Riding self balancing scooter brand Airwheel A Good Way to Release Stress

by Shelton on August 31st, 2015

filed under House Loan

Learning stress, employment stress, promotion stress, house loan stress, etc. There are so many different kinds of stress in modern people’s life. The overweight stress may cause listless, low-spirited and even depression. Therefore, people have to find ways to release their stress. Riding Airwheel electric scooter is a good way to release stress.

FOCUS | In 1st 3 years of ‘Daang Matuwid,’ cash advance liquidation at slow 56%

by Shelton on August 31st, 2015

filed under Cash Advances

The online news portal of TV5

MANILA – Government agencies have been slower in liquidating their cash advances from 2010 to 2013, compared to earlier years due to non-enforcement of rules and the lack of political will, the think tank of the House of Representatives said.

The Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) said that the average liquidation rate of government cash advances (CAs) from 2010 to 2013 was only 56 percent.  

This was significantly low compared with the previous years, 2007 to 2009, when the liquidation rate was between 81 percent and 88 percent, according to the discussion paper written by Aurea Hernandez-Sempio.

The regional offices got the highest cash advances.  Close to three-fourths or 71 percent of CAs for the regions were liquidated in 2010 and 2013, but liquidation ratio was low at 37% in 2012–thus, pulling down the overall liquidation rate to 39% for that year, the study said.

The national government, which receives the second biggest amount of cash advances every year, had the lowest average liquidation rate of 53%. The average liquidation ratios of the other sectors were slightly higher –  66% for the local government sector and 60% for the corporate government sector. 

The cash advance system is a mechanism to ensure the smooth operation of government programs and projects especially in instances when it is very impractical to issue checks. Cash advances are granted to facilitate the payment of obligations especially those requiring small amounts of money.

Under Presidential Decree 1445 or the Auditing Code of the Philippines, cash advances must be liquidated after the purpose for which the CA was granted has been served. However, despite this regulation, the unliquidated CAs have been accumulating over time, CPBRD said.

Cash advances are broadly categorized into regular and special cash advances. Regular cash advances are released to pay for the following: (1) salaries and wages; (2) commutable allowances; (3) honoraria and other similar payments; and (4) petty operating expenses which cannot be paid conveniently by check or those that need immediate payments.  

On the other hand, special cash advances are allowed for purposes such as–(1) current operating expenditures of the agency field office or for activities undertaken on field, and (2) travel expenditures including transportation fare, travel allowance, hotel room/lodging expenses and other expenses that may be incurred in connection with official travel.

Process of liquidation

According to the paper, liquidation takes place when the grantee of the CA submits supporting documents (eg, official receipts) proving that the funds received were utilized in accordance with the pre-determined purpose. 

The documents are recorded and verified by the agency accountant, and finally examined by the auditor to clear the grantee of any obligation, or to determine any suspension and/or disallowances.

Based on Executive Order 248 and Commission on Audit Circular No. 96-004, agencies or offices with cash advances have the obligation to liquidate within the following prescribed time frame:

o within five (5) days after the 15th and 30th day of the month pay period for salaries, wages,

allowances, honoraria and other similar payments;

o within twenty (20) days after the end of the year subject to replenishment as frequently as

necessary during the year for petty operating expenses and field operating expenses;

o within sixty (60) days after return to the Philippines for foreign travel; and

o within thirty (30) days after return to permanent official station for local travel. 

Delays in liquidation of cash advances or the non-liquidation can be traced to the following factors, CPBRD said:

*The lack of political will to implement the cash advance system regulations;

*Non-enforcement of some agreements under the SOLANA Covenant;

*Absence of a cash advance system manual;

*Long, tedious process in prosecuting erring accountable officers or employees; and, 

*Obsolete and unfair imposition of penalties.

Since 2002, the annual Appropriations Law explicitly states among others, that “cash advances shall not be granted until such time that the earlier cash advances availed of by the officials or employees concerned shall have been liquidated pursuant to pertinent accounting and auditing rules and regulations.” 

However, numerous COA reports indicate that this provision is being disregarded or ignored. One auditor observed the granting of succession of cash advances to employees without having secured the needed liquidation documents for earlier cash advances, CPBRD noted.

Even the COA’s directive for concerned agency heads to withhold monetary benefits of agency officials or employees due to nonliquidating is not effectively enforced. It also appears that the rules are silent regarding the liability of and the sanctions for the agency head’s failure to implement COA’s instruction, it added.

