Fiscal panic in Pak

ISLAMABAD: Some Pakistanis have started cleaning out their bank lockers and dollar accounts, fearing a freeze due to the economic crisis gripping the country. The run continues despite the assertion of President Asif Ali Zardari that ‘Pakistan is not a limited company which may go bankrupt’. Declining value of the Pakistani rupee against US dollar and other international currencies, fall in foreign exchange reserves, worsening situation in the country’s stock markets and overall economy, rising inflation and increasing terrorism have shattered investors’ confidence. — AFP

‘Red growth’ portent

ROME: The Italian employers’ association predicts negative growth for the country next year, its head said last Saturday, down nearly one percentage point to minus 0.5 per cent, ANSA news agency reported. Emma Marcegaglia, speaking in Assisi, said, “We were optimistic and had predicted plus 0.4 per cent but now we have to revise our forecasts downward.” This is lower than the International Monetary Fund’s prediction of minus 0.2 per cent for Italy’s gross domestic product next year. In September, the government revised its estimates downward to 0.1 per cent this year and 0.5 per cent in 2009. — AFP

Canada imports drop

OTTAWA: Canada’s imports showed their biggest monthly drop since 1991 in August, Statistics Canada said last Friday, which analysts said pointed to weakening domestic demand and a gloomy outlook for the economy. Overall, trade surplus grew by 38 per cent in August from July but this was because of sharp fall in imports. Exports also fell. Imports fell 5.8 per cent in August to $31.5 billion, in the first decrease since March, due to fewer purchases of foreign cars and energy products, said the government agency. At the same time, exports fell 1.6 per cent to $36.4 billion in the first decline since December 2007. Export volumes were down 1.5 per cent while export prices remained relatively unchanged. - AFP