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Economic downturn, Italians rob the joy of life

Closed shop in Milan: The number of bankruptcies is increasing

A country loses the courage to face life: economic stagnation and austerity measures to put the Italians, the country will slip this year, probably even deeper into recession. The policy ignores the most pressing problems.

“The Romans no longer laugh,” says Loredana, 45, “as many people as depressed now, I have not seen in my entire life.” Loredana is a teacher in the Italian capital and wants her last name not prefer to read in the media. She complains: “For many, the wallet is already empty before the end of the month.”No wonder, because incomes are falling, prices are rising, and the Government is also in the pockets of the citizens.

The crisis is evident everywhere in Rome: The restaurants are in the less frequented by tourists as empty areas such as furniture or houses clothing stores. Even the legendary sealed road – “Romans have no feet,” they say here, “but four wheels” – has been thinned by the extreme strong gasoline prices. Diesel is just under 1.80 euros, gasoline goes in the direction of two euros. The usual morning and evening gridlock on the streets now turns out – if not just once, buses and trains are on strike.

In many shop doors or windows is “vendersi” to sell. The number of bankruptcies is increasing, partly because the public sector can be more and more time to pay the bills of tradesmen and suppliers. A third of the Roman bankruptcies, the retail association is due to the fact. “Nobody knows where all this will lead yet,” complained a teacher Loredana.

It seems as a nation lose their zest for life – and just in Italy. That country, whose people are admired in Germany primarily for their ability to protect themselves under adverse circumstances, the good mood.

But of a good mood at the moment is little trace. Not in Rome, nor in the rest ofItaly . Whether in Milan, Naples and Tuscany: Who does not belong just to the rich ten percent, sees himself in a dark tunnel. Since 2008, Italy’s economic output has fallen by 4.4 percent. And 2012, the polls show the employers’ association Confcommercio among its members, may be even the worst recession year in the history of the country. Because Italy’s economic actors – consumers, businesses and government – to push each other down the valley.Consumers cut their purchases like never before, as a result of plummeting sales of business. In the first three months of this year, industrial production fell by 2.3 percent from the gross domestic product (GDP), ie the total economic output, up 1.6 percent. The third-largest economy in the euro-zone, it is feared, slipping deeper into recession.

Italy’s debt continues to grow

The government has played its part. Taxes rise. The substantial increase in property taxes, for example, especially for second-home drives many families to sell the ancestral house of the grandmother or financed on credit, one-bedroom holiday apartment on the Italian coast. This fall, house prices – not just in the center of Rome or Milan, but where the people of middle or low incomes to live – and to think anyway, hardly a new construction. More and more construction companies lay off workers or close altogether.

The number of unemployed is increasing. And although the government of the economic expert Professor Mario Monti wants actually go to a rigorous course to improve public finances, the debt grows even more dramatic. Because if the economy shrinks, falling tax revenues, even if the tax rates for the individual company or citizen, no matter how high. In February last year the Italian government was with 1875 billion euros in debt, this February, there were about 50 billion more: about 1.93 trillion. “We save ourselves but broken,” says the teacher Loredana Roman. But the majority of the Italians is more about Mario Monti – another straw she has not.

Improvement from 2013?

The ordeal was necessary in order “not to end up in Greek proportions,” said the prime minister his people again and again and promises will be better in 2013. In order to bring the economy back on a growth path that his government will put billions into infrastructure building, so new roads and rails, new ports and airports. A super-fast broadband network will soon make the entire country Internet capability. Even the infamous Italian justice will put on their toes, the government’s promise: Instead of going to an average of 1210 days, as now, to civil cases nearing completion after 394 days. But how and when will these things be, says the government is not as accurate. Especially not how she wants to pay for all this, without taking even more new billion debt.

Many seemingly non-economic structural problems, not the speech, while these factors dampen the growth potential in Italy:

  • The civil service is overstaffed and often totally incompetent – often fail to invest endless and complicated approval process.
  • The level of many schools and universities is modest, outdated technical equipment.
  • The judiciary lacks sometimes even fax or writing paper money, the police often lack of fuel.
  • In many regions and industries will earn the Mafia. And during the reign of Silvio Berlusconi have much political and economic elite accustomed to where the focus is always to stop the hand.

Santo Versace, president of the Versacemode Group and former member of Parliament in Berlusconi’s party, now summed up in one sentence why Italy is in his opinion “the abyss”: “We are the highest-taxed Estonians and corruption.”

American Express Customers Spend More

amex0323NEW YORK – The Kreditkartenabieter American Express (AmEx) is due to the higher propensity to consume its customers with a winning record start to the year and has exceeded expectations. On average, the customers in the U.S. financial group from January to March 3772 U.S. dollars, more than 300 dollars more than a year earlier.The payment record is verbeserte.

Associated Press

The net earnings of rival MasterCard and Visa in the first quarter by 7 percent to 1.26 billion U.S. dollars, or $ 1.07 per share. Analysts had expected only $ 1 per share. The proceeds, net of interest expenses increased by 8 percent to 7.6 billion dollars and thus met the consensus estimate.

