March 16th, 2012
06:51 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – When asked by CNN for comment about the new Nike shoe nick-named the ‘Black and Tan’ one man in Newry, Northern Ireland asked, “How about if an Irish company came out with a shoe and called it 'The Taliban' how would the Americans feel?”

That might be a bit harsh. The Taliban are known the world over.

Yet, Nike has fallen into the trap many American companies face. What sounds normal to your American customers can offend elsewhere.
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March 16th, 2012
06:25 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – The bail-out is a done deal, the International Monetary Fund has agreed its share and the Europeans have started to hand over the money. One of the ratings agencies has even upgraded the new Greek bonds.

So it is incredibly dispiriting to be reading more and more notes from economists and analysts suggesting that this is not over yet.

Paul Donovan, in his note from UBS, noted that the markets were not that impressed by the state of play. The markets, he said, were pricing in “the debate about when the next restructuring will take place.”
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March 13th, 2012
07:33 PM GMT
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As Eurozone finance ministers sign off on another badly needed bailout for Greece, the second chapter of this never ending story comes to a close. Mind you, that isn't to say the country won't need a third dollop of cash in the future. Most economists I have asked reckon it will.

Greece's crisis has prompted almost as many dubious puns as it has snorts of derision.

So for those of you fed up with being told "Greece is the word" (get it?) or "it’s all Greek to me" (ha ha) fret not!

In fact, there's a whole dictionary of dodgy terms invented for politicians and pundits to couch themselves.

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March 12th, 2012
08:11 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – The letter from the seven airlines complaining about the European Emissions Trading system made me smile. Not that there is anything funny about the prospect of a full-blown trade war between Europe and inter alia, China, the fastest-growing super economy in the world.

Rather because it smacked of too little, too late. Where were these airlines writing their letters when the scheme was being initiated, promulgated and ultimately brought into force?

No doubt they made protests behind the scenes and lobbied like fury - which got them precisely nowhere! The Commission was impervious to the threats of trade wars. They barrelled on regardless of the damage that was being threatened.

I know this because the EU commissioner responsible, Connie Hedegaard, was on Quest Means Business defending the scheme. To her credit, she hasn't wavered. The view in Brussels was, if the ICAO process was going to be delayed and drawn out then the EU would go its own way - and that is exactly what they have done.

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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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March 5th, 2012
12:14 PM GMT
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Abu Dhabi (CNN) – He was president for two terms, prime minister for one and is now in place for another stint in the top job. The question investors are asking of Vladimir Putin as he moves back to into the presidency is: What will be different the second time around?

Russian oligarchs and top policy makers within the country refer to this era as “Putin 2.0,” which has taken on a new sense of urgency since the protests from a young middle class after the parliamentary vote in December.

Viktor Vekselberg is president of Renova, a major shareholder in the TNK-BP joint venture, and a driving force in the country’s “Skolkovo” innovation project outside Moscow. In a recent interview with CNN, he said: “We don’t have time, three, five or 10 years for a slow restructuring.”

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February 15th, 2012
02:32 AM GMT
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London (CNN) – It is official. The Greek economy has gone into meltdown.

The numbers released Tuesday show that during 2011 the economy contracted by 7%. Barclays estimates that much of that loss came in the last three months – when the economy dropped a whopping 5.1%.

A look at the IMF's World Economic Outlook puts it into context. In the darkest days of the recession no other developed country came close to suffering such a large loss (U.S. -2.4%; UK -4.9%; Eurozone -4.1).

It is now clear Greece's economy has fallen off a cliff. It has endured five years of grueling recession and every prospect of much more to come, as even the Greek prime minister warned that things would be tough for years to come.
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February 10th, 2012
08:49 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – The news this week that a young couple in northern England won £45 million ($70 million) on the eurolottery set me thinking. And thinking. In fact anyone who heard of the story has surely spent more than a few moments thinking - what would I do with that money?

To start with, I worked out what I would get if I just left it on deposit in the bank. Offshore, of course. Assuming I tied it up for five years. Since it is a sterling win, I could get around 2% on deposit which would give me an income of £900,000 (£450,000 after tax at 50%) Not shabby, but probably not enough!!

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February 5th, 2012
03:53 PM GMT
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New York (CNN) – I love a New York breakfast.  Eggs over easy, hash browns, whole wheat toast – and diner coffee, which seemingly may never have actually seen a coffee bean. Now I add to that mix a robust discussion about the Greece crises.

When I came to New York I had thought I might escape from the woes of Greece and the eurozone, if only for a weekend. I had not reckoned with the owner and manager of the local hotel diner, where I was staying – part of the large and ever-present Greek population in New York.

Some of them, like the manager, were born in Greece, and even though they haven't lived there for decades still have family there and visit once or twice a year. Others, like their sons and daughters, have an interest in the place, as if they had just got off the boat.

Forget the U.S. election – every one of them was obsessed with talking to me about what was going to happen to Greece and the battle of austerity over growth. FULL POST



January 25th, 2012
02:15 PM GMT
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Davos, Switzerland (CNN) – With the world still shaking from the global economic earthquake, and suffering daily aftershocks from Europe, it is not surprising that the topic at Davos is whether capitalism is dead.

On the opening day, the main debate focused on the question: "Is 20th century capitalism failing 21st century society?"

It’s not hard to see why. Former White House economist Nouriel Roubini reminded us that today we are "back to the inequality of 1929 and the Great Depression." High unemployment and the failure of wages to keep pace with living costs are resulting in widespread unrest against elites. FULL POST



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