Comments Share New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility In the Iranian capital, Tehran, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told reporters on Wednesday that cases of “imprisoned citizens” were discussed with their American counterparts during the nuclear talks.He said “humanitarian” reasons had motivated the discussion but did not elaborate.It was the first confirmation by the Iranians of any talks that may have involved the fate of former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, and retired FBI agent Robert Levinson.Araghchi spoke on the first anniversary of Rezaian’s arrest on espionage charges.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday that Iranian diplomats discussed the case of Americans still held captive by Tehran. The issue was raised on the sidelines of negotiations in Vienna earlier this month that led to the landmark deal on curbing Iran’s nuclear program.Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had said that U.S. officials raised the issue of captive Americans with Iran every day during the recent nuclear talks, but did not make it part of the negotiations because they feared it would scuttle any deal. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Men’s health affects baby’s health too Sponsored Stories Top holiday drink recipes The difference between men and women when it comes to pain
President Barack Obama is give a bouquet of flowers as he arrives at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, on Sunday, July 26, 2015, in Addis Ababa. Obama is the first sitting U.S. presidents to visit Ethiopia. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)n Obama’s trip marks the first visit by a sitting U.S. president to Ethiopia, a fast-growing economy once defined by poverty and famine.Later Monday, Obama was to convene a meeting with African leaders on the crisis in South Sudan. The world’s newest nation has been gripped by violence as warring factions in the government fight for power.“The conditions on the ground are getting much, much worse,” Obama said. He said if a peace agreement isn’t reached by an Aug. 17 deadline, the U.S. and its partners would have to “consider what other tools we have.”Options under consideration include deepening economic sanctions and an arms embargo.Obama arrived in Ethiopia late Sunday following a stop in Kenya, the country of his father’s birth. The crisis in South Sudan and the human rights challenges on his agenda punctured a trip that had otherwise been a celebratory visit of the first black U.S. president to Africa.Despite Ethiopia’s progress, there are deep concerns about political freedoms on the heels of May elections in which the ruling party won every seat in parliament.Obama said he was frank in his discussions with Ethiopian leaders about the need to allow political opponents to operate freely. He also defended his decision to travel to the East African nation, comparing it to U.S. engagement with China, another nation with a poor human rights record. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments Share 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Mesa family survives lightning strike to home ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — President Barack Obama urged Ethiopia’s leaders Monday to curb crackdowns on press freedom and political openness as he began a visit that human rights groups say legitimizes an oppressive government.“When all voices are being heard, when people know they are being included in the political process, that makes a country more successful,” Obama said during a news conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of ___AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace contributed to this report.___Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleapCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. “Nobody questions our need to engage with large countries where we may have differences on these issues,” he said. “That’s true with Africa as well.”Ethiopia’s prime minister defended his country’s commitment to democracy.“Our commitment to democracy is real — not skin deep,” he said. Asked about his country’s jailing of journalists, he said his country needed “ethical journalism” and reporters that don’t work with terrorist organizations.Ethiopia is the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists in Africa, after Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.Ahead of Obama’s arrival, the Ethiopian government released several journalists and bloggers it had been holding since April 2014 on charges of incitement and terrorism. Many others remain in detention.Sarah Margon, the Washington director of the organization Human Rights Watch, said Obama’s visit undermines the president’s goals of good governance on the African continent.“In many ways, I guess it’s a reward,” Margon said. “Ethiopia at this time doesn’t deserve that.” Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Top Stories Despite differences on human rights, the U.S. sees Ethiopia as an important partner in fighting terrorism in the region, particularly the Somalia-based al-Shabab network. Ethiopia shares intelligence with the U.S. and sent troops into Somalia to address instability there.The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab claimed credit for a suicide bomb at a luxury hotel in Somalia’s capital Sunday that killed nine people and injured nearly two dozen more. The Jazeera Hotel was considered the most secure in Mogadishu and is frequented by diplomats, foreigners and visiting heads of state.Obama said the attack was a reminder that “we have more work to do” in stemming terrorism in the region.Ethiopia has also been an important U.S. partner in the effort to end South Sudan’s civil war. The prime minister was among the leaders joining Obama in Monday’s meeting on the crisis.South Sudan was thrown into conflict in December 2013 by a clash between forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, and President Salva Kiir, a Dinka. The fighting has spurred a humanitarian crisis, throwing the country into turmoil four years after its inception.The U.S. was instrumental in backing South Sudan’s bid for independence, which was overwhelmingly supported by the country’s people.
