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August 31, 2004

Written by Bob Meyer, Editor of BarterNews

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Barter Institute Aims To Educate Individuals & Businesses About Trade Exchange Management

Bentley Commerce Corp. (OTCBB:BLYC) has formed a “Barter Institute” to teach businesses and individuals how to start, manage, market, and operate a profitable trade exchange.

A team of five successful barter professionals, reportedly with a combined experience of 60 years in various facets of barter, will tour the country and provide a 4-day training event in ten cities over the next year. Once trained, the newcomers will use Bentley Commerce’s tools and technologies to build their own barter company.

Bruce Kamm, CEO of Bentley Commerce, elaborated, “Now that we have built the largest online trade marketplace with our VirtualBarter software, we are ready to teach...companies how easy it is to trade with one another over the Internet. The Barter Institute will enable these trading partners to rapidly begin trading with businesses from 76 independent trade exchanges that manage transactions for about 16,000 companies.”


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Frequent-Flier Miles for Starbucks Cards

The largest non-cash currency in the world, frequent-flier miles, now has another spendable conduit—Starbucks Cards in increments of $25 up to $250.

This is good news, because for the jet-lagged traveler nothing beats a strong cup of coffee. Travelers with lots of frequent-flier miles can use them to get that cup of coffee at Starbucks by exchanging their miles (or other points earned through various loyalty programs like restaurant meals or gifts) at Points.com.

Like most other points-exchange programs, customers will pay dearly when they trade their points, so it’s generally worthwhile to do a trade if you are leaving a program or have points you don’t expect to use. (But as we pointed out two weeks ago, 75% of frequent-flier miles are never used!)

Points.com has a big backer: InterActiveCorp, Barry Diller’s travel and e-commerce conglomerate. They bought about 20% of the company’s parent, Points International Ltd., in March 2003, and have an option to buy the rest of the company within three years.


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Two Of Hollywood's Most successful & Richest, Spielberg & Cruise, Are Bartering Services In New Epic

Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise are set to team up for what is anticipated to become the most expensive film every made. Paramount pictures has announced that the two Hollywood heavyweights will work together on an updated take on H.G. Wells’ science fiction classic The War of the Worlds.

The 1898 novel was adapted in a 1953 film, a TV series, and as an infamous 1938 radio broadcast by Orson Welles that convinced thousands of listeners that aliens had indeed invaded.

The budget for the film is set to exceed $201 million, which was spent on making Titanic. Both of the stars are bartering their time in exchange for 20% (each) of the film’s income.


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UCLA's Anderson Forecast Concerned About Higher Rates

UCLA researchers are worried about the Federal Reserve’s raising interest rates (for the first time in four years). They believe as the monthly cost of everything from car loans to equity lines-of-credit rises, consumers will pull back on some purchases and postpone others.

The Anderson Forecast sees two big risks:

  • Higher interest rates forcing indebted consumers to pull back on purchases, that in turn could easily trigger a wider downturn.
  • A national rate-caused “housing collapse and an attendant recession,” perhaps in 2005 or 2006.

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China The New Magnet For Foreign Direct Investment

A report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) determined that China eclipsed the U.S. in 2003, for the first time, as the biggest recipient of foreign direct investment.

The 30-member nations of the OECD, which include the world’s most highly industrialized, showed that net foreign direct investment (FDI) to emerging economies rose almost six-fold in 2003 to a record $192 billion, up from $31.7 billion in 2002.

Of that, China attracted $53 billion, slightly less than the year before, and $40 billion went to the United States. (FDI to the U.S. was down from $72 billion in 2002, and $167 billion in 2001.)


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Here & There...

  • While online business travel continues to expand, an on-going battle between the hotels and third party internet sites will only get fiercer. (We first reported on how hoteliers were hurting themselves by creating the potential for deep discounting in our December 16, 2003, Tuesday Report.)

    In mid-August InterContinental Hotels Group (3,500 hotels which include Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and InterContinental) announced they are yanking their hotels from the Expedia and Hotels.com sites.

  • The 78 million Americans who were 50 or older as of 2001 controlled 67% of the country’s wealth, or $28 trillion, according to data collected by the U.S. Census and Federal Reserve. What’s more, households headed by someone in the 55-to-64 age group had a median net worth of $112,048 in 2000. (Within five years, about a third of the U.S. population will be at least 50-years-old.)

  • Have you signed up to receive a summary via e-mail of the Tuesday Report every week? If not, go to the top of this issue (right hand corner) and sign up!

  • Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel in which 90% of employees receive stock options and less than 2% of options go to the top five executives, is concerned about FASB’s (Financial Accounting Standards Board) push to require the expensing of options...ultimately limiting their use.

    “Meanwhile,” Barrett revealed, “our competitors overseas continue to use options to attract the best and the brightest talent. Options are already drawing scientists from the U.S. to Asia. Even China is getting into the act, officially encouraging the use of stock options as part of its five-year economic plan...just as FASB is preparing to impede their use in the U.S.”

  • In March we reported how Accenture was helping major corporations sell large volumes of merchandise through eBay. Accenture has now decided, after a two-year effort, to shut down the venture because they couldn’t find enough major corporations willing to commit to using eBay for moving significant amounts of merchandise.

    EBay’s CEO Meg Whitman noted, “Unless we can deliver sales of $20 million to $30 million a year, it’s probably not worth their time from an investment point of view.”

  • Talk about a growth industry! In 1976 there were three channels devoted to the national distribution of sports: ABC, CBS and NBC. Today, add in Fox, ESPN, and other channels like Outdoor Life, the Golf Channel, TNT, USA, plus various digital channels and regionals. Sports programming in the last three decades has gone from a total of approximately 1,000 hours to well over 60,000 hours!

  • The Russian government expects direct foreign investment to double this year to $8 billion—its best performance since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Andrew Somers, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia says, “The number of CEOs from U.S. companies coming here this year is ten times what it was over the last decade.”

    At President Putin’s re-election in March his stated goals for the country included doubling the country’s GDP in the next ten years and the creation of a competitive market economy.

  • China’s $87-billion travel and tourism market is forecast to grow to $300 billion by 2014, which is why Barry Stenlicht, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide CEO says, “We can’t move fast enough in China.” Starwood is building two designer, W hotels. One in Shanghai the other in Hong Kong. (Marriott International has similar designs on that market. In January 1997 they had no hotels in mainland China; today they have 33.)

We welcome your comments, questions, and observations.
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