Month: December 2013

PayPal accepts prepaid gift cards in time for holidays

December 16, 2013

Prepaid Credit Cards

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PayPal is trying to make it easier for consumers to buy products online with prepaid gift cards.

The company on Tuesday announced that consumers who buy products on sites that accept PayPal can use their prepaid credit cards to complete their purchases. PayPal Product Manager Ed Lee said in a blog post on Tuesday that the company discovered many consumers had a hard time redeeming prepaid gift cards on e-retail sites, prompting PayPal to find a solution.

Private Equity and Monetary Thinking

December 16, 2013


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There has been a kind of fun exchange between the think tank Third Way which says it offers fresh thinking, although it looks pretty stale to me and Elizabeth Warren. Third Way published a remarkably clumsy attack on economic populism, singling out the senator and Bill DeBlasio for special ire; Warren then raised the question of who, exactly, supports Third Way. The answer, big surprise, is Wall Street.

But Felix Salmon argues that theres a broader point here: the 2-and-20 crowd private equity and hedge funds is putting a lot of money into sponsoring economic research. Some of it seems fairly detached from self-interest the money George Soros and Bill Janeway have put into the Institute for New Economic Thinking doesnt seem designed to make them even richer. But thats not true across the board.

And I have to say that Salmon gives me the chills when he notes that a lot of this funding seems to be heading into the study of monetary policy. What happens when a bunch of 2-and-20 guys plus economists who benefit from their largesse weigh in on monetary policy? You get something like the infamous Bernanke-is-debasing-the-currency letter of 2010. Strange to say, people who are either big rentiers themselves, market their services to rentiers, or both, are big on finding reasons why yields should go up even in a weak economy. One shudders to imagine the kind of research theyre likely to sponsor.

FEMA advises storm victims to register

December 16, 2013

Prepaid Credit Cards

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More Federal Emergency Management Agency inspectors are expected to arrive this week to provide assistance to Nov. 17 storm victims in 15 Illinois counties, including Washington, Massac and Pope.

FEMA spokesman Darrell Habisch said Tuesday that

it’s important storm victims register now to get FEMA


“People need to get registered. If you don’t, we don’t know you are out there,” Habisch said.

Registering by telephone or online is about a 20-minute process with information provided to FEMA that property holders would normally make filing an insurance claim.

The information will be quickly processed and filed before being transferred to FEMA inspectors in the field who are making door-to-door visits. FEMA registrants will be assigned individual case numbers, Habisch said.

“They (victims) will hear from a home inspector to determine the amount of damage and what they are entitled to,” Habisch said.

Habisch said it is important that victims register directly with FEMA.

“If they (victims) have registered with a local emergency management office, that does not mean they have registered with FEMA,” he said.

There are no prerequisites or required qualifications to get FEMA aid. Habisch said renters should register and no financial information is required except insurance coverage for a property holder will be taken into consideration.

“People may have special needs. Say you are renting and the structure is not Americans With Disabilities compliant, we can help. Our assistance is not meant to bring back pre-disaster conditions. We are there to help. These are your taxpaying dollars,” Habisch said.

Unfortunately, some fraudsters take advantage of the situation by linking the FEMA name with their unlawful activities, Habisch said.

FEMA inspectors are required to have official badges visible during any kind of inspection. FEMA does not require personal information and does not offer prepaid credit cards nor charges any kind of fees for registering or getting assistance. FEMA does not certify or endorse anyone in the building business, Habisch said.


China Focus: China’s central bank expected to maintain monetary stance

December 16, 2013


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BEIJING, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) — Higher-than-expected growth in Chinas new RMB lending and total social financing in November indicates that Chinas liquidity conditions remain favorable for 7.5 percent or higher GDP growth, and the central bank is likely to maintain its monetary stance, economists said.

Market participants had been worried over possible credit tightening measures by the central bank, the Peoples Bank of China (PBOC), due to a jump in yields on Chinese government bonds (CGB) in mid-November.

Last month, CGB yields soared, with the 10-year CGB yield jumping to 4.7 percent on Nov. 20 — the highest level in nine years — from a mere 3.23 percent in mid-June.

The 10-year CGB yield retreated to 4.43 percent on Nov. 27. At the time, markets worried that the rise in bond yields was engineered by the PBOC to reduce leverage and slow credit growth.


The PBOC on Wednesday released figures on Novembers money supply, new loans and total social financing (TSF), which is a broader measure of liquidity in the worlds second-largest economy.

New bank loans and TSF rebounded notably to 624.6 billion yuan (102 billion US dollars) and 1,230 billion yuan in November, PBOC data revealed.

Novembers new loans represented an increase of 118.6 billion yuan, or 23.4 percent, from the previous month. The figure was also well beyond the market forecast of 580 billion yuan.

TSF in November was 43.7 percent higher than in October, a 374 billion yuan month-on-month increase. It also beat market expectations of 920 billion yuan.

Broad money supply (M2), which covers cash in circulation and all deposits, rose 14.2 percent year on year in November, down from the 14.3-percent growth rate in October, which was in line with market expectations.

Growth in both M2 money supply and bank loans, the more reliable indicators for the liquidity available for the real economy, cooled only marginally to 14.2 percent year on year last month, [which] suggested that liquidity tightening talks are exaggerated, an HSBC research team led by chief China economist Qu Hongbin said in a note.

A research team with the Bank of America Merrill Lynch led by chief China economist Lu Ting attributed robust credit demand to three reasons.

Lus team said the rebound of GDP growth to 7.8 percent in the third quarter from 7.5 percent in the second quarter boosted confidence.

Another factor is that messages from the Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee last month were overall positive for confidence.

Finally, external demand seems to have improved thanks to the recovery in the US and euro zone, as evidenced by the better-than-expected 12.7 percent export growth in November.

Lu Ting said he believes that the recent rise in bond yields and average interbank rates was mainly due to the bottom-up interest rate liberalization by banks and other financial institutions in China.


Qu, of HSBC, said he expects Chinas overall liquidity conditions to remain relatively accommodating, despite the relatively high interbank lending rates, which may stay higher for longer according to HSBCs research.

The current relatively accommodating monetary conditions should be sufficient to support real GDP growth rates of above 7.5 percent while keeping headline inflation around 3 percent in the coming quarters, he said.

In early 2013, the Chinese government set its economic work targets, with GDP growth targeted around 7.5 percent and the consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, capped at around 3.5 percent.

We see little need for [the] central bank [to] change its monetary stance in the near term, Qu added.

Lu Ting agreed, saying that he believes Chinas monetary policy could remain neutral in December 2013 and 2014, even though money market rates and bond yields could rise a bit further.

Bank loan growth could remain around 14 percent in 2014, while TSF growth could moderate to around 16 to 17 percent as the problem of double counting is lessened.

We expect the government to maintain neutral monetary and fiscal policies in the next couple of quarters while increasing their efforts on drafting and carrying out structural reforms, Lu said.

Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS, also said the Chinese government would likely follow a relatively prudent monetary and credit policy stance.

She said she expects TSF growth to slow to about 16 percent in 2014.

Given the ongoing interest rate liberalization and financial deregulation processes, credit growth could again exceed the governments desired pace in 2014, she added.

Can Facebook Engage More Users With a Sympathize Button?

December 16, 2013

Financial Topics

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Asif Imtiaz worked as a prop trader for almost a decade, and later he managed trading operations for one of the largest foreign exchange strategy developers in Europe. Currently, he works as a trading consultant to several brokers and write on various tech and financial topics as a freelancer.

