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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Google shuts down shopping service for China

Google shuts down shopping service for China:

Google has shut down its online shopping service in China, further slimming down its product portfolio for the country after it pulled the plug on its free music service back in September.

The Internet giant said it closed the site on Wednesday, and it no longer appears as a link on the company’s Google.cn website.

“Shopping in China was not providing businesses with the level of impact we had hoped, so we will be sunsetting it in order to focus on the products that do,” the company said in a statement. Google will instead devote more resources to its advertising services for apps and search, and connecting Chinese suppliers with overseas customers with tools including its Global Market Finder.

The company’s Internet presence in the country has steadily declined since 2010 when it shut down its China-based search engine after clashing with local authorities over online censorship. Since then, access to Google’s sites has been increasingly undermined and slowed by China’s Internet censors, which try and filter out sensitive or anti-government sites. Last month, all of Google sites were briefly blocked in the country.
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The posts and articles provided by our news desk our not always our own personal views.Tweet at #AceNewsServices and email us at News & Views Thank you, Ian [Editor]

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Gas Shortage Likely To Last For Several More Days

Even as power returns to parts of the region assailed by Hurricane Sandy, millions of drivers seeking gasoline appear likely to face at least several more days of persistent shortages.

Drivers in the New York area have been struggling to find gasoline ever since Hurricane Sandy slammed the area last week, causing power outages and port closures. The gasoline shortage has delayed relief efforts, deprived workers of pay, and caused frustration for many.

Gasoline is scarce mostly because of power outages. Electricity is necessary for refining gasoline and delivering it to drivers. Since utilities have begun restoring power and the New York harbor has partially reopened, the crisis is expected to abate in the next several days. Still, the scarcity of gasoline inconvenienced many on Saturday.

But the shortage delayed relief efforts as volunteers struggled to secure transportation for their supplies. Several hundred bags of food, toiletries, and clothes -- part of a local relief drive -- were stacked waist-high outside the Firehouse restaurant on Manhattan's Upper West Side on Saturday. The gasoline shortfall nearly stymied organizers' efforts to get the supplies to Staten Island and the Rockaways, where many victims still are without power or food.

The mayor's office had offered to send a truck, according to lawyer Michael Klein, who is organizing the relief effort, but it was severely delayed. "They [the victims] literally are cold, they have no food and they are gutting their houses simultaneously because the water was 5-feet high across the Rockaways," Klein told The Huffington Post. "Only the organized trucks and bus systems can get enough fuel to get these big loads in to help them."

Finally, Rich Cervini, a media executive from Upper Saddle River, N.J., managed to track down a rental truck with a gas tank three-quarters full -- about enough to make it to the Rockaways and back, according to his brother Dave Cervini. But he still had to leave behind hundreds of bags. A truck from the mayor's office arrived two hours later to pick up 400 more bags of supplies, according to Klein.

Several drivers waiting in a line that stretched for six blocks for the BP gas station on 36th Street and 10th Avenue in Manhattan Saturday afternoon said they typically have to go to four or five stations before they finally find one with gasoline -- then they still have to wait about two hours for it.

Some government officials are responding to the crisis. The Department of Defense is giving away 12 million gallons of gasoline at five mobile stations in New York City and Long Island, where first responders are prioritized and drivers have a 10-gallon limit.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) signed an executive order on Friday rationing gasoline in 12 New Jersey counties, where as of Saturday drivers could buy gas only every other day.

The gasoline shortage has caused financial distress for some cab drivers. The line to the BP gas station on Saturday afternoon consisted mostly of cabs. Several drivers said they have to use about three hours of their shift every day to find and wait for gasoline. They said that they have lost between $300 and $1,000 over the past week from rides they were not able to make, since they had no gasoline or were waiting in line.

"I'm hardly making my lease," said Shahid Bangash, a New York City taxi driver, as he filled his tank at the BP gas station. He said he was unable to work for five days after the storm and only started again on Saturday.

Reggie Ridley, a janitor from Harlem, said that this past week, he has woken up three hours earlier than usual -- around 5:30 a.m. -- to start looking for gasoline. Once, he was unable to find gasoline at all, so he had to park his car at a garage and take the subway to work. He needs his car to go to work and to take his wife and children to and from work and school, respectively.

"I've been very tired. No sleep," he said. "Every place I go, it's been a long line, four- to five-blocks deep."

The dearth of gasoline has worn thin the patience of some drivers. Two drivers battling for a place in line at a gas station in Greenlawn, N.Y., got out of their cars and wrestled on the street for five minutes before bystanders intervened, said Mauro Angeles, a graphic designer from Long Island, who visited 25 gas stations over the past few days and was able to buy gasoline only twice.

But some drivers have kept their frustration to a minimum. Kofi Nimako, a New York City taxi driver who has lost $400 to $500 over the past week to long waits for gasoline, said he is glad just to have survived the storm. "Some people lost their lives, and I'm still alive, so I'm happy," he said.


The posts and articles provided by our news desk are not always representative of our personal views of the story.Tweet at #AceNewsServices  or email to News & Views 

Thank you, Ian [Editor]

IRS Not Enforcing Rules On Separation Of Church And State

IRS Not Enforcing Rules On Separation Of Church And State:
NEW YORK (AP) — For the past three years, the Internal Revenue Service hasn't been investigating complaints of partisan political activity by churches, leaving religious groups who make direct or thinly veiled endorsements of political candidates unchallenged.
The IRS monitors religious and other nonprofits on everything from salaries to spending, and that oversight continues. However, Russell Renwicks, a manager in the IRS Mid-Atlantic region, recently said the agency had suspended audits of churches suspected of breaching federal restrictions on political activity. A 2009 federal court ruling required the IRS to clarify which high-ranking official could authorize audits over the tax code's political rules. The IRS has yet to do so.
Dean Patterson, an IRS spokesman in Washington, said Renwicks, who examines large tax-exempt groups, "misspoke." Patterson would not provide any specifics beyond saying that "the IRS continues to run a balanced program that follows up on potential noncompliance."
However, attorneys who specialize in tax law for religious groups, as well as advocacy groups who monitor the cases, say they know of no IRS inquiries in the past three years into claims of partisanship by houses of worship. IRS church audits are confidential, but usually become public as the targeted religious groups fight to maintain their nonprofit status.
"The impression created is that no one is minding the store," said Melissa Rogers, a legal scholar and director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University Divinity School in North Carolina. "When there's an impression the IRS is not enforcing the restriction — that seems to embolden some to cross the line."
The issue is closely watched by a cadre of attorneys and former IRS officials who specialize in tax-exempt law, along with watchdog groups on competing sides of the church-state debate.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which seeks strict limits on religious involvement in politics, and the Alliance Defending Freedom, which considers the regulations unconstitutional government intrusion, scour the political landscape for any potential cases. While Americans United gathers evidence it hopes will prompt an IRS investigation, the Alliance Defending Freedom jumps in to provide a defense. Neither group knows of any IRS contact with houses of worship over political activity since the 2009 federal ruling.
Nicholas Cafardi, a Duquesne University Law School professor and Roman Catholic canon lawyer who specializes in tax-exempt law, said he has heard of no IRS inquiries over churches and politics in the last three years. Neither has Marcus Owens, a Washington attorney who spent a decade as head of the IRS tax-exempt division and is now in private practice.
Owens, who was with the IRS through 2000, said the agency had once initiated between 20 and 30 inquiries each year concerning political activity by churches or pastors. He said he knows of only two recent cases the IRS pursued against houses of worship or pastors, and neither involved complaints over partisan activity.
"What the IRS is desperate to do is to avoid signaling to churches and pastors that there is no administrative oversight," Owens said. "The IRS has been vigilant with regard to civil fraud and criminal cases, but those aren't all that common."
The tax code allows a wide range of political activity by houses of worship, including speaking out on social issues and organizing congregants to vote. But churches cannot endorse a candidate or engage in partisan advocacy. The presidential election has seen a series of statements by clergy that critics say amount to political endorsements. Religious leaders say they are speaking about public policies, not candidates, and have every right to do so.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has recently taken out full-page ads in major newspapers, featuring a photo of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, urging Americans to vote along biblical principles. Graham met last month with Mitt Romney and pledged to do "all I can" to help the Republican presidential nominee.
In a survey last week by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 40 percent of black Protestants who attend worship services regularly said their clergy have discussed a specific candidate in church — and the candidate in every instance was President Barack Obama.
This Sunday, Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Ill., ordered all the priests in his diocese to read a statement urging Catholics to vote and stating that, "Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord."
In Texas, a pastor of a small independent church posted a sign on the front of the building that read, "Vote for the Mormon, not the Muslim." Romney is the first Mormon nominee for president by a major party. Opponents of Obama, who is Christian, have spread false rumors that he is Muslim.
Renwicks made his comments Oct. 18, at a Washington seminar on tax-exempt organizations presented by the American Law Institute-Continuing Legal Education. Responding to a moderator's question about the status of church audits, Renwicks said, "we're basically holding any potential church audits — they're basically in abeyance.
"I haven't done a church audit in quite some time," said Renwicks, according to a recording of the talk provided by the American Law Institute. "There were one or two — what I'd call somewhat, maybe potentially egregious cases — where I thought maybe, we need to go out there, but even those were put in abeyance until we get the signature issue resolved."
An IRS reorganization in 1998 put responsibility for authorizing the audits in the hands of lower-ranking IRS officials. A Minnesota pastor, who faced an audit over his 2007 endorsement from the pulpit of Rep. Michele Bachmann, argued the IRS was violating its own rules. In 2009, a federal judge agreed, prompting a formal IRS rule-making process that continues today.
Dean Zerbe, a former senior counsel to the Senate Finance Committee who specializes in tax fraud and abuse, said the audits are "an extremely hellish area for the IRS to deal with."
The agency has to balance enforcement with churches' First Amendment rights. Even when the federal agency finds an outright violation, the penalty for houses of worship is usually little more than a warning. The IRS has revoked nonprofit status in just a handful of these cases since the rules for religious groups were adopted in 1954.
Last month, more than 1,500 pastors, organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom, endorsed a candidate from the pulpit and then sent a record of their statement to the IRS, hoping their challenge would eventually end up in court. The Alliance has organized the event, called "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," since 2008. The IRS has never contacted a pastor involved in the protest.
"I think people are misled to think the IRS wakes up every morning wanting to knock on the door of a church or synagogue," said Zerbe. "Most senators blanch at the idea of having an IRS agent in the pews listening to what's going on from the pulpit. ... I think the IRS in some ways reflects that similar discomfort."

The posts and articles provided by our news desk are not always representative of our personal views of the story.Tweet at #AceNewsServices or email to News and Views

Thank you, Ian [Editor]

Youngest Ponzi Schemer Ever?

Youngest Ponzi Schemer Ever?:
He's a model/actor/world traveler who now finds another title affixed to his name -- alleged Ponzi schemer.
Beyond his pin-up good looks and dazzlingly white smile, former Florida Atlantic University student Donald R. French Jr. stands out from the never-ending parade of South Floridians accused of running investment frauds. Federal authorities say he was just 21 years old when he launched a $10 million "classic Ponzi scheme" he used to transform himself from a boy from Michigan into an international jet-setter.
Local attorneys who track investment fraud cases say they have never heard of anyone so young accused of convincing people to entrust him with millions of dollars. French formed a Boca Raton-based company in March 2008, promising returns of up to 50 percent a year with investments in foreign currencies, emeralds and even a solar-energy project in Italy, according to federal court records.
Using the money, he set up a home in Rome, traveled to 30 countries and was a high roller in Las Vegas, court documents show. His wild ride ended this summer when he was detained in South Africa and brought back to Las Vegas for passing bad checks at casinos. He's now in South Florida facing a wire fraud charge related to his company, D3 Capital Management.
His arraignment in West Palm Beach federal court had been scheduled for Friday, but it was postponed after his attorney wrote that French and federal authorities are "seeking to resolve this matter" -- an indication that they are talking about a plea deal.
Robert Jarvis, a Nova Southeastern University law school professor, said investors typically fall for financial frauds run by people who have an air of experience and that usually means a few gray hairs on top of the schemer's head. He said a young person trying to pull off a Ponzi scheme would have to overcome that hurdle.
"We know Ponzi schemers have to be very good actors," Jarvis said. "That's what they are at a base level...You have to give people a reason to invest with you. You have to get people to like you."
French clearly harbored dreams of making it as an actual actor, appearing in a 2007 Italian movie "Matrimonio alle Bahamas." He has his acting resume and head shots up on an Italian casting agency's website.
In addition, there's a lavishly filmed four-minute movie trailer on YouTube featuring French and a young boy as brothers. It's not entirely clear what the movie is about -- or even its name -- but there are underwater shots of French and the boy scuba diving with dolphins and elaborate aerial shots of them climbing a mountain, running over a suspension bridge and running on a pier.
There are no indications that the film was ever completed.
Fort Lauderdale attorney Jeffrey Sonn, who represents victims of securities and investment fraud, said that in his 27 years of tracking such cases, he can't remember an accused Ponzi schemer as young as French.
"Ponzis are very similar in that they usually include a charismatic promoter who has the appearance of great success," Sonn said. "People are naturally drawn to other people who appear very successful...The Ponzi scheme promoter normally will live very well -- fancy cars, fancy jewelry, fancy homes and going to the better restaurants."
Federal court documents indicate that once the money started flowing for French, he began driving high-end cars and racked up gambling debts of more than $565,000 in Las Vegas. He made $1.48 million in debit card purchases, while withdrawing $1.28 million in cash, according to court records.
French acknowledged to a FBI special agent in July that he only invested a small fraction of investors' money, using his "gift of gab" to manipulate people, court documents show.
While a 21-year-old taking on the role of successful financier may seem hard to believe, South Florida has proved to be fertile ground for fraudsters shedding their past lives.
Former bar bouncer Sean Healy pulled off a $16.7 million Ponzi scheme before it collapsed in 2009 and he was sent him to prison for 16 years. While Ronnie E. Bass Jr., who once managed a fast food restaurant, masterminded a $12 million Delray Beach-based scam targeting Haitian Americans. He was sentenced last year to 17 years behind bars.
South Florida is second only to the New York City area as far as the number of federal securities and investment fraud investigations and prosecutions. More than 100 people have been arrested in South Florida since December 2010 on such fraud charges.
"South Florida is certainly a good place to go to pick the pockets and pocketbooks of the wealthy," Jarvis said.
None of French's investors -- including one who entrusted him with almost $2 million -- have publicly come forward. No lawsuits have been filed against French locally.
But a consumer website, pissedconsumer.com, offers insight into how investors became increasingly frustrated with him. In August 2011, someone wrote French was ripping off people.
"[French has been] taking money from people (his own friends and family included) only to realize his plans would not work out and since 2008 he has been hiding in Rome, Italy, to avoid any federal consequences," the anonymous poster wrote. "If this man or any of his associates contact you about doing business RUN!'
The comment section that followed become a gathering site for former investors and acquaintances. Someone posting as "Victim101" wrote: "I will do everything in my power to hunt him down."
Others pleaded for French to contact his investors.
"If Donald would contact his investors and tell them what is going on, and where the fund and everyone's money stand, it will allow everyone to understand the situation much better...For a lot of us it's a lifetime of savings," wrote another commenter in January.
jburstein@tribune.com, 954-356-4491 or Twitter @jkburstein ___
(c)2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services

The posts and articles provided by our news desk our not always our own personal views.Tweet at  #AceNewsServices and email us at News & Views 

Thank you, Ian [Editor]

Monday, 15 October 2012

In-Store Credit Booms As Middle Classes Turn To Never-Never

 In-Store Credit Booms As Middle Classes Turn To The Never-Never Style Of Repaying Their Debts!
Old-fashioned hire purchase-style deals have become today's socially acceptable way to buy big-ticket items
Forget contactless payment and sending money by mobile; middle-class consumers are increasingly opting to buy everything from sofas to dishwashers through a very old-fashioned form of payment: in-store credit.

Latest figures from the Finance and Leasing Association show that store instalment credit – the modern version of hire purchase – rose by 25% in the second quarter of 2012 compared to the same period last year.

