Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Sir Mervyn King Launches Fierce Attack of Self-serving Banks and Weak Labour after Accusation of Complacency

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Sir Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, has launched a fierce attack on self-serving banks, the weakness of politicians in the face of the forceful bank lobby, and the Labour Government.

The Governor was angered by a comment from Andrew Large, a Labour MP on the Treasury Select Committee, who accused him of being “relaxed” about the current economic situation.

In a remarkable outburst in front of the committee he said he was "far from relaxed or complacent".

"I am actually rather concerned about it. I want to see something that makes sense economically, not something which is just a gesture."

Sir Mervyn said he had been "consistently and publicly" dissatisfied with what has been done.

"I said to the pervious government that the scale of the recapitalisation of the banks was inadequate and their actions in making sure banks lend to SMEs was also inadequate. I made that very clear."

The Governor then proceeded attack the current behaviour of banks – suggesting they are even trying to profit at taxpayers’ expense. » | Telegraph Staff | Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

'Excessive Wealth': French Candidate Calls for Top Tax of 75 Percent

SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERNATIONAL: If the Socialist Party's candidate wins the current presidential election in France, the country's highest earners may be faced with massive new taxes. Francois Hollande says he wants to introduce a wealth tax of 75 percent on income of over 1 million euros per year.

Francois Hollande, the Socialist Party frontrunner for the French presidency, announced a tax plan Monday that would see taxes on the wealthy rise dramatically if he is elected this spring.

Speaking on TF1 television, Hollande proposed a 75 percent tax on income over €1 million ($1.34 million), a huge jump from the current top rate of 40 percent.

"I can announce here that above €1 million (per year), the tax rate should be 75 percent, because it's not possible to have that level of income," said Hollande, who added that he did not accept "excessive wealth." » | Tuesday, February 28, 2012
China Removes Audis and BMW Cars from Official List

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: When driving in China, it is easy to spot government officials: they are the ones in the luxury German saloons, usually with blacked-out windows.

Each year, the Chinese government spends roughly £8 billion on buying cars, and owns more than five million, and until now Audis and BMWs have been the marques of choice for officials in all but the most remote villages.

Now, however, the government appears determined to stop the trend. A draft list of 412 car models permitted for procurement has no foreign cars on it at all. Most of the cars, indeed, are relatively small and cost under 180,000 yuan (£18,000), roughly half the price of an Audi A6.

In Beijing, Audi dealerships said they had not yet heard the news.

Audi, however, depends on the Chinese government for one-fifth of its sales in China.

The car has become so ubiquitous as a symbol of wealth and privilege in China that half of the world's Audi A6s are sold on the mainland. » | Malcolm Moore, Beijing | Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday, 27 February 2012

In Griechenland steigt die Armut

Weil die Wirtschaftslage in Griechenland immer schlechter wird, leben fast 30 Prozent der Griechen unterhalb der Armutsgrenze. Internationale Hilfsorganisationen müssen helfen.

Tagesschau vom 26.02.2012
Deutscher Innenminister ist für einen Austritt Griechenlands aus Eurozone

Deutscher Innenminister ist für einen Austritt Griechenlands aus Eurozone

Tagesschau vom 26.02.2012
£46 Million EuroMillions Jackpot Claimed

THE INDEPENDENT: A lottery winner has claimed the £46.4 million EuroMillions jackpot but chosen to remain anonymous, Camelot said today.

Just one ticket matched all seven numbers on Friday to take the prize of £46,432,285.20.
The ticket-holder claims sixth place in the National Lottery Rich List.

The winning numbers were 03, 07, 12, 26 and 34 and the lucky stars were 08 and 10. » | Katie Hodge | Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Osborne: UK Has Run Out of Money

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: The Government 'has run out of money' and cannot afford debt-fuelled tax cuts or extra spending, George Osborne has admitted.

In a stark warning ahead of next month’s Budget, the Chancellor said there was little the Coalition could do to stimulate the economy.

Mr Osborne made it clear that due to the parlous state of the public finances the best hope for economic growth was to encourage businesses to flourish and hire more workers.

“The British Government has run out of money because all the money was spent in the good years,” the Chancellor said. “The money and the investment and the jobs need to come from the private sector.”

Mr Osborne’s bleak assessment echoes that of Liam Byrne, the former chief secretary to the Treasury, who bluntly joked that Labour had left Britain broke when he exited the Government in 2010.

He left David Laws, his successor, a one-line note saying: “Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money left”. » | Rowena Mason, Political Correspondent | Sunday, February 26, 2012

My comment:

Time to start taxing the Non-Doms then! They've got lots of dosh. In fact, they're awash with it, Mr. Osborne. They can help you out. Remember: "We're all in this together." – © Mark

This comment can also be found here and here.
German Cabinet Minister Calls for Greek Euro Exit

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Germany’s interior minister called for Greece to leave the eurozone on Saturday as hopes that the world’s richest countries would stump up more cash to help the International Monetary Fund (IMF) fight Europe’s debt crisis faded.

Becoming the first member of Germany’s cabinet to openly call for a Greek exit, Hans-Peter Friedrich told Der Spiegel magazine that Greece’s chances of restoring its financial health would be greater outside the euro.

“I’m not saying that Greece should be thrown out but rather to create incentives that it can’t say ‘no’ to,” he added.

His comments came as eurozone leaders faced calls to increase their own efforts before any more money is made available from the IMF. Fresh from agreeing a second €130bn (£110bn) bail-out for Greece, there were hopes that this weekend’s gathering of G20 finance ministers in Mexico City would achieve a deal on how to ramp up the IMF’s own European war chest by as much as $600bn (£378bn).

UK Treasury officials made it clear that any new deal with the IMF was now likely to be delayed until meetings in April. Eurozone leaders have been negotiating with the US, China and Japan to contribute more to the IMF to build a “financial firewall” that would shield the likes of the Spanish and Italian economies from any intensification of the region’s crisis this year. » | Richard Blackden, in Mexico City | Saturday, February 25, 2012
US Election 2012: Mitt Romney Presents His Economic Plan in Detroit

Ahead of the Michigan primary on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney presents his economic plan to business leaders at a rally at in Detroit, the epicenter of the US auto industry.

here | Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Why the Super-rich Love the UK

THE GUARDIAN: It's obviously not for the weather, so what is it about Britain that the obscenely wealthy find so attractive?

Here's something you definitely shouldn't do if you're even a tiny bit leftwing and suffer from high blood pressure: look at a document called the Forbes cost of living extremely well index. Forbes is an American business magazine, and it's cost of living extremely well index is an annual survey of price trends for things popular at the very, very top end of the income distribution. The riveting thing about the CLEWI isn't the headline attached, because that tends to be the same every year. The headline news is usually that very expensive things have gone up at a rate higher than the rate of inflation – often by as much as double. Common sense leads us not to be surprised at that, since people who don't care what stuff costs will logically not mind too much if the cost of that stuff goes up. What's gripping about the index – a basket of 40 goods and services targeting the super-rich – is the detail of what's on it.

In fact, that's always true for these indices. The fun is in the specifics. The UK Office for National Statistics publishes my favourite one. This measures inflation using a basket of goods in common use – a category that is constantly shifting, and at the moment includes mobile phone downloads, sparkling wine and long-sleeved cotton shirts. There is, in a wonky way, something moving about the close attention the resident stattos give to detailing the realities of ordinary lives; it's like a novel about British domestic life in 2012. Oven-ready joints of meat, for example, burst on to the index last year with this explanatory note: "Replaces pork shoulder joint reflecting a longer-term movement to prepared food and replacing an item which was sometimes difficult to collect since joints are sometimes only available towards the end of the week and on weekends." Someone has really thought hard about that. It's reassuring to contemplate a household that has managed to buy every single thing on the index, from hardback fiction to hair conditioner, from a provincial newspaper to women's high-heeled shoes to dried fruit (all those being new additions in 2011).

The super-rich index is made up of items that are, let's say, different. A Russian sable coat at $240,000, a facelift for $18,500, a thoroughbred yearling racehorse at $319,340, a Sikorsky helicopter at $14.8m, an arrangement of flowers changed weekly for six rooms at $98,100 or a year's tuition at Harvard at $56,652. It is, in a dark way, hilarious that a Harvard education counts as a luxury good. If all that starts getting too much, you can always decompress with a week at the Golden Door Spa in California, $6,750, or 45 minutes with an Upper East side shrink for $325. This, too, is like a novel, a novel about people whose lives are full of stuff you don't want to own and things you don't want to do. It's a novel, I find, that I don't particularly want to read. » | John Lanchester* | Friday, February 24, 2012

* John Lanchester's novel, Capital, is published on 1 March by Faber & Faber at £17.99. To order a copy for £14.39, including UK mainland p&p, visit the Guardian Bookshop.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Obama Tax Revamp Seeks 28% Corporate Rate

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: WASHINGTON—The Obama administration Wednesday proposed an overhaul of U.S. corporate taxes that would lower the maximum rate companies pay while eliminating scores of loopholes that allow businesses to reduce their payments.

The Treasury Department said the plan would overhaul the corporate-tax code, including lowering the top income-tax rate for corporations to 28% from 35%, cutting the effective tax rate even further for manufacturers, and eliminating popular deductions.

The plan also maintains or makes permanent some credits, such as for research and development and production of renewable electricity, which aims to encourage investment in wind and solar power.

"A key test of any reform should be whether the net impact of the changes improves the incentives for investing in the United States," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told reporters.
Mr. Geithner said the overhaul should be fiscally responsible though the plan doesn't specify the amount it would raise.

Democrats and Republicans both endorse changes to the current U.S. tax code but are at odds on details. It's unlikely the two sides will strike a deal in a heated election year, though the administration says it hopes to lay the foundation for an eventual revamp of the system. » | Jeffrey Sparshott and Siobhan Hughes | Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Italian Austerity Government Full of Millionaires

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Ministers in Italy's technocrat government, which is implementing drastic spending cuts in an effort to haul the country out of the economic doldrums, earn millions of euros a year, newly released documents show.

A website on which the ministers' assets and earnings were voluntarily divulged received so many hits that it temporarily crashed, as Italians rushed to see details of the new government's startling levels of personal wealth.

Ministers were revealed to own multiple properties, including ski chalets in the Dolomites and apartments in New York.

They zip around in Jaguars, Porsches and Mercedes and – in the case of the foreign minister – on a Harley Davidson motorbike.

Details of their wealth were published as a gesture of transparency, but their extensive wealth surprised Italians at a time when the country is being asked to swallow cuts to salaries, pensions and services.

Topping the rich list was Paola Severino, the justice minister, who earned more than seven million euros (£5.9 million) last year. Read on and comment » | Nick Squires, Rome | Wednesday, February 22, 2012
'Unprecedented' 12.76 Carat Pink Diamond Worth £7 million Mined

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: An "unprecedented" 12.76 carat pink diamond has been discovered in a remote mine in Western Australia – the biggest ever unearthed in the country.

