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News : International Last Updated: Jul 4, 2014 - 3:35 PM


Friday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - July 04, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Jul 4, 2014 - 11:45 AM

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Irish Independent

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan could slash the planned Budget adjustment in half and still meet troika targets.

New figures showing the economy growing faster than previously thought provide scope for an easier Budget.

Economists believe that Mr Noonan needs to take only €1bn out of the economy in October compared to the €2bn demanded by the troika.
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The potential reprieve for hard-pressed families comes as new figures show the economy is bigger than previously thought and growing more quickly, thanks in small part to the inclusion of prostitution and street drugs in official statistics for the first time.

Coupled with stronger-than-expected tax revenues revealed earlier this week, Mr Noonan is now all but certain to easily surpass his budgetary targets. And the minister last night hinted that a much softer Budget may be on the cards, claiming crucial deficit targets could easily be beaten.

Disgraced No 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson was jailed for 18 months today for plotting to hack phones while he was in charge of the News of the World.

The 46-year-old father of three was found guilty last week of conspiring to intercept voicemails at the now-defunct Sunday tabloid following an eight-month trial at the Old Bailey.

Coulson, from Charing, in Kent, was joined in the dock by three former colleagues and private detective Glenn Mulcaire who all admitted their part in hacking before the trial started last year.
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Judge Mr Justice Saunders told the defendants: "I do not accept ignorance of the law provides any mitigation.

"The laws of protection are given to the rich, famous and powerful as to all."

The judge said Coulson clearly thought it was necessary to use phone hacking to maintain the newspaper's "competitive edge".

James Downey: Minutes after Ruairi Quinn announced his resignation the other day, listeners to Newstalk heard Dr Ed Walsh pronounce a most remarkable, and clearly heartfelt, appraisal of the retiring Education Minister.

During his long and distinguished career, we often heard Dr Walsh asserting his opinions. He gave them straight from the shoulder. He left us in no doubt about what he thought of the way our politicians and bureaucrats run our poor little country.

This time he went on the airwaves, not to criticise but to praise a politician and in the highest terms. He said, quite simply, that Ruairi Quinn had once been our best finance minister ever. I agree.
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And although Mr Quinn never reached the highest office, Dr Walsh's words place him in the ranks of the top Irish political figures since independence.

There have been other Labour people who deserved similar accolades. The names of Dick Spring and Barry Desmond come to mind. But Mr Quinn is unique in that he was the only Labour finance minister.

Why have so few representatives of his party earned a comparable place in history? Part of the answer is simple.

Ireland is a conservative country, in which it is hard for even the most moderate left-wing party to thrive. Labour has seldom been in office, and then usually for very short periods. And it has held few desirable positions. Some of its most deserving people have never even reached the cabinet.

Investors spent more money on big commercial property deals in the first six months of this year than in any previous six-month period, as buyers continued to flood the market.

Research from property firm CBRE claims that more than €1.37bn was invested in the Irish market between January and June on transactions of more than €1bn.

That is the highest six-month figure on record, higher even than the peak of the boom in 2006 when investment topped €1.09bn. Indeed, the volume of investment sales recorded in the first half of 2014 is almost a fifth higher than the 10 year average annual spend for the first half of a year.
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The growth has been driven by the glut of top level property deals that have been done since the crash.

There were 77 individual transactions of over €1m completed in the first half of the year. Two deals - the €311.5m sale of Central Park in Leopardstown and a 72pc stake in Liffey Valley shopping centre for €250m - make up more than a third of the overall total. The Platinum portfolio of office blocks in central Dublin meanwhile was sold for about €165m.

Irish Times

Derek Moran, the senior civil servant selected as the preferred candidate to be new secretary general of the Department of Finance, expressed confidence during the boom that the Irish housing market was in for a “soft landing.”

He told a more junior official in his Department to disregard her fears of a property crash in 2006 and to instead toe the consensus line that a crash could never happen.

Mr Moran was among a number of senior civil servants in the Department of Finance who were repeatedly emailed between January 2005 and early 2007 by assistant principal officer Marie Mackle, where she expressed her concerns about the prospect of a property crash.

He was copied on emails where she said that the “official position” on the housing market in the Department could be badly wrong, based on her own research. She said she did not believe that then taoiseach Brian Cowen’s “soft stance” on the property market was correct.

The European Central Bank (ECB) will brief Europe’s banks next week on its plan for disclosing the results of a landmark asset quality review.

The ECB faces a delicate balancing act as it tries to maintain the secrecy of its work to avoid any breaches of market disclosure rules, while not blind-siding banks with unforeseen capital demands that they could struggle to fulfil.

