European Commission plans sanctions for wayward bankers – reports

March 4 2009

By Clive Leviev-Sawyer

The European Commission wants Europe to set up a sanctions regime for banks and bankers that flout industry rules, according to plans to be published on March 4 2009, AFP reported.

The proposal is part of plans for a major shake-up of European supervision of the financial sector based on recent recommendations from an expert panel headed by former IMF director Jacques de Larosiere.

In a media statement on March 4, the EC said that it was calling on EU leaders to further step up co-ordinated European action to fight the economic crisis.

In its communication to the European Council summit on March 19 and 20, the Commission sets out proposals for building on the extensive support already being given to the real economy and to employment.

The Commission’s communication unveils a comprehensive reform of the financial system based on the de Larosiere report.

“It shows how a clear and united commitment to this ambitious programme can pave the way for the EU to give a global lead at the G20 summit in London on April 2,” the EC said.
EC President Jose Manuel Barroso said: “The Spring European Council must send a strong signal to citizens, businesses and the world. Yes, there is a way out of this crisis. Yes, Europe has the unity, the confidence and the determination to win this battle. We must forcefully implement the agreed recovery plan in a coordinated way. We must use the single market to the full.

“Today we are asking EU leaders to agree on a comprehensive action plan. To do everything possible to protect our citizens from unemployment. To clean up financial markets on the basis of the de Larosiere Report. And to pave the way for Europe to lead by example and by persuasion as we approach the G20 summit in London,” Barroso said.

The Commission’s communication begins with an overview of the measures taken since autumn 2008 which have prevented the meltdown of the European banking industry and thus prevented countless bankruptcies and job losses.

It urges member states to act quickly to restore confidence and get bank lending flowing again, in particular by implementing the guidance the Commission issued on February 25 2009 on removing impaired assets from banks’ balance sheets.

“The Commission endorses – and asks EU leaders to endorse – the key principles set out by the de Larosiere Group,” the EC statement said.

The Commission calls for a supervisory system combining much stronger oversight at EU level with maintaining a clear role for national supervisors.

It backs the Group’s proposal to set up an early warning body under ECB auspices to identify and tackle systemic risks.

The Commission supports the Group’s recommendation for a core set of regulatory standards throughout the EU.

In April, the EC will bring forward initiatives already in the pipeline on hedge funds, private equity and remuneration structures.

Following an impact assessment, the Commission will put forward to the June European Council a detailed timetable for further measures based on the de Larosiere report.
It will bring forward proposals in the autumn on the new supervisory framework and on issues including: liquidity risk and excessive leverage; further reinforcing protection for depositors and policy holders; and effective sanctions against wrongdoing.

The communication points to good first results of the European Economic Recovery Plan. The overall fiscal support to the economy from European and national measures and from automatic stabilisers amounts to at least 3.3 per cent of GDP over the 2009-2010 period.

An annexe summarises 500 national measures and concludes that they are broadly in line with the principles that recovery action should be timely, targeted and temporary.

The Commission calls on EU leaders to endorse clear principles for further action, in line with the single market, with open trade worldwide, with building a low carbon economy and with returning to sustainable public finances as soon as possible.

The Commission repeats its call for Member States to agree on the targeted investment of five billion euro in energy interconnections and broadband.

The Commission’s contribution calls for member states to step up efforts to tackle unemployment – which could approach 10 per cent in 2010 for the first time since the 1990s – and social exclusion.

“These efforts will also help maintain demand and prevent further job losses.”  They should be a central plank of national stimulus plans, the EC said.

The Commission invites member states to use measures such as financial support for temporary working-time arrangements, boosting income support for unemployed people, lowering non-wage costs for employers and boosting investment in skills and retraining.

At European level, the EC calls for rapid approval of its proposal to allow an immediate increase of 1.8 billion euro in advance payments under the European Social Fund.

The Commission also sets out a road map towards the European Employment Summit in Prague in May, which should agree on further concrete measures to save jobs and create them in the sectors of the future.

The Commission will organise a series of workshops with all key stakeholders in different member states in the approach to the summit.

The EC asks EU leaders to agree on a number of areas “where Europe can and should give a firm lead” on April 2 at the London G20 summit, building on the success it achieved by speaking with one voice at the Washington Summit in November 2008.

“The EU should make a united push to improve the global financial and regulatory system, focusing on: better transparency and accountability; appropriate regulation of all financial actors; tackling difficulties caused by uncooperative jurisdictions; boosting international supervisory cooperation; and reforming the IMF, Financial Stability Forum and World Bank,” the EC statement said.

“Europe should also promote global recovery by calling for a review of the global impact of fiscal measures taken so far, by promoting open trade and by inviting the London Summit to launch a multilateral initiative on trade finance and to reaffirm the Washington commitment to the Millennium Development Goals,” the EC said.

Source

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Death toll tops 1,100 from Zimbabwe cholera

Death toll tops 1,100 from Zimbabwe cholera
December 18 2008
By Nelson Banya

HARARE

The death toll from a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has soared to 1,111, the United Nations said on Thursday, adding to pressure for a quick solution to the crisis in the southern African country.

South African ruling African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma ruled out military intervention and backed a diplomatic push as the way to end political deadlock and prevent a total collapse of the once relatively prosperous nation.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs Jendayi Frazer also backed a political rather than military solution but was far from hopeful about talks between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition on forming a unity government.

“We certainly think that the power sharing deal is on life support, it’s close to dead,” Frazer said in Mozambique.

That cast doubt on comments from South African President Kgalema Motlanthe that he hoped for agreement this week.

The latest cholera figures from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva included a new outbreak in Chegutu Urban, west of Harare, where more than 378 cases and 121 deaths were recorded, it said in a statement.

It added that more than 20,580 people had been affected by cholera since August.

The spread of the disease, which causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration and is normally easy to treat, has increased international pressure on Mugabe. Western countries have renewed calls on the veteran leader to step down.

Prominent figures, including Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Nobel peace laureate and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have called for Mugabe to go or for peacekeeping troops to be sent to Zimbabwe.

