Exports maintain growth
Official data show exports continued to grow in February, rising 1.6 percent compared with the previous month. Imports to Europe’s biggest economy were up a strong 3.9 percent. The Federal Statistical Office said yesterday that the country exported goods and services worth 91.3 billion euros (US$119 billion) in February. It was the second consecutive month-on-month rise, following a 3.4 percent increase in January. In year-on-year terms, exports climbed 8.6 percent — with exports to countries outside the EU leading the way, rising 13.4 percent. The economy traditionally has been powered by exports, but is being helped lately by increasingly strong domestic demand. Imports totaled 76.5 billion euros in February — also rising for the second straight month. They were 6.1 percent higher than a year earlier.
Fed calls out shady banking
US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke called for new steps to curb “shadow banking” operating beyond standard oversight, while saying the US economy has far to go before fully recovering from the credit crisis. “The heavy human and economic costs of the crisis underscore the importance of taking all necessary steps to avoid a repeat of the events of the past few years,” Bernanke said on Monday in a speech in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Bernanke supported efforts to increase the “resiliency” of money market funds, referring to US Securities and Exchange Commission proposals to require firms to maintain capital buffers or to redeem shares at the market value of underlying assets rather than at a fixed price of US$1. He also called for efforts to monitor financial innovation and backed curbs on intraday credit in triparty repo markets.
Savings of 10bn euros eyed
The government, which last month introduced a tough budget for this year, said on Monday it expects to save another 10 billion euros by making public services like education and healthcare run more efficiently. The savings will be made by both the central government and the country’s 17 autonomous regions, a government spokesman said following a meeting between Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the education and health ministers. “The state expects that the savings that could be made in the education and health sectors will represent 10 billion euros, but that must be done with the participation of the regions. If they are not involved, we can’t make these savings,” he added. The autonomous regions are responsible for providing education and healthcare.
AOL selling 800 patents
AOL announced plans to sell more than 800 patents to Microsoft in a US$1.056 billion deal giving the struggling Internet pioneer a needed cash injection as it seeks to fend off pressure from shareholders. The deal also provides Microsoft with licenses to more than 300 additional patents and patent applications, AOL said in a statement. AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong said the deal “unlocks current dollar value for our shareholders and enables AOL to continue to aggressively execute on our strategy to create long-term shareholder value.” AOL said that after the deal is complete, it would continue to hold “a significant patent portfolio of over 300 patents and patent applications spanning core and strategic technologies, including advertising, search ... and security among others.” AOL also received a license to the patents being sold to Microsoft.