The improved payment behavior. The rate of customers with arrears dropped to 1.3 percent from 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 1.8 percent a year earlier.

“Increased spending of the card holder, excellent credit risk parameters and a disciplined expenditure management have helped us in 2012 with record profits and revenues in the first quarter to start,” said Chairman and CEO Ken Chenault in the statement.

Dividend to be increased

On the good business but should also include the shareholders are involved. AmEx last month announced an increase in its quarterly dividend by 11 percent – the first increase since 2007. In addition, the Group intends to spend up to $ 5 billion to repurchase its own shares, after he has done well in the stress-test the Federal Reserve Bank. The Federal Reserve has, according to AmEx no objections to these plans.

Despite all the improvements, the credit growth is a challenge for the industry. The good payment record of customers, the downside is that they also offset their loan balances as quickly as possible. This reduces the net interest income. AmEx claims to be now less dependent on revolving loans, but benefited from the fact that the customers use their cards for more. As a result of rising revenues from the fees merchants.

What AmEx at the presentation of its quarterly results also announced: The provision for future credit losses was increased to 412 million dollars – that’s more than four times as much as a year earlier. Could financial companies in recent quarters by the release of provisions for bad loans may benefit, they must now be increased again.

Increase In IMF Funds Crisis Threatens To Come To A Halt

Copy of 5_washington_Foto_BuccinoWASHINGTON (Dow Jones) – The target of the Europeans increased crisis preparedness resources of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is threatening to seize up. Just before the start of the IMF spring meeting in Washington, expressed in particular Brazil, China, Canada and major developing countries are reluctant to increase the short-term lending capacity of the IMF. (Photo: Buccino)

Brazil was not yet ready to call a certain amount of additional resources of the IMF, because the decisions agreed reform of the IMF voting power are not enough, said Finance Minister Guido Mantega. Brazil and other major developing countries are striving for a stronger influence in the IMF, which is intended to reflect their growing importance in the world.

"Some countries show a greater enthusiasm in addressing the emerging market for more money, as in the reform of the IMF’s voting rights, because they will lose influence," Mantega said in allusion to the states of the euro zone. Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), had tried in advance of the IMF’s annual meeting, to avoid linking the increased funding to the IMF reform, because he feared that the reform could drag on longer and thus the increase in crisis prevention tool. Europeans had to their meeting in Copenhagen decided on a combination of their shields EFSF and ESM, thereby increasing its anti-crisis to around 800 billion euros, or about 1 trillion U.S. dollars. The euro-zone countries had hoped that the IMF would expand its lending capacity in return for a similar size. However, things are starting already, that the sum will remain significantly lower. Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, the hopes of the euro zone with tough criticism of the European crisis put a damper offset policy. The European situation is still dangerous and still not have the financial fire-walls of the Euro zone sufficient, said Flaherty. In addition, the European banking system was "hopelessly under-capitalized." Only for the European Central Bank (ECB), the Canadian praise had left: the actions of the ECB for crisis containment are "valuable" was. China also proved reluctant to embrace larger IMF Resources: Foreign Minister Liu Weimin made ​​an increase in particular progress on the IMF voice reform depends on how the agency Xinhua reported. The Minister said that in 2010 adopted reforms to be ratified would have to make a budget increase is possible. ECB board member Joerg Asmussen said at a conference in Washington, by increasing its financial firepower to around $ 1 trillion would have the Europeans "do their part done ". Now let "our partners in the series" to increase the lending capacity of the IMF. Asmussen expressed his confidence that an agreement can be reached by an increase in IMF crisis funds this weekend. The IMF chief Christine Lagarde, meanwhile, their wishes clear after a budget increase screwed down: Before the meeting of 20 leading industrial and emerging economies (G20) at the weekend said Lagarde, the IMF is the desired increase of around 400 billion dollars come closer. Hope you have commitments of over 320 billion dollars in new funds and more, said the IMF director. At the G-20 meeting will Lagarde reach the "critical mass" for its planned doubling of the IMF’s resources to Europe in the to help combat the debt crisis. So far, the IMF out put 381 billion dollars to support needy countries. delaying Santander opposition to increased funding also comes from the poorer countries of the world where the view is widespread that Europe is rich enough to help themselves. The Group of 24 developing countries (G-24) stated that they needed more time to decide on participation in the increase. "There needs to be worked out in detail, how large the contribution of the affected countries, and some countries cut more time," said the G-24 Chairman, India’s Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The IMF members had in 2010 agreed to major give emerging economies a greater voting power. Some countries, including the United States have not ratified the amendment date. China, Brazil and India have not therefore participate in the planned increase of IMF resources. They have in recent years partly paid bonuses and are now hoping for a conversion of those funds in voting. , the increase of the IMF quota and voice reform should be linked, then threatened a delay until January 2013. Because of the IMF’s 188 member countries, the Steering Committee has asked to implement the already agreed quota and voice reform in 2010. Otherwise, threatening a loss of legitimacy and credibility.

Competition Is Forcing Austerity On Lufthansa

Frankfurt Airport: Lufthansa must save

Lufthansa German Airlines is suffering from the growing strength of low-cost competitors – now the company is bringing consequences. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, severe cutbacks are planned: to be canceled and routes operated until 2014, no additional aircraft.

