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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Greece sells gambling monopoly stake

Category : Business

Greek-Czech investment fund Emma Delta snaps up 33% of Greek gambling monopoly Opap in Greece’s first big privatisation.

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Greek MPs vote through mass job cuts

Category : Business

The Greek parliament approves 15,000 civil service layoffs in return for more EU/IMF bailout money, as hundreds protest in the streets outside.

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Cosmos Give Bloggers A Chance to Win A Dream Greek Holiday

Category : Stocks, World News

Cosmos turns to the blogosphere in pursuit of the best Greek-island experience

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Cyprus bets on casinos to help boost economy after savings raid

Category : Business

President braves wrath of Orthodox church by including plan to lift ban on gambling among his initiatives to rescue economy

Cyprus is to lift a ban on casinos as part of measures to counter the economic shock of a much larger than expected 60% raid on the savings of the island’s most wealthy depositors.

President Nicos Anastasiades outlined a 12-point plan to rescue the troubled economy before travelling to Athens, where he was reported to be meeting the Greek prime minister to petition for €2bn in aid, despite Greece’s own economic collapse.

The Cypriot bailout is the first eurozone rescue package to punish savers by forcing them to hand over a slice of their savings in broken banks. The sums are far higher than original estimates that Bank of Cyprus depositors would take a 30% or 40% hit. The conditions were imposed when Cyprus was told to find €5.8bn as a condition of a €10bn loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Anastasiades has braved the wrath of the influential Orthodox church by declaring that he will allow casinos to operate in Cyprus. Gambling has until now been legal only on the northern, Turkish side of the island.

The president’s other initiatives, outlined in an interview with the newspaper Fileleftheros Sunday, include tax exemptions on business profits reinvested in Cyprus and encouraging homeowners to reduce rents.

Anastasiades, who came to power after elections in February, was understood to be holding talks with the Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, who backed demands from the European troika that Cyprus pay for its bailout with a raid on bank deposits.

To persuade Greece to hand over some of its own €48bn rescue loan, he planned to meet also with Samaras’s coalition partner Evangelos Venizelos, as well as opposition party leaders and Greek president Karolos Papoulias.

Bank of Cyprus customers with deposits of more than €100,000 learned at the weekend that 37.5% of any money they hold over that threshold will be converted into shares in the country’s largest bank, which are currently almost worthless. A further 22.5% of their savings will be put into a fund that earns no interest and could be confiscated should the bank need further funds.

The remaining 40% of large deposits at the Bank of Cyprus will be “temporarily frozen for liquidity reasons”, but continue to accrue existing levels of interest, plus another 10%, the central bank said.

The savings converted to bank shares would theoretically allow depositors to recover their losses. But the stock now holds little value and may never regain a value equal to the depositors’ losses.

Businesses have been particularly affected by the measures. Fast-growing digital company Viber is headquartered in Cyprus and offers a service similar to Skype, designed for mobile phones. Its CEO, Talmon Marco, said he was considering leaving the island. “This is an extremely poor decision. We are considering all options at the moment,” he added.

Cyprus’ finance minister Michalis Sarris said the measures were taken to put the Bank of Cyprus on a solid footing.

“We suffered a serious blow without doubt … but we now have a bank which is reformed and ready to assume its role in the Cypriot economy,” the state-run Cyprus News Agency quoted him as saying.

Observers have accused some of the 17 European countries that use the euro of wanting to see the end of Cyprus as an international financial services centre. They have also been accused of trying to send a message that European taxpayers will no longer shoulder the burden of bailing out problem banks.

But Germanfinance minister Wolfgang Schäeuble challenged that notion, insisting in an interview with the Bild newspaper published on Saturday that “Cyprus is and remains a special, isolated case”, and doesn’t point the way for future European rescue programs.

Recovery gambles

The Cypriot president, Nicos Anastasiades, will introduce 12 measures to relieve the crisis, to be implemented over the next six months. In a plan reminiscent of Spain’s project to create a EuroVegas gambling resort on farmland near Madrid, Cyprus wants to put forward legislation to allow its own casinos. This would be a public policy reversal for the island, which only last year banned online casinos and exchange betting.

Other measures include: forcing the housing department of housing to license development projects within at least 30 days; exempting company profits reinvested in Cyprus from tax; encouraging banks to lend for longer terms at lower rates; compelling businesses to ensure at least 70% of staff are Cypriot; finding ways to cut the cost of electricity; and nudging landlords to reduce rates with the threat of urgent interim measures if they do not respond.

