If you’re stuck in traffic in Los Angeles, you can at least tell yourself that it’s worse in Thailand, overall. Colombia and Indonesia tied for second-worst traffic, while the U.S. and Russia tied for fourth. LA has been ranked the world’s most gridlocked city, topping Moscow and New York, but Thailand has been rated the most congested country. The rankings were released Monday by Inrix, a transportation analytics company. But traffic data firm Inrix reports that it has a fresh way of measuring the worst traffic across the globe and that Los Angeles is not only America's No. 1 but the world's as well. Greater L.A.'s rank on the all-new Global Traffic Scorecard is based on the estimated time the average local motorist spent stuck in traffic during peak commuter hours in 2016.
Using smartphones, laptops and other technology to work from home may help you do away with rush hour traffic, but also lead to longer working hours, higher stress and sleeping problems, according to a new UN study in 15 countries. “This report shows that the use of modern communication technologies facilitates a better overall work-life balance,” said Jon Messenger, co-author of the joint report by the UN International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Eurofund. The study, Working anytime, anywhere: The effects on the world of work is based on interviews with workers and experts in 10 European Union member states, Argentina, Brazil, India, Japan and the United States.
The next meeting of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) will be on 21st to 23rd April 2017 in Washington, D.C. The US dollar is overvalued in relation to other currencies, and therefore it could be a good idea to sell US dollars just as this Newsletter has recommended selling US equities now since the prices are very high and a correction to the bull market is overdue. It is unlikely that this cycle will last to the end of 2017. One could then reenter the market after the correction.
Switzerland's trade surplus increased in January as imports declined sharply from the previous month, the Federal Customs Administration reported Tuesday. The trade surplus rose to CHF 4.7 billion in January from CHF 2.7 billion in December. Month-on-month, exports slid 4% m/m in real terms, after surging to a record level in December (+9.7% m/m). At the same time, imports slid 5.3% versus a 0.6% fall in the previous month.
The amount of cash kept with the Swiss central bank jumped last week, data on Monday showed, suggesting it intervened to weaken a franc currency buoyed by political risks in France and renewed worries about Greece's public finances. Since Donald Trump's surprise U.S. presidential election victory on November 18, the 4.458 billion franc increase in sight deposits was the biggest Sight deposits - cash that commercial banks hold with the Swiss National Bank, and seen as a guide to its currency market interventions - rose to 543.458 billion Swiss francs ($541.62 billion) from 539 billion francs a week earlier.
The GBP/USD pair erased most of Friday's losses yesterday, successfully climbing over the 1.2450 level, thus, breaching the immediate resistance area. Now the British currency is being supported by a strong demand area around the 1.24 major level, with the weekly PP just being a minor nuisance located at 1.2449. Technically, the Cable should remain above the 1.24 mark today and pave its way towards retaking the 1.25 handle. However, technical indicators are still unable to confirm the possibility of the positive outcome, leaving the door open for another leg down.
Pension funds with defined benefit schemes were fewer in Switzerland in 2015 than 10 years earlier, according to official statistics released today. The figures showed 230 funds disappeared, according to the country’s federal statistics bureau (BFS): the number of pension funds with defined benefit (DB) plans (Leistungsprimat) fell from 289 to 58 between 2005 to 2015, with only 15 public. Whereas one in five individuals were in DB schemes in 2005, in 2015 this ratio was down to 1 in 15, according to the statistics. The BFS said that the decline in the number of Pensionskassen running DB plans went hand-in-hand with a decline in the number of scheme members.
The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) is stepping up its push to keep the price of a pint down for millions of UK pub-goers, calling on the Treasury to reduce beer duty by 1p. With inflation expected to rise in the next year, the cut will help to cap the price of beer, keeping more money in consumers’ pockets and helping the pubs and brewing sector to grow. Beer drinkers are already being hit in the pocket, with Heineken and Carlsberg last month becoming the latest brewers to raise prices, following MolsonCoors – maker of the UK’s most popular beer, Carling – and ABInBev. The weak pound has also driven up the cost of imported raw materials such as hops, which could threaten Britain’s craft beer industry.
The non-governmental organizations (NGO) Transparency International said authorities regulating the financial sector lack transparency, creating mistrust and hampering the effectiveness of systems designed to prevent financial crime, according to a report into the amount of information published on authorities’ anti-money laundering efforts in 12 countries hosting major financial centres. “We need to see that the people meant to stop corruption in the banking industry are doing their job,” said José Ugaz, chair of NGO. “There is no good reason to keep this data secret," he added. "We, the citizens, have the right to know if the financial sector is being permissive or complicit with illicit activity.”
Global transaction banks are actively using SWIFT’s new global payments innovation (gpi) service, which opened for live payments in January 2017, says the financial messaging services provider. ABN AMRO, Bank of China, BBVA, Citi, Danske Bank, DBS Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, ING Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Nordea Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and UniCredit are live with SWIFT gpi, exchanging gpi payments across 60 country corridors. Numerous additional banks will follow in the coming months. “SWIFT gpi is now live and is already enhancing the cross-border payments experience for corporate treasurers,” says Christian Sarafidis, Chief Marketing Officer at SWIFT.
Only a little more than half a year is remaining until implementation of PRIIPs and MiFID II, and th
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