Archive for April, 2015

Saudi Arabia burns through foreign reserves

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

New king funds public-sector salaries and large development projects

Statoil takes $4bn writedown on US assets

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Norwegian group unveils impairments following sharp declines in price of crude oil

Statoil takes $4bn oil sands writedown

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Company unveils impairments following sharp declines in price of crude oil

Hungary’s PM Orban Denies Plans to Restore Death Penalty

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban doesn’t plan to reintroduce the death penalty, his chief of staff Janos Lazar said on Thursday.

The statement came after the head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker warned Orban would be in for “a fight” if he considered restoring capital punishment which is outlawed in the EU.

Asked about Orban’s comment this week that the issue should be on Hungary’s agenda, Juncker said the EU’s fundamental charter “forbids the death penalty”.

Juncker also said that “Orban must immediately make clear that this is not his intention. If it would be his intention it would be a fight,” according to Reuters.

Orban informed European Parliament President Martin Schulz on Thursday that he only wanted to have a debate on the issue and wasn’t planning to restore the death penalty, Lazar said, according to state-run Hungarian news agency MTI.

Hungary will “keep to EU laws”, Lazar added.

Orban raised the issue of the possible reintroduction of the death penalty on Tuesday following the murder of a young tobacco shop assistant by a robber in the city of Kaposvar last week.

According to the rightwing premier current penalties for serious crime were too lenient and death penalty should be “kept on the agenda” in Hungary.

Hungary abolished capital punishment in 1990, fulfilling a key condition for membership of the European Union, which it joined in 2004.



Social Media Recruiting and Hiring with the LinkedIn Job Feature

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

social media recruiting linkedin job feature

Many small business owners I know, myself included, don’t think of social media as a source of hiring.  That’s the realm of big business with big budgets.  The reality, however, is that we’re missing out on some large opportunities.

The New 800-Pound Gorilla

Every savvy business owner uses LinkedIn to promote themselves and their company.  It’s a great way to find new customers/clients, establish yourself as an expert in your field, and to engage in conversations with influencers in your industry.

A 2012 study showed that fewer than 25 percent of LinkedIn members used the jobs feature.  It’s time to think of LinkedIn in terms other than marketing and sales.

LinkedIn does a great job of taking your job posting and finding possible candidates, assigning them a rating as to how good of a fit the candidate is. LinkedIn purchased a company called in 2014 to power these searches, and the results are impressive.  The price is very reasonable and is based upon the city in which you are advertising.

Here in Oklahoma City, it’s $195 for 30 days, compared to’s $395. Additionally, LinkedIn allows you to reach out through their InMail to ask candidates to apply. The jobs feature isn’t restricted in any way by your network. In other words, it looks across all potential candidates, not just those in your network.

LinkedIn recently purchased, a leading provider of online learning. LinkedIn’s CEO, Jeff Weiner, has touted the synergy between the two companies. His vision is to create a detailed profile on every company, individual, and job on LinkedIn and provide a platform for them to interact and connect. They’re well on their way.

Lynda will allow an employer to specify more clearly his or her job requirements and include specific certifications provided by LinkedIn. Additionally, potential employees will see what requirements they’re lacking for a specific position, and decide if they want to pursue further education and certification.

Let ‘A’ Players Find More ‘A’ Players

The most under-utilized aspect of social media, including LinkedIn in hiring for small business is the way you can leverage your existing team members.

Just like good customers, good employees are the best source of referrals.

Assuming that you’re aligning your team around a common mission with a distinct culture, nobody knows better who’s a great fit for your company than your existing team members. Have your team actively promote the positions via LinkedIn or other social media by sharing the position Scorecard with potential candidates in their network. Hopefully it will come with some “recruiting” by the satisfied team member.

Again, if they’re the right fit, they understand how critical it is to recruit the right person for the position, and should be excited at being part of building a team.

Recruiting is an Always Thing

Social media is a great way for you, the company, and your team members to stay in front of potential candidates even when you aren’t actively hiring. Most small businesses, unless they’re brand new or in a rapidly growing segment, have pretty consistent (and infrequent) hiring needs. That means that normally most businesses aren’t hiring all the time.

There are obvious exceptions, but recruiting isn’t seen as an “always” thing. It’s not a big deal until it’s a big deal. An employee leaves, and you’re scrambling to find a replacement. This often leads to hasty hires and incompatible team members.

By including key potential candidates in your social media posts, either by you or through your team, you build your brand with them. When you do have a need, these candidates should have a much better understanding of your company, its culture, and its vision.

