Tag Archives: spending

US banks ramp up spending on talent and technology

Costs at the top US banks jumped more than $ 6.6bn, or 10 per cent, in the most recent quarter compared with the same period of last year as executives paid up for talent and technology to fortify their businesses against increasing competition from nearly every angle.

The increase in spending at JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and Citigroup surprised analysts. Many had predicted that banks’ expenses would fall modestly this year as the extra costs associated with doing business during the pandemic faded away.

However, on a series of conference calls this week to discuss quarterly earnings, executives forecast higher annual expenses due to pay increases for bankers and bigger investments in technology and marketing.

“There’s a nervousness among investors that this is the cost of doing business to keep clients from bleeding to fintechs,” said Autonomous Research bank analyst Brian Foran.

Cost increases at most US banks are outpacing revenue growth while banks grapple with historically low interest rates and a dramatic slowdown in lending.

Expenses at the five banks were 21 per cent higher in the second quarter compared with 2019, before the pandemic hit, according to earnings released this week. But second-quarter revenues just rose 10 per cent compared with 2019.

Although technology spending has been on the rise for years, accelerated digitisation during the pandemic has forced executives to stump up even more.

Column chart of Quarterly expenses in US$ bn showing US banks are spending more to fend off competition

“The urgency and importance when you talk to bank executives seems to go up by the day,” Foran said.

The higher spending represents a shift from how banks reacted to the last financial crisis, when many relied on cost cuts to boost profits. But stimulus programmes helped banks avoid the wave of pandemic-related loan losses that executives had expected, meaning they have extra cash to spend.

“We are identifying, particularly given the pace of the recovery, some real strategic opportunities to invest in the franchise,” Citigroup chief financial officer Mark Mason said this week after the bank reported a 7 per cent increase in costs. “We’re not going to miss this window of opportunity.”

Banks are facing heightened competition in virtually every aspect of their business. Private equity firms now have the capital to execute large deals on their own without relying on banks, and fintech companies are eroding margins in the wealth management business and luring some consumers away from traditional banks with lower fees and perks.

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan chief executive, warned about the banking industry’s shrinking share of the US financial system in his annual letter to shareholders in April. The bank this week raised its annual expense guidance by 1 per cent to $ 71bn.

Column chart of Quarterly compensation costs US$ bn showing Banks are paying their employees more amid a war for talent

“If we can find more good money to spend we’re going to spend it,” Dimon said on the bank’s earnings call.

Compensation, the biggest expense for the industry by far, rose 7 per cent at the five banks in the second quarter compared with last year as they paid up for talent.

Investment banks like Citigroup and JPMorgan have raised salaries for junior investment bankers who complained of burnout during the pandemic, and Bank of America committed to increasing its minimum wage to $ 25 per hour.

Businesses like investment banking with performance-related compensation have also outperformed expectations this year, which is likely to drive up bonuses.

As part of the tech push, banks are increasingly recruiting engineers and data scientists, which increases their median pay, said Jan Bellens, global banking and capital markets sector leader at EY.

Column chart of Marketing expenses in US$ m showing Banks are spending much more on marketing than during the pandemic

Quarterly marketing expenses also soared 46 per cent year-on-year across the group as lenders pushed promotional credit card offers in attempt to jump-start loan growth and bankers got back to wining and dining potential clients after the lockdowns last year.

“The banks are all in the ring and they’re all ready to fight for revenues. Fighting for revenues means spending more on growth,” said Mike Mayo, bank analyst at Wells Fargo.

Other bank-specific factors are also fuelling spending like integration expenses for Morgan Stanley following two large deals and regulatory costs at Citigroup.

Banks will hope this latest round of tech spending will yield better results than previous efforts. Years of prior tech spending have failed to meaningfully reduce the cost of doing business for banks, with banks’ efficiency ratios — a measure of costs as a proportion of income — remaining stubbornly above 50 per cent for years.

Higher spending in the face of revenue pressures could be a tough sell to bank investors who have closely monitored profitability metrics.

