Casino money ready to flow - Columbus Dispatch Casino money ready to flow - Columbus Dispatch

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Casino money ready to flow - Columbus Dispatch

Casino money ready to flow - Columbus Dispatch
By  Joanne Huist Smith

DAYTON DAILY NEWS Saturday May 19, 2012 5:17 AM


Guards await the arrival of the first players at the downtown Horseshoe Casino Cleveland before its opening on Monday.

Pro-gambling interests have invested heavily on a simple bet: There is money to be made in Ohio.

Construction costs alone for four casinos will approach $1.5 billion. Millions more were spent convincing Ohioans that casino gambling would give the state a much-needed economic jolt — a campaign debt that as of January was still being paid off.

As the state’s first casino opened in Cleveland on Monday, a review by the Dayton Daily News showed that as of January, subsidiaries of Penn National Gaming Inc. and Rock Gaming were still making contributions to the group that led the 2009 campaign to amend the Ohio constitution and allow casinos in Ohio.

Penn National and Rock each will develop two of the Ohio casinos, which will open in stages through the spring of 2013.

“I don’t know the casino business, but I do know a lot of money flows through it,” state Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, said. “I don’t know if they would have invested all that money into a campaign if they felt the risks outweighed the benefits.”

The opening of the $350 million Horseshoe Casino Cleveland will be followed by the $320 million Hollywood Casino Toledo, the $400 million Hollywood Casino Columbus and the $400 million Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati.

The building bonanza follows one of the most-expensive issue campaigns in the history of Ohio, as gambling companies sold voters on a promise of jobs if allowed to open casinos in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo.

According to campaign-finance reports filed in January with the Ohio secretary of state, Rock and Penn subsidiaries made $1.8 million in in-kind contributions to the Ohio Jobs and Growth Committee, the political-action committee that led the 2009 Ohio Issue 3 campaign effort. The donation of anything of value is considered an in-kind contribution, such as if a donor pays a consultant’s fee or a printing bill for services provided to a campaign.

Bob Tenenbaum, spokesman for the PAC and for Penn National, which is building the casinos in Toledo and Columbus, said the contributions are paying off obligations incurred during the campaign. State records show those contributions funded campaign strategy, voter outreach and consulting fees.

“This is a significant amount of money, but Ohio is a large state,” said Tenenbaum, whose company also is considering relocating a harness-racing track to Dayton.

Supporters of the ballot issue overall contributed a little more than $47 million in cash and $18 million for in-kind services to the PAC from 2009 through December 2011.

State Rep. Clayton Luckie, D-Dayton, who supported the casino ballot issue and favors allowing slot machines at Ohio’s seven horse-racing tracks, said the campaign contributions were private funds, and the companies’ prerogative to make.

“It was their money. I’m glad they chose to spend it in Ohio,” Luckie said. “Our constituents were gambling anyway in other states. Now, we have more control over it.”

No magic bullet

The billion-dollar bet that gambling companies placed on bringing casinos to Ohio shows how convinced they are there is money to be made here. But, state officials and economists say gambling alone won’t create the economic windfall some expect.

Overall, Ohio’s four casinos and video lottery terminals proposed for the state’s horse tracks are expected to generate revenue of about $2.7 billion a year, said Rob Nichols, spokesman for Gov. John Kasich. The state’s estimated annual take: $475 million a year from the casinos and $425 million from the slot machines, once all are operational.

“It’s helpful. Is it a magic bullet? Absolutely not,” Nichols said. “Ohio can’t expect gaming to lead the state back to prosperity. It’s going to take more than that.”

Peter Vanderhart, a professor of economics at Bowling Green State University, said he doesn’t think the casinos will have a dramatic impact on the state’s economy, although they will keep some Ohioans from spending their entertainment dollars at out-of-state casinos.

“I wouldn’t call it a bold new era,” Vanderhart said. “At the end of the day, these are service and entertainment jobs. It’s not like manufacturing, where you export a product that brings money back.”

Beagle said he thinks Ohioans have reason to be optimistic, as it appears the state is turning an economic corner. While it remains an unknown whether casinos will be the economic engine that supporters predicted, Beagle said the industry is creating jobs.

It was that prospect that drove many voters to support the casino issue in 2009, which was the state’s fifth major gambling referendum in two decades. A telephone survey of 687 voters, conducted a month before the election by the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research for Ohio’s major newspapers, found a majority (53 percent) of casino backers cited the prospect of new jobs as the most important reason for their support of the issue.

