Category: Picture Perfect Finance

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Trump Takes a Tumble on Forbes Billionaires List

According to the latest ranking by Forbes, Donald Trump is now only in the 544th spot with a net worth of $3.5 billion. Last year, he was at the 336th spot with a $4.5 billion net worth valuation.

The reason for Trump’s drop in net worth is the depressed prices of his real estate in Midtown Manhattan. Forbes magazine said in a statement, “Midtown Manhattan real estate is down; therefore, so is Donald’ Trump’s fortune.”

40% of Trump’s net worth is dictated by real property prices.

In the past, Trump disputed Forbes on how they estimated his wealth as he says the worth of his brand is difficult to put a value on. When Trump campaigned for President, he said his net worth was $8.7 billion.

Forbes uses a “snapshot” methodology wherein they value the assets of a billionaire using stock prices and international exchange rates.

Randall Lane, the editor of Forbes Magazine, says, “We do not give any credit for ‘brand value’ to Trump or Oprah or any other person on our list- we feel a person’s brand value is already reflected in the income and values of the deals they cut. Moreover, we are very comfortable with our estimates for Trump’s tangible holdings, which also factor in things like debt and partnerships as well as current market conditions.”

Forbes noted last year that there is no one more fixated with his or her net worth estimate annually than Trump.

The Trump tower and the eight buildings that are a mile within of it form 40% of Trump’s wealth. Figures show that net operating profits are falling at Trump Tower. In Niketown, its lone tenant, Nike, is reportedly moving out of it.

Trump also spent $66 million of his funds for his presidential campaign. He also paid $25 million to settle a lawsuit on his Trump University, which allegedly swindled millions from students.
According to Forbes, the number of billionaires in its list surged by 13%. There are now 2,043 billionaires compared to 1,810. This is due to stock market uptrends and a rally in commodity prices.
The average net worth of a billionaire now is slated at $3.75 billion.
In the list, U.S. led regarding the number of billionaires at 565.China had 319 billionaires while Germany had 114 billionaires.

China was second with 319 billionaires, and Germany was third with 114.

Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder, continues to lead Forbes List for the fourth straight year. He has a net worth of $86 billion this year. Last year, it was only $75 billion. Super Investor Warren Buffet gets the second spot with a net worth of $75.6 billion while Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is 3rd on Forbes list with a net worth of $72.8 billion. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was at number five while Oracle co-founder was at number 7.

Other notable billionaires rounding up the Forbes top 10 include Amancio Ortega, fashion mogul of Zara, Carlos Slim, the Koch brothers, and Michael Bloomberg, who is the former New York City Mayer and Bloomberg News founder.

China Prepares to Counter America

China is concerned with the possible trade tariffs that the Trump administration are likely to impose and are seeking strategic advice on how to combat it. America has a huge trade deficit with China and will look to trim it down with tariffs in industries where China enjoys a significant surplus such as furniture and steel.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, China’s 2016 trade surplus with America decreased by $20.1 billion to $347 billion. China trade data puts the trade surplus at a lower amount.

Lester Ross, head of American Chamber of Commerce in China’s policy committee said, “To our knowledge, China is already preparing measures in the event of actions by the new administration… should they impose restrictions on trade and investment on China.”

Analysts suggest some of the countermeasures China can adopt include finding other suppliers of machinery or agriculture produce. They can also lessen its exports of consumer durables such as laptops.

Shen Jianguang, an economist based in Hong Kong, said that one way China can retaliate in a trade war would be to cut down imports from U.S. aviation, mechanical and hi-tech equipment. China can also choose to go to U.S. business rivals like Airbus.

Jianguang also suggested that China’s other options were to dump U.S treasuries or to have more investigations of anti-dumping launched against U.S. companies. However, Jianguang said, “But all these countermeasures have side effects for China. China is the largest overseas market for many U.S. companies, and China has room for negotiation.”

Other analysts suggest that China can limit U.S. access to its rapidly growing services industries. It can also impose more taxes and restrictions on U.S. multinationals operating in China.

Last week, China’s Premier Li Keqiang highlighted that Beijing does not want a trade war with America. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said it does not want a trade war with China but emphasized that certain arrangements in the trade relationship between America and

China must be reassessed and reworked to make it fairer to America.
During Trump’s election campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to impose a 45% tariff on the exports of China and that he believes that China is a currency manipulator.

The U.S. Treasury uses three criteria to determine if a country is guilty of currency manipulation to get a trade advantage and based on it, China only qualifies under one of the criteria: a trade surplus of more than $20 billion.

