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tv   World Business Today  CNN  December 23, 2011 4:00am-5:00am EST

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we, all of us have an obligation to make sure it remains as true for the next generation and the generation after that as it was for all of us. >> tom brokaw, it's been a pleasure. thank you very much. >> my pleasure, piers. that's all for us tonight. hello, i'm monita rajpal at cnn london. here are the top stories this hour. a series of strong earthquakes rocked the new zealand city of christchurch. many stores were packed with christmas shoppers when the first tremor hit earlier this friday. only two people were reported injured. the airport was evacuated and power is still out in parts of the city. in our other main story this hour, the man who led the velvet revolution is being laid to rest. former president of the czech republic will receive full state honors at his funeral today. we are joined live from prague
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with more on that, atika shubert. >> reporter: we are expecting heads of state, heads of government and personal friends of pavel to come today, many dissidents who were in prison with him when he was jailed by the communist regime here. we had an extraordinary sight here at the grounds of prague castle last night. we saw tens of thousands of people coming to pay their last respects to vaclav havel, putting flowers by his coffin. it was an extraordinary scene when people talked about how much he men the to them and how he represented freedom. >> and atika, in terms of the kind of legacy he leaves behind, what are people saying was his biggest impact? >> reporter: they say, of course, his biggest impact was simply leaving the velvet
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revolution here in the czech republic, that peaceful transition away from that authoritarian communist regime to democracy as he, of course, became the first president of the czech republic. his influence is much wider than simply here in the czech republic. politicians, human rights organizations around the world credit him with really leading that sort of -- that idealistic human rights movement and bringing it into the real world of politics. he was that rare combination as being able to make idealism a reality. >> all right. atika, thank you very much. we will bring you more on the funeral of vaclav havel coming up on "world one" here on cnn. those are the top stories. i'm monita rajpal. "world business today" starts right now. hello and a happy festive friday for you from cnn london,
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i'm nina dos santos. >> and hello from cnn hong kong, i'm pauline chiou. this is "world business today." the top stories on this friday, december 23rd. less merriment for an economy this holiday season. we'll tell you what lawmakers are giving millions of american workers this year. and last-minute christmas shopping interrupted in new zealand. christchurch is shaken again by a series of earthquakes. first up, on the last trading day before the festive season kicks off, there's a little bit of christmas cheer on the world stock market. this is largely thanks to encouraging jobs data coming out of the united states and also rising consumer confidence there. this is the picture across europe. we have seen these markets starting out in significant positive territory. they are managing to hold on to that kind of positive momentum.
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these are the kind of things that are moving the markets where i am and largely they focus on what's beginning on on the other side of the atlantic and namely what went on in yesterday's trading session, in particular, news that u.s. jobless claims were down. also today we're expecting more economic statistics out in the form of, we have a series of reports in the united states showing perhaps that higher personal spending was seen over the last month and that durable goods orders and new home sales in november could be slightly better than expected. we've also got relief thanks to that payroll tax deal reached in washington, finally and that we're eventually getting to the enof what has been for these equity markets, frankly, a pretty horrible year. we have begans on the cac current, cac 40 in paris. these are up 0.8% despite the fact that we had news that the
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gdp was moved downward. nina, here in asia there were pretty solid gains on friday. the tokyo stock exchange was closed today for a holl do i for the emperor's birthday. elsewhere, green arrows across the board. the shanghai composite pulled off a gain for the first time this week. the s&p asx 200 in sydney was also in positive territory even though they had a shortened trading day before this long holiday weekend. the hang seng and the seoul kospi up by more than 1%. asia was responding to the better-than-expected u.s. jobs number that nina mentioned and hopes to are an american recovery. trading was pretty thin, thanks to seasonal effects going into the christmas holiday and the new year. there were solid gains among resources and financial stocks. biggest winner of the day was gloucester coal, which leaped more than 21% after its top
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shareholder gave the nod to its sale to china's yungcho coal itself. they gained 6%. hsb up 1.5% and ang banking group by a similar amount in sydney. nina? there's no denying that 2011 hasn't been the best of years for europe. it seems things got a little bit worse. moody's ratings agency has given slovenia a christmas present this country really could have done without. it downgraded the country's credit rating by one notch from aa-3 to a-1. moody's highlighted and particular concerns over the banking sector as well as limited growth opportunities in that country. all of this comes on back of another downgrade. we're talking about hungary's downgrade by standard & poors on wednesday. this particular ratings agency
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cut hungary to junk status or speculative grade, less than a month after moody's took the same decision for this country. perhaps understandably the man on the street is far from happy and in keeping with the theme for the year, hungarians are, it seems, once again protesting. head of the economics unit for hungary's lmp political party told us where the problems stem from. take a listen. >> i think it starts with the financially unsustainable measures which created a precarious situation with the budget. and i think one of the top causes is the new taxation system which created a deficit of around 500 billion. the government had unorthodox
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steps to create new budgetary incomes. >> one of the reasons why hungary is so much in focus of late is because we have a series of crucial votes going on in its parliament over the next two weeks to come. it's not just financial woes that are hitting eastern europe's most heavily indebted nations. they are being met by members of the opposition party, trying to persuade them not to vote on new controversial constitutional reforms proposed by this man. his man is victor orban, he's been a prime minister since april 201. as matthew chance reports with be there are changes that some see as an attack on democracy in hungary. >> reporter: it may have escaped much international attention but the nation of hungary appears on a dangerous path. critics accuse the ruling party there of undermining democracy, making constitutional changes more suited to an authoritarian
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regime than a member of the european union. >> this process started years ago when the current government got into power. they are systematically dismounting checks and balances and institutions. recently there was a bill introduced in the parliament to curb the independence of the central bank, that was most alarming. >> reporter: it's that concern in financial markets that brought the issue of hungary to the fore. the europe onunian union and th imf -- and while the concerns are spilling out on to the streets. the prime minister is accused of heightening his grip on power by installing loyal judges in the country's court and curbing media freedom. the government says it's merely
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following through on its selection promises to sweep away the old order. in a statement to cnn, a senior hungarian official blamed opposition parties for driving the country, quote, to the brink of economic and political collapse. when changes are complete, the statement says, there will be nothing to fear. hungarian democracy continues, is alive and kicking. it seems increasingly fragile and authoritarianism in the heart of europe may be on the rise. matthew chance, cnn, london. >> hungary has had some mixed economic fortunes for some time now. but it really is the suddenness of this that's caught many by surprise. if you want to read more about it, check out my blog at
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u.s. stock markets ended a quiet session on a high note on thursday. a stronger than expected reading on unemployment, those weekly jobless claims gave investor sentiment a nice little lift. here's how the numbers settled by the end of the session. the dow rose more than 0.5%, the nasdaq by more than 0.8% and the broader s&p 500 up by the same amount as the nasdaq. let's look at u.s. markets and friday's session. actually we'll move on to the next story. the u.s. markets may be given a boost by the news from washington. now, after weeks of a standoff, republican party legislators in the house of representatives have finally agreed to extent a payroll tax cut for 160 million working americans. here's some of the information here as we pull that up. lawmakers left it until the last minute to approve almost the
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exact same deal they rejected just a few days ago. now, as a result, this is what's going to happen. american workers won't have to fork over an extra $40 a month or so to the tax man. and around 6 million jobless americans won't lose their unemployment benefits. after his party's turnaround, house republican leader john boehner put a brave face on things. >> it may not have been politically the smartest thing in the world but let me tell you what, i think our members waged a good fight. we were able to come to an agreement. we were able to fix what came out of the senate. >> now, the cut had overwhelming support across both parties in the u.s. senate. now, its extension for another two months will buy some time for the senator and u.s. representatives to hammer out the details of how to fund this tax cut for the rest of 2012. now, president barack obama describes the extension as
