Category Archives: 3.Global Perspective News

Oil price risks put inflation back in focus

http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2014/06/22/Oil-price-risks-put-inflation-back-in-focus/

Published: Sunday June 22, 2014 MYT 6:44:00 PM
Updated: Sunday June 22, 2014 MYT 6:47:04 PM

Oil price risks put inflation back in focus

 

BRUSSELS: Iraq will be foremost in investors’ minds in the coming week as oil price risk has returned to markets, complicating the task for central banks whose policies are beginning to diverge for the first time since the global financial crisis.

Oil prices neared nine-month highs late last week, touching $115 a barrel, and the rapid advance of militants in Iraq, the second-largest OPEC producer, is destabilising oil markets.

That has implications for inflation in the United States and Europe, as well as Asia’s export-oriented economies that are large net importers of oil.

Investors will be watching a range of data, from German and Japanese consumer prices to first-quarter U.S. GDP, to see how the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank (ECB), the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan respond.

“Just as oil prices had become increasingly stable, we reckon the risk for an oil price spike is now the highest since the global crisis,” said Christian Keller, an economist at Barclays. “We think a further price spike of 10 to 15 percent from here is not implausible,” he said.

Until now, falling energy prices have partly been responsible for the euro zone’s low level of consumer price inflation, which the ECB considers to be in its “danger zone”.

A rise in the inflation rate would be welcome but economists and the International Monetary Fund believe the ECB still needs to consider U.S.-style money printing to support the bloc.

Euro zone sentiment readings and preliminary purchasing managers’ surveys for June on Monday may give the ECB a sense of how much more help the euro zone economy needs. The recovery from a two-year recession lost pace in April and manufacturing has lost momentum.

Germany’s inflation reading on Friday will give a taste of the euro zone-wide reading that is due the following week.

“Although higher near-term inflation may reduce the likelihood of more ECB easing in the short term, lower economic growth and core inflation down the line would, in fact, support the case for further policy accommodation at a later date,” Luigi Speranza and Gizem Kara of BNP Paribas said in a note.

EU leaders will discuss economic policy at a summit on Thursday and Friday in Brussels.

SOBERING WEEK TO COME?

In the United States, investors will be looking to the third and final reading of U.S. first-quarter GDP figures on Wednesday to see if there is a revision of the 1 percent contraction already printed and which followed disappointing March trade figures.

Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen cited reasons for optimism about the world’s biggest economy last week, including household spending and a better jobs market. Economists generally agree that the effects of unusually bad winter weather will fade later this year.

Core U.S. consumer prices have risen 2 percent over the last year. If the inflation rate went much higher, it would put pressure on the Fed to consider moving to raise rates.

For now though, the impact of events in Iraq and an oil-driven increase in inflation seem to be less pressing for the Fed.

Yellen said interest rates could stay “well below longer-run normal values at the end of 2016”.

Some of America’s largest money managers interpreted her comments as signalling that rates will remain low throughout 2016.

A speech by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser in New York on Tuesday will also be in focus.

“Following last week’s Fed meeting and amid renewed concern over inflation, U.S. news flow might actually be rather sobering,” said Rob Carnell, ING’s chief international economist.

BRITAIN’S STRENGTH

There is also talk of additional stimulus in Japan in the coming months. Japan’s annual exports declined for the first time in 15 months in May, hurting the world’s third-biggest economy just as consumption is being crimped by an increase in national sales tax.

This week, much of the focus will be on core nationwide inflation for May and Toyko’s core reading for June as well as the government’s growth strategy, which is under discussion and may be formally decided by Friday.

The Bank of Japan’s monetary stimulus helped weaken the yen by a fifth last year. But the currency has stabilised this year versus the dollar, limiting gains in the value of exports.

Among other big industrialised powers, first-quarter British GDP on Friday will show a different picture.

Economists polled by Reuters expect growth to be revised up to 0.8 percent due to a better showing from construction.

That would bring annual growth to 3.1 percent, the strongest since before the start of the global financial crisis.

The Bank of England could become the first major central bank to raise interest rates since the crisis.

“Markets now more or less fully price in a 25 basis point rate hike by year-end, consistent with our view,” Michael Saunders and Ann O’Kelly at Citi said in a note. “We expect growth will remain strong even while rates rise.” – Reuters

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IMF triggers house alarm

http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2014/06/21/IMF-triggers-house-alarm-World-financial-body-worried-about-rising-property-prices-in-many-countries/

 

Published: Saturday June 21, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Saturday June 21, 2014 MYT 11:39:45 AM

IMF triggers house alarm

Is Malaysia faced with the risk of a housing market bubble?

