Acropolis to close in one-day strike over privatisation fears

Union says foreign investment funds are exploiting ancient sites in Greece

Striking trade unionists in Greece are forcing the shutdown of the country’s prime ancient sites, including the Acropolis, in a one-day protest over privatisation fears.

The 24-hour walkout on Thursday is expected to close the majority of Greece’s 275 archaeological sites, monuments and museums, which generate about €100m (£87m) in revenue, mostly from ticket sales, every year.

Related: Austerity is the wrong prescription for the world’s wellbeing | Larry Elliott

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BBRG: We Forget That the Financial Crisis Had a Trial Run

We Forget That the Financial Crisis Had a Trial Run The collapse of hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management had the same ingredients: lots of leverage, huge risk and a surplus of arrogance. Bloomberg, October 10, 2018       What happens when too much risk and too much leverage meets too little humility? That was…

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IMF warns global economic stability at risk from no-deal Brexit

Annual report says continuing uncertainty could adversely affect market confidence

A no-deal Brexit would send shockwaves through the global financial system and is one of the main risks to economic stability, the International Monetary Fund has said.

Echoing concerns from the Bank of England, the Washington-based organisation said the potential for millions of financial contracts between City banks and their counterparts across rest of Europe to collapse in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal was a major worry.

Related: Bank of England warns EU over Brexit risk to financial stability

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UK economy flatlines in August but grows by 0.7% over the quarter – as it happened

Britain’s economy ground to a halt in August but quarterly growth hit 0.7%, boosted by demand for retail and food and drink during the heatwave

The pound has been boosted by hopes that a Brexit deal could be struck after all, but upbeat commentary has yet to be supported with detail.

Sterling is up 0.3% against the dollar at $1.3179, and up 0.2% against the euro at €1.1445.

The opening bell has rung and US markets are lower:

Patisserie Valerie has just published another trading update, after revealing this morning potentially fraudulent accounting irregularities.

The company and its advisors are in communication with HMRC with the objective of addressing the petition.

The company continues to engage with its professional advisers to understand better the financial position of the Group and will make further announcements in due course.

Julian Jessop at the Institute of Economic Affairs says the latest GDP figures from the ONS suggest the UK economy is on course to grow by 0.6% in the third quarter (July to September).

That would be the fastest rate since the final quarter of 2016, when the economy grew by 0.7%.

ICYMI (I did), ONS data this morning suggest UK #GDP grew by 0.7% in the three months to August. Some special factors at play, but notable that economy is picking up again (#despiteBrexit). Best guess at Q3 growth now around 0.6% q/q.

Italy’s finance minister, Giovanni Tria, has attempted to ease investor concerns over the government’s plans to increase spending.

We will try to do everything we can to regain the confidence of markets.

Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, has been speaking about pay this morning at a conference in London.

Evidence for a “new dawn” in British wage growth after years of sluggish pay rises has strengthened over the past year, though the pace of the pick-up is likely to be limited, the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane said on Wednesday.

Haldane linked the modest forecast pick-up in pay with financial market expectations for the central bank to raise interest rates by about a quarter of a percentage point a year over the next three years.

The Treasury has responded to the latest GDP figures, and says the national debt is falling, so the government can spend more on public services and keeping taxes as low as possible.

Does this mean the chancellor Philip Hammond is planning to unveil tax cuts and spending increases? We’ll find out when he delivers the budget on 29 October.

We are building a stronger, fairer economy, and have made great progress repairing the public finances and helping more people into work.

Our debt is starting to fall, so we can spend less on debt repayments and invest more in public services, while keeping taxes as low as possible.

Lee Hopley, chief economist at the manufacturing trade body EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, says the UK economy returned to “business as usual in August”:

The main take away from today’s bumper crop of releases on the economy is that the UK saw a spurt of activity in June and July not seen since the end of 2016. Beyond that it seems that it’s back to business as usual more or less in August.

The underlying services picture looks to be slow and steady, the construction sector has recovered its weather-related losses from earlier in the year and manufacturing weakness is persisting in the second half of this year so far.

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour MP and shadow Treasury minister, says the ONS figures show the UK economy is underperforming:

This month’s GDP figures confirm that the economy continues to underperform under the Tories, with growth below its historical trend and real wages still below their 2010 levels.

Only Labour has a plan to transform our economy and boost real pay, with a £10 hour minimum wage and investment for the whole country.

