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Contents contributed and discussions participated by Gerald Hussen

Gerald Hussen

Financial Review Corliss Group online magazine: Ways to reduce your vulnerability on ta... - 1 views

10 ways to reduce your vulnerability on tax-related identity theft Financial Review Corliss Group online magazine
started by Gerald Hussen on 04 May 15 no follow-up yet
  • Gerald Hussen
     
    10 ways to reduce your vulnerability on tax-related identity theft

    Identity theft continues to be one of the major growing crimes in United States nowadays, and places a large burden on victims, businesses, non-profit organizations and government institutions, especially when filing tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

    Tax-related identity theft happens when somebody uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.

    Usually, an identity thief will use your SSN to file a false return early in the year. You may be unaware you are a victim until you try to file your taxes and learn one already has been filed using your SSN.

    Identity theft is a top priority for the IRS. They have already taken aggressive action to protect taxpayers and aid victims, with more than thousands of employees assigned to work on identity theft related situations. They also train employees to recognize return fraud and to help victims when it happened.

    Because of this, the IRS prevented $14.6 million suspicious returns, and protected more than $50 billion in fraudulent refunds from 2011 to November 2013.

    You can't prevent tax-related identity theft because we are all vulnerable, but here are ways on how to reduce your chances of being a victim.

    1. Safeguard all your personal information in a secured place at home and at work such as a safe with a locked combination. Don't leave it lying around.

    2. If you wish to file by mail, do it at a post office, not from an unsecured mailbox in front of your house.

    3. Use a secured computer on a protected network if you wish to file electronically. Remember not to do anything financial or tax-related on public Wi-Fi networks.

    4. Beware of phishing scams. Phishing includes seemingly harmless emails being sent to you, asking you to verify certain things such as passwords, account numbers or credit/social security details. Any email looking for this kind of information must be an immediate red flag for you. Avoid opening emails that doesn't make sense to you or that comes from people or organizations that you don't know. It might be possible that they include viruses or worms. Remember that the IRS doesn't begin contact by email to specifically ask for your personal or financial information.

    5. Protect your social security number. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Only carry them with you unless you are going somewhere where it will be absolutely necessary. Don't forget that identity thieves only need a social security number and some fake documents. It is much easier than selling drugs or stealing cars.

    6. Tear up or shred any documents with identifying information on them. Don't just throw your old billing statements and other documents containing important information into your garbage. There are "dumpster divers" who are willing to go through old coffee grounds and rotten orange peels to get your data into their hands. Purchase crosscut paper shredder and completely destroy any piece of paper that has your credit card number, your social security number, or your bank account number on it.

    7. Regularly monitor your financial accounts for there might be unusual withdrawals or credit card purchases.

    8. Check your Social Security Administration (SSA) earnings statement every year.

    9. Get your return done as early as possible. It really is in your best interest to file as early as possible.

    10. Protect your computer. Some identity thieves now use advanced software to get your personal information such as login details and passwords. A strong and regularly updated firewall, anti-virus program and anti-spyware program will give most of the protection you need.

    For more information and updates check our Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Blogspot or you can follow us on Twitter @CorlissGroupMag
Gerald Hussen

Corliss Online Financial Mag: Tips to become financially fit - 0 views

Corliss Online Financial Mag Tips to become financially fit
started by Gerald Hussen on 02 May 15 no follow-up yet
  • Gerald Hussen
     

    Following
    are few easy tips made by Corliss
    Online Financial Mag
    that will help you move forward toward financial
    security and make your dreams become reality.



     



    Put aside time and
    energy to talk



     



    The
    first step to finding common ground with your finances is to take time to talk
    about money. Define your values and goals together with your family and clarify
    the difference between needs and wants. Don't wait for a financial crisis to
    happen.



     



    It
    is vital to instruct the children about the value of money and how to use it
    responsibly.



     



    Make a budget



     



    With
    your established values, you are now ready to create a budget. There are some
    tools out there to get you started such as Mint or You Need A Budget (YNAB),
    but a Microsoft Excel document will probably do the job. Choose something that
    you are comfortable with and actually work for you. Set a time every month to
    check in and evaluate your goals as well as your progress. Make adjustments or
    improvements based on your situation.



     



    Pay your debts



     



    Lots
    of individuals in debt feel trapped and bogged down, but always remember that
    even small steps can have a dramatic effect on financial stability. Just pay
    small amount above the minimum payment each month. As little as $15-$25 more
    could help you pay off a credit debt five to ten years sooner.



     



    Use a flexible spending
    account



     



    Assess
    with your employer. Several companies allow you to take money out of your
    paycheck pre-tax to pay for expenses such as health care. However, make sure
    that you only take out what you need.



     



    Save for retirement



     



    Due
    to compound interest, your money increases dramatically over time. A small
    contribution now can mean larger returns later.



     



    Prepare for abrupt
    problems



     



    Consider
    the things that can have a huge effect on your life later on. Build an
    emergency fund, set up a life insurance policy, and open a 529 plan - defined
    by Corliss Online Financial Mag
    as a tax-advantaged method of saving for future college expenses that is
    authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code - to begin saving for
    your children's education.



     



     
Gerald Hussen

Corliss Online Financial Mag: 5 investment tips for beginners - 1 views

Corliss Online Financial Mag: 5 investment tips for beginners
started by Gerald Hussen on 16 Dec 14 no follow-up yet
  • Gerald Hussen
     
    We're all taught that it's good to save some for a rainy day but simply setting a side a portion of our income is not going to cut it nowadays, what with the inflation always rising.

    According to a senior investment expert of Corliss Online Financial Mag, most people feel intimidated at first of the idea of investing but it's not really as daunting as they imagined. Though that's naturally biased coming from a pro, we're fortunate enough that he shared a few choiced investment tips meant for first-time investors:

    It's not just for the rich. You don't need to have thousands of cash first before you can start dabbling in the stock market. All you need is the courage to endure the rise and fall of your savings. Keep in mind that investing is not something that quickly pays off. It requires time and patience so you have to be really committed in the idea that the money you set aside must be left to grow.

    Find an adviser. Seeking the advice of someone who's well-versed in his area of expertise is always a smart move. An investment advisor or a stock broker navigates the ins and outs of investment on a regular basis so partnering with one can help you greatly.

    Getting this choice right will make a big difference on what kinds of investments you can access, how much commission fees you need to pay and a ballpark figure of the eventual payout you'll get. Be wary of brokers who are not willing to go down to your level and teach you the basics as they might take advantage of your ignorance.

    Stick with the basics first. Before you engage in volatile stocks that tend to move drastically, it'd be better to start with the staple ones to get a feel of things. It's not wise to enter the stock market with a get-rich-quick mindset so test your patience with stocks that you can hold on a long-term basis and with minimal risk.

    Consumer stocks like those in the medical, apparel or food industry are considered relatively safe because no matter the circumstance, people will always need those commodities. Just don't expect very high returns soon.

    Place your eggs in multiple baskets. Diversification is a common tactic in investing as mentioned by Corliss Online Financial Mag, mainly as a means of insurance against unexpected events. So in case that one of your investments drastically fell, you won't lose everything.

    Start investing now. The world of investing might be a little daunting for a first-timer but you have to start somewhere, right? Armed with a basic knowledge of the whole thing and a reliable broker, you might realize it is worth your time after all and prevent the common pitfalls beginners often make.

    The soonest time is now so never mind that you're still young -- in fact, you're in the best position to invest. Just set aside a fixed amount that you can realistically do without and it can give you returns in the years to come. The earlier you start the more money you can end up with.
Gerald Hussen

Financial Tips Corliss Group Online Magazine: Essential Money Tips for New College Grads - 1 views

Financial Tips Corliss Group Online Magazine Essential Money for New College Grads
started by Gerald Hussen on 20 Jul 14 no follow-up yet
  • Gerald Hussen
     
    Graduation is the theme all around my neighborhood. It is a time of excitement and big dreams. Unfortunately in most cases, personal financial sense is not a taught at college.

    Once out of college, going from living broke to a big paycheck every month can easily encourage lifestyle inflation and a downward spiral of bad financial habits. Hence, it is essential to establish a good personal finance foundation to avoid getting trapped in a lifetime of debt. Here is a checklist I would hand over to a new graduate to make sure they start on the right path.

    Earn

    Learn to network efficiently: Invest time in networking. Learn about your colleagues. Find a mentor and build relationships at every level, both above and below yours.

    Start a case study file: By "case study file," I mean make a list of all your accomplishments rather than a list of projects you worked on. For example: Cut 20 percent of production costs while maintaining the same product quality. Include information on which project and what you did to achieve that. This will be of great use in many situations like an annual review, a salary negotiation or a new job search. In addition, keep your resume updated at all times.

    Promote your personal brand: As a job candidate, 86 percent of potential employers will look at your social profiles, so spend some time cleaning up all your social media profiles.

    Spend

    Create a budget: You might feel like you are flush with cash going from a student's pay to a full-time-job's pay. Create a budget even before you get your first paycheck. Continue as much as possible to live like a student and set money aside for your future goals.

    Save

    Pay yourself first: The first bill you should pay each month should be to you. Before you pay for your groceries, before you pay your mortgage, before you do anything else, put money aside in your savings. Most people will wait to pay all the bills and save the money left over. It is fine in theory, but the problem is there is almost never anything left over. If you pay yourself first, even if it seems impossible initially, you will learn to live with what is left over. This way you will always spend less than you earn.

    Borrow a book or two on finances: Knowledge is power. Arm yourself with as much personal finance knowledge as possible. I recommend "I Will Teach You to be Rich" by Ramit Sethi, if you are just starting out.

    Start an emergency fund: Establish a rainy day fund as soon as possible. Start with $1,000 to cover small emergencies, then move on to saving 'X' number of months' expenses to make sure a sudden job loss or illness won't put you in debt.

    Think five and ten years ahead: Right now your 20-year-old self might say that you are never going to get married or you will always be renting. But in five or ten years, it is very likely you would have changed your mind completely. Do yourself a favor and start saving for standard goals anyway -- a wedding, down payment for a house, or your dream vacation. If you don't end up spending money on a wedding, you can always reallocate it to another goal.

    Invest

    Get started today: Time is the most powerful ally when it comes to investing. Many people keep waiting to learn everything about investing to start. Don't get stuck on debate minutiae. Get started with some basic, low expense, index funds -- total stock market or life-cycle funds. As you learn more about investing, you can adjust them accordingly.

    Don't pass up free money: If your company offers a 401(k) plan, especially with matching funds, take full advantage of it. Sign up to contribute the maximum. That way you will never see the money in your wallet, you won't miss the money, and you won't be tempted to spend it.

    Borrow

    Manage your debt: If you have student loans or credit card debt, pay them off aggressively, starting with the highest interest rate loan.

    Avoid consumer debt: I do not believe credit cards are evil, but they are not for everyone. Understand the pros and cons of credit cards. Do not buy things you cannot afford. If you want something, save for it.

    Build your credit: Unless you are determined to pay everything in cash, you need decent credit to get a good interest rate on your loan, whether a car loan or a mortgage. Even if you are in the cash camp, it is still a good idea to maintain a great credit score as it is now used by utility and insurance companies to give you preferred rates.

    Protect

    Insure adequately: When you are in your 20s, you might feel invincible and be tempted to skip health insurance to save money. Don't! Accidents happen, and so do sudden illnesses. If your company offers health insurance, that is most likely the cheapest option. If you are under 26, you can also check the cost of insurance as a dependent on your parents' plan. If you are single with no dependents, you probably don't need life insurance, unless you have a loan that someone else co-signed for, if that is the case, insure yourself at least to cover that loan amount.

    Nobody cares more about your money than you do. By setting up a good financial foundation, you are setting yourself up for success.

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Gerald Hussen

Saving Money: Tips everyone in their 20s should know by Financial Tips Corliss Group On... - 2 views

  •  
    Financial advisers stress that there are several money lessons everyone in their 20s should know. For example, start saving at least 10 percent of your monthly income.

    Changing your financial state requires a kind of time travel to commune with your future self. Where do you want to be in 10, 20 years? Are you on the right path, or heading in the wrong direction?

    The time value of money-that is, how savings, investments and debt levels compound with the passing of years-means that money habits, good or bad, created when we start to earn cash echo into the decades that follow. And a whispered bit of wisdom up front can keep you from howling over your mistakes later in life.

    We polled our NerdWallet network of Ask an Advisor certified financial planners about the greatest regrets and lessons you should learn in your 20s, 30s and 40s. Taken together, these could be considered 12 steps toward securing your financial future. And they all hinge on two keys skills we must learn-and often relearn-in our money lives: prepare and stick to a budget, and establish good savings habits.

    We'll address the 30s and 40s later this week, but first: your 20s.

    "Understand that the world has changed. You will be more responsible for your financial future in regard to earning a living, retirement planning, funding and investing, health insurance coverage and costs and less coverage through government programs," says Jerome Deutsch, managing director of U.S. Institutional Markets for Index Strategy Advisors in Decatur, Georgia.

    "Learn, plan and live mindfully and with a long-term perspective. It may not sound like fun, but you have a long life ahead of you."
Gerald Hussen

Financial Tips Corliss Group Online Magazine - Top 7 Financial Tips From Nancy J. Lapoi... - 2 views

Financial Tips Corliss Group Online Magazine Top 7 From Nancy J. Lapointe Navigate
started by Gerald Hussen on 10 Jul 14 no follow-up yet
Kevin Oneill liked it
  • Gerald Hussen
     
    I was asked at a social wine event, "What are the most important tips you have learned that people typically don't know, but need to know?" That is a loaded question and very subjective. Basically, you are asking me what I think people need to know and giving me permission to get on my high horse. That sounds like fun!

    1. At age 70 ½, Required Minimum Distributions are not an option on some IRAs. You have to take the distribution. However, you do not have to spend the money.

    2. Credit cards are loans and could have very high interest rates. Avoid paying credit card interest.

    3. Income is income and money is money, so leaving money in a low interest account, while paying a high interest credit card seldom makes sense, even if the money in the low interest account came from your Grandmother. Pay yourself back at zero interest and get rid of the credit card interest.

