Monday, 30 January 2012

EU-Gipfel: 25 EU-Staaten beschließen Fiskalpakt

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE: Beim EU-Gipfel in Brüssel haben 25 EU-Länder zugesagt, sich an einem Pakt für strenge Haushaltsdisziplin zu beteiligen. Nicht dabei sind bis auf weiteres Großbritannien - und überraschend auch die Tschechische Republik.

Alle EU-Staaten außer Großbritannien und überraschend auch der Tschechischen Republik haben einen Sparpakt für mehr Haushaltsdisziplin vereinbart. Das teilte Gipfelchef Herman Van Rompuy am Montagabend beim EU-Gipfel in Brüssel mit. Die 25 Länder verpflichteten sich in diesem zwischenstaatlichen Fiskalvertrag zum Sparen und zur Einführung einer Schuldenbremse nach deutschem Vorbild. Die Staaten akzeptierten eine schärfere Haushaltskontrolle durch die EU sowie härtere Strafen gegen Schuldensünder. » | Von Nikolas Busse, Werner Mussler, Manfred Schäfers | Montag 30. Januar 2012
Europe's Lost Generation: How It Feels to Be Young and Struggling in the EU

THE GUARDIAN: Viola Caon left her Italian home to find work. Now she returns to see how her former classmates are faring… and in the week that shocking figures showed how badly Europe's youth is being hit by the unemployment crisis, we also talk to hard-hit twentysomethings in Athens and Madrid

Maybe being young is never easy. But being a twentysomething young European has rarely been more stressful.

More than a quarter (28%) of Italians between 16 and 24 are unemployed. Others are struggling to get by on unpaid internships or poorly paid jobs with little security.

Italy's new prime minister, Mario Monti, has vowed to help the younger generation, promising among other things to help them start businesses, but as austerity bites deep the future is uncertain, even terrifying, for many.

It's not just Italy, of course. Eurozone unemployment is at a record. According to Eurostat, the EU's statistical office, 16.3 million people are out of work in the 17 countries that joined the euro. The story of a lost generation is becoming the scandal of a continent. In Spain, 51.4% of those aged 16-24 are jobless. In Greece, the figure is 43%.

As the eurozone crisis worsened, I went back to my hometown of Civita Castellana, 65 kilometres north of Rome, to meet my classmates from the Giuseppe Colasanti high school. Michela, Maria, Elena, Elisa, Michele, Martina and I were in the class of 2005. » | Viola Caon in Civita Castellana | Saturday, January 28, 2012
The Austerity Debacle

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Last week the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, a British think tank, released a startling chart comparing the current slump with past recessions and recoveries. It turns out that by one important measure — changes in real G.D.P. since the recession began — Britain is doing worse this time than it did during the Great Depression. Four years into the Depression, British G.D.P. had regained its previous peak; four years after the Great Recession began, Britain is nowhere close to regaining its lost ground.

Nor is Britain unique. Italy is also doing worse than it did in the 1930s — and with Spain clearly headed for a double-dip recession, that makes three of Europe’s big five economies members of the worse-than club. Yes, there are some caveats and complications. But this nonetheless represents a stunning failure of policy.

And it’s a failure, in particular, of the austerity doctrine that has dominated elite policy discussion both in Europe and, to a large extent, in the United States for the past two years.

O.K., about those caveats: On one side, British unemployment was much higher in the 1930s than it is now, because the British economy was depressed — mainly thanks to an ill-advised return to the gold standard — even before the Depression struck. On the other side, Britain had a notably mild Depression compared with the United States.

Even so, surpassing the track record of the 1930s shouldn’t be a tough challenge. Haven’t we learned a lot about economic management over the last 80 years? Yes, we have — but in Britain and elsewhere, the policy elite decided to throw that hard-won knowledge out the window, and rely on ideologically convenient wishful thinking instead. » | Paul Krugman | Sunday, January 29, 2012
Cuba to Usher in Changes

The Castro brothers, Fidel and Raul, have ruled Cuba for 50 year - but on Sunday President Raul Castro looks set to ring in a number changes for the communist nation. Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo has more from Havana.

The Friend Who Said 'No' to Facebook

David Kerley gets the back story on one of Mark Zuckerberg's college pals.

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Stephen Hester Drops £1m RBS Bonus

Labour leader Ed Miliband says the threat of a Commons vote to condemn Stephen Hester's bonus was the driving force behind his decision to waive it. Report by Adam Sich.



Nicolas Sarkozy Says Britain Has 'No Industry'

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: President Nicolas Sarkozy has stated Britain is a country with "no industry" as he set out "shock measures" to reinvigorate France's faltering economy.

Mr Sarkozy announced he would increase VAT by 1.6 per cent. When a journalist made the point that there had been an increase in prices in Britain after VAT rises, Mr Sarkozy claimed: "The United Kingdom has no industry anymore."

A UK official said: “It is not true. The percentage of GDP that is manufacturing is11 per cent, the same as in France.”

Manufacturing as a percentage of GDP was 11 per cent in the UK and in France in 2009, the last comparable figures.

“UK industrial production as a share of GDP was 15 per cent, compared to 12.5 per cent in France in the same year. What he said is not true. He has got an election.”

Defending his efforts to save the euro and the French economy, Mr Sarkozy said: “The financial crisis is calming down. Europe is no longer on the edge of the abyss...The elements of a stabilisation of the financial situation in the world and in Europe are in place.”

Mr Sarkozy all but announced his candidacy for the two-round election, due to be held on April 22 and May 6. “I have a rendezvous with the French,” he said. “I will not shirk my responsibility.”

But the uncharacteristically downbeat president admitted to having "regrets" about some of his policies, which he said he would address "at the appropriate time".

His remarks came a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany backed his — as yet unannounced — re-election bid by unexpectedly announcing that she would join him on the campaign trail.

