Finance news. My opinion.

September 19, 2014

Colombia Buoyed by U.S. Outperforming as China Sales Slow - Bloomberg

Filed under: legal, lenders — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 2:15 pm

Exports of flowers to the U.S. and fuels to India are buffering Colombia from a slowdown in Chinese growth that is hurting the Andean country

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September 17, 2014

Mayor Rob Ford diagnosed with cancer

Filed under: money, term — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 11:43 pm

Mayor Rob Ford has been diagnosed with cancer.

Dr. Zane Cohen, the renowned colorectal surgeon, made the announcement at a news conference at Mount Sinai Hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

Ford, who withdrew from the mayoral election on Friday, was hospitalized a week ago. He is now a council candidate in Ward 2 (Etobicoke North).

Ford, 45, said earlier in the week that he was vomiting and in pain. He suggested his condition was dire, telling the Toronto Sun, “I guess the good Lord wants me somewhere else.”

Doug Ford replaced his younger brother on the mayoral election ballot. He has not yet formally begun campaigning.

“It’s a tough day,” he said in brief remarks outside Mount Sinai earlier on Wednesday.

Doug Ford, brother Randy Ford, mother Diane Ford, and the mayor’s wife Renata Ford visited the mayor in the hospital ahead of the announcement.

“We have a lot of faith in the doctors and we have a lot of faith in God,” Renata Ford said.

Unless he takes a formal leave of absence, Rob Ford will remain in charge of the city until the new mayor is sworn in December 1. Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly is the city’s de facto leader, having been assigned most of the mayor’s powers in November.

The Fords’ father, former MPP Doug Ford Sr., died of colon cancer in 2006, three months after he was diagnosed.

“The most important thing, most important thing, is your health,” Rob Ford said in his speech at the wedding of assistant Jerry Agyemang in August. “Friends, you can have everything in the world. If you haven’t got your health you don’t have very much.”

A scheduled evening debate between mayoral candidates John Tory and Olivia Chow was cancelled in the early afternoon. Tory and Chow are both planning to respond to the Ford news on a street corner behind city hall after 5:30 p.m.

“I hope Mr. Ford doesn’t have cancer,” Chow, whose husband Jack Layton died of cancer in 2011, said earlier in the day. She said she had worn yellow, the colour of the anti-cancer daffodil symbol, in support.

“Today, our thoughts are with the mayor and with his family, and we will resume the campaign at an appropriate time in full,” said Tory. He said he was sending Ford “positive energy.”

After Ford dropped out of the mayoral race, he said he was “unable to commit to the heavy schedule required for a mayoral candidate” but was able to run for council.

“I could be facing a battle of my lifetime, and I want the people of Toronto to know that I intend to face this challenge head on, and win,” he said in his statement last week.

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September 9, 2014

Canadian Tire money turns digital in new loyalty program

Filed under: online, uk — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 8:55 pm

Retailer Canadian Tire is rolling out a new loyalty program next month, as a way for customers to earn rewards in addition to the much-loved Canadian Tire money.

It says the digital rewards program, accessible through a card or an app, will allow customers to collect and redeem Canadian Tire money without carrying bills.

The program will launch in Nova Scotia on Oct. 10, and in the rest of Canada on Oct. 28.

But paper Canadian Tire money will continue to remain in circulation, the retailer says.

Canadian Tire money was introduced in 1958 and was conceived by Muriel Billes, wife of Canadian Tire’s co-founder A free credit score.J. Billes.

The bills are available in denominations of 5

September 1, 2014

For sale: Century-old cards of Ty Cobb, Cy Young

Filed under: marketing, news — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 5:59 pm

BIDDEFORD, Maine (AP) — A baseball fan took up smoking a century ago and with it acquired another habit: holding onto little cards that bore the faces of baseball’s earliest greats.

Now, the trove of more than 1,400 tobacco cards featuring a slew of Hall of Famers like Cy Young and Ty Cobb — the legacy of a teenage smoker whose family hung onto a collection that dates to 1909 — is going up for auction.

The cards will be sold by a Maine auction house that is becoming known for selling rare memorabilia, Saco River Auction Co. in Biddeford.

Troy Thibodeau, the company’s manager and auctioneer, said the collection of cards dating from 1909 to 1911 — an era when the Yankees were the Highlanders, the Dodgers were the Superbas and the Braves were the Doves — belongs to the grandchildren of a Brooklyn, New York-born man who began smoking when he was 19.

“Every time he got a card, he threw it in a box,” Thibodeau said.

The collection has been dubbed the “Portland trove” because some of the collector’s descendants ended up in Maine’s largest city. The family doesn’t want to be identified, Thibodeau said.

Due to be auctioned individually and in small lots starting in January, the collection includes about 10 cards depicting Young and a dozen depicting Cobb, along with other Hall of Famers like Chief Bender, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson.

Smaller than modern baseball cards, these cards known as “T206″ cards to collectors feature color lithographs on the front and a tobacco advertisement on the back.

