Monday, 31 May 2010

Greece Urged To Give Up Euro

THE SUNDAY TIMES: THE Greek government has been advised by British economists to leave the euro and default on its €300 billion (£255 billion) debt to save its economy.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), a London-based consultancy, has warned Greek ministers they will be unable to escape their debt trap without devaluing their own currency to boost exports. The only way this can happen is if Greece returns to its own currency.

Greek politicians have played down the prospect of abandoning the euro, which could lead to the break-up of the single currency. >>> Robert Watts | Sunday, May 30, 2010
Beijing in a Sweat as China's Economy Overheats

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: China is struggling to contain the threat of an overheating economy in the face of rising house prices, inflationary wage increases and a continuing surge in money supply, the head of the country’s second-largest bank has warned.

Guo Shuqing, chairman of China Construction Bank, said that the latest figures for China’s M1 money supply – a key predictor of inflation – had raised concerns that the country’s vast stimulus and bank-lending was running too hot.

“I saw the figures for last month and M1 is still very high, increasing 31pc from last year, which is one per cent higher than last month,” he said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

“We are seeing a lot of money coming to China which is creating a current and capital account surpluses.”

China’s regulators have introduced a raft of measures in recent weeks in an attempt to cool down the economy, forcing banks to raise the capital adequacy ratios and hitting second home buyers with regulation designed to drive speculators out of the property market.

However, Mr Guo warned that the effectiveness of measures to cool house prices, which have risen by up to 40pc this year in some major cities, could be blunted by the massive reserves of cash still being held by private developers. “Sales are falling but prices are not,” he said. “Developers have a lot of cash, so they’re not too concerned at the moment.”

“Property prices are definitely seeing something of a bubble, but it differs from city to city. You can see prices going very high on the coastline, but in the inland areas and western areas, even in provincial capitals, it’s still not so high.” >>> Peter Foster and Adrian Michaels in Beijing | Sunday, May 30, 2010
The New Poor: Blacks in Memphis Lose Decades of Economic Gains

THE NEW YORK TIMES: MEMPHIS — For two decades, Tyrone Banks was one of many African-Americans who saw his economic prospects brightening in this Mississippi River city.

A single father, he worked for FedEx and also as a custodian, built a handsome brick home, had a retirement account and put his eldest daughter through college.

Then the Great Recession rolled in like a fog bank. He refinanced his mortgage at a rate that adjusted sharply upward, and afterward he lost one of his jobs. Now Mr. Banks faces bankruptcy and foreclosure.

“I’m going to tell you the deal, plain-spoken: I’m a black man from the projects and I clean toilets and mop up for a living,” said Mr. Banks, a trim man who looks at least a decade younger than his 50 years. “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. But my whole life is backfiring.”

Not so long ago, Memphis, a city where a majority of the residents are black, was a symbol of a South where racial history no longer tightly constrained the choices of a rising black working and middle class. Now this city epitomizes something more grim: How rising unemployment and growing foreclosures in the recession have combined to destroy black wealth and income and erase two decades of slow progress. >>> Michael Powell | Sunday, May 30, 2010

Recession’s Toll on Black Wealth in Pictures >>>
Trichet pour une «fédération budgétaire»

Le président de la Banque centrale européenne défend un approfondissement de l'intégration budgétaire européenne. Photo : Le Figaro

LE FIGARO: Le président de la Banque centrale européenne appelle à plus de contrôle collectif des finances des Etats de la zone euro, dans une interview accordée au Monde. Il rejette «toutes les théories du complot», y compris une attaque anglo-saxonne contre l'euro.

«Nous sommes une fédération monétaire. Nous avons maintenant besoin d'avoir l'équivalent d'une fédération budgétaire», a défendu Jean-Claude Trichet, le président de la Banque centrale européenne (BCE) dans une interview au Monde daté de mardi. Il anticipe d'autre part une croissance meilleure que prévue en zone euro au deuxième trimestre.

Le banquier central tire les leçons de la crise : Il estime que la situation actuelle est due au non respect des règles budgétaires européennes. Et appelle à un renforcement sans précédent de l'intégration européenne, afin de renforcer le «contrôle et [la] surveillance de l'application des politiques en matière de finance publique». A plus court terme, il exhorte les Européens à adopter des «plans de retour progressif à la sagesse budgétaire, ce que vous appelez plans d'austérité».

Axel Weber, membre allemand du Conseil des gouverneurs de la BCE, a pour sa part souligné lundi que la zone euro a besoin meilleurs mécanisme de contrôle des Etats aidés, comme la Grèce. «Afin de renforcer les mesures préventives contre de tels cas, un accord sur la faillite (des Etats membres) devrait être sérieusement étudié», a-t-il aussi déclaré lors d'un discours à Mayence. >>> Par Guillaume Guichard | Lundi 31 Mai 2010

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Duty-free Cigarette Ban Is On the Cards

THE TELEGRAPH: CEO of World Duty Free reveals plans to remove tobacco from stores as airport retail chain endures a £250,000-a-day sales hit from British Airways strike

Cigarettes will disappear from Britain's duty free shops after a period of being sold from "behind closed doors" as the Government tightens anti-smoking laws.

Mark Riches, chief executive of World Duty Free, Britain's biggest airport shopping chain, expects to set up closed-off areas for cigarette sales from 2013, in which the brands won't be on display. The company aims to replace its most profitable product ahead of an expected total ban.

"We're not kidding ourselves that we'll have the business forever," Mr Riches said. While such a move is not imminent, "that's the direction we're heading in," he added.

Such a development would come as a blow to smokers as cigarettes cost £2.50 for a packet of 20 from tax-free shops compared with £6 on the high street. The new Government is expected to review Labour's plans for a ban on displaying tobacco in all shops from 2013. Mr Riches said his business will take a total ban in its stride. Airport shopping has already been transformed "out of all recognition" since the end of duty free limits within Europe in 1999, he said.

At that time tobacco was by far the biggest seller. Now World Duty Free's (WDF) biggest business is beauty products, which account for around 50pc of sales. Among its most popular products are Gucci aftershave and Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle perfume.

WDF's cigarette sales are falling by around 5pc a year, while the company's sales rose 6.4pc last year and 8.7pc in the first quarter of 2010, with revenues at £126m. WDF has 85 shops in the UK, with a flagship store at London's Heathrow Terminal 5 which takes in £100m a year. >>> Amy Wilson | Saturday, May 29, 2010
Barack Obama's Credibility Hits Rock Bottom After Oil Spill and Sestak Scandal

THE TELEGRAPH: The combination of Obama's passivity over the Gulf oil spill catastrophe and his cynical political manoeuvrings could spell disaster for him, argues Toby Harnden

The first thing Barack Obama probably should have done was to order the livestreaming Oil Spill Cam to be turned off. As the President insisted to Americans that he was "singularly focused" on staunching the flow, there was that mesmerising image on their television screens of plumes of hydrocarbons gushing relentlessly into the Gulf of Mexico.

When any political leader feels they have to declare that they are "fully engaged" in an issue, it is clear that they are in trouble. Talking about it undermines the very point you are trying to make - not to mention that pesky Oil Spill Cam showing that, 38 days into the Deepwater Horizon disaster, not a whole lot had been achieved.

Even judging Obama by his words, he has fallen woefully short over what has now eclipsed the 1989 Exxon Valdez wreck as biggest oil spill catastrophe in American history. He may have described it as an "unprecedented disaster" in last Thursday's press conference but a week into the crisis he was blithely stating that "this incident is of national significance" and rest assured he was receiving "frequent briefings" about it.

George W Bush's unpopularity and perceived incompetence was encapsulated by the way he dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Candidate Obama branded it "unconscionable incompetence".

Central to Obama's appeal was his promise to be truly different. His failure to achieve that is now at the core of the deep disappointment Americans feel about him. At the press conference - the first full-scale affair he had deigned to give for 309 days - he appeared uncomfortable and petulant.

His approach to the issue was that of the law student suddenly fascinated by a science project. He displayed none of the visceral indignation Americans feel about pretty much everything these days - two-thirds now say they are "angry" about the way things are going - resorting instead to Spock-like technocratic language and legalese. "I'm not contradicting my prior point," he stated at one juncture. During those 63 minutes of soporific verbosity, about 800 barrels of oil poured into the Gulf.

Obama engaged in the obligatory populist bashing of Big Oil and, of course, demonstrated the Obama administration's version of Tourette's Syndrome, blaming the previous administration for the situation when, by my reckoning, it's a full 16 months since Bush left office. Read on and comment >>> Toby Harnden in Washington | Saturday, May 29, 2010

HT: Pastorius

Related articles here
IMF Chief Defends Euro Amid Debt Crisis

Italy’s Rude Awakening: Perhaps la Vita Isn’t Always So Dolce After All!

THE TELEGRAPH: Italy is the latest eurozone nation to be threatened by finacial woe - after Silvio Berlusconi assured his compatriots for months that they had weathered the crisis.

They were the advance guard of an army of Italians whose anger is rising as their country joins the rest of the continent struggling with the worst economic crisis of recent times.

Waving banners, blowing whistles and chanting "Shame!", hundreds of public service workers rallied outside Italy's parliament in Rome to protest against the austerity package announced by the centre-Right government of Silvio Berlusconi.

The measures aim to shave 24 billion euros off government spending in the next two years.

They include a crackdown on tax evasion and welfare fraud, a three year salary freeze for Italy's 3.4 million civil servants and substantial cuts to regional government which will almost certainly result in less money for hospitals and schools.

In pushing through the package with an emergency parliamentary decree, Italy joined Portugal and Spain in trying to fend off contagion from the crisis which has brought deadly riots to Greece and shaken confidence in the euro. The cuts are greater in scale than the £6 billion of immediate savings recently announced by Britain's new coalition government, but are comparable with what the UK may face over the next 12 months.

The protesters, mostly women, who had gathered outside Italy's lower house of parliament in Piazza di Montecitorio, a cobbled square lined with expensive hotels and boutiques, were stung by the announcement and fearful for the future.

For months Mr Berlusconi had been assuring his countrymen that Italy has weathered the global economic crisis much better than the rest of Europe.

The government's overnight switch from breezy optimism to dire warnings of "very tough sacrifices" in order to spare Italy from a Greek-style bailout, and associated international ignominy attached, made the announcement of the austerity package all the more shocking to those with most to lose. Advance guard of angry women lead Italians into European protests over austerity cuts >>> Nick Squires in Rome | Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Portugal : La rue se mobilise contre le plan de rigueur du gouvernement

LE POINT: Des milliers de fonctionnaires et de salariés du privé se sont rassemblés, samedi après-midi, à Lisbonne pour participer à une grande manifestation nationale contre les mesures d'austérité annoncées par le gouvernement pour redresser les finances publiques. "Basta !", "Stop à la hausse du chômage", "Non à l'austérité" ou encore "Pour une stabilité de l'emploi", pouvait-on lire sur les pancartes et banderoles déployées au milieu de nombreux drapeaux syndicaux, tandis que des mégaphones crachaient : "Il faut que ça change !" "Nous ne voulons pas que la société portugaise tombe dans l'indifférence et se résigne", a déclaré à l'AFP Manuel Carvalho da Silva, secrétaire général de la CGTP, la principale confédération syndicale du pays, qui a appelé à cette journée d'action. >>> AFP | Samedi 29 Mai 2010
Angela Merkel im Land der nervösen Gläubiger

WELT ONLINE – Auszug: Manchmal werden innenpolitische Probleme kleiner, wenn man sie aus der Ferne betrachtet. Mit der Euro-Krise verhält es sich nicht so, erfährt die Kanzlerin in den heißen Tagen am Golf. Ob Emir, Ministerpräsident oder König – ausnahmslos jeder Gesprächspartner Merkels erkundigt sich nach der immer noch fallenden Währung.

Einer der Potentaten sorgt sich um die umfangreichen Anlagen, die sein Reich in der Gemeinschaftswährung hält. Ein anderer verdächtigt die Deutschen, den Kursverfall des Euro gezielt zu betreiben, um deutsche Exporte billiger zu machen. Ein dritter Despot fragt die Kanzlerin direkt, ob sie überhaupt noch an den Euro glaube.

Diese Männer, die ihre Staaten modernisieren, aber immer noch wie Familienbetriebe führen, scheint die Aussicht auf einen schwachen Euro in diesen Tagen noch stärker zu ängstigen als die Perspektive, mit dem Iran demnächst eventuell einen nuklear bewaffneten Nachbarn zu haben. Das Ganze hier lesen >>> Von Robin Alexander | Donnerstag, 27. Mai 2010
Staatsdefizite: Europa muss einen bitteren Sparkurs einschlagen

Bild: Welt Online

WELT ONLINE: Spätere Rente, höhere Abgaben, weniger Lohn: Von Sizilien bis Stockholm zerbrechen sich Finanzexperten den Kopf über Wege aus der Schuldenkrise. Seit 2008 hat sich das Staatsdefizit in der EU verdreifacht. Jetzt bekommt eine halbe Milliarde Menschen die Ausläufer des griechischen Bebens richtig zu spüren.

Blass sitzt Elena Salgado am Freitagmittag vor den Fernsehkameras im Madrider Regierungssitz Moncloa. Bedächtig legt Spaniens Wirtschaftsministerin Folie auf Folie; es sind Statistiken des Schreckens, die Salgado den Spaniern wieder einmal vorlesen muss.

Die Arbeitslosigkeit wird bis 2013 stärker ansteigen als die Regierung prognostiziert hatte. Und das am Vortag beschlossene neue Sparpaket von 15 Milliarden Euro, es reicht noch lange nicht. „Es werden weitere Maßnahmen folgen“, sagt Salgado. Wie auch immer sie es formulierte, es musste wie eine Drohung klingen.

Vom hohen Nordosten bis an die Südwestspitze Europas bekommt eine halbe Milliarde Menschen die Ausläufer des griechischen Bebens jetzt richtig zu spüren. Alle Regierungen wussten schon lange, dass ihre Finanzen nicht stimmen. Einige hatten sich bereits zu Beginn der Krise im Herbst 2008 zum Sparen durchgerungen, gezwungenermaßen, damit sie Gelder des Internationalen Währungsfonds (IWF) bekommen: Ungarn zum Beispiel, oder Lettland.

