Category Archives: Population

American banks continue to phase out free checking accounts

Thanks;Maria LaMagna

Published;Jan 23, 2018 12:55 a.m. ET

Bank of America has shut down one of its checking accounts, used by some low-income consumers

Bank of America has eliminated one of its checking accounts.

Bad news for low-income consumers: There’s now one fewer place where you can store your cash for free.

Bank of America BAC, +0.69%has gotten rid of a free checking account called eBanking, The Wall Street Journal reported. More than 45,000 people have signed an online petition protesting its elimination, on

Instead, the account holders will be charged a $12 monthly fee if they don’t have at least a $250 direct deposit that month, or a daily account balance of $1,500 or more. The eBanking accounts debuted in 2010 and offered an affordable alternative to consumers without a lot of cash.

Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank by assets behind J.P. Morgan Chase JPM, +1.17% has not allowed customers to open that account since 2013, a bank spokeswoman said. And it was free only if consumers used online services exclusively. Since 2014, it’s offered “SafeBalance,” which costs a flat fee of $4.95 per month and does not allow overdrafts.

Many low-income Americans were already having trouble finding places to keep their money. Approximately 10 million U.S. families don’t use a bank at all. One reason: Monthly maintenance fees triggered by low bank balances, a fear of overdraft fees and a general distrust in banks.

When consumers don’t use a bank, they often end up paying more for individual services that banks provide for free, such as check cashing, said Thaddeus King, an officer of the consumer finance division at Pew Charitable Trusts, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit.

Free checking accounts are rare in areas where low-income consumers need them the most, according to a 2017 analysis by Moebs Services, a firm that researches financial services companies.

Consumers should shop around for low-cost banking options that work for them, said Kimberly Palmer, a credit card and banking expert at the personal finance company NerdWallet.

AmazonAMZN, +2.53%   and Wal-MartWMT, +0.82%   have also created their own financial services programs to cater to customers who don’t use banks. U.S. Bank USB, +1.42%   offers a low-cost checking account. Like Bank of America, it requires a $1,500 minimum balance or monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more. It also charges $2.50 for out-of-network ATM fees.

Consumers should make sure the institution they choose is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Palmer said. They should also be sure they know in advance how to access their money, whether that’s through an ATM fee reimbursement program, or with a debit card, she said.


Chinese FM calls for further cooperation between China, Latin American and Caribbean states

Thanks;  Pengying/Xinhua

Published;2018-01-23 13:31:36

SANTIAGO, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday hailed the achievements made in the cooperation between China and Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) countries in the past three years and called on relevant countries to keep the momentum.

Wang was attending the second ministerial meeting under the framework of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Forum. The inaugural meeting of the mechanism was convened in Beijing in January 2015.

In his speech, Wang read a congratulatory letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who spoke highly of the development of the China-CELAC Forum in the three years following its inception and proposed that the China-LAC partnership be led by joint efforts to implement the Belt and Road Initiative.

Wang said Xi’s letter reflected China’s sincere willingness to advance cooperation with countries in the region to realize common development.

Cooperation under the China-CELAC Forum, Wang noted, has achieved fruitful results thanks to both sides sticking to the principles of mutual respect and equal treatment, as well as their consistent commitment to jointly seeking cooperation and development.

Wang said the mechanism achieved early harvests in 13 key projects in the past three years covering such areas as trade, finance and energy, adding that China has been steadfastly implementing a package of financing arrangements for its partners.

In addition, Wang said the social foundation for the China-LAC partnership has been further consolidated, with China delivering its promises by granting government-sponsored scholarships to students from LAC countries, organizing personnel training and promoting exchanges among political parties.

Exchange programs between the two sides have also benefited young scientists and people in the media industry, according to the foreign minister, who further pointed out that the ministerial-level dialogues, the national coordinators’ meetings, as well as the 17 rounds of forums covering a broad spectrum of areas have built the mechanism into an institutialized one.

As the partnership sails toward the next phase, the foreign minister suggested that China and the LAC countries seize the opportunity of jointly building the Belt and Road, promote cooperation under what is known as the “1+3+6” framework, and strive for an upgrading and innovative development of China-LAC cooperation.

In July 2014, Xi laid out the “1+3+6” cooperation framework in his keynote speech at a China-LAC summit held in Brasilia, Brazil.

The “1” refers to the China-LAC Countries Cooperation Plan 2015-2019 by which specific cooperation projects should be guided. The “3” identifies three driving forces for cooperation, namely trade, investment and finance. The “6” prioritizes six fields of cooperation, including energy and resources, infrastructure construction, agriculture, manufacturing, scientific and technological innovation, as well as information technology.

Specifically, Wang made a four-point suggestion, saying China and the LAC countries should jointly build “grand connectivity” covering both sea and land, cultivate “grand markets” that are open and reciprocal, create “grand industries” featuring advanced and independent technologies, and launch “grand communication” based on equality and mutual trust.

The foreign minister called on the two sides to make Monday’s meeting a fresh starting point for a new phase of China-LAC partnership characterized by expanded cooperation, more favorable structures, a stronger driving force and better qualities.

Officials representing LAC countries at the meeting lauded the cooperation outcomes in the past three years and the active role the China-CELAC Forum played during the process.

They unanimously agreed that the Belt and Road Initiative has provided their countries with ample development opportunities. They expressed the hope that by learning from China’s experience and joining the Belt and Road Initiative, the LAC countries will achieve common development with China.

North Korea Hit One of Its Own Cities With a Missile

Thanks;Daily Deast


A North Korean ballistic-missile test that failed in flight crashed and caused considerable damage to a complex in the city of Tokchon in April of last year, according to the online magazine The Diplomat. Though the failure of the launch was reported at the time, it wasn’t clear until Wednesday’s report that the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile came down in the populated area, about two hours outside Pyongyang. Using Google Earth and satellite images, The Diplomat said it found the errant missile struck a complex of facilities—either agricultural or industrial—that are adjacent to a residential area. The news site was not able to determine if there were any casualties caused by the explosion.

237 companies worth $6.3 trillion in market cap now backing climate-risk disclosures

Thanks;Ciara Linnane

Published: Dec 12, 2017 3:22 p.m. ET

Task force seeking voluntary climate disclosure has more than doubled its support base since June

The Atlantic hurricane season broke records in 2017.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) now has 237 companies with a combined market capitalization of more than $6.3 trillion that have publicly committed to its goals, according to its head, Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and entrepreneur.

The TCFD was established by the group of global regulators known as the Financial Stability Board, chaired by Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney, and published its recommendations in June with the aim of encouraging companies to help investors understand the risks to their investments from temperature change, rising sea levels and natural disasters.

The companies that have signed up include more than 150 financial firms with assets of more than $81.7 trillion, the TCFD said in a statement released at the One Planet Summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron. The summit marks the two-year anniversary of the Paris Climate agreement, which seeks to limit the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius by reducing greenhouse emissions. President Donald Trump has pledged to pull the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, dismaying climate activists but spurring a greater effort from the private sector to push through its goals without government help. Insurers have said anything higher than a 2 degree-temperature increase would make the world uninsurable.

In case you missed it: U.S. health insurers are in a state of denial about climate change

The companies span a broad range of industries and sectors, from construction to consumer goods, energy, metals and mining, as well as the full capital and investment chain, from companies that issue debt and equity to the largest credit rating agencies and stock exchanges. The list includes Bank of America Corp. BAC, +1.31% , BlackRock Inc. BLK, +1.09% , Citigroup Inc. C, +0.40% JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, +1.16% , Morgan Stanley MS, +2.05% and investors including the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, among others.

“Climate change poses both economic risks and opportunities,” said Bloomberg. “But right now, companies don’t have the data they need to accurately measure the risks and evaluate the opportunities. That prevents them from taking protective measures and identifying sustainable investments that could have strong returns.”

