Archive for March, 2016

Rosneft shrugs off prospect of $10 oil

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Russia’s largest producer says it will still make money if price falls further

Europol Helps Bust German-based Iraqi Money Laundering Group

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

The German authorities, backed by Europol, have dismantled a German-based Iraqi criminal syndicate suspected of laundering money for international heroin traffickers.

Europol said in a statement that it had coordinated the law enforcement authorities in France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands in conducting criminal investigations prior to the operation which took place on 16 March.

Five suspects were arrested and remanded in custody, the EU-wide police agency said in a statement on Thursday.

 The organized crime group, composed mainly of Iraqi nationals, was responsible for collecting the proceeds of heroin sales in Spain, the Netherlands, Italy and the UK and laundering the money to the Middle East through Germany.

An estimated EUR 5 M have already been laundered in the scheme that involved the use of cash couriers picking up dirty cash all over Europe. Usingtrade-based money laundering techniques,the group then forwarded the collected assets to the Middle East, Europol said.

Expensive second-hand cars, heavy machinery and construction equipment were purchased in Germany and subsequently exported to Iraq to be ultimately resold for cash. The procceds from those sales were then integrated into the regular financial system using money service businesses and unregulated financial channels, Europol said.

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What is the Difference Between a Line of Credit and a Small Business Loan?

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

difference between a line of credit and a loan

Small business owners may need funds for several reasons. Luckily, there are a number of financing options available today that can help businesses secure funds on time. Two of the most common options are a line of credit and a loan.

In a nutshell, a business line of credit is often the best option when you have short-term and occasional credit needs. A small business loan, on the other hand, is best to meet long-term credit needs. Let’s break down the difference between a line of credit and a loan to see how they differ and help you meet your credit needs.

The Difference Between a Line of Credit and a Loan

Line of Credit

A business line of credit is quite similar to personal lines of credit such as credit cards. It is often used by businesses to meet large and unforeseen variable costs.

Lines of credit can be secured or unsecured and are often referred to as “revolving,” which means borrowers can tap into them again and again. For example, if you have a $25,000 line of credit and take out $15,000, you will still have access to the remaining $10,000. If you pay back the $15,000 you will go back down to $0 and have access to the entire amount without having to reapply.

To better understand this, Here’s a look at a scenario where it would make sense for you to go for a line of credit.

Imagine you get a big home furnishing contract that needs to be completed within a month. To finish the work, you need to hire some part-time employees, but you lack the funds to pay them. In a scenario like this when you need funds immediately to fulfill a short-term demand, it would make sense to go for a line of credit.

A Business Loan

A small business loan allows you to borrow a substantial sum of money for business purposes. The sum is paid to you all at once and you are required to return it within a specified period of time. The loan term can range from a year to 20 years.

You may select term loans with different repayment periods and with fixed or variable interest rates. Traditional lenders such as banks offer business loans for around 5 percent to 12 percent interest. Online lenders or marketplaces tend to charge a higher interest rate.

Here’s an example to understand this.

Your small handicraft business is doing pretty well in your hometown. Encouraged by the numbers, you decide to expand your business and set up a store in another city. You need funds to lease space for three years, which would make a term loan the most recommended option.

How Do Lines of Credit and Small Business Loans Differ?

The big question now is how does a line of credit differ from a small business loan? As mentioned above, a line of credit is typically used for short-term credit needs, whereas a business loan is meant for long-term requirements. But that’s not all. There are other differences between these two options that are worth taking a look at.

Interest Rates

For a business loan, the interest rate is quite likely to be a fixed rate. You are required to make interest payments on the entire loan amount.

If you opt for a line of credit, the interest rate is most likely going to be a variable rate. You will have to pay interest only on the amount that you have borrowed on a credit card or line of credit.

It’s also worth noting that a line of credit generally has a lower interest rate compared to a business loan.

Payment

Both business loans and lines of credit require you to make monthly payments. There is, however, a difference in terms of payment.

With a business loan, the monthly payments do not change whether or not you are using all the money. If you opt for a line of credit, you need to make payments only on the sum of money you have borrowed. In other words, if your balance is zero, your payment is also zero.

Fee

Another difference between the two has to do with fees. You have to pay for loan processing and appraisal fees to close your business loan. If you go for a line of credit, you will have to pay for the initial processing fees and fees associated with each draw you make. To give an example, the bank may charge you a $50 transaction fee every time you make a draw from your line of credit.

On the other hand, the closing costs are generally higher for business loans than for a line of credit. Closing costs for business loans tend to be in the range of 2-7 percent. In comparison, closing costs for lines of credit are minimal.

In Conclusion

For small businesses, it is very important to understand the difference between a line of credit and a loan to find out what works best. Maintaining a good credit score can go a long way in procuring funds on time.

Loans Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “What is the Difference Between a Line of Credit and a Small Business Loan?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Bulgaria Earmarks EUR 419 M to Acquire Two Naval Patrol Ships

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

A project to acquire two multi-purpose patrol ships with modular design for the Bulgarian Naval Force will cost BGN 820 M (EUR 419 M), the country’s Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev has said.

