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Global equity markets have taken investors on a roller coaster ride this past week.  After reaching new all-time highs in late January, investors were expecting the steady gains they have grown accustomed to over the past year to continue. Markets began to take a turn last Friday, seemingly spurred by a better than expected U.S. jobs report. Investors were on edge that increased employment could create inflationary pressure causing central banks to hike interest rates. Friday’s losses continued into Monday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average recording its largest ever points decline and biggest percentage loss in nearly seven years. When the dust began to settle Monday after hours, the US-based blue-chip index lost 7% in two days.

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With 50 million tons of waste, the Estrutural Dump in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia is the largest dump in Latin America. After operating for nearly 70 years, the expansive waste pile was shut down earlier this month by the Brazilian government due to a rising risk of water supply contamination. While the shutdown of Estrutural was long overdue, it will have a devastating effect on the tens of thousands of nearby shantytown residents who live alongside the dump and depend on it to support their livelihood.

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With over $25 billion in global sales, the banana is the world’s most popular fruit. However, the spread of a fungal disease, commonly known as Panama Disease, is threatening the existence of the banana as we know it. The soil-borne fungus has already damaged approximately one-third of Asia and Australia’s banana plantations and has spread west to the Middle East and Africa. If the disease makes its way to Latin America and the Caribbean, which account for 85% of world banana exports, it could be game over for the banana as we know it.

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Created in 1960 via the union of newly independent British and Italian Somaliland, the coastal country in the Horn of Africa has a long history of instability, insurgency, and anarchy. Less than a decade after its creation, the elected government of Somalia was overthrown in a coup that ushered in an authoritarian socialist rule that saw the nationalization of the economy of persecution of political dissidents. The authoritarian government collapsed in 1991, after more than 30 years in power, creating a power vacuum that led to decades of civil strife and anarchy with a lack of central government.

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With a population just over half a million and total land area of 1,000 square miles, Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in the world. Despite their size, Luxembourg is a major player in the global financial industry. With $4 trillion in assets in custody of financial institutions, the landlocked Central European Grand Duchy is the second largest investment fund domicile in the world, behind only the United States. The financial industry in Luxembourg is responsible for over 35% of the Grand Duchy’s $62 billion GDP (PPP).

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Located off the South Eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is the world’s fifth biggest island. Historically, the island played a key role for international traders dating back to Asian and Persian traders in the 7th century. Madagascar subsequently served as a pirate stronghold in the 17th century and a major slave trading center into the 18th century. Madagascar was conquered and colonized by the French colonial empire in the 16th century but regained independence in 1960.

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Three weeks ago, Robert Mugabe, who at age 93 had served as Zimbabwe’s head of state for 37 years, purged his vice president, and longtime loyal supporter, Emmerson Mnangagwa in a move which elevated Mr. Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife to next in the line of succession. This move sparked outrage within the country and ultimately cumulated in a de facto military coup that forced the resignation of Robert Mugabe. The three tumultuous weeks came to a close last Friday with the swearing in of the former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa as the nation’s new president. While civil order appears to have been restored, the question still remains as to what the future holds for Zimbabwe’s economy.

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This is the third post in a five-part blog series focused on International Education Week.

Advancements in technology have led to the world being more interconnected than ever before. Today we are a mere click away from being face to face with our counterparty, who could be halfway across the world. This interconnectedness has had an incalculable effect on society, both from a social and business perspective. It is now impossible to live in the silo on one’s home nation without being impacted by the events or people of other countries.

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#BeurreGate, which translates to “Butter Gate”, has been trending across France as consumers are finding the butter shelves at their local supermarkets empty. Many of these social media posts have been satirical in nature including false advertisements with absurd prices and even a short film, which depicts a post-apocalyptic France that has descended into anarchy without access to the national staple. While the true situation is not nearly as dire, French consumers are finding it increasingly difficult to purchase butter at their local supermarket.

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This is part two of a five-part blog series on the evolution of the textile industry over time.

The textile industry has been shaping international business and cultural trends for thousands of years. In fact, ancient Chinese silk was one of the catalysts for the formation of the world’s first international commercial highway. The Silk Road, or Silk Route, was an ancient network of trade routes spanning from China through India and Central Asia. Ultimately, these routes connected two of the greatest and powerful ancient empires, the Chinese and the Romans.

