Category Archives: Business

The Georgeous Things of Free in Your Country

From mineral water to water slides, things that are free in some countries often cost in others, sometimes much to the surprise of travellers venturing out of their homeland.

To find out what bargains can be had abroad, we looked to question-and-answer community to ask, “What are some things free in your country that you have to buy when visiting other countries?” The answers not only revealed good deals, but a fascinating insight into the local culture.

Northern India and Pakistan
Pretty much every grocery shop in this part of the world offers a free and generous side of fresh coriander and green chillies, common local ingredients in curries and chutneys.

“In most of northern India… dhaniya-mirch (coriander and chillies) is synonymous with groceries,” said Khusrau Gurganvi from Varanasi. So much so that he explained that “Kal dhaniya-mirch lana hai” translates into “I need to buy groceries tomorrow.”

An anonymous answerer echoed the perk within Pakistan. “Whenever you go to buy vegetables, the shopkeeper will give you a handful of free coriander and green chilli,” the person said. “If they don’t, then all you have to do is ask.”

Not every free thing mentioned was a physical object. It seems that in India, people enjoy an unlimited supply of advice.

“In other countries, there are wedding planners. Here, we have aunts, uncles, uncle’s uncles to give us advice for free,” said Mehul Manot from Calcutta. “In other countries, there are counsellors. Here, we have the ever-poking neighbours: ‘You shouldn’t take up Arts, it’s for girls. Do engineering, you’ll earn lakhs per month.'”

He added that travel agents are replaced by jet-setting cousins, and trendy friends step in for fashion consultants.

Advice doesn’t always have to come from just friends and family, either.

“In other countries, you need to pay for consultations, but in India you can get it free of cost at tea stalls, [during] marriages or family functions, [on] trains, buses by almost anyone,” said Kanchan Saxena, who currently lives in the United States. “We love giving advice.”

United States
Fast food may have originated in the US, but the free condiments that generously accompany meals haven’t always translated to their counterparts overseas.

American Jon Baldwin experienced this first hand when visiting a McDonald’s drive-through in the United Kingdom and noticed his bag of food was conspicuously missing the typical sauce packets.

“Excuse me, you forgot the ketchup,” he told the server. “Instead of reaching for ketchup packets, she starts typing away on the cash register: 50p.”

To make matters worse, the 50p went toward just a single ketchup packet. “In the US, not only do they not charge for ketchup, they hand you like 10 packets when you ask. Literally a fist full of ketchup.

Dave Holmes-Kinsella vouched for the fact that his American wife “was driven into fits of rage by the capricious condiment tax” in his native New Zealand, especially since salt and sugar sides come free.

A different kind of condiment is given away in abundance in this small nation.

“We have unlimited, free access to chilli sauce in any fast food restaurant and any food court,” said native Joseph Lee. “We literally eat anything and everything with chilli sauce, from the iconic chicken rice to McDonald’s hamburgers.”

In fact, McDonald’s even makes a “garlic chilli sauce” that’s exclusive to the heat-loving Singapore market.

To accompany Australia’s great outdoors, the country offers plenty of free things to enjoy outside.

“Many public parks and national parks have free barbeque hot plates,” said Christopher Mardell from Adelaide. “You bring meat and whatever else you want to cook, push a button to start it up and away you go. After 20 minutes or so, they turn off automatically, so you push the button again.” All visitors have to do is keep it clean, and Mardell said most people follow this etiquette.

In the Northern Territory, residents can enjoy a unique respite from the heat.

“As the waters are croc infested, residents can cool down by using free water slides,” said Jane M, originally from England. Leanyer Recreation Park in Darwin is just one example, with three large water slides (including a 124m-long raft ride) and a water playground and pool – all completely free.

Who is the next Acer CEO

Stan Shih, co-founder of Taiwanese PC-maker Acer, on Wednesday said the current President and CEO Jason Chen would take the position of chairman from June 2017.

“Jason would be best candidate to take over the company and be the next leader of Acer,” said Shih, also a major shareholder of the Taiwanese company. “I hope Jason could perceive Acer as his own company and not take the position only as a job or simply be just another professional executive.”

