Thursday, 30 September 2010

Ed Miliband: I Would Raise Taxes Higher Than Gordon Brown

THE TELEGRAPH: Ed Miliband’s Labour Party will push for increases in taxation at a higher rate than that proposed by Gordon Brown at the last general election.

The new leader said that he wanted to do “more” from taxation, adding that plans by Alistair Darling, the former chancellor, to cut the deficit over four years were only a “starting point”.

Mr Miliband, who joined in the traditional singing of the Red Flag at the close of Labour conference, has hit out his characterisation as “Red Ed” after he defeated his brother for the party leadership with the support of the trade unions.

But in a break from the New Labour era, when Tony Blair’s ministers shied away from advocating tax rises, he made clear that he was unafraid of being labelled left-wing. >>> Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent | Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Bravo, Mr Cable! Bravo! Vince Cable Attacks Bankers as 'Spivs and Gamblers'

THE TELEGRAPH: Vince Cable has attacked the “spivs and gamblers” who he claimed are more of a danger to the economy than militant union leaders.

The Business Secretary told the Liberal Democrat conference in Liverpool that it was right that the public was angry about the bankers’ bonuses.

He refused to tone down his comments, which have angered business leaders, about the “murky world of capitalism.”

He said: “I make no apology for attacking spivs and gamblers who did more harm to the British economy than Bob Crow (the RMT union leader) could achieve in his wildest Trotskyite fantasies, while paying themselves outrageous bonuses underwritten by the taxpayer. There is much public anger about banks and it is well deserved.”

In another move that is likely to anger the Conservatives Mr Cable revelled in the fact that the Lib Dems had forced David Cameron to drop his pre-election commitment to a new inheritance tax limit.

To cheers from the Lib Dem delegates, he said: “You'll remember our Conservative colleagues campaigned in the General Election to lift the inheritance tax burden on double millionaires. But they have dropped that commitment.

“They have gone halfway to accepting our case for equalising income tax and capital gains tax rates. They have accepted in the Coalition Agreement that the priority for cutting income tax is for low earners not top earners.”

He also repeated his wish for a new tax on properties worth more than £2 million.

Mr Cable said: “I personally regret that mansion tax did not make it into the Coalition Agreement but in a coalition we have to compromise. But we can and should maintain our distinctive and progressive tax policies for the future.”

Mr Cable was unrepentant for talking about capitalism's failings.

He said: “The Government's agenda is not one of laissez-faire. Markets are often irrational or rigged. So I am shining a harsh light into the murky world of corporate behaviour. >>> Andrew Porter, Political Editor | Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Kubanischer Newspeak und die harte Realität: Raúl Castro ringt sich zu Reformen durch und gibt sie als Retuschen aus

NZZ ONLINE: Die Machthaber in Havanna maskieren Abstriche am orthodoxen Sozialismus als Perfektionierung des kubanischen Modells. Doch das Wirtschaftsdebakel lässt ihnen keine andere Wahl, als Freiheitsräume in der Arbeitswelt einzuführen.

Ein Kubaner trägt Blumen aus seinem Auto, die er an einem Verkaufsstand auf dem Lebensmittelmarkt «Cuatros Caminos» bei Havanna verkaufen will. Bild: NZZ Online

Und Fidel hatte doch recht, als ihm der Satz entglitt, das kubanische Modell funktioniere nicht einmal mehr in Kuba selbst. Zwar deutete der «Líder máximo» seine gegenüber einem Journalisten geäusserten häretischen Worte, als sie publik geworden waren, zum Scherz um, den seine unbedarften Zuhörer nicht verstanden hätten. Wenige Tage später aber traf Raúl Castro die ersten dezidierten Massnahmen zur Korrektur des bankrotten Systems.

Das Gesicht wahren

Die Einführung von Leistungskriterien im Staatssektor, der Verzicht auf fiktive Vollbeschäftigung und die Entlassung von vorerst einer halben Million Staatsangestellten in eine Privatwirtschaft, welcher ein fruchtbarer Nährboden erst noch bereitet werden muss, sind wahrhaftig keine blossen Retuschen. Es sind tiefe Einschnitte in die Orthodoxie der Kommunistischen Partei Kubas. Weiter lesen und einen Kommentar schreiben >>> Peter Gaupp, San José de Costa Rica | Freitag, 17. September 2010

THE TELEGRAPH: Cuba to make 500,000 state employees redundant: Cuba has announced it will make at least half a million state workers redundant and reduce restrictions on private enterprise in the most dramatic step yet to remodel employment on the communist-run island. >>> | Monday, September 13, 2010
Nick Clegg: 'The Lib Dems Have No Future on the Left'

THE TELEGRAPH: Nick Clegg has said that there is no future for the Liberal Democrats as a left wing party.

