Friday, 31 July 2009

Big Banks Paid Billions in Bonuses Amid Wall St. Crisis

NEW YORK TIMES: Thousands of top traders and bankers on Wall Street were awarded huge bonuses and pay packages last year, even as their employers were battered by the financial crisis.

Nine of the financial firms that were among the largest recipients of federal bailout money paid about 5,000 of their traders and bankers bonuses of more than $1 million apiece for 2008, according to a report released Thursday by Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York attorney general.

At Goldman Sachs, for example, bonuses of more than $1 million went to 953 traders and bankers, and Morgan Stanley awarded seven-figure bonuses to 428 employees. Even at weaker banks like Citigroup and Bank of America, million-dollar awards were distributed to hundreds of workers.

The report is certain to intensify the growing debate over how, and how much, Wall Street bankers should be paid.

In January, President Obama called financial institutions “shameful” for giving themselves nearly $20 billion in bonuses as the economy was faltering and the government was spending billions to bail out financial institutions.

On Friday, the House of Representatives may vote on a bill that would order bank regulators to restrict “inappropriate or imprudently risky” pay packages at larger banks.

Mr. Cuomo, who for months has criticized the companies over pay, said the bonuses were particularly galling because the banks survived the crisis with the government’s support.

“If the bank lost money, where do you get the money to pay the bonus?” he said.

All the banks named in the report declined to comment. >>> Louise Story and Eric Dash | Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Barack Obama: US and China Will Shape 21st Century

THE TELEGRAPH: US President Barack Obama said the US and China will "shape the course of the 21st century" as he opened high-level talks in Washington.

To the satisfaction of the Chinese at talks designed to usher in a new era of friendship, "not confrontation", Mr Obama said that the ties between the two powers were "as important as any bilateral relationship in the world".

"That reality must underpin our partnership. That is the responsibility we bear," he said at the first meeting of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington.

In recognition of the importance of the two-day summit it has been described by analysts in the US as the "G2", after the G8 and G20 gatherings.

Mr Obama said he was under "no illusions that the United States and China will agree on every issue", but insisted closer co-operation on a range of challenges from lifting the global economy to nuclear proliferation and climate change was vital for the whole world.

In what appeared to be a co-ordinated new slogan, both Mr Obama and Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, who sent a message to the meeting, said they sought a "positive, constructive, and comprehensive relationship".

The talks are a revamped version of a meeting launched by George W Bush that focused solely on economic issues.

The new dialogue, to be held every year in alternate capitals, involves the US state department and Chinese foreign ministry and firmly underlines China's growing global footprint.

Beijing sent 150 officials to Washington for dozens of meetings with their US counterparts, bringing much of the capital to a virtual standstill.

The Chinese are still sensitive about their inferior status and pushed hard for Mr Obama to open the meeting, according to sources close to the administration, because "they are still looking for validation".

But the hosts were happy to pay tribute to China's ascendance and were optimistic about its ability to act as a responsible member of the global community.

Mr Obama and Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, made only brief reference to China's poor human rights record, which used to loom much larger in discussions. >>> Alex Spillius in Washington | Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday, 27 July 2009

House Prices Slump in the Hamptons as Wall Street's Wealthiest Feel the Pinch

THE TELEGRAPH: Wall Street's wealthiest are feeling the pinch as property sales in their summer beachside playground – the Hamptons – are more than 40pc below last year's levels.

What was once an area in which New York's rich just had to have a home, the Hamptons is fast becoming a place where owning a home can be a poisoned chalice, given the collapse of the local property market.

According to new data from upmarket NY estate agent Prudential Douglas Elliman (PDE), second-quarter house sales in the Hamptons – which is made up of a series of small, affluent towns on the eastern end of Long Island – are 43.3pc below the same quarter last year. The raw data show that 307 homes were sold in the three months to June this year, compared to 541 in the same period last year.