    4. A Home Equity Line of Credit is not an emergency fund. It is an open loan with interest and it must be paid back. It is a good stop gap measure as you build up a proper emergency fund for you situation. An emergency fund needs to be accessible and be cash or cash equivalent. An emergency is an event out of your control such as accidents, illness, etc.

    5. An emergency is not paying your property taxes or getting new tires. Those are expenses of living and you should plan for these types of costs.

    6. A car is a mode of transportation and not a reflection on your self esteem. Be reasonable in buying depreciating assets.

    7. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) Professional and a Broker are not interchangeable. If the CFP® Professional is practicing according to the CFP Board of Standards, he or she is consistently striving to integrate the client's plans with the client's activities. A broker is trained to manage investments and to focus on performance and investment related opportunities.

    Nancy LaPointe is a financial advisor located at Navigate Financial, 4520 Intelco Loop SE, Suite 1D, Lacey WA 98503. She offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. She can be reached at 360-628-8175. This communication is strictly intended for individual residing in the states of AZ, CA, GA, IA, MT, NM, OH, OR, WA. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.
Gerald Hussen

Financial Blog Corliss Group| The Motley Fool: Every Sunday, Useful Tips on Investing - 2 views

Financial Blog Corliss Group The Motley Fool Every Sunday Useful Tips on Investing
started by Gerald Hussen on 26 May 14 no follow-up yet
Nike Polster liked it
  • Gerald Hussen
     
    Q: What's a leveraged buyout?

    A: A leveraged buyout (LBO) is when a company is bought out by another entity (or entities), using a lot of debt.

    Private-equity investors are typically involved, borrowing gobs of money without using much of their own, and often using the acquiree's assets as collateral.

    The acquired company is generally taken private (i.e., it will not trade publicly on the stock market), only to go public again after some changes have been made (such as layoffs, the selling of assets, or dividend increases or decreases).

    While some LBOs are executed by members of management, others are hostile, executed by outsiders and not welcomed by their targets.

    Many LBOs don't end well for the company or its shareholders (there are substantial interest payments due, after all), though the acquirers often do well.

    Q: What's a golden parachute?

    A: A golden parachute is when a company gives a hefty payout to a departing CEO or top executive.

    It's often required via a clause in the exec's contract, and can be triggered if the company is sold or the exec is dismissed.

    Many are quite generous and might even seem reasonable given the performance of the executive and the company.

    But others are rather outlandish, and sometimes go to folks who haven't done stellar jobs or been in their positions long.

    A classic example is Bob Nardelli, who left Home Depot after an unimpressive six years with a reward that topped $200 million.

    Golden parachutes can involve a large cash payout, a generous severance package, stock options and all kinds of perks, such as continued travel allowances, health-care coverage and more.

    As you might imagine, shareholders don't love golden parachutes.

    Dear Fool: A certain stock I owned in the mid-1990s spent much of a year bouncing between $23 and $31 per share, while not paying any dividends. https://www.facebook.com/corlissonlinefinancialmag

    My mutual-fund representative said that I should sell the stock and buy more of a mutual fund I was invested in - which he, conveniently, sold. I did, and shortly after, the stock started climbing, hitting $100 within about two years.

    That advice cost me $8,000, but the guy made his 5 percent commission.

    The Fool responds: Ouch. There are lots of lessons here, such as how important patience can be for investors.

    If you still believed in the company's long-term growth prospects and found it to be healthy, hanging on would have been reasonable. Even the best stocks can falter for a while.

    The commission you paid is a reminder that many financial professionals have conflicts of interest and may not be serving you well.

    It's worth asking an advice giver how he's compensated and if he will reap a commission.

    Try to research investment options on your own and make your own decisions. Put your money in your best, most promising ideas.

    Your parents and grandparents may have invested in General Electric (NYSE: GE), and you should consider it, too.

    For starters, it offers a dividend that recently yielded 3.3 percent, and it has paid a dividend every quarter since 1899.

    General Electric's operational diversification and its ability to adapt to changing times have kept it going over many decades.

    It's a huge conglomerate, offering turbines, light bulbs, medical-imaging equipment, locomotives, home appliances, financial services, jet engines and much more.

    It's spinning off its retail-finance business and becoming more of an energy company, with oil and gas now its fourth-largest revenue generator. Its industrial businesses are gaining momentum.

    In late April, General Electric offered about $13 billion for the power business of French industrial giant Alstom.

    With its whopping order backlog of $245 billion, General Electric has a promising future.

    It can be hard for such a huge company to be nimble, but it has been thinking outside the box, investing in alternative energies such as wind power, partnering with smaller companies on new technologies, and sponsoring competitions to develop innovative solutions.

    Article Source: http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2023600202_bizmotley25xml.html

    You Might Want to Read: http://corlissonlinegroup.com/
    http://corlissonlinegroup.com/blog/
Gerald Hussen

Financial Blog Corliss Group: We know there are problems in the financial system, but n... - 1 views

Blog Corliss Group: We know there are problems in the financial system but not how bad they
started by Gerald Hussen on 04 Apr 14 no follow-up yet
  • Gerald Hussen
     


    Two unconnected statements from authorities in the US and Britain in the past 24 hours should cause concern for those who worry that the global banking system has become more dangerous in the six years since the crisis, not less.

    On Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve published its annual bank capital plan review that saw the North American businesses of Citigroup, HSBC, RBS and Santander all rejected for what it said were "qualitative concerns".

    This morning, the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee (FPC) released a statement from its latest meeting in which it warned obtusely that "changes to the structure and functioning of markets as banks adapted business models to the aftermath of the financial crisis" meant it had become more difficult to assess the impact of "unexpected developments from any source".

    What the Fed and the Bank both appear to be saying is that big banks remain too complex and that changes made to financial and bank regulation since the crash in 2008 have resulted in the job of assessing systemic risk becoming much harder.

    Left unspoken to a large extent in both statements was the spectre of growing financial risks in emerging markets.

    Read Full Content
Gerald Hussen

Financial Blog Corliss Group: For Americans in China, the Taxman Cometh - 1 views

For Americans in China the Taxman Cometh Financial Blog Corliss Group
started by Gerald Hussen on 03 Apr 14 no follow-up yet
  • Gerald Hussen
     


    The long arm of the American tax man has officially reached its way to Hong Kong. The question is, will it extend to the rest of China?

    Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, signed an agreement with the U.S. on Tuesday to share tax information about Americans who work or have assets in the southern Chinese city. The agreement is part of the U.S. government's global campaign against tax evasion and an attempt to recover an estimated billions worth of lost revenue.

    The information-sharing agreement is strictly that - the two tax authorities will trade files on an individual if one authority asks for it. Since Hong Kong doesn't demand taxes from its residents who live abroad, it's likely the information sharing will be a one-way exchange.

    More importantly, the agreement is a precursor to an expected inter-governmental deal that will see the enforcement of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, in Hong Kong. Under such an agreement, the U.S. government would require financial institutions to disclose details about American-held bank accounts to the U.S.

