Monday, June 27, 2005

Books

Holidays would be incomplete and unsatisfying if we couldn't find a good book store.

I read Lance Armstrong's book It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. The descriptions of the Tour de France were very interesting. Winning 6 of these races can't be a fluke, and we read of his almost fanatical dedication to the sport. The descriptions of the races are fascinating. We think of a bike race as an individual effort; it is a team effort with a group working together so that one person can claim victory. Reading his story puts many of the obstacles and discomforts of my life in perspective.

I'm fascinated by military history, and enjoyed Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs : The Unknown Story of the Men and Women of World War II's OSS. The book is from the american perspective, interviewing surviving members of that service. The war had an enormous impact in so many ways. The nastiness of insurgency and special operation warfare, with small groups taking advantage of local partisan movements, the shifting allegiances, makes for a fascinating read. Many times the stories revolve around civilians either protecting and hiding, or finding and reporting the operatives. I and many of my generation have never experienced war. It is good to read of the damage done to societies when faced with conflict, and how there is no possible way to stay innocent if involved.

I finally finished Uncle Tungsten, Oliver Sacks' autobiography. For some reason I read about half, then put it down. Reading about the structure of the atom, of electrons, radioactivity and his fascination when exploring these things as a young boy reminds me of when I learned these things. My high school chemistry teacher had the ability to instill wonder when describing the structure of the atom. Sometimes when we learn things the result is not understanding but a flood of questions and possibilities.

I was pondering the times in my life when I had that feeling of setting out on a journey of discovery. In the late 80's I was interested in computers, read computer magazines but wasn't in the position to purchase one. A friend had an Apple IIe that he lent to me. I had some weird infection, so I was home for a week or two. Between sleeping off the fever, I worked through a book on Pascal. The sense of possibilities, the intellectual challenge, the joy of accomplishment. Since then I've always had a programming project on the go. When my friends were learning the intricacies of the drawing and graphic programs, I was exploring assembly language.


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Debt Consolidation
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Debt Consolidation
In the United States, federal student loans are consolidated somewhat differently, as federal student loans are guaranteed by the U.S. government. In a federal student loan consolidation, existing loans are purchased and closed by a loan consolidation company or by the Department of Education (depending on what type of federal student loan the borrower holds). Interest rates for the consolidation are based on that year's student loan rate, which is in turn based on the 91-day Treasury bill rate at the last auction in May of each calendar year.

Student loan rates can fluctuate from the current low of 4.70% to a maximum of 8.25% for federal Stafford loans, 9% for PLUS loans. The current consolidation program allows students to consolidate once with a private lender, and reconsolidate again only with the Department of Education. Upon consolidation, a fixed interest rate is set based on the then-current interest rate. Reconsolidating does not change that rate. If the student combines loans of different types and rates into one new consolidation loan, a weighted average calculation will establish the appropriate rate based on the then-current interest rates of the different loans being consolidated together.

Federal student loan consolidation is often referred to as refinancing, which is incorrect because the loan rates are not changed, merely locked in. Unlike private sector debt consolidation, student loan consolidation does not incur any fees for the borrower; private companies make money on student loan consolidation by reaping subsidies from the federal government.

Student loan consolidation can be beneficial to students' credit rating, but it's important to note that not all federal student loan consolidation companies report their loans to all credit bureaus.

 
Debt Consolidation
In the United States, federal student loans are consolidated somewhat differently, as federal student loans are guaranteed by the U.S. government. In a federal student loan consolidation, existing loans are purchased and closed by a loan consolidation company or by the Department of Education (depending on what type of federal student loan the borrower holds). Interest rates for the consolidation are based on that year's student loan rate, which is in turn based on the 91-day Treasury bill rate at the last auction in May of each calendar year.

Student loan rates can fluctuate from the current low of 4.70% to a maximum of 8.25% for federal Stafford loans, 9% for PLUS loans. The current consolidation program allows students to consolidate once with a private lender, and reconsolidate again only with the Department of Education. Upon consolidation, a fixed interest rate is set based on the then-current interest rate. Reconsolidating does not change that rate. If the student combines loans of different types and rates into one new consolidation loan, a weighted average calculation will establish the appropriate rate based on the then-current interest rates of the different loans being consolidated together.

Federal student loan consolidation is often referred to as refinancing, which is incorrect because the loan rates are not changed, merely locked in. Unlike private sector debt consolidation, student loan consolidation does not incur any fees for the borrower; private companies make money on student loan consolidation by reaping subsidies from the federal government.

Student loan consolidation can be beneficial to students' credit rating, but it's important to note that not all federal student loan consolidation companies report their loans to all credit bureaus.
Debt Consolidation entails taking out one loan to pay off many others. This is often done to secure a lower interest rate, secure a fixed interest rate or for the convenience of servicing only one loan.

Debt consolidation can simply be from a number of unsecured loans into another unsecured loan, but more often it involves a secured loan against an asset that serves as collateral, which is most commonly a house (in this case a mortgage is secured against the house.) The collateralization of the loan allows a lower interest rate than without it, because by collateralizing, the asset owner agrees to allow the forced sale (foreclosure) of the asset in order to pay back the loan. The risk to the lender is reduced so the interest rate offered is lower.

Sometimes, debt consolidation companies can discount the amount of the loan. When the debtor is in danger of bankruptcy, the debt consolidator will buy the loan at a discount. A prudent debtor can shop around for consolidators who will pass along some of the savings. Consolidation can affect the ability of the debtor to discharge debts in bankruptcy, so the decision to consolidate must be weighed carefully.