Read now: In Trump era it’s up to companies to push climate agenda, advocates say

The movement won a victory late Monday, when energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp.XOM, -0.33% said it would disclose details on how climate change may affect its business, bowing to pressure from shareholders who voted 62% in favor of a resolution on climate change at its annual shareholder meeting this year.

Companies are expected to start making the first disclosures in the coming year and the TCFD will report on their progress this time next year at the G-20 summit in Argentina, said Carney.

The task force is also planning to launch a web-based platform to further support companies that are interested in implementing its recommendations. The TCFD Knowledge Hub will go live in the first quarter and be available via

The S&P 500 SPX, +0.15% has gained 19% in 2017, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.49% has gained 24%.

Read now: Axa to spend €1.2 billion to fight climate change

U.N. council to meet on North Korea rights abuses, nuclear program in December


Published;FRI DEC 1, 2017 / 8:51 PM EST

FILE PHOTO: People watch a TV broadcasting a news report on North Korea firing what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that landed close to Japan, in Seoul, South Korea, November 29, 2017.

*Reuters- United Nations Security Council ministers will meet on Dec. 15 to discuss North Korea’s nuclear and missiles programs and the body will also meet separately this month to discuss human rights abuses in the North Asian country, an annual meeting that its ally China has tried to prevent for the past three years.

Japan’s U.N. Ambassador Koro Bessho, president of the 15-member council for December, said several ministers were confirmed to attend the Dec. 15 meeting. He also said the meeting on human rights in North Korea could be held on Dec. 11.

China has unsuccessfully tried to stop three previous human rights meetings by calling a procedural vote. A minimum of nine votes are needed to win such a vote and China, Russia, the United States, Britain and France cannot wield their vetoes.

This year’s meeting has the backing of nine members – the United States, France, Britain, Italy, Japan, Senegal, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay.

Last year, the United States angered North Korea by blacklisting its leader Kim Jong Un for human rights abuses.

A landmark 2014 U.N. report on North Korean human rights concluded that North Korean security chiefs – and possibly Kim himself – should face justice for overseeing a state-controlled system of Nazi-style atrocities.

Michael Kirby, chairman of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry that drew up the report, said at the time that the crimes the team had cataloged were reminiscent of those committed by the Nazis during World War Two. “Some of them are strikingly similar,” he told Reuters.

North Korea has repeatedly rejected accusations of human rights abuses and blames sanctions for a dire humanitarian situation. Pyongyang has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missiles and nuclear programs.

“Despite persistent sanctions and pressure by the U.S. and other hostile forces, my government concentrates all its efforts on improving people’s livelihood and providing them with a better future,” the North Korean Permanent Mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Nov. 14.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by G Crosse)

China releases guideline for industrial Internet development


Published;2017-11-27 22:57:30|

Picture ;Building a Continuous Integration & Deployment Solution for the IoT.

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BEIJING, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) — China’s cabinet has unveiled a guideline for developing the “industrial Internet,” integration of industry and the Internet.

By 2025, industrial Internet infrastructure covering all regions and sectors should be basically complete, according to the State Council guideline.

By 2035, China will lead the world in key sectors of the industrial Internet.

By the middle of the century, China should be among the top countries in terms of the overall strength of its industrial Internet.

The development of industrial Internet is a must for China’s manufacturing sector amid international competition, said Chen Zhaoxiong, vice minister of industry and information technology.

The guideline listed major tasks and projects, including increasing the Internet speed and reducing costs, setting industrial Internet standards, establishing innovation centers and improving network security.

Equal market access will be expanded, fiscal support will be strengthened and direct financing will be increased, the guideline said.

Priority will be given to the development of advanced manufacturing that is smart and green, according to the guideline.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has selected 206 pilot projects for smart manufacturing, of which 28 are related to industrial Internet innovation, said Xie Shaofeng, an official with the ministry.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said Monday more energy will be channeled into a range of advanced manufacturing sectors including rail transit, automobiles and agricultural machinery during the next three years.

