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New Zealand’s debt to soar to counter COVID-19. Europe’s will too

New Zealand announced on Thursday that its public debt will more than double over the next three yea..

New Zealand announced on Thursday that its public debt will more than double over the next three years as it unveiled a massive investment plan to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The island nation will invest 50 billion New Zealand dollars (€27.7 billion) over the next four years to boost the economy. As a result, public debt is expected to shoot up from 20% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 54% in 2023.

But New Zealand is far from the only country to expect its public debt to take a hit from the pandemic.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted last month that “fiscal balances in 2020 are expected to deteriorate in almost all countries, with sizeable estimated expansions in the United States, China, and several European and other Asian economies.”

The euro area is thus expected to see its gross public debt relative to GDP rise from 84.1% in 2019 to 97.4% this year.

What’s public debt?

The health of an economy is measured, primarily, through its GDP which represents the total value of what the country produced in goods and services during a specific period of time. It includes all private and public consumption, government spending, investments, construction world and the foreign balance of trade — whether the country has exported more than it has imported.

The debt-to-GDP ratio, therefore, calculates what a county owes compared to what it produces and indicates a country’s ability to repay its debt.

Usually, the higher the debt-to-GDP ratio, the higher the interest rates on government bonds — the instrument countries use to raise money — will be.

Why it’s rising?

Countries around the world took drastic measures to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns were introduced on every continent, limited people’s ability to move and meet, grinding entire sectors to a halt and putting healthcare systems under intense pressure.

Governments the world over have had to unveil massive investment plans to keep businesses from going under and workers for losing their jobs.

According to the Bruegel thinktank, the German federal government announced support measures worth more than 1,400 billion, while France, Italy, the UK and the US respectively put forward 620 billion, 781 billion, 520 billion and 3,000 billion.

How much will it rise in the EU?

Here is what the IMF forecast in its Fiscal Monitor released last month.

Greece and Italy will remain the most indebted countries with Athens debt-to-GDP ratio expected to rise from 179.2% to 200.8%.

Belgium, Cyprus, France, Portugal, and Spain are meanwhile forecast to cross the 100% threshold.

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Madeleine McCann presumed dead, German prosecutor says

Issued on: 04/06/2020 – 14:59Modified: 04/06/2020 – 14:59

Madeleine McCann, the British girl who d..

Issued on: Modified:

Madeleine McCann, the British girl who disappeared in Portugal in 2007 aged just three, is assumed to be dead and an imprisoned German child abuser is the murder suspect, a German prosecutor said on Thursday.


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McCann vanished from her bedroom on May 3 during a family vacation in the Algarve while her parents were dining with friends nearby in the resort of Praia da Luz.

Her disappearance sparked an international search, with missing posters of the little girl's face papered across the world and celebrity appeals for information that could help track her down and bring her abductors to justice.

"We assume that the girl is dead," Braunschweig state prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters said. "The public prosecutor's office in Braunschweig is investigating a 43-year-old German national on suspicion of murder."

German police said on Wednesday the suspect, who had lived near Praia da Luz, had made a spontaneous decision to kill McCann during a break-in of the apartment where she was sleeping. They were treating the case as suspected murder.

No body has ever been found. But the German statements that the young girl was assumed dead were the most authoritative thus far on her fate. Family and supporters had always held out the hope that she might still be alive somewhere.

McCann's parents said they wanted to find peace but that the German suspect was potentially very significant.

"All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice," her parents, Kate and Gerry, said in a statement issued before the German prosecutor spoke.

"We will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive but whatever the outcome may be, we need to know as we need to find peace."

Drugs and burglary

Prosecutor Wolters said the suspect was a sex offender with multiple convictions, including for sexual abuse of chiRead More – Source

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Covid-19 in Hungary: Are emergency powers being used against the opposition?

Issued on: 04/06/2020 – 12:36Modified: 04/06/2020 – 12:36

In Hungary, many opposition-run municipa..

Issued on: 04/06/2020 – 12:36Modified: 04/06/2020 – 12:36

In Hungary, many opposition-run municipalities accuse the government of taking advantage of the emergency decrees passed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and using the legislation for political purposes. Many large cities, including the capital Budapest, elected an opposition mayor during the local elections of October 2019. The ruling Fidesz party is accused of using its new powers to curb the management of those opposition-run cities, whether it's bRead More – Source

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Putin declares state of emergency over Siberian diesel spill

Issued on: 04/06/2020 – 11:47Modified: 04/06/2020 – 11:47

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wedn..

Issued on: 04/06/2020 – 11:47Modified: 04/06/2020 – 11:47

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a state of emergency and criticised a subsidiary of metals giant Norilsk Nickel after a massive diesel spill into a Siberian river.


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The spill of over 20,000 tonnes of diesel fuel took place on Friday. A fuel reservoir collapsed at a power plant near the city of Norilsk, located above the Arctic Circle, and leaked into a nearby river.

During a televised video conference, Putin lambasted the head of the Norilsk Nickel subsidiary that runs the power plant, NTEK, after officials said it failed to report the incident.

"Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact? Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media? Are you quite healthy there?" Putin asked NTEK chief Sergei Lipin in an unusually stern dressing-down.

Norilsk Nickel said in a statement that NTEK had reported what happened in a "timely and proper" way.

Krasnoyarsk region governor Alexander Uss told Putin he only "learned of the real situation" on Sunday after "alarming information appeared in social media".

Putin said he agreed that a national state of emergency was needed to call in more resources for the cleanup effort.

Russia's Investigative Committee, which deals with major incidents, announced that it launched three criminal probes over environmental violations and detained an employee of the power plant.

It released video footage shot on a mobile phone that appears to show fuel cascading down from the reservoir and under a fence.

World Wildlife Fund expert Alexei Knizhnikov told AFP the environmental group was the one who alerted cleanup specialists after confirming the accident through its sources.

"These are huge volumes," he said. "It was difficult for them to cover it up."

The volume of the spill is vastly larger than a major 2007 spill in the Kerch strait of the Black Sea that involved 5,000 tonnes of oil, the WWF expert said.

The Kerch spill, which at the time was the largest Russia had experienced, required the intervention of the military and hundreds of volunteers.

Troops could help clean-up

Knizhnikov said diesel fuel is lighter than oil, so it is likely to evaporate rather than sink, but it is "more toxic to clean up".

Environment Minister Dmitry Kobylkin said only the emergencieRead More – Source

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