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Economy Briefs: Former ECB chief economists criticize bond-buying program

- - Sunday, September 30, 2012

BERLIN — The European Central Bank’s two former chief economists are criticizing the institution's plan to buy unlimited amounts of government bonds.

Otmar Issing and Juergen Stark said in separate interviews published Sunday that the central bank is overstepping its mandate.

In September, the ECB announced plans to buy bonds to help lower borrowing costs for struggling nations once they get assistance from Europe’s rescue funds and meet certain conditions.

Mr. Issing told the BBC in an interview to be broadcast Monday that the bond-buying program "is something very dangerous, because here the ECB is doing the business that is not done by governments."

German news magazine Der Spiegel quoted Mr. Stark, who stepped down over policy disagreements last year, as saying the ECB has “overstepped its mandate” and has started to finance government debt.

ENERGY

MidAmerican inks deal to buy two California wind farms

MidAmerican Energy has agreed to buy two wind projects under construction about 120 miles north of Los Angeles from the wind developer Terra-Gen Power. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The two projects, totaling 300 megawatts of peak electric capacity, will be part of the larger Alta Wind Energy Center in Tehachapi, Calif., much of which is already in operation.

MidAmerican, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said Sunday that it will sell the electricity to Southern California Edison under long-term power purchase agreements. In typical conditions, the projects will produce enough electricity to meet the demands of about 80,000 homes.

AUTO

Nissan offers Leaf discounts to spur electric-vehicle sales

DETROIT — Nissan is offering cheap leases and big discounts on the Leaf because of slow sales of the all-electric car.

Nissan Motor Co. sold only 4,228 Leafs this year through August, almost a third fewer than a year ago.

It also has a big inventory of the cars nationwide. At the end of August it had enough 2012 models in stock to supply dealers for 114 days, according to Ward’s AutoInfoBank. Automakers consider a 60-day supply to be optimal.

Last month, Nissan started offering Leafs for $219 per month with $2,999 down for 32 months. That is down from $249 per month earlier in the year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports