Greek Crisis Leaves Cyprus Mired in Debt - (www.nytimes.com) Michalis Sarris is not the only European banker working seven days a week, trying to scrape together enough capital to satisfy regulators and keep his institution afloat. But he may be the only one with the financial fate of his nation potentially hanging in the balance. Mr. Sarris, a 65-year-old onetime World Bank economist and former Cypriot finance minister, was drafted by bank regulators in January to take over as chairman of Cyprus’s largest financial institution, Cyprus Popular Bank, formerly known as Marfin Popular Bank. It is now his job to find investors willing to help put €1.8 billion, or $2.4 billion, in new money into the bank, which was devastated by its exposure to bad Greek debt. Given the perilous state of the Cypriot economy, it is no easy assignment. And there is not much time left: Banks in Europe must demonstrate to the European Banking Authority by the end of June that they have enough capital to be viable.
Fed May Extend Support Past 2014, Official Says - (www.nytimes.com) Janet L. Yellen (the most liberal member of the FED), the vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, said Wednesday that the lackluster trajectory of the economic recovery might require the Fed to continue its efforts to bolster growth even beyond the end of 2014. In a speech in Manhattan, Ms. Yellen offered a rejoinder to recent remarks by other Fed officials and investors warning that the Fed would need to raise interest rates well before the end of 2014 to prevent an increase in the rate of inflation. She indicated that the Fed’s leadership, including the chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, remained firmly committed to the central bank’s efforts to suppress interest rates and reduce the cost of borrowing for businesses and consumers. “I anticipate that the U.S. economy will continue to recover only gradually and that labor market slack will remain substantial for a number of years to come,” Ms. Yellen said, according to an advance copy of her prepared remarks.
Italy 3-yr debt costs rise sharply at auction - (www.reuters.com) Italian three-year borrowing costs rose more than a full percentage point at an auction on Thursday, boosted by fresh concerns about weaker euro zone states, and Italy slightly missed its maximum planned amount of 3 billion euros for this bond. Italy paid 3.89 percent to sell its three-year March 2015 bond, up from 2.76 percent at an auction a month ago. The 2.88 billion euro sale was covered 1.44 times, down from a bid-to-cover of 1.56 at last month's bigger sale. This was the highest three-year yield since mid-January.
US Housing Secretary Pushes Mortgage Write-Downs For Fannie, Freddie - (www.huffingtonpost.com) The Obama administration wants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which finance the bulk of U.S. mortgages, to start reducing loan balances for troubled borrowers, but with safeguards to prevent them from purposely defaulting to obtain relief. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan laid out the case for a program with such checks and balances to convince the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates the companies, to provide more mortgage aid. "This isn't about force; this is about making the right decision for homeowners and for the taxpayers," Donovan said in an interview taped for C-SPAN's public affairs television that was set to air on Sunday.
Kid who sold kidney for iPad helps police arrest five in organ trading scam - (news.yahoo.com) In June 2011 we wrote about a strange case of a 17-year-old Chinese boy who sold one of his kidneysfor $3,500 so he could afford a then-new iPad 2 tablet. At the time, police had been attempting to track down the parties responsible for both the surgery and the seedy organ trading ring behind it all. Now, nearly a year later, the young man is in the hospital and a total of five people have been arrested. The mother of the boy was first tipped off to her son's unorthodox dealings when she noticed him playing with the brand new Apple tablet. Knowing he couldn't have afforded it on his own, she grilled him until he confessed that he was now without one of his kidneys thanks to the shady operation.