• Tomislav Perko is the first to admit that his short-lived career as a stockbroker was an epic disaster.

    He stumbled into the job in his native Zagreb, Croatia in 2007 when he was only 23. The thrill of chasing the market was addictive, and the fact that he was earning as much as $10,000 a month didn’t hurt either. At the time, the youth unemployment rate in Croatia was more than 20% and he was easily out-earning all of his peers.

    “I had my own apartment. I bought everything I wanted, went to all the parties, all the restaurants,” says Perko, who spoke exclusively with Yahoo Finance. “I was always thinking money is what makes you successful. I thought that was what I was supposed to do my entire life.”

    He was young, wealthy, and (not unsurprisingly) a little cocky. He eventually convinced several family members and friends to pool about $30,000 of their savings and let him invest it in the market himself.

    “I told them they could not lose,” he says. “In those days, you couldn’t

    Read More »from '1,000 days of summer': An ex-stock broker travels around the world on $10 a day
  • The Dow (^DJI) ended the day down 0.08%, The Nasdaq (^IXIC) was down 0.83% and the S&P 500 (^GSPC) was down 0.22%.

    A disappointing report on the housing market overshadowed some upbeat earnings report. New home sales in March fell 14.5% from February to an annual rate of 385,000, the lowest level since July. That was well short of the 450,000 economists were expecting. The Northeast was the only region to see the pace of sales pick up in March.

    Median home prices rose to $290,000 in March, up 12.6% over last year.

    In corporate news, Delta Air Lines shares (DAL) were up 6.07% after it reported earnings per share of $0.33 which beat estimates of $0.29 a share.

    Shares of Gilead Sciences (GILD) were up 1.39% on news strong sales of its Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi which helped it beat earnings forecasts by wide margins.

    Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) shares were up 3.99% after it reported earnings of $0.74 a share this morning, beating estimates of $0.59 a share.

    Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB)

    Read More »from Stocks ended the day down after mixed earnings and housing market news
  • Many CFOs who initially put off their retirement from top U.S. firms as a result of the recession have recently decided that their companies are financially fit enough to leave to a successor, according to recent data.

    More than 36 percent of CFO departures were retirements versus a historical average of about 23 percent, according to a report from the Korn Ferry Institute, which analyzed company and CFO data on the top 1000 U.S. firms by revenue.

    "Some of those CFOs planned to retire earlier on but stayed through the recovery and they found that as the shareholder value increased, they found it as a good time to cash out and take the retirement," said Bryan Proctor, global co-leader of Korn Ferry's Financial Officer Center of Expertise.

    RELATED: New CFO challenges push firms to harness big data

    Last year, industrial and financial services firms saw the highest turnover as those companies saw improved financial results, but turnover is expected to level off in those sectors this year,

    Read More »from More CFOs at top firms feel comfortable enough to retire
  • Update: Apple's iPhone renaissance got an early start. The company just reported sales of almost 44 million iPhones in the first quarter, about 6 million more than Wall Street expected, helping drive revenue and profits higher than expected, as well. Shares of Apple jumped 8% to over $566 in after hours trading.

    ---------

    Apple (AAPL) grew from the edge of bankruptcy to become the most valuable company in the U.S. stock market by making highly profitable devices for fast-growing markets, whether it was iPods, iPhones, or  at least at the start  iPads.

    Lately, it’s been all stagnation and shrinkage for Apple and its investors. At $528.60 on Wednesday, Apple shares remain 25% below their September 2012 all-time high of $705.07 while, over the same period, rivals such as Google (GOOGL) and Microsoft (MSFT) have posted big gains.

    And while almost everything you read about Apple now is pessimistic at best, there’s a simple and straightforward bullish case for the company, one that

    Read More »from Amid a wall of pessimism, it’s not hard to see a bullish case for Apple
  • They say home is where the heart is. If that's true, we can expect to hear more and more of that comforting beat coming from much higher up in the sky.