The Deputy Prime Minister said he sympathised with voters who had turned to his party as an alternative to Labour and were unhappy that they had formed a coalition with the Conservatives.

But he risked alienating key supporters by dismissing those who see the Lib Dems as “a sort of left-wing conscience of the Labour Party”.

"There were some people, particularly around the height of the Iraq war, who gave up on the Labour Party and turned to the Liberal Democrats,” he said.

"I totally understand that some of these people are not happy with what the Lib Dems are doing in coalition with the Conservatives. The Lib Dems never were and aren't a receptacle for left wing dissatisfaction with the Labour Party. There is no future for that; there never was," he told the Independent. >>> Heidi Blake | Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nick Clegg: There Is No Future for Us as Left-wing Rivals to Labour

THE INDEPENDENT: As the Liberal Democrats' conference begins, their leader gives his party an uncompromising message

Nick Clegg has declared that there is "no future" for the Liberal Democrats as a left-wing alternative to Labour as he appealed to his party to show "patience" and maintain a united front with the Conservatives.

In an interview with The Independent on the eve of Liberal Democrat conference starting today, he promised his party it would reap the electoral rewards if it held its nerve about its slump in the opinion polls. >>> Andrew Grice, Political Editor | Saturday, September 18, 2010
Darling Attacks Germans Over Help for Greece

THE TELEGRAPH: The euro has been permanently damaged by Germany's failure to intervene swiftly during the sovereign debt crisis earlier this year, Alistair Darling has said in an unusually frank attack.

The former Chancellor, who was in 11 Downing Street when Greece, Spain and Portugal came close to economic meltdown in the spring, made his unguarded comments at a conference of senior German and British officials on Thursday.

Privately, he is known to have been infuriated by Germany's failure to act swiftly as the markets scented blood, but has never before made his opinions public.

Speaking from the audience of the Königswinter Conference, he told Germany's Economics Minister Rainer Bruederle that the country had completely failed to come to terms with its responsibilities as a leader of the eurozone. He added that its reluctance intervene quickly "will have consequences" for the political future of the bloc. Read on and comment >>> Philip Aldrick, Economics Editor | Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Poor Must Accept Benefit Cuts: Clegg on Collision Course with Own Party by Backing Welfare Axe

MAIL ONLINE: Nick Clegg has waded into the row over welfare reform by warning that benefits should not be there 'to compensate the poor for their predicament'.

On the eve of the Liberal Democrat conference, the Deputy Prime Minister backed the Coalition's programme of welfare cuts and dramatically shifted his party's policy on the subject.

He said the billions spent on welfare should be used as an 'engine of mobility', instead of just leaving people 'stuck on benefits, year in, year out'.

His comments are likely to infuriate his party's left-wingers, who have publicly accused the Coalition of targeting the vulnerable and Mr Clegg of breaking promises to ensure all cuts were 'fair'.

The issue is likely to prove a flashpoint with the LibDem Left when activists gather in Liverpool from Saturday for the first time since joining the Tories in government.

But Mr Clegg made clear he considered welfare reforms to be essential. In a newspaper article, he said: 'A fair society is not one in which money is simply transferred by the central State from one group to another.

'Welfare needs to become an engine of mobility, changing people's lives for the better, rather than a giant cheque written by the State to compensate the poor for their predicament.

'Instead of turning the system from a 'safety net' into a 'trampoline', as Labour promised, people have been stuck on benefits, year in, year out.' Read on and comment >>> Jason Groves | Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Banking Bailout Was Unfair, Mervyn King Tells TUC

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said he believed it was vital the Government set out a clear plan for reducing the deficit. Photograph: The Independent

THE INDEPENDENT: The Bank of England governor Mervyn King today described the huge banking bailout as "unfair" and appeared to sympathise with calls for multibillion-pound tax evasion to be tackled when he spoke to union activists.

Mr King told the TUC Congress in Manchester that he understood the strength of feeling over the size of bankers' bonuses and said "radical reform" of the UK's financial system was needed.

The 62-year-old faced minor protests from some banner-waving delegates and a walkout by the Rail Maritime and Transport union delegation, who retreated to their exhibition stand to watch children's TV.

He was also told bluntly that bankers were "greedy bullshitters" and that he had failed in his job.

As he waited to speak, delegates called for a high pay commission to investigate the "out of control" wages of executives and other high earners.

The Communication Workers Union said a commission should examine the difference between the highest and lowest pay in leading companies.

General secretary Billy Hayes said: "The blatant double standards in pay for those at the top of companies compared to those at bottom is outrageous and leads to dissatisfaction and a divided society of haves and have-nots." >>> Alan Jones, PA | Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Chinese Think Tank Warns US It Will Emerge as Loser in Trade War

THE TELEGRAPH: A State Council think-tank in China has warned Washington that the US will come off worst in a trade war if it imposes sanctions against Beijing over the two nations' currency spat.