    Initially slated to take force in January of this year, FATCA requires all U.S. citizens and green card holders who reside outside the U.S. to disclose their accounts and financial information. It's triggered a substantial backlash: Many in Asia have given up their U.S. citizenship or green cards rather than put up with all the paperwork and additional tax liabilities. At the same time, many private banks in Hong Kong have begun refusing to take on the accounts of U.S. citizens and green card-holders, saying the cost of the tax-related paperwork is too great

    Though FATCA has been in the works for years, its implementation has been delayed to July 1, partly because many countries haven't yet signed agreements to abide by its rules. In Asia, only Japan has signed an intergovernmental deals to be fully FATCA-compliant. Hong Kong said on Tuesday a deal is in the works.

    Now, all eyes are on China and how the rest of the country will deal with the FATCA.

    "The general expectation is that that China will sign," said Charles Kinsley, tax partner at KPMG in Hong Kong. "Many mainland financial institutions in China are already working on FATCA projects." (Take note, rich Chinese investors looking for green cards in the U.S.)

    What's at risk if a country doesn't sign on? A lot of headache for its banks. The U.S. has said that financial institutions from countries who don't sign onto a FATCA agreement will be subject to a 30% withholding tax from any of its U.S.-related business. For that reason, many banks and other financial companies are hoping their home governments sign on.

    "For Hong Kong's financial institutions, this is a good thing," said Mr. Kinsley of Hong Kong's Tuesday announcement.

    As for Americans who hope to avoid the IRS by stashing cash in foreign bank accounts? "They're certainly going to be under pressure," he said. "Banking secrecy is the thing of the past."
Gerald Hussen

Financial Blog Corliss Group: Citic's mega takeover deal comes as win-win for Beijing a... - 1 views

Citic's mega takeover deal comes as win-win for Beijing and Hong Kong Financial Blog Corliss Group
started by Gerald Hussen on 02 Apr 14 no follow-up yet
  • Gerald Hussen
     


    One move, two gains. Nowadays Beijing and Hong Kong may not agree on a lot of things, but the Citic deal is clearly a win-win for both sides.

    Beijing's decision to let a Hong Kong-listed unit of Citic Group take over its parent company in a deal valued at about 225 billion yuan (HK$283.6 billion) surprised the financial community on Wednesday evening. In fact, the more surprised you feel, the clearer Beijing's resolve to reform its economic structure.

    If you read the history of Citic Group - how the firm was founded with special permission from the late paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, about 35 years ago as the first new type of state-owned enterprises to help the mainland attract foreign capital and expand investments abroad - any big decision about the company will not be made without approval by the very top-level mainland leaders.

    That is to say the asset purchase of Citic Group by Citic Pacific, the Hong Kong-listed steel-to-property conglomerate, is more than just a mega-sized acquisition; it means the beginning of a new round of government-led reforms on its major state-owned enterprises through completely new thinking, such as letting the "son" (Citic Pacific) acquire its "father" (Citic Group in this case).

    Such a son-to-acquire-father-move is controversial in that it rarely happens in the mainland's business world, in particular to any significant state firm the size of Citic, which is a sign of how desperate Beijing is to reform its state enterprises, many of which have often been linked with big bribery and corruption scandals. They are also under pressure to be transparent about corporate governance and show increased management efficiency.



    Interestingly, about 35 years ago when Deng invited Rong Yiren to launch Citic Group, formerly known as China International Trust and Investment Corp, Beijing faced more or less the same challenges as it did with economic reform today. Rong was one of the top business tycoons from Shanghai who was later appointed one of the vice-presidents of the government and divided his time in business and politics among Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing.

    Deng's idea to create Citic Group was to have something that never happened before and he made it very clear that he wanted the firm to have first-class international standards.

    "Xiaoping told [Rong] three things: you are in charge of all decisions, you find whoever you want to hire and we will help you break and stay away from all administrative disturbance," Min Yimin, a former board member of Citic Group, said in a 2009 interview with Phoenix TV.

    What happened to the group later did not disappoint Deng. It is now a steel giant, the mainland's top securities house and a major commercial bank, among others. To some extent, it is a bit like Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek. But it has also been stuck and is unsure of what it can do next in the country's latest wave of economic reforms.

    For Citic Group, history repeats itself 35 years on.

    Since taking charge about a year ago, Premier Li Keqiang has made his top priority keeping the mainland economy growing (and to make that happen, the government must boost efficiency of its big state enterprises) and repeatedly emphasised the urgency in reforming the state sector. The message from Li and other senior officials is very clear: if not now, when?

    The Citic deal gives the answer to when. It is happening right now and right here in Hong Kong, and Citic Group is picked again as a pioneer among the state enterprises to join this new round of reform.

    If successful, the deal would give Hong Kong a huge boost as doubts have grown rapidly about the city's leading position as a financial centre. Competition has arisen, for example, from Shanghai's 2020 international financial centre plan, as well as from New York and London, given the economic recovery in the United States and the euro zone since the 2008 global financial crisis.

    After the deal is completed, Citic Group is supposed to move its headquarters to Hong Kong. Just recently during Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's trip to Beijing, he also requested more state firms to consider Hong Kong as the destination for their Asia-Pacific headquarters. Leung is definitely getting something that is much bigger than what he expected.

    The most recent setback for Hong Kong's financial centre ambition is the decision by Alibaba, the mainland's No1 e-commerce firm, to launch its US$15 billion listing in New York.

    The city lost the deal mainly due to its strong defence and unwillingness to change its regulations for just one company's special management structure. Alibaba executives have publicly raised doubts whether Hong Kong is out of fashion and stuck in its own legacy, unable to catch up with the changing times.

    Bill Stacey, chairman of Hong Kong's home-grown think tank Lion Rock Institute, told the South China Morning Post that the Citic deal should definitely be considered as a move by Beijing to strengthen Hong Kong as the leading financial centre for China and the world.
Gerald Hussen

Financial Blog Corliss Group: 'Visitors from Hong Kong top spenders at Indian hotels' - 1 views

'Visitors from Hong Kong top spenders at Indian hotels' Financial Blog Corliss Group
started by Gerald Hussen on 31 Mar 14 no follow-up yet
  • Gerald Hussen
     

    Visitors from Hong Kong have topped the list of travellers paying the most for hotel accommodation...

    Visitors from Hong Kong have topped the list of travellers paying the most for hotel accommodation in India in 2013, parting with an average Rs 8,061 per night, which is six per cent more than what they paid in 2012, says a report.

    Visitors from West Asia stood at the second place, paying Rs 7,909 a night, followed by South Africans, who paid Rs 7,594, Hotels.com said in the report.

    "Travellers from Hong Kong paid the most for hotel accommodation in India in 2013, paying Rs 8,061 a night. This is a 6 per cent increase when compared to what they paid in 2012," according to Hotels.com Hotel Price Index (HPI).

    Travellers from both West Asia and South Africa paid 3 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively, more than the previous year, it showed.

    Financial Blog Corliss Group

    Many of the highest increases were paid by visitors from Europe.