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, says Brexit uncertainty is likely to be a drag on growth in 2018.

Overall, the pattern of UK growth this year has been heavily affected by the weather, with the unusually long and cold winter dampening growth in the first quarter while the relatively warm spring and summer boosted growth in the second and third quarters of the year.

But aside from these seasonal variations, the underlying trend is for moderate UK growth at a rate of around 1.5% per annum. This is somewhat below its longer term trend rate of around 2% and reflects the continued drag on business investment in particular from Brexit-related uncertainty. This seems likely to continue into the fourth quarter of 2018, when we expect some moderation of UK growth to around 0.3-0.4%.

The UK failed to grow in August according to the latest monthly estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

Zero growth followed a 0.4% rise in GDP in July, which was revised up from a previous estimate of 0.3%.

The economy continued to rebound strongly after a weak spring with retail, food and drink production and housebuilding all performing particularly well during the hot summer months. However, long term growth continues to lag behind its historical trend.

A large drop in imports of non-monetary gold alongside a jump in oil exports helped narrow our trade deficit with the world.

Britain is near the bottom of the international rankings for the strength of its public finances according to the IMF, ahead of only Portugal.

The figures show the UK government has £5tn in liabilities, but less than £3tn in assets, leaving it with a negative net worth of more than £2tn.

Related: UK public finances are among weakest in the world, IMF says

It’s a sea of red across European markets this morning, as investors struggle to find reasons to cheer.

Here are the latest scores:

Patisserie Valerie has some unsavoury news this morning. The bakery chain has uncovered irregularities in its accounts that are “potentially fraudulent”.

The firm has suspended Chris Marsh, its finance director, and its shares on AIM have been suspended from trading.

We are all deeply concerned about this news and the potential impact on the business. We are determined to understand the full details of what has happened and will communicate these to investors and stakeholders as soon as possible.

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

Global investors are on edge, as they wait to see how a number of major situations play out.

Uncertainty is prevailing in the financial markets, we are seeing more investors opting to wait and see how risks surrounding rising US treasury yields, global growth and China play out.

Near term risks to global financial stability have increased rapidly over the past few months. The markets have been relatively complacent, but we are starting to see an acknowledgement of these risks which is keeping traders on the side-lines.

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Shared inbox startup Front launches a complete redesign

Front is launching a major revamp today. And it starts with a brand new design. Front is now powered by React for the web and desktop app, which should make it easier to add new features down the road.

Front hasn’t pivoted to become something else. At heart, it remains a multiplayer email client. You can share generic email addresses with your coworkers, such as sales@yourcompany or jobs@yourcompany. You can then assign emails, comment before replying and integrate your CRM with your email threads.

But the company is also adding a bunch of new features. The most interesting one is the ability to start a thread with your team without having to send an email first. If a client sends you an email, you can comment on the thread and mention your coworkers just like on a Facebook post.

Many companies already use emails for internal communications. So they started using Front to talk to their coworkers. Before today, you had to send an original email and then people could comment on it. Now, you can just create a post by giving it a title and jumping to the comment section. It’s much more straightforward.

“We aren’t planning for all internal conversations to move to Front, but a lot of them very well could. A tool like Slack is often used for questions that don’t require the immediate response that Slack demands,” co-founder and CEO Mathilde Collin told me. “By bringing these messages into Front, we aim to reduce disruptions and help people stay focused.”

In other words, a Slack message feels like a virtual tap on the shoulder. You have to interrupt what you’re doing to take a minute and answer. Front can be used for asynchronous conversations and things that don’t need an immediate response. That’s why you can now also send Slack messages to Front so that you can deal with them in Front.

With this update, Front is making sharing more granular. Front isn’t just about shared addresses. You can assign your personal emails to a coworker — this is much more efficient than forwarding an email. Now, you can easily see who can read and interact with an email thread at the top of the email view.

If somebody sends an email to Sarah and Sam, they’ll both have a copy of this email in their personal inboxes. If Sarah and Sam start commenting and @-mentioning people, Front will now merge the threads.

As a user, you get a unified inbox with all your personal emails, emails that were assigned to you and messages assigned to your team inbox.

Finally, Front has improved its smart filtering system. You can now create more flexible rules. For instance, if an email matches some or all criteria, Front can assign an email to a team or a person, send an automated reply, trigger another rule and more.

The new version of Front will be available later this month. Once again, Front remains focused on its core mission — making work conversations more efficient and more flexible. The company doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel and still relies heavily on emails.