The huge rough stone, found by the resources giant Rio Tinto at its Argyle mine in the Kimberley region, has been named the Argyle Pink Jubilee and is worth at least £7 million. The Argyle Pink Jubilee will be polished and cut in Perth over the next ten days and then sold later this year after being shown around the world. » | Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney | Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

UBS-Chefökonom: «Rettung ist illusorisch»

DRS 1: Die 130 Milliarden für Griechenland nützen primär den Banken. Am Bankrott führt kein Weg vorbei. Das sagt UBS-Chefökonom Andreas Höfert. Griechenland könne jetzt pleite gehen – die Banken seien abgesichert.

Die Griechenland-Rettung macht gemäss UBS-Chef-Ökonom Andreas Höfert keinen Sinn. Die griechische Tragödie werde dadurch nur verlängert, das Grundsatzproblem der Währungsunion auf die lange Bank geschoben. Im Tagesgespräch von Radio DRS hat Höfert erläutert, warum.

Wer bekommt das Geld?

Die 130 Milliarden, die Griechenland nun erhält, kommen in erster Linie den Banken zugute: 30 Milliarden Euro gehen an die Banken als Gegenleistung für den erhofften freiwilligen Schuldenschnitt.
50 Milliarden bräuchten die Banken, um den Schuldenschnitt überhaupt zu verkraften. Die restlichen 50 Milliarden werden verwendet, um die griechischen Schulden zu bedienen. » | DRS 1 | Schweiz | Dienstag, 21. Februar 2012
A Country in Decay: Greece's Youth Pay Bitter Price for the Wisdom of Their Elders

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Greek youths will be victims for years to come thanks to the austerity being demanded in return for a 130 billion euro bail-out being hammered out. David Blair reports from Athens.

The knot of 100 black-clad protesters strode out under an anarchist banner through the heart of Athens, their cry simple as it was stark: "bread, education, freedom!"[.]

But for all the sound and fury passers-by barely seemed to notice their fist-waving presence. Ordinary Greeks, wearied by their country's all-consuming crisis, have become inured to demonstrations and the chosen slogan of Monday's march seemed almost quaint.

Greeks are bitterly aware that "bread, education and freedom" will be an empty dream for years to come, thanks to the austerity demanded by Eurozone finance ministers in return for a euros 130 billion bail-out being hammered out.

Athenians now live in a city where physical decay mirrors social malaise: traffic lights have broken down across the capital, either because demonstrators have smashed them or the state, which is sacking thousands of personnel, no longer troubles to fix them. City thoroughfares are stained with graffiti, shops are boarded-up and Stadiou street, scene of the last big protests, is lined with the blackened shells of burnt-out buildings.

Meanwhile, a pack of stray dogs roams the street beside the Parthenon, snarling at passers-by and running in demented pursuit of motorcyclists.

Greece had endured five consecutive years of recession even before the looming onset of this new round of deflation. Unemployment for those aged under 25 already stands at 48 per cent, having risen by more than a third since November 2010. Perhaps most stark of all is a national suicide rate that has doubled from 2.8 per 100,000 people in 2008, to about 6 last year. » | David Blair, Athens | Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday, 20 February 2012

Google Allegedly Tracking Apple Safari Users

Google has come under fire after it was revealed its search engines were bypassing privacy settings on Apple's web browser for iPhones and computers. Jonathan Mayer, a Stanford University graduate student, said on Friday in a blog post that the US internet and software corporation was using a special code to monitor people's activities when they used Apple's Safari browser. Regulators are now threatening to take action against the company. Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher report from Washington.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Germany Drawing Up Plans for Greece to Leave the Euro

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Plans for Greece to default, potentially leaving the euro, have been drafted in Germany as the European Union begins to face up to the fact that Greek debt is spiralling out of control - with or without a second bailout.

The German finance ministry is actively pushing for Greece to declare itself bankrupt and to agree a "haircut" on the bulk of its debts held by banks, a move that would be classed as a default by financial markets.

Eurozone finance ministers meet on Monday to approve the next tranche of loans from the EU and the International Monetary Fund, designed to stave off national bankruptcy while the new Greek government puts the country's finances in order.

But the severe austerity measures being demanded have caused such fury in Greece, and the cuts required are so deep, that Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, does not believe that any government would be able to implement them.

His pessimism has been tipped into despair with a secret European Commission, Central and IMF report that even if Greece made good on its promises, it would not be enough to reach the target of bringing total debt to 120 per cent of GDP by 2020.

"He just thinks the Greeks cannot do what needs to be done. And even if by some miracle they did what has been promised, he - and a growing group - are convinced it will not pull Greece out the hole," said a eurozone official. » | Bruno Waterfield, Brussels | Saturday, February 18, 2012

Friday, 17 February 2012

Wall Street Hits Highs Not Seen for Four Years

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Stock markets on Wall Street on Friday hit highs not seen in nearly four years as hopes of a Greek rescue deal and improving US economic data brought out buyers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an intra-day high of 12,953.43, its highest level since May 2008, while at 1,363.40, the S&P was also close to levels not seen since before the financial crisis.

Having been rattled by Europe's debt confidence last year, Wall Street investors ended the week with hopes that European leaders will be able to seal a second bail-out for Greece on Monday.

Wall Street has enjoyed a strong start to the year, with the S&P up almost 10pc. The rally has been spurred by evidence the US economy may at last be gaining some momentum. » | Richard Blackden, US business editor | Friday, February 17, 2012
New York Penthouse Sells for $88m

BBC: A lavish New York penthouse with panoramic views of Central Park has become the most expensive apartment ever sold in the city.

Russian fertiliser magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev - said to be the world's 93rd richest man - spent $88m (£56m) buying the Central Park West pad.

It is thought to be for his 22-year-old daughter, Ekaterina Rybolovleva.

