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Hong Kong billionaires in hot water

October 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Big News Network.com Saturday 13th October, 2012


In Hong Kong, the billionaire Kwok brothers have been given an adjournment in their high profile corruption trial.

The tycoons, Thomas and Raymond Kwok, were arrested in march by the Independent Commission Against Corruption which had been given the go-ahead to deal with widespread corruption.

The adjournment came when the prosecution called for more time to gather evidence.

The Kwok’s run Sun Hung Kai Properties which is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange. It is the world’s second-largest property developer by stock-market value.

The brothers are charged with a total of eight offences including conspiracy to offer advantages to a public servant.

A top government official, Rafael Hui, has also been charged along with two other people, Thomas Chan, an executive in charge of land acquisition at Sun Hung Kai, and Francis Kwan, a former banker.

It has been alleged payments and unsecured loans totalling around US$5 million were made.

 

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Battling Job Barriers with a Tube of Lipstick

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Released: 8/18/2011 8:00 PM EDT
Source: University of Cincinnati

Newswise — Generations of American women have turned to door-to-door sales when a male-dominated workforce and lack of education prevented them from entering the workforce. They were known as the Tupperware Lady or the Avon Lady as they showed off their newest products to the “Lady of the House.”

New research out of the University of Cincinnati finds it’s a strategy that is now bringing success to some women in third world countries facing discrimination in the formal job market. Erynn Masi de Casanova, a UC assistant professor of sociology, will present her research on Aug. 21 at the 106th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas.

Casanova’s research into women turning to direct sales in urban Ecuador resulted in her first book, “Making Up the Difference: Women, Beauty and Direct Selling in Ecuador,” which was published by the University of Texas Press in June. Her field work included face-to-face interviews with 40 women that she conducted between 2007 and 2008, as well as general contacts with more than 100 women in urban Ecuador.

She explains that gender discrimination was not really a big complaint among the women because the labor market is so segregated by gender. “However, they said they felt that if they were over the age of 25, or if they were considered unattractive or had darker skin, they felt those factors kept them out of the formal labor market,” says Casanova.

For women who had earned a college degree, professional jobs were hard to get once they became mothers, due to the time demands. All of them were looking for an alternative to the low-paying, exploitative jobs like cleaning houses or watching children, says Casanova.

Not working was not an option, says Casanova, who adds that some of the women held other side jobs in addition to direct selling, such as running a little restaurant or store in their home. The women are also the primary caretaker of the home and family.

In addition to adjustable hours outside the 9 to 5 workday, direct selling was also appealing because of the demand for the product, even in a developing country dominated by low-income families. “Everybody wants to look good. Everybody wants to smell good. Everybody wants to have nice skin. Those are demands that cut across all income levels,” says Casanova. Plus, clients could pay for their products in installments, which was ideal for customers who could not afford to pay full price at a department store cosmetics counter.

“In a time of heightened unemployment in both rich and poor countries, and the expansion of informal work such as direct selling, the work strategies and experiences of these Ecuadorian women offer valuable insight into the challenges faced by women who want and need to work,” says Casanova.

“I was also surprised that men took a very active role in direct selling, either alongside their wife or a female relative, or on their own. They saw opportunities in direct selling as well, either to purchase a product that they could not otherwise afford or to make a little extra money,” says Casanova.

Casanova’s book received the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Sarah A. Whaley Award for the book’s examination of women and labor. In addition to her appointment in the UC Department of Sociology, she is a faculty affiliate of the UC Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

Categories: Business/Markets

Pick Your Poison

June 7, 2011 4 comments

Joel S. Hirschhorn

One of the hardest truths to accept is that for most sources of pain hitting humans there seems to be nothing effective for government to do. Nowadays, those of us who do not gobble various distractions but work to stay connected to reality see two dreadful conditions. Nature seems mad as hell. People are dying or suffering from earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, extreme heat, huge snow storms and more. While some idiots keep trying to deny the reality of global climate change, those of us who have lived a long time see firsthand that killer weather events are more prevalent than ever.

While you may be fighting your paranoia about being victimized by foul weather the other ugly reality already devastating the lives of so many people is a dismal set of economic conditions. Contrary to all the usual lies by politicians about the economic recovery, a mountain of data shows non-delusional people that only the wealthy have escaped economic pain.

According to a recent Pew Charitable Trusts poll, 55 percent of Americans still rate the national economy as poor, and just 47 percent believe their kids will have a higher standard of living than they enjoy. If more people paid closer attention to the facts, those percentages should be more like 80 or 90 percent.

