Sunday, 28 February 2010

Merkel sorgt sich um Euro-Stabilität: Sorgen wegen der Krise in Griechenland

NZZ ONLINE: Die deutsche Bundeskanzlerin Merkel macht sich wegen der Krise in Griechenland Sorgen um die Stabilität des Euro. Zugleich verneinte sie, dass Deutschland mit Milliardenbeiträgen helfen werden.

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel sorgt sich wegen der griechischen Finanzkrise um die Stabilität des Euros. «Der Euro ist sicherlich in seiner schwierigsten Phase seit seinem Bestehen», sagte die CDU-Chefin am Sonntag in der ARD. Die Schwierigkeiten müssten nun an den Wurzeln angepackt werden, und diese seien das hohe Staatsdefizit und die verloren gegangene Glaubwürdigkeit Griechenlands. Keine deutschen Milliardenhilfen >>> ddp | Sonntag, 28. Februar 2010
Griechenland: Verbraucher rufen zum Boykott deutscher Produkte auf

ZEIT ONLINE: In Griechenland wächst die Wut auf Deutschland: Auf Flugblättern wird zum Boykott deutscher Produkte aufgerufen, Abgeordnete fordern gar Kriegsreparationen.

In Griechenland herrscht Wut auf Deutschland: Die Tageszeitung Eleftheros Typos veröffentlichte gar eine Fotomontage mit einem Hakenkreuz auf der Berliner Siegessäule. Eine Reaktion auf ein Titelbild des Focus, das die "Venus von Milo" mit einem Stinkefinger zeigt. Bild: Zeit Online

In Griechenland breiten sich anti-deutsche Emotionen aus. Im Parlament in Athen forderten Abgeordnete der kommunistischen und der ultra-konservativen Opposition, die griechische Regierung müsse Deutschland zu Reparationszahlungen für den Zweiten Weltkrieg auffordern. Vize-Regierungschef Theodoros Pangalos hatte Deutschland bereits vor einigen Tagen vorgeworfen, im Zweiten Weltkrieg griechisches Gold gestohlen und damit die Wirtschaft ruiniert zu haben.

Sein Chef, Ministerpräsident Giorgios Papandreou, versuchte zu beruhigen. Auf die Frage von Oppositionspolitikern, ob er bei seinem Besuch in Berlin das Thema Reparationszahlungen ansprechen werde, sagte Papandreou im Parlament, das werde er nicht tun. "Wir haben unsere Forderungen nie aufgegeben", fügte er hinzu. Aber die Gelegenheit, dies anzusprechen, sei angesichts der augenblicklich schwachen Position Griechenlands nicht opportun. "Wenn wir dies (die Reparationen) heute auf die Tagesordnung setzen würden, dann würden viele es als eine neue Ausrede, einen neuen Versuch interpretieren, von unseren Problemen abzulenken." Griechenland müsse seine Probleme mit Hilfe seiner Partner in der EU lösen. Die Bundesregierung wies die Vorwürfe zurück, die Entschädigungszahlungen Deutschlands seien nicht vollständig geklärt. >>> Zeit Online, dpa, Reuters | Freitag, 26. Februar 2010

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Greek Rescue in Danger as Deputy Prime Minister Attacks 'Nazi' Germany

THE TELEGRAPH: Greece has greatly damaged its chances of an EU bail-out by lashing out at Germany over war-time atrocities and accusing Italy of cooking its books to hide public debt.

The escalating dispute came as a general strike in Greece spilled over into violent clashes between hooded youths and riot police in Athens. Chants of "burn the banks" are a foretaste of tensions once austerity measures bite in earnest later this year.

Public and private sector unions joined forces to bring the country to a standstill for 24 hours, halting flights, trains, and shipping, and shutting schools and hospitals.

Theodoros Pangalos, deputy prime minister, said Germany had no right to reproach Greece for anything after it devastated the country under the Nazi occupation, which left 300,000 dead. "They took away the gold that was in the Bank of Greece, and they never gave it back. They shouldn't complain so much about stealing and not being very specific about economic dealings," he told the BBC.

Twisting the knife further, he said the current crop of EU leaders were of "very poor quality" and had botched this month's crisis summit in Brussels. "The people who are managing the fortunes of Europe were not up to the task," he said.

One banker said the situation was surreal. "How can they call the Germans incompetent Nazis and still expect a bail-out?"

Mr Panagalos has gone even further than premier George Papandreou, who said Greece had become a "guinea pig" for squabbling eurocracts playing power games.

Athenian rhetoric has confirmed fears in North Europe that the ruling PASOK party is still in denial about the crisis and will not deliver on promises. The insults have caused bitterness in Germany, increasing the possibility that Europe's paymaster will lose patience and leave Greece to its fate after all. >>> Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor | Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Greece Grinds to a Halt Amid Strikes (Video) / Scharfe Attacke aus Griechenland gegen Deutschland / In Krise wollen Griechen deutsches Geld wegen Nazi-Besatzung / La Grèce paralysée par la grève générale >>> | Wednesday, February 24, 2010
MPs Blast 'Ridiculous' Pay in RBS Bonus Row

TIMES ONLINE: Politicians rounded today on Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), the state-owned lender, over its decision to pay up to £1.7 billion in bonuses to bankers despite making a £3.6 billion loss during 2009.

The bank announced today that it would pay investments bankers from a £1.3 billion bonus pool while other staff would share in a £400 million reward.

George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, said that bankers’ pay had reached “ridiculous levels”, adding: “We have just got to look at the whole banking sector and try to bring this pay down.”

RBS’s loss for the 12 months to December 31 is less than the £5 billion expected and far below the £24.3 billion loss that RBS reported for 2008, a record for any British company.

But Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said: “RBS rewarding individual bankers is like a football team paying their striker for scoring when they’ve just been relegated."

RBS is 84 per cent owned by the British taxpayer after receiving billions of pounds of rescue funds from the state during the recession to save it from collapse.

The UKFI, the body set up by the Government to manage the state’s investment in British banks, yesterday granted RBS permission to pay the bonuses. >>> Francesca Steele | Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Swiss Tourism Website Goes Arabic

ARAB NEWS: JEDDAH: Switzerland Tourism on Tuesday launched an Arabic version of its website for the benefit of the large number of people from the Middle East who wish to visit the country.

"This has been done to meet the requirement of our growing number of tourists from the Middle East and Arab world," Jorg P. Krebs, Switzerland Tourism's director markets for Gulf, India, Russia, Nordic countries, the Czech Republic and Poland, told a press conference at the Jeddah Hilton.

The country has been receiving a great number of inquiries about education and health care facilities, aside of course from tourism. "It is against this background that Swiss Tourism now provides all information in Arabic," Krebs said, adding that the website already provides information in 30 other world languages.

Krebs added that the country's "comprehensive, elaborate and excellent" facilities for education and health care in particular have been attracting a large number of Saudis and expatriates from the Kingdom. Demand for Switzerland's language schools, high schools and universities is growing from this part of the world. Also, the GCC visitors favor our destinations because of the country's solid tourism infrastructure and facilities that suit the Muslim world, he said. "We have tailor-made facilities for Ramadan with chalets, holiday apartments and starred hotels," he said, adding that the country today boasts 45,000 holiday apartments and 3,500 starred hotels for tourists. >>> K. S. Ramkumar, Arab News | Tuesday, February 23, 2010
London Sharia Bank Targets Well-off Gulf Clients

REUTERS: LONDON - Sharia-compliant Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME) is targeting the thousands of rich Gulf residents who spend part of the year in London, to boost its private banking arm, its head told Reuters.

