Private equity gets tougher… Solar energy has a long way to go… Hire a helper, online… Green lags most… We’re a giving nation

Deals for private equity getting tougher

Private equity firms are finding it harder to get access to capital for leveraged buyouts, according to figures from Standard & Poors. The amount of credit being made available for such deals has fallen by around 33% since February 2007, and this has been accompanied by a rise in the costs associated with borrowing money for such deals.

The Australian Financial Review reports the Bank of England recently likened leveraged loans to the troubled US sub-prime mortgage market, but bankers have rejected the comparison.

(For a lighter look at private equity, see today’s Mr Banker blog.)


Solar heating is a long way from mainstream

The budget measures to encourage Australians to take up solar power have a lot of work to do. New figures from the Bureau of Statistics show the use in New South Wales of solar energy is rare.

Of the 2.7 million households studied, only 2% of Sydney households use solar power. Almost half of the state uses air-conditioning and 80% use top-loading washing machines. Fans and electric clothes dryers were used in 30% of houses.


Hire a helping hand – online

For San Francisco folk, finding someone to give them a hand around the house is just a click away at the LaborFair website. Springwise says LaborFair is an online referral community for on-demand household labour that works because it cuts out agencies, giving the hirer a cheaper service and the worker a fatter pay cheque.

Workers post profiles, photos and a minimum of two references on Then all employers have to do is find someone who is available when they need them, and contact them directly to discuss the job.

Since good workers can land more jobs by building their online reputation, LaborFair encourages customers to post fair and honest reviews, including answers to questions like: did the worker show up on time, did he or she have the necessary equipment, were you able to communicate with the worker, and would you hire him or her again.

But it’s not only about the work. Springwise says LaborFair is busy connecting with worker centres, collectives, worker co-ops, microfinance institutions and faith-based organisations to create a network that will provide workers with additional training and support, as well as helping them find better paying and more consistent employment opportunities.


Australia lags in going ‘green’

Marketing magazine reports that Australia is lagging behind in the green movement. In Britain and the US, the biggest companies are going “green”, providing consumers with what they are asking for – products that do not harm the environment.

Tesco and Marks & Spencer in Britain, and Austin Energy in the US, have studied consumers carefully, then given them the green products and services they truly want. The customers’ needs have come first, which is the first law of marketing. These companies have green credentials.

What consumers hate is companies just pretending to be green. Being green will eventually be standard business practice, because of rising energy prices, growing pollution and extreme weather events.


Australians are more generous

Australians donations are rising faster than their salaries. Tax deductions for charitable donations by individuals rose 26% to $1.47 billion in 2005, according to the tax office, reports The Age.

Over the past 10 years, taxable income has increased from an average of $25,967 in 1996 to $37,709, a rise of 45%. But over the same period, the average annual value of gifts and donations claimed has more than doubled, increasing from $165 a person to $341 in 2005, up 107%.

Analysis by charity research group Givewell has found an additional 439,000 taxpayers made claims for gift deductions in the year. The proportion of individual taxpayers claiming donations for gifts and donations was 38% in 2005, compared with 35% in 2004.


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