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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com 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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Metro International: "Accidentially on Purpose"

Category : Stocks

How the ‘Biggest Mistake’ in Newspaper History Helped Fuel the World’s Largest Photo Competition

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There’s nothing wrong with low-carbon policy that strong government can’t fix

Category : Business

Apocalyptic predictions are circulating about the size of electricity bills in 2030 if the move to green power goes ahead. There is no need for them to come true

The UK’s energy policy is not “plausible” and a “crisis” is inevitable. That is the view of Peter Atherton, a respected utilities analyst who works for Liberum Capital, an investment bank in the City.

Atherton is convinced that successive UK governments have grossly underestimated the engineering, financial and economic challenges posed by the planned move from a high-carbon electricity sector to a low-carbon one.

He believes that the cost of switching from largely coal- and gas-fired power stations to a mix of gas-, wind- and nuclear-generated electricity will cost more than £160bn by 2020 and more than £375bn 10 years later. He warns that it means “electricity bills rising by at least 30% by 2020 and 100% by 2030 in real terms.”

That would be political dynamite and Atherton knows it. He predicts that there will be three groups of “casualties”: the government, consumers and investors.

This apocalyptic scenario – contained in an investment note issued last week – will warm the hearts of many in the City (and possibly some in the Treasury) who believe the green agenda is a giant waste of money.

It will alarm the wider community who accept that climate change must be tackled, and those who believe a “carbon bubble” is developing around fossil fuel companies whose assets are overvalued in a world turning away from coal and oil.

And it is clearly at odds with the ideas of ministers such as Ed Davey, the energy secretary, whose Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) calculated last month that “household dual fuel bills are estimated to be on average 11% (or £166) less in 2020 than they would be without policies being pursued.” Those figures do, however, involve some heroic assumptions about energy-efficiency measures being

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The New Porsche 911 Turbo and 911 Turbo S

Category : Stocks

911 Turbo Sets a New Benchmark for Vehicle Dynamics and Fuel Consumption

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The New Porsche 911 Turbo and 911 Turbo S

Category : Stocks, World News

911 Turbo Sets a New Benchmark for Vehicle Dynamics and Fuel Consumption

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Rich elderly ‘should shun benefits’

Category : Business, World News

Wealthy elderly people who do not need benefit payments to help with fuel bills or free travel should voluntarily give the money back, Iain Duncan Smith says.

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Rich elderly ‘should shun benefits’

Category : Business

Wealthy elderly people who do not need benefit payments to help with fuel bills or free travel should voluntarily give the money back, Iain Duncan Smith says.

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UK to sell nuclear fuel firm stake

Category : Business

The UK government is preparing to sell its one-third stake in Urenco, the world’s second-largest provider of nuclear fuel.

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Firms ‘own unburnable fossil fuels’

Category : Business, World News

Some 60% to 80% of fossil fuel reserves owned by listed firms could be classed as unburnable if politicians stick to CO2 emission limits, a report warns.

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IMF keen to splash the cash in Egypt

Category : Business

The IMF is very interested in spreading its money and influence in Egypt, but concerns remain over US-style policies and Morsi’s legitimacy

Egypt is on the front line in the International Monetary Fund’s battle to remain relevant despite the rapidly shifting balance of power in the 21st century global economy. IMF officials are in Cairo, haggling with the Muslim Brotherhood government about the conditions of a proposed $4.8bn loan.

During the eurozone crisis, the IMF has frequently been regarded as a voice of reason, forcing Europe’s policymakers to face up to the scale of the financial disaster. But many ordinary Egyptians see the Washington-based institution as a stalking horse for the US-backed policies they sought to overthrow by occupying Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the Arab spring. Abolishing costly food and fuel subsidies is on the IMF agenda, for example – a controversial issue in a country with a history of “bread riots”.

Egypt desperately needs cash. Its foreign currency reserves are running low and it risks being unable to afford essential fuel and food imports. But some campaigners argue that the tax rises and subsidy cuts the government is negotiating with the IMF in return for a loan are strikingly similar to reforms drawn up by the reviled Mubarak regime.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said earlier this year: “The IMF needs to have the commitment of the political authorities that can actually endorse the programme, own it, and propose it to the population as theirs.”

But Mohga Kamal-Yanni, an expert on Egypt at Oxfam, disagrees: “The IMF prescription for the Egyptian economy is going to be really, really damaging. They don’t want to accept that there are other ways to raise government income.”

She argues that the cash squeeze is being caused by the fragile legitimacy of new president Mohamed Morsi, with the associated turmoil unsettling investors and markets. The IMF blames the crisis on the economic situation, she says, but it’s actually caused by the political situation. Egypt’s allies, including Qatar, have come to its aid with bilateral loans.

However, Sargon Nissan of the Bretton Woods Project thinktank says the IMF is determined to extend its reach in the countries where the Arab spring has brought democracy. “The IMF is desperate to lend to them,” he says. “Europe is a quagmire; eastern Europe is not a good place to lend; and the Middle East is a hugely significant region, in which the IMF’s major sponsor, the US, has major geopolitical interests. The IMF is very clearly prioritising support for this region, and Egypt is the key country.”

