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July 21, 2014

Former Sino Forest CFO barred from serving as director of public company

Filed under: business, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 11:08 am

The Ontario Securities Commission has permanently banned the former chief financial officer of Sino Forest Corp. from serving as a director or officer of a public company.

David Horsley, who served as CFO from 2005 until 2012, has also agreed to pay a $700,000 fine and testify in the ongoing Sino Forest case.

Sino Forest once had a high-flying stock that traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of more than $6 billion, until in 2011 short seller Muddy Waters suggested the forestry company’s sales were a fraud.

The company, which was listed in Canada, had all its operations in China, selling standing timber.

“This is a significant settlement and a significant admission by Mr. Horsley,” said OSC lawyer Hugh Craig at a hearing on Monday.

“This should serve as a message to CFOs operating in unfamiliar business environments” of the need to be vigilant, Craig added.

“He simply didn’t do his job,” he said. “Operations may be over there, but they are regulated under the Ontario Securities Act.”

Panel vice-chair James Turner said chief financial officers play a critical role in the financial reporting of companies.

Horsley failed in his role as CFO, and failed investors and capital markets, Turner said.

In approving the deal, Turner said it was contingent on the settlement of a separate class action lawsuit involving both securities and bond holders.

Judges in Ontario and New York state are scheduled to hear that settlement proposal that Horsley has offered to pay $5.6 million.

Horsley’s lawyer Peter Wardle noted that OSC investigators concluded that his client is not accused of perpetrating any alleged frauds involving Sino Forest.

“These sins, if I can put it that way, are sins of omission as opposed to sins of commission,” Wardle added.

Source

July 6, 2014

Brampton man charged in death of pedestrian in St. Catharines

Filed under: canada, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 4:53 pm

A Brampton man has been charged in the death of a 67-year-old St. Catharines woman, who was struck by a pickup truck early Saturday morning.

Niagara police say that around 4 a.m. Saturday, the OPP were called with a complaint that a 2012 Dodge pickup truck was speeding and being driven erratically.

The truck was travelling eastbound on the QEW near Seventh St., west of St. Catharines, and was stopped by an OPP officer on Highway 406. But, as the officer approached the vehicle, it took off again, at a very high speed.

The OPP officer pursued the truck, believing the driver was impaired, but lost sight of it after abandoning the chase for safety reasons (the truck was driving too fast to safely follow). The truck was last seen at the off ramp at Highway 406 and Fourth Ave.

Shortly afterwards, Niagara Regional Police received another 911 call. Niagara Police and the OPP arrived at the site of a collision near Welland Ave direct payday lenders. and Queen St. in St. Catharines. Police said the truck struck the woman and a building on the southeast corner of the intersection.

Witnesses told police the driver allegedly reversed the vehicle, drove into a tree and fled on foot without stopping to help the victim.

The woman was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, then transferred to Hamilton Health Sciences General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Pirasath Aiyathurai, 30, was arrested after an hour-long search by police. He faces five criminal charges including flight from police, criminal negligence causing death, impaired driving and failing to remain at the scene.

Source

April 29, 2014

Audit finds issues with Toronto trustee expenses

Filed under: mortgage, news — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 7:11 am

Toronto trustees like to have their say in the boardroom, but they do a lot of talking outside of it as well — racking up thousands of dollars worth of calls to and from the Virgin Islands, Panama, Cuba, Greece and Mexico.

A detailed internal audit of Toronto District School Board trustees found numerous examples when they were, mostly without question, reimbursed for unauthorized or dubious expenses, including conference costs six days after the end of a three-day conference, $100 for alcohol and a $250 parking violation — issued for either blocking a fire route or a fire hydrant.

Trustee John Hastings, chair of the audit committee, said he could not explain the claims but wants the board to move quickly to address spending.

“I think it’s a combination of training that has to be provided to trustees, plus clearer policies and procedures … we need to bloody well pull up our socks and get at it,” he said before heading into a meeting Monday afternoon to discuss the audit.

The board paid out an additional $3,500 in international texting and data roaming charges from September 2010 to last January. “There appears to be no monitoring of trustee’s board cellphone charges,” the audit notes.

“We need to have a tracking system on that,” Hastings added. “We need to probably have better phone plans that adapt to the individual circumstances of trustees. Again, I see this as a big opportunity to get this ship turned around in this regard.”

The audit comes after a December report by Ernst and Young raised red flags about financial processes at Canada’s largest school board home insurance. It also comes amid revelations of trustee misbehaviour, after senior educators complained staff have been bullied, harassed and intimidated by elected officials.

There is no indication trustees harangued staff to approve expenses, Hastings added.

The audit details current differences in the rules for Toronto public and Catholic boards — showing limits and controls for the latter, with very few for the former.

(Spending at the Catholic board was tightened in 2009 after trustees made outrageous expense claims for things like lingerie and vacations.)

Toronto public trustees have annual expense accounts of $27,000, with extra money available through a fund for non-ward business such as professional development.

While some expenses “contradicted the policy … the estimated costs of these exceptions represent a small percentage of the total $2.5 million in trustee and governance expenses during the audit period” of September 2010 to this past January, the audit notes.

A new policy firming up expense reporting will go before another committee this week, and Trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher continues to push to have all expenses posted online, in detail, as soon as possible.

The audit also revealed that trustees have hired board employees as their constituency assistants — not allowed — or have assistants who have no contract on file with the board.

It also raises questions about two trustees who charged taxpayers for stays at Ottawa’s luxury Chateau Frontenac hotel for a national school boards’ conference — one billing $354 a night for three nights, the other $414 a night for four nights.

Hastings himself said he had to reimburse the board for $60 for mileage he mistakenly claimed for meetings he didn’t attend.

“We’re all fallible,” he said.

He also defended a $2,100 expense for lanyards, with his trustee business card tucked inside, given to each graduating high school student last year.

Another unnamed trustee spent $11,600 for newsletter printing and graphic design.

Hastings said up to eight staff members were approving expenses without sufficient documentation, and feels that no more than two or three should be in charge.

TDSB audit highlights

Seven trustees incurred long distance charges on their cellphones: $55 for calls to and from Panama in one month; $947.50 to and from Cuba over one month; $2,218.47 to Barbados, Switzerland and the Virgin Islands; $1,473.90 in calls to China, Chile, Hong Kong, Greece and Polynesia; $320 in calls to and from Israel during one month; $800.43 to Guyana and Trinidad; $492.90 to Greece and Mexico over two months.

“The TDSB may have paid for personal long distance charges of the trustees,” the audit notes. Policy says they must reimburse such charges, and the audit recommends creating a special form for trustees to do so.

Almost $3,500 was billed for data roaming, international texting and text roaming life insurance for retirement.

One trustee charged the board for home Internet at two addresses in one month.

“A number of trustees submitted expenses for travel, accommodation, meals or other expenses in their conference claims that were outside of the conference dates … One trustee attended a three-day conference and incurred hotels, tours and other accommodation charges for up to six days after the conference. There were also two hotel rooms paid during one day of the trip.” One trustee billed $300 in tour costs and $400 in food at a conference with no explanation. Four trustees billed for a night at a Toronto hotel for a conference, when all live in the city and the conference took place during the day. One trustee expensed 181 kilometres in a day, with no details. One trustee billed cabs totalling $2,500, another $4,700. The audit notes there are no rules and that other transportation might be less expensive. Citing no clear policy on gifts, the audit found $40 spent on flowers for a parent council chair; $1,054 in glassware to “an organization in relation to the signing of a board agreement,” $30 for a music CD for a guest speaker, and Hastings’ lanyard giveaway. Parking receipts with no details, or details that don’t match mileage claims. $2,210 in “professional development” costs for constituency assistants.

Source

September 13, 2012

European stocks rally after German ruling

Filed under: economics, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 7:28 am

Investors around the world cheered a German court ruling that clears the way for Europe’s latest rescue fund.

European stocks rallied, the euro climbed higher, and borrowing costs in Spain and Italy eased to their lowest levels in six months.

