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Clyde K. Valle

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Clyde is a business graduate interested in writing about latest news in politics and business. He enjoys writing and is about to publish his first book. He’s a pet lover and likes to spend time with family. When the time allows he likes to go fishing waiting for the muse to come.

Imagine your life without a car. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Cars make our life simple, comfortable, and more efficient. However, cars come with their own hazards. Globally, close to 3,700 people meet their untimely death through road traffic accidents.

You read that right: a whopping 3,700 individuals.

If you have a family, the risks are even much higher. When it comes to the death of children and young adults between the ages of 5 to 29 years, road traffic accidents are the foremost cause. If you’ve ever experienced a road accident or you know anyone who has been in a road accident, you know how harrowing and devastating such experiences can be.

Thus, any feature that can ensure your car is safe should not be sneered at. Such measures should be wholeheartedly embraced and implemented. Here are three such measures (accessories).

Auto Emergency Braking

Cars with an Auto Emergency Braking (AEB) are 38% less likely to collide with another car. That’s how efficient an AEB feature is.

An AEB feature slows down your car or completely stops it in the event of a looming accident. It works by alerting the driver of an impending crash, but if the driver fails to take action, the AEB feature takes over and brings the car to a halt.

So, when you decide to purchase a new car, make sure you find a car that has an AEB fitted. For various manufacturers, an AEB feature may have another name. For instance, with Mazda, it is called the Smart City Brake Support while Mitsubishi calls it the Forward Collision Mitigation.  Check with your car manufacturer or retailer to ensure your car has an AEB feature.

Ignition Interlock Device

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, someone is injured in a drunk-driving crash every 90 seconds. This makes DUI related offenses one of the leading causes of road traffic crashes.

There have been various measures implemented to curb drunk driving, particularly license suspensions. However, the most effective way to curtail drunk driving is to use an Ignition interlock device. The device is a car breathalyzer that controls a vehicle’s ignition.

The driver, before starting a car, would be required to provide a breath sample through the mouthpiece of the ignition interlock device. Once the sample returns a breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) value beyond the stipulated value (0.02 for most states in the U.S), the car will not start.

While ignition interlock devices are often mandated for people who have been convicted of drunk-driving, it is also very beneficial for any ordinary driver.

Driver Fatigue Monitoring

Driver fatigue or drowsiness is a major cause of road accidents.

Using a unique pupil identification technique, the feature analyzes the behavior of a driver’s eyes and predicts if the driver is getting drowsy and not in the state to drive.

While the specifics differ by brands, this feature usually comes with WiFi, GPS, and built-in infrared light. If there is any aberration in driving behavior (including calls, tiredness, anxiety, smoking), sound and light alarms will go off. The Driver Fatigue Monitoring tool is especially useful for long journeys.

Wrapping Up

Your life is precious. With car accidents among the leading causes of deaths globally, it is imperative that everyone takes measures to ensure their cars are safe.

Fitting your car with devices such as ignition interlock device and auto emergency braking and making sure your airbags are always functional are crucial ways to keep your car – and more importantly, yourself and your family – safe.

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Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70.

The three-time world champion, who underwent a lung transplant in August 2018, “passed away peacefully” on May 20, his family announced.

“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain a role model and a benchmark for all of us,” his family’s statement said.

Niki Lauda, one of the best-known figures in motor racing, took the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and McLaren in 1984.

For many, the legendary Austrian will be remembered for his remarkable recovery and return to racing after being badly burned in a crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix.

A new generation of fans was introduced to Niki Lauda in the acclaimed 2013 film Rush, which detailed his rivalry with British driver James Hunt, the 1976 world champion.

Image source: Wikimedia

Michael Schumacher health status: F1 champion faces long fight for recovery one year after skiing accident

Niki Lauda, who was born in Vienna in February 1949, was a motor racing legend who went on to be a successful businessman following his retirement from the sport.

However, the Austrian was probably best-known for surviving a crash during the 1976 season which left him scarred for life.

On August 1, 1976, one year after winning his first title, Niki Lauda suffered third-degree burns to his head and face and inhaled toxic gases that damaged his lungs after his vehicle burst into flames at Nurburgring.

Niki Lauda was given the last rites in hospital but made an almost miraculous recovery and returned to racing, still bandaged, just 40 days later.

After his career as a racing driver, Niki Lauda became an airline entrepreneur and, most recently, a non-executive chairman for the Formula 1 Mercedes team, instrumental in bringing in British driver Lewis Hamilton, who has won five world championships.

However, ill health followed him into his later years and he underwent a lung transplant last year.

Niki Lauda had previously had two kidney transplants, the second donated in 2005 by his then-girlfriend Birgit Wetzinger, a former flight attendant for his airline whom he married in 2008.

In January 2019, he spent 10 days in hospital while suffering from influenza.

Niki Lauda leaves behind his wife, their twins born in 2009, and three sons from previous relationships.

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Many people dream of becoming an entrepreneur – having their own shop to sell clothes, shoes, bags and other stuff. It is a good business which can be a stable source of income. However, not many can afford the big capital required to start a store. Budget is indeed a big factor but what if we tell you that there’s a way to fulfill this dream without having to spend too much money to start with? The answer to this is the internet. You can start your shopping business online without needing big money as capital. We will share some tips on how to start a shopping business online.

  1. Come up with a winning business plan – of course you need a plan before you start your business. What are you planning to sell on your website? Do you want to sell shoes, bags, clothes and apparels or do you plan to offer other goods like baked goods or probably handmade jewelries other products? It is important to know what you will offer.
  2. Choose a remarkable domain name – your website is going to be your virtual shop thus you need to come up with a name that can be remembered by users immediately. It is best if they can easily name your site when someone asks them where they purchased what they purchased on your site.
  3. Choose reliable hosting site – It is important that your site is always up and running especially during peak hours wherein many people are browsing and potentially shopping. You should make sure to choose a web hosting site that has good reputation of having zero to low down time and with easy to contact support team.
  4. Have an SSL certificate – SSL certificate allows safe connection between your site and users’ browser. This gives confidence to users that their details are safe on your website.
  5. Design a layout that is easy to navigation – you should ensure that visitors can easily navigate your site. For example, you should immediately show them options where they should go or what they should click from homepage to go to this page or that page. Online users do not want complicated websites.
  6. Provide various payment options – it is also good practice to provide various payment options like Visa, MasterCard, direct bank transfer or 3rd party payment options like PayPal, Neteller, Skrill and others. This makes things a lot easier for customers.
  7. Publish a thorough and easy to follow step-by-step guidelines – another thing to remember is to come up with an easy step by step guide for new users on your site. You should have a guide that they can use so they know how to register, place order, pay and so on and so forth.
  8. Provide a customer hotline or support email or chat – lastly, you should provide a support contact details that users can contact in case they have questions or enquiries.

These tips will help you start your very own online shopping site and eventually fulfill your dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Just like in running a land-based business, you should work hard and be patient. Sometimes it can take a while before the business grows and starts earning so don’t lose focus.

The US has decided to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada in a move that could lead to approval for a new North American trade deal.

In a joint statement, the US and Canada announced that a 25% tariff on steel imports, and of 10% on aluminum, will end in 48 hours.

It is widely expected the US and Mexico will make a similar announcement soon.

In 2018, the US implemented the tariffs on grounds of “national security”.

Under the new agreement, there will be no quotas on how much steel or aluminum the three countries buy from overseas.

However, the US and Canada will monitor imports and if a country is determined to be buying in too much, one of the other nations can request a consultation and potentially re-impose tariffs.

Image source: Pexels

Getting rid of the tariffs is viewed as a key hurdle to approval for the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal which was signed in 2018. It replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement.

USMCA: US and Canada Reach New Trade Deal Replacing NAFTA

Providing that Washington and Mexico City also announce an agreement to lift levies on steel and aluminum, the US, Mexico and Canada will ask their respective governments to ratify USMCA.

It also targeted US farm goods as well as items like tomato ketchup and household products.

On May 17, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said: “These tariffs were harming workers and consumers on both sides of the border. As we look at moving forward with the new NAFTA, it didn’t make a lot of sense to continue to have tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries.”

EU steel and aluminum exports to the US are still subject to the tariffs, but there has been some good news for trade relations between the two.

On May 17, President Donald Trump delayed a decision on whether to impose levies on cars and car part imports.

The White House has put back the decision by six months to allow more time for trade talks with the EU and Japan.

Tariffs of up to 25% on imported cars and car parts were under consideration.

A report by the Commerce Department claimed that imports of foreign-made cars and auto parts into the US were a threat to national security.

The report has not been published, but in his announcement President Trump cited its findings which conclude that US carmakers are missing out on revenues to invest in research and development (R&D).

The announcement said: “The lag in R&D expenditures by American-owned producers is weakening innovation and, accordingly, threatening to impair our national security.”