Debt consolidation is often advisable in theory when someone is paying credit card debt. Credit cards can carry a much larger interest rate than even an unsecured loan from a bank. Debtors with property such as a home or car may get a lower rate through a secured loan using their property as collateral. Then the total interest and the total cash flow paid towards the debt is lower allowing the debt to be paid off sooner, incurring less interest. In practice, many people are in credit card debt because they spend more than their income. If that habit continues, the consolidation will not benefit them much because they will simply increase their credit card balances again.

Because of the theoretical advantage that debt consolidation offers a consumer that has high interest debt balances, companies can take advantage of that benefit of refinancing to charge very high fees in the debt consolidation loan. Sometimes these fees are near the state maximum for mortgage fees. In addition, some unscrupulous companies will knowingly wait until a client has backed themselves into a corner and must refinance in order to consolidate and pay off bills that they are behind on the payments. If the client does not refinance they may lose their house, so they are willing to pay any allowable fee to complete the debt consolidation. In some cases the situation is that the client does not have enough time to shop for another lender with lower fees and may not even be fully aware of them. This practice is known as predatory lending. Certainly many, if not most, debt consolidation transactions do not involve predatory lending.



Student Loan Consolidation

In the United States, federal student loans are consolidated somewhat differently, as federal student loans are guaranteed by the U.S. government. In a federal student loan consolidation, existing loans are purchased and closed by a loan consolidation company or by the Department of Education (depending on what type of federal student loan the borrower holds). Interest rates for the consolidation are based on that year's student loan rate, which is in turn based on the 91-day Treasury bill rate at the last auction in May of each calendar year.

Student loan rates can fluctuate from the current low of 4.70% to a maximum of 8.25% for federal Stafford loans, 9% for PLUS loans. The current consolidation program allows students to consolidate once with a private lender, and reconsolidate again only with the Department of Education. Upon consolidation, a fixed interest rate is set based on the then-current interest rate. Reconsolidating does not change that rate. If the student combines loans of different types and rates into one new consolidation loan, a weighted average calculation will establish the appropriate rate based on the then-current interest rates of the different loans being consolidated together.

Federal student loan consolidation is often referred to as refinancing, which is incorrect because the loan rates are not changed, merely locked in. Unlike private sector debt consolidation, student loan consolidation does not incur any fees for the borrower; private companies make money on student loan consolidation by reaping subsidies from the federal government.

Student loan consolidation can be beneficial to students' credit rating, but it's important to note that not all federal student loan consolidation companies report their loans to all credit bureaus; Experian or Transunion, which means that students will have differing credit scores at Equifax Transunion, and Experian.



Mortgage Loan Types
There are many types of mortgage loans. The two basic types of amortized loans are the fixed rate mortgage (FRM) and adjustable rate mortgage.

US-mortgage-rates-30yrFix.U.S. Historical mortgage rates for a 30-year FRM.

In a FRM, the interest rate, and hence monthly payment, remains fixed for the life (or term) of the loan. In the U.S., the term is usually for 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. The only increase a consumer might see in their monthly payments would result from an increase in their property taxes or insurance rates (paid using an escrow account, if they've opted to use an escrow). But payments for principal and interest will be consistent throughout the life of the loan using an FRM.

In an ARM, the interest rate is fixed for a period of time, after which it will periodically (annually or monthly) adjust up or down to some market index. Common indices in the U.S. include the Prime Rate, the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), and the Treasury Index ("T-Bill"). Other indexes like 11th District Cost of Funds Index, COSI, and MTA, are also available but are less popular.

Adjustable rates transfer part of the interest rate risk from the lender to the borrower, and thus are widely used where unpredictable interest rates make fixed rate loans difficult to obtain. Since the risk is transferred, lenders will usually make the initial interest rate of the ARM's note anywhere from 0.5% to 2% lower than the average 30-year fixed rate.

In most scenarios, the savings from an ARM outweigh its risks, making them an attractive option for people who are planning to keep a mortgage for ten years or less.

Additionally, lenders rely on credit reports and credit scores derived from them. The higher the score, the more creditworthy the borrower is assumed to be. Favorable interest rates are offered to buyers with high scores. Lower scores indicate higher risk to the lender, and lenders require higher interest rates in such scenarios to compensate for increased risk.

A partial amortization or balloon loan is one where the amount of monthly payments due are calculated (amortized) over a certain term, but the outstanding principal balance is due at some point short of that term. This payment is sometimes referred to as a "balloon payment". A balloon loan can be either a Fixed or Adjustable in terms of the Interest Rate. Many Second Trust mortgages use this feature. The most common way of describing a ''balloon loan'' uses the terminology X due in Y, where X is the number of years over which the loan is amortized, and Y is the year in which the principal balance is due. A contract could be written up so there would be more than one "balloon payment" required to be paid during the life of the loan.

Other loan types
Assumed mortgage
Blanket loan
Bridge loan
Budget loan
Commercial Loan
Deed of trust
Equity loan
Hard money loan
Jumbo mortgages
Package loan
Participation mortgage
Reverse mortgage
Repayment mortgage
Seasoned mortgage
Term loan or Interest-only loan
Wraparound mortgage
Negative amortization loan
Non-Conforming Mortgage



 
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