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August 28, 2014

GM to move Cadillac SRX production to Tenn.

Filed under: loans, management — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 7:52 am

SPRING HILL, Tenn. (AP) — General Motors is moving production of the next-generation Cadillac SRX crossover SUV from Mexico to a factory in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

The company also announced Wednesday that it will add production of some small gasoline engines to the Spring Hill complex.

The additions will bring more jobs to Spring Hill, but a spokesman wouldn’t give specifics on how many would be added to the sprawling former Saturn facility about 40 miles south of Nashville.

All GM said in a statement is that the SRX and a yet-to-be identified second midsize vehicle would “create or retain” about 1,800 jobs, while a $185 million investment in the Spring Hill engine factory would keep 390 jobs.

The complex now employs just over 2,300 workers, including hourly and salaried employees and those who work for parts supply companies.

Last year GM announced plans to invest $350 million in the Tennessee assembly plant to build two future midsize vehicles. The plant already builds several small gasoline engines plus the Chevrolet Equinox midsize SUV.

GM also announced Wednesday that it would invest just under $50 million at its Bedford, Indiana, engine block casting plant, keeping 45 jobs.

The company was holding a news conference at the Spring Hill factory on Wednesday to formally make the announcements.

The Cadillac SRX now is built at a GM factory in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico. That plant also builds the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact car and Chevy Captiva small SUV.

The United Auto Workers union, which represents Spring Hill factory employees, touted Wednesday’s news as an example of how the union and company can work together.

“Today’s announcement is proof we can achieve great things when workers have a seat at the table and the chance to share their ideas,” union Vice President Cindy Estrada said in a statement.

Republican politicians like U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam have been vocal opponents of the UAW gaining representation at a Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga. Workers voted against the union earlier this year. But the UAW has said it expects VW to recognize the union without another vote when it gets enough workers to sign membership cards.

GM hasn’t identified the other new vehicle to be built at Spring Hill. But the state of Tennessee said in a July 11 news release that a nearby company was expanding to make parts for new GMC and Cadillac vehicles at the Spring Hill factory.

The new GMC likely would be produced on the same underpinnings as the Cadillac SUV, which likely will be redesigned for the 2016 model year.

It’s possible that Chevy Equinox production at Spring Hill could go away in favor of the two new vehicles. The Equinox and sister vehicle, the GMC Terrain, already are assembled at two Canadian factories.

Crossover SUVs are in one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. auto market, appealing to young people and downsizing baby boomers. Sales of the midsize crossovers are up 14 percent so far this year, according to Autodata Corp., while overall U.S. auto sales are up 5 percent.

Crossovers are built on car underpinnings so they maneuver like a car and get comparable gas mileage. Drivers like the visibility of the high seating position and versatile cargo space.


August 20, 2014

Japan Defense Shares Beats National Benchmark as Abe Beefs Up Military: Chart - Bloomberg

Filed under: business, technology — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 4:48 am

Defense-related shares in Japan beat the national benchmark and U.S. peers since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power and embarked on a policy to strengthen the military and lower barriers to arms exports.

The CHART OF THE DAY tracks defense gauges for Japanese, American and European equities and counterpart geographic benchmarks normalized from Dec. 14, 2012, just before Abe led an election victory, through Aug. 18. Goldman Sachs

August 16, 2014

Blue Jays may look back at Seattle series as moment it all went south: Griffin

Filed under: marketing, news — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 10:44 pm

CHICAGO—The just-concluded three-game series in Seattle was always going to be huge for the Blue Jays.

You could see its importance come into focus at the beginning of August when the Mariners began to heat up and the Jays started cooling off.

Series success would nicely set up the rest of this road trip, even the rest of the season.

Failure? Well, now we’re going to find out.

The Jays lost the middle game of the set to right-hander Chris Young on Tuesday. That one game, in hindsight, may be looked upon as the turning point in what is looking more and more like a slow, painful drop to .500 or below.