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Automotive manufacturers across the globe are investing in electric vehicles and its accompanying technology at unprecedented levels. Just this week, Detroit based General Motors announced plans to introduce two more electric vehicles in the United States over the next year 18 months and 20 vehicles globally in the next six years. Not to be outdone, cross-town automotive competitor, Ford Motor Company, disclosed that they had formed a new team, dubbed “Team Edison”, to help direct investments toward new electrified vehicles expected in the coming years. This trend is not unique to the U.S. German auto manufacturer, Volkswagen, recently stated that they plan to invest $83 billion worldwide into rolling out 300 electric vehicle models by 2030. This investment is a marks a major shift in strategy, as VW was firmly committed to diesel fuel technology prior to their 2015 emissions scandal. Toyota, Nissan, and Mercedes-Benz have also announced plans to increase production of electric vehicles, either themselves or through joint ventures with other manufacturers.

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In part three of this week's five-part blog series on cash crops blog, we look at the economic effects of illicit cash crops. 

With this month’s blog series focusing on cash crops, globalEDGE has decided to look at the role illicit cash crops play in the global economy. Illicit cash crops are plants that are used in the production of illegal narcotics. With a multibillion-dollar global market, it is unquestionable that illicit cash crops play a significant role in economies across the globe.

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Initial Coin Offerings, or ICO’s, are a new and quickly growing way for startups to raise capital. Despite being a relatively new phenomenon the total value of ICO’s has been proliferating with nearly $1.5 billion dollars being raised since the start of the year. That value seems outlandish when compared to the mere $256 million of funding that was raised in the entirety of 2016.

While the value of ICO’s has grown nearly six-fold in the past year, many people are still in the dark regarding the new trend that is sweeping investors and startups across the globe. Essentially, ICO’s are a cross between more traditional IPO’s and crowdfunding. During and ICO a company issues “coins”, or digital tokens, similar to the popular cryptocurrencies bitcoin and Ethereum. Investors can then purchase these coins and conceivably can use them to purchase a good or service from the company at some point in the future. The value of these coins will theoretically increase in value, as long as others continue to invest. An important distinction between IPO’s and ICO’s is that investors in an ICO do not receive equity in the company and don’t really have anything tangible behind their investment besides a promise for the ability to be able to purchase a good or service from the company in the future. A second differentiator between traditional methods of raising capital and ICO’s is the amount of regulation. Given that the concept of an ICO is so new, the space is largely unregulated allowing companies to prepare for and launch in ICO in a matter of weeks as compared to the months it takes for companies to clear regulatory approval for IPO’s.

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The Life Cycle Hypothesis (LCH) is an economic model developed by famed economist Franco Modigliani in the early 1950’s, which attempts to explain the saving and consumption patterns of individuals over their lifetime. The crux of the hypothesis is that by assuming all individuals maintain stable lifestyles, they will plan to even out their consumption as best they can over their lifetime. This implies that an individual will transition through multiple phases of saving and consumption patterns throughout their life. In their youth, before entering the workforce, an individual will borrow against future earnings, many to pay for education and training. Once that individual enters the workforce, they will become a net saver, as they put money away for their eventual retirement. Finally, in the twilight stages of their life, once an individual retires, they will become a dis-saver, as they begin to drain their accumulated retirement savings.

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Since implementing market reforms in 1978, China has recognized the fastest sustained economic expansion in history, with GDP growth averaging almost 10%. Much of China’s assent to the second largest economy in the world can be attributed to the growth and development of their manufacturing industry. In 1990, China accounted for less than 3% of the global manufacturing output by value; today they account for nearly 25%. However, the economic and demographic trends that stimulated China’s meteoric rise are shifting and China is being forced to shift their manufacturing strategies to remain on top of global manufacturing.

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On March 29th, Britain is expected to formally trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which will open a two-year time window to negotiate the exact terms of the British exit from the European trade bloc. With all of the uncertainty surrounding what will become of the current free trade system between the United Kingdom and the rest of the European Union (EU), companies are taking a strong proactive approach to mitigate potential risk rather than waiting until 2019 to know the exact ramifications a post-Brexit trade deal will have on this business.

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The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is an independent organization that conducts research on global security. More specifically SIPRI collects data on military expenditures and the international arms trade. SIPRI released their latest data for 2016, this Monday, February 21st.

The headline of their latest data release is that global arms trade volume has reached its highest point since the end of the Cold War in 1990. While the overall global uptick is intriguing in its own right, there are also several interesting trends at both the region and country level.

