June 7th, 2012
08:54 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) - Beijing has clamped down on information once publicly available on listed and state-owned companies, hurting the effort of Western investors and companies to gauge whether to invest in - or short-sell - Chinese firms.

First reported by the International Financial Law Review, the State Administration of Industry and Commerce now requires company permission before accessing records such as financial reports and shareholder information.

Companies that sell credit reports - which give companies a quick read on the background of the firm they are considering doing business with - have been hindered, said Peter Humphrey, managing director of ChinaWhys, an international business risk advisory firm in Beijing.

June 5th, 2012
08:08 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – China is drafting plans on how to deal with the financial fallout if Greece leaves the eurozone and its economic implications for Beijing’s largest trading partner, according to state-run media.

"The government is working on plans for the worst-case scenario of Greece leaving the eurozone later this year," Wang Haifeng, director of international economics at the Institute for International Economic Research, told state-run China Daily Tuesday.

China Daily quotes unnamed sources as saying the ministries of finance and commerce will examine the potential impact of a Greek exit on exchange rate, capital flows and trade.

May 28th, 2012
05:38 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – You’d be forgiven if the mild bounce in the markets Monday had you dreaming of better times for Greece and the eurozone. Your wakeup call comes to you courtesy Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, former French Finance Minister and the latest establishment figure to heap scorn on Greece.

In a lengthy and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian newspaper, Lagarde may have for the first time uttered in public what some suspect many European politicians are saying behind closed doors. It’s payback time for Greece.

April 25th, 2012
05:46 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – As spring-time rain flooded London's streets and uncomfortable soundbites emerged from the Leveson inquiry, the UK government faced further misery: The UK is back in recession.

The revelation - a psychological blow, even if the figures are later revised up - will increase pressure on David Cameron’s government, already under pressure from the probe into its relationship with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

The “double-dip" recession is a loose phrase, but this slump is close enough to the 2008/2009 contraction to warrant the dreaded term. The last time the UK was in a double-dip recession was in the 1970s.


March 21st, 2012
05:52 PM GMT
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London (CNN) –It will come as no surprise that the Conservative-led UK government says lower taxes bring in more revenue, because the rich will come and business will spend.

Taxes cut, pensioners hit

And it is not a surprise that left leaning parties disagree and say that such a policy will get the rich off the hook while poorer workers pay too much tax.

UK finance minister George Osborne is trying to have it both ways.

March 20th, 2012
06:12 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – For the airline industry, it seems barely does one crisis subside than the next rears up. No sooner has the European debt debacle gone to the back-burner - taking away one of the biggest threats to economic growth - than oil price rises become a concern. And it's a worry as big, if not bigger, than the debt crisis.

All the forecasts have been done on the basis of $99 to $100 per barrel of oil. Prices are now more than $120 for Brent and that is hitting airlines hard. For most airlines, more than 30% of revenues are now going on fuel. In some cases, it is the single biggest component.

Is oil the new Greece?

Tony Tyler, head of IATA, the organization representing aviation, describes airlines as “weak but still profitable.” With prices for oil having risen more than 30% he says airlines are suffering a “double hit.” As ticket prices go up, people travel less. There is a “hit to the revenue line and the cost side,” he notes.

March 19th, 2012
04:18 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – Investors holding insurance to protect against Greece defaulting on its debts will collect just over $2.5 billion after an auction of the country’s bonds found their value to be 21.5 cents in the euro.

The payout gives relief to those who have long bet the country will be unable to pay its bills. Greece has avoided that outcome for months as it continued to be buffered by loans from the eurozone’s bailout fund and the International Monetary Fund.

A default, triggering payment of the insurance - or credit default swaps - was finally called after the country forced its creditors to take massive cuts in the value of their investments as part of a debt swap.

That so-called “credit event” was therefore tripped by a restructuring of the country’s debt, rather than straight non-payment.

The price was reached after an auction in which the country’s bonds - including new ones held by investors who participated in the debt restructuring - were traded by banks to find a price.

Those holding the credit default swaps will now be paid out 78.5 cents on the euro to close out the contracts.

Market participants said the auction went largely as expected, despite quirks created by the country’s debt restructuring.

One observer said the auction was essentially a “washing up” of the restructuring. One takeaway, he added, was that the “political furore” around credit default swaps - once held up by politicians as a highly destabilizing influence in the financial markets - had died down.

March 16th, 2012
06:25 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – The bail-out is a done deal, the International Monetary Fund has agreed its share and the Europeans have started to hand over the money. One of the ratings agencies has even upgraded the new Greek bonds.

So it is incredibly dispiriting to be reading more and more notes from economists and analysts suggesting that this is not over yet.

Paul Donovan, in his note from UBS, noted that the markets were not that impressed by the state of play. The markets, he said, were pricing in “the debate about when the next restructuring will take place.”

February 28th, 2012
05:17 AM GMT
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(CNN) - Greece may be known for its tragedies and Iceland famous for its sagas but recent history tells us these stories may turn out to have very different endings–from an economic point of view at least.

In October 2008, Iceland became one of the earliest victims of a credit crunch whose ugly effects many Europeans are still living with today.

The North Atlantic island was the first entire country to almost go under, sunk by the weight of a banking sector whose debts amounted to more than six times Iceland's entire economy.

However, three years on, Iceland is poised to re-emerge from economic purgatory.

February 11th, 2012
03:54 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – Greece is once again at risk of a potentially disastrous default on its bill payments.

The country, which has been embroiled in a debt crisis for almost two years, faces a bill payment of €14.5 billion ($19.1 billion) on March 20. It is in frantic negotiations with both its private sector creditors and international lenders to lighten its debt load and access more funds to pay its bills.

This week marks another crucial point in the battle to bring Greece’s finances under control. As a 48-hour strike called by trade union leaders marks its second day, focus is turning to parliamentary deliberations over the country’s stricken finances.

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