China to continue implementing prudent monetary policy in H2: PBOC

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China to continue implementing prudent monetary policy in H2: PBOC

Xinhua

China’s central bank said Friday that the country will keep its prudent monetary policy “neither too tight nor too loose” and make adjustments in a timely and moderate manner in the second half of the year.

The People’s Bank of China will use a variety of monetary policy tools and adopt counter-cyclical adjustments to keep the liquidity at a reasonable and ample level, it said in a national video and telephone conference.

The growth pace of M2, a broad measure of money supply that covers cash in circulation and all deposits, as well as that of social financing scale, should be commensurate with the growth in nominal GDP, said the bank.

Meanwhile, the meeting called for improving the transmission mechanism of monetary policy to the real economy and to further stimulate the vitality of the micro-enterprises in the market.

In terms of preventing and defusing major financial risks, the bank stressed to forestall systematic financial risks and protect the legitimate rights and interests of the public.

The bank also vowed to strengthen supervision and control of funds in the real estate market and adhere to the principle of “houses are for living in, not for speculation.”

In H2, the bank said it would continue to expand market access, promote greater cross-border use of Chinese yuan, speed up the development of China’s legal digital currency (DC/EP) and intensify curbing risks of Internet financing.

Saudi: Iraq, Iran Sign Agreement to Establish Investment Funds

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iraq, Iran Sign Agreement to Establish Investment Funds

Tuesday, 30 July, 2019 – 11:15
Baghdad – Asharq Al-Awsat
Head of Iran’s Securities and Exchange Organization (SEO) Shapour Mohammadi announced the conclusion of a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) with Iraq.

One of the most important objectives of this MoC is the establishment of mutual investment funds.

The signing ceremony was attended by Chairman of Iraq Securities Commission Alaa al-Saedi and Iraq’s Ambassador to Iran Saad Jawad Qandil.

Fars news agency quoted Mohammadi as saying that the MoC includes the establishment of an SEO branch in Iraq and the creation of a platform for exporting and importing goods through this branch, as well as providing legal and technical advice on the capital market.

“Unifying the legal regime of the Iranian and Iraqi capital market is one of the provisions of the memorandum, which will be overseen by a bilateral joint committee,” Mohammadi said.

Saedi, for his part, said that with the “conclusion of this agreement, exchange of information and experience with Iran will take place in a specialized and advanced manner.”

He added that the Commission seeks to take advantage of Iran’s experiences in the field of securities exchange business.

Qandil said the MoC is a great step towards bilateral cooperation and will contribute to bilateral economic dealings.

An Iraqi official source, who spoke of condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the MoC includes only covers the stock exchange, noting that the Commission’s law allows such agreements between countries and companies.

However, Iraqi economic expert Bassem Jamil Antoun doubted that the agreement could be implemented given the US sanctions imposed on Iran.

“The Iraq Securities Commission has the right to conclude agreements with countries in case there are agreements that allow it. However, any transfer of money in dollars from Iraq to Iran cannot be performed because Iraq’s Central Bank is committed to applying sanctions on Iran,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Any money transfer in dollars must pass through the United States.”

Data breach hits Capital One affecting more than 100 million customers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF YAHOO NEWS AND USA TODAY)

 

Massive data breach hits Capital One affecting more than 100 million customers

Kelly Tyko

USA TODAY

Capital One said Monday personal information, including Social Security and bank account numbers, of more than 100 million individuals was compromised in a massive data theft that led to the arrest of a Seattle woman.

Paige A. Thompson is accused of stealing data from Capital One credit card applications in what is one of the top 10 largest data breaches ever, according to USA TODAY research. .

The FBI arrested Thompson Monday for the theft, which occurred between March 12 and July 17, court records show. Among the data allegedly collected from a company cloud-based server were Social Security and bank account numbers.

The bank said “the largest category of information” accessed from applicants who applied for credit cards between 2005 and 2019 was personal information including names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth and self-reported income. About 140,000 Social Security numbers were accessed and 80,000 bank account numbers from credit card customers, Capital One said.

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Other data that was obtained includes credit scores, limits, balances and “fragments of transaction data from a total of 23 days during 2016, 2017 and 2018.”

Capital One said in a news release that “100 million individuals in the United States and approximately 6 million in Canada” were affected.

The breach was discovered on July 19 and the company said it “immediately fixed the configuration vulnerability that this individual exploited and promptly began working with federal law enforcement.”