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critical to america's economic recovery. he said, i congratulate members of congress for ending the partisan stalemate by reaching an agreement. this is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy and create new jobs. this is real money that will make a real difference in people's lives. now, let's go back to the pretrading numbers on wall street. we wanted to take a look at u.s. futures. let's check out how they're looking ahead of friday's session. they are looking pretty good. actually these are the old numbers from earlier. we will get those numbers a little bit later. we'll get november's reading 0en personal income. here are the futures. there we go. the dow looks like it's set for a higher open by 0.5%. the nasdaq composite also by the same amount. it's uniform across the board. that's how it's looking for friday trading in a couple of hours, more than four hours from now before we head into the holiday seas. that should pain the a clearer picture of what americans are
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doing with their money during this holiday season. no doubt doing a lot of last-minute online shopping. nina? pauline, still to come on "world business today," just as new zealand was starting to feel settled again, more earthquakes rattled the northeastern coast there. we'll have a full update after this break. plus, spain's new austerity government and the tough year ahead. yeah. you know what else is nice is all the savings you can get on cruze and traverse over there. oh! that's my beard. [ chuckles ] it's amazing. ♪ [ male announcer ] this holiday, chevy's giving more. now very well qualified lessees can sign and drive a 2012 cruze ls for around $199 a month. ♪ nyquil tylenol: we are?ylenol. you know we're kinda like twins. nyquil (stuffy): yeah, we both relieve coughs, sneezing, aches, fevers.
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hello and welcome back. you're watching "world business today" live on cnn. a series of earthquakes rattled new zealand earlier on friday. two of the larger ones, a imaginemy tud 5.8 and a magnitude 5.9 quake struck just off the coast from christchurch. the city is recovering from that 6.3 quake that rocked its central business district back in february which tragedy killed more than 180 people. officials say at least 2 people
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were injured in this latest round and airport there was also evacuated. the new zealand dollar fell briefly against the u.s. dollar following the news of the quakes. but has since gained back its losses there. the country's stock market retreated from earlier gains to finish just slightly higher by the end of the session. let's go over to meteorologist ivan cabrera now. he's been monitoring these earthquakes for us at the world weather center. this happened in the middle of the day with people out and about. it was certainly very frightening for them. >> always frightening these things, no question about it. i guess in the middle of the night while you're sleeping could be worse as well. here's the thing, though. no significant injuries and no fatalities. let's get that news out of the way. that is certainly a fantastic thing to hear. nerves were rattled and buildings were as well. we've had some damage and certainly power outages here. three quakes happening within just a few hours. the first one a 5.8, the second one a 5.3 and the third one, 90
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minutes later, a 5.9. the furthest one away 26 kilometers. interestingly all happening beneath the water here. this is offshore, no tsunami alerts or warnings. you need about a 7 for that to happen. these quakes that you see here, we have to take you back, we've been following this for a year, these quakes are aftershocks from the 7.1 that we had back in 2010, unbelievably. i'll show you the stats in a second here why that continues to happen. also the topography important, if these had happened under the more mountainous region down to the south, you wouldn't have as much damage. that 7.1 that we had back in 2010 caused less damage and less essentially injuries, less deaths than the 6.3. the reason for that, we had this one at 40 kilometers west of christchurch. this was the killer quake here, february 2011. the aftershock of 6.3 happening right under the city. that's the one that leveled the
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city. and they've been recovering or trying to, certainly, ever since. we've been doing so with these aftershocks that have been significant. on friday we've had the 5.8 and 5.9. statistically, this is not too unusual here. an original quake of 7.1 you typically get thousands upon thousands of earthquakes. in fact, over 10,000 at this point as far as the 2.0 range. once you get to the higher threshold here, these are less common here and we should begin to get less frequent earthquakes that are in the 5.0, the 6.0 range which of course can cause significant damage. we'll keep you posted. i've already had a couple of 4.0s but i think at this point we are done, thankfully. hopefully for the rest of year. stay with us, "world business today" continues after the break. you're watching cnn.
