Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jim Rogers: British Pound could collapse within weeks

Jim Rogers: British Pound could collapse within weeks

Jim Rogers, Chairman of Rogers Holdings, has once again made a bold prediction and that is the British Pound could quite possibly collapse within the coming weeks.

Jim Rogers, co-founder of the Quantum Fund and founder of the Rogers Commodities Index, was quoted in a recent press release that the United Kingdom Pound is on the brink of utter collapse, which could happen within the coming weeks and there is nothing governments can do about it.

Rogers, making statements prior to delivering a keynote speech at next month's Global Trading Day seminar in Westminster, believes the collapse of the Pound could foreshadow a global economic disintegration before the end of the year. The last few months of increases in the markets have been a "false bounce" and occurred due to government interference in the market and throwing everything at it except for the kitchen sink.


Head of IMF Proposes New Reserve Currency

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund, suggested Friday the organization might one day be called on to provide countries with a global reserve currency that would serve as an alternative to the U.S. dollar.

"That day has not yet come, but I think it is intellectually healthy to explore these kinds of ideas now," he said in a speech on the future mandate of the 186-nation Washington-based lending organization.

Strauss-Kahn said such an asset could be similar to but distinctly different from the IMF's special drawing rights, or SDRs, the accounting unit that countries use to hold funds within the IMF. It is based on a basket of major currencies.

He said having other alternatives to the dollar "would limit the extent to which the international monetary system as a whole depends on the policies and conditions of a single, albeit dominant, country."

Strauss-Kahn, a former finance minister of France, said that during the recent global financial crisis, the dollar "played its role as a safe haven" asset, and the current international monetary system demonstrated resilience.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lamebook and the dumbing down of the next generation
If you want a glimpse into the decadence and immorality of the next generation of Americans, look no further than

This particular site, which gets 12 million hits a day, allows users to post their most "humorous" conversations from the social networking giant  Needless to say, humor is in the eye of the beholder.  While perusing this website, I didn't find much to laugh about. But I can almost see the smug smile on a social engineer's face.  
The silent weapons used for dumbing down America are now humming along at full tilt.  Education, feminism, and the mass media were designed to integrate America into the fast emerging global state.  Facebook and Lamebook are an interactive extension of that most ruthless of weapons, television. 

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Automated Trader Updates

MTF's and Exchanges are much in evidence this week as Atrium Network and BATS announced Multicast PITCH data feed, Fixnetix offered direct market data feed and trading access to Burgundy, and Turquoise and EuroCCP introduced trading and clearing services for Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

In Japan QUICK and FXall launched QUICKFX, a new FX Trading Platform, ACTIV Financial exposed technology behind TSE Arrowhead, whilst in Europe Euroclear is to reduce its trade netting tariff from1st March, a move welcomed by the LSE which estimated a £10m saving as a result.

ICAP selected Tervela's TMX for ICAP Electronic Broking, Hibernia Atlantic's GFN platform became part of Switch and Data's GeoReach Program and CFN Services announced the completion of metro Toronto, NY/NJ and London execution venue connectivity.

Interactive Data expanded its ultra-low latency trading network Interactive Data 7ticks to the East Coast, The Goldman Sachs Group made a minority investment in Tora Holdings, and Fidelity brought us news of an iPhone App for brokers. Integral announced FX Inside Alpha, its on demand solution, whilst Progress and SRL teamed up to produce 'Broker in a box' and 'Hedge fund in a box', click here for more details on these.

Surprise news this week as Hirander Misra resigned from Chi-X, however recruitment was also very much to the fore as Knight Capital Group hired a new sales and trading team, Citi India expanded its sales and equities team with over 25 new appointments, and in Australia Instinet announced additions to its new Sydney office.

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Goldman Sachs, Greece Didn’t Disclose Swap Contract

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. managed $15 billion of bond sales for Greece after arranging a currency swap that allowed the government to hide the extent of its deficit.

