Categories: Economy

Rachel Whetstone, Uber’s head of communications has resigned from her position after serving for two years. Jill Hazelbaker, the top deputy of Whetstone, will take over the position as SVP global public policy and communications. Hazelbaker will head a 300-person department.

Hazelbaker was recently head of communications at Snap briefly. When Senator John McCain ran for president, Hazelbaker was among his staff. She also worked for Conservative politician Michael Howard early in her career.

Through an internal email, Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO, said, “I wanted to let you know that Rachel Whetstone who heads up policy and communications globally has decided to leave Uber. Since joining in 2015, Rachel has blown us all away with her ability to get stuff done. She is a force of nature, an extraordinary talent and an amazing player-coach who has built a first-class organization.”

Uber had a market value of $70 billion in 2015.

Whetstone issued a statement: “I am incredibly proud of the team that we have built- and that just as when I left Google, a strong and brilliant woman will be taking my place. I joined Uber because I love the product- and that love is as strong today as it was when I booked my very first ride six years ago.”

Kalanick intends to tap on Whetstone as an adviser. Kalanick wrote, “I am looking forward to having her as an adviser for years to come, with many more long hikes along Skyline Trail.”

Uber continues its rough start to the year. Last month, Uber president Jeff Jones resigned when the Company looked for a chief operating officer. There were also allegations of harassment at Uber by former engineer Susan Fowler which led to former attorney general Eric Holder investigating the case.

Also, Kalanick was caught on a video arguing with an Uber driver, an incident which damaged Uber’s reputation and compelled him to issue an apology and to declare that he needed “leadership help”.

Earlier this year, Uber lost thousands of accounts because of the #DeleteUber boycott campaign. This month, Uber was not allowed to do business in Italy while in London, a protest was staged against Uber by Black cab drivers. Also, Uber has a legal battle with Waymo, regarding driverless car technology. Waymo is a sister company of Google.

Whetstone was instrumental in helping address Uber’s PR crisis. One of her directives was to issue an advanced external investigation into the sexual harassment case of Susan Fowler.

Another high-profile resignation for Uber was Amit Singhal who was Head of Engineering who was tainted with sexual harassment allegations during his stint at Google. Ed Baker, VP of product and growth also resigned last month.

Other Uber executives that left include Raffi Krikorian who was in the self-driving car department and Brian McClendon who was VP for maps and business platform.

Uber increased their senior female executives at the start of 2017 by hiring Liane Hornsey, as human resource head. She was also a former Google executive.

Categories: Uncategorized

Germany got a surprise boost in their industrial output as well as an increase in trade surplus for the month of February. The construction sector led the way for industrial production to go beyond forecast.

According to their federal statistics authority, Destatis, the country boosted production by 2.2 for February compared to January numbers. Financial services Factset only forecasted an increase of 0.3%.

The Economy Ministry in Berlin, said, “Manufacturing orders recovered after a sharp decline at the start of the year. Order intake was lower than in the very strong fourth quarter, which was characterized by bulk orders. However, the volume of orders, as well as the business climate in the manufacturing sector, rose, and a slight upturn in manufacturing is to be expected.”

In the previous months, it was cold weather that slowed down construction. According to figures, the output of investment goods went up by 1.1% and for consumption goods, an increase of 1.4%.

Meanwhile, Germany’s February trade surplus surged to 21 billion euros ($22 billion). According to the data, exports rose by 0.8% in February to 104.9 billion euros worth of exports while imports declined by 1.6% to fall to 83.8 billion euros. In January, Germany had a trade surplus of 18.5 billion euros.

Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Bank, described the boost in industrial production as “whopping.” Brzerski said, “German industry finally returns as a growth engine. No, it’s not a spelling mistake. Today’s data suggest that industrial production could finally return as a growth engine for the German economy.”

Alexander Krueger, an economist at Bankhaus Lampe, said, “the increase in orders was important- otherwise concerns about production would definitely have been warranted.”

The industrial production report was given a day after Germany reported that German factory orders improved in February. All these strings of good news led to Citigroup raised the country’s estimate for its 1st quarter economic growth to 0.7%, up from 0.5%.

Andreas Rees, chief German economist at Unicredit, said, “All is set for brisk growth led by the resurgence in global trade and its positive impact on German industrial activity.”

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to renegotiate trade practices with countries that have substantial trade surplus against America. The Commerce Department showed that in February, the U.S. trade deficit with Germany has fallen to its lowest level in more than four years at $3.9 billion.

