January 13th, 2012
08:00 PM GMT
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(CNN) – The ratings downgrade of France by Standard & Poor's is embarrassing, but its economic impact will be limited – and the country will embark on a full court press to pretend it doesn't matter.

Let's not forget the U.S. lost its triple A rating; the dollar is still being printed and economy is doing better. But this will pile pressure on the eurozone: S&P has a history of jumping first, and other agencies could follow.

The risk is in its downstream hit on Europe's bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility [Editor's note: The fund has now been downgraded ]. The fund only holds its top rating by virtue of the countries whose cash it is backed by, and France is one of the major players.

Eurozone nations slapped with downgrades

The French downgrade could hit the bailout fund's triple A rating, which will make it harder to raise sufficient funds from investors to feed the bloc's needs for cash. That could cause hiccups for the bailout programs already in place.

But of far more importance Friday was news that creditors have failed to reach a deal with the Greek government on haircuts to the country's debt.

Greek talks break down

According to a statement from Greece's creditors, plans to slash the value of the debt in half, as part of the country's negotiations to get its second bailout, have stumbled. This could prove a ticking time bomb if it is not defused. The news means Greece is once again the big crisis.

The eurozone rescue plan is falling to bits but it's Greece we need to watch, not France.



January 13th, 2012
05:23 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – European markets were given a final-hour fright Friday upon reports of an imminent downgrade for eurozone countries by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (the influential credit assessors declined to comment when approached by CNN.)

Although largely expected, a cut to the creditworthiness of eurozone countries would be worrying - not least because this week's successful bond sales by Italy and Spain had led many an investor to believe the eurozone was “turning a corner” and getting a grip on its issues.

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January 13th, 2012
12:12 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow faces the game of his life on Saturday. His Broncos play the New England Patriots to decide who reaches the AFC championship game. But for Tebow himself, it's the game that will decide if he can be sold as America's next sporting icon.

On paper, Tebow is no marketing superstar. The numbers say he's - for the most part - a pretty average quarterback. He's rode his luck in most of the games he's won, and the public displays of his faith that routinely follow seem to split fans down the middle. With a five-year, $11.25 million contract, he's also not topping any rich lists anytime soon.

But all true sporting phenomena have something more special, more significant than a big paycheck. LeBron James has it. Roger Federer has it. Tiger Woods had it. Thierry Henry just regained it. Like it or not, Tim Tebow has it too - star power.
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January 13th, 2012
06:28 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – While ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests perceived excesses of the capital markets, brokers in Hong Kong took to the streets Thursday to demonstrate against cuts in the length of their lunch break.

About 1,000 brokers, stock exchange staff and restaurant workers spent their 90-minute lunch break protesting against plans to cut their lunch hour to – well, an hour. Until last year, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange had a two-hour lunch break – the longest in the world for major bourses.

Exchange officials say the move, which is planned for implementation in March, is to keep the exchange competitive with other major exchanges. Japan and Singapore made similar moves last year to reduce the time their exchanges are closed to trading for lunch.
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