Category: Business Written by James Clingman
(NNPA)—As George Benson sang in Moody’s Mood, “There I go, there I go, there I go…” making up words again. I couldn’t resist this one in light of our penchant to choose sides when it comes to economics versus politics. It seems we cannot understand, nor act upon, the fact that by combining the two disciplines and leveraging the resulting power from such a sensible strategy we could build a stronger base and finally put an end to being ignored and taken for granted.
So I made up this word in an effort to indoctrinate us, to condition us, to program us, or whatever you want to call it, so that Black people can stop being sacrificial lambs led to the political and economic slaughter.
We do not have to choose between the two, but as I always say, if I had to choose I would definitely take economics over politics. Why? Isn’t it obvious that while politics runs most of our lives (because we have no real economic base) it certainly does not run the lives of those who are economically empowered?
Whatever Wall Street wants Wall Street gets. The stock market hits record highs; but Black people are sinking lower in net worth and income. Black people are too busy watching the Wives of … or Scandal, or all of those BET Award shows to recognize the subordinated consumer-oriented role we are playing in the economy. Like sister Sweet Brown said about the fire on YouTube, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
As the war machine cranks up once again, the moneychangers are rubbing their greedy hands together in anticipation of another windfall from supplying the tools of war, the food for the troops, the equipment, the uniforms, and all the accoutrements necessary to dispose of those pesky Koreans, Syrians, and Iranians.
This is the country of the Golden Rule—He who has the gold makes the rules. Blacks aren’t making any rules; we are just playing by them, and being used as grist for profit mill. Sadly, some of us are so entrenched in the political shenanigans in Washington, so enamored by the celebrity of our president and those with whom he socializes, that we either ignore the weightier things in life or simply refuse to listen, even though we know that the road we are on leads to destruction.
Just watch the dueling news channels, MSNBC and Fox, and you will get a steady dose of Obama love and Obama hate. He can hardly do any wrong on MSNBC and can seldom, if ever, do anything right on Fox. I often wonder if these newscasters have a life outside of the bashing they do of each other’s political parties. Even sadder is the fact that Black people, who have little or no skin in the game, take sides and start fighting one another over emotional rhetoric centered on who likes or dislikes the POTUS and his policies.
It makes little sense for us to spend 90 percent of our capital and time on 10 percent of our problem, as Khalid Al-Mansour suggested in his book, Betrayal by any Other Name. When it comes to choosing instead of combining and leveraging, Al-Mansour says, “Blacks feel helpless because they hear so many conflicting voices and so much empty rhetoric. It’s easy to throw up one’s hands, get drunk, and have another baby. The African-American has been hearing about the problem and the solution since he can remember and yet, his condition always continues to disintegrate.”
We get a daily dose of political rhetoric and hardly ever take any economic medicine; it’s no wonder that many Black people see no way out of our economic/political dilemma. We have chosen political rhetoric over practical tried-and-true economic initiatives to free us from psychological bondage—a prescription that has not and does not work.
The political hacks are doing what they do because they get paid to do it, not because they necessarily believe in everything they promote. Our problem is allowing these jokers to dominate our thinking and our actions, as though what they say, or who they support, or what ideology they promote will move Black people to a position of real power rather than mere influence. And if that happens at all, whatever influence we attain will have to be channeled through them, because they are the political gatekeepers.
As Malcolm said, “…you are chumps…” when it comes to politics; and I say we are pawns when it comes to economics. However, if we combine politics with economics and not be led around by the ears by so-called leaders who only care about themselves, their political connections, and the money they make from selling us down the road, we will be much better off than we are now.
So, turn off the television and start reading more, start learning more for yourself, and start initiating and participating in efforts, where you live, to combine and leverage your collective economic and political clout—a winning strategy for sure. In other words, start practicing “Blackopoliticonomics.”
(Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.)
Last Updated on Friday, 19 April 2013 05:59
Category: Business Written by Charlene Crowell
(NNPA)—The old saying, “The check is in the mail,” is often a ruse not worth heeding. But beginning April 12, checks will begin going into the mail for 4.2 million mortgage borrowers who were in the foreclosure process in 2009 or 2010 and who likely experienced robo-signing or other deficiencies by their mortgage servicer.
