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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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IMF team needs to see UK economy’s clouds, not the sunbeam

Category : Business

Christine Lagarde’s inspectors should see that Britain is crying out for investment, not more austerity

Dear IMF officials,

Don’t be blinded by a single ray of sunshine. Britain may have avoided a triple-dip recession, but all the other economic news is weak at best.

At the heart of the problem are the country’s ultra-conservative banks and building societies. Either they are short of funds or reluctant to lend to all but the most financially secure borrower. As Vince Cable put it yesterday, they are working on a “pawnbroker business model” demanding “heaps of collateral” that he likened to a gold watch.

The result is that few small and medium-sized businesses can access the cheap credit on offer from the Bank of England.

Homebuyers are in a similar fix. Some estate agents report that cash buyers make up almost 50% of the house purchases in recent months. Housebuilding remains at levels not seen since the 1920s.

As you pointed out on your visit last year, the Treasury has room for manoeuvre should it want to promote growth. The trouble is that all the fiscal loosening this year will just go to overstressed hospitals, a bigger pension bill and a school system coping with a baby boom. There was little extra in the last budget for investment.

Among the voices over here calling for a more cautious approach to austerity are the former City regulator Lord Turner, who warned yesterday that the slowdown caused by aggressive cuts could trigger a cycle of debt.

“I think the difficulty is that when the public debt levels go up in the crisis you feel you’ve got to get that under control

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Credit unions plan for more members

Category : Business, World News

The UK’s network of credit unions is set to expand after 31 groups signed up to a major investment project.

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Arts and culture worth more than £850m to UK export trade

Category : Business

Report shows arts budget of less than 0.1% of public spending delivers four times that in contribution to GDP

Arts and culture delivers a significant return on relatively small levels of government spending and directly leads to at least £856m of spending by tourists in the UK, according to a new report seeking to analyse the value of the arts to the modern economy.

Analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) shows that the arts budget accounts for less than 0.1% of public spending, yet it makes up 0.4% of the nation’s GDP.

The report is published amid fears that the arts will take another big hit when George Osborne announces his spending review in June.

Maria Miller, the culture secretary, recently called for the economic case to be made for the arts, “to hammer home the value of culture to our economy”. She added: “In an age of austerity, when times are tough and money is tight, our focus must be on culture’s economic impact.”

The report, commissioned in November, helps to do that in unprecedented detail, showing that spending on the arts is far from a drain on public resources.

Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England, which commissioned the research with the National Museum Directors’ Council, said he was gratified that the report quantified “what we have long understood – that culture plays a vital part in attracting tourism to the tune of £856m a year; that arts centres and activities transform our towns and cities and drive regeneration, making the choice to maintain investment in culture a forward thinking one for local authorities; and that the arts support the creative industries and improve their productivity.”

The report calculates that:

• The turnover of businesses in the arts and culture industry was £12.4bn in 2011. This in turn led to an estimated £5.9bn of gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy in the same year. (GVA is the value of the industry’s output minus the value of inputs used to produce it, including state subsidies.)

• The sector provides more than 110,000 jobs directly, about 0.45% of total employment in the UK. The figure becomes 260,300 jobs once the indirect impacts of arts and culture are added in.

• Living in an area with twice the average level of cultural density adds an average £26,817 to the value of a property.

The report says that public subsidy plays a vital role in encouraging creative innovation by “overcoming private-sector reluctance to invest in risky projects”. One example of that, quoted in the report, is the National Theatre’s War Horse, which even the original book’s author, Michael Morpurgo, had reservations about – but which has become a big moneyspinner.

Similarly, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which dominated the Olivier theatre awards, could only have been created with public money. Its director, Marianne Elliott, said after receiving an award: “We took risks and thought we would fail and it is a testament to subsidised theatre that we were allowed to think we might fail.”

The report says there is much evidence to show that art and culture improves national productivity. “Engagement with arts and culture helps to develop people’s critical thinking, to cultivate creative problem solving and to communicate and express themselves effectively.”

Although consumer spending on the arts – its biggest income – increased between 2008 and 2010, it suffered a decline in 2011-12. The report warns: “It might be said that arts and culture is experiencing a pincer movement effect in the aftermath of the financial crisis: reduced consumer expenditure due to squeezed incomes, and reduced public spending.”

The report was welcomed by the investment banker John Studzinski, who chairs the east London arts organisation Create. “Everybody knows the enormous intangible benefits of the arts. What this report does is look at tangible benefits that economists and bureaucrats can now point to.”

Davey stressed that the primary concern from the Arts Council’s perspective was always the contribution culture makes to quality of life. “But at a time when public finances are under such pressure, it is also right to examine all the benefits that investment in arts and culture can bring – and to consider how much we can make the most effective use of that contribution.”

Greece sells gambling monopoly stake

Category : Business

Greek-Czech investment fund Emma Delta snaps up 33% of Greek gambling monopoly Opap in Greece’s first big privatisation.

Originally posted here: Greece sells gambling monopoly stake

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Ford announces entry into Burma

Category : World News

US carmaker Ford becomes the latest foreign company to announce plans to enter the Burmese market, after investment sanctions are suspended.

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Triodos gives green light to two new ethical funds

Category : Business

But choosing ‘ethical’ firms to invest in is not always as simple as ‘good’ or ‘bad’

Ethical bank Triodos is branching out into green investment with the launch of two funds. People can choose between supporting companies doing innovative work in the field of sustainability – combating climate change, encouraging healthy living and so on – or household-name brands delivering “superior social and environmental performance”.

