Newspaper headlines: Inflation below zero, bad day for James Bond and Ukraine truce

The prospect of inflation falling below zero for the first time in half a century makes headlines.

Some papers see the positives, with the Metro seizing on Bank of England Governor Mark Carney's suggestion that interest rates could also fall. It points out: "That would help borrowers already benefiting from record lows."

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Likewise, the Times predicts "boom time" for families. It says a projected doubling of average pay rises to 3.5% will help people "feel richer this year than they have for more than a decade as spending power soars".

As the Financial Times notes, Mr Carney told reporters a period of deflation would be "unambiguously good" for the UK. However, in an interview to the Daily Telegraph, he warns: "Enjoy it while it lasts... for this will go away over the course of the next year." The Telegraph says: "The prospect of 'bad deflation' - falling prices driven by stagnant wages and deficient demand... does not appear to be the foremost of Mr Carney's concerns."

However, that's exactly what the Daily Mail warns about when it gives the example of Japan, which endured a "lost decade" in the 1990s and continues to battle deflation today. "This hits corporate profits, investment, wages and jobs - further denting already weak demand and economic growth," the paper explains. In the Daily Mirror's view, "the spectre of falling prices" would cause "jitters" for Chancellor George Osborne.

And the Daily Express points out another potential downside, saying any further lowering of interest rates would mean savers being subjected to "more misery".

Eye-catching headlines

  • "Final frontier... teaching aliens the rules of cricket" - Members of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence want to send something other than "mathematical concepts" into space, says the Daily Express
  • "Vinnie's El of a geezer" - the Daily Star reviews ex-footballer Vinnie Jones's internet Spanish tutorials that teach Brits phrases like: "Excuse me pal, can I have another beer?"
  • "Collectors lured by kiss from Margaret Thatcher" - a red lipstick print left on a paper napkin in the former PM's changing room when she prepared for a speech is being sold for nearly £2,000, says the Times
  • "Coming to your breakfast table, the inside-out egg" - a Japanese chef spins eggs, using centrifugal force to push the yolk outside the white, before hard-boiling them, says the Daily Mail

Avoiding controversy

The Guardian once again fills three pages with details of files leaked from HSBC's Swiss unit, this time claiming the bank "concealed large sums of money for people facing allegations of serious wrongdoing, including drug-running, corruption and money laundering".

But the rest of the press focuses on the resultant spat between Labour leader Ed Miliband and Conservative donor - and former party treasurer - Lord Fink. For the unacquainted, the Financial Times profiles the latter. It calls him a "quietly-spoken Mancunian" multimillionaire who was "dubbed the 'godfather' of the British hedge fund industry". He was, it says "reluctantly" drawn into a political dogfight when Mr Miliband referred to his "tax avoidance" in the Commons, in relation to the HSBC revelations.

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As the Independent reports, the peer's initial angry response - threatening to sue the Labour leader if he repeated the claims outside Parliament - was followed by "embarrassment" for the Conservatives as he admitted taking "vanilla, bland" steps to reduce his tax bill. "None of your tutti frutti pistachio mint chocolate chip tax advice with a flake in it for Lord Fink," says Telegraph sketchwriter Michael Deacon.

However, the peer's suggestion that "everyone does it" angers the Daily Mirror. The paper says it proves "the elite who bankroll David Cameron live on another planet" and are "all in it together when it comes to avoiding tax". While the Independent reckons it was "advantage Miliband" in the verbal duel, the Sun warns: "We hope, as he slings mud over tax avoidance, that Ed Miliband is sure his own team and donors are whiter than white on it."

As though to prove the point, the Daily Mail's front-page headline reads: "Red Ed the tax avoider." Mr Miliband, the paper says, was "forced to defend his own tax affairs" after his family was accused of using a "deed of variation" to divide ownership of their home. Using this legal tool was described as "tax abuse" by his predecessor Gordon Brown, the Mail recalls. Mr Miliband has said it was "something my mother did 20 years ago" and that he'd paid tax - avoiding none - as a result of the transaction.

'Maimed' Bond

It's a bad day for James Bond actors past and present, it seems. While the first official images of 007 actor Daniel Craig on the set of Spectre in the Austrian Alps are described as "incredible" in the Daily Mirror, they are the butt of jokes in the Daily Star. Craig has been "mocked for looking like the Milk Tray Man" in his all-black outfit and shades, the paper says. It reminds readers of the commercial with a mysterious black-clad man who battled the elements to leave a box of chocolates for his girlfriend.

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And all's not well on set, according to the Sun. "Daniel Craig's knee knack is giving James Bond more grief than Oddjob and Jaws combined," it says, under the headline: "Bond filming? Doctor: 'No.'" Craig has been forced to miss vital filming sessions after hurting himself while shooting a fight scene, the paper says, adorning the image of Craig with a speech bubble reading: "The name's Bond... Maimed Bond."

Neither is Lady Luck shining on his predecessor Pierce Brosnan, with reports that the garage of his beachside mansion in Malibu, California, went up in flames. It took 50 firefighters to put out the blaze but no-one was hurt, says the Mirror as it puns: "Bond star's garage burns down... but he gets to Drive Another Day."

'Glimmer of hope'

The French, German and Russian leaders may have agreed a new ceasefire in Ukraine but, as the Express points out, "war rages on" with reports of heavy shelling in the country's east. And others are sceptical as to how long the truce - scheduled to start on Sunday - will last. For the Telegraph it offers "a glimmer of hope but not peace". Its editorial notes: "In essence, it is the same deal that was agreed at Minsk last autumn but which quickly fell apart."

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"There may well be a kind of peace in Ukraine over the coming days, but it will be on terms largely set by the Kremlin, argues the Times. "No deadline has been set for the withdrawal of 'foreign armed formations' - a reference to some 9,000 Russian troops believed to be active on Ukrainian soil. Nor was there any mention of Crimea, which has been annexed by Moscow."

Still, for Mary Dejevsky - writing in the Independent - the third ceasefire in six months offers "the best chance yet to bring peace". She says: "It provides for Ukraine to remain a single state within its current border... [and] enshrines a measure of constitutional autonomy for the territory held by anti-Kiev rebels in the east."

The Guardian argues that for the ceasefire to last, European leaders must "learn how to manage" Russian President Vladimir Putin. What's needed, it says, is "something that could be presented in Russia as a victory of sorts but would in fact be, and be internationally understood to be, a serious compromise".

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