Sunday, November 30, 2014

U.S. shoppers spent slightly less money at brick-and-mortar stores

U.S. shoppers spent slightly less money at brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday than across the same two days in 2013, while online sales surged to record highs, data showed on Saturday.
Sales at retail stores totaled about $12.29 billion on Thursday and Friday, down 0.5 percent from the $12.35 billion spent last year, according to estimates by ShopperTrak. The research firm stuck by its forecast for November and December sales to increase 3.8 percent.
The data highlights the waning importance of Black Friday, which until a few years ago kicked off the holiday shopping season, as more retailers open their doors on Thanksgiving Day and start discounting earlier in the month.
It also points to the intense price competition among retailers, which have been discounting by 40 to 70 percent this year compared with 30 to 50 percent in the recent past, ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin told Reuters.
"I think what we are seeing is those early promotions coupled with some pretty deep discounts," he said. Martin said he had expected a 0.5 to 1 percent sales gain.
Customer traffic rose 27.3 percent on Thanksgiving Day from a year earlier, reflecting the sharp increase in retailers opening for business on that day. Traffic fell 5.6 percent on Black Friday, ShopperTrak said.
Martin cautioned against taking the two days' figures as sign of slack holiday demand. He noted that Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined for just 1 percent growth last year, underperforming growth of 3.1 percent during the entire season spanning the months of November and December.

Reflecting the decreased significance of Black Friday, ShopperTrak expects "Super Saturday" on Dec. 20 to rank as the busiest shopping day this year and says seven of the top 10 sales days of the season are still to come.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Bank of Canada will likely defer an interest rate

English: Clockwise from top-left: Federal Rese...
English: Clockwise from top-left: Federal Reserve, Bank of England, European Central Bank, Bank of Canada (Note: Uploaded for use on Wikinews) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Bank of Canada will likely defer an interest rate hike until late next year despite high household debt and above-target inflation, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.

The central bank will stay put at next week's policy decision, according to the poll of 41 economists, leaving its key interest rate on hold until the fourth quarter of 2015, slightly later than forecast in a Reuters poll in October.
Recent comments from BOC Governor Stephen Poloz and his officials on how close to capacity the Canadian economy was operating triggered some of the forecast changes.
"They've been arguing that the amount of excess slack in the economy has been understated thus far, and if that's what they believe, then that would argue for a later tightening," said Andrew Kelvin, senior fixed-income strategist at TD Securities.
Kelvin also pointed to disappointing growth in the third quarter and to low oil prices.
The latest poll results come alongside wavering expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise its key interest rate from a record low by the middle of next year and perhaps instead wait until later in the year.
Once the Bank of Canada does start hiking rates, the poll forecast follow-up quarter-point hikes in each of the first two quarters of 2016.
Canada's headline and core inflation rates overshot the Bank's 2 percent target in October, at 2.4 percent and 2.3 percent respectively, while unemployment rate dropped to a six-year low of 6.5 percent.
Poloz is expected to continue to sound dovish at next week's meeting and shrug off inflationary pressures as temporary, the poll found.
TD analysts said Poloz will need to address the jump in inflation, but is likely to place more emphasis on labor market slack.
The central bank dropped its guidance on the direction of interest rates at the last policy meeting in a bid to curb parsing of its policy statements and market volatility.

But that has not resulted in clearer policy, according to the 25 forecasters who answered that question in the Reuters poll. A slim majority said it has led to less clarity instead; none thought there clarity had been improved.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

U.S. consumer sentiment rose in November

Thomson Reuters Trading Room
Thomson Reuters Trading Room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
U.S. consumer sentiment rose in November to its highest level in more than seven years on improvements in the current economic condition, including lower gas prices and improving job prospects, a survey released on Wednesday showed.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final November reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 88.8, its highest reading since July 2007 on a final basis. The reading was up from the 86.9 the month before but slightly below the preliminary reading of 89.4.
Despite the uptick, it was below the median forecast of 90.0 among economists polled by Reuters.
"Consumers more frequently reported hearing about positive rather than negative economic developments in the November
survey, with reports of improving employment the dominant news item," survey director Richard Curtin said in a statement.
"While there was no change in evaluations of the current performance of the economy or the year-ahead outlook - both remained at positive levels - the longer term economic outlook improved substantially."
The survey's barometer of current economic conditions rose to 102.7 from 98.3, just below a forecast of 103.0.

