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Economy

Economy

Crypto And Cannabis, Best Buds At Last

As cannabis is legalized in more places, investors are taking note. One Luxembourg-based, Uruguayan-led fund has found an innovative way to bypass banking obstacles and raise capital.

Soon it will be possible to buy shares in a fund that invests in the nascent cannabis industry, on Ethereum, a blockchain portal. The fund is Global Cannabis Capital (GCC), formed in Luxembourg and soon to offer shares as tokens (digital value units representing the value of a stock), instead of the traditional initial public offering (IPO).

GCC's founder is the Uruguayan Andrés Israel, also CEO and founder of Cannabis Company Builder (CCB), an incubator that helps Latin American startups devise a business strategy for the cannabis sector. He said tokens were "a much more efficient channel for attracting capital" than share issues, and legal frameworks already exist covering their use. The legalities, he said, were "one of our major challenges. We chose Luxembourg as we found legality both in the blockchain sphere and the cannabis industry. It was a double challenge for us."

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Shein IRL? China's Online Fashion Giant Has A Major Worker Exploitation Problem

In the fast fashion race, Shein, a Chinese retailer, has rapidly risen to compete with the likes of H&M and Zara — and even Amazon. But a deep look inside the company reveals questionable working and sourcing practices.

GUANGZHOU — The wall clock says 1:30 p.m. when the neon lights switch on again above the sewing machines and ironing boards. Between the boxes and the mountain-high piles of clothes, workers emerge from their nap. Small camp beds are hastily put away, phones slide back to the bottom of pockets. It's time to get back to work for the approximately 250 employees of this workshop in Nancun, a village that's been absorbed into the megacity of Guangzhou, in the very south of China.

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The Haitian Entrepreneurs Happy To Stay Home

Given the opportunity to flee an economic and political crisis in Haiti, some business owners opt to stay.

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Mathilde Ménélas recalls the moment her parents sold a piece of their land and handed her the cash, telling her to leave the only country she’d ever known. The 26-year-old refused. Instead, she set up a beauty salon in Haiti’s busy capital of Port-au-Prince.

The trained esthetician understood her parents’ fear for her to remain in a country marred by the threat of kidnap, natural disasters, an unstable economy and rising unemployment. Ménélas says leaving her country was all she could think about.

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Rebuilding Ukraine: Lessons From Nations That Rose From The Ashes Of War

After two months of war, experts in Ukraine are starting to consider what plan could work to restore the local infrastructure and economy, looking at the experience of Germany, Japan and Italy — countries that went down in history for their economic miracles after being destroyed by war.

-Analysis-

KYIV — World history has many examples of post-war reconstruction. Since the end of World War II, there have been more than 30 major wars and more than 250 military conflicts in the world, involving at least 60 countries.

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But even with such a seemingly large sample, successful examples of recovery can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Each is unique and depends on many factors — from the banal availability of natural resources to the coincidence of circumstances in the region.

The case of Ukraine is unique. Our level of economic development, the presence of established state institutions and legitimate authorities, well-established production processes, and the stability of the financial system make the prospects for Ukraine's recovery significantly different from those of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Angola. Our country is closer to the examples of Europe, as well as some Asian countries after 1945.

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Economy
Yuri Litvinenko and Valeria Lebedeva

Instagram Nyet! Russian Influencers Lose Mojo On Homegrown Platforms

It's a different kind of "migration" indeed, from Instagram to VKontakte, after U.S. social media were banned in Russia. It's yet another kind of difficulty for Russians trying to continue with daily life.

MOSCOW — Since the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, access to international digital platforms and social networks within Russia has become virtually impossible. Facebook and Instagram were banned in late March, the activities of their parent company Meta were declared extremist and blocked, and Twitter was quickly added later to the hit list.

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Society
Anaïs Moutot

The Tinder Method: How Match Group CEO Shar Dubey Hooks Up The World

At the head of Match Group, the online dating empire composed of Tinder, Meetic and Hinge, this CEO of Indian origin decides millions of people’s love lives on every continent. It's a unique talent for turning digital relationship building into gold.

DALLAS — The place is anything but romantic: a tinted-window skyscraper rising among highways bordered with malls in Dallas, the economical capital of Texas. Yet it’s there, on the fifteenth floor, that Shar Dubey decides on the sentimental and sexual lives of a growing part of the planet.

