Off the Wires

Is the gold bubble about to pop?

October 8th, 2010  |  Source:


The Gold to Go machine--the brainchild of a German entrepreneur--has generated lots of headlines and skepticism, and some ridicule. But there seems to be demand for his creation.

In Madrid, the second such ATM just launched in a five-star Westin Palace Hotel, a favorite of wealthy guests.

Some might say this is a sure sign of a top in the gold market--a silly season setting in. But this bull may yet have legs. UBS and other top banks  have recommended that top-tier clients hold 7 to 10 percent of their assets in precious metals like gold. And many high net worth individuals seem to be paying heed.

A UBS private wealth executive said at a conference that more people now are buying physical bullion, eschewing ETFs and futures. "We had a clear example of a couple buying over a ton of gold ... and carrying it to another place," he told Reuters. That would be worth about $42 million.

The likes of George Soros and Warren Buffett have suggested the gold bubble will have to burst at some point. What would be really interesting is this: If the bubble bursts will the economy remain sluggish?

For more:
- here's the Reuters article

Related Articles:
More gold ATMs to be installed soon?

ATM dispenses gold
Hedge funds make massive bets on gold
The one bubble in these markets

Top iPad apps for investors and advisors

October 7th, 2010  |  Source: FierceFinance


Since the release of the iPad, the device has been inching its way into the financial services industry. In fact, many brokerages have taken advantage of the larger size and screen space of the mutli-touch tablet computer, and developed iPad-specific applications for their advisors and clients.  

So, if your iPad keeps you up-to-date on your investment portfolio, check out these useful apps. Click here to begin a slideshow of leading iPad apps for investment professionals and trading clients or click on each name for more detailed profile.

Mango Financial, Inc. Debuts First U.S. Store In Austin

October 7th, 2010  |  Source: SOCAP 10


Mango Financial, Inc. is a first-of-its-kind financial services store that recently debuted in Austin, Texas to help under banked consumers manage their money and achieve their financial goals.


The store defines a new standard for meeting the financial needs of under banked consumers at retail that elevates the experience, provides greater value and service, shows it’s possible to forge long-term relationships with unbanked consumers and makes financial sense for the customer and the business alike. Mango customers come to the Mango Store to meet their financial needs in a one-stop shop that saves them time and money. Its host of innovative, affordable and easy-to-use products and services include the Mango MasterCard Prepaid Card, high-yield Mango Savings, integrated YAP mobile money features, check loads, bill pay, and domestic and international money transfers. Watch the video to see the Mango experience in action, or visit to learn more.

People's Design Award

October 6th, 2010  |  Source: Design that Matters


Neonurture, the "Car Parts" incubator developed by Design that Matters (DtM), was today nominated for the "People's Design Award" category for the 2010 National Design Awards.  The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is asking for the public to vote on their favorite designs through their website.  This is a wonderful opportunity to raise the profile of this important newborn health project. 

Please visit the Smithsonian website to cast your vote for Design that Matters!

Justice Department sues American Express, settles with Visa, Mastercard

October 5th, 2010  |  Source:


Visa and MasterCard want to turn this into a positive: They settled anti-trust charges, allowing merchants to offer discounts to customers who use other card types, some of which might carry lower interchange fees, and cards from competitors.

Mastercard said the deal does not call for it to "substantially change our business practices," notes Reuters.

But nemesis American Express, long a premium brand, is in a different situation. In some ways, it can still afford such a settlement. It charges retailers significantly more in interchange fees than do other brands. The company has long argued that retailers get more business from American Express cardholders and that justifies the higher fees, Reutersreports.

It basically prohibits its retailers from promoting other cards via discounts.

American Express certainly has a lot to lose if regulators were to allow merchants to essentially charge less to people using other cards, which is precisely what would happen. Unsurprisingly, the stock tanked on the news. In this era, where snobbery and elitism is hard to market, the company may be vulnerable indeed.

For more: 
- here's the article

Related Articles:
Unintended consequence: Rising credit card rates 

MasterCard's R&D effort to spark innovation?
Meredith Whitney: Credit card reform to hurt lower middle class

Oracle fury at HP choice of chief

October 5th, 2010  |  Source:


Hewlett-Packard’s choice of Léo Apotheker as its new head has enraged Larry Ellison, Oracle chief executive, who said over the weekend that Mr Apotheker had been in charge of SAP at a time when it was stealing Oracle’s software.

Mr Ellison was referring to events after SAP’s 2005 takeover of software maintenance company TomorrowNow, which admitted making unauthorised copies of Oracle products from the database maker’s customer accounts.

According to a federal lawsuit that Oracle filed against SAP in Oakland in 2007 and which is scheduled for trial in November, the SAP board knew TomorrowNow routinely pilfered Oracle wares and continued the practice until October 2008, six months after Mr Apotheker rose to become co-chief executive at SAP.

In pretrial filings, SAP conceded both copyright and computer violations but argued that the damage was in the tens of millions of dollars, not the $1bn or more Oracle is seeking.

“SAP has already publicly confessed and accepted financial responsibility for systematically stealing Oracle’s intellectual property over a long period of time. Much of this industrial espionage and intellectual property theft occurred while Léo was CEO of SAP,” Mr Ellison wrote in an e-mail to the Financial Times.