In a hour-long “do or die” TV interview broadcast simultaneously by nine channels, Mr Sarkozy adopted Churchillian tones as he unveiled measures from reducing working time and salaries to save jobs to raising VAT in order to cut employers’ contributions by €13 billion (£11 billion). However, the man who staked his presidency on boosting the French economy faces a tough task as he lags in the polls, unemployment stands at a 12-year high and public debt is at record levels. Read on and comment » | Henry Samuel, Paris | Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Die große Pleite

Anatomie der Finanzkrise

Immigrants Fight for Justice in Spain

Thousands of Ecuadorian immigrants in Spain have not been able to keep up with home-loan repayments amid an economic crisis. Many were allegedly coaxed by agents into buying homes they could not afford, as the immigrants were an easy prey. Al Jazeera's Jona Hull reports from Madrid on their quest for justice in the country with Europe's highest unemployment rate.

Cuba's Communist Party Seeks Out the Youth

Cuba's Communist Party is meeting in Havana for its first National Conference, and getting young people involved in the affairs of the nation will be high on the agenda. Many say they would like to see new faces in government, stressing the need for generational change in a country where the top leadership is about 80 years old. Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo reports from Havana.


THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: As Raul Castro's Communists hold conference to promote reforms, Cubans fear it is all too slow: As Raul Castro calls a rare National Conference of Cuba's Communist Party, an army of entrepreneurs is desperate to do more business. But does their energy outstrip the slow pace of reform? » | Georgia Birch in Havana | Saturday, January 28, 2012
Britain's 'Lost Generation' of Unemployed

Across Britain there are nearly one million unemployed young people. For these youth, finding a job is not merely about income, but also a matter of character. Due to a law aimed to people perceived to be lazy, many of these young people will be forced to work for free. Lacking the money to go to university and the jobs with which to build a CV these young Brits feel at a loss. Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee reports from Leeds.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Davos Meeting Seeks to Ease Europe Tensions

Finance chiefs at the World Economic Forum in Davos have been trying to reassure business leaders about Europe's efforts to resolve its crisis. Supported by the US, the IMF is putting more pressure on Europe to pile extra money into its rescue fund, and the US will not put more money into the IMF until EU leaders strengthen their bail out fund. There are also signs that Greece is nearing a key deal with private bondholders to reduce its debt. Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons reports from Davos.

Best of WEF vom 27.01.2012

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Fitch Downgrades Five Eurozone Economies

BBC: Fitch ratings agency has downgraded five eurozone economies, including Italy and Spain, citing financial weakness during the debt crisis.

Italy was downgraded two notches to A- from A+, while Spain was also lowered two levels to A from AA-.

Belgium, Slovenia and Cyprus were also downgraded, while Fitch cut its outlook for the Republic of Ireland.

Earlier this month, Standard & Poor's agency downgraded nine eurozone eoconomies, including France. » | Friday, January 27, 2012
François Hollande Vows to Tax the Rich to Pay Off French Deficit

THE GUARDIAN: Leftwing frontrunner in presidential race launches manifesto on how Socialist party would deal with financial crisis


François Hollande, the leftwing frontrunner in the French presidential race, has vowed to make the rich pay the highest price to help drag France out of its economic crisis, while promising to pump more money into schools and state-assisted jobs.

The Socialist rural MP, who recently declared "my real adversary in this campaign is the world of finance", launched his manifesto on Thursday, a road map of how the left would deal with the financial crisis. Hollande said he would raise taxes for banks and big companies as well as France's richest people, and use the money to help wipe out the nation's crippling public deficit.

By scrapping some €29bn (£24bn) worth of tax breaks for wealthier people introduced under Nicolas Sarkozy, he said he could find €20bn to deal with the corrosion of French society: record unemployment, soaring youth jobless figures and an education system that has been shamed as one of the most unequal in Europe, where one in six children leave with no qualifications. » | Angelique Chrisafis | Thursday, January 26, 2012
Bill Gates: 'I Wrote Steve Jobs a Letter as He Was Dying. He Kept It by His Bed’

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: People’s plutocrat Bill Gates talks about friendly rivalry, and how to get bankers to part with their money.

Bill Gates has frugal tastes. Asked to name his luxuries, he lists DVDs, books and takeaway burgers. It is hard, however, to think that any fast-food outlet would get rich on Gates’s custom. During a long list of engagements beginning well before dawn, he consumes nothing but cans of diet cola.

For America’s wealthiest citizen, austerity is relative. The retinue of staff and the private jet hint at a fortune said to be approaching £40 billion. As he told pupils at a south London school he visited this week: “If I hadn’t given my money away, I’d have had more than anyone else on the planet. Ninety-nine per cent of it will go.”

In an era when the wealthiest are society’s pariahs, the Microsoft founder has become the people’s plutocrat. Although some diseases, such as malaria, remain rife, his charitable foundation and his lobbying have borne results. In the past year, not a single citizen in India contracted polio.

“People think aid is abstract and thousands of miles away. I go there and see it. I’m intent on making sure that my money gets to people who need it, and I come back and say it’s working.” This message has been heeded by “Cameron and George,” who have promised to hit the recognised goal of spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on aid.

Is he not disappointed that Mr Osborne will effectively be cutting the budget by more than £1.1 billion over three years, because the economy is shrinking? “I have nothing but praise for the UK. [The drop] is certainly unfortunate, but I can hardly complain about it. 0.7 per cent is the gold standard, and most countries aren’t living up to that.” Read on and comment » | Mary Riddell | Friday, January 27, 2012

My comment:

Bill Gates must be one of the most unselfish men on the planet! He's got a golden heart. Wouldn't it be wonderful if just some of the mega-rich followed in his footsteps? What a wonderful world it would be if more people thought like him! – © Mark

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Thursday, 26 January 2012

US Election 2012: Sending Home the Illegal Immigrants

As the Republican presidential candidate race heats up, the telegraph travels to the border state of Texas to see how policy discussed in Washington affects lives on the ground.


THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Newt Gingrich would like to see an amnesty, Ron Paul thinks government, not business should take responsibility for the problem and Mitt Romney would veto any path to citizenship, but on the ground in Texas the problem of illegal immigration defies a soundbite solution.

