Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wegelin bank to pull out of US

Swiss private bank Wegelin announced on Tuesday that it is to stop doing business in the United States.

The St Gallen-based bank, Switzerland's oldest, said the decision had been taken in response to stricter measures introduced in the US against tax dodgers and planned changes to estate tax, which would make some non-US citizens liable to tax if they inherited US securities.

In a letter to investors it said Swiss banks were likely to find themselves in an untenable position, as they would be expected to know which clients were liable to pay US tax – "an impossible undertaking", given the lack of clear definitions in the matter.

The danger of inadvertently making false declarations to the US tax authorities will be too great, it explained.

It added that it believes the US overestimates its attraction as a financial centre, and is advising its clients to get out of all US securities.

The decision comes a week after US tax authorities reached a deal with the Swiss government which will see bank UBS hand over details of almost 4,500 suspected tax cheats.

U.S. deals on clunkers aid imports, results say

Toyota, Hyundai improve the most

WASHINGTON -- Detroit automakers were out-clunked by foreign makes, which improved their market share through the U.S. government's cash-for-clunkers program, according to final results released Wednesday.

According to federal officials, dealers submitted 690,114 deals under the program, claiming $2.877 billion -- just under the $3 billion set aside by Congress for the plan. While the plan successfully boosted U.S. auto sales from their deepest decline in four decades, its hangover could depress sales for the remainder of the year.

General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC accounted for 38.6% of sales under the program, compared with their market share of 45.3% through July of this year.

Meanwhile, Asian automakers outperformed, with Toyota Motor Co. and Hyundai making the largest market share gains. Chrysler's share of 6.6% left it trailing Nissan Motor Co. and Hyundai.

While the original cash-for-clunkers proposal would have limited the $3,500 or $4,500 vouchers to U.S.-made vehicles, the provision was dropped to get the plan through Congress. The vouchers were designed to favor trading older trucks for newer cars -- resulting in a 9.2 m.p.g. increase on average between clunkers and new models.

The top 10 vehicles purchased under the program were, in order, the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Toyota Camry, Ford Focus FWD, Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Versa, Toyota Prius, Honda Accord, Honda Fit and Ford Escape FWD.

The Obama administration cheered the program, saying it created or saved 21,000 jobs this year and boosted the U.S. economy for the remainder of the year. The program closed to customers Monday night and to dealers Tuesday evening.


6 Ways to Fend Off Debt Collectors

You owe money, and a debt collector is calling you night and day. Or maybe you don't owe money, and a debt collector is calling you night and day. Collectors are applying the thumbscrews -- often illegally -- as recent complaints to the Federal Trade Commission bear out.

But the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects you from abusive and annoying practices on the part of third-party collection agencies -- companies that buy debts from creditors and attempt to collect on them -- and collection attorneys. The law does not cover collection attempts made by creditors (but some state laws do). Virtually every state prohibits serious harassment no matter who does the collecting. (To learn the law in your state, visit

Here are six steps to take when a collection agency hassles you.

1. Get the facts. In its first letter, the collection agency must provide you with the name of the creditor, the amount of the initial debt, a breakdown of penalties and interest, and an explanation of your rights. If the collection agency calls rather than writes, get the details on the phone and remind the caller that you are entitled to the written information within five days.

Ask for an address and a phone number so you can follow up if necessary, and start a file that includes a record of every call and a copy of every document involved in the claim.

2. Set the record straight. If you don't recognize the debt, or know you're being dunned in error, write a letter disputing the claim to both the collection agency and the creditor. Include details, dates and copies of any supporting paperwork, and send the letters by certified mail, with a request for a receipt, within 30 days of the first written notice. The burden is on the agency to make its case -- say, by providing a copy of the creditor's judgment. If it doesn't, you're in the clear, for now. Agencies sometimes sell their accounts to other collectors. Be prepared to fight the claim all over again.

3. Hang up on harassment. Collection agencies are prohibited from calling you between 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. and from using abusive or threatening language. If you don't want to be called or contacted at all, write to the agency and say so. It must abide by your terms, although it can send one more notice telling you how it will proceed. If your lawyer writes the letter, the agency must communicate only with him or her.

