Personal Finance: Wall Street Not So Fab

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Michelle Singletary
Thursday, April 29, 2010; 9:45 AM

Did you watch any of Tuesday's Senate hearings involving Goldman Sachs? Top executives were questioned about their role in the financial crisis that has hit us all.

If you haven't watched them or at least caught some of the news reports, read Zachary A. Goldfarb's Goldman Sachs executives face senators investigating role in financial crisis or watch a CBS video report on the executives' testimony.

Washington Sketch columnist Dana Milbank gives his take on the less than fabulous Fabrice Tourre, an executive director at Goldman Sachs who in e-mails described himself as "Fabulous Fab." Just watch and listen to the Fab himself.

As Steven Pearlstein wrote in his column, two planets collided when the senators faced off with Wall Street with both viewing each other as aliens.

After reading these reports and watching the videos, I finally got it. Well, I knew it all along, but still. I got it. These men - the ones running Wall Street - don't care squat about their well-heeled investors and certainly not about us poor little investors trying to make our money grow at a decent rate so we can have a decent retirement.

Nope. They detest us. They think we are stupid.

You only need to look at how arrogantly they answered the senators' questions to see that they care only about their bonuses.

We, the investors, are an afterthought, just a means to their millions.

Clutter Chatter

Join me live today for a discussion about your money. Today, my guest is Gail Blanke, author of "Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life." Blanke's book is the April pick for the Color of Money Book Club.

The chat starts at noon ET. I look forward to your participation, but if you are unable to join me live, send your question early or read the transcript later.

Working 9 to 5 After Serving 5 to 9

For many ex-offenders, finding a job is tough. However, once you land a position, being accepted by your co-workers may be even tougher.

In her How to Deal column, Lily Garcia responded to a question from a reader who wanted to know how to voice her concerns after her employer began hiring ex-convicts. The writer said he or she was uncomfortable having them around young children and women.

Read Garcia's response to this reader in From work release to workplace.

I certainly understand the concerns and it's likely the person's employer has done a poor job in communicating to staff that this is a worthwhile mission for the company and community. After all, if ex-offenders can't find work, where do you think they are going to get money?

As Garcia reports, ex-offenders who become gainfully employed are less likely to commit crimes again than those who can't find work.

In this year's Color of Money Challenge, I am following two parolees who have recently been released from the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women. Both women are looking for work. I hope you follow the series and see why it's worthwhile to help ex-offenders go straight.

I want to hear from you on this topic. This week's Color of Money Question is, "Would you mind working next to an ex-offender?" Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. In the subject line, put "Work Release."

Wedding Season

While April showers may bring May flowers, April also ushers in a season of weddings -- lots of weddings.

So, what should a guest give? If you're struggling with your finances and can't figure out out an affordable gift for a couple, read Don't blow your budget on pricey wedding presents.

Of course, many couples say they are trying to make it easy for you by registering for gifts. Nice idea, but sometimes I wonder what the couples are thinking when they put gifts on those lists that would require a second job to purchase.

Or, they send word that they don't want your gift at all. They just want cash to help pay for the wedding or honeymoon or both. You just wait, there will be the day when some couples will skip all sense of etiquette and include in the invitation something like this:

"Dear guest,

Don't even bother buying us some hideous present we plan on taking back at first sight. Just give us money because that's really the only reason we're inviting you in the first place."

If you've gotten a note that isn't as avaricious as mine, but nonetheless similar in intention, let me know. Send your comments or the word-for-word note from the bride and groom to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Put "Wedding Shake Down" in the subject line.

Credit CARD Act Impact

As I've done each week since the major provisions of the Credit CARD Act became effective, this week I'm highlighting another section.

The fine print for credit card agreements has become a lot more legible.

Under the Act:

--Credit card issuers must clearly disclose terms of credit card accounts, including fees, penalties, and terms.

--Issuers must also give 45-day advance notice for significant changes in regard to credit card agreement.

--Consumers must be informed of their right to opt out of changes and close or cancel an account.

Read more about the Act.

Tia Lewis contributed to this e-letter.

You are welcome to e-mail comments and questions to singletarym@washpost.com. Please include your name and hometown; your comments may be used in a future column or newsletter unless otherwise requested.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company

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