News Article | April 27, 2017
RIVERSIDE, Calif., April 27, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. ("Company"), (NASDAQ:PROV), the holding company for Provident Savings Bank, F.S.B. ("Bank"), today announced third quarter earnings for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017. For the quarter ended March 31, 2017, the Company reported net income of $1.15 million, or $0.14 per diluted share (on 8.09 million average diluted shares outstanding), down 23 percent from net income of $1.49 million, or $0.18 per diluted share (on 8.52 million average diluted shares outstanding), in the comparable period a year ago. The decrease in net income for the third quarter of fiscal 2017, as compared to the same period last year, was primarily attributable to a decrease in the gain on sale of loans, partly offset by decreases in salaries and employee benefits expense and other non-interest expense. "Although our most recent quarterly results have declined due to the volatility experienced in mortgage banking, our community banking results continue to strengthen and our outlook for community banking is favorable," said Craig G. Blunden, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company. "Poorer mortgage banking performance resulted from recently higher mortgage interest rates in addition to the typical seasonality associated with the March quarter of each year. We continue to adjust our mortgage banking business model in response to the weaker loan origination environment," Mr. Blunden concluded. Return on average assets for the third quarter of fiscal 2017 decreased to 0.39 percent from 0.51 percent for the same period of fiscal 2016; and return on average stockholders' equity for the third quarter of fiscal 2017 decreased to 3.46 percent from 4.36 percent for the comparable period of fiscal 2016. On a sequential quarter basis, net income for the third quarter of fiscal 2017 reflects a $359,000, or 24 percent, decrease from the net income of $1.50 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2017. The decrease in net income in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2017 was primarily attributable to decreases in net interest income and the gain on sale of loans, partly offset by a decrease in other non-interest expense. Diluted earnings per share for the third quarter of fiscal 2017 were $0.14 per share, down 22 percent, from the $0.18 per share during the second quarter of fiscal 2017. Return on average assets decreased to 0.39 percent for the third quarter of fiscal 2017 from 0.50 percent in the second quarter of fiscal 2017; and return on average stockholders' equity for the third quarter of fiscal 2017 was 3.46 percent, compared to 4.53 percent for the second quarter of fiscal 2017. For the nine months ended March 31, 2017, net income decreased $676,000, or 14 percent, to $4.24 million from $4.92 million in the comparable period ended March 31, 2016; and diluted earnings per share for the nine months ended March 31, 2017 decreased nine percent to $0.52 per share from $0.57 per share for the comparable nine month period last year. Net interest income increased $735,000, or nine percent, to $8.65 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 from $7.91 million for the same quarter of fiscal 2016, attributable to an increase in the net interest margin and a higher average earning assets balance. The net interest margin during the third quarter of fiscal 2017 increased 20 basis points to 3.00 percent from 2.80 percent in the same quarter last year, primarily due to the increase in the average yield of earning assets reflecting a change in the interest-earning-asset mix into additional higher yielding assets and a decrease in the average cost of interest-bearing liabilities. The average yield on interest-earning assets increased by 15 basis points to 3.56 percent in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 from 3.41 percent in the same quarter last year, while the average cost of liabilities decreased by five basis points to 0.64 percent in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 from 0.69 percent in the same quarter last year. The increase in the average yield on interest-earning assets was primarily due to the utilization of interest-earning deposits earning a nominal yield to fund higher balances of loans receivable and investment securities, which earned a significantly higher yield. The average interest-earning assets balance for the third quarter of fiscal 2017 was $1.15 billion, up two percent from $1.13 billion during the same period last year. The average balance of loans outstanding, including loans held for sale, increased by $22.2 million, or two percent, to $974.2 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 from $952.0 million in the same quarter of fiscal 2016, primarily due to an increase in average loans held for investment, which was partly offset by a decrease in average loans held for sale attributable to a decrease in mortgage banking activity. The average yield on loans receivable increased by 11 basis points to 3.98 percent in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 from an average yield of 3.87 percent in the same quarter of fiscal 2016. The increase in the average loan yield was primarily attributable to an increase in the average yield of loans held for sale and an increase in the average yield of loans held for investment. The average balance of loans held for sale in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 was $104.7 million with an average yield of 3.87 percent as compared to $146.2 million with an average yield of 3.75 percent in the same quarter of fiscal 2016. The outstanding balance of "preferred loans" (multi-family, commercial real estate, construction and commercial business loans) increased by $44.1 million, or eight percent, to $563.3 million at March 31, 2017 from $519.2 million at June 30, 2016, net of undisbursed loan funds of $9.5 million and $11.3 million, respectively. The percentage of preferred loans to total loans held for investment at March 31, 2017 increased to 64 percent from 61 percent at June 30, 2016. Loan principal payments received in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 were $46.2 million, compared to $56.3 million in the same quarter of fiscal 2016. The average balance of investment securities increased by $22.4 million, or 90 percent, to $47.3 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 from $24.9 million in the same quarter of fiscal 2016. The increase was attributable to mortgage-backed securities purchases, partly offset by principal payments received on mortgage-backed securities. The average yield on investment securities decreased 34 basis points to 1.20 percent in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 from 1.54 percent for the same quarter of fiscal 2016. The decrease in the average yield was primarily attributable to mortgage-backed securities purchases which had lower average yields than the existing portfolio and an accelerated premium amortization resulting from higher prepayments. In the third quarter of fiscal 2017, the Federal Home Loan Bank ("FHLB") - San Francisco distributed $184,000 of quarterly cash dividends to the Bank, a $21,000 or 13 percent increase from the cash dividends received by the Bank in the same quarter last year. The average balance of the Company's interest-earning deposits, primarily cash with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, decreased $20.4 million, or 14 percent, to $125.2 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 from $145.6 million in the same quarter of fiscal 2016. The decrease in interest-earning deposits was primarily due to redeployment of excess cash to fund loans held for investment and purchases of investment securities. The average yield earned on interest-earning deposits in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 was 0.80 percent, up 30 basis points from 0.50 percent in the same quarter of fiscal 2016 as a result of the impact of the increases in the federal funds rate in March 2017 and December 2016. Average deposits increased $7.7 million, or one percent, to $928.0 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 from $920.3 million in the same quarter of fiscal 2016. The average cost of deposits decreased by eight basis points to 0.40 percent in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 from 0.48 percent in the same quarter last year, primarily due to decreases in the average cost of transaction accounts and time deposits and a lower percentage of time deposits to the total deposit balance. Transaction account balances or "core deposits" increased $40.3 million, or seven percent, to $657.8 million at March 31, 2017 from $617.5 million at June 30, 2016, while time deposits decreased $28.4 million, or nine percent, to $280.5 million at March 31, 2017 from $308.9 million at June 30, 2016, consistent with the Bank's strategy to decrease the percentage of time deposits in its deposit base and to increase the percentage of lower cost checking and