4. Agree on a plan. If the debt is yours, work with the agency to come up with a realistic plan for paying it back. "Don't promise something you cannot do," says Robert Markoff, of the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys. Debt collectors would rather adjust the terms of repayment than face future defaults, he says. "They want payments that come in like clockwork, so they can move on to the next case." Fail to come to terms and you could end up in court; lose there and the agency wins the right to put a lien on your property (certain property is exempt) or have your wages garnished.

5. Tell the authorities. Still have a problem? Complain to the Federal Trade Commission (, which enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Your complaint, added to others, can help it identify and pursue the most egregious bad guys, although it probably won't help get your case resolved. Also contact your state attorney general's office. Depending on state law, that office may be willing and able to pursue your case.

6. Sue the bums. You can sue a collection agency that flouts the federal law and collect statutory damages of up to $1,000, plus real damages and attorney's fees. Many lawyers will take your case on a contingency basis or charge a fee of, say, $25 to $100, says Robert Hobbs, of the National Consumer Law Center. Some will also represent you in serious cases involving collectors who are not covered by the federal law. To find a lawyer in your area, go to

by Jane Bennett Clark, Senior Associate Editor

Quarantine or 30 day jail for refusing the toxic vaccine

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Real US unemployment rate at 16 pct: Fed official

The real US unemployment rate is 16 percent if persons who have dropped out of the labor pool and those working less than they would like are counted, a Federal Reserve official said Wednesday.

"If one considers the people who would like a job but have stopped looking -- so-called discouraged workers -- and those who are working fewer hours than they want, the unemployment rate would move from the official 9.4 percent to 16 percent, said Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart.

He underscored that he was expressing his own views, which did "do not necessarily reflect those of my colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee," the policy-setting body of the central bank.

Lockhart pointed out in a speech to a chamber of commerce in Chattanooga, Tennessee that those two categories of people are not taken into account in the Labor Department's monthly report on the unemployment rate. The official July jobless rate was 9.4 percent.

Lockhart, who heads the Atlanta, Georgia, division of the Fed, is the first central bank official to acknowledge the depth of unemployment amid the worst US recession since the Great Depression.

Lockhart said the US economy was improving but "still fragile," and the beginning stages of a sluggish recovery were underway.

"My forecast for a slow recovery implies a protracted period of high unemployment," he said, adding that it would be difficult to stimulate jobs through additional public spending.

"Further fiscal stimulus has been mentioned, but the full effects of the first stimulus package are not yet clear, and the concern over adding to the federal deficit and the resulting national debt is warranted," he said.

President Barack Obama's administration has resisted calls for more public spending, arguing that the 787-billion-dollar stimulus passed in February needs time to work its way through the economy.

Lockhart noted that construction and manufacturing had been particularly hard hit in the recession that began in December 2007 and predicted some jobs were gone for good.

Prior to the recession, he said, construction and manufacturing combined accounted for slightly more than 15 percent of employment. But during the recession, their job losses made up more than 40 percent of all US job losses.

"In my view, it is unlikely that we will see a return of jobs lost in certain sectors, such as manufacturing," he said.

"In a similar vein, the recession has been so deep in construction that a reallocation of workers is likely to happen -- even if not permanent."

Payroll employment has fallen by 6.7 million since the recession began.

Builder Toll Brothers reports $472.3 million loss

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Luxury home builder Toll Brothers /quotes/comstock/13*!tol/quotes/nls/tol (TOL 23.14, +0.83, +3.72%) said it lost $472.3 million, or $2.93 a share in the fiscal third quarter to July 31, compared to a $29.3 million, or 18 cents a share, loss in the prior year's third quarter. Toll said it was hurt by non-cash federal and state deferred tax asset valuation allowances of $439.4 million, and non-cash pre-tax write-downs totaling $115.0 million. Excluding write-downs, the company's pre-tax earnings were $3.7 million. Revenue fell to $461 million from $796.7 million. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected a loss of $1.41 a share. "While our FY 2009 third-quarter results reflect continuing challenging housing market conditions, we do see signs for optimism," said Robert I. Toll, chairman and chief executive officer.

