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An expert on gift-giving explains says the holidays are the worst time of the year to send gifts to your clients

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 10:05am

  • The holidays are the worst times to give a gift to a business client, according to gift-giving expert John Ruhlin.
  • Your holiday gift isn't likely to stand out and it can seem like you bought it out of obligation, he said.
  • Ruhlin recommends buying your clients gifts at unexpected times to ensure your client remembers it and keeps you at the top of their mind.

Giving gifts to your loved ones is a staple of the holiday season.

But if you're trying to make a good impression on a business client, the holiday season is the worst possible time to buy them something.

That's according to John Ruhlin, an expert in corporate gift-giving and author of the book "Giftology." Although the subject is something of an afterthought in the business world, Ruhlin claims that strategic gift-giving can help increase a company's referrals and lead to more meaningful relationships with clients.

Ruhlin has consulted with companies such as Wells Fargo, Shell, and sports teams like the Chicago Cubs and Orlando Magic on the art of gift-giving. He said the holidays are one of three occasions in which you should avoid gift-giving.

"I don't send one gift from a business perspective between Thanksgiving and Christmas, or Thanksgiving and year-end, because i feel like it's the noisiest and most-cluttered time of the year," Ruhlin said on the podcast "Success Insider" in 2016. "So we do our gifting the other 11 months out of the year."

The idea, he explained to Business Insider, is that your clients will be so overwhelmed with token gifts during the holiday season that yours will have little chance of standing out. In other words, it's a time of year when gifts are expected from every angle.

"We teach people, don't send gifts at Christmas, at anniversaries, or birthdays, so no 'ABC' gifting," Ruhlin told Business Insider.

Read more: A gift-giving expert has been giving clients paring knives for 20 years, and he's convinced it's the perfect gift 

A better strategy, Ruhlin said, is to give on occasions where gifts aren't typically exchanged between business associates: think Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, or the Fourth of July.

"On Valentine's Day, send a gift that says, 'We love working with you!' On St. Patrick's Day, send one that says, 'We're lucky to have you as a partner!'" Ruhlin wrote in "Giftology."

"There are a million and one national holidays to choose from. For instance, send a pizza along with a high-end pizza stone and slicer on National Pizza Day. It can be so easy if you are willing to open your eyes to the possibilities."

He added: "By doing this, we cut into any sense of entitlement because the gift never becomes an expectation. It's always a surprise, and it always makes an impact."

Better yet, don't even wait for a holiday to send your client a gift. Ruhlin recommends surprising clients with thoughtful gifts and random times of the year.

"Take that bottle of really good wine that you were going to give at Christmas time, and send it in the middle of the winter tundra of February instead," Ruhlin wrote in "Giftology." "I guarantee the response will likely be, 'That was the best gift! It was the only thing I got in the mail that wasn't a bill this week!'"

Gifting on these unorthodox occasions will help you stand out from the crowd, Ruhlin said, and signal to your client that you're treating them genuinely, and not because you have to. Over the course of a business relationship, those moments add up.

"Our whole goal is to get something in somebody's hands where you're remaining top-of-mind and triggering that memory of it being given by that particular person," he told Business Insider.

SEE ALSO: A gift-giving expert has been giving clients paring knives for 20 years, and he's convinced it's the perfect gift

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A Chinese recycling company spent $75 million on a Michelangelo masterpiece — and is selling shares in it for $10 a piece

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 9:54am

  • A Chinese company which used to focus on recycling has spent $75 million buying a Michelangelo.
  • Yulong Eco-Materials, which until recently was focused on recycling bricks and concrete, announced earlier this week that it had bought a depiction of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ by Michelangelo.
  • The company now says it wants to focus on collecting art, abandoning its recycling business.
  • It had previously bought a 61,500-carat gem known as the "Millennium Sapphire" in October for around $50 million.

A Chinese company previously focused on recycling has taken a novel approach to the diversification of its investment portfolio, spending $75 million to buy a painting by Italian master Michelangelo Buonarotti.

Yulong Eco-Materials, which until recently was focused on recycling bricks and concrete, announced earlier this week that it had bought a depiction of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ painted by Michelangelo.

Michelangelo Buonarotti is most famous for painting Rome's Sistine Chapel, and for his sculpture, David.

Read more: A tiny Chinese manufacturer of eco-friendly building products explodes by 950% after pivoting to gemstones

The company says it wants to "open the opportunity of shared ownership of its acquired masterpieces to anyone with a brokerage account," and said that it would pay for the acquisition by offering 7.5 million shares for sale at $10 per share.

