The market for low-cost smartphones in India
Visit link: India gets low-cost smartphone boost
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The market for low-cost smartphones in India
Visit link: India gets low-cost smartphone boost
Fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach says yields may be painfully low now, but they may go even lower so investors should get in now.
See the rest here: Fund manager: Now’s the time to buy bonds
There’s been a lending bonanza, yet investors see dangers in low priced junk bonds.
Read more: Waiting for the bond bubble to pop
The low pay of Bangladeshis making clothes for the West
Read this article: Textile workers’ deaths ‘avoidable’
The number of five-year fixes has increased 73% in the past year as two-year deals lose popularity with mortgage borrowers
Would you fix your mortgage for five years, seven or even 10? A few years ago the vast majority of people would have said no, opting instead for a cheaper, shorter-term two-year deal. But the tide has turned and increasing numbers of borrowers want the certainty of a longer-term commitment, say brokers – and lenders are offering more, and better, deals.
Tomorrow HSBC is launching the lowest ever five-year fixed rate at 2.49% for those with a 40% deposit or the equivalent equity (be warned; the fee is a whopping £2,000).
This is the first time a five-year fix has dropped below 2.5% – but it’s not just HSBC getting in on the act. In the last year, the number of five-year fixed-rate deals has increased by 73%, says data provider Moneyfacts. By comparison, the traditionally popular two-year fixes have only increased by 33%.
Sylvia Waycot, editor at moneyfacts.co.uk said: “Five-year fixed-rate mortgages have traditionally been a bit too expensive to be the first choice for most of us. However, thanks to lenders enjoying cheap loans from the government this is changing.”
The government announced last week that it is extending its Funding for Lending scheme, which has been widely credited with bringing mortgage rates down for borrowers.
Experts believe rates on all mortgage terms could become more competitive in the year ahead. So, with all these cheap deals around, should you look to fix at all and if so, for how long?
Borrowers deciding whether to fix will undoubtedly want to take into account the widespread speculation that interest rates are unlikely to rise any time soon. “Our view is that we won’t see a rise in the 0.5% base rate until 2016,” says Rob Harbron, economist from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). “Expectations for continued low rates are a result of our outlook for the economy – weak growth conditions are expected to remain the ‘new normal’ for the next few years.”
Economist Ian Kernohan from Royal London Asset Management adds that as the UK is still in post-crisis recovery mode, this means disappointing growth and low interest rates for at least a few years. “We have pencilled in the first rate rise for late 2015 at the very earliest,” he says.
Martin Ellis, housing economist at the Halifax, adds that as interest rates look set to remain at the same level for the rest of the year, this offers a compelling reason for some borrowers to stay on tracker rates.
“However, a fix provides absolute certainty about the cost of monthly repayments,” he says.
Robin Barter, 44, and his wife, Tracey, 46, are among those who have just remortgaged on to a five-year fix for the first time. The couple live in a four-bedroom house in Oxfordshire with their three children: Scott, nine, Luke, seven, and Hugh, four.
Prior to remortgaging, the Barters had held tracker mortgages with Halifax for 14 years but have now switched to NatWest. “Initially, I thought we’d go for another tracker, as I’m familiar with this kind of deal,” says Robin, an account director. “But when we contacted broker London & Country, they came back with the same conclusion that I was starting to reach, that in the current economic climate we’d be better on a fix.
“Given that the base rate is only going to go up at some point, we decided to go for a five-year fix with NatWest.”
This was priced at 2.99% and came with a £995 fee; the deal also offered both free valuation and legal work. “Locking into a low five-year fix now gives us peace of mind that our payments are protected for longer,” says Robin.
“It also means we won’t have to pay fees to remortgage again in a few years, as we would with a shorter deal.”
For some borrowers, choosing a rock-bottom mortgage rate may be a false economy, according to Andrew Montlake from broker Coreco.
“Having to remortgage and pay high arrangement fees every two years may not be the best way to go,” he says.
“For example, while borrowers may like the sound of HSBC’s two-year fix at 1.89%, at up to 60% loan-to-value (LTV), the fee of £1,999 adds roughly 0.5% to the rate spread over the two years. As a result, Norwich & Peterborough’s fix with a slightly higher rate of 1.99% at up to 60% LTV and a fee of £995 could be a better option over two years.” The key is to factor in the product fee as well as the headline rate. “This will determine whether you are better off paying a higher fee and taking the very lowest rate, or opting for a slightly higher rate with a lower arrangement fee,” says Montlake.
With little expectation of the base rate climbing in the near term, brokers say borrowers are increasingly turning to deals that protect their payments for longer than two years.
After the new HSBC five-year fix, the lowest on rate alone is Yorkshire building society at 2.59% at 60% LTV. Again, this comes with a £1,475 fee. Norwich & Peterborough building society has a five-year fix at 2.74% at 60% LTV with a much lower fee of
As election looms, Labour promises tax breaks for firms that offer living wage
Labour would offer tax breaks to persuade the private sector to pay a living wage as a way to boost productivity and cut welfare bills, Ed Miliband will propose on Saturday.
The Labour leader suggests that firms could be offered either tax reliefs on training or capital investment, or lower business rates, in return for paying the living wage.
