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Sunday, 6 March 2011

Bankers played a leading role in the crisis, but they aren't criminals

Inside Job director Charles Ferguson caused a stir with his Oscar speech, but his suggestion that people should be jailed over the financial meltdown is simplistic
It was an easy line for an eager crowd. Picking up an Oscar for his scattergun credit crunch documentary Inside Job, director Charles Ferguson got a cheer from Hollywood's finest for a rant about the absence of prison time handed down to Wall Street banking bosses.

"Forgive me," Ferguson told his fellow movie-making luminaries. "But I must start by pointing out that three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail. And that's wrong."

The baldness of his sentiment, widely shared by the public on both sides of the Atlantic, has caused a stir in the financial community. Interviewed afterwards by the Wall Street Journal, Ferguson expanded on his theme, declaring that "there should be dozens or even perhaps hundreds of senior financial executives in prison now".

Unfortunately, it's just not that simple. Ferguson's remarks are in tune with his entertaining, polemical film, which contains interviews with financial players ranging from George Soros to Christine Lagarde, Nouriel Roubini and Eliot Spitzer. Using the briefest of quotable snippets from each, the documentary builds a crude argument that the global financial meltdown was a conscious "inside job" caused by greedy, ruthless, mendacious, out-of-control bankers.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

To us, it's an obscure shift of tax law. To the City, it's the heist of the century.

In David Cameron we have a leader whose job is to quietly legitimise a semi-criminal, money-laundering economy

'I would love to see tax reductions," David Cameron told the Sunday Telegraph at the weekend, "but when you're borrowing 11% of your GDP, it's not possible to make significant net tax cuts. It just isn't." Oh no? Then how come he's planning the biggest and crudest corporate tax cut in living memory?

If you've heard nothing of it, you're in good company. The obscure adjustments the government is planning to the tax acts of 1988 and 2009 have been missed by almost everyone – and are, anyway, almost impossible to understand without expert help. But as soon as you grasp the implications, you realise that a kind of corporate coup d'etat is taking place.

Like the dismantling of the NHS and the sale of public forests, no one voted for this measure, as it wasn't in the manifestos. While Cameron insists that he occupies the centre ground of British politics, that he shares our burdens and feels our pain, he has quietly been plotting with banks and businesses to engineer the greatest transfer of wealth from the poor and middle to the ultra-rich that this country has seen in a century. The latest heist has been explained to me by the former tax inspector, now a Private Eye journalist, Richard Brooks and current senior tax staff who can't be named. Here's how it works.

10 Ways to Save Money Now

10 ways to save money

1. Learn to cook your own food: Now I know this may sound daunting, and I know everyone things cooking takes hours. Simple look in a cook book or even better on the internet and cook nice simple food. Pasta (buy dried or fresh) is always a good starting point. Preparing food in larger quantities saves money in the long run. You’ll have to spend a day or two cooking for the month, but you’ll save both money and time over the course of the month by having all your meal prepared and frozen.

2. Write a shopping list: Monthly food shopping forms a significant part of the a house holds outgoing. Write a shopping list prior to shopping - also very importantly NEVER shop when you are hungry. Always plan your weekly meals and most importantly look at what you are buying, don't think that the 2 for 1 is cheaper, the individual KG or 100g prices could be significantly more.

3. Use a market: Not only can you buy much healthier food, but it is also much cheaper. The cost of most fruit and veg in the supermarket starts from £1.50 but at your local market get a whole bowl of fruit or veg for only £1. Also don't forget you are also supporting a smaller local company.

4. Consider own brand products: If you don't have access to a market, buy supermarket own brand food. Tin tomatoes cost 33p across all supermarkets.

5. Set up a direct debit : Set up direct debts for all your bills and other out goings to avoid charges.

Monday, 27 December 2010

NHS faces more cuts to avoid £10bn shortfall, report warns

Exclusive: Leaked Whitehall document says cancer research and social care could be hit

Andrew Lansley

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has come under pressure from David Cameron to prove he can deliver his NHS reforms. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA

A "complacent" Department of Health will face an annual £10bn shortfall unless it speeds up efficiency savings across the NHS and considers cuts to social care and cancer research charities, according to a secret Whitehall report leaked to the Guardian.