In an abrupt volte face, Yulong now says it wants to focus on this business model, rather than recycling.

The Michelangelo is its second serious acquisition, following the purchase of a 61,500-carat gem known as the "Millenium Sapphire" in October for around $50 million. It also offered shares for sale in the gemstone, and has plans to take the jewel on a world tour, according to a Bloomberg report.

"Yulong has today pioneered this new disruptive business model by the acquisition and securitization of fine art through a Nasdaq-listed security," Yulong’s executive chairman Daniel McKinney said in a statement after the Michelangelo purchase was announced.

Shares in Yulong jumped as much 47% on November 19, the day the purchase was announced, while in October, after the acquisition of the Millennium Sapphire, shares increased almost 1000%.

SEE ALSO: $90 million painting sale makes David Hockney the world's most expensive living artist

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Here are 10 hot car deals you should check out on Black Friday (F, GM, FCAU)

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 9:07am

  • Car buyers are always looking for a good deal, especially during Black Friday.
  • Kelley Blue Book, the vehicle valuation and automotive research company, recently released a list of attractive SUV and car deals that are available through November 30, 2018.
  • Many of these deals offer more than $4,000 cash back or leases that cost less than $200 per month.
  • Brands such as Jeep, Ford, Acura, Lexus, Mazda, Subaru, Hyundai, and Toyota are featured on the list.

Everyone loves a great deal. Especially on a new car. Which is why this time of year is a good time to go hunting for a good bargain. After all, Black Friday is just around the corner. 

Kelley Blue Book, the vehicle valuation and automotive research company, recently released a list of attractive deals on new cars and SUVs that are available through November 30. Some of these deals stand out for the thousands of dollars in cash back available from manufacturers while others offer shoppers great terms of on a lease.

Read More: The 10 best SUVs on the market for under $25,000

"If you're in the market for an SUV, November is a great time to buy or lease with cash back and lease deals on top models," said Allyson Harwood, associate editor for Kelley Blue Book, in a statement. "The Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, and Hyundai Tucson offer great value and practicality in a small SUV package."

"The Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee offer more room at a higher price point, but the savings this month could make them more affordable and worth a closer look," Harwood added.

Five of the 10 models listed are SUVs, which have grown quite popular with the market as of late, while the other vehicles are traditional passenger cars. 

So if you're car shopping during Black Friday, keep in mind Kelley Blue Book's best deals this November:

SEE ALSO: The 11 new cars people most regularly ditch after just one year of ownership

FOLLOW US: On Facebook for more car and transportation content!

10. 2018 Subaru Impreza: $145 a month/36 months and $1,975 due at signing—$19,355 (MSRP).

9. 2019 Hyundai Veloster: $189 a month/36 months and $2,299 due at signing—$26,285 (MSRP).

8. 2018 Mazda CX-5: $215 a month/36 months and $2,489 due at signing—$25,125 (MSRP).

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Sheryl Sandberg is on the hot seat at Facebook — but ousting her alone wouldn't solve its problems (FB)

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 8:00am

  • Sheryl Sandberg's future at Facebook has become an open topic of discussion in recent weeks.
  • Facebook has stumbled through myriad scandals over the past two years and is facing calls for someone to be held accountable for them.
  • There are good reasons for Facebook to oust Sandberg, its chief operating officer, including that she oversaw the groups at the center of many of the fiascos.
  • But firing her wouldn't be nearly enough to solve Facebook's problems — and the problems it poses for society.

With all the turmoil at Facebook, the once unthinkable notion that its star executive Sheryl Sandberg would ever be forced out seems to have become the topic on the tips of many tongues.

Investors are discussing it. Some — including yours truly — have called for it. In recent days, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other company officials have repeatedly been asked about it.

Even Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, was said to have felt that she was on shaky ground earlier this year. And that was before the latest revelations about the company, including that it reportedly tried to limit public disclosures about what it had found out about Russian interference in the 2016 US election and launched a campaign to hit back at critics, including the billionaire financier George Soros.

There are plenty of good reasons Facebook should fire Sandberg, starting with the ugly and anti-Semitic Soros smear. But it would be unfortunate if Sandberg alone ended up taking a fall for the company. Facebook's problems extend far beyond Sandberg, going all the way up to the CEO's office. Change at the company really ought to begin at the very top.

Read this: Opinion: Heads ought to roll at Facebook over the Soros smear — starting with Zuck's

Sandberg's and Facebook's reputations have fallen steeply

That Sandberg finds herself under fire is an amazing turn of events. As recently as last year, she was widely hailed as a feminist and tech industry icon, thanks to her highly influential book, "Lean In," and her role at Facebook, where she has helped oversee its growth from a young startup to the global giant it is today.

