Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year! Bonne année! Glückliches Neues Jahr! Felice anno nuovo! Feliz año nuevo!

Image: Google Images. Please click on the bottle for music.

Wishing you ALL a VERY HAPPY, HEALTHY & PROSPEROUS 2010, and thanking you ALL for your continued and loyal support.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Pound May Fall Below Parity with Euro, Economists Warn

TIMES ONLINE: Economists have warned that the pound is on the brink of sinking below parity with the euro due to the Government’s unconvincing plans to tackle Britain’s £178 billion budget deficit.

Douglas McWilliams, the chief executive of the Centre for Economics and Business Research (cebr), said that the British economy was walking “five yards away from the edge of the cliff” and could be toppled by an “unexpected gust”.

The pound is trading at 1.10 against the euro after hitting a low of 1.02 a year ago. However, currency markets are reflecting the expectation of a win for the Conservatives in next year’s election, raising hopes of tougher action to tackle the deficit. Any signs of Labour closing the gap ahead of the election would result in the pound plunging, according to the cebr.

“If I had to bet, I would bet on the side of parity being broken,” said Mr McWilliams, adding that there was significant downside risk for the euro as a result of the divergent economic performances of countries such as Germany and Greece. >>> Nic Fildes | Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Pounding for Gordon Brown over UK Debt Crisis

THE SUNDAY TIMES: A GROUP of leading economists has attacked the government for its “irresponsible” failure to set out “even the rudiments” of a convincing plan to reduce Britain’s £178 billion budget deficit and warns of “alarming complacency” in the face of the country’s fiscal challenges.

In a letter to The Sunday Times, the economists, including Tim Congdon, Patrick Minford and Gordon Pepper, warn of “heightened risk” of a downgrade of Britain’s sovereign debt rating.

The signatories, several of whom are on the “shadow” monetary policy committee, say that the integrity of UK fiscal and monetary policy is at stake because of the huge budget deficit.

They warn that international investors could see the Bank of England’s £200 billion quantitative easing programme, mainly the purchase of UK government bonds (gilts) as “driven by a politically-motivated desire to ease the government’s funding difficulties”. >>> David Smith, Economics Editor | Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Not Before Time! Big Companies May Be Coming to Their Senses!

THE TELEGRAPH: Nike, Adidas and other companies may cut their spending on sports sponsorships after the coverage of Tiger Woods's marital infidelity, it has been claimed.

Tiger Woods was earning about $100 million (£62 million) a year from his sponsors before the scandal. Photo: The Telegraph

In the past week, Accenture ended its endorsement deal with Woods, while Gillette said it would not use Woods in its marketing. Others are reevaluating their deals with the golfer.

Omar Saad, a Credit Suisse analyst, said that Nike and other companies are being forced to rethink the effectiveness of the vast sums of money they spend on individual and team sponsorships. Tiger Woods: sports sponsors may slash spending on big stars >>> | Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Gulf Petro-powers to Launch Currency in Latest Threat to Dollar Hegemony

THE TELEGRAPH: The Arab states of the Gulf region have agreed to launch a single currency modelled on the euro, hoping to blaze a trail towards a pan-Arab monetary union swelling to the ancient borders of the Ummayad Caliphate.

“The Gulf monetary union pact has come into effect,” said Kuwait’s finance minister, Mustafa al-Shamali, speaking at a Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) summit in Kuwait.

The move will give the hyper-rich club of oil exporters a petro-currency of their own, greatly increasing their influence in the global exchange and capital markets and potentially displacing the US dollar as the pricing currency for oil contracts. Between them they amount to regional superpower with a GDP of $1.2 trillion (£739bn), some 40pc of the world’s proven oil reserves, and financial clout equal to that of China.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar are to launch the first phase next year, creating a Gulf Monetary Council that will evolve quickly into a full-fledged central bank.

The Emirates are staying out for now – irked that the bank will be located in Riyadh at the insistence of Saudi King Abdullah rather than in Abu Dhabi. They are expected join later, along with Oman.

