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News : International Last Updated: Jul 1, 2014 - 12:18 PM


Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - July 01, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Jul 1, 2014 - 8:39 AM

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Irish Independent

THEY are some of the most powerful women in the tech industry – but even they are split on the issue of gender quotas, not knowing whether they are a help or a hindrance in shattering the glass ceiling.

A major inaugural Female Founders Forum discussing the benefits of investing in female-led start-ups heard that Ireland could become a global leader by involving more women in the tech sector.

Over 250 people – including a smattering of men – attended the event, which was a complete sell-out, with Global Invest Her founder Anne Ravanona, Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon and Dr Helen McBreen, venture leader at the National Development Research Centre among the panel of experts.

Organiser Ann O'Dea, CEO of Silicon Republic, explained that she had decided to hold the event because of the lack of focus on women in the tech industry.

Eamon Delaney: The latest report by Social Justice Ireland about poverty contains revelations that are shocking and yet not so surprising. It claims 170,000 more people are living in poverty since the beginning of the recession and one in five children live in households with incomes below the poverty line. But the really damning statistic is that 16pc of adults living in poverty are actually working. Indeed, it is surprising that this figure is not actually higher.

Many of us would have problems over the years with the definition of 'poverty' as used by Fr Sean Healy of Social Justice Ireland, and the way the definition was rather relative during the boom. However, now that times have changed so dramatically, his statistics and focus are particularly apt. For this is not a crisis that is hitting everyone equally.

The reality is that we have not a two-tier economy but a three-tier one. There are those at the top still enjoying a relatively good lifestyle. There are those at the bottom who are on social welfare, and there are those in the middle: the squeezed middle.

But sometimes those in the middle must feel that they'd be better at the bottom and on welfare, where at least they would have secure and regular benefits, especially if they have children.

Euro zone inflation remains stuck at levels last seen during the 2009 recession and lending to companies and households is still shrinking, new data showed, highlighting the bloc’s feeble economic state.

The reports - for June and May, respectively - underlined the reason for the European Central Bank’s unprecedented policy steps last month when it cut interest rates to record lows and promised to hand out more long-term loans to encourage banks to lend more freely.

It will take a while for the measures to take effect and they would not have influenced Monday’s releases. Details have not yet been announced for the long-term loans and most economists do not expect any fresh policy steps when the ECB meets on Thursday.

But there is no sign that the pressure on the ECB is easing.

“The ECB has just announced new measures to signal its readiness to bring inflation back to target and boost lending, but it will surely keep the door wide open to more measures at this week’s meeting,” said Berenberg Bank’s Christian Schulz.

Annual euro zone inflation stayed at 0.5pc in June compared with May, Eurostat said. Core annual inflation - excluding energy, food, alcohol and tobacco - inched up to 0.8pc.

This was slightly unexpected after annual inflation in Germany rebounded to 1pc in June, which Berenberg’s Schulz said suggested “a widening of the range of inflation rates between the core and the periphery”.

IRELAND's outgoing European Commissioner, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, is entitled to a total €432,000 EU pay-off over the next three years to help her adjust to life after Brussels.

Ms Geoghegan-Quinn will also be entitled to an EU pension of more than €54,000 a year from September 2015.

And from this autumn, she can also resume collecting her Irish TD and ministerial pensions totalling €108,000 a year – giving her total pension entitlements worth over €3,000 a week.

It comes as speculation mounts over Taoiseach Enda Kenny's upcoming announcement over Ireland's next EU Commissioner, with Environment Minister Phil Hogan long considered a frontrunner; but other names now emerging include Labour's Eamon Gilmore and MEP Mairead McGuinness.

Irish Times

Eamon Gilmore has personally sought the support of the two candidates to succeed him as Labour leader and Tánaiste for his efforts to be Ireland’s next European commissioner.

Mr Gilmore outlined his intentions to get the job to both Alex White and Joan Burton in separate face-to-face meetings in recent days.

Labour is pushing for Mr Gilmore to succeed Máire Geoghegan-Quinn on the European Commission, and is insisting no deal was reached with Fine Gael on the post in earlier Coalition negotiations.

While Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan is still seen as the front-runner, a string of Labour Party Ministers and TDs have said their leader would make an excellent commissioner.

In advance of last week’s EU summit on the commission presidency, Mr Gilmore sought meetings with Mr White and Ms Burton.

Bringing back the trams was the trendy thing to do in the early 1990s. New tramways were already running in the French cities of Grenoble, Nantes and Strasbourg, and many more were being planned. Even Manchester was getting one. It was the urban transport solution du jour.

After plans for what became known as Luas were put forward by consultants Steer Davies Gleave for the Dublin Transport Initiative, there was almost immediate public acceptance. The only real worry people had was that the power lines would detract from the streetscape.

A three-branch network was proposed, linking Ballymun, Dundrum and Tallaght with the city centre. For cost reasons, one line had to be dropped and the axe fell on Ballymun – fewer people on the route had cars, so the benefits of Luas in promoting a switch to public transport were more marginal.

Former minister for finance Charlie McCreevy formally presented the controversial decentralisation programme to Cabinet colleagues hours before unveiling his 2004 Budget in the Dail, Freedom of Information (FoI) records show.

Government memos released to The Irish Times record Mr McCreevy outlining the “potential drawbacks” and “considerable challenges” of the now-cancelled scheme to senior members of the Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats coalition on December 3rd, 2003, the day the Budget was announced.

The briefing was given a day after he finalised the Budget.