Is Malaysia faced with the risk of a housing market bubble?

THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has sounded the alarm of another potentially devastating housing crash given that house prices are still well above their historical average in many countries in relation to incomes and rentals. The world financial body says the situation has emerged as one of the biggest threats to economic stability.

Indisputably, the many trillions in quantitative easing (QE) money launched by the United States in recent years and record low interest rates are among the contributors for the sharp hikes in property prices in many parts of the world today.

Is Malaysia faced with a risk of a housing market bubble and should we be worried of a potentially damaging burst of the bubble given that the inflated property prices seen in the last two years may not be sustainable?

Borrowing the definition of a property bubble from the internet site, Investopedia which is dedicated to investment education, National House Buyers Association (HBA) honorary secretary-general Chang Kim Loong says there is a risk of a property bubble in Malaysia as property prices have increased rapidly in the past four to five years, and excessive speculation in the property market has driven property prices to “its current artificially high level.”

According to Investopedia, a property bubble is a situation that shows a run-up in housing prices fueled by demand, speculation and the belief that recent history is an infallible forecast of the future.

Chang says in the event borrowers could not afford to pay their mortgage instalments and the banks are forced to auction off their properties, “there is a risk a property bubble in Malaysia can burst, just like what happened during the sub-prime crisis in the US.”

 

Chang Kim Loong is the honorary secretary-general of the National House Buyers Association.He is also a Councillor at MPSJ. He also has a column at Star Publications.

Chang: Excessive speculation in the property market has driven property prices to ‘its current artificially high level.’

“Skyrocketing house prices have forced house buyers to take back-breaking mortgages which have left many borrowers with little or no savings after deducting the monthly instalments and other basic necessities. Many borrowers need to combine their income in order to qualify for a mortgage, and this has placed the family at risk as the family could fall into a deficit situation if any sudden emergencies happen to either of the borrowers,” he points out.

However, Chang qualifies his outlook by saying that as long as Malaysia’s economy holds and there is no downturn, the bubble will not burst.

“Malaysia is still a young country with high demand for housing and coupled with urban migration, there is still a strong demand. But the question is whether this group of genuine buyers can afford the properties that they want.

“Although the frenzied escalation of house prices have somewhat slowed down, overall house prices have not gone down,” Chang observes.

DTZ Nawawi Tie Leung executive director Brian Koh says the fact that housing prices have jumped 15%-20% in the last two years are actually emerging signs of a housing market bubble, but he acknowledges the fact that “a property bubble can only be recognised and confirmed as one after it has happened.”

However, Knight Frank Malaysia managing director Sarkunan Subramaniam believes the property market is still resilient and with the market cooling measures introduced by the Government, “there will not be a property bubble like a massive property price correction but only a mild price correction of the property market.”

Sarkunan says Malaysia and the other South-East Asia countries have been the bright spots for economic growth and investment returns, and in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, they have attracted encouraging levels of investments that have also boosted their property markets leading to sharp hikes in prices.

“The governments in these countries have acted responsibly by implementing various measures to cool their property markets, averting potential property bubbles.

Despite the recent scale-back in quantitative easing by the US (leading to large reversals of capital flows), Malaysia’s economy is expected to remain fairly resilient supported by a strong banking system.”

Sarkunan says if there is a property bubble, “it is not brewing across the board but only in selected regions or locations, and in certain property segment, category and type, where there are more speculative activities and over-building.”

“A property bubble is akin to having an elephant in the room. We really need to acknowledge that in some areas, the elephant is getting bigger. But the market appears to be self-correcting. Developers are holding back their launches amid weaker market sentiment and revisiting their development plans to cater to current market demand and trend,” he adds.

Concurring with Sarkunan, CB Richard Ellis Malaysia executive director Paul Khong does not envisage any serious bubble in the market, especially this year, and further expects the market to continue to march ahead towards the second half of the year.

“The first half of 2014 has been relatively quiet as predicted earlier, as the property market has been absorbing the market cooling measures silently hoping for some good news. We currently see the secondary market becoming slightly active and prices in select locations are now looking relatively attractive,” Khong says.

