German finance minister slams Irish bankers as ‘aloof super humans’

Saturday, June 29th, 2013 | Finance News

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble slammed Irish bankers caught on tape joking about a bailout, calling them "aloof super humans" worthy of contempt.

Schaeuble's remarks quoted by an edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung to be published on Sunday echoed comments by Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.

Transcripts of telephone conversations from 2008 between bankers at Anglo Irish Bank have caused outrage in Ireland and beyond in recent days.

In the tapes, the bankers made light of the Irish government's decision at the height of the global financial crisis to guarantee their liabilities.

They are also heard singing a pre-war verse of the German national anthem, with the words "Deutschland ueber alles".

"These bankers seem to like themselves in the role of aloof super humans who only have contempt for their fellow humans," Schaeuble was quoted as saying. "Instead it is they who should get our contempt and to whose game we should put a stop."

Ireland's government gave a blanket guarantee to Anglo and other lenders in 2008 to keep them operating. The decision eventually cost Irish taxpayers some 30 billion euros, forcing Dublin to seek a European bailout in late 2010.

Schaeuble said the tape recordings highlighted "how necessary and important it was to introduce clear rules into the financial markets".

EU finance ministers agreed on Thursday new rules for dealing with failing banks which would hit shareholders, bondholders and wealthy depositors before taxpayers.

"Exceptions show that it remains important not to think that everything is well now but to stay cautious and alert, in order to fight such scheming," Schaeuble was quoted as saying.

(Reporting by Annika Breidthardt; Editing by David Cowell)

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Government probes Honda Odyssey brake problem

Saturday, June 29th, 2013 | Finance News

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. safety regulators are investigating some Honda Odyssey minivans because they can brake without the driver pressing the pedal.

The probe affects nearly 344,000 vans from the 2007 and 2008 model years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has received 22 complaints from owners about unexpected braking. In some cases, the vans braked while drivers were accelerating, cutting the speed by up to 30 miles per hour. Five people told the agency that dealers found trouble in a steering angle sensor in the electronic stability control system.

The agency said it has no reports of crashes or injuries.

Investigators will determine if the problem happens frequently enough to seek a recall. The agency opened the case this past Tuesday.

The problem is similar to one that resulted in the recall of about 250,000 vehicles worldwide in March. That problem was caused by improper electronics and wiring in the electronic stability control system, which automatically applies brakes to individual wheels if vehicles are out of control.

In that case, Honda Motor Co. recalled more than 183,000 vehicles in the U.S., including the Acura RL, Acura MDX and Honda Pilot SUV. It recalled another 56,000 in Japan, affecting the Odyssey, Legend, StepWgn and Elysion models. Also recalled were nearly 8,000 vehicles in Canada, nearly 1,000 in Australia, about 300 in Mexico and 70 in Germany. The vehicles were produced from March 2004 through May 2006.

A Honda official in California said he hasn't been told about the latest probe but would check into it.

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Jordan’s first quarter economic growth rises to 2.6 percent

Saturday, June 29th, 2013 | Finance News

AMMAN (Reuters) - Economic growth in Jordan picked up to 2.6 percent year-on-year in the first quarter from 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter, central statistics office data showed on Saturday.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said earlier this year it expects the economy to expand above 3 percent in 2013, reflecting an increase in government capital spending, a recovery in exports and higher domestic consumption.

Other signs of recovery include foreign reserves which have been boosted by at least $1.5 billion of Gulf money and greater confidence in the local economy by investors, officials say.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by David Cowell)

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