Posts Tagged Reuters
Ann Romney Concerned for Husband’s Mental Well-Being
That is, if he wins the presidency, it’d be her biggest concern
Losing in most any competition can take its emotional toll, but a presidential defeat in particular must sting somethin’ fierce.
Unless maybe you’re Mitt Romney, whose wife, reports Reuters, says she’s concerned for her husband’s mental well-being should he win the race for the Oval Office (a prospect looking less and less likely).
“I think my biggest concern obviously would just be for his mental well-being,” said Ann Romney. “I have all the confidence in the world in his ability, in his decisiveness, in his leadership skills, in his understanding of the economy, so for me I think it would just be the emotional part of it.”
When asked what she thought of fellow Republican criticism of her husband, Mrs. Romney said it should stop, and invited would-be conservative rivals of Romney to “get in the ring.”
- Ann Romney Concerned for Husband’s Mental Well-Being (mbcalyn.com)
- Ann Romney: Mitt’s ‘mental well-being’ would be her biggest concern if elected (thehill.com)
- Ann Romney Expresses Concern About Mitt’s ‘Mental Well-Being’ if Elected President: VIDEO (towleroad.com)
- Ann Romney: Biggest Fear Is For Mitt’s ‘Mental Well-Being’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- Ann Romney worries about Mitt’s ‘mental well-being’ if he wins election (rawstory.com)
- Ann Romney: biggest fear is for Mitt’s “mental well-being” (reuters.com)
- A Letter from Ann Romney : The New Yorker (mbcalyn.com)
- Ann Romney tells Mitt’s critics to ‘Stop it.’ Will they listen? – CSMonitor.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Ann Romney Worried About Mitt’s ‘Mental Well-Being…The Emotional Part’ (truelogic.wordpress.com)
- Quote Of The Day – Ann Romney (joemygod.blogspot.com)
Romney’s “Charity” to the Church is Just More Corporate Greed and Tax Evasion
Let’s take a look at what Mitt’s charitable giving goes to, shall we?
If the Mormon church were a business, wealthy adherents like Mitt Romney would count as its dominant revenue stream.
Its investment strategy would be viewed as risk-averse.
It would also likely attract corporate gadflies protesting a lack of transparency. They would call for less spending on real estate and more on charitable causes to improve membership growth – the Mormons’ return on investment.
Those are a few of the conclusions that can be drawn from an analysis of the church’s finances by Reuters and University of Tampa sociologist Ryan Cragun.
Relying heavily on church records in countries that require far more disclosure than the United States, Cragun and Reuters estimate that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brings in some $7 billion annually in tithes and other donations.
It owns about $35 billion worth of temples and meeting houses around the world, and controls farms, ranches, shopping malls and other commercial ventures worth many billions more.
So Romney is giving huge sums of money to a church which runs commercial ventures and has no obligatin to pay taxes on them. Sounds perfect.
“Most of the revenue of the religion is from the U.S., and a large percentage comes from an elite cadre of wealthy donors, like Mitt Romney,” said Cragun. ” is a religion that appeals to economically successful men by rewarding their financial acuity with respect and positions of prestige within the religion.”
The church is full of successful businessmen, including chemical billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr., the father of the former presidential candidate, J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr. and his hotel-owning family, and even entertainer Donny Osmond.
The Mormon church has no hospitals and only a handful of primary schools. Its university system is limited to widely respected Brigham Young, which has campuses in Utah, Idaho and Hawaii, and LDS Business College. Seminaries and institutes for high school students and single adults offer religious studies for hundreds of thousands.
It counts more than 55,000 in its missionary forces, primarily youths focused on converting new members but also seniors who volunteer for its non-profits, such as the Polynesian Cultural Center, which bills itself as Hawaii’s No. 1 tourist attraction, and for-profit businesses owned by the church.
The church has plowed resources into a multi-billion-dollar global network of for-profit enterprises: it is the largest rancher in the United States, a church official told Nebraska’s Lincoln Journal Star in 2004, with other ranches and farms in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and Great Britain, according to financial documents reviewed by Reuters.
Ranching and farm industry sources say they are well-run operations.
It also has a small media empire, an investment fund, and is developing a mall across from its Salt Lake City headquarters, which it calls an attempt to help revitalize the city rather than to make money. These enterprises are also part of a vast nest egg for tough times. The church expects wars and natural disasters before Christ returns to earth in the Second Coming, and members are encouraged to prepare by laying in stores of food. Farms and ranches are part of the church’s own preparation.
“The church teaches its members to live within their means and put a little money aside for life’s unexpected events. As a church, we live by the same principle,” Purdy said. The rainy-day fund and operating budget rarely mix, officials say.
And what does Mitt think about this form of “charity”?
Romney himself focuses on the act of giving, not the result. As he told Fox News Sunday, “Hopefully, as people look at various individuals running for president, they’d be pleased with someone who made a promise to God and kept that promise.”
Right. That’s all that matters.
If I didn’t know better I’d have to assume that this charitable giving to a church that primarily operates highly successful commercial businesses is just another tax dodge.
- Let’s take a look at what Mitt’s charitable giving goes to, shall we? (digbysblog.blogspot.com)
- Mitt Romney’s Role as Mormon Bishop Shows His Extremist Religious Beliefs | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Carl Schneider: Romney seems to favor needy Mormons over needy non-Mormons – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Romney’s “Charity” to the Church is Just More Corporate Greed and Tax Evasion | Alternet (seculardiscourse.wordpress.com)
- 10 Desperate and Depressed Conservative Reactions to Romney’s 47 Percent Moment | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Mormon church threatens to excommunicate member who criticized Romney (rawstory.com)
- Mormon church brings in $7 billion a year from tithing (openchannel.nbcnews.com)
- Mormon church earns $7 billion a year from tithing, analysis indicates (openchannel.nbcnews.com)
- An Update on What Romney’s Tax Forms Can Teach Us (and Mormons) About Tithing (forbes.com)
- Mormon Harry Reid blasts Mitt Romney’s Mormonism (twitchy.com)
China Bean-Counters Should Open Their Books
By John Foley
| Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012, at 5:36 PM ET
After a rash of accounting slip-ups, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has put the world’s big four audit firms in a bind by asking their Chinese joint ventures for documents they will find it hard to hand over.
Life only gets tougher for global accountancy firms in China. After a rash of accounting slip-ups, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has put the world’s big four audit firms in a bind by asking their Chinese joint ventures for documents they will find it hard to hand over, according to a source cited by Reuters. China hates cross-border meddling, but it may be counter-productive to throw accountants under the bus.
Deloitte’s joint venture in China already faces a suit from the SEC for refusing to hand over documents relating to Longtop, one of China’s more spectacular accounting frauds of last year. The joint venture argued not only that the SEC couldn’t demand certain files, but that if it complied it might face punishment from China for disclosing “state secrets” – though it’s not clear why Longtop would have many of these.
At worst, the SEC could strip the auditors of their ability to sign off accounts for companies listed in the United States. That would affect not just Chinese companies but also multinationals which rely on Chinese joint ventures to vet their local divisions. Those Chinese companies unable to find a U.S.-approved auditor – there are $66 billion worth of Chinese company shares listed on Nasdaq alone, according to Reuters data – may have to delist.
For China, that might seem a small price to pay for defending the country from foreign snooping. Intervention of any kind is unwelcome. It has taken the U.S. accounting regulator years just to get a vague agreement that it can sit in on Chinese audit inspections. Chinese authorities may even consider U.S. delistings as a boost for domestic markets: a Shanghai exchange official has said Chinese companies are welcome to return home.
The trouble is, despite China’s aspirations to create its own giant accounting firms, domestic bookkeepers still lack credibility. Chinese auditors have little practice at dealing with the quirky shareholding structures common to Chinese firms listing overseas. As China’s technology, banking and manufacturing sectors have already learned, the best way to get that experience is not to close down but to open up – at least in the beginning. Different treatment for accountants doesn’t add up.
