What’s a Brexit and what would it mean for the US?

How does speculation over Britain’s potential exit from the EU affect the US?British exit from EU could affect US markets

Brexit is a term that may well be unfamiliar to many Americans, although there could be repercussions down the line, should the UK vote to leave the EU in the June referendum. Britain’s prime minister David Cameron has been trying to renegotiate key agreements with the EU to improve its position within the union. But with US interests closely connected to those of the UK and the outcome of the vote far from certain, it’s worth paying attention to proceedings. Read more…

Is the honeymoon period over for tech companies?

Tech companies forced to face up to responsibilitiesTech companies forced to face up to responsibilities

For a long time, technology companies have basked at the top of the commercial hierarchy. Software giants such as Microsoft who’ve come to prominence as a result of the innovation of their geeky founders, making money as if they were printing it and pushing their tech agenda to number one position on the cool list. The workaday compliance issues, environmental problems and industry regulations that hound other, less glamorous, sectors haven’t wiped the gloss of this one, until now. Read more…

 

Why are ex-pat Americans giving up their passports?

Why are ex-pat Americans giving up their passports?Growing numbers of Americans are renouncing US citizenship

According the US Treasury, increasing numbers of Americans are renouncing their citizenship. One of the main reasons for this seems to be Fatca (the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), a citizen-based taxation system introduced in 2012. The law is aimed at taxing wealthy Americans and requires citizens to file a tax return, no matter where in the world they live. It also means some people are liable to pay US taxes on top of those required by their country of residence. Read more…

Negative interest rates deployed by Bank of Japan

Negative interest ratesBank of Japan introduces negative interest rates to boost economy

In a bid to shake the economy out of its stalemate, the Bank of Japan has introduced negative interest rates. In theory, the 0.1% rate should encourage lending and begin to turn the tide of deflation. In practice, because banks and other lenders will, in effect, be charged for hoarding deposits, they ought to be more inclined to lend to businesses and consumers and, in turn, promote spending and business investment. It’s the latest in a raft of initiatives designed to boost commercial confidence and support Japan’s plans to move inflation towards its 2% target. Read more…

How much tax is enough?

How much tax is enough?Large corporates face stiffer tax penalties as governments crack down on avoidance

Benjamin Franklin’s twin certainties – death and taxes – are becoming things to avoid in the 21st century, at least by large corporations who use every trick in the book to reduce their tax liability. Legal it may be, but consensus is gathering, in Europe at least, to overhaul the international tax system, in the wake of several prominent cases in which multi-national companies are felt to be dodging their tax obligations to member states. Google is in the firing line at the moment. After years of negotiation, the company has finally agreed a £130m deal with British tax authorities to pay some back taxes and bear a greater tax burden in future. But is it enough? Read more…

Not-so-happy new year for global markets

Markets in turmoilMarkets in turmoil as World Economic Forum ends

As 2016 gets underway, global markets are already experiencing turmoil. Markets in Europe and the US endured some of their steepest losses for decades in the first few days of the New Year, sparked by fears over continued problems in the Chinese economy where trading was temporarily suspended to try to stem the haemorrhaging yuan. Many markets seem to be edging dangerously close to ‘bear’ territory – indicating a fall of 20% or more from their most recent peak. Read more…

US economic recovery slows

Economic slowdown New figures show the US economy slowed at the end of 2015

Fresh Commerce Department figures show that the US economy slowed significantly in the final three months of 2015 amid signs of a global economic slowdown. Spending by businesses and customers alike was cut and US exports reduced. The disappointing 0.7% growth rate raises concerns about the resilience of the US economy against the backdrop of global stock market turmoil which, in turn, is fed by fears of continued economic slowdown in China and plummeting oil prices. Read more…

Bitcoin creator remains a mystery

Australian tech entrepreneur in bitcoin allegationAustralian tech entrepreneur in bitcoin allegation

The identity of the famously coy bitcoin developer is still unknown, despite a raid by police on the home of an Australian tech entrepreneur ‘outed’ by US publications Gizmodo and Wired as the cryptocurrency creator in leaked interview transcripts. Officers arrived at the house of Craig Wright in a Sydney suburb for a raid that was said to be unrelated to the bitcoin claims, according to the Australian Federal Police. Those who claim to know Wright doubt the likelihood of his involvement, with some saying they believe Gizmodo and Wired have been the victims of an elaborate hoax. Read more…

Oil prices near a seven-year low

Global oil prices continue to fallGlobal oil prices continue to fall

Crude oil prices have slumped to their lowest levels in seven years, with further losses likely in the coming weeks. On 4 December, the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) agreed to continue its policy of seeking market share rather than supporting prices, which saw US crude oil values falling to less than $40 a barrel. Prices are now at their lowest levels since the close of 2008, when crude-oil futures price fell to around $34. Opec’s organisational disarray has promoted renewed selling and is causing widespread concern in the sector. Read more…

US airports don’t match up to international competition

US airports have a poor showing in Skytrax international indexUS airports have a poor showing in Skytrax international index

US airports are lagging behind other countries in the world rankings, losing out to Asian and European hubs. Singapore’s smart Changi Airport has claimed pole position for the last three years in consultancy group Skytrax’s definitive list, which surveys 13 million passengers. Changi features zen-inspired butterfly, orchid and cactus gardens, while South Korea’s Incheon boasts an ice-skating rink and a golf-driving range. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky is the US’s highest-ranked airport, trailing in at a disappointing 30th position, with only San Francisco and Atlanta joining them in the top 50. Read more…