Sunday, August 30, 2009

Financial Peace University Classes Offered

Fayetteville First United Methodist Church is offering Financial Peace University Classes for the local community starting in September. Financial Peace University is a life-changing program that teaches one how to make the right decisions with their money. You'll be empowered with the practical skills and confidence needed to achieve your financial goals and experience true financial peace!

This is a 13 week course, commencing on Sunday, 13 September. Classes will meet from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM, at Fayetteville First UMC at 175 Lanier Avenue in Fayetteville. The normal cost for the class is $150. The Church group rate is $110 for the 13 week course.

To sign up or obtain more information, please contact:

Laura Cox
Director of Adult Discipleship
770-461-4313, ext. 16
Fayetteville First United Methodist Church
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Energy Industry Icon Re-Affirms Position that U.S. Equity Market Valuations Overdone: U.S. Energy Industry at Major Risk

/PRNewswire/ -- Karl W. Miller, a senior energy executive and institutional investor, today issued the following statement through his advisors, Re-Affirmed his position that U.S. Equity Market Valuations are Overdone and the U.S. Energy Industry is at major risk.

Mr. Miller has made it clear in prior research that there will be no meaningful economic recovery to sustain any equity market recovery until the defunct real estate holdings in the residential and commercial marketplace are properly vetted, written down to net realizable value, and sold off of the banks, hedge funds and insurance company books. This will mean bankrupting hundreds of institutions, which are already technically insolvent.

A recovery based upon negative net worth, and the U.S. Government underwriting the retail consumer and institutional marketplace on all fronts, including a ludicrous renewable energy plan and unrealistic and un-achievable health care proposal will not happen.

Retail investors should not be investing in the equity and debt markets at the current time, while the major banks, hedge funds, and private equity funds are insolvent on a majority of their asset based holdings. They require a rising equity market to float their portfolios and pull the retail investor back into the market to fill the gap. Unfortunately, the retail and high net worth investor is essentially insolvent as an investor class and the old model does will not work.

We need quick and brutal cleansing of the U.S. Financial system, and renewing Ben Bernake's term as Fed Chairman means nothing to solving the market problems and is window dressing. Retails investors should not be lured into purchasing equity or fixed income instruments until we essentially "bankrupt the US banking system" and hit the reboot button, which will have the effect of flushing out the illiquid hedge and private equity funds who are hanging on by a thread.

All of this is important, because a majority of the financial institutions can't purchase or operate critical energy infrastructure assets so desperately needed. This is what seasoned management does alongside of distressed capital investors. Unfortunately, these experts can't begin to work until the system is flushed.

The U.S. Renewable energy industry is on its rear end, and one need only ask T. Boone Pickens, who spent millions on marketing a renewable energy plan only to fail dramatically. If anyone wants to purchase distressed wind turbines, Mr. Pickens has hundreds of turbines scheduled for delivery with nowhere to go.

We have insufficient infrastructure in the U.S. to include Transmission lines, natural gas and oil pipelines and the "pork" energy plan that has come out of Washington does nothing to solve that problem.

So, where do we stand, and what should investors do? Sell the financial equity investments and get to the sidelines quickly, as the carnage is coming and is not for the faint of heart. It is best left to true distressed asset buyers and operators who know how to clean up what has become the largest financial and asset disaster in U.S. history.

Again Mr. Miller reiterates that China is irrelevant at the current time, given the fact that the U.S. is financially broke. Chasing China, Asia or Europe in the equity market rally has no relevance on the U.S. problems.

Yes, Oil is dollar based, but has no linkage to natural gas in the U.S. as it does in Europe and Asia. Essentially, Oil and Natural Gas are decoupled in the U.S. and investors should not chase a financially driven oil price when it has nothing to do with the fundamentals on the ground in the United States. Natural Gas is cheap and getting cheaper, as there is no demand. Thus, the pipeline and natural gas producers are suffering and overvalued as well. Sell them if you own them.

Mr. Miller retains a sell recommendation on renewable energy companies. We will see many of these names, which are highly levered fail and/or be purchased at distressed prices when the bust comes, and it is sure to come.

Mr. Miller re-affirms that investors should not confuse Warren Buffett's statements regarding deployment of capital versus sitting on cash with intelligent timing of investments, especially in the energy sector.

Be patient, let the assets get sorted out then make decisions about deploying capital. There is plenty of value and risk to go around.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Estate Planners Await 'Big Bang' in 2010 From Tax and Retirement Law Changes

/PRNewswire/ -- People who are nearing or planning for retirement will be hearing from their advisors this fall about changes in federal law that could have a huge impact on their financial plans.

