‘Put your money where your mouth is’ – Dr Ciara Kelly calls on Diageo to …

class=independent green news home data-domain=www.independent.ie data-section-path=irish-news/health/ data-article=Put your money where your mouth is – Dr Ciara Kelly calls on Diageo to withdraw from controversial anti-drinking campaign>

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Small Business Administration 2014 lending in St. Lawrence County up 15 times …


The amount of money lent in government small business loans in St. Lawrence County jumped by more than 15 times in 2014 over 2013.

Simplified US Small Business Administration (SBA) loan procedures, and not an increase in local economic activity, is believed to be the main reason.

Ron Bacon, commercial banking officer at Community Bank, NA’s Potsdam branch, says the new SBA programs are making it easier for banks to approve small business loans.

“More banks are looking to utilize the SBA guarantee programs as a way to reduce loan risk,” Bacon said. “Given the state of the local economy, somewhat stagnant, flat,” the SBA guarantees make the loans somewhat easier to approve.

The US Small Business Administration reported loans amounting to $3.8 million made in St. Lawrence County in 2014, compared with $246,500 in 2013.

Bernard Poprocki, Syracuse district director for the SBA, said while there were five loans to businesspeople in the county in 2013, that jumped to 15 in 2014, “certainly in the big picture of SBA lending, not a huge amount,” but several factors have gone into the increase last year, he said.

The SBA has reduced the paperwork necessary for SBA loans, and the SBA is backing the loans with their guarantee.

“And we’ve eliminated the guarantee fees on new SBA loans and the fees on the outstanding share of SBA loan guarantee, and that’s less expense for the borrower. This is a solid effort to market to lenders.”

“The typical SBA loan is used for startup ventures or ventures where there is very little equity, and inadequate collateral,” Bacon said. ” The SBA offers to mitigate the risk.

“And the SBA has made it easier to use their program with the reduced paperwork.

Bacon described a program called SBA Express, which only requires a one-page application from the borrower.

“The bank makes its own underwriting decisions. We don’t have to overwhelm the applicant with SBA paperwork,” and they don’t have to wait for the SBA, Bacon said. “It’s increasingly used by banks and the fee is fairly modest.” And he noted that the waiver of the guarantee fee on smaller loans is a worthwhile incentive.

‘Slight pickup’ in local economy

Bacon said he would not necessarily view the increase in SBA loans last year “as a sign of economic activity in the region.”

But he says he has seen “a slight pickup very recently. There might be a little more confidence in the economy,” after the uncertainty over Alcoa’s position in Massena “and the uncertainty last year over the effects of Obamacare.

“There was deferred loan demand due to that lack of confidence, but there have been more inquiries and applications in the last three or four months,” he said recently.

“There’s not much loan demand in general. We don’t see as many applications even for startups.

“I think we’ve viewed the historical use of SBA loans as inadequate, but from our bank’s perspective, we’re intending to utilize more of their program,” Bacon said.

SBA loans are now guaranteed up to 85 percent, and with the fee waiver, a borrower can save $2,550 that would usually be paid up front, Poprocki said, and that alone could be a deciding factor for a borrower.

Another factor in the increase in the number of loans in the county last year and their size is the effect of the federal government shutdown in October 2013, “which put us about a month behind. We cleaned out the pipeline of loans that were piling up ahead of the shutdown,” which accounts for some of the increase for 2014

“The reduction of fees and the reduction of paperwork – that’s what I would attribute most of this increase to.”

At the same time, SBA loan limits have gone up, from $2 million to $5 million.

“That also helped to skew the loan averages a bit, stemming from the larger average loan size, obviously, but also because it opens a whole market” in businesses that need a larger loan and can take advantage of the SBA terms.

As far as banks are concerned, Poprocki said, “loans of $150,000 and lower are harder to make to small businesses,” especially when you consider that the cost of administering the loan is probably the same for most any business loan. “It costs the same to do a $1 million loan as a $50,000 loan.” So a lender is “obviously looking to make larger loans” for a higher return on the same amount of expense in servicing the loan.