President Trump said he agreed with the study’s finding that imported cars and trucks were “weakening our internal economy”.

The deal with Canada, as well as the delay in higher tariffs on EU and Japanese cars and auto parts, come at a critical time for the US and China – the world’s two biggest economies.

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You have to spend money to make money: We’re told that. While that’s true in a lot of cases, it’s not always an absolute requirement. With the right tips, you can improve sales and efficiency at your call center by just spending smarter rather than spending more.

The main issue

The research indicates that 70 percent of people switch to a business rival not because they didn’t like your products or services, but because they didn’t like the customer experience. Increase your customer satisfaction and you will see sales go up accordingly. Here’s how to spend smarter to do just that:

Go omnichannel

Change out your multichannel call center software for omnichannel. Omnichannel seamlessly coordinates communications from your customers across all possible platforms. In practicality, that means your agents can communicate via IVR calls, video or audio calls, messaging, live chat, emails, and more.

Imagine this scenario: You have an issue with a business, so you navigate to their website and pull up the live chat. After a brief conversation, a chat agent advises you to call. You do so, and now you’re talking with a whole new person.

This new person knows nothing about your issue, so you have to explain the whole thing again. Once they hear the issue, they give you another number or an email because they aren’t actually the one who can deal with your issue.

This scenario is exactly how you lose customers to other businesses, even if you have a superior product. Omnichannel call center software is how you integrate all your channels for service that customers will love.

Train your people well

All the software in the world won’t help you get sales if you don’t have the best people on the job. Too many call centers make the mistake of thinking that training is all about scripts, questions, and answers. If you’re wasting money on this sort of training, it’s time to redirect your resources.

Great call center agents need to keep their cool with an irate caller. They need to be good listeners. They need to be smart and capable with the kind of cognitive skills that make it possible to really understand and solve problems.

Great call center agents also need to know how to make good decisions. They need to be warm, polite, and understanding. Some of these traits are natural; others can be taught. Spending your money in recruiting the right people and then training them in these skills is money well-spent.

Set up as many self-service options as you can

Some people always want to talk with a live person when they have a question or issue; but many of your customers would prefer to fix their problems by themselves whenever possible.

Redesign your website by improving your FAQ section and making it easy to find. Provide a search bar that’s easy to spot and returns useful answers. Rewrite technical pages and information in layman’s terms.

You should also get good IVR call software capable of doing more with voice recognition. You want as many callers as possible to get the answer they need early on in a call. Chatbots on your website can provide a similar helpful function.

It will cost a bit to set this all up, but you make it all back, and more, quickly as customers get their questions answered fast. Better yet, pleased customers will start spending more and talk about their good experience on social media.

The bottom line

You can do lots of things to slash costs here and there; but nothing will make such a profound difference in the end as excellent service. To improve your customer service, you don’t need to make drastic, expensive changes. Instead just spend your money wisely, and then watch your profits grow as satisfied customers come back again and again.

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China stocks tumbled on May 6 after President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs on Chinese goods, putting a trade deal in doubt.

President Trump announced on Twitter that the US would more than double tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods on May 3 and would introduce fresh tariffs.

Recent comments had suggested both sides were nearing a trade deal.

A Chinese delegation was due to travel to Washington this week for talks aimed at ending the trade war.

However, according to recent reports, China is now considering cancelling those talks, led by Vice-Premier Liu He, that were scheduled to resume on May 8.

Some reports said the Chinese were due to send a 100-person delegation to the negotiations.

US and China Agree to Halt New Trade Tariffs for 90 Days

US to Impose New Tariffs on Chinese Handbags, Rice and Textiles

China Imposes New Tariffs of Up to 25% on 128 US Imports

The Chinese government has yet to officially comment on President Trump’s tweets.

In China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 3.7%, while the Shanghai Composite plunged 5.3%.

US stock futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street.

On May 3, President Trump tweeted: “For 10 months, China has been paying Tariffs to the USA of 25% on 50 Billion Dollars of High Tech, and 10% on 200 Billion Dollars of other goods. These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results. The 10% will go up to 25% on Friday. 325 Billions Dollars….”

“The Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate. No!” he continued.

After imposing duties on billions of dollars worth of one another’s goods last year, the US and China have been negotiating and in recent weeks, appeared to be close to striking a trade deal.

Last week US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described talks held in Beijing as “productive”.

So far, the US has imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods, having accused China of unfair trade practices.

Beijing hit back with duties on $110 billion of American goods, blaming the US for starting “the largest trade war in economic history”.

President Trump’s latest move will raise duties on more than 5,000 products made by Chinese producers, ranging from chemicals to textiles and consumer goods.

He originally imposed a 10% tariff on these goods in September that was due to rise in January, but postponed this as negotiations advanced.

However, both US and international companies have said they are being harmed by the trade war.

Fears about a further escalation caused a slump in world stock markets towards the end of last year.

The IMF has warned a full-blown trade war would weaken the global economy.

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Real estate is a wise and popular investment option for several reasons including great returns, tax benefits, and increased value over time. When hopeful investors think about obtaining financing for real estate, the set conditions from traditional lenders stop many of them in their tracks. These include high credit scores, low debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, and a down payment of up to 30%.

Banks put these stringent requirements in place after the economic downturn in 2008 and sadly, not everyone can meet them. Even with all the necessary requirements, it can be a lengthy and agonizing process. Fortunately, non-conventional methods of financing have enabled eager investors to realize their dreams of becoming property owners, and in a short time.

These financing alternatives are hard money and private money. Although they both have advantages over traditional lending, they also have downsides. Borrowers must thoroughly research each alternative and each lender to ensure all is a good fit and to avoid disastrous situations.

What is Hard Money?

Hard money is a short term, asset-based type of loan. A hard money loan is suitable for purchasing land, construction, fixer-uppers, and flips. You can get it from a group of investors or a company. Unlike usual lenders, hard money lenders are more interested in the value of the property than your credit report.

The words ‘hard money’ does not imply that this financing is difficult to acquire. On the contrary, it’s quite easy. It actually defines the property being a hard asset. When borrowers have been frustrated by the banks, or they require quick financing, this is a great alternative. The typical payment period is 1 year although it can be increased up to 2-5 years.

Other requirements by lenders may include:

  • Property type
  • The geographical location (some lenders provide their services locally or to particular states)
  • Some may even ask you how many homes you flipped; the higher the number of homes you flipped that have had good repayment records lowers your interest rate
  • Borrower’s plan for the property. The lender may want to know the borrower’s intentions, for example, whether they plan to renovate the property or obtain further financing over the long run.

Properties Financed by Hard Money Loans

Any kind of property can be financed by a hard money loan, including commercial property, land, residential property and industrial property. A few lenders may specify a niche, for example, commercial and not residential. Very few lenders will transact with owner-occupied properties. They involve extra requirements and include loads of paperwork.

What is Private Money?

Private money is short-term financing borrowed from an individual who could be a friend or family member and can be used for financing real estate transactions. The characteristics and benefits are basically similar to those of hard money.

Benefits of Hard Money and Private Money

Quick Approval Process

The process of obtaining the loan from www.justrightloans.com is quick and straightforward. It can take a maximum of two weeks as opposed to a bank’s usual 30-40 days. No time is wasted on filling and signing piles of paperwork or checking your credit history. Lenders make decisions fast. They focus more on the property.

As long as the collateral has good value, they are not worried about whether you will make the payments or not. They will simply sell off the property and probably make more money than what you would have paid back.

Flexible Agreements

Unlike traditional lenders who have their rules set in stone, hard money lenders assess borrowers on a case-by-case basis. This means that you can come to terms about extending your repayment period based on your state of affairs.

Downsides to Hard Money Financing

High-Interest Rates

Interest rates differ for each lender and each geographical location. Areas with several money lending firms will charge lower because of competition. Loans from hard money lenders are high risk, and so they will charge high-interest, usually between 10% and 15%.

High origination free

Hard money lenders will charge a high fee for processing your loan application because the loan is risky. They can charge as much as 5% of the loan compared to banks, which might charge only 1%.

Short Repayment Period

While mortgages typically have long repayment periods of 30-40 years, these loans have a very short period of up to a maximum of 5 years. Real estate properties are not cheap and normally require a longer period to pay back unless the property is highly profitable.

Before taking on a private or hard loan, borrowers should ascertain how long it would take for the property to become profitable. Then they can see whether the repayment period is feasible.

Risk of losing the property

Since the property is the only collateral for the loan, it will end up belonging to the lender if you fail to pay it off.

Loan-to-Value Ratios

Hard money lenders use a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio to decide on the amount of the loan. Most of these lenders provide between 65 and 75% of the total value of the property. They maintain a low LTV ratio so that it’s easy for them to put the property on the market with the likelihood of getting back their money.