- Audit firms torn between SEC, Chinese secrecy (theglobeandmail.com)
- Can U.S. and China Avert Accounting Armageddon? (businessinsider.com)
- Can U.S. and China Avert Accounting Armageddon? (chovanec.wordpress.com)
- WARNING: By the end of this year, there is a very real chance that U.S. securities regulators may forcibly delisting every Chinese company currently listed on a U.S. stock exchange (investmentwatchblog.com)
- Getting US education to China – Shaun Rein (chinaherald.net)
- Chinese secretly copy Austrian town | News24 (mbcalyn.com)
- SEC seeks audit papers from China (todayonline.com)
- “Unless the Chinese can get the inflation rate up, expect a revolution.” (brontecapital.blogspot.com)
- Brazil and China Sign Trade Agreements (nytimes.com)
- Chinese aviation firm to form joint venture with France’s Thales (wantchinatimes.com)
Vein Grown From Her Own Stem Cells Saves 10-Year-Old Swedish Girl
A ten year old girl became the first person in the world to get a major blood vessel replaced by one grown using her own stem cells.
BY AMBER MOORE |
A ten year old girl became the first person in the world to get a major blood vessel replaced by one grown using her own stem cells.
Photo: Bryan Jones/Flickr
Published by Medicaldaily.com
- Vein grown from stem cells saves 10-year-old girl (todayonline.com)
- Ten-year-old gets lab-grown vein (bbc.co.uk)
- Vein grown from stem cells saves 10-year-old girl – Reuters (drugstoresource.wordpress.com)
- Vein grown from stem cells saves 10-year-old girl (news.yahoo.com)
- 10 year old gets vein grown from stem cells (snspost.com)
- Girl Gets New Veins Made From Her Own Stem Cells [Medicine] (gizmodo.com)
- Girl, 10, has vein made from her own stem cells successfully transplanted (guardian.co.uk)
- Doctors grow new vein with girl’s own stem cells (ctv.ca)
- Doctors make new vein with girl’s own stem cells (dawn.com)
- First-Ever Stem Cell Vein Saves Girl, 10 (newser.com)
Another Flip-Flop? Campaign Aide Says Romney Would Not Offer Relief For Homeowners With Underwater Mortgages – International Business Times
Another Flip-Flop? Campaign Aide Says Romney Would Not Offer Relief For Homeowners With Underwater Mortgages
By ASHLEY PORTERO:
June 2, 2012
Mitt Romney would not offer targeted relief for the 11.5 million U.S. homeowners with underwater mortgages if he were elected president, one of his campaign advisers said on Bloomberg Television Saturday, adding that such policies would not help stabilize the nation’s housing market.
(Photo: REUTERS)Mitt Romney would not offer targeted relief for the 11.5 million U.S. homeowners with underwater mortgages if he were elected president, one of his campaign advisers said on Bloomberg Television Saturday, adding that such policies would not help stabilize the nation’s housing market.
In an interview on Bloomberg’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt,” Lanhee Chen, the policy director for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said Romney wants to resist “short-term” approaches to improve the housing market.
“On the housing market specifically, I do think we have to resist the temptation for short-term approaches. And I think the president has fallen into that trap a little bit. … We have to do everything we can to get this economy going because ultimately that’s what going to get he housing market going again,” Chen said in an answer to a question about aiding Americans who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth that was quoted by ThinkProgress.
Chen’s statement contrasts with what Romney himself told voters in Floridawhile campaigning in the state during the Republican Party’s presidential primary election. In January, Romney said banks should write down mortgage principal — a portion of the amount owed on a mortgage — for a borrower with a mortgage whose stated value is more than the home is currently worth.
“The idea that somehow this is going to cure itself by itself is probably not real. There’s going to have to be a much more concerted effort to work with the lending institutions and help them take action, which is in their best interest and the best interest of the homeowners,” Romney said.
