Editor's note: CNN is at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Follow CNN's coverage here.
Davos (CNN ) - "The future's bright ... the future's Orange" was the tag line for mobile phone company Orange's UK advertising campaign in the 90s. It was annoying but it caught on, and was regularly co-opted in conversation whenever someone was looking on the dark side of life. FULL POST
On board the California Zephyr (CNN) – Mary Jane Loder is 92 and taking the train from Denver to California; what's more, she is travelling alone.
“Why not?’ she says. Of all the people I have met on the California Zephyr, none has inspired me quite as much as Mary Jane, whom I was privileged to meet in the dining car.
Mary Jane held court at her table. Lively, witty, and with an infectious laugh that had everyone laughing with her; that is until we came to talking about this election. It's the most important, she believes, because of the state of the economy and the level of unemployment among young people. Giving them hope is crucial.
Iowa (CNN) – The face was oh so familiar. The words, I recognized at once. The way they were delivered amplified their significance. This truly was Abraham Lincoln; or in this case, Lance Mack, a Lincoln impersonator addressing a Civil War re-enactment in Bloomfield, Iowa. How appropriate that Honest Abe, arguably America’s greatest president, should be on hand to offer his 19th century wisdom to a 21st century problem.
Mack has an uncanny resemblance to his alter ego. It is more than just the beard. His face, long and languid; the mournful eyes; his stature, reaching way over six foot. All together, along with the top hat and long grey coat, and there, right there, was Abraham Lincoln. His audience, a group of school children, was spellbound. FULL POST
(CNN)– The plain modest clothes; the women in their white head scarves, the men with their braces and beards. They are quiet, polite and keep themselves to themselves. Riding an Amtrak train is a unique opportunity to see the Amish people up close - or at least as close as anyone from so far outside their close knit community is likely to get.
The Amish people reject modern machinery and the motor car, but train travel is acceptable for longer journeys. At a time when just about everyone in America is following the presidential election, this is one group who are letting the event pass them by. They can’t follow it on radio and television as both are forbidden. They don’t really talk about it in their communities. They won’t be voting on November 6.
Far from feeling left out, one young Amish man in Bloomfield, Iowa told me not being involved “feels good.” Levi Miller (pictured above) smiled, “Oh yeah, it really does,” he said. “A lot of things you’d hear about on TV or radio we don’t find out about. So we don’t have that worry of what’s going to happen.” As barely interested observers, would they have any preference at all? “Naturally we would lean Republican. That’s more our thought process.”
Chicago (CNN) – The first clue was in the window. The Obama-Biden poster told me that the Old Ale Town House in Chicago was not going to be a bastion of neutrality. But it got more extreme inside. There we were greeted by a subversive scene of anti-Republican sentiment. Every inch of wall space in this self-styled dive bar, with its local draft ales and a musty sense of history, was covered in bawdy caricatures of famous Republicans. In pride of place above the bar was a naked Sarah Palin, standing proudly on the skin of a polar bear and brandishing a rifle. But considering all this obvious partisan sentiment, the two dozen or so patrons who settled down to watch the vice-presidential debate were remarkably well behaved.
Athens (CNN) - Whichever way the Greek people vote in these elections, there are no easy options for the country. It is almost certain no one party will get a majority – even with the top-up seats given to the front runner.
We are facing days of horse-trading.
The best that can be hoped for is that the leaders of New Democracy and PASOK follow through on the noises they are making. That it is time for unity.
They know what that means. That they are going to have to get into coalition with each other. If they do that, Greece carries on.
However, even if these so-called “sensible parties” get into bed with each other, they will still want to renegotiate the deal with Europe.
Europe will not budge on issues such social security, pensions or privatizations. But they might be willing to talk on deficit targets and taxation levels, for example, given the difficulties created by the recession.
There are 1,001 ways that Greece can stay in the euro. But even if the austerity deal is renegotiated, the Greek people face another three to five years of pain.
(CNN) – Have you noticed the new trend when using debit and credit cards overseas?
