Tag Archives: sell a business

US may default on its debt a half-month earlier than expected, new analysis shows

8 Jan

The government hit the $16.4 trillion statutory debt limit on Dec. 31 , but the Treasury Department is able to undertake a number of accounting schemes to delay when the government runs into funding problems.

The Treasury has said that the accounting schemes, known as “extraordinary measures,” ordinarily would forestall default for about the first two months of the year, though officials were clear that they could not pinpoint a precise date because of an unusual amount of uncertainty around federal finances.

“Our numbers show that we have less time to solve this problem than many realize,” Steve Bell, senior director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said in a statement. “It will be difficult for Treasury to get beyond the March 1 date in our judgment.”

The fast-approaching deadline to raise the debt limit is likely to be Washington’s next fiscal battleground. Republicans say they plan to use the occasion to demand deep federal spending cuts, with House Speaker John A. Boehner insisting on a dollar reduction in federal spending for every dollar increase in the nation’s borrowing limit.

But the White House says President Obama will not negotiate this point, since the debt ceiling represents a limit to obligations that Congress already has promised to pay.

“What he will not do — as he has made clear — is negotiate with Congress over Congress’s sole responsibility to pay the bills that Congress has already incurred,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Monday. “Nobody forced Congress to rack up the bills that it incurred. And it is an abdication of responsibility to say that we’re going to let the country default and cause global economic calamity simply because we’re not getting what we want in terms of our ideological agenda.”

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s debt-limit deadline is based on several assumptions, two of which conceivably could change the calendar.

One is that the confusion around end-of-year tax policy could lead to delays in the filing of taxes and refunds, throwing a curveball into projections about the nation’s finances.

The other is the overall pace of economic growth; faster growth tends to lift tax receipts.

If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling by the deadline, the White House has said that the nation likely would default. In a previous episode — in the summer of 2011 — officials determined that the best course would be to withhold all of a given day’s federal payments until enough money became available to pay them.

47.3% in Spain Expect Worse for 2013

13 Dec

An opinion poll carried out by the Government agency CIS, revealed 47.3% of Spaniards believe 2013 will be worse than 2012, whilst 31,7% think it will be much of the same. Only 12.6% had any hopes that it might improve, as predicted by the despairing Prime Minister Rajoy.
54.7% described the present economic situation as ‘very bad’. In the list of the 10 worst problems for the country, unemployment and evictions were top, followed by the political parties, the problems with the health system, corruption, the banks and immigration.

http://www.businessownersdirect.com

Spain: The crisis of the week:

13 Dec

On Monday the country risk rose to 430 points and the interest rate on 10 year public bonds reached 5.61%
The Fitch Agency has warned that the prospects for the Spanish banking sector will be ‘negative’ in the coming year, due to public debt and the privatisation of nationalised entities
Eurostat reports that Spain, together with Romania, Bulgaria and Greece, has the largest percentage of people at risk of poverty, with 22% of total population
In spite of the refinancing of the banks, agency Moody warns that the number of bad loans in the Spanish banking system will continue to increase in 2013, and prices for dwellings continue to fall.

http://www.businessownersdirect.com

Spain faces cuts of €20 billion

13 Dec

Spain is facing EU subsidy cuts of €20 billion, which means that for the first time it will become a net contributor – that is, paying more in than it gets out.

The reduction, scheduled for the period 2014 to 2020, will reduce Spain’s GDP by 2%, further weakening the country’s already fragile economy.

The cuts will affect agricultural subsidies by 17% and ‘cohesion funds’, payments made to help balance disparities between the regions, by 30%.

http://www.businessownersdirect.com

Spain’s Black Money Whitewash

13 Dec

As Hacienda, the Spanish tax authority, continues to chase ‘the little man’ with more enquiries, inspections, taxes and IVA, what news of those millonarios who keep their money in Offshore Tax Havens?

A fiscal amnesty put into place in June by the Government to bring back money stashed offshore with a flat 10% tax on the entire sum returned and reported was looking like a flop after only 6% of the estimated 2,500 million euros of the expected surge of money had in fact shown up by late October.