The 6,744 sq ft (627 sq m) apartment was sold by American Sandford Weill, a former head of banking giant Citigroup.

The penthouse stands atop 15 Central Park West, a landmark building designed by architect Robert Stern.

It boasts a custom-made oval bedroom, a library, gallery, chef's kitchen and a 2,100 sq ft (195 sq m) terrace running along three sides of the building. » | Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Ordinary Greeks Battle the Debt Crisis

As the economic crisis take hold of Greece, ordinary people struggle stress and anxiety as they go about their lives.

Greece Is Being Forced Out of Eurozone, Venizelos Claims

THE GUARDIAN: Greek finance minister says troika is shifting terms of €130bn bailout deal as part of move to force country out of eurozone

Greece rounded bitterly on its EU paymasters when the finance minister and socialist leader, Evangelos Venizelos, accused the eurozone of deliberately changing the terms of a proposed €130bn (£110bn) bailout because key players wanted to kick the country out of the single currency.

The charge that some eurozone countries were seeking to engineer a Greek sovereign default and exit from the euro deepened the rancour between debtor and creditors in the dangerous standoff. "There are many in the eurozone who don't want us any more," Venizelos declared at a meeting with President Karolos Papoulias. "We are constantly being given new terms and conditions."

Papoulias went even further, denouncing Germany and Greece's north European creditors after Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, said that Greece must not turn into a "bottomless pit" for eurozone bailout funds and that Europe was better prepared than when the crisis erupted two years ago to cope with a Greek sovereign default.

"Who is Mr Schäuble to ridicule Greece? Who are the Dutch? Who are the Finns?" declared the Greek head of state. "I don't accept insults to my country by Mr Schäuble." » | Ian Traynor and Larry Elliott | Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Credit Agency Warns British Government

Moody's slaps negative outlook on Britain's triple-A rating, saying eurozone crisis is intertwinned the country's fortunes.

Mervyn King: Helping Savers Would Push Britain Back into Recession

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The Governor of the Bank of England has ruled out help for savers hit by “negligible” returns on their savings, warning that moves to reward their prudence would tip the economy back into recession.

Sir Meryvn King also suggested that growing household savings rates are one reason for Britain’s recent poor economic performance.

He also warned that the UK economy is set to “zig-zag” between growth and contraction this year, partly because of an additional bank holiday for the Diamond Jubilee.

The Governor was speaking amid growing public and political unease about the impact of the Bank’s emergency measures – pumping £325 billion of new money into the economy and Bank rate at a historic low – on savers and pensioners.

Those policies have cut the returns on savings and annuities to record lows. Saga, a campaign group, estimates that more than 1 million pensioners have retired with permanently lower retirement incomes because of the impact of the Bank’s quantitative easing programme.

Savers have also been hit by high inflation, though the bank predicted that inflation will fall back to 1.8 per cent by the end of 2014, easing the recent squeeze on household budgets.

Sir Mervyn insisted he understood the problems facing savers, but made clear he believes he can do nothing to help. » | James Kirkup, Deputy Political Editor | Wednesday February 15, 2012

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Misery in Athens: 'New Poor' Grows from Greek Middle Class

SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERNATIONAL: Aid workers and soup kitchens in Athens are struggling to provide for the city's "new poor." Since the economic crisis has taken hold, poverty has taken hold among Greece's middle class. And suicide rates have nearly doubled.

If this crisis has reached Piraeus, then it's done a good job of hiding itself. Even on this cold February night, the luxury cars are lined up outside the chic, waterfront fish restaurants in this port suburb of Athens. But Leonidas Koutikas knows where to look. Not even 50 meters off the main promenade, around two corners, misery is everywhere. Koutikas finds a family of five living behind a tangled tent that has been attached to the wall of an apartment building.

Koutikas and his colleagues from the aid organization Klimaka are expected. They hand out their care packages here every night. "Each day the list of those in need gets longer," Koutikas says. He speaks from experience. Until recently, the 48-year-old was sleeping on the streets himself.

Athens has always had a problem with homelessness, like any other major city. But the financial and debt crises have led poverty to slowly but surely grow out of control here. In 2011, there were 20 percent more registered homeless people than the year before. Depending on the season, that number can be as high as 25,000. The soup kitchens in Athens are complaining of record demand, with 15 percent more people in need of free meals.

It's no longer just the "regulars" who are brought blankets and hot meals at night, says Effie Stamatogiannopoulou. She sits in the main offices of Klimaka, brooding over budgets and duty rosters. It was a long day, and like most of those in the over-heated room, the 46-year-old is keeping herself awake with coffee and cigarettes. She shows the day's balance sheet: 102 homeless reported to Klimaka today. » | Johannes Korge and Ferry Batzoglou | Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Moody's Issues Credit Warnings on Nine European Countries Including the UK

THE GUARDIAN: Negative outlook for Austria, France and the UK. Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia and Slovenia have ratings cut

Britain's AAA credit rating was thrown into doubt after the ratings agency Moody's said the ongoing euro crisis and a credit squeeze on the banking sector put the country at a higher risk of defaulting on its debts.

Moody's said that countries including the UK, France and Italy would be put on negative watch after citing "uncertainty" over Europe's handling of its ongoing debt crisis.

The possible loss of the UK's much coveted triple-A status will be a bitter blow for the chancellor George Osborne who has staked his reputation on distancing Britain from the ailing eurozone.

Riots and looting on the streets of Athens highlighted the confusion at the highest levels of the European political establishment over how to deal with the mounting debts faced by Greece. Brussels rejected handing over €130bn without further commitments from the Athens parliament and proposals for further cuts to be implemented this year.

