Something called TTIP is being discussed in Europe. It’s all about Europe and America. Those in the know are getting pretty vocal about it; so it’s about time we got decoded.
This means nothing to me.
OOOOH, trade. Like with Pokemon cards?
Right now there are lots of problems with the EU/USA trading and doing business. Due to the fact that the US and Europe test products like cosmetics and genetically modified foods in different ways, they aren’t able to trade with each other.
This has been annoying companies on both sides of the Atlantic for a while now, so they’ve designed this new deal to sort it out.
TTIP will cut the red tape by merging current standards for testing. If TTIP is passed, products such as makeup from both the EU and America will be tested the in the same way, seamlessly enabling trade overseas.
TTIP also aims to give businesses the same rights as states. One major part of the proposed TTIP treaty is called the “Investor State Dispute Settlement”. I don’t know how they come up with these kickass names?!
This means companies will be able to sue if the government’s policies cause the company to lose money. This also includes expected future profits.
Example; the Australian government created laws which made all cigarette packaging blank. Business boss Phillip Morris then sued the Ozzies in 2011; his argument was that the blank packaging law had damaged his sales.
Standardized regulation on both sides of the Atlantic is quite a good plan. It means less red tape, which is better for business, which in turn means more jobs.
It’s estimated this could free up £100 billion for the economy, £10 billon of which would be going into the UK economy. That’s around £400 per year for each household.
Now we’re talking.
So, about those figures… they’re estimates. No-one knows how much money TTIP could make, and you’ll get different answers depending on who you ask.
The Guardian reports that a committee of MPs stated that at present it is impossible to work out how much money TTIP would make. They say the government should actually investigate things properly.
Does more money for business mean more jobs really? Or will the rich bosses get richer, extending the gap between rich and poor?
Standardizing regulation is all well and good. But the USA is much laxer when it comes to regulation; so this could lead to a drop in standards. The EU bans cosmetics testing on animals… and the USA doesn’t. Standardize that, if you can.
TTIP isn’t just about the trade of goods; it’s also about the trades of services. And people are majorly worried about public services.
At present around 6% of the NHS budget is spent on hiring private companies to provide services. Agreements like TTIP open up public services to the international market; meaning private companies from other countries get increased access to public sector contracts.
As the New Statesmen reports the Investor State Dispute Settlement (see point 5) would make it virtually impossible to reverse NHS privatisation as companies would be able to sue the UK government if changes to NHS policy risked their profits.
Labour leader contender Andy Burnham has promised the NHS would be kept out of any trade deals. But TTIP could make it harder for the government to back out of any future privatisation deals. A leaked draft deal showed some wording that suggests the NHS will be kept out of TTIP, but people are not convinced.
Most of what we know or think we know about TTIP is guesswork; based on small leaks of information.
The meetings are being kept top-secret. But it has been reported that 90% of people meeting officials to advise on TTIP were from private companies. This has made people wonder if the decisions will be influenced in some way.
HSBC Rebrand = Hide Scandals, Become Credible? The bank may be about to stage a massive disappearing act.
Big bank HSBC is getting rid of 50,000 staff members across the world; 8000 of these from the UK.
Instead of face to face contact, customers can look forward to more online banking and “self-service”. We’re hoping self-service means you can just help yourself to money whenever you like.
HSBC is also reviewing whether they should move their HQ out of the UK. The bank’s UK branches are going to be re-branded under a different name. Ooh, fancy.
HSBC stands for Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. It was founded in Hong Kong in the 1860s. HSBC only moved across to Britain in the 1990s when they took over the UK’s Midland Bank.
Most of HSBC’s money comes from trading in Asia. At present they are losing money in the UK because of the Bank Levy. This taxes big banks on their profits and hit HSBC hard last year. They had to fork out £750 million to the tax office. Ouch.
So… it might make sense for HSBC to go home to Asia. But don’t panic HSBC customers; no decisions have been made yet.
HSBC decoded: If HSBC leave it will be a big blow for the government’s money-man; Chancellor George Osborne. He’s been struggling to keep banks and big businesses happy in the UK. Everyone worried about businesses leaving because of the EU referendum. If they do, it could damage the UK economy and mean fewer jobs and dollar for everyone. HSBC’s decision could be crucial.
HSBC’s UK high street branches are to be “ring fenced”. This means people’s deposits and mortgages are separated from the bits of HSBC that trade on the financial markets. The idea is that by keeping them separate your money is safer. These rules were brought in after the financial crisis.
The HSBC rebrand means UK branches will launch under a different name. For the banking world this is like Coca Cola changing its name to something like Lilt or 7UP. It may be big news but the product being sold is still a fizzy drink. Change the name of a bank… and it’s still a bank.
The press has reported several scandals involving HSBC in the past few years.
The Guardian reported HSBC’s recent fine for money laundering charges. Money laundering takes money gained illegally (e.g. drug money, stolen cash) and makes it look as though it was obtained legally.
HSBC’s Swiss branch was supposedly also found to have helped people avoid paying tax by hiding their income from the tax man.
This doesn’t mean all bankers are crooks, but it definitely wasn’t good press for HSBC. Is the planned HSBC rebrand an opportunity to distance themselves from the bad vibes? Not according to them:
“We will operate with a different brand name… The reason for doing it is actually so that clients are aware whether they are dealing with the ring-fenced bank or the non-ring fenced bank. Obviously if both are called HSBC it’s a bit confusing… It’s more about clients being able to work out which one they are dealing with than it is about anything else.” – HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver, speaking at a HSBC investor update.
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