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Personal Finance Blog For The Laymen

General Finance

Robot market growth slows as trade war hits industrial spending: robot industry chief

TOKYO (Reuters) – An escalating trade war between the United States and China has dampened manufacturers’ appetite for investment in equipment, causing growth in the industrial robot market to slow, the chief of the global robot industry group said.

Many global manufacturers “are now in a wait-and-see mode, wondering whether to shift production (away from China) to, let’s say, Vietnam or the United States,” said Junji Tsuda, chief of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), in an interview on Thursday.

IFR, which brings together nearly 60 global robot suppliers and integrators, predicts worldwide industrial robot sales this year to grow 10 percent compared to last year’s 30 percent jump.

China is the world’s largest robots market with a 36 percent global share, with its sales volume exceeding the total of Europe and the Americas combined.

Tsuda, also the chairman of Japan’s Yaskawa Electric Corp, said the manufacturers would move out of the wait-and-see mode by the end of this year.

It will take a while for the direction of the trade war to be clear, Tsuda said. “But global demand for smartphones, semiconductors and autos have been solid, and the time will eventually come that they can wait no longer and will resume investment to meet the demand.”

Yaskawa, one of the world’s top robot manufacturers, last week cut its annual operating profit forecast to 59 billion yen ($524.40 million) from 65.5 billion yen, citing a slowdown in smartphone-related demand in China and growing caution over the trade dispute.

From next year onwards, however, IFR expects the robot market growth to pick up again, forecasting an average 14 percent increase per year through 2021.

($1 = 112.5100 yen)

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

General Finance

Insurers call for delay in prising open ‘black box’ accounts

LONDON (Reuters) – Insurers from across the world have called for amendments and a two-year delay to a change in accounting rules aimed at increasing visibility of how they earn their money.

Nine national and regional insurance industry bodies from Europe, Canada, Korea, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa want the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to amend and delay its “IFRS 17” book-keeping rule by two years to January 2023.

Twenty years in the making, the rule seeks to make it easier for investors to compare how much insurers earn from policies by prising open a “black box” of opaque national practices. IASB rules are used in over 100 countries, though the United States has its own accounting standards.

The industry bodies said in a letter to the IASB that preparatory work has confirmed that a number of important issues need to be resolved to make the new rule practical.

“As a result, we strongly believe a two-year delay in the effective date of the standard is required,” the letter to IASB chair Hans Hoogervorst said.

“There is no expectation that a delay will result in insurers stopping or slowing their implementation project.”

The CFO Forum of chief financial officers from major European insurers like Allianz, Aviva, Generali and Axa has said the new rule leads to inconsistent reporting, and requirements that are unnecessarily complex.

Implementation costs range from 50 million euros to 320 million euros per CFO Forum member, it said, with ongoing operational costs expected to be significantly greater than for applying existing insurance book-keeping rules.

The IASB board will discuss staff reports about a potential delay and amendments next week, but no decision is expected at that time.

“In determining what amendments, if any, to make to IFRS 17, the board will need to balance the potential benefit of any amendments against the effect of an undue delay to a standard that is needed to address many inadequacies in the existing wide range of insurance accounting practices,” an IASB staff paper for the meeting said.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Jan Harvey

General Finance

Kangaroo attacks couple in northeastern Australia, injures woman

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian wildlife carers Jim and Linda Smith are lucky to be alive, an ambulance official said, after they were attacked by a kangaroo in northeastern Queensland state.

The Smiths were feeding wild kangaroos on their property in the Darling Downs when a grey kangaroo buck struck out at Jim Smith, knocking him to the ground.

The kangaroo attacked his wife, Linda, when she ran to help him, leaving her with a collapsed lung, broken ribs, cuts and scratches.

“It’s scary, it knocked me over once or twice and once they grab you, you can see what they do”, Jim said, showing his injuries.

It was only when their son came out and hit the kangaroo with a piece of wood that the marsupial stopped the attack and returned to nearby bushland, Australian media reported.

Linda Smith was taken to Toowoomba Hospital, where she underwent surgery, media reports said.

“If the kangaroo was able to continue to inflict further injury, her life was, yes, in danger,” Queensland Ambulance Service’s senior operations supervisor Stephen Johns said.

Australia has roughly 45 million kangaroos and it is not unusual for them to come into conflict with people as housing has expanded to areas where the marsupials live.

They are even more likely to be driven into populated areas in search of food and water in drought-stricken areas.

Reporting by Stefica Nicol Bikes; Writing by Karishma Singh

General Finance

Selling Or Buying A Home? You’ll Know What Comps Are Soon.

It’s all about Location, Location, Location they say in real estate, but to a buyer or a seller it may be Price, Price, Price.  You may be buying your first starter home or selling the family home to move into retirement in Florida either way you’ll need to know “How much is it actually worth?”  In real estate lingo “Comps” is a second word that comes with little ambiguity, but to the laymen that same word could leave you wondering.  Comparables are reports on similar houses in the area and how much they went for when they were recently sold.  These reports give insight into the value of the home you wish to sell or buy and allow you to determine if it is really a dream home or it is actually a home you can afford.

Sites like Zillow.com attempt to determine a comparable price for a home through open records and information about a home provided over the years in these open records. Ask any realtor and they’ll tell you they hate Zillow.  Not because it takes their clients, the site doesn’t facilitate home sales but due to the inaccuracies made when determining a home’s value without firsthand knowledge of the area or the home.

