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Happy New Year 2011


Wish you all a very Happy New Year 2011

My Zimbio

¡FELIZ AÑO NUEVO!. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

My Zimbio

Antecedentes históricos de la bolsa de valores

La palabra "bolsa" tiene su origen en un edificio que perteneció a una familia noble en la ciudad europea de Brujas, de la región de Flandes, de apellido Van Der Buërse, donde se realizaban encuentros y reuniones de carácter mercantil. El escudo de armas de esta familia estaba representado por tres bolsas de piel, las monederas de la época. Para la época, el volumen de las negociaciones, la importancia de esta familia y las transacciones que allí se realizaban la gente le dio el nombre a lo que actualmente se conoce como Bolsa, por el apellido Buërse.

Brujas llegó a tener 100.000 habitantes, superando en población a ciudades como Londres y París. Brujas fue un centro comercial de primerísimo orden en los siglos XIII y XIV. Era el principal del noroeste de Europa, tanto por su condición de ciudad portuaria como por su muy intensa producción de textiles y especialmente los famosos “paños flamencos” reconocidos por su calidad, además de ser el centro comercialización de diamantes más antiguo de Europa.

No obstante, lo que se considera la primera bolsa fue creada en Amberes, Bélgica, en 1460 y la segunda en Ámsterdam en los primeros años del siglo XVII, cuando esa ciudad se convirtió en el más importante centro del comercio mundial.

La Bolsa de Valores de Ámsterdam es considerada como la más antigua del mundo. Fue fundada en 1602 por la compañía holandesa de las indias orientales (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, o "VOC") para hacer tratos con sus acciones y bonos. Posteriormente fue renombrada como Amsterdam Bourse y fue la primera en negociar formalmente con activos financieros.

La Bolsa de Amsterdam también funcionó como mercardo de los productos coloniales. Publicaba semanalmente un boletín que servía de punto de referencia en las transacciones.

Mucho tiempo después, ese lugar de primacía lo conquistó Londres y su bolsa de valores, denominada London Stock Exchange, fue fundada en 1801.

Actualmente existen estas instituciones en muchos países, siendo la más importante del mundo actualmente, la Bolsa de Nueva York, que recientemente comenzó su transformación para convertirse en una red de negociación similar al mercado Nasdaq, también estadounidense, es una bolsa de valores electrónica que rivaliza con aquella, logrando plantearle una seria competencia.

En la casi totalidad de los países existen bolsas de valores, salvo en algunos muy pequeños y otros de régimen comunista estricto, como Cuba y Corea del Norte.

My Zimbio

Bolsa de valores

Una bolsa de valores es una organización privada que brinda las facilidades necesarias para que sus miembros, atendiendo los mandatos de sus clientes, realicen negociaciones de compra venta de valores, tales como acciones de sociedades o compañías anónimas, bonos públicos y privados, certificados, títulos de participación y una variedad de instrumentos de inversión.

Las bolsas de valores, a largo plazo, fortalecen al mercado de capitales e impulsan el desarrollo económico de los países donde funcionan.

Los participantes en la operación de las bolsas son básicamente los demandantes de capital (empresas, organismos públicos o privados y otras entes), los oferentes de capital (ahorradores, inversionistas) y los intermediarios.

La negociación de valores en las bolsas se efectúa a través de los miembros de la Bolsa, conocidos usualmente con el nombre de corredores, agentes o comisionistas, sociedades de corretaje de valores y casas de bolsa, de acuerdo a la denominación que reciben en las leyes de cada país, quienes hacen su labor a cambio de una comisión. En numerosos mercados, otros entes y personas también tienen acceso parcial al mercado bursátil, como se llama al conjunto de actividades de mercado primario y secundario de transacción y colocación de emisiones de valores de renta variable y renta fija.

Para poder entrar en la Bolsa las empresas deben hacer públicos sus estados Financieros, ya que a través de ellos se puede determinar los indicadores que permiten saber la situación financiera de la compañía.

Las bolsas de valores son reguladas, supervisadas y controladas por los Estados nacionales, aunque la mayoría de ellas fueron fundadas en fechas anteriores a la creación de los organismos supervisores oficiales.

Existen varios tipos de mercados: el mercado de dinero o mercado monetario, el mercado de valores, el mercado de opciones, futuros y derivados, y los mercados de productos. Asimismo, pueden clasificarse en mercados organizados y mercados de mostrador.

My Zimbio

Tower of London




My Zimbio

El compatriota Armando Valladares es de los pocos, entre ellos yo, que llama por su nombre a Carlos Andrés Pérez, amigo del tirano Castro, quien fuera en vida un infame canalla

Nota: de acuerdo completamente contigo compatriota Valladares; en el show de Oscar Haza se le escapó y dijo que él era amigo de Castro. A confesión de parte no hacen falta más pruebas, pero las hay, aquí tu las aportas. Y hay más: por el momento es hasta sospechoso de haberle puesto una trampa al compatriota Dr. Orlando Bosch en 1976, y hasta de colaborar en el número ocho (setup, entrapment) contra el Dr. y contra nuestro compatriota Luis Posada Carriles. Se dice hasta que arropó al "Mono" Morales en la DISIP, teniendo en mente utilizarlo contra Posada, para neutralizar al Bambi y entregárselo al tirano Castro como cordero en sacrificio.

Gracias, Octavio.

-------------

El Clarín de Buenos Aires publica un artículo de Rodolfo Terragno, “El Legado de Carlos Andrés Pérez" y quiero agregar algunos comentarios a ese artículo de este distinguido periodista.

En efecto. Rotundamente CIERTO que Carlos Andrés Pérez practicó un doble estandar en materia de derechos humanos, no es que " algunos lo acusaron", como si esa acusación fuera un hecho sin comprobar, difuso y sin antecedentes, NO. Es la Historia y su actuación quien lo acusa de complicidad y protección de los crímenes de Castro. Condenó los crímenes de la Junta militar Argentina porque era la derecha, y calló, justificó y fue cómplice de los crímenes de Fidel Castro. "Mi amigo Fidel" decía el difunto y la boca se le llenaba de orgullo.

Persiguio y pretendió empadronar a los cubanos anticastristas que vivian exiliados en Venezuela, y obligarlos a que firmaran una declaración jurada comprometiéndose a no hacer nada contra Castro. Su Policía Política acosaba, por órdenes suyas a los cubanos anticastristas.

Persiguió y logró retirarle la ciudadania venezolana a un cubano, patriota y luchador por la libertad de Cuba, el Dr. Tebelio Rodríguez. Los crímenes de Castro siempre tuvieron un protector y cómplice en Carlos Andrés Pérez.

En Ginebra ante la Comisión de los Derechos Humanos de la ONU, cuando siendo yo el embajador de los EEUU tratábamos de que se aprobara una resolución para que se abriera una investigación acerca de las denuncias de que Cuba violaba los Derechos Humanos, Carlos Andrés Pérez hizo cuanto pudo para boicotear esa resolución y salvar a Castro del escrutinio Internacional—“de la "venganza de los norteamericanos", decía— y se convirtió en un lobista con los demás países latinoamericanos para que votaran en contra de esa investigación. Esa labor indigna y miserable fue el más grande obstáculo para conseguir el apoyo de países latinoamericanos. Nunca hubo un enemigo más tenaz en la Comisión de los Derechos Humanos en contra de la Libertad de Cuba y en favor de la impunidad de Castro, que Carlos Andrés Pérez. Lo teníamos en el Departamento de Estado entonces como el aliado número uno de la tiranía cubana en la Asamblea, antes aún que los soviéticos (espero que los cables de Wikileaks sobre esta época den a conocer con detalles, hasta donde llegá el apoyo de Carlos Andrés a la tiranía castrista.)

Para los venezolanos puedo ser un héroe Nacional, un prócer excelso. No quiero crear fricciones con mis hermanos venezolanos que hoy están acá huyendo de la misma ideología que se apoderó de mi país hace 53 años, con el apoyo a ultranza de Carlos Andrés Pérez. La Venezuela de hoy es consecuencia directa de aquella complicidad de Carlos Andrés Pérez con la tiranía cubana, de apoyarla, con los Bob Pastor, con los Dante Caputo, tramposo canciller y bandolero, pero yo estaba allí y por un problema de conciencia no quiero callarme. La palabra se ha hecho para decir la verdad, no para encubrirla, decía el Apóstol de la independencia cubana José Martí.

Y como para mi Cuba y su Libertad son lo primero, y la Historia no se puede escamotear estoy seguro de que Carlos Andrés Pérez, un día estará en los libros de texto de la Cuba futura como uno de los tantos cómplices de Castro, como uno de los grandes culpables que con verdadero fervor defendió los crímenes de Castro (mi amigo Fidel-como solía decir).

Esa es la Historia y la muerte no convierte en virtuoso a quien en vida no lo fue. Ni la muerte cambia las actuaciones de la vida. Decía Andre Malraux "un hombre es la suma de sus actos".