Malaysia’s strong economic strength endorsed by World Bank and Moody’s

http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2013/12/10/Strong-economy-ratified-Husni-Minister-says-nations-strength-endorsed-by-World-Bank-report-and-Moody.aspx

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s strong economic and financial situation has been ratified by the World Bank’s Doing Business 2014 report and international ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service, according to Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah.

In the Doing Business 2014 report, the country jumped to sixth spot from 12th position in 2013, showing the Government’s commitment to enhancing the delivery system’s efficiency and transparency, he said when tabling the 2014 Supply Bill at the Senate yesterday.

In November, Moody’s upgraded Malaysia’s sovereign credit outlook to “positive” from “stable”, he said, adding that 2014 promised better global economic prospects, with Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) projected to grow by 5% to 5.5%, from 4.5% to 5% in 2013 and the Federal Government’s revenue collection estimated to rise to around RM224.1bil.

“Taking into account the estimated revenue and expenditure, the Federal Government’s deficit will continue to decline to 3.5% of GDP in 2014, from 4% in 2013.

“This shows the Government’s commitment to continuing to further reduce the fiscal deficit to a lower level, thus strengthening the country’s finances,” he said, adding that private investment’s 16.7% contribution to GDP in 2013 was expected to expand to 17.9% in 2014. – Bernama

World’s 12 best shopping cities ( 4th Kuala Lumpur )

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/18/travel/worlds-best-shopping-cities/index.html

World’s 12 best shopping cities

By Violet Kim, for CNN
November 26, 2013 — Updated 1331 GMT (2131 HKT)
Where the most credit card transactions per person takes place -- read: serious shopping addictions. While foreign luxury goods tend to get a hefty mark up, local boutiques tend to be cheap and very chic. Where the most credit card transactions per person takes place — read: serious shopping addictions. While foreign luxury goods tend to get a hefty mark up, local boutiques tend to be cheap and very chic.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Quadrilatero della Moda in Milan is considered the world’s most important fashion district
  • Three of the world’s 10 largest malls are in Kuala Lumpur
  • The ultimate Tokyo shopping experience is the department store

(CNN) — From a shopper’s perspective, frequent traveling can be crippling. It can get worse in the holiday season where Christmas dominates many people’s calendars. Why buy something in one city when a trip to a better shopping city is coming up?

To pinpoint which cities around the world deliver the most gratifying, enjoyable shopping experiences, we consulted global experts, such as fashion merchandising firm Donegar Creative Services and Marie Bergfelt, senior spokesperson for Global Blue, which publishes the Globe Shopper City Index.

Then we judged cities in four areas, using a one-to-10 scoring scale for each category:

1. Getting around: Quality of public transportation, affordability and availability of cabs, transport time

2. Value: Bargain opportunities, such as sale seasons and average prices.

3. Variety: Number of available brands, range of shopping categories, quantity of upscale shops, department stores, boutique and vintage retailers and market stalls.

4. Experience: City beauty, quality of window displays and shop décor, friendliness and competence of clerks and service staff, dining and accommodation options.

Then we charged into the breach.

Lotte Department Store in the Myeongdong district is one of Seoul\'s most insanely popular shopping centers.
Lotte Department Store in the Myeongdong district is one of Seoul’s most insanely popular shopping centers.

12. Seoul

Getting around: 4 Value: 7 Variety: 4 Experience: 6 Total: 21

Fact: South Korea has a serious addiction to shopping. The most serious in the world, in fact.

South Korea recorded more credit card transactions per person than any other country in 2011, and all merchants are required by law to accept credit cards no matter how low the price. Yes, that means the phrase “cash only, please” is technically illegal.

This translates to a capital city bursting with shops of a dizzying array of types and sizes, from LED-fish-scale-studded luxury department stores to towering all-nighter shopping malls to trendy street carts, which all reflect the ever-changing hottest item of the moment.

While foreign luxury goods tend to get a hefty mark-up (except at the airport, which boasts the first Louis Vuitton airport duty free store, as well as cheap prices for most foreign brands), local boutiques tend to be cheap and chic.

The city also has a good mix of the old and new, according to the Globe Shopper Index, which recommends the Seoul Folk Flea Market, Namdaemun Market and Gyeongdong Market for a shopping spree of more traditional goods.

