Showing posts with label UK. Show all posts
Showing posts with label UK. Show all posts

Friday, June 9, 2017

ENGLAND - The prospect of a hung Parliament would throw serious doubt over Brexit negotiations, due to begin in earnest in just 10 days.  The BBC/Sky/ITV poll put the Conservatives on 314 seats, Labour on 266, the Scottish National Party on 34, Liberal Democrats on 14, Plaid Cymru on three and Greens on one.  The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has set June 19 as his favoured date for the start of talks, due to last around 14-18 months.  Protracted negotiations over the formation of a new government - or even a second general election in 2017 - could put back the start of formal talks, squeezing even further the limited time available to forge a complex withdrawal agreement and a separate deal on future trade arrangements.  Theresa May repeatedly urged voters to hand her a large majority so that she could go into talks in Brussels with the firm backing of the country and the House of Commons behind her.  She warned that if she lost just six seats, she would no longer be Prime Minister, and an unprepared Jeremy Corbyn would go "naked and alone" to the negotiating table.  Under the terms of Article 50 of the EU treaties, the two-year deadline for the UK to leave the union can be extended only with the agreement of the other 27 member states.  It is unclear whether the letter informing the European Council of Britain's intention to quit can be revoked.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

U.K. - The home secretary, Amber Rudd, who will attend this morning’s emergency Cobra meeting, has added to the tributes to emergency services:  This was a barbaric attack, deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable in our society – young people and children out at a pop concert.   My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and victims who have been affected, and I know the whole country will share that view.  I’d like to pay tribute to the emergency services who have worked throughout the night professionally and effectively; they have done an excellent job.  Later on this morning I will be attending Cobra, chaired by the prime minister, to collect more information, to find out more, about this particular attack, and I can’t comment any more on that at the moment.  The public should remain alert but not alarmed. If they have anything to report, they should approach the police.  But I have two further things to add. The great city of Manchester has been affected by terrorism before. Its spirit was not bowed; its community continued.  This time it has been a particular attack on the most vulnerable in our society. Its intention was to sow fear; its intention is to divide. But it will not succeed.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

German industrialists have warned that British hopes of their support in Brexit negotiations are misplaced and could backfire with dangerous consequences for international trade. Business leaders in Europe’s biggest economy are instead calling on Conservatives to rethink their commitment to leaving the single market, even though the party has doubled down on this promise in its election manifesto.  David Davis and Boris Johnson have repeatedly cited likely pressure from German exporters, such as carmakers, as a reason for thinking they can persuade European negotiators to maintain free trade access after Britain leaves. But the theory is increasingly rejected by those whose support they need most – scepticism relayed most forcefully by Steffen Kampeter, the chief executive of the German employers’ federation, on a trip to the UK this week. “The top priority of European business is the integrity of the single market; the second priority is making good business with the UK. We will see if there is a conflict, but the message is: do not harm the single market by cherry-picking deals,” he told a conference of British business leaders in London this week. “It’s not the German carmakers that are directing the negotiations,” added Kampeter, who said he knew of no one who thought a trade deal within 18 months was possible and called for “rhetorical disarmament on all sides”.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Britain’s ambition to sign a quick Free Trade Agreement with the European Union after Brexit has received a significant boost after a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice handed expanded trade negotiation powers to Brussels.
The much-anticipated decision from the court in Luxembourg surprised experts by ruling that on key areas - including financial services and transport - the European Union does not need to seek ratification of a trade deal by the EU’s 38 national and local parliaments. Trade experts said the ECJ ruling could substantially reduce the risk of any future EU-UK free trade agreement getting bogged down in the EU national parliaments, opening the way for an FTA to be agreed by a qualified majority vote of EU member states.