Osborne was expected to stick to his aim of reducing Britain's "structural deficit" by 2017 when he stands up in parliament next month to deliver his third budget since the coalition took power in 2010.

But the verdict of Moody's will add to the pressure from opposition MPs and many economists on him to change course. Moody's said it was concerned that he would miss previous targets to cut the deficit by 2015.

The AAA rating is the highest awarded to a country and allows it to borrow at the lowest interest rates. » | Dominic Rushe and Phillip Inman | Monday, February 13, 2012

THE GUARDIAN: UK austerity v US stimulus: divide deepens as eurozone cuts continue: The emphasis in Europe is on fiscal rigour and slashed budgets, but there is a growing awareness such policies are not working » | Phillip Inman, Ian Traynor in Brussels and Dominic Rushe in New York | Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Moody's Puts Britain on Negative Credit Outlook

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Britain has been threatened with the loss of its AAA credit rating in the most serious challenge yet to the Coalition on the economy.

Moody’s, a ratings agency, last night said the outlook for the UK’s creditworthiness is now negative, warning that weak economic growth threatens Government plans to reduce the deficit.

The “high risk of further shocks” within the eurozone that would hit the UK could also cost Britain its AAA status, the agency said.

The agency’s analysis will electrify the political debate about economic policy, with Labour likely to argue that the Government’s policies are strangling economic growth. » | James Kirkup, Deputy Political Editor | Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, 13 February 2012

French Socialist Candidate François Hollande Attempts to Reassure The City

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: François Hollande, the French Socialist candidate in presidential election held out an olive branch to Britain yesterday, saying it should feel "part of Europe".

But the man most likely to be France's next President warned David Cameron that any attempt to create a "sanctuary" from regulation for the City of London was "not acceptable".

Mr Hollande will visit London on 29 February to speak to the Labour leader, Ed Milliband [sic], and perhaps the Prime Minister.

In a meeting with British and American journalists, he said: "We need a Great Britain that will take its place in Europe."

The polls place Mr Hollande way ahead of Nicolas Sarkozy, the incumbent conservative, who is expected to officially launch his re-election bid this week.

Mr Hollande sent ripples of alarm in the City last month by laying into "big finance", calling London's financial centre his "greatest adversary" in his first major campaign rally.

Yesterday, he warned that Britain could not expect to escape more financial regulation, despite Mr Cameron's decision not to sign the recent European fiscal pact.

"David Cameron's attempt to create a sanctuary from regulation for the City of London is not acceptable," he said. » | Henry Samuel in Paris | Monday, February 13, 2012
Liliane Bettencourt remplacée par son petit-fils chez L'Oréal

REUTERS FRANCE: PARIS - L'Oréal, numéro un mondial des cosmétiques, a annoncé lundi la fin du mandat d'administratrice de Liliane Bettencourt, remplacée au conseil d'administration par l'un de ses petit-fils, Jean-Victor Meyers. » | Gilles Guillaume | lundi 13 février 2012
Sparkurs für Obama im Wahljahr kein Thema

REUTERS DEUTSCHLAND: Washington (Reuters) - US-Präsident Barack Obama setzt trotz eines Schuldenbergs in Rekordhöhe auf massive zusätzliche Ausgaben zur Ankurbelung der Konjunktur.

Neun Monate vor der Präsidentenwahl stellte er am Montag einen Entwurf für das kommenden Haushaltsjahr vor, der vorsieht, 800 Milliarden Dollar in Maßnahmen zur Schaffung von Arbeitsplätzen und zum Ausbau der Infrastruktur zu stecken. Gleichzeitig sollen die Steuern für Millionäre auf mindestens 30 Prozent steigen.

Mit seinen Plänen beißt Obama bei der Opposition auf Granit. Die Republikaner haben bereits klar gemacht, dass der Entwurf gestorben ist, sobald er den Kongress erreicht. Sie kontrollieren das Repräsentantenhaus - und nicht der Präsident, sondern diese Kammer hat in Haushaltsfragen die Vorhand. » | Reuters | Montag, 13. Februar 2012

REUTERS FRANCE: Obama veut stimuler emploi et croissance avec le budget 2013 » | Alister Bell et Laura MacInnis, Jean-Philippe Lefief pour le service français, édité par Gilles Trequesser | lundi 13 février 2012

Related »
Obama Unveils Big Spending Election-year Budget

REUTERS: President Barack Obama called on Monday for aggressive spending to boost growth and for higher taxes on the rich, laying out an election-year vision for America in a budget that drew heavy fire from Republicans for failing to curb huge deficits.

Obama's 2013 spending proposal is expected to go nowhere in a divided Congress and is widely seen as more of a campaign document that frames his economic pitch to voters and seeks to shift the focus from deficits to economic growth.

It fleshed out a major theme of his re-election campaign - "economic fairness." He wants wealthier Americans to bear more of the burden of slashing a federal deficit that was a trillion plus dollars for a fourth year in a row.

The budget proposal is a "reflection of shared responsibilities," the Democratic president said at a campaign-style event in Annandale, Virginia, referring to his call for a minimum 30 percent tax on millionaires.

In one of his best opportunities before the November 6 election to convince voters that he deserves a second term, Obama called for more than $800 billion for job creation and infrastructure investment, including billions of dollars for roads, railways and schools.

He also set aside money to hire more teachers, police and firefighters and invest in manufacturing, while extending tax breaks to spur hiring.

"At a time when our economy is growing and creating jobs at a faster clip, we've got to do everything in our power to keep this recovery on track," Obama said.

He casts his Republican rivals as the party for the rich while Republicans want to paint Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal.