Local Banks Participating

Among the banks participating in SBA programs in the county last year were NBT Bank, First Niagara, and Community Bank, NA. Three banks participated in 2013 and nine in 2014.

The fact that “no one bank in St. Lawrence County is making the loans shows that there is competition among banks for the loans. That’s good for the borrowers, if the banks will compete on price or terms,” Poprocki said.

“Although SBA does not make direct loans to small business, the agency’s use of its guaranty authority enables commercial lenders to make loans to small businesses they would otherwise not have made,” the SBA’s Poprocki said.

“With the strong relationships we have with our lending partners, continued fee reductions through 2015 and streamlined application processes, we anticipate building on this past year’s momentum” so that more entrepreneurs “will use SBA financing to create jobs and invest in their businesses and communities,” Poprocki said.

Poprocki noted that the temporary fee waiver the SBA has been operating with will expire Sept. 30 unless Congress approves an extension.

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How to Know If You Are Overpaying on Your Student Loans

No one likes paying their student loans, but many people come to enjoy it even less once they realize that they are overpaying by thousands of dollars each year. Student loans come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many graduates do not graduate with just one student loan, but with multiple loans, each with its own interest rate, repayment period and fine print. Understanding the types of loans you have and comparing them against the other options that exist can help you determine if you are paying too much.

Why do interest rates differ?

Interest rates are dictated by market conditions, and as a result they can vary from year to year. In the past five years, federal student loan interest rates have ranged from a high of 8.5 percent, before the financial crisis, to as low as 3.4 percent. For example, if you first received a Direct Subsidized undergraduate loan in 2008, it came at a fixed interest rate of 6.8 percent, whereas if you had first received that same loan in 2014, it would have been at a fixed rate of 3.86 percent. Graduate federal student loans also tend to have higher interest rates compared to undergraduate loans. An Unsubsidized Direct graduate loan in 2014 had an interest rate 5.41 percent.

What factors determine my interest rate?

Federal student loan interest rates are one size fits all: everyone gets the same rate regardless of his or her credit and financial history. However, many graduates may also take out private loans to finance the remaining portion of their education. Private loans often have higher interest rates while in school because of your limited financial and employment history. However, once you graduate and land a steady job, you immediately become a stronger candidate and can often be rewarded with a more competitive interest rate.

Are my interest rates competitive?

At Credible, we have a unique view of the student loan market and a deep understanding of the interest rates offered to graduates over the past 15 years. We have partnered with the majority of lenders in the market, and we know what student loan interest rates are competitive: a number of lenders offer variable interest rates as low as 1.92 percent and fixed rates as low as 3.95 percent. If you have graduated in the past 10 years and have stable employment with good income, you could probably reduce your interest rate by refinancing your student loans.

It is of paramount importance to note that refinancing federal student loans comes with a number of trade offs, such as eligibility for income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness options. It is important for graduates to do their homework and speak with their existing and potential lenders about the terms and conditions to get a complete picture of the decision they are making. However, for many student loan holders, refinancing is a viable option that can offer substantial lifetime savings.

So, are you overpaying on your student loans? Find out what your options are, and see how competitive your rates are with whats currently offered on the market. In less than 30 seconds, you can see how your loans stack up using Credibles comparison tool.

Visit studentaid.ed.gov for more information regarding your federal loan options.

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Is Now The Best Time To Refinance Your Student Loan?

Refinancing your student loan debt can make a lot of sense, especially if you have private student loans. Currently, interest rates are still near historical lows, and if you have good credit, you may be able to significantly lower your monthly payment, while also paying less over the life of the loan.

However, there are obstacles to refinancing your student loan debt, and it’s not straight-forward for everyone.

Here are some ways to figure out if now is the best time to refinance your student loan debt,

Private vs. Federal Student Loans

First, it’s important to understand if you have Federal or private student loan debt.

If you have Federal loans, you cannot refinance your Federal student loan debt and keep it Federal. What this means is that the government and US Department of Education currently don’t offer any refinancing programs for borrowers.

