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Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng is due to meet bankers today in an effort to calm nerves after his mini-budget spooked the markets and sent the pound crashing.

Sky News understands he will ask financiers not to bet against the pound, which has fallen to record lows against the dollar in recent days.

He is also expected to underline his commitment to fiscal discipline and will talk about a “Big Bang 2.0 event” from his growth plan.

Politics live: Kwarteng holds call with nervous Tory MPs

The government has denied he will be asking bankers not to short the pound.

The chancellor is facing international pressure to change course after he unveiled the biggest programme of tax cuts for 50 years in his mini-budget last Friday.

In an extraordinary statement on Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it was “closely monitoring” developments in the UK and urged Mr Kwarteng to “re-evaluate the tax measures”.

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It said that the plans, including the abolition of the 45p rate of income tax for people earning more than £150,000, are likely to increase inequality.

The Bank of England (BoE) has signalled it was ready to significantly ramp up interest rates to shore up the pound and guard against increased inflation.

The chancellor has insisted he is “confident” his strategy will deliver the promised economic growth.

Last night he spoke by phone to Tory MPs at a time of growing anger on the backbenches over the government’s strategy.

IMF hits out at mini-budget – live updates.

Some have been openly expressing concerns about the new economic approach, and the effect it has had on financial markets, saying the party risks trashing its reputation for managing the economy with voters.

Veteran Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale says that another financial crash may be on the way.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, he said the situation amounts to a “perfect storm”.

He added: “I’m sadly old enough to remember the last financial crash.

“When… people would come into the surgery in tears because they were losing homes and they were losing businesses.

“It was not a pretty sight and I don’t want to see it happen again.”

Chancellor defends budget in phone call with Tory MPs

Sky News understands that the chancellor stood by his decision to cut taxes for the highest earners on his call yesterday, telling MPs “it was a tough choice but the right choice”.

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Sky’s economics and data editor Ed Conway takes a look at the most recent numbers on the pound’s volatility.

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He argued his fiscal strategy was focused on the medium-term, and was aimed at showing voters “we can be more efficient in how we spend taxpayers’ money”.

He went on to say that the economic situation would be better in 2024, before what he said was always going to be a “tricky” general election – with Labour currently surging ahead in the polls.

He told MPs that he was establishing a “good working relationship” with the governor of the Bank of England and was in daily contact with him.

He also acknowledged that markets had been volatile but said they were now “settling down” and argued the turmoil reflected a frustration that the markets had not known everything that was included in the mini-budget.

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Sam Bankman-Fried: Founder of bankrupt crypto firm FTX breaks his silence, with thousands locked out of savings




Sam Bankman-Fried: Founder of bankrupt crypto firm FTX breaks his silence, with thousands locked out of savings

A crypto entrepreneur says his net worth has fallen from $26.5bn to $100,000 after his company imploded.

Sam Bankman-Fried admitted it has been a “bad month” after FTX collapsed into bankruptcy, leaving thousands of people frozen out of their savings.

The 30-year-old – who once positioned himself as a saviour for stricken firms – has been accused of misusing customer funds and moving $10bn out of the company in secret.

To make matters worse, reports suggest that at least $1bn has vanished.

But speaking at the New York Times’ DealBook summit, he insisted that he has never tried to commit fraud, and said he was “shocked” at how things unfolded.

FTX now has fresh management as it navigates bankruptcy, with its new CEO declaring that he had never seen “such a complete failure of corporate controls” during his 40-year career.

It has been claimed that funds belonging to FTX users was mixed with funds at Alameda Research, a trading firm that Bankman-Fried also ran.

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FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange that operated around the world, collapsed as panicked traders pulled $6bn out of the company in just three days after a series of bombshell allegations.

Speaking via video link from the Bahamas, Bankman-Fried said he now has “close to nothing” following his company’s failure – and is down to one working credit card.

He has admitted that his businesses “completely failed” when it came to risk management, and said this was “pretty embarrassing in retrospect”.

