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first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L Over 5000 rugby fans will travel to Auckland on cruise ships during the semi-finals and finals of the Rugby World Cup 2011, Tourism Auckland said on Friday.Tourism Auckland said three cruise ships will be based on Auckland’s waterfront during the business-end of the Tournament, providing accommodation to nearly 5500 rugby fans.It will include the Rhapsody of the Seas at Princes Wharf, the MS Volendam at Wynyard Wharf and the Pacific Dawn at Queen’s Wharf.“The cruise ships will complement the broad range of accommodation that will cater for the huge influx of visitors to Auckland for RWC 2011″ said Tourism Auckland Chief Executive, Graeme Osborne.“They will provide an important boost to our accommodation capacity during the two busiest weekends of the Tournament” “Of course having cruise ships berthed in the heart of the CBD will also add hugely to the buzz and vibrancy in Auckland during the event.” The tourism body said RWC 2011 cruise ship packages were already on sale as part of the Tournament’s official travel and hospitality programme and were proving popular with couples and families.“We’ll be working alongside the Official Travel Agents to encourage these visitors to enjoy the Rugby as well as the diverse activities and experiences that Auckland has to offer” <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P. In an attempt to prevent the grounding of flights during volcanic eruptions new technology has been developed to make it possible for pilots to detect and navigate around ash clouds.The Airborne Volcanic Object Imaging Detector (AVOID) was revealed in a test flight over Mt.Etna in Sicily, and has been given the approval by low-cost airline EasyJet, The Australian reported.AVOID designed by British scientist Dr Fred Prata uses heat detecting cameras, satellite data and atmospheric modeling to warn pilots about ash clouds ahead and directs pilots away from them.Since the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano over a year ago the aviation industry has been searching for ways it could avoid the effects of ash clouds which resulted in around 100,000 flights being cancelled, costing the industry AUD1.7 billion in revenue.Dr Pratas said AVOID could be the answer for commercial airlines to safely navigate around the ash clouds and through bad weather conditions.EasyJet’s Head of Engineering Ian Davies has welcomed the technology saying that the trails have been successful to date and plan to install the equipment on its entire fleet in 2012.”Safety is at the heart of the aviation industry which is why we saw the blanket shutdowns in reaction to volcanic ash over the past two years,” Mr Davies said.”In the absence of proven technology, thousands of flights were grounded. This should not happen again, thanks to both satellite and airborne technology which can be used to accurately predict not only the dispersal of ash from volcanic eruption but also crucially the levels of concentration.” The effects of Eyjafjallajokull volcano resulted in thousands of cancelled flights and millions stranded.last_img read more

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Canadians willing to drive one hour out of Montreal to fly out of US airports. Canadian airport fees may as well be ‘sin’ taxes, according to Air Canada’s chief, who says additional costs are driving more Canadians to use US border airports.Speaking at the Metropolitan Montreal Board of Trade, Air Canada chief executive Calin Rovinescu explained fees and taxes are making Canada uncompetitive and encouraging more travellers to drive one hour out of Montreal to fly out of Plattsburgh NY, Calgary Herald reported.”Airport improvement fees, airport rent, security surcharges, navigation fees and the list goes on, all serve to make airline tickets in Canada more expensive,” he explained.According to the Airport Council of Canada, the drop in passengers has costed airports up to $1.1 billion in gross domestic product in 2010 and resulted in 9,000 job losses. Touching on Boeing’s recent Dreamliner issues, Mr Rovinescu said he was confident the manufacturer would resolve battery problems quickly and assured Air Canada would still take delivery of its first 787 in 2014.Late last year, Air Canada unveiled livery for its low-cost subsidiary, Air Canada Rouge, which is expected to commence operations in July this year. Click here for more information. last_img read more

first_imgLow-cost carrier Scoot has invigorated travel between Singapore and Australia and plans to boost services upon delivery of new aircraft at the end of 2014.Sydney Airport statistics showed Scoot passengers were spending about AU$2500 each while in Australia and contributing almost AU$160 million to the NSW economy, The Australian reported.“In the 12 months before we started flying, the arrivals from Singapore into Sydney were pretty flat, they were about 0.4 percent down year-on-year,” Scoot chief executive Campbell Wilson said. “In the six months since we started flying, so July through December 2012, they increased by 32 percent.”A good proportion of these new travellers were young people.“It was perceived to be too far and too expensive but now with the lower price point they’ll go for four days or they’ll go for a friend’s honeymoon or wedding or stag-do or something,” Mr Wilson said.Scoot currently services the Singapore-Sydney and Singapore-Coolangatta route with Boeing 777’s but eventually plan to explore other Australian cities once the airline begins receiving new aircraft.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T. Scoot strengthens link between Singapore and Australia.last_img read more

