Toyota to pay $10 million in California crash case
Toyota Motors will be paying $10 million to settle a lawsuit filed by relatives of four people who were killed in an August 2009 Lexus ES 350 crash in California.
California highway patrol officer Mark Saylor, his wife Cleofe, their daughter Mahala and his brother-in-law Christopher Lastrella were killed in the accident near San Diego, which, according to investigators, was caused by wrong-sized floor mat that trapped the accelerator.
As the crash attracted media attention, it renewed government scrutiny of safety issues in connection with Toyota vehicles, leading to the recall of more than 6.5 million units in the United States.
Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles for repairs related to sudden unintended acceleration. In September 2009, the automaker announced a recall of 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles because of a defect that may cause floor mats to jam accelerator pedals. The company later recalled vehicles over defects involving the pedals themselves.
Toyota and the Saylor and Lastrella families reached a private, amicable settlement through mutual respect and cooperation without the involvement of the courts, so we are disappointed that the amount of this settlement has now been made public against the express wishes of these families and Toyota, the carmaker said in a statement on its website.
Earlier, on Monday, the carmaker agreed to pay an additional $32.425 million in civil penalties as the result of two separate investigations into the Japanese auto-maker's handling of auto recalls.
Toyota Motors US auto sales in November dropped by 3 percent compared to sales in November 2009, making it the only major automobile maker to report a sales drop for the month. The company sold 129,317 vehicles in November, as against 133,700 vehicles during the same period a year ago.
Daily currency analysis - Apr 21
by Darrell Jobman, Editor-in-Chief, TradingEducation.com, LLC
Daily currency analysis for Friday, April 18, 2008
The Euro stalled close to the 1.5950 level against the dollar on Friday and weakened sharply in early US trading. The Euro dipped to lows around 1.5710 before pushing back to 1.58 later in New York.
There were no significant data releases during the day with the main focus on asset markets. The results from Citigroup contained a lower than expected figure for debt write-downs and this boosted confidence that Wall Street banks could manage the credit and economic risks. There have also been generally favourable US corporate results over the past 24 hours, notably from Google, which has boosted optimism in the wider economy and US financial markets.
Some optimism that the credit crunch could be easing also increased speculation that the Federal Reserve would be less inclined to cut interest rates aggressively at the end-April meting. These expectations were also fuelled by the more cautious remarks from Fed officials over the past 24 hours.
Futures markets were indicating that the chances of a 0.50% rate cut at the FOMC meeting had fallen to below 10%. In this environment, the dollar has secured a correction on yield and risk appetite grounds.
ECB members maintained a tough stance on inflation during Friday and this will tend to limit the scope for Euro selling in the short term. There was, however, evidence that central bank Euro buying had eased significantly on Friday with a possible perception that the Euro offered little value at current levels. Official comments on currencies will continue to be watched very closely next week.
The dollar held above the 102.0 level against the Japanese currency in Asian trading on Friday with yen demand still at reduced levels.
Domestically, the Bank of Japan lowered its assessment of the economic view while consumer confidence was slightly weaker than expected which will reinforce unease over the economic trends.
Global risk tolerances will tend to remain dominant in the short term. US corporate earnings results were generally close to or above expectations with lower debt write-downs than expected and this improved risk appetite. Renewed interest in carry trades pushed the yen sharply weaker with lows near 104.65 against the dollar as Wall Street opened higher. The yen also weakened to 164.70 against the Euro before a correction. Yen trends will continue to be dominated by levels of risk aversion in the short term.
The UK currency found support close to the 0.80 level against the US dollar on Friday and pushed to highs around 0.7875 before correcting weaker to 0.7920. Sterling also challenged the 2.00 level against the dollar and was able to consolidate above the 1.99 level.
There was further evidence that the UK authorities were pushing towards an agreement to ease mortgage-related strains. The Bank of England is likely to accept around GBP30bn in mortgage-related securities in exchange for government bonds. If such measures can ease money-market rates this would ease pressure on the central bank to sanction a further aggressive near-term cut in interest rates.
The UK currency also gained support from an improvement in risk tolerances while there was speculation that the Royal Bank of Scotland rights issue would boost demand for Sterling given the extent of overseas ownership of the shares.
The Swiss currency weakened sharply on Friday with lows near 1.0280 against the US dollar while the franc also weakened to lows beyond 1.6150 against the Euro. The franc was able to regain some ground later in US trading with the currency over-sold on a short-term view.
The Swiss currency was undermined by an improvement in risk appetite which triggered renewed demand for high-yield currencies and lessened defensive support for the franc.
There was also some evidence of stop-loss franc selling given the number of long positions which had been built up over the past few weeks. Volatility is liable to remain higher in the short term.
The Australian dollar hit resistance close to the 0.94 level against the US dollar during Friday, but corrections were generally limited in local trading as the currency retained a firm tone.
Commodity prices have remained at elevated levels and the latest data reported a sharp rise in export prices which also boosted sentiment. There were no significant domestic influences and there will continue to be unease over the risk of a sharp slowdown in growth.