In a border state where the economy is buoyed by the work of illegal immigrants, the idea of shipping them all home isn’t quite as simple as it seems. » | Alastair Good, Texas | Monday, January 23, 2012
State of the Union 2012: Is Barack Obama Right that the US Auto Industry Has Recovered?

As Barack Obama celebrates the rebirth of the US auto industry during his State of the Union address, the Telegraph travels to Detroit, the home of American car manufacturing, to investigate the reality on the ground.


Read article and comment here | Alastair Good, Detroit, Michigan | Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Davos: David Cameron Says Eurozone Problems 'Man-made'

The prime minister addresses the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, saying three things need to be done urgently in 2012: 'Greece, banks and firewall'. David Cameron told eurozone leaders that with 'bold action and real political will', the problems facing the eurozone could be fixed

US Federal Reserve to Keep Interest Rates Near Zero until 2014

THE GUARDIAN: Federal Reserve Bank's pessimism indicates the economy may not fully recover from the recession for another two years

The US Federal Reserve expects to keep short-term interest rates close to zero "at least through late 2014" – longer than previously indicated – chairman Ben Bernanke said as he expressed concerns about the pace of the recovery.

The decision means the Fed fears the economy will not fully recover from the recession that started in 2008 for at least another two years. "I don't think we're ready to declare that we've entered a new, stronger phase at this point. We'll continue to look at the data," Bernanke said at a press conference.

The Fed's pessimism contrasts with Barack Obama's positive message about the economy in his state of the union speech on Tuesday night, and underlines the scale of the challenge he faces to convince American voters to give him a second term.

"While indicators point to some further improvement in overall labour market conditions, the unemployment rate remains elevated," the Fed said in a statement released after a two-day meeting. "Household spending has continued to advance, but growth in business fixed investment has slowed, and the housing sector remains depressed."

For the first time the Fed released a quarterly economic forecast, detailing committee members' thoughts about how long they believe the Fed should retain its three-year-old policy of holding short-term interest rates near zero. » | Dominic Rushe | Wednesday, January 25, 2012

THE GUARDIAN: Tim Geithner: Obama will not select me to run Treasury again: Treasury secretary predicts president will be re-elected in November – but doubts he'll be offered the Treasury job again » | Dominic Rushe | Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Paul Krugman: Is Our Economy Healing?

THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE: How goes the state of the union? Well, the state of the economy remains terrible. Three years after President Barack Obama’s inauguration and two and a half years since the official end of the recession, unemployment remains painfully high.

But there are reasons to think that we’re finally on the (slow) road to better times. And we wouldn’t be on that road if Obama had given in to Republican demands that he slash spending, or the Federal Reserve had given in to Republican demands that it tighten money.

Why am I letting a bit of optimism break through the clouds? Recent economic data have been a bit better, but we’ve already had several false dawns on that front. More important, there’s evidence that the two great problems at the root of our slump — the housing bust and excessive private debt — are finally easing.

On housing: As everyone now knows (but oh, the abuse heaped on anyone pointing it out while it was happening!), we had a monstrous housing bubble between 2000 and 2006. Home prices soared, and there was clearly a lot of overbuilding. When the bubble burst, construction — which had been the economy’s main driver during the alleged “Bush boom” — plunged.

But the bubble began deflating almost six years ago; house prices are back to 2003 levels. And after a protracted slump in housing starts, America now looks seriously underprovided with houses, at least by historical standards.

So why aren’t people going out and buying? Because the depressed state of the economy leaves many people who would normally be buying homes either unable to afford them or too worried about job prospects to take the risk.

But the economy is depressed, in large part, because of the housing bust, which immediately suggests the possibility of a virtuous circle: an improving economy leads to a surge in home purchases, which leads to more construction, which strengthens the economy further, and so on. And if you squint hard at recent data, it looks as if something like that may be starting: Home sales are up, unemployment claims are down, and builders’ confidence is rising. » | Paul Krugman | The New York Times | Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Gespräch: Timothy Garton Ash

Kaum einer analysiert die Euro-Schuldenkrise schärfer als der an der Uni Oxford lehrende Star-Historiker Timothy Garton Ash. Garton Ash sieht die Lösung der aktuellen Schulden-Krise in einem grossen Schritt zu "mehr Europa". Zu halbherzig, zu zögerlich sind ihm die bisherigen Rettungsversuche. „Uns geht es noch zu gut“, meint Garton Ash. Das Stuhl-Gespräch vom WEF aus Davos.

Rundschau vom 25.01.2012
Angela Merkels Eröffnungsrede am WEF

Die deutsche Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel eröffnet das diesjährige WEF. Das grosse Thema in ihrer Rede - die Schuldenkrise in Europa. Die ultimative Lösung brachte sie zwar nicht, aber Merkel zeigte sich optimistisch. Und rief Europa einmal mehr auf, enger zusammenzurücken.

Rundschau vom 25.01.2012
Verdächtiger Satus-Symbol

Europa steckt in der Misere, Sparen ist angesagt. Gut, gibt es China. Die Chinesen haben noch Geld und stehen zunehmend auf Luxus. Zum Beispiel auf sündhaft teure Uhren aus der Schweiz. Erstaunlich dabei: nicht nur chinesische Spitzenverdiener schmücken sich mit einer Rolex, sondern auch einfache Beamte. Viele Funktionäre in China tragen eine kostbare Schweizer Uhr. Wie kommt das?

Rundschau vom 25.01.2012
Turkey Booming as EU Continues to Languish

As Europe continues to grapple with its economic crisis, Turkey appears to be slowing its move toward EU membership. The economy is booming, and as it strengthens relationships in the Middle East, the country is debating whether its future lies more in the east than the west. Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reports from Ankara.

Brazil's Millionaires Increasing in Numbers

Brazil's booming economy has helped bring millions of more citizens into the country's middle class population in the last decade.

