Linda Yueh

Linda Yueh Chief business correspondent

Welcome to Linda's Line – where I analyse key developments in global business and the world economy and how these affect our everyday lives

Fridgeonomics and a 'zero waste' world

  • 30 January 2015
  • From the section Business
Coloured fridges

After a five-year effort, Unilever tells me that it has achieved zero waste in all of its 240 factories in 67 countries worldwide. It says that it generates efficiency savings of €200m a year by eliminating disposal costs. Smaller businesses like restaurants have aimed for zero wastage, but Unilever - which makes PG Tips and Ben & Jerry's ice cream - says it's the first global company to do so.

It's a fairly remarkable claim and achievement since undoubtedly landfill waste has a huge environmental cost. The UK government estimates that households in England alone generate 177 million tonnes of waste each year.

So, if it's good for business and the environment, then why hadn't Unilever and other businesses done this before?

I put that question to Pier Luigi Sigismondi who heads Unilever's supply chain. He said that the ethos around sustainability has shifted sufficiently to get one of the world's biggest companies to launch this initiative. Remember that Unilever has had problems with environmental groups; for instance, as the biggest buyer of palm oil. Environmental groups have been concerned with the rate of deforestation in places such as Indonesia due to palm oil extraction. So, the stakeholder pressures appear to be there.

When I asked if up-front capital costs are what puts businesses off, because most are geared for shorter-term returns, Mr Sigismondi pointed out that this was also changing as the biggest companies increasingly recognise the need to address sustainability.

Fridge on sale in China
The percentage of households in China with a fridge has soared in the past decade

Read full article Fridgeonomics and a 'zero waste' world

When 40% revenue growth isn’t enough

  • 29 January 2015
  • From the section Business
Alibaba sign

Alibaba, the world's largest e-commerce firm, has reported annual revenue growth of 40% in its debut report since its record-breaking share flotation. That would be impressive for most companies, but the $4.2bn earned fell short of analysts' expectations of $4.4bn.

However, earnings per share beat consensus forecasts at 81 cents versus 75 cents, and the margin on earnings rose to 58% from 50.5%. Alibaba says that gross merchandise sales volumes rose by 49% with active buyers up 45% from a year earlier on its Chinese retail sites.

Read full article When 40% revenue growth isn’t enough

Is there a diversity dividend?

  • 25 January 2015
  • From the section Business
Talking Business debate at Davos

Is there a diversity dividend? That was the question that we posed in a special Talking Business programme from the World Economic Forum, in Davos.

There is evidence, for instance, that boards of directors with greater diversity generate more dividends. That means greater returns to shareholders and fewer bonuses paid to managers.

Read full article Is there a diversity dividend?

World's "most mysterious" chief executive

  • 23 January 2015
  • From the section Business

In our media-saturated age, it's rare to have a chief executive who doesn't speak to the press or, indeed, very often publicly.

Yet, the chief executive and founder of the world's largest telecommunications company is rarely seen.

Read full article World's "most mysterious" chief executive

Japan to be year late in hitting inflation target

  • 22 January 2015
  • From the section Business
Shoppers in Tokyo
The Bank of Japan is trying to get prices in the shops to rise

Bank of Japan (BOJ) governor Haruhiko Kuroda has told me that its inflation target of 2% why the inflation target is not likely to be hit in April

He now believes that it'll take another year - at the end of the 2015 financial year, which is March 2016 - before Japan sees consumer prices rise by 2%.

Read full article Japan to be year late in hitting inflation target

How do you get women into the workplace?

  • 17 January 2015
  • From the section Business
Graduates celebrating
Women graduates now outnumber men but they face obstacles to being successful in the workplace

If as many women were involved in work as men, then global output could be boosted as much as 40%.

For countries like Japan, getting women into work is a policy priority as it could raise GDP by some 14%.

Read full article How do you get women into the workplace?

Why the Swiss franc can't escape being a safe haven

  • 15 January 2015
  • From the section Business
Swiss National Bank sign

"You can't bet against a central bank" was what I heard frequently when the Swiss National Bank rather successfully maintained a cap on the Swiss franc of 1.20 to the euro for three years.

But, now dramatically, it has surprised markets by scrapping the cap and unsurprisingly, the franc has soared by nearly 30%.

Read full article Why the Swiss franc can't escape being a safe haven

Will policymakers 'look through' lower oil prices?

  • 13 January 2015
  • From the section Business
Oil barrels

The effect of the halving of oil prices since last summer is unsurprisingly reducing headline inflation and raising the spectre of deflation - or price falls - in Europe and elsewhere.

In the UK, the Consumer Prices Index is at a joint record low of 0.5% as goods prices have fallen by 1% from a year ago while services prices rose by 2.3%.

Read full article Will policymakers 'look through' lower oil prices?

Back to the Future: What does 2015 have in store?

  • 5 January 2015
  • From the section Business
Back to the Future

For those of you who remember the Back to the Future movies, 2015 was the year to which Michael J. Fox travelled forward in time.

The movie predicted that we would be driving flying cars, using hoverboards… more on that later.

Read full article Back to the Future: What does 2015 have in store?

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About Linda

As chief business correspondent, Linda focuses on the changing nature of global business and how it affects our everyday lives. She is the presenter of Talking Business with Linda Yueh on BBC World News. She is particularly interested in the emergence of China as the world's second largest economy, and unlocking what it means for the global economy. She travels globally to uncover new perspectives.

Linda has maintained her academic links as a fellow of St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, as an adjunct professor at London Business School, and as a visiting professor at Peking University. She was previously economics editor at Bloomberg TV and a corporate lawyer resident in New York, Beijing and Hong Kong. She is also the author of several books.

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