The congressional body lamented the non-enforcement of agreements in the SOLANA Covenant, a tripartite anti-corruption plan signed in 2004 by the COA, Office of the Ombudsmand and Civil Service Commission.

The covenant has three basic agreements:

o one, for COA to submit reports on unaccounted funds of presidential appointees and elective officials to the OMB, and of non-presidential and appointive officials to the CSC;

o two, consolidate yearly reports on all unliquidated cash advances for public reporting; and,

o three, hyperlink with each other for mutual publication in agency websites of information on sanctioned officials and employees with unliquidated cash advances and disallowances.

The last two agreements under the Solana Covenant appear to have been overlooked. None of the websites of the three agencies has a report on unliquidated advances and information on sanctioned officials and employees. It was noted that the covenant is silent on who among the signatories will take charge of the consolidation and the publication of the report, CPBRD said.

Toothless penalties

Another major factor for the low rate of liquidation of cash advances was traced to the almost toothless penalties imposed by existing laws.

Presidential Decree 1445, which was approved in 1978, sets a fine not exceeding P1,000 and imprisonment not exceeding six months for violation of the cash advance system. 

Obviously, the fine and penalty stipulated in the Audit Code are already obsolete, CPBRD said.

The group proposed stiffer penalties for violators so that the system would not be prone to abuse.  It also called for the full implementation of the SOLANA Convention.

It also said officials and employees with unsettled cash advances should not be granted fresh funds.

It needs political will on the part of agency heads to comply with this regulation and for oversight bodies including Congress to hold agency officials liable for nonobservance of rules and regulations, CPBRD said.

NatGas Cash Advances as Alliance Remains at ‘Zero’ Flow; Futures Add 4 Cents

by Shelton on August 30th, 2015

filed under Cash Advances

Physical natural gas for delivery Tuesday posted strong advances at most market points on Monday as traders had to deal with near-record power loads in Texas and an ongoing pipeline outage in the upper Midwest.

Only a few points traded in the loss column and gains of a quarter or more were common at Northeast points, but increases in the Gulf and Midwest were closer to a nickel or a dime. California and desert Southwest locations were seen higher by double digits.

Overall the NGI National Spot Gas Average increased by 12 cents to $2.66. Futures traders saw little price action as the market basically held on to gains established in Sunday evening trading. Near term weather models called for warmer temperatures, and at the close September had added 4.4 cents to $2.842, and October was up 4.6 cents to $2.868. September crude oil bounced back $1.09 to $44.96/bbl.

The force majeure declared by Alliance Pipeline last week after a processing plant mistakenly let a poison impurity briefly flow into the export conduit, continues to be in effect (see Daily GPI, Aug. 7). According to industry consultant Genscape Inc., the pipeline remains in a zero flow state. Alliance runs from Alberta and British Columbia to northern Illinois with no pooling points in between. Genscape indicated that gas deliveries from Canada had been curtailed or diverted and on the US side, deliveries to key pipeline systems have dropped to zero, namely Vector and ANR. Flows onto Vector and ANR have dropped 858 and 645 MMcf/d respectively since Thursday.

While there has been no indication of when the pipeline might return to service, Alliance on late Monday afternoon announced that it has commenced flaring operations to remove natural gas containing hydrogen sulphide. Flaring operations began at a mainline block valve site near Arcola on the evening of Aug. 9, and will be operating a number of flares at its Alameda compressor station and at the Arcola block valve, both located in southeastern Saskatchewan.

Flaring operations are progressing and we are clearing the hydrogen sulphide contained in a small segment of our pipeline in a safe, effective manner, said Daniel Sutherland, vice president of commercial operations for Alliance. Safety is our top priority and crews are following strict regulatory and safety protocols. We are working hard to resolve this matter as soon as possible to minimize the disruption being experienced by our shippers.

The pipeline decided that flaring is the safest method to remove the hydrogen sulphide from its pipeline system and is following regulatory procedures with additional precautionary measures to protect people, the site and the surrounding area.

To replace linepack lost as a result of the flaring process, Alliance said it intends to initiate purchasing natural gas. In addition, Alliance will evaluate the opportunity to purchase additional volumes to assist in the expeditious start-up of the pipeline. Alliance will invite shippers to bid at the beginning of the week, and will commence these purchases prior to restarting the pipeline. Shippers will be asked to contact their customer service representative for further information.

