No Problem Loans – Just Give Them Your Soul

devilThis is actually a genious of an idea.

A small loan company in Latvia is offering no-problem loans to their clients. No paperwork needed, just sign a piece of paper saying that you are using your soul as collateral – i.e. – you don’t repay, you have no soul.

I know that I’d think twice before skipping that payment.

Read Full Story at Reuters:

Would you pledge your soul as loan collateral?

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GM’s Deal with Govt. To Close Mon or Tuesday

The New York Times is reporting that we’re one step closer to having the GMimages mess cleaned up.

Judge Robert E. Gerber released his 95 page decision today, which overturned the 850 objections to the Government buyout, and gave his approval for the American taxpayers to lend the company $1.17 billion dollars.

I am not a fan of government backing, I believe in free enterprise, but I’m almost not a fan of feeling a complete collapse of one of the largest companies in the world.  I’m not that brave.

Read Full Details At The New York Times

Plan To Sell G.M. Assets Approved


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Canada Business – Where to Now?

In “Canadian Economy Not Out of The Woods Yet” , John Morrissey from TheOTT-PeaceTower-flag_lrg Finanacial Post, tries to rain on my Canada Day, but I didn’t let him.

It is a reality that the economy contracted .1% in April, after a 5.4% drop in the first quarter of this year, but the whole tone of the article is incredibly discouraging, with the heaviest focus on how the American economy is going to effect us.

My question is always why are we only focusing on the American consumer? Let’s look back to a few weeks ago when Goldman Sach’s predicted the Australian, British and Canadian economies to be the leaders out of the recession.

The Americans are our neighbours, our partners, and I believe that we should fully support them through their recovery, but there’s enough Canadian to go around. If you’re an ad agency, are you going to wait for your American clients to start spending money again? If you’re selling t-shirts, do you think they don’t wear t-shirts in brazil?

Let’s of course not forget our cross-provincial business relationships. I sometimes think that we’re so used to crossing the border, that we can forget to cross the mountains, the prairies, and the lakes.

I knock on doors, all around the world, all day long, because when one time zone closes down, another opens.  This isn’t 1932 where I have to wait for the telegram to arrive.  We can connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

There are thousands of economies available to work with – someone needs what you’re selling.

The question is: are you going to wait? Or are you going to hunt?

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Dollar Stores Saving Day for Investment Firm

If you’ve ever taken your kids into the dollar store, and bought one of those dollar generalcandy-filled grab bags – you know that sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t.  Well, investment firm KKR has been putting together their own grab bag of investments over the past several years, and while most have turned out to be stale candy corn, their acquisition of Dollar General, has turned out to be the full-sized chocolate bar.

KKR as a whole is bleeding money, with reported 2008 losses of $1.2 billion.  After buying 6 new companies in 2007, five of them were down in value by 20 to 50 percent.  The only one making money was Dollar General, which reported revenues of $10.5 billion in 2008.

While companies like Tiffany’s and Sak’s Fifth Avenue are struggling to survive, Dollar General is planning 450 new stores which will generate over 4000 new jobs.

Read The Full Article At Canada.com

The almighty dollar (store)

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Waiting For The Pop-Vancouver’s Pending Real Estate Crash

v681047_1.jpgThe Washington Post is reporting on the disaster that is the British Columbian Forest industry – that the U.S. housing crisis is about to crush what has long been considered the backbone of the British Columbian economy.

I am very happy that they decided to do a three page spread about the B.C. towns that are falling apart, because I may not have realized how grim the situation really is.  The local Vancouver media would never run a  story like this.

Why?

Because it’s bad economic news,  and we can’t have any bad economic news in our papers, people might stop buying real estate. 

I live in beautiful, Vancouver British Columbia, where for just 70% of your income, you too can live in a three bedroom bungalow.  This is a real estate market that should have cooled down before the end of 2006, but instead it roared through 2007. It roared through however, because people were bombarded with messages like “buy now or be priced out forever”, “real estate only goes up”, or my favourite “it’s different this time”.

The average single family home is now priced at $742k in a community where the average family income is $54k – things have spun completely out of control.  And that’s the problem, I’m afraid that it’s too far out of control. 

There are over 100 communities and 200,000 jobs depending on forestry.  News of their doom could have people questioning whether or not this is the best time to sign up for $4000 or $5000 a month for 40 years.  That of course could start to effect the 280 000 jobs in construction, or the 17500 real estate agents,  that all depend on the boom’s continuing booming.  

The media can’t report anything “anti real estate”, that would upset their advertisers, the ones who buy pages and pages of space to show off their shiny granite counter tops.   Bob Rennie, our local real estate guru,  has more power then the mayor.

So British Columbians have continued their trek through open houses, and have left themselves with a personal savings rate of -7.9%.  Combine that with a province that has a 17% poverty rate, and a government that has spent $1.6 billion on the 2010 Olympics, and we’re stretched real thin.   

But we’ll all keep our heads in the sand.  We’ll buy our Starbucks, and read reports telling us how fantastic we are.  The most controversial topic to cross the news in the past week was the mayor’s request to have fire trucks turn off their sirens at night,  they disturb his sleep.

That, in itself, says so much .   

Recession Smession – WordPress gets $29.5 million in Series B

Blog and Run:

Just spreading some positive news, I know that we’re all focused on the depths of the recession, but there are still millions and millions of dollars being spread around – on good ideas.

I like WordPress – I think it’s a good product – and I’m happy they secured the investment dollars that they were looking for.

We can clearly see that good business dynamics are always good business dynamics. If you have a solid target market, there’s no reason not to plow ahead with your business, recession or not – just stay smart, lean, and nimble.

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The Recession is Coming – Now What?

main.jpg“I’ve Not Failed – I’ve Just Found 10,000 Ways That Won’t Work” – Thomas Alva Edison

I stumbled across this quote, at the bottom of a chain letter actually, and as soon as I read it all I could think was: “That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it.” 

The economic news gets worst every day,  over 2 million people are going to lose their homes to foreclosure,  and Wall Street is in full skid, with the Dow losing over 4%, the S&P dropping 5.4 % and Nasdaq dropping 4.1%, just last week. 

We’re all reading the news with knots in our stomach, but inevitably, what are you going to do, roll over or roll with it? Do you give up or get smart? 

The news isn’t all bad.  Reuters is reporting that 1 in 4 small/medium sized business in the U.S. have at least 1 position that they can’t fill.   That’s alot of jobs.  Yahoo Finance reminds us that there was a 6 year high of $29.4 billion in VC investment in 2007.  That’s alot of money. 

I’m not suggesting that we throw on the rose coloured glasses and pretend that the Emperor has clothes, but the sky isn’t falling either.   This is the time for preparation, not panic.  If you’re employed, figure out what you’d do if you lost your job – could happen – have a back up plan – you always have to have a back up plan. You could start a whole new career, you could start a new business, the back up plan could actually become the best thing that ever happened to you.

If you already own your own business, this is just the time to play hardball.  Find new markets for your products/services, and sell like you’ve never sold before.  Let your market know you’re the best and never back away from it.  Keep your competition in mind, but envision them as small dots behind you in the race.  Ask for help when you need it, learn to say no when you have to, and make your suppliers treat you as well as you treat your clients. 

This isn’t the first recession, it won’t be the last.  Our grandparents survived, our parents surived, we’ll survive.  But there’s no reason for this to be a time of just survival, handled properly, this can be a time of change and transformation.