Whip out the plastic at:

Seoul’s trendiest late-night shopping mall: Doota, 18-12 Euljiro 6-ga, Jung-gu; +82 2 3398 3333; Tuesday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.- 5 a.m., Monday 7 p.m.-5 a.m., Sunday 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m.

Lotte Department Store flagship,1 Sogong-dong, Jung-gu; +82 2 771 2500; 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.

Garosugil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu (shop-lined trendy street), accessible via subway from Sinsa Station (Subway Line 3)

10 Corso Como, B1F Trinity Building, 79 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu; +82 70 7098 0010

Read: 10 hot South Korean fashion brands

11. Milan

Getting around: 5 Value: 5 Variety: 4 Experience: 8 Total: 22

Home to many of fashion’s biggest names such as Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace, it’s little wonder this beautiful city is full of glamorous locals and shops that cater to them.

One of the most beautiful (if expensive) shopping experiences can be found at Quadrilatero della Moda or Quadrilatero d’Oro (‘rectangle of gold’), which many fashion insiders consider is the world’s most important fashion district.

The interwoven pedestrian streets are lined with jewelers, boutiques and lifestyle showrooms that make for great window shopping.

While the boutiques cater to the alligator-bag-and-black-card-toting crowd, luckily for bargain shoppers, yesterday’s styles are tossed aside so fast, outlets and sales racks are always full.

Il Salvagente (“the lifesaver”), Milan’s best known and longest established outlet, has three floors of goods discounted up to 60%, all organized by size and color.

No one back home needs to know it was bought at an outlet mall — Milan fashions are always months ahead of the trends elsewhere.

Whip out the plastic at:

Quadrilatero d’Oro, between via Montenapoleone, via Borgospesso, via Della Spiga and via Sant’ Andrea, Milan

Il Salvagente, Via Fratelli Bronzetti 16, 20129 Milan; +39 02 7611 0328; Monday 3 p.m.-7 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Read: 15 hautest stays: designer-branded hotels

10. Madrid

Getting around: 6 Value: 6 Variety: 4 Experience: 7 Total: 23

Madrid mostly gets our credit cards warm simply for being Madrid, though it’s worth noting that the city ranks third for best prices on general luxury items in the Globe Shopper Index.

But we can’t wow our friends with statistics (not our shopping friends, anyway), so what about the goods?

When searching for items unique to Madrid, we fell in love with Capas Seseña.

Established in 1901, the shop sells traditional wool and cotton velvet capes for men and women. The clientele includes Pierce Brosnan and Hillary Clinton. Picasso was reportedly buried in his cape from the store.

Casa de Diego stocks souvenir-worthy fans, mantillas, ornamental combs and even castanets. But what we really wanted to take home was one of its work-of-art statement umbrellas with engraved silver handle (€325/US$415).

Whip out the plastic at:

Capas Seseña, Calle de la Cruz, 23, 28012 Madrid, Community of Madrid; +34 915 316 840; Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-2 p.m., 5-8:15 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-8 p.m.

Casa de Diego, Puerta del Sol, 12. 28013 Madrid; +34 91 522 66 43; Monday-Saturday 9:45 a.m.-8 p.m.

Read: Insider Guide: Best of Madrid

Dubai Shopping Festival 2014 will run from Jan 2-Feb 2.
Dubai Shopping Festival 2014 will run from Jan 2-Feb 2.

9. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Getting around: 6 Value: 6 Variety: 8 Experience: 4 Total: 24

A miniature kingdom unto itself, the Dubai Mall is the world’s largest mall in total area, with theme parks, a waterfall, “dancing” fountains, Olympic-sized ice rink, aquarium, indoor souk and malls within the mall, such as the Galeries Lafayette from France and the first Bloomingdale’s outside the United States.

If that isn’t enough cash registers, there’s also the Mall of the Emirates, with the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East.

The Dubai Mall also hosts the annual Dubai Shopping Festival in January and February. We assume it’s called a festival because they have fireworks, but it’s really about package deals and discounts — up to 70% on electronics, clothing and popular items.

The 2014 Festival starts January 2 and runs until February 2.

Whip out the plastic at:

Dubai Mall, Doha Street, Dubai; +971 4 362 7500; Monday-Wednesday and Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Thursday-Friday 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m.

Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha 3, Dubai; +971 4 377 2000; Sunday-Wednesday 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m.-midnight

Read: Best of Dubai

8. Vienna

Getting around: 6 Value: 8 Variety: 3 Experience: 8 Total: 25

With some of the earliest closing hours out of all the cities on the Globe Shopper Index, Vienna is tricky for shopping.

