JUST IN: #OPEC tentatively agreed an oil output cut on Thursday but was waiting for a commitment from non-OPEC heavyweight Russia before deciding the exact volumes for a production reduction aimed at propping up crude prices, two sources from the group said #AceFinanceDesk reports

#AceFinanceReport – Dec.06: OPINION: The decision by the State of Qatar to leave the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) by January 2019 has raised eyebrows and set off speculation as to the extent of tensions and discord within the 15-member intergovernmental organisation: The dominant analysis centres on Qatar’s spat with Saudi Arabia and the Qataris’ desire to abandon an organisation which many feel is overly influenced by the Saudis…………..Notwithstanding official Qatari denials that their decision to leave OPEC is linked to the Saudi-led embargo, nonetheless the Saudis are likely to interpret the move as a further sign of Qatar’s growing independence in the Arabian Gulf region: Beyond the immediate political effect, Qatar’s decision raises difficult questions about the future of OPEC……………………….There will be fears in Riyadh about a sudden meltdown, especially in light of speculation that Iraq may be the next country to leave the organisation: Scare mongering aside, OPEC is faced with difficult economic and political choices going forward……………………As the economic and political value of oil diminishes in the very long term so does the relevance of an organisation like OPEC……………..In the short to mid-term however, Saudi Arabia’s established behaviour of weaponising oil to advance its foreign policy may no longer be sustainable #AceFinanceDesk reports

Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Qatari Minister of State for Energy Affairs, speaks during a press conference in the capital Doha on December 3, 2018. (Photo ANNE LEVASSEUR/AFP/Getty Images) @MahanAbedin December 6, 2018 at 11:19 am

Minister: Iran will not discuss OPEC quota while under US sanctions

Qatar’s departure from OPEC will not destabilise this well-established inter-governmental organisation. For a start Qatar is a relatively minor oil exporter whose exports in the past couple of years have averaged at around 500,000 barrels per day.

Nor has Qatar ever been a big political player in OPEC with the ability to influence major decisions and strategic policy. In the past 58 years, since OPEC’s foundation in 1960, the big players have been Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and to a lesser extent Venezuela.

Notwithstanding Qatar’s minor role in OPEC, the announced departure is a blow to the organisation at a time of heightened uncertainty. The biggest uncertainty surrounds the extent to which petroleum products will continue to be of high value to global transportation systems.

Whilst past predictions of the depletion of oil reserves have turned out to be vastly exaggerated, nevertheless the basic fact is that as energy demands increase three-fold over the course of this century the quest to find alternatives to fossil fuels will intensify.

One of OPEC’s jobs is to keep fossil fuels, and specifically petroleum, at the top of the energy agenda. Hitherto, it has had a relatively easy ride on this front as there has been little determined and concerted effort to identify alternatives to relatively cheap fossil fuels.

But the balance of power – in respect of fossil fuels and potential alternatives – is shifting and it is doubtful if OPEC has either the innovative attitude, strategic foresight and the underlying institutional coherence to act as a singularly effective lobby for petroleum.

READ: Qatar withdraws from OPEC, ends nearly six decades of membership

The Saudi spoiler

Qatar’s declared reason for leaving the oil producers’ cartel is that it wants to focus more on its gas industry. But Qatar’s Energy Affairs Minister, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, left little to the imagination when he said that: “We are not saying we are going to get out of the oil business but it is controlled by an organisation managed by a country.”

From Riyadh’s point of view, the disrespect implied by this obvious swipe at Saudi dominance is compounded by fears over the future trajectory of Qatar’s energy policy. Whilst Doha has relatively low oil reserves, by contrast it is the world’s biggest exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG).

Doha’s stated aim of focussing more on the LNG sector is bad news for Riyadh inasmuch as it hints at greater alignment with Saudi Arabia’s nemesis Iran. Qatar and Iran jointly own the world’s largest natural gas field in the Arabian Gulf. Known as South Pars to the Iranians and North Dome to the Qataris, the natural gas field is central to both countries’ energy policy.

Furthermore, Qatar’s decision to leave OPEC coincides with tension and uncertainty over Iran’s position within the cartel. Faced with a belligerent US administration whose stated goal is to reduce Iranian oil exports to “zero”, the Islamic Republic is more determined than ever to maintain its position in the international oil markets.

On the eve of the latest OPEC meeting today in Vienna, the Iranian Petroleum Minister, Bijan Zangeneh, has made it clear that Iran will not reduce daily output as long as it labours under US sanctions. This is a barely concealed swipe at Saudi Arabia’s policy of cutting production to boost prices.

The price of oil has dropped by 30 per cent since October and Saudi Arabia appears determined to prevent a further drop even at the risk of offending the Kingdom’s enthusiastic ally Donald Trump who has consistently called for low oil prices.

More broadly, Saudi Arabia’s dominant role within OPEC poses potentially existential issues for the oil producers’ cartel primarily because of Riyadh’s consistent vulnerability to pressure by non-OPEC powers. The Kingdom’s historic manipulation by the US to steer OPEC towards a direction consistent with US interests is well known.