“While I am grateful that the perpetrator has been caught, I am deeply sorry for what has happened,” said Richard D. Fairbank, Capital One chairman and CEO, in a statement. “I sincerely apologize for the understandable worry this incident must be causing those affected and I am committed to making it right.”

Last week, Equifax reached a deal with the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and 50 states on the 2017 breach that affected approximately 147 million Americans.

European Bank for Reconstruction Hails Egypt’s Successful Infrastructure Projects

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

European Bank for Reconstruction Hails Egypt’s Successful Infrastructure Projects

Saturday, 13 July, 2019 – 11:30
A general view of Cairo, Egypt. (Reuters)
Cairo – Asharq Al-Awsat

Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), said that Egypt is achieving great success in infrastructure projects as part of the economic reform program in the country.

During his meeting with Egypt’s Minister of Investments and International Cooperation Sahar Nasser in London on Friday, Chakrabarti expressed the bank’s keenness to cooperate with Egypt to reinforce economic integration in Africa as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi chairs the African Union for this year.

He noted that the bank is committed to supporting Egypt in its reform efforts. The bank’s investment volume is estimated at USD4.9 billion, with the private sector accounting for 58 percent of the total. Its investments in Egypt account for more than 50 percent of its investments in Africa.

The two officials discussed increasing cooperation between Egypt and EBRD in new fields, such as transportation, amid the bank’s interest in expanding its operations in Egypt.

On Friday, Egypt participated in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Minister of Finance Mohammed Moeit represented Egypt at the meeting along with Ahmed Kajuk, deputy Minister of Finance for Financial Policy and Institutional Development.

AIIB discussed possible means to reinforce communication mechanisms with neighboring countries and consolidating the partnership between the Asia and Europe through investing in infrastructure and benefiting from successful international experiences.

Cairo is expected to host on November 4-6 the first edition of the Egy Traffic expo on road, bridge transportation, communications, energy and electricity projects.

Amr Shawky, Chairman of the Board of Directors of EGY TECH Engineering, said that in addition to projects, the exhibition will offer radical solutions to traffic and transportation problems, to serve the people and encourage foreign investment in Egypt.

Turkey Plans to Tap 40 Bln Lira ($6.6 Billion) from Central Bank Reserves

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Turkey Plans to Tap 40 Bln Lira from Central Bank Reserves

Monday, 13 May, 2019 – 11:00
A money changer counts Turkish lira banknotes at a currency exchange office in Istanbul, Turkey August 2, 2018. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey’s Treasury ministry is working on legislation to transfer the central bank’s 40 billion lira ($6.6 billion) in legal reserves to the government’s budget to shore it up, three economic officials told Reuters.

The budget is deeper in deficit than expected, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

It was unclear when or whether the draft law would reach parliament, however, though one of the sources said it would happen “soon.”

Turkey’s economy tipped into recession last year after the lira fell sharply. The currency is under pressure again, in part due to worries over the central bank’s depleted foreign exchange reserves, which would help it defend against another crisis.

Separate to foreign exchange reserves, “legal reserves” are what the central bank sets aside from profits by law to be used in extraordinary circumstances. At end-2018, they stood at 27.6 billion lira, according to the bank’s balance sheet data.

A second source with knowledge of the matter said last year’s “legal reserves” combined with this year’s amounted to the 40-billion lira figure, which was cited by all three people who spoke to Reuters.

“The Turkish central bank has around 40 billion lira in legal reserves. The transfer of this amount to the 2019 central administration budget was seen as suitable. This step aims at improving and strengthening the budget,” the second source said.

It remained unclear how much of the reserves would ultimately be transferred and what, if any, new requirements would apply to the central bank.

Central Bank and Treasury ministry officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The transfer would mark the second recent move by Ankara to tap the central bank’s funds to boost its budget. In January, the bank transferred some 37 billion lira in profits to the Treasury three months earlier than scheduled.

“I do not remember the use of legal reserves before. This method came up to stop further deterioration of the budget,” the first source said.

“There needs to be a legislation to transfer the central bank’s legal reserves. The new legislation is planned to be presented to the parliament soon.” the source said.

Turkey’s budget recorded a 36.2 billion lira deficit in the first quarter of 2019, according to Treasury and Finance Ministry data. The deficit is expected to reach 80.6 billion lira by year end.

