Big news in the finance sector today is the US government's willingness to withdraw its support f...
Big news in the finance sector today is the US government's willingness to withdraw its support for an international crackdown on tax havens spearheaded by the British government, unless threats to sanction uncooperative offshore centres are watered down, reports The Guardian.
In the latest demonstration of Washington's new approach to international relations, the US government is demanding significant changes to an initiative aimed at stamping out "harmful tax practices", agreed by its fellow 30 members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The Times also picks up on the story adding that secretive businesses looking to avoid the annoyance of taxation might soon give a wide berth to Jersey, as the semi-independent island state plans to sign proposals which will end its tax-free status.
The move follows a rash of modernisation plans put forward by the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) in response to demands from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The Times reported this morning that Worldcom, the debt-laden US telecoms company, completed the biggest bond sale on record by an American company yesterday, raising $11.9 billion (£8.2 billion) and renewing confidence in the battered telecoms sector.
The success of the record-breaking bond issue, completed in three different currencies, came as heartening news for BT, which plans to issue $7.1 billion of new shares to help to reduce its crippling debt. On Thursday BTannounced plans for an effective break-up as it moved to convince shareholders to back a deeply discounted £5.9bn ($8.4bn) rescue rights issue.
The FT also reports Bank of England is expected to cut interest rates at its monthly meeting on Thursday but faces a difficult expectations game in deciding the size of the cut. Three members of the Bank's nine-member monetary policy committee voted for a half-point reduction last month and the economic news since then has been generally worse than expected.
Also facing calls to cut interest rates is the European CentralBank, amid signs that the German economy, the most powerful in the eurozone, is running headlong into recession, reports The Times.
German officials yesterday reported that industrial output, a key measure of economic health, tumbled by a much worse than expected 3.7 per cent in March. The data will fuel demands that the ECB move to cut rates at a meeting of members scheduled for lunchtime today.
However according to the FT, Japan is one country which is coming back into favour with fund managers as the news gets better and the stock market rises.
Jonathan Grieg, head of Japanese equities at SG Asset Management, believes that this time, the stock market rally will last, although he cautions that risks remain.
He points to the "new policies or new people" that are in place on several fronts to relaunch efforts to get the economy going again as the main reason for his positive view.
And finally, The Guardian tells of several banks offering bank customers the opportunity to pay for their current account. Lloyds TSB, for instance, is asking its customers to pay £12 a month for its new Platinum offer. The big marketing ploy is the account comes with £98 a year of roadside assistance, £99 of annual travel insurance and other "perks" such as commission-free traveller's cheques.
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Switching 'hard and expensive'
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