Despite the major loss of imports along Alliance, most pipelines have been able to successfully make up the difference and are flowing near normal levels, Genscape said. There are some major shortfalls, however. ANR is showing paltry deliveries of 13 MMcf/d at its St. Clair location, down from 585 MMcf/d on Thursday.

That helps the Utica producers a little bit, said an industry veteran. All these guys trying to move gas across on REX [Rockies Express Pipeline] gives them a little better pricing, I would think.

That gas coming west on REX was coming anyway and now it has something to displace. That parking space in front of the Chicago Citygates is now available.

The trader noted that even with a large 2 Bcf/d capacity pipeline such as Alliance out of commission, with current US production in the vicinity of 72 Bcf/d, there is plenty of gas to make that up.

Gas headed west on REX enjoyed some healthy gains Monday. According to NGIs Rockies Express Zone 3 Tracker, gas for delivery to Moultrie, IL, on REX rose 6 cents to $2.85, and deliveries to REX at Douglas, IL, added 6 cents to $2.86. Parcels at Lebanon, OH, were seen 3 cents higher at $2.86.

Upstream of REX Zone 3, prices advanced smartly. Deliveries to Transco-Leidy Line added 19 cents to $1.37. Parcels on Tennessee Zn 4 Marcellus gained 18 cents to $1.28, and gas on Dominion South jumped 26 cents to $1.48.

Prices at major hubs gained ground as well. Deliveries to Algonquin Citygate rose 35 cents to $1.79, and parcels at the Chicago Citygate added 3 cents to $2.92. Gas at the Henry Hub was quoted 5 cents higher at $2.85, and deliveries to the SoCal Citygate climbed 12 cents to $3.14.

Futures traders saw heavy volume, but little price action.

We only had a 3.5-cent range, but the volume was there, said a New York floor trader Monday.

Overnight forecasts turned warmer. MDA Weather Services in its Monday morning six- to 10-day outlook said the forecast trends warmer versus expectations from Friday, particularly along the northern tier. Above-normal temperatures are now forecast from the eastern Midwest to the Northeast, with aboves in these areas fairly steady throughout the period.

Above-normal temperatures can also be expected along the West Coast and into parts of Texas, with changes over the weekend reflecting an increase in Pacific influences as the -AO [Arctic Oscillation] trends back toward neutral. While most of the South leans warmer than normal as well, anomalies are weak in that region. Confidence is moderate overall.

Risk managers see an influence from broader commodity market trends.

Although most of the US is starting to see a slight increase in temperature, more than adequate supplies and general weakness in the commodity markets (especially crude oil) continues to keep the gas market under pressure, said DEVO Capital President Mike DeVooght.

He said the likelihood of a major market move in either direction is remote and counseled trading accounts, end-users and producers to initiate no new positions. On a trade basis, its difficult to make a case for a significant move, either up or down, in the gas market at this time. We will continue to stand aside and await future developments, he said in a weekly report to clients.

Some traders arent waiting for a significant move and will try to capitalize on their weather expertise to capture what they see as a near-term market advance. Weather trader Bespoke Weather Services said it went long Sunday evening after looking through the most recent weather model guidance and price action.

We were impressed by the gap up of 4.8 cents from Fridays 5:15 pm electronic close, and though we still sit up 1.2% above Fridays pit close we feel that there is more room for prices to run into [Monday] and Tuesday.

The evening run of the GFS [global forecast system] is the most bullish we have seen in a few days, and we feel the heat along the East Coast has not been entirely priced in yet. Accordingly, we will play for an early week test of the $2.92 resistance level.

We may add to this position on weakness [Monday] morning if we expect GFS modeling to remain bullish [Tuesday] afternoon. Our stop sits at $2.78, as we will re-evaluate our long position should the gap from this evening be filled during the dayhellip;

Bankruptcy in Malaysia Hits the Young Hard

by Shelton on August 29th, 2015

filed under House Loan

“Parents don’t want their children to struggle like how they did when they were growing up. Many of them don’t teach their children to live within their means but subsidise their children’s expenses. This makes the situation worse,” Ms Lee, chief executive officer of Financial Planning Association of Malaysia, tells The Establishment Post.