VA Mortgage Lenders Hit With Federal Subpoenas

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS)

 

VA mortgage lenders hit with federal subpoenas

Federal investigators have issued subpoenas to several mortgage lenders that make loans to military veterans, seeking information on delinquencies and payments.

The investigation is being led by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General in cooperation with the U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York, according to four people with knowledge of the subpoenas.

At least eight lenders, and likely more, have been asked to turn over hundreds of files on VA home loans made between 2013 and 2017, according to two people with knowledge of the request.

The requests include questions about quality control and loan audits.

Some VA lenders have drawn scrutiny from regulators after they sold short-term, adjustable-rate mortgages to military homeowners as interest rates climbed. One VA program in particular — the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, or IRRRL — allows lenders to put existing VA borrowers into new loans without an appraisal or underwriting and was ripe for abuse.

Michael Nacincik, a spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs OIG, and John Marzulli, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, declined to comment. Both said they could neither confirm nor deny the existence of any investigation.

Jeffrey London, executive director of the VA’s Loan Guaranty Service, did not respond to requests for comment.

On Friday, Ginnie Mae said it was weighing whether to exclude some of those VA loans from its pooled securities in an effort to tackle a wave of rapid-fire mortgage refinancings that have left some military service members deeper in debt.

In a 14-page request for input, the government mortgage agency called the practice, known as churning, “unhealthy” for the agency.

The loan documents requested by investigators weren’t limited to IRRRLs, according to one person with knowledge of the subpoenas.

The VA subpoenas are landing as HUD is taking steps to rein in the prosecution of lenders who sell mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration.

Many of the nation’s largest banks, including JPMorgan Chase, stopped offering FHA loans after the government, under former President Barack Obama, used the False Claims Act to extract billions of dollars in settlements from dozens of big lenders.

FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery, an appointee of President Donald Trump, has said those cases went too far and that the Trump administration is working with the DOJ to change how the False Claims Act is used against lenders.

Authority to investigate ‘financial service fee’ for Benz sales loan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWSPAPER ‘SHINE’)

 

Authority to investigate ‘financial service fee’ for Benz sales loan

An investigation has been launched after reports that Mercedes-Benz Automobile Finance Co illegally charged a customer a financial service fee, as claims surfaced in Shanghai of dealers also charging fees.

The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Administration has asked its Beijing authority to initiate an inquiry.

A woman who bought a Mercedes-Benz she claims was defective from a dealer in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, has now claimed she was cheated over a “financial service fee.”

The woman said she bought the Mercedes-Benz CLS300 from Xi’an Lizhixing Co for 660,000 yuan (US$98,445) but found the engine was leaking oil after she picked it up on March 27. She asked for a refund or a replacement but the dealer only agreed to change the engine.

The incident attracted wide attention after a video of the woman sitting on the bonnet of a Mercedes-Benz while weeping and arguing with salesmen at the 4S dealer store on April 9 was posted online.

The Xi’an market watchdog launched an investigation and asked the dealer to refund the buyer. The regulator also arranged a face-to-face negotiation between the two sides on Saturday, during which the buyer said she had intended to purchase the car outright.

However, the dealer persuaded her to use Mercedes-Benz finance as it is said to feature low interest.

The dealer also “forced” her to pay a “financial service fee” of 15,200 yuan to a personal account without providing a receipt, she claimed. The woman said she thought this was fraud as the dealer hadn’t provided any services.

Mercedes-Benz issued a statement on Sunday, saying it never asks for any financial service fee from dealers or customers.

A Shanghai consumer surnamed Wang who visited several Mercedes-Benz 4S shops to purchase an off-road vehicle said he was asked to take out a loan at the Songzhixing shop on Changshou Road.

The salesperson said the car was popular, and many 4S shops would not sell it if buyers refused to take a loan, Wang said. A salesperson would not get a commission without arranging a loan.

The same requirement was raised by the Minxing Automobile Service Co 4S shop, Wang said.

The Shanghai Consumer Council said yesterday they had received complaints about other automobile companies charging financial service fees.

Lawyers said car sales companies often use various excuses to charge fees to raise their profits, which infringes consumers’ rights to make choices.

A Shanghai consumer surnamed Huang who wanted to purchase a car at a 4S shop last year was told that he must buy a 13,800-yuan package including sticker and tachograph, and a three-year car insurance if he wanted to enjoy a discounted price of the car.

Huang asked several 4S shops the next day, and some had the same requirement.