Como cubano que sufrí su miserable y sucio trabajo de tratar de salvar a Castro en la Comisión de los Derechos Humanos de la ONU, y tratar de que mis compañeros siguieran muriendo en la prisión, quiero decir que siento por aquella actuación un profundo desprecio.

Armando Valladares- ex-embajador de los EEUU ante la Comisión de los Derechos Humanos de la ONU

My Zimbio

In business and accounting, assets are everything of value that is owned by a person or company

The balance sheet of a firm records the monetary value of the assets owned by the firm.

The two major asset classes are tangible assets and intangible assets.

Tangible assets contain various subclasses, including financial assets and fixed assets.

Financial assets include such items as accounts receivable, bonds, stocks and cash; while fixed assets include such items as buildings and equipment.

Intangible assets are nonphysical resources and rights that have a value to the firm because they give the firm some kind of advantage in the market place. Examples of intangible assets are goodwill, copyrights, trademarks, patents and computer programs.

Asset characteristics
Assets have three essential characteristics:

The probable future benefit involves a capacity, singly or in combination with other assets, in the case of profit oriented enterprises, to contribute directly or indirectly to future net cash flows, and, in the case of not-for-profit organizations, to provide services;
The entity can control access to the benefit;
The transaction or event giving rise to the entity's right to, or control of, the benefit has already occurred.
It is not necessary, in the financial accounting sense of the term, for control of assets to the benefit to be legally enforceable for a resource to be an asset,
provided the entity can control its use by other means.

It is important to understand that in an accounting sense an asset is not the same as ownership. In accounting, ownership is described by the term "equity," (see the related term shareholders' equity). Assets are equal to "equity" plus "liabilities."

The accounting equation relates assets, liabilities, and owner's equity:

Assets = Liabilities + Owners' Equity
The accounting equation is the mathematical structure of the balance sheet.

Assets are usually listed on the balance sheet. It has a normal balance, or usual balance, of debit (i.e., asset account amounts appear on the left side of a ledger).

Similarly, in economics an asset is any form in which wealth can be held.

Probably the most accepted accounting definition of asset is the one used by the International Accounting Standards Board. The following is a quotation from the IFRS Framework: "An asset is a resource controlled by the enterprise as a result of past events and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the enterprise."

Assets are formally controlled and managed within larger organizations via the use of asset tracking tools. These monitor the purchasing, upgrading, servicing, licensing, disposal etc., of both physical and non-physical assets. In a company's balance sheet certain divisions are required by generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), which vary from country to country.

Current assets

Current assets are cash and other assets expected to be converted to cash, sold, or consumed either in a year or in the operating cycle. These assets are continually turned over in the course of a business during normal business activity. There are 5 major items included into current assets:

Cash and cash equivalents — it is the most liquid asset, which includes currency, deposit accounts, and negotiable instruments (e.g., money orders, cheque, bank drafts).

Short-term investments — include securities bought and held for sale in the near future to generate income on short-term price differences (trading securities).

Receivables — usually reported as net of allowance for uncollectable accounts.

Inventory — trading these assets is a normal business of a company. The inventory value reported on the balance sheet is usually the historical cost or fair market value, whichever is lower. This is known as the "lower of cost or market" rule.

Prepaid expenses — these are expenses paid in cash and recorded as assets before they are used or consumed (a common example is insurance). See also adjusting entries.

The phrase net current assets (also called working capital) is often used and refers to the total of current assets less the total of current liabilities.

Long-term investments
Often referred to simply as "investments". Long-term investments are to be held for many years and are not intended to be disposed in the near future. This group usually consists of four types of investments:

Investments in securities, such as bonds, common stock, or long-term notes.
Investments in fixed assets not used in operations (e.g., land held for sale).
Investments in special funds (e.g., sinking funds or pension funds).
Investments in subsidiaries or affiliated companies.
Different forms of insurance may also be treated as long term investments.

Fixed assets

Also referred to as PPE (property, plant, and equipment), or tangible assets, these are purchased for continued and long-term use in earning profit in a business.
This group includes land, buildings, machinery, furniture, tools, and certain wasting resources e.g., timberland and minerals. They are written off against profits over their anticipated life by charging depreciation expenses (with exception of land). Accumulated depreciation is shown in the face of the balance sheet or in the notes.

These are also called capital assets in management accounting.

Intangible assets

Intangible assets lack physical substance and usually are very hard to evaluate. They include patents, copyrights, franchises, goodwill, trademarks, trade names, etc. These assets are (according to US GAAP) amortized to expense over 5 to 40 years with the exception of goodwill.

My Zimbio

Invoice discounting allows a business to draw money against its sales invoices before the customer has actually paid

To do this, the business borrows a percentage of the value of its sales ledger from a finance company, effectively using the unpaid sales invoices as collateral for the borrowing.

Although the end result is the same as for debt factoring (the business gets cash from its sales invoices earlier than it otherwise would) the financial arrangement is somewhat different.

Features of Invoice Discounting
When a business enters into an invoice discounting arrangement, the finance company will allow the business to draw down a percentage of the outstanding sales invoices -usually in the region of 80%. As customers pay their invoices, and new sales invoices are raised, the amount available to be advanced will change so that the maximum drawdown remains at 80% of the sales ledger.

The finance company will charge a monthly fee for the service, and interest on the amount borrowed against sales invoices. In addition, the finance company may refuse to lend against some invoices, for example if it believes the customer is a credit risk, sales to overseas companies, sales with very long credit terms, or very small value invoices. The lender will require a floating charge over the book debts (trade debtors) of the business as security for the funds it lends to the business under the invoice discounting arrangement.

Responsibility for raising sales invoices and for credit control stays with the business, and the finance company will often require regular reports on the sales ledger and the credit control process.

Benefits
By receiving cash as soon as a sales invoice is raised, the business will find that its cash flow and working capital position is improved.

The business will only pay interest on the funds that it borrows, in a similar way to an overdraft, which makes it more flexible than debt factoring.

Invoice financing can be arranged confidentially, so that customers and suppliers are unaware that the business is borrowing against sales invoices before payment is received.

Drawbacks
In some industries, financing debts can be associated with a company that is in financial distress. This can result in suppliers becoming reluctant to offer credit terms, which will reverse many of the benefits of the arrangement.

Invoice discounting is an expensive form of financing compared to an overdraft or bank loan.

As the finance company takes a legal charge over the sales ledger, the business has fewer assets available to use as collateral for other forms of lending - this may make taking out other loans more expensive or difficult.

Once a business enters into an invoice discounting arrangement, it can be difficult to leave as the business becomes reliant on the improved cash flow.

Factoring
Accounts receivable

My Zimbio

Credit risk is the risk of loss due to a debtor's non-payment of a loan or other line of credit (either the principal or interest (coupon) or both)

Faced by lenders to consumers: Consumer credit risk
Most lenders employ their own models (credit scorecards) to rank potential and existing customers according to risk, and then apply appropriate strategies. With products such as unsecured personal loans or mortgages, lenders charge a higher price for higher risk customers and vice versa. With revolving products such as credit cards and overdrafts, risk is controlled through careful setting of credit limits. Some products also require security, most commonly in the form of property.

Faced by lenders to business
Lenders will trade off the cost/benefits of a loan according to its risks and the interest charged. But interest rates are not the only method to compensate for risk. Protective covenants are written into loan agreements that allow the lender some controls. These covenants may:

limit the borrower's ability to weaken their balance sheet voluntarily e.g., by buying back shares, or paying dividends, or borrowing further.
allow for monitoring the debt requiring audits, and monthly reports allow the lender to decide when he can recall the loan based on specific events or when financial ratios like debt/equity, or interest coverage deteriorate.
A recent innovation to protect lenders and bond holders from the danger of default are credit derivatives, most commonly in the form of a credit default swap.
These financial contracts allow companies to buy protection against defaults from a third party, the protection seller. The protection seller receives a periodic fee (the credit spread) as compensation for the risk it takes, and in return it agrees to buy the debt should a credit event ("default") occur.

Faced by business
Companies carry credit risk when, for example, they do not demand up-front cash payment for products or services. By delivering the product or service first and billing the customer later - if it's a business customer the terms may be quoted as net 30 - the company is carrying a risk between the delivery and payment.

Significant resources and sophisticated programs are used to analyze and manage risk. Some companies run a credit risk department whose job is to assess the financial health of their customers, and extend credit (or not) accordingly. They may use in house programs to advise on avoiding, reducing and transferring risk. They also use third party provided intelligence. Companies like Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Dun and Bradstreet provide such information for a fee.

For example, a distributor selling its products to a troubled retailer may attempt to lessen credit risk by tightening payment terms to "net 15", or by actually selling fewer products on credit to the retailer, or even cutting off credit entirely, and demanding payment in advance. Such strategies impact sales volume but reduce exposure to credit risk and subsequent payment defaults.

Credit risk is not really manageable for very small companies (i.e., those with only one or two customers). This makes these companies very vulnerable to defaults, or even payment delays by their customers.

