Tuesday, 31 August 2010

UK Consumer Confidence Rises Sharply Despite Austerity Onslaught

THE TELEGRAPH: UK consumer confidence bounced back sharply in August despite the austerity onslaught and rising fears of a double-dip recession, confouding those who thought fiscal tightening would set off a self-feeding downward spiral.

The GfK/NOP index rose four points to -18, breaking the steady downward trend since February. Nick Moon, head of GfK NOP Social Research, said this flicker of optimism comes just in time.

"Consumer confidence has been in constant decline for the past five months and a further fall would have made a double-dip recession seem a very real prospect. The Government will undoubtedly read these figures with a great deal of relief," he said.

A susbstantial chunk of the country thinks the overall economic situation will improve over the next year even if their own affairs will not, suggesting broad acceptance that austerity is the right course.

Mr Moon cautioned against reading too much into a single month's data and said the index remains very low by historical standards. "This gain merely reverses a large drop in July. Confidence in the economy's future prospects remains below its June level and similar to May 2009 when we were still in the grips of recession," he said. The index is hovering near levels seen during the credit crisis, the ERM debacle in the early 1990s, and the three-day working week in the 1970s.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) warns today that Britain's job's market will remain "extremely weak" over the next five years, with unemployment breaching 10pc in much of the North, the Midlands, Wales and Ulster. >>> Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor | Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Liliane Bettencourt, L’Oréal heiress and France’s richest woman. Photo: Google Images

L'Oréal Heiress Liliane Bettencourt Writes Photographer Out of Her Will

THE TELEGRAPH: The celebrity photographer accused of abusing the trust of L'Oreal [sic] heiress Liliane Bettencourt, France's richest woman, has been written out of her will - depriving him of an estimated 1.25 billion euros.

Mrs Bettencourt's lawyer, Georges Kiejman, said that the 87-year-old billionairess has decided "enough was enough" and that Francois-Marie Banier should no longer be named in the will.

"Liliane Bettencourt feels she had already given a lot to Mr Banier, so she ended the arrangement which made him her sole named heir," he said.

Mr Kiejman said the change had been made in France in mid July, and no one else had been added to the will in his place.

Mr Banier, 63, was Mrs Bettencourt's sole legatee in the will drawn up in December 2007.

He was set to receive around eight percent of Mrs Bettencourt's fortune, or an estimated 1.25 billion euros, a member of Bettencourt's entourage said in July.

Mrs Bettencourt's estranged daughter Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers and grandchildren would have received the rest of her fortune. >>> | Saturday, August 28, 2010

Banier n'est plus le légataire universel de Bettencourt

Liliane Bettencourt et Francois-Marie Banier. Photos : Le Point

LE POINT: Le photographe François-Marie Banier n'est plus le légataire universel de Liliane Bettencourt, a affirmé samedi à l'AFP l'avocat de la milliardaire, Me Georges Kiejman, confirmant ce qu'il a déclaré au journal Le Monde daté de dimanche-lundi. C'est à la mi-juillet que Mme Bettencourt a mis fin à cette disposition, prévue dans son testament daté du 11 décembre 2007, a ajouté l'avocat. Elle a rédigé cette révocation sur une simple feuille, sans choisir de nouveau légataire, et ce document papier a été remis fin juillet à son notaire, Jean-Michel Normand. >>> Source AFP | Samedi 28 Août 2010

Friday, 27 August 2010

The Worst Publicity Stunt of the year? Putting President Obama on a Dollar Bill Is Simply Ridiculous

THE TELEGRAPH – BLOGS – NILE GARDINER: British graphic design firm Dowling Duncan has come up with a series of controversial ideas for the Dollar Redesign Project, an open competition run by New York designer Richard Smith (and not associated with the US government). According to their ambitious PR spiel: “we want to rebrand the US Dollar, rebuild financial confidence and revive our failing economy.”

The new garish multicolour notes conceived by the firm bear a striking stylistic resemblance to the Euro, and remove America’s Founding Fathers altogether. The company has proposed replacing George Washington with Barack Obama on the new dollar bill, and Benjamin Franklin with Franklin D. Roosevelt on the $100 dollar note.

Dowling Duncan, whose corporate clients include some big names such as Apple, Gap, Google, HP and Microsoft, obviously think this is a smart PR move, designed to win it global publicity and enhance its profile in the States where it has an office in San Francisco. But I very much doubt it will play well outside of diminishing left-wing circles on the East and West Coasts. If anything the publicity it gains with its Barack Obama stunt is highly likely to lose it business rather than bring in more revenue, especially in Middle America. Continue reading and comment >>> Nile Gardiner | Friday, August 27, 2010
Cuba Ends Smoking Subsidy for Elderly in Attempt to Reduce Spending

THE TELEGRAPH: Elderly Cubans will no longer be entitled to state-subsidised cigarettes after President Raul Castro axed the programme in the latest austerity cuts designed to jump-start the country's sputtering economy.

Beginning next month, some 2.5 million Cubans over the age of 54 no longer will get their four packs of cigarettes as part of the country's ration programme, the government announced on Wednesday.

"The Council of Ministers has resolved to eliminate cigarettes from the rationed family basket as of September as part of the measures gradually being adopted to limit state subsidies," an official statement said.

The cigarettes "are not a primary necessity", it added.

Mr Castro last month said that communist-ruled Cuba's ration system eventually will be eliminated as he moves to modernise the island's economy. >>> | Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cuba Stubs Out Cigarette Rations for Older People

THE GUARDIAN: Government to end monthly handouts of heavily subsidised cigarettes to over-54s as part of attempts to revive economy

While Fidel Castro gave up his cigars in 1985 for health reasons, the country's older population continued to receive cigarette rations when many other subsidised items were cut in the recession of the 1990s. Photograph: The Guardian

Cuba's more mature cigarette smokers will soon discover that economics is no respecter of borders, trade embargoes or even vices.

From next month the Cuban government will cease its monthly handouts of four packs of heavily subsidised cigarettes to around 2.5 million Cubans over the age of 54.

The measure has not been prompted by concerns for the health of the island's senior citizens. Cuban authorities describe it as another measure aimed at jump-starting the spluttering economy.

"The council of ministers has resolved to eliminate cigarettes from the rationed family basket as of September as part of the measures gradually being adopted to limit state subsidies," read an official statement. Cigarettes, it went on, "are not a primary necessity". >>> Sam Jones and agencies | Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Euro gegenüber Franken auf neuem Allzeittief: Furcht vor Konjunktureinbruch und Schuldenkrise belasten

NZZ ONLINE: Konjunkturängste und die grosse Verunsicherung der Anleger haben den Franken wieder zur stark gesuchten Währung gemacht. Entsprechend fiel der Euro am frühen Morgen im asiatischen Handel vorübergehend auf weniger als 1.30 Franken.

Der Euro ist am frühen Morgen im asiatischen Handel vorübergehend auf 1.29805 Franken gefallen. Damit stand er im Vergleich zum Franken so tief wie noch nie. Später erholte sich die europäische Währung wieder etwas.

Schuldenkrise wird wieder zum Thema

Der Schweizer Franken sei weiterhin die gefragte Währung, sagten Beobachter. Er gilt vielen Anlegern als sicherer Hafen, die Aktienanlagen nicht mehr trauen. Zunehmende Konjunkturängste und die Furcht vor einem Wiederaufflackern der Schuldenkrise haben am Dienstag die Börsen weltweit deutlich ins Minus gedrückt und den Appetit auf risikoärmere Investments wie den Franken angeregt.

Zudem senkte die Ratingagentur Standard & Poor's die Kreditwürdigkeit Irlands am Dienstag; zudem beurteilt sie den Ausblick für das Land negativ. Die Agentur begründet die Herabstufung mit wesentlich höheren Kosten für die Stützung der Finanzsektors als bisher angenommen. >>> chs. | Mittwoch 25. August 2010
Adam Fergusson: Inflation Lessons for the UK

THE TELEGRAPH: Adam Fergusson's 1975 book on hyper-inflation in the Weimar, When Money Dies, has become a cult read among Europe's top financiers after the Sage of Omaha Warren Buffet is said to have recommended it. He tells Robert Miller where parallels could occur if inflation were to take hold in Britain.

To the video >>>

Monday, 23 August 2010

Australian Election: Dollar Falls at Prospect of Hung Parliament

THE TELEGRAPH: The Australian dollar has fallen as the markets react to the prospect of a hung parliament following the weekend’s inconclusive election.

Tony Abbott, opposition leader and Julia Gillard, Australia's Prime Minister. Photos: The Telegraph

Saturday’s cliff-hanger general election has left the incumbent Labour Party with 70 seats and the Liberal-National Coalition with 72 seat in the House of Representatives – well short of the 76 seats needed to form a government.

Julia Gillard, the current Labour prime minister, and Tony Abbott, leader of the opposition are currently trying to win over the support of the three new independent MPs and one Green Party MP – each claiming to have the moral right to form government. The Greens already hold the balance of power in the Senate, Australia’s upper house.

But it could be up to 10 days before a final result is known. If neither Ms Gillard nor Mr Abbott is able to stitch together a working arrangement with the independents and Greens, the country could have to go straight back to the polls to settle the matter. >>> Mark Chipperfield, Sydney | Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Interest Rates 'May Hit 8pc' in Two Years

THE TELEGRAPH: Interest rates may rise to 8pc within two years to choke off soaring inflation, according to radical new research.

Andrew Lilico, chief economist at the influential Policy Exchange think tank, has warned of an interest rate environment not seen since the 1990s. He said the rise could happen as the recovery beds in and Government measures to stave off a recession lead to an explosion in the money supply. Mr Lilico also warned of a return to "boom and bust", as ballooning inflation threatens to tip the economy back in to recession in 2013 or 2014. >>> Philip Aldrick | Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Appeal of Sukuk Spreads Beyond Strongholds

FINANCIAL TIMES: Malaysia and the Gulf have been the traditional strongholds of Islamic bond issuance, but the market is beginning to broaden to other countries, Muslim and otherwise.
On Monday Norton Rose, the law firm, revealed it had advised on a $10m mini-issue by International Innovative Technologies, a maker of industrial milling machines in north-east England. It raised $10m from Millennium Private Equity, based in Dubai.

Millennium will be the sole investor in the sukuk, which will be listed on the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange. The sukuk will pay 10 per cent a year and expire in 2014. It uses a musharaka structure, also known as profit and loss sharing, allowing Millennium an option to take a stake in IIT.