Florida ranks No. 7 in the country in terms of foreclosures, with one in every 360 housing units in the state receiving at least one foreclosure notice last December, according to a year-end report from RealtyTrac.
Of course, Romney’s remarks in Florida themselves stood in contrast to statements he made to the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal only months before his appearance in the Sunshine State. In October, Romney told the newspaper in Nevada — a state that has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation — that the government should not try to stop the foreclosure process.
“Let it run its course and hit bottom, allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes, and let it turn around and come back up,” Romney said.
- Mitt Romney Lies – #2 – ‘Romney might be the first politician to flip-flop on his own lies while simultaneously lying about his flip-flops’ (thelastofthemillenniums.wordpress.com)
- Obama ‘evolves’ and Romney ‘flip-flops’: Is it fair? (theglobeandmail.com)
- 2.4 million U.S. homes worth half their mortgage (lansner.ocregister.com)
- “Obama Flip Flops, Declares War on Marriage” (slog.thestranger.com)
- Romney Flip-Flops On Gay Adoption (alan.com)
- Barack Obama’s Flip Flopping Is Way More Embarrassing Than Mitt Romney’s (businessinsider.com)
- Letter: Romney supporters must have trouble figuring out what his policies are (tcpalm.com)
- Obama’s ‘evolution’ vs. Romney’s flip-flops (politico.com)
- FLIP FLOP ALERT: Mitt Romney Is Taking Credit For The Auto Bailout (businessinsider.com)
- Obama campaign video exposes seven more Mitt Romney lies in two minutes (dailykos.com)
Analysis: Shale energy boom dangles prospect of leap in economic growth
By Jason LangeWASHINGTON | Thu May 24, 2012 11:30am EDT
(Reuters) – America’s reliance on fuel imports has sucked vigor from its economy for decades. Now an oil and natural gas boom holds out the prospect for a new era of stronger U.S. economic growth.
Vast reserves of natural gas and oil unlocked from underground shale deposits have slashed the price of U.S. natural gas to a fraction of costs in Europe and Asia, making it some of the cheapest energy in the world.
That is cutting production costs at U.S. factories, making ‘Made in America’ a more attractive option and driving investment in everything from foundries to chemical plants.
The shale energy revolution could also turn the United States into a net exporter of many fuels in little more than a decade, transforming energy from the economy’s Achilles’ heel to a source of strength.
“It certainly gives the U.S. a clear competitive advantage,” said Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist at General Motors, which added two light trucks that can run on natural gas to its Fort Wayne, Indiana, production for 2013 to meet new U.S. demand for cheap energy vehicles.
Higher oil and gas output and fewer imports – along with a burst of investment to take advantage of lower energy costs – have the potential to vault the U.S. economy onto a higher growth plain for years to come, said Eric Lee, a market strategist at Citigroup in New York.
Citigroup, one of the world’s largest banks, recently estimated the energy boom could add roughly a half percentage point to annual U.S. GDP for at least the next several years.
That would be a huge gain. If sustained, it could break the country out of a long slump of slowing economic growth and quicken job creation. On average, the economy grew 2.6 percent per year over the last 20 years, down from 3.1 percent in the prior 20 years.
“There’s something to look ahead to that really is quite transformative,” said Lee.
Philip Verleger, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and a prominent consultant in the energy industry, is even more bullish.
He thinks America will become energy independent – a net energy exporter – in just over a decade, with the boom adding about a full percentage point to annual economic growth over the next 10 to 15 years.
There are skeptics, and analysts warn that environmental concerns raised by new drilling techniques could lead to regulations that snuff out the boom.
“This is one thing that clearly can move the needle – but moving it enough to raise the level of GDP by a half point is a lot,” said Chris Varvares, an economist at Macroeconomic Advisers.
But for now these concerns aren’t stopping a range of U.S. companies from charging ahead with new investments.
TRUCKING AND PLASTICS
Natural gas from shale deposits is already reshaping the long-haul trucking industry. Truck stops around the nation are adding tanks of super-cooled natural gas, known as LNG, because it is substantially cheaper than diesel.