Greek stocks tumble on eurozone woes

Category : Business

While U.S. stocks have taken a pause from the recent rally, Greek stocks have tumbled sharply as Europe’s woes are back in the limelight.

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Cyprus bailout crisis: panic replaces anger as bankruptcy looms

Category : Business

Locals speak of situation worsening ‘by the hour’ in descent far more rapid than Greece’s

‘It’s worse than a war. At least in a war you know who your enemies are,” said Thanassis Iracleous, standing behind a till as he discussed the escalating crisis in Cyprus. “On Friday they were our friends,” railed the pharmacist, whispering the word “German” in the same breath. “The very next morning they were suddenly our enemies.”

As wars go, the bespectacled Greek Cypriot is having a good one. Relatively speaking. On Thursday, six days into the island nation’s worst economic debacle in decades, Iracleous was still accepting credit cards and customers were still walking through the doors of the chemist he runs in the heart of Nicosia. But it is not clear how long he will be able to keep this up.

That is more than can be said for most retailers in Cyprus, the latest frontline in the eurozone’s ever bloody conflict of sovereignty and debt. With the country’s solvency hanging by a thread in the wake of the Cypriot parliament’s overwhelming rejection of the tough terms attached to financial rescue from the EU and IMF, panic has gradually replaced anger and the shock born of the brutal realisation that bankruptcy is no longer an abstract concept.

“Today, suppliers began demanding payments in cash,” said Iracleous, shaking his head incredulously. “Almost no one is accepting credit cards or cheques any more because everyone is saying that come Tuesday the game will be over. Our banks will have closed.”

Societies fending off default descend into chaos by stages. Poverty hit Greece after successive rounds of austerity. Over the course of three years of tumult and despair, helplessness followed hopelessness.

In Cyprus, the former British colony that prided itself on its spectacular economic recovery nearly 40 years after Turkey invaded and seized the island’s northern third, the descent has been more dramatic for being faster still. Locals speak of a situation worsening “by the hour”. In towns across the island’s southern sector, the panic spawned by uncertainty was underscored on Thursday by the long queues outside banks as fearful depositors rushed to withdraw cash from ATMs. “The radios, today, were full of talk that next week Laiki may not exist,” said Kypros Kyprianou, standing patiently in line outside a branch of the bank on Diogheni Akritas, one of the capital’s major avenues. “I’m waiting here till I get my cash,” he continued.

“On Saturday, ATMs were giving out €800. Now you can’t get more than €400 and already I’ve been in line for over a hour because the machine is only dispensing €40 at a time.”

A 38-year-old carpenter, Kyprianou is proud that all 56 of Cyprus’s MPs resoundingly rejected the bailout deal which, in an unprecedented step, stipulated that ordinary depositors pay part of the bill. “We are not like the Greeks who just sign up to whatever these people [the EU and IMF] dictate,” he boasted. “We can say no.”

But ever since the eruption of this latest stage of the crisis, the carpenter has been out of work. “There is no liquidity. The market has dried up. I was meant to get a deposit for a big project on a house on Saturday and it just fell through,” he said, “just like that.”

Vassos Pratziotis, a graphic designer who like Kyprianou is now withdrawing cash on a daily basis, says what is most worrying is that nobody knows what the future will bring. “There can’t not be a solution,” he said, drawing on a cigarette. “The problem is we have no idea what it is going to be. I’m very afraid that Laiki will collapse because the bank is my firm’s main client and for several months we haven’t been paid.”

Food shortages are not in evidence. But in a worrying sign on Thursday major chains reported that suppliers were beginning to reduce produce and even withhold goods if payments weren’t made in cash. “Many are insisting that we pay up front,” said Andriana Anisia, manager of a branch of the local supermarket co-operative Green Tree. “People are clearly panicking. Today, our milk supplies came and they were inexplicably thinner. Who knows what next week will bring?”

Britons who have retired to the island are also expressing alarm. In Nicosia many could be spotted similarly rushing to banks to cancel transfers of their pensions from the UK. “Our biggest worry is that the whole banking system is going to collapse, not just one or two banks,” said one, Francis Colley. “I called my pension fund and they said they are very concerned about the situation in Cyprus. Very, very concerned.”