The promise to voters made by the Issue 3 campaign: the casinos would create 34,000 jobs — 19,000 construction jobs and 15,000 permanent jobs.

Last week, Nichols said the state did not have an updated jobs number for the casinos, and Tenenbaum said it still is too early to tell how many jobs will be created.

But, he added, “We said 1,200 permanent jobs at the Toledo (casino), and we’ve already surpassed that and we’re not even open.”

Social consequences

Beagle said that voters made it clear they were ready for casinos in Ohio when they passed Issue 3.

“I have hope for great success for the casinos,” he said. “I’m optimistic for the economic benefits, but I also understand there are social costs.”

Ohio lawmakers are preparing for the potential social impact of gambling on communities by earmarking funds for addiction services, Beagle said. The version of HB 386, an overhaul of state gambling laws passed by the state Senate on Wednesday, would give the Ohio Lottery Commission discretion on how much video-slot-machine revenue to earmark — up to 1 percent — for gambling-addiction services.

A conference committee of House and Senate members will meet to reconcile differences between the two versions of the bill.

Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, said she’s concerned about the proliferation of gambling in Ohio, beyond the four casinos.

“My sense is that every time we turn around, we’re discussing another venue: video lottery terminals at racetracks, charity card rooms,” Lehner said. “My concern is that we’re seeing an explosion of gambling without paying any real attention to the consequences.”

She said the state needs to pay more attention to gambling addictions and crime related to gaming.

Robert Walgate of the American Policy Roundtable, a conservative, anti-gambling group, has been making the case for three decades that casino gambling and good government don’t mix. Currently, the Roundtable leads a number of plaintiffs in a suit filed to enforce the constitutional language of Ohio Ballot Issue 3.

“Once voters say yes to ‘limited’ casino gambling, the industry takes yes to never mean no,” Walgate said. “Sadly, the governor and Statehouse politicians are only too willing to please the new casino overlords. The voters have been kicked to the curb along with the constitution.”

Financial Times: Ukraine's boycott blues -

ShaMaran Petroleum Corp : ShaMaran Q1 2012 Financial and Operating Results - 4-traders (press release)

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - May 19, 2012) - ShaMaran Petroleum Corp. (TSX VENTURE:SNM)(OMX:SNM)  ("ShaMaran" or the "Company") is pleased to announce its financial and operating results for the three months ended March 31, 2012.


  • The Appraisal Work Program and Budget on the Atrush Block has been approved by the KRG. The Program consists of 3D seismic and a number of appraisal wells and studies.
  • 3D seismic acquisition on the Atrush Block is in progress and on schedule to be completed by the end of June 2012. Preparations for the Atrush-2 appraisal well are near complete and well spud is expected by end of May 2012. Planning for an Early Well Test facility and a third appraisal well is also underway.
  • Location construction and contracting is on schedule for a June 2012 spud of the Taza-1 exploration well. The Romfor-101 drilling rig has been contracted to drill the well. The well is targeting the proven regional Tertiary reservoirs of the Miocene Jeribe formation which is confirmed as oil-bearing and highly productive at the on trend Sarqala-1 well, the Miocene Euphrates formation and the Oligocene Kirkuk Group.
  • The Company signed final binding agreements with the KRG in January 2012 to relinquish the 60% working interests previously held in each of the Arbat and Pulkhana Production Sharing Contracts ("PSCs"). An amount of $25 million was paid in January 2012 to the KRG as relinquishment fees and the agreements relieve the Company of any further obligations under these PSCs. Disappointing testing results from the Pulkhana 9 well led the Company to this decision.
  • In February 2012 the Company received a Detailed Property Report ("the Report") from its independent qualified resources evaluator, McDaniel & Associates Consultants Ltd. The Report is as at December 31, 2011 and includes 124,782 Mboe as best estimate of Gross Estimated Contingent Resources and 87,910 Mboe as the unrisked best estimate of Gross Estimated Prospective Resources net to ShaMaran for the Company's two assets. These estimates are exclusive of amounts relating to the Pulkhana and Arbat Blocks which were relinquished in January 2012. 
  • On April 2, 2012 the Company secured short term financing of $10 million from two related parties. 
  • The Company reported a net loss of $26.1 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2012 (2011: $0.5 million net income). The cash balance of the Company was $5.7 million as at March 31, 2012 (December 31, 2011: $49.1 million).

Financial and Operating Results for the three months ended March 31, 2012

(Unaudited: Expressed in thousands of United States Dollars)

During the three months ended March 31, 2012 the Company continued its exploration campaign in respect of the Taza and Atrush Block petroleum properties in Kurdistan constituting the continuing operations of the Company. These properties currently generate no revenues. The net loss in the quarter was driven by one-time relinquishment fees totaling $25 million which were relating to the relinquishment of the Pulkhana and Arbat Block PSCs paid to the KRG in January 2012.

Condensed Interim Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income
(Unaudited: Expressed in thousands of United States Dollars)
Three months ended March 31,
2012 2011
Expenses from continuing operations
General and administrative expenses (384 ) (164 )
Share based payments recovery / (expense) 2 (59 )
Depreciation and amortisation expense (49 ) (52 )
Relinquishment costs (25,732 ) -
Impairment losses (248 ) -
Share of loss of associate (66 ) (79 )
Operating loss (26,477 ) (354 )
Finance costs - (227 )
Finance income 391 1,162
Net finance income 391 935
Income / (loss) before income tax expense (26,086 ) 581
Income tax expense (24 ) (41 )
Net income / (loss) from continuing operations (26,110 ) 540
Discontinued operations
Loss from discontinued operations (37 ) (78 )
Net income / (loss) for the period (26,147 ) 462
Other comprehensive income:
Currency translation differences 33 36
Total other comprehensive income 33 36
Total comprehensive income / (loss) for the period (26,114 ) 498
Condensed Interim Consolidated Balance Sheet
(Unaudited: Expressed in thousands of United States Dollars)
March 31, December 31,
2012 2011
Non-current assets
Intangible assets 48,262 45,836
Property, plant and equipment 210 382
Investment in associate 51,769 51,835
100,241 98,053
Current assets
Other current assets 377 647
Inventories 1,713 3,328
Other receivables 1,347 105
Cash and cash equivalents 5,670 49,085
9,107 53,165
Assets associated with discontinued operations 12 21
Total assets 109,360 151,239
Current liabilities
Accounts payable and accrued expenses 7,673 23,245
Current tax liabilities 120 122
7,793 23,367
Liabilities associated with discontinued operations 2,424 2,613
Total liabilities 10,217 25,980
Share capital 533,349 533,349
Share based payments reserve 3,826 3,828
Cumulative translation adjustment 15 (18 )
Accumulated deficit (438,047 ) (411,900 )
Total equity 99,143 125,259
Total liabilities and equity 109,360 151,239

The cash position of the Company decreased by $43.4 million during first quarter of 2012. The main reasons for the decrease in the cash position was the payment to the KRG of $25 million in relinquishment fees and the outflow of funds to decrease accounts payable and accrued expenses by$15.6 million. In addition the Company spend $2.4 on its continuing exploration activities in Kurdistan. The Company received $10 million in short term financing subsequent to the reporting period on April 2, 2012 and has a number of additional financing possibilities which will be pursued as required. The Company is confident that it will obtain the resources sufficient to satisfy its contractual obligations and commitments under the agreed budgets.

Condensed Interim Consolidated Cash Flow Statement
(Unaudited: Expressed in thousands of United States Dollars)
Three months ended March 31,
2012 2011
Operating activities
Net income / (loss) for the period from continuing operations (26,110 ) 540
Adjustments for:
Interest income (24 ) (109 )
Foreign exchange gain (367 ) (1,053 )
Depreciation and amortisation expense 49 52
Income tax (2 ) 43
Impairment losses 248 -
Share-based payment recovery / (expense) (2 ) 59
Share of loss of associates 66 79
Capitalized expenses - (191 )
Changes in trade and other receivables (1,242 ) (18 )
Changes in other current assets 270 (269 )
Changes in inventories 1,302 (863 )
Changes in accounts payable and accrued expenses (15,572 ) 2,280
Cash used in discontinued operations (217 ) (188 )
Net cash inflows / (outflows) from operating activities (41,601 ) 362
Investing activities
Intangible assets (2,432 ) (5,003 )
Property, plant and equipment 194 (37 )
Investment in associate - (4,000 )
Interest received on cash deposits 24 109
Net cash outflows to investing activities (2,214 ) (8,931 )
Financing activities
Proceeds net of costs on issuance of shares - 56
Net cash inflows from financing activities - 56
Effect of exchange rate changes on cash and cash equivalents 400 1,089
Change in cash and cash equivalents (43,415 ) (7,424 )
Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of the period 49,085 58,684
Cash and cash equivalents, end of the period 5,670 51,260