Source = Finnair Skytrax, the international airline survey company, has renewed Finnair’s four-star rating on the grounds of the audit report conducted as part of the World Airline Star Rating programme. The rating is based on an impartial and thorough assessment of all the services the airline offers.“We are delighted about this rating,” says Anssi Komulainen, Senior Vice President, Customer Service. “This is a recognition of all our joint efforts. We have determinedly renewed our customer service and the whole chain of service works better than before. Thanks for this great achievement belongs to our whole personnel.”Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Geoff Stone, went on to say “We are very proud of this achievement and are always striving to better our service to our customers. This has shown through in more and more passengers choosing to fly Finnair to Europe”.Finnair is the only Nordic airline with a four-star Skytrax rating. In 2010 and 2011, airline passengers also voted Finnair the best airline in Northern Europe in the Skytrax World Airline Awards. World Airline Awards™ are the global benchmark of airline excellence.
The travel industries in Australia and the Asia Pacific more broadly face many challenges and opportunities, according to TravelPort vice president global distribution and sales, Damian Hickey.“One of the challenges is that it is a very cyclical industry, our industry just because of the complexity of it, is very rigid, it does not have a lot of flexibility, especially in terms of its cost base,” Mr Hickey told ETB News.“Take airlines for example, a lot of them are fixed or they are not under control, you’ve got fuel and labour costs and outside of that the rest is not very manageable and for the airlines and other service providers in the market, this means that they are trying introduce a lot more flexibility so they can be more competitive and reactive to the market.”Mr Hickey also said on the other side of the ledger there are consumers that are very savvy with technology and this can help drive down the cost base and yields.“At the same time, you have travelling consumers that are much more sophisticated, very demanding, they have access to a phenomenal amount of information and content, a lot of it thanks to the internet,” Mr Hickey said.Additionally, Mr Hickey said that this is where Travelport as a travel commerce provider can act as a bridge to allow airlines and consumers to do business.“We see our role as enabling more flexibility in travel business model, we asked what can we do to help travel agents, low cost carriers and full service airlines to help them build their market share and customer satisfaction, however it is not a matter of focussing on just one group, ” Mr Hickey said.On the Asia Pacific front, Mr Hickey said that most of Travelport’s business is going on in Asia and that this is primarily being driven by low cost carriers.The final trend that Mr Hickey mentioned was the travel industry being way behind in terms of engaging with mobile savvy and digital native consumers.“Mobile first will become the norm, travellers will expect consistency from buying an experience to the post-booking platform on TripAdvisor but our industry is still using back-end systems that are nearly 60 years old.”“When these carriers first came to market, they had a commercial advantage and a first to market first advantage, however, now they are competing against themselves and downsized full service airlines,” Mr Hickey said.“Increasingly now these low cost airlines are going after as many customers as they can through as many channels as they can and are trying to enter less price sensitive markets because their margins are already very low.”Mr Hickey said that the fact that so many airlines has signed up before the Travelport Rich Content and Branding component of the platform went to market is a sign that they like the technology.Source = ETB News: Tom Neale
Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb has launched a new initiative to attract more international business events to Australian shores.Building on the success of the recent China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) in securing greater opportunities for the local tourism sector, Mr Robb said the ‘Attracting Business Events to Australia’ initiative, will further enhance Australia’s thriving tourism market.“Business events in Australia have a global reputation for being first-class, stellar events; they’re extremely important in terms of promoting Australia to the world,” Mr Robb said.“They showcase Australia’s business capabilities, foster trade and investment outcomes, facilitate stronger people-to-people links and make a significant contribution to our economy.”