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Recently, Hurricanes Irma and Harvey slammed into the coasts of the Caribbean and southern parts of the United States. These destructive tropical storms caused billions of dollars worth of damage combined and displaced millions of families. JP Morgan recently estimated that the insurance industry could lose $10 to 20 billion from Hurricane Harvey alone.    

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Australia's central bank recently cut interest rates from 1.75% to 1.5%, a direct consequence of the country's faltering job market and record-low inflation. The Reserve Bank of Australia hopes to boost the labor market as well as induce economic growth via this interest rate cut. After a decade-long mining boom, the Australian economy gradually shifted towards less commodity-dependant growth, helping the nation avoid a recession. Unfortunately, there are many indicators that Australia's gross domestic product (GDP) is losing momentum. Economic growth of 1.1% in the first quarter of 2016 has been largely attributed to the dominance of net exports. Analysts suspect such exports to contribute minutely to overall economic growth. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the country’s trade deficit rose to $3.2 billion ($2.4 billion) in June, while exports declined 1%, and imports increased 2%.

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The Aussie real-estate market is an increasingly mercurial frontier for investors and home-owners alike. Housing markets are no stranger to high rates of default and bad debt, but Australia’s uniquely volatile real estate business has been steadily oscillating toward bubble status since 2001. The whole world was crippled when America’s housing bubble, launched to dangerous heights by massive collateralized debt obligations and junk bonds, eventually exploded in a manner that shook the global economy. Australian default rates are nothing short of shocking and have narrowly avoided causing American 2008-esque crashes in the past several years. The uncertainty from this part of Australia’s economy adds fuel to its fire, but other times it serves to strengthen its own currency and outperform other sectors of the global economy. But everything has a cost, and though Australia might not be facing the immediate risk of a bubble, a slow and painful demise is usually in store for those who mistake healthy credit margins for insurmountable housing debt.

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Information Communications Technology (ICT) spending in Australia is forecasted to grow to $49,452.6 million by 2016, according to new research from International Data Corporation. While the market is growing exponentially, Australia is currently facing a shortage of skilled workers in its ICT sector. As I dug deeper into the labor force issue, I found that the future outlook for the Australian ICT industry does not seem as positive as the growth forecast indicates.

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With the March 31st application deadline quickly approaching for countries interested in joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Australia is rethinking its prior decision not to apply. The investment bank, led by China, recently added the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany as members, even though the United States has issued warnings about the bank. The decision by these four major European countries to join the bank against United States wishes has led Australia to reconsider its position on AIIB, and look to possibly invest up to $3 billion in the AIIB.

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After eight years of negotiation, China and Australia finally drew a free trade deal on last Monday. This agreement signals a transformational change in the economic relations between China and Australia because trade tariffs in dairy, beef, and horticulture products will be completely eliminated within the next couple years. Without a doubt, it will greatly facilitate the trade between these two countries. On the other hand, Canada, one of Australia's main competitors, is now worried about its exports to China.

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Harnessing the energy in shale has created a boom in the markets with enough momentum to alter the global energy industry altogether.  The controversial drilling technique involves fracturing shale formations using water, sand, and other (undisclosed) chemicals to access natural gas.  Entrepreneurial potential coupled with technological innovations from both the public- and private-sectors attract investment to either resource rich regions or competitive hedging projects for returns.

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Since the governmental reforms and the economic reforms that Australia underwent in order to make their country more relevant in global trade, China and Australia have maintained strong trade relations. Since 2008, Australia has more than doubled its trade with China. This is due to less strict trade regulations, lower taxes on exports, and a less conservative economy. Once these reforms were made, Australia transformed from a independent, isolated and small economy to a more internationally competitive economy with a more export oriented background.

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For a country that has a deep and prosperous mining heritage, Australia was shocked by the latest report from its Resources Minister Martin Ferguson: the resource boom, one of the largest engines in Australia's economy, was over. The statement came following BHP Billiton's announcement that there has been a 35% dip in profits and postponed plans to expand the nation's Olympic Dam mine. There have also been considerable concerns in the country that the weak global economy might also decrease the demand for coal, metal ores, and other commodities. For foreign investors and Australian economists alike, a slowdown in the prosperous mining sector will surely leave a noticeable dent in Australia's economic growth.

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What happens when you mix a close proximity to fast growing nations and an abundant supply of natural resources? An impressive economic boom, but a fear of being highly dependent on a few key nations. Australia is currently enjoying not only a very lucrative demand for its natural resources from China and India, but is also becoming a tourism hotspot for the people of China.

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The auto manufacturing industry in Australia has seen brighter days. The once supreme car industry used to flourish with seven major auto manufacturers. There are now only three (Ford, Toyota, and General Motors Holden), and their future in the nation is uncertain. The industry is propped up by government support and in need of a revival. Is the industry holding onto false hopes of prosperity? Or is it going to show its typical resilience and bounce back from another punishing year?

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Widespread use of the Internet has led to a decline in the prevalence of traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, and this disparity will continue to shift as more people worldwide are provided with Internet access. Buying online is simply more convenient, and most of the time more affordable than traveling to a physical location and purchasing a good or service. Even more convenient, however, is the ability to conduct business and make purchases while on-the-go. With an increasing number of smartphones sprouting up all over the world, making purchases has never been easier. Mobile commerce is a trend we can expect to see entire business strategies built around. 

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Generally, when something is put to a vote, the most popular vote wins. This is not the case for the Kraft Foods Australia product, Cheesybite. If you don’t know what Cheesybite is, it is a jar of caramel-brown, salty, gooey yeast paste (also known as Vegemite, an immensely popular Austrailian spread), that is mixed with cream cheese. Sounds appetizing, huh? Well to many Australians, it is. In a recent New York Times article, Bill Granger, a well known Sydney chef, said that Vegemite is “One of the only foods that is unique to Australia, and people see it as being quintessentially Australian.”

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Now-a-days, Starbucks isn’t the only place you can go to grab a cup of joe. McDonald’s McCafés can now be found all over the globe offering a multitude of delicious, caffeinated beverages. This coffee chain was created in Melbourne, Australia in 1993. Ten years later, in 2003, it grew to be the largest coffee shop brand not only in Australia, but in New Zealand too!

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The rising stock of Twitter and Facebook as valuable business assets is a surprise to nobody, but just how big of a role they play may be overlooked. Australia, which is currently going through a tourism slump due to the global economic downturn and the swine flu epidemic, is getting a bit of help from social networking giants Twitter and Facebook.

The managing director of Tourism Australia, Geoff Buckley, asserts that Twitter and Facebook are helping to pull the Australian tourism industry through the recession. “Tourism Australia’s activities on Twitter and Facebook are connecting people around the world who have visited Australia and getting them to share their experiences with a community of travelers who are equally passionate about our country.”