Elderly Yarmouth resident burned in phone scam

December 15, 2013

Prepaid Credit Cards

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Yarmouth police are investigating a phone scam recently perpetrated against an 85-year-old resident, in which the woman was conned out of $7,000. The woman received a phone call from a man purporting to be her grandson. The man was crying, and informed her that he had been arrested on a drug charge, and needed $3,000 for bail. Another voice, supposedly that of a police officer, advised the woman to purchase that amount in prepaid credit cards. The next day, another call added $4,000 to the phony bail. In all, the woman was bilked out of $7,000.

Police warn that this is a common scam, perpetrated especially against the elderly. They say they are attempting to retrieve the womans money.

Conor Powers-Smith can be reached at

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Greenspan vs.Taylor, a battle of the monetary-policy titans

December 15, 2013


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It was must-see TV a clash of the monetary-policy titans.

On Tuesday night, CNBC anchor Larry Kudlow somehow arranged a live televised debate between Stanford economist John Taylor and former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan about alleged monetary-policy missteps in the run-up to the financial crisis

Taylor, a leading expert of Fed policy, has long laid the blame for the housing bubble at the feet of Greenspan, arguing that the former Fed chairman kept interest rates too low for too long between 2002 and 2005.

The Fed pushed rates down to 1% in June 2003 and kept them there until June 2004. It then engineered a slow and steady tightening by 25 basis points per meeting, eventually bringing the funds rate up to 4.25% by December 2005.

Taylor argues this slow pace of tightening exacerbated the bubble, which of course ended in tears and the financial crisis.

Needless to say, during the debate, Greenspan wasnt having it. He said that none other than Milton Friedman thought the Fed had done a good job with policy. Greenspan said that there was a complete disconnect between short-term rates and mortgage rates starting in 2003.

The debate sparked a lot of conversation on Twitter

In the end, the brief exchange did leave viewers wanting more.

Will there be a rematch? Someone call Don King.

— Greg Robb

Follow Greg on Twitter @grobb2000

Follow Capitol Report @capitolreport

RBI not comfortable with inflation to calibrate its monetary policy

December 15, 2013


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Inflation as measured by the consumer price index (CPI) soared to a nine-month high of 11.24 per cent in November while the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) contracted 1.8 per cent in October, according to government data.

We have just got the IIP and CPI data. The WPI (wholesale price index) data is due next week. After taking an overall view of the data, we will carefully calibrate the monetary policy, Rajan told reporters after the RBIs central board meeting here.

Rajan said economic growth was weak and inflation was high, which was a cause for concern. He said both monetary and fiscal policies were essential to tackle inflationary pressures.

Regarding the fiscal policy, Rajan said the Finance Minister had laid down a road map that is expected to keep the fiscal situation under control. The governments fiscal deficit target is 4.8 per cent of GDP in this financial year.

The RBI Governor said aligning diesel prices with international rates would definitely control the fiscal deficit.

In the short term, hiking diesel prices will have an inflationary impact. But in the long run, this will lead to deficit reduction, he observed.

Vegetable prices rose 61.6 percent in November from a year earlier. Fruit prices rose 15 per cent.

The present system of delivery is high-cost, inefficient and lends to cartelisation. In this context, there is a need to look into the APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) Act. RBI is not comfortable with the current level of inflation, Rajan said.

The next monetary policy review is due on December 18.

On new banking licenses, he said the RBI would make an announcement early next year, adding that there was no fixed number for how many would be given.

To another query, he said the RBI does not target government bond yield.

We intend to keep the market with adequate liquidity for productive lending, he said.


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Nvidia’s GPU Business Outperforms PCs For Various Reasons

December 15, 2013


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Nvidia designs and develops Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), which are high performance processors that generate realistic and interactive graphics on PCs. Despite the company’s high dependence on the PC market, it has managed to grow its GPU business in the last few quarters. While PC shipments declined by 3.7% in 2012 (fiscal year 2013 for Nvidia), Nvidia’s GPU segment expanded by 2% and it reported a 7% rise in its total revenue. Year-to date the PC market is down 11%, but Nvidia’s GPU business is up 4%, compared to the same period last year.

