Economy

Lowe tells banks slow payment rollout could limit competition

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe last year asked chief executives of the big four banks to confirm they were putting enough resources into rolling out a high-speed payment system, amid concerns the… Clancy Yeates WAtoday The central bank on Thursday published emails Dr Lowe sent in September to ANZ Bank chief executive Shayne Elliott, Commonwealth Bank chief Matt Comyn, Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer, and then… It declined to release the responses from each of the CEOs, saying these were exempt from FOI ... Read More »

String of British firms switch over to four-day working week

Exclusive: small companies tell the Guardian of the impact of ending ‘Friday fatigue’ Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent and Matthew Holmes The Guardian A string of small British firms have switched their workers over to a four-day week, the Guardian can reveal, amid mounting political interest in the idea that working less could deliver higher productivity and better balance between life and work. A lingerie manufacturer, a lighting design firm and a landscape architect are among a wave of employers experimenting with ... Read More »

Silk Road opens a rift in Italy’s government

Washington and Brussels fear Rome is getting too close to China. Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli Politico ROME — Italy’s government has split over whether to sign onto China’s landmark “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure program that runs across Asia to key European trade hubs. Some 13 EU countries have signed up to China’s new Silk Road plan, but Washington and Brussels are deeply concerned that the involvement of G7 heavyweight Rome could lend greater credibility to a project that they view as a… Prime ... Read More »

Why Americans Don’t Cheat on Their Taxes

The weirdly hopeful story of how the U.S. came to be a leader in tax compliance Rene Chan The Atlantic If such a thing as American exceptionalism remains, maybe it can be found in this: Despite deep IRS budget cuts, an average audit rate that has plunged in recent years to just 0.6 percent, and a… Even more remarkable, most of us feel obliged to pay. To quote the findings of a 2017 IRS survey: “The majority of Americans (88%) ... Read More »

Surging water use, falling dam levels, spark warning to cut down

South-east Queensland’s drinking water usage has reached the highest level since before the 2000s drought, as authorities predict combined dam levels will fall below 70 per cent in the coming days. Lucy Stone Brisbane Times Seqwater, the organisation responsible for 3.1 million Queenslanders’ drinking water supply, has issued a warning asking people to cut down on water use ahead of a warm, dry autumn. The organisation is relaunching its community campaign Water Wise to give people ideas on how to reduce water ... Read More »

Angela Merkel successor AKK responds to Emmanuel Macron’s vision for Europe

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has presented her own proposals to tackle populism, economic uncertainty, international security and migration. Deutsche Welle “Europe must become stronger,” she wrote in response to the… In an op-ed published in the Welt am Sonntag, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s successor as head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) contrasted a “European way of life” with social and political models in China, the… “Europe must become stronger,” she wrote. While Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer echoed some of the plans set out by French President Emmanuel ... Read More »

US issues warning to Italy on China economic initiative

The U.S. issued an indirect warning to Italy on Saturday for its coziness with China. Daniel Jativa Washington Examiner The European Union country is weighing sign ing up with China’s global economic effort, called the Belt and Road Initiative. “Italy is a major global economy and a great investment destination. Endorsing BRI lends legitimacy to China’s predatory approach to investment and will bring no benefits to the Italian people,” the tweet said. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the… US issues ... Read More »

Banks need to show more than mea culpas and committees

“We never want to go through an experience like that again,” Brian Hartzer told the House of Representatives economics committee in Canberra on Friday. Adele Ferguson WAtoday The Westpac boss was of course referring to the banking royal commission, which he described as “a sad indictment on the financial services industry”. It certainly was an indictment on a sector that has been riddled with scandals for years that were fobbed off as sideshows caused by a few bad apples. Hartzer ... Read More »

Lebanon asserts against using maritime borders for gas pipeline from Israel to EU

Lebanon on Thursday warned its Mediterranean neighbours that a planned EastMed gas pipeline from Israel to the European Union must not be allowed to violate its… Devdiscourse Beirut has an unresolved maritime border dispute with Israel – which it regards as an enemy country – over a sea area of about 860 sq km (330 square miles) extending along the… Israel is hoping to enlist several European countries in the construction of a 2,000 km (1,243 miles) pipeline linking vast ... Read More »

ExxonMobil makes biggest natural gas discovery in two years off the coast of Cyprus

ATHENS- Exxon Mobil announced on Thursday that it has made the world’s third-biggest natural gas discovery in two years off the coast of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean at the Glaucus-1 well. Nasos Koukakis CNBC The region is already know for some of the world’s largest such discoveries. It wants to become an alternative energy source for Europe. Based on preliminary interpretation of the well data, the discovery could represent a natural gas resource of approximately 5 trillion to 8 ... Read More »

Richard Leonard: Tony Blair’s ‘middle ground’ is a right-wing nightmare

The bedroom tax, rape clause and hostility to migrants show just how wrong Tony Blair was to say Labour had abandoned the “middle ground” of politics, writes Richard Leonard. The Scotsman Remember the bedroom tax? That pernicious Tory policy that encapsulated so much about what and who the Tories represent: seeing a housing crisis and punishing those who had the least to do with causing it and the… Labour forced the SNP Government to scrap it in Scotland, after it ... Read More »

The golden age of hydrocarbons has finally reached SA

JOHANNESBURG – There is is no gentle way of announcing it, or more telling, a more sophisticated way of avoiding saying it, that South Africa has officially entered its golden age of hydrocarbon extraction. Ambassador Bheki Gila In spite of the voices of sceptics, their disbelief not so much the fact that we have entered the age, but that it is golden, it would be naiveté of a disturbing kind that the country keeps walking into an age unbeknown to ... Read More »

Australia Really Should Be Panicked About Coal

While China may not have banned imports yet, long-term demand is set to plummet globally. Mihir Sharma Bloomberg Sydney is a wonderful, modern town. But, over the past few days, all anyone here has wanted to talk to me about is that most 19th-century of industries: coal. It’s not hard to see why, after a startling report last week — quickly denied — that some Chinese ports had blocked shipments of Australian coal. The Australian dollar briefly tanked on the news. Australia’s trade ... Read More »

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable

For the college-educated elite, work has morphed into a religious identity—promising identity, transcendence, and community, but failing to deliver. Derek Thompson The Atlantic In his 1930 essay “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted a 15-hour workweek in the 21st century, creating the equivalent of a five-day weekend. “For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem,” Keynes wrote, “how to occupy the leisure.” This became a popular view. ... Read More »

These Are the World’s Healthiest Nations

Maybe it’s something in the gazpacho or paella, as Spain just surpassed Italy to become the world’s healthiest country. By Lee J Miller and Wei Lu Bloomberg That’s according to the 2019 edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, which ranks 169 economies according to factors that contribute to overall health. Spain placed sixth in the previous gauge, published in 2017. Four additional European nations were among the top 10 in 2019: Iceland (third place), Switzerland (fifth), Sweden (sixth) and Norway (ninth). Japan ... Read More »

No-deal Brexit throws up really big calls on jobs, the rural economy and peace

Cliff Taylor: Government would need to embark on a major programme of assistance for the companies affected The Irish Times The Omnibus Bill on Brexit, published yesterday, is an important piece of work to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. But the big decisions lie elsewhere. How do we support the sectors worst hit? And what about the Border? There is an almost irresistible temptation among the political classes to reassure us that everything is ready, and it will all be alright ... Read More »