We are now frequently being asked if we want to be charged in the local - or destination - currency or if we want to pay in my home currency instead.
Since the bill will eventually be converted to our home currency. I started to wonder the point of this. I knew there had to be a catch to it somewhere, but I couldn't quite work out where!
The tool being used is called Dynamic Currency Conversion and it allows an immediate translation into the final charge you will face in your own familiar currency. It will even print you a receipt with these details.
So why wouldn't everyone do this?
You've guessed it: The exchange rate you get with the converter is not the same as the one you would get should the charge go through the banking system to your home bank.
It may well have been set by the merchant, who now has the ability to change the rate, daily, hourly or whenever they want.
Even worse, the banks involved will probably be charging you a higher commission for the privilege of knowing how much you are paying, which may well be shared with merchant.
So what are the advantages? I know the final amount and I have a receipt detailing this which I can use for my expenses, already in my home currency.
But, since expenses software will usually do the exchange rate calculation for you, or I can submit my credit card bill to show the charge, this seems a fleeting benefit.
I put the two systems to the test recently. I made two withdrawals of CFH50 [$52.30] in Zurich. I chose one to be charged in local Swiss francs and the other in British pounds.
Two days later I compared both charges as they hit my account. In pounds, the conversion was £34.96, nine pence more expensive than taking out the local currency.
For nervous or inexperienced travellers there may be a comfort in having the certainty of knowledge. But I think it is a false security. If they knew they were paying more or getting less, I am pretty sure even the most anxious traveller would decide to keep their more of their own money for themselves.
Dynamic Currency Conversion seems to be just another way to charge us more for the same service. For me, from now on....the rule will be always pay in the local currency.
London (CNN) – I have a confession to make. I don’t like pasties - the rather dry, pastry-heavy snack causing tax troubles for the British government.
Finance minister George Osborne, in a clamp down on VAT avoidance, has decided the tax should now be charged on hot takeaway food. It was obvious from the moment the proposal was announced there would be problems. Buy a pasty, pie or cake and have it served hot - you pay VAT. Take it cold and you don’t.
While the bakers and pie eaters of Britain may be up in arms, anyone who has studied tax knows that these tricky intricacies are inevitable. They happen all the time, especially since snack taxes have been introduced in the U.S. to help prevent obesity. There are even learned journals and articles on the subject.
London (CNN) – I am frequently asked whether I get tired of traveling, all the hassles and difficulties that go with a life on the road. Obviously, sometimes it is physically exhausting, especially when flights are late and the descriptions of hotels are more enthusiastic than accurate. But I never really get tired of the magic and delight of a life on the road.
This has been very much in my mind as we start the new series of CNN Business Traveller.
Ten years after it first took to the air, it is legitimate perhaps to ask, what new there is to report? After all, the show has been to most parts of the world (not all - there are still some notable exceptions) and we have covered everything from the super commuter to traveling women and spent more hours than decent in planes, trains and automobiles.
The fact is there is a huge amount to bring to your screens since the last series ended a couple of years ago. The aftermath of the great recession has led to some significant changes in the past couple of years.
London (CNN) – For the airline industry, it seems barely does one crisis subside than the next rears up. No sooner has the European debt debacle gone to the back-burner - taking away one of the biggest threats to economic growth - than oil price rises become a concern. And it's a worry as big, if not bigger, than the debt crisis.
All the forecasts have been done on the basis of $99 to $100 per barrel of oil. Prices are now more than $120 for Brent and that is hitting airlines hard. For most airlines, more than 30% of revenues are now going on fuel. In some cases, it is the single biggest component.
Tony Tyler, head of IATA, the organization representing aviation, describes airlines as “weak but still profitable.” With prices for oil having risen more than 30% he says airlines are suffering a “double hit.” As ticket prices go up, people travel less. There is a “hit to the revenue line and the cost side,” he notes.
About Business 360
CNN International's business anchors and correspondents get to grips with the issues affecting world business, and they want your questions and feedback.