savings accounts. The average balance of borrowings, which consisted of FHLB - San Francisco advances, increased $20.0 million, or 22 percent, to $111.3 million while the average cost of advances decreased 22 basis points to 2.60 percent in the third quarter of fiscal 2017, compared to an average balance of $91.3 million with an average cost of 2.82 percent in the same quarter of fiscal 2016. The decrease in the average cost of advances was primarily due to the long-term advances taken in August and September 2016 totaling $20.0 million with an average cost of 1.59 percent, well below the weighted average cost in the third quarter of fiscal 2016. The increase in the average balance of fixed-rate long-term advances is consistent with the Bank's management of interest rate risk embedded in the balance sheet. During the third quarter of fiscal 2017, the Company recorded a recovery from the allowance for loan losses of $165,000 compared to the recovery of $694,000 recorded during the same period of fiscal 2016 and the $350,000 recovery recorded in the second quarter of fiscal 2017 (sequential quarter). These recoveries were primarily attributable to continued improvement in loan credit quality and net recoveries of previously charged-off loans. Non-performing assets, with underlying collateral primarily located in California, decreased $1.4 million, or 11 percent, to $11.6 million, or 0.97 percent of total assets, at March 31, 2017, compared to $13.0 million, or 1.11 percent of total assets, at June 30, 2016. Non-performing loans at March 31, 2017 decreased $1.5 million or 14 percent since June 30, 2016 to $8.9 million and were primarily comprised of 29 single-family loans ($8.2 million); one multi-family loan ($372,000); one commercial real estate loan ($201,000); one commercial business loan ($68,000) and one consumer loan (fully reserved). Real estate owned acquired in the settlement of loans at March 31, 2017 increased $62,000, or two percent, to $2.8 million (five single-family properties) from $2.7 million (four single-family properties) at June 30, 2016. Net recoveries for the quarter ended March 31, 2017 were $49,000 or 0.02 percent (annualized) of average loans receivable, compared to net recoveries of $126,000 or 0.05 percent (annualized) of average loans receivable for the quarter ended March 31, 2016 and net recoveries of $16,000 or 0.01 percent (annualized) of average loans receivable for the quarter ended December 31, 2016 (sequential quarter). Classified assets at March 31, 2017 were $18.7 million, comprised of $7.1 million of loans in the special mention category, $8.8 million of loans in the substandard category and $2.8 million in real estate owned. Classified assets at June 30, 2016 were $21.9 million, comprised of $8.9 million of loans in the special mention category, $10.3 million of loans in the substandard category and $2.7 million in real estate owned. For the quarter ended March 31, 2017, no loans were restructured from their original terms or newly classified as a restructured loan. The allowance for loan losses was $8.3 million at March 31, 2017, or 0.93 percent of gross loans held for investment, compared to $8.7 million at June 30, 2016, or 1.02 percent of gross loans held for investment. Management believes that, based on currently available information, the allowance for loan losses is sufficient to absorb potential losses inherent in loans held for investment at March 31, 2017. Non-interest income decreased by $1.63 million, or 19 percent, to $6.79 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 from $8.42 million in the same period of fiscal 2016, primarily as a result of a decrease in the gain on sale of loans, partly offset by a lower net loss on the sale and operations of real estate owned during the current quarter as compared to the comparable period last year. On a sequential quarter basis, non-interest income decreased $1.04 million, or 13 percent, primarily as a result of a decrease in the gain on sale of loans. The gain on sale of loans decreased to $5.40 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2017 from $7.15 million in the comparable quarter last year, reflecting the impact of a lower loan sale volume, partly offset by a slightly higher average loan sale margin. Total loan sale volume, which includes the net change in commitments to extend credit on loans to be held for sale, was $342.2 million in the quarter ended March 31, 2017, down $109.5 million or 24 percent, from $451.7 million in the comparable quarter last year. The average loan sale margin from mortgage banking was 158 basis points for the quarter ended March 31, 2017, up one basis point from 157 basis points in the same quarter last year and up 19 basis points from 139 basis points in the second quarter of fiscal 2017 (sequential quarter). The gain on sale of loans includes a favorable fair-value adjustment on loans held for sale and derivative financial instruments (commitments to extend credit, commitments to sell loans, commitments to sell mortgage-backed securities, and option contracts) that amounted to a net gain of $635,000 in the third quarter of fiscal 2017, compared to a favorable fair-value adjustment that amounted to a net gain of $2.44 million in the same period last year. In the third quarter of fiscal 2017, a total of $317.9 million of loans were originated and purchased for sale, 19 percent lower than the $392.9 million for the same period last year, and 41 percent lower than the $541.9 million during the second quarter of fiscal 2017 (sequential quarter). The loan origination volume has decreased from the previous year because increased mortgage interest rates have reduced refinance activity. Total loans sold during the quarter ended March 31, 2017 were $369.5 million, four percent lower than the $383.6 million sold during the same quarter last year, and 42 percent lower than the $638.5 million sold during the second quarter of fiscal 2017 (sequential quarter). Total loan originations (including loans originated and purchased for investment and loans originated and purchased for sale) were $375.9 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2017, a decrease of 14 percent from $439.5 million in the same quarter of fiscal 2016, and 38 percent lower than the $605.3 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2017 (sequential quarter). The sale and operations of real estate owned acquired in the settlement of loans resulted in a net loss of $74,000 in the third quarter of fiscal 2017, compared to a $276,000 net loss in the comparable period last year. One real estate owned property was sold in the quarter ended March 31, 2017 compared to three real estate owned properties sold in the same quarter last year. Two real estate owned properties were acquired in the settlement of loans during the third quarter of fiscal 2017, the same number of properties acquired in the comparable period last year. As of March 31, 2017, the real estate owned balance was $2.8 million (five properties), compared to $2.7 million (four properties) at June 30, 2016. Non-interest expenses decreased $717,000 to $13.77 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 from $14.49 million in the same quarter last year. The decrease was primarily a result of decreases in salaries and employee benefits expense, professional expenses and other non-interest expense. The decrease in salaries and employee benefits expense was primarily related to lower mortgage banking loan originations; while the decrease in professional expenses was attributable to lower legal expenses. The decrease in other non-interest expense was related to a $668,000 reversal of loan origination liability accruals recorded in prior periods and no longer required because the potential exposure was mitigated. The Company's efficiency ratio remained unchanged at 89 percent in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 as compared to the same quarter last year. The Company's provision for income taxes was $690,000 for the third quarter of fiscal 2017, a decrease of $361,000 or 34 percent, from $1.05 million in the same quarter last year, as a result of the decrease in income before taxes and a lower effective income tax rate. The effective income tax rate for the quarter ended March 31, 2017 was 37.6 percent, down from 41.3 percent in the same quarter last year. The decrease in the effective tax rate was attributable to the tax effect of stock-based compensation in the third quarter of fiscal 2017. The Company believes that the tax provision recorded in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 reflects its current income tax obligations. The Company repurchased 89,819 shares of its common stock during the quarter ended March 31, 2017 at an average cost of $18.68 per share. As of March 31, 2017, a total of 207,505 shares or 52 percent of the shares authorized in the May 2016 stock repurchase plan have been purchased, leaving 189,495 shares available for future purchases. The Bank currently operates 14 retail/business banking offices in Riverside County and San