What Stands Behind Capital One Credit Cards and Savings Products?

In the times since the global financial crisis, it has increasingly become a concern as to what the backing of the financial institution that issues your credit card or holds your saving account is. There are a number of laws which regulate the financial system and try to ensure that customers can rely on banks to honour their obligations which can be a particular concern in relation to savings products. Title 12 of the United States Code in part 325 specifies a number of ‘capital adequacy requirements’ in relation to all banks. The aim of these requirements is to force banks to adequately provision of a crisis and ensure that they will remain solvent even if there is a large crisis. Banks must report periodically on their arrangements to show regulators that they are meeting the capital adequacy requirements.

Capital One at the moment is, when measured by asset pool, the 8th largest bank in the United States with balance sheet assets of approximately USD$286bn in 2012. Amongst other distinctions, the company is also one of the largest customers of the United States postal service. Its head office is in Fairfax County Virginia and the current chairman, CEO and President of the company is Richard Fairbank. It is one of the fastest growing banks in American history having been founded in 1988 by the current CEO. Like many banks in the American financial system, Capital One was the recipient of a bail out during the sub prime mortgage crisis of 2007 when it received $3.56bn from the United States Government in exchange for 3,555,199 shares in the company. By the end of 2009, the company had managed to buy the government out of the business.

As well as being involved in credit cards, Capital One has an Auto Finance Division which is a substantial part of the company. An entity known as Capital One 360 is also now in existence having formerly been known as ING Direct on the idea that a bank could perform retail services entirely on the basis of an online model. This division of the company has no branches and only maintains a physical presence in the form of call centres and online processing maintenance facilities. The online bank model seems to achieved some success given that the lower overheads from rent and staff result in lower costs to consumers and therefore a better outcome.

One of the notable characteristic of Capital One is that it appears to have retained an ability to ride out the periodic financial storms which emerge in the world of consumer credit. It has grown consistently throughout good and bad times in consumer finance and continues to grow based on the analysis of its most recent financial data. This history of growth and the ability to ride out financial storms appears to bode well for the credit and savings products of Capital One.

Gloucestershire – Destination for Investment in UK

Gloucestershire is a county situated in South West England. Gloucestershire is geographically divided into the Costwolds, Severn Vale and the Royal Forest of Dean. Gloucestershire County is known for its transportation links and scenic beauty and includes the city of Gloucestershire, Regency Cheltenham and the riverside Tewkesbury. Gloucestershire is considered a paradise for private enterprises, as 78 out of every 100 people employed in Gloucestershire work in a private sector wherein pharmaceuticals, food and technology, financial services, engineering, manufacturing and avionics feature strongly.

Economic Profile of Gloucestershire:

Most of businesses in Gloucestershire have small-scale employers, with approximately 72% of businesses in Gloucestershire employing only 1-4 people as of 2006.

Even though there are relatively fewer large firms (0.5%) employing over 200 people, they still manage to employ a considerable proportion (23%) of the county’s employees. Major industrial sectors are identified by their potential economic performance. The key sectors in Gloucestershire are as follows:

• Advanced Engineering
• Finance and Business Services
• Construction
• Care
• Distribution
• Environmental Technology
• Leisure and Tourism
• The Public Sector
• Manufacturing
• Food Supply
• Creative Industries
• ICT

The top 5 reasons for investing in the UK are as follows:

1. It has a strong and proven balanced economy and is a proven inward investment location.
2. It boasts of an abundant, experienced and skilled labor force.
3. It has a well-developed transportation network providing links for doing business not only in the UK but beyond.
4. It has an amazing quality of life.
5. It offers major development locations providing superb regeneration opportunities.

Key Sectors in Gloucestershire:

1. Creative Media:
The University of Gloucestershire has announced its plans to invest £40m within the Blackfriars area of Gloucester for developing a new campus for its art, media and communications facility.

Many other Gloucestershire institutions such as the Arts & Media Department of Gloucestershire College and the Media Academy at Cirencester College also provide attractive opportunities to nurture and develop talent and offer valuable training courses.