The damning report warns that ministers will face an "unpalatable trade-off" between longer waiting times or a massive increase in the NHS budget unless dramatic savings are found.

It also warns that the central reform proposed by health secretary Andrew Lansley – to devolve 80% of the NHS budget to GPs – could have "patchy" results.

The findings are outlined in a blunt letter to Danny Alexander, the Treasury chief secretary, from the Independent Challenge Group, which was set up at the time of the budget in June to question Whitehall thinking.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

FTSE 100 ends above 6,000 for first time since mid-2008The FTSE 100 index has closed above 6,000 points for the first time since June 2008.

Continue reading the main story FTSE 100 Index

Last Updated at 24 Dec 2010, 12:36

*Chart shows local time

value change %

6008.92 +

+12.85 +


Top winner and loser

Resolution Ltd.
239.50 p +   +4.70 +   +2.00

Randgold Resources Ltd.
5265.00 p -   -235.00 -   -4.27

The index of blue chip shares broke through the symbolic mark to finish up 12.85 points, or 0.2%, at 6008.92.

A late rally in retail stocks helped the index as investors bet on a late surge in consumers' Christmas spending.

However one analyst forecast that there would be a correction in share prices after an overly-strong rise in December.

Giles Watts, head of equities at City Index, added that the lack of trading volume meant that Friday's rally was built on "hot air".

The index has risen 8% so far this December, its strongest for the month since 1987.

With its move above 6,000 points, some observers are claiming London has regained a poise not seen since before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, which caused turmoil on world markets.

The FTSE 100 is up 10.8% on the year, with several bullish market analysts predicting that the index may end 2011 between 6,600 and 6,900.

On Friday, Marks & Spencer, Next, B&Q parent Kingfisher, and supermarket giant Tesco were all in strong demand.

And troubled sports retailer JJB Sports added 22.6% after saying it hoped to raise more than £31.5m in a share sale.

Friday's FTSE close is the fourth straight weekly advance.

"The prolonged Santa rally has left the market looking strong ahead of the holidays and there is still the potential for further gains before the end of the year," said David Jones, equity strategist at IG Index.

France's Cac 40 index slipped 0.3% to 3,900.4, but there was no trading in Germany where on Thursday the Dax index had slipped 0.2% to 7,057.7.

Sourced from The BBC

Monday, 22 November 2010

Euro and shares rise after Irish rescue deal

European shares and the euro have both risen in value, as markets welcomed the bail-out for the Irish Republic.

Following Sunday's deal, the UK's FTSE index was up 0.8%, while Germany's Dax had added 0.7%, and the euro strengthened to $1.376.

The exact amount and terms of the European Union-led package will be negotiated in the coming days.

Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said his government would be getting less than 100bn euros ($136bn; £85bn).

The UK and Sweden have also offered direct loans.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Tory MP Liddell-Grainger fears benefit tax 'disaster'

A Tory MP has warned the effects on the tax system because of the changes to child benefit are a "disaster waiting to happen".

Ian Liddell-Grainger, the Parliamentary All Party Tax Group chairman said the tax authorities would not cope.

If a claimant or their partner earns more than £44,000 a year, the benefit will be lost under the plans.

But if taxpayers will continue claiming the benefit, this will then be clawed back through extra tax.
Some of the people who pay tax through Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) will continue claiming the benefit, which will then be reclaimed by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) through extra tax from them or their partner.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs fined £20m by UK's FSA

Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs has been fined £20m ($31m) by the UK City regulator, the Financial Services Authority, the BBC has learned

The fine is for failing to tell the FSA it was under investigation for fraud by the US financial watchdog this summer.

In July, Goldman settled the fraud charge with the Securities and Exchange Commission by paying $550m (£356m).

The £20m is one of the heaviest fines ever imposed by the FSA, said the BBC's business editor Robert Peston.

Both the FSA and Goldman Sachs declined to comment on the fine.

Goldman agreed to pay the US fine to settle civil fraud charges of misleading investors.

The charges concerned the bank's marketing of complex mortgage investments, just as the US housing market faltered.

The FSA said Goldman also did not tell them that Fabrice Tourre, the trader who helped to create these mortgage derivatives, was under investigation.

This it said was particularly relevant as Mr Tourre moved from the US to London, and therefore came under the auspices of the UK regulator.

Goldman has admitted that it made a mistake, our correspondent added.

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