The survey's gauge of consumer expectations edged up to 79.9 from the 79.6 in October and was short of the expected 80.8.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

U.S. single-family homes rose for a third straight month

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes rose for a third straight month in October, but a downward revision to the prior month's sales pace indicated the housing market recovery would remain gradual.
The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that sales gained 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 458,000 units. September's sales pace was revised down to 455,000 units from 467,000 units.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales rising to a 472,000-unit pace last month.
New home sales, which account for about 8 percent of the housing market, tend to be volatile month to month. Compared to October last year, sales were up 1.8 percent.
Housing remains constrained by slow wage growth, which is resulting in a slow pace of household formation.
Last month, new home sales rose 7.1 percent in the Northeast and surged 15.8 percent in the Midwest. In the populous South, sales fell 1.9 percent and were down 2.7 percent in the West.
With sales rising modestly, the stock of new houses available on the market rose 1.0 percent last month to the highest level since June 2010.
At October's sales pace it would take 5.6 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, up from 5.5 months in September. Six months' supply is normally considered a healthy balance between supply and demand.

The median new home price jumped 15.4 percent from a year ago to a record $305,000.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

stuff ordered online: have it dropped off in your car

DHL is in talks with Volvo that could allow it to open the doors of Volvos to deliver parcels.
Lead Photo
Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Working households may soon have an alternative to the modern dilemma of how to take delivery of stuff ordered online: have it dropped off in your car.
Deutsche Post AG’s DHL unit is in talks with Volvo Car Group on a partnership that would allow the parcel-delivery service to remotely open autos made by the Swedish manufacturer, according to people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because details are private. Discussions with other automakers are also ongoing, and a program that enables one-time access by a delivery agent may be announced in the coming weeks, one of the people said.
The offering would follow a pilot project in Sweden that used Volvo’s GPS-linked On Call service to enter vehicles. DHL would only get access after the owner accepts delivery via text message. Volvo Cars and Deutsche Post declined to comment on any talks.
The program could help Volvo set itself apart from upscale brands like BMW, which sells more than three times as many cars. The unit of billionaire Li Shufu’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. targets doubling sales to 800,000 vehicles by 2020. Meanwhile, Deutsche Post is trying new ways to make sure goods are delivered safely on the first attempt, a crucial part of maintaining profitability of such operations.
Missed Deliveries
Missed deliveries are the bane of online shoppers, and a profit-sapping cost burden to package handlers such as Bonn-based Deutsche Post. Europe’s biggest mail carrier needs more than one attempt on more than 50 million shipments in Germany each year.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cash Flow Forever - Jeff K Johnson

I have had a Real Estate License, Insurance and Mutual Fund licenses so this book was of particular interest to me and it did not let me down. With real estate pretty well part of most of our lives there are lessons to be learned with this one! Rules of the road, tricks of the trade; commercial real estate broker Jeff K. Johnson lays out a simple but highly effective formula for building net worth and cash flow through real estate investing. Jeff shares his highly educated and unique insight from working with a number of highly successful real estate investors for over thirty five years. You will find the real life stories that Jeff shares about his clients and his own investing experiences to be invaluable. This practical and easy to read book cuts right to the chase and lays out "The Real Secrets of Real Estate Investing".cashflow

In "Cash Flow Forever" Johnson reveals more than the basics of the real estate and investment properties!
A must read for those starting out in life or venturing into the real estate and commercial properties.

Jeff's new book "Cash Flow Forever" is now available on Amazon

Product Description
About the Author
Jeff K Johnson CCIM SIOR is the President of Black Commercial Inc., the brokerage division of NAI Black. NAI Black is one of Spokane, Washington's largest property management and commercial real estate companies. During his career, Jeff has worked with many highly successful real estate investors and has formed numerous real estate investment partnerships. Jeff has taught "Real Estate Investing" at Spokane Falls Community College and is the past President of the Washington Commercial Association of Realtors. Jeff grew up in Forest City, Iowa where he attended Waldorf College and met his wife Kae. Jeff is an avid rock and alpine climber.

