Economic News

14/11/2011

Dubai Airshow: Emirates places ‘record’ Boeing order

Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum (R) with Boeing's president of commercial airplanes Jim Albaugh (L)
Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum says the deal is a milestone

Dubai-based Emirates Airlines has ordered 50 long-range Boeing 777 passenger aircraft in an order worth about $18bn (£11.2bn) at list prices.

The carrier’s chairman and chief executive, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum said it was the single largest dollar-value order for Boeing aircraft.

“This order represents a milestone,” he said after announcing the contract at the Dubai Airshow.

Emirates has also placed options for more jets, worth another $8bn.

The latest announcement take Emirates’ firm orders of the long-range aircraft to 90.

Emirates, one of the world’s fastest growing carriers, last year placed an order for 30 Boeing 777 planes worth $9.1bn in a deal announced at the UK’s Farnborough Airshow.

Emirates has led efforts by Gulf-based airlines to challenge European and Asian carriers by establishing the region as a major East-West hub.

Sheikh Ahmed said the new order underlines Emirates’ strategy to “expand our long haul destinations and continue to excel as a world leading carrier, connecting the world to Dubai and beyond”.

The airline is the largest single customer of the Airbus superjumbo aircraft, the A380, with a purchase list of 90 units.

James Albaugh, Boeing president of commercial airplanes, said the 777 order would sustain thousands of US jobs.

Boeing delivered 127 commercial airplanes in the third quarter of 2011, including 100 of its best-selling 737 narrowbodies and 21 widebody 777s.

12 November 2011

Obama to host Apec summit focusing on global crisis

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the APEC meeting in Honolulu 11 November 2011
Hillary Clinton called for a more dynamic trans-Pacific system

US President Barack Obama has gone to Hawaii, where this weekend he is hosting leaders from Asia Pacific countries at the annual Apec summit.

The heads of state are expected to discuss how to tackle the global financial crisis.

In particular, they are looking to protect the region from Europe’s economic difficulties.

President Obama is hoping to establish a free trade zone with several countries in the region.

The 21 members of Apec account for about 40% of the world’s population and 44% of global trade.

The meeting, which brings together leaders from Russia to Chile, is focused on creating jobs and business through measures like investment in infrastructure.

The BBC’s Kim Ghattas in Washington says the United States sees Asia as essential to America’s future, both economically and strategically.

High stakes

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in opening a meeting of foreign and economic ministers in Honolulu that many forces outside the Pacific region would have an impact on it.

“Global trends and world events have given us a full and formidable agenda,” she said. “And the stakes are high for all of us.”

The free trade area around the Pacific rim, or Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) currently includes Chile, New Zealand, Brunei and Singapore – all relatively small economies.

The US, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Peru are negotiating to join.

And Japan, the world’s third largest economy, has now said it also wants to join the talks, which are likely to take place on the sidelines of the summit.

The announcement was made by the Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, before setting off for the APEC summit in Hawaii.

The question of whether to take part in the talks has split the governing Democratic Party of Japan.

The TPP could transform Japan’s stagnant economy by helping its exporters get more access to the dynamic markets of Asia.

In principle it would eliminate all trade barriers between Japan and the nine other nations involved.

But it would also expose Japanese farmers – up to now protected by some of the highest tariffs in the world – to competition.

Lobby groups have warned agriculture could be ruined and there have been protests in Tokyo.

But the IMF chief, Christine Lagarde, says she welcomed Japan’s decision to enter talks towards an Asia-Pacific free trade deal.

13/10/2011

Bangladesh unveils $130 ‘Doel’ laptops

By Anbarasan EthirajanBBC News, Dhaka

Doel laptopCritics say that poor internet connectivity may affect the usefulness of the laptops

Bangladesh has unveiled a domestically made laptop which officials claim is one of the cheapest in the world.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched the computer, named Doel, at a ceremony in the capital Dhaka on Tuesday. It is the first laptop made in the country.

The state-owned telecoms company Telephone Shilpa Sangstha (TSS) is producing four models of the laptop.

The most basic one is priced at 10,000 taka ($130/£83). The primary model runs the android operating system.

“This is a big step towards building a digital Bangladesh. When villages get laptops at a cheaper price they will be connected to the internet and that will bring lots of benefits,” TSS managing director Mohammad Ismail told the BBC.

Initially, the laptop will be distributed to various government departments. But later on they will be made available to the public and to tens of millions of students.

