Europe

The global economy is heading towards a “liquidity trap” that would undermine central banks’ efforts to avoid a future recession, according to Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, the Financial Times reported. In a wide-ranging interview with the Financial Times, the outgoing governor warned that central banks were running out of the ammunition needed to combat a downturn. A liquidity trap occurs on the rare occasions when monetary policy loses all effectiveness to manage economic swings and looser policy does not encourage any additional spending.

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Russian state lender VTB has filed a lawsuit in Britain’s High Court against a Mozambican government company it lent hefty sums to as part of a project now at the center of a $2 billion debt scandal, according to an online court filing, Reuters reported. The filing, dated Dec. 23, names as defendants the Mozambique state and Mozambique Asset Management, which took a $535 million loan from VTB as part of a costly project that U.S. authorities say was an elaborate front for a bribery and kickback scheme.

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Business activity in the eurozone ticked up more than expected in December, boosted by a rise in the domestically-focused services sector that outweighed another slide in the manufacturing sector, according to a closely watched survey, the Financial Times reported. The economic outlook of companies in the eurozone also improved to its highest level since May, amid relief that the US-China trade war is easing and as the prospect of a sudden UK exit from the EU has faded.

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Italian infrastructure group Atlantia on Friday suffered its second debt downgrade in a month, slipping further into junk territory, as the government considers revoking the group’s motorway concession following a deadly bridge collapse, Reuters reported. Controlled by Italy’s Benetton family and in charge of the country’s biggest motorway network, Atlantia SpA (ATL.MI) has been in the crosshairs since a concrete bridge operated by its Autostrade per l’Italia unit collapsed in the city of Genoa in August 2018, killing 43 people.

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The steady decline of Italy’s South, one of Europe’s poorest regions, is emerging as a critical issue for the country’s fragile governing coalition, as banking and industrial troubles there provide a possible opening for a hard-right party seeking to return to power, The Wall Street Journal reported. In recent weeks, the Italian government has said it will take over an important southern bank to save it from collapse, and it is fighting to keep alive Europe’s biggest steel plant and a large factory in Naples.

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Investors hit by the collapse of Lendy have expressed concerns about the spiralling costs of the administration process after insolvency practitioners warned that they could run up a bill of £2.5 million, The Times reported. Lendy, the peer-to-peer lending service, failed last May owning nearly £152 million to 9,000 investors, some of who now fear that the costs of managing the insolvency will reduce any money they get back. RSM Restructuring recorded time costs worth £1.7 million for the first six months of Lendy’s administration.

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British Steel plunged into insolvency 225 days ago. Since then, taxpayers have funded its operational losses of an estimated £1m a day, The Guardian reported. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that this can only go on for so long; a deal securing the future of the company’s 4,500 staff needs to be agreed – and fast. Chinese steelmaker Jingye has been in pole position since November’s announcement that a deal had been agreed in principle.

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French marine services group Bourbon Corporation, which has been in the process of a debt restructuring, said its assets would be taken over by its creditors, Riviera Maritime Media reported. The news comes in light of Bourbon’s ongoing legal proceedings. The Commercial Court of Marseille ruled that Bourbon’s assets be transferred to Société Phocéenne de Participations (SPP) on 2 January 2020.

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Factories across the euro zone ended 2019 in poor shape with activity contracting for an 11th straight month, according to a survey which suggested the start of the new year is unlikely to see any improvement, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. IHS Markit's final manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) has been below the 50 mark separating growth from contraction since February, and at 46.3 in December it was below November's 46.9 but higher than a preliminary estimate of 45.9.

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