According to a new report, the upper class is also rapidly expanding with 19 new millionaires a day in the world's fifith largest economy.

Gabriel Elizondo reports from Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Apple Makes $13bn Profit in Three Months

THE GUARDIAN: First quarter since death of Steve Jobs sees record revenue with 37m iPhones sold

Apple reported record revenue in its first quarter since the death of Steve Jobs, as iPhone sales continued to soar.

For the three months to December 31, Apple reported net income of $13.06bn compared to net income of $6bn for the same period the previous year. » | Dominic Rushe in New York | Tuesday, January 24, 2012

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Apple is world's most valuable company after iPhone frenzy drives record profits: Apple has regained its position as the world's most valuable company after reporting record quarterly results that smashed market expectations. » | Harry Wilson | Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Davos Elite: Capitalism Has Widened Income Gap

SEATTLE POST INTELIGENCER: DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — A four-year economic crisis has left societies battered and widened the gap between the haves and have-nots, financial leaders conceded Wednesday — with one suggesting that Western-style capitalism itself may be endangered.

As Europe struggles with its debt crisis and the global economic outlook remains gloomy at best, there's a sense at the heavily guarded World Economic Forum that free markets are on trial.

Many at the elite economic gathering in the Swiss Alps accept that more must be done to convince critics that Western capitalism has a future and that it can learn from its massive failures.

For David Rubenstein, the co-founder and managing director of asset management firm Carlyle Group, leaders must work fast to overcome the current crisis or else different models of capitalism, such as the form practiced in China, may win the day.

"As a result of this recession, that's lasted longer than anyone predicted and will probably go on for a number more years ... we're going to have a lot of economic disparities," Rubenstein said. "We've got to work through these problems. If we don't do in three or four years ... the game will be over for the type of capitalism that many of us have lived through and thought was the best type." » | Pan Pylas, AP Business Writer | Wednesday, January 25, 2012
WEF 2012: Interview mi Martin Wolf

Der Chef-Kommentator der «Financial Times» glaubt, dass die Euro-Zone in eine Rezession abrutschen wird und sich deshalb die Weltwirtschaft abkühlen wird. Er ist überzeugt, dass die Euro-Zone nur überleben kann, wenn Anpassungen vorgenommen werden.

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'There Will Be Riots on Streets of America': George Soros Predicts Class War in U.S. as Euro Triggers Collapse of Global Economy

MAIL ONLINE: Billionaire New York investor warns of impending economic meltdown / Backs euro and buys Italian bonds from Jon Corzine's failed MF Global / Warns it's 'difficult to know right decisions to make' after boom years / Supports Occupy Wall Street, Democrats and Obama re-election efforts

Billionaire investor George Soros has warned the global economic system could collapse and riots on the streets of America are on the way.

The 81-year-old said he’d rather survive than stay rich as the world faces an ‘evil’ period and Europe fights a ‘descent into chaos and conflict’.

He has backed the euro, bought $2billion in European bonds and insisted the economic climate is similar to the 1930s Great Depression.

‘The euro must survive because the alternative - a breakup - would cause a meltdown that Europe, the world, can’t afford,’ he told Newsweek.

‘The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world.’

His warnings came as U.S. stocks dipped on Tuesday, with talks to resolve Greece's debt crisis faltering and threatening a five-day winning streak. » | Mark Duell | Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Sir Mervyn King Warns Elite to Rein In Pay

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The Governor of the Bank of England has warned Britain's business and banking elite to rein in pay and bonuses or risk sparking a rebellion against capitalism in its current form.

In a speech to business figures in Brighton setting out the "arduous, long and uneven" path to recovery this year, Sir Mervyn King said the key to restoring growth would be "above all else ... to maintain support for a market economy and an open world trading system".

His fears reflect the recent backlash against capitalism, with the Occupy movement spreading from Wall Street to St Paul's and, this week, Davos – the Swiss ski resort where the world's rich and powerful are meeting.

Coming in the week that the Coalition laid out proposals to rein in excessive executive pay, Sir Mervyn said: "The legitimacy of a market economy will inevitably be challenged if rewards go disproportionately to a small elite, especially one which benefited from the support of taxpayers.

"Those taking decisions on remuneration, in the financial sector and elsewhere, need to understand that a market economy rests not just on incentives, but on the acceptance that the distribution of rewards is fair."

He said the growing sense of injustice was because "those who have suffered most have been those who bear no responsibility for [the financial crisis], and who accepted the disciplines of a market economy only to find that others were excused that discipline because they were 'too important to fail'". » | Philip Aldrick, Economics Editor | Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My comment:

Mervyn King is absolutely right to warn the élite about excesses. Capitalism is a flawed system, but it is the best economic system known to man. The élite need to be very careful that they don't 'cook their goose' through their greed. Socialism may have been defeated for a while, but it will surely be waiting in the wings to re-appear when the time is right. We would be ill-advised to assume that it is dead forever. Everything in life goes in cycles. I say this: Don't give the socialists a chance to bring the best system down. Moderation is key. – © Mark

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Inside a Chinese Communist Party School

Marxist thought combined with market economy principles in the ruling party's lecture halls.

UK Debt Passes £1 Trillion for the First Time

The UK Treasury has blamed "unsustainable" levels of spending by the last Labour government for public debt rising above £1 trillion for the first time.


Read the article and comment here | Szu Ping Chan | Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday, 23 January 2012

Executive Pay to Be Linked to Rank-and-File Salaries

Chief executives’ pay awards should be set partly according to how much they pay their rank-and-file staff under new government rules proposed yesterday.


Read article and comment here | James Kirkup | Monday, January 23, 2012
David Cameron: 'Don’t Complain about Welfare Cuts, Go and Find Work'

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: People living in benefit-dependent households have been urged by the Prime Minister to “go out and work” rather than complain about the loss of welfare payments.

David Cameron said that living on welfare had become an “acceptable alternative” to working and suggested that benefit payments were too easy to receive.

