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In France, over 20,000 swimming pools were discovered (and taxed) in a matter of months. It’s AI’s fault

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In France, over 20,000 swimming pools were discovered (and taxed) in a matter of months.  It's AI's fault

Since October, French finance has raised more than 10 million euros in taxes and expects to add 40 more in the coming months.

France, like other countries, is experiencing a historic drought. For many, swimming pools are a refreshing relief from the heat – by the way, according to the latest figures, there are 3.2 million swimming pools in all of France. But with the increase in the number of pools, there are also more stringent checks from the authorities … and artificial intelligence.

Swimming pools are subject to value-added taxation on the property they are built into, so those that are not declared constitute tax evasion, which is currently being combated by an artificial intelligence system developed by the multinationals Google and Capgemini. From aerial photographs, artificial intelligence can detect what it interprets as the outlines of swimming pools on private property, and then compare that to the original database. After “blaming” artificial intelligence, the owners have 90 days to correct the situation.

Since the system was first used in October last year, some 20,356 undeclared pools have been discovered. The tax authorities have announced that they have recovered about 10 million euros in taxes from nine French regions, but they hope to raise another 40 million euros into the state treasury by 2023.

The next step “generalizesystem throughout France, although artificial intelligence is not always infallible. In some cases, the solar arrays read like swimming pools, in others it was impossible to recognize any structure covered with trees. Finance, praises the system and expresses its intention to apply it to other undeclared areas such as balconies and pergolas.

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“But we have to make sure that software can find buildings with a large area, and not a dog house or a children’s playhouse, ”he warned.

Disputed basins on another issue – drought

With the devastating drought in France, private pools were already controversial for other reasons.

Several environmental associations have protested the use of the water for recreational purposes at a time when many French villages lack potable water dependent on the delivery of water from other parts of the country. Farmer groups have also warned that food shortages caused by the drought will be especially severe in the coming winter.

Ecology Europe Greens national secretary Julien Bayou sparked controversy when he said he would not object to a ban on private swimming pools if drought periods got worse and more frequent. Later on the social network Twitterclarified: “The goal is not to ban swimming pools, but to guarantee our basic water needs.”

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Economy

Amortize loans or invest? see solution

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Amortizar créditos ou investir? Veja a solução

















At the end of July, there were 82.7 billion euros of customer deposits in the vaults of Portuguese banks. The data was released by Banco de Portugal (BdP) and represents the highest value ever, up 7.2% compared to the same month in 2021.

The amount that can lead the Portuguese to make a decision: to pay off debts associated with a loan, namely housing, or to invest in financial investments. But before you make a decision, do some math, because it’s not always easy to choose the best solution.

Between amortization and investment, the consumer can always save either through the interest he stops paying on the loan or through the income from the investment. Of course, in the first place in the analysis should be the profile of the family and what they value most: whether it is reducing expenses when paying off a mortgage or personal loan, whether it is the security of future times.

In the case of mortgages, given the low interest rates currently practiced, in most cases it is not worth paying, especially if the spread is very low – a common situation for loans taken up to five or six years ago.

In this case, the money will do more good if it is invested in a risk-free application, but then the challenge is to find the product with the best rate of return (see column on the side). However, if the Euribor rises, depreciation may be the best option. In the case of a personal loan, it is almost always preferable to amortize it due to the high interest rates involved.

How to compare rates The first golden rule is to compare interest rates on a loan and an investment product annually, as the situation can change in a short time.

The formula is simple: analyze the interest rate applied to the loan – TAN (index rate plus spread) – and also take into account the rate of the application you are about to file, TANL (net nominal annual rate). To better understand this analysis, consider the TAN of a loan as the cost you incur for the loan and TANL as the return on investment. Knowing the two rates, choose amortization if TAN is higher than TANL, since the savings realized in interest payable on the loan will be greater than the return on investment.

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If you have a fixed rate mortgage, in principle you don’t have to worry about rate fluctuations as a result of the Euribor hike, making comparisons easier. However, keep in mind that in this case, the fee for early repayment is higher: 2% compared to 0.5% for floating rate loans.

If you repay part of the debt, it must match the payment due date. If the reimbursement is motivated by death, unemployment or business travel, it is exempt from commissions. Banks may not charge additional fees or increase the penalty to the maximum on contracts that provide for a lower percentage or exemption. And these rules apply to new and old contracts, for the purchase, construction and work in own and permanent housing, resale or lease and acquisition of land to build your own home.

Indeed, with a partial repayment of 20,000 euros, the commission cannot exceed 100 euros for a loan with a variable rate and 400 euros for a loan with a fixed rate. You have up to seven working days to inform the bank by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt.

However, if you have an adjustable rate mortgage with a spread of up to 2.5%, then you can invest in a risk-free application (see column on the side), capitalizing on interest to increase income. In the case of a personal loan, amortization is almost always the best alternative.

Risk free investment products

Annual returns of 3%, 4% or even 5% on guaranteed capital and low-risk savings products are a thing of the past. The interest currently charged is at a low level and there are banks that no longer pay out term deposits. However, look at the alternatives.