Bernardino County (Inland Empire). Provident Bank Mortgage operates two wholesale loan production offices and 12 retail loan production offices located throughout California. The Company will host a conference call for institutional investors and bank analysts on Friday, April 28, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. (Pacific) to discuss its financial results. The conference call can be accessed by dialing 1-800-230-1059 and requesting the Provident Financial Holdings Earnings Release Conference Call. An audio replay of the conference call will be available through Friday, May 5, 2017 by dialing 1-800-475-6701 and referencing access code number 422360. For more financial information about the Company please visit the website at www.myprovident.com and click on the "Investor Relations" section. This press release contains statements that the Company believes are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements relate to the Company's financial condition, liquidity, results of operations, plans, objectives, future performance or business. You should not place undue reliance on these statements, as they are subject to risks and uncertainties. When considering these forward-looking statements, you should keep in mind these risks and uncertainties, as well as any cautionary statements the Company may make. Moreover, you should treat these statements as speaking only as of the date they are made and based only on information then actually known to the Company. There are a number of important factors that could cause future results to differ materially from historical performance and these forward-looking statements. Factors which could cause actual results to differ materially from the results anticipated or implied by our forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to increased competitive pressures; changes in the interest rate environment; secondary market conditions for loans and our ability to sell loans in the secondary market; changes in general economic conditions and conditions within the securities markets; legislative and regulatory changes; and other factors described in the Company's latest Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") - which are available on our website at www.myprovident.com and on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov. We do not undertake and specifically disclaim any obligation to revise any forward-looking statements to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events or circumstances after the date of such statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. These risks could cause our actual results for fiscal 2017 and beyond to differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements by, or on behalf of us and could negatively affect our operating and stock price performance.
News Article | May 4, 2017
Gary loved and took great joy in his family. He and his wife, Kathleen "Cab" Rogers, were married for 52 years and watched their four sons Andy, Matt, Brian and John, marry and have children of their own. His eleven grandchildren will dearly miss their Bwana, the name they called him which means 'headman' in Swahili. Gary is also survived by his mother, Virginia, and brothers, Don and Jim. "The joy in life is in the journey." Gary Rogers passed away doing what he loved, playing tennis at his home in Oakland, California, on May 2, 2017. Gary was the chairman and CEO of Oakland-based Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, Inc., for 30 years. He also served as a former chairman of Safeway Inc., the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and Levi Strauss & Co. Gary was born in Stockton, California, in 1942 and spent his youth in Marin County. A distinguished Eagle Scout, he attributed much of his personal character to his experiences as a Boy Scout, as an oarsman on the crew at UC Berkeley, and his family's deeply-held values of integrity and honor. In 1963, he graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He was named UC Berkeley All University Athlete that same year and rowed in the 1964 U.S. Olympic Trials. In the summer of 1964, Gary married Kathleen "Cab" Tuck, whom he met while working on staff at the UC Berkeley Alumni Association Tahoe Alumni Center. Gary spent the mid-sixties serving a two-year term in the Army as a Lieutenant in the Air Defense Artillery based on Mount Tamalpais. In 1968, he earned his MBA from Harvard Business School and was honored as a George F. Baker Scholar. At 34, Gary and his business partner William F. "Rick" Cronk purchased Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream a small regional ice cream company based in Oakland, California. For the next 30 years, Gary served as Chairman and CEO of Dreyer's, and together with Rick, built Dreyer's into the best-selling ice cream company in the United States. Gary often said the building of the Dreyer's corporate culture was "the best thing we ever did at the company." It was a culture based on empowerment; respecting and trusting in the abilities of each individual. Every person felt a personal responsibility to "make a difference." It made Dreyer's a coveted place to work. In 2002, Dreyer's was sold to Nestle. Gary also served as Chairman of Levi Strauss & Co., the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and Safeway Inc. He was also a director of Shorenstein Properties, Stanislaus Food Products and the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. He founded and chaired the Oakland Dialogue, a group of East Bay political, educational, and business leaders. Gary was inducted into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame, was named Harvard Business School Business Leader of the Year, and received the Wharton Business School Joseph Wharton Award. He has also received the University of California Bear of the Year Award. Gary was the primary benefactor of the University of California Cal Crew Forever Endowment Fund, the T. Gary Rogers Rowing Center, and the California Rowing Club for elite post-graduate oarsmen. He was also a member of the High Performance Olympic Committee of U.S. Rowing. He held numerous public service leadership positions and was the benefactor of the Rogers Family Foundation, which supports the University of California, education and activities for youth in Oakland and the East Bay, Bay Area hospitals, and bioscience research and innovation organizations. Gary lived "The Spirit of Adventure." His passion for travel took him all over the world – to both the North and South Poles, the plains of the Serengeti, and the Amazon jungle. He sought out challenges and fought fiercely to overcome them, living by the motto, "There is no such thing as can't; there is only won't." Gary loved and took great joy in his family. He and his wife, Kathleen "Cab" Rogers were married for 52 years and they watched their four sons Andy, Matt, Brian and John, marry and have children of their own. His eleven grandchildren will dearly miss their Bwana, the name they called him which means 'headman' in Swahili. Gary is also survived by his mother, Virginia, and brothers, Don and Jim. "The joy in life is in the journey." Gary is survived by his wife, Kathleen "Cab" Rogers; mother Virginia Rogers (age 102); brothers Don (Judy) and Jim (Sandy) Rogers; sons Andy Rogers (Janine), Matt Rogers (Amy), Brian Rogers (Katie), and John Rogers (Lynnsay); and eleven grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that Gary's legacy be recognized through donation to these worthy organizations: An outdoor memorial service will be held at the T. Gary Rogers Rowing Center on Monday, May 15 at 11:00 AM. T. Gary Rogers Rowing Center, 2999 Glascock St., Oakland, California. More information will be available on the Rogers Family Foundation website: www.rogersfoundation.org To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/rogers-family-statement-on-the-passing-of-t-gary-rogers-300451801.html
News Article | November 8, 2016
Who: John C. Williams, President & CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco What: Outlook on the Economy and Fireside Chat at USF's Downtown Campus President Williams will open the program with a 10-minute outlook on the economy and then participate in a fireside chat with John Veitch, professor of finance and director of USF's M.S. in Financial Analysis program. Professor Veitch will lead President Williams through questions about interest rates, policy issues, the value of a college education, and how he came to become the President of the Federal Reserve Back of San Francisco. Members of the media are invited to cover the event and will have time with President Williams after his public talk concludes at 7 p.m. Where: USF's Downtown campus is located at 101 Howard Street at Spear. The event will take place in suite 154. San Francisco, CA 94105 When: November 9, 2016 5:30pm Pacific Time (8:30pm ET), registration 6:00pm PT (9:00pm ET) presentation and audience Q&A 7:00pm PT (10:00 pm PT), presentation concludes Note: Speech and audience Q&A will be live streamed at @sffed.
