Financial crisis to last another year

The survey of analysts across Europe and the U.S. taken April 21-27 found a slim majority saying the bottom had yet to be hit in the worst global recession since the Second World War.

The vast bulk of them said the financial crisis that began in August 2007 and which has been pounding the world economy would last anywhere from six months to another two years — roughly what they said when polled one year ago.

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Hezbollah spy thriller grips Arab world

Bugged cars, mini-bars and the ‘party of God’ … no wonder the arrest of four alleged moles has the Middle East abuzz

Lebanese and Arab media are agog with details of the affair. The most prominent of those arrested is Adib Alam, a retired general with the country’s general security department. Alam, his wife and his nephew – a low-ranking serving security official – stand accused of gathering information about Lebanese and Syrian military and civilian targets “with the aim of facilitating Israeli attacks” and guiding Israeli planes to them.

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WHO – just one step from acknowledging a full-scale global epidemic

The designation means the WHO is aware of sustained human-to-human transmission in at least two countries.

“It is clear that the virus is spreading, and we don’t see any evidence of this slowing down,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda of the WHO, earlier in the day. “It is possible, always theoretically possible, that this epidemic could suddenly stop for unknown reasons, although this is probably unlikely at this point.”

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What Good Are Economists Anyway?

Why they failed to predict the global economic crisis—and why their help is still crucial to a recovery

Economists mostly failed to predict the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Now they can’t agree how to solve it. People are starting to wonder: What good are economists anyway? A commenter on a housing blog wrote recently that economists did a worse job of forecasting the housing market than either his father, who has no formal education, or his mother, who got up to second grade. “If you are an economist and did not see this coming, you should seriously reconsider the value of your education and maybe do something with a tangible value to society, like picking vegetables,” he wrote on patrick.net.

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Swine flu fear catching fast in weak world economy

The swine flu outbreak is unleashing a side effect the global economy is in no condition to handle: fear.

Travelers are canceling or delaying trips to Mexico, Cuba banned all flights to its neighbor and Argentina announced Tuesday a five-day ban on flights arriving from Mexico. China, Russia and South Korea have banned imports of some North American pork, despite assurances that the flu is not spread through meat. Investors just starting to regain their nerve have again caught the jitters.

The threat of a pandemic comes just as the world economy is showing the barest glimmerings of what analysts say might be the light at the end of what remains a long, dark tunnel. And now this.

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Current Crisis Shows Uncanny Parallels to Great Depression

Is history repeating itself? The current global downturn has many parallels to the Great Depression. And if the current massive bailout packages fail, the effect on the world’s economies could be similarly drastic. By SPIEGEL Staff more…


Chile – The Real Latin American Powerhouse

Chile is the only investment-grade country to be upgraded by Moody’s since the financial crisis began almost two years ago. The ratings agency also boosted the foreign currency ratings of four major Chilean banks.

There are two reasons why Chile’s economy, while not exactly vibrant at the moment, has caught the eye of Moody’s and a growing throng of investors. The first is the nation’s rich copper reserves. And the second is Chilean Finance Minister Andres Velasco, who had the foresight, long before this crisis ever started, to set aside $48.6 billion – more than 30% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) – that is now being used for tax cuts, subsidies and other government programs.

Velasco, who was one of the most-hated men in Chile as he squirreled away the country’s huge copper profit in the last boom cycle, is now President Michelle Bachelet’s most popular minister, Bloomberg News reported.

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Chile: The One Country That Was Prepared for the Financial Crisis

It makes you sit up and take notice when you see a Latin American political leader rebuking a British one for financial irresponsibility, but in this case, Bachelet was completely justified. Great Britain, even more so than the United States, was running big budget deficits well before the crash hit.

Meanwhile, Chile prepared for a downturn far better than either Britain or the United States, and is in a correspondingly better position now.

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Big Change Coming to Lebanon

Hezbollah, allies positioning to win election

A Hezbollah win would almost certainly mean changes that would dismay the West and Israel. It would mean less pressure from Lebanon’s government to rein in Hezbollah’s arsenal of rockets pointed at the Jewish state – weapons employed in the 2006 war with Israel – and more backing for efforts to change Lebanon’s electoral system to solidify Shi’ite power further.

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