June 4th, 2012
06:58 AM GMT
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Editor’s note: Outlook is CNN's in-depth look at business climates around the world. To August 12, 2012, we’re focusing on Singapore.

Asia’s latest discount airliner takes to the skies Monday, with its inaugural flight from Singapore to Sydney.

Launched by Singapore Airlines, no-frills Scoot has already sold more than 100,000 tickets, according to The Straits Times. In its first year, it will offer flights on four Boeing 777 aircraft, linking Singapore with nearby countries, including Australia and China. Currently, tickets are available to the Australian cities of Sydney and Goldcoast, as well as Bangkok and Tianjin, China.  FULL POST

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June 1st, 2012
07:26 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Salarimen, throw on your Hawaiian shirts: it’s that time of year again in Japan.  “Super Cool Biz,” the Ministry of Environment’s annual energy reduction campaign, officially launches Friday across the country.

To reduce electricity use in corporate workplaces, Super Cool Biz encourages office workers to eschew their usual black suits for lighter clothing, including Hawaiian shirts, polo shirts, T-shirts, jeans, and sandals.

The campaign has been an inadvertent boon to clothing retailers, who have not only increased their stock of these items, but also specially designed garments for the season. FULL POST

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May 24th, 2012
07:30 AM GMT
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(CNN) – On Sunday, Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees passed away from cancer, adding to a series of untimely deaths of fading music icons over the last few months.

The Bee Gees enjoyed their heyday in the late 1960s and 1970s with disco hits such as “Saturday Night Fever,” “Staying Alive,” and “How Deep is Your Love.”  While the group’s popularity declined over the following decades, Robin Gibb’s death will breathe new life into the group’s record sales in the United States, if history is any indication.

Soundscan, which provides data on U.S. record sales, won’t have data on Bee Gees sales until next week.  But Gibb’s passing follows the death last week of another 1970s legend, ‘Queen of Disco’ Donna Summer.
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May 11th, 2012
09:52 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Dust off your old comic books: a collector has sold a near-mint copy of the first issue of the Batman comic book for a whopping $850,000.

The seller reaped a stunning return on investment, after paying $315,000 for the No. 1 issue two years ago, according to the auctioneer.  The comic book was priced a mere 10 cents when it was published in 1940.

The sale to an investor partnership was arranged privately by Dallas-based collectibles auction house, Heritage Auctions.  The identities of the buyer and sellers have not been revealed.

Playing on nostalgia, vintage comic book sales have been on the rise in recent years.  A rare comic book collection reaped Heritage Auctions over $8.9 million in February, breaking the company’s own world record of $6.03 million from May 2011.  According to Heritage, comic auctions grossed no more than $2.2 million when the company began auctioning comics over a decade ago.
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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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December 1st, 2011
06:11 AM GMT
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Greece and Italy are perceived as corruption-tainted and this is hampering efforts to tackle the eurozone crisis, a new report suggests.

According to corruption watchdog Transparency International, the two countries at the center of the debt crisis scored poorly on the group’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index. On a scale of ten, Greece scored 3.4 and Italy 3.9, ranking 80 and 69, respectively, on the list of 183 countries. FULL POST

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November 17th, 2011
09:03 AM GMT
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China has reported a dramatic decrease in rural poverty over the last decade.

The number of rural citizens living below the national rural poverty line fell from 94.2 million people (10.2% of the rural population) in 2000, to 26.88 million (2.8%) last year, according to figures released Wednesday by China’s State Council. FULL POST

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November 10th, 2011
05:20 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Duty-free shopping onboard may no longer be limited to watches and perfume.  Ryanair is considering offering in-flight pornography to its passengers, according to a report on Tuesday in The Sun.

The racy content would be broadcast through a custom Ryanair app for smartphones and tablets.  Michael O’Leary, chief executive of the Dublin-based discount airline, told the Sun, “Hotels around the world have it, so why wouldn’t we?”  He said that pornography would be available only via the relative privacy of mobile devices and would not be shown on seat-back television screens.

This isn’t the first time O’Leary has displayed a “sex sells” ethos for his airline.  In 2008, he made flippant comments to the media about offering “beds and b***jobs” in business class.  The airline has also published an annual “Girls of Ryanair” calendar since the same year, featuring its female flight attendants in bikinis.
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November 3rd, 2011
06:10 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Have you ever been shaken down for a red envelope in China or hit up for a deal "sweetener" in Russia?

Companies from these countries are most likely to engage in bribery, according to a survey released on Wednesday by corruption watchdog Transparency International.

The two countries received the lowest scores on the 2011 Bribe Payers Index, which ranked the top 28 largest economies according to the likelihood of companies headquartered in these countries practicing bribery.  The scores were based on a survey of the perceptions of 3,016 business executives across 30 countries who had business dealings in those top 28 economies.

China and Russia were the only companies that scored below 7 on a scale of 10, with scores of 6.5 and 6.1, respectively. Companies based in the Netherlands and Switzerland tied for first place with scores of 8.8, with Belgium, Germany, and Japan rounding out the top five. FULL POST

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November 2nd, 2011
08:39 AM GMT
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(CNN) –  In an interview with the New York Times last year, leading hedge fund manager Jim Chanos described China’s property market as “Dubai times a thousand."

He was of course referring to the collapse of the Gulf state's overheated real estate market in 2009 after a six-year boom.

In another interview with Bloomberg during the same period, Chanos said China – which has enjoyed its own boom – was on a “treadmill to hell.”

"They can’t afford to get off this heroin of property development," he claimed. "It's the only thing keeping the economic growth numbers growing.”

A year on and the prominent China-watcher says the treadmill has only gotten “bigger and faster…than ever.”
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