Although the second-quarter figures are an improvement on the 201 homes sold in the first three months of this year, all the other leading indicators point to a worsening market in the area. >>> James Quinn, Wall Street Correspondent | Sunday, July 26, 2009
Frank Gaffney: Farewell Britain

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Wave of Suicide Sweeps China's Graduate Class

THE TELEGRAPH: Millions of students will graduate in China this year, but with up to a third unable to get a job the number of suicides is soaring.

July was supposed to have marked the start of Liu Wei's new life.

With more than six million other students across China, the 21-year-old was due to graduate from college this month.

For Miss Liu, the daughter of poor farmers, a degree was to be her passport out of a life of poverty, a way to escape working in the fields, or toiling as a humble migrant worker in a far-off factory in southern China.

But her dream of making the huge leap from farm girl to college graduate will never become reality. Deeply depressed and ashamed about her failure to find a job to take up when she graduated, and consumed with guilt about the financial sacrifices her family had made for her, Miss Liu brought her studies and her life to a premature end by drowning herself in a ditch full of freezing, filthy water. >>> David Eimer in Hebei Province | Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A Fan of Camel Milk Struggles to Start a Drome-dairy

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: In North Carolina, Ms. Hinkle Promotes Hard-to-Get Beverage; Milking Martha

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Millie Hinkle first tasted camel milk in the United Arab Emirates about 10 years ago. She had no idea the salty drink, still warm from the camel and served in an ornate bowl with a side of walnuts, would become an obsession.

"It has taken over my life," said the 57-year-old practitioner of natural medicine as she cruised down a tree-lined road here in her white SUV emblazoned with a camel.

Ms. Hinkle has drained her savings, slashed the number of hours she spends at her day job and started a company called Camel Milk USA. Her goal is to bring the milk, reputed to have healing and aphrodisiac powers, to the U.S. where it's been hard to get mainly because camels weren't listed in rules governing the sale of milk.

In April, Ms. Hinkle won initial approval from the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments, a nonprofit group, to market the milk. Now, she's awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on some final details.

But there are several humps to overcome before camel milk is widely available in the U.S. For starters, there aren't many camels here. Those that are mainly work in circuses or live in zoos.

Another challenge: Camels don't much like to be milked. Camels can be cantankerous and persuading them to give up their milk can be part chore, part art. Camel experts say the animals are often ticklish around their udders and, without proper training, might lie down in the middle of being milked.

Camel milk is a centuries-old staple for nomadic tribes across the Middle East and Africa. It is also drunk by elderly men to enhance virility; by the sick to treat a variety of ailments; and by those who believe it has magical properties. >>> Lauren Etter | Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thursday, 16 July 2009

How to Be a Day Trader

THE TELEGRAPH: Day traders are back. If you are tempted to join them, here are some tips.

The day trader – the amateur stock market investor last seen in the heady days of the dotcom boom – is back.

Stockbrokers are reporting bumper trading volumes as investors trade on a daily basis to take advantage of volatility in the stock market.

Barclays Stockbrokers said day traders had returned in significant numbers since the spring. Over the past few months "execution-only" investors – those who make their own decisions without taking advice – have been logging on every day to buy and sell exchange-traded funds, contracts for difference (CFDs) and equities, it said, as well as using spread betting to play the markets.

Since the end of the technology bubble, when novice investors thought they could make an instant profit by trading shares frequently, day trading has been associated with reckless investors making decisions on a whim. But Barclays said the new breed of active trader was savvy and educated, using all the research thrown at them. Unlike counterparts from the days of the tech boom, they are not relying on tips from taxi drivers.

TD Waterhouse, another stockbroker, said it had "never been as busy".

In the past few weeks investors had been trading mining stocks daily, whereas earlier in the year it was banking stocks. It said overall trading activity had increased by 25pc in the past six months; in two days in May daily trading volumes increased by 138pc.

Gavin Oldham, the chief executive of The Share Centre, said he had seen an unprecedented level of trading activity during the past six months, fuelled by market volatility and the banking crisis. "During the first half of the year many investors were dipping in and out of the banking sector in a bid to profit from share price volatility. Even now, the banks continue to dominate our list of most-traded shares," he said.