    Among the European nations, travellers from Belgium parted 25 per cent more at Rs 6,363, Finland (22 per cent) at Rs 6,187 and Italy had the same percentage increase, taking its average to Rs 6,098.
    Thailand and China were the fastest risers in Asia with the former up 23 per cent at Rs 6,903 at and the latter up 17 per cent at Rs 7,115.

    Of the few countries whose spending declined, the Brazilians saw the hardest fall, parting with 10 per cent less during 2013 to Rs 6,645, followed by Japan with its own devalued currency deterring foreign travel, down 6 per cent to Rs 7,154.

    Other countries that spent less and were seen at the bottom of the list includes Malaysia where travellers paid the least at Rs 5,315 per night, registering a drop of one per cent, followed by the Russians, down 2 per cent to Rs 5,510 and the Taiwanese, down 5 per cent to Rs 5,517.

    The report, which also listed the top destinations for overseas visitors coming to India, said that Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Bengaluru, Chennai and Jaipur continued to reserve the top six spots in 2013.

    Agra, the Indian city that is known to attract international tourists the most, has dropped two spots. The land of Taj
Gerald Hussen

Financial Blog Corliss Online Group: Barcelona have transfer budget of up to 60 million... - 1 views

Financial Blog Corliss Online Group: Barcelona have transfer budget of up to 60 million euros
started by Gerald Hussen on 14 Mar 14 no follow-up yet
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    BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona will have up to 60 million euros to spend on new players in the close season, according to the man in charge of their economic affairs.( https://news.yahoo.com/barcelona-transfer-budget-60-million-euros-084033530.html )

    "Barca is in a position to buy four players," vice president Javier Faus told Catalunya Radio. "We have between 50 and 60 million euros net for signings."

    The club brought in one player last summer, the controversial signing of Neymar that prompted allegations of misappropriation of funds and tax evasion( http://corlissonlinegroup.com/ ) and resulted in the resignation of president Sandro Rosell.

    Including a payment of 13.5 million euros to the Spanish treasury after fraud charges( http://corlissonlinegroup.com/blog/ )were laid against the club, the Brazil forward ended up costing just under 100 million euros, close to the record fee arch rivals Real Madrid paid for Wales winger Gareth Bale last year.

    Barca did not sign anyone in the January transfer window, disappointing some fans unhappy with a series of shoddy displays in defence.

    At the least, the Spanish champions will need replacements for goalkeeper Victor Valdes and captain and central defender Carles Puyol who have said they are leaving at the end of the season.

    There are also question marks over the futures of reserve goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto and full back Martin Montoya because their contracts expire in June.

    Borussia Moenchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl hinted in January that Marc-Andre ter Stegen would replace Valdes after the Germany keeper rejected a contract extension with the Bundesliga club.

    The 21-year-old has a contract until 2015 but Eberl said he had turned down a new deal and the Bundesliga outfit had decided to allow him to join "a top European side".

    Barca may be in the market for a second new centre back as academy graduate Marc Bartra has yet to win the full confidence of coach Gerardo Martino.

    Follow us at https://twitter.com/CorlissGroupMag for latest news about stock-market.
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Financial Blog Corliss Online Group: Another deficit of clear thinking among Hong Kong'... - 1 views

Financial Blog Corliss Online Group Another deficit of clear thinking among Hong Kong's fiscal planners
started by Gerald Hussen on 12 Mar 14 no follow-up yet
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    Philip Bowring is appalled by the report on fiscal planning(http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1443828/another-deficit-clear-thinking-among-hong-kongs-fiscal) that seeks to preserve the status quo, to protect mega infrastructure spending, yet utterly fails to address our critical challenges

    In 40 years of covering Hong Kong budgets and fiscal issues, I have never seen a document as misleading and contentious as the report of the Working Group on Long Term Fiscal Planning. It is a crude attack on health and welfare spending(http://corlissonlinegroup.com/) in order to find money for already bloated infrastructure spending.

    To add insult to injury, the group is mainly comprised of officials and academics enjoying huge health and pension featherbeds at public expense.

    The starting point for the report is true enough - that Hong Kong has an ageing population and one that is growing only slowly. This has been known long enough. The government has been aware that years of having a very low fertility rate has been a major factor in ageing - but has done nothing to address it.

    The document goes on to present a scare story of ever rising deficits(http://corlissonlinegroup.com/blog/) caused by a stagnating workforce and rising demands for health and welfare spending. Yet it accompanies this with projections for sustained increases in capital works. The non sequitur is backed by references to guidelines laid down by Philip Haddon-Cave in the 1970s - that public spending should be no more than 20 per cent of gross domestic product, and that there should be a significant surplus on the operating budget(http://corlissonlinefinancialmag.tumblr.com/) to provide funds for capital works (in addition to capital works paid by capital revenue).

    Haddon-Cave, a realist, not an ideologue, would be appalled by official inability to see what has changed. Then, Hong Kong had a young, fast-growing workforce and the need for more infrastructure to support an economy based on manufacturing and merchandise trade. Today, we have no manufacturing, a port which is past its peak, and financial and other high-value services whose input needs are not primarily related to concrete.

    Determination to rig the fiscal system to support mega infrastructure projects is further underlined by the report's curt dismissal of the widely supported proposal to shift part of land revenues from capital to recurrent income. This would cause short-term reductions in revenue but long-term gains in stability. But it would not suit the vested interests who are dedicated to wasteful spending on roads and bridges as well as businesses whose profits rely on land price inflation.

    Notions of economic return on capital are now alien to the bureaucracy.

    The document also perpetuates a convenient official lie: that the HK$750 billion surplus of the Monetary Authority is not part of the reserves. It ignores these assets completely, suggesting the group is so ignorant of exchange rate mechanisms that it believes these are needed to defend a currency peg.

    The fact is that the HK$1.5 trillion total reserves belong to the citizens and were accumulated by the government at their expense. There is a moral obligation to return some of these savings to those who earned them as they reach an age when they can no longer work. Pensions are not just a right of civil servants.

    Yet, while drawing almost straight-line charts of health and welfare costs, the report takes no account of the future role of the Mandatory Provident Fund - a scheme that is inadequate and expensive but nonetheless will have an impact on retirement incomes in the future.

    Nor does the report take proper account of the potential for increased workforce participation. This is not surprising, given that government bodies still adhere to retirement at 60. But if the group cared to look at official data, it would have seen that in the past four years, GDP rises have owed much to the rise in participation by those over 45 - from 64.7 per cent to 68 per cent for those 45-64; and from 5.7 per cent to 8.1 per cent for those over 65. This trend is sure to continue as most people need to work after 60.

    There is nothing sacrosanct about limiting public expenditure to 20 per cent of GDP. And even assuming there is abundant reason to privatise some public trading activities and impose genuine user-pays charges on others, a government incapable of adjusting tunnel tolls for car owners but that begrudges spending on the old and infirm is contemptible.

    Of course, Hong Kong must adjust to changing demography as well as a changing economic base. But that demands that it focuses on providing health, education, security and similar services and transfer payments to the old and sick - and assigns much of the capital works to entities required to be self-financing and thus subject to the discipline of the market. The government owns far too many assets already.