“It’s really hard for investors to understand the long-term value of technology investments being made now,” said Vivian Merker, a consultant at Oliver Wyman. “In part because historically there’s been over promises and under delivers and in part because no one knows the future.”

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This post originally posted here International homepage

Xbox Family Settings App Adds New Settings to Manage Children’s Spending

When we launched the Xbox Family Settings app last year, our goal was to make it easy for parents and caregivers to manage their children’s gaming while on-the-go. The app is available for free on iOS and Android, and empowers parents to create child accounts, update screen time limits, respond to notifications, manage who their children can play and communicate with and much more – all from their phone. It’s a simple way to find the right balance of gaming in your family’s life and ensure there’s time for school, homework, sports, and time spent with friends.

One of the top pieces of feedback we’ve received from parents about the Xbox Family Settings app is to include options to track and manage kids’ spending. Feedback has ranged from “I’d like to add money to my child’s account as a reward for good grades on their report card. Can I do this from the app?” to “I want to give my kid an allowance to spend money on games through the app,” and “How do I manage how much money my son can spend while he’s gaming? I don’t want any surprises!”

We’ve heard your feedback and today, we’re excited to announce multiple new features for the app which will help you manage your child’s spending:

  • Set spending limits: Parents can manage their children’s spending by adding money to their account directly from the app – you decide how much is approved for your child to spend. The funds you decide to add to your child’s account can apply to any purchase, including games, in-game purchases like skins, and apps.

This feature is also a great way to reward your child. For example, if they complete their weekly chores, you can add money to their account as a weekly allowance. Or add money to their account if they did especially well on a recent math test. Whatever the reason, use this feature to make sure your child stays within budget and to prevent any surprise spending.

3. Spending Add Money
  • Ask to Buy Turn this feature ‘on’ to receive a notification each time your child wants to make a purchase that they don’t have sufficient funds for. Parents can then make the purchase on their child’s behalf (if it’s a game or app), or add money to their account for an in-game purchase, like a new skin or an accessory. And if you don’t want to approve the purchase, simply select the “deny” button on the notification you receive. 
2. Spending History
  • View your child’s account balance: Interested in how much money your child has left in their account? At any time, you can review your child’s balance and decide if you’d like to add additional funds to their account.
1. Spending Summary

Parents can also view their child’s spending history to keep track of their recent purchases.

We know it’s important to parents to track and manage their children’s spending when they game to avoid any unexpected surprises or bills. With these new features, parents are empowered to customize their family’s access to spending money in games or in the Microsoft Store to fit what’s right for them. For information about preventing unauthorized purchases on Xbox, visit our support page.

We will continue to add new features to the app that parents want. For example, in May, we added the ability to approve multiplayer access – where you can play and communicate with other gamers – by specific title, directly from your console or in the Xbox Family Settings app. If your child wants to play a specific game in multiplayer mode, they can send a request to unblock multiplayer for that game, which parents can approve or decline.

Family Settings Multiplayer

Download the Xbox Family Settings app today for free for iOS and Android to jump in and easily manage gaming for your family!

For more information about the Xbox Family Settings app, visit Xbox.com/family-app. Download the app to easily manage your child’s console gaming activities.

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This post originally posted here Xbox Wire

Several Austin City Council members concerned about spending on homelessness services

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Austin City Council could vote as soon as Thursday to direct millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief funds to homelessness services. But several council members expressed concerns about the path forward and the city’s current spending on programs.

City of Austin staff has recommended that the city council direct 58% of funds the city will receive from the American Rescue Plan – nearly $ 84 million – to homelessness services over the next two years.

“I’m pretty sure my neighbors next door, who have direct access to me, don’t know what this means or what this contains,” Council Member Leslie Pool said during a special called meeting on Monday.

City of Austin staff recommendation for American Rescue Plan funds

The funds would be used to fill part of the $ 293 million funding gap for a plan to house 3,000 people experiencing homelessness in the next three years.