More recently Saudi Arabia has been working with non-OPEC oil producer Russia to determine the strategic direction of the international oil markets independent of OPEC. This underhand behaviour is not only inimical to OPEC’s integrity but calls into question its continued existence.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

Is #OPEC future in jeopardy after Qatar’s withdrawal? #Opinion https://t.co/pPnzdtnAIO December 06, 2018 at 04:00AM

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(WASHINGTON) CBP REPORT: The contract for the first phase of gate construction was awarded on Oct.03: to Gideon Contracting, LLC, from San Antonio, Texas in the amount of $3,731,380 for the seven base gates: The contract includes options for four additional gates valued at $1,985,525. Construction for the first seven gates was scheduled to begin Nov.30: #AceFinanceDesk reports

#AceFinanceReport – Dec.03: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, awarded a contract to construct border wall gates in the U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector, which was funded in CBP’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriation: The contract for the first phase of gate construction was awarded on October 3, 2018 to Gideon Contracting, LLC, from San Antonio, Texas in the amount of $3,731,380 for the seven base gates. The contract includes options for four additional gates valued at $1,985,525. Construction for the first seven gates is scheduled to begin November 30, 2018 #AceFinanceDesk reports

Gate construction includes the installation of 35 automated border wall gates, associated equipment, and site improvements at current openings in the existing pedestrian wall alignment in the USBP RGV Sector: The gates are within the area of responsibility of the Fort Brown, Brownsville, and Harlingen Border Patrol Stations within Cameron County, Texas. The gates will be located off the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) levee at the end of or along existing levee ramps. Once installed, the gates will serve as a persistent impediment to smuggling organisations while still allowing river access for property owners, USBP, other local/state/federal officials, and local emergency responders.

The RGV Sector remains an area of high illegal cross border activity: In FY 2017, USBP apprehended over 137,000 illegal aliens and seized approximately 260,000 pounds of marijuana and approximately 1,192 pounds of cocaine in the RGV Sector.

CBP continues to implement President Trump’s Executive Order 13767 – also known as Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements – and continues to take steps to expeditiously plan, design, and construct a physical wall using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border.

Source: CBP.Gov/ Published: November: 2018:

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(NEW YORK) Is the Federal Reserve considering a pullback in its interest rate hikes? Chairman Jerome Powell ’s recent observations have suggested that while the U.S. economy remains on firm footing it also faces an array of risks, including a slowing global economy and remarks from Fed Officials #AceFinanceDesk reports

#AceFinanceReport – Nov.28: Powell’s comments and similar remarks from other Fed officials have raised hopes in financial markets that the central bank may be close to slowing its rate increases, which have gradually raised borrowing costs for consumers and businesses. Any such slowdown — or pause — in its rate hikes would be welcome news for a stock market that has been battered by fears that the Fed’s continued credit tightening could end the long bull market: On Wednesday, Powell may reveal more about his thinking when he speaks to the Economic Club of New York #AceFinanceDesk reports

In an appearance earlier this month, Powell said he was generally pleased with the state of the economy, citing strong annual economic growth above 3 percent and unemployment at a near five-decade low of 3.7 percent. Those trends, he said, were coinciding with inflation remaining “right on target” at the Fed’s goal of 2 percent annual price increases.

But Powell also noted a number of looming risks, including the slowdown in global growth and the fading economic benefits of the tax cuts and government spending boost that took effect this year as well as the cumulative effect of the Fed’s own rate hikes. Many economists also worry about potential economic damage caused by President Donald Trump’s trade conflicts with China and other nations.

For his part, Trump has sought repeatedly to shift blame for any economic troubles to the Fed and its rate increases. In an interview Tuesday with the Washington Post, the president complained bluntly and at length about Powell, who was Trump’s hand-picked choice to lead the Fed.

“So far, I’m not even a little bit happy with my selection of Jay,” Trump said, using Powell’s nickname. “Not even a little bit. And I’m not blaming anybody, but I’m just telling you I think that the Fed is way off-base with what they’re doing.”

Trump argued that the Fed’s policies were damaging the economy and pointed to the recent stock market declines and General Motors’ announcement Monday that it would cut up to 14,000 workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure.

“I’m doing deals, and I’m not being accommodated by the Fed,” Trump said. “They’re making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.”

After keeping rates at a record low near zero for seven years, the Fed three years ago began gradually raising rates, including three hikes this year. Those increases have raised its benchmark rate to a still-historically-low range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent.

Higher interest rates tend to slow economic growth over time as well as pressure stock prices. For those reasons, this year’s hikes have made the Fed the target of unusual public attacks from Trump — criticism that has accelerated with the past month’s sharp declines in the stock market. Trump has complained that the Fed is threatening to undo the economic stimulus being provided by the tax cuts and that its rate hikes are unnecessary because inflation has remained relatively low.

In its most recent projections, the Fed forecast that it would raise rates in December for the fourth time this year, followed by three more hikes in 2019.

Analysts think a rate hike next month is all but certain, possibly in part because they think the Fed doesn’t want to appear to be bowing to pressure from Trump. But economists say three rate increases for next year are beginning to look less certain.

