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Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - September 11, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Sep 11, 2014 - 9:32 AM

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Irish Independent

Brendan Keenan: The Irish Question was very difficult, according to an old joke. Every time the British found the answer, the Irish changed the question. That was the political question we are supposed to have finally answered 20 years ago this year, with the IRA ceasefire.

To paraphrase Zhou Enlai, it may be too early to say. But the Irish economic question is exhibiting the same symptoms. Just as we seemed to successfully negotiate the Crash, the question changed.

Or rather, an old question re-appeared. Is the economy, and particular the property market, in danger of overheating? Should the government be taking steps to cool it - even, merciful hour, increasing stamp duty on buy-to-let properties in Dublin, as suggested last week by Frank Quinn of Blackrock Further Education Institute? There is no doubt that things are moving at extraordinary speed. One set of good statistics follows another. Tax revenues soaring, unemployment tumbling.

Just five years after what may have been the worst banking crash ever recorded in a rich economy, the most common concern in public discourse is whether another bubble is blowing. Before trying to answer that, one really has to ask if it is the right question.

Further examination closed the jaw pretty quickly. It turned out that the Swords queue was small, and the houses didn't all sell anyway.

A planned merger with Chiquita appears to be slipping out of Irish banana producer Fyffes' grasp.

Rival joint bidders Cutrale and Safra from Brazil said on Wednesday that they have entered into a confidentiality agreement with Chiquita, and, without committing to a timetable, that they plan to complete due diligence and present a definitive takeover offer for the company as soon as possible.

In August Chiquita rejected a $13 a share offer from Cutrale and Safra that valued the business at $611m (€472m), in favour of sticking with an already agreed deal to merge with Fyffes.

French Socialist and former finance minister Pierre Moscovici has been named European economic and monetary policy commissioner, in a surprise move by centre-right Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

But the main economic portfolios in the new Commission have gone to predominantly north European politicians from the centrist European Peoples Party (EPP) grouping, which includes Fine Gael, and the fiscally right-wing Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). In a key concession to British Prime Minister David Cameron's nominee Jonathan Hill, a member of the UK House of Lords, to the revamped banking portfolio entitled Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union.

Putting the UK commissioner in charge of relations between the EC and the European Banking Authority is a significant victory for David Cameron, who has been at loggerheads with much of the rest of Europe over a planned financial transactions tax.

Irish Times

Outgoing Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller has said the Government’s decision to vote against his pay package this year on the basis of a large increase in his pension payment was based on poor research.

In May, the then minister for tourism Leo Varadkar took the highly unusual step of using the voting rights associated with the State’s 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus to oppose executive pay arrangements at the airline at its annual general meeting for shareholders.

This was in protest at an increase in Mr Mueller’s pension payment (it rose to €175,000 last year from €119,000 in 2012) at a time when the airline was negotiating with staff to reduced the benefits in their pension scheme.

Two of the United Kingdom’s biggest banks - the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds - have said they will consider shifting their headquarters from Edinburgh to London if Scotland votes for independence.

Insurer Standard Life said yesterday that it had registered companies in London which it could use to shift some of its operations south if there is uncertainty in the aftermath of a Yes vote.

Last night, nerves in the No camp settled somewhat in the wake of an opinion poll that showed it still held a six percentage points lead, excluding undecided voters.

Australian employment surged by the most on record in August and far beyond the most optimistic forecast, on the face of it a stunningly strong report that should calm recent concerns about the health of the economy.

The local dollar leaped and markets are virtually pricing out the chance of a rate cut as Thursday’s data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed 121,000 jobs were created in August. That was the largest rise since the series began in 1978 and dwarfed expectations for a 12,000 increase.

The jobless rate also surprised by falling back to 6.1 per cent, so reversing most of July’s unexpected jump to 6.4 per cent. Most of the gains came in part-time jobs which surged 106,700, while more people went looking for work as the participation rate jumped to a 16-month peak of 65.2 per cent.

Analysts cautioned the series was notoriously volatile and carried a lot of statistical noise, but even then the scale of the gains could not be ignored.

Irish Examiner

Professional and receivers’ fees from the receivership of Treasury Holdings' main Spencer Dock company have totalled €2m to date, new figures show.

David Hughes and Luke Charleton of EY were appointed as receivers to various retail units, undeveloped sites and part developed sites owned by Spencer Dock Development Co Ltd on January 25, 2012, by Nama.

Documents filed with the Companies Office show the receivers have received €338,940 to date in fees with professional and receiver fees totalling €1.98m to date.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan earlier this year revealed that Nama has paid fees totalling €59.6m to receivers concerning 258 separate receiver appointments since the agency was established.

Europe

Euro Topics: Swedish election a nail biter to the end: Just a few days before the Swedish parliamentary elections on Sunday, the red-green opposition alliance, which for months had been sure of its victory, has seen its ratings plunge in the latest polls. The liberal Swedish tabloid Expressen attributes this swing to the fact that the goals of the potential social democratic government still remain unclear: "Many citizens must have started to have doubts. [Party leader] Stefan Löfven heads a historically weak Social Democratic Party. ... What would be the result when the Social Democrats have concluded their negotiations with the Greens and the Left Party? Will taxes go up and the free choice of school be scrapped? Will having a job no longer be worthwhile? A growing number of middle-class voters are clearly afraid of the answers to these questions. Just a few more strokes to go before the election campaign ends, and the red-green alliance still leads by 6.3 percent. But the race will go on right until the edge of the pool is reached."

Put an end to Germany's austerity fetish: The European Commission has now joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in urging Germany to invest more in stimulus measures. If the admonishments of the IMF and Brussels fail to elicit a response, at least the decay of Germany's infrastructure should persuade Berlin to revise its course, the liberal business paper Il Sole 24 Ore hopes: "When at the end of 2012 the authorities in Cologne were forced to close down a motorway bridge due to worrying cracks in one of the supporting pillars, the country that likes to brag about its motorway network was disconcerted. ... Germany's infrastructure, and above all its transportation network, have deteriorated for at least two decades because of inadequate maintenance. Maintenance measures have suffered because of what many in Germany now refer to as the 'balanced budget fetish'. But the government doesn't seem to be taking any notice. As the budget debate for 2015 was launched yesterday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble once again stressed the goal of balancing the budget."

Sweden's asylum policy a threat to Denmark: Sweden plans to take in up to 340,000 asylum-seekers in the next four years. The concerns of politicians in neighbouring Denmark about the impact of this asylum policy on their own country are shared by the conservative Danish daily Berlingske: "The Nordic Passport Union entitles the citizens of the Nordic countries to move about freely and settle in all northern Europe. So Sweden's liberal policy could mean that we have no idea who takes up residence here in Denmark. This is a problem in view of the fact that Sweden has decided to automatically give all Syrian asylum-seekers a residence permit. ... It would be odd if among the Syrian asylum-seekers there weren't any young men who set out to fight in Allah's name [from the north]. ... The Swedes should be ready to explain their ideas about how to maintain the Passport Union in future."


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