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Are your savings at risk?

Three years ago Spanish banks were seen as a safe haven, says Emma Simon in The Daily Telegraph. Now that the country’s third biggest bank (Bankia) has had to be bailed out, that view has changed. So what should nervous savers do?

For British customers of Spanish-owned Santander, the good news is your money should be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for up to £85,000 should that bank hit trouble. That’s because, according to Santander, its British operation is ring-fenced from its Spanish parent.

If you have money with another EU-based bank, the best bet is to check whether it is also fully covered by the FSCS, or whether a 'passport' operates that means you are protected by the home country’s financial safety net. Either way, there’s no need to panic provided you keep your savings balance with any one bank below the relevant compensation scheme limit.

• Many workers risk being thousands of pounds worse off in retirement because their contributions are automatically channelled into middle-of-the-road funds via a defined contribution scheme, says Teresa Hunter in The Sunday Times.

Research by broker Hargreaves Lansdowne suggests £10,000 invested 15 years ago in the Axa Framlington Managed Fund would be worth £8k (or about 40%) more now than if you’d selected the average fund. So check where your money is going and be prepared to switch funds to get a better return.

• Investors in film finance schemes face a nervous wait to see whether the tax office will try to claw back millions in tax breaks. Last month investors in the Eclipse 35 film scheme found out they are to lose an estimated £117m because the scheme was deemed by a tribunal to have been set up solely for the purpose of avoiding tax and not as a legitimate business.

• Do your best to minimise budget airline extras, warns Patrick Collinson in The Guardian. Overweight bags and extra luggage could result in a nasty shock to your wallet at check-in this summer.

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Talk about the land of confusion. The VIX is at eight-year lows, despite a slew of geopolitical concerns. Stocks are at record highs. Spanish debt yields less than Treasurys.
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Dan Morris is global investment strategist at TIAA-CREF, the asset management company with $569 billion in assets under management, sat down with Talking Numbers for an exclusive interview.

The Low VIX

"A very low reading on the VIX is kind of reflecting on the relatively benign environment for equities generally," Morris said. "We think it's too low, just if you look at the historical numbers. It's going to go up but not in a way that we see as really threatening at all."

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"Even if the VIX does go up [and] even if we do get some type of correction," added Morris, "the market has been a bit too smooth. If you look at the lo…