‘Attracting Business Events to Australia’ sets out a framework for the Australian Government, through Austrade and Tourism Australia to work with industry during the bidding and event-delivery process.Under the new framework, Austrade will coordinate ministerial support for an event and will organise onshore and offshore promotion, while Tourism Australia will partner with industry to provide marketing and promotional materials.“This new framework demonstrates the common sense approach this Government has taken to the tourism portfolio, by moving it under the trade umbrella; allowing closer alignment between the work done by Austrade – our export promotion agency – and Tourism Australia,” Mr Robb said.With the tourism sector already worth more than $13 billion a year, this new initiative will make a significant contribution to the Tourism 2020 goal, of increasing overnight visitor expenditure to between $115 billion and $140 billion by the year 2020.Australian Convention Bureau play a critical role in securing international business events for Australia and under this new framework they will serve as the first point of contact for event organisers.Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wiseman
Sometimes karma does come aroundroomsXML were one of a few wholesalers who really had substantial losses throughout the liquidation process of CTS travel.Arguably, roomsXML were too accommodating in over extending credit and support to the agent and lost out but luckily a little karma has come back their way. roomsXML were contacted directly by the parents of Paige Toner to query on the status of the accommodation that Paige had booked through the agent.The bookings were live but over AUD$1800 was unpaid, however the travellers had already paid the agency, with no funds flowing to roomsXML.In his weekly agent support piece, on Monday in ETB Travel News Mark wrote in reflection , “the 18-year-olds and the dream holiday, lots of saving, a few thousand dollars. Probably hurting the most.”So roomsXML gave them a discount and incurred a further AUD$500 loss on the booking, and took the background approach by not telling anyone.Luckily for them, the travellers, Paige Toner and her family, did mention roomsXML in what will no doubt be a Facebook page heavily referenced by the travel media in the coming days. Sometimes karma does come around.Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wiseman
Left Andrew Denman WAS/Hawaiian Airlines, Tom Goldman, Goldman Travel Group, Les Cassar, Aviation Online / Breakaway Travel Group /Air Malta Tourism NSW, Barry Brown, Emirates Australasia, Ron Rosalky, former Qantas/Tourism NSW, Brian Deeson, Deeson Hospitality /Air Marketing Asia Pacific, Col Hughes, JITO -Online Travel Recruitment Co /Aviation Online, Avril Northridge, Marriott Interntional, Fiona Rose, L.E Hospitality Group, Catherine Mancuso, CCM Corporate Travel/Events Group Source = Bill McNamarra – Air Marketing Asia Pacific – TEC Bill McNamarraTravel Elite Club Christmas Party 2015 a great successBill McNamarra is no stranger to the travel and tourism industry and like most of the industry executives is highly networked and an old school professional.Bill, knows how to hold a successful event, in fact, he arranges four events each year for the travel industries elite senior management, one of the most popular being the Christmas Event. With numbers growing at each event, senior management view these superb get togethers as a great opportunity to not only catch up with old friends but to also do a little bit of business. In today’s hectic world, senior management rarely have the opportunity to catch up with their friends and colleagues, the Travel Elite Club lunches are the perfect vehicle for such gatherings said Mr McNamarra.Left Peter Podesta Classic Voyages Terri Ann /John Cruwys Elite Travel Events Jeanette Kritilech / Sally Anne Wilson Travel Logistics Group Adrian Miller Pacific Star Airlines Manila History of Travel Elite ClubIn September 2010 a Senior Group of Travel Industry Executive Managers got together over lunch to form a new Travel Club Luncheon Group that would give former / existing and aspiring Senior Travel Managers a forum and opportunity to network and meet other members and guests in a convivial and relaxed atmosphere for discussions on what’s new in our Travel Industry and discuss possible business opportunities.Access to the TEC Club is by invitation only through TEC committee based 10 years of Senior Travel Management experience covering all aspects of our Travel Industry eg TMCS ,PCOS ,Airlines Cruising ,Hospitality, Travel Media, Tourism bodies Boutique Travel Agencies, Tour Wholesalers and Travel Marketing Companies.TEC Club now has 120 members and growing. At each TEC Luncheon all TEC members and guests individually are formally introduced by Bill with an opportunity to network during the luncheon and of course exchange business cards.The TEC Formula is working very well following excellent feedback from members /guests saying this years Christmas Travel Elite Club Luncheon was the Best Independent Travel Club Event /Forum in Sydney for many years said Mike Hatton Former President AFTA and Bill Mc Namara Managing Director, Air Marketing Asia Pacific – The Preferred Travel Representation Company /President TEC Club.On behalf of all your friends within the industry Bill, we say “THANK YOU”, Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2016.Next TEC Luncheon event will be at Luna Park on March 4th offering progressive dining experiencing Luna Parks key dining venues coordinated by Gary Manuel TEC Member Note: TEC Luncheons held every 4 monthsLeft Len Edmonds, Edmonds Travel Autos, Bruce Morton Former P&O, Barry Mayo House of Travel/Travel Managers, Gary Manual, Luna Park Convention Centre, Imre Gomes, Student World Travel, Charles Shaw, Travel Sales Group, Adam Watson, APAG/World Reps left Jennifer Gorrie, Right Directions Travel, Julian Good Featherdale WildLife Park, Tony Dear former Comprehensive Travel Insurance, Alan / Janet Collingwood The TIC Travel Group/Travel Mentor program former Qantas Holidays/Thai Airways
TAT steps up marketing drive to attract upmarket golfers from ChinaTAT steps up marketing drive to attract upmarket golfers from ChinaMore than 120 golfers and 10 media representatives from five cities in China participated in a golf tournament organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) as part of a strategy to boost Thailand’s profile amongst one of China’s most rapidly-rising customer segments.The golfers from Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming, Chengdu and Guangzhou enjoyed several rounds of their favourite sport on 9 May, 2018, at the Alpine Golf Club, Pathum Thani province and later participated in a golf clinic as well as a one-to-one exchange with Mr. Thongchai Jaidee, Thailand’s number one Golf Ambassador.Ms. Runjuan Tongrut, TAT Executive Director of the East Asia Region, presided over the reception and closing ceremony and presented trophies to the winners. The golfers also enjoyed a demonstration of Thai massage and Thai cooking at the event.The tournament was the highlight of a special five-day package organised by TAT under the “Amazing Thailand Golf Paradise 2018” campaign to boost awareness of Thailand’s world-class golf courses and facilities, boost visitors’ expenditure and enhance the sales of Thai golf packages in China.Thailand boasts more than 280 international standard golf courses nationwide. The sport can be enjoyed all year with high standards of service and facilities available at value-for-money prices.The campaign to grow the number of golfers from China is an extension of similar TAT campaigns conducted in Japan, Korea, India and Europe in recent years. It is an important part of the strategy to attract more high-spending visitors to Thailand with the potential to generate spin-off business in other niche-market sectors; such as, Weddings and Honeymoons, Health and Wellness, and Gastronomy Tourism.TAT will also be holding its annual Thailand Golf Travel Mart between 23-26 July, 2018, at the Duangjit Resort and Spa in Phuket.China is Thailand’s leading source market of visitor arrivals. Of the 9.8 million Chinese arrivals in 2017, TAT estimates 90,000 were golfers generating 450 billion Baht for the Thai economy.Source = Tourism Authority of Thailand
In order to make stronger the bonds between the two nations, Netherlands Cobra Museum has partnered with India’s Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum. Cobra Museum is a link between modern art and contemporary art and is the only museum to have a diverse collection of Cobra art movement. Where else, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum showcases the city’s cultural heritage and history through its rare collection and fine arts.Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, Managing Trustee and Director, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum said, “We are extremely happy to partner with the Cobra Museum. This is the beginning of exchange of culture between Amsterdam, Amstelveen and Mumbai. This partnership will see exchange of exhibitions, workshops and education programmes for the youth across both the countries.”Els Ottenhof, Executive Director, Cobra Museum of Modern Art said, “We are the first and the only museum which is entirely dedicated to Cobra art. The Cobra art movement started somewhere in the mid 1900’s. We are delighted to partner with Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum as both these museums inspire society and will continue to in the future.”The collaboration was witnessed by Eberhard Van Der Laan, Mayor, Amsterdam; Mirjam Van ‘t Veld, Mayor, Amstelveen; Geoffrey Van Leeuwen, Consul General, Kingdom of the Netherlands and Frans Van Der Avert, Chief Executive Officer, Amsterdam Marketing.
