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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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Can couples survive a trip to Ikea? | Eva Wiseman

Category : Business

Ikea may have spent 25 years filling our homes with flatpack furniture. But what every couple really wants to know is: will we still be together after shopping at the superstore?

The most satisfying Ikea experience I’ve had was when my boyfriend had crippling food poisoning. I’d hold up a

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Why US voters are right to worry about the state of the economy

Category : Business

A leading American economist warns that technological innovation cannot hope to deliver the kind of growth needed to maintain the nation’s standing in the world

Each nugget of data about the health of the American housing market or the mood of its consumers will be eagerly seized upon and carefully spun by Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the coming weeks, as they fight to prove they should be trusted to run the world’s largest economy. The US has shrugged off the after-effects of the sub-prime downturn more effectively than the eurozone, and is certainly in ruder health than the stagnating UK, expanding at an annual rate of 1.7% according to the latest numbers.

Yet the background music for what promises to be a closely fought presidential campaign is of a country less certain than for many years of its place in the world – hamstrung by public and private debt; anxious about the disappearance of traditional jobs to low-cost markets overseas; worn down by a prolonged period in which living standards for middle America have moved sideways. If the latest analysis by the US economist Robert Gordon is correct, America’s voters have every reason to be concerned – not just about whether the economy can weather the slowdown in China and Europe over the next 12 months, but about its growth prospects for decades to come. At the centre of his argument in a provocative new paper, “Is US Economic Growth Over?”, is the insight that the latest wave of hi-tech innovation sweeping out from the US west coast may be less of a boon than its cheerleaders hope.

As Silicon Valley twentysomethings waltz off with mega-billions, it’s tempting to conclude that the internet has wrought the most radical transformation of the economy in modern history; and as Apple’s big-bucks patent case against Samsung made clear, the corporate profits to be made and lost in what used to be called the “new economy” are immense.

But Gordon warns that the growth dividend from the latest wave of innovations has actually been far smaller than that from what he calls the second industrial revolution, in the 19th century. In fact, he believes that the seemingly relentless expansion of the American economy could be about to run into the sand. Industrial revolution one, from about 1750 to 1830, brought steam and railways, Gordon argues; number two, from 1870 to 1900, gave us flushing toilets, electric light, the internal combustion engine and the telegraph, among a host of other benefits; and number three, from the 1970s onwards, computers.

Gordon does not deny that there have been productivity gains from computers – serried ranks of secretaries in typing pools and filing cabinets full of punch-cards have been rendered obsolete; we can organise our lives with a barrage of text messages in the time it once took to pen a single note.

And he acknowledges that productivity growth did improve, to 2.5% a year between 1996 and 2004, from 1.4% in the previous 15

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Dare nine men defy the siren call of Christine Lagarde?

Category : Business

On the agenda this week: weakness in the west… but a new kind of strength in the east

All eyes on Threadneedle Street this week as the City waits (prays) for the Bank of England to fire up its magic money machine at the June gathering of the monetary policy committee.

Apart from the economic repercussions of the MPC’s deliberations, the two-day meeting gives it a shot at making history and becoming the first body to summon the fortitude to resist the charms of Christine Lagarde, beguiling head of the International Monetary Fund.

By Thursday we should know if her siren calls for the UK to make further interest rate cuts and create more electronic money have been fended off by the nine-strong committee, although the odds on that are shortening. Poor economic news on Friday (May’s PMI survey was a shocker) has been described by Deutsche Bank’s George Buckley as a “game changer”. Meanwhile, Citi’s Michael Saunders muses: “We continue to expect that worsening economic prospects will prompt the MPC to expand QE [quantitative easing] markedly further – to a total of about £500bn – and that the next instalment will occur soon. On balance, we forecast the MPC will expand QE by another £50bn at the June meeting.”

Surely the Bank’s nonet of middle-aged men wouldn’t consider frustrating the French temptress?

The bottom line for Japanese shareholders

The UK may be coming to a halt for much of this week to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee, but at least there’s important corporate news occurring in other financial centres.

The Japanese annual meeting season is apparently about to kick off, and over there investors enjoy a lively approach to governance, with shareholders putting forward their own resolutions. Sarah Wilson, chief executive of proxy voting service Manifest, is an expert on such matters and has picked out a most curious example (which she insists is not a wind-up).

“It should be stipulated in the articles of incorporation that all toilets within the company’s offices shall be Japanese-style toilets, thereby toughening the legs and loins,” reads one proposal she sends over.

