FILE PHOTO: The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney leaves after a news conference at the Bank of England in London, Britain February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool/File Photo
April 24, 2019
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is searching for a new governor of the Bank of England to succeed Mark Carney in early 2020.
Finance minister Philip Hammond is hoping that concerns about Brexit will not deter potential applicants.
Below are possible contenders to run the BoE which oversees the world’s fifth-biggest economy and its huge finance industry.
The former deputy BoE governor was tipped by analysts as Carney’s most likely successor. But delays to the search, after Carney extended his time in London, have raised questions about whether Hammond sees him as the best candidate.
Bailey, 60, was deputy governor with a focus on banks before becoming chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, a markets regulator.
While at the BoE, Bailey helped to steer Britain’s banks through the global financial crisis.
Heading the FCA is fraught with risks. Lawmakers criticised Bailey for not publishing all of a report into alleged misconduct by bank RBS. Bailey cited privacy restrictions.
As FCA boss, Bailey sits on important panels at the BoE that oversee banks. Although he has never been interest-rate setter, he once ran the BoE international economic analysis team.
Rajan, 56, headed the Reserve Bank of India from 2013 to 2016, and was chief economist at the International Monetary Fund between 2003 and 2006 when he warned of the risk of a financial crisis.
Now a professor at Chicago Booth business school, Rajan has published a book on dissatisfaction with markets and the state – touching on some of the underlying issues behind Brexit.
Rajan unexpectedly did not seek a renewal of his three-year term at the RBI, having faced hostility from some sections of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party who disliked his less nationalist stance and brief forays into political territory.
Rajan declined to comment when asked by Reuters last week whether he would consider a return to active policymaking.
Egyptian-born Shafik, 57, was a BoE deputy governor between 2014 and 2017, in charge of markets and banking, including the central bank’s asset purchase programme. She quit the job early to become director of the London School of Economics.
Between 2008 and 2011 she was the top civil servant at Britain’s ministry for overseas aid and was then deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund, where she represented the fund in the Greek debt crisis.
Shafik would become the first woman to head the BoE, and was only its second female deputy governor.
BEN BROADBENT AND DAVE RAMSDEN
Broadbent, 54, and Ramsden, 55, are deputy governors for monetary policy and for markets and banking respectively.
Broadbent, a former Goldman Sachs economist who trained as a classical pianist, is respected for his economic analysis but has less experience on banking oversight.
Ramsden was the Treasury’s chief economic advisor.
The two other BoE deputy governors, Jon Cunliffe and Sam Woods, are less likely contenders. Woods focuses mostly on financial regulation while Cunliffe – a former British ambassador to the European Union – would be aged 66 at the start of the term which usually runs for eight years.
Vadera, 56, has no central banking experience but is seen as a contender due to her current role as non-executive chairwoman of Santander UK, one of Britain’s biggest banks, and her time as a junior business minister during the financial crisis.
Vadera served as a minister from 2007 to 2009 after a career in investment banking and a period at the finance ministry.
In 2008, she was part of a small group of ministers and officials who devised a plan worth hundreds of billions of pounds in loan guarantees to keep high-street banks in business.
The BoE’s chief economist, Haldane has developed a reputation for floating unconventional ideas, including the possibility that music apps such as Spotify and multiplayer online games might give central bankers just as a good a sense of what is going on in the economy as traditional surveys.
In 2012, he praised the anti-capitalist Occupy movement for suggesting new ways to fix the shortcomings of global finance. Haldane has experience of both sides of the BoE, having served as executive director for financial stability, overseeing the risks to the economy from the banking system. But he might be seen as too much of a maverick to take the job of governor.
A LABOUR PARTY GOVERNOR?
The prospect of the left-wing Labour Party taking power has grown as Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to break the Brexit impasse.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his would-be finance minister John McDonnell are socialists and have in the past proposed that the BoE should fund investment in infrastructure, a big change from its current focus on inflation.
Former members of Labour’s economic advisory committee included U.S. academic and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and Ann Pettifor, a British economist who is an austerity critic, and former BoE rate-setter David Blanchflower.
(Writing by William Schomberg and David Milliken, Editing by Angus MacSwan)
As former vice president Joe Biden prepares to launch his 2020 presidential campaign on Thursday, his long public record working for gun control has been consistently in line with the values of today’s Democratic Party, but potential political danger lurks for him even on this issue, NBC News reported on Wednesday.
As a Delaware senator and ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Biden voted in favor of the Firearm Owners Protection Act in 1986, which the NRA has called “the law that saved gun rights.”
Reflecting a vastly different era decades ago, when compromise was common in the Senate and guns were less of a partisan and emotional issue, the act passed by a wide margin.
It overturned six Supreme Court rulings and various regulations, leaving a legacy as one of the most important gun laws of the past century and a major political boost for the growing gun rights movement.
