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Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland | 17/04/2014

Switzerland faces new tax trouble

The Swiss financial authorities have put out a report about the country's bonded, or duty-suspended, warehouses, pointing out that valuable objects such as artworks have been stored there for many years. That fuels suspicions that such facilities are less geared toward the quick turnover of goods than tax optimisation. After the row over banking secrecy Switzerland is once again facing big trouble, the daily Tages-Anzeiger writes anxiously: "The main target was clearly the bonded warehouse in Geneva, which has grown very rapidly. Thousands of gems, paintings by great masters and almost priceless wines are stored there. ... The Swiss financial authorities believe that the obscure value of these goods as well as the undisclosed identity of certain owners pose a risk to our country. This grey area could make Switzerland the target of accusations from other countries. ... Somehow this is all strangely reminiscent of the banking sector before the storm there broke." (17/04/2014)

Irish Examiner - Ireland | 16/04/2014

Ireland must continue to budget despite upturn

Unemployment in Ireland fell to 11.8 percent in March, the lowest rate in five years. Nevertheless the government is right to stick to its course of budget consolidation, the liberal daily Irish Examiner believes: "How cheering it would be to anticipate a budget that, if not expansionary, at least does not impose yet another round of disheartening cuts to incomes and public services. It is unfortunate, though, that - still - the stronger argument lies with the bad cop, in this instance Finance Minister Michael Noonan. … It seems irresponsible, too, to risk undoing everything - every miserable cutback, tax rise and reduction in services - endured over the last few years by relaxing too soon, by making short-term decisions that squander the prospect of long-term independence." (16/04/2014)

Diário de Notícias - Portugal | 16/04/2014

Portugal too late in reducing state apparatus

Portugal's government wants to cut spending by another 1.4 billion euros in 2015 to bring its budget deficit below 2.5 percent of the GDP, Finance Minister Maria Luís Albuquerque announced on Tuesday after a special meeting of the Council of Ministers. More than half of the cuts are to be achieved by reducing the state apparatus. This measure is a step in the right direction but comes too late, according to the liberal-conservative daily Diário de Notícias: "One has to ask why this is being done now and was not pushed through earlier. Only after three national budgets and four corrected budget plans is the Council of Ministers concentrating on measures aimed at increasing the efficiency of the public sector. ... For at least two years there have been demands for something similar to be done so as not to burden the civil servants, pensioners and taxpayers with increasing cuts in their income." (16/04/2014)

Verslo žinios - Lithuania | 16/04/2014

Shale gas revolution a burden on Lithuania

The Lithuanian oil refinery Orlen Lietuva is currently going through the worst period in its history. Running at 60 percent of its capacity, it has announced that 100 workers will be laid off. The business paper Verslo žinios explains how a company so important for the Lithuanian economy got into such a state: "If production continues to fall the only option will be to close the refinery down. ... The main reason for this calamity is the shale gas revolution in the US, which has lowered the margins in refineries across Europe and cost them millions in losses. For years Orlen Lietuva has counted among the biggest taxpayers in the country. And it is of huge strategic importance, above all for Lithuania's national security. The only oil refinery in the Baltic and one of Lithuania's biggest exporters, it exerts a major influence on our country's economy." (16/04/2014)

ABC - Spain | 16/04/2014

Fight unemployment in Spain's regions

Five Spanish regions have the highest unemployment rates in Europe, according to a report published by European statistics agency Eurostat on Tuesday. Brussels in particular must step in to help these regions, the conservative daily ABC demands: "The Eurostat report leaves no room for doubt: the five regions with the highest unemployment levels in the EU are in Spain. With rates all around 35 percent, Andalucia, Ceuta, Melilla, the Canary Islands and Extremadura are at the top of the list. This not only highlights the local impact of the crisis but also points to long-standing structural problems. Unemployment is gradually starting to decline. But for it to come closer to the European average, those in charge - starting with Brussels - need to take political measures that help these historically burdened regions in the long term rather than just easing their current pain." (16/04/2014)