Lufthansa recently organised the Startup Expo, 2016, in partnership with The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). The largest initiative of its kind, the Expo brought startups, mentors, investors, industry partners and government to the same platform, supported by a corporate in partnership with TiE, a leading entrepreneurial organisation.The expo provided an opportunity to 200 aspiring entrepreneurs to showcase their ventures, attend insightful workshops, expert talks, mentoring sessions.The event witnessed participation from entrepreneurs ranging from women entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, student entrepreneurs, service providers, technology and food entrepreneurs. The participating startups interacted with 30 investment decision makers in investor zones where 700 meetings between the investors and startups took place. They also got the opportunity to network with top business experts like Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Vice Chairman, Naukri.com, Deep Kalra, Founder and Group CEO, Make My Trip India Pvt Ltd, Alok Mittal , Founder, Indifi Technologies, O P Manchanda, CEO, Dr Lal Path Labs Pvt Ltd and more, besides investors, VCs, accelerators, industry associations, service organisations and corporates to be successful entrepreneurs.The Startup Expo received a widespread support and participation from organisations such as Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, GOI, Department of Science & Technology, Nasscom, CII, PHD Chambers, NEN, Indian Angel Network, SheTheStory, Yourstory, LetsVenture, SIDBI, PadUp Ventures, IvyCamp, AWS, CIIE, Microsoft Ventures etc.Wolfgang Will, Director, South Asia, Lufthansa Passenger Airlines, highlighted, “The Startup Expo pays tribute to the entrepreneurial energy in India driving one of the largest startup systems in the world. It is another link in Lufthansa Runway to Success, which has grown over the past four years into one of the biggest SME platforms in the country. We are delighted with the overwhelming response to the initiative, an affirmation of the fact that India is very close to our heart and that as a brand we are more Indian than you think.”
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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand by the founding fathers of the original ASEAN countries; namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The nations of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam have since joined this regional grouping.This year in 2017, ASEAN will reach its 50th Anniversary since formation. In celebration of this remarkable milestone, the ten ASEAN national tourism organisations have jointly developed a tourism programme under the campaign theme ‘Visit ASEAN@50: Golden Celebration’ with the objectives of commemorating the 50th anniversary of ASEAN and embracing ASEAN as a single and united tourism destination.‘Visit ASEAN@50: Golden Celebration’ will highlight ASEAN’s best 50 festivals and 50 most unforgettable travel experiences, whereby visitors will enjoy a wide range of ASEAN tourism products through diverse destinations, culinary, events and engagements with local communities. Special offers and travel promotions in affiliated with partners will be rolled out for travellers to enjoy the richness of cultural, heritage, nature and to feel the warmth of ASEAN hospitality, at the value deal.Targeting major regional and long-haul source markets such as China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia, UK, Germany, Russia, the UAE, USA and Canada, ‘Visit ASEAN@50: Golden Celebration’ hopes to achieve 121 million international visitor arrivals to the region by the end of 2017; increase tourism receipts to USD 83 billion; and extend tourist visitations’ average length of stay to 6-7 days and to more than two ASEAN countries.‘Visit ASEAN@50: Golden Celebration’ promotion campaign was presided over by ASEAN Tourism Ministers and leaders at ITB Berlin 2017 on March 9, 2017 at the Philippines pavilion. As part of the promotion campaign activity, ASEAN has organised cultural shows on March 11-12, 2017 in rotation at Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand pavilions.
Travelport has secured a new partnership with Ugo Transfers to expand the number of ground transport services offered to travel agents.Ugo Transfers, which aggregates ground transfer content will provide more than 68,000 travel agents globally with access to a wide range of ground transport services in over 100 countries. Bookings will be available on the Ugo app via the Travelport Smartpoint agency desktop solution.Tony Hopwood, Travelport’s Senior Director for Products & Solutions in Asia Pacific, said, “Ugo Transfers will provide our agents with more content and booking choices for ground transportation. We hope that making this app accessible to travel agencies using Travelport’s Smartpoint will allow agents to create a faster and more efficient workflow, improving the response time for their customers.”In addition to individual bookings, Ugo Transfers recently launched a specialised ‘service centre’ that allows for requests to cater to larger groups and other customised options.“This will add another layer of reassurance and personalised service delivery for our customers. We are looking forward to providing more travel agents with a seamless solution to search and book for ground transportation. Travelport has been a very supportive partner and we look forward to continuing our great relationship with the team,” said Brad Wicks, Managing Director of Ugo Transfers.
