U.S. credit ratings giant Standard & Poor's (S&P) lowered its rating on the credit-worthiness of nine European nations January 13. "It's not the cut in the rating that is historic," BNP Paribas economist Dominique Barbet told the Wall Street Journal. "It's the depth of the euro crisis that is historic."
The government of Greece is catching flack over its decision to add some questionable categories to its list of recognized disabilities. As reported by the Associated Press, disability groups in the country were especially outraged over the government’s decision to add pedophiles to its list of those the state recognizes as disabled individuals. Among the other “disabled” categories added to the list were exhibitionists, kleptomaniacs, pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists, and sadomasochists.
An economic meltdown such as that which Greece is enduring produces some consequences that are not as obvious as others. As one example, over-the-counter medicines in Greek pharmacies are becoming scarce. Mina Mavrou, who runs a pharmacy in a middle-class part of metropolitan Athens, often has to spend hours each day pleading with drug manufacturers to supply the store with life-saving drugs, such as Clexane (a blood-thinner) and Flixotide (an asthma inhaler).
One of the unintended consequences of the ongoing and accelerating crisis in the eurozone is that ordinary citizens are taking their money out of the banks and burying it. Lack of both confidence in the stability of the European economy and credible solutions to the crisis have led to the exit of currency from banks in Greece, Italy, and other European countries.
In the clearest indication yet, a high French government official confirmed last week that an FTT — Financial Transaction Tax — will be implemented by the European Union by the end of 2012, a year earlier than planned. Jean Leonetti (left), France’s Minister for European Affairs, said on television that “This is on the program for the next European summit [on January 30]. [French President] Nicolas Sarkozy and [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel have decided on this and it will be put in place before the end of 2012.”
The announcement from the German Economy Ministry over the weekend confirmed that the long-awaited European recession has officially begun: German factory orders dropped to the lowest level in three years, down nearly five percent in the past month. The ministry also revealed that orders from outside the EU dropped by 10.3 percent.
German airline carrier Lufthansa warned passengers on Monday that the European Union’s (EU) new carbon tax on airlines will translate into higher fares, as the carrier plans to avoid shouldering new costs generated from an EU carbon trading scheme. Analysts say Lufthansa is among the airlines most influenced by the measure, along with rival carriers British Airways, United Continental (the two have merged), Air France, and Singapore Airlines.
In her article on Monday, financial journalist Jessica Mortimer said that the euro had just set a new record low against the Japanese yen: Its value is now the lowest it’s been in 10 years. The irony wasn’t lost on her as she also noted that it was just 10 years ago that the euro was first denominated in coins and currency, three years after being introduced electronically among the member states.
Although a September Gallup poll showed that close to half of Americans believe that the economy will be worse in a year than it is today, the French have an even gloomier opinion about what is happening in their own nation. A Gallup "End of the Year" survey names France as the country whose people are the “most pessimistic” in the world about their nation's economic outlook. A whopping 79 percent of French citizens — the most in three decades — believe their economy will continue to worsen.
Scientists in Italy studying the famed Shroud of Turin, which many Christians believe is the burial cloth of a resurrected Jesus Christ, have determined that the relic could not be a medieval fake, as has been argued by some experts who have studied the shroud in the past.
Great Britain’s Prime Minister has declared of his country what President Obama has notably denied of his own. Speaking to an audience of Church of England clergy at Christ Church, Oxford during one of the many official events celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of Scripture, Prime Minister David Cameron (left) unashamedly declared of Britain: “ … we are a Christian country,” adding that “we should not be afraid to say so.”