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Poll: Obama’s approval rating on economy hits low

Category: News and Notes- fhuff- 12:48 pm/ April 29, 2011

President Obama’s approval rating on the economy is at its lowest level ever, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll. The survey found that 57 percent of registered voters disapprove of how Obama is dealing with the nation’s economy, compared to 40 percent who approve.

“These economic numbers could spell trouble for President Obama’s re-election prospects,” Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, said in a statement. “Oddly, though, he still isn’t being faulted for the sluggish economy. Most think it was there waiting for him when he took office.”

Of the people who are not happy with Obama’s performance, 65 percent do not blame him for the problems, which they say he inherited. But 30 percent of people say the economy is in a shambles because of Obama’s policies.

There also is a greater feeling that things may get worse before they improve. When thinking about the economy, 57 percent believe it will get worse, while only 39 percent say the worst is in the past. That compares with January when only 39 percent believed things would get worse and 54 percent thought the worst was behind us.

If you believe the economy will get worse, make a plan to pay down debt, cut expenses and beef up your savings account. People who have a healthy emergency savings fund stand a better chance of weathering economic woes unscathed.

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Pacific Mercantile Bank has a 1-year certificate of deposit with a 1.26 percent annual percentage yield (APY). The Costa Mesa, Calif.-based bank also has other CD rates and terms, including:

  • 0.4 percent APY for 3 months
  • 1 percent APY for 6 months
  • 1.41 percent APY for 18 months
  • 1.48 percent for 24 months
  • 1.48 percent for 36 months
  • 1.48 percent for 60 months

Interest rates are current as of April 26, 2011, and are subject to change at any time. CD rates are fixed for the term upon opening an account. Interest is compounded daily and is credited to the account at maturity or according to an interest payment option you select when opening an account.

Certificate of deposit accounts have no monthly fees. Withdrawing money early from a CD may result in a penalty. To open a CD you need a minimum deposit of $10,000 for non-IRA accounts. To open an IRA certificate of deposit you need a minimum of $7,500. You can make three deposits into a CD before maturity if the term is six months or longer. Funds in Pacific Mercantile Bank accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC).

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A recent survey by J.D. Power and Associates found that customers had more satisfaction with banks this year than in 2010. Customers satisfaction rose 4 index points to 752 (based upon a 1,000 point scale), with improvement seen in the areas of account information, facility, problem resolution and product offerings.

However, satisfaction with bank fees fell even though the number of customers who were charged fees fell to 43 percent in 2011 from 53 percent last year. Of those customers charged fees, 18 percent said their fee structure had changed during the past 12 months, compared with 16 percent last year.

“While there has been a concerted effort made by the banking industry to get back to basics and provide customers with a satisfying retail bank experience overall, the well-publicized attempts by banks to recoup lost revenue due to Reg E debit card revisions by dropping free checking and repricing accounts has clearly had a negative effect,” said Michael Beird, director of banking services at J.D. Power and Associates. “The good news for consumers, and the challenge for the industry, is that banks are being forced to clearly define the value they’re providing for the prices they’re charging.”

Beird also noted that being charged higher fees does not necessarily translate into lower customer satisfaction. “Customers who completely understand their bank’s fee structure and value the products and services they receive tend to have higher levels of overall satisfaction, despite paying fees.”

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Connexus Credit Union has a checking account that earns up to 2.3 percent annual percentage yield (APY). The Xtraordinary Checking earns the high interest rate on balances up to $25,000. Details of the checking account include:

  • No minimum balance requirement
  • No monthly fee
  • Up to $25 of ATM charges reimbursed each month
  • Free Visa Check Card
  • Free online banking and electronic statements
  • Free mobile banking
  • Direct deposit
  • 1 percent rate reduction on consumer loans
  • Insured by the National Credit Union Administration

To qualify for the high interest rate you must have 15 Visa Check Card transactions clear your account by the last business day of the month and have one direct deposit made into the account by the end of the month. You also must sign up for free electronic statements and have one third-party bill clear your account by the last business day of the month. Checking accounts that don’t meet the requirements earn 0.25 percent APY. Qualifying accounts over $25,000 earn 0.5 percent APY.

Connexus Credit Union is based in Wausau, Wis., and serves employees, retirees and families of Liberty Mutual Insurance, UMR and Northcentral Technical College. However, anyone can join the credit union by first becoming a member of charitable organization Connexus Association when they make a $5 one-time donation.

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With U.S. savings rates currently averaging just 0.15 percent it’s important to shop around for the best deals from banks that consistenly offer competitive rates. To find the banks with the best interest rates MoneyRates.com has done an analysis of what was offered for the first quarter of 2011 in its America’s Best Rates feature.

MoneyRates.com found 7 banks that had savings rates that were above 1 percent on average during the first quarter. American Express topped the list with an average savings rate of 1.269 percent. Discover Bank came in second with 1.224 percent, followed by Capital One Bank with 1.221 percent.

Banks that made the list consistently have more competitive rates. But overall they all saw savings account rates slip in the quarter, reflecting a national trend. Eight of the ten banks listed for the first quarter were also on the list in the previous period.

The analysis also found three money market rates that averaged over 1 percent during the quarter. OneWest had the highest money money market rate at 1.100 percent, followed by Discover Bank (1.079 percent) and Ally Bank (1.070 percent ).

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