Friday, March 31, 2017

European leaders will formally reject British demands to hold trade talks at the same time as negotiating the terms of the UK’s "divorce" from the EU, leaving both sides heading for an early stand-off in the Brexit talks.
The hardline EU response will be outlined in draft negotiating guidelines that will be distributed by the European Council to the remaining 27 member states at a closed-door meeting in Brussels.
Theresa May’s request that the terms of the future UK-EU partnership be negotiated “alongside” the terms of the divorce – rejected by the German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday - was shot down again on Thursday, this time by the outgoing French president, Francois Hollande.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Documents seen by the Guardian show that at least $20bn appears to have been moved out of Russia during a four-year period between 2010 and 2014. The true figure could be $80bn, detectives believe.
One senior figure involved in the inquiry said the money from Russia was “obviously either stolen or with criminal origin”.
Investigators are still trying to identify some of the wealthy and politically influential Russians behind the operation, known as “the Global Laundromat”.
They estimate a group of about 500 people were involved. These include oligarchs, Moscow bankers, and figures working for or connected to the FSB, the successor spy agency to the KGB.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The launch by British Airways’ owner of a low-cost long-haul airline could be a key staging post in the development of the growing trend for cheaper and longer flights.
'Level' has been unveiled by International Airlines Group as a low-cost, long-haul carrier operating out of Barcelona from June with flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
The move will put the company in direct competition with companies such as Norwegian, which has tried to carve a niche for itself in the nascent cheap long-haul flights market...Level will be run by IAG’s Spanish carrier Iberia’s flight and cabin crew and fares with start from €99 one-way or $149 compared to the lowest price for flights on Norwegian from Barcelona to San Francisco of €162, according to prices published on its website.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fed watchers were alarmed by a 31 January letter to Fed chair Janet Yellen from Representative Patrick McHenry, the vice-chairman of the House committee on financial services. McHenry did not pull his punches. “Despite the clear message delivered by President Donald Trump in prioritising America’s interest in international negotiations,” McHenry wrote, “it appears that the Federal Reserve continues negotiating international regulatory standards for financial institutions among global bureaucrats in foreign lands without transparency, accountability, or the authority to do so. This is unacceptable.”  In her reply of 10 February, Yellen firmly rebutted McHenry’s arguments. She pointed out that the Fed does indeed have the authority it needs, that the Basel agreements are not binding, and that, in any event, “strong regulatory standards enhance the stability of the US financial system” and promote the competitiveness of financial firms.  But that will not be the end of the story. The battle lines are now drawn, and McHenry’s letter shows the arguments that will be deployed in Congress by some Republicans close to the president. There has always been a strand of thinking in Washington that dislikes foreign entanglements, in this and other areas. While Yellen’s arguments are correct, the Fed’s entitlement to participate in international negotiations does not oblige it to do so, and a new appointee might argue that it should not.

Friday, March 3, 2017

As President Trump struggles to staff his administration with sympathisers who will help transpose tweets into policy, the exodus of Obama appointees from the federal government and other agencies continues. For the financial world, one of the most significant departures was that of Daniel Tarullo, the Federal Reserve governor who has led its work on financial regulation for the last seven years.  It would be a stretch to say that Tarullo has been universally popular in the banking community. He led the charge in arguing for much higher capital ratios, in the US and elsewhere. He was a tough negotiator, with a well-tuned instinct for spotting special pleading by financial firms. But crocodile tears will be shed in Europe to mark his resignation. European banks, and even their regulators, were concerned by his enthusiastic advocacy of even tougher standards in Basel 3.5 (or Basel 4, as bankers like to call it), which would, if implemented in the form favoured by the US, require further substantial capital increases for Europe’s banks in particular. In his absence, these proposals’ fate is uncertain.  But Tarullo has also been an enthusiastic promoter of international regulatory cooperation, with the frequent flyer miles to prove it. For some years, he has chaired the Financial Stability Board’s little-known but important Standing Committee on Supervisory and Regulatory Cooperation. His commitment to working with colleagues in international bodies such as the FSB and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, to reach global regulatory agreements enabling banks to compete on a level playing field, has never been in doubt.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Theresa May has defiantly insisted her timetable for triggering Brexit will not be blown off course despite suffering her first Parliamentary defeat over the Article 50 bill.  The House of Lords voted to amend the Bill to force the Government to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. Seven Tory peers - including the former pensions minister Baroness Altmann - backed the amendment.  But the Prime Minister is confident the amendment will be rejected by the Commons later this month, and Downing Street insisted the timetable for Brexit “remains unchanged”... Lords who voted to alter the Bill were accused of “playing with fire” and critics accused them of pointless “posturing” and “doing a disservice to the national interest”.  The scale of the Government’s defeat in the Lords, where the proposal to amend the Bill was passed by 358 votes to 256, prompted speculation that Mrs May could face a fresh Tory rebellion when the Bill returns to the Commons.  Conservative whips are confident, however, that no more than a handful of Tory MPs will support the amendment. Labour's amendment to the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, tabled with Liberal Democrat and crossbench support, calls for ministers to bring forward proposals ensuring the rights of EU citizens living here to continue post-Brexit, within three months of triggering Article 50.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Early last month, Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, blamed“irrational behaviour” for the failure of the BoE’s recent forecasting models. The failure to spot this irrationality had led policymakers to forecast that the British economy would slow after last June’s Brexit referendum. Instead, British consumers have been on a heedless spending spree since the vote to leave the European Union; and, no less illogically, construction, manufacturing, and services have recovered. Haldane offers no explanation for this burst of irrational behaviour. Nor can he: to him, irrationality simply means behaviour that is inconsistent with the forecasts derived from the BoE’s model. It’s not just Haldane or the BoE. What mainstream economists mean by rational behaviour is not what you or I mean. In ordinary language, rational behaviour is that which is reasonable under the circumstances. But in the rarefied world of neoclassical forecasting models, it means that people, equipped with detailed knowledge of themselves, their surroundings, and the future they face, act optimally to achieve their goals. That is, to act rationally is to act in a manner consistent with economists’ models of rational behaviour. Faced with contrary behaviour, the economist reacts like the tailor who blames the customer for not fitting their newly tailored suit.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The City of London has warned that the loss of banking jobs to EU countries due to Brexit could threaten British and European financial stability. Interviews with more than half a dozen senior bankers and business leaders reveal growing certainty that the threat of losing single market access will force a wave of relocations this year and may cause an “unwinding” of a cluster of related businesses.
While the immediate loss of a few thousand jobs is viewed with relative equanimity, concern is mounting over the knock-on effect on financial stability if the City’s valuable related professions begin to fragment.   Douglas Flint, the chairman of HSBC, Britain’s biggest bank, said common regulation needed to be agreed with the remaining 27 EU members once Brexit talks got under way or there was a risk of sparking turbulence in the financial system. “One of the critical pieces is the ecosystem that exists, which effectively connects the fund managers to the risk managers to the liquidity providers to the insurance providers and the credit providers … it all benefits from all the other pieces being there,” Flint said.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Donald Trump is planning a new deal for Britain this week as Theresa May becomes the first foreign leader to meet him since the inauguration. 
With hundreds of thousands of people across the world protesting his presidency, Mr Trump’s team was working with Number 10 to finalise plans for White House talks.
Mr Trump has even taken to calling Mrs May “my Maggie” in reference to the close Thatcher-Reagan relationship he wants to recreate, according to sources....
The historic trip comes as: 
  • A deal to reduce barriers between American and British banks through a new “passporting” system was being considered by Mr Trump’s team
  • A US-UK “working group” was being prepared to identify barriers to trade and scope out a future trade deal
  • A joint statement on defence was expected to demand EU countries spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence and promise collaboration in tackling Isil