Speaking to the Guardian on a campaign tour in advance of Thursday’s local elections, the Labour leader said: “Living wage zones would work for everyone – the people who get decent pay, the employers who get a more committed workforce and the government that saves money on credits.” He said the proposal was a labour market reform that tackled in-work poverty and lifted productivity without boosting the welfare bill.
Dismissing the language of “scroungers and skivers” used by some on the right, he said he wanted “responsibility for everyone to look for work and … compassion for those that cannot find work”.
He added: “I am not going to try to divide the country on welfare.”
The independent thinktank the Institute for Fiscal Studies has calculated that for every pound spent paying the living wage, the Treasury saves 50p through not needing to pay tax credits and benefits.
The shadow Treasury team is now looking at the level of incentives needed to get employers to take up the scheme, and whether living wage zones could be established in industry sectors or geographical areas where a critical mass of employers are prepared to pay the living wage.
The measures are being considered as part of the Labour policy review, which is looking at a range of welfare reforms ranging from a compulsory jobs guarantee for the long-term unemployed, to restoring the contributory principle in some areas and switching housing benefit spending to house building.
Miliband said: “We are not going to be able to tackle the problem of in-work poverty through the tax credit system alone. It is a about changing the way the labour market works, using the power of government, making work pay and doing it in a way that gives the private sector real incentives. We have had enterprise zones. We can have living wage zones.”
He said: “Twelve councils are now living wage employers and there are a 17 further in the pipeline. These councils are not only paying their staff the living wage, but also requiring the same of their contractors. We want to extend this progress.”
The living wage is currently set at £7.45 per hour outside London and £8.55 in the capital. There are 200 employers accredited with the living wage campaign. The statutory minimum wage is £6.19.
The Resolution Foundation thinktank has calculated that if all those currently on the minimum wage received the living wage there would be a £2.2bn net saving to the public sector including higher income tax and national insurance receipts.
Miliband said he wanted to see local councils mandated to approach larger private sector employers to help create living wage zones.
He said: “It would be in central government’s interest to get private sector employers over the hump to pay the living wage, so local councils could offer temporary rate subsidies or extra cash for training.
“The money would come from savings to the Treasury through lower tax credit payouts. It’s an incredibly exciting idea since it is a way of persuading private sector there is a real incentive to pay the living wage.
“Employers might say at present this is just a cost to us but if we can show how they will benefit then that attitude changes. There is also increasing evidence that living wage employees are more productive and committed.”
He added: “The whole living wage idea has come up from the grassroots. It has not come from the thinktanks. It is an example of the kind of politics that I want.”
The idea is partly inspired by Arnie Graff the Baltimore-based community activist now working for the Labour party.
His aides said: “Low and stagnating pay is fast becoming a national crisis. In-work poverty has risen by 20% in the last decade and now stands at 6.1 million living in low-income households. Average wages have fallen since 2008, and the number of low wage, low skill jobs is expected to grow.” Miliband, under renewed pressure over lack of policy specifics, has recently been buffeted by the aftermath of Lady Thatcher’s death, unsolicited advice from Tony Blair and warnings from his biggest union backer that he will be consigned to the dustbin of history if he continues to take advice from Blairites such as the shadow defence Jim Murphy.
The Labour leader insisted he is energised by campaigning – making speeches in market squares on a pallet, not he insists a soapbox, the oratorical weapon of John Major. He said: “My biggest enemy is the people that say you politicians are all the same and governments cannot do things.”
On Friday, he was forced in Chesterfield market square by a passing pensioner to make a public vow that if elected he will speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing the truth. Miliband said there is a terrible wall of cynicism out there, adding that Angela Eagle, the shadow leader of the House has just started a public inquiry into political disengagement.
He also insisted he was not on the wrong side of the welfare argument. He said: “I am incredibly confident of our position on welfare. We are in the right place. For the 230,000 young people aged under 25 unemployed for more than a year, or older people unemployed for more than two years, we guarantee you a job at the minimum wage, but you have to take the offer. It’s a clear message that you have got a responsibility to work.
“At the same time I am not going to join George Osborne in saying anyone out of work is a skiver and a scrounger. Personally, I don’t even think it works for them [the Tories]. I don’t think my party is divided over this.
“I want responsibility for everyone to look for work and I want compassion for those that cannot find work. I am not going to try to divide the country on welfare.”
He said he supported benefit caps set regionally since housing benefit, a large part of welfare income, has to reflect regional housing costs. “If the government is so confident about the national cap, why are they not implementing it across the country, instead of some regions?
“The fact is that for all their heavy rhetoric we will be spending more on welfare at the end of this parliament in real terms than at the beginning,” he said.
Asked if he recognised himself as the most leftwing leader of Labour since Michael Foot he said: “I am firmly in the political centre ground, and I am addressing issues that go back decades. For the Brown and Blair generation, it looked like the Thatcher settlement had worked for most people. So Blair for totally understandable reasons was largely not about challenging the social settlement.
“For this generation looking back it becomes blindingly obvious that the Thatcher economic settlement did not work. We have an insecure labour market, wages falling and an economy only working for those at the top.
“We are about creating a different kind of economy for the future. Cameron is almost the business as usual candidate. That is why I think the ball is at our feet and it is our election to win.”
TIVERTON, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – April 13, 2013) - Today, for the first time in two decades, all four units at Bruce A supplied clean, low-cost electricity to the people of Ontario, with the return to service of Unit 4.
Continue reading here: Bruce Power: Unit 4 Returns to Service