Even James Bond Preferred Cash Over Gold

by Shelton on November 30th, 2015

filed under Business Loans

Im based in London these days, and its hard to escape the sense of history that pervades this amazing city. When I saw gold futures quoted at $1,066 today, I thought back to two events. Im about 89 miles from Hastings, the site of the famous battle in 1066 between the Norman-French army under William II — known thereafter as William the Conqueror — and the Anglo-Saxon army under the command of King Harold. Williams flag was emblazoned with a gold cross.

Im also about 25 miles from Stoke Park, the golf club where the legendary scene in Goldfinger was filmed. James Bond throws off Goldfingers putting aim by dropping a Nazi gold bar as hes about to putt, and wins the value of that bar by beating Goldfinger in their golf match.

So, two key takeaways from my British history lesson:

  • Gold has been used as a store of value for millennia.
  • James Bond knew that a check made out to cash was more valuable than gold.

As I have watched gold futures plummet this year, I am constantly tempted to try and bottom-fish.

If youve read my Real Money columns, youll know Im not bullish on the stock market at these levels. I actively manage money for my clients, and we do need to keep our dollars warm somewhere, however.

So, does one buy gold today in hopes of a rebound? Unless you are looking for a purely technical, 2% to 4% short-term flip trade, the answer is no.

Gold prices have declined for the same reason that so many other commodity prices — oil, copper, iron ore, and others have: Chinas economy is slowing.

Gold prices rose to an all-time high of $1,896 per troy ounce in 2008 as the greatest commodity super-cycle known to man flourished after Chinas entry into the World Trade Organization in December 2001.

That feels like a long time ago — because it was. Chinas now transitioning from a building economy to a spending economy, and thats not good for Chinese gold demand.

Spending economies require actual cash money for the purpose of that spending, thus the value of hoarding precious metals depreciates. That, of course, depreciates the price of the metal itself, and its a vicious cycle.

Weve seen tremendous volatility in the Shanghai stock market in the last four months, and one might surmise the Chinese retail investor has an itchy trigger finger. Thats not a value judgment — believe me, I have been part of some massive volatility with the US-based micro-caps I trade — merely an indication of investor sentiment.

One can imagine an average Chinese investor asking himself: Gold has not done well, so why do I own gold? Its a reasonable question, but the problem for the world markets is that China was supposed to provide the marginal demand for gold.

Thats true of all commodities. We can produce more. This was a common theme in West Texas in 2012 to 2014 among exploration and production executives I spent time with. The reason was that Chinese demand growth will sop up the excess production. That philosophy works well until it doesnt, and now we are seeing the consequences across the commodity spectrum.

Other commodities have intrinsic value — the combustive power of the carbon in oil, the conductive properties of copper, etc.– but gold does not. Its industrial uses are quite limited, and demand for gold jewelry tends to move in concert with gold prices — ie, people are often buying gold jewelry — especially in places such as India — at least partially as an investment.

So, the case for buying gold is a tough one to make today. Its the equivalent of fighting the tape by buying a stock that has underperformed for many months. Most of the time the tape is right, and I dont want to be on its bad side when it comes to gold right now.

Cash receipts: not going anyway anytime soon

by Shelton on November 30th, 2015

filed under Business Loans

John Bultema, executive VP, treasury management and currency processing solutions for Fifth Third Bank, spoke with Chain Store Age editor Marianne WIlson about the current status of cash receipts in retail store. And how they arent going away anytime soon.

What is the current status of cash handling in retail stores?
Overall, cash as a form of receipts has had a very slow to marginal decline in retail. In some industries such as restaurant, convenience store, and fueling stations, cash usage has remained relatively flat.
While mobile payments are getting a lot of attention, the early results show that existing debit and credit users are the ones transitioning to mobile, not cash users. As the value of cash receipts declines, the cost of handling cash increases on a relative basis.

How do retailers typically handle cash receipts?
It varies from company to company or store to store, but retailers generally have a system in place that involves multiple individuals responsible for handling cash, counting down drawers throughout the day, dual control processes for the end-of-day deposit process and responsibility for counting down or building till amounts for the next-business-day activity.

Implementing a program such as Fifth Third Banks processing solutions (CPS) allows retail managers to eliminate many of these back-office functions, giving retailers the opportunity to redirect staff to focus on customer-based objectives rather than the administrative activities. It also helps free up key store resources to allow them to spend more time focused on creating a more personalized and memorable shopping experience.