“Whatever happened, why it happened, I had a duty to our stakeholders, our customers, our investors, the regulators of the world, to do right by them,” Bankman Fried added.

While the embattled entrepreneur believes that American users should be able to get their money back in full, Bankman-Fried has warned in other interviews that international customers may only get 20% to 25% of the money they had locked into FTX.

A number of companies in the cryptocurrency sector have collapsed in recent months, coinciding with a sharp drop in the value of Bitcoin.

Some businesses have been accused of offering interest rates on savings that were simply too good to be true, while others have been likened to “Ponzi schemes”.

The Bahamas has now launched a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding FTX’s demise.

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HSBC to close dozens more bank branches




HSBC to close dozens more bank branches

HSBC has announced plans to shut a further 114 UK branches – over a quarter of its surviving sites.

The UK-based but mainly Asia-focused bank said those affected would be shut from April next year.

The decision, as the wider banking sector has consistently claimed over many years, is the result of the surge in online banking.

It has led to declining demand for over-the-counter transactions with HSBC saying that some of those to be shut were dealing with fewer than 250 people per week.

It was unclear, at this stage, what the closures would mean for jobs.

The bank said it was to invest tens of millions of pounds in updating and improving its remaining branch network, which will total 327 once the closures have been completed.

Jackie Uhi, HSBC UK’s managing director of UK distribution, said: “People are changing the way they bank and footfall in many branches is at an all-time low, with no signs of it returning. Banking remotely is becoming the norm for the vast majority of us.

“The decision to close a branch is never easy or taken lightly, especially if we are the last branch in an area, so we’ve invested heavily in our ‘post-closure’ strategy, including providing free tablet devices to selected branch customers who do not already have a device to bank digitally, alongside one-to-one coaching to help them migrate to digital banking.”

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Joules administrator on brink of rescue deal with Phase Eight-owner Foschini




Joules administrator on brink of rescue deal with Phase Eight-owner Foschini

The administrator to Joules, the collapsed fashion retailer, is on the brink of a rescue deal with the South African owner of Phase Eight.

Sky News has learnt that The Foschini Group (TFG) is close to securing an agreement to buy the majority of Joules’ stores and assets.

One source said a deal could be struck as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

If completed, it is likely to see roughly a quarter of Joules’ 132 shops closed, with the loss of “several hundred” jobs.

A more precise figure for store closures and redundancies could not be identified, with Interpath Advisory, the administrator, refusing to comment.

It remains possible that an alternative buyer such as Next or Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group could yet trump TFG’s interest with a last-ditch offer.

TFG, which also owns the women’s fashion brands Hobbs and Whistles, had been in discussions with Joules for several weeks about investing in the business prior to it calling in administrators this month.

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Based in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, Joules operates a total of 132 stores across the UK, employing over 1,600 people.

Its stores have remained open during the administration process.

Will Wright, head of restructuring at Interpath and joint administrator, said earlier this month that Joules was “one of the most recognisable names on the high street, with a unique brand identity and loyal customer base”.

“We have had an overwhelming amount of interest from interested parties.

“We will be working hard over the days ahead to assess this interest, but at this stage we are optimistic that we will be able to secure a future for this great British brand.”

Joules had been in talks with Next about a strategic investment earlier in the autumn but the two sides were unable to agree the terms of a deal as the smaller company’s share price continued to sink.

It then hired Interpath to consider an insolvency procedure – known as a company voluntary arrangement – that would have allowed it to slash its overheads through store closures, rent reductions and job cuts.

Joules said in August that it was aiming to secure an equity investment of about £15m, after warning that it would deliver a loss bigger than previous market expectations.

It also appointed Jonathon Brown, a former John Lewis and Kingfisher executive, as its new CEO.

Joules has been listed on the London stock market since 2016, having been founded in 1989 when Tom Joule began selling clothes from a country show stall in Leicestershire.

TFG could not be reached for comment.

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