More than 60 million people in this country are hopeful — they want Mr. Trump to work on behalf of them to restore jobs in their dilapidated towns, to improve the education for their children, to help unite this fractious Republic, by making the American dream obtainable to all Americans.  They’ll dance at the balls this weekend, or toast champagne from within their homes. All are uncertain at what a Trump presidency may bring, but they are willing to give the man a chance.  All but the mainstream media that is.  Network heads and newspaper editors are filled with anxiety — yes, Mr. Trump’s supporters are jubilant, but the other half of this nation (including most within their own newsrooms) are devastated. And to them, that devastation is more powerful, more convincing. And thus, their coverage has reflected those fears, and none of the optimism.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Speech by Theresa May, Lancaster House, 17 January 2017 -- A little over six months ago, the British people voted for change.  They voted to shape a brighter future for our country.  They voted to leave the European Union and embrace the world.
And they did so with their eyes open: accepting that the road ahead will be uncertain at times, but believing that it leads towards a brighter future for their children - and their grandchildren too.  And it is the job of this Government to deliver it. That means more than negotiating our new relationship with the EU. It means taking the opportunity of this great moment of national change to step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be.  My answer is clear. I want this United Kingdom to emerge from this period of change stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before. I want us to be a secure, prosperous, tolerant country - a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators who will shape the world ahead. I want us to be a truly Global Britain – the best friend and neighbour to our European partners, but a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe too. A country that goes out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Britain could suffer from having no access to the European Union’s markets after Brexit and "will not take it lying down", Philip Hammond has admitted.
The Chancellor admitted in an interview with a German magazine that the “UK we could suffer from economic damage at least in the short-term” if it is left with no access to the EU.  But he suggested that Britain could cut taxes to encourage companies to move to the UK if it were shut out from trading with the EU...The Telegraph disclosed Mrs May is preparing to set out plans for a ‘clean’ Brexit’ when she delivers her major speech at Lancaster House on Tuesday.  This would see the UK pulling out of the single market and the customs union in order to regain control of immigration and end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.  A government source told The Sunday Telegrpah: “She's gone for the full works. People will know when she said 'Brexit means Brexit', she really meant it.”  The comments alarmed pro-Remain MPs. Former education secretary Nicky Morgan, who was sacked by Mrs May, said the Prime Minister should put "maximum participation" in the single market at the heart of her negotiating strategy and warned her not to do anything to damage the economy.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Brexit, Brexit, Brexit. For more than a year now, it has been scarcely possible to think or read about anything else. Seemingly all other economic discourse has been eclipsed by this over-riding prospect.  In the circumstances, it’s an understandable obsession. Yet the fact is that far bigger challenges lie ahead for the UK economy than leaving the European Union, a point that the Governor the Bank of England, Mark Carney, seemed to acknowledge this week in admitting that Brexit was no longer the main domestic risk to financial stability. As it happens, it never was. Since the Brexit vote, the economy has continued to motor, and so far there seems to have been zero impact on financial stability...Over the last five years, the FTSE 100 has closed lower on seven of the 10 Friday 13ths.  It could be a coincidence – or is there something else at play?
On Friday 13th July 2012, China’s GDP growth dropped to a three-year low of 7.6pc, marking a new stage for the country’s economic slowdown....Superstitious beliefs run so high in the UK that some people refuse to fly on Friday 13th, stay in hotel rooms bearing the unlucky digits or buy houses that bear the number 13.  In fact, the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina estimates that businesses lose up to $900m (£585m) in sales and productivity when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday as customers refrain from activities such as flying and anxious employees stay home from work.  The phenomenon even has a name: paraskavedekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday 13th, while triskaidekaphobics are scared of the number 13 more generally.  More than a quarter of Britons admit that they consider Friday 13th to be unlucky, according to a survey of 500 adults conducted by the conference call provider Powwownow.  One in 10 people avoid travelling by train on Friday 13th, 11pc refuse to stay in hotel room number 13 and 16pc of people won’t take flights on this inauspicious day, the survey found.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Germany - Inflation rage is coming to the boil in Germany. Leaders of the country's prestigious institutes warn that the economy is hitting capacity constraints and risks spiraling into a destructive boom-bust cycle.  In a series of interviews with The Telegraph they said that the ultra-loose monetary policy of the European Central Bank is now badly out of alignment with German needs. It has begun to threaten lasting damage, and is fast undermining political consent for monetary union.  "The ECB wants to inflate away the debt of the southern European countries. This is a clear conflict of interest with net creditors like Germany," said Clemens Fuest, president of the IFO Institute in Munich....Governments in the rich world are now the biggest debtors globally, piling up debts even as financial firms, other businesses and households moderate their borrowing. Total global debts have hit a new record high, driven largely by government borrowing, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF). The organisation is warning that the borrowing spree comes at a dangerous time, as debts increase sharply as the era of low interest rates comes to an end, leading to substantially higher borrowing costs....Total global debts rose to more than $217 trillion (£175 trillion) at the end of the third quarter last year, the IIF said, amounting to a record high of more than 325pc of GDP.
 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