Hamburg – The business of Deutsche Lufthansa falls increasingly under pressure from one side of cheap competitors such as Ryanair press, on the other hand, the big airlines in the Gulf region. Now the largest German airline, is planning to information obtained by SPIEGEL, much tougher cuts than was previously suspected.

The employees of the branch passage have received mail from her supreme chief, Carsten Spohr. This explains the Lufthansa Executive Board, as he wants in the Lufthansa airline business in the coming years to save nearly one billion euros – and encourages support of the staff.

In such manner as originally provided otherwise, no additional aircraft operated until 2014 and unprofitable routes are deleted. Connections from the hub of Frankfurt were in the Indian Hyderabad and Calcutta and Guangzhou in China already set. Now also targets such as Nanjing and Bangkok are on trial.

At airports outside the Lufthansa hubs Frankfurt and Munich are cheap and the in-house subsidiary German Wings still cooperate closely. Especially hard-fought long haul routes, the Group only with jets in a two-class configuration, use, without first-class compartments. Parallel to this is to be checked whether there should be even with the Lufthansa long an upgraded economy class, as they have long been competitors.

On Thursday evening, had also Roland Busch, chief financial officer of Lufthansa Passage division prompted the airport to help in saving the airlines: "The infrastructure charges shall be reduced permanently by 10 percent to 20 percent of the airports," he said. Faced with rising fuel prices and ever new taxes and fees, the airlines could the necessary savings in air transport services anymore alone.

"The site costs suck the success of our own savings programs over and over again," said Busch, who mitdurchsetzt at Lufthansa now the multibillion dollar cost-cutting program "score". This will reduce Europe’s largest airline costs by 2015 by at least 1.5 billion euros to get air for investment in new and more fuel-efficient aircraft.

With material of dpa

Naval exercises by Russia, China, United States – Cold war between coral

Maneuvers in the South China Sea: Crystal blue water, gray gunboats

There is a tremendous weapon shop in the South China Sea: Between Russia and China, and coral atolls, the Philippines and the United States start at the same naval operations. Officially, the fight against pirates are trained. In fact, it comes to commodities and trade routes.

Washington / Beijing / Vladivostok – It is expected in the coming weeks will be closely around the Spratly Islands. Actually, there are little more than a few coral patches in the South China Sea, largely uninhabited, the highest point of the island group stands just four feet above the sea level. But now two rushing mighty naval forces in the remote region: Russia and China are planning a joint naval maneuvers there, have the same United States and the Philippines before.A military muscle flexing threat in the Pacific.

For so small the group of about a hundred scattered atolls may be, so great is their strategic importance. Through the South China Sea is located on major international trade routes.However, even more explosive: The Seabed around the islands, large mineral deposits are suspected. Since it is hardly surprising that collect both China and the Philippines are entitled to the Spratly Islands.Even Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Sultanate of Brunei are very interested – and a military presence on each island. For years, the simmering conflict.

Now Russia and China, a new venture, joint show of force. Four warships, a missile cruiser and three anti-submarine ships since Sunday on the way from Vladivostok to the region. Six more are to follow. For several weeks there are weapons systems tested, rehearsed joint tactics, and fighting off pirates are trained. The region is notorious for pirate attacks regularly. At the same time, however, the maneuver should be seen as a signal in the direction of the Philippines and the United States.

Finally, U.S. President Barack Obama had until November 2011, the Asia-Pacific region declared a new focus of his foreign policy. Militarily and economically, the United States wants to expand its influence in the booming region. The U.S. presence in the area have top priority in his administration, Obama said repeatedly during his speech at the summit of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Indonesia. In particular, the military development of China is suspicious of Washington observed.

With proper balance, the United States participate in, after Obama’s landmark speech, the first edition of its regularly conducted maneuvers together with the Philippines. "Balikatan 2012" is the action that takes place in parallel with the Russian-Chinese arms show in the same area. "Shoulder to shoulder" of the title means in Tagalog, the main language in the Philippines. 6,800 soldiers participating. About two-thirds are from the United States, plus about 1,200 Filipino men and fighters from Japan, Australia and South Korea. The promotion runs until 27 April.

Incident with Chinese fishing boats

What is the tense situation in the South China Sea currently shows an incident in the past week . The Philippine Navy had claims to be Chinese fishing boats in the area of Scarborough riffs applied to the west of the country. They had been fishing in the waters claimed by Manila.

The Navy wanted to take the sailors, but had two Chinese reconnaissance ships between the fishermen and the Philippine warship "BRP Gregorio del Pilar" down and would have blocked it, said the Foreign Ministry. The conflict was continued later at the diplomatic level.

Officially, both camps about trying to play down the political symbolism of the same maneuver. "There is no reason for anyone to feel threatened," U.S. Navy Commander Curtis Hill said before the start of the operation. Previously, he was asked about a possible reaction of China.

From Moscow are reassuring words. The maneuver was planned a long time and not to be understood as a response or reaction to anything, it was said from the Pentagon.