National / International News
According to Gallup, families in America spend roughly $150 dollars a week on food:Gallup
Marketplace Weekend wants to know, how do you save money at the grocery store?
@MarketplaceWknd Plan meals around what's on sale (esp for meats) not just what you feel like eating.
— Karen Luck (@WhereIsMyKindle) September 3, 2014
Eat fast food whenever possible RT@MarketplaceWknd: What are your favorite tips and tricks to save money at the grocery store?
— SevenPointBuck (@SevenPointBuck) September 3, 2014
@MarketplaceWknd Reach for the back of the shelf (bread, meats, eggs, and so on). Later expiration dates for the same price.
— Dylan Campbell (@dylancampbell) September 3, 2014
For David Bunzel, the bad news came in a letter, in March.
“I opened it up,” he says, “and I was surprised.”
Bunzel lives in Scarsdale, New York, just north of New York City. The community is doing its first town-wide property value reassessments in 45 years. And the letter Bunzel got came from the assessment office.
“The estimated value, from their perception, of our home went up overnight by about 30 percent,” he says.
The estimated value of your home helps determine how much you pay in property taxes.
Bunzel lives in a neighborhood of multimillion-dollar homes, and a 30 percent increase would be a lot of money. (He wouldn’t say exactly how much.) Things were even worse for some of his neighbors. Some even saw their assessments double.
So Bunzel and a bunch of his neighbors are now challenging the revaluations. He says he understands property assessments were way overdue in Scarsdale, but the way their homes were assessed and the sudden spike, he says, aren’t fair.
“Who has sympathy for these people?” says Robert Berg, another Scarsdale resident. “They were getting a great deal that we were paying for, for 45 years in many cases.”
Berg was one of the people who pushed for the property revaluations. He says the owners of what are now some of the most expensive homes in town weren't paying property taxes that reflected that. So people in more modest homes had to pay more than their share of property taxes to make up for it, he argues.
“If someone's paying too little,” Berg says, “someone's paying too much. And the whole purpose of a revaluation is to periodically and systematically review all the property valuations in town, so you can get equity in the tax rolls.”
The state of New York doesn't require periodic revaluations, but they recommend cities reassess properties every few years. Some towns in the state haven't had property reassessments since the Civil War.
New York's not alone in these infrequent assessments. In California, for example, your property tax is based on how much you paid for your house. If you've been sitting on a home for 40 years, you're paying way fewer taxes than someone who bought a similar home at today's prices.
Kim Rueben, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute, says to avoid revaluation controversies like the one in Scarsdale and similar situations in California, cities need routine state-mandated property assessments. They keep property taxes smoother for everyone, Rueben says.
“I think it would be easier,” she says, “for the county and the local governments if the state did mandate it. And so they could just say that it's the state law to do this.”
But if cities and towns have been collecting property taxes for centuries, why haven't they figured this out yet?
“Some of this is much more political than fiscal,” Rueben says. “So the whole idea that you're not going to reassess properties has more to do with who has political power and who's going to end up being winners and losers.”
She says reassessments usually put the biggest dent in the pocketbooks of the upscale homeowners, so politicians might avoid enforcing reassessments to avoid upsetting wealthy voters.
“But,” she says, “it's never going to be any easier for them to do the reassessment.”
At some point, towns that have held off on reassessments are going to have to bite the bullet. Scarsdale's property revaluations are still under review, but they should go into effect later this month.
For trading stocks and other securities there are stock exchanges, which are highly regulated. Then there are alternative trading systems, called "dark pools," which are lightly regulated.
Now, there's news on Wednesday that IEX, an upstart, alternative system, has gotten some big new investors to help it try to become a fully-fledged, regulated exchange.
IEX is designed to mute the effects of high-speed trading: advanced technology that some argue serves Wall Street middlemen and not investors. The CEO of IEX, Brad Katsuyama, was even cast as the protagonist in Michael Lewis' best-selling critique of high-speed trading.
Click the media player above to hear Brad Katsuyama in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.
On Wednesday, several government regulators, including the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, will vote on a rule that’s designed to improve the way banks manage risk.
After the last financial crisis, regulators started to worry about the next one. At a meeting in Basel, Switzerland, they proposed a “liquidity coverage ratio.”
According to Oliver I. Ireland, a partner with Morrison & Foerster, it would require banks to hold high-quality assets “that presumably you could sell into the market at a reasonable price in order to generate liquidity to meet, for example, customer withdrawals.”
For several years now, regulators have wrestled with what constitutes a “high-quality” asset.
“There are all kind of securities that have varying degrees of liquidity,” says Lawrence G. Baxter, the William B. McGuire Professor of the Practice of Law at Duke University. There is debt you can get rid of quickly, like U.S. bonds, and there is debt that is harder to sell. For example, there wasn’t much of a market for mortgage-backed securities in 2008.
“The more liquid the assets, the safer they are, but also the less yield-bearing they are likely to be,” Baxter explains, noting the liquidity-coverage ratio could pose a problem for banks. They have been bringing in record profits, he says, and they are under pressure to keep doing that.