LSBF Blog - Global Matters

Banks in the UK to face full competition inquiry

July 21 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

The Competition and Markets Authority has recommended that UK banks face a full competition inquiry.

The UK’s retail banking sector is lacking competition and needs to be subject to a full competition investigation, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Two studies conducted by the markets watchdog found that the existing range of options offered by the banking sector fails to satisfy the needs of either individuals or small businesses. As a result, it has now opened aconsultation on its decision to launch an in-depth market investigation that will focus on the markets for personal current accounts and banking for small and medium-sized businesses.

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Turkey slashes interest rates for third month in a row

July 21 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Turkey’s central bank has slashed interest rates yet again in the third consecutive month of cuts.

Turkey has been seen as a high-potential market, but recent instability there has made its outlook less certain.

Now, the central bank has made yet another dramatic cut to interest rates in a bid to keep the country on its feet, with the third round of interest rate cuts in three months announced on 17 July.

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UK cities could provide energy competition with their own green energy

Competition could be improved in the energy market if cities invested in their own green energy, a new report says.

There has been plenty of talk in recent months about competition in the UK energy market – or the alleged lack of it. The ‘Big Six’ energy companies account for the vast majority of the nation’s customers and with prices continually rising, an official investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority is currently under way.

But a new report from the think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) argues that there is another way to increase competition – by encouraging cities and local authorities to invest in producing green energy themselves.

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UK employment rate rises to record high

July 18 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

The UK has experienced a record-breaking annual rise in employment, with close to a million people now in work compared to a year ago, official figures from the government have revealed.

According to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the past 12 months have seen a rapid increase in the number of people now in employment, which is equal to the record high of 2005.

There are now 30.6 million people in work, 1.8 million more than in 2010, when the current government came into power. MPs in the coalition were quick to explain this upsurge as testament to its commitment to tackling unemployment and making real progress.

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Apple and IBM enter into partnership to develop business apps

July 18 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Two of the biggest multinational companies in the world, Apple and IBM, have formed an ‘exclusive partnership’ that will see them develop innovative apps aimed at the business world.

Apple and IBM revealed that they are working on a ‘new class’ of applications focused on enterprises, in what is a landmark partnership.

One of the biggest outcomes of this new working relationship is the assimilation of IBM’s big data and analytical capabilities into Apple’s products, namely its iPhone and iPad. Both corporations said the deal marks a breakthrough in their approach to their respective spheres of expertise.

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UK government is owed £22 billion, reveals Public Accounts Committee

July 16 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

The UK government’s Public Accounts Committee has revealed that the government is owed a remarkable £22 billion.

Around £15 billion of this total needs to be paid to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), while the rest is largely owed to the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice.

According to the committee’s report, the government is falling short of getting back what it is owed, resulting in higher borrowing and, consequently, holding it back from making real and lasting changes across all its departments.

For example, with £22 billion, it would be possible to build 1,500 new schools. It is also equivalent to a fifth of the total public funding that goes into the nation’s healthcare system.

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'BRICS Bank' planned to give developing countries a voice

July 16 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

China has revealed that BRICS may be taking a central role in nurturing a commanding voice among developing countries so that they have a bigger influence on politics at an international level.

Speaking ahead of a BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Brazil, President Xi Jinping explained that this will ensure that there is an equal balance of power, which is still largely concentrated in industrialised western countries.

The economic powerhouse has already made significant efforts in this area by, for example, looking into the viability of a “BRICS bank”, which would challenge the hegemony of institutions like the World Bank.

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London hedge funds focusing on US rather than Europe

More and more London-based hedge funds groups are looking across the Atlantic for investment opportunities.

Winton Capital, Odey Asset Management and Cheyne Capital are just a few of the big names refocusing their attention on the US market because the potential there is markedly more pronounced than in Europe.

The Financial Times reported that this strategic change comes on the back of investors in North America “significantly” boosting their allocations to hedge funds, especially in pension schemes.

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ECB President Mario Draghi offers banks $1 trillion

The president of the European Central Bank (ECB) Mario Draghi is offering banks up to $1 trillion (approximately £557 billion) of cheap funding, in the latest effort to boost growth in the eurozone.