The US is considering legislation to punish Beijing for holding down the yuan. Photo: The Telegraph

Ding Yifan, a policy guru at the Development Research Centre, said China could respond by selling holdings of US debt, estimated at over $1.5 trillion (£963bn). This would trigger a rise in US interest rates. His comments at a forum in Beijing follow a string of remarks by Chinese officials questioning US credit-worthiness and the reliability of the dollar.

China's authorities seem split over how to respond to moves on Capitol Hill for legislation to punish Beijing for holding down the yuan. The central bank has ruled out use of its "nuclear weapon", insisting that it would not exploit its $2.45 trillion of foreign reserves for political purposes. "The US Treasury market is a very important market for China," it said.

However, the mood is hardening on both sides of the Pacific. The dispute risks escalating if China's trade surplus with the US climbs further and more US jobs are lost. US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who has taken a softly-softly line in the past, said on Friday that China had done "very little" to correct the undervaluation of the yuan since ending the dollar peg in June. >>> Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Gold Price Hits Record High Above $1,269

THE TELEGRAPH: The price of gold, a safe-haven investment in times of economic uncertainty, has struck an all-time high above $1,269.

Gold hit $1,269.45 on the London Bullion Market on Tuesday afternoon, beating the previous record of $1,265.30 struck on June 21.

"Renewed sovereign debt concerns" have driven up gold, said Robin Bhar, senior metals analyst at Credit Agricole bank. Fears of a resurgent eurozone debt crisis are likely to stunt European economic growth prospects this year, the EU warned on Monday.

"The global recovery is still expected to be uneven and is surrounded by major uncertainties," the European Commission said in its autumn forecast, citing "the resurfacing of global imbalances, high debt levels and lingering tensions in sovereign-debt markets". >>> | Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King Warns Unions Accept Cuts or 'Fail Your Children'

THE TELEGRAPH: Meryn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, has urged the unions to accept public sector reforms and jobs cuts by warning that anything short of tackling the UK's record Budget deficit would “fail the next generation”.

Addressing the Trades Union Congress, he described the current deficit as “unsustainable” and, in an implicit defence of the Coalition's policy, argued that “the current plan ... to reduce the deficit steadily over five years [is] a more gradual fiscal tightening than in some other countries”.

“Vague promises would not have been enough,” he told the Manchester conference, where union leaders have described the Government as the “Demolition Coalition” and threatened civil disobedience in protest at the planned reforms.

“Market reaction to rising sovereign debt can turn quickly from benign to malign, as we saw in the euro area earlier this year. It is not sensible to risk a damaging rise in long-term interest rates that would make investment and the cost of mortgages more expensive,” Mr King said.

“The costs of this crisis will be with us for a generation. And we owe it to the next generation to seize this opportunity to put in place the reforms that will make another crisis much less likely and much less damaging.”

He stressed that reducing the Budget deficit, which is forecast to hit £149bn this year – the largest peacetime deficit in history and the biggest as a proportion of GDP in Europe, is one of a number of necessary reforms, and will require co-operation from the unions. >>> Philip Aldrick, Economics Editor | Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Terror Group In Warning To 'Criminal' Bankers

YAHOO! NEWS: The Real IRA has said it will resume attacks on the UK mainland - with banks and bankers its principal targets.

Vowing to alternate between "military, political and economic targets", the republican terror group has said that bankers are "criminals" and their role in funding Britain's colonial and capitalist system "has not gone unnoticed".

Responding to questions from The Guardian, a spokesman for the Real IRA said: "We have a track record of attacking high-profile economic targets and financial institutions.

"The bankers grease the politicians' palms, the politicians bail out the bankers with public funds, the bankers pay themselves fat bonuses and loan the money back to the public with interest.

"It's essentially a crime spree that benefits a social elite at the expense of many millions of victims." >>> Sky News | Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Obama will weitere Millionen für Kontrolle der Öl-Industrie: Bohrungen im offenen Meer sollen strenger überwacht werden

NZZ ONLINE: Die Aktivitäten der Öl- und Gasindustrie in den USA auf dem offenen Meer sollen nach dem Willen von Präsident Barack Obama wirkungsvoller überwacht werden. Bohranlagen will die Regierung besser auf ihre Umweltverträglichkeit überprüfen.

