By wire services
Published April 24, 2005
BANKS AND STOCKBROKERS are regulated by federal agencies, but the $1.2-trillion insurance industry is overseen by small, usually obscure state offices. That's why the story of AIG and other insurance giants is one of "failed regulation," BusinessWeek says. "Outgunned by the insurance giants, state commissioners, interested in pleasing voters, usually focus on such consumer issues as setting rates and taking complaints on auto and homeowners insurance." Other public guardians also have failed, the magazine says, allowing insurers "to polish their financial image with deals that appeared to meet technical tests but in fact had no business purpose."
SKIN-CARE COMPANIES are looking to men to boost sales. At $108-million last year, the men's market is a relatively small part of the $8-billion total skin-care market. But that's changing quickly as companies from Procter & Gamble to specialty lines push cleansers, moisturizers, antiaging lotions and body sprays made just for men.
THE EXCHANGE-TRADED FUND is one of the fastest growing new investment vehicles. The security trades like a stock but holds a basket of stocks or bonds like a mutual fund. They are not actively managed but instead track an index. Smart Money says the ETF isn't "the hottest thing since sliced bread," as its proponents tout it to be, though it "can be a useful addition to your portfolio."
THINK SPRING CLEANING for your 401(k) plan, particularly if you tend to glance at the statement each quarter and then forget about it. You should rebalance regularly, or over tie your assets will be skewed to a particular fund, or bonds, or cash, according to Smart401(k) LLC of Overland Park, Kan. When looking at fund options, compare performance over three to five years. Longer or shorter isn't a very useful yardstick.
ALTHOUGH EXECUTIVE PAY packages were moderated in 2004 by corporate reform and shareholder revolt, compensation still was generous - up an average of $9.6-million, or 15 percent, for 367 CEOs surveyed by BusinessWeek. The magazine says the average was skewed by Yahoo CEO Terry Semel's package, worth $120-million and made up almost entirely of options. Minus Semel, the average CEO raise was 11.3 percent, once again dwarfing the average worker's, who saw pay gains of just 2.9 percent, to $33,176 a year.
Compiled from Times wires and Web sites.
[Last modified April 24, 2005, 01:02:20]
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