Archive for August, 2019

Restrictions on electronic devices on flights: What you need to know

By admin | 苏州桑拿

The United States and the United Kingdom have both banned electronic devices larger than a mobile phone from cabins on flights from some Middle Eastern and North African countries.
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While the measures – enacted in response to an “unspecified security concern” – should not stop passengers on direct flights to and from bringing laptops, e-readers and other devices on board, there could be flow-on effects that will make travelling to America or the UK more of a hassle.

As for , a spokeswoman for Minister for Infrastructure Darren Chester said on Wednesday that his department, which regulates air safety, had no current plans to implement similar bans for flights heading here.

Luckily for n travellers, British authorities have not followed their US counterparts in applying the ban to flights that originate or stop over in the big Middle Eastern hubs of the UAE (including Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and Qatar.

If the UK did, passengers flying from to London on Qantas, Emirates, Etihad (and its code share partner Virgin ) and Qatar Airways would have to leave their laptops in their checked baggage.

Most ns heading to the US travel across the Pacific, so they aren’t affected either. Which countries are affected?

The US has banned large electronic devices on flights from airports in the following countries: JordanEgyptTurkeySaudi ArabiaKuwaitQatarMoroccoJordanthe United Arab Emirates

The UK’s ban, announced overnight, is less restrictive and only applies to flights from the following countries: TurkeyLebanonJordanEgyptTunisiaSaudi ArabiaBrace for longer queues

While most ns don’t travel to the US via the Middle East, an exception are passengers from Perth, many of whom choose to fly to the US via the Middle East rather than connecting through Sydney or Melbourne.

“They find it’s not much difference in time for them to hop on a flight from Perth to Abu Dhabi with Etihad, to Dubai with Emirates or to Doha with Qatar, and then they can bounce back to the US from there,” David Flynn, editor of n Business Traveller told Fairfax Media.

“Those people will now not be able to have their laptop or their iPad or their camera or their Kindle or electronic games in the cabin with them.”

ns can also expect to be hit with delays when transferring through Middle Eastern airports, Mr Flynn said, caused by US-bound passengers being stopped at security screenings because they have brought electronics with them from connecting flights.

“I would be prepared for much longer queues and for much more irate passengers in those queues,” he said. Do these devices pose a greater threat than mobile phones?

Only physically, not technologically.

A computer or a tablet is larger than a smartphone, which would theoretically provide more room for terrorists to cram in components like bomb parts or weapons, said Bill Marczak, a senior fellow at the Citizen Lab, a research group that follows technology and policy.

Multiple terrorists could then each take a computer on a plane containing an explosive component and, hypothetically, put it together in the cabin, he said.

Yet a smartphone may also pose threats. As Samsung demonstrated last year with its Galaxy Note 7, smartphones – and anything with a lithium-ion battery – are capable of exploding and causing safety hazards.

Technologically, a smartphone is a miniature computer that is just as powerful as a laptop. There is also a risk that a terrorist could use a smartphone to remotely detonate a bomb that is hidden inside a computer checked in as cargo, said Nick Feamster, a computer science professor at Princeton University. So why ban computers and tablets?

Other than preventing terrorists from smuggling components onto planes, the device ban may create additional surveillance opportunities. It is common for airport security officials to search checked luggage. In theory, if a computer is checked, airport officials can do more thorough searches, including a data frisk.

“Who, if anyone, takes control of your device while it’s not in your sight or possession?” Feamster said. “A search of your device is not outside the realm of possibility.” What should I do?

If you are flying on an affected airline and concerned about your privacy, consider protecting your data while crossing the border.

For one, you could encrypt your files with an app like BitLocker or FileVault. That way, if someone did try to gain access to your data, a passphrase would be needed to decrypt the files, Marczak of the Citizen Lab said.

In addition, travellers could seal laptops in a tamper-evident bag, Marczak said. Once you reach your destination, you can see if anyone tampered with the laptop by inserting a physical surveillance device into it, for example.