The procurement cost, which comprises armaments, equipment and communication systems for the ships, could be one-third lower if the vessels were built in Bulgaria, Nenchev said during a visit to the Black Sea city of Varna on Thursday, according to a statement of the Defence Ministry.

The project is part of a EUR 1.24 B defence procurement package for the Bulgarian Air Force and Navy approved by the government on Wednesday.

“Within three-and-a half to six years the Navy will have two completed vessels,” Nenchev said.

The project will be submitted to Parliament in the next few days and the lawmakers are expected to approve it by the end of May, Nenchev added.

Preliminary talks have already been held with EU and NATO member states about potential acquisition of patrol ships, according to the statement.

Bulgaria has a maritime border of about 400 km in the Black Sea which is also part of the European Union’s external border. Concerns have increased about potential shifting of migrants routes through Bulgaria following the closure of the Western Balkan land route, leading from Greece, Macedonia and Serbia to Western Europe.

Currently, there is no information about increased migration pressure at Bulgaria’s sea border, Nenchev said.

Yet, a joint training exercise of Bulgarian Navy and Border Police forces involving Navy frigate Drazki and two patrol boats will be held in the region of Burgas in early April and a similar drill should be held in Varna Region, he added.

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Money bags

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

“WE ARE on a wild ride,” Tom Mangas, the boss of Starwood, an American hotel group that owns the Westin and Sheraton brands, wrote to employees this week. He was referring to the bidding war over Starwood between Marriott, another American hotel operator, and a group led by Anbang, a Chinese insurer. Anbang this week raised its offer to $14 billion. But Mr Mangas could just as well have been talking about the wave of China-led mergers and acquisitions that is sweeping over the world economy.

Chinese firms with little international experience and lots of debt have emerged as the biggest buyers of global assets. They have announced nearly $100 billion in cross-border M&A deals this year, already more than their $61 billion of foreign acquisitions last year (see chart). To be sure, announcing deals is not the same as closing them. Between losing out to other bidders and rejection by regulators, China’s investment tally…Continue reading

Million-dollar babies 

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

THAT a computer program can repeatedly beat the world champion at Go, a complex board game, is a coup for the fast-moving field of artificial intelligence (AI). Another high-stakes game, however, is taking place behind the scenes, as firms compete to hire the smartest AI experts. Technology giants, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Baidu, are racing to expand their AI activities. Last year they spent some $8.5 billion on research, deals and hiring, says Quid, a data firm. That was four times more than in 2010.

 In the past universities employed the world’s best AI experts. Now tech firms are plundering departments of robotics and machine learning (where computers learn from data themselves) for the highest-flying faculty and students, luring them with big salaries similar to those fetched by professional athletes.

Last year Uber, a taxi-hailing firm, recruited 40 of the 140 staff of the National Robotics Engineering Centre at Carnegie Mellon University, and set up a unit to work on self-driving cars. That drew headlines because Uber…Continue reading

NBC News: “Is the U.N. Ready for a Female Secretary General?”

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

No organized opposition has yet emerged to the idea that the time is right for a woman to become the next United Nations Secretary-General, Mike Brunker and Alex Lazar write in an article carried by NBC News.

The authors make an overview of the complex process of selecting a nominee who would be acceptable to majority of the U.N.’s 193 General Assembly members.

The procedure requires the U.N. Security Council to recommend a candidate for appointment to the General Assembly, which then makes the appointment by a two-thirds voting majority.

“That means the U.S. and Russia, in particular, can be expected to exert considerable influence and pressure in the months remaining before the council makes its recommendation, a process that is expected to begin in late July and conclude by early September,” according to the authors

With Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon scheduled to step down at the end of the year after a second term at the helm of the world organization, “a strong push is underway to appoint a woman to replace him.” The appointment of the first female U.N. chief “would send a message of equality that would be heard around the globe,” according to proponents of the idea, the authors say.

Out of the seven official candidates nominated so far to replace Ban Ki-Moon three are women:  UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova of Bulgaria; former Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic and former Moldovan Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman.

Many observers consider Bokova to be the front-runner “both because she is highly qualified woman and hails from Eastern Europe.” The second point, the authors explain, is playing in Bokova’s favour because of a practice of “regional rotation” that has been considered in selecting previous U.N chiefs.

Yet, this practice is not carved in stone and has both its proponents and opponents. With no formal deadline for submitting nominations, late female entries from regions other than Eastern Europe “could significantly alter the race,” the authors say, citing political observers.

You can read the whole article “Is the U.N. Ready for a Female Secretary General?” here.

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Handmade Hot Mess? Avoid These 6 Entrepreneurial Personality Types

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

entrepreneurial personality types

After being in business for 16 years, all of them coaching and training handmade entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed some entrepreneurial personality types that usually lead a business straight to the failure zone. I wrote this article so you could check-in with yourself to see if you fall into any of these categories, so you can take action to correct your course before the consequences sneak up on you.

