Prom dresses 2011 – market review

Only one week until Christmas! This is the best time to buy a prom dress.

The internet is the best source to find prom dresses 2011. Just look at the site

The variety of dresses is amazing: some short, some long, in an equal variety of fabrics. A prom-shopping spree should be fun and exciting. Anything in style sells quickly

The most important thing is to get a dress that’s comfortable and makes you feel pretty. You want to be able to dance with confidence and without worrying your dress will fall off. If you’re pulling it across your rear end or up or down because you feel too exposed, you’re going to be too busy to enjoy yourself.

Accessories also are a must: Shoes to match the color of the dresses, pearls, bold rhinestones or big and glitzy fake color stones to jazz up dresses.

Sometimes it is hard to decide if a certain dress is right for the prom or not. Some prom attendees even make use of high-priced professional help when it comes to making certain the prom experience will turn out just right. In fact, employing a personal shopper/image consultant has emerged as one of the “in” things for those kids with the financial wherewithal

Here some tips on who will best fit in today’s styles:

Long and lean: That’s appropriate if you’re, well, long and lean.

Short: That’s good for great legs.

Fit-and-flair: Great if you have a small waist because it accentuates the waist and camouflages big hips.

Baby doll: Cut in a way that any body type can wear them.

Ball gowns: Great if you’re the type of girl who wants to make a big entrance and wants to be remembered.

Loving life at the state fair

More than anything, I try to appreciate the little things in life. Sure there are lots of great big things that happen like welcoming a new baby into the world, but people don’t give enough credit for all the fun little things that happen too, like riding a ferris wheel and enjoying that moment of whirling around in the night air filled with laughter of other fairgoers.

That’s one of my favorite things about the state fair. Everyone just seems so happy there! So I started planning my trip to it a couple of weeks ago. I had not realized it was already time for the state fair. I was online comparing satellite internet vs dial up and came across an ad for the fair with the dates.

Even though I do love eating all that greasy and deep fried food at the fair, I just would much rather prefer spending my time riding the fair rides because I kind of live for the thrill of them. Plus, I don’t have to feel guilty about riding the rides afterward like I do about eating that food.

Financial data and bank reports

While it’s nice to know that your bank or thrift account is federally insured, many people don’t want to be in the position of having to fall back on that safety net.

But finding a safe haven for your deposits is not an easy task. First, don’t assume that the largest bank is always the safest bank. Known as the “too big to fail” doctrine, this theory dictates that if you stick to very large banks you don’t have to worry about their financial condition because the government won’t let them collapse.

Before you even start looking at an institution’s financial statement, look in the business pages and watch television.

Once you have the institution’s financial statements in hand, don’t panic over all those numbers. To get a good idea of a bank’s health, you only need concern yourself with three factors: whether the bank is making a profit, how much it is weighed down by problem loans and how much capital it has. You need to evaluate those three factors: profit, problem loans and capital.

Banks need to offer more information to investors and bank financial reports provide a better picture of a bank’s true health

Balance sheet and income data from thrift financial reports give you all information to insure your profitability.

A call report is a 30-page or more accounting summary, that requires knowledge of virtually your entire bank. Preparing the report is a difficult and time-consuming task. Staying up-to-date keeps your call report data complete and reliable.

Exhaust systems – market review

In recent years, many changes have occurred to impact exhaust system designs. Mufflers are larger and more visible from a cat’s rear. They are also longer-lasting because of stainless steel and aluminized steel.

Despite the use of improved materials, the slightest evidence of surface corrosion on exhaust systems can leave owners with a perception that these underbody components are of poor quality. As a result, automotive engineers have worked hard to specify more durable coatings and processes for exterior body surfaces. They are also demanding the use of black high-temperature coatings to hide shiny metal surfaces.

Basically,  exhaust systems can be divided into two parts, a hot and a cold end. The hot end includes the exhaust manifold, downpipe, and converter with a flexible coupling on some car models. The exhaust hot end is considered a part of the vehicle’s emission control system and as such comes under government mandated warranties. The exhaust cold end, which includes resonator, intermediate pipe, muffler, and tail pipe, has a durability or warranty target chosen by the carmaker. It is this cold end section of the exhaust which has seen the most dramatic upgrade of life expectancy and materials in the past years.

