Thursday 25 September 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, September 25, 2014 with No comments | Labels:

Bank of England deputy asks US to fine banks less
The deputy governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, said: “I am trying to build capital in firms and it’s draining out the other side (in fines and penalties).” Bailey has called for better co-operation with US regulators over the scale of fines being levied on banks to ensure they do not weaken their financial position. Regulators in the US levy largr penalties than their UK counterparts, which on Tuesday fined Barclays £38m for failing to keep its clients’ money separate from the bank’s own assets – a record for that offence. When Barclays was fined £290m for rigging Libor in 2012, just £87.5m was levied by the UK regulator. Since then, HSBC has been fined £1.2bn for breaching money laundering rules in the US while French bank BNP Paribas has been fined £5bn for dealing with countries that were subject to sanctions. GUARDIAN

George Osborne left with little room for pre-election giveaways as government plunges deeper into the red
The Office for National Statistics said the public sector borrowed £11.6billion in August - up 6.1 per cent or £700million compared with the same month last year. It means the government has borrowed £45.4billion in the first five months of the fiscal year - some £2.6billion or 6.2 per cent more than between April and August last year. Analysts warned that the Chancellor will now struggle to hit his target of reducing the annual deficit to £95.5billion this year from around £100billion last year and the record £153billion racked up by Labour in 2009-10. The national debt hit £1.43trillion last month - a staggering £57,000 per household in Britain - despite four years of austerity. The parlous state of the public finances underlines the scale of the task facing whoever is in power after the general election in May. Adam Kirby, director of campaign group Balance the Books, said: ‘Miniscule in the shadow of debt, all our politicians are standing terrified. 'Progress is even slower than the worst pessimists of 2010 might have imagined. And as we approach a new election in 2015 there is little sign of the fundamental reform that’s needed to turn things around permanently - the deficit is still worsening.’ DAILY MAIL

Obama announces US crackdown on corporate inversion tax 'loophole'
“Inversions” involve a US firm merging with a firm in a country with a lower tax rate and have become popular over recent years. But President Barack Obama said new treasury department measures would make inversions less attractive. Those include making it more difficult for an inverted company to access money made outside the US. One way inverted companies do that is by making loans between foreign units and the US business. The benefits of so called hopscotch loans will be removed, according to today's announcement from the US Department of the Treasury. The treasury department is also strengthening the requirement that the US owners of the new inverted firm have to own less than 80% of the new entity. It says that will mean some inversion deals "no longer make economic sense". "We've recently seen a few large corporations announce plans to exploit this loophole, undercutting businesses that act responsibly and leaving the middle class to pay the bill, and I'm glad that [Treasury Secretary Jack Lew] is exploring additional actions to help reverse this trend," the president said in a statement. In a recent inversion deal, Burger King bought Canadian coffee and doughnut chain, Tim Hortons. Under the deal the new group moved its headquarters to Ontario, Canada, where the corporate tax rate is 26.5% - much less than the US rate of 35%. BBC NEWS

New borrowing through personal loans has outstripped repayments every month this year
Such a consistent rise in this type of borrowing has not been seen since 2007, the British Bankers' Association (BBA) said. The monthly data from the BBA shows that there was £175m in net borrowing in personal loans in August and £346m in net borrowing through credit cards. "I was particularly struck that after years of decline, demand for unsecured personal loans is rising quite strongly again," said David Dooks, statistics director at the BBA. "Those products are often used to finance bigger purchases such as cars or major home improvements - the sort of spending we often put off until we feel confident about our financial circumstances… When customers feel more optimistic about the economic outlook they are much more likely to take on new borrowing." However, the reverse is true for overdrafts, with more money (£286m in August ) repaid than taken out. The figures also show that the amount of new mortgage lending was 15% higher than a year earlier in August, with the number of mortgage approvals for house purchases up 5% year-on-year. But the BBA said this activity in the mortgage market was moderating compared with earlier in the year. BBC NEWS

Rents rising faster than inflation
The cost of renting a home in England and Wales rose faster than inflation in the year to August, climbing 2.4%, according to a survey. Rents were up by 1.1% last month compared with July, leaving the average rent at £761 a month, said the survey by LSL Property Services. The figures, based on LSL's own data, suggested seven out of 10 regions had seen rent rises over the year. This was led by a 3.5% increase in the south-west of England. The south-east of England saw rents rise by 3.4% compared with a year ago, and there was a 3.3% rise in the north-west of England, LSL said. Campbell Robb, chief executive of charity Shelter, said: "Successive governments' failure to build enough affordable homes and soaring house prices are leaving more and more families with no choice but to live their lives in expensive and unstable rented homes, never certain of what the future holds." Rents were lower in August compared with a year ago in the North East (down 1.6%), the West Midlands (down 0.4%), and Wales (down 0.1%), LSL said. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, published in July, said private rental prices paid by tenants in Britain rose by 1% in the 12 months to June. BBC NEWS