The act allowed dealers to sell rifles, shotguns and ammunition through the mail and limited federal inspections of firearms dealers while allowing them to sell at gun shows.
Biden praised it at the time as a “balanced piece of legislation that protects the rights of private gun owners while not infringing on law enforcement’s ability to deal with those who misuse guns or violate laws,” adding that “I have never believed that additional gun control or Federal registration of guns would reduce crime.”
Biden spokesman Bill Russo said “Cherry-picking an out of context quote from 1986 doesn’t even begin to address Joe Biden’s unparalleled record on gun safety. Let’s be clear on the facts: Joe Biden took on the NRA and won – twice.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Theresa May holds a news conference following an extraordinary European Union leaders summit to discuss Brexit, in Brussels, Belgium April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo
April 24, 2019
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s governing Conservative Party will not change the rules governing leadership challenges but demanded a clear timetable for Prime Minister Theresa May’s departure if her Brexit deal is rejected in parliament, a lawmaker at a party meeting said.
The executive of the so-called 1922 Committee, which groups Conservative lawmakers, met on Wednesday to discuss whether to change the leadership rules after some demanded a change to oust May from her post earlier than current procedures allow.
But a Conservative lawmaker at a broader meeting of the 1922 Committee said the executive had told lawmakers that there would be no change to the rules, but that the committee would call for a “clear schedule” for May’s departure if her Brexit deal is not passed in parliament.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Kylie MacLellan; editing by William James)
People hold banners during a rally to support a nationwide teachers’ strike in central Warsaw, Poland April 24, 2019. Banner reads “Nationwide demonstration for the school”. Agencja Gazeta/Jedrzej Nowicki via REUTERS
April 24, 2019
WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s governing nationalists announced legislation on Wednesday to ensure final high school exams are held next month despite a teachers’ strike that has shut thousands of schools for more than two weeks.
Teacher demands for a pay rise of up to 1,000 zloty ($260)evoke the competing demands of various groups for a slice of the fast-growing prosperity of central Europe’s largest economy, at a time when the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) is expanding benefits for families and pensioners ahead of elections.
Critics say the government lacks incentive to find extra money for teachers as they broadly oppose the PiS over accusations that it is undermining Polish democracy by seeking to impose more political control over the judiciary, the state media and other public institutions. Meanwhile, the populist PiS has announced more payments for farmers who raise pigs and cows.
Teachers polled by the Rzeczpospolita daily say they earn 1,750-2,800 zloty a month after taxes. The average net salary in Polish enterprises amounts to around 3,700 zloty.
Students and parents are anxious to know whether final high school exams – allowing students to apply to university – will be held as planned at the beginning of May.
“The state must guarantee that in every school every exam candidate will be able to take their exam at the scheduled time, this is necessary for the peace of mind of students and parents and for the state to be seen as serious and responsible,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a televised speech.
He announced pending legislation that would allow school directors to grant permission for exams to go ahead if the teachers’ committees at schools remained on strike.
The emergency bill is expected to be put to a vote on Thursday. Given the PiS’s majority of 237 seats in the 460-strong lower house of parliament, the announced legislation is likely to be passed.
Despite a majority of Polish schools not holding lessons for a third week, final exams for children finishing primary and middle schools were held without disruptions.
Thousands of teachers took to the streets of Warsaw on Wednesday as the strike stretched into its 17th day, brandishing placards with slogans such as “Without respect and money, education drowns in poverty”.
In recent months, some opinion polls conducted before the European Parliament election in May have raised the possibility that PiS might lose power after Poland’s national election due in October or November. It is the first such signal since the strongly conservative party took office in 2015.
($1 = 3.8296 zlotys)
(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk and Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech for the Parisian Firefighters’ brigade and security forces who took part at the fire extinguishing operations during the Notre Dame of Paris Cathedral fire, at Elysee Palace in Paris, France, April 18, 2019. Christophe Petit Tesson/Pool via REUTERS
April 24, 2019
By Michel Rose
PARIS (Reuters) – Shaken by five months of often-violent “yellow vest” protests, Emmanuel Macron will announce a package of measures that could include lower taxes and the abolition of France’s elite Ecole Nationale d’Administration to quell the unrest.
The street rebellion erupted over planned diesel tax hikes but morphed into a broader backlash against inequality and a political elite perceived as having lost touch with the common person. Protesters clashed with police for a 23rd straight week on Saturday.
Macron’s policy response is the result of a three-month long national debate, during which he rolled up his sleeves on a weekly basis to discuss issues from high taxes to local democracy and decaying shopping streets with local mayors, working parents, students and workers.
For Macron, whose monarchical governing style early on prompted accusations of arrogance among voters and contributed to a sharp drop in his popularity, his first news conference at the Elysee palace will be crucial to regain lost ground with voters.