Total buzz kill, right?

But it also has some of the best values in Europe, coming in second on the Index for total cost of luxury items.

At the centuries-old Naschmarkt, shoppers can eat their way along 1.5 kilometers of 120 food vendors flogging local eats from kaiserschmarrn (dessert pancakes) and crepe-like palatschinke to exotic cheeses and seafood.

Read: Vienna’s stylish hotel boom

During Christmas season, they can browse through glass baubles and handcrafted ornaments while sipping on glühwein at Vienna’s venerable and gloriously lit Christmas markets, the Platonic ideal of a fairy tale Christmas.

That’s good for an extra “Experience” point and an eighth-place finish.

Whip out the plastic at:

Naschmarkt, 1060 Vienna; +43 1 5463405430; Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Saturday 6 a.m.-6 p.m.

The Viennese Christmas Market by City Hall runs November 17 to December 24. Rathausplatz, 1010 Vienna; Sunday-Thursday 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m., December 24 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

7. Buenos Aires

Getting around: 6 Value: 8 Variety: 6 Experience: 7 Total: 27

Sexy Argentine dance moves + sexy Argentine climate = sexy Argentine shopping.

Yes, the formula sort of sometimes works like that, especially when you’re stalking high-quality leather at affordable prices.

Established in Buenos Aires in 1952, Mocasines Guido sells leather shoes for men; today there are three locations in Buenos Aires.

Calle Murillo is a street with leather shops that also offer tailoring services. Murillo 666 is perhaps the best known, but about 50 more surround it, a handy surfeit of shops come haggle time.

Whip out the plastic at:

Moscasines Guido, Rodríguez Peña 1290, Buenos Aires; +54 11 4813 4095; open Monday-Friday 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Murillo 666, Murilla 66, Villa Crespo, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires Province; +54 11 4856 4501; open Monday-Saturday 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Read: Insider Guide: Best of Buenos Aires

In Hong Kong, shopping doesn\'t really start until the evening.
In Hong Kong, shopping doesn’t really start until the evening.

6. Hong Kong

Getting around: 10 Value: 5 Variety: 6 Experience: 7 Total: 28

Hong Kong‘s shop clerks are borderline stalkers — in a good way.

If you don’t know where you’re going, they’ll follow you around till you find it. If you don’t know what you want, they’ll tell you.

But the obsessive help can come in handy, especially if it leads to a world-class bargain.

According to Global Shopper City Index research, 87 percent of Hong Kong tourists shop, and “76 percent of shopping tourists expressed above-average satisfaction on value for money in 2011.” Small wonder that Hong Kong also claims the title of best Asian shopping city in the Index.

Read: The ultimate Hong Kong shopping guide: Causeway Bay

For a bespoke shopping experience that involves local color, we hit up individual boutiques.

Fang Fong Projects in Central stocks womenswear from local label Fang Fong, which is like a Shanghai Tang that you’d actually wear often — modern clothes with tasteful Asian touches.

Frequented by celebrities, KniQ stocks one-of-a-kind items like artfully ripped stockings (HK$320/US$41), and a selection of jumpsuits for men that costs upward of HK$2,000 ($250).

Whip out the plastic at:

KniQ, Shop 4B, Vienna Mansion, 55 Paterson St, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong; +852 2881 7903; Monday-Saturday 2-10 p.m., Sunday 2-9 p.m.

Fang Fong Projects, 67A Peel St., Central, Hong Kong; +852 3105 5557; open daily 2-8 p.m.

The hippest district in town: The likes of WDSG, Kapok, Club Monaco Men’s Store, Monocle are found in in Star Street Precinct in Wanchai (Star Street, Moon Street, Sun Street) and St. Francis Yard.

5. Paris

Getting around: 6 Value: 6 Variety: 8 Experience: 9 Total: 29

The best shops in Paris don’t sell clothes. They sell lifestyles.

Whimsical concept shop Merci stocks a selection of designer goods that fall under the category of utterly useless but absolutely desirable, such as art deco Bakelite switches. It’s housed in an airy and vaguely bucolic space that includes a secondhand bookshop, florist and café. In addition to the Annick Goutal scent line, Merci stocks apparel by Stella McCartney and Yves St Laurent, often with deep discounts.