Gao Hucheng, the former commerce minister, said that China does not fear a trade war but hopes to avoid such a scenario. Hucheng said, “We are willing to deal with it properly, but we are not afraid. Once the U.S. side takes certain measures, we will evaluate and analyze such measures, and take actions when necessary.”

When Chinese President Xi Jinping was in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, he said that there would be no winner in the event of a trade war.

China’s President Xi Jinping will be visiting Trump next month.

Disney Asked To Pay $3.8 Million For Labor Laws Violation

The Walt Disney Co is charged with violation of labor acts and the company has agreed to pay $3.8 million in back wages. This will go to the hotel and resort workers who have been paid below the minimum wages. The scam was uncovered by the US Labor Department as it started the investigation of violation of minimum wage, record-keeping rules, and over time. The back wages will be paid to 16,339 employees who were affected. On an average, each worker will get $233.

The employees hired by Disney were asked to work for additional 15 minutes before and after shifts. However, Disney failed to compensate the workers for the extra time involved. Aside from this, the uniform expense was also deducted from the wages of all employees. This deduction resulted in hourly rates falling below the minimum wage set by the federal government. The resort was incompetent in maintaining proper work records for the number of hours worked by some employees. The US Labor Department declined to comment on the reason behind the investigation.

Disney announced in a statement that the Department of Labor had uncovered some cast members who worked outside their shifts but were not compensated. The company said that it would make a one-time payment to settle the dispute. Disney has also announced that it will change the procedures to avoid such a problem in the future. Disney was asked to pay the back wages before July 31st.

In the Florida resort, the cast members not only bake under the sun in their uniforms but are also expected to pay for it. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows an employer to ask the employee to pay for the uniform, but Disney did not pay attention to the fact that the deduction reduced the hourly wages below $7.25.

Denial White, the District director of the Department of Labor commented that such violations are rampant in other industries as well. Employees are required to maintain accurate records of the hours their employees work. Also, employers can’t pay below the minimum wage. Apart from the workers of Florida resort, cast members of New England, South Carolina, and Minnesota were also paid below the minimum wage. Disney also failed to pay for the overtime shifts because proper records were not maintained.

Despite the controversy, the Department of Labor (DoL) commented that Disney was very cooperative with the investigation. The company is also keen on ensuring that the employees get the compensation they deserve. This issue sheds light on the suffering of low paid workers due to wage thefts. Reports show that 89% of fast food workers become victims of wage theft. According to DoL data, labor code violation cases have gone down to 206. However, experts say that this is due to reduced number of reports and not due to improvements in working conditions. Disney is setting an example of ensuring that the wages are paid properly as it has included manager training to understand compensable work time properly.

Consumers Believe the Government Should Step in to Curb Drug Prices

drugs

Most consumers, according to news reports, want the government to step in to curb the rising prices of prescription drugs. In fact, according to one survey released Thursday, over 75% of Americans believe that the costs of prescription drugs are “unreasonable.”

Large majorities of Americans are in favor of policy changes that would provide the government with more power to keep the costs of medications down. Among the suggested policies is the creation of an independent body that would review the prices for prescription medications. Sixty-six percent of survey respondents said they liked the idea.

Seventy-one percent of the people surveyed also said they were in favor of permitting the import of drugs from Canada – a country where drug prices are lower. Most respondents also supported capping the amounts drug-makers can charge for certain expensive medications. These medicines are often used to treat cancer and hepatitis – two conditions that require pricier treatments.

According to the survey, the highest level of support backed the idea of permitting the federal government to negotiate reduced medicine prices for Medicare patients, and mandating that drug manufacturers publicly share information on how the prices are set. Currently, Medicare, which spends over $110 billion annually on medicines, is not permitted to negotiate the prices on drugs.

The Kaiser survey and poll, which was performed on both landlines and cellphones in mid-September, reached out to 1,204 adults. The poll and survey recorded a margin error of three percentage points. The survey results were released amid controversy over the unprecedented increase in the cost of the EpiPen anti-allergy type devices, which sell for $600 for a pack of two auto injectors.

However, Mylan, which manufactures the EpiPens, is just one of many drug companies that have fell out of favor with customers and the US Congress for their high prices. Despite outrage from consumers, nothing has changed in terms of policy.

Unlike many countries in the world, the US does not place restraints on the prices charged and set by drug manufacturers. Reductions in the costs of drugs come from insurance companies and similar payers, both who negotiate with pharmaceutical firms.

