Draghi’s Riddle of Missing Inflation Makes Case for ECB Patience

When Mario Draghi is asked on Monday why the European Central Bank can’t yet signal tightening for the region’s resurgent economy, he can respond with a question of his own: Where’s the inflation?

At his quarterly grilling before the European Parliament – and his final scheduled appearance before next week’s monetary-policy decision — the ECB president is likely to be pressed about his plans for stimulus withdrawal. While euro-area data this week may show the strongest economic confidence in a decade and the lowest unemployment since 2009, Draghi can still point to consumer prices that are struggling to lift off.

The disconnect between accelerating growth and sluggish inflation is a puzzle haunting officials as they prepare to meet on June 8 in Tallinn. Draghi, who has tried to quash speculation that the ECB might opt for a faster exit from bond purchases and sub-zero rates, faces the challenge of acknowledging the economy’s gains without priming markets for action that many would consider premature.

“Draghi will explain that the improvement in the economy is not sufficient at this point to make sure that the improvement in the inflation outlook is self-sustained,” said Philippe Gudin, chief European economist at Barclays Plc. “We are still far from the point at which we could see inflationary pressures materializing.”

Draghi’s hearing at the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee is an opportune moment to tout the euro area’s recovery — and the role of the ECB’s 2.3 trillion-euro ($2.6 trillion) bond-buying program.

Economic activity, as measured by a Purchasing Managers’ Index, is at the highest in six years and at levels that in the past have warranted monetary tightening. Data on Tuesday is is likely to show economic confidence at the strongest in almost a decade, and figures the next day will probably reveal an unemployment rate at the lowest since early 2009. In Germany, the euro area’s economic powerhouse, business sentiment is at levels not seen since at least 1991.

But Draghi’s four-year inflationary campaign has so far failed to put price growth on a self-sustaining path toward the ECB’s goal of just under 2 percent. If anything, there are hints that the target is receding further into the future. Economists predict that data due Wednesday will show the inflation rate fell to 1.5 percent in May from 1.9 percent. More worryingly for the central bank, core inflation is slated to slow to 1 percent.

Even if those are temporary blips, the longer-term outlook shows that price pressures will increase only gradually. According to Bloomberg Intelligence research, inflation will accelerate to 1.8 percent in 2021, two years after the end of Draghi’s term. The European Commission cut its forecast for 2018 inflation to 1.3 percent and the ECB, which is updating its own forecasts to be published at the June policy meeting, may have to follow suit.

With numbers like these, Draghi and his closest collaborators last week restated that the ECB will stick to its current normalization plan, which foresees rate increases only well after asset purchases have been tapered. The quantitative-easing program is currently scheduled to run at 60 billion euros a month until at least the end of the year.

While the exit debate within the Governing Council will probably start in earnest at the Tallinn meeting, it may yield only minor changes to policy communication for now, such as the removal of an explicit pledge to cut rates further if needed or the recognition that risks to the recovery are no longer skewed to the downside. Even that may be too much for some.

“The recovery in the euro area is resilient and increasingly broad-based even if overall risks remain tilted to the downside,” Vice President Vitor Constancio said on Thursday. The continuation of “monetary stimulus remains important to ensure a sustainable adjustment of the inflation process.”

Wage Worry

A missing element in the ECB’s inflation mix is wages, which have been rising very slowly despite falling unemployment, even in countries like Germany where joblessness is at a record low.

As many of the jobs created since the crisis are short-term or part-time, the labor market may have greater spare capacity than official measures suggest, leading workers to opt for more hours before higher salaries. A pick-up in real wages may have to wait until the beginning of next year, when many collective contracts will come up for re-negotiation.

That’s all reason for Draghi to stick to his rhetoric of patience and caution.

“He’s not yet sufficiently confident on the durability of the inflation recovery, and there are few signs of an improving core-inflation outlook,” said Anatoli Annenkov, senior economist at Societe Generale in London. “I doubt his message will change much compared to recent appearances.”

