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Makin' Money

Debit card fees are coming down

Chris Farrell Dec 16, 2010

Later this afternoon the Federal Reserve is expected to announce guidelines for lowering debit processing fees. It’s a mandate from the Dodd-Frank financial services reform act. The new rates won’t take effect untl July, 2011.

The Fed is busy. This disturbing Bloomberg News story suggests that the Fed is heeding pressure from mortgage firms to curb homeowners’ right to invalidate loans based on flawed documents. And here I thought private property rights embedded in those pesky documents was a foundation of capitalism?

You too can be a Rockefeller or a Carnegie or a Gates with your charitable giving, sort of.

Donor advised funds has helped make philanthropy a more democratic activity.

Most donor-advised funds – run by mutual fund companies, community foundations, and the like — require a minimum investment of $1,000 to $25,000. With a donor-advised fund, you get to take an immediate tax deduction for your cash or securities contribution and you recommend that the fund direct donations to the charity or charities of your choice. You decide how to invest the money–at least within the choices offered by the foundation or mutual fund company you picked to run your foundation. The sixth annual survey on donor-advised funds by the National Philanthropic Trust shows that they now outnumber outnumber private foundations by more than two to one.

Michael Mandel, a fellow at the Wharton School and a former BusinessWeek colleague, is on a crusade. He’s wants to stamp out the idea that consumer spending is 70% of the American economy. It isn’t. The government’s definition of consumer spending includes Medicare, Medicaid, and money spent by nonprofits such as political parties and religious groups. Now, most of us don’t consider these activities consumption, part of the “shop ’til they drop” economy. What’s more, consumers buy a lot of imported goods so some the purchase goes toward stimulating the economies of China, Korea, and other countries.

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