    For sure, the tax system is too narrowly based. But this report suggests nothing major to change that.

    The report is basically a public relations exercise to protect the status quo. That is not surprising as it was written by officials with inputs from academic economists and accountants (specialists in tax avoidance). Where were the entrepreneurs, the demographers, the fiscal policy experts, the investment bankers, let alone the representatives of low-income groups?

    John Tsang Chun-wah has shown yet again he is incapable of new thinking, to advance policies that accept welfare responsibilities ungrudgingly and improve the currently abysmal returns on public investment.
Gerald Hussen

Financial Blog Corliss Online Group: Two Systems, One Country - 1 views

Financial Blog Corliss Online Group Two Systems One Country
started by Gerald Hussen on 10 Mar 14 no follow-up yet
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    The brutal attack on the former chief editor of a major Hong Kong newspaper has appalled and shocked this city, where violent crimes are rare. Kevin Lau Chun-to, a veteran journalist who had just stepped down as the chief editor of the respected Ming Pao Daily, was stabbed six times in a hit-and-run attack last week. Fortunately, following surgery, Lau's condition has now stabilized. But for Hong Kong, the wounds will be more lasting. Not only did the attack leave a permanent scar on the freedom of the local press, it may have also laid bare the erosion of Hong Kong's self-autonomy under the phony One Country Two Systems.

    The cause of the attack is still unknown. Sadly, as the hit men are believed to have fled to Mainland China, the hunt for suspects has become more challenging. It is likely, therefore, that the brutal assault might well remain unsolved - a grisly addition to the city's poor record on cracking media-related attacks. Over the past few years, there have been seven other reported incidents in which media professionals and outlets critical of the Hong Kong government and the Beijing authorities were threatened or attacked; none have been solved by the otherwise effective police.

    Lau was at the eye of a storm just two months ago when he was removed from chief-editorship after serving for only two years (his predecessor had held the post for 15 years) and transferred to a non-editorial position. The plan is to replace him with a Malaysian editor who seems to have little experience in Hong Kong news reporting. Pundits have linked the unusual personnel shift to Ming Pao's owner, Zhang Xiaoqing, a Malaysian billionaire with business ties in China, who may been seeking to tone down the critical character of the newspaper. Although many Ming Pao journalists resisted the move, the soft-spoken Lau accepted it without open opposition. That is why people were shocked not just by the attack itself, but also by the fact that the target was Lau, seen among journalists as a moderate personality. Even though Ming Pao largely retained its critical voice under his leadership, Lau, who is well connected with government officials and politicians from across the spectrum, seems unlikely to have been seen as a "problem child" in the eyes of the authorities.

    Dwindling Press Freedom

    What is most troubling, therefore, is that even such a moderate liberal style can attract such brutal violence; a "lesson" that might well have long-term repercussions for critical journalism. The implications are important. The generally moderate Ming Pao has been renowned for its investigative journalism on socio-political affairs in both Hong Kong and China. Among its outstanding coverage under Lau, the paper worked with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) as the only Chinese media company on a project about offshore money leaks, which led to a story in mid-January about the offshore holdings of former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's family members. Similar reports that exposed the enormous wealth of high-ranking Chinese officials that have appeared in foreign media, namely The New York Times and Bloomberg News, have also resulted in reprisals such as visa delays from Beijing. Although there is no evidence to link that particular Ming Pao story to the assault, the ICIJ report has certainly attracted the most speculation.

    Read full article at http://thediplomat.com/2014/03/hong-kong-two-systems-one-country/

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Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong Reading Spain's economy through art sales - 1 views

Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong Reading Spain's economy through art sales
started by Gerald Hussen on 08 Mar 14 no follow-up yet
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    Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong Reading Spain's Economy Through Art Sales

    Spain's art world was whiplashed by the country's bubbly rise and quick collapse. Signs of the trauma linger at this year's ARCOmadrid art fair.

    FORTUNE -- At this year's 33rd edition of Spain's ARCOmadrid contemporary art fair, it was pretty easy to tell where you stood in the art world hierarchy.

    If you visited over the weekend, you were one of a diminished group of 100,000 or so civilians who forked out between 20 and 40 euros ($27.50 and $55) to bask in art that ran from canonized names like photorealist painter Richard Estes to up-and-comers like Mexican installation artist Héctor Zamora. But if you attended on Wednesday or Thursday, you were likely one of the 400 or so rich folks and art institution bigwigs who'd been invited to Spain, your trip paid in full, in the hopes that you might drop some serious dough on art.

    All major art fairs have VIP programs designed to attract big spenders. But ARCO's dedication of 20% of its 4.5 million euro budget to inviting buyers and promoting the fair overseas shows how Spain's economic crisis -- now more than five years old -- has forced the fair to turn its attention from national museums and modest local buyers to big international collectors.

    "In the years before the crisis, there were a lot of sales to domestic institutions. This has disappeared, and now there are more sales to foreign collectors," said Carlos Urroz, ARCO's director since 2010.

    MORE: Buffett keeps mum on stocks and successor
    Spain's art world was whiplashed by the country's bubbly rise and quick collapse. The Spanish art market grew 200% between 2002 and 2007, from 160 million to 480 million euros, only to crash to 271 million euros in 2009, according to a study led by Clare McAndrew, founder of research firm Arts Economics, for Barcelona's Arte y Mecenazgo foundation. The market has recovered only slightly since, hurt in part by the government's increase of its VAT (sales tax) on art works from 18% to 21% in 2012 (up from 16% in 2010).

    "We're doing very badly compared to pre-crisis," said Idoia Fernández, sitting in the white ARCO cube of Madrid's Galería Nieves Fernández, where she is the director. "Last year, if it weren't for foreigners, ARCO would have been a disaster. We sold only one piece to a Spanish collector last year at ARCO, for 3,000 euros."

    It's hard to know how a fair is doing, as many are loath to divulge overall sales numbers. Urroz couches his response in gallery "satisfaction."

    "We don't have sales figures," he said. "We know the level of satisfaction of the galleries, and we are confident this year will be better."

    What numbers are available aren't good. In 2003 and 2004, ARCO's visitor numbers hit a high of 200,000 people annually, but this number fell to 127,500 in 2012 and an estimated 100,000 this year. And big Spanish institutional buyers -- especially ones dependent on government support -- have cut their spending. Take the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, which trimmed its ARCO budget from 927,762 euros in 2010 to 700,000 euros in 2012, 318,999 euros in 2013, and 204,625 euros this year.

    Which brings us back to the international collectors. With local money scarce, ARCO has flown in international collectors and added foreign galleries from Latin America to show those collectors pieces they wouldn't see elsewhere.

    When I walked through ARCO a few hours after it opened on Wednesday, the first collector and industry day, the fair's redefinition appeared to be working. The VAT had been dropped to about 15.5%, and the halls were full of elder gentlemen in expensive casual wear, women of a certain age who'd undergone extreme plastic surgery, and young guys with tight pants and waxed moustaches.