Costa Concordia salvage continues

first_imgWhile a final decision will be made in March, a British seaport has been revealed as the front-runner to dismantle the hulking ocean-craft, expected to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds. The disastrous incident, which claimed the lives of 32 passengers, left the capsized vessel stranded where it struck the rocky coastline and sank, the Daily Mail reported. Source = ETB News: P.T. Two years after the infamous Costa Concordia wrecked off the coast of Italy’s Giglio island, an extensive operation to lift, tow away and dismantle the rusting cruise liner has been announced. The 114,500-tonne Costa Concordia was sank on 13 January 2012 when Captain Francesco Schettino allegedly sailed the ship too fast and too close to shore in an attempt to ‘salute’ local residents. Officials have now confirmed that the enormous ship will undergo a ‘parbuckling salvage’ operation in June, in an attempt to raise the hulking mass from its shallow grave and tow it away. Twelve different companies have been invited to bid for the eventual disassembling, scrapping and recycling contract, including ports in China, France, Italy, Turkey and the United Kingdom.last_img read more

Excite Holidays receives ATAS accreditation

first_imgExcite Holidays announced its accreditation to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS).Chief executive officer George Papaioannou said the online travel wholesaler is delighted to be part of this scheme from the AFTA and that Excite Holidays did comply with strict criteria in terms of business results, training and ethics.“As part of the rigorous accreditation process, Excite Holidays has been evaluated by ATAS’ quality assessment criteria on key areas including business disciplines, solvency, training and compliance,” George Papaioannou said.“We believe ATAS is playing a vital role in endorsing the quality and reliability of travel wholesalers, and its efforts will help build and sustain consumer confidence in the travel industry,”“Excite Holidays is now proud to display the ATAS logo as a mark of our company’s professionalism and our commitment to travel agents.”AFTA general manager accreditation welcomed Excite Holidays to ATAS and said, “Excite Holidays can now point to ATAS accreditation as a valuable recognition of the quality and credibility of its brand.”Source = ETB News: Jessica Handysidelast_img read more

Stellar lineup of spring events in Auckland

first_imgStellar line-up of spring events in AucklandIt’s shaping up to be a memorable spring for Auckland with a stellar line-up of large and small, international and local events on offer.Over the next few months the region will play host to a vast array of events including the critically acclaimed musical Cats, ITM 500 Auckland V8 Supercars, the Auckland Diwali Festival, Taste of Auckland, Fleetwood Mac, KISS, Ed Sheeran and Robbie Williams to name just a few.Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) General Manager Destination and Marketing Vivien Bridgwater says, “with such an impressive line-up there’s no excuse to not visit Auckland this spring.“Auckland is a vibrant and exciting region jam-packed with great experiences. Whether you’re kayaking on the harbour, watching a hit musical at The Civic, celebrating Indian culture at Diwali, or walking in the Waitakere Ranges, the show never stops in Auckland,” she says.To make the most of the busy calendar of events ATEED has kicked off a domestic marketing campaign under the ‘AKL: The Show Never Stops’ banner.The campaign will run in Northland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty, as well as in the fly markets of Wellington and Christchurch encouraging people to visit Auckland for some of the events and spend time exploring what else the region has to offer.Ms Bridgwater says there’s also some fantastic prizes up for grabs as part of the campaign to entice domestic visitors to visit Auckland including double-passes to events and a major prize which includes double passes to four events of the winner’s choice.“The AKL: Show Never Stops – Stellar Spring Line-up campaign is part of the work being done to grow the visitor economy in line with the targets in the 10-year Auckland Visitor Plan. ATEED – on behalf of Auckland Council – aims to grow the visitor economy to $7.23 billion by 2021,” she says.“Domestic tourism currently injects more than $2.5 billion to the local economy and Auckland continues to attract the highest numbers of domestic visitors than anywhere else in the country.”Source = Auckland Tourismlast_img read more

