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  • Debit Card Fees Under Spotlight - 14 March 2011
  • Moody's recent credit update on the US banking sector noted that the credit rating agency is expecting a slow return to acceptable credit conditions. One of the numerous aspects of the report revealed that loan charge-offs had continued to decrease, reaching the level of 2.6 percent of loans in the fourth quarter of 2010. This is the lowest level since the fourth quarter 2008, but is still considered to be too high. Based on data indicating estimated losses on charge-offs being in the region of $744 billion between 2008 and 2011, and with around $548 billion in losses having already been incurred, Moody’s anticipates an estimated $198 billion being written off by the end of the year. So it appears that more consumers are in the position to settle their debt, and hopefully start spending again to boost the economy and the business of providing credit.

  • 2010 Fourth Quarter Results Highlight of Coming Week - 10 January 2011
  • While the first week of 2011 showed market gains, thereby reinforcing the air of cautious optimism, the coming week is likely to present a challenge to US stock market investors as 2010 fourth quarter results start trickling in. With much of the improvement in profits registered by noteworthy companies during last year being attributed to cost cutting exercises, investors and stakeholders are looking for genuine revenue growth in the upcoming year. How companies ended 2010 should give a good indication as to whether these expectations will be met.

  • $600 Billion For QE2 - 4 November 2010
  • While there was little doubt that the Federal Reserve would launch 'QE2' – a second round of quantitative easing – in an effort to boost economic recovery, there has been plenty of speculation as to what the amount would be, with guesstimates ranging from $500 billion into the trillions of US dollars. The guessing game came to an end when, following its two day meeting, the Fed announced that over the next eight months it would spend $600 billion on long-term treasuries, as well as reinvesting between $250 and $300 billion of the proceeds of previous investments.

  • Wall Street Faces Earnings, Economic Data and Pre-Election Tension - 25 October 2010
  • Wall Street traders will be facing what some are referring to as the 'three Es' in the upcoming weeks, being earnings, elections and economic data. Third quarter earnings reports will pick up momentum during the week, with stock exchange listed companies due to report including Comcast, Procter & Gamble, 3M, Motorola, Exxon Mobil and Microsoft. While earnings reported have generally been better than expected so far, and the market has responded positively to this, some analysts are sounding a warning bell that the market may have become vulnerable to big sell-offs. Add to the third quarter earnings, the implications of the outcome of upcoming mid-term elections, a host of important economic reports, and the possibility of the Federal Reserve’s proposed quantitative easing measures which include the buying up of bank assets, and it is understandable that there are concerns over possible market volatility.

  • Quantitative Easing – Economic Recovery’s Latest Buzzword - 21 October 2010
  • Leading up to the Federal Reserve's November 2-3 meeting, at which economic stimulus measures will be high on the agenda, the concept of 'quantitative easing' as a means of encouraging economic growth is garnering its fair share of both critics and supporters. Quantitative easing had been used by the Fed earlier in the current economic crisis, but with limited success. Aptly named QE2, a second round of quantitative easing seems likely to be put into place in which the US central bank will buy up (mostly toxic) assets from banks in an effort to pump money into said banks. The banks in turn can lend this money to businesses, allowing the businesses, in turn, to increase their labor force, thereby channeling money to consumers, boosting consumer spending and jumpstarting the economy.

  • A Brief History of Competition Law – Part 3 - 11 October 2010
  • Continued from Part 2

    It was following WWI that other countries started to implement competition policies along the lines of those introduced by the United States. Competition regulators were formed to ensure that competition and antitrust policies and laws were adhered to. Following the 2nd World War, the Allies introduced regulations to break up cartels and monopolies that had formed during the war years. At the time, this was mainly aimed at Germany and Japan. In the case of Germany, it was feared that large industry cartels were manipulated in a manner that gave total economic control of the country to the Nazi regime. With Japan, big business was a hotbed of nepotism resulting in multi-industry conglomerates that controlled the Japanese economy. However, the surrender of both Germany and Japan to the Allied forces at the end of WWII allowed for tighter controls to be enforced, and these controls were based on the principle of those being used in the U.S.

  • Q2 Results Dominate the Week Ahead - 19 July 2010
  • The upcoming week will see the trickle of second quarter results, and projected earnings, turn into a flood on Wall Street, which will no doubt have an impact on markets and investment decisions. More than a hundred of America's largest and most influential companies will release data during the week, providing a clearer picture of the state of the economy, as well as providing some insight into consumer activity. The reporting season started off reasonably well with relatively good results from Alcoa and Intel, but last week ended with Citigroup, Bank of America and General Electric dishing out a dose of disappointment to investors. Adding to investor concern at the end of the week was the July consumer sentiment index from the University of Michigan, which revealed consumer confidence to be at its lowest point in close to a year.

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