The offering is the first by a European corporate. Other prominent international companies, though, have tested the waters. >>> Robin Wigglesworth | Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Barack Obama Earns Lowest Marks on Handling of the Economy

THE TELEGRAPH: Barack Obama has earned his lowest ever marks on his handling of the economy, as only 41 per cent said they approve of his performance, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted by Associated Press-GfK, taken just 11 weeks before the Midterm elections, found his approval rating dropped from 44 per cent in April. It also found that 61 per cent say the economy has got worse or stayed the same under Mr Obama’s presidency. >>> | Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tensions Rise in Greece as Austerity Measures Backfire

Photograph: Spiegel Online Internation

SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERNATIONAL: The austerity measures that were supposed to fix Greece's problems are dragging down the country's economy. Stores are closing, tax revenues are falling and unemployment has hit an unbelievable 70 percent in some places. Frustrated workers are threatening to strike back.

The feast of the Assumption of Mary on Aug. 15 is the high point of summer in the Greek Orthodox world. Here in one of the country's many churches, believers pray to the Virgin for mercy, with many of them falling to their knees.

The newspaper Ta Nea has recommended that the Greek government adopt the very same approach -- the country's leaders have to hope that Mary comes up with a miracle to save Greece from a serious crisis, the paper writes. Without divine intervention, the newspaper suggested, it will be a difficult autumn for the Mediterranean state.

This dire prognosis comes even despite Athens' massive efforts to sort out the country's finances. The government's draconian austerity measures have managed to reduce the country's budget deficit by an almost unbelievable 39.7 percent, after previous governments had squandered tax money and falsified statistics for years. The measures have reduced government spending by a total of 10 percent, 4.5 percent more than the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) had required.

The problem is that the austerity measures have in the meantime affected every aspect of the country's economy. Purchasing power is dropping, consumption is taking a nosedive and the number of bankruptcies and unemployed are on the rise. The country's gross domestic product shrank by 1.5 percent in the second quarter of this year. Tax revenue, desperately needed in order to consolidate the national finances, has dropped off. A mixture of fear, hopelessness and anger is brewing in Greek society. >>> Corinna Jessen in Athens | Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Time Is Running Out for the West

THE TELEGRAPH: The Great Recession has dramatically shrunk the time left for the big AAA states to prevent a full-blown sovereign debt crisis as their demographic time-bomb threatens, US rating agency Moody's has warned.

Moody's expects Britain's public debt to reach 90pc of GDP within three years. Photo: The Telegraph

"Genuinely adverse debt dynamics were only expected to materialise in 15 to 20 years. The crisis has 'fast-forwarded' history, eroding all the time available to adjust, " said the group's quarterly Sovereign Monitor.

Moody's fears that the US will crash through its safety buffer by 2013 if growth falters (adverse scenario), with interest payments topping 14pc of tax revenues. The debt-to-revenue ratio has already doubled in three years to 430pc.

The US, UK, Germany, France, and Spain are all at risk of an "interest rate shock", either because they must roll over a cluster of short-term debt (US, France, Spain) or because deficits are so large.

Countries that "fail to demonstrate the level of social cohesion required to stabilise debt" will lose their AAA rating. "Intra-generational" conflict between young and old requires careful handling. States that delay pension reform risk spiralling downwards.

Moody's said the world had changed since Europe's debt crisis. None of the large sovereign states can still assume it is credit-worthy. "The burden of proof now falls on governments," it added. Read on and comment >>> Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Coalition Will Improve Lives Not Offer Handouts, Vows Nick Clegg

THE TELEGRAPH: The Coalition Government will try to boost social mobility by ''improving people's lives'' rather than giving them handouts, Nick Clegg has insisted.

The Deputy Prime Minister accused Labour of spending ''huge sums'' on welfare for low-income households without any ''discernable impact'' on the life chances of their children.

Mr Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, confirmed that former minister Alan Milburn has been appointed as the Government's independent reviewer on social mobility.

Speaking at an event organised by the CentreForum think-tank, Mr Clegg said: ''Under Labour huge sums of money were spent pushing low-income households just above the statistically defined level of household income - sometimes by just a few pounds a week - but with no discernible impact on the real life chances of the next generation.

''Tackling poverty of opportunity requires a more rounded approach. Welfare reform, for example, should be based on the need to improve people's lives, not just raise their incomes. >>> | Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Toronto Housing Slump Deepens

Sales down 29% in the first two weeks of August compared to year ago. Photo: The Globe and Mail

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: The slump in housing sales accelerated in August, the Greater Toronto Real Estate Board said.

Sales in Toronto were down 29 per cent in the first two weeks of August compared to last year. The average sale price was $412,934, 3.5 per cent lower than mid-July.

The number of new listings were 8 per cent lower than last year at 4,770.

“It makes sense that the number of transactions has dipped over the past few months in comparison to last year's record results,” said board president Bill Johnston. >>> | Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Bank of England Gives Warning Over High Inflation

THE TELEGRAPH: British consumers should prepare for lingering higher inflation, the Bank of England Governor has warned, as latest figures show a sharp jump in food prices.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed a 3.4pc increase in the cost of food over the last year, with fruit being 10pc more expensive. The last year also saw a sharp rise in the cost of travel, which climbed an average 7.8pc.

Mervyn King, the Bank's Governor, voiced surprise that prices are higher than he had expected in a letter of explanation to the Chancellor George Osborne. While the overall consumer prices edged down to 3.1pc from 3.2pc in June, it remains above the Bank's own 2pc target, and the small decline will do little to ease the fear of some economists that a high cost of living will undermine Britain's fragile recovery.

Mr King must write to the Treasury each month that inflation exceeds 3pc, and he said he is likely to have to send several more letters. Inflation will probably not return to target until the end of 2011, he said.

