globalEDGE Blog

Having lived in the United States since 1987, off and on, and then becoming a U.S citizen in 2004 after Sweden allowed dual citizenship starting in 2001, I’ve become entrenched in the “American” culture and way of live. I’m happy to live in the United States; it’s a great country with great opportunities, but it is not America!

America consists of 55 countries and territories, including of course the United States of America. The U.S.A. is the largest of the 55 entities, with more than 320 million people, followed by Brazil with about 205 million, Mexico with about 121 million, and then the population figures drop below 50 million for all other countries and territories. Colombia, Argentina, Canada, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and Ecuador - in that order – are in the top 10 most populous countries in America as well. These top 10 most populous countries in America make up about 88 percent of the total population of some 982 billion people in the region which, by continent, includes North America and South America.

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As someone who played tennis at a high-level from kindergarten into my 20s (plus engaged competitively in other sports), I have always believed my drive to do well vis-à-vis the competition (versus others and versus my own past accomplishments), in anything I set out to do, is rooted in a values-structure tracing to my competitive tennis days. Some even argue that tennis players make the best employees! Now, this is not about tennis; it’s about former athletes being global leaders.

But this is not any athlete. Most people play sports as a part of their upbringing. If you are like me, I had my children try out a bunch of different sports to see what they liked, didn’t like, and what could diversify their mindsets. This recreational, low-level sports engagement makes for well-rounded individuals, I believe, but doesn’t make them leaders per se. High-level sports, at least college sports or equivalent, and preferably some kind of professional level where you can at least make some money, is what sets the tone for global leadership.

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File under: Finance, Global Economy

From 2012 and 2015, it was estimated that budget deficits for governments in the Eurozone were reduced by 40% because of lower borrowing costs. The reduction in the cost of borrowing can be attributed to central banks policies. Low bond yields allow for governments to reduce their deficits and possibly lighten their current austerity measures, and lately, many yields have fallen into negative territory.

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Somewhat provocatively, let's pose the question: Are good dictators better for a country (and the world) than bad elected presidents?

Traveling the world, mainly for business-related reasons, has gotten me thinking about country governments, infrastructure-building, and the world community. The United Nations has 193 members, which means almost all countries in the world are UN members (54 countries or territories, recognized as such, are not, including notable exceptions such as Taiwan, Kosovo, Vatican City, and Palestine).

On my most recent trip to Kenya and the meetings of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Investment Forum, there was a plethora of countries represented and numerous high-level officials. And, since the meeting was in Africa, most of the 55 countries in Africa and its 1.2 billion people were represented by officials. Africa has seen its share of “dictators” and elected leaders, and that begs the question of which is the best – it seems the answer should be easy, but is it?

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China has set a deadline to significantly increase its robotic presence in its manufacturing industry by 2020. Currently, there are 36 robotics per 10,000 industrial workers; the 2020 goal is 150 per 10,000 workers. The driving forces of this shift include labor shortages due to an aging population, as well as the rising of wages due to decreased interest for low-level jobs. 

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In 2009, Brazil won the 2016 Summer Olympics bid. Their economy was healthy, the sixth largest in the world by 2011, and the Olympics were expected to be exceptionally profitable. Despite this, with less than one month until the start of the Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil may be experiencing one of their worst economic crises since the 1930's. Brazil has been declared a state of financial disaster, and has remained entrapped in a recession causing their economy to shrink 3.8 percent in 2015. A federal bailout of $900 million given to the government was insufficient to revert the crisis. Government corruption, tax exemptions, falling commodity and oil prices, and the Zika outbreak are all contributing factors to the economic turmoil.

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File under: Gas Prices, Oil, Global Economy

U.S. crude oil prices have been falling for the past two years and some claim that prices may not change until 2019, when oil production will reach its peak. Ever since the global oil-price collapse, oil has become a lot more affordable for consumers, hitting a two-month low on Wednesday, July 20th. As a result of excess oil productions, many suspect that oil prices may go back to $20 per barrel while others predict prices to reach $80 a barrel because the excess is overestimated.

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Want a quick way to compare data across multiple countries? The globalEDGE Comparator Tool offers an easy way to find labor, health, economic, and trade data for various countries, using data from the World Bank. Data fields include population, total tax rate, adult literacy, foreign direct investment, and more. The tools allows users to compare up to five data fields and twenty countries at once, in an easy to read format. Check out the Comparator Tool, a great way to gain more international business insights!

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This blog was written using a wealth of materials promoted by the United Nations, UNCTAD, and various UN Forums, such as the World Investment Forum, but with my take on the implications and where to go from here. This inclusion of official, publicly available UN materials sets the tone for the debate about UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 2030 Agenda, funding and bold leadership required, and the worldwide collaboration needed by the UN’s 193 member states. My take is that collaboration – whether it be structured as a series of multilateral agreements and/or regional agreements – is the way to go over any form of isolationism.

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