No mention was made of the swap in sales documents for the securities in at least six of the 10 sales the bank arranged for Greece since the transaction, according to a review of the prospectuses by Bloomberg. The New York-based firm helped Greece raise $1 billion of off-balance-sheet funding in 2002 through the swap, which European Union regulators said they knew nothing about until recent days.

FTC New Regulations for Online Marketing, Testimonials, Affiliates, disclosures…

The revised Guides provide directions for applying the Guides in the context of social media such as blogging and twittering. The FTC states that the revised Guides apply to blogging and the use of other forms of social media in advertising (e.g., micro-blogging, buzz, viral and word-of-mouth marketing). The revised Guides provide new direction as to how the requirement for disclosure of "material connections" will apply in the social media context. In fact, the FTC's commentary expressly notes that bloggers may be subject to different (and presumably heightened) disclosure requirements than reviewers in traditional media. Further, the revised Guides make no per se distinction between monetary compensation versus in-kind compensation (e.g., product giveaways) paid to the blogger, nor is there a per se distinction between professional versus amateur bloggers. The FTC's commentary emphasizes that advertisers using such forms of social media should establish procedures to advise endorsers to make the necessary disclosures of their material connections to the advertiser, and monitor their endorser's conduct.

Using testimonials from customers and others can be a very effective way to promote your business. After all, everybody expects you will say great things about yourself in your advertising. But an unsolicited rave review from a satisfied customer or industry leader? Solid gold. Still, there are rules. Let's take these three items one at a time.

Letters from customers: Customers who are delighted at getting superior service often write thank-you letters, but that doesn't mean they are authorizing you to use those letters in your promotional efforts. Unless the letters state specifically that it's OK to use them in your marketing literature, I would write or e-mail them and ask for specific written permission to reproduce all or parts of the letter on your Web site. If they don't respond to your request for permission, I would view that as denying you the right to post the letters online.

In addition, the DMA is now considering changes to its guidelines for advance consent marketing, in light of a Senate inquiry that raised concerns about how best to obtain adequate and informed consent from consumers for post-transaction/negative option programs online.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Greenspan: worst crisis ever

The following experts have said that the economic crisis could be worse than the Great Depression:

'Buy farmland and gold,' advises Dr Doom

'Buy farmland and gold,' advises Dr Doom

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hedgies invade Malta waterfront

HERE'S a new one for the hedgie lexicon: Valletta. The capital of Malta is not yet on a par with Mayfair or Geneva but it is fast becoming a second home for many of London's hedge funds.

Confused? Let me explain. The country offers all the perks of being offshore — low taxes and a favourable regulatory regime — but it's part of the European Union, which makes investors comfortable about handing over huge wads of cash. The operating costs are also seriously low. "Running an office there costs half as much as the rest of Europe — it's a poor man's Geneva," said one manager.

I'm told that the hedgies are colonising the waterfront offices in Valletta and the pretty resort town of Saint Julians — they always get the best bits. About 20 London-based firms set up an office there last year, including the £1 billion oil traders Bluegold, Pamplona Capital and Liongate. So, what do you do in Malta? A country that seems to be famous for two things: its honey (special because it hosts a unique species of bee) and because the artist Caravaggio spent 15 months there. "It's good for boating and fishing," said my local spy this weekend. "The weather is nice, it's not snowing here." There you have it: move to Malta because . . . it's not snowing.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

South Carolina Lawmaker Seeks to Ban Federal Currency South Carolina Rep. Mike Pitts has introduced legislation that would mandate that gold and silver coins replace federal currency as legal tender in his state.

As the Palmetto Scoop first reported, Pitts, a Republican, introduced legislation this month banning "the unconstitutional substitution of Federal Reserve Notes for silver and gold coin" in South Carolina.

In an interview, Pitts told Hotsheet that he believes that "if the federal government continues to spend money at the rate it's spending money, and if it continues to print money at the rate it's printing money, our economic system is going to collapse."

