American Financial to refinance $200 million in debt - The Business Journal American Financial to refinance $200 million in debt - The Business Journal

Thursday, June 7, 2012

American Financial to refinance $200 million in debt - The Business Journal

American Financial to refinance $200 million in debt - The Business Journal

American Financial Group  Inc. plans to refinance nearly $200 million in debt, it said Thursday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

American Financial (NYSE: AFG) said it plans to issue senior notes and use the money it borrows and cash on hand, if necessary, to pay off $112.5 million in senior notes. It pays a 7.5 percent interest rate on those notes, which are due in November 2033. American Financial also will pay off $86.3 million in 7.25 percent notes that are due in January 2034.

If it has money left over from the debt offering, American Financial plans to pay off part of the $115 million in 7.1 percent debt that is also due in 2034, it said in the filing. It could also use additional money it raises for general working capital purposes.

The downtown-based insurer didn’t say how much it plans to raise in the debt offering, what the interest rate will be or when it will make the offering. It will provide that information later.

American Financial’s stock rose 17 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $39.42 in mid-morning trading Thursday.


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Carver Federal Savings Bank Partners With Nexxo Financial Corporation to Provide Underbanked Consumers New Services With Less Hassle and Cost -

Carver Federal Savings Bank is leading the next generation of banking by providing financial services not traditionally offered by banks. By partnering with Nexxo Financial Corporation, Carver is adding four user-friendly kiosks at ATMs around New York City where underbanked consumers can access alternative financial services conveniently and affordably. Nexxo developed this technology to bring a full range of services together in one unique bank-in-a-box kiosk.

Starting in July, Carver's new and existing customers will be able to quickly and easily cash checks, buy money orders, load pre-paid cards, pay bills, and send money. After this pilot, Carver expects to add twenty more kiosks later in the year.

"We're making lives easier for our consumers by offering much needed alternative financial services without the frustration and expense they experience now. With Nexxo's technology, we can expand cost-effectively to offer our community access around the clock at convenient locations," said Ed Sheerins, Vice President, Head of Branch Administration, Carver Federal Savings Bank.

"Carver is redefining banking by launching a suite of product and services through Carver Community Cash, allowing more of our community residents who have been marginalized to enter or re-enter the banking system. Our goal is to meet the immediate needs of community residents, while providing financial education, access to savings, credit, and other traditional financial services. Our partnership with Nexxo provides Carver an additional delivery channel, giving us more access into our communities," said Deborah C. Wright, Chairman and CEO of Carver Federal Savings Bank.

"Carver was intrigued with our one-stop shopping solution. Now their customers can simply register once, complete most transactions within one minute, and be remembered on their next visit," said Freddie Seba, Vice President Business Development, Nexxo Financial Corporation.

Nexxo technology has been successfully used by retailers for more than six years at 200+ locations in California alone. In fact, Nexxo has processed more than $1 billion at these retail, grocery, and convenience stores. Now financial services companies are seeking to partner with Nexxo to expand their own services.

May saw Nexxo's first partnership with a credit union when Centris Federal Credit Union launched nine kiosks in branches and grocery stores around its Omaha, Nebraska, headquarters. The new partnership with Carver will expand Nexxo's reach in two ways: into the East Coast and into the African-American and Caribbean communities.

The FDIC estimates 60 million people don't use traditional banks for their alternative financial services. Instead, underbanked consumers go to multiple locations and pay high fees to complete their transactions. The financial services industry is transforming dramatically to better meet this growing need. Serving the underbanked market is the hot topic at the 7th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum, presented with the Center for Financial Services Innovation, June 13th through 15th in San Francisco.

Both Seba and Sheerins are speaking at the 7th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum, and both Nexxo and Carver have booths on the exhibit floor.

Carver Federal Savings Bank is the largest African American-operated bank in the United States. It is headquartered in Harlem, and nearly all of its nine branches and stand-alone 24/7 ATM centers are located in or adjacent to low-to-moderate income neighborhoods.

