ECONOMY

In Brief

Worst of Greece’s crisis is over, says Prodi The worst of Greece’s financial crisis is over and other European nations won’t follow in its path, said former European Commission President Romano Prodi. «For Greece, the problem is completely over,» said Prodi, who was also Italian prime minister, in an interview in Shanghai yesterday. «I don’t see any other case now in Europe. I don’t think there is any reason to think the euro system will collapse or will suffer greatly because of Greece.» Greek officials are trying to convince investors they can cut the nation’s budget deficit, which, at 12.7 percent of gross domestic product, was Europe’s largest in 2009. The government last week announced spending cuts and tax increases totaling 4.8 billion euros ($6.5 billion), in a third round of austerity measures this year. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on March 7 the 16-nation euro region must support Greece, which has more than 20 billion euros in debt falling due in April and May, or risk destroying the currency. (Bloomberg) Confidence in world economy drops in March Confidence in the world economy dropped for a second month in March amid concern the fallout from Greece’s budget crisis will undermine the global recovery, according to a Bloomberg survey of users on six continents. The Bloomberg Professional Global Confidence Index fell to 53.8 from 54.9 in February. The index exceeded 50 for an eighth month, which means there were more optimists than pessimists. Sentiment declined in Europe, where leaders have signaled the euro region is ready to rescue Greece should the government struggle to fund its budget deficit. (Bloomberg) Supermarket profits Greek supermarket operator AB Vassilopoulos reported flat 2009 net profits as acquisition-led sales growth was offset by higher costs and a one-off tax, and said it was to accelerate new store openings. «For the current year, the group plans to accelerate its expansion by adding 13-18 new stores,» the company, which operates 216 outlets, said yesterday. AB Vassilopoulos, majority-owned by Belgian group Delhaize, posted a 2009 net profit of 32.6 million euros ($44 million), saying its bottom line had been hit by a 4-million-euro one-off tax on corporate profit aimed at helping Greece grapple with a ballooning deficit and a 300-billion-euro debt pile. (Reuters) Bulgarian industry Bulgaria’s industrial output fell 14.7 percent on a monthly basis in January, after a 0.7 percent drop in December, as the Balkan country battles a deep recession. Industrial production fell 0.9 percent year-on-year compared to a 12.2 percent decline a month earlier, statistics office data showed. (Reuters) Romanian inflation Romania’s annual inflation rate fell to 4.5 percent in February from January’s 5.2 percent, below market expectations, data from the National Statistics Board showed yesterday. The central bank targets inflation at 2.5-4.5 percent this year. Prices rose 0.2 percent on the month. Costs for both food and nonfood items were up 0.2 percent on the month, while services were flat. A median forecast from analysts polled by Reuters last week showed inflation falling to 4.7 percent on the year. Monthly forecasts ranged from 0.2-1.0 percent. (Reuters)