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On Monday, January 30th, Morocco was readmitted as a member state of the African Union (AU) following a summit at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Morocco had previously withdrew from the AU’s predecessor, the Organization for African Unity, in 1984 in protest of the organization's decision to allow the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) membership. Morocco and the SADR, which is not officially recognized by the UN, have been in conflict over the Western Sahara region since 1975 when Spain withdrew its colonial power. Morocco’s readmittance will likely have significant geopolitical ramifications in the coming years. However, placing the politics to the side, Morocco joining the AU will also have significant economic effects.

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China’s central bank, known as the Peoples Bank of China, or PBOC, is cracking down on the popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin, as part of their latest attempt to stem China’s capital outflow amidst the decline of the Yuan. The Chinese Yuan is currently under immense pressure due in part to the slowdown of growth in the Chinese economy and increasing uncertainty about its future prospects. The currency depreciated 6.6% against the US Dollar in 2016, and in order to prevent a further decline, the PBOC was forced to sell around $26 billion foreign exchange reserves. This selloff, coupled with the comparative rise of the US Dollar caused China’s reserves to fall to a six year low of $3.011 trillion.

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The Zimbabwe central bank issued its first currency since 2009 on Monday, in an effort to ease the nation’s shortage of US dollars, which is their primary tender. This move, which was first announced back in May, has sparked outrage across the nation, leading to several violent anti-government protests and demonstrations. In order to understand the indignation of the Zimbabwean people, one must look at the past decade of currency history within the South African nation.

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At the turn of the century in 1800, only 2% of the world’s population lived in cities. Today that percentage is nearly 54%, meaning a majority of the world’s population lives in cities and urban areas. This rapid urbanization, a significant portion of which has occurred in the last 50 years, has created a unique set of challenges and opportunities unlike anything mankind has ever faced.

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For the past five years the European Union and Canada have been negotiating the terms of a comprehensive free trade agreement. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, would effectively eliminate 98% of tariffs between Canada and the EU, leading some experts to predict an increase in trade of over 20%. CETA was in its final form, with a signing ceremony scheduled for this Thursday, October 26th, but the deal was blocked at the last minute by Wallonia, the French speaking region of Belgium.

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Earlier this month on October 5th, Brazil’s congress approved the key points of a polarizing bill, which would allow foreign investment in the nation's offshore oil fields. The bill overturns parts of a 2010 bill which was aimed at increasing government control over the lucrative oil fields. This law mandated that the state-run oil company, Petrobras, be the lead operator and hold a minimum of a 30% stake in any offshore drilling operations in so-called “pre-salt” fields.

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The world is facing its worst refugee crisis since World War II. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNCR), there are 21.3 million refugees across the globe. A vast majority of these refugees come from Africa and the Middle East, with Syrians accounting for nearly one-fourth of the total refugee population. Many of these refugees are flocking to the nation of Turkey, which is currently playing host to 2.5 million refugees, nearly one million more than any other nation. These refugees flock to Turkey with the hope of eventually journeying to the developed economies of Europe.

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With the world population more than doubling from 3.035 billion people in 1960 to today’s global population of approximately 7.347 billion, and with UN projections estimating a global population of 9.7 billion by 2050, there has been much rhetoric and concern over the social, environmental, and economic impact of this growth. Many of the fastest growing nations in the world have gone as far as implementing government policies and programs aimed at stemming this rapid growth, the most notable of which was the Chinese one-child policy, which was introduced in 1978 and began to be phased out only last year. While there is no questioning the legitimacy and seriousness of the issues caused by rapid population growth, there is also a myriad of other issues, equal in severity, that stem from the fact that the world population is not growing fast enough, particularly in developed nations. The focus of this article will be on the latter set of population growth issues, those which can be linked to the insufficient population growth.

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On June 23rd of this year, the United Kingdom will vote in referendum on their future with the European Union. Their potential exit, which has been dubbed “The Brexit”, would undoubtedly have major ramifications on the European economy, and the global economy as a whole. One of the ramifications of a Brexit on the rest of Europe that could possibly be overlooked or underestimated, is the effect on employment throughout the entire EU.

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A Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) is an investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Essentially, when using an SRI framework, an investor not only considers a company’s financial information but also the way in which the company operates. A major trend in recent years with SRI is the sustainability and environmental impact of a company. The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment’s (US SIF) Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States found that as of 2013, approximately one out of every six dollars under professional management in the U.S. was invested according to SRI strategies. This number is staggering, especially when put in the context that the United States lags behind many other nations in Socially Responsible Investment.

