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    The world's first economics and comedy festival showed me there's little more funny than money, says RACHEL RICKARD STRAUS

    Economics and comedy. Not a conventional pairing.But after spending a weekend at the world’s first (and likely to be only) economics and comedy festival, I can tell you they’re a match made in heaven.Every November the medieval town of Kilkenny in Ireland hosts Kilkenomics – four days of what’s been described as ‘Davos with jokes’.As grey cloud and drizzle envelops the little cobbled streets outside, groups gather in the cosy back rooms of pubs and little theatres to drink Guinness, debate and guffaw over globalisation, neoliberalism, bankers, cryptocurrencies and politics. Debating into the night: Comedians and economics join forces at KilkenomicsThis year ...

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    CITY DIARY: Former Rolls-Royce boss Sir John Rose still facing Serious Fraud Office enquiries

    Questrions: Sir John Rose is still facing Serious Fraud Office enquiriesFormer Rolls-Royce boss Sir John Rose is still facing Serious Fraud Office enquiries after his firm agreed to pay up to £671million to settle bribery and corruption claims. Bulbous-nosed Sir John, 65, remains reasonably insouciant about the matter. Last I heard, he was embarking on an adventurous motorcycle trek with a member of his family across South America.Corporate raider Carl Icahn is being investigated by US prosecutors over claims he tried to change environmental policy while an adviser to President Trump. Bearded Icahn, 81, blamed for destroying airline TWA, is, by ...

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    Banks... great and good? Not any more, says RUTH SUNDERLAND

    Who would be a bank boss? At one time, leading a high street bank would automatically command respect and guarantee a place in the ranks of the great and the good. Now every last one of the leaders of the Big Four is under fire.Stuart Gulliver, who is stepping down in February as chief executive of HSBC, leaves behind him a string of multi-billion pound settlements for wrongdoing including a huge penalty in the US for money-laundering for drug barons.Even as he prepares to clear out his plush office, the bank is facing yet another possible investigation into alleged illicit ...

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    ALEX BRUMMER: London Stock Exchange fosters Israeli tech firms as entrepreneurs target healthcare

    The London Stock Exchange has experienced a mixed week when it comes to floating companies. But it cannot be accused of lacking ambition following the implosion of its merger with Deutsche Boerse.In spite of political and governance controversy, it has re-established its credentials as a hub for Russian natural resource trading with the public offering of hydro-aluminium conglomerate EN+ controlled by oligarch Oleg Deripaska.This is the first Russian initial public offering in London for several years and suggests the economic cold shoulder for Moscow, triggered by actions in Crimea and Ukraine, could be ending.  Last hurrah: LSE boss Xavier Rolet ...

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    BIG SHOT OF THE WEEK: It's exit Mr Nice Guy as Christopher Bailey quits Burberry after 16 remarkable years

    Christopher Bailey is quitting Burberry after almost nine yearsExit Mr Nice Guy. Talk to anyone in fashion and they’ll tell you Christopher Bailey doesn’t have any enemies.You can believe it just by looking at him. Those cherubic cheeks, that tousled blond hair – his cheeky smile alone could turn prospective mothers-in-law to jelly.British designers, such as Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, were a rude and unlovable bunch, but here was someone who always seemed too polite, too well-rounded, almost too, well, decent, for the scorpion-infested world of fashion.Which made this week’s announcement that he would be departing Burberry – ...

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    CITY DIARY: Assange lawyer joins High Court battle between Ineos billionaire and Agent Provocateur founder

    Ineos billionaire Jim Ratcliffe is fighting Agent Provocateur founder Joe CorreIneos billionaire Jim Ratcliffe's entertaining High Court battle with Agent Provocateur founder Joe Corre attracts another colourful cast member. Corre, 49, who's trying to overturn an injunction banning protests against Ineos's fracking operations, has hired human rights barrister Jennifer Robinson, 36, a publicity-prone Aussie who's represented Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. She was also the honey blonde snapped in July canoodlin' with Labour's equally creepy communications director, Seumas Milne.Should the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee raise interest rates today, the only member of the panel who was in the room the last ...

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    ALEX BRUMMER: Successive governments have allowed Royal Bank of Scotland to become an albatross

    With the exception of the initial £45bn bailout of Royal Bank of Scotland in 2008, most political decisions taken by the Government on the future shape of the lender have been wrong.Successive governments have been so scared of being shot down in the Commons for losing taxpayer money or making excessive bonus payments, they allowed RBS to become an albatross.As a result, after nine years of public ownership and a decade of bottom line losses, we, the taxpayers, still own 72 per cent of shares and are being made to hang around while the US Department of Justice (DoJ), now ...