Doch erst der Absturz des Euro, die Achterbahnfahrt der Börsen und der milliardenschwere Rettungsschirm, gespannt am ersten Maiwochenende in Brüssel, haben in allen EU-Staaten eine nie gekannte Sparwelle ausgelöst. Seit 2008 hat sich das Staatsdefizit in der Union verdreifacht. Nun stehen einige Länder kurz vor dem Abgrund, andere müssen dringend die Schere ansetzen, um Schlimmeres zu vermeiden. Aber selbst jene, deren Verschuldung überschaubar und deren Wachstum zumindest existent ist, wollen lieber jetzt vorsorgen. Denn der Augenblick, so bitter es klingt, ist für die Politik günstig: Nie war den Europäern bewusster, dass es jetzt um alles geht. >>> Von Stefanie Bolzen | Samstag, 29. Mai 2010
Tensions Rise as Jobless Migrants Are Blamed for the Pain in Spain

TIMES ONLINE: The food bank in Vic, 40 miles north of Barcelona, occupies an old bakery in a side street. Each day hundreds of unemployed stream in to collect handouts of bread, milk, pasta and other necessities. The overwhelming majority are immigrants, predominantly Moroccans and sub-Saharan Africans who flocked to Vic in the past few years to work on building sites or in the huge pig farms and meat factories that surround the town and give it its distinctive smell.

At least 10,000 came, swelling Vic’s population by a quarter. They did the hard, dirty work and were welcomed. Not any more. Half lost their jobs when Spain’s construction bubble burst in 2008 and brought the good times to an abrupt end.

A deeply unpopular €15 billion (£12.7 billion) austerity package rushed through parliament yesterday will make life even harder. On top of that, the immigrants are now the target of Platform for Catalonia, Spain’s equivalent of the BNP, which is based in Vic. “Control immigration — stop the crisis,” its leaflets proclaim.

“They insult us. They say maybe we’re the cause of the crisis, that we take their jobs. It’s not fair and it’s not nice,” said Mercy Omoroagbon, 30, as she collected her handout. She arrived from Nigeria in 2002, lost both her cleaning jobs last year and now lives off the charity of friends.

“They say the Spanish can’t work because of the immigrants. It’s not true. We did the work the Spanish didn’t want or wouldn’t do,” said Joy Ekechukwu, 33, another Nigerian who came to Spain 11 years ago, lost her factory job and now struggles to support her two young children. Read on and comment >>> Martin Fletcher | Friday, May 28, 2010
Detroit to Bulldoze Thousands of Homes in Fight for Survival

THE TELEGRAPH: Tired of Detroit's status as the symbol of everything wrong with urban America, its new mayor has come up with a radical solution: to bulldoze the city.

David Bing, a businessman and former all-star basketball player who entered politics late in life, says he has no choice.

The 2010 census is expected to reveal a population of about 800,000, down from a peak of 1.8 million in the Motor City heyday of the late 1950s.

The long decline of the car industry and all its spin-off business has been exacerbated by the collapse of a housing market that has left prices close to what they were 50 years ago, when lifestyle magazines featured Detroit as the most desirable city in the United States.

Decent three-bedroom homes can be bought for $10,000, but no one wants to buy.

Decades of poor and at times corrupt administration have also taken their toll, and with the city facing a deficit of between $85 and $124 million this year, the answer, says Mr Bing, is to accept reality and reduce the size of the city.

"There is just too much land and too many expenses for us to continue to manage the city as we have in the past," he said. "If we don't do it, this whole city is going to go down."

Plans currently being devised would be the most revolutionary carried out by a major American city. >>> Alex Spillius in Detroit | Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday, 28 May 2010

Euro Plunges as Spain’s Debt Downgraded

TIMES ONLINE: The euro plunged and US stockmarkets dived tonight after Spain was stripped of its top-level credit rating by a leading rating agency over concerns about its economic growth.

In the latest blow to the eurozone, which is struggling to cope with the fallout from the Greek fiscal crisis, Fitch Ratings downgraded Spain’s sovereign credit rating — a measure of how easily it can meet the interest payment on its debt — by a notch from the top AAA rating to AA+.

Standard & Poor’s, another ratings agency, downgraded Spain’s rating for the second time to AA last month but Moody’s, the other major ratings agency, has maintained the rating at AAA.

Any downgrade in a sovereign credit rating will push up the interest that a country must pay on its debts. Brian Coulton, Fitch’s head of EMEA sovereign ratings, said that the process of cutting the country’s debt could slow economic growth.

Fitch queried Spain’s forecasts for economic growth, highlighting that the inflexibility of the labour market and the restructuring of regional and local savings banks could act as a drag on growth. >>> Gráinne Gilmore, Economics Correspondent | Friday, May 28, 2010
President Obama Attacks BP Over ‘Worst Oil Disaster’

TIMES ONLINE: President Obama launched a ferocious attack on BP and the oil industry yesterday as what is now officially the worst spill in US history threatened to derail his presidency.

Seizing the initiative on the first day of potentially good news from the Gulf of Mexico, Mr Obama cancelled or suspended dozens of offshore drilling projects and condemned a “scandalously close relationship” between oil companies and government regulators.

He said: “As far as I’m concerned, BP is responsible for this horrific disaster, and we will hold them fully accountable on behalf of the United States as well as the people and communities victimised by this tragedy. We will demand that they pay every dime they owe for the damage they’ve done and the painful losses that they’ve caused.”

While Coast Guard officials in the Gulf said that BP’s so-called top kill strategy to fill the gushing well with mud seemed to be working, the President warned that there was no guarantee of success yet.

In his first White House press conference in ten months, he said that he would leave it to others to judge whether this was “his Katrina” — a reference to the hurricane that destroyed President Bush’s reputation for competence — but said he was “confident that people will look back and say this Administration was on top of what was an unprecedented crisis”. >>> Giles Whittell, Washington | Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Is Europe Heading for a Meltdown?

THE TELEGRAPH: This financial crisis is worse than the sub-prime crash of 2008 because the sums are so much bigger and it is governments that are in dire straits. Edmund Conway explains the dangers.

Mervyn King, the Bank of England Governor, summed it up best: "Dealing with a banking crisis was difficult enough," he said the other week, "but at least there were public-sector balance sheets on to which the problems could be moved. Once you move into sovereign debt, there is no answer; there's no backstop."

In other words, were this a computer game, the politicians would be down to their last life. Any mistake now and it really is Game Over. Or to pick a slightly more traditional game, it is rather like a session of pass-the-parcel which is fast approaching the end of the line.

The European financial crisis may look and smell rather different to the American banking crisis of a couple of years ago, but strip away the details – the breakdown of the euro, the crumbling of the Spanish banking system to take just two – and what you are left with is the next leg of a global financial crisis. Politicians temporarily "solved" the sub-prime crisis of 2007 and 2008 by nationalising billions of pounds' worth of bank debt. While this helped reinject a little confidence into markets, the real upshot was merely to transfer that debt on to public-sector balance sheets.

This kind of card-shuffle trick has a long-established pedigree: after the dotcom bust, Alan Greenspan slashed US interest rates to (then) unprecedented lows, which helped dull the pain, but only at the cost of generating the housing bubble that fed sub-prime. It is not so different to the Ponzi scheme carried out by Bernard Madoff, except that unlike his hedge fund fraud, this one is being carried out in full public view.