Read: Best of Paris shopping: The street market guide

Colette offers reduced prices on designer goods. Then again, if you’re like us, whatever you save on a Fendi dress might be spent on stylin’ necessities like a bottle of Bling H2O, which comes in a frosted glass bottle decorated with Swarovski crystals. It’s available for about US$50 at the downstairs “water bar,” which has more than 70 brands of bottled water.

And, of course, there’s the holy trinity of Parisian department stores:

Le Bon Marché dates to the 1850s. It’s famed for a monster section of gourmet food (5,000 choices strong).

Printemps has the world’s largest beauty department. This year the store is partnering with Christian Dior for an exclusive line.

Extravagant Galeries Lafayette is housed in a seven-story art nouveau structure with an entire floor dedicated to lingerie. Every Friday at 3 p.m. there’s a free fashion show with English commentary. Reservations required, either by emailing welcome@galerieslafayette.com or calling +33 1 42 82 36 40.

Whip out the plastic at:

Le Bon Marché, 24, rue de Sèvres, Seventh Arrondissement, Paris; +33 1 44 39 80 00; Monday-Wednesday, Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Thursday-Friday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Printemps, 64, boulevard Haussmann, Ninth Arrondissement, Paris; +33 1 4282 5000; Monday-Saturday 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. except for Thursday open 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

Galeries Lafayette, 40, boulevard Haussmann, Ninth Arrondissement, Paris; +33 1 4282 3456; Monday-Wednesday, Friday-Saturday 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Thursday 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Merci, 111, boulevard Beaumarchais, Third Arrondissement, Paris; +33 1 42 77 00 33; Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Colette, 213, rue St.-Honoré, First Arrondissement, Paris; +33 1 55 35 33 90; Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

4. Kuala Lumpur

Getting around: 6 Value: 10 Variety: 8 Experience: 6 Total: 30

Sometimes bigger really is better.

That’s the prevailing shopper’s ethic in Kuala Lumpur, anyway.

Three of the world’s 10 largest malls are in KL, including 1 Utama, the world’s fourth-largest mall with more than 650 shops, Asia’s largest indoor rock climbing facility, massive rooftop garden with 500 species of exotic plants and indoor rainforest with koi ponds and freshwater aquarium.

KL’s impressive score comes from its winning combination of high quality shopping, affordable prices and reliable sales, which can stretch for several months. This year’s Year-End-Sale, from November 10 to January 1, is just one doozy of an example.

Whip out the plastic at:

1 Utama, 1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama City Centre, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan; +60 3 7710 8118; open daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Local designer Peter Hoe’s store in KL’s historical building: Peter Hoe Beyond, 145 Jaan Tun HS Lee, Kuala Lumpur, +60 3 2026 9788, open daily 10 a.m.- 7 p.m.

Quirky Brown Cow, Lot 23-1, Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur; +603 2201 0212, Monday-Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Read: Insider Guide: Best of Kuala Lumpur

3. London

Getting around: 6 Value: 6 Variety: 10 Experience: 9 Total: 31

London prices can destroy your will to live. And that’s just the cab fare to get to the shopping areas.

But get over the sticker shock and you’ll probably agree with its Globe Shopper Index ranking as top European shopping city and its Donegar Group nod as the world’s top fashion shopping destination.

The Globe Shopper City Index notes that London outstrips all the other European cities in both the quantity of shops and availability of international and local brands.

London shopping at its best is bold, eclectic and international. Case in point: department store Liberty.

Liberty may have a Tudor-style exterior and fireplaces, but its stock is contemporary and cool, encompassing in-house designer stationary, clever kitchen accessories to upstage your neighbors and clothes from a select pool of local and international designers.

Of course, you might end up with a £245 (US$390) Mathieu Challières Mini Volière Bird Cage Table Lamp, but that’s the black magic of a wonderful shop — it inspires you to buy things you never knew existed.

Whip out the plastic at:

Liberty, Great Marlborough Street, London, +44 20 7734 1234; open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday noon-6 p.m.

London’s most fashion forward market: Dover Street Market, 17-17 Dover St., London W1S 4LT; +44 20 7518 0680; open Monday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m.

2. Tokyo

Getting around: 8 Value: 8 Variety: 9 Experience: 9 Total: 34

The ultimate Tokyo shopping experience is the department store. Walk into one and you’ll be met like a royal.

