Investors urged to stay calm
Officials have a message for the world: “Don’t panic — we won’t be the next to fall.” The EU member is trying to convince its people and foreign investors that it will not be the next in line for a banking system collapse and a messy international bailout. “We are absolutely no Cyprus,” Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek said. “We don’t need help. All we need is time.” While its overall public debt load is well below the EU average, the country of 2 million is facing difficulties refinancing its debt. That has fueled fears that the nation — which accounts for 0.4 percent of the eurozone’s overall economy — could become the sixth eurozone nation to require assistance.
Fed chief to miss symposium
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will miss the annual Jackson Hole monetary policy symposium this year due to a scheduling conflict, skipping the prestigious event for the first time since taking the helm of the bank in 2006. The conference, held in late August in the splendor of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, draws top central bankers from around the world. Bernanke’s absence would mark the first time in 25 years that a Fed chairman has not attended. A Fed spokeswoman said the chairman was currently not planning to attend because of a personal scheduling conflict. Bernanke has periodically used the setting to preview important Fed actions. This year’s meeting would have been viewed as an excellent opportunity for Bernanke to signal that the bank might be leaning toward tapering bond purchases, if the economy continues to recover as officials hope.
Florida sues over oil spill
The state of Florida filed a lawsuit on Saturday against British oil company BP and cement contractor Halliburton over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, becoming the fourth US state to seek damages for the 2010 disaster. The suit, among other things, faults BP for not changing the batteries on the rig’s blowout preventer. Halliburton was blamed for installing faulty cement barriers that were supposed to gird the well against oil pressure. The 40-page complaint by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was filed in US District Court in Panama City. Bondi filed suit on the three-year anniversary of the tragedy that killed 11 rig workers in the Gulf of Mexico. Florida is now the fourth state to sue over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill; Mississippi sued on Friday. Louisiana and Alabama sued BP earlier and are participating in a federal trial that is ongoing in New Orleans to determine the liability of BP and others.
Lufthansa cancels flights
German flag carrier Lufthansa said that most of its domestic, European and long-haul flights would be canceled today due to strike action by ground personnel and cabin crews. “Due to strike action announced for April 22, nearly all Lufthansa flights to German and European destinations must be cancelled,” the airline announced in a statement on Saturday. The firm said it had scheduled only about 20 of its usual 1,650 short-haul flights for today and warned long-haul routes would also be seriously affected. At Frankfurt Airport, Europe’s third-busiest hub, 46 out of 50 intercontinental flights would be scrapped, with long-haul flights from Munich also grounded. Services union Verdi called the strike after three rounds of pay talks with management ended without agreement.