Many parents continue to support their children even after they have started work by paying for their car loan, personal insurance and other expenses. “So when will these young people learn to manage their own finances?” she asks.

Ms Lee tells of a young graduate who was earning RM2,500 (US$655) a month but spends RM30-RM50 (US$8-13) a day on fancy meals. She thought she could go on with the kind of lifestyle her parents gave her but soon realised she was having problems making ends meet. It was only after she started budgeting that she saw some savings, and is now saving towards a down payment for a house.

Ms Lee says effort needs to be made to ensure financial literacy reaches the far ends of society and that literacy education should start very early in the education system. This is a sure way of arresting bankruptcy in Malaysia, she adds.

Living on credit

A factory worker had an under-aged brother who wanted a car to start a car rental business. She took a car loan and got him a car with the promise that he will take care of the loan repayments. The brother rented out the car one day and it never came back, but his sister has been made a bankrupt.

A couple working as waiting staff bought a house way above what they could afford. They figured they could pay for it because they were promised jobs overseas by an agent and had paid him his commission. The bank gave them a loan more than the value of the house so they could pay for the lawyers’ fee and renovation. But they fell victim to a job scam and they did not get their overseas jobs and they were unable to pay the house loan repayments. They were declared bankrupts.

Ms Lee, in relating these stories, says it is so easy to be drawn into financial commitments that are way above affordability. She says it is this and the desire to have a certain lifestyle that makes the young generation so vulnerable. “It is about delayed gratification and giving yourself small rewards for achieving bite-sized milestones which will lead to the bigger life goal.”

Lawyer GK Ganesan also believes that bankruptcy has all to do with the individual and little with external factors. “It is not poverty that drives people to bankruptcy, but love of credit,” says the author of Bankruptcy Law in Malaysia and Singapore.

He says the credit culture is so ingrained in society that it is regarded as the most logical thing to do when cash-strapped. What exacerbates this is the full credit offers given for buying houses and vehicles. It is these two loans that are the main causes of bankruptcy in Malaysia.

Calls for review

For years there have been calls for more stringent policies when offering loans, especially for hire purchase. Why punish the bankrupt Mr GK feels a bankrupt has slim hope for bettering himself under the present system in Malaysia. He says the system keeps the bankrupt poor.

“The system of bankruptcy is overzealous in its application. It is unable to distinguish between the irresponsible borrower and the honest man who has fallen into hard times or who is born into poverty,” he tells The Establishment Post. “Bankruptcy labels the reckless borrower as an irresponsible person. Is this justified?”

The Bankruptcy Act 1967 does not allow a bankrupt to hold a bank account, run his own business, accumulate assets or even work for his spouse of family members without the consent of the Director-General of Insolvency. He is not allowed to leave the country, stand for elections or be a company director.

All it takes is as little as RM30,000 (US$7,880) for the creditor to initiate bankruptcy charges. “By today’s standards even a RM100,000 (US$26,267) debt is not that large,” says Mr GK.

He also suggests that bankruptcy laws put more consideration on the plight of the debtor than the creditor who already enjoys a fair amount of protection. “Why do we need bankruptcy laws when all banks and financial institutions have insured themselves (against bad debts)?” A more educational and rehabilitative approach would help the debtor and will go a long way in national productivity.

Bankruptcy laws needs to keep up with the times

There are suggestions that pre-bankruptcy rehabilitation measure be included in Malaysia’s bankruptcy law. A moratorium can be introduced for debtors to explore debt settlement with their creditors to avoid bankruptcy proceedings.

Then there is the long wait for discharge – nothing less than five years. A bankrupt will have to make full repayment of the debt or get a haircut from his creditors. He will be released when the Insolvency Department has all the evidence. Or when he comes out smelling of roses after the department puts him through a barrage of tests on his credibility and trustworthiness.

Over the last few years there has been talk of an automatic discharge after the bankrupt has lived a certain amount of time as a bankrupt. Just like how it is in Singapore, UK, Canada and Australia. “Our bankruptcy provisions are old and decrepit, and have not kept up with the modern commercial world,” says Mr Ganesan.

Therein lies the problem – our laws should give bankrupts a chance to redeem themselves and become productive again, especially the younger generation. This is what tackling bankruptcy in Malaysia is all about.

