Archive for the ‘Money’ Category

China’s Richest Man: Big Money, Big Controversey

November 30, 2008

China‘s richest man, Huang Guangyu, who is being investigated for suspected economic crimes, is no stranger to controversy.

Two years ago, local authorities investigated the self-made 39-year-old billionaire in connection with a loan deal involving his investment company, Eagle Property Group. Huang was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

The current probe of Huang, the chairman and controlling shareholder of China’s top electronics retailer GOME — known as China’s Best Buy, the top U.S. electronics chain — throws the spotlight on another Chinese tale of rags-to-riches fame.

Ranked first on Hurun’s China Rich List in 2008, Huang, worth $6.3 billion, was raised in a poor family in China’s Guangdong province. He moved to Beijing in his late teens with his brother and set up a home appliances distribution firm with 30,000 yuan ($4,392), and founded GOME in 1987.

GOME was valued at around $1.8 billion as of November 24 after which trading in the stock was suspended.

The influential Caijing magazine said last week Huang was detained as part of a probe into share price manipulation at SD Jintai, a drugs and medical equipment firm controlled by Huang’s brother, Huang Junqin.

SD Jintai’s stock surged more than eight-fold in 2007. It is still not clear if Huang owns a stake in SD Jintai.

GOME Electrical Appliance Holdings, the company Huang founded, said he is being investigated for suspected economic crimes but the probe is not related to the group, its assets or funds.

By Nerilyn Tenorio and Joseph Chaney, Reuters

Huang Guangyu, chairman of GOME Electrical Appliances Holding ... 
Huang Guangyu, chairman of GOME Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd., gestures during an interview at Reuters China Century Summit in Beijing September 7, 2006.(Jason Lee/Reuters)

“Doing business in China is very complicated. Having a good relationship with everyone, with the government in particular, is a major key to success,” said Castor Pang, a strategist at stock brokerage Sun Hung Kai Financial in Hong Kong.

“It’s very difficult to say, though, that people have to deal with corruption to climb the ladder. In China, businessmen need to deal under the table to make things move faster, to get things done via short-cuts.”

China’s stock regulator has been battling with limited success to curb stock manipulation, insider trading and poor corporate disclosure that have plagued the Chinese market.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081130/wl_nm/us_gome_huang_1

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Meltdown fallout: some parents rethink toy-buying

November 29, 2008

In a season that inspires earnest letters about toys, one notable batch is being sent not by kids to Santa’s workshop but by parents to the executive suites of real-world toy makers.

The message: Please, in these days of economic angst, cut back on marketing your products directly to our children.

By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer

The letter-writing initiative was launched by the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which says roughly 1,400 of its members and supporters have contacted 24 leading toy companies and retailers to express concern about ads aimed at kids.

Jessica Luu, left, looks for deals as her friend's baby, Kaylee ... 
Jessica Luu, left, looks for deals as her friend’s baby, Kaylee Oliver, inspects a toy in the shopping cart, as shoppers at Toys ‘R’ Us at The Forum at Olympia Parkway in Selma, Texas look for the best savings on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2008.(AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News, Bob Owen)

“Unfortunately, I will not be able to purchase many of the toys that my sons have asked for; we simply don’t have the money,” wrote Todd Helmkamp of Hudson, Ind. “By bombarding them with advertisements … you are placing parents like me in the unenviable position of having to tell our children that we can’t afford the toys you promote.”

The Toy Industry Association has responded with a firm defense of current marketing practices, asserting that children “are a vital part of the gift selection process.”

“If children are not aware of what is new and available, how will they be able to tell their families what their preferences are?” an industry statement said. “While there is certainly greater economic disturbance going on now, families have always faced different levels of economic well-being and have managed to tailor their spending to their means.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081129/ap_
on_bi_ge/toy_worries;_ylt=AoWMb0EDdgDf8
Q0n2j_5kxGs0NUE

Massive Funding Failing to Curb AIDS Epidemic in Russia

November 21, 2008

Greater investment in combatting AIDS is failing to slow its spread in Russia, the director of the Russian federal AIDS centre Vadim Pokrovsky said Friday.

“The AIDS epidemic is currently rising in our country,” Pokrovsky told a press conference in Moscow.

“We have a large amount of funding that is going to increase still further — but the number of HIV-positive people is growing faster than our ability to care for them.”

Nearly 37,000 Russians have contracted the HIV virus that leads to AIDS since the beginning of 2008 — a figure that could increase to 50,000 by the end of the year, he said.

