Published: 08 December 2021
Location: London, UK
The share of household wealth owned by billionaires has risen by a record amount during the pandemic, with millionaires also coming out of Covid-19 ahead, The World Inequality Report has found. Produced by a network of social scientists, the report estimated billionaires now collectively own 3.5% of global household wealth, up from slightly above 2% at the start of the pandemic in early 2020. "The COVID crisis has exacerbated inequalities between the very wealthy and the rest of the population," lead author Lucas Chancel said, noting that rich economies used massive fiscal support to mitigate the sharp rises in poverty seen elsewhere. Forbes' annual world's billionaires list this year included a record-breaking 2,755 billionaires with a combined worth of $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion last year. A wider group of 520,000 adults who make up the top 0.01% richest, together saw their share of global wealth hit 11% this year, up from 10% the year before.
The Treasury has warned that high public sector pay settlements could lead to permanently higher prices and interest rates, encourage even higher wage demands, and mean less spending on key public sector services. The official economic submission to pay review bodies for over 2 million public sector workers comes as unions warn that the Government needs to more than match inflation rates, the BBC reports. Today's document argues the current high rates of inflation are a temporary phenomenon that should not form the basis of public sector pay awards which should instead “have regard" to the government and the Bank of England's inflation target of 2%.
The US has overtaken the EU as the leading destination for UK financial services exports, a report by TheCityUK has revealed. It said the US accounted for 34.2% of sector exports in 2020 compared to the 30%, which went to the EU. Financial services exports to the EU were down 6.6% to £24.7bn ($32.7bn) year-on-year, while exports to non-EU countries rose by 4.1% to £57.7bn in the same period, with exports to the US rising by 5.3%.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is to introduce a new duty to consumers to help "stop harm before it happens", Yahoo Finance UK reports. New rules will help tackle harmful practices such as providers of financial services presenting information in a way that exploits consumers’ behavioural biases, selling products or services that are not fit for purpose, or providing poor customer support. The aim is to "drive a fundamental shift in industry mindset" by raising industry standards and helping firms to get products and services right in the first place, rather than providing services that do not work well for consumers. Firms will have to place emphasis on supporting and empowering their clients to make good financial decisions; avoid foreseeable harm throughout the customer relationship; provide customers with information they can understand; offer products and service that are fit for purpose; and provide helpful customer service. The FCA said it will use "assertive supervision" and a new data led approach to intervene quickly when it finds practices which are not working in consumers' best interests.
House prices in the UK grew at the fastest pace in 15 years over the past three months, the Halifax says. House prices rose 3.4% in the three months to the end of November, the sharpest increase since late 2006, and are 8.2% higher than a year earlier. The average UK property price hit a fresh record high of £272,992 in November, the mortgage lender said. However, it said the pace of growth was unlikely to continue next year as household finances come under pressure.
Data compiled by Kantar suggests the average price of a typical Christmas dinner for four will this year be about 89p higher than in 2020, at £27.48.
Lord Tyrie, a former MP and Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee has told the BBC that PCR tests for travel are a "rip-off jungle". "It appears that some of the worst practices: misleading online advertisements; overpricing; unacceptably poor service among them, are still widespread," he said, adding that the for the tests to have been "mismanaged" once by the government was a "misfortune," but for the problem to resurface after the summer was down to the government's "carelessness".
The Government’s caution around the Omicron covid variant is taking its toll on the travel industry, according to holiday giant Tui, which says the pace of holiday bookings is slowing down. New UK travel rules came into effect yesterday, including mandatory pre-departure tests for all people arriving in the UK. 11 African countries have also been put on a re-opened ‘red’ travel list. Tui said although it had 4.1 million bookings for its next winter and summer seasons, with 1.4 million bookings since 3 October, "the increased media coverage of rising incident rates and the emergence of new Omicron variant has weakened this positive momentum, particularly for winter." Despite this, it expects bookings for next summer to be close to pre-pandemic levels. The travel industry warned on Monday that the new rules would be a "hammer blow" and that livelihoods would be "devastated", the BBC says.
British energy supplier Centrica has agreed to sell the Norwegian oil and gas exploration and production business of its 69% owned subsidiary Spirit Energyto Sval Energi, it said in a statement this morning. Spirit Energy's business at Norway's Statfjord field will be sold to subsidiaries of Equinor. The deals will be effective as of January 1 with headline consideration of $1.08 billion (around £800 million) in cash on a debt free, cash free basis, plus a deferred commodity price linked contingent payment.
British American Tobacco saw an influx of 3.6 million customers in the first nine months of the year - more than in the whole of 2020 - thanks to a rise in demand for its vaping, heated tobacco and oral products. Reuters says the company, which owns brands such as Lucky Strike, Pall Mall and Camel, said more people switched to its Vuse vaping and Velo oral nicotine ranges as a healthier alternative to tobacco, bringing its total non-combustible user base to 17.1 million.
The chief executive of Taylor Wimpey is to step down, the housebuilder said yesterday. Pete Redfern, the man who negotiated the creation of the company in a “dingy” cafe on the M40 around 15 years ago will leave the business once a replacement has been found and a full handover has taken place.
American-owned Rivian is reportedly in advanced talks with the governmentabout building a new £1 billion manufacturing plant in Somerset. FactoryNOW says ministers have offered a range of incentives to encourage the electric vehicle firm to site its first European factory in the UK.
British manufacturer Magtec has officially opened a new 65,000 sq ft factory in Rotherham. The electric and hybrid drive systems specialist says it expects to double its turnover and create 50 new jobs next year as it ramps up production to meet escalating demand.
Bitcoin is back up above $50,000.
Wall Street regulators are investigating the $1.25bn deal to bring Florida Man's social media venture to the stock market, Sky News reports. Digital World Acquisition Corp, a so-called "blank cheque" company that has agreed to merge with Florida Man Media & Technology Group (TMTG) revealed details of the probe in a filing on Monday. It said the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority(FINRA) were looking into the deal. The app will launch in the new year, with a beta version coming out in November. Digital World said the SEC asked for documents in early November relating to communications between Digital World and TMTG, meetings of Digital World's board, policies and procedures relating to trading, the identification of banking, telephone, and email addresses and the identities of certain investors. The SEC stated in its request that its investigation does not mean the regulator has concluded that anyone violated the law, Digital World added. Florida Man dismissed the request for documents as a political attack.
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