An article published just last month by the Journal of the American Medical Association network indicated that the price of U.S. prescription drugs exceeds other drug costs worldwide. The higher costs are driven by the prices of brand-name medications, which has continued to increase in recent times, surpassing the consumer price index.

In 2013, prescription drug spending per capita in the US was $858, compared with the median of $400 reported for 19 industrialized nations. Authors of the report said that increased prices result from what the market will bear rather than the high costs associated with developing a drug.

Payday Lenders Try to Out Unscrupulous Online Businesses

Hunting

The reputation of the payday loan industry, especially in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, has been battered, beaten and bruised. Everyone hates payday loan stores.

For years, payday loan companies have been accused of taking advantage of the most vulnerable, the impecunious. They have been the target of vitriol language, legislative restrictions, and constant condemnation. Governments, anti-poverty activists, consumer advocacy groups and even search engines have taken part in the act of trying to rein in the payday loan business.

In May, tech titan Google announced that it would ban payday loan businesses from advertising on the search engine. The web giant equated payday loans to pornography, illegal weapons, and drugs. This month, the ban went into effect, and now the payday loan industry is scrambling.

“This change is designed to protect our users from deceptive or harmful financial products,” Google wrote in a blog post. “We will continue to review the effectiveness of this policy, but our hope is that fewer people will be exposed to misleading or harmful products.”

Recently, the Online Lenders Alliance, a trade organization for online payday lenders, established an initiative to peruse the Internet for websites that promote misleading claims about payday loans. The purpose behind this endeavor is to clean up the industry’s reputation and weed out the bad apples and take out the unscrupulous lenders. It is essentially a PR tool.

The new monitoring effort was launched after the Los Angeles Times had reported this past spring that many online lending firms had claimed that customers are not subjected to a credit check. This has been determined to be untrue. Now, this trade group is trying to find sites that make the “no credit check” promises as well as other misleading statements.

“There are business’s that offer payday loans online which meet all the requirements of the OLA and help set a standard in the industry.”

Lisa McGreevy, CEO of Online Lenders Alliance, confirmed that it had performed similar monitoring work previously, but it was conducted manually by typing in an array of phrases, words, and terms into search engines. This was meant to discover payday lenders partaking in illicit or unscrupulous practices. The latest efforts are the first systematic approach of its kind.

“We’re trying to be the cop on the beat,” McGreevy told the LA newspaper. “We are not interested in having bad actors or people who do fraudulent business giving our good lenders a bad name.”

Under Google’s purview, the only payday lenders allowed to market are those who have annual percentage rates (APR) of under 30 percent and have repayment periods that extend beyond 90 days. Most payday loan operators do not fall within these guidelines, though a growing number of states across the country are imposing some of these rules and regulations into legislation.

Critics of the payday loan industry say these kinds of financial products send customers – low- and middle-income – into perpetual debt. Proponents say payday loans are necessary because these types of customers do not have access to traditional modes of credit.

Having a Baby Here’s How to Budget for that Bundle of Joy!

Baby

Starting a family is a special time in a couple’s life. However, before you plan for the arrival of a new household member, you need to know the expenses and how you can afford them. After the baby’s arrival, your household costs will increase for the long term. So, check your earnings before making the decision to start a family.

Medical Expenses Are One of the Main Costs

According to a recent news report, costs begin with regular doctor appointments, including scheduling medical check-ups and routine exams. The medical expenses alone can be quite heavy on one’s wallet. Not only that, the costs continue to increase after delivery. After you buy the baby’s accessories and diapers, you still have to account for clothing and food, among many other basic baby needs.

Therefore, financial experts warn to be show some constraint when you hear the news you are going to be a parent. Many parents-to-be get so excited about the prospect of parenthood, they tend to waste money as a result. They start buying clothes and toys without knowing the due date. Keep your emotions intact when you hear the news as the money should go toward prenatal care.

According to financial specialists, the money for baby should be channeled so it is spent on regular health check-ups, ultrasounds, and doctor’s appointments, all of which can cost as much a $2,000.

The Costs for Delivery

As you approach the delivery date, bookings need to make at the hospital. A normal delivery costs up to $15,000 and a cesarean operation today can run as much as $20,0000. Therefore, make sure you have the proper insurance coverage before you begin your family. Once the baby is delivered, then it is time to purchase diapers, clothes, feeders, milk, bed, and toys. Financial experts advise that this part of the expense should not cost any more than $5,000 on average.

So, if you believe you are in the position to now start a family, make sure your insurance coverage and savings can stay in step with these new costs. These kinds of expenses won’t come and go. You will be responsible for the cost of child care for at least the next 20 years.