Core competitiveness in chosen sectors will be substantially improved, the NDRC said, stressing combined development of the real economy and the Internet.

Other sectors included high-end medical apparatus and medicine, new materials and robotics.

As its advantage in cheap labor fades, China has encouraged domestic manufacturers to move up global value chain. The “Made in China 2025” strategy, equivalent to Germany’s Industry 4.0, was announced in 2015.

This city has the most ultra-rich residents in the world

Thanks; Fang Block

Published: June 27, 2017 7:02 p.m. ET

The New York City metro area had 8,350 residents with a net worth of at least $30 million in 2016.

The New York metropolitan area remains the top magnet for the world’s ultra rich, attracting 8,350 residents with a net worth of at least $30 million in 2016, according to a Wealth-X report released Tuesday.

Compared with 2015, the ultra-high-net-worth individuals residing primarily in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania grew 9.6%, according to the World Ultra Wealth Report 2017 by Wealth-X, a global wealth information and insight business provider.

Hong Kong and Tokyo remained the second and third most popular global cities for the ultra rich; London and Paris ranked fifth and sixth.

London was the only top-10 city to register a decline in its ultra wealthy population, as wealth levels took a hit from currency weakness and Brexit-related concerns.

Worldwide, the ultra-rich population grew by 3.5% to 226,450 in 2016, representing a strong rebound from last year’s sharp fall of 7.1%.

However, there were significant regional fluctuations, with North America and Asia Pacific recording a rise in the number of the ultra rich and their overall fortunes, while the rest of the world saw a decrease in wealth creation.

Other major findings in the report include:

• The combined wealth of the ultra rich, which comprises just 0.003% of the global adult population, increased 1.5% year-over-year to $27 trillion.

• Almost half of the global ultra wealthy population (108,610) had a net worth of between $30 million and $50 million.

• The number of billionaires declined 3.1% to 2,397; their combined net wealth dropped 3.1% to $7,400 billions.

• Latin America and the Caribbean suffered double-digit falls in its ultra wealthy collective wealth, with the population decreasing 3.4% to 6,850.

• Liquid assets, primarily cash, owned by the ultra wealthy stood at $9.6 trillion in 2016, accounting for the largest share (35.4%) of their holdings.

Top 100 City Destinations Ranking: WTM London 2017 Edition

Thanks;Wouter Geerts

Published;NOVEMBER 7TH, 2017

Euromonitor International is pleased to release its annual Top City Destinations Ranking, covering 100 of the world’s leading cities in terms of international tourist arrivals. For the first time, the Top 100 City Destinations Ranking 2017 Edition was unveiled at World Travel Market (WTM) London, the leading travel and tourism event worldwide. This year’s report includes forecast data up to 2025 and incorporates future travel trends to give further insight on how travel trends are borne out of the opportunities and challenges that cities face.


According to the report, Hong Kong was the most visited city in the world, benefiting from its strategic location and relationship with China, followed by Bangkok, which has overtaken London in 2015. Asian cities dominate the global destination rankings thanks to the inexorable rise of Chinese outbound tourism. In 2010, 34 cities from Asia Pacific were present in Euromonitor International’s ranking. This jumped to 41 cities in 2017 and is expected to grow to 47 cities in 2025. Asia Pacific is the standout region that has driven change in the travel landscape and is expected to continue doing so in the coming decade with Singapore overtaking London as the third most visited city in the world by 2025 making the podium fully Asian.

On the contrary, the performance of European cities has been hampered by several events in recent years, including the Eurozone and migrants crisis, as well as Brexit and terrorist attacks. Despite the uncertainty, some European destinations, in particular Greece, Italy and Spain have profited from unrest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as they offer a similar climate to countries affected by unrest such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia.


Performance in the MENA region has fluctuated greatly in recent years, however Euromonitor forecast data show a recovery for the region in 2017 and beyond. Most noteworthy, it is expected that Egypt will register growth in 2017, after a strong decline in 2016. While the Middle East and North Africa’s main challenges are wars and border disputes, Africa is looking to do the reverse: opening borders and enhancing collaboration with the African Union’s plans towards seamless border. African leaders are seeing travel and tourism as a way to boost the economic prosperity of the continent.