An estimated figure (when was it ever anything else?) of 71.7% of all money which eludes the Spanish Tax-man is said to come from grandes fortunas y corporaciones empresariales – the über-wealthy and large companies. Despite this, it is reported that Hacienda prefers to spend most of its energies on investigating the self-employed, small companies and ordinary private-sector employees.
According to the BBC, the world’s ‘super-rich’ were holding at least $21 trillion in ‘secret tax havens’ at the end of 2010. Where much of it is evidently going to stay.
The amnesty, which ran out on the final day of November, eventually collected 1,200 million euros of off-shore money – a miserly portion of the hoped-for sum.

The Minister for Hacienda y Administraciones Públicas, Cristóbal Montoro, in a final attempt to increase the amount, had reminded the wealthy in late November that crimes against the Public Purse are never ‘prescribed’ – which must have encouraged a few of Spain’s wealthier patrons of the Swiss banking system to roll over.
Thus, the fiscal amnesty which was to bring in untold millions from off-shore bank accounts, paying a measly 10% and no questions asked, was anything other than a success, with less than half the expected windfall collected.

An amusing article in a Spanish web-page called ‘Voxpopuli’ notes that Hacienda should have sent a photographer to Geneva airport in late November to record the long lines of people wearing dark glasses while carrying little more than a bulging briefcase and queuing up for their flights to Spain.
Now it seems that the civil servants who make up the staff of Hacienda were against the idea from the start and they have decided, despite guarantees to the contrary from the Department of the Treasury, to audit all those millonarios who, gritting their teeth as they reluctantly decided to do the right thing, sidled into the bank recently with a heavy suitcase. It hardly needs saying that this poor sportsmanship on the part of Hacienda will probably discourage others from stepping forward at a later amnistía fiscal.

A tax-man from Hacienda, writing on Monday in the ‘Nueva Tribuna’, suggests that a reorganisation of Hacienda and the Tesoro Público (in charge of the politics of the economy), allowing more focus on the Wealthy, would generate savings and weaken the ‘underground economy’ with an estimated increase in revenue to the State of over 6 billion euros.

http://www.businessownersdirect.com

 

 

Eurozone crisis far from over, ECB, IMF warn

6 Dec

— The eurozone’s crisis is far from over and its members must consolidate their budgets and forge a banking union to put the bloc on a more stable economic footing, the leaders of the IMF and European Central Bank said on Friday.
Underlining the bloc’s woes, data showed both German retail sales and French consumer spending falling faster than expected as well as stubborn Spanish inflation that will likely lift the cost of state pension rises for an already hard-pressed budget.
Eurozone wide numbers showed another 173,000 people joining record jobless queues in October, while a dive in consumer price inflation offered only limited relief to households struggling with the recession.
Speaking in Paris, where the government is trying to dispel concerns raised by the IMF that France could be left behind as Italy and Spain reform at a faster pace, ECB President Mario Draghi said the eurozone’s three-year-old crisis was likely to stretch deep into next year.
“We have not yet emerged from the crisis,” Draghi told Europe 1 radio. “The recovery for most of the euro zone will certainly begin in the second half of 2013.”
“It’s true that budgetary consolidation entails a short-term contraction of economic activity, but this budgetary consolidation is inevitable,” Draghi said, speaking through a translator.
A Greek bankruptcy could lead to the break-up of the eurozone
German lawmakers approved the latest bailout for Greece on Friday by a large majority despite growing unease about the cost to taxpayers less than a year before federal elections.
The package, which aims to cut the Greek debt load to 124 of national output by 2020, coincides with increased speculation among German lawmakers and media that eurozone governments will eventually have to write off much of the Greek debt they hold.
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in the Bundestag debate that such speculation could undermine the Greek government’s reform drive.
“If we say the debts will be written off (Greece’s) willingness to make savings is correspondingly weakened. Such false speculation does not solve the problems,” he said. “A Greek bankruptcy could lead to the break-up of the eurozone.”
ECB policymakers hold their regular monthly policy meeting next week and are widely expected to leave interest rates on hold at a record low of 0.75%. Economists are divided on whether the central bank will cut next year.
Draghi has stressed the ECB is ready to help tackle the crisis by buying potentially unlimited amounts of sovereign debt under its new bond-buy plan but until Spain applies for aid, a prerequisite for the ECB to intervene, it cannot use the tool.
Resisting fresh ECB action, Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann said on Thursday central bankers had done more than enough to fight the crisis and it was now up to governments to act by reforming their economies and making the banking sector solid.
BANKING UNION
Draghi, in Paris for a conference with top financial officials, said eurozone governments should push ahead quickly with implementing a banking union which must apply to all banks to avoid fragmenting the sector.
His position puts the ECB, which would take on the role of pan-European banking sector, at odds with Germany. Berlin has said that unified banking supervision under the aegis of the ECB should apply only to the bloc’s largest banks.
Joerg Asmussen, one of the ECB’s key negotiators for a closer integration of the eurozone and a former deputy German finance minister, said late on Thursday a new European banking supervisory body would not be ready to operate fully before 2014.
But International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde pressed for swift implementation of a banking union that would have powers to supervise all banks in the eurozone.
“Banking union seems to us to be the first priority,” Lagarde said during the meeting with top financial officials in Paris, adding that closer budgetary consolidation should be the next priority.
The economic situation in the eurozone remained fragile and governments should maintain a “reasonable” pace of budgetary consolidation to avoid crimping growth, she added.

