Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev has lambasted the EU’s handling of the Cyprus debt crisis, comparing a plan for a levy on bank deposits to measures that hurt savers under the Soviet Union. However, Moscow has yet to offer any concrete help to the Cypriot government,the FT reports.
Cyprus on Wednesday was left with narrowing options to rescue its outsize financial-services sector from collapse—something that could end its membership in the Eurozone—after international lenders rejected an alternative government plan to secure a multibillion-euro bailout and Russian officials remained cool to a Cypriot gas-for-cash deal, The Wall Street Journal Europe says.
Banks in Cyprus were ordered to remain shut until Tuesday as Cypriot and European officials anxiously hunted for alternatives to an abortive plan to tax bank deposits as part of a €10bn bailout. Officials were resurrecting previously discarded proposals as they attempted to avoid a financial meltdown, the FT.
George Osborne yesterday cleared the way for Mark Carney to preside over the biggest shake-up at the Bank of England for more than two decades. The Chancellor handed the incoming central bank governor sweeping new powers to target jobs and growth as well as inflation in a bid to kick-start Britain’s ailing economy, the Daily Mail reports.
An embattled George Osborne delivered government help for homebuyers, motorists and beer drinkers as he tempered fresh gloom on the economy with a populist budget that aimed to please swing voters in marginal seats. Despite announcing a halving of growth to just 0.6% this year, the chancellor said money from pension reform, an extended public sector pay squeeze, underspending Whitehall departments and a fresh crackdown on tax avoidance gave him scope to deliver for an “aspiration nation”. After his “omnishambles” budget a year ago, in which most of the key details were leaked and the chancellor was forced into embarrassing U-turns on Cornish pasty and caravan taxes, Osborne received an early blow when the London Evening Standard tweeted a copy of its front page containing many of the budget’s key elements before he gave his statement. But he focused on mainstream crowd-pleasers such as 1p off a pint of beer, further freezes in fuel duty (representing £21.5bn in lost revenue over the parliament), and lifting the personal tax allowance to £10,000 a year, in addition to help with childcare announced earlier this week. He also announced two schemes to boost the housing market, now seen as vital if the economy is to be growing strongly in the runup to the 2015 general election. The Treasury will provide £3.5bn over three years for shared equity loans to increase the sales of new homes, and will give mortgage guarantees to lenders to encourage them to lower the cost of home loans to all buyers. The Guardian.
Barclays released shares worth £38.5m to bosses including investment bank chief Rich Ricci, who sold his £17m windfall immediately. Barclays said Mr Ricci was awarded 5.7m shares on Monday and had sold them all when the shares were priced at 308.1p, valuing the stake at £17.6m. Barclays’ shares have fallen this week and closed on Wednesday at 295.2p, The Telegraph writes.