Saturday, October 18, 2008

Freemasonry is not compatible with Christianity or Southern Baptist doctrine.

Freemasonry

By NAMB Staff
During the annual session of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), June 15-17, 1993, the messengers overwhelmingly approved a report on Freemasonry. This action recognized the many charitable endeavors of Freemasonry. It also acknowledged that "many outstanding Christians and Southern Baptists now are, and in the past have been Masons."1 For the first time in the history of the SBC, however, the Convention concluded, "many tenets and teachings of Freemasonry are not compatible with Christianity or Southern Baptist doctrine."2 The report accepted by the Convention identified eight tenets and teachings of Freemasonry that it concluded were not compatible with Christianity.3
First Incompatibility: The prevalent use of offensive concepts, titles, and terms such as "Worshipful Master" for the leader of a lodge; references to their buildings as "mosques," "shrines," or "temples"; and the use of words such as "Abaddon" and "Jah- Bul-On,"4 the so-called secret name of God. To many, these terms are not only offensive but sacrilegious.
Biblical Response: The so-called secret name of God illustrates the offensive nature of the above terms for Christians. Albert Pike, one of the most influential Masonic writers, explained the first two syllables of the secret name in his discussion of the old French rituals of Freemasonry:
This is probably Jabulum, incorrectly copied; which, as I have shown, meant 'the product of, that which proceeded, issued or emanated from Om.'
If correctly written, it is compounded of … Yu or Yah-u,… Baal or Bal or Bel, and Om, thus combining the names of the Hebrew, Phoenician and Hindu Deities, to indicate that they are in reality the same. In some old rituals it is Jabulum.5
Many leaders of Freemasonry confuse pagan deities with the true God of the Bible. The Christian Scriptures never represent pagan deities as simply different representations of the one true God. The Bible rejects all pagan deities as false gods and goddesses. Exodus 20:4-5 states: "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me." The Bible also rejects the idea that idolaters worship the true God but know Him by a different name. Israel used the correct personal name for God, yet God rejected their worship because of their use of an idol.
He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, "Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD." So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.'"
"I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation" (Ex. 32:4- 10).6
Non-Christian religions recognize many different gods and goddesses, but none of these are a representation of the true God of the Bible. All pagan deities are false gods and must be rejected by Christians. The gods and goddesses of the non-Christian religions are different in nature and character from the biblical God. The differences are far greater and more significant than the terminology or name used to refer to God. No Christian should have any part in a ritual that honors or glorifies a pagan deity.
The 31st degree of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction is especially troubling for Christians because of the honor and glory it attributes to Egyptian deities. The following quotes are from the official Masonic commentary on the Scottish Rite degrees:
The second section takes place in a re-creation of the Court of the Dead in Egyptian mythology, a place where judgment is rendered on the worthiness of a recently deceased man to enter into the kingdom of the gods. This section of the ritual relies heavily on The Book of the Dead.
The candidate is brought into the Court of the Dead to be judged for actions while living and to determine if he deserves to dwell among the gods. His escort is Horus. Isis, Horus' mother, speaks first, inquiring whose ka has come to be judged.
Through Horus, the candidate claims to have led the most virtuous of lives. The gods express their hope that he speaks the truth. They ask him to approach the balance and stand near the body that was his in life.
Isis now directs the candidate to the altar of the great god Khem, the source of life. Here she inquires about the honesty of the deceased through six questions. Thoth again records the answers.
The answers to all of the specific questions before the altars of various deities are now thrown upon the balance, making the pans nearly equal.
Osiris, having once been a man and subject to the passions and weaknesses of human existence, knows that the other gods cannot appreciate human fallibility. He renders the final judgment-this man is worthy of admittance into the realm of everlasting light and rest and peace.7
The above reference to the Egyptian god Osiris goes so far as to attribute to him the same qualities and preeminence that the Bible assigns to Christ Jesus.8 Any participation by Christians in such rituals (even by proxy) is inexcusable. Joshua 23:7 states: "Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them."
Second Incompatibility: The use of archaic, offensive rituals and so-called "bloody oaths" or "obligations," among these being that promised by the Entered Apprentice:
"All this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, . . . binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my throat cut from ear to ear, my tongue torn out by its roots, and buried in the sands of the sea, at low water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-five hours, should I, in the least, knowingly or wittingly violate or transgress this my Entered Apprentice obligation."
Or that of the Fellow Craft degree:
"All this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, . . . binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my left breast torn open, my heart plucked from thence, and given to the beast of the field and the birds of the air as prey, should I, in the least, knowingly or wittingly, violate or transgress this my Fellow Craft obligation."
Or that of the Master Mason:
"All this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, . . . binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my body severed in two, my bowels torn from thence and burned to ashes, and these scattered before the four winds of heaven, that no more remembrance might be had among men or Masons of so vile a wretch as I should be, should I, in the least, knowingly or wittingly violate or transgress this my Master Mason obligation. So help me God and keep me steadfast."
Or that of other advanced degrees with required rituals considered by many to be pagan and incompatible with Christian faith and practice.
Even though these oaths, obligations, and rituals may or may not be taken seriously by the initiate, it is inappropriate for a Christian to "sincerely promise and swear," with a hand on the Holy Bible, any such promises or oaths, or to participate in any such pagan rituals.9
Biblical Response: Both Jesus and the apostle James taught that Christians should avoid the kind of extravagant oaths found in the rituals of Freemasonry. Christians should simply let their "yes"be "yes," and their "no" mean "no." In Matthew 5:34-37, Jesus taught the following:
But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Likewise, in his epistle, James wrote: "Above all, my brothers, do not swear-not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned" (Jas. 5:12).
The oaths required by Freemasonry are far worse than the examples the New Testament warns its readers against making. The Entered Apprentice swears under no fewer penalties than that of having his "throat cut from ear to ear," and his "tongue torn out by its roots, and buried in the sands of the sea." In the Fellow Craft degree, he swears under no less penalty than that of having his "left breast torn open," his "heart plucked from thence" and "given to the beast of the field and the birds of the air as prey." The candidate for the Mason degree swears under no fewer penalties than that of having his "bowels torn from thence and burned to ashes, and these scattered before the four winds of heaven."
Some Masons claim that the candidates for the degrees do not take these oaths seriously and, therefore, the oaths are compatible with Christian teaching. However, the Bible warns that oaths should be taken seriously and not given rashly. Leviticus 5:4 says, "Or if a person thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil-in any matter one might carelessly swear about-even though he is unaware of it, in any case when he learns of it he will be guilty."
Third Incompatibility: The recommended readings, in pursuance of advanced degrees, of religions and philosophies, which are undeniably pagan and/or occultic, such as much of the writings of Albert Pike, Albert Mackey, Manly Hall, Rex Hutchens, W. L .Wilmshurst, and other such authors; along with their works, such as Morals and Dogma, A Bridge to Light, An Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, and The Meaning of Masonry.
Biblical Response: Several of these Masonic writers deny the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. For example, Rex Hutchens wrote:
The purpose of teaching the concept of a Messiah in Freemasonry is to point out its near universality in the well-developed religions of the ancient world. We see references to Dionysius of the Greeks, Sosiosch of the Persians, Krishna of the Hindus, Osiris of the Egyptians, Jesus of the Christians. The purpose of these varying cultures' messiahs was to find in human form a source of intercession with Deity; in particular one who, as a human, had been tempted and suffered the daily pangs of life and so could be expected to possess a particular sympathy and understanding; in a word, the messiahs expressed hope.10
In addition, some of these writers confuse false pagan beliefs with the teaching of Christianity. Albert Pike, in the following quote, confused the Christian Trinity with the Hindu Universal Soul: "Behold the True Masonic Trinity; the Universal Soul, the Thought in the Soul, the Word, or Thought expressed; the Three In One, of a Trinitarian Ecossais."11
According to Hutchens, the following pagan deities are mentioned in the ritual of the 31st degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction. (31st degree) "The Egyptian deities present in the hall are: (1) Osiris: the Lord and Judge of the dead; (2) Atum: called the 'Father of Souls'; (3) Ma: goddess of Truth and Justice whose image weighs upon one side of the balance; (4) Thoth: Scribe of the gods; (5) Anubis: Conductor of Souls; son of Osiris by his sister Nephthys; (6) Horus: son of Osiris, who presents the deceased to his father; (7) Isis: wife and sister of Osiris, mother of Horus; (8) Nephthys: sister of Isis and Osiris, mother of Anubis by Osiris; (9) Four sons of Horus: Kebhsenuf,Tua-mutef, Hapi and Amset.12
Pike even compared the Bible with the occultic Kabalah, which he apparently considered superior to the Bible.
All truly dogmatic religions have issued from the Kabalah and return to it: everything scientific and grand in the religious dreams of all the illuminati, Jacob Boehme, Swedenborg, Saint-Martin, and others, is borrowed from the Kabalah; all the Masonic associations owe to it their Secrets and their Symbols.
The Kabalah alone consecrates the alliance of the Universal Reason and the Divine Word; it establishes, by the counterpoises of two forces apparently opposite, the eternal balance of being; it alone reconciles Reason with Faith, Power with Liberty, Science with Mystery; it has the keys of the Present, the Past, and the Future.
The Bible, with all the allegories it contains, expresses, in an incomplete and veiled manner only, the religious science of the Hebrews.13
The SBC Report on Freemasonry correctly identifies these "recommended readings" as "undeniably pagan and/or occultic."14
Fourth Incompatibility: The reference to the Bible placed on the altar of the lodge as the "furniture of the lodge," comparing it to the square and compass rather than giving it the supreme place in the lodge.
Biblical Response: Albert Pike identified the Bible as part of the furniture of the lodge in his book Morals And Dogma Of The Ancient And Accepted Scottish Rite Of Freemasonry. He wrote:
The Holy Bible, Square, and Compasses, are not only styled the Great Lights in Masonry, but they are also technically called the Furniture of the Lodge; and, as you have seen, it is held that there is no Lodge without them. This has sometimes been made a pretext for excluding Jews from our Lodges, because they cannot regard the New Testament as a holy book. The Bible is an indispensable part of the furniture of a Christian Lodge, only because it is the sacred book of the Christian religion. The Hebrew Pentateuch in a Hebrew Lodge, and the Koran in a Mohammedan one, belong on the Altar; and one of these, and the Square and Compass, properly understood, are the Great Lights by which a Mason must walk and work.15
Freemasonry has no commitment to the Bible as the unique Word of God. It happily substitutes non-Christian scriptures when Christians are not the majority of a lodge.
Fifth Incompatibility: The prevalent use of the term "light," which some may understand as a reference to salvation rather than knowledge or truth.
Biblical Response: In commenting on the Christian interpretation of the Blue degrees in Freemasonry, Pike wrote:
Notwithstanding the death of the Redeemer, man can be saved only by faith, repentance, and reformation.
Having repented and reformed, and bound himself to the service of God by a firm promise and obligation, the light of Christian hope shines down into the darkness of the heart of the humble penitent, and blazes upon his pathway to Heaven. And this is symbolized by the candidate's being brought to light, after he is obligated, by the Worshipful Master, who in that is a symbol of the Redeemer, and so brings him the light, with the help of the brethren, as He taught the Word with the aid of the Apostles.16
In the above quote, the concepts of light and salvation are closely related. This quote also reveals that many Masonic writers include reformation (good works) as one of the requirements for salvation. However, the Bible clearly states that good works are not a requirement for salvation. 17
Sixth Incompatibility: The implication that salvation may be attained by one's good works, implicit in the statement found in some Masonic writings that "Masonry is continually reminded of that purity of life and conduct which is necessary to obtain admittance into the Celestial Lodge above where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides." Even though many Masons understand that the "purity of life and conduct" can only be achieved through faith in Jesus Christ, others may be led to believe they can earn salvation by living a pure life with good conduct.
Biblical Response: According to Pike, the 25th degree ". . . teaches the necessity of reformation as well as repentance, as a means of obtaining mercy and forgiveness, . . ."18 In his commentary on the 27th degree, Hutchens wrote: "Constans refuses the monk's arguments, trusting in a God of love who will recognize his honor and service to others as a noble path of salvation."19 Likewise, in concerning the 31st degree, Hutchens stated: "The candidate is brought into the Court of the Dead to be judged for actions while living and to determine if he deserves to dwell among the gods. His escort is Horus. Isis, Horus' mother, speaks first, inquiring whose ka has come to be judged."20
The teaching that meritorious deeds can make one acceptable to God is common in many false religions. The Bible, however, warns that there is no deed that can make a sinner acceptable to God. Only the grace of God that comes through faith in Jesus Christ can save those under the judgment of sin. The addition of works to faith as a requirement of salvation is contrary to the teaching of the Bible. The following Scriptures illustrate this: Romans 3:28:"For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law." Romans 4:4-5:"Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." Romans 11:6:"And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." Ephesians 2:8-9:"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast." Titus 3:5:"He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit."
Seventh Incompatibility: The heresy of universalism (the belief all people will eventually be saved), which permeates the writings of many Masonic authors, which is a doctrine inconsistent with New Testament teaching.
Biblical Response: Many Masonic writings can be interpreted as endorsing universalism. Pike wrote, "It is the fine dream of the greatest of the Poets, that Hell, become useless, is to be closed at length, by the aggrandizement of Heaven; that the problem of Evil is to receive its final solution, and Good alone, necessary and triumphant, is to reign in Eternity."21
Even more prominent in Freemasonry is the false teaching of inclusivism, the belief that followers of non-Christian religions will also be saved. Freemasonry holds out the promise of salvation to all worthy Masons regardless of the deity they worship. The Muslim or Hindu member of the lodge is on the same spiritual level as the believer in Jesus Christ. According to Hutchens, "Masonry is tolerant, even supportive, of the most diverse religious beliefs."22
Pike likewise argued that no religion can claim to have exclusivity to the truth, nor can any religion claim to be superior to another.
Toleration, holding that every other man has the same right to his opinion and faith that we have to ours; liberality, holding that as no human being can with certainty say, in the clash and conflict of hostile faiths and creeds, what is truth, or that he is surely in possession of it, so every one should feel that it is quite possible that another equally honest and sincere with himself, and yet holding the contrary opinion, may himself be in possession of the truth, and that whatever one firmly and conscientiously believes, is truth, to him."23
Inclusivism denies the teaching of the New Testament that only those who place their faith in Jesus Christ will be saved. The following passages teach this biblical truth: John 3:36:"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." John 14:6: "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" Acts 4:12:"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." First Corinthians 3:11:"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." First Timothy 2:5:"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." First John 5:12:"He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."
Eighth Incompatibility: The refusal of most lodges (although not all) to admit for membership African-Americans.
Biblical Response: The Bible teaches that all men and women are created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." According to Genesis 9-11, all the races of humanity scattered throughout the world are made in the image of God. For example, Genesis 9:6 states, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man." The context (Genesis 10- 11) reveals that this prohibition applies to all of the races of humanity scattered throughout the world.
The New Testament reveals that Jesus rejected the racism of His day. John 4:9 indicates that Jesus discarded the racial prejudices of the Jews towards the Samaritans. "The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?' (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)"The apostle Peter, who struggled with the sin of racism throughout his life, stated in Acts 10:28,"You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean." Racism should be rejected wherever it is found, whether it is discovered in the lodge or in the church.
Summary Statement on Freemasonry
There are eight major concerns that the Southern Baptist Convention has expressed about the teachings and practices of Freemasonry. These are:
(1) Freemasonry uses offensive, non-biblical, and blasphemous terms relating to God.
(2) Freemasonry insists on the use of "bloody oaths" or obligations, which are strictly forbidden by the Bible (cf. Matt. 5:34-37).
(3) Freemasonry urges that occultic and/or pagan readings be used, and that their teachings be appropriated in interpreting such concepts as the Trinity.
(4) Freemasonry includes the Bible as part of the "furniture of the lodge," but only as an equal with non-Christian symbols and writings.
(5) Freemasonry misuses the term "light" to refer to moral "reformation" as a means to salvation.
(6) Freemasonry teaches that salvation may be attained by "good works" and not through faith in Christ alone.
(7) Freemasonry advocates in many of its writings the non-biblical teachings of universalism.
(8) In some of its lodges, Freemasonry discriminates against nonwhites.
While it is clear that some Christians, moral persons, and outstanding government leaders have been and are members of the Freemasonic movement, several points of the lodge's teachings are non-biblical and non-Christian. And, while Freemasonry encourages and supports charitable activities, it contains both multireligious and inclusivistic teachings that are not Christian in its religious instruction.
Taking the above into consideration, and being consistent with our denomination's historic deep conviction regarding both the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church, we recommend that each individual Baptist, as well as each congregation, carefully review the issues of the teachings and practices of Freemasonry. Since, in the final analysis, the Bible alone is the only guide for faith and practice, issues related to Freemasonry and any other fraternal organization, especially secret societies, must be evaluated only in light of the plumb line of Scripture. The divinity and lordship of Christ, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith are foundational and nonnegotiable doctrines and the teachings of any organization or society in contradiction to such biblical tenets must be evaluated accordingly. It is, therefore, the duty of every Christian to resist and avoid false teachings to speak the truth in love and to embrace only those doctrines which are revealed in the inerrant Scripture, the Bible (see Matt. 7:24-27; John 7-10; 1 Cor. 10:14; Jude 3).
All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.
Notes
1 Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1993 (Nashville: Executive Committee, Southern Baptist Convention, 1993), p. 224.
2 Ibid., p. 225.
3 Ibid., pp. 225-227 lists the following eight tenets of incompatibility.
4 This word has several alternative spellings.
5 Albert Pike, The Book of the Words (Kila, Mont.: Kessinger Publishing Co., n. d.), p. 151.While some Masons may disagree with Pike's explanation of the secret name for God they cannot deny the tremendous influence of Pike upon Freemasonry in the United States. A reading of A Bridge To Light (an official publication of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction) reveals that many modern Masonic leaders also confuse the God of the Bible with pagan deities. See A Bridge To Light, pp. 31, 120, 139.
6 The use of the word LORD with all capital letters indicates that the personal name of the God of Israel is used in the Hebrew text..0
7 Rex R. Hutchens, A Bridge To Light (Washington, D.C.: The Supreme Council, 1988), p. 299-302.
8 See Hebrews 4:15.
9 Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1993, p. 226.
10 Hutchens, A Bridge To Light, pp. 112-113.
11 Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (Richmond, Va.: L.H. Jenkins, Inc., 1942), p. 575.
12 Hutchens, A Bridge To Light, p. 300.
13 Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 744.
14 Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1993, p. 226.
15 Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 11.
16 Ibid., p. 639, emphasis added.
17 See Romans 3:28; 4:4-5; 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-9;Titus 3:5.Also see the discussion in the biblical response concerning the sixth incompatibility.
18 Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 435.
19 Hutchens, A Bridge To Light, p. 243.
20 Ibid., pp. 300-01.
21 Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 847.
22 Hutchens, A Bridge To Light, p. 67.
23 Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 160.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Weiss Ressearch's Emergency Q&A Session

Dear Reader,
We have prepared this report for viewers of Weiss Research’s recent emergency Q&A session as a follow-up to the urgent questions asked by our readers.
(If you would like to review the video or share it with a friend, click here for the recording.
With events unfolding so quickly, we have organized this report in a way that helps get you to safety as quickly as possible. You can read the report from start to finish. Or if you click on the topics below, you can jump straight to our instructions and information on each.
1. How to Buy Treasury Bills or Equivalent
2. How to Use Your Treasury-Only Money Fund as a Bank
3. How to Set Up a Single, Safe Account  for Nearly All Your Savings and Checking
4. What To Do With Your 401k
5. How to Get Rid of Risky Stocks Despite What Your Broker May Say
6. What to Do About Your Not-So-Risky Stocks
7. More, Equally Urgent Information on Bear Markets
8. Want to Stick With Banks? Here Are the Risks
9. How To Find a Strong Bank
10. How Risky or Safe Is Your Insurance?
Plus, you can jump straight to our handy reference lists ...
11. Treasury-Only Money Market Funds
12. Weakest Banks and Thrifts in the U.S.
13. Strongest Banks and Thrifts in the U.S.
14. Weakest Life, Health and Annuity Insurers in the U.S.
15. Strongest Life, Health and Annuity Insurers in the U.S.
16. Select U.S. Brokers With Their Capital Multiples


Follow-Up Information and Instructions for

(Watch video)
by Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D., and Michael Larson
1. How to Buy Treasury Bills or Equivalent
Among all investments available in the world today, U.S. Treasury bills are the safest and most liquid place for your money. But please do not confuse Treasury bills with Treasury bonds:
  • Treasury bills are short term — under one year.
  • Treasury bonds are long term — up to 30 years.
The primary difference: The longer the maturity, the longer you have to wait for your money. If you don’t want to wait, you can sell your bonds (or “notes,” which are between one and 10 years) on the secondary market. But if inflation or other factors have driven down their market value, you will take a loss.
Three-month — or, more precisely, 13-week — Treasury bills don’t have that problem. The most you’ll have to wait is the three months and you can also cash them in at any time in-between. Any market fluctuations are infinitesimal and simply not an issue.
How do you buy Treasury bills? You can open an account directly with the U.S. Treasury Department, using your Social Security number or your business tax ID number via the Treasury Direct program.
But the most practical way to buy Treasury bills is through a money market fund that invests exclusively in short-term U.S. Treasury securities or equivalent. The Treasuries it buys enjoy the same guarantee from the U.S. government as Treasuries bought through any other venue.
Plus, the Treasury-only money fund gives you the additional advantage of immediate availability of your money. You can have your funds wired to your local bank overnight. Or you can even write checks against it, much as you’d write checks against any bank checking account.
Which fund? We use Capital Preservation Fund and the Weiss Treasury Only Money Market Fund. Or you can shop among the funds cited in our lists.
2. How to Use Your Treasury-Only Money Fund as a Bank
Traditional banking nowadays is not as easy as it appears.
To make sure all your money is insured, you may have to keep close tabs on multiple accounts. And even if you’re comfortably under the FDIC’s insurance limits, bank fees and charges can add up. Banks often charge for regular checking, low balances, writing too many checks, ATM withdrawals and bounced checks. And for businesses, they pay no interest on checking.
You can get better interest with CDs. But there, your liquidity — the access to your funds — is restricted by early withdrawal penalties: Federal law requires a minimum penalty of seven days’ interest for early withdrawal on any account classified as a time deposit, which includes CDs. And since the law doesn’t set a maximum penalty, banks are free to charge more, which they usually do. So it’s not unusual to see early withdrawal penalties of all your interest on 30-day CDs and up to six months’ interest on longer term CDs.
Our recommendation: Use your Treasury-only money market fund for most of your banking needs, including both savings and checking.
A Treasury-only money fund invests your money in short-term U.S. Treasury securities (plus other securities that are 100% backed by U.S. Treasuries). The fund uses a bank, but strictly as a custodian for the securities, and those accounts are completely segregated from the bank’s deposits or assets. Even if the custodian bank fails, your money invested in short-term Treasuries through the fund — and your access to that money — is not affected.
Here’s the key: The Treasury-only money fund provides you with check-writing privileges so that you can use the money fund as your personal or business checking account. Here are the advantages:
Advantage #1. Yield. Treasury-only money funds have generally yielded substantially more than the yield offered on the average personal checking account in the U.S.
The contrast for business is even greater: Since banks do not pay interest on business checking accounts, Treasury-only money funds invariably give you more yield. Plus, you can also take better advantage of the “float” — the
funds remaining in your account while checks written against them have not

