Okonjo-Iweala: Bank on poor women and phones to drive growth in Africa

Mobile phone technology can help to bring financial services to the 80 percent of African women who do not have a bank account and bolster the growth of the world’s poorest continent, Nigeria’s finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said on Monday.

Okonjo-Iweala was one of a dozen government, finance and business leaders who met in Nairobi on Monday to roll out a plan to bring financial services to more poor African women.

“It’s not just about empowering women, it’s about economic growth,” said Okonjo-Iweala, honorary co-chair of the newly-formed Africa Advisory Council of the U.S.-based charity Women’s World Banking. “Unless we can make access to finance easier for women in their businesses, we will be missing out on a significant portion of growth within our economies.”

She cited a study by accounting firm Ernst & Young which shows that 75 percent of consumer spending power will be in the hands of women by 2028.

Women are also known to be better than men at repaying loans and saving money, the experts said.

In Nigeria, 73 percent of women have never used a financial product, according to Women’s World Banking. Instead, they rely on in traditional savings groups, where a collector comes to collect their daily earnings.

Women’s World Banking worked with with Nigeria’s Diamond Bank to develop a pilot savings account, called Beta (pidgin English for ‘good’) to reach this vast, untapped market. 

90 Percent of Americans are Poorer Today than they were in 1987

90 Percent of Americans are Poorer Today than they were in 1987

A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research as well as an admission from none other than the Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve recently indicated that 90% of Americans in 2014 are poorer today than in 1987.

A Washington Post article on the ‘Wonkblog’ section actually broke down the study, and said “The new, harsh reality is that the bottom 90 percent of households are poorer today than…

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Highest-Earning Celebs Under 30 - Forbes

International Space Station’s 3-D Printer

The International Space Station’s 3-D printer has manufactured the first 3-D printed object in space, paving the way to future long-term space expeditions. The object, a printhead faceplate, is engraved with names of the organizations that collaborated on this space station technology demonstration: NASA and Made In Space, Inc., the space manufacturing company that worked with NASA to design, build and test the 3-D printer.

This image of the printer, with the Microgravity Science Glovebox Engineering Unit in the background, was taken in April 2014 during flight certification and acceptance testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, prior to its launch to the station aboard a SpaceX commercial resupply mission. The first objects built in space will be returned to Earth in 2015 for detailed analysis and comparison to the identical ground control samples made on the flight printer prior to launch. The goal of this analysis is to verify that the 3-D printing process works the same in microgravity as it does on Earth.

The printer works by extruding heated plastic, which then builds layer upon layer to create three-dimensional objects. Testing this on the station is the first step toward creating a working “machine shop” in space. This capability may decrease cost and risk on the station, which will be critical when space explorers venture far from Earth and will create an on-demand supply chain for needed tools and parts. Long-term missions would benefit greatly from onboard manufacturing capabilities. Data and experience gathered in this demonstration will improve future 3-D manufacturing technology and equipment for the space program, allowing a greater degree of autonomy and flexibility for astronauts.

Image Credit: NASA/Emmett Given via NASA http://ift.tt/1rkkxQS

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The I Can Do It Martini

One of my oldest* friends is celebrating her 30th next week. Which means that my birthday is hovering closer and closer…

I mean, I can’t wait to be done with my 20’s but the current stats and data about my generation, millennials/Generation Y’ers, makes aging especially depressing. Here’s a short summary of stuff people are saying about Millennials:

But seriously, sarcasm and cynicism aside, I know this is all very confusing and I apologize for scaring anyone. It doesn’t help that other generations tend to write about the Millennials with so much vitriol. Give us a break, will you? Talk about Gen X instead. Geez.

Yes, I’ve been kind of a Debbie Downer this week and it’s only Tuesday! Aging used to not scare me but now it is. Just a little. It doesn’t help that the general mood around me has been gloomy too.

We have to do something.

I’m motivated to do something.

Let’s do something about it.


Let’s do something!


Have a cocktail.

(Yes, I am quite aware that the last three recipe posts have been cocktails.)


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$200 Purebred Thanksgiving Turkeys for the One Percent - Bloomberg TV

US "Secret" Deal With Saudis Backfires After Oil Minister Says US Should Cut First

Who could have seen this coming? With oil prices holding at 4-year lows, heavily pressuring around half of US shale production economics, the “secret” US deal (see here and here) with Saudi Arabia to crush Russia via oil over-supply in a slumping demand world appears to be backfiring rapidly for John Kerry and his strategery team. Capable of withstanding considerably lower prices for longer, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi proclaimed "no one should cut production and the market will stabilize itself," adding rather ominously (for the US economy and HY default rates), "Why should Saudi Arabia cut? The U.S. is a big producer too now. Should they cut?"

As Reuters reports,

OPEC leader Saudi Arabia signaled on Wednesday it was unlikely to push for a major change in oil output at the producer group’s meeting this week, a day after Russia refused to cooperate in any production cut. Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said he expected the oil market “to stabilize itself eventually.”

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said some OPEC members, although not Iran itself, were gearing up for a battle over market share and insisted that non-OPEC producers needed to participate in any OPEC-led output cut.