“”Chrysalis Holdings, LLC””:www.chrysalisholding.com/, has added a new member to its board of directors, with the announcement that Maylene Tan Khieu will join the company’s leadership. Khieu is the chief credit officer and senior vice president of compliance for “”NewDay Financial, LLC””:www.newdayyes.com/, which is a key holding for Chrysalis.[IMAGE]Khieu is well prepared for his role on Chrysalis’ board of directors, thanks to her experience heading up NewDay’s risk management department. Additionally, Khieu is responsible for personnel management, training, and investor relationship management for the company, making her a strong asset for the new position with Chrysalis. Rob Posner, NewDay’s CEO, said of Khieu’s addition to the board, “”During May’s tenure as chief credit officer at NewDay Financial she has been responsible for a risk management team [COLUMN_BREAK]that has an impressive record of loan performance. As an FHA direct endorsement and VA approved underwriter with significant experience underwriting FHA, VA and reverse mortgages, May’s contributions have been a cornerstone in our company’s ongoing success and continued growth as one of the nation’s leading originators of government mortgage loans.””Prior to taking on her executive duties with NewDay, Khieu was the company’s vice president of underwriting. Additionally,she has also served as the operations manager for Federal Funding corporation.Chrysalis’ director and chairman of the board, Paul Thomson III, noted of Khieu’s appointment, “”May will be a valuable asset on the Chrysalis board, bringing a wealth of hands-on experience and a detailed perspective on loan performance to our deliberations and decision-making.””NewDay is the exclusive provider of mortgage lending for Veterans of Foreign Wars members, and the entity is an approved “”Ginnie Mae””:www.ginniemae.gov/ seller and servicer. As a “”Department of Housing and Urban Development””:www.hud.gov/-approved reverse mortgage lender, NewDay boasts branch offices in Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; and Austin, Texas.Chrysalis operates primarily as an investment entity in the financial services industry, focusing on early stage capital, infrastructure development, and management expertise. The company’s holdings include NewDay, “”LendingSpace Partners, LLC””:www.lendingspace.com/, and “”Chrysalis Analytics, LLC””:www.canalytics.com/. NewDay Exec Added to Chrysalis Board of Directors in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology November 1, 2011 484 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2011-11-01 Abby Gregory Share
Speaking before the “”Senate Banking Committee””:http://banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Home.Home Tuesday, the inspector-general of the “”Federal Housing Finance Agency””:http://www.fhfa.gov/ (FHFA) portrayed the agency as one beset by failures to adequately monitor and validate controls for executive compensation, examinations, and more.[IMAGE]IG Steve Linick referenced a recent report from his office that found the FHFA needs to improve by taking measures to independently validate executive compensation packages.He said that “”reports also have identified deficiencies in FHFA operations, and these deficiencies appear to reflect two significant and related trends. First, FHFA often relied [COLUMN_BREAK]on determinations of the Enterprises without independently testing and validating them, thereby giving undue deference to Enterprise decision-making. “”Second, FHFA was not proactive in oversight and enforcement, and accordingly, resource allocations may have affected its ability to oversee the GSEs and enforce its directives,”” he added.Compensation approval methods proved controversial last month when multiple news outlets publicized $13 million in bonuses for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac senior-level executives.He said that he felt concerned failures to mitigate bad controls would lead to more excessive compensation packages for GSE executives in the future.The inspector-general also said that his office would continue to examine every step of the mortgage underwriting process, “”from the beginning of servicing to the end of servicing.””Linick further faulted the FHFA for failure to properly provide for examiners by allocating resources in the most sufficient manner.””FHFA was not proactive in its enforcement,”” he told lawmakers. December 13, 2011 451 Views in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing FHFA IG Addresses Senate Banking Committee Share Agents & Brokers Fannie Mae FHFA Freddie Mac Lenders & Servicers Processing Senate Banking Committee Service Providers 2011-12-13 Ryan Schuette
