23 December 2014
How worried should we be by the UK's record current account deficit, our inability to pay our way in the world?
Jon Moulton, the founder of the investment firm which owns collapsed UK parcel delivery service City Link, says it couldn't have handled the firm's administration any better.
The search continues for AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501, with a senior official saying initial data suggests the plane is at the bottom of the sea.
Asian markets reversed earlier gains to trade mixed after a possible health scare spooked Japanese markets.
The head of a major UK business group is calling on politicians to rise above "point-scoring" in the general election campaigns next year.
Faster broadband and improved transport could help productivity grow faster in the English countryside than towns, the environment secretary says.
18 December 2014
There’s a long list of things the coalition government would like to sell – but it hasn’t.
26 December 2014
It's a notable transformation from when Japan was a nation of savers, and had the highest savings rate in the world.
Louise Ellman, the Labour MP, who chairs the Commons Transport Select, is not happy with Network Rail's engineering over-runs that led to Kings Cross and Paddington stations being closed for longer than expected at the weekend. "If Network Rail decide to close part of the system down at a busy time of year, they have to be absolutely sure it's going to work as planned and it is going to re-open as planned," she tells the Today day programme. But she declines to criticise the Network Rail chief executive for being on holiday while the work was going on.
A bit more from Mr Bernanke. He tells the Today programme that during the crisis, the mornings would start with a conference call with six or eight people sat around a "red phone sitting on a coffee table". There was a "certain emergency feeling to everything that was happening every day," he adds. No mention of batphones though.
Mr Bernanke adds that there were one or two US Fed meetings that were "extremely exciting". He cites the October 2008 meeting which followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the meeting of the G7 nations where he and Lord King "tore up the communique' and really rolled up our sleeves and thought about what we were going to do." He adds: "That was a tremendously important meeting."
Lord King has interviewed Ben Bernanke for the Today programme and they discuss the financial crisis of 2008 in which they both played a pivotal role. In a rare human moment for a central banker, Mr Bernanke tells Lord King that most US Federal Reserve meetings, while they get lots of attention, are "deadly boring". He adds: "They are very scripted and the staff do most of the work and they write the the communique' in advance of the decision making."
More from Mr Moulton on Today: "In the intervening 18 months it [City Link] would have paid a fortune to the government in PAYE, value added tax and the like. The government will be a net beneficiary of Better Capital's investment in this company he added," he stressed. Mr Moulton added that he had lost £2m of his own money due to the City Link collapse.
Mr Moulton, speaking to Today, points out that City Link could in fact have been closed down 18 months ago when his firm Better Capital bought it for just £1. He denies that the taxpayer will suffer because the government will now have to pay the workers' redundancy payments. "The taxpayer has certainly made an enormous amount of money out of private equity companies and their trading and success," he says.
Jon Moulton of Better Capital, the investment firm that owns City Link, defends his firm's ownership of the now closed City Link. "We chased every possible way to save this company," he tells Today. He says the company had simply failed, and that delaying the closure over Christmas had not been an option, as trading while insolvent was a criminal offence. Could the affair have been better handled? "Not particularly, no," he says.
The Network Rail boss who presided over what is being dubbed the Christmas trains fiasco will not receive a "golden goodbye" bonus of £371,000. Robin Gisby will leave his post as managing director of network operations early next year, a spokeswoman for Network Rail said. Mr Gisby is leaving the company at the end of February. But the decision to withhold his bonus is not linked to the overrunning engineering work at Kings Cross and chaos that ensued at the weekend.
The Reuters news agency reports that Russia's economic output (as measured by gross domestic product) shrank by 0.5% in the year to November. This is the first time the economy has shrunk since since October 2009 and reflects the effects of international economic sanctions and the falling oil price.
Marie Diron, the senior vice president at rating agency Moody's tells Today that the probability that Greece will leave the euro is pretty small compared to 2011. She says the euro itself has remained pretty resilient to crisis events citing the failure of a Portuguese bank last year as one example. "Saying the height of the crisis is behind us does not mean that everything will be smooth from now on," she says. Eurozone growth will be weak this year and deflation, or very low inflation, remains a big risk this year too.
Better Capital explains that it had tried to sell the business but failed, and pulled the plug on the loss-making firm because keeping it going would have meant throwing good money after bad. "In light of continued substantial losses, City Link could not continue as a going concern, which resulted in the appointment of Ernst & Young as administrators on 24 December 2014," it says.
Better Capital has been explaining itself in a statement just issued to stock market investors. It says: "Unfortunately the appointment of an administrator was leaked to the media ahead of the intended announcement. The directors very much regret the impact on the employees of City Link receiving such bad news on Christmas Day." So it seems the Christmas day announcement was not intended.
Jon Moulton, the man whose private investment firm Better Capital owned - and is now shutting - City Link, is going to explain himself. He's fronting up on the Today programme on Radio 4 at 07:50 to explain why he decided to close the courier business. He's been quoted in the FT as saying he explored "every possible way" to keep the firm going, and that he lost several million pounds of his own money.
Lord King is on the Today programme. He's talking about the financial crisis and how he and US Federal Reserve president Ben Bernanke responded to it. He says the biggest problem both men had was explaining to people that they were taking measures that were "quite exceptional to try to prevent something terrible happening." He also suggests quantitative easing - buying government bonds - was not an unusual policy measure but that it hadn't been used for a very long time. Bank of England governors had spent the post war period trying to prevent money growing too quickly in the economy, "now we were trying to stop it falling and trying to inject money into the economy," he says
Sony appear to be trumpeting the fact that The Interview (hated by North Koreans) has become the most downloaded new film yet produced by the company. The controversial comedy was downloaded two million times between the 24th and 27th December, taking nearly £10m. Is that a lot to shout about?
The Greek parliament is to make a third and final attempt to elect a new president. On Wake Up to Money, Constantine Michalos, chairman of the Athens Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said he expected the vote to fail, automatically triggering a swift general election. "It looks increasingly unlikely, if not impossible, that the government will succeed in getting a positive Parliamentary presidential vote," he said. "The choice that the Greek people will be called upon to make in a few weeks time is the possibility of an instant death, because we've heard the main opposition, and the economic policy they will follow, which is totally opposite to the one the eurozone has been dictating over the last four and a half years."
The Daily Mail has a report today that Eurostar has banned a passenger for life after "kicking him off a train" for complaining about the strength of his cup of tea. Daniel Confino, a financial expert who the newspaper says was instrumental in saving the foundering Eurotunnel project in the 1990s, now intends to have the ban ruled illegal at the High Court. He ordered two teas at £2.20 each - and asked for an extra bag so he could have a strong cuppa. But when he was charged £2.20 just for the third tea bag, he complained.
Lord Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England has a new job - for just one day. He is the guest editor of the Today programme on Radio 4. And his big interviewee is Ben Bernanke, who was his counterpart as head of the US Federal Reserve during the great banking crisis a few years ago. Will they admit to any failings? Find out just after 08:00.
Morning folks. Former Bank of England governor Lord King is guest editing the Today programme. Greece holds a crucial presidential vote, which could have implications for its International Monetary Fund (IMF)/European Union (EU) bailout. And the search continues for the missing Air Asia flight QZ8501. So plenty to digest this morning. Stay with us.
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