    High-rise living, shunned by our parents and grandparents as a second-rate option for those who can't afford to buy a proper house, is fast becoming the norm for Canadians.

    Just over one million people in this country call a skyscraper home today. The vast majority (nearly 700,000) of condo dwellers can be found in our largest urban centres, including Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

    Existing condos currently account for about 15 per cent of total housing in the Big-Three cities, and just over 8 per cent nation-wide, according to Royal Lepage.

    But, like the Toronto skyline, that ratio is expected to change dramatically over the next few decades. Driven largely by affordability and steady immigration into core urban centres, high-rise condos already account for about 40 per cent of new-home construction in our largest cities. That's

    Read More »from Canadians falling in love with condo living?
  • Buying a car? You may want to avoid the newest models

    Exclusive analysis done for Yahoo Finance shows newly introduced models may be more prone to problems.

    If you want to stump a car buff, ask what the Acura RLX, Dodge Dart, Ford Fusion, Ford Escape and Mercedes-Benz SL roadster have in common. When there’s no answer, explain that all have been recalled for fixes during the past few months for problems that occurred early in the lifespan of the vehicle.

    Auto recalls have gotten a lot of attention lately on account of the General Motors (GM) flap involving 2.6 million recalled vehicles with faulty ignition switches that can turn deadly. Yet that recall, which involves cars dating to 2003 and spans at least nine model years, is far from typical. More common are cars recalled early in their life, when the design is relatively new, as automakers work out bugs that occur when a model is first assembled.

    Analysis conducted for Yahoo Finance by Stout Risius Ross, an auto-industry financial advisory firm, suggests more things go wrong with newly introduced or redesigned cars than with models that have been on the road for a few years. These

    Read More »from Buying a car? You may want to avoid the newest models
  • More than ever Millennials and baby boomers are ditching their spread-out suburban lives and packing it in for the city.

    Columbia Professor Vishaan Chakrabarti wrote in a New York Times Op-ed last week that lower crime, better schools and more parks are making cities increasingly appealing while the difficulties of attaining mortgages and car loans, combined with a new environmental and social consciousness, make suburban living seem retro and ill-fitting for today's society.

    Professor Chakrabarti, author of A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America joined the Daily Ticker to discuss what he calls the “beginning stages of a historic urban reordering.”

    Related: Why Millennials Will Never Be Happy

    “I think these trends are going to continue because we’re facing a new set of challenges and opportunities as a country,” says Chakrabarti. “Our economy has shifted almost completely towards a service economy…[and] we have a new environmental consciousness.”

    Chakrabarti also points

    Read More »from Is it time to stop subsidizing the suburbs?
  • If McDonald's (MCD) focus for the months ahead were to be described in a word, "core" would suffice, for both its menu and its markets.

    The world's biggest restaurant chain measured by sales indicated Tuesday that four of the largest countries in its system  including the U.S.  along with its best-known items will get considerable attention from the corporate office as it bids to restore customer growth and keep the menu workable.

    In addition to  the United States, "stabilizing key priority markets" of Germany, Japan and Australia will be critical to staving off competition, whether from Burger King (BKW) or Chipotle (CMG),  either at home or abroad. The U.S. is Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's most saturated market, with more than 14,000 stores. However, the top four countries together accounted for 56% of total global locations, making up 19,830 of the 35,429 restaurants McDonald's had at year end.

    At the same time, McDonald's, which has previously said its menu had become too

    Read More »from McDonald's gets it right with focus on 'core' markets and menu
  • It looks almost like a marriage made in heaven: Liberal entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are starting companies that can profit from the growing marijuana trade.

    "The entire tech-industrial complex is getting in on the action: investors, entrepreneurs, biotechnologists, scientists" and more, writes Mat Honan, senior writer at WIRED, in his latest story "High Tech: How Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are rushing to cash in on cannabis."

