Thursday, 28 February 2013

One Year's Salary : Europe Caps Banker Bonuses

SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERNATIONAL: In a bid to address widespread public outrage over greed in the financial sector, European officials have agreed to legislation capping bankers' bonuses at a maximum of a year's salary. Great Britain fought to prevent the measure, but failed to rally enough support.

Starting in 2014, banks in the European Union must limit bonus payments for their employees. After some 10 months of tough negotiations, top European officials agreed late on Wednesday in Brussels to cap bonuses at a maximum of one year's base salary.

"For the first time in the history of EU financial market regulation, we will cap bankers' bonuses," said the European Parliament's head negotiator, Austria's Othmar Karas, in a statement. "The essence is that from 2014, European banks will have to set aside more money to be more stable and concentrate on their core business, namely financing the real economy, that of small and medium-sized enterprises and jobs."

The bonus cap was part of a package of financial laws hammered out between EU officials, the European Commission and representatives of the 27 member states in negotiations led by Ireland's Finance Minister Michael Noonan. The goal is to prevent bankers from taking excessive risks, which can shake the financial industry.

"This overhaul of EU banking rules will make sure that banks in the future have enough capital, both in terms of quality and quantity, to withstand shocks," Noonan said. "This will ensure that taxpayers across Europe are protected into the future." Fierce Resistance from London » | kla -- with wire reports | Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Breaking News! Bank of England's Paul Tucker Backs Negative Rates Idea

BBC: Bank of England deputy governor Paul Tucker has said negative interest rates should be considered.

The Bank rate has been at a record low of 0.5% for almost four years.

A negative interest rate would mean the central bank charges banks to hold their money and could encourage them to lend out more of their funds.

Speaking to MPs on the Treasury Committee, Mr Tucker said: "This would be an extraordinary thing to do and it needs to be thought through carefully."

He said it was an idea he had raised as one of the possible alternative ideas to boost the economy.

"We will be thinking about whether there are any constraints on setting negative interest rates," Mr Tucker told MPs.

With interest rates at a record low, there is little scope for central banks to use conventional means to stimulate the UK's weak economy, which has dipped in and out of recession since the 2008 financial crisis. » | Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday, 25 February 2013

Pound Falls to Two-year Low as Currency Markets Lose Faith in UK Economy

THE GUARDIAN: Sterling down to $1.51 as investors digest loss of AAA credit rating and increasingly gloomy economic outlook

Sterling fell to a two-year low on Monday as currency markets signalled their waning confidence in the UK economy's ability to exit the longest depression in 80 years.

The pound, which has tumbled by 8% in recent weeks, fell to $1.51 as investors digested the loss of Britain's AAA credit status and the increasingly gloomy economic outlook from independent forecasters. As recently as December it was trading at $1.63.

The ratings agency Moody's, which downgraded the UK to the lower AA1, joined many analysts in predicting that the economy will be held back by a longer than expected period of low growth and bigger debt mountain. » | Phillip Inman, economics correspondent | Monday, February 25, 2013

Paper Money Kaputt? Gold Rush On Rise as Europe Crisis Deepens

It used to be the main exchange currency in Europe, but soon after WW1 governments ditched it. Now, amid turbulent financial times and economic woes, gold is fashionable once more, as RT's Peter Oliver explains.

Italy: Turning Economic Fortunes?

As Italians vote, we ask who do they trust to take on the financial crisis in Europe's third-largest economy.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Spanish PM Says Economy Is On The Road To Recovery

Spain's prime minister has promised that he will not rest until the economy has turned around. In his annual state of the nation address, Mariano Rajoy claimed Spain's finances are on the road to recovery. Al Jazeera's Rory Challands reports.

Thousands Rally Against Austerity in Greece

Tens of thousands of Greeks have taken to the streets as part of a nationwide strike against government austerity measures

Europa: Eine Reise durch Italien mit Etta Scollo

Monday, 18 February 2013

Pound Continues to Weaken against Dollar and Euro

BBC: Sterling has continued to weaken against the dollar and the euro on continued worries about the health of the UK economy.

Against the dollar, sterling fell to a seven-month low, and against the euro it was nearing a 15-month low.

The falls came after Bank of England policymaker Martin Weale said that sterling may need to weaken further to bolster the UK economy.

Currency speculators are also betting that sterling will fall, data shows.

Sterling fell 0.5% to $1.543, its lowest since 13 July, 2012. The euro was up 0.3% against sterling, making a euro worth 86.3 pence.

The pound has been weakening this year following some disappointing economic data and worries that the UK may lose is triple-A credit rating.

In a speech on Saturday Mr Weale said the currency may need to weaken further, helping to make exports cheaper and boost growth. » | Monday, February 18, 2013

Saturday, 16 February 2013

American Way: Barack Obama Ducked the Chance to Tackle America's Financial Death-spiral

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: When Barack Obama won a second term in office last November a tiny, guttering flame of hope was observed in the breasts of many hard-pressed Americans who wanted common sense to prevail in Washington.

That hope centred not on any naive expectation that Democrats and Republicans would suddenly learn to love each other, but that Mr Obama, freed from having to run for office again and in search of a personal legacy for his presidency, might start to show some leadership.

Last week, sad to report, those hopes flickered and died when Mr Obama delivered a State of the Union address that showed he has absolutely no intention of getting serious about arresting America's long-term financial death-spiral.

This was an infuriatingly dishonest speech. Mr Obama spelled out very clearly America's impending demographic crunch – too many baby-boomers, not enough money to pay for their benefits – but then falsely pretended the problem could be solved by tinkering around the edges.

"Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms," he allowed, warning that failure to fix America's unsustainable entitlement system would "crowd out the investments we need for our children, and jeopardise the promise of a secure retirement for future generations."

All true, except for that one word, "modest". There is nothing modest about the size of America's financial problems, as Doug Elmendorf, the director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, explained last week when he was up on Capitol Hill spelling out budgetary home truths. » | Peter Foster, Washington | Saturday, February 16, 2013

Friday, 15 February 2013

Britain’s Secret Shoppers

Watch the Channel 4 programme here

Thursday, 7 February 2013

An Inside Look at Work on New Alps Tunnel

BBC: Key infrastructure projects are on the agenda at this week's gathering of Europe's leaders.

One of the most ambitious and controversial is a tunnel beneath the Alps.

Linking Lyon with Turin, it is set to become the longest rail tunnel in the world.

Work has begun on the Italian side, and the BBC's correspondent Christian Fraser has been one of the first to see it. Watch BBC video » | Thursday, February 07, 2013

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Knights of Malta to Open Soup Kitchens in Britain

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: They were once warrior monks who tended to fallen crusaders and sick Christian pilgrims amid the burning desert scrub of the Holy Land.

But nearly 1,000 years later, the Knights of Malta, once known as the Hospitallers, are opening soup kitchens and shelters across Britain and the rest of Europe in response to rising poverty and homelessness caused by the economic crisis.

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta – as the chivalric order is officially known – is this week celebrating 900 years since it was given official recognition by the Vatican, with a 'bull' or decree issued by Pope Paschal II in 1113, in the midst of the crusades.

The order's 98,000 members and volunteers, who long ago swapped their chain mail and tunics for doctor's coats and emergency worker overalls.

They have traditionally provided humanitarian help in war zones, earthquakes and floods around the world, from Congo and Rwanda to Haiti and Afghanistan.

But they are now concentrating more and more on Europe, as austerity cuts and a deep recession swell the ranks of the jobless, the homeless and the drug-dependant. » | Nick Squires, Rome | Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Monday, 4 February 2013

Australia: Visa Change Helps Foreign Buyers Target Trophy Homes

Read the article here
Les fermetures d'usines s'accélèrent en France

LE FIGARO: En 2012, plus de 200 sites ont fermé leurs portes, soit 42% de plus qu'en 2011. Le secteur manufacturier a particulièrement souffert, avec près de 24.000 postes supprimés. Cette année s'annonce tout aussi noire.

«L'économie française s'installe dans une tendance dépressive». Voilà le constat dressé par l'Observatoire de l'emploi et de l'investissement Trendeo. Dans sonétude sur l'année 2012, celui-ci dénombre 266 fermetures d'usines contre 166 créations. Sur un an, le rythme de fermeture s'est accéléré, bondissant de 42%. L'économie se rapproche de sa pire performance enregistrée en 2009, au plus dur de la crise (379 fermetures). Le bilan est alarmant: en trois ans, la France a perdu 1087 usines. «Ce délitement du tissu industriel s'opère à bas bruit: au-delà des sinistres les plus spectaculaires, la taille moyenne des sites fermés est de 71 salariés. La taille moyenne des sites créés est de 65 salariés», note l'étude. » | Par Hayat Gazzane | lundi 04 février 2013
Mister Taxman: Why Some Americans Working Abroad Are Ditching Their Citizenships

TIME: Why is Tina Turner switching from American to Swiss citizenship? The legendary singer, a longtime Zurich resident, told the Blick newspaper that she has been very happy in Switzerland and “can’t imagine a better place to live.” But some observers believe she may be one of thousands of American expatriates who have taken the drastic and irrevocable step of giving up their citizenship because of what they consider to be the unjust and discriminatory taxation practices of their government.

While Turner has indicated nothing other than a practical decision behind the switch, it comes at a time when American expats all over the world are turning in their passports in record numbers to avoid double taxation and other financial burdens imposed on them by Uncle Sam. According to government figures, nearly 1,800 Americans relinquished their passports in 2011, a process that requires a special application and a $450 exit fee. True, that number is just a drop in the bucket, considering that an estimated 6 million U.S. citizens live abroad. But the numbers are growing dramatically — a sevenfold increase since 2008, and that is not counting thousands of applications waiting to be processed in U.S. consulates and embassies around the world.

The U.S. is the world’s only industrialized nation that taxes citizens who live overseas, even if their income is generated in a foreign country and they never return to America. And while high-profile cases like that of Turner or that of Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin (who renounced his American citizenship last year to become a resident of Singapore) catch public attention, the vast majority of expatriates affected by double taxation and increasingly draconian filing rules are middle-class or retired, or those who have never lived or worked in the U.S. at all but were born to American parents overseas.

Even though expatriates can claim a $97,000 exclusion on their U.S. taxes, most Americans who work in high-cost nations earn salaries far exceeding this amount, for which they already pay hefty income taxes in their countries of residence. » | Helena Bachman | Thursday, January 31, 2013

TIME: Taxes: Renouncing Your Citizenship to Stick It to the Tax Man? Not as Easy as it Looks » | David Futrelle | Friday, June 22, 2012
Alexis Tsipras: Frontline of a Financial War

The leader of the Greek opposition on how his country has become a "debt colony" forced to follow "criminal" policies.

Swiss Tax Haven Is Over

RT.COM: Switzerland will now assist international tax authorities in disclosing information on bank accounts held by foreigners who avoid taxation at home.

Joint efforts by the EU, the US and number of other countries have led to Switzerland introducing new banking laws on February 1. The new regulation now allows foreign tax services to send group requests for bank account information of their citizens. Banks, nominal account holders, agents or trust managers will now be obliged to provide the information. » | Friday, February 01, 2013