What challenges do retailers face in managing cash receipts?
There are several factors that are causing retailers to think differently about handling cash, including that most financial institutions are reducing the number of brick and mortar branches available for commercial deposits.
Also, in some cases, financial institutions are significantly increasing the deposit charges on commercial clients depositing in banking centers. Both scenarios are resulting in clients either developing more banking relationships to satisfy their stores footprint or to consider alternatives such as smart safe technology or virtual vault.
In addition, there are a number of external factors motivating the retail industry to leverage technology, data and, ultimately, automation to gain efficiencies, improve working capital, and create scale across their enterprise.
We are hearing a fairly consistent message from clients that managing armor car service providers can be a time consuming and expensive task. Having a single point of contact to manage the relationships on their behalf allows them to focus on activities more relevant to their internal and external clients.

Tell us a little about Fifth Third Bank.
Fifth Third Bank is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. The company had $142 billion in assets and operates 1,295 full-service banking centers, including 99 Bank Mart locations, most open seven days a week, inside select grocery stores.
We also operate 2,650 ATMs in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Georgia and North Carolina.
Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer Lending, and Investment Advisors.
It is among the largest money managers in the Midwest and, as of September 30, 2015, had $297 billion in assets under care, of which it managed $25 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations.
Fifth Third Bank was established in 1858. Member FDIC.

How does Fifth Third Banks currency processing solutions work?
Our CPS is an innovative, remote cash-capture solution helping automate the cash-handling process that begins with the time clients collect the cash payment to the time the money is deposited and credited into their account.
The CPS daily provisional credit helps clients consolidate banking relationships, improve working capital, helps reduce the risk of fraud and theft, and helps facilitate the bank reconciliation process by virtually eliminating adjustments.
CPS is provided in coordination with a bank-approved armored courier provider. In partnering with an armored courier, Fifth Third is able to lead the industry by leveraging remote payment processing technology in conjunction with our cash solutions.
Based on the clients business needs, cash will be retrieved from the smart safe by an armored carrier for delivery to the cash vault. Information from the device is then used to provide clients with provisional credit based on the prior days activities.
Fifth Third manages all aspects of the solution including the smart safe hardware, software, and maintenance supplier, armor courier pick-up and delivery, implementation, program management, online reporting and portal, and 24/7 customer service as a single point of contact for our clients.

Are these services unusual?
It is unusual to see a financial institution commit and invest in a managed services approach. Nearly all financial institutions will provide a provisional credit solution in conjunction with a national armor car supplier to deliver an end-to-end smart safe solution, however, we are the only bank that has taken a holistic managed services approach.
Over a period of eight years, Fifth Third has learned from others within the industry as to what works well, what doesnt, what our customers need, and where the market is heading.

What advantages does it offer over other solutions?
CPS offers all of the traditional benefits of using a smart safe solution such as reduction in cash-handling expenses, labor reduction and reallocation, and safety and security of employees, customers, and cash.
The managed services approach within CPS offers clients more benefits not available with traditional options such as supplier management, comprehensive program and implementation management, 24/7 dedicated client support, real-time information reporting with proactive notification on events and activity, all through a single point of contact with Fifth Third Bank.

If you could give retailers one piece of advice when it comes to managing the cash they receive from customers, what would it be?
There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for how your company handles and manages cash. Factors such as risk, location, cash value and amounts and available resources should be factored into choosing the best solution for your business. We have clients that have deployed a comprehensive deposit solution across an enterprise using a combination of branch banking, virtual cash vaults with armor car service, smart safe, and recycler soultions.

Volkswagen: No cash for European diesel buyers, no major cuts for US operations

by Shelton on November 29th, 2015

filed under Business Loans

Volkswagens North American operations will survive the diesel scandal mostly unscathed.

Ralf Hirschberger/dpa/Corbis

If youre a US car owner affected by Volkswagens diesel debacle, things might not be going great right now. One look at the European market, however, suggests matters could be worse.

Not only are European VW owners not collecting the same goodwill package as US customers, but it appears that Europe will receive the majority of the automakers planned budget cuts.

In the United States, owners of diesel vehicles affected by the automakers emissions-cheating software are eligible to receive a benefits package totaling $1,000 (directly converted, about £660 or AU$1,400). This package includes a gift card that can be spent anywhere, along with a card that only works at participating dealerships.

Cost is likely a factor in the German automakers decision not to extend the same benefits to European customers. Only 480,000 cars are affected by Dieselgate in the US, compared to some 8.5 million vehicles in Europe. Offering a US-style package in Europe would cost the company about $8 billion by itself. In lieu of cash, VW will offer European customers a package meant to mitigate inconveniences caused by the recalls forthcoming remedy, according to Automotive News, but details are scarce.

Sprint set for $1.1B cash boost following device supply reorg

by Shelton on November 28th, 2015

filed under Business Loans

Sprint is set to receive $1.1 billion in cash as part of a transaction involving its device leasing business, working in partnership with parent company SoftBank on a deal that is said to “more closely align” the operator’s cash flows with those associated with supplying equipment to customers.

But at the same time it has trimmed its adjusted EBITDA guidance for fiscal 2015, to $6.8 billion-$7.1 billion from $7.2 billion-$7.6 billion. This is based on the inclusion of transformation programme costs and the devices transactions, although the latter will be accretive to free cash flow.

Tarek Robbiati, CFO of Sprint, said: “Providing mobile devices to customers is the biggest use of cash in the carrier model and with this new structure we have more closely aligned Sprint’s cash flows with those associated with leasing devices to our customers”.

Reuters noted that current two-year installment plans delay money coming to Sprint for handset payments, while it still needs to make up-front purchases from device makers. This has created a cash draw for Sprint, as it looks to transform its fortunes after a long period of woe.

Sprint signed a deal with newly formed business Mobile Leasing Solutions for the sale and lease back of certain devices that are in turn leased to customers, raising $1.1 billion in cash ($1.2 billion total consideration) in exchange for around $1.3 billion of leased device assets.

The transaction, which is expected to close early next month, will improve its liquidity with an “attractive cost of capital, which is well below Sprint’s alternatives in the high-yield debt market”. It is also said to create a “repeatable structure for mitigating the working capital impacts associated with leasing devices to Sprint customers”.

Mobile Leasing Solutions was formed by a group of equity investors including SoftBank, and has secured debt financing from several lenders including international banks and leasing companies.

Brightstar
Another SoftBank unit, Brightstar, has provided support through its financial services business.

Mobile Leasing Solutions is using Brightstar’s lease management and tracking system, and it will also provide reverse logistics and device remarketing services, which will include a forward purchase agreement that is being finalised with Foxconn, “thus minimising the downside risk of future changes in device residual values”.

According to The Wall Street Journal, reaction to the deal was mixed, with some questions over whether it actually improves Sprint’s operating model, or instead just moves some risk off the balance sheet.

More consumers approved for car loans

by Shelton on November 28th, 2015

filed under Below Average Credit

  • Email
  • Consumers are getting approved for car loans in larger numbers than ever since the recession, according to Experian Automotives most recent State of the Automotive Finance Market report.

    The group found that auto loans reached their highest levels, $968 billion, in the 3rd quarter of 2015, a growth of more than 53% since their low in 2010 and a $98 billion increase over the previous year.

    Continued growth in the automotive finance market is a clear sign of improved consumer confidence over the past few years, said Melinda Zabritski, Experians senior director of automotive finance, in a news release.

    Super prime consumers get a bump

    The largest increase in new auto loans went to those buyers with the best credit scores, so-called super prime consumers, increasing 8.3% over last year.

    If youre thinking of shopping for a car, first check your credit score for free at myBankrate.

    Do you have a thin credit file?

    There also was good news for consumers with below average credit scores. Those in the subprime and nonprime categories experienced increases of 7.8% and 7.7%, respectively, showing its getting easier to obtain car loans.

    Consumers who were late on their car payments also declined in the 3rd quarter of 2015. Delinquencies of 30 days dropped from 2.7% to 2.5% compared to the same time period a year earlier, while 60-day delinquencies dropped slightly from 0.74% to 0.73%.

    Before you buy, fix your credit before seeking a car loan.

    Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter  @SheDrives.

    Debt Consolidation USA Talks About Risks And Investments

    by Shelton on November 27th, 2015

    filed under Debt Consolidation

    Debt Consolidation USA shared in a recently published article some of the ways consumers can handle investment risks. The article titled “How To Manage Financial Risk As You Make Investments” looks at some tips people can use to help manage potential risks when investing and preparing for their future.

