Salesforce.com Unveils the Next Chapter in the Customer Service Revolution with Service Cloud 2 – Leading Market Momentum and New Defining Technologies, including the Industry’s First Knowledge-as-a-Service
Sep 9th, 2009 by TopDollar

Salesforce.com Unveils the Next Chapter in the Customer Service Revolution with Service Cloud 2 – Leading Market Momentum and New Defining Technologies, including the Industry’s First Knowledge-as-a-Service


8,000 companies have already standardized on the Service Cloud including Extra Space Storage, NJ TRANSIT and Plantronics

Product innovations include Salesforce Knowledge, the world’s first Knowledge-as-a-Service; Salesforce Answers, crowd-sourced community knowledge; and the general availability of Salesforce for Twitter

For the first time, companies can amaze their customers with an integrated customer service experience that leverages their own agents as well as real-time conversations happening throughout the cloud

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM), the enterprise cloud computing company, today announced the next chapter in the customer service revolution with Service Cloud 2. The Service Cloud, announced in January of this year, is the next generation solution for customer service – it exponentially increases the quality of service, while lowering the cost, by leveraging the expertise of the community. Since its introduction, the Service Cloud has led market momentum with 8,000 customers and received a number of industry accolades. The Service Cloud will also deliver entirely new product innovations for the customer service industry by introducing the world’s first knowledge base designed for cloud computing – Salesforce Knowledge; an entirely new way to look at customer communities and discussion forums – Salesforce Answers; and Salesforce for Twitter, which allows companies to monitor and join the customer service conversations taking place on Twitter. The customer service application market represents a major opportunity for salesforce.com, which according to IDC will be worth $4.2 billion by 2012(1).

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20050216/SFW105LOGO)

Service Cloud 2 – Customer Success and Market Momentum for the New Customer Service Standard

* Eight thousand companies, including Extra Space Storage, NJ TRANSIT and Plantronics, have standardized on the Service Cloud for their customer service operations – representing a 175% growth in business year over year.
* Companies using the Service Cloud have seen a 28% increase in customer satisfaction, 25% increase in call deflection, 30% increase in first call resolution, 37% rise in service and support productivity and a 26% increase in customer retention, according to a recent third party survey.
* Salesforce.com was placed in the leaders quadrant of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CRM Customer Service Support Contacts(2).
* Since January of 2009, the Service Cloud has won the 2009 TMCnet CRM Excellence Award, Network Products Guide 2009 Innovation Award, CRM Magazine Service Leader Rising Star Award, and the IP Contact Center Technology Pioneer Award for Best IP Contact Center Service. The Service Cloud was also named to KMWorld’s list of Top 100 Companies in knowledge management.

Salesforce Knowledge – The World’s First Knowledge-as-a-Service

A year after salesforce.com acquired Instranet, salesforce.com will offer the world’s first Knowledge-as-a-Service, the first ever multi-tenant knowledge base designed for cloud computing. The core Service Cloud knowledge base built on Force.com will deliver:

* Rapid Deployment: Companies will be able to deploy their knowledge base in a matter of days and extend the technology to mobile devices and public websites. Companies will be able to deploy Salesforce Knowledge without having to install and manage hardware or software.
* Immediate Results: Customer service agents will be able to find the right answer, the first time, ensuring that companies amaze and delight their customers with a truly integrated customer service experience.
* Google Accessible: Companies will be able to utilize the latest Force.com capabilities, including Force.com Sites, to expose knowledge articles out to the Internet so that customers can find information on the public Internet and through search engines such as Google.
* Simple Customizations: Users will be able to quickly and easily deploy changes and customizations to the knowledge base to fit a company’s dynamic and evolving needs.
* Automated Upgrades: Product enhancements will be automatically released three times a year. Customers will no longer have to worry whether their applications will continue to work with other hardware and software after an upgrade.
* Secure and Trusted: Companies will be able to leverage all the benefits of the proven security, reliability and scalability of salesforce.com’s trusted global infrastructure.

Salesforce Answers – Crowd-Sourced Knowledge

For years, customer service centers have been limited to knowledge articles produced by company employees, and have not benefited from the explosion of consumer wisdom that exists across the Web. Today, online communities and social websites hold a wealth of knowledge and facilitate conversations around uncommon problems, new product use cases, best practices and much more.

Utilizing the Service Cloud, Salesforce Answers will deliver a unique online experience that helps companies leverage the expertise in the cloud to bring the right answer to their customers. Salesforce Answers will enable companies to:

* Start the Conversation: Create a complete, customizable website that facilitates question/answer style conversations between customers. Encourage the community to ask, rate and answer questions and issues posted to the site.
* Crowd-Sourced Knowledge: Filter the appropriate knowledge created on Salesforce Answers directly into the Service Cloud’s knowledge base, ensuring that customers, agents and partners will all have access to the best knowledge available.
* Leverage Facebook: Companies will be able to set up a Salesforce Answers community directly on a Facebook company fan page, allowing the company to harness knowledge from the 250+ million Facebook members.
* Create Dynamic Customer Communities: In combination with Service Cloud features like Salesforce Ideas, companies will be able to create dynamic, interactive customer communities.