"Food price inflation has moved up strongly ... and that's perhaps a trend that's going to continue over the next 12 months," said Philip Shaw, an economist at Investec. >>> | Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Monday, 16 August 2010

American Dream on Brink of Collapse? : Many parents no longer believe that their children will have better lives, more opportunities than they did

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Jobless Millions Signal Death of the American Dream for Many

THE OBSERVER: Even the criminals have fallen on hard times in America's poorest city as the long-term unemployed struggle to keep a grasp on normality

Union members hold up "I want to work" placards as they join a protest of several thousand people demanding jobs outside City Hall in Los Angeles on August 13, 2010. Photograph: The Observer

Richard Gaines is one of the best-known faces on Camden's Haddon Avenue. It is a rough-and-tumble street, lined with cheap businesses and boarded-up houses, and is prey to drug gangs. Gaines, 50, runs a barbershop, a hair salon and a fitness business. He works hard and is committed to his community. But Haddon Avenue is not an easy place to make a living in the best of times. And these are far from the best of times.

Just how badly the great recession has struck this fragile New Jersey city, which is currently the poorest in America, was recently spelled out to Gaines. In happier times – whatever that might mean for a city as destitute as Camden – local businesses on Haddon Avenue could at least rely on a bit of trade from those who made their money on the street.

Young men bought flashy clothes and got sharp haircuts and always paid in cash. But no longer. The economy is now so bad in Camden that even the criminals are struggling and going short. "Even the guys who got money from illegal means really don't want to spend it," Gaines said.

Such a development, though, is just a snapshot of the deep problems still hitting the wider American economy. Growth rates are stuttering and a recovery is struggling to take hold. It may even now be showing signs of going backwards again, as countries such as Germany start to power forward. Joblessness has taken hold in America, with the numbers of long-term unemployed reaching levels not seen since the Depression of the 1930s. The figures are frightening and illustrate a society that remains in deep trouble.

The headline jobless figure of 9.5% is bad enough but does not begin to convey the problem as it fails to measure those who have stopped looking for work. Over the past three months alone more than a million Americans have fallen into that category: effectively giving up hope of finding a job and dropping out of the official statistics. Such cases now number some 5.9 million and their ranks are likely to grow as millions more find their jobless status becoming a permanent state of hopelessness. Surveys show that with each passing week on the dole their chances of finding a job get slimmer.

Though corporations, especially in the banking sector, are posting healthy profits, they are not hiring new workers. At the same time, government cuts are sweeping through city and state governments alike, threatening tens of thousands of jobs and slicing away at services once thought vital. Schools, street lighting, libraries, refuse collection, the police, fire services and public transport networks are all being scaled back. >>> Paul Harris | Sunday, August 15, 2010

Friday, 13 August 2010

Savings Accounts Will Become 'Obsolete'

THE TELEGRAPH: Savings accounts will become “totally obsolete” if inflation rises next week, experts have warned.

Latest figures suggested that not a single saver in Briton would make a real return on their cash if the cost of living continues to rise.

Historically low interest rates and the government’s preferred measure of inflation, the Consumer Prices Index, at 3.2 per cent means savers are already struggling to get an income.

There are currently no accounts available to higher rate taxpayers that provide a real rate of return after tax and inflation, and just a handful available to basic rate taxpayers. But even these could be nudged off the savings landscape, financial experts warned.

They suggested that if CPI rises to above 3.8 per cent, there will be no point any taxpayer using a savings account to produce an income.

In this situation, savers would actually end up losing money and could end up being more than £300 out of pocket in a year on a £10,000 investment.

Darren Cook, of personal finance website Moneyfacts, said: “If inflation rises to 3.8 per cent, all savings accounts will effectively be totally obsolete. >>> Myra Butterworth, Personal Finance Correspondent | Friday, August 13, 2010
German Economy Surges Ahead at Record Pace

THE GUARDIAN: Germany's 2.2% growth helps eurozone to outpace US / Every eurozone country except Greece now out of recession / Euro strengthens, with potential threat to Europe's competitiveness

Germany has seen strong demand for exports along with a recovery in construction drive growth higher than market expectations. Photograph: The Guardian

The German economy grew at its fastest pace in the second quarter since the country was reunified two decades ago, fuelling the strongest growth in the eurozone in more than two years.

Europe's largest economy powered ahead between April and June, growing by 2.2%, thanks to a recovery in construction and strong foreign demand for German goods, the federal statistical office, Destatis, reported today. This was well above market expectations of 1.4% growth. Growth in the first quarter was revised higher to 0.5% from 0.2%.

Germany's stellar performance helped the 16-member eurozone grow by 1% in the second quarter, the strongest growth rate since the first quarter of 2008 and a strong improvement on the 0.2% recorded for the first three months of this year. No detail is available yet, but exports, investments and a backlog of work in the construction sector after a harsh winter are expected to have been the main factors driving growth.

"After three difficult months of eurozone battering, today's numbers will help to heal the eurozone's wounds. For the first time since the second quarter of 2009, the eurozone outpaced the US economy," said Carsten Brzeski at ING.

America grew by around 0.6% in the second quarter of 2010, slower than earlier in the year.