"This increased level of activity is really testament to the ease and speed of trading online these days. Investors are able to react to changes in the market almost as soon as they happen." >>> Richard Evans and Paul Farrow | Thursday, July 16, 2009
Island ebnet den Weg für den EU-Beitrtitt: Parlament heisst Vorlage von Ministerpräsidentin Sigurdardóttir gut

NZZ Online: Islands Parlament hat am Donnerstag grünes Licht für ein Beitrittsgesuch an die EU gegeben. Für den Vorschlag der sozialdemokratischen Ministerpräsidentin Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir stimmten 33 der 63 Abgeordneten.

Islands Parlament hat am Donnerstag grünes Licht für ein Beitrittsgesuch an die EU gegeben. Für den Vorschlag der sozialdemokratischen Ministerpräsidentin Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir stimmten 33 der 63 Abgeordneten.

Die konservative Opposition scheiterte mit ihrem Versuch, die Entscheidung von einer gesonderten Volksabstimmung abhängig zu machen. >>> sda/dpa | Donnerstag, 16. Juli 2009
Review Orders Banks to Come Clean on Pay and Bonuses

TIMES ONLINE: Banks should disclose far more details about their highest paid employees and strict rules should be imposed to defer bonus payouts for at least three years, under a package of measures to improve the banks' management proposed by Sir David Walker.

The proposals stop short of calling for banks to disclose the identities of their best-paid staff who are not on the board. But Sir David says that for "high-end" employees whose pay is greater than the median compensation of the board's executive directors, banks should publish bands of pay above the median, saying how many employees fall into each category and giving a breakdown of salary, bonus, long-term awards and pension.

Sir David's 140-page initial report on how to improve banks’ governance also lays out radical new rules on bonuses, including a stipulation that at least half of a long-term award should be deferred, subjected to further performance criteria and then divided between a three-year and five-year payment.

Executive board members whose pay is above the median should maintain a shareholding equal to their total historic compensation and be discouraged from accelerating a sale of their stake when they leave apart from on compassionate grounds. Any improvement to their pension should also be published, Sir David says. >>> Katherine Griffiths, Banking Editor | Thursday, July 16, 2009

THE TELEGRAPH: Banks Should Publish Pay and Bonuses of All Top Earners, Walker Report Recommends

British banks should publish the pay and bonuses of all their top earners, not just board members, Sir David Walker has recommended in his report on corporate governance in the financial sector.

The long-anticipated report by the former regulator, published on Thursday, recommends a public and regulatory scrutiny of pay practices across financial institutions in order to curb the excesses that brought the financial system to close to collapse.

The far-reaching report, which was commissioned by the Prime Minister in February, also includes recommendations for an overhaul of City pay practices as well as a radical shake-up of boardroom practices and conventions.

The report is broken down into 39 Recommendations of which 12 are dedicated to pay.

He argues that the remit of the Remuneration Committee at banks should be extended to take responsibility for pay policies of the whole firm rather just the board, in particular the staff whose pay exceeds the median level of the executive directors.

The pay levels of these staff, of which he said he found a “surprising number”, should be published in bands rather than by name.

All pay should be heavily linked to performance and the payout of bonuses for top earners should be staggered over five years. >>> Louise Armitstead | Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Islamic Economic System Only Way Out, Says Expert

SAUDI GAZETTE: Dammam – The recent global economic crisis was not caused just by sub-prime loans and credit derivative swaps but the more fundamental drawback of the system was behind the meltdown.

C.H. Abdul Raheem, a senior chartered accountant, prominent scholar in Islamic Economics and general manger [sic] Finance and Business Planning with Tasnee Company- Jubail, expressed these views at a lecture on “Global Economic Crisis- an Alternate View”.

The event was recently organized by Thanima- a socio-cultural organization of Indian expatriates in the Kingdom here at a local restaurant.

Raheem, is also the founder of Alternative Investment Credit Limited (AICL) a non – banking financial institution, which is run by Islamic banking concepts, implemented in Kerala state in year 2001 with the approval of the Reserve Bank of India.

