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Money in the Morning

Lost in all the doom and gloom the past few days was a report yesterday from the Federal Reserve that measures household wealth in the United States. Called the "flow of funds" report, it calculates all the assets owned by Americans and subtracts all the debt, with the resulting number being our net household wealth. It rose in the first quarter for the 18th consecutive quarter to a staggering $56.18 trillion. To paraphrase an old quote from the late Senator Everett Dirksen, "A trillion dollars here, a trillion dollars there, pretty soon you're talking about a lot of money."

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June is National Homeownership Month. The California Housing Finance Agency is using the opportunity to promote its programs to help first-time homebuyers, such as a mortgage protection program and a 40-year, fixed rate loan program. In addition, it offers a number of assistance programs like the Extra Credit Teacher Program that helps high priority schools attract and retain education professionals by offering incentives such as down payment assistance programs. In addition, interest on this second loan is forgiven entirely if the borrower stays in a high priority school for at least three years.

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Speaking of real estate, I finally found a Wall Street analyst who thinks it's a good time to buy a house. "We believe many recent 'bad reports' on housing, rather than suggesting a worsening collapse, merely reflect what has already happened. Although reports will remain volatile, evidence is mounting the worst in housing is already behind us and a bottom is nearing," wrote James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management. That's one guy you'll never see on CNBC or hear about from the UT.

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A bookkeeper at a Boston company has been sentenced to four years in prison for embezzling nearly $7 million from her former employer. The owner of the company, J&J Minerals, said he was forced to lay off 35 workers and downsize his company because of the losses. The bookkeeper used this illicit gains to buy a ranch in Vermont, a life-sized statute of Al Capone and a private performance by former Del Mar resident, Burt Bacharach.

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Someone told me this morning that a gas station in Pacific Beach had unleaded regular at $3.08 a gallon. It's kind of sad that we are now excited about gas at that price. Just think of the thrill when it gets below three bucks a gallon.

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