“The company can surely avoid failure if they straddle over a Japanese-style toilet every day and strengthen their lower body.”

Other Japan watchers, who insist that they know about such things, also report that upmarket toilets in the country possess functions allowing the pampering of top executives’ bottoms. In the UK, that job is left to the remuneration committee.

So we meet again, Sir John Reginald Hartnell Bond

The name is Bond… Sir John Reginald Hartnell Bond. And our hero is in need of a stiff vodka martini.

We last heard about the agent’s adventures when he was stationed in Canary Wharf, fighting a losing battle to try to explain HSBC’s £9bn pre-crash purchase of Household, a subprime mortgage lender.

Despite that disaster movie, Bond is now back, this time accepting a tricky mission in his new role of chairman of mining group Xstrata.

The backstory to this adventure involves Xstrata’s planned merger with Glencore and how Bond’s handler (Mick Davis, chief exec) is hoping to trouser his share of £240m of retention bonuses paid simply for turning up to the office.

With shareholders revolting, Bond has been tasked with a dash around the City this week in a desperate race to save his own credibility.

He may also try to persuade the odd Xstrata shareholder to back the proposals too, but they are furious as the company is holding a Walther PPK to their temples by linking voting on remuneration to the merger. The chairman’s only real argument is that if the executive payday gets it, so does the deal. As a line of reasoning, it’s as easy to justify as Sean Connery’s all-in-one towelling bathing suit in Goldfinger.

Call security? We are security

For your average controversial corporation, security at annual general meetings is handled by a crack team of professionals. But when you’re a security company yourself – and prone to the odd gaffe such as tagging the prosthetic leg of a prisoner who then hops off – calling in the professionals might not always be an option.

It is against that backdrop that campaigners will make their way to the AGM of security specialists G4S this week, where they will voice concerns on issues as varied as: the death of asylum seeker Jimmy Mubenga while under G4S guard (a decision on whether or not to prosecute will be made soon); charges for security to the Olympic Games (the same margin as usual, says G4S); and the group’s service contract with an Israeli jail that holds political prisoners. Four years ago, the company said it would withdraw from the West Bank contracts by 2015. No hurry, then? “We couldn’t get out of them,” said a spokesman, without a hint of irony.

Billion Euro House opened by Dublin artist

Category : Business

Frank Buckley’s museum, in which he lives rent-free, is lined, carpeted and decorated with 1bn decommissioned euro notes

Eurosceptics have a new must-see Irish tourist destination: a Dublin museum in memory of the euro – which is still the currency of the Republic, despite much criticism of it.

Set inside a flat with interior walls made from more than 1bn crushed decommissioned euro notes, the museum is a monument to the death of the dream of the single currency.

Artist Frank Buckley calls the museum in his home, which he opened to the public over the Easter weekend, the Billion Euro House.

Shredded euro notes cover the walls, floors, tables, chairs and even the toilet bowl. Buckley has had so many foreign visitors wanting to see his unusual home that he decided to turn it into a museum.

Pointing to a gravestone placed inside his front window, a sawdust pile of desiccated euro notes over the “burial lawn”, Buckley said: “I went up to Glasnevin cemetery and asked for a headstone to bury Irish national sovereignty in 2010. I think we killed it. So personally I wanted to bury the bad euro.”

Buckley lives rent-free in the ground-floor flat he moved into after going into negative equity in his home in Co Wicklow. His idea for building walls from bricks of compacted disused euros tickled the landlord, he said, and the shredded money was given to him by Ireland’s central bank.

Buckley said tourists will see a “blue-white pebbledash on the wall that at first they won’t really understand. But their curiosity will be answered when I tell them this represents more than €1bn that are now just worth bricks. They’ll be in the most expensive house in the world and I live in it for free.”

Even the euro-wrapped toilet he uses every day has been transformed into a museum piece, which the public can view, but definitely not use. This installation is named the Bertie Bowl in honour of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, recently accused in a report into corruption of lying about his personal finances.

“When I was sitting on it one day a lot of thoughts were flashing around in my head like ‘flushing money down the toilet’, which is exactly what this society was doing in the so-called boom. Then it dawned on me that our ex-leader Bertie Ahern … had grandiose plans to build a national soccer-only stadium that in the end never got off the ground. It was nicknamed the Bertie Bowl that was never built. Now we have a piece called the Bertie Bowl in memory of those wasted years and that folly.”

Asked if Ahern was invited to the museum, Buckley said: “I really don’t think he would see the irony of it.”