The confidential records, marked “top secret”, also show Mr McCreevy warning fellow Ministers: “The period of exceptional economic growth enjoyed by Ireland is over”.

The Irish Times requested copies of Cabinet papers relating to Budget 2004, particularly documents relating to decentralisation.

A total of 99 records were identified. Of those, 62 were released in full and eight partially.

A total of 29 records were withheld. The record of the Government discussion that followed the presentation of Mr McCreevy’s decentralisation memo was one of the records withheld.

 Irish hospital consultants are still among the highest-paid in the world, despite the cuts imposed during the economic downturn, according to new figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Ireland spends less than any other country in western Europe on health as a proportion of gross domestic product, OECD Health Statistics 2014 shows, though spending started to creep back upwards last year.

In a finding likely to be seized upon by those seeking an end to health cutbacks, the OECD says total health spending in Ireland was 8.9 per cent of GDP in 2012, much lower than the 16.9 per cent recorded in the US and allocations of over 11 per cent in the Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Germany.

Irish Examiner

Nama could be wound up before the 2016 general election, according to people familiar with the situation.

The Department of Finance is currently conducting a major review of the agency which is expected to be released before the Dáil goes on summer recess. According to a weekend report in the Sunday Business Post, the investment bank, UBS, has carried out a review of Nama’s assets.

The aim would be to wind up Nama before the next general election, which could then be cited as another milestone on the road to recovery, said one person familiar with the situation.

The Government successfully restructured the €27bn in promissory notes in February 2013. As part of that restructuring, IBRC was put into liquidation. At the time, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan announced that all IBRC assets would be put up for sale and any remaining assets would be transferred to Nama.

As recently as April, the minister was guiding that €5bn-€6bn of IBRC’s €22bn portfolio would likely end up in Nama. However, because of buoyant market conditions, the vast bulk of the IBRC portfolio has already been sold to private investors and it is expected that the remaining assets will be divested before the end of this year.

The Government will also look to part privatise AIB before the election. The faster winding down of Nama is seen as key to this strategy. AIB was holding €15bn of senior AIB bonds at the end of last year. These bonds are a major drag on profitability. Consequently, the faster that Nama redeems these bonds, the quicker AIB’s operating performance will improve.

Europe

Euro Topics: British Prime Minister David Cameron approached Jean-Claude Juncker to discuss future cooperation on Sunday. Prior to that Juncker had been nominated as European Commission President at the EU summit. By opposing Juncker's nomination for weeks on end Cameron has manoeuvred the UK on to the sidelines, some commentators believe. For others, Britain has strengthened its negotiating position on EU reforms.

Juncker must keep British in the EU: Now that Jean-Claude Juncker has been nominated against Cameron's will, the liberal business daily Handelsblatt says it's "time to examine the relationship between Britain and the EU. ... In future a clearer distinction must be made between constructive criticism and blockades that lead to a dead end. A community of partners must be able to withstand internal opposition; and it will if bother sides refrain from going off in a huff. This is why it is imperative that Berlin and London work together closely now, despite all the tensions. ... Europe needs more competitiveness, jobs and growth as well as an energy union that secures its energy supplies. Jean-Claude Juncker will be judged by whether he implements strategic goals - and by whether he manages to keep the British on board."

Brexit increasingly likely: Since Cameron will hardly be able to achieve his objectives with a Juncker Commission he'll bring forward the referendum on leaving the EU for tactical reasons, the left-liberal weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur predicts. But the prospect of a Brexit "doesn't thrill everyone, starting with the 'City', which would lose its command over the old continent. It also worries manufacturers and traders, half of whose business is with Europe. For others, exiting also means the risk of seeing markets shrink and having Britain become less attractive for foreign investors. … There's no guarantee that the worst will happen. But with his stubbornness, cynicism and arrogance, Cameron will be the first to be hit by the bomb he himself has set off."

Debate about Stability Pact is pointless: The EU has settled the debate about the EU Stability and Growth Pact for the time being: the heads of state and government agreed on a compromise formulation at their summit meeting on Friday that supposedly takes account of the different positions. The discussion is pointless anyway, the liberal daily Corriere del Ticino writes: "From the economic perspective it's once again all about the conflict between austerity and growth - only in a watered-down and pointless version. Watered-down because the proponents of the theory that fiscal discipline and growth are incompatible have less and less ammunition: from day to day it's becoming clearer that those countries that fix their budgets are faring better economically. Consequently fiscal discipline is a prerequisite for growth rather than an obstacle. Pointless because the Stability and Growth Pact already contains flexibility for the EU member states. A flexibility that was also liberally applied when it came to the requirements for joining the monetary union."

Hypo Alpe Adria: Bavarian outcry is hypocrisy: Several investors of Hypo Alpe Adria Bank - which was nationalised in 2009, including the German state of Bavaria, are threatening to take legal action in view of Austria's plans for a debt restructuring. The left-liberal daily Der Standard also has its doubts about whether the measure is legally watertight: "The problems begin with the bail-in put forward on the EU level by the finance minister, by means of which a restructuring contribution can be demanded of future investors. Provisions that will come into force in 2016 will make it very difficult to win legal disputes before the Constitutional Court or the European Court of Justice. ... But things look different with the Bavarians. Münchner Landesbank helped cause the Hypo debacle and then shirked all responsibility. However it knew more about Hypo's bad loans than the other bond underwriters. The Bavarians' outrage borders on hypocrisy."


© Copyright 2011 by Finfacts.com

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