Mr Ismail said that at the moment Bangladesh is producing 10% of the components for the laptop and the rest are imported.

“But within six months we will be able to produce 60% of the components,” he said.

However, the country’s internet connectivity remains poor and critics have raised doubts whether the distribution of laptops alone will help the country to connect digitally.

The government has launched an ambitious plan, known as Digital Bangladesh, with the aim of digitally connecting the country by 2021.

“Every part of the country will be brought under e-governance, while the telecommunication system is being modernised to cut the digital divide,” Sheikh Hasina said during the inauguration.

BBC TECH…………..

12/10/2011

Blackberry users complain of fresh crash

BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat listeners described how the crash affected them

Blackberry users have complained of a fresh crash hours after the company which makes the smartphones, RIM, said all services were “operating normally”.

On Twitter angry users reported renewed issues with their handsets and an inability to send messages and email.

The initial blackout saw Blackberry services across Europe, the Middle East and Africa disrupted – but that has now spread to Latin America.

RIM said the problems were caused by core and back-up switch failures.

One tweeter summed up the mood of many: “Blackberry server down AGAIN?!!! you have got to be kidding me!!!!!”

‘Data backlog’

Many called on the phone firm to “sort out” the problems and get the network running again.

RIM acknowledged it was still experiencing problems and apologised for the inconvenience.

“The messaging and browsing delays… in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure,” a company statement said.

“Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested.

“As a result, a large backlog of data was generated and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible.”

The crash comes only a few hours after RIM had issued a statement which said all services were now “operating normally”.

That blackout left millions of users without email, web browsing and Blackberry Messaging (BBM) services following the crash around 11:00 BST on 10 October.

The cause is believed to be due to server problems at RIM’s Slough data centre.

Blackberry users around the world began reporting problems with their handsets mid-morning on 10 October and at 14:42 BST, Blackberry UK sent out a tweet which said: “Some users in EMEA are experiencing issues.”

The “issues” left many Blackberry owners only able to text and make calls.

‘Harsh criticism’

Many corporate customers said they had not lost service, suggesting that the problem was with Blackberry’s BIS consumer systems, rather than its BES enterprise systems.

“Blackberry runs two infrastructures,” explained Simon Butler, a Microsoft Exchange consultant at Sembee.

“The understanding I have is that the BIS service has crashed.

“The business side runs on a different set of servers, although enterprise Blackberrys can still use messenger and the consumer services, so they are also affected,” said Mr Butler.

Such a major failure will still come as unwelcome news to Blackberry’s owner RIM, which has been losing market share to smartphone rivals – in particular Apple’s iPhone.

Many corporate clients have switched to the device after Apple made a concerted effort to improve its support for secure business email systems.

Malik Saadi, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, said RIM would have to resolve the problem quickly.

“The current situation with the Blackberry outages couldn’t come at a worse time for RIM, following some harsh criticism in recent months,” he said.

Such crashes may lead RIM and others to “re-evaluate their reliance on centralised servers and instead look to investing in more corporately controlled servers”, he added.

But he thinks customers will stick with the firm despite current frustrations.

“It will take more than just a couple of collapses to persuade loyal consumers of Blackberry services to look for alternatives,” he said.

Many of those complaining about the crash said on Twitter that they could not live without access to BBM.

BBC……

10/10/2011

US economy adds more jobs than forecast in September

Jobs fair in LA organised by the Congressional Black Caucus
President Barack Obama is struggling to get a massive jobs package through Congress

US Economy

The US economy added 103,000 jobs in September, ahead of many economists’ expectations.

But the jobless rate was stuck at 9.1%, according to latest data from the Department of Labor.

Although the figures were boosted by the return to work of striking workers, the department also revised upwards employment data from August and July.

Last month, President Barack Obama unveiled a $450bn (£282bn) package of spending plans aimed at creating jobs.

The White House said that despite the new jobs, the unemployment rate remained “unacceptably high”.

“Clearly, we need faster economic growth to put Americans back to work. Today’s report underscores the president’s call for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act to put more money in the pockets of working and middle class families,” it said in its regular blog.

The private sector accounted for all the job gains, and the figures were boosted by the return of 45,000 Verizon telecoms workers who had been on strike in August.

Analysis

image of Mark MardellMark MardellBBC North America editor

These latest stats confirm the picture of an economy that feels sluggish to the point of stagnation, but is at least taking tiny steps in the right direction, albeit painfully slowly.