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-28/draghi-s-riddle-of-missing-inflation-makes-case-for-ecb-patience

BHP CEO Tells Investors Options for U.S. Shale Unit Under Review

BHP Billiton Ltd. is assuring shareholders that it’s exploring numerous options for its contentious U.S. shale unit amid pressure from activist investor Elliott Management Corp. to carry out a wider review of petroleum operations.

Andrew Mackenzie

Photographer: Patrick Hamilton/Bloomberg

In a series of meetings in Australia last week, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie stressed to shareholders that the biggest mining company is open to selling parts of the onshore portfolio. Billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott wants an independent review of BHP’s oil unit and claims the miner has destroyed about $31 billion in value through its foray into U.S. shale and failed petroleum exploration.

Mackenzie’s message to investors on shale is “they want to try and extract maximum value out of the business and there’s a lot of different options,” said Andy Forster, a Sydney-based senior investment officer at Argo Investments Ltd., which owns BHP shares, and who attended a meeting. “They still seem pretty wedded to the rest of the petroleum business.”

BHP declined to comment on details of talks between Mackenzie and shareholders. The producer said in an e-mailed statement this month the executive was scheduled to hold investor talks to outline the Melbourne-based company’s growth plans.

“They want to be seen as being pro-active” on addressing the future of the shale unit, “but don’t want to be seen as being reactionary to Elliott,” Argo’s Forster said by phone.

Elliott, which has made two sets of proposals for a corporate overhaul of BHP since April, claims to have found a “groundswell of dissatisfaction” in talks over recent weeks with investors holding tens of billions of dollars of the company’s shares. The fund and its associates hold an interest in about 4.1 percent of BHP’s London-listed shares, Elliott said in an April 10 statement.

Any piecemeal sales of shale operations in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana risk being the “commercial equivalent of death by a thousand cuts,” Elliott, which favors a spin off of all U.S. oil assets, warned in a May 16 presentation. The shale unit is worth about $6.3 billion, according to Deutsche Bank AG.

Pressure from Elliott may have provided an impetus to BHP to publicly address the future shale operations, says Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, the second-largest holder of BHP’s London-listed shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“It sounds like they’re getting on with reviewing shale gas,” Robert Penaloza, Aberdeen’s head of Australian equities, said by phone from Sydney. “For all the issues that Elliott’s brought up, maybe it’s just made it more urgent for BHP to get on with these things.”

Since acquiring the U.S. onshore assets in about $20 billion of deals earlier this decade, BHP has written off more than half their value and acknowledged this month the deals were poorly timed and too expensive. BHP said in April it is seeking to sell parts of a Texas gas field and considering an exit from the Fayetteville shale gas assets in Arkansas.

Mackenzie raised the prospect of further sales of shale assets in a May 16 speech in Barcelona, flagging the company’s transition to focus more closely on conventional petroleum.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-28/bhp-ceo-tells-investors-options-for-u-s-shale-unit-under-review

The Great Aussie Recession-Free Run Is Looking Shaky Once Again

Weak signals from Australia are forcing economists to revisit their first-quarter growth forecasts. Some are even suggesting a contraction.

Home building, net exports and household consumption could be a drag on gross domestic product for the first three months of 2017, according to some estimates. A negative print would raise the specter of recession, especially as a cyclone that ripped through Queensland’s key coal mining region is tipped to subtract from growth in the three months through June.

Sluggish data "all points to growth being only marginally positive at this stage and there’s certainly the risk of a negative quarter," said Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Ltd. in Sydney, who now expects first-quarter GDP growth of around 0.2 percent rather than the 0.5-0.6 percent he previously penciled in.

Australia’s enviable track-record in avoiding two straight quarters of contraction since 1991 is on shaky ground. While the economy grew a solid 1.1 percent in the final three months of last year, it was rebounding from a shock 0.5 percent decline. Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. last week said growth could be just 0.1 percent in the first quarter of this year. That would be an annual rate of 1.5 percent, the lowest since 2009.