Meanwhile, a woman Wang Wen who paid 340,000 yuan for a new Mercedes-Benz at the Zhongshengzhixing 4S shop on Jinyun Road in Jiading District found it was faulty.

She asked for a refund, but the 4S shop refused, and offered free exchange, free components and reduction of insurance fees as replacement.

Wang learnt that the car was an “auction car” sold to dealers at a discounted price, and had probably been used for display or trial runs.

A video of a woman sitting on a Mercedes-Benz and arguing with salesmen has gone viral.

12 dead in bank robbery attempts, police shootout in Brazil

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BOSTON HERALD)

 

12 dead in bank robbery attempts, police shootout in Brazil

Forensic officers load the body of a victim killed in an attempted bank robbery, at an entrance of a municipal hospital in Milagres, in Brazil’s state of Ceara, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. Brazilian authorities say that at least 12 people have been killed in two attempted bank robberies in Milagres downtown area. (Antonio Rodrigues/Diario do Nordeste via AP)

PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

By MARCELO SILVA DE SOUSA

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — At least 12 people, including two children, were killed Friday when police engaged in a shootout with bank robbers, according to authorities in northeastern Brazil.

The two attempted heists in the state of Ceara began around 2:30 a.m. in the downtown area of the city of Milagres, police said in a statement.

News portal G1 reported that the robbers blocked off a road into the downtown and took hostages as they began entering two banks on the same street. When police responded, a firefight ensued, leading to several deaths.

Lielson Macedo Landim, the mayor of Milagres, told G1 the hostages were executed by the criminal group and not killed by police fire. Macedo Landim said that two children, between 10 and 13 years old, were among the dead hostages.

His account could not be immediately verified, as police did not respond to numerous email and phone requests for more information about the shootout or how the hostages died.

Two suspects were apprehended, and several fled, according to the police statement. Authorities also seized three vehicles, several firearms and explosives.

Andre Costa, secretary of public security in Ceara, said that six of the dead were the attackers. Authorities have yet to release identities of the dead.

To search for the remaining would-be robbers, the city announced on its Facebook page that it was suspending public services and urged residents to remain in their homes.

Latin America’s largest nation routinely is the world leader in total annual homicides. Ceara is one of the country’s most violent states.

India: Country passing through rising intolerance says former President Pranab Mukherjee

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INDIAN NEWS AGENCY THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

‘Country passing through rising intolerance,’ says former President Pranab Mukherjee

Pranab Mukherjee expressed concern over rising intolerance and violation of human rights, coupled with a widening gulf between the rich and poor with top one percent rich pocketing the lion’s share of country’s wealth.

INDIA Updated: Nov 24, 2018 13:42 IST

Indo Asian News Service
Indo Asian News Service
Indo Asian News Service
Former President Pranab Mukherjee addressed the National Conference on ‘Towards Peace, Harmony and Happiness: Transition to Transformation’, in New Delhi on Friday, November 23, 2018.(PTI)

Former President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday expressed concern over rising intolerance and violation of human rights, coupled with a widening gulf between the rich and poor with top one per cent rich pocketing the lion’s share of country’s wealth.

He was speaking at the inauguration of the two-day national conference on “Towards Peace, Harmony and Happiness: Transition to Transformation”, organised by Pranab Mukherjee Foundation along with the Centre for Research for Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID).

“The land which gave the world the concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ and the civilisational ethos of tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness, is now in news for rising levels of intolerance, manifestations of rage and infringement of human rights,” Mukherjee said.

“Peace and harmony prevails when a nation celebrates pluralism, practices tolerance and promotes goodwill among diverse communities and when we purge the toxin of hatred, envy, jealousy and aggression from our everyday lives,” he said.

He said “happiness is higher in countries that ensure their inhabitants basic amenities and resources, greater security, autonomy and freedom as well as sufficient educational opportunities and access to information. People are manifestly happier in countries where personal freedoms are guaranteed and democracy is secured.”

“Regardless of economic conditions, citizens are happy in a climate of peace,” Mukherjee said.

Referring to the statistics, he said, “If these statistics are anything to go by, we appear to be caught in a ‘rising economy, receding happiness’ syndrome. Our growth paradigm calls for an urgent look.”

Paying tributes to Guru Nanak Dev on his 549th birth anniversary, Mukherjee said given the times we are living in, it is important to recall his message of “peace and oneness”.

