Letters: Tories quick to drop Lib Dem green ideas

Under Liberal Democrat energy secretaries, Chis Huhne and then Ed Davey, that promise was largely kept, with a massive increase in renewable energy (more than doubled capacity; better than any previous government), plus measures to support energy efficiency, including the Green Deal.

Now we have a Tory government, only three months old, it is clear that they are going in the opposite direction. The withdrawal of much of the support for renewables and the scrapping of the Green Deal, recently announced, show they were serious when they referred to environmental measures as “green crap”.

Their excuse for cancelling the Green Deal just does not wash, since it is largely self financing and was just beginning to take off. Could the hidden agenda be to make inevitable the need to frack for gas? Fracking leads to the escape and release into the atmosphere of large amounts of methane, which is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2.

The Conservatives, freed from Lib Dem influence, have gone into reverse over the environment just when the NOAA, the US federal agency, has announced that 2014 was the hottest year ever, that the last 12 months was the hottest 12-month period ever, that this June, by a massive margin, was the hottest ever and that sea level rise has increased from an average of 1mm per year for the last century to a current average of 3.7mm per annum.

Tony Somers
London SW5

 

The Department of Energy and Climate Change says it is withdrawing support for the Green Deal household energy saving scheme because of low take-up. I am in no doubt that the country is littered with exhausted applicants defeated by the bureaucratic and deliberately obscurantist approach designed by the department.

I started in mid March and so far have passed the first hurdle. After that, there have been no responses from four out of six companies recommended by the department; and of the two that responded once, one did not reply again, while the second opined that “it would not be in my financial interest”. I am still trying to fathom that one, since no one talked to me and no one visited my flat to give an estimate for the work.

I am left with the feeling that we have been conned and that it would be much simpler to arrange our own estimates, funding, and timing of the work. How foolish to have believed a government actually wanted to help!

Sandra Pruski
Exeter

 

Corbyn or no, Labour is in the wilderness

Andrew Grice (25 July) and others are right to say that a Labour Party in Jeremy Corbyn’s mould would not be electable. But this does not mean that New Labour Mark 2, would be.

The world has changed since their heyday. The Tories are not an exhausted political force. We are in a period of bust, not boom. Food banks and pay-day loan companies proliferate. Investment banks and industrial-scale tax avoidance are part of the problem, not the solution. Political spin is held in contempt.

Blairite policy is an empty vessel. They bang the drum about being nice to business, but what would they actually do? Cosying up to Murdoch and light-touch regulation are no longer options. They have voted against the use of tax credits to encourage work over welfare.

Where do they now stand on education and skills development? How would they help the self-employed and small businesses grow? Would productivity be helped by profit-sharing and workers on company boards?

On these and many other issues the silence is absolutely deafening.

Labour will spend many years in the wilderness because it is a thought-free zone, not because of Jeremy Corbyn.

Christopher Sterling
Harpenden, Hertfordshire

 

As someone who has been active in the Labour Party for the past five years and has always voted Labour, I feel that this leadership campaign has uncovered a very unpleasant side to the Labour Party.

Insults are being exchanged and in their desire to block Jeremy Corbyn it looks as though some of those in the party would be prepared to jettison any democratic principles. No wonder that many, including me, are ready to vote for Jeremy.

The impression given in the past few weeks is that people with socialist principles are no longer welcome in the party. Why is it, I wonder, that Labour can “move” to a centre or more right-wing position, but can only “lurch” to the left?

Jill Osman
Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire

 

I would be surprised if Jeremy Corbyn agreed with Leslie Thompson (letter, 25 July) that his policies were “more akin to Attlee, Bevin, Bevan and Cripps”.

In February 1947 Attlee and Bevin decided in complete secrecy to make the British atom bomb. In 1948 Cripps introduced his notorious austerity budget. Aneurin Bevan was a pragmatist and got the NHS going by stuffing the mouths of the hospital consultants  with gold and leaving the GPs unnationalised as  independent practitioners. He also became a vociferous opponent of unilateral nuclear disarmament, epitomised by his “going into the conference chamber naked” speech at the Labour Party conference in October 1957.

The biggest similarity of these great Labour party figures with Corbyn is that like him, they were all longstanding professional politicians; Cripps and Attlee had been ministers in Ramsay MacDonald governments and Ernest Bevin founded the TGW Union  in 1922.

Hugh Pennington
Aberdeen

 

Osborne targets care of the old

If surgeons can now give a patient a bionic eye to improve vision, can someone suggest a similar procedure for our Chancellor to help him see more clearly the repercussions his spending cuts are going to have on the care of older and vulnerable people?

