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News : International Last Updated: Jul 9, 2013 - 12:11 PM


Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - July 09, 2013
By Finfacts Team
Jul 9, 2013 - 10:18 AM

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Irish Independent

FORMER Fianna Fail junior minister Ivor Callely has been ordered to repay loans totalling €11m related to a disastrous property investment.

If he fails to repay the debt, the controversial former poll-topping TD could face financial ruin and even the prospect of bankruptcy.

Mr Callely consented to a High Court judgment being entered against him by the Irish branch of Investec Bank – which means he accepts that he is liable for the money owed but does not necessarily mean he has the means to repay the debt.

Securing a judgment is the first step lenders take to force a borrower to repay money owed. Failure by a borrower to act following a judgment can ultimately lead to bankruptcy.

The Irish branch of Investec Bank brought High Court proceedings against Mr Callely, with an address at St Lawrence's Road, Clontarf, Dublin, arising from a March 2007 loan agreement.

BUSINESS confidence is on the increase, with two reports highlighting the growing perception among owners and managers of an economic revival.

A survey of chief executives of big companies by PwC shows they are more confident now than at any time since 2007. More than half of all executives expect their revenue to grow this year.

Even among the usually more cautious small firms sector, confidence grew steadily during the second quarter, with businesses now more optimistic than at any stage in the past year.

A new Europe-wide geographic study shows that Ireland's urban/rural split is the most extreme anywhere across the continent.

Nowhere else in Europe is so overwhelmingly rural, according to the report from the European statistics agency Eurostat.

This matters because the report highlights the huge divergence in economic output between urban and rural areas.

In the case of Ireland that is not just a question of development around industry, it also works the other way.

Investment by multi- nationals is running at a high but new jobs tend to be focused on a zone of investment within an hour's drive, or less, of Dublin.

BUSINESS chiefs have taken the rare step of issuing a joint statement with trade unionists demanding action from the Government on pensions.

It comes after it emerged last week that many bust pension schemes missed a deadline earlier this month to plug deficits, with seven out of 10 defined benefit schemes in trouble.

A statement from IBEC, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and the Irish Association of Pensions Funds said the Government could no longer ignore the "pensions crisis".

"Nearly 65,000 employees have been affected by the cessation of more than 400 defined benefit schemes since the end of 2008," they said.

"We expect scheme closures to continue. Many of these could be prevented if the Government now takes action."

Irish Times

Householders who fail to pay new water charges face having their water pressure reduced, under new measures approved by the Government.

The cost of water charges has yet to be formally agreed, but informed sources indicate the cost to an average household will be in the region of between €100 and €300 a year.

In addition, new legislation will provide that unpaid water charges may be made against a householder’s property.

The measures are contained in new legislation, the Water Services (No 2) Bill, approved by the Cabinet last week. It is due to be published over the coming months.

While householders who fail to pay will not be disconnected, Irish Water – the new body responsible for water supply – will have the power to reduce the water pressure of any customer who consistently refuses to pay.

Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm has said he will consider whether to participate in any official banking inquiry when its terms of reference are known and he has sought legal advice.

Mr Drumm again made no commitment to return to Ireland from the United States to answer questions from investigators examining various matters in the run-up to the collapse of the bank.

“I live and work in the United States and I have a family to support,” he said. Mr Drumm claimed he had “not hidden from my role as CEO of Anglo during the liquidity crisis”, but he stopped short of saying that he would participate in a banking inquiry.

Former Irish Life and Permanent chief executive Denis Casey has said he is “not at all surprised” by David Drumm’s “intemperate tirade” about him in the latest extracts to be published from the Anglo Irish Bank private taped telephone conversations dating back to September 2008.

Mr Drumm, Anglo’s chief executive, is heard telling the bank’s head of capital markets, John Bowe, on the telephone call that Irish Life and Permanent’s “f**king chief executive was non-receptive” to Mr Drumm’s idea of a proposed merger of the two institutions as a solution to Anglo’s growing financial problems.

“Insulting language was the stock-in-trade of the Anglo executives,” said Mr Casey in response to the telephone conversation, details of which were published in last weekend’s Sunday Independent...
Mr Casey said his affidavit unequivocally states that the support provided by Irish Life to Anglo arose solely as a result of a request by the Central Bank and Financial Regulator that Irish Life participate in a “green jersey agenda” to protect the stability of the Irish financial system as the crisis deepened.

The euro zone must take coordinated action to revive economic growth, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said last night in a strongly worded statement that cited the need to repair bank balance sheets, advance a banking union and support demand.

“Growth remains weak and unemployment is at a record high. Concerted policy actions to restore financial sector health and complete the banking union are essential,” the IMF said in a regular assessment of the currency bloc’s economy.

“The centrifugal forces across the euro area remain serious and are pulling down growth everywhere,” it said in a statement.

The euro zone economy has been battered by a severe sovereign debt crisis that has required massive bailouts of several of its smaller members, with Greece securing a €6.8 billion lifeline yesterday.

Irish Examiner

Michael Dell won support from Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) for the $24.4bn (€19bn) buyout of his company, a surprise endorsement from an influential shareholder adviser.

Dell and Silver Lake Management’s buyout plan would shelter shareholders from risks tied to the deteriorating personal- computer business, ISS said yesterday.

Ireland is a small and very open economy.

Its large external trade component in particular means that data can quite often give confusing signals about the state of the economy.

Recent releases show it is very important to drill down into the figures to find out exactly what is going on. One should also use a broad range of indicators in assessing the state of the economy.

