Financials Lead the Dow's Jump Today

The Dow Jones is up as Putin appears to ease tensions in Ukraine.

May 7, 2014 at 1:31PM

Visa (NYSE:V) is helping to push the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) higher after Russian President Vladimir Putin took steps to ease tensions in Ukraine. As of 1:20 p.m. EDT the Dow was up 100 points to 16,501. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) was up 6 points to 1,873.

Today Russia moved troops away from the border in Ukraine. President Putin also said that Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine should postpone this Sunday's referendum on independence from Ukraine. Further, Putin called the May 25th presidential election "a movement in the right direction" and agreed to a proposal by Germany Chancellor Angel Merkel to start roundtable talks between Kiev and the separatists. However, The Washington Post interviewed a Pentagon spokesman who, when asked about Russia's presence on the Ukrainian border, replied, "We've seen no change." We will have to wait and see what happens.

Visa is one of the Dow's top stocks today, up 1.1% because the Russian president's moves, if real, decrease the chance of further sanctions on Russia. Visa has over 100 million cards in Russia and could be disallowed from working with certain Russian banks if they were the target of sanctions. Both Visa and MasterCard (NYSE:MA) highlighted Russia on their earnings calls as something that could hurt the companies' performance. Roughly 2% of MasterCard's revenue came from Russia in the most recent quarter, while Visa counts on Russia for 3% to 4% of its revenue. Both payment processors temporarily had to stop working with SMP Bank, as its owners are both sanctioned by the U.S. government.

In response to the sanctions, President Putin ordered the government to begin work on building a new payment network to be owned by the government. New laws are also in the works to require payment companies to house all Russian data in Russia, pay fees for any discontinuations of service, and meet new collateral requirements. It remains to be seen whether Russia can pass all of these laws or implement a nationalized payment network. But of the two major U.S. payment-processors, Visa has the most to lose if the situation in Russia gets worse.

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Dan Dzombak can be found on Twitter @DanDzombak. He has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends MasterCard and Visa. The Motley Fool owns shares of MasterCard and Visa. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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