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welcome back, from hong kong in london, you're watching "world business today" live on cnn. big day el gordo lottery winnings in spain, it's now down to business for country's new government. the prime minister here in the center of this image saw his cabinet being sworn in on thursday and that cabinet gathers for the first time today. of course, they're being tasked with making some really tough zigs about spain's financial future in the next term in government. he's promised the new year will be filled with plenty of austerity cuts aimed at slashing
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this country's budget deficit by some 16.5 billion euros in 2012. that amounts to nearly $22 billion. to help him, he's appointed a very economic-minded team here. let's have a look at some of the main protagonists at either end of the front row here on this screen. new finance minister is this man. he's a former lehman brothers executive, very well known in the financial markets. but we've also got another gentleman on the other enof the front row here. he's a finance professor and also an economist. he's charged with heading up the treasury. these two gentlemen, they will having to reassure the world's financial markets. for more on what all this means today, al goodman joins us live from cnn madrid. al, when can we expect to hear exactly what this new government is going to be doing, their policies? when can we hear it?
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>> reporter: hi, nina. not this day. what they're going to do this day as the cabinet is meeting now for first time is basically get the machinery of government and the players in place, the secondary ministers we just saw the cabinet. they need to appoint the deputy ministers and the key other officials like the chief of the budget office for prime minister, a whole series of posts, what one senior member of ruling conservative party told me, a man himself who may be named this day, they're fueling up the ship, deciding on the crew. they know basically where it's going to sail but haven't said just yet. that may come a week from this day and into the new year. nina? >> cutting about $22 billion off of the deficit in one year when on the other hand some people say they should be spending to try and bring the unemployment rate down. that's beginning to be a tough move for this government. >> reporter: it is. what he first, for instance, what he needs to do next friday
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is what is being predicted, he doesn't have a budget for 2012. he's go to pull over the budget, carry over the 2011 budget into 2012. he has said in parliament that he can't do his budget until he has the growth predictions which may not come until late january, early february. then he can start to make his cuts. he has said he's going to try to put money into job growth but again, all of this is just out there. he hasn't really said where the knife is going in. he's got some symbolic austerity. there are 12 ministries, down from 16 under the socialist government. so the number of ministries, some of them are folded into others, changing names, what does he save? he saves a few cabinet ministers salaries and their top aides that is a little bit of austerity but it also is a symbolic measure that right at home in the government itself, he's going to do serious cost cutting. nina? >> top new year's resolution for
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the new government, stop spending and bring in that deficit by about $22 billion. many thanks for that. still to come on westbound, licensed to thrill. santa claus needs a certificate to bring christmas cheer to children in germany. we're in berlin where ho, ho, ho means no, no, no if santa didn't have the right paperwork. we'll explain. stay with cnn. fish. fantastic. ♪ this holiday, chevy's giving more. now qualified buyers can get 0% apr for 72 months on a 2011 chevy silverado. or 0% apr financing for 60 months plus no monthly payments until spring. ♪
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from cnn london, i'm nina dos santos. >> and i'm pauline chiou at cnn hong kong. welcome back to "world business today."
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we're about 19 minutes into the trading sessions here. it seems we're holding on to this positive momentum. here's where the leading indices stan at the moment. a number ever them are trading in the green. one of the things that's been moving these markets is reports we've had out over the last couple of days, coming from largest economy, the united states of america. u.s. jobless claims down for the last month, it's seen as a good sign that the u.s. economy is perhaps improving. we have key pivotal reports out later today. durable goods, factory ors and new home sales. those can be better than expected. if that's the case, the rally may last until the end of the year. there has been relief in the markets that we've seen the payroll tax deal being reached in washington and probably also relief that we're getting to the end of what's been frankly a pretty nasty year on the world equity markets.