News Article | April 27, 2016
Just four years ago, few people would have thought it possible. On November 29, 2012, New York City’s fast food workers took to the streets to demand fair pay. It was the beginning of a movement dubbed "Fight for $15." The employees earned anywhere from $7.50 to $8.50, which put them below the poverty line. Though the protests received national coverage, many thought such a drastic wage increase to be a pipe dream. And, indeed, according to the New York Times' coverage of the event four years ago, only "several dozen protestors" were on the streets. Now things are changing. Earlier this month New York State’s legislature passed a plan that would raise New York City’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018, and have the rest of the state’s minimum hourly wage rise to at least $12.50. Similarly, California passed a new minimum wage bill, which will have the entire state seeing a boost to $15 an hour by 2022. Of course, New York and California aren't the most representative of all the other states. For one, both San Francisco and New York City are some of the most expensive cities in the country to live in. Thus, low-paid workers in these locales are in more urgent need of reform. More, both states have been known to pass more progressive laws. California, for instance, is one of the few states that offers state-wide paid family leave for private sector employees, and New York is actively pushing for similar legislation. Do these momentous changes mean the entire country will follow suit? Experts, advocates, and pundits are divided. At the very least, however, widespread minimum wage reform is on the horizon. What it will take to enact such widespread changes remains to be seen. Paul Sonn, general counsel at the National Employment Law Project (NELP), which advocates for policies that would impact the U.S.'s low-paid workers, thinks bills like New York's and California's are only the beginning. "Since the recession, there’s now a much broader recognition that paychecks for most of the workforce are not keeping up with growth and the cost of living," he says. Most Americans, adds Soon, are "economically insecure." Thus, organizations like NELP have been working for years trying to bring about change. The beginning, says Sonn, were grassroots campaigns like New York’s Fight for $15. But these have spilled over into a national conversation. Indeed Vermont senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders introduced legislation last year that would implement a national $15-an-hour minimum wage. Now that this issue is hitting the mainstream, experts are debating whether or not the hourly wage boost is both attainable and good for the economy. Some economists worry that making the big jump would hurt employers. For example, UC Davis economics professor David Neumark. In a letter written to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco he wrote, "the overall body of recent evidence suggests that the most credible conclusion is a higher minimum wage results in job loss of the least-skilled workers—possibly larger adverse effects than earlier research suggested." Additionally, Washington Post columnist Bob Samuelson foresaw an even bleaker future. If a drastic minimum wage increase were enacted, he wrote, "job losses would mount. Some companies would become unprofitable and shrink or close. Others would automate. Some startups would be scrapped." Bloomberg columnist and Stonybrook finance professor Noah Smith—who's delved into the subject more than a few times—sees a bunch of gray area. Enacting a federal minimum wage would create sweeping changes without solid proof of the effect. Instead, he feels incremental reforms—like New York City and California laws—will tell a fuller story about what impact it would have on employers. "When you do these local experiments," he says, "you get good information about how damaging a federal minimum wage is." Others combat this notion. Heather Boushey, the executive director and chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth—an organization that researches how inequality affects economic growth and stability—says that historically no increase in the minimum wage has led to "significant negative effects on employment." While naysayers point to potential job losses, she says that empirically this is not the case. Boushey adds that labor reform in the early 20th century also begot this kind of hysteria. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 not only was the first federal bill to create a minimum wage, but it also outlawed child labor. "Each of those policies had implications for employment," she says. Sure, taking 12-year-olds out of factories may have caused statistical job loss in the '30s, but redirecting them toward education led to objectively better conditions. While Sonn is heartened by recent moves, he continues to see the fight—as it stands now—as state by state. "The next wave is more states following New York and California," he says. Two things stand in the way of federal reform: entrenched politics and lobbies. The restaurant industry, for one, has made it clear that by and large it won’t support such drastic changes, as its business model largely rests on employees making income from tips. With a minimum wage hike, some restaurants may have to raise prices. More, misperceptions seem to cause a great deal of resistance. For one, some believe that the wage hikes would happen in one fell swoop. But as Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. wrote last August, all of the proposals would slowly introduce the wage hike, which would theoretically dampen the supposed blow. For instance, states could implement the changes first in cities with higher costs of living, and then slowly introduce the wage increases elsewhere over time. Additionally, raising wages would also provide likely provide an overall economic benefit. "We need to tamper all of [this criticism] with the enormous benefits that raising the minimum wage has for workers and their families," says Boushey. "It creates economic security, it boosts consumption." Sonn echoes this, pointing to a recent model made by UC Berkeley economists which says that higher minimum wages generate more consumer spending. Public opinion seems to be swaying toward their side too. According to a recent survey from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, 59% of all Americans favor a $15/hour minimum wage. With all of this, people like Sonn and Boushey are optimistic. But the fight for national reform has a ways to go—and it will likely transcend this election cycle. "Income inequality is the central economic issue," says Sonn. "In the next congress there’s going to be a lot of momentum."