Every eurozone country except Greece has now come out of recession. Only Greece experienced a sharp drop of 1.5%. The best performers were led by Germany, the Netherlands (0.9%), Austria (0.9%), Belgium (0.7%) and France (0.6%), while Spain (0.2%) and Portugal (0.2%) are still lagging behind. >>> Julia Kollewe | Friday, August 13, 2010

Eurozone GDP: What the Economists Say

THE GUARDIAN: Germany reported an impressive 2.2% growth in the second quarter today, the strongest since the country was reunified two decades ago. This helped fuel growth in the 16-member eurozone, which expanded by 1%, compared with just 0.2% in the first three months of the year. France expanded by 0.6% while Spain recorded lacklustre growth of 0.2%. Here is what economists made of today's figures. >>> | Friday, August 13, 2010

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Greek Economy Shrinks, Jobless Rate Jumps

THE TELEGRAPH: The Greek economy shrank by 1.5pc in the second quarter and the unemployment rate jumped to 12pc, pointing to a deepening recession as the country battles a debt crisis.

A shopper walks by a shop offering discounts of up to 70pc due to the economic crisis. Photo: The Telegraph

A fall in investment and a "significant" reduction in public consumption had dampened overall output, the national statistics office said.

The disappointing official GDP figures pushed up the cost of protecting Greek government debt against default on Thursday. It now costs €795,000 a year to insure an exposure of €10m of Greek government bonds, according to CDS monitor Markit.

Greece is in a deep economic crisis after being forced to adopt harsh austerity measures to rebalance its public finances following a €110bn (£90bn) rescue from the EU and IMF. >>> | Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Stunning Decline of Barack Obama: 10 Key Reasons Why the Obama Presidency Is In Meltdown

THE TELEGRAPH – BLOGS – NILE GARDINER – An Extract: Growing disillusionment with the Obama administration’s handling of the economy as well as health care and immigration has gone hand in hand with mounting unhappiness with the President’s aloof and imperial style of leadership, and a growing perception that he is out of touch with ordinary Americans, especially at a time of significant economic pain. Barack Obama’s striking absence of natural leadership ability (and blatant lack of experience) has played a big part in undermining his credibility with the US public, with his lacklustre handling of the Gulf oil spill coming under particularly intense fire.

On the national security and foreign policy front, President Obama has not fared any better. His leadership on the war in Afghanistan has been confused and at times lacking in conviction, and seemingly dictated by domestic political priorities rather than military and strategic goals. His overall foreign policy has been an appalling mess, with his flawed strategy of engagement of hostile regimes spectacularly backfiring. And as for the War on Terror, his administration has not even acknowledged it is fighting one. Read it all and comment >>>
Long-Term Prospects for the World’s Economies

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Capital columnist David Wessel surveys the landscape over the next 40 years and makes some predictions about what the world's economies will look like.

Nuns Accuse Banks in $5m Lawsuit

THE TELEGRAPH: Germany's Deutsche Bank and US investment bank Morgan Stanley are facing a $5m lawsuit led by a group of Irish nuns.

No banker is likely to risk describing what they do as "God's work", but they might hope at least not to get on the wrong side of His earthly followers.

Unlucky then for Germany's Deutsche Bank and US investment bank Morgan Stanley, who are facing a $5m (£3.2m) lawsuit led by a group of Irish nuns.

The Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, the Holy Faith Sisters and the Irish Veterinary Benevolent Fund are among a group of 88 Irish individuals suing the two banks.

The nuns allege the two banks profited at their expense by failing to redeem an investment linked to the debt of German financial group Dresdner Bank and in so doing cost them millions of pounds. >>> Harry Wilson, Financial Services Correspondent | Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Foreign Workers Surge

MAIL ONLINE: The number of foreign workers has increased by 114,000 in the last year – while people born in Britain continued to lose their jobs.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show workers born overseas were the beneficiaries of the early stages of the economic recovery.

There are now 3.85million workers who were born abroad. At the same time, the UK-born workforce fell by 15,000, to 25.08million. Foreign workers surge by 114,000... but the number of Britons with jobs falls >>> James Slack, Home Affairs Editor | Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Bounty Hunters to Cut Benefit Fraud by £1bn

THE TELEGRAPH: Private agencies are to be paid by the Government to reduce benefit fraud by £1billion, David Cameron is to announce.

Finance experts will identify welfare cheats by trawling through their records, household bills and credit card applications.

The agencies will get a “bounty” payment for each fraudster they identify under government plans to cut the £5.2billion annual fraud bill.

By having access to the Government’s database of incapacity and housing benefit claimants, the companies believe they can shave at least £1billion from the welfare bill, earning as much as £50million.

The Prime Minister will say today that the level of fraud is “absolutely outrageous” and an “uncompromising” strategy is needed.

Mr Cameron will also call on members of the public to report suspected cheats and promise tougher punishments for offenders. >>> Holly Watt, Rosa Prince and Robert Winnett | Tuesday, August 10, 2010

This is so 'old Tory'. Whilst I am not in favour of people cheating the system for benefits, I feel that Cameron should have the balls to target the fat cat bankers who are stealing far more from the system with their multi-million pound bonuses than the paltry sums of money that Jo Average is getting in the form of welfare. Why doesn't Cameron come up with something new and original like jailing bankers who milk the system, and thereby endanger capitalism's very existence? – © Mark | Comment also posted here
Does Money Equal Happiness?

Bankers Party Like Recession Never Happened

SKY NEWS: Over 1000 bankers have been quaffing champagne like the recession never happened at the largest City party since the economic crash of 2007.

Steuerbetrug und Bankenboni – und wo bleibt die Ethik?

SCHWEIZER FERNSEHEN – STERNSTUNDE: Auf die Finanz- und Bankenkrise folgte die Eurokrise. 750 Milliarden Euro haben die Europäische Union und der Internationale Währungsfonds hochverschuldeten Euro-Ländern zur Verfügung gestellt. Das Unbehagen vieler Menschen gegenüber dem Kapitalismus hat zugenommen. Wie sicher ist das Finanzsystem? Sollen Bankenboni auch in Krisenzeiten in gewohnter Höhe ausbezahlt werden? Der deutsche Wirtschaftsethiker Ulrich Thielemann kritisiert die weitverbreitete Marktgläubigkeit und fordert einen Wandel von der «Hofierung zur Moderierung des Kapitals».

Video hier abspielen | Samstag, 08. August 2010

Monday, 9 August 2010

Britain Begins to Feel the Pain of Austerity Cuts

THE NEW YORK TIMES: LONDON — Last month, the British government abolished the U.K. Film Council, the Health Protection Agency and dozens of other groups that regulate, advise and distribute money in the arts, health care, industry and other areas.

It seemed shockingly abrupt, a mass execution without appeal. But it was just a tiny taste of what is to come.

Like a shipwrecked sailor on a starvation diet, the new British coalition government is preparing to shrink down to its bare bones as it cuts expenditures by $130 billion over the next five years and drastically scales back its responsibilities. The result, said the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a research group, will be “the longest, deepest sustained period of cuts to public services spending” since World War II.

Until recently, the cuts were just election talking points, inchoate warnings of a new age of austerity. But now the pain has begun. And as the government begins its abrupt retrenchment, the implications, complications and confusions in the process are beginning to emerge. >>> Sarah Lyall | Monday, August 09, 2010

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Schweiz: Finanzminister Merz tritt zurück

DIE PRESSE: Der Schweizer Finanzminister Hans-Rudolf Merz ist wegen seines erfolglosen Besuchs in Libyen und der Aufhebung des Bankgeheimnisses in die Kritik geraten. Nun kündigt er an, sein Amt im Oktober aufzugeben.

Der Schweizer Finanzminister Hans-Rudolf Merz tritt im Oktober von seinem Amt zurück. Das kündigte er am Freitag an.

Der 67-jährige war im Dezember 2003 in die Regierung gewählt worden. Wegen eines erfolglosen Blitzbesuchs in Libyen und der Aufhebung des Schweizer Bankgeheimnisses geriet er ins Kreuzfeuer der Kritik. In der Regierung vertrat er die Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei (FDP). >>> Ag. | Freitag, 06. August 2010

Saturday, 7 August 2010

US-Jobverluste ernüchtern Börsianer

SCHWEIZER FERNSEHEN: Die anhaltend hohe Arbeitslosigkeit in den USA hat an der Wall Street Sorgen über die Erholung der Konjunktur ausgelöst und den Börsen Verluste bereitet. «Wir erleben eine Wirtschaft, die langsam vorankommt, aber unter dem Strich nicht viele neue Jobs schafft», sagte Marktstratege Fred Dickson von The Davidson Cos.

US-Jobverluste ernüchtern Börsianer
Hewlett-Packard Boss Mark Hurd Quits After Sexual Harassment Inquiry

THE TELEGRAPH: Mark Hurd resigned last night from his post at the helm of Hewlett-Packard (HP) following a sexual harassment investigation.

Mark Hurd, chief executive of Hewlett-Packard. Photo:

Mr Hurd, chairman and chief executive of the world's largest personal computer manufacturer since April 2005, agreed to step down with immediate effect after he was found to have violated the company's own business conduct standards.

The HP probe was sparked following allegations from a former contractor, with whom Mr Hurd admitted he had a "close personal relationship". The company also said that Mr Hurd submitted false expense reports in an effort to conceal the relationship.

Shares in HP fell as much as 10pc on the news in extended after-hours trading, in spite of the company pre-announcing better-than-expected second quarter sales of $30.7bn (£19.3bn). >>> James Quinn | Saturday, August 07, 2010

Friday, 6 August 2010

US Job Losses Are Double Expected Figure

THE GUARDIAN: American employers shed 131,000 jobs in July / Data sparks rally in government bonds but stock indices fall

President Barack Obama: the job loss data has fuelled fears that the US economic recovery will not bring about a revival in the job market. Photograph: The Guardian

Employers in the US shed twice as many jobs as expected in July, fanning fears that the recovery in the world's largest economy will not see a revival in employment.

The US government said 131,000 jobs were lost overall, compared with forecasts for a 65,000 fall. The drop was mainly due to work finishing for temporary staff hired by the government to conduct its census. But private hiring was also weaker than expected.

Economists polled by Reuters ahead of the non-farm payrolls data forecast that private sector jobs would rise by 90,000, but in the event only 71,000 were added.

At the same time, June's overall drop was revised to a far steeper 221,000 from 125,000.

The data sparked a rally in government bonds, seen as safer investments when the economic picture darkens. Crude oil futures dropped on the prospect of weaker demand from the US market and stock indices also fell, including the FTSE 100 in the UK.

"This employment report only reinforces a sluggish recovery. Private sector job and income gains are not weak enough to point to a renewed downturn, nor are they strong enough to suggest the recovery is free of such risk," said Stephen Gallagher, economist at Société Générale.

