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Financial Beat


Airports, Stocks, Postage, Real Estate, Auto Insurance, Mutual Funds, Travel, Cell Phones


Financial Beat

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Choose article section... Airports: Where will you spend the most time cooling your heels? Stocks: Quicker disclosures when company execs dump their shares Postage: Stamp prices are going up again Real Estate: Should you trust your home inspector? Auto Insurance: How much will it cost to drive your new car off the lot? Mutual Funds: Star ratings overhauled to help compare funds Travel: Taking your pet on vacation might feel like a clip job Cell Phones: Even yakking is pricier in California

By Yvonne Chilik Wollenberg

Airports: Where will you spend the most time cooling your heels?

Nearly half of all air travelers are spending 30 to 60 minutes waiting for security checks, says a survey conducted by Travelocity.com, an online travel agency. The delays were virtually unchanged from a similar survey taken last November. The biggest security bottleneck in the country is at the Oakland (CA) International Airport, where 35 percent endure delays of more than an hour. Pittsburgh's lines are fastest; everyone surveyed reported moving through checkpoints in 15 minutes or less.


% of passengers reporting waits of more than 1 hour
San Francisco
San Diego
Fort Lauderdale
% reporting waits of 15 minutes or less
Dallas/Fort Worth
Houston (George Bush Intercontinental Airport)
Hartford, CT/ Springfield, MA
Fort Myers, FL


Stocks: Quicker disclosures when company execs dump their shares

Investors will be able to find out quickly when corporate executives buy or sell large amounts of company stock or borrow money from their employers, under new rules proposed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Transactions worth at least $100,000 would have to be reported within two business days, and those worth between $10,000 and $100,000 reported by the second business day of the next week. The information would be available to investors at the SEC Web site, at www.sec.gov and on the companies' own Web sites.

Such transactions often reveal what executives think about their company's financial health, says the SEC. Under current rules, disclosure of large stock sales by company executives must be made in annual reports, which may be too late to help investors decide whether they should buy or sell the stock.

Postage: Stamp prices are going up again

It will cost 37 cents to mail a first-class letter as of June 30. Post offices will start selling nondenominated stamps and three-cent stamps by the middle of the month, says the US Postal Service. The cost of sending a one-pound package by Priority Mail will rise to $3.85, from $3.50. Express Mail for a half-pound package, arriving the next day, will cost $13.65, up from $12.45.

Real Estate: Should you trust your home inspector?

Hiring a home inspector recommended by your real estate agent can be a big mistake. More than three-quarters of home buyers get a home inspection, and almost 70 percent of those use an inspector recommended by a real estate agent, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors. But inspectors who find many problems are likely to be shunned by real estate agents, who make money only if the deal goes through.

The Independent Home Inspectors of North America says that inspectors who join the organization promise not to solicit business from real estate agents. For a list of independent inspectors, visit the group's Web site at www.independentinspectors.org.

Auto Insurance: How much will it cost to drive your new car off the lot?

Before you buy your next new car, make sure the insurance premium won't cause sticker shock.

Insure.com, an online insurance information service, surveyed the top three auto insurers (State Farm, Allstate, and Farmers) to find out the highest and lowest rates. The cheapest 2002 vehicle to insure is the Buick LeSabre. The most expensive is the Mitsubishi Montero Sport.


Most expensive 2002 vehicles to insure

Least expensive 2002 vehicles to insure

1. Mitsubishi Montero Sport
2. Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
3. Lexus GS 430
4. Cadillac Escalade
5. BMW 7 Series
6. Honda Civic Coupe
7. Chevrolet Corvette Coupe
8. Mitsubishi Mirage Coupe
9. Toyota 4Runner
10. BMW 5 Series

1. Buick LeSabre
2. Oldsmobile Silhouette
3. Honda Odyssey
4. Buick Park Avenue
5. Pontiac Montana
6. Mercury Grand Marquis
7. Buick Century
8. Chevrolet Venture
9. GMC Safari
10. Oldsmobile Bravada

Mutual Funds: Star ratings overhauled to help compare funds

Morningstar has tinkered with its well-known star ratings for mutual funds to give investors a better measure of performance. Beginning in July, funds will be grouped into nearly 50 categories, and ranked against other groups in the same narrow category. A fund that falls within the large growth category, for instance, would be compared with other large growth funds rather than with all domestic stock funds. The old method rated funds within only four broad categories: domestic stock, international stock, taxable bond, and municipal bond funds. Funds will still receive from one to five stars. The financial research firm says it's changing its formula to keep up with a larger universe of more specialized funds.

Travel: Taking your pet on vacation might feel like a clip job

Want to take Spot on a plane with you? You might shell out more for him than you'll pay for your own ticket, and he won't even get peanuts. US Airways recently offered a roundtrip ticket from New York City to Burlington, VT, for $98. If you want to bring your cat or dog onboard, however, it will cost an extra $200.


One-way fee for pet in cabin
One-way fee for pet as checked baggage or cargo
American Airlines
America West Airlines
Continental Airlines

89-299, depending on weight

Delta Airlines
Northwest Airlines
139-299, depending on weight
United Airlines
US Airways


Cell Phones: Even yakking is pricier in California

The cost of using a cell phone has dropped by about 32 percent over the past four years, but the rate of wireless taxes is going up, says the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, which represents wireless phone and Internet providers. The average cell phone user is paying 12 percent for state, local, and federal taxes. The 10 states with the highest cell phone tax rates are:

2. Florida
3. Virginia
4. New York
5. Nebraska
6. Texas
7. Illinois
8. Tennessee
9. Mississippi
10. Pennsylvania

13 0
12 0


The author is a freelance writer in Teaneck, NJ.


Yvonne Wollenberg. Financial Beat. Medical Economics 2002;11:14.

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