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Wall Street Lost Big on Bad Energy Loans That Went Up in Smoke

NEW YORK (Real Money) — Oil companiescontinue to get burned by low oil prices, but the pain is bleeding over into the financial industry. Major banks are suffering huge losses from both directly backing some struggling oil companies, but also from buying high-yield debt that is now going sour.

The Wall Street Journal reported that tens of millions of dollars have gone up in smoke on loans made to the energy industry by Citigroup
(C – Get Report), Goldman Sachs
(GS) and UBS
(UBS). Loans issued to oil and gas companies have looked increasingly unappetizing, making it difficult for the banks to sell them on the market.

Must Read: Warren Buffetts Top 10 Dividend Stocks

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Fitch Rates Indonesia’s ASF EMTN Programme ‘BBB-(EXP)’

(The following statement was released by the rating agency)
JAKARTA/TAIPEI/SINGAPORE, March 19 (Fitch) Fitch Ratings has
Indonesia-based PT Astra Sedaya Finance (ASF) a Long-Term Issuer
Default Rating
(IDR) of BBB- and Short-Term IDR of F3. The agency has
affirmed the
companys National Long-Term and Short-Term Ratings at AAA(idn)
and F1+(idn)
respectively . The outlook is Stable. At the same time, Fitch
Ratings has
assigned ASFs proposed USD1bn euro medium-term note (EMTN)
programme a senior
unsecured rating of BBB-(EXP), and its proposed notes of up to
USD250m under
the EMTN programme a rating of BBB-(EXP). The final rating on
the proposed
notes is contingent on the receipt of final documents conforming
to information
already received. A full rating breakdown is provided at the end
of this
Fitch stresses there is no assurance that notes issued in the
future under the
programme will be assigned a rating, or that the rating assigned
to a specific
issue under the programme will have the same rating as the
programme. The
proceeds from the proposed issue will be used to support ASFs
business growth.
ASFs ratings reflect Fitchs expectation of a high probability
of support from
its majority shareholder, PT Astra International Tbk (AI). Fitch
considers ASF
as a strategically important subsidiary of AI, as ASF accounts
for a sizable
portion (around 30% in 2014) of the parents automobile credit
sales. The
support also reflects AIs significant 86% effective ownership
as well as ASFs
strong synergies and integration with the parent. AI is the
largest automobile
manufacturer and distributor with a dominant 51% share of the
market in
Indonesia by new car sales.
ASF provides direct financing services for buyers who purchase
AIs cars,
playing an important role in supporting AIs sales. AI is
Indonesias largest
private company by market capitalisation; it is a market leader
in the
automotive, financial services, agribusiness, heavy equipment
and information
technology sectors. It is 50.1% owned by Jardine cycle
Carriage Ltd, part of
Jardine Matheson Group.
Fitch expects ASF to continue delivering healthy profitability
in 2015 in spite
of a challenging economic environment, underpinned by its
manageable credit and
funding costs. Sound underwriting policy and risk management
should continue to
sustain its healthy asset quality. ASF has built up a high
reserve against
non-performing loans enabling it to absorb credit losses through
Any significant decline in AIs ownership and/or ASF
contribution to AI would
exert downward pressure on its IDRs and National ratings.
However, Fitch
believes this scenario is unlikely in the foreseeable future,
given ASFs
strategic importance to AIs core carautomotive business. ASFs
ratings are also
sensitive to Fitchs assessment of AIs credit profile; any
change of the AIs
assessment will most likely lead to a review of ASFs IDRs.
ASFs proposed euro medium-term notes are rated as the same
level as its IDR in
accordance with Fitch criteria. Any changes in ASFs IDR would
affect the issue
The list of rating actions is as follows:
Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) assigned BBB-; Stable
Short-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) assigned F3
National Long-Term Rating affirmed at AAA(idn); Stable Outlook
National Short-Term Rating affirmed at F1+(idn)
USD1bn Senior EMTN programme and senior tranches under the
programme assigned
National Senior Bond Programme II 2013 and senior tranches under
the programme
affirmed at AAA(idn) and F1+(idn)
Primary Analysts (International Ratings)
Ambreesh Srivastava
Senior Director
+65 67967218
Fitch Ratings Singapore Pte Ltd
6 Temasek Boulevard
#35-5 Suntec Tower Four
Singapore 038986
Julita Wikana (National Ratings)
+62 21 2988 6808
PT Fitch Ratings Indonesia
DBS Bank Tower Level 24
Jl. Prof. Dr. Satrio Kav.3-5
Jakarta, Indonesia 12910
Secondary Analyst
Julita Wikana (International Ratings)
+62 21 2988 6808
Committee Chairperson
Jonathan Lee
Senior Director
+886 2 8175 7601
Applicable criteria, Global Financial Institutions Rating
Criteria, dated 31
January 2014, Finance and Leasing Companies Ratings Criteria,
dated 12
December 2012, Rating FI Subsidiaries and Holding Companies,
dated 10 August
2012, and National Scale Ratings Criteria, dated 30 October
2013, are
available at www.fitchratings.com.
Media Relations: Leslie Tan, Singapore, Tel: +65 67 96 7234,
Additional information is available at www.fitchratings.com.
Applicable Criteria and Related Research:
Global Financial Institutions Rating Criteria
Finance and Leasing Companies Criteria
Rating FI Subsidiaries and Holding Companies
National Scale Ratings Criteria
Additional Disclosure
Solicitation Status