News Article | December 9, 2016
SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has appointed Mary C. Daly executive vice president and director of Economic Research, the Bank announced today. In this capacity, Ms. Daly will oversee all research and analysis functions that support the development of monetary policy and that help further understanding of the economy nationally and globally. She succeeds Glenn D. Rudebusch, who will remain at the Bank as executive vice president and senior policy advisor. Ms. Daly’s appointment is effective January 1, 2017. In announcing the appointment, John C. Williams, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco said, “Mary has become one of the most respected economists in the Federal Reserve System over her 20-year tenure at the San Francisco Fed. Her extensive and deep knowledge of labor market dynamics, economic inequality, wages and unemployment has been invaluable to our monetary policy work throughout the financial crisis. This coupled with her outstanding leadership skills makes her an ideal choice to become our new Research director.” Prior to her appointment, Ms. Daly was senior vice president and associate director of Economic Research at the San Francisco Fed. She currently serves on the U.S. Congressional Budget Office Panel of Economic Advisers and is a research fellow at the University of Southern California Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics and at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Bonn, Germany. She serves on the Bank’s Executive Committee, the governance group in charge of strategic direction and policy for the Twelfth District, and chairs the Bank’s Diversity Council. She began her career as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in 1996 after completing a National Institute of Aging Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Northwestern University. Ms. Daly holds a Ph.D. in economics at Syracuse University, a master’s degree in economics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a bachelor of arts from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is a native of St. Louis, Missouri, and lives with her partner in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, with branch offices in Los Angeles, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Portland, and a cash processing office in Phoenix, provides wholesale banking services to financial institutions throughout the nine western states. As the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve System formulates monetary policy, serves as a bank regulator, administers certain consumer protection laws, and is fiscal agent for the U.S. government. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/sffed.
News Article | February 15, 2017
New Partnership Committed to Transforming Half-Mile Radius Around Transit Stations into Hubs of Opportunity CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - February 15, 2017) - L-Evated Chicago -- a new collaborative that will use existing transit to create hubs of opportunity -- today announced that Chicago was selected to join the Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC). SPARCC is a three-year, $90 million initiative that will bolster local groups and leaders in six cities in their efforts to ensure that major new investments in transportation, housing, health, and sustainability are made in ways that improve equity, health, and environmental outcomes for all residents. L-Evated Chicago is a diverse collaborative representing community-based and civic organizations, nonprofit policy and advocacy groups, community development financial institutions, and the City of Chicago. The collaborative is committed to transforming the half-mile radius around transit stations into hubs of opportunity and connection across our region's vast transit system. L-Evated Chicago views station areas as optimal locations for planning, programming, urban design, and development to address the region's deeply rooted disparities in racial equity, public health, and climate resiliency. L-Evated Chicago will align capital, policy, and programmatic resources with the unique interests and needs of communities. The SPARCC initiative chose L-Evated Chicago following a competitive application process in 2016. The collaborative has been awarded $1 million in direct grant and technical assistance funds over the next three years. Collectively, the six national SPARCC sites will have access to $70 million of financing and $14 million in additional programmatic support. The initial six SPARCC sites include: Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Memphis, and San Francisco Bay Area. These funds offer the opportunity to align and leverage several new local initiatives -- such as the City of Chicago's Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus program that leverages investment in downtown to support redevelopment in the neighborhoods; the City Treasurer's Chicago Community Catalyst Fund to invest $100 million in projects and businesses in underserved neighborhoods; and the Chicago Community Trust's new strategic focus on race and equity. "We have great community resources on the south side along the Green line. We have a vibrant arts and culture scene -- and nothing less than a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the Obama Presidential Library," said Ghian Foreman, head of the Washington Park Development Group and one of the eight groups that comprise L-Evated Chicago. "With the SPARCC initiative, we will be able to reach further into our communities to make sure future investments build on and respect our existing community efforts and assets." In addition to neighborhoods within a half-mile radius of the Green line south, L-Evated Chicago will focus its outreach and development efforts on communities near the Green line west, Blue line northwest, and Pink line southwest. "Chicago's long history of racial and economic segregation is no secret, and past investment decisions and policies have too often reinforced that segregation," said Juan Carlos Linares, executive director of Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA), a member of L-Evated Chicago. "By working both within and across our communities -- and leveraging our transit system to enhance and connect our efforts -- our SPARCC collaboration with community stakeholders will serve as an important tool to reverse that legacy and advance a more equitable and prosperous Chicago." Other members of L-Evated Chicago include: The Chicago Community Trust, where the initiative will be housed; Enterprise Community Partners Chicago and IFF, both local nonprofit lenders; Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Metropolitan Planning Council, leading policy and planning groups; University of Chicago Arts and Public Life, an arts and culture community partner; and the City of Chicago Department of Public Health. "In the past, policy, programmatic, and site-specific decisions about how and where to invest have been done in silos and all too often led to deeper poverty, disinvestment, and health risks for people of color and low-income communities," said Dr. Julie Morita, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. "This is a critical moment when significant health, transit, and real estate investments are coming, or are already underway, and people of all races and incomes can benefit. We are excited to have Chicago as one of the SPARCC sites and look forward to seeing the results of these efforts to positively impact our city." "The threats from climate change are being borne largely by low-income people and communities of color," said Shelley Poticha, director of urban solutions at the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the national partners of SPARCC. "If we continue business as usual, health and economic disparities like this will continue to grow. Our SPARCC cities and regions are helping to change that by creating a vision of opportunity that takes community revitalization to a new level." In addition to funding support, each SPARCC site has access to an extensive learning network and advisory services from a range of experts to help advance local efforts. SPARCC is an initiative of Enterprise Community Partners, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Low Income Investment Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, with funding support from the Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and The California Endowment. Long term, SPARCC's intention is for other cities, communities, and regions to adopt similar approaches to achieving more just economic, health, and environmental outcomes, using the success of SPARCC sites as a model. About L-Evated Chicago L-Evated Chicago is a partnership of organizations committed to transforming the half-mile radius around transit stations into hubs of opportunity and connection across our region's vast transit system. We view station areas as the optimal location for planning, programming, urban design and development to converge to address the region's deeply rooted disparities in racial equity, public health, and climate resiliency. L-Evated Chicago's founding partners are: The Chicago Community Trust, Enterprise Community Partners Chicago, IFF, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Metropolitan Planning Council, City of Chicago Department of Public Health, Latin United Community Housing Association, Washington Park Development Group, and Arts + Public Life. About SPARCC The Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge -- or SPARCC -- is supporting local efforts to make sure that everyone benefits from major new investments in the places we live, work, and play. By supporting locally driven initiatives, SPARCC aims to improve equity, health, and environmental outcomes to positively shape our cities and regions for generations. SPARCC is an initiative of Enterprise Community Partners, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Low Income Investment Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, with funding support from the Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and The California Endowment. For more information on SPARCC and the selected jurisdictions, please visit sparcchub.org.
News Article | February 28, 2017
Against the backdrop of the longest winning streak in thirty years on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which nudged up a touch more to 20,837.44 by yesterday’s close and less than a percent off breaching the 21,000 theshold, all eyes are firmly on Donald Trump’s first appearance before Congress this evening. One wonders if the rally built up to date will fizzle out or possibly reach new heights. A day after the Dow extended its winning streak to twelve straight trading sessions - the longest in 30 years - US futures appeared a little flat prior to the open this Tuesday. The US index of blue-chip companies is now up some 26% over the past one year and a tad over 2,000 points (+10.7%) to the good since the US presidential election took place in early November. But big questions centre on how will Trump’s appearance before Congress go and will investors continue to tolerate all talk but not much detail? In addition to the U.S. President, three Federal Reserve officials are scheduled to appear through the day in Washington, D.C. The sustainability of this rally in the near term may well rest on how Trump performs this evening and whether promises of big spending and phenomenal tax reforms are accompanied by any insight into what they will actually entail. “Trump’s words, while lacking few if any actual details, have so far been effective in getting investors pumped up at the prospect of a stronger economy,” said Craig Erlam, a senior Market Analyst at OANDA, a multi-asset brokerage that has offices in eight major financial centers and clients in over 100 countries. The London-based analyst added: “But the longer this goes on, the less effective these promises are going to become and higher the risk is that the rally will run out of steam.” He could have a point there and in recent month I have written on irrational exuberance and the so-called equity 'melt-up'. From what we do know, just this Monday Trump told the National Governors Association meeting at the White House in Washington that that he would propose additional spending on public safety, including more initiatives directed at stopping illegal immigration. He certainly wants to 'Make America Great Again', as he espoused in his campaign, and that is exactly what he says he intends to do. On top of that the New York-born billionaire promised a big statement on infrastructure in the speech to Congress today and revealed he would call for extra investment to rebuild old roadways and airports as well as cut taxes. One could probably also throw bridges across America that are in need of repair going by the state of play on that front. As outlined to the governors he is also expected to discuss his plan to increase military spending by nearly 10% or $54 billion (c.£43bn) in 2018, offset by equal cutbacks in non-defense spending that are likely to include substantial reductions in foreign aid. That news helped to give the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and UK’s FTSE 100 a lift yesterday. It’s probable too that the 45th U.S. President will reiterate some of the comments made in a speech at Conservative Political Action Conference last Friday in Maryland. At this gathering he stated that: “We will reduce taxes. We will cut your regulations. We will support our police. We will defend our flag. We will rebuild our military. We will take care of our great, great veterans.” The last few sessions may have seen the Dow extend its winning streak but the gains have been paltry. Yesterday it rose a little over 15 points - equivalent to 0.08%. And, the market may well already be “experiencing Trump fatigue” as OANDA’s Erlam contended. He added: “Now he is in a position where he must deliver, and in a big way, or markets could quite quickly turn against him. I think Trump fully intends to deliver on the substantial promises and therefore in the longer term, these levels may be justified. The risk is that he is unable to do so as quickly as he hoped at which point doubt will set in and markets may be preparing for the prospect of that a little in recent days.” While Trump’s appearance today is the clear stand out event, there are a number of others that could have an impact on the markets prior to this. Three Fed policy makers are due to appear throughout the day. Only one of which though, Patrick T. Harker, current President of Federal Reserve of Philadelphia, is a voting member on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) this year. The other two, namely John C. Williams, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, are both be voters over the next couple of years and have insight and a voice in the discussions. “Most policy makers have broadly stuck to the same line over the last couple of months, that a hike sooner rather than later will be appropriate, while offering little insight on when exactly that would be referring to,” posited Erlam. He added: “Market pricing would suggest that means May or June  although the latter would make three hikes this year - as per the Fed’s own forecasts - very difficult." The next FOMC meeting is a 2-day affair scheduled for 14-15 March, which will be associated with a Summary of Economic Projections and a press conference by chair Janet Yellen. And, according to data from Reuters the probability of an interest rate hike of 0.25% (25 basis points(bps)) the FOMC’s upcoming gathering this March is put at 34.3% - versus ‘No Change’ (65.7%). The picture is similar when looking at CME Group’s FedWatch tool and Fed funds futures probability tree calculator. The CME’s data probabilities of possible Fed Funds target rates are based on Fed Fund futures contract prices assuming that the rate hike is 25 bps and that the Fed Funds Effective Rate (FFER) will react by a like amount. There is also a host of economic data due out today. The stand out releases on this front centre on US gross domestic product (GDP), consumer spending and oil inventories. These include the second release of US fourth quarter GDP, which is expected to be revised up slightly from 1.9% to 2.1%. There is also the Conference Board (CB) Consumer Confidence data as well as some other lower level releases. Having declined moderately in January 2017, the CB Consumer Confidence index rose this February, and now stands at 114.8 (1985 = 100), up from 111.6 in January. A CB consumer confidence reading that is stronger than forecast is generally supportive (i.e. bullish) for the US dollar, while a weaker than forecast reading is generally negative (bearish) for the greenback. Then later this evening, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the national trade association representing all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry with over 625 corporate members, will report its inventory figures for last week. The last few of these have been fairly consistent with the number from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which was released on Wednesday. As at 11.59am (EST) in New York today the Dow Jones was barely changed from Monday’s close and stood at 20,834.51, off by 2.93 points or a mere -0.01%. Watch this space.