    Related: Grover Norquist wants "tax equality" for marijuana industry

    These entrepreneurs include manufacturers of vaporizers such as Firefly and UpToke, which allow pot smokers to inhale vapor instead of smoke; software makers including MJ Freeway and Agrisoft, which track pot sales and inventory; and the Stanley Brothers  Jared, Jesse, Joel, Jon, Jordan, and Josh  who operate medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado in addition to a nonprofit that produces a strain of medical marijuana.

    Named for a young epileptic patient, the Stanley Brothers’

    Read More »from A new frontier for Silicon Valley: The marijuana trade
  • A new study says Canada’s middle class is among the richest in the world, ahead of the United States, but economists say there’s little in the numbers to cheer about - and a few caveats.

    According to a study done by The New York Times, based on data from the Luxembourg Income Study Database, median income in Canada tied with the U.S. in 2010 and has outpaced it since then.

    “After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States,” says the report.

    It says median income also rose 20 per cent in Canada between 2000 and 2010, to the equivalent of US$18,700.

    That’s equal to the U.S., but the study points out pay in Canada has risen faster than pay in the U.S. since then.

    Economists say that’s likely because the U.S. economy took a bigger hit than Canada’s during the 2008-09 recession, but our neighbours to the south are quickly catching up.

    Consider that the U.S. unemployment rate is now lower than in Canada and its

    Read More »from Canada’s middle class has little to cheer about
  • Do you love bacon? How much?

    The price of bacon has gone up 13% in the last year and a whopping 53% since January 2010, according to 24/7 Wall St.

    Prices of fruit, meats - even coffee - have increased dramatically over the last few years. Drought conditions and disease affecting crops and livestock are reducing supply and driving up the prices of many food staples.

    While food prices are rising, the Federal Reserve is concerned that inflation is too low. In a speech last week, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said, “With inflation running at around 1%, at this point I think the risk is greater that we should be worried about inflation undershooting our goal and getting inflation back up to 2%.”

    In the corresponding video, Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Aaron Task spoke with Lauren Lyster about rising food prices at the same time the Fed is concerned about inflation being too low.

    “The Federal Reserve and Janet Yellen - they think inflation is too low,” Task said. “And yet, you talk to

    Read More »from Food prices are rising... but inflation's too low? Why the disconnect?
  • Gilead Sciences (GILD) reported earnings after the bell Tuesday and blew through estimates, driven by $2.27 billion in sales for its new $1,000 a day hepatitis C treatment Sovaldi, which is believed to be the best-selling prescription drug launch in history, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    The question remains, is the drug's $84,000 price tag for a standard 12-week treatment, which breaks down to $1,000 for each pill taken daily, too steep? It's a question that has been asked on the New York Times editorial pages, in a letter from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and other members of Congress to Gilead Chief Executive John C. Martin, as well as by insurers, Medicaid programs and doctors. In the accompanying video, Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Aaron Task and I debate the issue. Check out the video to see why Task defends Gilead's pricing of the drug. 

    The company contends Sovaldi's price tag is justified by its higher cure rate, shorter treatment time (not to mention with fewer side

    Read More »from Is there anything wrong with a $1,000 per day prescription drug?
  • Apple (AAPL) reports earnings Wednesday after the market close. Wall Street is not expecting particularly impressive results. The focus of most Apple investors appears to be on the new products Apple is expected to roll out in the second half of this year.

    And those products are indeed critical for the company and its stock price.

    Related: Apple is too big to keep a lid on the rumor mill anymore — Here’s the latest

    A few years ago, Apple was one of the greatest growth stories in the stock market. For more than a decade, the company astounded Wall Street with one smashing quarter after another. Eventually, Apple's lead in smartphones and tablets seemed insurmountable, and Apple's stock price soared above $700 per share.

    But then the premium smartphone market hit maturity, and smaller, cheaper tablets began to gobble up more and more market share.

    And now Apple is no longer a growth company.