Daydream Island commences construction ahead of August 2018 reopening

first_imgAlfresco BarDaydream Island commences construction ahead of August 2018 reopeningDaydream Island in the Whitsundays has commenced its demolition and construction program ahead of its long-awaited redevelopment expected to be completed in August 2018.Following the damage caused in March by Cyclone Debbie, Daydream Island has invested $86 million in the redevelopment of the island.On Monday 27 December, construction officially began with Architecture firm, Hunt Design, leading the redesign of the island’s resort accommodation and venues.Daydream Island General Manager Dawson Tang said Daydream will bring a boost for the regions employment and jobs sector.“Once Daydream Island has reopened, there will be at least 270 job opportunities creating a huge boost for the region.”Daydream’s Director of Sales and Marketing Jayson Heron said that bookings are now open for stays from September 2018 onwards.“We are very pleased to be able to reopen bookings for the resort,” Mr Heron said.“The interest level is high and we look forward to unveiling final details of the redevelopment in the near future.“We’re proud to once again become a premier Queensland destination of choice for not only holiday makers but also for weddings and conferences.”Daydream is opening up a sales and marketing office located at Chatswood in Sydney.Enquiries for Daydream Island Resort and Spa bookings can be made on the toll free number 1800 075 040.Major works already announced will include redevelopment of the Arrivals pavilion, Reception, main Atrium area, Waterfalls restaurant, Lagoons bar, all room types and Mermaids Restaurant. Additionally, the Lovers Cove function area will be expanded and a new Asian-inspired restaurant will be built.The resort’s conference facilities will also be significantly revamped and expanded.Source = Daydream Islandlast_img read more

Classic Holidays celebrates 40 years of holiday memories in 2018

first_imgClassic Holidays celebrates 40 years of holiday memories in 2018Classic Holidays celebrates 40 years of holiday memories in 2018Australasia’s largest Resort, Club and Member Management company, Classic Holidays, is celebrating 40 years of holiday memories in 2018.Established in 1978, the holiday company was founded by the Tawaf family and remains a family-owned business after four decades.CEO Ramy Filo said Classic Holidays has remained at the forefront of the timeshare industry by understanding and listening to the needs of their customers. “We’re the only home-grown timeshare company servicing Australian and New Zealand members and we understand what local families want out of their holidays,” he said.“That’s extremely important to us. It’s why we’ve grown to have the largest membership base of any timeshare company operating here in the region and why we continue to develop our Club to meet the needs of our member families, now and into the future.“Seeing our members making new holiday memories every time they get away for a well-deserved holiday is what keeps our service-oriented culture thriving.”Moving into 2018 with a record number of members and resorts under management, the company’s focus remains on delivering value to the holiday market.“The leisure market has evolved enormously over the past 40 years and we’ve maintained our position of providing the very best value. Being a timeshare owner no longer means being restricted to one resort for one week of holidays each year.”Classic Holidays has led the industry through innovation, developing a flexible suite of products to suit today’s traveller that ultimately provide the best value for our members’ holiday needs.“Our Points and Escapes membership programs are some of the most innovative membership models the timeshare industry has ever seen, and we continue to develop our membership benefits to deliver more value to our members wherever they choose to travel.”The company is also a leading resort manager, continuously awarded Best Management Company in the global timeshare industry’s annual Perspective Magazine Awards.“We take a lot of pride in our role as resort managers,” said Mr Filo. “The leisure industry can be tough, but we maintain our integrity through compliance, resort operations and the standards we set for all our resorts under management.“This is extremely important for our members as well – they know they can consistently trust the Classic Holidays brand wherever and whenever they stay in one of our resorts.”Classic Holidays now operates across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with more than 30 properties and 65,000 members under management.Throughout their 40th year, Classic Holidays will be inviting members to share their fondest holiday memories, to be displayed through a special 40 Year landing page and across their social media channels.Classic Holidays resorts will also join in the fun, digging back into the archives to show how far they have come, including the Club’s original resorts, Cedar Lake in the Gold Coast Hinterland and Beach House Seaside Resort in Coolangatta.Source = Classic Holidayslast_img read more

