Consulting

Is your Business Heading Off a Fiscal Cliff?

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By Anthony Soukenik, Sandbergphoenix & von Gontard P.C.

Now that we've had a chance to exhale after watching the media blur coverage of the government's fiscal cliff fiasco, if you're a small business owner, this is a good time to ask yourself if your own business is fiscal cliff-proof. Corporate governance and succession planning has no sense of urgency. The deadlines are ever so random, often determined by the sudden death or debilitating illness of the small business president, a natural disaster or the random departure of a trusted key employee or partner.

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Consulting

Spring forecast for EU countries cautiously optimistic

The 2013 Spring Forecast from the European Commission on May 3, 2013 anticipates the end of the previous year's recession. As such, the economy in the EU is to stabilize in the first half of 2013, before slowly progressing into a period of increased growth in the second half of the year. While initially it is export that is driving GDP growth, the Commission expects a higher proportion of internal demand in 2014.

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Standard for inter-generational justice sought

According to a study by the Bertelsmann foundation, if the rate of child poverty in a country lies above the rate of poverty among the elderly, this is an indicator of inter-generational injustice. It also indicates a higher consumption of living resources at the expense of the next generation. Both indicators, along with the national debt per child, were investigated by the foundation in 29 OECD countries.

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Consulting

Account as fundamental European right

On May 8, 2013, the European Commission proposed a draft directive that is to enable every EU citizen to make cashless payments, by setting up a bank account. According to a current study, within the Member States of the EU around 58 million residents above 15 years of age do not have their own bank account, in spite of the fact that cashless payments are continually increasing in significance.

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Consulting

The Affordable Care Act – It'S Time To Start Counting Hours

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By Melissa Weaver and Julie Song, Brooks Pierce

The 2010 enactment of the Affordable Care Act ("ACA" or the "Act") ushered in an enormous social reform effort aimed at improving the nation's health care system through a series of mandates, premium subsidies, and taxes. Although the full impact of the Act will not be known for years to come, its intended goals were to expand health insurance coverage and to reduce costs. After much discussion and debate, as well as legal challenges all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, implementation of the ACA is upon us. As a result, employers must comply with the Act's myriad requirements, the most significant of which become effective on January 1, 2014. Regulatory guidance is pouring forth, and it is not too early for employers to determine how the rules of the Act apply to their businesses. In fact, employers with calendar-year plans may want to take action as soon as next month.

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Consulting

Standardisation of External Border Security for the Schengen States Continues

With the Schengen Accord, the free movement of persons was won as a major, visible accomplishment for citizens as border controls between the member states were eliminated. Now the standardised exchange of information at the external borders of the Schengen contract territory is intended to compensate for the possible loss of security due to the elimination of internal borders. This will be accomplished with the Schengen Information System (SIS), which is now being implemented in its second generation.

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Large Wage Differential in Europe

The average wage costs between the EU states differ by a factor of ten. Bringing up the rear in terms of labour costs per hour are Bulgaria at EUR 3.70, Romania at EUR 4.40, Lithuania at EUR 5.80 and Latvia at EUR 6.00. The leader is Sweden with an average hourly wage of EUR 39.00. These figures for last year were presented on 10 April 2013 by Eurostat, the EU statistical office. Accordingly the statistical average wage in the European Union is EUR 23.40 per working hour and EUR 28.00 in the 17 states of the Eurozone.

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EU Plans to Crack Down on Dumping Imports

The EU Commission presented its proposal to combat dumping and government-subsidised imports on 10 April 2013. Plans are in place to modernise the system to protect against unfair trade practices of foreign companies, which has remained largely unchanged since 1995. The proposals merely require the consent of the European Parliament and Council.

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Luxury goods on the edge?

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By Urban B. Eberle and Eduard Werder, Bank Alpinum

Is the boom in the luxury goods sector coming to an end? Investors were stunned by the subdued forecasts for the current year issued by consumer goods groups including LVMH and Richemont. The weakening of momentum in China, in particular, is raising a few concerns. Is it time to beat a retreat from the luxury goods sector?

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Consulting

Relief from EU Consequential Costs for SMEs

The EU Commission has determined that the 20.8 million small to midsize enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union employ two-thirds of the workforce and are responsible for 85 percent of new jobs that are created. Yet EU legislative acts often place a burden on them in particular. On 20 March 2013, the EU Commission took a first step to provide relief for SMEs by lowering fees for chemicals.

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