The outlook for the year 2012 for the two blocks which the Company holds interests in Kurdistan is as follows:

Atrush Block

The operating company (GEP) had completed half of the planned initial 275 square kilometers for the 3D seismic acquisition program by the end of December 2011 (Phase 1) when operations were suspended because of winter weather. Subsequently planned 3D coverage has been expanded to cover a total of 310 square kilometers. Operations to acquire the balance portion of the 3D Seismic (Phase Two) recommenced during the first quarter 2012 and are on schedule to be completed by the end of second quarter 2012. Preparations for the Atrush-2 are near complete. The rig contract was awarded to DQE International and the well spud is expected before the end of May 2012. Atrush-2 is estimated to take 65 days and has a planned total depth of 1,750m. The well is situated approximately 3.5 km east of the Atrush-1 well and is planned as an appraisal of the Jurassic oil discovery.

The processed Phase One 3D seismic will be used to select a drilling location for Atrush-3. Tendering is also in progress for an Early Well Test facility (EWT) that is planned to be commissioned before the end of the year 2012. GEP also plans to re-enter and recomplete the Atrush-1 well for production so that it can be connected to the EWT along with Atrush-2. The complete processed 3D seismic from both phases will be used to select drilling candidates for the 2013 drilling campaign.

Taza Block

Preparations for drilling the first Taza exploration well continued during the first quarter. The surface location for the well was approved and civil engineering works for site access and well site are under way. Work is on schedule for the planned commencement of drilling operations before the end of June 2012. The Taza-1 well is estimated to take 102 days, has a planned total depth of 3,250m and is targeting proven regionally productive Tertiary reservoirs of the Jeribe, Euphrates & Kirkuk Group.

New Ventures

As part of its normal business the Company continues to evaluate new opportunities in the region.

About ShaMaran

ShaMaran Petroleum Corp. is a Kurdistan focused oil development and exploration vehicle. It has two projects in the region: the Atrush Block and Taza Block (formerly K42) exploration blocks. These projects are nearby and on trend with existing fields and recent discoveries.

Kurdistan lies within the northern extension of the Zagros Folded Belt. The area is highly underexplored and is currently undergoing a significant exploration and development campaign by over 40 mid to large size international oil companies.

ShaMaran Petroleum is a Canadian oil and gas company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange and the NASDAQ OMX First North Exchange (Stockholm) under the symbol "SNM".

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains statements about expected or anticipated future events and financial results that are forward-looking in nature and, as a result, are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, such as legal and political risk, civil unrest, general economic, market and business conditions, the regulatory process and actions, technical issues, new legislation, competitive and general economic factors and conditions, the uncertainties resulting from potential delays or changes in plans, the occurrence of unexpected events and management's capacity to execute and implement its future plans. Actual results may differ materially from those projected by management. Further, any forward-looking information is made only as of a certain date and the Company undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking information or statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which such statement is made or reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events, except as may be required by applicable securities laws. New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management of the Company to predict all of these factors and to assess in advance the impact of each such factor on the Company's business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking information.

On behalf of the Board,

Pradeep Kabra, President and CEO

Financial Advice for Surviving a Job Loss - PRLog (free press release)
PRLog (Press Release) - May 19, 2012 -
Whether you are laid off indefinitely or your position is terminated altogether, losing your primary source of income can be terrifying. Being proactive from the get-go can help you maintain a more comfortable lifestyle until you replace your lost income. Here are some tips for getting by when the unexpected happens. CLICK HERE Now to Check Out Non Profit Credit Card Consolidation!

Be up-front with your creditors. Contact your lenders to see if you can negotiate lower payments or otherwise alter your payment terms temporarily. If you have student loans, for instance, you can generally put your loans into forbearance or defer them due to financial hardship. Many creditors will require proof that your income has changed, so be prepared to offer documentation.

Give up services that you can live without. While it may be painful to go without Netflix, satellite or cable TV, a lawn service or other luxuries, trimming these unnecessary costs can help you preserve your savings and have more money to put toward necessities. Some suggest giving up your cell phone or home Internet, but if these are your only points of contact for potential job offers, it is probably worth it to keep them connected.

Consider a less expensive form of transportation. If you have a hefty car loan and expensive insurance, downgrading to a used vehicle may be a good idea. Better yet, if you have access to public transportation, consider getting rid of one or more automobiles altogether. CLICK HERE now to check out Non Profit Credit Card Consolidation Now!