But the public perception of Sandberg and her company has changed markedly over the past year because of the series of scandals and fiascos Facebook has found itself in. From Russia's election interference, which the company didn't detect until it was too late, to the spread of genocide-stoking propaganda in Myanmar, to multiple security breaches and data leaks, including the one to Cambridge Analytica, to the recent revelations about how it targeted its critics, Facebook has had a gusher of bad news to contend with.

Many happened on Sandberg's watch. The security team was under her purview, most notably while Russia-linked groups used Facebook to spread their propaganda. Though she says she didn't know about the Soros smear or that Facebook had hired the public-relations firm that propagated it, she oversaw the company's communications team and effort.

According to The New York Times, Sandberg was the one who spearheaded the general effort to try to turn the tables on Facebook's critics, and she repeatedly tried to tone down reports about Russian interference in the election.

Thanks to the stream of scandals and Facebook's responses — which have increased costs and decreased user growth — the company's stock has been crushed. It's down 25% in the year to date but off 39% since hitting its all-time high in July.

Speculation is growing about Sandberg's future at Facebook

Publicly, at least, Facebook officials are standing by Sandberg. At a lunch meeting with journalists on Tuesday, Patrick Walker, one of Facebook's top executives in the UK, said there was a "huge upswell" in support for Sandberg inside the company. In an interview with CNN later that day, Zuckerberg expressed his backing of Sandberg.

"I hope we work together for decades more to come," he said.

But these attestations of support of Sandberg have the feel of those given by a president right before he ousts one of his Cabinet members. In his interview, Zuckerberg notably did not directly answer the question asked by CNN's senior tech correspondent, Laurie Segall, which was whether he could "definitively say Sheryl would stay in the same role." Instead, he mainly talked about the work she's done.

Those statements from company officials come amid growing discussion of Sandberg's role and future at the company — and outright calls for her to leave.

The head of Soros' foundation harshly criticized Sandberg and the company for the smear perpetrated against Soros. The anti-Facebook groups targeted by it have called for the immediate termination of those responsible, which would presumably include Sandberg.

Meanwhile, the CNBC commentator Jim Cramer contended on Monday that Facebook's stock would go up if Sandberg resigned. And Anthony DiClemente, an Evercore analyst, said in a research note Tuesday that he was fielding a growing number of calls from investors wondering whether she'll be ousted because of the "drumbeat of negative press."

All of this may seem to be just outside noise. But Zuckerberg — in an apparently unusual move — reportedly upbraided Sandberg this spring in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, saying he blamed her for the PR black eye Facebook received for it. Sandberg was said to have been left reeling. And things have only gotten worse for the company since then.

Sacking Sandberg alone wouldn't solve Facebook's problems

The company could do a lot worse than to hold Sandberg accountable for its string of scandals. Facebook has failed in spectacular ways in the past two years, and the groups Sandberg oversaw were at the heart of those failures. She drew outsize credit for Facebook's success. It wouldn't be unfair for her to take the fall for its failures.

But she shouldn't be alone. She shouldn't be its sole or primary scapegoat.

Sandberg answers to Zuckerberg. He fully controls the company, thanks to the voting rights his Facebook shares give him. He can and does direct Facebook as he sees fit.

But more to the point, Zuckerberg is the one who determines how much of the company's resources and engineering personnel to devote to particular efforts or projects, as Susan Desmond-Hellmann, a company director, recently explained to The Wall Street Journal. Whatever Sandberg's culpability for the scandals that have befallen Facebook, the buck ultimately stops with Zuckerberg. He too ought to step down.

Or, since he told CNN "that's not in the plan," he should be forced to, perhaps by having Congress abolish the supervoting powers of his shares, which is the basis of his control.

But even that's not enough. Facebook would pose a threat to society no matter how enlightened and forward-thinking its management. The company itself simply has too much power. It has amassed detailed dossiers on millions of people. It, along with Google, dominates digital advertising and has become a major distributor of news and information.

As has become abundantly clear in the past two years, Facebook has a frightening ability to manipulate people's attitudes and emotions, as well as spread dangerous and even deadly propaganda both widely and at targeted groups. It's not just subverting citizens' privacy on a vast scale — it has the capacity to undermine democracy and civil society as well.

Ultimately, Facebook itself needs to be held accountable for the damage it has caused. It needs to be broken up and regulated.

Yes, Sandberg should resign for her and Facebook's failures. But that's only a start.