“When you see that economic growth is decelerating and financial markets are going through significant turbulence not only in the United States but globally, I think a rate pause would be a good idea,” said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at SS Economics.

“I would not be surprised if they go with one more hike in December and then pause indefinitely to see what happens to the economy,” Sohn said.

Other Fed watchers still expect at least one or two rate increases in 2019 before the central bank pauses to observe how the economy is performing.

In a speech Tuesday, Vice Chairman Richard Clarida suggested that the Fed would continue to strive to be “data dependent” by using the latest readings on the economy “with a healthy dose of judgment and humility” to determine its interest-rate policy.

The Associated Press: @APBusiness: Investors will be listening closely to Powell for any clues to Fed’s future rate hikes. @mcrutsinger reports #AceTweetNews https://t.co/TvQBUPke8J

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(WARSAW, Poland.) Ikea is planning to open smaller stores in major cities around the world as part of a broader transformation to adapt to changing consumer habits: Next year smaller stores are also due to open in Paris and Tokyo #AceFinanceDesk reports

#AceFinanceNews – Nov.28: An airport worker drops by Warsaw’s newest Ikea store during her lunch break to finish up plans for a home refurbishment: Around her, people drift in and out of the shop, placing small houseware items in big yellow bags as cafe tables fill up with people just stopping in for lunch #AceFinanceDesk reports

The store is not one of Ikea’s out-of-the-way, maze-like warehouses that require a car to visit, but a shop like any other in a city center shopping mall: The Swedish retailing giant plans to open 30 such smaller stores in major cities around the world as part of a transformation that is costing the company financially but is needed to adapt to changing consumer habits: Compared with just a decade ago, shoppers are more likely to be living in urban areas and not have a car, and often want a nearby location to look at goods like furniture in person before ordering things online.

“I like the idea because you can come any time,” said 29-year-old Angelika Singh, the airport worker, as she finalized an order for a new kitchen. “Mostly when you go to Ikea you need to have a whole day free, or at least half a day free, because it’s far.”

Warsaw’s store is located on two floors covering nearly 5,000 square meters (54,000 square feet), about one-fourth of a traditional big-box store: Shoppers can buy cushions, curtains and other home items. They can design the layout of bedrooms and kitchens at computer stations. But those hoping to buy a bookcase or bed will not find them stocked in a large warehouse, though they can order them at kiosks and have them delivered to their homes………………..As such, it offers a very different shopping experience from the usual visit to one of the large warehouse stores.

Small stores have also opened in major cities like Madrid and London, which has a small new “planning studio” for kitchen and bedroom projects. Next year smaller stores are also due to open in Paris and Tokyo

“Ikea’s been doing pretty much the same for 70 years. It’s been a cash-and-carry company, and it still is for the majority of its sales,” said Andreas Flygare, the project manager for the Warsaw store: Now, he explained, the company must adapt to a consumer environment that has changed dramatically in the last 10 years.

“You have companies like Amazon and Uber that are raising the bar for what is expected. Because if you can have same-day delivery, or an Uber is two minutes away, it influences other companies, like Ikea,” he said in a recent interview in the store’s cafe. “It can be a quite tough environment. Everything is changing so fast.”

The company, whose founder Ingvar Kamprad died in January, has seen business growth slow in recent years: But updating its business model to reinvigorate sales is not coming cheap. On Wednesday, it reported that its operating profit for the full year through August had dropped 26 percent to 2.25 billion euros ($2.55 billion) as it increased spending on the new stores as well as delivery services and its online offerings.

Thomas Slide, senior retail analyst at the market research firm Mintel, described Ikea’s new approach as a rational response to a “global trend towards urban living and a rebirth of the cities.”………………….“While Ikea used to be able to build its big blue warehouses on the edge of towns and cities and expect shoppers to come to them, now it has recognised it needs to be more flexible in its approach and take the Ikea experience to them, through digital channels and smaller stores closer to where people live and work,” Slide said.

Ikea isn’t the first to embrace such an approach: In the U.S., retailer Target has rolled out smaller stores to broaden its reach. French hardware store Leroy Merlin has done the same, as have Kingfisher-owned DIY store B&Q and sofa retailer DFS in Britain………..“While Ikea may not be on the cutting edge of this trend, it’s an important strategy to prepare the business for the future,” Slide said. “The challenge will be adding extra services through additional channels while also maintaining profitability.”

Chen Yu Ting, a 25-year-old from Taiwan who studies medicine in Warsaw, said it used to take him 40 minutes by bus to visit one of the large Ikea stores outside the city: But he is a short walk to the new store, and after an initial trip to buy pillows and bed sheets he now returns often for lunch, which is priced right for his budget……….“It’s more convenient, and now I just come here to eat,” he said………………His only complaint? The store doesn’t stock frozen meatballs.


Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report: The Associated Press.@APBusiness: Ikea is planning to open smaller stores in major cities around the world as part of a broader transformation to adapt to changing consumer habits. #AceTweetNews https://t.co/MtnmaE3SzN Published: November.28: 2018:

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(U.K.) ONS Report: Compared with a year earlier, wages excluding bonuses, rose by 3.2% – the biggest rise since the end of 2008 and up slightly on the previous quarter: However, they warned that real wage growth was below the 2015 level: The unemployment total went up for the first time this year, rising by 21,000 in the same period to 1.38 million #AceNewsDesk reports

#AceNewsReport – Nov.15: Wages rose at the fastest pace in nearly a decade in the three months to September: Compared with a year ago and adjusting for inflation, average weekly earnings increased by 0.9%. That figure excludes bonuses…………”With faster wage growth and more subdued inflation, real earnings have picked up noticeably in the last few months,” ONS senior statistician Matt Hughes said #AceFinanceDesk reports

  • Firms ‘struggling to recruit as overseas staff stay away’ But Samuel Tombs, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, says wages will “struggle” to accelerate much further………………….”Flows of people out of self-employment and into employee roles have remained strong, ensuring that record-high job vacancies don’t lead to spiralling wage growth,” he said.

Wages v inflation graph

The ONS noted that the decline in workers from eastern European countries was “accelerating”, while there had been an “uptick” in British nationals in work.

The unemployment rate went up to 4.1% from 4.0% in the period from July to September…………….Two reasons largely accounted for this – the rising population in the UK and an increase in the number of men out of work………………”Job creation since May has averaged just 2,900 a month. This slowdown in the number of new jobs opening up is likely to feed through into weaker consumer spending in the coming months,” said Mike Jakeman, senior economist at PwC.

Unemployment rate graph

What has happened to the number of EU workers?

Analysis by economics correspondent Andy Verity: You might well have expected it to happen………………The prospect of Brexit and the weak pound seems to have put off some migrants from coming to the UK to work, while others have decided to return to their country of origin. …………………Now we have the strongest evidence so far of that trend – with the number of EU nationals working in the UK falling by 132,000 in the three months from July to September compared with the same period a year before.

While migrant workers coming from the rest of the world grew by 34,000 there is still a net outflow of migrant workers: And it is particularly striking when you focus on the so-called EU 8 – Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia………………..Based on ONS calculations, the number of workers in the UK from those countries (as opposed to more recent joiners such as Bulgaria and Romania) are down 173,000 from the record high of 1.05 million two years ago.

There has been a range of views on the latest wage growth and unemployment figures…………Employment Minister Alok Sharma said that “the benefits of a strong jobs market are paying off”………He added: “With more people now in work then ever before and unemployment almost halving since 2010, we are delivering an economy that gives people the opportunity of a better future.”

However, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady called for a rise in the minimum wage to £10 and added: “Boosting pay packets must be a priority: “Pay is rising at a snail’s pace and wages aren’t expected to return to their pre-crash value for at least another six years.”

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the UK’s impending departure from the European Union had played a part in the rise in the number of people out of work: He said it suggested that “the UK jobs market may be starting to falter under the weight of persistent Brexit uncertainty and chronic skills shortages”.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation highlighted what it said was a record number of job vacancies of 845,000 from August to October – the highest since comparable records began in 2001: Director of policy Tom Hadley said employers were “continuing to experience fundamental challenges in finding the staff and skills that they need”………………These skills shortages would “further intensify over the next few months as EU workers no longer find the UK an attractive place to work”, he added.

Source: Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show. Published: November.14: 2018:

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(HONG KONG) JUST IN: Robyn Denholm, the chief financial officer of Australian telecommunications company Telstra, is replacing Elon Musk as head of Tesla’s board according to a statement #AceFinanceDesk reports

#AceFinanceNews – Nov.08: Tesla has chosen a new leader for its board of directors after Elon Musk was forced to step down: The electric car company said late Wednesday that Musk will be succeeded by Robyn Denholm, the chief financial officer of Australian telecommunications company Telstra: Denholm, who is already a member of Tesla’s (TSLA) board, will begin working at the company full time after her six-month notice period with Telstra is over:To ensure a smooth transition during the remainder of Robyn’s time at Telstra (TLSYY) Elon will be a resource to Robyn and provide any support that she requests in her role as chair,” Tesla said in a statement: Musk agreed to step down as chairman of Tesla and pay a $20 million fine in a deal to settle charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year. He remains CEO of the company he founded #AceFinanceDesk reports

Robyn Denholm has been an independent director at Tesla since 2014.

Tesla also agreed to appoint two new independent directors to its board and establish a committee to oversee Musk’s communications: The settlement was in response to the SEC’s lawsuit against Musk. The regulator claimed Musk misled investors when he tweeted that he had secured funding to take Tesla private at $420 a share, causing the company’s stock to soar. He hadn’t secured the funding, the SEC said.

Under the settlement, Musk can’t seek reelection as chairman for three years, though he is permitted to remain a board member: The appointment of Denholm, an executive with deep experience in corporate finance, comes as Tesla faces intense pressure to fix its balance sheet. Analysts want to see Tesla become consistently profitable, instead of posting sporadic profits every few years.

As head of Tesla’s audit committee since 2014, Denholm has had to deal with Tesla’s rocky finances for years, but as chair of the board, she’ll have more clout………..In a statement, she said she believes in Tesla’s mission and looks forward “to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value.”