When asked in an interview with South Africa’s 702 Talk Radio whether he favoured sending troops to Zimbabwe, ANC leader Zuma said: “No. Why military intervention when there is no war? We should be pressurising them to see the light.”

MEDIATION

South Africa’s ANC-led government, however, has continued to back the regional SADC group’s efforts to mediate an end to the crisis. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki is leading the mediation of the power-sharing talks.

Mugabe, 84, agreed to share power with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in September, raising hopes that a unity government could reverse the country’s economic meltdown and rebuild basic services.

Inflation in Zimbabwe has spiralled out of control. Prices are doubling every 24 hours and unemployment is above 80 percent. Millions have fled to South Africa and neighbouring countries is search of work and food.

South African President Motlanthe announced on Wednesday that Zimbabwe’s neighbours would launch an urgent humanitarian campaign. Motlanthe’s spokesman, Thabo Masebe, said on Thursday it would focus on agricultural aid and would be non-partisan to ensure it could not be used as a political weapon.

The amount of the aid had yet to be finalised and was likely to depend on how much countries could give, he said.

Negotiations between Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change are deadlocked over who should control key ministries, and there are growing fears the agreement will unravel and lead to violence.

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a March presidential election but without an absolute majority. He pulled out of the run-off in June, saying scores of his supporters had been killed.

The opposition says attacks have picked up again. They say more than 20 people have been abducted from their homes and offices in the past two weeks. The government has denied the accusations.

Source

Zimbabwe: MSF/Doctors Without Boarders, responds to worst cholera outbreak in years
More than 11,000 patients seen by MSF/Doctors without Boarders

December 12 2008

MSF/Doctors without Boarders, has seen more than 11,000 patients since August in Zimbabwe’s worst cholera outbreak in years and has opened dozens of cholera treatment centres throughout the country. Cases have been found in nearly all provinces. More than 500 national and international MSF staff members are working to identify new cases and to treat patients in need of care.

Harare has been the center of the outbreak; MSF has treated more than 6,000 people in the densely populated capital. A town on the border with South Africa, Beitbridge, has also been hard hit. MSF has provided care to more than 3,000 people with suspected cases of cholera.

Zimbabwe has had major outbreaks of cholera before – it is endemic in certain rural areas – but until the last few years it has been relatively rare in urban areas.

“The scale and the sheer numbers of infection especially in Harare is unprecedented,” says an epidemiologist for MSF who has worked periodically in Zimbabwe for the past seven years. He explains that the key reasons for the outbreak are the inability to access clean water, burst and blocked sewage systems and uncollected garbage overflowing in the streets. “The fact that the outbreak has become so large is an indication that the country’s health system can’t cope.”

MSF is working in two cholera treatment centers (CTCs) which are located in existing health facilities in Harare. The two main CTCs saw in total more than 2,000 people with cases of suspected cholera in the first week of December.

An MSF emergency coordinator in Harare describes the situation: “Imagine a cholera ward with dozens of people under the most basic conditions. For instance, there is only a little electricity so there is hardly any light. It is difficult for the doctors and nurses to even see the patients they are treating. The nurses have to monitor multitudes of IV bags to make sure they don’t run dry which is also difficult to do in the dark and when there are so many patients.”

In Beitbridge, MSF has set up cholera treatment centers run mainly by MSF staff using supplies shipped in from all over the world. The peak of the emergency was unusually early in Beitbridge, which resulted in a high mortality rate within the first couple of days of the severe outbreak in the town. By the fourth day, however, MSF had established a cholera treatment centre and the mortality rate eventually dropped from 15% to less than 1%.

Because MSF has been in the country since 2000 running HIV programs, it has been able to react from the ground and quickly bring in emergency cholera response units.

The outbreak is particularly worrying as it began well before the rainy season. A major concern is that once the heavy rains start, unprotected water sources will become contaminated, causing the further spread of cholera. The rainy season normally starts in November and continues through March, although the heavy rains have yet to be seen in some areas.

An additional challenge has been that government health workers in certain areas, particularly in Harare, are on strike. This has required MSF to rapidly recruit hundreds of nurses and other staff to handle the influx of cholera cases. Significant time and energy is needed to train the new staff, adding considerably to the workload of the existing staff.

MSF has also conducted exploratory missions in rural communities and responded to scattered reports of cholera cases. Low numbers of cases have been found in a number of small villages; MSF established small cholera treatment units (CTUs) where necessary. MSF has eight CTUs in five districts spread over the Manicaland and Mashvingo provinces in the eastern part of Zimbabwe and treated more than 770 patients.

A town on the border with Mozambique, Nyamapanda, also has been affected. When MSF arrived in early November the team found about 150 cholera patients and helped set up one cholera treatment center in the town, as well as four others with the Ministry of Health in the surrounding areas. In total, 1,600 patients have been seen in Mudzi District.

MSF will continue to monitor the situation and treat people in the most affected areas, as well as send emergency staff and supplies to various locations in Zimbabwe where new cases arise.

“A cholera outbreak of this proportion usually continues for several months,” the MSF epidemiologist says. “MSF expects to be caring for cholera patients in Zimbabwe for some time to come.”

Source

CARE Fights Cholera in Zimbabwe
Humanitarian group says as little as $10 could save a life

December 12 2008

Click photo to view an enlarged version (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))

Children play with stagnant raw sewage at the Machipisa suburb in Harare November 28, 2008. Fast-spreading cholera is “the tip of the iceberg” of what stands to be a major health crisis in Zimbabwe, United Nations agencies said on Friday. Nearly 400 Zimbabweans have died from the disease. (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))

HARARE, Zimbabwe

CARE is ramping up food aid and sanitation programs in Zimbabwe as part of the international effort to combat one of the worst cholera outbreaks the world has seen in recent years. The humanitarian organization also is calling on the public to help. As little as $10 could save a life. That’s what it takes to provide a household with a bar of soap, a water container and two months worth of aqua-tabs for water purification.

The epidemic has already killed more than 780 people and infected at least 16,400. Almost half the country’s population will be dependant on food aid by January, humanitarian officials project. Unfortunately, because they require large gatherings, food distributions are a perfect conduit for the spread of cholera. So CARE, one of the World Food Program’s largest partners in Zimbabwe, is providing sanitation training and improved access to water, too, in an effort to serve at least 900,000 people.