Mr Osborne is looking for £20bn of cuts, with only health, schools, defence and overseas aid protected. It seems local authorities will again bear the brunt of those cuts, and with social care not ring-fenced, it is inevitable that a sector already cut back to the bone thanks to £3.5bn in cuts since 2010, will suffer heavily again.

Can’t the Chancellor see that cutting the care people have in their own home and in care homes will ultimately result in more costly admissions to NHS hospitals and bed-blocking?

Can he also not see that it is madness not to protect the care of older, frail adults as he swings his axe in Whitehall, as it will cost the country much more in the long run and significantly dent his deficit reduction plans?

Mike Padgham
Chair, Independent Care Group, Scarborough North Yorkshire

 

Isis, enemies of human creativity

I went to the Royal Academy today to see the Summer Exhibition, and I was moved and awed by the brilliance and beauty on display. As I looked at the crowds in there I had the sudden, certain realisation that Isis are doomed to fail.

People have an innate need and desire to be moved by creativity, be it in art, music, dance, theatre, architecture, fancy footwork on the football pitch, or working out how to take pictures of Pluto. It is this above all else which makes us human beings. Isis want a world without creativity: they are denying their basic humanity, and as such they can have no future.

They hate – or should I say envy? – our freedom to be creative, in our thoughts and in our self-expression, and they have the fervent zeal you only ever see in people desperately trying to suppress doubt.

They want to wipe out creativity in the human species. They will not succeed.

Helen Clutton
Dorchester

 

Bribery to be legalised

Your depressing report “Justice for sale: Big companies could soon escape prosecution for corporate corruption by paying their way out” (25 July) reveals that executives in large companies accused of employing bribery to secure a contract can avoid justice by means of a further act of bribery: this time of the Serious Fraud Office. However, this will make life easier for an enriched SFO and dodgy companies, so that’s all good.

As has been previously observed, British justice is the best that money can buy.

Eddie Dougall
Walsham le Willows, Suffolk

 

Speaker on a bicycle?

MPs’ expenses again. Surely not! For the price of a couple of Mr Speaker’s trips the taxpayer could fund a decent folding bicycle, which could be folded for trips beyond London by train.  Since I bought mine in 2000 I have used neither tube nor taxi to get about London, but waited at the other end for those that did, who usually left before me.

Jonathan Devereux
St Albans, Hertfordshire

8 Personal Finance Categories to Keep You Focused on the Bigger Picture

If youre anything like me, you hear advertisements about financial products frequently (as I am writing this, a commercial for a bank just came on). I hear ads for everything from banks, to investment products, to retirement accounts, and on and on. Every ad is for something different and its hard to keep track of it all.

Ive found that putting subjects into financial categories helps me to understand personal finance more fully, and it also helps me decide which area to focus on and how to set better finance goals.

To help you see the bigger picture, consider these eight categories of personal finance.

1. Money Management

The money management category of personal finance is where you plan what to do with your money. Money management includes budgeting, estate planning, and insurance. Its where you think about your money and make choices according to your values, vision, and goals for your financial life. Money management includes frugal living and all things on a budget – its about managing the money you have.

If you dont do any planning, then your money management may be in need of a revamp. Your money isnt going to work itself – you have to tell it how to work. How you manage your money is often more important than how much money you make.

2. Income Streams

An income stream is money that you receive from any source. It could be from work or a side hustle, it could be from an investment, or it could be from your ex-husband who pays you alimony every month. Any income that you receive is considered an income stream. The more income streams you have, the better. This is because you rely less on each stream for every additional stream. If you only have one income stream and something happens to it (like if youre laid off without another source of income), youre in a worse situation than if you have multiple income streams.

There are three types of income: active income (earned from work; think trading time for money), portfolio income (from investments); and passive income (money generated from assets you own, like a rental property).

Any income that you receive is your monthly cash flow. Its what you use to accomplish everything you want to do in the month (including saving, spending, and paying off debt). Side hustling, as its known in the blogosphere, is a way to increase your income by adding additional income streams in order to diversify your income and enable you to do more with your money (get out of debt, for example).

3. Work

Its hard to forget about this category! What you do for your day job is your work category. This is your career, where most people spend their time in exchange for money. While this category is the most obvious, I want to point out that if you go to work for X amount of hours and are paid X amount of dollars in return for your time, then you are trading your time for money. This isnt bad but it is worth pointing out because you may not have thought about your work this way before. Your work is where you get your active income, and it is the type of income that is taxed the highest. Its hard to become wealthy solely from active income for two reasons: 1) its taxed at the highest rate, and 2) there are only so many hours in the day for you to work (you can work and work and work, but if you have to be there to make the money, theres a cap on your income because time is limited). This is why the wealthiest people usually are not wealthy from active income.

Thinking about your career as separate from your income streams is helpful because it allows you to see how you can create income in other ways and is a fresh reminder that more than one income stream is good.

4. Debt

Debt is its own category of personal finance (and most people wont argue with that). You will have a hard time building wealth if you stay in debt – especially consumer debt, in my opinion. Debt can be a tool to propel opportunities (who could really buy a home outright besides Dave Ramsey? Honestly.) But buying a home with debt (your mortgage) will actually not make you wealthy at all initially – it just will give you the opportunity to be a homeowner. Remember this distinction. Dont get caught up in good debt and bad debt. Regardless of the type of debt you have, you have to repay it. Thats what you need to remember. If you can focus on eliminating debt, you will set yourself up for financial success.

5. Savings

Most people dont save money. They just dont. Instead, they live paycheck to paycheck and have nothing to show for it. You can live that way, or you can be better than that – and I think youre worth it!

Im talking about cash money. Money in the bank. Not investments. Not money to build wealth (number 6 below). Im talking about saving money for a particular goal. One such goal should be an emergency fund. This rainy day fund will be your safe harbor when something goes wrong and you need it (not if – when). After that, you can save for anything your little heart desires. Getting in the habit of actually saving money ahead of time instead of charging it to your credit card is a fantastic habit for you to consider. It will enable you to stay out of trouble.

6. Wealth Building

Wealth building is different than saving money. The purpose of wealth building is to increase your net worth.

Building wealth isnt actually that hard in terms of technicalities – you dont need to be a pro to build wealth (and you should read Ramit Sethis I Will Teach You To Be Rich because he explains it perfectly by discussing asset classes in his book). The hard part about building wealth isnt the technical side (you dont need to know about the market, stocks, bonds, and everything in between). The hard part about building wealth is that you need to get your shit together first. You need to have your money under control. If you can get out of debt, save an emergency fund and save for other things you want, then you can get to wealth building. The problem is that people tend to stay stuck in the land of debt and savings where wealth building isnt even on their radar.

7. People (Relationships and Money)

You probably wouldnt think of people as a subcategory of personal finance per se. But you would certainly agree that you have opinions about money, and your relationships have a money component. So the people category is twofold: 1) its your money blueprint (how you learned about money growing up) and 2) its how you relate to others when it comes to money.

Money is a reflection of you. If your money is a mess then you are a mess, too. Ive yet to meet someone who had money problems without underlying personal issues. If you have internal issues that are unresolved, they may be affecting your money and without resolving them, you wont have a chance at fixing the money problem.

Second to your personal money blueprint is how you relate to others when it comes to money. If money is a cause of stress with your partner, then that is a problem. If you rely on your parents for money as an adult, then that is a problem – youre acting like a child. Your relationships that have money in them are part of this category and should always be considered when youre looking at the bigger picture.

8. Material Things
Suze Orman always says people first, then money, then things. This category is the things in her quote. Things meaning standard of living. Its your standard of living that will greatly affect your ability to build wealth. Even if you are wildly successful, with multiple income streams, you still need to successfully manage the money you have, which means that you cannot blow it. Think of the celebrities who blow their money and claim bankruptcy after being rich. If your standard of living is very high, keep in mind how hard it is going to be for you to be wealthy. Instead of going for everything, make thoughtful choices, where you intentionally choose what is important for you and leave the rest behind. This is everything from your house, apartment, vehicle, vacations, clothes, electronics – any and everything that you spend on your standard of living falls into this financial category. Keep in mind that if you have a really hard time keeping your standard of living in check, you may have deeper issues going on that you should consider sorting out instead of focusing solely on the money.A Final Note!

Looking at these eight personal finance categories are meant to help you understand personal finance more broadly. After you compartmentalize the different areas of personal finance, you can learn to focus on the separate areas, set financial goals, and move forward with financial success.

This post originally appeared here.

Millennials pass the savings test

It isnt always easy to save for retirement, repay student loans and manage other financial priorities when youre just starting out. But a recent survey finds that when the circumstances are right namely, when a steady well-paying job is in hand 20-somethings are making the right choices.

The survey, by mutual fund company T. Rowe Price, found that 27 percent of millennials (ages 18 to 33) ranked contributing to a 401(k) plan at work as a top goal, while 28 percent said paying down debt was a priority.

To get people to save early is so important, and its encouraging that millennials are both paying down debt and saving, said Anne Coveney, senior manager of retirement thought leadership at T. Rowe Price.