Salesforce for Twitter – Join Real-Time Conversations on Twitter

Twitter provides a free platform for users to answer the question “What are you doing?” in 140 characters or less and broadcast the answer to a broader community. These “tweets” can cover any topic area, including specific companies, brands and products. In today’s Web-driven world where there is an expectation of real-time interaction, Salesforce for Twitter and the Service Cloud give companies an easy way to join the real-time customer service conversations happening on Twitter by enabling them to:

* Search Twitter in Real-time: Search through the millions of tweets happening on Twitter every minute to find the most relevant customer service conversations.
* Monitor Service Issues on Twitter: After identifying an appropriate tweet, a company can capture and monitor a service conversation in the Service Cloud and track the conversation.
* Join Twitter Conversations: Salesforce for Twitter empowers enterprises to be active participants on Twitter by enabling them to engage in Twitter conversations, right from within the Service Cloud.
* Establish a Twitter Support Channel: Customers can tweet their customer service issues and instantly create a case within the Service Cloud. Once the case is created, companies can leverage internal business processes to route cases to the most effective service representatives.
* Deliver Real-time Knowledge: Salesforce for Twitter facilitates the delivery of expert knowledge back into the Twitter community by posting tweets directly from the Service Cloud’s knowledge base.

Comments on the News:

* “With Service Cloud 2, salesforce.com is doing for customer service what we did for sales: proving that the cloud is a better way. The customer service market is being held back by traditional technology. With two-thirds of customer service interactions moving to the cloud and the popularity of social networks, it is high time for a change. I am excited by the momentum we are seeing in the customer service market and believe it is the next billion-dollar opportunity for salesforce.com,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of salesforce.com.
* “We’ve seen more and more businesses use Twitter to make smart, meaningful and timely connections with their audience. We are excited to work with salesforce.com as they help businesses join the millions of conversations happening every minute on the web,” said Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter.
* “The Service Cloud’s knowledge base will give companies access to the best answers for a situation culled from Twitter’s 45 million users and Facebook’s 250 million users. The Service Cloud makes an important advance on social networking by helping enterprises harness the power of real-time conversations and crowd-sourced knowledge to benefit their companies,” said Denis Pombriant, Beagle Research.
* “Salesforce Knowledge and the Service Cloud will definitely help our company increase agent productivity and customer satisfaction, an incredible testament to the power of cloud computing,” said Kimberly Jansen, Misys Banking Systems.
* “Comcast-Spectacor is now a leader in leveraging cloud computing to enhance our relationships with the Flyers and 76ers season ticket holders because of salesforce.com. The Service Cloud and Salesforce for Twitter have enabled us to connect directly with our customers on Twitter and integrate these real-time conversations with our customer service strategy,” said Mark DiMaurizio, Comcast-Spectacor.

Pricing and Availability

* Salesforce Knowledge will be priced at $50 per agent, per month for salesforce.com customers and is currently scheduled to be available in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2010.
* Salesforce Answers is currently in pilot and is currently scheduled to be available in the first quarter of fiscal year 2011.
* Salesforce for Twitter is available today at no additional charge on the Force.com AppExchange for Professional, Enterprise and Unlimited Edition customers.

Supporting Resources

* For more information, please visit http://www.salesforce.com/servicecloud2
* Follow salesforce.com on Twitter @salesforcenews

About the Magic Quadrant

The Gartner Magic Quadrant is copyrighted 2009 by Gartner, Inc., and is reused with permission. The Magic Quadrant is a graphical representation of a marketplace at and for a specific time period. It depicts Gartner’s analysis of how certain vendors measure against criteria for that marketplace, as defined by Gartner. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in the Magic Quadrant, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors placed in the “Leaders” quadrant. The Magic Quadrant is intended solely as a research tool, and is not meant to be a specific guide to action. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

About salesforce.com

Salesforce.com is the enterprise cloud computing company. The company’s portfolio of Salesforce CRM applications, available athttp://www.salesforce.com/products/, has revolutionized the ways that companies collaborate and communicate with their customers across sales, marketing and service. The company’s Force.com platform http://www.salesforce.com/platform/) enables customers, partners and developers to quickly build powerful business applications to run every part of the enterprise in the cloud. Based on salesforce.com’s real-time, multi-tenant architecture, Salesforce CRM and Force.com offer the fastest path to customer success with cloud computing.

As of July 31, 2009, salesforce.com manages customer information for approximately 63,200 customers including Allianz Commercial, Dell, Dow Jones Newswires, Japan Post, Kaiser Permanente, KONE, and SunTrust Banks. Any unreleased services or features referenced in this or other press releases or public statements are not currently available and may not be delivered on time or at all. Customers who purchase salesforce.com applications should make their purchase decisions based upon features that are currently available. Salesforce.com has headquarters in San Francisco, with offices in Europe and Asia, and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “CRM”. For more information please visithttp://www.salesforce.com, or call 1-800-NO-SOFTWARE.