"The Germans felt their system wouldn't collapse, but it took a wheelbarrow of money to buy a loaf of bread in the 1930s," he said. "The Soviet Union didn't think their system would collapse, but it did. Ours is capable of collapsing also."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Toyota accused of racketeering Toyota has been hit with a racketeering suit, alleging the car manufacturer participated in an ongoing fraud involving recent claims of stuck gas pedals.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Toyota abandons “The Toyota Way” Toyota (TM) has now recalled about 9 million vehicles and counting, including the latest recall involving 8,000 2010 Toyota Tacomas to inspect their front drive-shaft which could contain a cracked part that could get even worse when customers drive the truck. When joined with the sudden acceleration problems and flawed breaking systems of various other Toyota models, it seems likely that Toyota has lost its way. The reason? Toyota abandoned the Toyota Way in its quest for growth.

The Toyota Way was a management method in which newly hired Toyota engineers would work closely for 10 years with experienced masters who taught the newbies how to make the trade-offs between the pressure to lower costs and the need to maintain high quality, according to the Washington Post. The Toyota Way enabled Toyota to produce high quality vehicles less expensively and charge a price premium, about which I wrote, since they lasted longer and cost less to maintain.

That strategy contributed heavily to Toyota's growth over many decades because that reputation for top quality attracted more satisfied customers who recommended Toyota to others. But all that changed in the early 2000s. As I posted, in 2002 Toyota saw a chance to overtake General Motors as the world's largest vehicle manufacturer which set Toyota on a too-rapid growth path -- it produced 60% more vehicles in 2008 than in 2000 -- that stressed the Toyota Way to its breaking point.

While all the details have yet to be unearthed, a general picture of what went wrong is emerging. The biggest problem is that as Toyota grew, it was unable to produce enough engineering mentors to train for 10 years the new engineers that it was hiring to design the new models needed to meet its corporate growth targets. The new engineers made bad design choices which lowered cost and quality -- under the Toyota Way, remember, engineers had been able to cut costs while maintaining or boosting quality.

There were other problems as well -- from Toyota's decision-making style to ignoring customer complaints -- that allowed these bad design decisions to persist. For example, although most of Toyota's sales came from North America, all corporate decisions were made in Japan -- where Toyota executives lacked in-depth insights into the conditions in the U.S. market.

And as the Washington Post reported, Toyota's executives outlined specific process problems that contributed to the nine million vehicle recall:

  • Toyota did not thoroughly test new cars under a variety of road conditions -- instead relying on computer models which missed problems such as Prius brakes not working well on wet road surfaces;
  • Toyota did not gather customer complaint data from U.S. customers to identify problems and redesign its products and processes; and
  • Toyota did not share data about sticking gas pedals in European vehicles with managers in the U.S.

So now that all this information is out, does this mean that Toyota stock -- now trading 43% below its December 2006 all-time high of $134 -- is a screaming buy? At a Price/Earnings to Growth (PEG) ratio of 2.1 -- on a forward P/E of 25.2 and average annual earnings growth of 12% for the next five years -- the stock is not cheap.

And since I believe it will take another year for Toyota to find all the problems and discover the underlying causes of all of them, I am not expecting Toyota to be able to redesign its management methods and fix all the problems it discovers for another three to five years.

Until then, its earnings growth forecasts are suspect and I would not be shocked to see more big recalls which could further sink its stock price.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The government has received new complaints that bring to 34 the total number of alleged deaths in Toyota vehicles due to sudden acceleration since 2000, according to government data posted Monday.

The government has received complaints during the past three weeks alleging 13 deaths. The deaths allegedly tied to this problem happened in nine crashes between 2005 and 2010.

From 2000 to 2009, complaints alleging 21 deaths in Toyota vehicles had been filed with the government.

RIP: the innocent age of motoring|+Economy+|+English&expire=&urlID=420788557&fb=Y& A still image from Toyota's commercial addressing Recalls in the US

Japanese automaker Toyota has announced yet another recall. This time it is Tacoma pickup trucks sold in the United Sates. The announcement is the latest in a string of recalls that have hurt the company's image, and prompted concern among many in Japan.

