Blog: SMEs see price rises as biggest Brexit concern – CSO – RTE.ie

Price increases are the biggest Brexit concern for 42% of responding small and medium sized enterprises, a new Central Statistics Office survey reveals.

65% of respondents in the construction sector reported an increase in prices as their biggest Brexit concern for 2021.

Meanwhile, 38% of responding SMEs said a difficulty in transporting goods to and from the UK was their biggest Brexit concern in 2021.

In the Services sector, 38% of respondents said that difficulty in transporting goods to/from the UK is their biggest concern.

This was followed by an increase in prices (36%) and a decline in business from UK customers (26%).

47% of respondents in Industry said that transporting goods to/from the UK is their biggest concern.

Today’s survey also shows that more than 60% of respondents had taken no steps in preparation for Brexit.

Among those that did take action, 13% of respondents sought new suppliers and 8% increased preparedness for new custom procedures and duties.

In all sectors, 5% or less respondents believed that Brexit would have a positive impact on business in 2021.

More than half of respondents in the Wholesale & Retail Trade and the Industry sectors believed that Brexit would have a negative impact on business in 2021.



Today’s CSO survey also showed that in terms of steps taken to mitigate both Covid-19 and Brexit uncertainty, 39% of responding businesses took no steps.

Among those that did, the most common were pausing/cancelling investment (13%), implementing a pay freeze (13%), increasing digitisation (12%) and reducing their work force (11%).

The CSO online survey was sent to a sample of 8,000 businesses and the information was collected in the first quarter of 2021.

The response rate to the survey was 24%.

Blog: Death Row gifting club scam prevalent in Oregon – Cannon Beach Gazette

The pyramid scheme has a new look and the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation is warning consumers to steer clear. Gifting clubs, such as Death Row, are illegal pyramid schemes that are scamming several Oregonians.

The Death Row gifting club, not associated with Death Row Records, was operating in Oregon last year. It advertised on social media and in online forums as a community wealth share group. More than 20 Oregonians lost their initial $1,400 investments.

The Death Row gifting scheme promised financial returns of at least $9,000. The division was alerted to the scheme when an Oregonian reported not receiving anything in return for their $1,400 investment. The investment was not registered with the division and no one was licensed to sell investments in Death Row. Victims invested their money using a cloud-based payment platform and communicated with others about the investment during online forums for the Death Row program.

The division is still investigating the Death Row gift club. Anyone who has information about the scheme or was a victim of it are asked to contact the Division of Financial Regulation Advocacy team at 888-877-4894 (toll-free).

“If someone invites you to join a gifting club, just say no to their high-pressure tactics and stories of high earnings,” said TK Keen, Division of Financial Regulation administrator. “The simple reality is that only a few people profit from these schemes at the expense of everyone else who ultimately lose their investments.”

Gifting club schemes are similar to pyramid schemes because no new money is created. Members of the scheme encourage friends, family, and co-workers to give gifts of cash to higher-ranking members. The only way for a person to recover the initial investment is to bring new members into the scheme.

The division has three tips to spot an illegal gifting scheme:

• Promises of cash, gifts, or electronic payments via mail, email, or social media

• The primary focus is to recruit new investors – no goods or services are being sold

• No written agreements and the promoters boast about high earnings of a few people

Oregonians are encouraged to contact the Division of Financial Regulation’s consumer advocacy team if they spot a gifting scheme or believe they are a victim of one. Advocates can be reached at 888-877-4894 (toll-free), email dfr.financialserviceshelp@oregon.gov, or by visiting dfr.oregon.gov.

Do not become a victim of an illegal gifting scheme. Be skeptical about investment opportunities, avoid giving your personal information to strangers, and remember – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

For more information about investments and protecting yourself from investment fraud, visit the division’s avoid investment fraud page.

Blog: Fruit farming on ‘brink of collapse’ as Brexit causes shortage of pickers – Metro.co.uk

Brexit has caused a ‘massive hole’ in the numbers of people coming to the UK to pick fruit in the summer months, it has been claimed (Picture: Getty/PA)

Farmers have been left ‘on the brink’ after Brexit put a ‘massive hole’ in the numbers of fruit pickers coming to the UK in the summer months, it has been claimed.

Applications for seasonal work at one Kent-based company are down 90% in the last two years and there are fears for the future.

Stephen Taylor, managing director of Winterwood Farms Ltd, said the labour market has got ‘tighter and tighter’ over the last couple of years.

He said the impact of Brexit on the flow of workers to UK farms is only getting worse.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the Government will ‘always back our farmers and growers’ and ensure producers across the UK have the support and workforce that they need.