The budget projects deficits remaining high this year and next before starting to decline, meaning more borrowing that will add well over $7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. » | Alister Bull and Laura Macinnis | WASHINGTON | Monday, February 13, 2012
'All Final Salary Pension Schemes Will Close Under New EU Rules'

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: All of Britain's remaining final salary pension schemes will be forced to close if the EU brings in new rules designed to make their funding more secure, unions, employers and pension schemes have warned.

Many businesses could also be pushed into insolvency by European pension proposals, risking significant job losses, three industry bodies have warned.

In a letter to José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, ahead of EU directives due this week, the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) warned that the new rules would have a disastrous impact.

"By demanding dramatic increases in funding from employers, the commission's plans would – at best – force all remaining defined benefit schemes to close and – at worst – push many businesses into insolvency, leading to significant job losses," they wrote. Read on and comment » | Richard Evans | Monday, February 13, 2012

Saturday, 11 February 2012

'Mittelstand' Firms Powering German Success

The strength of its well-known global brands have been cited as a factor in Germany's economic stability, but low-profile firms that produce highly-engineered goods are also helping to aid the economy amid Europe's financial crisis. The mostly family-owned medium-sized companies, known as the Mittlestand, employ more than two-thirds of the country's workforce. Adding to the Mittelstand's success is Germany's veneration for trademark engineering, backed by an education system that offers more than 300 apprenticeships starting in high school, and creating a highly-skilled labour pool. Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer reports from southern Germany.

Spanish Government Approves Sweeping Labor Reforms

LOS ANGELES TIMES: REPORTING FROM MADRID -- Spain's new conservative government announced drastic changes to the country's labor system Friday, in some cases altering contract terms that have been untouched for 50 years, in a bid to bring down Europe's worst unemployment rate.

Under the new labor rules, companies doing business in Spain will be able to hire and fire workers more freely, negotiate pay independent of national contract mandates and score tax breaks for hiring people under the age of 30. Severance packages long deemed among the most generous in Europe will be cut by more than a quarter, from 45 days' pay for every year on the job to 33. Temporary workers -- a full third of the Spanish workforce -- will be entitled to permanent status, with better pay and benefits, after two years rather than the current three.

The Cabinet approved the measures by decree Friday, meaning they will go to lawmakers for a yes-or-no vote without the option of amendments. The ruling Popular Party holds a commanding majority in parliament, which likely will ensure quick passage.

Spain has Europe's highest jobless rate. Nearly one in four workers is unemployed; the figure tops 50% for people in their early 20s. » | Friday, February 10, 2012
Apple's iPhone Takes Big Bites Out of Wireless Carriers' Profits

LOS ANGELES TIMES: AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, which pay hefty subsidies on the iPhones their customers buy, have seen their earnings and stock prices drop since they began offering the Apple handsets.

The iPhone has been a huge hit for Apple Inc., helping send the company's stock to all-time highs and producing record-breaking profits.

But for AT&T Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc., it's breaking the bank.

The three wireless carriers all found themselves answering to Wall Street in recent weeks for posting depressed quarterly earnings, and analysts pointed to the heavy cost of offering the iPhone as a culprit.

The iPhone has become the single most popular smartphone in the U.S., and that has left the carriers trapped in a kind of Faustian deal: The more iPhones they sell, the more money they lose.

That's because they have to buy the phone from Apple before they can sell it to their customers for hundreds of dollars less. The carriers are betting that they'll make back the difference and more by signing up customers for two-year plans and collecting monthly fees.

But so far, the carriers are finding that the math isn't adding up. » | David Sarno, Los Angeles Times | Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday, 10 February 2012

L'Égypte face à une grave crise économique

LA PRESSE: La dégradation de l'économie égyptienne constitue, un an après la chute de Hosni Moubarak, une lourde menace pour la transition dans le pays le plus peuplé du monde arabe, estiment des économistes.

Avec un taux de croissance estimé autour de 1% à 2%, contre 5 à 7% autrefois, le gouvernement attend du Fonds monétaire international et d'autres bailleurs une aide jugée cruciale pour éviter une explosion sociale dans les prochains mois.

«Un an après la révolution, l'économie est dans un état anarchique, hors de contrôle», estime Salah Goda, directeur du Centre de recherches économiques du Caire.

Les recettes du secteur vital du tourisme ont accusé en 2011 une baisse de 30%, soit un manque à gagner de 4 milliards de dollars, selon des statistiques officielles, jugées par nombre d'opérateurs très en-deçà de la réalité.

Régulièrement dégradée par les agences de notation, l'Égypte ne fait plus rêver les investisseurs qui se bousculaient autrefois dans ce pays au marché intérieur de plus de 82 millions d'habitants.

Au coeur des inquiétudes, la fonte des réserves en devises de la banque centrale, qui ont diminué de plus de moitié, passant de 36 milliards de dollars en janvier 2011 à 16,3 milliards un an plus tard. » | Ibrahim AlSahary | Agence France-Presse | Le Caire, Égypte | vendredi 10 février 2012
Inside Story: Will Greece Default on Its Debts?

Greece [sic] workers are on strike as negotiations continue to finalise a deal for a new bailout. But time is fast running out. What are the risks of a default, and the possibility of bankruptcy? Guests: Ann Pettifor, George Kapopoulos and Matina Stevis

Gold Dances to a Greek Tune

US Foreclosures Go Sky High

The Bank of America Plaza skyscraper in the state of Georgia, the tallest building in the southern US, is just another lamb to the slaughter after it was auctioned off for about half the amount it was worth five years ago. Once the symbol of the area's booming commercial real-estate market, the tower now represents its widespread failure. After the housing bubble burst, millions of homes have been foreclosed in the country. President Barack Obama's programmes have not helped nearly the number of people he said they would, while Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, says the answer is to let the market bottom out. Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane reports from Washington.