The US has recovered just 1.8 million of the nearly 9 million jobs lost in the downturn versus an average 5.3 million job gains in the same period of the 1970s and 1980s recoveries. The number of people with jobs has barely changed since June 2009 — up just 0.4 percent. Many economists say the turnaround shows no signs of generating the 300,000 to 400,000 monthly payroll additions needed to rapidly lower the unemployment rate. There are probably about 50 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or no longer trying to get decent jobs, or who are close relatives of them. The rise of the official unemployment rate in May, 2011 (the real level is twice as high) and a paltry new number of jobs just rubbed salt in the wound. There simply is no basis for believing that many millions of new, good jobs will be created for many years.

Add the latest news that the housing market has turned even worse again, leading to the distressful conclusion that a double-dip recession has hit housing, which portends even wider economic pain. Single family home prices dropped in March, 2011 to their lowest level since April 2009. Millions of home foreclosures will be followed by even more. Of all homes with mortgages 23 percent are worth less than what is owed.

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How China should rule the world

March 23, 2011 4 comments

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9ba6d850-54c2-11e0-b1ed-00144feab49a.html#axzz1HNvmWUOA
FT: How China should rule the world
China surely recognises that the accumulation of huge official claims on “safe” foreign liabilities must be matched by a corresponding supply. Unfortunately, the demand is now met via destabilising fiscal and external deficits in the US. China could help itself by accelerating liberalisation of capital outflows and increasing exchange rate flexibility.

Furthermore, China needs to develop a strategy for reform of the global monetary system that fits with its interests in managing the interface between its domestic development and global stability. One desirable move would be towards co-ordination of exchange rate management with other export-oriented emerging economies. It is also in China’s interests to secure a pragmatic accommodation with its partners in the discussions within the Group of 20 leading economies. This should focus on indicators of disequilibrium, methods of adjustment and liquidity provision for countries in difficulties.

As for finance, China’s objectives must be: first, to create a domestic system capable of supporting its own economic development; second, to help promote a global system that supports a tolerably stable world economy; and, third, to protect the former from the excesses of the latter. In achieving this difficult reconciliation China’s policies should be guided by the understanding that, in the long run, its financial system will be the hub of global finance. Yet the transition to full integration will be not only lengthy but also complex and fraught, with full integration of banking particularly dangerous.

Finally, let us look at access to resources. For the first time in its long history, China is dependent on access to imports of industrial raw materials. It is already the world’s largest importer of most raw materials. For China, policy in this area is of potentially the highest importance. Its immediate interest is to gain access to the world’s resources on favourable terms. It has decided, quite reasonably, to use its cheap capital and labour to secure this end. That is not only in China’s own interests but in those of other consumers. Since resources have global prices, any increase in supply is to the benefit of all consumers.

Nevertheless, it would be helpful if a consensus could be reached on the terms of investment and trade in natural resources. One aim should be to ensure that commodity-exporting countries – particularly poor ones, with limited capacity for governance – benefit from foreign investment and exports of natural resources. China will be a central player in securing such agreements. Above all, the world needs to agree that the underlying principle must remain those of free trade in open world markets. Prices need to be set in global competition, with, of course, the possibility of long-term contracts.

As China grows, its impact on the world expands exponentially. It must reconcile the imperatives of its rapid development with the need to take full account of its impact on the world. It will have to develop its own agenda, one that secures its linked objectives of rapid development at home and stability abroad. It will not be easy. China has no alternative.

submitted by dan fey

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Categories: Business/Markets, World

Days of inflationary rage come to the US

March 21, 2011 4 comments

Days Of (Inflationary) Rage Are Here: Man Goes On Shooting Rampage After Learning Taco Bell Hikes Prices On Beefy Crunch Burrito By 50%

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/man-goes-shooting-rampage-after-learning-taco-bell-hikes-prices-beefy-crunch-burrito-50

Days of inflationary rage come to the US:

Police say a San Antonio Taco Bell customer enraged that the seven burritos he ordered had gone up in price fired an air gun at an employee and later fired an assault rifle at officers before barricading himself into a hotel room.

San Antonio police Sgt. Chris Benavides says officers used tear gas Sunday night to force the man from the hotel room after a three-hour standoff. The man is charged with three counts of attempted capital murder. Authorities have not released his name.

Brian Tillerson, a manager at the Taco Bell/KFC restaurant, told the San Antonio Express-News that the man was angry the Beefy Crunch Burrito had gone from 99 cents to $1.49 each.

Police say the man fired on officers during a traffic stop after the restaurant incident.

This is the first example of a domestic shooting incident following the surge in food prices courtesy of just QE Lite and QE 2. Just like in Tunisia, following the self-immolation of a fruit vendor, it will not be the last. And when we finally get QE3, then all bets will be off.