The use of a collection agency is not really a tool to manage credit risk; rather, it is an extreme measure closer to a write down in that the creditor expects a below-agreed return after the collection agency takes its share (if it is able to get anything at all).

Faced by individuals
Consumers may face credit risk in a direct form as depositors at banks or as investors/lenders. They may also face credit risk when entering into standard commercial transactions by providing a deposit to their counterparty, e.g., for a large purchase or a real estate rental. Employees of any firm also depend on the firm's ability to pay wages, and are exposed to the credit risk of their employer.

In some cases, governments recognize that an individual's capacity to evaluate credit risk may be limited, and the risk may reduce economic efficiency; governments may enact various legal measures or mechanisms with the intention of protecting consumers against some of these risks. Bank deposits, notably, are insured in many countries (to some maximum amount) for individuals, effectively limiting their credit risk to banks and increasing their willingness to use the banking system.

Counterparty risk
Counterparty risk, otherwise known as default risk, is the risk that an organization does not pay out on a credit derivative, credit default swap, credit insurance contract, or other trade or transaction when it is supposed to. Even organizations who think that they have hedged their bets by buying credit insurance of some sort still face the risk that the insurer will be unable to pay, either due to temporary liquidity issues or longer term systemic issues.

Large insurers are counterparties to many transactions, and thus this is the kind of risk that prompts financial regulators to act, e.g., the bailout of insurer AIG.

On the methodological side, counterparty risk can be affected by wrong way risk, namely the risk that different risk factors be correlated in the most harmful direction. Including correlation between the portfolio risk factors and the counterparty default into the methodology is not trivial, see for example Brigo and Pallavicini

Sovereign risk
Sovereign risk is the risk of a government becoming unwilling or unable to meet its loan obligations, or reneging on loans it guarantees. The existence of sovereign risk means that creditors should take a two-stage decision process when deciding to lend to a firm based in a foreign country. Firstly one should consider the sovereign risk quality of the country and then consider the firm's credit quality.

Five macroeconomic variables that affect the probability of sovereign debt rescheduling are:

Debt service ratio
Import ratio
Investment ratio
Variance of export revenue
Domestic money supply growth

The probability of rescheduling is an increasing function of debt service ratio, import ratio, variance of export revenue and domestic money supply growth. Frenkel, Karmann and Scholtens also argue that the likelihood of rescheduling is a decreasing function of investment ratio due to future economic productivity gains. Saunders argues that rescheduling can become more likely if the investment ratio rises as the foreign country could become less dependent on its external creditors and so be less concerned about receiving credit from these countries/investors.

References
^ Principles for the management of credit risk from the Bank for International Settlement
^ Investopedia. Counterparty risk. Retrieved 2008-10-06
^ Tom Henderson. Counterparty Risk and the Subprime Fiasco. 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2008-10-06
^ Brigo, Damiano and Andrea Pallavicini (2007). Counterparty Risk under Correlation between Default and Interest Rates. In: Miller, J., Edelman, D., and Appleby, J. (Editors), Numerical Methods for Finance. Chapman Hall. ISBN 158488925X. Related SSRN Research Paper^ Country Risk and Foreign Direct Investment. Duncan H. Meldrum (1999)
^ Cary L. Cooper, Derek F. Channon (1998). The Concise Blackwell Encyclopedia of Management. ISBN 978-0631209119.
^ Frenkel, Karmann and Scholtens (2004). Sovereign Risk and Financial Crises. Springer. ISBN 978-3540222484.
^ Cornett, Marcia Millon and Saunders, Anthony (2006). Financial Institutions Management: A Risk Management Approach, 5th Edition. McGraw Hill. ISBN
978-0073046679.
Bluhm, Christian, Ludger Overbeck, and Christoph Wagner (2002). An Introduction to Credit Risk Modeling. Chapman & Hall/CRC. ISBN 978-1584883265.
Damiano Brigo and Massimo Masetti (2006). Risk Neutral Pricing of Counterparty Risk, in: Pykhtin, M. (Editor), Counterparty Credit Risk Modeling: Risk
Management, Pricing and Regulation. Risk Books. ISBN 1-904339-76-X.
de Servigny, Arnaud and Olivier Renault (2004). The Standard & Poor's Guide to Measuring and Managing Credit Risk. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0071417556.
Darrell Duffie and Kenneth J. Singleton (2003). Credit Risk: Pricing, Measurement, and Management. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691090467.
Invoice discounting is a form of short-term borrowing often used to improve a company's working capital and cash flow position.

My Zimbio

There are different types of invoices...

Pro forma invoice - In foreign trade, a pro forma invoice is a document that states a commitment from the seller to provide specified goods to the buyer at specific prices. It is often used to declare value for customs. It is not a true invoice, because the seller does not record a pro forma invoice as an accounts receivable and the buyer does not record a pro forma invoice as an accounts payable. A pro forma invoice is not issued by the seller until the seller and buyer have agreed to the terms of the order. In few cases, pro forma invoice is issued for obtaining advance payments from buyer, either for start of production or for security of the goods produced.

Credit memo - If the buyer returns the product, the seller usually issues a credit memo for the same or lower amount than the invoice, and then refunds the money to the buyer, or the buyer can apply that credit memo to another invoice. Commercial invoice - a customs declaration form used in international trade that describes the parties involved in the shipping transaction, the goods being transported, and the value of the goods. It is the primary document used by customs, and must meet specific customs requirements, such as the Harmonized System number and the country of manufacture. It is used to calculate tariffs.

Debit memo - When a company fails to pay or short-pays an invoice, it is common practice to issue a debit memo for the balance and any late fees owed. In function debit memos are identical to invoices.

Self-billing invoice - A self billing invoice is when the buyer issues the invoice to himself (e.g. according to the consumption levels he is taking out of a vendor-managed inventory stock).

Evaluated receipt settlement (ERS) - ERS is a process of paying for goods and services from a packing slip rather than from a separate invoice document. The payee uses data in the packing slip to apply the payments. "In an ERS transaction, the supplier ships goods based upon an Advance Shipping Notice (ASN), and the purchaser, upon receipt, confirms the existence of a corresponding purchase order or contract, verifies the identity and quantity of the goods, and then pays the supplier."

Timesheet - Invoices for hourly services such as by lawyers and consultants often pull data from a timesheet.

Invoicing - The term invoicing is also used to refer to the act of delivering baggage to a flight company in an airport before taking a flight.

Statement - A periodic customer statement includes opening balance, invoices, payments, credit memos, debit memos, and ending balance for the customer's account during a specified period. A monthly statement can be used as a summary invoice to request a single payment for accrued monthly charges.

Progress billing used to obtain partial payment on extended contracts, particularly in the construction industry (see Schedule of values)

Collective Invoicing is also known as monthly invoicing in Japan. Japanese businesses tend to have many orders with small amounts because of the outsourcing system (Keiretsu), or of demands for less inventory control (Kanban). To save the administration work, invoicing is normally processed on monthly basis.

Utility bills
Bills from utility companies are based on measured (metered) use of electricity, natural gas or other utilities at a residence or business. When an individual or business applies for service from the utility (opens an account), he signs an agreement (contract) to pay for his metered use of the utility.

Electronic invoices
Some invoices are no longer paper-based, but rather transmitted electronically over the Internet. It is still common for electronic remittance or invoicing to be printed in order to maintain paper records. Standards for electronic invoicing varies widely from country to country. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) standards such as the United Nation's EDIFACT standard include message encoding guidelines for electronic invoices.

But the most common continues to be PDF over email.

EDIFACT
The United Nations standard for electronic invoices ("INVOIC") includes standard codes for transmitting header information (common to the entire invoice) and codes for transmitting details for each of the line items (products or services). The "INVOIC" standard can also be used to transmit credit and debit memos. The "IFTMCS" standard is used to transmit freight invoices.

UBL
Use of the XML message format for electronic invoices has begun in recent years. There are two standards currently being developed. One is the cross industry invoice under development by the United Nations standards body UNCEFACT and the other is UBL (Universal Business Language) which is issued by [Oasis]http://www.oasis-open.org. Implementations of invoices based on UBL are common, most importantly in the public sector in Denmark. Further implementations are under way in the Scandinavian countries as result of the NES (North European Subset) project http://www.nesubl.eu. Implementations are also underway in , Italy, Spain, Holland and with the European Commission itself.

The NES work has been transferred to [CEN]http://www.cen.eu, (the standards body of the European Union) workshop CEN/BII, for public procurement in Europe. The result of that work is a pre-condition for PEPPOL, pan European pilots for public procurement, financed by the European commission. There UBL procurement documents will be implemented in cross border pilots between European countries.

Agreement has been made between UBL and UN/CEFACT for convergence of the two XML messages standards with the objective of merging the two standards into one before end of 2009 including the provision of an upgrade path for implementations started in either standard.

Payment for invoices
Organizations purchasing goods and services usually have a process in place for approving payment on the invoice based on an employee's confirmation that the goods or services have been received

My Zimbio

A typical invoice contains...