Denholm was promoted to chief financial officer at Telstra just last month: She first joined the Australian telecoms company as chief operating officer in January 2017. During her time in that role, she was part of a team that oversaw a dramatic cost cutting program that included shedding 8,000 jobs…………….Prior to Telstra, she served as a non-executive director and member of the finance and audit committee for Swiss conglomerateABB (ABB).She made her mark in Silicon Valley as vice president and chief financial officer with Juniper Networks (JNPR), a networking equipment and software security company, where she worked for nearly a decade. She also previously worked with Sun Microsystems, the computer and software company now owned by Oracle (ORCL) Denholm also has experience in the car industry, having worked as Australia finance manager for Toyota (TM) for seven years.

Source: CNNBusiness.Com/ Published: November.08: Joe Sutton contributed to this report

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(BEIJING) JUST IN: China will give El Salvador $150 million to spur development of social and technological projects, the Salvadoran president said on Wednesday, the latest sign of deepening ties between the countries that has alarmed the United States #AceFinanceDesk reports

#AceFinanceNews – Nov.08: Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren is returning from his first trip to China since the countries established diplomatic ties in August. Speaking on local television, Ceren said he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the visit and agreed to 13 joint projects, without providing details #AceFinanceDesk reports

The donation marks China’s latest gambit to make inroads in Central America, a campaign that has drawn the ire of the United States: Earlier this year, El Salvador cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China, following the Dominican Republic and Panama. The United States promptly recalled its ambassadors in the region.

“This historic meeting between the governments of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of El Salvador has produced excellent results,” Ceren said. “This confirms that the establishment of diplomatic relations with China is my government’s most important decision in foreign policy.”

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the two countries had agreed to a series of cooperation projects, including in infrastructure and education, when the two presidents met in China last week: “The friendly cooperation between China and El Salvador is developing smoothly and rapidly,” Hua told a daily news briefing………………“China is willing to provide what help it can for El Salvador’s economic and social development. The relevant help will be focused on people’s pressing welfare needs in El Salvador,” she added.

The date when the funds will be received has not been set, a spokesman for the Salvadoran government said: China will also donate three thousand tons of rice to support Salvadorans who are reeling from a drought in July and floods in October, Ceren said.

The White House warned in August that China was luring countries with incentives that “facilitate economic dependence and domination, not partnership.”Self-ruled Taiwan has formal relations with a dwindling number of countries, almost all of them small and less developed nations in Central America and the Pacific.

Source: Reuters.Com/ Published: November.08: 2018: Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Writing by Julia Love; Editing by Darren Schuettler

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MARKET: #MidTerms Report: Wall Street rallies with Dow rising over 300-points and by the end of trade in Europe, the FTSE 100 closed up 1.1%, the Dax in Frankfurt climbed 0.8% and the CAC 40 in Paris added 1.24%. #AceFinanceDesk reports

#AceFinanceReport – Nov.07: Editor says here’s what we know of the markets: Wall Street rallied on Wednesday despite the prospect of political gridlock after the midterm elections: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 310.88 points, or 1.22%, to 25,946 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 134 points, or 2%, to 7,510, while the broader S&P 500 index climbed 36 points, or 1.33%, to 2,791.94 #AceFinanceDesk reports

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“Wall Street welcomed the outcome of the midterm elections,” said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets: “Historically, equity markets have performed well out of a divided Congress as traders feel the government finds it difficult to get new laws passed, and therefore not much changes………”The US economy had positive momentum going into the midterms, and that is likely to continue.”………..The election was held against a backdrop of huge volatility during October that saw many top indices enter technical correction territory………….The main worries included the effect of rising US interest rates and the US/China trade war.

There are predictions that now the election is out of the way, stock market values could start to creep back up towards record values again as buying opportunities are sought: “The rise in popularity of the Democrats could be construed as a vote against Trump’s tough trade stance, and perhaps the White House might soften its position regarding China,” Mr Madden said…………….”There is speculation the Democrats are keen to improve infrastructure, and we are seeing a rally in Caterpillar.”………….The technology and healthcare sectors rose more than 1.5% each with the prospect of restrictive legislation fading because of possible gridlock.

“Mr Trump has set his sights on tech giants like Amazon, and the outcome of the midterms might make it more difficult for him to go after tech titans,” Mr Madden said.