“More than five million people in the country need food aid right now,” said Fridah Kalumba, CARE’s assistant country director in Zimbabwe. “But with the cholera outbreak, we need to ensure people are protected during distributions, so the disease doesn’t
spread further.”
Click photo to view an enlarged version (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))

A girl collects drinking water from a stream in Glen Norah, Harare November 27 2008. Zimbabwe, which is battling a serious cholera outbreak amid a worsening economic crisis, is set to get vaccines from China to fight the disease, state media reported on Thursday. (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))
The crisis is about to enter a pivotal stage. Health workers fear
that the coming rainy season, combined with families traveling
home from urban centers for Christmas, could cause cholera cases to soar in rural districts.

“Cholera outbreaks are usually localized,” said Teresa Chiesa, a
CARE health expert working to stem the crisis in Zimbabwe. “I have never before seen one like this with so many communities over
such a wide area being affected at the same time. It’s a horrific situation.”

CARE, which has been working in Zimbabwe since 1992, employs nearly 600 staffers in the provinces of Masvingo and Midlands. That has allowed CARE to coach people on proper sanitary measures in food distribution centers, schools, orphanages and seniors homes. CARE is supplying families with water jugs, chlorine, water
treatment tablets and soap. And the humanitarian group is building
hand-washing stations at critical sites.

In the longer term, if CARE can raise sufficient funds, it will launch a program to develop a secure supply of clean water. CARE needs $750,000 to carry out its preventative education program and a plan to drill new wells in water-starved communities. Drilling one borehole alone costs approximately $25,000.

“If we do not secure the water supply for these people in the long term,” Chiesa said, “the country will be looking at another outbreak next year, and the year after that, and so on.”

Source

Save the Children, )


Zimbabwe cholera epidemic ‘worsening’ says aid agency

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic is not under control, Save the Children said today.

December 12 2008
Speaking from the agency’s HQ in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare today, Rachel Pounds, a Save the Children country director said: “If anything is certain in the chaos of Zimbabwe today it is that the cholera outbreak is not under control. According to the latest figures 775 people have died so far. Save the Children knows this is an underestimate – not least because the figures do not include areas in which we work and where we know there have been many unrecorded deaths.

“Also, the percentage of people who are dying having contracted cholera in the first place is way higher than normal for this disease, in some areas. With even the most basic health care on hand, you would expect to see a death rate of only one or two percent. In some areas of Zimbabwe a third of those who have contracted the infection are dying.”

Ms Pounds added that said that the crisis was almost certainly worsening. “Reliable figures are hard to come by, but there is much evidence out there that this crisis is growing, not diminishing, especially as we know there are many people can’t get to cholera centres. Given that this is a disease spread by unclean water and exacerbated by hunger which weakens victims, this problem has clearly not gone away. Water and health services have collapsed and more than half the 10 million population needs emergency food aid. This deadly disease will continue to spread unless we get more money and more resources to halt the contamination and treat victims promptly.”

Save the Children urged the international community to listen to aid agencies working in Zimbabwe and to Zimbabweans themselves living with the horror of hunger and cholera. “It is ordinary families who are bearing the brunt of this crisis, and it is to them the world must listen,” said Ms Pounds. “They should listen to the mothers whose babies have died, and to the children waiting outside health clinics to see if their mothers or fathers will come out alive. That’s the reality here.”

Save the Children’s 200-strong team in Zimbabwe is helping to provide drugs to treat cholera and educating communities how to avoid infection, as well as providing food so that safe cholera treatment camps can be set up to prevent further contamination.

The aid organisation is feeding close to 200,000 people and helping families prepare for the future by distributing seed, small livestock and helping to set up vegetable gardens. Save the Children has worked in Zimbabwe for 25 years.
For more information
Please contact the Save the Children media unit on +44 207 012 6836 / +44 7831 650 409

Notes to Editors

The humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe has now reached unprecedented proportions. A cholera epidemic is already crippling the country, which has killed over 775 people.

Up to 5.1 million people will be in need of food aid to survive by the end of the year, over half the country’s population. One in 10 children in Zimbabwe die before the age of five, although with rocketing rates of malnutrition and disease, the child mortality rate will also rise.

Save the Children’s 200-strong team in Zimbabwe is helping to provide drugs to treat cholera and educating communities how to avoid infection, as well as providing food so that safe cholera treatment camps can be set up to prevent further contamination.

The aid organisation is feeding close to 700,000 people and helping families prepare for the future by distributing seed, small livestock and helping to set up vegetable gardens. Save the Children has worked in Zimbabwe for 25 years.

Source

Zimbabwe’s meltdown in figures
December 18

2008The death toll from a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has soared to 1,111, the United Nations said on Thursday, adding to pressure for a quick solution to the crisis in the southern African country.

Below are some details of Zimbabwe’s decline in figures:

* INFLATION

Inflation reached 231 million percent a year in July, the latest month for which a figure has been announced. Economists think it is now much higher and say prices are doubling daily.

* GDP

Gross domestic product has fallen every year since 2000, down 10.4 percent in 2003 alone. The IMF estimated that the economy shrank 6.1 percent in 2007.

Per capita GDP was estimated at $200 in 2007, from nearer $900 in 1990. Zimbabwe has the world’s fastest shrinking economy for a country not at war, according to the World Bank.

* INCOME

An estimated 83 percent of the population was living on below $2 a day by 2005. Since then, the situation has only worsened.

* EXPORTS

Exports averaged 33.5 percent of GDP between 1997 and 2001. UBS forecast this would decline to 9.9 percent in 2007.

* AGRICULTURE

Once the breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe now needs to import maize. The U.N. agricultural production index for Zimbabwe fell from nearly 107 in 2000 to just over 74 in 2005.

Official figures show maize production at 800,000 tonnes last season against national demand of 2 million tonnes.

* GOLD

Gold output, which accounts for a third of export earnings, hit a low of 125 kg in October, from a peak of 2,400 kg, as the economic crisis forced mines to close.

