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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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Morning business round-up

Category : Business, World News

Our daily morning business round-up looks at the main stories in Europe and Asia.

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The Fig Tree Foundation is Hosting the "As We See It" Photo Exhibit to Showcase Photography of Issues, People and Communities in the Developing World and Images and Stories from…

Category : Stocks, World News

…International Development and Aid Organizations

The “As We See It” Photo Exhibit is an event to visually engage the public through photography and through stories that highlight and encourage discussion of issues happening in the developing world. This is a free public exhibit held April 4 – 28, 2013.

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Breadline Britain: giving voice to the seldom heard | Peter Gordon

Category : Business

Why I spent six months documenting the daily struggle and its effects among the marginalised in Yorshire and the north-east

The film-maker Peter Gordon on his six months filming on the frontline with Britain’s poor:

For a long time I have wanted to find ways of making films about those voices I felt were seldom heard in mainstream broadcast media: the disadvantaged, the excluded or marginalised.

I wanted to ask people to think aloud, to hear them talk in their own words about how living in poverty, struggling to make ends meet, affected their lives. How does the daily grind of staying afloat affect your horizons, what does it do to the aspirations you may have for yourself or your children?

The first germ of an idea for this series began for me just after the last election when the new coalition government announced their plans for a spending review.

I wanted to get behind the politics, the news and the statistics and find the families and individuals who would be prepared to let me look into their lives and listen to their stories. What emerged were six short films, each a miniature portrait of life lived on the breadline, made through the Guardian, who took my idea to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation for funding.

The Guardian’s view was there were stories that needed telling and organisations that wanted to get those stories out there. We decided to give the major broadcasters a miss. Although good documentaries still have a place there, they are becoming few and far between, and I suspect the words “marginalised”, “excluded” or “poverty” would have had a commissioning editor’s eyes glazing over after about 90 seconds. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation ran with the idea immediately, and agreed to allow me and the Guardian to tell the stories just as we found them.

They had only one request – that I take my camera outside London and the Westminster village. Rowntree’s home is Yorkshire and north-east England and that’s where we went.

There was certainly no shortage of stories here that fitted the remit. Finding the right ones with the right people was more difficult. The first thing that struck me was the general wariness, bordering on suspicion of, and sometimes hostility towards, the media. The people I filmed were tired of stereotyping, misrepresentation, ignorance or bias.

The second was a contempt for the politicians, a feeling that they are out of touch with the lives of ordinary people. This may sound as obvious as the almost uniform dislike of bankers but when you hear it from people who on a daily basis are struggling to keep their heads above water, it has real resonance.

For me, the filming experience was an odd mixture of conflicting feelings. Often I would come away feeling depressed at the way lives are hemmed in physically, mentally and emotionally, meeting people whose horizons are lowered sometimes to the point of real despair. But at the same time there was often a feeling of admiration observing the resilience, and determination of those I filmed to lift themselves or their children out of poverty and into a better life.

I think of Fran Moss and her daughter Niamh, living in one of the most deprived areas of Leeds in a house whose fabric is falling apart. Niamh, without telling her mother, applied for entry to fee-paying Leeds grammar school and won one of only two bursaries. This is her way out of a life with no future and Fran, who suffers from epilepsy, recognises this, fully supporting her but at great personal cost, pawning jewellery, using loan sharks and worrying about Niamh losing touch with her roots. Their struggle is felt every day in the way they live their lives but the way they talk about their situation is heartfelt, perceptive and amusing.

A mile or so up the road, on another Leeds estate, lives Charlotte, a young single parent with two children. When I began filming with her she talked to me about her early ambitions and the frustration she felt. Charlotte dreamed of one day being able to afford “a leg of lamb with all the trimmings and condiments”. She told me that the meeting group for young mothers organised by a local charity that she regularly used to attend had become the victim of funding cuts. She felt isolated, trapped, but there was not a shred of self-pity in the way she spoke. She looked ahead, felt ambitious and was determined to succeed as a working mother.

I remember young, angry and unemployed Liam, the struggling but hard-working Bano family or the Sheffield lunch club where the elderly in the area can go for an hour or two for a meal and some company: poor reward for a life of such hard physical labour.

I think of all these people talking to me in their sitting-rooms and kitchens, in the four walls of their homes. I asked them to put their thoughts into words and now I see that the very interior feel that the films have is a reflection of the intimacy and intensity of the way people told me their stories as much as the way their lives are physically constrained by their situation.

