10/20/2014 (4:24 am)

European Banks See ECB Exams as Step to Unlocking Lending - Bloomberg

Filed under: money, online |

The European Central Bank

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10/16/2014 (2:20 pm)

Manufacturing Output Rebounds as U.S. Sustains Growth: Economy - Bloomberg

Filed under: Finance, Mortgage |

Production at American factories rebounded, claims for jobless benefits fell to a 14-year low and households held the most optimistic views in two years, signs the world

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10/11/2014 (7:32 pm)

Global finance leaders pledge bold efforts

Filed under: Mortgage, marketing |

WASHINGTON (AP) — World financial leaders on Saturday promised “bold and ambitious” action to boost a global recovery that has shown recent disturbing signs of weakness.

That pledge from the International Monetary Fund’s policy-setting committee comes after a week of stomach-churning swings in the financial markets triggered by growing fears that parts of Europe could be in danger of slipping into another recession.

The 188-nation IMF called increasing economic growth an “utmost priority” and pledged to make the necessary structural changes that would stimulate greater growth. However, finance leaders have made similar promises in the past, only to fall short when trying to follow through.

The commitments came in a closing statement from the IMF’s steering committee at the fall meeting of the IMF and World Bank.

Officials also endorsed the IMF’s efforts to support three West African countries battling the Ebola crisis.

Managing Director Christine Lagarde said at a news conference that the IMF has made $130 million available to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and that the IMF and other international agencies stood ready to do more.

“If more is needed, it will be there,” Lagarde said.

In addition to the $130 million in interest-free loans being provided by the IMF, the World Bank is providing $400 million for the Ebola efforts.

In its closing statement, the World Bank policy committee said that “swift and coordinated action and financial support are critical to contain” the Ebola crisis.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said that a Thursday meeting sponsored by the bank to highlight the funding needs was useful, but he stressed that the situation remained critical. “We call on all countries that are watching. If you have any sense that you want to help with this epidemic, do it now,” Kim told reporters at a closing news conference.

International relief agencies stressed that time was critical.

“The speed and amount of governments’ pledges will make the difference between Ebola containment or pandemic,” said Nicolas Mombrial, an official with Oxfam.

The IMF and World Bank meetings were preceded by talks among finance ministers and central bank presidents of the Group of 20 nations, which comprise 85 percent of the global economy. Those discussions focused on the recent growth slowdown and troubling signs that some countries in Europe could be close to another recession.

In a comment clearly aimed at Germany, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told finance ministers that European countries with “external surpluses and fiscal flexibility” needed to do more to address weakness in demand that was holding back growth.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, ran a large trade surplus last year.

Lew also called on China, now the world’s second-largest economy, and Japan, No. 3, to make the necessary policy adjustments to increase their own growth.

A string of weak reports on economic activity in Germany, the largest economy in Europe, jolted financial markets this past week.

U.S. stocks ended their worst week since May 2012, and the market turbulence served as a backdrop for the finance meetings.

While Germany came under pressure at the meetings to move to support greater government spending to boost growth, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble insisted in his remarks to the IMF that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government still believed the emphasis needed to remain on reducing deficits.

He said that this effort “will make the economy more robust and shock resistant and thus contribute to improved global financial stability,.”

Singapore Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is the chairman of the IMF policy committee, said that the finance officials had spent a great amount of time discussing the need to move more quickly to adopt structural reforms in such areas as entitlement spending, labor markets and taxes to boost growth and avert a prolonged period of weak growth.

“It will require some political courage and some degree of realism on the part of national legislatures, but it can be done,” he said.

The finance officials also stressed the importance of the Federal Reserve and other central banks to communicate clearly their intentions so that emerging market economies have time to prepare their own economies and avert the shocks that were felt last year when the Fed first announced that it was thinking of starting to reduce it monthly bond purchases.

Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer, delivering a speech at an IMF lecture series on Saturday, said, “We have done everything we can, within the limits of forecast uncertainty, to prepare market participants to what lies ahead.”

In response to an audience question about the timing of the Fed’s first interest rate hike, Fischer said, “If the world is growing much faster, it (interest rates) will lift off sooner and if the world is growing more slowly, then quite likely the lift-off will be later.”

The widespread view is that the Fed’s first increase in its benchmark short-term rate will occur around June of next year. This rate has been at a record low near zero since December 2008.