Obama beantragte für die besseren Kontrollen von Offshore-Bohrungen beim Kongress mehr als 90 Millionen Dollar. Der Antrag erfolgt, nachdem die Ölkatastrophe im Golf von Mexiko zahlreiche Missstände bei den Bohrungen vor der Küste gezeigt hat. Weiter lesen und einen Kommentar schreiben >>> sda/afp | Dienstag, 14. September 2010
America Will Need Another Ronald Reagan to Reverse President Obama’s Pitiful Legacy of US Decline

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan on the White House lawn. Photo: The Telegraph

THE TELEGRAPH – BLOGS – NILE GARDINER: The Obama administration is bracing itself for more bad news this week with the release of stunning census figures which are projected to show the biggest increase in poverty in the United States since the 1960s. As Associated Press reports:
The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Barack Obama’s watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty. Census figures for 2009 — the recession-ravaged first year of the Democrat’s presidency — are to be released in the coming week, and demographers expect grim findings.

Interviews with six demographers who closely track poverty trends found wide consensus that 2009 figures are likely to show a significant rate increase to the range of 14.7 percent to 15 percent. Should those estimates hold true, some 45 million people in this country, or more than 1 in 7, were poor last year. It would be the highest single-year increase since the government began calculating poverty figures in 1959. The previous high was in 1980 when the rate jumped 1.3 percentage points to 13 percent during the energy crisis.
The new figures are an indictment of President Obama’s handling of the economy, and will add to the growing perception that his Big Government agenda has been a spectacular flop. Despite a huge $787 billion stimulus package (with another $50 billion in spending on the way), and a wave of public bailouts, unemployment continues to rise towards 10 percent, and the housing market remains on a downward trajectory.

Added to this grim picture is a spiraling budget deficit which threatens America’s long-term economic prosperity. As I’ve noted before, the United States is drowning under a mountain of debt, with a Greek-style financial crisis a strong possibility. Under its alternative fiscal scenario, the Congressional Budget Office projects that US debt could rise to a staggering 87 percent of GDP by 2020, to 109 percent of GDP by 2025, and to 185 percent of GDP in 2035. >>> Nile Gardiner | Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monday, 13 September 2010

US Secures Record $60 Billion Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia

THE TELEGRAPH: The United States is selling $60 billion (£40 billion) worth of aircraft to Saudi Arabia in a huge deal that will increase unease about a gathering arms race in the Middle East.

In what is the largest ever US arms sale of its kind, Riyadh has agreed to spend $30 billion up front on top range fighter jets and helicopters, with the rest following at an undisclosed date. The two countries are also discussing an upgrade naval package potentially worth $30 billion, but the timing of that deal is not clear.

The deals are a coup for the Obama administration ahead of the midterm Congressional elections. The aircraft contracts are set to benefit defence manufacturers in 44 states and help to protect 77,000 jobs. Democratic candidates are expected to come under severe pressure in the elections in part because of the US's high unemployment rate.

But the deal will raise concerns about the militarisation of the Gulf states and the Middle East, which in part seems to be being driven by the Iranian nuclear development programme. The rush by Tehran towards nuclear weapons, which it denies but is widely disbelieved, is prompting defence reviews across the whole region. >>> Alex Spillius in Washington | Monday, September 13, 2010
TUC: Unions Warn of Strikes Over 'Reckless' Cuts

THE TELEGRAPH: Unions put the Government on notice today that workers will launch strikes against spending cuts as the Coalition came under furious attack for its "reckless" axing of public services.

The TUC agreed to co-ordinate campaigns and industrial action amid warnings that some unions have already started preparing to launch stoppages.

Millions of workers are now on a collision course with the Government which could lead to a wave of strikes in the coming months as the scale of the austerity measures unfolds.

Leaders of the country's biggest unions lined up at the TUC conference in Manchester to lambast the Coalition for its spending cuts, which they said had already led to over 200,000 job losses or threats of redundancies among public sector workers.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said it was a "lie" that the country could not afford decent public services, arguing that the Government was making cuts because it wanted to promote privatisation.

"If there's money available to bail out banks and bonuses, if there's money for war and Trident, there's money for our public services.

"If money is tight, never mind a pay freeze for our members, how about a pay freeze for bankers? We've seen enough of what they've done, we've had enough of their greed and arrogance. It's them, not our members, who should be doing more for less." >>> | Monday, September 13, 2010

Friday, 10 September 2010

America's Hunger Grows in Tough Economy

CBN NEWS: America's Hunger Grows in Tough Economy: SOUTH BARRINGTON, Ill. - South Barrington village is known as one of the wealthiest suburbs in Chicago. Yet close to half of the adults standing in one line here are waiting for help getting food. >>> Heather Sells, CBN News Reporter | Friday, September 09, 2010
EU Markets Chief Barnier Warns the City Casino Days Are Over

THE TELEGRAPH: The deceptively quiet Phoney War between Brussels and Anglo-Saxon finance is coming to an end. Life is about to change for hedge funds, commodity traders, and the 'prop desks' of global banks in the City of London.

