A Week's Worth
• Frothy memory: Thursday marks the five-year anniversary of the Nasdaq's all-time high. But while the Dow has recovered to within hailing distance of its peak in those frothy times, propelled Friday by an unexpectedly strong jobs report, the Nasdaq remains stuck at less than half its former height. Perhaps a new survey from Santa Clara University will perk up those technology stocks. It found that business conditions have finally improved in Silicon Valley - and will be much improved six months from now.
• If there is a bubble, it probably doesn't lie in stocks. Americans are so enamored of real estate that they're snapping up two or more homes. Second homes accounted for more than a third of all houses sold last year, according to a study by the National Association of Realtors. Most of them were for investment purposes, as opposed to vacation homes. That works fine as long as prices keep going up. But if the typical buyer, earning $87,500, sees housing prices fall, then that high-debt strategy may backfire.
• Playing favorites: The more pension business your mutual-fund company does with a corporation, the less critical it becomes of its management. Researchers at the University of Michigan business school have found that fund companies with big pension ties more often sided with management to vote down shareholder proposals than fund companies with small ties did.
• Location, location, job: Labor shortages are already triggering big salary increases if you're looking in the right region and have the right qualifications, says the March issue of Business 2.0 magazine. For example: A GPS systems engineer in Washington, D.C., can snare $95,000, up $10,000 from a year ago. A senior controller in San Diego now gets just under $105,000, up $20,000. A biotech CEO in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., can expect $275,000, up $20,000. And the senior vice president of a theatrical production company in California? That's $850,000, up $100,000 from 2003.
• Relax! Many baby boomers overestimate how much money they'll need to fund a comfortable retirement. That's what American Express Financial Advisors found in a recent survey of nearly 1,400 affluent boomers. Those who had consulted an adviser expected to need $2.5 million and had saved, on average, more than two-thirds of it. Those who hadn't consulted an adviser expected to need $3.5 million and had saved, on average, less than a third so far.