Christofias says he bows out with his head held high

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NI­COSIA (Reuters) – Out­go­ing Cypriot Pres­i­dent Dim­itris Christofias said yes­ter­day he was bow­ing out with his head held high, blam­ing prof­li­gate banks and a global eco­nomic cri­sis for fi­nan­cial tur­moil en­velop­ing the cash-starved is­land. Christofias, a left­ist leader elected in 2008, will not be con­test­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tions sched­uled for to­mor­row. Rightwing leader Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades is ex­pected to win the vote, which could ex­tend to a runoff on Fe­bru­ary 24. “The government can­not be blamed for the eco­nomic cri­sis, ig­nor­ing a global cri­sis and the dam­ag­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of banks and its reg­u­la­tor,” Christofias said in a tele­vised ad­dress. Once the is­land’s most pop­u­lar politi­cian, Christofias saw his pop­u­lar­ity slump amid eco­nomic re­ces­sion which has cre­ated record-high un- em­ploy­ment and empty cof­fers, and a deadly mu­ni­tions ac­ci­dent in 2011 widely put down to state in­com­pe­tence. He has blamed banks’ greed and reg­u­la­tory short­com­ings for Cyprus’s eco­nomic col­lapse. Op­po­si­tion par­ties say his government was too slow to re­spond to signs of trou­ble, drag­ging its feet in seek­ing, and then ne­go­ti­at­ing, a bailout deal with lenders. “I am leav­ing with my head held high, be­cause I be­lieve that I did what­ever I could for Cyprus, and un­der ex­cep­tion­ally dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances,” Christofias said. the Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers 16th global an­nual sur­vey. Greece aims to start with the funds it bor­rowed to com­plete its 11.3-bil­lion-euro bond buy­back pro­gram, with the as­sets con­cerned be­ing a range of real es­tate prop­er­ties slated for sell­off. Stournaras pointed to a clear im­prove­ment in the Greek cli­mate, not­ing that the econ­omy has sta­bi­lized in re­cent months, but stressed that more needed to be done on the level of tax col­lec­tion. The cor­ner­stone of a forth­com­ing over­haul of the tax sys­tem will be an elec­tronic as­sets reg­is­ter that is cur­rently be­ing com­piled, he said.

Stagfla­tion.

In­fla­tion evap­o­rated in Jan­uary, hit­ting its low­est level since data be­gan in 1996, the Hel­lenic Sta­tis­ti­cal Author­ity (ELSTAT) said yes­ter­day, as the coun­try’s eco­nomic down­turn sapped con­sumer price pres­sures. The EU-har­mo­nized con­sumer in­fla­tion rate (HCPI) was 0.0 per­cent year-on-year in Jan­uary, ELSTAT said, be­low a 0.2 per­cent forecast in a Reuters poll of econ­o­mists.

Puma costs.

Krug­man.

Ger­man sports­wear com­pany Puma yes­ter­day an­nounced a 70 per­cent drop in its an­nual profit. Earn­ings in the fi­nal quar­ter were hit by costs of 98 mil­lion eu­ros re­lated to a pay­out in Spain to re­claim trade­mark rights from a former li­cence holder and costs for clos­ing its op­er­a­tions in Greece, Cyprus and Bul­garia. It will con­tinue to dis­trib­ute prod­ucts to th­ese coun­tries.

Speak­ing about the eco­nomic cri­sis in Europe, No­bel Prize-win­ning econ­o­mist Paul Krug­man said yes­ter­day in an in­ter­view with Bloomberg that he is sur­prised Greece has not left the euro yet, though he still thinks a Greek exit is “more likely than not.”

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