LONDON - Three of the City’s most powerful figures face a grilling from MPs over suggestions banks and other financial services firms exaggerated the threat posed by Brexit. Douglas Flint, chairman of HSBC, London Stock Exchange boss Xavier Rolet, and Elizabeth Corley, vice chairman asset manager Allianz Global Investors, will appear before the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) on Tuesday.  The influential panel of MPs has launched an inquiry into the future of Britain’s economic relationship with Europe once it leaves the EU. It is understood MPs’ will investigate whether City firms have embellished the likely impact of Brexit on the Square Mile, in an attempt to pressure the government into prioritising the financial services industry during negotiations with Brussels....It comes after the chief economist of the Bank of England conceded last week that the warnings of an economic downturn forecasters sounded before the EU referendum had been a “Michael Fish” moment - the infamous episode in 1987 when the BBC weatherman said there would be no hurricane the night before the Great Storm.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The surge in public borrowing has several important effects, exposing governments to higher interest rates as well as constraining their options at a time when economists would like extra fiscal stimulus from some countries.
“Higher borrowing costs could raise concerns about debt sustainability,” warned the IIF. “With the focus in 2017 likely to be on prospects for fiscal stimulus, already-high levels of mature market debt may act as a constraint.”. Borrowers in Britain have been working hard to pay down their debts, slashing the total debt to GDP ratio by 65 percentage points between 2011 and 2015. That is now in reverse, as the government keeps borrowing and banks stop deleveraging – in the first nine months of the year, debts rose by 15 percentage points to more than 465pc of GDP. Governments in emerging markets have increased their debt more slowly – debt to GDP increased by only two percentage points. Those nations could be particularly hit by higher interest rates in the US, however, as investors looking for yield in riskier markets may be tempted back to the States, as they were in the so-called taper tantrum of 2012.  The biggest emerging market borrower in 2016 was China – it accounted for $710bn of the total $855bn of bond issuance from the governments.
UK consumer credit is rising at its fastest pace since 2005 - Highcharts CloudYear on year growth, %Chart context menuUK consumer credit is rising at its fastest pace since2005UK consumer credit is rising at its fastest pace since 2005Source: Bank of EnglandAnnual consumer credit growth20022004200620082010201220142016-505101520Highcharts.comFriday, Oct 31, 2014 Annual consumer credit growth: 6.4
The country’s households were also keen borrowers in the nine-month period. Individuals took on loans amounting to an additional 3pc of GDP, while overall emerging market household debt hit a new high of 35pc of GDP.
“This suggests that for some households, debt service capacity could be challenged in a rising interest rate environment,” the IIF warned.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Good on Andy Haldane, the chief economist of the Bank of England, for telling it as it is. In an explosive intervention, Haldane has just compared the financial crisis and Brexit to the Bank of England’s Michael Fish moments. He was referring, of course, to the day just before the greatest storm for 300 years hit Britain on Oct 15, 1987, when the famous weather forecaster got it spectacularly wrong. “Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way… well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t!” he said.  In the case of the Great Recession, the analogy is perfect. In the case of Brexit, the error was a reverse Michael Fish, another case of the Y2K millennium bug: a prediction of immediate disaster which failed to materialise. The Bank expected a hurricane but none came, as it was put to Haldane (it’s a “fair cop”, he replied).