That would represent an 11.8 percent increase from 2007, when 44,713 new cases were recorded, according to official figures. In 2006 and 2005, the number of new cases totalled 39,589 and 35,861 respectively.

The increase comes despite the Russian government earmarking 7.1 billion rubles (206 million euros, 258 million dollars) to fight AIDS, Pokrovsky said.

Some 5.1 billion rubles has been allocated for anti-retroviral drugs to help 30,000 HIV cases, but Pokrovsky criticised the government’s “delay” in buying medication and “shortages” of drugs available.

A particular “weak point” of the government’s programme is the allocation of no more than 200 million rubles for AIDS prevention, he said.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which since 2004 has helped 10,000 people, most of them migrants, with HIV in Russia, will stop operating in the country at the end of 2010.

“Russia is no longer considered one of the countries where its people earn low salaries, so it can no longer benefit from Global Fund money,” he said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081121/hl_afp/
russiahealthaids_081121185007

Somali pirates transform villages into boomtowns

November 19, 2008

Somalia’s increasingly brazen pirates are building sprawling stone houses, cruising in luxury cars, marrying beautiful women — even hiring caterers to prepare Western-style food for their hostages.

And in an impoverished country where every public institution has crumbled, they have become heroes in the steamy coastal dens they operate from because they are the only real business in town.

By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN and ELIZABETH KENNEDY, Associated Press Writers

“The pirates depend on us, and we benefit from them,” said Sahra Sheik Dahir, a shop owner in Haradhere, the nearest village to where a hijacked Saudi Arabian supertanker carrying $100 million in crude was anchored Wednesday.

These boomtowns are all the more shocking in light of Somalia’s violence and poverty: Radical Islamists control most of the country’s south, meting out lashings and stonings for accused criminals. There has been no effective central government in nearly 20 years, plunging this arid African country into chaos.

Some of the eight suspected Somali pirates when they appeared ... 
Some of the eight suspected Somali pirates when they appeared before the Mombasa Chief Magistrate Catherine Mwangi , Wednesday, Nov.19 ,.2008 to be charged for piracy. The pirates were not immediately charged as their charged had not been prepared. The suspects were returned to the cells awaiting to be charged ..In an impoverished country where nearly every public institution has crumbled, pirates have transformed local economies in pirate dens like Haradhere and Eyl in northern Somalia, pumping money into areas where there had been little more than fishmongers and women selling magoes by the seashore for the past 20 years.(AP Photo)

Life expectancy is just 46 years; a quarter of children die before they reach 5.

But in northern coastal towns like Haradhere, Eyl and Bossaso, the pirate economy is thriving thanks to the money pouring in from pirate ransoms that have reached $30 million this year alone.

“There are more shops and business is booming because of the piracy,” said Sugule Dahir, who runs a clothing shop in Eyl. “Internet cafes and telephone shops have opened, and people are just happier than before.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081119/ap_on_re_af/af_pirate_
boomtown;_ylt=AhcD9m_1erjHfIxz1xm3H8Os0NUE

Somali pirates try to hijack British ship; demanding $10m ransom for captured Saudi supertanker

November 19, 2008

Somali pirates who captured a Saudi supertanker have narrowly failed in hijacking a British tanker.

The British tanker Trafalgar was suddenly surrounded in the Gulf of Aden by at least eight speedboats.

By David Willaims
The Mail (London)

Negotiations over the Sirius Star, packed with two million barrels of crude oil worth $100million (£67m) – enough to supply the whole of France for a day – were said still not to have opened formally.
An undated photo of the Sirius Star in South Korean waters.

Above: The Sirius Star — a crude “super tanker” flagged in Liberia and owned by the Saudi Arabian-based Saudi Aramco company — was attacked on Saturday more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya.

Meanwhile a Greek carrier and a Thai fishing vessel were the latest to be captured by pirates this week.

Read the rest:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-
1086658/Now-Somali-pirates-try-hijack-British-s
hip-demanding-10m-ransom-captured-Saudi-sup
ertanker.html

It was rescued when the German frigate Karlsruhe on patrol 12 miles away sent a helicopter to scare off the pirates who fled at high speed.

The latest audacious attack by Somali pirates comes as they are expected to a record ransom of more than $10million for the release of the Saudi oil supertanker hijacked off the Kenyan coast.

“Audacity” Of Somali Pirates No Surprise: Their Nation is in Turmoil, Piracy Makes Them Wealthy in “Pirate Towns”

November 18, 2008

From NPR

Pirates who seized a Saudi supertanker earlier this week were nearing a Somali port on Tuesday, where they were expected to begin negotiations for the release of the crew and cargo.

The Sirius Star is three times the size of an aircraft carrier and believed to be carrying more than $100 millions worth of crude oil.

Piracy is a multi-billion dollar industry off the coast of Somalia, where commercial ships are routinely seized for the value of the cargo and to ransom the crew.

This undated picture made at an unknown location shows the the ... 
This undated picture made at an unknown location shows the the MV Sirius Star a Saudi oil supertanker which has been hijacked by Somali pirates. The owner of a Saudi oil supertanker hijacked by Somali pirates over the weekend said the 25 crew members are safe and the ship is fully loaded with crude — a cargo worth about US$100 million at current prices. Dubai-based Vela International Marine Ltd., a subsidiary of Saudi oil company Aramco, said in a statement Monday, Nov. 17, 2008, that company response teams have been set up and are working to ensure the release of the crew and the vessel.(AP Photo/Fred Vloo)

Despite anti-piracy efforts by the U.S., NATO and other European powers in the Gulf of Aden, the pirates have widened their field of operation. The Sirius Star was hijacked in the Indian Ocean, 450 miles off the coast of Kenya.

The vessel reportedly appears to be heading for the coastal village of Eyl in the semi-autonomous province of Puntland — a known pirate base.

The attacks have driven up insurance costs, forced some ships to go round South Africa instead of through the Suez Canal and secured millions of dollars in ransoms.

Hear the radio report:
http://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=97124768&m=97124740

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“They have money; they have power and they are getting stronger by the day,” says Abdi Farah Juha who lives in the regional capital, Garowe.

They wed the most beautiful girls; they are building big houses; they have new cars; new guns,” he says.

“Piracy in many ways is socially acceptable. They have become fashionable.”

Most of them are aged between 20 and 35 years – in it for the money.

And the rewards they receive are rich in a country where….

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7650415.stm

Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen gestures during a ... 
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, says the hostages held at sea by pirates makes military intervention difficult and dangerous…..(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

From AFP

The top US military officer said Monday he was “stunned” by the reach of the Somali pirates who seized a Saudi supertanker off the east coast of Africa, calling piracy a growing problem that needs to be addressed.

But Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there were limits to what the world’s navies could do once a ship has been captured because national governments often preferred to pay pirates ransom.

“I’m stunned by the range of it, less so than I am the size,” Mullen said of the seizure of the Sirius Star Sunday by armed men.

The huge, oil laden prize, which is three times the size of a US aircraft carrier, was some 450 miles east of Kenya when it was boarded, he said.

That is the farthest out at sea that a ship has been seized in the latest surge of piracies, according to Mullen.

The pirates, he said, are “very good at what they do. They’re very well armed. Tactically, they are very good.”

“And so, once they get to a point where they can board, it becomes very difficult to get them off, because, clearly, now they hold hostages.

“The question then becomes, well, what do you do about the hostages? And that’s where the standoff is.

“That’s a national question to ask based on the flag of the vessel. And the countries by and large have been paying the ransom that the pirates have asked,” he said.

Mullen said the number of successful piracies have gone down, but the incidence of ship seizures were way up.

“It’s got a lot of people’s attention and is starting to have impact on the commercial side, which I know countries raise as a concern,” he said.

“And so there’s a lot more focus on this. It’s a very serious issue. It’s a growing issue. And we’re going to continue to have to deal with it,” he said.

An undated photo of the Sirius Star in South Korean waters.

An undated photo of the Sirius Star in South Korean waters.

The Sirius Star — a crude “super tanker” flagged in Liberia and owned by the Saudi Arabian-based Saudi Aramco company — was attacked on Saturday more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya.

The crew of 25, including British, Croatian, Polish, Filippino and Saudi nationals, are reported to be safe.

U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet Cmdr. Jane Campbell said the super tanker weighs more than 300,000 metric tons and “is more than three times the size of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.”

Oil industry insiders say a tanker of this size can carry up to 2 million barrels of oil, and the ship’s operator, Dubai-based Vela International Marine Ltd, says it is fully laden.

A U.S. Navy spokesman said the tanker is approaching Eyl, Somalia, on the Indian Ocean coast. It is routine procedure for pirates to take hijacked ships to shore, where they will keep them while they discuss negotiations.

A multinational naval force including vessels from the U.S., the UK and Russia has been patrolling the Indian Ocean waters seas near the Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, following a sharp increase in pirate attacks in the region.

