The mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool city region have called on the transport secretary to terminate the Northern rail franchise after a year of sustained misery for passengers.
Speaking on behalf of the 4.3 million people they represent, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram made the demand 12 months on from last May’s timetable chaos, writes the Guardian’s Helen Pidd.
They complain of a litany of failures, with nearly a fifth of all services arriving late following years of underinvestment.
In a separate (but perhaps emblematic) move, the Department for Transport yesterday announced a plan to use the infamous Pacer trains currently in service as, er, village halls.
Read more here:
European stock markets are all still very much in the red just after the middle of the trading day in London.
The FTSE 100 is down by 1.4%, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 has lost 1%.
Regulator bans former broker involved in Libor rigging scandal
The City regulator has banned a former trader who was cleared of rigging the Libor interest rate, saying he acted dishonestly and lacked integrity.
Terry Farr arranged nine “wash trades” with no commercial purpose in a bid to gain brokerage payments between 19 September 2008 and 25 August 2009, the Financial Conduct Authority found.
Farr was a broker on the Japanese yen desk at Martins, a relatively small brokerage which arranged transactions of currencies and derivatives between financial institutions. He was acquitted of participating in fixing Libor (the London Interbank Offered Rate) in January 2016.
The wash trades meant that Martins received unwarranted brokerage of £258,151, the FCA said, increasing his bonus pool.
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said:
There was no legitimate reason for Mr Farr to make these trades and his actions were motivated by greed. His actions mean he has no place in financial services.
Today’s ban reflects our commitment to making sure that people working in financial services act with integrity.
Summary: Investors take fright as European Central Bank adds warning on trade
Stock markets across Europe have fallen on Wednesday morning amid concerns over global growth. Economists are eyeing the trade dispute between the US and China as the most prominent threat to the long-running expansion.
The European Central Bank warned that the trade war could harm the global economy, and that a slowdown could be the trigger to a bout of financial instability.
ECB vice-president Luis De Guindos this morning told reporters that “a trade war is the main risk to the economy globally.”
The ECB report said:
Weaker than expected growth and a possible escalation of trade tensions could trigger further falls in asset prices.
The dispute over tariffs and trade between the US and China, sparked by US President Donald Trump, has unsettled investors through fears of higher import taxes that could slow trade and growth.
In other news:
Here is some interesting news in the battle for the Conservative party leadership – and hence to be the UK’s next prime minister: Boris Johnson will have to appear in court to face allegations of misconduct.
The summons to court follows a crowdfunded move to launch a private prosecution of the MP, who is currently the frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest, writes the Guardian’s Ben Quinn.
Johnson lied and engaged in criminal conduct when he repeatedly claimed during the 2016 EU referendum that the UK sent £350m a week to Brussels, lawyers for Marcus Ball, a 29-year-old businessman who has launched the prosecution bid, told a court last week.
Read more here:
The risk-off attitude among investors is making its mark on oil markets as well.
Futures for Brent crude, the North Sea benchmark, are down by 2% today to below $69 per barrel. It earlier hit lows of $68.44.
Futures for the US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, fell by 2.2% to $57.83 per barrel.
Prices have rallied steadily from around $50 per barrel at Christmas to almost $75 in April, but have retreated in the face of concerns over demand as investors await the inevitable slowdown in global growth.
Back in the markets, the FTSE 100 has now lost more than 100 points for the day, or 1.5%. It’s a fairly broad-based sell-off across sectors, with Ocado now the biggest faller, down 5.4% so far.
Every major European index has lost well over 1% so far. France’s Cac 40 is down by 1.8%, Germany’s Dax is down by 1.4%, and Italy’s FTSE MIB has lost 1.5%.
On currency markets, sterling has dipped by 0.14% against the US dollar and 0.1% against the euro. The US dollar index, based on a trade-weighted basket of currencies, is up by 0.1% overall.
There is also an interesting chapter on the climate crisis in the European Central Bank’s financial stability review.
Central banks have become increasingly vocal on the dangers posed by global heating – albeit couched in language about exposures to financial risks.
The report said:
While significant macroeconomic impacts from climate change may occur in the more distant future, some impacts are already beginning to be felt.
There are “key gaps” in data on the financial sector’s exposure to climate risks, the ECB warned. However, what data there is appears to show an increasing toll from the climate crisis in recent years.
Risks to the eurozone from a no-deal Brexit – still a possibility after 31 October – are “manageable”, but there is the small possibility that disruption could coincide with another global shock with damaging consequences, the ECB says.
The financial stability review says:
There remain tail macro-financial risks whereby a no-deal Brexit interacts with other global shocks, in an environment where risks to the euro area growth outlook are tilted to the downside.
If such a scenario occurs, the impact would likely be concentrated on particular countries, such as those with significant ties to the UK.
Such a shock could dent eurozone GDP growth, along with an “even more significant macroeconomic shock in the UK”.
Downside risks to the growth outlook “appear prominent”, the ECB warns, and Italy is particularly in the crosshairs.
“Country-specific debt sustainability concerns” are a problem, the central bank warns. In case you don’t know which country, they provide a handy chart with a large “IT” in the corner: