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Thursday, 1 September 2016

Thursday, September 01, 2016 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, September 01, 2016 with No comments | Labels:

'TTIP is dead': French President casts doubt on EU-US trade deal
Negotiators have been locked in TTIP talks since 2013 and had hoped to reach a conclusion by the end of this year. However, the talks have made slow progress, with objections on both sides of the Atlantic. Matthias Fekl, France's minister of foreign trade, said the country would formally call for an end to talks when ministers meet in Slovakia next month. "These negotiations are dead and France wants an end to them," he told French radio. "There is no political support in France for these negotiations." French President Francois Hollande said France would not accept a deal in its current form. Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's vice Chancellor, said this weekend that TTIP talks had "de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it... We Europeans of course must not succumb to American demands," he added. "Nothing is moving forward.” US presidential candidate Donald Trump has promoted protectionist trade policies, while rival Hillary Clinton has also cast doubt on a TTIP deal. Many claim that TTIP, a free trade agreement being negotiated between the European Union and the United States, will have far-reaching negative impacts in Europe on jobs, the environment and the economy. TELEGRAPH

Neil Woodford scraps "largely ineffective" bonus pay at his investment firm
The move at Neil Woodford's fund management business runs counter to conventional wisdom in the City that bonuses are needed to motivate staff. His firm's 35 staff will get a rise in basic pay and benefits as compensation. Craig Newman, chief executive and co-founder of Woodford Investment Management, said in statement: "There is little correlation between bonus and performance and this is backed by widespread academic evidence. Many studies conclude that bonuses don't work as a motivator, as expectation is already built in. Behavioural studies also suggest that bonuses can lead to short-term decision making and wrong behaviours." To back up the claim that bonuses are ineffective or damaging, the statement from Mr Woodford's firm points to several academic studies, and quotes from an article in the specialist publication The Journal of Corporation Law. This said: "Financial incentives are often counterproductive as they encourage gaming, fraud and other dysfunctional behaviours that damage the reputation and culture of the organisation... They produce the misleading assumption that most people are selfish and self-interested, which in turn erodes trust." BBC NEWS

Fuel economy: just two cars deliver advertised mileage
Just two cars deliver their advertised fuel economy when on the road, with the thousands of other models 30% worse on average in the real world, according to comprehensive new data. Some cars, such as the Fiat 500 and Ford Fiesta, gave barely half the mileage advertised. The result is that drivers are being misled and paying far more to drive, say experts, who warn that a stricter official test coming in 2017 will only close about half the gap between official and real fuel efficiency. The data from leading testing company Emissions Analytics covers 60,000 models and was published on Thursday, the first such database available to the public. It uses onboard equipment to measure mileage over four hours of real-world driving. In contrast, the official regulatory test is a gentle lab-based exercise. The worst gap between official miles per gallon (MPG) and real-world performance was for the Fiat 500, which is rated at 70.6MPG, but only delivered 39MPG on the road, a 45% drop. Other popular petrol cars performing at least 40% worse on the road include the UK’s most popular car, the Ford Fiesta, as well as the Ford Focus, Toyota Yaris and Mini Hatch. Some diesels, which generally have better fuel efficiency, also had 40% gaps, such as the VW Golf and Peugeot 308. The only cars to produce better fuel efficiency on the road were the 4.7-litre engine Aston Martin Vantage, which gave 21.5MPG in the real world, 5% higher than in the lab, and the 3.7l Nissan 370Z, which was 1% better on the road at 26.6MPG. The best on-the-road mileage was produced by the Honda Civic, which did 61.8MPG in the real world, though this was still 21% lower than its official mileage of 78.5MPG. The Citroen C3 was next best, with 60.3MPG, 28% lower than its official rating. The worst actual fuel economy came from the BMW X5, with just 16.2MPG, the Range Rover Sport (17.5MPG) and the Porsche Cayenne (17.8MPG), all well below official ratings. Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicles manager at campaign group Transport & Environment, said: “The fuel consumption gap has become a vast chasm. Carmakers’ manipulation of the weak, outdated lab test is widespread, affecting diesel and petrol cars. This means a total waste of motorists’ money and an increase in global warming emissions.” GUARDIAN

