Here’s How People Define Financial Success Around The World

JULIE ZEVELOFF , BusinessInsider

In a recent survey of affluent people in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Mastercard found that people’s definitions of success varied widely depending on where they were from.

The survey looked at affluent people in the region, who are, on average, age 37, have one young child, and have investible assets of at least $200,000. The affluent population is growing quickly in the region, which is expected to be home to 70% of the world’s affluent by 2017.

Mastercard found that overall, in addition to finding satisfaction in buying and owning luxury goods, affluent people in the region view “wealth as the catalyst to experience the world.”

There are, however, some variations by country, as detailed in the map below:

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U.S. Seeks to Revise Rules on Gas-Export Projects

Proposal Could Push Back Approval Process for Some Companies’ LNG Permit Requests

By ALICIA MUNDY and ALISON SIDER  WSJ.com

Cheniere is well-positioned to export liquefied natural gas. Pictured, its LNG terminal in Louisiana last year. Cheniere Energy/Bloomberg News
The Obama administration said it would perform a more rigorous upfront review of proposals to export liquefied natural gas, offering a mixed bag for the roughly two dozen projects seeking federal approval.

The U.S., which is enjoying a natural-gas boom, is expected to start exporting LNG in significant volume next year. The administration has only approved one export facility, but about 25 additional proposed projects are under review. A few projects far along in the approval process could benefit from the proposed rules change because they could be cleared as others are delayed by the new requirements.

The Energy Department said Thursday that the proposed revisions would require export-terminal proposals to first undergo a more expensive regulatory review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission involving an environmental impact assessment before the DOE reviews the permit application. The DOE previously was granting conditional approval either parallel to or before completion of the environmental review, a process that allowed companies to get a project started with a smaller financial commitment.

The proposal could push back the approval process for some companies’ LNG permit requests, while more-advanced proposed projects are expected to be able to jump forward in the queue.

“The proposed changes to the manner in which LNG applications are ordered and processed will ensure our process is efficient by prioritizing resources on the more commercially advanced projects,” DOE Assistant Secretary Christopher Smith wrote in a blog post on the department’s website.

Kevin Book, of ClearView Energy Partners LLC, said under the proposal, energy companies will need to clear the environmental review before they can raise capital or secure loans to build LNG export terminals.

Houston-based Cheniere Energy Inc. LNG +8.94% is the only company that has already attained all the required permits to export natural gas from the U.S. to any country in the world. Its Gulf Coast plant in Louisiana is under construction and on track to begin shipping LNG in late 2015.

Oregon LNG’s proposed export facility in Warrenton, Ore., is the next one in the Energy Department’s queue. Chief Executive Peter Hansen said the company’s request for conditional export approval is probably just weeks away, based on how the department has processed other applications. He said it wasn’t clear whether the revised procedure could change the timeline. Oregon LNG is in good shape to move forward with Asian and North American partners, once the permits are in place, he said.

Mr. Hansen said the DOE’s proposal makes sense; as it stands, coordination between the DOE and FERC could be improved. “When you do sort of look at the fact that a lot of the projects that are fairly high up on DOE’s list—some of those haven’t done much yet. They’re barely real. And yet there are projects that are clearly real much further down,” he said. “Maybe the DOE queue wasn’t really reflective of the real world.”

The proposal is subject to a 45-day public review and comment period before the rules can be made final.

Write to Alicia Mundy at alicia.mundy@wsj.com and Alison Sider at alison.sider@wsj.com

BusinessUkraine™ – Crowd-funding the country’s economic rebirth.

TurboBoosting American Exports – Disruption of The World’s Second Most Ancient Profession

ExportBoost™ dovetails with the NEI/Next Announced By Hon. Penny Pritzker, The Secretary of Commerce

By: Alexander Gordin

International trade is thought to have its roots in 19th century BC with Assyrian merchants. Over centuries the business of exports  changed dramatically with evolution in transport modes,  advent of incoterms, standardized shipping containers and  computerized customs clearance. Yet for all the progress and record $2.3 trillion amount, exports in the US still remain a complex and not terribly efficient process.  Multiple players involved in exports are still largely silo(ed). Even at large companies export related functions like international sales, legal, shipping, banking, financing and insurance often have difficulty communicating with one another. Concepts such as international payment protection mechanisms, US content policy, or US flag shipping requirements are often misunderstood.