The Gulf states remain divided over the wisdom of anchoring their economies to the US dollar. The Gulf currency – dubbed “Gulfo” – is likely to track a global exchange basket and may ultimately float as a regional reserve currency in its own right. “The US dollar has failed. We need to delink,” said Nahed Taher, chief executive of Bahrain’s Gulf One Investment Bank.

The project is inspired by Europe’s monetary union, seen as a huge success in the Arab world. But there are concerns that the region is trying to run before it can walk. >>> Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Tuesday, December 2009

Thursday, 10 December 2009

France Follows Britain with Bank Bonus Tax

TIMES ONLINE: France is preparing to follow Britain's lead with a one-off 50 per cent tax on bankers' bonuses, according to a French Government source.

President Sarkozy is said to have agreed to include a levy on pay-outs of more than €27,000 in the French budget or in a forthcoming law on regulation of the financial services industry.

The tax will be paid by banks, according to the source.

A spokesman for Mr Sarkozy confirmed that he was planning a special tax on bank bonuses but added that the details had yet to be finalised, suggesting that the French head of state might yet row back from the 50 per cent rate.

The move comes after Britain announced a one-off tax on bonuses over £25,000. It follows a call a by Gordon Brown and Mr Sarkozy for a global levy on bank pay-outs in a joint article in the Wall Street Journal today.

''We agree that a one-off tax in relation to bonuses should be considered a priority, due to the fact that bonuses for 2009 have arisen partly because of government support for the banking system," the two leaders wrote.

'It is clear the action that must be taken must be at a global level. No one territory can be expected to or be able to act on its own." >>> Adam Sage in Paris and Emily Ford | Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Liliane Bettencourt continuera à gérer seule son argent

Liliane Bettencourt et sa fille, Françoise. Crédits photo : Le Figaro

LE FIGARO: Un juge des tutelles a rejeté la demande de protection judiciaire demandée par la fille de la milliardaire.

Le juge des tutelles de Neuilly-sur-Seine a refusé d'ouvrir une procédure de protection judiciaire visant Liliane Bettencourt, comme le lui demandait sa fille, révèle mercredi le . Une information confirmée par l'avocat de la fille, Me Olivier Metzner.

Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers, fille unique de l'héritière et actionnaire principale de L'Oréal, avait saisi la semaine dernière le juge, en parallèle de la procédure engagée au pénal contre l'artiste François-Marie Banier. Elle l'accuse d'avoir abusé de la faiblesse de sa mère pour bénéficier de dons approchant le milliard d'euros. Il aurait, estime-t-elle, profité de sa mère, diminuée par «une affection neurologique».

La demande de protection judiciaire aurait pu aboutir à la mise sous tutelle de Liliane Bettencourt. Selon le, le magistrat l'a rejetée en raison de l'absence de certificat médical de Liliane Bettencourt attestant de ce problème neurologique. L'ancienne dirigeante du groupe, contre toute attente, a en effet refusé de se soumettre à un examen médical. Le 13 mai 2008, pourtant, elle avait formellement accepté de s'y plier, afin de prouver qu'elle n'avait pas été «abusé» dans cette affaire et qu'elle avait bien toute sa tête. «Une femme libre et lucide» >>> Flore Galaud ( | Mercredi 09 Décembre 2009

«C'est mon premier devoir de fille»

LE FIGARO: Le Figaro s'est procuré la lettre que Françoise Bettencourt a fait porter à sa mère, Liliane, mercredi matin.

La fille de Lilianne Bettencourt, héritière du groupe l'Oréal, a saisi un juge des tutelles d'une demande de «protection judiciaire» de sa mère. Cette décision pourrait aboutir à son placement sous tutelle. Mardi, Françoise Bettencourt a fait déposer une lettre manuscrite d'une page au domicile de sa mère, à Neuilly. En voici le texte :
«Ma chère maman, aussi triste et douloureux que ce soit pour toi et pour moi, je tiens à t'écrire ces quelques mots. Au delà de la femme admirable (...) que tu es, qui a su accompagner le développement de cette belle entreprise fondée par ton père, tu es pour moi et avant tout ma maman. À entendre tous les témoignages qui me sont parvenus, je sais dans quelle situation d'isolement et d'emprise on t'a placée. On a voulu te faire rompre avec ta famille et t'éloigner de tous ceux, amis, employés, qui dans ton entourage étaient considérés comme “gênants”. Tout cela et ta santé, bien sûr, m'obligent à réagir, à ne pas me résoudre à fermer les yeux et à laisser les choses en l'état. C'est mon premier devoir de fille, je le pense profondément. J'ai déjà essayé en engageant il y a bientôt deux ans la procédure qui te contrarie tant mais cela n'a hélas pas suffit. C'est pourquoi je pense n'avoir d'autre choix, aujourd'hui, que de solliciter du juge civil ta protection. >>> | Jeudi 03 Décembre 2009
LE FIGARO: Les dons généreux de Liliane Bettencourt >>> Cyrille Louis | Vendredi 04 Décembre 2009

Le juge des tutelles refuse d'ouvrir une procédure visant à placer Liliane Bettencourt sous "protection judiciaire"

Crédits photo : Le juge des tutelles du tribunal d'instance de Neuilly a refusé d'ouvrir une procédure visant à placer Liliane Bettencourt sous "protection judiciaire", comme le lui avait demandé sa fille, Françoise Meyers-Bettencourt, la semaine dernière. >>> Par Hervé Gattegno | Mercredi 09 Décembre 2009

Liens en relation avec l’article / Related / Verwandt:

THE TELEGRAPH: Because He Ain’t Worth It! >>>

THE INDEPENDENT: L'Oréal Heiress Gives €1bn to Photographer 'Because He's Worth It' >>> | Monday, December 15, 2008

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Weiblich und milliardenschwer - die reichsten Frauen der Welt >>> Von Alexandra Sillgitt | Samstag, 08. März 2008

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Because He Ain’t Worth It!

THE TELEGRAPH: A French judge will examine whether Europe's richest woman, the elderly heiress to the L'Oreal cosmetics fortune, should be stripped of the right to manage her own affairs after she showered gifts worth almost $1.5 billion on a friend.

Liliane Bettencourt, 87, says she was in full possession of her wits when she lavished cash, artworks and life insurance on photographer and socialite Francois-Marie Banier, 62, but her daughter disagrees and has taken her objections to the courts.

Lawyer Olivier Metzner, who represents the daughter, said that he had launched a civil procedure to try and have Mrs Bettencourt declared irresponsible and placed under the authority of a court-designated tutor.

The move is in addition to a separate criminal case in which the daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, is pressing charges against Mr Banier, accusing him of taking advantage of an old lady's weakness to extort staggering sums from her.

"We have already taken action against the predator. Now we are taking action to protect my client's mother, to show that she is nothing more than a victim," said Mr Metzner. L'Oreal heiress facing scrutiny over $1.5bn gifts to male friend >>> | Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Monday, 7 December 2009

Supertax to Claw Back Bankers' Huge Bonuses

Photo: Times Online

TIMES ONLINE: Alistair Darling is preparing to introduce a punitive new tax on bankers’ bonuses in a Pre-Budget Report that will draw the battle lines for the next general election.

The Chancellor is expected to argue that, because billions of pounds of public cash was used to bail out the financial sector, taxpayers have a right to a larger share of bankers’ payouts.

Accountants expressed doubts over the practicality of such a tax, claiming that it could breach human rights.

Yesterday Mr Darling said that voters would expect “the broadest shoulders to bear the greatest burden” when it came to restoring the public finances. Although final details have yet to be agreed, it is understood that he has bowed to pressure from Gordon Brown and is considering a supertax on individual bankers who receive bonuses over a certain level.

John Whiting, tax partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, said that it was unprecedented for a particular occupation to be targeted in this way. “This is difficult on several levels,” he said. “It smacks of discrimination.” >>> Francis Elliott, Deputy Political Editor, and Patrick Hosking, Financial Editor | Monday, December 07, 2009

MAIL ONLINE: 'Super tax' on bank bonuses: After fury over huge payouts, Alistair Darling to target City fat cats >>> James Chapman | Monday, December 07, 2009

BBC: Banks criticise plans for windfall tax on bonuses: British banking chiefs have reacted angrily to news the Treasury is considering a one-year windfall tax on bonuses paid to some UK-based bankers. >>> | Monday, December 07, 2009

Thursday, 3 December 2009

La City redoute une régulation à la "française"

LE MONDE: Michel Barnier se serait bien passé de cette empoignade. Le prochain commissaire au marché intérieur craint de voir son début de mandat empoisonné par l'opposition entre le Royaume-Uni et la France au sujet de la régulation financière. Entre Paris et Londres, le ton est monté de plusieurs crans depuis la nomination du Français par le président de la Commission européenne, José Manuel Barroso, à un poste stratégique en ces temps de crise, puisqu'il chapeaute les services financiers.

Les Britanniques s'inquiètent du sort de la City de Londres, la principale place financière européenne. Ils ont tout fait pour empêcher M. Barroso de nommer à cette fonction une personnalité soucieuse de pousser les feux de la régulation. Ils n'ont ensuite pas apprécié que Nicolas Sarkozy présente leur pays, dans un commentaire accordé au Monde, comme le "grand perdant" de la récente répartition des postes bruxellois. Et jette ensuite de l'huile sur le feu en affirmant que ce sont "les idées françaises de régulation qui triomphent en Europe".

Cette "guéguerre" complique la formation des cabinets des commissaires, à Bruxelles. Déjà flanqué, à la demande du premier ministre britannique, Gordon Brown, d'un directeur général britannique, M.Barnier refuse de recruter un conseiller proche des intérêts de la City. Ce qui déplaît à Londres, lequel a fait pression sur Catherine Ashton, la toute nouvelle haute représentante de l'Union européenne pour la politique étrangère, afin qu'elle renonce à ce st.ade à recruter un Français dans son cabinet. >>> Philippe Ricard et Marc Roche | Jeudi 03 Décembre 2009

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Addicted to Bonuses: The Fat Slobs at RBS Just Can’t Get Enough

Bonus showdown: Stephen Hester, Chief Executive of Royal Bank of Scotland. Photo: Mail Online

MAIL ONLINE: Royal Bank of Scotland directors were accused of holding taxpayers to ransom last night over plans to pay huge bonuses.

The board has threatened to resign en masse if the Treasury blocks the payments.

The row is over an estimated £1.5billion bonus pool for staff at the investment arm of the bank, which is largely owned by the public.

The pool is around 50 per cent bigger than last year and would give 20,000 bankers the equivalent of three times the national average salary each.

The Treasury has demanded a veto, following the taxpayers' £45billion bailout of the Edinburgh institution, but board members say their lawyers tell them they would have to resign if they lost the power to set pay levels.

It is an astonishing challenge to the Government, whose stake in the bank is set to rise to 84 per cent in the coming weeks.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Vince Cable said: 'I would welcome their resignations as they cannot hold the taxpayer to ransom. It's absolutely right that the government should impose bonus discipline on this bank.'

'As a state-run bank, the Government must finally take control and ensure that both its pay and lending practices are in the public interest.' Held to ransom by the bankers: Bosses at RBS (Yes, YOU own it) threaten to quit if they can't dole out huge bonuses >>> Simon Duke | Wednesday, December 02, 2009

THE TELEGRAPH: Lord Myners: 5,000 bankers earn more than £1m: At least 5,000 bankers will earn more than £1 million this year, according to the Government's City minister Lord Myners. >>> Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Editor | Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Boykottaufrufe gegen das Minarettverbot: Islamische Länder haben Spargelder und Milliarden-Exportvolumen im Visier

NZZ ONLINE: Nach der Annahme des Minarettverbots hat der türkische Europaminister wohlhabende Muslime in aller Welt aufgerufen, ihre Vermögen aus der Schweiz abzuziehen und in der Türkei anzulegen. Im Internet werben islamische Kreise zudem für den Boykott von Schweizer Waren.

