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Valuing WhatsApp

Posted on by Will Goodbody

It's not clear how Facebook intends to get value from WhatsApp

It’s not clear how Facebook intends to get value from WhatsApp

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

Because it’s free.

The straight answer given to me by a number of young people this morning, when I asked them why they use WhatsApp.

But while their attraction to the messaging service is clear, the question of why Facebook would shell out a mesmerising $19bn for the four year old company remains something of a mystery. A deal which puts its $1bn purchase of Instagram in the ha’penny place.

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Borrowers cut adrift in great mortgage sell-off

Posted on by David Murphy

Should the country prioritise private debt over what the State owes?

Should the country prioritise private debt over what the State owes?

By Business Editor David Murphy

The escalating row about the State’s sale of 13,000 IBRC mortgages is far bigger than it seems at first glance.

Evidence suggests the Government has left these borrowers unfairly exposed. Also, the Minister for Finance’s policy clears the way for other banks to sell mortgages to unregulated companies if they wish.
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More tax dodger news

Posted on by Sean Whelan

The OECD wants to see countries automatically share information on money held in bank accounts

The OECD wants to see countries automatically share information on money held in local bank accounts

By Economics Editor Sean Whelan

Once upon a time tax dodging was relatively easy; you just got your cash to the Isle of Man or Jersey and slipped it into a bank account owned by a nominee holding company.

And there the trail would end.

Over time it has become harder and harder to get away with this old trick, and today the OECD published a plan to make simple tax dodging by off-shoring really difficult to pull off.
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Electric cars only a spark of genius away from acceptance

Posted on by Will Goodbody

Charging an electric vehicle typically takes between 20 minutes and 3 hours

Charging an electric vehicle typically takes between 20 minutes and 3 hours

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

For many years I’ve been fascinated by the concept of electric cars. Full of questions about what they are like to drive, how quiet they are, what it’s like to charge them, is ‘range anxiety’ overblown and do you need to be a bit of tree hugger to want one?

Not so fascinated, I should add, that I was tempted to buy one last year, when I was forced to change my car. While I’m excited by new technology, I wouldn’t consider myself an early adopter when it comes to expensive, important purchases. And despite what manufacturers and backers might say electric vehicles (EVs), and the infrastructure that must accompany them, are in their infancy.

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Banking as a profession?

Posted on by Sean Whelan

If British bankers establish a professional organisation, it is likely that their Irish counterparts will look to follow suit

If British bankers establish a professional organisation, it is likely that their Irish counterparts will look to follow suit

Here is another of my very lazy “blogs”, this one courtesy of a consultation document on the possible development of a bankers professional body in Britain.

The consultation is being carried out by Sir Richard Lambert, former editor of the Financial Times and former boss of the Confederation of British Industry.

He was asked to look at setting up a standards-raising body by the chairmen of Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, Standard Chartered and Nationwide (the British building society).

Given our shared history, our integrated labour market and our small size, it is unsurprising to find that many Irish professional organisations are offshoots of their British counterparts, while some just “reverse engineer” the structures and rules of the British original.
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Irish Nationwide mortgage holders not getting a fair deal

Posted on by David Murphy

family

The McCormack family from Co Wexford are one of the 13,000 mortgage holders whose loan is to be sold

by Business Editor David Murphy

Is the State being unfair on Irish Nationwide mortgage holders?

Here is why that might be the case:

Irish Nationwide was merged with Anglo Irish Bank to become IBRC. Now the Government is liquidating IBRC and the mortgages are being sold. It is possible they will be bought by an investment fund – if not they will be transferred to Nama.

If the buyer is an unregulated fund it does not have to comply with the Central Bank’s code of conduct on mortgage arrears which protects borrowers who are behind on repayments.

An investor who buys the mortgages can volunteer to sign up to the code – but without legislation they cannot be compelled to do so. About half of the 13,250 mortgages are in arrears – so this is a big concern.

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Household debt or Government debt – which is worse?

Posted on by Sean Whelan

Should the country prioritise private debt over what the State owes?

Should the country prioritise private debt over what the State owes?

By Economics Correspondent Sean Whelan

The news that AIB is going to write down the “warehoused” portion of debt in split mortgages from now on is to be welcomed.

It is a belated recognition from a big bank that some mortgages can never be repaid in full, and the bank is better off doing a deal with some customers and returning them to the world of normal spending citizens.

Pragmatic debt relief can help the economy by leaving people with debts they can afford to service, and a bit left over to spend.
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What Facebook can learn from Microsoft’s mid-life crisis

Posted on by Will Goodbody

 

Satya Nadella is predicting a mobile and cloud-first world

Satya Nadella is predicting a mobile and cloud-first world

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

It was something of a curious coincidence that Facebook celebrated its 10th birthday on the same day that Microsoft announced its new CEO. Indian-born Satya Nadella takes over from Steve Ballmer who signalled his intention to step down last year. He was most recently head of the global IT company’s cloud and enterprise division. And although he’s an insider, taking over at a time when many feel Microsoft needs a shake-up led by someone from the outside, he’s also considered a capable successor to Ballmer.

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Happy Data Protection Day. Or is it?

Posted on by Will Goodbody

Two years later, the EU is still debating new data protection laws

Two years later, the EU is still debating new data protection laws

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

Happy Data Protection Day! Yes, today is the 8th Council of Europe Data Protection Day. The anniversary of the opening for signature of the Council of Europe’s 1981 Data Protection Convention, which Ireland signed in 1986. A day for celebration, for sure. Or is it?

Well on some levels, perhaps yes. We are fortunate to have a data protection framework at national and European level to enshrine our privacy rights in law. Fortunate too to have a body, in the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, whose job it is to ensure that those rights are upheld and protected.

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IMF says structural reforms are key for growth

Posted on by Sean Whelan

imf

IMF urges policy makers to reduce debt, but in ways that do not inhibit growth

by Sean Whelan, Economics Correspondent

The IMF has just published a new book by a number of its staffers called “Jobs and Growth : supporting the European Recovery”.

Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, identifies three priorities – a better way of running the Euro Area economy, product and labour market reforms (as usual), and debt reduction – starting in the household and corporate sectors and, later on, reducing the states debt level as well.

That sequencing is important.  And although there is much talk of ideas to get growth moving again after decades of underperformance in Europe, there is no getting away from the need to deal with the fact of high debt levels.

The IMF has identified balance sheet weaknesses – bank, public, corporate and household – as a key factor in holding back growth in the EU.

Although the immediate response of the authorities prevented worst-case scenarios materialising and created space for adjustment, it did not deal with the “unusual combinations of balance sheet issues brought about by the crisis”, the International Monetary Fund stated.

It noted that in many EU states, already high debt ratios in households and corporates worsened as a result of the property crash, and weak or negative income growth.  And public sector debt increased significantly.

Given the slow pace of growth, “there is little hope for either sector to simply grow out of its debt”, it said.

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