Economy

4:01am

Sat January 7, 2012
World

Italian Shopkeepers Say 'No, Grazie' To More Hours

Originally published on Sat January 7, 2012 5:50 pm

A butcher shop serves customers in a Rome market on Dec. 31. A new law went into effect in Italy on Jan. 1, allowing shops, cafes and restaurants to stay open 24/7 throughout the year.
Alberto Pizzoli AFP/Getty Images

Italy's new prime minister, technocrat Mario Monti, wants to stimulate growth by boosting productivity and competitiveness. A new law that went into effect Jan. 1 allows shops, cafes and restaurants to stay open 24/7 all year long, holidays included. This deregulation puts Italy ahead of many European countries, but many Italians are resisting.

Friday — the Day of the Epiphany — was the first holiday of the year. In Rome, however, hardly anyone took advantage of the liberalized shop hours.

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1:35pm

Mon January 2, 2012
Economy

Brazil Sets Trade Records, Due To Chinese Demand

Brazil had record trade figures in 2011, logging $256 billion in exports and maintaining a $29.7 billion surplus on the back of high commodity prices and strong Chinese demand, officials said Monday.

Exports to China hit $44.3 billion, an increase of more than 43 percent over 2010. In 2009 China surpassed the U.S. as Brazil's biggest trading partner.

"It was an exceptional year for Brazilian foreign trade," said Alessandro Teixeira, deputy trade minister, who said China represented 17 percent of Brazil's exports.

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1:26pm

Fri December 30, 2011
The Road Back To Work

When The Road Back To Work Detours

Randy Howland works in his small office in March, shortly after he began a work-from-home job with a call center earning $10 an hour.
Tamara Keith NPR

Part of an ongoing series

For the long-term unemployed, getting a job isn't always the end of the story.

Randy Howland spent most of this past year working at a $10-an-hour customer service job. He used to make six figures. With this job, he was settling, just so he could have the satisfaction of working. It was essentially a call-center job.

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12:15pm

Tue December 27, 2011
The Two-Way

Brazil Overtakes U.K. As World's Sixth Biggest Economy

Thousands of people crowd Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as summer gets going in the Southern Hemisphere.
Vanderlei Almeida AFP/Getty Images

Brazil is now the world's sixth biggest economy overtaking the U.K., according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. As the Financial Times puts it, it's another milestone that's part of a larger trend where emerging economies outpace developed ones. China, they report, overtook Japan earlier this year.

The BBC explains:

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10:01pm

Thu December 22, 2011
World

Italians Are Mostly Window Shopping This Christmas

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 8:19 pm

A woman gazes into a shop window in downtown Rome. Due to tough austerity measures, even wealthy Italians are buying less this holiday season.
Max Rossi Reuters

A tour of how Christmas shopping is going in Italy starts with Via Condotti — Rome's premier shopping street.

It features high-end stores like Prada, Gucci, Armani, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Valentino and Ferragamo. But salespeople are standing idly by the door. There's a yawning emptiness in these shops.

Two streets down, the only Christmas sound is a recording of a children's chorus singing "Gloria in Excelsis Deo." But even in a toy store, well-dressed customers leave without buying.

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