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Term deposits

If the simplicity of this savings product is one of its strengths, then the reward rate offered makes the app less and less attractive. Although it has been losing followers in recent years, it is still one of the favorite savings instruments of the Portuguese.

Consumers’ low monthly income, competition from other savings products, and reward cuts explain this downward trend.

Savings certificates

This product, which in previous years was considered a real alternative to savings, is increasingly losing ground due to the low rate of return. It is calculated based on the three-month average Euribor observed over the previous ten business days plus 1%. But expect small rewards.

Treasury Growth Savings Certificates

The interest rate increases: 0.75% (gross interest) is paid in the first and second years, which rises to 1.05% in the third year, 1.35% in the fourth, 1.65% in the fifth and 1.95% in the fifth year. sixth, to reach 2.25% last year. From the 2nd year, the interest rate increases by a premium, depending on the real average growth of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Investment Tips

1. Consider the unexpected

Monetize added value. Before investing, consider whether you really need this money. If you come to the conclusion that you don’t need it, you can start using that extra money to make the best use of it. Don’t forget that you should set aside three to six months of money for household expenses so that you can deal with any unforeseen circumstances. This applies, for example, to health care costs.

2. Investments for the long term

Stock market. Always think long term, especially if you are thinking about betting on the stock market. The explanation is simple: the more time you spend on your investments, the more you can risk and the more you can monetize. You should invest for at least five years – ten years is good, 20 years is even better so that the amount invested in stocks is maximum and can minimize temporary losses.

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3. Don’t invest everything in the same

Diversify your investments. Not putting all your eggs in one basket is one of the golden rules you should follow when thinking about investing. This means that you do not have to own only one security or securities of companies whose profits depend on a similar business. In the event of a change in the legal regime, your assets may undergo profound changes.

4. Don’t bet on something you don’t understand.

Information. If you don’t understand the product a company is selling, don’t buy stock. If you want to invest in government debt but don’t understand how Treasury bonds work, buy savings certificates. If you do not understand the description of the investment policy in the fund’s prospectus, do not subscribe. If the term deposit offered to you has an interest rate formula, exchange it for a deposit with a simple interest rate.

5. Don’t go into debt

Compare offers. It is a mortal sin for an investor to finance himself in order to invest. If your investment depreciates, the loan has a loss multiplier effect. If your investment grows, the loan will absorb the effect of profits. Whatever the outcome, investment loans never work. Only one entity always wins: the bank, regardless of whether the investor wins or loses.

6. Consider your profile

Take a risk or not. If you have a conservative profile, the investor intends to keep the amount invested and choose low-risk products. If you are moderate, you are already ready to take significant risks in investments and your choice, for example, in real estate funds. If he is dynamic, he takes on high risk in stock decisions and bets.



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Economy

Do you want to apply for a home loan? Banks will limit the maximum amount they are allowed to lend to 30%

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Do you want to apply for a home loan?  Banks will limit the maximum amount they are allowed to lend to 30%

The increase in Euribor rates will limit the maximum amount banks are allowed to lend, and cuts could be around 30% as early as next month, Público reported on Monday. Debt reduction will also particularly affect those with lower incomes or less savings, who, subject to current regulations, will be required to guarantee at least 10% of the purchase price of the property, in addition to transaction costs. .

The duration of contracts, limited by the age of persons at the time of applying for a loan, is another factor that makes it difficult to access new loans. According to Eupago’s modeling, a loan intermediary, a couple aged 30 with a net monthly income of 1,800 euros, without inheritance or other loans, could receive a loan of 226 thousand euros in January last year, payable at the age of 37. . But a rate hike of 2% would mean that the same couple would only be able to fund themselves by 163,500 euros in September – 28% less. If the increase in Euribor reaches 2.5%, a value that can be reached next month, the amount will drop to 154.2 thousand euros.

The reasons? First, the increase in Euribor rates associated with most new home loans in Portugal, as well as the limits imposed by the Bank of Portugal since 2018 (when Euribor rates were negative) to limit the risk of household over-indebtedness. Banco de Portugal should not change the formula for calculating DSTI with a 3% increase, but says it is monitoring the situation. “As a macroprudential body, it monitors macroeconomic and financial developments and will continue to monitor compliance with the recommendation, as well as promote changes to it, always with the aim of improving its effectiveness,” the regulator told the daily newspaper.

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DHL with ‘great difficulty’ invests $50 million in Lisbon

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DHL with 'great difficulty' invests $50 million in Lisbon

Portugal could be a “much bigger gateway” for DHL’s business than it is today, said Dinheiro Vivo, CEO of DHL Express John Pearson, on the sidelines of the 2022 Trade Growth Atlas launch in Brussels, noting that there are business opportunities in the country’s largest distribution and logistics group in the world. However, the group has been trying “for years” to set up a new logistics terminal in Lisbon, but to no avail.

“We have been trying for many years with the ANA and the airport administration to create a new infrastructure, I think we are close to this. Our planes,” he emphasizes. DHL has grown “very fast” and has a “very healthy business with a very high market share” in Portugal, with good prospects “especially in the consumer segment”, which Pearson said could create “more terminals and jobs”.

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