Gatsby Before He Was Great
EVERY TWO dozen years or so, an adaptation of The Great Gatsby appears on the silver screen: in 1926, 1949, 1974, and now. If this fourth effort, directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is to serve a purpose at all, it would be to send us …
New 'Gatsby' film worse than the old one
G'day to 'The Great Gatsby'
Review: Luhrmann's 'Great Gatsby' is okay and nothing more
China’s economy, the world’s second-largest, performs worse than many analysts had expected in the first three months of the year.
Read more here: China’s growth lower than forecast
Shadow chancellor says new measures, coupled with benefit cuts, will leave most ordinary people worse off.
See the original post here: AUDIO: Ed Balls: Most worse off after tax changes
Utility giant gave ‘misleading and unsubstantiated statements’ to potential customers about prices and savings, says watchdog
The utility giant SSE is to be fined £10.5m for “prolonged and extensive” mis-selling in what will be the largest ever penalty imposed on an energy provider.
The energy watchdog Ofgem said it found “failures at every stage of the sales process” across SSE’s telephone, in-store and doorstep selling activities.
SSE provided “misleading and unsubstantiated statements” to potential customers about prices and savings that could be made by switching to SSE, according to Ofgem.
Ofgem said the level of the fine reflected the seriousness and the duration of the mis-selling, as well as the harm caused to customers and the likely gain to SSE.
Management at SSE – one of Britain’s “big six” energy suppliers – failed to pay enough attention to compliance, which allowed the mis-selling to take place, added Ofgem.
Ian Marlee, the managing director for markets at Ofgem, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “This is a woeful catalogue of failures by the SSE management.
“This fine represents the fact that what they were doing was allowing a culture of mis-selling to continue. They weren’t doing enough to prevent sharp selling practices from their selling agents. They actually provided misleading sales scripts.
“Some people were being told they were going to get savings when actually they were being put on a worse deal. People were expecting savings and were not getting the levels of savings. People were being told direct debit levels that made it sound like they were going to be better off when in fact they were worse off.
“What we need and what we expect from energy companies is they have a culture of putting consumers first and complying with the rules.
“Clearly SSE management were not doing that which is why we imposed the largest fine on energy suppliers we have ever imposed.”
The fine will be paid to the Treasury, Marlee said.
When a bailout is worse than the illness.
Continue reading here: Bank run expert: Cyprus’ plan was ‘absurd’
The recent rise in the S&P 500 is either predicting a much better economy ahead than most economists expect, or a worse market.
Excerpt from: Stock market predicts economic boom
Opinion: The job market is still considerably worse than October 2007. The economy is barely growing. Housing prices have not come back completely. And the federal government is much more heavily in hock.
Read more from the original source: Dow record? Who cares? Economy still stinks
The new Bank of England governor should heed Japan’s efforts in trying to emerge from its lost decade
Most of us, including many bankers, now agree that the last 25 years have been a dreadful mistake. Western consumers and businesses have too much private debt, with Japan serving as an awesome warning of how that can drag an economy down for decades. There is a lot of hand-wringing over why regulation was so light-touch and why bankers were allowed to get away with so much. But those were the mistakes of a bygone world; the big question we face now is what to do next.
Last week, the governor-designate of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, and a man who was once a rival for the job, Adair Turner, both argued with one eye on Japan, where I have just spent an intriguing week, that it is time to open a debate about inflation. At the very least, declared Carney, we need to be very flexible about how inflation targets are met, keeping a weather eye on what is happening to growth and employment.
In a formidable speech, Turner went even further. The unthinkable – printing money to finance government deficits – should no longer be unthinkable, he argued. It should be one available policy tool, a way of countering deflation. In many respects, Britain’s situation is even worse than Japan’s in 1990 when its lost decades began. Our stock of private debt is much higher proportionally; our banks are in much worse shape; our productivity is disastrously low and falling. What’s more, our loss of share of world export markets is the worst in the G20. Incomes per head are set to stagnate for 10 years, the worst in modern times. Our government, unlike the Japanese, is mulishly opposed to increasing public debt to compensate for the private sector trying to reduce its debt.
All that has stood between Britain and a Japanese-scale debacle is that at least the Bank of England has been obliged to keep inflation up rather than watch prices fall and it has been moderately imaginative about how it has done so. Nonetheless, it is crystal clear that it could, and should, have done more.
In Japan, I was simultaneously aware of what a toll two decades of deflation had levied on Japanese society, but also of the compensatory force of Japan’s underlying economic strength. But gloom and pessimism still suffuse the country. Hiromasa Yonekura, the president of the Keidanren, Japan’s all-powerful employers’ association, told me that this lack of confidence, in his view unjustified, had become hard-wired into Japan’s culture by falling prices. It affected even the birth rate and was the chief cause of Japan’s rapidly ageing society. Nor is the birth rate the only sign of a society in stress. Young women’s role in Japanese society is being knocked back by the fashion for coquettishness and cartoon-style prettiness, complete with singsong voices and contrived ways of walking. It is a return to suffocating traditionalism masked as fashionable faddishness. A society worried about its future becomes socially regressive.