During the UBS Global Technology Conference this month, Nvidia declared that the primary reason that it has managed to outpace the PC market is that it does not, and has not ever, addressed the bottom 70% of the market. Its main focus has been on those vertical segments within a broader computing market where visual computing matters the most, including gaming, PC gaming, professional visualization and design, high-performance computing, and big data analytics. [1] Nvidia?s growing presence in the specialty PC and Compute markets (gaming PCs, workstation PCs, and high performance computing) is offsetting the declining trend in the mainstream PC market.

With rising revenue contribution from the non-PC business segment and its dominance in the GPU market, Nvidia has strong long term growth potential, in our view. Additionally, the company continues to have a solid balance sheet with a strong cash position and no debt.

Our price estimate of $16.42 for Nvidia is almost in line with the current market price.

See our complete analysis for Nvidia

PC Gaming Is Driving GPU Growth In Desktops amp; Notebooks

Nvidia sells its PC graphics to two key segments: 1) PC Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), who use Nvidia GPUs to manufacture the final product; and, 2) gaming enthusiasts, who use GPUs in high-end and custom PCs to generate realistic and interactive graphics. While lower-end PC shipments to OEMs have slowed, the robust PC gaming market has contributed to higher GPU shipments, starting in fiscal 2013 and continuing in fiscal 2014 as well.

Nvidia’s GPU gaming revenues are up 6% year to date compared to the same period last year, while mobile GPU gaming has more than doubled in the last two years. Even as overall notebook shipments have declined, Nvidia’s gaming notebook revenue more than doubled in the last two years. The company claims that notebook gaming is the fastest growing PC SKU that it currently serves. [1]

In Q3 2014, Nvidia launched a number of products specifically targeted at the gaming market. It recently unveiled its fastest gaming GPU ever (the GeForce GTX 780 Ti) and launched NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, which enables near-perfect synchronization between the GPU and the display, solving the decade- old problem of on-screen tearing, stuttering and lag. It also introduced GeForce ShadowPlay, a software platform that lets gamers record, stream and share their best gaming moments.

PC gaming represents almost 40% of the worldwide gaming market, which is higher than consoles, phones, tablets or any other individual gaming segment, and we believe it will continue to drive Nvidia’s GPU shipments. [2]

Leadership In Professional Graphics – Tesla amp; Quadro

Driven by the release of new Kepler-based GPUs, Quadro enterprise revenues and Tesla revenues are up by 12 % and 43% year to date, respectively. Kepler is Nvidia’s most efficient GPU architecture to date and is now available top to bottom for workstations and servers. The company claims that the introduction of Kepler has translated into higher market share and margins for the company. Accounting for 80% of the market, Nvidia remains the dominant player in professional GPUs.

The growth in High Performance Computing is driving demand For Nvidia’s Tesla GPUs as Co-Processors or Accelerators in high performance systems. In the last year, the percentage of high performance computers with accelerators has almost doubled and Nvidia accounts for 85% of the increase. [1] The company has been investing in advanced computing and its own CUDA technologies for years and its business at the high end is at last gaining momentum.

Take the UAE financial literacy quiz

December 15, 2013

Financial Topics

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The National#x2019;s financial literacy campaign is aimed at helping all of us who live in the UAE to have an understanding of how money works and the ability to make informed decisions on personal finances.

We have previously worked with to create an interactive mortgage map to promote transparency and a better understanding of the sector.

Now a series of interactive quizzes will test your knowledge and help you learn how well informed you are on financial topics that can impact your day to day money management.

Every two weeks until the end of the year, we will cover a new topic related to personal finance. The idea is to cover an important topic in a fun and educating way.

The first quiz is centered on the topic of the newly announced mortgage cap. How well do you know the new regulations? Take the quiz here.