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Leading Economic Indicators

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Tight Money: As Italy's banks (like so many others) curtailed lending during the global financial crisis, the country's 180,000 small businesses had nowhere to turn for liquidity except to the Mafia, whose lending continued (at ridiculous interest rates, of course), unrestricted by the recession, according to a March Washington Post dispatch from Rome. Organized crime in Italy collects an estimate of the equivalent of $315 million a week.

In March, because of budget cuts, the Municipal Court in Mount Gilead, Ohio, ordered its clerk to accept no new filings of any kind (including criminal cases) unless the filer brings his own paper for printing the legally required copies to be distributed.

London's Daily Mail reported in March that among the recession-themed business start-up grants awarded by the Welsh Department of Work and Pensions was the equivalent of about $6,600 to the Accolade Academy of Psychic and Mediumistic Studies. One of the Academy's owners defended the award, noting that parents who have lost a child need to know that the child is safe.

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