    In fact, based on Wall Street's estimates for this quarter, it's a shrinking company.  Gene

    Read More »from It's put up or shut up time for Apple
  • Earnings continue to pour in, with three Dow components reporting this morning before the open or after the close yesterday. AT&T (T) beat estimates by a penny after the close. The company reported strong subscriber growth in the first quarter, adding more than a million wireless subscribers, including 625,000 with long-term contracts. Boeing (BA) reported this morning, beating earnings per share handily. The company also raised its earnings estimate for the year. Procter & Gamble (PG) beat earnings, but said sales were negatively impacted by foreign currency fluctuations. So far, corporate earnings overall have been just ok. Most companies are beating estimates, but not by as wide a margin as in years past. In response, stocks have been on a slow, steady upward trend, but just without the huge percentage swings that became common in recent months.

    Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Aaron Task said expectations were so low that anything above estimates is being greeted as “not as bad as

    Read More »from Stocks to watch: T, BA, PG, DAL, BIIB, AAPL, FB
  • Apple looks bullish into earnings

    Erik Swarts is an independent trader and market technician. He writes the superb and provocative Market Anthropology Blog.

    As Apple (AAPL) pulls into another earnings report after the bell Wednesday, we thought we would update our momentum comparative that has painted the inflections and trajectory on the tech behemoth quite closely over the past 16 months.

    While Apple's performance this year has not surprisingly consolidated the strong upside reversal witnessed in 2013, the momentum going into earnings is still presenting an upside bias for the stock.

    As one of the only individual equity names that we cover closely and carry, we continue to like the position. With a return of almost 40% over the past year, the value potential in Apple has both outperformed the broader indexes (SPX~20% & Nasdaq~29%) and its closest tech contemporaries - even Google (~35%) and Amazon (~27%).

    Considering our expectations that risk aversion and volatility are poised to rise in the equity markets through

    Read More »from Apple looks bullish into earnings
  • Stocks ended the day in the green. The Dow (^DJI) was up 0.40% The Nasdaq (^IXIC) up 0.97% and the S&P 500 (^GSPC) up 0.41%. Investors had a lot of news to digest with upbeat earnings reports from Netflix (NFLX), Comcast (CMCSA) and Harley-Davidson (HOG), a miss from McDonald’s (MCD) and a flurry of pharmaceutical deals.

    There were big moves between Novartis (NVS), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Eli Lilly (LLY) with the firms announcing several multi-billion dollar deals between them. Meanwhile, billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management and Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) announced a bid for Allergan (AGN), the maker of Botox. Shares of Valeant were up 6.87% and shares of Allergan were up 15.25%.

    Related: Big pharma deals signal next phase of growth

    After the closing bell today, watch for earnings from another pharmaceutical giant, Amgen (AMGN). AT&T (T) and Yum Brands (YUM) will also report after the close.

    In other corporate news, General Motors (GM)

    Read More »from Earnings and big pharma deals drive stocks up
  • When Camila Slusarczyk’s daughter turned one, the Vancouver mom threw a birthday party that would have impressed Juliette Binoche. The rented venue had French doors leading out to a pretty patio. Paris was the theme, and the event for 24 children came complete with France Gall music playing in the background, a mini Louvre where kids painted on small canvases, and macarons, clafoutis, and éclairs to eat, along with two pink ombre cakes. She even had a pink and black colour scheme — classic Chanel.

    Slusarczyk made the invitations and decorations herself, and instead of handing out goody bags full of cheap plastic toys, she sent the kids home with a home-made cookie in the shape of the Eiffel Tower. But she admits she still spent a small fortune — a little over $1,000, in fact.

    Would she do it again?

    “Yes,” she says emphatically. “It was fun. I know the little one had no clue what was going on, but it was exactly how I envisioned it. I have my memories and my photos, and this kind of

    Read More »from Birthdays on a budget: How to cut the cost of kids’ parties
  • Characters like Jordan Belfort (the DiCaprio-depiction) and Gordon Gekko fill the big screen and young minds with dreams of Wall Street grandeur and luxury. And maybe once-upon-a-time working for a big bank was full of such excess, but today, says Kevin Roose, it’s less about a spoil of riches and more about long hours and thankless work.