About the Web

  • Becoming bankrupt before 35 (The Star) 
  • Nancy Shukri: Selangor records highest bankruptcy cases last year (The Sun Daily) 
  • Malaysia Department of Insolvency 
  • What’s my sin that I’m a bankrupt? (Business Circle) 

Moody’s Affirms Jaguar Holdings’ B2 CFR; outlook stable

by Shelton on August 28th, 2015

filed under Secured Credit

Approximately $4 billion of rated debt

New York, July 24, 2015 — Moodys Investors Service affirmed the B2 Corporate Family Rating and
B2-PD Probability of Default Rating of Jaguar Holding Company I
(a parent of Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC. and
Jaguar Holding Company II (together, PPD)) in conjunction with
the companys refinancing transaction. The outlook is stable.

Moodys also assigned a B1 rating to the proposed $2.9 billion
senior secured credit facility and a Caa1 rating to the proposed $1.1
billion unsecured notes offering. The proceeds of the credit facility
and notes will be used to refinance all existing debt, to pay a
dividend of around $400 million to shareholders, including
affiliates of The Carlyle Group and Hellman amp; Friedman, and
to fund related fees and expenses.

At the close of the refinancing transaction, Moodys will
withdraw the ratings on existing debt at Jaguar Holding Company I and
Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC. Moodys is
also reassigning the Corporate Family Rating and Probability of Default
Rating at Jaguar Holding Company II, which will be the only entity
with rated debt going forward. Concurrently, Moodys
will withdraw the Corporate Family Rating and Probability of Default Rating
that currently resides at Jaguar Holding Company I.

Ratings assigned:

Jaguar Holding Company II:

Corporate Family Rating of B2

Probability of Default Rating of B2-PD

Jaguar Holding Company II and Pharmaceutical Product Development,
LLC. (as co-borrowers):

$300 million senior secured revolving credit facility expiring
2020, B1 (LGD3)

$2.575 billion senior secured term loan due 2022,
B1 (LGD3)

$1.125 billion senior unsecured notes due 2023, Caa1

Ratings affirmed, to be withdrawn at the close of the transaction:

Jaguar Holding Company I:

Corporate Family Rating of B2

Probability of Default Rating of B2-PD

Ratings to be withdrawn at the close of the transaction:

Jaguar Holding Company I:

$1.125 billion unsecured notes due 2017, Caa1 (to

Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC.:

$175 million Senior Secured Revolver Due 2016, Ba2 (LGD2)

$1.6 billion Senior Secured Term Loan due 2018, Ba2

$575 million Senior Unsecured Notes due 2019, B3 (LGD4)

The outlook is stable.


PPDs B2 CFR rating reflects the companys very high financial leverage
and aggressive financial policies, including a significant amount
of shareholder dividends paid since the companys leveraged buyout.
The proposed dividend will increase adjusted debt/EBITDA to around 7.5x
for the twelve months ended March 30, 2015, up from 6.7x.
The ratings also reflect risks inherent in the CRO industry, which
is highly competitive, has high reliance on the pharmaceutical industry,
and is subject to cancellation risk.

The B2 rating is supported by PPDs significant scale, leading breadth
of services and strong reputation, which Moodys believes gives
the company competitive advantages over many peers in the highly fragmented
CRO industry. The ratings are supported by Moodys view that PPD
has good revenue and earnings growth prospects due to increased outsourcing
of Ramp;D by the pharmaceutical industry and a healthy biotechnology
funding environment. As a result, the B2 incorporates the
expectation that leverage will decline below 7.0x over the next
year due to EBITDA growth. The B2 is also supported by Moodys
expectation for positive free cash flow and good liquidity.

While not anticipated, Moodys could upgrade the ratings if PPD
repays debt with free cash flow and grows EBITDA such that adjusted debt
to EBITDA is expected to be sustained below 5.5 times and free
cash flow to debt is expected to be sustained above 8%.
Moodys could downgrade the ratings if leverage is expected to remain
above 6.5 times for a protracted period of time. Further,
if free cash flow to debt is expected to be negative for a sustained period,
or liquidity is expected to materially worsen, Moodys could downgrade
the ratings.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Business and Consumer
Service Industry published in December 2014. Other methodologies
used include Loss Given Default for Speculative-Grade Non-Financial
Companies in the US, Canada and EMEA published in
June 2009. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com
for a copy of these methodologies.

