1NVEST0R MAND1R1 maen SAHAM bener

belajar MANDIRI, akan JAUH LEBE SUKSES (SEJAK 210809)

ORANG KAYA bisa BANGKRUT (okb…b) : TIGER WOODS disebut-sebut :P 10 September 2009

Filed under: Investasi dan Risiko — bumi2009fans @ 7:05 am

Penagih Utang dan Melek Huruf Keuangan
Rabu, 27 April 2011 08:16 wib
okezone

TRAUMA tidak juga hilang setiap kali kata penagih utang (debt collector) disebut. Hal itu seperti rekaman video yang diputar ulang. Adi sebenarnya tidak berutang, dan dia pun bukan tipe orang yang suka berutang.

Tetapi, dia sempat berhubungan dengan penagih utang yang menyebabkan trauma.Adi ingat betul ketika dia dihubungi sekelompok orang yang mengaku dari bagian hukum suatu toko perabot rumah tangga yang mempunyai reputasi internasional.Mereka mengatakan Adi punya utang.Padahal,yang sesungguhnya terjadi adalah kealpaan petugas toko itu untuk meminta bayaran ketika ia mengirim dan memasang lemari pesanan Adi.

Adi yang sudah lupa dengan peristiwa itu akhirnya membayarkan uang tersebut.Namun, dia tidak habis pikir,kenapa harus memakai cara itu? Tidakkah ada cara yang sopan, bukan dengan ancaman? Cerita ini terjadi bukan di Indonesia, tetapi di Singapura. Akhir-akhir ini masalah money lender memang sedang ramai diSingapura. Masalah yang muncul dari para pemberi utang, yang mengenakan bunga yang amat tinggi dan menagih dengan kekerasan, memang sedang marak.

Bahkan terjadi di money lender yang resmi. Suku bunga dapat mencapai 25 persen per bulan! Cerita lainnya, Rini meminjam uang 10.000 dolar Singapura. Bulan berikutnya Rini tidak dapat membayar cicilannya. Akibatnya, dalam beberapa minggu, utangnya membengkak dua kali lipat.Ini bukan terjadi pada money lender gelap. Ini terjadi pada money lender resmi, yang berizin, seperti diberitakan di The Strait Times, 22 April 2011 silam.

Di Indonesia masalah ini muncul dengan meninggalnya Irzen Octa,nasabah suatu bank yang mempunyai reputasi internasional, bulan Maret lalu. Irzen diduga meninggal ketika dia berhubungan dengan penagih utang, terkait utangnya di bank itu. Padahal, Irzen Octa bukan orang sembarangan.Dia Sekjen Partai Pemersatu Bangsa (PPB). Muncul berbagai dugaan, bahwa praktik penagih utang dengan cara kekerasan memang menjamur di Indonesia.

Dengan politisi yang menjabat sekjen di sebuah partai pun mereka berani, bagaimana dengan orang biasa? Dengan sebuah bank bereputasi internasional saja itu dapat terjadi, bagaimana dengan bank kecil, atau bahkan money lender yang tidak punyai izin? Masalah ini tidak terbatas pada mereka yang pinjam uang ke bank atau money lender lainnya. Seperti yang disebutkan Gubernur Bank Indonesia (BI) Darmin Nasution,para penagih utang juga bekerja untuk berbagai sektor lainnya yang menggunakan sistem kredit.

Persoalan menjadi makin sulit karena di mana-mana, termasuk Indonesia, kegiatan pemberian kredit telah menjadi bisnis yang makin menguntungkan. Pebisnis makin suka memberikan kredit, karena kegiatan ini memberikan keuntungan yang tinggi. Sebagian dari mereka tidak takut peminjam gagal mengembalikan uang karena mereka tahu mereka dapat menggunakan jasa penagih utang. Mereka tidak mau menggunakan jalur hukum yang ada, karena mereka khawatir prosesnya bertele-tele dan prosesnya dapat lebih mahal daripada uang yang ditagih.

Sementara itu, sampai saat ini BI tidak mempunyai payung hukum untuk mengatur penagih utang. BI baru mengusulkan undang-undang untuk mengatur jasa penagih hutang ini. BI menyatakan akan melihat sistem yang ada di Amerika Serikat, yang melarang penagih utang datang ke kantor dan membatasi jam operasinya. BI juga menyadari bahwa salah satu sebab munculnya persoalan dengan penagih utang adalah tak terkontrolnya penawaran dan penggunaan kartu kredit.

