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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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Letters: Why Milton is not spinning in his grave over press regulation

Category : Business

Your editorial (No cause for hyperventilating, 18 March) doubts that “John Milton will be spinning in his grave” over current rows about press freedom. Of course he isn’t: he was Cromwell’s censor. In the Areopagitica, the great phrase is “as good almost kill a man as kill a good book”. The crucial adjective is “good”, and he was quite happy to determine what could be so described and burn the rest.

The turning corpse we should be worrying about is Sir Roger L’Estrange, the last statutory censor of the press – “Surveyor of the Imprimie”. He must be cheering. A fervent royalist, L’Estrange believed “it is the Press that has made ‘um Mad, and the Press must set ‘um Right again” and was therefore also licensed to be a monopolistic news publisher. So, if we are turning back the clock, how long before we do it properly and appoint Rupert Murdoch (or his front-person) by royal charter “Surveyor of the Media”?
Brian Winston
University of Lincoln

• Implementing the Leveson proposals is not an issue of whether we have a “free” or a “shackled” press. The papers that are complaining are privately owned, and the notion that they are edited without any influence from the companies that own them is for the birds. Nor is there any proposal to shackle them: it is simply to do what self-regulation has repeatedly failed to do and set out a framework that will require them to behave responsibly.

Claims that the terms proposed would have prevented the Daily Mail’s challenge to those it accused of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, or the Daily Telegraph’s exposé of the expenses scandal are disingenuous: neither would have been realistically threatened. On the other hand, the Sun might well have taken the trouble to investigate its assertions about the victims of the Hillsborough disaster more carefully.
Ian Roberts
Baildon, West Yorkshire

• Those of us who watched the Leveson inquiry day after day were satisfied when the politicians admitted that they had been too close to the owners and editors of newspapers. It was agreed there would have to be changes. Then, after the publication of the inquiry report, one of the most open examinations of public life, politicians and the newspapers went private. Both having been found guilty, they were left to decide away from the public gaze what part of the sentence suited them.
John Grist

• Why all this talk about newspapers opting into regulation or failing to opt in (Newspaper groups threaten boycott if Tories back down over press regulator, 18 March)? We can’t opt out of regulations about how we drive our motor cars just because we think we ought to be able to drive faster or reckon it costs too much to insure them.
Kevin McGrath

• May I thank the Lib Dems for standing firm and sticking to principle to help force David Cameron to do what is right for once, rather than what is politically expedient for the Conservatives and their puppet masters?
Michael Miller

Whichever way the Leveson vote goes, it’s poison

Category : Business

The whole sorry saga of press regulation has been undermined by hidden agendas

There has been too much hate, and it has undermined the whole point of the exercise whichever way Monday’s votes go. Tabloid journalists hate upmarket journalists, and both are variously hated in turn by struggling editors in our regional press. Broadcasters hate print journalists; and vice versa. Ed and Nick hate David, and vice versa. Hacks hate lawyers, grubbing for fees. The campaigners of Hacked Off – many of them much richer, courtesy of Rupert Murdoch’s £100m compensation fund – want their pound of flesh come what may. Increasingly, ministers and shadow ministers hate taking their hectoring calls. And – remind me again – what was the point of the whole Leveson parade? To restore trust, public trust, in the press. Forget it.

Our politicians – the ones Lord Justice Leveson wanted removed from the action – can’t find common ground. It’s far easier to slag off opponents and play wrecking games. The press – never a cohesive industry anyway – hasn’t been allowed to get its own act together and so has inevitably fractured into its component parts of mutual resentment. And there is no realistic way forward here.

If Cameron and his Conservatives win through, they’ll be broad-brush denounced by Labour, Lib Dems, the serried victims and their lawyers. Since “statutory underpinning”, in its shorthand, barely understood way, has become the litmus test of proper regulation in the public mind, any body that fails to include it upfront – even this commodiously detailed charter – will automatically be scorned as a press barons’ pleaser, a fudge, a catalogue of supposed betrayal. The corrosion of hate.

But if Ed and Nick carry the day for their charter version, then what? Goodbye to relatively speedy answers. Hello to what’s called “full” Leveson implementation – except that Sir Brian never delivered a full bundle of answers himself. The most vexatious issues – intrinsically asking what “independence” means in a quangoid Britain where the same cast of great and good characters, retired judges, retired permanent secretaries, Oxbridge dignitaries, shift sweetly from one padded committee seat to the next – weren’t addressed. To underpin real press support for a new self-regulator, you have first to decide what exactly that body is, who appoints it, how it can be vetted and kept up to the mark. But consensus there (as built by Lord Hunt at the residual Press Complaints Commission) will fracture as hate poisons civilised discussion.