“He wants to break the image of someone who’s stubborn and who never listens to anybody,” Arnaud Mercier, an expert in political communication at the Institut Français de Presse at Assas University in Paris, told Reuters.
Macron is expected to relaunch a reform drive that started with a bang with an easing of labor regulation in the first months of his mandate but which was derailed by the protests.
The president wanted 2019 to see an overhaul of pensions – unifying into one myriads of different pension systems including deficit-ridden ones at state-owned companies – and unemployment insurance. But little progress has been made on these.
Instead, Macron had to pour 10 billion euros into raising benefits for the poorest workers and halting tax rises on fuel in the face of the yellow vest protests.
“It’s also a symbol that he wants to launch the start of Act Two of his mandate,” Mercier said.
NO WOW EFFECT
Macron was initially scheduled to announce the policy measures last Monday but was forced to postpone after a fire tore through the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, badly damaging a symbol of France’s national soul.
Most of the policies he was to lay out have been leaked.
They included, French media reported, a cut in income tax, re-linking the lowest pensions with inflation, halting the closure of hospitals and schools in rural areas, and abolishing the ENA civil service college that has for many become a symbol of a privileged elite.
The Elysee did not confirm or deny the policies.
While the leaks may have spoiled the “wow effect” Macron was hoping for, it may also have given the 41-year-old a chance to gauge public reaction.
In a sign Macron has not given up on his reform agenda, he is also expected to announce measures to make the French “work more”, French media reported, a potentially explosive move in a country where pension and labor reforms often push millions onto the streets.
Lawmakers in Macron’s party did not rule out possible changes to the 35-hour working week or the scrapping of a bank holiday to fund measures to help take care of older people.
“There should be no disavowal of the first part of the mandate, but there should be no stubbornness either,” Sibeth Ndiaye, the government’s spokeswoman, told reporters.
The leaked reforms were met with underwhelming reactions from prominent “yellow vest” figures and political opponents.
“We’ll surely have a lot of things to say after the predictable disappointment from Macron’s announcements, if the leaks in the media are any guide,” Sophie Tissier, a high profile “yellow vest” figure, told BFM TV.
(Additional reporting by Marine Pennetier; Writing by Michel Rose; Editing by Peter Graff)
The showdown between the White House and House Democrats is growing more bitter as new battles break out and ignite a total war, Politico is reporting.
Now, even modest compromises may be unobtainable as both sides ready for protracted fights in federal court.
Here are some of the key disputes.
- House Democrats are warning they could hold an administration official in contempt. The official, who had overseen security clearances, was instructed by the White House not to cooperate with Congress.
- The administration refused to turn over six years of President Donald Trump’s personal and business tax returns by a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline and asked for additional time to consult with the Department of Justice.
- The White House is trying to block the House Judiciary Committee from bringing in former White House counsel Don McGahn for testimony, according to The Washington Post. McGahn was mentioned in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
- Trump has filed suit to block a subpoena for his financial records from the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
“It’s a pretty extraordinary and outlandish situation right now,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a member of the House Oversight panel. “It’s like a curtain has fallen down over the White House.”
And Politico noted that Trump’s attorneys, who are challenging a subpoena for his financial records, wrote in court papers: “The Democrat Party, with its newfound control of the U.S. House of Representatives, has declared all-out political war against President Donald J. Trump.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May attends the funeral service for murdered journalist Lyra McKee at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast, Northern Ireland April 24, 2019. Charles McQuillan/Pool via REUTERS
April 24, 2019
LONDON (Reuters) – British government talks with the opposition Labour Party on finding a Brexit compromise cannot be open ended, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said on Wednesday.
The spokesman said working groups from both sides were pressing on with the talks this week, including a meeting to discuss financial services on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, writing by William James)
A mourner wearing a Gryffindor scarf holds an order of service as she arrives for the funeral of murdered journalist Lyra McKee at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast, Northern Ireland April 24, 2019. Brian Lawless/Pool via REUTERS
April 24, 2019
By Amanda Ferguson
BELFAST (Reuters) – The leaders of Britain and Ireland joined hundreds of mourners on Wednesday at the funeral of journalist Lyra McKee whose killing by an Irish nationalist militant gunman has sparked outrage in the province.
The New IRA group, which opposes Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace accord, admitted one of its members shot 29-year-old McKee dead in Londonderry on Thursday when they opened fire on police officers during a riot McKee was watching.
The killing, which followed a large car bomb in Londonderry in January that police also blamed on the New IRA, has raised fears that small marginalized militant groups are exploiting a two-year political vacuum in the province and tensions caused by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
In a statement issued ahead of the funeral, McKee’s family described the writer and lesbian and gay rights activist as a smart, strong-minded woman who believed passionately in justice, inclusivity and truth, and would not wish ill on anyone.