Initially, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve required servicers to hire consultants to do detailed reviews of borrower case files and determine specific harms that borrowers received to qualify for monetary rewards. This process ultimately became unwieldy, slow and expensive without producing timely benefits to borrowers.
Earlier this year, the OCC and the Federal Reserve negotiated a settlement with 13 mortgage servicers. They agreed to pay a total of $3.6 billion in cash payments ranging from $300 to $125,000 to all affected borrowers. More than 90 percent of the payments due borrowers are expected to be paid by the end of April. Remaining borrowers are expected to be paid no later than mid-July.
Borrower payments will be based upon the stage of foreclosure and in some cases, gravity of servicer errors. The largest payments will go to borrowers with completed and wrongful foreclosures. The vast majority of checks payable to borrowers will be for less than $1,000.
The spring 2013 payments will include all but two of the servicers—Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley—agreeing to the settlement. A second and separate announcement in the near future will address payments for the two holdouts
In the meantime, for the other 11 servicers, a payment schedule includes eligible borrowers in any stage of foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 with one of the following servicers, affiliates or subsidiaries: Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.
The largest payment of $125,000 is reserved for one of two types of completed foreclosures: military families covered by the Servicemembers Civil Rights Act and loans that servicers foreclosed when borrowers were not in default.
In cases where borrowers were completely foreclosed despite fulfilling all requirements during a trial loan modification plan, or if a servicer failed to convert borrowers to a permanent modification after successfully completing the trial period, a $25,000 payment will be issued.
According to the schedule, additional payments will be made to borrowers experiencing one of the following errors:
Modification request denied;
Modification request received; but no underwriting decision reached
Interest rates charged in excess of SCRA limits;
Foreclosures begun while borrowers were protected by federal bankruptcy laws;
Servicer failure to engage borrowers in loan modification or other loss mitigation.
Eligible borrowers were recently notified of their eligibility for payments under the settlement. Any borrower who believes he/she may be covered by the agreement should call toll free at 1-888-952-9105 to verify their inclusion and also update their contact information.
Payment acceptance does not remove any borrower’s right to private legal actions. The agreement explicitly denies servicers permission to ask borrowers to sign a waiver of any legal claims in exchange for payment.
Any borrower needing foreclosure prevention assistance is encouraged to contact the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 888-995-HOPE (4673), or visit www.makinghomeaffordable.gov.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 11:03
Category: Business Written by Harry C. Alford
HARRY C. ALFORD
(NNPA)—Yes indeed and it is documented that the growth of natural gas production is creating jobs, expanding manufacturing at a rate that was inconceivable a few years ago. The reason for all of this is fracking. The formal name is hydraulic fracturing. It is a process for extracting natural gas from underground rock formations (shales). It’s clean and safe despite the contrary claims of environmental extremists.
Fracking was invented by Floyd Farris in 1947. His tools were drilling instruments, water and sand. The popularity and production of the use was rather slow until 1997 when energy engineers devised certain chemicals to mix with the water. It was then that the process became more cost effective. Now it is estimated that more than 60 percent of all oil and gas wells in the world are being fracked. Of late, engineers in Canada are introducing a waterless form of fracking. U.S. companies have not yet utilized the process. They are so happy with the current utilization.
Happy they should be. Through fracking our nation has become the number one producer of natural gas in the world. The estimates of our reserves keep being increased as new shales are being discovered all the time. We have the cheapest priced natural gas as a result of our great supplies. In fact, we are now exporting natural gas to other nations. Japan, for instance, has a natural gas price that is four times that of the U. S. Consequently, Japan is our number one market for exporting. In addition, many nations of Europe and elsewhere are good customers of our energy companies. These are new found dollars and job creations. Our liquefied natural gas import facilities have now been refitted for exporting. This is great.