Hunt’s timetable (a new organisation up and running by 1 July) won’t endure if Miliband and Clegg have their way, because much of his plan can’t realistically survive Cameron defeat. Why should the local press saddle itself with the cost of arbitration tribunals when it has done nothing wrong? Why should the press as a whole pay for regulation by a commission it has no real say in appointing, administering a code it has no clear say in drawing up?

Miliband victory opens the door to two wholly unwelcome things: many more months of threat and disillusion – or a simple refusal to go any further, leaving parliament to devise and install its own statutory press regulation regime if it so wishes: an Ofpress to match Ofcom. There have always been voices on newspaper backbenches saying leave regulation to the law itself, to articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, just as the US relies on its first amendment. They may be heard again as this miserable row snarls on.

The problem, from beginning to end of this sad, sliding saga, has lain with the poison of hidden agendas. It began intrinsically when the politicians of 65 years ago, used to the deference of wartime censorship, sought to put a newly unruly press back in its box. It has gathered a whole sub-industry of specialist lawyers serving their own needs along the way. The press sees exposing political crookery as one of its jobs. The politicians – read the new Bribery Act that would surely have stopped the Daily Telegraph’s investigation of MPs expenses – have a different job in mind. Was Leveson’s array of victimhood presented as current, transparent and fair? The latest round of arrests, covering alleged events in 2003-4, come coated with dust yet again.

There could, without Leveson, have been a substantial remaking of press self-regulation long since. There could, with a little statesmanship from the politicians, have been an agreement that had some chance of short-term success (until sabotaged by the galloping internet). But it’s precious hard to see even modestly durable hope now. You can’t restore trust if you don’t trust anyone around you.

French Minister: ECB Must Do More for Jobless

Category : Business, Stocks

PARIS — A French official says the European Central Bank is shirking its responsibilities toward Europe’s unemployed and should do more to weaken the euro to help exports.

Industrial Recovery Minister Arnaud Montebourg’s comments go against a custom that politicians not meddle in the ECB’s work.

Montebourg told Europe 1 radio Sunday: “It’s not dealing with growth. It’s not taking care of the unemployed. It’s not taking care of the European people. And it has a duty to do so.”

The rest is here: French Minister: ECB Must Do More for Jobless

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France denies state ‘bankruptcy’

Category : Business

France’s politicians defend the state of its economy after Labour Minister Michel Sapin described the state as “totally bankrupt”.

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El-Erian: Two sides to the platinum coin

Category : Business, Stocks

The unusual move of minting a large platinum coin might shock politicians into cleaning up the fiscal mess. But the rest of the world may see it as inflationary.

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Italian political tensions cause market jitters

Category : Business

Eurozone crisis threatens to flare up again as outgoing Italian prime minister Mario Monti holds talks with centrist politicians

The eurozone crisis threatened to flare up again on Thursday as outgoing Italian prime minister Mario Monti held talks with centrist politicians over the agenda for reform which he published on Christmas Eve.

Some analysts believe Monti could assemble a coalition for next February’s general election, setting up a battle with his predecessor Silvio Berlusconi.

The Vatican’s newspaper, Osservatore Romano, offered support for Monti, saying his message was “an appeal to recover the higher and more noble sense of politics that is … to take care of the common good”.

But Berlusconi attacked Monti’s performance, saying on Rai 1′s Unomattina TV programme that pressure from European countries, particularly Germany, had “crushed” Monti’s technocratic administration. The head of Italy’s centre-right People of Liberty party also attempted to woo the Italian public by pledging to abolish a property tax introduced since he left office.

Jens Weidmann, the president of Germany’s Bundesbank, warned Italian politicians that the country could not afford to stray from the reform path taken by Monti during his 13 months in power. Weidmann told the business news magazine Wirtschaftswoche that any deviation would be “disastrous”.

“Italy suffers from low growth, low productivity and lack of innovation. But under the Monti government Italy has set ambitious goals for reform in order to regain the confidence of investors, and had success with it,” said Weidmann.

He said eurozone leaders “must not underestimate the distance ahead” before the region’s debt crisis is resolved.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble was more upbeat. “I think the worst is behind us,”he said, arguing that European leaders had realised during 2012 that they must push on with economic reforms to maintain competitiveness.

With Germany also heading to the polls next year, Schäuble claimed conditions in Europe’s largest economy were “better than expected”.