Britain's largest stand-alone sharia bank aims for deposits in the wealth management unit -- launched a year ago -- to make up 20-25 percent of its total, from 5-10 percent currently, Chief Executive Humphrey Percy said on Tuesday.

"This is what we are targeting and it will take three to five years to achieve that," he told the Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit in London.

The bank does not disclose how much it holds in client assets. It is targeting clients with a net worth more than 1 million pounds ($1.57 million), who can commit at least 250,000 pounds.

Percy also said the bank is about to launch an Internet banking service aimed at less wealthy clients who can deposit around 50,000 pounds or more, targeting deposits of 50 million pounds within a year.

The bank, which fully complies with Islamic principles, was founded in 2006 with the backing of Kuwaiti investors, including Boubyan Bank (BOUK.KW). >>> Cecilia Valente and Chris Vellacott, additional reporting by Claire Milhench, editing by Rupert Winchester | Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Aston School to Step Up Research on Islamic Finance

FINANCIAL TIMES: Dubai-based trading company Surgi-Tech has awarded Aston Business School £1.5m to set up an Islamic Finance and Business Centre at its campus in Birmingham.

The centre will allow Aston to increase teaching and research into Islamic finance, which has been expanding as Muslims seek alternatives to Western finance that are compliant with sharia law. >>> Jonathan Guthrie | Monday, February 15, 2010
Thanks for the Bailout! Wall Street Bonuses Up 17 Percent: DiNapoli

NEW YORK POST: ALBANY, N.Y. — Wall Street bonuses were up 17 percent to over $20 billion in 2009, the year taxpayers bailed out the financial sector after its meltdown, New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said today.

Total compensation at the largest securities firms grew beyond that figure and profits could surpass what he calls an unprecedented $55 billion last year, DiNapoli said. That's nearly three times Wall Street's record increase, a rate of growth that is boosted in part by the record losses in 2008 of nearly $43 billion, the Democrat said.

"Wall Street is vital to New York's economy, and the dollars generated by the industry help the state's bottom line," said DiNapoli. "But for most Americans, these huge bonuses are a bitter pill and hard to comprehend. ... Taxpayers bailed them out, and now they're back making money while many New York families are still struggling to make ends meet." >>> AP | Tuesday, February 23, 2010
L'économie mondiale a-t-elle besoin de plus d'inflation ?

LE MONDE: Elle est la bête noire des banquiers centraux depuis plus d'un quart de siècle : l'inflation, source d'instabilité et frein à la croissance, dont les effets néfastes doivent être combattus en contenant la hausse des prix en deçà de 2 %. Mais ce dogme des autorités monétaires, "vache sacrée" de la macroéconomie mondiale, pourrait être remis en question à la faveur de la crise.

Le Fonds monétaire international (FMI) vient de rouvrir le débat. Son chef économiste, Olivier Blanchard, s'est interrogé sur l'opportunité de faire passer de 2 % à 4 % l'objectif d'inflation des banques centrales pour pouvoir mieux contrer, à l'avenir, une chute brutale de l'activité.

"Les décideurs devraient-ils viser un taux d'inflation plus élevé en temps normal, afin d'accroître la marge de manoeuvre de la politique monétaire ?", avance M. Blanchard dans une note de recherche publiée mi-février. L'idée ? Donner plus de "mou" aux autorités monétaires pour soutenir la croissance en cas de futur choc. >>> Marie de Vergès | Mardi 23 Février 2010
Proteststürme gegen Spaniens Sparpläne: Gewerkschaften im Kampf gegen Rentenerhöhung auf 67 Jahre

NZZ ONLINE: Die spanische Regierung hat einen strammen Sparkurs vorgegeben, damit das Land nicht zum nächsten «Fall Griechenland» wird. Die Gewerkschaften laufen nun gegen die Erhöhung des Rentenalters Sturm. Ab heute auch auf Spaniens Strassen.

Der disziplinierende Druck der Finanzmärkte und die Angst, das nächste Griechenland zu werden, hat die sozialistische Regierung Spaniens unter Ministerpräsident José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero zu einem einschneidenden Sparkurs veranlasst. Zapatero will in den nächsten drei Jahren 50 Mrd. Euro sparen.

Die Massnahmen sind in der Bevölkerung nicht populär: Am meisten Widerstand löst die geplante Erhöhung des Rentenalters von 65 auf 67 Jahre aus. Zudem läuft eine neue Berechnungsgrundlage im Pensionssystem letztlich auch auf eine Kürzung der Bezüge hinaus. In einer Umfrage auf dem Online-Portal der spanischen Zeitung «El País» sprechen sich 79 Prozent der Leser gegen die Erhöhung des Rentenalters aus. >>> Von Marco Metzler | Dienstag, 23. Februar 2010

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Is Capitalism Dead? Naomi Klein and Joseph Stiglitz on Economic Power (The Graduate Center, CUNY)

Stephen Hester Lines Up £1.6m RBS Bonus

RBS cheif executive Stephen Hester. Photograph: The Sunday Times

THE SUNDAY TIMES: Taxpayer banks set to report £12bn losses as bosses agonise over their big bonus payouts

STEPHEN HESTER, chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, is in line to collect a bonus of up to £1.6m despite the bank posting losses of several billion pounds.

Talks over the bumper payout are expected to reach a conclusion within days and could be announced alongside the bank’s results later this week.

Although the 49-year-old has yet to make a final decision on whether to accept the pay deal, it is understood that the conditions in his contract would permit a large payout.

The deal comes amid continuing controversy over bonuses at taxpayer-backed banks. RBS, 84%-owned by the state thanks to huge injections of government funds, will confirm this week that it is to pay out £1.32 billion in bonuses to its investment bankers.

Lloyds Banking Group is expected to award £200m to its staff and is on a collision course with investors over a bonus for Eric Daniels, its chief executive.

The payments come against a stark financial backdrop at the two banks. Lloyds and RBS are expected to post combined losses of about £12 billion this week, following enormous charges for bad debts. >>> Iain Dey and Dominic O’Connell | Sunday, February 21, 2010
The New Poor: Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs

THE NEW YORK TIMES: BUENA PARK, Calif. — Even as the American economy shows tentative signs of a rebound, the human toll of the recession continues to mount, with millions of Americans remaining out of work, out of savings and nearing the end of their unemployment benefits.

Economists fear that the nascent recovery will leave more people behind than in past recessions, failing to create jobs in sufficient numbers to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed.

Call them the new poor: people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives — potentially for years to come.

Yet the social safety net is already showing severe strains. Roughly 2.7 million jobless people will lose their unemployment check before the end of April unless Congress approves the Obama administration’s proposal to extend the payments, according to the Labor Department.

Here in Southern California, Jean Eisen has been without work since she lost her job selling beauty salon equipment more than two years ago. In the several months she has endured with neither a paycheck nor an unemployment check, she has relied on local food banks for her groceries.

