Credit card demand faces record drop as Brexit spooks borrowers – as it happened

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Greek PM wins confidence vote, but pressure remains

School teachers protesting in central Athens today

School teachers protesting in central Athens today Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP

Over in Greece, where the government has survived a late-night confidence vote, fears of snap elections have been put on the back burner.

However, ministers’ relief is being clouded by warnings that, once again, Athens is dragging its feet on reforms.

A jubilant Alexis Tsipras may have survived the vote – welcoming his narrow 151-148 ballot victory as “a vote of confidence in stability ” – but the challenges before him are far from over.

The first is passage of the landmark Macedonia name-change accord that prompted the leftist leader to call the confidence motion after the Independent Greeks party, his coalition’s junior partner, quit in protest over it. Pulling the same hat trick is far from certain. With the centrist Potami party wavering, it remains unsure if he will win a decisive majority.

Although Tsipras has touted the renewal of confidence in his government as the card he needs to push ahead with other initiatives – from increasing the minimum wage to implementing a new payment scheme for unpaid social security contributions – his government faces growing pressure from the creditors who have bailed out the debt-stricken country to keep up with reforms.

Addressing the Greek-French chamber of commerce and industry in Athens on Wednesday night, the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said it was crucial that politicians stayed the course. “Greece has not yet reached the end of the road,” he said insisting that five months after exiting its third international bailout, foreign auditors were still watching the country closely. “The coming weeks will be decisive … it is very important that politicians don’t disengage from the agenda of reforms.”

Auditors, who return to Greece next week, are especially worried about Tsipras’ pledge to push ahead with handouts – not least raising the minimum wage – and the high stock of nonperforming loans in Greek banks which have played a central role in impeding Athens’ hopes of returning to capital markets.

Like every government before it, the Tsipras administration faces immense anger over enforcement of reforms with thousands of teachers taking to the streets- and civil servants walking off the job – today.

Demand for mortgages and credit cards hit by Brexit


US accused of “technological McCarthyism” over Huawei probe

China’s Ministry of Finance has hit out at US authorites for launching a criminal probe into Huawei.

MOFa spokesperson Hua Chunying has told reporters that China is concerned by the “unusual handling” of the case by US prosecutors, suggesting it was driven by political considerations.

Hua added that if civil cases are used “arbitrarily to suppress Chinese enterprises then this is not only a violation of free and fair business competition but a violation rule of law.”

China’s media are also critical of the move, giving another insight into Beijing’s thinking.

Global Times wrote in an editorial today in response to the WSJ story and the proposal from US lawmakers to ban chip sales to Huawei that the ‘persecution of Huawei’ is a form of ‘technological McCarthyism”.

It says:

“America’s treatment of Huawei is full of geopolitical daggers… The US is angry because of China’s progress. If China wants to keep developing, China needs to bear these kinds of setbacks.”

“The US has prevented these companies from remaining separate from politics. The US has branded Huawei and ZTE as political, and this is a technological Mccarthyism.”

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