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Turun Sanomat - Finland | 30/01/2015

Nokia's successful development continues

The Nokia Corporation announced on Thursday that it ended the fourth quarter of 2014 with net sales of 3.8 billion euros, exceeding the expectations of analysts. The former mobile phone manufacturer is once more at a turning point, the liberal daily Turun Sanomat is convinced: "The dividend proposal (which is considered prudent), the company coffers filled with five billion euros and the 5 billion euro capital structure optimisation programme show that Nokia is arming itself for acquisitions. ... In its more than 150-year history, the company has undergone many changes, developing from a pulp manufacturer to a technology firm. Now yet another change is in the pipeline. The success of the N1 tablet developed by Nokia for the manufacturer Foxconn shows that in future Nokia will be able to earn money merely by allowing its good name to be used for a product." (30/01/2015)

Világgazdaság - Hungary | 29/01/2015

Orbán's bread price plans absurd

Hungary's right-wing conservative government wants to lower the price of bread and other bakery products. Business daily Világgazdaság finds that absurd: "Fidesz is seriously considering lowering bread prices. We can't help seeing this as a bad joke in the context of a market economy. But Antal Rogán repeated yesterday very clearly: this is not a joke! Fidesz's parliamentary party leader said that bread prices must go down along with fuel prices. ... But bread prices refuse to budge. The government calculated that bread prices rose by 58 percent between 2006 and 2013, as did the price of gas oil, but that last year bread prices dropped by just five percent while gas oil prices dropped by eleven percent. Well, for the record, bread is not made of gas oil." (29/01/2015)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland | 29/01/2015

Switzerland must agree on immigration with EU

Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga will travel to Brussels on Monday for discussions with EU leaders. The topic: the limit on immigration recently approved by referendum. The left-liberal daily Tages-Anzeiger hopes that all sides will take an open-minded approach: "The combination of a rising franc and uncertainty about the future of bilateral agreements [between the EU and Switzerland] is a dangerous mix. What international companies will want to invest their money here when the costs are rising so dramatically and it's unclear whether qualified employees can be recruited abroad? The Federal Council gave us a taste of things to come at the end of last year when it lowered the contingent for third country nationals to 6,500 per year: allocation disputes and the shifting of jobs abroad are the likely result. Clearly, the goal must be to get the most out of the negotiations with the EU. But if at the same time people here at home are asking what should be done if the negotiations fail, this is not defeatism but foresight. And one option is definitely a new vote on restrictions to immigration." (29/01/2015)

Jornal de Negócios - Portugal | 28/01/2015

Why Portugal's economy lacks beacons of hope

Unfavourable general conditions and a lack of confidence in the future are making it hard for company owners in Portugal to develop their businesses, the liberal business daily Jornal de Negócios complains: "One of the biggest enigmas in Portugal's economy is that there are barely any big companies with internationally established brands - and also a certain tendency on the part of entrepreneurs to sell on the first offer. ... This raises the following question: What factors are making it more profitable to sell a company than to invest in its development and growth? ... The temptation is great to say: instability, distrust of the institutional framework and a lack of faith in Portugal as a place where companies can grow and develop." (28/01/2015)

ABC - Spain | 28/01/2015

Spain escapes infection by Syriza

The yields on Spanish bonds dropped further on Tuesday. Syriza's election victory has not, as many had feared, had a negative impact on Spain but is actually highlighting the wide gap between the two countries, the conservative daily ABC writes jubilantly: "We have not been infected. On the contrary, Spain is demonstrating the value of its reform programme and economic progress in a European context in which each country has their own place and Greece is falling further and further behind. The first issue of [Spanish] government bonds following Syriza's victory was awaited with trepidation - both in Spain and abroad. But the yields fell to their lowest level ever and demand was three times as high as supply. Short-term bonds are just one step away from trading at negative yields, as is already happening in France and Germany. Greece is really bringing up the rear." (28/01/2015)

Le Figaro - France | 28/01/2015

An end to French thumb-twiddling

Unemployment in France has reached a new high. As the French employment office announced on Tuesday, 3,496,400 French people were unemployed in December, almost six percent more than in December 2013. And the government is just twiddling its thumbs, the conservative daily Le Figaro rails: "Everyone knows that to reduce unemployment it will take more than the timid law passed by Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron - assuming it comes out of parliament unscathed - whose economic impact is highly questionable. And more, too, than the responsibility pact. ... New rules for employment contracts to ease hiring and firing, scrapping the 35-hour week and the many requirements employers must fulfil when the number of employees rises, and a reform of unemployment insurance. ... All these ideas have worked outside our France, including in the Nordic countries. And no one's complaining there that they live in a social jungle." (28/01/2015)

La Tribune - France | 26/01/2015

ECB eases pressure to reform

ECB chief Mario Draghi's decision to purchase government bonds is meant as a signal to crisis countries that it's time to reform. However the plan may backfire, the liberal business paper La Tribune writes: "As subtle as it is, this policy is based on the hope that the governments will react in a certain way. The risk, however, is that they won't. Of course this policy can help reformers. ... Nevertheless it is to be feared that it will have just the opposite effect on those governments that are reluctant to reform. Because any measure that lessens the painful effects of slow growth and unemployment will make reforms seem less urgent and encourage governments to pat themselves on the back for the fleeting signs of improvement and put off unpopular decisions - or even leave them to their successors. ... So it's to be feared that Mario Draghi's poker game will not only drag on, but will also delay reforms and the return of growth." (26/01/2015)

El Periódico de Catalunya - Spain | 27/01/2015

Only transparency helps against Spain's cartels

The Spanish competition authority CNMC ruled on Monday that 39 companies must pay fines totalling 98 million euros for price fixing. Ensuring as much transparency as possible is the best weapon against this type of cartel, the left-liberal daily El Periódico de Catalunya comments: "The CNMC itself points out that such practices 'are obvious' in many sectors of the Spanish economy but that this is difficult to prove. If that's the case it shouldn't just give up but rather redouble the efforts to create transparency in all operations involving public funds. That applies equally to the administrative authorities' spending and to the companies who work for those authorities. And when cases of cheating are uncovered they must be punished with maximum severity." (27/01/2015)

Super Express - Poland | 27/01/2015

End bank swindle in franc crisis

The Polish government is due to present proposals on Wednesday for helping people who are having problems servicing their mortgages after the uncapping of the Swiss franc against the euro. The conservative tabloid Super Express calls for the rigorous conversion of the loans from francs to zloty so that the banks are hard hit: "The banks tricked the Poles with the exchange rates. The scam was that borrowers always had to buy the francs [for their monthly mortgage repayments] from the bank - at a considerable higher rate. ... What's important now is that the government finally defends the interests of the cheated borrowers. It must make it possible to disburse these bad loans. The country as a whole would benefit. And the banks would foot the bill. ... We will learn tomorrow whether we have a government that represents our interests or only those of the banks." (27/01/2015)

Blog David McWilliams - Ireland | 26/01/2015

Bond buying useless without debt relief

The bond-buying programme announced by the ECB last week will only revive the Eurozone if crisis countries like Greece receive debt relief at the same time, economist David McWilliams explains in his blog: "If debts - both national and personal - aren't dealt with, people will have too much debt and won't be prepared to borrow and the banks will have too much bad debt and they won't be willing to lend. Some form of debt relief would make quantitative easing (QE) much more likely to be successful. This is exactly what Syriza wants in Greece and it is an entirely logical move. ... Without debt relief, it is hard to see QE working as well as it did in the US, where it was combined with debt relief, a fiscal expansion and massive early bank recapitalisation." (26/01/2015)

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