Europe

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday after meeting with leaders of Adam Opel GmbH that it was "not yet determined" whether the automaker would be given 1 billion euros ($1.25 billion) in loan guarantees from the government, the Associated Press reported yesterday. Opel, a subsidiary of General Motors Corp., is seeking the guarantees because the company expects difficult credit conditions on the open market due to the world financial crisis. Merkel said that government officials planned further talks on the issue and should come to a decision by Christmas.
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Eighty-five companies worldwide defaulted on their debt in the year through November 11, impacting a total of $284 billion, up sharply from the two previous years, Standard & Poor's said Monday. By comparison, there were only 22 defaults for all of 2007 and 30 in 2006, Reuters reported. Seventy of the 85 companies are based in the United States, five in Europe, four in Asia, three in Canada, two in Mexico and one in Russia, according to Diane Vazza, head of S&P's fixed income group.
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Troubled Italian airline Alitalia's debts have soared to some 2.3 billion euros, the company's special administrator said Sunday as a pilot and air crew strike caused a seventh day of cancelled flights, Agence France-Presse reported today. Augusto Fantozzi told RAI television he had "around two billion in ordinary debt for the supply of goods and services," before taking into account a 300-million-euro government loan. Alitalia's last publicly recorded debts going back to mid-2008 were 1.2 billion euros, although that figure did not include bills from suppliers.
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Japan, the world's second-largest economy, has fallen into recession, the government said Monday. The country's gross domestic product contracted at an annual rate of 0.4 percent from July to September, marking the second consecutive quarter of negative growth, the Washington Post reported today. Japan's economy minister warned that the situation could worsen: Collapsing sales of Japanese goods in the United States and Europe amid the global downturn threaten to make the country's export-dependent economy even weaker in coming months.
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Iceland agreed that European regulations require it to guarantee accounts of hundreds of thousands of Britons and other foreigners who are frozen in the online arm of one of the nation's collapsed banks, the government said Sunday. Recognition of the legal principle, which came in talks with European Union representatives, is a significant step toward freeing up a $2.1 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund, the Wall Street Journal reported today.
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Administrators of the European arm of failed investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. are meeting with creditors in London on Friday to sketch out the group's assets and liabilities, The Straits Times reported today. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which was drafted in as administrator to Lehman Brothers International (Europe) to unravel the complex web of the firm's tens of thousands of trades and attempt to claw back funds for creditors, said it will provide an update after the meeting.
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Icelanders will take to the streets in the thousands tomorrow to protest the government's failure to clinch a $6 billion International Monetary Fund-led loan while countries in less dire economic straits jump the IMF queue, Bloomberg reported today. Weekly protests in downtown Reykjavik may swell to 20,000 soon, or 6 percent of the population, said Andres Magnusson, chief executive of the Icelandic Federation of Trade and Services. The Atlantic island, which had the fifth-highest per capita income in the world last year, needs the money to finance imports and revive the banking system.
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The economy of the euro zone slipped into recession for the first time during the third quarter, the European Union’s statistics agency confirmed Friday, as the financial crisis continued to depress manufacturing activity and consumer demand, the New York Times reported today. Gross domestic product declined 0.2 percent in the third quarter from the previous three months in both the euro zone, which comprises the 15 countries that use the euro as their currency, and the European Union as a whole, according to an initial estimate published by the agency Eurostat.
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Japan will offer up to 10 trillion yen ($105 billion) to the International Monetary Fund to bailout nations reeling from the global financial crisis, The Nikkei newspaper reported Thursday. Japanese officials have repeatedly said Tokyo is ready to provide some of its ample cash for IMF loans if the multilateral group doesn't have enough funds for bailouts. But the ministers have not given an amount. The Nikkei, the nation's top business daily, said the amount is likely to be about 10 percent of Japan's $1 trillion foreign currency reserves.
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