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‘Free fall’ is over: Stiglitz

Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz said on Thursday the “sense of free fall” is over in the world economic crisis, while urging further efforts by rich countries to speed recovery. “There’s no longer the sense of free fall,” Stiglitz told reporters in Rome. “The rate of decline has slowed, but that should not be confused with recovery,” Stiglitz said after a two-day meeting of the so-called “Shadow GN” economists. “While it may be the case that the worst consequences of the freezing of credit are easing, it would be wrong to say that the global crisis is over,” Stiglitz said, urging “continued efforts by governments to stimulate economies and revive the financial system.” The group of experts “with no commitments other than that of being citizens of the world” met to compile recommendations for the G8 rich countries that will hold their annual summit in Italy in July. The initiative is led by Stiglitz and French economist Jean-Paul Fitoussi.


Exports drop 15.8%

German exports plunged by 15.8 percent year-on-year in March as demand for goods from a leading global exporter slid further owing to the economic downturn, official figures showed yesterday. Imports by the biggest European economy fell by 11.6 percent, data showed. Germany’s foreign trade balance continued to show a surplus of 11.3 billion euros (US$15.1 billion), but that was down from 16.8 billion in March last year, the Destatis service said. The figure was nonetheless better than an average analyst forecast of 8.7 billion euros compiled by Dow Jones Newswires. For the first three months of this year, Germany showed a trade surplus of 26.9 billion euros, nearly half the previous year’s figure of 51.2 billion euros.


Microsoft warns of copies

Microsoft said on Thursday that cybercriminals are already hawking booby-trapped versions of the just-released Windows 7 operating system software. “In the last few days we’ve seen reports of illegitimate distributions of the release candidate of our latest Windows operating system, Windows 7, being offered in a way that is designed to infect a customer’s PC with malware,” Joe Williams, general manager, Worldwide Genuine Windows at Microsoft, said in an interview posted on the company’s official Website. The US software colossus has touted anti-piracy protections it built into Windows 7 to thwart the spread of illegal copies of the operating system. Microsoft decried software piracy as a pervasive problem that costs the world economy more than US$45 billion annually and exposes users to risks of identity theft, system crashes and data loss.


AIG nears Tokyo deal

Ailing US insurance giant American International Group (AIG) is close to reaching a deal to sell its Japanese headquarters to Nippon Life for about US$1 billion, an industry source said yesterday. “The talks are in the final stages,” said the source, who asked not to be named. Nippon Life Insurance Co, Japan’s biggest life insurer and known as Nissay, aims to purchase the building in the heart of Tokyo as an investment but is not the only potential buyer, the source said. The US government has pumped US$180 billion into AIG to keep it afloat, the largest single recipient of federal bailout money, giving the US Treasury effective control of what had once been one of the world’s biggest insurers.

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