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A travel agent is trying to charge fees for sunbeds

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IN KEEPING with the trend for charging for things travellers used to get free, it should perhaps come as no surprise that sunbeds are the latest feature of a standard holiday on which travel agents are slapping extra fees. Thomas Cook, a British package-holiday firm, has announced that it will allow holidaymakers to pre-book poolside loungers for £22 ($31) per person. Six days before the start of a trip, travellers will get an email offering them the chance to reserve specific sunbeds. The booking tool will include a map that allows people to see where the sun will shine at various times of day. The experiment will start in late February at three hotels on the Canary Islands and will expand to 30 hotels this summer. To some holidaymakers, this will seem like yet another attempt by the trav

How to board a plane without a boarding pass

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EARLIER this month a woman arrived at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago without a ticket, boarding pass, or passport and flew to London. Prosecutors claim she did this by sneaking past officials from the Transportation Security Administration, a government agency responsible for airport security, while they were inspecting other travellers’ boarding passes. She was briefly thwarted when she tried to do the same thing at the boarding gate for a flight to Connecticut. But the gate agent caught her and asked her to sit down. After spending the night in the airport, she took the shuttle to the international terminal—again without the required boarding pass and passport—and got on a British Airways flight to Heathrow, where she was arrested on arrival.The woman, 66-year-old Marilyn Hartma

Why don’t foreign investors take fright more often?

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BACK in the days of the gold standard, central bankers were very concerned about the views of international investors. They believed that maintaining the value of their currencies would reassure creditors. That is why they were so resistant to the idea of floating currencies. Georges Bonnet, a French finance minister, put it bestWho would be prepared to lend with the fear of being paid in depreciated currencies always before his eyes?This fear still shows up from time to time. Under the old exchange rate mechanism, countries like Italy would undergo periodic devaluations to restore their competitiveness*. As a result, investors would demand a higher bond yield to compensate for this risk. When the single currency was planned, bond yields slowly converged on the German level as the risk of ...

Some hotels charge visitors for bad reviews

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TRAVELLERS have grown accustomed to annoying hidden fees, from the baggage charges that bring airlines tens of billions of dollars a year to the resort fees that account for nearly a fifth of American hotels’ revenue. But a new one that has popped up in recent years might be the most irksome of all due to its sheer perversity: fees for leaving bad reviews.Last March, a couple arrived at the suite they had booked at the Abbey Inn in Indiana only to find, they claim, a dirty bed, a foul smell, an insect infestation and no hotel employees on the premises to assist them. Upon leaving, they did what so many travellers do these days. They wrote an online review warning others about the hotel’s shortcomings. Sometimes, negative reviews prompt apologies and compensation from their subjects. But in

Financial regulators too often think “this time is different”

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FOR a phenomenon with such predictably bad outcomes, a financial boom is strangely seductive. Not a decade after the most serious financial crisis since the Depression, the world watches soaring markets with a mixture of serenity and glee. Natural impulses make finance a neck-snappingly volatile affair. Governments, though, deserve heaps of blame for policies that amplify both boom and bust. As regulators begin picking apart reforms only just enacted, it is worth asking why that is so.Finance is hopelessly prone to wild cycles. When an economy is purring, profits go up, as do asset values. Rising asset prices flatter borrowers’ creditworthiness. When credit is easier to obtain, spending goes up and the boom intensifies. Eventually perceptions of risk shift, and tales of a “new normal” gain

Droughts, storms and global demand tests America’s love affair with avocado

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Looking for the last avocadoALTHOUGH New Yorkers are not renowned for their patience, they do not seem to mind waiting their turn for a fresh serving of avocado. At Avocaderia, which claims to be the world’s first avocado bar, in Brooklyn, long queues stretch from the counter outward into a large food hall.The venue’s popularity is a sign of the times: the avocado is fast becoming America’s favourite fruit. Although domestic production has stayed flat, imports have more than trebled over the past ten years, according to the Department of Agriculture. It estimates that the annual consumption of the average American has increased from about one pound (0.5 kilograms) in 1989 to more than seven pounds in 2016; total consumption that year weighed in at 2.3bn pounds.America’s enthusiasm for avoc

Morgan Stanley’s unexciting model takes the prize on Wall Street

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MORGAN STANLEY emerged in 1935 out of a global financial disaster, as one of Wall Street’s leading firms. In a rare shred of consistency in America’s turbulent markets, history has repeated itself. But it was a close call. An ill-timed infatuation with debt ahead of the 2007-08 financial crisis threatened to add it to the industry’s towering funeral pyre, which consumed all its big competitors with the exception of Goldman Sachs.Of the two, Morgan Stanley came out of the crisis the more tarnished, less for what it did than for what it was: less profitable; less connected, through its former employees, to political power; and less respected for having evaded disaster. But after the release of financial results from the fourth quarter of 2017, Morgan Stanley’s valuation has surpassed Goldman

Richemont, the world’s second-biggest luxury firm, bets on digital

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Clickbait for plutocratsA YOUTUBE video featuring a woman sporting a gold watch and driving a convertible, which has been viewed online nearly 5m times. A social-media “influencer” with more than 11m followers on Instagram posting photos of herself wearing the same timepiece. A limited flash sale of the watch on Net-a-Porter, a website.Purveyors of pricey jewellery and watches have been slow to embrace things digital. But last year’s social-media campaign to relaunch Panthère, a watch made by Cartier, a French jeweller, is evidence that they are waking up to the power of the online world. On January 22nd Richemont, a Swiss luxury conglomerate that counts Cartier among its brands, offered to buy the shares it does not already own in Yoox-Net-a-Porter group (YNAP), a leading luxury online re