United Airlines takes home CIO 100 Award

first_imgUnited Airlines takes home CIO 100 AwardIDG’s CIO announced United Airlines as a recipient of a 2019 CIO 100 award for its innovative volunteer solicitation program. United is the first airline to implement a fully automated tool that enables customers to volunteer their seat, confirm a new flight itinerary and receive compensation without additional steps at the gate which also helps make boarding more streamlined and less stressful for customers and employees alike.With this tool, available during check-in at, the mobile app, and at kiosks at the airport, customers can elect from options including free schedule changes or bid to exchange a confirmed seat, all at the time of check-in. This is the airline’s third consecutive year receiving this award, recognizing United as exemplifying the highest level of operational and strategic excellence in information technology (IT).“Our journey in putting the customer at the center of everything we do is about identifying and solving issues with the travel experience, and that is exactly what this program does,” said Linda Jojo, executive vice president of technology and chief digital officer at United Airlines. “We saw an opportunity to not only remove the stress by preventing potential overbooked flights before they occur, but to also offer an opportunity for customers. This is the latest step in our plan to provide our customers with industry-leading transparency and control.”“Across the business landscape, companies everywhere recognize the vital role that an innovative, value-driven approach to information technology plays in their success,” said Maryfran Johnson, IDG’s Executive Director of CIO Programs. “This year’s CIO 100 winning companies are inspiring examples of how IT leadership, business collaboration and digital transformation will drive future growth.”This recognition of United’s investment in cutting-edge technologies follows the airline’s recent honor from the “People’s Voice” Webby Award in the “Business and Finance” category for the reimagined United app. United’s app was also a nominee in the “Best Practices” category. Over the past few years, United has invested heavily in mobility and technology, empowering a large percentage of their workforce and enabling them to better perform their duties on the move while providing customers best-in-class technology to improve the travel experience.United will be recognized at The CIO 100 Symposium & Awards Ceremony, to be held Wednesday evening, Aug. 21, at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado.Every customer. Every flight. Every day.In 2019, United is focusing more than ever on its commitment to its customers, looking at every aspect of its business to ensure that the carrier keeps customers’ best interests at the heart of its service. In addition to today’s announcement, United recently announced that luxury skincare line Sunday Riley will make products exclusively for United customers to experience in amenity kits, released a re-imagined version of the most downloaded app in the airline industry and made DIRECTV free for every passenger on 211 aircraft, offering more than 100 channels on seat back monitors on more than 30,000 seats.About UnitedUnited’s shared purpose is “Connecting People. Uniting the World.” We are more focused than ever on our commitment to customers through a series of innovations and improvements designed to help build a great experience: Every customer. Every flight. Every day. Together, United Airlines and United Express operate approximately 4,900 flights a day to 355 airports across five continents. In 2018, United and United Express operated more than 1.7 million flights carrying more than 158 million customers. United is proud to have the world’s most comprehensive route network, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. United operates 779 mainline aircraft and the airline’s United Express carriers operate 569 regional aircraft. United is a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides service to 193 countries via 28 member airlines. For more information, visit, follow @United on Twitter and Instagram or connect on Facebook. The common stock of United’s parent, United Continental Holdings, Inc., is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol “UAL”.Source = United Airlineslast_img read more

Cabo Pulmo worlds most successful marine reserve

first_imgMexico’s Cabo Pulmo, with more than 200 species of fish and nearly 7,000 hectares of protected bay, has become a model for marine conservation.Source: BBClast_img

Barcelona Is tourism flooding it

first_imgThe cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region is always flooded with tourists. Millions come to the city known for charm and authenticity, however, locals say they are drowning.Source: BBClast_img

