On the eve of President Barack Obama's scheduled visit to a Toledo, Ohio Chrysler plant, the Treasury Department announced it had reached an agreement to sell its remaining six percent equity stake in the auto company to Italy's Fiat. The deal, which will include the sale of the government's interest in a United Auto Workers healthcare trust fund, will net Washington $560 million, Reuters reported. The Obama administration invested $12.5 billion in Chrysler as part of an auto industry bailout that eventually brought both Chrysler and General Motors Corp through bankruptcy court. After the transaction with Fiat, Treasury will have received some $11.2 billion back in principal repayments, interest and canceled commitments from Chrysler. "Treasury is unlikely to fully recover the difference of $1.3 billion," a Treasury statement said.
Moody's Blue over Debt Ceiling Debate
First Standards & Poors, and now Moody Investors Service is warning the U.S. government that if Congress and the Obama administration can't each an agreement about raising the debt ceiling it would place the country's debt rating under review for a possible downgrade.Moody's also warned the government could face a downgrade if it fails to come up with a long-term plan to reduce the country's deficit, which is on pace to exceed $1 trillion for the third straight year, USA Today reported.
Weak Economy Bogs Down Employment
High gasoline prices, bad weather and disruptions to motor vehicle production because of a shortage of parts from Japan are responsible for bogging down the U.S. economy in May, according to a Reuters survey of economists. The job creation slowdown would confirm the economic weakness already flagged by other data from consumer spending to manufacturing, Reuters said, possibly stoking fears about the depth and duration of a slowdown that started early in the year.
Protestors Call for Strike in Greece
About 200 protestors took over the Finance Ministry building in Athens on Friday, unfurling a giant banner from the roof calling for a general strike, the Associated Press reports. The action follows tough negotiations between Greece and international officials on new austerity measures needed to ensure the country can avoid defaulting on its debt. On Friday, Moody's cut the ratings of eight Greek banks. Earlier this week it warned that Greece had a 50-50 chance of defaulting.
New contagion highly infectious and toxic
Scientists around the world are working to find information about a previously unknown "super-toxic" strain of E. coli that has already killed at least 17 people in Europe. While the origins of the outbreak, which began several weeks ago, remain unknown, 10 countries have now reported cases, the New York Times reports. But virtually all of them have been traced to northern Germany. Russia has extended its ban on fresh vegetable imports to encompass all of the European Union. A Chinese laboratory working with German scientists called the strain "entirely new" and "super toxic."