He spoke as the Government faced serious opposition to the plan to cap the maximum benefit payments that can be received by any household at £26,000. The House of Lords is seeking to block the policy.

The cap has been set at the same level as the average family’s earnings and ministers insist that it is unfair that taxpayers must subsidise those receiving more from the state than typical employees earn.

The Government was defeated in the House of Lords after bishops tabled an amendment to the Welfare Bill proposing that child benefit is excluded from the cap.

The amendment, which was backed by dozens of Liberal Democrat peers, threatens to wreck the entire concept of the cap.

Senior Conservatives have said they are determined to force through the legislation by overturning the Lords amendment, a move which is said to have widespread public backing.

Speaking before the Lords debate, the Prime Minister sought to echo Norman Tebbit, the former Conservative minister, who told unemployed people to “get on your bike” in 1981. » | Robert Winnett, and James Kirkup | Monday, January 23, 2012

My comment:

The welfare state was conceived as a safety net for those in need when times were tough. As such, the idea was fine. Unfortunately, the original concept of welfare has been abandoned. Welfare is now all-embracing, not just for the people who are out of work or disabled, but for all who seek to scrounge off the State. It should never have been allowed to grow into this monster in the first place. The politicians can only blame themselves for this.

Something will have to be done about the monster they have created. Taxpayers cannot be expected to foot the ever-increasing bill for those who prefer to scrounge than pull themselves up by the bootstraps.

Whether now is the right time to tell people to look for work rather than receive benefits is, however, questionable. Where are all these people going to find employment? Doesn't Cameron realize that his own government’s austerity drive is leading to a shortage of work opportunities?

Mr. Cameron seems to be living in an ivory tower, a gilded cage if you will. Is he so cut off from the reality of life that he is blissfully unaware of the plight of the many?

The welfare state needs to be cutback to the bare bones. But to achieve this, there has to be a long-term strategy. Tinkering at the margins will achieve little in the long-run. Some serious thought needs to be given to the starting point of cut-backs. It cannot be right to punish those in real need. The scroungers need to be targetted first. As do all those benefit-tourists coming from abroad to milk the system. They have contributed nothing towards the system, so really should not be entitled to anything. That how it works for a Brit; so why should it be any different for someone from abroad?

It should also be said that cutting back on the welfare state must be a two-pronged strategy: It has to be accompanied by some form of job creation? For without jo bs being offered in the system, Cameron's talk is tantamount to whistling Dixie.
– © Mark


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Tutelle : Liliane Bettencourt se pourvoit en cassation

LE FIGARO: La guerre entre la mère et la fille n'est pas achevée. Son avocat explique que l'héritière de l'Oréal est dans «une grande souffrance».

Liliane Bettencourt a décidé de se pourvoir en cassation afin de contester son placement sous tutelle. La réconciliation n'est donc pas encore de mise entre la mère et la fille. «Elle m'a exprimé une grande souffrance» à la suite du jugement en appel, rapporte Jean-René Farthouat, l'avocat de la milliardaire, qui s'est entretenu avec sa cliente vendredi passé, en fin d'après-midi. » | Par Laurence De Charette | lundi 23 janvier 2012

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Wealthy Should Make 'a Greater Contribution' through Mansion Tax Says Nick Clegg

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg defends the idea of a mansion tax as a way for the wealthy to contribute more to the public finances.


Read the short article here | Sunday, January 22, 2012

Related »
Investors Fight for Powers to Block 'Rewards for Failure'

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Britain's leading investors are to push for new powers to block controversial "rewards for failure" termination payments to chief executives and remove remuneration committee chairmen who refuse to rein in excessive pay awards.

In a series of submissions to the Department for Business, members of the Association of British Insurers, which represents the main fund managers in the UK who account for billions of pounds of invested assets, have also demanded that the role of remuneration consultants be overhauled.

The proposals say that pay metrics should be simple and transparent and that bonuses should be weighted towards paying out between three and five years rather than after one year which many schemes allow.

Investor representatives spoken to by The Sunday Telegraph revealed the series of proposals 48 hours before the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, announces new legislation on pay. Mr Cable's department has been locked in negotiations with fund managers to ensure there is at least some agreement on measures before the announcements are made.

It is believed that the Secretary of State will say that termination payments will be made subject to a binding vote of shareholders. Mr Cable will argue that such votes would have been able to block awards to disgraced figures such as Sir Fred Goodwin who caused controversy when he was awarded a £2.8m payoff by RBS. Read on and comment » | Kamal Ahmed, Sunday Telegraph Business Editor | Saturday, January 21, 2012
2012 South Carolina Primary

FOX NEWS: Track the race in real time. »

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Vince Cable Calls for Mansion Tax in Next Budget

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Vince Cable has called for an annual 1pc levy on homes worth over £2m and insists Conservative MPs are among the scheme's backers.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, is pushing for a mansion tax to be introduced on properties worth more than £2million in this year’s Budget.

While the policy is likely to be opposed by George Osborne, the Chancellor, Mr Cable said that he had spoken to Conservative MPs who backed the plan.

“A mansion tax is still very much on the agenda – it is a very good idea,” Mr Cable told The Sunday Telegraph.

“It is good for two reasons,’’ he said. ''It would constitute a tax on wealth rather than income, which we believe to be right, and also in economic terms it creates the right sort of incentives for the property market.”

Mr Cable added that it was “perverse” that rich “foreigners” could buy expensive properties in Britain and contribute just £1,000 a year in council tax towards the public finances.

The Business Secretary will on Tuesday unveil new measures to curb executive pay at Britain’s biggest public companies. He is expected to propose binding votes over future pay awards.

His insistence that a mansion tax was still on the cards will surprise many of his party’s MPs and supporters, who have grown pessimistic about it becoming government policy. The proposed levy would see home owners hit with an annual charge of 1 per cent of the property’s value above a £2 million threshold.

A homeowner with a property valued at £2.5 million would pay £5,000 a year, while one whose house was worth £5 million would pay £30,000 a year. This would be on top of council tax. » | Robert Watts, Deputy Political Editor | Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thursday, 19 January 2012

370,000 Migrants On the Dole

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: More than 370,000 migrants who were admitted to Britain to work, study or go on holiday are now claiming out-of-work benefits, according to official figures compiled for the first time.

The migrants, who can claim unemployment, housing and incapacity benefit, are costing taxpayers billions of pounds a year.

In other countries, many would have had to return home after their visas expired or their employment ended.

The figures are likely to reopen the debate over the generosity of the welfare system amid growing concerns that the country has become a destination for “benefit tourists”.

In an article for today’s Daily Telegraph, Chris Grayling, the employment minister, and Damian Green, the immigration minister, say that the large number of migrants now claiming benefits has been increased by the “organisational chaos” of Britain’s immigration system.

“It should never have been allowed to happen and Labour should be embarrassed by what it left behind,” they add. Read on and comment » | Robert Winnett, Political Editor | Thursday, January 19, 2012
Weltwirtschaftsforum Davos

Angesichts der aktuellen Wirtschaftslage finden sich nächste Woche so viele Teilnehmer wie noch nie am Weltwirtschaftsforum in Davos ein. 2600 Menschen werden über neue Wege diskutieren, bevorstehenden globalen Herausforderungen zu begegnen.

Tagesschau vom 18.01.2012
Les Bourses européennes en hausse, les adjudications rassurent

REUTERS FRANCE: PARIS (Reuters) - Les Bourses européennes ont fini en nette hausse jeudi, soutenues par une accélération du rebond des banques, après la forte demande lors des adjudications de dette en France et en Espagne et dans l'espoir d'une issue positive des négociations entre la Grèce et ses créanciers privés.

L'indice CAC 40 a clôturé en hausse de 1,96% à 3.328,94 points, son plus haut niveau depuis le 27 octobre 2011, alors que l'indice paneuropéen Eurostoxx 50 a gagné 1,86% à 2.435,04 points. A Francfort, le Dax a pris 0,97%, tandis que le FTSE londonien s'est adjugé 0,68%. » | Juliette Rouillon pour le service français, édité par Benoît Van Overstraeten | jeudi 19 janvier 2012
Qatar Promises Labour Reform Before 2022

Head of organising committee pledges international labour standards will be met as Gulf state prepares for tournament.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

French Unemployment Becomes Key Issue

Some French people are upset with their country's unemployment situation, which has reached nearly 10 per cent.

To calm people's nerves, Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, has been holding a summit to cut the country's unemployment rate, but he has apparently failed to convince the public of his ability to lower unemployment.

The situation is especially stark for young people, and it is becoming a key part of the upcoming presidential elections.

Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reports from Paris.


Shopkeeper Upsets Jobseekers by Demanding Polish Language Skills

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Shopkeeper Naveed Hassamin has infuriated jobseekers in Cornwall by turning away anyone who doesn't speak Polish.

Mr Hassamin placed an advert in the window of Costcutter in Bodmin, Cornwall, stating that a "knowledge of Polish" was "preferable" for the position.

But he has been forced to withdraw the advertis[e]ment after a string of complaints from unemployed local people desperate for work.

Paul Baynon, 23, a jobseeker from Bodmin, said: "They asked me if I spoke Polish, and when I said no, they said that is what they were looking for, so I didn't have a chance.
"They didn't say in the ad that they wanted a translator."

Unemployed local Robert Mill, 27, said: "I would have liked the job at Costcutter because jobs are hard to come by in the town. » | Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Cost of Syria's Crackdown

Could the country's economic decline, spurred on by the protests, pose a graver challenge to al-Assad than the uprising?

Eurozone Has Long Road Ahead: Germany

Angel Merkel, the German Chancellor has warned Europe has a long way to go to solve its debt crisis, after Standard and Poor's downgraded the credit ratings of nine European countries.

The rating's agency says the Eurozone countries are not as safe a bet for investment as they once were. France know joins Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus as fellow victims of the economic downturn.

Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reports from Paris.


Tourism Industry Suffers Big Losses in Tunisia

Tunisia's tourism minister says his country has lost almost half of its European tourists since the revolution a year ago.

More than a million people work in the tourism industry, and the government desperately needs visitors to start coming back.

Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri reports from the Tunisian city of Carthage.


Stiglitz Says European Austerity Plans Are a 'Suicide Pact'

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: European governments have signed a "suicide pact" by imposing fiscal austerity plans that will collapse their economies, Joseph Stiglitz, the liberal economist, has warned.

Imposing austerity measures as countries slow towards recession is a fundamentally flawed response, said Mr Stiglitz, who won the Nobel prize in 2001 for his work on how markets work inefficiently.

"The answer, even though they see over and over again that austerity leads to collapse of the economy, the answer over and over [from politicians] is more austerity," said Mr Stiglitz to the Asian Financial Forum, a gathering of over 2,000 finance professionals, businessmen and government officials in Hong Kong.

"It reminds me of medieval medicine," he said. "It is like blood-letting, where you took blood out of a patient because the theory was that there were bad humours.

"And very often, when you took the blood out, the patient got sicker. The response then was more blood-letting until the patient very nearly died. What is happening in Europe is a mutual suicide pact," he said.

Keynesian economics, which require governments to help sustain demand, suggests that austerity measures should be imposed when an economy is booming, not waning.

Mr Stiglitz pointed out that 700,000 public sector jobs had been cut in the United States in the past four years, removing demand from the system as unemployment spikes. The UK is set to lose a similar number by 2017. Read on and comment » | Malcolm Moore, in Hong Kong | Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: The Republican Candidates on Taxes


FOX NEWS: Romney defends record at South Carolina debate, as GOP rivals fight for edge in state primary » | Fox News.com | Tuesday, January 17, 2012

REUTERS.COM: Romney unscathed from debate attacks: (Reuters) - Republican presidential hopefuls attacked Mitt Romney's record in business and government on Monday and challenged him to release his tax returns, but the front-runner emerged largely unscathed from a South Carolina debate. » | John Whitesides and Deborah Charles | MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina | Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Income Now the Big Divide in US

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: CONFLICT between rich and poor now eclipses racial strain and friction between immigrants and the native-born as the greatest source of tension in US society, according to a new survey.

