World’s top creditor nation
The country kept its position as the world’s largest creditor nation for the 22nd straight year last year, government data showed yesterday, as the US dollar’s gains helped inflate the value of overseas assets, including foreign debt and property. The nation’s net overseas assets stood at ￥296.3 trillion (US$2.9 trillion) at the end of last year, according to the finance ministry. It was followed by China, which had net overseas assets of ￥150.3 trillion last year. Germany ranked third with ￥121.9 trillion, followed by Switzerland at ￥84.7 trillion and Hong Kong with ￥63.4 trillion.
Housing crisis bites
More than 170,000 people in the city are living in cramped subdivided apartments, a government-commissioned study has found, underlining the scale of the city’s housing crisis. The study was carried out from January to last month by Policy21, a survey organization comprising academics from the University of Hong Kong. The Census and Statistics Department last October estimated 64,900 people live in subdivided apartments, cubicles, caged bed spaces and cocklofts, which are usually about 3.72m2 big.
Uniqlo pushes safety
The operator of Japanese cheap-chic clothing chain Uniqlo said yesterday it was pressing ahead with its own safety inspections in Bangladesh, while it considered joining a global pact on protecting workers. Fast Retailing, which operates the brand, said no decision had yet been made on the accord, which was promoted by international labor groups after a Bangladesh building collapse last month that killed 1,129 workers. The Bangladesh deal binds retailers to having independent building and fire safety inspections, and to pay for repairs.
Digital money boss nabbed
The founder of the Liberty Reserve digital currency business has been arrested in Spain on money-laundering charges, Costa Rican authorities said. Officials in the Central American nation said in a statement that Arthur Budovsky was detained as part of an investigation that also involved US authorities. Police raided three homes and five businesses linked to the Costa Rica-based Liberty Reserve, and seized papers and digital documents that will be turned over to US authorities, the statement said. A Russian citizen was also arrested in the case in Costa Rica on Friday last week and will be extradited to the US.
Consumers gloomy: index
French consumers are deeply pessimistic, being as gloomy as they have ever been since 1987, a monthly index compiled by the national statistics institute INSEE showed yesterday. The index, which measures household confidence, fell to 79 points this month from 83 points last month. This reading is equal to the lowest level reached since 1987, in July 2008, at the height of the financial crisis. Households also believe that the unemployment rate, now at 11 percent, will rise.
Chevron joins oil venture
Chevron Corp has agreed to lend US$2 billion to a joint venture with Venezuela’s state oil company to boost production in an oil field in Zulia state. Venezuela’s PVDSA oil company owns 60 percent of the venture, Petroboscan, and Chevron 40 percent. Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez says financing will help boost production in the Boscan field from 107,000 barrels a day to 127,000 barrels.