Some lenders will use the after-repair value (ARV) to determine the total amount of the loan. This is the future value of a property after it has been renovated by the borrower. A few lenders may even offer to cover the rehabilitation costs of the property on top of a high percentage of the ARV. This would seem attractive to the borrower; however, it makes the deal riskier because of even higher interest rates of up to 18%. If the property is highly profitable, it would be better for the borrower to cover the rehab costs.

Lenders You Should Avoid

Some hard money lenders have ruined the industry’s name with predatory lending actions. They intentionally provide high-risk loans so that the borrower is in a position of not being able to pay. They exploit the borrower’s inability to understand certain financial terms regarding loans.

Sometimes lenders will bait borrowers with attractive schemes and then, later on, switch the scheme without the borrower knowing.

They only discover these several months later when their subsequent payments are much higher. After a thorough investigation, they realize that there was a modification on the interest rate that they were not informed about. Eventually, the lenders end up owning borrower’s property when borrowers fail to pay, as was their intention all along.

Be careful not to fall prey to predatory lenders. The loan may be quick and easy to get, but you need to do thorough research, preferably with referrals if possible. Check your documents completely to make sure that they are consistent with what was agreed. Getting educated with financial terms can save you from a predatory lender.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has put on controls to eliminate this unscrupulous behavior. Many money lenders have adjusted their operations by further assessing the eligibility of borrowers through income documents.

Finding the Right Hard Money Lender

You can find the right money lender by starting with a Google search. Type in ‘your area’ + ‘hard money lenders.’ This will bring up a list of lenders that you can contact. If you have real estate clubs in your neighborhood, you could attend the meetings and find out from other investors.

The lender should ideally have a great track record and should cater to customers’ needs first. You can check out their website for reviews and meet with them to decide if they are the right fit for you. Stay away from lenders who have no reputation to speak of.

If you’re new to private lending, the lender should have several years of experience as well. You need to deal with a transparent, qualified professional who will provide sufficient knowledge about these loans, including the good and bad. This will help you weigh your options.

Although alternative lenders typically charge a high-interest rate, they aren’t all the same. You can still do some digging around to compare and find the one with the best rate for you.

Wrap Up

Every lending opportunity has a good and bad side. The point is that you choose the one that works for your situation. If you are an investor looking for lending alternatives, hopefully, the above information has given you some confidence. You can now approach hard money and private money knowing what to expect.

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Machinery is the lifeblood of any manufacturing business. The ability for your equipment to operate without fail can be a bottom line issue. It has safety implications for your team as well. However, knowing when it’s time to repair or replace vital manufacturing equipment can be challenging for business owners.

Should I replace or repair? How much are repairs going to cost? What is the extended life of the equipment if I repair versus replacing? These are all important questions manufacturers need to ask. There are certainly benefits and pitfalls associated, but we are here to help. The following five machinery replacement essentials to consider can serve as your roadmap to efficiency and productivity. Let’s dive in!

1. Take a hard look at your machinery equipment and maintenance schedule

The costs involved with replacing or repairing machinery equipment are always at the forefront when decisions need to be made by manufacturers. To most business owners, replacing is a last step due to the price tag of new equipment. But the opposite can be true in some cases.

You can get a good idea of potential equipment problems to come. Regular maintenance is good, and many manufacturers take preventive maintenance and care service (PMCS) seriously, doing it weekly. But there is also technology, like vibration sensor that can detect issues early, saving money and time down the road.

2. Don’t make assumptions when it comes to repairs and replacements

Repairs can add up pretty quickly on manufacturing equipment, since the specialization and the parts needed to make repairs have a hefty price tag. And if you combine that with multiple repairs over a fiscal year, and you have a big problem that can negatively affect your bottom line. Instead of assuming repairs are best, examine long-term repair costs versus replacement of the equipment. This will give you a clear picture of what to do.

This is very true for new equipment that needs repair. In most cases, if the machinery equipment is relatively new, repairs may be the best option. Why? Because replacing new equipment with new equipment is not short-term budget friendly. On the other hand, if the equipment that is having issues is older, it may be time to call it a day and replace it.

3. Think about the loss of production before making a decision

This is an important machinery replacement essential to consider, because the workflow and production you put out equals profits that are coming in. Depending on the industry and type of machinery equipment you have in place, repairs can often be done faster than physically replacing a unit. And since time is money, you’ll need to do a bit of math.

Let’s say a piece of equipment takes two weeks to replace, in order to meet state and federal guidelines, as well as implementation standards of your company. This two weeks will cost you $10,000 in production. However, repairing the equipment will take three days, at a cost of $2000. The repair option is definitely more cost effective.

4. Safety is a very important consideration when it comes to machinery equipment

Considering safety should be the first thought when considering replacing or repairing machinery equipment. If equipment is not safe, you are putting the lives of your team in jeopardy. You will need to make a calculated judgement call and balance your bottom line with the safety of your operators.

You also need to consider the safety of nearby equipment. For instance, if a piece of machinery can damage other machinery in your manufacturing facility, the costs of ignoring the problem can be far more dangerous and expensive down the road. Think safety of team first, safety of surrounding equipment second, and monetary cost third.

5. Consider the efficiency gain with new machinery equipment in place

Every manufacturing CEO and facility manager knows that efficiency equals profits. The ability to crank out products faster can be a calling card for retaining current and future clients. This makes replacing problematic machinery a potential must-do. If you can increase efficiency by 25 percent by replacing a piece of machinery equipment, the sticker shock will pass as soon as profits increase. This is a very sustainable manufacturing essential to consider.

In conclusion . . .

Deciding whether to repair or replace machinery equipment can weigh heavy on the mind. It is expensive, time consuming, and has bottom line costs down the road. The above five machinery replacement essentials to consider are not the be-all, end-all, but they are among the most important considerations. Take a deeper look at your equipment and make the right call.

Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan chairman and CEO, has been indicted by Japan’s prosecutors on a fresh charge of aggravated breach of trust.

It is the fourth charge brought against Carlos Ghosn and relates to the alleged misuse of company funds.

Carlos Ghosn is in detention in Tokyo and his lawyers have applied for bail.

The 65-year-old, who denies any wrongdoing, has said the allegations are a result of a plot against him.

Carlos Ghosn was first arrested in November and spent 108 days in custody. While out on bail pending a trial, he was re-arrested in Tokyo on April 4.

Japanese prosecutors allege that Carlos Ghosn made a multi-million-dollar payment to a Nissan distributor in Oman, and that as much as $5million was funneled to an account controlled by him.

Nissan to Acquire Controlling Stake in Rival Mitsubishi Motors

Nissan has filed its own criminal complaint against Carlos Ghosn, accusing him of directing money from the company for his own personal enrichment.

Carlos Ghosn was first charged with under-reporting his pay package for the five years to 2015.

In January, a new charge claimed he understated his compensation for another three years. He was also indicted on a fresh, more serious charge of breach of trust.

The case has put a spotlight on fighting within Nissan alliance and on Japan’s legal system.

Carlos Ghosn was the architect of the alliance formed between Japan’s Nissan and French auto maker Renault, and brought Mitsubishi on board in 2016.

He is credited with turning around the fortunes of Nissan and Renault over several years.

Earlier this month Carlos Ghosn said the allegations were a plot and conspiracy against him, accusing Nissan executives of backstabbing.

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So you’re ready to shop for a new car (or a used one) — great! But before you get started, you need to think about a few things. There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re shopping for something as expensive as a vehicle, and while you probably already have an idea of things like how much seating or horsepower you need, there are some burning questions that you should take a closer look at before you part with any of your hard-earned money. Here are four things to consider as you shop for your next vehicle.

What is your budget?

Americans are operating under tight budgets these days. Yet this year, many of us will head out and buy a car for far more expensive than we can afford. Lured by the siren songs of “zero down” financing and options for those with “bad credit or no credit,” we’ll take our lenders at their word and bury ourselves in debt. That may give us our dream vehicle in the short-term, but it can trigger financial disasters in the long-term.

Don’t let yourself become one of these people. Do the research yourself and make sure that you really can afford the car that you want to buy. Take all of your potential expenses into account, from the down payment to the maintenance and gas costs.

What about our planet’s future (and your wallet’s present)?

Gas-guzzling cars have played a major role in environmental problems like pollution and global warming. And, if you’re not careful, a gas guzzler could also play a major role in draining your wallet! Gas isn’t cheap, and if your car is burning through it faster than is necessary, you’re going to feel the pinch.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are now plenty of great environmentally friendly cars, including those that take alternate fuels, say the experts at a BioFuel company that handles used oil collections and other important tasks that make biofuels possible. Opting for a hybrid, an electric car, or even just a car that gets great gas mileage can help you save money while feeling better about your impact on our planet.

How will your vehicle of choice depreciate?

There are a lot of cars, trucks, SUVs, minivans, and other vehicles out there, and virtually all of them have at least one thing in common: They’re going to drop in value over time (and over the course of the miles you drive). It’s called depreciation, and it’s a certainty with most vehicles. But here’s the thing: Not all used and new cars depreciate at the same rate.