But what I see most of all when I think of everyone who so generously agreed to take part in this project is a vast ocean of unused or wasted talent and missed opportunities. And I wonder how we could let this happen.

Journalism once had Woodward and Bernstein. Now it’s guns for hire

Category : Business

As investigative staff reporters are cut, the hunt for exclusives is outsourced – which is how Newsnight got into trouble

Do you want to be Woodward, a Bernstein – or maybe just wish you’d joined the hallowed Sunday Times Insight team? For the problem of investigative journalism is, in part, a problem created by journalists themselves, too hooked on legends for their own good.

Of course newspapers (not to mention Newsnight) are short on staff and resources. Of course some investigations demand a particular acumen and technical knowledge. And of course many need patience, time and money. But occasionally (Newsnight again) the cure can be as dangerous as the disease.

See how contagion has spread over the last decade … American chain papers, anxious to keep Wall Street happy, start to fret as their share price slides. They hack away at editorial budgets, then demand more “productivity” from reporters who remain. What goes out of the window first? Investigations of weighty public interest run by “investigative journalists”. So those men and women, deprived of the means to practise their craft, band together to form not-for-profit (ie, basically charitable) units able to turn over stones. There are now 75 of them in the US, with a total staffing of about 1,300 and an annual budget touching $135m.

How could anybody find fault with that? Well, it’s gently possible in a number of ways. Some of the more local American models, for instance, feature boards of trustees from enterprises that might themselves need investigating: the conflictions of success. And all of them comfort the absolutely-for-profit merchants, providing an easy excuse for dereliction of duty. But as long as the units – and Britain’s own, now controversial, Bureau of Investigative Journalism – are seen as enhancement, not replacement, they’re welcome enough.

Slightly less welcome is how they divorce investigation from the wider teamwork of producing a newspaper or TV news show. Reporters who think of themselves as “investigative” like to do their own Lone Ranger thing, untroubled by newsdesk demands. They can get deeply enmeshed in the story they’re following and fail to see it whole. An editor, asking questions, can come to seem more bureaucratic hindrance than help.

In short, in a world sometimes long on adrenalin, there are always potential command-and-control problems, and they don’t get any easier when very separate operations share secrets or borrow staff. Investigative journalists, after all, are basically good reporters looking for a good story, like those who sit in the office around them. The word “investigative” doesn’t describe those stories, merely (in general) the methods used to obtain them. The methods may be fast or slow, instinctive or lugubrious; the stories themselves sensational or dauntingly complicated.

Why should serious news operations concerned about the public interest and sundry fine things want to outsource the best means they have of finding the exclusive stories that build reputation and success? Why should BBC News, with 2,000 journalists of its own, invite the complications of outside involvement? It works smoothly for channels that commission the news they put on air – C4′s 55 minutes for Jon Snow, for instance – but the great maw of Broadcasting House is a far different thing, and attempting to edit its more perilous tales by climbing up and down long ladders of referral, where nobody notices when rungs are missing and nobody has actually seen all the evidence first-hand, is disaster waiting to happen.

And now? The bureau will only survive if it finds the funds to keep going. Alexander Lebedev’s parallel Journalism Foundation hasn’t, and will close after only a year. Let’s hope that the whole idea, stripped of its portent and piety, doesn’t die, too. Yet remember: it is only one idea among many, and the need to find out more comes best, and most overwhelmingly, from inside every reporter on every job, not from “exclusives” for sale at the shop down the road.

■ One name distinctly not in the frame to rescue the BBC now is its former rescuer-in-chief, Mark Byford, who acted as emergency director general for five months in 2004 after Greg Dyke’s abrupt exit, then served as Mark Thompson’s deputy until voluntary redundancy carried him away last year. Few tears were shed as Byford packed up. “There he was,” sniffed the Guardian, “a grey man with a job for life, half a million pounds in salary and, because he’d been there so long, an uncapped two-thirds final salary pension and no obvious market rate to justify such riches. It was very easy to put the question … who else would pay Mark Byford £500,000 and for what?”

But maybe that question answers itself rather more easily today. Byford was in reality the BBC “editor-in-chief” that anxious trustees want now when they talk about splitting up the “impossible job” of DG. A pettifogging royal charter may not allow actual title splits until 2016, but it’s jobs – not titles – that matter here. And once you begin parcelling out roles rather than wrapping them together in a single nightmare bundle, it gets rather easier to find George Entwistle’s successor.