Assam Tourism encourages filmmakers to shoot in the region

first_imgThe Assam Tourism Development Corporation Limited (ATDC) has assisted three movies to be filmed in various parts of the state and is now encouraging filmmakers from outside the region to visit and shoot in Assam. The ATDC is also considering of establishing a film city in Dima Hasao district to help the filmmakers. “We are assisting filmmakers to shoot in Assam. We have provided them with vehicles and other facilities along with location know-how (local guides) to ease their shooting experience. We have two small caravans for 25 to 30 people which are available free of cost. Also, they can stay at any hotel in Guwahati. We have 10 air-conditioned rooms,” said Kausar Jamil Hilaly, Managing Director, ATDC. “There was a proposal from the autonomous council for a film-city. It’s a huge investment but we will have to bring the people first and then we can think of the infrastructure,” added Hilaly. Representatives from ATDC participated in Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival to promote Assam as a favourable film tourism destination. Shillong’s fame, Ronnie Lahiri who has produced films like Pink, Piku, Madras Café highlighted that spreading awareness is most significant in attracting filmmakers from Mumbai, Delhi and other cities.last_img read more

Mauritius organised roadshows across five Indian cities to attract Indian tourists to

first_imgMauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) conducted roadshows in Chandigarh, Pune, Nagpur, Hyderabad and Kolkata as part of its efforts to create destination awareness. A total of 20 Mauritian partners like DMCs, hotels, airlines and attractions were part of the roadshow.When asked about connectivity issues from India to Mauritius, Arvind Bundhun, Director, MTPA while talking to the media from Mauritius, expressed that in order to attract a large number of tourists from any country, air connectivity is a must and from India, there is only one carrier that flies directly to Mauritius. This needs to increase considering the growth from the Indian market. “There is scope for one more airline to fly to Mauritius directly from India very soon considering the growth in Indians travelling to the island,” he said.Arvind informed that Air Mauritius, the carrier operating five times a week from Mumbai, two times from Delhi and once a week each from Bengaluru and Chennai plans to add more flights to cater to the increasing capacity. “We can see the growing interest in the aviation sector and are willing to support any Indian carrier willing to fly to Mauritius,” he added.Speaking exclusively with Travel News Digest, Vijaye Haulder, Deputy Director, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority said, “India is very important for us because of the cultural links. India is the seventh source market for us after France, UK, Germany, South Africa and Reunion Island. Every year we receive 8-10 big Indian weddings, so Mauritius is fast becoming a wedding destination for not only India but all over the world. We are now promoting golf as well. We have 10 golf courses spread across Mauritius and we also have a big tournament coming up in Mauritius. We are here to create awareness and remind travellers about Mauritius. We come to India every year and hold roadshows twice a year in different cities. We are expecting to reach 100,000 visitors in Mauritius by 2020.”Vivek Anand, Country Manager, MTPA said that the roadshows are the most efficient and cost-effective way to meet a large number of quality agents. It is a must for educators wanting to connect, build and maintain long-term partnerships. He added that Mauritius has received footfalls of more than 85,000 visitors from India last year. India is one of the most crucial and promising tourism markets for Mauritius. In 2019, we will continue showcasing ‘Mauritius Beyond the Beach’. This will be done through an advertising campaign.Sanjay Sondhi, MD, OM Tourism mentioned that the overwhelming response of the Indian travel agents, media and wedding planners in these five cities proves the success of our endeavour.last_img read more