US dollar moves dominated in European and US trading and the Australian currency dipped to lows below the 0.93 level as the US currency gained ground while gold prices came under pressure.
The PBGC Retools: Charles Millard Defies Risk
At the heart of every financial transaction is risk. With few exceptions, the only way to increase what you have using investments is to shoulder some risk. This can work, growing your money and creating much more than if you had not done a thing. And if it doesn’t work, you could lose all of the money you invested or just a portion.
Even a grade school kid can understand that concept, albeit on a smaller scale, one akin to “if I give you my ball, will I get it back or will you lose it.” For the rest of their lives, they will always weigh those sorts of balances hovering between what could have happened had they taken the risk and what should have happened because they did not. Some of these kids grow up to be investors.
Investors should always have a clear understanding of what risk is and how to project its potential worth. Some do it better than others; some simply employ age-old techniques such as value investing or use extensive research and analytical tools to help offset what would otherwise be the gut instinct that almost all investors wished they had.
The best investors spurn these very human emotional impulses. These are not the ones who buy when the markets are on the way up and sell when they are on the way down but instead weigh the possibilities independent of what their gut suggests. They know that gut instinct is wholly unreliable over the long-term because risks can and almost always shift. Seasoned investors know this. Speculators thrive on it. Most folks get caught up in it and attempt to determine risks often with limited amounts of (much-needed) information.
Some investors should not take risks. By taking the low road so to speak and assuming no more risk than is absolutely necessary to protect the underlying investments and those they invest for, they are performing the job with fiduciary responsibility. But when they do not, no matter what they assume they can achieve of the skills they think they possess, they forget that risk exists.
Such is the new policy being hoisted on Congress by the PBGC. This new policy offered to Congress in lieu of a potential $14 billion deficit is expected to close that gap between solvency and trouble.
The previous investment policy invested in Treasuries and high yielding corporate bond. This now considered too conservative and over the long haul, will not close the gap. Only it wasn’t the old policy that was at fault.
If you are not aware how the PBGC operates, here is a brief explanation. It was created by the government just like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and like those troubled companies it is not inherently a government run entity. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation guarantees the promise of a pension made by certain companies to their workers mostly in the hope of garnering their long-term loyalty. Currently, pensions are only offered to about 21% of the workforce and by their nature, lack the portability that the wildly popular defined contribution plans have.
But as they became less profitable to these companies, because the stocks that the pension may have invested in have not performed as projected - that last phrase is key and worth remembering - they have begun to jettison these plans in a variety of ways. Sales, mergers, etc. have left pensioners and those who had been counting on these plans out in the cold as freezes, closures or defaults have increased over the last ten-years.
The PBGC essentially guarantees those pensions by collecting insurance premiums from companies who offer them. The $14 billion deficit is the direct result of these companies under-funding those promises, defaulting on their premiums and in the end, just turning over the poorly managed pension to the insurer.
Now the PBGC sees the way out using the stock market. If it “performs as projected” the deficit could be wiped out in a number of years, or as the new policy suggests, 20 years.
Ultimately, the goal is increase the profits of the portfolio without losing any money while doing so. Charles Millard, PBGC director is a former investment banker and Bush appointee who believes that turning to the stock market to erase the deficit between obligations the PBGC knows it has or will have in the future is sound management.
Do they really believe that they can gamble their way out of this mess? The author of the old plan, Zvi Bodie, a finance professor at Boston University doesn’t think so. Nor does he believe that the projections take into consideration the short-term movements of the stock market and the often sudden need to finance pensions that have defaulted.
Mr. Millard claims that too conservative of an investment model will ultimately put the taxpayer at risk. But there is growing concern that they are already at risk. While acknowledging that the plan to increase profits is not necessarily a bad one, the General Accounting Office or GAO, thinks that this is the wrong investor shouldering the risk.
One of the main concerns that the GAO has lies in the projections made by the risk assessment firm hired by the PBGC. In the new policy, the belief that if something hasn’t happened, it will not likely happen in the future does not sound as responsible as it should be. According to CFO.com, “The agency's investment targets now include 40 percent fixed-income, 39 percent equities, 10 percent real estate and private equity, 6 percent alternative equities, and 5 percent alternative fixed-income.”
Is this head-in-the-sand logic or perhaps just a way to shelve the problem for the next administration? It could be a response to the sudden swings in the number of fully funded pensions from $60 billion surplus just a year ago to a $110 billion shortfall this past July. While those companies react to these problems by shifting their investments from equities to much more conservative instruments to make up for those losses, Mr. Millard is taking his company in the opposite direction. While those of us who do not have a pension seem to care less, it will be all of us who eventually bear the burden should the new policy at the PBGC fail. Is there yet another bailout on the horizon?
Danish Retail Sales Fall In April
RTTNews - Tuesday, a report by Statistics Denmark said the retail sales volume fell a seasonally adjusted 0.6% month-on-month in April, after a 0.1% rise in the previous month.
Retail sales of food and groceries rose 0.2%, while sales of clothing and other consumer goods fell 1.1% and 1.3% respectively in the month.