Certain factors make it easier for millennials to act financially responsible.

In the survey, the median income of millennials was $57,000, which meant young workers could afford to save and pay down debt. They also were employed at their jobs for an average of five years, providing stability.

Automatic enrollment in a 401(k) plan also helped, as well as the opportunity to receive an employer match on contributions.

According to the survey, of the millennials who were automatically enrolled in their 401(k), 79 percent were satisfied that they were enrolled. With automatic enrollment, you dont have to sign up to participate in your companys retirement plan.

Contributions are deducted automatically from your paycheck (though you can elect to stop making contributions at any time).

And among millennials who decided how much to contribute to a 401(k), more than half saved enough to take advantage of the full employer match.

Young people are pretty aware of the match, and thats a good thing, Coveney said.

Of course, knowing that you should save and being able to save are two different things.

The T. Rowe study also surveyed millennials who were eligible for a 401(k) plan but did not participate. Among those workers, the median salary was a considerably lower about $28,000. Of those with student loan debt, they also had bigger balances, typically $22,000, compared with a median of $16,000 for millennials who were contributing to a 401(k).

I think what were seeing is that millennials are acting according to their circumstances, Coveney said. But when they do have the chance to save, they are saving.

To help maximize your savings potential, consider these steps:

bull; Set a budget: According to the T. Rowe study, 75 percent of millennials track their expenses carefully and 67 percent stick to a budget. Knowing where your money goes can help make the most of whatever income you do have.

bull; Start saving early: Even if you cant afford to contribute up to the full company match, saving even a small portion of your salary say, 1 percent or 2 percent is a good start.

bull; Remember to increase contributions: If you cannot afford to contribute to a 401(k) plan right now, dont forget to begin saving once your circumstances change. Eliminating debt or getting a pay raise are good opportunities to bump up your savings.

Many people in their 20s already know to do this. Nearly two-thirds of millennials say they would increase their 401(k) contributions if they got a raise, and 56 percent say they would do so if they paid down debt.

I think we are seeing that millennials have the right attitude and know that they need to save, Coveney said. They are showing a lot of promise.

Commission Rejects Cordova Pay Day Loan Business, Spars Over Tax Collections

Shelby County Commissioners approved Monday, July 27, renaming the Shelby County Courthouse at Learn more about 140 Adams Ave

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Watch Service>140 Adams Ave. in honor of the late Circuit Court Judge and civil rights activist DArmy Bailey.

The 11-0 vote, with commissioner Learn more about David Reaves

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Watch Service>David Reaves abstaining, will include two new signs at the southeast and southwest entrances to the courthouse that county government will make in house.

On a short agenda, the commission spent most of its time debating and ultimately defeating a second consideration of allowing a pay day loan business on the southeast corner of Macon Road and Houston Levee Road in Cordova.

The business got the necessary permits to open two years ago even though pay day loan businesses have been forbidden for six years by county zone regulations from locating within a thousand feet of homes or apartments. The Cash Now business in the retail center is within that distance.

The commission had turned down the attempt to grandfather in the business earlier this year when no commissioner would second the item. It came back to the commission because of the lack of notice on the item but it returned with much more debate about whether the owner, Terri Mansker, should have to move because county code enforcement officials didnt do their jobs.

It was defeated on a 5-6 vote.

The commission also voted down a $629,189 contract for office supplies for county government from Staples Advantage.

The contract had been delayed at the July 6 commission session.

Only commission chairman Learn more about Justin Ford

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Watch Service>Justin Ford voted for the contract at Mondays session.

The contract debate segued into a commission discussion of the $22 million in extra county tax revenue Trustee Learn more about David Lenoir

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Watch Service>David Lenoir reported last week he collected for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

County chief administrative officer Learn more about Harvey Kennedy

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Watch Service>Harvey Kennedy said it is a further indication that the countys financial standing is really in good shape.

Perhaps we can get a little more aggressive in the future, he added, referring to the administrations projection of $6 million in surplus funding in the county budget season for the current fiscal year that began July 1.

But several commissioners faulted the administration of Shelby County Mayor Learn more about Mark Luttrell

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Watch Service>Mark Luttrell for being too conservative in its projections of the surplus.

Commissioners Learn more about Terry Roland

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Watch Service>Terry Roland and Learn more about Heidi Shafer

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Watch Service>Heidi Shafer said they questioned whether Luttrell knew the surplus was going to be more.

They as well as commissioner Mark Billingsley favored a cut in the county property tax rate of at least one cent but didnt have enough votes.

Shafer said push back from Luttrell to a tax rollback was tremendous and unprecedented.