FirstQuarter GDP Growth Scaled Back

first_imgFirst-Quarter GDP Growth Scaled Back June 26, 2013 428 Views Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bureau of Economic Analysis Consumer spending Investment Investors Lenders & Servicers Mark Lieberman Residential Construction Service Providers 2013-06-26 Mark Liebermancenter_img The nation’s economy grew at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the first quarter, far slower than previous report for the three months ended March 31, the “”Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)””: said Wednesday. Previous reports on the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), based on incomplete data, had estimated growth at 2.4 percent, and economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected the most recent report would confirm that growth rate.[IMAGE]Along with the GDP report, BEA said corporate profits in the first quarter were $1.985 trillion, $26 billion from the previous estimate, but still down $28 billion from the fourth quarter. The last time corporate profits showed a quarter-over-quarter decline was in the first quarter of 2012. Corporate profits are considered a key indicator of employment trends.Profits fell, according to BEA, for both financial and non-financial corporations. The quarterly drop in profits at financial corporations was fourth in the last five quarters.The downward revision to GDP came amidst positive news about the economy. Home prices, according to the Case-Shiller Index released Tuesday, “”rose””: at their fastest pace ever in April and consumer confidence, as reported by the Conference Board, increased for the third straight month.GDP itself, the broadest measure of the economy, is the sum of consumer spending, investment and government spending, less net exports. It totaled $1.3725 trillion for the first quarter, according to BEA, down from the $1.375 trillion estimated a month.BEA issues three GDP reports for each report. Wednesday’s was the third report. The first second quarter report will be issued July 31.In dollar terms, GDP rose $60.3 billion in the first quarter, down from the $84.7 billion increase reported a month ago. Most of the change came from a new estimate of personal consumption spending in the first quarter, which [COLUMN_BREAK]according to Wednesday’s report, increased $62 billion, down from the $76 billion increase reported in the second estimate of GDP.Government spending, according to the latest data, was more of a drag on GDP than estimated a month ago, dropping $30 billion instead of the $26 billion reported at the end of May.Private investment was slower than reported a month ago, dropping to $1.97 trillion from May’s report of $1.99 trillion. Most of the change was due to a drop in inventory investment which fell $14 billion from the send GDP estimate to the third.Residential fixed investment was reported as $399 billion in the third GDP report, up slightly from the $397 billion in the second report.Still, the GDP growth–albeit less than previously reported–looked strong against the fourth quarter when the nation’s economy grew an anemic 0.4 percent and meant the economy met and overcame two significant challenges: the end of the two-year payroll tax holiday as of January 1, costing most wage earners $1,000 for the entire year and, as of March 1, the beginning of the federal budget sequester which reduced federal spending. The reduction in take-home pay didn’t stop consumers. Even with the lower final estimate, personal consumption spending rose 2.6 percent in the first quarter. In the second GDP report issued in May, personal consumption was reported to have grown 3.4 percent in the first quarter.The slowdown in government spending–and its impact on GDP–could be more pronounced in the second quarter as the first quarter data reflected only one month of the sequester cuts.The personal consumption price index–an alternate measure of inflation watched closely by the Federal Reserve–showed a 1.2 percent inflation rate in the last year compared with 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter. The core inflation rate–excluding more volatile food and energy prices–was 1.3 percent in the first quarter, down from 1.5 percent in the fourth.The inflation measures take on added significance as the Federal Reserve said it would look to two measures–the unemployment rate and the inflation rate–to determine when to raise interest rates and reduce its bond purchase program._Hear Mark Lieberman Friday on P.O.T.U.S. Radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:20 a.m. Eastern._ in Data, Governmentlast_img read more

Mortgage Rates Creep Even Lower Among Global Concerns

first_img Financial Markets Freddie Mac Mortgage Rates 2016-01-21 Staff Writer January 21, 2016 762 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Government, News Sharecenter_img Mortgage Rates Creep Even Lower Among Global Concerns Mortgage rates have only headed one direction since the Fed’s decision in December to raise rates by 0.25 percent. Freddie Mac says the falling rates reflect the tumultuous global economy and weak inflation.Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that mortgage rates declined for the third week in a row in the midst of financial market turbulence.According to Freddie Mac, for the week ending January 21, 2016, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.81 percent with an average 0.6 point. Last week, it averaged 3.92 percent and a year ago, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.63 percent.Sean Becketti, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac advised that the Freddie Mac mortgage rate survey had difficulty keeping up with market events this week.”The 30-year mortgage rate dropped 11 basis points to 3.81 percent, the lowest rate in three months,” Becketti stated. “This drop reflected weak inflation—0.7 percent CPI inflation for all of 2015—and nonstop financial market turbulence that is driving investors to the safe haven of Treasuries. However, the survey was largely complete prior to Wednesday’s Treasury rally that drove the yield on the 10-year Treasury below 2 percent, down 29 basis points since the end of 2015.”The 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.10 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from 3.19 percent last week. Last year at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.93 percent, Freddie Mac reported.The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.91 percent this week with an average 0.5 point. Last week it averaged 3.01 percent and a year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.83 percent.Concern over what will happen now that the Fed has raised the interest rate for the first time in a decade‒‒and with further increases on the way‒‒is surprisingly minimal. But any worries are based largely on that person’s economic status, according to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index survey.The survey found that 41 percent of Americans believe rate increases could have dire effects on their personal finances and on the U.S. economy in general.Those between 30 and 49 were most worried, the report found. A full 44 percent in this age range expressed concern over where the economy is headed. Twenty percent of Millennials, the largest generational group to voice concerns, said they worried about their personal economic futures. Millennials were, however, the least likely (12 percent) to be concerned about the effects of rate hikes on the economy overall.On the other side, those 65 and older were far less concerned‒‒37 percent in this age group said they worried about their own finances or the economy in general.last_img read more

