The outlook for the Japanese economy is bleaker than ever after employment, production and retail figures, all posted severe falls, says the Telegraph.
The indicators were so bad that analysts have described it as the day the "perfect storm" came ashore.
Japan's unemployment soared at the fastest rate in 44 years to 4.4 per cent in December, while industrial output fell a record 9.6 per cent in the same month and retail sales shrank 2.7 per cent, the fourth straight month of decline.
All the bad news undermined Prime Minister Taro Aso's confident declaration to Parliament on Wednesday that, "By taking bold countermeasures, Japan will aim to be the first to emerge from this recession."
Of particular concern will be the rapid increase in the unemployment figures, with 390,000 losing their jobs in December alone, bringing the national total to 2.7 million out of work.
Iceland will be put on a fast track to joining the European Union to rescue the small Arctic state from financial collapse amid rising expectations that it will apply for membership within months, senior policy-makers in Brussels and Reykjavik have told the Guardian.
The European commission is preparing itself for a membership bid, depending on the outcome of a snap general election expected in May. An application would be viewed very favourably in Brussels and the negotiations, which normally take many years, would be fast-forwarded to make Iceland the EU's 29th member in record time, probably in 2011.
Banks and building societies are to be banned from selling sickness and unemployment insurance alongside personal loans following a string of complaints about mis-selling and other abuses, according to The Independent.
The Competition Commission ruled yesterday that any lender loaning money to a customer will have to wait at least seven days before approaching the borrower to ask whether he or she would also like to buy payment protection insurance. PPI covers loan repayments in the event that the borrower cannot make them as a result of sickness, an accident or unemployment. However, there have been thousands of complaints about the cover from people who have subsequently found themselves unable to claim on policies.
HSBC has launched a drive to create a global business association in an effort to better co-ordinate corporate interests with the world's largest governments, reports the FT.
Stephen Green, the bank's chairman, is leading a drive to create a business group that would mirror the G20 group of leading developed and developing nations and seek to represent the interests of business as governments grapple with the credit crisis and the global economic slowdown.IFAonline
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