“Any economic system has to take care of different behavioral aspects of human beings, and moral part is very important, and systems based on material gains alone will not work in the long run,” Raheem said.

The economist said that Islamic economic system, which advocated a balanced combination of individual freedom and social responsibility backed by a strong moral base, was the only viable alternative.

“Islam has structural and compulsory wealth re-distribution mechanism such as Sadaqa, Zakat, Will, Waqf, law of inheritance etc. There were period in human history when these principles were successfully practiced and prominent economist lived in those time and wrote valuable books on Islamic economics and practice”, he said.

Raheem said that the two important symbol and icons of capitalist system – the interest-based banking and the speculative stock exchange system - had miserably failed.

“Capitalism, especially interest-based economy, has brought in huge disparities between the rich and the poor. The capitalist system is practically dead as the western governments has nationalized most of the banks and other industrial corporations, which is a big anti-thesis of capitalism,” he said, adding that implementing a non-interest banking and investment system, which is divine and an ethical procedure is the only practical solution to solve to cover up the present situation.

During the function he answered various questions asked by the audience. Earlier, the chief organizer of Thanima’s Dammam chapter, C.P. Musthafa welcomed the audience and K.M. Rasheed presented the vote of thanks. [Source: Saudi Gazette] By Faisal Aboobacker Ponnani | Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Iran sitzt auf seinem schwarzen Gold fest: Folge von veralteten Fördertechnologien und Sanktionen

NZZ Online: Benzin muss Iran für Milliarden Dollar teuer importieren, und die Rohölförderung nimmt jedes Jahr weiter ab, obwohl unter dem Land die drittgrössten Erdölreserven der Welt schlummern. Das Gleiche gilt für Erdgas, wo nur das Riesenreich Russland die iranischen Reserven in den Schatten stellt.

Iran verfügt über die drittgrössten Erdölreserven der Welt. Doch um aus Vorräten eine Ware zu machen, braucht es Fördertechnologien und Einrichtungen zur Weiterverarbeitung der Rohstoffe. Das ist Irans Achillesferse. Hier schmerzen die internationalen Sanktionen – und das Chaos infolge der umstrittenen Präsidentschaftswahl macht alles noch schlimmer.

Für die weitere Wirtschaftsentwicklung ist das pures Gift. «Wenn man die Zeit nach der Wahl betrachtet, mit der jetzt ziemlich sichtbaren tiefen Spaltung innerhalb der regierenden Elite, dann ist es schwierig, sich vorzustellen, wie sich Präsident Mahmud Ahmadinejad nach der Niederschlagung der Proteste auf die Seite der Gewinner schlagen will», sagt Samuel Ciszuk, Nahost-Energie-Spezialist beim Analystendienst IHS Global Insight in London. Statt die kränkelnde Wirtschaft zu sanieren, müsse sich die Regierung nun für mindestens den Rest des Jahres auf die innenpolitischen Spannungen konzentrieren.

Diese Verzögerung kann sich Iran jedoch kaum leisten. Die Sorge um die wirtschaftliche Entwicklung war schon vor der Präsidentenwahl vom 12.–Juni eines der wichtigsten Themen. Oppositionsführer Mir Hossein Moussavi, der sich von Ahmadinejad um den Sieg betrogen sieht, wies bereits im Wahlkampf warnend darauf hin, dass der Hardliner das Land mit seiner Günstlingswirtschaft an den «Rand des Abgrunds» manövriert habe. >>> ap | Dienstag, 14. Juli 2009
£4.1bn Bonus Bonanza for Bank Staff

THE INDEPENDENT: Staff at investment banking giant Goldman Sachs earned a mammoth 6.65 billion US dollars (£4.1 billion) in pay and bonuses during a bumper second quarter for the group, it emerged today.

Compensation and benefits were 47 per cent higher to reflect revenues soaring to a record 13.8 billion dollars (£8.5 billion) as improving financial markets buoyed the business.