NLPC Requests Wall Street Government Ethics Investigation

first_img February 29, 2016 569 Views The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) has asked both the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for HUD to investigate the actions of David H. Stevens, former FHA Commissioner and assistant HUD Secretary and current president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association.The NLPC has asked the D.C. Attorney General and the HUD OIG to investigate allegations that Stevens engaged in unethical conduct by leading a charge to wind down the GSEs for the gain of big Wall Street banks. In response to the announcement by the NLPC, MBA spokesman John T. Mechem vehemently denied the allegations, stating that both Stevens and the MBA are “scrupulous” on ethics and compliance matters.“Since ending his government service, Dave has regularly consulted with attorneys inside and outside MBA to make sure that he and the Association are always in full compliance with the law,” Mechem said. “Outside counsel to MBA has specifically reviewed Dave’s activities on behalf of MBA and its members and has confirmed that Dave has operated fully within the letter and spirit of the lobbying laws and ethics rules.”Mechem continued, “We believe these unfounded allegations are part of a concerted campaign concocted by a group who apparently have a financial incentive to discredit Dave and MBA’s efforts to advocate on behalf of our members for secondary mortgage market reform. Opposing MBA’s policy views is one thing, but engaging in false personal attacks is reprehensible.”A front page story in the New York Times reported on December 7, 2015, the findings of a lengthy investigation which concluded that “lobbying records, legal filings, and internal emails and memorandums, as well as housing officials’ calendars and White House and Treasury visitor logs” documented the banks’ quiet push to remove Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and grab their share of a residential mortgage market that totals about $5.7 trillion—suggesting a conflict of interest perpetrated by some of the country’s foremost and high-profile housing policy specialists—one of which was David Stevens—who were instrumental in proposing a series of recommendations to wind down the GSEs.“This is the most egregious instance of revolving door abuse that I have seen in some years,” NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm said. “Even by Washington’s current low standards, Stevens was particularly brazen in apparently ignoring the pertinent statutes and ethics regulations.”“Allegations like this come up from time to time across various industries, and sometimes they turn out to be nothing more than a witch hunt,” Five Star President and CEO Ed Delgado said. “The laws are very clear in matters like this, and the allegations against Mr. Stevens are serious. However, they are simply allegations at this point.”While Stevens did not comment on Monday on the NLPC’s requests for an investigation, in December when the allegations first came to light, he wrote on the MBA’s blog, “Let me say emphatically and categorically—I took great care to adhere to all ethics rules and have never done anything unlawful. Every step of the way, from the moment I was first contacted by MBA through today, I have worked closely with lawyers at HUD and continued to consult with counsel while at MBA to make sure every action I took did not even approach the ethical or legal line. At every turn, I erred on the side of caution.”Click here to see the NLPC’s requests.Editor’s note: The Five Star Institute is the parent company of MReport and in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News Sharecenter_img Ethics Watchdog FHA HUD Wall Street 2016-02-29 Staff Writer NLPC Requests Wall Street, Government Ethics Investigationlast_img read more