She has learned to live without the prescription medications she is supposed to take for high blood pressure and cholesterol. She has become effusively religious — an unexpected turn for this onetime standup comic with X-rated material — finding in Christianity her only form of health insurance.

“I pray for healing,” says Ms. Eisen, 57. “When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got to go with what you know.” >>> Peter S. Goodman | Saturday, February 20, 2010
Moscow Meets Fleet Street: Can a Russian Oligarch Save the British Press?

SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERNATIONAL: Alexander Lebedev sees himself as the savior of Britain's struggling newspaper industry. He already owns the Evening Standard and is in talks to buy The Independent. But some suspect the Russian oligarch has ulterior motives.

Alexander Lebedev is sitting in the television studio of a Moscow news station. He is in demand on this particular morning. He likes being in demand, and he likes being asked questions.

Lebedev has just sold his share of Russia's state-owned airline Aeroflot, with the personal blessing of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in a deal worth €300 million ($411 million). The news caused something of an uproar in Moscow and elsewhere.

The Russian magnate is suddenly flush with cash, a fact that has the media abuzz in faraway London. The British papers suspect that Lebedev, 50, and his son Evgeny, 29, have now obtained the necessary cash that will allow them to finally buy the prestigious British daily The Independent.

"What nonsense. That amount of money is enough to buy the entire British press," says Lebedev, laughing, as he quickly pushes open the studio door. >>> Isabell Hülsen and Matthias Schepp | Friday, February 19, 2010

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Staatsschulden: Deutschland erwägt Milliardenhilfe für Griechen

WELT ONLINE: Die übrigen Euro-Länder erwägen, das verschuldete Griechenland mit einer Milliardenhilfe zu unterstützen. Laut einem Magazinbericht könnte allein Deutschland mit bis zu fünf Milliarden Euro einspringen. Deutschen Banken drohen Verluste wegen Finanzgeschäften mit Griechenland und weiteren Staaten.

Die Hilfen der Euro-Gruppe für Griechenland könnten nach einem „Spiegel“-Bericht ein Volumen zwischen 20 und 25 Milliarden Euro erreichen. Das Nachrichtenmagazin bezieht sich auf „erste Überlegungen“ des Bundesfinanzministeriums.

Auf Deutschland könnten demnach vier bis fünf Milliarden Euro entfallen. Ein Sprecher des Ministeriums nannte den Bericht eine Spekulation und die darin genannten Angaben zu „konkreten Überlegungen“ der Länder der Eurogruppe unzutreffend. „Im Finanzministerium gibt es keinerlei Festlegungen dazu. Dies gilt auch in Bezug auf Spekulationen des Spiegel zu konkreten Hilfsinstrumenten“, sagte der Sprecher von Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) weiter. >>> dpa/lac/oht | Samstag, 20. Februar 2010
Shaykh Abdulqadir as-Sufi: The Bankers' World War

Shaykh Abdalqadir >>>


Radical Muslim Leader Has Past in Swinging London >>> Barney Henderson | Saturday, February 20, 2010
Sales Slump Awakens Spectre of Recession

TIMES ONLINE: The coldest winter since 1979 combined with the end of discounted VAT to send high street sales plummeting in January, according to new figures.

The data from the Office for National Statistics has stoked fears that the economy could be heading towards a double-dip recession.

The volume of goods sold by retailers fell by 1.2 per cent last month, the biggest fall since June 2008 and more than double the 0.5 per cent decline economists had expected.

The headline sales figure, including petrol and diesel for the first time, dropped by an even larger 1.8 per cent.

The data ended a dismal week of updates on the economy and pushed sterling to a nine-month low against the dollar.

Analysts said the figures did not bode well for the coming year. >>> Graínne Gilmore, Economics Correspondent | Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday, 19 February 2010

Obama's Controversial Stimulus Puffed Up Growth

Obama Defends Stimulus Program

Staatskrise: Griechenland braucht eine Revolution

ZEIT ONLINE: Weil Premier Papandreou trotz drastischem Sparkurs beliebt ist, sollte ihn Brüssel erstmal gewähren lassen. Denn die Griechen wissen es: Ihr Leben auf Pump ist vorbei.

Der Minister stritt in Brüssel für sein Land, derweil das Land gegen sich selbst kämpfte. In der EU-Zentrale versuchte Finanzminister Giorgos Papakonstantinou seine Amtskollegen davon zu überzeugen, dass Griechenland beim Sparen gut vorankommt. Zuhause in Athen demonstrierten seine Beamten das Gegenteil. Hier in der griechischen Hauptstadt reichen sich die Staatsangestellten die Streikstaffel weiter. Erst waren es die Zollbeamten, dann die Finanzkontrolleure im Ministerium, dann die Steuereintreiber, am Ende die Taxifahrer. Sie alle warnen ihre Regierung: Kürzen dürft ihr, aber nicht bei mir!

Wie viel Aussicht haben die griechischen Versprechen, dauerhaft zu kürzen und zu sparen? Wann darf die Eurozone mit besseren Nachrichten aus Athen rechnen? >>> Von Michael Thumann | Freitag, 19. Februar 2010

NZZ ONLINE: Griechenland-Szenario könnte weiteren Ländern drohen: BIZ warnt vor globaler Schuldenkrise >>> sda/Reuters | Freitag, 19. Februar 2010
Britain at Risk of Worse Deficit Crisis Than Greece

THE TELEGRAPH: Britain is at risk of a Govenment deficit crisis worse than that of Greece, sparking serious fears over the economic stability of the country.

In surprise news which sent the pound sliding on Thursday, official figures showed that the Government borrowed £4.3 billion last month.

It was the first time since 1993 that the public finances had gone into the red in January – a month in which tax revenues usually push the Exchequer into the black.

Economists said that the scale of the shortfall in the budget could this year mount to above £180 billion – higher than even the Chancellor’s forecast of a record £178 billion.

Such a deficit would, at 12.8 per cent of British gross domestic product, be even greater than the deficit faced in Greece, which is facing a full-scale fiscal crisis and may need to be bailed out by fellow euro nations or the International Monetary Fund. >>> Edmund Conway and James Kirkup | Thursday, February 18, 2010

TIMES ONLINE: On borrowed time: shock deficit threatens UK recovery >>> Francis Elliott and Gráinne Gilmore | Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday, 18 February 2010

StanChart to Launch Islamic Commodity Derivative

REUTERS: DUBAI - Standard Chartered Bank Saadiq (STAN.L) expects to launch an Islamic commodity derivative in the first quarter, the bank's chief executive said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit, Afaq Khan said the bank was in advanced discussions with counterparties in the Middle East, including trading companies and government entities, to launch the product.

"Basically if you want to hedge oil rice, wheat, sugar or steel, we will be in a position to offer that in a sharia complaint manner," he said.

Khan said the bank had spent about 15 months creating the product, which will be endorsed by the bank's sharia board. >>> Reporting by John Irish, Tamara Walid, Shaheen Pasha and Rachna Uppal; Editing by Louise Heavens | Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Der Euro lebt

NZZ ONLINE: Langfristiger Aufwärtstrend der Währung bis jetzt ungebrochen

Steht der Euro kurz vor dem Exitus? Wer die Schlagzeilen der vergangenen Tage verfolgte, könnte beinahe diesen Eindruck bekommen. Aufgrund der Verschuldungssituation von Ländern wie Griechenland sprechen einige Pessimisten bereits vom möglichen Auseinanderbrechen der Euro-Zone. Zwar steht die europäische Gemeinschaftswährung in der Tat derzeit wohl vor der grössten Bewährungsprobe seit ihrer Einführung. Doch von einem Einbruch oder gar einer Währungskrise ist der Euro noch weit entfernt. Dies zeigt schon ein einfacher Blick auf den Wechselkursverlauf von Euro und Dollar. >>> ra. | Donnerstag, 18. Februar 2010
McQueen’s Legacy Uncertain as Accounts Show Fashion House Had £32m Liabilities

TIMES ONLINE: His dramatic creations dazzled the catwalks for a decade, but the legacy of the fashion designer Alexander McQueen could be decided on the basis of a balance sheet.

An indication of the future of his fashion label will be given this morning — a week after the designer’s apparent suicide — by the French luxury group that controls his name.

McQueen’s eponymous brand struggled to make a profit and had millions of pounds of liabilities at the time of his death.

Analysis of the most recent accounts of McQueen’s British companies show that their current liabilities totalled more than £32 million. Although founded in 2001, the brand did not break even until 2007 and made a relatively small profit in 2008, before the world banking crisis that hit many high-end fashion companies.

A court was told yesterday that the designer was found hanged in a wardrobe at his apartment in Mayfair, Central London, the day before his mother’s funeral. A handwritten note was found nearby.

McQueen had discussed his legacy shortly before his death, saying: “I’m 40 now. When I’m dead, hopefully this house will still be going.” >>> David Brown | Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

11,5 Millionen Arme in Deutschland

BERLINER ZEITUNG: DIW: Anstieg seit 1998 um ein Drittel / Besonders Kinder und Jugendliche betroffen Westerwelle verlangt Umbau des Sozialstaats / Debatte bestimmt politischen Aschermittwoch

Berlin - Jeder siebte Bürger in Deutschland lebte 2008 an der Grenze zur Armut oder war arm. Das waren 11,5 Millionen Menschen und damit rund ein Drittel mehr als noch vor zehn Jahren. Das belegt eine gestern vom Deutschen Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung vorgelegte Studie, die zugleich dem Streit über Harz IV und die Ausgestaltung des Sozialstaates neue Brisanz gab. Die Debatte prägte auch die Veranstaltungen zum politischen Aschermittwoch. >>> | Donnerstag, 18. Februar 2010

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Euro Rebounds After EU Pledge to Support Greece

TIMES ONLINE: The euro rebounded in early trade today as European finance ministers prepared to begin a second day of talks on Greece’s debt crisis after telling the country that it has 30 days to prove its austerity plan will work or introduce new measures to control its deficit.

The European single currency jumped to $1.3757 by afternoon in New York from $1.3600 late Monday after assurances from EU states that Greece could count on their support if the situation showed no signs of improvement.

However, finance ministers said that Greece would have to prove that it was on track to meet its target of cutting its deficit by four percentage points this year or come up with further measures.

The offer of further help came after Greece warned that last week’s offer of support by EU leaders may not be enough calm market anxiety about Greece and other governments in the region, such as Spain and Portugal.

However, Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister and chairman of the finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels, said: “Financial markets are completely wrong if they think they can destroy Greece.” >>> Peter Stiff | Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Nordkorea: „Ein Monatsgehalt für ein Kilo Tomaten“

DIE PRESSE: Nordkorea feierte am Dienstag den 68. Geburtstag von Machthaber Kim Jong-il. „Die Presse“ sprach mit der früheren Leiterin der deutschen „Welthungerhilfe“ in Pjöngjang über die Zustände vor Ort.

Aus Nordkorea kamen am Dienstag wieder die bizarren Bilder von Aufmärschen von Soldaten, Tänzerinnen, Kindern und sonstigem Jubelvolk in Reih und Glied mit viel Luftschlangen, Feuerwerk und Frohgesang. Grund: Kim Jong-il, seit 1994 der oberste Führer und, wie es bei einer Parade in Pjöngjang hieß, „brillanteste Befehlshaber der heutigen Zeit“, feierte pompös seinen 68. Geburtstag.

Dabei ist das Land, dessen einzige Joker die Atombombe und der Waffenexport sind, bettelarm und isoliert, Industrie und Landwirtschaft sind zerrüttet, ohne Finanz- und Lebensmittelhilfe von außen ginge kaum etwas. „Die Presse“ sprach mit der früheren Leiterin der deutschen „Welthungerhilfe“ in Pjöngjang, Karin Janz (50), über die Zustände vor Ort. Sie verließ Nordkorea vor kurzem nach fünfjähriger Arbeit, ist eine der besten Kennerinnen des Landes und erhielt sogar von der Regierung einen Orden. >>> Von Jutta Lietsch (Die Presse) | Dienstag, 16. Februar 2010
Sheikh Shady Al-Suleiman: What Islam Says About Riba (Interest or Usury)

Monday, 15 February 2010

Greece Refuses EU Austerity Measures Demand

TIMES ONLINE: The Greek Government looked set on a collision course with the European Commission today as its finance minister denied demands that it needed to take further austerity measures to cut its debt.

Hours ahead of a two-day meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels, being held to scrutinise Greece's existing plan to cut is deficit, Olli Rehn, the new EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs said: "Our view is that risks... are materialising, and therefore there is a clear case for additional measures.”

But George Papaconstantinou, the country’s Finance Minister, said the EU needed to show more support to Greece instead of expecting more detailed austerity measures.

He said: “If we announce today new measures, will that stop markets attacking Greece?

“My guess is that what will stop markets attacking Greece at the moment is a further more explicit message that makes operational what has been decided last Thursday at the European council."

Mr Papaconstantinou said Greece “is doing enough” to reduce its public deficit from 12 per cent to 8 per cent of GDP this year, under emergency fiscal cuts submitted to the European Commission which EU finance ministers are examining.

He said: “We are trying to change the course of the Titanic, it cannot be done in a day.” Although, he added: “If additional fiscal measures are needed, we will take them.” >>> Robert Lindsay | Monday, February 15, 2010

Saturday, 13 February 2010

How Much Does a Grecian Urn?

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Greece's dysfunctional economy is now at the heart of a rescue effort that could be disastrous for the entire continent—and the rest of the world.

Plutus, the Greek god of wealth, did not have an easy life. As the myth goes, Plutus wanted to grant riches only to the "the just, the wise, the men of ordered life." Zeus blinded him out of jealousy of mankind (and envy of the good), leaving Plutus to indiscriminately distribute his favors.

Modern-day Greece may be just and wise, but it certainly has not had an ordered life. As a result, the great opportunity and wealth bestowed by European integration has been largely squandered. And lower interest rates over the past decade—brought down to German levels through Greece being allowed, rather generously, into the euro zone—led to little more than further deficits and a dangerous buildup of government debt.

Now Plutus wants his money back. Europe is entering unprepared into a serious economic crisis—and the nascent global recovery could easily collapse due to the unsustainable and Ponzi-like buildup of government debt in weaker countries.

