August 15th, 2011
11:34 AM GMT
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My BlackBerry Bold is back on my hip, vibrating away every time I get an e-mail, and I am relieved.

I have lived with and mostly loved a BlackBerry since the days following the 7/7 attacks on the London transport sector. That's when CNN rolled them out for reporters.

Since then I have used it for reference for live shots, for e-mailing of course, and to take photos – work and personal.
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July 19th, 2011
06:16 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – If we were looking for News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch to give detailed answers to questions about alleged misdeeds at one of his subsidiaries, we did not get them.

"You had a hands-off approach," to the News of the World, committee member Philip Davies said to Rupert Murdoch.

The 80-year-old disagreed, saying he had his hands full "10 to 12 hours a day" overseeing an international company with 53,000 employees, and admitted that News of the World was less than 1% of his business, and that "maybe I lost sight of (it)."

"There was no excuse to break the law" at his newspapers, said Murdoch. "I was brought up by a father ... who was a great journalist. He ... bought a little small paper ... to give me a chance to do good ... to expose the scandals. Of which I am very, very proud of."
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June 28th, 2011
06:24 PM GMT
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(CNN) - Greece vows to sell many state-owned assets and catch up to what European countries started doing back in the 1980s. So, better late than never. But can Greece really sell £50bn worth of assets as promised?

There are many challenges. Firstly, the unions don't want to see state employees go to work for private firms and of course face massive job cuts.
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June 7th, 2011
03:52 PM GMT
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I've just gotten back from a ten day holiday trip in the U.S., which included a lot of meals, bars, baseball games and hotel rooms – which means, of course, a lot of tipping, or not as the case may be.

I may be American by birth, but I have spent 20 years overseas and so I have to re-learn when to tip, how much to tip, and how to get out of tipping when it feels right.

I am also cheap. I hate the pressure to tip but I am quite happy to tip well when the service warrants. I also know well that many an American teenager survive off the tips, something non Americans don't seem to readily understand.
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May 6th, 2011
07:55 PM GMT
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When I walked into the Jaguar super secret press conference Friday morning, I was stunned to see Frank Williams and Adam Parr, the Chairman of Williams F1, on the podium next to a Jaguar muscle car.

You can forgive me in the mean time if I thought Jaguar was getting back in Formula 1. So many car companies have gotten out of high performance racing due to the costs involved (think Toyota).

While were we promised a 'major announcement' as part of Jaguar Land Rover's massive redevelopment under Tata Motors, I thought this would be a huge and expensive gamble. The young ladies on the marketing team, all wearing matching black dresses with Jaguar pins, were friendly but would not give us press releases until after the press conference and the embargo was lifted.

Alas, Jaguar is not getting back in to F1. Its just decided to sell a $1 million dollar supercar with Williams technology.

Oh, and it will be a hybrid with two electric engines under the sleek gray body.

Jaguar promises will be do 0-60MPH in under 3 seconds.

Jaguar also promises it will only sell 250 vehicles –  not a year, but in total. So, hurry up if you want one!

Carl-Peter Forster - the German CEO in charge of two famous British marques now owned by India's Tata –  says the company will easily make money on these supercars, dubbed the C-X75. And he tells me Jaguar Land Rover came out of the recession quite strong.

With dozens of upgrades in the pipeline, a rumored Jag crossover SUV and Land Rovers starting to be assembled in India, the company is clearly bullish on the luxury end of the market.

But a $1 million car? Forster says it will be a collectors item and he suspects some owners won't even bother to have their new toy registered, as they could just be used on closed tracks – and not on the road.

If you did want to use it on the road, it will go "in excess" 200 MPH, if need be.



March 17th, 2011
03:41 PM GMT
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(CNN) - Within hours of the Japanese earthquake, natural gas price futures for summer delivery started to rise. Within three trading days, Barclays reports that UK natural gas prices have shot up more than 13%. It's only a matter of time before the suppliers pass that rise onto customers.

Why should this happen?

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February 8th, 2011
03:06 PM GMT
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What recession? There wasn't one at the top end of the art market.

