September 15th, 2010
02:35 PM GMT
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The strike that crippled South Africa’s hospitals and schools is no longer in the headlines, but it’s not over yet.

The public servants strike was suspended after three weeks of teachers, nurses and hospital workers staying away from work.

There is no resolution yet to the pay dispute, just a limbo of uncertainties as unions say they are working out a draft wage agreement with the government.

The unions say they have won a victory because the government failed to crush the strike, but in reality the biggest losers were the striking workers, say economists.

Although South Africans have a constitutional right to strike, they do so with a no work, no pay caveat, so after nearly 20 days on the picket line many of the strikers were much worse off financially than they were before the strike.

Economists calculate that striking teachers and nurses have lost about 5% of their annual salary.

Do you think it was worth it?

Filed under: BusinessMarketplace Africa

September 15th, 2010
01:47 PM GMT
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By Ayesha Durgahee

Starting at around $600 for ballerina flats, you have to be a serious shoe fiend or have serious amounts of money to slip into a pair of Manolos – especially when they go up to more than $1500.

The number of women that queued to get into the new Manolo Blahnik pop-up store at Liberty of London gave the impression they were giving the shoes away!

For these 200 women, Liberty of London became their Manolo Mecca because the designer himself was inside to meet them and sign whatever was given to him – Blahnik silk scarves, diaries, men's ties, books and of course shoes.

I had never met Manolo Blahnik before so I didn't know what to expect. Dressed in a bright purple suit with purple leather suede loafers to match, he greeted me with a smile as he threw his arms up and said 'so lovely to meet you!'.

With arms akimbo, Manolo gave a candid interview with vivacious modesty...a bit like his shoes. Having a snapshot of the designer's personality, it is, in this case, the man that maketh the Manolos.

September 15th, 2010
09:05 AM GMT
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On Wednesday, when the Japanese yen hit 82 per U.S. dollar, the government of Prime Minister Naota Kan made good on weeks of threats and ordered the Bank of Japan to begin selling yen to counteract its steep rise.

Meanwhile, concern in Washington about how weak the yuan is trading against the U.S. dollar is threatening to boil over again as U.S. Congressional midterm elections near. Beijing loosened the tight peg of its currency to the U.S. dollar in June by allowing the yuan to appreciate. However, the currency has only increased one percent in that time

So what’s the difference between Japan’s “intervention” and accusations against China about currency “manipulation”?

In the broadest terms, nothing.

Central banks act to stop a currency’s increase or decrease in value through the laws of supply and demand. Japan’s bid to decrease the value of the yen is muscled by the government selling yen – forcing down the price of the yen, because there’s more yen available. Tokyo hopes that will keep currency speculators from driving the yen even higher.

Sometimes governments work together to help one nation’s currency, such as in 1998 when the U.S. and Japan worked together to buy $4 billion worth of yen to prop up the currency, which was trading at 140 against the dollar as the Asian Financial Crisis raged. There’s little chance in Japan’s current yen dilemma that any foreign governments in Europe or North America will come to the country’s aid.

Meanwhile, the rhetoric from U.S. politicians is on the rise as critics there argue that the yuan is undervalued by more than 30 percent - meaning Beijing is pumping the market with yuan to keep its value low.

So the difference between “intervention” and “manipulation,” in economic terms, is just plain semantics. The politics of the terminology, however, is an entirely different matter.

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