To maximize durability while minimizing component costs, U.S. experience has found certain design considerations practical. From the catalytic converter forward to the engine, exhaust parts normally remain hot and dry. The cold end exhaust components are located further downstream from the engine and converter heat sources. The lower exhaust gas temperatures lead to condensate formation, particularly in muffler / resonator components closest to the tail pipes.

Insurance industry listens, dial its hot lines

The insurance industry, responding to both consumer confusion and disaffection, has opened a telephone Helpline to field all types of insurance questions and some complaints.

“We feel this is an example of industry desire to improve credibility with the American public. And we felt a need for an industrywide program. We want to be more responsive to consumer needs,” said Harvey Seymour, spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, which represents property and casualty insurance companies.

The insurance industry endured a tough year in 1989, he said. California passed Proposition 103, which temporarily rolled back auto insurance rates. (The California Supreme Court since decreed that insurance companies have a right to make a reasonable profit.) Insurance was lashed in headlines ranging from “When an insurer fails,” in the New York Times in March to “Elderly urge Celeste to block increases in insurance rates” in The Plain Dealer in December.

And after shelling out $4 billion for Hurricane Hugo, the industry was hit with another $1 billion in claims from the San Francisco earthquake, Seymour said. Then Medicare catastrophic coverage was canceled and insurance companies were left scrambling again.

Increasing consumer concern and confusion were already being monitored by two insurance hot lines.

The insurance institute has operated one since 1981, “to make property-casualty insurance more understandable and offer unbiased information” said Seymour. Two years ago, the hot line received only 20,000 calls; last year, it logged about 70,000.

The Health Insurance Association of America maintained a hot line with the American Council of Life Insurance for 8 1/2 years; then went it alone after the council dropped out 1 1/2 years ago. The health insurance line has been fielding “lots of questions,” especially from older consumers, about such issues as Medicare supplemental insurance, long-term care insurance, and simply the meanings of words used in policies, said Melanie Marsh, hot line manager.

“A lot of our consumers are over 65 and may have been visited by three or four different agents trying to sell one type of policy. They call and tell us how nice the agents were, but that has nothing to do with the products being sold. They need lots of help to sort out the details,” said Marsh.

But callers often couldn’t distinguish one hot line from the other and many were frustrated when referred elsewhere, said Seymour. And the life insurance council was ready to renew hot line support.

“We felt an increasing need to provide assistance in a generic way, an increasing demand for attentiveness, in the last year,” said Henri Bersoux, spokesman for the life insurance council.

“The needs of the consumer are changing and the insurance industry is trying to adapt. Baby boomers are more concerned about loss of lifestyle than loss of life,” said Bersoux. And older policy owners are asking about cashing in insurance policies before death to avoid becoming penniless during catastrophic critical illness.

So on Jan. 1, the new insurance hot line was born to provide one-stop shopping for insurance information, and more comprehensive answers. In addition to the three major sponsors, a number of smaller insurance trade groups are supporting the hot line.

Free booklets covering answers to most-asked questions — and topics of great concern to insurers — will be sent, on request.

“And if we get a call from a consumer who is having an argument with an insurance company, we try to put the person in touch with a specific individual at the company,” said Seymour.

After Hurricane Hugo, the old insurance institute hot line quickly connected many people with their insurance company claim centers and “adjusters handled claims so promptly that many were hailed as local heros,” he said.

A sad revelation for many tenants after the hurricane, however, was that landlords do not insure tenants’ personal possessions, only buildings, he said. Tenant household insurance is vastly underused, even though it’s quite cheap, he said. While 95% of homeowners carry homeowners’ insurance, only 23% of tenants carry tenants’ insurance.

Good diet – way to good health and financial stability

Sure, we all want to look slimmer. But do we succeed? Or do we unconsciously add to our weight every time we get dressed?

An overweight woman is one who is more than 15 per cent heavier than her ideal weight, an excess that usually represents an increase in fat, not muscle. The problem can range from a slight tendency to put on a few extra pounds to a gross obesity that has gone out of control; but once a woman mani fests the trait to any extent, she must henceforth always consider herself as having at least the potential to be severely overweight. Weight control is a difficult issue for many Americans. The percentage of people in this country who’d describe themselves as being above their ideal weight is high enough that if you’re reading this, chances are you might like to shed at least a few pounds, preferably as soon as possible.