At the end of the G7 meeting in Canada last weekend, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told reporters, "I just want to underscore they made it clear to us—they, the European authorities—that they will manage this [Greek debt crisis] with great care."

But the Europeans have not been careful so far. The issues for troubled euro zone countries are straightforward: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain (known to the financial markets, and not in a polite way, as the PIIGS) had varying degrees of foreign- and bank credit-financed rapid expansions over the past decade. In fall 2008, these bubbles collapsed. >>> Simon Johnson and Peter Boone | Saturday, February 13, 2010
'Timid' EU Must Not Make Us Fight This Battle Alone, Says Greek Prime Minister

THE GUARDIAN: Lack of united support blamed for creating a pyschology of imminent collapse / Tentative response fails to impress markets as data shows eurozone stagnating

George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister. Photo: The Guardian

George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister, today slammed the EU for displaying "timidity" in its dealings with the country as it grappled with its worst financial crisis in a decade.

In a live address to his cabinet following his return from yesterday's emergency summit in Brussels, the normally mild-mannered leader hit out at the lack of united support from the EU, saying the foot-dragging had exacerbated the load for debt-ridden Greece which has been hammered by markets in recent weeks.

"Greece is not a political or an economic superpower to fight this alone. The EU gave political support in the last few months of this crisis, but in the battle against impressions and the psychology of the market it was at the very least timid."

The union had, he said, been fragmented by multiple voices, differences and diverging statements. "There was speculation about our country which created a psychology of imminent collapse, prophesies which risked becoming self-fulfilling," he said. "There was a lack of co-ordination between various bodies of the union, the commission, the member states, the European Central Bank, even different opinions within those bodies."

EU leaders also failed to impress the financial markets with their tentative response to the Greek debt crisis and suffered another blow from fresh data today showing the eurozone economy stagnated in the last quarter.

With governments declining to put flesh on the bones of plans to rescue Greece from sovereign default, if need be, the markets again rounded on the euro, taking it to a nine-month low against the dollar at $1.3606 this morning.

Despite the market fever, however, leaders across the EU are quietly relaxed about the fall as they view the single currency as too strong. They are privately hoping for an adjustment against the dollar to boost European exports, not least in Germany, the world's champion exporter until recently overtaken by China. >>> Ian Traynor in Brussels, Julia Kollewe, and Helena Smith in Athens | Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Kommentar: Die Hilfe für Griechenland muss dem Land weh tun

WELT ONLINE: Der griechische Staat hat nicht nur unverantwortlich gewirtschaftet, er hat auch über Jahre hinweg systematisch seine Bilanz gefälscht. Deswegen ist es ein Fehler, dass sich die EU-Staaten auf eine Rettung Griechenlands verständigt haben, ohne die Bedingungen konkret festzuzurren, zu denen das geschehen soll. >>> Von Clemens Wergin | Donnerstag, 11. Februar 2010
Grèce : Georges Papandréou, l’homme de la rupture

Le premier ministre grec Georges Papandréou. Crédits photo : Le Temps

LE TEMPS: Le premier ministre grec a déjeuné mercredi avec Nicolas Sarkozy et a répété sa détermination à réformer son pays. Son style politique tranche avec celui de ses prédécesseurs

Il incarne une nouvelle génération d’hommes politiques. Elu avec une très confortable majorité, il promet, dès le début de son mandat, de changer son pays en lançant des réformes ambitieuses. Aujourd’hui, bien qu’il soit toujours très populaire, des milliers de citoyens descendent dans la rue pour contester déjà sa politique. Son nom: Barack Obama? Non, Georges Papandréou.

Le premier ministre grec est soumis ces jours à une pression extrême de l’Union européenne et des marchés en raison de la grave crise financière que connaît la Grèce et qui secoue la zone euro. Le pays a une dette de 300 milliards d’euros et un déficit public de 12,7% du PIB. Mercredi, pour desserrer l’étau dans lequel son pays est pris, le chef du gouvernement grec a répété au président français Nicolas Sarkozy, lors d’un déjeuner de travail à l’Elysée, sa détermination à «prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires» pour sortir la Grèce de ses lancinants problèmes structurels.

A 57 ans, Georges Papandréou dont le père Andreas et le grand-père Georges furent aussi des premiers ministres, n’est pas de nature à se décourager par les premiers mouvements sociaux dans les rues des villes grecques. Féru de fitness et de vélo, mais aussi soucieux d’une alimentation saine, il a l’énergie de celui qu’une vision titille, pousse à l’action. Il ne craint pas l’adversité. Son frère Nicholas se souvient: «Quand il était ministre des Affaires étrangères, Georges était déjà prêt à dialoguer, mais aussi à durcir le ton quand il le fallait. Un jour, il avait insisté pour continuer à négocier des droits de pêche avec l’Espagne et la Scandinavie jusqu’à ce qu’une solution soit trouvée. Le calvaire des négociateurs espagnols et suédois dura quarante heures.» >>> Stéphane Bussard | Jeudi 11 Février 2010
UE/Grèce : «L’Allemagne a changé les règles de la zone euro»

La chancelière allemande Angela Merkel, le premier ministre grec, George A. Papandreou et le président français Nicolas Sarkozy lors du sommet extraordinaire de l’Union européenne. Crédits photo : Le Temps

LE TEMPS: L’Allemagne est le maître d’œuvre de la mobilisation européenne en faveur de la Grèce. Elle pourrait apparaître comme une nouvelle avancée de l’intégration européenne. C’est du moins l’analyse d’Antonio Missiroli, directeur de recherche du European Policy Center (EPC) à Bruxelles

Le sommet informel des chefs d’Etat européen s’est transformé en sommet de crise pour aider la Grèce et sauver la zone euro attaquée par les marchés financiers. Ce jeudi, le président de l’Union européenne a annoncé que les pays de la zone euro prendront si nécessaire, des mesures «déterminées et coordonnées» pour préserver leur stabilité financière ébranlée par la crise grecque. Directeur de recherche du European Policy Center (EPC) à Bruxelles, Antonio Missiroli revient sur cette concertation au sommet. >>> Frédéric Koller | Jeudi 11 Février 2010

Germany and France Strike Deal to Rescue Greece from Debt Crisis

THE TELEGRAPH: Germany and France have agreed a deal to “safeguard financial stability” for Greece and the wider eurozone following crisis talks at a European Union summit.

Political agreement on general principles was thrashed out during tense negotiations between Germany, France, Greece and the European Central Bank on Thursday morning.

”There is an agreement on the Greek situation. We will communicate now the agreement to the other leaders,” Mr Van Rompuy said.

Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, said that Greece would receive support in return for and aligned to progress on sweeping austerity cuts.

”Greece needs to do whatever is necessary, including additional measures, to ensure that the deficit reduction targets for this year are met,” said an official. ”Secondly, in that case the euro zone members should be ready to safeguard financial stability in the euro zone area as a whole.”

The EU summit was delayed to buy time as Germany and France brokered frantic negotiations with the ECB and Commission to save the eurozone by putting together a rescue package for Greece. >>> Bruno Waterfield in Brussels | Thursday, February 11, 2010

Markets Target Euro as Doubt Swirls Over Greece

TIMES ONLINE: The leaders of France and Germany agreed today to work together to tackle the Greek debt crisis but failed to reassure jittery European financial markets.

