Europe

The British government announced it intends to extend the power (granted through the Corporate Governance and Insolvency Act) to make temporary amendments or modify the effects of corporate insolvency and governance legislation for an additional year until April 2022, Accountancy Daily reported. The government laid the regulations on 11 February 2021 in Parliament ahead of the power expiring on 30 April 2021. The government last updated the rules in December 2020, announcing a number of covid-19 related measures to support businesses.
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British consumer spending fell over the past week and the proportion of people on furlough and who are working exclusively from home increased, as the country remained in a coronavirus lockdown, official figures showed on Thursday, Reuters reported. Debit and credit card spending - as measured by Bank of England CHAPS payment data - was 28% below its level in February 2020 during the week to Feb. 11, representing a greater shortfall than the 24% shortfall reported the week before. Businesses said 20% of their staff were on furlough between Jan. 25 and Feb.
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Ireland’s government said it’s exploring the creation of a so-called third force in banking, should NatWest Group Plc opt to exit the Irish market, Bloomberg News reported. Irish officials have been war gaming the bank’s exit, with one possibility that state-owned Permanent TSB Group Holdings Plc might acquire some of Ulster’s loans. AIB Group Plc is also in negotiations on buying some of the assets. NatWest is reviewing Ulster Bank, with a decision set to be announced as soon as Friday.
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More than 100 million workers across the world’s top eight economies may be forced to change occupations by 2030 due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released by consultant firm McKinsey & Company on Thursday, The Hill reported. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated globally trending changes in the workplace, prompting McKinsey to raise its prediction for how many workers will likely need to switch jobs in the top eight economies by 12 percent.
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The COVID pandemic has added $24 trillion to the global debt mountain over the last year a new study has shown, leaving it at a record $281 trillion and the worldwide debt-to-GDP ratio at over 355%, Reuters reported. The Institute of International Finance’s global debt monitor estimated government support programmes had accounted for half of the rise, while global firms, banks and households added $5.4 trillion, 3.9 trillion and $2.6 trillion respectively.
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For households trying to balance their budget each month, the fact that European countries are incurring trillion-euro debts is dizzying, the New York Times reported. In France alone, the national debt has topped 2.7 trillion euros ($3.2 trillion) and will soon exceed 120 percent of the economy. But governments are far from worried about piling up debt right now, as rock-bottom interest rates empower them to spare no expense to shield their economies from the pandemic. Billions of euros are being deployed to nationalize payrolls, suppress bankruptcies and avoid mass unemployment.

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Ryanair on Wednesday lost its fight against the state aid granted to rivals including Air France and Sweden’s SAS after a top European court said such schemes were not discriminatory amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported. The judgment from the Luxembourg-based General Court is the first to deal with aid measures cleared by the European Commission under easier rules aimed at helping European Union governments prop up companies hit by the health crisis. The court said the French and Swedish schemes were in line with the bloc’s rules.
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British inflation edged up in January as locked-down consumers paid more for food and sellers of furniture and other household goods offered smaller-than-usual New Year discounts to people seeking to spruce up their homes, the Irish Times reported. The annual 0.7 per cent increase in consumer prices is expected to gather speed in the coming months – pushed up by the end of an emergency tax break and possibly the impact of Brexit – and might go above the Bank of England’s 2.0 per cent target this year.
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Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Draghi, appealed on Wednesday for unity and sacrifice as the country pushes forward with vaccinations and seeks to seize on a $240 billion European relief package to overhaul the economy and address persistent inequalities, the New York Times reported. In his first speech as head of government, Mr. Draghi addressed the Italian Senate for an hour through a white mask before a confidence vote for a broad unity government that he is assured to win.

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Ryanair’s fight against state aid for airlines will put loosened EU rules to the test on Wednesday when the bloc’s second-highest court decides on support offered to Air France and SAS, Reuters reported. Under European Commission state aid rules loosened since the start of the pandemic, EU countries have offered more than 3 trillion euros ($3.65 trillion) in aid to companies in various sectors across the 27-member bloc. In its first judgments on those rules, the Luxembourg-based General Court will assess a French scheme allowing airlines to defer certain aeronautical taxes.
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