Recent national accounts data have been particularly confusing. They show that, on a GDP basis, the economy contracted in four of the last five quarters and is back in recession. However, on a GNP basis, the economy expanded in four of the last five quarters, and is now growing quite robustly. Which of these is correct?

There is no doubt that the economy lost momentum over the course of 2012 and into the first quarter of this year as a result of a marked fall-off in export growth. Thus, the GDP figures are correct in pointing to a slowdown in growth. However, they don’t take into account that profit repatriations also declined.

Europe

Presseurop: Too often we forget that belonging to the EU enabled countries like Spain and Italy to develop economically, while setting aside their old colonial aspirations. And this should also influence how we see the future of Union, argues a Dutch political scientist.

“Africa begins at the Pyrenees”: the aphorism often attributed to Alexandre Dumas, which was more recently used in 1959 by Albert Camus, has always horrified the Spanish. If there is one continent with which they do not want to be associated, it is Africa.

Meindert Fennema writes in the Dutch daily Volkskrant: In fact, as early as 1898, the year in which Cuba became independent, it was clear that Spain was no longer an empire. For many years thereafter, the Spanish still wondered if Spain could remain culturally dominant in Latin America. Under Franco, the political elite believed that Spain could still impose its authority as a major power, but with the death of Franco in 1975, the illusion of a Spanish world empire also passed away.

The EU-US trade talks, which begin in Washington on July 8, could unlock tens of billions of euros worth of savings and cut away needless bureaucracy. But a lack of trust after the recent US eavesdropping scandal is only the first of many hurdles to be overcome.

Katherine Rushton writes in The Daily Telegraph: Washington DC is not a city that lacks for bureaucrats. This week there will be even more of them than usual. The US capital is about to play host to the first round of the bilateral trade talks between America and the European Union, a sweeping set of negotiations, the ultimate aim of which is to reduce the obstacles to the two economic blocs doing business with each other.

Euro Topics:  The Salafists in Egypt have blocked the government formation process and rejected two candidates for the office of interim prime minister. Dozens of people have been killed and over 1,000 wounded in clashes between supporters and opponents of ex-president Mohammed Morsi. Commentators warn against excluding the Islamists from political participation and fear a civil war like that in Algeria twenty years ago.

Morsi's ousting by the army will set a dangerous precedent, the liberal weekly business magazine The Economist fears: "It will encourage the disaffected to try to eject governments not by voting them out but by disrupting their rule. It will create an incentive for oppositions all over the Arab world to pursue their agendas on the streets, not in parliaments....It also sends a dreadful message to Islamists everywhere. The conclusion they will draw from events in Egypt is that, if they win power in elections, their opponents will use non-democratic means to oust them. So if they are allowed to come to office, they will very likely do their damnedest to cement their power by fair means or foul."

In the current unclear situation in Egypt all parties are simply trying to secure their privileges, the liberal German daily Tagesspiegel criticises: "Egypt's middle class has practically no public spirit. Most of them have no sense whatsoever of what a slave-owning society has existed around them for decades. More than half the population is uneducated and extremely poor. The school systems are run-down and totally overloaded because many of the rich hardly pay any taxes and put their money into private schools and universities for their own children instead. And Egypt's middle classes behave exactly the same way in political life as they do in their private life. … Things are hardly better when it comes to the much celebrated national heroes of the Egyptian military. The generals are worried about their business empires, which account for 40 percent of Egypt's economic performance. They're the biggest landowners by far. They produce everything, from bottles for drinking water to refrigerators to cars and flat screens."

In a bid to overcome the current government crisis the coalition partners in Portugal reached an agreement on Saturday. Paulo Portas, who resigned as foreign minister and is leader of the CDS, the junior party in the ruling coalition, has been nominated to the newly created post of deputy prime minister with the responsibility of coordinating economic policies and relations with the troika. The liberal-conservative Portuguese daily Diário de Notícias is less than enthusiastic about the move: "This new model still requires the approval of President Cavaco Silva. … And achieving a new phase of growth and job creation takes more than just words. Portas and his CDS want to push through tax relief. … But the troika will only agree to changes in the financial and fiscal policy if there are considerable cutbacks in public spending. Consequently Portas will have to present a credible plan for state reform that includes cutbacks of 4.7 billion euros. Only time will tell whether this patchwork job has indeed managed to strengthen the government's cohesion."

Sarkozy will return to the headquarters of his conservative UMP party today for the first time since 2007. The current president François Hollande has every reason to fear Sarkozy's return, the conservative French daily Le Figaro writes: "The left would do well not to neglect the main thing: the man it is obsessed, fascinated and in a way shaped by is once again at the centre of the game. This will have consequences. François Hollande is well aware of that, he who was elected fourteen months ago simply due to the widespread rejection of his adversary. He took office with anti-Sarkozyism blazoned on his forehead and an unrealistic programme whose demagogy he is paying for today, which he must revise to the great displeasure of his camp. The UMP is in a mess? No doubt, but the left is as well, perhaps even more so."

2013 is set to be a record year for Greek tourism, with the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises expecting 17 million visitors. The conservative Greek daily Kathimerini writes that rather than luring as many tourists as possible the country should focus on attracting wealthy visitors: "Tourism looks particularly good this year. Even Athens, a city whose reputation suffered among tourists in past years, is once again becoming an attractive holiday destination. But we must develop our tourism plans with professionalism and a vision. Just attracting so-and-so-many million visitors is the wrong goal, one we should abandon. It makes no sense for the islands to be overrun by tourists who spend very little while those with more buying power are scared off. Perhaps the time has even come to limit the number of visitors to some popular tourist destinations, as is customary in other countries."

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