Now read:

SEE ALSO: The Facebook hack that exposed 30 million accounts shows we're going to be dealing with the consequences of its 'Move Fast' motto for years to come

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US companies are using an ingenious method to game the system and avoid the worst of Trump's trade war

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 6:59am

  • American companies may be finding an ingenious way to skirt around the tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump on importing Chinese goods.
  • UBS's Paul Donovan said some US firms are likely funnelling imports from China through other foreign subsidiaries.
  • This allows them to import products from China, but without having to pay the 25% tariffs levied on imports from the country.
  • Concrete evidence for this is slim, but there are clear signs it is happening, Donovan said.

American companies may be finding an ingenious way to skirt around the tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump on importing Chinese goods, as a means of avoiding the financial hit caused by the 25% taxes.

According to a note from Paul Donovan, the global chief economist for UBS Wealth Management, some US firms are likely funnelling imports from China through other foreign subsidiaries, say in Canada, before finally importing them into the US. This allows companies to continue importing from China while dodging tariffs.

Here's the key paragraph from Donovan (emphasis ours):

"A US company importing electrical switches from China now has to pay the new trade tax. A US company importing something that uses Chinese electrical switches from a Canadian subsidiary does not have to pay the new trade tax.

"If US companies move a stage of their manufacturing overseas (to a country other than China), the trade tax is avoided. The US is, in reality, importing as many Chinese electrical switches as ever it did. It is just now they come packaged up as something else, and that package is made somewhere other than China."

This means of skirting round tariffs is most effective, Donovan says, in multinational companies based in the US, as these firms, by their very nature have offices and manufacturing plants around the world. For these companies, moving small parts of production to different factories is a fairly simple process.

It is however, hard to detect, meaning that such moves are unlikely to show up in official data.

"In many cases, however, it is not the whole production process that is changing location, just one part of it," he wrote.

"Around 40% of all global trade is done by multinational companies. These companies by definition have factories in more than one country. It is not easy to spot this in the data."

Read more: Crops are rotting in fields as Trump's trade war bites US farmers

That means there is no real concrete evidence to support Donovan's theory, but there are very clear hints that it is happening.

"Exports of Chinese electrical switches to Canada increased substantially after the US taxes, as US imports fell," he said. "Other products saw similar surges in Canadian demand. The patterns of trade after the July trade taxes are certainly suggestive."

So far, the US and China have traded tit-for-tat tariffs on goods totalling $360 billion, with the US acting as the aggressor, and Trump threatening numerous times to place tariffs on all US imports from China, worth about $500 billion.

SEE ALSO: 'We will never have a deal': China's former top trade negotiator warns Beijing is hurting itself in Trump tariff battle

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Carlos Ghosn fired as Nissan chairman following arrest

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 6:52am

  • Carlos Ghosn has been removed as chairman of Nissan.
  • The executive was arrested in Tokyo on Monday and faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of financial misconduct.
  • Ghosn is an auto-industry titan who headed up the major carmaking alliance consisting of Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi Motors.

The auto executive Carlos Ghosn has been ousted from his chairmanship at the Japanese automaker Nissan following a lengthy board meeting in Tokyo, according to reports from NHK.

The Brazil-born Ghosn was arrested Monday following allegations of financial misconduct linked to the underreporting of his salary. The French national, 64, headed up the major carmaking alliance consisting of Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi Motors, but his arrest has sent shockwaves through markets and forced major changes upon the businesses.

Greg Kelly, an American Nissan executive, has also been removed over his role in the scandal, according to Nikkei.

Ghosn remains CEO and chairman of the French car giant Renault after a board meeting Tuesday decided to retain the executive while promoting Thierry Bolloré to deputy CEO with the same powers.

Prosecutors in Japan allege that the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance chairman and CEO earned a salary of about 10 billion yen, or $88.7 million, from 2011 to 2015 but reported only half of that. Ghosn could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 10 million yen if found to have committed any wrongdoing.

The executive is also accused of failing to report cash bonuses totaling about 4 billion yen ($35.6 million), according to Asahi Shimbun. Japanese prosecutors are also looking into the possibility of investigating Nissan over its failures to uncover the underreporting over the period.

Nissan has also accused Ghosn of misusing company funds, reportedly through purchasing houses in global cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Paris. Ghosn is a titan of the auto world, known as "Le Cost Killer" in France for taking a strong approach to turning around struggling businesses.

Renault and Nissan have had a strategic partnership since 1999 that later included Mitsubishi, with Ghosn, 64, acting as chairman of all three companies while also serving as CEO at Renault. It is a carmaking powerhouse: The alliance sold more than 10.6 million cars in 2017, which would be the most of any single automaker in the world.