    Roose followed eight young Wall Street hopefuls over the course of three years for his book "Young Money." What he found was that the job wasn’t quite what they expected it to be. “It wasn’t anything like The Wolf of Wall Street,” he says.

    “It was like a dystopian nightmare. They got there and were immediately thrust into these jobs where they were working sometimes 100 to 110 hours a week. There’s a thing called the bankers 9-to-5…where you show up for work at 9am and you don’t leave until the next day at 5am.”  

    Related: What it's really like to work on Wall Street

    The young bankers also found that a certain shame came with holding their job titles

    Read More »from Working on Wall Street is 'a dystopian nightmare': Kevin Roose
  • A new pipeline is releasing crude oil that had been stuck in the middle of the country and feeding it to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. While that refinery is shipping gasoline and diesel to the East Coast, a growing portion of that oil is going to other countries like Brazil, the Netherlands and Mexico.

    The Wall Street Journal, citing the U.S. Energy Information Association, reports that the country’s gas stockpiles are at their lowest levels for this time of year since 2011, while the average price for a gallon of gas on Monday was $3.68, up 4.2% compared to a year ago.

    Nancy White, a spokesperson for AAA, is quoted in The Wall Street Journal saying, “Production is going overseas, so that impacts the supply here, and that will drive prices up.”

    In the corresponding video, Senior Columnist Mike Santoli spoke with Lauren Lyster about gas prices and exports. He says one of the reasons companies are selling oil overseas is that Americans are driving less. “Miles-driven has not yet

    Read More »from Poll: Should the U.S. reduce gasoline exports in response to rising prices at home?
  • Nearly six years after the financial crisis sent the global economy reeling and nearly four years after Dodd-Frank legislation passed Congress, not much has happened to address one of the key causes of the 2008 meltdown: The Rating Agencies.

    "It is scandalous and barely believable...that credit rating agencies are still being hired and paid exactly as they were in the bad old days," Princeton professor and former Fed vice chair Alan Blinder writes in his latest WSJ op-ed.

    In the accompanying video, Blinder discusses three proposals to address the "issuer-pays" model of compensation:  

    Increase agencies' legal liabilities: "As things stand now, it is nearly impossible to sue a rating agency successfully...because ratings are deemed to be 'opinions' protected by free speech," Blinder writes.

    Pay rating agencies via a third party: "The nub of the problem is the people getting these ratings are paying for them," Blinder says. If rating agencies were paid by "something other than the

    Read More »from "Sticking out like a sore thumb": Alan Blinder wants to reform the ratings agencies
  • Now that the Social Security Administration has decided to begin mailing out paper benefit statements to workers again, we might start looking forward to getting snail mail for once. Or at least we should.

    Beginning in September, workers older than 25 will begin receiving their benefits statements once every five years. Benefit statements provide a detailed snapshot of how much you can expect to earn in monthly Social Security benefits when you hit retirement age, plus your estimated disability and Medicare benefits.

    We know. It all sounds a little backward. When 80% of Americans have access to the Internet at home, why waste government resources to send us information we could easily find online? After all, the Social Security Administration (SSA) went digital in 2012 to save money.  

    The reality is that only a fraction (6%) of workers are currently signed up to get their statement online, according to the SSA. If you’re young, healthy and working today, chances are you aren’t too

    Read More »from This is one Social Security document you don't want to toss
  • Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings learned the hard way that announcing a big price increase can blow up into a huge controversy. So for his latest effort to charge more, he’s moving slowly – very slowly.

    Along with Monday’s quarterly earnings release for Wall Street, Hastings said the cost of Netflix would go up $1 to $2 a month for new customers, depending on the country. Current customers will be “generously grandfathered” for at least a year, maybe two. Hastings had foreshadowed the increase on January’s earnings call as well, confirming that Netflix was testing different price points.