Reviewed by R.G. Richardson.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

majority of Tor-based hidden services closed down

The majority of Tor-based hidden services closed down by law enforcement agencies last week were clones or fakes, according to a new analysis of the operation.
In what the 16-member states of Europol, the FBI, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security called Operation Onymous, more than 410 hidden services hosted on .onion pages through the Tor network were closed down this month, according to the agencies.
Over $1 million in Bitcoin, 180,000 euros in cash, drugs, gold and silver were also seized during the sting.
The Tor Project group said at the time they were surprised at the closures, and had "very little information about how this was accomplished," — appealing to the general public for theories and potential answers in the process.
"[We are] most interested in understanding how these services were located and if this indicates a security weakness in Tor hidden services that could be exploited by criminals or secret police repressing dissents," the group said.
However, a new analysis published Monday reveals interesting findings that place the law enforcement agencies' claims in doubt. Blogger Nik Cubrilovic and others conducted a web crawl on the Tor network, and according to the Australia-based blogger, while Europol and the FBI claimed to have seized 410 services, a crawl of over 9,000 onion sites found that only 276 services were taken down.
153 of these addresses belonged to clone, scam or phishing sites, and out of these 153 sites, 133 were clones and 20 were malicious.
Cubrilovic says that in a number of cases, the FBI was only able to take the clone or scam version, but left the real site operational.
"In May of 2014 a bot known as the 'Onion Cloner' was discovered and became known to Tor hidden service operators," Cubrilovic writes. "This bot would find Tor hidden sites and clone them on its own address in an effort to steal passwords or intercept Bitcoin transactions. Of the 133 clone sites that the FBI seized, a large number of them were clone sites produced by the Onion Cloner that were mistaken for the real copy."

Read this

FBI Director: Mobile encryption could lead us to 'very dark place'
FBI Director: Mobile encryption could lead us to 'very dark place'
Apple's and Google's encryption plans have not gone down well with US law enforcement, and the agency's director says the companies are leading us down a dark path.

The blogger also claims that out of 32 onion addresses mentioned in the DOJ seizure notice, three are scam sites and nine are clones. Interestingly, while Cubrilovic says every single Onion Cloner clone site on the network was seized, a number of sites were also seized but have not been mentioned in any official notice.
Among these websites is "Pink Meth," a revenge porn website, and an additional 200 sites that have not been disclosed.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The agreement follows the e-retailer’s deal last month with Simon & Schuster.
Lead Photo
Amazon.com Inc. and Hachette Book Group have settled their months-long dispute over the prices of books sold by the No. 1 merchant in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.
Terms were not disclosed beyond both companies saying in a joint statement that they have signed a “multi-year agreement for e-book and print sales in the U.S.” with terms taking effect in 2015. In late October, Amazon reached a similar agreement with publisher Simon & Schuster.
“We are pleased with this new agreement as it includes specific financial incentives for Hachette to deliver lower prices, which we believe will be a great win for readers and authors alike,” says David Naggar, Amazon’s vice president for Kindle.
Amazon dominates e-book sales with 60% of the market, according to Forrester Research Inc.
During the dispute, Amazon delayed shipments of Hachette titles and prevented pre-orders of some of the publisher’s books. The dispute reportedly affected some 5,000 books.
The roots of this dispute go back about four years, when Amazon signed a new electronic book pricing agreement with Hachette Book Group that enabled the publisher to set the prices of its own books.

Friday, November 21, 2014

chief executive officers paid more than U.S. federal income taxes contributions,

Seven of the 30 largest U.S. corporations paid more money to their chief executive officers last year than they paid in U.S. federal income taxes, according to a study released on Tuesday that was disputed by at least one of the companies.
Amid talk in Washington about corporate tax reform, the study said the seven companies, which in 2013 reported more than $74 billion in combined U.S. pre-tax profits, came out ahead on their taxes, gaining $1.9 billion more than they owed.
At the same time, the CEOs at each of the seven companies last year was paid an average of $17.3 million, said the study, compiled by two Washington think tanks.
The seven companies cited were Boeing Co (BA.N), Ford Motor Co (F.N), Chevron Corp (CVX.N), Citigroup Inc (C.N), Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and General Motors Co (GM.N).
The Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government, the study's co-authors, said its findings reflected "deep flaws in our corporate tax system."
In reply, Verizon said it paid $422 million in income taxes in 2013. "We do not provide a breakdown between federal vs. state in that total; however, I am confirming for you that the federal portion of that number is well more than Verizon's CEO's compensation," a spokesman said in an email.
Boeing said its 2013 global tax bill was $1.6 billion, though all but $5 million was deferred due to development and production investments. A spokesman said current tax expense and cash taxes were likely to rise as 787 jet deliveries ramp up.