U.S. economic adviser Peter Navarro has accused Germany of exploiting its “grossly undervalued” currency to boost its competitiveness.

Sophia Krietenbrink, an economist at Germany’s DIHK Chambers of Commerce, noted that Germany’s industrial sector seems insulated from the international political risks.

Brzeski said, “The Brexit negotiations and a possible further weakening of the pound sterling, protectionist measures from the Trump administration and negative growth surprises from China pose a clear risk to the German economy.”

Other recent economic data for Germany include falling unemployment, retail sales increasing, and services sector growing rapidly. However, engineering orders for February were flat because domestic orders lessened.

Categories: Economy

California-based Tesla Inc. beat analysts’ estimates of deliveries for the first quarter of 2017 by setting a record of 25,000 deliveries. Average forecast from three analysts was 24,200.

Tesla is targeting 50,000 deliveries for the 1st half of 2017.

Ben Kallo, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., said, “It’s all about the Model 3 right now, but this is very good news. 25,000 units is the best we could have thought, and people are looking at Model 3 for growth.”

Tesla reported deliveries of 13,450 Model S sedans as well as 11,550 Model X sport utility vehicles. Total production for the 1st quarter of this year was 25,418. Tesla said that around 4,660 vehicles were in transit to reach customers at the end of the 1st quarter. These figures will count as deliveries for the 2nd quarter. Tesla has not provided a full year production target for 2017.

All eyes are on its Model 3 debut in July. It will be its first high-volume, low-priced vehicle. It intends to make its other vehicles more exclusive. Starting price for the Model 3 is seen to be at $35,000. Model X and Model S are both priced above $70,000.

Tesla’s stock has gone up 30% this year because of positive expectations for the Model 3 and the recent 5% stake investment of Tencent Holdings Inc. in Tesla. Tencent’s stake is valued at over $2.2 billion. Tencent is now Tesla’s fifth largest shareholder. Other major investors of Tesla include Bailie Gifford and T Rowe Price.

Current market value of Tesla is at $45.4 billion. Last month, Tesla was able to raise more than $1.2 billion using stock and debt sale. This will help finance expenses related to making Model 3.

Tesla made a profit for the first time in three years in the 3rd quarter of 2016 but was unable to sustain it the following quarter and posted a $121 million loss. Analysts expect Tesla to make a loss of $125 for the first quarter of 2017 according to a survey done by S&P Capital IQ.

Tesla will discontinue its Model S vehicle on April 17. For 2018, Tesla seeks to build half a million cars at its $5 billion Gigafactory east of Reno, Nevada. It will also produce in its Gigafactory residential storage technology that could power homes using solar energy. Also, the Gigafactory would build lithium-ion cells that are required for the vehicle battery packs.

Tesla uses quarterly sales figures compared to monthly figures provided by other vehicle makers. A delivery only counts if the car is completely transferred to the customer.

Tesla’s Model 3 will be sold in major markets including India. Deliveries for the Model 3 will start at the end of this year. Tesla seeks to get a footprint in China where Tencent’s investment might help them penetrate the market. Tesla is the U.S. youngest car maker.

Musk also has other grand plans outside Tesla. He has SpaceX which aims to bring humans to space in 2018 as well as Neuralink, which seeks to have the brain utilize artificial intelligence.

Categories: Economy

Retired senior couple looking at  copyspace

Many Americans will know the worry and concerns that can arise when it comes to funds for retirement. As many reports have illustrated, there is a retirement crisis looming whereby many people may find themselves without sufficient funds to continue with the standard of living that they have become accustomed to and some may even find themselves in a situation where they do not enough retirement income to cover basic day to day costs.

In a bid to try and help those who are worried about retirement funds and those who are nearing retirements, financial experts are now offering advice on the various considerations that people need to keep in mind when it comes to ensuring they have adequate money for their golden years. This, they believe, will help to make planning and organizing retirement far easier for people, which in turn will help to reduce financial stress and pressure.

Some of the key considerations

A number of considerations have been highlighted as being a crucial part of financial planning for consumers. One of the things that people are being advised to do is make sure they know their budget so that they can ensure they have money to fall back on should they need it. Rather than ploughing all money into investments and then leaving themselves short of ready cash experts are advising people to ensure they have around 12-18 months worth of money to cater for unexpected situations and financial emergencies. This will also eliminate the need to cash in investments too early, which will also impact on retirement funds.

Another thing that people are being urged to consider by financial experts is to ensure they know all of the sources of their retirement income so that they can budget more accurately. Although social security will cover part of the average person’s retirement income it will not be sufficient to fund retirement completely so people need to consider the other sources of retirement money that will be coming in so that they know how much they will be receiving in total.

A final and vital consideration that needs to be kept in mind is how much risk the person needs to or can afford to take when it comes to their investments. People are being warned not to make rash decisions or take risks that they know they cannot afford to as otherwise they will be left facing problems when it comes to having adequate money.  

Categories: Economy


The United Kingdom has been intensely clamping down on the payday loan industry for a couple of years now. Everything from reforming the way the industry operates to changing the way they seek government approval, the financial alternative has really been given a makeover in Britain.

With the crackdown, one would conclude that everything would be fine in the payday loan industry. Nope. According to a report, consumers are still experiencing troubles in this sector.

According to a new annual review report covering the 2015-2016 financial year, the Financial Ombudsman Service says complaints about payday loans have nearly tripled in the past year, even with rigorous regulations for the often chastised industry. The number of payday loan complaints rose 178 percent, from 1,157 to 3,216.

But the ombudsman isn’t really displeased with the numbers. In fact, this is a good thing, the report suggests, because it shows that consumers are beginning to be aware “of their rights when things go wrong.” Since the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has reined in the industry’s alleged unfair practices, which gained a lot of publicity, consumers are a lot more heightened to what is right and what is wrong.

The FCA officially came down on the payday loan industry in April 2014 with new rules and regulations. They consisted of capping interest rates and default charges, limiting payday loan advertisements, preventing customers with existing payday loans from taking out additional loans and mandating affordability checks on the part of payday loan stores.

The number of complaints may wane in the few years. The FCA notes that the number of loans from payday lenders has fallen from 6.3 million (2013) to 1.8 million (2015). Some wonder if the payday loan industry could ever really be trusted to operate on its own, given the number of complaints made even with additional regulations.

“Given by how much complaints increased it is hard to believe it is down to just a few bad apples, particularly after considerable market consolidation. But we welcome the fact people feel confident enough to raise complaints,’ said Carl Packman, research and good practice manager at anti-poverty charity Toynbee Hall, in an interview with the Daily Mail.

“Putting in place stronger measures of intervention for stressed customers such as more proactive advice signposting or information for self-help at the application stage would avoid the problems heard about today.”

Overall, the ombudsman received a total of 340,899 complaints regarding all financial products and services. This is up 3.5 percent from the previous year.

Some of the other complaints the ombudsman received were about payment protection insurance (PPI), which generated 188,700 complaints. Consumers are also griping about fee-charging packaged current accounts, which produces about 120 complaints per day. Here are some other common complaints submitted by consumers to the ombudsman:

  • Hire purchase (3,072)
  • Point-of-sale loans (2,071)
  • Catalogue shopping (939)
  • Debt collecting (707)
  • Credit Broking (563)

In the end, the ombudsman service says, solving the issues today will result in preventing further problems from happening in the future.

Categories: Economy

Retirement fund

A recent report has shown how the plans of many people who retire are being disrupted by unexpected events, with some factors more common than others. Many people who are nearing retirement make plans to do the things that they never got to do while working but no matter how carefully they plan some are finding it impossible to enjoy their retirement in the way they wanted to because of changes in their situations.

The report comes from an expert who has helped many executives plan for their retirement over the years. She said that many of her executives had spent years planning out their retirement but that even the best laid plans had been disrupted by events and unexpected issues that had arisen close to or just after retirement.

Some common issues affecting those retiring

According to the wealth expert, there are a number of very common factors that tend to affect the plans of those retiring or recently retired. She said that she had picked up on these trends over a period of years while working with clients who want to plan for a relaxing and enjoyable retirement with adequate funding and exciting plans.

One of these major problems is deteriorating health of parents. When people retire and still have their parents around, they are often at an age where their health can suffer considerably. This can result in problems for one or both of the retiree’s parents which in turn can have an effect on the ability and desire for those retiring to continue with their own retirement plans, particularly when it comes to plans such as travelling the world where it would involve being away from their families for long periods of time.

Another major factor highlighted by the industry expert was unused vacation homes. When people retire, many plan to spend time in vacation homes that they have invested in often with family members such as their children. However, by the time most people retire their kids are grown up and decide to move away, which results in retirees spending more time visiting their kids in whichever destination they have moved to than using the retirement home.

Finally, another common problem is where an adult child finds themselves in financial trouble, leaving the retired parents to help them out. This can eat into retirement savings and can make it very difficult for some to continue with their plans.

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