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we have gains in the cac 40 in paris, despite the fact we know the french gdp for the third quarter of the year has been revised downward to 0.3% from an earlier reading of 0.4%. pauline? we were responding to that u.s. data you had just mentioned. there were gains across the board on friday. the tokyo stock exchange, however, was closed for a holiday. it is the emperor's berth day today. hang seng, the kospi and the shanghai composite all ended in positive territory. trading was thin because of the holidays that are coming up but there were solid gains among resources and financial stocks. the biggest winner today was australian miner gloucester coal which leaped more than 21%, that
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happened after a top shareholder gave its approval for the sale to china's yoncho coal mining. hsbc was up about 1.5% in hong kong today. and the banking group was up by a similar amount in sydney and trading in sydney ended early this afternoon ahead of a long holiday weekend. nina? let's go back and take another look at those u.s. markets. u.s. stock markets closed higher on thursday after a quiet preholiday session. volumes thin as we enter the last couple of trading days of the year. investor optimism got a boost from the upbeat report in the labor market. also we saw strength in the financial sector there. let's go into the report we saw on jobless claims, claims for unemployment benefits in america dropped last week, holding crucially below a key level that analysts associate with job creation. and here's where the numbers settled when it comes to the stock markets.
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the dow adding about 0.5%. the nasdaq and the broader s&p rising by 0.83%. investors were also taking in the government's second provision of gdp for the united states. and that particular reading noted that the u.s. economy grew at an annual rate of 1.8% in the third quarter. the revision knocked the reading down by 0.2% from an earlier estimate. growth remains a far cry from what analysts consider to be strong. they would like to see it somewhere around 3.5%. >> still quite a long ways to go. let's check out some of the other business stories we're following today. police fired tear gas at protesters in the southern chinese town of haimen on friday. thousands of people have been protesting for the removal of a coal power plan the. they say the government has yet to respond to their request and the police presence in haimen is
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growing. there are reports of protesters being detain and others being beaten. >> they once say it added lift but have been left with risk. an estimated 30,000 french women have been urged by the government to have their breast implanted removed. implants and sold around the world by prothese have been noted to rupture. the company subsequently went bust. a tough economy in just about everywhere in the world and increase in business should be cause for celebration. not in the city of bethlehem, it seems. we explain why merchants feel like they're being short-changed by the israeli government ♪ >> reporter: it's not hard to tell it's the holiday season in bethlehem. a join the tree stands in the center of manger square and all
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around, the sights and sounds of christmas can be found in abundance. at the nearby church of the nativity, built at the site where christians believe jesus was born, visitors from around the world gather for this important stop in their religious pilgrimage. they are among the over 1 million christian pilgrims who come to the holyland each year and represent the fastest growing sector in the tourism industry. while the number of tourists visiting bethlehem is up compared to last year, palestinian tourism officials say it's hard to get them to spend their money here fighting what they say is stiff and unfair competition from israel. this is the palestinian minister of tourism. she says israel uses its control of the holyland gateways, airports, ports and land crossings to unfairly direct tourists towards spending more time at religious sites under israeli control. >> we still have 5% to 10% of
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the revenues. 90% is spent on the israeli side, which is an unfair distribution, i think. they use us only as a bridge to get tourism into israel. >> reporter: israeli tourism officials downplay that criticism saying increased tourism benefits both sides and that locations like bethlehem are an intrickal part of a religious experience which includes sites in israel like nazareth and the sea of galilee. >> these are areas which we have control of but we have no problem with people going backwards and forwards between those three locations. >> reporter: back in manger square, this merchant says there are enough tourists coming through bethlehem but the
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problem is getting them to stay. >> they spend five minutes inside the church and then they take them to the big shops where they get the commission. >> reporter: both israelis and palestinians need to do more, they think, to help bethlehem live up to its biblical potential. >> we can make bethlehem light in the sky. this is what they should do. >> reporter: a christmas wish shared by the residents of this little west bank town. ♪ kevin flowers, cnn, bethlehem. 'tis the season of good will and for many that means 'tis the season of employment. seasonal jobs are part and parcel of this festive season and provide a vital opportunity for some people to earn a little christmas cash. the obvious example is the postal service with a huge uptick in the number of cards and letters and packages. extra hands are vital. many stores also take on
