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(March 2012) Daily News Digest -- Fri Mar 16, 2012: Key Irish and international business stories at a glance; Bloomberg says that when Morgan Stanley (MS) said in January it had cut its “net exposure” to Italy by $3.4bn, it didn’t tell investors that the nation paid that entire amount to the bank to exit a bet on interest rates...A Bulgarian delegation of seven ministers and almost one hundred entrepreneurs travelled on Wednesday to a Bulgarian-Qatari economic forum in Doha. But not one of the 500 Qatari business guests showed up for the event...Energy-saving light bulb ends up as hazardous waste, too much insulation promotes mold and household drains are emitting a putrid odour because everyone is saving water. Many of Germany's efforts to protect the environment are a chronic failure, but that's unlikely to change.
(March 2012) Norway has the highest level of women boardroom membership at close to 40% because of a mandatory quota that was introduced in 2006. In Germany and Japan the percentage is less than 5%. To identify appropriate measures for addressing the persistent lack of gender diversity in boardrooms of listed companies in Europe, the European Commission launched a public consultation on Monday. The Commission is seeking views on possible action at EU level, including legislative measures, to redress the gender imbalance on company boards. The public consultation will run until 28 May 2012. Following this input, the Commission will take a decision on further action later this year.
(March 2012) In a free enterprise system, there isn't much that is free about the dysfunctional US healthcare system where rent-seeking through price gouging and monopolistic practices, command over 17% of American gross domestic product (GDP). An international survey shows that for example the average cost of a hospital stay is $1,825 in Spain, $5,004 in Germany and $15,734 in the US. The commonly prescribed AstraZenica drug Nexium, which is used for stomach disorders, ranges in price from $69 in Switzerland to $193, the average cost in the US.
(February 2012) German house prices have risen to 1999 nominal levels after price rises in 2010 and 2011. Meanwhile Irish house prices are back to year 2000 levels, according to Dermot O'Leary, chief economist at Goodbody Stockbrokers, with the decline accelerating in 2011. Irish prices fell 17% in 2011 and Spanish prices dipped 10%, compared with 2010. Austria, France, Switzerland and Norway all saw prices rise by 5% or more.
(February 2012) As permanent public sector workers retain their nineteenth century era state guarantee of employment in many countries, the number of temporary workers or 'temps' as they are often called has been rising in several countries over the past decade. The resultant dual workforce in Spain for example, has seen tens of thousands of temps, usually young, lose their jobs while older members of trade unions in permanent positions have been protected by very high severance pay and a long appeal process. The rise of the temp has been particularly evident in Japan where they have few rights and high-profile companies such as Toyota, pay them less than the Irish minimum wage of €8.65 ($11.60) in a high cost economy. In April 2011, a month after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan with the resultant nuclear fallout at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, The New York Times reported that of roughly 83,000 workers at Japan’s 18 commercial nuclear power plants, 88% were contract workers in the year that ended in March 2010, the nuclear agency said. At the Fukushima Daiichi plant 89% of the 10,303 workers during that period were contractors. In the year before the nuclear disaster, the contractors were exposed to levels of radiation about 16 times as high as the levels faced by direct employees of Tokyo Electric, according to Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
(February 2012) Daily News Digest -- Tues Feb 28, 2012: Key Irish and international news at a glance; Is the UK economy finally looking up? In recent weeks there has been a run of better than expected data - - from export levels to the monthly tax take and high street spending...A Thai man who helped lead anti- government protests was sentenced to seven and half years in jail for insulting the royal family...160 people have already volunteered to form part of the special task force that will be parachuted into Athens to teach the Greeks how to pay their taxes.
(February 2012) Daily News Digest -- Mon Feb 27, 2012: Key Irish and international news at a glance; The richest 70 members of China’s legislature added more to their wealth last year than the combined net worth of all 535 members of the US Congress, the president and his Cabinet, and the nine Supreme Court justices...China's central bank may cut the interest rate in the second and third quarters this year, as the economies in the EU and US slow down further while domestic inflation pressure gradually eases, economists say...The decision by G-20 officials to rebuff European calls for assistance in their crisis-fighting effort pending an increase in its own financial backstop puts the onus on Germany, already the biggest national contributor to bailouts, to overcome its resistance to doing more.
(February 2012) Germany's Dual Economy: This week the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) turned the tables on Germany by highlighting overregulation and weaknesses that could imperil growth in coming years as ageing of the population accelerates. Noting major progress on reforms, the think-tank for mainly developed countries called for reforms to foster domestic demand that should focus on improving competition; enhancing framework conditions for investment; and innovation in Germany’s domestic sector. This includes lowering the strict regulation in some services sectors, notably professional services, and improving innovation support, for example by introducing a tax credit for R&D complementing direct R&D support. Germany also has a problem with low-pay at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
(February 2012) Net borrowing of general government amounted to €25.3bn in Germany in 2011 and the annual budget deficit as a ratio of GDP (gross domestic product) was –1.0% in 2011.
(February 2012) Daily News Digest -- Mon Feb 20, 2012: Key Irish and international news at a glance; The Wall Street Journal reports that China's Vice President Xi Jinping attended cultural and sporting events Sunday in the Irish capital as the heir apparent of the Communist country continued a three-day visit, which the Dublin government says is an exceptional vote of confidence in Ireland's economy...Corriere della Sera, the Italian daily, reports that wrongdoing, corruption and malpractice are “still remarkably present in Italy and their presumable dimensions are far in excess of what, often laboriously, actually comes to light”. The rueful reflection came from the president of the Court of Auditors, Luigi Giampaolino, at the ceremony to inaugurate the judicial year.