She may be the Duchess of Cambridge but she's also the queen of Britain's shops.
The girl once called Kate Middleton is undeniably a fashion icon with huge influence – and now she's got cash tills ringing at retailers right across the United Kingdom.
Economists credit the 29-year-old with helping to boost consumer confidence figures, released in the UK Friday, while April retail sales also grew as women across the nation scrambled to get the Kate look. Everything she wears - seemingly everything - is scrutinized, analyzed and promptly sells out within hours. It’s a dream come true for the sales department but a nightmare in terms of I.T.
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – The property boom in Hong Kong is pricing out small investors. Real estate prices have risen nearly 70% in the past two years. With interest rates at a measly .001%, it seems silly to leave your savings sitting in the bank. So where can you park your cash?
Some investors are looking to alternative investments like taxi licenses. It doesn't seem very sexy and 25-year old Kin Yin Shek says that's just fine with him. He bought four licenses in January for HK$3 million each (US $387,000). Since then, the value of the licenses has increased about 10%. It's a matter of limited supply and increased demand. The Hong Kong government has issued 18,138 taxi licenses. Don't count on any more being issued any time soon. The last time that happened was 14 years ago – and only 10 were issued.
Shek says he opted for taxi licenses over buying an apartment because it was "cheaper." In order to buy a taxi license, he made a 20% down payment on a loan. If he had purchased an apartment of the same value, he would have had to put down 30%, pay a large stamp duty and attorney fees. "It's very hard to get a good tenant, you can get a really bad tenant who doesn't pay,” Shek says. “I don't have much headaches with taxis. They run by themselves. There are eight drivers working for me."
There have been many books written about the financial crisis: What caused it, who’s to blame and how it could have – and should have – been prevented.
This new one, “Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon,” lives up to its lengthy title and gets deep into the weeds of who did what, when and how. In short, Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner name names and connect the dots.
Singled out for particular criticism, James Johnson, former CEO of Fannie Mae, who the authors say built the U.S. backer of mortgages into “the largest and most powerful financial institution in the world.” And that’s not a good thing—not in this case. The authors paint a painstaking portrait of the way they allege Johnson, and so many others, used money and political influence to get around the rules, get rich, and create a catastrophe.
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – So the gloves are off.
The four BRIC countries plus South Africa have joined forces to oppose the automatic choice of a European as head of the IMF.
This is significant step.
For the first time there is a unified voice from the emerging world to match the voice of Europe, now rallying behind French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.
From a gaggle of un-coordinated statements from emerging economies over the past two weeks, comes a crystal clear - and powerful - voice.
A message jointly signed by China, India, Brazil, Russia and South Africa. They wrote: "We believe that, if the Fund is to have credibility and legitimacy, its Managing Director should be selected after broad consultation with the membership. It should result in the most competent person being appointed as Managing Director, regardless of his or her nationality. We also believe that adequate representation of emerging market and developing members in the Fund's management is critical to its legitimacy and effectiveness."
But the ball is still in their court. The next step is a candidate the emerging economies can rally behind.
Like the royal wedding that preceded it, the visit of President Barack Obama to Britain has been orchestrated well. Beyond discussions of the essential relationship, the U.S. president went out of his way both in his speech before both chambers of the British parliament and in his news conference with Prime Minister David Cameron to support what he calls the emerging democracies of the Middle East.
At the front of the queue are the two countries that sparked the uprisings, one of the least populated, Tunisia, and the most populated in the region, Egypt. There has been criticism from many camps that the U.S. president has been dragging his feet in supporting the North African states who overthrew Zine El Abedine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak.
‘I have decided to present my candidacy. I did this after an agreement with the President and Prime Minister of France. I have received a number of phone calls from countries supporting my candidacy.’
It took Christine Lagarde seconds to deliver these three sentences.
In doing so, she solved a puzzle that had press and politicians occupied for days: would she run to replace disgraced compatriot Dominique Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the International Monetary Fund?
But Lagarde’s decision to throw her hat into the ring raises more questions than it answers. It has also unleashed a ‘Battle Royale’ between ‘old and new world’ superpowers for control of the institution charged with managing the global economy.
Europe and the United States have traditionally dominated the top positions at the IMF and the World Bank. France has provided 4 of the 10 past MDs at the IMF, since its founding in 1945.
(CNN) – We all know that superheroes save the world, but maybe we need to reassess what they look like. Imagine a superhero wearing a suit - a business suit that is, rather than the caped variety.
At St James's Palace in London this week, Prince Charles gave an interesting and provocative speech as he received an honorary degree from London Business School. He is a champion of sustainable business, and practices what he preaches with his own line of food products. He is not the superhero in this story but he thinks business leaders could be our saviors.
His Royal Highness warns, rather gloomily, that the threat of environmental collapse risks causing an economic crash "which is far more dramatic and far harder to recover from than anything we have experienced over the past few years." He says we need to rethink the very economic model that Brits, and the West, take for granted.
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