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News : International Last Updated: Jun 20, 2014 - 11:38 AM


Friday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - June 20, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Jun 20, 2014 - 9:30 AM

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Irish Independent

HALF of AIB mortgage customers who have received a legal letter from the bank threatening repossession have since engaged with the lender about their arrears.

The bank's chairman and chief executive yesterday both defended the fact that the bailed-out bank has sent 6,600 legal letters to customers in mortgage arrears. They were speaking at the bank's annual general meeting (AGM) in Dublin.

The legal letters are being sent to around 20pc of the 25,000 customers who are three months or more in arrears on their home loan, chairman David Hodgkinson said.

Of those who receive the letters, around half begin to engage with the bank, he said.

"Yes, it is not pleasant to get one, but if it gets re-engagement going then it's better for both parties," Mr Hodgkinson said.

As many as 15pc of that cohort go on to resume fully repaying capital and interest repayments on their home loan, he said.

Nat O'Connor of TASC says Irish society is split between those with 'good jobs', full-time with decent pay, and those with low-paying, part-time or irregular work.

As the National Economic Social Council (NESC) has just reported, Ireland has the highest level of jobless households in Europe, at 23pc – namely households where no one has a job or is likely to have a job. This is not only far higher than the EU average of 11pc, but higher than the second highest (UK and Belgium) at 13pc. This points to severe inequalities of opportunity in Ireland, and inequality of outcomes.

Professor Thomas Piketty's meticulous examination of tax records demonstrates income inequality's rise in Ireland since the 1980s. Wealth inequality is likely to follow a similar pattern, with even greater concentration at the top.

EUROPE will consider looking at any "realistic" requests for bank debt relief, one of the EU's most powerful finance ministers has said.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Dutch finance minister and head of the 18-member eurogroup, said it would be technically possible for Ireland to tap Europe's bailout pot to help pay for some of the crippling cost of bailing out the banks.

But he added it would be politically difficult as it would need unanimous support.

Finfacts: Ireland remains biggest debtor of the western world

Irish Times

On Wall Street, financial engineering masquerades as vision. When it works, you get to be called the Oracle of somewhere or other. If it works for only a short period, you can still get rich. What a country. Which brings us to one of the biggest takeover battles in an age: Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ unsolicited bid for Allergan.

Valeant is the product of cynicism that doubles, as is frequently the case, as a brilliant business model. It’s a drug company that doesn’t develop drugs. Instead, it runs a serial takeover operation, furiously buying companies and products to propel its growth. After easily swallowing a bunch of gel caps, Valeant is now trying to wolf down the horse pill of Allergan, the maker of Botox, in a deal valued at about $53 billion in cash and stock, Valeant’s biggest acquisition yet.

Valeant’s notion is that the pharmaceutical industry is made up of dreamers who waste precious shareholder dollars actually researching and developing drugs. There’s a kernel of truth here. Whole swathes of the drug industry, especially in biotechnology, have never had a return on capital. Fewer dollars have come out than have gone in.

Chris Johns: It is sometimes tempting to conclude that policy-making in Ireland is made up as we go along, and that priorities are assigned to those who shout the loudest. Once upon a time, somebody sat down with a blank sheet of paper, designed a well thought-out, evidence-based strategy, one that was discussed and broadly agreed with all interested parties.

Fairy stories are all very well, but the latest medical card debacle is just another in a long line of examples that suggest sound policy design is simply not something we do very often.

The growing debate over Budget 2015 is another case in point.

Unsurprisingly, our next budget is already attracting headlines. Minister Noonan is due to deliver it in less than four months, and his package will carry much more political than economic significance.

Property developers Paddy McKillen and Johnny Ronan have teamed up to re-enter Dublin’s office construction market backed by a multibillion American investment fund and a British plc.

The two men and their investment backers closed the acquisition of a strategic site beside the former Burlington Hotel in Dublin 4 for €40.5 million yesterday.

Mr Ronan and Mr McKillen had originally planned to bid separately for the site with different backers.
They later decided to jointly submit a successful bid for the site that has planning for a high-spec office block.

Jointly own
The two developers have worked together in the past. They developed and jointly own Treasury Buildings which houses the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) and the National Treasury Management Agency among other projects.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said he has confident that Ireland will not be found to be in breach of state aid rules regarding its tax offering to Apple, ahead of today’s meeting of European finance ministers, the first since the European Commission launched a probe into tax deals offered by Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Speaking on his way into yesterday’s euro group meeting, Mr Noonan said he did not believe the announcement last week of a probe into Ireland would affect its reputation internationally. “I think the Apple situation was pretty old news since the hearings in Congress.”