The problem is that this has to stop somewhere, and that gasping noise over the past couple of weeks is the sound of millions of investors realising, all at once, that the music might have stopped. Having leapt back into the market in 2009 and fuelled the biggest stock-market leap since the recovery from the Wall Street Crash in the early 1930s, investors have suddenly deserted. London's FTSE 100 has lost 15 per cent of its value in little more than a month. The mayhem on European bourses is even worse, while on Wall Street the Dow Jones teeters on the brink of the talismanic 10,000 level.

Whatever yardstick you care to choose – share-price moves, the rates at which banks lend to each other, measures of volatility – we are now in a similar position to 2008. >>> Edmund Conway | Thursday, May 27, 2010
US Money Supply Plunges at 1930s Pace as Obama Eyes Fresh Stimulus

THE TELEGRAPH: The M3 money supply in the United States is contracting at an accelerating rate that now matches the average decline seen from 1929 to 1933, despite near zero interest rates and the biggest fiscal blitz in history.

The M3 figures - which include broad range of bank accounts and are tracked by British and European monetarists for warning signals about the direction of the US economy a year or so in advance - began shrinking last summer. The pace has since quickened.

The stock of money fell from $14.2 trillion to $13.9 trillion in the three months to April, amounting to an annual rate of contraction of 9.6pc. The assets of insitutional money market funds fell at a 37pc rate, the sharpest drop ever.

"It’s frightening," said Professor Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research. "The plunge in M3 has no precedent since the Great Depression. The dominant reason for this is that regulators across the world are pressing banks to raise capital asset ratios and to shrink their risk assets. This is why the US is not recovering properly," he said.

The US authorities have an entirely different explanation for the failure of stimulus measures to gain full traction. They are opting instead for yet further doses of Keynesian spending, despite warnings from the IMF that the gross public debt of the US will reach 97pc of GDP next year and 110pc by 2015. >>> Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Work or Lose Your Benefits

MAIL ONLINE: Britain’s welfare system is ‘bust’ and faces its most radical overhaul for 60 years to undo Labour’s legacy of benefit dependency, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith declared today.

The former Tory leader vowed to end the scandal that means welfare claimants are no better off – and sometimes poorer – if they come off the dole to take jobs paying up to £15,000 a year.

He also signalled that benefit payments to the middle classes were likely to be pared back in favour of income tax cuts – and the state pension age might have to rise more quickly than planned.

Giving his first newspaper interview since making an extraordinary return to the political frontline, Mr Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail the unemployed should do community work to keep benefits.

Those who refused to look for work, take jobs that were offered to them or do voluntary work would have their handouts stopped, he said.

Mr Duncan Smith said it was simply not ‘sustainable’ for Britain to carry on spending almost 14 per cent of its national income on welfare.

The bewilderingly complex benefits system should be radically simplified, and the perverse penalty against couples living together brought to an end, he added.

Mr Duncan Smith today published startling new evidence of the benefits culture and inequality that Labour has left behind after 13 years in power. Work or lose your benefits: Iain Duncan Smith heralds biggest shake-up of welfare state since the war >>> James Chapman | Thursday, May 27, 2010
News Hub: What Happens in Europe...

Cameron Offers No Comfort On Capital Gains Tax

David Cameron
David Cameron has yet to bow to a Tory backbench rebellion on Capital Gains Tax. Photo: Times Online

TIMES ONLINE: The Prime Minister this morning gave no immediate reassurance to hundreds of thousands of stock market speculators and second home owners who are scrambling to offload their assets to avoid the threat of higher Capital Gains Tax.

Questioned about the growing fury in the ranks of his own backbenchers about the government’s proposed tax raid on wealth, David Cameron would say only that entrepreneurs would be exempted from higher tax rates that would damage small businesses.

He showed no signs of backing down in the face of the campaign mounted by the former Cabinet minister John Redwood and the former shadow home secretary David Davis to protect the investments of retired people and the better off - many of them grassroots Tory supporters in the shires.

The coalition is proposing to raise CGT, currently set at 18 per cent on all gains over £10,100 a year, to a level closer to that of income tax - potentially up to 40 or even 50 per cent.

The move, which is integral to the coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats and expected to form part of the Chancellor’s emergency budget on June 22, is threatening the coalition with its first serious rift. >>> Jenny Booth | Thursday, May 27, 2010
News Hub: Apple Officially Bigger Than Microsoft

Apple's Market Cap Takes Lead over Microsoft

DAILY FINANCE: There was a time -- seems like ancient history, doesn't it? -- when Apple (AAPL) played David to Microsoft's (MSFT) Goliath.

No more. At the close of Wednesday's stock trading session, Apple's market capitalization stood at $222 billion, surpassing Microsoft, which had a value of $219 billion. Tech watchers hailed Apple's feat as the end of an era, changing of the guard, pick your metaphor.

The development is a symbolic victory for Apple, which has sparred with Microsoft for over two decades, as well as a sign of the times. Today, Apple is arguably the hottest company on the planet, while Microsoft -- still huge by any measure -- is falling behind. >>> Sam Gustin | Wednesday, May 26, 2010
AM Report: Is Gold the Next Bubble?

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Ordinary People Were Misled Over Impact of the Euro, Says Herman Van Rompuy

THE TELEGRAPH: Europe's "man in the street" was misled for years over the vast political and economic implications of the creation of "Euroland", Herman Van Rompuy has admitted.

The EU's president told a selected audience of civil servants and businessmen that the Greek debt crisis and euro zone bailout had come as a nasty shock to ordinary Europeans.

He said the public was not made aware of the full social and economic implications of the currency before it was created.

"Nobody ever told the proverbial man in the street that sharing a single currency was not just about making peoples' lives easier when doing business or travelling abroad, but also about being directly affected by economic developments in the neighbouring countries," he said on Tuesday evening. "Being in the 'Euro zone' means, monetarily speaking, being part of one 'Euroland'."

Public anger over the cost of supporting other euro zone governments, so far totalling £470 billion in taxpayer funded loans or guarantees, has created new political instability, especially in Germany.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor and her coalition government, lost its parliamentary majority two weeks ago following a furious reaction to a Greek bail-out that cost Germany's taxpayers £19 billion.

Public rage has since grown after Chancellor Merkel was last week forced to push through another £105 billion in loan guarantees intended to shore up southern European governments that most Germans regard as victims of their own profligate spending. >>> Bruno Waterfield in Brussels | Wednesday, May 26, 2010

UK Warned It Must Raise Interest Rates This Year

TIMES ONLINE: The Bank of England must raise interest rates by the end of this year to keep inflation in check, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development warned today.

The Bank of England is struggling to curb inflation which is currently 3.7 per cent — far above the Government’s inflation target of 2 per cent.

The interest rate has been at a historic low of 0.5 per cent since March last year. The OECD said that interest rates should start rising this year, and be at 3.5 per cent by the end of next year to keep inflation in check. This would cause misery for hundreds of thousands of mortgage borrowers who would see their monthly payments soar.

“The authorities face the challenge of preserving credibility, with headline inflation and some measures of inflation expectations exceeding the targeted rate,” the Paris-based group of 30 developed economies said in its twice-yearly report today.

