globalEDGE Blog

Latin America has often been considered one of the largest areas for economic growth; however, at the end of the first fiscal quarter, the region has contracted. Despite most economies in the region continuing their steady growth paths, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela have decreased in their growth, with only Chile and Peru seeing an increase of growth. This can be attributed to global conditions, as other countries, such as China and Japan have also showed similar signs of decreased economic growth.

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A faltering economy and civil unrest are turning away potential foreign investment in South Africa. The unemployment rate is at an 11 year high of 26.4% and the stagnating economy does not provide an optimistic outlook for this rate to drop. This bleak forecast is causing massive amounts of civil unrest in the form of violent protests all across the nation.

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Despite low unemployment, the United Kingdom is currently faced with extremely low levels of productivity. As a country, the U.K. produces 30% less per hour than its counterparts in France and Germany while working on average more hours. The problem is deep-seeded and dates back to almost 1991. And although productivity was not high on the agenda during election season, Chancellor George Osbourne has stated that addressing the root causes is now a priority for Parliament.

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On Monday, Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, went to South Korea for a two-day visit with its president, Park Geun-hye. On that day, the duo signed seven agreements dealing with various economic issues, discussed investments and political issues, and improved their bilateral relations. The two countries have vastly improved their relationship, elevating their relationship to a "Special Strategic Partnership". By improving both political and economic ties between the countries and opening up special business deals, Modi's visit is one that could prove vastly beneficial to both countries and potentially the global economy.

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A group of five of the world's largest banks are due to pay a large fine after manipulating the world foreign-exchange market. These fines were brought to the banks by U.K., U.S., and Swedish regulators late last year after finding out that currency traders were using chat rooms to manipulate exchange rates. Included in these banks are JPMorgan, Barclays, Citigroup, UBS, and RBS. Many of the banks have come forward with guilty pleas, which has been unheard of in past litigations against such institutions, as most of the time banks settle litigation without any admission of fault.

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Ukraine’s economy has contracted ten of the last eleven quarters in an economic downturn that stretches back to 2012. In the first quarter of 2015 the economy contracted 18% compared to the same period last year, while Gross Domestic Product fell 7% in the same period. The underlying causes of this recession are both a downturn in the domestic market, as well as a struggle to sever its economic dependence on Russia and orient itself more towards the west, specifically the European Union.

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Oil prices dipped on Monday due to the rising value of the dollar and the potential for an oversupply of oil. Global conditions and the turmoil in the Middle East caused oil barrel prices to rise, especially due to the gains that Islamic State militants made in Iraq after seizing the provincial capital of Ramadi. In addition, the dollar continued to rise against other major currencies, thus making raw materials less affordable to holders of the euro and other currencies.

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Following a shockingly strong win for the Conservative Party in the recent United Kingdom elections, re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron promised an "in-out referendum" on the future of the U.K.'s membership within the European Union before the end of 2017. The referendum has its roots in the understandably unpopular red tape and bureaucracy that affects British business prospects within the E.U., especially with regard to the trade bloc's employment laws and health and safety issues. In spite of this, Cameron's announcement was met by fairly strong opposition within a study surveying a grouping of Britain's most influential business leaders.

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File under: France, Energy, Global Economy

Three-quarters of France’s electricity comes from nuclear power, which is a higher proportion than any other country in the world. In France alone, 220,000 people are hired to work in the energy industry. Because of this, French nuclear companies have been seen as leaders at the forefront of developing and operating uranium fueled reactors around the world. But recently, it was discovered that new power plants intended to showcase the energy industry’s latest technology are now extremely behind schedule and over budget. Problems at one site have raised doubts that it will even be completed.

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With business becoming more and more global every day, small and medium sized companies are being pushed to start exporting if they want to stay competitive. This poses a challenge for these businesses however, as exporting has become more complex. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Commerce has made available its 11th edition of A Basic Guide to Exporting; this edition has been tailored to fit small and medium size businesses' needs for exporting in today's world.

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