Sunday, July 20, 2008

House prices could fall for two years: Citigroup

Prospective buyers visit an open house for sale in Alexandria, Virginia April 6, 2008. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

LONDON, July 19, 2008 (Reuters) — Citigroup chairman Win Bischoff has warned that house prices in Britain and the United States are likely to keep falling for another two years.

The chairman of one of the world's most powerful banks told the BBC in an interview that he expects it will take two years for the markets to stabilise.

He also said he expected the credit crunch could continue through until 2009.

Bischoff told the BBC that there would be redundancies at the bank, which employs 12,000 people in Britain, and warned that some of them would be compulsory.

No further details were released of the interview which is due to be broadcast later on Saturday on the BBC News Channel

(Reporting by Paul Majendie, Editing by Jon Boyle)

Original here

Zimbabwe introduces $100 billion banknotes

HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Zimbabwe's troubled central bank introduced $100 billion banknotes Saturday in a desperate bid to ease the recurrent cash shortages plaguing the inflation-ravaged economy.

A shopper displays a $500 million Zimbabwean bank note.

A shopper displays a $500 million Zimbabwean bank note.

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The bills officially come into circulation Monday, although they were on the foreign currency dealers market Saturday.

As high as they are, though, the bills still aren't enough to buy a loaf of bread. They can buy only four oranges.

The new note is equal to just one U.S. dollar.

Once-prosperous Zimbabwe has seen an unprecedented economic meltdown since it gained independence in 1980, with the official inflation rate now at 2.2 million percent.

Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, said the new notes are for "the convenience of the banking public and corporate sector" in light of price hikes.

"The RBZ has noted with concern the unjustifiable and incessant general increases in prices of goods and services. It is therefore appealing to the business community to follow ethical business practices as well as take an interest in the plight of the general public," Gono said in a statement dated Friday.

Zimbabwe started issuing large bank notes in December, starting with denominations of $250,000.

In January, the government issued bills in denominations of $1 million, $5 million, and $10 million -- and in May, it issued bills from $25 million and $50 million up to $25 billion and $50 billion.

The new bills are actually bearer checks and have an expiration date of December 31. Zimbabwe has not had formal currency since the introduction of bearer checks as a temporary measure in 2003.

"The RBZ is fighting a losing battle," economist John Robertson said in Harare. "As long as the inflation remains high, cash shortages will persist. There is need to address the inflation by increasing production so that too goods do not [cost] a lot of money."

Original here

Hewlett-Packard Crowned Head Of The Stupid Shipping Gang After Packing 32 Sheets Of Paper In 17 Boxes

Leading the stupid shipping gang takes creative incompetence, and Hewlett-Packard is clearly up to the task. Other companies might have turned to email when faced with the challenge of shipping sixteen software licenses. Not Hewlett-Packard! HP went looking for a box. A really big box, which they filled with sixteen smaller boxes, each containing two precious pieces of paper ensconced in a layer of protective foam.
Hewlett-Packard's head of product packaging was unable to explain the odd shipping choice, as he is currently en route to St. Ives.

Original here

Fitzgerald says Rove was trying to fire him during CIA leak probe

In a supplement to his responses to the House Judiciary Committee, Patrick Fitzgerald confirms what we've always suspected: Karl Rove was trying to have Patrick Fitzgerald fired while Fitzgerald was still investigating Rove for his role in leaking Valerie Wilson's identity--and the timing lines up perfectly with the Administration's efforts to fire a bunch of US Attorneys.

Remember back in June, when Fitzgerald publicly suggested he had more details to share with Congress about Rove's efforts to get him fired?

"If I owe a response [about the putsch to remove him from his job], I owe it to Congress, first," Fitzgerald said when asked about all this after the verdict.

Well, it turns out Fitzgerald did share those details with Congress. And those details make it clear that Fitzgerald learned Rove was trying to fire him while Fitzgerald was still actively investigating Rove's role in the leak of Valerie Wilson's identity.

In my answers submitted on May 2,2008, I noted in my response to Question Eleven that I omitted discussion of when I first learned that I might be asked to resign as United States Attorney. I declined to answer more fully due to the then pending trial of United States v. Antoin Rezko in the Northern District of Illinois. With that trial concluded, I can briefly elaborate further: I learned some time in or about early 2005 from agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") that a cooperating witness (who later testified at the Rezko trial, but not about this topic) had advised the FBI agents that he had earlier been told by one of Mr. Rezko's co-schemers that it was the responsibility of a third person in Illinois to have me replaced as United States Attorney. I should be clear that I did not understand that any putative effort to replace me as United States Attorney was related to my conduct as Special Counsel but understood instead that it was related to the investigative activities of federal agents and prosecutors conducting a corruption investigation in Illinois. [my emphasis]

As a reminder, here's the allegation with all the names handily added in (though I think Fitzgerald is referring to someone besides Ata, because Ata was not yet cooperating with the Rezko prosecutors):

In a hearing before court began, prosecutors said they hoped to call Ali Ata, the former Blagojevich administration official who pleaded guilty to corruption yesterday, to the stand.