The streets of Nicosia have fallen eerily quiet with the intensification of the showdown. Uncertainty over the financial lifeline is such that no one has much appetite for anything, locals say. “Even if you have work, your mind is somewhere else,” said Pratziotis. “Everyone is numb, really, with worry.”

In his pharmacy, Iracleous, like many Greek Cypriots, laid the blame squarely with Berlin. “It’s very simple. It’s all about money,” he said. “In this case Germany wanting to control the Russian oligarchs who have invested in our banks. If they leave Cyprus, which is what Merkel wants them to do, they will have to go somewhere else. Germany will be the top of that list. What we in Cyprus have learned is that you have to be very careful of your friends.”

VIDEO: Ex-Greek minister to face tax probe

Category : Business

Greek MPS have voted to launch a criminal investigation into ex-Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou.

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Ex-Greek minister faces tax probe

Category : Business

The Greek parliament votes to investigate ex-finance Minister George Papaconstantinou for allegedly tampering with a list suspected tax evaders.

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New five-euro note has goddess

Category : World News

The ancient Greek goddess Europa features on a new five-euro note unveiled by the European Central Bank.

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Greece and Germany: this is a crisis of cousins | Mark Terkessidis

Category : Business

My family’s experience shows how easily Greeks and Germans forget what they have in common

I recently bumped into a cousin in Switzerland. I hadn’t known she even existed – she and I never moved in the same family circles when I visited relatives in Athens. But since the start of the crisis, Greeks abroad have become more aware of their family trees. My relative completed a degree in Germany 25 years ago and returned to Greece to get a job in the food industry. Two years ago she was made redundant. For 18 months she tried to find work, then gave up and begged her mother to call her contacts in Germany – such as my father, her cousin once removed, who helped her move to Germany, and from thereon to Switzerland.

Although the German parliament should on Friday pass a deal that eases the pressure on the Greek economy, many Greeks have gone back to doing what they have always been good at: they activating networks of relatives in the diaspora and moving abroad. Statistics released this month show that Greek migration to Germany has shot up almost 80% in the past few years. They are a different breed to the unqualified workers from rural areas who moved abroad in the 1960s, however: the new migrant comes from one of the crisis-hit cities and has a bagful of degrees and qualifications.

In this respect, the Greek disaster is a German boon: the brain drain from the Mediterranean is helping to plug Germany’s chronic lack of qualified workers. And yet Greeks who arrive are rarely welcomed with open arms at German borders. A large part of the population still insists that “we” will end up having to cough up for “their” welfare. Out come all the old cliches: haven’t “those Greeks” always been feckless layabouts? People empathise with the situation in Greece but often wouldn’t want to go as far as letting out their flat to a Greek family.

Accepting that migration is once again part of the Greek experience isn’t easy for Greeks, either. Expectations are higher than they used to be. In the 90s, Greece had managed to turn itself from an emigration into an immigration country (even if not a particularly welcoming one, as the rise of Golden Dawn shows). In 2004, when Athens hosted the Olympics and the Greek football team won the European Championship, it briefly looked like the country had finally arrived in Europe. That dream has now come to a sudden end: in the eyes of most Europeans, we’ve been pegged back to “oriental” levels.

I grew up in Germany with a Greek father and a German mother, and I find it relatively easy to look at the situation from both sides of the divide. But for Greeks in Greece to accept partial responsibility in their downfall isn’t easy. Greece experienced modernisation, but no real reforms. Mentally, it never kept up with economic progress. The EU and the euro arrived and living standards rose, but in politics the same old family structures remained intact, tourists were served the same old souvlakis and moussakas for notched-up prices, and the country continued to consume, “Balkans-style” – as if the whole dream could be over by tomorrow.

Analysing what really happened during the boom years is much harder than blaming the big bad Germans, those heartless, work-obsessed robots. Of course you can question Angela Merkel’s austerity politics. And there’s no question that some Germans – much like many Greeks – have simply failed to grasp where the European project is at: there’s a widespread and enormously inflexible fixation with savings, wage restraint and fighting inflation that is simply outdated.

But ultimately Germany and Greece are simply opposite poles at a new phase of European integration. If you look at the relationship between the two countries from a distance, the overwhelming impression is not of a culture clash but a historical enmeshing. You only have to remember that the blue-and-white Greek flag is based on the colours of the state of Bavaria – whose Prince Otto became the first king