About two-thirds of Americans now believe there are ''strong conflicts'' between rich and poor in the US, a survey by the Pew Research Centre found, a sign that the message of income inequality brandished by the Occupy Wall Street movement and pressed by Democrats may be seeping into the national consciousness.

The result was about a 50 per cent increase from a survey in 2009, when anger over the financial industry's role in the recession was festering. In that survey, 47 per cent of those polled said there were strong conflicts between classes. » | Sabrina Tavernise | Monday, January 16, 2012
Europe Had It Coming, Says PM

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: THE Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has rubbed salt into the wounds of European nations reeling from weekend credit downgrades, declaring they had it coming for avoiding tough decisions.

Speaking after Standard & Poor's stripped France and Austria of their AAA ratings and downgraded Italy, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, Malta, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, Ms Gillard said the moves were the "price to be paid" by governments that had put off reforms.

"For too many years, European governments have deferred the nation-building, productivity-enhancing reforms which Australia has made the foundation of our dynamic and resilient economy," she said yesterday.

"In stark contrast to Europe", Australia had strict fiscal rules that would return it to surplus in 2012-13. European leaders should "swiftly undertake structural reforms to boost their economic potential and lift growth". » | Peter Martin, Matt O'Sullivan | Monday, January 16, 2012
Eurozone's Fate Hangs on Whether French Humiliation Turns to Anger

THE GUARDIAN: The downgrading of France was meant as a warning. But as the Greek crisis enters a critical phase, and Athens looks to its partners for more cash, Europe may find that Sarkozy's patience has now all but run out

Nicolas Sarkozy has spent the weekend nursing his hurt pride after Standard & Poor's stripped France of its AAA rating in a late-night announcement on Friday. But this week, Greece will once again be at the eye of the eurozone storm, as inspectors from the so-called "troika" – the European commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank – arrive to decide whether Athens still deserves the €130bn (£107bn) bailout it was first promised last October.

And after Friday's mass downgrade, which underscored the fact that investors believe governments right across the 17-member single currency area will be on the hook if the crisis deteriorates, Greece's eurozone partners may no longer be in any mood to compromise. » | Heather Stewart | Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Eurozone in New Crisis as Ratings Agency Downgrades Nine Countries

THE GUARDIAN: Standard & Poor's strips France of its AAA credit rating, rekindling fears in the markets over future of single currency

Europe has been plunged into a fresh crisis after France was stripped of its coveted AAA credit rating in a mass downgrade of nine eurozone countries by the ratings agency Standard & Poor's.

S&P said austerity was driving Europe even deeper into financial crisis as it also cut Austria's triple-A rating, and relegated Portugal and Cyprus to junk status.

The humiliating loss of France's top-rated status leaves Germany as the only other major economy inside the eurozone with a AAA rating, and rekindled financial market anxiety about a possible break-up of the single currency.

S&P brought an abrupt end to the uneasy calm that has existed in the eurozone since the turn of the year by downgrading the ratings of Cyprus, Italy, Portugal and Spain by two notches. Austria, France, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia were all cut by one notch.

The agency said that its actions on eurozone ratings were "primarily driven by insufficient policy measures by EU leaders to fully address systemic stresses". It added that fiscal austerity alone "risks becoming self-defeating". » | Larry Elliott and Phillip Inman | Friday, January 13, 2012

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Nach SNB-Rücktritt: Headhunter machen Jagd auf Hildebrand*

Wie begehrt ist Philipp Hildebrand nach seinem Abgang? Ein Headhunter erkärt, wohin es den ex-SNB-Chef schlagen könnte.


* Das Video wurde in Schweizerdeutsch (Schwyzertüütsch) aufgenommen.

FINANCIAL TIMES: The dollar lifestyle of the Swiss central banker: In a hedge fund manager, being debonair, cosmopolitan, wealthy and quotable are good qualities. In a central banker, less so. » | John Gapper | Friday, January 13, 2012
Shariah Finance

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Poverty in America Likely to Get Worse, Report Finds

THE GUARDIAN: Indiana University study says 46 million Americans are living below the poverty line – up 27% since start of recession

Millions of Americans will be forced into poverty in the coming years even as the US hauls itself out of the longest and deepest recession since the second world war [sic].

A study from Indiana University, released on Wednesday, says the number of Americans living below the poverty line surged by 27% since the beginning of what it calls the "Great Recession" in 2006, driving 10 million more people into poverty.

The report warns that the numbers will continue to rise, because although the recession is technically over, its continued impact on cuts to welfare budgets and the quality of new, often poorly paid, jobs can be expected to force many more people in to poverty. It is also difficult for those already under water to get back up again.

"Poverty in America is remarkably widespread," concludes the study, At Risk: America's Poor During and After the Great Recession. "The number of people living in poverty is increasing and is expected to increase further, despite the recovery." » | Chris McGreal | Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Political Analyst Uli Bruckner Discusses Merkel-Monti Meeting

Uli Bruckner, a political analyst on Europe, talks to Al Jazeera's correspondent Nick Spicer in Berlin on the outcome of the meeting in Berlin between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mario Monti, the Italian prime minister.

Many Cubans Unhappy with Pace of Change

Swiss National Bank Chief Investigation: Philipp Hildebrand And His Wife's Currency Trades

Ganzes Gespräch mit Kashya Hildebrand (Originalton englisch) [Full Interview with Kashya Hildebrand]

Sie hat für die Familie Hildebrand mit den Dollar-Zukäufen den Stein ins Rollen gebracht: Kashya, die Ehefrau von Phillipp Hildebrand, seit Montag Ex-Präsident der Schweizerischen Nationalbank. Das Schweizer Fernsehen hat die Galeristin in Singapur getroffen.

