An urgent review has been ordered at the Department of Health after it was revealed that it spent more than £100,000 in three months on “tea & biscuits”
The Bank of England is facing calls to publish a full account of how it handled the financial crisis after the Treasury admitted it had made mistakes when the UK’s banking system was on the brink of collapse. In a 60-page review the Treasury was found to have failed to foresee the financial crisis and been too slow to recruit enough people. It now needs to slow down its high staff turnover if it is to handle any future crisis effectively. The Treasury’s account (the result of the public accounts committee calling for a “lessons learnt” report) portrays tensions at the top of the tripartite system of regulation, which divides responsibility between the Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority. This system is being ripped up by the coalition, which is handing more power to the Bank of England. The publication of the Treasury’s review sparked Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury select committee, to call on the Bank of England to do the same.
The Daily Telegraph.
Finance ministers from the Euro zone are expected to extend part of the “big bazooka” bail-out fund in Copenhagen on Friday, but defy international demands to radically boost the size of its firewalls. A draft agreement prepared for the finance ministers’ meetings reveals a plan to retain the €240bn rump of the European FinancialStability Fund until next year. The move boosts the available bail-out funds to €740bn from this summer but falls far short of the €1tn firewall that international leaders have been calling for. It marks a concession from Germany but is unlikely to stem fears over the advancing debt crisis, particularly in Spain.
Workers who assemble iPhones and iPads often put in more than 60 hours per week and sometimes work for a week straight, according to the first independent labour audit of the Chinese factories where Apple products are made. The report released on Thursday by the Washington-based Fair Labor Association says Hon Hai Precision Industry, the Taiwanese company that runs the factories, is committing to reducing weekly work time to the legal Chinese maximum of 49 hours. That limit is routinely ignored in factories throughout China.
Britain is back into a recession, as the economy continued to shrink in the first three months of the year, according to a leading global authority. After the 0.3% contraction seen at the end of 2011, this would signal that the UK has “double-dipped” back into recession, defined as two quarters of negative growth. The Bank of England should embark on more quantitative easing (The moneyprinting program) which currently stands at £325bn – “sooner rather than later”, said Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist at the Paris-based think-tank.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has been accused of presiding over a “shambles” as petrol stations throughout the country ran out of fuel after government attempts to allay panic buying backfired. Ministers had said drivers should not rush to the pumps but should take the “sensible” measure of keeping their tanks two-thirds full. Despite there being no possibility of a strike by tanker drivers for at least 11 days, motorists formed queues up to half a mile long at filling stations. In Dorset, police were forced to step in and ask seven forecourts to close temporarily because of fears for road safety.
The Daily Mail.
The United Kingdom faces a power shortfall that could affect five million homes after German energy giants E.ON and RWE Npower pulled the plug on their joint nuclear venture. The pair teamed up in 2009 with plans to build two nuclear power stations, which together would have produced as much as 6,000 megawatts of clean energy when they opened in the 2020s. Now they will try to sell the project – hoping the glowing torch will fall into the hands of someone with deeper pockets. Faced with spiralling costs in the UK and trouble at home following the German government’s U-turn on nuclear energy, the financing of the project came under increasing pressure. First one, then both parties considered dumping the venture – which both vehemently denied at the time. But yesterday morning they issued a joint statement confirming that they would pull out and look for a buyer.