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Named after the town in Luxembourg where the agreement was signed, the Schengen Agreement allows for the dissolution of internal borders and implementation of passport-free movement within its member nations. After taking effect in 1995, the Schengen Area is currently comprised of 26 European nations of which 22 are also members of the European Union. The four non-EU members are Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, while the only six EU members outside the Schengen zone are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania, and the United Kingdom. Since its implementation, the Schengen agreement has eased the flow of both goods and services across the area providing a major economic benefit to member economies with people making 1.3 billion crossings of the European Union’s internal borders annually, along with the crossing of 57 million trucks carrying approximately $3.7 trillion of goods. Naturally, this opening of borders has been instrumental in the growth of many industries across the Schengen zone, specifically tourism and transportation. However, after the recent terrorist attacks in France and Belgium, the Schengen Agreement, and all its associated economic benefits, could be in jeopardy.

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Arctic temperatures are rising at double the rate of anywhere else on the planet, subsequently leading to polar ice caps' permanent coverage to shrink by 10% a decade, a rate which could result in ice free summers in the Arctic by the end of this century. While the Arctic thaw is a major concern from an environmental standpoint, it is also having significant implications on the global transportation industry.

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The online course modules section on globalEDGE, which can be located in the reference desk, provides a wealth of interactive educational tools pertinent both for the classroom and executive training. Modules contain updated case studies and anecdotes that are relevant in the ever changing international business environment. Some of the most popular categories of online course modules are the Culture, Exporting, and Doing Business In modules. The recently updated Exporting modules, which were produced in cooperation with the U.S. Commercial Service, were developed from the 2015 edition of A Basic Guide to Exporting, with each module representing one of the book’s seventeen chapters. Users of all ages and international business experience level will find these modules insightful and can benefit from the multitude of resources and tools provided.

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The United States government has approved the construction of a $5 to $10 million dollar heavy equipment factory in Cuba’s Mariel port and special economic zone located 30 miles west of the Cuban capital of Havana. This announcement comes merely 15 months after the United States and Cuba announced plans to normalize relations. The Oggun Tractor Plant, as it is to be named, marks the first significant American business investment in the small island nation since the rise of Fidel Castro in 1959, when $1.8 billion dollars (estimated present day value of $7 billion) worth of American corporate and private property was nationalized.

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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.” 

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“We are the basket which holds all the proverbial eggs.” This quote by the Zambian Chamber of Mines President about their national mining industry can be extrapolated to more widely represent the economy of Africa. Many African nations are heavily reliant, if not entirely dependent, on the mining industry to drive economic growth. However, due to a multitude of causes, the once booming mining industry that once drove national annual growth rates into double digits is now faltering and bringing the rest of the economy down with it.

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Over the past five years, the U.S. real estate market has been flooded with capital from Chinese investors who are eager for the opportunity to both earn high yields and move their cash outside the reach of the Chinese government. This real estate binge began when the crash of the U.S real estate market drew in thousands of Chinese investors looking to swoop up houses and commercial properties for highly reduced prices. The Chinese government limits individual's annual overseas investments to roughly $50,000; however, for years these laws have been circumvented by channeling money through friends, relatives, and employees. After the Chinese market crash in August, the government has cracked down on these laws, making it increasingly difficult to transfer capital outside the country. John Chang, a real estate broker with Re/Max in New York City described the current situation as being “like barbarians at the gate,” Chinese families want to buy, but “can’t get the money out.” 

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Over the past month, there has been a surge in global terrorism. Major terrorist incidents include the downing of a Russian plane over the Sinai Peninsula, deadly assaults on Paris, and suicide bombings in Turkey, Lebanon, and Nigeria. There have also been several other attacks, mainly concentrated across the Middle East and Northern Africa. While these devastating attacks are first and foremost a humanitarian issue, they undoubtedly have business consequences, ranging from physical damage to property to potential long term alterations in consumer behavior. This being said, what impact does terrorism, and more specifically the recent surge in global terrorism, have on the global travel and tourism industry?

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Europe is in the midst of an immigration crisis of historic proportions. Since January of this year, the European Union (EU) has received an influx of an estimated 1 million asylum seekers, with the promise of many more to come. These refugees are fleeing conflict and persecution, much of which can be linked to the rise of insurgency, specifically the Islamic State, in the Middle East. Human rights violations by the oppressive regime in control of Eritrea are also a major cause for the influx of refugees. It is believed that approximately 60% of all immigrants are coming from Syria, Afghanistan, and Eritrea. Refugees select Europe as their destination due to the relatively close proximity and the economic prospects for a better life. While the European refugee crisis is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis, it will undoubtedly have a significant impact of the Eurozone economy, both now and for decades to come.

