Lebanese banks to remain shut indefinitely after economic crises

Lebanese banks will remain shut “indefinitely” due to a lack of security protection by authorities, say their association. The announcement by the Association of Lebanese Banks follows a string of raids by customers demanding access to frozen savings last week. It said their employees faced risks which had not been mitigated. A woman armed with a toy gun staged a hold-up at a bank on Wednesday to pay for family medical bills. There have since been other copycat raids, with reports of at least five last Friday. Lebanon is in a severe economic crisis, with more than 80% of the … Continue reading Lebanese banks to remain shut indefinitely after economic crises

Germany announces €65bn package to curb soaring energy costs

Germany has announced a €65bn (£56.2bn) package of measures to ease the threat of rising energy costs, as Europe struggles with scarce supplies after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The package, much bigger than two previous ones, will include one-off payments to the most vulnerable and tax breaks to energy-intensive businesses. Energy prices have soared since the February invasion, and Europe is trying to wean itself off Russian energy. Ukraine has urged Europe to stand firm. According to website Politico, European Union officials have warned there is likely to be a crunch point in the coming months when countries start to feel … Continue reading Germany announces €65bn package to curb soaring energy costs

Undeclared pools in France uncovered by AI technology

The discovery of thousands of undeclared private swimming pools in France has provided an unexpected windfall for French tax authorities. Following an experiment using artificial intelligence (AI), more than 20,000 hidden pools were discovered. They have amassed some €10m ($9.9; £8.5m) in revenue, French media is reporting. Pools can lead to higher property taxes because they boost property value, and must be declared under French law. The software, developed by Google and French consulting firm Capgemini, spotted the pools on aerial images of nine French regions during a trial in October 2021. The regions of Alpes-Maritimes, Var, Bouches-du-Rhône, Ardèche, Rhône, … Continue reading Undeclared pools in France uncovered by AI technology

US Senate approves $700bn in economic package

The US Senate has approved a sweeping $700bn (£577bn) economic package that includes major legislation on healthcare, tax and climate change. The bill seeks to lower the cost of some medicines, increase corporate taxes and reduce carbon emissions. The passing of the bill which is a flagship part of President Joe Biden’s agenda – is a boost ahead of mid-term elections. But it is a significantly scaled-back version of the $3.5tn package that was first proposed by his administration. The bill, a product of 18 months of intense wrangling, passed by a margin of 51 to 50 on Sunday with … Continue reading US Senate approves $700bn in economic package

China signals it could miss economic growth target

China has signalled that it may miss its annual economic growth target, as Covid restrictions weigh on the world’s second largest economy. On Thursday, the Politburo – the ruling Communist Party’s top policy-making body – said it aims to keep growth within “a reasonable range”. It did not mention the official growth target of 5.5% it had earlier set. China is continuing to pursue a zero-Covid policy that has put major cities into full or partial lockdowns. In a statement after its quarterly economic meeting, the 25-member Politburo, which is chaired by President Xi Jinping, said leaders would “strive to … Continue reading China signals it could miss economic growth target

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister says economy has collapsed

Sri Lanka’s prime minister has said its debt-laden economy has “collapsed” after months of shortages of food, fuel and electricity. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Sri Lanka’s parliament on Wednesday that the South Asian country is “facing a far more serious situation beyond the mere shortages of fuel, gas, electricity and food. Our economy has completely collapsed.” Mr Wickremesinghe is also the finance minister tasked with stabilizing the economy. He said Sri Lanka is unable to purchase imported fuel, even for cash, due to heavy debts owed by its petroleum corporation. He said the government missed out on the chance … Continue reading Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister says economy has collapsed

In rare interview Biden says Americans ‘really, really down’

In a rare interview, President Joe Biden has said Americans are “really, really down” as they grapple with soaring inflation after two years of a pandemic. He told the Associated Press the “need for mental health in America has skyrocketed”. Mr Biden said he wanted Americans to “be confident. Because I am confident.” The president’s popularity has plunged as November elections loom that will decide which party controls Congress. “People are really, really down,” Mr Biden told the news agency in a half-hour interview from the Oval Office on Thursday. “They’re really down. Their need for mental health in America … Continue reading In rare interview Biden says Americans ‘really, really down’

People in Pakistan urged to drink fewer cups of tea

People in Pakistan have been asked to reduce the amount of tea they drink to keep the country’s economy afloat. Sipping fewer cups a day would cut Pakistan’s high import bills, senior minister Ahsan Iqbal said. The country’s low foreign currency reserves, currently enough for fewer than two months of all imports – have left it in urgent need of funds. Pakistan is the world’s largest importer of tea, buying in more than $600m (£501m) worth last year. “I appeal to the nation to cut down the consumption of tea by one to two cups because we import tea on … Continue reading People in Pakistan urged to drink fewer cups of tea

Sri Lankan Prime minister says $5bn needed amid economic crisis

Sri Lanka’s prime minister says the country needs at least $5bn (£4bn) over the next six months to pay for essential goods as it faces its worst economic crisis in more than 70 years. Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament the money is needed for basic items such as food, fuel and fertiliser. In May, Sri Lanka defaulted on its debts with international lenders for the first time in its history. The country has held bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund. On Tuesday, Mr Wickremesinghe, who is also the country’s finance minister, told parliament that more money was required this year … Continue reading Sri Lankan Prime minister says $5bn needed amid economic crisis

World Bank warns of worldwide recession due to Ukraine war

Countries around the world are facing recession as the Ukraine war hits economies already rocked by the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Bank has warned. Less developed countries in Europe and east Asia face a “major recession”, it said. The risk of high inflation and low growth – so-called “stagflation” – is also higher, World Bank President David Malpass said. Energy and food bills have been rising around the world. “The war in Ukraine, lockdowns in China, supply-chain disruptions, and the risk of stagflation are hammering growth. For many countries, recession will be hard to avoid,” Mr Malpass said. He also … Continue reading World Bank warns of worldwide recession due to Ukraine war

Germans get €9-a-month travel in response to energy price rises

For the next three months, Germans will be able to travel the country for just €9 (£7.50; $9.50) a month in a drive to tackle the soaring cost of living. All local and regional transport on trains, buses and metro is included in the government’s initiative, although inter-city trains are not. The cheap tickets are also aimed at getting people to leave their cars. However, fuel tax has also been reduced by around 30 cents a litre for petrol, bringing prices down below €2. The tax has been brought down to the EU minimum, again for the next three months, … Continue reading Germans get €9-a-month travel in response to energy price rises

Sri Lanka defaults on debt for first time in its history

Sri Lanka has defaulted on its debt for the first time in its history as the country struggles with its worst financial crisis in more than 70 years. It comes after a 30-day grace period to come up with $78m (£63m) of unpaid debt interest payments expired on Wednesday. The governor of the South Asian nation’s central bank said the country was now in a “pre-emptive default”. Later on Thursday, two of the world’s biggest credit rating agencies also said Sri Lanka had defaulted. Defaults happen when governments are unable to meet some or all of their debt payments to … Continue reading Sri Lanka defaults on debt for first time in its history