“The gradual drift up of some measures of inflation expectations implies a need to increase interest rates earlier than previously thought and no later than the last quarter of 2010.” Read on and comment >>> Susan Thompson, Rebecca O’Connor | Wednesday, May 26, 2010
EU Proposes Bank Tax to End 'Unacceptable' Taxpayer Bailouts

THE TELEGRAPH: Banks must face new taxes to avoid repeating the 'unacceptable' bail-outs of failed banks that cost taxpayers billions, the European Union’s chief financial regulator warned.

Michel Barnier, the European Union market regulation chief, says he believes in the 'polluter pays principle.' Photograph: The Telegraph

European banks may face taxes on the size of their balance sheets, on how much they owe other institutions or on how much profit they make, Michael Barnier, the EU's Financial Services Commissioner said on Wednesday.

The cash raised would be used to pay for future bail-outs.

“It is not acceptable that taxpayers should continue to bear the heavy cost of rescuing the banking sector,” Mr Barnier said. "They should not be in the front line. I believe in the polluter pays principle.

"We need to build a system which ensures that the financial sector will pay the cost of banking crises in the future."

The plans by Mr Barnier come as the eurozone faces the biggest crisis in its short history, as investors fear that the debt crisis that engulfed Greece will spread.

However, there are divisions among European countries on how to implement the tax and what it should be used for.

France and Britain would like the money raised to reparing the hole in public finances, but Germany wants to ring-fence the levy. >>> | Wednesday, May 26, 2010
What's With All This Green?

Thai Businesses Look to Rebuild

Angela Merkel 'Naive' Over Euro, Claims European Commission Chief

THE GUARDIAN: José Manuel Barosso's public criticism of German chancellor signals growing political friction across eurozone

The head of the European commission today launched a strong attack on the German chancellor Angela Merkel's handling of the euro's crisis of confidence.

José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European commission, who is believed to be supported by a majority of the 27 member states, described Merkel's campaign to reopen the Lisbon treaty as "naïve". He said that the bill of almost €900bn for rescuing Greece and shoring up the euro would have been much cheaper had Berlin acted more swiftly, and accused the German government of failing to lead public opinion in defence of thebeleaguered single currency.

Barroso's surprisingly public criticism, in an interview with Germany's conservative newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, signalled the high-level political friction in the EU over how to restore faith in the single currency.

Barroso's staff, as well as the governments of many other EU member states, think the mixture of hard line and prevarication shown by Merkel since the crisis erupted in February have made a bad situation worse. They say that swift action in February would have deterred the financial markets and contained the crisis to Greece and its sovereign debt. >>> Ian Traynor | Tuesday, May 25, 2010

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG: Im Gespräch: José Manuel Barroso – „Manchmal haben Krisen auch ihr Gutes“ >>> FAZ | Dienstag, 25. Mai 2010

‘We Have to Help the Greeks,’ Say French, ‘It’s Our Duty’

TIMES ONLINE: It is a gloriously sunny Pentecôte bank holiday, and hundreds of people have descended on Morschwiller-le-Bas, a suburb of the French city of Mulhouse, for its annual marché aux puces — flea market.

The eurozone crisis is hardly uppermost in their minds as they pick through the mounds of second-hand clothes and bric-a-brac, but they respond when asked, and their views could scarcely be more different from those we found in Germany, a mere 15km (9 miles) to the east.

The hard-working Germans were furious at the €148 billion euros (£126.1 billion) in loan guarantees that their Government has offered the Greeks and other states of the southern eurozone. Here in France, nobody even knows how much their Government has put up (the answer is €111 billion) and there has been scarcely a murmur of dissent.

“If we consider Europe a serious matter we have to help the Greeks,” said Jacqueline Wertz, a retired hotel worker eating pizza in the shade. “They have to have more discipline, but we have a duty of solidarity and have to help,” agreed Martial Fixalis, 39, a businessman manning his own stall.

“We’re European, and it’s our role to help others,” said Josiane Mehlen, who was queueing at a beer stand and turned out to be Morschwiller’s mayor.

There are many explanations for this Gallic insouciance. The French believe in state intervention. Like the Greeks, they have their own sizeable black economy. Unlike the Germans, they are no fiscal saints themselves. Their national debt is 84 per cent of GDP — 6 per cent higher than Britain’s.

“Money is a means to an end. If you can live well with a deficit it’s not a big problem,” chuckled Denis Fauroux, a Mulhouse lawyer, as we ate lunch in his garden and admired the distant mountains of Les Vosges.

The French, with their 35-hour working week and propensity to retire early, do not share the German work ethic evident this week in Ludwigshafen, a four-hour train ride north up the Rhine valley. “Here it’s a Latin culture. The French have more sympathy with the Greeks than the Germans,” observed Marc Sarwatka, 44, the head of a large recruitment agency, over an early evening beer in the elegant Place de la Bourse.

Nor are they such sticklers for rules, as our translator observed when a French driver sped over a pedestrian crossing. “The Germans always stop,” she remarked.

Amongst the cognescenti, there is even a certain pride that President Sarkozy pressed Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, into backing the €750 billion bailout package. Read on and comment >>> Martin Fletcher | Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Tony Blair Lands Job With Silicon Valley's Khosla Ventures

THE GUARDIAN: Former prime minister to bring his 'global relationships' to venture capital firm

Tony Blair's lucrative list of business activities lengthened yesterday with a job as an adviser to a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Khosla Ventures, that specialises in promoting environmentally friendly technology.

The former prime minister is to lend his expertise and his "global relationships" to the California-based company, which is led by Indian-born billionaire Vinod Khosla, one of the founders of the computer firm Sun Microsystems.

Khosla recently raised $1bn from investors to pump into promising technologies aimed at cutting carbon emissions. He is a proponent of ethanol fuel as an alternative to petrol, and he has come in for criticism for benefiting from US government subsidies towards food-based ethanol production. >>> Andrew Clark in New York | Tuesday, May 25, 2010

MAIL ONLINE: Another $1m a year for Blair >>>
Finanzkrise und Korea-Konflikt: Europäische Börsen brechen ein, Euro unter Druck

WELT ONLINE: Negative Vorgaben aus Übersee und Sorgen um eine Verschärfung der politischen Situation in Korea haben den deutsche Aktienmarkt und die europäischen Börsen am Dienstag belastet. Der Dax fiel in den ersten Handelsminuten um 2,60 Prozent auf 5654,99 Punkte. Auch der Euro kennt weltweit nur eine Richtung. >>> Reuters/dpa/ws | Montag, 24. Mai 2010

Monday, 24 May 2010

Vision Offered by the Coalition Government in the Queen's Speech Will Offer Little to Help Victims of the Cuts

THE TELEGRAPH: It's a new nation under the coaltion government – but be warned: the newly poor will need a voice, says Mary Riddell.

Tomorrow, with all due pomp and pageantry, the Queen will tell Parliament that her Government will exercise "freedom, fairness and responsibility". Her speech, rooted in 500 years of tradition, will herald the birth of a modern nation.

The legislative programme outlined by Her Majesty is the gateway to a Britain in which children play in streets uncluttered by CCTV cameras and superfluous immigrants. These pupils, heading to sumptuous schools set up by (non-working?) parents, may walk past JobCentre Plus branches packed with benefit scroungers being shoehorned into gainful employment. Any anti-social elements disturbing the civic calm will be swiftly dealt with by our newly-politicised police. What happy days.