* UNEMPLOYMENT

Unemployment is estimated at over 90 percent. Well over 3 million Zimbabweans are thought to have fled, mostly to South Africa, in search of work and food.

* AID

Aid agencies say 5 million people — almost half the population — might need food aid by early 2009.

* IMF ARREARS

Zimbabwe fell into arrears with the International Monetary Fund in 2001. In February 2008, it owed $88 million, of which nearly $80 million has been in arrears for three years or more. While Zimbabwe has averted expulsion, the IMF has suspended financial and technical assistance.

* LIFE EXPECTANCY

Average life expectancy fell from 63 years in 1990 to 40.9 years in 2005, according to U.N. figures.

The mortality rate for children under five rose to 132 deaths per 1,000 in 2005 from 76 deaths in 1990.

* CHOLERA

The official death toll from a cholera epidemic since August is at least 1,111 with over 20,581 infected, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Zimbabwe.

* HIV/AIDS

In 2007, HIV prevalence was 15.6 percent among adults aged 15 to 49 — the fourth highest in the world. It causes the death of about 3,200 people per week in the country of 13.3 million.

HIV prevalence among pregnant women at clinics actually fell from 26 percent in 2002 to 18 in 2006, but some put that down to high mortality and emigration rather than prevention measures.

* ANTHRAX

Save the Children said this month that an anthrax outbreak in the south west had killed three people and could wipe out at least 60,000 livestock.

Source

They left out Sanctions of course. Which has enhanced Zimbabwe’s problem substantially.

Zimbabwe Appeal: First cholera. Now it’s malaria and anthrax

Did being part of the EU protect them from the Financial Crisis

Turmoil Spurs US Plant Closures, EU Layoffs At ArcelorMittal

December 10th, 2008

By Alex MacDonald

In a sign of the severity of the economic downturn, ArcelorMittal (MT), the world’s largest steelmaker, announced plans to close two U.S. steel processing plants and lay off several hundred workers in the European Union.

ArcelorMittal plans to close its finished steel processing plant in Lackawanna, N.Y., by the end of April and plans to close its finished steel processing plant in Hennepin, Ill., sometime in the future, although no date was disclosed. The two closures will result in 545 job losses, 260 of which are located at the N.Y. plant and 285 of which are located at the Illinois plant.

Meanwhile, ArcelorMittal rolled out voluntary redundancy programs in Europe over the past week or so that would eliminate 3,550 mostly white-collar jobs through voluntary layoffs. The company is eyeing 6,000 job cuts in Europe out of 9,000 job cuts globally.

The closures and layoffs are in line with the company’s plans to cut 35% of its global steel production capacity during the fourth quarter and saving $1 billion annually by cutting 3% of its global workforce.

Both steel plants supply the auto market, where demand has slumped so dramatically that the U.S.’s three largest car manufacturers are now seeking federal government funds to avert bankruptcy.

The closures are part of ArcelorMittal’s global restructuring program to weather the economic downturn.

The decision to close ArcelorMittal Lackawanna was “purely an economic business decision based on the extraordinary economic conditions we face today,” the company said in a statement.

The Lackawanna plant has inherent disadvantages due to its location that lead to higher costs, longer customer lead times, and higher inventory levels than other ArcelorMittal finishing facilities in the US, the company said.

Meanwhile, at Hennepin, “the company had to make the tough decision to close the…facility, consolidate operations and move production to other ArcelorMittal facilities in the U.S.” in order to remain competitive.

ArcelorMittal now has announced plans to lay off 19% of its U.S. salaried workforce of 15,543 people and has announced more than half of its planned job cuts in Europe.

The United Steelworkers union and other relevant stakeholders were notified about the plant closures and job layoffs. They are now negotiating with the Luxembourg-based company to arrive at a compromise.

Jim Robinson, the director of USW’s District 7 said the union was aware that ArcelorMittal faced operational issues at the two plants but was surprised by the company’s decision to close the plants.

“They called us before they announced but we did not know this specifically” beforehand, he said.

Robinson dismissed views that ArcelorMittal has underinvested in the plants. “I don’t think the issue is lack of investment over time, I think it’s an issue of the company’s overall strategy.” He declined to elaborate further.

ArcelorMittal is one of many steelmakers globally that have announced production cuts and layoffs. U.S. Steel Corporation (X), the world’s tenth-largest steelmaker by volume, announced last week it would temporarily idle an iron ore mining facility and two steel works. The move will affect 3,500 employees.

Corus, Europe’s second largest steelmaker by volume and the European arm of India-based Tata Steel Ltd (500470.BY) has cut production by 30% and has shed about 500 jobs from the U.K.

In Europe, ArcelorMittal is seeking voluntary redundancies equal to 1,400 jobs in France, 800 in Belgium, 750 in Germany, and 600 in Spain. Most of them are white collar jobs. ArcelorMittal’s American depositary shares recently traded up 8.9% to $25.99 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Company Web site: http://www.arcelormittal.com

Source

EU businesses expect 1 million job losses in 2009

Brussels – European Union businesses called Monday for a cut in interest rates amid predictions that the bloc’s economic slowdown could lead to more than 1 million jobs being lost in 2009.

BusinessEurope, which groups national business federations from 34 European countries, also called on governments to ensure a continued flow of credit and to approve structural reforms aimed at improving the continent’s competitiveness.

According to its latest Economic Outlook, EU gross domestic product (GDP) is predicted to grow by just 0.4 per cent in 2009, compared to 1.4 per cent this year, with exports, imports and private consumption levels all slowing.

Unemployment is predicted to increase from 7 per cent to 7.8 per cent, with the loss of 1.1 million jobs, compared to a net job creation of more than 2 million in 2008.

“The most fundamental preoccupation of the business community is obviously the way in which the impact of the financial market turmoil will play out,” the paper said.

“Even though a fully-fledged credit crunch has not yet appeared in Europe, uncertainty about the impact for companies and consumer markets has increased tremendously.”

Source

SEMI Europe calls for investment to avoid mass job losses in semiconductor industry

December 10 2008

During the third SEMI Brussels forum, SEMI Europe declared that the decline in the European semiconductor industry could potentially put half a million European jobs at risk. SEMI Europe presented its White Paper to EU officials and urgently appealed for the EU and national policymakers to invest to support the European semiconductor industry citing the industries importance to the health and global competitiveness of the EU economy.