Global chain Isetan has its mammoth flagship store in Shinjuku, eight separate buildings stretched along two blocks. Isetan has English, Chinese and Korean-speaking staff and a personalized interpretation service, as well as shopping consultants who will advise you on everything from shoes to fish, all available through reservation (+81 3 3225 2514).

A foodie heaven, the basement has dainty Japanese bento boxes as well as French pastries and macaroons. When shopping for clothes you can take a break from the international luxury brands on stock to try on some kimonos.

Tokyo’s shopping is also surprisingly affordable, according to the Globe Shopper City Index, with Asia’s fourth-cheapest shopping, and the cheapest average price for a Canon EOS 600D body.

Read: Best Tokyo shopping streets

All this too tame? No worries, Tokyo still gets its freak on. Shops like the seven-story M’s: Pop Life Sex Department Store sell creative toys such as you’ve never seen and we prefer not to describe in front of our impressionable interns.

Whip out the plastic at:

Comme des Garçons, 5-2-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo; +81 3 3406 3951; open daily 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

M’s: Pop Life Sex Department Store, 1-15-13 Soukanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo,; +81 3 3252 6166; open daily 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

Isetan Shijuku flagship, 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; +81 3 3352 1111; open daily 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

NYC during Christmas time: The most glamorous window displays in the world.
NYC during Christmas time: The most glamorous window displays in the world.

1. New York

Getting around: 8 Value: 7 Variety: 10 Experience: 10 Total: 35

In what other city do you see a toddlers running around in perfectly matching Tory Burch ballet flats and tiny purses or be able to go on curated vintage shopping sprees?

“This town has so much diversity in style and interpretations of chic,” says New York-based fashion editor and stylist Stella Lee.

For something you can’t simply Google up, Lee recommends vintage showroom Rare Vintage for “anyone who is visiting and in search of a shopping gem unique to NYC.”

“You can find pieces from every possible era spanning the entire last century of fashion history, and from a wide range of design houses including the likes of Galanos, Dior, Givenchy, Ungaro, Pierre Cardin, Ossie Clark, and more,” says Lee.

If you have the stamina to get up at ungodly hours for the city’s sample sale stampedes, New York Magazine has a comprehensive guide.

Whip out the plastic at:

Rare Vintage, 24 West 57th St., New York; +1 212 581 7273; open Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

From vintage collectibles to local art and crafts: Brooklyn Flea (Fort Greene Flea), 176 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, open Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., (moves to 1 Hanson Place at Ashland Pl., Fort Greene from November 24 to April)

Read: 6 exclusively New York shopping experiences

What’s your favorite shopping city? Let us know in the comments.

Originally published November 2012; updated November 2013.

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Global house prices Location, location, location

http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/11/global-house-prices

Global house prices

Location, location, location

Our interactive guide to the world’s housing markets

Audio and Video content on Economist.com requires a browser that can handle iFrames.

THE house-price boom that preceded the financial crisis was remarkable for its scope and scale. With few exceptions, there seemed only one way for prices to go: up. Things have been more diverse since then. In The Economist‘s latest round-up of house prices, residential property markets continue to go in different directions. Emerging economies have taken a knock recently but that has yet to show up in home prices which are generally rising rapidly—though Brazil’s house-price growth has slowed from 20% a year ago to 12%. America’s once-stricken housing market is now in much better health. Prices have risen by 12% in the past year though that pace may now slacken following a sharp rise in mortgage rates since the spring. Buoyed by government schemes to subsidise mortgage funding costs and to help low-deposit buyers, the British market is picking up even though its fundamentals—unlike America’s—suggest continued overvaluation. House prices are falling in Japan and much of the euro area, notably in the bailed-out economies of southern Europe but also in northern creditor countries like the Netherlands. Outside Europe, Canada’s market looks particularly vulnerable to a housing bust owing to particularly overstretched valuations. See full article.

The Economist has been publishing data on global house prices since 2002. The interactive tool above (updated August 29th 2013) enables you to compare nominal and real house prices across 21 markets over time. And to get a sense of whether buying a property is becoming more or less affordable, you can also look at the changing relationships between house prices and rents, and between house prices and incomes. 

Explanation:
This interactive chart uses five different measures:
• House-price index—rebased to 100 at a selected date and in nominal terms only.
• Prices in real terms—again rebased to 100 for the selected date, but the index is deflated by consumer prices to take account of the effects of inflation on purchasing power.
• Prices against average income—compares house prices against average incomes in each country, rebased to 100 at the selected date.
• Prices against rents—compares the relationship between the costs of buying and renting, rebased to 100 at the selected date.
• Percentage change (in real terms)—shows the increase or decrease in real prices between two selected dates.