I do not mean to parody the Con-Lib agenda. Scrapping ID cards, curbing the excesses of the surveillance state and electoral reform are welcome and overdue. Even so, the upbeat pitch of today's proceedings stands in stark contrast to yesterday's.

The £6.25 billion cuts outlined by George Osborne sounded modest and, in some cases, positive. We can all sign up to a bit of quangocide and an end to first-class travel by civil servants. But these are the surface grazes before tax cuts kick in and the axe falls on the 300,000 public sector jobs threatened by efforts to cut the £157 billion budget deficit.

As the age of austerity dawns, the government is unfurling two contradictory visions of Britain. One is of a settled country reclaiming equality and freedom. The other shows a future so divisive that its strictures may rupture our tacit social contract and threaten civic peace. Obviously, cuts are essential, and Labour profligacy has made them more so. But the Coalition, still in its honeymoon, is being allowed to draw a veil over the pain to come. >>> Mary Riddell | Monday, May 24, 2010
EU-Kommissionspräsident Barroso: „Deutsche Wünsche sind naiv“

FAZ: EU-Kommissionspräsident Barroso äußert sich im Gespräch mit der F.A.Z. skeptisch über Forderungen aus Berlin, den Stabilitätspakt zu verschärfen, um Haushaltssünder sanktionieren zu können. Die Regierung Merkel sei mitschuldig an der weitverbreiteten Ablehnung der Euro-Rettungspakete. >>> | Montag, 24. Mai 2010
IMF Raises Fresh Concerns about the Spanish Economy

BBC: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has raised fresh concerns about Spain's economy, saying "far-reaching" reforms are needed to ensure its recovery.

It said the country faced "severe" challenges, including the need to urgently reform a "dysfunctional" labour market, and its banking sector.

The IMF's comments came after Spanish authorities had to rescue regional lender Cajasur at the weekend.

Last week, Spain's government passed austerity measures to cut its deficit.

This deficit - the money the administration has to borrow to pay for public services due to insufficient tax returns and other revenues - currently equates to 11% of Spain's economic output.

This is substantially higher than the eurozone ceiling of 3% and another concern that the IMF has highlighted.

It also pointed to Spain's property market slump, heavy indebtedness in the private sector, and weak productivity and competitiveness. >>> | Monday, May 24, 2010
Spending 'Shock Wave' Just the Start, Ministers Warn

THE TELEGRAPH: A £6 billion package of cuts in public spending is “only the first step” towards repairing Britain’s public finances and even tougher cuts will follow, ministers have warned.

David Laws, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said that today’s cuts – which will fall on Whitehall departments and local councils – are just a foretaste of a much larger and more painful austerity programme to be unveiled later this [year].

Mr Laws and George Osborne, the Chancellor today unveiled cuts worth a total of £6.2 billion, which will mean cuts in civil service job numbers, quango budgets and Whitehall spending on advertising and consultants.

Local councils will bear a large share of the cuts, which could raise questions about the services they deliver. There will be a cut of £311 million in the money handed to local authorities for education services like school transport.

Government payments into Child Trust Funds will also end. >>> James Kirkup, Political Correspondent | Monday, May 24, 2010

TELEGRAPH BLOG: George Osborne and David Laws show political will – but this was the easy bit >>> Benedict Brogan | Monday, May 24, 2010
On Location: Cannes – The Less Glamorous Side

South Korea Bans All Trade With North Over Cheonan Attack

TIMES ONLINE: President Barack Obama today said he “fully supports” the South Korean president and his response to the torpedo attack by North Korea that killed 46 South Korean sailors as the cross-border animosity between the two countries continues to rise.

South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak earlier today demanded that North Korea “immediately apologise and punish those responsible for the attack, and, most importantly, stop its belligerent and threatening behaviour” and announced it will take the case of the torpedoed Cheonan warship to the United Nations Security Council.

In a move which analysts described as “cautiously hard-line”, Mr Lee also said he would be suspending all exchanges between the two Koreas and imposing a total ban on North Korean ships passing through South Korean waters.

His government banned all trade, investment and visits with North Korea. South Korea also plans to reduce the number of workers in a joint factory park just inside the North which has long been an important source of income for the North Korean leadership.

The White House said Seoul can continue to count on the full backing of Washington. Read on and comment >>> Leo Lewis, Beijing | Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, 23 May 2010

EU Crisis Makes Cuts Imperative Says Clegg As Queen's Speech Is Leaked

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on the Andrew Marr show. Photograph: The Sunday Times

THE SUNDAY TIMES: Public spending cuts have been made imperative by the crisis in the eurozone, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said today as the new coalition Government prepared to start chipping away at Britain’s record £156 billion deficit.

Years of Labour “throwing money around like there was no tomorrow” had left a “black hole” in the country’s finances, he said.

Mr Clegg’s scathing assessment of the outgoing regime came as George Osborne, the Chancellor, prepared to announce tomorrow where the axe will fall for his first £6bn of cuts — most of which will be ploughed straight into paying off the deficit.

Having backed Labour’s assertion during the election campaign that cuts this year would jeopardise the fragile economic recovery, Mr Clegg told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show that turbulence in the eurozone had lent a greater urgency to balancing Britain’s books.

“I don’t think anybody could have anticipated then quite how sharply the economic conditions in the eurozone would have deteriorated and that the need to show that we are trying to get to grips with this suddenly became much greater,” the Liberal Democrat leader said.

“That is why we need to show at a more accelerated timetable than I had initially thought that we are going to get to grips with this great black hole in our public finances.

“The outgoing Labour Government was just throwing around money like there was no tomorrow, probably knowing that they were going to lose the election, making extraordinary commitments left, right and centre, many of which they knew they couldn't honour.

“So not only are we going to have to deal with cuts, we are also going to have to actually deal with some of the pledges that the Government made in the past which they didn’t even provide budgets for.

“The age of plenty where money could be thrown around in almost carelessness, which is what the outgoing Labour Government has done for some time, now is over.” Read on and comment >>> Sadie Gray | Sunday, May 23, 2010
Europeans Fear Crisis Threatens Liberal Benefits

THE NEW YORK TIMES: PARIS — Across Western Europe, the “lifestyle superpower,” the assumptions and gains of a lifetime are suddenly in doubt. The deficit crisis that threatens the euro has also undermined the sustainability of the European standard of social welfare, built by left-leaning governments since the end of World War II.

Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism.

Europeans have benefited from low military spending, protected by NATO and the American nuclear umbrella. They have also translated higher taxes into a cradle-to-grave safety net. “The Europe that protects” is a slogan of the European Union.

But all over Europe governments with big budgets, falling tax revenues and aging populations are experiencing rising deficits, with more bad news ahead.

With low growth, low birthrates and longer life expectancies, Europe can no longer afford its comfortable lifestyle, at least not without a period of austerity and significant changes. The countries are trying to reassure investors by cutting salaries, raising legal retirement ages, increasing work hours and reducing health benefits and pensions.

“We’re now in rescue mode,” said Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister. “But we need to transition to the reform mode very soon. The ‘reform deficit’ is the real problem,” he said, pointing to the need for structural change.

The reaction so far to government efforts to cut spending has been pessimism and anger, with an understanding that the current system is unsustainable.