After last month’s dramatic headline of zero growth, there were new jobs. Business services and healthcare are doing quite well. Construction is looking up for the first time since February. But shops are still cutting jobs and so is the government, in big numbers: a loss of 34,000 jobs. Still, that’s less than last month.

This isn’t great news, but at least these figures, on their own, don’t point to another recession.

Excluding those workers, the number of jobs created was still at a higher-than-predicted 58,000.

The aggregate weekly hours being worked also rose, the Labor Department said.

While the jobs report was better than feared, Tom Porcelli, chief US economist at RBC Capital Markets, said it did not suggest the economy was gaining momentum

“It moves you away from the ledge,” he said.

The report gave a lift to Wall Street, with the three main share indexes rising in early trading. However, a downgrade of Spanish and Italian government debt by ratings agency Fitch undermined investor confidence, and the main Dow Jones index closed down 20 points at 11,103.

Improved picture

The US government shed 34,000 jobs in September, and there were large redundancies in local government of teachers and other school employees.

Job gains were seen in construction, retail, temporary help services and health care. There was a fall in the number of jobs in manufacturing for the second straight month.

Previously, data for August had showed the economy added no new jobs, underlying fears that the US was heading back towards recession.

But the revised August figures show a gain of 57,000 jobs. July was revised up to a gain of 127,000 jobs, from 85,000.

Mr Obama’s jobs programme proposes funding huge construction projects, schools and services, while giving tax cuts to workers and small businesses to boost recruitment.

However, with Republicans having rejected a proposed tax rise on wealthier people to pay for it, Mr Obama is fighting to get the package through Congress.

BBC……..

05/10/2011

Boehner says Senate currency bill ‘pretty dangerous’

House Speaker Boehner has said taking action againstChina’s currency peg is beyond the scope of Congress

A top US Republican has criticised a Senate bill that could penaliseChinafor alleged currency undervaluation.

The Senate voted on Monday by 79-19 to debate legislation that could make it easier to impose penalties againstUStrade partners.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said it was “pretty dangerous” for Congress to tell other countries how to run their monetary policy.

Beijingsaid it “firmly opposed” the measure.

The bill would give theUSgovernment the power to add tariffs to goods imported from countries deemed to be undervaluing their currencies to boost exports.

The proposed law does not mentionChinaby name, but manyUSpoliticians accusedChinaof subsidising exports by holding down the value of the yuan, costing US jobs.

‘Unfair trade practices’

Analysts expressed concern that the bill could damage relations withChina, which is the biggest holder ofUSdebt, at a time when the American economy is still fragile.

Crisis jargon buster

Use the dropdown for easy-to-understand explanations of key financial terms:
Currency peg GO
Currency peg

A commitment by a government to maintain its currency at a fixed value in relation to another currency. Sometimes pegs are used to keep a currency strong, in order to help reduce inflation. In this case, a central bank may have to sell its reserves of foreign currency and buy up domestic currency in order to defend the peg. If the central bank runs out of foreign currency reserves, then the peg will collapse.
Pegs can also be used to help keep a currency weak in order to gain a competitive advantage in trade and boost exports.China has been accused of doing this. The People’s Bank of China has accumulated trillions of dollars in US government bonds, because of its policy of selling yuan and buying dollars – a policy that has the effect of keeping the yuan weak.

Glossary in full

And Mr Boehner said: “This is well beyond what Congress ought to be doing, and while I’ve got concerns about how the Chinese have dealt with their currency, I’m not sure this is the way to fix it.”

But he came under attack from Democrats over his opposition to the Senate bill, which has bipartisan support in Congress.

“For some inexplicable reason, the Republican leadership in the House is siding with the Chinese government. This is not the time to go soft onBeijing,” said Democratic Senator Charles Schumer.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid meanwhile said: “We can’t ignore blatant, unfair trade practices that put American workers at a disadvantage.”

At the same time, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said thatChina’s yuan policy hindered a more balanced growth path.

UnhappyChina

Beijinghas expressed “regret” over the measure. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said it “seriously interferes with Sino-US trade ties”.

“The yuan exchange rate is not the main reason for the Sino-US trade imbalance,” said the Chinese central bank, the People’s Bank of China.

Analysts have argued that the Chinese currency could be undervalued by as much as 20-40% in relation to the US dollar.

The effect of such a policy would make Chinese goods cheaper in the US, and US goods more expensive inChina.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Obama administration was still reviewing the currency bill.