Source: Sky News: Dow jumps 300 points as Trump tightens grip on Senate https://t.co/8sATUAzWU1CNNMoney.Com/ Published: November.07:2018:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports & #Brittius says are provided by Sterling Publishing & Media News and all our posts, links can be found at here Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ Ace News Services Posts https://t.me/AceSocialNews_Bot and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com or you can follow our breaking news posts on AceBreakingNews.WordPress.Com or become a member on Telegram https://t.me/acebreakingnews all private chat messaging on here https://t.me/sharingandcaring

(WASHINGTON) Markets: The final major economic report before Tuesday’s congressional elections show ed that U.S. employers added a stellar 250,000 jobs in October and raised average pay by the most in nearly a decade and unemployment at five decade low of 3.7 percent and pay rose fastest since 2009 #AceFinanceDesk reports

#AceFinanceReport – Nov.03: Friday’s employment report from the government pointed to a consistently robust job market that shows no sign of flagging even with the economy in its 10th year of expansion: Many employers have been struggling to find qualified applicants, which helps explain why average pay rose 3.1 percent over the past 12 months — the fastest year-over-year increase since 2009 #AceFinanceDesk reports

Those higher wages may be drawing more people into the labor market. An influx of new job-seekers increased the proportion of Americans with jobs to its highest level since 2009: By some measures, consumers are the most confident they have been in 18 years, and their spending is propelling brisk economic growth. The economic expansion is now the second-longest on record, and October marked the 100th straight month of hiring, a record streak.Strength in their customer demand has been a key factor leading companies to steadily add workers. Though economists have predicted that hiring will eventually slow as the pool of unemployed Americans dwindles, there’s no sign of that happening yet.

Still, the latest month of healthy job growth might not tip many votes in the midterm elections. Polls have suggested that while Americans generally approve of the economy’s performance, that sentiment hasn’t necessarily broadened support for President Donald Trump or for Republican congressional candidates: The strong job growth and bigger pay increases will likely encourage the Federal Reserve to keep raising short-term interest rates. Most analysts expect the Fed to resume its rate hikes in December.Hurricane Michael, which slammed into the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia last month, had no discernible effect on the jobs data, the government said.

Still, October’s outsize gain might have reflected, in part, a rebound from September, when Hurricane Florence depressed job growth.Hiring in October was strong in higher- and middle-income jobs: Professional and business services, which include engineers, architects and accountants, gained 35,000 jobs. Manufacturers added 32,000 after two months of smaller gains, defying fears that Trump’s trade fights would slow hiring in that sector. Construction companies added 30,000 positions……………………..Retailers barely hired, adding just 2,400 positions, possibly reflecting the Sears bankruptcy…………………Restaurants and hotels gained 33,000, most of them lower-paying.In the July-September quarter, consumer spending grew by the most in four years and helped the economy expand at a 3.5 percent annual rate. That growth followed a 4.2 percent annual pace in the April-June quarter……………Combined, the two quarters produced the strongest six-month stretch of growth in four years.

Manufacturing output and hiring remain healthy, according to a survey by a private trade association, although increased tariffs have raised factory costs: By contrast, housing remains a weak spot in the economy, with sales of existing homes having fallen for six straight months as mortgage rates have risen to nearly 5 percent. But slower sales have started to limit home price increases, which had been running at more than twice the pace of wage gains.

There are other signs that pay growth is picking up: A measure of wages and salaries rose 3.1 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the best such showing in a decade, the government said Wednesday……………..Although pay increases can help boost spending and propel the economy’s growth, they can also lead companies to raise prices to cover their higher labor costs………………….That trend, in turn, can accelerate inflation.So far, though, inflation remains in check. The Federal Reserve’s preferred price measure rose 2 percent in September compared with a year earlier, slightly lower

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports & #Brittius says are provided by Sterling Publishing & Media News and all our posts, links can be found at here Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ Ace News Services Posts https://t.me/AceSocialNews_Bot and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com or you can follow our breaking news posts on AceBreakingNews.WordPress.Com or become a member on Telegram https://t.me/acebreakingnews all private chat messaging on here https://t.me/sharingandcaring

FEATURED BLOGGER REPORT: The Parasites of Western Economy, Part 12: Local councilors and their self-granted benefits //AdditionalSurvivalTricks #AceFinanceDesk reports

The Parasites of Western Economy, Part 12: Local councilors and their self-granted benefits.

by tonytran2015 (Melbourne, Australia).

Click here for a full, up to date ORIGINAL ARTICLE and to help fighting the stealing of readers’ traffic.

(Blog No. … ).

The Parasites of Western Economy, Part 12: Local councilors and their self-granted benefits.

#parasite, #local council, #oversea junket, #misspending, #budget over-run,

Advanced Western countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many EU countries) have multilayered governments. Governments at the lowest level in that hierarchy are the Local Governments. They are responsible with all matters not delegated to their higher governments.

Typical local governments (such as in Victoria, Australia) are called the Local Councils, they are responsible for the following matters:
Rubbish removal service, Local roads and parks maintenance, Running primary and secondary schools, library service, local hospitals.
They are expressly excluded in the following matters: Foreign Affairs, Defense, All matters delegated to Federal and State governments.

The systems in other advanced Western countries are similar.

Any government in the World obtains its money from taxes imposed on its citizens. However citizens have the herd mentality and are often unconcerned that their money may be in the wrong hands. This sets the scene for parasites to come in and suck the communal treasury. [1-12]

1. The runaway Local governments.

Local Councils are currently not audited and their spending are open to abuse. The budget of any Council can be easily siphoned by:

1a- Excessive costs of “external consultancy” on projects. Councilor candidates should have declared their expertise on projects promised to constituents before standing as candidates for elected offices and external consultancy should not be but have been used as a shield to hide incompetence of elected representatives. [13-21]

1b- Unnecessary expensive costs granted by Councilors to themselves for oversea “study trips” (Councilors should have learned about the costs of their promises before standing as candidates for election). Councilors love going on oversea study trips. Those oversea study trips if necessary should have been delegated to professional specialist employees of Council. [22-32]

1d- Non-transparent tendering on approved project.