Young was the one Seattle pitcher the Jays had to beat before taking their chances with Hisashi Iwakuma. Instead, the journeyman beat them with an 85 m.p.h. letter-high fastball. He has been doing it all season in posting a solid record of 11-6 with a 3.20 ERA. The Jays started J.A. Happ against Young, and it was exactly the type of matchup they needed to win in order to be contenders.

But the Jays offered little resistance until it was too little, too late.

The complexion of Toronto’s season now changes.

Losing to Felix Hernandez and Iwakuma would have been acceptable if combined with a win over Young. Losing two of three would have left the Jays just one game behind the M’s in the wild-card chase and a couple behind the Tigers. That would have left them in position to compete, especially with Edwin Encarnacion set to return on Friday.

But now it’s all about mathematical hope and putting together a long win streak in the face of starting pitching matchups that rarely seem to favour the Jays. There are no signs of anything good about to happen, unless Encarnacion comes back and carries the offence for 40 games.

Is it a coincidence the Jays’ dismal streak started on the day after the Aug. 1 trade deadline, after GM Alex Anthopoulos failed to pull the trigger on any deal, except for acquiring utility infielder Danny Valencia two days earlier?

The Jays were talking bravely about the return of Brett Lawrie, Adam Lind and Encarnacion being their equivalent moves to a big deadline deal. Lawrie’s return to action lasted all of three innings, and more air was sucked out of the clubhouse.

The Mariners picked up Austin Jackson and added Kendrys Morales. The Tigers got David Price. The Orioles added lefty Andrew Miller to an already solid bullpen. The Yankees picked up Stephen Drew, Chase Headley, Brandon McCarthy and Martin Prado. The Royals made a strong August addition in Josh Willingham. The A’s have Jon Lester.

The Blue Jays? The clubhouse simply received excuses and assurances the money was there but no move seemed a good fit. Whoosh! More air sucked out of the room.

The Jays are 3-9 since the trade deadline and have lost four of their last five series heading in to play the nothing-to-lose White Sox. The raw numbers tell a daunting tale for the Jays.

They have 40 games remaining. To win 95 games, which would seem to be a lock for at least a wild-card and maybe the division, the Jays must go 32-8. To win 90, which would put them in the hunt all the way through the final month, they must win 27 of the next 40. To equal Tim Johnson’s 16-year-old high of 88 wins set in 1998, manager John Gibbons and his troops need to go 25-15.

Even to the most optimistic Jays fans, this would seem to be the best they could hope for.

Simply put, 10 games above .500 over the next 40 games is a tall order for a team that has been 10 games below .500 since maxing out at plus-14 and leading the AL East by six games. Where are the positive signs? Someone needs to step up on both the pitching and hitting sides of the equation.

On June 1, when Mark Buehrle was 10-1, there was a thought that when the Jays visited Chicago he might be vying for career win No. 200. He needed 16 wins at the start of the season. Now, 76 days later, Buehrle will be facing his old team attempting to win his 12th game of the season, trying to regain the precision of his pitches and the good luck that made him an early Cy Young favourite.

The fact of the matter is, in the next 40 games, it’s Buehrle and R.A. Dickey that really need to step it up. Dickey went down 2-0 in the first inning Wednesday in Seattle but did not allow another run through six. The bottom line, though, is they lost and trailed the entire game. There are no consolation prizes in October.

Marcus Stroman is the Jays’ best starter right now, but does that make him an ace? No. Good teams look at the pitching matchups and there is no Blue Jays starter anyone fears.

Stroman is not going to get any better and more competitive than he is now. The four guys that need to step up if the Jays are going to put on any kind of a late-season run are Buehrle and Dickey on the pitching staff and Encarnacion and Jose Bautista on offence.


August 15, 2014

U.S. fund says no deal to end Argentina default

Filed under: economics, online — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 8:24 am

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina • Negotiations have apparently ended without success on a private-sector deal to end the legal battle that forced Argentina into default last month for the second time in 13 years.

Aurelius Capital Management LP said it had been in talks with private parties to sell its Argentine bonds at the heart of the dispute, but the offered payments were not even “remotely acceptable,” to the U.S.-based investment fund.