Where NCAA Tournament fans can eat within walking distance of Quicken …

CLEVELAND, Ohio — However long, or brief your visit to Cleveland, NCAA fans will find plenty of dining options within walking distance of Quicken Loans Arena – what Clevelanders call The Q.

Whatever youre hungry for, youll find some version of it in our quick-reference guide. All are within a reasonable walking distance of Quicken Loans Arena.

IN THE ARENA: The Q itself hasthe usual array of food stands where you can find all the usual good stuff (nachos, dogs, wings, ice cream, brews and other beverages, plus Elmore Smiths Smokehouse and two Quaker Steak amp; Lube stands) plus specialties by three local star chefs:

  • Iron Chef Michael Symons B Spot restaurant (Section 125) specializes in burgers, brats, super milkshakes and an array of craft beers.
  • In the Huntington Bank Club Level (Section C126), Bar Symon – chef Symons casual dining space – specializes in salads, sandwiches, signature sides and a full-service bar.
  • Roccos at The Q (Main Concourse, near Section 110) is Cleveland chef Rocco Whalens (Fahrenheit Tremont and Fahrenheit Charlotte NC) place for tacos, crab cakes, loaded potato nachos and more.
  • Seesaw Pretzel Shoppe (Section 110; Section 125) is where you go for big pretzels lavished with a variety of toppings as well as sausages and craft beers.

IN HORSESHOE CASINO CLEVELAND: Clevelands full-service casino features a massive, 400-seat, all-you-care-to-eat buffet, The Spread (open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch) on the lower level. Theres also a food court where youll find aB Spot (burgers, brats, beers);Rosie amp; Roccos (Rocco Whalens spot for meatballs, antipasti, salads and pizzas); andCorky amp; Lennys (a local deli destination).

SOMETHING A BIT FANCIER: The short stretch of East Fourth Street, often called Clevelands restaurant row, is packed with gems. Its home to Food Network and ABC-TVs The Chew co-star and James Beard Award-winning chef Michael SymonsLola Bistro (2058 East Fourth St.; 216-621-5652), equal parts meat palace and home to creative, well-executed cuisine. Restaurateur Zack Bruells Ristorante Chinato (2079 East Fourth St.; 216-298-9080) is a zesty stop for a wide-ranging taste of Italian regional fare from throughout the boot. Multi-time Beard Awards nominee Jonathon SawyersThe Greenhouse Tavern (2038 East Fourth St.; 216-443-0511) is great for fare thats both imaginative and earthy. Check out the very cool Butcher and The Brewer for shareable plates and some stellar brews. Though not quite fancy, in the same East Fourth stretch youll also findSaigon (Vietnamese), Zocalo Mexican Grill amp; Tequilaria (Latin), andErie Island Coffee (beverages, treats).

