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Archive for the ‘consumer issues’ Category

Financial infidelity poll: 6% hid bank account from spouse or partner

January 27, 2015 Comments off

Financial infidelity poll: 6% hid bank account from spouse or partner
Source: CreditCards.com

Secret bank accounts and covert financial transactions aren’t just the stuff of spy movies — they’re surprisingly common features within U.S. households, according to a new national poll conducted for CreditCards.com.

Roughly 1 in 5 Americans who are in a relationship admit they have spent $500 or more without their partner’s knowledge. A smaller number — 6 percent — have taken the subterfuge a step further, leading financial double lives by maintaining hidden checking or savings accounts or using secret credit cards.

Does Increasing Reliance on Student Debt Explain Declines in Entrepreneurial Activity? Posing the Question, Gathering Evidence, Considering Policy Options

January 27, 2015 Comments off

Does Increasing Reliance on Student Debt Explain Declines in Entrepreneurial Activity? Posing the Question, Gathering Evidence, Considering Policy Options
Source: Urban Institute

Concerns about declining entrepreneurial activity, rising student debt, and the possible relationship between the two deserve attention. New business enterprises can support innovation and increase employment, so any trend that might be interfering with individuals’ opportunities to take risks, finance start-ups, and build enterprises is worth exploring.

The Adoption of New Smart-Grid Technologies: Incentives, Outcomes, and Opportunities

January 26, 2015 Comments off

The Adoption of New Smart-Grid Technologies: Incentives, Outcomes, and Opportunities
Source: RAND Corporation

Studies in the academic and gray literatures have touted the potential large-scale benefits of a smart grid for the United States. Despite an overall lack of technological constraints, however, the empirical evidence shows a potential gap between ex ante expectations and ex post realizations of the benefits of modernization, as well as some reluctance on the part of utilities and consumers to adopt or use the technologies as expected. The surge in technological deployment during the early 2010s, in fact, was a result of federal funding via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In this report, RAND Corporation researchers review the current technical, regulatory, and economic context of the electricity market and theoretical benefits of developing a smart grid. They then discuss some of the entrepreneurial opportunities associated with smart-grid data once the grid is fully modernized. Next, they examine the existing empirical evidence related to smart-grid adoption and implementation and investigate the potential reasons for these experiences. Finally, they offer some policy suggestions that might help overcome the identified barriers and discuss their relative merits.

Redfin Predicts the Hottest Neighborhoods of 2015

January 26, 2015 Comments off

Redfin Predicts the Hottest Neighborhoods of 2015
Source: Redfin

Now that 2015 is off and running, we know what you’re wondering: Which neighborhoods will everyone be lusting after this year? In 2015, it will be all about compromise. There are finally more houses for sale, and affordability is once again buyers’ top concern. They may give up on living in the trendiest ZIP code, but they won’t sacrifice convenience. As a result, the neighborhoods that are going to be the most popular this year aren’t suburban, but they aren’t quite urban either; they’re in a sweet spot where affordability and convenience overlap.

After two years of neighborhood predictions, we’ve got the hang of this. Of the 10 neighborhoods we predicted would be hot last year, eight were. Our 2015 predictions are based on a similar methodology: We looked at which ones had the biggest increase in page views and Favorites on Redfin.com, as well as the prevalence of Redfin Hot Homes in each neighborhood. We then asked our local Redfin agents in every market for their on-the-ground insights, and together we came up with the 10 hottest neighborhoods of 2015, as well as the five hottest neighborhoods in each of 27 metro areas.

Phishing in Smooth Waters: The State of Banking Certificates in the US

January 26, 2015 Comments off

Phishing in Smooth Waters: The State of Banking Certificates in the US
Source: Social Science Research Network

A critical component of the solution to online masquerade attacks, in which criminals create false web pages to obtain financial information, is the hierarchy of public key certificates. Masquerade attacks include phishing, pharming, and man-in-the-middle attacks. Public key certificates ideally authenticate the website to the person, before the person authenticates to the website. Public key certificates are typically issued by certificate authorities (CAs).

Banks are the most common target of phishing attacks, so we implemented an empirical study of certificates for depository institutions insured by the Federal Depository Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and compared them to general purpose, non-banking certificates. Our study of websites of FDIC-insured banks found that the current configuration fails to support website authentication. The most common failure is an absence of certificates, meaning that a false certificate would be the only valid-named certificate for that institution. Certificates with incorrect names, incorrectly structured certificates, and shared certificates all plague online banking. The vast majority of banks, especially smaller banks, apparently lack the expertise, support, or incentive to implement certificates correctly.

We document the current state of bank certificates. We compare these with general-purpose certificates (e.g., the top one million websites). We survey the various proposals for the certificate market writ large, including pinning and notaries. We identify how those fit and fail to fit the unique problem of banking certificates. We close with policy and technical recommendations to alter the use of certificates so that these can be a valid basis for consumer trust.

The Forecasting Power of Consumer Attitudes for Consumer Spending

January 24, 2015 Comments off

The Forecasting Power of Consumer Attitudes for Consumer Spending
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

The widely studied Reuters/Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment is constructed from the answers to five questions from the more comprehensive Reuters/Michigan Surveys of Consumers. Yet little work has been done on what predictive power the information taken from this more thorough compilation of consumer attitudes and expectations may have for forecasting consumption expenditures. The authors construct a limited set of real-time summary measures for 42 questions selected from these broader Surveys corresponding to three broad economic determinants of consumption—income and wealth, prices, and interest rates, and then use regression analysis to evaluate and test the ability of these summary measures to predict future changes in real consumer expenditures, even when controlling for current and future fundamentals. They explain a nontrivial portion of consumption and other real activity forecast errors from professional forecasts. This is consistent with these measures’ ability to predict consumption even when conditioning on a broader set of fundamentals as well as professional forecasters’ judgmental forecast adjustments.

The Mobile Revolution: How Mobile Technologies Drive a Trillion-Dollar Impact

January 23, 2015 Comments off

The Mobile Revolution: How Mobile Technologies Drive a Trillion-Dollar Impact
Source: Boston Consulting Group

Dramatic performance improvements in mobile communications standards have propelled mobile to become the fastest adopted technology of all time.

Mobile is connecting and empowering consumers—everywhere.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that adopt advanced mobile technologies are the fastest growing.

Mobile technologies are fueling economic growth, driving recovery from the global recession.

The mobile industry has made massive investment in new infrastructure and R&D.

To ensure that the mobile revolution continues and expands, policymakers must support an environment that fosters innovation and investment. Future growth of mobile depends on continuing the policies that enabled the industry to get where it is today.

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