October 25th, 2011
03:32 AM GMT
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(CNN) – While it lacked the winding queues and applause normally associated with an Apple launch, the release of Steve Jobs' authorized biography still made a splash.

It hit stores earlier than planned, as publishers Simon & Schuster moved to meet the wave of public interest in Jobs following his death. Before it was even unveiled, the book was a blockbuster. FULL POST

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October 18th, 2011
07:57 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – Colombia’s free trade agreement with the U.S. creates opportunities for Chinese businesses getting squeezed out of the North American market by the ongoing trade disputes between the world’s two largest economies.

For China, this is the opportunity to get goods relabeled as Colombian and enter the U.S. with zero tariffs. And as businessmen think about the new possibilities, many are rushing to rewrite business plans.

“The Chinese have their eyes on Colombia because it is the bridge they need to reach the U.S.,” José Antonio Mutis, Colombian Consul General in Hong Kong, told CNN.

There are still few details on how a final product can be considered South American. For now, officials only have a rough idea.

“With around 35 to 40% of the value of a product added in Colombia, it may be considered Colombian and enter the U.S. tax free,” an official at the trade office of the Colombian Embassy in China told CNN.
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October 5th, 2011
05:04 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – China says it could be on the march to a trade war with the United States. That’s after the U.S. Senate on Monday passed a key test vote that targets countries believed to keep their currencies artificially weak.

If the bill passes in the Senate – perhaps as early as this week – it would be the next step at shooting new tariffs onto exports from those countries. Looking between those Congressional crosshairs, this week’s legislation is clearly aimed at China.

The consistent clash takes place over the yuan, China’s currency, which China keeps loosely tied to the U.S. dollar and makes the country’s exports to the U.S. cheaper than those “Made in the USA.”
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September 27th, 2011
07:06 AM GMT
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(CNN) – For decades, the economic wisdom has been that lower trade barriers create better wealth for both parties.

Outsourcing low-skilled, low-wage jobs to an India or Mexico helps those developing economies, while that loss of industry in a developed economy like the United States is more than offset by lower product costs and an employee talent pool that finds work higher up the economic food chain. Everybody wins.

A new study, however, suggests that when it comes to China, the economic benefit to the U.S. may be less than previously thought.
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September 8th, 2011
06:45 AM GMT
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(CNN) – The summer bloodletting from multinational banks isn’t over.

HSBC, a huge employer in Hong Kong and an anchor in a city known as Asia’s financial hub, announced that 3,000 people – roughly 10% of its workforce – will be out of a job by 2013.

The cuts are part of HSBC’s plans to eliminate 30,000 positions worldwide.

HSBC employees won’t be alone hitting the bricks with resumes in hand. This week, the Charlotte Observer – the hometown paper for Bank of America – wrote the largest bank in the U.S. plans to shed between 25,000 and 30,000 jobs.

Last week, Dutch bank ABN Amro said it will cut 2,350 jobs. In Stockholm, Nordea, the largest bank in the Nordic region, plans to cut 2,000 workers.  The week before Swiss bank UBS announced 3,500 job cuts.

Other layoffs reported in recent months:
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August 18th, 2011
09:06 PM GMT
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In "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," Oliver Stone's fictitious financier Gordon Gekko famously pronounced "idealism kills every deal."

The pearls of Hollywood wisdom have rarely seemed more pertinent to the current market rout, after the leaders of France and Germany spectacularly failed to shore up confidence in the eurozone this week.

Then came the nail in the coffin: Morgan Stanley warned that the world's dithering politicians had pushed the U.S. and Europe "dangerously close" to a recession.

Two questions emerge: Are the world’s biggest economies heading towards a double dip? And if so, which will succumb first?
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August 8th, 2011
02:04 PM GMT
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In China, the state-run media is full of scathing editorials about America's mounting debt. 