About Nexxo
Founded in 2003, Nexxo is the leader in self-serve financial solutions. Its Everyday Financial Services Platform (EFS) offers a unified, customer-centric solution that seamlessly handles multiple products (check cashing, money transfer, bill pay, money orders, prepaid card servicing, and phone minute top-ups) and multiple channels (self-serve kiosk, teller-assisted desktop, and via mobile phone). With more than four million transactions and $1 billion processed, Nexxo's technology has been proven at hundreds of field locations. Nexxo offers its turn-key financial solutions and service applications to an expanding network of retail partners, domestic and international banks, and financial service providers. For more information, visit

About Carver Bancorp, Inc.
Carver Bancorp, Inc. is the holding company for Carver Federal Savings Bank, a federally chartered stock savings bank. Carver Federal Savings Bank, the largest African- and Caribbean-American run bank in the United States, operates nine full-service branches in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. For further information, please visit the Company's website at

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Stocks Pare Gains After Bernanke Offers No Specifics On Stimulus - Forbes

Stocks cut their gains this morning, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered muted Congressional testimony.

Bernanke told Congress that the Fed sees “significant risks” to the U.S. recovery, including a weakening employment market. But Bernanke didn’t offer any specifics about further stimulus, saying the Fed is ready to protect the fledgling recovery. “”The Federal Reserve remains prepared to take action as needed to protect the U.S. economy in the event that financial stresses escalate,” Bernanke said.

After the Dow Jones industrial average’s best performance this year on Wednesday, the blue-chip index rose to 0.7% at 12,498.65 shortly before noon. The S&P 500 gained 0.5% to 1,321.19. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.2% to 2,850.37, after rising as much as 1%.

Capital goods led the Dow higher. Caterpillar increased 2.1% to $88.45. Cummins rose 2.9% to $98.50. Deere ticked up 0.9% to $74.16.

Basic materials also experiecned early morning gains. Vale rose 4.8% to $46.98. BHP Billiton increase 2.3% to $64.21.

Equities were also boosted by upbeat employment data. Jobless claims fell to 377,000 last week from the upwardly revised 389,000 a week earlier. Economists expected claims to decline to 379,000. The four-week average rose to nearly 378,000. The fall in the weekly claims suggest the U.S. economy remains sluggish, but still capable of adding some workers.

Investors were eagerly awaiting Bernanke’s testimony, as market observers hope the recent deterioration in job growth would prompt further Fed stimulus. Just a month ago, fresh easing seemed off the table. But after a Wall Street Journal report and several Fed officials voiced concern about the weakening employment situation, it appears the Fed is again mulling whether the economy needs another spark.

It’s unknown when an official decision will come—or what stimulant tool the Fed might use. Economists say the Fed might extend Operation Twist, where it sells short-term bonds and buys. Just yesterday, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said such an extension is an “option on the table.” Or the Fed could also use another round of quantitative easing, where it buys long-term bonds to inject new money into the U.S. economy.

Does this relief rally of the past two days have legs? Not so fast, says Barclays economist Barry Knapp. Significant recent rallies required two things, he writes in a new note: Extreme bearish positioning and a policy catalyst. Investors are cautious today, not overly bearish. Meanwhile, the Fed has said nothing definitive. Knapp advises buyers stay wary.

Reach Abram Brown at Or follow him @abebrown716.


Stocks rise on Wall Street after China cuts rate - AP -

Stocks rose on Wall Street Thursday after China cut its benchmark lending rate in another bid to boost its slowing economy, but an early rally faded after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave no signal of immediate action to prop up the U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 80 points at 12,494 shortly after noon. It had been up as much as 140 points earlier. On Wednesday the stock market had its biggest gain of the year on hopes that more economic stimulus might be on the way in the U.S. and Europe.

China cut its benchmark lending rate for the first time in nearly four years, adding to efforts to reverse a sharp economic downturn. It was the first rate cut since November 2008.

