Greek Bailout Rejected, New Political Turmoil Feared
Greek voters expressed defiance toward the terms of an international bailout and turned on the ruling parties in an election on Sunday, Reuters reports. The ruling parties took a hit, threatening to revive Europe’s debt crisis and putting the country’s future in the eurozone at risk. According to the latest election results, only two of the major parties supporting an EU/IMF program that would keep Greece from bankruptcy would find it difficult to form a working coalition. Voter dissatisfaction paved the way for the extreme right Golden Dawn party to enter parliament for the first time since the fall of a military dictatorship in 1975, Reuters said.
French Incumbent Defeated
Incumbent French President Nicolas Sarkozy wished “good luck” to French socialist Francois Hollande, who defeated Sarkozy in the country’s presidential election, the BBC reports. Hollande is the first socialist to win the French presidency since Francois Mitterand in the 1980s. Hollande has pkedged to refocus EU fiscal efforts from austerity to “growth,” the BBC said. “Austerity can no longer be the only option,” he proclaimed. Mr Hollande has called for a renegotiation of a hard-won European treaty on budget discipline championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Sarkozy.
The Avengers: With Great Power Comes Great Box Office
“The Avengers” muscled its way into the record books earning just over $200 million in U.S. theaters in its opening weekend. This bests “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” for the biggest opening weekend of all time. According to the website Deadline Hollywood, “The Avengers” is the fastest film to reach $200 million (three days). The film gathers a Who’s Who of Marvel heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, (who each have their own film franchises) as well as the Hulk. The film is on track to earn $1 billion worldwide, where it now holds biggest opening weekend bragging rights in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Central America, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and the Philippines. It has yet to open in Japan.
Stock Market Trading Volumes Remain Low
U.S. stock market trading volumes remain well below 2008 levels, The New York Times reports. Daily trades averaged 6.5 billion a day in April, nearly half the 12.1 billion at the peak in 2008.
Stock trading typically recovers within two years of an economic recovery, but the New York Stock Exchange reported a 23 percent drop in trading in the first quarter of 2012, compared to the same period last year, said The Times. Nasdaq announced a 7 percent year-over-year decline in trading volumes for the first quarter of 2012.
Fears of another market crash, extreme volatility and concern over Europe’s sovereign debt crisis may be deterring some traders and retail investors.
Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Denounce “Buffett Rule”
Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway feel the company’s leader, Warren Buffett, should stay out of the national debate on taxes, according to CNN Money.
Buffett defended his right to free speech during a question and answer session with shareholders at the company’s annual meeting on Saturday. According to CNN Buffett told critics that he didn’t “put his citizenship in a blind trust” when he became CEO.
Buffett maintained that the nation should restore a higher tax rate for the nation’s wealthiest citizens and noted that one-third of the 400 richest people in American pay a 15 percent tax rate.
Gift Registries for High School Grads
High school students are taking advantage of new gift registry services, such as Dorm Co. and MyRegistry.com, to distribute wish lists for graduation gifts to their friends and family, USA Today reports. Students are also compiling wish lists on the social medial platform Pinterest.
The services enable students to create a wish list from multiple websites, and MyRegistry also allows students to request cash. An estimated 100,000 families will use MyRegistry this spring, company president Nancy Lee told USA Today. One-third of graduates using the service request cash and receive gifts ranging from $100 to $3,000, which are deposited into a PayPal Account. Students can include links to these services on their graduation invitations.