January 14th, 2011
12:05 PM GMT
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Let’s simply say this is not the way in which the leaders of Tunisia and Algeria wanted to start 2011. Both had experienced varying degrees of protests, violence and killings. In Tunisia, it was a lack of opportunity. In Algeria, trouble brewed around not getting access to food at a reasonable price.

It is not a pretty picture, but what is framing the debates in these countries and the need in Tunisia and Algeria for protesters to take to the streets?

The answer, not surprisingly in the Middle East, is both complex and simple at the same time. The countries don’t have a track record of political openness, which at the end of the day eventually comes back to haunt those in power.

“The challenge is, if we don’t have the global governance systems that can come to the party in terms of dealing with that level of interconnectedness, we could see small trigger events of local crises turn into regional or global crises and that is the real fear our report expresses,” says Nick Davis, co-author of the Global Risks 2011 from the World Economic Forum.

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January 14th, 2011
03:24 AM GMT
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London (CNN) – Ok, you are unlikely to be in the market for a house that sells from $5 million to $150 million, but this 'uber-rich' housing market can be as good an economic barometer as any other. If the super rich are buying and selling in places like London or Rome then taxes are raised and real estate agents are hiring.

I spoke this week with Neil Palmer, CEO of “Christie's International Real Estate,” who is cautiously optimistic that sales in 2011 will be much higher than in 2010 and certainly than 2009.

Funny thing is, Palmer says the super luxury rich real estate market was not hit during the crisis because buyers couldn't afford these homes – there was just too much uncertainty for the ultra-rich to decide when to “pick up that second or third home.”

I just love the fact that people who buy houses north of $5 million tend to have more than one. It’s not the big purchase of a lifetime; it’s getting that extra home somewhere you spend a lot of time.

Christie's is currently selling Ringo Starr's ski chalet in Aspen for $4.5 million and the late Aaron Spelling's Hollywood mansion for $150 million. In between, there are homes in many major western cities. In Miami-Dade County alone, Palmer says the luxury home market in 2010 was up 30% in volume compared to the previous year. Sales in January 2011 were higher than January 2010 – a concrete example that the rich are spending again.

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