China mulls transaction tax
A top Chinese financial regulator has suggested the country could introduce a tax on foreign exchange transactions among other steps to guard against speculative capital flows amid further economic liberalization. Yi Gang (易綱), head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), wrote in an article for the Communist Party theoretical journal Qiushi on the question of whether China should “study in depth” the so-called “Tobin Tax” on financial transactions. Yi also called for studying measures including fees on foreign exchange trading and curbing short-term speculative fund flows.
Sirius buyout proposed
US conglomerate Liberty Media said on Friday it wants to buy the shares it does not already own in satellite broadcaster Sirius XM in a stock swap deal worth about US$10 billion. The holding company controlled by tycoon John Malone announced the proposal which would give Sirius public shareholders a 39 percent stake in Liberty Media. “Our proposal will allow Sirius public shareholders to convert from a non-controlling stake in a subsidiary into a direct equity position in Liberty, the parent company,” said Liberty’s president and chief executive, Greg Maffei. The offer at US$3.68 per share represents a 4.5 percent premium for Sirius shareholders. Liberty, which owns stakes in a variety of companies including cable operator Charter Communications and the entertainment operator Live Nation, bought a stake in Sirius in 2009 for US$530 million.
Manhattan sales surge
Manhattan apartment sales surged in the fourth quarter, setting a record for year-end transactions, as the prospect of rising interest rates and prices pushed buyers to make deals before purchases became costlier. Sales of condominiums and co-ops jumped 27 percent from a year earlier to 3,297, the highest fourth-quarter total in 25 years of record-keeping, according to a report today from appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The previous record was set in 2012, when sellers sought to finish deals before an expected jump in capital-gains taxes. Buyers are rushing into Manhattan’s market after a jump in mortgage rates since May, heightening competition for properties at a time when supply is dwindling.
Deflation recorded in Cyprus
Cyprus registered its first negative annual inflation for 49 years last year, official data showed on Friday, as demand nosedived on the recession-hit island. The inflation rate for last month decreased by 2.3 percent compared with a 2.1 percent fall in November and 1.1 percent increase in December 2012, the Cyprus Statistical Service said. It said increases were recorded in the prices of certain fresh vegetables. Cyprus is suffering an unprecedented recession and record unemployment after a signing in March a 10 billion euro (then US$13 billion) rescue deal with a “troika” of international lenders. A delegation from the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank is expected to visit Cyprus later this month to conduct a third assessment of the Mediterranean island’s economy and banking system.