The Times writes that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has been severely criticised in an...
The Times writes that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has been severely criticised in an internal report into the way the City watchdog dealt with the collapse of Equitable Life.
The 268-page report said FSA departments failed to communicate with each other and made decisions based on poor information and research.
The report, written by Ronnie Baird, FSA director of internal audit, with the aid of PricewaterhouseCoopers and Norton Rose, the law firm, said that while Equitable's problems were created before the FSA took responsibility for regulating the company, this did not absolve the authority from "its duty to consider what possibilities there might have been to mitigate the effects of any fallout for policyholders".
The FT leads with a report saying that two weeks of scattered anthrax scares ballooned into a full-scale alert in Washington on Wednesday when the House of Representatives was ordered to be closed until Tuesday.
As officials confirmed that more than 30 Capitol Hill workers had tested positive for exposure to the disease, senior federal law enforcement officers said they had "substantive leads" to help them identify the source of anthrax used in recent attacks.
The FT also writes that China plans speedily to ratify the agreement it concluded last month to become a member of the World Trade Organisation and may join the body before the end of this year, the country's chief WTO negotiator said on Wednesday.
Long Yongtu, vice-minister of foreign trade, was optimistic that next month's WTO ministerial meeting would agree to launch a trade round, saying a new liberalisation drive was needed to offset the impact on economic growth and confidence of last month's US terrorist attacks. He expected the global economic slowdown to have a "negative impact" on the country's exports, forcing it to rely more heavily on domestic demand to keep its economy growing this year and next.
According to the FT, Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve chairman, warned on Wednesday that risks following last month's terrorist attacks would impose a burden on the economy but said the economic shock would be temporary.
Mr Greenspan told members of joint House and Senate economic committee that the attacks would likely raise insurance premiums, security and other costs.
The productivity gap between Britain and its rivals widened last year, says the FT, according to the UK government's independent statistical agency.
The news is embarrassing for the Labour government, which two years ago trumpeted its ambition to narrow the gap over the next decade. Increasing productivity at a faster pace is regarded by Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, as key to raising Britain's long-term rate of economic growth - boosting both employment and the pool of money to spend on public service improvements.
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