Mr Draghi, who was previously the governor of the Bank of Italy, is hoping this stimulus measure will act as a spark for boosting credit and investor activity, as well as ensure the financial system is “flush with cash”, Bloomberg reported.

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How SMEs can better manage customer relationships

In an information age defined by an interconnected, always on the go mindset, it can be all too easy for small and medium enterprises (SME) not to keep on top of things and maintain a high level of transparency.

The way small businesses operate has changed, and, with the advent of big data, it is becoming increasingly hard to manage the sheer volume of information that is automatically captured.

To streamline operations and ensure that rapport with customers remain solid and mutually beneficial, it pays to invest in technology. The biggest game-changer over the last 20 or so years has been the evolution of customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

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Amazon to test its Prime Air drones in public

July 14 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Amazon has requested permission from the United States’ Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to test its possibly groundbreaking drones outside of its research laboratory to get a real world feel of the challenges and possibilities of this technology.

In a letter published on regulations.gov, the international e-commerce company explained that its energy to innovate comes from its innate philosophy of delivering excellent customer service – it invents for their benefit.

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George Osborne and William Hague promote business with UK to India

July 11 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

UK Chancellor George Osborne, with Foreign Secretary William Hague, has offered foreign direct investment opportunities to India, hoping to secure lucrative deals to the benefit of the subcontinent and of course Britain.

Mr Osborne is keen to build a strong, mutually advantageous relationship with India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is equally enthusiastic about delivering on his election promises to transform the country.

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The new SME boom: A look at the African startup revolution

July 11 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Africa has been experiencing something of a startup revolution as of late.

Over the last few years, local entrepreneurs with plenty of ideas and ambitions have been developing products that are focused on meeting the specific needs, and transforming the image, of the continent.

Part of the reason for this recent surge is the increasing presence of technology in Africa.

While there is clearly a lot to do in terms of developing accessible electricity required to power innovation and champion progress, greater wireless connectivity and access to smartphones and computers is having a positive impact on the continent.

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UK retail prices report biggest fall since 2006

July 10 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

British retailers have reported their biggest annual decline in prices since June 2006, according to a new survey.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed that overall shop prices experienced deflation for the 14th consecutive month, falling by 1.8 per cent last month, the “deepest” since its index came into existence.

Another record was achieved with food inflation, which fell to an astonishing 0.6 per cent in June. Meanwhile, non-food items experienced a quickening in deflation, recording 3.4 per cent last month (it was 2.8 per cent in May).

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Euro strength needs to be reduced, ECB told

July 10 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

The European Central Bank (ECB) is being urged to make a concerted effort to reduce the strength of the euro.

Fabrice Bregier, president and chief executive officer of Airbus, believes that an increasingly strong euro is hampering the ability of the eurozone to grow and thrive.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he called on decision makers within the European Central Bank to focus their attention on cutting the “crazy” strength of the euro.

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India's economy to grow by 6% in 2014-15

July 10 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

India’s economy is projected to grow by as much as six per cent this financial year, according to new analysis.

The India Economy Survey revealed that the emerging economic giant is likely to experience GDP growth in the value of between 5.4 per cent and 5.9 per cent in 2014/15.

Tabled by Arun Jaitley, India’s finance minister, the survey casts the subcontinent in a very strong position, with plenty of potential for investors home and abroad.

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British Chambers of Commerce warn against hasty interest rate rises

The Bank of England has been advised by the British Chambers of Commerce to approach interest rate increases with caution.

In its Quarterly Economic Survey for Q2 2014, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) advised the Bank to refrain from “hasty decisions”, arguing that it could limit economic development.

John Longworth, director of the BCC, said that a premature hike in interest rates would potentially hamper the growth of firms that the nation is “counting on to drive the recovery”.

Canvassing the opinions of 7,000 UK businesses, researchers found that growth in certain industries has slowed between April and June. However, the economy is in robust health, showing positive signs and clearly “moving in the right direction”.

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Graduate recruitment in UK returns to pre-recession high

July 09 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

A new report from research firm High Fliers shows that the graduate recruitment market has returned to pre-recession levels.