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Economy
Laura-Mai Gaveriaux

Dubai Postcard: Russian Oligarchs Find Refuge From Sanctions In UAE

Hit with Western sanctions, Russian oligarchs are racing against time to relocate their assets to tax havens. They turn to private banks where transactions, opaque as they are in the UAE for instance, make it almost impossible to trace funds.

DUBAI — In the neo-baroque hall of the Burj Al Arab hotel, surrounded by colored marbles, one can hear all the world’s languages. A mirroring image of this cosmopolitan bubble that Dubai has become over the past 30 years, a sort of Monaco of the Middle East. But from large red armchairs, it’s a Slavic atmosphere that stands out the most.

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At 2,000 to 12,000 euros a night, the rooms at the Burj Al Arab, situated on an artificial island, make it the most expensive palace in the emirate of Dubai — and the preferred meeting site of Russia’s richest businessmen. They are, of course, close to the Kremlin’s networks since it is virtually impossible to make a fortune, and above all, to keep it, without at least getting Vladimir Putin’s seal of approval first.

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Economy
Michael A. Allen and Matthew DiGiuseppe

Moscow Faces First Foreign Debt Default Since The Czar Was Ousted: Does Putin Even Care?

A default would be one of the clearest signals that the sanctions are having their intended effect on the Russian economy. But its impact on Russia’s ability to wage war in Ukraine may be another story.

Russia may be on the cusp of its first default on its foreign debt since the Bolsheviks ousted Czar Nicholas II a century ago.

Last week, Moody’s Investors Service warned the country’s decision to make payments on dollar-issued debt in rubles would constitute a default because it violates the terms of the contract. A 30-day grace period allows Russia until May 4 to convert the payments to dollars to avoid default.

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Economy
Raphaël Balenieri

Don't Let The Metaverse Become Just Another Club For The Wealthy

Metaverses are introducing ownership and rarity to the internet for the first time in its history. It is already generating billions of dollars in transactions, but the risk is that it becomes a club exclusively for the wealthy.

-Analysis-

PARIS — Gas, electricity, paper… The prices of everything are soaring. But this is nothing compared with what is happening in the metaverse, a place of a multitude of new, virtual and immersive universes, populated with 3D avatars.

In The Sandbox, a metaverse launched in 2012 by two Frenchmen and backed by the Japanese conglomerate Softbank, the prices of virtual lands (more than 166,000 of them exist on the platform) compete with real estate prices in Paris, London or Hong Kong. A user called “EnzoFar” recently put his land for sale … for 66,666 Ethers (a top cryptocurrency, along with Bitcoin), or more than $227 million at the current exchange rate.

Others have done even better. Since their creation by four friends in 2021, the 10,000 unique virtual apes of the Bored Ape Yacht Club have generated what equates to $1.5 billion in transactions. Justin Bieber, Paris Hilton, Snoop Dogg and Eminem have all succumbed to the craze and bought their own.

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Economy
Frida Dahmani, Hossam Rabie, Nina Kozlowski, and Rania Hamdi

Ukraine War, North African Food Shortages And Whiff Of A New Arab Spring

Rising tensions in wheat productions, explosion of oil prices, fear of the unknown, could the Ukraine war lead to a popular Arab uprising similar to the one in 2011?

TUNIS — History tells us that in 2010-2011 the rise in prices for raw materials, especially wheat, was one of the main causes of the uprisings that spread across the Arab world.

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Today, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is putting many of the world's economies dependent on wheat imports to the test, notably in North Africa. This prompts the question: Could there be a second “Arab Spring?”

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Economy
Daisuke Kondo

Why Japan's Auto Industry Can't Keep Pace With The Electric Vehicle Revolution

The "Made in Japan" label used to be a mark of progress, but Japanese manufacturing has declined rapidly. Now, the automobile industry, the last bastion of the country's technology, has fallen behind in the transition to electric vehicles.

TOKYO — From semiconductors, TVs, and computers to mobile phones, Japan was once the world’s leading manufacturer, and it swept the world with all these products. But since entering the twenty-first century, “Made in Japan has declined so fast that certain Japanese brands have simply disappeared.

