Europe’s Banking Stress – Morning Business Memo

Jan 18, 2012 8:13am

It’s a clash of new and old media. Some of the most popular websites are calling this internet blackout day – protesting antipiracy legislation. The popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia has gone dark for 24 hours. Thousands of sites say they are either closing for the day or making symbolic protests.

 The bills in the House and Senate are backed by major media companies, who say the legislation is needed to protect intellectual property and jobs. The bills attempt to curtail the illegal downloading and streaming of TV shows and movies. Steven Tepp of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says “rogue sites are hurting American jobs and have no business being on the internet.”

Many websites say the proposed legislation amounts to censorship.

A new sign of stress for European banks. Overnight deposits at the European Central Bank hit a record high – $675 billion. That’s almost certainly because financial firms are unwilling to lend to each other, worried they might not be paid back.

Crisis talks continue in Greece today over its debt problems. Global bank representatives are due back in Athens to restart discussions aimed at avoiding a default. Greece is seeking a deal to write off half of the debt it owes private bondholders, who would get new bonds with extended repayment periods. Talks have been held up by a disagreement on interest rates for the new bonds.

The World Bank says a recession in Europe plus weaker growth in India, Brazil and other developing nations will likely lead to slower global economic growth this year.

The season is young, but the first big companies to report have announced mixed quarterly earnings so far. Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase reported a drop in profits. But one hopeful sign is that big banks are lending more money to businesses and consumers. Loan growth is at its strongest pace since the 2008 financial crisis.

Most Americans say the economy has yet to show signs of recovery. But the trend is improving. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll says 45 percent say the economy’s begun to recover, up 9 points from two months ago

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio twitter.com/daviesabc

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