“They’re not like your normal baseball card where there’s a stock piece of photography that’s printed on millions and millions of cards. These are truly pieces of art. They’re colorful, they’re bright, they’re folky, they’re Americana,” Thibodeau said.

The collector preferred a cigarette brand from Havana called El Principe De Gales. But there are cards featuring logos from other cigarette brands of the era like American Beauty, Sweet Caporal, Sovereign and Piedmont.

Such a large collection is unusual but not unprecedented. Large collections come up for sale every year or two, collectors say. Part of what makes this one special is that the cards are in great shape.

Scott Hileman from New Jersey-based SportsCard Guaranty, who graded the cards, said they’re all among the type of cards used to market brands that were part of American Tobacco Co. for three years, from 1909 to 1911. He described the trove as “incredible.”

Missing are two of the rarest cards: Those depicting pitcher Eddie Plank and shortstop Honus Wagner. The priciest baseball card ever sold was a 1909 Honus Wagner, which went for $2.8 million.

Nonetheless, the collection is valuable with the potential for some of the single cards to reach into five figures, Thibodeau said.

Saco River is making a name for itself despite being a small auction house.

Last year, a collector from Massachusetts paid $92,000 for an 1865 baseball card depicting the Brooklyn Atlantics amateur baseball club. In 2012, the auction house sold a rare 1888 card of Hall of Famer Michael “King” Kelly for $72,000.

“If you love baseball, this is the beginning of it. This is where stars were made and heroes were born. It’s history,” Thibodeau said.

___

Online:

http://www.sacoriverauction.com/

Source

August 29, 2014

Contracts to buy U.S. homes rise in hopeful sign

Filed under: Uncategorized, news — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 12:27 pm

WASHINGTON • More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in July, a sign that buying has improved as mortgage rates have slipped, the number of listings has risen and the rate of price increases has slowed.

The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 3.3 percent to 105.9 last month. Still, the index remains 2.1 percent below its level a year ago.

The pressures that caused home sales to stall last year have started to ease. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has dropped to 4 short term personal loans.1 percent, a 52-week low. Prices are no longer rising at double-digit annual rates, thereby helping to improve affordability.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.

Source

August 27, 2014

SEC adopts rules requiring broader disclosure for loan-backed securities

Filed under: money, uk — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 9:27 pm

WASHINGTON • Financial firms that sell securities backed by loans, like the kind that fueled the 2008 financial crisis, will have to give investors details on borrowers’ credit record and income under action taken Wednesday by federal regulators.

The Securities and Exchange Commission adopted the rules for securities linked to mortgages and auto loans on a 5-0 vote.

The commissioners also imposed new conflict-of-interest rules on the agencies that rate the debt of companies, governments and issues of securities. That vote split 3-2 along party lines, with the two Republican commissioners opposing adoption of the rules.

Home mortgages bundled into securities and sold on Wall Street soured after the housing bubble burst in 2007, losing billions in value. The vast sales of risky securities ignited the crisis that plunged the economy into the deepest recession since the Great Depression and brought a taxpayer bailout of banks.

In requiring sellers of the securities to provide information on borrowers’ credit and income, the aim is to enable investors to better assess the risks of the loans underlying the securities.

“These reforms will make a real difference to investors and to our financial markets,” SEC Chair Mary Jo White said before the vote.

A recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed that U.S. auto loans jumped to the highest level in eight years this spring, fueled by a big increase in lending to risky borrowers. The Fed also said that loans to borrowers with weak credit, known as subprime loans, continue to make up a smaller proportion of total auto loans than before the recession.

Still, the rapid increase in subprime auto lending has raised concerns among federal regulators in recent months that it could set off a wave of defaults such as occurred in the mortgage market collapse. Because auto loans are packaged into securities, an increase in auto loan defaults could be amplified.

The new rules on so-called asset-backed securities and credit rating agencies were called for under the sweeping financial overhaul law enacted in 2010 in response to the financial meltdown. The rules take effect in 60 days.

A number of big banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, have been accused by the government of abuses in sales of mortgage securities in the years leading up to the crisis. Together, they have paid hundreds of millions in penalties to settle civil charges brought by the SEC, which accused them of deceiving investors about the quality of the securities they sold.

In recent months, the Justice Department and state regulators have reached multibillion-dollar civil settlements over mortgage securities with JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup.

The new rules require credit rating agencies to report to the SEC on their financial safeguards to ensure that their ratings are determined through a fair process. The agencies’ sales people will be barred from participating in the ratings process. And agencies will have to review and potentially revise their ratings in cases where an employee was later hired by a company he or she rated.

The rating agencies are key financial gatekeepers. Their ratings can affect a company’s ability to raise or borrow money and also can influence how much investors pay for securities. Critics say the agencies have a built-in conflict of interest because they are paid by the same companies they rate. The three big agencies — Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch — were widely criticized for giving low-risk ratings to the risky mortgage securities being sold ahead of the crisis, as they reaped lucrative fees. Investigations by a Senate panel and a congressionally appointed independent commission found that the three agencies contributed to the crisis by awarding high ratings to securities based on subprime mortgages.

The three big agencies together account for nearly 95 percent of the ratings market. Several other smaller rating agencies are officially recognized by the SEC.

A key problem is that companies choose which firms rate them and then pay for those ratings, critics say. It’s like having a pitcher choose the umpire for a baseball game, they contend, and it puts pressure on the agencies to award better ratings in order to secure repeat business.

Critics say a better solution would be to create a government board that randomly assigns agencies to rate companies. Congress debated that idea, but ultimately decided not to direct regulators to adopt such rules. Instead, lawmakers asked the SEC to study the idea.

Source

August 18, 2014

London Home Asking Prices Plunge Most in More Than Six Years - Bloomberg

Filed under: debt, loans — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 3:27 am

London home sellers cut asking prices by the most in more than six years this month, adding to signs that the property market in the U.K. capital is coming off the boil.

London values fell 5.9 percent from the previous month to an average 552,783 pounds ($922,300), the biggest drop since December 2007, property website Rightmove Plc said today. Nationally, prices declined 2.9 percent, a record for an August.

While property demand usually weakens during the summer, Rightmove said the slump this year was steeper than it expected. Tougher new mortgage rules introduced by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, as well as anticipation of higher interest rates, are putting pressure on the market after a surge in values raised concerns that a bubble may develop.

August 13, 2014

Singapore

Filed under: marketing, prices — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 7:03 am

Singapore

August 11, 2014

Mayors’ report tracks growing wage gap, but sees St. Louis as ‘balanced’

Filed under: finance, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 3:43 pm

The income gap between the rich Americans and middle and low-income households continues to widen, according to a new report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, released this morning.

From 1975 to 2012, the highest-earning 20 percent of households saw their share of income rise from 43.6 percent to 51 percent, the report finds. Most of this gains was seen among those in the highest 5 percent of income.

In 2012, low-income households saw their share drop to 3.2 percent while the high earners saw their share jump to 51 percent. 

The findings, which echo those by other groups, point to a need for public policy action, the report says.

The report looks at the distribution of income in metropolitan areas. St. Louis emerged as one of the most-balanced of large metros — with a nearly equal number of households earning less than $35,000 a year as households earning more than $75,000.

Median income in the St. Louis area was about $53,000 a year in 2013 — 96th in the nation. It’s projected to grow to $60,000 in 2017, an annual rate of 3.1 percent.

Other large metros with “a very equal distribution,” according to the report: Phoenix, Riverside, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Charlotte and Providence.

The Washington, D.C. area had the highest percentage of households earnings more than $75,000 (57.5 percent) and the lowest percentage of those making less than $35,000 (17 percent).

At the other end of the spectrum, Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas had the highest percentage of low-income households (55.1 percent) and the second-lowest percentage of those making more than $75,000 (16.5 percent)

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August 10, 2014

Pride Parade held on Ugandan beach after court nullifies anti-gay law

Filed under: business, prices — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 12:47 am

ENTEBBE, Uganda—Scores of Ugandan homosexuals marched through sprawling botanical gardens in the lakeside town of Entebbe on Saturday, their first pride parade since a Ugandan court invalidated a controversial anti-gay law.

Many marchers wore masks, signalling they did not want to be publicly identified in a country where homosexuals and their supporters face severe discrimination.

Although organizers had expected more than 500 people to attend the event, fewer than 200 turned up, said gay activist Moses Kimbugwe, who noted that many were afraid of possible violence following a court’s decision earlier this month to jettison an anti-gay law that had wide support among Ugandans.

“We are here to walk for those who can’t walk, who are afraid to walk,” said Kimbugwe. “We are here to celebrate our rights.”

Uganda’s constitutional court ruled last week that the anti-gay law enacted only five months ago was illegal because it was passed during a parliamentary session that lacked a quorum. Some lawmakers have pledged to try to reintroduce the same legislation when parliament emerges from a recess later this month. They said they would try to pass the same law in parliament since it had been invalidated on technical grounds and not its substance.

On Saturday, activists held up placards saying they would not give up the fight for gay rights in this conservative East African country of 36 million people payday loans. Some waved rainbow flags as they danced and frolicked on a sandy beach on the shores of Lake Victoria, about 40 kilometres from the capital, Kampala.

This was the third annual gay pride event, organizers said. The first one, in 2012, turned violent after local police tried to break it up, said Ugandan lesbian activist Jacqueline Kasha. This time they had been given assurances by the police that they could go ahead with the march, she said.

“We are a group of people who have suffered enough,” she said. “We are Ugandans who have the right to gather in a public place … and we are going to have fun.”

Some among the marchers said they had initially planned to hold the event in Kampala but were warned by police that such a move would be provocative and possibly dangerous.

Homosexuals face threats including evictions by landlords and many have fled to neighbouring countries such as Kenya, where the anti-gay sentiment is less pervasive, according to Ugandan rights activists. Many homosexuals are victims of extortionist campaigns by people who threaten to reveal their homosexuality to the police, said Kasha, the lesbian leader.

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