Early Wednesday, the German Constitutional Court ruled against a group of conservative politicians who requested an injunction that would bar Germany from ratifying the treaty governing the European Stability Mechanism.

The DAX in Frankfurt surged almost 2%, while the CAC 40 in Paris jumped 1%. London’s FTSE closed down 0.2%.

Wall Street also got a lift from Europe, with all three major U.S. indexes rising 0.2%.

“I think it’s very much a political symbol for support of these bailout policies,” said Clemens Fuest, professor of taxation at Oxford University’s Sa?d Business School. “That’s bad news for the taxpayer, but good news for people who hold government bonds. I think the uncertainly about short-term exits [from the European Union] of Greece and other countries like Spain has been reduced.”

The decision helped push down Spanish 10-year bond yields to 5.6%, while the yield on the Italian 10-year bond slid to 5.06%. Borrowing costs for both nations haven’t been this low in months as Spain and Italy have struggled to reduce their deficits.

Last week’s move by the European Central Bank to buy euro-area bonds helped ease investors’ concerns. And the latest news from Germany is adding to that optimism. The euro is at a four-month high against the U.S. dollar, just shy of $1.30.

German magazine Der Spiegel referred to the German court ruling as “a sigh of relief” for Germany and Europe, and “a historically significant signal for the euro rescue.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed the sentiment, calling it “a good day for Europe.”

Asian markets, which were already closed ahead of the German ruling, ended higher. Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 1.7%, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong was up 0.9%, and the Shanghai Composite added 0.3%.

Source

August 21, 2012

State unemployment rates rise in 44 states

Filed under: canada, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 6:56 am

The state unemployment picture worsened last month, with jobless rates creeping higher in 44 states, according to a government report released Friday.

Only two states and the District of Columbia saw unemployment rates edge lower in July, while four states saw no change in rates, according to the Labor Department’s monthly report on state unemployment.

That’s worse than the previous month, when far fewer states recorded increases in unemployment rates. In June, jobless rates rose in 27 states, while 11 states and the District of Columbia reported rate declines and 12 states had no change.

Nevada, a swing state in the upcoming presidential election, posted the highest unemployment rate last month, at 12%. Rhode Island and California followed, with rates of 10.8% and 10.7%. North Dakota, where an oil boom has led to a flurry of new jobs, had the lowest unemployment rate in the country last month, at 3%.

Among key swing states this election, six states reported that their unemployment rates rose last month: Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa low fee payday loans. Ohio’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.2%.

Wisconsin, which CNN moved into the toss-up column Thursday, posted a rise in unemployment to 7.3% from 7%.

Compared to the same month a year ago, only three states have jobless rates of 10% or higher, down significantly from 10 states and the District of Columbia last year. Overall, 44 states and the District of Columbia have lower jobless rates than a year ago.

Earlier this month, the government’s widely watched monthly jobs report showed that employers added 163,000 jobs in July, but the jobless rate increased to 8.3%. According to the state unemployment report released Friday, 23 states posted rates below that national rate last month, while 8 states had higher rates.

Source

August 6, 2012

Romney promises 12 million jobs in four years

Filed under: canada, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 5:56 am

Mitt Romney’s economic advisers issued a rosy set of projections Thursday that predict 12 million new jobs and a sharp economic expansion if the Republican candidate were to capture the White House.

The paper, authored by four conservative economists, projects that the Romney plan would add between 0.5% and 1% per year in gross domestic product growth over the next decade.

The estimates, the economists write, are "conservative." Growth could be even stronger if hard-to-model gains from more effective regulation and decreased policy uncertainty could be captured.

Yet 12 million new jobs over just four years would be one of the strongest periods of employment growth in recent history, and require the economy to consistently add 250,000 jobs every 30 days for 48 straight months.

According to the position paper, the quick turnaround would be spurred by the lower tax rates and drastic spending cuts that are the hallmark of Romney’s plan.

The implementation of Romney’s plan will of course require the cooperation of Congress, and it should be noted that presidential campaigns often make promises that fail to materialize.

