Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 23rd 2014 Contents A30
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DETROIT---Subcompact cars fared poorly in new
crash tests performed by an insurance industry
None of the 12 minicars tested got the highest rating
of "good" from the Insurance Institute for Highway
Safety. The Chevrolet Spark was the only car that
earned the second-highest rating of "acceptable." Six
of the cars---including the segment s best-seller, the
Nissan Versa---got the lowest rating of "poor."
All of the cars were from the 2013 or 2014 model
"Small, lightweight vehicles have an inherent safety
disadvantage. That s why it s even more important
to choose one with the best occupant protection,"
said Joe Nolan, IIHS s senior vice president for vehicle
The institute s small overlap test, which was intro-
duced in 2012, mimics what happens when a car s
front corner collides with another vehicle or an object
like a utility pole. In the test, 25 per cent of a vehicle s
front end on the driver s side strikes a rigid barrier
at 40 mph (64 kph).
The test differs from the US government s frontal
crash test, in which a car strikes a rigid barrier head-
on at 35 mph (56 kph).
IIHS says hitting only part of the front end makes
it harder for cars to manage the energy from a crash.
In several of the subcompacts, the structures collapsed,
which can exacerbate injuries because the air bags,
seats and other parts get knocked out of position.
In the test of the Honda Fit, for example, the
steering column pushed so far into the vehicle that
the dummy s head slid off the air bag and hit the
instrument panel. IIHS said the Fit was one of the
worst performers in terms of potential injuries to the
Honda responded that the 2015 Fit, which goes on
sale in a few months, should earn a top score on the
small offset test. The recently redesigned Honda Civic,
which is one size up from the Fit, is among five small
cars with "good" ratings on the test. A four-door
Civic is around 300 pounds(136 kilogrammes) heavier
and 18 inches(45.7 centimetres) longer than the current
The current Fit does get top scores in the institute s
other four tests, including measurements of roof
strength and side impact protection.
IIHS said the Fiat 500 was also one of the worst
performers. The crash force ripped the door hinges
off the 500, causing it to fall open during the test.
Spokesman Eric Maybe said the Fiat 500 meets all
government safety requirements and, like the Fit, gets
"good" ratings in all four of the institute s other crash
Cars with "marginal" ratings were the Kia Rio,
Mazda2, Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta. Cars with
"poor" ratings---in addition to the Fit, the Fiat 500
and the Versa---were the Toyota Prius C, Mitsubishi
Mirage and Hyundai Accent. (AP)
LONDON---Britain s unemploy-
ment rate has dropped more than
expected, edging closer to the point
at which the Bank of England will
consider raising interest rates.
The Office of National Statistics
said yesterday the unemployment rate
in the three months ended November
30 fell to 7.1 per cent, down 0.5 per-
centage points from the previous peri-
od. The drop was bigger than analysts
had estimated, a result of the econ-
omy s unexpectedly strong recovery.
The government was elated, declar-
ing that the drop affirmed that its
long-term economic plans were work-
ing. Advocates for the disadvantaged
noted that wages failed to grow, and
raised concerns about economic
growth being equitably spread.
The drop in the jobless rate is being
watched closely in markets because
Bank of England Governor Mark Car-
ney has said the bank will reassess
its monetary policy when the unem-
ployment rate declines to seven per
cent---though he has been at pains to
note this is a threshold, not a trig-
ger.Minutes from the bank s January
monetary policy committee meeting
suggest that policymakers may refrain
from taking action even after crossing
that threshold, with central bankers
saying there was "no immediate need"
to raise rates. While Britain s economic
recovery is strengthening, wage and
productivity growth have been weak,
the bank said.
"Members therefore saw no imme-
diate need to raise Bank Rate even if
the seven per cent unemployment
threshold were to be reached in the
near future," the minutes said. "More-
over, it was likely that the headwinds
to growth associated with the after-
math of the financial crisis would
persist for some time yet and that
inflationary pressures would remain
When the time does come to
increase the interest rate from its
record low of 0.5 per cent, "it would
be appropriate to do so only gradually,"
according to the minutes. The voting
was unanimous to keep policies
unchanged in January.
Market reaction to the unemploy-
ment report was modest, with the
pound rising 0.3 per cent against the
dollar. Tighter monetary policy tends
to boost the value of a currency.
Andrew Goodwin, senior economic
adviser to the EY ITEM Club, said
there was no question the bank would
change its guidance on interest rates.
"Today s labour market figures are
the final nail in the coffin of the seven
per cent threshold," he said. "The
unemployment rate is set to fall below
seven per cent in the next few months,
more than two years earlier than the
Bank had initially expected."
Goodwin predicted that the thresh-
old will be lowered to 6.5 per cent,
and that policymakers should not stop
there, and add a condition based on
real wage growth.
"As the minutes make clear, there
is no prospect of a rate rise in the
near future." He said. "Raising interest
rates too soon, before real wages have
begun to improve and growth has
broadened out, could risk choking off
the fragile consumer led recovery."
Matthew Whittaker, senior econ-
omist at the Resolution Foundation,
said that while the drop was good
news, there was "no corresponding
good news on pay with average earn-
ings continuing to fall in real terms".
"The long wait for a pick-up in
wages goes on and while some ana-
lysts think 2014 will be the year of
the pay rise, there are no signs of that
happening yet," he said. (AP)
UK jobless drop
on central bank
Subcompact cars fare
poorly in crash tests
This photo provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows the Chevrolet Spark during a crash
test. The Spark is the only minicar to earn an acceptable rating in the small overlap front test. AP PHOTO
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