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«Dass seine Glaubwürdigkeit beschädigt ist, bricht mir das Herz»

Kashya Hildebrand, die Ehefrau des am Montag zurückgetretenen Präsidenten der Schweizerischen Nationalbank, fühlt sich schuldig und ist wütend. «Hätte ich bloss das Chaos erahnt, in das ich das Land gestürzt habe», sagt die Galeristin in Singapur einer Reporterin des Tessiner Fernsehens.

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SCHWEIZER FERNSEHEN: «Dass seine Glaubwürdigkeit beschädigt ist, bricht mir das Herz» » | sf/schubeca | Mittwoch 11. Januar 2012
Ex-Schweizerische Nationalbank-Präsident Philipp Hildebrand

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Murky Politics Behind Fall of Swiss Banker

BBC: The resignation of Philipp Hildebrand as head of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) is front page news not just in Switzerland, but around the world.

His wife Kashya's questionable currency deals (Kashya Hildebrand used Swiss francs from the couple's joint account to purchase $500,000 just as the franc reached a record high, and only three weeks before her husband took measures to effectively devalue the franc) have cost him his job, and raised serious questions about his judgement.

But behind the headlines lies a much murkier tale of political intrigue.

Philipp Hildebrand, who took up his post in 2010, aged 46, was the youngest ever head of the SNB.

He began his job just as the Swiss financial sector looked to be recovering from a major financial crisis. Over-exposure to sub-prime mortgages had brought Switzerland's biggest bank, UBS, to the brink of ruin; it was only rescued by a government bailout.

Mr Hildebrand was instrumental in creating new "too big to fail" legislation requiring Swiss banks to reduce risk, and to hold more capital. It was a move which found favour in government circles, but earned him enemies among Switzerland's banking elite.

At the same time, pressure was growing on Switzerland to relax its strict banking secrecy and to hand over tax revenue owed to the US and European countries by their citizens who had put money in Swiss banks in the hope of evading tax.

Here again, Mr Hildebrand indicated he would like to see more openness from the banks - his stance aroused the anger of the right-wing Swiss People's Party, one of the staunchest defenders of banking secrecy.

European ties

Relations with Europe also became a stick with which to beat Switzerland's top banker.

Mr Hildebrand publicly acknowledged that the success of the Swiss economy was bound up with that of Europe's, and called for more openness and integration from non-EU Switzerland in its relations with Brussels.

This enraged the Swiss People's Party, which has long campaigned against closer ties with the EU.

When Mr Hildebrand announced a ceiling for the Swiss franc against the euro, in an attempt to protect Switzerland's export markets in the face of a soaring franc (60% of Swiss exports go to the EU) the People's Party accused him of trying to take Switzerland into the eurozone by the back door.

This despite the fact that Swiss business leaders, facing reduced orders and disappearing profits, had been begging the SNB to intervene.

Political sour grapes?

In fact, from the moment Mr Hildebrand took office, the People's Party has campaigned against him. Its charismatic leader, Christoph Blocher, made no secret of his contempt for the SNB's new chairman, suggesting he was too young and inexperienced for the job.

Some political commentators have suggested simple jealousy may also partly explain Mr Blocher's stance. Political sour grapes? » | Imogen Foulkes, BBC News, Geneva | Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DIE WELTWOCHE: Editorial – Hildebrands Geschäfte: Ein spekulierender NotenbankChef ist ein Sicherheitsrisiko. Die Medien spielen eine dubiose Rolle. » | Von Roger Köppel | Mittwoch 11. Januar 2012

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Eurover the Top! Brussels Grows amid Member State Woes

Immigation Does Keep Britons Out of Jobs, Government Committee Admits

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Immigration meant 160,000 British workers missed out on jobs in the last five years, the Government’s migration expert revealed.

A Briton is “displaced” from the labour market for every four extra migrants from outside the EU that arrive in the UK, the Migration Advisory Committee (Mac) concluded.

The report is the first official examination of the impact of immigration and showed it has kept resident workers out of jobs.

Professor David Metcalf, chairman of the Mac, also criticised the use of GDP for measuring the effects of the influx of foreign nationals as “pro-immigration” because more migrants will logically expand the economy. » | Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor | Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Outsider Switzerland Feels Europe’s Pain

BBC: As the crisis in the eurozone continues, many Europeans are wondering whether the single currency, and even the European Union (EU) itself, were ever really good ideas.

Some are looking towards Switzerland, which has stayed out of the EU and the euro but maintains close ties with Brussels, as a better example of how to protect the national economy while still enjoying the benefits of Europe's trade markets.

The Swiss continue to enjoy high salaries and a high standard of living and Switzerland's major cities regularly make the top ten list of best places to live.

What's more, Switzerland's welfare and social services remain relatively generous, with little sign of the austerity measures currently being introduced in many EU member states.

But Swiss economists say the picture is not as simple, and certainly not as rosy, as that.

"The Swiss economy is very integrated in the European market," explained Rudolf Minsch, chief economist at the Swiss Business Federation.

"Our enterprises are really dependent on what happens in the European market.

"About half of our exports are going to the eurozone, close to 60% to the EU, so once there is a recession in Europe this is a drawback for the Swiss economy. We are probably falling into a recession in Switzerland, too." » | Imogen Foulkes, BBC News, Zurich | Thursday, December 29, 2011
Im Interview: Nationalbank-Präsident Philipp Hildebrand

19.12.2011 – Die Schweizer Nationalbank hat beschlossen, den Mindestkurs zum Euro bei 1.20 Franken zu belassen. Damit ist sie konsequent, und glaubwürdig: Das sind wichtige Eigenschaften für eine Notenbank. Wie wichtig sind sie? Und wie stark sollen Notenbanken wie SNB und EZB in Krisensituationen ihr übliches Repertoire ausweiten? Philipp Hildebrand stellt sich den Fragen von «ECO»-Moderator Reto Lipp.

ECO vom 19.12.2011

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