Real estate agents usually determine these with local knowledge and understanding of the area.  These are performed though after a home buyer or seller has contacted a real estate agent.  Sometimes you’d just like to know without beginning a search with someone who’s commission based.  The perceived pressure that comes with a real estate agent may make Zillow more attractive than an accurate price or at least get you by until you absolutely have to contact an agent.

Other sites are now offering a blended opportunity that borrows the best of both previous options and provide accurate real estate comps but free of the pressure of working with an agent.  RealEstateCompsToday.com is one of these services that offers national coverage but contracts with local agents to provide investors, sellers and buyers with the best possible comparable home price reports.

Too often in life we see black and white or right and wrong and forget that life choices don’t have to be bilateral.  More often a third method is available that includes the best of both original options and today it seems there is a third option in real estate comps.  Consider this next time you search for comps in my area.

General Finance

Purrfect job; Russian town hires cat chief to attend to strays

MOSCOW (Reuters) – It was an unusual job advert. Wanted: Cat chief. Location: Zelenogradsk, Russia: Duties: Tending to the town’s approximately 70 stray cats.

Some 80 applicants applied for the new role with the municipality in the small town in the Kaliningrad region, which has also erected a cat statue and added a feline to its emblem in a bid to rebrand itself as Russia’s foremost cat-loving community.

In the end, local resident Svetlana Logunova was appointed guardian of the town’s felines. To help her with the task, she was given a bicycle and uniform, including a bright green jacket, black bow tie and hat.

She has been given a budget of 5,700 roubles ($85) a month to ensure all the seaside community’s cats are happy, dishing out food, strokes and free rides in the basket on her bike.

“I alone cannot care for every single one and a helping hand would go a long way,” Logunova said.

($1 = 66.1257 roubles)

Editing by Patrick Johnston

General Finance

Europe’s sprawling new financial law enters into force

A disaster-free launch of MiFID 2 is not the end of the worries

AFTER years of rule-drafting, industry lobbying and plenty of last-minute wrangling, Europe’s massive new financial regulation, MiFID 2, was rolled out on January 3rd. Firms had spent months dreading (in some cases) or eagerly awaiting (in others) the “day of the MiFID” when the law’s new reporting requirements would enter into force. One electronic-trading platform, Tradeweb, even gave its clients a “MiFID clock” to count down to it.

Apprehension was understandable. The new EU law, the second iteration of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (its full, unwieldy name), affects markets in everything from shares to bonds to derivatives. It seeks to open up opaque markets by forcing brokers and trading venues to report prices publicly, in close to real time for those assets deemed liquid. It also requires them to report to regulators up to 65 separate data points on every trade, with the aim of avoiding market abuse.

Title: Europe’s sprawling new financial law enters into force
Publication: The Economist
Publisher: The Economist Group Limited
Date: Dec 31, 1969
© The Economist Group Limited, London 1969
General Finance

Pearl Harbor Fees and Reservations

Admission to the USS Arizona Memorial is free. There is no entrance or activity fee, nor is there a fee for the visitor’s center or the museum. Complimentary tickets for the timed programs to the memorial are given on a first-come, first-served basis at the front desk of the visitor center. These tickets are non-reservable, so visitors are advised to try for tickets early in the day. Queues are often fully formed by 8 am, and during the busy summer months, tickets oftentimes run out by noon.  Visit a tour operator such as Pearl Harbor Tours to arrange reserved tickets through them for the memorial.

Once visitors receive their tickets, they will be assigned a program time. The Navy shuttle boat that take visitors out to the Arizona Memorial accommodate around 100 people, so guests should expect some delays.

In addition to the free tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial, visitors may also wish to purchase passes to visit the America-the-Beautiful–National Parks and Recreational Lands. These passes are available at the Honolulu Regional Office, as well as at most National Park sites and allow visitors access to all federal land management areas. For more information on the land passes, visitors can visit:  http://www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm

General Finance

Financial Channel Created

Our distribution and syndication of site news is increasing to now include a financial feed. This feed at https://www.matt2.info/category/financial/feed will be a collective of news articles provided by a custom Google feed at https://www.google.com/alerts/feeds/08199508906193694917/13173428272531262996

General Finance

Disaster and Financial Planning Guide

Disasters often strike quickly and without warning. Whether it is a weather emergency, natural disaster or personal crisis due to illness, unemployment or disability, most families will experience some form of disaster that leaves them with little or no time to think before making important decisions.

This guide can help you make informed, thoughtful decisions about your family’s present and future financial activities.

Click here to download the guide.pdf

General Finance

How to Navigate Volatile Markets

So far this year, the U.S. stock market has been a financial roller coaster. It has not been unusual to see the Dow swing in both directions by hundreds of points.

The risk associated with an investment opportunity is crucial to understand the difference between investing and speculating. Investing is usually considered lower-risk and longer-term focused, whereas speculation is high-risk and short-term focused. An investor’s understanding of their own risk tolerance, the potential amount of money they can endure losing, is essential when building a balanced portfolio. The time over which an investment is expected to be held before it is liquidated (time horizon), your net worth, income and the ease in which an investment can be bought and sold (liquidity) all impact risk tolerance.
In addition to knowing your own risk tolerance, investing involves carefully researching business fundamentals such as quarterly financial earnings, profit margins and market positioning to make sure the opportunity fits your portfolio. 

Before you invest your hard-earned money, it’s important you take control of your financial future and do some research. While no one can say with certainty whether an investment will go up in value, taking the time to evaluate past performance can give some insight into future possibility. A well-researched and diversified portfolio that matches your risk tolerance can give you the confidence you need to stay focused on long-term strategy and protect from temptation to sell during short-term price swings. 
Check out this AICPA survey for more info. 

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