Michel Barnier said the new European Single Market Authority will have sweeping powers to control derivatives. Photo: The Telegraph

"We want to know who is doing what with short-selling," said Michel Barnier, the European single market commissioner and the Frenchman in charge of the EU's new machinery of regulation.

"We need markets, and we need financial institutions that create value-added, but everyone has to be able to answer for what they are doing. People taking crazy risks linked to crazy rewards have to be brought back to their senses," he said, in a wide-ranging interview with The Daily Telegraph at the annual Ambrosetti conference on the shores of Lake Como.

Mr Barnier said the new European Single Market Authority (ESMA) endorsed in principle last week - along with EU banking and insurance watchdogs - will have sweeping powers to control derivatives.

"The EU authorities are going to look at every product. ESMA can restrict leverage, or in exceptional circumstances even ban a product altogether," he said. The Commission is introducing a text on derivatives next week as part of a new oversight machinery covering the gamut of finance and investment, including controls on private equity, hedge funds, as well as oil and currency trading.

Mr Barnier said there was no plan for a blanket ban on the short-selling of stocks or on the use of derivatives such as credit default swaps (CDS), famously exploited by funds to short Greek, Irish, Portuguese, Spanish bonds during Europe's debt crisis this year.

"It is not a question of prohibiting. Short-selling is useful, if used well, but we want to avoid abusive naked short-selling, and be able to take action in emergencies," he said. >>> Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Como | Thursday, September 09, 2010

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Benefit Claimants to Have Payments Cut

THE TELEGRAPH: Benefits claimants will have their payments cut as ministers seek a further £4 billion in welfare cuts.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, said that the Government will go further than previously announced in trying to bring down the cost of Britain’s social security system.

The promise of new welfare cuts has caused strain in the Coalition, with some Liberal Democrat MPs protesting against the move.

Mr Osborne said the welfare system had grown out of control and allowed some people to make the “lifestyle choice” of claiming benefits for their entire life instead of working.

Reforms being drawn up by the Coalition will give welfare claimants “a strong incentive” to get a job.

Welfare now costs £192 billion a year, almost a third of all government spending. An estimated 5 million people of working age are now economically inactive and receiving benefits.

In the Budget in June, Mr Osborne announced that benefits cuts will save £11 billion a year by the end of the Parliament.

In a BBC interview, he signalled that ministers will now seek deeper cuts, reducing welfare spending by another £4 billion. >>> James Kirkup and Andrew Porter | Thursday, September 09, 2010
Euro und Dollar zurzeit schwach

SCHWEIZER FERNSEHEN: In den letzten Tagen hat sich neben dem Euro auch der Dollar abgeschwächt. Die Ökonomen sind sich jedoch uneinig, wie sich die Währungen weiterentwickeln werden.

Tagesschau vom 08.09.2010
Fidel Castro Says Communism Doesn't Work

THE GUARDIAN: Former Cuban president says Marxist model 'doesn't even work for us' in offhand remark to US journalist Jeffrey Goldberg

It was a casual remark over a lunch of salad, fish and red wine but future historians are likely to parse and ponder every word: "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us any more."

Fidel Castro's nine-word confession, dropped into conversation with a visiting US journalist and policy analyst, undercuts half a century of thundering revolutionary certitude about Cuban socialism.

That the island's economy is a disaster is hardly news but that the micro-managing "maximum leader" would so breezily acknowledge it has astonished observers.

Towards the end of a long, relaxed lunch in Havana, Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for the Atlantic magazine, asked Castro if Cuba's economic system was still worth exporting. The reply left him dumbfounded. "Did the leader of the revolution just say, in essence, 'Never mind'?" Goldberg wrote on his blog.

The 84-year-old retired president did not elaborate but the implication, according to Julia Sweig, a Cuba expert from the Council on Foreign Relations who also attended the lunch, was that the state had too big a role in the economy.

Raúl Castro has been saying the same thing in public and private since succeeding his older brother two years ago. With infrastructure crumbling, food shortages acute and an average monthly salary of just $25 (£16), it has become apparent that near-total state control of the economy does not work.

But for Fidel to acknowledge the fact could be compared to Napoleon musing that the march on Moscow was not, on reflection, a great success.

"Frankly, I have been somewhat amazed by Fidel's new frankness," said Stephen Wilkinson, a Cuba expert at the London Metropolitan University. "This is the latest of a series of recent utterances that strike me as being indicative of a change in the old man's character." >>> Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent | Thursday, September 09, 2010

THE ATLANTIC: Fidel: 'Cuban Model Doesn't Even Work For Us Anymore' >>>Jeffrey Goldberg | Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Prince Charles Embarks on Lavish Train Trip to Spread Green Message

THE GUARDIAN: Eight carriages for a core party of 14 people to preach a message of sustainability on week-long tour of Britain

Prince Charles boards the royal train at Glasgow Central station. Photograph: The Guardian

As a mode of transport, the royal train suits Prince Charles down to his hand-made brogues: resolutely old-fashioned, rather costly for the taxpayer, but just possibly ahead of its time.