"Markets received a near-term shot of adrenalin from China," said Matthew Kaufler, portfolio manager at mutual fund group Federated Investors. "China is the world's economic locomotive at the moment and it can't afford to slow down at a time when other major economies are in precarious positions."

Beijing has rolled out a series of measures to stimulate its economy after growth fell to a nearly three-year low of 8.1 percent in the first quarter and April factory output grew at its slowest rate since the 2008 crisis. Private sector analysts expect this quarter's growth to fall further.

The rate cut is a huge boost for global investors. China has been a major engine of global economic growth over the past few years as the U.S. sputtered and debt crises spread through several countries in Europe.

Industrial stocks that rely heavily on the Chinese market for sales were among the biggest gainers on the New York Stock Exchange. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar rose $1.17 to $87.83, one of the biggest gains among the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones industrial average.

The stock market pulled back a little from earlier gains after Bernanke said that the Fed remains ready to act if the economy needs it, but he didn't say any new steps were on the way.

"As always, the Federal Reserve remains prepared to take action as needed to protect the U.S. financial system and economy in the event that financial stresses escalate," Bernanke told the congressional Joint Economic Committee Thursday.

Investors have been worried because a bleaker view of the economy has taken hold in recent weeks, especially as hiring has weakened. U.S. employers added just 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year. Since averaging a robust 252,000 a month from December through February, job growth has slowed to a lackluster 96,000 a month. The U.S. economy grew at a tepid annual rate of 1.9 percent in the first three months of 2012.

Some traders had hoped that Bernanke would signal more action from the U.S. central bank after Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart said that sustained weakness in job creation could justify more action to support the economic recovery. The Fed's latest bond-buying program is scheduled to wind down at the end of this month.

Investors' fears had also been growing that a collapse of Europe's euro currency union could trigger a panic and cause a global recession.

Some of those fears were allayed Thursday on hopes that Europe is preparing to give Spain financial aid to help the country rescue its banks. Spain is reluctant to accept a full-fledged bailout from its partners in the euro because that would mean giving up control over some of its domestic policies.

Spain successfully raised $2.62 billion Thursday from the bond markets. The interest rate on its benchmark 10-year note fell to 6.02 percent from 6.26 percent late Wednesday, a big drop. Those are positive signs that bond investors are more willing to lend the country money.

In other trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose five points to 1,320 and the Nasdaq composite index rose four points to 2,848.

Among other stocks making big moves:

— Molina Healthcare plunged $7.62, or 30 percent, to $18.14, after the health insurer withdrew its 2012 profit forecast, citing a possible revenue shortfall in Texas. Molina said member claims in Hidalgo and El Paso have far exceeded its estimates and as a result, the premium revenue it is collecting there will not likely be enough to cover its medical costs.

— Men's Wearhouse dropped $5.66, 16 percent, to $29.91 after the clothing chain reported lower-than-expected results and issued a weak forecast for its second quarter.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Financial worries add to cancer patients' burden - KLTV

By E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- A small study gives a snapshot into the financial anxieties that plague many patients with advanced cancer and their spouses, even as they struggle against the disease itself.

Four of every five such American patients and their spouses-caregivers in the study said they had concerns about meeting medical costs and suffered "financial stress." Worries about paying medical costs also were tied to lower mental and physical health, the study found.

"Across the board, the longer they were in treatment or reaching the end of life, there were [financial] concerns. There were concerns whether it came to their own well-being or their families' well-being," said study lead author Fay Hlubocky, a clinical psychologist and ethicist at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

She reported the findings this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), in Chicago.

The study involved 52 patients with advanced cancers, all of whom were enrolled in clinical trials, and their spouses. While patients in clinical trials are a slightly different group than that seen in the general population (because some expenses of treatment may be paid for), Hlubocky said the numbers from her study "are borne out in the literature generally" for patients battling cancer outside of such trials.

Patients ranged in age from 28 to 78, with a median age of 61. All were married, two-thirds had more than a high school education, and just over half made less than $65,000 a year. Forty-five percent of the patients were employed, as were two-thirds of spouses-caregivers. Each patient and their spouse were asked about a wide range of financial concerns, and they also took part in standard tests assessing depression, anxiety, quality of life and mental/physical health.