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seasonal staff, whether it's to cope with the extra numbers of shoppers or to wrap some of those gifts there. and it's also the time of year that ice rinks pop up all over the place, even in shopping malls and, of course, they need staff to operate and run them. i like these choirboys there in their red outfits. and then, now, farming turkeys is a full-time job. at this time of year they're in high deman for those holiday dinner feasts, putting supply chains to the test, again, seasonal helpers are the answer. and it's the same case in the christmas tree business where you need people to cut down the trees and then transport them. of course, this man and his faithful side kick, rudolph, work only one day a year, the ultimate in temporary seasonal employment. he may have to work only one day a year but there's a pretty arduous training course in the
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leadup to the big day. in germany to become recognize as a real santa is no walk in the park. >> i'm 33. i enjoy having santa claus back at home when i was young. i think it will be a great opportunity to spend some time with these kids. i think it's a lot easier than other jobs. like pizza delivery or whatever. i think it's more fun than most of the jobs, because you have -- you do something that your customers want you to do. >> eye na >> my name is stephan. i'm santa claus. now they have to play a person
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who is the king, who is under god. they have no one over santa claus, only god. you have to play it. there's so many contradictions between your real social role and real life and the role what you have to play christmas day. >> i hadn't any presents to -- and i didn't have any songs in my repertoire. i couldn't sing to the children or audition. so it was the biggest mistake. i didn't really know how to begin the whole evening. i was really unprepared. >> thank you, santa. >> thank you. >> that's a certificate for santa claus in german or for the
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angel. and the workshop includes an introduction into the history of the christmas party and said something about the clothing. >> that's the wrong shoes. >> and appearance of santa claus and the angel, also about the behavior behaviors. ♪ >> i was waiting for that last part, the ho ho ho. that's it for this edition of "world business today." thanks for joining us, i'm pauline chiou in hong kong. i'm nina dos santos in london. you're watching cnn, the world's news leader. act my age? -why? -why? -why?
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this week on "marketplace middle east," a year on after the arab spring, from tunisia to egypt, we take a look at where we stand today. plus, we sit down with a media mogul and discuss the region's economic road ahead. and baseballs and beaches, a look at israel's tourists and
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the record numbers arriving at the holy city. after mohammed set himself on fire, his death created an explosion of people power across an entire region. a wave of protests spread across north africa and parts of the gulf. in some countries, people power succeeded. in others, it's still a work in progress. as thousands take to the votes, leoni lakhani takes a look at where things stand. >> reporter: they are still marred by violence nearly a year after the peaceful resolution. the political turmoil is driving the country's economy to the brink. >> uncertainty is the investors' biggest enemy. we need political stability to encourage investors to come in. >> reporter: egypt is the arab world's most populous country
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with the largest consumer base and most diversified economy. before the revolution it was a major draw for foreign investors. today, rabini global economics estimates foreign investment has dropped by 68%. the main stock index lost more than 45% of its value this year. >> egypt has been a great market for region investors. unfortunately for the moment, tourism is nonexistent. >> reporter: for egypt, smaller revolutionary neighbors, tunisia and libya, the transition process has so far taken a smoother path. but they, too, have not escaped an economic fallout. the dow jones nina index which measures the entire middle east in north africa has plummeted from 2010. investors have always factored that in. now they're entering completely
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unchartered territory with three leaders ousted and nations struggling to find their political feet. in a year of revolution and transition, the middle east has bled when the first protest began in tunisia. there's still a long path ahead to reassure and bring back the international investor. leoni lakhani for "marketplace middle east," abb. at a young age, a production company help put tunisia on the entertainment map helping bring in monty python and george lucas. he sat down with the entrepreneur and asked him about the road ahead following a year of unrest. >> economic problems plus lack