He said the Government would await the OECD’s proposals on base erosion and profit shifting expected in September, and could make changes in the budget.

Irish Examiner

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is adamant he does not have to cut €2bn from the budget, while the EU opened a glimmer of hope Ireland could get retrospective bank recapitalisation. But Mr Noonan would not say if his budget would leave more money for services, or mean tax cuts for some.

All the EU required was he stick to the timeframe of cutting the deficit to less than 3% of GDP next year. But while the figures in April indicated this would need a budget cut of €2bn, the latest data was better and he would need less to reach the target.

President of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, appeared to contradict a senior EU expert when he said that using the EU’s rescue fund to recapitalise Irish banks retrospectively was technically but not politically possible.

Europe

Euro Topics: On March 13 of this year, three weeks after EL PAÍS, Spain biggest circulation newspaper, published its first story about a scam involving phony training programs headed by businessman José Luis Aneri that had fleeced the regional government of Madrid out of at least €15 million, the newspaper received a letter providing background to the fraud, which dated back 25 years and allegedly involved the Madrid Chamber of Commerce and the regional confederation of businesses, CEIM.

The author of the letter claimed to have been hired in 1991 by the Madrid Chamber of Commerce to set up a training department. As its director, he initially set about trying to prevent the misuse of public money. He says he soon came under pressure: “I was being hassled the whole time. I was threatened by different people. When I refused to sign bogus salary payments I was thrown out. I suffered depression that required treatment, and now live far from Madrid, and have never gotten over this.”
More...

How to deal with non-fans of football: In these times of all-pervading football fever fans must also try to make the lives of non-football fans a little easier, author Kathrin Passig and photographer Ira Strübel write in the liberal-conservative Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung and offer some tips on how: "A first step in the right direction is to stop assuming that everyone is interested in the World Cup. King Football may rule the world, but it's still more polite to ask people whether they're at all interested in this undisputed fact. If the answer is no, then snarky comments ('You just have to be different, don't you?', 'You probably don't have a TV either') should be avoided. Take note of your talking partner's answer and respect their lack of interest by hereafter refraining from asking whether they watched yesterday's game, are going to watch today's game, etc. After all, before the World Cup you were able to behave like a civilised human being and talk about other things, weren't you? ... However if the non-fan is somehow persuaded to go with you and watch a match on a big screen with lots of other fans, you don't have to pretend to be sympathetic when it gets too much for them. After all, they scored an own goal by agreeing to go along."

Christophe Barbier on France's zombie politics: The French opposition party UMP is being rocked by scandals, the government is having a hard time coping with strikes, the unions are plagued by infighting - French politics today is like a haunted graveyard, Christophe Barbier writes in the liberal-conservative weekly magazine L'Express: "In the UMP there are more scandals than ideas and less dedication than ambition. It's like a crypt where the corpses stab the skeletons in the back. ... French politics has entered the zombie era. You can see it in the way the latest strikes have been dealt with: like vampires, the unions fight their internal feuds to the detriment of the public and the French GDP; a ghostly government is incapable of standing up to the railway employees or the temporary show business workers with anything other than ministerial out-of-body experiences; the bewitched members of the National Assembly put ideology above the well-being of the nation. ... Under this starless sky some people have already plunged into the nether world of populism. Others are trying to rub their good wills together to create a bit of light and chase away the ghosts. But will there be enough of them?"

Cyprus lets its poor drown in misery: The Cypriot government wants to introduce basic security benefits of €480 a month for the country's poor. The liberal daily Phileleftheros wonders how people are supposed to survive on that amount: "Let's take the example of a 40-year-old unemployed woman who doesn't own her own home and has to pay rent. She finds a pitiful flat for €200 monthly. Then she has to pay €80 for electricity and ancillary costs. That leaves her €200 for food and medication if she gets sick. She can hardly enjoy a social life on that. And a car is definitely out. ... So what's the problem? The question is whether we're supposed to live or just survive? Isolated in our homes; alone with our misery. And on top of that we have to try and confirm the studies of diverse technocrats who live good, prosperous lives and clearly have no idea what it's like to live on €480 a month."


© Copyright 2011 by Finfacts.com

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