“That engagement has convinced us that there is no realistic prospect of a private solution,” Aurelius said in a statement issued late Wednesday that did not disclose the details of the proposals, nor the participants.

Argentina was forced into a default July 30 by its decade-long legal battle with Aurelius and other U.S. investors who refused to accept lower payments for bonds that the South American country defaulted on in 2001.

The investors obtained a U.S. court order, upheld by the Supreme Court, preventing Argentina from making a $539 million interest payment on July 30, triggering a second default by the country high risk personal loans. Analysts have warned that the default could derail an already weak Argentine economy.

Argentina has said it cannot pay the approximately $1.5 billion sought by the holdout investors without offering the same terms to investors who previously accepted lower payments, at least not until next year when a clause requiring equal treatment expires. The Argentine government says it is not really in default, since it made the interest payment but the bank was prevented from distributing the money.

Argentine media have reported that local and multi-national banks have been in negotiations to buy the debt from the holdouts but none of the alleged participants have confirmed the talks or been willing to publicly discuss the details. Aurelius said that the entities making the proposals “were not prepared to fund more than a small part, if any, of the payments they wanted us to accept.”


August 2, 2014

How the Dow Jones average fared Friday

Filed under: legal, money — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 8:32 am

U.S. stocks declined for a second day Friday, with the S&P 500 closing out its worst week in two years. Investors found little reason to move money into a stock market, with growing geopolitical concerns in Israel and Ukraine and concerns about U.S. corporate earnings, particularly in the energy sector.

On Friday:

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 69.93 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 16,493.37.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 5.52 points, or 0.3 percent, at 1,925.15.

The Nasdaq composite fell 17.13 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,352.64.

For the week:

The Dow lost 467.20 points, or 2.8 percent.

The S&P 500 fell 53.19 points, or 2.7 percent.

The Nasdaq lost 96.92 points, 2.2 percent.

For the year:

The Dow is down 83.29 points, or 0.5 percent.

The S&P 500 index is up 76.79 points, or 4.2 percent.

The Nasdaq is up 176.05 points, or 4.2 percent.


July 31, 2014

Russia ordered to pay another $2.5 bln for Yukos

Filed under: online, uk — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 5:48 pm

PARIS (AP) — The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay out nearly 1.9 billion euros ($2.5 billion) to shareholders of Yukos, the oil producer that the government had dismantled over a decade ago.

Thursday’s ruling said Russia must produce a plan to distribute the funds within six months. The court said a further 300,000 euros in costs and expenses is also to be paid out.

The decision follows one earlier this week by an international court ordering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government to pay $50 billion to the former majority shareholder in Yukos fast cash without a hassle. Thursday’s ruling covers shareholders who were not party to that claim.

Yukos had been owned by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an opponent of Putin who’d begun using his wealth to fund opposition parties. Khodorkovsky was arrested.


July 30, 2014

Pound Bulls Beat Retreat With Economic Gains Tapped - Bloomberg

Filed under: money, term — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 2:52 am

The shine is starting to come off the U.K. pound, which has given up its reign as the most popular bullish bet for 2014 among the Group of 10 currencies.

Hedge funds and other large speculators cut their net wagers on a sterling advance by 28,915 contracts in the three weeks ending July 25, the biggest reduction in a year, data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in Washington show. The currency slipped to $1.6944 yesterday in New York from an almost six-year high of $1.7192 July 15 amid speculation much of the good news on Britain

July 28, 2014

Young man

Filed under: Uncategorized, legal — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 11:56 am

It was to be a journey of self-discovery, a four-month cycling trip through rural America with pit stops in the country’s musical heartlands.

So on May 15, Toronto’s Iain Gerrard packed a patch kit, campfire grill and other bits and bobs and left his home on the South Kingsway on his 18-speed Brodie racing bike.

For Gerrard, it was to be a trip to help him decide what he’d do with his life. Would the 23-year-old with the shock of brown hair and grey eyes pursue a career in music? He had a reputation for pulsing DJ mixes that would enliven home parties and raves.

Or would he pursue a career in journalism after years of walking the streets of his west-end Swansea neighbourhood, peppering neighbours with questions and sharing oddball quotes from Mark Twain, his favourite writer.

For Gerrard, like so many youth today, there was a frustrating uncertainty when it came to thinking about his future. He had a diploma in audio engineering from a local Toronto school, but he still lacked a decisive direction.

So after several years spent washing dishes in a Toronto restaurant and working in a local juice factory, with cash squirrelled away for the odd motel and shower and bike repair, Gerrard — 6-foot-3 and rail-thin — charted his route. He planned stops in Detroit, the home of Motown; St. Louis, a blues hotbed and the former gateway to the U.S. Midwest; and Memphis, where the likes of Elvis Presley got his start.

Other layovers were scheduled for New Orleans and Nashville, cities steeped in the roots of rock ’n’ roll, gospel and soul, before returning to Canada, hopefully with a clear-eyed vision of his future and a better understanding of a polarized country where, in cities such as Memphis, the battle flag of the Tennessee Confederate army is still hoisted in a public park.

“It’s not all about the music, the south also has an incredible history,” Gerrard wrote on a journal entry on his blog, Round Trip. “Since its (sic) been colonized by the Spanish, French, and the British all those each left a little bit behind resulting in a diverse culture that is rich in all measurable ways.”

What better way to travel through America, Gerrard figured, than through small towns and hamlets on a bike, digesting the sights and smells of a road less travelled.

Iain first found his way into my own home as a six-year-old scamp, picking up small five-pound weights and trying to impress his friends with feats of strength. More than a decade later, I was on assignment in Afghanistan, feeling alone, wondering whether the stories I was reporting were worth the risks of the job, when word came from Toronto.

An avid news reader, Iain had been smitten by a story I filed about an upstart school in Kabul that was teaching kids how to skateboard. He sent a message through family that he’d loved the story and was desperate for more information about the school.

The spirits of a supposedly seasoned foreign correspondent were lifted by an 18-year-old teenager.

Gerrard’s father William said it’s no surprise that his son would take off on such a cycling trip by himself.

“Iain was always challenging himself to face his fears,” he said.

Last year, during a family vacation to a cabin in rural Quebec, Iain told his parents he wanted to spend the night by himself on an island across the lake from his family, despite the presence of bear, moose and wolves.

“He had his guitar and sang as loud as he could to keep the animals away,” William said. “He did it, and went to sleep for a bit. He only came back across the lake to the cabin when he woke up with a bullfrog sitting on his face.”

Perhaps the first lesson Gerrard learned this spring after crossing the U.S. border in Detroit was that while the U.S. might be the battleground for venomous political debate, it’s still a place where a visitor can find kindness from strangers.

He knocked on the door of a home on the shore of Lake Erie, asking if he could pitch his tent on the property.

“The family said, ‘Absolutely not, come inside and stay with us,’ ” Jean Gerrard, Iain’s mother, said Thursday morning in her backyard. “Iain stayed there for three days, the second day the family gave him their Jet Ski to go out and have fun on the lake. He was the kind of guy who really clicked with people he made a connection with.”

After Detroit and St. Louis, Gerrard navigated his way to Memphis, visiting Elvis’s grave and the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down. He stopped in a music store to buy a cheap ukulele.

“He was writing a song a day on the trip,” William said. “He was saying he wanted an instrument to start putting his lyrics to music so he got that guitar.”

On a quiet stretch of highway outside Memphis, headed south to the Louisiana border with the ukulele strapped to his rucksack, Gerrard’s journey was cut short. He died instantly on July 14 when he was hit by a transport truck.

A night before his death, Gerrard wrote his final song, “Kentucky Rain.”

Rain keeps on blowing, Mississippi River keeps on flowing, and I just keep on travelling by and by

Storm clouds filled with thunder, but they won’t get me under, Ill just sit here and pray for clearer skies

I can’t stand the pain, when I’m dreaming of Tennessee sunshine but I’m stuck with Kentucky rain.

Pain it tests me, my woman left me, cried so hard now my eyes are empty, so I hit the road and headed for the coast.