Opening the museum, Robert Ballagh, the artist who designed the last Irish banknotes before the euro, said Buckley’s home “asks important questions of us, of the nature of our society, of our obsession with money and property, and how that has brought us to the state we are in”.

VIDEO: ‘Busiest year’ for portable toilet industry

Category : Business

Thanks to the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee, 2012 is shaping up to be a big year for the portable toilet world.

Read the original post: VIDEO: ‘Busiest year’ for portable toilet industry

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Hot Flash Havoc

Category : Entertainment

When the U.S. government-sanctioned Women’s Health Initiative Study was released in 2002, a nationwide panic resulted – causing women to flush their hormone medications down the toilet. As a direct result in the United States alone, tens of thousands…

Follow this link: Hot Flash Havoc

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Simon Hoggart’s week: Sir Fred is shredded – now for Sir Cliff |

Category : Business

Mr Goodwin, Mistletoe & Wine and the compelling case for temporary knighthoods

✒I very much like the idea of withdrawing knighthoods. Why not make them all temporary? Few of us expect to have the same job all our lives, or drive the same car, or live in the same house. And just as members of the public can write in to nominate people who deserve honours, we should be able to suggest the names of those who ought to lose their gongs. I’m sure you have a few ideas yourself. If not, why don’t you take a train to Manchester at a busy time, and ponder “Sir” Richard Branson?

(By the way, I was surfing the net, looking for videos for the Guardian’s excellent online feature, Old Music, when I found myself at Amtrak, the American railway. Riding on the City of New Orleans, as in the famous song, all the way from Chicago would cost $115 for the 927-mile trip – £73, or 8p a mile. Riding on the Branson Pendolino to Manchester from Euston at peak time, standard class, costs £126, or 64p a mile.)

Then we could reverse all the usual cliches. The Sir Fred Goodwin figure would arrive at Buckingham Palace with his family smartly dressed. He’d smilingly show off the medal, or whatever it is. Then he would go inside, kneel in front of the Queen, who would lift her sword from his shoulders, and announce, “Arise, Mr Goodwin!”

And how about stripping Sir Cliff Richard too, as punishment for Mistletoe & Wine?

✒I went to the huge annual Australian wine-tasting the other day. It’s been a difficult year or so for the happy country – drought and the strength of their dollar have pushed prices up fast, and allowed the French to reclaim some of their market share here.

One way the Aussies have fought back is with bizarre names, no doubt in the hopes of catching attention on the shelves. Here are a few of their wines: Skuttlebutt, The Opportunist, The Pugilist, Bootstrap, Giles, Riposte, Ten Miles By Tractor, Skillogalee, Running With Bulls, The Last Straw, The Cover Drive, and The Trial of John Montford, which sounds more like a novel than a bottle.

Mind you the most off-putting wine name I know is Fat Bastard, and that’s made in France.

✒On my desk lands a slim volume, called Among Booksellers, by David Batterham, who I have never met, and of whom I hadn’t even heard. He has collected all the letters he sent from his travels, mainly round Europe and America, to his friend, the artist Howard Hodgkin.

It is a strange book, but beguiling – you meet the weird people who inhabit the world of antique bookselling (my friend, the late Derek Brown, loved old books, and fantasised about a rare book shop with a sign, “All incunabula in this bin, £5,000″). And there are old crones serving terrible meals in French hotels, crab‑like people who try to cheat him but halve their prices when he insists, the discovery of amazing volumes he can sell in London for 10 times what he paid. I expected to toss it aside, but couldn’t put it down.

The book is, of course, self-published. Something such books usually have in common is that there is one really interesting section. They were in Bomber Command, or had a spell playing the piano in a Turkish brothel, or worked with Margaret Thatcher. One of these days, if I have time, I shall read a hundred of these books and put the good bits into a single volume. (The authors will cheerfully sign over the rights, since they will think it will sell some of the 4,927 books they have left over from the 5,000 they had printed. But of course no one will buy their book, since they’ll know they’ve already got the only interesting part.)

The fascinating bit in Mr Batterham’s book is about the Duke of Edinburgh, who apparently is a bibliophile. He has a secretary who orders books for him. “The duke keeps a cupboard of goodies, such as the books he buys from me, so that people who want to give him a present can choose something he is known to like! Then they buy it from him, and give it back.”

What a wonderful idea! You get both the present, and the money.

“Happy birthday, Simon! What would you like?”

“Let’s see what we have in the cupboard. Ah yes, how about this signed first edition of Pride and Prejudice? Or a

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