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10/07/2014 (2:52 am)

German train drivers kick off strike campaign

Filed under: management, term |

BERLIN (AP) — A union representing German train drivers has called members out on a nine-hour strike Tuesday night, starting a campaign of walkouts after members voted for strikes in a pay dispute.

The GDL union set the strike at national railway Deutsche Bahn for 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) Tuesday through 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) Wednesday.

GDL wants a 5 percent pay increase and shorter working hours for train drivers. It also is claiming the right to negotiate pay for other railway staff traditionally represented by a rival union.

Separately, a union representing Lufthansa pilots announced a walkout Wednesday and Thursday at the airline’s cargo unit. It already has hit the company’s passenger operations in a string of several-hour strikes over its demand that Lufthansa maintain transition payments for those wanting early retirement.

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09/25/2014 (2:16 pm)

US Bank refunding $48M to credit card customers

Filed under: Rates, Uncategorized |

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Bank is refunding about $48 million in the latest federal settlement by a major bank over improper billing for extra credit card products that customers didn’t receive.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced the agreement Thursday with U.S. Bank, the sixth-largest bank by assets. U.S. Bank was ordered to repay about 420,000 customers who signed up for credit monitoring products and were charged for services they didn’t receive. In addition, Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank is paying $9 million in penalties to the CFPB and the Treasury Department agency that oversees national banks online payday loans.

It was the latest in a string of enforcement actions against major banks over billing for credit card “add-ons.” Federal regulators have been examining the financial industry’s marketing of the products for several years.

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09/19/2014 (6:40 am)

New Zealand Votes With Key Leading After Snowden, Eminem Barrage - Bloomberg

Filed under: Rates, money |

New Zealanders vote in an election today with Prime Minister John Key leading in opinion polls after surviving a political scandal, Edward Snowden

09/15/2014 (8:36 pm)

Ottawa announces plan to address violence against aboriginal women

Filed under: Europe, legal |

OTTAWA—The federal government has released details of its plan to address the issue of violence against aboriginal women and girls.

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch, who is also minister for the status of women, says the plan consists of a range of measures to address the problem.

They include the development of more community safety plans both off and on reserves and projects to break intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse.

The plan also proposes projects to empower aboriginal women and girls to denounce and prevent violence.

The last budget earmarked $25 million over five years to address crimes against aboriginal woman and girls.

The government has steadfastly refused calls from the opposition and aboriginal groups for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

New Democrat MP Niki Ashton urged the government again on Monday to set up an inquiry.

“The government has a responsibility to help end the violence against indigenous women,” she said in the Commons installment payday loans.

Leitch said there have been 40 such studies already.

“Now is not the time for another study, another look by the lawyers,” she said. “Now is the time for action.”

Leitch said the newly released plan is evidence of the government’s commitment.

The largest single chunk of the $25 million is $8.6 million allocated for community safety plans.

The government says overall it has budgeted almost $200 million over five years to deal with violence against aboriginal women, including $158.7 million for shelters and family violence prevention activities, starting next year.

The government also plans to establish a DNA-based missing persons index and pledges better liaison between police and the families of victims.

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09/09/2014 (1:20 pm)

Draft study: More pilots test positive for drugs

Filed under: management, technology |

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tests of pilots killed in plane crashes over more than two decades show an increasing use of both legal and illegal drugs, including some that could impair flying, according to a draft study by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The study, a copy of which was provided by the safety board, examines toxicology reports for almost 6,700 pilots killed in crashes from 1990 to 2012. Not only did the share of pilots testing positive for a drug increase over that period, but the share of pilots who tested positive for multiple drugs increased as well. Pilots testing positive for at least one drug increased from 9.6 percent to 39 percent, while positive tests for two drugs rose from 2 percent to 20 percent and three drugs from zero to 8.3 percent.

Over the same period, new drugs were coming into use and the U.S. population was aging, creating greater demand for drugs. The toxicology tests “reflect tends in the general population and likely indicate a significant increase in drug use” by pilots as well, the study said.

However, the share of accidents the board has investigated in which impairment from a drug was found to be a factor hasn’t increased appreciably, the report said. Since 1990, the NTSB has cited pilot impairment due to drugs as a cause or a contributing factor in about 3 percent of fatal civil aviation accidents bad credit unsecured personal loans.