    But at the current popular price of $7.99 a month, Netflix is growing like mad and expanding worldwide. It gained almost 12 million paying members over the past year and revenue was up 24%. So why the need for a price increase?

    Further, there's obviously some risk for Hastings with this tactic. Back in 2011, his plan to spin off DVD operations into a new unit called Qwikster and raise prices 60% had

    Read More »from Why Netflix is raising your monthly bill as much as 20% — eventually
  • To make it far in Hollywood, one needs talent, looks and a good agent. Some of Hollywood's biggest stars have been able to secure multi-millions for movie projects that otherwise would have netted them only a small fortune. Take A-list celeb Sandra Bullock, for instance. Her Oscar-nominated performance in "Gravity" earned her rave reviews...and an estimated $70 million paycheck. Bullock was paid $20 million upfront for her role in Alfonso Cuaron's space thriller and then received a big cut of the movie's box office receipts; "Gravity" took in $710 million worldwide.

    Bullock's decision to forgo her usual salary in exchange for back end points is not unusual: Bruce Willis, Cameron Diaz, Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves and Tom Hanks have also reaped huge financial rewards for clever contracts.

    "If you’re really an A-list star and you’ve got negotiating clout...you can share in the pot of gold," says Adam Markovitz, senior writer at Entertainment Weekly, in the video above.

    The deal Diaz

    Read More »from The top Hollywood deals negotiated by actors
  • Charlie Bilello, CMT is the director of research at Pension Partners, LLC. He's responsible for strategy development, investment research and communicating the firm's investment themes and porfolio positioning to clients. Follow Charlie's smart Twitter stream here > @MktOutperform.

    One of the most misused and destructive phrases in the investment world is the notion of a “stock picker’s market.”

    In a relentless uptrending market, investors become highly confident in their ability to pick stocks and almost any name they buy is going “up and to the right.” We saw the most extreme example of this in 2013, which set a record in terms of breadth with 93% of stocks in the S&P 500 finishing positive on the year. Never mind the fact that a blindfolded monkey throwing darts was likely to pick a winning stock last year; most investors came out of 2013 believing they were the next Warren Buffett.


    In a sideways or down market as we are observing this year (52% of stocks in the S&P 500 are positive

    Read More »from There's no such thing as a "stock picker's market"
  • American workers may be finally taking the hint about the best time to cash in on Social Security benefits.

    In 2012, 37.2% of men and 42.4% of women took advantage of early retirement benefits at age 62, according to new data released by the Social Security Administration. That’s compared with more than half of both men (50.3%) and women (54.3%) who couldn’t wait to get their hands on their retirement benefits in 2004.

    Those who waited heeded the warnings of countless financial experts who advise retirees to delay their benefits for as long as possible. The earliest beneficiaries can start collecting Social Security is 62. The later workers start collecting benefits, the higher their monthly income will be (the average monthly benefit in 2014 for a 62-year-old who began working at age 22 is $1,992 vs. $3,425 for a 70-year-old).

    But as positive as this new data may be, it still paints a grim picture of our reliance on Social Security as a source of income in retirement. Only 5.2% of men

    Read More »from More Americans are following this smart Social Security strategy
  • Here’s a look a look at some of the stocks the Yahoo Finance team will be watching for you today.

    Dow component McDonald's (MCD) reported earnings that missed Wall Street estimates. Earnings came in at $1.21, $0.03 shy of estimates. Revenue was up 1.4% percent year over year to $6.7 billion. After disappointing sales last quarter, that was just short of the $6.73 billion analysts were expecting. McDonald's has been facing rising competition, notably from Taco Bell and its new breakfast campaign that takes direct aim at McDonald's.