Nafsu berutang ini bahkan makin dikobarkan oleh sebagian pebisnis.Gubernur BI memberi contoh, ada orang bergaji Rp7 juta per bulan tapi mempunyai tujuh kartu kredit berbeda. Gubernur BI menyadari bahwa ekspansi kredit ini merupakan salah satu penyebab terjadinya pinjaman di luar kemampuan. Yang dikatakan gubernur BI ini merupakan hal yang amat serius. Pinjaman di luar kemampuan ini sering pula di sebut subprime mortgage.

Ini semacam kasus yang telah terjadi di Amerika Serikat di tahun 2007, dan menjadi penyebab krisis global yang terjadi 2–3 tahun lalu. Adanya kasus orang menggunakan satu kartu kredit untuk membayar utang di kartu kredit lainnya dapat merupakan ilustrasi terjadinya subprime mortgage. Kalau dugaan gubernur BI ini benar,maka kita harus segera menangani hal ini. Kalau tidak, krisis global dapat bermula di Indonesia, seperti kasus subprime mortage di Amerika Serikat.

Oleh sebab itu, BI juga telah merencanakan untuk mengatur pemberian kartu kredit, untuk mengurangi kemungkinan terjadinya gagal bayar.Sementara ini pemberian kartu kredit sangat longgar. Lihatlah, betapa manis dan agresifnya bank menawarkan kartu kredit dan pinjaman. Para peminjam juga sering tidak paham dengan peraturan yang diberikan oleh bank. Peraturan sering ditulis dengan bahasa yang tidak mudah dimengerti dan dalam huruf yang kecil.

Petugas yang menawarkan kartu kredit pun biasanya juga tidak menjelaskan peraturan yang ada secara lengkap. Peminjam tidak diberi tahu bahwa mereka dapat dikejar oleh penagih utang bila gagal membayar.Mereka hanya mendapat cerita manisnya, tetapi kepahitan yang dapat dialami tidak pernah disebutkan. BI dapat pula mulai secara intensif memberikan kampanye dalam hal “melek-huruf keuangan”.

Masyarakat perlu paham segala risiko dari berbagai jasa keuangan.Setiap lembaga yang memberi utang diwajibkan memberi penjelasan yang lengkap pada konsumen mereka. Di alam demokrasi, konsumen mempunyai hak untuk mengetahui dengan lengkap mengenai setiap jasa keuangan yang dijual ke mereka. Dengan “melek huruf keuangan” risiko terjadinya subprime mortgage akan berkurang, dan risiko terjadinya tindakan kekerasan oleh penagih utang juga akan berkurang.

ARIS ANANTA
Ekonom
Selasa, 04/01/2011 14:50 WIB
Jual Rumah, Mantan Menkeu AS Rugi Rp 9 Miliar
Nurul Qomariyah – detikFinance

ternyata ilmu finansial dan ekonomi segudang pun tidak MENOLONG dari KERUGIAN … dunia memang penuh misteri … well, diversifikasi guna mencegah keserakahan tetap dibutuhkan seh 🙂

… kisah ini beneran bikin para fatalis menjadi gembira … bahkan para nihilis pun akan bersukacita… ternyata ilmu finansial dan ekonomi segudang pun tidak MENOLONG dari KERUGIAN … dunia memang penuh misteri … well, diversifikasi guna mencegah keserakahan tetap dibutuhkan seh 🙂

Washington – Investasi properti tak melulu menghasilkan untung besar. Termasuk yang dialami mantan menteri keuangan Amerika Serikat Henry Paulson saat berinvestasi properti.

Penasihat ekonomi mantan presiden AS George W. Bush ini harus rugi US$ 1 juta atau sekitar Rp 9 miliar setelah menanamkan investasi dengan membeli rumah mewah di Washington.

Sebagai penasihat ekonomi, Paulson memainkan peran penting di saat menghadapi krisis sektor perumahan yang sudah terjadi sejak akhir 2008 lalu sehingga menyebar menjadi krisis finansial.

Namun apa yang dilakukan Paulson terhadap krisis itu pekan lalu menjadi personal. Paulson diketahui menjual rumah 3 kamar di Washington, AS dengan harga berkurang hingga sepertiganya atau minus sekitar US$ 1 juta dalam jangka waktu 4 tahun.