SOMETHING MORE LOW-KEY (OR A TOUCH CRAZY):Pickwick amp; Frolic (2035 East Fourth St.; 216-241-7425) is a latter-day local legend – at least for anyone whos looking for a comedy club, burlesque, live entertainment and some good eats, all under one roof. Flannerys Pub (323 East Prospect; 216-781-7782) is a fine place for a pint and a solid stop for hearty Irish-American fare. Want to bowl a few frames or hit a rack of balls? Check outThe Corner Alley (402 Euclid Ave.; 216-298-4070), where you can also get standard American bar food. Apps, wraps and salads are the chow at Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery (21 Prospect Ave.; 216-771-5458). If what youre seeking is a decent sandwich in a low-key, slice-of-old-Cleveland place where you can sip your beer or schnaps in relative peace, check out Ontario Street Cafe (2053 Ontario St.; 216-861-6446).

STEAKHOUSES: ClevelandsMortons The Steakhouse (1600 West Second St., or enter via Tower City, off of Horseshoe Casino; 216-621-6200) offers all the requisite indulgences – fine steaks, shareable sides, a big wine and cocktail list, and a clubby atmosphere. Locally ownedHyde Park Prime Steakhouse (123 West Prospect Ave.; 216-344-2444) does a solid job satisfying your jones for red meat. Dont missRed the Steakhouse (417 Prospect Ave.; 216-664-0941), a stylish upscale spot for excellent beef, seafood, appetizers, salads and sides. If youre anxious to stretch your legs,XO Prime Steaks (500 West St. Clair Ave.; 216-861-1919) is one of LeBrons old haunts and a local fave.

WANDER UP EUCLID AVENUE: Downtown Clevelands main business thoroughfare is home to some delicious eating – and many of the citys most beautiful buildings.

Just west off of East Fourth Street areNoodlecat (234 Euclid Ave.; 216-589-0007), Jonathon Sawyers Japanese-inspired noodle restaurant, and Pura Vida (170 Euclid Ave., Public Square; 216-987-0100), chef Brandt Evans imaginative take on fresh ingredients with light touches. Or take a right (east) off East Fourth and findHodges (668 Euclid; 216-771-4000), lively fine-dine-casual fare by Great American Food Truck Race finalist Chris Hodgson. If you like, cross Euclid Avenue toThe Chocolate Bar (347 Euclid, in the historic Arcade; 216-622-2626). For a singular food-and-architecture experience, the newly openedHeinens supermarket (900 Euclid Ave.; 216-302-3020) in the historic Cleveland Trust Bank Building is equal parts visual spectacle and food court.

PLAYHOUSE SQUARE: If youre a more vigorous walker and like a bit of Broadway glitter, continue east on Euclid Avenue.Clevelands Playhouse Square is the second largest theater district in the US (only New York Citys Times Square trumps it). Notable eateries in the area includeCowell amp; Hubbard (1305 Euclid; 216-479-0555), restaurateur Zack Bruells French-inspired fine-dining destination. (Across the Square, after opening day on April 15, youll find his burgers-and-dogs stand,Dynomite, on US Bank Plaza.) Tuscan-themedCibreo Italian Kitchen (1438 Euclid Ave.; 216-862-9212) is a fine place for a hearty meal. If you want a glass of wine and some upscale snacking or small plates, its sister restaurantBin 216 (1515 Euclid Ave.; 216-860-0530) is right in the heart of the theaters. Or check outDistrict (1350 Euclid Ave.; 216-858-1000), a spot for contemporary American bistro-style fare.

Of course, if youre willing to grab a cab (or are a really serious walker…) there are endless other options to explore and eat in other neighborhoods – Ohio City, Tremont, Gordon Square, AsiaTown, University Circle, Uptown, Coventry Village and more. Check out these additional links for even more options:


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The Biggest Waste Of Your Money

The economy might be recovering, but plenty of us still feel a bit broke and few of us have money to burn.

So why are so many of us wasting our cash? And when I say us, I mean me.

I recently realised that a credit scoring service has been taking money from my account even though I have not actually used it in (whispers) three years. Credit checking services are useful but I have been accessing mine elsewhere and not used this one since the company asked for a copy of my marriage certificate, which I forgot to send.