The word "invoice"
A unique reference number (in case of correspondence about the invoice)
Date of the invoice
Name and contact details of the seller
Tax or company registration details of seller (if relevant)
Name and contact details of the buyer
Date that the product was sent or delivered
Purchase order number (or similar tracking numbers requested by the buyer to be mentioned on the invoice)
Description of the product(s)
Unit price(s) of the product(s) (if relevant)
Total amount charged (optionally with breakdown of taxes, if relevant)
Payment terms (including method of payment, date of payment, and details about charges late payment)

The US Defense Logistics Agency requires an employer identification number on invoices.

The European Union requires a VAT (value added tax) identification number on invoices between entities registered for VAT.

If seller and buyer belong to two different EU countries, both VAT identification numbers must be on the invoice in order to claim VAT exemption (VAT exemption according to directive 77/388/CEE of 17 May 1977).

In the UK, if the issuing entity is not registered for VAT, the invoice must state that it is "not a VAT invoice".

My Zimbio

Factoring goes by many names, including invoice discounting, receivables factoring and debtor financing

In simple terms, factoring is a practice wherein one company purchases a debt or invoice from another company. It refers to the acquisition of accounts receivable, which are discounted in order to allow the buyer to make a profit upon collection of monies owed. Factoring transfers ownership of such accounts to another party that then works vigorously to collect the debt.

While factoring may allow the liable party to be relieved of the debt for less than the full amount, it is generally designed to be more beneficial to the factor, or new owner, and the seller of the account than to the debtor. The seller receives working capital, while the buyer is able to make a profit by buying the account for substantially less than what it is worth and then collecting on it. Factoring allows a buyer to purchase such accounts for about 25% less than what they are
actually worth.

The factor takes full responsibility for collecting the debt. The factor is required to pay additional fees, usually a small percentage, once collection efforts prove successful. The new owner of the account may offer the liable person or entity a small discount on the outstanding debt. Other arrangements are sometimes made, in which the debt is considered paid in full if a lump sum payoff is made under certain terms and conditions. Unfortunately, in some cases, factoring can cause the consumer or indebted company a great deal of financial stress, such as in the case of debt consolidation.

For example, if a person joins a debt consolidation program and one creditor engages in factoring, then the entity that purchases the account may not be bound by the program's contract with the original creditor. The factor may demand a large sum to consider the account current, and may increase interest rates as well as the monthly payment amount. This form of factoring may prove profitable in some cases, but in others it may backfire. The debtor may have no choice but to file for bankruptcy because he or she simply cannot afford the inflated interest rates and payment amounts. In the majority of cases, factoring is a profitable venture, but it is a good idea to review each account on an individual basis before deciding how to proceed.

Accounts receivable (A/R) is one of a series of accounting transactions dealing with the billing of customers who owe money to a person, company or organization for goods and services that have been provided to the customer. In most business entities this is typically done by generating an invoice and mailing or electronically delivering it to the customer, who in turn must pay it within an established timeframe called credit or payment terms.

An example of a common payment term is Net 30, meaning payment is due in the amount of the invoice 30 days from the date of invoice. Other common payment terms include Net 45 and Net 60 but could in reality be for any time period agreed upon by the vendor and client.

While booking a receivable is accomplished by a simple accounting transaction, the process of maintaining and collecting payments on the accounts receivable subsidiary account balances can be a full time proposition. Depending on the industry in practice, accounts receivable payments can be received up to 10 - 15 days after the due date has been reached. These types of payment practices are sometimes developed by industry standards, corporate policy, or because of the financial condition of the client.

On a company's balance sheet, accounts receivable is the amount that customers owe to that company. Sometimes called trade receivables, they are classified as current assets. To record a journal entry for a sale on account, one must debit a receivable and credit a revenue account. When the customer pays off their accounts, one debits cash and credits the receivable in the journal entry. The ending balance on the trial balance sheet for accounts receivable is always debit.

Business organizations which have become too large to perform such tasks by hand (or small ones that could but prefer not to do them by hand) will generally use accounting software on a computer to perform this task.

Associated accounting issues include recognizing accounts receivable, valuing accounts receivable, and disposing of accounts receivable.

Accounts receivable departments use the sales ledger. Accounts receivable is more commonly known as Credit Control in the UK, where most companies have a credit control department.

Other types of accounting transactions include accounts payable, payroll, and trial balance.

Since not all customer debts will be collected, businesses typically record an allowance for bad debts which is subtracted from total accounts receivable. When accounts receivable are not paid, some companies turn them over to third party collection agencies or collection attorneys who will attempt to recover the debt via negotiating payment plans, settlement offers or legal action. Outstanding advances are part of accounts receivables if a company gets an order from its customers with payment terms agreed in advance. Since no billing is being done to claim the advances several times this area of collectible is not reflected in accounts receivables. Ideally, since advance payment is mutually agreed term, it is the responsibility of the accounts department to take out periodically the statement showing advance collectible and should be provided to sales & marketing for collection of advances. The payment of accounts receivable can be protected either by a letter of credit or by Trade Credit Insurance.

Companies can use their accounts receivable as collateral when obtaining a loan (asset-based lending) or sell them through factoring (finance). Pools or portfolios of accounts receivable can be sold in the capital markets through a securitization.

Bookkeeping for Accounts Receivable
Companies have two methods available to them for measuring the net value of account receivables, which is computed by subtracting the balance of an allowance account from the accounts receivable account.

The first method is the allowance method, which establishes a liability account, allowance for doubtful accounts, or bad debt provision, that has the effect of reducing the balance for accounts receivable. The amount of the bad debt provision can be computed in two ways - either by reviewing each individual debt and deciding whether it is doubtful (a specific provision) or by providing for a fixed percentage, say 2%, of total debtors (a general provision). The change in the bad debt provision from year to year is posted to the bad debt expense account in the income statement.

The second method, known as the direct write-off method, is simpler than the allowance method in that it allows for one simple entry to reduce accounts receivable to its net realizable value. The entry would consist of debiting a bad debt expense account and crediting the respective account receivable in the sales ledger.

The two methods are not mutually exclusive, and some businesses will have a provision for doubtful debts and will also write off specific debts that they know to be bad (for example, if the debtor has gone into liquidation.)

For tax reporting purposes, a general provision for bad debts is not an allowable deduction from profit - a business can only get relief for specific debtors that have gone bad. However, for financial reporting purposes, companies may choose to have a general provision against bad debts in line with their past experience of customer payments in order to avoid over stating debtors in the balance sheet.

An invoice or bill is a commercial document issued by a seller to the buyer, indicating the products, quantities, and agreed prices for products or services the seller has provided the buyer. An invoice indicates the buyer must pay the seller, according to the payment terms.

From the point of view of a seller, an invoice is a sales invoice. From the point of view of a buyer, an invoice is a purchase invoice. The document indicates the buyer and seller, but the term invoice indicates money is owed or owing. In English, the context of the term invoice is usually used to clarify its meaning, such as "We sent them an invoice" (they owe us money) or "We received an invoice from them" (we owe them money).

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The International Factoring Association's (IFA)

The International Factoring Association's (IFA) goal is to assist the Factoring community by providing information, training, purchasing power and a resource for the Factoring community.

IFA Member Services

Mission Statement:
To disseminate information to the Factoring Community in regards to developments and changes in the factoring industry and to provide a forum for educational meetings and seminars.

Membership:
Membership is open to all banks and finance companies that perform financing or factoring through the purchase of invoices or other types of accounts receivable. To join the IFA, please download the membership application and submit it to the IFA via email at: info@factoring.org or fax at: 805-773-0021.

Factor Search:
This area is designed to let business that are seeking a factoring firm to e-mail specifics regarding their business to the factors. Only those factors that meet the business search criteria will be notified. Factor Search

Code of Ethics:
This document outlines the goals and objectives that all members of the International Factoring Association must adhere to. IFA Code of Ethics

Listserver:
To receive our newsletter and email of upcoming events, send email to: info@factoring.org , in the subject line state Subscribe IFA

Discussion Group:
For additional information please visit our Discussion Group

Job Board:
Allows Companies to post job openings and Candidates to post resumes and search for factoring job listings: Click Here: Job Board What is Factoring? (source: wisegeek)

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Kelly Clarkson - Already Gone



Remember all the things we wanted
Now all our memories, they're haunted
We were always meant to say goodbye
Even with our fists held high
It never would have worked out right, yeah
We were never meant for do or die...

I didn't want us to burn out
I didn't come here to hurt you now I can't stop...

I want you to know
It doesn't matter where we take this road
Someone's gotta go
And I want you to know
You couldn't have loved me better
But I want you to move on
So I'm already gone

Looking at you makes it harder
But I know that you'll find another
That doesn't always make you wanna cry
It started with the perfect kiss then
We could feel the poison set in
"Perfect" couldn't keep this love alive
You know that I love you so
I love you enough to let you go

I want you to know
It doesn't matter where we take this road
Someone's gotta go
And I want you to know
You couldn't have loved me better
But I want you to move on
So I'm already gone

I'm already gone, already gone
You can't make it feel right
When you know that it's wrong
I'm already gone, already gone
There's no moving on
So I'm already gone

Ahhhh already gone, already gone, already gone
Ahhhh already gone, already gone, already gone

Remember all the things we wanted
Now all our memories, they're haunted
We were always meant to say goodbye...