    "Since Carlos has run the fair, it's made an enormous step forward. It has become so international. Not just European collectors, but ones from Latin America and the U.S.," said Thomas Krinzinger of Austria's Galerie Krinzinger, who noted that he'd already sold two pieces for between 30,000 and 50,000 euros.
    And it seemed that even some wealthy Spanish buyers had returned.

    MORE: Why Google should acquire Tesla
    Marcia Gail Levine, special projects director at New York's Marlborough Gallery, said that the gallery had already sold four pieces by Juan Genovés for around 100,000 euros and two by Manolo Valdés for some 200,000 euros to Spanish and American collectors. "Even though there was a crisis, there are certain artists we have that people in Spain were buying. We weren't hit that bad," she said. To drive home Marlborough's immunity to Spanish flu, gallery president Pierre Levai added that ARCO's generally bad 2012 was an "exceptionally good" year for Marlborough.

    To be sure, the international rich have only grown richer in the post-crisis years, and Marlborough is a high-end giant that "virtually invented the modern art market," according to The Observer. The story is not the same for the middle class of the art world, which, just like the middle class elsewhere, has been squeezed.

    "The professionals and the rich come the first days to make big buys. If you have 50 million euros and it goes to 40 million, it doesn't change anything. But on the weekend, the people pay 4,000 to 5,000 euros to buy something. That wave is more affected by the crisis," said Juan Ignacio García Velilla, director of the Altxerri gallery in San Sebastián, Spain.

    Idoia Fernández of Galería Nieves Fernández, for one, was saddened by the disappearance of the middle-class buyers who used to buy art at the fair on weekends.

    "The market of younger professionals who would buy art instead of a 800 euro TV has disappeared," said Fernández, who had sold three pieces valued between 2,000 and 14,000 euros when we talked the first day. "We'd extended the market to them in Spain, but it's disappeared. Which is a shame. We had made buying art much more normal."

    Still, things seemed a little brighter, she said. "This year, we've already sold two pieces to Spanish collectors," she said with a laugh. "So we've doubled our Spanish sales."

    Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong Reading Spain's Economy Through Art Sales

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Gerald Hussen

Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong 5 Can't Miss Investing Stories Last Week - 1 views

Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong 5 Can't Miss Investing Stories Last Week
started by Gerald Hussen on 06 Mar 14 no follow-up yet
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    Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong 5 Can't Miss Investing Stories Last Week

    Let the good times roll!

    The S&P/TSX Composite Index (TSX:^OSPTX) continued its month-long winning streak last week with the equity gauge nearing a three-year high. However, there were a number of important corporate reports for investors to shift through as well. Here are the top five can't-miss headlines from the past week.

    1. BlackBerry signals shift to enterprise

    Shares of BlackBerry (TSX:BB)(NYSE:BBRY) rallied this week, up almost 8%, after a series of interesting product announcements.

    New Chief Executive John Chen unveiled several new initiatives at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona including a new Q20 model that brings back its "classic" keyboard and a cheaper Z3 BlackBerry that will cost under US$200. The company is also releasing BBM for enterprise users and revamping its BlackBerry Enterprise Server. These new initiatives suggest that Mr. Chen's focus is squarely on the corporate client.

    Ford Motor also admitted that it will be looking at switching the operating system for its vehicle infotainment systems from Microsoft's Sync to BlackBerry's QNX. And while this is far from a done deal yet, the possibility of finding QNX in every new vehicle from America's second largest automaker is an exciting prospect.

    2. Is this company the next Johnson & Johnson?

    Valeant Pharmaceuticals (TSX:VRX)(NYSE:VRX) has returned to profitability and more than doubled its revenues.

    Thanks in large part to the acquisition of contact lens maker Bausch + Lomb Holdings, Canada's largest publicly traded drug company reported fourth-quarter revenue reached $2.1 billion, up 109% year-over-year. Net income came in at $124 million or $0.36 per share, compared with a loss of $89.1 million or $0.29 during the same period last year.

    Valeant has grown quickly over the past several years through acquisitions. Buying small drug makers and pushing new products through the company's large distribution network has proven to be an incredibly profitable business model.

    In January, executives even predicted that the firm would join the world's top five pharmaceutical companies by market capitalization by the end of 2016. After these recent quarterly results, that goal seems attainable.

    3. Obama sets deadline for Keystone decision

    U.S. President Barack Obama has signalled he will make a decision on TransCanada's (TSX:TRP)(NYSE:TRP) controversial Keystone XL pipeline before the summer.

    During a meeting on Monday between the president and several governors at the White House, Mr. Obama indicated a decision would be made on the project once his aides have had an opportunity to review the State Department's environmental assessment. The signal is dampening concerns the administration will delay the controversial decision until after mid-term congressional elections in the fall.

    A resolution to this issue will be a relief, not just for TransCanada shareholders, but the entire oil sands industry.

    4. Tim Hortons eyeing expansion

    Tim Hortons (TSX:THI)(NYSE:THI) has its eyes set on expansion.

    At the company's annual investor conference, management said that it will focus on defending its turf in Canada from new rivals like McDonald's and Starbucks and called the United States a 'must-win battle'. During the presentation executives announced plans to open 800 restaurants in North America and 220 in the Middle East over the next five years.

    Some investors may want to question the wisdom of this strategy. With a coffee shop on every corner of North American cities, how many more do we need? And with margins in the sector beginning to decline, it's becoming apparent that the industry is saturated. Perhaps shareholders would be better off if that growth capital was simply returned to them in the form of dividends and share buybacks.

    5. Banks deliver another round of dividend hikes

    Canada's banking industry continues to pile on the profits.

    Amid signs of a cooling Canadian economy, the country's largest lenders are reporting stellar results. And shareholders get to share in the industry's success with another round of dividend hikes.

    Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY)(NYSE:RY) says its first-quarter net income was $2.09 billion, up $45 million or 2% year-over-year. Excluding some items, RBC's adjusted diluted earnings per share was $1.47, which was above the general analyst estimate. And as a parting gift to shareholders, exiting Chief Executive Gord Nixon also announced its quarterly dividend will increase by 6% to $0.71 cents per share.

    Surprising investors, TD Bank (TSX:TD)(NYSE:TD) and CIBC (TSX:CM)(NYSE:CM) also raised their quarterly payouts by a hearty 8.5% and 2.1% respectively.

    Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong 5 Can't Miss Investing Stories Last Week

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Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong Between A Rock and Hard Place - 2 views

Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong Between A Rock and Hard Place
started by Gerald Hussen on 06 Mar 14 no follow-up yet
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    Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong Between a rock and hard place

    One of a handful of Britain's remaining possessions, Gibraltar is an interesting anachronism says Gillian Vine.
    Last year, sabre-rattling Spaniards soured relations with Britain, saying it was time they had Gibraltar back.
    No you can't have it, said the British Government, supported by most of Gibraltar's 29,500 citizens, who rallied around the slogan ''Let no-one dare untie this knot''.

    The Spanish response was border checks with consequently long queues and delays, so I was pleased to come into Gibraltar by sea, during a port-hopping Mediterranean cruise.
    But how did the Brits acquire this 6.7sq km chunk of Spain?