"The most important thing for all of us is the unity and solidarity of OPEC, and in this situation I believe we need to have the contribution of non-OPEC producers for managing the market,” Zangeneh told reporters.

"Some OPEC members believe that this is the time where we need to defend market share … All the experts in the market believe we have oversupply in the market and next year we will have more oversupply,” he added.

Which led the Saudi Minister to comment…

"Why should Saudi Arabia cut? The U.S. is a big producer too now. Should they cut?"


*  *  *

And the reaction not good - 4-year lows

*  *  *

Here’s who faces problems…

*   *  *

With prices expected to drop to $60 on no cut, maybe the “unequivocally
good” news for the US economy from lower oil prices should be rethunk.

Cultural Currency: What Our Money Says About Us

Besides finally giving us the chance to see one of our cats on a hundred-dollar bill, Merna Foster’s petition to put Canadian women back on Canadian currency is notable for being one of the few major public responses to our latest bank notes that hasn’t focused mostly on how they could melt. Even in the plastic age, money is ubiquitous enough—and attached to enough other, far more anxious, concerns—that it’s easy to forget that it’s designed with a specific purpose. Still, the designs on each bill can sometimes feel like a mainline into the wavering national identity, or at least the intentional and unintentional national bugaboos of whichever government got final say on the pictures.


Research an actual company that is similar to your Virtual Organization (choose one ).  Find an ethical dilemma that they have encountered.   Write a 700- to 1,050-word paper explaining the ethical dilemma(s) and the solutions implemented to resolve the dilemma. Address the following points: How will you prevent these dilemmas from occurring in your Virtual Organization (i.e. training methods)?  A minimum of 2 references is required with corresponding in text citations.   Use APA formatting guidelines

The Mystery Of Surging Q3 GDP Explained And Why Americans Are Suddenly $80 Billion "Poorer"

The final major datapoint of the day was the Consumer Income and Spending data from the US Dept of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the same outfit that yesterday shocked everyone with just how much better US GDP was. Well, today, we learned just where the offset came from. Because while on the surface, both income (+0.2%) and spending (+0.2%) missed expectations of a 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively…

… it was the revised data that the US department of data fudging once again showed why it has long since surpassed China.

Behold what is perhaps the most important data series in all of US eco: Disposable Personal Income. We say behold, because there are some rather massive variations between what the BEA reported a month ago, and what it reported today, as relates to all the data issued since March. To wit:

Essentially, the just reported Disposable Persona; Income print of $13.109 trillion as of the end of October, is where according to the old, unrevised data US houshold income was some time in August. Whatever happened to two months of income?

Which brings us to the other all important number: the personal savings rate. At just reported at 5.0%…

… something strucks us: this number was reported at 5.6% last month.

And sure enough, since Disposable Personal Income flows into personal savings, net of outlays, it was clear that American savings would be dramatically impacted as a result of the massive data revision.

Sure enough, this is how the US personal savings rate looked like based on the old and just revised data.

And, the punchline: US savings in absolute terms, an $80 billion decline in savings from the old September print and the latest, post-revision, number of just over $650 billion.

So there you have it: in order to “suggest” that the US economy had grown by a far greater than expected run-rate, the BEA was forced to revise away personal income, and “assume” these had instead been invested in the US economy, in the form of a surge of durable goods purchases. Sure enough, while both incomes and savings tumbled, spending magically surged:

So if that “statistical” amount of money you thought you had saved in the BEA’s savings.xls spreadsheet just dropped by 10%, fear not dear Americans: it was all used for a good cause: to fabricate a much stronger than expected Q3 GDP number.

Source: BEA

The previously unreported leak, recounted in interviews with the lawyers briefed on the matter who spoke anonymously because the episode is not public, illustrates the blurred lines between Wall Street and the government — and the potential conflicts of interest that can result. When Goldman hired the former New York Fed regulator, who is 29, it assigned him to advise the same type of banks that he once policed. And the banker obtained confidential information, along with several publicly available facts, in the course of assignments from his bosses at Goldman, the lawyers said.

The information provided Goldman a window into the New York Fed’s private insights, the lawyers said, including details about at least one of Goldman’s clients, a midsize bank regulated by the Fed. Although it is unclear how Goldman bankers used the information, if at all, the confidential details could have helped them advise the client.

The emergence of the leak comes as questions mount about a perceived coziness between the New York Fed and Wall Street banks — Goldman in particular. Revelations from a former New York Fed employee, Carmen Segarra, recently stoked that debate. Ms. Segarra released taped conversations suggesting that her supervisors went soft on Goldman, specifically over a deal that one regulator called “legal, but shady.” Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a senior Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, plans to hold a hearing on Friday about Ms. Segarra’s accusations.

On the same day in September that ProPublica and the radio program “This American Life” released excerpts from Ms. Segarra’s tapes, Goldman stopped the unrelated leak of confidential New York Fed records. Although it is unclear whether the Goldman banker or the New York Fed employee knew that sharing such information was inappropriate — and federal rules are somewhat vague about what records are confidential — Goldman promptly fired the banker. The bank also fired one of his supervisors, saying he should have caught the leak. The New York Fed then fired the employee it suspected of sharing the information.