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    BIG SHOT OF THE WEEK: Affable Ofcom boss Sharon White has a hard-earned reputation for briskness and efficiency

    Brains in abundance: Ofcom boss Sharon WhiteA successful civil servant must be bestowed not just with brains but an ability to glide effortlessly from one master to another, with an adeptness for winning friends on each side of the political spectrum.Sharon White possesses such rare gifts in abundance. Her impressive career has taken her right across Whitehall, into Downing Street, over the pond to the Washington embassy, even to the World Bank.But while shadowy Sir Humphrys may squirm and obfuscate, tireless Sharon has a hard-earned reputation for briskness and efficiency.Former Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke describes her as one of ...

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    MAGGIE PAGANO: Horrifying scale of youth unemployment means Europe faces losing another generation

    President Emmanuel Macron will be chuffed that France's unemployment rate has fallenPresident Emmanuel Macron will be chuffed that France s unemployment rate has fallen again, albeit by a fraction, to 9.5 per cent. This leaves an astonishing 2.65m of the French population unemployed but at least the back has been broken.That s the good news, for the French and the eurozone, which is now showing some stirrings of growth.Now for the bad news.The young Sun King who made labour reform such an integral part of his En Marche campaigning will not be so happy to see that the figures ...

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    CITY DIARY: Is Lloyds Don Juan boss taking his cue from George IV?

    Banking: Antonio Horta-OsorioArt gallery The Wallace Collection offers tickets in a fortnight's time to 'George IV: From Rake to Regal', a lecture about the dandyish 19th century monarch who kept a string of mistresses. Can we expect the gallery's wolfish chairman, Antonio Horta-Osorio, among the audience? Like His Majesty, the Lloyds chief possesses both a weakness for sharp tailoring and a keen eye for the lassies.Beefy ex-Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn, now Donald Trump's chief economic adviser, has let it be known around Washington he's 'disgusted' and 'upset' by the president's handling of recent events in Charlottesville. So why ...

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    ALEX BRUMMER: Dulux hoists a white flag but for how long can it hold off the vultures?

    War weary: Dulux maker Akzo Nobel fought off a takeover by Pittsburgh-based PPGDulux maker Akzo Nobel has declared peace in our time after reaching a 'standstill' deal with arch- tormenter Elliott Advisors. There are understandable reasons why Akzo has decided it is time to lie down with the lion.The company's highly regarded chief executive Ton Buchner was driven from office by ill-health brought on by the takeover battle led by Pittsburgh-based PPG and supported by Elliott. Chairman Antony Burgmans has agreed to step down.Elliott has been allowed to vet Akzo's new board choices who include the highly regarded Oxford-educated ...

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    CITY DIARY: Oxford United owner could face a grilling over LearnDirect fiasco

    Learndirect links: Oxford United owner Darryl EalesOxford United football club owner Darryl Eales could find himself in front of the public accounts committee over adult training provider Learndirect, said to be on the brink of collapse. Eales was chief executive of Lloyds Development Capital, which purchased Learndirect from the Government for 36million in 2011. A Financial Times investigation reveals the company spent 84 per cent of its mostly taxpayer-provided income on payments to managers and financiers. City greybeards may recall that the last Oxford United owner to appear on the front page of the Financial Times was disgraced media ...

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    ALEX BRUMMER: Why banks could be making a costly mistake by shutting down local branches

    At the shortly-to-be-closed NatWest branch of Hay-on-Wye a week ago, the queue at the picturesque outlet snaked out the door. Polite counter staff addressed each customer by name. They included a small-business person paying in cash, the senior citizen (who couldn't remember his pin number) checking a balance before making a withdrawal and a women collecting a largish cash sum to pay a tradesman.In future Hay residents, and the incomers during the book festival, will have to make the 15.6-mile journey to Brecon or jam the Post Office branch on the High Street for banking services. Promises our bankers once ...

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    CITY DIARY: JP Morgan chief under pressure to resign from Trump's business council

    Presidential ambitions? JP Morgan's cocksure chief Jamie DimonJP Morgan's cocksure chief Jamie Dimon is under pressure to resign from Donald Trump's business council, after the President was criticised for his reaction to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.'Spineless' was a word commonly bandied around social media yesterday. Might the furore have consequences for Dimon's rumoured presidential ambitions? Ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, a big voice in the Democrat party, scathingly announced that Dimon should feel 'ashamed' for his association with the White House. Chancellor Philip Hammond has recruited Sky News producer Giles Winn to join his team of media advisers. ...

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    DAN HYDE: The age of the stealth fee... where you need only take your eye off the ball for a split second to get ripped off

    You only need to take your eye off the ball for a split second to get ripped off.I've lost count of the number of readers who've written to Money Mail this year after discovering money leaking out of their bank accounts in all sorts of ways.Vodafone's sneaky new 1-a-month fee is a case in point. The mobile giant says its Secure Net stops viruses and phishing scams and helps parents block adult websites and gambling on their children's phones.Great, but that doesn't justify adding it to customers' contracts by stealth. Most people shelling out 40-odd a month for a smartphone ...

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