EU staff petition attacks ex-EU President Barroso over Goldman Sachs job
More than 75,000 people have signed an EU staff petition calling on former European commission president José Manuel Barroso to forfeit his pension for bringing the European Union into disrepute by joining Goldman Sachs. The petition, organised by a small group of EU officials, accuses Barroso of “irresponsible” and “morally reprehensible behaviour” for joining the American investment bank. Although Barroso is not the first former ex-commissioner to join Goldman, his appointment has sparked anger among rank-and-file staff, who have highlighted the bank’s role in mis-selling sub-prime mortgages, as well as lending money to the Greek government before the country’s debt disaster exploded. In a scathing denunciation of their former boss, the officials describe the Goldman job as “a disastrous symbol” for the EU and “a gift horse for europhobes”. “It is a further example of the irresponsible revolving-door practices, which are highly damaging to the EU institutions and, even if not illegal, morally reprehensible.” Ex-European commissioners must inform the EU executive of any new position for up to 18 months after they step down. Barroso took up the post at Goldman Sachs 20 months after leaving the commission. A Goldman Sachs spokesman said: “José Manuel’s experience and advice in this time of uncertainty will be extremely valuable to our clients and their reaction to his appointment at Goldman Sachs has been very encouraging.” The bank also defended its Greek currency swaps “as entirely legitimate debt management transactions” that were in line with EU rules. GUARDIAN

Apple should give Ireland 13bn euros in unpaid taxes, European Commission rules
After a three-year investigation, the European Commission has concluded that the US firm's Irish tax benefits are illegal. The Commission said Ireland enabled the company to pay substantially less than other businesses, in effect paying a corporate tax rate of no more than 1%. Ireland and Apple both said they disagreed with the record penalty and would appeal against it. The standard rate of Irish corporate tax is 12.5%. The Commissions's investigation concluded that Apple had effectively paid 1% tax on its European profits in 2003 and about 0.005% in 2014. The company said: "Apple follows the law and pays all of the taxes we owe wherever we operate. We will appeal and we are confident the decision will be overturned." The record tax bill should not be a problem for Apple, which made a net profit of $53bn in the 2015 financial year. The US Treasury, which said last week that the European Commission was in danger of becoming a "supranational tax authority", said the latest ruling could "undermine foreign investment, the business climate in Europe, and the important spirit of economic partnership between the US and the EU". In Apple's case, 90% of its foreign profits are legally channelled to Ireland, and then to subsidiaries which have no tax residence. At the same time, countries can scarcely afford not to co-operate when Apple comes calling; it has a stock market value of $600bn, and the attraction of the jobs it can create and the extra inward investment its favours can bring are too much for most politicians to resist. BBC NEWS

'Property is better bet' than a pension says Bank of England economist
Haldane believes that property is a better bet for retirement planning than a pension. “It ought to be pension but it’s almost certainly property,” he said, adding: “As long as we continue not to build anything like as many houses in this country as we need to ... we will see what we’ve had for the better part of a generation, which is house prices relentlessly heading north.” This is not the first time the Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, has raised eyebrows with his comments on pensions. In a speech in May, he admitted that he was unable to understand pensions because the system was so complicated.  “I consider myself moderately financially literate – yet I confess to not being able to make the remotest sense of pensions,” he said. “Conversations with countless experts and independent financial advisers have confirmed for me only one thing – that they have no clue either.” Haldane owns two homes – one in Surrey and a holiday home on the Kent coast. His basic salary at the Bank is £182,000 and he is in line for a pension of more than £80,000 a year when he retires. GUARDIAN

PricewaterhouseCoopers fined more than £3m for failing to spot black hole at collapsed payday lender
PricewaterhouseCoopers signed off accounts showing the now defunct FTSE 250 company made annual profits of £165.2m in 2007. But it later emerged PwC had failed to spot a deep hole in the books – and the company in fact made a loss of £96.5m that year. Cattles shares collapsed and eventually were suspended – leaving investors previously unaware of the situation nursing heavy losses. The Financial Reporting Council, the accountancy watchdog, yesterday fined PwC £2.3m and ordered it to pay £750,000 of legal fees. The watchdog also fined PwC partner Simon Bradburn £75,600 and issued him and his firm with a ‘severe reprimand’ – saying their conduct ‘fell significantly short of the standards reasonably to be expected of them’. In February 2009, Cattles announced that publication of its 2008 accounts would be delayed, sending its shares down 74 per cent in just one day, and in the following months Cattles said it was in breach of its banking agreements. Trading in its shares was suspended and PwC resigned as auditors. Two Cattles directors were banned from the City in 2012 for misleading investors about the quality of the company’s loans book. The FRC accepted that PwC and Bradburn were ‘deliberately misled’ by the company, but said they ‘failed to exercise sufficient professional scepticism’. DAILY MAIL

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