The paper’s authors — Glenn Hubbard of Columbia, Greg Mankiw of Harvard, John Taylor of Stanford and Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute — also include a boilerplate critique of the Obama administration’s policies.

"America took a wrong turn in economic policy in the past three years," the authors write. "The United States underperformed the historical norm shown in the administration’s own forecasts, and its policies are to blame."

Much of the critique is focused on what the authors characterize as a pursuit of short-term patches — such as the stimulus — that failed to address deep-seated structural problems like an overly complicated tax code cheapest personal loan rates.

The paper criticizes Obama’s housing policies, for example, saying the administration "ignored" the weak market. But Romney has not offered a detailed alternative — and the paper does not shed any light on the candidate’s plan for the housing market.

And while the projections are spelled out in detail, the paper does not address any of the bubbling criticisms of Romney’s economic plan.

Related: Mitt Romney’s other tax secret

According to a study released Wednesday by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, Romney’s plan would provide large tax cuts to the very wealthy, while increasing the tax burden on the lower and middle classes.

Romney’s tax cuts would produce a $360 billion revenue loss in 2015, and offsetting that would require a reduction of 65% of all available tax expenditures, according to the study.

The end result is that individuals who make less than $200,000 would actually have to pay $500 more, on average, in taxes — a 1.2% decrease in after-tax income. Meanwhile, the after-tax income of individuals who make more than $1 million would increase by 4.1%.

The campaign disputed the Tax Policy Center’s conclusions, arguing that increased growth resulting from corporate tax reductions was not included.

The Tax Policy Center, meanwhile, said it could not score the plan directly, as "certain components of [Romney’s] plan are not specified in sufficient detail."

The notable lack of detail is a critique that has dogged the campaign for months.

On the spending side of the government ledger, for example, Romney has promised to reduce federal spending from 24% of gross domestic product to 20%. But has not offered a comprehensive list of programs he would cut. 

Source

July 11, 2012

Stocks end sharply lower

Filed under: management, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 12:16 pm

U.S. stocks closed sharply lower on Tuesday as worries about corporate earnings falling short of expectations unnerved investors.

Energy, utilities and tech stocks added pressure to already-down markets after Applied Materials (, Fortune 500) and Advanced Micro Devices (, Fortune 500) both warned their revenue would fall short of forecasts.

Disappointing expectations from Cummins (, Fortune 500) also dragged on markets, as the engine maker’s stock fell 9% after it slashed its sales forecast for the year.

Alcoa (, Fortune 500) was the first Dow component to report this week. The aluminum producer reported results after the close Monday that were roughly in line with analysts’ expectations, but the stock still slid as investors had hoped for more.

Results are due later in the week from JPMorgan Chase (, Fortune 500) and Wells Fargo (, Fortune 500).

Overall, analysts are expecting underwhelming corporate results, with earnings dropping off compared to the first quarter. But some analysts say that with the bar set so low, stocks may benefit from companies beating expectations.

"Even though the expectations for earnings are pretty dour, the next couple of weeks should be good for markets," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank. "In a market that really is a manifestation of reality beating anticipation, it’s great to have very low expectations."

The Dow Jones industrial average () slid 83 points, or 0.7%, the S&P 500 () fell 11 points, or 0.8%, and the Nasdaq () shed 29 points, or 1%.

Analysts say that trading volume is also light, which can add to market volatility.

"There’s not a lot of money moving in and out of the market," said Douglas Cote, chief market strategist at ING Investment Management. "There’s simply a lot of churning."

Stocks had opened with solid gains after eurozone finance ministers agreed late Monday to offer Spain an initial €30 billion by the end of the month to help bail out its troubled banks.

Europe’s stability mechanism remains elusive

"The agreement shows that the European leaders are committed to doing whatever is necessary to make sure there won’t be another euro crisis," said Cote. "The market just loves that kind of certainty."

But worries remain, said Bob Phillips, co-founder of investment advisory firm Spectrum Management Group in Indianapolis.

"The fundamental issue is that Spain’s spending more a year than they’re taking in," Phillips said. "They can print money and buy time, but they keep spending money that can’t be paid for."