Rumah bergaya villa dan berdekatan dengan mansion Wakil Presiden AS dan National Cathedrol itu pada 21 Desember lalu terjual US$ 3,25 juta. Paulson diketahui mengiklankan rumahnya seharga US$ 4,6 juta pada April, namun kemudian ia menurunkan lagi harga rumahnya menjadi US$ 4,15 juta,

Padahal menurut catatan pemerintah AS, Paulson membeli rumah itu pada Agustus 2006 silam seharga US$ 4,3 juta. Ini artinya, dalam 4 tahun investasi properti Paulson berkurang hampir US$ 1 juta.

“Bagian depan rumah menyerupai batu permata, berpikir tentang villa Provencal, akan memberikan jalan kepada interior yang tak terlupakan dengan hunian tiga tingkat dan area umum yang luas,” demikian bunyi iklan rumah Paulson seperti dikutip dari Reuters, Selasa (4/12/2011).

Paulson tampaknya menjadi salah satu korban dari ganasnya krisis sektor perumahan yang menjatuhkan harga-harga rumah di AS. Namun real estate adalah spesifik terhadap lokasi, dan harga rumah Paulson lebih buruk dari tetangganya.

Nilai rumah Paulson turun hingga 24,4% selama kepemilikannya. Menurut data perusahaan real estate CoreLogic, secara nasional, harga rumah tercatat turun 29,3% selama periode tersebut.

Namun menurut perusahaan real estate yang berbasis di Santa Ana, California itu, penurunan untuk wilayah dengan kode pos sama dengan Paulson hanyalah 5,6%.

“Ini mungkin hanya Paulson yang membayar terlalu mahal untuk rumahnya,” ujar Richard DeKaser, ekonom dari Parthenon Group.

Meski rugi dalam investasi properti, namun tampaknya nilai kekayaan Paulson tidak terpengaruh. Ia diperkirakan memiliki kekayaan hingga US$ 700 juta pada 2008. Sayangnya, Paulson tidak bersedia memberikan komentar atas penjualan propertinya. (qom/qom)
Rabu, 09/09/2009 15:49 WIB

Orang kaya yang bangkrut melonjak 75%

oleh : Berliana Elisabeth S.

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg): Orang kaya yang masuk dalam daftar bab 11 kebangktrutan bank (Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings) melonjak 75% periode kuartal kedua 2009 dibandingkan tahun lalu.

National Bankruptcy Research Center, perusahaan riset di Burlingame, California menyatakan orang kaya secara individu maupun keluarga dengan utang berjaminan senilai US$1.010.650 dan tanpa jaminan senilai US$336.900 menggunakan Chapter 11 bankruptcy di AS.

Penurunan harga rumah di AS menyebabkan para orang kaya ini tidak mampu membayar kembali atau menjual propertinya ketika nilai kredit mortgage mereka terpuruk, kata Chicago bankruptcy attorney Joseph Baldi.

Chapter 11 lebih mahal dan memakan waktu untuk debitur dan kreditur daripada Chapter 7 mengenai likuidasi aset. Orang kaya yang masuk daftar kebangkrutan bank secara tipikal memiliki rumah besar, dua mobil dan anak-anak yang bersekolah di swasta, kata Leslie Linfield, executive director of the Institute for Financial Literacy di Portland, Maine, credit-counseling and research group.

Daftar rumah yang dijual senilai US$1 juta atau lebih naik 27,3% pada Juli-Oktober, menurut Zillow.com, web site yang mencatat transaksi real estate. Rumah yang terjual dengan harga diantara US$1 juta-US$2 juta turun 23% pada Juli 2009 dari posisi tahun lalu, menurut data National Association of Realtors di Chicago.

Aktor Stephen Baldwin, sebagai contoh dari orang yang masuk Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection pada Juli, masuk dalam penyitaan aset oleh bank. Baldwin, 43, memiliki aset senilai US$1,1 juta dan utang US$2,3 juta dalam daftar dokumen pengadilan kebangkrutan bank di White Plains, New York. Rumahnya seharga US$1,1 juta dan bank membelinya untuk pemulihan senilai US$1,2 juta dalam bentuk kredit mortgage, menurut data pengadilan.

“Saat ini banyak orang yang memiliki real estate, dan mereka tidak bisa menjaganya,” kata Baldi. “Mereka tidak dapat membayarnya, tetapi mereka juga tidak bisa menjualnya.”

