News list: The week ahead

Economist, financial journalist and author Professor John Kay is in the hot-seat at the Banking Standards Parliamentary commission on Monday, hot on the heels of FSA chief Martin Wheatley’s appearance and his warning that banks shouldn’t assume they’re safe ‘just because the regulator isn’t knocking on the door’. Although an important figure in the financial establishment, Kay is also a vocal advocate for far-reaching banking reforms, and his evidence is sure to shine some light into the darker corners of the industry.

While the UK tries to put its own house in order, across the Channel ministers and business leaders hold an emergency neighbourhood watch meeting. French President Francois Hollande and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria are getting out the tea and biscuits for the likes of Christine Lagarde (IMF) Jim Yong-kim (World Bank) and Pascal Lamy (WTO) to discuss the spiralling eurozone debt crisis and a way to prevent more costly bailouts.

One country that will be paying particular attention to their meeting is Portugal, whose lawmakers start debating the country’s 2013 budget on Tuesday. Their government is cracking the whip of austerity, attempting to meet the strict conditions of its 78 billion euro bailout fund, amid regular protests and the threat of a general strike in mid-November. A lot rides on this budget debate, scheduled to run until Wednesday.

Moving away from finance (for a moment), Tuesday sees the launch of Everything Everywhere’s exclusive 4G services at an event in Battersea Power Station. EE is to be the only company offering the fourth generation mobile technology which will become available in 10 UK cities, with 16 more to follow before the end of the year.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin faces a grilling from MPs on Wednesday, when he appears before the Transport Select Committee alongside top civil servant Philip Rutnam to try and explain the West Coast Main Line debacle. The pair face the gruelling task of detailing quite why it took legal action by Virgin to get the government to acknowledge major flaws in the rail franchising system.

The Supreme Court is also expected to issue a judgment on Wednesday in the complicated case of Yunus Rahmatullah who was seized in 2004 by British forces in Iraq, before being handed over to the United States for detention in the notorious Bagram detention facility, Afghanistan. In an attempt to secure his release, legal charity Reprieve lodged a successful habeas corpus application, which affirmed that Rahmatullah remains the responsibility of the UK under international law. In a further twist, however, that judgment was then overturned by the Court of Appeal and Rahmatullah’s lawyers can expect to hear on Wednesday whether an appeal of that decision at the highest court in the land has been upheld.

Back to banking, Thursday sees Sir David Walker formally take up his role as chairman of Barclays. Walker is reportedly keen to replace a number non-executives and executives at the bank as it attempts to the repair reputational damage caused by the Libor rate-fixing scandal. On the same day, EU rules on short-selling are set to take effect. The rules, which will require investors disclose their short positions and settle short trades within a reduced time frame, have been criticised by some who argue they could have unintended negative effects on market liquidity.

Earnings season continues Thursday with ExxonMobil, the largest US oil group by market capitalisation, releasing its third quarter earnings.  Results are also due from commodities trader Glencore, broadcaster BSkyB and supermarket Morrisons.

Finally on Thursday, fox hunting season officially kicks off, bringing some comfort to gun-users disappointed by the recent badger cull delay.

Friday sees a hearing in the case of Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, the man accused of possessing the same gun which was discovered at the shooting of Mark Duggan by police in August last year, a shooting widely regarded as sparking riots which spread across the UK. Following the jury’s failure to reach a verdict in the original trial, Friday’s hearing will discuss the possibility of a re-trial.

Two weeks after the collapse of the sale of 316 of its branches to Santander, unwanted-taxpayer-burden Royal Bank of Scotland is due to release its latest interim management statement on Friday. The group’s shares slumped as news of the collapse emerged, so an improvement on the £2bn pre-tax profits posted at the same point last year is unlikely.

The ‘Royals on Tour’ t-shirts are being dusted down again for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s antipodean trip, which kicks off with their arrival in Papua New Guinea on Saturday. The three country tour, which is the 438th by a Royal this year, includes stops in Australia and New Zealand, where Prince Charles will celebrate his 64th birthday with 64 lucky locals before popping in to Premier House to dispense some friendly advice.

G20 finance ministers and central bank governors gather in Mexico City on Sunday with European economic sluggishness now apparently spreading eastwards. A framework for dealing with so-called ‘domestic systemically important banks’ – those sub-behemoth institutions whose failure would still likely have a dire effect on a national economy – is expected to be agreed at this weekend’s meeting.




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