UK

 

Britain was threatened with a triple dip recession by the Bank og England who put 50/50 odds on it and youth unemployment nearly hit 1 million on the morning that George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, was delivering his new budget.  Their budget deficit is £120 (€150) billion, has not changed for two years and is likely to stay there for another one. That means Britain’s debt-to-GDP ratio is set to peak at 86% in 2016-17. 

 

 

Among the many measures in the budget was a further 1% cut in corporation tax, to 20%, (Ireland is 12.5%) and a big expansion of a programme that makes it easier to buy a home with government support. But with the forecast for economic growth slashed by half to 0.6% for 2013, Mr Osborne officially changed the remit of the Bank of England to give it more flexibility in considering ways to achieve "strong, sustainable and balanced growth" alongside low inflation.

 

China

 

Suntech – the solar power giant - filed for bankruptcy in China, after becoming the first modern day Chinese company to default on its bond repayments. Founded by Shi Zhengrong, a Chinese-born Australian entrepreneur, Suntech rode the green-energy boom to become one of the world's biggest solar-panel makers. The main subsidiary of Suntech Power collapsed into bankruptcy in a remarkable reversal for what had been part of a huge Chinese government effort to dominate renewable energy industries. But a glut in the global market for panels, and reduced spending on renewable energy in Europe, has hurt the industry.

 

Britain has been knocked out of the top five weapons exporters for the first time since at least 1950 according to SIPRI, a Swedish think-tank. The top five countries now are America, Russia, Germany, France and China

 

Japan

 

The Bank of Japan appointed a new governor - Haruhiko Kuroda - with a remit from the government to end decades of deflation. In a parting shot Mr Kuroda's predecessor, Masaaki Shirakawa, said if the central bank could easily boost prices in Japan's stagnant economy it would have already done so.

 

India

 

High inflation in India is causing problems. The Indian government is trying to incentivise growth but the central bank warned that "the headroom for further monetary easing" is limited.  The Reserve Bank of India cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of one percentage point for the second time this year, to 7.5%.

 

DP World, a global port-operator based in Dubai, reported a 21% increase in annual profit, to $555m. The news was welcomed by its parent company, Dubai World, a conglomerate stuck in debt and controlled by the emirate's government. Moody's warned recently that 2014 will be a "pivotal year" for Dubai as $20 billion of government debt related to Dubai World comes due. DP World, meanwhile, is on course to open its London Gateway deep-sea port later this year, Europe's largest logistics park.

 

Ireland

 

The government is introducing a new property tax amid a storm of unrest. The revenue commissioners are empowered with collecting it and have setup systems where nobody can hide from it. Many other countries already have a property tax and Ireland is one of the few that doesn’t have one. The major difference is that Ireland is offering no services for its tax.

 

Ryanair placed an order for 175 planes from Boeing for approx. $15.6 billion in spite of the problems Boeing is having with its grounded Dreamliner

 

America

 

Airbus received one of its biggest-ever orders. Lion Air, an Indonesian carrier, is buying 234 of its jets for $24 billion as it expands to become one of South-East Asia's largest airlines.

 

The SEC - Securities and Exchange Commission - levied its biggest-ever fine for insider trading on SAC Capital Advisors, which is run by Steven Cohen and is one of the world's most successful hedge funds. The firm will pay $616m to settle two cases, $602m of which is related to a tip-off given to a trader in an SAC affiliate by a drugs researcher about the disappointing results of a new treatment for Alzheimer's. SAC neither admitted nor denied the allegations.

 

In the second biggest class action agreement, Citigroup said it would pay $730m to settle allegations that it misled investors about its exposure to toxic subprime mortgages between 2006 and 2008. Bank of America paid a $2.4 billion settlement with aggrieved investors last year.

 

Apple has cash in hand of $137 billion and it is facing investor pressure to return more of its money to shareholders.

 

Tech companies in America have been reported by Moody's Investor Service that non-financial companies in America have amassed a record cash pile of $1.45 trillion at the end of 2012.

 

Cyprus

 

Cyprus has a funding problem and is in need of about €18 billion.  The European Central Bank has set Cyprus a Monday deadline to agree a bailout, threatening to cut off funding to the islands' cash-strapped banks if a programme is not agreed by then with the EU and the IMF.  Banks are closed and there is a limit of €260 per day on withdrawals through ATMs

 

Italy

 

An Italian maker of sleek stationery, Moleskine, launched an IPO, through which it hopes to raise up to €560m. Moleskine was revived by two Italian businessmen in 1995 after production ceased in France, where its round-cornered black notebooks were made famous by Ernest Hemingway, among others. Moleskine's stockmarket debut in April will test the appetite for listings in Europe's troubled southern region.

 

Canada

 

Lululemon Athletica Inc. said on Tuesday that a problem with the sheerness in the material used for a batch of its hip-hugging black Luon pants and crops has forced it to pull them from its shelves. Luon pants are seriously pricey yoga wear, and Lululemon issued a recall for its bottoms because of a high "level of sheerness" that was too revealing. It warned there would be a shortage of the pants in its stores, presumably because men were rushing out to buy them for their wives and girlfriends.

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