The equipment/materials producers and the semiconductor device manufacturers contribute around €29 billion to the EU economy and provide around 215,000 jobs. The European semiconductor industry is also a significant contributor to the GDP in EU countries such as France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK.

“If semiconductor manufacturers leave Europe, indigenous equipment & materials producers will face an uncertain future”, said Franz Richter, Chairman of the SEMI European Advisory Board. “The current economic crisis and rising unemployment underscore the urgent need to safeguard jobs in the European semiconductor industry. Supporting a robust and competitive semiconductor industry in Europe is critical to keeping jobs in Europe across all industries and supporting key European economies.”

The decline of the market share even during the increase in total volumes sold reflects that manufacturing is changing and moving away from Europe because of the unfavourable global level playing field conditions. The European equipment and materials manufacturers that supply the semiconductor industry with machinery and parts are for the most part small or medium-sized European businesses that heavily rely on the future European semiconductor industry to guarantee their own future and the 105,000 jobs they embody.

Further information on the Brussels forum is available here.

Source

Spanish auto sector highly exposed to global crisis

December 11 2008

By Robert Hetz

MADRID,

Spain’s car industry, which became Europe’s third largest, thanks to a cheap workforce, has lost cost advantage and could shrink as companies slash costs at foreign plants and save politically-sensitive jobs at home.

As executives at multinational manufacturers weigh up Spain’s ageing factories, relatively high wage costs and weak competitiveness against their own domestic markets and cheaper alternatives, the country’s plants are clear targets as the credit crunch saps demand all over the world.

“The big decisions are being taken abroad, not here, and managers in London, Paris and Detroit prefer to close a plant here and not in their home market,” said the director of one Spanish parts plant, who asked not to be named.

Unlike Germany, France or Italy, Spain’s auto industry has no nationally-owned car maker and little control over decisions on the future of its 18 foreign-owned plants, which employ around 70,000 people.

And unlike the case of Britain, Spain’s plants are older and less productive, and the country lacks a more skilled workforce or much tradition of home-grown research and development.

Global car makers, also including Peugeot, Opel and Volkswagen, built most of their Spanish plants in the 1970s when Spain was a low-cost backwater, well placed to serve Northern European markets.

Since the 70s, Spain has lost its price advantage as living standards have caught up with the European average. In 2007, per capita income overtook that of Italy. At the same time, new competitors have emerged as low-cost manufacturing centres.

Spain’s auto-sector salaries averaged 22.83 euros ($29.64) an hour last year, above the European average and around three times the 6.93 euros in Poland and 8.83 euros in the Czech Republic, Europe’s new manufacturing hubs, alongside North Africa.

NORTH AFRICA PASSES SPAIN FOR RENAULT

Renault plans to make 200,000 cars at its plants in North Africa in 2010 and double that within a couple of years, overtaking production from its Spanish operations.

The global credit crunch has hurt demand for new cars across Europe, with new car registrations in November falling 36.8 percent in the UK, 18 percent in Germany, 30 percent in Italy and 50 percent in Spain.

With some 84 percent of cars built in Spanish plants for export, manufacturers are finding fewer financial or political reasons for remaining in the country as international competition rises.

Spanish plants are ideal candidates for the inevitable cuts across Europe, head of Ford Espana Jose Manuel Machado said, as salaries rise and productivity fails to rise at a similar rate.

Machado’s comments came before the U.S. company announced production cuts of 120,000 units at its Almussafes plant in Valencia, and the temporary layoff of 5,200 workers.

Job cuts are expected from most of the major manufacturers, with more than 60 filings listing potential layoffs by private companies made to the government, which may affect up to 40,000 workers, Spain’s main union UGT said.

As Spain’s unemployment rate soars to the highest in the European Union and the economy nears recession, the government is keen to keep the industry, which accounts for around 5 percent of gross domestic product, in the country.

Spain has earmarked 800 million euros for the sector as part of measures worth a total of around 50 billion euros to stimulate the economy.

But this aid may not be enough.

“It’s a good gesture from the government, but obviously the amount of money is insufficient. It would be less than 80 million euros per manufacturer,” said Jose Antonio Bueno of consultancy Europraxis.

The sharp fall in new car sales in Spain has also affected the manufacturers’ showrooms and spare parts centres throughout the country.

Concessions for new and second-hand cars and garages employ around 278,000 people in Spain, and 16,000 of those jobs are at risk, the association for the sector, Ganvam, estimates.

“Four years ago we sold two or three cars a day, but now its not even two a week,” said Adela Benito, who has worked in a Madrid-based Renault showroom for 20 years. (Reporting by Robert Hetz; Additional reporting by Tomas Gonzalez; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Rupert Winchester)

Source

Swedes want government bailout for Volvo

In a new survey just released, 68 percent of Swedes want to see the Swedish government bail out its beleaguered carmaker Volvo. Although Volvo is owned by US carmaker Ford, Swedes would like its government to temporarily take control of the nation’s iconic firm, as many residents fear Volvo may disappear entirely from Sweden in the near future.

The Local newspaper reports that support for government intervention is piling in from all sides of the political arena. Some 65 percent of those polled who support the bailout side with one of the governing Alliance parties, and 73 percent of all left bloc voters approve of a government bailout.

Peter Larsson of the Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers points out that Volvo’s current crisis is not minor. “One thing is certain, there are no dollars on their way over the Atlantic,” Larsson said, referring to the massive problems currently faced by the “Big Three” US carmakers – Ford, Chrysler, and (Saab-owner) General Motors.

Rolf Wolff, dean of the school of business at Gothenburg University, told The Local: “If Volvo Cars disappears as a base for industrial knowledge and skills, then Sweden will never again be a part of the auto industry. All the knowledge and skills would be lost, and with it all future associated development potential would be gone.”

Maud Olofsson, Sweden’s minister of trade and industry, has expressed doubts whether the government would be able to better manage Volvo than the car firm itself. For now, the issue has been placed on the political back burner, but the crisis at Volvo and Ford goes on.

Source

This is just the tip of the iceburg.  Seems no one is safe from the Financial Crisis. Not even EU members.

There are 27 member of the European Union.

austria 1. Austria
belgium 2. Belgium
UK 3. UK
denmark 4. Denmark
germany 5. Germany
greece 6. Greece
ireland 7. Ireland
spain 8. Spain
italy 9. Italy
luxembourg 10. Luxembourg
netherlands 11. Netherlands
portugal 12. Portugal
finland 13. Finland
france 14. France
sweden 15. Sweden
cyprus 16. Cyprus
czech 17. Czech Republic
estonia 18. Estonia
hungary 19. Hungary
latvia 20. Latvia
lithuania 21. Lithuania
malta 22. Malta
poland 23. Poland
slovakia 24. Slovakia
slovenia 25. Slovenia
bulgaria 26. Bulgaria
romania 27. Romania

EU members and when they joined.

1952 Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands

1973 Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom

1981 Greece

1986 Portugal, Spain

1995 Austria, Finland, Sweden

2004 Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia

2007 Bulgaria, Romania

Source

Hungary’s Letter of Intent to the IMF

World Bank lends to Bulgaria to tackle poverty, jobless

Latvia mulling IMF loan as crisis sweeps Nordic region

EU, Iceland, Canada Suffering Fall Out, Caused By US Crisis

Europeans Angry at their Money being Used for Bailouts

The £2trillion question for British economy

Europe catches America’s financial disease

How Britain’s banks will never be the same again

Economist, deregulation and loose fiscal policies lead to Meltdown

World Leaders Must Roll Back Radical WTO Financial Service Deregulation

Ryanair to appeal EU’s ‘corrupt’ support of Alitalia takeover

Ashley Mote Revealing European Union Corruption

The EU budget is necessarily corrupt

EU leaders tear up rules of Eurozone

Starting to remind me of the Corruption in the US where the Crisis started.

Recession Means Recruiting Boom For Army

In downtown Dallas Friday, new recruits pledged to protect and defend their country.

They’re just part of a growing number who found that in uncertain times, patriotism pays,

“Unemployment rates are [skyrocketing], and when you are looking at how bad unemployment rates are going, I think you find yourself going, ‘What do I do now?”‘ said Army recruit James Stabile.

The troubled economy has even become part of the recruiters’ arsenal. And the pitch may be paying off. The Army led all four branches of the military, exceeding recruiting goals.

And it’s not just new recruits. The Army also surpassed its goal for retaining men and women already serving by 14 percent.

Kevin Bonds signed his re-enlistment papers Friday. The Sgt. First Class could have retired tomorrow after 20 years in the Illinois National Guard.

“Until the economy changes and turns turn around, I’m in for the long run,” he said.

Sgt. Mathew Steen has also re-signed. He says patriotism means more than a paycheck, but admits the Army is a great place to prepare for any career.

“You’ve got good benefits, your medical, you’ve got your dental, and you’re getting the skills to lead people,” Steen said.

The military says the economic downturn is too recent to be the sole reason behind the recruiting surge – but acknowledges that it helps.

“What difficult economic times give us, I think, is an opening to make our case to people we might not otherwise have,” said Undersecretary of Defense David Chu. “And if we make our case, I think we can be successful.”

That success comes at a critical time for a military stretched between two wars, and for soldiers hoping to security their country – and their own economic futures.

Source

Well that will keep the warmongering, profiteers thrilled I am sure.

The thought of it makes me rather sad.

Considering how many have died.

Many for all the wrong reasons.

Published in: on December 6, 2008 at 12:27 pm  Comments Off on Recession Means Recruiting Boom For Army  
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Barack Obama reveals two-year plan to create 2.5m jobs

November 22 2008
By Matthew Weaver

Barack Obama has outlined his plan to create 2.5m jobs in his first two years in office with an ambitious spending programme on roads, schools and and renewable energy.

In his weekly internet address the United States president-elect warned that the US was “facing an economic crisis of historic proportions”.

But he suggested he was keen to launch a major two-year spending programme, to “jumpstart job-creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy”. He pledged the programme would create 2.5 million jobs by January 2011.

That goal has led to speculation that Obama will try to launch a spending package larger than the $175bn (£118bn) plan he outlined in his election campaign.

Obama said details of the programme were being worked out by his transition team.

“We will put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernising schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels and fuel efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil,” he said.

Both Republican and Democrat support would be needed to get the programme approved, he said, but “what is not negotiable is the need for immediate action”.

Noting the turmoil on Wall Street, a drop in house sales, rising unemployment and the threat of deflation, he said: “There are no quick or easy fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making, and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.”

But Obama said his inauguration day on January 20 “is our chance to begin anew”.

“We must do more to put people back to work, and get our economy moving again.

“There are Americans showing up to work in the morning only to have cleared out their desks by the afternoon. These Americans need help and they need it now.”

Wall Street ended a volatile week with renewed confidence last night, after reports that Obama had chosen Timothy Geithner, the head of the New York Federal Reserve, as his treasury secretary.

The Dow Jones industrial average recorded a 494-point gain on the day as stocks surged by 6.5% to close above the psychologically important 8,000 level at 8046.42. It was still 5% down for the week, however, as worries persisted about the global economic slowdown.

Geithner, 47, has always been a favourite to take the top job and his appointment was expected to be announced by the Obama camp this weekend.

Source

This plan is a far cry better then tax cuts which have been used for years.

This a direct approach to the problem. It will boost the economy on many fronts. The more people working the more spending.

What it may cost, is saved by less people being on welfare or unemployment.

Their will also be saveings in the health care department as well.

Less people beoming homeless as well.

This plan puts money into the peoples pockets.

This plan could very well, in the end pay for itself.

Tax cuts do little or nothing to boost the econonmy.

Corporations just buy yet another jet or give their CEO’s a raise in pay.

Obviously that hasen’t worked all that well.

Seems they are more prone to killing jobs as we have seen in the recent past.

Obama’s will work. Renewable energy is an extrememly fabulous way to go.