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It takes much more than a simple name change to integrate an existing product into foreign markets. Many established companies are attempting to expand their global presence by moving into new foreign markets, specifically emerging markets, but are finding it a much more arduous process than they initially anticipated.

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To say the global oil industry has had a turbulent year would be an understatement. The industry has been thrown into a violent tailspin, which has culminated in oil trading for under half the price it was fourteen months ago. While the initial cause of the crash was oversupply, several recent international developments, including the Chinese market downturn and the proposed Iran nuclear deal, have only accentuated the demise. More information about the underlying causes and the current state of oil prices can be found in previous globalEDGE blog posts containing the Oil tag.

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China is home to the world’s second biggest stock market. This market, which peaked with a value of above $10 trillion, has been on a tumultuous ride in 2015. The market was up over 150% until June, when it suddenly crashed. The largest market in China, the Shanghai market, lost 32% in a four week slide that bottomed out on July 8. The smaller Shenzhen market slid 40% over the same time period. Immediately following this prodigious selloff, the market proceeded to have its strongest two-day rise since the 2008 global crisis. This summer’s stock market madness in China has left onlookers with many questions; principally, what caused this historic volatility and what is next for the markets?

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The arctic ice shelves pose a difficult question to the world’s largest oil companies. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, they may contain the largest remaining untapped oil reserves on the planet, but accessing this oil requires large amounts of time and money. Factor in the recent oil crash and the increasingly uncertain outlook for the industry, and pursuing arctic oil becomes a gamble akin to a billion dollar toss up.

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Global discussion and concern about climate change has amplified in the past few years, as more research has been conducted and more world leaders have voiced their opinions on the issue. The most recent world leader to do so was Pope Francis, leader of almost 70 million Catholics worldwide, who declared global warming to be a threat to life on the planet and called for a reduction of the usage of fossil fuels. As this movement garners further support, more and more nations are turning to clean and renewable alternative energy sources to supplement, and eventually replace, their fossil fuel driven energy sources. Of these renewable alternatives, solar power is one of the most popular worldwide.

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Be’er Sheva, a city of 200,000 in the middle of Israel’s Nagev Desert is quickly becoming a global technology hub, drawing in several of the world’s largest technology companies. What is causing these global companies to set up shop in the scorching heat of the Arab desert seemingly in the middle of nowhere? The answer to this question comes from Maya Hofman Levy, who is EMC Corporation’s site manager in Be’er Sheva, who stated that “The main reason EMC wants to be in Be’er Sheva is for access to talent.” 

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The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, is the international governing body of soccer, the world’s most popular game. FIFA has been under massive scrutiny from the fans, media, and government officials in the past month over the re-election, and subsequent resignation, of their embattled president and corruption charges leveled against nine current and former top FIFA officials. These charges culminated in the arrest of seven FIFA officials in Zurich, Switzerland on May 27th. These officials are now facing extradition to the United States on broad corruption charges, which include racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.

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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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The World Health Organization declared the West African nation of Liberia Ebola free on Saturday, after 42 days of no new reported cases. Liberia was one of the three West African nations that took the largest hit from the pandemic, the other two being Guinea and Sierra Leone. Guinea and Sierra Leone are still reporting new cases of the virus, however the number is significantly less than it was at the peak of the pandemic between the months of January and March. While the end may be in sight for the Ebola Virus, the economic consequences following the crisis are still very real and very painful.

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A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the South Asian mountain nation of Nepal on Saturday, April 25th. The quake caused almost 25,000 casualties including over 7,500 deaths. The earthquake also triggered massive avalanches in the mountains including one on Mount Everest that killed 19 people. In addition to this tragic human trauma, Nepal will be adversely affected by the economic aftershocks of this disaster for years to come.

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In this day and age, the internet is an integral part of everyday life. Many people are dependent on the internet for both their social and work lives. Put simply, many people could not live without the internet. This being said, over 60% of the world’s population (roughly 4 billion people) do not access the internet in any way, shape, or form on a regular basis. The leading technology companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) recognize that bringing these 4 billion people “out of the dark” would not only provide immeasurable social benefits, but would also present billions of dollars in untapped revenue for these companies.