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Economy
Oleksandr Decyk

Ruble Or Nothing: How Russia Is Trying To Blackmail The West Again

In an attempt to shore up its failing economy, Russia is trying to blackmail the West and asking to be paid in rubles for its natural gas. However, such a move is unlikely to help Moscow in the long-term. And the important question still remains of how the EU will manage without Russian gas.

-Analysis-

KYIV — Russia announced earlier this week that it was working on practical arrangements for natural gas to be paid in rubles, as a response to the West’s sanctions over the war in Ukraine. Europe has so far refused to resort to the Russian currency to purchase gas — and this payment stand-off with Russia has prompted European fears and warnings over possible gas supply disruption.

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Putin’s reasoning? It makes no sense to deliver goods to the E.U. and the U.S. and receive payments in dollars and euros, the Russian president said, adding that he was determined to solve the issue by the end of March.

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Economy
Isabelle Couet, Gwénaëlle Barzic, Vincent-Xavier Morvan

Inside The French Hunt For Russian Oligarchs And Their Riches

Chalets in Courchevel, villas on the Cap d'Antibes peninsula, yachts and valuable paintings are in the sights of the Ministry of Economy’s task force. But in this game of cat and mouse through a maze of offshore companies, nominees and trusts, oligarchs are often one step ahead.

PARIS — “An exceptional stay in the mountains,” promises the Grand Coeur et Spa chalet, a 4-star Relais & Châteaux located at the bottom of the ski slopes in Méribel, in southeastern France. Its particularity: It is owned by the company Sogeco whose main shareholder is Elena Timchenko, wife of Gennady Timchenko. The billionaire is considered a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin and as such, is registered on the European, American and British lists of frozen assets.

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“Gennady Timchenko is a long-time acquaintance of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and is broadly described as one of his confidants,” the European text says.

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Economy
Julio Borges

Saddam, Putin, Maduro: How Dictators See Their Oil Differently

The West is paying the price for buying oil from one tyrant in Russia, and must think carefully before rushing to Venezuela to do the same with another dictatorship. Business is not always business.

-Analysis-

CARACAS — The geopolitical conflicts that have erupted in the world since 1988 have had a direct impact on oil prices. The Iran-Iraq war, Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, the West's massive operations in Iraq, and now Russia's barbaric invasion of Ukraine confirm this. Prices began to rise as soon as President Vladimir Putin began bombing the Ukrainians, going from $83 a barrel to over $100 and considerably further at points of maximum global commotion.

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In this new energy context, as Russia faces sanctions and with sharply rising crude prices, Venezuela has recovered a measure of public relevance as some argue it could become a reliable hydrocarbons supplier able to compensate for the energy shortfall resulting from the war. It is a reasonable idea considering Venezuela has the world's largest crude reserves.

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Economy
Tobias Kaiser

Exclusive: Inside Europe's Plans To Become Independent Of Russian Gas

The European Commission is busy trying to get Europe to be completely independent from Russian natural gas by the end of the year. It won’t come without hardships, including for consumers and the climate. Die Welt has details on how it will happen, and what it will cost.

BERLIN — Pressure is mounting on European Union states to impose an embargo on Russian energy supplies. The European Commission, the EU’s powerful administration, is already preparing for a possible cutoff of oil and gas supplies from Russia — even in the event that Russia stops supplies of its own accord.

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The staff of EU Industry and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton has drawn up a scenario of how the EU can become independent of gas supplies from Russia by the end of the year. The calculations were mare available exclusively to Die Welt.

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Economy
David Barroux

Let's Not Be Naive: A French Take On War Profiteering

French firms TotalEnergies and Renault announced they were, over time, suspending their activities and halting production in Russia after being widely criticized for their inaction since the invasion of Ukraine. But leaving Russia doesn’t have the same cost or the same consequences for all companies. And we should calculate in who will profit later.

-OpEd-

PARIS — Companies that decide to cut ties with Russia are not all in the same boat. Some like Apple — which can no longer deliver iPhones to the country isolated from the rest of the planet — only take minimal risks. They forego limited and temporary revenues, hoping that the day will come when the war stops and Russia finds some semblance of normalcy, and their business can resume.

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It is not so simple for several of the largest French companies, which were among the very first foreign investors in post-Soviet Russia and control numerous assets in the country. These multinationals that have invested billions (from retail group Auchan to energy giant TotalEnergies, automaker Renault and Société Générale bank) have much more to lose by breaking with Vladimir Putin.

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