In contrast, the amount borrowed through credit cards and personal loans was up only 1%. It attributes the surge to the economic downturn.

Hire purchase – once popularly called the "never-never" – is the legal term for a contract in which the goods are hired to the buyer for a specified period during which they will have to pay weekly or monthly instalments. The goods remain the property of the lender until the HP agreement has been completed in full. Hire purchase is still used but most retailers have now replaced this with store instalment credit. The finance deals are provided to retailers by banks like Barclays and Santander and non-banking groups such as the Home Retail Group and these work in a similar way to hire purchase. The crucial difference is that, unlike with HP, the finance is not secured on the goods – so once you have bought them, you own them.
This sort of credit is heavily pushed by stores specialising in expensive items, such as sofas, which are bought infrequently. More than 2.6 million households now buy furniture this way and more than 660,000 use it to finance electrical goods. Ikano, which provides the deals for major furniture retailers DFS, Harveys and Ikea, also reports a rise.

Professor Josh Banfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, says there is a trend towards middle-class consumers buying more on a "buy now, pay later" basis: "It's seen as an acceptable way to pay: they even talk about it in the same way they boast about shopping in Aldi."

Louise Brittain, a council member of R3, the trade body for insolvency professionals, agrees there has been a shift in attitude towards HP and in-store credit. She says the change in outlook started with cars: professionals began taking out lease arrangements, which has filtered down to the uptake in in-store credit on household items.

"It used to be seen as the option for poorer people who couldn't afford to buy something outright," says Brittain. "But that's changing. Most people haven't got as much money, the best deals on credit cards and personal loans are harder to get, and in-store finance deals have become more competitive."

Furniture giant DFS recently launched two new upmarket ranges – House Beautiful and Country Living – named after the very middle-class lifestyle magazines. "One thing we discussed before launch was whether it was less likely that customers who were attracted to these aspirational ranges would buy on hire purchase," says Ian Filby, chief executive. "We've seen just as many customers who buy this range take up the finance as we do with our other ranges."

HP and in-store credit tends to have less stringent credit checks than cards and loans. Although retailers claim they only offer deals to those who can afford them, they are seen as less rigid and also last longer. While the longest interest-free deals on credit cards for purchases extend to 16 months, interest-free hire purchase can last for up to five years. Filby denies this causes more problems: "We have a very, very low default rate."

The easy application process encouraged mother-of-two Carolyn Neale, 35, and her husband, James, 36, a project manager, to buy two sofas last month for £950 using an in-store finance deal.
"We've chosen to pay over three years, at around £20 a month," says Neale, who lives in Chelmsford, Essex. "I'm at home with the children, so it's hard to get credit card deals and personal loans at the best rates. Applying for the store finance was a lot less hassle."

For others, it's the fact that there is often no incentive to pay upfront: shops frequently charge the same amount whether you are paying with cash, credit card or through in-store finance.
Business owner Alex Stevens, 42, has nearly finished paying off his £960 sofa on hire purchase. "My thoughts were 'Why not let the retailer take on the debt?'" he says. "A couple of years interest-free seemed a no-brainer, even though I could have paid in cash."

Stevens, who is single and lives in London, had 12 months payment free and now pays £80 a month: "It's effectively 24 months interest-free. It feels different to card debt. With cards, you're given a spending limit for buying lots of things. With HP, it's a fixed arrangement for one product and is easier to budget for."
However, Tim Moss, head of loans at comparison site Moneysupermarket.com points out that deals do have to be paid off within the interest-free period: "Otherwise, they jump sky-high and SVRs of 23.9% and over kick in."

The Consumer Credit Counselling Service, which says that the majority of people it advises on debt problems are middle-income home owners, often working in the professions, urges those considering using HP to be cautious. Research for The Observer by the charity reveals that the average hire purchase amount owed per client in the £20,000-£29,999 salary group is £5,270.

But those earning £30,000-plus net, take an average of £7,604 out in hire purchase. These figures include everything from car finance, to interest-free deals, to the lower end of the market – the pay-weekly store deals, operated by firms such as BrightHouse.

Una Farrell, for the CCCS, says: "Hire purchase deals can sound great, and for some people they work. But if you lose your job you could end up in a situation where an interest-free deal ends before you've made a single instalment."

The message, she says, is that it's best to save up. "Even if there's an emergency and your washing machine breaks down, don't panic-buy on HP. See if there's an alternative – can you get it repaired? Can you get one for free on a local website? Don't consider whether you 'need' 36 months interest-free; consider whether you need the item in the first place."

Courtesy of guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions 

The posts l provide are my views of good recipes and also are shared from a number of contacts, news and blogging services. They are not always tried and tested by me unless it states that l have cooked any myself,whereby it will be noted on the post accordingly. Please tweet at #AceDebtNews or email News & Views

Thank you, Ian [Editor]

Free Banking Is A Myth According To Which Report

Free Banking Is A Myth According To Which Report: as Consumer Group Demands Action Now!
As Consumer group demands banks be more transparent about charges as it warns credit and debit customers both lose out.

The consumer group Which? has warned that some bank customers are paying up to £900 a year in charges while others miss out on hundreds of pounds in lost interest.

The group said it had uncovered huge variations in the cost of "free" current accounts between banks which shattered the myth that Britons enjoy "free" banking. Charges for going overdrawn for two days a month without permission range from £120 on Halifax's reward current account to £900 a year on the Yorkshire/Clydesdale Bank current account plus.

Even customers with authorised overdrafts will rack up significant charges, with many banks – including RBS/Natwest and HSBC – charging an APR of 19.9%, higher than that charged by some credit card providers, Which? warned.

The findings come as banks suggest the way to avoid future industry scandals is to charge for current accounts, and a senior executive at the Financial Services Authority said regulatory intervention might be needed to instruct banks to charge for current accounts.

Earlier this month Sir David Walker, the newly appointed chairman of Barclays, indicated his support for the idea of paying for current accounts. Echoing the FSA Walker said that "in principle" he agreed customers should pay as it might prevent future mis-selling of financial products.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: "The suggestion that banks should increase charges to avoid more scandals defies logic and is a slap in the face for consumers who are being hit hard by one of the worst financial crises in recent times.

"It's a disgrace that the very people who bailed out the banks are being asked to pay more for the most basic accounts, while the industry continues to be rocked by scandals like PPI mis-selling, Libor rate-rigging and IT failures.

"Banks must be far more transparent about their fees and charges so people can clearly see what they already pay."

The research by Which? shows it is not just those in the red who are losing out. Consumers who stay in credit are also being hit through lost interest and hefty fees for withdrawing and spending cash abroad.
NatWest Select and Lloyds TSB Classic account customers who stay in credit with an average balance of £1,500, for example, lose out on £63 a year against what they would earn in a best-buy savings account.
Which? called on the banks to provide information so people can clearly see how much they pay for their accounts and are able to make easy comparisons between rival banks. It has called for the introduction of portable account numbers to make switching banks accounts as easy as changing mobile phone provider.
However, a spokesman for the British Bankers' Association said Which? was being "disingenuous" by equating the costs of certain specific services to the costs of a current account.

"Customers generally pay nothing for current accounts which allow them to access their cash 24/7 from free ATMs, online or by phone; pay bills and make payments by direct debit, standing order, electronic and telephone transfer; and to receive benefits, salaries and other payments," he said.

"The costs used by Which? in its press release are for borrowing money – a service for which everyone would expect to pay. Charges can be avoided completely simply by not going overdrawn, and most customers still enjoy free banking."

Courtesy of the guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

The posts l provide are my views of good recipes and also are shared from a number of contacts, news and blogging services. They are not always tried and tested by me unless it states that l have cooked any myself,whereby it will be noted on the post accordingly. Please tweet at #AceDebtNews or email News & Views

Thank you, Ian [Editor]

IMF Warning Over Acting Quickly Before It Is To Late

The International Monetary Fund has urged Eurozone leaders to act swiftly in response to the debt crisis in Greece and Spain, or risk dragging down the global economy with another financial crisis. The IMF warned that the situation was grave and could escalate into a wider downturn unless national leaders ended their disputes with a long-lasting deal.