From Roth IRA conversions to the estate tax, there is a lot on the horizon to consider for individuals who want to have enough money for retirement, ensure the continuation of a family business, or leave an inheritance to a charity or their heirs.

"What happens in the next few months could cause some of the biggest changes we've seen in the trusts and estates field," said Roy Adams, professor emeritus of estate planning and taxation at Northwestern University School of Law where he taught both subjects for 25 years.

Adams is going to explain recent and upcoming changes and offer suggestions for dealing with them September 14 in a presentation at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Securian Trust Company and The Salvation Army are co-sponsoring the live event in Minneapolis for estate planning professionals entitled, "Coping with Change - Like It or Not." This is the 17th Annual Estate and Charitable Gift Planning Institute in the Twin Cities and usually draws 700 to 800 tax, estate, and wealth management professionals.

At the heart of the pending changes is the estate tax. In 2010 it is scheduled to be repealed for one year. In 2011, it will revert to its 2000 version. Though many believe that is unlikely to happen, there will be changes to estate and gift tax rules and Americans need to prepare for that. The changes could have an impact on family-owned businesses and heirs and also could affect other aspects of financial planning including charitable contributions and gift taxes.

To add even more drama, the income limitation on converting regular IRAs, 401(k) accounts, and 403(b) accounts to Roth IRAs will be removed in 2010, opening it up to wealthy individuals. The expectation is that many will want to capitalize on this opportunity.

Adams' co-presenter, Christopher Hoyt, is a professor at the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law where he teaches courses in federal income taxation and business operations. Hoyt also is the co-chairman of the American Bar Association committee on charitable organizations.

"Coping With Change - Like It or Not," will be broadcast live to several locations throughout North Dakota and Minnesota, as well as nationally. The presentation in Minneapolis is free and open to the public: Go to to register.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp. Announces Customer Payment Options

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp. (TBW), following up on its August 5, 2009, announcement that it has officially ceased a majority of its operations, is notifying its customers of payment options for their mortgages.

TBW stated that it is unable to either offer an online payment option or automatic payment deductions for its home mortgage customers. The company said no automatic debit payments have been made since August 4, 2009.

For those reasons, customers are being asked to submit payments by mail directly to TBW. The address is: Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp., Attn: Cashiering, 1417 N. Magnolia Ave., Ocala, FL 34475.

The company notified its customers that they should include loan numbers on their checks, as well as any special payment instructions, such as additional payments to principal or escrow.

“If you have recently received notification that your loan was transferred to a new servicer, please disregard these payment instructions and follow the instructions outlined in the transfer notice,” the company said.

Although TBW officially ceased a majority of its operations on August 5, it will continue functioning in a reduced capacity until all loans have been transitioned to new servicers.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused our valued customers,” the company said.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Government Stops Unlawful Social Security Suspensions; Agrees to Repay More Than Half a Billion in Back Benefits

/PRNewswire/ -- The Social Security Administration has agreed to repay more than $500 million in benefits that were unlawfully withheld from 80,000 people since January 2007. The agreement is part of a class action settlement preliminarily approved by U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken today. In addition, people whose benefits were suspended or denied between 2000 and 2006 will be notified of the new policy and invited to re-establish eligibility. All told, more than 200,000 people may have benefits reinstated and/or receive back payments through the settlement. All beneficiaries must continue to be eligible to receive payments.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit, Martinez v. Astrue, challenging SSA's method of implementing a provision of the Social Security Act. The law seeks to prevent people from using government benefits to flee from arrest. Rather than trying to determine which Social Security recipients were actually fleeing prosecution, SSA used an automated system that matched names in warrant databases to those at SSA. Many of the automatic benefit suspensions involved false or unproven allegations, minor infractions or long-dormant arrest warrants. Although regulations provide for an appeal process, individuals losing benefits were routinely informed by SSA staff that they could not appeal.

Under the agreement, SSA has stopped, as of April 1, 2009, suspending or denying benefits due to the mere existence of a warrant - unless the warrant is issued in a criminal proceeding on a charge such as flight or escape.

"The vast majority of class members were not fleeing at all; many never knew that criminal charges were pending against them, let alone that a warrant had been issued," Gerald McIntyre, attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center, said.

In addition to granting preliminary approval of the settlement agreement, Judge Wilken ordered a final fairness hearing to be held on September 24. At that hearing, Judge Wilken will hear any objections from class members and determine whether to approve the agreement, which will not take full effect until the appeal time has run.

The plaintiffs in the case are represented by the National Senior Citizens Law Center, pro bono counsel from the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson, the Mental Health Project of the Urban Justice Center, Disability Rights California, and the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County.

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