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Retail sales fell unexpectedly in September, having held up well following the UK’s vote to leave the EU. According to figures from the Confederation of British Industry, more companies reported sales that had fallen than risen in September. Thirty per cent of retailers said volumes were up on a year ago, while 38 per cent said they were down, a balance of minus 8. This was below economists’ expectations of +5 and a decline on August’s +9 figure. Recent figures have been well below the long-term average of +20. UK consumers have not let the Brexit referendum in June stop them from spending. Data from the Office for National Statistics found spending in shops and online grew 1.9 per cent in July, before falling slightly in August.
George Osborne has admitted for the first time that low interest rates have helped the rich and hurt savers. In the first apparent criticism of the effects of Bank of England strategy, the former chancellor conceded that Britain had become more unequal as a result of loose monetary policy. The Bank of England lowered interest rates after the 2008 financial crisis and gave the go-ahead to electronic money creation to buy bank bonds, known as quantitative easing. This has hurt savers, who have suffered from the lowered rates and subsequent rise in house prices.
Urgent action is needed to reverse a slowdown in trade and stop low inflation from triggering a downward spiral of weak growth, job cuts and higher debt, the International Monetary Fund has warned. A global lurch towards protectionism and the sluggish recovery had driven a “remarkable” slowdown in trade since 2012, according to analysis by the Fund. The IMF warned that a further move away from trade liberalisation was likely to “hold back international trade in goods”, harm economic development and prolong the global slowdown.
Just three employers have been prosecuted for paying workers below the minimum wage despite HM Revenue and Customs finding 700 who have broken the law in the past two and a half years. Since February 2014, the government has “named and shamed” 700 employers who have underpaid more than 13,000 workers by over £3.5m. But less than a quarter of a percent of them have been prosecuted under laws that in theory provide for prison sentences in the most extreme cases of willful non-compliance.
The London mayor said a team of business representatives were “working on a model that will ensure we can carry on recruiting and attracting talent”. When pressed on the issue of a separate work visa for migrants coming to work in the capital, Mr Khan said: “In principle I want to make sure that my job as the mayor means supporting businesses to grow and expand, encouraging business to come into London. “The three most important words I say when I go around the world is ‘London is open’.” The former Labour MP confirmed he was planning on discussing the notion with Theresa May. Chancellor Philip Hammond, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have all been in discussion with the Mayor of London about trying to secure the best possible deal for London.
Electric car tipping point may challenge pioneers
Electric car prototypes and plans are set to dominate the Paris aut o show as the Volkswagen diesel scandal and falling battery costs persuade executives and investors that plug-in vehicles are ready to go mainstream. The expected flurry of announcements signals a threat to pioneers of the current generation of battery-powered cars, such as Tesla and Renault-Nissan, who will now have to work harder to defend their lead. VW is leading the charge, keen to turn a page after its exposure last year as a U.S. emissions test cheat. The German carmaker will showcase new electric vehicle (EV) architecture underpinning a staggering June pledge to achieve annual sales of 2 million-3 million electric cars by 2025.
Volkswagen Group’s attempts to contain the fallout from the emissions cheating suffered a setback after Audi, the group’s biggest profit generator, lost a key engineer tainted by the scandal.
Development chief Stefan Knirsch left the manufacturer with immediate effect this week after a probe showed he was aware of the manipulation when he took the job less than 10 months ago. A company veteran who started in Audi’s engine design unit in 1990, Knirsch was picked by Audi chief Rupert Stadler to succeed Ulrich Hackenberg, who was pushed out in the first round of management purges after the scandal broke a year ago. Now Stadler himself has come under increased scrutiny as investigators seek to untangle the origins of the scandal.