I didn’t leave too much behind, just a couple of friends, an empty bottle of wine, maybe we’ll meet again someday.

For his grieving family and others in Swansea, the past week has been spent remembering Gerrard, whose love for composing original electronic dance music, writing, and mornings spent fly fishing may only have been eclipsed by his attachment to Glasgow’s famous Celtic soccer team.

At visitations on Tuesday and his funeral the following day, Gerrard was remembered by friends and family as a youth who never stopped asking the fundamental question of journalism: Why?


July 22, 2014

CitiMortgage seeks $4.5 million in lawsuit against Chicago bankers

Filed under: Canada, mortgage — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 12:36 am

CitiMortgage is suing two Chicago bankers, Steve and John Calk, alleging a mortgage bank the brothers operated that dissolved in 2012 contained inaccuracies in residential loan underwriting documents.

CitiMortgage, which is based in O’Fallon, Mo., is seeking more than $4.5 million in damages in the breach of contract lawsuit filed in federal court in St. Louis Monday.  

Since 2004, CitiMortgage purchased 4,790 loans from Chicago Bancorp, once one of the largest privately held retail mortgage banks in the country, according to court documents. 

Steve Calk was president and co-owner of Chicago Bancorp, and John Calk was vice president and co-owner before Chicago Bancorp dissolved in late 2012. Steve Calk now is founder, chairman and CEO of The Federal Savings Bank in Chicago, which also is named a defendant in the lawsuit, and John Calk is vice chairman. 

Eighteen loans Chicago Bancorp sold CitiMortgage over the last decade contained inaccurate information or material misrepresentations that included misrepresenting a borrower’s income, employment or debt, according to the lawsuit. In one loan Chicago Bancorp sold CitiMortgage, the lawsuit alleges a borrower provided a false Social Security number belonging to another individual. “Chicago Bancorp sold (CitiMortgage) at least 18 loans … that were underwritten and/or originated based upon materially inaccurate information or on material misrepresentations,” CitiMortage’s lawsuit alleges. 

CitiMortgage alleges its contract with Chicago Bancorp required Chicago Bancorp to repurchase loans that CitiMortgage deemed did not meet the requirements set out in the contract instant payday loans. After Chicago Bancorp dissolved, CitiMortgage alleges that The Federal Savings Bank continued Chicago Bancorp’s business of originating mortgage loans with Chicago Bancorp’s employees, and Chicago Bancorp’s assets were transferred to The Federal Savings Bank and its holding company, National Bancorp Holdings. 

“Chicago Bancorp and the other defendants made the transfer of Chicago Bancorp’s assets with the actual intent to hinder, delay and prevent (CitiMortgage) from collecting amounts due to it in payment of repurchase claims against Chicago Bancorp,” CitiMortgage alleges in the lawsuit. 

A CitiMortgage spokesman and an attorney representing the Calks, The Federal Savings Bank and National Bancorp both declined to comment on the lawsuit. 

The new lawsuit isn’t the first time the parties have litigated over home loans. CitiMortgage sued Chicago Bancorp, the Calks, The Federal Savings Bank, and National Bancorp Holdings in February 2012 in federal court in St. Louis alleging 11 loans contained inaccuracies, and CitiMortgage sought more than $2 million in damages in that case. In a summary judgment this year, Judge Catherine Perry approved CitiMortgage’s motion for summary judgment in its favor on 9 of the 11 loans in dispute. 



July 17, 2014

300 vials labeled influenza, dengue found at lab

Filed under: Canada, finance — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 3:36 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The same federal scientist who uncovered forgotten vials of smallpox earlier this month also found over 300 undocumented vials at the same lab, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

FDA officials say the vials list the names of other contagious viruses and bacteria, including dengue, influenza and rickettsia. Previously the government only announced it had recovered six glass vials of smallpox dating from the 1950s.

The freeze-dried smallpox samples were found in a building at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, that has been used by the Food and Drug Administration since 1972.

The find was disturbing because for decades after smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, world health authorities said the only known samples left were safely stored in super-secure laboratories in Atlanta and in Russia.


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