Generally, business approach to managing export transactions is reactive, rather than proactive. Situation is even more difficult in small and mid-size businesses where resources are significantly more scant. A relatively small percentage of businesses export. Of those that do, a large portion exports to only one country. Expanded exports of goods and services represent amazing possibilities not only to help companies grow their profits and shareholder returns, but also to benefit our nation’s economy by creating new jobs and generating additional tax revenues.

President Obama’s National Export Initiative has served as a catalyst to spur job growth and along with general economic recovery led to a resurgence of manufacturing activity. More needs to be done, and companies should focus on exports as a fundamental part of their business activities, rather than an afterthought. The entire export ecosystem is ripe for disruption and entry into the technological age. I can envision a day in the very near future when shipping containers of foodstuffs, plane loads of licensed computer equipment, dozens of Ro Ro tractors, or construction cranes will be as simple as buying individual items on eBay or Amazon.  Of course handling export transactions is infinitely more complex and requires signed multilingual contracts, letters of credit, export credit and freight insurance, licensing, quality inspections and complex shipping arrangements. Thus the disruption process that is being put in  place needs to account for the nuanced complexity that characterizes exports.

Fi3E BadgeA week ago the world witnessed the first step in this transformation. ExportBoost™ – a new curated service guaranteed to help small and mid-size companies to at least double their present exports in 18 months – was  recently unveiled  by the Broad Street Capital Group (“BSCG”) at the Annual Conference of the Export – Import Bank of the United States (“US Ex-Im Bank”). Specifically developed for US manufacturers and distributors with revenues of between $5 and $750 million and for providers of professional services , ExportBoost™ uses proprietary export building methodology and tools such as: Fi3E™ Export Indices, XPORTINSURE™, FinanceABLE™ and EZShip™  to greatly simplify export operations and mitigate international business risks. ExportBoost™ was designed to help small and medium companies who are either experienced exporters, or just looking to start their international expansion to significantly grow their exports.fi180_cover

ExportBoost™ service has two tiers – one where the exporter is guided by the Broad Street Capital’s professionals and implements the program internally and the second where Broad Street Capital Group implements ExportBoost™ on its client’s behalf. In either case, the clients will be offered a unique guarantee, should they follow the program and their exports do not at least double in 18 months, Broad Street Capital Group will refund all the fees paid by the clients for the ExportBoost™ service. ExportBoost™ is the first product of the very ambitious project being developed by the Broad Street Capital Group and its partners to greatly streamline international trading operations. The project codenamed “Barbell” is scheduled to be unveiled at the Broad Street’s annual conference later this year.

Why Exports Will Help More American Businesses Thrive

Hon. Penny Pritzker, LinkedIn

American businesses are driving economic growth and creating good jobs through exporting.

The President’s National Export Initiative (NEI) has been a remarkable success:

The United States has had four straight record-breaking years of exports. We hit an all-time high of $2.3 trillion dollars last year – up $700 billion from 2009.
Nearly one-third of our economic growth since mid-2009 has been driven by exports.
Nearly 30,000 businesses have started exporting for the first time.
And most importantly, 1.6 million more Americans have export-supported jobs, bringing the total to 11.3 million – the highest in 20 years.
In addition, exports have been the driving force behind growth in communities across the country. In fact, exports account for nearly all of the post-recession growth in cities like Albuquerque, Youngstown, Detroit, and Kansas City.

Clearly, foreign demand for U.S. goods and services is helping American families gain economic security – buying more homes and cars, saving for college and retirement, or simply heading for a night out.

Each day, more Americans appreciate the fact that 95 percent of the world’s customers are outside our borders. Our trade partners want what U.S. businesses have to offer – from consumer goods to infrastructure products – and everything in between.

Yesterday, we unveiled NEI/NEXT – the next phase of the National Export Initiative. This is a data-based, customer service-driven initiative to ensure that more American businesses can fully capitalize on markets that are opening up around the world.