Copyright (c) 2009 salesforce.com, inc. All rights reserved. Salesforce and the “no software” logo are registered trademarks of salesforce.com, inc., and salesforce.com owns other registered and unregistered trademarks. Other names used herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

(1) from: “Worldwide CRM Apps Forecast 2008-2012.” Dec. 2008.

(2) Magic Quadrant for CRM Customer Service Contact Centers, by Michael Maoz, April 2009

SOURCE salesforce.com

Panama: Offering Enticing Incentives to Foreign Investors
Sep 9th, 2009 by TopDollar

Panama: Offering Enticing Incentives to Foreign Investors

The Panamanian government recently passed laws allowing Caribbean property to be titled and offers enticing incentives to foreign investors. Emerald Monkey Eco-Luxe Resort & Residences offers investors the opportunity to take full advantage of these incentives.

BOCAS DEL TORO, Panama, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ — A Panamanian resort that offers an eco-luxe sustainable lifestyle is attracting an affluent retirement market with a striking mix of luxurious amenities teamed with enticing government incentives for foreign investors. Emerald Monkey Eco-Luxe Resort & Residences is located in the lush tropical Archipelagos of Bocas del Toro and is privately owned and fully titled.

According to the CEO of Emerald Monkey Eco-Luxe Resort & Residences, Kimberly DeLape, “Interest in the development is soaring in light of new laws that protect investments in the Caribbean. The natural beauty of the tropics that surrounds our development, combined with easy access to the U.S., and so many financial incentives, makes Emerald Monkey one of the most sought-after destinations for retirement or second home choices.”

Currently under construction, The Emerald Monkey development is designed and marketed as an elegant and private lifestyle that is located in a “hurricane-free” zone of the Caribbean. Handcrafted island villas in the timeless Balinese tradition enhance an eco-luxe sustainable lifestyle and amenities for owners boast five-star standards. Villas start at the mid $500’s to over $2.5 Million. Fractional sales are available. Infrastructure is underway and the resort is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Energized by the expansion of the Panama Canal (a $5 billion project), the government of Panama requires no special authorizations, permits or prior registrations for foreign investors. Specific investment incentives include:

* No property tax for 20 years
* Panamanian residency available for buyers of homes costing $250,000 or more
* Foreign investors are protected from changes in tax, customs, municipal and labor rules for a period of 10 years

Additionally, Emerald Monkey Eco-Luxe Resort & Residences will be investigating the opportunity to provide our investors/owners with title insurance. Title insurance protects the investor and guarantees the investment on the land and the improvements upon the land should any claim be made on the land/property by a third party at any stage of the development.

Also, another exciting opportunity is the Pensionado Program outlined below:

* 10-50% discounts on many necessity and entertainment costs, including 50% off home closing costs
* Applicants must be over the age of 18 years old
* Have a residence in Panama
* Guaranteed pension income of $1,000/month (plus an additional amount per dependent)

Purchasing a whole or fractional ownership in Emerald Monkey Eco-Luxe Resort & Residences enables U.S. residents easy and quick access to their property. Panama has direct flights from New York, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Newark, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Orlando, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Madrid, Amsterdam and major cities in the Caribbean. Panama offers a sophisticated business district, high-speed Internet connections, an American-style infrastructure and the U.S. dollar as the legal tender.

Word of Panama’s newfound popularity is spreading throughout the media, according to DeLape. Conde Nast Traveler selected Panama as one of the six best places for a second home in the Americas and Panama also received the highest rating for tourist safety by prestigious Pinkerton Global Intelligence. Panama has also been featured as one of the world’s newest “hot spots” for investment options. While other publications such as Fortune and International Living magazines have also ranked Panama among the top five places for retirement, it is the colorful history and profound beauty that is attracting prospects to Emerald Monkey.

For additional information regarding Emerald Monkey Eco-Luxe Resort & Residences, please visit us at www.emeraldmonkey.com.

Be Cool to Be Successful in Raising Funds from Co-Workers
Sep 9th, 2009 by TopDollar

Be Cool to Be Successful in Raising Funds from Co-Workers

Survey finds that, if they can eat it or get a discount with it, they’ll buy it

TROY, Mich., Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ — A new survey on fundraising etiquette and effective techniques suggests that, if you want your officemates to buy more cookies and coupon books, cool it!

The July, 2009, survey, sponsored by Entertainment Publications (http://Entertainment.com), found that office workers who go cube to cube selling items or who try to raise funds for themselves will not be very successful. Those who take the casual approach, however, will win both friends and dollars.

“It’s clear from the results of our survey that fundraisers who leave products or catalogs out in common areas — like a company kitchen or break room — win more donors than those who ask office workers directly for their support,” said Amy King, vice president of marketing services for Entertainment Publications.

Among the survey respondents, 42 percent said they prefer to consider fundraising items that are left in a common area. Nearly a third (31 percent) indicated they disliked cube-to-cube sales, and 27 percent did not want to see a child coming to the office to raise funds.