Many people (myself included) say that email is too often a waste of time. Dealing with emails doesn’t necessarily mean getting work done. Front wants to remove all the pains of this messaging protocol so that you can focus on the content of the messages.

Zenefits’ Parker Conrad returns with Rippling to kill HR & IT busywork

Parker Conrad likes to save time, even though it’s gotten him in trouble. The former CEO of Zenefits was pushed out of the $4.5 billion human resources startup because he built a hack that let him and employees get faster insurance certifications. But 2.5 years later, he’s back to take the busy work out of staff onboarding as well as clumsy IT services like single sign-on to enterprise apps. Today his startup Rippling launches its combined employee management system, which Conrad calls a much larger endeavor than the minimum viable product it announced while in Y Combinator’s accelerator 18 months ago.

“It’s not an HR system. It’s a level below that,” Conrad tells me. “It’s this unholy, crazy mashup of three different things.” First, it handles payroll, benefits, taxes and PTO across all 50 states. “Except Syria and North Korea, you can pay anyone in the world with Rippling,” Conrad claims. That makes it a competitor with Gusto… and Zenefits.

Second, it’s a replacement for Okta, Duo and other enterprise single-sign on security apps that authenticate staffers across partnered apps. Rippling bookmarklets make it easy to auth into over 250 workplace apps, like Gmail, Slack, Dropbox, Asana, Trello, AWS, Salesforce, GitHub and more. When an employee is hired or changes teams, a single modification to their role in Rippling automatically changes all the permissions of what they can access.

And third, it handles computer endpoint security like Jamf. When an employee is hired, Rippling can instantly ship them a computer with all the right software installed and the hard drive encrypted, or have staffers add the Rippling agent that enforces the company’s security standards. The system is designed so there’s no need for an expert IT department to manage it.

“Distributed, fragmented systems of record for employee data are secretly the cause of almost all the annoying administrative work of running a company,” Conrad explains. “If you could build this system that ties all of it together, you could eliminate all this crap work.” That’s Rippling. It’s opening up to all potential clients today, charging them a combined subscription or à la carte fees for any of the three wings of the product.

Conrad refused to say how much Rippling has raised total, citing the enhanced scrutiny Zenefits’ raises drew. But he says a Wall Street Journal report that Rippling had raised $7 million was inaccurate. “We haven’t raised any priced VC rounds. Just a bunch of seed money. We raised from Initialized Capital, almost all the early seed investors at Zenefits and a lot of individuals.” He cited Y Combinator, YC Growth Fund, YC’s founder Jessica Livingston and president Sam Altman, other YC partners, as well as DFJ and SV Angel.

“Because we were able to raise a bunch of money and court great engineers . . . we were able to spend a lot of time building this fundamental technology,” Conrad tells me. Rippling has about 50 team members now, with about 40 of them being engineers, highlighting just how thoroughly Conrad wants to eradicate manual work about work, starting with his own startup.

The CEO refused to discuss details of exactly what went down at Zenefits and whether he thought his ejection was fair. He was accused of allowing Zenefits’ insurance brokers to sell in states where they weren’t licensed, and giving some employees a macro that let them more quickly pass the online insurance certification exam. Conrad ended up paying about $534,000 in SEC fines. Zenefits laid off 430 employees, or 45 percent of its staff, and moved to selling software to small-to-medium sized businesses through a network of insurance brokers.

But when asked what he’d learned from Zenefits, Conrad looked past those troubles and instead recalled that “one of the mistakes that we made was that we did a lot stuff manually behind the scenes. When you scale up, there are these manual processes, and it’s really hard to come back later when it’s a big hard complicated thing and replace it with technology. You get upside down on margins. If you start at the beginning and never let the manual processes creep in . . . it sort of works.”

Perhaps it was trying to cut corners that got Conrad into the Zenefits mess, but now that same intention has inspired Rippling’s goal of eliminating HR and IT drudgery with an all-in-one tool.

“I think I’m someone who feels the pain of that kind of stuff particularly strongly. So that’s always been a real irritant to me, and I saw this problem. The conventional wisdom is ‘don’t build something like this, start with something much smaller,’ ” Conrad concludes. “But I knew if I didn’t do this, that no one else was gong to do it and I really wanted this system to exist. This is a company that’s all about annoying stuff and making that fucking annoying stuff go away.”