Our Thoughts

FJY News to Know #62

Oil Investors Brace for a Race to the Bottom on Prices after OPEC Meetings

A series of meetings in Vienna between OPEC members and other oil producers ended in strife last Friday, causing oil to drop 25%. The purpose of the meetings was to try and stabilize the price of oil. However, Saudi Arabia, the dominant leader of OPEC, said it would almost double its production of crude. Russia echoed the same sentiment, causing a ‘race to the bottom.’
The price of crude now stands at about $30 per barrel. To put it in perspective, the price of crude oil was over $50 roughly a year ago. Analysts remarked it might hit the $20 price. The cost of crude hasn’t been this low since 2016. Higher prices on crude will be harder to imagine any time soon, especially in light of the coronavirus — which is already impacting world demand. To see what analysts are saying about this commodity and the ensuing Saudi strategy, click here.

 

With COVID-19 Spreading Rapidly, Travel Abroad Becomes a Touch-And-Go Affair, but Which Countries are the Hot Spots?

With 110,000 cases of the novel coronavirus confirmed, traveling overseas becomes a precarious decision for many Americans. The U.S. has been semi-fortunate thus far — with a relatively low death toll. However, other countries aren’t faring as well: Italy is completely on lockdown now. The CDC and State Department have advised avoiding cruise ships in general. Other countries like Iran and South Korea are additional hot spots, and so the risk of visiting them increases substantially. Japan is more than concerned about the virus since it will be hosting the Summer Olympics this year. To read about other tips, as well as the insurance risk of traveling abroad — click here.

 

Is This a Good Time to Refinance? Maybe So, Maybe Not

As seen in our last week’s News to Know, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates again by half of a percent in response to the economic impact of the coronavirus. With these reasonably low new rates, it’s tempting to refi existing loans as a result. However, everyone’s situation is different, depending on the year of the originating loan. Mortgage rates are influenced by many different factors, including demand for new loans, economic conditions, inflation, and demand from investors to buy mortgage loan debt. Demand for loans generally increases when rates are low when existing homeowners are eager to refinance. If you purchased after 2012, it might be wise to look into a refi. A brief chat with an experienced lender might shed more light. To see a comparison of two different loans, and to read about the underlying forces of the industry — go here.

 

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Lawsuit Settled — A Win For Public Defender Employees

The Department of Education has settled a lawsuit filed by the American Bar Association (ABA). The ABA filed suit against the department in December 2016 — after they informed four ABA employees that their employment was no longer considered eligible for public service loan forgiveness. The 2016 change in the department’s interpretation of the rules affected about 1.5% of borrowers pursuing public service loan forgiveness. On February 22, 2019, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly found that the department acted arbitrarily — when it changed its interpretation of loan forgiveness regulations. The department also did not issue any notice about its new interpretation of the law. Judge Kelly was quoted as saying, “This is nonsense.” He found that the denial letters addressed to employees had an “immediate and significant impact on their ability to plan their careers and finances.” The case might be a precedent of sorts because it exposes the federal government to retroactively changing the rules. For more perspective and details about the case, click here.

 

Post-Mortem Emails: What Happens to Them After You Buy the Farm?

When you die in the U.S., nothing happens to your emails in most cases. That is unless you’ve set up an online tool, such as Google’s Inactive Account Manager.  This program allows you to delete your email account after a certain period of inactivity — from three to 18 months. The other option is to choose 10 beneficiaries to bequeath your Google data, including videos, calendars, and Drive content. Policy regarding employee deaths and their data varies from company to company. Also, policy varies from state-to-state, in lieu of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. To read more about this law, and how other countries treat data left by deceased employees, please visit this page.