“The HP board must have been aware of these facts, yet they appointed Léo CEO of HP anyway. What happened to ‘The HP Way’ [the corporate creed published by HP founder Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett]?”

HP declined to comment.


HP’s choice of chief worries investors - Oct-01

HP names Apotheker as chief executive - Oct-01

Change at the top for HP - Oct-01

FT Tech blog - Aug-08

Editorial Comment: Hapless Packard - Sep-12

HP expands in security with ArcSight deal - Sep-13

JPMorgan reopens New York gold vault

October 4th, 2010  |  Source:


JPMorgan has reopened an underground gold vault in New York that was mothballed in the 1990s, in the latest sign of the soaring appetite for bullion.


Investors are piling money into gold in record quantities, pushing the price on Friday to a record nominal high of more than $1,320 a troy ounce. That has made the vaulting business highly lucrative, since banks often charge a small percentage of the value of the gold stored.

Many commercial banks dismantled their vaults in the 1980s and 1990s. But now they are rushing to build: JPMorgan recently built a vault in Singapore, while Deutsche Bank and Barclays Capital are considering opening new vaults in London.


The demand for storage comes as investors are buying physical gold rather than investing in precious metals futures or mining equities. Private investors hold about 30,000 tonnes of gold, according to the consultancy GFMS – more than a sixth of the world’s gold and, for the first time in modern history, more than central banks.

The vault reopened by JPMorgan last month joins a handful of others in Manhattan, including those owned by HSBC and the Bank of Nova Scotia, and the largest gold depository, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s facility, which holds reserves from 36 countries.


Video: Texas pension fund takes a shine to gold - Oct-03

Gold forecast to hit $1,450 an ounce - Sep-28

Analysis: Gold: Value locked in - Sep-26

Interactive: What’s driving gold? - Sep-24

Gold attracts amid increasing nerves - Aug-06

In depth: Gold - Sep-28

Apple may surpass Exxon as most valuable company

October 3rd, 2010  |  Source: Google News/AP


Here's something to think about the next time you pick up a call on your iPhone: the device you're holding may soon be the signature product of the most valuable company in the world.

Thanks to its line of gadgets that combine the ability to make calls, send email, read books, watch movies and listen to music, Apple Inc. is on a path to overtake Exxon Mobil Corp. as the largest company by market capitalization.

While Apple CEO Steve Jobs will no doubt be happy about his new perch atop the business world, there's more at stake here than mere bragging rights. As soon as the total value of the company's shares edges above Exxon's, Apple will take over the top spot in the Standard and Poor's 500, the market index used by most professional money managers.

That means that billions of dollars invested in funds that track the index will have to shift their holdings to reflect Apple's new weighting. Exxon, meanwhile, may see its share price fall from the same effect. That slide could be accelerated by hedge funds and technical traders who make bets based on the rebalancing of major indexes and would be primed to short the shares of Exxon.


Just as important as the day-to-day flow of dollars among investors, the move will also reflect how the market, and the overall economy, continues to evolve. The list of companies that have sat atop the S&P 500 is short. For years, the top spot rotated among stalwart industrials like General Electric Co., General Motors, and AT&T Inc., before that company was broken up as a result of an antitrust suit in 1984. Twenty years ago, IBM Corp. held the No. 1 position, narrowly beating out Exxon.


Apple's move to the top would be a strong signal that the market is no longer placing as high a value on industrial companies that depend on traditional manufacturing, business spending or natural resources for revenue. Instead, investors are now expecting growth to be driven by spending from average consumers on technology and entertainment.

If Apple becomes more valuable than Exxon, it will be only the second time that a growing technology company which doesn't pay dividends will make up the greatest share of the S&P 500. The first, Microsoft Corp., held the position for two years in the late 1990s during the boom that made personal computers a staple in households around the world.

Today, Apple dominates the business of putting the Internet in your pocket. That's quite a feat for a company that was worth only $7 dollars a share 10 years ago. It closed Friday at $282.52.

Blonde island plan raises eyebrows

October 2nd, 2010  |  Source:


A Lithuanian company plans to set up a holiday island in the Maldives run entirely by blondes - the latest project in a growing blonde movement in the Baltics. But how legitimate is this latest sign of Baltic blonde ambition?


What do you call a blonde who runs a business? A dab hand at marketing, if she comes from Lithuania.


Blondes in the Baltics have had enough of the jokes about being dumb. Now they want to show they are smarter than the gags make out, with a growing blonde business empire.


The Lithuanian company Olialia, pronounced "ooh-la-la", is setting up a holiday resort in the Maldive islands.


The firm plans to pull in the tourists by employing only blonde staff, and offering direct flights to the island crewed entirely by blondes, including the pilots.

Olialia is run and staffed by blonde women, and already operates in 75 different business sectors, making products from computer software and food products to pop music.


Related stories

Ecuador leader flees 'attempted coup'

September 30th, 2010  |  Source:


Ecuador's president injured in 'coup' 

President Correa denounced what he called “a coup attempt” against his government, and, fearing, for his life sought refuge in a hospital. ...

Correa Claims Ecuador Coup Attempt After Scuffling With Police Bloomberg

Ecuador leader flees 'attempted coup' Financial Times

Ecuador President Hurt During 'Coup Attempt' Sky News

AFP - Wall Street Journal

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