 

Categories: Business/Markets, US News

If Market Keeps Falling, Fed Will Keep Printing: ‘Dr. Doom’


Published: Tuesday, 15 Mar 2011 | 8:15 AM ET
By: Jeff Cox
CNBC.com Staff Writer

Falling stock prices will be met only with more money injections from the Federal Reserve, Marc Faber, the so-called “Dr. Doom,” told CNBC.

Dr. Marc Faber
Axel Griesch | ASFM | Getty Images
Marc Faber

Speaking as global markets fell violently lower in the wake of the Japan earthquake and fears of a nuclear meltdown, Faber said a stock correction actually is healthy in view of how far equities have come from the March 2009 lows.

He also expects weakness to persist and the Standard & Poor’s 500 to drop as much as 15 percent. Further, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will likely give the green light to another round of Treasurys purchases, which have come to be known as quantitative easing, he said.

“We may drop 10 to 15 percent. Then QE 2 will come, (then) QE 4, QE 5, QE 6, QE 7—whatever you want. The money printer will continue to print, that I’m sure,” said the author of the Gloom, Boom and Doom Report. Later in the interview, he added, “Actually I made a mistake. I meant to say QE 18.”

As for the situation with Japan specifically, he said the end result of rebuilding after the quake would be inflation and a positive for stocks, while Japanese Government Bonds, or JGBs as they are often called, would suffer.

“This huge selloff is an investment opportunity in Japanese equities, but if a meltdown occurs then all bets are off,” he said.

The Nikkei Japanese stock market index has plunged more than 12 percent this week, its worst two-day drop in more than 20 years.

US equities have shown far less reaction but were poised to drop more than 2 percent at the open Tuesday. Faber, though, said the central bank would spring into action should the selling get out of hand.

“I think Mr. Bernanke doesn’t know much about the global economy but he probably watches the S&P every day,” he said.

“Until very recently the Feds have had very few critiques, very few people criticized the Fed’s policies under Mr. Greenspan and Mr. Bernanke,” Faber added. “Over the last few months, a lot of critical comments have come up about the Fed and its money-printing habit. The S&P drops 20 percent (and) all the critics will be silent and they will all applaud new money-printing.”BACK to margotbworldnews.com

Categories: Business/Markets, US News

In The Future You May Not Be Able To Provide The Basics For Your Family Even If Everyone In Your Family Has A Job

January 7, 2011 1 comment

http://www.blacklistednews.com/index.php?news_id=12204

Today, millions of American families are extremely stressed out because they are working as hard as they can and yet they find at the end of the month they still haven’t been able to pay all of the bills.  Unfortunately, things are only going to get rougher in the years ahead.  The U.S. government has reached a terminal phase of the debt spiral that it is trapped in, and the only way to keep the system going is to print more money, borrow more money and spend more money.  But won’t this cause horrible inflation eventually?  Of course it will.  That is why so many people around the world have so loudly denounced “quantitative easing 2″.  The Federal Reserve is just creating hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air and is chucking all of this money into the system in a desperate attempt to get it moving again.  This is also why the Tea Party movement is so angry about the record amounts of government debt that are being piled up.  When the U.S. government goes into more debt, it creates more dollars.  As the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government flood the system with new dollars, it means that there are now more dollars chasing roughly the same number of goods and services, and that is a recipe for inflation.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you want to look at it), most of this new money is trapped in the financial markets right now.  The first people that get their hands on all of this new money are banks, financial institutions and the folks down on Wall Street and right now they are hoarding much of it and much of it is going to pump up the stock market.

That is one reason why we saw such a tremendous bubble in commodities in 2010.  It is also a key reason why we have seen such a stock market “recovery”.

But eventually all of this new money is going to get into the hands of average U.S. consumers and it is going to start pushing the price of everything up.

Ronald Reagan once said that inflation is “as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber, and as deadly as a hit man.”  Ron Paul has called inflation a “hidden tax” on all of us, and that is exactly what it is.  All of the paper money that we are storing in the banks is losing a little bit of value every single day.  Over long periods of time, this loss of value becomes absolutely massive.  For example, did you know that the U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913?

Unfortunately, as the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government continue to flood the system with new dollars in a desperate attempt to stimulate the economy, inflation is only going to get worse and worse and worse.

So enjoy the relatively tame inflation that we are enjoying for now.  The official U.S. government inflation rate has been hovering around 1 percent or so, but everyone knows that the official inflation rate is an absolute joke.  The government pulls different categories in and out of the inflation rate almost at will in an attempt to keep the numbers low.

One recent study that analyzed price movement of 86 products in Wal-Mart stores found that the “real” rate of inflation was approximately twice the “official” rate reported by the U.S. government.