yet cleared. And unlike bank checking accounts, you don’t have to worry if your balances are over a certain limit. The bigger your balances, the better.
Just remember: In times of acute crisis, when there is a rush to escape financial risk and buy Treasury bills, your yield could be very low. But low yield is the price you pay for maximum safety, and it’s worth every penny.
Advantage #2. Low Fees. When a bank quotes you yields — on any kind of account — it always quotes you the yields before deducting all its various service fees. And with bank charges and fees currently at high levels, it’s almost impossible for most bank customers to collect anything near the advertised yield.
In contrast, when a Treasury-only money fund (or any money fund, for that matter) quotes you its yield, it is invariably after deducting its fees and expenses. Of course, the past or current yield is no guarantee of future results. But the yield quoted is the net yield that investors in the fund are actually earning.
How much of a difference can this make? In most cases, a significant one. Indeed, we figure that, after deducting myriad bank fees, most Americans today are getting a net yield of close to zero on their accounts, while many wind up losing money.
Advantage #3. One Account for Both Checking and Savings. At banks, most customers find they need to divide their money between (a) a checking account, where they give up most of their yield, and (b) a savings account or CD, where they give up immediate access and liquidity. No matter what, it’s almost impossible to get both optimal liquidity and the better yield in the same bank account.
In contrast, Treasury-only money funds let you keep nearly all of your cash assets — whether for savings or for checking — in one single account. This means that whether you’re investing $1,000 or $1 million,
  • You have complete access to all your funds at all times.
  • You can withdraw the entire amount, with no penalty whatsoever. Just write a check or request a wire transfer, and it’s done.
  • Your money consistently earns competitive, current market yields.
  • You never have to worry about leaving too much in your checking account at low or zero yield. The full amount is available for checking at all times, earning full interest.
  • You continue earning interest on your money up until the moment your check clears. The longer it takes for your payees to cash their checks, the more interest you earn.
Advantage #4. No Limit to Your Account Size. When you use banks for your savings or checking, you have to go through a series of contortions to keep your money safe from failure:
  • In each CD, you have to make sure your initial investment is comfortably below the coverage limit. Otherwise, the accumulation of accrued interest could put your balance over the limit, and that portion would not be covered by the FDIC.
  • You may have to spread your CDs among various accounts.
  • With a large checking account, you would have to call your bank almost daily to make sure it’s not over the FDIC limit. Reason: If there are several big checks outstanding, your bank balance could be over the limit; and if the bank fails at that time, any excess amount in your account could be in jeopardy.
With Treasury-only money funds, insurance is a moot point. Your funds are invested strictly in securities that are guaranteed directly by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury Department. And there is no limit on the Treasury’s guarantee of its obligations — whether you’re a beginning saver with just a few thousand or you’re a Bill Gates with billions.
Advantage #5. Exempt From Local and State Taxes. The income you earn on both Treasury-only money funds and bank accounts is subject to federal income taxes. So there’s no difference between bank deposits and Treasury-only money funds in that regard.
However, when it comes to local and state income taxes, there is a significant difference:
  • The dividends you earn on Treasury-only money funds are generally exempt from local and state income taxes. But ...
  • The income earned on bank accounts and CDs is not exempt from local and state income taxes.
Advantage #6. Truly Free Checking. Nearly all banks charge you — one way or another — for your checking privileges. They may charge you a fee for each check you write. They may charge you a flat monthly service fee. Or they may charge you a combination of both.
Sometimes banks say they’re giving you “free checking,” but require large minimum balances, paying little or no interest. No matter what, you’re paying for checking — and probably too much.
Most Treasury-only money funds do not charge you any extra fee for check-writing privileges. You can write as many checks as you want, as often as you want. When they say “free checking privileges,” they really mean it.
This is not true for all Treasury-only money funds, however. And some do levy certain charges for special services. That’s to be expected. But those fees are almost always lower than the charges at banks.
Advantage #7. Immediate Liquidity. As with any financial institution, there will be a holding period for the out-of-town checks you deposit to your account. But your money goes to work for you right away, generating interest income immediately. And if you deposit your money via wire transfer, you can avoid the holding period; your funds will be available immediately.
In short, except for the holding period, all of the funds received by your Treasury-only money fund are available to you all of the time. There are four ways you can withdraw your money from your Treasury-only money fund:
  • You can write a check against the balance in your account — to yourself or to another payee.
  • You can call or send a fax to your money fund’s shareholder services department, giving them instructions to issue a wire transfer. (Before the fund can accept your wire instructions, however, you will need to have a signed authorization on file. This can be done when you open your account.)
  • You can request a check be sent to you directly from the fund. You can also authorize telephone instructions for redemption by check when you open your account.
  • You can establish a systematic program to automatically send a set amount to you monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually.
One small, annoying disadvantage: Most money funds impose a minimum amount for each check, usually $50 or $100. So you may need a small local checking account for checks under their minimum.
3. How to Set Up a Single, Safe Account for Nearly All Your Savings and Checking
 Whether you are an active investor or not, whether you have a lot of money set aside or just small amounts, we recommend these steps:
Step 1. Decide what type of account you want to open. For your personal checking account, it could be established as an individual, joint, custodian, or trust. (In addition, you can also use your Treasury-only money fund to open a separate account for your IRA or other retirement accounts.)
Step 2. Select a Treasury-only money market fund.
Step 3. On its website, or while you’re on the phone with its customer service department, get answers to a few questions about the costs associated with check-writing privileges:
  • “How many checks will you provide for me at no charge?” For personal accounts, at least the first 20 or 25 checks should be free. If you want additional checks, it’s reasonable to expect a printing charge, but it should be minimal.
  • “Will you charge me a per-check transaction fee?” If the answer is yes and you anticipate a relatively active account, don’t do business with this fund.
  • “What is the minimum dollar amount for which I can make out each of my checks?” It should be no more than $100.
  • “What is the minimum balance that I must maintain in my account, and will you penalize me if my balance falls below the minimum?” If the minimum is too high for you or if there is a penalty, look elsewhere.
  • “Do you accept deposits of second-party checks?” If the answer is no, this may not be the right fund for this plan.
Step 4. Download the prospectus and application from the fund’s website. Then read them carefully before investing. Or you can also ask the fund to send the materials via first-class mail.
Step 5. If you are not sure about what forms and documents you will need to submit to open an account, now is the time to ask. Some typical types of accounts, along with the documentation needed, are:
Type 1. Individual or joint account, minor custodian account: You’ll need the application and the signature card (indicate the number of signatures that will be required to cash a check).
Joint accounts, unless you specify otherwise, will probably be opened as joint tenants with rights of survivorship (JTWROS), meaning that the entire account balance will pass to the survivor in case one of the joint owners dies.
If you want the account to be registered as joint tenants in common (JTIC), be sure to specify that in writing when you open the account. JTIC means that each person owns a set percentage of the account; and if one person dies, his or her percentage does not automatically go to the survivor, but goes into the deceased’s estate to be distributed.
If you wish a custodian account for a minor child (UGMA), don’t forget to use the child’s Social Security number for correct IRS reporting.
Type 2. Trust or guardianship: You will need the application and the signature card (indicate the number of signatures needed to cash a check). Plus, you will need certified copies of the appropriate trust documents or court papers appointing a guardian and any power of attorney forms, if applicable. Hint: Put the trustee name(s) first on the account registration to reduce the paperwork that would be needed whenever an account transaction is requested. Example: Jane S. Doe, TTEE Doe Family Trust.
Type 3. IRA, Roth IRA, or other retirement account or rollover: Ask for the IRA or retirement plan application and agreement. This information should
include a new account application, a transfer authorization and a rollover certification form.
If you’re opening a new retirement account, fill out the new account application only.
If you’re transferring a retirement account directly between custodians, fill out both the application and the transfer authorization. Also be sure to include a copy of the most recent statement from your current custodian.
If it’s an IRA rollover and you have a distribution from a retirement account that you are going to transfer to the Treasury-only money fund, fill out both the new account application and the rollover certification form. (Important: Due to IRS regulations, check writing is not possible on IRA accounts.)
Step 6. With the above documents, also provide the basic wiring instructions to the fund. If there is no space on the application, put the following information in a separate, signed letter:
  • Your bank’s name, city and state
  • Your bank’s “ABA” number
  • Your bank’s wire transfer account number
  • Your account number at the bank
  • All registered names on the account
Note: The account title on your bank account should be the same as the title on your Treasury-only money fund account.
Step 7. Don’t forget to sign the application. Then make your first deposit check payable to the Treasury-only money fund and mail it with your new account materials. You should receive written confirmation of your deposit in the mail within a few days and a checkbook within about two weeks.
Step 8. Keep only a minimal amount in your local bank for petty cash and small, occasional checks.
Step 9. Use a major credit card for as many of your purchases as possible. Then, in order to avoid any interest charges, pay off your credit card, in full,
each month with one check written from your Treasury-only money fund.
Step 10. To maximize your total safety and liquidity, transfer the bulk of your cash funds to the Treasury-only money fund account. These can include any investment funds you wish to keep liquid and available for upcoming opportunities, as well as most of your regular spending money and most of your keep-safe savings.
Step 11. Write all of your checks that are above the fund’s per-check minimum from the Treasury-only money fund account. These could include
checks for paying your mortgage, rent, monthly credit card bills, utility bills and any large purchases at establishments that give you a better price for non-credit card purchases.

Step 12. If you need a large amount of cash or want to buy traveler’s checks, just call your Treasury-only money fund and give them instructions to transfer the money to your local bank. In most cases, if you call before 3 PM Eastern Time, you should have the funds in your account the next business day.
Step 13. At most funds, you may deposit your salary and any checks payable to you directly into your account. Just endorse the checks with your signature on the reverse side and include the words “for deposit to,” followed by your account number at the fund. Then simply mail your deposit to the fund. (You may use the deposit slip and envelope that most funds provide you with your monthly statement.)
As always, do not send cash in the mail. If you have cash deposits, make them at your local bank and then send the funds to your Treasury-only money fund via either a check or wire transfer.
If you want to know if your check has cleared your fund and you don’t want to wait for the written confirmation in the mail, just call the fund’s shareholder services at its toll-free number.
You will receive monthly statements from the fund showing all your checking transactions, plus any other activity including deposits, dividend income credits, etc. (Note: Canceled checks are not usually returned to you automatically, unless you specifically ask for them.)
That’s it! With these steps, you will now have superior safety overall, significantly greater effective yields, greatly reduced bank charges and maximum liquidity.
4. What To Do With Your 401k
Many people confuse two separate questions:
  • The first and most urgent question is: What investments do you own?
  • The second question is: What the kind of account are you using to buy those investments?
Let’s begin with the investments: With the exception of certain kinds of accounts guaranteed by insurers or others, if your investments are going down in value, you risk losing money regardless of what kind of account you have them in.
And based just on what we’ve seen so far, depending on what investment choices you made, your retirement could be cut half — or worse. Therefore, we disagree with those who recommend you hold the stock mutual funds in your 401k and just keep buying more on the way down. You cannot afford that risk. Instead, follow these steps ...
Step 1. Get from your employer or 401k manager the list of options available in your 401k.
Step 2. Pick out the safest one, as follows:
  • First choice: Treasury-only money market fund. (Unfortunately, these are rarely offered in 401ks.)
  • Second choice: A government-only money market fund, if your 401k has one. If not ...
  • Third choice: A standard money market fund.
  • Fourth choice: An income or bond fund that invests exclusively in U.S. government notes and bonds and nothing in corporate bonds.
  • Fifth choice: An income or bond fund that invests mostly in U.S. government notes and bonds and as little as possible in corporate bonds.
In sum, favor government paper over corporate or bank paper, and favor short term over long term.
Step 3. Shift all of your money to the safest fund. If you’re concerned the market has just plunged and you are selling at the wrong time, shift 50% immediately and the balance when the stock market enjoys a rally.
This is not a permanent solution. Later, when the dust has settled and the coast is clear, you can start shifting back to equities. But at this point, no one knows where the bottom in the market might be. So it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Step 4. Unless you may be short of cash, continue adding to your 401k normally. Just make sure all new funds are invested in the safest choice you selected in Step 2. In this way, you can continue to take advantage of your company’s matching program and your money can continue to grow without the drag of taxes.
Follow the same general approach with IRAs, 529 savings plans and other tax-protected plans. These offer the additional advantage of allowing you to buy short-term Treasuries or a Treasury-only money market fund.
5. How to Get Rid of Risky Stocks
Despite What Your Broker May Say