He argues that the IMF should be cautious about entering talks with a regime whose legitimacy has been widely questioned since Morsi granted himself sweeping new powers last year. These powers were later repealed, but elections under a new constitution are not due until later this year.

“The really disturbing thing is that they’re willing to work in Egypt and in a number of the transitional countries without those countries necessarily having a sufficient democratic mandate,” he says. He says the IMF should instead be making a short-term, emergency loan, with few conditions – an option the Egyptian government declined in 2011.

Big six energy firms accused of ‘cold-blooded profiteering’

Category : Business

Doubling of retail profit margins prompts call for radical overhaul of regulation

The big six energy suppliers have been accused of “cold-blooded profiteering” after official figures showed they had more than doubled their retail profit margins over the last 18 months and were now earning an average of £95 profit per household on dual-fuel bills.

The industry regulator Ofgem, which produced the estimates, said profits per household would reach £100 over the next 12 months.

Other new figures obtained from British Gas, EDF and the four other suppliers showed their profit margin from power generation – a separate part of the business – averaged more than 24% in 2011. They are believed to have risen since.

The escalating earnings were condemned by fuel poverty campaigners, rival energy companies and the shadow energy secretary, Caroline Flint.

They have led to further calls for the gas and electricity market to be reformed to break the stranglehold the big six have on supply, and will increase pressure on energy executives who are due to appear before parliament’s energy and climate change committee on Tuesday as part of an inquiry under the title “energy prices, profits and poverty”.

Sam Robertson, a campaigner with Fuel Poverty Action, said millions of UK households facing a choice of whether to heat or eat would be left wondering what difference an extra £95 could have made.

“This cold-blooded profiteering has to stop, but piecemeal market reforms will not go far enough, especially given the threat of a dash for gas that will send bills through the roof,” Robertson said.

The big six, which include SSE and RWE, already under fire for increasing domestic bills during an economic downturn, but the latest weekly Ofgem projections show dual-fuel retail bills are now up to an average of £1,420 a year, delivering £95 in profit per customer – a profit margin for the firms of 7%.

That is up from an average bill in 2011 of £1,030 and a profit margin of 3.2%, according to figures provided earlier by the companies but only now published by Ofgem.

The 2011 figures – the first the companies provided under the regulator’s drive to bring more transparency to the market – also revealed the profit margins of the big six on their power generation divisions. EDF, the French-owned business that is demanding huge subsidies from the UK government to build nuclear plants, had a profit margin of more than 30% in 2011 while Centrica’s was 17%.

Ofgem said average margins in generation across the big six increased from 18.4% in 2010 to 24.4% in 2011.

Caroline Flint, the shadow energy and climate change secretary, said the Ofgem numbers revealed the true scale of the problems in the power market.

“Energy companies always claim that when they put up people’s bills they’re only passing on increased costs. What these figures show once and for all is that energy companies have increased their profits on the back of spiralling bills for hard-pressed consumers,” she said.

“These companies like to pretend they are the victims of wholesale prices, but they have been allowed to arrange their businesses in a way that enables them to make huge profits whatever the cost of wholesale energy.”

Ed Kamm, chief marketing officer at Warwick-based First Utility, a small energy provider, said the figures underlined the dangers of huge companies dominating the wholesale and retail markets.

“The control the big six have over the wholesale market makes it difficult for independent suppliers to compete on price, which ultimately harms consumers. The big six firms’ generation margins are nearly 25% and increasing because they are not exposed to the market pressures which drive efficiency unlike other truly competitive industries. This is bad for competition and, ultimately, bad for consumers.”

A spokesman for Centrica said the company’s post-tax profit margins on the retail market had averaged 5% for the last five years and was currently the equivalent of £50 per customer.

He said the wholesale margin needed to be higher given that it funded power stations and forward contracts for up to £50bn of new gas supplies. “We believe it is a fair margin.”

EDF was unavailable for comment.

SSE said retail operated as a standalone business as it did for all other energy companies. “Cross-subsidising energy supply with profits from the wholesale business would create a barrier to entry into the market, to the detriment of healthy competition. We expect to make a profit margin of around 5% in energy supply over the medium term, which we believe to be fair and sustainable.”

An Ofgem spokesman said it was up to individual companies to justify their profits and prices to their customers, but the regulator was playing its part by forcing companies to release their internal figures while shaking up the market.

“We are planning the most radical changes to the market since competition began, to make it simpler, clearer and fairer,” he said. “To achieve this we propose to cut down the number of complex tariffs and simplify their structure. This will make it easier for consumers to find a cheaper deal. We also want to introduce other major changes to increase competitive pressure on suppliers. Our reforms are due to take effect from this summer.”

All of the big six energy companies increased their prices between October 2012 and January 2013. The firms blamed rising wholesale power and other costs.

Ian Marchant, the chief executive of SSE, which raised its gas and electricity prices by 9% from mid-October, said at the time: “The increases in costs that we have seen … can no longer be absorbed and mean that we are unable to keep prices at their current levels beyond this autumn. An increase in our prices has therefore, regrettably, become unavoidable.”

The SSE boss warned last month that “there is a very real risk of the lights going out” in Britain.