1. Greek Economic Tragedy Greece has been in the news a bit lately, as its government looks like needing emergency loans to prevent it from defaulting. The Greek government's debt is about US$ 400 billion. If you include money owed by the private sector (i.e. companies and households), the combined external debt is even higher. A lot has been said about the PIIGS of Europe (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) and their potential financial problems. Strangely, nothing much is said about the biggest debtor in Europe, namely the United Kingdom. The UK is easily the second largest debtor in the world, after the US, with US$ 9191 billion of external debt. That's a staggering US$ 150,673 per person. The following article is a bit out of date, but it highlights that the UK looks like the basketcase of the G7: "The true extent of Britain's debt" <http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/3078296/the-true-extent-of- britains-debt.thtml> Debt in itself is not a problem, as long as it can be paid on time. One way of measuring the level of a country's debt is to compare it to annual output (or GDP). For example, if the debt-to-GDP ratio is 50%, it will take half of a nation's total annual output to pay off its debt. Here's a league table that ranks the debt level of several countries: * United Kingdom US$ 9191 billion, US$ 150,673/person, 365% of GDP * Germany US$ 5208 billion, US$ 63,350/person, 185% of GDP * Greece US$ 536 billion, US$ 47,401/person, 153% of GDP * Australia US$ 826 billion, US$ 38,798/person, 107% of GDP * United States US$13400 billion, US$ 43,646/person, 94% of GDP * Italy US$ 1060 billion, US$ 18,235/person, 58% of GDP * Japan US$ 1492 billion, US$ 4,528/person, 35% of GDP * China US$ 363 billion, US$ 271/person, 5% of GDP Source: Wikipedia, "List of countries by external debt" <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_external_debt> So, on the surface, the UK looks as though it has a much bigger debt problem than Greece. However, Greece has a few extra problems: * High levels of corruption, e.g. fakelaki <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fakelaki> * A bloated public sector, so much of the debt is not very productive * It's still paying off costs of hosting the 2004 Olympics * It looks like past governments have been cooking the books * Unlike Australia, it doesn't have a lot of export revenue 2. How IT Companies make their money On a more positive note, it appears some tech companies are faring well despite the global financial crisis. Here's how some companies generate their revenue... * Apple <http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-in-case-you-had-any- doubts-about-where-apples-revenue-comes-from-2010-4> * Microsoft <http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-microsoft-operating- income-by-division-2010-2> * Google <http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-in-case-you-had-any- doubts-about-where-googles-revenue-comes-from-2010-2> 3. "The Forbes Fictional 15" <http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/13/fictional-15-richest-characters- opinions-fictional_land_print.html> "Global markets are rapidly recovering from the 2008 financial crisis, and so are the fortunes of the fictitious. There are six new characters on the 2010 edition of Fictional 15."