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Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 21, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Oct 21, 2014 - 11:38 AM
One million households have failed to register with the beleaguered semi-state company Irish Water, the Irish Independent has learned.
Just 500,000 people have signed up with the utility, and the low take-up has forced it to seek permission from the regulator to extend the registration deadline to November 29.
A new board, due to take control from the end of next month, will be told to review the controversial performance-related pay model which has caused widespread anger.
Senior executives were coming under mounting pressure last night, as the Government parties fear the introduction of water charges is a barrier to a second term in office. But Finance Minister Michael Noonan risked further ire by suggesting that water charges are "modest".
In China, they call it the inverted three, two, one.
Historically, families have followed a pyramid structure of three children, two parents and one surviving grandparent. Yet thanks in part to the one-child policy, the pyramid has for many been turned upside down. In some Chinese cities, a typical family might today consist of three grandparents, two parents and one child.
The oppressive diktats of the state may make China an extreme example of the ageing phenomenon – with a growing proportion of the population aged 65 and over – but it exists more or less everywhere, to a greater or lesser extent. As societies grow more prosperous, people live longer, and because on the whole they no longer need children to look after them in their dotage – throughout much of human history, nature’s form of social safety net – they grow more selfish and have fewer of them.
A PROPERTY sold by NAMA for €7.5m in 2013 was bought by a property firm for more than twice that price little more than a year later.
The site, at 1-6 Sir John Rogerson's Quay in Dublin's Docklands was sold by NAMA to Australia-based student accommodation firm Urbanest for €7.5m in June 2013. Property investment company Hibernia Reit then paid €17.75m for the same site in August this year - a 136pc increase.
The deal will call into question NAMA's strategy of rapidly selling off its property assets as the Irish market for commercial property recovers.
The agency has been criticised in the past for selling assets when it may have achieved higher prices if it had held on to them for longer.
A High Court judge has strongly criticised the continuing failure over months to make a decision whether accountancy firm KPMG should, in its capacity as former auditors to Irish Nationwide Building Society, be sued as a co-defendant in separate actions by State-owned IBRC against Michael Fingleton and other former directors of the society over €6 billion losses there.
Mr Justice Brian McGovern noted the special liquidators of IBRC, Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson, are partners in KPMG.
While it was not for him to advise anyone “as to what Chinese walls have to be created”, it was “a matter of concern” there was still no decision on the procedural matter of whether or not KPMG, now a third party in one action, should be a defendant, he said.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform backed radical cuts to social welfare payments, suggested the abolition of the Law Reform Commission should be explored and urged increases in the plastic bag levy as part of the Government’s recent review of State expenditure.
As part of the review Government departments were asked to set out options for living within set spending ceilings and, separately, to say how they would operate with a further 5 per cent budget cut.
Many departments said additional cuts could not be made and pitched instead for significant funding increases. Others, particularly the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Health, set out a range of options for cuts but stressed that they were by no means supporting these measures.
The European Central Bank launched its much-awaited covered bond-purchase programme yesterday in a bid to kick-start the moribund euro zone economy, focusing on short-dated debt held by French and Spanish banks, according to analysts.
The plan, announced by ECB president Mario Draghi in September, aims to take rebundled debt off the balance sheets of euro-zone banks, thereby allowing banks to lend. Mr Draghi has indicated the ECB may expand its balance sheet by up to €1 trillion as it engages in unconventional measures to boost the euro-zone economy.
The launch of the bond-buying programme began as the French finance and economy ministers flew to Berlin for talks on France’s 2015 budget, which is expected to be in breach of deficit targets set by the European Commission under the stability and growth pact.
It has been clear right through this year that bond markets had major doubts about the durability and strength of the recovery in the world economy.
This is evidenced by the decline in bond yield everywhere since the start of the year, despite the US Federal Reserve winding down its QE programme and the US and UK central banks both hinting at rate rises from next year.
Equity markets, though, have been more positive, boosted by good data in some economies like the US and UK.
Low interest rates and further easing by the ECB have also helped sentiment in stock markets.
However, tensions which had been building in the markets over the past month finally exploded last week.
There was a flight to quality into the major bond markets. Equities suffered large falls, although they subsequently recovered some lost ground.
There was damage elsewhere too.
Euro Topics: The economic and finance ministers of Germany and France on Monday announced that they will soon present proposals for warding off a new recession. Paris had previously held out the prospect of France cutting its spending by €50bn if Germany matched that amount in investments. Berlin must defend its budgetary discipline, some commentators warn. Others thank Paris for launching an important debate.
France's government losing touch with reality: France's call for German investment in exchange for French cuts is outrageous, the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse criticises: "Macron clearly believes that the Germans are responsible for France's misery - because of their strict austerity. In fact, however, such austerity has never been part of any budget passed in Berlin. Nothing but a refusal to sink further into debt, which created new trust in the midst of the worst debt crisis. This refusal was also what made possible the German economic boom that has long functioned as a motor for the Eurozone. Holding to this course is the best - and the only - thing the Germans can do for the French. Not even the left wing of the German SPD could have come up with the strange idea of having Germany pump 50 billion euros into the economy. This is completely detached from reality."
Germany's change of heart very good news: The proposals by Germany and France for preventing an economic slump in Europe are the best news to come out of Europe for some time, the left-liberal daily Libération writes in delight: "Angela Merkel clearly has an undeniable political flair. Faced with apparent danger, she has decided to take action. Of course this is no time to sing the Ode to Joy or build castles in the sky. Nevertheless Berlin's new awareness is the first good news we've heard in the European Union in a long time. With all the required diplomacy, France must now make the best of this positive change of heart. After all, the idea wasn't to appeal to Germany for money, but to convince it to spend more for itself."
Provocation from Paris prompts key debate: Paris's proposal makes good sense because both France and Germany have growth problems, the left-leaning daily taz comments: "Strictly speaking the whole Eurozone is suffering from the impact of the austerity policy imposed by Chancellor Merkel during the euro crisis. Only Germany can still afford to take a different course and invest in growth and jobs. And Germany also just happens to be the country where investments are urgently needed. So from that perspective Paris's initiative makes sense. Naturally one can't expect the spending cuts in France to be set off one by one against investments in Germany. But that's not what [Finance Minister] Sapin and [Economics Minister] Macron meant anyway. Their point is that the Eurozone urgently needs to boost demand. ... The Eurozone needs a new economic policy geared towards growth, not a fiscal policy fixated on cuts. Paris has launched the debate with a provocation - merci!"
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