But Mr Taylor said ‘95% of all fruit and produce picked and packaged in this country is done by eastern Europeans’, adding: ‘From the end of June, people who haven’t got pre-settled status, at least, can’t work.

‘We are not talking about a few tens of thousands, we are talking hundreds of thousands of people less to work in the UK.

‘That’s a massive hole.’

Stephen Taylor is the managing director of Winterwood Farms fruit farm in Maidstone, Kent (Picture: PA)
He said owners are struggling to fill positions for fruit pickers in the summer months (Picture: PA)

Two years ago, Mr Taylor’s company received about 20 applications a day from people wanting to come over to the UK to work picking fruit, but this year it is down to just two a day.

He said: ‘We are right at the brink now.’

Winterwood Farms Ltd runs more than 2,000 hectares of farmland across the UK, France, Poland and South Africa, packaging and marketing fruits to retailers and supermarkets.

They are the largest growers of blueberries in both Europe and Africa.

At their premises near Maidstone in Kent, Mr Taylor says they are busy getting ready for the summer season.

Mr Taylor said the number of seasonal workers applying is down 90% (Picture: PA)

He referenced the UK’s unemployment rate, which stood at 4.8% of over-16s for January to March, but said it varies by region, and issues arose where British workers did not live in reach of farms.

Mr Taylor added: ‘If we want the Brits to do that work they need to be mobile.’

He also criticised the ‘politics’ of the debate on seasonal workers coming from the EU, saying: ‘We are taking back control, as Boris would say, but when we are taking back control, we are actually deliberately throttling our own businesses because we know the thing we haven’t got control of is labour.

‘The solution is for the Government to recognise the fact that these people, they come and they go back home, so they don’t have any recourse to public funds.’

Nick Marston, Chairman of British Summer Fruits, said the soft fruit industry faces decreasing numbers of seasonal workers from the EU and the ‘impossibility of recruiting a significant proportion of our large workforce from UK residents’.

But he added: ‘Despite Brexit and restrictions on the free movement of workers, the industry has generally been able to recruit a large enough workforce for the current soft fruit season.

‘In short, we are confident that strawberries won’t be left in fields unpicked on any significant scale, although we can’t rule out pockets of issues on a few farms.’

Mr Taylor said ‘we are right at the brink now’ (Picture: Bloomberg via Getty Images)

He welcomed the Government’s decision to expand its Seasonal Agricultural Workers visa scheme – which allows people to come to the UK for up to six months to do farm work – from 10,000 visas in 2020 to 30,000 for 2021.

A Defra spokesperson said: ‘Seasonal workers provide vital labour to ensure that local produce gets onto supermarket shelves.

‘We will always back our farmers and growers, and ensure that producers across the UK have the support and workforce that they need.’

They also cited the department’s review into automation, which they said will ‘pave the way for a pioneering and efficient future’ for fruit and vegetable growers.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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Blog: The Latest: Johnson meets with EU leaders amid Brexit spat – WKOW

The Latest on the Group of Seven nations meeting being held in England:

FALMOUTH, England — Hundreds of environmental protesters took to the Cornish seaside Saturday morning in a bid to draw the attention of world leaders and the international media outlets that have descended on southwest England for the G-7 summit.

Some protesters paddled out to sea, while others sunbathed on the beach wearing masks of leaders’ faces.

A crowd of surfers, kayakers and swimmers gathered Saturday on a beach in Falmouth for a mass “paddle out protest” organized by the group Surfers Against Sewage, which is campaigning for more action to protect oceans.

U.S. President Joe Biden and fellow leaders from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies are meeting near the town of St. Ives for talks focusing on the pandemic and climate change.

Earlier, activists from Oxfam assembled on Falmouth beach to protest climate change and put on masks depicting the leaders attending the G-7 summit.

Max Lawson, Oxfam’s head of policy, said activists want the G-7 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the United States – to commit to bigger reductions in carbon emissions and to financing to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

___

CARBIS BAY, England — The White House says President Joe Biden will hold a solo news conference after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The two delegations will have a working session and smaller session as part of their meeting on Wednesday in the Swiss city of Geneva. But the White House says it is still finalizing the format of the meeting.

The White House says a news conference with only Biden is the appropriate format to communicate the topics discussed, areas of agreement and sources of significant concern.

___

FALMOUTH, England — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has held meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of a G-7 summit, as post-Brexit turbulence strains relations between Britain and the EU.

Johnson also met the bloc’s leaders, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, on Saturday at the Carbis Bay resort where G-7 leaders are gathering.