1e- Unacceptable accounting method lumping significant costs under the headings “others” to hide specific spending items from tax payers. (The heading “others” in any accounting report should only be used just to avoid its overcrowding, by reducing any of its long lists of competing significant items to less than 10 items long).

2. Reform to Local Government are needed.

Residents have cried out for reform to local governments. The following points should be addressed by any reform:

2a. Taxes (also called rates) by local government should be based on service provided. Currently the collection of Council taxes (also called rates) is capped by a percentage on the values of property (land and houses).

2b- Councils are responsible for the following core activities:

Rubbish removal service, Local roads and parks maintenance, Primary and secondary schools, library service, local health offices.[33]

2c- Each Local Council must have functioning information office at town hall and website for residents to follow its activities and register their objections to its actions.

2d. Issues affecting residents significantly (including major and costly projects) must be made public for significant time through Council information office and website.

2e- Councilors must vote in public by show of hands in meeting at their respective town halls on issues affecting residents significantly (including major projects) but the latter have to be made public. Such decisions should be made subjected to revocation by more than 50% of voting residents registering objection by internet within 4 weeks. [34]

2f- Councils can only have recurrent budget items covering the salaries and expenses on their core activity categories specified in 2b.

2g- Any intended spending on all other activities must be publicized, discussed and approved in public meetings as specified by 2e.

Study costs, especially oversea trips for Councilors (who should have learned about their policy promises before standing up for election) should be banned as elected office holders should not be able to grant “benefits” to themselves. [35-36]

2h- Project spending should be carried out with transparent public tenders.

2i- Councilor candidates must declare their expertise on projects promised to constituents before standing for elected office and external consultancy costs to Council on those promises must be revealed.

As a consequence, a candidate would have to say:

If elected I will pay $1M dollars to get a consultant to give us the price to build a Taj Mahal for the Town Hall

instead of

If elected I will spend $10M dollars to build a Taj Mahal for the Town Hall.

2j- Records of all previous election promises at all elections of each councilor candidate must be declared.

2k- A higher government (such as State government in Australia) should audit Council Budgets annually. This audit should reveal activities which are inefficient or are outside the authorized responsibilities of Councils.

3. Examples of run-away Councils.

3a- Councils now have little idea on how to do its core business of garbage collection and dealing with recyclable wastes. [37]

3b- A local council spend money to promote LGBT in the referendum. This is a human rights issue which is for the Federal government to solve.[38]

The ratepayers of Moreland will be astonished to learn that the council is considering spending their hard-earned dollars in support of Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot. This is a human rights issue which is for the Federal government to solve.[39]

3c- Council of Marybyrnong keep the expensive practice of replanting kerbside trees every few years near its Footscray Library.

3d- Council of Brimsbank spent large amount of money to erect a temporary luxury huts promoting “green houses” on Hampshire Road in August-September 2018.

3e- Bayside Council runs its own bus services. [40-41]

3f- Councils running City sisterhood with oversea cities.[42]

Fortunately, the NSW government will crack down on council travel junkets. Under the overhaul, councils will have to disclose what is spent on sister city trips

4. Conclusions.

4a- Reforms to Local Governments are urgently needed.

4b- Every citizen has to be vigilant and report to the higher, supervising Government any cheating he can see at Local Government level. Only by doing so he can avoid being turned into a tax-donkey provider for those cheats. Citizenry must also actively participate in politics to prevent corrupt politicians from turning local tax (also called rate) money into honey pots for themselves and Councilor Offices as their incubator. First hand contact with them will show you their unbounded greed and their contempt for tax payers.

References:

[1]. Investigation into the alleged improper conduct of councillors at Brimbank City Council, https://www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au/Publications/Parliamentary-Reports/Investigation-into-the-alleged-improper-conduct-of

[2]. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-02-27/council-sacked-over-cost-blow-out/1055950

[3]. Council spending: Staff wages blow out council spending costs …, Sunday Herald Sun. May 12, 2018 9:00pm, https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/staff-costs-blow-out-by-500m-and-take-bigger-share-of-councils-spending/news-story/911e5c5c1c363fc569b48538deb79cc7

[4]. https://geelongindy.com.au/news/26-10-2018/bureaucratic-cost-blowout-threatens-chilwell-ps-project/

[5]. https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/fremantle/fremantle-artwork-removal-costs-blow-out-tenfold-ng-b88931008z

[6]. https://m.northernstar.com.au/news/sculpture-blowout-to-cost-council/2318559/

[7]. https://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/gold-coast/gold-coast-city-council-coast-blowout-blamed-for-delay-in-nerang-park-light-installation/news-story/f955e31259a126d73b952e4658c49855

[8]. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/north/darebin-council-projects-delayed-with-2m-cost-blowout/news-story/6b48ccde5f0ae2abb93f21c086d1df8f