Others are convinced that the official rate of inflation is even higher than that.  For example, John Williams of ShadowStats.com has closely studied inflation in the U.S. and he believes that it is currently hovering somewhere around 5 percent.

However, John Williams does not believe that inflation is going to stay at 5 percent for much longer.  He recently released a “Hyperinflation Special Report” for 2010 that everyone needs to read.  Personally, I do not agree with all of his conclusions and I do not believe that things are going to happen quite as quickly as he is projecting, but his overall analysis is sound.

The truth is that our financial system has now reached a terminal phase.  Just look at the chart below.  Really look at it.  How can any financial system survive debt that is rising this fast?  The printing and borrowing of money continues to spiral out of control with no end in sight.  It is hard to imagine any scenario in which we can even achieve a “soft landing”.  One way or another, this exploding debt is going to take us down…..

In The Future You May Not Be Able To Provide The Basics For Your Family Even If Everyone In Your Family Has A Job US National Debt Chart 2010

So are the politicians sorry that they have saddled us with all of this debt?

Well, just the other day Nancy Pelosi was directly asked this question and the following was her response….

“No, we have no regrets.”

In fact there are quite a few politicians running around in Washington D.C. that are still convinced “that deficits don’t matter” and that all this debt will never catch up with us.

Well, hold on to your hats, because this is going to be the decade when all of this debt really does start to catch up with us.

One of the ways that we are going to feel the pain is through inflation.

In the months and years ahead, wages will remain relatively stable and government entitlement payments will not increase much while prices for the basic things that American families need go through the roof.

Already we are starting to see some troubling signs of inflation.  In 2010, the price of almost every major agricultural commodity you can name shot up dramatically.  We are starting to see these price increases filter into the supermarket.  Some companies are trying to hide these price increases by shrinking package sizes.

Have you noticed this yet?  Have any of the packages that you buy regularly seemed to shrink in recent months?

Sadly, it looks like food prices are headed even higher.  According to a recent report by Reuters, world food prices hit an all-time record high in December….

World food prices rose to a record in December on higher sugar, grain and oilseed costs, the United Nations said, exceeding levels reached in 2008 that sparked deadly riots from Haiti to Egypt.

So what are you and your family going to do if a worldwide food shortage pushes food prices up significantly?

Another place where American families are really going to start feeling the pain is at the gas pump.

Do you remember back in October when I warned you that 100 dollar oil is coming?

Well, the price of Brent crude reached 95 dollars a barrel for the first time in almost two years on Monday.

Unfortunately, there are many who now believe that the price of oil is going to go a lot higher than that.

John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil, believes that American consumers will likely be paying 5 dollars for a gallon of gas by the time 2012 rolls around.

So is your employer going to be paying you much more to keep up with rising gas prices?

Of course not.

And you know what?

When the price of oil rises, it affects the price of almost everything else in the stores, because nearly everything has to be transported in one way or another.

So why is the price of oil going up so much?  Well, of course there are speculators and of course the price of oil is highly manipulated, but one of the big reasons why oil is going up is because the U.S. dollar is losing value.

The cost of other basics is going up as well.  Have your health insurance premiums gone up lately?  All over the country, horrific health insurance premium increases are being reported.

Quite a few of the readers of this column have stated that they simply cannot afford health insurance anymore and so they are now doing without it.  There are millions of Americans that refuse to go to a hospital because there is no way they can pay for health insurance and there is no way they can pay the ridiculous fees charged by our hospitals today.

Sadly, in the months and years to come millions more working American families will be pushed into poverty-like conditions by rising inflation.

Already we are seeing huge numbers of American families that are working as hard as they can not being able to afford the basics.

A year-end survey conducted by Pew Research found the following….

*51% of Americans say that it is difficult to afford health care.

*48% of Americans say that it is difficult to pay their home heating and electric bills.

*29% of Americans say that it is difficult to afford food.

Those numbers should be quite sobering for us all – especially considering the fact that jobs are becoming very difficult to get.

According to the same Pew Research study, a staggering 46 percent of all Americans say that someone in their household has been without a job and looking for work at some point during the past year.

It can be really depressing to search for a decent job month after month after month when there doesn’t seem to be any out there.

The truth is that there are 7 million less middle class jobs in America today than there were just a decade ago.

So if even one person if your family has a decent job you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.

But sadly even families where everyone is working are going to continue to be stretched further and further financially as rapidly increasing inflation steals our purchasing power a little bit more every single day.

The “good times” are rapidly coming to an end.  The greatest debt-fueled party in the history of the world is wrapping up and you should enjoy it while you still can, because the years ahead are just going to be brutal.

http://vidrebel.wordpress.com/

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Categories: Business/Markets