While the Reserve Bank of Australia has said holding its benchmark interest rate at a record low 1.5 percent since September is appropriate for “sustainable growth” and meeting its inflation target, a soft GDP number won’t go unnoticed. Oliver says anemic growth in the first half means the risks are still to the downside for borrowing costs, even if the market sees about a 20 percent chance of a cut this year.

A weak number would likely cast further doubt on the government’s growth forecasts, delivered in its annual budget this month, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s ruling coalition struggles in the polls. The Treasury is forecasting GDP growth of 1.75 percent in the 12 months through June, accelerating to 3 percent by fiscal 2019.

"We’ve long held the view that sub-trend growth is likely to persist. This idea of a return back to 3 percent-plus growth looks a little ambitious at this stage," said Su-Lin Ong, senior economist at Royal Bank of Canada.

Most observers are waiting for key GDP components such as net exports and business investment to fine tune their forecasts ahead of the June 7 report. Further out, second-quarter growth is tipped to be curbed by Cyclone Debbie, which saw North Queensland coal exports plunge nearly 70 percent in April, according to a Platts report.

Australian Construction Work Done, q/q change

The first official component of first-quarter GDP landed last week: Construction data prompted Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s securities unit and National Australia Bank Ltd. to warn of downside risks to their forecasts and potential for a negative number. Building work fell by 0.7 percent in the first three months, worse than the 0.5 percent decline predicted by economists, with weakness in the residential sector the main drag.

"The pullback in residential construction was certainly surprising and has more serious implications for economic growth," said Savanth Sebastian, senior economist at CBA’s securities unit.

The next piece of the puzzle comes Thursday with private capital spending numbers, which also have the potential to disappoint. Capex has declined in the past four quarters and economists expect it to pick up just 0.5 percent in the first three months as mining investment starts to bottom out.

Trade, Retail

Net exports and household consumption aren’t likely to add much to growth either. Exports rose a modest 2 percent in March, compared with a 5 percent increase in imports, while first-quarter retail sales rose just 0.1 percent and actually fell in March.

One potential bright spot is public spending. Governments at state and federal level are looking to ramp up investment in infrastructure projects, underlined by the government’s May budget pledge to spend A$75 billion ($55.8 billion) on works over the next decade. Yet that might take some time to feed through to bottom-line growth.

The remaining parts of GDP are inventories and company profits on June 5 and net exports on June 6.

Paul Dales, chief economist for Australia and New Zealand at Capital Economics, expects about 0.3 percent growth in the first quarter but thinks that further GDP components may paint a more positive picture. Still, he wouldn’t rule out a technical recession in the first half of this year.

“It’s possible, but at this stage I’m not forecasting it,” he said. “If it did happen, my conclusion would probably be that some of that slowdown is temporary, related to very unusual weather patterns.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-28/the-great-aussie-recession-free-run-is-looking-shaky-once-again

How to Earn Millions in China’s App Economy

In the U.S., free content — whether that's cooking tutorials on YouTube or the latest news on Twitter — is supported by advertising. In China, however, companies have succeeded in getting people to directly pay for what they consume, opening up a new source of revenue for the booming app industry and lucrative opportunities for content creators. This week, Bloomberg Technology's Selina Wang speaks to a former magazine editor who has earned millions of dollars from the column that he publishes on the app De Dao. We'll also hear from two of China’s top tech investors on whether U.S. companies can learn from China’s success.

Want to hear more? Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and Pocket Casts for new episodes every week.  is a podcast that uncovers the hidden projects, quiet rivalries and uncomfortable truths in the global technology industry. 

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-23/how-to-earn-millions-in-china-s-app-economy

25 awesome pins to prove that your soul belongs to food

We. Love. Food.