in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing January 9, 2013 410 Views NAR Projects Record High for Housing Affordability in 2012 Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Prices Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates National Association of Realtors Processing Service Providers Underwriting Standards 2013-01-09 Esther Cho The year 2012 is on its way to becoming the most affordable year housing has seen since recordkeeping began in 1970, according to data from the “”National Association of Realtors””:http://www.realtor.org (NAR).[IMAGE] In November, the NAR’s Housing Affordability Index reached 198.2, down 2.5 index points from October, but up 1.5 points from a year ago. The index determines affordability based on the relationship between median home price, median family income, and average mortgage interest rate. The index also assumes 25 percent of gross income is devoted to principal and interest and a 20 percent down payment would be made. [COLUMN_BREAK] Based on data up to November, NAR also projects the index will set a record high of 194 in 2012, beating the high of 186 in 2011. However, record affordability doesn’t necessarily translate into more homeowners. “”Although 2012 was highest on record, the excessively tight underwriting precluded many would-be homebuyers from locking-in generational low interest rates,”” explained Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. NAR president Gary Thomas, added, “”A more sensible lending environment that makes it easier for other financially qualified buyers to get a mortgage would allow many more households to enter the market, boosting home sales as much as 10 to 15 percent.””While affordability is expected to see a new high in 2012, NAR expects affordability in 2013 to drop to 160. NAR noted an average of 160 means a median-income family would have 160 percent of income necessary to buy a median-priced existing single-family home. “”Rising home prices and a gradual uptrend in mortgage interest rates will offset improvements in family income, but 2013 likely will be the third best on record in terms of household buying power,”” Yun noted. Share
NAHB Improving Markets Index Grows to 274 March 22, 2013 437 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Prices Homebuilders Housing Permits Investors Jobs Lenders & Servicers National Association of Home Builders Processing Service Providers 2013-03-22 Tory Barringer in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing The “”National Association of Home Builders'””:http://www.nahb.org/default.aspx (NAHB) Improving Markets Index (IMI) showed no signs of slowing down in March, rising for its seventh consecutive month.[IMAGE]The index, the product of a partnership between NAHB and “”First American””:http://www.firstam.com/, recognizes markets that have shown long-term improvement from their respective troughs in the areas of housing permits, home prices, and employment.According to NAHB, 274 metros are now on the mend, a net gain of 15 since February. While 19 markets were dropped, 34 new areas were added, including Birmingham, Alabama; Santa Barbara, California; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Bloomington, Indiana.For the second straight month, metros in all 50 states–as well as the District of Columbia–are represented on the list of improving markets. NAHB chairman Rick Judson said the index’s growth and diversity proves “”[t]he expanding housing recovery is energizing communities nationwide by generating jobs and local tax revenues,”” though he noted the housing market could serve as a greater catalyst for growth “”if credit for building and buying homes was more readily available.””NAHB chief economist David Crowe agreed that while the trend is positive, there are still obstacles in the way.””With just over 75 percent of the 361 metros covered by the IMI now seen as improving, the housing market is on considerably more solid footing than it was at this time last year,”” Crowe said. “”While we expect this positive momentum to continue, it’s important to understand that many markets are just beginning the recovery process, and that numerous issues–from credit availability to the rising cost of building materials and emerging lot shortages–are slowing the pact of that advancement.”” Share
August 31, 2017 736 Views in Daily Dose, Featured, Headlines, News, Origination, Servicing 1.4 Million Unauthorized Wells Fargo Accounts Uncovered Wells Fargo employees may have potentially opened another 1.4 million fake accounts, putting the total number of fraudulent accounts at an estimated 3.5 million. The bank believes that practice had been going on a lot longer than anticipated.To address this controversy, Wells Farggo examined data going as far back as 2009 to determine the extent of unauthorized accounts. Refunds for the total pool of unauthorized accounts are estimated to be approximately $6 million, which is double the amount the bank originally estimated.“We apologize to everyone who was harmed by unacceptable sales practices,” Wells Fargo CEO Timothy J. Sloan told the Washington Post. “We are working hard to ensure this never happens again and to build a better bank for the future.”Upon hearing the news, Warren Buffet, one of Wells Fargo’s largest shareholders, told to CNBC, “When you put the focus on an organization that has hundreds of thousands of people working for it, you may very well find that it wasn’t just the one that misbehaved. And of course, it was more than one in the Wells Fargo case.”Elizabeth Warren, who has been highly critical of the bank since the practice was discovered, remained steadfast in her call for consequence. She said, via Twitter, “The Federal Reserve should remove every Wells Fargo Board member who served during this scandal. I don’t know what they’re waiting for.”In a recent interview, Sloan told DS News, “Clearly, right now at Wells Fargo, my job is to ensure we are all applying tremendous focus on making the changes necessary to help rebuild trust and always doing what is right for our customers. This is foundational to who we are and how we operate.” Share Wells Fargo 2017-08-31 Brianna Gilpin