The following industries in Creative Media are well-represented in Gloucestershire:

• Design & Marketing
• Crafts (especially in the Stroud area)
• Film & Video
• Software & Computer Services.
• Art & Antique Markets (especially in the Cotswolds)
• Advertising
• Publishing

2. Environmental Technology:

For an investor looking to invest in environmental technology, Gloucestershire offers a magnificent investment opportunity. The county is an exciting place when it comes to doing business associated with nuclear, biomass, renewables and recycling. It also hosts prominent employers such as British Energy and BNFL Magnox.

General Growth Properties Inc – Take Over Target

General Growth Properties Inc used to be know as GGP; after filing for bankruptcy protection back in April 2009 the stock has been relisted OTC as a pink under the new ticker GGWPQ. If you read any of the discussion boards about this stock then you should already be familiar with the large group of lovers and haters of the stock. All I have been able to piece together from the message boards so far is that people who love this stock provide no evidence to suggest it should be valued higher and people who hate the stock just yammer on about the range that it has traded since filing for chapter 11.

After digging a little deeper, not that you need to dig much, you can find a few interesting facts.

o GGP has been in the shopping center business for over 50 years

o One of the Largest REITs in the USA

o Involved in buying, selling, developing, and managing real estate

Bankruptcy Restructuring

o To restructure finances and de-leverage balance sheet because collapse of credit markets made it impossible for GGP to refinance maturing debt.

o Bankruptcy Judge (Gropper) has been making beneficial decisions to allow GGWPQ to restructure providing lots of time to refinance the dept the way the company wants.

o Financial performance of the company has been very positive since filing for chapter 11.

I have been reading a number of blogs that post frequently about General Growth Properties Inc. Most are well versed in the company’s affairs, but there just seems to be something missing that no one has really been discussing. Alright, you caught me…I’m talking about potential takeovers whether hostile or voluntary. Who you might ask, would be interested in purchasing some of the best income producing properties the United States of America has to offer?

I’m sure a large list of companies and personal investors immediately pop into your head like they did mine. Let’s be somewhat realistic here and think of some real potential Takeover Tightens. Potential buyers will all have a number of required attributes:

o Deep pockets! Cash is King after all
o Highly Informed about Commercial Real Estate

When you think of companies or individuals that possess these attributes think again and then remember this: Real Estate Prices have tanked, especially in the USA and there is potential for another major drop in commercial real estate on the horizon.

So who’s got the goods? Look no further than some of the many Cash Flush REITs. According to CNN Money in June 2009 REITs have been raising cash to go on the offense to acquired distressed properties and distressed REITs are also targeted. Some of the well know names that are on the office include the following:

Boston Properties (BXP), Regency Centers (REG), Simon Property Group (SPG), and Vornado Realty Trust (VNO).

David Simon, CEO of Simon Property Group, was even quoted in a recent CNN Money article stating that “One big opportunity the gang at Simon is keeping an eye on is the portfolio of General Growth Properties.”

American REITs are not the only ones on the offensive though. Look to some of the larger Canadian Players, who have experience a tempered downturn compared to American rivals, to make some major acquisitions in the coming months.

The most notable cash raising I can find is that of Brookfield Properties Corporation and Brookfield Asset Management Inc (a Canadian Group) who on August 20, 2009 announced a $4 Billion Real Estate Turnaround Consortium. Bling Bling, according to the article this Mountain of Cash is dedicated to investing in under-performing real estate with a minimum of $500 million to be allocated to global purchases and the remainder, $3.5 Billion, available for North American Purchases!

Look out General Growth Properties, the vultures are here and ready to scoop up some of your assets. There are two scenarios I can see for General Growth, a fire sale of individual properties to the highest bidders, or a share buyout. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a total buyout is on the way, but there will likely be more than one bidder so I buy today. Bought at $2.82.

Consumers Need Protection From Payment Protection Insurance

A year after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) began investigating the widespread mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI), the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has, for the first time, fined a mortgage broker for selling the policies to customers who either did not need them, or on which they could not claim.