There is one weight-loss program that I can recommend. This is the homeopathic hcg diet. If you’re overweight and have no willpower, the hcg diet will appeal to you. Homeopathy is the second largest system of medicine in the world. Medicines are prepared from naturally occurring substances such as onions, sulphur and mercury. Instead of spending millions of dollars on developing new, strong, more glamorous drugs which carry the risk of dangerous side effects, the medical establishment should acknowledge the gentle healing powers of homeopathy.

Natural products have done extremely well in the marketplace in recent years as American consumers continue to seek out a healthier and simpler way of living. Homeopathic hcg drops are simple and comfortable way to lose your weight. Therefore many users and physicians report that hcg diet is quite effective. You can buy hcg online. Also regular exercise is the key to losing weight and good health.

Surviving the global credit cards shake out

The global cards industry is heading for domination by a few super-players. European banks are set to lose out unless they act soon with revolving cards.

The credit cards industry today is at what Intel president Andrew Grove calls a “strategic inflection point” – a point at which the fundamentals are changing. The world is headed for a US-dominated credit cards business as the industry becomes concentrated in the hands of a few super-players.

This was the key prediction emerging from Lafferty Group’s 11th International Cards Conference in Amsterdam earlier this month.

“The US credit cards industry is clearly the dominant force,” said Michael Lafferty, chairman and chief executive of Lafferty Group, unveiling a global research survey carried out by the Lafferty Group. “There is little doubt we will see concentration of the business among a few super-players based on current trend.”

Craig Stine, managing director of New York-based investment bankers Salomon Smith Barney agreed, adding: “I think that you could make an argument that there would be ten global players. I think that the wild card, at least in the US, is the consolidation of the banking business. That could take out a couple of the end-game players that may be merged. But clearly it will be the US model that will be the roadmap in terms of what will be the global marketplace in five to ten years.”

Last year witnessed a spate of acquisitions within the US credit cards industry with Citibank buying over the AT&T Universal cards portfolio; Banc One buying over First USA; Chase Manhattan buying the Bank of New York cards portfolio; and Fleet Financial buying over troubled Advanta’s portfolio. Following these acquisitions, the top five issuers now account for over half of total US credit cards outstandings.

The US accounted for 53 percent of the worldwide general purpose payments cards market in 2006, a year when the volume of business reached $1,890 billion through 970 million cards in issue. By contrast, Europe took only 17 percent of the world cards market. Of that only some 5 percent were actually revolving cards via the Visa/MasterCard acceptance marques. Of US cards, up to 86 percent were credit, with the remaining being immediate debit or deferred debit.

The US accounts for 77 percent of pure stand-alone credit cards with a revolving line of credit attached. “It is a most extraordinary dominance of the credit cards market worldwide by one country,” commented Lafferty.

As a result the leading global issuers of general purpose cards are now all American. Top issuer in 1996 was Citibank, whose outstandings were an estimated $68.5 billion, adjusted for the inclusion of the recently-acquired AT&T portfolio.

Next was MBNA with $35.3 billion, Banc One with $35 billion and Novus, now building its own global acceptance network, with $32.6 billion. Only one non-US bank issuer, Barclaycard of the UK, featured in the top 20 issuers, with 17.1 billion ($28 billion) in outstandings.

“Most of the big US players are using the UK as the litmus test. They’re trying to get it right,” said Salomon Smith Barney’s Stine.

“They have moved cautiously and I certainly have not witnessed any mis-steps in that regard. Going back to the Advanta example [US issuer which went down market and suffered losses], I think most players have learned from that particular issue and understand the risks they take. I think they will be cautious but aggressive.”

While conceding that tougher data protection requirements in Europe will present challenges to US issuers more accustomed to the widespread availability of detailed consumer data for marketing and credit scoring purposes, Stine does not feel it will stop US cards players from entering European markets.

“These companies have gotten very comfortable with the ability to access and manipulate information in the US and to be challenged in that regard really changes the whole chessboard outside of the US. I think that’s why they have moved cautiously. I do not think it will put the brakes on [expansion into Europe]. I think the pace of how they would grow would probably be slower,” he said.

The magnitude of the potential threat posed by US cards players is borne out by the poll at the Lafferty conference which showed that 57 percent of delegates agreed or strongly agreed that US-based cards super-players or US-led alliances will dominate globally, including in Europe.

The widespread perception is that many mainland European banks will turn to alliances and joint ventures to enter the revolving credit cards market. But unless continental European banks embrace revolving credit cards, most believe they will have missed the boat.