Some annuities are too big of a gamble for insurers. Almost a year ago my accountant told me that I should purchase a variable annuity -- which is an insurance contract based on the ever-changing stock market -- from Prudential Financial. I would make a lump-sum payment to Prudential, which would pay me back with interest at a future time, usually at retirement. A key component of this variable annuity was its "highest day" feature. My money would grow at a rate of 5 percent of the highest day that the market closed during the time in which I owned the annuity, until I began to withdraw funds. Ultimately I decided not to purchase it. I figured that I'd have to pay Prudential a yearly fee to manage this money when I could manage it for free myself; variable annuities generally have too many bells and whistles, and since the market wasn't going to rise dramatically, I assumed that variable annuities had seen better days. But maybe I should have. Earlier this month Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced that the Fed would beat down unemployment and boost the economy by buying up $40 billion a month of mortgage debt for an unlimited period of time. Investors went on a… (continue reading......)