UPDATE: Focus on finance

December 19, 2003

Car rollovers; I-bonds; charitable companies; angry investors

 

UPDATE

Focus on Finance

By Yvonne Chilik Wollenburg

Jump to:Choose article section...More data on car rollovers . . . . . . and physicians' fender benders Does the state owe you? Inflation-fighting bonds have little to fight Who makes the biggest corporate donations? Angry investors rat on their brokers

More data on car rollovers . . .

The federal government will start putting 2004 models through a new road test designed to rate how well they handle sharp turns at various speeds. Vehicles will be rated on their performance on the new test, plus a previously used factor based on engineering calculations. Vehicles will receive a score from one star (rollover risk greater than 40 percent) to five stars (rollover risk of 10 percent or less).

The number of people killed in rollover crashes increased 5 percent to 10,666 in 2002, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Rollover crashes were to blame in 61 percent of fatalities involving SUVs, 45 percent of those involving pickups, and 22 percent of those involving passenger cars.

. . . and physicians' fender benders

Out of 40 different occupations, physicians had the second-highest rate of auto accidents, outdone only by "students," says a survey conducted by Quality Planning, an insurance consulting firm. Lawyers were ranked third. (Fortunately, we're above ambulance-chasing jokes.) Farmers appear to live in the slow lane; they were last on the list.

Does the state owe you?

Two Web sites can help you track down any money your state government might be holding for you. Unclaimed property, from overlooked bank accounts to forgotten paychecks, is turned over to the state government, which holds it in custody until it is claimed.

The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the National Association of State Treasurers, sponsors a free Web site at www.unclaimed.org that links users to the state agencies that manage unclaimed property. The group also sponsors www.missingmoney.com , another free Web site with an online searchable database of unclaimed property records.

Inflation-fighting bonds have little to fight

Don't count on making much money with Series I savings bonds now that low inflation has caused the interest rate to plunge to only 2.19 percent. The rate is adjusted twice a year, based on the Consumer Price Index, and won't change again until next May. EE bonds might look like a better bet, with a 2.61 percent interest rate. On the other hand, if inflation picks up, so will the I-series yield.

Who makes the biggest corporate donations?

When you're looking for good companies to invest in, you might want to consider how charitable they are. The most generous in terms of total cash outlay in 2002 was Wal-Mart Stores, which gave away $136 million, according to Forbes. (Even that was a mere 1 percent of its 2001 income.) Other top corporate givers were Altria Group, Ford Motor, ExxonMobil, and Target stores.

Angry investors rat on their brokers

Claims that brokers made lousy deals have gone up 22 percent this year, according to data from the NASD, which regulates brokerage firms. Investors filed 6,948 cases against their brokers through September. The number of cases involving mutual funds was 1,399, more than the 1,249 claims filed during all of 2002.

Many of the complaints charge that brokers gave unsuitable advice, or were negligent in how they handled accounts. For information on how to file a claim with the NASD, go to its Web site at www.nasd.com.

 

Yvonne Wollenberg. UPDATE: Focus on finance. Medical Economics Dec. 19, 2003;80:11.