When you’re shopping for a vehicle, it pays to know which makes and models are known for holding their value — and which aren’t. Of course, you should remember that your dedication in caring for your vehicle will have a huge impact on its resale value down the line, too.

Where will you buy it?

Even after you’ve narrowed down your criteria and are well on your way to identifying your dream car, there is still some work to be done. Shopping for a car isn’t something that everyone does the same way, and some tactics have big advantages over others.

Take shopping online, for instance. Many shoppers dislike the dealership experience, where opaque pricing systems and pushy sales associates leave them feeling like they’ve been ripped off. With online shopping, on the other hand, you can bid in auctions on sites like Auto Auction Mall, research while you shop, and do your shopping on your schedule. That can lead to a more pleasant shopping experience and a better deal for you.

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Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive of the German auto maker Volkswagen, has been charged in Germany over his involvement in the company’s diesel emissions scandal.

The public prosecutor in Braunschweig charged him and four other managers with fraud.

The auto maker said it would not comment on the indictments.

Martin Winterkorn, 71, is already facing criminal charges in the US, but is unlikely to face trial, as Germany does not extradite its citizens.

He resigned soon after the so called Dieselgate scandal erupted in September 2015.

In a statement, prosecutors accused Martin Winterkorn of a “particularly serious” fraud, as well as a breach of competition laws.

They said the former VW boss should have alerted car owners and authorities in Europe and the US about the manipulation of diesel emissions tests sooner.

They also accused Martin Winterkorn of approving a “useless” software update designed to conceal the true reason for the cars’ higher emission levels.

If found guilty, Martin Winterkorn could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

VW Emissions Scandal: Former CEO Martin Winterkorn Investigated for Fraud

Martin Winterkorn Could Receive $67 Million Severance Package

Prosecutors did not name the other four senior managers charged.

VW first admitted in September 2015 that it had used illegal software to cheat US emissions tests.

The devices, which allowed cars to perform better in test conditions than they did on the road, were installed on almost 600,000 vehicles sold in the US from 2009 though 2015 and millions more globally.

They came to light after a study of emissions by researchers at West Virginia University in the US.

The Dieselgate scandal sparked investigations in Germany and other countries.

To date, the emissions scandal has cost Volkswagen roughly €28 billion, ($31 billion).

Last month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued VW and Martin Winterkorn, accusing the company of “massive fraud” over the emissions scandal.

The SEC claims VW misled investors by issuing billions of dollars worth of bonds and securities, without disclosing that it had cheated emissions tests.

VW said it would contest the SEC lawsuit vigorously.

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Of all the money invested in startups annually, $130 billion came from venture funds in 2018. This was the first year that that number crossed the $100 billion dollar line. Venture funds have also raised record amounts, and deal sizes have surged. United States firms alone have invested 4x more money into startups than they did 15 years ago.

Venture capitalism is changing, and the start of 2019 have made those shifts more apparent. For starters, the world venture capitalism tends to be different depending on who you ask—everyone from investors to startup founders have had different experiences, and the perception of what’s happening in the industry varies. Some people consider it a golden ticket to growth, while others believe today’s business climate means it’s better left avoided. But regardless of differing perception, one thing is clear: for emerging startups, VC funding is often the best (and only) option. Here’s how the world of venture capitalism is changing in 2019.

A Shift in Power Change

One of the first changes many have noted in venture capitalism is the slow but sure shift in power change. “With the large majority of VC returns coming from a small number of deals and more startup capital on the table, the power dynamic is shifting,” says Miruna Girtu, who specializes in researching and writing on the startup ecosystem. “Increasingly, we hear of startups picking their VCs rather than the other way around.”

More Differentiation Among VCs

With a slight shift in power change noted, venture capitalists are continuously looking for ways to differentiate themselves in a business sphere where the amount of VCs in the startup world is surging. With so much competitive pressure, venture capitalists are always looking for unique ways to tips the odds in their portfolio’s favor.

“Today, venture capitalists need to have more than just capital,” says Lee Jacobs, a former partner at AngelList. “With so many other firms on the hunt, it’s important to distinguish your model and approach. Today’s VCs need to think about what makes their firms valuable and original; ask yourself, what can you bring to the table—besides capital—that others VCs cannot?”

Image by kai kalhh from Pixabay

There ae several ways VCs can set themselves apart from their competition, and some of those methodolgies were outline at a panel called, “The Shifting Funding Landscape.” Here are a few notable ways VCs are carving a unique approach:

  • Using thesis-based investing, which analyzes how speficifc trends or industries will evolve over longer periods of time, and matching potential investments to ensure they align with their thesis model
  • Forming agencies to provide functional and operational expertise to their investments. By offering value-add services, VCs are able to attract more startups with a bigger batch of benefits
  • Investing in scouts who keep their eyes and ears open for the best potential startup investments

In-House Software

To aid the process of discovering the companies most likely to yield a high ROI, some VC firms have gone the extra mile to design in-house software. For example, InReach Ventures, a Europe-based VC, designed an internal proprietary tool called DIG. DIG uses data aggregation, workflow management, and automated proactive outreach to increase the efficiency of their sourcing efforts.

“We have been in business for only 3 years, therefore, there’s still a lot to prove,”  Roberto Bonanzinga and Karolina Kukielka, investors at InReach, told Forbes. “However, we have had some interesting validations of our unique model. For example, Shopify acquired our portfolio company Oberlo last year. When we invested in Oberlo, very few people knew that the company existed and we found them thanks to our unique data-driven approach.”

Motherbrain is another data-driven tool employed by EQT Ventures. It was designed to filter out the noise of the VC world and track and prioritize leads. According to its Investment Lead, David Fogel, this allowed them to make faster investment decisions.

A Team of Mentors & Support

Some VC firms are beginning to operate much like a long-term accelerator. This is because, to accelerate the growth of their companies, they’re bringing in a diverse team of startup specialists to help guide their investments. These specialist range in talent, offering everything from everything marketing support to product design and business intelligence.

One London-based fund called Forward Partners has conducted research to prove that this approach to helping startups grow has helped their portfolio of 50+ companies excel. According to them, by helping their startups with the right guidance and operational support, their portfolio companies are 4x more likely to reach Series A with 55% higher valuation. Those services are also offered at one-third of the typical costs.

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With nearly 60 million credit cards floating around the UK, it’s fair to say plenty of us are using multiple credit cards at once.

But how many is too many?

If you’re wondering about opening another account, consider the pros and cons before you make a move.

Lower your credit utilisation

Multiple credit cards, if used correctly, are great for your credit score. This is because of a feature called credit utilisation and how credit providers perceive it.

Credit utilisation is, in short, the percentage of credit you are using against your credit limit. For example, if you had a monthly credit limit of £1,000 and were using £800 a month, your utilisation would be 80%. £500 would be 50%, £200 would be 20%, and so on.

Where your provider is concerned, high utilisation is bad news and will affect your credit score negatively. Providers like to see utilisation of no more than 30% so, if you are close to your credit limit on one card (indeed anything above 30%), it benefits you and your credit score to spread the debt across several cards.

Spread the spend

Speaking of spreading your debt, the same process is beneficial to those struggling with a lot of debt on one card or looking to spread out a purchase cost (and avoid high utilisation).

Where high interest debt is concerned, you can use multiple cards to transfer a balance from a high interest account to a new, 0% interest card or two in order to release the pressure on an account building interest. It’s a temporary solution but saves you money in the long run.

Back yourself up

If credit cards are your main source of payment, it’s worth having multiple cards so one can be used as a backup or for emergency use.

This is useful if your card provider freezes your main card, for example if it suspects fraudulent use, or an unexpected payment comes up that needs dealing with immediately.

Reap the rewards

Credit cards offer various incentives to spend, and different credit cards offer different perks. An example would be a percentage cashback amount on certain purchases across the month.

Using different cards on the right purchases means you’re getting the most back from your spending.

Don’t lose track

The big risk with multiple cards is that they can, if mismanaged, rack up debt and harm your credit score.

The more cards you have, the easier it is to lose track of both spending and repayments. Purchase frivolously and you may spend more money than you have. Meanwhile, missing repayments can mean interest and a hit on your credit score.

The combination of the two is a vicious and very damaging cycle you don’t want to find yourself in.

Unwanted extras

Whilst you’ll no doubt be looking for the best interest deals and lowest charges, introductory offers do come to an end and many cards come with an attached monthly fee.

If you’re running a handful of cards, such fees and interest can add up, leaving you with unwanted costs at the end of the month.

Fraud risk

Just as it’s easy to lose track of your spending and repayments, it’s also harder to notice possible theft or fraud across multiple accounts if you’re not paying too much attention.

An unlikely occurrence, but another thing you need to be on top of.

So, how many cards?

The answer is no one really knows!

It depends on your current situation with outstanding debt and your future plans. More than anything your ability to responsibly manage your finances will be the determining factor in selecting the right number of credit cards for you.

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All businesses like to have a period of sustained growth. Competition from similar organisations doesn’t necessarily need to be viewed negatively, it should be seen as a time to show your own strengths and growths within your particular area of expertise. If you feel that your business could do with a little boost, we will investigate some areas that could help you to achieve this goal.

Business Stationery

Let’s face it, we can all over look stationery from time to time. However, when you visit a client and they give you a piece of their stationery which has their brand identity upon it, you go away with that company in your mind. So, one of the steps that you could take is to personalise your stationery with your logo or company name. Maybe even consider contacting a Singapore rubber stamp maker so that your company logo or name can be easily stamped and printed on documents and letter heads, as well as on stationery items. This means that any documentation that your clients take away, even if the documents belong to them, will leave a long-lasting mark within their business premises.

Website and SEO

The second area that you need to consider is your online presence. One of the easiest ways to improve your online presence is by contacting a company such as Mandreel, an online digital agency who will help be able to guide you through the ways that you can improve your online presence. You will hear terms such as ‘SEO’ ‘link build’ and ‘content creation.’ These are some basic terms and aspects that the digital media industry focusses on. Having a well-orchestrated website is also beneficial as it provides your customers and clients an instant port of call as well as a reference point to your business. It is also important to maintain your website by regularly adding blogs to it so that your website remains current. A final point related to the media element is looking at your social media footprint. There are a number of mediums to use and you don’t necessarily need to use all of them, but hubs such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are a standard way to start your social media presence. It is fast becoming the modern way of doing business as it improves and increases your global access with the simple touch of a button.

Marketing

As we have mentioned above, the online section of your business will play a major role in increasing the performance of your business. However, at this stage it is also worth mentioning that creating business cards for when out visiting clients or customers is still a good way of publicising your brand. The same can be said for leafleting. If you consider the fact that if the average household receives a leaflet through the post, it may draw in new business from new customers who may never have considered what you offer.

It’s clear to see there are a number of simple ways to promote your business. We have only covered a few of these areas, but they are probably some of the most important factors to consider.

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Over the past few years, you’ve may have noticed some interesting brand partnerships. When a brand partnership is executed correctly, it can prove to be very valuable and revenue-generating.

A solid example of a branding partnership is when VW and Tata Motors came together to help another boost sales. And without even realizing it, you’ve even seen brand partnerships all around you; even when you were young. For instance, when you opened up a box of cereal as a child and found a toy—that was co-branding. Strategic alliances are everywhere, and for good reason.

Here are just a few benefits of partnering with another brand:

Increase audience awareness by expanding reach. This is one of the biggest benefits of co-branding and partnerships. With two businesses working together, each can leverage the audience of the other, and will have double the marketing power and reach.

Creates a higher value perception. When one or more companies gets together, it increases the perceived value of the partnership to great more of a powerhouse duo.

Expands the marketing budget. This is obvious: two businesses equals two marketing budgets, and when combined, you can take your efforts much further. This also helps to save money. Want to print custom posters? Need a flag designer for your event? Plan to increase your Facebook spend? No matter how you decide to allocate your funds, you’ll have more wiggle room.

Reach new segments. Not only will you reach a wider range of people in your industry, but you’ll also reach new audience segments that weren’t in your original marketing plan.

What to Consider When Choosing

There are several things you should consider before you begin researching potential brands to partner with. For instance, you should choose a company that will benefit equally from the partnership as you. For instance, as a the owner of a coffee shop, you might want to partner with a local bakery. This allows you to serve customers great baked goods with a “locally sourced” tag, as well as makes it easier for the local bakery to spread their inventory outside of their own location.

Additionally, the value of each brand should match one another. As a local coffee shop, it would be difficult to partner with a brand that far exceeds yours in value. As previously mentioned, both companies should benefit equally, and therefore, both should be on level ground with one another. If you’re a new business, you’ll likely want to partner with a business that’s relatively new as well.

And lastly, the strategy you have in mind with the other brand should be easily understood by the consumer. A coffee shop and a bakery partnership makes sense, but a coffee shop with a candy company might not seem as strategic or sensible.

Choose Complementary Businesses

The main objective of choosing a business to partner with is to choose a brand that complements yours well. Now that you understand some of the key points in choosing a brand, you can go ahead and start researching complementary businesses. The options available to you depend on whether you’re a physical or online location, and whether your business requires local partnerships or can come from any direction. Typically, local business owners have an easier time cultivating relationships with one another.

Keep in mind that you don’t always have to start off with a full-blown contract and partnership agreement. You could host a small event, or have a trial period to see how one another’s businesses fares once cross-promotion and marketing has begun. It’s important that you’re flexible and choose businesses who have similar values and management as well.

Reaching Out

Now that you’ve created a list of potential partners, it’s time to start reaching out. Your introductory email should be short and simple. Begin by introducing yourself and your business, and briefly stating what your brand is about. Then, let them know that you’re interested in creating a co-branded campaign, or a long-term partnership (depending on what your own objectives are).

The important thing here is to clearly state the benefit of the other company entering a partnership. You can’t approach the partnership by thinking only of what their brand can do for you, or how your business can take benefit. Brainstorm concepts and use bullet points to describe what your brand can bring to the table.

Host a Joint Event

Once you’ve identified the perfect partner and have agreed to work with one another, what better way to celebrate that partnership than through an event? After all, events are a great way to generate buzz. Of course, with your event, you want to put your products or services on display, so be prepared to give out freebies and discounts. You may even consider working with your partner to bring in sponsors who can make budgeting even more manageable.

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Ecommerce is booming and the momentum doesn’t seem to be showing signs of slowing anytime soon. The year over year growth is astounding with estimated ecommerce sales expected to reach $700 billion by 2022, according to data by Statista.

However, as the ecommerce industry grows, more competition is at the table to get a slice of the multi-billion dollar pie. This competition has led to unprecedented changes in shipping products purchased online. There are now free shipping options, free returns options, and more offered by online retailers to sweeten the deal for consumers.

This has led to larger gaps in profit margins for small ecommerce businesses trying to compete with big box retailers with an online sales platform, as well as ecommerce giants like Jeff Bezos’ Amazon and eBay.

There are however, ways to master shipping in 2019 businesses can consider. The following ecommerce shipping tactics can serve as your playbook. Let’s dive in!

1. Automate the Ecommerce Shipping Process

Unlike big box retailers and leading ecommerce sites, you don’t have thousands of employees tending to your shipping process. This can make it difficult to compete, but by automating the process you can streamline shipping. This can have an impact on your profits, since less mistakes are made and more time can be allocated to building your ecommerce business for long-term growth and success.

Automating the shipping process is also a lot less complicated as it sounds. It is simply just setting up rules that keep everything running smoothly. For instance, you can automate label shipping by having a shipping options available on your checkout/cart web page, like shipping category and saved carrier selections.

This reduces the need to pull up shipping orders and process them manually in order to create the shipping label on every purchase. This saves a lot of time and decreases costly mistakes.

2. Make International Shipping Easier

International shipping is another pain point for ecommerce businesses, whether shipping to customers, or receiving product to sell in your country. You would think this isn’t such a big deal, but international shipping costs and international shipping regulations can be very costly, depending on the country you are doing business in.

“Many U.S. online retailers and auction site sellers do not ship purchases overseas, charge too much for international shipping, or do not accept international credit cards,” according to BluePostal, an international shipping solution provider for consumers and businesses.

There are now a lot of solutions ecommerce businesses can utilize when it comes to international shipping. For example, there is dropshipping of course, but there are also intermediary companies that will take the leg work out of international shipping for you at a pretty affordable shipping rate with reduced international taxes.

This can open up a whole new marketplace for ecommerce businesses, since it gives you the opportunity to compete with the likes of Amazon and eBay, companies that have global online sales shipping reach.

3. Cut Costs to Serve Up Free Shipping Options

Maybe one of the most challenging obstacles ecommerce businesses have when it comes to competing with large ecommerce sites and big box retailers is free shipping for online purchases. As you know, shipping any product can be costly, especially when you want to keep your product prices low enough to compel consumers to buy from you and not competitors.

So how can you offer free shipping like the big ecommerce players? This is in fact a million dollar question. One of the best ways is to find a way to cut your operation costs to lower shipping prices or serve up free shipping on all products. This can be very hard, but not impossible.

If you are receiving product from manufacturers overseas, maybe you can order more product at a discounted rate in order to offset shipping costs to your customers. This of course only works if you have the storage space. You can also just eat the cost on your end if the math tells you that more sales via free shipping would actually increase your bottom line over a fiscal year. You just need to find that cost cut somewhere.

In Conclusion . . .