Within July's drop, 143,000 jobs were census staff who were laid off, but there were also a further 59,000 public sector job losses as the US government mirrored its counterparts around the world in tightening budgets. Economists voiced concerns that the private sector outlook was also gloomy, suggesting that Americans will remain wary about their job prospects and do little to power the recovery.

"This is not good news for consumer confidence or spending and will intensify concerns about the pace of the recovery at the Federal Reserve," said James Knightley economist at ING Financial Markets. >>> Katie Allen | Friday, August 06, 2010
Google Accused of Betraying Internet Golden Rule in Net Neutrality Row

THE TELEGRAPH: Google, the internet giant, has been accused of betraying one of the most widely accepted "laws" of the internet called net neutrality; the principle that everyone has equal access.

The firm has admitted that it has been in talks with the US communications provider Verizon and even agreed an outline plan on how internet traffic should be carried over networks.

However, many have already voiced fears that if the plan becomes public, it could serve as a blueprint for how to carve up the internet and sell the best performance to the highest bidder.

Some critics have described it as "doomsday scenario" that "marks the beginning of the end of the internet as you know it".

Google said discrimination is permissible in some circumstances.

The principle of net neutrality was one of the founding ideas of the web.

Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a digital rights campaign group, said: "The deal between Verizon and Google about how to manage internet traffic is deeply regrettable and should be considered meaningless.

"The fate of the internet is too large a matter to be decided by negotiations involving two companies."

Josh Silver, president of Free Press, a media reform group, wrote a piece in the Huffington Post and warned: "Since its beginnings, the Net was a level playing field that allowed all content to move at the same speed, whether it's ABC News or your uncle's video blog.

"That's all about to change, and the result couldn't be more bleak for the future of the Internet, for television, radio and independent voices." >>> Andy Bloxham | Friday, August 06, 2010

Sen. Franken: Stop the Corporate Takeover of the Media

A Note to Google Users on Net Neutrality *:

The Internet as we know it is facing a serious threat. There's a debate heating up in Washington, DC on something called "net neutrality" – and it's a debate that's so important Google is asking you to get involved. We're asking you to take action to protect Internet freedom.

In the next few days, the House of Representatives is going to vote on a bill that would fundamentally alter the Internet. That bill, and one that may come up for a key vote in the Senate in the next few weeks, would give the big phone and cable companies the power to pick and choose what you will be able to see and do on the Internet.

Today the Internet is an information highway where anybody – no matter how large or small, how traditional or unconventional – has equal access. But the phone and cable monopolies, who control almost all Internet access, want the power to choose who gets access to high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest. They want to build a two-tiered system and block the on-ramps for those who can't pay.

Creativity, innovation and a free and open marketplace are all at stake in this fight. Please call your representative (202-224-3121) and let your voice be heard.

Thanks for your time, your concern and your support.

Eric Schmidt [Source: Google Help Center] | 2006

* My - my! How things change when big money and huge profits are involved! – Mark

Josh Silver >>>

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Margaret Thatcher on Socialism


Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Thirty US Billionaires Pledge to Give Away Half Their Fortunes to Charity

THE GUARDIAN: Bill Gates's and Warren Buffett's campaign draws in top names including George Lucas and Michael Bloomberg

Bill and Melinda Gates with Warren Buffett (right), who has decided to give away most of his fortune. Photograph: The Guardian

The world of philanthropy got a huge financial boost today as more than 30 American billionaires pledged to give away at least half of their fortunes to charitable causes, signing up to a campaign launched by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

In an unprecedented mass commitment, top figures including New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg, the hotel heir Barron Hilton, CNN media mogul Ted Turner, and the Star Wars director George Lucas lent their names to the "giving pledge", an initiative founded last month to encourage America's richest families to commit money to "society's most pressing problems".

The pledge is not a legally binding contract but is described as a moral commitment. Buffett, the legendary Nebraska-based financier known as the "sage of Omaha", welcomed the influx of support: "At its core, the giving pledge is about asking wealthy families to have important conversations about their wealth and how it will be used. We're delighted that so many people are doing that." >>> Andrew Clark in New York | Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Picture Gallery: US billionaires to give away fortunes to charity: Forty of the richest families and individuals in the US have committed to give the majority of their wealth to charitable causes by taking the 'giving pledge', a campaign launched by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett >>> | Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Interest Rates Will Go Up Quicker Than Anyone Expects, Ex-Bank of England Officials Warn

THE TELEGRAPH: Interest rates will have to rise earlier and more sharply than expected to keep inflation under control, two former Bank of England policymakers have warned.

Sir John Gieve, an ex-deputy Governor, and Charles Goodhart, a previous member of the Monetary Policy Committee, are the most senior economists yet to have opposed the current orthodoxy that rates will stay low for a prolonged period. The warning will come as a relief to savers but as a shock to homeowners, many of whom are able to meet their mortgage repayments only because of record low rates of 0.5pc.

Addressing Fathom Financial Consulting’s Monetary Policy Forum, Sir John said: “I am expecting a recovery – when that is strongly established I’d expect rates to start rising faster than the market currently expects. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see interest rates at 2.5pc a year from now.” >>> Philip Aldrick , Economics Editor | Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

London im Weihnachtsbummel

SCHWEIZER FERNSEHEN: In London hat der Weihnachtseinkauf bereits begonnen. Das Nobel-Kaufhaus Selfridges verzeichnet einen grossen Andrang.

Tagesschau vom 03.08.2010
Free Enterprise in Cuba

CNN: CNN's Shasta Darlington reports on what Cubans think about Raul Castro's decision to allow more free enterprise.