I want you to know
It doesn't matter where we take this road
Someone's gotta go
And I want you to know
You couldn't have loved me better
But I want you to move on
So I'm already gone

I'm already gone, already gone
You can't make it feel right
When you know that it's wrong
I'm already gone, already gone
There's no moving on,
So I'm already gone

My Zimbio

New iPhone app for San Juan, Puerto Rico




San Juan Insider is a new iPhone app, now available through iTunes.




A journalist colleague of mine, Julie Schwietert Collazo, recently introduced a new iPhone app, San Juan Insider. A collaboration between Schwietert and her husband Francisco, the app has 99 entries representing what they consider to be the best restaurants, hotels and experiences in San Juan, Puerto Rico. You'll also find a photo gallery for each entry, as well as a Google map, Website, phone number, price and service information. 

The download price on iTunes is $1.99, and subsequent updates are free. 

Schweitert said that the inspiration for the app was "curiosity, primarily. I wanted to see how app writing differs from, or is similar to, guidebook writing, and how the app is used by travelers. I also wanted to take what I consider to be the best of San Juan and package it in a single product. I didn't want to simply produce an app that was essentially a listing of every business in San Juan. Rather, I wanted to include only those restaurants, hotels and experiences I've actually done and recommend, which is particularly important in San Juan since service and quality are often quite uneven." 

Schweitert knows what she's talking about; she lived in San Juan from 2005 to 2007, and continues to return regularly. 








Julie Schwietert Collazo has written about Puerto Rico for Fodor's Puerto Rico and Latina Magazine, among other publications.



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Adiós al racionamiento

Cada día que pasa nos acerca al nuevo año, y con ello crece la alarma sobre el recorte de empleos y la disminución de subsidios que enfrentaremos en los próximos meses.

La frase de “seguir bordeando el precipicio”, que utilizó Raúl Castro en su último discurso, no tiene visos de metáfora sino de dolorosa realidad.

Dentro de las asistencias sociales que serán eliminadas, está el llamado mercado racionado que distribuye una pequeña cuota mensual de productos para cada ciudadano. Nadie puede sobrevivir comiendo solamente lo que anotan en su “libreta de racionamiento”, documento más importante aquí que el propio carnet de identidad.

Sin embargo, los bajísimos salarios y los altos precios de los otros mercados existentes en el país hacen que la supresión de esta subvención sea dramática y extremadamente controvertida.

No sólo es un apoyo básico y magro, sino que se comporta como el alpiste que justifica la jaula.

Siempre que la crítica eleva su tono y la inconformidad empieza a señalar al sistema, salen los oficialistas a recordarnos que el gobierno gasta millones al año para proveernos de un poco de frijoles, un paquete de café cada treinta días y ese trozo de mortadela que nutre más el humor popular que los estómagos.

Así ha sido durante más de cuarenta años, desde que se instauró el mercado normado, en un momento en que mis padres pensaron en que iba a ser algo temporal, una medida transitoria hasta que la economía planificada y centralizada comenzara a rendir frutos.

Con apenas unos días de nacida, inscribieron mi nombre en el registro de consumidores y veinte años después yo tuve que anotar a mi propio hijo en la misma lista. El racionamiento pasó a ser así algo inherente a nuestras vidas, de ahí que tantos no sepan si reír o si llorar ante la noticia de su final.

Todos estamos conscientes de que mantener la “libreta” resulta insostenible para la economía nacional, pero pocos se imaginan la vida sin ella.

Por si las cosas, en nuestra casa, hemos decidido poner a buen recaudo el menudo librito de hojas cuadriculadas que nos han entregado para 2011, pues si resultara ser realmente el último con toda seguridad se convertirá en un documento histórico.

Quienes defienden su eliminación inmediata aseguran que eso significará la colocación automática de toneladas de mercancías en venta libre, lo que se supone provocará un bajón de los precios en el mercado no regulado por el estado.

Pero, quizás el cambio más importante puede ocurrir en la mentalidad de las personas, cuando sientan que la pequeña porción de alpiste ya no está siendo colocada en el interior de la jaula, cuando comiencen a sentir la presión real de cada uno de los barrotes.

Yoani Sánchez

My Zimbio

Goodbye to Rationing

Every day brings us closer to the new year and, with it, the growing alarm over the job cuts and reductions in subsidies facing us in the coming months. A phrase from Raul Castro’s latest speech — “continuing on the edge of the precipice” — is not a metaphor but our painful reality.

Among the social assistance that will be eliminated is the so-called ration market, which distributes a small monthly quota of products to each citizen. No one can survive eating only what is recorded in his “ration book,” a document even more important here than our identity card.

But extremely low wages and high prices in the country’s other markets make the abolition of this subsidy dramatic and highly controversial.

It is not only a basic, though meager, support, but it is like the birdseed that justifies the cage.

Whenever the tone of criticism rises and dissenters began to point to the system, officials emerge to remind us that the government spends millions each year to provide us a few beans, a packet of coffee every thirty days, and that slice of bologna that feeds popular humor more than stomachs.

So it has been for more than forty years, since the establishment of the regulated market. At the time, my parents thought it would be a temporary, a transitional measure until the planned and centralized economy began to bear fruit.

Within a few days of my birth, my name was inscribed in the register of consumers, and twenty years later I had to enter the name of my son in the same list.

Rationing has become so ingrained in our lives that many do not know whether to laugh or cry at the news of its end.

We are all aware that keeping the “booklet” is unsustainable for the national economy, but few can imagine life without it.

In our house, we have decided to put the little book of graph paper we’ve been given for 2011 in a safe place, because if it really is the last one, surely it will become a historic document.

Those who defend its immediate elimination are sure it will mean the automatic appearance of tons of goods on the free market, and they assume this will cause prices to drop in this market not regulated by the state.

But perhaps the biggest change might be in the minds of the people; when they sense that the tiny portion of seed is no longer being placed inside the cage, they may begin to feel the real pressure of each one of the bars.

My Zimbio

North London






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Tras el temporal, arrecian las críticas en Nueva York

Las críticas llovían este miércoles contra los poderes municipales de Nueva York, acusados de una mala gestión de la crisis y de la parálisis de la ciudad, tras la severa tormenta de nieve en el noreste de Estados Unidos.
"La respuesta [de Nueva York] ha sido inaceptable", declaró a la prensa Christine Quinn, presidenta del consejo municipal, que ha decidido convocar una sesión especial sobre el tema.

"Escuchamos por todas partes las quejas de gente que todavía no había visto pasar el quitanieves o la excavadora en la tarde del día siguiente [a la tormenta]. Esta falta de intervención es la peor que puedo recordar", añadió.

La tormenta de nieve, una de las más importantes que ha visto la ciudad, comenzó el domingo por la tarde y duró poco más de 24 horas, dejando el lunes por la tarde una ciudad cubierta de más de medio metro de nieve.

Historias dramáticas
La limpieza ya ha comenzado, pero zonas enteras de Nueva York, sobre todo en Brooklyn, Queens y el Bronx, todavía no habían visto pasar el quitanieves el martes por la noche. Las calles seguían estando intransitables y bloqueadas por los montones de nieve y los vehículos inmovilizados en el medio de la calzada.

Peatones y trabajadores de emergencias intentan mover una ambulancia en Brooklyn. | AFP

Entre los centenares de historias de buses parados, comercios cerrados y líneas de metro suspendidas, las más terribles trataban de ambulancias, que llegaron varias horas después la llamada de auxilio, en ocasiones demasiado tarde.

Según el New York Times, una mujer víctima de un accidente cerebrovascular en Midwood (Brooklyn) esperó durante seis horas la ambulancia. Las lesiones cerebrales estaban muy avanzadas cuando por fin fue atendida por los servicios de emergencias.

En Forest Hills (Queens), los transeúntes tuvieron que esperar una ambulancia más de tres horas por un hombre inconsciente, mientras que en Crown Heights (Brooklyn), una mujer embarazada que había llamado a urgencias a las 8:30 fue atendida casi 10 horas después. La ambulancia, que llegó a las 18 horas, llegó demasiado tarde para salvar al bebé, según el diario neoyorquino.

La mujer dio a luz en un portal. Cuando por fin llegaron los bomberos y la policía, la recién nacida ya estaba inconsciente: "Nadie podía llegar. La calle no había sido limpiada y no vino ninguna ayuda médica durante horas", explicó la madre al diario Daily News.

Los medios locales también relata la tragedia de una mujer de Queens que esperó más de una hora y media a que una ambulancia llegara a atender a su madre, quien finalmente murió sin ser atendida.

