Today in the pressTuesday 18 March 2014 11.08
RISING COST OF BREAKFAST LEAVES BITTER TASTE - Your breakfast platter looks set to become more expensive. Drought, disease and rising demand have led to prices of eight key breakfast commodities rising on average almost 25% this year, fuelling consumer fears of food inflation, writes the Financial Times. “Everything we have for breakfast is up,” said Abdolreza Abbassian at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation of the increases of coffee, orange juice, wheat, sugar, milk, butter, cocoa and pork. “This has all happened unexpectedly but shows how quickly things can change.” Coffee has soared more than 70% because of unseasonably dry weather in Brazil, while US pigs have been hit by a virus epidemic, leading to a more than 40% rally in Chicago pork prices. Wheat prices have been hit by political uncertainties. After edging higher because of the extreme cold winter in the US, they have been pushed further by the crisis in Ukraine, a key grain producer. Dairy prices have been bolstered by high demand in emerging markets such as China and Russia where rising incomes have driven increased consumption of milk, butter and milk powder for infants.
IRELAND FIGHTS EU PROPOSAL TO PUBLICLY LIST ALL JOB GRANTS PAID TO MULTINATIONALS - Officials from IDA Ireland and the Department of Enterprise are engaged in a last-ditch lobbying campaign against a proposal by the European Commission to maintain a public register of state jobs grants to big employers. Joaquín Almunia, the EU competition commissioner, has proposed the register as part of new European rules, called regional aid guidelines, covering the payment of such grants. Some of the IDA’s big multinational clients, who can receive grants from the State of up to €10,000 per job created, have asked authorities here to try to block the move, writes the Irish Times. They argue that the register will put European countries at a disadvantage when it comes to seeking foreign direct investment in competition with countries from outside the continent. The employers fear a public register of the payments paid to big multinationals would give competitor countries sensitive information. Irish authorities have told the commission the register will help competitor countries set their own grants at more attractive rates to woo investment, because European countries will in effect have to “show their hand”. Ireland is being backed by officials from Germany, France and the UK in opposing the register.
ST PATRICK'S DAY MASSACRE IS A DISTANT MEMORY FOR ISEQ STARS - Though the memory of the St Patrick's Day massacre still lingers - that catastrophic day in 2008 when more than €3.5 billion was wiped off the value of Irish stocks - things are looking up for Ireland's largest public companies. The Irish Independent says that executives at the country's biggest listed corporations are confident that half a decade of weak earnings, gloomy outlooks and shrinking dividends are behind them and that the economic upturn under way is sustainable and sensible. Last week one of our banks turned a profit for the first time since the downturn, its main state-owned rival said it would soon be investor-ready and the largest builders' merchant said recovery had taken hold. Meanwhile, unemployment is falling below the eurozone average, consumer sentiment is hitting a near seven-year high and mortgage arrears are stabilising. "We're probably more confident about the economy than we have been in any time in the last six years, and the last six years have been very tough for us all, for Irish people and for Irish companies," Andrew Langford, chief executive of general insurer FBD, said.
LEESON: 60% OF LOANS LACK SECURITY - Up to 60% of bank loans given out during the boom years do not have the correct documentation to enforce the security on which they were lent, according to Nick Leeson, the former rogue trader says the Irish Examiner. Mr Leeson said Irish banks were in such a rush to lend money that they failed to correctly securitise the loans they were giving out. “Between 40% and 60% of the secured arrears have gaps in them. All of the banks where property was used of security have shortcomings,” he said. Mr Leeson said that in a number of cases where banks were agreeing to restructure debts, what they were actually doing was perfecting their security on properties. Mr Leeson, who now works with GDP Partnership as a business adviser, said the first thing the group does is request a security review. If there are gaps or missing documents, this can often be used for leverage when negotiating with the banks.