Transforming Transit in Istanbul

CNN: Istanbul is undertaking one of the world's biggest transport projects. CNN's Richard Quest reports.

«Kuba hat nicht mehr viel Zeit» : Der Karibikstaat muss mit tiefgreifenden Reformen auf die Krise reagieren

NZZ ONLINE: Das von einer schweren Wirtschaftskrise erschütterte Kuba hat weiterhin die Chance auf einen eigenen Weg im Sozialismus. Das sagt der Politologe Uwe Optenhögel. Doch die Zeit werde langsam knapp. Die Jugend des Landes habe sich schon vielfach verabschiedet. >>> Interview: Stefan Reis Schweizer | Dienstag, 03. August 2010

Monday, 2 August 2010

Islamic Bank of Britain Gets Cash Boost for Sharia-compliant Loans

THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY: A fortnight after it was revealed by The Independent on Sunday that Lloyds banking group had abandoned its landmark Islamic mortgage offer, one of its rivals has outlined plans to expand the number of home loans offered which comply with sharia law.

The Islamic Bank of Britain has secured an extra £20m of investment from Qatar International Islamic Bank so that it can increase the number of sharia-compliant home loans and savings products. Under sharia, the payment and receipt of interest is banned, as is investment in areas such as arms manufacturing, alcohol and tobacco. >>> | Sunday, August 01, 2010
Cuba to Relax State Control of the Economy

THE TELEGRAPH: Raul Castro has said that his government will scale back controls on small businesses, lay off unnecessary workers and allow more self-employment - significant steps in a country where the state dominates nearly every facet of the economy.

Fidel Castro (left) and brother Raul. Photo: The Telegraph

Cuba's president, however, quashed notions of a sweeping overhaul to the country's communist economic system in response to the financial crisis it is facing.

"With experience accumulated in more than 55 years of revolutionary struggle, it doesn't seem like we're doing too badly, nor that desperation or frustration have been our companions along the way," the president said.

Speaking in parliament, Castro said that authorities would "update the Cuban economic model," suggesting reforms could be on the horizon. Cuban officials plan to reduce state control of small businesses, authorize more Cubans to become self-employed and build a new tax structure that will compel state employees to contribute more. >>> | Monday, August 02, 2010

Raúl Castro to Allow Cubans More Private Sector Jobs

THE GUARDIAN: Leader says prohibitions on licences and commercialisation will be rolled back in effort to reduce 'bloated' state sector

More Cubans will be allowed to work for themselves and hire their own workers, the country's president has said, while ruling out wholesale reform of the communist economy.

Raúl Castro, who was speaking to parliament at the opening of its biannual session, said the steps were aimed at creating jobs as the government seeks to cut jobs from the public sector over the next five years.

About 95% of all Cubans work for the government and Castro suggested that as many as one in five state employees were redundant in what he called a "bloated" state sector.

Castro said those left out of work would be retrained or reassigned to other jobs but warned that few sectors would be immune to cuts. While sketchy, his comments signalled a liberalisation of the economy at a time of financial crisis. Raúl Castro took power from Fidel, first temporarily, then permanently, in July 2006. He has a reputation for being more pragmatic than his brother. >>> Mark Tran | Monday, August 02, 2010

NZZ ONLINE: Raul Castro will den Sozialismus zukunftsfähig machen: Kuba erlaubt Privatwirtschaft im KleinenDie kommunistische Führung in Kuba hat beschlossen, Kleinbetriebe mit Angestellten zuzulassen und den Staatsapparat verkleinern. Präsident Raul Castro will so das soziale System des Landes für die Zukunft erhalten. >>> sda/dpa | Montag, 02. August 2010

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Greece Will Be a War Zone, Sect of Revolutionaries Warns Tourists

THE OBSERVER: Security forces fear wave of terror as austerity programme provokes strikes, protests, violence – and assassination

A protesting lorry driver argues with a police officer outside the Ministry of Transport in Athens. Photograph: The Observer

Greek security forces have warned of a wave of violence reminiscent of the terror that stalked Italy in the seventies after urban guerillas threatened last week to turn the country into a "war zone".

"Greece has entered a new phase of political violence by anarchist-oriented organisations that are more murderous, dangerous, capable and nihilistic than ever before," said Athanasios Drougos, a defence and counter-terrorism analyst in Athens.

"For the first time we are seeing a nexus of terrorist and criminal activity," he said. "These groups don't care about collateral damage, innocent bystanders being killed in the process. They are very extreme."

The threats came from a guerrilla group called the Sect of Revolutionaries, as it claimed credit for the murder of Sokratis Giolas, an investigative journalist. Giolas was shot dead outside his Athenian home on 19 July, in front of his pregant wife.

The gang promised to step up attacks on police, businessmen, prison guards and "corrupt" media – and, for the first time, threatened holidaymakers.

"Tourists should learn that Greece is no longer a safe haven of capitalism," its declaration said.

"We intend to turn it into a war zone of revolutionary activity with arson, sabotage, violent demonstrations, bombings and assassinations, and not a country that is a destination for holidays and pleasure."

In an accompanying picture, the group displayed an arsenal that included AK 47 assault rifles, semi-automatic pistols and brass knuckledusters.

"Our guns are full and they are ready to speak," it said. "We are at war with your democracy." >>> Helena Smith, Athens | Sunday, August 01, 2010