There is no denying this fact. From food’s humble beginnings as something we all need to survive, it has developed into something that pretty much counts as a hobby now, whether it’s eating it, making it, or taking pictures of it.

Luckily for us, there are all sorts of ways we can display our love of food, from clothing to cute accessories. And here we’ve created a list of some of the best food pins you can purchase on the internet. Why? Because pins are making a huge comeback. And we just discussed how food is probably the best part of 2017, food and dogs.

So please, enjoy these small enamel versions of some food items we all love.

1. Sriracha hot sauce pin

Image: strange ways

No other condiment has a more passionate and dedicated fanbase than sriracha. If you love it, you are ride or die. You put it on everything, because food without sriracha doesn’t even count as food. You buy cookbooks that revolve around using sriracha as the main ingredient. And now you can proudly display it at all times with this pin, so people know exactly what they’re getting into when they sit down with you for dinner.

Price: $8.99

2. Crinkle cut fry pin

Image: my metal hand

Why are fries so good? We’re sure there’s a very scientific answer to that question, but we don’t really care that much, to be honest. We just want to keep eating those fries, complete with that sweet dash of ketchup.

Price: $11

3. Doritos pin

Image: HeatherBuchanan/etsy

Don’t lie the junk chip of our childhood is often still the junk chip that you reach for. Doritos go way back for pretty much all of us. The only question that remains is whether you are team Nacho Cheese or team Cool Ranch. This pin is clearly team cheese, so ranch folks should just keep scrolling.

Price: $9

4. Top ramen pin

Image: GiantRobotStore/etsy

Who doesn’t have a fond memory of Top Ramen? Whether it was the hip snack you ate dry and still in the packaging in school or the only thing you could afford to eat in college, instant ramen occupies a special place in everyone’s hearts and minds. We are forever thankful for you, ramen.

Price: $7

5. Pizza pin

Image: WildflowerandCompany/etsy

You had a feeling that you’d see pizza on this list, didn’t you? Of course you would. We’re not in the business of disappointing our readers. Pizza is life.

Price: $9.50

6. Pierogi pin

Image: HappylandPrintShop/etsy

Many cultures have foods where something is wrapped in dough and then either fried, baked, or boiled. And we are not complaining. Frankly, all of those different versions of dumplings are delicious and they each deserve a pin, like this cute pierogi pin here.

Price: $6.15

7. Tostada pin

Image: minimalust

You better believe that all the most popular Mexican dishes have their own enamel pin just waiting for Mexican food lovers to pick up and put on. This one is of the delicious tostada, and you know it’s anatomically accurate because it was made in collaboration with a restaurant that serves tostadas.

Price: $10

8. Nachos pin

Image: P & C Poolside

Bar food, ballgame food, appetizer food, food food. Nachos fit all of the previous categories, and they are delicious. If you have a passion for dipping tortilla chips in melted cheese, this is the pin for you.

Price: $10

9. Taco pin

Image: poquito

Everyone has one friend who is obsessed with finding and eating the best taco in the world. You know the one. Give this taco pin to that friend and say, “I just found the best taco in the world. Now you own it.” Hopefully that will get them to stop obsessively talking about tacos.

Price: $10

10. Pho pin

Image: towne9/etsy

Pho is one of the most satisfying foods to consume. There’s nothing quite like a large steaming bowl of delicious broth and noodles, exfoliating your face while simultaneously filling your body up with good warmness. Pho doesn’t feel quite the same in pin form, but at least you’ll be reminded of what it’s actually like every time you look at it.

Price: $10

11. Sarawak laksa pin

Image: PinIntended/etsy

Sarawak laksa is a noodle dish from Malaysia, one that Anthony Bourdain is obsessed with. He famously put it on a list of foods he feels people “need and deserve.” But his opinion isn’t what matters here, yours is. If you also love Sarawak laksa, get yourself one of these pins.

