Japan central bank unexpectedly expands asset purchases to shore up shaky recovery

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Elaine Kurtenbach, The Associated Press Posted Oct 31, 2014 1:57 am MDT Japan central bank unexpectedly expands asset purchases to shore up shaky recovery TOKYO – Japan’s central bank expanded its asset purchases in a surprise move Friday to shore up sagging growth in the world’s No. 3 economy.The Bank of Japan said it would increase its purchases of government bonds and other assets by between 10 trillion yen and 20 trillion yen ($91 billion to $181 billion) to about 80 trillion yen ($725 billion) in total annually.BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said the increase was required to prevent a reversal into a “deflationary mindset” that the country’s leaders contend has stymied growth for many years. Countering such a trend is “the most important thing we can do,” Kuroda said. “Whatever we can do, we will.”The Nikkei 225 stock index jumped 4.8 per cent to close at a seven-year high of 16,413.76 and the dollar rose 2 per cent against the yen after the unexpected decision.Data released Friday, as the BOJ was holding a routine policy meeting, showed Japan’s economic recovery remained in the doldrums in September as household spending fell, inflation edged lower and unemployment ticked up.The central bank’s announcement highlights divergent fortunes among major economies.The U.S. Federal Reserve earlier this week announced it was ending its own extraordinary program of asset purchases, known as quantitative easing, which it instituted after the global recession to help the U.S. economy recover.As that $4 trillion program wound down, Japan’s central bank has come under pressure to increase stimulus to support growth as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe weighs approval of another sales tax hike next year.The central bank’s decision may encourage Abe to push ahead with the politically difficult choice. Surveys show more than 70 per cent of the public are opposed to raising the tax, which is needed to help tame Japan’s swollen government debt.A sales tax hike in April, from 5 per cent to 8 per cent, slowed the recovery that began in late 2012. Abe is due to decide before the end of this year whether to raise the sales tax by another 2 percentage points to 10 per cent. He also is expected to introduce supplementary spending to cushion the impact of the tax hikes.The central bank said the monetary loosening would continue as long as needed to attain an inflation target of 2 per cent.In addition to stepping up asset purchases, it also will triple its purchases of exchange-traded funds and real estate investment trusts, and increase the average maturity of the assets it holds to 10 years from seven years.The bank’s main decisions on expanding the scope of monetary easing passed by a 5-4 majority, indicating differences of opinion among members of the bank’s policy board.The central bank’s announcement caught most analysts by surprise.“We had expected the bank to announce additional stimulus only in 2015,” Marcel Thieliant, an economist with Capital Economics, said in a commentary.Abe and the central bank have sought to spur inflation as a way of encouraging consumers and businesses to spend more and thus support faster growth.After an initial burst of surging stock prices last year, most people say they haven’t benefited directly from that “Abenomics” strategy. Despite some wage increases, incomes have fallen overall as prices have risen. And Abe has made scant progress on reforms intended to open new opportunities and improve competitiveness.Core inflation, excluding volatile food prices, was at 3.0 per cent in September, down from 3.1 per cent in August. When the increased costs from the tax hike are figured in, inflation remains below the target rate of 2 per centUnemployment rose to 3.6 per cent from 3.5 per cent.The government reported that household spending fell 5.6 per cent from a year earlier in September, though it rose 1.5 per cent from August. Household incomes, meanwhile, fell by 6 per cent from a year earlier in real terms.Kuroda cited high uncertainty over wage and spending trends as a factor clouding the economic outlook. read more

Highprofile tax fraud cases could hurt Spanish soccer

High-profile tax fraud cases could hurt Spanish soccer Argentina’s Lionel Messi dominates the ball during a friendly soccer match against Honduras in San Juan, Argentina, Friday, May 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Nicolas Aguilera) by Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press Posted May 30, 2016 4:54 am MDT Last Updated May 30, 2016 at 5:40 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email MADRID – Now that the season is over, Lionel Messi is getting ready to go to court.Messi will appear in front of a judge this week to defend himself from accusations he failed to properly pay taxes for part of his earnings from Barcelona, becoming the latest high-profile player to have to deal with Spain’s tough tax system.Neymar, Javier Mascherano, Adriano and Xabi Alonso also had to deal with Spanish tax authorities recently.The cases have brought unwanted attention to Spanish soccer, and could start scaring some players away just as the Spanish league tries to find ways to become more competitive against the Premier League, whose clubs have the financial power to go after nearly every top player on the market.Neymar’s father last year said the constant harassment over his son’s taxes could lead to the player’s departure from Barcelona.Players have been keeping quiet and don’t speak publicly about tax cases in Spain, but many admit it’s uncomfortable to watch Messi and others face the tribunals because of off-the-field issues. The Spanish league also avoids the subject, saying it can’t interfere in legal matters involving players and tax authorities.Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, have been charged with three counts of tax fraud and could be sentenced to nearly two years in prison if found guilty of defrauding Spain’s tax office of 4.1 million euros ($4.5 million) from 2007-09.The case is centred on the alleged unlawful activities of Messi’s father, but authorities said the Barcelona player knew enough to also be named in the case. They deny any wrongdoing.Messi was also being investigated by Spanish tax authorities after his name was among those released in the probe of international offshore accounts, known as the Panama Papers, although he was not charged for those allegations.Messi’s trial starts Tuesday, and the Argentine player is expected to testify at the Barcelona court on Thursday. He is not obligated to appear in court every day.In nearly all cases involving soccer players, the alleged irregularities are related to the creation of fictitious corporate structures to avoid paying taxes on income from image rights. Some also include the use of tax havens.“The tax agency has always looked into these structures created by football players, as it looks into the activities of people from other sectors as well,” Spain’s tax authority said in a statement. “We must control the use of companies that are aimed at reducing people’s fiscal burden.”Many players have defended themselves by blaming financial advisers who claimed such structures were legal. That was the case with Mascherano, Messi’s teammate with Argentina and Barcelona, who earlier this year was handed a suspended one-year prison sentence for not paying nearly 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) in taxes for 2011 and 2012.He said he hired a “prestigious Spanish tax firm” which recommended “certain structures” that it said were accepted by the law.“I’m a professional athlete,” Mascherano said at the time. “I have no extensive knowledge of tax and legal issues. Therefore, I must lean on professionals who handle these technical issues that are complex for me.”Not long after Macherano’s case, Brazil striker Neymar had to testify before a judge because of alleged irregularities involving his transfer to Barcelona. He and the club were accused of withholding the real amount of the transfer fee, in part to avoid paying the full amount of taxes.“If we don’t have peace of mind in our working environment, we will have to leave Spain,” said Neymar’s father, who was also named in the case.Earlier this year, former Real Madrid midfielder Alonso was accused of defrauding Spain’s tax office of 3 million euros ($3.3 million) from 2009-11. Last month, prosecutors accused Barcelona defender Adriano of failing to declare income from his image rights between 2011 and 2012.Neymar, Alonso and Adriano have denied wrongdoing.___Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni read more