Yields for the 10-year Spanish bond slid to 6.83% following the eurozone announcement. Yields have been bouncing above the 7% mark, which heightens bailout worries.

U.S. stocks ended lower Monday, as investors remained wary ahead of quarterly corporate results.

World markets: European stocks closed up for the day. Britain’s FTSE 100 () added 0.7%, the DAX () in Germany gained 0.8% and France’s CAC 40 () rose 0.6%.

Meanwhile, China reported worsening year-over-year import growth early Tuesday. June growth came in at 6.3%, half of May’s 12.7%, pointing to weak demand.

Asian markets closed lower. The Shanghai Composite () fell 0.3%, the Hang Seng () in Hong Kong shed 0.2% and Japan’s Nikkei () lost 0.4%.

N.Y. Fed asked Barclays about Libor in ‘08

Companies: Shares of Barclays () were higher Tuesday, after the British bank reached a deal with outgoing CEO Bob Diamond, who quit as the bank faces criticism for its role in the Libor scandal.

Although Diamond continues to receive salary and some benefits for a year or so, he declined his deferred bonus worth up to £20 million ($31 million).

Shares of Advanced Micro Devices plummeted after the company warned late Monday that it expects second-quarter revenue will drop 11% from the previous quarter because of weaker sales in China and Europe.

Applied Materials cut its outlook early Tuesday, revising third-quarter and full-year earnings and sales forecasts, citing a slowdown in demand for semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

Troubled BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion () held its annual shareholder meeting Tuesday. Late last month, the company announced 5,000 layoffs, a giant quarterly loss and another delay to its next BlackBerry operating system. Shares were down Tuesday.

Intel (, Fortune 500) has agreed to acquire a 15% stake in Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASML Holdings () for up to $4.1 billion. Intel said the companies will work together to develop technologies that will cut costs and improve productivity.

Economy: Last year, 18.6% of youth across 34 countries were neither employed nor in school or training programs, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Employment Outlook 2012 report released on Tuesday. In the United States, that percentage was 14.8%.

A lack of jobs for workers ages 15 to 24 could create a "scarring effect" on their long-term career paths and future earnings prospects, the OECD said.

The OECD also predicts the unemployment rate across the United States, Europe, Japan and Mexico will stay above 7.7% by the end of 2013 — barely better than its current 7.9%.

Goldman Sachs: Stock picking isn’t paying off

Currencies and commodities: The dollar rose against the euro and British pound but fell versus the Japanese yen.

Oil for August delivery settled down $2.08 to $83.91 a barrel.

Gold futures for August delivery lost $9.30 to $1,579.80 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 1.52% from 1.51% late Monday.  

Source

July 9, 2012

Consumer Credit in U.S. Rises by $17.1 Billion, Fed Says - Bloomberg

Filed under: mortgage, news — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 10:28 pm

Consumer credit climbed more than forecast in May, led by the biggest jump in credit-card debt in almost five years that may signal Americans are struggling to make ends meet.

The $17.1 billion increase, exceeding the highest estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and the largest this year, followed a $9.95 billion gain the previous month that was more than previously estimated, the Federal Reserve said today in Washington. Revolving credit, which includes credit card spending, rose by $8 billion, the most since November 2007.

A pickup in borrowing coincides with a slowdown in hiring and declines in consumer confidence that indicate the job market is failing to spur enough gains in wages to cover expenses. Employers added fewer workers to payrolls than forecast in June while the jobless rate stayed at 8.2 percent.

June 23, 2012

Anna Schwartz, Economist Friedman

Filed under: mortgage, technology — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 3:00 pm

Anna Schwartz, an economist and co- author with Milton Friedman of a book on monetary policy that shaped the views of central bankers including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, has died. She was 96.

She died today at her home in Manhattan after a long illness, said her daughter, Naomi Pasachoff.

The first book that Schwartz wrote with Friedman,

June 8, 2012

Canada Jobs and Housing Data Signal Economic Weakness - Bloomberg

Filed under: Uncategorized, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 4:04 pm

Weaker Canadian job creation and slower housing starts, along with falling exports, add to evidence growth in the world

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