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IMF warns more work is needed to tackle big bank risk

By Douwe Miedema WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Big banks still pose a threat to the world financial system because there is a general assumption that governments will come to their rescue in case of trouble, an International Monetary Fund executive said on Thursday.

Bankers spar over health of markets after crisis

Heavyweights in the banking world on Wednesday debated whether the financial crisis had turned a real corner, or whether the demons of the past could fast return. "Markets are safer," said Douglas Flint, chief executive of Anglo-Asian banking giant HSBC, sitting at a roundtable debate at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "It would be extraordinary and a shocking indictment if after six year of a crisis the system wasn't better than it was before the crisis," he said.

China home price rises show signs of easing in December

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's home prices continued to surge in December, though the pace of gains overall did not exceed the previous month's and rises eased in some major cities, suggesting that government tightening measures may be starting to bite. Home prices in many Chinese cities have continued to set records in the past year despite a four-year long government campaign to cool the market, adding to the threat of a price bubble and forcing some local governments into a fresh round of curbs in November.

World Economic Forum identifies income inequality as most likely risk to global economy

LONDON - The gap between the rich and the poor is the most likely threat to the global economy in coming years, the World Economic Forum said Thursday in a risk assessment ahead of the gathering of political and business leaders in the Swiss ski resort of Davos. The Forum, which hosts the annual gathering, said income disparity in the wake of the global financial crisis is the "most likely risk to cause an impact on a global scale in the next decade" and warned of a "lost generation" of young people that could stoke tensions in society.

Singapore not facing a credit bubble: central bank

Singapore's central bank has refuted suggestions in a prestigious US magazine that the affluent city-state faces a risky credit bubble linked to high property prices. A statement issued late Tuesday by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said the property market is stabilising, household balance sheets are strong and the financial system is robust. "Singapore is not facing a credit bubble that puts the country or its banking system at any risk of crisis," the MAS said in response to an online article in Forbes magazine published this week.

IMF adds four European countries to financial risk list

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The IMF on Monday added Denmark, Finland, Norway and Poland to its list of countries that must have regular check-ups of their financial sectors, under an effort to prevent a repeat of the global financial crisis. The International Monetary Fund in 2010 had identified 25 other countries where financial sector evaluations will be mandatory. These reviews had been voluntary prior to the 2008-2009 financial crisis, which showed how quickly financial problems in one country could spread to its neighbors and the rest of the world.

China can avoid Japan-style property bubble: official

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's policy fine-tuning and ongoing urbanization can help it to avoid a Japan-style property bubble, a senior housing official said, amid fears a housing market crash could lead to a hard landing for the world's second-largest economy. Beijing has allowed local governments to take differentiated property tightening measures, rather than a one-size-fits-all bid to cool the market, Vice Housing Minister Qiu Baoxing said in remarks published in the Southern Metropolis Daily.

Latin American 'reconquest' well-placed for Spanish recovery

By Tracy Rucinski and Elinor Comlay MADRID/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - As Spain's economy begins to recover from a near-fatal crisis, Latin American companies and entrepreneurs are ahead of the pack in gaining a foothold from which they can grab a share of the spoils. Mexicans, Venezuelans and others have moved into areas such as banking, travel, food and other consumer-orientated sectors.

British mortgage lending hits nearly four-year high, productivity down

By William Schomberg LONDON (Reuters) - British lenders provided more mortgages for home buyers in November than in any month in nearly four years, figures showed on Tuesday, raising fresh concerns about the risk of a bubble in the housing market. Separate data showing a fall in productivity in the third quarter underscored the challenge for the Bank of England as it tries to steer the economy towards a full recovery.

Australia sets additional capital requirements for big banks

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's systemically important "Big Four" banks will be required to set aside an extra 1 percent of equity capital to protect against the kind of turmoil seen during the global financial crisis under new regulations announced on Monday.
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