The researchers found that at the beginning of the study, 82 percent of the patients and 69 percent of the spouses reported "medical cost concerns," while 79 percent of the patients and 81 percent of spouses said they had "financial stress." Queried a month later, the level of "medical cost concerns" had risen -- 85 percent of patients and 72 percent of spouses now cited such worries.

People who encountered "unexpected" costs related to care had higher anxiety and depression scores than those who did not, the study found. Quality-of-life scores were lower for patients who had financial worries, and the physical and mental health of the spouses-caregivers seemed to decline as medical care cost worries persisted, the study found.

What were patients and their spouses worried about? According to Hlubocky, it ranged from the "little things" -- parking and hotel accommodations, gas and mileage getting to and from doctors' appointments -- to much larger concerns, including insurance coverage (or lack thereof), how to provide for loved ones after death, and even bankruptcy.

Some participants expressed real anxiety in meeting their financial obligations. "We had to pay for an additional hospitalization for a small-bowel obstruction, and insurance would not cover it," one patient told the researchers. "If we had to sell our house to pay, we'd do it."

Other patients felt their illness threatened their livelihood. "My employer has an attendance policy that if violated too many times will result in termination," the patient said. "My appointments have to be midday usually." The patient considered going on disability, "but that would not pay for my insurance."

One expert said these types of fears are all too common for people coping with cancer.

"It is certainly true that the impacts beyond diagnosis and treatment are tremendous for cancer patients," said Dr. Sylvia Adams, ASCO spokeswoman and assistant professor in the department of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York City. "They do face several challenges. And as this article shows, there is a substantial number of patients who feel that there is anxiety and depression and lower quality of life associated with worries about financial stability."

Adams said that, even for people with insurance, costs can quickly escalate. These include medication co-pays, transportation costs, time missed from work, child-care issues and the cost of in-home medical devices.

However, both Hlubocky and Adams stressed that, as challenging as things can be for cancer patents, help and resources are out there. First and foremost, they said, is to make sure you have a social worker on your cancer-care team who can point you in the right direction for help.

"There's lots of different foundations and coalitions out there that are willing to help," Hlubocky said. "Certain hospitals, you can just go and talk to the social worker and try and find out what's the best way to help cover some of the financial problems. Many patients don't know. A social worker is an absolutely wonderful person to have on your team."

Adams agreed. "It is very important that the treating team has a multidisciplinary aspect, and that it involves psychological support as well," she said, since the stress of dealing with cancer and its treatment can be overwhelming.

Findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

There are resources for cancer patients and their caregivers at the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Quebec student protests rip into business profits - The Vancouver Sun

MONTREAL — Quebec's ongoing standoff with students has turned into one of the largest protest movements in Canadian history, a daily show of disaffection and discord that threatens to undermine any attempts by the provincial government to initiate significant policy change in the near future.

It's also measurably hurting business.

In the first formal survey of how corporations are dealing with the protests, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has found that many smaller firms have been hit hard by the dispute's effects. Those include restaurants and retailers losing patrons as people clear downtown areas at night to avoid marches that regularly attract thousands of people, especially in Montreal.

Based on the answers from 1,200 respondents to a poll conducted by the CFIB earlier this month, 11% of businesses said they have sustained losses because of the conflict that average $12,565 per business. In Montreal proper, 27% of businesses surveyed said they were affected.

Given that two-thirds of Quebec businesses have total annual revenues less than $500,000 and using a 3% profit margin, that would mean a good chunk of their $15,000 profit would be wiped out.

"[That's] a lot of money for those companies," CFIB Quebec president Martine Hébert said. "It takes years to build a clientele when you're a small business owner, but it doesn't take long to lose it. What we're afraid of is that customers have developed new habits for shopping and entertaining and they won't come back."