    Covington’s Lendmark Financial Services to acquire 127 branches

    by Shelton on November 27th, 2015

    filed under Debt Consolidation

    Lendmark Financial Services, LLC, based at 2118 Usher Street in Covington, has reached an agreement to acquire 127 branch offices and related loan assets from Springleaf Financial.

    The move will extend Lendmarks presence into Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Ohio, Texas, Washington and California, while also expanding its presence in a number of the 13 states it already operates in.

    With the acquisition Lendmark is set to become a leader in the consumer finance industry.

    Since Lendmark started in 1996, weve built the company by employing both organic and acquisition growth strategies. This acquisition will expand our customer base and allow us to broaden our commitment to providing quality lending products and personal customer service to our customers and retail partners, said Bobby Aiken, Lendmark CEO.

    Lendmark strives every day to be the lender, employer, and partner of choice.

    In order to best support the new geographic footprint, Lendmark plans to create various centralized facilities and operations centers that will enable the company to effectively and efficiently serve branches, customers and merchants.

    Completion of the transaction is subject to satisfaction of a number of customary closing conditions, including approval of the state licensing authorities in the states where the acquired branches are located. The parties have agreed that Lendmarks acquisition of the branches can be completed through multiple closings as the various state approvals are received. It is expected that the initial closing will occur in the spring of 2016. Barclays and Stephens acted as financial advisors to Lendmark in this transaction and fully committed financing is provided by Barclays and Goldman Sachs.

    The Covington-based financial institution was founded in 1996, and offers personal loans, automobile loans, debt consolidation loans and merchant retail sales financing services.

    Landmark has been great partners with the city of Covington, Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston said. Were very, very happy about their success and continued growth. Were a willing and able partner, and we wish them the best.

    Thief swipes cash from charity jar

    by Shelton on November 26th, 2015

    filed under Business Loans

    The Grinch came extra early this year, as a someone reportedly stole cash Saturday from a charity collection container aimed at helping low income and housebound veterans.

    The program “Sacks of Hope” and its founder Gazella “Giz” Robison were recently profiled in an Examiner-Enterprise Veterans Day story.

    “I’m not sure exactly how much was stolen, but I think it was around a $100,” she told the E-E Monday morning. “It’s kind of a sad thing that someone would steal something like that around the holidays.”

    She said, earlier that morning, the cafe had hosted area coaches for the breakfast that they host twice a year. A collection jar designated for the Sacks of Hope Charity is kept at the front of the restaurant near the cash register. Robison said the jar contained more cash than usual in that many of the coaches donated to the fund.

    “After lunch, I went to the front and was straightening up the community table, which is where the donation jar is, and noticed that there were only three dollar bills left in the jar.”

    She says that the money hadn’t even been counted by the time of the theft.

    “There was some leftover from the days before, too,” she said. “I only empty it about once a week.”

    Ironically, the Ahava Cafe was originally founded as Sacks of Hope, but grew to the point of needing extra funding.

    “I started hearing about hardships of World War II vets and Gulf War vets. You’d hear about them eating nothing but lettuce all week because that’s all they had after all their medical costs and expenses. So I started taking meals to them. The restaurant really started out of that,” she said. “The Ahava was originally called ‘Fund Sacks of Hope.'”

    The program serves about 15 veterans, three of which are World War II vets.

    “We use that money to get food for them, to make meals and deliver them,” she said, adding she reported the incident to the Dewey Police, but that she doesn’t expect to get the money back.

    “Maybe whoever took it was a needy person that thought they needed it more,” she said.

    Anyone with any information into the theft is asked to call the Dewey Police Department at 918-534-2223.

    BROWNSTONE LAW GROUP: DEBT RELIEF SERVICES NOW AVAILABLE TO ALL CALIFORNIANS

    by Shelton on November 26th, 2015

    filed under Debt Consolidation

    Orange, CA – November 19, 2015 – Credit card debt is a major concern for millions of Americans. According to government statistics, the average American owes over $15,000 in credit card debt. This leaves thousands of people wondering how to correct their financial problem. A debt settlement law firm based in Orange County, California, Brownstone Law Group, recently announced their expansion to offer debt relief solutions to thousands of people throughout California.

    Based in Orange County, Brownstone Law Group also offers services in San Diego and Los Angeles. The skilled and dedicated debt settlement lawyers at each branch offer several debt relief services to the area, including Debt Negotiation, Debt Consolidation, Debt Settlement, and can also fileyour Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. A company representative meets with each client at any location outside the office to provide convenient, one-to-one counselling.

