February 11th, 2012
03:54 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – Greece is once again at risk of a potentially disastrous default on its bill payments.

The country, which has been embroiled in a debt crisis for almost two years, faces a bill payment of €14.5 billion ($19.1 billion) on March 20. It is in frantic negotiations with both its private sector creditors and international lenders to lighten its debt load and access more funds to pay its bills.

This week marks another crucial point in the battle to bring Greece’s finances under control. As a 48-hour strike called by trade union leaders marks its second day, focus is turning to parliamentary deliberations over the country’s stricken finances.
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February 10th, 2012
08:49 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – The news this week that a young couple in northern England won £45 million ($70 million) on the eurolottery set me thinking. And thinking. In fact anyone who heard of the story has surely spent more than a few moments thinking - what would I do with that money?

To start with, I worked out what I would get if I just left it on deposit in the bank. Offshore, of course. Assuming I tied it up for five years. Since it is a sterling win, I could get around 2% on deposit which would give me an income of £900,000 (£450,000 after tax at 50%) Not shabby, but probably not enough!!

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February 10th, 2012
04:34 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – Give eurozone finance ministers credit.

Markets had been rising. The euro was at a two month high. The banks had apparently agreed to take a steep loss on the Greek bonds they hold, or bought in the secondary market for cents on the euro.

Then, they snapped defeat from the jaws of victory. Why?

Greek politicians have now been told they need to put austerity pledges in writing and then into law, all by next Wednesday; the new deadline.
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February 10th, 2012
05:32 AM GMT
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Hong  Kong  (CNN) – When Internet giant Yahoo bought a 40% piece of Chinese business-to-business online company Alibaba in 2005, the $1 billion deal was hailed as a unique coup for the U.S. web site – and a quick way to get a stronger toehold among China’s then-100 million online users.

What a difference seven years makes.

In recent months Yahoo has seen its CEO Carol Bartz and founder Jerry Yang shown the door, followed this week of four board members – including the chairman – departing, as shareholders lose patience with the firm’s performance.
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Filed under: AsiaChinaHong KongTechnologyUnited States


February 9th, 2012
06:37 PM GMT
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London (CNN) - You may never look at your aunt’s old armchair quite the same way and, once you’ve read this, grandpa’s grandfather clock may seem worth keeping after all.

Why? Because some of the world’s most coveted customers are literally crazy about your historical heirlooms.

A burgeoning middle class in China is flocking to London to stock up on English antiques that are fetching a veritable fortune back home.
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February 9th, 2012
11:38 AM GMT
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Varanasi, India (CNN) – The sari is a symbol of Indian style known around the world, but the makers of India’s most coveted saris are losing out to Chinese competition.

Banarasi saris are considered perhaps the finest of all saris. Originating from India's holiest city, Varanasi, they are traditionally worn by brides on their wedding day.

For centuries the silk saris have been made by hand in villages. The government has even given them a geographical identifier to indicate authenticity. But these enclaves of creativity are threatened by cheaper goods made in China.

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February 9th, 2012
04:48 AM GMT
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(CNN) – What does the U.S. Fed know that we don’t?

That is the question investors have been asking themselves ever since the central bank unveiled its intention to extend its plan to keep interest rates ultra low through late 2014.  Why would they need to do that when the recovery seems to be picking up steam, as witnessed in the latest jobs report?

That is exactly what I put to Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker when I sat down with him in Washington D.C.

“It is not an unconditional pledge. I think that it is clear because everyone recognizes, on the committee and more broadly, if things pick up we can change paths and raise rates before that. Does this mean policy is easier than it otherwise would have been? I am not so sure,” said Lacker.
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February 7th, 2012
03:52 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – In December 1991, I was a 27-year old journalist covering the creation of a European treaty in Maastricht. Negotiations took some weeks, but exactly twenty years ago on Tuesday the city, sandwiched between Belgium and Germany, witnessed the signing of "The Treaty on European Union." The European Union had been created.

I recall forgetting my pass (yes, that one pictured above) and having to get a taxi back to our hotel in Germany to get it. And I remember the story being a bit confusing. I had moved from the U.S. to Europe only a year earlier and was trying to figure how things differed across the Atlantic.

I wondered if the so-called Maastricht Treaty really was creating a "United States of Europe" as some called it? And why did Britain say it had an "opt in" to the treaty, when everyone else called it an "opt-out"? Would the French, Italians and Dutch really be happy to scrap their centuries-old currencies for a new one, yet unnamed?
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February 7th, 2012
10:50 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places on the planet.

In a place like this, one of the greatest challenges is getting people from A to B.

The city's main subway carries 4 million passengers a day. This key piece of infrastructure is being expanded.

CNN's Richard Quest goes beneath the city streets to find out how it will be done.



February 6th, 2012
03:47 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – A few years back, influential New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof shocked readers by opening a column this way: “Africa desperately needs Western help in the form of schools, clinics and sweatshops.”

For Kristof, who regularly advocates better conditions for people in the developing world, this advice seems to belie his progressive views. But he’s part of a chorus of liberal economic thinkers who advocate that sweatshops –  a broad term for factories or workshops characterized low wages, long hours, sometimes underage workers and unsafe conditions – are an unsavory but necessary first step to help bootstrap the world’s poorer economies.

Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman penned a 1997 piece for Slate entitled “In Praise of Cheap Labor” that argued “bad jobs at bad wages are better than no jobs at all.”
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