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With the holiday season approaching and the academic semester coming to a close the globalEDGE team would like to wish our readers happy holidays. We have enjoyed posting blogs and interacting with all of you on social media throughout the year.

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A necessary and functional accessory for students of all ages, day-to-day employees, and travelers across the globe, backpacks are widely consumed as a staple of transit and activity.  With their versatility that a variety of uses—from storing school supplies, to holding electronics, to carrying clothes and food—backpacks provide users with many ways to tote their belongings and are one of the most invested in goods with total sales value projected to climb over 25 billion dollars in 2018, and increase to over 30 billion dollars by 2021.  The backpack market currently holds a value of about 16-20 billion dollars and is expected to hold over 25 billion dollars in 2022.

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It is not easy for a company to expand internationally and achieve success at the same time. So, what is it about Apple, Google, Amazon, and global companies that make them the successful international businesses that they are today? How have these companies mastered their global marketing strategies and expanded beyond their initial customer bases? There are several traits that distinguish companies with accelerated global growth from smaller local companies.

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Plastics are an inseparable aspect of modern society. From packaging of household items to industry appliances, plastics are always depended on. Because of its versatility and cheap production cost, we have over-relied on it. Plastic production has grown over 20-fold in the past 50 years. It is expected to grow even more in the years to come. The problem isn't the production, but how plastics are handled after usage. Landfills are rapidly being filled up and oceans are becoming polluted as well. On average, only 9% of all plastic wastes are recycled. However, countries and companies around the world are trying to come up with new solutions.

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Qatar, a small, wealthy country in the Middle East, announced its resignation from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on December 3rd.  OPEC is the most powerful oil cartel in the world, holding a near monopoly over the oil industry that allows the group--which now consists of 14 countries, most notably of which are Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq, and Iran—to exercise nearly complete control of oil prices and production.  Russia also holds an alliance with OPEC, more specifically with Saudi Arabia, and shares an influence on the oil market.

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Apple and smartphones will always seem to be connected, almost as Apple is a monopoly for the market. While Apple only holds 17.9% of the smartphone market industry, it is no question that they are the top tier in smartphone manufacturing and production. However, Apple is currently being trialed in a case that claims Apple violated anti-trust laws in affiliation with their app store. Apple controls their app store, the only way to get apps on an iPhone is through Apple’s Appstore. The case, Apple v. Pepper, turns on what happens when iPhone users buy something at the Apple App Store. In allowing the suit, a federal appeals court said the transaction is a simple one in which consumers buy directly from Apple.  According to anti-trust laws, there are statutes developed by the U.S. Government to protect consumers from predatory business practices by ensuring that fair competition exists in an open-market economy. When looking at the definition, we must keep in mind that for Apple to be found liable, there must be clear evidence showing that consumers were harmed in some way. This is where it gets tricky because Apple is such a dominant price chooser for the application industry, that there is no clear idea if they are suppressing consumers or not. Also, it is important to note that Apple has incentives to raising the price of applications, as producers must agree to give 30% of profits in exchange for having permission to sell apps on Apple’s Appstore. While this court case is being decided, it is important to note the impact that this ruling could have on any other competitive monopolistic tech giants such as Facebook, Google, or Amazon.

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In a report released by The National Retail Federation, U.S. holiday retail sales in November and December are expected to grow between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017 sales. This will create an approximate spending of around $720 billion. In the United States, record-low unemployment numbers combined with strong consumer confidence has led to these bullish estimates regarding holiday shopping. Deloitte is predicting that U.S. e-commerce sales could reach $134 billion this holiday season.

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Imagine a video where a Fortune 500 company's CEO confesses to fraud, and his company’s stock falls by 50%. Only to find out that the video was fake. With the advance of deepfake technology, things like this could occur. Scenarios like this could have huge ramifications and they are not far from our reality, artificial intelligence and deep learning technology is making it easier to make fake videos that look realistic.

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Globalization has created a platform for the world’s corporations to become better connected and integrated. This has made it easier than ever for companies to grow and expand worldwide. This leads to an increase in demand for employees that are knowledgeable and understanding of global markets and different regions around the world. Studying international business will develop a students’ global mindset and international perspective. International business also teaches students how to deal with a variety of business strategies, management styles, and organizations.

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Stan Lee, an exceptional individual who helped to create remarkable characters like Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, and the X-Men, passed away last week at the age of 95. He was a comic book writer and more importantly, revolutionized the comic book industry. In his stories, the superheroes are more relatable. They go through hardships that normal people experiences, that the readers experiences. For example, he created a new superteam, The Fantastic Four, that broke the tradition of flawless, impeccable superheroes. He targeted his audiences well, and as a result, helped Marvel in becoming an important pillar in Hollywood.

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