Weekend Reading: The American Dream, Dollar Coins, Fidelity Problems, and United/Continental Merger

Happy Birthday America! Here’s some of what I’ve been reading over the long weekend:

The Death of the American Dream I
A good long-ish editorial from the The American Interest magazine about the “American Dream”. The American Dream used to be owning your own family farm. “In 1900, 41 percent of Americans worked on farms. Today fewer than 2 percent do.” The updated Dream became lifetime employment (plus a pension of lifetime income) plus owning a home through a 30-year (half a lifetime) mortgage. There is no longer lifetime employment these days, and perhaps the government-subsidized 30-year mortgage is up next. Also see Part II.

$1 Billion That Nobody Wants
An NPR investigative article about how the US government keeps making billions of dollar coins, even though most people prefer paper bills. I suppose this answers why you can buy coins from the US mint with a credit card, enabling people to rack up credit card rewards, and also a good way to meet minimum spend requirements for the big bonus cards. I think the two options should be to either stop making paper bills, or stop spending so much money pushing dollar coins on us. Until then, since the coins exist already, we are essentially getting paid by the government to distribute them.

Fidelity’s Experience Proves Bigger Doesn’t Mean Better
Morningstar article outlines reasons why Fidelity is having some issues with their actively managed funds. One issue is manager turnover; Their average manager tenure is 3.2 years, ranked 24th out of the 25 largest firms. They also have too many funds and not enough talent for all those positions. For example, Fidelity has 17 large-growth funds geared toward retail investors alone. As they earn a big chunk of profits from retirement plans, they will be much less likely to allow unconventional managers who take risks for big returns. Also see my review of Fidelity’s Portfolio Advisory Service product.

United and Continental Merger Updates
If you haven’t heard, United and Continental are merging, and you can link your accounts and transfer miles between the two frequent flier programs at your convenience. Combine your two balances to make one award flight, for example. I’m a United Elite and I heart my Economy Plus seats. Thanks reader Michael for the tip.

The Continental OnePass Plus credit card is still offering 30,000 miles + $50, and will still work after the merger.

Comments

  1. I’m of the mind, if no one wants $1 coins, stop making them. That they have a mandate that forces the creation of coin to sit in vaults is ludicrous. It’s wasteful spending. It kind of reminds me how they have a publishing arm that produces mounds of govermental records on paper that no one wants. The government needs to adapt to changing times.

    Hadn’t heard about the airline mergers, but it doesn’t surprise me. One of the major impacts that came out of the recession was large companies merging to become even larger companies. I think this trend will continue this year and next, especially with some companies sitting on some nice cash reserves. In the end, I’m not sure if it benefits the consumer, as they’re be less choice and less competition. I’m sure it’ll also likely result in layoffs of overlapping employees.

  2. As long as $1 bills are printed, there will be little demand for merchants to adjust their cash handling to accommodate coins. When was the last time any of you received $1 coins as change?

  3. Thanks for sharing! The continental/United mileage transfer is exactly what I have been looking for.

  4. I read that you no longer earn points or rewards for purchasing these coins – they are now treated as cash advances…..

  5. @J, where did you read that? I was just about to buy some coins and would hate to get a cash advance fee.

  6. uponahill says:

    It is more cost effective for the federal government to circulate coin currency than paper bills. The useful life span for a dollar bill is only 18 months while a coin can last for decades. There are very good examples around the world on how to circulate coins such as in Canada. After the introduction of the loonie, the paper bills were pulled from circulation in two years.

  7. I have always loved the dollar coins for some reason. Even though I hardly carry cash any more, the gold Sacagawea dollars always fascinated me, it was like having gold treasure in my pocket.

    Strange, but I suppose it’s better than my dad who loves to collect $2.00 bills.

  8. LargeTalons says:

    If there are huge amounts of dollar coins waiting to be released in the vaults, why can’t I buy any from the mint due to them being “sold out”?

    http://catalog.usmint.gov/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&identifier=8100

  9. @chris

    Here’s an article that talks about the cash advance fee for ordering coins from the mint.

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2009-12-14/business/17224372_1_mint-cards-coins

  10. Michael says:

    So have they started this cash advance charge? Does anyone know for sure?

  11. I have a chase freedom card and much to my dismay I was charged a $25 cash advance fee for buying a $1000 worth of Sacagawea coins from the mint. How does buying coins qualify as a cash advance? I called Chase to complain and after an hour and talking with a supervisor they finally waived the fee.

    Then a couple weeks after depositing my coins at the bank I received a letter from the US mint stating I was permanently banned from the $1 direct ship program for depositing my one dollar coins into the bank…They said they reserved the right to refuse sales to anyone and my “non-compliance” with the program was grounds for that ban…now my account isn’t active anymore… I’m in complete shock, how could they possibly know I deposited them? I don’t think the coins are even marked

  12. The Mint no longer allows direct purchase of $1 coins by credit card.

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