Energy bills are higher on dual-fuel deals
Price-comparison website, Make It Cheaper, compared households in all the different distribution regions used by energy companies. It found that in every case a household would be better off switching to one supplier for their gas and another for their electricity rather than taking both from one supplier. The savings averaged out at £55 a year per household, but in some areas are significantly higher. The cheapest dual-fuel deal for customers in the South Western Electricity Board region, for example, costs £1,053 a year but by switching to two separate suppliers householders in that region would pay £77 less, at £976 a year. The figures are based on the data Ofgem uses for the typical annual electricity and gas consumption of a household at 3,200kWh and 13,500kWh of gas respectively. Historically, householders have been better off opting for a dual-fuel deal, as the discount suppliers have given to customers for buying this way has usually made it cheaper than buying gas and electricity separately. However, the situation changed around five months ago, according to Make It Cheaper, when single-fuel deals became, on average, around 3% cheaper. The saving has increased since then to as much as 7.4% in some cases. This saving won’t be obvious to anyone looking on a price-comparison site, which, unless you specifically ask for the results for one type of energy, will present you with a dual-fuel saving. Instead, you need to click on what are, usually, tabs next to the dual-fuel result labelled “gas only” and “electricity only”. You then need to compare the results from both of these with the dual-fuel saving. The cheapest single and dual-fuel deals in nearly every case we looked at came from newcomers Extra Energy, Daligas and Zog Energy. The latter two entered the UK market last year, while Extra Energy, which currently leads the way on pricing, started in early 2014. Anyone looking to switch to one of these newer suppliers might sacrifice customer service for price, however. GUARDIAN

Google may face $6bn EU anti-trust fine
Google could face a “statement of objections”, the formal path towards a fine that could equate to 10% of the company’s global revenue, or about $6bn (£3.7bn). “Microsoft was investigated [by the EC] for 16 years, which is four times as much as the Google investigation has taken, and there are more problems with Google than there were with Microsoft,” said Joaquín Almunia, the EC’s competition commissioner. Google controls more than 90% of the online search market in Europe, substantially more than in the US where it was cleared by the US federal trade commission (FTC) in January 2013 of favouring its own searches to the detriment of consumers. The FTC said that any such favouring helped users. But companies including European publishers, a telecoms firm, an association of picture industries and photo libraries, and an advertising platform, had complained about Google taking advantage of its dominance to promote YouTube and the Google+ network. GUARDIAN

Watchdog clamps down on anti-competitive comparison websites in bid to cut drivers' premiums, but insurers say measures don't go far enough
The Competition and Markets Authority announced it will ban agreements between price comparison websites and insurers that prevent those insurers from selling their products more cheaply on rival sites. The measures are expected to shave around £20 off the cost of a typical policy. As part of its investigation, the watchdog also recommended the Financial Conduct Authority look at how insurers inform their customers about other products sold as 'add-ons'. It said the limited provision of information over add-on products makes it hard for motorists to compare the costs and benefits, with the sale of no-claims bonus protection 'giving rise to particular concerns'. But while these measures were largely welcomed by the motor insurance industry, many expressed disappointment at the CMA's apparent failure to tackle 'inefficiencies' in the way replacement vehicle costs are handled. Currently, the insurer of the not-at-fault driver sets the cost of a replacement car, which the at-fault driver’s insurer pays. John O’Roarke, managing director of LV= car insurance called the CMA investigation a 'wasted opportunity' to tackle what he called 'systemic problems' in the car insurance industry. He said: 'The current system whereby the insurer of the non-fault vehicle controls the cost that the at-fault insurer pays, is simply not sustainable and drives up the cost of car insurance.' DAILY MAIL

GlaxoSmithKline fined $490m by China for bribery
The record penalty follows allegations the drug giant paid out bribes to doctors and hospitals in order to have their products promoted. The court gave GSK's former head of Chinese operations, Mark Reilly, a suspended three-year prison sentence and he is set to be deported. Other GSK executives have also been given suspended jail sentences. The guilty verdict was delivered after a one-day trial at a court in Changsha, according to the Xinhua news agency. Chinese authorities first announced they were investigating GSK in July last year, in what has become the biggest corruption scandal to hit a foreign firm in years. The company was accused of having made an estimated $150m in illegal profits. GSK said it had "published a statement of apology to the Chinese government and its people". BBC NEWS

Barclays hit by new £38m fine over client assets

Barclays is to be fined £38m for breaching City rules requiring clients’ funds to be kept separate from its own assets, in what is expected to be the largest fine for such an offence. The £38m fine is the second punishment Barclays has received for breaches of client asset rules. The penalty, imposed by the Financial Conduct Authority, will be the latest setback for the bank in its attempt to clean up its reputation in the wake of the 2012 Libor rigging scandal. While this time frame predates the appointment of Antony Jenkins as chief executive, the latest punishment comes as he attempts to defend the bank against fraud charges in the US in relation to the sale of mortgage bonds and after a £26m fine in May for fixing the gold price. GUARDIAN


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