The locomotive this afternoon hauled the prince out of Glasgow station, furnished with the prince's bespoke study, a grand dining room and bedroom suite, complete with bath and his and hers beds, on the start of a four-day tour of Britain that will cost the taxpayer at least £50,000.

The contrast between the train's opulence, which seemed worthy of an oligarch, and the purpose of its journey was, to some, jarring. Charles has begun a week-long trip to persuade his "subjects" to go green, and the train from which he has chosen to assert his voice in the climate debate has been converted to run on cooking fat, which, its suppliers estimate, creates just one-eighth of the carbon dioxide of oil-based diesel.

Until Friday the prince will criss-cross Scotland, England and Wales to "extol the virtues of a sustainability revolution", preaching the benefits of towelling nappies, cycling, and European city breaks by train. The "Start" campaign, as he is badging the initiative, "doesn't lecture or hector anyone, nor does it attempt to frighten", he insisted today. To run the campaign, which could cost £2m a year, he has hired a leading marketing executive from B&Q, Jo Kenrick, and signed up major sponsors including Asda, BT and EDF.

"What I hope to get across to as many people as possible is that, however awful the predicament we face with climate change and the unsustainable use of resources that keep us all alive, we aren't going to get anywhere by telling everyone they need to stop doing things," he said on the platform. "There has been quite enough of that in recent years."

But even before his train set off to the sound of a lone piper, the prince was facing perhaps inevitable accusations of double standards for using lavish transport – eight carriages for a core party of just 14 people – to preach a message of sustainability.

"I'm not sure he'll get that many people jumping on his bandwagon," said Nicky Coles, 38, a child carer who watched Charles roll up to the launch in a motorcade of petrol-guzzling cars. "He's a royal. He has the money to go green while Joe Bloggs hasn't. He can get his gardener to grow organic vegetables while the rest of us go to the supermarket and pay more." Read on and comment >>> Robert Booth | Monday, September 06, 2010
China to Build $2bn Railway for Iran

THE TELEGRAPH: China is poised to sign a $2bn (£1.3bn) deal to build a railway line in Iran in the first step of a wider plan to tie the Middle East and Central Asia to Beijing.

The Chinese have already built a railway line serving Tibet, above, and now plan a modern variant on the old 'Silk Road' through Central Asia. Photo: The Telegraph

China's railways minister, Liu Zhijun, is expected to visit Tehran this week to seal the deal, according to his Iranian counterpart, Hamid Behbahani.

"The final document of the contract has already been signed with a Chinese company and the Chinese minister will visit Iran on September 12 to ink the agreement," said Mr Behbahani.

The new line will run from Tehran to the town of Khosravi on the border with Iraq, around 360 miles as the crow flies, passing through Arak, Hamedan and Kermanshah.

Eventually, the Iranian government said, the route could link Iran with Iraq and even Syria as part of a Middle-Eastern corridor. That could also benefit the 5,000 Iranians who make pilgrimages each day to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq.

Nicklas Swanstrom, the executive director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said the contract to build the line was the first step for China to build an entire rail infrastructure for central Asia.

"It makes sense that if you build railways in Iran, you then get deals to stretch the lines into central Asia," he said, referring to a "very concrete plan" to run a railway from Iran through the landlocked countries of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and eventually to Kashgar in China, in a modern "silk route". >>> Malcolm Moore in Shanghai | Tuesday, September 07, 2010

China’s GDP >>>

Western profits wilt on China's surging wages: Rising wage and production costs in China are eating into the profits of Western companies and may soon set off an exodus of multinational companies to cheaper locations. >>> Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Monday, 6 September 2010

Turkey Joins Europe, Electrically Speaking

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Turkey may be frustrated in its bid to become part of the European Union, but by the end of September, it will join Europe’s electric grid.

Most electric systems in continental Europe — including those in countries like Poland and Romania — have synchronized currents, allowing electricity to flow easily from country to country. But other nations, including Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Finland and until now, Turkey, have remained separate.

Turkey has been trying to connect for 10 years. Like Europe, it uses an alternating current, with the electrons dancing back and forth 50 times a second, but its system has been out of phase with the European grid.