NEI/NEXT is focused on 5 strategies:

We will help businesses find their NEXT customer abroad.
We will increase the efficiency of a company’s first and NEXT shipment.
We will help firms finance their NEXT order.
We will help communities integrate trade and investment into their NEXT growth plans.
And we will open up the NEXT big markets around the world while ensuring a level playing field.
In a number of these areas, we are already making progress. For example, we are customizing our export promotion efforts through initiatives such as:

Look South, which is focused on maximizing the potential of our 11 free trade agreements in Latin America. Already, our Look South team has created more than 100 tailored guides that show where American products are in highest demand across the region – from auto parts in Honduras to medical devices in Colombia. Therefore, a company expanding into one Latin American market can expand into all 11 with only a little extra effort.
In addition, the Department of Homeland Security is spearheading the implementation of the “single window” by the end of 2016. This effort will enable businesses to use just one electronic platform to complete the forms needed by dozens of federal agencies. It also is smart regulatory reform that will streamline, simplify, and automate processes – saving government and businesses precious time and money. In a fiercely competitive global economy, there is no room for unnecessary delays at borders and entry points.
Also as part of NEI/NEXT, the Small Business Administration and the Export-Import Bank will equip more community banks to offer federal export-financing tools. Traditional credit is still hard-to-find for too many potential exporters – even for creditworthy firms with eager customers waiting abroad. Through NEI/NEXT, we will increase the number of partners in the financial industry who offer federally-backed working-capital loans, loan guarantees, and insurance.

Finally, the Administration will continue to advocate for an overall environment in which American exporters and their workers can thrive. In particular, we are encouraging Congress to invest more in infrastructure and to support trade agreements that reflect our values – such as the Trans Pacific Partnership.

For America to remain competitive, we need more businesses to see the success stories of companies like JWB Manufacturing, based in Tempe, Arizona. This firm produces blades for carpentry tools and precision machinery and our commercial service team helped them break into new markets. In fact, JWB now sells in 12 countries in every corner of the world – including Mexico, Malaysia, Brazil, and Australia – and exports now account for 40 percent of their business. Owner Jeff Barth recently told us that “there is nothing to fear in exporting outside our borders. My international clients have been nothing but gracious, and I encourage other small businesses to realize the power of exports to help their business succeed.”

Ultimately, NEI/NEXT will help create the environment in which more businesses of every size – and their workers – adopt that same mindset.

My commitment is that this Administration will continue to support American businesses as we roll out NEI/NEXT… as our exporters create even more good jobs… and as we continue to send the clear message that America is Open for Business.

Let’s get to work.

Photo: Pixomar/Shutterstock

U.S. companies get hurt by sanctions targeting Russia

By Adam Shell, USAToday


AP FILE
John Deere lowered its profit forecast for the rest of its fiscal year, placing part of the blame on slower sales of tractors and other equipment in Russia, Ukraine and other ex-Soviet republics related to the economic sanctions levied against Russia. (Seth Perlman, AP)
The economic sanctions the United States imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis don’t hurt only the Russian economy. They hurt some U.S. companies that do business in Russia, too.

John Deere, which makes heavy farm equipment and has two factories in Russia, was the latest company to blame weaker sales on economic sanctions. Despite beating its fiscal second-quarter earnings by 16 cents, the company best-known for its green and yellow tractors, cut its full-year outlook, saying sales of its tractors and harvesters would fall “significantly” in Ukraine, Russia and other ex-Soviet republics. The company cited credit restrictions by its customers there for the weak outlook.

Shares of John Deere were down 2.2% to $91.58.

The United States and European Union are trying to pressure Russia into dialing back its involvement in the political affairs of Ukraine by imposing economic sanctions that target banks and dozens of officials.

U.S. companies view Russia as a “growth” market, and they do about $40 billion worth of business annually with Russia.

