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Monday newspaper round-up: Germany, Greece, Bank of England

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01/10/2012
Merkel urged to confess; succession planning at BoE; Chinese go shopping

German Chancellor Angela Merkel must “come clean at long last” and admit that Greece will need help for another seven or eight years, the German opposition leader said over the weekend.

“The Greeks must stand by their commitment, but we must give them time. We cannot tighten the screws any futher,” said Peer Steinbruck, the Social Democrat candidate for chancellor.

He said the political and economic fall-out from Greek ejection from the euro would be devastating and must be avoided.The plea came amid reports that Berlin is so worried that a Greek crisis would spin out of control that it is ready to back the next €31bn payment to Athens under its EU-IMF Troika rescue, despite failure to comply with the terms.

Wirtschaftswoche, a German news magazine, said Greece’s parliament merely needs to vote on a list of detailed reforms, The Telegraph reports.

 

Paul Fisher, the Bank of England’s executive director of markets, is being groomed to replace Paul Tucker as the Bank’s deputy governor for financial stability. Mr Tucker is one of three front-runners to succeed Sir Mervyn King as governor next June.

If he does not get the job, observers expect him to leave the Bank. His promotion or departure would leave the post vacant, with Bank insiders saying Mr Fisher is being prepared internally for the role.

The path from executive director of markets to deputy governor was the one taken by Mr Tucker when he was promoted in March 2009. Also like Mr Tucker, Mr Fisher is on the rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee as well as the Financial Policy Committee and has been a principle private secretary to a former Bank governor, The Telegraph says.

 

Few Chinese really need the excuse, but the start of Golden Week could herald an exodus of two million shoppers in search of Western bargains and luxury. They are part of a still-fervently optimistic nation that believes it will earn more, spend more and provide a better life for its offspring in future, according to a Boston Consulting Group study being published today.

 

Figures from HSBC yesterday showed that manufacturing had slumped for the eleventh month in a row in September and export orders had fallen at their sharpest rate in three and a half years — but “for the average person in China the slowdown is very hard to see, the typical Chinese consumer just hasn’t felt it yet”, Michael Silverstein, a senior partner at Boston Consulting, said, The Times reports.

 

As many as 40,000 complex financial products could have been mis-sold to small businesses, according to the City watchdog’s latest estimate of the scale of the banking scandal. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) confirmed it had increased its estimate of the number of so-called interest rate swap arrangements that were sold by more than 40%, up from 28,000 initially.

The new figure comes after the regulator was supplied with new information by the banks and suggests the industry could be facing a hefty compensation bill, writes The Independent.

 

The co-founder of US private equity group TPG has warned that if stock markets do not improve, investors in buyout groups will have to accept lower returns. Historically private equity groups have promised investors that they themselves will only take a cut of the profits from their investments if they achieve a minimum 8% return.

For most of its short history, the best buyout groups have had no trouble delivering. But now the industry is struggling with low returns and that 8% has become a more elusive target.

“If we continue to have zero interest rates, that 8% hurdle should go,” David Bonderman, co-founder of TPG said on the sidelines of a conference in Hong Kong, The Financial Times explains.

 

Some of the world’s largest oil companies are jostling for licences to explore for shale gas in Colombia, one of many countries hoping to replicate the North American boom in unconventional gas. ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips are among the more than 80 companies bidding for licences, according to Javier Gutiérrez, chief executive of Ecopetrol, Colombia’s state-run energy company.

“There is definitely more interest in this licensing round than in previous ones,” he told the Financial Times. The enthusiasm marks a turnround for Colombia, a country that was long a byword for political violence and instability, The Financial Times explains.

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