http://www.businessownersdirect.com

Spain has taken painful steps to clean up its banks, but more may yet be needed

6 Dec

European Union regulators approved Spain’s plans to restructure its troubled banks, allowing them to get bail-out funds. One of the lenders, Banco de Valencia, is being sold off for a token €1 ($1.30).
THE delightful (though small) plates of tapas that often accompany an evening drink in Spain can, if eaten with gusto, end up replacing the meal they were meant to precede. After four years of appetiser-sized bank restructurings, bail-outs and reforms, Spain’s banking system may finally be getting its fill of public money.
On November 28th the European Commission approved restructuring plans that will allow it to inject €37 billion ($48 billion) in euro-zone funding into four Spanish banks. The money will allow for a clean-up of bank balance sheets begrimed by dud loans granted to property developers during the inflation of Spain’s colossal property bubble. Many of these loans are now worth just cents on the euro. Yet an earlier refusal by supervisors and banks to recognise the scale of the problem contributed to an erosion of confidence in both banks and in government finances.
Under the new plan, four banks including Bankia, itself the failed product of an earlier half-hearted restructuring of bust regional savings banks, will get cash from two of Europe’s bail-out funds. In return they have promised to cut their balance-sheets, stop lending to risky property developers and focus instead on lending to small and medium-sized businesses.

The sharpest cuts will be at Bankia, which has already been nationalised and which will receive public funds worth almost €18 billion (including €4.5 billion injected into the bank by the state in September). It will cut its branch network by almost 40% and its staff by 28%. Investors in the bank’s debt will also take a hit, with as much as €4.8 billion in additional capital coming from the mandatory swapping of hybrid instruments and subordinated debt for new shares worth less. Across all four banks, holders of hybrid instruments may take a hit of about €10 billion.
Forcing investors in some of the banks’ debt to take losses was a condition imposed by contributors to the bail-out funds to minimise the burden on taxpayers. Yet it will probably prove unpopular in Madrid, since much of this debt is held by tens of thousands of small investors, many of whom bought it after being assured by banks that it was as safe as deposits.
Bankia optimistically hopes to return to profitability next year and to be generating healthy returns by 2015. One bank, Banco de Valencia, was deemed beyond salvation. It will be recapitalised with €4.5 billion and then sold to CaixaBank, Spain’s third-largest bank.
A second key element of the bail-out will be the creation of a new “bad bank” in December. It will take dud loans from those being restructured. The government hopes this will help them regain the confidence of markets. It may also kickstart lending, and help revive an economy that contracted by about 5% in the year to August. Little detail was provided as to exactly how much debt the bad bank, known as Sareb, will take, but officials in Brussels said some €45 billion in Spanish banking assets would be transferred to it.
Officials in Brussels hoped that the markets would welcome the restructuring, saying it would “restore the viability of banks”. Yet even this new recapitalisation and restructuring plan may underestimate the voracious appetite of the Spanish banking system.
A report by staff at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released on November 28th sounded warnings of further loan losses as Spain’s economy contracts. Losses on corporate loans have already increased sharply, yet those on mortgages remain remarkably subdued (see chart). Some deterioration in these seems likely if, as the IMF expects, house prices contract and unemployment also rises.
The IMF reckons that house prices, which have slumped 30% from their peak, may fall further given the stock of unsold homes and weak growth in household incomes. Unemployment, already at about 25%, may rise to almost 27%, the OECD warned in a separate report this week. The main course of bank restructuring may have been served, but a sour postre (dessert) may still be on the menu.

http://www.businessownersdirect.com