A man and a little girl look at a closed McDonald’s in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, on April 4. The U.S. fast-food giant said it was temporarily shutting its three stores in Crimea after the Ukrainian peninsula’s annexation by Russia. (YURIY LASHOV, AFP/Getty Images)

After Russia’s annexation of Crimea, McDonald’s closed three of its fast-food outlets there. The company said it had to cut evening hours in some stores in the region because of less foot traffic. The hamburger giant has more than 400 stores in Russia and gets roughly 9% of its revenue there.

DuPont, which has a big agriculture business, said its customers in Ukraine are deferring or reducing seed purchases because of difficulties in obtaining credit. Visa and MasterCard also feel the pain as sanctions levied against a handful of Russian banks forced them to stop servicing those banks. Bank customers that hold Visa or MasterCard credit cards can’t use them to make purchases.

 

 

US Businesses Are Freaking About Sanctions Against Russia

BusinessInsider CARL SCHRECK, RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY

When thousands of fans packed Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena this week to rock out to the music of U.S. industrial metal band Nine Inch Nails, they likely gave little thought to the Russian industrialists who own the venue.

Not so the organizers of the concert, who had to reckon with the fact that the arena’s three owners — billionaire associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin — have been hit with U.S. sanctions in response to the Ukraine crisis.

Ensuring the show can go on is something many U.S. companies and entrepreneurs are wrestling with as they try to determine whether they are unwittingly violating U.S. sanctions. In doing so, they often find themselves entering a legal minefield as they try to make sense of the Russian business world’s often Byzantine ownership structures.

“It is a huge concern,” said Serena Moe, a sanctions expert with the law firm Wiley Rein in Washington.

The complex chains of ownership and control that permeate the Russian economy are causing jitters among U.S. businesses in a range of sectors, including energy, banking, and entertainment, according to Washington-based sanctions lawyers who spoke to RFE/RL.

The attorneys say current and prospective clients — ranging from small firms to multinational corporations — have been peppering them with Russia-related inquiries ever since the Kremlin’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March.

“We’re getting probably five or six a week,” said Rebecca Hartley, a sanctions lawyer with the law firm Bingham in Washington.

Cortney O’Toole Morgan, a lawyer at Husch Blackwell, said her firm has received three or four calls from companies concerned about murky Russian ownership structures, including from a talent company staging performances throughout the world.

“They’re trying to figure out whether those can still go on and where the funding’s coming from,” she told RFE/RL.

So far the United States has sanctioned senior Russian officials and wealthy businessmen seen as close to Putin, as well as several companies, while holding off on broader sanctions targeting sectors of the Russian economy.

But the wealth and influence of the sanctioned individuals alone has prompted U.S. businesses to examine their connections in the country.

“Typically…my clients don’t transact with a Vladimir Yakunin. They transact with entities in which he may have an interest,” said Richard Matheny, a partner at the law firm Goodwin Procter who has been contacted by about a dozen clients about the Russia sanctions.

Yakunin, the influential head of Russian Railways, is among the 45 individuals and 19 firms that the Obama administration has slapped with asset freezes and U.S. visa bans in response to the Crimea annexation and what the Obama administration calls Russia’s destabilization of the situation in Ukraine.
ALSO READ: From ‘Darth Vader’ To ‘The Wolf’ — A Who’s Who Of Putin’s Sanctioned ‘Insiders’

Others include billionaire brothers Boris and Arkady Rotenberg and oil trader Gennady Timchenko, who together purchased the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki last year. The U.S. Treasury Department has said the three men, whose wealth has soared during Putin’s 14 years in power, are part of the Russian president’s “inner circle.”

“Where you’ve got the individuals who are themselves extraordinarily wealthy and invest widely, any potential investment has to be looked at hard,” said Moe, a former deputy chief counsel with the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which administers and enforces economic sanctions.

The 50-Percent Rule

Once an individual is placed on an OFAC sanctions list, it becomes illegal for U.S. citizens and businesses to engage in transactions with entities in which that individual has an ownership stake of 50 percent or more.

If the sanctioned individual’s stake is less than 50 percent, U.S. citizens and companies are allowed to do business with the firm, even if even it is owned by several sanctioned persons whose cumulative stakes exceed 50 percent but whose individual stakes are less.