You could also consider travelling with an inexpensive computer that lacks any of your sensitive data, Feamster added. And you could back up your data to the cloud and purge it from the inexpensive computer before checking it in with your luggage.

If he were travelling to those countries now, Feamster said, “I wouldn’t even bother taking my main laptop. I’d take my clean laptop that doesn’t have any data on it.”

– with New York Times

See also: Why you should never pack valuables in your carry-on luggage

CBA’s Bankwest in corporate banking retreat

By admin | 苏州桑拿

Commonwealth Bank subsidiary Bankwest will shut its corporate banking services outside of its home state as it retreats to its core customers in Western .
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Bankwest revealed on Wednesday it would be rolling “relationship managed” business clients based outside of WA into its parent company’s business and private banking division.

The bank will still offer corporate banking in WA and will serve small business customers nationwide, Bankwest managing director Rowan Munchenberg said.

He said the move would help Bankwest focus on its core clients: retail and small business customers and corporate banking in WA.

Bankwest said staff in its east coast corporate banking division would move across to CBA’s BPB team or other positions where possible. It was too early to say if there would be job losses, a spokesman said.

“CBA’s growth plans and existing footprint, combined with excellent products and services means that it is well-positioned to support Bankwest non-WA based relationship-managed business customers and help them grow,” Mr Munchenberg said.

Bankwest’s business lending arm has been problematic for CBA since it bought the Western n bank in 2008.

A 2011 parliamentary heading heard CBA committed “fraud” by deliberately impairing more than 1000 commercial Bankwest loans, combined worth more than $8.2 billion, enabling it to foreclose the loans despite customers never missing payments and having adequate security. CBA denied any wrongdoing at the time.

Bankwest has made several changes to its loan products over the past two months, as regulators voiced concerns that the property investor market may be overheating.

In January it announced it would no longer be accepting applications from new customers looking to refinance standalone investment loans from other banks, and it has since hiked rates on variable investor property home loans by 15 basis points.

And last month Bankwest revealed it would no longer include negative gearing benefits when calculating loan eligibility for property investors. The move means investors will qualify for lower loan amounts.

Mr Munchenberg said the two banks were working to ensure a smooth transition for customers moving from Bankwest to CBA. Bankwest customers and employees will start migrating to CBA during 2017.

PIMCO sees higher global growth

By admin | 苏州桑拿

Pimco has joined the chorus of global investors turning bullish on global growth prospects, saying the Trump administration’s war on trade is “more symbolic than real”.
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The global bond fund manager has raised its growth forecast to between 2.75 and 3.25 per cent (a rise of 0.25 per cent on both the lower and upper estimates from December).

This is due to lower-than-expected risks of a global trade war, weakened expectations of economic upheaval in China, lower expectations of US inflation and optimistic signs on European populism after the failure of far-right candidate Geert Wilders to oust the political establishment in the recent Dutch election.

The major downside risk to the Pimco forecast is the monetary tightening taking place around the world.

“With improved growth and inflation prospects, exhausted central banks are likely to move closer to the exit from ultra-accommodative monetary policies,” wrote Pimco’s Joachim Fels and Andrew Balls.

“And it’s not certain whether highly leveraged private and public borrowers around the world will be able to keep dancing when the music stops.”

At the moment, the Federal Reserve’s statements have prepared the market for two further interest rate cuts this year.

But that’s not including the impact of the US administration’s much-mooted fiscal stimulus plans, which leaves open the possibility of the Fed rapidly changing its tune.

However, Pimco does expect this stimulus to be smaller than previously expected, and to not be finalised until early 2018.

“Repealing and replacing Obamacare will keep Congress busy for a while, and comprehensive tax reform will take time and is hard to do given the rising opposition to the border adjustment tax from the adversely affected importing industries and in the Senate. Thus, any fiscal boost is likely to be smaller and come much later.” Deals, not war

In Europe, expectations are for the European Central Bank to scale back its asset purchases by early 2018.

