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The 9 at 9: Monday

Nine things you really need to know by 9am: Lenihan voted Europe’s worst finance minister; semi state bosses to escape pay cuts, and a live stunt on German TV goes horribly wrong.

Every morning, TheJournal.ie brings you nine things you really, really need to know with your morning coffee.

1. #CRINGE: Brian Lenihan has been voted the worst finance minister in Europe. In the Financial Times’s annual ranking, he scored lowest of 19 finance ministers, while Germany’s Wolfgang Schäuble was ranked best. (Well, at least we made it to the semi finals of X Factor.)

2. #BRRRR: Black ice and freezing fog continue to make driving conditions difficult around the country today.

3. #INDEPENDENTS: Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae will name their price for supporting the government today, on the eve of one of the toughest and most critical budgets for many years. The issue of cuts to ministerial pay and pensions is believed to be among the most pressing for them.

4. #PAY: Mary Coughlan confirmed on RTE’s The Week In Politics that ministerial pay and pensions will be cut, as part of a package which is likely to see a pay cap of €250,000 applied across the public sector, including the semi-states. But the Examiner and Irish Daily Mail report this morning that this will apply only to future appointments in the semi- states and not to the pay of the existing chief executives. The reports suggest that the Cabinet has received legal advice which said that the pay cap cannot be applied retrospectively.

5. #BUDGET 2011: Ibec has called for the Budget to put the public finances onto a more sustainable footing, reform labour market rules to help create new jobs. But it makes no recommendations on lowering fees in the professional services areas, which remain at ‘bubble levels’, according to some reports. Meanwhile, there’s public support for cuts to overseas aid and arts funding, according to a survey by the Examiner. Other speculation suggests that families with three children will face a cut of €40 in child benefit, while the employee PRSI ceiling is likely to abolished and property-based tax reliefs scrapped.

6. #WIKILEAKS: A long list of key facilities around the world that the US describes as vital to its national security has been released by Wikileaks. Meanwhile,  cables have revealed one reason why China became so obsessed with Google – they had begun googling themselves, and didn’t like what they found.

7. #BONDHOLDERS: AIB’s bondholders are preparing to sue the Irish government. The Telegraph reports that the investors, who include some of the world’s largest fixed-income pension and insurance funds, held talks on Friday about taking the Irish government to court if it forces a second round of haircuts on the value of subordinated debt issued by Allied Irish.

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8. #USA: Financial experts are warning that the world’s next major financial crisis is not to come from Europe, but from the US – where several states including Illinois and California face bankruptcy. The New York Times reports that no state has defaulted since the Great Depression, and only a handful of cities have ever declared bankruptcy. “But the finances of some state and local governments are so distressed that some analysts say they are reminded of the run-up to the subprime mortgage meltdown or of the debt crisis hitting nations in Europe,” the newspaper warns.

9. #GERMANY: A live stunt on German TV, in which a contestant was supposed to somersault over five cars including one driven by his dad,  went horribly wrong , leaving the contestant critically injured. During the show, Wetten, Dass? – which means ‘Bet on This’ -  23 year old Samuel Koch was wearing protective gear and shoes with specially loaded springs. Officials believe the shoes malfunctioned as he hit the ground, leaving him with severe spine and head injuries, in front of a live audience of 10 million people.

About the author:

Jennifer O'Connell

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