Price: $6.50

12. Sushi omakase pin set



When you eat sushi, you can’t eat just one. You want lots of sushi. You want the whole menu of sushi. You want the entire omakase. This pin set takes that exact approach, because having just one piece of sushi is dumb.

Price: $40

13. Bacon pancakes pin

Image: the midnight society

If you love pancakes, bacon, and Adventure Time, this is the perfect pin for you and Ron Swanson.

Price: $10

14. Chicken and waffles pin set

Image: minimalust

Chicken and waffles are the pinnacle of weird food combos gone absolutely right, so right in fact that there’s the clich about going together like chicken and waffles. That’s exactly what this pin set is all about. We think you’re supposed to keep one and give the other to the person who is your other half, but you can also just keep both because why not.

Price: $14

15. Fried egg pin

Image: ChooplHandmade/etsy

The simple, humbleness of the fried egg often goes unnoticed and under-appreciated. But it truly deserves more. A staple of brunches, sandwiches, ramen, and burgers everywhere, use this pin to show your respect for the venerable veteran of the food world.

Price: $5.98

16. Pickle pin

Image: Moguless/etsy

Pickles have contributed much to the food world. No sandwich feels complete without one. Burgers feel more dynamic when they are included. You too can add some salty juiciness to your outfit with this pickle pin.

Price: $8

17. Artichoke pin

Image: poquito

Just to prove that there’s probably a pin for everything out there in the world, here’s an artichoke pin, perfect for those who love artichoke pizza and artichoke hearts.

Price: $12

18. Avocado pin

Image: pinkyellowmx/etsy

The search for the perfect avocado pin is about as illusive as the search for the best avocado toast. Luckily, we think we’ve found it with this beautiful enamel pin, capturing all the beauty we see and adoration we feel for this singular food item.

Price: $10.08

19. Beet pin

Image: shinyapplestudio/etsy

You can’t have bears and Battlestar Galactica in your life without the beets. Celebrate this fine vegetable with this equally fine pin. Alternatively, it also makes the perfect present for the Dwight Schrute in your life.

Price: $10

20. Chipwich pin

Image: Krystan saint cat

The only thing better than an ice cream cookie sandwich is an ice cream cookie sandwich that’s covered in chocolate chips. And this pin has got you covered.

Price: $10

21. Disney ice cream pin

Image: kill ’em with cuteness

Ice cream bars not only are appetizing, they look appetizing. This pin captures that deliciousness with a Disney flare, bringing to mind the unique feeling of walking through a theme park, carefree and ice creamed.

Price: $9

22. S’mores pin

Image: fairgoods/etsy

We owe whoever invented the delicious combo of graham crackers, melted marshmallow, and chocolate a huge favor, because s’mores are one of the greatest desserts, whether you are actually camping or not. So wear it on your shirt, whether you are camping or not.

Price: $9

23. Glitter ringpop pin

Image: candy doll club

One of the best candy fads of our past is the ring pop. What better way to consume portable candy safely and fashionably? Real ring pops are hard to come by nowadays, but you can immortalize your love of them forever with these sparkly pins from this UK-based company.

Price: Around $9

24. Orange mocha frappuccino pin

Image: blue ruin co

This particular pin has us a bit mystified. While it looks exactly like those Starbucks frappuccinos that legions know and love, it also has an orange on the cup where the Starbucks logo would go. The name of the pin tells us that this frappuccino has a orange mocha flavor, which doesn’t strike us as particularly appetizing. But, with all this being said, the pin is still cute and it can be seen as a stand-in for specialty frappuccinos everywhere.

Price: $7

25. Bubble tea pin

Image: P & C Poolside

Bubble (boba) tea is a beverage that has almost a cult following. Once you’re hooked, you’re hooked and there are plenty of bubble tea shops out there to satisfy your craving, offering a wide variety of styles and flavors. With this enamel pin, you can take a little bubble tea with you wherever you go. Nothing sounds better than that.