The Toyota brand is an icon in Japan. Its global success is a source of national pride. So when the automaker announced plans to stop selling millions of its cars in the United States and Europe last month because of gas pedal defects, the Japanese were concerned. When the company expanded its recalls to Japan, the public reacted with disbelief.

Toyota was founded in the early 1930s but the its real success came after World War II when it developed something called "The Toyota Production System." The system focused on "kaizen" or continuous improvements. It called for flexibility on assembly lines, and mandated that problems be fixed as soon as they were discovered so mistakes would not be repeated.

Quality and reliability became Toyota's selling point. But with defective brakes, sticky gas pedals, and loose floor mats prompting recalls of Toyota cars worldwide, that reputation is falling fast.

Jeff Kingston teaches modern Japanese history at the Temple University branch in Tokyo. He says the company has lost its way.

 "I think they've grown complacent, resting on their laurels," he noted.  "I think their management system is antiquated. We've seen how slow decision making can be."

Kingston says the company waited too long to respond to the problems. It took weeks for Toyota President Akio Toyoda to speak publicly about the recalls. When he did hold a news conference, he apologized for "inconveniencing the customers." He also has vowed to "redouble the company's commitment to quality."

Kingston says that apology was not enough.

"Toyota has failed to measure up to international standards; it's also failed to measure up to Japanese expectations," he added.

Toyota's problems come amid a growing number of complaints, accidents, recalls and financial problems for several leading Japanese companies. The spike in complaints is partly the result of a new law that requires Japanese companies to report serious product-related accidents.

Government reports also say the number of domestic car recalls doubled between 2004 and 2008, compared with the previous five years. Last week, Honda recalled more than 400,000 cars worldwide because of defective air bags.

Waseda University Finance Professor Yukio Noguchi says Toyota's problems are a sign of arrogance, after years of global success. But he says it is unfair to compare its problems with those of other Japanese companies.

"This problem is a very special problem and you cannot draw general conclusions from this about Japanese manufacturers as a whole," he explained.

Toyota is trying to restore its image with a massive public relations campaign. The company has placed full-page ads in newspapers and is airing TV commercials in the U.S., vowing to put quality and customers first.

But Kingston says Toyota must go further than that. He says the company must become more transparent and accountable, and reconnect with customers.

"Look at [South] 5-Korean companies," added Kingston.  "Look at how they're charging ahead. Look at how they've got that competitive edge. Japan needs to regain that."

With increasing competition from South Korea, Kingston says Toyota and other Japanese companies must change fast.

Toyota Brings Perfection To Corporate Meltdown


Guess Who's The Test Dummy Now?

Edwards Deming would be so proud. The man who endowed the Japanese with a passion for quality after the Second World War might appreciate the level of perfection his protege Toyota now brings to the fine art of corporate self-destruction. At every step of the way Toyota has outperformed all competitors. They have made the Ford Firestone tire recall catastrophe look like a mere firecracker in the plumbing. Even Enron, in the rearview mirror, looks like a mild case of the flu.

Read more:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chinese military recommends selling us bonds BEIJING (Reuters) - Senior Chinese military officers have proposed that their country boost defense spending, adjust PLA deployments, and possibly sell some U.S. bonds to punish Washington for its latest round of arms sales to Taiwan.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Toyota mishandles recall

Toyota Recall sticking pedal It is no secret that Toyota has encountered massive media attention over the past few weeks with the release of a temporary suspension to a line of their selected vehicles due to a "sticking accelerator pedal" recall. The announcement, on January 21, 2010, launched a mission by the Toyota Motor Corporation to cease manufacturing and suspend sales pending further investigation and remedy to the problem. With daily updates and continuing press releases flying through the airwaves, Toyota Motor Corp. is making an amazing effort to provide assistance, updates and information to the consumer on this pedal flaw.

Toyota’s Digital Disaster

Toyota's Digital Disaster

In the Google era, how do you manage a product recall and a public-relations fiasco? Don't do what Toyota's done.