Like the other companies, Citigroup said it abides by all tax laws. "In 2013, Citi paid more than $3 billion in payroll taxes and more than $95 million in use tax, personal property and real property taxes in the U.S.,” a spokesman said.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mercedes-Maybach limousine, to debut at this week's Guangzhou autoshow

Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) will give its new luxury baby, the Mercedes-Maybach limousine, a glitzy world debut at this week's Guangzhou autoshow, even as analysts warn the end is nigh for China's 10-year high-end car sales boom.
The scale of the world's biggest auto market means the German firm and peers like Jaguar Land Rover [TAMOJL.UL] simply can't ignore it. Instead, to cut costs and cushion potential discounts as luxury demand cools, they're starting or expanding production in China.
Responding quickly to changing consumer preferences since President Xi Jinping's anti-extravagance campaign began two years ago is key for luxury automakers. IHS Automotive expects premium car sales growth will slow to 5 percent by 2018 from an average annual growth rate of 30 percent over the past decade.
"We want to go for a sustainable growth, growth with quality. It's not just a volume game," Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover said last month in the eastern city of Changshu, where the British firm opened its first overseas plant.
Localizing operations in China could help luxury operators target fast responses to changing market trends. It could also help them avoid heavy import duties and price their cars more competitively.
Interest among foreign firms in selling upscale cars in China show no sign of abating even as economic growth slows to the weakest pace since first-quarter 2009. Last month, Ford Motor Co (F.N) launched its premium Lincoln brand in the country, while Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) plans to introduce luxury cars in China next year.

But the market for ultra-luxury cars, defined by consultancy as those selling for more than 2 million yuan ($326,632) apiece, has dropped sharply. A.T. Kearney expects it will barely grow over the next five years.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Home Depot quarter up

English: Logo for The Home Depot. Category:Bra...
English: Logo for The Home Depot. Category:Brands of the World (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Home Depot Inc (HD.N), the world's No.1 home improvement chain, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as an improving job market encouraged Americans to spend more on renovations.
The company reaffirmed its 2014 sales growth forecast of about 4.8 percent and profit forecast of $4.54 per share.
That includes about $34 million of net costs related to a data breach between April and September.
The company said it may face other breach-related costs, including legal action, that could have a material impact on results for the fourth quarter and future periods.
The retailer is facing at least 44 civil lawsuits related to the breach in the United States and Canada.
The company's shares were down 0.4 percent at $97.66 premarket.
Home Depot said on Sept. 18 that hackers stole details on about 56 million payment cards in the attack.
The retailer said earlier this month that about 53 million email addresses were also stolen in the attack.
U.S. homebuilder sentiment hit new records in the August to October period as a firming job market unleashed pent-up demand, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Home Depot's net income rose to $1.54 billion, or $1.15 per share, in the third quarter ended Nov. 2, from $1.35 billion, or 95 cents per share, a year earlier.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Foxconn to manufacture Nokia tablet

Finland's Nokia (NOK1V.HE) launched a new brand-licensed tablet computer on Tuesday which is designed to rival Apple's(AAPL.O) iPad Mini, just six months after the company sold its ailing phones and devices business to Microsoft (MSFT.O) for over $7 billion.
Nokia, a name which was once synonymous with mobile phones until first Apple and then Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) eclipsed the Finnish company with the advent of smart phones, said the manufacturing, distribution and sales of the new N1 tablet, will be handled under license by Taiwan's Foxconn (2354.TW).
The aluminum-cased N1, which runs on Google's (GOOGL.O) Android Lollipop operating software but features Nokia's new Z Launcher intelligent home screen interface, is due to be in stores in China in the first quarter of next year for an estimated price of $249 before taxes, with sales to other markets to follow.
Sebastian Nystrom, the head of products at Nokia's Technologies unit, said the company was looking to follow up with more devices and will also look into eventually returning to the smartphones business by brand-licensing.
"With the agreement with Microsoft, as is customary, we have this transition and we can't do smartphones ... We have a time limit. In 2016 we can again enter that business," Nystrom told Reuters.
"It would be crazy not to look at that opportunity. Of course we will look at it."
Microsoft last week dropped the Nokia name on its latest Lumia 535 smartphone, which runs on its Windows Phone 8 operating system, but still uses the brand for more basic phones.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Radiation from Fukushima in Japan has been detected off the coast of North America