The Senate could vote on the bill later in the week.

05/10/2011

Apple unveils refreshed iPhone 4S, but no iPhone 5

Rory Cellan-Jones looks at Apple’s new iPhone 4S

Apple has unveiled the latest iteration in its iPhone range, but there was no sign of the widely rumoured iPhone 5.

The iPhone 4S, as the model will be known, boasts an improved camera and significantly extended battery life.

It will run the latest iOS5 operating system, which is set for release on 12 October.

The event was the first major announcement for new boss Tim Cook who took over from Steve Jobs in August.

The iPhone 4S, which will go on sale on 14 October, will be available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models – in both black and white.

It has the same look and feel as the existing iPhone 4 which was launched 15 months ago.

However, Apple said that updates to iOS meant the phone would boast some “200 new features”.

LAST UPDATED AT 04 OCT 2011, 20:01 GMTApple Inc. twelve month chart

price change %
372.11

-2.49

-0.66

Shares in Apple fell by almost 5% within minutes of the eagerly anticipated launch, with analysts saying that investors and Apple fans had expected the latest version to be a more radical improvement over its predecessor.

However, the company’s shares later regained most of their losses to close down just 0.6%, albeit underperforming the NASDAQ index as a whole.

Voice control

Among the additions is an “intelligent assistant” that allows users to ask questions aloud and receive detailed answers back.

Siri, which began life as a third-party app, was purchased by Apple in 2010 but has yet to appear within its software.

Luke Peters, editor of gadget magazine T3, said that the software announcements would do just enough to keep Apple fans interested in the face of strong challenges from rival smartphone manufacturers.

image of Rory Cellan-JonesAnalysisRory Cellan-JonesTechnology correspondent

You could sense a great wave of disappointment rolling through the Apple community.

Why rush out and buy the new, new thing if it looks just like that old phone that’s been around for more than a year?

“Some people were looking for a brand new phone and they haven’t got that today, so some will be disappointed,” he told BBC News.

“But with the update to iOS5 and Siri that could be enough to sway people to make the investment.”

Disappointment

Other industry watchers were less charitable about the iPhone refresh, and the non-appearance of the iPhone 5.

Gareth Beavis, phones editor at TechRadar said that the new hardware would leave many people underwhelmed.

“It was quite disappointing. I think there is going to be a lot of anger from users expecting something big bold and quite exciting after a long time of waiting from the iPhone 4.

“People will buy this in their droves, but Apple has missed a trick by just releasing the exact same phone again with marginally upgraded specs.”

Details of the new phone were unveiled by Apple’s Philip Schiller

For Apple’s new chief executive, the event was as much about making a statement about his leadership as it was new products.

Tim Cook had previously acted as interim boss, looking after the company while Steve Jobs was on sick leave.

Unlike his charismatic predecessor, Mr Cook left the biggest announcement of Tuesday’s event to a colleague – marketing boss Phil Schiller.

“Maybe he wants to bring other people to the forefront by letting others speak on his behalf,” said Gregory Roekens, chief technology officer at PR firm Wunderman.

“But in terms of style, it was underwhelming. People were expecting iPhone 5, but instead it’s almost fixing the weaknesses the previous phones had.

“It will be interesting to see how people react to that.”

BBC….

04/10/2011

Eurozone delays decision on next Greek payout

Market Data

LAST UPDATED AT 07:32 GMT

Dow Jones 10655.30 Down -258.08 -2.36%
Nasdaq 2335.83 Down -79.57 -3.29%
FTSE 100 5003.16 Down -72.34 -1.43%
Dax 5278.57 Down -98.13 -1.83%
Cac 40 2870.63 Down -56.20 -1.92%
BBC Global 30 5178.29 Down -33.78 -0.65%

Marketwatch ticker

DATA DELAYED BY 15 MINS

Eurozone finance ministers have delayed a decision on giving Greece its next instalment of bailout cash.

It came after Greece said it would not meet this year’s deficit cutting target, sending shares lower on Monday.

A meeting set for 13 October, when finance ministers had been expected to sign off the next Greek loan, has now been cancelled, says BBC Europe correspondent Chris Morris.

As a result, Greece may not get its next loan tranche until November.

Greece has previously said it needed the money by mid-October to avoid defaulting on its loans, but Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said at a meeting of finance ministers in Luxembourg that the country would be able to meet its financial obligations as long as it received the next 8bn-euro (£6.9bn; $10.9bn) tranche of money in November.

