Daily Digest 8/15 - World Powers Eye Emergency Food Meeting, Ethanol Plant Suspends Operations
Spain's Prime Minister remains tight-lipped on whether he has decided to ask for more financial aid for his country, repeating instead Tuesday that he would wait until the European Central Bank outlines its plans and conditions for buying government bonds before making a move.
According to invoices retrieved through Right to Know requests, Harrisburg has spent roughly $210,000 in legal representation related to lawsuits arising from incinerator bonds. In a twisted way, Harrisburg taxpayers are paying for lawyers to not only sue a government that represents Harrisburg taxpayers, but also to defend themselves in suits they have in some small way paid for through their county taxes. County commissioners said they have tried to negotiate fairly with the city, but insist the city — namely City Council — has not reciprocated.
Leading members of the Group of 20 (G-20) nations are prepared to trigger an emergency meeting to address soaring grain prices caused by the worst U.S. drought in more than half a century and poor crops from the Black Sea bread basket.
France, the United States and G-20 president Mexico will hold a conference call at the end of August to consider whether an emergency international meeting is required, aiming to avoid a repetition of the food price spike that triggered riots in poorer countries in 2008.
The high price and low supply of corn has idled an ethanol plant in Little Falls. The Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-op has suspended operations. The plant's general manager, Dana Persson, says that until they can buy corn or sell ethanol at a better price, it's to their advantage to stop production.
Water bills soared by an average of 69.8% in Italy between 2002 and this year, it said. At the same time, the cost of natural gas rose by 56.7%; waste-collection fees jumped by 54.5%; train tickets jumped by 49.8%; electricity by 38.2%; and postal services increased by 28.7%. The only decrease was reported in the price of telephone services, which dropped by 7.7% in the past decade. Over the same period, the national inflation rate rose by 24%.
The European Union is ready to further bolster Spain if it asks for help, the bloc‘s economy commissioner said Tuesday, amid speculation that the country will need more financial aid. "The European Commission and the Eurogroup stand ready to take action if needed," Olli Rehn told broadcaster CNBC during a visit to the United States.
A global food crisis may “hit us very soon” as a drought ravages corn crops in the U.S., the world’s largest grower,
the International Food Policy Research Institute said. Governments must act to prevent the crisis, Shenggen Fan, director-general of the institute, said today. The U.S. should end its biofuel program that uses 40 percent of its corn output, to boost supplies to meat producers, Fan said.
The chairman of Nestle, the world's biggest food group, warned that the world faced a worse hunger crisis than in 2008 given the amount of land devoted to producing biofuels instead of food.
The spread of bad loans because of Greece's long-running recession threatens the viability of the country's financial system and jeopardizes the already slim chances of success for the country's second bailout deal, senior Greek bankers warned.
Senior banking officials in the euro zone's most troubled country say that they are now labelling as bad 20% of their loans to the domestic economy, as the recession and successive waves of budget cuts deprive companies and households of the means to repay their loans.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, facing a tumultuous political year, has returned from holidays, only to face a deepening Eurozone crisis and threats from her senior ministers that Germany should veto the next aid package for Greece.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Deputy Parliamentary leader, Michael Fuchs, stated that his country would veto the next Greek aid package if Greece fails to make $14.16 billion in cuts demanded by international lenders. Germany is the biggest contributor to bailouts from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB.)
America has had an AA+ rating with a negative outlook since Aug. 5, 2011, when S&P downgraded the country for the first time, citing the government’s failure to agree on a plan to reduce deficits. The grade may be cut again by 2014, the New York-based unit of McGraw-Hill Cos. said in a June 8 report.
“The U.S. fiscal profile has continued to gradually deteriorate since last summer, at a rate in-between our base- case scenario and our downside scenario of August 2011, keeping the U.S. at the high end of our indebtedness range,” Swann said in an interview published today by MNI.
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