Council Members Pool, Natasha Harper-Madison, Kathie Tovo, Mackenzie Kelly, and Alison Alter, each said they need more details about how the federal funds will be used before moving forward.

“I need to be able to communicate to my constituents exactly what we’re investing in, what we’re getting, and how it’s different from what we’ve done thus far,” Alter said. “I’m not convinced by the model that I’m better off spending that money in the homeless system versus what I would call prevention.”

Kelly has called for an audit of city spending on homelessness services for the previous five years – a position shared by Save Austin Now, the group that successfully pushed Proposition B to reinstate the public camping ban.

But Kelly – often on an island within the council for her conservative positions – wasn’t alone in wanting evidence of which homelessness programs are working.

“I’ve spoken with community members and stakeholders and they, like I do, remain skeptical on the spending without a better understanding of how effective previous spending has been,” Kelly said.

Mayor Steve Adler described the federal funds as “transformational,” urging council members to act swiftly to approve some of the city’s allotment for homelessness programs. Council Member Ann Kitchen shared Adler’s position, warning that some council members appeared to be “bogged down” in the details.

“I think that on Thursday we have an opportunity to send a high-level message,” Adler said. “Our constituents are asking, why haven’t you acted?”

Leaders with Central Texas Interfaith – a non-partisan coalition of religious congregations – are also pushing the city council to act.

Jonathan McManus-Dail, the assistant priest at St. Julien of Norwich Episcopal Church, said the city should use available federal funds to make an immediate impact.

“I think many people, myself included, want more urgency around this issue because we see people suffering,” McManus-Dail told KXAN.

Austin has been criticized for not prioritizing permanent supportive housing efforts in the past. Homelessness advocates say the need for urgency has only intensified since the passage of Proposition B.

Eric Tars, legal director for the National Homelessness Law Center, said council members should be solely focused on creating more permanent supportive housing units.

“There’s been blue-ribbon panel after blue-ribbon panel that says Austin needs more affordable housing,” Tars said. “And yet, does it get built? No.”

Author: John Engel
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Britons can enjoy 'bargain' holidays spending just '£15 a day' at UK seaside hotspot

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Alternatively, those after a taste of adventure can become one with the sea, by taking up a surfing lesson.

The seaside town is also known for its sparkling Blackpool Illuminations, which light up the main road’s of the area as night falls.

This is complete with the iconic Blackpool Tower, which is a much-loved feature of the resort’s skyline.

When it comes to accommodation, there are also plenty of options for families, couples and groups of friends looking to getaway.

House defunds Texas Enterprise Fund, caps Attorney General spending in ongoing debate of the $246 billion state budget

Author Cassandra Pollock
This post originally appeared on The Texas Tribune: Main Feed

Mario Kart Tour Surpasses 200 Million Downloads And $200 Million In Player Spending

Author
This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

Mario Kart Tour

Mario Kart Tour continues to be a huge success for Nintendo, surpassing two major milestones in its quest to become one of the world’s highest-earning mobile racers.

According to new data from Sensor Tower, the title has now surpassed 200 million downloads worldwide and has accumulated more than $ 200 million in player spending. Over the past year (1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021), the game was Nintendo’s second highest-earning mobile release; Fire Emblem Heroes beat it with $ 163.4 million in that time, compared to Mario Kart Tour’s $ 92.7 million.

Of course, the game had a cracking start right from the off, generating a whopping 20 million downloads on launch day and more than 100 million after its first month. Things have been a little more steady since then, but its continued success means that Mario Kart Tour was the fourth highest-earning mobile racing game over the past year, only being beaten by KartRider Rush+, Tencent’s QQ Speed, and CSR Racing 2.

It’s easy to see how the app has generated the income it has – players can opt into a regular $ 4.99 per month subscription to the game’s Gold Pass for additional in-game content, and optional packs have cost eye-watering amounts of money over the game’s lifetime.

Do you play Mario Kart Tour? Are you subscribed to the monthly Gold Pass? Let us know in the usual place.