Both funds can be held within a stocks and shares Isa, and mean more choice for those looking to invest their cash in a socially responsible way. However, Triodos looks set to spark a debate over just how “ethical” some of these companies are after it emerged that one of the funds invests in several major names that have been sharply criticised for alleged tax avoidance, including Google and Starbucks.

Netherlands-based Triodos Bank has been operating in the UK for 18 years and describes itself as “a world leader in ethical and sustainable banking”. However, this is the first time it has offered stock market-linked investments to UK small investors.

Of Triodos’s two new funds, Sustainable Pioneer is the greenest – it is a global fund investing in smaller and medium-sized companies involved in sectors such as sustainable energy and medical technology. Only those companies deriving more than 50% of their revenue from climate protection, healthy people or clean earth themes are eligible. Firms that are way ahead of the pack on corporate social responsibility will also make it in. Companies in its portfolio include beauty products firm L’Occitane, US-based natural and organic food company Annie’s and Smith & Nephew – Europe’s leading maker of artificial hips and knees.

Triodos Sustainable Equity is arguably a more “mainstream” fund, investing in companies “that combine a strong financial position with solid social and environmental performance”.

It includes plenty of the sorts of companies you might expect – natural and organic food retailer Whole Foods Market, Japan-based bicycle parts manufacturer Shimano, Canadian National Railway and several solar firms – but also some that might raise eyebrows, such as sportswear brands Adidas and Nike, car manufacturers BMW and Volkswagen, drinks giant Diageo, and a couple of banks, including Dutch group ING and National Bank of Canada.

The fund’s biggest holding is Google, whose chairman Eric Schmidt was this week defending the search engine’s tax avoidance policies after it paid just £6m in corporation tax in the UK in 2011. The second and ninth largest holdings are telecoms giant Vodafone and coffee chain Starbucks, two of the most high-profile companies caught up in the tax avoidance accusations.

But Triodos says both funds operate strict minimum standards on a variety of issues, with zero tolerance on arms, nuclear power, hazardous materials and “unconventional” oil and gas.

The funds have been available in Europe for several years and, performance-wise, the Sustainable Equity fund has done well of late, delivering a return of 14.3% over the past year. It has outperformed its benchmark over one and three years. Sustainable Pioneer delivered a return of 9.2% over the past year, but has underperformed over one, three and five years (these figures relate to a euro share class that won’t be available to UK small investors).

Until 28 June, Triodos is offering a 1% discount on the funds’ initial fee, taking it down to 3%, after which it will revert to 4%. The annual management charge is estimated as 1.25% for Sustainable Pioneer and 1% for Sustainable Equity, and the minimum investment is £1,000 per fund (there is no monthly savings option).

However, some may be disappointed to learn that Triodos has decided to launch its funds on a “direct only” basis which means that, for the time being at least, they won’t be available via online fund supermarkets and platforms operated by companies such as Hargreaves Lansdown, where you can buy and manage funds at low cost. You can go on to the bank’s website and request an application pack.

The good news, though, is that you can invest tax-free in a Triodos ethical stocks and shares Isa. If you haven’t used your Isa allowance for this year, you can invest up to £11,520 in 2013/14.

There are dozens of ethical funds to choose from. If you are thinking of taking the plunge you need to decide on your personal priorities. Secondly, do you want to pay a financial adviser to help, or do you feel confident enough to do it yourself? The Ethical Investment Association website (ethicalinvestment.org.uk) allows you to find specialist advisers in your region.

Traditional ethical funds typically use a combination of negative screens (to eliminate arms manufacturers etc) and positive screens to favour businesses with a good record on corporate social responsibility or that are involved in environmentally friendly or low-carbon industries. But, as the ongoing tax avoidance debate has shown, some would say it is not always possible to put a company into a simple “good” or “bad” box.

South Korea growth at two-year high

Category : World News

South Korea’s growth rate hits a two-year high in the first three months of the year, boosted by a rebound in construction, investment and exports.

Original post: South Korea growth at two-year high

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Partners Real Estate Investment Trust (PTSRF: OTC Link) | Management Discussion and Analysis

Category : Stocks

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 06:35 – Partners Real Estate Investment Trust (PTSRF: OTC Link) released their Management Discussion and Analysis. To read the complete report, please visit: https://www.otciq.com/otciq/ajax/showFinancialReportById.pdf?id=102967.

See the article here: Partners Real Estate Investment Trust (PTSRF: OTC Link) | Management Discussion and Analysis

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Barclays investment bank boss quits

Category : Business, World News

The head of Barclays’ investment banking business, Rich Ricci, has resigned, the bank announces.

See more here: Barclays investment bank boss quits

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Paragon Technologies, Inc. (PGNT: OTC Pink Current) | Paragon Technologies Acquires Innovative Automation

Category : Stocks

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Paragon Technologies Acquires Innovative Automation

PR Newswire

EASTON, Pa., April 18, 2013

EASTON, Pa., April 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — SI Systems, Inc., a material handling systems solutions provider and a wholly owned subsidiary of Paragon Technologies, Inc. (OTC Pink: PGNT), is pleased to announce that it has acquired Innovative Automation Inc. (“IA”), a leading provider of warehouse control systems (WCS) and warehouse management systems (WMS) solutions, based in San Diego, California.

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