If you haven’t done so already in response to our many earlier warnings, you’d better sell — or hedge against — your risky stocks now. If you don’t, be prepared to suffer far deeper losses.
One way is to ignore what everyone thinks or says, call your broker and issue one, four-letter instruction: “SELL.”
Sound too simple? Perhaps. But compared to sitting back passively and letting your retirement be destroyed by a long or deep bear market, it’s actually the lesser of the evils.
Worried that you may be selling at exactly the wrong time? Then, as with your 401k, sell half at the market, reducing your exposure to risk immediately. Next, wait for an intermediate rally to sell the balance.
But beware: No matter how much you seek to sell or when, most brokers will try to talk you out of it. They have a hidden agenda. They want to keep
you as a customer; and they know that, once customers sell their stocks, they often close their brokerage accounts.
With this in mind, many brokers have been trained with up to seven sales pitches designed to keep you in the market come hell or high water.
Broker Pitch #1: “Buy more.” Their argument goes something like this: “Your stock is now selling at bargain prices. So if you didn’t already own 100 shares, you’d probably be thinking about buying — not selling. Instead, why not double down and take advantage of dollar-cost averaging?”
The more likely result in a bear market: Every time your stock falls by another $1 per share, instead of losing just $100, you’ll be losing $200.
Broker Pitch #2: “Hold for a recovery!” They argue that the “market will inevitably recover,” that the “recovery is always bigger and better than any near-term decline,” and that you should therefore “always invest for the long term.”
The reality: Bear markets can last for many years. It could take still longer for the averages to recover to current levels. During all those years, your money is dead in the water. And don’t forget: If the company goes out of business, your stock will be worthless and will never recover.
Broker Pitch #3: “You can’t afford to take a loss.” If you insist on selling, brokers often come back with this approach: “Your losses are just on paper right now. So if you sell, all you’ll be doing is locking them in. You can’t afford to do that.”
What they don’t tell you is that there is no fundamental difference between a paper loss and a realized loss. Nor do they reveal that the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) requires brokers themselves to value the securities they hold in their own portfolio at the current market price — to recognize the losses as real whether they’ve sold the securities or not.
Broker Pitch #4: “You can’t afford to take a profit and pay the taxes.” If you’ve got a profit in a stock, they say: “All you’ll be doing is writing a fat check to Uncle Sam. You can’t afford to do that.”
The reality: Although it’s not shown on your brokerage statement, the true value of your portfolio is net of taxes. So whether you or your heirs pay those taxes now or in the future is mostly a difference of timing. And if our
next president approves legislation to raise capital gains taxes next year, it could actually cost you more. Besides, which would you prefer — paying some taxes on profits or paying no taxes on losses?
Broker Pitch #5: The “don’t be a fool” argument. “Stocks look very cheap now and we’re very close to rock bottom,” goes the script. “We may even be right at the bottom. If you sell now, three months from now, you’ll be kicking yourself. Don’t be a fool.”
The truth: Brokers don’t have the faintest idea where the bottom is. Nor does anyone at their firm. And they know darn well that stocks do not hit bottom just because they look cheap. Worse, for their own accounts, brokers and their affiliates have been — and are likely to continue — liquidating shares, often targeting precisely the same shares they pitch to their customers.
Broker Pitch #6: “The market is turning.” If the market enjoys an intermediate bounce, which it certainly will at some point soon, this pitch is invoked. “Look at this big rally!” they say. “Your shares are finally starting to come back. After waiting all this time, are you sure you want to run away now — just when things are starting to turn around in your favor?”
The truth: In a bear market, intermediate rallies actually give you the best opportunity to sell. Often, they’re stimulated by government efforts to bail out companies or stimulate the economy. If so, those can be even better selling opportunities.
Broker Pitch #7: The last ace-in-the hole in the broker’s arsenal of pitches is the patriotic approach. “Do you realize,” they’ll say, “what could happen if everyone does what you’re talking about doing? That’s when the market would really nosedive. But if you and millions of other investors would just have a bit more faith in our economy — in our country — then the market will recover and everyone will come out ahead.”
The truth: Locking up precious capital in sinking enterprises is not exactly good for our country. Better to safeguard the funds and reinvest them in better opportunities at a better time.
6. What to Do About Your Not-So-Risky Stocks
Not all stocks are created equal. In a prolonged bear market,
  • some fall more than the stock averages,
  • some fall less, and ...
  • a very small number of stocks can actually buck the trend, moving higher as the rest of the market falls.
If you have stocks that your money manager or broker insist are in the latter two categories, and he makes a strong case for holding them, then it may make sense to do so.
But even with these special situations, you still could be vulnerable to significant losses for four reasons:
  • Investors need cash and sell even the best stocks to raise funds ...
  • Investors suffer large losses in the rest of their portfolio and take profits in their best stocks to help offset the loss ...
  • Fear overcomes logic and investors throw out the baby with the bathwater, and/or ...
  • Deflation drives down the price of all assets, including the best stocks.
Each or all of these situations can drive down the value of your stocks, no matter how good the companies may be. Therefore, if you’ve decided to hold them, you will need a hedge — an investment that’s designed to go up when stocks go down.
There are four vehicles available for hedging your stock portfolio. Here they are, listed from least risky to most risky:
  • Buying inverse ETFs. This is recommended for most investors who decide to continue holding stocks in their portfolio despite a bear market.
  • Spending small amounts of money on put options. This is recommended for investors with some risk capital available.
  • Selling short individual stocks. Not recommended.
  • Selling short stock futures. Not recommended.
For detailed instructions on inverse ETFs and how to use them, our free report, How to Protect Your Stock Portfolio From the Spreading Credit Crunch, is currently available for your immediate download.
7. More, Equally Urgent Information on Bear Markets
For more free information on bear market strategies that’s equally urgent, refer to:
  • Bear Market Defense Forum Part 1 and Part II, 10-01-08. “The spreading financial crisis has us in the clutches of a tough bear market in stocks ... In the second part of this presentation, we discuss the Weiss Bear Strategy.”
  • Last Chance for the Truth, 9-28-08. “You cannot wait to see how long Wall Street’s celebration will last or how soon Washington’s plan will fail. You must take protective action now.”
  • Washington declares war on debt crisis! Urgent Q&A, 9-19-08. “Is this the signal to jump back into stocks? No. For stocks that are vulnerable to a credit crisis and an economic decline, this is a signal to SELL. And for those who are looking for a hedge or profit opportunity for the next big decline, this is an ideal opportunity to get started.”
  • Dow plunges 504! Here’s what’s next, 9-15-08. “You’ll soon hear the Wall Street pundits arguing that this is the ‘climactic capitulation’ that will end the decline. Don’t fall for it! In reality, the Dow is still not far from its all-time peaks, with a lot further to fall. Our forecast is unchanged: 7200 on the Dow.”
  • Unthinkable Truth; Undeniable Reality, 7-28-08. “They’d have you believe they can outlaw the cycle of boom and bust ... repeal the law of supply and demand ... even freeze the march of time. In the real world, of course, no government in history has ever been able to do anything of the kind, and they know it. Why? Because, behind the fa├žade of their feel-good happy talk and beneath the thin veneer of their Pollyanna optimism, nearly every single one of our leaders — including Bernanke and Paulson, Democrats and Republicans — is really a gloom-and-doom pessimist in disguise.”
  • How to Prepare for the NEXT Panic, 7-07-08. “‘When another collapse is about to begin,’ Dad warned, ‘they’re not going to ring any bells. Few investors will see it coming, fewer still will take protective action, and almost everyone will get caught in the melee. Don’t let that happen to our subscribers!’ But today, the bells are finally ringing and doing so loudly.”
8. Want to Stick With Banks? Here Are the Risks
When a bank goes under, the FDIC steps in, finds a merger partner or takes it over. This can be a quick process. But sometimes it may not be. We see three possible situations:
Situation #1. You are a shareholder in a bank that’s failing. In this situation, you will probably lose all or most of your money whether the government tries to bail the bank out or it’s allowed to fail and is taken over by the FDIC.
Situation #2. You are an insured depositor. You’ve got savings or checking accounts with the bank and they are under the FDIC insurance limit. In normal times, even if your bank fails, your savings should be secure and available at any time.
However, in the event of a national bank holiday, even if your bank has not failed, you may be denied access to most or all of your funds for an unknown period of time. We hope that time period would be very short — just a few days. But it could be more, or it could happen more than once.
Situation #3. You have deposits with a bank that are over and beyond the FDIC insurance limits. Or you have bought bank bonds or bank debentures. In most bank failures, you will suffer losses. And even with so-called “too-big-to-fail” banks, you could suffer severe losses as well. Do not count on the government to cover uninsured deposits, bonds or other debts.
To reduce your risk, avoid bank stocks and bank debentures or bonds. Keep your deposits under the FDIC insurance limit. And put the bulk of your funds in short-term Treasury securities bought directly from the U.S. Treasury Department or through a Treasury-only money market fund.
And for double protection, if you must do business with a bank, always use a strong institution regardless of insurance protection or other guarantees.
9. How To Find a Strong Bank
Step 1. First, become familiar with this ratings scale:
A = excellent
B = good
C = fair
D = weak
E = very weak
+ = the upper third of each grade range
- = the lower third of each grade range

Step 2. Find your bank in our list of Weakest Banks and Thrifts in the U.S. or in our list of Strongest Banks and Thrifts in the U.S. For your convenience, they are listed in alphabetical order. Or you can use a search function on your screen (such as the F4 key in MS Internet Explorer or the “Find” function in Adobe Reader).
Step 3. If you cannot find your bank or thrift in one of our lists below ...
  • At the home page, in the menus in the upper right, you’ll see the item “PORTFOLIO & TOOLS.” Pull down that menu and select “Banks & Thrifts Screener.”
  • This will take you to a new page with the bank screener, and you’ll see a box on the left-hand side to fill in your bank information. To narrow the search, type in the state if you have it. Then, under Bank name, type in strictly the FIRST name of the bank with no spaces. (If you type in more than the first name, the program will probably not find your bank.)
  • A list of banks with their ratings should appear to the right of the data entry box.
Step 4.When you have your bank’s rating, follow these guidelines:
  • If your bank is rated B- or higher, it implies your bank’s relative safety is “good” or better.
  • If your bank is rated D+ or lower, it’s a red flag. Seriously consider moving your money elsewhere, while weighing the cost of any interest penalties. For uninsured deposits, the interest penalty is a small price to pay for safety. For insured deposits, it will depend on how much you value your peace of mind.
  • If your bank is rated C-, C or C+, it’s a yellow flag. Monitor the rating every three months or so to make sure it has not been downgraded below C- (to D+ or lower).
Step 5. If you’re shopping for a new bank, favor institutions with a rating of B+ or better. Refer to our list of the Strongest Banks and Thrifts in the U.S. Or ...
  • Under State, select your state,
  • Under Rating, select B,
  • To the right of the rating, select “or higher,
  • Then, on the list to the right, under “display,” set the number of banks to be listed to 100.
  • From the list displayed to the right, look for banks with a rating of B+ or better. You may see some that you know have a branch near your home or place of work. Or search for the bank at Google Maps.
10. How Risky or Safe Is Your Insurance?
The risk you take with an insurance policy depends on two things: The type of policy you have and the relative strength or weakness of the insurance company. So here are the steps to follow ...
Step 1. Determine which broad category of policy you have. Generally speaking, there are three:
  • Cash-value policy. These are the most affected by the failure of the insurer. They include fixed annuities and whole life, sometimes called universal life. Your funds go into the insurance company’s own balance sheet, and if their balance sheet goes down, your savings can go down with it.
  • Variable annuities or variable life. Your money does not become a part of the insurance company’s portfolio. Instead, it goes into separate accounts. Like in a 401k, your money is actually invested in mutual funds. And like the 401k, you should check which funds you currently have, check their menu of choices and switch to the safest ones.
  • Term insurance — life, health, auto, home, etc. Your risk is greatly reduced because you’re paying strictly for the insurance. Your savings are not tied up.
Step 2. Become familiar with the rating scale below:
A = excellent
B = good
C = fair
D = weak
E = very weak
+ = the upper third of each grade range
- = the lower third of each grade range