This is not good news for taxpayers, she added. This is a slap in the face to taxpayers.

Roland said the county property tax rate of $4.37 remains too high and is not competitive with neighboring counties.

There was a lot of bloodshed over this budget, Billingsley added, in a reference to the commissions debate about how best to spend the $6 millions surplus. When we are operating in the dark, we tend to eat our own.

Meanwhile, the commission delayed action on a resolution backing the citys plan to move the statue of Nathan Bedford Forest out of Health Sciences Park as well as a special use permit for a heavy equipment rental company already located at Learn more about 4708 Benjestown Road

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Watch Service>4708 Benjestown Road.

Samp;R Rigging is located in an agricultural conservation area with its owners found in violation of the zoning earlier. Yet the business has continued to operate since the county citation.

Credit scores poor in the heart of the city

The higher the score the less of a credit risk is the consumer to a lender.

The national average VedaScore is 760. Residents of inner Sydney have a score of 722 on average. Melbourne city has a score of 724.

That makes inner Sydney equal 6th worst region in NSW and Melbourne city the equal third-worst area in Victoria.

Only one area, Manningham East in Victoria has what Veda considers an excellent rating of 834 and the highest score nationally.

Ku-ring-gai in NSW is number two with a score of 823 followed by Burnside in South Australia with a score of 822, considered by Veda as very good scores.

While there is no surprise that some of the most disadvantaged areas of both cities features among those with the lowest scores, the inclusion of both inner areas was not expected.

If is often thought that it is those in their 30s and 40s with young families who are under financial pressure are likely to have lower credit scores.

A spokesperson for Veda, Belinda Diprose,says onaverage, across all areas, Australians have good credit scores but there are some areas where people are struggling more than others and have a higher risk.

She says theworst regions have young families,in their 30s and 40s,who are juggling many expenses, such as childcare, education and the daily cost of living.

Diprosesays Veda research has shown that young families arefeeling the pressure with 17 per cent at risk of financial trouble in the next 12 months. About 11 per cent of those in their20s and early 30s and ofbaby boomers are at risk of financial trouble in the next 12 months.

The shift to comprehensive credit reporting from March last year means that much more data is now beingcollected on consumers.

Monthly payment histories on loans andcreditcards can be shown on credit reports as well as any missed payments of more than 14 days noted.

Before March,creditreports, whichcreditagencies provide to lenders when they check on applicants, held only limited information.

A VedaScore of 200 means the person has 50 per cent chance of having an adverse credit event within the next 12 months. A score of 621 to 510 under is considered average. And a score of 509 and under is below average and puts those with this score in the bottom 20 per cent of Vedas credit active population.

According to research by Veda from 2014, 78 per cent of Australians have never checked their credit report history and have no idea what is on their credit profile.

Creditagencies are required to make available to consumers a free copy of theircreditreports at least once a year.

@jcollett_money

Caesars Falls 50% on Court Ruling That May Spur Bankruptcy – Bloomberg Business

While Caesars’ main operating unit, which filed for bankruptcy in January, is shielded through an automatic stay of most litigation, the parent is not, Goldgar said.

“The company lost a negotiating chip,” Erik Gordon, a law professor at the University of Michigan’s business school, said. “They will try to chug forward with a plan. That’s going to be a very rough road full of potholes because so far they’ve not been able to get the creditors together.”

The creditors have accused Las Vegas-based Caesars of saddling the bankrupt unit with too much debt and too few assets, while the company’s private-equity owners, including Apollo Global Management and TPG Capital, seek to retain control of the more valuable parts of the company.

Shares Plunge

Caesars shares fell 41 percent to $4.76 in New York trading Wednesday, after plunging as much as 59 percent. The stock is down 70 percent this year.

Wednesday’s ruling may give creditors including Appaloosa Management, Oaktree Capital Group, Tennenbaum Capital Partners and Centerbridge Partners more leverage in talks on a reorganization plan.

Those funds, which hold more than $1 billion in the company’s so-called second-lien debt, have been Caesars’ main opponents in the bankruptcy. Second-lien bonds jumped after the ruling.

Caesars has been trying to persuade investors holding more than 50 percent of the second-lien debt to sign a restructuring agreement that would pay them less than they are owed while still leaving Apollo and TPG with ownership stakes.

Should more than 50 percent of the second-liens agree, they might try to order the trustee behind the most threatening lawsuit in New York to drop the case, Julia Winters, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said.

Hard Task

Getting there, however, may be very difficult using Caesars’ current offer, which is known as a restructuring support agreement, said Winters, a former bankruptcy lawyer.