Der Standard - Austria | 16/04/2014

Success of new banking union uncertain

The European Parliament approved standardised rules for the dealing with banks in crisis on Tuesday. With this, the second pillar of a banking union after banking supervision, taxpayers are no longer to be made to pay for bailing out failing banks. However the left-liberal daily Der Standard is sceptical about whether the plan will really work out: "Thanks to the new rules another disaster à la Hypo Alpe Adria is less likely - but the new law also has its loopholes and it's unclear whether many of the regulations are truly useful. One of the cornerstones of the new system, the 'bail-in' is a good example of this: creditors are also to pay their share of the bill in the event of new banking crises. ... But the financial overseers will first have to painstakingly make sure that banks have enough resources to be used for a bail-in. This is no easy task. Last year in the case of Cyprus, Europe faced the problem that the bloated banks had no creditors who could be made to contribute to the rescue measures." (16/04/2014)

Wprost Online - Poland | 15/04/2014

Amazon will shake up Poland's book market

The online bookseller Amazon wants to open its first two logistic centres in Poland in August. Amazon will turn the Polish book market upside down, journalist Grzegorz Sadowski writes in the news portal Wprost: "As an Amazon customer I'm delighted that the prices they offer are so low. Often books are substantially cheaper than if you were to purchase them in Poland. It's good that the company puts customers firmly at the centre of attention. And that's why it's so successful. But there's two sides to every coin. When Amazon comes to Poland soon it will mean the end for many publishers. It'll be the same scenario as with the big stores that have cheap textiles produced somewhere on the other side of the world. The market will change, but in any case to the advantage of customers. Hopefully Poles will read more books then." (15/04/2014)

Financial Times - United Kingdom | 14/04/2014

Unnecessary panic-mongering over deflation

In recent weeks calls have increased for the ECB to do more to counter the threat of deflation in the Eurozone. But warnings of dropping price levels are just undue pessimism, the former chief economist at the ECB, Jürgen Stark, writes in the liberal business paper Financial Times: "With the economic recovery in the eurozone stabilising, and leading indicators pointing upwards, the most likely medium-term scenario is stable prices and a modest upturn over the next two years. No further action by the ECB is required. Any further action would be of questionable impact, and would lead to an unjustified ultra-loose monetary policy stance for too long, with unintended medium-term consequences. Moreover, it would dramatically complicate the exit from low interest rate and liquidity-providing policies." (14/04/2014)

Dienas Bizness - Latvia | 14/04/2014

Latvian state has no clue about business

The government in Riga plans to decide in early April whether Latvia will take over German energy company Eon's shares in the Latvian gas company Latvijas Gāze. Advocates of this step hope it will reduce Latvia's energy dependence on Russia, but the business paper Dienas Bizness advises against it: "Past experiences show that the Latvian states as a shareholder is not a good option. Politically influential persons are installed in high posts and there are diverse scandals but this doesn't help the development of the company. Such companies either generate losses or a large portion of the profits go into dividends. ... If it then turns out that the state as the main investor is pursuing a single goal - to hurt the Russians - then there's not much difference to having an investment fund [which is also driven by its own interests] as shareholder." (14/04/2014)

Les Echos - France | 14/04/2014

Draghi pushes politicians to fight deflation

ECB chief Mario Draghi announced on Sunday at the Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank that he will resolutely fight deflation in the Eurozone. The first head of the ECB to directly address the issue of the euro exchange rate, Draghi has sent out a dual message, the business paper Les Echos writes: "Draghi's message is first of all addressed to the markets. He's letting them know in no uncertain terms that any additional appreciation of the euro would lead to intervention by the ECB. Hence investors would be running serious risks if they were to push the exchange rate over the threshold that can now be set at 1 dollar and 40 cents. But this message is also addressed to our political leaders just a few weeks prior to the European elections. In the midst of campaigning, some of them have started to put the lack of recovery down to inactivity on the part of the ECB. Mario Draghi has now put the ball back in their court. It's now up to them to implement thoroughgoing reforms for growth to accelerate. And it's up to them to do all they can to prevent the people of Europe from using the vote to get rid of the euro." (14/04/2014)

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