News Article | April 6, 2016
Despite the allure of apps and social media, today’s digital technologies are doing little to generate the kind of prosperity that previous generations enjoyed, a prominent economist argues. But that doesn’t mean we should give up on innovation. In a three-month period at the end of 1879, Thomas Edison tested the first practical electric lightbulb, Karl Benz invented a workable internal-combustion engine, and a British-American inventor named David Edward Hughes transmitted a wireless signal over a few hundred meters. These were just a few of the remarkable breakthroughs that Northwestern University economist Robert J. Gordon tells us led to a “special century” between 1870 and 1970, a period of unprecedented economic growth and improvements in health and standard of living for many Americans. Growth since 1970? “Simultaneously dazzling and disappointing.” Think the PC and the Internet are important? Compare them with the dramatic decline in infant mortality, or the effect that indoor plumbing had on living conditions. And the explosion of inventions and resulting economic progress that happened during the special century are unlikely to be seen again, Gordon argues in a new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth. Life at the beginning of the 100-year period was characterized by “household drudgery, darkness, isolation, and early death,” he writes. By 1970, American lives had totally changed. “The economic revolution of 1870 to 1970 was unique in human history, unrepeatable because so many of its achievements could happen only once,” he writes. The book attempts to directly refute the views of those Gordon calls “techno optimists,” who think we’re in the midst of great digital innovations that will redefine our economy and sharply improve the way we live. Nonsense, he says. Just look at the economic data; there is no evidence that such a transformation is occurring. Indeed, productivity growth, which allows companies and nations to expand and prosper—and, at least potentially, allows workers to earn more money—has been dismal for more than a decade. Although it might seem as though a lot of innovation is going on, “the [productivity] slowdown is real,” John Fernald, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, told me. In a recent paper, Fernald and his colleagues traced the sluggishness back to around 2004 and found that the last five years saw close to the slowest productivity growth ever measured in the United States (the data go back to the late 1800s). And Fernald says technology and innovation are “a big part of the story.” Some techno optimists have argued that the full benefits of apps, cloud computing, and social media are not showing up in the economic measurements. But even if that’s true, their overall effect is not all that significant. Fernald found that any growth spurred by such digital advances has been inadequate to overcome the lack of broader technological progress. Gordon is not the first economist to be unimpressed by today’s digital technologies. George Mason University’s Tyler Cowen, for one, published The Great Stagnation in 2011, warning that apps and social media were having limited economic impact. But Gordon’s book is notable for contrasting today’s slowdown with the radical and impressive gains of the first three-quarters of the century. Over the course of more than 750 pages, he describes how American lives were changed by everything from the electrification of homes to the ubiquity of household appliances to the construction of extensive subway systems in New York and other cities to medical breakthroughs such as the discovery of antibiotics. In some ways, though, the most compelling and ominous story is the one that Gordon tells through the numbers. Economists typically define productivity as how much workers produce in an hour. It depends on the contributions of capital (such as equipment and software) and labor; people can produce more if they have more tools and more skills. But improvements in those areas don’t account for all productivity increases over time. Economists chalk up the rest to what they call “total factor productivity.” It’s a bit of a catchall for everything from new types of machines to more efficient business practices; but, as Gordon writes, it is “our best measure of the pace of innovation and technical progress.” Between 1920 and 1970, American total factor productivity grew by 1.89 percent a year, according to Gordon. From 1970 to 1994 it crept along at 0.57 percent. Then things get really interesting. From 1994 to 2004 it jumped back to 1.03 percent. This was the great boost from information technology—specifically, computers combined with the Internet—and the ensuing improvements in how we work. But the IT revolution was short-lived, argues Gordon. Today’s smartphones and social media? He is not overly impressed. Indeed, from 2004 to 2014, total factor productivity fell back to 0.4 percent. And there, he concludes, we are likely to remain, with technology progressing at a rather sluggish pace and confining us to disappointing long-term economic growth. These numbers matter. Such lackluster productivity growth precludes the kind of rapid economic expansion and improvements in the standard of living that Gordon describes happening in the mid-20th century. The lack of strong productivity to fuel economic growth—combined with what Gordon calls the “headwinds” facing the country, such as rising inequality and sagging levels of education—helps explain the financial pain felt by many. For most Americans, wages are just not keeping up. Except for the very top earners, real incomes actually shrank between 1972 and 2013. And it’s not going to get any better, says Gordon. He predicts that median disposable income will grow at a bleak 0.3 percent per year through 2040. No wonder so many Americans are upset. They sense they will never be as financially secure as their parents or grandparents—and, even more troubling to some, that their children will also struggle to get ahead. Gordon is telling them they are probably right. If robust economic progress in the first half of the 20th century helped create a national mood of optimism and faith in progress, have decades of much slower productivity growth helped create an era of malaise and frustration? Gordon provides little insight into that question, but there are clues all around us. Anger over the economy is certainly manifesting itself in the current presidential election. The leading Republican candidate is pledging, somewhat abstractly, to “make America great again,” and vaguely similar sentiments reflecting nostalgia for past prosperity are being echoed in the Democratic campaigns—particularly in Bernie Sanders’s economic plan that purports to achieve productivity growth of 3.1 percent, a level not seen in decades. There are also hints that the long-term lack of economic growth is affecting some Americans in insidious ways. Late last year, economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, both at Princeton, described a disturbing trend between 1999 and 2013 among white men aged 45 to 54: an unprecedented rise in morbidity and mortality that reversed years of progress. This group of Americans was experiencing more suicides, drug poisonings, and alcoholism. The reasons are uncertain. But the authors did cautiously offer one possibility: “After the productivity slowdown in the early 1970s, and with widening income inequality, many of the baby-boom generation are the first to find, in midlife, that they will not be better off than were their parents.” Speculating on how the lack of economic progress has affected the mood of the country is risky. Intense political anger has also broken out during periods of strong growth, such as the 1960s. And today’s economic morass cannot be blamed entirely on poor productivity growth, or even on inequality. Still, could it be that a lack of technological progress is dooming us to a troubled future, even at a time when we celebrate our newest gadgets and digital abilities—and make heroes of our leading technologists? How do you know? While Gordon’s willingness to speculate about what lies ahead is one of the strengths of his book, his blanket skepticism about today’s technologies often sounds unjustified, even arbitrary. He dismisses such digital advances as 3-D printing, artificial intelligence, and driverless cars as having limited potential to affect productivity. More broadly, he ignores the potential impact of recent breakthroughs in gene editing, nanotechnology, neurotechnology, and other areas. You don’t have to be a techno optimist to think that radical and potentially life-changing technologies are not a thing of the past. In “Is Innovation Over?” Tyler Cowen acknowledges the “stagnation in technological progress” but