Alter your grocery-buying habits. If you tend to shop wherever it is most convenient, you are probably missing out on big savings. Pay attention to circulars to find the best deals on the foods you purchase the most. You can also get more bang for your buck by shopping at discount stores and by buying staples like rice, beans, and flour in bulk. Use your time off to learn some new recipes; cooking from scratch can save you lots of money.

Do not turn to your credit cards unless you truly have no other options. Racking up significant debt, especially for non-essential expenses, will simply make it much harder to catch up when you find a new job or return to your old one. Save these lines of credit for true emergencies, such as car repairs.

Find a way to make extra money, however little. Use the free time you have left after searching for jobs to perform side jobs like lawn mowing, tutoring or giving lessons. Advertise your services in free classifieds, Craigslist or local bulletin boards.

Apply for help from the government. Depending on the circumstances of your job loss, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. Look into your options right away, because in some localities, unemployment doesn't kick in immediately. Also, investigate services like SNAP and WIC, depending on the size and composition of your family. These programs provide debit cards or vouchers for purchasing food.

Unemployment can be a difficult and stressful time for your family. With these tips for making ends meet, however, you can reduce your struggles and stay afloat while searching for your next source of income. CLICK HERE Now to Check Out Non Profit Credit Card Consolidation!

Aquino has nothing to fear from anti-money laundering law, says spokeswoman - Global Nation

By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer

President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III has nothing to hide and has nothing to fear from the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act even when he’s no longer the Chief Executive.

Reacting to Senator Joker Arroyo’s comments that the anti-money laundering law may be used by a vindictive administration against officials of a past regime, Abigail Valte, one of the President’s spokespersons, said Mr Aquino “has no apprehension regarding such things.”

“The President has always been willing to answer any issue that has been thrown at him,” Valte said on radio. “The President has always been very upfront with what he has and he‘s always been very willing to answer questions on it.”

Valte said that even before President Aquino’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth for 2011 was released, he already indicated the increase in his net worth because of his inheritance of the entire Times Street residence from his late parents.

Arroyo has been quoted as saying that he and Senator Edgardo Angara warned then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo about the dangers of an anti-money laundering law.

Recent Stories:

Tags: anti-money laundering law , Benigno Aquino III , Government , Politics , SALN

Purchase home with some financial due diligence - Economic Times
In his mid-thirties , Sridhar is contemplating on buying a house. While the food inflation breached the doubledigit mark recently, the overall inflation shows no sign of taming down. Amidst the reigning financial uncertainties , Sridhar is undecided on taking a home loan to the tune of Rs 50 lakhs. A home loan is a huge financial burden and borrowers must have a safety net in place.

Is your safety net in place?

Optimum loan amount

How should you arrive at the right amount to borrow? The number of dependents, other debts, additional sources of income, expenditure level and interest rates has a direct bearing on the right loan amount.
Lenders know pretty well that borrowers cannot afford to spend more than 40 percent of their gross salary towards a home loan repayment. When estimating the home loan amount, ensure that you take into account additional costs like stamp duty and other legal fees.

Consider a scenario where Sridhar takes a loan to the tune of Rs 40 lakhs. For a tenure of 15 years, at a 10 percent rate of interest , his monthly EMI is Rs 43,000. If Sridhar's loan amount was Rs 60 lakhs, his EMI will be Rs 64,000.

Borrowing less translates to lesser monthly financial commitment towards a home loan.

Factor in rate increase

Floating rate loans can fluctuate in either direction . A drop in the rate will translate into monthly savings . On the contrary, a rate hike can lead to increased financial outgo.

Consider a loan amount of Rs 40 lakhs. For a tenure of 15 years, at a 10 percent rate of interest, Sridhar's monthly EMI is around Rs 43,000. If the interest rate goes to 15 percent, the EMI is Rs 56,000.

If a borrower has to pay the increase in EMIs over the years, they will become difficult to manage without a sound financial plan. Hence, factor in rate increases when calculating your loan repayments.

Build a contingency fund

It is recommended that you have three to six months' salary in your cash reserve. This contingency buffer should be expanded in the event of an increase in outstanding debts, more dependents or greater expenditure .

Failing to build a contingency buffer before taking a home loan could prove to be difficult in the event of an unexpected expenditure.

Have protection plan in place

There are numerous home insurance plans targeted at home loan borrowers . They provide cover to a home loan in the event of any unforeseen event happening to the borrower . In such a situation, the family of the borrower will have the support of the insurance cover to pay for the outstanding home loan, without being burdened by monthly EMIs. Read the terms well before narrowing on a home loan insurance product.