Related:

Somali Pirates Capture Biggest Prize Ever: “Supertanker” Loaded With Oil
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Somali Pirates, After Grabbing Biggest Prize, Negotiate for Loot

Read the rest from CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/11/17/
kenya.tanker.pirates/index.html?section=cnn_latest

At G-20, China Did Not Commit Bailout Funds Despite Huge Reserves

November 16, 2008

China got what it wanted in Washington’s financial summit — a promise of a bigger role for developing countries in global finance — but gave no sign Sunday whether it will respond by using any of its $1.9 trillion in reserves in a bailout fund.

By JOE McDONALD, AP Business Writer

China has been pushing for developing countries generally — and itself specifically — to have more influence at the International Monetary Fund and other global bodies. Analysts say that might be Beijing’s price to give in to foreign appeals to dip into its reserves and contribute money toward an IMF emergency loan fund for struggling countries.

The Washington summit was an “important and positive” step toward “the reform of the international financial structure,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement. It made no mention of possible bailout contributions, and a man who answered the phone at the ministry press office said he had no information.

Leaders from 21 nations, including China, and four international organizations attended the emergency two-day summit intended to address the financial crisis sweeping the globe.

Summit participants vowed Saturday at the conclusion of the two-day conference to cooperate more closely, keep a sharper eye out for potential problems and give bigger roles to fast-rising nations. But the leaders avoided many of the harder details leaving them to be worked out before their next summit, after President George W. Bush is gone and President-elect Barack Obama is in the White House.

China says it will cooperate with the IMF but Chinese officials say its most important role will be to preserve global growth by keeping its own economy healthy. Beijing announced a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package last week, at a time of slowing economic growth and fears that falling exports could lead to layoffs and factory closures.

“China’s economic power is growing, so China could contribute and help ease the financial crisis,” said Wu Jinglian, a prominent economist and Cabinet adviser. “But the first priority is to keep our own economy growing. That will benefit every country in the world.”

A woman cooks while her husband playing computer games inside ...
A woman cooks while her husband playing computer games inside the prefabricated temporary housing in Yingxiu, Sichuan Province in China Nov. 8, 2008. Six months after the worst quake to hit China in three decades, the future remains uncertain for many survivors. Jobs are hard to come by, and government aid payments are about to end. Many people are still in temporary housing. China’s leaders have called reconstruction a priority. Last week, the government announced plans to pump $146 billion into the effort over the next three years. Some 120 billion yuan ($17.5 billion) will be spent on ensuring schools, hospitals and other public facilities are built to higher standards.(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081116/ap_on_re_as/as_asia_meltdown_summit_1

Iran Again Pushes OPEC to Cut Oil Production, Raise prices

November 15, 2008

Iran called on OPEC Saturday to cut production by a further 1 million to 1.5 million barrels per day when it meets in Cairo later this month, state television’s website reported Saturday.

Iran’s OPEC governor, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, said the cartel needs to act to slash output because demand for oil has declined due to the global financial meltdown.

OPEC, which produces about 40% of the world’s crude oil, decided to cut production by 1.5 million barrels a day last month in response to a dramatic fall in oil prices from a record $147 in July to below $70 last month.

Despite the cut, oil prices have continued to decline. Light, sweet crude for December delivery fell $1.20 to settle at $57.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday.

Diving prices have forced OPEC to plan an extraordinary meeting in Cairo, scheduled for Nov. 29, to discuss the plunge.

Iran, OPEC's number two oil producer, favours a cut in crude ... 
Iran, OPEC’s number two oil producer, favours a cut in crude production of 1.0 to 1.5 million barrels per day when the oil cartel meets in Cairo later this month, state television has reported.(AFP/Getty Images/File/David McNew)

Read the rest from the Associated Press and USA Today:
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/
2008-11-15-opec_N.htm?csp=34

China’s economy may expand at the slowest pace in nearly two decades

November 8, 2008

When China’s President Hu Jintao made his first official visit to Washington in April of 2006, President Bush asked his counterpart which of the numerous challenges China faced was the most serious — which one kept Hu awake at night worrying. “Unemployment,” Hu reportedly answered without hesitating.
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China's President Hu Jintao speaks at a celebration meeting ... 
China’s President Hu Jintao speaks at a celebration meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing November 7, 2008. China held a meeting on Friday morning to award people who made outstanding contributions to the Shenzhou VII manned space flight, Xinhua reported.REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA)
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By Paul Panckhurst and Li Yanping

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) — China’s economy may expand at the slowest pace in nearly two decades next year as demand for exports slumps in the U.S. and Europe and government spending fails to bridge the gap.

