Egan-Jones downgrades US
A small credit ratings agency on Thursday downgraded the US’ credit rating for a second time, saying the country was no closer to solving its runaway debt problem. In a move that could foreshadow decisions from larger agencies, Egan-Jones downgraded the US to “AA” from “AA+.” The company cited “the lack of any tangible progress on addressing the problems and the continued rise in debt to GDP.” “For the first time since WWII, US debt exceeds 100 percent,” analysts said, predicting that would rise to 106 percent by the end of the year, calling that an “inflection point.” Egan-Jones — which is much smaller than its rivals — scrapped the US’ top-level “AAA” rating in July last year, a month before Standard & Poor’s. Part of the reason cited then and now was the continued political gridlock in Washington. “We’d like to see some progress towards reducing the fiscal deficit in the next six to twelve months,” managing director Sean Egan said.
Trade deficit jumps
An increase in energy imports because of a cold snap in February sent France’s trade deficit jumping by nearly 15 percent in February to hit 6.4 billion euros (US$8.4 billion), customs data showed yesterday. “In February, the increase in imports is in part due to energy purchases connected to the cold snap, which caused the deficit to widen to 6.398 billion euros from 5.593 billion euros in January,” the French customs service said in a statement. In addition to the cold weather, three oil refineries were shut for maintenance, also causing a spurt in imports, the customs service said. Imports rose to 43.6 billion euros in February and exports to 37.2 billion euros. Exports were helped by good sales of manufactured items, as well as agricultural commodities and military equipment, the customs service said.
PM bullish on rebound
The economy of debt-drowned Greece could see growth of between 2.5 percent and 3 percent in two years’ time, the country’s prime minister said on Thursday. Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said during an official visit to Cyprus that current projections suggest Greece’s GDP will start rebounding from five straight years of recession in the second half of next year. Papademos said this would happen if the Greek authorities, including a new government to emerge from elections expected early next month, stick to reforms and take additional measures to speed up economic recovery such as introducing job creation schemes.
Twitter sues spammers
Twitter on Thursday turned to a US federal court in its latest effort to stop spammers targeting the worldwide one-to-many text messaging service. Twitter sued a small cadre of what it described as “the most aggressive” culprits behind blitzes of messages ranging from junk promotions to frauds and even links, to Web sites or files booby-trapped with viruses. “Our engineers continue to combat spammers’ efforts to circumvent our safeguards and today we’re adding another weapon to our arsenal: the law,” the San Francisco-based firm said in a blog post. “With this suit, we’re going straight to the source.” The suit filed in a San Francisco federal court targets five spam-generating software programs and their creators, according to Twitter. “By shutting down tool providers, we will prevent other spammers from having these services at their disposal,” Twitter said.