Step 3. Find your insurer in our list of Weakest Health, Life and Annuity Insurers in the U.S. or in our list of Strongest Health, Life and Annuity Insurers in the U.S. For your convenience, they are listed in alphabetical order. Or you can just use the search function on your screen.
Step 4. Our lists do not include property and casualty insurers. Nor do they include very small insurers or those that are rated “fair” (C+, C and C-). So if you cannot find your insurer in one of the lists below:
  • On the home page menus in the upper right, you’ll see an item called “PORTFOLIO & TOOLS.” Pull down that menu and select “Insurers and HMOs Screener.”
  • This will take you to a new page with the insurer screener, and you’ll see a box on the left-hand side to fill in the needed information.
  • Under Company Type, select ...
  • Life & Health — for life, health and annuity insurers
  • Property & Casualty — for auto, home or business insurance
  • HMOs — for Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Then, under Insurer name, type in strictly the FIRST name of the insurer with no spaces.
  • A list of insurers plus their ratings should appear to the right of the data entry box.
Step 5. When you have your insurance company’s rating, follow these guidelines:
  • If your insurer is rated B- or higher, it implies no further action is needed under normal circumstances.
  • If your insurer is rated D+ or lower, it’s a red flag. Unless you must have the coverage and your personal situation would disqualify you from an alternate policy, seriously consider canceling the policy and, if you still need the insurance, shifting to another company. In tax-protected plans, make sure your agent helps you make the transfer without tax consequences.
  • If your insurer is rated C-, C or C+, it’s a yellow flag. Monitor the rating periodically to make sure it has not been downgraded below C- (D+ or lower).
Important: No matter what kind of policy you have, seek to do business only with strong insurers. Reason: If your insurer fails and you have to switch to a new company, you may not be able to get a similar policy or, if your situation has changed, you may not qualify for the insurance.
Step 6. If you’re shopping for a new insurance company, favor those with a rating of B+ or better. Refer to the Strongest Life, Health and Annuity Insurers in the U.S. Or ...
  1. Return to Insurers and HMOs Screener

  2. Under Company Type, select:

    • Life & Health — for life, health and annuity insurers
    • Property & Casualty — for auto, home and business insurance
    • HMOs — for Health Maintenance Organizations

  3. Under Rating, select B

  4. To the right of the rating, select “or higher

  5. On the list to the right, under “display,” set the number of insurers to be listed to 100.

  6. From the list displayed to the right, look for insurers with a rating of B+ or better. Most insurers are licensed to do business in many states. So you are not restricted to insurers that are domiciled in your state.
Important: Beware of the many pitfalls in long-term care insurance. We have received a multitude of questions from readers on this topic. They ask: “Who will care for them in their golden years? How will they cover the cost? Is long-term care insurance really such a good deal as salespeople say it is? For the answers download our free special report, Weiss Research’s Step-by-Step Guide to Long-Term Care.
11. Treasury-Only Money Market Funds
Fund Name
Toll-Free No.
Web Address
ABN AMRO Treas MMF/Common Cl (800) 992-8151 http://www.astonasset.com/
AllianceBernstein Treasury Reserves (800) 251-0539 www.alliancebernstein.com
American Century Capital Presv Fund (800) 345-2021 www.americancentury.com
American Performance US Treas (800) 762-7085 www.apfunds.com
BB&T US Treas MMF/Trust Shrs (800) 228-1872 www.bbtfunds.com
BBH US Treasury MMF (800) 625-5759 www.bbh.com
BNY Hamilton Treas MF/Hamltn Classic (800) 426-9363 www.bnyhamiltonfunds.com
CitiFunds Premium US Treas Resvs (800) 846-5200 www.citibank.com
CitiFunds US Treasury Reserves (800) 846-5200 www.citibank.com
DWS US Treasury Money Fund (800) 621-1048 https://www.dws-scudder.com
Dreyfus 100% US Treasury MMF (888) 782-6620 www.dreyfus.com
Dreyfus US Treas Reserves/ Cl R (888) 782-6620 www.dreyfus.com
Evergreen Treasury MMF/Cl A (800) 343-2898 evergreeninvestments.com
Fidelity US Treasury MMF (800) 343-3548 www.fidelity.com
Fifth Third US Treas MMF (800) 282-5706 https://www.53.com
First Amer Treas Oblig/Cl D - Corpt (800) 677-FUND www.firstamericanfunds.com
Gabelli US Treasury MMF (800) 422-3554 www.gabelli.com
Capital One US Treasury MMF (800) 999-0426 www.capitalone.com
Huntington US Treas MMF/Trust (800) 253-0412 www.huntingtonfunds.com
JPMorgan 100% US Treas Sec. MMF (800) 480-4111 www.jpmorganfunds.com
Reserve Fund/US Treas Fund (800) 637-1700 www.reservefunds.com
RMK Select Treasury MMF (877) 757-7424 www.regions.com
Schwab US Treasury Money Fund (866) 232-9890 www.schwab.com
SEI Liquid Asset Tr/Treas Secs/Cl A (800) 342-5734 www.seic.com
Sentinel US Treasury MMF (800) 282-3863 www.sentinelfunds.com
T. Rowe Price US Treasury Money Fund (800) 541-6066 www.troweprice.com
US Treasury Money Fund of America (800) 421-0180 www.americanfunds.com
US Treasury Securities Cash Fund (800) 873-8637 www.usfunds.com
Vanguard Admiral Treasury MMF (800) 662-7447 www.vanguard.com
Vanguard Treasury MMF (800) 662-7447 www.vanguard.com
Weiss Treasury Only MMF (800) 242-8092 www.tommf.com
Wells Fargo 100% Treas MMF (800) 222-8222 www.wellsfargo.com
Wells Fargo Treas Plus MMF/Class A (800) 222-8222 www.wellsfargo.com
12. Weakest Banks and Thrifts in the U.S.
Distributed by: Weiss Research, Inc., www.MoneyandMarkets.com
Source of Financial Strength Ratings: TheStreet.com Ratings, www.TheStreet.com.
Data source: FDIC’s Call Reports and OTS’ Thrift Financial Reports, June 30, 2008.
Selection criteria for the table below: U.S. commercial banks, savings banks, S&Ls and other thrifts with total assets of $500 million or more and with a rating of D+ or lower.

Name City
State
TheStreet.com Rating
Total Assets ($Millions)
1st Centennial Bk Redlands
CA
E
$762
1st United Bk Boca Raton
FL
D
$563
Advantage Bk Cambridge
OH
D+
$1,026
Affinity Bk Ventura
CA
D-
$1,232
Alliance Bank Lake City
MN
D
$680
Alliance Bk Culver City
CA
E+
$1,119
Alliance Bk Corp Fairfax
VA
D
$569
Allstate Bk Vernon Hills
IL
D+
$923
Amboy Bank Old Bridge
NJ
D-
$2,642
Amcore Bk NA Rockford
IL
D-
$5,133
American Bk St Paul
MN
D
$630
American Bk Rockville
MD
D+
$505
American Bk North Nashwauk
MN
D+
$639
American Bk of Commerce Wolfforth
TX
D
$686
American Founders Bk Inc Frankfort
KY
D-
$509
American River Bk Sacramento
CA
D
$579
Americanwest Bk Spokane
WA
D-
$2,107
Ameriprise Bank, FSB New York
NY
D-
$1,443
Amtrust Bank Cleveland
OH
D-
$15,897
Anchor MSB Aberdeen
WA
D+
$629
Anchorbank FSB Madison
WI
D-
$4,813
Avidia Bank Hudson
MA
D
$953
Baltimore County Svgs Bk FSB Baltimore
MD
D+
$589
Banco Popular North America New York
NY
D
$12,871
Banco Santander PR San Juan
PR
D
$8,659
Bank of Blue Valley Overland Park
KS
D-
$790
Bank of Choice Evans
CO
D-
$563
Bank of Choice Colorado Arvada
CO
D-
$624
Bank of East Asia USA NA New York
NY
D-
$772
Bank of Florida-Southwest Naples
FL
D
$702
Bank of Granite Granite Falls
NC
D-
$1,158
Bank of the Cascades Bend
OR
D-
$2,441
BankAtlantic Fort Lauderdale
FL
D
$6,294
BankUnited FSB Coral Gables
FL
D-
$14,164
Baraboo NB Baraboo
WI
D-
$707
Barclays Bank Delaware Wilmington
DE
D
$7,670
Baylake Bk Sturgeon Bay
WI
D
$1,079
Beach Community Bk Fort Walton Bch
FL
D-
$692
BLC Bank, NA Strasburg
PA
D
$3,654
BPD Bk New York
NY
D
$656
Bradford Bank Baltimore
MD
D-
$518
Bridgeview Bk Group Bridgeview
IL
D+
$1,377
Broadway Bk Chicago
IL
D+
$1,154
Buckhead Community Bk Atlanta
GA
D-
$921
Builders Bk Chicago
IL
D-
$520
CapitalSouth Bank Birmingham
AL
E
$737
Carolina Bk Greensboro
NC
D+
$567
Central Co-Op Bk Somerville
MA
D+
$564
Central IL Bk Champaign
IL
D+
$501
Central Pacific Bk Honolulu
HI
D
$5,637
Century Bk FSB Sarasota
FL
D-
$920
Chevy Chase Bk FSB McLean
VA
D
$14,820
ChinaTrust Bk USA Torrance
CA
D+
$2,713
Citibank NA Las Vegas
NV
D+
$1,228,445
Citizens Bkg Co Sandusky
OH
D+
$1,105
Citizens Financial Bank Hammond
IN
D+
$1,102
Citizens First Svg BK Port Huron
MI
D-
$2,070
Cole Taylor Bk Chicago
IL
D
$3,709
College Svgs Bk Princeton
NJ
D-
$608
Colorado East B&T Lamar
CO
D+
$747
Columbia River Bk The Dalles
OR
D+
$1,108
Columbian B&TC Topeka
KS
F
$735
Community B&TC Sheboygan
WI
D+
$602
Community Bk Loganville
GA
E-
$628
Community Bk of Nevada Las Vegas
NV
D+
$1,636
Community Central BK Mt Clemens
MI
D-
$531
Community South Bk Parsons
TN
D+
$634
Community West Bk Goleta
CA
D
$648
Conestoga Bank Chester Springs
PA
D-
$728
Corus Bk NA Chicago
IL
D-
$8,984
Countrywide Bank, FSB Alexandria
VA
D-
$116,364
County Bk Merced
CA
E+
$2,059
Crescent B&TC Jasper
GA
D
$975
Crescent B&TC New Orleans
LA
D+
$574
Darby B&TC Vidalia
GA
D+
$784
Delaware County B&TC Lewis Center
OH
D+
$713
Desert Hills Bk Phoenix
AZ
D-
$517
Doral Bank Puerto Rico San Juan
PR
D-
$8,822
Downey S&LA FA Newport Beach
CA
D-
$12,630
East Boston Svg Bk Boston
MA
D+
$1,013
Eastern Svgs Bk FSB Hunt Valley
MD
D
$1,116
Equitable Bk SSB Wauwatosa
WI
D
$553
Eurobank San Juan
PR
D-
$2,829
Exchange Bk Santa Rosa
CA
D+
$1,679
Farmers & Merchants Bk Lakeland
GA
D-
$589
Federal Trust Bank Sanford
FL
E-
$637
Fidelity Bank Dearborn
MI
D-
$1,036
Fidelity Bk Norcross
GA
D+
$1,775
Fifth Third Bk Grand Rapids
MI
D+
$54,161
First American B&TC Vacherie
LA
D+
$687
First American Intl Bk Brooklyn
NY
D+
$558
First Bank of Beverly Hills Calabasas
CA
D+
$1,332
First Bk Creve Coeur
MO
D
$10,780
First Bk Fncl Centre Oconomowoc
WI
D
$587
First Central Svgs Bk Glen Cove
NY
E+
$655
First Community Bk Taos
NM
D+
$3,462
First Federal Bank Harrison
AR
D
$820
First Federal Bank of CA FSB Santa Monica
CA
D-
$7,179
First Georgia Banking Co Franklin
GA
D
$780
First Independent Bk Vancouver
WA
D
$958
First Mariner Bk Baltimore
MD
D-
$1,179
First NB of GA Carrollton
GA
D-
$906
First NB of Nevada Reno
NV
F
$3,411
First NB of the South Spartanburg
SC
D
$861
First Niagara Commercial Bk Lockport
NY
D
$685
First Place Bank Warren
OH
D+
$3,176
First Private B&T Encino
CA
D
$639
First St Bk Eastpointe
MI
D
$731
First St Bk Stockbridge
GA
D-
$680
First Tennessee Bk NA Memphis
TN
D+
$35,287
First United B&TC Durant
OK
D
$1,927
FirstBank Florida Miami
FL
D+
$895
Firstbank of PR San Juan
PR
D+
$17,841
Flagstar Bk FSB Troy
MI
D-
$14,559
Florida Bank Tampa
FL
D+
$553
Florida Capital Bank, NA Jacksonville
FL
D-
$879
Florida Community Bk Immokalee
FL
E+
$990
Founders Bk Worth
IL
D
$972
Franklin Bk SSB Houston
TX
D-
$5,572
Fremont Investment & Loan Brea
CA
E
$5,657
Gainesville Bank & Trust Gainesville
GA
D+
$690
Goldman Sachs Bk USA Salt Lake City
UT
D-
$25,727
Great FL Bk Miami
FL
D+
$1,791
Guaranty Bank Milwaukee
WI
D-
$1,749
Guaranty Bk Austin
TX
D+
$15,756
H&R Block Bank Kansas City
MO
D
$1,067
Habersham Bk Clarkesville
GA
D-
$502
Hampden Bank Springfield
MA
D+
$518
Hanmi Bk Los Angeles
CA
D
$3,839
Haven SB Hoboken
NJ
D+
$692
Haven Trust Bank Duluth
GA
D-
$558
Heartland Bk Clayton
MO
D
$893
Helm Bk Miami
FL
D+
$645
Highland Bk St Michael
MN
D
$503
Hillcrest Bk Overland Park
KS
D-
$1,888
Home FSB Rochester
MN
D+
$1,076
Home NB Blackwell
OK
D
$806
Home S&LC Youngstown
OH
D
$2,739
HSBC Bk USA NA Wilmington
DE
D+
$177,466
Huntington NB Columbus
OH
D+
$54,842
Illinois NB Springfield
IL
D-
$505
Imperial Capital Bk La Jolla
CA
D
$4,089
Independence Bk Owensboro
KY
D+
$702
Independent Bk Ionia
MI
D-
$3,232
Independent Bk Memphis
TN
D+
$643
IndyMac Bk FSB Pasadena
CA
E-
$30,534
Inland B&T Lake Zurich
IL
D-
$1,098
Integrity Bk Alpharetta
GA
F
$1,108
Inter Svgs Bk FSB Maple Grove
MN
D-
$895
International Bk of Miami NA Coral Gables
FL
D
$800
Intervest NB New York
NY
D-
$2,103
Irwin Union Bk Columbus
IN
D+
$5,285
Irwin Union Bk FSB Columbus
IN
D+
$692
K Bk Owings Mills
MD
D-
$657
LaSalle Bank Midwest NA Troy
MI
D+
$37,643
Leaders Bk Oak Brook
IL
D+
$588
Legacy Bk Hinton
OK
D+
$504
Lehman Brothers Bk FSB Wilmington
DE
D+
$10,577
LibertyBank Eugene
OR
D-
$947
Lincoln Bank Plainfield
IN
D+
$868
Los Padres Bk Solvang
CA
D+
$1,195
Lowell Five Cents SB Lowell
MA
D+
$659
Lydian Private Bank Palm Beach
FL
D+
$1,923
Macatawa Bk Holland
MI
D
$2,116
Magna Bank Brentwood
TN
D+
$534
Magyar Bank New Brunswick
NJ
D
$510
Marine Bk-Springfield Springfield
IL
D+
$623
Mercantil Commercebank, NA Miami
FL
D+
$6,036
Meridian Bank NA Wickenburg
AZ
D
$2,127
Merrick Bank Corp S Jordan
UT
D+
$1,202
Metropolitan NB Little Rock
AR
D
$1,746
Midcountry Bank Marion
IL
D-
$979
Mid-Missouri Bk Springfield
MO
D+
$705
MidWestOne Bk Oskaloosa
IA
D
$789
Millennium BCP Bank, NA Newark
NJ
D-
$836
Mountain 1st B&T Hendersonville
NC
D+
$685
Mutual Bk Harvey
IL
D-
$1,698
National City Bk Cleveland
OH
D
$151,165
Nevada Security Bk Reno
NV
D+
$632
New Frontier Bk Greeley
CO
D+
$2,035
New South FSB Irondale
AL
D
$1,962
Newbridge Bank Lexington
NC
D+
$2,012
Nexity Bk Birmingham
AL
D-
$1,095
Norstates Bank Waukegan
IL
D
$638
Northeast Bk Auburn
ME
D+
$596
Northside Cmnty Bk Gurnee
IL
D
$555
Northwest Georgia Bk Ringgold
GA
D+
$613
NOVA Savings Bk Berwyn
PA
D-
$520
Ocean Bk Miami
FL
E+
$4,848
Omni Bk Metairie
LA
D
$735
Omni NB Atlanta
GA
E
$1,030
OmniAmerican Bank Fort Worth
TX
D
$1,092
One United Bk Boston
MA
D+
$725
Orion Bk Naples
FL
D-
$2,889
Pacific Trust Bk Chula Vista
CA
D+
$825
Park Avenue Bk Valdosta
GA
D
$1,221
Park View FSB Cleveland
OH
D
$868
Peninsula Bk Englewood
FL
D-
$589
Peoples Community Bank W Chester
OH
D-
$764
Peoples First Community Bk Panama City
FL
D-
$1,840
PFF B&T Pomona
CA
E
$4,102
Preferred Bk Los Angeles
CA
D
$1,525
Premier Bk Jefferson City
MO
D-
$1,504
Premier Bk Medford
OR
D+
$1,487
Premier Bk-Maplewood Maplewood
MN
D-
$560
Presidential Bk FSB Bethesda
MD
D-
$556
Prosperity Bk St Augustine
FL
D+
$1,027
Redding Bk of Commerce Redding
CA
D-
$642
Reliance Bk Des Peres
MO
D+
$1,266
Republic Federal Bank, NA Miami
FL
D-
$590
R-G Premier Bk of PR San Juan
PR
D-
$7,189
Riverbank MN Wyoming
MN
D-
$500
Riverside Bk of Gulf Coast Cape Coral
FL
E+
$621
Royal Bk America Narberth
PA
D
$1,064
Saehan Bk Los Angeles
CA
D+
$888
Scotiabank DE PR Hato Rey
PR
D-
$1,603
Seacoast NB Stuart
FL
D-
$2,295
Seattle SB Seattle
WA
D+
$655
Security Bank of Bibb County Macon
GA
D-
$1,359
Security Pacific Bk Los Angeles
CA
E-
$588
Security Svgs Bk FSB Olathe
KS
D+
$693
Signature Bk of Arkansas Fayetteville
AR
D
$615
Silver St Bk Henderson
NV
F
$1,957
Silverton Bank, NA Atlanta
GA
D
$2,905
Southwest Bk Fort Worth
TX
D+
$561
Sovereign Bk NA Dallas
TX
D+
$674
St. Louis Bank Town And Country
MO
D+
$527
Sterling B&T FSB Southfield
MI
D-
$672
Sterling Savings Bank Spokane
WA
D
$12,216
Strategic Cap Bk Champaign
IL
D-
$676
Sun American Bk Boca Raton
FL
D-
$649
Superior Bank Birmingham
AL
D-
$2,835
Teambank NA Paola
KS
D+
$682
Temecula Valley Bk Temecula
CA
D
$1,462
TIB Bank Naples
FL
D
$1,490
TierOne Bk Lincoln
NE
D
$3,227
TotalBank Miami
FL
D+
$1,907
Tower B&TC Fort Wayne
IN
D+
$691
Truman Bk St Louis
MO
D-
$517
Umpqua Bk Roseburg
OR
D+
$8,343
Union Bk Kansas City
MO
D+
$635
United Security Bank Fresno
CA
D-
$770
Valley Bk Moline
IL
D+
$696
Vantus Bk Sioux City
IA
D+
$565
Venture Bk Lacey
WA
D
$1,224
Vineyard Bk, NA Rancho Cucam.
CA
E+
$2,336
Vision Bk Panama City
FL
D
$938
Wachovia Mortgage, FSB N Las Vegas
NV
D+
$76,795
Warren Bk Warren
MI
E+
$622
Washington Mutual Bank Henderson
NV
D+
$299,417
Waterstone Bank Wauwatosa
WI
D
$1,838
West Coast Bk Lake Oswego
OR
D-
$2,618
Westernbank Puerto Rico Mayaguez
PR
D-
$17,082
13. Strongest Banks and Thrifts in the U.S.
Distributed by: Weiss Research, Inc., www.MoneyandMarkets.com.
Source of Financial Strength Ratings: TheStreet.com Ratings, www.TheStreet.com.
Data source: FDIC’s Call Reports and OTS’ Thrift Financial Reports, June 30, 2008.
Selection criteria for the table below: U.S. commercial banks, savings banks, S&Ls and other thrifts with total assets of $500 million or more and with a rating of B+ or higher.

