October 10th, 2012
07:35 AM GMT
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Tokyo (CNN) – As if the world economy didn't have enough bad news, with the ongoing eurozone debt crisis, the slowdown in China and the U.S. teetering on the edge of the "fiscal cliff."

Now the territorial dispute on ownership of East China Sea islands between Beijing and Tokyo is echoing on the global stage, as China's top banker pulled out of the IMF meeting here in a move widely seen as a protest for the Japanese government's purchase of the islands – known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.

Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of the People's Bank of China, was scheduled to deliver the Per Jacobsson lecture, a prestigious speaking spot reserved for financial luminaries such as Alan Greenspan and PIMCO CEO Mohamed A. El-Erian. His deputy, Yi Gang, will give the address instead, but coming after representatives from China’s four largest banks decline en masse to attend the IMF meetings because they are being hosted by Japan.
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September 27th, 2012
11:04 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – After hitting three-and-a-half year lows earlier this week, China stocks bounced 2.6% on Thursday.

What gives? Market rumors, and China prepping for a week-long holiday.
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May 1st, 2012
04:20 PM GMT
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Delta Airlines' decision to buy an oil refinery has caught the imagination. It seems to make a lot of sense and if the numbers actually come true it will look like a stroke of genius.

Delta says that it could get savings of $300 million a year by cutting out the middle man and refining its own jet fuel, all for the cost of one medium-size new airliner. It sounds like a no-brainer so I put the question to a CEO of an Asia airline: did he think that individually or as a group that Asian airlines would get together to look at a similar arrangement.

It does make some sense. According to Cathay Pacific Airways, fuel costs accounted for 41.5% of total operating costs last year. That's a lot higher than the 30% average for global airlines. The reason why Cathay and other Asian arilines have proportionally higher fuel bills is that they are mainly long-haul operators, and the fuel component of a long-haul flight can be twice as high as a short-haul flight - 60% fuel cost on long-haul versus 30% on short haul.

Fuel costs were the main reason by long-haul budget airline AirAsia X to cut back its services. Its short-haul flights are still performing strongly.

But buying a refinery is not on anyone's agenda among Asian airlines. Not yet at least. But what is on the radar relating to fuel costs is fracking - the process of extracting gas and oil through hydraulic pressure fracturing of rocks. It has revolutionized the gas industry in the U.S. Gas prices are at a 10-year low, prompting oil-energy users such as power companies to look at switching to gas-fired plants, a relatively easy transtition.

As oil users switch to gas, airlines are hoping there could be a knock-on effect to the price of oil as demand starts to fall. It may be a long shot at this stage, but in the airline industry it's one of the very few bright spots on an otherwise bleak outlook for controlling one of the biggest costs in the business.



April 17th, 2012
01:45 PM GMT
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CNN, Hong Kong - The World Bank race has been run and won – and no surprises for guessing the winner.

That was clear months ago when the U.S. backed Europe's nomination of Christine Lagarde for the top job at the International Monetary Fund. It ensured the Europeans would back the U.S. at the World Bank.

But the cozy days of you-scratch-my-back-if-I-scratch-yours are numbered. And not before time.

Former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is claiming, if not victory, then success. Success in breaching the IMF-World Bank club for insiders. Never again will a European be chosen for the IMF or an American for the World Bank without a rigorous test based on merit.

Whether Mr Kim is the best or most qualified for the job will remain a debate. But what is clear is that Ngozo Okonjo-Iweala was equally well-equipped to lead the bank.

As the 21th century becomes increasingly a story of the developing world, the Bretton Woods institutions have been put on notice in clear terms: no more deal-making and a lot more transparency. Those days belong to an era when the U.S. and Europe ruled the economic world. Those days are coming to an end.



March 5th, 2012
04:13 PM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – It's interesting to watch the knee-jerk reaction in the markets to China's softer growth forecast.

After nearly a decade of targeting - and invariably exceeding - an 8% annual growth rate, Beijing is now setting it at 7.5%.

We shouldn't be surprised. A clear flag was raised just last week in a report on China's economy from the World Bank, and a Beijing-backed think tank calling for a rebalancing of China's "unsustainable" economic growth.
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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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December 29th, 2011
04:21 PM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – The official mourning period for Kim Jong Il is over and the world's eyes - and in many cases fears - are now focused on Kim Jong Un.

We still don't know with any certainly how old he is, let alone whether he is capable of running a country.

At first, he will have plenty of help from his father's trusted circle of advisers. But analysts say one of the reasons he was chosen over his two brothers to succeed Kim Jong Il is that he most closely resembles his grand-father, Kim Il Sung, founder of the Communist north. If that is the case, it is unlikely to be long before he begins to flex his muscles, political or otherwise.

Kim Jong Un (above center, in a handout picture from North Korea's Korean Central News Agency) faces a clear - and intriguing - choice.

Does he follow the path of his father and grandfather and keep his country in isolation and his people cowed? This would mean he would remain beholden to China for his very survival while being shunned by most of the rest of the world.

Or does he look at his very own neighborhood and learn from two of the most economically successful models in the world: South Korea and China?

When Kim Il Sung founded Communist North Korea in 1948, the country had a bigger industrial base than the South and many more riches in the ground.
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November 23rd, 2011
04:28 PM GMT
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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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November 1st, 2011
07:39 AM GMT
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(CNN) - The Flying Kangaroo, with its distinctive cherry red background that adorns the tail of Qantas airplanes, is an Australian icon.

It has a special place in the hearts of Australians. FULL POST

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September 9th, 2011
02:41 AM GMT
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Tokyo (CNN) – Working at the weekend in sweltering offices and meager use of electrical devices in a country known for its gadgets: This is the new reality in Japan.

Six months after the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown, Japan is still struggling to get back to pre-quake power generation.

Across the country energy production is down 7% on last summer; in greater Tokyo power generation has fallen by 20%. To avoid blackouts, the government told big industrial energy consumers to cut their power usage by 15% over the summer.

Nearly all companies hit their targets or exceeded them, but it's been tough on everyone.
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