The survey, conducted via Zoomerang among office workers age 25 or over, produced the following advice:


* Put fundraising materials in open spaces
* Post how the money raised will help the cause for which you are seeking support
* Accept both cash and checks for payment


* Expect co-workers to donate to help you lose weight or look/feel better
* Use high-pressure tactics, such as going cube to cube or bringing your child into the office
* Assume the majority of your co-workers will be purchasing items to support your fundraiser

The top-three fundraising items favored by respondents, cited by a total of 60 percent of respondents, were candy bars, cookies and coupon books. They said they liked to receive something in return for their donation, such as food or discount coupons, but they said they donated primarily because they wanted to do something “good” through monetary donations rather than through activities that placed demands on their personal time. Some 40 percent indicated they would rather help support a cause in this “hands-off” way.

Even though one-to-one “pressure” techniques seemed to fall flat among those surveyed, co-worker relationships motivated almost 25 percent of fundraising products that were purchased. The most popular motivator was the ability to help children, cited by 32 percent of respondents.

“People don’t like feeling pressured by fundraisers,” King remarked, “and sometimes they don’t buy a fundraising item simply because they don’t want it, they don’t have money with them or they don’t see the value in their donation. Fundraisers need to give co-workers time to discover the value in an item and ways that they could use it.”

Over the past 47 years, schools, religious groups and charitable organizations have discovered similar methods that work as they have sold Entertainment books containing highly prized discount coupons.

“Entertainment memberships, including access to coupons online at Entertainment.com, align perfectly with office-worker preferences,” King noted. “A sample book can be left in a common area for colleagues to browse and evaluate. The coupons found in the Entertainment book can help save consumers thousands of dollars a year while also helping community groups, schools and charities raise millions of dollars each year.”

To find an Entertainment book near you, contact your local schools or visit http://www.entertainment.com.

*Standard rules and restrictions apply to all listed offers. See your local Entertainment book for offer rules and conditions.

About Entertainment Publications, LLC

Entertainment Publications, LLC, http://www.entertainment.com, is the leading provider of the most recognized and sought-after customer discounts and promotions products in the communities Entertainment serves. Founded nearly 50 years ago in Detroit and originally available exclusively through fundraisers. Now consumers can purchase through fundraisers, directly or through retail partners and allocate a portion of the product sales to charity. The Entertainment membership book, online member sites like entertainment.com, Entertainment business network, Sally Foster(R) giftwrap and gift products and a line of cookie doughs and other gourmet edibles. Annually, Entertainment Publications generates over $6.5 billion in revenue for its over 53,000 local and national business partners representing 175,000 merchant locations throughout North America. Each year, the company raises more than $70 million for the charities it serves. Entertainment Publications is a privately held company, acquired in June 2008 by MH Equity Investors, a subsidiary of MHE Private Equity Fund, LLC.

Follow us on Twitter @Entbooksavings: http://ow.ly/iAD4

SOURCE Entertainment Publications, LLC

Gold Prices Topping $1,000/Oz, Add Up to a Major Business Increase at Cash for Gold USA
Sep 9th, 2009 by TopDollar

Gold Prices Topping $1,000/Oz, Add Up to a Major Business Increase at Cash for Gold USA

SHARON, Mass., Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ — Cash for Gold USA reported a big increase in business this week as a result of the major surge in the spot price for gold, silver and platinum. At mid-day today, gold exceeded $1,000/oz, its highest price since March, 2008. At the same time, silver reached a 13-month high as a weaker dollar and inflationary concerns increased the appeal of precious metals.

According to Norman Schneider, president, “Sellers have really reacted to this week’s unique opportunity to sell their broken and unwanted precious metal jewelry for top dollar. Our customer base has increased so fast lately that the Cash for Gold USA staff has been working overtime just to keep up with the incoming property.”

Schneider added, “Gold has only reached the $1,000 level three times since COMEX began keeping records. And by mid-morning today, the market was there again. This bodes well for both Cash for Gold USA and our customers.”

Cash for Gold USA is one of the nation’s premier buyers and refiners of precious metals. The company pays sellers the highest prices available anywhere and offers a 24-hour turnaround from receipt of a seller’s property to payment. Cash for Gold USA was recently named to the prestigious Inc 500 list of the best websites during 2009 by INC Magazine. The company also operates two analogous websites: Cash for Silver USA and Cash for Diamonds USA.

Schneider also stated, “We have always believed that the record gold prices throughout 2009 had not yet reached the top as the current recessionary economy and the value of our dollar are still uncertain and fluctuating. The current peak in prices proves that we were correct in this prediction. Right now, sellers have a unique opportunity to get the highest-possible cash payment so far this year for their unwanted gold, silver and platinum property. We anticipate that our business will continue to rise as long as financial markets remain uncertain.”

USAID Supports Top-Reformers in Newly Released Doing Business 2010 Report
Sep 9th, 2009 by TopDollar

USAID Supports Top-Reformers in Newly Released Doing Business 2010 Report

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On September 8th, 2009 the World Bank Group released Doing Business 2010: Reforming through Difficult Times. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is honored to have partnered with eight of the top-ten countries highlighted for reforms to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start and expand their businesses. USAID programs provided technical support to Rwanda, Kyrgyz Republic, Macedonia, Moldova, Colombia, Tajikistan, Egypt, and Liberia.