"Los sanitarios llegaron andando al edificio abriéndose paso por la nieve. Realmente lo intentaron. Lo puedo decir por sus caras. Sólo reclamo que [el alcalde Michael] Bloomberg reconozca que se han producido víctimas mortales", reclamó el martes el senador estatal José Peralta en declaraciones a la prensa.

Bloomberg responde
"Yo también estoy enfadado. Esta tormenta no es como cualquier otra", dijo el alcalde Michael Bloomberg a los medios. El regidor ha ofrecido una rueda de prensa para defender el trabajo de los servicios de emergencias, asegurando que desbloquear la vía para las ambulancias era una prioridad y recordando que hubo "demasiada" gente que abandonó sus vehículos en mitad de las calles cuando se desató la tormenta. "La situación es mala, nadie dice que sea fácil, pero hacemos todo lo posible", dijo.

El Departamento de Bomberos confirmó este miércoles que durante la tormenta registrada el domingo y la madrugada del lunes pasados recibió más de 4.000 llamadas, lo que desencadenó el mayor despliegue de efectivos desde el 11 de septiembre de 2001. "Ha sido una verdadera locura. Desde el 2001 no habíamos vivido algo así y lo más complicado ha venido después de la tormenta", dijo un bombero que trabaja en la zona central de Manhattan.

En los medios de comunicación y blogs, numerosos ciudadanos recordaban los recortes sufridos por los servicios municipales, que han perdido 400 puestos en los últimos años mientras se prevén centenares de nuevas supresiones de puestos en los próximos meses.

En los tres aeropuertos de la ciudad, JFK, La Guardia y Newark (en New Jersey), reabiertos el lunes por la noche, todavía se registraban importantes retrasos dos días después, mientras se prevé una nueva avalancha de viajeros antes del fin de semana de Año Nuevo.

Agravando aún más la situación, el grupo japonés Honda ha tenido que retirar este miércoles 18.500 máquinas quitanieves en EEUU y Canadá por una pérdida de carburante que suponía un riesgo de incendio.

En Twitter, el alcalde de Newark (Nueva Jersey), Cory Booker, respondía directamente este miércoles a decenas de mensajes que le enviaban. "Sea paciente", decía a un usuario que le apremiaba: "Necesido un quitanieves, calle 13, norte".

AFP | Efe | El Mundo, New York

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Stocks extended their strong December run, helped by gains in the energy sector and a drop in the U.S. dollar.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 40 points, or 0.4%, to 11616, adding to a gain of more than 5% this month. McDonald's led with a 1.1% gain, while Walt Disney, International Business Machines and Chevron all gained 0.8% or more.

.The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.3% to 2671. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index added 0.3% to 1262.

Market moves are expected to be muted for the rest of the week as investors look to lock in the year's gains. Volume has been light thanks to holiday vacations and a deluge of snow in the Northeast.

The Dow is up about 11% for 2010, while the S&P 500 is up nearly 13% and the Nasdaq is up nearly 18%. Small-cap stocks have surged even more, with the Russell 2000 up more than 26%. Almost all those gains have come in the second half of the year, with the Dow up 7.5% in the fourth quarter alone. Trading for the year wraps up on Friday.

Traders said after the volatility of this spring, the market's year-end returns were surprisingly good.

"It's the stealth rally—at the end of the day, the markets had quite a good year," said Mitch Rubin, chief investment officer at RiverPark Advisors. The spring slump and the May 6 "flash crash" added volatility but didn't undercut the indexes severely, he said.

Energy and materials stocks were two of the best performers Wednesday. Halliburton rose 2%, Schlumberger gained 2.1%, and Occidental Petroleum advanced 1.8%. Monsanto gained 3.2%.

Sears Holdings soared 6.2% to lead consumer-discretionary stocks, one of the strongest sectors of the day, building on gains made this week after it began promoting a new movie-download service.

The consumer-discretionary sector rose 0.5% on Wednesday and has risen 26% this year to lead the S&P's 10 sectors. Even with the sector's surprising strength, some investors were cautious about reading it as a sign of economic recovery, particularly after a recent dose of sobering housing and consumer confidence data.

."Consumption is going to be a big disappointment" in the new year, said Mark Tepper, managing partner of Strategic Wealth Partners. "There's still a real estate crisis—that's still a complete and total mess."

The government keeps issuing new debt, as more data about the holiday shopping season come out. Deborah Lynn Blumberg, John Shipman and George Stahl report.

.Shares of GenVec jumped 5.8% after the biopharmaceutical company said it will be working with Sanofi-Aventis' animal-health unit Merial to commercialize GenVec's vaccine technology for treatment of foot-and-mouth disease.

Savient Pharmaceuticals shed 2.1% after its board started a search for a chief executive, a role the company left vacant since late 2008 when Christopher G. Clement resigned in an "involuntary termination by the company without cause," according to a regulatory filing at the time.

Treasury prices rose, pushing the yield on the 10-year note down to 3.35%. Yields move inversely to prices.

Crude-oil futures prices fell 0.4%, while gold futures climbed.

By KRISTINA PETERSON And JONATHAN CHENG
Write to Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@dowjones.com
The Wall Street Journal

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Two Companies Bound for Short Squeezes: First Bancorp and ATP Oil & Gas

Being a contrarian and playing a heavily shorted stock can, in some situations, lead to a ” short squeeze” and thus be one of the most profitable ways to make money in the markets. A “short squeeze” occurs when short-sellers rush to cover their positions due to a rapid increase in the price of a stock or futures contract. Such an event generally occurs in stocks that have small floats and a large number of short positions (relative to the float).

A “short squeeze” can be caused by any number of different reasons – generally speaking, the most common cause is an unexpected piece of good news for a company. This leads to people taking new positions in the company’s stock, the price rising and short-sellers deciding that they want to get out of the stock. The short-covering only adds fuel to the fire, sending the shares even higher.

Both ATP Oil & Gas (ATPG) and First Bancorp (FBP) have been the subjects of heavy shorting, some of which has been reported as naked-shorting, and may be finally ripe for a short squeeze due to the improving fundamental and technical aspects.

First Bancorp:

After being down more than 82% year-to-date, from a 52-week high of $3.84 down to a 52-week low of $0.24, shares of First Bancorp have begun to rally on news that CEO Aurelio Alemá and the company's board of directors rejected a recent buyout offer of $0.30 a share from Doral Financial Corporation (DRL). Whispers on Wall Street strongly indicate that other offers could be put forth at much higher premiums.

This, however, was not the first instance where a larger financial corporation made an offer to buy a smaller one in order to capitalize on the cheap valuations and expand operations. A few days ago, on December 17, Bank of Montreal (BMO) had agreed to a deal to buy Marshall & Ilsley (MI), thus opening the door for a previously unseen catalyst to affect small banks in a positive manner. Many analysts believe that BMO’s deal to buy Marshall & Ilsley is likely one of many to come.

Bank of Montreal, Canada’s fourth-biggest bank by assets, agreed to buy Wisconsin’s Marshall & Ilsley Corp. for $4.1 billion to expand in the U.S. The deal values Marshall & Ilsley at $7.75 a share, compared with Wednesday’s closing price of $5.79 on the New York Stock Exchange, Toronto-based BMO said in a statement on Thursday.

With well over 45% of the float being in the hands of the short sellers, it is clear that not many believe in the future of this bank, yet it is exactly these situations that usually represent the most opportunities for investors looking to make multi-bagger gains.

On the chart above we see that a mini cup and handle pattern has formed over the last two months, with a breakout that could pop the stock to around $0.50 a share. Considering this is an estimate not taking into account the possibility of a short-squeeze, it would not be surprising to see a strong push towards the $0.70 resistance last seen in early August.

As seen by the recent moves on Wednesday's trading session in CCF Holding Company (CCFH), which is up 16.67%; BankAtlantic Bancorp (BBX), up 22.86%; and Oriental Financial Group (OFG), up 4.16%, small banks are clearly becoming popular among traders seeking high returns.

ATP Oil & Gas Corporation:

More recently, on Wednesday's trading session, the price of crude oil futures in the United States rose to a two-year high on Thursday after it passed $90 per barrel. The rising price came after information was recently released indicating that gasoline and crude stockpiles decreased the previous week. According to the American Petroleum Institute’s report, which was released in the evening hours of Tuesday, crude oil stock declined 5.8 million barrels since the previous week while gasoline stockpiles dropped 2.9 million barrels.

As the demand for gasoline continues to rise during the holiday season and supplies drop, the price of gasoline is expected to increase in the next week. It is possible (but not likely) to see the price of oil reach $100 per barrel in 2011.

How can you justify having a healthy portfolio without holding some sort of energy company? The reality is, you can`t.

ATP Oil & Gas is a company that is down 14% year-to-date, yet the 36% shares short of the total float could offer a nice bonus to shareholders once some positive news comes rolling in -- and this may not be too far off, given its recent announcement of a quarterly cash dividend. That dividend is on its 8.0% Cumulative Convertible Perpetual Preferred Stock at a rate of $2.02 per share, and is payable on January 3, 2011 to shareholders of record at the close of business on December 15, 2010. It is general investment knowledge that a company declares a dividend as it begins to rebound and move towards a more positive future outlook. Many believe it is this company that will benefit most from the recent moratorium lift, and not BP Global (BP).