This was a snippet that l pulled off one of my news desk reports and basically sums up the situation in the Eurozone at the present time,as the lender of last resort the European Central Bank {ECB} has been brought into the fray! Now remember l said lender of last resort and that was the reason why they were formed in the first place,as a so-called last chance saloon.

So as many of the leaders try to protect their countries wealth but at the same time have to adhere to the original agreement to help other countries when they get into trouble,they try to find the way!

In my opinion their is two really stark choices both that are not palatable to either the Germans and the richer countries or too the ones that now come to the table of last resort with their begging bowl and simply ask for some more! The problem facing the countries with plenty to spare is how much of a bigger helping do we give them and how will they repay what they are given. 

As we all know so well debt and more debt does not provide a stable economy long-term solution and the people of Greece and Spain need that reassurance! So my question's to the IMF and their leaders what happens when the cupboard is bare and you can no longer support these dying economies!

Do you cut them off without a penny and dismiss their debts as non-repayable?

Or maybe you print more under the QE idea of course that means devaluing the Euro?

Or maybe finally you admit defeat and disband what has become a cash-cow for the members and a burden for those that can no longer contribute or repay their indebtedness?

Over to you IMF!!!! 
The posts and articles provided by our news desk are not always representative of our personal views of the story. Tweet at #AceDebtNews or email to News & Views Thank you, Ian [Editor]

Monday, 24 September 2012

Why we need a eurozone parliament but what does it really mean!

The eurozone crisis can only be resolved by further integration, with a strong democratic dimension
The European Union is planning a major overhaul of its institutional structure and the way it is supposed to function in the future. The envisaged reform includes the further strengthening of the EU's diplomatic service, the creation of a pan-European foreign ministry and even plans to create a European army. While these foreign policy proposals seem like adding to the core reforms the eurozone crisis has made necessary, there are also new plans involved that could help the currency union become more sustainable in the future.
Chief among them is the introduction of a eurozone parliament, a parliamentary sub-chamber of MEPs coming from eurozone countries. This is an idea I have been putting forward in publications and talks since February this year and it is great to find it in actual reform proposals. Why do we need another parliament, you might ask? Let me make the case in a bit more detail. My idea rests on three pillars: the necessity to democratise the eurozone, ideas for an "English grand committee" and the need to create a "federal" budget to have potentially more means to balance asymmetric shocks. Let me explain these three elements in turn.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the eurozone crisis can only be resolved in a positive way by major further integration steps. Given the magnitude of these reforms and the political fallout from the failed crisis politics of the last few years, it should be equally obvious that such major new integration steps also represent the limit of the elitist integration process. Not only do the integration steps themselves need strong democratic approval but the new, even more powerful, governance structure must also have a much stronger permanent democratic dimension to it. And given that the key institutional reforms will be around the eurozone, it follows that a democratic institution for the currency union, whether you call it a eurozone parliament or a euro group in the European parliament does not matter, is urgently needed. Such an assembly would also mirror the euro group in the council of the European Union that already exists.
This argument leads to the question of how to meet this need. Do you need a completely new parliament, in which national parliamentarians are also involved? I do not think so and a look at the UK experience is very instructive in this context. The process of devolution in the UK has again raised the so-called West Lothian question. The West Lothian question basically addresses the issue of why Scottish MPs are allowed to vote on matters that only affect England, whereas the corresponding Scottish matters are dealt with in the Scottish parliament and are thus outside the influence of any English MP. One of the suggestions to resolve this issue was an English grand committee in Westminster, in which only English MPs vote on English laws. My version of a eurozone parliament was the application of this basic idea to the European context.
Once you have such a parliamentary assembly it can also assume functions that national parliaments perform. An obvious issue to address would be the much criticised fact that there are no significant fiscal transfers or automatic stabilisers on the eurozone level that could help to counteract asymmetric economic shocks. There will not be social security transfers or anything like this on the eurozone level but I nevertheless think it would be a good idea to have an additional eurozone budget democratically run by a eurozone parliament. Such a budget would be additional to the normal EU budget and could be financed through new taxes, for instance a eurozone-wide financial transaction tax. Such an additional annual budget could further politicise parliamentary discussions and make investments with the macroeconomic health of the whole eurozone in mind possible. It would also help to improve the general infrastructure in the eurozone and thus help to create growth.
For these reasons I think it is welcome that the idea of a eurozone parliament has made it into the political realm. Some of the proposed reform measures seem like a step too far at the moment and are not related to the most needy area for institutional reform: the eurozone. But I hope that the eurozone parliament has a realistic chance of actually seeing the light of day.
  • Europe
  • European Union
  • Euro
  • Economics
  • Eurozone crisis
  • Euro

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Ireland's economic growth falls flat as it fails to meet target!

Some economists are concerned the Irish are battling into headwinds that will ultimately defeat them
Irish politicians are masters of spin. From the aftermath of the credit crunch to the present day, every party except Sinn Féin has told the Irish people 'don't worry, things will turn out all right'.
The message from Dublin is relentless in its consistency and sophistication as it seeks to keep everyone from Cork to Sligo and Galway to Wicklow from losing hope in the Irish Tiger.
It doesn't matter, the Treasury says, how much money has been borrowed from Brussels and the International Monetary Fund. Never mind that every bank is bust, just ignore house price falls of 50% or more. We will recover our swagger. We are not Greece, Portugal or even Spain.
From one angle the latest GDP figures for the second quarter could be used to bolster this argument. The outcome was the same as the first quarter. This flatlining contrasts with falls in other parts of the eurozone. Exports are strong and the economy has borrowed money on the open private markets for the first time in three years.
But the report from the Central Statistics Office makes for difficult reading if you are finance minister Michael Noonan.
GDP was expected to be in positive territory but failed to meet the target after a 0.4% fall in consumer spending on the previous quarter. Spending is now 10.3% below the pre-recession peak and at a new post-crisis low, as Michael Saunders, chief UK economist at Citi, points out.
In addition, investment fell 29.4% over the same period after a 26.5% rise in the first quarter.
Noonan was jubilant when the Q1 investment figure was released. It will be interesting to see how he explains the subsequent fall.
The trouble is the figures are always volatile because, as an offshore tax haven and manufacturing base for international companies, investments can be distorted by purchases beyond what an island with a population of 5 million would normally buy. In this case, the Q1 figure was inflated by purchases of large aircraft by leasing companies sheltered in Dublin.
Stripping out the volatile quarterly figures leaves investment 66% below the pre-recession peak and at the lowest since the current set of GDP data began in 1997.
Kasia Zatorska at Lombard Street Research says low growth will push up an already high 110% debt to GDP ratio (UK = 62%)
Saunders, chief UK economist at Citi, is concerned the Irish are battling into headwinds that will ultimately defeat them. The extent of the debts they must repay and the damage to the economy are too great for any country, even a hopeful and vigorous nation like Ireland. With a debt write-off from Brussels, they'll never make it. Things will just get worse.
For Noonan, it's time to admit that Ireland and Greece, while very different, are economically closer than he would like to admit. That is probably why the prime minister, Enda Kenny, spent Friday with Spain's PM Mariano Rajoy and Mario Monti of Italy.
Saunders says that while this year's government deficit will be close to Noonan's 8.1% of GDP target, "over the longer term, Ireland's ability to return to a sustainable fiscal path requires both fiscal austerity and economic growth. The underperformance of the economy in Q1 and Q2 reinforces our worries that, even with strict adherence to its fiscal plans, Ireland's deficit and debt path will exceed official forecasts in coming years."
  • Economics
  • Ireland
  • Europe
  • Eurozone crisis

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Thank you, Ian [Editor]

IMF hints at more time for Greece to implement hardline austerity

Managing director Christine Lagarde says IMF 'prepared to be flexible' – saying both growth and austerity are necessary
The International Monetary Fund dropped the broadest of hints on Monday night that it would give Greece more time to implement its hardline cuts programme as it warned that Europe posed a "critical risk" to a weakening global economy.
Christine Lagarde, the Fund's managing director, said the Washington-based institution was "prepared to be flexible" and said both growth and austerity were needed to put an end to a crisis which will next month again force the IMF to cut its global growth forecasts.
The head of the IMF was speaking as financial markets responded nervously to Portugal's decision to dilute its deficit-reduction programme, the protracted talks over a new package of help for Greece, and mounting political pressure on the Spanish government over its package of cuts and tax increases.
Pedro Passos Coelho, Portugal's prime minister, said his government was abandoning plans to raise employee social security payments from 11% to 18% of their salary following widespread public protests. In Spain, Mariano Rajoy's government was facing one of its toughest weeks since it came to power last year as it sought approval for a new wave of reforms designed to pave the way for a European rescue.
Meanwhile, in Greece there was mounting suspicion among members of Antonis Samaras's government that the IMF has been deliberately blocking agreement on €11.9bn (£9.5bn) of spending cuts necessary for Greece to receive the next tranche of its bailout.
"Basically they want the measures to fail so that Greece is forced to ask for another haircut [on its debt] but we know that is not the view of the EU commission or Germany which is strongly against another debt restructuring at this time," said one Greek official in Athens.
Lagarde said that Europe's debt crisis and the projected sharp budget retrenchment in the US early next year posed critical risks, and said the Fund would show flexibility to countries in trouble.
"We continue to project a gradual recovery, but global growth will likely be a bit weaker than we had anticipated even in July, and our forecast has trended downward over the last 12 months", she said in a speech in Washington. The Fund had been expecting the global economy to grow by 3.5% this year and by 3.9% in 2013.
"A number of factors are weighing the global economy down. At the centre of them all is the element of uncertainty; uncertainty about whether policymakers can and will deliver on their promises."
The IMF managing director said the lasting scars from the crisis included youth unemployment in countries like Greece and Spain, high levels of public debt and a poorly functioning financial sector.
"Worryingly, the energy to implement the reforms that have been agreed –as well as the other reforms that we need – is waning. I am often asked, five years into the crisis, whether the financial sector is safer today than it was then. My answer? 'Despite real progress, not yet.'"
Lagarde said Europe remained the epicentre of the crisis, adding that programmes should be tailored to the needs of individual countries and backed by financial help.
"On the Fund's part, we are favourably considering that this be done in as timely and flexible a manner as possible: slowing the pace of fiscal adjustment where needed; focusing on measures rather than targets; and, above all, keeping the emphasis not just on austerity, but also on growth as we believe that the two can be reconciled and should not be mutually exclusive."
In Madrid, some 1,300 police were being drafted in to keep protesters away from the Congreso de los Diputados, the parliament building, as an "occupy parliament" movement called for a popular, indefinite blockade starting on Tuesday.
Metal fencing and several rings of security manned by police were being put in place to keep demonstrators away from the building, with authorities claiming a blockade would be a direct attack on Spanish democracy.
"We will not let parliament be surrounded or taken over," warned Cristina Cifuentes, the interior ministry's Madrid chief, who claimed extreme left-wing and right-wing groups were both involved.
It was unclear whether organisers, who define themselves on the internet as "democratic, anti-neoliberal, anti-capitalist and anti-patriarchal", would be able to mobilise a large number of demonstrators.
The protest coincides with the beginning of a debate in the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona which threatens to see it demand that Rajoy's government formally recognise a right to self-determination for the wealthy north-eastern region.
Rajoy's government will this week approve a new reform programme and next year's budget, opening the way for it to request a bailout from eurozone countries. That would allow the European Central Bank to intervene in bond markets and drive down the country's exorbitant borrowing costs.
Several of Spain's most important indignado protest groups have refused to back Tuesday's attempted peaceful blockade of the Congreso de los Diputados organised by the "On Your Feet!" group, which says it does not intend to stop deputies going to work.

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The posts l provide are my views and also are shared from a number of contacts, news and blogging services. They are not always tried and tested by me unless it states that l have cooked any myself,whereby it will be noted on the post accordingly. Please tweet at #AceEurozoneNews or email News & Views

Thank you, [Editor]

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

InfoCision Charity Scam: Report Finds Telemarketing Company Takes Largest Cut Of Donations

These companies are not charitable they disgraceful,but l never surprised at these types of tactics just to make a buck! Over the past 5 years l stopped giving to charity and now provide my services by getting people out of debt by charitable means! So that anyone donating money to my organisation will be told it is in a welfare fund and be asked which of one of seven causes do they want to support.Each one of these causes are for people living in and around my local community and all funds does not go to any registered charity, but to buy a wheelchair, or piece of equipment to help someone disabled!

The mot of our organisation is people before profit!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

9/11 Anniversary Promotions: Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort Hotel Offers Discounts On Rooms, Food

This is typical of the capitalistic attitude and lack of the ability for businesses to sell their products without resorting to shock tactics! This ability to use these types of events just to gain peoples attention,is fast becoming a way of life! My worry is that many people see it as a way to make profit out of peoples grief and not give thought or consideration for those that died on that fateful day!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

U.S. Poverty: Census Finds 46.2 Million Impoverished As Median Income Drops

The real problem is that everyone wanted more when things were good and this cost money! This money was so easy and so accessible we fell into a false sense of security and borrowed.We all do not want to admit it,but we all had too much and now it is time to pay back,what we all owe! For some this is virtually impossible for others they are trying, but we all have to do without!

Oh l know you will all see this comment and site the bankers, politicians and the like! But seriously do you really need that 3 holidays a year or even 2 its time for less not more!

Finally for those that have very little l am sorry for that and you deserve a little more, but not by borrowing but by a welfare state of providers! Instead we have a nation and a world of people hell-bent on looking after number one!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Youth Employment Turning the Corner in 2012

As young Americans all across the country head back to a new school year, I’m excited to say that many more will take with them lessons learned through summer jobs.
Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on youth employment. The numbers show that while there’s still work to be done, opportunities are growing for young people around the country.
It’s no secret that the effect s of the 2007 recession had a significant impact on the job prospects for youth, but today’s report showed positive signs that job prospects for young people picked up pace in 2012. Between April and July of each year, the youth labor force (16-24 year olds working or actively looking for a job) grows significantly, as large numbers of students take on summer work and new graduates enter the job market. So July traditionally marks the peak of youth employment during the year.
Today’s report showed that youth employment rose by 2.1 million between April and July 2012, with 19.5 million young people employed last month. That’s up from 18.6 million a year ago. The youth unemployment rate showed a significant decline, falling to 17.1% — a percentage point from last year and down two points from 2010. Meanwhile the share of young people employed in July 2012 climbed back up to 50.2% from its historic low last year.
Youth employment increased across a wide variety of industries including education and health services, manufacturing, transportation and utilities, but there remains much work to be done, especially within communities of color. While the labor force participation rate and employment-to-population ratios for African Americans and Latinos all showed significant improvement from 2011 to 2012, both African American (28.6%) and Latino (18.5%) youth continue to have a much higher unemployment rate than their white counterparts (14.9%).
Earlier this year the President and I both took a stand for the importance of summer employment, launching our Summer Jobs+ initiative. By teaming up with committed businesses, nonprofits and cities around the country, this effort provided more than 300,000 summer job opportunities for low-income and disadvantaged youth, including more than 100,000 paid positions.
Together we’re helping young people across the country realize that there’s no substitute for the real world experience of work and no replacement for the dignity that comes with earning your first paycheck.


Labor Day 2012: Honoring the Great American Worker

On the first Monday of September, we honor the workers who built the world’s strongest economy.  This Labor Day, as the U.S. Department of Labor approaches our centennial celebration, I take extra pride in the historic efforts of today’s workers to drive our recovery by learning new skills and adapting to new challenges.
For more than two centuries, the prospect of work has drawn people to our shores to pursue new opportunities and dreams of a better life. The demands on our workers have changed over the generations, but we’ve always risen to the occasion.

During the Industrial Age, factory workers saw their knowledge and paychecks grow as they mastered new processes to mass produce everything from automobiles to armaments. Following the Great Depression, more than 6 million women joined the workforce, clocking in at shipyards, lumber mills and foundries, and their production helped us win the Great War. And the Internet age carried the talents of our workers across the globe, as our ideas and products reached new markets and brought the world closer together.
As I mark my fourth Labor Day as the nation’s secretary of labor, I’m inspired by job seekers from all walks of life in this country going back to school and upgrading their skills to match the demands of a 21st century global economy.  I’m impressed by communities coming together and new partnerships being formed among employers, labor unions and community colleges. And I’m reminded that for this  federal agency and this administration, Labor Day has been, and will always be, every single day.
This Labor Day, we lift up American workers who are doing what it takes to reinvent themselves to ensure that our future is even brighter than our past.