In Taiwan, a chairman, rather than the chief executive, is the most powerful person in a company. Chen, formerly senior vice-president of worldwide sales and marketing at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest contract chipmaker, joined Acer at the beginning of 2014 and managed to turn around the embattled company in less than a year.

Acer Co-founder Stan Shih said the company’s current CEO Jason Chen is the best candidate to take over as chairman (Photo by Cheng Ting-Fang)

Before 2014, Acer suffered heavy losses for three years, losing as much as 20.5 billion New Taiwan dollars ($647 million) in 2013. Shih’s predecessor, the company’s former Chairmain and Chief Executive J.T. Wang, resigned in late 2013 following the worst-ever loss in the company’s history.

Once an industry leader, Acer had been hit hard by a severe slump in the global PC market, and its failure to keep pace with the rise of mobile technology in recent years.

For the second quarter ended June, Acer shipped 4.41 million PC units, trailing Lenovo Group, HP, Dell, Asustek Computer and Apple Inc., according to research company Gartner. Overall PC shipments are expected to decline 7.3% in 2016, according to another research company IDC.

For the first half of 2016, Acer reported that net profit more than doubled to NT$585 million from a year ago. But revenue fell 12.2% to NT$112.47 billion, due to strong headwinds in the PC business.

After news of Chen’s appointment, market observers speculated that Shih would eventually choose his elder son Maverick Shih, current head of Acer’s new business of cloud services and smart devices, to take over his computing empire.

Shih, however, said his son is not yet qualified enough to even sit on the board.

“Maverick has no privilege in the company and he’s still got whole a lot to learn before I would hand my seat on Acer’s board to him some day in the future,” said Shih.

What is the greatest information about Britain in their bussiness

In a blunt statement Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the U.K. couldn’t pick and choose what it liked about the EU once it has left.

Brits voted to leave the European Union in a referendum in June, but the government has since failed to reveal any details about how it plans to reshape relations with its most important trading partner.

“There can be no ‘a la carte’ access to the single market,” Juncker said in his annual state of the union speech.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will aim for “the best possible deal for the United Kingdom” in Brexit talks with the EU, without saying what that means.

The all important U.K. financial services sector is pushing for full access to Europe’s free trade area, the world’s largest. And many foreign companies operating in the U.K. have said losing access could force them to move people and operations out of the country.

But many pro-Brexit politicians in the U.K. have insisted that migration from the EU must be more tightly controlled once the country has left the group. No other country has full access to EU markets without accepting free movement of EU citizens across its borders.

Juncker also urged May to get on with the formal process of Brexit by triggering Article 50 of the EU treaty.

“We would be happy if the request for Brexit could happen as quickly as possible so we could take the specific steps that need to be taken, and so that our relations with the U.K. — which must remain on a friendly basis — can take a new shape,” he said.

Related: Two months on, Brexit plan is still unclear

Juncker dismissed fears Brexit could start a chain reaction and lead to other countries leaving the European Union.

“We respect and regret the UK’s decision, but the EU as such is not at risk,” Juncker said.

The Commission president also touched on the rise in hate crimes in the U.K. in the aftermath of the June referendum. The National Police Chiefs’ Council in the U.K. said the number of reported hate crimes has increased by as much as 58% year-on-year in the wake of the Brexit vote.

“We Europeans can never accept Polish workers being harassed, beaten up or even murdered on the streets of Harlow,” Juncker said. “The free movement of workers is as much a common European value as our fight against discrimination and racism,” he added

You Should Know abaout Indonesia’s Indofood

Indofood Sukses Makmur’s instant noodle factory has begun operating in Serbia, paving the way for the Indonesian food giant’s expansion into Europe.

The 5 hectare factory is located 80km from Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, and was built at a cost of 11 million euros ($12.3 million), the Indonesian Embassy in Belgrade said in a recent Facebook post. The factory can turn out 500,000 boxes of Indofood’s flagship Indomie instant noodles per month, which will be distributed both domestically and in nearby countries in southeastern Europe, such as Bulgaria and Romania.