"The price levels of these works of art have not only held, they've risen," Jussi Pylkkanen, President of Christie's Europe told me a week before the auction house put works by some of the famed impressionists under the hammer in London.

Works by Degas, Gaugin and Chagall lined the walls at Christie's as Pylkkanen explained to me that 80% of the works up for auction are being sold these days, showing great confidence that the big Impressionist and modern art sale this week in London by his house (and presumably also for the one at rival Sotheby's Tuesday featuring a painting by Picasso) will show huge demand. "This is one of the strongest sales I have seen here in the 25 years," he said.

That's what the sellers are counting on of course.

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January 25th, 2011
10:25 AM GMT
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An interesting group of people turns 65 years old this year, from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to Steven Spielberg, Cher and Sylvester Stallone. Add to that list Geoff Woodhouse.

Geoff recently retired as a maths teacher and like many of his “baby boomer” generation, he may have decades in retirement. He told me that his decision to take early retirement, at 64, came quickly and without much preparation. Five months on, he has to figure out what's next.

Yes, decades.

Welcome to the New Reality of retirement life. With men in the west happily (and many healthily) living into their 80s and women pushing into their 90s, the impact on health care, pension systems and the jobs market is profound. The UK government recently estimated that more than seven thousand Britons will hit 110 years old by 2066.

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January 14th, 2011
03:24 AM GMT
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London (CNN) – Ok, you are unlikely to be in the market for a house that sells from $5 million to $150 million, but this 'uber-rich' housing market can be as good an economic barometer as any other. If the super rich are buying and selling in places like London or Rome then taxes are raised and real estate agents are hiring.

I spoke this week with Neil Palmer, CEO of “Christie's International Real Estate,” who is cautiously optimistic that sales in 2011 will be much higher than in 2010 and certainly than 2009.

Funny thing is, Palmer says the super luxury rich real estate market was not hit during the crisis because buyers couldn't afford these homes – there was just too much uncertainty for the ultra-rich to decide when to “pick up that second or third home.”

I just love the fact that people who buy houses north of $5 million tend to have more than one. It’s not the big purchase of a lifetime; it’s getting that extra home somewhere you spend a lot of time.

Christie's is currently selling Ringo Starr's ski chalet in Aspen for $4.5 million and the late Aaron Spelling's Hollywood mansion for $150 million. In between, there are homes in many major western cities. In Miami-Dade County alone, Palmer says the luxury home market in 2010 was up 30% in volume compared to the previous year. Sales in January 2011 were higher than January 2010 – a concrete example that the rich are spending again.

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January 12th, 2011
02:23 PM GMT
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Are you confused by the market talk about Portugal needing a bailout? You might be even more so now that the country has successfully sold bonds at a lower yield than expected (20 years at 6.7 percent).

In the current market, selling bonds at a yield - or interest rate - below seven percent is seen as a small victory, though not sustainable in the long run.

The Portuguese government continues to say it can pay its bills, through bond sales and through tax rises and budget cuts, thank you very much. Of course that is what Greece and then Ireland said. Now, neither country needs the bond markets as each has been given massive loans (bailouts) by Europe and the IMF.

The worry about Portugal is all about perception and contagion.

Here is one scenario: Portugal says it does not need a bailout and refuses to ask for one. So ratings agencies downgrade the country's bonds (sovereign debt) which means Portugal's government costs rise. That means it's harder to cut its budget deficit to an "appropriate level."

It also means Portuguese (and Spanish) banks hold paper that is more risky, so rating agencies downgrade the Portuguese banks, raising their costs. Now, the market starts to sell the bonds in fear of a default (then too much paper on the market) while continuing to demand higher and higher interest rates to buy new paper from the government and from the banks.

With Ireland having to pay 5.8 percent for its bailout loans, at some point Portugal will be paying too much to sell its debt and a bailout becomes a cheaper option. But it comes with heavy (IMF) fiscal strings attached.

Portugal would have to decide which is worse. And it will have to deflect talk that other countries want it to accept a bailout to keep the debt disease from spreading into big economies like Spain and Italy.

Not that the European bailout fund has enough money to finance a Spanish bailout for more than a year and who knows what that would mean for the value or very future of the euro.

What should Portugal do?

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