Notes:
The data presented are quarterly, often aggregated from monthly indices. In two countries (Italy and Japan), where data are only available every six months, linear growth is assumed between the intervening quarters. When comparing data across countries, the interactive chart will only display the range of dates available for all the countries selected.

David Beckham to make property debut in Singapore

Nov 28, 2013 – PropertyGuru.com.sg

Integrated resorts developer Las Vegas Sands has announced that it’s joining forces with former football superstar David Beckham’s company Beckham Ventures, to develop the resort properties in Singapore and Macao.

This partnership will see the development of retail, leisure and dining concepts at Marina Bay Sands Singapore and Sands China properties in Macao.

“We are very excited about the partnership and we fully expect it to grow in the years to come, especially as we aggressively explore opportunities to further expand our presence in Asia,” said Michael Leven, President and CEO at Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Responding, Beckham said: “The Sands team has created amazing resorts in Singapore and Macao. The scale, vision and calibre in all that they do is impressive. I am very excited to be working with them to develop a range of new business ideas in a part of the world that I love spending time in and is full of optimism and growth.”

Beckham had previously worked with Marina Bay Sands for its annual charity event Sands for Singapore Festival, which aims to raise funds for charities like Art Outreach Singapore and the Singapore Association for the Deaf.

He joins a list of Western celebrities keen to make their mark at Marina Bay Sands. The Singapore landmark already boasts various celebrity and Michelin-starred restaurants by Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud, Mario Batali and Guy Savoy.

Photo: Marina Bay Sands President and CEO, George Tanasijevich; Football Superstar, David Beckham; and Sands China President and CEO, Edward Tracy. (Source: Las Vegas Sands Corp.)

 

Nikki De Guzman, Junior Journalist at PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact her about this or other stories email nikki@propertyguru.com.sg

 

World Bank lowers 2013 Malaysian GDP forecast to 4.3%

World Bank lowers 2013 Malaysian GDP forecast to 4.3%

Posted on October 8, 2013 – Property News.

PETALING JAYA: The World Bank is downgrading Malaysia’s growth for 2013 due to the weaker economic activities in the first half of the year.

The Washington DC-based international financial institution said in the twice-yearly East Asia and Pacific economic update that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year might come in at 4.3% or 0.8 percentage points lower than the April estimate.

However, it expects an improvement in Malaysia’s growth in the second half of the year on an anticipated bottoming-out of external demand and an increase in confidence in the recovery of advanced economies.

Malaysia’s GDP growth slowed in the first half of 2013 largely on account of weak external demand.

The World Bank said the impact of further fiscal consolidation and possibly tighter credit conditions on domestic demand would weigh on the growth outlook in 2014 and 2015.

“Domestic demand will start facing headwinds from fiscal consolidation earlier and more extensively than previously anticipated, although investment growth should retain some momentum given the extended implementation period of many ongoing projects,” it said.

It added that the improved external environment would partly mitigate those headwinds.

“While consumption growth is expected to pick up modestly in 2015 as the effects of fiscal consolidation start to wear out, growth in capital formation is expected to slow further, while still remaining at elevated levels compared to pre-2008 levels.

“An acceleration of Malaysia’s structural reform agenda could present upside risks to the 2015 forecasts.”

It expects fiscal policy to remain on track for consolidation through 2015, with the goal of reaching a deficit of 3% of GDP.

“This will require that the government adopt a medium-term perspective to fiscal policy and a commitment to controlling emoluments and supplies and services as well as continued efforts to raise non-oil tax revenues.

“Under current baseline assumptions, the deficit is expected to narrow from 4.1% in 2013 to 3.6% in 2014 and 3.3% in 2015. On the external side, the current account surplus is expected to narrow to 3.4% of GDP in 2013.”

“GDP expanded 4.2% in the first six months compared to 5.9% in the previous six months (2.5% compared to 6% on a sequential or seasonally adjusted annual rate basis).

“On the demand side, the weakness can be attributed primarily to exports, whereas domestic demand remained robust, with the value added produced and absorbed domestically expanding by a faster rate in the first half of 2013 compared to the previous six months (9.3% compared to 8.8%).”