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In the wake of the drastic decline in oil prices since last July, and with the current crude oil prices about half of the 2014 peak, Royal Dutch Shell PLC announced Wednesday that it would buy fellow Oil and Gas Company, BG Group, in a deal amounting to approximately $70 billion. Assuming the deal is completed, this would be the largest energy merger since Exxon and Mobil in 1998, and would create the world’s largest independent producer of liquefied natural gas. The merger comes as an effort to create cost synergies, or eliminate overlapping costs, in order to offset the effect of low oil prices.

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Brazil and Mexico have renewed vehicle quotas for four years, postponing the creation of a free trade agreement to at least 2019. The two largest Latin American economies originally had free trade of vehicles for a brief period in 2011 and 2012, but transitioned to a quota system after Brazil complained of economic issues that were hurting the nation’s competitiveness abroad, especially in the auto industry. The new deal penned earlier this month permits $1.56 billion of duty-free vehicle imports for the first year of the agreement. This amount will increase by 3% every year until 2019 when the nations will return to free trade, barring any extension or renewal of the quota system.

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Netflix Inc., an American provider of on-demand Internet media streaming, recently opened their online video streaming service to Cuba. This move made Netflix one of the pioneer American companies to expand in to Cuba, following the loosening of regulations early in 2015.

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An increase in the national sales tax sent Japan into a recession in the middle half of 2014, but increased exports have Japan poised for growth in the New Year. Japanese exports grew 13% in December from a year prior, while imports only increased 2% over the same period. This growth in exports reduced Japan’s trade deficit, which was at its highest level since data became available in 1979.

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Oil prices dropped by 42% in 2014, and hit a five and a half year low on Monday. Many analysts are projecting that the price of oil is only going to continue to decrease in the near future. This drop in oil prices is having a drastic effect in a multitude of sectors of the economy, all across the world. What is causing oil prices, which have continually risen in the past decade, to suddenly crash? There is not a single source of this crash, but rather a plurality of causes.

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In a world where overpopulation and high unemployment are serious problems for many nations, Germany faces an entirely different set of challenges. Germany currently has record low unemployment rates that are leading to a deficit of workers, especially those with high levels of education. To further magnify this issue, the current workforce is aging rapidly, and with the lowest birthrates in Europe, the size of the German workforce will decrease substantially in the coming decades. The most recent projections show that Germany’s working-age population will decrease by 6.3 million people by 2030, and that the entire population could decrease as much as 19%, to about 66 million people.

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Turkmenistan is a small nation with only about 5 million citizens, yet it could be the solution to energy problems affecting hundreds of millions of people. Despite the fact that the Central Asian nation has the world’s fourth largest natural gas reserves, Turkmenistan ranks twelfth in the world in natural gas production. Turkmenistan plans to fill this gap between reserves and production with multiple plans to export its natural gas abroad.

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President Obama began his week-long trip abroad this Monday in Beijing, where he was attending the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. While at the conference, President Obama unveiled a new visa agreement with the Chinese government. The new agreement extends tourist and business visas from one year to ten years, the longest allowed under US law. Student visas are also extended from one year to five years. The visa reforms went into effect Wednesday, November 14th.

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Iran is the last, large, untapped emerging market in the world.”  These were the words of Ramin Rabii, a chief executive of the top foreign investment company in Iran, following The 1st Europe-Iran Forum.  At this forum hundreds of international investors met with Iranian business leaders, and also heard from speakers such as the United Kingdom’s former foreign secretary Jack Straw.

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Tensions across Europe are escalating as a potential energy crisis is looming in the near future. In June of this year, Russia cut off all gas supplies to Ukraine, citing Ukraine's failure to payback debt. Ukraine has since been receiving gas from Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. Hungary, however, suspended the flow of natural gas to Ukraine last Friday, intensifying the energy crisis in Ukraine.  Ukraine is dependent on natural gas to heat homes and to power industry during the rapidly approaching winter months.

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In July, the Chinese company HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd. (HKND Group), released a finalized route for the canal they have been contracted to build across the Central American country of Nicaragua. The Hong Kong based investment group plans to break ground on this project in December, however there is still a great deal of speculation on whether or not this canal, which has been dubbed the biggest engineering project in human history, will ever come to fruition. If this ambitious project is in fact completed, it will have a major impact on both the global freight industry, and the economy in Central America, specifically in Nicaragua.