In Athens, Aris Iordanidis, 25, an economics graduate working in a bookstore, resents paying high taxes to finance Greece’s bloated state sector and its employees. “They sit there for years drinking coffee and chatting on the telephone and then retire at 50 with nice fat pensions,” he said. “As for us, the way things are going we’ll have to work until we’re 70.” >>> Steven Erlanger | Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reporting was contributed by Maïa de la Baume and Scott Sayre from Paris, Niki Kitsantonis from Athens, and Elisabetta Povoledo from Rome.
The European Disunion - Will The Euro Survive?

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: As the currency crashes and the Continent is swept by protests, even key members such as Germany and France are starting to think the unthinkable about the euro.

Like many of Spain's 4.5 million unemployed, Cinthia Carvajal is on the verge of despair. The 41-year-old marketing executive has jobhunted non-stop for the last six months, but with the country in the grip of its worst recession in 50 years, there are precious few firms needing anything to be marketed.

She will now take whatever job she can find, but with unemployment running at 20 per cent nationally, the few offers come her way are generally less than tempting.

"I spend my whole time going for interviews," said Ms Carvajal, who receives €475 (£388) per month in unemployment benefits. "But often they want you to work on the black market to avoid paying taxes, and I'm not prepared to do that."

Spain's jobless rate is currently double the the average for the euro zone, rising to nearly 32 per cent in places like Cadiz, a windswept port that has never recovered since its shipbuilding yards went the same way as those on the Clyde.

The economy shrank nationwide by nearly four per cent last year, and in the bars of Cadiz's winding, cobbled streets, the sense is that things can only get worse - which, last week, they effectively did.

On Thursday, in a bid to avoid a Greek-style deficit crisis, the socialist administration of Prime Minister Jose-Luis Zapatero approved highly unpopular moves to slash public spending by €15 billion, which will include sacking 13,000 civil servants, trimming public sector wages by 5 per cent, and freezing state pensions.

Out, too will go to the €2,500 birth grant for all new-born children - just one of the generous social benefits that Madrid can no longer afford.

Mr Zapatero has billed it as a painful but necessary dose of financial medicine, but as in Greece, many of Spain's 45 million citizens seem reluctant to swallow what government deems good for them. >>> Harriet Alexander in Cadiz, Colin Freeman and Bruno Waterfield in Brussels | Sunday, May 23, 2010
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Euro – But Were Afraid To Ask

THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY: Confused at the single currency's crisis? Who wouldn't be? Don't worry. Our guide empowers you to bluff through any dinner party

Q&A: Your guide to Europe's financial situation:

What was the original idea behind the euro and its zone?

The idea dates back to 1969, when a European summit at The Hague made its creation an official ambition. However, it took 20 years for the plans to be properly prepared, when European Commission president Jacques Delors came up with a three-stage plan that, after a further delay, led to the then 12-strong eurozone in 1999. European politicians originally wanted a strong political and economic bloc to ensure that great wars were avoided. There was belief that the euro would be strong enough to avoid devaluation and compete with the mighty US dollar. >>> Questions answered by Simon Evans, Julian Knight, Mark Leftly and Margareta Pagano | Sunday, May 23, 2010
Berliners Dream of Return to Deutschmark

THE OBSERVER: Enthusiasm for single currency fades as resentment grows over Greek bailout

Waitress service in Berlin's Mitte district. The local joke is that the Greeks order and the Germans get the bill. Photograph: The Observer

In the back of the Berliner Republik bar on the banks of the river Spree, Matt, Otto and Christian's eyes are fixed on a screen in front of them. The names and prices of 18 German draught beers flash up, bright green on a black background, and change every few seconds, according to who has ordered what.

It's a pub game for the modern age, based on supply and demand. The trick is to buy the beer cheaply and then give yourself a pat on the back when demand pushes the price up.

"It gives a bit of a risqué edge to ordering," says Otto, a graphic designer. "But it also makes you feel strangely vulnerable."

The screen is more fruit machine than stock market, but it reflects the sense of playing a lottery common in Angela Merkel's Germany as it has pumped billions of euros into bailing out profligate Greece and propping up the single currency, without knowing whether the injection will do any good.

As the prices of the beers rise, news comes through from Frankfurt that in the real world Germany's DAX index has fallen 106.86 points, despite the €750m rescue package that the Bundestag has just narrowly approved. On Wall Street and elsewhere the markets wobbled, a sure sign that no one believed the crisis was anywhere near over.

On the pavement outside the bar, drawing on a cigarette, Pamela Schreiber pauses in contemplation. "Do I consider myself European? Well, of course, but first and foremost I'm a German," says the 33-year-old set designer with conviction.

The answer is not one that you would have expected a few years ago from a young person in Germany. This is the country where European enthusiasm has been easiest to find and where, since the war, European interests have taken precedence over nationalist ones. But, according to Schreiber, Germans feel increasingly torn over Europe.

"We always knew in our heart of hearts that the euro would never be as solid as our deutschmark, but we gave up our beloved currency, which was actually central to our identity, because we believed in the European project so fervently," she says.

Now there is talk, albeit based on blog gossip and a tabloid desire to whip up a good tale, of a return of the mark. Some even claim that secret supplies of the defunct currency – the strength of which was seen as a legacy of the sweat and tears that Germans spent to build up their ruined economy after the war – are being printed in secret underground locations. >>> Kate Connolly in Berlin | Sunday, May 23, 2010

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Joseph Stiglitz : "L'austérité mène au désastre"

LE MONDE: Joseph Stiglitz, 67 ans, Prix Nobel d'économie en 2001, ex-conseiller économique du président Bill Clinton (1995-1997) et ex-chef économiste de la Banque mondiale (1997-2000), est connu pour ses positions critiques sur les grandes institutions financières internationales, la pensée unique sur la mondialisation et le monétarisme. Il livre au Monde son analyse de la crise de l'euro.

Vous avez récemment dit que l'euro n'avait pas d'avenir sans réforme majeure. Qu'entendez-vous par là ?

L'Europe va dans la mauvaise direction. En adoptant la monnaie unique, les pays membres de la zone euro ont renoncé à deux instruments de politique économique : le taux de change et les taux d'intérêt. Il fallait donc trouver autre chose qui leur permette de s'adapter à la conjoncture si nécessaire. D'autant que Bruxelles n'a pas été assez loin en matière de régulation des marchés, jugeant que ces derniers étaient omnipotents. Mais l'Union européenne (UE) n'a rien prévu dans ce sens.

Et aujourd'hui, elle veut un plan coordonné d'austérité. Si elle continue dans cette voie-là, elle court au désastre. Nous savons, depuis la Grande Dépression des années 1930, que ce n'est pas ce qu'il faut faire. >>> Propos recueillis par Virginie Malingre, Londres Correspondante | Samedi 22 Mai 2010
Dow Slips Below 10,000 ... Again

Tesco Supports U.K. Alcohol Rules

Tesco is backing a ban on sales of alcohol at prices below cost. Photograph: The Wall Street Journal

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: LONDON—Britain's biggest supermarket said it supports the U.K. government's plan to ban the sale of alcohol at prices below cost, in response to proposals designed to curb binge drinking and rowdy behavior.

Tesco PLC, the country's biggest retailer by market share, also said it would support any government move to set minimum prices on beer, wine, alcoholic cider and spirits—a measure that has been much-debated in the U.K., but not explicitly proposed by the country's new coalition government.

