Venezuela's economy is spiraling downward with no end in sight. The country has the highest inflation in the world, topping countries such as Sudan and Iran. There are five apparent causes that have led to the downfall in Venezuela's economy, including political instability, food crisis, oil prices, currency exchange rates, and the country's default. Because of Venezuela's hurting economy, many companies from around the world are taking hits on profits and cutting back business within the country.
Japan’s tough economic sledding continues. The Land of the Rising Sun faces currency appreciation without the underlying fundamentals to support it. A myriad of issues have led to weak economic conditions in Japan, and the recent appreciation of the yen isn’t helping at all. In fact, it is a counteractive force to Japanese monetary policy, and is causing headaches for Japanese firms.
This Monday, the Central Statistics Office of India announced that the country’s economy had grown by 7.3% last quarter, making it one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Already the 3rd largest economy in the world, India outpaced China’s growth of 6.8% in the same period, and far surpassed its own growth rate of 6.6% in the same period last year. Although it may seem odd that India’s economy is growing faster than China’s, it has happened before. According to the International Monetary Fund, India’s economy outpaced China’s in 1981, 1989, 1990, and 1999, but 2015 is the first case of this occurring in this millennium. However, as stock prices have recently dipped and a new calculation of GDP has been utilized, economists and analysts are reluctant to believe that India’s GDP is the only piece of the puzzle.
Baby Boomers worked in a strict hierarchical structure: you stayed in a position for a certain amount of time before being promoted, you reported to your boss and kept conversations strictly employer/employee related, you worked nine to five in the office, and you rarely left your original firm in search of new opportunities. Millennials are here to change that.
The Bank of Japan reduced interest rates to below zero on Friday, after years of keeping them in the positive range. The negative interest rates will be placed initially on reserves valued at 10-30 trillion yen and will apply only to new reserves that financial institutions deposit at the central bank. The goal is that the reduction would cause the real interest rates to decrease, thus stimulating consumption and investment. This policy will decrease rates for lending and isn’t supposed to negatively affect banks. The Bank of Japan will be dividing the account balances into 3 tiers, and the interest rates placed depending on the type of reserves that are placed in the Bank of Japan.
Art sales reached an incredible peak over the past few years. Billionaires and other wealthy art enthusiasts around the world have taken joy in paying exorbitant prices for pieces by both well-known and up-and-coming artists. Many of these pieces are fed into personal collections, some of which are put on display. The art collecting habit, popular among the global affluent, has driven prices of popular art to the hundreds of millions. Big name international auctioneers have thrived and the industry has reached unprecedented levels of prosperity. However, 2015 saw a decrease in reported sales for the first time in six years, causing many to believe the art boom is starting to decline.
Auto maker giant, General Motors, recently announced its fourth quarter earnings. After a record year, GM reported net income of $6.3 billion in the last quarter of 2015. This was caused by consumers buying less gas efficient models, as gas in United States has continued to stay very low at around $2 a gallon. Sales in North America rose 8.6% in the final quarter and 14% in China. This could have a great impact heading into 2016, where consumers were initially predicted to go more into electric vehicles and more gas efficient models. If the current trend stays true, then the first quarter of 2016 could spike as well. In Europe, the company continues to struggle as they are still in the negative in the difficult continent. However, GM's CFO has stated “Breaking even in Europe in 2016 is a companywide focus and we’re confident that we’re going to achieve that,” leading many to view GM's prospects in the region optimistically.
Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, is seeking loans from the World Bank and African Development Bank (ADB) to help fund its forecasted budget deficit. Historically, Nigeria’s budget has been financed primarily with oil revenues, but the recent plummet in oil prices has slashed the amount of funding produced by this sector. Nigeria is not alone in this situation, as other nations such as Azerbaijan, Venezuela, Algeria, and Iraq are also in dire economic straights due to an overreliance on oil production.
After a tedious war that took a toll on its people, Chechnya remained under the control of Russia following its annexation. After a very close outcome on the 2012 referendum, Scotland remained a loyal entity of the Queen’s monarchy. While both attempts of secession were predictably unsuccessful, it seems Spain’s biggest problem isn’t going to be a gruesome war or rioting masses in the streets. If Cataluña is successful in efforts of secession from Spain, it’ll be out of the frying pan and into the fire for the Iberian democracy.
The World Health Organization (WHO) will convene in an emergency committee in Geneva, Switzerland this Monday, January 31. The topic of this emergency meeting will be the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which is spreading “explosively” across Latin America. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, addressed the executive board stating that “The level of alarm is extremely high…Questions abound. We need to get some answers quickly.”