Hong Kong, China (CNN) – It all began at about 3am. That’s when residents of Hong Kong housing complex Mei Foo Sun Chuen say they first heard the construction trucks arrive and a few of them rushed downstairs to see what was going on.
Resident Hewit Au describes what happened: “I asked the driver what he was doing. Then the driver said, ‘Go away - if not I will run you over.’ So I said, ‘Fine run me over.'
“Then I laid down in front of the truck.”
Au’s late night standoff kicked off a weeks-long stalemate between Mei Foo homeowners and Billion Star Development.
In Hong Kong, Au and his fellow residents have become more than just middle class homeowners with a complaint against a local developer. They have become symbols of growing level of dissatisfaction over skyrocketing property prices and the power wielded by some of the city's richest corporations, the property developers.
Steve Hindy’s path to become 'the Boss’ was far from ordinary. As a former Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, Hindy described to the world the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981, and was held by militiamen in civil-war torn Lebanon the year before.
“I loved what I was doing, as a war correspondent for AP - but my wife got fed up with the whole thing and said, `I'm going back to New York, taking the kids - hope you join us’,” recalls Hindy. “ `If not, have a nice life’."
So Hindy went back to New York for an adventure of a different kind. In 1988, Hindy – then aged 39 – and a neighbor opened Brooklyn Brewery. “I began trying to convince (his neighbor) that we should quit our jobs and start a brewery at a time when we both had mortgages we both had young kids,” Hindy said. “It wasn't the greatest time to be quitting your job.”
(CNN) – A spiraling crisis caused by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear drama has turned into a financial crisis for the world’s third largest economy.
In a few short hours, the yen smashed through the 80 yen-to-the-dollar barrier, peaking at 76.25 yen. That was the highest level the currency has hit since World War II.
The health of Japan’s economy is based heavily on exports. A stronger yen can wipe billions of dollars off corporate balance sheets. For example, Toyota loses 30 billion yen, roughly $380 million, for each uptick of the yen against the dollar.
Analysts say timing played a big role in the sudden surge. Trade is typically thin around the end of the U.S. trading day and before Asian markets open. The yen, considered a safe bet in times of crises, had been gradually strengthening over several trading sessions. With risk adverse investors pushing the currency higher, it broke through 80 yen per dollar.
Hong Kong, China (CNN) - The Mideast turmoil has oil prices hovering near $100 a barrel again. For Asian economies, an extended period of high oil prices could have a number of knock-on effects, including hurting oil-dependent industries like autos and construction, and depressing exports to the U.S. and Europe.
The real danger though may lie in single word: inflation.
Economies from China to Vietnam to India are already struggling to contain rising consumer prices, especially for staple foods like corn and onions. These costs hit many of society's poorest families, as they struggle to meet basic food and energy costs. They are also taxing government balance sheets, with food and energy subsidies still common place in this part of the world.
In a research note HSBC described the combination of high food prices, gaining core prices, labor tightness and the oil shock "a lethal brew."
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – There is something plainly fascinating about Paul Butler's map of the world. The Facebook intern used data from the social networking site to create a map of people's friendships across the globe and to see how they related to geographical and political boundaries. After experimenting with different techniques, he ended up using arced, weighted lines to connect cities based on the volume of the Facebook friendships between them.
In Butler's words, the result is "a surprisingly detailed map of the world. Not only were continents visible, certain international borders were apparent as well. What really struck me, though, was knowing that the lines didn't represent coasts or rivers or political borders, but real human relationships."
The lines also map out, to a large extent, Facebook's global penetration. One is struck by the fluorescent clusters in the United States and Europe, where Facebook is widely used; the clear contours of Indonesia, home of the most Facebook users in Asia; and the giant hole where China should be.
A victory for figure skater Kim Yu-Na Thursday night gave her gold on the ice, but she is already raking in her fair share outside of the rink.
The 19-year-old is wildly popular in her native Korea, with nicknames like "The Queen" and "The Fairy of the Ice." That status has yielded her $10 million in sponsorships and endorsements deals, according to her representatives, IB Sports Management.
Forbes magazine ranks Kim as the top earning Olympic athlete this year, tied with U.S. snowboarder Shaun White.
Nike has created a Just Do It campaign around the young skater, showing her overcoming the pressure and challenges of Olympic-level competition. Though the campaign is only in Korea, Nike believes it will be seen around the world. "We are getting a lot of great response from our consumers and know that through our campaign, she is touching the lives of aspiring athletes, young people and fans throughout the world," Nike said in a statement.
Samsung Electronics has created the Yuna Haptic, a cell phone branded around the skater. In the accompanying ad campaign, she goofs around like an average teenager, using her phone to take pictures and listen to music. Samsung says more than one million Yuna Haptics have already been sold.
South Korea has never before won a medal in Olympic figure skating. Kimmy Kim, a reporter for SBS TV in Seoul, says many average Koreans believe Kim's victory would help reinvigorate the country. "The Korean economy is not as good as it used to be. They hope that she wins and gives strength and hope to everyone in Korea."
IB Sports Management hopes a gold medal could lead to even more deals for the young skater. This is Kim's first Olympic games and a gold would go a long way towards extending her fame beyond her native country.
You have to admit gold has kind of stolen the show in the metals sector this year. The traditional safe haven investment raced to settle at a record price of $1,218.30 an ounce in early December. Now prices have fallen off somewhat since then, but the gold bulls and the gold bears are still arguing it out over when we might see $1500.
In all this gold rush though, you may have overlooked the significant gains in other metals. Here are a few to watch in 2010.