concludes there are ample reasons to be hopeful about the future. Cowen told me: “There are more people working in science than ever before, more science than ever before. In [artificial intelligence], biotechnology, and [treatments] for mental illnesses, you could see big advances. I’m not saying it is going to happen tomorrow—it may be 15 to 20 years from now. But how could you possibly know it won’t happen?” In some ways, Gordon’s book is a useful counter to the popular view that we’re in the midst of a technology revolution, says Daron Acemoglu, an economist at MIT. “It’s a healthy debate,” he says. “The techno optimists have had too much of a run without being challenged.” Yet, says Acemoglu, it’s hard to accept Gordon’s argument that we’re seeing a slowdown in innovation: “It may well be that these innovations haven’t translated into productivity. But if you look at just the technologies that have been [recently] invented and are close to being implemented over the next five to 10 years, they are amazingly rich. It is just very hard to think we’re in an age of paucity of innovation.” And, says Acemoglu, “to project even further into the future that we’re not going to translate these innovations into productivity growth is not an easy argument to make.” One of the limitations of Gordon’s book, says Acemoglu, is that it doesn’t explain the origins of innovation, treating it like “manna from heaven.” It is “easy to say productivity comes from innovation,” says Acemoglu. “But where does innovation come from, and how does it affect productivity?” Better answers to such questions could help us not only to understand how today’s technical advances might boost the economy but also to make sure we implement these technologies in ways that maximize their economic benefits. Whether we’re doomed to a future of dismal technological progress, and hence tough economic times, will be at least partially determined by how we utilize innovation and share the benefits of technology. Do we invest in the infrastructure that will make the most of driverless cars? Do we provide access to advanced medicine for a broad portion of the population? Do we provide new digital tools to the growing segment of the workforce with service jobs in health care and restaurants, allowing them to be more productive employees? Gordon could be right; the great inventions of the late 1800s changed lives to an extent that will never be matched. Nor will many of the circumstances that were so conducive to economic progress during that era be seen again. But if we can better understand the potential of today’s innovations—remarkable in themselves—and create the policies and investments that will allow them to be fully and fairly implemented, we will at least have a fighting chance of achieving robust economic progress again.
News Article | February 17, 2017
Kount Inc., a leading innovator of solutions for fraud and risk management, today announced that CEO Brad Wiskirchen delivered the closing keynote address at Utah State University’s 2017 Data Analytics Conference, Utah's largest and only comprehensive data analytics seminar. Addressing an audience of 250 working professionals across the technology analytics industry and 150 graduate students, Wiskirchen discussed the advancements Kount has made in machine learning to detect fraud, as well as the future of machine learning and analytics. For more than a decade, Kount has employed artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques to help businesses accurately detect and prevent fraudulent activity as it occurs in real-time. With a legacy of AI technology and an expanding portfolio of intellectual property, Kount has offered greater intelligence and insights to help inform decisions about fraud mitigation and growth strategies. “One of the greatest industry challenges is not procuring more data, but sorting and analyzing available data to make strategic decisions,” said Wiskirchen. “As cybersecurity and fraud remain a critical concern, it’s necessary for businesses to implement comprehensive solutions that include a combination of patented, proprietary technology, vast amounts of data, machine learning, and human intelligence to best combat fraud.” In addition to leading Kount, Wiskirchen is a member of the High-Level Advisory Group of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Interdepartmental Working Group on Finance and Technology (IDWGFT), working with renowned financial technology thought leaders to inform and guide the IMF’s research on the economic and regulatory implications of changes brought by advancements in FinTech. Wiskirchen also currently serves on the Marriott School of Management’s National Advisory Council, is the co-founder and former Chair of the Idaho Software Employers Alliance, and has held board and leadership positions with the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Boise State University Office of Technology Transfer, the Intermountain Venture Forum, and many other organizations. He previously served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Salt Lake City Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Kount helps businesses boost sales by reducing fraud. Our all-in-one, SaaS platform simplifies fraud detection and helps online businesses accept more orders. Kount’s turnkey fraud platform is easy-to-implement and easy-to-use. Kount’s proprietary technology has reviewed billions of transactions and provides maximum protection for some of the world’s best-known brands. Merchants using Kount can accept more orders from more people in more places than ever before. For more information about Kount, please visit http://www.kount.com.
News Article | December 14, 2016
Kount Inc., a leading innovator of solutions for fraud and risk management, today announced that CEO Brad Wiskirchen has been appointed to the High-Level Advisory Group of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Interdepartmental Working Group on Finance and Technology (IDWGFT). Wiskirchen will be working with renowned financial technology thought leaders from around the world to inform and guide the IMF’s research on the economic and regulatory implications of changes brought by advancements in FinTech. Topics the group will address include FinTech’s impact on markets and intermediaries; implications for regulation; international coordination of FinTech products; and balancing stability and efficiency within the industry, among other issues. The IDWGFT research will be then shared among IMF staff in the spring of 2017. “I am honored and excited to work with the International Monetary Fund by joining an esteemed group of industry leaders to help address the challenges and issues brought by the rapidly developing financial technology sector,” said Wiskirchen. “The opportunities and challenges of FinTech are evolving faster than the regulations and institutional responses to them. Drawing upon my experiences with Kount, I look forward to serving this group and identifying more ways that technology companies can collaborate with international organizations and governments to balance stability with innovation.” Wiskirchen’s appointment to the IDWGFT advisory group follows his participation in IMF’s 2016 Spring Meetings earlier this year. On a panel titled "Digital Disruptions to the Financial System: Opportunities and Threats,” he and other thought leaders discussed how the rapid rise of cyber risks and their potential to disrupt global financial stability have elevated cybersecurity to a top policy priority, as well as how the financial sector can respond to potential disruptions. Among his many industry and community involvements, Wiskirchen was the Chairman of the Board of the Salt Lake City Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in 2014 and 2015. He was a member of that board for three years prior to serving as the Chairman. Wiskirchen also currently serves on the Marriott School of Management’s National Advisory Council, he is the co-founder and former Chair of the Idaho Software Employers Alliance, and has held board and leadership positions with the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Boise State University Office of Technology Transfer, the Intermountain Venture Forum, and many other organizations. About Kount Kount helps businesses boost sales by reducing fraud. Our all-in-one, SaaS platform simplifies fraud detection and helps online businesses accept more orders. Kount’s turnkey fraud platform is easy-to-implement and easy-to-use. Kount’s proprietary technology has reviewed billions of transactions and provides maximum protection for some of the world’s best-known brands. Merchants using Kount can accept more orders from more people in more places than ever before. For more information about Kount, please visit http://www.kount.com.