“When we call up trucking companies now, it’s one of the first things they ask about,” said Jimmy Haslam, CEO of Pilot Flying J, one of the country’s largest truck stop chains.
Trucking moves roughly three-quarters of American freight, so lower transportation costs will reverberate throughout the economy, attracting investment, freeing up capital for new projects and increasing corporate profits.
Natural gas provider Clean Energy is partnering with Pilot Flying J to add LNG tanks at over 100 truck stops by the end of next year to allow coast-to-coast refueling.
United Parcel Service, the world’s largest package delivery company, is expanding its LNG truck routes eastward from Ontario, California. UPS bought 48 LNG-powered big rigs last year and recently opened new routes between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. Next stop, Denver.
Snack-food maker Frito-Lay says running natural gas powered trucks costs about 40 percent less per mile than diesel. The company, a unit of PepsiCo, plans to replace nearly all its long-haul fleet with natural gas vehicles, said senior fleet manager Christopher Trajkovski.
The petrochemical industry also is booming. A few years ago, the common wisdom was that the U.S. petrochemicals would lose ground to the Middle East, where cheaper natural gas meant lower production costs. Now the American Chemistry Council estimates shale energy is driving $25 billion in planned investments at U.S. petrochemical factories.
Chevron Phillips Chemical Co, for example, plans to build an ethane cracker that converts ethane from natural gas into chemicals used in plastics. The plant will employ 400 people in Baytown, Texas.
Nearby, at a complex of towering white tanks connected by a maze of silver pipe, Eastman Chemical recently hired 15 workers. The Texas City plant makes materials used in garden hoses and other plastic products, and cheap natural gas gives it a price edge for exporting to Europe.
“When you go to invest or add jobs, that competitive position just gives you more comfort you’re doing the right thing,” said Heidi Barnes, who runs the Eastman unit that oversees the plant.
The United States has been a net importer of fossil fuels since 1958, and the pace accelerated after 2000. That holds back growth because an economy bleeds cash when imports outstrip exports. Dependence on expensive foreign oil has played a role in recessions since 1973.
Last year alone, net energy imports totaled more than $300 billion, a sum even larger than America’s vast trade deficit with China.
Since around 2005, breakthroughs in drilling technology have allowed a technique called hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, to better exploit shale deposits from Pennsylvania to Texas and Wyoming and turbo charge the U.S. energy industry.
Natural gas output surged nearly 8 percent in 2011, the biggest gain ever. And after decades of decline, U.S. crude oil production rose in each of the last three years. The shale fields of North Dakota have suddenly made the state a bigger producer of crude than OPEC member Ecuador.
Citigroup reckons U.S. net imports of many fuels will likely be tiny by 2020. After that, the United States could even become a net exporter of liquids, a category that includes crude oil, gasoline and natural gas liquids.
Already, higher U.S. energy output is reducing the need to import some fuels. The United States plans to export LNG on boats out of the Gulf Coast for the first time by around 2015.
The U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration projects an easing of the country’s reliance on foreign energy, with oil imports expected to slowly decline over the coming decades. But it is more cautious on the longer term prospects. The EIA thinks the U.S. will still import about twice as much energy as it exports in 2035, leaving it energy dependent.
And over time, the U.S. will likely lose its energy cost advantage from shale as other countries tap their deposits. China and Argentina, for instance, are thought to have vast reserves. But they are far behind in developing their fields, giving the U.S. a clear running start.
“They can eventually do it. It’s just going to take some time,” said Verleger.
Companies in America now are paying just above $2.50 per million British thermal units for natural gas, roughly a quarter of what is paid in Europe and an even smaller fraction of the cost in Asia. As long as that lasts, the U.S. economy has an edge in benefiting from the energy boom.
“The economics are really compelling,” said Eric Tech, president of Navistar International’s engine group, which is ramping up production of gas-powered truck engines.