In stark contrast to Africa, the plans towards stronger border controls might weight heavily on America’s performance. Although seeing positive growth, US arrivals witnessed a slowdown in 2016 due to a strong dollar and political uncertainty surrounding the US elections. According to Euromonitor International’s Travel Forecast Model, if the US drops out the NAFTA and imposes a 35 percent tariff on Mexican imports, followed by Mexican retaliation, the impact on inter-regional travel would be considerable. New York, the most visited city in America and the only US city in the top ten most visited city ranking, has revised its 2017 forecast expecting a potential fall of 300,000 visitors, as a worst case scenario.


The top ten most visited cities are:











Source: Euromonitor International


Euromonitor International’s report drills down into the detail of the figures to highlight why some cities are performing better than others and how emerging trends are going to re-shape the travel industry and disrupt the ranking up to 2025.

Some of the key emerging travel trends identified by the report are:

Asia – Cashless Asia

Cities as Digital Investments

To ensure continued arrivals growth and sustainable expansion, Asia cities are streaming ahead with initiatives to become smart cities. A big step towards as “smarter” society and economy is the growth of digital payment facilities. Cryptocurrencies are here to stay. The impact on the travel industry could be immense, not only in the way people travel, but also by simplifying smart contracts.

Europe – Angels and EU-nicorns

Cities as a Start-Up

While overcrowding represents a key issue in many European cities, there is a growing drive amongst start-ups in Europe to address other pain points in travel. Some of the largest start-ups in travel originate from the US. However, the US is increasingly competing with European hubs for start-up talents and investment.

UK – Rail Revolution

Cities as connectors

Over half of the international travelers coming to the UK visit London. There is a major gap between London and the second city, Edinburgh, which has less than 10% of London’s arrivals. Making the rest of the UK more accessible is an important focus of the UK’s strategy with rail a key focus to achieve a better connectivity and movement of international visitors.

Americas – Recognize that face?

Cities as hubs of innovation

As part of his policy to tighten border control, US President Donald Trump has ordered increased speed in implementing biometric scanners at airports. The travel industry is not only looking at the face to merely identify a traveler, but also to tell travel players what it wants, through speech and emotion. Voice is widely lauded as the latest frontier, which would have big implications for travel.

MEA – Looking beyond borders

Cities as entry points

Performance in the Middle East and Africa has fluctuated greatly due to unrest in many countries. However, 2017 is expected to be a good year across the board. Dubai seems insulated from all the turmoil that is going on around it. The city’s tourism industry is booking and is adopting new technologies at rapid pace. Johannesburg is the only Sub-Saharan Africa city in the ranking. However, tourism is considered a pillar of its economic growth strategy and the city is investing heavily in technology.


Beauty and Personal Care in Australia Sees Strong Demand from Chinese Consumers

Thanks;Tim Foulds

Published;OCTOBER 30TH, 2017

Australia’s beauty and personal care market was supported by Chinese consumers, both local and international, who view Australian products with high regard. Chinese consumers are attracted to Australian products, not only in beauty and personal care but also in other industries including consumer health and packaged foods, which is due to the country’s clean and green reputation, strict regulations and quarantine control. Chinese consumers snapped up Australian-made beauty brands, particularly in skin care and bath and shower, with this trend supporting overall growth of the industry in 2016. Brands that resonate well with Chinese consumers are typically naturally positioned and feature natural ingredients.

Australian companies looked to capitalise on Chinese demand for Australian products, focusing on expanding their Chinese distribution as well as tailoring their products and retail stores to suit Chinese consumers. In 2016, chemist/pharmacy Amcal launched a Mandarin Chinese language version of its website, with the new store to ship orders from Australia to China. Australian online premium beauty retailer Adore Beauty opened a store on Chinese online platform Alibaba in 2016; however, the store was closed six months after opening, with the company to consider other channels to connect with Chinese consumers. Australian brand Goat Soap has become popular amongst Chinese consumers, with trade press reporting that the brand made AUD1 million in sales on China’s Singles’ day in 2016 through the company’s store on the Tmall platform.


