New financial crisis is already in the making, former Lehman Brothers boss claims

The former managing director of Lehman Brothers at the time of its collapse has warned that a new financial crisis is already in the making.

Today marks ten years to the day since the financial services company Lehman Brothers, a titan of Wall Street, surrendered to bankruptcy.

Stock markets shuddered and then collapsed in a panic that US government officials struggled to stop.

Tom Russo, a former managing director and chief legal officer of the bank, told Britain's Sky News that Lehman Brothers should never have been allowed to collapse, adding that "the seeds of the next financial crisis are probably being ordered right now."

Speaking in New Jersey, he said the process of leverage - a measure of corporate debt - will once again be to blame.

His view was shared by British Progressive Economy Forum council member Ann Pettifor, who told Sky that a "rise in interest rates is going to be the trigger."

Pettifor predicted the last financial crisis in 2006, more than two years before it actually struck. She also told Sky the process which will lead to a new crisis has already started.

According to the Sky report, the state of New Jersey was third worse in the US for home repossessions and many houses in the city of Newark have remained boarded up since the crash.

This weekend marks 10 years since the financial services company Lehman Brothers, a titan of Wall Street, surrendered to bankruptcy. Source: Associated Press

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Rising jet fuel prices could lower Air New Zealand's profit

High jet fuel prices could be affect Air New Zealand's profits in 2019. 

Recent changes in jet fuel prices have outpaced the $US85 ($NZ127.35) per barrel Air New Zealand had assumed in it's financial year earnings for 2019, chairman Tony Carter said today.

"As we look forward to the year ahead, we are optimistic about market dynamics and demand trends, but note that the current levels of jet fuel price will be a headwind on profitability compared to the prior year," Mr Carter told Reuters.

Airline companies around the globe are expected to be affected financially, with jet fuel prices rising to $US93.81 ($NZ140.57) per barrel.

As a result of higher fuel prices, pretax profit was expected to fall up to 21 per cent from $540 million in 2017 in the current financial year, according to Air New Zealand.

The airline's shares have also fallen 1.6 percent to a seven-month low in the market.

An Air New Zealand plane.

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Mobile phone catches alight during Qantas flight from LA to Melbourne

A mobile phone has reportedly caught alight during a Melbourne-bound Qantas flight after becoming crushed in a seat.

A business class passenger dropped their device on the flight from Los Angeles this morning and it got stuck in a seat.

When the passenger tried to retrieve it, it got crushed and passengers later reported a burnt rubber smell, the Herald Sun said.

Qantas said cabin crew contained the situation and the captain decided to continue onto Melbourne.

Qantas plane (file picture). Source: 1 NEWS

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Extinct cousin of the kiwi thought to be biggest bird to have roamed the earth

A long running debate about the identity of the largest ever bird may have been put to rest by British researchers. The top spot being awarded to a distant relative of the flightless New Zealand kiwi.

Named the Vorombe titan, Malagasy for "big bird", it's part of a group known as elephant birds that once roamed the African island of Madagascar around 1000 years ago.

The study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, describes the now extinct creature as weighing up to 800kg and towering over people at three metres tall, Newsweek reports.

New analysis of elephant bird bones from museums around the world revealed "unexpected diversity"in the Madagascan behemoths, according to Newsweek.

The study found that the group was actually divided into at least four different species.

The distinct differences in bone size and shape merited a new genus name, Vorombe. The colossal elephant bird belonged to the same family of flightless animals that today includes the kiwi, emu and ostrich.

"Elephant birds are a radiation of extinct, giant, flightless birds unique to the island of Madagascar.

"Remarkably, it is the kiwi that are the closest living relatives to elephant birds today," James Hansford, from the Zoological Society of London said.

Vorombe Titan, roaming the Madagascan island 500,000 to 1 million years ago.
Vorombe Titan, roaming the Madagascan island 500,000 to 1 million years ago. Source: Jaime Chirinos / Royal Society Open Science


British Labour Party says it’ll consider new Brexit referendum

Britain's main opposition Labour Party announced today it will reject Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed divorce deal with the European Union if it comes to a vote in Parliament and might even support a new Brexit referendum.

The party's chief Brexit spokesman accused May's government of offering the country a choice between "really bad and even worse."

If Britain and the EU agree on a deal, it must be approved by the British and European parliaments before Britain leaves. The math on the UK vote looks ominous for May's government, because it lacks an overall majority.

Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer told Labour's annual conference that the party would vote against a Brexit deal along the lines that May is proposing because it does not meet "six tests" it has set, including protecting workers' rights and retaining access to European markets.

"We do not accept that the choice is between whatever the prime minister manages to cobble together and no deal ... between really bad and even worse," Starmer said.

The comments come as the Brexit deadline gets closer, with no deal in sight. Source: Breakfast

Starmer said if the British Parliament rejected the deal, there should be a national election.

"If that is not possible, we must have other options," he said. "Our options must include campaigning for a public vote - and nobody is ruling out 'remain' as an option."

Starmer's suggestion that a new referendum could reverse Britain's 2016 decision to leave the EU - which wasn't in the advanced printed text of his speech - drew a standing ovation from many delegates in the conference hall.

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has long opposed the idea of a new Brexit referendum, saying the party must respect voters' decision to leave.

Most of the party's 500,000 members voted in 2016 to remain in the EU, but many of its 257 lawmakers represent areas that supported Brexit. Brendan Chilton of the pro-Brexit group Labour Leave argued Tuesday that the party would "hemorrhage votes" if it tried to stop Britain from leaving the 28-nation bloc.

But with Britain due to leave the EU on March 29 and negotiations at an impasse, Corbyn is under intense pressure from party members to support a new public vote.

With a show of hands, conference delegates voted Tuesday to back a compromise motion leaving the option of a second Brexit referendum open, but not calling for it directly.

EU leaders last week rejected the British government's blueprint for future trade ties at a fractious summit in the Austrian city of Salzburg.

May's plan seeks to keep the UK in the EU's vast single market for goods but not for services, in order to ensure free trade with the bloc and an open border between the UK 's Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. But EU officials say that amounts to unacceptable "cherry-picking" of elements of membership in the bloc without accepting all the costs and responsibilities.

The Salzburg rebuff left May under siege from Brexit-supporting Conservatives, who want her to seek a looser relationship based on a bare-bones free trade agreement that would leave Britain free to strike new deals around the world.

But May is sticking by her proposal, saying the "hard Brexit" proposed by some Conservatives would be "a bad deal" because it would not resolve the Irish border problem.

"What we have put on the table is a good deal," she said Tuesday. "It's a deal which retains the union of the United Kingdom, our constitutional integrity, it's a deal that provides for no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, protects jobs and enables us to have a good trading relationship with Europe and also the rest of the world."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that time is tight. An EU summit next month is seen as a make-or-break moment for a Brexit deal.

Speaking in Berlin, Merkel said there were "six to eight weeks of very hard work in front of us in which we must take the political decisions."

"Of course, to a significant extent, this also depends on what Britain really wants - the discussion isn't so clear here," she said.

Ms May is sticking to her plan for cooperation with the EU, but European leaders says it won’t work. Source: Breakfast