275  7TH Ave  7th floor New York , NY 10001                                                                                                                dcullinanecpa@yahoo.com

​                                                                                                                                                                                                     Chelsea / Lower Manhattan​​

​Daniel Cullinane CPA                                   p 848-250-9587                                                                                                                                     

Banking consumers had to dig deeper into their pocket again last year, as ATM fees climbed to a record high for the 11th consecutive year, according to the latest Bankrate.com checking study.The average total cost of an out-of-network ATM withdrawal is now $4.69, an increase of 2.6% from $4.57 last year. ATM fees soared 55% over the past decade, according to Bankrate, which has surveyed non-interest and interest accounts for 20 years.Consumers usually get stuck with two different fees when they use an out-of-network ATM: the surcharge assessed by the ATM owner on a non-customer and the fee charged by the account-holder’s own bank for using another bank’s ATM.

The average ATM surcharge reached a record for the 13th straight year, rising to $2.97 from $2.90 last year. The average fee charged by a consumer’s own bank for going outside the ATM network increased 3% to $1.72, also a new high, according to Bankrate.Consumers are dealing with other elevated fees related to bank transactions. After seeing a slight dip in 2016, the average overdraft fee has bounced back to a new high of $33.38, up from $33.04 last year. The number of banks that increased their fee outnumbered those who lowered it by seven to one.

Consumers in Pittsburgh are faced with the highest average out-of-network ATM fee ($5.19) of all the top 25 major metro areas, while those in Dallas have the lowest ($4.07). Patrons in Philadelphia are saddled with the highest average overdraft fee ($35.30), compared with San Francisco whose overdraft fees are the most lenient ($31.44 on average).

The survey group consisted of a total of 10 banks and thrifts in each of 25 large U.S. markets; one interest and one non-interest account, as well as their associated ATM and debit card fee policies were surveyed from 247 institutions offering checking accounts; 241 interest and 240 non-interest accounts were surveyed between July 27 and August 18, 2017.

Highest Average ATM Fee by Metro Area*

1. Pittsburgh $5.19
2. New York $5.14
3. Washington, D.C. $5.11
3. Cleveland $5.11
5. Atlanta $5.05

 

Lowest Average ATM Fee by Metro Area*

21. Cincinnati $4.30
22. Seattle $4.29
23. San Francisco $4.23
24. Milwaukee $4.19
25. Dallas $4.07

*Reflects both ATM fees combined (those charged by the ATM operator and those charged by the consumer’s own financial institution).

 

Highest Average Overdraft Fee by Metro

1. Philadelphia $35.30
2. Baltimore $35.25
3. Miami $34.68
4. New York $34.63
5. San Diego $34.22

 

Lowest Average Overdraft Fee by Metro

21. Seattle $32.20
22. St. Louis $31.85
23. Detroit $31.80
24. Boston $31.79
25. San Francisco $31.44



​BUSTED

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and its powerful e-commerce empire have long been a threat to retailers everywhere, but with its acquisition of Whole Foods this past summer, Amazon’s presence is even more pronounced. And Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) might be feeling the worst of this.

By adding brick-and-mortar locations, Amazon has given itself quite a few options for expansion, although its most recent focus has been entirely on the Whole Foods segment. First, prices were cut across the board for the organic grocer that has been previously called “Whole Paycheck.” Price cuts were by as much as 43%.

Jeff Bezos is no stranger to not turning a profit or to losing money. Years ago, Amazon was criticized for not posting profits, but critics quickly changed their tunes when the bottom line started showing up. It seems that he’s taking a similar strategy by lowering prices at Whole Foods to lure customers in and build market share, and of course with Amazon’s $450 billion market cap, the firm can absorb any losses that might come with it.

What’s important here is that after the Whole Foods acquisition — and the price cuts — foot traffic jumped by roughly 33% in the first week, according to the research firm Thasos Group. The firm also noted that Walmart regulars accounted for the largest percentage of first-time customers. During this week, 24% of new Whole Foods customers were previously loyal Walmart customers.

Separately, Thasos noted that smaller grocers such as Trader Joe’s and Sprouts saw fewer customer losses in this week, but these were larger than Walmart’s losses relative to their customer bases. To put some numbers to this, the firm said that Trader Joe’s saw about 10% of its regular customers go to Whole Foods, and Sprouts saw roughly 8%. Even Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) had about 3% of its customer base make it over to Whole Foods.

Finally, the research firm found that lower income-shoppers were not persuaded to travel into wealthy neighborhoods, where Whole Foods stores are most commonly found. But Thasos does believe that if Amazon should cut prices even more, it will find more of these lower-income customers making the trip.

Shares of Amazon were last seen at $959.50, with a consensus analyst price target of $1,153.60 and a 52-week range of $710.10 to $1,083.31.

Wal-Mart traded at $78.90. The stock has a 52-week range of $65.28 to $81.99 and a consensus price target of $82.44.

