May 27th, 2011
04:29 PM GMT
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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.

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May 27th, 2011
07:11 AM GMT
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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."

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May 27th, 2011
03:33 AM GMT
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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.

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CNN International's business anchors and correspondents get to grips with the issues affecting world business, and they want your questions and feedback.

 
 
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