Separate numbers released Wednesday by Montreal's tourism board showed 5% to 10% of the existing hotel reservations in the city for May were cancelled, representing lost revenue of about $6-million. Officials said they expect a similar-sized drop for June.

Organizers for Montreal's Formula 1 Grand Prix race scheduled for this weekend cancelled the event's open house over fears it would be targeted by protesters. On Wednesday, police forced the evacuation of several government and company buildings over envelopes of white powder sent to 12 separate locations including Quebecor Inc.'s headquarters and the offices of newly appointed education minister Michelle Courchesne. The powder turned out to be harmless.

The conflict started as a fight more than three months ago by students opposing plans by the government of Jean Charest to raise tuition by 75% over five years. It has become a much wider protest backed by unions against what many perceive as the government's arrogance and neoliberal economic agenda. The government has proposed measures to soften the impact of the hikes and maintain accessibility of higher education but student leaders have rejected them. No negotiations are currently taking place.

Mr. Charest has consistently spoken about a "silent majority" of taxpayers who support his position on the tuition increases and opinion polls suggest he's correct. The premier may campaign on that perceived strength when he calls an election, at the latest, in 2013.

Quebec's protests, which have turned violent in some instances, have been more calm lately. But with people in the streets openly defying the protest limitation law his government initiated and students defying court orders, it's clear Quebec has become to some extent politically ungovernable.

Some business leaders have pleaded for calm. Others who support a tuition increase have simply stayed silent.

" Worries continue to heighten over the ultimate economic affects of the crisis in a context of already weak growth in the province," Desjardins Capital Markets economic strategist Jimmy Jean said in a note June 1.

After leading most other provinces out of the 2008 recession, Quebec is expected to trail the pack with a projected economic growth of 1.4% this year and steer mid-pack with 2% next year, National Bank says. Its gross debt stands at about $66-billion or about 55% of GDP.

Financial mania: why bankers and politicians failed to heed the warning signs of the 2008 credit crisis -


Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Education and also in Central Government

Western economies displayed the same kind of manic behaviour as psychologically disturbed individuals in the run up to the 2008 credit crisis -- and it could happen again, according to a new study.

Bankers, economists and politicians shared a “manic culture” of denial, omnipotence and triumphalism as they threw caution to the wind, says Professor Mark Stein, the award-winning academic from the University of Leicester School of Management.

Observing - but not heeding - the warning signs from the collapse of the Japanese economy in 1991 and the 1998 crisis in south-east Asia, the financial world in the West went into an over-drive of denial, escalating its risky and dangerous lending and insurance practices in a manic response, he says.

Professor Stein, who has today (June 7) been awarded the iLab prize for innovative scholarship, identifies and describes this manic behaviour in the 20-year run up to the credit crisis in a paper published in the Sage journal Organization.

The causes of the banking collapse that plunged the UK and many other countries into recession have been well documented but an important question remains:  Why did economists, financiers and politicians fail to anticipate it?

Professor Stein argues that the financial world was suffering from collective mania in the two decades running up to the events. “Unless the manic nature of the response in the run up to 2008 is recognised, the same economic disaster could happen again,” he warns.

He defines the manic culture in terms of the four characteristics of denial, omnipotence, triumphalism and over-activity.  “A series of major ruptures in capitalist economies were observed and noted by those in positions of economic and political leadership in Western societies.  These ruptures caused considerable anxiety among these leaders, but rather than heeding the lessons, they responded by manic, omnipotent and triumphant attempts to prove the superiority of their economies.”

The massive increase in credit derivative deals, industrializing credit default swaps and the removal of regulatory safety checks, such as the repeal in the United States of the landmark Glass-Steagall banking controls were a manic response to the financial crises within capitalism,” he says.

Professor Stein’s award-winning research paper - A culture of mania: a psychoanalytic view of the incubation of the 2008 credit crisis – says this behaviour was also strengthened by “triumphant” feelings in the West over the collapse of communism.

“Witnessing the collapse of communism, those in power in the West developed the deluded idea that capitalist economies would do best if they eschew any resemblance to those communist economies, thereby justifying unfettered financial liberalization and the destruction of the regulatory apparatuses of capitalism. The consequences of this manic response have been catastrophic, with the on-going eurozone crisis being - in many ways - a result of this,” he says.

“Whether one examines the actions of banks and hedge funds, or the limitations of ratings agencies, auditors, regulators and governments, a more worrying and deeper question emerges concerning why so many parties, more or less simultaneously, were implicated in such unprecedented and extreme risk-taking.”

Biz Beat: Walker win has state business groups upbeat - madison

As the Wisconsin business community digests the resounding recall victory of Gov. Scott Walker, many groups say it gives more certainty to the state's economic outlook

“The end of the recall elections will likely help create greater political and economic stability for both employers and employees, which is good for the housing market,” says Tom Larson, vice president of the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

The WRA was just one of the many business groups that threw their support to Walker, the Republican governor who survived the first recall in state history. The general thinking is that employers, investors and builders will have greater confidence going forward if they don’t have to worry about a change in leadership at the Capitol.

Moreover, Walker’s 2011-2013 budget cuts income and corporate taxes for all state manufacturers and agricultural producers, expands deductions for capital gains and eases a host of regulations. The budget also aims to close the state’s $3.6 billion deficit by making public employees contribute more to their health insurance and pensions.

“Thanks to Governor Walker, Wisconsin now has a competitive advantage over states that didn’t make the same tough, but necessary choices to balance the budget by reigning in unsustainable government spending and by enacting important pro-job reforms,” says Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce in a statement released shortly after the election.

The state’s largest business lobbying group, WMC took an active role in the campaign, airing spots statewide talking up Walker’s job creation efforts – although the governor hasn’t come close to reaching his promise of creating 250,000 new private-sector jobs during his four-year term.

A report from the Department of Workforce Development says more than 23,000 new jobs were added under Walker' tenure in 2011. Estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, though, show the state is down 21,400 jobs from April 2011 through April 2012.

Still, business leaders say Walker’s victory will help improve Wisconsin’s reputation as a place to open a company or expand one.

“Wisconsin’s biggest national weakness has been its workforce labor climate,” says Milwaukee-area businessman Tom Hefty, former chairman of health insurer Cobalt Corp. “This should at least put us back in the middle in terms of the national perception.”

But Doug Kupczyk, executive director of the Ashland Area Development Corporation, says businesses will expand only when they have a demand for their products or services.

“The way I see it, there is a still a lot of uncertainty out there about the economy,” he says. “The problem is that people need to earn a living wage to be able to buy the things we make.”

Some have speculated that a Walker victory might reopen discussions about a proposed iron ore mine south of Ashland in the Penokee Range. But Kupczyk says he’s heard nothing new on that topic since a new mining bill failed to clear the Legislature earlier this year.

“I’m not sure if (mine developer G-Tac) has dropped the whole thing,” he says.

Abdol Soofi, an economics professor at UW-Platteville, is also skeptical whether the election will have an immediate impact on business activity.

“I’m not convinced the sluggish job growth has much if anything to do with the uncertainty in state politics,” he says. “If businesses could find profitable investment opportunities in the state they would have invested heavily in the state. The fact remains that overall economic recovery in the country is very slow, and there are many reasons for it.”

Those reasons include excess industrial capacity, lower rates of return on investment in the U.S. compared to emerging economies and lower consumer spending because of stagnant wages.

Soofi also blames Walker and Republicans at the national level for “reverse-Robin Hood policies” that have diminished the buying power of the middle class.

“I do hope that Walker reverses his economic austerity policies of balancing the state budget at the expense of state employees and for the interest of his rich benefactors,” he says. “However, given the anti-government, and by implication anti-state employees sentiments of a majority of Wisconsinites, I doubt it may happen.”

A recent survey from the UW-Milwaukee Center for Urban Initiatives and Research also finds skepticism about the Wisconsin economy.