The bank, which has more than 5,000 staff in the UK, also delivered a 65 per cent rise in second-quarter profits of 3.44 billion US dollars (£2.1 billion) - well above expectations. >>> By Russell Lynch, Press Association | Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Geithner Says Recession Easing, U.S. on the Mend

REUTERS: JEDDAH - U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Tuesday aggressive efforts to counter a global financial crisis were starting to work and acknowledged the United States had a special duty to help spur a recovery.

"Given the dollar's role in the international financial system and the significant impact of the U.S. economy on global economic conditions, we fully recognize that the United States has a special responsibility to play," he said in prepared remarks for delivery to the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce.

Geithner, who arrived in Saudi Arabia overnight from London, is aiming to reassure Gulf Arab states that the United States wants their investments and that their U.S. dollar assets are safe. He travels to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday and will also make a stop in Paris Thursday.

As he did in London, Geithner said the global economy faced severe challenges but sounded a reassuring note about future prospects if "steady, forceful and sustained" support continues until private investment and spending lead a recovery.

"The force of the global recession is receding," Geithner said. "For the first time in several quarters, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and a range of private analysts are starting to revise up their forecasts for growth in the second half of this year and next." >>> Glenn Somerville | Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monday, 13 July 2009

For Goldman, a Swift Return to Lofty Profits

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Most of Wall Street, and America, is still waiting for an economic recovery. Then there is Goldman Sachs.

Up and down Wall Street, analysts and traders are buzzing that Goldman, which only recently paid back its government bailout money, will report blowout profits from trading on Tuesday.

Analysts predict the bank earned a profit of more than $2 billion in the March-June period, because of its trading prowess across world markets. If they are right, the bank’s rivals will once again be left to wonder exactly how Goldman, long the envy of Wall Street, could have rebounded so drastically only months after the nation’s financial industry was shaken to its foundations.

The obsessive speculation has already begun, along with banter about how Goldman’s rapid return to minting money will be perceived by lawmakers and taxpayers who aided Goldman with a multibillion-dollar cushion last fall.

“They exist, and others don’t, and taxpayers made it possible,” said one industry consultant, who, like many people interviewed for this article, declined to be named for fear of jeopardizing business relationships.

Startling, too, is how much of its revenue Goldman is expected to share with its employees. Analysts estimate that the bank will set aside enough money to pay a total of $18 billion in compensation and benefits this year to its 28,000 employees, or more than $600,000 an employee. Top producers stand to earn millions. >>> Graham Bowley and Jenny Anderson | Sunday, July 12, 2009
President Sarkozy’s Move to ‘Abolish Sunday’ Sparks Hostility

Photo: TimesOnline

TIMES ONLINE: Street markets, long family lunches, strolls in the park . . . For the French, Sunday is a great tradition, a time to enjoy the finer things in life while other silly countries such as Britain keep working. So President Sarkozy’s plan to “abolish Sunday” and let the shops open is running into a hail of criticism.

Parliament is due to pass a Bill tomorrow to ease France’s strict trading laws, but hostility to it is so widespread that some MPs in Mr Sarkozy’s own centre-right camp predict that it could unravel before becoming law.

The President’s plan to abolir le dimanche is being resisted by an unlikely coalition of interests, including the centre and left-wing Opposition, the Roman Catholic Church, the trade unions and small shopkeepers who fear losing their existing Sunday business to supermarkets. Up to 60 per cent of the public, according to polls, are also against a scheme that will reverse the century-old right to a day of rest.

The President has made Sunday shopping a personal crusade since he promised it in his 2007 election campaign under his slogan of “work more to earn more”. He pillories France as a backward exception to the rest of Europe and has said that he was ashamed when Michelle Obama wanted to take her daughters shopping in Paris on a Sunday last month — he had to arrange a special opening for her at a Left Bank boutique.

“How are we supposed to explain to them that we are the only country where shops are closed on Sunday?” he asked. “We are a country that takes pride in having more tourists than any other, yet we believe the shops must be shut on the day there are the most visitors.” >>> Charles Bremner | Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Landmark Parisian Bookshop to Close

THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY: Another Paris landmark is no more. Brentano’s, an American bookshop whose customers have ranged from Ernest Hemingway to Johnny Hallyday, has been forced to close by exploding rental demands.

