fortune that Scrooge McDuck himself would envy. The way these companies are reviled in the commentariat of the mainstream media, we'd also expect the people who run these companies to be all top hat, cigar, red satin lined cape and twirling mustaches. After a hectic day of evicting widows and orphans from seedy tenement apartments,  these dastardly Snidely Whiplash characters might cap off the day by driving up to their storefronts in limousines to collect bags and bags of money (with the comical and obligatory big $ sign). Truth is, cash advance and payday loans are a business like any other, more … [Read more...]

Caffe’ Ristretto: A Brief Look At Debtor’s Prison


Note:  I started this coffee break series to tide readers over between longer blog posts. I'm having to travel more recently, and rather than leave the blog populated by guest posts (of which I'm getting a rash of offers in the mail, mostly from bingo parlors in Hong Kong) or worse yet, content-less.  Caffe' Ristretto (as explained by Wikipedia) just means a shot of espresso with less water, and less resulting coffee oils. The taste is supposed to be more nuanced. For me, I'm not that nuanced. It's just good coffee. Lucky for us we don't have debtors' prisons any longer. Or do we?  This from the Wall Street Journal: Welcome to Debtors' Prison, 2011 Edition Some lawmakers, judges and regulators are trying to rein in the … [Read more...]

Are the United States Going All Greek ?

There’s plenty of prognosticators who are predicting the debt default of the United States and the demise of the US dollar, and pointing to Greece with the finger of doom. They hyperventilate that our national debt will lead to hyperinflation, plagues of locusts and showers of frogs.  This clarion call of doom is picked up by various talking heads in the print and television media. At CNN Money, pundits speculate,   Is the US Like Greece? Not really, the writer concludes, but we’ve got a boatload of debt, and that’s a bad thing. Over at the New York Times, Paul Krugman fusses that a Lost Decade is Looming, and concludes we’re not so much like Greece, but more like Japan. In the political arena, Republicans (noted … [Read more...]

Fight Those High Credit Card Interest Rates

credit card

Well, this post has little to do with hunting around for the best cc rates.  It's about all those annoying credit card offers we get in the mail. Being in good credit standing and a frequent traveler to boot, I am cursed blessed with all kinds of enticing miles and credit offers.  You can't actually fight, but you can engage in a little pranksterism, giving some customer feedback to the Shylocks working in the thievery swindling credit card industry. Yes, yes, I know that credit cards have their place when judiciously used, but often times they're not. They're offered willy-nilly to young college adults who don't know any better, perhaps not having benefited from savvy parenting in their formative years.  They engage in somewhat … [Read more...]

Debt Advice from the Federal Government

(  This is straight from inside a Kafka novel, almost can't make this up.... ) Personal Finance Advice from the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Protection Battalion (they might be  a division, but I just downgraded them). Before You File for Personal Bankruptcy: Information About Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Produced in cooperation with the Department of Justice’s U.S. Trustee Program The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 launched a new era: With limited exceptions, people who plan to file for bankruptcy protection must get credit counseling from a government-approved organization within 180 days before they file. They also must complete a debtor education course to have their debts … [Read more...]