“I think the current RSA construct won’t woo the seconds with incremental improvements, now that they see $12 billion in guarantee claims on the horizon,” Winters said.

That means Caesars’ owners will need to trade more of their equity to creditors in exchange for eliminating debt, she said.

It may be time for Apollo and TPG to drop their aggressive tactics, Gordon said.

“They’re not going to come away with as much as they keep pushing for,” he said. “They keep getting slapped down.”

In at least four lawsuits, creditors or a trustee representing them allege that the parent company is obligated to guarantee notes issued by the bankrupt Caesars Entertainment Operating Co., which is trying to eliminate about half its debt of almost $20 billion.

Bankruptcy Threat

If the creditors prevail in one of the cases, Caesars might be compelled to cover the unit’s debts. There wouldn’t be enough money to pay a multibillion-dollar judgment and the company might be forced into bankruptcy, a financial adviser for the operating company has testified.

The operating unit argued that temporarily halting the lawsuits would permit it to keep negotiating with creditors in hopes of winning enough support for a plan that would allow it to exit Chapter 11.

Goldgar denied the operating unit’s request, citing a list of legal precedents that he said argued against extending any protection to the parent.

The lawsuits attack restructuring actions Caesars took in the years before the operating unit’s bankruptcy, including transferring assets and stripping noteholders of guarantees that the parent would repay the unit’s debts.

Creditors claim those actions were designed to protect the private-equity owners, Apollo and TPG.

Leon Black

Apollo, run by billionaire Leon Black, along with TPG and co-investors put up $4.4 billion of equity for Caesars’ buyout, which was struck before the credit crisis unfolded in 2008.

In 2013, Apollo and TPG injected at least $600 million in Caesars Growth Partners LLC, a group of casinos spun out of the company that year.

In some of the lawsuits, lower-priority creditors accused company officials of intentionally creating a “good Caesars” with valuable assets and lower debt and a “bad Caesars” that would be put into bankruptcy, where debts can be wiped out.

Caesars denies the allegations, arguing that its actions were legal and necessary.

The company and the creditors will now focus on a lawsuit in Manhattan that is in the most advanced stages.

In a preliminary ruling, US District Judge Shira Scheindlin has already said Caesars’ creditors can seek a quicker-than-normal decision on whether the company violated federal law.

‘Strong’ Defenses

“We believe our defenses in the New York litigation are strong, and will continue to contest those cases vigorously,” Stephen Cohen, a company spokesman, said. “The bankruptcy court’s ruling was a technical interpretation of bankruptcy law and did not address in any way the merits of the New York litigation.”

Caesars has tried for months to persuade various groups of senior and junior creditors to sign a restructuring support agreement that would allow Apollo and TPG to retain a stake in the operating unit and permanently halt the lawsuits.

In most bankruptcy cases, company owners can’t retain any equity until they repay all debt in full. Caesars is pushing to be among the rare exceptions to that rule.

Almost all of the lowest-ranking creditors, who hold unsecured debt that’s not backed by any collateral, have rejected the offer.

First-lien bondholders and other higher-ranked creditors are divided. A majority of the senior bondholders signed the restructuring support agreement, while other creditors have so far refused.

Non-Signers

A majority of Caesars’ most senior lenders, investors who hold $2.8 billion out of $5.4 billion in guaranteed bank debt, plus junior-ranked creditors, haven’t signed the agreement, according to court filings.

The operating unit’s largest second-lien bond, $3.6 billion of 10 percent notes due in 2018, climbed 4.5 cents to 32.8 cents on the dollar at 3:44 pm in New York, according to Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Some second-lien bondholders who also are major shareholders in Caesars have agreed to the restructuring proposal. Caesars reached an agreement Monday with a group that includes Paulson amp; Co., Canyon Partners and Soros Fund Management, who are among the top 10 shareholders. They saw the value of their shares plunge Wednesday while the value of their bonds rose.

The bankruptcy is In re Caesars Entertainment Operating Co., 15-bk-01145, US Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

Corpus Christi pay day loan companies may face stricter rules

CORPUS CHRISTI –

City officials are voting in favor of regulating pay day loan companies.

They say its far too easy for people to fall victim to high interest rates.

The city is hoping new regulations will not only make loan companies more transparent, but also help people from finding themselves facing more debt.

These types of loans are very prevalent in Corpus Christi.

The city reports more than 47,000 people in Corpus Christi got a cash advance on their paycheck last year, which resulted in over 29 million dollars in fees.

The interest rates for these companies can be 500% or higher.

One of the key parts of the citys initiative is that those loans could not be more than 20% of the customers monthly income.