After 114 years, the bookshop’s prime site on the Avenue de L’Opéra, close to the Louvre, is expected to become, like much of the rest of the avenue, a designer label shop catering for the Japanese tourist trade.

Although regarded by the English-speaking community as a Paris institution, Brentano’s has been undermined by the recession, by the internet and, above all, by soaring commercial rents in the heart of Paris. Its landlord, the bank BNP Paribas, increased the rent several years ago from Euros 75,000 a year to Euros 200,000.

Brentano’s, founded in 1895 and originally part of an US-based chain of the same name, was once a centre of American cultural life in the French capital. "The avenue de L’Opera used to be American. It has become Japanese," said Chantal Bodez, last owner of the shop with her husband. >>> By John Lichfield in Paris | Sunday, July 12, 2009

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Obama's Climate of Fear

TOWNHALL: Recently I had a long lunch with an old friend. He sits on the board of one of the largest and most successful publicly traded regional banks in America. He got his seat when that regional bank acquired the very successful community bank he built from the ground up. I will not name him or this bank, but I will pass on a few things he said to me.

He said, “Our bank’s leadership team and others I know at the local or regional level feel paralyzed and intimidated by the climate of fear created by the Obama administration. We believe we are targets of a very deliberate conspiracy.

“The new and proposed regulations will remove every competitive advantage of the community bank, and make every bank identical, forced to operate exactly as does Bank of America,” he explained. “Then, absent competitive opportunity, all of the independent banks will be greatly de-valued and handicapped. They’ll be vulnerable and easily rolled up into the handful of remaining giants … the small bank’s wealth made into fresh food for the insatiable hunger of the big banks’ deficits and losses. This is, I and others believe, the next step in Obama’s plan to take total control of the financial system and money supply, a requirement of dictatorship.“

What is most significant about these statements is the person making them. This is not some freak like the fellow Mel Gibson portrayed in the movie “Conspiracy Theory.”. He’s not somebody stockpiling food in a cabin hidden away in the woods, to escape to when anarchy erupts. Not anybody you would expect to hear express such thoughts. And he’s not a lone voice.

Another friend is the CEO of a mid-sized company that had been on an impressive trajectory of growth for the past three years but is now stalled. He and his advisers have reversed their viewpoint in the last few months. They are eager to sell the company if possible now rather than later. Why? They believe Obama is deliberately, systematically destroying the economy as a whole and is specifically targeting small business for extinction – because it’s too difficult to exercise dictatorial control over millions of small enterprises. >>> Dan Kennedy | Friday, July 10, 2009
Big City Bonuses Are Back

MAIL Online: City banks are preparing to lavish record bonuses on staff less than a year after bringing the world economy to the brink of meltdown.

Many high-flying traders and dealmakers are looking forward to ' mindblowing' payouts on a par with the rewards handed out at the height of the banking boom in 2007.

This is despite many of the banks only being able to turn a profit because they have been bailed out with taxpayers' money.

Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs is expected to confirm next week that it will pay an average of almost £400,000 in pay and bonuses to each of its 5,500 London-based staff - a total of £2.2billion.

Its profits are soaring on the back of the $6.2billion it received from the U.S. taxpayer last year.

Royal Bank of Scotland recently revealed chief executive Stephen Hester was in line for a £9.7million pay package if he brings the bailed-out bank's share price up to 70p.

Another bailed- out financial giant, Citigroup, is raising basic pay for many of its investment bankers and traders by up to 50 per cent, to make up for the loss in bonus pay.

Nationalised U.S. insurance firm AIG is planning to pay millions of dollars more in bonuses to dozens of top bosses across the world.

Last year it paid out more than £100million despite being rescued by the U.S. government after racking up £60billion in losses from reckless bets on toxic debt.

Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Barclays are also planning major rewards.

This is despite their actions triggering a recession which is expected to cost a million Britons their jobs.