Biden administration spending $60 million per week to shelter unaccompanied minors

The Biden administration appears to be spending at least $ 60 million per week to care for the more than 16,000 migrant teenagers and children in shelters operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, and those costs are expected to rise significantly over the coming months, according to an analysis of government data obtained by The Washington Post.

With a record number[1] of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border in the past several weeks, HHS quickly filled the 7,700 available beds in its network of permanent shelters, where the cost of caring for a child is about $ 290 daily and capacity has been reduced by COVID-19 protocols.

The administration has raced[2] to set up at least 10 large emergency facilities, creating 16,000 temporary beds for migrant children in convention centers, at converted oil worker camps and on military bases. About 8,500 children are living at these pop-up sites, and 4,000 more are waiting to be transferred from cramped border facilities.

The cost of these emergency sites is more than two and a half times higher than the more permanent shelters “due to the need to develop facilities quickly and hire significant staff over a short period of time,” said Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesperson for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families. He said the average daily cost per child is “approximately $ 775 per day based on past experience.”

Reporters have repeatedly asked the Biden administration for cost data associated with the emergency shelters, aside from the $ 775 figure. Officials have not provided a breakdown by location or indicated whether there are financial savings associated with the use of military bases, for instance, in comparison with other sites.

Teens and children are spending an average of 31 days in HHS custody before they are released to a vetted family member already in the United States or to an eligible sponsor, according to the most recent HHS data, so the government is spending about $ 24,000 for each minor held at the temporary facilities. That doesn’t include time spent in a Border Patrol facility.

The government projects that by September, about 22,000 to 26,000 unaccompanied minors will arrive each month and require HHS care, further stretching spending levels. Biden officials say they do not plan to ask Congress for supplemental funding to cover the costs of the emergency sites.

During a historic influx of migrant family groups in 2019, the Trump administration got Congress to approve[3] a $ 4.6 billion supplemental funding bill, money that was used in part to expand shelter capacity and improve care for migrants in government custody.

Last month, the Administration for Children and Families received $ 47.5 billion in funding through the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill approved by Congress. The HHS secretary has authority to reprogram discretionary spending for the unaccompanied minors program, affording the agency a significant cushion for shelter costs that could run into the billions of dollars this year.

With assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency[4], HHS has opened or announced plans to open at least 10 emergency sites in California and Texas in recent weeks. Thousands of migrant teens are now housed at convention centers in Dallas, San Antonio and San Diego; others are sleeping in church shelters in Houston, tent facilities in South Texas and modular housing near oil drilling sites outside San Antonio and Midland.

The largest temporary shelter announced to date is at Fort Bliss — an Army post in El Paso — which will have as many as 5,000 beds.

The facilities are overseen by HHS but generally operated through contracts with nonprofit groups and faith-based organizations. Among the most significant costs are staffing and insurance, officials say. The Biden administration has struggled to staff the sites quickly, and has circulated several appeals within the Department of Homeland Security for volunteers to help care for minors alongside the Red Cross, HHS medical personnel and others.

The search for volunteers among federal employees has expanded outside DHS and HHS. On Thursday, employees at the Federal Trade Commission received an all-staff email seeking candidates willing to help at shelters along the border with Mexico. “Employees will be working 12-hour shifts and may be required to walk long distances along steep, rugged terrain and respond quickly to life-threatening situations,” read the internal FTC email, which was obtained by The Post.

While the HHS network of smaller, more permanent shelters is generally licensed by state inspectors, the temporary sites are unlicensed. But the agency says the conditions they provide are equal to the standards at licensed facilities.

The temporary shelters are widely considered a significant improvement over the cramped border tents[5] where minors are initially held by CBP after they cross the border. Images of those facilities have appeared in recent weeks showing teens and children sleeping shoulder to shoulder on floor mats, and lawyers say many have complained of going days without being able to shower.