Gross domestic product may advance 7.5 percent or less, the weakest since 1990, according to estimates by Credit Suisse AG, UBS AG and Deutsche Bank AG. Royal Bank of Scotland Plc predicts the economy will grow 8 percent next year, while 5 percent “can’t be ruled out.”

China hasn’t yet ramped up spending on railways, roads, and low-cost housing by enough to stop a slowing economy from cooling more, economists said. At stake is the contribution to global growth — 27 percent last year — that Premier Wen Jiabao says is the nation’s way of helping the world through the financial crisis.

China's Premier Wen Jiabao delivers a speech during the ...
China’s Premier Wen Jiabao delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of Beijing high-level conference on climate change at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing November 7, 2008.REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA)

“The government’s fiscal stimulus plan may not come in time to avert a deeper economic slowdown,” said Ha Jiming, chief economist at China International Capital Corp in Beijing. Growth may be 7.3 percent next year, he said.

Read the rest:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=
20601087&sid=aUzk1Qc1r2aU

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China to Launch Stimulus Package?
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BEIJING (Reuters) – Evidence is mounting that China might launch a massive economic stimulus package in the near future as worries over a sharp slowdown in the world’s fourth-largest economy intensify, officials said on Friday.

From media reports to comments by government economists, speculation is swirling that Beijing would soon work out a comprehensive and aggressive plan soon to boost its sagging economic growth rate.

What lends more ammunition to the speculation is that China Finance Minister Xie Xuren earlier this week left the Asia-Pacific finance ministers’ conference in Peru suddenly before the gathering got underway.

He also canceled his attendance at the G20 meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil, leaving his deputy, Li Yong, to represent the Chinese Finance Ministry.

Official sources said he was summoned back to Beijing by his bosses to discuss important and urgent policies.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081107/bs_nm/us_
financial_china_stimulus_1

What Republicans Must Do To Have Any Chance in Four Years

November 5, 2008

When it comes to fundraising, organization and ground game, we Republicans got whipped.

Now, Republicans may criticize Senator Barack Obama for breaking his promise to accept public funding and play by the established rules, but that doesn’t take us too far. We shouldn’t kid ourselves: Democrats breaking this precedent had nothing to do with their campaign-finance principles, and everything to do with the fact they could afford to. Mr. McCain could never have competed this fall without the federal funds and, in the end, Mr. Obama simply smothered McCain, outspending him in battleground states by three-to-one, with plenty left over to compete in even Republican-leaning areas.

For years, Republicans outworked Democrats at the polls. Democrats would have opulent fund-raisers with celebrities and would bask in the glow of a lapdog media. Republicans would go out on Election Day and beat them on the ground game. Their guys wrote checks; our guys wrote letters to the editor. They knocked our values; we knocked on doors. They spoke for the people; we actually got out and spoke with the people. Conservative organizations outside the official party apparatus understood their role in a large coalition: organize, energize, and mobilize. And then we won.

By Tom Delay
The Washington Times
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Victory is always the hardest thing for a successful political coalition. Economic, social and foreign-policy conservatives unite easily when brought together in opposition to tax-and-spend, pro-abortion, dovish liberals in power. After more than a decade in control of Congress and eight years in the White House, the coalition has worn thin. Conservatives of each of these stripes will always have some complaint to make against the Republican Party. But as odd as it sounds, we need not let our past victories continue to divide us.

Meanwhile, liberals of every sort are in a frenzy to get back into power, and especially to wrest the White House back from President Bush, who liberals have tried to peg as an illegitimate president all along. Democrats have not missed this golden opportunity to unite.

Liberalism’s new and impressive network of organizations — especially fund-raising, grassroots mobilization, and communications — has left in the dust anything conservatives have ever put together. Organizations like America Votes and ACORN are so closely tied to Democrat politics that they might as well be arms of the party apparatus. The George Soros-funded Shadow Party of organizations run by former Clinton administration officials and liberal leaders — the Center for American Progress, the Thunder Road Group, MoveOn.org, Media Matters, etc. — has created a second left-leaning party free from restrictions imposed by official regulations — including McCain-Feingold.

This liberal infrastructure, which now dwarfs conservatism’s in size, scope, and sophistication, will be setting and helping to impose the national agenda for the coming years. The time has come for conservatives to wake up and smell the 21st century.

American politics as we know it ended the day Mr. Obama refused…

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/05/
the-democrats-shadow-party/