[9]. https://i.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/104219388/council-tried-to-keep-multimilliondollar-christchurch-town-hall-budget-blowout-quiet

[10]. https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201861321/auckland-council-criticised-from-within-over-budget-blowout

[11]. https://www.zdnet.com/article/brisbane-lord-mayor-blasts-technologyone-for-au60m-contract-blowout/

[11b]. https://www.smh.com.au/technology/brisbane-city-council-it-contract-faces-potential-60-million-blowout-20170125-gtygbh.html

[11c]. https://www.cio.com.au/article/613210/brisbane-city-council-tech-project-faces-possible-60m-blow-out/

[11d]. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/news/what-melbourne-councillors-claim-as-expenses-funded-by-ratepayers/news-story/4c1fc9a3f4611f7d9e969ec0694ae4d6
[12]. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/north-west/maribyrnong-councillor-sarah-carter-spends-100-a-week-on-phone-bill/news-story/e1313c18dc6f1746dd6ec42db658abf7
[13]. https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/government-spending-on-consultants-blows-out-by-250m-auditor-20171222-h09bso.html

[14]. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4874478/cornish-council-75000-poldark-pasties/

[15]. https://www.consultancy.uk/news/13514/st-albans-council-spends-12-million-on-consultants

[16]. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1210682/Haringey-council-spent-24m-consultants-failing-save-Baby-P.html

[17]. https://thestandard.org.nz/auckland-council-it-blowout-guest-post/

[18]. https://i.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/97201238/consultant-costs-drive-34-million-christchurch-city-council-overspend-on-personnel

[19]. https://i.stuff.co.nz/business/104922841/Govt-blames-public-servant-cap-for-blowout-in-consultant-costs-to-550m-a-year

[20]. https://www.news.com.au/national/victoria/8300-research-trip-for-arch-called-the-springvale-asian-gateway/news-story/513d52517dc3ea8a1d734e8e9e553fe5

[21]. https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/melbourne-city-council-budget-2017-spending-rates-bonanza-replacing-roads-with-parks-and-malls-20170504-gvyl0u.html

[22]. https://vexnews.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/no-comment-melbourne-greedy-greens-party-councillor-stonewalls-over-junkets/

[23]. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/ipad/we-pay-for-more-than-1-million-council-junkets/news-story/4cbbaf2652d30269bcc1c2267ec7bfe8

[24]. https://www.bordermail.com.au/story/5234712/mayor-wants-permit-to-fly-on-asia-junket-to-help-create-jobs/

[25]. https://www.theherald.com.au/story/5552345/debate-over-lake-councils-35000-international-study-tour/

[26]. https://www.smh.com.au/national/no-junkets-lord-mayor-packs-his-bags-for-trips-20091102-htgu.html

[27]. https://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/council-should-consider-taking-taxpayers-japan-tri/3148138/

[28]. https://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/council-reveals-destination-fifth-overseas-trip/3175149/

[29]. Council defends overseas ‘junkets’
http://www.pressreader.com/australia/the-chronicle8992/20140212/281908771038726

[30]. https://www.couriermail.com.au/queensland-ratepayers-forking-out-for-councillors-global-junkets/news-story/f4a4782b76dba20228631b433a8b02ea

[31]. VICTORIAN councils are splashing ratepayers’ money on overseas “junkets” instead of focusing on local issues, https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/melbourne-councils-under-fire-for-asia-junket-spending/news-story/bc7ec9b5b63991dc43f1cc09a0bcdd44

[32]. https://fremantlereform.com/council-cof/cost-of-fremantle-mayors-rate-payer-funded-junket-doubles/

[33]. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-19/queensland-council-recycling-dump-to-start-nationwide-reaction/9673370

[34]. https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/melbournes-most-secretive-council-under-fire-20160622-gpp36m.html

[35]. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6172283/Council-Melbourne-staff-spent-330-000-taxpayer-funds-trips-year.html

[36]. https://www.bordermail.com.au/story/5234712/mayor-wants-permit-to-fly-on-asia-junket-to-help-create-jobs/

[37]. https://fremantlereform.com/council-cof/councils-costly-world-tour-for-rubbish-junkets-continues/

[38]. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/north-west/marriage-equality-moreland-council-flies-rainbow-flag/news-story/334d4b8073f79d045a27ace7e93920e0

[39]. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/more-stupid-council-waste/news-story/620156e34af89e0299a6e8675cf35134

[40]. https://www.bayside.vic.gov.au/news/commuter-bus-trial

[41]. https://www.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/why-has-the-government-just-banned-councils-from-running-their-own-buses/

[42]. https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/nsw-councils-to-disclose-full-cost-of-sister-city-trips-in-travel-junket-crackdown/news-story/5e36c4d99a56f89c55d3672c190f7032

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Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports & #Brittius says are provided by Sterling Publishing & Media News and all our posts, links can be found at here Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ Ace News Services Posts https://t.me/AceSocialNews_Bot and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com or you can follow our breaking news posts on AceBreakingNews.WordPress.Com or become a member on Telegram https://t.me/acebreakingnews all private chat messaging on here https://t.me/sharingandcaring