The above three shipping tactics for business success are only the tip of the iceberg. There are certainly more tactics you can identify and employ in 2019 to make shipping easier, cheaper, and work for your profit margins. From automation to opening up international markets, how you approach shipping can be the key to exponential growth this year.

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You might think that risk-rated funds are the only solution for the core hold of your portfolio. After all, it is what you would normally hear from others. But, in reality, the secret to ensuring their assets match the ones you aim for is to supplement them with so-called “satellite” funds and shares.

Fortunately, it is not too late to turn things around. Here are some tips on how to customize your portfolio to suit your goals. Be sure to keep them in mind from now on!

#1. Cheap Is Not Necessarily Cheerful

Believe it or not, many tend to focus more on fund charges, which seem to be the trend since time immemorial. But what you may not know is that most, if not all, are not necessary. Some might have a charge for the platform or advice, especially if you are taking it. More importantly, there is always a charge for the investment funds.

Remember that a cheap fund does not necessarily mean it fits your purpose. The same thing can be said for an expensive fund – it does not convey superiority. Your best course of action is to look out for performance-related charges, as well as those platform costs (i.e. when trying to move money around).

#2. Always Identify Your Goals

It holds true that your appetite for risk is – and always will be – a significant consideration. But do not forget that there are other contributing factors involved. This is the point where you need to ask yourself: “What are my investment goals?” Do you require a short- or long-term objective? Or perhaps you are in need of a certain amount just to guarantee an annual growth for your investment goal in the stock market?

These questions, while all may not necessarily apply to your current situation, can help you gain concrete knowledge about your stand. Even more so, it will help you realize the fact that there is more importance emphasis when it comes to risk analysis. The latter, in particular, conveys the message that your fund may either underperform or take too much risk.

#3. Keep Everything in One Place

Do you know what a balanced portfolio should be? Well, it is the type that holds bonds, cash, and even shares. As soon as you achieve a solid core portfolio, expect a great number of adventurous investors to add riskier holdings in order to diversify. You may find it difficult to acquire this type of ideas, but as long as you are willing to think outside the box, you will be introduced to more tantalizing investments.

Being a professional means utilizing a wide range of left-of-field investments – a crucial element in achieving diversification. This includes, but not limited to, private equity, currencies, commodities, and student housing.

#4. Remember To Consider All Assets

A lot of investors these days tend to consider their investment portfolio as something that is merely their shares and/or composite funds. Unfortunately, this is a worn-down idea that needs an overhaul. Why exactly? That is because there are other factors involved, and they may refer to cash accounts and properties. All of them, regardless of size and shape, are to be accounted as assets as well.

Let’s say you own multiple properties. This is where you want to be extremely wary of purchasing a fund, particularly the type that comes with property exposure. Likewise, if you hold a lot of cash, it is imperative that you find a liquid fund which is totally invested. Otherwise, there is a possibility that you will be hit by extremely low-interest rates.

#5. Regularly Review Your Holdings

This is definitely a no-brainer. It is even something that you should always consider. Keep in mind that risk-rated funds – no matter how you perceive them – are a one-stop-shop for life. Your goals will have the potential to change as time passes by. As such, you must ensure to review all of them as you would with investments. A general rule of thumb is to look at your portfolio at least once a year, though doing it twice has become a more acceptable narrative.

Sure, you may not find the need to purchase or sell funds, say, as often as twice or thrice a year. But, in one way or another, you will chance upon certain life stages that will force you to consider tweaking your portfolio. It could be about purchasing a property or simply becoming a parent.

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Riding an ATV is a whole lot of fun. All-terrain vehicles are made for handling wild rides through beautiful country. Unimpeded views, thrilling hills and turns, and unhindered exploration: those are the things that ATV riding is all about.

But this sort of adventure-seeking comes with risks. ATV riders should be very careful to practice safe riding when they’re out on the trail and enjoying themselves. It takes skill and a great sense of one’s own limitations to make the right decisions and get back safely from a top-notch ATV ride. And it takes one more thing, too: an ATV that you can rely on.

A poorly maintained ATV is a dangerous ATV

If your ATV is not well maintained, then it could become a liability. You want your ATV to have great traction, to turn when you need it to turn, to brake when you need it to brake. You want to avoid breakdowns and system failures so that you can always make return trips safely so that you never have to worry about a sudden disaster when you’re flying along at top speeds or trying to make a difficult turn.

As a responsible ATV rider, you want to work hard to keep yourself safe while you’re having fun. You need an ATV that works with you toward that same goal, and that means you need to keep your ATV in top-notch shape. Here’s how to do that.

Rely on a great mechanic

Just like any other kind of vehicle, your ATV needs the occasional check-up from a mechanic. So find one that you trust, and don’t be a stranger! While there are some basic maintenance jobs that you can do yourself on your ATV, it never hurts to have an expert touch. A frequent visits to a mechanic will mean that small or potential problems can be stopped before they get worse. Don’t wait until something goes wrong to get your ATV checked out. Be proactive, and you’ll enjoy a safer ride. You’ll also save money by avoiding more costly repair needs down the line!

Invest in quality parts

There will come a time when you need to replace a part on your ATV. When that time comes, you will most likely have a choice: should you go with a more expensive brand-name part, or take a flyer on a cheaper alternative?

Go with the brand name. Elite products like Polaris parts are going to be more reliable for your ATV — which means that, in turn, your ATV is going to be more reliable for you. You should talk to your mechanic about the importance of opting for great parts. When in doubt, you should always go with quality brand names. This is your safety we’re talking about — don’t skimp on it!

Protect your ATV from the elements

When you’re out riding, your ATV is right out in nature with you. It’s going to get muddy, and it’s going to barrel through crazy terrain. But when your ride is finished, you should take the time to clean things up. You don’t want to let mud stay caked on your vehicle, and you certainly don’t want your ATV to stay wet — that could lead to rust. Rust destroys vehicles of all kinds, and ATVs are no exception.

When you’re not using your ATV, you should keep it stored in a dry place with moderate and relatively constant temperatures. Invest in a great ATV cover to keep your ride protected from dust and other dangers. And if you’re not going to ride your ATV for a long time, prepare it for the time off. Winterizing is a key step for ATV riders in cold climates who are hanging up the helmet for the season, and ATVs should be prepared for long-term disuse even if the weather is warm.

Caring for an ATV isn’t too tough, and it will pay off big time. A well maintained ATV is a safer and more enjoyable vehicle.

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One of the most important decisions any family will make is the choice of an automobile. The mainstay of the automotive industry – the family car segment – is the most competitive in the marketplace. As such, it bristles with highly capable offering.

To help you sort through them, Parents magazine, one of the most respected family-oriented publications, recently named its list of the best vehicles for large families.

We’ll focus on five of them here, but you’ll find the entire list at Parents.com.

Chevrolet Traverse

All-new for the 2018 model year, Chevrolet’s Traverse is exceptionally commodious, adequately powered and delightfully comfortable. It’s also well thought through for its primary mission as family transportation. You’ll find six USB charging ports, seating for eight, accommodations for four child safety seats and outstanding cargo capacity. This makes Traverse ideal for family vacations as well as mainstream family duties. A built-in Wi-Fi Hotspot keeps teens connected (and relatively complaint-free) wherever you go. Heated seats and climate control vents for rear passengers add to the sanctity you’ll experience with a Chevrolet Traverse.

Honda Odyssey

Universally agreed upon by experts to be the smartest solution ever devised for family transportation, the minivan stands head and shoulders above its more popular crossover SUV competition. And yet, the minivan segment is very nearly decimated. Perhaps proof the best hold on regardless, Honda’s Odyssey has been revised for the 2018 model year. Long recognized as the leader in its class, this new Odyssey is the best one Honda has ever offered. The second-row seats slide apart to keep squabbling siblings in neutral corners and an interior camera helps you keep tabs on a sleeping infant in the back seat. However, the single most innovative feature of the 2018 Honda Odyssey is the way its navigation system links with the “Are We There Yet?” app so you’ll never have to suffer that query again.

Image source Wikimedia

Subaru Outback

Blending the attributes of a car and a traditional SUV better than most crossover SUVs, Subaru’s Outback is well suited for light off-roading, while offering plenty of cargo capacity for outdoorsy families. All-wheel drive and roof racks further bolster the Subaru’s credibility in this regard. Capable of seating five and accommodating up to three child safety seats, the Subaru will also expand right along with your family as the kids mature.

Toyota Prius Prime

Among its lengthy list of qualifications for family duty is the fact the Toyota Prius Prime delivers 54 miles per gallon. If you’re a budget conscious parent, that sentence is going to be particularly appealing. Prius Prime’s interior is also more than adequate for the needs of a family. Capable of seating five passengers and accommodating two child safety seats, it’s suitably spacious and will remain so even as adolescence morphs into puberty and legs get longer. Nicely equipped and eco-friendly, now you know why there always seems to be a Prius in front of you wherever you go.

