London (CNN) – So far, the markets have taken the elections in Greece and France in stride. And why not? What has changed?
France helped broker the so-called Fiscal Compact, which is at the heart of closer integration in Europe. Does France now want to pull away from the eurozone and allow Germany to take all the decisions? Of course President-elect Francois Hollande would not want that.
(CNN) – With the election of Francois Hollande as the president of France and a Greek poll dealing a major blow to the coalition government in Athens, voters in Europe are pushing back on austerity.
"I asked for a strong mandate, but people chose differently. I respect their message," Greece’s New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras said late Sunday. "Today's result expresses people's disappointment towards the implemented dead-end economic policy that tested their limits and didn't include the necessary development policy."
Meanwhile, French voters gave victory to the nation’s first a left-wing president since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995. "Austerity can no longer be something that is inevitable," President-elect Hollande said.
Both elections have shaken the markets, which yet again are faced with uncertainty about the fate of the eurozone. Will a new coalition government adhere to the agreements that kept the fragile Greek economy part of the eurozone, or will political forces place Greece’s membership among the euro nations once again in doubt? “This could be the start of another deeply uncertain period in Greece with consequences far beyond its borders,” observed CNN correspondent Matthew Chance in Athens.
London (CNN) – As spring-time rain flooded London's streets and uncomfortable soundbites emerged from the Leveson inquiry, the UK government faced further misery: The UK is back in recession.
The revelation - a psychological blow, even if the figures are later revised up - will increase pressure on David Cameron’s government, already under pressure from the probe into its relationship with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
The “double-dip" recession is a loose phrase, but this slump is close enough to the 2008/2009 contraction to warrant the dreaded term. The last time the UK was in a double-dip recession was in the 1970s.
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – With a Greek debt deal successfully brokered on Tuesday, the world’s economic skies seem a bit less likely to fall. That new $173 billion bailout for Greece on the brink of bankruptcy is now staunching a bit of the hemorrhage of confidence in the continent.
As for the “stuff” that actually flies through those economic skies? The volume of that over our heads, homes and offices is, in fact, falling.
And Hong Kong is one of the best places to take a measure of it all.
This Asian hub of commerce boasts the busiest air cargo airport in the world. And air cargo volumes are an excellent thermometer to gauge the health of global trade.
According to Hong Kong airport data, 3.9 million tons of cargo passed through this Chinese territory in 2011. But for all that volume, the huge number actually revealed a drop of nearly 5% year on year.
Just as Hong Kong is the world’s number one cargo hub, Cathay Pacific Airways is the world’s number one air cargo carrier. In 2011, Hong’s Kong’s flagship airline transported more than 1.6 million tons of cargo around the world. But that represented a drop as well – of nearly 9% year on year.
The reason for this season of slumps is found not in Asia but halfway around the world: in the United States and Europe.
The U.S. is still clawing back from its Great Recession.
Europe, which buys 30% of all of China’s exports, is still focused on its highly-indebted nations. And for the next several months and years, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy– and yes Greece- will still be the word.
It’s a decline in demand from all these places – for cheaper Asian-assembled electronics and your Wal-Mart apparel – that led to a slump in air cargo traffic last year.
And the 2012 skies don’t look much brighter.
The International Air Transport Association, more famously known as IATA, forecasts absolutely no growth for global air cargo traffic this year.
Cathay Pacific’s CEO John Slosar predicts his company’s air cargo business might not take off again until the second half. That’s not great news since the company relies on cargo for 30% of its annual profit.
And some oil analysts foretell of $150 per barrel ifIrantensions boil over into conflict.
All this may be conspiring for a collision course with catastrophe. But reroutes do exist.
To offset losses, airlines have successfully booked more people into their seats. Cathay reported nearly 12% more passengers this past January, year on year.
That’s on top of rising ticket prices as any flier – frequent or not – can attest.
And just this past December, Cathay announced it would delay the purchase of two new Boeing 747-8F freighters until 2013.
The bottom line for the air cargo industry? Despite short-term fixes, its long-term recovery will depend on the pace of improvement in the U.S. and Europe.
Until then, better profits from global air cargo will hang on a wing and a prayer.
London (CNN) – The World Bank is not an organization noted for hyperbole and exaggeration. Certainly the sober-suited Washington bankers don't usually go around the world forecasting calamity, unless it is to drum up more support for the disadvantaged and poor.