Certainly better then going to war to secure Oil for example from another country.

Which by the way leave a massive foot print of pollution behind.

Renewable clean energy will also play a great part in preventing pollution.

Pollution is something America has not addressed with open arms. They were put in a state of fear that it was a bad thing and would destroy jobs.

Of course we full well know this was propaganda by profiteering, Corporations that pollute. They just don’t want to clean up their act.

They put profit before the environment.

Pollution kills.

Investing in children’s education is beneficial to  everyone. They are the future generation who will someday be the caretakers of the planet.  Giving them the tools they need is a wise move.

Each child has a gift to give to the world. Each child deserves a fair and equal chance to foster their gift.

Coming Soon: Congress Is Back With ‘Stimulus-2’

October 31 2008

Washington, taking a page out of Hollywood, looks set to release Stimulus 2, the sequel.

And unhappy, tapped-out taxpayers—aka voters—may get a sneak preview of the second fiscal package as soon as next week if lawmakers return to Washington for a lame-duck session under the eye of a newly elected President.

CNBC.com

Critics and supporters alike, however, should hope that the next fiscal stimulus package is more of a commercial success than its predecessor, lest another big-budget flop be tacked on to the ever-growing federal debt.

“It has to be done in a way where you get a good rate of return,” says Tom Schatz, president of Taxpayers Against Government Waste. “What can we do that will work, not how much can we spend and where can we spend it?”

The hastily conceived $168-billion stimulus package quickly signed into law last February was built around tax breaks for business and tax rebates for consumers, whose impact on the economy was fleeting, at best.

This time around—with recession a reality not a perception and consumer confidence at a record low—the package may be bigger and broader. But that doesn’t mean it will be any wiser or more likely to leave a lasting impression on the nation’s economy or psyche of consumers.

If anything, it may be the mother of all stimulus packages.

“There’s a political element, Wall Street got its bailout now everyone needs to get something,” says Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, which advocates fiscal responsibility.

In its recent nine-point prescription for sound fiscal policy, the coalition joined a growing chorus of groups calling for a balancing of short-term stimulus and long-term discipline, noting that spending patterns are already unsustainable and new revenue will needed.

Thus far, Congress seems to be heeding another call: reaction, not action.

“It’s a pretty dangerous process the way its been approached so far,” says Brandon Arnold, who follows public policy for the Cato Institute. Members of Congress, he adds, seem to “setting a figure before considering what is needed.”

The original price tag was about $60 billion package, but it wasn’t long before it was $150 billion, then $300 billion was thrown around.

Given the current state of the economy, $300 billion would be equal to about 2 percent of GDP. Though that’s a relatively small sum compared to the federal government’s extraordinarily expensive efforts to  shore up the financial sector, its larger than most recent stimulus packages.

In 2001, the tax rebate portion of Bush Administraion’s long-term tax-cut legislation totaled just $38 billion.

President Clinton’s unsuccessful $30 billion plan in 1993—proposed, it later turns out, after the recession had ended but while joblessness continued to rise—was rejected by Congress.

Economist Steve Hanke, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and a fellow at Cato, says that—in the context of the federal government’s “serial spending spree” of bailouts and stimulus packages—“$300 billion sounds like chicken feed.”

The high likelihood of more money this time also increases the possibility of a bigger shopping list.

“There doesn’t seem to be as much consensus about its makeup as there as there was for the one they did in January,” says Bixby.

That makes it even more vulnerable to political horse-trading and lobbyists.

“There is such a populist mentality out there,” says Arnold “The need to give something back to the people. It’s much easier to cobble something together by adding more things.”

Arnold says lobbyists are already lining up with their suggestions.

“They need to see what’s worked in the past and not turn it into pork-laden legislation,” agrees Schatz.

What works and what doesn’t, of course, is a matter of some debate and could very likely slow down the legislative process.

One-time tax cuts, or rebates—the cornerstone of the previous package—will probably not have a role in the second stimulus plan.

An extension of unemployment benefits, a boost in food stamp funding, aid to states and municipalities—absent in the first package—are widely considered to be among the must haves, according to budget watchers and legislators.

“They make sense economically and politically,” says Bixby.

Help Wanted Sign
AP

Another somewhat conventional measure is spending on infrastructure—buildings, roads and bridges—but its inclusion is less certain. Skeptics say it is likely to be end up in the package because of strong lobbying efforts, even if such spending measures tend to have a flash-in-the-pan impact.

Congressional leaders are said to support Infrastructure spending if it is for existing projects, such as ones that have been delayed, rather than new ones. Nevertheless, some are talking about ambitious new spending in the form of energy investment or a public-works program.

Among the more unusual and untested measures are tax credits for business to hire workers and a one-time allowance for the withdrawal of money from a 401(k) retirement account without the normal stringent tax penalties.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama happens to support versions of both ideas.

Critics say undoing policies to encourage savings, particularly in a country that has a problem saving, is unsound and could set a bad precedent. But its inclusion in the policy debate underscores the something-for everyone approach that is seeping into the process.

“I hear people saying, ‘Where’s my bailout?’ ” says Schatz.

Former Federal Reserve governor and White House chief economist Lawrence Lindsey told CNBC that a lot of the ideas are of the “‘lets help out our friends back home’ variety.”

Arnold of Cato calls them the “innocent bystanders who have taken a pretty hard hit to their savings,” because of the stock market sell-off and economic downturn.

So at this point, if Halloween is the holiday that most resembles the economy and the financial system, then it is Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one for government fiscal policy.

Observers say there’s a chance a lame-duck Congress will pass a small package in the weeks ahead, leaving a bigger package to a new congress and president in January.

By that time, however, the recession—by one general measure—will be a year old and certainly deeper than today with the unemployment headed to 7 percent, leaving Congress vulnerable to criticism it delayed staving off some of the pain.

Either way, the level of spending is worrisome to many and dangerous to some. Hanke says governemnt has lost “any sense of proportion.

“It’s just spend and pass the burden on the future,” adds Schatz.

Source

Published in: on November 2, 2008 at 5:19 pm  Comments Off on Coming Soon: Congress Is Back With ‘Stimulus-2’  
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Global gamble: the fightback begins…

October 9 2008

The world’s central banks and governments appear to be running out of ammo in the face of a financial crisis that has been intensifying by the hour.

