Monday, June 14, 2010

LONDON Monday newspaper round-up: BP, OBR, Coffee

Date: Monday 14 Jun 2010

President Obama will address the American people tomorrow night to prepare them for what his Administration accepts will be an environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, comparable in its reach and impact to “an epidemic”, the Times reports.

In his first speech direct from the White House — a forum reserved by his predecessors for moments of national trauma and anxiety — Mr Obama will console those whose livelihoods have been affected by the BP oil spill; set out “what we can do and what we can’t do” to clean it up; and announce a plan to force BP to put aside billions of dollars for compensation payments, which will be paid by an independent body, the Times adds.

Official growth forecasts for the 
UK economy will on Monday be cut as the newly established Office for Budget Responsibility publishes its first report on the country’s economic prospects. Downward revision is likely to unsettle investors, acutely conscious of the impact that lower projections would have on stretched public finances. People close to the process say the independent OBR will paint a more pessimistic picture of Britain’s economic prospects and size of the structural budget deficit than the last Labour government. In the March budget, the Labour government forecast annual growth of between 3% and 3.25% – far higher than outside economists,the FT reports.
The eurozone's sovereign debt crisis has severely damaged the fragile confidence in the sustainability of a global economic recovery, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) warns today, echoing similar concerns from the Bank of England. BIS, the Basel-based organisation that co-ordinates much of the global banking system, said "fiscal concerns [had] shattered confidence" and prompted a flight to safety by international investors, the Independent reports.
Banks have dismissed cross-party proposals for banking reform as "extreme", arguing that initiatives they have already implemented offer "better ways" of tackling underlying problems. The Future of Banking Commission report, published on Sunday, called for a break-up of banks to separate the deposit taking and investment arms to protect savers and taxpayers. The report suggested that this should not be done on a unilateral basis, but with international co-ordination, the Telegraph reports.
The Financial Services Authority's "intrusive approach" to vetting has scared off prospective non-executives and threatens to turn British boardrooms into "a room full of clones", an executive at a leading insurer has warned.The criticism comes as George Osborne, the Chancellor, finalises a plan to strip the City watchdog of its powers. Mr Osborne is expected to announce the changes at his maiden Mansion House speech on Wednesday, with the Bank of England expected to be handed the FSA's responsibility for preventing future financial crises, the Telegraph reports.

Speculators in commodities suffered multimillion-dollar losses last week after the cost of 
robusta coffee jumped nearly 20 per cent in just three days. Robusta coffee is traditionally a sleepy niche commodity market, largely handled by producers of instant coffee and trading houses such as Louis Dreyfus of France. Recently it has become a playground for hedge funds, the FT reports.
The £4bn auction of Britain’s biggest electricity distribution network could be delayed by a dispute over how to fill a hole of £100m or more in its pension fund. EDF Energy, the French power group, put the business — which provides power to 7.8m homes in southeast England — up for sale a year ago. Final bids are due on June 21, the Times reports.
Private sector employers are set to embark on a new round of pension cost cutting, a report published today reveals, axing final salary schemes of thousands of staff while also pursuing other strategies for getting rid of liabilities related to retirement benefits. A study of employers conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers reveals businesses are planning a second wave of pension scheme closures as they try to cut costs, while also looking at other longer-term savings, the Independent reports.

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