Both the euro and Greek government bonds enjoyed a moment of respite after reports that the new EU President, Herman Van Rompuy, had brokered a bailout deal in a meeting this morning with President Sarkozy, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Trichet, head of the European Central Bank.

“Euro area member states will take determined and co-ordinated action if needed to safeguard stability in the euro area as a whole," Mr Van Rompuy told reporters in Brussels, reading from a statement agreed by all 16 eurozone states. "The Greek government has not requested any financial support."

But as the EU's 27 leaders went into summit talks this afternoon, the lack of detail began to weigh with market traders looking for action - and hard cash - not words. The euro, which has lost some 10 per cent in value against the dollar since late 2009, initially rose slightly on Mr Van Rompuy's statement to $1.3755 before falling back $1.3688.

"It just looks like a pledge of solidarity, but no actual details of a program which is why the euro is still in the doldrums,” said Neil Mackinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital. “Unless, there’s further news out later this afternoon, the markets will consider the EU summit response as a disappointment." >>> Philippe Naughton and David Charter in Brussels | Thursday, February 11, 2010

Germany, Forced to Buoy Greece, Rues Euro Shift

THE NEW YORK TIMES: BERLIN — As Europe edges toward emergency guarantees to stem market panic over one of the most profligate members of the euro bloc, the country that the region turns to for leadership, Germany, is suffering from growing doubts about the European experiment it long championed.

Reluctant German leaders now find themselves forced to help Greece remain solvent, or risk watching markets attack one weak member after the next, from Portugal to Spain to Italy, threatening the stability of the euro, the European currency Germany fought so hard to create.

On Thursday, European leaders meeting in Belgium announced they had agreed to a political statement to try to reassure bond markets and head off the crisis, and said that finance ministers would work through the details next week.

Earlier, in a conference call with the finance ministers from the 16 countries that use the euro and the president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, officials said that some action had to be taken to calm markets and take pressure off Greece. It appeared clear that Germany, with an assist from France, would have to take the lead. “The Germans are the only ones with deep pockets,” said Daniel Gros, director of the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels. “If it was just Greece, they could consider letting them go down the drain, but it threatens the entire euro zone.”

Berlin has been mostly silent on the matter. That is partly to put pressure on Greece, as civil servants struck there Wednesday to oppose cutbacks that the government has promised in order to rein in its enormous budget deficit.

But a bailout will be politically awkward for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. It is precisely the financial millstone that opponents warned about when Germany gave up its treasured mark, a move that a majority of people here, in contrast to their political leaders, opposed at the time.

“If the German government would just transfer money to Greece, people in Germany would feel their worst fears had come true,” said Thomas Mayer, chief economist at Deutsche Bank. >>> Nicholas Kulish | Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Watch New York Times video 1: Financial Crisis Deepens in Greece >>>

Watch New York Times video 2: Greeks Strike Amid Financial Crisis >>>

Monday, 8 February 2010

Saturday, 6 February 2010

The Eurozone Faces Its Most Difficult Test Yet

THE INDEPENDENT – Leading Article: Policymakers must address the central problem of credibility

The European single currency has entered the stormiest seas it has yet experienced. Sovereign debt anxiety is swelling among global investors. There have been mounting fears over the soundness of Greek debt for several months. And this week those fears spread to encompass the borrowings of Spain and Portugal. Some suggest that the euro ship itself could capsize if this weather gets much worse.

It is important to recognise that, while several European nations have weak public finances, Greece has exceptional problems. Athens' budget deficit is abnormally large, as is its stock of debt. And the European Commission discovered recently that the Greek government had been engaged in dishonest accounting to disguise the scale of its liabilities. >>> | Saturday, February 06, 2010
British Banker Could Face Death Over Fraud Charges

THE TELEGRAPH: A multi-millionaire British citizen is facing a potential death sentence in Indonesia on charges of corruption and fraud relating to the controversial collapse of one of the country's leading banks.

Rafat Ali Rizvi, inset, has been accused of stealing assets from Bank Century. Photo: The Telegraph

Rafat Ali Rizvi, 49, who grew up and went to university in the UK, has been accused of stealing assets from Bank Century after it was rescued from collapse by the state in November 2008 with $670m (£430m) of taxpayers' money.

Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for Mr Rizvi at Indonesia's request but he remains at large, splitting his time between the UK, where he has a property on London's Park Lane, and Singapore. Neither country has an extradition agreement with Indonesia.

Mr Rivzi, believed to be worth around $600m, protests his innocence but friends say he fears standing trial in Indonesia because the Bank Century case has become highly political. Investigations have been launched into the original bail-out as well as alleged corruption surrounding the case.

According to Mr Rivzi's lawyers, he believes he will be made a scapegoat for the bank's failure. >>> Philip Aldrick | Saturday, February 06, 2010
Kommentar zur Staatsverschuldung: Griechenland sollte die Eurozone verlassen

WELT ONLINE: Griechenland steckt in einer schweren Finanzkrise, die Zahlungsunfähigkeit droht. In dieser Situation erweist sich der EU-Stabilitätspakt als Papiertiger. Die griechischen Politiker schrecken vor gravierenden Reformen zurück. Dabei gibt es nur einen Weg: Athen muss die Drachme wiedereinführen.

Ein auslaufendes Modell? Die griechische 1-Euro-Münze. Bild: Welt Online

Stellen Sie sich vor, Sie haben sich in einem tiefen Tunnel verlaufen und stehen an einer Weggabelung. Sie wissen, dass die Tunnelröhre, die Ihnen offen steht, ins Verderben führt. Der Weg ins Freie ist hingegen versperrt, und Sie müssten ihn erst einmal unter größten Mühen frei schaufeln. Was würden Sie tun?

Ungefähr so stellt sich im Moment die Situation in der Eurozone dar. Sowohl für die Staaten Südeuropas, allen voran Griechenland, die darum fürchten müssen, kein Geld mehr am Kapitalmarkt zu bekommen. Als auch für die stabileren Länder wie Frankreich oder Deutschland. Denn deren Bevölkerung müsste die Zeche zahlen, wenn sie die Hellenen tatsächlich vor der drohenden Zahlungsunfähigkeit bewahren. >>> Von Jörg Eigendorf | Samstag, 06. Februar 2010

Friday, 5 February 2010

Global Sell-off Shudders Markets as Euro Plunges to Eight-month Low Amid Fears of Debt Default

MAIL ONLINE: The euro fell for a second straight day today amid fears that economies of Portugal, Greece and Spain could collapse in a sea of debt.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 1.6 per cent, while Germany's DAX fell 1.3 per cent and the CAC-40 in France was 2.1 per cent lower.

The euro tumbled below $1.37, its lowest level since May 2009.

It also slumped against other safe-haven currencies like the Swiss franc, forcing the Swiss National Bank to take the unusual step of intervening in the market.

But the currency remained steady against sterling, reflecting the weakness of the British economy. >>> Lucy Farndon and Heath Aston | Friday, February 05, 2010

Nouveau décrochage de l'euro face au dollar

LE FIGARO: Face aux détériorations des finances publiques de plusieurs états de la zone euro, la monnaie européenne est passée à 1,3648 dollar ce vendredi matin.