The two sides are locked in an escalating diplomatic feud over Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that has a land border with the bloc. The EU is angry at British delay in implementing new checks on some goods coming into Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K., while Britain says the checks are imposing a big burden on businesses and destabilizing Northern Ireland’s hard-won peace.

The spat has drawn in U.S. President Joe Biden, concerned about the potential threat to Northern Ireland’s peace accord.

The EU is threatening legal action if the U.K. does not fully bring in the checks, which include a ban on chilled meats such as sausages from England, Scotland and Wales going to Northern Ireland from next month.

Britain accuses the bloc of taking a “purist” approach to the rules and urged it to be more flexible in order to avoid what has been dubbed a “sausage war.”

___

FALMOUTH, England — U.S First Lady Jill Biden and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, have written a joint article on the importance of early childhood education after their visit to a primary school on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in England.

The two women met for the first time Friday at a school in Cornwall, southwestern England, where they visited 4 and 5-year-olds and spoke with experts on early childhood development.

In their article, published on the CNN website Saturday, they said the disruption of the pandemic has helped people focus on the things that matter most, and they have a joint belief that the future must include a “fundamental shift in how our countries approach the earliest years of life.”

“If we care about how children perform at school, how they succeed in their careers when they are older, and about their lifelong mental and physical health, then we have to care about how we are nurturing their brains, their experiences and relationships in the early years before school,” they wrote.

They said business leaders, among others, should give more support to the parents and caregivers in their workforces.

“If we want strong economies and strong societies, we need to make sure that those raising and caring for children get the support they need,” they added.

Biden is a longtime English teacher who focuses on education, a passion she shares with Kate, a mother of three young children.

Blog: Should Biden Reappoint Jerome Powell? – The American Prospect

Browse all articles on the Federal Reserve

David Dayen: Introduction


INTRODUCTION

BY DAVID DAYEN

Analysts expect gross domestic product to grow by 10 percent in the second quarter of this year, with the economy filling the entire chasm created in the pandemic by the end of June. For 2021, the expectation is for the fastest economic growth since the 1980s. Though jobs may not come all the way back until next year, the relatively rapid recovery is a remarkable achievement for the U.S., due in no small part to strong fiscal policy that carried on well beyond the initial response. But we also must credit the Federal Reserve for doggedly sticking to a zero-interest-rate strategy, and holding firm to that commitment to make the job market as favorable as possible for workers.

The architect of that strategy is Jerome Powell, the former private equity executive who has spent nearly a decade on the Federal Reserve Board and was appointed chair by Donald Trump in 2018. Powell’s dovish monetary policy has given the economy space to recover for everyone, including the marginalized groups the central bank often leaves behind by tightening too soon. It has led many progressives to enthusiastically endorse Powell’s reappointment by President Biden when his term expires in January.

But Powell is also the architect of the most persistent bank deregulation of the post–financial crisis era (or at least, the head of the organization that led the way on that deregulation). Wall Street has grown more dangerous on his watch, for a multitude of reasons. The unavoidable climate crisis also poses significant hazards to the financial system, and Powell has been reluctant at best to take steps that other central banks globally have taken to guard against this. The Fed also hesitated to use its prodigious resources and legal authority last year to help cash-strapped states and smaller businesses, instead devoting its efforts to supplying cheap credit to the biggest firms.

This has led progressives in nearly equal measure to counsel Biden to depose Powell, and pick a similarly dovish Fed chair who would be better on financial supervisory and climate issues. A decision could come by the end of the summer, and given the dim hopes of legislative action and Biden’s reticence to aggressively use executive authority, it could be the key policymaking variable of the president’s first term.

The situation has produced an unusual thing in politics lately: a genuine debate. The Prospect is proud to host it. Economist Dean Baker makes the full case for Powell as someone with the experience and credibility to keep America’s experiment with full employment going. Max Moran, Baker’s colleague at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, cites Powell’s financial regulatory record as a mark against him. And Tracey Lewis of 350.org highlights the Fed’s ability to protect the financial system from climate-fueled disaster, and how Powell has been reluctant to use that power.

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We hope this series can help inform this critical decision for the administration.


BY DEAN BAKER

It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of the Federal Reserve Board. While it cannot always boost the economy as much as it would like when the country falls into a recession, the Fed’s ability to raise interest rates gives it the power to impede economic growth and to keep millions of people from getting jobs.

It has repeatedly used this power in the last half-century, slowing growth and in some cases bringing on recessions. In each case, it has justified its decision to slow the economy through concerns about inflation. The argument has been that inflation risks getting out of control if the Fed allows the labor market to get too tight.