    Gilead Sciences (GILD) is expected to report earnings after the close today. Yesterday, the company announced the Food and Drug Administration accepted two new drug applications for HIV treatments. Also yesterday, Citigroup (C) said Gilead topped its list of best "buy"-rated stocks with a market cap of at least $3 billion. Citi said it believes Gilead will generate significant cash. The company is expected to report a jump in revenue to $3.9 billion in the

    Read More »from Stocks to watch: MCD, GILD, CMCSA, NFLX
  • There are big moves in the pharmaceutical sector this morning. Swiss drug giant Novartis (NVS), Britain's GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and U.S.-based Eli Lilly (LLY) announced a series of deals and joint ventures. Novartis is selling Glaxo its oncology business for $14.5 billion and its vaccines business for $5 billion. The two companies will also form a joint venture to create a consumer drug giant. And Eli Lilly will buy Novartis' animal health unit for $5 billion.

    Separately, Bill Ackman's Pershing Square and Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) announced a bid for Botox maker, Allergan (AGN). The cash and stock deal could be worth about $45 billion dollars. Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management is Allergan’s largest shareholder, with 9.7% of the company’s stock.

    This flurry of big pharma deals follows yesterday's reports of a possible $100 billion merger between Pfizer (PFE) and AstraZeneca (AZN).

    Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Michael Santoli said the deals appear to be a signal that

    Read More »from Big pharma deals signal next phase of growth
  • Home values in more than 1,000 U.S. cities are expected to surpass their pre-2008 levels within the year, according to a new report released today by Zillow.

    "It's definitely a mixed bag of news,” says Humphries in the video above. “On the one hand you’re happy that home prices are recovering so nicely. On the other hand home values were definitely overvalued in 2006 and the fact that just so shortly after the greatest housing recession of the century we’re already seeing a lot of metros return to their peak levels is a sign for how robust the recovery is...but some markets are definitely in danger of overheating again.”

    Related: Momentum may be changing in the housing market: Robert Shiller

    He continues: "In some markets, people are spending more of their incomes on a mortgage than they did during the 15 years before the housing runoff," says Humphries. "Broadly speaking though, at a national level we think homes are still very affordable."

    (Watch the video to see which markets are

    Read More »from Housing is in danger of overheating again: Zillow's Stan Humphries
  • There is "absolutely no doubt" in Thomas Piketty's mind that increased inequality in the U.S. contributed to the financial crisis that slammed the housing and financial markets in 2007 and 2008.

    The author of this year's hot-selling economics book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, writes, "One consequence of increasing inequality was virtual stagnation of the purchasing power of the lower and middle classes in the United States, which inevitably made it more likely that modest households would take on debt, especially since unscrupulous banks and financial intermediaries .... offered credit on increasingly generous terms."

    Related: U.S. inequality looks like Europe before WWI: Thomas Piketty

    And that borrowing, as we know, left many mortgage holders with much more debt than they could handle. Foreclosures soared, mortgage lenders failed and some top Wall Street firms heavily involved in the mortgage-backed securities market like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers went bankrupt.

    Read More »from How income inequality can lead to more financial crises
  • There are big moves in the pharmaceutical sector this morning. Swiss drug giant Novartis (NVS), Britain's GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and U.S.-Eli Lilly (LLY) announced a series of deals and joint ventures. Novartis is selling Glaxo its oncology business for $14.5 billion and its vaccines business for $5 billion. The two companies will also form a joint venture to create a consumer drug giant. And Eli Lilly will buy Novartis' animal health unit for $5 billion.

    Separately, Bill Ackman's Pershing Square and Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) announced a bid for Botox maker, Allergan (AGN). The cash and stock deal could be worth about $45 billion. Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management is Allergan’s largest shareholder, with 9.7% of the company’s stock.

    This flurry of big pharma deals follows yesterday's reports of a possible $100 billion merger between Pfizer (PFE) and AstraZeneca (AZN)

    Some of the other stocks the Yahoo Finance team will be watching for you today include McDonald’s (MCD).

    Read More »from Big moves in Pharma; McDonald's earnings; Gas prices on the rise

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