November 30th, 2011
04:47 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – The U.S. Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and other central banks Wednesday took co-ordinated action to oil the wheels of the world's financial system.

The move came as Olli Rehn, Europe's Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, warned the eurozone was entering a critical phrase to solve its debt crisis, which has deepened since Greece took its first bailout in May 2010. Rehn said the region has "10 days to complete and conclude the crisis response of the European Union."

Richard Quest, CNN's international business correspondent, says the banks' move will make it easier for financial institutions to get on with the daily business of lending between each other. However, it does not address the fundamental problems of the eurozone.

CNN chief business correspondent Ali Velshi says it was done amid signs of a possible global credit freeze, the likes of which have not been seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

The central banks' move boosted confidence, with markets rallying significantly. But its lasting impact on Europe and the world's financial system is not yet clear. Quest will be counting down Rehn's 10 days on Quest Means Business. Join him Monday to Friday, 1900 London time. You can also find him on Twitter.

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November 29th, 2011
05:36 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – I’m reading that the public sector walk out to hit the UK on Wednesday will be the biggest strikes in Britain since 1989 - since the Margaret Thatcher era. One union says it will be a historic day.

In the 21 years I lived in London, I’ve seen transportation crippled, schools emptied, streets blocked by strikers and demonstrators. But the unions are telling us we ain’t seen nothing yet.

I’m not convinced. Yes, something like two million people will be on strike and tens of thousands are expected to march. But it will be peaceful. I don’t expect my daughter’s Year 4 teacher to run through the streets. I don’t expect immigration officials or workers at the National Archives to clash with police.

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November 29th, 2011
02:57 PM GMT
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New Delhi, India (CNN) - India's federal government is facing ongoing disruption as the battle continues over its decision to allow foreign supermarkets into the nation's $450 billion retail market.

The uproar by lawmakers forced an abrupt adjournment of India's parliament for another day Tuesday. The impasse has also been stalling key legislative business, including the passage of an anti-corruption bill. An all-party meeting to end the deadlock has also failed.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, meanwhile, is defending last week’s decision to allow international supermarket chains into the country’s retail sector, saying it was “well considered.”
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November 29th, 2011
06:49 AM GMT
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(CNN) – The city of Freud, Klimt and the famed Spanish riding school is top of the pops when it comes to the world’s best cities to live in, according to a new survey.

For the third successive year, Vienna was ranked number one as European cities claimed more than half of the top 25 positions in Mercer's 2011 Quality of Living index, which awards points for a range of criteria, including political and economic stability, culture, health and sanitation, quality of schools, public services and housing. FULL POST

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November 29th, 2011
05:12 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – From an economist’s point of view, the rallying cry to cure Japan’s ills the past two decades has often been, “Spend, Japan, spend!”

From a demographer’s point of view, the cry is more: “Procreate, Japan, procreate!”

A survey last week underscores the growing problems of the latter point.

The number of single men has reached a record high in the aging nation of 130 million, according to a survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

The number of single men aged 18 to 34 rose 9.2% from the previous survey in 2005. About 61% of unmarried adult men don’t have a girlfriend, while half the adult women surveyed don’t have a husband or a boyfriend. Worse still, 45% of the men and women who don’t have a girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse are not interested in finding one, either.

One in four unmarried men and women in their late 30s have never had sex, the survey found.
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November 28th, 2011
01:13 AM GMT
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(CNN) – With the eurozone debt crisis in full swing and a Super Committee on Capitol Hill that admitted at least temporary defeat, one could be caught flat-footed and miss a milestone anniversary.

A decade ago, November 30 to be precise, the long serving international economist Jim O’Neill in a paper outlined his research on the power of the “Big Four” of the emerging world, Brazil, Russia, India and China.  In his piece, “Building Better Global Economic BRICs,” O’Neill marked a turning point in economic thinking that future growth will be driven by these large emerging markets.

O’Neill boldly stated back then that the BRIC economies will surpass the G7 economies of the industrialized world by 2027 and most of his peers have lined up behind that strategy in agreement.  In 2008, most strategists believe the western led financial crisis marked the quick transformation from the G7 to the G20 context, no less than an official recognition of O’Neill’s work.

The BRIC countries sit on $4.5 trillion of foreign reserves; add in the Middle East sovereign funds and their reserves and those tally up to nearly $6 trillion.  That could explain the quick embrace by leaders during the heat of the crisis.
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November 25th, 2011
05:28 AM GMT
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(CNN) – These days, anyone who’s anyone in the entertainment industry has their own clothing line, energy drink, or at the very least, perfume. Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming is kicking it up a notch, releasing a wine bearing his name.

The 2009 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon is produced by Yao’s own Yao Family Wines and will be auctioned off at a charity event held by the Special Olympics.

“Basketball gave me the opportunity to live in the United States and discover many wonderful things in America. Now I look forward to bringing great wines from California back to the Chinese people,” Yao said in a statement.

There are only 1,200 bottles of the wine in existence and at 3,800 yuan  ($597) each, none will be sold on the open market, China Daily reported. On Sunday, the wine will be auctioned at a starting price of 60,000 yuan ($9,429).
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November 23rd, 2011
05:59 PM GMT
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(CNN) – Turn on CNN, open the ‘papers, check your emails. If you hadn’t noticed yet, the European economy is pretty close to crumbling around us. Or is it?

Meet the shining stars of the European business world and the big picture is more boom than doom. At least that was the message we got at the European Business Awards in Barcelona.

The Marketplace Europe team headed to Barcelona for the Awards ceremony this week. The event is designed to showcase innovation, drive and resourcefulness from companies of all sizes, nationalities and sectors around Europe.

So far, so predictable. But what made it more than just another date in the November “events season” diary was that we weren’t baffled by power-point presentations or bored with a load of corporate-speak. We were buoyed by the upbeat mood.

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November 23rd, 2011
04:28 PM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – China's mighty industrial machine is stalling. New figures today show something that will be worrying authorities.

First the broad numbers: An index put together by HSBC – with no government input - shows a reading in November of 48. Anything over 50 shows that factories are increasing production, under 50 they are cutting back.

The figure is perhaps not surprising given that China's two big export regions, Europe and the U.S., are in deep trouble. But it's not exports that are drying up, it is local demand. And that could be a problem.

Export orders actually grew in November, while domestic demand shrank as a result of all the moves taken by the Chinese authorities over the last 18 months to cool the overheating property market.

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November 23rd, 2011
07:00 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – China has surpassed the U.S. last quarter to become the world’s largest market for smartphones, according to a report by Strategy Analytics.

In the third quarter of this year, smartphone shipments were just shy of 24 million units, up 58%, according to the report released Wednesday. In the same quarter, smartphone units shipped in the U.S. fell 7% to 23.3 million units.

Nokia leads the smartphone market with a 28% share in China, followed by Samsung with a 17.6% share. HTC is the top maker in the U.S. with 24% market share, followed by Apple with just over 20%, according to the report. The U.S. still leads the world in smartphone sales by revenue, the authors of the report note.
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