Year-on-year, retail sales dropped 6.8% in April, faster than a 6.1% fall in March. During the month, retail sales of food and groceries slipped 1.3%, while sales of other consumer goods decreased 11.4%. Retail sales of clothing were down 8.9%.
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SCO summit agrees to adopt common currency
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), comprising Russia, China and four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics--Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan-- held their own summit Tuesday in the Russian Ural city of Yekaterinburg.
The leaders of SCO countries agreed to take Russia's proposal on using their national currencies in mutual settlements and introducing a common currency for the group.
The common currency would be similar to the European currency unit and the monetary union currency in 2013 of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries that include Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The common currency would be similar to the European currency unit and to the coming monetary union currency in 2013 of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries that include Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, also as expected, told the SCO summit that the Shanghai group member states should increase the share of their national currencies in mutual settlements to reduce dependence on the dollar and improve the health of the global financial system.
The current set of reserve currencies and the main reserve currency - the U.S. dollar - have failed to function as they should, Medvedev said.
He added that the Russian ruble could hopefully become a reserve currency in the foreseeable future.
The summit suggests that the dollar dominance as the world's prime reserve currency isn't on the road to expansion. Obviously the developing countries are clearly observing the unprecedented rise of U.S. debt that issued in U.S. dollars.
The SCO was set up as a security group, but has increasingly encompassed economic and energy projects. The alliance is seen as a counterbalance to U.S. interests in energy-rich Central Asia.
The name Kim Kardashian has become synonymous with glamor. Kardashian's flawlessly made-up face, expertly sartorial wardrobe and perfectly coiffed locks make the reality star a go-to for the paparazzi and a style inspiration for women.
There are countless YouTube tutorials on how to mimic Kardashian's makeup and hairstyles, created by fans who love Kardashian's glammed-up look. Even Oprah Winfrey could not help but mention Kim's appearance when she interviewed the family for her show, Oprah's Next Chapter.
Winfrey asked the reality star about her physical upkeep and Kardashian responded that it is in her nature to be a girly-girl. But, she also admits to being her worst critic, hesitating to describe herself as beautiful.
I hate to talk about myself like that. I'm so critical, she said. But I do feel pretty. Maintaining such good looks is no easy feat. It is a job, she added. Gym everyday. I've lasered everything.
Earlier this month, Kim and her sisters, Khloe and Kourtney, announced plans to launch their own makeup line, Khroma Beauty.
We're so excited to partner with Boldface Licensing+Branding on this new venture. There's a glam girl in all of us and it's a dream come true to have our own makeup line and to share it with women around the world, the Kardashian sisters said in a statement to E! News. Some Khroma Beauty products will be available in Ulta stores this December, like eyelashes, mascaras and Kardazzle Compacts. A full launch will happen in early 2013.
Makeup has been an essential part of our lives for so long. Like fashion, it's always changing and evolving just as we do and we can't wait to share this new venture with our fans! the sisters told E! News.
According to a news release, the upcoming makeup line will bring luxury feel and quality to the mass customer, with exquisite formulas to emulate the eyes, lips and complexion looks for which the Kardashian sisters are famous.
With an upcoming makeup line, it makes sense for the 31-year-old to finally divulge some of the more intimate details about her daily makeup and beauty routine.
So how does Kim Kardashian get ready each day?
To start my whole look, I have to feel really sensual and sexy, no matter if it's daytime [or] nighttime, Kardashian said in a video for Celebuzz, part of Buzz Media, which hosts the E! star's official website.
Right before I start getting ready, I spray my perfume all over me before I put my clothes on, she said. True Reflection is Kim Kardashian's third fragrance to date. It bursts with notes of citrusy bergamot and succulent peach with hints of coconut, gardenia and chocolate orchard.
True Reflection, to me, is the perfect day to nighttime fragrance. I think it really evolves as it's on you. So I think, always start off your look with feeling good about yourself and spraying some perfume.
To continue getting ready, Kim chooses her outfit first and then pairs her hairstyle and makeup with that particular ensemble.
Everyone knows this reality star loves taking typically casual clothes and making them a bit more chic with a structured blazer. Top off the look with heels and a textured top and you are good to go.
For daytime hair, she usually opts for a tight bun or loose, tousled waves. I think that's the best. To start off with a good blow-dry, she said.
The Dash co-owner makes sure her daytime makeup highlights her best features, not overpowers them. Even though she is known to have a heavy hand with cosmetics, Kim Kardashian reaches for natural hues like a light brown, taupe or some shimmer. And, of course, don't forget the nude, glossy lips.
In an interview with Look, she revealed the secret behind her flawless skin -- cleanliness!
I'm a big believer in simple products and I always make sure I cleanse, tone and moisturize religiously every day, she told the beauty and style website. I love a foamy cleanser, it makes me feel super-clean.
As for her bronzed glow, Kardashian suggests applying your fake tan before you go to bed, then when you wake up you're gorgeously glowing.
Check out Kim Kardashian's beauty and style tutorial below, plus some of her best looks in the following slideshow.