During the globalEDGE Blog’s first five years, it has served the international business community not only as a resource for global business news analyses, but also as a time capsule for events that significantly influenced international markets. Born in September 2008, the resounding news of the blog’s launching was understandingly dwarfed by other major events of the time, such as the rapid spread of cell phone use and business in Sub-Saharan Africa and, of course, the global financial crisis that’s effect on the global economy was comparable only to the Great Depression. In this blog, we will not only go back and revisit the news that captivated the world’s attention in the first months of the blog, but will also discuss the lasting effects of those events and how they continue to impact the world in 2013.
To begin with, the rapidly expanding cell phone market in the developing world caught the attention of the international business community in October of 2008. Portfolio Research predicted that by 2013, the world’s population of cell phone users would increase by 30%, seeing as the market’s success in China, India, and Brazil was expected to inspire similar success in other emerging markets. The mobile market in Sub-Saharan Africa exploded at a surprising rate, largely due to cell phone companies like South Africa’s MTN providing phones to people earning less than $2 a day. The cell phone revolutionized conducting business in the region, seeing as the scarcity of internet access and lack of capital and infrastructure led to the development of mobile commerce and information sharing. Through mobile phone markets, investors and innovators alike finally began to unveil the vast market potential of the one billion consumers that live within Africa.
Secondly, the global financial crisis that began with the United States' crashing of the housing market was undoubtedly the most influential and infamous event of 2008. Even in the earliest stages of the financial crisis, it was clear to the international community that the crisis in the United States would quickly spread throughout the international sphere, as seen through the French government's public address regarding how the situation would have long-term effects on the country's growth, employment, and purchasing power. Five years later, it is evident that the crisis had a definitive impact on the international political economy. Data regarding the general well-being of international regions from 2006-2011 showed that net well-being in the United States, Canada, and the European Union all declined during the period, with the lowest numbers in 2009, therefore showing that the regions had yet to recover. The Middle East and North Africa were hit hardest by the financial crisis in terms of diminishing quality of life, which contributed to fueling the social unrest that sparked the ongoing Arab Spring revolutions in 2011.
Surprising, the report also shows that in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia well-being has actually increased despite the financial crisis, which was due to the financial crisis allowing emerging economies the economic opportunity to replace many developed economies in leading global economic growth. Between 2007 and 2013, emerging economies were responsible for 71% of incremental global nominal GDP. The BRICS countries, as well as trade blocs like Mercosur and ASEAN, have benefited the most from the strengthening of regional trade agreements rather than reliance on the failing developed markets, which has greatly changed the international marketplace that we once knew back in September of 2008.