(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:
Hong Kong (CNN) – Billionaire Warren Buffett is giving China the old song and dance routine. Literally.
He’s recorded a video for this year’s Spring Festival gala which will be aired online for the Chinese New Year, according to a report from state news agency Xinhua.
Wang Pingjiu, a production executive from China Network Television says Buffett sings and plays the guitar in the video, but did not disclose what song is involved.
“We all know that Buffett is good at investment, but few knew he also did well in singing," Wang was quoted as saying.
Hong Kong (CNN) - Fears that China could soon be facing its own Lehman-style banking meltdown are being fueled by a National Audit Office report which found 531 billion yuan (US$84 billion) worth of irregularities in local government debt.
According to the Chinese government website (www.gov.cn), the audit found 10.7 trillion yuan of local government debt at the end of 2010, a result of easy loans made possible by the government’s 2008-2009 stimulus injection.
Most of the money, say analysts, has found its way into the construction industry, creating entire cities, complete with apartments and offices that remain empty and unsold.
Many companies also have unpaid inventories, according to the government audit, and have little or no oversight of accounts.
(CNN) – If the Chinese economy is slowing down, why is the country buying so much copper?
China has posted a weaker economic growth of 9.1% in the third quarter, in line with the "soft landing" of the white-hot economy Beijing touts.
Also, China missed its expected oil consumption targets according to a report by Platts, an energy consultancy.
According to the report, the estimated oil demand for the third quarter of the year has been this year's lowest, at 8.99 million barrels a day. A decrease compared with 9.33 million during the first three months of this year.
Abu Dhabi (CNN) - There is a milestone about to be set which is going largely unnoticed around the world. Oil will average more than $100 a barrel for an entire year for the first time.
Here in the Persian Gulf states, they call it three digit oil. Simply put, that is a number above $100.
Due to advancements in healthcare and people generally living longer, they say 60 years old is the new 40, meaning we are more youthful in age in the 21st century.
Does this apply to the oil market where $100 a barrel is the new $80 - not too hot, not too cold but just right for oil producing countries and consuming nations alike?
Hong Kong (CNN) - I roll my eyes when people here in Hong Kong complain this city’s air quality is bad. My reply? Try living in Beijing.
This past week we saw some of the worst smog to smother China’s capital this year. More than 360 flights were cancelled in and out of Beijing on Tuesday alone. Thousands of passengers around the country were stranded. And both infants and the elderly across the region were rushed to hospitals for breathing problems – their mouths and noses covered by oxygen masks.
It seems things haven’t changed. From 2000 to 2006 I lived in China; four of those years were in Beijing. And I remember very similar scenes. Looking back on my time then – and reporting on China’s air pollution problems today – it’s as if history continues to repeat itself.
Hong Kong (CNN) – There are a lot of critical meetings scheduled this week in Europe, and Asia is watching.
There's no more talk now of financial decoupling from developed economies. The global economy is tightly interwoven and as Yonghao Pu, chief investment strategist of UBS Asia Pacific, frankly says, "At the moment, we (Asia) are kind of a hostage to what's going on in Europe."
We're seeing the weakness in the global economy force China's hand.
Beijing recently relaxed capital reserve requirements of its major banks after already loosening requirements for some rural banks. This was to make it easier for the banks to make loans and to partially offset the ripple effects of the global economy. China's latest PMI data have shown manufacturing contracting because of reduced demand. Europe is China's biggest export market. If Europe goes into a recession, Asian exports will certainly suffer a huge dip.
(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.
(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).
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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