The factory is run by an affiliate of Indonesian conglomerate Salim Group, which controls Indofood and produces Indomie under a licensing agreement, according to local media reports. Indofood did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Indofood, one of the world’s largest makers of instant noodles, began setting up local production in emerging markets in the Middle East and Africa in the 1990s. The company’s efforts to penetrate such markets have accelerated in recent years as rising incomes at home prompts Indonesians to consume healthier products such as meat and milk.

Indofood began local production in Turkey in 2014 and plans to open a factory in Morocco to expand its northern African business. Anthoni Salim, Indofood’s CEO, said at a news conference in June that the company wants to boost its overseas sales from about 9% of the total in 2015 to as much as 30% over the long term

The Great Information of Make Money in This Lousy Market

There’s broad agreement that the stock market is pricey, the economic recovery is long in the tooth and central banks really can’t do much more to prop up growth.

Hardly anyone is predicting market Armageddon, but this is not the “get rich quick” era. The word on Wall Street is: Prepare for lousy stock and bond returns for years. That doesn’t mean you’ll lose money, but don’t expect to rake in the usual 7% to 8% return on stocks and 3.6% on bonds, according to investment firm Bernstein. Even private equity returns aren’t what they used to be.

So what do you do? This is the key debate today on Wall Street. It was the headline of the Jill on Money podcast Friday.

You have three main options in this environment. What you do comes down to how much risk you want to take.

“Any basic building block of a portfolio is going to give you lower returns” in the next fives years, says Seth Masters, chief investment officer at Bernstein. “To get high returns going forward, you have to take your risk level up.”

1. Stay put. Boring is good. It doesn’t sound sexy, but for a lot of people the best path forward in this era of lowly returns is to stay invested and make sure you’re diversified.

“This is a time to keep your portfolio boring, not exciting,” argues Kate Warne, chief investment strategist at Edward Jones.

Warne’s best advice is to rebalance soon. If you’re the type of person who hasn’t looked at your portfolio in years, it’s probably time to call your financial adviser or 401k provider (or login online) and make sure you actually have the right diversification.

Many younger investors have a portfolio that is roughly 80% stocks and 20% bonds. Investors in the middle or end of their careers are probably closer to 60% stocks and 40% bonds. The problem is the stock market had a huge run up from 2009 to 2014. That means a lot of people are holding way more in stocks than they realize. Don’t be caught off guard. Rebalance if you need to.

2. Think international. If you are comfortable with taking a bit more risk, look overseas. Yes, there are lot of crises in the world, but there’s also more opportunity to make money. Stocks in Europe and emerging markets look cheap, especially compared to U.S. stocks. There’s more upside potential.

Bob Baur, chief economist at Principal Global Investors, lays out the case for emerging markets: “So a stable dollar, the rebound in commodity prices, an expanding U.S. trade deficit, and an inactive Fed, all support growth in emerging economies. Stocks in Europe and Japan may continue to struggle, so we’d overweight U.S. and emerging market stocks in an equity portfolio.”

Warne favors Europe and developed market international funds. Despite the headwinds from Brexit, she notes that it could end up spurring Europe to finally make some necessary reforms that are better for business or even doing stimulus.

3. Reduce your fees. Companies use this tactic all the time. When they aren’t growing, they focus on cutting costs. That keeps their “bottom line” about the same. Investors can play a similar game by being rigorous about reducing fees.

There’s been an explosion of low cost mutual funds and index funds. It’s pushed almost all providers to lower their costs. Fidelity recently announced cheaper fees for 27 of its funds. Then there’s Robinhood, an app that offers no fee trading, a big savings from the $9.99 many brokers charge to buy and sell stocks.

Saving money on fees can really add up. If you’re not even sure what fees you are paying, a new website called FeeX will calculate it for you and make recommendations on how to reduce your fees.

“Typically, people tend to reduce their fees by about 85%,” says Yoav Zurel, co-founder and CEO of FeeX.