Thursday, December 13, 2012

Friday December 14 Housing and Economic stories


German media lament 'never-ending story' of Greek bailouts - ( German media accused the government on Wednesday of deceiving taxpayers over the true costs of saving Greece and said the euro zone would eventually have to write off much of its Greek debt. The Bundestag, the lower house of Germany's parliament, is expected to vote later this week on the package of measures agreed by euro zone finance ministers late on Monday that aim to cut Greek debt to 124 percent of gross domestic product by 2020. The Bundestag's approval is not in doubt but the chorus of anger and frustration reverberating among German newspapers and lawmakers highlights the growing political risks for Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of next September's federal elections. "The never-ending story," quipped Germany's best-selling Bild of the latest Greek rescue, depicting Merkel, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and other top officials as characters from the cult fantasy film of the same name. In a commentary, Bild's Hugo Mueller-Vogg reached for a medical metaphor to restate the paper's long-standing opposition to euro zone bailouts it says German taxpayers cannot afford. "The team of European doctors around the patient's bed justify the continually rising costs of the treatment with the hope that at some point the expensive medicines will prove effective," wrote Mueller-Vogg.

Schaeuble Signals Greece May Need More Help as Bild Slams Deal - ( Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble signaled that Greece may need additional help as the country’s most-read newspaper slammed a rescue accord as a “never-ending story” financed by German taxpayers. Euro-area governments may provide additional funding through the European Union structural fund and further interest- payment reduction as long as Greece meets all its obligations under the agreement, Schaeuble wrote in a letter to German lawmakers obtained by Bloomberg News. Legislators in the lower house, or Bundestag, will vote on the measure on Nov. 30. They may confront increased public resistance as Bild- Zeitung, a tabloid that’s called in the past for Greece’s exit from the currency union, pilloried yesterday’s agreement in Brussels to ease terms on emergency aid for Greece.

China Mafia-Style Hack Attack Drives California Firm to Brink - ( During his civil lawsuit against the People’s Republic of China, Brian Milburn says he never once saw one of the country’s lawyers. He read no court documents from China’s attorneys because they filed none. The voluminous case record at the U.S. District courthouse in Santa Ana contains a single communication from China: a curt letter to the U.S. State Department, urging that the suit be dismissed. That doesn’t mean Milburn’s adversary had no contact with him. For three years, a group of hackers from China waged a relentless campaign of cyber harassment against Solid Oak Software Inc., Milburn’s family-owned, eight-person firm in Santa BarbaraCalifornia. The attack began less than two weeks after Milburn publicly accused China of appropriating his company’s parental filtering software, CYBERsitter, for a national Internet censoring project. And it ended shortly after he settled a $2.2 billion lawsuit against the Chinese government and a string of computer companies last April.

Forget Spain, Now Italy Is Seen Needing Bailout in 2013 - ( Even as markets have been focused on a potential bailout for Spain, analysts say Italy, which is heading for a protracted recession, may also need aid in 2013. Although Mario Monti’s technocrat government forecasts the Italian economy will decline only marginally in 2013, analysts at Citi predict a steeper contraction of 1.4 percent, after a 2.3 percent fall this year. Meanwhile, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development lowered its 2013 estimate for Italy on Tuesday to a one percent contraction. On top of the economic weakness is growing political uncertainty. Monti’s term ends next year and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has lashed out at the government’s austerity measures, has hinted he may run for election again.

Icelandic Mortgage Bank HFF Needs Government Bailout - (  Four years after letting its commercial banks default on $85 billion, Iceland is preparing to bail out the nation’s biggest mortgage lender and dodge a junk rating from Moody’s Investors Service. The bill for the capital injection is unlikely to exceed 13 billion kronur ($103 million), the government said in a statement to the stock exchange yesterday, confirming comments by Sigridur Ingibjorg Ingadottir, who heads the parliament’s welfare committee. Iceland’s Housing Finance Fund also “needs to renegotiate the terms of its debt,” Ingadottir said in an interview yesterday.

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