Mr Juncker also ruled out the possibility of a debt default by Greece – denying rumours that some countries, including Germany, had been pushing for this.

The meeting also appeared to reach a deal to let Finland receive collateral as security for its contribution towards the eurozone bailout fund – the European Financial Stability Fund.

The Finns had threatened to block further bailouts to Greece unless it received this special arrangement.

‘No default’

Athens announced that the 2011 deficit was projected to be 8.5% of GDP, down from 10.5% in 2010 but short of the 7.6% target set by the EU and IMF.

The government, which on Sunday adopted its 2012 draft austerity budget, blamed the shortfall on deepening recession.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

Equity and debt markets haven’t imploded today, but my goodness bankers are feeling jumpy”

image of Robert PestonRobert PestonBusiness editor, BBC News

Inspectors from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Union (EU) and European Central Bank are currently in Athens to examine Greece’s financial position.

Crisis jargon buster
Use the dropdown for easy-to-understand explanations of key financial terms:

Debt restructuringGO

Debt restructuring
A situation in which a borrower renegotiates the terms of its debts, usually in order to reduce short-term debt repayments and to increase the amount of time it has to repay them. If lenders do not agree to the change in repayment terms, or if the restructuring results in an obvious loss to lenders, then it is generally considered a default by the borrower. However, restructurings can also occur through a voluntary debt swap, in which case it can be very hard to determine whether it counts as a default.

Meanwhile, emergency talks over the future of Franco-Belgian bank Dexia added to market fears that a Greek default could spark a banking crisis.

The bank’s board called an emergency meeting late on Monday as rating agency Moody’s announced it was reviewing the bank’s credit rating for a downgrade because of its exposure to Greek debt.

After the meeting, the bank said it would “resolve the structural problems” that are exacerbating concerns over how it will deal with any type of default by Greece.

Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders said Belgium and France would “step in if necessary” to support Dexia.

Bank stocks

The UK’s FTSE 100 lost 1% by the close of trading on Monday, French shares fell 1.9% and German stocks shed 2.3%.

The sell-off continued into New York trading hours, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ending the day 2.4% lower.

US markets are now right at the bottom of the 10% range within which they have swung violently up and down for the last two months.

Banking stocks were also among the biggest fallers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

Until we get a bigger and better package coming through [from eurozone leaders] trading will remain volatile”

Alec LetchfieldHSBC Asset Management

In Europe, Dexia initially fell as much as 14%, but recovered to be only 10.1% down by the close of European trading, while France’s Societe Generale was down 5.2% and Germany’s Commerzbank fell 7.3%.

In the US, the banks seen as most at risk from a renewed global financial crisis fell sharply, with Citigroup down 9.8%, Bank of America 9.6% and Morgan Stanley 7.7%.

Industrial stocks – which are most exposed to any renewed economic downturn – were also among the worst hit.

Analyst Alec Letchfield, chief investment officer at HSBC Asset Management, said markets would remain turbulent until eurozone leaders tackled the debt problem.

“Until we get a bigger and better package coming through, trading will remain volatile,” he said.

In the currency markets, the euro fell sharply, down 1.4% against the dollar in late trading, and dropping 2% to a decade low of 101 yen against the safe-haven Japanese currency.

‘Unanimously approved’

The Greek finance ministry said on Sunday that its unpopular austerity measures would have to be adhered to.

It said: “Three critical months remain to finish 2011, and the final estimate of 8.5% of GDP deficit can be achieved if the state mechanism and citizens respond accordingly.”

Continue reading the main story

Crisis Countdown

  • 3 Oct: Original deadline for Greece to receive next 8bn-euro tranche of bailout funds;
  • Next few days: Troika decides whether to recommend that Greece gets the next tranche;
  • 9 Oct: Leaders of Germany and France to hold talks;
  • 14-15 Oct: G20 finance ministers meet in Paris;
  • 17 Oct: Slovakia votes on whether to expand the European Financial Stability Facility. Members of the coalition government have vowed to block expansion;
  • 17-18 Oct: European Union summit in Brussels;
  • End of Oct: Greece to get next bailout money – assuming no more hurdles;
  • 3-4 Nov: G20 summit in Cannes, France. World leaders, including Barack Obama, want evidence that Europe have got control of debt crisis

It released figures for 2012’s projected deficit, putting it at 6.8% of GDP, also short of the 6.5% target.