He also recalled what Chanakya said that “In the happiness of the people lies the happiness of the king” and the Rig Veda saying that we must live in one assembly, speak in one voice, with our minds in accord.

In a poser he asked whether the state was functioning in conformity with the preamble of the Constitution guaranteeing socio-economic and political justice, liberty of expression and thought and the equality of status and of opportunity, Mukherjee said that on the ranking of the happiness of common man, India ranks at 113, on the index of hunger, India is at 119. Similar is the situation on the rating of malnutrition, suicides, inequality and economic freedom.

Mukherjee said, “We need a State that inspires confidence among people in its ability to surmount challenges before us. We need the media and citizens, who even as they claim their rights, are equally committed to their responsibilities.”

Referring to the Parliament, Executive and the Judiciary, Mukherjee said in recent past these institutions have come under “severe stress” and their credibility is being questioned.

He said “There is a widespread cynicism and disillusionment with the governance and the functioning of these institutions.”

However, former President said that to “save democracy”, it was incumbent upon these institutions to “win back the trust of the people, without any delay.”

Former Union Minister and BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi in his valedictory address described as “disturbing” the merging scenarios where the “techno-economic system adopted to produce a democratic egalitarian world order has resulted in an exploitative, extremely unequal and fragmented world”.

“Mankind today is, therefore, unhappy, more turbulent, more violent, more fundamentalist and more alienated than ever before”, Joshi said.

The root cause of this “out of balance world” needs to be investigated, the veteran leader said.

First Published: Nov 24, 2018 09:49 IST

China to help Pakistan avert fiscal crisis: One Demon Bailing Out Another: For A Price

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-JAZEERA NEWS AGENCY)

 

China to help Pakistan avert fiscal crisis, ‘more talks needed’

Pakistan’s foreign reserves have dwindled, causing PM Khan to decry the financial situation he inherited.

The last time Pakistan received an IMF bailout was in 2013, when it received $6.6bn [Jason Lee/Reuters]
The last time Pakistan received an IMF bailout was in 2013, when it received $6.6bn [Jason Lee/Reuters]

China is willing to provide Pakistan with economic aid to help it deal with its deteriorating finances but more discussions are needed on the details, according to a top Chinese diplomat.

The comments on Saturday by Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou came after a meeting in Beijing between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Pakistan’s foreign reserves have plunged 42 percent since the start of the year and now stand at about eight billion dollars, or less than two months of import cover.

Late last month, Saudi Arabia pledged to give Pakistan a six billion dollars rescue package, but officials say it is not enough and the country still plans to seek a bailout from the IMF to avert a balance of payments crisis.

It would be Pakistan’s 13th rescue package from the multilateral lender since the late 1980s.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People following Khan’s talks with Li, Kong said his country would help.

“During the visit, the two sides have made it clear in principle that the Chinese government will provide necessary support and assistance to Pakistan in tiding over the current economic difficulties,” Kong said.

“As for specific measures to be taken, the relevant authorities of the two sides will have detailed discussions,” he added, without giving details.

Pakistan’s fiscal crisis partly comes from limited restraints on spending and a failure to institute genuine tax reform [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]

Khan, whose party swept Pakistan’s July elections, told Chinese President Xi Jinping the previous day that he had inherited “a very difficult economic situation” at home.

Though China is Pakistan’s closest ally, Khan’s newly elected government has sought to re-think the two countries’ signature project, the $60bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which Beijing touts as the flagship infrastructure programme in its vast Belt and Road Initiative.

Pakistan has looked to amend CPEC to put greater emphasis on projects that focus on social development, rather than purely on infrastructure.

In his meeting with Li, Khan invited the Chinese premier to visit Pakistan and see for himself the difference the megaproject has made in the country.

“CPEC in 2013 was just an idea. Now, it is on the ground. And it has caught the imagination of the people of Pakistan,” he said.

“We feel that this a great opportunity for our country to progress, to attract investment. It gives us an opportunity to raise our standard of living, growth rate.”

For his part, Li praised the relationship, saying “China and Pakistan are all-weather partners.”

Commenting on CPEC, Kong said there were no plans to scale back the economic corridor, but he added that it would be altered somewhat to “tilt in favour of areas relating to people’s lives”.

Meanwhile, Khan’s office said in a statement that the two governments had signed a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding in the fields of agriculture, poverty reduction, forestry, law enforcement and socioeconomic development.

A history of the IMF

EMPIRE

A history of the IMF

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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