Bitcoin Bargains Make Black Friday at Amazon Even Bigger

Amazon is jumping the gun this year by already starting their “Black Friday” sales five days early. Although Amazon does not accept bitcoin, using bitcoin for these purchases can drop an additional 10 to 25% off of some of the best prices on the Internet. If there ever was a time and place to spend your bitcoin – this might be it. As Amazon is the biggest on-line retailer, using your bitcoin for purchases might send the message that bitcoin is here to stay. Perhaps proof of this fact may finally drag them kicking and screaming into the future.

New bitcoin broker and escrow services allow you to spend your bitcoin in an effort to gain significant discount over the Black Friday deals.  Simply using bitcoin in this unique transaction model might allow you the additional funds to purchase many more Holiday gifts this year.

Prerequisites, what you need to begin:

  • An account with Amazon.com. Preferably with Amazon Prime, which offers free shipping for all items marked as “prime”. This allows the transaction to complete much quicker for all parties.
  • Bitcoin to spend, preferably with a quick way to replenish the bitcoin you’ve just spent. If you are a US resident, an account with circle.com will allow you to transfer money from your regular bank account to circle.com and have it converted to bitcoin instantaneously for free. Other bitcoin exchanges such as Coinbase may charge a 1% fee for the purchase and it may take a few days depending on your account options.
  • An account on Purse.io or Brawker.com bitcoin escrow/broker service that will make the arrangements to sell your bitcoin at a profit for you that is exchanged for the purchase. Note: Brawker.com has the advantage of  using Multisig wallets.

How to get your discount:

  1.       Go shopping on Amazon.com.  For each item you select for purchase, rather than “add to cart”, simply choose the option next to it: “add to wish list”.
  2.       Once you’re done – give your wish list a name using the Amazon’s Wish List function. Once you see how cool it is, you may decide to do this again and it might be helpful to keep them straight.
  3.       Copy the URL from Amazon’s website and paste it into the discount bitcoin broker of your choice.
  4.       Decide on how much of a discount you are going to ask for. 10% – 25% This will be the same amount of premium somebody will pay for your bitcoin over the spot price you paid to the bitcoin broker site. Generally the lower the discount you want, the faster you will see offers come in for it to be purchased. At around 10% you’ll be competitive with localized bitcoin ATM machines and it should go very quickly.
  5.       They will put the wish list ‘package’ up for sale for people with credit cards willing to pay for your purchases and receive your bitcoin in return. This money is held in escrow at the brokerage sites until both parties have agreed the transaction was successfully concluded.
  6.       You can choose to accept the offers to purchase your wish-list. Once the offer is accepted, the buyer has a short window of time to use the Amazon link you’ve provided to pay for you’re the items on your list.
  7.       Both the buyer and seller are encouraged to leave feedback for the other for a reputation system to develop. There is a messaging system inside these systems and it’s important to communicate to avoid misunderstandings and coordinate if there is a delay in shipping or other complications that happen in life from time to time.

Why a buyer would want your bitcoin for 10-25% over market price?

  • This method allows bitcoin purchases without having to have a bank account to send expensive wire transfers. Paying the 10-25% premium can be easier and quicker in parts of the world that discourage or forbid the purchase of bitcoin.
  • Some people without bank accounts do online work and can be paid in Amazon credits. This service allows them to expend those credits and transfer the value into bitcoin. If they wish, they can then take the bitcoin to their local exchange for their national currency.

Why would you want to spend your bitcoin?

  • Obviously a discount is money saved and speaks for itself.
  • This benefits Bitcoiners because it spreads the bitcoin out to more population. The more users of bitcoin the better and more valuable it becomes. This demonstrates to merchants that investment into bitcoin payment processing is a worthwhile investment.
  • The point some Bitcoiners miss when they consider actually spending their precious bitcoins is they aren’t out anything. If they spend $100 worth of bitcoin, then buy more right after they’ve spent it, their net difference is nothing. Bitcoin just became the conduit for the payment.

What could go wrong? Why it’s probably not for everyone.

  • This is still a relatively new concept. Reputations are still being created; it’s possible that a buyer or seller may be slow finishing their part of the process.
  • It’s important to use the reputation system that develops as the market matures. Perhaps consider allowing smaller purchases for less established bitcoin buyers.
  • Amazon’s wish-list includes the name and city of the shopper, although there are re-mailing services that can be used to keep your location private.
  • The bitcoin buyer will see all the items on your list; ask yourself if you are okay with that.

It’s possibly a win-win-win-win-win situation.

  • Amazon sales increase
  • You get a significant discount on already heavily discounted items
  • The buyer gets the bitcoin they want
  • The bitcoin broker establishes a new business model
  • The entire Bitcoin community benefits from increased exposure and possible price increase

Author’s note: Neither the author nor Bitcoin Magazine is advocating the use of any of these services; this should be considered an information piece for a new bitcoin business model only. Brawker also allows use with other retailers; see their website for details.

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