Kansas wants you, America

The Week Staff

Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:

Bad financial advice for teachers
High-fee investments are leaving teachers with dramatically smaller nest eggs for their retirement plans, said Gretchen Morgenson and Anne Tergesen at The Wall Street Journal. Teachers with 403(b) accounts — government employees' equivalent of the 401(k) — ­typically have more than half their assets invested in annuities, which carry costs as high as 3 percent a year. "In contrast, fees on 401(k) accounts average less than 1 percent." For a typical account, over 25 years "an extra two percentage points in fees would cut 38 percent from the final account value." Some school districts also hire middlemen who "help teachers and other school employees choose investments." These "third-party administrators" promise independent ­advice — but are sometimes paid extra by mutual fund companies to steer teachers into higher-cost accounts.

Investing while black
Secret recordings at a Phoenix bank branch reveal "what racism in the banking industry sounds like," said Emily Flitter at The New York Times. Jimmy Kennedy, a former NFL lineman, started recording conversations with his financial adviser at JPMorgan Chase after he moved $800,000 into the bank but "kept getting the runaround" about becoming a private client, a status "reserved for accounts with more than $250,000." When he tried to find out why, Kennedy, who is black, was told that "bank employees were scared of dealing with him." "We're in Arizona," the adviser said. "I don't have to tell you about what the demographics are in Arizona. They don't see people like you a lot."

Kansas wants you, America
Topeka will pay you up to $15,000 to move there, said Kevin Hardy at The Kansas City Star. With the state capital's unemployment rate at 2.9 percent, near a 10-year low, businesses are struggling to fill openings and attract new talent. The "Choose Topeka" program, approved last week, offers up to $15,000 to pay for moving expenses for anyone who buys a primary home in the city, and $10,000 for people who rent. One caveat before you rush to pack up your stuff: The program has only $300,000 in its coffers for the first year. The city's difficulties mirror those of many smaller cities in an increasingly centralized economy. Topeka's not Kansas City, one local business leader says, where "you have a 2 million–plus metro, which sells itself."

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