Name City
State
TheStreet.com Rating
Total Assets ($Millions)
Advanta Bk Corp Draper
UT
A
$2,761
Albany B&TC NA Chicago
IL
A
$518
Alerus Financial NA Grand Forks
ND
B+
$738
American Bk of Texas Sherman
TX
A-
$1,076
American Bk TX NA Marble Falls
TX
B+
$674
American Heritage Bk Sapulpa
OK
A-
$617
American NB&TC Danville
VA
A
$790
American St Bk Lubbock
TX
A-
$2,076
Apple Bk For Svgs Manhasset
NY
B+
$7,761
BancFirst Oklahoma City
OK
A-
$3,823
BancorpSouth Bk Tupelo
MS
B+
$13,395
Bank of Clarke Cty Berryville
VA
B+
$512
Bank of Commerce Idaho Falls
ID
A+
$718
Bank of Hampton Roads Norfolk
VA
B+
$554
Bank of Marin Corte Madera
CA
B+
$953
Bank of Stockton Stockton
CA
A-
$1,775
Bank of the Ozarks Little Rock
AR
B+
$3,052
Bank of the Sierra Porterville
CA
A-
$1,305
Bank of the West El Paso
TX
A-
$716
Bank of Utah Ogden
UT
B+
$704
Bank of Washington Washington
MO
B+
$642
BankPlus Belzoni
MS
B+
$2,155
Beal Bk NV Las Vegas
NV
B+
$2,213
Bessemer TC Woodbridge Twp
NJ
A-
$615
Bessemer Trust Co NA New York
NY
A-
$608
Broadway NB San Antonio
TX
A
$1,770
Brookline Bank Brookline
MA
A-
$2,422
Burke & Herbert B&TC Alexandria
VA
A
$1,568
Cameron St Bk Lake Charles
LA
A-
$594
Centennial Bk Fountain Valley
CA
B+
$796
Centier Bank Whiting
IN
A-
$1,818
Central Bk Provo
UT
B+
$629
Central Valley Cmnty Bk Fresno
CA
B+
$522
Charter Bk Eau Claire Eau Claire
WI
B+
$500
Citizens 1st Bank Tyler
TX
A
$602
Citizens Bk Elizabethton
TN
A-
$629
Citizens Bk Philadelphia
MS
B+
$693
Citizens Bk Farmington
NM
B+
$535
Citizens NB of Meridian Meridian
MS
A-
$1,124
City NB Beverly Hills
CA
B+
$15,971
City NB of Florida Miami
FL
A+
$2,817
City NB of WV Charleston
WV
A-
$2,461
Columbia Bk Fair Lawn
NJ
B+
$4,411
Community Bk Pasadena
CA
B+
$2,302
Community BK of Tri-Cty Waldorf
MD
B+
$643
Conway NB Conway
SC
A-
$860
CorTrust Bk NA Mitchell
SD
B+
$532
Custodial Trust Co Princeton
NJ
A
$880
Deutsche Bk TC Americas New York
NY
B+
$46,071
Deutsche Bk Tr Co DE Wilmington
DE
A-
$715
Dime Svgs Bk of Williamsburg Brooklyn
NY
B+
$3,654
Eastern Bk Boston
MA
B+
$6,802
El Dorado Svgs Bk FSB Placerville
CA
A-
$1,587
Evangeline B&TC Ville Platte
LA
A-
$525
Farmers & Merch Bk Ctrl CA Lodi
CA
A-
$1,607
Farmers & Merchants Bk Long Beach
CA
A
$3,279
Farmers St Bk Marion
IA
A-
$534
Fidelity Bk Fuquay-Varina
NC
A-
$1,459
First B&T East Texas Diboll
TX
B+
$619
First Bk Troy
NC
B+
$2,625
First Citizens B&TC Columbia
SC
B+
$6,182
First Citizens NB Mason City
IA
A-
$833
First Community Bk NA Bluefield
VA
B+
$2,035
First Constitution Bk Cranbury
NJ
A-
$504
First Farmers & Merchants Bk Columbia
TN
B+
$876
First Federal Bk of FL Lake City
FL
A-
$636
First Financial Bank, NA Abilene
TX
B+
$1,016
First Financial Bk Terre Haute
IN
A
$2,229
First Financial Bk NA Hamilton
OH
B+
$3,448
First Hawaiian Bk Honolulu
HI
A-
$13,027
First Mid Illinois B&T NA Mattoon
IL
B+
$1,012
First NB Hot Springs
AR
A-
$728
First NB Paragould
AR
A-
$580
First NB Fort Pierre
SD
B+
$602
First NB Alaska Anchorage
AK
B+
$2,320
First NB of Long Island Glen Head
NY
A-
$1,175
First NB of Newtown Newtown
PA
A
$607
First NB of Palmerton Palmerton
PA
A-
$571
First NB of Pulaski Pulaski
TN
B+
$566
First NB of Shelby Shelby
NC
A
$947
First NB of TN Livingston
TN
A
$550
First PREMIER Bk Sioux Falls
SD
A
$871
First Security Bk Missoula
MT
A-
$847
First Source Bk S Bend
IN
B+
$4,457
First St Bk Central TX Austin
TX
B+
$1,005
Firstbank Southwest Amarillo
TX
B+
$660
FPC Financial FSB Madison
WI
B+
$1,729
Frost NB San Antonio
TX
A-
$13,797
Gate City Bk Fargo
ND
A-
$994
GE Capital Fncl Salt Lake City
UT
A-
$5,266
Glacier Bk Kalispell
MT
A-
$1,155
Glens Falls NB&TC Glens Falls
NY
B+
$1,396
Heritage Bk of Commerce San Jose
CA
B+
$1,486
High Point B&TC High Point
NC
A-
$791
Hills B&TC Hills
IA
B+
$1,706
Home Federal Bank Nampa
ID
B+
$687
Home Federal Bank of TN Knoxville
TN
B+
$1,797
Hudson Valley Bank, NA Stamford
CT
B+
$2,210
Idaho Independent Bk Coeur D'Alene
ID
B+
$595
International Bk/Cmmrce NA Brownsville
TX
B+
$794
Intrust Bk NA Wichita
KS
B+
$3,463
Jersey Shore St Bk Jersey Shore
PA
A-
$623
KleinBank Big Lake
MN
B+
$1,545
LA Jolla Bk FSB Rancho Santa Fe
CA
B+
$3,659
Lehman Brothers Comml Bank Salt Lake City
UT
B+
$6,418
Liberty Bk Middletown
CT
A-
$2,778
Luther Burbank Svgs Santa Rosa
CA
B+
$3,049
Manufacturers Bk Los Angeles
CA
B+
$2,073
Maspeth FS&LA Maspeth
NY
A
$1,353
Mechanics Bk Richmond
CA
B+
$2,656
Mizuho Corporate Bk Of CA Los Angeles
CA
B+
$558
Mizuho Corporate Bk USA New York
NY
B+
$3,035
Mountain West Bk Coeur D'Alene
ID
B+
$1,115
National B&TC of Sycamore Sycamore
IL
A-
$574
National Bk of Blacksburg Blacksburg
VA
A-
$891
National Exchange B&TC Fond Du Lac
WI
A
$1,053
Nationwide Bank Columbus
OH
A-
$1,506
Needham Bk Needham
MA
B+
$803
Newburyport Five Cnts SB Newburyport
MA
B+
$588
North American Svgs Bk FSB Grandview
MO
B+
$1,546
Northfield Bank Staten Island
NY
A-
$1,518
Old Second NB Aurora
IL
B+
$2,953
OptumHealth Bank, Inc. W Valley City
UT
A-
$771
Orrstown Bk Shippensburg
PA
B+
$937
Pacific Coast Bkr BK San Francisco
CA
B+
$504
Panhandle St Bk Sandpoint
ID
B+
$1,023
Parke Bk Sewell
NJ
B+
$528
Penn Security B&TC Scranton
PA
A-
$625
Peoples Bk of Biloxi Biloxi
MS
A-
$891
People's United Bank Bridgeport
CT
B+
$17,367
Piedmont FSB Winston-Salem
NC
B+
$834
Pinnacle Bk Lincoln
NE
B+
$2,211
Provident Bk Montebello
NY
B+
$2,682
Prudential Bank & Trust, FSB Hartford
CT
B+
$1,445
RCB Bk Claremore
OK
B+
$1,189
River City Bk Sacramento
CA
B+
$862
Roma Bank Robbinsville
NJ
B+
$923
Rosedale FS&LA Baltimore
MD
A+
$607
Savings Bk of Mendocino Cty Ukiah
CA
A-
$738
Security NB of Omaha Omaha
NE
B+
$574
Security NB of Sioux City IA Sioux City
IA
B+
$617
Silicon Valley Bk Santa Clara
CA
A
$6,673
Skagit St Bk Burlington
WA
A-
$568
Solvay Bk Solvay
NY
B+
$525
Somerset Svgs Bk, SLA Bound Brook
NJ
B+
$596
South Side T&SB Peoria
IL
A-
$518
Southern B&TC Mt Olive
NC
B+
$1,165
Starion Financial Bismarck
ND
B+
$576
State Bk of India (Calif) Los Angeles
CA
B+
$589
State Bk of Southern Utah Cedar City
UT
A-
$603
Stearns Bk NA St Cloud
MN
B+
$1,031
StellarOne Bank Christiansburg
VA
B+
$3,007
Sumitomo Tr & Bkg Co USA Hoboken
NJ
A+
$718
Talbot Bk of Easton MD Easton
MD
B+
$591
Time FSB Medford
WI
B+
$502
Torrington Svgs Bk Torrington
CT
B+
$725
Tri City NB Oak Creek
WI
A
$755
Tri Counties Bk Chico
CA
A-
$1,979
UMB Bank Colorado Denver
CO
B+
$845
UMB NB of America Salina
KS
B+
$591
Union B&TC Lincoln
NE
B+
$1,720
United Bk Zebulon
GA
B+
$646
Univest NB&TC Souderton
PA
A-
$1,995
Washington First Intl Bk Seattle
WA
B+
$638
Washington FS&LA Seattle
WA
A
$11,572
Waukesha St Bk Waukesha
WI
A
$687
Western Security Bank Billings
MT
A-
$567
Wilmington Svgs Fund Society Wilmington
DE
B+
$3,193
Wilshire St Bk Los Angeles
CA
B+
$2,356
Woodforest NB Houston
TX
A-
$2,687
World Financial Network NB Columbus
OH
A-
$1,029
Wright Express Fin Svcs Corp Salt Lake City
UT
A-
$1,493
Yakima FS&LA Yakima
WA
B+
$1,394
14. Weakest Life, Health and Annuity Insurers in the U.S.
Distributed by: Weiss Research, Inc., www.MoneyandMarkets.com.
Source of Financial Strength Ratings: TheStreet.com Ratings, www.TheStreet.com.
Data source: Statutory filings with state insurance commissioners, second quarter 2008.
Selection criteria for the table below: U.S. life and health insurers with total assets of $500 million or more and with a rating of D+ or lower.

Company State
TheStreet.com Financial Strength Rating
($) Total Assets
ACA Financial Guaranty Corp MD D-
642,377,000
Affirmative Ins Co IL D+
514,802,000
American Physicians Asr Corp MI D+
846,083,000
Arrowood Indemnity Co DE D
2,942,967,000
Axis Surplus Ins Co IL D
580,783,000
Bankers Life & Cas Co IL D+
10,770,393,000
Brickstreet Mutual Ins Co WV E+
1,479,174,000
Catastrophe Reins Co TX E+
1,262,290,000
Clearwater Ins Co DE D
1,298,296,000
Coast National Ins Co CA D+
545,402,000
Colonial Penn Life Ins Co PA D+
709,488,000
Conseco Health Ins Co AZ D+
2,392,440,000
Conseco Ins Co IL D+
1,133,932,000
Conseco Life Ins Co IN D+
4,266,844,000
Conseco Senior Health Ins Co PA D+
3,425,873,000
Dorinco Reinsurance Co MI D
1,750,983,000
Financial Guaranty Ins Co NY D
4,263,721,000
Finial Reins Co CT D
1,317,986,000
First State Ins Co CT E
981,690,000
Global Reins Corp Of America NY D-
584,308,000
Greenwich Ins Co DE D
863,114,000
Indiana Old National Ins Co VT D
1,999,448,000
Jefferson National Life Ins Co TX D-
1,614,881,000
Lifecare Assurance Co AZ D+
682,772,000
Lumbermens Mutual Cas Co IL E
1,595,570,000
Medical Liability Mutual Ins Co NY D+
5,008,299,000
Monarch Life Ins Co MA F
924,370,000
Partner Reinsurance Co Of The Us NY D+
3,326,868,000
Penn Treaty Network America Ins Co PA D+
1,037,633,000
Physicians Reciprocal Insurers NY E-
1,412,360,000
PMI Ins Co AZ D+
564,310,000
PMI Mortgage Ins Co AZ D
3,765,664,000
Presidential Life Ins Co NY D+
3,891,910,000
Princeton Ins Co NJ D+
1,034,679,000
Radian Guaranty Inc PA D
4,038,675,000
SCOR Global Life US Re Ins Co TX D+
1,996,976,000
SCOR Reinsurance Co NY D
1,427,621,000
Seabright Ins Co IL D+
695,986,000
TIG Ins Co CA D
2,176,928,000
Underwriters At Lloyds London IL E+
741,757,000
United Automobile Ins Co FL D-
540,645,000
Washington National Ins Co IL D+
2,376,426,000
Western United Life Asr Co WA F
789,315,000
Wilton Reassurance Life Co Of NY NY D-
1,217,650,000
XL Capital Asr Inc NY D
580,951,000
XL Ins America Inc DE D+
618,004,000
15. Strongest Life, Health and Annuity Insurers in the U.S.
Distributed by: Weiss Research, Inc., www.MoneyandMarkets.com.
Source of Financial Strength Ratings: TheStreet.com Ratings, www.TheStreet.com.
Data source: Statutory filings with state insurance commissioners, second quarter 2008.
Selection criteria for the table below: U.S. life and health insurers with total assets of $500 million or more and with a rating of B+ or higher.