Is GE Capital Too Big to Fail Not Anymore

first_imgIs GE Capital Too Big to Fail? Not Anymore Share Financial Stability Oversight Council GE Capital Nonbank SIFI Too Big to Fail Treasury 2016-06-29 Seth Welborn June 29, 2016 525 Views center_img in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News The U.S. Treasury’s Financial Stability Oversight Council Tuesday rescinded its determination that GE Capital Global Holdings is too big to fail.According to the announcement, the FSOC pulled its determination that “material financial distress at [GE Capital] could pose a threat to U.S. financial stability” and decided that the firm should be subject to supervision by the Federal Reserve System and enhanced prudential standards.The FSOC originally designated GE Capital in July 2013, and since then the company has “executed significant divestitures, transformed its funding model, and implemented a corporate reorganization,” according to statement. “As a result, the company is a much less significant participant in U.S. financial markets and the economy” and, therefore, does not pose a significant threat for bailout the way it once did.In 2008, the FDIC backed $139 billion in capital debt for GE; a year ago, the embattled company announced it would dismantle much of its financial services and sell off most of GE Capital, a $500 billion lending business at the time. According to the Treasury, GE Capital was a significant source of credit to the U.S. economy, “providing financing to more than 243,000 commercial customers, 201,000 small businesses through retail programs, and 57 million consumers.”“The Council follows the facts: When it identifies a company that could threaten financial stability, it acts; when those risks change, the Council also acts.”Treasury Secretary Jacob LewAfter selling off nearly $168 billion of an intended $200 billion in assets, GE’s impact on U.S. financial markets has been greatly minimized.“Today’s decision clearly demonstrates that the Council’s designation of nonbank financial companies is a two-way process,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. “The Council follows the facts: When it identifies a company that could threaten financial stability, it acts; when those risks change, the Council also acts.”Treasury’s decision somewhat flies in the face of its plan to fight the removal of the “significantly important financial institutions,” or SIFI, designation from MetLife. Judge Rosemary Collyer, in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, recently ruled in a sealed opinion that the SIFI tag should be removed from MetLife, stating that the government body that applied the designation used a “fatally flawed” process.Treasury disagreed and plans to appeal the decision.MetLife had sued the FSOC in January 2015 to have the SIFI designation removed, because as a nonbank SIFI, MetLife said it would be subject to heightened regulation which the company says will increase compliance costs, hence increasing costs to consumers without any added safety benefit for the financial system.last_img read more

White House Considers New Direction for CFPB

first_img Share February 13, 2017 738 Views CFPB CNBC 2017-02-13 Scott_Morgan in Headlines, News, Originationcenter_img CFPB Director Richard CordrayThe future of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) under the Trump administration is unknown. Several Republican lawmakers, who are not too fond of Dodd-Frank, much less the CFPB, are taking new aim at the bureau, just as talk of a replacement for Richard Cordray as the new head of the bureau is warming up.Last week, a memo from Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, outlined plans to dismantle key aspects of the CFPB, such as its ability to police the private sector and its consumer complaints database. The memo also outlined a plan to change how the director position could be filled and replaced. As it stands, the director is appointed to a term of five years and can only be ousted “for cause,” as opposed to on any political inclinations. CFPB is an independent agency, meaning the White House has little authority over opts machinations. Cordray’s term ends in 2018, unless Hensarling’s bill gets through congress and the rules are rewritten. He’s expected to introduce the legislation soon.A year ahead, and all still very much just talk at this point, the administration and Congress are taking a look at who could replace Cordray. The latest name to enter consideration is Brian Brooks, general counsel at Fannie Mae. What’s causing concern among critics already is that Brooks has close ties to Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and a bank accused openly of discrimination and aggressive foreclosure practices during the crisis.According to CNBC, Brooks represented several investors in Mnuchin’s $1.6 billion purchase of IndyMac, a failed subprime mortgage lender, in 2009. The lender was renamed OneWest, where Brooks became vice chairman. Democrats and consumer groups have attacked the choice of Mnuchin for his role in OneWest, which is now part of CIT Group. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who helped establish the CFPB, even said the bank was belligerent and cruel.Brooks has been with Fannie Mae since 2014 and is one of several names being tossed about as a potential replacement. Others include former Texas congressman Randy Neugebauer, who was an open critic of the CFPB, and Todd Zywicki, an economist at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. White House Considers New Direction for CFPBlast_img read more