Right now, our natural gas energy industry is responsible for more than 3 million jobs. The National Association of Manufacturers estimates that one million more jobs will be created by the middle of the next decade. They also report: Dow Chemical plans to build a new ethylene unit on the Gulf Coast by 2017. Formosa Plastics plans to spend 1.5 billion dollars on an ethylene plant and downstream assets in Texas by 2015. Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. announced a feasibility study to be completed this year on the merits of constructing an ethane cracker and ethylene derivatives facilities at a current site on the Gulf Coast. Bayer Corporation is reported to be discussing opportunities with chemical companies to build an ethane cracker at current sites in the middle of the Marcellus shale basin (Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland). Westlake Chemical will expand ethylene capacity in Louisiana by the end of 2012 and again in 2014. Shell Oil is building a petrochemical refinery in the Appalachians. Nucor is building a $750 million direct-reduced iron facility in Louisiana near the Haynesville Shale. This is all a result of the low cost of natural gas.
Some states may miss out on all this growth. New York and Maryland officials are trying to limit fracking in their states. That is fine with Pennsylvania and other neighboring states who are witnessing an economic boom within their borders. Pennsylvania has received more than $400 million in impact fees alone during the first two years of exploration of its portion of the Marcellus shale. There is no justification to limit or stop fracking. The Environmental Protection Agency has been trying to find a reason but so far there is nothing to point a finger at.
In fact, Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s nominee for the Secretary of Energy, has just told Congress, “A stunning increase in production of domestic natural gas in recent years was nothing less than a revolution that has led to reduced emissions of carbon dioxide. The natural gas boom also has led to a dramatic expansion of manufacturing and job creation …brought about by widespread use of fracking and it must continue.”
Shale gas now accounts for 30 percent of total gas consumption compared with just 1 percent in 2000. Again, we have gone from being the world’s largest gas importer to being self-sufficient and a major exporter. Natural gas vehicles use a technique known as Compressed Natural Gas that has an affordable price of $1.95 per gallon. It is just amazing.
All of this growth will give local, state and the federal governments billions of new dollars via payroll, corporate and property taxes. New restaurants, hotels, homes, schools etc. will be built to accommodate the new workers and their families. God has truly blessed us.
So now, let’s build the Keystone Pipeline and start doing more oil exploration on federal lands and off shore.
Last Updated on Friday, 19 April 2013 05:59
Category: Business Written by Damon Carr
Even if you’ve managed to remain gainfully employed, we’ve all been affected by this recessionary economy to some degree. For many of us, our cash-flow has been negatively affected due to reduction in income because of low sales, salaries and hours being cut, bonuses and overtime being eliminated and/or merit raises and promotions being deferred to a later date. If you’ve been fortunate enough to keep your cash-flow moving in the right direction, take a close look at your saving and investment portfolio. You’ll agree that because of the huge losses in the stock market most of us are poorer today than we were a couple of years ago.
Whenever we go through trying times of any kind, it’s important that we grow through the experience and learn valuable lessons to avoid similar unwelcoming circumstances in the future. Below, I’d like to share ideas I’ve shared in the past that were confirmed to be true during this recessionary economy.
Job security—There’s no such thing as job security! We live in an era where you’re lucky to have worked for the same company for three or more years. Both employer and employee regard for loyalty have waivered in recent years. The thing to seek today is “income security.” Income security lies in talent, skills, and know-how that are both marketable and transferrable—meaning you can adapt and apply your skill in a variety of ways to earn money. One lesson that should have been learned particularly in regions that was heavily dependent on the steel industry is that blue collar type jobs lack both marketability and transferability. Blue collar type jobs are generally good paying labor intensive jobs. If you’re fortunate enough to work until retirement as a laborer—great! The problem arrives if your job opportunity is cut short because of industry trends or the economy negatively affecting the industry’s viability. We’ve witness entire cities take a turn for the worst when the Steel Mills collapsed 30-plus years ago. We’ve seeing evidence of this trend again as the Automotive Industry shut down many of its manufacturing plants. Workers from these industries who’ve work primarily as a laborer have had a hard time replacing the income they’ve earned in their former career because the skill set they acquired was not “marketable and transferrable.” In contrast employees who’ve worked on Wall Street in a white collar environment have an easier time landing jobs with similar pay because their skill set is both transferrable and marketable.