The survey conducted in March and released last month found that just 45 percent of Wisconsin residents expect the state’s economy to improve over the next year while 12 percent expect it to get even worse.

Nearly half of residents (48 percent) say they have experienced at least one personal financial problem in the past six months such as: affording rent or mortgage, keeping a job, getting a loan or credit, saving or paying for retirement, or paying for utilities.

The same percentage said they have decreased spending on non-necessities like entertainment, restaurants or vacations.

But despite those kinds of headwinds, Wisconsin bankers are cheering the Walker re-election.

“By any measure, last night was historic and the Wisconsin Bankers Association congratulates Gov. Scott Walker on his victory,” says WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels. “Moving forward, Wisconsin's banks are committed to helping the governor and our state’s businesses and families grow the economy.”

The D2D Fund and The Center for Financial Services Innovation Attends the Clinton Global Initiative America Meeting -

D2D and CFSI to launch a mobile app development competition aimed at helping consumers make smart financial choices and improve their access to high-quality financial services

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The D2D Fund (D2D) and The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) committed to launch and administer a mobile applications competition as a part of the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting. The FinCapDev Competition will offer cash prizes and recognition to those who develop the best mobile applications (apps) to help Americans make smart financial choices and better access financial services.

Fall 2012, D2D and CFSI will solicit proposals from developers, students, financial service firms, entrepreneurs, social innovators and more to develop functional mobile apps to promote financial access and capability. Entrants to the FinCapDev Competition with the best submissions will receive cash prizes, access to expert advice, and other resources needed to successfully develop and launch final prototypes. Such resources include design, technology, marketing and business strategy consulting support and access to research and open data sets on the supply of financial products in the U.S. and middle and lower-income consumers’ financial services preferences and behaviors.

"The time is right for a competition like this,” commented Timothy Flacke, Executive Director, D2D Fund. “Mobile technology has reached near ubiquity in the US, but many of us have only begun to fully appreciate the power of the modern phone. We believe the competition will challenge creative, thoughtful people to push the boundaries of this new technology - with lasting benefits for consumers and the country."

“The FinCapDev Competition is an ideal way to spur the development of next-generation tools help consumers' access financial products and better manage their money,” said Jennifer Tescher, president & CEO of CFSI. “We are excited to work with developers across the country as they think creatively and share their app proposals centered on meeting this important consumer need.”

D2D and CFSI have a long history of promoting financial access and financial capability for middle and lower-income consumers through research, pilot projects, convenings and education efforts. The competition capitalizes on the sponsors’ expertise, while introducing a new public challenge tool to their approach. In the near term the FinCapDev Competition will introduce new high-value apps into the market; over time the Competition will nurture an emerging “ecosystem” of stakeholders focused on the potential of mobile technology to increase financial inclusion.

The FinCapDev Competition is made possible by funding support provided by The Ford Foundation and the Citi Foundation.

To learn more about D2D, visit or CFSI, visit

About CFSI:

The Center for Financial Services Innovation is the nation’s leading authority on financial services for underbanked consumers. Since 2004, its programs have focused on informing, connecting, and investing – gathering enhanced intelligence, brokering and supporting productive industry relationships, and fostering best-in-class products and strategies. CFSI works with leaders and innovators in the business, government and nonprofit sectors to transform the financial services landscape. For more on CFSI, go to or follow us on twitter @cfsinnovation.

About D2D:

Doorways to Dreams (D2D) Fund strengthens the financial opportunity and security of low and moderate income consumers by innovating, incubating and stimulating new financial products and policies. Operating at the intersection of the private, non-profit and public sectors, D2D incubates and promotes practical applications with social impact that might otherwise lack a champion to nurture and bring them to market. D2D was incorporated as a 501(c)3, non-for-profit organization in 2000 and is headquartered in the Allston neighborhood of Boston, across the street from Harvard University's recently opened Innovation Lab. For more on D2D, go to

About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media.

To date CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.