The return of 'business as usual' to the banking sector makes a mockery of the Government's claim to have stamped out the culture of greed and reckless risk taking in the banking industry. Big City bonuses are back! Less than a year after banks took billions in taxpayer-funded bailouts... >>> Simon Duke | Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

French MPs Debate Sunday Shopping

BBC: Parliament in France has begun debating a law that would allow more shops to open on Sundays.

Most retailers have been banned from trading on Sunday since 1906, when a law enshrined it as a day of rest.

But President Nicolas Sarkozy says the pace of modern life has overtaken tradition, and France has ended up behind the times.

Trade unions and many members of parliament across the political divide have criticised the planned law.

The bill would see the establishment of special tourist areas and commercial zones.

Employees would get double their normal pay for working on a Sunday.

Many big chain stores in France already ignore the current laws banning Sunday trading - and have to pay large fines for opening their doors.

Bakeries, butchers' shops and other small businesses are allowed to open - but only until noon. >>> | Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Papst will Krise durch Regulierung überwinden: Enzyklika «Caritas in veritate» in Rom vorgestellt

NZZ Online: Am Tag vor dem G-8-Gipfel in Aquila hat Papst Benedikt XVI. seine dritte Enzyklika vorgestellt. Das Oberhaupt der römisch-katholischen Kirche mahnt darin die Regierungen, die nationalen Ökonomien stärker zu regulieren, um die weltweite Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise zu überwinden

Benedikt XVI. hat ungezügeltem Kapitalismus und unregulierten Marktkräften eine Absage erteilt. In der am Dienstag veröffentlichten Sozialenzyklika «Caritas in veritate» (Liebe in Wahrheit) fordert der Papst die Ausrichtung wirtschaftlichen Handelns an ethischen Zielen.

Das Oberhaupt der römisch-katholischen Kirche mahnt die Regierungen, die nationalen Ökonomien stärker zu regulieren, um die weltweite Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise zu überwinden und ihre Wiederholung zu vermeiden. Die Krise wie auch die Globalisierung sollten als Chance genutzt werden, eine Welt in Gerechtigkeit und Solidarität zu bauen. >>> sda/dpa/Reuters/ap | Dienstag, 07. Juli 2009

«Caritas in veritate»:

In English >>>

En français >>>

Monday, 6 July 2009

Some Find U.K. Bailout Too Onerous

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: LONDON -- Six months after the U.K. government scrambled to launch new bailout measures for Britain's foundering banks and economy, several of those efforts are languishing with few takers.

In January, for example, the British government created a guarantee program meant to revive the dormant market for asset-backed securities. The program aims to spur purchases of banks' asset-back securities, or bundled consumer loans, by guaranteeing them for buyers.

The guarantees were made available in April, but since then, none of the major U.K. banks has issued a security with such a guarantee. Bankers say it is too expensive; the government says the program is under review. So far, no changes to its terms have been made, and the program is set to expire in October.

The flop is among several misfires by the U.K. government in recent months among programs that haven't drawn interest from the banks and businesses they were intended to help. An effort to give firms trade insurance, for example, has seen only limited participation. The same is true of a loan guarantee for small businesses, which has been disregarded because it requires owners to put their own collateral on the line.

The snubbed bailout programs are a testament to the difficult balancing act governments face when attempting to aid their financial sectors and economies: They don't want to give banks and businesses a free ride, but fail to accomplish anything if their terms are not attractive enough. >>> By SARA SCHAEFER MUÑOZ and ALISTAIR MACDONALD | Monday, July 06, 2009

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Schweizer Banken kündigen ihren US-Kunden: Befürchtete Steuerkonflikte und zu hoher Aufwand

NZZ Online: Der Konfrontationskurs der amerikanischen Steuerbehörden gegenüber der UBS schüchtert die Schweizer Banken ein. Um jedes Risiko zu vermeiden, kündigen Institute wie die Zürcher Kantonalbank oder die Privatbank Mirabaud jetzt ihren Kunden aus Übersee.

