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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Coke profits lose fizz in Europe

Category : World News

Falling sales in Coca-Cola’s key recession-hit European markets lead to a 15% decline in profits.

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Gold price falls to two-year low

Category : Business

Gold falls to its lowest level in two years, as wider commodity prices and US shares also decline following disappointing Chinese economic data.

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Asia markets dip after Boston blasts

Category : World News

Asian markets decline in early trading after two explosions at the Boston Marathon in the US killed three people and injured dozens more.

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Westerners might not get the top jobs any more, but our values prevail | Will Hutton

Category : Business

The west is no longer ascendant, but dynamism elsewhere in the world is spurred by what created our success

The first ever non-European pope takes over at the Vatican, while Italy’s economic ills and ungovernability foretell, it’s argued, the wider decline of the west. First-world Catholics enmeshed in scandal in Europe and the United States have turned to a devout Argentinian to clean up their mess.

Meanwhile, there are weekly signs of the west’s fall. It is not a western hi-tech company challenging Apple for global dominance of the smartphone market but South Korea’s Samsung with its new Galaxy, launched with great fanfare last week. This week, our government will reportedly announce in the budget that Qatar is coming to the rescue of poverty-stricken, austerity-ridden Britain with a £10bn fund for infrastructure. And everyone knows about the rise of China. The world is turning on its axis. It is now a commonplace that the west is in irredeemable decline.

Economically, the trends are well established. If they continue, by 2015 Europe’s share of world GDP will have fallen to 17% (and to 10% by 2040) from the 26% it commanded in 1980. The US’s dominance in defence is also being steadily eroded; its budget is stagnating while China’s is growing by double digits every year. Raw materials and oil flow to Asia rather than Europe.

Europe’s population ages and its work ethic, it is claimed, is undermined by our addiction to welfare. As our economies underperform, the most exclusive parts of London, Paris, Rome and Berlin are being bought up by the newly rich from Russia, Latin America and Asia. The richest man in the world is Carlos Slim from Mexico, while the Group of Seven leading industrialised countries is no longer the locus of world economic power. That has moved to the G20.

Even western democracy, one reliable export to the rest of the world, no longer seems so admirable. The US government is deadlocked over its budget so that after the arbitrary spending sequester on 1 March, parts of government will start to close down at the end of the month. Perhaps the benign dictatorship of the Chinese Communist party offers a better model for governance.

Yet look more closely and a more subtle, more encouraging story is at work – less the decline of the west than the steady spread of its values and practices. Jorge Mario Bergoglio is pope because he embodies – at least in Catholic eyes – the best of the western Catholic tradition. He may defend core values on marriage and sexuality, however irrelevant and unjustified they now seem in secular Europe and America, but is avowedly liberal on social issues and poverty. Catholic social policy, with its commitment to justice, fulfilling work and the necessity to enfranchise every human, is one of the better components of the religion’s tradition.

This social policy was an outgrowth of the church coming to terms, over the 19th century, with the Enlightenment. If it is so survive in the 21st century, it will have to come to terms with the Enlightenment’s view that sex is not immoral and sexual preferences should not be stigmatised. Pope Francis might also come to regret his alleged compromises with the Argentinian junta that may dog his papacy. But nonetheless he is the best the Roman Catholic church can offer in holding an impossible line – and might prove to be one of the last who tries to do so. Soon, there will be no part of the world, not even the Catholic church, not touched by Enlightenment virtues.

The same painful process has begun in the Arab world. The Arab Spring represented a series of societies insisting on a voice, the rule of law, representative government, freedom from arbitrary imprisonment and freedom of expression. Yes, the first beneficiaries have been religious fundamentalists and Islamist zealots, but that is only to be expected in the first phase of the process. Fundamentalism is a response to being under siege; it is because western Enlightenment values are so attractive that Arab societies, concerned to preserve their identity, reaffirm their “Arabness” via religion. The attraction of the Muslim Brotherhood is much more complicated than mere religious fundamentalism – they also have a partial Enlightenment commitment to justice.

Nor is China immune. Last week saw the Sina Weibo microblogging site full of anonymous mockery of President Xi’s monarchial, unopposed anointment to lead. Censorship is breaking down. The regime dares imprison fewer and fewer overt political prisoners. Meanwhile, the Communist party’s upper echelons anxiously debate how legitimacy is to be won in a one-party state, but even more anxiously question how China’s growth rate is to be maintained now it can no longer just copy western technology but must develop some of its own. Science, freedom of inquiry, peer review, openness to new ideas and honest statistics turn out not to be bourgeois western ideas but fundamental to innovation. They cannot be promoted in a one-party state.

Nor is it clear that the US is to be written off quite so quickly. The anti-Enlightenment American right has become locked in an anti-scientific, anti-sexual revolution and anti-justice ideology – and has lost the popular vote in five out of the last six presidential elections. Obama’s victory in 2012 could be read as the great republic reasserting its commitment to Enlightenment values. Part of the rapidly escalating American economic recovery is about cheap shale gas, but part is about the rediscovery of an Enlightenment commitment to research and development, now reaching record levels, and the innovation that goes with it. As the Tea Party right’s progress stalls, there is an emerging confidence that the US has not lost its way after all.