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Payday loans firm still chasing my son, after I settled the bill

Extract courtesy of Mark King Guardian News

Pounds to Pocket is pursuing my son for outstanding payments but I have already paid off his debt
My student son got into trouble with a payday loan from a company called Pounds to Pocket (PTP). I offered to pay off the loan in full so he could pay me back the capital without accruing further punitive interest. He authorised me to have access to his account with them, which enabled me to make a payment by debit card on 6 July 2012 of £346.72, which left my account on 9 July. Pounds to Pocket says it has not received it and continues to pursue my son for payments. I have, as requested, provided a screengrab of my bank statement showing the payment and it says "management is investigating" but nothing happens. AR, Stockport

PTP offers loans of up to £2,000 for up to 12 months, at extremely high interest rates – a £1,000 loan incurs an APR of 277%. To put that in context, Sainsbury's Bank charges a typical APR of 14.8% on loans of £1,000-£4,999. Payday loans are one of the most expensive ways to borrow money and consumers should tread carefully when considering one.

PTP is owned by CashEuroNet UK, which also runs QuickQuid in the UK, operating out of Chicago in the US. I found its PR representative in the UK and can report that, following my intervention, your son suddenly received an email stating there was no further liability on the accounts. I'd urge your son to talk to you before approaching any other loan companies and especially payday loan firms.

Mark King

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Businesses resort to company voluntary agreements to stave off insolvency

Businesses resort to company voluntary agreements to stave off insolvency:
Number of CVAs, which allow businesses to renegotiate their debts, rose by 32% to 924 last year, says accountancy firm
Businesses are increasingly using a little-known procedure to stave off the threat of insolvency. The number of company voluntary agreements, which allow businesses to renegotiate their debts, increased by 32% in the last year to 924 from 699 in the previous year, according to the accountancy firm Wilkins Kennedy.
To enter a CVA a company's arrangement for repaying creditors must be approved by three-quarters of them and supervised by an insolvency practitioner. CVAs allow companies to continue trading and prevent creditors from taking action to recover debts until the agreement ends – either through completion or failure.
One of the reasons for the large rise is the collapse of Southern Cross Healthcare. To avoid bankruptcy, the care home provider entered into hundreds of CVAs with creditors and different parts of the group.
Other companies that have used CVAs include Fitness First, JJB Sports, Blacks Leisure and Focus DIY. Last week, the budget hotel chain Travelodge agreed one as part of a £635m debt restructuring deal and eight other hotel chains have entered CVAs in the past six months.
Landlords have complained that the process often leaves them out of pocket. After the Travelodge announcement, Liz Peace, the chief executive for the British Property Federation, said: "Once again landlords are being asked to play a significant part in rescuing a business, and a minority at that, who are being asked to take a 'hit' to keep a far bigger business afloat."
Inflexible rents have been blamed for the increase in CVAs by retailers and hotel operators. Anthony Cork, a partner at Wilkins Kennedy, has said: "Planning restrictions in the UK mean that rents are far more expensive here than compared with continental Europe and the US. That huge property overhead plays real havoc whenever there is a recession.
"Landlords do talk about being more flexible over rents but there is little substantial progress on that point. You get the impression that landlords will only renegotiate when they think their tenant is at the brink of bankruptcy."

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The posts l provide are my views of good recipes and also are shared from a number of contacts, news and blogging services. They are not always tried and tested by me unless it states that l have cooked any myself,whereby it will be noted on the post accordingly. Please tweet at #AceFoodNews or email News & Views Thank you, Chris [Chef]

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Dean Baker: Romney Pledges a Fed that Will Screw Workers

Last week Mitt Romney committed himself to picking a Federal Reserve Board chairman that will try to keep workers' wage down, likely costing them tens of thousands of dollars over the next decade. You remember reading the front page news stories on this pronouncement?
Of course you didn't read them, because the media largely ignored President Romney's statement about his choice of Fed chairs. And all of them ignored its implications for people's wages and living standards. The media would much rather focus on the ongoing debate over President Obama's birth certificate or, when we are lucky, tax policy decisions that might in the extreme case make $1,000-$2,000 a year in difference to the typical family. The much more important policy decisions that allow people like Mitt Romney to be incredibly wealthy and the rest of the country to be struggling are totally off the media's radar screen.
Romney's statement about the Fed fits in the latter category because he said that he would pick a chair who supports a "strong dollar." The implication is that he wants the Fed to run policies that keep the dollar over-valued relative to other currencies, making U.S. goods uncompetitive in international markets.


More on Unemployment

The posts and articles provided by our news desk are not always representative of our personal views of the story.Tweet at #AceBusinessNews or email to News & Views Thank you, Ian [Editor]

Monday, 27 August 2012

Introducing the YouTube US Election Hub

Introducing the YouTube US Election Hub:
Catch all of the live and on-demand moments of the 2012 US Election season at www.youtube.com The Elections Hub is your one-stop shop for convention speeches, debates and Election Night results plus partner coverage from ABC News, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Phil DeFranco, Univision, Al Jazeera, and Buzzfeed.
More in
News & Politics

" The Roving Giraffe News Report " provided by Ace News Services
Tweet at #AceElectionNews2012 or email your News & Views   

Cows Genetically Modified To Improve Flavour For Profit

Scientists in China have created genetically modified cattle designed to produce tastier beef.

Ed says this is one step too far, as many of our foods are getting evermore tainted by the phrase GM! This type of development is against God and against Nature and can and will only lead to disaster, in the making!
Witness a simple fact that we as yet do not know what the results of the long term affects on body, will have! Also we cannot and do not know how the eating such meat ,may change our DNA in such a way ,as to be irreversible! Then finally " Genetically Modified Animals" are artificial in its making and we were created to accept only natural foods and to only put " Profit before People " is ludicrous in the extreme! As the cost could be more than what we make and the results beyond our own extent of knowledge!

God Help Us!!!                

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Bills Seek To Help Students Avoid Too Much Debt - One Persons Story

When Steve MacIntyre connected with a recruiter at the Art Institutes about enrolling in online classes to work toward a bachelor's degree, he told them he had no money to pay for school and would probably need assistance with any paperwork thrown his way. He says the for-profit art college chain told him no problem and it could help.

"I allowed them to represent me for filling out financial paperwork, so they were able to take out loans and grants in my name," MacIntyre told The Huffington Post. It was a choice that the 40-year-old now calls "foolish."

With only a high school diploma, MacIntyre had struggled to find work for a few years. In the 2004-05 term, he began taking Art Institutes classes. By the time he completed an associate's degree in graphic design, he owed $60,000 in private and government loans. He tried to finish the work for a bachelor's degree, but wasn't able to obtain all the needed loans and had to drop out a few classes shy. He's now spent most of a decade unemployed or underemployed.

He receives frequent calls from Sallie Mae, asking for more than $800 a month in payments, MacIntyre said. But he can't pay. "I'm sure I'm going into default soon," he said on Thursday.

MacIntrye is angry. He said he feels like he was "thrown to the wolves." Had he known the financial hole he would fall into, he would have searched for a cheaper means to obtain more training. He's continuing to look for full-time work and "trying to stay positive, but it's difficult," he said.

Now, some lawmakers and officials in Washington are arguing for more disclosure about student loans to prevent individuals like McIntyre from getting in over their heads, an idea that consumer and student advocates have been pushing for the past several years.

Speaking at Loyola University in Chicago on Monday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, "Most students just sign. They have no idea what they're getting into. They lack life experience. This is not an arms-length transaction between two parties who each understand the terms."

Along with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Durbin has introduced the Know Before You Owe Act, which would require schools to counsel students before they take out a private loan and inform them if they have any untapped federal loan eligibility.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has put forward similar legislation, the Understanding the True Cost of College Act, which would require disclosure by higher education institutions and lenders that federal student loans offer generally more favorable terms and repayment options than private loans. It would also require the Education Department to detail interest rates, fees and expected monthly repayment amounts for federal loans. Franken's bill has attracted support from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and several other Democrats.

