Suarez – I’m no diver

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez insists he is no diver and is relishing the physical battle of playing in the Premier League.

Suarez has enjoyed a mesmerising impact in English football since joining Liverpool from Ajax during the January transfer window.

However, the quick-footed forward has also been forced to contend with claims that he occasionally indulges in theatrics in order to win free-kicks.

The Uruguayan has dismissed such a suggestion and believes hard work is behind his ability to torment opposition defences.

Their comments come amid gathering evidence of an economic slowdown that threatens to knock Europe’s crisis response further off course and spark a new round of global economic turbulence.

With growth stalling, there is mounting fear that struggling countries like Greece, Spain and Italy could miss their targets for reducing their public debt and further undermine the confidence of international investors, who are already demanding higher interest rates in return for lending to them.

The remarks were also a rebuff to Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, who warned during the weekend that weakness in European banks posed a key risk to the economy.

Speaking at a conference of central bankers and economists in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Lagarde, a former French finance minister, said the banks needed “urgent recapitalization.” She said the euro zone’s financial system had to prove it could withstand the impact of an economic slowdown and possible losses arising from investments in the government bonds of heavily indebted nations.

The dispute among prominent European officials reflects a divide over solutions to Europe’s problems. Despite calls, including those from the Obama administration, for more dramatic action, Europe’s unwieldy and often cautious politics have led to a stepwise approach that has yet to allay concerns that the monetary union may crack apart.

At a meeting Monday of the European parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Trichet and Rehn offered reassurance about the health of the banks.

Trichet explained that the ECB has guaranteed open-ended lending to any European bank that needs cash, removing any liquidity threat to the firms or the wider economy.

“There cannot be a liquidity problem for the European banking system,” Trichet said, noting there are about $700 billion in loans outstanding from the ECB and a further willingness to lend whatever banks need.

The ECB in recent weeks also has been buying large sums of government bonds issued by Italy and Spain to help keep down their borrowing costs. (The interest rate on bonds tends to decline as demand increases.) Last week, the central bank increased its holdings of government bonds by another $7 billion.

As in the United States, banks in Europe were hard hit by the financial crisis, which began in 2007, and subsequent recession. While Europe’s financial industry has gone through a major reorganization, the process is not as far along as in the United States. The consolidation of Europe’s banking sector is incomplete, with more closures and mergers considered likely, particularly in troubled economies like that of Greece.

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