More than 9 out of 10 of the pilots tested were private rather than commercial pilots, and 98 percent were male. The average age of pilots killed also increased markedly, from 46 years old in 1990 to 57 in 2012. The average age of pilots killed was 5 to 15 years older than the general population of active pilots.

The tests also revealed increased pilot use of all kinds of drugs, including drugs that could impair a pilot’s functioning as well as drugs used to treat potentially impairing conditions such as seizure disorders and psychiatric illness.

The most common drug found in the tests was an antihistamine that causes drowsiness and is a key ingredient in many over-the-counter allergy, cold and sleep medications. Sedating antihistamines in general were found in 9.9 percent of pilots tested during the last five years studied, up from 2.1 percent of the cases during the early years examined.

The share of pilots testing positive for illegal drugs was small, but increased from 2.3 percent to 3.8 percent. The study attributed the increase mostly to greater marijuana use in the last 10 years.

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09/07/2014 (10:04 pm)

Iowa landowners want details of proposed pipeline route

Filed under: Mortgage, economics |

SIOUX CITY, Iowa • Iowa landowners want to see the details of a proposed oil pipeline that would carry crude oil from North Dakota across the state to Illinois.

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners has said the 1,100-mile pipeline would likely go through 17 Iowa counties as it crosses from the northwest corner of the state to the southeast corner. The oil’s final destination would be in Patoka, Ill., about 70 miles east of St. Louis.

Environmentalists oppose the project because they worry about the potential for contamination if there were a pipeline spill. Federal records show that Iowa has avoided significant disasters with pipelines but there have 100 pipeline spills since 2004 that caused nearly $20 million in property damage.

“We are against a pipeline going through our state. Iowa won’t benefit from it, and we will take all of the risks environmentally,” Neila Seaman, director of the Sierra Club in Iowa, told The Des Moines Register.

Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman Vicki Granado said the proposed pipeline would meet or exceed all state and federal safety standards.

All of the pipeline crossing Iowa would be buried at least 36 inches deep, and in farmland it will be at least 48 inches deep. River and road crossings will be even deeper.

“We are very experienced and very proud of the safety record that we have,” Granado said.

The company will hold public meetings about the project across Iowa in December. Those hearings will be the first step in obtaining a state permit.

“The route is not final at this time as we are still performing civil surveys and executing environmental studies along the proposed pathway of the pipeline,” she said.

Energy Transfer Partners hopes to have the $3.7 billion pipeline in service by late 2016. It would initially transport up to 320,000 barrels of crude per day with the potential to transport as much as 570,000 barrels.

Landowner Don Kreber agreed to let the company survey some of his farmland in O’Brien County, but he told the Sioux City Journal he still hasn’t learned many details — even after meeting with a company representative.

“They really aren’t specific. They guy who came here with the papers didn’t have a map,” said Kreber, who would be open to allowing the pipeline on his land if the compensation is fair.

But farmer Darrell Vande Vegte said he wouldn’t want the pipeline crossing the land he farms near Rock Valley and Doon because of the impact on crops. He said he already has a natural gas line under one of his farms, so production gets disrupted every time repairs are needed.

“It takes several years to get the land leveled properly and fertilized” until it returns to full production, he told the Sioux City Journal.

The Iowa Farm Bureau hasn’t taken a position on the pipeline, but said it wants to hear more details and is urging landowners to closely study any contract they sign.

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09/04/2014 (4:16 pm)

Judge: BP’s reckless conduct caused Gulf oil spill

Filed under: Lenders, Loans |

BATON ROUGE, La. • A federal judge has ruled that BP’s reckless conduct resulted in the nation’s worst offshore oil spill, leaving the company open to billions of dollars in penalties.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s ruling Thursday could nearly quadruple the amount of civil penalties for polluting the Gulf of Mexico with oil from BP’s Macondo well in 2010.

Barbier presided over a trial in 2013 to apportion blame for the spill that spewed oil from April 20 to mid-July 2010. Eleven men died when the well blew wild; BP already has agreed to billions of dollars in criminal fines payday advance lender.

Barbier says BP bears 67 percent of the blame for the spill. He says drilling rig owner Transocean Ltd. takes 30 percent of the blame, and cement contractor Halliburton Energy Service takes 3 percent.

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