In Britain, a similar drama is playing itself out. David Cameron’s modernisation project was an attempt to make his party come to terms with Enlightenment truths – on climate change, the environment, same-sex marriage, open innovation and even social justice – but he has been beaten back into the same dark laager inhabited by American conservatives. A small state and a balanced budget are everything in this theology, along with an individualism is all that is needed for capitalist success and social harmony.

These are propositions that never did work. Successful capitalism is co-created by private and public initiative, a marriage between the market and the Enlightenment – its values and its publicly created institutions. Hence Britain and the US in their different historical contexts; thus South Korea today. It is this alchemy that drove the rise of the west and is now, in varying and incomplete guises, driving the dynamism in the rest of the world. We in the west should remember what drove our success. Rather than mourn our relative decline, let’s celebrate others getting as good, if not better, at what we used to practise and have allowed to atrophy. Then we must find ways to rediscover the alchemy ourselves.

Gold nears bear market territory

Category : Business, Stocks

The decline in gold value is almost steep enough to be a bear.

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Australia home loan approvals slide

Category : World News

Home loan approvals in Australia decline for a third straight month despite moves by the central bank to lower the cost of borrowing.

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Service sector economies improve

Category : World News

The UK’s service sector returns to growth in January, while the pace of decline in the eurozone slows, a purchasing managers’ survey shows.

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BT profit up as revenue declines

Category : Business

The decline in revenues at BT continued in the last three months of 2012, but cost cutting helped to boost profits, the telecom firm says.

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The great property divide: a tale of two halves

Category : Business

Hackney vs Hartlepool. Patrick Collinson on the winner and loser in the house price casino

Ten years ago, a budget of £150,000 would pay for a new-build executive detached home in Hartlepool, or a run-down terrace in Hackney, east London.

In December 2002 the buyer of the Hartlepool house, which is in Clover Drive and part of a pleasant estate, paid £143,950. In October 2012 it was sold for just £124,999, a 13% drop.

But the property gods smiled on Hackney. A five-bed terrace in Cecilia Road sold for £150,000 in April 2002. In October 2012 it sold for £716,000 – up 377%.

Land Registry figures for 2012, published this week, paint a picture of Hartlepool and Hackney at the two extremes of Britain’s property market. Last year Hackney was among the fastest rising in the country, spurred not just by the general shortage of properties in the capital but also by the Olympic Games, held just outside the borough. Prices rose by 10.3% in 2012, almost 10 times the typical 1.7% across England and Wales, to reach an average of £429,000. Since 2002, they have risen by 115%, barely touched by the financial crisis a few miles away in the City of London, regaining and surpassing their 2007/08 peak within a matter of months.

In Hartlepool, prices have never recovered from their 2007-08 highs, and may not for another decade. As Northern Rock collapsed, so did average home prices in the former shipbuilding centre, from a peak of £113,172 in August 2008 to £74,702 in December 2012, according to Land Registry figures. The 34% fall (including a 4.7% decline in 2012) is one of the biggest in any part of the country, and takes prices back to June 2004.

But Hartlepool is hardly alone. The number of negative equity “cold spots” in England and Wales is far higher than many London-based property commentators realise. In Nottingham, prices peaked at £105,000 in May 2007 but now stand at £85,000 – the same as nearly 10 years ago. In Blackpool, prices remain 32% below their December 2007 peak.

Neither is negative equity just a north-south issue. In Luton, 29 miles from the centre of London, the average home-buyer paid £152,000 in 2008, but will find the property is worth just £125,000 today, while some northern cities such as York have largely escaped declines.

For first-time buyers, the country is now cleaved in two. With average prices below £100,000 in large parts of the north, affordability is finally beginning to return. But in most of the south, affordability has never been worse.

Wheat inventories on May 31, just prior to the harvest, will total 742M bushels, Allendale forecasts, with the figure 3.6% higher than the USDA’s prediction. The firm also reckons output in the 2013/2014 season will slip 2.5% to 2.21B bushels and…

Category : Stocks, World News

Wheat inventories on May 31, just prior to the harvest, will total 742M bushels, Allendale forecasts, with the figure 3.6% higher than the USDA’s prediction. The firm also reckons output in the 2013/2014 season will slip 2.5% to 2.21B bushels and farmers will increase the amount of acreage plant by 1.4%, but yields will decline 2.4% to 45.2 bushels an acre. (See corn inventories) Post your comment!

Here is the original post: Wheat inventories on May 31, just prior to the harvest, will total 742M bushels, Allendale forecasts, with the figure 3.6% higher than the USDA’s prediction. The firm also reckons output in the 2013/2014 season will slip 2.5% to 2.21B bushels and…

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