Roger Mosey, master of Olympic revels and former head of TV news, is the safest pair of hands in sight. Put him in the chair Byford left empty and there’s infinitely more scope to recruit a director general who (like the current stand-in Tim Davie, ex-Procter and Gamble) isn’t a journalist but appears to know how to run an organisation. Why wasn’t David Abraham, the very smart top man at Channel 4, in the frame for the Entwistle round? Because he came up an advertising and TV production route, no news included. But if you answer the news question first, other answers automatically follow. Back to the Byford future? Sometimes grey – in any of 50 shades – is the colour you need.

■ Just 0.9% of the British public think more press regulation is a priority; 71% don’t want any new laws and restrictions; only 7% want an existing media offence dealt with. Or so the pollsters at Survation report to the Free Speech Network. But surely polls for Hacked Off show something different? Indeed: as ever, it’s timing and the framing of the questions that count. And short memories. Already 55% are more concerned about Savile cover-ups.

If the Huffington Post clicks, a trail will have at last been blazed

Category : Business

A new survey puts the HuffPo top for Facebook interactions with stories – and it’s an online product that makes a (modest) profit. Is this the future?

There’s only one maxim now for worried news website watchers: keep clicking to the Huffington Post. If it can achieve stable, lasting prosperity, then a yellow brick road stretches ahead.

NewsWhip, the Dublin-based tracker of social media progress, has just compiled a new chart of “Facebook interactions” – for these purposes, stories from more than 5,000 English-language news sources that got liked, shared or commented on by more than 100 people during September. One fresh test of news engagement. And the winner, with 2,531 such stories, is the HuffPo (with Mail Online coming second at 1,715 stories).

There’s plenty to wave a UK flag over in these results. The Guardian and the BBC are in the top six, as well as the Mail. But there’s no disguising the HuffPo’s dominance. And the question, as the blessed Arianna piles on more sites across the globe, along with staff and costs, is how her figures will measure up to such social success. She was last reported in modest profit (after long years of loss). She sits now within the greater, but troubled, AOL

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The business week in pictures

Category : Business

The biggest business stories of the week … in pictures

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Marks & Spencer jumps 2% on renewed bid talk while FTSE slips on profit taking

Category : Business

Reports of bankers lining up Marks as a target lift retailer’s shares

Summer seems to be here so it’s time for a bit of bid speculation, this time surrounding Marks & Spencer.

As markets take a breather after Friday’s rises on the back of better than expected US jobs data, the retailer is heading higher. Its shares have climbed 7.6p to 348.7p following weekend reports that bankers where lining it up as a £6bn bid target after its recent falls. Analyst Clive Black at Shore Capital said:

That M&S has made no comment on these stories as yet implies that the company’s board has nothing to consider as yet to our minds; we would imagine that the regulatory authorities will be keeping a watch on matters. Whether there are M&S files being dusted off by inactive and bored bankers on the one hand and financial buyers on the other; well who knows? That said, we doubt that the stories are total flights of fancy or fiction.

He added that Marks was on his buying list anyway, based on its medium-term cash generation prospects once it has completed its investment programme and it can reap the benefits:

Time will tell as to whether M&S is subject to a bid approach. The stock may be temporarily marked up on the back of the growing band of press stories. However, we deem that M&S’ brand, market positions and stores to be worth a lot more than the present stock multiples. Accordingly, should bid talk become a lot more serious the upside should, to Shore Capital, be material.

Overall the FTSE 100 has dipped 11.14 points to 5776.14 as investors bank some profits.

Burberry is up 22p at £13.27, with weekend hits at more action by the Chinese central bank to boost its economy helping luxury goods groups, which see the area as important for their future growth.

Centrica has fallen 4.3p to 319.2p and SSE has slipped 10p to £13.18 after Deutsche Bank cut its ratings on both from buy to hold. Analyst Martin Brough said:

The expected UK energy market transformation is well underway, but political consensus on energy policy is breaking down. Weakness in global commodity prices makes upstream investments look less valuable, and we cut [our recommendation on] Centrica and SSE.