USAID partnered with the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to implement a dozen reforms over the past year to improve the business environment. This assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic improved its ranking from 90th in 2007 to 41st. Activities included the government’s 100 Days of Reform program that led to improvements in seven of the ten areas in the report. USAID assisted Tajikistan with reforms to streamline business registration, construction permits, and property registration as well as the introduction of a credit bureau, and improved investor protections and insolvency procedures.

USAID partnered with Colombia to reduce the time to start a business, increase consumer access to their credit histories, reduce the time required to import/export goods, and improve investor protections. Colombia improved its rank from 79th in 2007 to 37th and is now the top-performing country in Latin America. Since 2006, the time to register a business and export goods has been cut in half, and the time to obtain a construction license and register property reduced by two-thirds.

USAID partnered with Egypt on reforms that reduced the capital required for new business registrations, made it faster to obtain required construction permits, and created specialized commercial courts to reduce the time required to resolve disputes. These reforms build on a history of USAID assistance in Egypt that since 2006 have reduced the time to register a business from 34 days to 7, reduced the time to register property by more than a hundred days, and cut in half the time to export/import goods.

USAID partnered with Macedonia on streamlining the operations of a one-stop shop for business registration, introduction of time limits for property registration as well as a number of other reforms highlighted in the report. Since 2007, the business registration process has been cut from 18 days to 4, property registration from 98 days to 58, and the time to export from 32 days to 12.

USAID partnered with Moldova to simplify procedures for business registration. Time to register a business fell from 30 days to 10 days from 2007 to 2010.

USAID partnered with Liberia in improving the customs clearance processes at the port in Monrovia through the establishment of a one-stop shop that cut several days from the time to import/export goods.

In Rwanda, USAID projects reduced the time to export goods and improved access to credit. Reforms that will be reflected in the 2011 report include the establishment of a private credit bureau.

USAID is proud to have partnered with the Doing Business project since the initial publication of the report in 2004. USAID is currently supporting economic reformers in more than 50 developing country governments. USAID awards hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts and grants annually with the objective of improving the business environment in developing countries.

For more information about the Doing Business report series, please visit: www.doingbusiness.org

Public Information: 202-712-4810


First Live Domain Name Auction in Turkey
Sep 9th, 2009 by TopDollar

First Live Domain Name Auction in Turkey

New Turkish extension is growing rapidly

ISTANBUL, Sept. 8 /PRNewswire/ — Dot TK, the innovative domain name registry of .TK domain names with offices in London, Amsterdam and Istanbul today announced the first live domain name auction in Turkey.

This auction will be held at the Swissotel in Istanbul on September 9th 2009 at 14h00 GMT and will be live broadcasted to bidders worldwide on www.nic.tk.

Dot TK is well-known by Internet users globally because of the distribution of free domain names. However, Dot TK has another business model and approach in the country of Turkey. Dot TK does not provide free domain names there, but only paid domain name registrations. It acts as the national Turkish extension. Registration of .TK domains take place at Dot TK’s website and through hundreds of Turkish hosting providers that partner with the .TK registry.

Only one year after its launch in Istanbul Dot TK has registered more Turkish domain names within the .TK domain zone than there are .TR domains. “.TR is the official top level domain in Turkey,” says Joost Zuurbier, CEO of Dot TK. “To get a .TR domain you have to wait at least two weeks, send copies of your tax forms and pay at least 15 US dollars. Dot TK domains are cheap, as cheap as 3 US dollars per year. Our domains are easy to register and are available immediately. All these factors contribute to the decision that the Turkish people choose .TK domains over .TR ones.”

At the auction on 09/09/2009 a total of 212 lots are auctioned. These lots do exist either out of one domain or exist out of multiple domains. Only generic domain names are auctioned. These include domains like FUTBOL.TK and POKER.TK. Using generic domains in a company’s marketing strategy is new in Turkey. Thanks to generic domains Turkish websites will see more search engine traffic and therefore more visitors. Turkey is now ready to invest in its Internet real-estate.

Dot TK is a joint venture of the Government of Tokelau, its communication company Teletok and BV Dot TK, a privately held company. More information about Dot TK can be found at http://www.nic.tk.

Dot TK

Deloitte Consumer Spending Index Continues Downward
Jun 19th, 2009 by TopDollar

Deloitte Consumer Spending Index Continues Downward

NEW YORK, June 9 /PRNewswire/ — The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index declined again in May, driven downward primarily by the housing market. The Index attempts to track consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

“The year over year pace of decline in real consumer spending appears to have stabilized, however, recovery is being delayed by a sharp increase in consumer savings, which has risen to 5.7 percent from zero a year ago,” said Carl Steidtmann, chief economist with Deloitte Research, a subsidiary of Deloitte Services LP, and author of the monthly Index. “However, the weakness in the Index was driven almost entirely by falling home prices, which are down nearly 14 percent over the past year, undermining small gains in real wages, a declining tax burden and current stabilization in new unemployment claims.”

The Index, comprising four components — tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices — fell to 1.35 percent from an downwardly revised gain of 1.44 percent a month ago.

“The lack of improvement in the index suggests that consumers are still feeling the pressures of the economy,” said Stacy Janiak, vice chairman and U.S. Retail leader, Deloitte LLP. “Additionally, even when a recovery takes hold and spending strengthens, consumers will likely remain focused on value. Retailers should consider strategies that strike a connection with customers looking to keep expenditures down without trading down. That might mean expanding or reinventing a private label brand in a way that not only offers the right price point, but a certain amount of cache as well.”

Highlights of the Index include:

Tax Burden: The tax burden continues to fall with the weakening of the economy. The tax burden is at a level only seen on a few occasions over the past 50 years during brief periods following tax rebates. Continued decline is expected.

Initial Unemployment Claims: Claims appear to have stabilized for the moment and in recent weeks have come down. While still at very elevated levels, the future direction of claims remains uncertain given sizable layoffs that are expected from the auto and auto dealer sectors of the economy.

Real Wages: Real wage growth continues to post small gains due in large part to falling prices for energy. Real wages are up 4.3 percent from a year ago and on an annualized basis are up 8.0 percent over the last nine months as energy prices have given a big boost to consumer purchasing power.

Real Home Prices: Home prices continue to fall. Renewed efforts to forestall foreclosures coupled with a tax credit for home buyers may bring some stability to this market. The decline in home prices has made home buying much more affordable. What is lacking is mortgage financing and stable prices.

For more information about Deloitte’s Retail sector, please visit www.deloitte.com/us/retail.

About Deloitte

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte LLP and Deloitte Services LP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries.

SOURCE Deloitte

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index(TM) (LEI) for the U.S. Improves Again
Jun 19th, 2009 by TopDollar

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index(TM) (LEI) for the U.S. Improves Again

NEW YORK, June 18 /PRNewswire/ — The Conference Board Leading Economic Index(TM) (LEI) for the U.S. increased 1.2 percent in May, following a 1.1 percent increase in April, and a 0.3 percent decline in March.

Says Ken Goldstein, Economist at The Conference Board: “The leading economic index increased for the second consecutive month. The coincident economic index is still declining, but the declines are less intense. The recession is losing steam. Confidence is rebuilding and financial market volatility is abating. Even the housing market appears to be stabilizing. If these trends continue, expect a slow recovery beginning before the end of the year. However, employment will take longer to turn around.”

The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index(TM) (CEI) for the U.S. declined 0.2 percent in May, following a 0.3 percent decline in April, and a 0.7 percent drop in March. The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index(TM) (LAG) declined 0.2 percent in May, following a 0.8 percent decline in April and a 0.6 percent decrease in March.

* The Conference Board LEI for the U.S. increased sharply for the second consecutive month in May. In addition, the strengths among its components continued to exceed the weaknesses this month. Vendor performance, the interest rate spread, real money supply, stock prices, consumer expectations, and building permits contributed positively to the index, more than offsetting the negative contributions from weekly hours and initial unemployment claims. The index rose 1.2 percent (a 2.4 percent annual rate) between November 2008 and May 2009, the first time the index has increased over a six-month period since April 2007, and the strengths among the leading indicators have become balanced with the weaknesses during this period.

* The Conference Board CEI for the U.S. continued to decrease in May, amid further declines in industrial production and employment. The six-month change in the index stands at -3.3 percent (a -6.4 percent annual rate) in the period through May, down from -2.3 percent (a -4.5 percent annual rate) during the previous six months. In May, the lagging economic index for the U.S. fell by the same amount as the coincident economic index, and the coincident-to-lagging ratio remained unchanged, as a result. Meanwhile, real GDP fell at a 5.7 percent annual rate in the first quarter of the year, following a contraction of 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008.

* The Conference Board LEI for the U.S., which had been on a general downtrend since reaching a peak in July 2007, has risen sharply in the past two months amid widespread strengths among its components. With these large and extensive increases, the six-month change in the index has become positive for the first time in two years. The Conference Board CEI for the U.S., a measure of current economic activity, remains on a decreasing trend but its pace of decline has stabilized in recent months. All in all, the behavior of the composite indexes continues to suggest that the recession that began in December 2007 will likely ease in the near term.


Seven of the ten indicators that make up The Conference Board LEI for the U.S. increased in May. The positive contributors – beginning with the largest positive contributor – were index of supplier deliveries (vendor performance), interest rate spread, stock prices, real money supply*, index of consumer expectations, building permits, and manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods*. The negative contributors – beginning with the largest negative contributor – were average weekly manufacturing hours, average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted), and manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials*.

The Conference Board LEI for the U.S. now stands at 100.2 (2004=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 1.1 percent in April and decreased 0.3 percent in March. During the six-month span through May, the leading economic index increased 1.2 percent, with five out of ten components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 50 percent).


Two of the four indicators that make up The Conference Board CEI for the U.S. increased in May. The positive contributors to the index – beginning with the largest positive contributor – were personal income less transfer payments* and manufacturing and trade sales*. The negative contributors – beginning with the largest negative contributor – were industrial production and employment.

