(CNN) – Not even six months ago, eurozone watchers had been prognosticating a breakup of the 17-member bloc of nations as the euro plunged to a 25-month low against the U.S. dollar last July.
But since then, the euro has appreciated nearly 11% as its member countries battled to contain sovereign debt crises, rising unemployment and social unrest. The euro now stands at a 13-month high against the greenback.
And flying in the face of last year’s critics, Jean-Claude Trichet, the former chief of the European Central Bank told CNN’s Nina dos Santos that the euro “was never about to collapse” and that its viability as a currency is solid.
“The euro as a currency has never been put in question,” asserted Trichet while at the same time admitting the euro area’s financial stability and credit worthiness had been tested.
But as G20 finance ministers head to Moscow this week for another summit, fears of a currency war continue to loom large. Read more here to find out the details of what Trichet calls a euro "recipe for catastrophe".
(CNN) - In a first for a U.S. credit ratings agency, Standard & Poor's has received official notice from Washington that it will face a civil lawsuit over imprecise ratings - now criticized as being too high by analysts, U.S. lawmakers and even S&P itself - of mortgage-backed investments that eventually contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.
Many of those investments received AAA ratings, a grade which implies highest safety and least risk, but imploded as the U.S. housing bubble burst.
As S&P awaits further word from the U.S. Department of Justice, ratings agencies Moody's and Fitch will be watching to see if they are next.
(CNN) – If you’re not South Korean, it may surprise you to know that Samsung is not just about smartphones. The hugely successful multinational has business investments in everything from military hardware to shipbuilding and hospitals. If you’re in the market for a new house you can buy a Samsung apartment. If you want to go to an amusement park there’s one made by Samsung outside the capital Seoul.
Daniel Tudor, author of Korea: The Impossible Country, tells CNN’s Matthew Chance that South Koreans view Samsung’s success with mixed emotions. On one hand, they are proud of a home-grown brand rising in prominence at home and abroad. On the other hand, Samsung has enormous economic, and thus, political clout which can lead to problems. Based on revenue, Samsung and all its interests account for a full one-fifth of South Korea’s entire economy.
(CNN) – The role of women in economic decision-making, religious tolerance in the 21st Century and the future of the eurozone stand out as a few of the must-watch panels Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
While thousands of global economic, political and civil leaders have paid tens of thousands of dollars to personally attend this year’s summit, you can watch many sessions online and on-demand – without breaking the bank.
Friday’s highlights include the following:
1. “The Economic Malaise and Its Perils”
As the global economy continues its slow crawl back to health, this session looks at the impacts it has left in its wake including high unemployment, loss of wealth and political instability.
2. “Women in Economic Decision-making”
With women still greatly under-represented at the highest levels of global economic decision-making, this panel looks at ways to encourage more females to pursue degrees in business and economic-related fields and how to overcome mid-career development hurdles.
Featured speakers include Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
3. “Open Forum: Is Religion Outdated in the 21st Century?”
While religions are the oldest institutions in the world, they are the slowest to respond to modern issues such as drugs, homosexuality and family relationships. This session questions whether the world is becoming more or less religious, asks if religion teaches tolerance and delves into the balance of freedoms of speech and religion.
Speakers include Chief Rabbi of the Conference of European Rabbis (Russia) Pinchas Goldschmidt, U.K. National Office for Vocation Director Christopher Jamison, U.S. Catholic Health Association President Carol Keehan and Jakarta Globe Group Chief Editor Shoeb Kagda.
(CNN) – While thousands of global economic, political and civil leaders have paid tens of thousands of dollars to personally attend this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with an internet connection you can watch many sessions online and on-demand – with a click of a button and without breaking the bank.
Wednesday’s highlights include the following: FULL POST
(CNN) – The 2013 forecast for European economic growth has turned into a prediction for decay. The European Central Bank on Thursday flipped next year's gross domestic product forecast from growth of 0.3% to a fall of 0.9% next year.
Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, told CNN's Richard Quest he fears Europe's growth problem will last more than just one year.
"This is a decade of slow growth. We are halfway through it. Hopefully we are halfway through it," says Sorrell. "And there's going to be another three, four, five years of tough stuff until we get out of it around 2017, 2018."
(CNN) – Economic sanctions have effects, says an expert at JohnsHopkinsUniversity, but not all may be intended.
"Sanctions historically are quite counterproductive in the sense that if you impose sanctions on your enemy, it tends to strengthen your enemy," Steve Hanke told CNN's John Defterios.
In Iran - where oil exports provide about 70% of government revenues according to the Congressional Research Service - ongoing sanctions that bar the export of oil are hurting its economy.
In the past year, Iranian crude sales have dropped 60% while the value of the rial has fallen to near-historic lows. Since 2010, the currency has dropped nearly 24% against the U.S. dollar. At the same time, food prices for everything from meat for kebabs to yogurt have surged.
Hong Kong (CNN) – Forget the red-hot property market of mainland China - a new forecast says investors should be looking south.
Jakarta - Indonesia's burgeoning capital of nearly 10 million people - is predicted to be Asia's top real estate market in 2013, ahead of cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney in "Emerging Trends in Real Estate - Asia Pacific 2013," a real estate forecast released this week by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Washington D.C.-based Urban Land Institute.
The recommendation to buy into Jakarta-based property may raise eyebrows, but PriceWatershouseCoopers says Indonesia's economic turnaround over the past few years has impressed international investors.
"Interest rates and inflation are under control, and while GDP is growing at around 6.5% annually, foreign direct investment is increasing at a much higher rate—39% in the first half of this year," the survey said. "Driven by increased demand from foreigners and locals alike, office rents shot up 29% year-on-year in the third quarter, according to (property services firm) DTZ."
Hong Kong (CNN) – Nestled within Hong Kong's dense skyscraper jungle, a $640,000 property sits among some of the world's most expensive commercial and residential spaces.
The price might sound like a steal. This Asian financial capital has the world's priciest property, according to Savills. Since the start of 2010, average Hong Kong home prices have doubled.
But the price tag mentioned here is neither for a home nor an office.
It is for a parking space: A slab of undecorated concrete, stained by black motor oil, about 8-feet-by-16-feet in size. Price per square foot: nearly $5,000.
(CNN) – For the first time in three years, India has cut interest rates in the face of flagging economic growth. In the year that ended on March 31, Asia’s third largest economy grew 6.9% – its slowest in three years.
India announced it would cut interest rates by 50 basis points. A 25-point cut had been widely predicted. This takes the subcontinent’s lending rate down from 8.5% to 8%. The hope is that lower interest rates will lower prices and allow more money into India’s economy – thereby encouraging growth.
Right now, signs of sluggishness are easy to spot.
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