Now, after extensive work by General Electric to enable Turkey’s system to connect, the country will join up for a one-year trial, according to the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity. >>> Matthew L. Wald | Monday, September 06, 2010
Väterchen Staat als Unternehmer

NZZ am SONNTAG: Washington greift so stark in die US-Wirtschaft ein wie nie zuvor. Kaum ein Sektor, in dem das Weisse Haus nicht mitmischt. Damit will der Staat den Abstieg Amerikas verhindern. Von Felix Wadewitz, New York

Offiziell strebt General Motors (GM) an die Börse, um sich aus der Umarmung des Staats zu lösen. Kein Kritiker soll mehr über «Government Motors» spotten können. Seit Präsident Obama GM mit 50 Mrd. $ vor dem Untergang bewahrte, gehören 61% dem Staat. Für viele Amerikaner ist das ein Unding. Die Hälfte der Bevölkerung lehnt laut Umfragen die Rettung ab. Der schnelle Börsengang soll deshalb zeigen: Die Intervention des Weissen Hauses war erfolgreich; der Konzern steht nun wieder auf eigenen Beinen.

Staatskapitalismus pur

Ohne Einfluss wird das Weisse Haus aber auch in Zukunft nicht sein: Nach dem geplanten Börsengang bleibt Uncle Sam der grösste Anteilseigner. Und der neue Mann an der Spitze, Daniel Akenson, geniesst ohnehin das Vertrauen der Regierung. Das Finanzministerium entsandte ihn vor einem Jahr in den GM-Verwaltungsrat, um die Interessen der Steuerzahler zu wahren.

Das Klischee vom Kapitalismus in Reinform stimmt längst nicht mehr. Die Autoindustrie ist nur das prominenteste Beispiel in einer langen Reihe von staatlichen Eingriffen in die US-Wirtschaft. Die Rettung der Banken, die Ausweitung der Gesundheitsfürsorge, die Förderung von Exporten und neuen Technologien, Konjunkturspritzen und die Stabilisierung des Immobilienmarkts – all das resultiert in einer dramatisch steigenden Staatsquote. >>> Von Felix Wadewitz | Sonntag, 05. September 2010

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Hussein Obama Goes On Another Spending Spree On Taxpayers’ Dollars

THE TELEGRAPH: President Barack Obama yesterday unveiled a $50 billion plan to expand and renew roads, railways and airports in a late bid to boost confidence in the economy and prevent the Democratic Party from suffering a landslide defeat in forthcoming polls.

The plan was one of several economic initiatives Mr Obama was due to unveil this week, when campaigning begins in earnest for the Nov 2 midterm elections.

Speaking in Wisconsin on the Labour Day holiday, which marks the end of summer in the United States, President Obama proposed building 150,000 miles of roads, constructing and maintaining 4,000 miles of rail and rehabilitating 150 miles of runway, as well as modernising the air traffic control system.

He also proposed setting up an infrastructure bank to coordinate private, state and local capital to invest in projects.

A senior administration official said the American President's goal was to "create a substantial number of jobs in the short turn [sic] and lay the foundation for jobs growth in the long run".

The plan, which needs the approval of Congress, would spend $50 billion (£32 billion) in the first of its six years, and would be paid for by ending tax breaks for oil companies, the official said. Obama unveils $50 billion roads, rail and air plan to win votes >>> Alex Spillius in Washington | Monday, September 06, 2010

ZEIT ONLINE: Obama will mit weiteren Milliarden Aufschwung sichern: Die US-Wirtschaft kommt nicht auf die Beine. Präsident Obama plant daher erneut ein gigantisches Konjunkturprogramm – zumal seine Demokraten ein Wahldebakel fürchten. >>> Zeit Online, Reuters, AFP | Montag, 06. September 2010
Black Days For The London Taxi

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: London's black cabs might be as iconic as Big Ben, but in a city that has almost abolished other much loved symbols such as red telephone boxes and Routemaster buses, being iconic is no guarantee of a future. London's famous licensed taxis are now facing stronger competition from new rivals.

Is the Dead Sea Dying?

TIME: The Dead Sea has long attracted tourists for its mineral-rich waters. But now man-made problems are causing the sea to shrink

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Venezuela Introduces Cuba-like Food Card

MIAMI HERALD: Presented by President Hugo Chávez as an instrument to make shopping for groceries easier, the “Good Life Card'' is making various segments of the population wary because they see it as a furtive attempt to introduce a rationing card similar to the one in Cuba.

The measure could easily become a mechanism to control the population, according to civil society groups.

“We see that in short-term this could become a rationing card probably similar to the one used in Cuba,'' Roberto León Parilli, president of the National Association of Users and Consumers, told El Nuevo Herald. “It would use more advanced technological means [than those used in Cuba], but when they tell you where to buy and what the limits of what you can buy are, they are conditioning your purchases.''

Chávez said Tuesday that the card could be used to buy groceries at the government chain of markets and supplies.