A borrower must aim to be debt-free soon. In the event of a financial windfall , try to repay your outstanding debt towards the home loan. A home is a precious asset to which the family has an emotional attachment . Build a financial safety net so that your home purchase process is without glitches.

Road money is still just a trickle - Vancouver Business Journal
JAMES CITY — With road money reduced to a trickle, look for no new projects in the next six years. Officials project $1.14 million, with just $227,377 starting July 1.

The six-year plan released this week reflects last year’s priorities since nothing has changed.

Someday: Olde Towne Road will be straightened at the sharp turn in front of The Colonies at Williamsburg. When the timeshares were developed, VDOT gave up surplus right-of-way for buffers and The Colonies gave up land to fix the curve. The project will cost $2.66 million.

Croaker Road will be widened to four lanes from Richmond Road to the James City County Library. The project includes replacing a new two-lane bridge over the train tracks. The total project cost is $12.67 million, of which $984,211 is already funded.

Longhill Road will expand to four lanes between Route 199 and Olde Towne Road and get sidewalks. The road is already over capacity. The project will cost $11.8 million, with about $135,000 in hand.

County officials consider this project the most urgent, but Olde Towne and Croaker will likely reach the construction phase beforehand.

Racefield Drive would be paved under a project that sets aside money annually until enough has accrued to complete a project. So far, the county has $69,000 toward $177,600 needed.

Hicks Island Bridge over Diascund Creek will be replaced under a similar funding scheme. The bridge has a low sufficiency rating and has been pinpointed by VDOT as priority for replacement. The project will cost $726,000, of which $280,800 is funded.

The Board of Supervisors will review the priorities next week.

Want to go?The supervisors will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, in Building F of the County Government Complex, off Mounts Bay Road.

The Five Best And Worst Cities For Financial Well-Being (PHOTOS) - Huffington Post

Some towns are getting along in this economy better than others.

A report issued this week from the credit counseling agency CredAbility offers some encouraging signs, but also serves as a reminder that the economic recovery that took hold three years ago has had decidedly uneven effects.

Americans are in the best financial situation that they have been since 2008, according to CredAbility's latest Consumer Distress Index. The results factor in five measures of financial well-being -- housing prices, employment rates, credit, budgeting and net worth. Americans have made more headway this past quarter in bolstering their financial health than they made in any single quarter in the last seven years, CredAbility reports.

The index from just two months ago revealed a much grimmer overall picture, with declining net worth and budgeting problems keeping many American families in financial distress.

The addition of nearly 1.9 million jobs, improvements in auto sales and a substantial increase in housing construction translated to a modest 2.2 percent bump in economic growth during this year's first quarter.

But these promising signs don't necessarily mean good news for everyone. Recent calculations by University of California, Berkeley professor Emmanuel Saez reveal a trend toward rising income inequality. While average personal income rose from 2009 to 2010 according to the Bureau of Economic, Saez's data shows that the richest 1 percent of Americans pocketed over 90 percent of the income growth the country experienced during that time.

And there's been a similar imbalance in terms of geography. Certain areas have captured more of the economic gains in recent years, while many places hit hardest by the recession are still struggling. Furthermore, over 50 percent of the jobs added in the last six months were in low-wage sectors like retail and temporary work, which might help to explain why many cities still show signs of financial distress on the household level in spite of recent job gains.

Here are the five metropolitan areas where people are doing the best financially, according to CredAbility, and the five where they're worst off:

  • 5. BEST: Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington

    The Texas metro area is also <a href="" target="_hplink">one of the top ten places to find a job, </a>experiencing one of the highest levels of job growth in the country.

  • 4. BEST: Honolulu

    The Hawaiian capital's most recent unemployment rate, BLS data reported, <a href="" target="_hplink">was 5.7 percent </a>-- well below the national average.

  • 3. BEST: Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington

    One of the<a href="" target="_hplink"> most bike-friendly places</a> in the country, the Minneapolis metropolitan area also made the top ten chart for <a href="" target="_hplink">most educated young people</a> and was ranked third for<a href="" target="_hplink"> most literate city.</a>

  • 2. BEST: Boston

    Massachusetts recovered from the recession faster than the country as a whole and added jobs last year at a faster rate than the national average, <a href="" target="_hplink">according to</a> The state's capital holds its ground in healthcare, financial services and higher education. The <a href="" target="_hplink">fifth most literate city, </a> Boston also has the<a href="" target="_hplink"> most educated young people </a>in the country with around 40 percent holding a higher education degree.

  • 1. BEST: Washington D.C.

    D.C. has topped the charts in other ways as well. It was ranked the <a href="" target="_hplink">best city for the well-being of women</a>, reflecting the highest educational attainment, life expectancy and median earnings for women. And, the nation's capital also took the prize for the <a href="" target="_hplink">most literate city</a> in the country for two years in a row.

  • 5. WORST: Los Angeles

    Los Angeles lost its economic clout when the recession knocked out the strength of its manufacturing and retailing industries, <a href="" target="_hplink">according to the <em>New York Times.</em> </a>

  • 4. WORST: Atlanta

    Atlanta struggled to get its footing back long after the country was said to already be in recovery, <a href="" target="_hplink">according to <em>The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. </em></a> Besides the immense drop in home values after the housing bubble collapsed,<a href="" target="_hplink"> the metro area lost jobs </a>in construction, banks, architecture and other businesses, the AJC reported last year.

  • 3. WORST: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach

    Miami also previously took the title for the <a href="" target="_hplink">worst-run city in the country</a>, reflecting low economic mobility as a result of ineffective allocation of resources and poor debt management. Since the housing crisis, the area also has one of the highest rates of mortgage delinquency, according to CredAbility.

  • 2. WORST: Detroit

    Detroit's <a href="" target="_hplink">major auto manufacturing industry </a>nearly collapsed when auto sales declined during the recession. One of the hardest hit by the housing crisis, the city also suffers heavily from <a href="" target="_hplink">high rates of foreclosure</a> and <a href="" target="_hplink">falling home prices</a>. Ranked the <a href="" target="_hplink">second worst-run city</a> in the country, the city's legislators recently <a href="" target="_hplink">requested $500 million</a> in federal loans to help with mounting financial problems.

  • 1. WORST: Tampa-St. Petersburg

    Florida has suffered one of the highest unemployment rates in the <a href="" target="_hplink">country and has one of the most</a> distressed home markets in recent years. The residents in Tampa-St. Peterburg area have been struggling to make their mortgage payments since the housing boom. The area has one of the highest rates of delinquent mortgages, CredAbility reports.

Xpress Money may use the UAE as trial market for transaction service -

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Gulf News

Dubai The UAE could be one of two trial markets as the UK-headquartered payment services company Xpress Money makes a move into the individual to business (or business to individual as the case may be) transaction space. Its home market could be the other test market with the trials expected to start post-summer.

“There are very few payments facilitators who are already offering such a service capability and those who are got into it quite recently,” said Sudhesh Giriyan, who heads the regional operations at Xpress Money. “By getting in ourselves at the earliest we expect to narrow any advantage the others may have.

“As of now, we are trying to feel the market out by talking to institutional clients.”

Sources at local remittance houses reckon this is the way forward for the industry. Having institutional clients readily translates into substantial funds flowing through the remittance pipeline and that can only be a good thing for all industry players.

Xpress Money — which came into being in 1999 — only services individual to individual payments, with the UAE — where it has 350 locations operated by various exchange houses — and the GCC being one of its top transactional markets globally. Last year it entered the US and more recently Australia. The plans are to extend coverage to Latin America.

Widely rated

That is why the company wants to get into payment settlements involving individual to business and vice-versa. This category is widely rated within the industry as the next big thing.

Such services could be utilised to make an airline booking, whereby a customer can do the needful at a physical location where the Xpress Money service is available, or for a business to send salary contributions to outstation employees.

“We are formulating the systems and will also require having in place strict compliance practices,” said Giriyan. “Also, future corporate clients would need to be assured that we can provide optimum coverage through physical locations and that’s being addressed. We will also need to maintain bank accounts.

“It’s different to the typical compliance requirements for individual to individual and quite exhaustive.”

Not that remittance volumes involving individuals are showing any signs of slacking off. The estimated volumes last year through the GCC corridor were estimated at $76 billion (Dh278.9 billion). Saudi Arabia alone would account for more than $25 billion, enough to place it among the Top Three worldwide.

“But it’s still the US that is the biggest remittance market by far and the recession does not seem to have had any impact,” said Giriyan. “Last year it was estimated at $51.6 billion and it’s not difficult to see why — the whole of Latin America depends on individual remittances coming out of the US and so are many markets in Asia.

“China, India and Mexico remain the biggest recipients of remittance transactions, which goes to show that customer to customer volumes are not saturated. But customer to business opens up a whole new stream of opportunities.”