The FSA judged in the landmark case that many of those who were sold PPI policies would be likely to have their claims excluded due to pre-existing medical conditions, or already had cover in place from previous mortgages or life insurance. The FSA concluded that the Bournemouth based Regency, which specialises in selling “right-to-buy” mortgages to customers who usually find it difficult to obtain standard credit, did not make sufficient checks on its customers’ full circumstances in order to make a suitable sale. This meant that customers had been sold policies that would never be able pay out, regardless of future events, thus making them worthless as protection for the policy holders.

The OFT started their investigation following a ‘super complaint’ by the Citizens’ Advice into the PPI industry which a year ago had an estimated 20 million policies in force and was producing an annual revenue that was in excess of £5 billion. According to Citizens’ Advice Director of Policy, Teresa Perchard:

“People buy payment protection insurance because they are looking for peace of mind. Given the scale of borrowing in the UK and the amount of money consumers spend on PPI, it is vitally important that they get a product that gives them this and meets their needs at a fair price.”

Citizens’ Advice put forward the complaint believing the mis-selling of PPI was endemic throughout the finance industry, with policies being too expensive and often not providing appropriate cover to those most vulnerable. In its investigations, the FSA found that a third of the firms surveyed were indeed mis-selling this type of cover, prompting the OFT to launch its own formal investigation in April 2006.

100 Financing Investment Property

100 financing of investment properties refers to 100% financing from outside for your investment in real estate. Funds that are brought from one’s own savings, on loan from friends or relatives are in a way not much different from capital whereas real debt or Investment property financing comes from financial institutions. These entities – banks, mortgage firms and lending organizations like credit unions — lend funds to the applicant on the trust of a collateral security or based on the income, credit-worthiness and repayment capacity of the individual. Even if these criteria are satisfactory, an investment property financing institution may ask to be shown the business plan of how the applicant means to generate income using the pieces of property he or she means to buy and consequently pay off the loan or conclude the mortgage. The lender has the right to know how the business is going to be conducted because the revenues of this business determine how fast the loan is going to be repaid. With the turn in the economy, 100% financing investment property has almost been done away with.

100 financing investment property

In the United States, there are three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Transunion, that maintain records of the lines of credit extended to each individual and how they are being handled. The credit reports formulated by these bureaus reflect how many credit card accounts a person has, how many times he or she has defaulted in payment or gone over the credit limit; other forms of financing availed by the individual such as home mortgage, auto finance or student loans, are also listed. Lenders and creditors have access to these credit reports and use them to check if an applicant is worth the risk of being given a loan. The exact features that point to an applicant as being risky can be found out after a professional analysis of one’s credit report. A high Debt to Income ratio and loan to value ratio are some of the red-flags. These areas have to be improved so as not be saddled with an exorbitant rate of interest and terms that are not favorable to the borrower. Some unfavorable terms are floating interest rates that send the finance charges through the roof upon a single defaulted payment. To prevent this eventuality, it is better to choose a deal with a fixed (flat) interest rate or a low ceiling rate on the interest rate slab.

Lending fees, high interest rates, discount points (another form of lending fees paid upfront to prevent the interest from racing up) can actually break the bank. In fact, there are many cases in which discount points have been deceptive and one ends up paying more for them, than the actual interest (finance charges) that would have been paid if the interest rates did go up. To prevent such goof ups, it is a good idea to take estimates from two or three lending organizations, compare their offerings and then choose the one that appeals most to one.

The worst pitfall to guard against is when some lender tells you that you are eligible for 100% financing of investment property. Those idyllic days are over. In fact, they are past their sell by date because there were not so idyllic. There may be such plans available on subsidy from the government for the exclusive use of first time homeowners who belong to the low income group. But this does not include investment property dealers. Traditional methods of 100% financing are now called owner financing and are still available but they are not an attractive option. It is not surprising that requests for owner financing are viewed with suspicion of default by lenders and therefore, that avenue is best avoided.