The story was that if too many people have jobs, then workers will have more bargaining power, and be able to get larger pay increases. These higher pay increases would get passed on in higher prices, which would lead workers to demand still higher wages, and we suddenly have a wage-price spiral like in the 1970s.

As Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell has broken sharply with this fixation on inflation. He has listened to the complaints that progressive Fed critics have been making for decades.

We have said that inflation is not always just around the corner. And when the Fed raises rates, it disproportionately hits those who are most disadvantaged in the labor market: Blacks, Hispanics, the disabled, workers with less education, and people with criminal records. We argued that the Fed needs to take seriously its legal commitment to full employment, not just its commitment to price stability.

Continue reading “Reappoint Powell as Fed Chair”


BY MAX MORAN

The Federal Reserve chair is the single most powerful person in our financial regulatory regime. The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act gave the Fed a central role in pursuing the elusive but essential goal of ensuring that the financial system actually serves the needs of ordinary Americans. The Fed sets rules and scrutinizes lenders to ensure the system is well managed, stable, and focused on financial intermediation, not speculation.

That is indispensable to any discussion of American political economy. As Americans for Financial Reform has written, the easy monetary policy that all of today’s writers strongly support inevitably leads to asset bubbles, if not paired with aggressive supervision and regulation. We’re currently living through a financial speculation heyday, as the Prospect’s David Dayen has covered at length. When big bubbles pop, history shows, poorer communities and communities of color suffer the most. Black wealth, which already unconscionably trailed white wealth, has never fully recovered from the 2008 crash. To put it another way, loose monetary policy grows the economic pie tremendously, but strict regulatory policy is how the pie gets sliced equitably.

This means that, to assess a Fed chair, we have to consider how they’ve handled all of their responsibilities. Just as a president shouldn’t only be judged on whether or not they started a war, Fed chairs shouldn’t only be judged on whether they raised or lowered interest rates. That’s their most salient power, but they have other, more complex ways of affecting our lives. Financial regulation is one of the most important of these, and it’s one on which current Fed chairman Jerome Powell has failed badly.

Continue reading “Jerome Powell Went Easy on Wall Street”


BY TRACEY LEWIS

Since spring 2020, we’ve awakened each day to a frightening new normal—a raging pandemic, deadly hurricanes, hellish wildfires, nightmarish regional deep freezes. Our new reality-based president reminds us that the climate crisis is an “existential threat to the planet.”

With the sweep of his pen, President Biden has introduced a flurry of climate-related executive orders, including one signed last month that requires financial regulators, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), to assess climate change risks to our federal financial system.

The Biden administration’s bold steps cleared a path for the Federal Reserve to take a leadership role among other global central banks, and during the Green Swan Conference put on by global central banks and financial regulators last Friday, it seemed that Fed Chair Jerome Powell was prepared to take that lead. “There is no doubt that climate change poses profound challenges for the global economy and certainly the financial system,” said Powell in his virtual remarks.

Yet Powell continues to resist the push from progressive organizations like Public Citizen and legislators like Reps. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) to increase the financial system’s resilience to climate risks.

Indeed, at the conference, Powell demurred in acknowledging that the U.S. central bank is already empowered to address climate risks, and does not have to wait for elected officials to grant permission. “We are not, and we do not seek to be, climate policymakers as such,” Powell said, making it clear he rejects the argument that the Fed can take the lead in addressing climate risks in our financial system.

However, as noted expert on the climate crisis and financial regulation David Arkush of Public Citizen reminds us, “[a]ddressing climate risk is … a critically urgent task for financial regulators and one for which they have both the legal authority and the tools necessary to act.”

Continue reading “Reimagining the Federal Reserve”

Blog: G7 at breaking point as post-Brexit trade war leaves relations in ‘very serious situation’ – Daily Express

Concerns are growing over a “big confrontation” between Britain and European Union leaders at the G7 summit which could lead relations into a “very serious situation”. Speaking to LBC, Brexit expert and Die Weld (German newspaper) reporter Stefanie Bolzen said that severe disagreements over post-Brexit trade could trigger “relatialiation” actions between Britain and the EU. Tensions have reached boiling point in recent days following an ongoing row over the export of chilled meats to Northern Ireland as part of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The row has been heightened as time runs out on a grace period agreed to end on 30th June at which point onerous checks on chilled meats travelling into Northern Ireland will be prohibited.

Ms Bolzen told LBC: “I am pretty sure Angela Merkel would never say we are talking about a trade war.

“I don’t know about the French president but she would never use this kind of language and she would not go down this road.