English: Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods H...
English: Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Radiation from Fukushima in Japan has been detected off the coast of North America at amounts thousands of times lower than acceptable levels in drinking water. The small amounts of cesium 134 were measured about 150 kilometres west of Eureka, California, by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as part of the U.S. organization’s regular monitoring of radioactivity in the ocean. Ken Buesseler, a research scientist at Woods Hole, said the samples measured less than two becquerels of cesium 134 from the radioactive plume sent into the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant after damage from the 2011 earthquake and series of tsunamis released radiation into the atmosphere and ocean. A becquerel measures the rate at which radioactive material emits radiation and decays. Buesseler will officially present the results on Thursday at conference of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Vancouver. Buesseler and Woods Hole have also recruited about 50 local organizations and individuals in a citizen scientist program to take samples of sea water along the coast of North and Central America and Hawaii to send to Woods Hole for testing. More than six locations in B.C. are part of the program, including Bamfield and Haida Gwaii. In the U.S., the safe-drinking-water standard is 7,400 becquerels of cesium per cubic metre of water. In Canada, the standard is 10,000.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Alberta earthquakes increasing

Moments after the shaking stopped, his neighbours were calling, asking if he had felt what they just felt.
“After a few minutes, I realized it was an earthquake,” Langer said.
Peace River
There was a small earthquake on Nov. 2 in Peace River, just northeast of Peace River. The recently published study involving Alberta researcher Jeff Gu indicates fracking may trigger earthquakes in the province. (earthquakes.nrcan.gc.ca)
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) registered a small, 3.0-magnitude earthquake that was “lightly felt” from Three Creeks to St. Isidor in northern Alberta at 11:14 p.m. MT. NRCan said on its website there were no reports of damage, and that “none would be expected.”
Jeff Gu, a seismologist at the University of Alberta, said the earthquake could have been caused by shifting rock formations in the region — but added there could be another possible explanation.
“Certainly that region is not immune to earthquake faulting, but I would say having actual earthquakes in that area is relatively recent, relatively new,” he said.
Gu is one of three authors of a recently published study in the Journal of Geophysical Research, a peer-reviewed publication that looked at four years of earthquake data around Rocky Mountain House. The study concludes that waste-water injection into the ground is highly correlated with spikes in earthquake activity in the area.
It is the first study of its kind conducted in Canada that links industrial activity to induced earthquakes.
“The conclusion was that the industrial activities could, in some cases, potentially trigger or facilitate earthquake occurrences,” Gu said.

Alberta earthquakes increasing

Since 1985, fewer than 15 earthquakes above a 3.0 magnitude have been recorded anywhere in Alberta, according to the Alberta Geological Survey's website. There has been an increase in earthquake activity since the 1960s, the organization says.
The Peace River earthquake is not the only one that has shaken the province in the past few months:
  • In October, a 2.7-magnitude quake was recorded about four kilometres southwest of Banff.
  • In August, a 4.3-magnitude earthquake was registered near Rocky Mountain House, causing about 500 customers in the area to lose power for several hours.
Gu said the research into whether waste-water induction and fracking are related to earthquakes is still “really a work in progress.”
“There has been more and more evidence, increasing evidence, in the last few years in particular — in Arkansas, in Texas and actually more recently here,” Gu said.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