“We would ask that Lyra’s life and her personal philosophy are used as an example to us all as we face this tragedy together. Lyra’s answer would have been simple, the only way to overcome hatred and intolerance is with love, understanding and kindness,” they said.
Northern Ireland’s political parties, which are broadly split between Irish nationalists aspiring to unite the British region with Ireland and unionists who want it to remain British, have called for calm in a rare joint statement condemning the murder.
The party leaders joined British Prime Minister Theresa May, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Irish President Michael D. Higgins and the leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, at the funeral in McKee’s native Belfast.
(Reporting by Amanda Ferguson, writing by Padraic Halpin; editing by Kate Holton)
FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy reacts following the announcement of the first exit poll in a presidential election at his campaign headquarters in Kiev, Ukraine April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo
April 24, 2019
By Margaryta Chornokondratenko and Matthias Williams
KIEV (Reuters) – When the Ukrainian president played by actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy faces a corrupt parliament in his TV comedy, he fantasizes about blasting them all away with two submachine guns.
Now that Zelenskiy has been elected president in real life, Margarita Bulava, who voted for him, hopes he will have a similarly transformative effect on the country’s politics.
One of Zelenskiy’s biggest challenges will be meeting the expectations of voters like 28-year-old event hostess Bulava, who had never voted before last Sunday’s presidential election. Now she has an ambitious wish-list.
There should be no inflation. People like her mother, who works in a laundry in Poland, should stop needing to move abroad for better paid jobs. There should be peace with Russia. Wages should be higher, and pensioners should be able to afford their heating bills without having to sell flowers in the subway.
“It’s a huge plus that he has never been in politics because he is completely from another sphere. He sees the situation in the country through the eyes of the people,” said Bulava.
But what if the new president fails to deliver? “It’s very scary if really none of this succeeds because expectations are really very big and everyone believes that something really should happen,” she said after working out at her gym in Kiev.
A comedian and actor with no prior political experience, Zelenskiy, 41, beat incumbent Petro Poroshenko by a landslide, promising change to a country at war with Russian-backed forces and facing some of the worst poverty in Europe.
In a wildly successful election campaign, Zelenskiy remained vague on some key policy questions, trading on the image of the honest everyman he plays on TV: a schoolteacher who accidentally becomes president after a rant about corruption filmed by one of his students goes viral.
But his outsider status may hamper his ability to deliver on his promises, especially early in his presidency when he has no lawmakers representing his party in parliament.
And if he disappoints voters early on, that could make the problem worse, hurting his new party’s prospects going into October parliamentary elections that will determine the make-up of the cabinet with which he must share power.
Zelenskiy’s vague positions on the campaign trail won him support from a wide array of voters who wanted to see new faces in politics. But that makes his popularity “fragile”, said Agnese Ortolani, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
His support “could dissipate quickly when it comes to making decisions that could alienate part of his constituency,” Ortolani said.
An April survey by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) highlighted two issues in particular that are high on voters’ wishlists. Thirty-nine percent of Ukrainians expect Zelenskiy to cut their heating bills in his first 100 days in charge, and 35 percent expect him to act on an election pledge to strip lawmakers of their immunity from prosecution.
On heating tariffs, Zelenskiy is likely to face the same painful choice as his predecessors. Raising them will antagonize voters but lowering them risks derailing Ukraine’s $3.9 billion aid program from the International Monetary Fund, which has demanded Kiev allow gas prices to rise to market levels.
For now, the question is mainly in the hands of the cabinet, picked by parliament, rather than Zelenskiy.
Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman see-sawed on the issue, first agreeing to raise tariffs early in his term in 2016 but then stalling on further increases. When the need for IMF loans became acute, he agreed to raise them last October.
Zelenskiy called on Wednesday for the government to lower gas prices within days. Bonds fell after Zelenskiy’s statement.
If his party wins the parliamentary election, and a Zelenskiy-picked government takes charge, the need for new IMF loans might box him into raising prices again.
As for stripping lawmakers of their immunity, it was the sort of proposal aimed at cleaning out politics that won over voters such as bar owner Oleksiy Kostenyuk.
“In my opinion, this will change our parliament radically. Those who break the law will go away, those who earn money illegally will go away, and we will get a new type of politician,” Kostenyuk said.
Zelenskiy promised to introduce the necessary legislation but parliament may not play ball. Volodymyr Ariev, a lawmaker in Poroshenko’s faction, the largest in the chamber, told Reuters he did not expect such a move to succeed because politicians fear being prosecuted in political vendettas.
Sooner or later, political reality will puncture the image of Zelenskiy’s straight-shooting TV persona, Ariev said.
“We will see the demolition of many dreams of the people who had voted for Zelenskiy, and the demolition of his image from the movie.”
(Editing by Peter Graff)