The U.K. has been struggling with a rise in alcohol consumption that many people contend is fueling public disorder and violence. Health experts say cheap supermarket alcohol, irresponsible barroom promotions and longer pub opening hours have contributed to the problem. Binge-drinking became an issue during the election campaign, with all the parties vowing to crack down. >>> Jeanne Whalen and Paul Sonne | Saturday, May 22, 2010

Studie: Griechen haben alltägliche Korruption in ihrem Land satt

NEUE OSNABRÜCKER ZEITUNG: Die Bereitschaft der Griechen, mit der alltäglichen Korruption in ihrem krisengeschüttelten Land zu brechen, ist größer als bisher angenommen. Die überwältigende Mehrheit der Bürger verurteilt die gängige Praxis der Schmiergeldzahlung. Das geht aus einer Untersuchung von Transparency International hervor, aus der unsere Zeitung (Samstagausgabe) zitiert.

Nach dem Bericht des nationalen Zweiges der weltweit gegen Korruption kämpfenden Organisation halten 92 Prozent aller Griechen es für falsch, bei Anwälten, Ärzten, Banken oder Behörden Bestechungsgeld zu zahlen. 96 Prozent der Befragten sprechen sich dafür aus, die Annahme von Schmiergeld konsequent zu bestrafen. Drei von vier Griechen wünschen sich in diesem Zusammenhang, dass die Justiz unabhängiger wird. 73 Prozent der Bevölkerung plädieren für eine breite Aufklärungskampagne über Korruption in den Medien ihres Landes. Transparency hat für die Studie im vergangenen Jahr mehr als 6000 erwachsene Griechen durch Meinungsforscher befragen lassen. >>> reb Osnabrück. | Samstag 22 Mai 2010
Markets Left Reeling After Week Of Global Drama

THE TELEGRAPH: No one – not Britain, the US nor Japan – is immune to a Greek-style debt crisis, one of Europe's chief policymakers has warned, as investors reeled from a week of market drama.

The sovereign debt crisis could claim new victims, including those outside the euro area, according to Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, a member of the European Central Bank's executive board. He was speaking as finance ministers met in Brussels to discuss their response to the crisis.

The new Chancellor, George Osborne, urged them to cut deficits faster and with more urgency, pointing towards the £6bn of in-year spending cuts he is set to unveil on Monday.

The warning came on another tense day for capital markets worldwide.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 dipped briefly beneath the 5,000 mark, recovering later in the day but nevertheless closing down 10.2 points at 5062.93. The FTSE has fallen by 3.8pc this week alone, and is 13pc down on its peak in April.

Although markets across Europe spent most of the day in negative territory, they recovered in late trading after German politicians backed their part in the $1 trillion safety net euro area members are constructing to prevent re-runs of the Greek economic catastrophe. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones closed up 1.3pc at 10,193.39 points. Read on and comment >>> Edmund Conway, Economics Editor | Friday, May 21, 2010
Leading Article: The Euro Crisis Is a Political One and Britain Should Play Its Part

THE INDEPENDENT: When David Cameron planned his first foray into Europe as British Prime Minister he cannot have imagined that he would be entering a maelstrom.

But a financial maelstrom it is, with stock markets falling, the euro currency sliding and politicians openly talking about the biggest crisis for the union since the European Community was founded. That makes Mr Cameron's trip to Paris and Berlin this week seem more of a sideshow in the Continent, for all the pre-meeting suggestion of a clash between a Eurosceptic British leader and his European partners. But it also provides opportunities for forging a new relationship in crisis which the British premier could never have foreseen. >>> | Saturday, May 22, 2010
Hamish McRae: A Future Without the Euro Is a Distinct Possibility

THE INDEPENDENT: The global recession has changed everything, exposing grave structural problems within the European economy.

Fears about the future of the euro have helped plunge global markets into chaos, with share prices around the world reacting to the possibility that the eurozone will break up and that several of its member countries may default on their debts.

Will the euro survive? It is a question that, two years ago, would have seemed outrageous. Anyone who suggested that the eurozone was fatally flawed was branded as a Europhobe, someone who hated the European Union, not just its single currency. For the euro appeared a success. After a few wobbles, it had established itself as a major currency, while across the Continent, euros were making it easy for people to travel and trade. More important, adopting the euro seemed to have given a greater stability to countries that had previously had weaker currencies, such as Italy and Spain, cutting their interest rates and encouraging growth.

True, there were rumbles of discontent. Many in Germany felt the country had had to adopt too tough a policy to hold down its costs, whereas in Spain and Ireland the soaring property prices exposed the difficulties created by one-size-fits-all interest rates. Even more ominously, a number of countries, including France and Germany, had breached the rule in the Maastricht Treaty that fiscal deficits should not exceed 3 per cent of GDP. But while the boom continued, these problems seemed a small price for the stability it gave the Continent. >>> Hamish McRae | Saturday, May 22, 2010

Anlagen: Der Krügerrand ist der Renner

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG: Gold ist wegen der Euro-Krise beliebt wie nie. Der Bedarf ist sogar noch höher als zur Finanzkrise im Jahr 2008 - das treibt den Preis. Doch die Goldanlage hat auch Tücken.

Wenn Christof Wilms über die Wahl seiner Kundschaft berichtet, dann ist die Sache eindeutig: „Die meisten Kunden kennen den Krügerrand und deshalb investieren sie in ihn“, sagt Wilms, der den Goldhandel der Reisebank leitet. Das Unternehmen gehört zu den großen Händlern im Edelmetallgeschäft und versorgt in Deutschland 1200 Banken mit Edelmetallen, verfügt aber auch über 100 eigene Filialen.

Der Krügerrand aus Südafrika ist die Goldmünze, die auf der Welt am weitesten verbreitet ist. Kein Wunder, dass nicht nur die geübten Münzsammler derzeit daran großes Interesse haben, sondern auch diejenigen Käufer, die in Zeiten der Euro-Krise zum ersten Mal ihr Geld in Gold anlegen. Es gibt aber nicht nur den Krügerrand, sondern auch Nuggets, also australische Goldmünzen oder die kanadische Maple-Leaf-Münze. „Sie haben alle den selben Goldanteil, sind aber deutlich günstiger als der Krügerrand“, sagt Wilms. Derzeit koste der Krügerrand abhängig der Stückelung zwischen 1003 Euro bis 1010 Euro, berichtet er. „Andere Goldmünzen sind allerdings um 10 bis 20 Euro je Unze günstiger, weil sie ein geringeres Aufgeld haben.“ Das Aufgeld fällt etwa für die Prägekosten an.

Für Anleger, die in Gold investieren wollen, ist daher das Edelmetall preiswerter zu haben, wenn sie sich für andere Münzen als den Krügerrand entscheiden. Ob Krügerrand oder etwa Nugget: Sie bestehen immer aus einer Unze Gold, das sind 31,1 Gramm. Doch der Krügerrand ist die bekannteste Goldmünze, darauf setzen die Anleger. Die Folge: Mancher Händler muss seine Kunden vertrösten und kann nicht gleich liefern. Bedarf doppelt so hoch wie zur Finanzkrise im Jahr 2008 >>> Von Tim Höfinghoff | Freitag, 21. Mai 2010