Foreign investors may soon be welcome in Dubai as the government puts together a blueprint to revitalise the flagging economy.
The idea is that investors would not tie up with a Dubai national, as is currently required, but could start a business with someone from the Gulf Cooperative Region (GCC).
This would be a major change in Dubai’s position in allowing foreign investors to start up in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
That means investors from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia would be free to link with a foreign business and begin trading in Dubai.
Dubai’s Department of Economic Development has formed a committee to look at how the rule could be implemented – and how it will benefit the economy.
Currently foreign businesses are only allowed to have a minority stake in a business in Dubai, and the wider UAE, and they must have a local partner.
However, foreign firms can own 100% of a company but only when they are the country’s ‘free zones’.
The move widens the net for potential investors to team up and bring investment to a country keen on bringing in foreign capital after a property market collapse and a corporate debt crisis.
Dubai is particularly keen to develop industry, services and tourism and will expect a minimum investment of £1.7 million is needed before any business without the involvement of a Dubai national could go-ahead.
According to government data, foreign investment in the country is slowly increasing with investment projects worth £2.9 billion unveiled in the first six months of 2012 – up 7% on the year before.
No timescale is laid out for the introduction of new investment rules. Critics say the government could spend several years bringing in regulations allowing foreign investors to do business outside of the ‘free zones’.
Meanwhile, Dubai is also making strong moves to establish the emirate as a leading centre for Islamic banking and finance.
The emirate already has the top banking centre for the Gulf, a position reinforced by the opening of the International Finance Centre more than 10 years ago.
The government is keen to attract fresh investors and will promote Islamic banks and insurance companies, and their products, to other Islamic countries.
Though the Islamic finance market is much smaller than mainstream finance, the sector is rapidly growing as people are attracted to its ban on interest and financial speculation.
Dubai’s government is also looking at creating international standards for halal foods and becoming the main arbitrator for Islamic business contracts.
Wall Street’s bonus blues are holding back Big Apple home prices.
While the housing market is on the mend and every other major metro area is on the upswing, New York stands out as the sole city to see an annual price decline, according to Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index released yesterday.
Home prices in the New York area were down 1.2 percent in November compared to a year ago — the only decline out of the 20 metro areas tracked by the closely watched index.
By comparison, home prices on average were up 5.1 percent from a year ago nationwide.
David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s Index Committee, singled out the city’s shrinking financial sector as one reason it is lagging the rest of the country.
“Financial services is not in the best shape, and that has put a damper on the home prices and how people view job growth,” said Blitzer.
In fact, Wall Street bonuses have been shrinking ever since the financial meltdown.
Bonuses paid out this year are expected to decline, after falling 13.5 percent last year for work done in 2011.
“If it’s a good year for bonuses, it’s a good year for people selling real estate,” Blitzer said.
And for at least some of the well-heeled Gucci loafer set, who typically drive real-estate values in the city, bonuses could be off as much as 35 percent, according to Wall Street recruiters.
The office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’ estimates that the Street’s base salaries fell 9.5 percent to $362,000 last year, from $400,000.
Job growth in the Big Apple also has been relatively flat, with just about 500 jobs added in the securities sector over the past year, according to the Independent Budget Office.
That follows several rounds of deep cuts across the securities industry since the financial meltdown.
During the height of the crisis, some 140,000 jobs were lost, IBO data shows.
New York home prices held up far better than those in other major metro areas during the crisis, and the city wasn’t nearly as hard-hit as financially overheated areas like Phoenix and Atlanta, a spokeswoman with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office noted.
The index does not factor in co-ops and condos and covers territory including Long Island, Westchester and Northern New Jersey.
Median home prices within the city’s five boroughs stand at $445,000 and $380,000 in the broader New York metro area, while national median is closer to $175,000, according to Moody’s Analytics data.
Pay within the five boroughs on average is $61,0000 and $68,000 in the broader New York area, while the national average is $53,000. according to Moody’s.
New York’s housing market is very sensitive to the metro economy, said Michael Zoller, an economist at Moody’s Analytics.