By Manoj Nair?Associate Editor

© Gulf News 2012. All rights reserved.

Football: Money troubles raises corruption risk - Channel NewsAsia

Football: Money troubles raises corruption risk
Posted: 19 May 2012 1817 hrs

ZAGREB: There are thousands of players like Mario Cizmek in football, professionals who never fulfilled their early promise yet whose passion for the game takes them to unfashionable clubs to earn a living from the game they love.

Cizmek represented his native Croatia at under-20 and under-21 level. A diagnosis of diabetes halted his rise and he never made it to the big leagues. Instead he became a journeyman, playing for clubs as far afield as Israel and Iceland.

The 36-year-old midfielder, though, has since made a name for himself for the wrong reasons after admitting involvement in fixing eight matches in 2010, raising the prospect of time in jail and a ban from playing the sport for life.

Cizmek said his life started to unravel after his club, Croatia Sesvete, failed to pay his salary, which amounted to roughly 3,000 euros (about $3,900) a month.

"A month or two is not a problem but I did not get my wages for a full year," he told AFP.

He owed the state about 35,000 euros (dollars) in taxes and social contributions and did not want to ask friends and family for loans anymore.

"You lose your dignity and become an easy target," he said, revealing how the organisers of the match-fixing worked on cultivating susceptible players for months.

Cizmek said he received between 2,000 and 3,000 euros ($2,600-3,900) a match and was one of 15 players and football officials sentenced by a Zagreb court last December for rigging eight Croatian First Division (HNL) matches.

For that, he was sentenced to 10 months in jail in the country's first trial of its kind. He is now waiting for Croatia's Supreme Court to give its final ruling. If it finds against him, he will go to prison.

Cizmek stressed that the difficulties he faced did not justify his behaviour and now wants his experience to serve as an example to young players tempted to follow the same path.

"You get just a bit and you can lose almost everything," he said. "Football was my whole life and I lost it," he said.

"You feel so stupid and miserable... thinking, 'How is it possible that I'm doing this after a honest career spanning 20 years?'"

Cizmek, though, is not an isolated case in the global game.

In Turkey, nearly 100 people, including officials and players from top sides like Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Besiktas, are currently on trial over claims that at least 19 first and second division matches were fixed during the 2010-11 season.

Italian prosecutors are also grappling with fresh claims of graft, six years after current Serie A champions Juventus were stripped of two league titles and relegated to Serie B for trying to influence refereeing appointments.

Corruption allegations have also rocked the fledgling league in China, while the probe in Croatia was launched in late 2009 after German police provided information about match-rigging and betting fraud across Europe.

Football's world governing body FIFA has launched a new drive against corruption in the game, including an appeal for assistance to Interpol and the establishment of protection programmes for those who blow the whistle on match-fixing.

FIFA estimates that between 400 and 500 billion euros are generated each year by betting on sport -- both legal and illegal -- with between five and 15 billion euros stemming from fixed matches, making it hugely attractive for organised crime.

But in a special "Black Book", the global football players union FIFPro said there was "a clear link between the non-payment of wages and match-fixing".

It found that more than 40 per cent of professional players in 12 Eastern European countries did not have their salaries paid on time.

Cizek said the reality of fixing matches is more mundane than simply making mistakes on the pitch and with most first division sides in Croatia struggling financially, it's easy to see how players can succumb to temptation.

"There were eight of us (from the same club involved in match-fixing) on the pitch, it was enough just not to play with 100 percent effort," he explained.

Marketing and sponsorship income have dropped dramatically in less high-profile leagues like Croatia due to the economic crisis, while poor quality games and fans turned off by a string of scandals has left clubs playing to almost empty stadiums.

Anti-graft prosecutors in Croatia suspect several top football officials of taking bribes and fixing matches.

"The current situation within Croatian football is the most critical ever" since the former Yugoslav republic gained independence in 1991, said leading sports journalist Robert Matteoni.

"The main problem is poor management of the federation and clubs, which are on verge of financial collapse."

The Croatian league has vowed to slim down from 16 clubs currently to just 10 by 2014.

"Simply, Croatia's economic environment cannot support 16 professional clubs," added Croatian football federation (HNS) secretary-general Zorislav Srebric.

To tackle the problem, Croatia's centre-left government is drafting a new law on sports aimed at bringing more transparency in management and money flows.

Changes in the football federation leadership are also imminent, media reports have suggested.

- AFP/fa

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