Student finance experts like Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, argue that such disclosures could help save students from taking on excessive financial burdens. Kantrowitz, who recently reviewed debt trends in a paper titled "Who Graduates With Six-Figure Student Loan Debt?," said students need to know what their repayments are going to look like.

"Colleges should tell students when they are borrowing excessively as compared with their peers and/or absolute standards concerning affordable debt," Kantrowitz wrote in his study's recommendations.

A recent report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Department of Education found that during the past 10 years, many students took out private loans before low-cost federal loans. In the 2007-08 academic year, half of all students with loans from private lenders had not tapped all the federal aid available to them. The CFPB found that 42 percent of undergraduates at for-profit colleges, like the Art Institutes, took out private student loans in 2008 -- a significantly higher proportion than those at public and private nonprofit colleges.

The CFPB report concluded that too many students were taking on more debt than they could likely repay, similar to what happened with the subprime mortgage crisis.

Jacki Muller, a spokesperson for the Art Institutes' parent company Education Management Corporation, said its schools already go beyond current disclosure requirements. For instance, Muller said, they encourage students to "exhaust all other federal and state provided methods of financing their education before applying for private loans."

"We agree that the student debt crisis in our nation must be addressed," Muller said. "Current laws and regulations permit students to borrow well past the cost of tuition and fees up to the maximum loan limits set by Congress, and while we cannot limit the amount of debt a student incurs, we make every effort to provide access to resources that encourage responsible borrowing, repayment of loans and avoiding excessive debt."

There have been a few first steps toward more comprehensive student loan disclosure.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 required better disclosure of fees on private loans. Earlier this year, the Obama administration launched the college cost "shopping sheet," meant to be a guide to the cost of attendance at and graduation rates for universities around the country. But colleges' provision of data for the shopping sheet is only voluntary at this point.

Moreover, a for-profit colleges trade group, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, is pushing back against the Education Department's latest attempts at securing better disclosures, particularly against the effort to make for-profit colleges reveal statistics indicating whether their students are taking on huge debts they likely cannot repay.

In the absence of new legislation anytime soon, Durbin hopes private lenders will begin to fully certify students' educational progress with their schools, as laid out in his bill, before issuing student loans. He sent letters to the Consumer Bankers Association, the Credit Union National Association, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions and the Education Finance Council in August.

The senator said in a statement, "The student loan debt bomb is no longer something we can ignore."

Are you struggling to pay for college? Trapped by student debt? Want to share your story? Send an email to tyler.kingkade@huffingtonpost.com.

Watch the video below for a HuffPost Live discussion on how students handle debt.

Tweet your opinion at #AceDebtNews or email your story at News & Views

Thank you, Ian [Editor]

Prison For Man Who Accidentally Became Rich

A New Zealand man dubbed the "accidental millionaire" or "runaway millionaire" after he fled to China with a small fortune deposited into his account because of a bank error, has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison.

Gas station owner Hui "Leo" Gao, pleaded guilty in a New Zealand court to seven charges that involved stealing $6.7 million and was sentenced to 4 years and 7 months in prison. His former girlfriend and accomplice, 32-year-old Kara Hurring, will serve nine months in home detention, reports the New Zealand Herald.

Gao, 31, was working 16-hour shifts just to keep the doors open at his BP gas station, when he applied for a $100,000 overdraft. Westpac bank mistakenly transferred $10 million ($8.2 million USD) after a clerk entered the decimal point in the wrong place, reports the Rotorua Daily Post.

"I'm f**king rich," Gao reportedly told Hurring at the time and later told the police he'd won the lottery. The Australian reports the couple told friends they were going on vacation, abandoned their car at Auckland Airport and skipped town.

According to the Herald, Gao siphoned close to $6.8 million from his business account to personal accounts in his name and in his parents', and transferred more than $347,000 to casino accounts in Macau before fleeing New Zealand. His then-girlfriend, who gave birth to their son while on the run, followed four days later and opened a "player's account'' at the casino with her passport. Later, another $2.2 million was funneled to the same casino, but this time under Gao's father's name, Alex Wang.

Gao was arrested in September when he tried to cross from mainland China to Hong Kong. According to the paper, he didn't oppose being extradited, and was returned to New Zealand in late December, while Hurring was arrested when she re-entered New Zealand last year.

The Herald reports that Gao plead guilty to theft charges in June, and at yesterday's sentencing, his lawyer, Ron Mansfield, told the court his client could not resist the temptation placed in front of him by human error.

"Your Honor, some say the greatest temptation was faced by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden but these are modern times for a man trying to keep the doors of his small business open, $10 million placed in his bank account was a very great temptation," he said.

Westpac Bank says it has recovered nearly $3 million, but another $3.7 million remains missing.

Need to email me leave a comment and use our new Disqus box and share.Or tweet your opinion at #AceNewsServices or email your story to News & Views  

Thank you, Ian Draper [Editor]

Sir Richard Branson Offers To Run West Coast Main Line For Free

Sir Richard Branson Offers To Run West Coast Main Line For Free:
Sir Richard Branson has offered to run the West Coast Main Line for free to allow parliament more time to examine their decision to award the franchise to rival FirstGroup.

The entrepreneur has claimed that his rival's bid will lead to FirstGroup's "almost certain bankruptcy" and made a last-ditch appeal to the government to delay signing the 13-year contract, expected to take place on Tuesday.

He said Virgin Trains and Stagecoach would operate the joint venture on a not-for-profit basis or donate profits to charity if the franchise needed to be extended beyond December to allow parliament to investigate the decision.

FirstGroup claims it will deliver better value for taxpayers. It plans major improvements to the InterCity West Coast franchise to enhance the customer experience, including improved wifi and catering, as well as additional services and more seats and reducing standard anytime fares by 15% on average.

richard branson

Richard Branson has offered to allow parliament more time to consider their decision and in the meantime he will run the train line on a not-for-profit basis

More than 100,000 members of the public have signed an online petition against the "outrageous" decision, in a campaign supported by double Olympic champion Mo Farah, Apprentice star Lord Sugar and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. The e-petition on the government's website states:

"The West Coast Mainline's current value is thanks to millions of pounds of investment and commitment from Virgin Trains - they're not perfect, none are - but they have delivered a reliable service for 15 years and turned the line around.

"FirstGroup consistently rate amongst the worst of the train operators in passenger satisfaction surveys - they should show improvements in their existing services before being able to bid on more.

"The government should look at more than the highest bidder - look what happened with G4S at London 2012.

"I urge the government to reconsider this decision or to seek public opinion in these franchise bids."

west coast

Branson thanks Ross McKillop, who started the petition, writing: "All of us at Virgin Trains are overwhelmed and thank you. Let us hope that sense prevails and your views are acted on quickly."

Sir Richard is also pressing for an independent audit of the Department for Transport's decision over the £10 billion deal.

His plea comes after Louise Ellman, the chairman of the House of Commons Transport Committee, wrote to Transport Secretary Justine Greening asking her to hold off signing the final contract, saying that "important issues" had been raised.

In an opinion piece for the Sunday Telegraph Sir Richard said: "It is far better for MPs to have the chance to debate the issues, and question ministers on the detail before the decision is finalised.

"To assist in this process, there should be an independent audit of the DfT decision to ensure it has been based on correct criteria and reliable forecasting of customer numbers, revenue and payments to Government.

"We must ensure that this crucial decision is taken with all the facts correctly assessed and understood."

Sir Richard accepted that he has a "vested interest" but added: "City analysts, politicians, media commentators and - most importantly - our many loyal customers have seized on this decision as outrageous, unjust and simply wrong."

Virgin has operated the West Coast line since 1997 and has more than doubled annual passenger numbers over 15 years.

A DfT spokesman indicated that the agreement was set to be signed on Tuesday despite Sir Richard's offer.

He said: "We note the offer that one of the bidders appears to have made via the press.

"However, the winning bidder was decided by a fair and established process and no reason has been advanced to convince DfT not to sign the agreement."