Pharmaceutical Product Development, Inc. (PPD) is a leading
global contract research organization (CRO). The company provides
preclinical drug discovery, Phase I through Phase IV clinical development,
post-approval services as well as laboratory services to pharmaceutical,
biotechnology and academic customers, among others. PPD is
owned by The Carlyle Group and Hellman amp; Friedman. Net revenues
for the twelve months ended March 31, 2015 approximated $1.9


For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt,
this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation
to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series
or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings
are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moodys
rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider,
this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation
to the rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular
rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the
support providers credit rating. For provisional ratings,
this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation
to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive
rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt,
in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed
prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would
have affected the rating. For further information please see the
ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit
support from the primary entity(ies) of this rating action, and
whose ratings may change as a result of this rating action, the
associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity.
Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures,
if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure
to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

The following information supplements Disclosure 10 (Information
Relating to Conflicts of Interest as required by Paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(J)
of SEC Rule 17g-7) in the regulatory disclosures made at
the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com
for each credit rating:

Moodys was not paid for services other than determining a credit
rating in the most recently ended fiscal year by the person that paid
Moodys to determine this credit rating.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit
rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to
the lead rating analyst and to the Moodys legal entity that has issued
the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com
for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Jessica Gladstone
Senior Vice President
Corporate Finance Group
Moodys Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Peter H. Abdill, CFA
MD – Corporate Finance
Corporate Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Releasing Office:
Moodys Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moodys Affirms Jaguar Holdings B2 CFR; outlook stable

Tim Cook one of many to invest in shower head startup Nebia

by Shelton on August 28th, 2015

filed under Personal Funding


Apple CEO Tim Cook is one of many high-profile investors in Nebia, a Kickstarter based water-efficient shower head, according to the New York Times. The shower head atomizes water into millions of small droplets of water which covers a larger surface area, saving 70% water consumption compared to a traditional shower head.

Nebia had an original funding price of $100,000 which has then been surpassed and is now well over $130,000. The project is set to expire on September 11. You will be able to snag one of these at $269 or $299 on Kickstarter, or at $399 once it hits retail stores.

Apple said Cooks funding in the project was a personal funding, however they declined to elaborate on the matter.

Source: The New York Times

Report: "No Evidence" To Support Conservative Media’s Claim That DOJ Anti …

by Shelton on August 28th, 2015

filed under Debt Consolidation

OPR also concluded that the evidence did not demonstrate that Operation Choke Point compelled banks to terminate business relationships with other lawful businesses, a concern raised in your letter and the Staff Report. Indeed, OPR found no evidence establishing that any CPB attorney intentionally targeted any of the industries listed in the Staff Report (including credit repair companies, debt consolidation and forgiveness programs, online gambling-related operations, government grant or will-writing kits, pornography, online tobacco or firearms sales, pharmaceutical sales, sweepstakes, magazine subscriptions, etc.). None of the subpoenas or memoranda issued or drafted in connection with Operation Choke Point focused on specific categories of purportedly fraudulent businesses, except for fraudulent Internet payday lending, to the limited extent discussed above. Moreover, the CPB attorneys e-mail records contained no discussion or even mention of targeting any such specific industries.

Will Your Facebook Friends Make You a Credit Risk?

by Shelton on August 27th, 2015

filed under Credit Scores

It might be time to start unfriending some of your buddies on Facebook.

Facebook was just approved for a new patent this week that might be problematic for people seeking loans. Especially people of color.

The social network acquired technologies that may be used by lenders to determine if potential borrowers are at risk of developing poor credit.CNN Money reportsthat lenders would have access to the credit scores of your Facebook friends. Judging by their credit scores, a loan could be rejected. Its guilt by association.

Facebook hasnt confirmed whether they would use the patent for assessing credit-worthiness.

This sort of technology is not necessarily problematic for people who have good credit scores. But for those who are on the edge, it should set off some alarms. And those folks are likely to be people of color.

There is a major disparity in access to credit between Latinos and Blacks and their White counterparts. Compared with 2001,lending in 2012 was down45 percent for Latinos and down 50 percent for Blacks, according to the Urban Institute. It was in that period that predatory loans to people of color became a problem of epidemic proportions.

Compared with Whites, more Latinos and Blacks were victims to predatory lending and subprime loans. A Center for Responsible Lending shows that they were 60 percent more likelyto receive a high-risk loan.

