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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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Spain’s Rajoy pledges to battle on

Category : Business

Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy fiercely denies corruption allegations as he pledges to battle on against Spain’s worst financial crisis in recent years.

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VIDEO: Spain PM denies corruption claim

Category : World News

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has strongly denied media claims that he and other members of the governing Popular Party received secret payments.

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Spanish party denies slush fund

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Spain’s ruling conservatives deny allegations that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and others benefited from secret party accounts.

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Spain’s economy shrinks again and remains deep in recession

Category : Business

GDP contraction of 0.7% raises doubts of government-heralded recovery as hard-up consumers continue to cut back spending

Spain’s double-dip recession worsened at the end of last year as the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy shrank dramatically in the final quarter, raising doubts over a government-heralded recovery for the end of this year.

The country’s national statistics office reported on Wednesday that the economy contracted by 0.7% as frightened and increasingly hard-up consumers continued to cut spending. It was the worst quarterly decline since the second quarter of 2009, when Spain was still in the middle of the first downturn in its double-dip.

Further government austerity and an unemployment rate of 26% both presentmajor obstacles to a return to growth predicted for this year by Mariano Rajoy’s government. The economy is now contracting at an annual rate of 1.8% and the Funcas thinktank on Wednesday estimated last year’s budget deficit at 7.3% of GDP – compared with a European Union-set target of 6.3% – before money spent on rescuing troubled banks is included. Overspending regional governments and the country’s strained social security system were to blame for the overrun, according to Funcas.

Consumer-spending, meanwhile, continues to nosedive – with retail sales falling by10% in December compared with the same month a year earlier. A VAT hike in September was partly to blame as prices rose on many goods. Rajoy’s government is trying to make the country’s economy more competitive via wagecuts, with a new law allowing companies with falling sales to offer its workers a stark choice between wage reduction and the sack. On Tuesday trade unions at Nissan’s Barcelona car factory agreed that new employees could be taken on at pay rates 20% below those now enjoyed by new workers.

The government has also announced measures to stimulate the creation of new businesses and to iron out regulatory controls erected by the country’s 17 regional governments that prevent some businesses from operating in parts of Spain. Rajoy’s hopes of engineering a recoverythis year will depend, in part, on how much public spending is cut again in 2013.

Angel Laborda,chief economist at Funcas, warned: “If we push too hard then this will have an excessively high restrictive impact on growth in aggregate demand and employment with negative consequences for the current process of cleaning up the financial sector and, in the long-term, on fiscal consolidation itself.” .

Spanish economy mired in recession

Category : Stocks

Spain’s GDP fell by 0.3% in the third quarter, amid pressure for PM Rajoy to request a bailout.

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The shape of modern Spain is being questioned | Giles Tremlett

Category : Business

Violence in Madrid captured headlines but the post-Franco democratic settlement was crumbling in Catalonia

As work crews on Wednesday cleared the debris left behind by violent clashes between police and protesters outside las Cortes, the parliament building in Madrid, Spain’s long-running crisis had definitively spilled beyond everyday politics and economics.

Tuesday night’s violence reflected a first radicalisation of protest in a country whose peaceful and plentiful indignados were the inspiration for Occupy movements from Wall Street to the City of London. Key indignado groups, indeed, had refused to back the demonstration.

But the violence, which saw 64 people injured, also showed a hardening of government policy towards protest since the election of a conservative, reformist party headed by prime minister Mariano Rajoy at the end of last year.

Even before the march, government officials had loudly claimed that protesters were troublemakers from both the left and the right.

Perhaps that is why riot police felt they could hide their identity badges – a move that protesters say proves they feel themselves to be above the law. A startling example of police culture came in a tweet from José Manuel Sánchez of the Unified Police Union (SUP). “We support them not wearing badges for violent demonstrators,” he said during the demonstration. “Give it to them hard.” Television pictures of baton charges and rubber bullets suggest they did exactly that.

Organisers had said the attempt to ring the parliament building would be peaceful, but they also clearly expected arrests. Authorities said on Wednesday they had found 260kg of rocks that had been hurled at police – not indignado behaviour.

Opposition politicians warned the protest could not be ignored. “The country is slipping out of the government’s hands,” the socialist opposition leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba said. “After yesterday’s demonstration it would be a mistake for politicians to talk only about public order.”

But while events in Madrid caught headlines, the settlement between Spaniards that has allowed them to enjoy almost four decades of democracy since the 1975 death of dictator General Francisco Franco was crumbling in a more serious fashion elsewhere.

In Barcelona it was legislators, not demonstrators, who were challenging the post-Franco settlement. Artur Mas, leader of the Catalan regional government called early elections for 25 November as politicians of all colours adapted to a game-changing demonstration for independence that brought hundreds of thousands of Catalans onto the city’s streets earlier this month.

Mas has called for Catalonia to have its own state. The upcoming elections will be seen as a plebiscite on that, however much his nationalist Convergence and Union coalition wraps itself in euphemisms and refuses to actually use the word “independence”. Once let out of its cage, the independence tiger may now prove impossible to put back – with polls showing a slim majority now in favour.

A sign of how serious the debate is was the reappearance of Spanish monarch King Juan Carlos in the political terrain. The man widely seen as the chief facilitator of modern Spanish democracy warned Catalan separatists against chasing “chimeras”.

Angry voices on the far right make more frightening noises, reminding Spaniards that the constitution calls on the army to protect the integrity of Spain – and recalling a 1934 state of war declared by the republican government after a previous sovereignty grab by Catalans.

Rajoy, meanwhile, has to worry about Spain’s recession-hit economy as it struggles with 25% unemployment. Further deterioration, worsened by government spending cuts, will see the economy shrink 3% over two years. But Spain’s deficit, of nearly 9% last year, needs to be reduced as borrowing eats up ever-larger parts of the budget.

On Thursday his government will present yet another austerity budget, this time for 2013, together with a reform package designed to prepare Spain for a probable bailout by fellow eurozone countries. On Friday a report will reveal the size of the hole blown in Spain’s banks by a housing bubble which left them awash with toxic real estate loans.

As the interest rates that markets demand for lending Spain money jumped again on Wednesday, perhaps egged on by Tuesday’s violence, a bailout looked ever more necessary.

While Rajoy is expected to turn to Europe for help, Catalan nationalists also want Europe to ease them into a new relationship with Spain that could include anything from full independence within the European Union to a new federal or bilateral arrangement.

The basic shape of modern Spain is being questioned just as membership of the euro prevents the country sorting out its problems alone. Yet Spaniards of all kinds, including Catalans, see Europe as their saviour.

EU leaders may want to take that into account when deciding how harsh bailout conditions must be for the continent’s most ardently euro-enthusiastic country.

Spain opposes bailout conditions

Category : Business

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his government will not accept conditions from outside over a possible bailout.

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Catalonia’s €5bn plea brings Spanish bailout nearer

Category : Business

Regional government seeks more from central government rescue fund as deposit flight grows throughout Spain

Spain’s attempts to stave off a full bailout were dealt a blow on Tuesday when the regional government of Catalonia said it needed €5bn (£3.97bn) from a central government rescue fund.

It came as figures showed Spanish banks saw €1 withdrawn for every €20 deposited in July – making it the worst month for deposit flight in 15 years – and Spain’s statistics institute revealed the recession was worse than thought, with the economy shrinking at an annual rate of 1.3% in the second quarter.

Catalonia is one of half a dozen regional governments shut out of markets and needing government help to roll over debt and fund budget deficits. Regions have a combined debt of €145bn, with €36bn needing to be refinanced this year.

Prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government may eventually take direct control of the region’s finances. But regional prime minister Artur Mas, of the Catalan nationalist Convergence and Union coalition, has threatened a snap election if that happens. His spokesman, Francesc Homs, rejected any “political terms” for borrowing the money.

A report by the Fedea thinktank predicts Catalonia, which accounts for one fifth of the economy, will miss the 1.5% deficit target set this year, with an expected 2.5% deficit making it the second-worst performing region. Revised figures showed the Spanish recession started three months earlier than previously indicated. “The data shows the recession started in the third quarter of last year,” secretary of state for the economy, Fernando Jiménez, admitted.

“The downturn in the Spanish economy is deeper than previously thought and accelerating,” warned Robert O’Daly of the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Unemployment is already at 25% but the speed at which jobs are disappearing quickened to an average rate of 800,000 jobs a year in the second quarter, according to the statistics institute.

European council president Herman Van Rompuy said on Tuesday it was up to Spain to decide whether to seek eurozone help, after meeting Rajoy in Madrid. Rajoy repeated that he needed more details from the European Central Bank to help him decide.

Sources at the Bank of Spain claimed the sudden drop in deposits was mostly due to banks withdrawing money placed with other entities, but the fall came amid growing consumer anger with retail banks. Tens of thousands of small savers are set to be hit with losses on preference shares they bought in former savings banks that now need bailing out by the eurozone’s rescue fund.

Spanish banks can take up to €100bn (£79.7bn) from the fund, but preference shareholders must first bear losses of up to 80%. Many savers who bought the shares thought they were risk-free deposits from high street banks.

Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank, abruptly withdrew from delivering a speech in the US next weekend, citing pressure of work as he prepares two important moves on the euro crisis.

Draghi was due to speak at the annual economic policymaking elite gathering at Jackson Hole in Wyoming on Saturday before an audience of global central bankers. But he is preparing to unveil controversial moves next week aimed at pushing down the costs of borrowing for Spain and Italy by launching ECB bond-buying interventions in the financial markets, a policy bitterly criticised by Germany’s powerful Bundesbank.

Draghi is also engaged in behind-the-scenes politicking over the shape and powers of a new eurozone bank supervision authority. A few days after Draghi announces the bond-buying policy, following an ECB governing council meeting next week, the European commission is to deliver proposals for the new eurozone bank regulator, calling for the ECB to be given extensive new powers as the key supervisory authority.

Jörg Asmussen, the German member of the ECB’s six-strong executive who has co-drafted the bond-buying scheme for Draghi, disclosed on Monday some of the conditions required to trigger ECB action.

The ECB will intervene in the secondary markets to buy bonds with short maturities, he said, but only if the eurozone’s bailout funds first became active in the primary markets – in other words directly buying up distressed government bonds.

That introduces a strong element of politics and likely delays since eurozone governments and finance ministers will need to decide to use the bailout funds before ECB action is triggered.

Any country benefiting from the bond-buying would need to request a bailout and succumb to eurozone terms, situations that Rajoy and his Italian counterpart, Mario Monti, are anxious to avoid.

Asmussen also made clear the ECB was keen to be granted the new banking supervisory powers, but warned the commission in Brussels it would only take on the role on its terms.

“The ECB is ready to accept this responsibility, but under certain conditions,” he said. “The ECB has to be given all the instruments needed to carry out the tasks of bank supervision effectively. In particular, that means access to all the necessary information, intervention rights and the right to close down non-viable banks.

“Without these minimum tools, the ECB will not take on the responsibility. The risk to the reputation of the institution would be too

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Eurozone crisis live: Spanish PM delays decision on bailout

Category : Business

Rajoy says he wants to know what the ECB’s ‘non-conventional measures’ will be before he takes a decision on whether to request aid

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Spanish cabinet discusses budget

Category : World News

Spain’s implied cost of borrowing remains above 7% as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy submits his budget plans to the European Commission.

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