November 28, 2020

Australian Central Bank Cuts Key Interest Rate

HONG KONG — The Australian central bank dropped its key interest rate to a record-low 2.75 percent Tuesday, becoming the latest central bank in recent weeks to try to stimulate growth.

Few analysts had expected the central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia, to deliver a rate cut at its policy meeting, and the reduction, by a quarter of a percentage point, prompted the Australian dollar to decline about half a cent against the U.S. dollar, to $1.019.

In a statement accompanying the rate decision, Glenn Stevens, the central bank’s governor, struck a sanguine note about the global economy, saying it was “likely to record growth a little below trend this year before picking up next year,” with the United States currently on a path of moderate expansion and China’s growth running at a robust pace. And although commodity prices — which are important to resource-rich Australia — have moderated in recent months, they “remain high by historical standards,” he added.

Still, unemployment has edged up despite a string of rate cuts in recent years, and investment in mining, a major source of economic activity, is projected to peak this year.

A persistently strong Australian dollar has weighed on the economy. The currency has climbed against the U.S. dollar for much of the past 12 years, with only a brief slump after the Lehman Brothers collapse in late 2008, and reached parity with the U.S. dollar for the first time since 1982 in late 2010. It has been worth more than $1 for much of the time since then.

The exchange rate’s strength over the past 18 months, Mr. Stevens said, “is unusual, given the decline in export prices and interest rates during that time.” The central bank thus decided that “a further decline in the cash rate was appropriate to encourage sustainable growth in the economy,” he continued.

The fact that inflation in Australia, at 2.5 percent during the first quarter of this year, remains within the central bank’s comfort level also provided the leeway for a reduction in interest rates, analysts said. The rate cut Tuesday was the seventh by the Australian central bank since November 2011 and took the total reduction in borrowing costs to 2 percentage points.

“Further easing looks unlikely at the moment,” analysts at Standard Chartered said in a research note, adding that the central bank was likely to wait for more data before making further moves. “However, continued sluggishness in both the domestic and global economies will increase the risk of a rate cut, inflation permitting,” they said.

The Australian move follows recent efforts in several other regions and countries to prop up growth. Both the European Central Bank and the Reserve Bank of India lowered borrowing costs last week in a bid to bolster growth, which has been flagging. And in Japan, the central bank and the government have announced spending plans and asset purchases and have promised measures to attract investment in an effort to combat deflation and reignite growth.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/08/business/global/australian-central-bank-cuts-key-interest-rate.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: Millions May Be Affected by Credit Report Errors

About 5 percent of consumers in a new study had errors in their credit reports that could lead to them paying higher rates for loans.

The study, from the Federal Trade Commission, examined credit reports for 1,001 consumers obtained from the three major credit bureaus.

“These are eye-opening numbers for American consumers,” said Howard Shelanski, Director of the agency’s Bureau of Economics, in a prepared statement about the study, which was mandated by Congress.

About a quarter of consumers in the study had at least one potentially significant error in one of their three credit reports, the report found. But correcting the errors didn’t always result in a meaningful increase in their credit scores.

Over all, 26 percent of the participating consumers identified at least one “potentially material’ error in at least one of their three reports. The report defined a “potentially material error” as an alleged inaccuracy in information that is commonly used to generate credit scores. That includes things like the number of accounts sent to a collection agency, the number of credit inquiries, and the number of late or missed payments.

Twenty-one percent of the study participants, or 206 people, went through a standard process to challenge the errors, and received a change to their credit report after the dispute.

Just 129 people, or 13 percent of the participants, experienced a change in their credit score as a result of the change in the information in their credit report, the analysis found, but the maximum change in score for over half of the consumers was less than 20 points.

Just 5 percent (52 people) saw their credit scores increase enough to move them into a lower-risk credit tier, which would make them eligible for a lower interest rate on, for instance, a car loan.

However, the report noted that the major credit bureaus are estimated to have files on at least 200 million consumers. So that translates into about 10 million people who could unnecessarily be paying higher rates on loans.

Credit reports are prepared by the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and Transunion) based on data reported by lenders like banks and credit card companies; credit scores are calculated using different models, based on information in the credit reports. The study used FICO scores, the three-digit scores most commonly used by lenders.

Over all, the report said, while a “notable” number of consumers may have inaccuracies on their credit reports, the effect of the errors on credit scores is “generally modest,” and there’s often no change in the credit score if they’re corrected. “For a few consumers, however, the impact is large,” the report concluded.

John Ulzheimer, a credit-industry expert, says the study suggests errors are far more frequent than an industry-backed study in 2011, which found that fewer than 1 percent of reports have material errors. But the F.T.C.’s findings also are far less dramatic than estimates from groups like the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, he said, which found in a 2004 report that more than three-fourths of credit reports have errors of some sort.

The findings underscore the importance of checking your credit reports. Federal law allows you to check them for free at least once a year, at annualcreditreport.com, but few consumers take advantage of the free copies.

Have you tried to correct an error in your credit report? What was the result?