The positions and jobs offered on this blog are provided by us obtaining details from other news sources and we always suggest you check out all posts and companies for further details. We will of course advise when a position is available within our organisation with our associates. Need to email me leave a comment and use our new Disqus box and share. Or tweet your comment at #AceNewsServices or email your News & Views  

Thank you, Ian Draper [Editor]

Sunday, 26 August 2012

5 Scandalous Reasons Big Finance Is Trying Hard to Keep a Low Profile

5 Scandalous Reasons Big Finance Is Trying Hard to Keep a Low Profile:
Few news outlets are more sympathetic to the financial services industry than the Wall Street Journal. So it’s interesting when the paper reports from London that “antibanking sentiment here is still off the charts,” leaving the industry “gun shy about flaunting wealth.” That was also true at the Olympics, even though “The games are typically one of the biggest corporate schmoozefests on the calendar.” This is part of what the Journal calls “a wave of banker austerity,” with executives skipping the usual “hired black sedan” and champagne, and even resorting to putting up important clients in mere three- or four-star hotels. Overall, “The City of London’s high-rolling banking industry is rolling as low as possible,” in order to “avoid displays of wealth that will further inflame an already angry public.”
So why is the public so “inflamed” with “antibanking sentiment?” Recent events here and in the UK make it easy to see.
1. Fool me 30 Times, Shame on You
For Britons, at the top of the list stands the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal, in which the UK’s most prominent banks conspired to fix a baseline interest rate that's used to calculate rates on thousands of financial products like mortgages. The scandal continues to unfold, with giants Citigroup and Chase still awaiting charges, among others.
But as is common in episodes where major banks have committed large-scale fraud, in this case involving hundreds of billions of dollars in financial instruments, the most heavily implicated bank, Barclay’s, is not facing legal prosecution, merely a large fine. The New York Times Dealbook described the settlement as “a multimillion dollar financial penalty and modest admission of wrongdoing, but no criminal conviction to affect its operation.” Pretty gentle treatment for a firm whose traders, while working to manipulate the key rate, said in emails while executing the collusion: “Always happy to help;” “For you, anything;” “Done…for you big boy;” and from a more conscientious employee, “I will reluctantly, gradually, and artificially get my libors in line.”
Especially notable in this connection is the conspicuous absence of Bob Diamond, the disgraced ex-CEO of Barclay’s, from the London Games, since Diamond “had been a fixture for years at UK events” and “had been planning to attend several Olympic events as a guest…[but] after the furor surrounding his resignation, he is expected to stay away.” The banks are politically smart enough to keep their heads down when they look bad.
Of course, the LIBOR affair pales in its human impact when compared with other recent banking scandals, like the “robo-signing” scandal in the US. In that scam, thousands of homes, mortgaged during the housing bubbles, were foreclosed upon without the required legal standing or paperwork. The implicated banks, including the four US megabanks—Bank of America, Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo—settled the charges with the Justice Department and the states for $26 billion, an impressive figure. However, the settlement does little for the real human families evicted fraudulently, including three-quarters of a million evictees who were foreclosed upon from the finance crisis through the end of 2011, most of whom received a check for $2000 each.
2. Sanctions-Busters
In the fast-moving world of banking scandals, Standard Chartered of London impressively secured a spot for itself when it was accused by a New York regulator of laundering a quarter trillion dollars in Iranian money, in violation of US economic sanctions on the country. You don’t have to support the efforts of the US government to economically strangle Iran to appreciate the disregard for law in company emails cited in the criminal charge, including an executive confiding that the Iranian trading had “the potential to cause very serious or even catastrophic reputational damage to the group.” Standard Chartered settled the charges for $334 million, in hopes it can “avoid admitting wrongdoing.”
Indeed, this type of fraud is increasingly prevalent among the financial sector, with banking giant HSBC accused of laundering Mexican drug cartel money, along with cash from Saudi banks with terrorism ties. ING Bank recently spent millions settling a charge that it also bucked international sanctions to move Cuban and Iranian money. These above-the-law moves, while possibly helping the peoples of these countries against the suffocation of their economies by the US, no doubt add to the “inflamed” feelings of the general public.
3. One Nation Under fraud
The power of the financial sector is such that the SEC, whose job is to examine financial firms and prevent or punish fraud, has become notorious for avoiding punishing firms for lying, even when dealing with repeat offenders. While financial law allows serious penalties for fraud, including large fines and restrictions on business practices, the SEC allows “waivers” for these offenses and has granted them quite liberally to the largest US banks. Chase has settled six fraud cases since 2000, with settlements that run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, but has argued before the SEC that it has “a strong record of compliance with securities laws.” Notably, the SEC justifies settling these cases and issuing waivers by referring to promises from the firms not to violate the law in the future. Yet when the firms are taken back to court for their next act of fraud, their recidivism rarely brings a stiffer penalty, as any mere human would likely receive.
In fact, of these waivers issued by the regulator, nearly half go to repeat offenders, “Wall Street firms that had settled previous fraud charges by agreeing never again to violate the very laws that the SEC was now saying that they had broken.” This includes other industry giants like Bank of America and also Citigroup, which racked up so much fraud it finally did get sanctioned. The ability of the megabanks to weasel out of sanctions for widespread fraud are a third reason industry’s keen to stay below the radar.
4. High-Speed Glitches
Further undermining confidence in our financial cornerstones are the recurrent “glitches” in large computerized stock trading systems that have lead to horrifying market swings. May 2010 saw the stock exchange lose literally trillions of dollars of value in just several minutes, only to recover again within another 20 minutes. August of this year began with a similar out-of-control development on the market, as retail trading company Knight Capital Group had a “technology issue” with its brand-new automated stock-trading system. While it was supposed to react to trading by others, the computer system instead placed giant orders to the point that millions of erroneous trades were made, often at inflated prices, such that Knight ended up having to seek new equity partners to stay afloat.
Computer algorithm-based trading strategies like those used by Knight are another product of regulatory loosening over the last two decades, to the point that half of stock trading is now handled by such “high-speed” firms. To compensate for the increased instability such deregulation has brought about, the Securities and Exchange Commission maintains “circuit breakers” to cut off trading if the price of a particular stock behaves erratically. Unfortunately, these countermeasures are not activated until 15 minutes after the beginning of trading, whereas Knight’s algorithm began runaway trading immediately.
The upshot of course is to make finance in general and equity trading in particular more suspiciously viewed by the public. As the Times put it, the chaotic computer trading was “the latest black eye for the financial markets…drawing renewed attention to the fragility and instability of the nation’s stock markets.”
5. Fed by the Fed
Notably, the banks are increasingly dependent on government action for their profits. In recent years, the central bank of the EU and the US Federal Reserve have engaged in a somewhat desperate mode of economic stimulus, “quantitative easing,” where the Fed buys bonds from major banks in order to inject more cash into the banking system, with the goal of lowering interest rates and hopefully increasing economic growth. This bond buying has become a significant profit center for the banking majors, with bond-trading income exploding shortly after each round of (mostly ineffective) monetary “stimulus.” The business press notes that “Big trading banks are particularly well positioned to profit when central banks act aggressively. The firms help make markets in bonds and derivatives. When the banks’ clients see the Fed take bold steps, they feel encouraged and come off the sidelines to buy more bonds. This increases the amount of business that flows through Wall Street, but it also lifts the prices of the bonds that banks hold, creating profits for the traders.”
The ability of the banking industry to sustain its profitability and power despite scandal after scandal – and after crisis after technological disaster -- speaks to its unparalleled power in the modern economy. But beside the social power of the firms to dominate markets and shape perceptions with ad spending, and their obvious political muscle, the banks also make use of their power in a more everyday fashion, in maintaining relatively high retail interest rates in the US. The mortgage-handling banks are benefiting in historically large terms from the growing spread between the low rates they pay to investors they sell mortgages to, and the higher rates they charge the actual homeowner. The Times business section notes that “if the market were functioning properly, the recent drop in the bond rates should have led to a larger decline in mortgage rates for consumers than has actually occurred. Instead, the difference between the two rates is increasing.” One suggested reason: “Mortgage lenders may also be benefiting from less competition. The upheaval of the financial crisis of 2008 has led to the concentration of mortgage lending in the hands of a few big banks, primarily Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and US Bancorp.”
This long record suggests why the finance industry is trying to keep a low profile these days. With banks like these, who needs enemies?
Wed, 08/22/2012 - 11:59
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