In Spain, though, small shareholders who invested in Bankia when it floated in 2011 were warned that their stakes would be virtually wiped out when the bank is recapitalised. Spain’s bank rescue fund has calculated that Bankia, which was riddled with toxic property debts, has a negative value of €4.2bn. New capital is expected from the EU, possibly on Friday, but the price will be borne by an estimated 350,000 domestic investors.

The news came as Spanish healthcare workers held more protests on Thursday against plans to privatise some hospitals and health centres in the latest signal of opposition to Spain’s austerity programme.

The tensions in Europe, combined with the ongoing fiscal cliff deadlock in Washington, made for a jittery day for those City workers who returned to their desks after the Christmas break. After initially rallying, the FTSE 100 fell back to end the day unchanged as traders grew more nervous about the situation in America.

An early sell-off in New York wiped 100 points off the Dow Jones at one stage, and came after Japan’s Nikkei closed at its highest level in 21 months. Japanese investors were encouraged by a pledge from the country’s new government to battle deflation and kickstart the economy through new stimulus measures.

In the foreign exchange markets, the pound fell to a two-month low against a basket of currencies. Traders said fears over the UK economy were hitting sterling.

US Republicans cancel tax vote

Category : Business, World News

US Republicans drop their own proposal for tax reform before it reaches a Congress vote, leaving politicians struggling to avoid a fiscal crisis.

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Huawei denies US ‘threat’ claims

Category : World News

Chinese telecoms firm Huawei hits back at report by American politicians which claims it is a security threat.

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EADS warns against state action

Category : World News

EADS boss Tom Enders urges politicians not to interfere in his company’s proposed $45bn (£28bn) merger with BAE Systems.

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EADS chief faces German parliament over BAE merger plans

Category : Business

Tom Enders will be asked to reassure politicians that the £29bn merger will not lead to job cuts, threaten national security or shortchange German shareholders

The chief executive of the defence and aerospace firm EADS will be called before Germany’s parliament on Wednesday as concerns about its planned merger with BAE Systems continued to worry Europe.

Tom Enders, head of the Franco-German company, who is a former German paratrooper, will be asked to reassure politicians that the £29bn merger will not lead to job cuts, threaten national security, or shortchange German shareholders.

The political grilling comes after Germany’s government called for the terms of the £29bn deal to be altered in EADS’ favour, and listed a string of concerns.

Germany’s economic ministry called the 60:40 split “incorrect” and requested it be changed to “closer to 70:30″.

Investment bankers, who stand to collect almost £50m in fees if the deal goes ahead, are also said to be privately fighting over the terms. One EADS adviser told Reuters: “The ratio could be changed up to three percentage points in favour of EADS.” Each firm denied there were any formal discussions to change the ratio.

The politically sensitive deal will be discussed by British, French and German defence ministers in Cyprus on Wednesday or Thursday. The UK government has begun an inquiry into the deal to examine the impact on British jobs and exports, and any potential threat to national security. Under British takeover rules the companies have until 10 October to submit merger proposals or request an extension. Defence analysts said they expected the firms to submit outline details before the deadline but warned that of political wrangling over terms and ringfencing of nationally sensitive projects to continue over months to come.

“This is very, very, early days. Politicians are broadly relaxed this is moving in the right direction, despite comments,” said Howard Wheeldon, director of policy at the arms industry trade body ADS. “They will have to go to shareholders and governments and truly convince them of valuation and strategy.

“It comes down to how the national interests of each country are going to be protected and what each country is going to demand [in] the deal.”

Germany, via Daimler, and France, via direct state holdings and the industrial group Lagardère, hold a 22.225% stake each in EADS. SEPI in Spain owns just over 5%. Those stakes would be reduced in line with the 60:40 split ratio giving the national governments much less power over the combined company.

Britain does not have an equity stake in BAE but holds a “golden share”, meaning it can block deals on security grounds. BAE and EADS are suggesting that the French and German governments are also awarded “golden shares” in the combined company.

As well as securing the agreements of European leaders, BAE and EADS will also have to persuade American politicians to support the deal.

BAE holds a “special security arrangement” with the Pentagon that allows it to work on some of America’s biggest, most sensitive, security projects, including the $1.5 trillion F-35 joint strike fighter programme.

BAE is only able to hold this special status because it has set up an American subsidiary run by security-cleared US citizens at arms’ length from its UK headquarters.

EADS also has such an arrangement but it is not as extensive as that held by BAE and it does not allow the Franco-German company as much access.

The US air force secretary, Michael Donley, said the US defence department needed more details to be able to assess the security implications of the proposed tie-up.

There is a concern that BAE’s SSA could be downgraded if the deal went ahead.

Sources close to BAE said the company would pull out of the deal if there was no way to maintain the high-grade SSA.