Housing—Get your financial house in order first, and then seek homeownership. Mortgage Payment default and foreclosure is at an all time high. People are learning first hand that the word homeownership is a misnomer. If you become victim of a financial hardship making it hard for you to pay the mortgage, you’re brought face to face with the reality of who truly hold the keys to the house you live in. I’ve said it time and time again: Before you seek homeownership, you should be debt free, have money in the bank for emergencies and have a respectable down payment. Lastly, the mortgage payment should not exceed 30 percent of your take home pay. I’m reminded of an email I recently got from a client. She earns about $70,000 per year. She said the bank said she was preapproved for a $300,000 mortgage. She thought the bank was crazy. I advised her that based on her income and other financial goals to stay in the $150,000 range. She may not get the biggest house on the block, but she’ll get a nice house that she can afford comfortably while pursuing other financial goals.
Credit—The byproduct of credit is debt. Debt is hazardous to your wealth. Debt impedes your cash-flow and reduces your net worth. Credit has inflated the cost of consumer goods, housing, education, medical expenses and everything imaginable. People, government, and corporations were using credit as a supplement to their income. As a result, when the credit market froze, the economy collapsed, people’s homes went into foreclosure, companies shut down and local, state and federal government financial woes were exposed. There’s a saying that “you use credit wisely”. My position has always been “use credit only when absolutely necessary”.
Saving—Financial stability and financial prosperity is built on the foundation of saving. Prior to the recession the typical person saved less than 2-cents out of every dollar earned. If you fail to develop good saving habits you’re doomed to financial frustration. One day we’ll all experience a financial hardship of some kind. One day our children will go to college. One day we’ll retire. If we fail to have adequate savings to provide for us during these times, we’re forced to use credit cards for emergencies, student loans for education, and reverse mortgages during retirement. We go through our entire life wondering why the little man can’t get ahead. The little man neglected to save.
Government bailout—If you want to get ahead financially, you don’t want to depend on the government. Financial help from the government isn’t a something for nothing proposition unless you’re classified as needy—poor. Even then, government aide amounts to “small change.” We watched the entire economy collapse in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. How did the government help? They provided small federal grants and low interest rate loans—DEBT. The biggest help came in the form of tax relief. They relaxed the tax guidelines by reducing the tax rate and waiving certain tax related penalties for people affected by Hurricane Katrina. For example, people were able to access money from their retirement accounts early without penalty. Allowing one to take money set aside to avoid a future crisis to solve a current crisis isn’t exactly what you’ll call a bail out.
In the end, your financial security will come from YOU working hard, living below your means, saving for future goals and making good financial decisions.
(Mortgage and Money Coach Damon Carr is the owner of ACE Financial. Damon can be reached at 412-216-1013)
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 11:01
Category: Business Written by Diane I. Daniels - Courier Business Writer
SPEAKING OUT—An advocate for the Immigration Bill, Rufus Idris executive director of the Christian Evangelistic Economic Development organization has high hopes for the bill.
The topic of immigration reform has been in the forefront of President Barack Obama’s agenda for several years. His goal is to fix what he calls the broken immigration system so that it can be “fairer for and help grow the middle class by ensuring everyone plays by the same rules." The President is requesting approval by the Senate and House of a comprehensive immigration overhaul measure for him to sign into law by years end. To Rufus Idris, a native of Kogi State, Nigeria and executive director of the Christian Evangelistic Economic Development organization, the Immigration Bill is a wise move.
For the past nine years CEED has built a reputation for assisting and developing small businesses in the region. A large portion of those businesses have been established by the immigrant and refugee population. “Creating more businesses that strengthens our economy and create jobs for Americans is inevitable. I think the Immigration Bill is a wise move towards achieving this,” he said.
