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UK’s Housing market in boom.

In the last two months a rebound in the UK’s housing market could be seen. The house prices saw positive growth for the first time since the country went into lockdown in March. And all the credit to the changes made in the United Kingdom’s Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) rules. The news being welcomed with warm hands there are rising doubts that, if, the rules where here to stay. The enquiries have been raising strongly since July, mortgage applications have doubled since the market re-opened in May as suggested by the Data from online real-estate portal Rightmove. These demands have helped support prices, with Halifax reporting that prices gained 1.6 percent month-on-month in July, marking the first monthly increase since February and the biggest price rise since last December. And in August, Halifax noted that house prices rose by a further 1.6 percent and also 5.2 percent more than a year earlier, the fastest annual rate since 2016. According to a residential survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), moreover, a net balance of 12 percent of respondents reported an increase in house prices during July, as house prices rose in virtually every region of the country, contrasting a net balance of minus 13 per cent of the previous month’s survey.

The resurgence was due to the prominent changes in the Stamp Duty rules introduced in July by the government, with Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak exempting all residential properties with a value of up to £500,000 from the tax until the end of March 2021, meaning that a homebuyer spending £500,000 on a property could save as much as £15,000 on their purchase. This changes were applied to England and Northern Ireland, similar changes have also taken effect in Wales and Scotland, with the tax-free threshold increased to £250,000.

“The housing market was essentially brought to a standstill from late-March through to mid-May by the lockdown and it does appear to have been an immediate pick-up in housing market activity following the easing of restrictions”, noted Howard Archer, chief economic advisor at professional services firm Ernst & Young (EY).

38 percent more people across the country registering to buy than the same period in 2019 was seen according to the reports of the estate agent Hamptons International in the month of July. This was said to be possible after the announcement of the stamp duty holiday. And Rightmove has observed that the month experienced the highest value of sales in more than a decade, at £37 billion, with prices rising at their fastest annual rate since the months following the 2016 Brexit referendum. Halifax Bank’s managing director, Russell Galley, cites the stamp duty measure as being crucial in boosting confidence among homebuyers and hailing the future as “brighter than expected”. The rejuvenation certainly is good for the UK’s housing market but that should show a sustained resilience to prevent a strong downward market correction.  After 11 years , UK is facing recession with the economy having experienced two straight quarters of negative growth. At the beginning of July when Nationwide Building Society reported that UK house prices had registered their first annual decline since December 2012, with prices in June 0.1 percent lower than they were during the same month a year ago, the concerns started raising. “It is interesting that there remains rather more caution about the medium-term outlook with the macro environment, job losses and the ending or tapering of government support measures for the sector expected to take their toll,” RICS chief economist, Simon Rubinsohn, stated. Going forward, policymakers must ensure that young peoples’ incomes are protected in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and that their competitive advantage as first-time buyers is maintained when the stamp duty holiday comes to an end.

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LexisNexis risk solutions study reveals sharp rise of financial crime compliance costs

Decision makers inside banks, investment firms, asset managers and insurance firms identify the drivers impacting financial crime compliance. LexisNexis® Risk Solutions revealed that the results of its annual True Cost of Financial Crime Compliance Study for the U.S. and Canada. The total projected cost of financial crime compliance for the region is approximately $49.9 billion. The survey illustrates the sharp increase in financial crime compliance costs.

The study projects the average annual cost of financial crime compliance for U.S. financial institutions with $10 billion. Pandemic Continues to Spur Growth. The pandemic continues to negatively impact compliance operations. Sixty eight percent of U.S. respondents report longer times required to complete due diligence. Fifty five percent of U.S. respondents report reduced productivity compared.

More U.S. financial institutions now rank real estate and hospitality as top money laundering risk segments. Crime involving digital payments, trade-based money laundering and money mule schemes are on the rise. Digital currency is a growing problem for Canadian firms. Crimes involving digital payments have the greatest impact on compliance costs. Cryptocurrency crimes have the greatest impact on compliance costs for Canadian firms. The survey results demonstrate that financial institutions are battling a broader set of issues.

Survey respondents indicate that a lack of current and extensive data tops the list of Know Your Customer (KYC). Leslie Bailey, vice president of financial crime compliance strategy for LexisNexis Risk Solutions stated that the study shows clear linkages between the pandemic, digital crime and increasing regulations. Hence, financial institutions need to prepare for expanded compliance obligations and risks from emerging financial crime. Bailey added that digital transformation is a game-changer for financial crime compliance operations.

This will require a sophisticated approach that incorporates insight into digital behaviors. This study surveyed 145 decision-makers in the U.S. and Canada. Responses were collected in June 2019, August 2020 and June 2021. Organizations such as banks, investment firms, asset management firms and insurance firms. The total annual cost of compliance across firms was calculated using survey data. The spend amount was generated by multiplying the average percent allocated to financial crime costs.

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COP26 delegates agree on need to deliver on $100 BLN climate finance pledge

Delegates heading to the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow. These delegates agreed that they must deliver on the $100 billion per year pledge. COP26 president Alok Sharma said that, it is to help most vulnerable nations for tackling the climate change.

After many days of meetings at the pre-COP26 climate event, which happened in Italy, Sharma said that there was a consensus to do more. Which is to keep the 1.5 degrees Celsius target within reach, adding more needed to be done collectively in terms of national climate plans.

The COP26 conference in Glasgow aims to secure more ambitious climate action. This is from nearly 200 countries, those all that have signed the 2015 Paris Agreement for limiting the global warming, well below 2.0 degrees Celsius. And to 1.5 degrees, above pre-industrial levels.

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City’s exposure to Evergrande is very minimal-Hong Kong finance Chief

Hong Kong’s exposure to debt-laden developer China Evergrande Group is very minimal at 0.05%. This is of banking assets, South China Morning Post reported, citing the city’s finance minister. Financial Secretary Paul Chan told the newspaper that it is very minimal and won’t cause them any systemic risks. He added that he had arrived at the conclusion after a recent audit of the local banking sector’s exposure to the company.

Chan also said that the Hong Kong’s stock market was inevitably subject to some volatility. This is amidst a recent mainland crackdown on some industries. But still he believed any setback would be temporary. With liabilities of $305 billion, Evergrande has sparked concerns its cash crunch could spread through China’s financial system. This may reverberate globally and that is a worry that has eased with the Chinese central bank’s vow, to protect homebuyers’ interests. Evergrande has missed two bond interest payments. Bondholders have said this and its offshore debt, amounting to about $20 billion, trades at distressed levels.

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