This “raises the spectre of sharp adjustments in euro-area sovereign yield levels and peripheral sovereign spreads over Bunds”.

Pimco’s shrugging off of the odds of a trade war is counter-intuitive, given the G20, at the urging of the United States, removed a phrase signalling its commitment to fight protectionism over the weekend.

Mr Fels told Fairfax Media the removal of the phrase was “no surprise given the protectionist leanings of the Trump administration”. But he played down its impact.

“We expect the administration to push trading partners like China for more market access for US companies rather than imposing high tariffs or naming China a currency manipulator. Trump wants to strike deals rather than starting a trade war.”

Key to Pimco’s reduced expectations on trade risks is what the administration hasn’t done despite the opportunity to do so.

Despite antagonistic rhetoric, the administration hasn’t sought to impose trade sanctions through executive orders, suggesting, Pimco’s analysts write, “that President Trump’s statements on tariffs may be more symbolic than real”.

Pimco’s head of n portfolios Robert Mead told Fairfax Media the n economy was somewhat out-of-sync with this global picture.

“Our housing market has been very strong, but is likely to slow in terms of new developments. The n consumer is excessively levered, so the RBA has limited degrees of freedom in terms of adjusting policy settings,” he said.

“Commodity prices have boomed, but the flow through to n companies and the broader n economy is limited. That leaves us with a less robust labour market, sluggish wages growth and an economy growing below potential.”

Is big money eyeing an equities exit?

By admin | 苏州桑拿

An exit from equities for big money could be on the cards after a record number of global fund managers reckon that stocks are overvalued, according to a survey.
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In Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s monthly survey of 200 global investors representing close to $US600 billion in assets under management, a net 34 per cent of managers said equities are overvalued, the highest reading in the 17 years that question has been asked, and up from 26 per cent in February.

Making matters worse, asset managers are heavily exposed to equity markets, with a net 48 per cent saying they are overweight stocks in their portfolios, meaning they hold more than their benchmarks would require.

“Investor positioning argues for a risk rally pause in March/April, with allocation to equities at a two-year high and bond allocation at a three-year low,” said Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.

Broken out by region, a net 81 per cent of investors identified the US market as the most overvalued, while 44 per cent and 23 per cent believe emerging markets equities and eurozone equities, respectively, are undervalued.

The survey’s results come amid growing worries that particularly US stocks are overvalued, with the S&P 500’s forward price-earnings ratio at its highest level since 2004.

Despite suffering its biggest fall in more than six months on Tuesday night, Wall Street’s main index, the S&P 500, is still up more than 12 per cent since the US election on hopes that President Donald Trump’s fiscal plans will stimulate higher economic growth.

“The S&P500 is ripe for a corrective selloff,” said Fat Prophets CEO Angus Geddes, adding he expects a retreat of up to 7 per cent from current levels.

“If Wall Street does indeed fall by 5 per cent to 7 per cent in a corrective selloff then it stands to reason the rest of the world may only sneeze this year and not catch the proverbial cold,” he said.

One sector that could suffer from any selloff is banks, which the surveyed fund manager consider to be the second-most crowded trade after their recent rally. First is the US dollar, which despite recent losses is still well above levels from last year.

Asked what they think is most likely to trigger an end of the eight-year equity bull market, 36 per cent point to rising interest rates, followed by 23 per cent citing weaker earnings.

Interestingly, the fear of protectionism has fallen sharply, from about 35 per cent in February, when it was seen as the biggest risk to the bull market, to 21 per cent. The survey was conducted just before the G20 finance ministers last weekend excluded a standard line on resisting protectionism from their final communique, apparently at the behest of the US.

A net 58 per cent of survey respondents expect the global economy to improve over the next year, down slightly from a 59 per cent in February, the March survey also found.

European elections raising the risk of disintegration of the eurozone remains the biggest tail risk for global growth, according to 33 per cent of investors, followed by trade at 20 per cent and a crash in global bond markets at 18 per cent.

The long-running survey, which is conducted each month, is considered one of the best barometers of big money investment opinion.