Strong work ethic is no path to better standard of living

Category : World News

Last week I spoke to a non-Japanese economics researcher employed by a Japanese university. He said he was working on a study that compared Spain’s current fiscal crisis to Japan’s economic situation as a means of determining if the former would suffer the same long-term problems as the latter. I mentioned that the two countries’ situations seemed dissimilar because of Japan’s high savings rate, and he countered that the biggest difference was really the “work ethic.”
It’s a loaded term. The news media has been filled with stories of ballooning unemployment in Spain. In comparison, Japan has much lower official jobless numbers and a growth rate that impresses people like Nobel Prize-winner Paul Krugman, who said last spring in an interview with the Financial Times, “When people ask: Might we become Japan? I say: I wish we could become Japan.”

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Taking stock after the Facebook IPO | Mike Daisey

Category : Business

As Facebook’s public offering fizzled, so did the media’s ‘finance porn’ hype. And perhaps a sense of just proportion was restored

On Friday morning, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, CEO, and majority shareholder, rang the Nasdaq opening bell and made history with one of the largest IPOs in years. It was exactly the kind of mania that made the dotcom era a profoundly silly time – irrational exuberance all the way to the bank in an era that became known more for the greed, ridiculousness, and excess than it did from the occasionally groundbreaking work that was changing how people did business at the dawn of the modern internet era.

Except, on Friday, the mania didn’t show up on schedule.

After weeks of breathless anticipation, the Facebook IPO fizzled, with institutions having to step in and buy shares to keep the stock from slipping below the strike price of $38. This shocking and heartbreaking development will now be accompanied by the sound of a thousand fingers clattering over keys, as pundits and analysts everywhere tweet and blog and chatter over what went wrong.

But this supposes something has actually gone wrong. 

Let us remember, first, that Facebook the company had this IPO in order to go public with its stock, and raised more than $16bn for its troubles. So, they aren’t unhappy: that’s what they were expecting, and that’s what they got. Before IPOs became carnivals of capitalism, that was actually the point.

Zuckerberg and the other Facebook pre-IPO shareholders aren’t unhappy this weekend – they’re rich. Yes, some of them could be wishing that they were almost incalculably rich instead of merely being the more prosaic filthy rich, but if you catch one of them at a fake German beerhall in Palo Alto bitching about this, you should punch them immediately – the way they trained us in our self-defense classes years ago, when we were all taught these techniques in case an insufferable internet millionaire douchebag might one day desperately need an attitude adjustment. 

Is it us? Are we the ones who are disappointed? I don’t know – given how restricted and voodoo-y IPO stock launches are, I doubt the average reader skimming this article was in on the first day of trading. I know I don’t have any Facebook stock, and I doubt you do, too.

So, who is upset? Who didn’t get what they were looking for? One hint: you’re looking at it, and in another age, it was used to wrap fish.

Media loves the big IPO stories. They love every part of them: they love the narrative arc; they love the idea of workers slaving away every day and then, one magical morning, getting millions and millions of dollars. They love the skullduggery of how they get set up, and the way it all seems to rest on the fate of a single day – what happens in those first moments, as the stock hits the market and demand asserts itself. 

Stories like this make financial analysts’ eyes dilate, the blood quicken, the pulse sound in the ears. We all recognize it, because it’s pornography. There are different types of porn: war porn, patriotism porn … and this, of course, is finance porn. You can tell it is porn because it demands nothing of the viewer, and comforts those who get off on it. But no matter how nice porn can be, it’s not a dialogue. It’s not news. It is spectacle, and by participating in it, we devolve the dialogue. 

We are perhaps hungry for it because we have no dialogue with the corporations. Now that labor is a relic of the past that is largely ignored, there’s no battlefield to make the corporation look human, to make it fit into the narrative of a great story. There are no strikes, no unrest: workers aren’t capable of raising more than a mild sense of indigestion at whatever they face, and they choke that down lest they endanger their positions. 

We have been trained to believe that a business story only exists from the top down – and through that lens, there are few things as dynamic and newsworthy as an IPO. In an environment without financial stories that the media wants to tell, the IPO becomes a bar mitzvah, a coming of age where, instead of bringing gifts, the public company showers its faithful with riches instead.

No one suffered when there wasn’t an outbreak of abject mania at the Facebook IPO. In fact, maybe many of us gained: if the markets behave in a rational manner, if we do not submit to hype and hysteria, perhaps we can live a rational life within them? Work for the sake of what is done, not what is gained? Perhaps, we can dream of leaving the dotcom era behind?

Perhaps. But the lure of narrative is strong, and we are always seeking the next trend. In Fight Club, Ed Norton taught us that you are not the things you own. It’s a decade later, but we may need to learn that we are not our share prices, either.