January 19th, 2012
11:08 AM GMT
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Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (CNN) – China is thirsty for oil to fuel its economic boom – and it’s increasingly looking to Saudi Arabia to help quench that thirst.

Saudi Arabia produces nearly 10 million barrels of oil a day – about the same as China consumes. That’s why the Kingdom is at the heart of China's energy strategy to secure more resources from the Gulf region.

Chinese energy giant Sinopec recently signed a joint venture with Saudi’s Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, that will lock-in an additional 400,000 barrels of oil per day by 2014.

It’s a sign of China’s eagerness to boost economic and political ties to Saudi Arabia.

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January 18th, 2012
02:23 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – The experts are in back in Athens to assess the damage, looking for answers to Greece's massive debt. They are part of the team to help Greece, so the country can get another dose of money from the International Monetary Fund and Europe.

But this is not the bankers who are negotiating to get less money out of Greece.

People are confusing the two teams now back in Athens. One is to clean up the mess; one is to give Greece a break on debt through so-called Private Sector Involvement (PSI) which is econ-speak for a voluntary agreement.

Let’s break them down. FULL POST

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January 16th, 2012
06:11 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – I could not help but think of the Titanic when I first heard of the Costa Concordia. But there is no comparison beyond the anniversary year.

Actually, maybe there is another similarity. The sinking of the Titanic did not stop the cruise industry and this one won’t either.

But the industry will have to remind people what William Gibbons, director of the Passenger Shipping Association, told me: “We have to reassure everybody that now is a good time to book a cruise and that it is a very safe and secure holiday.”

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January 6th, 2012
03:39 AM GMT
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New York (CNN) – Wished you had paid a little more attention in computer class? Learned to do more than just surf Facebook? You are not alone.

While companies and governments have been shedding jobs and paring back benefits, tech job openings continue to soar. According to Fortune magazine, software developers who specialize in applications will rise by over 30% by 2018. Jobs for computer system analysts will jump 20%.

And the pay is good – average salaries are around $94,000 a year.
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January 4th, 2012
04:04 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – I have an Financial Times cartoon on my desk by Banx which shows a man reading a book of "Greek Myths" to a child, with the tag line "...and the EU got all its money paid back in full." I don't cut out many cartoons but this one sets the tone for 2012.

We've known since October that Greece won't have to pay back all the money it has borrowed. Banks are already in deep discussions to reach a deal for a 50% "haircut" on some of the Greek government bonds they hold. Once that is agreed to, Greece is a step closer to getting some of the $168 billion loan - part of its second bailout - agreed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

So what do we know going into 2012?

Let's be clear: A 50% haircut will not be enough. Greece's budget deficit numbers are getting worse, not better. Greece is not increasing the amount of tax that is swallowed up in the country's black economy. The Greek people face another $8 billion or so in austerity measures for 2013-2015, that is, if the coalition government of Lucas Papademos can pass the new measures through parliament ahead of the expected Spring election.

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December 28th, 2011
06:19 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – Want to know what should be on Europe’s wish list if it wants its common currency to survive beyond 2012? Ask a leading economist.

As a top economist at Barclays Capital, Julian Callow has formulated his own battle plan - but one which can only work if Europe is willing to get behind united political goals.

“We are still talking about a group of country states which have this common currency, but what the markets really want to see is a clear, decisive plan to move to a political union for the eurozone,” Callow told CNN.

His 2012 check-list includes serious commitment from governments to balance their budgets, a weak euro and a more proactive European Central Bank.
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December 27th, 2011
03:18 PM GMT
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Dublin (CNN) – According to an old Irish saying,"in Dublin you can't throw a stick without hitting a poet."

James Joyce, W.B. Yeats and Oscar Wilde are just some of the writers the city has produced over the centuries.

In recognition of its past and present achievements, the Irish capital was recently named as one of six UNESCO Cities of Literature.

CNN's Jim Boulden travelled to Dublin to see how the designation is boosting the city's morale.

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December 21st, 2011
01:49 PM GMT
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Billund, Denmark (CNN) - How many chief executives can put “working at a pre-school” on their resumes? Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, boss of toy giant Lego, can.

What’s more, he credits his time spent at a kindergarten with leadership lessons that later helped him bring the well-loved brand back to profitability.

“There are two things about working in a kindergarten: One is you are dealing with children and, at least in this country, they don’t care what you are telling them,” Knudstorp says. They care about what kind of role model you are and how you can influence them.”

The fluid leadership structure - often reflected in institutions like nursery schools, kindergartens and pre-schools - was also beneficial. At Lego, he says, “you need to manage the informal organization as much as the formal authority structure.”

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December 15th, 2011
02:34 AM GMT
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London (CNN) – Europe’s new treaty – dubbed the “fiscal compact” – is facing some hard realities on the ground. Signs the deal could be difficult to push through in both euro and non-euro countries are emerging.

In Warsaw, protestors have rallied against, among other things, Poland’s tacit agreement to lose some sovereignty to join the European treaty club. In London, political bickering continues over British Prime Minister David Cameron’s veto of the European deal.

In Ireland, a referendum may need to be held, with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny noting some detailed technical and legal considerations are yet to be clarified. Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg says the country - which does not use the euro - would not agree to all the budget discipline rules. And the Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas has said the proposed pact is still just a blank piece of paper.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Bundestag the path to stability continued. In Italy, new Prime Minister Mario Monti said the deal had done enough to calm the markets.

But on Wednesday U.S. stocks fell, the euro dropped to its lowest level in 11 months and Italian bond yields rose.

European leaders promised to sign off on this fiscal compact at its next leaders' summit in March. Will the markets give them the time to fill in the details...  and the cracks?



December 14th, 2011
10:30 AM GMT
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Dublin (CNN) – Dublin is trending. In September, Twitter became the latest in a line of new media companies to announce it will set up its European headquarters in the Irish capital.

The micro-blogging site joins the likes of Google, Facebook and e-Bay in what has been dubbed "Europe's Silicon Valley." Dublin's growing IT sector is giving the city a renewed sense of confidence.

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