- Risk is Still a Four Letter Word (tclabz.com)
- Vermont first state to ban fracking – CNN.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Eagle Ford Shale’s has had profound impact on Texas (fuelfix.com)
- Energy Stimulus: Shale Gas Saved Consumers $250 Billion and Created Thousands of Shovel-Ready Jobs (blogofberk.typepad.com)
- Unconventionals in the Americas (oildiplomacy.wordpress.com)
- Australia Prepares For Shale Gas Future (huffingtonpost.com)
- Where the Shale Gas Revolution Came From (theenergycollective.com)
- Shale play a worry for Bexar ozone (fuelfix.com)
- Biogas and the Shale Gas Bonanza (forbes.com)
- Shale Gas: Halliburton’s Weapon of Mass Devastation (sott.net)
JPMorgan steers low-end clients to prepaid cards
By David Henry
NEW YORK | Tue May 8, 2012 7:45pm EDT
(Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co is seeking to move its least profitable checking customers into new prepaid debit card accounts to boost earnings in a business crimped by new regulations.
The cards work like checking accounts except that customers cannot write checks and overdrafts, and instead they pay with a swipe or by entering the card number on a website.
A loophole in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law allows banks to charge merchants higher fees for processing payments made with this type of debit card.
Chase said on Tuesday it will market the cards – with a relatively low $4.95 monthly fee – mainly to people who frequently overdraw their accounts, keep low balances, or do not qualify for a checking account at all. It is not adding extra fees for deposits or withdrawals at its ATMs or branches.
The move could pressure other debit card issuers to reduce fees and could prove to be a low-cost way for the industry to provide basic financial services to people who live paycheck-to-paycheck.
These customers have become a millstone for banks across the country after new U.S. regulations limited overdraft fees that banks can charge. A prepaid debit card cannot usually be overdrawn.
Chase, the bank’s retail arm, hopes the prepaid debit card will help it avoid the negative publicity that overdraft fees can garner. Many consumer advocates view those fees as a stealth tax on the poor.
Prepaid debit cards can carry high fees as well, but JPMorgan Chase says its card is among the cheapest available for the average consumer.
Many banks are going the same route as JPMorgan Chase and moving unprofitable customers into prepaid debit cards. The product generates fees and also lowers the cost of maintaining the account, said Todd Maclin, who heads Chase’s consumer and business banking unit.
“When we get out of the overdraft business, we also get out of the check business, which means we get out of the paper business, which means we also get out of a lot of processing, which means we save a lot of money,” Maclin said in an interview.
Between new regulations on fees and low returns on customer deposits as interest rates have dropped, JPMorgan Chase estimates that about 10 percent of its accounts do not generate enough revenue to cover their incremental costs, such as check processing and deposit insurance.
Chase, the third-largest U.S. consumer bank, aims to spend less on those customers while spending more to attract high net-worth individuals who will more than pay their way with purchases of investment and savings products.
Maclin said the bank will seek out the roughly 10 percent of customers who do not qualify for free checking and pay fees of about $12 a month. “We are going to call all of them and tell them that we have a product that costs $4.95 a month and you can do almost everything but write checks,” he said.
This soft approach is a reversal from when banks would try to force customers to change their ways by charging new fees.
It follows the outrage Bank of America Corp met last fall when it tried impose a $5 monthly fee for debit cards that had been free with checking accounts. Bankers are also wary of doing anything that would stoke public anger over the role of banks in the financial crisis.
BREAKTHROUGH OR FLOP?
JPMorgan Chase announced its prepaid debit card plans at an investor conference on Tuesday. Responding to a question at the conference, Maclin said he accepts the fact that cards will likely reduce the bank’s revenue from checking account fees. But it is a trade he is ready to make because the bank’s cost to serve many of those accounts exceed the revenue, he said.
Adam Rust, research director of advocacy group Reinvestment Partners in Durham, North Carolina, who has been critical of the prepaid card industry, said the new Chase card “provides important services at a low price.”
“This is good competition and there is lots of access to ATMs,” he added.
JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said in his annual letter to shareholders in April that the product “could be a breakthrough product for consumers in terms of pricing transparency, convenience and simplicity.”
“The management team doesn’t want me to get too excited in case it doesn’t work,” he added. He did not mention the prepaid debit card by name in the letter, but a person familiar with the matter confirmed he was referring to the product.
The cards have been offered in a pilot program in two states for a few weeks, and will be available in Chase’s 5,500 branches in 23 states by the end of summer.
Prepaid debit cards give banks a way around rules linked to a provision of Dodd-Frank known as the Durbin amendment, which limits fees charged to merchants for processing conventional debit cards to about 0.25 percent of the transaction value.
There are no limits for prepaid debit cards, which typically charge merchants about 1.70 percent, said David Robertson, publisher of the Nilson Report. For credit cards, the rate is about 2.05 percent.
Big banks are muscling in on a product that before Dodd-Frank was largely offered to low-income consumers by specialty companies, such as Green Dot Corp, NetSpend Holdings Inc and Meta Financial Group.
Banks such as Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp and Birmingham, Alabama-based Regions Financial Corp are also using the card to attract customers that might otherwise use check cashing services.
In June, American Express started offering prepaid cards in a bid to expand its payments business beyond the wealthy, its traditional customer base. American Express, like Chase, says that its cards are low-cost compared to others.
Fees for prepaid debit cards vary widely, and can be levied for putting money on the cards, making payments, and withdrawing cash from an ATM, among other things. According to website NerdWallet (www.nerdwallet.com/prepaid/), in one common scenario for how consumers add money and take money from their cards, yearly fees range from $37 to more than $400.
The Chase card and the U.S. Bancorp card are among the least expensive prepaid debit cards for consumers. Unlike many other cards, their monthly fees are low and they do not charge extra for typical checking account services, such as accepting cash and check deposits or using ATMs, said Anisha Sekar, vice president of credit at NerdWallet.
While deposits are free with the Chase and U.S. Bancorp cards, on other cards it can cost as much as $4.95 to add money.
- Consumer bureau checks out prepaid debit cards – The Hill’s On The Money (mbcalyn.com)
- Prepaid Debit Cards Are a Great Way for Banks to Soak the Poor [Banksters] (gawker.com)
- JPMorgan Chase Is Joining the Prepaid Debit Card Market (creditcardprocessing.net)
- Comparing Checking Account and Prepaid Debit Card Fees (bucks.blogs.nytimes.com)
- CFPB Introducing New Prepaid Debit Card Rules (bargaineering.com)
- New Rules for Prepaid Debit Cards (dealbook.nytimes.com)
- ConsumerWatch: Regulations Eyed For Prepaid Debit Cards (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
- Is a prepaid debit card a good deal? (wxyz.com)
- Prepaid Debit Cards vs. Secured Credit Cards (comparecards.com)
- Consumer protections considered for prepaid debit cards (usatoday.com)
Germany sets new solar power record, institute says
BERLIN | Sat May 26, 2012 7:02pm BST
(Reuters) – German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said.
The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.
They will be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass.
Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power per hour fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50 percent of the nation’s midday electricity needs.
“Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity,” Allnoch told Reuters. “Germany came close to the 20 gigawatt (GW) mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over.”
The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world’s leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed.
Government-mandated support for renewables has helped Germany became a world leader in renewable energy and the country gets about 20 percent of its overall annual electricity from those sources.
Germany has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined and gets about four percent of its overall annual electricity needs from the sun alone. It aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
Some critics say renewable energy is not reliable enough nor is there enough capacity to power major industrial nations. But Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany is eager to demonstrate that is indeed possible.
The jump above the 20 GW level was due to increased capacity this year and bright sunshine nationwide.
The 22 GW per hour figure is up from about 14 GW per hour a year ago. Germany added 7.5 GW of installed power generation capacity in 2012 and 1.8 GW more in the first quarter for a total of 26 GW capacity.
“This shows Germany is capable of meeting a large share of its electricity needs with solar power,” Allnoch said. “It also shows Germany can do with fewer coal-burning power plants, gas-burning plants and nuclear plants.”
Allnoch said the data is based on information from the European Energy Exchange (EEX), a bourse based in Leipzig.
The incentives through the state-mandated “feed-in-tariff” (FIT) are not without controversy, however. The FIT is the lifeblood for the industry until photovoltaic prices fall further to levels similar for conventional power production.
Utilities and consumer groups have complained the FIT for solar power adds about 2 cents per kilowatt/hour on top of electricity prices in Germany that are already among the highest in the world with consumers paying about 23 cents per kw/h.
German consumers pay about 4 billion euros ($5 billion) per year on top of their electricity bills for solar power, according to a 2012 report by the Environment Ministry.
Critics also complain growing levels of solar power make the national grid more less stable due to fluctuations in output.
Merkel’s centre-right government has tried to accelerate cuts in the FIT, which has fallen by between 15 and 30 percent per year, to nearly 40 percent this year to levels below 20 cents per kw/h. But the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, has blocked it.
- Germany sets new solar-power record, equal to 20 nuclear plants at full capacity (uk.reuters.com)
- Germany sets new solar power record, institute says (reuters.com)
- Germany Sets New Solar Power Record (hardware.slashdot.org)
- German Company Installs Record-Breaking 1GW of Solar Power (energyrefuge.com)
- Germany Swaps Nuclear for Solar and Wind Power (yesmagazine.org)
- Solar power gets public vote (evoenergy.co.uk)
- Germany Close to Slashing Solar Subsidies (triplepundit.com)
- Solar power to generate majority of electricity by 2060 (evoenergy.co.uk)
- Saudi Arabia Promises $109 Billion in Solar Power Investment (inhabitat.com)
- Military Base Solar Takes Aim At Gird Parity (earthtechling.com)
Facebook, banks sued over pre-IPO analyst calls
Wed May 23, 2012 11:02am EDT
(Reuters) – Facebook Inc and banks including Morgan Stanley were sued by the social networking leader’s shareholders, who claimed the defendants hid Facebook’s weakened growth forecasts ahead of its $16 billion initial public offering.
The defendants, who also include Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, were accused of concealing from investors during the IPO marketing process “a severe and pronounced reduction” in revenue growth forecasts, resulting from increased use of its app or website through mobile devices. Facebook went public last week.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Wednesday, according to a law firm for the plaintiffs. A day earlier, a similar lawsuit by a different investor was filed in a California state court, according to a law firm involved in that case.
In the New York case, shareholders said research analysts at several underwriters had lowered their business forecasts for Facebook during the IPO process, but that these changes were “selectively disclosed by defendants to certain preferred investors” rather than to the public generally.
“The value of Facebook common stock has declined substantially and plaintiffs and the class have sustained damages as a result,” the complaint said.
Representatives of Facebook and Morgan Stanley did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Facebook shares fell 18.4 percent from their $38 IPO price in the first three days of trading, reducing the value of stock sold in the IPO by more than $2.9 billion.
(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Lisa Von Ahn)
- Insight: Morgan Stanley cut Facebook estimates just before IPO – Yahoo! News (mbcalyn.com)
- Morgan Stanley investigated over its dealings with Facebook’s IPO (theinformativereport.com)
- Facebook IPO Furor: Feds Probing Deal Over Insider Bank Warnings (business.time.com)
- Morgan Stanley Facing Investigation Over Pre-IPO Downgrade of Facebook (theatlanticwire.com)
- Facebook IPO Draws Increased Scrutiny (newsy.com)
- Massachusetts Joins Growing Crowd Probing Facebook IPO (pcmag.com)
- Mass. Secretary of Commonwealth Subpoenas Morgan Stanley Over Facebook (bostinno.com)
- Feds to probe Facebook IPO; stock continues to fall (mercurynews.com)
- Facebook Estimates Cut By Morgan Stanley Just Before IPO (snspost.com)