Even the unprecedented global interest-rate cut of half a percentage point yesterday had only the most limited effect, while the IMF called the credit crisis “the most dangerous shock in mature financial markets since the 1930s” and warned of a recession in the UK and elsewhere next year.

The government action was, as one analyst summed it up, “like throwing a pistol at the problem once you’ve emptied the chamber”.

The longest day in the global economy started at first light in Downing Street as Gordon Brown and the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, went public to announce up to £500bn of new capital to prop up Britain’s ailing banks. Within an hour of the opening of trading, the FTSE 100 index had fallen by 7 per cent,

Then, at lunchtime, news broke that the Federal Reserve, with the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, and the central banks of China, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland had cut their interest rates by a half a percentage point. In Britain, that meant a cut in the base rate from 5 to 4.5 per cent – a day sooner than expected; and the first time such an emergency move has taken place since the September 11 attacks in 2001.

As a result, the US Dow Jones and other indices did rally. But not for long, as trading soon returned to its characteristically febrile, volatile state.

The Dow now stands some 33 per cent below its peak last year and the US Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, warned yesterday: “One thing we must recognise – even with the new Treasury authorities – is that some financial institutions will fail.”

Late last night, it emerged that the US Federal Reserve had agreed to provide the insurance giant American International Group (AIG) with a loan of up to $37.8bn (£21.8bn) on top of another for $85bn made last month.

By now, Americans have lost some $2trln (£1.15trln) from their retirement funds – they are “disappearing faster than you can count” in the words of Barack Obama. He echoed the words of Ronald Reagan’s election campaigns, when he asked the voters to ask themselves if they were better off than they were four years ago: “The rate things are going you should ask whether you’re better off than you were four weeks ago.”

The Bank of England’s move and the Treasury’s £500bn package have also failed to reassure in any sustained sense. The FTSE 100 index finished the day extending the huge losses already witnessed this week and this year; down another 5.8 per cent, completing the global round of losses that saw the Tokyo index down 9.4 per cent to a five-year low. Trading in Indonesia and Russia was so chaotic the exchanges were suspended. France’s Cac 40 index ended 6.3 per cent lower and Germany’s Dax lost 5.9 per cent.

In London, traders and investors were encouraged by the sheer scale of the package – £500bn, of which some £400bn can be counted as “new money”, but still fretted that it would not be enough. The Prime Minister told a Downing Street news conference: “Extraordinary times call for the bold and far-reaching solutions that the Treasury has announced.” He said the plan would be funded through increased borrowing but added: “All these are investments being made by the Government which will earn a proper return for the taxpayer.”

Speculation was mounting in Washington last night that Mr Brown and other leaders would join finance ministers for their G7 meeting at the IMF in Washington tomorrow for an impromptu global economic summit.

Some of the most beleaguered British banks reacted well to the news that up to £50bn will be available in the form of government loans and purchases of shares, the price and terms subject to negotiation with the Treasury. Halifax Bank of Scotland, the UK’s largest home lender and the subject of wave after wave of pressure, ended up 24.5 per cent, and Royal Bank of Scotland was 0.8 per cent higher. But shares in Lloyds TSB, due to buy HBOS, fell 7 per cent and Barclays was down 2.4 per cent – all this despite a further £100bn being available in short-term loans from the Bank of England’s Special Liquidity Scheme, on top of the existing outlay of £100bn and an extra £250bn in loan guarantees to encourage banks to lend to each other. Banks will also be made to subscribe to a Financial Services Authority agreement on executive pay.

Yesterday’s unparalleled peace-time extension of state ownership and control, and the interest-rate cut was given only a nervous welcome. Researchers at Capital Economics said: “The provision of massive amounts of liquidity and enhanced depositor protection are all very well, but they do not get to the root of the problem. We are dealing with a crisis of solvency that is not going to disappear until banks are adequately recapitalised. The UK Government has finally got the message, albeit late in the day. But this is not a domestic problem. It is a global problem. And until the financial sector in the world’s largest economy is recapitalised, there will be negative spill-over effects in equity markets around the world.”

Pressure is growing on the US Treasury to take more equity stakes or make more loans to the large American banks and even other, non-bank corporations.

Yet such measures may not be enough to prevent recession and further financial meltdown.

Yesterday was a day when the world woke up to the historic nature of the times, and the realisation that the downturn will almost certainly now turn into recession and may even turn into a slump of a kind not seen since the Great Depression. The real fear is that no bank rescue plan or internationally co-ordinated interest-rate cut or programme of tax reductions and public spending can do much now to stave off the inevitable unemployment and company failures as the credit crunch spreads. The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook said “the major advanced economies are already in or close to recession” with “a cascading series of bankruptcies, forced mergers and public interventions” battering the West’s banks.

Perhaps the only bright news is the belief that inflation will soon peak and then decline rapidly. Few disagreed with yesterday’s Bank of England statement that: “Inflation is likely to rise further, to above 5 per cent in the next month or two. But inflation should then drop back, as the contribution from retail energy prices wanes and the margin of spare capacity in the economy increases.” On the back of such an upbeat assessment, many City economists see interest rates falling to as low as 2.5 per cent, their lowest since 1951. For those in secure, well-paid work and with good credit ratings, the credit crunch may not hurt too much; for everyone else, the pain will be intense.

The rescue plan at a glance

* Gordon Brown unveils a £500bn package of measures aimed at rescuing the banking system.

* The Bank of England cuts interest rates, from 5 to 4.5 per cent.

* The Government confirms that all UK savers with accounts in the closed Icelandic internet bank Icesave will get all their money back.

* The IMF predicts the UK economy will contract by 0.1 per cent next year. Unemployment will rise to 6 per cent.

* European stock markets close down as investors remain unconvinced that the co-ordinated rate cuts and bank rescues will solve the financial crisis.

Source

US Spending and mismanagement was a contibuter to this problem.

Published in: on October 9, 2008 at 7:43 pm  Comments Off on Global gamble: the fightback begins…  
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