The demand for Australian products is not expected to wane, with Australian-made and -owned companies to maintain their strong reputations locally and abroad. Australian-made products are more trusted and perceived as higher quality, with consumers willing to pay a premium for Australian-made. Australian companies will continue to focus on their China strategies, with an increasing number of sales expected to occur in China direct to consumers through Chinese e-commerce sites Tmall and An increasing number of Australian companies and retailers have opened their own sites through these channels, as they look to capitalise on the demand from Chinese consumers.

China provides promising export opportunities for Australian beauty and personal care companies, particularly given the challenging operating conditions in Australia with the high level of discounting activity. Natural skin care company BWX has seen success with its skin care brand Sukin, which has been performing strongly through drugstores/parapharmacies in Australia. The brand is a cruelty-free and vegan range featuring natural ingredients. BWX has been eyeing the Chinese market and has established Sukin flagship stores on online retailers and Tmall, as the company looks to increase brand awareness among Chinese consumers. Pental Products is also focusing on its China strategy through the export of its Australian-made Pental products, including its Country Life and Velvet soaps. The company has launched “The Australian Country Life” brand of goat’s milk soap for export to China, specifically tailored to this market.

Catalonia just declared independence from Spain

Thanks;Alexandra Ma


Pro-independence supporters wave the Catalan flag in Barcelona.Yves Herman/Reuters

• Catalonia has declared independence from Spain.

• Meanwhile, Spain’s Senate is voting over whether to allow the government to activate Article 155 and take control of Catalonia.

• Mariano Rajoy, the country’s prime minister, wants to depose the Catalan president and hold new elections.

• Friday’s vote comes a day after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont refused to dissolve parliament.

• The power struggle came to a head after Catalonia voted to secede from Spain in October.

Catalonia has declared independence from Spain.

Lawmakers in the regional parliament in Barcelona voted to become a sovereign independent state against Spain’s wishes. Carme Forcadell, the president of the paraliament, also asked the EU to recognise Catalonia as a sovereign nation.

It came as Spain’s prime minister asked the Senate to approve Article 155, which would allow the government to take control over Catalonia.

The Spanish Senate gathered on Friday morning to vote on the emergency measures. It remains unclear which of Catalonia’s powers will be suspended if Article 155 is activated.

While the article’s language is vague, it allows the government to “take the necessary measures” if an autonomous region “seriously undermines the general interest of Spain.” Madrid can, in theory, take control of Catalonia’s police and finances, and replace its administration, Reuters reported.

The power struggle between Spain and Catalonia came to a head after 2.2 million Catalonians voted on October 1 to secede from Spain.

In a 33-minute speech on Friday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy asked that the Senate let him depose Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, replace the regional administration, and hold new parliamentary elections within six months.

Members of Rajoy’s People’s Party applaud after the prime minister’s speech.Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty

The vote came a day after Puigdemont refused to dissolve the regional parliament, as Spain had requested, saying he had not received guarantees from Madrid that it will ditch plans to trigger Article 155.

But Rajoy piled the blame on Puigdemont, telling the Senate: “The fault is his, and only his. The 155 is not against Catalonia, but to prevent the abuse of Catalonia.”

If the Senate gives Rajoy the go-ahead, this would be the first time Spain invokes Article 155 in its constitution’s 39-year history. The constitution, which said the country was “indivisible” but respected territorial self-government, gave Catalonia the right to its own language and control over healthcare and education, according to Bloomberg.

Rajoy said: “It is the first time since 1978 that Article 155 is adopted because the situation is exceptional.” He also said the referendum was “the biggest mockery of democracy we have seen since the adoption of the Constitution.”

The Catalan parliament is still in session, and could declare independence on Friday, the New York Times reported.