Sekitar 4,3% rumah di AS, atau satu dari 25 properti, disita pada kuartal kedua 2009, menurut data Mortgage Bankers Association di Washington pada 20 Agustus. Ini merupakan data tertinggi sejak tiga dekade.

salah satu syarat pribadi saat gw mulai maen saham adalah JANGAN SAMPE BANGKRUT … sampe dengan hari ini gw bersyukur karena TIDAK BANGKRUT … di investasi reksa dana pun gw TIDAK BANGKRUT … malah gw bisa menikmati GAIN yang gw dapat baik dari saham mau pun dari reksa dana … itu karena minimal 2 strategi: diversifikasi (don’t put all your eggs in one basket dan gw menggunakan dana yang paling tersisa dan tidak terpakai … GAIN dari reksa dana sebagian kecil gw pake di maen saham, setelah terjadi gain baru gw ambil sebagian dah … aset gw yang laen, gw biarkan tumbuh sendiri, termasuk beberapa properti … gaya hidup gw masih tidak berubah, yaitu mempertimbangkan manfaat dan risiko … ekspektasi gw: sebelum mencapai jumlah aset tertentu besarnya, gw tidak akan jor-joran dulu … apalagi dari saham dan reksa dana ada selalu risiko penurunan nilai aset akibat imbas krisis keuangan global dll

bisnis.com

…. salah satu syarat pribadi saat gw mulai maen saham adalah JANGAN SAMPE BANGKRUT … sampe dengan hari ini gw bersyukur karena TIDAK BANGKRUT … di investasi reksa dana pun gw TIDAK BANGKRUT … malah gw bisa menikmati GAIN yang gw dapat baik dari saham mau pun dari reksa dana … itu karena minimal 2 strategi: diversifikasi (don’t put all your eggs in one basket dan gw menggunakan  dana yang paling tersisa dan tidak terpakai … GAIN dari reksa dana sebagian kecil gw pake di maen saham, setelah terjadi gain baru gw ambil sebagian dah … aset gw yang laen, gw biarkan tumbuh sendiri, termasuk beberapa properti … gaya hidup gw masih tidak berubah, yaitu mempertimbangkan manfaat dan risiko … ekspektasi gw: sebelum mencapai jumlah aset tertentu besarnya, gw tidak akan jor-joran dulu … apalagi dari saham dan reksa dana ada selalu risiko penurunan nilai aset akibat imbas krisis keuangan global dll … well, liat aja dah
… baca posting ini juga : https://transaksisaham.wordpress.com/2009/09/08/kebudayaan-real-time-inves-untuk-masa-depan/

Wealthy Families Face Bankruptcy on Real Estate Crash (Update1)
By Jeff Plungis

Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) — Wealthy individuals’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings jumped 73 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to the National Bankruptcy Research Center, a research firm in Burlingame, California.

More individuals or families with at least $1,010,650 in secured debt and $336,900 unsecured are using Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code typically associated with business reorganizations. Falling U.S. home prices leave them unable to refinance or sell properties when they drop below the value of the mortgage, said Joseph Baldi, a Chicago bankruptcy attorney.

Chapter 11 is more expensive and time-consuming for debtors and creditors than a Chapter 7 liquidation of assets. Wealthier people filing for bankruptcy typically have large homes, two car payments and children in private schools, said Leslie Linfield, executive director of the Institute for Financial Literacy in Portland, Maine, a credit-counseling and research group.

“You’re living on the edge, you’re juggling those financial balls,” Linfield said. “When one ball goes, they all fall down.”

Listings of homes for sale worth $1 million or more increased 27.3 percent in July from October, according to Zillow.com, a Web site that tracks real estate transactions. The number of homes sold with a value between $1 million to $2 million fell 23 percent in July from a year earlier, according to the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors. There was a 21-month supply, up from 16 months last year.

Expensive Real Estate

Actor Stephen Baldwin sought voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July after lenders began foreclosure proceedings. Baldwin, 43, listed $1.1 million in assets and $2.3 million in debt in documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York. His home is valued at $1.1 million and the banks sought to recover about $1.2 million in mortgage loans, according to court papers.

“There are a lot of people with real estate, and they can’t afford it,” said Baldi, the Chicago attorney, who is scheduled to speak to the American Bankruptcy Institute on Chapter 11 next month. “They can’t make the payments, and they can’t sell the house.”

