RIPOSTE BY 60 ECONOMISTS TO CALL FOR CUTS
More than 60 leading economists have backed Alistair Darling’s decision to delay spending cuts until 2011, creating a dividing line within the profession on the crucial general election issue of how to tackle the UK’s huge public debt. Two letters in today’s Financial Times warn of the risks of damaging Britain’s fragile recovery by “reckless” early cuts. They are a riposte to the 20 economists who wrote to The Sunday Times last weekend supporting the Conservative party’s argument that fiscal tightening should start this year.
RIVAL MEDIA ATTACK BBC APPS
Newspapers and broadcasters have leapt on the BBC’s plans for a range of mobile phone applications – apps – as the latest demonstration that the corporation is exceeding its remit. Rival media groups’ ability to generate advertising revenue or sell apps will be diminished by the arrival of free news and sports services for devices such as the iPhone, the critics claim.
BLOCKBUSTER TRIES TO CUT RENTS AND STORES
Blockbuster, the film and games rental chain, has been working with KPMG on negotiations with more than 600 landlords as part of its plans to cut costs. The Dallas-based company has been in talks with its UK landlords to reduce store numbers and costs through rent reductions. Blockbuster has considered several lease restructuring options across its national chain of shops. The company has come under competition from internet-based rivals, including postal DVD rental services such as Lovefilm.com, which has led to analysts questioning the need for large networks of regional stores. The chain has about 630 stores in the UK, its second-largest market.
JP MORGAN SUSPENDS ANALYST AFTER ASDA RUSE
JP Morgan has suspended an analyst amid accusations that he deceitfully gained access to a meeting Asda held with suppliers. Rickin Thakrar, a food retail analyst at the investment bank, wrote an explosive 14-page research note with information gained from a suppliers meeting held last week, despite having allegedly been struck off from the delegate list by the organisers.
LANSDOWNE DRIVING SCHOOL IN ADMINISTRATION
Lansdowne Venture Group, the owner of the RED driving school, has filed for administration after one of its major investors pulled out. The company, which runs one of the UK’s largest driving instructor training colleges, is based in Brighton, and employs 400 staff across the country.
The Daily Telegraph
BARCLAYS AND BANK OF AMERICA SEE LOOMING OIL CRASH
Surging demand in China, India and the Middle East is making up for decline in the debt-crippled West, ensuring another global crunch within three or four years. Bank of America and Barclays Capital, two leading oil traders, have told clients to brace for crude above $100 (£64) a barrel by next year, before it pushes relentlessly higher over the decade.
GOOGLE E-LIBRARY RULING IS DELAYED
The US judge who holds the key to “the greatest library in history” has decided to infinitely delay a ruling as to whether Google can legally digitise millions of books. Judge Denny Chin, presiding over a fairness hearing for a proposed $125m (£80m) settlement between the online technology specialist and The Authors Guild, said “there’s too much to digest.”
WALL STREET JOURNAL
MGM MIRAGE POSTS LOSS
MGM Mirage said its fourth-quarter revenue fell 11 per cent to $1.45bn, indicating that the battered Las Vegas casino industry is still struggling to chart a path to recovery. The casino and resorts operator posted a loss of $433.9m, or 98 cents a share, affected in part by a $548m write-down of the value of land that the company owns in Atlantic City. The loss was an improvement from a year-earlier loss of $1.15bn, which included a $1.2bn write-down.
CARLYLE OWNED WILLCOM SEEKS BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION
Japanese mobile-phone company Willcom filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday, dealing a blow to its owner Carlyle Group and highlighting the challenges of private-equity investing in Japan. Carlyle paid about $330m for a 60 per cent stake.