The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Ophthalmologist Versus Optometrist Edition

In my recent post on eyeglasses, I largely encouraged people to visit an ophthalmologist in order to diagnose an eye condition. This statement drew some ire from my optometrist readers, who correctly pointed out that optometrists are actually better trained at producing a correct eyeglass prescription for most people. I go to an ophthalmologist because my eye condition is… awkward. Anyway, props to both optometrists and ophthalmologists for keeping our eyes healthy! Here are some personal finance posts.

A Comeback for the S.&P. (If the Yardstick Is Dollars) I thought this was interesting. The S&P 500 has been doing really well lately (and thus so has my investment in the Vanguard 500), but if you compare it to a currency besides the dollar (like the euro or the pound or even gold), it’s not doing so hot. Of course, this comparison is quite complicated and has lots of reasonable explanations. (@ nytimes via trader mike)

ING Direct Closed Customer’s Account Due To Bad Credit Here’s the scoop: some guy got an Electric Orange checking account there and regularly lived in “overdraft mode” with the account, meaning he was regularly overdrafting and relying on ING’s overdraft line of credit as a regular part of his financial life. As a result, ING did a credit check (as they should, sensibly, if someone’s doing something that sets off warning bells) and decided to kill the account. Is it right or wrong? I’m not the one to make the call, but I can certainly understand both sides. (@ consumerism commentary)

Are Your Friends’ Investments Performing Better Than Yours? So what if they are? Short term gains in the stock market are fleeting, particularly when you’re just dancing around in various mutual funds. Stick with a fund you like for the long haul and you’ll do fine. (@ money smart life)

The Simple Dollar Retro: Six Yahoo! Finance Columnists Are Worth Reading; The Other Six… Aren’t I read the Yahoo! Finance columns regularly, and this basically sums up my views on the columnists.

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  1. Matt says:

    I just read your Yahoo! Finance review for the first time and I have to admit, I actually like Charles Wheelan. Of course, I’m also and economics grad student, so go figure. The problem is that his column doesn’t really belong on that site. If you’re looking for an easy to read commentary on economic policy, it’s a good column. But for a site about personal finance and investment, it’s not really relevant.

  2. Carol says:

    I read the “If the Yardstick Is Dollars”, too. It seems pretty silly, really, for most Americans to worry about this. Unless you’re planning to convert your investments into another currency, it’s really just not relevant to you.

    In fact, devaluation of the dollar may help the American economy since American goods and services become cheaper to foreigners. Lots of Brits (where I live) are going on vacation in the U.S. because the dollar is so weak. Good for the U.S. tourist industry. It’s also good since Americans may reduce their purchases of imports and buy more domestic products.

    I am someone who could be hurt by the weakness of the dollar, since I’m trapped in dollar IRA accounts even though I now live abroad. However, lots of things could change between now and the time I withdraw that money, so I’m not especially worried. I may even decide to retire in the U.S. Who knows?

  3. James says:

    Carol,

    I believe you’re missing a few key points that arise from a falling dollar…and it’s falling quite a bit…

    1. Imported goods become more expensive. You say “oh we’ll just buy more domestic products.” However, that is much much easier said than done. As a nation we have become dependent on other countries for a large number of our products. We can’t simply say “Oh, those are more expensive now, let’s just fire up those factories we haven’t used in 30 years (if they are even still standing).” (This could also have a huge impact on inflation)

    2. A lot of our (national) debt is supported by foreign investors. If our dollar is falling like a rock, this is not a good investment for them and they pull their money out.

    2b. While the FED has kept interest rates steady to “control inflation,” foreign governments are steadily raising their rates, making investing in those countries even more attractive than investing in the US.

    To combat #2, the FED would have to raise interest rates…however that would risk causing a recession (and probably stagflation…). So, the US might’ve trapped itself between a rock and a hard place.

    Don’t take the falling dollar so lightly.

  4. Goldie says:

    Ing is more than a little twitchy about customers. My husband signed up for an Ing account. Ing called him up to verify something before opening the account, and was very rude to him, and he wasn’t in his most patient mood so he balked a bit and then said “never mind I don’t need the account.” Now if he tries to get an account they will not open one for him. Our credit is good – but because he wasn’t friendly on a call they have blacklisted him. We called up the chain and once someone is on the ‘no add’ list they are _never_ removed.

  5. Ben says:

    Trent, I agree with you about investing for the long term. What’s tricky for me is deciding on the proper allocation across asset classes. Based on our investing timeframe, I’ve begun to wonder if we have too high a percentage of our portfolio in bonds.

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