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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Prices correct as of 28 November 2014
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game