Business, Economics and Jobs

Macro chatter: Germany isn’t invincible and neither is Google


Home prices in major urban areas are slightly on the rise, showing an improvement in real estate sales in the United States. However, some analysts believe this only reflects the common patterns of sales rising in the spring after a slow winter, and not that real estate is actually improving.


Robyn Beck

Need to know:
Germany may be doing better than many of its European peers, but it’s not invincible.

The latest economic data from Europe’s oasis of stability suggests Germany may be on shaky ground, my colleage Siobhan Dowling reports.

Trade is slowing. Industrial orders are down. Fewer BMWs are rolling off of production lines and a closely watched business index slid in May for the first time in six months.

And the euro zone’s continued struggles don’t bode well for Germany.

Contagion, anyone? 

Want to know:
Apple is getting even friendlier with Facebook.

The mobile computing giant is making it easier for people to post photos, locations and links to Facebook from Apple devices.

The partnership is supposed to make for a stronger competitor to Google, Financial Times reported. But Apple’s already picking its own fight with Google.

Apple’s unveiled a homegrown maps app that’s discplacing Google Maps as the iPhone standard. Google Maps and the iPhone go way back to the phone’s launch in 2007. Unlike Google Maps, Apple Maps will include links to Yelp reviews. 

Dull but important:
If you feel poorer than you did a few years ago, it’s because you are.

The median net worth of American families slid nearly 40 percent between 2007 and 2010, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest survey of consumer finances.

The big slip is due largely to falling incomes and home values. Declining incomes have hit the middle-class especially hard and have zapped workers optimism about their income potential, the Fed said.

Back when times were good, American families enjoyed a median net worth of $126,000. Now they’re worth about $77,000.

Just because:
Americans may not be buying as many homes as they once did, but foreigners are picking up some of the slack.

Asians, Canadians, Europeans and Latin Americans have embarked on a home buying spree as US house prices have continued to languish and several key currencies have strengthened against the dollar, the Wall Street Journal said.

International buyers accounted for nearly 9 percent of the dollars spent on residential real estate in the year ended in March, the paper said, citing data from the National Association of Realtors. That’s up 24 percent from a year earlier.

American real estate is especially popular with buyers from Canada, China, Mexico, India and the U.K. They’re shopping heavily in several states hardest hit by the housing downturn: Florida, California and Arizona.

As Elida Jacobsen Justo, who works at a Manhattan hotel with units for sale, told the Journal, “Money is always looking for a place to go." 

Strange but true:
Move over Luanda, Tokyo is now the world’s most expensive city for expats. The Japanese capital beat the last year’s winner Luanda on this year’s Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living Survey.

Expats in Tokyo can expect to pay about $8.15 for a cup of coffee while a 2-bedroom luxury party pad can cost nearly $5,000 a month, Bloomberg noted. Meanwhile in Luanda, a pair of jeans costs about $174.

New York, also no stranger to high rents which drive up the cost of living for expats around the world, came in at No. 33 on Mercer’s list of 214 cities.
Expats looking for a bargain, may want to consider Karachi, the cheapest city on Mercer’s list.

Mercer uses New York prices as a baseline and rank cities based on the prices for 200 common expenses.