February 15th, 2012
05:46 AM GMT
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Zurich has overtaken Tokyo to rank as the world’s most expensive city for the first time in 20 years, according to the  Economist Intelligence Unit's latest Worldwide Cost of Living Survey.  The Swiss city was joined in the top five by Geneva, which rose to third place to tie with Osaka.

Whilst Switzerland has long been home to some of the priciest places to live, its upswing in the rankings can be attributed to the heavy investment in the Swiss franc, which is seen as a relatively safe currency outside of the embattled Eurozone, according to the report. Local price inflation in Switzerland has been low, but the report explained that "local inflation in mature markets always has far less influence on the relative cost of living than the currency movements of the countries in question."

Cities in the Asia-Pacific make up half of the top ten—in addition to Tokyo and Osaka, Sydney and Melbourne placed seventh and eighth, respectively, followed by Singapore. Seoul climbed 13 places over the last year to 27th place, and Chinese cities are also increasingly expensive, with Shanghai surpassing New York by two places to rank 42nd.
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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 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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January 23rd, 2012
02:50 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – No research report in Hong Kong draws as many eyes and as much water cooler chatter as CLSA's Feng Shui Index, a pun-filled financial prophecy based on Chinese astrology.

Prepared by Philip Chow, CLSA's full-time transport analyst and part-time Feng Shui master, the report says to keep watch for a watershed moment in this Year of the Dragon. FULL POST

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January 19th, 2012
11:08 AM GMT
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Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (CNN) – China is thirsty for oil to fuel its economic boom – and it’s increasingly looking to Saudi Arabia to help quench that thirst.

Saudi Arabia produces nearly 10 million barrels of oil a day – about the same as China consumes. That’s why the Kingdom is at the heart of China's energy strategy to secure more resources from the Gulf region.

Chinese energy giant Sinopec recently signed a joint venture with Saudi’s Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, that will lock-in an additional 400,000 barrels of oil per day by 2014.

It’s a sign of China’s eagerness to boost economic and political ties to Saudi Arabia.

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January 18th, 2012
01:00 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) - Hong Kong is one of the world's richest cities. Almost one in 10 households boasts a millionaire. The government sits on a cash pile of about $80 billion. Yet Hong Kongers are choking, sometimes to death, on their own success.

A bold claim, but the statistics are compelling. The Hong Kong University School of Public Health has just unveiled a new real-time cost of pollution index. According to new research from the university and local think tank Civic Exchange, there are 3,200 avoidable deaths a year in Hong Kong due to air pollution - more than three times higher than previous estimates.

As I write this (at 7:15 p.m. HKT Tuesday) the index reports there has been seven preventable deaths and more than 14,000 preventable doctor's visits in Hong Kong in the 19 hours beginning midnight on Monday. Preventable, because the bad air quality that researchers say was responsible, can be easily improved.

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January 16th, 2012
03:10 AM GMT
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(CNN) – India is Asia’s third largest economy, the world’s tenth largest by nominal GDP and is dubbed as the world’s largest democracy. So why does India still skulk in the shadows of the world’s other rising superpower China? One reason could be that India is hamstrung by its bureaucracy.

As the Economic Times stated, India needs to reform its bureaucracy and curb widespread corruption so it can fix its global image and achieve economic growth.

A recent report from the Hong Kong based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd ranked India the lowest on a bureaucracy rating in Asia. The report shows that the country runs an inefficient bureaucracy because of corruption and inadequate infrastructure. Business executives complain about how top officials are willing to accept under-the-table payments and how in turn, companies are tempted to make such payments in order to overcome bureaucratic inertia and gain government favors, the report says.
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January 12th, 2012
03:01 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – The bigger they are, the harder they fall. That's the tenet behind the Skyscraper Index which tracks a link between construction booms of tall buildings and economic busts over the past 140 years.

Some say the facts are bizarrely coincidental. Others say the numbers don’t lie. But if true, the latest Skyscraper Index report from Barclays Capital suggests both China and India are due for economic doom because of their current skyscraper boom.

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January 12th, 2012
03:37 AM GMT
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(CNN) – The global research department of HSBC has released a report predicting the rise and fall of the world’s economies in the next 40 years.

The world’s top economy in 2050 will be China, followed by the United States. No surprises there – since China’s reforms in the 1980s, economists have said it’s not a question of if, but when, China’s collective economic might will top the U.S.

But among the smaller, developing nations, there are several surprises by HSBC prognosticators:
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January 11th, 2012
05:07 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Nike, Starbucks and Ikea – the doors of India are now fully open to you.

Previously, under foreign direct investment (FDI) rules that limited single brand foreign ownership to 51%, foreign brands were required to partner with local investors.

Under the new rule passed by the government Tuesday, single-brand retailers like Marks & Spencer or Gucci  can own 100% of their operations in India, according to a circular released by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion.

The move was the latest in the political battle over whether to crack open Asia’s third largest economy to greater foreign investment.
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