“But it is in the Trade and Corporation Agreement… this is actually why Brussels was keen for the European Parliament to ratify it.

“Now they have the toolbox to retaliate if the Brits and vice versa, the European Union, don’t stick to the TCA, they can also retaliate.”

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She warned: “It is a very serious situation because time is running out.”

Ms Bolzen went on to explain: “I attended the briefing yesterday [with] the spokesman of the British Prime Minister.

“It sounded pretty confrontational, that they will not move.

“We have two weeks left and then there might be a post-brexit big confrontation about Northern Ireland.”

READ MORE Keep your word to Europeans! Macron warns Boris and demands ‘le reset’ of French relations

Her comments come as French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Mekel, Italy’s Mario Draghi and the EU’s institutional leaders, including EU Council President Charles Michel, met for talks on Friday afternoon in a bid to present a united front ahead of their individual talks with Mr Johnson about Brexit trade and Northern Ireland.

It is understood EU leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall told the Prime Minister they were ready to start a trade war with the UK over the fallout from Brexit – however No10 officials have downplayed the warnings.

A Downing Street spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “The Prime Minister expressed confidence in the UK’s position in the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“He made clear his desire for pragmatism and compromise on all sides but underlined that protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions was paramount.”

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Downing Street has stressed the UK would be prepared to delay the full implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol to prevent the so called ‘sausage war’, a ban on chilled meats crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain.

The ban would come in on the 1st July as the agreed grace period for goods crossing over the Irish Sea comes to an end on 30th June – after this date, chilled meats would be subject to onerous checks.

As part of the UK and EU’s Brexit trade deal, the Northern Ireland Protocol means European checks and trade rules apply to goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain.

Northern Ireland also remains part of the EU’s single market under the Protocol, which avoided the creation of a land border in Ireland.

Blog: UK told EU it wants Brexit solution within framework of N.Irish deal – Reuters UK

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday that he was committed to finding practical Brexit solutions within the framework of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“The prime minister made it clear that the UK is committed to finding practical solutions within the framework of the Protocol,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

Johnson underscored to German Chancellor Angela Merkel the “need to maintain both the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the UK,” the spokesperson said.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Blog: Time to boycott! Furious Gibraltarian slams petulant Spanish over bitter border plot – Daily Express

Queues to cross the British overseas territory’s frontier took more than 90 minutes on Friday. And a live estimate of the crossing by the Royal Gibraltar Police warned motorists should expect it to take 55 minutes to cross this morning.

All this has enraged many people who live and work on The Rock and frequently cross into mainland Spain or vice versa.

Tarik El-Yabani shared the views of many Brits when he claimed Spain was causing the delays for political reasons.

The former Royal Gibraltar Regiment soldier shared an image of the queues and raged: “The #Gibraltar-Spain border at 10:35 AM, Friday 11th June.

“The Spanish government continues to use the border as a pressure point, causing delays of over an hour to cross on a bank holiday weekend.

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“Time to boycott Spain again me thinks. #StayLocalSpendLocal.”

His tweet came as the Royal Gibraltar Police warned of “long queues at the frontier” on Friday.

The news emerged amid rising tensions between the UK and Spanish governments over the territory – which is fiercely British.

Spain ceded the Rock to the British in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1715.

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However, it still claims sovereignty and says that the treaty in invalid.

The UK has long disputed this and said as long as the Rock’s inhabitants want to remain part of the country’s overseas territories they can.

Brexit reignited this ongoing stalemate and the Spanish were accused of exploiting the Withdrawal Agreement to try and recapture it.

Spain has always denied this, but political commentators have said it is a common theme for Spanish governments to periodically inflame tensions when it suits them.

The country’s far-right Vox party provoked outrage when they called on the Spanish government to “liberate” Gibraltar by invading it.

Its Secretary General Javier Ortega Smith said: “For those of us who defend national sovereignty, territorial unity and the free development of Campo de Gibraltar, it is unacceptable to continue yielding to blackmail and the invasion of Gibraltar.

“We must tell them very clearly that this is over, that we are not going to allow it anymore, and that we are going to permanently vindicate our sovereignty and control of our waters.”

In 2020, reports revealed how Spain tried to lobby US Congressmen into supporting a plan to strip Britain of sole sovereignty over Gibraltar.

The Daily Telegraph spoke to seven former members of the House of Representatives who said the Spanish Embassy in Washington DC pushed back after they signed a resolution backing Gibraltar’s British status or visited the territory.

Some congressmen said while diplomats should be allowed to argue their case the attitude of Spanish officials was perceived at times as “belligerent”, “forceful”, “aggressive” and “over the line”.