globalEDGE Blog

On July 18, the seventh annual Global Innovation Index (GII) was released at the B20 Australia Summit in Sydney. This year, the report's theme dealt with the Human Factor in Innovation, referring to the role that people play in the overall innovative success of different countries. While Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Sweden topped the list, a significant change was seen: nations in the region of Sub-Saharan Africa showed the most overall improvement on the list. Seventeen African nations, including Mauritius, Seychelles, and South Africa, jumped up in the rankings by several placings. Sub-Saharan Africa has already seen great strides in economic growth and freedom, and this new development spells good news for Africa and its future.

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The second richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, made a proposal this week that might excite employees around the globe. Slim, the Mexican telecom magnate, told those at a business conference that he thinks employers should move to shorter work weeks that promote increased leisure time for employees without losing productivity. His proposal had employees reporting to work only three days a week, giving workers four day weekends year-round. He believes that the shorter weeks would help to boost employee morale and increase leisure activities, which in turn would have a positive effect on the economy.

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File under: Economics, Europe, Germany

Angela Merkel, the current chancellor of Germany, has been reigning over the country for 8 years. Her approval rating of 71% seems expected when you consider the 2014 estimated GDP growth in Germany. Compared to the Eurozone average of 0.25% Germany’s domestic demand and increase in construction have been great assets to the country’s economy. Despite her success as chancellor, some believe that she is not taking actions that will positively impact the long-term economy.

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File under: globalEDGE, Economy

The economy pages for each country on globalEDGE have been redesigned to provide additional economic information covering the entire spectrum of a country’s economy. The new pages have an interactive interface, where you can find the major economic indicators of a country alongside time series graphs of these selected indicators. The page showcases reliable economic information from various globally known organizations. There are six different sections on the new page including economic facts, GDP figures, economic indicators, labor & employment figures, and trade values. A radar graph is available in the last section, where the economic snapshots of countries are represented using a percentile rank system on six different dimensions. The radar graph may be utilized as a useful tool to compare the economies of countries.

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The Russian defense industry, despite its recorded 28% growth rate over the past decade, has shifted its sights towards Latin America due to the crisis in Syria and changing economic and ideological ties towards the European Union throughout former Soviet satellite states. Latin America, and especially Venezuela, has experienced a 61% growth rate of its military expenditures since 2004, which is great news for a needy Russian defense industry that has seen the disappearance of its primary trading partners of Eastern Europe, Iraq, Libya, Iran, and Syria.

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For more than three months now, the online retailing giant Amazon has been locked in a feud with the publishing company Hachette, which is part of the French media group Lagardère. At first, the feud seemed to start as a pricing dispute over e-books distributed by Hachette. Soon, the disagreements began to multiply and cover even more issues, leading to drastic courses of action by both companies. Booksellers everywhere are nervously anticipating this battle, for whatever decision the two rivals come to will set an important precedent for the relationship between Amazon and publishers. However, it is unclear when this war will end.

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In what would be a great engineering feat, plans for a canal to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in Nicaragua have been finalized. The idea of a Nicaraguan canal goes back to the 19th century, when officials in the United States looked into the feasibility of a canal project. Nicaragua ended up being passed over when Panama was chosen as the site for a trans-oceanic canal by Congress in 1902. After the Panama Canal’s construction, talks of a Nicaraguan canal died down until the early 21st century. With increasing world trade and the need for quick shipping, the idea of a second canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was proposed by the Nicaraguan government.

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File under: Agriculture, Brazil, Michigan

As South America’s largest market, Brazil is becoming a global player with increasing consumer expenditure. Between 2007 and 2012, Brazilian consumer spending on food and non-alcoholic beverages increased 71.4% due to an expanding middle class, according to Euromonitor. American food and agriculture exporters have the potential to tap into this growing market.

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Alibaba is a Chinese corporation that operates as a bank, marketplace and a search engine. The company is the largest online retailer in the world, handling 80% of all online retail sales in China. The company handled more money in transactions last year than Amazon and eBay put together. It’s made up of three major websites that have millions of users all over the world. The three main sites are Alibaba.com, Taobao, and Tmall.  Taobao is a shopping website that gives seven million merchants a place to sell, and Tmall is a retail site where major businesses such as Apple and Nike are able to sell products directly to Chinese shoppers. Alibaba does not currently have a date listed for its IPO, but it is expected to go public in early August. It will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Over the years, Vietnam has been consistently at battle with the United States over the trade of catfish. The country’s ability to export catfish for a lesser price has made them a top exporter and caused the domestic industry to contract by 60% in the last decade. With local catfish farmers losing money, a so called war was waged starting in 2008 with the introduction of a catfish inspection program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And although the program has yet to go into effect, numerous Pacific exporters are already protesting its introduction.

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