Europe

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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Russian stocks plunged and Kuwait suspended trading as a slump in oil to below $55 a barrel roiled emerging markets and increased concern that Moscow will be forced to devalue the ruble, Bloomberg reported today. Russia's Micex Index fell as much as 17 percent and was 8.6 percent lower at 1:09 p.m. in Moscow after it reopened following a 30-minute trading suspension. A court in Kuwait ordered a shutdown as traders lobbied for support after a sixth day of declines.
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The European Commission on Wednesday gave its green light to a plan by Italian investors to create a new Italian airline using the flight operations of the failed national carrier Alitalia, ANSA reported. Last August the Italian government changed Italy's bankruptcy laws to allow Alitalia's more profitable flight operations to be spun off into a separate company and sold while the carrier's remaining assets, referred to as a 'bad company', would be declared bankrupt and liquidated to pay for the airline's debts of over one billion euros.
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Troubled German real-estate financier Hypo Real Estate Holding AG early Wednesday reported a €3.1 billion ($3.9 billion) provisional third-quarter loss and said it had completed negotiations with the German government to receive a €50 billion liquidity facility to shore up its funding needs, the Wall Street Journal Europe reported today. A €50 billion emergency liquidity facility package organized last month for Hypo RE will become available on Nov. 13, the company said.
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An international bail-out of crisis-hit Iceland appeared to be unravelling on Tuesday night as the International Monetary Fund withheld official backing for the $6 billion plan, the Financial Times reported yesterday. Iceland has also been left with a $500 million shortfall in the funds for the plan that it had hoped to raise from other international donors.
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