    Debt Negotiation

    Debt negotiation is a structured savings plan, specifically designed to help people reduce unsecured debt. This savings plan allows consumers to set aside a certain amount of money each month to pay off creditors.

    Debt Consolidation

    Debt consolidation services help consumers, particularly those with credit card debt, by bundling all of their unsecured debt. Bundling multiple overdue bills into one monthly payment makes it easier for consumers to pay off their debt over time.

    Debt Settlement

    In a debt settlement case, debt settlement companies will represent the consumer to their creditors in order to negotiate a reduced settlement. With this service, the debt settlement attorneys at Brownstone Law Group can contact a clients creditors on their behalf to negotiate a settlement amount – potentially lowering the total overdue amount, making it easier for clients to make manageable payments. Results vary and are not guaranteed.

    Bankruptcy

    There are two primary bankruptcy chapters available to California residents: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Each of these chapters includes specific qualifications and offer certain advantages and disadvantages to borrowers. The knowledgeable attorneys at Brownstone Law Group will discuss bankruptcy options and help clients determine which option would be best for their situation.

    Too often, families endure financial hardships – loss of jobs, layoffs, etc. These hardships often require families to borrow money or place transactions on their credit card in order to lsquo;stay afloat. However, what often happens is that this credit accumulates over time, eventually becoming a financial catastrophe. The skilled debt settlement lawyers at Brownstone Law Group offer debt relief and consolidation to help families all over the state of California get out of debt, for some, in as little as 48 months.

    Brownstone Law Group is a respected member of the legal community offering personalized, custom tailored debt settlement programs to the residents of California. They are pleased to expand their service to all of California beginning immediately.

    If you would like more information, please contact Thomas A. Moore at 323-443-7136 or visit http://brownstonelawgroup.com

    Attorney Advertisement: This article has been reviewed and approved by Thomas A. Moore, managing attorney Brownstone Law Group, PC. California Bar #148698. This article is for informational purposes only, does not provide legal or tax advice of any kind or form any type of attorney/client relationship. This article was published on November 19, 2015.

    Media Contact
    Company Name: Brownstone Law Group
    Contact Person: Thomas A. Moore
    Email: Info@brownstonelawgroup.com
    Phone: 323-443-7136
    Address:333 City Blvd W. #1700
    City: Orange
    State: CA
    Country: United States
    Website: http://brownstonelawgroup.com

    Financial Planning Tips: 4 Easy Ways to Save More Money

    by Shelton on November 25th, 2015

    filed under Debt Consolidation

    In todays world, with costs rising and your paycheck not drastically increasing each few months, it can be tough to save money. Pinching your pennies may go so far, but there are some simple changes that you can make in the meanwhile that can help you save even more. Be prepared to save more money. Well deliver some simple, helpful financial planning tips and saving tips that can allow you to get back on the track to being ahead with your budget.

    Dine In; Save More

    Eating out is one of the greatest, most wasteful expenses that anyone can incur. You are paying a lot more for the food than you really need to be. Take a quick look at your bank statements. Pour through them and highlight every time that youve dined out – whether thats a cup of coffee or a three-course dinner – over the past year. You will quickly see that this is how much money that you could have saved instead.

    Erase Bad Debt

    Bad debt is toxic. The interest fees really hold you back and prevent you from getting it paid off in a timely manner. Credit card debt, for example, can hound you for decades if you just pay the minimum payment due. Consider taking out a debt consolidation loan to wrap all these debts up into one lower interest debt that you pay off sooner.

    Avoid Financing Anything

    A good rule of thumb to stay ahead with your finances is this. If you do not have the cash to afford to buy something, then do not buy it. Only finance if you are in an emergency situation. Doing so will prevent from accruing too much debt, which is the very reason you are likely reading this article to begin with.

    Downsize Your Lifestyle

    Take things down a notch. What bills can you extricate from your budget that will enable you to get ahead with your finances? Do you really need that cable bill, four cell phone lines and a few online premium accounts that you rarely use? Assess your budget from top to bottom and you will quickly realize that there are many areas that you can curb cost and save more money. In no time, you can find yourself comfortably back on top, right where you should be.

    Visit NowItCounts.com, The Destination for Americans 50+ for stories that matter to you covering financial, health, beauty, style, travel, news, lifestyle, food, entertainment and sports.