- The big story is that Portugal is being forced to make more welfare cuts to avoid a second bailout. Elsewhere, in a placed article in the Daily Mail, Sir Howard Davies (Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, 1995-1997 and chairman of the FSA, 1997-2003) says recent appointments at major central banks have focused attention on what it takes to be a successful central bank leader. He highlights the necessary qualities of a central banker, including good communication skills and the ability to operate in a nuanced political environment, while he also warns against compromising the independence of central banks.
- Perhaps Mr Davies should have added creativity? The Financial Times’ leader piece says that not for the first time during the crisis, the eurozone is looking short of ideas to stimulate growth and needs to consider new ways to get credit flowing to SMEs directly. Solutions include: lowering its policy rate; adopting something similar to the UK’s Funding for Lending Scheme, offering cheap loans to banks which should be used to finance commercial lending at reduced rates; relaxing its collateral eligibility rules on loans to SMEs; and purchasing securitised SME loans directly creating liquidity in the market and favour the entry of more private players.
Recruitment & Employment
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission has warned employers of the costly legal action they could face if they do not allow staff to follow their ‘religion or belief rights’ in the workplace. The guidance was issued in the wake of a ruling on the right of Christians to wear a cross at work. That’s covered by Jason Groves in the Daily Mail. In its editorial The Daily Express says druids and pagans getting time off to celebrate sacred rites looks like an April Fool. The Daily Mail’s editorial calls it an ‘insult to Christianity’. In contrast, The Independent asks Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan how he balances his faith with his job.
- The Independent’s Nigel Morris writes that Labour will pledge to overhaul planning laws to prevent payday lenders from overcrowding high streets. There was an increase of 20% in the number of payday loan firms on high streets last year, while the presence of pawnbrokers and betting shops also rose. Ed Miliband will warn that such businesses are taking advantage of the retail crisis, and he will propose new powers for councils to prevent too many of the same kind of business opening up in an area.
- Household wealth in the UK has soared past the £7 trillion mark for the first time. Total household wealth at the end of last year stood at £7.05 trillion, up £2.71 trillion over the last decade, or£86,000 per household. The rise in the nation’s wealth has far outstripped incomes and inflation. The consumer price index has climbed 29% in a decade, while gross household disposable incomes have risen 44%. In comparison the value of household wealth since 2002 has grown by 62%. However most of the increase came prior to 2007, when the economy grew rapidly. The research suggests the average household is now worth £255,502.