Price: $10

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/28/25-cute-food-pins/

BA flight disruption at Heathrow set for third day – BBC News

Image copyright Reuters

British Airways passengers are facing a third day of disruption at Heathrow as the airline deals with the impact of a worldwide computer system crash.

BA says it aims to operate a full long-haul schedule and a “high proportion” of short-haul services after the outage caused by a power failure.

So far on Monday, 13 short-haul flights at Heathrow have been cancelled.

Cancellations and delays affected thousands of passengers at both Heathrow and Gatwick on Saturday.

All flights operated from Gatwick on Sunday but more than a third of services from Heathrow – mostly to short-haul destinations – were cancelled.

In a statement, BA said its IT systems were moving “closer to full operational capacity”, and chief executive Alex Cruz has posted videos on Twitter apologising for what he called a “horrible time for passengers”.

But no-one from the airline has been made available to explain the cause of the system crash, and it has not explained why there was no back-up system in place.

BA added: “At Heathrow, we have operated virtually all our scheduled long-haul flights, though the knock-on effects of Saturday’s disruption resulted in a reduced short-haul programme.

“We apologise again to customers for the frustration and inconvenience they are experiencing and thank them for their continued patience.”

One of the affected passengers is Ian Sanderson who is stuck in-transit in London after setting off from his home in Luxembourg to travel to Iceland.

He said he was “incandescent with rage” after being unable to rebook his flight, or speak to a member of staff.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Thousands of customers have taken to Twitter to vent their frustration

Speaking on Sunday evening, he said: “I’ve bombarded them with about 100 tweets in the last 24 hours. I know that’s annoying but there’s nothing else I can do.

“We’ve tried to call them on the numbers they give and all we’ve got is the same recorded message which then cuts off at the end.”

Former Virgin Airlines spokesman Paul Charles said: “What seems remarkable is there was no back-up system kicking in within a few minutes system failing.

“Businesses of this type need systems backing up all the time, and this is what passengers expect.”

Yoga mats

BA is liable to reimburse thousands of passengers for refreshments and hotel expenses, and travel industry commentators have suggested the cost to the company – part of Europe’s largest airline group IAG – could run in to tens of millions of pounds.

Customers displaced by flight cancellations can claim up to 200 a day for a room (based on two people sharing), 50 for transport between the hotel and airport, and 25 a day per adult for meals and refreshments.

Consumer expert Franky Brehany said travellers stranded in a “high-value city” like London may be able to claim more and should keep all receipts.

But he added that it might be harder for passengers to claim compensation, as BA may blame “extraordinary circumstances” – “like an act of God or force majeure” – meaning the airline would only have to reimburse hotel and food costs.

On Saturday, travellers spent the night sleeping on terminal floors at Heathrow on yoga mats provided by BA.

The disruption continued into Sunday, with queues building up as passengers tried to rebook flights. Conference rooms at the airport were opened to provide somewhere more comfortable for passengers to rest.

BA said Heathrow was still expected to be congested on Monday and urged travellers not to go to the airport unless they had a confirmed booking for a flight that was operating.

It said passengers could get a full refund or rebook to travel up to the end of November but recommend they use its website.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Queues built up on Sunday at Heathrow Terminal 5 as passengers waited to speak to BA staff
Image copyright Getty Images

Thousands of bags remain at Heathrow Airport, but BA has advised passengers not to return to collect them, saying they will be couriered to customers.

The airline said there was no evidence the computer failure was the result of a cyber attack. It denied claims by the GMB union that problem could be linked to the company outsourcing its IT work.

Gatwick Airport said it was continuing to advise customers travelling with British Airways to check the status of their flight with the airline before travelling to the airport.