And that's why their comments surrounding the Global Economic Prospects for 2012 were so unusual. The bank has just downgraded growth estimates for this year, by the biggest amount in three years.
It forecasts the euro area will be in recession (-0.3 %) and developing nations will see growth at 5.4%, down from earlier forecasts of more than 6 percent.
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.
London (CNN) – Despite the bad prognosis and worrying doomsayers of grim tidings, the new year has got off to a rousing start with London up 2.29%, Frankfurt up 1.5% and even the Parisian market, which has the most to worry about, gaining just under 1%.
There are those who will use this to support the belief that if the first trading day is up, then that bodes well for the year overall. They would be wrong.
Just take last year – on the first trading day of 2011 the FTSE, DAX and Dow all rose. By the end of the year, the FTSE was nursing a loss of 5.5%, the DAX was down a whopping 15%, and only the Dow managed a gain of around 6%.
Going further back won’t help much either. As Mark Hulbert points out, by and large the first market day of the year tells us nothing about how the year will play.
London (CNN) – We are now well into Olli Rehn’s 10 days to save the euro and the tempo is heating up.
Mario Draghi, the new European Central Bank president, has tantalizingly hinted he will do more to help out provided euro-member countries start the process of economic unification. As he put it, the sequence of events matters. In our language: Don’t put the horse before the cart.
For Europe’s leaders the promise that the ECB will ride to the rescue is sweet music, perhaps even for Germany’s Merkel and the Bundesbank who are demanding a move to fiscal union as the only preferred long-term solution.
As world leaders prepare to gather in Cannes this week for the annual G20 summit, a generation of young people are being left out in the cold, forced to fend for themselves in the wake of the economic crisis.
Youth unemployment rates are at a record high: In Spain, it is at a staggering 44%. In Italy it's 28% while France does slightly better at 21%.
Even in Germany - the economic powerhouse of the Eurozone - youth unemployment is at 8%.
But has anyone really taken the time to hear how this generation of young people are doing?
Not really. At least I don't think so. That's why CNN's Diana Magnay and I will be embarking on a road trip around Europe to hear from young people and find out what their frustrations and fears really are.
On Monday, I'll be heading to Berlin to join Diana on the first leg of our epic journey, which will take us through Germany, Italy, France and Spain.
One of the things that makes this road trip so different is that we'll be organizing mini 'town hall meetings' in each city via social media.
We'll be reaching out via iReport, Twitter and Facebook to try and connect with some of you and share your stories on CNN.
At each stop on our journey we hope to have at least a few of you gathered with us to discuss how you feel about your European leaders, the economic crisis and the future - yours, and that of the continent as a whole.
We'll be sharing your views each and every day next week on CNN International on shows like Connect the World, Quest Means Business and World Business Today.
The key though is YOU!
We need you to reach out to us, and to make that trip into town to meet us. We promise there will be some coffee and snacks for you too!
Here's our schedule, if we can manage the mammoth drive.
Tuesday November 1: Munich, Germany
Wednesday November 2: Milan, Italy
Thursday November 3: Marseille, France
Friday November 4: Barcelona, Spain.
If you live in any of these cities and want to come and meet up with us, please send me an e-mail at Phil.Han@cnn.com or reach out to me via Twitter @PhilHanCNN.
Tokyo, Japan (CNN) - Japan's economy, sputtering since the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, has fallen into recession, according to government figures released Thursday.
The country's gross domestic product fell by an annualized rate of 3.7% in the first quarter of the calendar year, according to the government, a much steeper fall than Japanese economists had predicted.
Comparing the first quarter to the previous year, according to Japan's cabinet office, the GDP fell 0.9%. In the fourth quarter of 2010, the GDP fell 0.8% as compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Thursday's GDP figures show a second consecutive quarterly drop, which fits the economic definition of a recession.
Industrial output in March was down 15.3%, the worst monthly drop in the country's history.
Businesses in the region affected by the tsunami were hit hard, with 10,000 of 24,000 businesses affected and 600 expected to close.
The figures, which did not include data from tourism or trade, underscore the fact that the natural disaster of March has become an economic disaster.
About Business 360
CNN International's business anchors and correspondents get to grips with the issues affecting world business, and they want your questions and feedback.