“If the metro economy isn’t producing high-paying jobs, nobody’s going to be able to pay high real-estate prices,” Zoller aid.
Online real estate marketplace Trulia ($24.32 0%) revealed its latest survey findings Wednesday, showing the seasonal patterns of home search activity based on its search traffic.
The research, which was based on all home searches on Trulia from 2007 to 2012, was used to determine whether a state’s search activity in each month is above or below the annual average for that state.
The study revealed that post-holiday motivation pushed many potential homebuyers and renters back into full-on search mode at the beginning of the year. Nationally, online real estate search activity surged in January and usually reaches its peak around March or April.
Typically May sees a slight dip, but is directly followed by a second yearly peak during the summer months. Home searches usually dip the lowest in December.
“Home-search activity swings with the seasons in every state. Buyers and sellers can use these ups and downs to their advantage,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist of Trulia. “Sellers looking for the most buyers should list when real estate search traffic peaks. Buyers, however, should think about searching off-season, when there is less competition from other searchers.”
While most online home searches at the state level correspond with typical seasonal patterns, local markets are completely different depending on the market.
In Hawaii and Florida, January has home search activity 10% above the average; however, Maine reports a 10% decrease in activity compared to the average.
Typically, search activity peaks during the summer in the South and for a few states in the Northwest and Northeast. However, Montana and Oregon don’t peak until August. By the time October rolls around, every state is below its annual average in search activity, and every state drops even lower in December.
“Local weather patterns have a big impact on when people search for homes online. If it’s too cold or wet to check out open houses, people search less online,” said Kolko. “Search activity in warm-winter states, like Florida and Hawaii, peaks in January and February. But for most of the country, search traffic is highest in March or April, especially in regions where summer brings rain. In general, people search more online when it’s warm and dry outside.”
Your B2B firm trumpets its engaged, active customers. These customers, the sweet center of any successful business, generate a significant portion of your firm’s revenue. These same customers serve as references; speak at industry conferences; share ideas and feedback about your company. When they broadcast positive feedback (public or private), that precious message makes the rounds in your firm’s C-suite. In return, these customers will be thanked with some great company swag in appreciation … maybe even be featured on your company’s website.Is that all? Really?With all that back-and-forth communication, how often do customer suggestions and ideas actually make a difference in your company? More specifically, how often does what your customers say to your firm about your company’s processes, products or services serve as a catalyst for real change in your operations? I thought so. But really, how could it?Many large organizations have created what I like to call a “Social Media Muddle.” They have a plethora of social media tool experiments underway: newsletters and blogs for customer communications, twitter and Facebook for customer interaction, LinkedIN for promotions, sometimes even an online customer community to provide all of the above and more. But … all these different social outreach and listening opportunities are run by different departments, and are completely and utterly divorced from core operations and processes. Product development, customer care and R&D most likely do not have direct access to information they crave – the voice of the customer.So while your social customers are actively sharing information about their needs in many places – public and private, online and offline – your company keeps on keeping on, just doing things according to plan. A plan that is not adjusting and adapting to ever-changing customer needs.
US ECONOMY SHRINKS: GDP FALLS 0.1% IN Q4
Pete Souza/Official White House photo
The advance estimate for fourth-quarter U.S. GDP is out.
The economy contracted 0.1 percent in Q4 versus economists’ consensus expectations of a 1.1 percent expansion.
Personal consumption growth came in at 2.2 percent – slightly higher than consensus estimates of 2.1 percent – but was driven largely by a 13.9 percent advance in the consumption of durable goods.
Government spending was the largest driver of the economic contraction in the fourth quarter, subtracting 1.33 percentage points from Q4 GDP growth and falling 6.6 percent. Federal spending fell 15.0 percent, led by a 22.2 percent drop in defense spending. Federal spending on nondefense items was actually up 1.4 percent. State and local spending fell 0.7 percent.
The drawdown in private inventories was the second culprit behind the contraction, subtracting 1.27 percentage points from Q4 GDP growth after adding 0.73 percentage points to Q3 GDP growth.