Company
State
TheStreet.com Financial Strength Rating
($) Total Assets
Acacia Life Ins Co
DC
A-
1,632,297,000
Alfa Life Ins Corp
AL
A
1,122,859,000
Alfa Mutual Fire Ins Co
AL
A-
792,965,000
Alfa Mutual Ins Co
AL
A-
1,450,155,000
Allstate Ins Co
IL
A-
44,022,535,000
Allstate Life Ins Co
IL
A-
75,704,815,000
American Family Life Asr Co Of Colum
NE
B+
63,026,750,000
American Family Life Ins Co
WI
A+
3,922,736,000
American Fidelity Asr Co
OK
A+
3,282,597,000
American General Life Ins Co
TX
B+
36,618,728,000
American Health & Life Ins Co
TX
B+
1,711,478,000
American Income Life Ins Co
IN
A-
1,730,502,000
American Modern Home Ins Co
OH
B+
895,708,000
American National Ins Co
TX
B+
14,228,188,000
American National Property & Cas Co
MO
A-
1,186,077,000
American United Life Ins Co
IN
A-
13,653,720,000
Ameritas Life Ins Corp
NE
A-
6,200,251,000
Amica Life Ins Co
RI
A-
928,202,000
Anthem Blue Cross Life & Health Ins
CA
B+
1,933,280,000
Assurity Life Ins Co
NE
B+
2,182,113,000
Auto-Owners Ins Co
MI
A
9,445,988,000
Auto-Owners Life Ins Co
MI
A
2,073,873,000
AXA Corporate Solutions Life Reins
DE
A-
896,661,000
AXA Life & Annuity Co
CO
B+
550,385,000
Berkshire Life Ins Co Of America
MA
A
2,360,212,000
Bituminous Casualty Corp
IL
A-
762,010,000
Boston Mutual Life Ins Co
MA
B+
897,252,000
California State Auto Asn Inter-Ins
CA
A-
5,632,433,000
Canal Ins Co
SC
B+
1,245,243,000
Central Mutual Ins Co
OH
B+
1,229,300,000
Church Mutual Ins Co
WI
A
1,194,769,000
Cincinnati Ins Co
OH
A-
9,997,816,000
Columbus Life Ins Co
OH
B+
2,521,485,000
Commerce Ins Co
MA
B+
2,951,007,000
Cooperativa D Seguros Multiples D Pr
PR
A-
515,778,000
Cornhusker Casualty Co
NE
B+
772,947,000
Country Life Ins Co
IL
A+
7,371,917,000
Country Mutual Ins Co
IL
A
3,450,695,000
Cumis Ins Society Inc
IA
B+
1,346,943,000
Dairyland Ins Co
WI
A
1,246,729,000
Empire Fidelity Investments L I C
NY
A-
1,542,762,000
Erie Family Life Ins Co
PA
B+
1,560,126,000
Farm Bureau Life Ins Co
IA
B+
5,623,349,000
Farm Bureau Life Ins Co Of Michigan
MI
A-
1,705,973,000
Farm Bureau Mutual Ins Co
IA
A-
1,484,294,000
Farm Family Life Ins Co
NY
B+
1,012,581,000
Farmers Automobile Ins Asn
IL
B+
860,453,000
Federal Ins Co
IN
B+
29,772,626,000
Federated Life Ins Co
MN
A
944,589,000
Federated Mutual Ins Co
MN
B+
3,909,037,000
Fidelity Investments Life Ins Co
UT
A
15,309,502,000
Fidelity Life Assn A Legal Reserve
IL
B+
528,469,000
First Investors Life Ins Co
NY
A-
1,275,675,000
Foremost Ins Co
MI
A-
1,997,074,000
Fort Dearborn Life Ins Co
IL
A
2,264,437,000
Frankenmuth Mutual Ins Co
MI
A
959,680,000
Geico Indemnity Co
MD
A-
4,578,509,000
General Re Life Corp
CT
B+
2,645,988,000
Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Ins Co
GA
A-
828,866,000
Gerber Life Ins Co
NY
A-
1,466,269,000
Government Employees Ins Co
MD
B+
12,630,060,000
Government Personnel Mutual L I C
TX
B+
788,971,000
Grange Mutual Cas Co
OH
A-
1,617,156,000
Great Northern Ins Co
IN
B+
1,491,886,000
Great West Casualty Co
NE
A-
1,545,657,000
Great-West Life & Annuity Ins Co
CO
B+
36,344,017,000
Guardian Life Ins Co Of America
NY
A
28,965,624,000
Hartford Fire Ins Co
CT
B+
25,588,058,000
Hartford Life & Annuity Ins Co
CT
B+
82,527,190,000
Hartford Underwriters Ins Co
CT
B+
1,579,478,000
Hastings Mutual Ins Co
MI
A+
611,227,000
Health Net Life Ins Co
CA
B+
798,765,000
Home-Owners Ins Co
MI
A
1,276,338,000
Illinois Mutual Life Ins Co
IL
A-
1,273,086,000
Interins Exch Of The Automobile Club
CA
A+
5,581,507,000
Jackson National Life Ins Co
MI
B+
73,607,090,000
John Hancock Life Ins Co
MA
A-
68,798,380,000
John Hancock Life Ins Co (USA)
MI
B+
121,384,552,000
John Hancock Life Ins Co Of NY
NY
A
7,064,601,000
John Hancock Variable Life Ins Co
MA
B+
14,560,345,000
Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual Ins Co
KY
A
1,660,062,000
Liberty National Life Ins Co
AL
B+
5,116,696,000
Lincoln Benefit Life Co
NE
B+
3,120,866,000
Lincoln Heritage Life Ins Co
IL
B+
594,141,000
London Life Reinsurance Co
PA
B+
1,245,872,000
Massachusetts Mutual Life Ins Co
MA
A
119,963,256,000
Mercury Casualty Co
CA
A-
2,382,117,000
Mercury Ins Co
CA
A
1,516,421,000
Merit Life Ins Co
IN
B+
1,106,579,000
Merrimack Mutual Fire Ins Co
MA
A-
861,026,000
Metropolitan Life Ins Co
NY
B+
301,793,931,000
Metropolitan Property & Cas Ins Co
RI
B+
5,183,091,000
Midland National Life Ins Co
IA
A-
25,670,030,000
Minnesota Life Ins Co
MN
A-
22,925,431,000
MML Bay State Life Ins Co
CT
A-
4,555,221,000
Motorists Mutual Ins Co
OH
B+
1,213,330,000
MTL Ins Co
IL
B+
1,283,579,000
Mutual Ins Co Of AZ
AZ
B+
885,430,000
Mutual Of America Life Ins Co
NY
B+
12,424,461,000
Mutual Of Omaha Ins Co
NE
A-
4,538,156,000
National Benefit Life Ins Co
NY
A-
722,951,000
National Guardian Life Ins Co
WI
A-
1,514,956,000
National Integrity Life Ins Co
NY
B+
3,761,456,000
National Liability & Fire Ins Co
CT
A-
1,199,175,000
Nationwide Life Ins Co
OH
B+
93,104,603,000
Nationwide Life Ins Co Of America
PA
B+
6,056,557,000
Nationwide Mutual Fire Ins Co
OH
B+
4,310,256,000
New York Life Ins & Annuity Corp
DE
A
73,552,223,000
New York Life Ins Co
NY
A
123,446,502,000
New York Marine & General Ins Co
NY
A-
601,600,000
North Carolina Farm Bu Mutual Ins Co
NC
A-
1,592,026,000
Northwestern Mutual Life Ins Co
WI
A
158,298,015,000
Ohio National Life Asr Corp
OH
B+
2,703,697,000
Old Republic General Ins Corp
IL
A-
987,289,000
Old Republic Ins Co
PA
A-
2,380,335,000
Owners Ins Co
OH
A-
2,447,660,000
Pacific Life & Annuity Co
AZ
A-
2,419,040,000
Pacific Life Ins Co
NE
A
94,447,398,000
Pekin Life Ins Co
IL
B+
826,846,000
Penn Ins & Annuity Co
DE
B+
1,103,682,000
Penn Mutual Life Ins Co
PA
B+
10,339,561,000
Physicians Life Ins Co
NE
A-
1,302,749,000
Physicians Mutual Ins Co
NE
A+
1,406,088,000
Primerica Life Ins Co
MA
A-
6,140,884,000
Principal Life Ins Co
IA
A-
132,593,698,000
Protective Ins Co
IN
A+
603,960,000
Radian Asset Asr Co
NY
B+
2,504,183,000
Reliable Life Ins Co
MO
A-
739,976,000
Reliastar Life Ins Co
MN
B+
21,955,348,000
Riversource Life Ins Co Of NY
NY
B+
4,839,180,000
Safety Ins Co
MA
B+
1,223,114,000
Savings Bank Life Ins Co Of Ma
MA
A-
2,088,888,000
Sentry Ins A Mutual Co
WI
A
5,609,638,000
Sentry Life Ins Co
WI
A
3,214,258,000
Shelter Life Ins Co
MO
A-
924,554,000
Southern Farm Bureau Cas Ins Co
MS
A-
2,748,224,000
Southern Farm Bureau Life Ins Co
MS
A
9,974,133,000
Standard Life & Accident Ins Co
OK
A-
526,172,000
State Auto Property & Casualty Ins
IA
B+
1,741,576,000
State Farm Life & Accident Asr Co
IL
A+
1,575,818,000
State Farm Life Ins Co
IL
A+
43,585,179,000
State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins Co
IL
B+
103,031,215,000
State Volunteer Mutual Ins Co
TN
B+
949,776,000
Teachers Ins & Annuity Asn Of Am
NY
A+
198,035,469,000
Tennessee Farmers Asr Co
TN
A
883,836,000
Tennessee Farmers Life Ins Co
TN
A
1,269,559,000
Tennessee Farmers Mutual Ins Co
TN
A-
1,902,758,000
Thrivent Life Ins Co
MN
B+
3,420,312,000
Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Ins Ltd
NY
B+
1,701,782,000
Union Central Life Ins Co
OH
B+
6,971,059,000
United Farm Family Life Ins Co
IN
A
1,688,051,000
United Farm Family Mutual Ins Co
IN
A-
840,304,000
United Of Omaha Life Ins Co
NE
B+
13,174,566,000
United Services Automobile Asn
TX
A+
18,709,703,000
USAA Casualty Ins Co
TX
A+
6,182,472,000
USAA Life Ins Co
TX
A
11,408,616,000
Variable Annuity Life Ins Co
TX
A-
61,439,244,000
Wesco-Financial Ins Co
NE
B+
2,901,304,000
West Bend Mutual Ins Co
WI
A-
1,483,559,000
Western & Southern Life Ins Co
OH
B+
8,533,045,000
16. Select U.S. Brokers With Their Capital Multiples
Publisher: Weiss Research, Inc.
Data source: Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and most recent financial statements.
Selection criteria for the table below: Based on reader interest and other issues we deemed relevant to investors.
Definition of Capital Multiple: Total net capital divided by minimum capital requirement.

Important: Do not rely exclusively on this measure to evaluate the relative safety of your broker. When you have a choice, favor brokers with a higher capital multiple as an indicator of their ability to withstand losses or other financial difficulties.
Brokerage Firm
Capital Multiple
Edward Jones
19.90
Bank of New York Mellon (Pershing)
15.80
T. Rowe Price
13.98
Scottrade
13.86
OptionsXpress
12.65
Raymond James
11.92
Merrill Lynch
8.62
Fidelity
7.93
Bank of America Securities
5.97
ING Direct
5.85
Schwab
5.85
Lehman Brothers
5.43
E*Trade
5.00
TD Ameritrade
4.72
Citi Smith Barney
4.06
Goldman Sachs
3.90
Morgan Stanley
3.21