SEE ALSO: Carlos Ghosn set to remain as Renault CEO as probe into alleged wrongdoing expands

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The pound is surging after UK and EU make a fresh Brexit breakthrough

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 5:46am

  • Pound jumps after reports UK and EU negotiators made another breakthrough on the path to Brexit.
  • The pound has gained more than 1.1% against the dollar on Thursday morning.
  • It had dropped sharply in the past week after Cabinet resignations over Prime Minister Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement.
  • You can follow the pound live at Markets Insider.

The pound has taken off after reports that UK and EU negotiators have made another breakthrough on the path to Brexit.

European Council President Donald Tusk said on Thursday morning that a political declaration on the UK and EU's future relationship "agreed at negotiators' level and agreed in principle at political level."

Prior to Tusk's comments, an EU official said on Thursday morning that a 20-page declaration had been finalized ahead of an EU summit on Sunday where Prime Minister Theresa May hopes to have the Brexit divorce deal signed off.

Read more: Brexit is now such a headache that the UK is 'uninvestable,' according to one of Wall Street's best respected research houses

The news, which marks another major step forward in the Brexit process, sent the pound flying higher, gaining as much as 1.1% against the dollar, and passing back above the $1.29 mark, which it dropped below a week ago after a series of resignations from the British Cabinet.

Sterling does, however, remain below the level it was trading at when Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigned in protest at the deal.

"The reaction itself is more telling than its magnitude. Optimism still remains in the market and sterling's ability to explode at the blink of an eye is captivating," Simon Harvey, a market analyst at Monex said in an email.

By 10.40 a.m. GMT (5.40 a.m. ET), it was trading at $1.2910, a gain of 1.15%, as the chart below shows:

SEE ALSO: UBS: A UK recession and pound-dollar parity are on the horizon, and Brexit risks are rising 'literally' by the minute

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A Middle Eastern investment giant is suing Goldman Sachs over the 'massive international conspiracy' of the 1MDB scandal

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 5:20am

  • Abu Dhabi's IPIC filed a lawsuit against Goldman Sachs on Wednesday to recover losses from 1MDB scandal.
  • The US investment Bank is being scrutinized for its role in the scandal, which saw $4.5 billion misappropriated.
  • Goldman said it expects to "contest the claim vigorously."
  • Morgan Stanley downgraded the rival lender as accusations against the bank furthered.

US investment banking giant Goldman Sachs is facing the music over the One Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund scandal.

Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) filed a lawsuit in New York on Wednesday against Goldman Sachs and others, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The civil action by IPIC, a former partner of 1MDB, claims that Goldman and others "played a central role in a long-running effort to corrupt former executives of IPIC and its subsidiary Aabar Investments, and mislead IPIC and Aabar."

IPIC added that it believed the scandal was "a massive, international conspiracy to embezzle billions of dollars."

Goldman Sachs did not immediately respond to Business Insider's requests for comment. It told the Journal: "We are in the process of assessing the details of allegations and fully expect to contest the claim vigorously."

Goldman's stock is down 24.4% for the year to date and was recently downgraded by rival lender Morgan Stanley on the back of uncertainty around the investigation.

Read more: 2 major brokerages are suing Goldman Sachs for blocking their clients from investing in IPOs

1MDB was set up by former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009 and has been major financial scandal since 2015. An estimated $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officialsand their associates between 2009 and 2014, the US Justice Department has alleged. Najib has consistently denied wrongdoing.

In 2015, billions of dollars of loans issued by 1MDB, arranged by Goldman Sachs, were guaranteed by IPIC. IPIC claimed the fund defaulted on $1.1 billion in repayments in 2016 and Malaysia's then-government agreed to pay the UAE investment fund, a settlement which has since been challenged by the country's new government.

Timothy Leissner, a former partner for Goldman Sachs in Asia who was named in the IPIC lawsuit, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money, and agreed to forfeit $43.7 million. Fellow Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng, who was previously arrested in Malaysia at the request of US authorities, is also named in the legal action.

Goldman has been under scrutiny for its role in helping 1MDB raise funds through $6.5 billion in bond offerings in 2012 and 2013, from which it earned around $600 million in fees — a higher amount than usual, according to critics.

The 1MDB investigations in the US and Malaysia have gathered pace since Najib unexpectedly lost a general election in May to Mahathir Mohamad, who returned to power 15 years after he retired as prime minister.

SEE ALSO: Goldman Sachs then CEO Blankfein attended meeting at center of $6.5 billion Malaysian wealth fund scandal

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