1. The Do-It-Yourself Entrepreneur

You know who I mean here. If you’re a do-it-yourself entrepreneur, you cannot bring yourself to hire someone to help because no one can do it like you can do it.

If you don’t change that mentality, you will never create a sustainable business. You may have a small budget, but you have to start somewhere. Get help the minute you have even a slim margin of profit. You may have to cut back on expenses for a while, but it will be worth it.

2. The Drama Queen (or King) Entrepreneur

One day, the drama queen entrepreneur is ready to tackle the world, the next day, she is ready to close the whole thing down. One minute, you are flying high, the next minute, you are ranting on Facebook about some presidential candidate. The drama queen business owner is easily distracted by every little thing, and rarely has a day where actual goals are met.

Get off of the roller coaster. Identify specific things you must accomplish each day, and don’t let anyone else’s drama get in the way of making those things happen. Your business depends on it.

3. The Always Broke Entrepreneur

The always broke business owner is, well, always broke. Too broke to take a training class that will help you grow. Too broke to hire someone to help you. Too broke to fly to a neighboring state to hear an inspirational speaker who can motivate you to the next level of success.

Get over being the broke entrepreneur. Take steps to make the cash register ring (see below), and set aside a budget each year for personal development and entrepreneurial training.

4. The Do-What-Feels-Good Entrepreneur

It would be great if everyone could accomplish their business goals by doing things they feel like doing when they feel like doing them. The do-what-feels-good entrepreneur publishes a newsletter when she gets around to it, or makes sales calls every now and then. If you see yourself here, you are on course for disaster.

Create systems and schedules in your business so you know what you are going to do, and when, to make sure the sales keep rolling in.

5. The Please Everybody Entrepreneur

Yes, your products are wonderful. And yes, everyone in the world may use products like yours. But that does not mean that your products are for everybody.

You must target your products to a particular audience so you can aim specifically at the people who are most inclined to purchase your unique products. This will help you build a tribe of supporters who will serve as your brand ambassadors, and maximize the chances that you’ll have repeat and sustainable sales over the long haul.

6. The Dream Business Entrepreneur

The dream business entrepreneur has been swallowing too much of the Facebook kool-aid. You know, the sponsored posts that offer this program and that webinar to help you launch your dream business.

Dreams don’t build businesses. Actions do.

Yes, dream it, but wake up quick, and get busy taking action on your dreams — before someone else does.

If you see yourself in any of these scenarios, don’t despair, but do get busy. Make it your first priority to tackle these issues before they tackle you and your business.

You may discover that you are predisposed because of past experiences, or simply because of your personality type, to encounter some of these challenges. No matter. The first step is to identify the issue, and then you can correct your course.

A business coach can sometimes help you identify what’s at the core of these issues, and help you overcome it.

Do you see yourself here in any of these entrepreneurial personality types? Or maybe your past self? How have you been able to change your approach to entrepreneurship to overcome any of these entrepreneurial personality types?

Personalities Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Handmade Hot Mess? Avoid These 6 Entrepreneurial Personality Types” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Tycoonomics

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

IN 1998 Peter Mandelson, a leading member of Britain’s then Labour government, said he was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they pay their taxes.” Today Lord Mandelson is more uptight; he worries about the rising inequality and stagnating middle-class incomes brought about by globalisation. His volte-face is typical of the global elite. The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, says that rising inequality casts a “dark shadow” over the global economy. A recent OECD report warns that rising inequality will be a “major policy challenge” for all countries.

In a new study, “Rich People, Poor Countries: The Rise of Emerging-Market Tycoons and their Mega Firms”, Caroline Freund of the Peterson Institute in Washington, DC, makes an important contribution to understanding this challenge. She draws a distinction between rich-world billionaires and those of the emerging economies, whose numbers have been rising at a faster rate. In 2004 the emerging world accounted for 20% of the 587 billionaires in Forbes magazine’s annual survey. By 2014 it accounted for 43% of the 1,645 billionaires on the list. In the rich…Continue reading

MetLife wins a legal battle to be deemed unimportant

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

LIFE-INSURANCE companies usually go to inordinate lengths to demonstrate their dullness. That makes MetLife’s chief executive, Steven Kandarian, extraordinary. He did what the head of no other big American financial firm has dared to: challenge head-on the legitimacy of the business-shaping decisions made with increasing frequency by regulators in the wake of the financial crisis. More remarkable still, he won. On March 30th a federal court ordered the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), a new regulatory committee, to rescind its designation of MetLife as a “strategically important financial institution”—a label that required it to have a bigger, and thus more expensive, cushion of capital.

MetLife is one of only four non-banks to have been declared a SIFI. Prudential Insurance, one of the other three, acceded after grumbling a bit. General Electric said little but has since dispensed with much of its financial operations. AIG, another insurer, seemed gleefully to accept the new status, perhaps because being a SIFI is seen as being synonymous with being too big to fail, and thus implies a government backstop. AIG’s implosion had…Continue reading

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