An agenda for a meeting on July 10th shows the ECB’s director general for Micro-Prudential Supervision, Jukka Vesala, will lead a three hour meeting about how the test results will be communicated.

European officials have ordered Luxembourg to hand over documents relating to Amazon’s tax affairs as the online retail giant becomes embroiled in a crackdown that has already drawn in Apple, Starbucks and Fiat’s financial arm.

The EU’s competition commission has sent a request for information to the Grand Duchy, where Amazon’s main European operating company is based, about whether its decisions on corporate tax complied with state aid rules, two people familiar with the matter said.

“We are looking into what kind of arrangement Luxembourg has with Amazon, ” said an EU official. Another EU official said Brussels was conducting fact-finding missions in a number of EU countries as part of its drive to clamp down on “sweetheart” tax deals with large companies.

The commission has already launched three in-depth investigations in Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg into whether decisions made about corporate tax to be paid by Apple, Starbucks and Fiat Finance and Trade breached state aid rules. A request for information is the first step that could lead to a full investigation.

Irish Examiner

Families with an income of more than €100,000 are not wealthy, but are "struggling" to make ends meet, according to Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who has ruled out further tax hikes.

A Dáil argument over what constitutes a rich person in Ireland today was prompted after the People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett called for a “wealth tax” on earnings of over €100,000.

Mr Noonan claimed the socialist TD’s definition of wealth shows he did not understand “what it is like in normal households”.

Mr Noonan said: “The teacher married to the guard or the nurse married to the guard or the teacher — when you take the two incomes together they are over €100,000. They are not well-off, they’re struggling.”

He said: “They are barely making ends meet, they’re barely getting the kids up in the morning and out to school, paying the bills, paying the mortgage, and keeping the car on the road. That is the position in most of rural Ireland. And if you think a gross income for a couple at €100,000 is wealth, you’re not meeting the real people.”

Europe

Euro Topics: The ceasefire talks between the Ukrainian government, Russia and eastern Ukrainian separatists are to resume by Saturday. That was the agreement reached in Berlin by representatives from Moscow and Kiev under German mediation. Germany is finally becoming more active in foreign policy, some commentators write approvingly. Others stress that Germany's trustworthiness depends on the success of the talks.

Germany's new foreign policy: With his attempts at mediating a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is demonstrating what the much called-for more active German foreign policy could look like, the liberal business daily Wirtschaftswoche writes: "The West lacks any sign of a coherent policy that provides for Russia's interests while allowing itself to bare its teeth at its eastern neighbour from time to time. ... It's a good thing that Steinmeier has involved his like-minded French counterpart, but not the Americans or pro-American forces in the EU. Europe must mediate in this conflict without Washington's help to earn respect in the international arena. With his overtures in the Ukraine crisis, Steinmeier is also taking a risk: if his efforts at diplomacy fail, the hardliners in Brussels and Washington could have the say - and impose economic sanctions that would make cooperation with our difficult neighbour impossible for years to come."

French judiciary too political: In view of the investigations against former French president Nicolas Sarkozy the conservative daily Le Figaro rejects talk of a conspiracy but voices concern about the neutrality of the French judiciary: "The magistrate's union has its roots on the left, and it makes no bones about it: its chairman even went as far as openly opposing Sarkozy in [the presidential elections of] 2012. Is that normal? This question must be asked now that one of its members has been charged with investigating the former president. … Such confusion is banned in Spain. Neutrality is the rule in Britain. Even the European Court of Human Rights - which no one suspects of opposing freedoms - imposes restrictions on its judges. This is not about denouncing any sort of plot, as some on the left would have us believe, but about the need to restore confidence in a judiciary that is tasked with serving the interests of the public as a whole."

On the lost values of the Arabs: Religious extremism is just a symptom of the crises in the Middle East. The root of the problem is the lack of democracy, open markets and pluralism, argues the liberal business magazine The Economist: "Only the Arabs can reverse their civilisational decline, and right now there is little hope of that happening. The extremists offer none. The mantra of the monarchs and the military men is 'stability'. In a time of chaos, its appeal is understandable, but repression and stagnation are not the solution. They did not work before; indeed they were at the root of the problem. Even if the Arab awakening is over for the moment, the powerful forces that gave rise to it are still present. The social media which stirred up a revolution in attitudes cannot be uninvented. The men in their palaces and their Western backers need to understand that stability requires reform. ... Pluralism, education, open markets: these were once Arab values and they could be so again."


© Copyright 2011 by Finfacts.com

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