The $ 60 million per week HHS spending estimate does not include the costs of the tent sites. The largest, in Donna, costs about $ 16 million per month, according to CBP officials. The agency opened an additional tent facility near Eagle Pass this month and is considering establishing another processing site in Arizona to ease overcrowding at border stations there.

The temporary shelters run by HHS[6] typically offer educational and recreational programming as well as medical services and opportunities for minors to communicate with their families. The Biden administration says it is trying to streamline the vetting process for sponsors so that minors with parents and immediate relatives in the United States can be released faster.

“HHS is committed to ensuring all unaccompanied children referred to our custody are cared for appropriately,” Wolfe said. “To do so, we make every effort to ensure funds are used as effectively as possible to provide safe shelter and adequate services and that costs are contained to the degree possible.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said he was “deeply troubled” by reports that Biden officials are trying to expedite the vetting process.

“Since 2015, my bipartisan oversight has shown, over two administrations, that federal agencies must do a better job of ensuring the safety and security of these vulnerable children,” Portman said in a statement. “The U.S. federal government should not repeat the mistakes of prior administrations and hand these vulnerable children off to traffickers or other abusive situations, and there must be accountability to ensure the government can keep track of the children as they make their way through the legal system.”

The number of unaccompanied minors crossing into the United States began rising last fall, then skyrocketed after Biden took office and his administration announced that it would not use a Trump-era public health order to return the unaccompanied teens and children to their home countries. Last month, border authorities took 18,890 minors into custody, up from 5,858 in January.

March was the busiest month along the U.S.-Mexico border in nearly two decades, and U.S. authorities took 172,331 migrants into custody, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics released Thursday[7] that provide a stark measure of the challenges facing the Biden administration.

The increase last month has no recent comparison and was so large that it did not fit on the y-axis of the CBP chart that tracks changes in monthly enforcement data. CBP recorded 78,442 arrests and detentions in January, and the nearly 100,000 raw increase since then has been the busiest two-month span in 20 years.

The fastest-growing group was members of family units: 52,904 were taken into custody in March, up from 19,246 in February. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced an $ 87 million contract to house migrant families in hotel rooms along the border while they are processed and typically released with a pending court date.

About a third of the migrant family members who arrived at the border in March were expelled to Mexico under the health order, known as Title 42, according to the CBP data. There have been increasing reports in recent weeks of parents separating from their children and sending them across the border alone.

References

  1. ^ record number (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ administration has raced (www.washingtonpost.com)
  3. ^ approve (www.washingtonpost.com)
  4. ^ Federal Emergency Management Agency (www.washingtonpost.com)
  5. ^ cramped border tents (www.washingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ temporary shelters run by HHS (www.washingtonpost.com)
  7. ^ statistics released Thursday (www.washingtonpost.com)

Nick Miroff, The Washington Post

Royal travel: Prince Charles 'the most travelled' royal spending more than £2 million

Flying around the world is just part of the job for Royal Family[1] members, who frequently jet off to represent the UK. However, all of this travel[2] comes with an added price tag which, for some royals, is in the millions.
Experts from private jet firm Stratos Jets have complied the “Royal Travel Index” to determine which royal travels the most.

Using information from the 92 official international trips taken by Royal family members between 2015 and 2020, the experts discovered they had spent a whopping £6.5 million spanning 545,161 air miles.

However, of the royals, it was Prince Charles[3] who was found to have travelled the most.

Spanning a total of 120,213 air miles over 25 trips, the Prince of Wales spent £2,468,501 on travel.

READ MORE: Expert predicts countries opening to UK tourists ‘before end of May’[4]

In fourth and fifth place were the Duke of Sussex and Duke of Cambridge respectively.

Through Prince Harry[5] embarked on fewer official trips than his older brother, he spanned more air miles.

According to the data Prince Harry spanned 51,362 air miles over seven trips. This resulted in a total cost of £442,900.

Prince William[6], meanwhile, covered 48,496 air miles during 10 official trips. His total cost for travel is an estimated £477,054.