Commentary published by the Xinhua news agency over the weekend stated the U.S. should live within its means. The agency said the alarm has rung and Washington politicians need to stop playing chicken. 

An article in the Communist Party newspaper Global Times reads "The World Should Kick America's Behind". 

The downgrade of U.S. credit by ratings agency Standard and Poor’s from AAA to AA+ is feeding fears in some circles that China could damage the American economy, by selling its massive debt holdings. 

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August 3rd, 2011
06:14 AM GMT
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They bicker. They point fingers. They reluctantly agree to do something they really don’t want to do.

This is not a primary school classroom. This is the United States Congress.

A recent CNN poll shows that more than 75% of Americans feel their lawmakers have acted like “spoiled children.”
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June 22nd, 2011
05:21 AM GMT
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New York (CNN) – In just over a week Ben Bernanke and his colleagues at the Federal Reserve will turn off the life support system that has kept the U.S. economy alive for the last two years. How will the markets respond? It’s anyone’s guess.

Optimists, like former White House Advisor Laura Tyson, say the economy - though still fragile - has healed enough to breathe on its own. The Fed has been clear about its intentions to end its program of buying treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, the market had time to prepare and the withdrawal of quantitative easing should end without much drama.

But executives at Pimco, the world’s largest bond fund, disagree. CEO Mohammad El-Erian is sticking by the firm’s bearish and controversial call that the end of quantitative easing will spark a sell-off in U.S. treasury bonds. I talked with both Tyson and El-Erian ahead of the Federal Reserve’s June meeting and he gave the following assessment.

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June 3rd, 2011
01:46 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – Is the Chinese government behind Google’s most recent hack attack? Or is an unaffiliated rogue group of China tech geeks going after the personal e-mails of prominent Americans? This is next to impossible to know.

That’s why U.S. President Barack Obama is holding off – at least for now – on any official finger-pointing at the country. This is despite White House staffers themselves having been targeted, among hundreds of others including activists, journalists and government figures. That includes one Cabinet-level official, according to the Washington Post. In the meantime, an alphabet soup of U.S. security bodies are investigating – from the FBI to the DHS and the NSC.

As any China watcher would expect though, Beijing is bristling at the thought it’s being singled out for blame. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lei Hong pointed out cyber attacks happen everywhere.

"Hacking is an international problem. China is also a victim of hacking. Claims that the Chinese government supports hacking activities are totally groundless and are driven by an ulterior motive."

Now Beijing did not specify more on these motives but it’s fair to say they center on raising suspicion and fear of China as it grows in political and economic power.

Then there’s the revelation of China’s Blue Army.

Last week China’s Defense Ministry confirmed its existence. It’s a highly-trained, elite cyber wing of the People’s Liberation Army. It’s got just about 30 online soldiers. And its stated purpose is two-fold. The first – to defend the country from cyber attacks. The second – to fire off its own online barrages in case of war.

And it’s the Blue Army’s latter purpose that’s got foreign governments and China critics nervous. (One interesting side note – whether unfortunately accidental or distinctly on purpose – is that the phrase “Blue Army” is usually applied to the enemy in People’s Liberation Army exercises. The PLA itself used to be called the Red Army.)

Should governments fear the Blue Army?

In the interest of their own national security the answer may be yes. But, to be fair, other countries do have their own versions. The United States, Israel, Britain and Australia have confirmed theirs. But few other countries have them – or at least have not admitted to them.

Looking ahead, the next development for Google’s claims of a China hacking will be verification. This will be a test for U.S. cyber sleuths to confirm attacks came from China. But well-trained hackers can disguise their origin of attack, making it seem they’re in one city when they’re actually in another country.

And what then?

If it’s proven that the Chinese government is behind the attacks, what would or could the U.S. do? The U.S. and China are intertwined as the world’s number one and two economic powers. Idealists will hope that Beijing isn’t behind those hack attacks on Washington. Realists will say both are likely doing the same to each other.



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