September 26th, 2011
04:40 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – So, the word is eurozone leaders may be ready to quadruple the region’s bailout fund and write down 50% of Greece’s debt. This, as a final fix for a crisis that continues to overshadow the single currency a decade after its introduction.

Investors reacted with cautious optimism thanks to the sheer size of the financial commitment and finally an acknowledgement that Greece doesn’t have a hope of paying off all of its existing obligations.

As ministers move to hammer out a concrete plan, investors point to a few questions that still remain unanswered:

1) Will it be enough?

2) How soon will the measures pass?

3) Is it too late?

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.

September 1st, 2011
04:28 AM GMT
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(CNN) – It has been about a year since BP sealed the oil well that had been gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Renewed exploration and drilling is in the news this week with deals being discussed in Russia, Alaska, India, and even off the shores of Cuba. But has the international business community learned enough from the Gulf oil spill one year later.

A U.S. biochemist and scholar says no way, and argues that more protections and protocols must be put in place.

August 11th, 2011
01:01 AM GMT
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London (CNN) – As world markets remain in turmoil and economists bet on a return to recession, hedge fund managers are being given another chance to prove they are worth their hefty pay packets.

Hedge funds are similar to mutual funds in that they raise capital from investors and pool it together.

But it’s what they do with that money that makes them different.

Like other funds, they measure their performance against an index buying stocks, bonds, commodities and currencies. Yet, hedge funds also use an array of sophisticated investment techniques which allow them to make money not just when markets are rising but when they are falling as well.

August 5th, 2011
05:50 PM GMT
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As a child my mother would lure me home from the playground with the promise of a "Double Dip." Now the mere mention of those two words is enough to send me running fast in the other direction.

The term, once synonymous here in the UK with a tasty sherbet sweet, is now a household name for the bitter pill some of the world’s richest economies may soon have to swallow as investors become increasingly concerned about a return to recession.

So what are the chances of a contraction?

Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Michelle Meyer argued this week that the U.S. is just "one shock" away from seeing its economy shrink.

Investors got a shock of a different nature on Friday with word that the world’s largest economy created more jobs than expected. Markets rallied for about an hour before giving up their losses, a phenomenon often referred to as the "dead cat" bounce.

Despite the buoyant jobs numbers economists like Meyer are becoming increasingly concerned that the signs on the upside are not frequent or significant enough to rule out a contraction later on in the year for the U.S., especially as biting inflation eventually pushes the hand of rate setters at the Federal Reserve.

True, U.S. gross domestic product did increase 1.3% in the second quarter but that was much weaker than anticipated.

The previous quarter’s growth was also sharply revised downwards: from a robust 1.9% to just 0.4%.

And when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.

If there’s one thing that has me more worried than an anaemic recovery state side, it is the bleak future of the euro zone.

Some 17 countries share the euro as their common currency and through thick and thin (thus far) their leaders have vowed to defend it. The money is used by more than 300 million people and prices more than a quarter of world trade.

But the political will is waning, the bills are mounting and cracks are appearing between those countries setting the economic pace in Europe and those who simply can’t keep up.

The world’s bond markets are worth an estimated $80 trillion, a large portion of which is made up of borrowings issued by euro zone sovereign nations.

Fighting a battle on that scale is expensive, especially when you don’t all see eye to eye.

The French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel will late on Friday urgently discuss their options this weekend, presumably from their holiday retreats.

This has left EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn holding "the reins" and even he acknowledges that the euro area must match its political cohesion with equally homogeneous and tough fiscal rules.

Mind you, that’s easier said than done when your cultures are different, your populations are of different ages and crucially, your growth rates are going in the opposite direction.

In 2008, we had a credit crunch, when banks wouldn’t lend to individuals. Now we are seeing a debt crunch when entire countries find it hard to borrow.

It’s hard to say which one is worse. Still, what is becoming clearer is that even if we do avoid a double dip, the gap between economic indicators and expectations is growing and that is why the markets are losing confidence.

July 27th, 2011
09:02 PM GMT
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As my hometown gears up for the 2012 Olympic Games, its inhabitants are split between whether the event will be a giant money spinner or a massive hole in the pocket.

From east to west, north to south people can be heard bemoaning the dearth of tickets while bookmakers are touting the prospects of British athletes winning gold.

July 6th, 2011
04:05 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, (CNN) – The Chinese tourists wandering through Paris’ Louvre this summer or shopping along New York’s Fifth Avenue are part of the nearly 65 million Chinese who will travel abroad this year, according to estimates by the China Tourism Authority.

These tourists are among China’s wealthy. But consider this:  More than 20 times that number of Chinese citizens will travel within China this year.

So for those who can’t afford to visit to Europe, Chinese tourism developers are trying to bring Europe to China.


June 30th, 2011
12:43 AM GMT
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New York (CNN) – Can an old dog learn new tricks?  That is the question facing tech giant Microsoft.

Once a must-have growth stock, Microsoft shares have been stuck in the mid $20 range.  While Apple has surged 391% in the past five years and Google has risen 28%, Microsoft shares are down 8%.

I caught up with Steve Ballmer at the launch of Office 365, the cloud version of its popular software package and a product the company hopes will dispel the image that they are trapped in the past.

He acknowledged the company suffers from a perception problem.  “It is hard to understand.  Half of the world’s inboxes are on Hotmail.  We have maybe 50, 100% more customers than Gmail.  We are not newbies.


June 23rd, 2011
01:29 PM GMT
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On a recent visit to a London showroom my mother – a Saab driver since the mid-90s – traded in her SE900 Turbo for a new Mercedes CLK 250.

At first glance the two cars seemed to offer the same attributes: Both were black, both convertible, with leather seats and walnut dash, and both appealed to the luxury market.

Had her car not been a bit on the ‘mature’ side, half of me would have wondered why she was keen to swap.

June 22nd, 2011
05:21 AM GMT
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New York (CNN) – In just over a week Ben Bernanke and his colleagues at the Federal Reserve will turn off the life support system that has kept the U.S. economy alive for the last two years. How will the markets respond? It’s anyone’s guess.

Optimists, like former White House Advisor Laura Tyson, say the economy - though still fragile - has healed enough to breathe on its own. The Fed has been clear about its intentions to end its program of buying treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, the market had time to prepare and the withdrawal of quantitative easing should end without much drama.

But executives at Pimco, the world’s largest bond fund, disagree. CEO Mohammad El-Erian is sticking by the firm’s bearish and controversial call that the end of quantitative easing will spark a sell-off in U.S. treasury bonds. I talked with both Tyson and El-Erian ahead of the Federal Reserve’s June meeting and he gave the following assessment.


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