Immer mehr Schweizer Banken ziehen sich aus dem Geschäft mit in den USA steuerpflichtigen Personen zurück. Institute wie die Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB) oder die Privatbank Mirabaud kündigen die Beziehungen mit in den USA ansässigen Kunden. Andere Institute wie die Credit Suisse (CS) bieten den Kunden immerhin an, ihr Geld in eigens gegründete Gesellschaften zu transferieren, die in den USA lizenziert sind und der dortigen Aufsicht unterstehen. Die Schweizer Banken reagieren so auf den wachsenden Druck der amerikanischen Steuerbehörden. >>> det. | Samstag, 04. Juli 2009
BT Offers Thousands of Workers 'Holiday of Lifetime' on Quarter Pay

THE TELEGRAPH: BT has offered tens of thousands of its employees the chance to go on long-term holiday in return for taking a drastic pay cut.

The former state telecoms company - one of Britain's biggest private employers with 106,000 staff - is trying to save money as it struggles to cope with the impact of the recession.

BT has proposed that employees take up to a year off, in return for taking a 75 per cent pay cut. To encourage as many workers to take up of the offer, the company will pay their reduced salary as an upfront cash payment.

It is also offering staff a one-off payment of £1,000 if they switch from full-time to part-time work.

Parents are also being offered the opportunity to work only in school term times, so they can spend the summer holidays with their children.

The radical proposals - leaked to The Daily Telegraph - are the latest example of the private sector having to adopt increasingly desperate and inventive measures to tackle the recession by cutting costs without sacking staff.

British Airways last month asked thousands of its staff to work for free during the summer, and to switch to part time hours. Many car manufacturers have sent workers home on half pay for months at a time. >>> Rupert Neate and Harry Wallop | Friday, July 03, 2009

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Benedict Brogan: Cutting Britain's Defence Budget to Pay Other Bills Is a False Economy

THE TELEGRAPH: Benedict Brogan believes both the main parties are missing the point of maintaining a nuclear deterrent

A free people, George Washington said, must be constantly awake against the insidious wiles of foreign influence. At any moment, from any quarter, trouble may pounce to put the sovereignty of the nation under threat. Defending the realm demands eternal vigilance.

Yet in this particular kingdom we are nodding off, distracted by the agonies of a financial crisis and the positioning of leaders vying for power. A time of great uncertainty abroad is met by political indifference at home.

From climate change and resource shortages, to cyber-warfare and disorderly states, to Islamist terrorism and international criminal networks, the dangers are multiplying. And then there are the unknown unknowns, the things we don't know that we don't know that kept Donald Rumsfeld up at night. Thirty years from now, who is to say that Russia will not have reverted to its expansionist ways, or that a nuclear-armed Caliphate of Waziristan will not be parked where Pakistan used to be?

Which is what makes British foreign policy, and our capacity to implement it, such a vital part of what a government does. It remains essential to us that our diplomatic effort be played out in the international premier league.

Listen to the whispers coming out of the chancelleries of Europe or the US state department, however, and the talk is of relegation. Britain is slipping down the rankings as Gordon Brown focuses on a domestic fight for survival. Ominously, there is no sign that the prospect of having David Cameron in charge will do anything to reverse the trend.

As so often with a national share price, it is a concatenation of decisions and behaviours that drives it downwards. Financial mismanagement, the prospect of a debt downgrade, an inability to produce the necessary resources in Iraq or Afghanistan, loose talk of defence cuts and an end to Trident, speculation about giving up our permanent seat on the UN Security Council, the threat of legal action against serving intelligence officers, and confusion over the Iraq inquiry have helped contribute to a steady loss of credibility.

The strength of our commitment to future defence is this week's wobble. Having frittered away billions since 1997, Mr Brown, with the tacit support of the Conservatives, is eyeing up those cash-draining Cold War programmes. It is tempting to detect the hand of his friends in the unions behind the well-timed leaks about cost over-runs on the two planned aircraft carriers, while the top brass fall over each other to volunteer the weapons programmes of rival services for the chop. >>> Benedict Brogan | Wednesday, July 01, 2009