Volkswagen Atlas

Debuting as an all-new product for Volkswagen in 2017, Atlas is a seven-passenger crossover sport utility vehicle with a decidedly Germanic attitude. This means it rides comfortably at highway speeds, exhibits significant agility and is quite maneuverable around town—despite its size. The Atlas Car-Net app allows you to keep tabs on the security of the VW when you’re away from it and help you find it in a crowded parking lot. With seating for seven, Atlas is capable of accommodating five child safety seats. The Volkswagen Atlas also boasts a six-year /72,000-mile warranty and is built in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Any of these five vehicles for large families will serve you well, regardless of the nature of your activities. They also have strong resale value should you ever need to get a refinance car loan like those offered by RoadLoans.

Even better, they all have above average safety ratings and host of standard safety features such as blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and proximity sensors.

Picking the Right Vehicle

So, if you are shopping for a vehicle to fit the needs of your large family, start by considering the safety features first. After all, you are carrying very precious cargo!

The next step is to make sure there is enough room of kids, parents, pets, backpacks, soccer cleats and anything else you might be packing. And finally, you’ll want to make sure your chosen vehicle fits nicely into your budget.

Hopefully, these tips have put your on the right track to picking a vehicle for your family. Happy trails!

The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates again despite President Donald Trump’s opposition.

The Fed’s key interest rate has been increased by 0.25% to a target range of 2.25%-2.5%.

However, the Fed officials also said future increases could come at a slower pace amid concerns about global growth.

The move comes two days after President Trump warned the Fed against making “yet another mistake” in raising rates, urging it instead to “feel the market”.

The president also urged the bank not to wind down a multi-billion dollar stimulus program brought in after the financial crisis.

President Trump – who appointed the Fed’s chairman, Jerome Powell – has repeatedly blamed the central bank for unsettled markets and dismissed analysts who cite other factors, such as rising trade tariffs.

His remarks have put pressure on the Fed, as presidents generally avoid criticizing the bank publicly, for fear of politicizing the institution.

Fed Raises Interest Rate by 0.25% for Third Time In A Decade

Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rates by 0.25 Percentage Points

President Trump tweeted: “I hope the people over at the Fed will read today’s Wall Street Journal Editorial before they make yet another mistake. Also, don’t let the market become any more illiquid than it already is. Stop with the 50 B’s. Feel the market, don’t just go by meaningless numbers. Good luck!”

At a press conference on December 19, Jerome Powell defended the Fed’s independence, saying that political pressure played “no role whatsoever” in its discussions or decisions.

The Fed’s chairman added that the central bank had no plans to change its ongoing reduction of its portfolio of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.

The central bank has been gradually raising the benchmark rate since 2015, moving the US away from the ultra-low rates put in place during the financial crisis to spur economic activity.

The decision, which was widely expected, marked the ninth increase since 2015 and the fourth this year.

However, the moves have made borrowing more expensive, contributing to slowdowns in some sectors, such as housing.

With economic growth expected to slow, some worry that further increases risk stifling economic activity.

On December 19, officials did cut their forecasts for economic growth in 2019 to 2.3%, down from the 2.5% they anticipated in September.

Estimates released by the bank showed most Fed members expect two rate increases in 2019 – not three, as previously forecast.

It follows a downturn in financial markets and concerns about slowing growth in the US and abroad.

However, Jerome Powell said the strength of the US economy – which is expected to grow about 3% this year – justified another rate rise, despite recent “cross currents” that have weakened the outlook.

He said: “We think this move was appropriate for what is a very healthy economy.

“Policy at this point does not need to be accommodative.”

In its official statement, the Fed also said increases to its benchmark rate would help the US economy sustain its expansion, keeping the unemployment rate low and inflation near 2%.

Shares sank after the announcement, reversing earlier gains. The Dow and S&P 500 closed about 1.5% lower, while the NASDAQ fell than 2%.

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When an e-commerce business reaches a certain point managing stock and determining which marketing channels are producing results becomes difficult. This is where a Product Information Management (PIM) system really helps.

In this post, we look at how a good PIM system can make your business more agile and productive.

What is a PIM?

Put simply PIM software helps you better manage every aspect of your e-commerce system. From tracking sales and stock accurately to determining which marketing channels are performing well, a good productive information management system will help you see the information you need faster and more accurately.

Access to the information and purchasing approvals can be controlled using a hierarchal system. This provides good management control systems, approval purchase tracking, and security.

Accounting

PIM systems allow for much better and faster accounting. Seeing your bottom line is easy, seeing your best selling items, successful marketing campaigns, and vice versa are made simple. You can keep track of the sales process from start to finish.  Every aspect of accounting is now visible to you.  This leads to better decisions from a financial view.

Business Intelligence

Once a PIM system is in place and configured correctly making faster and better business decisions become possible. Consider, no more data mining across various spreadsheets. Simply discover the information when needed. The better PIM systems such as Sales Layer can run reports based on your input. The information you need to make the big calls are at your fingertips.

Better Stock Management and Distribution

Stock management and distribution is vital to the success of an e-commerce based business. Aspects such as re-order levels can be set and configured to re-order when needed. No more losing sales because you have run out of stock. Distribution networks can be managed more effectively with stock levels at each of your plants made visible and easily accessible.

All of this adds up to the oh so important better customer service.

Better Marketing

A PIM system ensures that your marketing is brought into the hub. Images, social media updates, can all be brought together and published from the system itself. This makes the update process far easier to keep track off and makes tracking the success of your marketing channels far easier.

PIM Cloud

PIM systems can be cloud-based avoiding hefty infrastructure costs and allowing for better more agile and flexible working. This results in better productivity across your teams. Better productivity and workflow results in better profit and better business.

Having a cloud-based system also means there are less clash and conflicts. Under the older systems, a team can make changes which another team can’t see. This can result in chaos and lost time. Now, everyone works from the same data hub, making changes visible to all departments.

Your teams can now work remotely with PIM cloud and you can use the hierarchal controls to apply security measures to control who can access what.

Final Thoughts

Once a PIM system is in place you can manage your business more effectively, improving workflow and productivity. If you find you’re spending hours looking across spreadsheets to find answers, it is time to invest in a product information management system.

Malaysia has filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs and two former bankers in connection with a corruption and money laundering investigation at the state-owned investment fund 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Goldman Sachs has been under scrutiny for its role in helping to raise funds for the 1MDB.

The US bank is being investigated in at least six countries.

Goldman Sachs called the charges “misdirected” and said it would “vigorously defend them”.

The bank added: “The firm continues to co-operate with all authorities investigating these matters.”

1MDB Scandal: $4 Billion Stolen from Malaysian State-Owned Fund

Malaysia: Former PM Najib Razak Barred from Leaving the Country

Malaysia filed the charges against Goldman Sachs and its former employees Tim Leissner and Roger Ng.

Tim Leissner served as Goldman’s South East Asia chairman, and left the bank in 2016. Roger Ng was a managing director at Goldman until his departure in May 2014.

Malaysia has also brought charges against former 1MDB employee Jasmine Loo and financier Jho Low.

Malaysia’s attorney general Tommy Thomas said in a statement: “The charges arise from the proceeds of three bonds issued by the subsidiaries of 1MDB, which were arranged and underwritten by Goldman Sachs.”

Last month, Tim Leissner, Roger Ngand and Jho Low were served with criminal charges in the US in relation to 1MDB.

Tim Leissner pleaded guilty in the US to conspiring to launder money and violating anti-bribery laws.

In that case, prosecutors said Tim Leissner and Roger Ng worked with Jho Low to bribe government officials to win 1MDB business for Goldman Sachs.

US authorities said billions of dollars were embezzled from the state fund to buy art, property, a private jet- and even to help finance the Wolf ofWall Street movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The scandal has prompted investigations around the world and played a role in the election defeat earlier this year of Malaysia’s former PM Najib Razak, who is accused of pocketing $700 million from the fund he set up.

Image Source – Shutterstock

While the darkness of the night may spell great fear for some, it can signal an unmatched amount of fun and excitement to many others. If you’re a lover of bikes, speed and thrill, driving through the night can turn out to be one of your favourite adventures. The freedom of having roads relatively empty to your disposal, the option to speed higher than possible in the day and the enjoyment of the gush of wind along with the adrenalin rush is something that can be experienced only while riding at night.

However, it is going to be so only if you’re completely safe and you manage to complete your journey without fighting any undue troubles or meeting unfortunate injuries. In that regard, if you’re planning to indulge in a night ride with your gang, here are some ways to ensure that your experience is completely safe and nothing short of enthrallment.

  1. Ensure Perfect Lighting for Your Bike

    Image Source – Shutterstock

It’s quite intuitive to understand how vital lights are from a safety standpoint while driving at night. If you’re planning for a night ride, you must see to it that the lights of your bike are in perfect order, so that you always have good visibility of the road and other vehicles.

You can start by checking whether your illumination, especially that of the headlight is bright enough to light up the dark roads. If you have worn out bulbs, you need to replace them with ones having the right wattage before you head on to any night adventure. Additionally, if you desire to amplify your visibility further, you can also consider fitting in some auxiliary headlamps to support you along with the main one.

  1. Increase Your Visibility

    Image Source – Shutterstock

After lights, the next most important thing you need to be cautious about is increasing your visibility to others on the road. This can be made possible with the help of reflective biking gear and clothing. You can invest in reflective clothing that is available with most of the brands that sell biking apparels. Alternately, you can even fix some reflective tape to your riding gear such as helmet, jacket, gloves or pants. For instance, you could wrap some tape around the sleeve of your jacket or the length of your pants to reflect light. Thus, becoming more visible.

In addition to wearing reflective clothing, you can also stick on reflective tape or neon coloured strips to your bike’s parts such as wheel rims and body panels to make yourself and the bike more visible. Doing so can help to increase the chances of your safety by a significant extent.

  1. Choose the Correct Route

    Image Source – Shutterstock

 It’s also helpful to pick a route that you’re familiar with, at least in the beginning. Because even your most acquainted route can appear unfamiliar at night.

Moreover, you should also pick routes that have better roads. Ideally, it is a safer bet that you stick to the trail centres on the road. That’s because the tracks are less likely to have stumps or rocks that could lead to a crash.

  1. Control Your Speed

    Image Source – Shutterstock

You might be a lover of speed and thrill and consider yourself as the most experienced biker with great eyesight. However, it’s crucial that you recognise the importance of practising self-caution and abiding by traffic laws even during the dark hours.

At all times, you must prioritise your safety and ride steadily and defensively. It is quite natural that at night, the degree of visibility is going to reduce. In that situation, you will need to be more careful when you try to overtake a vehicle and take turns. It’s also essential to be aware of the speed limit of the road you’re traversing through.

  1. Ride in A Group

    Image Source – Shutterstock

Riding in a group makes a lot of sense, both from the enjoyment and safety point of view. As the number of people increases with a group, the chances of being attacked by those having wrong objectives reduce significantly. Moreover, in case of any mechanical issue, there is help available instantly. It’s important that you leave and come back together. In case you get separated, it’s good to wait for your group for a few minutes and continue again when together. Besides that, being a part of a club or a group is always a good incentive and motivating factor to head out in the dark.

And Lastly, Make Sure You Have Comprehensive Bike Insurance Policy

Riding bikes at night can be risky to your and your bike’s life. At night due to low visibility, lack of traffic control and rash driving of heavy vehicles, the chances of accidents increase. Therefore, it is crucial to protect yourself and your vehicle of these mishaps.

The best way to do that is to buy a comprehensive 2-wheeler insurance policy. The policy covers you against the damages caused to your vehicle and any other third-party during an accident. As a result, buying 2-wheeler insurance will not only help you stay clear of financial troubles and road mishaps but also avoid any legal skirmishes. Moreover, purchasing long-term third-party liability cover (5 years) for two-wheelers is made mandatory by the Supreme Court from September 1, 2018.

In conclusion, we can say that riding at night is fun, but it is crucial that you be careful and attentive than you usually are in the day. So, follow this checklist and experience the joy of night riding at its best.

Image source Pixabay

President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping have agreed to suspend new trade tariffs for 90 days to allow for talks, the White House announces.

At a post-G20 summit meeting in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, President Trump agreed not to boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on January 1.

China will buy a “very substantial” amount of agricultural, industrial and energy products, the US says.

Meanwhile, China says the two sides agreed to open up their markets.

It was the first face-to-face meeting between President Trump and President Xi since a trade war erupted earlier this year.

The dispute broke out after President Trump complained China was doing nothing to cut its large surplus in bilateral trade.

US to Impose New Tariffs on Chinese Handbags, Rice and Textiles

President Trump Threatens $100 Billion More in China Tariffs

China Imposes New Tariffs of Up to 25% on 128 US Imports

At the summit in Buenos Aires on December 1, the G20 leaders agreed a joint declaration that notes divisions over trade but does not criticize protectionism.

Presidents Trump and Xi held a “highly successful meeting”, the White House said in a statement.

The White House says the US tariffs on Chinese goods will remain unchanged for 90 days, but warns: “If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent.”

The US says China agreed to “purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other products from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries”.

According to the White House, both sides also pledged to “immediately begin negotiations on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft”.

President Trump said earlier this year he wanted to stop the “unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China”.

According to the US, China has also signaled it will allow a tie-up between two major semiconductor manufacturers which Chinese regulators have been blocking.

The White House statement said China was “open to approving the previously unapproved Qualcomm-NXP deal”.

The US also says China agreed to designate Fentanyl as a controlled substance. The opioid – much of it thought to be made in China – is driving a huge rise in drug addiction in the US.

Both sides have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of goods. The US has hit $250 billion of Chinese goods with tariffs since July, and China has retaliated by imposing duties on $110 billion of US products.

President Trump had also said that if talks in Argentina were unsuccessful, he would carry out a threat to hit the remaining $267 billion of annual Chinese exports to the US with tariffs of between 10 and 25%.

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Starting a business today is easier than ever, and today is a great time to be an entrepreneur. Perhaps you’ve been researching your market and have a niche product you think will fit in nicely and sell. You’re excited to get going! Once you’ve got a great concept and an initial product/prototype—and have patented your product—it’s time to start looking for a manufacturer to produce it.

However, if you want to avoid the fate that many startups face (a whopping 90% of startups fail), it’s important to choose the right manufacturer. A bad partnership can cost you a lot of money, and potentially end your business. Sourcing products isn’t exactly a walk in the park, and takes research, dedication, and perseverance. On the plus side, it’s much easier to look for a manufacturer today than it was a decade ago. Here’s how you can find the right partnership:

Determine the Type of Manufacturer You Need

There are many types of manufacturers. There are manufacturers who produce your own product idea from scratch; a supplier that purchases and utilizes existing products and parts; and a dropshipper, which supplies and fulfills product orders that are already on the market, in hopes of getting you a profit without you having to do any heavy lifting. These manufacturers and suppliers are all very experienced, and use complex machine tools to get the job done. Think about the type of product you have and what it needs most. What type of manufacturer will cause the least stress, and generate higher revenue?

Image source Wikimedia

Should You Go Overseas?

You’ll also need to decide whether you want an overseas supplier or a domestic supplier. Of course, there are pros and cons to either situation. When you manufacture locally, there tends to be a higher standard of quality, and you can ensure that the employees working on your product adhere to a certain level of labor standards. There’s also the marketing appeal of being locally sourced, as this is something that many consumers care about today. And lastly, you’ll be able to verify reputable manufacturers much more easily, and communicate seamlessly with no language barrier or cultural differences.

Similarly, going overseas has many pros as well. The biggest advantage is that overseas production costs significantly less. This is the biggest appeal of international manufacturers, as sometimes the margins are so high, it’s hard to find a competitive strategy stateside. Additionally, when you start looking into international manufacturers, you’ll find that there’s a much larger selection to choose from.

Where to Begin Your Search

Once you understand what you’re looking for in a manufacturer, the hunt begins. There are several resources and directories you can use as a starting point. Two of the most popular domestic options are Maker’s Row and ThomasNet. Maker’s Row believes in “factory sourcing made easy” and has an aesthetically pleasing and intuitive site with free registration (although you’ll have to pay for advanced features). ThomasNet dubs themselves as the premier “product sourcing and supplier discovery platform,” has more than 5,000 manufacturer listing, which you can sort by company type, quality certifications, and more.

If you’ve decided you want to manufacture your products overseas, there are several directories here, too, including Alibaba, AliExpress, Oberlo, Bambify, and Sourcify.

Request Multiple Quotes

When you’re making a huge business decision, it’s important to gather several quotes and speak to multiple manufacturers. You can request a quote by sending the manufacturer a well-written email that covers all your bases. One of the most crucial questions you’ll want to ask is, “What’s your minimum order quantity (MOQ)?”

Depending on the supplier, this number can vary widely. If you’re just starting out, chances are you want to work with suppliers who can produce lower quantities, which allows you to better test your market. If a manufacturer has an MOQ of 10,000 on your first ever product, chances are you’ll want to go elsewhere.

You’ll also want to ask for sample and production pricing. Sample pricing is when the manufacturer makes a sample product for you to see before the order is placed, to ensure you are satisfied with the initial product. Some suppliers will even produce samples for free.

Production pricing is also important because this is what determines what your product will cost to produce. This number will steer the rest of your efforts as you move forward. You’ll also want to know if they offer discounts on production prices depending on the quantity ordered.

Be sure your initial email is clear and concise. Emails that are lengthy and contain unnecessary information—like the background and history of your company—could possibly be ignored.