Friday, 31 October 2008

Newspapers : 30th October

Winegrowers protest against law which 'could ban wine tasting'. Henry Samuel, The Telegraph (en)
" ... "How can one imagine that French wine, without even talking about its economic weight or its place in our heritage and our cultural identity, can have any real export growth opportunities when everything is done to censor it in our country?" asked Bordeaux mayor, Alain Juppé ..."

Spanish queen breaks silence - and upsets gay groups. Anita Brooks, The Independent (en)
" ... "I can understand, accept and respect that there are people of other sexual tendencies, but should they be proud to be gay? Should they ride on a parade float and come out in protests? If all of those of us who aren't gay came out to protest we would halt traffic," she said in the book, written by Spanish journalist Pilar Urbano ... "If those people want to live together, dress up like bride and groom and marry, they could have a right to do so, or not, depending on the law of their country, but they should not call this matrimony, because it isn't," she is quoted as saying. "There are many possible names: social contract, social union".

Iceland sees rift over EU membership. David Ibison, The FT (en)
" ... The first serious cracks in Iceland’s ruling Independence party on joining the European Union have appeared after its vice-chairman broke with party policy and said the crisis-hit nation should start thinking about membership now.
Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, minister of education, said an application for membership needed to be discussed “in weeks rather than months” ...
... A growing number of Icelanders believe the financial crisis could have been averted – or at least alleviated – if the tiny nation had pursued EU membership earlier and adopted the euro ...

Sarkozy leans on banks over lending. Scheherazade Daneshkhu and Ben Hall, The FT (en)
" ... The president summoned bank executives and Treasury officials to the Elysée palace to spell out in more detail their obligation to increase the amount of credit in the real economy by 3-4 per cent a year in return for €10.5bn ($13.5bn, £8.3bn) in subordinated loans from the government ...
... By putting pressure on the banks to perform, Mr Sarkozy has also deflected attention from the government and made it clear who people should blame if they cannot get credit ...
... The French Banking Federation said banks would pay on average 4 percentage points on top of the refinancing rate for their loans, which is neither punitive nor generous, analysts say.
But the state has adopted a hands-off approach – it has no power to dictate dividend policy, bankers’ pay or take a seat on the banks’ boards. Even the main condition – to maintain outstanding credit growth of 3-4 per cent – does not seem onerous in the context of last year’s 11 per cent rise ..."

EU okays French and Dutch bank schemes. Nikki Tait, The FT (en)
" ... Other schemes which have been given the green light came from the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Portugal. The commission remains in ”close contact” with several other member state governments and more approvals are expected in the coming days.
Both the French and Dutch plans have been approved with conditions. These include requiring the countries to renotify the scheme for approval in 6-8 months time, and to report to the commission on its implementation. In addition, there are undertakings that the countries will not discriminate over which banks can access the schemes, and that they will be open to subsidiaries of foreign banks operating in the respective markets. Similar conditions have been imposed on all the approved schemes ..."

New Anxiety Grips Russia’s Economy. Andrew E Kramer, The NYT (en)
" ... At the start of the global financial crisis, Russian authorities insisted they had ample cash reserves to weather any storm. But as sorrow has succeeded sorrow — plummeting oil prices, a 70 percent descent in stock markets here, a global credit crisis and a slow-motion bank run on this country’s private banks — Russia has had to spend its reserves faster than anybody imagined ... This week’s fall — $31 billion — was the steepest so far .... the question is: How long can Moscow keep this up before its reserves grow thin? ...
... Because so few Russians own stocks, the decline of the markets has not affected most of them directly. Instead, business people who relied on Western bank credit are now in the red, and foreign investors have fled to safer havens ...
... She said friends had decided to buy furniture. “If you have a couch, at least you have a couch, even if you have no money.” ..."

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