From Investment Underground (here):

ATPG engages in off-shore drilling and production at proven, but not-yet-developed, fields in the Gulf of Mexico and in the North Sea. So far, the company has carved itself a profitable niche, drilling with a 98% success rate and avoiding the “wildcat” risks of targeting and then drilling exploratory wells.

The company operates three subsea wells in the North Sea, with its key operation at the Cheviot field coming online in 2012.
From a technical perspective, it is easy to see why a short squeeze could erupt at any given time. The stock recently broke out of a three-month long ascending triangle pattern, and is now on the verge of breaking out of a bullish wedge formation.

Perhaps more noticeable is the 50-day moving average crossing the 200-day moving average and forming a golden cross, thus signalling that the long-term uptrend looks to continue. Buyers have definitely begun to step in and put pressure on the short sellers, as seen by the Relative Strength Index (RSI) metric, which has now broken out of a three-month-long downtrend. A bullish cross has also taken place on the full stochastic, further validating a corrective move to the upside in the near future.

Options were also heavily traded on the stock for the January 21 expiration, wtih the $17.50 and $16.00 strike price call options being at the top of the list. A total of 1,701 were traded, with 7,096 on the open interest side for the $17.50. Doubling that were the $17.50 strike price call options with a volume of 3,495 and 4,219 open interest, signaling that many investors purchased the calls at market price as they strongly believe it will reach at or near the strike price before the expiration date.

Disclosure: I am long FBP. (SA, both)
Seeking Alpha

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WikiCuba: El Vaticano detras del canje de los 5 espias.

No hay duda que el interlocutor de Castro en Estados Unidos con relacion al canje de los 5 espias presos en Estados Unidos es el Vaticano de acuerdo a este cable.

La informacion, transmitida el 4 de abril de 2009, se basa en una reunion del Diputado en Jefe de la Mision de Estados Unidos en Cuba con el oficial a cargo de las relaciones con los paises caribenos y andinos de la Santa Sede, el Monsenor Angelo Accattino.

Estos parrafos son reveladores, especialmente acerca de la reduccion del costo de las remesas que exigia Estados Unidos en esa reunion, y que hace unos dias anunciara el regimen de Castro, hasta la "posibilidad intrigante del Vaticano acerca de un canje de los 5 espias por disidentes presos en Cuba" para mejorar las relaciones y su seguimiento a la apelacion a la Corte Suprema en el caso de los 5 espias.

?Que habra discutido el Cardenal Alomio -Alamino- en su viaje el pasado Junio, reuniendose con legisladores en Washington, casualmente el mismo mes que la Corte Suprema desestimo el caso? Leyendo este cable tendremos una idea mas precisa de lo que se estaba cocinando en el Vaticano entonces y se esta sirviendo ahora.

Es importante, leer estos parrafos en el contexto actual de los acontecimientos.

"¶2. (C) CDA and Acting DCM (Deputy Chief of Mission) on April 22 called on the Holy See’s official in charge of relations with Caribbean and Andean countries, Msgr. Angelo Accattino, to review recent developments in the region. As he had done previously (ref c), Accattino warmly welcomed recent White House policy decisions on Cuba and reviewed with interest the White House Fact Sheet on “Reaching Out to the Cuban People” which CDA gave him. Accattino also noted favorably Raul Castro’s comments that Cuba was prepared to talk to the U.S. about all topics - although “after all, he has no other options anymore.” CDA said Castro would need to reciprocate the moves from Washington with more than words - he needed to take action on political prisoners or reduce the cost of receiving remittances in Cuba."

¶3. (C) Accattino said the Vatican considered intriguing the possibility of a swap of political prisoners in Cuba for the “Cuban Five” in jail in the U.S. ADCM protested that their circumstances were not parallel, as the Cuban Five were convicted spies and the prisoners in Cuba were dissidents. Accattino quickly agreed but said discussions that led to the release of the dissidents were worth pursuing regardless. The Holy See was also following the Supreme Court appeal by the Cuban Five, to see how that might affect relations between the U.S. and Cuba. As an interim measure, Accattino suggested that the U.S. allow a jail visit by the wives of two of the five Cuban spies. CDA again noted that the U.S. had taken the first step, now the Cuban government needed to reciprocate in a concrete way.

Juan Cuellar, Por Cuba y Para Cuba.

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History of factoring

Factoring's origins lie in the financing of trade, particularly international trade. Factoring as a fact of business life was underway in England prior to 1400. It appears to be closely related to early merchant banking activities. The latter however evolved by extension to non-trade related financing such as sovereign debt. Like all financial instruments, factoring evolved over centuries. This was driven by changes in the organization of companies; technology, particularly air travel and non-face to face communications technologies starting with the telegraph, followed by the telephone and then computers. These also drove and were driven by modifications of the common law framework in England and the United States.

Governments were latecomers to the facilitation of trade financed by factors. English common law originally held that unless the debtor was notified, the assignment between the seller of invoices and the factor was not valid. The Canadian Federal Government legislation governing the assignment of moneys owed by it still reflects this stance as does provincial government legislation modelled after it. As late as the current century the courts have heard arguments that without notification of the debtor the assignment was not valid. In the United States it was only in 1949 that the majority of state governments had adopted a rule that the debtor did not have to be notified thus opening up the possibility of non notification factoring arrangements.

Originally the industry took physical possession of the goods, provided cash advances to the producer, financed the credit extended to the buyer and insured the credit strength of the buyer. In England the control over the trade thus btained resulted in an Act of Parliament in 1696 to mitigate the monopoly power of the factors. With the development of larger firms who built their own sales forces, distribution channels, and knowledge of the financial strength of their customers, the needs for factoring services were reshaped and the industry became more specialized.

By the twentieth century in the United States factoring became the predominant form of financing working capital for the then high growth rate textile industry. In part this occurred because of the structure of the US banking system with its myriad of small banks and consequent limitations on the amount that could be advanced prudently by any one of them to a firm. In Canada, with its national banks the limitations were far less restrictive and thus factoring did not develop as widely as in the US. Even then factoring also became the dominant form of financing in the Canadian textile industry.

Today factoring's rationale still includes the financial task of advancing funds to smaller rapidly growing firms who sell to larger more creditworthy organizations. While almost never taking possession of the goods sold, factors offer various combinations of money and supportive services when advancing funds.

Factors often provide their clients four key services: information on the creditworthiness of their prospective customers domestic and international; maintain the history of payments by customers (i.e., accounts receivable ledger); daily management reports on collections; and, make the actual collection calls. The outsourced credit function both extends the small firms effective addressable marketplace and insulates it from the survival-threatening destructive impact of a bankruptcy or financial difficulty of a major customer. A second key service is the operation of the accounts receivable function. The services eliminate the need and cost for permanent skilled staff found within large firms. Although today even they are oursourcing such backoffice functions. More importantly, the services insure the entrepreneurs and owners against a major source of a liquidity crises and their equity.

In the latter half of the twentieth century the introduction of computers eased the accounting burdens of factors and then small firms. The same occurred for their ability to obtain information about debtor’s creditworthiness. Introduction of the Internet and the web has accelerated the process while reducing costs.

Today credit information and insurance coverage is available any time of the day or night on-line. The web has also made it possible for factors and their clients to collaborate in realtime on collections. Acceptance of signed documents provided by facsimile as being legally binding has eliminated the need for physical delivery of “originals”, thereby reducing time delays for entrepreneurs.

By the first decade of the twenty first century a basic public policy rationale for factoring remains that the product is well suited to the demands of innovative rapidly growing firms critical to economic growth. A second public policy rationale is allowing fundamentally good business to be spared the costly management time consuming trials and tribulations of bankruptcy protection for suppliers, employees and customers or to provide a source of funds during the process of restructuring the firm so that it can survive and grow.

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WikiBama: ¿Ayuda humanitaria secreta a Cuba y canje de espias?

Las relaciones entre Obama y Castro parecen ser mas amplias de lo que se ha informado publicamente. La administracion de Obama, al parecer, segun reportes secretos en WikiLeaks de la Seccion de Intereses en Cuba, ha discutido mas temas que la repatriacion de los balseros, el trafico ilegal de cubanos y el de drogas.

Acorde a los documentos, se han discutido desde "terrorismo, levantamiento del embargo, levantamiento de las restricciones de viajes a Cuba, hasta ayuda humanitaria por devastaciones de huracanes secretas y el canje de sus 5 espias encarcelados en EE.UU.

http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/09/09HAVANA559.html
Comment: DIS was extremely surprised by the hurricane assistance-related comments made by the MINREX officer. Having spent a significant amount of time working and traveling with Cuban MININT and MINREX officers over the past year, Cubans are extremely proud people, and almost never admit that there is a flaw in their system, even when the flaw is a glaring one. For a MINREX officer to admit that his country may be willing to accept assistance from the U.S. should a hurricane ravage this island again, ventures well beyond the perceived pride level of GOC officials.