About 4.3 percent of U.S. homes, or one in 25 properties, were in foreclosure in the second quarter, according to an Aug. 20 report from the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington. That’s the most in three decades of data.

Go to Zero

“Real estate is an incredible thing on the downside,” said Jason Green, a bankruptcy attorney based in Washington. “Equities can only go to zero. Property can go well below zero,” because of expenses such as property taxes, insurance and maintenance on primary residences, vacation homes and investment properties.

Congress amended the bankruptcy law in 2005, making it harder to file for Chapter 7, which allows debts to be completely discharged. Chapter 11 gives individuals time to make a plan to reorganize their finances.

Approval for National Football League quarterback Michael Vick’s Chapter 11 plan took almost 14 months of legal wrangling with creditors who submitted more than $19 million in claims. His bankruptcy docket, beginning in July 2008, includes 795 entries for motions, requests for hearings and transcripts. The plan includes a promise to pay approximately $2 million to his legal team and to devote a portion of Vick’s future NFL earnings to pay creditors.

The debt levels in the 2005 law prevent many higher-income people from filing Chapter 7, Green said.

“They’re locked out of Chapter 7, because they make a lot of money, and it’s a disaster,” Green said. “They’re in a netherworld, just hanging out there.”

Multiple Steps

Unlike Chapter 7, which may be resolved in a single hearing, Chapter 11 takes multiple steps, all of which can be contested, said Stephen Kass, a New York tax and bankruptcy attorney.

The process begins with the debtor’s request for court protection preventing lenders from seizing assets, Kass said. The plan to repay a portion of the debt during bankruptcy is also usually contested, he said.

There are meetings with the U.S. Trustee, which oversees the case, the judge and creditors. When a debtor moves to sell an asset, a motion must be filed and is likely to be contested, Kass said. An operating report is prepared each month, including the debtor’s activities, remaining debts, income, projections for the future and negotiations with other creditors, Kass said.

Chapter 7 cases may cost between $1,300 to $6,000 in legal fees, Kass said. Chapter 11 cases generally start at $15,000 and can easily grow to twice that amount.

“It’s a lot of hearings, a lot of paperwork,” Kass said. “Chapter 11 is really geared for the big boys.”

Credit Counseling

Before filing for bankruptcy, all consumers must see an approved credit-counseling agency. An individual applying for Chapter 11 protection has 120 days to file a plan to repay a portion of debt, according to the Web site of the U.S. federal courts.

Rebuilding credit after a bankruptcy may take as much as five years of good payment history, said Ken Lin, chief executive officer of CreditKarma.com, a San Francisco-based Web site that allows consumers to monitor their credit scores. A secured credit card, which requires an upfront deposit, is a good way to start, he said.

Scores may actually improve because of the discharged debts, Lin said, but credit will still be difficult to get and will be more expensive, because most companies do a separate search for bankruptcies as part of their underwriting.

‘Penalty Period’

“There will be a penalty period where you’ll be under extra scrutiny,” Lin said. “A consumer should be prepared to be declined a lot.”

Bankruptcy may be used by some employers in hiring decisions. In the brokerage industry, the filing becomes part of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s “BrokerCheck” report, which may affect an investor’s decision on working with that broker, said Finra spokesman Herb Perone.

If consumers are using credit cards to pay utilities or groceries, it may be time to speak to a counselor, said Dianne Reichl, group manager at Greenpath Debt Solutions in Detroit. Other signs of trouble: taking numerous cash advances; paying one bill one month, another the next month; and falling behind on basic needs, such as housing and utilities.

“We’re seeing people who historically never would consider they were having a problem seeking help,” said Mike Croxson, president of Care One Services, a credit-counseling company in Columbia, Maryland.

dari situs lain:
Wealthy Families Face Bankruptcy on Real Estate Crash
September 2009
Wealthy individuals’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings jumped 73 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to the National Bankruptcy Research Center, a research firm in Burlingame, California.

More individuals or families with at least $1,010,650 in secured debt and $336,900 unsecured are using Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code typically associated with business reorganizations. Falling U.S. home prices leave them unable to refinance or sell properties when they drop below the value of the mortgage, said Joseph Baldi, a Chicago bankruptcy attorney.

Chapter 11 is more expensive and time-consuming for debtors and creditors than a Chapter 7 liquidation of assets. Wealthier people filing for bankruptcy typically have large homes, two car payments and children in private schools, said Leslie Linfield, executive director of the Institute for Financial Literacy in Portland, Maine, a credit-counseling and research group.