Platinum: Platinum prices have made solid gains this year, but some analysts say the precious metal could have more room to grow. Used both for jewelry and industrial purposes, constrained supply is an issue.
Copper: Prices for this industrial metal more than doubled in 2009 after a difficult 2008. Copper watchers expect demand for the metal will continue rising as global economies pick up in 2010. Copper is a key component for building projects, autos and electrical wiring, so it is an essential resource for quickly growing countries like China.
Steel: More, more and more seems to be China's attitude towards steel at the moment. Still the outlook for this essential building material is far from certain. Fitch Ratings predicts in a recent report that demand will recover at a "modest pace" over the 12-18 months, but says high stocks and excess capacity should limit price increases. Morgan Stanley believes such overproduction should recede though and higher prices are on the horizon, driven by rising raw materials costs and China's booming property sector.
Singapore – Alphabet soup is on the menu everywhere here at the APEC summit. Acronyms, painful at the best of times, seem to be used continually by leaders, CEOs and politicians gathered in Singapore. Here’s a guide for those trying to follow the action.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, consists of 21 member economies that account for more than half of global gross domestic product – the value of all goods and services a country produces. Members include power players such as the United States, Japan and China and developing nations such as Chile and Indonesia. A key part of the mission: achieving the 'Bogor Goals of “free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialized economies and 2020 for developing economies.”
Once famously described as"four adjectives looking for a noun,” APEC sometimes comes under criticism for being little more than a talking shop. Members have no treaty obligations and all agreements are non-binding. Still any event that puts Barack Obama and Hu Jintao in the same room is going to attract the world’s attention.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN has 10 member states, with a combined GDP of US$1.5 trillion. The group’s mission is to promote economic growth and regional stability. Barack Obama will be the first U.S. president to meet with the group’s leaders, including Myanmar’s Prime Minister Thein Sein. The Obama administration has adopted a policy of engaging Myanmar, also known as Burma, in hopes it will push the country toward democratic reforms.
Until a few days ago, the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP was little known economic alliance formed between Chile, New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei. Now the U.S., Australia, Peru and Vietnam want to join, with the intention of using the TPP as a stepping stone toward the ultimate goal of free trade throughout the APEC region. This may be the first you have heard of TPP, but I doubt it will be the last.
China = 1.3 billion people.
That’s an equation that intoxicates marketers and drives businesses to invest serious cash in capturing the Chinese consumer.
But experts in brand marketing in China warn businesses not to get dazzled by the numbers. China's consumer market is large, but it is also complex, fragmented and fiercely competitive. If you want a piece of the action, you better do your homework and be prepared to stay for the long term.
Here are a few tips from our experts.
Target your customers
Only 33.5% of retail sales now come from China's top 24 cities, according to a study from Ogilvy & Mather Group China. China's smaller cities and towns are a growing market for foreign brands.
However, consumers in these areas have considerably different shopping habits than those in big cities. They are less hurried, spend more time in public spaces and have limited access to the Internet. Differences like these can be crucial for market strategy.
Regional, cultural and ethnic differences have to be considered as well. Chris Reitermann, President of Ogilvy Shanghai, says focusing on a smaller market segment can pay off more than a broad, unrefined strategy.
Have a local partner
There are a lot of benefits to choosing the right Chinese partner and building a strong relationship with them. GM, a long-term success story in the Chinese market, has made out of its joint ventures with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. "They know the market," says GM marketer Joseph Liu. "They help us on the distribution side. They bring the government relationship which is extremely important in China."
Take your time
Both our experts advise that building a brand in China is an energy and time-consuming business. Liu recommends putting someone in China full time to build relationships. Reitermann says studying the Chinese way of life can help you build a marketing campaign that is sensitive to local culture and appeals to local tastes.
Why would anyone hire a delusional liar and convicted felon?
Mark Whitacre, right, at the premiere of 'The Informant' with Matt Damon.
Paul A. Willis, CEO and president of Cypress Systems in California, did just that when he hired Mark Whitacre, the real-life informant in the movie "The Informant!"
Back in 2001, Willis was searching for staff for his small company, which produces selenium, a food supplement that shows promise in reducing the risk of cancer. One of his consulting researchers suggested Whitacre, who has a Ph.D in selenium research and experience running a division of a multinational firm.
“And, by the way, you know he’s in prison,” Willis recalls being told.
For most potential employers, prison wouldn’t be considered happy headhunting grounds. But luckily for Whitacre, Willis was no ordinary employer.
Besides running a business that focuses on Whitacre’s expertise, Willis and his wife also are active in prison ministry work. “Our faith in Jesus Christ says we’re all given a second chance, and redemption plays a big part in our faith,” he said.
“It wasn’t a light decision (to hire Whitacre), but it was totally evident to me he accepted his full role in this,” said Willis, who starting meeting with Whitacre in prison in 2001 and hired him immediately upon his release in 2006. “He’s not blaming anyone, but taking full responsibility … he’s focused on not being bitter, but getting better and moving on with his life.”
Another convicted white-collar felon, Sam Antar, is more circumspect on the subject of redemption. Although he now lectures government organizations and businesses about white-collar crime, he stops short of saying he’s "reformed."
“If I tell you I’m not a criminal any more, should you really believe me?” said Antar, who cooked the books in a multi-million securities fraud in the 1980s. “White-collar criminals wrap themselves around a wall of false integrity.”
As more white-collar criminals get collared, questions surrounding rehabilitation will likely grow, too.
Do you believe white-collar criminals can change their ways? Share your stories with CNN.
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