More than anything, the GOC does not like to be embarrassed, and taking handouts from the USG may well be a point of embarrassment for the GOC should they choose to accept. As such, any genuine post-hurricane assistance offer should be extended quietly; however, the USG should be wary that the GOC may be expecting a blank check, not a calculated offer of pragmatic post-hurricane assistance. End Comment. "

http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/06/09HAVANA341.html: "However, the topic was brushed over, and Bencomo reiterated his past message that the GOC is also interested in engaging in talks on 3 additional topics: counterdrug, counterterrorism, and natural disaster response and preparation"........... "Recollecting an earlier conversation in which he stated that, although the U.S. had made some recent overtures towards the GOC, Bencomo stated that the U.S. could take "heavier" steps to change the nature of the relationship. DIS asked Bencomo why he believed migration talks and the other three topics mentioned above were so important if the GOC was so interested in seeing "heavier" changes. He stated that the aforementioned forums for engagement are a launching point, or segue, to further talks on larger issues, which we believe include the embargo, Guantanamo Bay, and the five Cuban spies."

http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/12/09HAVANA726.html (C) Ambassador Cacho said he had been asked that morning XXXXXXXXXXXX to demarche the GOC to ask that they be allowed to visit their imprisoned relatives on Christmas Day as a humanitarian gesture. He was prepared to do so but was skeptical he would obtain a positive response. The ambassador asked if Perez O,Conor and Salanueva, wives of two of the Cuban Five, would receive visas to visit their husbands. COM described the history of their ineligibilities and the differences between the two cases. The ambassador noted the GOC,s interest in swapping the Cuban FIVE for political prisoners in Cuba. COM responded that the vast majority of the Damas and their imprisoned relatives were opposed to any such offer.

El hecho de que las discusiones con la Habana, relacionadas a la inmigracion, llegue al punto de discutirse la liberacion de los cinco espias asesinos tal vez hizo que Castro anunciara pomposamente su liberacion en estas Navidades, resulta demasiado coincidental. En otro WikiLeaks, el Jefe de la Seccion de Intereses en Cuba, Jonathan Farrar mencionaba los deseos de Cuba en negociar el canje de sus espias, a lo que el funcionario norteamericano agregaba que Las Damas de Blanco se oponian a tal medida: ?Tendra algo que ver la division fomentada por la Iglesia en Cuba de Las Damas de Blanco y la resistencia de Castro en soltar a los 11 restantes? ?Seran 5 miserables por 11 justos?

Para mi es alarmante tambien que la administracion de Obama contemple enviarle dinero a Cuba secretamente en ayuda humanitaria bajo las condiciones de Castro. Una investigacion Congresional deberia llevarse a Cabo al respecto. Es inmoral que en cuestiones de inmigracion, se ventilen subsidios humanitarios por debajo de la mesa al antojo del regimen y se considere el canje de espias castristas por hombres inocentes. El nuevo Comitee de Relaciones Exteriores del Congreso deberia exigir una respuesta a tales maniobras.

Que estaran planeando los Castros con la nuevas declaraciones de Gerardo Hernandez, el unico espia condenado por el vil asesinato de Armando Alejandre, Jr., Carlos Costa, Mario de la Pena, y Pablo Morales.

¿Una promesa de Obama ante uno de sus jueces o un perdon al final de su mandato, como hizo Clinton con los Macheteros? y, ?Tiene algo que ver todo esto de "colaboracion contra el terrorismo" que Castro desea con el nuevo giro judicial que ha tomado el caso de Posada Carriles?

Leyendo los documentos de WikiLeaks y viendo el desenvolvimiento en el Departamento de Justicia de Obama, no lo dudaria.

Por Juan Cuellar
Por Cuba Para Cuba

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Cable Shows Nations Going Easy on Cuba

WASHINGTON — Cuba is getting a free pass on its human rights abuses from many of the world’s leading democracies, with visitors from Canada, Australia and Switzerland failing to criticize the Castro regime or meet with dissidents while on the island, according to a confidential diplomatic cable sent to the State Department from Havana.

The cable, transmitted in November 2009 and signed by Jonathan D. Farrar, the top American diplomat in Cuba, hinted that there were economic motives behind the accommodating approach. But if so, the cable concluded, these countries were not getting much of a payoff.

The rewards for acquiescing to Cuban sensitivities, it said, were “risible: pomp-full dinners and meetings, and for the most pliant, a photo-op with one of the Castro brothers.”

The cable added, “In terms of substance or economic benefits they fare little better than those who stand up to” the government.

And yet, in a cable sent six months earlier, the United States Interests Section in Havana also lamented that the Cuban dissidents supported by Washington for decades were old, out of touch and so split by internecine squabbles that the United States should look elsewhere for future leaders.

While that cable, also signed by Mr. Farrar, said dissidents deserved continued American support, it said that some groups had been infiltrated by Cuban intelligence. “We see very little evidence that the mainline dissident organizations have much resonance among Cubans,” it said.

A trove of cables made public by WikiLeaks attests to the strained nature of the Cuban-American relationship, at a time when Cuba’s revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, is in failing health and his ideological feud with Washington has little relevance for other countries eager to build bridges. The United States, by contrast, clings to a trade embargo and a policy of isolating Cuba.

“On the one hand, the U.S. is saying the dissidents are hopeless and aging,” said Julia Sweig, a senior fellow and expert on Cuba at the Council on Foreign Relations. “On the other hand, the same interests section is saying that the Canada and E.U. engagement is not helping progress on human rights.”

Pointing to Cuba’s release of political prisoners and the economic reforms being championed by Fidel Castro’s brother Raúl, Ms. Sweig said the engagement of the European Union and other countries appeared to be more fruitful than the implacable cold shoulder from Washington.

The United States operates an interests section, rather than an embassy, in Havana because the two countries have not had diplomatic relations for five decades. The office sends a steady stream of analysis to Washington, with vivid dispatches on Fidel Castro’s health problems and sober speculation about how Cuba might change after he finally leaves the scene.

There is also evidence that Raúl Castro, the president, has reached out to the United States. In a cable dated December 2009, Mr. Farrar reported that Mr. Castro sought a “political channel” to the White House. The Cuban president raised the issue with the Spanish foreign minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, who passed it on to Mr. Farrar via Spain’s ambassador to Cuba, Manuel Cacho.

On Thursday, the State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, ruled out high-level contacts without major political changes. “We have not seen anything approaching fundamental change in Cuba at this point,” he said. The administration has held only technical talks about Cuban migration.

A senior State Department official said the United States was encouraged by the release of political prisoners, but noted that most of those people were immediately exiled from the country.

In the cable about how other countries deal with Cuba on official visits, American officials classified those approaches on a scale from kowtowing to confrontational: “best-friends-forever,” “keep-it-private,” “we-respectfully-disagree” and, in rare cases, “take-your-visit-and-shove-it.”

A large majority of countries with diplomatic posts in Havana, it said, do not raise human rights issues with the Cuban government in public or private. A handful of countries — including Britain, Germany and the Czech Republic — have refused to send senior officials to Cuba, rather than accept the government’s restrictions on who they can meet while there.

Other countries fall somewhere in between, agreeing to restrictions but broaching the topic of human rights, mostly behind closed doors. A senior Canadian minister, Peter Kent, broached the issue of political prisoners with officials, but left Havana without voicing public criticism.

Another offender, the cable said, was the European Union, which takes a softer line toward Cuba than many of its member states. Officials at the European mission, it said, told American diplomats they looked forward to Spain’s assuming the rotating presidency of the union because it was more moderate than the “radical” Swedes and Czechs.

The cable singles out the Vatican for praise, noting that one of its representatives, Archbishop Claudio Celli, called for “greater information and Internet access for all Cubans.” He even praised Cuban bloggers, angering his hosts, though he later softened his comments back in Rome.

It is not exactly clear what quid pro quo countries hope to get for their friendly behavior, but analysts said Europeans were eager to forge commercial ties with Cuba, in part because they feared that if relations between Havana and Washington thawed, Americans would have an edge.

In addition to human rights issues, cables from Havana kept a close eye on Fidel Castro’s deteriorating health. A March 2007 cable, signed by Mr. Farrar’s predecessor, Michael E. Parmly, sought to debunk official claims of a “Castro comeback” after his long absence from the public stage.

Based on a report from an opposition figure, it said Mr. Castro became critically ill with a perforated intestine while on a plane in July 2006. His condition was complicated because he refused to have a colostomy. A Cuban doctor familiar with the case said that Mr. Castro could not be cured, and that he would “progressively lose his faculties and become ever more debilitated until he dies.”

Nearly two years later, another cable reported the latest rumors of Mr. Castro’s death. It concluded that his death would have little immediate effect. “We do not believe the announcement of Fidel’s death would spark either violent demonstrations or a quick surge in migration,” it said.

By MARK LANDLER
Andrew W. Lehren contributed reporting from New York, and Scott Shane from Washington.

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