The Conference Board CEI for the U.S. now stands at 100.7 (2004=100). This index decreased 0.3 percent in April and decreased 0.7 percent in March. During the six-month period through May, the coincident economic index decreased 3.3 percent, with none of the four components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 0.0 percent).


The Conference Board LAG for the U.S. stands at 112.0 (2004=100) in May, with none of the seven components advancing. The negative contributors – beginning with the largest negative contributor – were average duration of unemployment (inverted), commercial and industrial loans outstanding*, change in labor cost per unit of output*, and change in CPI for services. The ratio of manufacturing and trade inventories to sales*, average prime rate charged by banks, and ratio of consumer installment credit to personal income* held steady in May. Based on revised data, the lagging economic index decreased 0.8 percent in April and decreased 0.6 percent in March.


The data series used to compute The Conference Board Leading Economic Index(TM) (LEI) for the U.S., The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index(TM) (CEI) for the U.S. and The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index(TM) (LAG) for the U.S. and reported in the tables in this release are those available “as of” 12 Noon on June 17, 2009. Some series are estimated as noted below.

* Series in The Conference Board LEI for the U.S. based on our estimates are manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials, manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods, and the personal consumption expenditure used to deflate the money supply. Series in The Conference Board CEI for the U.S. that are based on our estimates are personal income less transfer payments and manufacturing and trade sales. Series in The Conference Board LAG for the U.S. that are based on our estimates are inventories to sales ratio, consumer installment credit to income ratio, change in labor cost per unit of output, and the personal consumption expenditure used to deflate commercial and industrial loans outstanding.

The procedure used to estimate the current month’s personal consumption expenditure deflator (used in the calculation of real money supply and commercial and industrial loans outstanding) now incorporates the current month’s consumer price index when it is available before the release of The Conference Board LEI for the U.S.

SOURCE The Conference Board

The Depth of the Global Recession Impact Has Permanently Changed the Rules of the Game for Corporates, Ernst & Young Study Finds
Jun 19th, 2009 by TopDollar

The Depth of the Global Recession Impact Has Permanently Changed the Rules of the Game for Corporates, Ernst & Young Study Finds

88% of global companies say their operating model has been altered by recession

NEW YORK, June 15 /PRNewswire/ — The impact of the economic downturn has clearly been significant, however not all companies are equally affected by the recession, according to a study of executives at 570 leading global companies released today by Ernst & Young LLP. The comparisons with a similar study in January also reveal that while the white heat of the crisis has passed, the majority of companies are still focused on survival. However, a significant minority are looking to take advantage of the situation to pursue new opportunities.

The study — Opportunities in adversity: accelerating the change, (available at http://www.ey.com/opportunities-in-adversity) — finds nearly half of those surveyed (43%) said that their operating model had been permanently altered by the events of the last 18 months. A further 45% said there had been a temporary impact. Similarly 56% of the executives said that their risk management processes had been permanently altered, 33% temporarily. For 45% the regulatory framework for business had also fundamentally changed.

Other alterations to their business model — price sensitivity, profitability, competitive sensitivity and economic stability were viewed by respondents as more temporary although a significant minority — above 20% in each case — viewed the changes here as permanent as well.

“The impact of the market changes has clearly been significant and some business models have changed radically,” said Michael Rogers, Principal, Transaction Advisory Services, Ernst & Young LLP. “Company management is being forced to review their methods of organization due to a range of macro influences such as challenges from diversification, globalization, and (de)regulation. Businesses that emerge strengthened from the current crisis will be those that reshape intelligently, not those tempted to move quickly to extract additional value.”

It is still really tough out there

Ernst & Young LLP carried out a similar study five months ago. The corporates we talked to then, and the thousands of companies we have discussed the research with since, are still seeing huge competition on price. Companies are still seeing significant numbers of bankruptcies and competitors withdrawing from their sector, but there was also an increase in those organizations reporting new entrants in their sector.

The overall mood is still somber. Although 64% of executives said they had been able to make cost reductions, 31% said they had improved revenues and more than a third said the environment was more positive in terms of making strategic acquisitions. A majority of executives had seen deterioration in revenues (58%) and profitability (56%). Only 20% had seen an improvement in investor confidence, and a similar low number saw any improvement in accessing affordable capital or credit.

“Perverse as it may seem, a period of crisis can provide an opportunity to drive change more rapidly and effectively than a period of prosperity,” noted Rogers of Ernst & Young LLP. “Company leaders are finding ways to take advantage of this economic climate. This survey shows 25% of companies are actively planning for growth, 34% are seeking strategic alliances and 36% plan to enter new geographies.”

Are we past the worst?

A slight shift in emphasis from the responses from January gives some credence to the thinking that the worst ravages of the recession are behind us. At the time of the last study 82% said the focus of their business was on restructuring their business to deal with the recession and 74% were looking merely at survival of the present operations.

Those figures have declined to 74% and 65% – still remarkably high – but in conjunction with the fact that the proportion of companies who said that they were “taking advantage of the recession to pursue new market operations” had increased from 59% to 69% – suggest there are some more companies out there bargain basement hunting.

Cash is actually tighter

Back in January over a quarter of executives said cash was not an issue. That proportion has slipped to 18%. Respondents also highlighted an increase in communications to lenders and rating agencies. There was however less talk of companies disposing of assets purely to raise cash.

“Working capital is the lifeblood of a company, and the ability to manage it becomes even more important in a downturn due to falling revenue and restricted access to funds,” said Kevin Cole, Americas Accounts & Business Development Leader, Ernst & Young LLP. “Companies need to secure their position by identifying and resolving critical issues quickly to protect against value erosion, or to be well placed to take advantage of opportunities.”

How have companies responded in the short term?

Over the last year 86% of executives said they had accelerated cost reduction programs, 52% had speeded up their restructuring plans and 38% had pushed the button on a “significant employee reduction program.” When asked about their key drivers in the short term there was increased scrutiny on profitability (73%), pricing strategy (55%) and their relationship with customers (52%). Internally it was no surprise that 38% had seen more investment in risk.

What’s next in the longer term?

In terms of looking post-recession, executives were pretty evenly split between expanding into new geographies, increased use of strategic alliances, acquisitions and speed to market and divesting non-core business. “Companies that maintain a sustainable business model through the current downturn will not only survive the downturn, but will emerge stronger and in the best position to take advantage of new growth opportunities as the economy improves,” said Cole of Ernst & Young LLP.

“The bottom line is, that in both good and bad economic conditions, successful organizations are those that have clarity around their proposition, strategic direction and brand positioning,” said Donna Campbell, Americas Advisory Performance Improvement Leader, Ernst & Young LLP. “A successful company also has an effective management information capability that is aligned with the business strategy to enable agility in responding to market or other environmental changes.”

There was a range of views from our respondents with a quarter saying the worst was now behind us and 42% saying that some signs of life in the global economy are evident or will be by the end of the year but a strong minority of 21% saw no recovery before the second half of 2010 at the earliest. There are some sectors that are more optimistic than others – Telecoms, Power, Oil & Gas in particular – but others see a longer downturn, notably Asset Management and Real Estate and Construction. Respondents in Europe were more negative than in Asia or the Americas.

About this report

The Ernst & Young “Opportunities in adversity” survey, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, was based on polls conducted in June 2009 with 569 C-suite and board level executives at global companies across multiple industry sectors with a global revenue turnover in excess of US$1 billion.

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 135,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

For more information, please visit www.ey.com

Ernst & Young refers to the global organization of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity.

This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a client-serving member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited located in the U.S.

SOURCE Ernst & Young LLP

Committee for Economic Development Announces Summit to Address Sustainability of America’s Economic Policies
Jun 19th, 2009 by TopDollar

Committee for Economic Development Announces Summit to Address Sustainability of America’s Economic Policies

Peter G. Peterson to Welcome Nation’s Top Economic Thinkers to First Annual CED Summit

WASHINGTON, June 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Committee for Economic Development (CED) today announced that it will hold its first summit on the sustainability of America’s economic policies on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. CED will bring together some of the most well-respected economists and thinkers in America to discuss the sustainability of our country’s economic policies, the roots of the current economic crisis and how to ensure long-term economic growth for the global economy.

“Are America’s Economic Policies Sustainable? A Business Leaders’ Summit on Our Future” will feature keynote speaker Gillian Tett, Global Markets Editor for the Financial Times and author of Fool’s Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe; Joseph Kasputys, Founder and Chairman, IHS Global Insight; William H. Donaldson, Chairman, Donaldson Enterprises, and former Chairman, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; William J. McDonough, Vice Chairman and Special Advisor to the Chairman, Merrill Lynch, and former President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank; and Robert D. Hormats, Vice President, Goldman Sachs (International). Peter G. Peterson, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, co-founder of the Blackstone Group and Founder of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation will deliver the welcoming address.

Facing the most challenging recession since the 1930s, the Obama Administration has taken unprecedented steps to spur economic recovery. From the auto industry to banking and finance, the federal government is more directly involved in the economy than at any time since World War II.

Are these policies sustainable? Will our economy begin to see improvement over the summer? Or will even more government assistance be needed to pull us out of this recession by 2010?

“The Committee for Economic Development has always been committed to supporting policies that foster long-term economic growth for America. We need to have restored trust and confidence in our corporations, their leaders, and especially our financial-services sector,” said Charles E.M. Kolb, CED President. “We believe that a summit bringing together some of the top executives from a wide range of fields to discuss, analyze and critique our country’s economic policies will elevate the level of discussion and create new or alternative solutions to certain issues that are still unresolved by the federal government,” Mr. Kolb said.

About CED

CED is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of more than 200 business leaders and university presidents. Since 1942, its research and policy programs have addressed many of the nation’s most pressing economic and social issues, including education reform, workforce competitiveness, campaign finance, health care, and global trade and finance. CED promotes policies to produce increased productivity and living standards, greater and more equal opportunity for every citizen, and an improved quality of life for all.

CONTACT: Morgan Broman of CED, +1-202-296-5860, ext. 14, morgan.broman@ced.org

SOURCE The Committee for Economic Development

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