Idris indicated that businesses under five years old are responsible for all net job creation over the past three decades in America, and a critical driver of new business creation in America has been entrepreneurial immigrants. “Immigrants start small businesses in their quest to become economically self-sufficient and serve the consumer needs of the local and global community,” he said.
In his strong support of the Immigrant Bill he cited that the Partnership for a New American Economy found that immigrants are now more than twice as likely as the native-born to start a business and were responsible for more than one in every four (28 percent) U.S. businesses founded in 2011, significantly outpacing their share of the population (12.9 percent).
Steadfast in its mission to revitalize, strengthen and produce healthy, self-sustaining communities through innovative programs and projects that put community members and stakeholders in the forefront of economic growth and self-sufficiency, one of CEEDs’ recent initiatives is the Immigrant Family Childcare Project. Established by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Immigrant and International Initiative, the project is designed to enhance community growth and economic self-sufficiency by developing business opportunities for immigrant and refugee women through the development of family based childcare programs. The project is in response to the need raised by its Advisory Council for culturally sensitive childcare.
“Immigrants and refugees come to America with hopes and dreams of a better life for themselves and their families,” said Krissy Kimura, the Immigrant Family Childcare Project program coordinator. “Adjusting to a new community and culture can be challenging. Finding that their family’s needs cannot be met with the income from one wage earner, it becomes necessary for many women to contribute financially to meet their family’s needs. In many cases, for women with children, the concept of using formal childcare through a center is difficult culturally and unrealistic financially. Preferring family and neighborhood support, they often find the concept of planning and organizing childcare arrangements new and difficult.”
“Our goals with this project,” she continued, “is to develop a source of employment and income by training immigrant and refugee women to become relative, neighbor and family childcare providers, building on their experience. At the same time, this provided other women the opportunity to seek employment knowing their children will be in culturally familiar care. Along with increasing opportunities for women, the training they received enhanced the level of childcare throughout the community.”
The training, according to Kimura consisted of six 12 hour hands-on interactive sessions with ten women completing it. For some of the women this program provided the first experience for them to interact with other cultures. She said nationalities included Somalia, Liberian, Togo, South Sudan, Burmese and Bhutanese.
Considered a pilot program, training was inclusive of pediatrics first aide, mandated reporting, emergency pediatrics, nutrition and three segments of business training: marketing, contracts and policies and taxes.
Partners, supporters and funders of the Immigrant Family Childcare Project included Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Vibrant Pittsburgh, and the YWCA’s Liz Prine Fund. Refugee service providers were Prospect Park Family Center, Union of African Communities in Pittsburgh, Northern Area Companies, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Catholic Charities, AJAPO, and Young Men and Women’s African Heritage Association. Kimura identified the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council as assisting with ESL needs. The Pennsylvania Southwest Regional Key is working to develop trainings in pediatric first aide, mandated reporting, emergency preparedness, nutrition, and the business component.
The Immigrant Family Childcare Project falls under CEED’s Skills to Wealth Program’s Micro-enterprise and Technical Assistance service which responds to challenges faced by startup and existing underserved and disadvantaged entrepreneurs struggling to sustain, stabilize, or grow a business in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
When asked how the Immigration Bill will affect CEED and some of their clients, Idris said, “Knowing the importance of new businesses; the economic opportunities, the jobs, and the innovative products that help us compete in the global economy, an immigration bill that gives more non-criminal immigrants a pathway to legal status in the United States will help more entrepreneurial immigrants qualify for assistance from CEED to start or grow businesses in Pittsburgh and its environs.”
Four Democrats and four Republicans known as the, “gang of eight” plan to present an immigration bill this week.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 05:59
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the New Pittsburgh Courier Digital Daily newsletter!
- That intelligence agencies monitor our calls and Internet usage shouldn’t come as a surprise (1)
- Central Baptist Church hosts 'Spring Hat Sensation' at LeMont (2)
- Pitt hosts national summit tackling poverty research cuts (2)
- Last Dance: AVA Bar & Lounge in East Liberty closing (5)
- A White South African's memories of Nelson Mandela (2)