Greece Austerity Deal Hits People Hard

Greece's political leaders have finally reached an agreement on further austerity cuts in order to get a second bailout package worth $170bn from EU and IMF to avoid a looming bankruptcy. EU finance ministers have been meeting in Brussels to discuss the details of the deal, while in Athens thousands of people have been gathering outside parliament against the deal. The deal includes cuts to pensions worth hundreds of millions of dollars, reduction of private-sector wages and termination of 150,000 public sector jobs by 2015. Greek unions have planned a 48-hour strike which is due to begin on Friday. Al Jazeera's John Psaropoulos reports from Athens.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Rösler plädiert für mehr Finanzmarktregulierung

REUTERS DEUTSCHLAND: Berlin (Reuters) - Bundeswirtschaftsminister Philipp Rösler hat eine weitere "kluge" Regulierung an den Finanzmärkten gefordert.

"Es gibt Bereiche, in denen gibt es nicht zu viele Regeln, sondern zu wenig Regeln", sagte Rösler am Dienstag in Berlin. Bei weiteren Schritten müsse es um mehr Transparenz und um fairen Wettbewerb gehen. Gefordert sei eine "kluge Finanzmarktregulierung" ohne Übertreibungen. Damit könne das Vertrauen in die Soziale Marktwirtschaft gestärkt werden. » | Reuters | Dienstag 07. Februar 2012

Monday, 6 February 2012

Steve Jobs' Advice to President Obama

Steve Jobs met with President Obama a few times and gave him ideas for how to generate jobs in the U.S., according to his biographer, Walter Isaacson. Jobs also told Isaacson that Obama needed a management style more like his own, which could be both mean and manipulative.

Steve Jobs the Boss: Defiance Has Its Rewards

Steve Jobs is infamous for being an abrasive and often abusive boss - determined to get his way. But for those at Apple who stood up to him, there could be a humorous payoff, his biographer Walter Isaacson tells Steve Kroft. Also: Jobs on driving.

Steve Jobs’ Secret Liver Transplant

In early 2009, Steve Jobs was "wasting away" in desperate need of a liver transplant, his biographer Walter Isaacson tells Steve Kroft. Jobs finally had the surgery in Memphis, and it was done in great secrecy - much like the development of a new Apple product.

60 Minutes: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was already gravely ill with cancer when he asked author Walter Isaacson to write his biography. Jobs told Isaacson to write a honest book - about his failings and his strengths. Steve Kroft reports.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Young People Battle Unemployment in France

With presidential elections in France less than three months away, unemployment is emerging as one of the key issues. The overall unemployment rate is nearly 10 per cent, the young are particularly hard hit with 1 in 4 people being out of work. A small job scheme is allowing youth get back into the work place and it is operated by donors and volunteers. Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland visited a project in the Paris suburbs aimed at helping people get back into the workplace.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Bank of England to Print Further £50 Billion

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Britain's weak economic recovery is expected to lead the Bank of England to print £50bn more money in the coming weeks.

The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee is set to announce on Thursday that it is expanding its Quantitative Easing programme from £275bn to £325bn.

Several members of MPC signalled at their January meeting that they would vote for a further round of QE this month.

City economists had thought the committee would approve a further £75bn of asset purchases this month, but services and manufacturing surveys have suggested that the economy performed slightly better than expected in the early weeks of this year. » | Robert Watts, Deputy Political Editor | Saturday, February 04, 2012
The Euro: To Be or Not to Be?

Friday, 3 February 2012

Last French Beret Factory Faces Closure

France boasts some of the most famous fashion houses in the world, but there are few items of clothing more synonymous with the country than the beret. However, the nation's last surviving factory that produces the item is now facing closure due to financial problems. With cheaper production costs, the iconic hat may in the future be made in Asia. Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reports from Oloron-Sainte-Marie, southwestern France.

Will Facebook Ever Enter China?

The Story Behind Australia's Richest Woman

Facebook IPO: Where Ambition Meets Paranoia

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Among the more colourful details of Facebook's 150-page S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission is a letter from founder Mark Zuckerberg setting out the social network's "mission".

In the letter, the 27-year-old Harvard University graduate grandly draws comparisons between Facebook and the invention of the printing press for changing the way the world communicates.

He also sheds light on an arguably tougher goal – to force a change in the behaviour and expectations of publicly listed companies. Mr Zuckerberg is nothing if not ambitious.

"We've always cared primarily about our social mission, the services we're building and the people who use them. This is a different approach for a public company to take," he wrote. "We don't wake up in the morning with the primary goal of making money."

It sounds like a nice philosophy – and a brave attempt to ward off the short-termism that inevitably comes with a life lived on the public market – but in Facebook's brave new world of quarterly reporting, corporate governance procedures and a real-time trial by share price, Mr Zuckerberg might be forced to rewrite his priorities. » | Katherine Rushton, Media, telecoms and technology editor | Thursday, February 02, 2012
Astonishing Rise of Facebook

Gold Will Rise Against 'Heavily Debased' Currencies

Troy Asset Management began buying gold at $450 an ounce in 2005 and now has 16pc of its £60m Troy Spectrum fund invested in the precious metal. Troy's co-manager Francis Brooke tells Robert Miller why he believes the value of gold will continue to rise.

Comment here | Thursday, February 02, 2012

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Inside Story: Is the American Dream Fading?

With more people living on the breadline in the United states, we ask how can prosperity be restored for the Americans. Inside Story US2012 discusses with guests: Tavis Smiley, Barbara Ehrenreich and Cornel West.