If you do your job right, you’ve developed a dialogue of sorts with these candidates, and greatly increased your opportunity to hire them when a position does open. Depending on the geography and the candidate, it might make sense to take the relationship offline, and take them to lunch to further develop the connection.

LinkedIn Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Social Media Recruiting and Hiring with the LinkedIn Job Feature” was first published on Small Business Trends


Royal Dutch Shell: the ugly American

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Downstream boost masks persistent problem in exploration business in the Americas


Thursday, April 30th, 2015

An ever more marginal existence

UNCERTAINTY is supposed to lift the gold price. But neither upheaval in the Middle East, nor the travails of the euro zone, nor startlingly loose monetary policy in the rich world is brightening the spirits of those who swear by bullion. After a big rally during the financial crisis, the price has sagged to about $1,200 an ounce, a third below its peak in 2011. Little seems likely to turn it round. “We’ve seen everything gold bugs could hope for: endless money printing, 0% interest rates (both short-term and long-term adjusted for inflation), rising debt and debt ratios in the public and private sectors…So where’s the damn hyperinflation?” asks Harry Dent, a newsletter publisher, in a recent blog post.

The biggest pressure on the gold price comes from the expectation that interest rates in America will rise later this year. Matthew Turner of Macquarie, a bank, says that low interest rates cut the opportunity cost of owning gold. Higher interest rates, by contrast, raise the cost of holding non-interest-bearing assets. Mr Turner thinks expectations of rising rates are already built…Continue reading

The worst is yet to come

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

RUSSIA’S currency, the rouble, had a terrible 2014. As oil prices collapsed and Western sanctions bit, export revenues slumped. Nervous investors pulled $150 billion from the country. As a result, the rouble lost about half its value against the dollar (see chart). But over the past few months, it has climbed out of its trough. Russian bonds and stocks have done well, too. The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) has been cutting interest rates—an unthinkable prospect just a few months ago. On April 30th it lowered its main rate from 14% to 12.5%. All this, some say, is proof that investors are too pessimistic about the Russian economy. They are wrong.

Oil prices have risen slightly since the start of the year. That is helpful for an economy where the stuff provides half of all exports. The cheaper rouble has buoyed exports, too. A new deal to end the Russian-backed insurgency in Ukraine, signed in February, has also made investors less jittery.

Nonetheless, the rouble’s strength is a puzzle, since in many ways the Russian economy looks worse than it did in December. Inflation, at 16.9%, is 5.6 percentage points higher, a jump…Continue reading

Deposits go walkabout

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

OVER $13 trillion is sitting in American bank accounts and money-market funds, earning little or no interest. If consumers were even marginally more demanding, they could earn tens of billions of dollars in extra returns. That is the premise behind MaxMyInterest, a year-old electronic service aimed at slothful but yield-hungry savers. It offers to move money from banks that want to shed deposits, and that therefore pay savers low interest, to ones in need of them, and so willing to pay more. At the same time, it makes sure that each account holds no more than $250,000, the maximum amount insured by the government, providing not just higher returns, but risk-free ones.

The average interest paid on deposits in America is a microscopic 0.09% a year, according to BankRate, a data firm. MaxMyInterest’s clients receive 0.75% to 1.05%, with a weighted average of almost 1%. That may seem small, but it amounts to $2,000 a year for every $250,000 account, and should rise considerably whenever the Federal Reserve starts to raise rates. (At a meeting this week the central bank left rates unchanged, but it is still expected to start lifting them later this…Continue reading

Fifteen years of hurt

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

STOCKS are the best investment for the long run. That is the common mantra among investment pundits. But the recent record high for the NASDAQ, America’s tech-heavy equity index, ought to give investors pause. Like the FTSE 100 in London, it has taken 15 years for the NASDAQ to surpass its previous high (see chart). Even so, that counts as a sprightly performance compared with Japan’s Nikkei 225, which still trades at only half its 1989 peak.

Such statistics make it hard to argue that “there are no such things as bubbles”, as the occasional economist still contends. A very high stockmarket valuation implies the expectation of rapid growth in future profits. The average price-earnings ratio of the NASDAQ back in 2000 was more than 150. In other words, if profits did not rise, a shareholder would have had to wait for well over a century to recoup his original investment.

Perhaps investors were thinking of their great-great-great-grandchildren, but that was not how it seemed at the time. Technology companies were expected to take over the world and drive “old economy” firms out of business; their profits would soar as…Continue reading

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