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of political freedom was the cause of that. now they have liberty and dignity. but now whoever is going to rule, they will be expecting immediate reforms and work, work and work without economic work with these young people, democracy cannot function. >> the cost of the arab springs was extremely high and some analysts are forecasting it will take up to three to five years just to recover from the financial losses. >> my hope is that the wealthy arab nations who have seen this arab revolt, this arab revolution would come to understand the unfair spread of wealth in the arab world should be compensated, so that the rich can help the poor. my dream is that these rich countries understand that these revolutions send a message to them so that they should help these countries become real
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democracies and invest and invest in manpower, in youth. that's the best investment. there's enough money in the arab world so that there should be no poor arab country. >> considering that the north african country specifically tunisia have always looked to europe as an economic compass in many ways and have had long-standing commercial ties, how do you think euro debt crisis is going to affect the regions, especially at a time of such instability and reconstruction? >> you're right. it is a problem. our link with europe is geographically, you're an hour from rome, an hour from nies. they can't afford not to help a country develop, because what is their biggest fear? illegal immigration. it's a win/win for them. if they held those countries to good jobs to their youth, their
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youth will not want to cross to morocco or the italian islands to come to italy, spain or france. but that is not enough. the arab countries need to help the poor arab countries. libya and algeria alone could make it but there is no need for money from overseas. libya and algeria and their billions and billions of revenues and their possibility of giving jobs to the egyptians and to the tunisians is -- and the to moroccans is key. of course, the problem is political union that we speak about. it didn't exist. >> should north africa consider reorienting their compass economically to the east? >>y he in terms of the crisis and no in terms of tourism. moroccan tourism cannot live just on eastern relationship. they need to remain what they
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are, a tourist location for millions and millions of europeans who still would like to go to inexpensive and beautiful and exotic lands like egypt, tunisia and morocco. we have to have a foot in both worlds. >> up next on "marketplace middle east," which driving tourists to israel despite turmoil in the region? we'll find out when we come back.
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despite the political upheaval in israel's neighborhood, tourists continue to flock to the state in record numbers. why the success in drawing visitors to a country surrounded by protests of the arab spring? the question can be answered in two words, bible and beaches. kevin flower reports. >> reporter: they may not look like your standard visitors to the holyland, for israel less
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striving touring industry, these harley-davidson riding tourists are heaven-sent. >> i would tell every christian, do their best to get here at least once and see the sights. we're going to ride into jerusalem later today. i'm so excited about that. >> reporter: they are evangelical american pastors on a tour of israel and they form part of backbone of the 3.5 million people expected to visit israel this year, christian tourists. >> christian tourism specifically as a sector has gone up to over two-thirds of all incoming tourists to the represent, representing over 2.3 million people last year. >> reporter: while israel for some is a fun in the sun travel destination, it's the biblical appeal of the country's religious sites that attracts far more visitors than its beaches. in five short years the number of christian visitors increased an astounding 400% according to
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tourism officials, making up the bulk of the $4.5 billion israel tourism business that supports some 200,000 jobs. >> americans, europeans, asians, africans and so on. they are coming and you can see them strolling, especially in jerusalem. literally people from all over the world. >> reporter: the growth, says this israeli tourism operator come comes from a change in the way people choose their destination. >> it's the desire to travel with a purpose among people. and holyland represents probably the pinnacle destination to somebody who comes here. the person of faith. i think there's a real trend in that. >> reporter: that's why israel's tourism ministry tripled its marketing budget in recent
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years, spending some $70 million this year alone to attract new and repeat visitors. >> we are focusing very much on what we call the decisionmaker, the junctions in between the product and the end user, meaning we are focusing on the organizations, utilizing the different christian vehicles and media vehicles as well. >> reporter: so far that campaign appears to be working. tourism officials here say that by 2015, they expect 5 million visitors. a goal that these easy riders are more than happy to make a reality. kevin flowers, cnn, jerusalem. in other news this week, saudi arabian prince and a king have purchased a $300 million stake in twitter.
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it has stakes in news corp., apple and time warner, the parent
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