When it comes to auto title loans, the amount may not exceed either three percent of the customers annual income or 70% of the cars value.

This is just the first reading. The city is expected to take a second vote next month, and it wouldnt go into effect until the fall.

Patterson-UTI Energy Reports Financial Results for Three and Six Months Ended …

HOUSTON, July 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — PATTERSON-UTI ENERGY, INC. (NASDAQ: PTEN) today reported financial results for the three and six months ended June 30, 2015. The Company reported a net loss of $19.0 million, or $0.13 per share, for the second quarter of 2015, compared to net income of $54.3 million, or $0.37 per share, for the quarter ended June 30, 2014. Revenues for the second quarter of 2015 were $473 million, compared to $757 million for the second quarter of 2014.

For the six months ended June 30, 2015 the Company reported a net loss of $9.9 million, or $0.07 per share, compared to net income of $89.1 million, or $0.61 per share, for the six months ended June 30, 2014. Revenues for the six months ended June 30, 2015, were $1.1 billion, compared to $1.4 billion for the same period in 2014.

Andy Hendricks, Patterson-UTIs Chief Executive Officer, stated, Market conditions were difficult during the second quarter as the rapid decline in the industry rig count created many challenges. We managed through these challenges with a focus on scaling our business and reducing our cost structure. I am pleased with our ongoing cost cutting efforts in contract drilling, and especially within our pressure pumping segment where cost reductions resulted in better than expected margins.

Mr. Hendricks added, During the second quarter, our rig count averaged 122 rigs in the United States and two rigs in Canada, compared to the first quarter average of 165 rigs in the United States and eight in Canada. The rig count appears to be stabilizing in the United States, and as such we expect our average rig count in July will be consistent with our second quarter exit rate of 110 rigs in the United States. In Canada, we expect our average rig count in July will increase to three rigs, which represents a limited seasonal recovery.

We recognized $15.6 million of revenues related to early contract terminations in contract drilling during the second quarter. These early termination revenues positively impacted our total average rig revenue per day of $25,720 by $1,390. Excluding early termination revenue, total average rig revenue per day during the second quarter would have been $24,330, compared to $24,850 per day in the first quarter.

Total average rig operating costs per day during the second quarter were essentially flat at $13,720 compared to the first quarter. Excluding the positive impact from early termination revenues in both the first and second quarters, total average rig margin per day was $10,600 during the second quarter, compared to $11,140 during the first quarter.

We completed seven new APEX rigs during the second quarter, bringing our APEX rig fleet to 158 rigs at the end of the quarter. We plan to complete three additional APEX rigs in the second half of 2015, all of which are under contract.

As of June 30, 2015, we had term contracts for drilling rigs providing for approximately $1.0 billion of future dayrate drilling revenue. Based on contracts currently in place, we expect an average of 85 rigs operating under term contracts during the third quarter, and an average of 77 rigs operating under term contracts during the second half of 2015.

In pressure pumping, during the second quarter we realized the benefit of our efforts to reduce input costs. Pressure pumping EBITDA was $29.5 million compared to $31.9 million in the first quarter, but was better than expected as lower input costs largely offset reduced pricing and utilization. As a percentage of revenues, pressure pumping EBITDA margins increased to 16.7% from 12.8% in the first quarter, he concluded.

Mark S. Siegel, Chairman of Patterson-UTI, stated, I am pleased with the promptness by which we responded to the downturn in our industry, the effort put forth to reduce our cost structure, and the degree by which we were able to scale our business for the lower level of activity in both drilling and pressure pumping.

Although we have no visibility into a recovery at this time, we believe that our rig count appears to be stabilizing. We will remain vigilant in ensuring that our cost structure and business are appropriately scaled. Financially, we believe our strong balance sheet and expected cash flow position us to take advantage of future opportunities, he concluded.

The financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2015 include a pretax non-cash impairment charge of $4.1 million related to the impairment of certain oil and natural gas properties. For the six months ended June 30, 2015, financial results include the aforementioned charge plus a $3.4 million pretax non-cash charge in the first quarter related to the impairment of certain oil and natural gas properties, and a $12.3 million charge in the first quarter, which is included in selling, general and administrative expenses and is related to a previously disclosed legal settlement.

The Company declared a quarterly dividend on its common stock of $0.10 per share, to be paid on September 24, 2015 to holders of record as of September 10, 2015.

All references to net income per share in this press release are diluted earnings per common share as defined within Accounting Standards Codification Topic 260.

