Directors See High Recession Risk 
A recent survey conducted amongst business leaders has suggested that a third of company directors believe there is a high / very high risk of the UK falling into another recession this year.

The Institute of Directors’ (IoD) survey of 1,000 business leaders also found that fifty-three percent thought there was a moderate risk of recession during the year.

Forty-three percent of those surveyed by the IoD think any recession will be short and mild, whilst ten percent believe it’ll be long and deep. One key area of concern highlighted y the survey was the future of the Euro, with half of the company directors believing there is a high or very high risk of a Euro break-up this year.

Graeme Leach, chief economist at the IoD, said: “The resounding message from the survey is the critical role of confidence at this stage in the economic cycle.

“If the Euro crisis stabilises, confidence could return relatively quickly and companies could dust down business investment and recruitment plans put on hold last year.

“Alternatively, of the euro crisis gets worse, confidence is highly unlikely to return this year."

The survey supports previous findings from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research which predicts a UK recession in the first half of 2012, after the UK economy shrank by 0.2 percent in the last quarter of 2011.

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Liechtenstein Banks Want Tighter Reins on Tax Tourists 
Liechtenstein banks want to make British “tax tourists” looking to use a tax amnesty, pay thirty percent of their overseas assets into a bank account in the principality – and to keep it open for a minimum of two years.

Currently Britons only have to show a meaningful connection to Liechtenstein in order to open a bank account there and take advantage of the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility (LDF); with there being no minimum amount for using the LDF; although some banks do specify their own conditions.

Now the Liechtenstein Bankers’ Association is talking to the Liechtenstein government about tightening the criteria for using the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility which has been used by more than two thousand people since it was set up in 2009.

The banks propose Britons should pay a minimum of 30% of their overseas assets into a Liechtenstein bank account and keep it open for at least two years.

Britons who have a company structure or trust in Liechtenstein will have to pay 20% of their overseas assets and also keep the account open for two years.

Although the details of the proposals haven’t been finalised, Liechtenstein's banks want to stop British investors opening bank accounts in the country, depositing a small proportion of their assets, and closing the account three or four months later after settling their tax liabilities with the UK taxman.

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Financial Transaction Tax Good for Economy 
According to the European Union official in charge of tax policy, the introduction of a financial transaction tax would cause minimal disruption and raise just under £8.5 billion for the government.

Speaking earlier this week, the European Commissioner for taxation and customs union, Algirdas Semeta, told the House of Lords that banks were highly unlikely to relocate anywhere else if the tax was brought in.

Mr. Semeta said: “It is very difficult for me to imagine that a financial institution could move somewhere else and abandon all its clients in the European Union.”

He also added that the European Union's planned implementation of an FTT would "minimise the risk of relocation", though he said he was open to suggestions as to how the risk of activity moving elsewhere could be reduced further.

The European Union expect the financial transaction tax to raise roughly €60 billion across the region every year, of which a fifth would could from the UK; and Mr. Semeta told the House of Lords that all the money raised within the UK would go to the British budgets.

Previously the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the Chancellor, George Osborne have publicly stated their opposition to the tax being introduced within the UK; whilst the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy has already announced that France would be introducing the tax from the middle of the year.

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Consumer Confidence Reaches Five Month High 
Consumer confidence rose in January to its highest level in five months, in a sign that the underlying economic conditions aren’t as weak as first feared.

A leading consumer confidence index rose by nine points to forty-seven in January, the highest it has been since August 2011 – although this figure is still nearly thirty points below the average.

The improvement in consumer morale supports the Bank of England’s view that consumption will help stabilise the economy later this year, as a fall in inflation eases the squeeze on household budgets.

One chief economist said: “Looking forward, renewed hope that the UK will avoid a double-dip recession may support sentiment, especially since the downward trend in inflation is set to continue through 2012.

“With the UK recovery likely to remain weak in the first half of the year, a significant and sustained rise in consumer confidence remains unlikely in the near term."

The increase in consumer confidence is being attributed to improved industry surveys for the manufacturing and service sectors, as well as the recent sharp fall in inflation.

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Report Suggests Inflation Set to Fall Below Two Percent 
It is expected that households will receive a welcome boost later today when the Bank of England signals that inflation will fall below 2percent in the coming months.

Following two years of shrinking incomes, the Bank of England’s latest quarterly Inflation Report is expected to show a sharp drop in the forecast for the benchmark consumer prices index (CPI); providing further cause for hope.

The downward trend has already started, after the Office for National Statistics reported yesterday that inflation fell to a 14 month low in January; with the pace of the decline expected to accelerate.

A sharp fall would help to ease the squeeze on households, which have been hit by a combination of high inflation, rising unemployment, and low wage rises; and economists are expecting such a fall to prevent the UK facing a double-dip recession and hold on to its AAA credit rating.

The resurgence in optimism has been driven by better-than-expected recent surveys and also the markets shrugging off Moody’s rating warning yesterday, to reinforce Britain's "safe haven" status.

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