L'euro est tombé vendredi à son niveau le plus bas depuis mai 2009. Ce matin, la monnaie unique enchaîne sa troisième séance de repli et est passé sous les 1,37 dollar, après avoir franchi en baisse le seuil des 1,38 dollar la veille (jeudi soir vers 22 heures). Il a atteint 1,3648 dollar vers 9 heures 30. C'est un niveau inédit pour la monnaie unique depuis le 9 mai.

Depuis le début de l'année, l'euro a cédé 2,5%.

Cette chute s'explique en particulier par l'inquiétude des cambistes due aux difficultés budgétaires de plusieurs pays de la zone euro. Beaucoup s'attendent à une intervention musclée de l'Europe, voire à un appel auprès du Fonds monétaire international (FMI), pour aider la Grèce à se sortir d'une crise budgétaire sans précédent.

Un autre sujet vient inquiéter l'euro sur le marché des devises, le cas de l'Espagne qui a très mal digéré la crise avec notamment un taux de chômage atteignant près de 20%. D'ailleurs Dominique Strauss-Kahn, le patron du FMI, a parlé ce jeudi sur RTL d'une crise «très forte en Espagne» et que le pays devait faire «un effort considérable» pour réduire les déficits publics. La dette publique espagnole s'est envolée un peu au-dessus des 60% du PIB en 2010 alors qu'en 2007 elle ne représentait que 36,2% du PIB. >>> Jean-Guillaume Brasseur ( | Vendredi 05 Février 2010
Stock Markets Plunge Over Europe Debt Fears

TIMES ONLINE: European and American stock markets plunged yesterday as investors took fright over the difficulties in debt-ridden countries such as Greece and Portugal and fears mounted over the health of the world’s biggest economy.

There were concerns that Greece may not meet its tough budget plans as workers started the first in a wave of strikes, prompting worries that Spain, Portugal and the Irish Republic may also struggle to cut their soaring debts. In a sign of the scale of the problems, a gauge of the perceived credit risk of Western European nations overtook that of the most stable US companies for the first time. >>> Gary Parkinson and Gráinne Gilmore | Friday, February 5, 2010

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Barack Obama Tells Americans 'Don't Go to Las Vegas'

THE TELEGRAPH: A careless remark by President Barack Obama about Las Vegas has triggered a furious backlash from Nevada’s cash-strapped gambling city and a key Democratic ally fighting a tough re-election battle in the state.

Bright lights of Las Vegas cast a shadow over its burgeoning poverty. Photograph: The Telegraph

Speaking about the economy at an event in New Hampshire, Mr Obama told Americans: “When times are tough, you tighten your belts.

“You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college. You prioritise. You make tough choices.”

The economy of the world’s most famous gambling and entertainment destination is heavily dependent on tourism and Las Vegans were already incensed by a comment from Mr Obama last year that companies should not use federal bail out money for trips to the city.

Tourism and casino officials said the comment hurt the city after companies cancelled meetings in Las Vegas and re-arranged them elsewhere.

Mr Obama’s latest remark about Las Vegas prompted a swift and angry retort from Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, who has an uphill battle to win re-election in Nevada, which has an unemployment rate of 13 per cent, in the November mid-term elections.

“The President needs to lay off Las Vegas and stop making it the poster child for where people shouldn’t be spending their money,” he said in a statement. >>> Toby Harnden in Washington | Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Banks Told to Comply on Bonuses or Lose UK Banking Licences in Shock FSA Ultimatum

THE TELEGRAPH: Investment banks have been told that every bonus issued must comply with the regulatory guidelines – or they face having their licences to operate in Britain revoked.

In an extraordinary ultimatum that has shocked some of the City's biggest companies, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) told bank bosses that 60pc of all pay must be deferred, with no exceptions, even for those whose contracts conflicting [sic] with the edict.

Many of the global players have in recent weeks made representations to the City watchdog, in particular about pre-existing employment contracts that guarantee bonuses over a year or more. But their appeals have been met with the FSA's toughest yet response.

One pay executive in a major bank told The Daily Telegraph: "The message came back that while the FSA agreed that it does not have jurisdiction over contractual law, it does have jurisdiction over issuing bank licences in London, and that we should go away and unwind the contracts."

Bankers at Merrill Lynch are among the first affected. Those with pre-existing contracts were told about the FSA's tough stance on Friday when their bonuses were agreed.

One Merrill Lynch employee said: "We thought that contracts would be immune from changes but were told by bosses that their hands were tied and there was nothing they could do, the regulator had put its foot down."

Banks that have not yet told staff about the bonus payouts are now scrambling to ensure that they are comply with the FSA rules.

Senior directors are concerned that the stance could result in the banks facing a series of legal challenges from individuals with pre-existing contracts. Headhunters say that banks including Barclays Capital and Nomura have lured star performers by offering them large guaranteed bonuses.

One headhunter said: "Many of these contracts have guarantees that 50pc of the bonus will be paid in cash. These are tricky things to unpick. But cleverly, the FSA has put the onus on the banks to unwind the contracts, rather than itself getting embroiled in a complex legal row." >>> Louise Armitstead and Helia Ebrahimi | Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Harte Einschnitte: EU übernimmt Kontrolle über griechische Finanzen

WELT ONLINE: Die EU-Kommission nimmt das hoch verschuldete Griechenland an die kurze Leine: Die Regierung muss Brüssel ab sofort regelmäßige Berichte über Sparerfolge vorlegen. Werden die Ziele nicht erreicht, drohen sofortige Geldstrafen. Der griechischen Bevölkerung und den Unternehmen stehen nun außerordentliche Belastungen bevor.

Griechenland muss sich im Kampf gegen die rekordhohe Staatsverschuldung einer strengen Haushaltskontrolle durch die EU unterwerfen. Die EU-Kommission billigte am Mittwoch den Sparplan der griechischen Regierung, mit der das Defizit binnen drei Jahren um fast zehn Punkte auf 2,8 Prozent des BIP gedrückt werden soll. „Wir wissen, die Umsetzung ist nicht leicht, das ist schwierig und verdient Unterstützung“, sagte EU-Wirtschaftskommissar Joaquin Almunia in Brüssel. Besorgt äußerte sich der Kommissar auch über die Entwicklung in Portugal und Spanien. >>> dpa/Reuters/AFP/lw | Mittwoch, 03. Februar 2010

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Which Capitalism?

TIMES ONLINE – Leading Article: Two arguments dominated the World Economic Forum — the long-term question about the nature of capitalism and the immediate question of bankers and their pay

In the 1960s the developed world and the developing world started an argument about capitalism, to replace the one that they had been having about nationalism. The argument is still going on but, to judge by the World Economic Forum last week in Davos, the sides have changed.

The possibility of a third way between capitalism and Soviet communism bewitched the leaders of developing countries as they first exercised independence. Rather clumsy mixed economies resulted, with disappointing growth. Meanwhile, the capitalist countries grew in confidence, which seemed amply justified when the Berlin Wall fell and the GDP claimed by many Soviet satellites turned out to be fictitious.

