Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The News Sucks

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fraudulent Charges

I paid some bills this afternoon and noticed a foreign transaction fee that didn't add up.  Further inspection revealed a total of just over $250 worth of unauthorized charges made to one of my credit cards last week.  After speaking with a pleasant woman from an east coast location of that particular bank's credit card dispute branch, I promptly received an electronic PDF to "sign" and return (this process means opening the document in Adobe Acrobat, looking over the list of disputed charges, clicking "sign", then clicking "submit", before getting back to what I'd been doing prior to noticing these illegitimate charges.

My chief reason for sharing this somewhat mundane experience is to illustrate the sharp contrast in terms of customer care and efficiency when dealing with the fraud departments of a credit card company versus that most debit cards.  I had to go through a similar ordeal no more than 5 years ago which resulted in my 1) never being fully reimbursed, 2) having to completely close down the account, 3) spending substantial time mailing physical paperwork back and forth between states, 4) vowing to never again deal with debit cards any more than absolutely necessary.

Learn from these experiences.  I am not unique in having to sort out these issues.  It's not because I use plastic to pay for things in shadowy transactions.  Credit and Debit card info gets stolen all the time, in all sorts of ways.  For example, just last year in Utah thieves used this scheme to steal CC info at gas pumps.  If you do not have a credit card, you should pay for everything with cash, or get a credit card.  Paying with a debit card puts your personal finances at risk.  It's akin to using your home address instead of PO box (or other alternative), or giving out your personal phone number on the internet - just one of those things you simply should not do if you value your privacy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The “Chilean Model”: Market regulation, not just liberalization, key to success » TripleCrisis

Good analysis of the "Chilean Model". On a more superficial level, it's also always worth noting in this context that even during the "first stage" of reforms, from 1973-81, the Chileans never re-privatized the state-held mining interests. The nationalisation of the Chilean copper industry, which began during the Ibáñez (1952-58) and Frei (1964-70) presidencies and was ultimately realized under the Allende administration (1970-73), provided a source of income that was largely responsible for supporting the Chilean economy through the 1982 collapse, and even today continues to be a critical resource for Chile.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Citi thinks long term

In regards to the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan, Citi makes this prediction about the economic repercussions of the disaster:
One winner from the crisis will be Calpine:
Longer term, this could accelerate retirement of older nuclear plants and continue to shift towards natural gas based generation. Although extremely long term in nature, this could benefit Calpine (CPN.N; US$15.28; 1H) as it builds and operates natural gas fired power plants.
Nice to know that in Citi's infinite long term wisdom, natural gas fired power plants are the way forward.