“I have called it a Good Life Card so far,'' Chávez said in a brief statement made on the government television channel. “It's a card for you to purchase what you are going to take and they keep deducting. It's to buy what you need, not to promote communism, but to buy what just what you need.'' Read on and comment >>> Antonio Maria Delgado | Friday, September 03, 2010
Poor Jobs Report in August; Obama Blames Republicans

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Thilo Sarrazin, How Germany Is Commiting Suicide

HT: Gates Of Vienna >>>
EU Austerity Policies Risk Civil War in Greece, Warns Top German Economist Dr Sinn

THE TELEGRAPH: Greece’s austerity measures cannot prevent default and will lead to a breakdown of the political order if continued for long, a leading German economist has warned.

Hans-Werner Sinn, head of Germany's prestigious IFO Institute, said it was impossible to cut wages and prices by 30pc without major riots. Photo: The Telegraph

“This tragedy does not have a solution,” said Hans-Werner Sinn, head of the prestigious IFO Institute in Munich.

“The policy of forced 'internal devaluation', deflation, and depression could risk driving Greece to the edge of a civil war. It is impossible to cut wages and prices by 30pc without major riots,” he said, speaking at the elite European House Ambrosetti forum at Lake Como.

“Greece would have been bankrupt without the rescue measures. All the alternatives are terrible but the least terrible is for the country to get out of the eurozone, even if this kills the Greek banks,” he said.

Dr Sinn said Greece is an entirely different case from Spain and Portugal, which still have manageable public debts and can bring their public finances back into line with higher taxes.

“Greece would have defaulted in the period between April 28 and May 7, had the money not been promised by the European Union,” he said, describing the failure of the EU’s bail-out strategy to include a haircut for the banks as an invitation to moral hazard.

“There should be a quasi-insolvency procedure for countries. Creditors have to accept a haircut before any money flows for rescue plans, otherwise we’ll never have debt discipline in the eurozone,” he said.

Greek society has so far held together well, despite a wave of strikes and street violence in the early months of the crisis. However, unemployment is rising fast and political fatigue with such austerity policies typically sets in the second year. >>> Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Cernobbio, Italy | Friday, September 03, 2010
Netflix Lets Its Staff Take As Much Holiday As They Want, Whenever They Want – And It Works

THE TELEGRAPH: Silicon Valley success story, Netflix, shows how a non-policy on holidays can provide the break you need.


Ah, August. It's the month we escape the office, cast off quotidian concerns, recharge our psychic batteries, and – you know what I'm talking about – feel a twinge of guilt.

White-collar workers have an uneasy relationship with holidays. On the one hand, we consider them our due. (And in much of Europe, paid vacations are a right fixed in the law.) On the other hand, we view them as minor betrayals – of our obligations to customers and clients, of our responsibilities to colleagues left behind, even of the values we hold most dear.

That's why most organisations treat vacations the same reluctant way that parents dole out candy to their children. They dispense a certain number of days each year – but once we've reached our allotment, no more sweets for us.

One Silicon Valley company, however, has quietly pioneered an alternative approach. Netflix Inc, is a streaming video and DVD-by-mail service that has amassed 15m subscribers and upended America's brick-and-mortar video rental business.


At Netflix, the vacation policy is audaciously simple and simply audacious. Salaried employees can take as much time off as they'd like, whenever they want to take it. Nobody – not employees themselves, not managers – tracks vacation days.

In other words, Netflix's holiday policy is to have no policy at all.

If that sounds like a recipe for anarchic stew, devoid of essential workplace nutrients such as temperance and hard work, think again. In its own way, Netflix's non-policy is more attuned to the nature of 21st century work, and even to the values of industriousness and self-discipline, than its sterner counterparts. >>> Daniel H Pink | Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Credit Suisse Defends Its Bankers' Mid-year Bonus

THE TELEGRAPH: Credit Suisse has defended a decision to award its London-based bankers with a surprise mid-year bonus by claiming that it had no choice after its compliance with British rules on pay backfired.

Credit Suisse defends its bankers' mid-year bonus. Photo: The Telegraph

The Swiss bank suggested its decision to distribute a multi-million pound bonus-round, a move that looks set to re-ignite the row over City pay, was necessary to avoid losing key people to its rivals over the next few months.

Around 400 bankers are thought to have benefited from the windfall payments which will be awarded on Wednesday, in addition to the payments traditionally made at the end of the year.

The bank consulted with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) over the September bonuses, although it is not clear if the Government was warned in advance.

Credit Suisse was at pains to point out that the payments are compliant with the FSA's latest rules and include tough conditions including deferred payment and claw-back provisions.

Even so, the extra payouts, particularly at a time of concerns over a double-dip recession, are likely to reignite the row over City pay.

Politicians and regulators, who have vowed to crack-down on lavish payments by banks in the wake of the financial crisis, will be concerned that the unusual move is a prelude to another controversial bonus season. Read on and comment >>> Louise Armitstead, Chief Business Correspondent | Tuesday, August 31, 2010