Fears that Western Sanctions on Iran Could Cripple Local Economy

THE GUARDIAN: Iran's dependency on oil means an embargo, if fully implemented, has potential to bring the economy to its knees

Western sanctions on Iran are compounding the country's economic woes, sending the national currency tailspinning, making dollars hard to come by and forcing ordinary citizens to rush to stockpile staples.

Iranian officials have in the past been quick to play down the impact of the raft of sanctions imposed on Tehran because of its nuclear programme, arguing they have in fact made the regime "self-sufficient" in many areas.

But the latest US and EU embargo on the imports of oil from Iran introduced in the past five weeks has left the leadership little choice but to admit the severity of the problem. In a recent speech at the Iranian parliament, president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the embargo "the heaviest economic onslaught on a nation in history".

Iran relies on crude sales for 80% of its exports revenue and also providing most of the foreign currency in the country. The full impact of the embargo is likely to be felt in summer when the new sanctions kick in properly, but evidence of knock-on effects through the Iranian economy are multiplying. The initial impact was felt on the local currency market where a shortage of foreign exchange caused a looming crisis. As a result, the value of Iran's rial against the dollar has fallen to a record low, even experiencing devaluation of more than 50%. » | Saeed Kamali Dehghan | Wednesday, February 01, 2012
Bundesbank Sinks Deeper into Debt Saving Europe

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Germany's Bundesbank has entirely exhausted its stock of private assets and run up a quarter of a trillion euros in liabilities propping up the eurozone system, testing the political limits of EMU solidarity in Germany.

The operations are part of the European Central Bank's 'TARGET2' network of automatic payments between the national central banks of the Euroland club. The Bundesbank has already provided €496bn (£413bn) to countries in trouble, chiefly Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain.

"This is reaching the danger point. It is already one and a half times the total budget of the German government," said Professor Frank Westermann of Osnabrück University. "If any of the crisis countries exits the euro or if there is an EMU break-up, the Bundesbank bears extreme risks."

The Bundesbank - the dominant body in the euro system - used to keep a stock of €270bn of private securities (refinance credit) before the start of the financial crisis. This was depleted last year as it sold assets to meet growing demands on the TARGET2 scheme.

Once the debt drama began to engulf the bigger economies, the Bundesbank was forced to borrow money to meet its obligations to offset capital flight, since it refused to sell its stash of gold. It now owes €228bn to German banks. Read on and comment » | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor | Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Facebook Files for an I.P.O.

THE NEW YORK TIMES – DealB%k: It sure pays to have friends.

Facebook, the vast online social network, took its first step toward becoming a publicly traded company on Wednesday as it filed to sell shares on the stock market. The service, hatched in a Harvard dormitory room nearly eight years ago, is on track to be the largest Internet initial public offering ever — trumpingGoogle’s in 2004 or Netscape’s nearly a decade before that.

In its filing, Facebook, which has more than 845 million users worldwide, said it was seeking to raise $5 billion, according to a figure used to calculate the registration fee. The company will seek to have the ticker “FB” for its shares, but did not list an exchange.

But many close to the company say that Facebook is aiming for a far greater offering that could value it as high as $75 billion to $100 billion. At that lofty valuation, Facebook would be much bigger than many longer-established American companies, including Abbott Laboratories, Caterpillar, Kraft Foods, Goldman Sachs and Ford Motor. » | Evelyn M. Rusli | Wednesday, February 01, 2012
République de la Malbouffe

TrailerMalbouffe by rebusparis

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: French chef takes on country's rise in junk food: A leading French chef has warned that 70 per cent of the country's restaurant food is now 'industrial fodder' as he launched a Jamie Oliver-style crusade against junk food. ¶ Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurants are a fig leaf that hide an army of French eateries, including more and more chains, that sell poor-quality, often factory-produced food more often than not touted as "fait maison" – home-made. ¶ That is according to Xavier Denamur, 48, the self-styled white knight of wholesome, traceable, French food prepared in-house and supposedly the country's trademark. ¶ Mr Denamur is the iconoclastic star of République de [la] Malbouffe (Republic of Crap Food), a documentary released on Wednesday directed by Jacques Goldstein, which claims to investigate the "smokes and mirrors behind … a state with lobbyists but no parliament, with restaurants but no chefs, with farmers but no fresh food. A noxious regime whose motto could be opacity, precarity, obesity." ¶ The film squarely blames falling gastronomic standards in restaurant kitchens on President Nicolas Sarkozy's move to cut restaurant sales tax from 19.6 per cent to 5.5 per cent. ¶ Mr Denamur is filmed berating Christine Lagarde, the former French finance minster and now head of the International Monetary Fund, for playing into the hands of fast food chains and powerful food industry lobbies. » | Henry Samuel. Paris | Wednesday, January 01, 2012
UK's 'Welfare State' Facing Cuts Squeeze

People with disabilities dependent on state benefits fear proposed cuts could push them further into destitution.

Barack Obama: I Needed a Mustang in High School

President Barack Obama hopes to ride to re-election after getting behind the wheel some of America's "classic" cars at the Washington Auto Show.

Is Detroit America’s Economic Future?

US Home Prices Drop Amid Weak Demand

BBC: US home prices dropped more than expected in November, continuing the market's slide in an index of 20 metropolitan areas.

Prices for single-family homes declined 0.7%, instead of the 0.5% forecasted by economists.

Home prices are on average at similar levels to 2003, amid a large supply of houses with weak demand.

Consumer confidence also slipped in January, after two straight months of gains in confidence in the US economy. » | Tuesday, January 31, 2012