Official visits abroad are covered, in part, by money from the British taxpayer.

The royals also use the Privy Purse and the Queen’s personal wealth to supplement travel and upkeep.

Private trips, including vacations, are not paid for from this budget.

Though the cost of travel expenses is revealed in an annual bill, any personal trips are not included in the public report.

According to the 2020 Sovereign Grant accounts, around £69.4 million was spent on official duties.

This includes travel, alongside other costs such as property maintenance and staff.

Increasingly, though, younger members of the royal family are looking at new ways to keep costs down.

This includes opting to travel on commercial flights, something which Prince William and Kate have been photographed doing in recent years.

References

  1. ^ Royal Family (www.express.co.uk)
  2. ^ travel (www.express.co.uk)
  3. ^ Prince Charles (www.express.co.uk)
  4. ^ Expert predicts countries opening to UK tourists ‘before end of May’ (www.express.co.uk)
  5. ^ Prince Harry (www.express.co.uk)
  6. ^ Prince William (www.express.co.uk)

S&P 500 crosses 4,000 for the first time after Biden unveils $2.25 trillion spending plan for infrastructure

Technology shares, led by chipmakers, have seen major gains as investors’ sentiment lifted on strong optimism about US economic growth, along with a buoyant earnings outlook by US computer chip maker Micron.

The S&P 500, which tracks the stock performances of 500 large companies listed on stock exchanges in the US, jumped 0.8% to cross the 4,000 mark for the first time, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.25% to 33,062.

Meanwhile, broad market index also set an all-time intraday high as the Nasdaq rose 1.74%.Seven of the eleven S&P sectors grew, with technology and communication services gaining more than 1.5%.
Also on rt.com Boom Bust explores what Biden’s $ 2 TRILLION infrastructure plan is all about
Stocks reportedly jumped after US President Joe Biden announced a massive infrastructure spending plan totaling $ 2.25 trillion. The proposal comes as the first of a two-part program to help the nation’s economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan includes a doubling of federal funding for public transportation, $ 650 billion for clean water and high-speed broadband, more than $ 500 billion in spending on manufacturing, and $ 400 billion for improved care for the elderly and people with disabilities.
Also on rt.com Global banks bracing for losses amid US hedge fund collapse
The forthcoming report on the US jobs market, which is expected to reveal that massive fiscal stimulus and vaccination drive is helping the labor market to recover, also boosted sentiment, as investors shrug off the latest data from last week, about the rise in the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits.  

Micron Technology has turned up the heat after gaining 4.8% on a better-than-expected forecast for third-quarter revenues amid higher demand for memory chips.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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UN raises global economic growth outlook on increased US consumer spending

Global economic growth will accelerate faster than expected this year, according to renewed data announced by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

UNCTAD expects the global economy to grow by 4.7% in 2021 compared to the previously forecast 4.3%.

“The global recovery that began in the third quarter of 2020 is expected to continue through 2021, albeit with a good deal of unevenness and unpredictability, reflecting epidemiological, policy and coordination uncertainties,” the report titled, ‘Out of the frying pan… into the fire?’ reads.
Also on rt.com Fitch upgrades China’s growth rate due to strong export recovery & global demand
The upwards revision from its previous outlook that was made in September is based on a projected increase in US consumer spending attributed to the latest progress in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. The agency also cites the vast stimulus package recently adopted by the US government as one of the factors.

According to the report, the long-lasting impact of Covid-19 will require continued government support. The UN highlights that a “misguided return to austerity” poses a major risk to global economic prosperity.
Also on rt.com One third of all countries worldwide COMPLETELY closed to international tourism – UN
Worldwide lockdowns tied to the coronavirus pandemic brought on a 3.9% drop in output, the agency’s estimates show.

The organization also said that the economic consequences of Covid are exorbitant, while the destruction of income is on an unprecedented scale with people in developing countries particularly hard hit.

Earlier, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also published an upwards projection, raising the expected economic growth this year from 4.2% to 5.6%.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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