Business this week
Aug 10th 2013 |From the print edition
Britain’s recovery gathered pace. Industrial output grew by 1.2% year on year, the fastest rate since January 2011, with manufacturing up by 2%. The composite purchasing managers’ index, a measure of business activity in which a reading above 50 indicates growth, stood at 59.5 in July, the perkiest since records began in 1998.
The Italian economy also performed better than expected, though it still shrank by 0.2% from April to June. GDP has now sagged for eight consecutive quarters, making this Italy’s longest post-war recession. Output languishes 8.8% below its peak in 2007.
Mark Carney, the new governor of the Bank of England, used “forward guidance” to set expectations for the path of future interest rates. He vowed to keep the bank’s benchmark rate at 0.5% as long as unemployment stays above 7%, unless this threatens financial stability, raises inflation expectations or pushes inflation forecasts too high.
Raghuram Rajan, a former chief economist at the IMF, was picked to head the Reserve Bank of India. Mr Rajan, who will succeed Duvvuri Subbarao as governor in September, acknowledged that “there is no magic wand” to fix India’s problems of slowing growth, a weak currency and a big current-account deficit.
国际货币基金组织前首席经济学家Raghuram Rajan被任命为印度储备银行的行长。Rajan先生将会在9月接任Duvvuri Subbarao，掌管印度储备银行。他承认解决印度经济增长放缓，货币疲软以及巨额经常账户赤字等问题没有什么妙招。
The Royal Bank of Scotland named Ross McEwan, a retail banker from New Zealand, as its new boss. In June Britain’s government, which still owns 81% of the lender, decided to boot out his predecessor, Stephen Hester. Mr McEwan will take over in October.
苏格兰皇家银行任命来自新西兰的一位零售银行家Ross McEwan为新行长。6月，仍持有苏格兰皇家银行81%股份的英国政府决定将行长Stephen Hester解雇。McEwan先生将会在十月份走马上任。
HSBC’s net profit rose by 25% in the first half of the year. But the British bank’s revenue was down by 7%, as it reduced its global presence to focus on “priority markets”, where growth has eased. HSBC also admitted that it may have to pay the American government up to $1.6 billion in damages over the improper sale of mortgage-backed bonds.
An American court found Fabrice Tourre, a former Goldman Sachs trader, liable for fraud in a complex derivatives deal from 2007. The ruling marks a victory for the Securities and Exchange Commission, which filed the case in 2010 in an effort to show it was holding bankers to account following the subprime crisis.
In an effort to overhaul America’s housing-finance system, Barack Obama signalled that he will endorse a bipartisan Senate bill to wind down the two government-sponsored mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bill would also require private investors to take the first loss on mortgage defaults, but preserve the federal government’s role as a backstop.
The White House overturned a ban on the sale of some Apple gadgets imposed by an American trade tribunal, which had sided with Samsung, a South Korean rival, in a patent dispute. Less welcome for Apple was the Justice Department’s request to a judge to curb Apple’s influence in the e-publishing market and introduce government oversight of its iTunes and App stores. Apple called the idea “draconian and punitive”.
Several countries, including China, recalled milk powder produced by Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, after the firm found traces of a bacterium that can cause botulism in one of its products. The New Zealand company’s boss, Theo Spierings, rushed to Beijing to apologise to Chinese consumers.
Royal Dutch Shell took a $2.2 billion write-down in the second quarter, primarily on its American shale assets. This, combined with oil theft and disruptions to gas supplies in Nigeria, which accounts for as much as one-tenth of the Anglo-Dutch oil giant’s daily production, slashed quarterly profits by $1.1 billion compared with a year ago, to $4.6 billion.
In the latest blow to Eike Batista, who lost the title of Brazil’s richest man earlier this year following the implosion of his oil and mining empire, a group of disgruntled investors accused him of insider trading. Brazil’s stockmarket regulator is already pursuing 13 other inquiries into OGX, Mr Batista’s flagship company.
Sony’s board voted unanimously to reject a proposal by Daniel Loeb, an activist investor whose fund, Third Point, holds a stake of around 7% in the Japanese firm, to spin off its lucrative entertainment division and focus on its core electronics business.
The Washington Post Company announced it will sell its flagship newspaper (and a few other titles) to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, for $250m. The New York Times Company, meanwhile, agreed to sell the Boston Globe to John Henry, another billionaire, for $70m, a fraction of the $1.1 billion it paid in 1993.