The price of chocolate could increase if the violence and political stalemate in Ivory Coast continues. Prices of cocoa are already at an all time high and confectioners warn that the consumers could soon be paying more for chocolates if there is no resolution.
The West African country is the world’s largest producer and exporter of cocoa. The international community has slapped embargoes on the Ivorian cocoa industry, stopping exports of the crop, in a bid to cut off foreign exchange revenue to former president Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters. Gbagbo refuses to give up power after losing elections last year
The fighting has also paralyzed the country’s biggest port, which exports much of the raw produce for chocolate.
Latest reports indicate that forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the would-be president of the West African nation, have taken the coastal cocoa town of San Pedro. Hundreds of thousands of tons of cocoa beans are reportedly in warehouses, ready to be shipped to international markets.
As the crisis of leadership continues, ordinary Ivorians say they are paying the ultimate price for Gbagbo’s stubbornness. Cocoa farmers are forced to stockpile their crops, waiting for the impasse to end. However, the longer this goes on the longer they don’t get paid.
Beyond the economic hardships, the human impact continues to horrify observers.
“Ivory Coast has reached a boiling point,” says Human Rights Watch (HRW). It says ordinary Ivorians and West African immigrants continue to be massacred by forces loyal to Gbagbo. “We are extremely concerned about the potential for further human rights atrocities, given the killings on both sides,” says Daniel Bekele, who heads up HRW in Africa.
Now, the United Nations has eventually beefed up its response against Gbagbo’s regime, implementing tougher sanctions against him, his wife and three associates. However, the Security Council fell short of referring Gbagbo and his supporters to the International Criminal Court.
With both the economic and humanitarian situation reaching dire consequences for ordinary Ivorians, what is the solution? Will sanctions work to shift Gbagbo out of power? Will West African nations take matters into their own hands and launch their own offensive? After all, the impact of this instability is felt far beyond the borders of the Ivory Coast.
Oh, if only we could predict the future, then we might be millionaires today.
This week News Stream, CNN International’s news and tech show, is focusing on some of China’s hottest tech stocks. The business segment I suggested for them: how much money would you have made if you were smart – or lucky – enough to have invested early on and cashed out today. The answers might make you shake your head and wish you had put up some money. Or they might make you smile a bit broader as you head out for your steak and lobster dinner.
Five years ago, share prices for Baidu, Tencent and Sina were affordable to many more investors, ranging between $5 and $30. Today that range has rocketed to the $100 to $200 level – and out of reach to the casual buyer.
No longer CEO of FreshDirect, we look back at Richard Braddock's experiences when he was "The Boss."
CNN's Pauline Chiou talks with Cathay Pacific's out-going CEO Tony Tyler about running one of the world's top airlines.
Japan Airlines at one point in its proud history boasted the title “World’s Largest International Carrier”. Not so today and likely not ever again. But that may be a very good thing.
With a short four-paragraph press release at about 5pm Tokyo time, Japan’s flagship airline announced it was emerging from bankruptcy and ready to take to the skies again. But it’s quite a different JAL then the one we knew in January 2010, when it filed for Japan’s equivalent of bankruptcy protection. In the last 15 months, its bank accounts have been depleted as it’s paid off billions in debt. A third of its workforce – some 15,000 people – have been laid off. And the last planes of what used to make up the world’s largest Boeing 747 fleet in the world are rolling off the tarmac for good.
Today’s JAL aims to be a smaller – and profitable – airline. That’s in terms of network and in terms of plane size. To save on costs, the company says it will cut nearly 50 routes from its global network. To support profits, JAL says it will boost its partnership with oneworld, the airline alliance that includes American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and British Airways, to keep its passengers connected abroad. As for planes, the jumbo jet will be switched out for Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Maximum seating capacity will shrink from the 500s to the 300s but money will be saved as energy efficiency increases.
And these austerity measures for this aviation giant are working. From March to December 2010, JAL was finally able to report a profit of about $1.9 billion. That’s after three of the previous four years in the red. And today’s press release announced Japan Airlines successfully paid off about $4.8 billion in reorganization debt, while also receiving about $3 billion worth in new capital confidence from 11 financial institutions. So it would seem the flight path forward could turn out less turbulent than the routing of the past year.
That is, were it not for two natural crises and one nuclear catastrophe. Japan’s recent 9.0 magnitude quake, subsequent tsunami and growing radiation fears from Fukushima’s nuclear power plants are sending air passenger numbers down. That’s for both foreign and domestic travel. Not exactly the best of times for a recently bankrupt airline company to try and fill its empty coffers. Still, Japan Airlines’ new model may be better for it in the long run. It may just have to fly a little farther into the future to realize the profits it wants.
The political crisis in Portugal has ratcheted up its chance of a financial bail-out, with investors driving the cost of the country’s borrowing to euro-era highs Friday.
The drama playing out in Lisbon rippled through the 17-member eurozone, coming as it did on the eve of this week’s European Union summit in Brussels.
CNN correspondent Jim Boulden was there, and reports the summit was dominated by discussions of the Libya conflict and Germany’s bail-out fund negotiations.
It was also meant to be the meeting which would cauterize the bloc’s fiscal crisis. Instead, there was talk of a $99 billion bail-out package for Portugal.
The European leaders did reach some answers on the bloc’s fiscal crisis: Outlining details of the new eurozone bail out fund, which will have a lending capacity of €500 billion and be in place when the temporary fund expires in 2013.
It follows the bloc’s scramble to deal with the Greece fiscal crisis and subsequent Ireland bail-out.
But it’s done little to calm investors in Portugal, who Friday pushed the cost of the country’s borrowing – as calculated by the costs of its ten-year benchmark sovereign bond – to near 8%. Rising costs make it increasingly untenable for countries to borrow in the capital markets, pushing them toward bailouts.
The costs have risen steadily since Portugal prime minister Jose Socrates’ dramatic resignation Wednesday, which put the nation's fragile economy squarely in the spotlight. Ratings downgrades from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings this week didn’t help.
Comparatively, Greece and Ireland’s bond yields of similar maturities both cracked 9% before they turned to their eurozone peers for support, according to data from financial services firm Markit.
While the situations in Greece and Ireland were more urgent – Greece was facing significant bond repayments and Ireland’s banking sector was a black hole for cash – those levels of borrowing are painfully expensive for a country trying to balance its books.
While Portugal could arguably fund itself for a limited time at those levels, it would be a problem in the long term. And cheaper money appears to be available.
Eurozone watchers will be seeing the pattern. Denials that a bail-out is on the agenda mean little. Both Greece and Ireland protested loudly before swallowing fiscal medicine.
As Portugal marches toward sovereign bond repayments of around $13 billion by June, it remains to be seen if the country can do it alone, and what it means for the bloc if it can’t.
As international attention focuses on Libya, there is criticism that another African country, which is also sliding into civil war, has been abandoned to its fate.
The intractable violence in the Ivory Coast continues unabated.
West African leaders say that the situation is a "regional humanitarian emergency."
The U.N. peacekeeping mission warns that forces loyal to former President Laurent Gbgabo are using heavy weapons to target civilians.
Alassane Ouattara, the man recognized by African leaders as the winner of last year’s presidential election, blames the U.N. for not doing enough to protect civilians. It is estimated that hundreds of ordinary Ivorians have been killed since November’s disputed election, including defenseless women protestors mowed down by government forces and then aired on YouTube.
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