Graduates have faced some fairly testing times in the years since the financial crisis took hold. Employment prospects slackened for a while, but a recent flurry of positive data has suggested that the market is getting back on its feet. In fact, a new report from research company High Fliers shows that the UK’s graduate job market is actually back at its pre-recession peak.

The Graduate Market in 2014 shows that organisations that appeared in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers rose by 2.5 per cent in 2013 from the previous year. That more than reversed the 0.8 per cent decline seen in 2012 and left graduate opportunities performing strongly overall.

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VIDEO: ‘Great Minds’ Series – Former UK PM Sir John Major speaks on the value of education

July 07 ,2014 | by LSBF Blog Staff

Education helps equip students with the tools necessary to shatter the glass ceiling on what they could achieve, believes Sir John Major, former Prime Minister of the UK.

We recently spoke to Sir John as part of the LSBF ‘Great Minds’ series. Watch our interview of Sir John here, conducted by former UK Home Secretary and Education Secretary, David Blunkett.

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Germany introduces new national minimum wage

July 07 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Germany has introduced a minimum wage for the first time in the country’s history.

Members of the German parliament approved plans to set the least amount of money a person can earn at €8.50 (£6.80) an hour. The Christian Democrats, led by chancellor Angela Merkel, will work alongside the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in a power-sharing deal to place this new policy in place.

Nations such as the UK and US already have a minimum wage in place but Germany’s €8.50 an hour rate is higher than both of these countries. The UK’s rate was revised in 2013 to £6.31 an hour while the US’ Federal government set the nation’s lowest minimum wage at $7.25 (£4.22) an hour. However, a large number of states including California, Florida and New York have a much higher rate.

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Obama criticises Wall Street’s ‘big bonuses for bankers’ culture

United States President Barack Obama has attacked the risk-taking, big bonus culture of Wall Street, claiming that it poses a threat to the economic security of the country.

Speaking in an interview with the radio programme Marketplace, he promised that he would do everything in his power to make the financial world more transparent.

Mr Obama said that while a lot had been done in the way of improvements, following on from the credit crunch of 2008, there was still “unfinished business” – the system requires further and deeper reforms.

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IPOs in European stock markets begin to lose steam

A flurry of high-value IPOs have kept Europe’s markets busy recently, but it seems interest is cooling off.

European markets have seen a rush of high-value initial public offerings (IPOs) in the past few months. London alone has been a hive of flotation activity, but Paris and Frankfurt have also been attractive locations.

On 3 July, ING floated its insurance arm NN Group on the Amsterdam stock exchange in the largest IPO of the year, which valued the company at €7 billion.

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Escalating house prices ‘a risk to UK economy’

July 03 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Sir Jon Cunliffe has warned that the biggest risk to the UK is the housing market, claiming that rising prices, which are escalating upwards faster than people’s incomes, is a particular cause for concern.

The Bank of England’s deputy governor told BBC Radio 5 Live that such a situation is problematic because it leads to “a big increase in the amount of debt in the economy” and equally, the “amount of debt that mortgage holders have”.

Therefore, if left unchecked, it could create the conditions necessary for a financial crisis to unfold, which would be hugely damaging to the UK and, in turn, the rest of the world.

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20 years of Brazilian Real – why do countries launch new currencies?

July 03 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Brazil introduced the real two decades ago as part of a bid to beat inflation. But, why do countries launch new currencies?

On 1 July, Brazil celebrated the 20th anniversary of introducing a new currency. The real made a massive difference to the nation’s economy, and it is not surprising that many Brazilians look back negatively on the time before the currency was in use.

But why do countries introduce new currencies, and does it make a difference?

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Victory for consumers as roaming charges fall across EU

July 03 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Roaming fees around the European Union are set to fall as new price caps take effect.

European Union (EU) price caps have now come into force that could cut data roaming fees in half.

Phone users travelling around the bloc often disable their mobile data to minimise costs, or even invest in a smaller, cheaper feature phone that they can take with them and only pay for what they use. But the European Commission is planning to eventually phase out the high costs associated with roaming.

The first staging post was a 1 July move to reduce the existing price cap for downloading data from 45 cents (36p) per megabyte to 20 cents, while the maximum fee for making calls has dropped from 24 to 19 cents.

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