March 19th, 2012
04:18 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – Investors holding insurance to protect against Greece defaulting on its debts will collect just over $2.5 billion after an auction of the country’s bonds found their value to be 21.5 cents in the euro.

The payout gives relief to those who have long bet the country will be unable to pay its bills. Greece has avoided that outcome for months as it continued to be buffered by loans from the eurozone’s bailout fund and the International Monetary Fund.

A default, triggering payment of the insurance - or credit default swaps - was finally called after the country forced its creditors to take massive cuts in the value of their investments as part of a debt swap.

That so-called “credit event” was therefore tripped by a restructuring of the country’s debt, rather than straight non-payment.

The price was reached after an auction in which the country’s bonds - including new ones held by investors who participated in the debt restructuring - were traded by banks to find a price.

Those holding the credit default swaps will now be paid out 78.5 cents on the euro to close out the contracts.

Market participants said the auction went largely as expected, despite quirks created by the country’s debt restructuring.

One observer said the auction was essentially a “washing up” of the restructuring. One takeaway, he added, was that the “political furore” around credit default swaps - once held up by politicians as a highly destabilizing influence in the financial markets - had died down.



March 16th, 2012
06:51 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – When asked by CNN for comment about the new Nike shoe nick-named the ‘Black and Tan’ one man in Newry, Northern Ireland asked, “How about if an Irish company came out with a shoe and called it 'The Taliban' how would the Americans feel?”

That might be a bit harsh. The Taliban are known the world over.

Yet, Nike has fallen into the trap many American companies face. What sounds normal to your American customers can offend elsewhere.
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March 16th, 2012
06:25 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – The bail-out is a done deal, the International Monetary Fund has agreed its share and the Europeans have started to hand over the money. One of the ratings agencies has even upgraded the new Greek bonds.

So it is incredibly dispiriting to be reading more and more notes from economists and analysts suggesting that this is not over yet.

Paul Donovan, in his note from UBS, noted that the markets were not that impressed by the state of play. The markets, he said, were pricing in “the debate about when the next restructuring will take place.”
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March 16th, 2012
07:16 AM GMT
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(CNN) – This is an ode to Greg Smith.

A middling executive at Wall Street’s most powerful firm turned the global business press on its ear by leaving Goldman Sachs with a flourish, publishing an op-ed in the New York Times, calling the culture of the bank “toxic.”

After the piece hit, Goldman Sachs went into damage control and lost $2 billion in market share. But the power of Smith’s departure isn’t that someone from the inner echelon of a secretive institution accuses the firm of (shock!) greed.

The real genius of the Goldman Sachs kiss-off is that Smith mined a deep vein hidden in the psyche of every employed person: The “take this job and shove it” fantasy.
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March 16th, 2012
05:29 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Earlier this week, voters in Switzerland went to the polls and said "no" to an additional two weeks vacation a year.

In a national referendum, 66.5% opposed the chance to put Switzerland in line with its neighbor Germany, where employees enjoy six-week paid vacation every year.

The Swiss apparently considered previous warnings of the government and business representatives who claimed that an additional fortnight of paid holidays increase labor costs and put their economy at risk.
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March 15th, 2012
05:13 PM GMT
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Singapore (CNN) – An export-dependent nation with a strong service sector, Singapore was one of the first nations in Asia to suffer from the global financial crisis. But it aims to recover by becoming a strategic economic hub.

Singapore may be a small country, but thanks to its strategic location it’s one of the world's busiest ports. It is also well positioned to capitalize on growing trade links between other parts of Asia and the Middle East.

Already well known as a global logistics and trans-shipment hub, Singapore says trade with the Middle East has climbed by 36% since 2006. One example is plastics. Borouge – a joint venture between Abu Dhabi's national oil company and Austrian company Borealis – manufactures plastic pellets in Abu Dhabi and sends them to Asia through Singapore.

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March 14th, 2012
05:51 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – We’ve all seen it before: A disgruntled employee quits his or her job and takes that fateful decision of putting pen to paper in fiery fashion.

The result varies from a whiny monologue to a master class in corporate psychology, depending on how familiar you are with their firm.

Unfortunately for Goldman Sachs, the company was already a household name by the time former executive Greg Smith chose to voice his reservations about it so publicly in The New York Times today.

The paper presumably wouldn’t have opted to publish the OpEd had Goldman not been such a high profile - and yet super secretive - institution.

For all the press attention Goldman has gathered over the years, those on the outside still know relatively little about what goes on inside its gilded cage.
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March 14th, 2012
05:00 PM GMT
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Editor's note: Goldman Sachs banker Greg Smith quit his job Wednesday, calling the investment bank "toxic" in an opinion piece in The New York Times. The firm responded with this memo.

March 14, 2012

Our Response to Today’s New York Times Op-Ed

By now, many of you have read the submission in today’s New York Times by a former employee of the firm. Needless to say, we were disappointed to read the assertions made by this individual that do not reflect our values, our culture and how the vast majority of people at Goldman Sachs think about the firm and the work it does on behalf of our clients.

In a company of our size, it is not shocking that some people could feel disgruntled. But that does not and should not represent our firm of more than 30,000 people. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. But, it is unfortunate that an individual opinion about Goldman Sachs is amplified in a newspaper and speaks louder than the regular, detailed and intensive feedback you have provided the firm and independent, public surveys of workplace environments.

While I expect you find the words you read today foreign from your own day-to-day experiences, we wanted to remind you what we, as a firm – individually and collectively – think about Goldman Sachs and our client-driven culture.

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March 14th, 2012
02:42 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – What a difference a year makes for one of Asia’s flagship airlines.

For its 2010 fiscal year, Cathay Pacific reported a record $1.8 billion in net earnings. Wednesday, it revealed a huge reversal for 2011. Its net profit slid 61% year-on-year to just about $700 million.

That multi-million dollar sum may sound good to those of us on the outside looking in, but it’s clearly a major disappointment for Hong Kong’s famous air carrier.

The reason for its big plunge in profits is two-fold.
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March 14th, 2012
01:11 PM GMT
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Editor’s note: The Millennials are a generation that are constantly plugged in and moving fast to make their mark on the world. CNN’s Quest Means Business is tracking four of them. Here, Millennial and guest blogger David Lloyd - managing director of Intern Latin America, which brings international students to the region - writes on the unstoppable rise of Latin America.

Santiago, Chile (CNN) – “This 21st century will be our century, the century of Latin America,” wrote Sebastián Piñera, the president of Chile, in a recent article for The Economist. Piñera is right and the bet on “LatAm” as financiers like to refer to it, is a bet that is almost certain to come off.
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