“You’re living on the edge, you’re juggling those financial balls,” Linfield said. “When one ball goes, they all fall down.”

Listings of homes for sale worth $1 million or more increased 27.3 percent in July from October, according to Zillow.com, a Web site that tracks real estate transactions. The number of homes sold with a value between $1 million to $2 million fell 23 percent in July from a year earlier, according to the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors. There was a 21-month supply, up from 16 months last year.

global edge:
Published: 3rd September 2009
Cayman Islands faces bankruptcy
The Cayman Islands, tax haven and overseas property destination for wealthy bankers and hedge fund managers is heading for bankruptcy according The Guardian.

The government is struggling to pay its own staff and government suppliers are not being paid. The situation has been made worse by the British government, which has overall responsibility for the island, refusing to bail out the country.

The Cayman Islands which is the 12th richest country in the world despite having a population of only 51,900, is now discussing raising taxes to balance the books. The most likely candidate is the introduction of a property tax.

It could also be bad news for Microsoft’s Paul Allen and golf champion Tiger Woods if the government decides to raise mooring fees as both keep yachts on the island.

Michael Jackson may face a cash crunch

Pop goes the King?

July 29, 2002 Posted: 5:01 PM EDT (2101 GMT)

Jackson (in June) “could use some good advice if he’d listen more,” says pal Gary Pudney. “He’s so insulated that he misses a lot of what the real world is.”

(PEOPLE) — On the surface, everything looks fine at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Elephants and giraffes still fill the private zoo, and visiting children get to ride the steam train and battle with water balloons in a custom-built fort. On any evening Jackson can invite pals over to watch movies in his 80-seat theater, complete with concession stand. Says friend Bryan Michael Stoller, an L.A. director: “‘Oliver!’ and ‘Boys Town’ are two of his favorites.”

Beyond Neverland’s gates, however, life is getting rough for the would-be King of Pop. His tirade in July against Sony Music chief Tommy Mottola — a cued-for-the-cameras tantrum in which he called Mottola “racist” and “devilish;” later that day he waved a picture of Mottola wearing horns — seemed bizarre even for Jackson, 43.

His most recent, six-years-in-the-making album, “Invincible,” sold some 2 million copies in the U.S. — about the same as the latest from Puddle of Mudd, a metal band. “Michael’s got to compete against the Britneys and the ‘N Syncs,” says former Spin editor Alan Light. “To 18-year-olds who control what gets played on the radio, Michael is someone their parents listen to.”

Beyond the blow to his ego, say sources, Jackson is fighting a very real, very relentless green monster: a growing mountain of debt that, while not a threat to bankrupt him, may cost Jackson some of his most beloved assets or force him to downsize his extravagant lifestyle. Neverland, for example, has a full-time staff of more than 50 employees. “I don’t know of another superstar that has higher overhead,” says TV producer Gary Pudney, a longtime acquaintance.

It could not have helped that Sony plans not to renew Jackson’s contract after the probable release of a greatest hits album. Many observers believe that by slinging mud at Sony, the singer hopes to squeeze a sweeter parting deal, perhaps by pushing the label to return Jackson’s extremely valuable master recordings — and the marketing rights that go with them — now instead of in several years, as stipulated in his contract.

“This is Michael trying to accomplish in the press what he was not able to accomplish in the negotiating room,” says a veteran music-business attorney. Says another industry executive: “This is a ploy, not a plight.” Charging Mottola with racism seemed particularly reckless and far-fetched; even the Rev. Al Sharpton, an African-American activist and a Jackson ally, distanced himself from Jackson’s accusation. Says former Fugee Wyclef Jean: “Tommy is one of my mentors.”

Business headaches

For Jackson, the Sony squabble is only the latest in a growing list of business headaches. He faces several lawsuits, including one for $12 million in allegedly unpaid fees by a South Korean financial management company that claims it arranged $200 million in loans for Jackson from 1998 to ’00. The company is seeking a court order to freeze Jackson’s Neverland assets. “Michael Jackson was — and is — a ticking financial time bomb waiting to explode at any moment,” the suit charges. Jackson’s attorney Zia F. Modabber calls the lawsuit “meritless.”

“He comes off in the media like a freak. Frankenstein generates more sympathy,” says a top music marketing executive
Jackson is also being sued for more than $20 million by a concert producer who oversaw two of his previous tours and says Michael reneged on a contract for a world tour last year.

Even a charitable impulse seems to have turned out badly: Jackson hoped to recruit other stars to join him in recording his song “What More Can I Give” to benefit September 11 victims. A little-known businessman Jackson enlisted to organize the project, F. Marc Schaffel, turned out to be a producer and director of gay porn videos; Jackson apparently abandoned his plan when advisers discovered Schaffel’s past. “Michael hires these people on his own and they turn out to be bad,” says a source close to him. “He has poor judgment. I don’t think he has a good sensor to figure out who is legit and what people’s motivations are. It gets him into trouble.”

Gradually Jackson’s misadventures are putting the squeeze on his wallet. The singer has assets of more than $800 million and may have about $200 million in debts, according to one source. If that’s accurate, relatively little of Jackson’s fortune is liquid — even though he is far from broke — and he dreads the possibility of having to part with any of his prize possessions. Among his most cherished: the rights to 251 Beatles songs he bought in 1985. Jackson and Sony currently co-own the rights to those and 300,000 other songs; few doubt that Sony would like to own all the songs outright. “Michael’s biggest fear,” says a source, is that Sony was “underpromoting the record to bring him to the point where he felt like he had to sell the catalog. Michael’s not selling the Beatles catalog. That’s not going to happen.”

What about selling the 2,700-acre Neverland outside Santa Barbara, California, estimated to be worth up to $50 million? “I can’t see that happening,” says longtime friend Kevin McLin. “It means so much to him.” Adds associate Pudney: “It’s a refuge from harsh realities.”

Image problems

Among those harsh realities are problems with his image. Many in the industry suggest that Jackson’s plastic surgeries, odd lifestyle and an estimated $15 to $20 million 1994 out-of-court settlement with a young boy who accused him of molestation have permanently alienated audiences. “He comes off in the media like a freak,” says a top music marketing executive. “Frankenstein generates more sympathy.”

Jackson’s Q ratings, a measure of celebrity popularity, support that: He is seen negatively by three times as many people as view him positively. That’s why you don’t see Jackson pitching products, says Steven Levitt, president of Marketing Evaluations/TVQ: Advertisers see him as “this runaway locomotive that’s going downhill rather quickly.”

Those close to Jackson say that image is unfair. At home “he’s a normal guy,” says movie producer Dennis W. Peterson, who is in preproduction for an animated film starring Jackson.

Sources say Jackson has full custody of son Prince, 5, and daughter Paris, 4 (his children with dental assistant Debbie Rowe, whom he wed in 1996 and divorced in 1999), who bounce into Dad’s meetings to ask him to read to them. “Michael is a great father,” says director Stoller, who is working with Jackson on a movie script. “It’s a very playful relationship. The kids have a good sense of humor and they tease him and he teases them back. But Michael can discipline them too.” Says Pudney: “Michael told me once that the reason he’s so involved with his own kids is because he’ll never have to be lonely.”

Meanwhile, Jackson’s onetime beloved buddy, Bubbles the chimpanzee, lives at trainer Bob Dunn’s ranch in Sylmar, California At 19, “Bubbles is an adult chimp and a wild animal,” says Dunn. “We don’t let him out to play.” Instead Jackson and his children visit the ranch to frolic with some baby chimps. “He still acts like a kid around them,” says Dunn.

Neverland regulars include Jackson’s parents, Katherine and Joe (who calls Michael “a good kid who deserves more than what he’s been getting”), and Michael’s pal Marlon Brando, as well as groups of disadvantaged kids who still come to play at the ranch. “Michael feels he’s been misunderstood,” says Stoller. “When you’re an adult in an adult body and you have kids as your friends who are not your children, it makes him very open to attack.” These days “he’s more sensitive to that. You have to be more careful when you hug a child.”

And, perhaps, more careful about attacking record executives in the heat of the moment. “He’s strong, he’s okay, he’s dealing with what’s going on,” says Jermaine Jackson, 47, of his brother. “He’s staying busy, writing songs. That’s his escape, to keep creating.” The current imbroglio, adds pal Kevin McLin, “is all about business. Once things are straightened out, everything will be back to normal.”

Samantha Miller, Champ Clark, John Hannah, Lyndon Stambler, Frank Swertlow and Rachel Felder contributed to this report.

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