Yet Japan’s capacity to resist the malign element of deflation is very much greater than our own. It is still the third biggest economy in the world, with some fabulous companies possessing frontier technology, and going global rapidly. Hiroaki Nakanishi, the president of Hitachi, having just bought Horizon Nuclear Power from the Germans and aiming to build nuclear power stations in Britain, was worried that Britain was retreating from our global vocation. Tell your prime minister, he said, that Hitachi would consider it a disaster if Britain withdrew from the EU. I promised him that if the opportunity arose I would.
But Hitachi’s commitment to frontier engineering is only one example; others are rail company Japan Central’s investment in the Maglev train, which travels at over 300mph, and textile expert Toray’s commitment to new carbon materials that are many times stronger than anything known to man. Japan is engaging in investment and innovation across the board and on a scale Britain can only dream of.
Time after time, as I questioned company leaders about their capacity to do this, I was referred to Japan’s “public interest” or “stakeholder” capitalism – committed long-term ownership, partnership with the state to drive research forward and corporate leaderships keen to find commercial responses to the giant economic and social problems of our time. It is a world foreign to our own of shareholder value maximisation and gigantic personal bonuses, where interest in social problems is seen as “anti-business”. This dynamism refuses to be submerged by debt deflation; Yonekura pointed out that, while New York had built 20 skyscrapers in the last decade, Tokyo had built 50. But to unleash this dynamism, Japan has had to break out of its monetary and financial trap. The newly elected government has gone some of the way, proposing a huge Keynesian stimulus and lifting the inflation target to 2%. But, as Turner argued, Japan’s stock of public debt is now even more suffocating than private debt. Japan must go further: turn it from onerous debt into free cash by in effect printing money. Done right, this would not create inflation but steady the economy. There is an intense private battle raging between the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Japan. Either the bank starts monetising public debt, as Turner argues, or the Ministry of Finance will launch another unthinkable, unilateral reduction of Japan’s public debt burden by demanding borrowers accept worse repayment terms. Plans are being laid for a managed default unless the Bank of Japan prints money.
This is what happens when societies face impossible demands. To sustain the social fabric, investment and innovation, governments have to do non-conservative things – reframe their capitalism and break conservative financial rules. Japan is now ready to do this, the Liberal Democrat party feeling that too much is at stake not to act.
Carney and Turner are pointing the way in Britain. But there is a limit to what a central bank can do by itself. What is becoming clearer by the month is that every Tory maxim – leaving the EU, belief in smaller government, a hands-off approach to capitalism, junking the welfare state – is 100% wrong. Britain needs to learn from Japan. We don’t need just a radicalisation of monetary policy – we need to recast, from top to bottom, how our companies are owned, financed and managed. Otherwise, we face an economic and social calamity. The final shredding of Toryism before brutal economic truths will signal the rebirth of the British economy.
Plans for a “simple” flat-rate state pension have been unveiled, but many of those entering the workforce now will be worse off than under current rules.
See original here: New workers hit by pension plans
10% more employment opportunities in UK than a year ago but average salary for new jobs tumbles 1%, study shows
UK employers are continuing to hire staff but are offering lower salaries than a year ago, according to an online jobs board.
There were 10% more job opportunities in December than in the same month in 2011, Reed said, but the average salary for new jobs declined by 1% over the year, despite inflation at almost 3%.
Mark Rhodes, marketing director at reed.co.uk, said: “We have seen growth across the board in the majority of sectors and regions as employers become increasingly less cautious about their approach to taking on new personnel.”
The survey echoes official figures which showed unemployment falling dramatically in the three months to October but wages stagnating. The Office for National Statistics said last month employment was 499,000 higher over the period compared with a year earlier, to stand at 29.6 million – a record high. Meanwhile, average earnings, excluding bonuses, were rising at an annual rate of 1.7% – well below the current inflation rate of 2.7%.
The health of the jobs market over the past year has puzzled economists, as employment has risen much faster than economic growth would suggest. One explanation is that anxious workers have had to accept paltry pay rises in exchange for holding on to their jobs, while those out of work have settled for lower salaries simply to get a job.
The Bank of England’s chief economist, Spencer Dale, noted: “The harsh but inescapable reality is that households and families in our economy are worse off – much worse off.”
Economists fear wage growth will remain below inflation over the next few months, but unemployment will rise. Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight said: “While we expect the economy to eke out modest growth in 2013, we doubt growth will be strong enough to prevent unemployment moving up, especially as public-sector jobs will continue to be pared.”
Even if private-sector employment were to edge up over the coming months, he said there is a danger it would not be enough to offset job cuts in the public sector and the rising number of people of working age.
He said unemployment could rise gradually to a peak of 2.7 million towards the end of the year, or the beginning of 2014, giving an unemployment rate of 8.2%. He expects wage growth to be limited to just over 2% in 2013, while inflation could reach 3% early this year.