September 12th, 2011
03:21 AM GMT
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Tokyo (CNN)— The man once tasked with keeping the yen stable says, despite the currency's rapid climb, this is not a time for intervention.

Eisuke Sakakibara, Japan's top currency official in the late 1990s, tells CNN's Andrew Stevens that effective, persistent intervention is not possible without the consent of the other currency party, something Japan does not have from the United States at the moment.

"Implicitly, the U.S. is following a weak dollar policy. If they are following a strong dollar policy like Robert Rubin in the 1990s, that is a different story," says Sakakibara, widely-known as Mr. Yen.

He predicts the strong yen is here to stay for some time – and it could even break the mark of 70 yen to the U.S. dollar.
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July 20th, 2011
08:08 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Who would have guessed the day after James and Rupert Murdoch testified before a UK parliamentary committee, we’d be talking about Wendi?

And yet, here we are. The “slap heard round the world” is the talk of the town (or at least of Twitter). And so is Rupert Murdoch’s third wife Wendi Deng, who batted away the protester who tried to throw a shaving cream pie at  her husband – reacting even faster than security guards.

U.S. news anchor Katie Couric tweets: “Wow wendy murdoch giving whole new meaning to the term tiger mother...insanity!.”

This from comedian Andy Borowtiz: “After today's #Murdoch hearings, British politicians are no longer afraid of Rupert, but are terrified by Wendi.”

And more from the public. Some funny, some not (and some downright offensive.)  A Wendi Deng fan club on Facebook now has over 700 fans.
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July 14th, 2011
07:00 AM GMT
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(CNN) – The personal and societal impact of February’s Christchurch earthquake may be nearly impossible to quantify. The economic impact is a different story. Today's data from Statistics New Zealand reveals the economy grew by a solid 0.8% in the first quarter, despite the earthquake.

"While some businesses in Christchurch were adversely affected, the vast majority were able to continue operating, and the earthquake resulted in some activity that would not normally have taken place," national accounts manager Rachael Milicich said in a released statement.

Less than 1% of the nation’s commercial property was damaged in the disaster and few large businesses ceased operations. The overall GDP reading was higher than most analysts had expected.

The readings today out of New Zealand beg the question: What is the overall impact of a natural disaster on GDP growth?
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June 7th, 2011
07:10 AM GMT
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Singapore (CNN) – Every business traveler knows the drill: Remove your belt, jewelry, sometimes even your shoes; take everything out of your pockets and then hope you don't get selected for the dreaded pat down.

The airport security process, considered an inconvenience at best and at worst a personal invasion, is fait accompli for travelers these days. No one likes it, but everyone who wants to fly – and fly safely – gets in line.

Now a group that represents the world's largest airlines is claiming it doesn't always have to be this way.

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June 1st, 2011
08:32 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Pop quiz: Which country hosts the world's highest concentration of millionaires?

A) The United States
B) Switzerland
C) Singapore
D) Qatar

The answer is C) Singapore. A whopping 15.5% of Singapore households had more than $1 million in assets in 2010, according to a study out by the Boston Consulting Group. You are more likely to bump into a millionaire in Singapore than anywhere else in the world. Runner-up Switzerland doesn’t even come close, with less than 10% millionaire households.

Singapore’s millionaire population is also growing – and fast. The city-state had nearly a third more millionaires in 2010 than a year earlier, the swiftest increase of any country.

Singapore’s rapid GDP growth – 14.7% last year – and the solid appreciation of its currency have driven the millionaire boom. Analysis shows Singapore has had strong growth in financial services, tourism and exports in 2010.

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May 16th, 2011
03:33 AM GMT
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Macau, China (CNN) – It would not be a stretch to say that Macau has made its fortune at the Baccarat table. The card game is the unchallenged favorite here, the only place in China where casinos are legal. In the first quarter of this year, government statistics reveal Baccarat made up a staggering 90% of gaming revenue, which totaled $7.3 billion. In a place where gaming revenue is the primary tax revenue, that is saying a lot.

Still Macau wants more than just Baccarat. As it watches Las Vegas expand to a center for entertainment, dining and shopping, the Macau government wants to follow. And Francis Lui is here to help.

Lui, Vice Chairman of the Galaxy Entertainment Group, unveiled Sunday his Galaxy Macau, an integrated casino-resort that cost nearly $2 billion to develop. With an artificial white sand beach, a 3,400-square-meter spa and more than 2,000 hotel rooms, the Galaxy Macau is attempting to lure visitors to spend time off the casino floor.

CNNGo.com: 10 reasons to visit the Galaxy Macau

“Our aspirations are how to merge Phuket in Thailand with Macau,” says Lui of his new property.

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April 19th, 2011
07:03 AM GMT
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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.

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March 17th, 2011
07:04 AM GMT
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(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.

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February 28th, 2011
02:59 AM GMT
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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."

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January 6th, 2011
06:32 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – A delicious delicacy, or a dangerously overfished species? The battle over bluefin tuna is nothing new but now a record purchase has put Hong Kong in the midst of the debate.

A local sushi chain paid 32.49 million yen (about $390,000) for a 342 kilogram Pacific bluefin tuna at the year's first auction at Tokyo's famous Tsukiji market. The chain, known as Taste of Japan, has won the bidding for the past three years as well.

Taste of Japan says it plans to sell the fish at a loss at its Itamae Sushi and Itacho Sushi restaurants. According to a spokeswoman for the restaurants, a piece of Supreme Fatty Tuna will retail for roughly $12, having cost the company more like $110.

WWF Hong Kong is condemning the "promotional gimmick." The conservation group, which believes bluefin tuna is on the road to extinction, says in a statement that Taste of Japan's actions encourage "irresponsible consumption."

Environmental objections don't seem to be warding off business though. The chain plans to start selling the tuna tomorrow night and believes it will sell out quickly.



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