The Companys quarterly conference call to discuss the operating results for the quarter ended June 30, 2015 is scheduled for today, July 23, 2015 at 9:00 am Central Time. The dial-in information for participants is 866-372-0638 (Domestic) and 678-509-7533 (International). The Conference ID for both numbers is 44091420. The call is also being webcast and can be accessed through the Investor Relations section at www.patenergy.com. A replay of the conference call will be on the Companys website for two weeks. A telephonic replay will be available through July 27, 2015 at 855-859-2056 (Domestic) and 404-537-3406 (International) with the Conference ID 44091420.

About Patterson-UTI

Patterson-UTI Energy, Inc. subsidiaries provide onshore contract drilling and pressure pumping services to exploration and production companies in North America. Patterson-UTI Drilling Company LLC and its subsidiaries operate land-based drilling rigs in oil and natural gas producing regions of the continental United States and western Canada. Universal Pressure Pumping, Inc. and Universal Well Services, Inc. provide pressure pumping services primarily in Texas and the Appalachian region.

Location information about the Companys drilling rigs and their individual inventories is available through the Companys website at www.patenergy.com.

Statements made in this press release which state the Companys or managements intentions, beliefs, expectations or predictions for the future are forward-looking statements. It is important to note that actual results could differ materially from those discussed in such forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include, but are not limited to, volatility in customer spending and in oil and natural gas prices, which could adversely affect demand for our services and their associated effect on rates, utilization, margins and planned capital expenditures; global economic conditions; excess availability of land drilling rigs and pressure pumping equipment, including as a result of reactivation or construction; equipment specialization and new technologies; adverse industry conditions; adverse credit and equity market conditions; difficulty in building and deploying new equipment; difficulty in integrating acquisitions; shortages, delays in delivery and interruptions of supply of equipment, supplies and materials; weather; loss of, or reduction in business with, key customers; liabilities from operations; ability to effectively identify and enter new markets; governmental regulation; ability to realize backlog; and ability to retain management and field personnel. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements is contained from time to time in the Companys SEC filings, which may be obtained by contacting the Company or the SEC. These filings are also available through the Companys web site at http://www.patenergy.com or through the SECs Electronic Data Gathering and Analysis Retrieval System (EDGAR) at http://www.sec.gov. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement.

Credit and Debt Habits: Cities Where People Are in the Best Financial Shape

Americans are in debt, and a lot of it. The average American has $26,246 in non-mortgage debt, including $3,804 in credit card debt, according to May 2015 data from Experian, a credit reporting agency.

Across the country, average credit card debt from city to city can vary over $2,500. Similar differences are found across other financial indicators, too — from spending and mortgages to consumer debt, such as student and car loans  — demonstrating how credit and debt differ significantly in the US

But where exactly do Americans stand out in terms of their finances? NerdWallet looked at credit scores, mortgages and other data on debt and spending to identify the cities where people are in the best financial shape.

Check out NerdWallet’s tools to help you pay off credit card debt and find the right cards to rebuild your credit.

Key takeaways

Expensive cities strain finances. Americans living in places such as Miami and Los Angeles struggle to keep their debt and spending low, probably due to the higher cost of living. In Los Angeles, 61% of homeowners’ median household income goes toward their mortgage and other housing costs, making it more difficult to stay in good financial shape.

Trouble in the South. “Unfortunately Southern cities tend to have lower [credit] scores than Northern cities, particularly the Midwest,” says Rod Griffin, Experian’s director of public education. In our study, cities in the South make up 65% of the bottom 20 because of low credit scores and higher levels of consumer debt as a percentage of income.

Midwest keeps finances in check. Many Midwest cities took the top spots on our list — likely due to strong economies paired with lower costs of living. The median homeowner in Sioux City, Iowa, spends 28% of household income on a mortgage and other housing costs, and when compared with other Americans, is far less likely to have more than one loan on a home.

Beyond credit score

Having a high credit score is valuable, since it can help you save thousands of dollars in interest payments. But Experian’s Griffin warns against becoming fixated on your score, suggesting consumers “focus instead on the credit report itself … if you take care of your credit report, all of your scores will take care of themselves.”

Indeed, the purpose of a credit score is to assess the risk — not your financial health — that a creditor takes when loaning money to you.

This means it’s important to take a holistic approach, looking at factors in addition to your credit score to gauge financial health. In our study, we considered the bigger picture because the proportion of your income that goes to your mortgage, housing costs and other debts has a big impact on your budget, savings and financial stress. But these factors have no direct impact on your credit score.

The first step to build better credit is to find out where you stand. Check out NerdWallet’s advice on obtaining your free credit report.

Where people are in the best (and worst) financial shape

Scroll through the table below to see the data for all 265 cities in this study.