WHEN big banks fail, taxpayers usually foot the bill

English: Mark Carney, Canadian banker
English: Mark Carney, Canadian banker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHEN big banks fail, taxpayers usually foot the bill. For instance, since the most recent financial crisis, British taxpayers alone have provided around £1.2 trillion ($1.9 trillion) worth of support to banks. Governments and their citizens around the world are understandably keen that this does not happen again. In response to this pressure, on November 10th the Financial Stability Board (FSB), an international group of regulators, announced proposals that Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, says will end the risk to the public purse from bank failures.
Under the proposals­—named “Total Loss-Absorbing Capacity” (TLAC)—big banks will have to fund themselves with loss-absorbing capital equal to 16-20% of their risk-weighted assets. This capital includes both shareholders’ equity and some convertible securities (capital that is raised as debt, but converts into shares when a bank enters financial difficulties). In reality, when TLAC comes into force by 2019, banks will need slightly more capital than the new rules prescribe due to the extra “buffers” demanded by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, another international regulator.
Mr Carney emphasises that the new TLAC rules will not prevent future bank failures. Rather, they will mean that a bank’s shareholders can be wiped out without its liabilities becoming a burden on the state. Instead, some creditors­—such as the holders of convertible bonds—will automatically become the new owners. As a result, the bank will avoid defaulting on its conventional debt to other financial institutions. This is the nightmare scenario, in which “contagion” spreads around the financial system, that bailouts try to avoid. Were a bank to suffer losses exceeding the TLAC buffers­—such that the convertible debt was wiped out ­too—it would fail more completely. Only at that point might taxpayers be on the hook.
Regulators hope that the requirements will be stringent enough that such a complete failure is rendered almost impossible. If they are right, the “too-big-to-fail” subsidy­—the reduction in the interest rate banks pay on their debt due to an implicit taxpayer guarantee­—will be all but eliminated.
There are 30 banks around the world considered large enough to be “globally systemically important” and hence potentially subject to the TLAC rules. However, those headquartered in emerging markets will initially be exempt due to the “different market conditions” they face. In particular, this will benefit three banks based in China. The FSB’s impact assessment will consider the extent to which this could create an uneven playing field.

Friday, November 14, 2014

BlackBerry, which has completed the first phase

BlackBerry, which has completed the first phase of its two-year turnaround plan, is now focused on profitability and will not spread itself thin by attempting to launch too many new devices, its chief executive said.
John Chen, who took the reins at the struggling mobile technology company in November 2013, has moved rapidly to try to get the one-time investor darling back on track. The company has sold assets, struck partnerships to lower manufacturing costs and broaden app offerings, and raised cash via the sale of real estate holdings in its hometown of Waterloo, Ontario.
"Once we turn this company to profitability again, I will do everything I can to never lose money ever again," Chen told Reuters in an interview this week. "That is definitely something I am very focused on doing."
 
 
The Hong Kong-born executive, 59, made his name at Sybase, a struggling database software firm that he rescued and sold a decade later to SAP for $5.8 billion in 2010.
"If you look at my track record at Sybase, I think we made money for some 60 quarters in a row, even when the dotcom bubble blew up we were profitable. I like that philosophy," said Chen, who added he believes the worst is now behind BlackBerry.
"We will survive as a company and now I am rather confident," he said. "We're managing the supply chain, we are managing inventories, we are managing cash, and we have expenses now at a number that is very manageable. BlackBerry has survived; now we have to start looking at growth."
A year ago, the smartphone industry pioneer was in the midst of a painful restructuring, scrambling to find a suitor and trying to play down media reports of its "death spiral."
A year after Chen stepped in as CEO, BlackBerry may have regained some of its lost swagger. The company is hiring again and though it has yet to turn steady profits, Chen has begun acquiring small companies and investing in growth.
"He stepped in to catch a falling knife, which is what BlackBerry was at the time losing $1 billion plus," said Prem Watsa, whose Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd is a major shareholder and which helped bankroll a debt recapitalization that led to Chen's arrival.

"He came in and very quickly stabilized it and very quickly laid out a roadmap to breakeven."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

AT&T Inc agreed to pay $1.7 billion to acquire Mexico's third-largest wireless operator