Target shares were trading at $59.70, in a 52-week range of $48.56 to $79.33. The consensus price target is $59.28.

​WHOLE FOODS

​The Department of Justice announced Friday the arrest of some 3,800 gang members across four countries, dealing a serious blow to the MS-13 transnational drug gang.

Operation "Regional Shield" involved coordination between law enforcement in the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The majority of the charges came in El Salvador: 3,477 criminal charges, resulting in 1,400 arrests. Some 70 people were charged in the United States in six different states: California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Virginia. In Guatemala, 284 were charged, and 12 in Honduras. Additionally, six firearms, 14 businesses, and 11 luxury vehicles were seized.

"Today, we are announcing that our partnership with law enforcement in Central America has yielded charges against more than 3,800 gang members just in the last six months," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. "MS-13 coordinates across our borders to kill, rape, and traffic drugs and underage girls; we've got to coordinate across our borders to stop them. That's exactly what our courageous and professional DOJ agents and attorneys are doing. We will continue to maintain this steadfast policy and dismantle this gang."

The charges have been almost eight months in the making. In February, President Donald Trump issued an executive order on "Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking." Decrying the scourge of transnational gangs as "drivers of crime, corruption, violence, and misery," Trump instructed federal law enforcement to give "high priority" and "sufficient resources" to combating transnational criminal cartels.

That executive order included an instruction that federal law enforcement coordinate more fully with foreign counterparts, prompting Attorney General Jeff Sessions to meet the following month with the Attorneys General of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. That meeting was meant to focus on how to "strengthen law enforcement cooperation against transnational criminal threats."

That meeting is where Regional Shield took shape, according to a brief provided to the Free Beacon. Sessions traveled to El Salvador in July, where he met with Salvadoran Attorney General Douglas Melendez and other law enforcement officials in a "transnational anti-gang task force."

Sessions and his Central American counterparts were motivated in large part by concern over the increasing threat of MS-13. "La Mara Salvatrucha," its full name, is primarily composed of Salvadoran immigrants or their descendants, according to information provided by the Justice Department. There are some 30,000 members worldwide, including 10,000 in the United States. The gang spread initially in Los Angeles, and now has what the Justice Department calls a "large presence" in New York, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., with members across a total of 46 states. It targets young people for recruitment, working in middle schools, high schools, and juvenile detention centers to secure buy-in from members at the youngest age possible. That recruitment has been at least somewhat aided by the flow of young, Central American immigrants across the border.

MS-13 has been a federal priority for far longer than the past eight months. After President Bill Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility law in 1996, many MS-13 gang members were deported back to their native Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—some 20,000 between 2000 and 2004, one estimate suggests. This move indirectly strengthened the gang, as they returned to their home countries and expanded operations there.

The Congressional Research Service suggested by 2008 that MS-13 was an "emerging transnational gang threat," noting that they were "engaged in criminal enterprises normally associated with better organized and more sophisticated crime syndicates." At the same time, the FBI established its Transnational Anti-Gang (TAG) Task Force—formerly called the MS-13 National Gang Task Force—which set up offices in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The Treasury Department officially labeled MS-13 a transnational criminal organization in 2012, the first American street gang to receive the designation.

MS-13 is infamous for its brutal, shocking tactics, epitomized by its motto: "kill, rape, control." The FBI counts "drug distribution, murder, rape, prostitution, robbery, home invasions, immigration offenses, kidnapping, carjackings/auto thefts, and vandalism" among MS-13's illegal activities.

It was MS-13 members who filmed and narrated the stabbing death of fifteen-year-old Damaris Reyes Rivas, an act which earned the cameraman a promotion. MS-13 members were behind the 2007 decapitation of a woman suspected of ties to a rival gang. And members were also responsible for what federal authorities called a "horrific frenzy of violence" in which four young men, one just sixteen, were brutally murdered with machetes, knives, and wooden clubs in a Long Island park.

Operation Regional Shield, the Justice Department noted, led to the indictment of 17 MS-13 members tied to that murder and eight others on Long Island, home to between 700 and 1,100 members.

Beyond its violence, MS-13 is a federal priority for its expansive illegal enterprise. Its transnational character contributes to a thriving trafficking business: MS-13 has been known to smuggle stolen vehicles, "high-powered military weapons," drugs (which the DEA considers a major source of income for the gang), and even human beings. Extortion of local business owners in the primarily minority communities MS-13 occupies is also a major source of revenue. Altogether, the gang takes in about$31.2 million a year.

It was in light of MS-13's spread, violence, and wealth that President Trump has made combatting the gang a major focus of his administration's law-and-order agenda. In July, he delivered a speech on Long Island in which he promised to "restore safety to our streets and peace to our communities" and "destroy the vile, criminal cartel MS-13."

"MS-13 is one of the most violent and ruthless gangs in America today, endangering communities in more than 40 states," Sessions said Friday. "But under President Trump's strong leadership, the Department of Justice is taking them off our streets."

​FEES

​OCTOBER NEWSLETTER 7