EU flight delay rights

  • If your flight departed from within the European Union or was with a European airline, you might have rights under EU law to claim if the delay or cancellation was within the airline’s control.
  • Short-haul flights: 250 euros for delays of more than three hours
  • Medium-haul flights: 400 euros for delays of more than three hours
  • Long-haul flights: 300 euros for delays of between three and four hours; and 600 euros for delays of more than four hours
  • If your flight’s delayed for two or more hours the airline must offer food and drink, access to phone calls and emails, and accommodation if you’re delayed overnight – including transfers between the airport and the hotel.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40081112

Taking a break? The 1.7bn career gap – BBC News

Image caption Skanska diversity manager Israil Bryan (l) says returnships have helped the construction company to plug some skills shortages

There are plenty of things on a CV that can put off recruiters.

Having a gap on your work history shouldn’t be one of them – but the challenges faced by women returning to the workplace costs the UK an estimated 1.7bn a year in lost economic output.

So what can be done to address this black hole?

Julianne Miles co-founded Women Returners to connect firms with candidates who want to get back into work but have a lengthy gap on their CV.

Like an internship, a “returnship” is a placement at a company ranging from six weeks to six months. Where it differs is that returners come in at a paid, high level position following a minimum of two years out of the workplace.

Formerly a high-level marketing executive for Diageo, Julianne took a four-year career break when her children were born before retraining as a psychologist. Her initial goal for Women Returners was to counteract the negative stereotypes surrounding career breaks.

“We were initially driven by the social goal of making sure a career break didn’t mean career suicide. I was aware that everything you read at the time was very negative – that if you took a break you couldn’t get back into a high-level corporate role. And you could see the reality of that [on the ground] – it was very hard to get back in.”

‘Career break penalty’

She points out that the “career break penalty” means it’s not just the economy that is getting a raw deal.

Image copyright UK Automotive 30% club
Image caption Chartered psychologist Julianne Miles founded Women Returners after taking a break from the workplace and changing careers

Almost half a million professional women who are currently on care-related career breaks are likely to come back to work in the future. Of those, three in five will move into a lower skilled or lower paid role than the job they had before, reducing their earnings by up to a third, according to PwC research last year.

A further 29,000 will be underemployed – not working as many hours as they would like to. If this penalty was addressed it would add an average of 4,000 on to the salary of each returner.

But Women Returners is not a charitable initiative. Julianne estimates the hiring rate following each programme is 50-85% and points out the companies involved gain access to an untapped pool of talent.

What’s more, the multiplier effect of their combined 1.1bn in extra earnings and increased spending power would lead to a 1.7bn increase in UK economic output.

Yet only a tiny fraction of companies offer these schemes.

Tania Ash has just joined Enfield Council’s six-month returnship programme as a web architect. After 20 years working in software development for private companies, she took two years out to care for her father, who had been diagnosed with dementia, and look after her baby daughter.

Image copyright Tania Ash
Image caption Tania Ash found it hard to rejoin the IT industry after taking time out to spend with daughter Marie

“I have a business background and when I decided to continue my career I was looking for an opportunity with flexible working hours,” she says. “It was really hard to find that in the IT industry because it’s very rapid, so this was a great opportunity for me to return to the industry.”

‘Good for both sides’

And not all returners are sitting behind a desk. Engineer Kate Young, 37, took a seven-year career break before starting her placement at Skanska last year when her younger child started school. She has since become a senior engineer at the company.

“The Skanska job was the first to hit all the boxes. It was part-time, location-wise it was flexible and it was relevant to my engineering skills,” she says. “I had heard some horror stories from people with big gaps in their CV where the initial [recruitment] filter just puts them straight in the bin.”

But she says a returnship is “good for both sides”.

“Going in for three months on a returnship means people do not expect you to immediately get there, and they know you have your family life. You know that if it’s a disaster you can think, ‘well, I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work right now,’ so it takes the pressure off.”

Image caption Kate Young is now employed by Skanska as a senior engineer

The Skanska returnship is open to both women and men who have had a career break. Israil Bryan, the firm’s diversity and social programme manager, says running a returnship programme has helped Skanska solve many problems.

“There is a lack of diversity in the construction industry, and there are skill gaps in some core technical areas like engineering and quantity surveying,” she says.

“Within Skanska we sought to address both these things – to bring quality people into our business but also people from other industries with core skills that could complement us.”

Change of attitude

There are many reasons why people find themselves taking a career break.

Natalie Lang, 49, left her 20-year career in financial services to set up her own childcare business. When she decided to return to the City, recruiters were reluctant to take her on.

“When I started looking for jobs and I was dealing with recruiters, they were very reluctant to put my CV forward when there were other candidates already doing the job, because they felt they had a better chance of getting the position,” she says.

But Natalie found financial services firm Fidelity’s returner programme online, and now has a permanent role at the company as a business risk manager.

Image copyright Fidelity International
Image caption “Recruiters were reluctant to put my CV forward,” says Natalie Lang

While Julianne Miles’s Women Returners project is still relatively small-scale, it is undeniably gaining momentum. The number of programmes offered have grown from three in 2014 to 27 announced for 2017 so far.

In the March 2017 Budget, the government allocated 5m for “return to work” schemes. But what our society should aim for, Julianne says, is for returnships to become less significant, as the attitude towards career breaks becomes more accepting.

“It’s not just about returners – it’s about opening the minds of companies to people who have had career breaks more broadly.

“I would like to see returnships continue because it reduces risks on both sides but we are also bringing these role models into organisations. There are only a tiny percentage of people in organisations that have taken career breaks so people can see them and think, ‘why are we prejudiced against people who have taken career breaks?'”

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39939141

London only approved Uber to stay legal for 4 more months

An April protest against Uber in London.
Image: ANDY RAIN/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

London isn’t totally sold on Uber.

The city’s transportation authority, Transport for London, renewed Uber’s license Friday but only for four months.

Uber’s current 5-year license, which it won in 2012, expires May 30.

Uber wants another five-year agreement not a measly four-month extension. And Uber’s opponents aren’t thrilled about the short-term approval either.

Uber has still not answered questions that TfL asked months ago. We say they are either safe to licence or theyre not. You cant be a little bit pregnant. We think that TfLs reason for this temporary licence is unlawful. This is totally unprecedented,” Steve McNamara, general secretary of London’s Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, told The Guardian.

Uber has been fighting with London for a while. The ride-hailing giant lost a battle over new rules that will require Uber drivers in the city to pass an English-language test.

Millions of Londoners rely on Uber to get a reliable ride at the touch of a button and thousands of licensed drivers make money through our app. We look forward to continuing to help keep London moving,” Uber said in a statement.

There’s some behind-the-scenes stuff happening here, though. London might soon raise the licensing fee for large-scale transportation operators from about 3,000 to what could be more than 2 million in Uber’s case over five years. So Uber’s temporary extension could be a way to make sure the company has to pay the much higher fee when it takes effect.

Anyway, Uber is facing another headache as the question of its future in London drags on. See you in September, Uber.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/27/uber-london-4-month-extension/

Burger King pisses off the king of Belgium with ad

Image: Getty Images

The king of Belgium is apparently not amused by his appearance in a recent Burger King ad.

The country’s royal family contacted the fast food chain this weekend over an online ad that asks people to choose between its mascot and a cartoon image of King Philippe, the BBC reports.

A spokesperson for the family told the network that the company isn’t allowed to use the monarch’s likeness without their approval.

As of Saturday evening, the ad remained live at the domain whoistheking.be.

Visitors who vote for the real-life king are prompted to reconsider.

“Are you sure? He won’t be the one to cook your fries.”

The campaign is meant to plug the chain’s first-ever store in the country, which will open its doors in late June.

Voting closes shortly beforehand, but it’s not clear what exactly Burger King plans to do with the results.

Burger King didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson told the BBC that the company had not heard anything from the family.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/27/burger-king-upsets-belgian-king/