Europe Prepares To Come Clean On Hidden Bank Losses

Innovate off the beaten track, says Europe’s tourism sector

encouraged global market sentiment. European equities closed higher on Tuesday, as expectations of an imminent debt deal in the U.S. encouraged global market sentiment. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index closed provisionally higher by 0.9 percent on Tuesday. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 closed higher by 0.7 percent, the French CAC 40 closed higher by 0.8 percent and the German DAX closed up 1 percent. House Speaker John Boehner said the Republicans were still involved with talks with House Democrats, but no deal has emerged so far on Tuesday. Earlier, House Republican leaders proposed a plan that would fund the government past year-end and allow the Treasury Department to borrow normally until February 7. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized the proposal , saying it would not pass through Senate. The debate came with the partial government shutdown now in its third week, and less than two days before the Treasury says it will be unable to continue borrowing. IBEX 35 — Back in Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative alliance said it was likely to hold a third round of talks with the Social Democratic Party later this week, with regards to forming a coalition government . Meanwhile, German economic sentiment rose more than expected in October, on signs the euro zone crisis may be waning, a survey by the ZEW economic think tank showed. Its poll rose to 52.8 in October from 49.6 in September, the highest level since April 2010. “Today’s ZEW index gives the impression that analysts believe in the invulnerability of the German economy…The new dark clouds coming from the other side of the Atlantic have not yet blacked out analysts’ optimism,” said Carsten Brzeski, senior economist at ING. In the U.K., inflation remained at 2.7 percent in September, according to the Office for National Statistics, going against economists’ forecasts which had indicated a slight tick down to 2.6 percent. In stock news, Burberry Group was the sharpest faller on the FTSE, after it announced that Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey would replace long-standing Chief Executive Angela Ahrendts, who is heading to Apple .

Lucerne (Switzerland) (AFP) – Europe needs to think different if it wants to remain top of the world’s tourism tree, with innovations such as pitching pure Alpine air to the Chinese or teaching Americans petanque, industry experts say. According to the World Tourism Organization, Europe still earned the lion’s share of global tourism revenues in 2012 — a full 43 percent, or $457 billion (356 billion euros). But success should leave no room for complacency, professionals from the sector said last week during a congress in the picturesque Swiss city of Lucerne, the Alpine country’s top tourist destination. While the tourist business argues that it is also up to the authorities to make it easier for would-be visitors to get visas — a lack of bureaucratic headaches can be a selling point for a market — it is also planning a rethink. Marketing campaigns devised from Europe have fallen short when it came to taking into account the real expectations of tourists before they leave home. “It should be done the other way around,” said Eduardo Santander, head of the European Tourism Commission. The ETC, tasked with promoting the continent’s charms, has opted to poll potential tourists in their home countries. In particular it is focussing on China, the world’s top emerging market where the ranks of the middle class are swelling. Men play petanque, also known as boules, in Givors, France, on June 5, 2013 (AFP Photo/Philippe Merl “When the Chinese tourists come to Europe, they don’t just want to visit the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum. They also want to see a beautiful blue sky” Santander explained. ETC research in China underlined that residents of its megacities face a constant battle with pollution — a simple fact that enables Europe’s tourism industry to add pure-aired Alpine stops to group travel itineraries. The study also said that Chinese travellers place great store in feeling at ease and safe, with language barriers a leading concern. “The Chinese are looking for very safe destinations because many of them don’t speak a European language. They want to see more adaptation. It means that hotels or restaurants should provide them more brochures or menus translated into Chinese,” Santander said.

“We have to find a solution now,” said Michel Barnier, the EU Commissioner in charge of financial regulation, urging faster progress in the slow talks. “The next financial crisis is not going to wait for us.” ANGLO-GERMAN AXIS? In one sign of the divisions, Britain has repeatedly refused to sign off on the first pillar of the banking union framework, allowing the ECB monitor banks. Having earlier agreed, London now wants additional assurances from ministers this week that Britain, which is outside the euro and polices its own banks, will not face interference from the ECB-led euro bloc. Britain is likely to find a sympathetic ear in Berlin, which wants to keep London on side in its push to prevent stricter EU emissions rules to protect its luxury car makers. Before the ECB takes over as supervisor late next year, it will conduct health checks of the roughly 130 banks under its watch. This is the nub of the problem facing finance ministers at the two-day talks. With the euro zone barely out of recession, a failure to put aside money to deal with the problems revealed could rattle fragile investor confidence and compound borrowing difficulties for companies, potentially killing off the meek recovery. In turn, that raises the question about who pays for the holes that are found in balance sheets in countries such as Spain and Italy. While Rome and Madrid would like easy access to the euro zone’s permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, Germany, Finland and other strong countries say each country should pay for its own clean-ups. This time around, the task of cleaning up banks should not be quite as daunting as five years ago because shareholders, bondholders and wealthy depositors can expect to take some of the losses, as happened in the bailout of Cyprus in March.

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