Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Billiges Öl zwingt Saudiarabien zum Sparen

Weil die Ölpreise drastisch gesunken sind, erwartet das saudische Königshaus ein Milliardendefizit - und hat deshalb drastische Sparmassnahmen angekündigt. Im Zentrum steht ein Subventionsabbau auf Strom, Wasser und Treibstoff. Zudem soll die Wirtschaft reformiert werden. Das Gespräch mit dem Saudiarabien-Kenner Tobi Matthiesen.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Dutch City Plans to Pay All Citizens a ‘Basic Income’, and Greens Say It Could Work in the UK

THE GUARDIAN: Utrecht takes step towards paying people a salary whether they work or not

It’s an idea whose adherents over the centuries have ranged from socialists to libertarians to far-right mavericks. It was first proposed by Thomas Paine in his 1797 pamphlet, Agrarian Justice, as a system in which at the “age of majority” everyone would receive an equal capital grant, a “basic income” handed over by the state to each and all, no questions asked, to do with what they wanted.

It might be thought that, in these austere times, no idea could be more politically toxic: literally, a policy of the state handing over something for nothing. But in Utrecht, one of the largest cities in the Netherlands, and 19 other Dutch municipalities, a tentative step towards realising the dream of many a marginal and disappointed political theorist is being made. » | Daniel Boffey in Utrecht | Saturday, December 26, 2015

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël ! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Buon Natale! Felix Nativitas! Nadolig Llawen!

'We Three Kings', an original collage by James C. Christensen.
Courtesy of Google Images

Louis-Claude Daquin: Noël X

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Hark the Herald Angel Sing - St.Paul's Cathedral - London (UK)

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis,
Laudamus te, benedicimus te,
adoramus te.
Glorificamus te. Gratias agimus tibi,
propter magnam gloriam tua.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Inequality: Richest One Per Cent 'Have as Much Wealth as the Poorest 57 Per Cent Combined'

THE INDEPENDENT: The full extent of the banking industry’s influence over the Chancellor has been revealed

The economic disparities of modern Britain have been put on stark display, as official statistics revealed that the nation’s already-yawning wealth gap has widened still further over the past two years.

The richest 1 per cent of the population have as much wealth as the poorest 57 per cent combined, according to Office for National Statistics figures. The agency also found overall wealth inequality has increased since 2012, mainly thanks to the soaring price of housing in the South-east of England and London. » | Ben Chu, Economics Editor | Friday, December 18, 2015

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Federal Reserve Announces First Rise in US Interest Rates Since 2006

Fed chair Janet Yellen signalled to Congress earlier this month
that the US economy was strong enough for the Fed to raise rates.
THE GUARDIAN: US central bank signals end to seven years of a monetary policy that began amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates on Wednesday, ending an extraordinary period of government intervention in the financial markets that started at the height of the recession.

After holding its benchmark federal-funds rate near zero for seven years, the Fed increased rates a quarter-percentage point. The move signals the end of a monetary policy that began amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

In a statement the Fed said economic activity had been “expanding at a moderate pace. Household spending and business fixed investment have been increasing at solid rates in recent months, and the housing sector has improved further.”

Given the economic outlook, and “recognizing the time it takes for policy actions to affect future economic outcomes,” the Fed decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate a quarter point, the first such rise in close to a decade.

The central bank signalled more increases to come “with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy” and argued that “economic activity will continue to expand at a moderate pace and labor market indicators will continue to strengthen.” » | Dominic Rushe in New York and Jana Kasperkevic in Washington | Wednesday, December 16, 2015

US Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rates for First Time Since 2006

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

'Saudis Playing Dangerous Game As Oil Prices Plunge'

The Russian economy, which is heavily reliant on oil prices, is bearing the brunt of the low oil prices. For more on the falling oil and what it means for the Russian and Saudi economies – RT is joined by Michael Klare, an expert on natural resources, and author of 'Resource Wars, Blood and Oil'

Friday, 11 December 2015

Russia Plans $40 a Barrel Oil for Next Seven Years as Saudi Showdown Intensifies

THE TELEGRAPH: 'We will live in a different reality,' said a top Kremlin official. The message is aimed squarely at Saudi Arabia in a war for market share

Russia is battening down the hatches for a Biblical collapse in oil revenues, warning that crude prices could stay as low as $40 a barrel for another seven years.

Maxim Oreshkin, the deputy finance minister, said the country is drawing up plans based on a price band fluctuating between $40 to $60 as far out as 2022, a scenario that would have devastating implications for Opec.

It would also spell disaster for the North Sea producers, Brazil’s off-shore projects, and heavily indebted Western producers. “We will live in a different reality,” he told a breakfast forum hosted by Russian newspaper Vedomosti.

The cold blast from Moscow came as US crude plunged to $35.56, pummelled by continuing fall-out from the acrimonious Organisaton of Petrol Exporting Countries meeting last week. Record short positions by hedge funds have amplified the effect.

Bank of America said there was now the risk of “full-blown price war” within Opec itself as Saudi Arabia and Iran fight out a bitter strategic rivalry through the oil market. » | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Friday, December 11, 2015

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Gulf States to Start Taxing People to Make Up for Oil Revenue Losses

People in the oil-rich Gulf monarchies have enjoyed lavish welfare and near-zero taxes for decades. But with the collapse of oil prices, governments no longer seem able to afford that.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Cadbury Owner Paid No UK Corporation Tax Last Year

THE GUARDIAN: Mondelez was able to pay no UK corporation tax as a result of a Channel Islands-based bond, despite Cadbury making £96.5m profit in 2014

Mondelez, which owns Cadbury, is facing controversy over its tax arrangements after it was reported that it had not paid UK corporation tax last year.

An investigation by the Sunday Times found the company was wiping out Cadbury’s bills using interest payments on an unsecured debt, which is listed as a bond on the Channel Islands’ stock exchange. The interest paid on the loan can be offset as a loss against gains made elsewhere in the company.

The arrangement, which is legal, meant Mondelez was able to pay no UK corporation tax despite accounts showing that Cadbury UK, its subsidiary, made profits of £96.5m in 2014 and £83.6m in 2013.

Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Commons all-party group on responsible tax, told the Sunday Times: “Multinationals like this are deliberately exporting their profits with artificial company structures to avoid tax. The founders of Cadbury who set it up as an ethical company will be turning in their graves.” » | Hilary Osborne | Sunday, December 6, 2015

Finland Is Considering Giving Every Citizen €800 a Month

Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä
THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: Proposals for a national basic income are intended to simplify the social security system and encourage more unemployed people to take on temporary work

Authorities in Finland are considering giving every citizen a tax-free payout of €800 (£576) each month.

Under proposals being draw up by the Finnish Social Insurance Institution (Kela), this national basic income would replace all other benefit payments, and would be paid to all adults regardless of whether or not they receive any other income.

Unemployment in Finland is currently at record levels, and the basic income is intended to encourage more people back to work. At present, many unemployed people would be worse off if they took on low-paid temporary jobs due to loss of welfare payments. » | Adam Boult | Sunday, December 6, 2015