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Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is braced for fines of between 400 million pounds and 500 million pounds ($803 million) for its role in the Libor-rigging scandal, Reuters reported. The partly state-owned bank is expected to agree a settlement with authorities in Britain and the US next week and will be hit with a worse punishment than rival Barclays, which was fined $450 million last June. However, Reuters sources stressed the final number had not yet been decided by all of the regulators involved. Although Britain's financial regulator has completed its investigations, probes by US authorities are continuing, they said.
BoE guv slams Goldman for delayed bonus
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said on Tuesday it was "depressing" that banks like Goldman Sachs were planning to delay paying bonuses this year until after a drop in income tax rates. Goldman Sachs is considering such a delay in Britain until after April 6, when the top rate of income tax falls to 45% from 50%. "I find it a bit depressing that people who earn so much seem to think that it's even more exciting to adjust the timing of it to get the benefit of the lower tax rate," King told a panel of UK MPs when asked about Goldman's plan. He said while this was not unlawful, the delay was being done at a time when the rest of society was suffering most from the consequences of the financial crisis. Britain had to shore up and nationalise banks during the 2007-09 financial crisis, sparking public anger over bonuses when the government is freezing public pay and cutting expenditure.
Japan cabinet approves 13.1 trn yen extra budget
Japan's cabinet approved on Tuesday a 13.1 trillion yen ($146.8 billion) extra budget, which includes 10.3 trillion yen in economic stimulus spending announced last week, as the government tries to boost a flagging economy. The extra budget, which also contains 2.6 trillion yen to offset a shortfall in the pensions system, takes government spending for the fiscal year ending in March to 100.5 trillion yen, a statement from the finance minister showed. Compared with previous fiscal years when the government has compiled extra budgets, government spending reached the third-highest on record, a finance minister official told reporters at a briefing. The government will sell an additional 5.2 trillion yen in government bonds, which would raise bond issuance in fiscal 2012/2013 to 49.5 trillion yen, according to the statement.
Germany's economy contracts in 4Q
Germany's economy grew by a modest 0.7% in 2012 — but shrank in the fourth quarter, government figures showed Tuesday. For 2012, the country's economy still grew faster than the rest of the 17 European Union countries that use the euro, which has been hit by a debt crisis. But the numbers were down on the previous year, when Germany's economy grew 3%. No fourth-quarter figure was given for gross domestic product, but the full-year total underscored what economists have been suspecting for some time — that the country turned in negative growth in the fourth quarter. Growth was 0.8% in the first quarter, 0.3% in the second and 0.2% in the third. Analyst Carsten Brzeski at ING said the numbers showed that the German economy shrank around 0.3-0.4% in the fourth quarter. The government said that shrinkage could have been around 0.5%, once calendar effects for different numbers of working days were eliminated.
Wal-Mart pledges to hire 100,000-plus veterans
Wal-Mart Stores Inc is making a pledge to hire every military veteran who wants a job. The plan was set to be announced Tuesday at the annual retail industry convention by Bill Simon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart's namesake US business. Wal-Mart projects it will hire more than 100,000 veterans in the next five years. Honorably discharged veterans will have a "place to go,'" Simon said, according to prepared text supplied by the discounter.
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