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/11/millions-may-be-affected-by-credit-report-errors/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks: New Consumer Bureau Wants Your Credit Card Complaints

www.consumerfinance.govClick to enlarge

The new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is officially open for business … and is taking your complaints about credit cards.

The bureau’s Web site offers an easy-to-navigate feature to file your complaints. To do so, you enter your name and contact information and describe the problem, both in your own words and by using simple pull-down menus. The menus, for instance, help you explain the nature of your complaint — late fees, billing disputes, interest rate, etc. — and what, if anything, you’ve done so far to resolve it.

There’s also a space for you to outline what you’d like to see as a resolution. The site says the agency forwards your complaint to the credit card company.

If you have trouble with the form, or if questions arise as you go, the site includes an online chat feature so you can seek help from bureau staff, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. E.S.T. I spent about 10 minutes chatting this morning with a helpful cyberassistant with the somewhat robotic moniker of Customer Response #412757. (I used my name but didn’t identify myself as a reporter.)

I asked, for instance, whether I am required to enter my credit card number to file a complaint, as the site requests. He or she — let’s use  “C.R.” for short — explained that you don’t have to enter your number, but if you don’t, the agency can’t thoroughly investigate your complaint. If you submit the complaint without a number, you’ll most likely get a letter stating that you have to provide more information for the complaint to be processed. The Web site is secure, C.R. typed, so “providing the credit card number on the online form is really the most expedient way of completing your complaint and moving forward.”

Once the complaint is submitted, CR said, an investigator will contact you within 10 business days by e-mail or phone, depending on what contact information you provide on the form, to follow up and explain the next steps in the process.

Once you submit the complaint, the site issues you a tracking number, so you can log on later and check on its status.

C.R. signed off with a pleasant, “Have a great day.”

Bucks would like to hear from you about how the complaint process goes for you; please let us know what happens if you file one.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=2781ddbd23d7aba8a138e63fd926d7d0

Media Decoder: Times Co. to Pay Back Loan Early

The New York Times Company announced on Wednesday that it planned to pay back a $250 million loan from the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú next month, more than three years ahead of its due date.

The Times Company had said earlier that it planned to pay back the loan, which is due in January 2015, in early 2012. But it said in a statement that its cash position allowed it to pay even earlier.

“Over the past two years we have significantly strengthened the Times Company’s cash position and our considerable and focused efforts have allowed us to prepay the notes far ahead of schedule,” Janet L. Robinson, the company’s president and chief executive, said in the statement.

Mr. Slim owns one of the largest individual stakes of the Times Company outside of the Sulzberger family, which controls the company. His January 2009 loan, with a 14 percent interest rate, helped the Times Company during a downturn in advertising sales across the industry.

The estimated prepayment will total about $279 million, including interest, the company said. Prepayment will incur a $46 million loss in the third quarter, the company said, but savings on interest will be more than $39 million a year through January 2015.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=e11feb8189d462ee12ce7822e7d56d53

India’s Economy Grew 7.8 Percent in January-March Quarter

NEW DELHI — India’s economy grew at a slower 7.8 percent in the January-March quarter from the same period a year earlier, as rising interest rates crimped consumption and investment.

The pace of growth eased from the 8.3 percent expansion in the previous quarter and fell below the median forecast for growth of 8.2 percent in a Reuters poll.

For the full 2010-11 fiscal year, which ended in March, the economy grew 8.5 percent, compared with the government’s forecast of 8.6 percent.

“Not a disaster, but adds to the idea that E.M. growth is cooling as tighter policy kicks in,” said Jonathan Cavenagh of Westpac Institutional Bank in Singapore, referring to emerging markets.

With inflation still elevated, he said, the Reserve Bank of India is likely to keep raising interest rates, “which will not be welcome by the equity market.”

Most economists expect the central bank to raise its main policy interest rate by 25 basis points at its review on June 16, after it raised its key rates by a bigger-than-expected 50 basis points in May.

India’s farm sector expanded at 7.5 percent during the January-March quarter from the year-earlier period.

Meanwhile, manufacturing grew 5.5 percent in the same period, less than the 6 percent annual growth seen in the previous quarter.

Agriculture is expected to perform well for the second straight year after the government forecast a normal monsoon in 2011. Prospects for the summer harvest got a boost after annual monsoon rains hit the southern state of Kerala two days ahead of schedule.

Still, rising borrowing costs and higher input prices have started to crimp consumer demand.

The Reserve Bank of India has raised its policy rate by a total of 250 basis points in nine moves since March 2010 as part of battle against stubbornly high inflation. Analysts have forecast an additional increase of 75 basis points by the end of December.

April car sales rose at their slowest pace in nearly two years, rising 13.2 percent from a year earlier, as higher interest rates, fuel prices and vehicle costs crimped demand in the world’s second-fastest growing auto market, after China.

Construction of big projects was delayed during the winter over environmental clearances as well as difficulty securing coal for new power plants.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=607345f4e5686d286235924e5f2758e0