English: Mexican businessman Carlos Slim Helú....
English: Mexican businessman Carlos Slim Helú. Deutsch: Mexikanischer Unternehmer Carlos Slim Helú, u.a. Präsident von Grupo Carso. Español: El empresario mexicano Carlos Slim Helú. Português: O empresário mexicano Carlos Slim Helú, presidente do Grupo Carso, chega ao Palácio do Planalto para reunião com o presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
AT&T Inc agreed to pay $1.7 billion to acquire Mexico's third-largest wireless operator, Iusacell, as it seeks to grab a slice of a market with lower cellular penetration than the United States and faster potential growth.
Mexico's government earlier this year implemented reforms to shake up its telecom and broadcast market by weakening the dominance of broadcaster Grupo Televisa and billionaire Carlos Slim's cellphone and fixed-line company America Movil.
AT&T is looking to tap into the growing cellphone market in Latin America's No. 2 economy now that the government is encouraging foreign investment in the sector, Chief Financial Officer John Stephens told Reuters.
"Our focus in investing in Mexico is about the great environment from an investment perspective, the regulatory reforms, the growing population and middle class," Stephens said.
AT&T shares were up 0.57 percent at $35.11 in after hours trading.
The deal, which is subject to approval by Mexican regulators, will occur after Iusacell's owner, billionaire businessman Ricardo Salinas' Grupo Salinas, buys out its partner's 50 percent stake in Iusacell.
Iusacell said in September it would buy back that stake, currently held by broadcaster Grupo Televisa, for $717 million.
"Once we reached that agreement, we started...talking to several companies," said Grupo Salinas executive Luis Nino de Rivera. "One of them was AT&T. We initiated the discussions because we were interested in making good on the next step that we had to find for Iusacell."
Iusacell hopes to complete the sale in the first quarter of next year, he said. He did not mention which other companies Grupo Salinas spoke to about Iusacell.
BUYING SPREE
The deal would be the second major acquisition this year by AT&T, which is also taking over satellite provider DirecTV for $48.5 billion. Prior to the DirecTV, AT&T deal held about 10 percent of America Movil. It sold the shares in June for $5.57 billion to a real estate company controlled by Slim.
The Iusacell deal may pave the way for AT&T to buy up more in Mexico. The company has been tipped as a buyer for America Movil assets that are up for sale as the Mexican operator tries to reduce its market share below 50 percent in order to skirt harsh penalties for dominant players introduced with the reform.
"It is hard to imagine you would go into Mexico and buy Iusacell all by itself. There is probably more of this story left to be written," said Craig Moffett, analyst at MoffettNathanson in New York.
AT&T also said it will trim its 2015 capital spending outlook to $18 billion from $21 billion.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

rural populations are in inexorable decline

English: This photo describes a rural area
English: This photo describes a rural area (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In more and more countries, rural populations are in inexorable decline. China hit peak rural in 1991, only a year after the U.S., with 836 million people in rural areas. The number living in the countryside today is 636 million (compared with 722 million living in urban areas of the country). Brazil’s rural population peaked in 1973 with 42.4 million rural dwellers. That is down to 29.7 million today (compared with an urban population of 171 million).
India and Nigeria are yet to hit the peak, with rural populations still growing at a little under 1 percent a year in India and around 1.2 percent in Nigeria. But globally we are reaching the inflection point. In the five years between 2009 and 2013, world population increased about 1.2 percent a year. Urban populations increased 2.1 percent a year. If urban population worldwide keeps expanding faster than total population, sometime around 2021 the global rural population will start to decline in absolute terms. Three decades after peak rural in the U.S. and China, we’ll hit planetary peak rural.
This change could have some significant political impacts. Not least, it will probably speed movement away from conservative attitudes. Around the world, city dwellers consistently tend to think differently from country folk. Pippa Norris looked at survey evidence from 70 nations around the world and found that people living in urban areas are more likely to favor free trade and immigration, and more likely to trust the United Nations. Urban populations are less likely to be religious, according to Robert Barro of Harvard. And Quentin Duroy of Denison University notes they also seem willing to pay taxes to protect the environment.
The environment will likely benefit from declining rural numbers because urban living is simply more environmentally sustainable. At the same income level, dense cities have lower per capita energy use than sparsely populated rural areas because people don’t have to travel as far for work, school, or entertainment, and expensive land makes for more compact housing. City living is also good for human development—urban populations in the developing world see higher life expectancies and better education outcomes because public service provision is so much more straightforward than trying to provide electricity or schooling to sparsely populated rural areas.
But there is a flip side: As rural areas literally empty out, it will become more and more costly to provide infrastructure, education, and health services to those who remain in the countryside. Rural residents will likely have to travel farther to schools and hospitals, and the tax base supporting repair of the roads they travel over will shrink. Providing new infrastructure will be increasingly uneconomic. It may well be that the pockets of poverty in rural areas will become even deeper. The world may well follow the U.S. and China in seeing the income gap between those in the countryside and those in the city yawn ever wider—in China average urban incomes are now about threefold those in rural areas.
Planetary peak rural is a plus for the average global quality of life and its sustainability. But an increasingly disadvantaged rural population across the developing world might also be the source of political division. Perhaps in the Indian or Nigerian elections of 2030, a candidate will talk about people in the small towns of rural Rajasthan or Kano clinging to their guns and their religion or their antipathy to people who aren’t like them out of desperation at their state—and recognize America’s past in their present.