Necessary materials such as softwood lumber, oriented strand board, and ready-mix concrete used in homebuilding aren’t getting cheaper, according to August’s Department of Labor’s Producer Price Index (PPI).Prices for softwood lumber rose for the second straight month, following a 3 percent decrease from May to June. Prices have steadily been climbing—from July to August they rose 2.5 percent, putting them near the annual peak recorded in May.The price for oriented strand board rose 2.9 percent month-over-month, but as the National Association of Home Builders reports, this could be inconsistent due to the fact that the Labor Department’s numbers include waferboard, which could bring down the average. August marks the first time in three months that the price of oriented strand board has increased in value, and since the beginning of 2017 the price has increased 9.2 percent. From January 2016 to date, the price index has seen a rise of over 30 percent.Seasonally adjusted, ready-mix concrete saw the smallest increase in price of a modest 0.5 percent, which is on par with its average monthly increase since the year 2000.Gypsum was the only material that dropped in price, at a similar but opposite rate as ready-mix concrete: down 0.6 percent. However, due to the fact that it is one of the primary ingredients used to make plaster and stucco, experts believe this could be one of the first materials to be affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.On a national scale, PPI showed little movement from July to August, rising only 0.2 percent. From June to July, the national PPI dropped 0.1 percent.To see the full PPI from the Labor Department, along with other economic factors, click here. Share Building a Home Isn’t Getting Less Expensive September 14, 2017 532 Views Homebuilding Labor Department 2017-09-14 Joey Pizzolato in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, News, Origination
boom Danielle Hale Home Prices HOUSING mortgage Realtor.com 2017-11-13 Nicole Casperson in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News Almost 10-Years Later: Home Prices Return to Boom Levels Share November 13, 2017 598 Views Home prices have returned to boom levels similar to 10-years ago when the housing bubble burst and catapulted the Great Recession. Despite similarities between then vs. now, the current market is experiencing material differences, according to data released Monday from Realtor.com. Historically low inventory levels, tighter lending standards, significant job and household growth, and a strong housing market backed by economic fundamentals are allegedly keeping the U.S. from another bubble burst.The biggest difference between the past and present are updated lending standards. With reforms like Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Protection Act requiring loan originators to show verified documentation that a borrower is able to repay a loan, lending standards are the tightest they have been in 20 years, the report noted.”Lending standards are critical to the health of the market,” said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for Realtor.com. “Unlike today, the boom’s under-regulated lending environment allowed borrowing beyond repayable amounts and atypical mortgage products, which pushed up home prices without the backing of income and equity.”With the revised lending standards, the median 2017 home loan FICO score was 734, an increase from 700 in 2006, on a scale of 330 to 830.2.Additionally, tight lending standards have kept home flipping and over-building in check by limiting borrowing power. However, this has contributed to constrained construction levels.In 2006, there were 1.4 single-family housing starts for every household formed, which doesn’t represent a healthy market. Currently, the market is below normal construction levels at 0.7 single-family household starts per household formation, according to the data.However, economic fundamentals, such as strong employment and demand paired with low inventory is driving prices higher in the current market. However according to Hale, it is important to remember rising home prices didn’t cause the housing crash.”It was rising prices stoked by subprime and low documentation mortgages, as well as people looking for short term gains—versus today’s truer market vitality—that created the environment for the crash,” said Hale.In the present market, Hale added, “The healthy economy is creating more jobs and households, but not giving these people enough places to live. Rapid price increases will not last forever. We expect a gradual tapering as buyers are priced out of the market—not a market correction, but an easing of demand and price growth as renting or adding roommates becomes a more affordable alternative.”When it comes to job growth, in October 2017, the unemployment rate was at 4.1 percent—representing a 17-year low, with more than 150,000 jobs created on average each month.Millennial job growth has also added to the rising demand, the report noted, as 52 percent of reported home shoppers were millennials. And while this generation continues to age, the demand for homes is expected to increase.In addition to the growing demand, low inventory is causing an impact. The market is currently averaging 4.2 months supply. Vacancies are very tight with for-sale vacancies dropping to 1.3 million in 2016, compared to 1.9 million in 2006.