U.S. stock futures inch higher; GDP may be revised lower

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- US stock inched up today in a market that's struggling to make a new push higher but isn't yielding ground either.

S&P 500 futures rose 1.5 points to 1,028.30 and Nasdaq 100 futures were up three-quarters of a point to 1,637.20. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 8 points.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average rose for the seventh session in a row on Wednesday -- though only by 4 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite each rose fractionally, advancing for the sixth time in seven sessions, helped by upbeat data from the housing market.

Citigroup's currency strategists said the market is languishing at the moment.

"Despite robust headline data releases, markets moved broadly sideways. This is a reflection of the 'hard' data failing to keep up with expectations-based measures and a sign of market fatigue with the risk rally," they said in a note to clients.

Weekly jobless claims and a second report on second-quarter GDP will be released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

Economists polled by MarketWatch expect claims to slip to 565,000 and the second-quarter GDP to be revised lower to show a 1.5% contraction from a 1% contraction that the government previously estimated.

The Citi strategists also expect a 1.5% contraction.

"Higher-frequency data since the release suggest a lower value for investment in residential and non-residential structures while the contribution from inventory changes is also likely to fall substantially," they said.

Overseas, the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.7% as a Chinese government council expressed concerns about overcapacity in some industries, leading some to conclude that there will be restrictions in areas like steel and cement production.




美國總統奧巴馬週三下令全美公家機構及場所降半旗,向病故的參議員愛德華.肯尼迪致哀。圖為華府國會山府前的所有美國國旗都下降一半,哀悼在推動美國歷史發展有貢獻的愛德華。 (圖:美聯社)
美國總統奧巴馬週三下令全美公家機構及場所降半旗,向病故的參議員愛德華.肯尼迪致哀。圖為華府國會山府前的所有美國國旗都下降一半,哀悼在推動美國歷史發展有貢獻的愛德華。 (圖:美聯社)

































































歐洲零售銷售連15個月下滑 失業拖累










土銀工會連續兩天到立法院抗議,工會強調,財政部計劃釋股籌資 400億元,按土銀目前每年盈餘繳庫80億元,5年盈餘就可達成;對外舉債若按 2%計息,每年只要 8億元,政府不能「假救災之名」,行賤賣土銀之實。



President John F Kennedy Secret Society Speech version 2

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Peter Schiff on aljazeera Riz Khan Global recession 24 Aug 09

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Stocks led by four wounded horsemen

Struggling financial firms Citi, BofA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are dominating late summer Wall Street trading. Uh-oh. Who says speculation is dead?

NEW YORK ( -- They say you can't trust the government. Don't tell that to Wall Street traders.

A bizarre trend has emerged during these hazy, lazy days of late summer. Overall market volume is unsurprisingly wafer-thin, but a big chunk of trading has been in just four financial companies that have received a healthy dose of support from Washington in order to make it through the credit crisis.

For the past few days, Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) (which taxpayers now own a third of), mortgage giants Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500) and Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500) (which were placed under government conservatorship last September) and Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) (which has needed $45 billion in bailout funds) have been far and away the most actively traded stocks on the New York Stock Exchange.

In fact, these four wounded horsemen of the financial sector comprised 40% of the overall trading volume on the NYSE on Tuesday. These stocks haven't just been active, they've been surging.

This is kind of scary. It suggests that the late-summer portion of the almost six-month long market rally is being fueled more by speculation and momentum, not real optimism about a potential recovery in the financial sector and the overall economy.

"Anecdotally, I don't know anyone that really loves the market but it continues to go up," said John Norris, managing director of wealth management with Oakworth Capital Bank in Birmingham, Ala. "Whenever you have a concentration in a small group of stocks, it's worrisome. Perhaps it could be a sign that this rally is set to peter out."

Sure, there are legitimate reasons to be a little more excited about the outlook for the economy and markets. It does seem like the housing market may finally have hit bottom. Business spending appears to be picking up.