    In a sense, it was Spain's own fault, or rather that of King Carlos II, who died childless in 1700.
    He had nominated as his successor his 16-year-old great-nephew, Philip, Duke of Anjou, who duly was crowned with the support of his grandfather, French King Louis XIV.

    It sounded fairly straightforward but another of Louis' grandsons, Austria's Archduke Charles, also fancied the Spanish throne.
    Britain, Holland and Portugal joined the Austrians in getting behind Charles and they fought it out.

    The Spanish War of Succession was won by Austria and her allies, although one has to wonder what the point was, as Philip became king after all.
    Admittedly, it was under a deal whereby he gave up all claims to the French throne, while the long-term winner was probably Britain, which was handed Gibraltar in 1713 as part of the Treaty of Utrecht.

    Its location overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar meant the new territory was ideally situated as a military base.
    The Battle of Trafalgar took place off Point Trafalgar, some 60km from Gibraltar, in October 1805.

    After the defeat of a 33-strong French and Spanish fleet by 27 Royal Navy vessels, under the command of Admiral Horatio Nelson, wounded seamen were taken to Gibraltar.
    However, as headstones in the little Trafalgar Cemetery mutely testify, not all the wounded survived.

    Nelson died during the battle and his body, preserved in a barrel of brandy, was taken ashore at Gibraltar before being transferred to England for a state funeral.
    Gibraltar was of strategic importance to the British during World War 2 and despite Adolf Hitler urging Spain to grab back the territory, the Spanish - who now undoubtedly regret their inaction - stayed neutral.

    British military leaders ordered the construction of a network of tunnels inside the Rock of Gibraltar to provide secure accommodation and storage.
    The idea wasn't new, for as early as 1782 defensive tunnels had been dug and even before that, there were stories that the Rock was hollow, probably based on the existence of St Michael's Cave, an immense limestone cavern where Neolithic skulls and rock drawings have been found.

    This cave was utilised during World War 2, too, with a hospital set up there.
    Two-hour tours of the tunnel complex and cave are available and a combined ticket is £8 ($NZ16) per person.

    My father-in-law, a Royal Navy signalman, was stationed on Gibraltar during World War 2 and described being left perched halfway up the Rock during an enemy attack, watching his ship sailing away without him.

    Seeing the old signals station on an exposed site high up the Rock brought home to me how vulnerable he must have felt, but he survived and rejoined his ship some time later.
    A ride on the cable car to the top of the Rock (£8.50 one way, or £10.50 return) is a must for any visitor.

    I opted for the return but had the weather been better would have ridden up and walked down via the nature reserve, even though I wouldn't want too many close encounters with the Barbary apes with their formidable teeth.
    Until 1984, when it closed its major dockyard, the British Ministry of Defence was the mainstay of Gibraltar's economy, accounting for more than a third of all spending.

    Things perked up in 1985, when the reopening of the border with Spain at La Linea de la Concepcion enabled visitors to pop across for a day's bargain hunting.
    These days, Main St resembles the high street of any bustling English town, with all the usual British chain stores such as Marks and Spencers, Dorothy Perkins and British Home Stores.

    Because Gibraltar is duty free, there are great buys in more expensive cosmetics (I bought face cream at half the price I pay at home), perfumes, high-end jewellery, tobacco and alcohol, the latter at prices well below those anywhere else in Europe, or New Zealand, for that matter.

    However, with the Spanish economy improving and cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia showcasing their beautiful buildings, old and new, to attract tourists, Gibraltar looks rather like the poor relation.

    Away from the central hub, apart from newer apartment blocks things appear somewhat shabby.
    Maybe handing Gibraltar back to Spain would inject some welcome EU dosh into the territory but no loyal royalist would ever dare untie the knot.
    Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong Between a rock and hard place
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Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong ZTE to launch new phones at Barcelona Mobi... - 1 views

Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong ZTE to launch new phones at Barcelona Mobile World Congress
started by Gerald Hussen on 05 Mar 14 no follow-up yet
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    Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong ZTE to launch new phones at Barcelona Mobile World Congress

    Chinese mobile phone maker ZTE announced on Tuesday that it will use the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week to launch its new Grand Memo II, as well as the new ZTE Open C smartphone which runs on Firefox OS 1.3, and a new MiFavor 2.3 interface.

    The company's general director of mobiles and executive vice-president of the corporation, Adam Zeng commented that this year the company was working to collaborate more closely with its clients throughout the world and developing products.

    He added that at the 2014 Mobile World Congress, which opens in Barcelona on Feb. 24 and closes on Feb. 27, the company will present these new devices in collaboration with Mozilla and Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica, which is the biggest network provider in Spain and which has a massive presence in Latin America and other parts of the world.

    "We are certain 2014 will be our year," said Zeng.

    ZTE will use the congress to show off its full range of mobile devices, among which are the Grand S II smartphone, the Blad range and the Nubia range, which in December last year outsold Apple, Samsung and Nokia on the Jingdong Mall online store in China.

    The company will also be displaying devices for mobile hotspots and a new smartwatch.
    Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong ZTE to launch new phones at Barcelona Mobile World Congress

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Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong World's first physical bitcoin store opens... - 1 views

Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong World's first physical bitcoin store opens in HK
started by Gerald Hussen on 04 Mar 14 no follow-up yet
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    Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong World's first physical bitcoin store opens in HK

    The world's first physical retail store selling the controversial virtual currency bitcoin has opened in Hong Kong.

    The 40-square-meter shop, located in the western district of Sai Ying Pun and operated by Asia Nexgen Bitcoin Exchange, officially opened for business on Feb. 28. The local exchange holds a money service operator license from Hong Kong's customs and excise department.

    The Hong Kong Monetary Authority views bitcoin as a virtual commodity as opposed to a virtual currency, which therefore enables Asia Nexgen to accept payments to acquire bitcoin the commodity, not bitcoin the currency.

    Customers must first provide an ID card and proof of address to comply with customs and excuse rules on money laundering before they can make a transaction at the store through their digital wallets.

    The first customer to the store following the ribbon-cutting ceremony spent $HK100 (US$12.90) to purchase roughly 0.022 bitcoins, according to market rates listed on the US-based CoinBase exchange at the time.

    Ken Lo, co-founder and CEO of Asia Nexgen, said the store could help raise the popularity of bitcoin. "The biggest issue people have right now is buying the bitcoin. People have to put money in, trade it through an exchange online," he said.

    "Now, you walk into the store, hand over your cash and send the bitcoin to your digital wallet," he added.

    The store opened on the same day that Japanese bitcoin exchange MtGox was forced to file for bankruptcy protection after claiming to have lost nearly half a billion dollars' worth of bitcoins in an alleged theft last Tuesday.

    Lo said the MtGox debacle was only "a drop in the bucket" and that there is no "shortage of demand" for bitcoins at the moment.

    Bitcoins were trading at around US$572 on Coinbase on Sunday.

    Late last year, China's central bank stated that bitcoin was a digital currency and prohibited third-party payment processors from providing bitcoin transaction services.
    Corliss Group Online Financial Mag Hong Kong World's first physical bitcoin store opens in HK

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