Access to credit continues to be a major problem for Blacks and Latinos and in many ways has stifled their ability to build wealth. If people cannot accrue manageable debt, its hard to buy a home, go to college, or even start a small business. Access to creditis tied directly to the wealth gapin this country.

Rachel Schneider, senior vice president at the Center for Financial Services Innovation, says that it makes sense that people are worried about this patent considering the lack of credit among people of color. If creditors are looking at a group of your peers, whole communities get looked at together, which is a challenge. But she does point to legal and regulatory mechanisms that could prevent such abuse.

Schneider also argues that this sort of technology could have a positive impact for credit invisiblesmillions of people in this country that dont have credit scores. There is a movement togather more data for more accurate credit scores, which could potentially boost scores.

Looking at data like your social media profile isnt necessarily crazy, she says. That might be data that helps somebody see that you potentially could have good credit. But if were going to use data like that we have to use in a way protects consumers from disparate impact and hopefully brings more people into the credit system without harming people.

There is an ongoing debate on whether more data is helpful or harmful. This technology is just the latest aspect of that debate. But it does bring about more anxiety. Its not just your behavior, its your friends data.

Facebooks new technology has the ability to become another barrier to entry into a system already essentially rigged.

(Image via JaysonPhotography/ Shutterstock.com)

Black History Museum offers tours during festival

by Shelton on August 26th, 2015

filed under Personal Funding

The Alliance Historical Black History Museums walls are covered with history and its doors are open to the public this week as part of the Greater Alliance Carnation Festival.

Dyanna Myers, director and founder of the museum, is offering tours of the museum, which she has put together over the last four years.

The house was donated to Myers for the purpose of a museum celebrating black history and all other expenses are paid for by a few donations and Myers personal funding.

The collection consists of artifacts collected by Evelyn Brown, who influenced Myers to start the museum, as well as Myers personal collection and donations from the community.

Exhibits consist of magazines outlining historical black figures, photos and articles of local black people who have risen to prominent positions in the community, and artifacts popular to black culture.

The newest exhibit centers around a quilt narrating the Underground Railroad. Books and artifacts accompany the quilt that depict what the Underground Railroad was like and how slaves would use the system to travel north.

The Alliance Historical Black History Museum welcomes the public to participate more in the purpose of the organization, which is collecting, displaying and teaching history.

We encourage people to dig up their history, go digging in their basements, garages and attics, and bring it in, Myers said. People are just sitting on history.

Since the doors first opened in 2011 the museum has gained momentum. Now Alliance City Schools classes as well as nursing homes take scheduled tours of the museum, but Myers is hoping for even more.

Myers said she put all the work and effort into the museum after being bit by the history bug.

In 2011 I was bit by the black history bug, and it hasnt stopped.

Right now she opens the museum by appointment only since there isnt enough funding to pay someone to be there all the time, although she said she and is planning some fundraising efforts in the near future.

The Greater Alliance Carnation Festival tours are one way the museum is working on getting more notoriety.

The Alliance Historical Black History Museum is open for tours from 1 to 3 pm today through Friday. The entrance fee is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 12 to 18.

For tours on other days, make an appointment by calling 330-257-5782.

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How millennials can improve low credit scores

by Shelton on August 25th, 2015

filed under Credit Scores

Have you heard? Millennials have the worst credit scores of any generation. The data point plays well with one of Americans favorite pastimes: discussing the dismal state of the nations youngest consumers.

The average 19- to 34-year-old has a credit score of 625, but its 650 for Gen X (35-49), 709 for baby boomers and the Greatest Generation (together, those generations include everyone older than 50). The national average is 667. The data comes from credit bureau Experian and uses the VantageScore 3.0 credit score range, which goes from 300 to 850.

Yes, millennials have the lowest average credit score of American adults, but that statistic is neither surprising nor helpful. Building a good credit score takes time, and having poor credit as a young person doesnt mean youll always have poor credit. Its like a bad haircut: You have to deal with it for a while, figure out how to make it work while its in the awkward stages, but eventually, by staying patient and resisting making decisions that can make a bad situation worse, itll grow out. (That works both ways: Having a great credit score now doesnt mean you always will, just like someone with a great hairstyle can easily be set back with a poorly timed buzz cut.) We explain what a good credit score is here.

If you dont have any credit to your name, its not impossible to get a credit card with no credit, but youll likely have to start with something like a secured credit card. If you use them smartly, credit cards can be great credit-building tools.