Machen Muslime ernst mit dem Boykott von Schweizer Waren, spürt das die Wirtschaft deutlich. Bild: NZZ Online

Ob die Minarett-Initiative für die Schweiz wirtschaftlich ähnliche Folgen hat wie der Karikaturenstreit in Dänemark, lässt sich noch nicht absehen. Damals führte allein der Boykott dänischer Waren zu Einnahmenausfällen von umgerechnet rund 1,6 Milliarden Franken.

Bekannte Schweizer Marken betroffen

Tatsache ist aber, dass im Internet bereits Boykottaufrufe gegen Schweizer Waren aufgeschaltet sind. Zu einer Kampagne gegen die Schweiz rief am Mittwoch auch die Führung der syrischen Republik auf. Die Chefredaktorin der regierungsnahen syrischen Tageszeitung «Teshreen» verlangte einen arabischen Boykott von Schweizer Waren.

Im Visier haben die erzürnten Muslime bisher vor allem Produkte bekannter Marken wie Swatch, Omega, Rolex, Lindt & Sprüngli oder Nestlé.Unter Boykotten leiden könnte auch die Swiss auf den Strecken in den Nahen und Mittleren Osten.

Die Swiss gibt sich allerdings gelassen. Bisher gebe es dafür keine Anzeichen. Ähnlich tönt es bei einzelnen Unternehmen und der Schweizer Wirtschaft. Leicht besorgt zeigen sich lediglich einige Tourismusdestinationen, die einen Gästeschwund aus islamischen Ländern befürchten. >>> chs | Mittwoch, 02. Dezember 2009

NZZ ONLINE: Zunehmende Empörung über Minarett-Verbot: Uno spricht von Diskriminierung – Türkei und Pakistan fordern Rücknahme >>> ap/sda/afp | Dienstag, 01. Dezember 2009
We Are in Charge Now, Sarkozy Tells the City

TIMES ONLINE: Alistair Darling has delivered a blunt warning to the EU’s new French finance chief against meddling with the City of London.

As Nicolas Sarkozy gloated over impending curbs on the City, the Chancellor said that such moves would drive financial services out of Europe.

The French President’s glee at the appointment of Michel Barnier as Commissioner for the Single Market took on an edge of menace yesterday when he said that unfettered City practices must end.

“Do you know what it means for me to see for the first time in 50 years a French European commissioner in charge of the internal market, including financial services, including the City [of London]?" he said yesterday.

"I want the world to see the victory of the European model, which has nothing to do with the excesses of financial capitalism," he said. >>> Francis Elliott, Suzy Jagger, Martin Waller and David Charter | Wednesday, December 02, 2009

TIMES ONLINE: Banks blast 'hostile' Sarkozy over City rule gibe >>> Robert Lindsay | Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Angela Merkel Alarmed by Worsening Credit Crisis

THE TELEGRAPH: The German government is rushing through a fresh package of measures to shore up ailing banks and prevent a second wave of the debt crisis suffocating large parts of manufacturing industry.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel: fears of new crisis. Photograph: The Telegraph

"We are in a very critical situation," said Chancellor Angela Merkel in her weekly radio address. "We are going to discuss with leaders of the financial institutions what can be done to head off a credit crunch."

The move comes days after the Bundesbank revealed that German banks face a further €90bn (£82bn) of likely write-downs over the next year.

Leaders of the new coalition are to meet industrialists and bankers tomorrow to thrash out an emergency plan. The proposals include a €10bn scheme to purchase toxic securities from banks. The idea is anathema in Germany and faces stiff opposition from Mrs Merkel's Bavarian and liberal partners.

The renewed sense urgency follows a flurry of warnings from economists and business groups over the risks of a credit contraction. >>> Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Monday, November 30, 2009