Nonetheless, experts said it would be more encouraging if the rally moved beyond this Gang of Four.

"People are taking more risk, which is a positive. And you can't fight the tape. But this rally is too selective," said Keith Springer, president of Capital Financial Advisory Services, a Sacramento, Calif.-based investment advisory firm. "The broader the rally, the more support it's going to have."

What's more, it's reasonable to worry that the market has simply done a 180 from last fall and earlier this year. After the Lehman Brothers' collapse, traders ignored anything that wasn't a sign of the impending apocalypse. Now, investors seem to be dismissing any news that suggests a recovery won't be robust.

Consumers still are reluctant to take out their wallets for anything but essentials -- or government-subsidized new cars.

And while Fannie, Freddie and the big banks probably no longer need to have a priest sitting by their deathbeds getting ready to read them their last rites, they're far from being healthy just yet.

"You have to scratch your head a little bit. All this volume has been in four huge financials that really have stunk," Norris said. "But there is nothing out there to suggest huge spike in economic activity. We're getting way ahead of ourselves."

Of course, many of the investors that are buying Citi, BofA, Fannie and Freddie probably aren't doing so based on any notion that they're going to all report strong financial results in the near-term. It's a speculative bet that the worst is at least over.

You could argue that all four stocks were oversold earlier this year and are now just returning back to some semblance of a fair price. That may be true. But momentum has driven the stocks up so much in light (not to mention volatile) trading.

"This rally is starting to get me very concerned. We've gotten the bounce that would be appropriate given how far things fell after last fall. Financials were mercilessly destroyed," said Gary Hager, founder and chief executive officer of Integrated Wealth Management, a financial planning firm based in Edison, N.J. "But things are starting to get out of hand and some of them have run up too far."

So you can't help but worry about what happens once more traders return from vacation. If investors decide enough is enough with this "cash for trash" rally and seek to lock in gains, these stocks could be in for a bloodletting. Momentum works both ways after all.

"I think you're seeing people buy with their left hand but their right hand is on the sell button waiting to get out. So if the market falls there could be little support on the down side," Springer said.

However, not everybody thinks that the financials, or the broader market, are doomed for another big plunge this fall.

Hager said that while he expects some sort of sell-off, there still is enough cash on the sidelines that could limit the pain. He added that "too many good things are starting to happen" in the economy to lead to another massive correction.

Eric Ross, director of U.S. research for Canaccord Adams, an investment bank, agreed. He said people cannot underestimate how important an improvement in housing will be for the financial services industry and broader economy.

Given that housing is what led us into this recession, Ross said that better home sales and prices should lead to a more stable banking sector. And if lenders can get back on track, that will go a long way toward fixing the problems in the economy.

Finally, Ross said that even though many experts (including him) believe that some pause in the market rally is inevitable, it's almost impossible to try and pinpoint when the pullback would start. In other words, stocks could continue heading higher despite the complaints about how frothy the market is.

"I don't think there's a rational investor out there who doesn't realize this market is overbought. But it could be overbought for months and months and months," Ross said.

Talkback: Will stocks continue to surge after Labor Day or is another big plunge looming this fall? Share your comments below. To top of page

By Paul R. La Monica, editor at large

Congressman Ron Paul in Action

These images were created in response to the call to all artist ad posted on the Daily Paul website.

Make Ron Paul a Super-Hero! Pow! Splat!

Calling all artists, cartoonists, photoshop experts!

We need people with artistic talent to come up with various images of Ron Paul as a Super-Hero. A poster, a comic book, a video cartoon of Ron Paul flying around DC, wearing his 'R3VOLution Cape', swooping down and socking Ben Bernanke: "Pow! Splat!" Dazed, Bernanke can only utter, "What th-- ?"

Ron said it himself: "I am the Champion of the Constitution." So that's a hook. Maybe his costume could look a bit like Uncle Sam's: Red, White and Blue, and he flies around and, like Superman, fighting for "The Constitution, Personal Liberty and Free Markets!". more :