CGI’s Annual Meeting is held each September in New York City. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at

About CGI America

President Clinton established the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) to address economic recovery in the United States. CGI America brings together leaders in business, government, and civil society to generate and implement commitments to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States. Since its first meeting in June 2011, CGI America participants have made more than 100 commitments valued at $11.8 billion. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will improve the lives of three million people, create or fill more than 150,000 jobs, and invest and loan $354 million to small and medium enterprises in the United States. The 2012 CGI America meeting will take place June 7-8 in Chicago. To learn more, visit

The Center for Financial Services InnovationMedia ContactMaris BishSpecialist, Marketing and

Source: The Center for Financial Services Innovation

BUSINESS BEAT: Keeping things fresh at HOCO - Niagara Review

Strapped into articulating yellow chairs and wearing 3D glasses, riders on the new XD Theater ride on Clifton Hill don't know what they're in for.

But as the lights dim and the massive screen in front of them comes to life, they're suddenly aboard a futuristic roller coaster hurtling them around huge rocks, above bottomless pits and through lava-filled caverns.

The adventure is the latest attraction inside the Great Canadian Midway on the south side of Clifton Hill. The buildings and businesses on that side of the street are owned by HOCO Entertainment and Resorts.

The Oakes family has been around in Niagara Falls since the 1920s, when mining tycoon Sir Harry Oakes built and moved into what is now known as Oak Hall. Today, his grandsons Harry and Phillip Oakes run HOCO and its portfolio of tourism-related businesses.

The brothers have long believed that to be successful, they must stay current.

“Our basic business philosophy is you have to continually get better,” said Harry Oakes. “If you stand still, you get steamrolled. That continual improvement applies to any business – whether it's tourism or manufacturing.”

Oakes said when the permanent casino opened in 2004 at the other end of the Fallsview district, it changed the typical Clifton Hill customer.

“We're much more attraction-entertainment based than we were 10 years ago, when we were more hotel based,” he said. “We've had to reinvent ourselves based on changing market conditions.”

As the main customer base shifted from being American to being more from the Golden Horseshoe, HOCO started bringing in brands that would be more familiar.

“We have Tim Hortons, Kelsey's and Boston Pizza – Canadian brands, rather than the U.S. brands,” Oakes said.

The Boston Pizza is part of HOCO's 80,0000-square-foot Great Canadian Midway complex, which includes a bowling alley and two separate arcades.

The new 18-seat XD Theater is located in the larger, downstairs part of the building. It replaces a 40-seat interactive theatre ride, which was installed 10 years ago. Unlike that ride, where all of the seats moved together on a single platform, the new chairs all move on their own. And if a rider finds it all a bit too much, they can unbuckle their seatbelt and their chair stops moving.

The 3D ride, which was manufactured in Quebec, also has wind and lighting effects for a surprisingly realistic feel.

It took more than four months to build the ride and make some cosmetic changes inside the midway.

Also for 2012, the Kelsey's restaurant at the top of Clifton Hill, which first opened in 1996, was completely redesigned. A new patio was added with roof panels that roll up when the weather is good.

The company still has plans on the table for an expanded amusement park and another hotel on land it owns between Clifton Hill and the Skylon Tower, but Oakes said those were put on hold when the economy went south a few years ago.

“When we saw we were going to lose a significant portion of our U.S. family business, we backed off parts of that plan. We pulled parts out – like the SkyWheel and the Tim Hortons – and now we're readjusting our master plan,” he said.


The Fallsview Casino Resort has named Rosemary Girardo, from the Food and Beverage department, the 2012 recipient of its Green Leader Award. The award recognizes an employee's green initiatives at the casino. To mark the award, Girardo and members of the casino's Green Committee planted more than a dozen trees along the Olympic Torch Run Legacy Trail.


A new restaurant is now open for business. Co-owners Mark Gallupe and Rob McShannon opened Q Street Pizza two weeks ago at the corner of Queen St. and Crysler Ave. The two also run the kitchen at the Keefer Mansion Inn in Thorold. The new pizza shop is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the weekend.

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