Yet in Davos, the developed world had lost the optimism of that heady time. The financial crash has left it pessimistic, groping for a way forward. President Obama’s Administration is too wrapped up in domestic difficulties to show up at the forum and tell others what to do. The most senior Western leader to speak, Nicolas Sarkozy, filled the vacuum with a very French call for a departure from global capitalist orthodoxy. Yet all this did not mean that capitalism lacked any optimistic leadership in Davos. Those that flew from East to West were brimming with confidence in their countries and in capitalism. Those that flew from West to East to be in the Swiss Alps arrived in a state of self-doubt.

A new and unexpected division has opened up in the debate about capitalism. The old rows between Left and Right, between the advocates of free markets and the advocates of socialism, are over, as the market evangelists predicted would happen. Yet their assumption that liberal democracy would sweep all before it no longer looks robust. Instead, liberal democratic capitalism finds itself in a surprisingly tough competition with nationalist authoritarian capitalism. For leaders in Asian and African countries, the Chinese model seems increasingly attractive. And advocates of this model lack the Western self-doubt. The depressed countenances of Europeans when discussing the climate change failures in Copenhagen contrasted strongly with the nonchalance of the Chinese Davos delegates. And Google is more worried about China than China about Google. >>> | Monday, February 01, 2010
"A Time for Choosing" by Ronald Reagan

Hat tip: KitmanTV Blogspot

Monday, 1 February 2010

Niall Ferguson: Conversations with History

Niall Ferguson: Dark Times Ahead for the Dollar

Auch ohne Mondlandung ein astronomisch hohes Defizit: US-Präsident Obama präsentiert seine Budgetpläne für die nächsten Jahre

NZZ ONLINE: Der amerikanische Präsident Obama hat am Montag seine Budgetpläne für die nächsten Jahre präsentiert. Obwohl namhafte Einsparungen geplant sind, wird das Defizit im laufenden Jahr Rekordhöhen erklimmen.

Der scheint trügt: Obama ist weit weg vom Heiligen-Status – er muss sich mit Profanerem befassen. Bild: NZZ Online

Der amerikanische Präsident Barack Obama setzt den Rotstift beim Haushalt an und macht dabei auch vor dem Stolz vieler Amerikaner, der Raumfahrt, nicht halt. Doch auch ohne bemannte Missionen zum Mond wird das Defizit 2010 mit 1,56 Billionen eine Rekordhöhe erreichen. 120 Programme und Projekte will Obama insgesamt kürzen oder streichen. Dennoch liegt der Umfang des von ihm vorgeschlagenen Etats mit 3,8 Billionen Dollar um drei Prozent über den geplanten Ausgaben im laufenden Haushaltsjahr. >>> sda/dpa/afp | Montag, 01. Februar 2010
Niall Ferguson on the Financial Crisis

Niall Ferguson >>>
Davos: Sarkozys Wutrede über Kapitalismus

WELT ONLINE: Frankreichs Staatspräsident teilt auf dem Weltwirtschaftsforum in den Schweizer Alpen kräftig aus. Nicolas Sarkozy spricht von einer "Entartung des Kapitalismus" und wettert gegen den Freihandel, zumindest, wenn dadurch Länder mit den Waren anderer Staaten überschwemmt werden. Konkret wird er jedoch nicht.

Ganz sanft ging Nicolas Sarkozy die Sache an. Er sei nach Davos gekommen, weil er wolle, „dass wir alle gemeinsam die Lehren aus der Krise ziehen“, sagt er gleich zu Beginn seiner Rede bei der offiziellen Eröffnung des Weltwirtschaftsforums. Und er bekennt vor Hunderten von Managern und Unternehmern im Davoser Kongresszentrum mit Blick auf die Krise, dass „wir alle dafür verantwortlich sind“. Immerhin.

Doch dann legt der französische Präsident los. Und wie. Was die Menschheit erlebe, sei „nicht eine Krise in der Globalisierung, sondern eine Krise der Globalisierung“. Man könne eine „Entartung des Kapitalismus“ beobachten. Einen „Kapitalismus, in dem es üblich war, bevorzugt mit dem Geld anderer zu spekulieren“. Einen Kapitalismus, in dem „der Unternehmer hinter den Spekulanten trat, in dem der Kapitalanleger wichtiger war als der Arbeitnehmer“. Einen Kapitalismus, in dem „die Gegenwart alles war und die Zukunft nichts mehr zählte“ [sic]

Munter geht es weiter. Freihandel und Wettbewerb? Schön und gut, so Sarkozy. Aber die seien nur „Mittel zum Zweck, nicht der Zweck an sich“. Und damit eben auch im Zweifel relativ.

„Ich bin für den Freihandel“, fährt Sarkozy denn auch fort, aber der sei obenan gestellt worden, „und dadurch wurde die Demokratie geschwächt“. Und überhaupt, wenn der unbehinderte Güterhandel dazu führe, dass Länder mit den Waren anderer Staaten überschwemmt würden, dann werde „diese Funktionsstörung“ zu protektionistischen Reaktionen führen. Die Drohung dürfte sich vor allem an China richten, auch wenn Sarkozy es vermeidet, konkret zu werden. >>> Von O. Gersemann und M. Hollstein | Mittwoch, 27. Januar 2010

Steuerdaten-Deal: Schweizer bezichtigen Deutschland der Hehlerei

WELT ONLINE: Bundesfinanzminister Wolfgang Schäuble hält den Kauf von Bankdaten für "rechtlich vertretbar". Das sehen Schweizer Politiker anders. Sie wollen keine Amtshilfe leisten. Schweizer Abgeordnete sprechen von "Hehlerei" durch den deutschen Staat und von "einer modernen Form des Banküberfalls".

Scharfe Kritik an Schäubles Entscheidung kam aus dem Schweizer Finanzministerium. „Was Deutschland da macht, ist in der Schweiz strafbar“, sagte ein Sprecher von Finanzminister Hans-Rudolf Merz (FDP) auf Anfrage von WELT ONLINE. „In der Schweiz ist die Verwendung von gestohlenen oder gekauften Bankdaten für Steuerzwecke nicht zulässig, deshalb können wir auf dieser Basis keine Amtshilfe leisten.“ >>> Von Elisalex Henckel | Montag, 01 Februar 2010
Why Don’t They Jail the SOBs and Wipe the Smile Off Their Faces?

Lloyd C. Blankfein was paid $67.9 million in 2007. His bank’s profits in 2009 were higher than that year. Photograph: Times Online

TIMES ONLINE: Goldman Sachs, the world’s richest investment bank, could be about to pay its chief executive a bumper bonus of up to $100 million in defiance of moves by President Obama to take action against such payouts.

Bankers in Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF) told The Times yesterday they understood that Lloyd Blankfein and other top Goldman bankers outside Britain were set to receive some of the bank’s biggest-ever payouts. “This is Lloyd thumbing his nose at Obama,” said a banker at one of Goldman’s rivals.

Goldman Sachs is becoming the focus of an increasingly acrimonious political and financial showdown over the payment of multimillion-pound bonuses.Last week the US President described bonuses paid out by some banks as “the height of irresponsibility” and “shameful”.

“The American people understand that we have a big hole to dig ourselves out of, but they do not like the idea that people are digging a bigger hole, even as they are being asked to fill it up,” he said last week. Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs 'Expecting $100 Million Bonus' >>> Helen Power in Davos | Monday, February 01, 2010