The data came as the government met to approve Greece’s draft budget for next year.

It blamed an economic contraction this year of 5.5% – rather than May’s 3.8% estimate – for the failure to meet deficit targets.

The cabinet meeting also approved a measure to put 30,000 civil service staff on “labour reserve” by the end of the year.

This places them on partial pay with possible dismissal after a year.

“The labour reserve measure was approved unanimously,” one deputy minister told Reuters.

This measure, along with other wage cuts and tax rises, have been part of a package intended to persuade the so called “troika” of the EU, IMF and ECB to continue with the bailouts.

The Greek austerity measures are hugely unpopular at home and have led to a wave of strikes and protests.

Many Greeks believe the austerity measures are strangling any chance of growth.

Are you in Greece? What do you think of the budget deficit targets set by the EU and IMF? Please fill in the form below if you are willing to be interviewed by the BBC.

BBC…..

27/09/2011

Libya’s stock market will ready to resume trading

Libya’s stock market will be ready to resume trading in about one month, says the head of the Benghazi exchange branch. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

 

Story

 

Preparing to open for business in Libya.

Libya’s stock market will be ready to resume trading in about one month…and the hope is to attract more foreign investors.

Nagib Abdel Salam Obeida is the head of the benghazi Exchange.

SOUNDBITE: Nagib Abdel Salam Obeida, Head of the Benghazi Exchange saying: (Arabic):

“In all honesty, we are expecting to be able to resume trading within a month, God willing.”

Trading in the market, which used to operate in Tripoli and Benghazi simultaneously, has been halted since February 17, the day an uprising started in Benghazi.

Under Muammar Gaddafi, Libya was touted as having the potential to become a Dubai-style financial hub but corruption and arbitrary rule changes frightened off investors.

SOUNDBITE: Nagib Abdel Salam Obeida, Head of the Benghazi Exchange saying: (Arabic):

“This is also one of the principles that needs to be part of the economic infrastructure that shall be in the future, God willing. If the Libyan economic law or the law that organizes and encourages the foreign investor to come in- if you want to encourage someone to come in, you need to show them a way out too. A foreign investor will not enter without knowing how to leave.”

The exchange only had 12 listed companies and trading volumes were small, but the resumption of trading would send a signal to investors that Libya is back in business.

Reuters

Small businesses in Greece are closing at a record 

Small businesses in Greece are closing at a record rate thanks to the country’s debt crisis. Reuters speaks to a jeweller and fabric seller struggling to make ends meet.

 

Story

Eddie Karfayan comes from a long line of jewellers.

His great grandfather opened the first family business in 1928.

But he fears he may be the last.

His shop is in the Greek capital Athens.

(SOUNDBITE)(Greek) EDDIE KARFAYAN , 54, OWNER OF JEWELLERY SHOP, SAYING:

“People are not spending. We are not selling. I don’t know how the government is going to collect taxes. Things don’t look good.”

A Greek commerce confederation says 68,000 small businesses closed last year – they say many were the victims of the tough austerity measures being implemented by the Greek government.

Eddie has been hit by an increase in value added tax and a higher property tax.

He can’t afford to employ any staff, so his son and wife will soon be working alongside him.

(SOUNDBITE)(Greek) EDDIE KARFAYAN, 54, OWNER OF JEWELLERY SHOP, SAYING:

“This shop is all I have, me and my family rely on this shop. Whether it is worth it or not, I have to fight to keep it, because this is the only way my family can survive – the onIy way I can cover my outgoings.”

Erotokritos Kymionis runs a fabric store in the same district.

He used to supply Greek clothing factories but they’ve closed down too.

(SOUNDBITE)(Greek) EROTOKRITOS KYMIONIS, 38, OWNER OF A FABRIC SHOP, SAYING:

“Shops are shutting down one after the other. Wholesalers in Greece are dead because many clothes come ready-made from China and Korea which has forced all the textile factories to close. So the wholesale merchants have to close too.”

Another survey suggests a further 100,000 small businesses could close down before the end of the year with the loss of 250,000 jobs.

And Greek unemployment is already at a record high of 16 percent.

The recession is deepening – the economy is now expected to shrink by five per cent this year.

It’s a gloomy outlook – although Erotokritos is now one of the few who may benefit from the crisis.

Fabric sales have risen because many Greeks are making their own clothes to save money.

Sonia Legg, Reuters.

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