That’s £10 a month I have been paying for three years. That’s £360 I have wasted because it slowly dripped out of my account without me really noticing. £360!

Now, before you rush to the comments to tell me I’m an idiot, I’d like to point out that I am not alone. A worryingly high number of us waste cash by failing to cancel services and subscriptions we no longer need.

Around 3.6 million Brits are paying unnecessary bills, with the average victim forking out an extra £70 a month in unnecessary and forgotten direct debits, suggest research carried out last year by price comparison website moneysupermarket.

Here are some other examples of when we pay for things we dont use

Gym no-shows

Almost half of gym members dont go, wasting around £350 a year each, according to to research by thinkmoney. And 19% of UK adults pay for a gym subscription, yet more than one in ten of them admits that they hardly ever go.

Most of them say they ‘plan on going soon’, but others simply haven’t got round to cancelling or feel too guilty to cancel.

Rather than simply cancelling their contract or direct debit it seems that most of us have convinced ourselves that we will go to the gym – starting tomorrow! said Thinkmoney’s Ian Williams.

It makes sense to review all the direct debits leaving your current account at least once every few months and check that you really are using the things you are paying for.

Pointless phone contracts

The moneysupermarket research showed that 17% of people pay for a phone contract they don’t need. For some, that’s because they’ve allowed a contract to drift on even after they’ve taken out a new one.

However, plenty of people were wasting cash in a less obvious way by continuing to pay full price for a phone contract after they became eligible for renewal. That means they were paying extra even though they had already covered the cost of their handset. Others simply paid for more texts and minutes than they really needed.

Useless utilities

Could you be paying for services that you no longer use? The moneysupermarket research showed that one in five people admit still paying unnecessary bills for utilities they never use. I suspect that’s what my £10 monthly charge would come under.

Unnecessary insurance

The same research showed that 16% of people are paying for insurance they don’t need. Before you scoff and say that you aren’t, it’s worth checking whether you’re paying for insurance that you already have.

After all, many packaged current accounts include perks such as free breakdown or mobile insurance, so it’s worth double-checking that you aren’t spending money on insurance you don’t need.

So what can you do?

Don’t assume that you’re safe and that everyone who forgets a direct debit has more money than sense. The research proves that this is a relatively common phenomenon – direct debits make paying bills easier, but they also make them easier to forget.

Here are some tips for staying on top of your direct debits, and avoiding unnecessary payments.

o If you spot a relatively small amount leaving your account each month then don’t delay chasing it up and cancelling it – these payments might be small but they soon add up to an amount that will make you kick yourself.

o When you sign up for a free trial that rolls into an ongoing contract, make a note in your calendar or set an alarm on your phone to remind you to cancel it before you automatically subscribe.

o Think seriously about your monthly commitments. Is it worth paying for that gym membership or magazine subscription if you don’t use it? Consider scrapping any expenses you’re not that committed to.

o Find out your rights. Don’t just cancel a subscription without checking whether or not you’re allowed to escape the contract early; you don’t want to pay penalties on top of the wasted money.

o Spend some time each week or month looking at your current account. If you don’t recognise the incomings and outgoings then find out more.

What do you think? Are direct debits a help or a hindrance? Do people who forget to cancel subscriptions simply have more money than sense? Have your say using the comments below.

Why cutting the cable cord may not save money

Not as Convenient

Worse, the silicon valley website TechTimes.com says none of these duplicate the full cable experience, with  full-feature DVR, on-demand movies, and ease of picking up just one remote and surfing channels, with a beer in one hand and your head on the arm of the couch.

Youll also need an antenna for local TV stations, and with some of these services, you still wont get ESPN.

So add up what these new services will cost. If its much over $100 a month, cable may be worth keeping just for the convenience.

That way you dont waste your money.


Dont Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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Ecuador Expects $4 Billion in Loans From China in 2015

Ecuador expects to receive $4 billion worth of loans this year from different Chinese lenders, of which about $1 billion correspond to disbursements of loans approved last year, a top government official said.

Finance Minister Fausto Herrera said Monday the loans will have a maturity of around eight years.

According to Mr. Herrera,…

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