But first . . .

HOW OLD WILL YOU BE IN 2035?

Mark McMahon: ‘I am currently investing monthly in the Vanguard Target Retirement 2035 Fund as a way to supplement a pension. Are you familiar with this fund and if so would you recommend it for someone who wants a decent return and a hands-off approach?’

☞ Vanguard is always a good choice because of its low expenses and high integrity. And monthly investing, in the long run – whatever economic calamities may occur along the way – is a great way to attain financial security.

LA BUBBLE

In small part:

When the price of houses in California soared 17% in 2003 and 22% in 2004, a curious thing happened: Instead of home ownership decreasing because fewer people could afford houses, it rose to record levels . . .

Confronted with soaring home prices, Californians are adopting a “buy now, pay later” strategy on a massive scale. The boom in interest-only loans – nearly half the state’s home buyers used them last year, up from virtually none in 2001- is the engine behind California’s surging home prices.

But all that borrowed money might be living on borrowed time. When higher bills start coming due, Herron and hundreds of thousands of other homeowners in the state will have to find ways to cope – or will have to sell.

In the most dire scenario, if they owe more on the home than it’s worth, they’ll simply walk away. Abundant foreclosures could spark a downturn in the entire housing market, leading to the long-feared bursting of what some call a housing bubble.

. . . “If you can fog a mirror, you can get a home loan,” said mortgage analyst Ralph DeFranco.

SCALLOPS

John Lemon: ‘Just wanted to say that, as miserable as I have frankly been over the past seven months (what with the election and getting cancer and all – not sure which was worse) I recently experienced a moment of unadulterated ecstasy thanks to your wonderful scallop recipe. I guess while our civil rights are being eroded, the environment is being pillaged and the nation itself becomes increasingly isolated and vulnerable, I can take solace in being able to afford a pound of bi-valve delicacies once a week. It is indeed a grand time to be rich and powerful in America.’

And now . . .

CURVEBALL

Here is why each member of your family has already spent more than $1,000 attacking and occupying Iraq . . . each American’s share of an enterprise whose goals, with better planning and management, could have been achieved at a small fraction of the cost in cash and human tragedy. It turns out that in deciding to launch this effort before we were ready, we relied on one drunk we whom we knew to be highly suspect. And lost the goodwill of much of the world in the process.

Ah, but those scallops!

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