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Macro chatter: Spain's shrinking economy and the UK's vanishing pubs

Around the world today in business and economics. Need to know, want to know, and strange but true.
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A pint glass of 'Kiss me Kate' beer is pulled in the bar at The Castle Rock Brewery in Nottingham, central England, on March 30, 2011. Beer taxes have been rising in the UK and that's been making it harder for pubs to survive. (Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)

Need to know:
Spain slid back into a recession last quarter. The Spanish economy didn't shrink as much as some economists had been expecting, but the data is the latest bit of bad news for one of the countries worst hit by the Euro area crisis. 

Standard & Poor’s, which cut Spain’s bond rating last week, downgraded the credit ratings of 11 Spanish banks today. The Financial Times this weekend reported the Spanish government is trying desperately to find a way to help the country’s banks without having to turn to an international bailout. 

Today also is the deadline for European Union members to submit their budget cutting plans to the European Commission.

Want to know:
German tourists are steering clear of Greek vacations, and Greece misses them.

Greeks interviewed by Reuters urged German tourists to continue making trips to Mediterranean vacation spot. They said the anti-German sentiment behind the canceled vacations is directed at the government, not the people. "They're not coming because of the problems. But we don't have a problem with German people, only their government," Nicki Nastouli told Reuters.

Tourism is a major contributor to the Greek economy, which is struggling with high unemployment, a recession and the ramifications of an international bailout.

Dull but important:
Russia and China have signed trade deals worth $15 billion dollars, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

Trade between Russia and China has been booming, and the latest deals are related to transportation, energy, communications and technology. Among the projects the BRICS giants will work on together: a long distance passenger plane, the Associated Press said.

Just because:
The beer tax is too high, say Brits whose pubs are disappearing.

More than 1,000 pubs have been closing each year across England, Scotland and Wales since 2008, BBC reported. Meanwhile, beer taxes have risen by 42 percent.

Those tax increases, along with the recession and supermarket bargains, are closing about a dozen pubs a week across the UK, the Campaign for Real Ale told BBC.

The group said one-third of the price for a pint now goes to taxes in the UK. 

Strange but true:
US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner had to change his signature to make it fit to print on a American dollar bill. “On the dollar bill I had to write something where people could read my name,” Geithner told American Public Media’s Marketplace.

His normal signature is a bit hard to read and looks more like a curlycue doodle.

“I took handwriting in the third grade in New Delhi, India, so I probably did not get the best instruction on handwriting,” Geithner told Marketplace.

Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal, who reported the story, likes the doodle version better. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/macro/macro-chatter0430