The Treasury Department nonetheless has the authority to sanction entities it deems to be controlled by sanctioned individuals, even if they do not formally own a 50 percent stake.

For U.S. companies, the key question is often whether the efforts and resources — from surfing the Internet to employing on-the-ground investigators — required to nail down details of ownership are worth the effort, sanctions lawyer Erich Ferrari told RFE/RL.

“The difficulty is determining: ‘How far do we go with this, and at what point does it become too cost-prohibitive for us?'” said Ferrari, adding that his firm is receiving “a few” inquiries a week from companies concerned about the Russia sanctions.

Rock On

In the case of the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, the Internet appears to be sufficient to provide basic information about how the venue’s ownership is structured.

The website of the Finnish company Arena Events states that the company owns 100 percent “of the C-shares of Helsinki Halli Oy, which owns and operates the Hartwall Arena,” thus giving Arena Events “control and voting rights in shareholder meetings.”

Arena Events, meanwhile, is 50 percent owned by Langvik Capital, a Finland-based investment company owned by “the Rotenberg family,” and 50 percent owned by a Luxembourg-based company owned by Timchenko, according to the site.

A presentation given in early March by Boris Rotenberg’s son, Roman Rotenberg, provided a visual of the arena’s ownership structure.

The presentation, dated March 4, features a flow chart indicating that Langvik Capital and Timchenko’s Luxembourg-based company each own a 50 percent stake in Hartwall Arena.

However, Roman Rotenberg, chairman of the board of Arena Events, told RFE/RL in a May 10 e-mail that Hartwell Arena has “several hundreds of other shareholders.”

Rotenberg provided a breakdown showing that Arena Events — the joint venture owned by Timchenko and the Rotenberg family — owns 45 percent of the shares in the Helsinki venue.

The promoter of the May 8 Nine Inch Nails concert at the Hartwall Arena, Live Nation Finland, did not respond to an inquiry routed through its California-based parent company, global concert giant Live Nation Entertainment, in time for publication.

Live Nation Finland chief executive Nina Castren told Reuters last month that the promoter was “examining the possibility whether this could have an impact on American artists’ shows.”

Days later she said the U.S. sanctions “will not have an impact on Hartwall Arena nor our business there,” Reuters reported.

The Treasury Department declined to comment on the matter.

U.S. pop star Justin Timberlake is scheduled to play the 13,000 seat Hartwall Arena on May 11, while American acts Aerosmith and Miley Cyrus are slated to perform there later this month.

Representatives for Nine Inch Nails and Timberlake did not respond to requests for comment.

Read more: http://www.rferl.org/content/sanctions-american-companies-jittery-russian-business-ties-us/25380189.html#ixzz31PdQKHGj

U.S. Trade With Russia Grows in March Despite Ukraine Crisis

By ERIC MORATH, WSJ.com

Rising U.S.-Russian tensions and escalating threats of sanctions didn’t derail trade between the two Cold War rivals in March, the same month Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine.

Exports of U.S. goods to Russia rose 9% in March from the prior month, compared to a decline in the same month last year. That’s according to non-seasonally adjusted figures deep within Tuesday’s report from the Commerce Department on international trade.

Meanwhile, imports from Russia rose 36% in March from February, stronger than the 25% monthly gain a year earlier.

Exports to Russia were up 10% from March 2013, while imports rose 2% from a year earlier. Much of the monthly change came from a surge in exports of civilian aircraft and autos.

Month-to-month figures on trade with individual countries can be extremely volatile and are not always representative of current economic and geopolitical conditions. Still, the March developments in U.S.-Russia trade were more in line with global trends than a falling out between trading partners.

For example, U.S. exports to the European Union rose 17% in March, and imports increased 20%.

Russia doesn’t rank among the top 15 U.S. trading partners, according to the Commerce Department. So far this year, total trade with Russia ranks just ahead of Ireland, and behind that of Colombia and Thailand.

Russia supplies oil, metals and fertilizer to the U.S. and imports American machinery, vehicles and food. U.S. trade with Ukraine is much smaller.

(Ian Talley and Ben Leubsdorf contributed to this post.)

 

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