News US President Barack Obama pauses while making a statement about the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela in the briefing room of the White House

US politicians are closing in on a deal to ease the impact of spending cuts worth up to $200 billion (£122 billion) which are due to hit home next year, it emerged today.

The Week Ahead: Diageo to offer little cheer after weak sales

Analysts have voiced fears about further revenue slides at Diageo, which owns brands from Guinness to Baileys, when the world's largest drinks company reports first-half results on Thursday.

Public borrowing hits record high

Government borrowing rose to £20.3bn during November, a new monthly record, official figures revealed yesterday. However, economists said that public sector net borrowing had actually been slightly better than expected, with tax receipts higher than analysts had predicted.

Business Diary: How much for Knight to ride to the rescue?

British Bankers' Association chief executive Angela Knight was on her usual combative form yesterday over plans for a tax on bankers' bonuses. Does she get a bonus for spinning on behalf of the most unpopular people in the world? Difficult to know, since the BBA's own annual report includes not a single word on what staff at the organisation are paid.

Darling & Kroes: Our banks’ future in their hands

The Chancellor and the fearsome European business ‘referee’ lay down the banking law.

Questions Of Cash: 'Should NatWest have charged me 360 for a 5 error?'

Q. I had a bank account with NatWest for six years. In that time, I accidentally went overdrawn a couple of times but by no more than 5. Each time I was charged 28. On the last occasion, I complained and NatWest said it would review matters and contact me afterwards which has not happened. A year and a half ago I relocated to the US. Before moving away, I went 4 overdrawn by mistake. I paid this as soon as I noticed my error. But now I have received several threatening letters stating that I owe NatWest 332.59 in interest and charges. Can I do something against such disproportionate charges? HC, United States.

The most powerful woman in Europe?

Thousands of British jobs rest in the hands of Neelie Kroes, the EU Competition Commissioner, writes James Moore

David Prosser: The black horse dreams of freedom

Outlook Slowly but surely, Lloyds Banking Group is inching away from the Government Asset Protection Scheme. Its statement yesterday confirmed what has been an open secret for more than a month, that it is considering a huge rights issue as an alternative to GAPS. But the announcement also contained a couple of nuggets of new information. First, that the Financial Services Authority is prepared to sign off the fund-raising, and second, that negotiations with the European Commission are at a stage where Lloyds is confident enough about the outcome to say that any divestments it is told to make will not have a "material impact" on the group.

Market Report: Mitchells climbs higher as confidence rises

The pubs company Mitchells & Butlers firmed up last night after an HSBC survey suggested that fears of a prolonged slump in consumer behaviour might have been overdone.

Government to break up the banks

Lloyds, RBS and Northern Rock will be split up in state sell-off

ING unveils cash call and split plans

lNG, the bank bailed-out by the Dutch state, yesterday unveiled plans to split itself in two and raise €7.5bn (£6.9bn). The move will allow the company to pay back €5.9bn of its €10bn loan from the Netherlands early.

The best interest rates come with strings attached

Savers need to read the small print before they put their money to work, as Alessia Horwich reports

Alonso backs 'crash' win as sponsors quit

Renault are rocked by two major companies pulling out after race-fixing scandal

ING drops fund for investors in infrastructure

Ambitious scheme launched last year fails to attract sufficient critical mass in volatile market

The Week Ahead: Insurer Aviva could cut dividend, says ING

The dividend will be in focus when the FTSE 100-listed insurer Aviva posts its interim results on Thursday, with some in the City forecasting a cut.

Market Report: Fundraising concerns weigh on Barratt

Barratt Developments was in focus last night after a leading broker weighed in, anticipating further land writedowns, which in turn may necessitate a capital raising.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn