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We are approximately a decade since the United States last recession and the U.S. Federal Reserve is coming close to finalizing a plan on how to reduce its balance sheet. At its peak, the portfolio was valued at over $4.25 trillion. The Federal Reserve purchased these securities, of which are mostly mortgage-backed securities in three rounds of stimulus that began in 2008 and finished in October 2016. The selloff of securities began in 2017 and plans to sell the majority of their holdings before the conclusion of 2019.

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globalEDGE has added the 2018 Financial Secrecy Index to our growing list of indices in the global insights by country pages. Provided by the Tax Justice Network, the Financial Secrecy Index ranks jurisdictions according to their secrecy and level of offshore financing activities. The index was developed in collaboration with the world’s largest banks, law practices, and accounting firms that are intimately familiar with the secretive offshore financial structures of some of their clients.

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Venezuela is in the midst of a political and economic disaster and has faced hyperinflation, an increasingly worthless physical currency, and heightening food and medicine shortages. Recently, Venezuela has turned to blockchain, and the cryptocurrency boom as a potential method to fund its debt and develop a stable currency. The Petro and Petro Gold have the potential to replace the bolivar, which was the countries primary currency in the past.

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International investing is more appropriate than ever for Asian countries like South Korea, Japan, and India. These emerging markets are predicted to generate big gains for investors due to aspects such as their growing middle-classes, stimulative economic policies, and even the depreciation of the U.S. dollar. 

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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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Let’s start with a quick overview of what a cryptocurrency is.  It is a digital currency and is known for its unique feature, in that it is not issued by any central authority, therefore, cannot be controlled and manipulated by any government. Bitcoin is one of the oldest and most popular cryptocurrencies. It, as well as the other cryptocurrencies, are stored and transferred on Blockchain – a peer-to-peer network that validates and records all transaction and is considered to be the ledger for all cryptocurrency transactions. This network eliminates the need for a middle man (financial institutions), however, there are miners who validate the transactions through a process called “mining” and are rewarded free bitcoins for their work. It is important to know that Blockchain’s uses are not limited to just cryptocurrencies and many industries are discovering how they could take advantage of this ledger system. For the sake of simplicity, I will be focusing primarily on one cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, as there are more than 900.

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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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China has been one of the largest economies in the world for many years, however its place near the top has been impacted in recent times because of its currency. The yuan, the national currency for China, has been depreciating in value and will continue to do so into the first quarter of 2017. This decline has been the biggest for the Chinese yuan in the last two decades. For the past 14 consecutive months, money has been leaving China, causing a slump in the nation’s central banks. About 1.1 trillion dollars of foreign currency has vacated the country since China devalued the yuan in 2015.

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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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On May 26, the price of the bitcoin began to surge, hitting a value of $467.50. Throughout the weekend, the currency continued its dramatic trajectory, spiking at $570 before settling around $530. This amounts to a sudden increase of 21% in the midst of a consistent, if low, period for the currency. While these values are far below bitcoin's one-time peak of $1,151, they are the highest prices the digital currency has reached since 2014. That same year marked a heavy blow for the bitcoin, bottoming it out at low rates that remained in force over the past year. Now, investors are indicating promise in the currency once again: Over the weekend, daily global transactions equated to $134,056,000, with over 15 million bitcoins in supply.

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Going back to the early 2000's, African countries were too risky to invest in, as they were vulnerable to a variety of problems. African bonds were virtually nowhere to be found, with South Africa the only Sub-Saharan country selling dollar-denominated bonds at the time. Year after year, other Sub-Saharan African Countries have gradually begun issuing sovereign debt.  

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In the G-20 summit this past weekend, the world’s finance ministers agreed not to engage in currency wars to boost exports. Currencies in emerging markets have been battered since the financial crisis began in 2007. Traditionally, countries expect a payoff in a boost of exports when their currency is weak; however, it’s not been the case this time around. This is the case not only due to slowing growth in China and rapidly decreasing oil prices, which has hurt commodity exporters, but also the Federal Reserve’s increase in interest rates. The possibility of interest rate increases in the United States has put pressure on currency markets.

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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.

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Swiss financial affairs have long been a thing of mystery and wonder. Aside from the general disdain expressed by foreign governments toward Switzerland’s public and private banking institutions, the Swiss franc is not a coin that lends itself to be easily shortchanged. Swiss bank accounts have had fame and notoriety in the past for stark confidentiality agreements as well as attractive investment management options which allowed for a growing number of Swiss bank accounts to be opened by the likes of white collar criminals. And that’s exactly where the misconception is - Swiss bank accounts aren’t popular because of anonymity, they’re in demand because of the unparalleled financial security. One of the biggest reasons these bank accounts are able to thrive so well in such an isolated economy is because the Swiss franc has been a fierce champion for growth and stability. These financial tenets are more easily boasted than achieved, but against all odds the Swiss currency has provided a fiscal anchor in the sea of global economic uncertainty.

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For the first time in 15 years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has changed the structure of the special drawing rights (SDR) basket and has announced the Chinese yuan to be a new official foreign reserve asset. This change not only acknowledges China's monetary reforms, but also accelerates the yuan’s internationalization. This blog will explain the challenges and benefits that China is facing with respect to the inclusion of its currency in the SDR basket.

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Over the duration of its rather short history, Bitcoin has gained popularity and economic clout but also its fair share of skeptics. The peer-to-peer lending system utilizes data mining, based on the idea that there is a finite number of bitcoins, and flaunts its decentralized network. Basically, there is a certain point in time when all existing bitcoins will be extracted and there is no single entity, like a central bank, that has the ability to generate more. This important distinction has led to its designation as a commodity by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in the United States. Regardless of its status, the digital currency has been rallying for about two months now, thanks in part to acceptance by financial institutions like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. With a current buy price of about  $400, the money system has a record $1 billion invested in it.

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Although it’s been a long time coming and an even longer time expected, the Fed decided not to raise rates at the most recent FOMC meeting. This news comes as a bit of a disappointment to investors and economists, especially after the past week of downturn in American stock markets. However, it is the emerging markets that have experienced notable distress. Although some of the issues many of these nations face are chronic or fundamental inadequacies, the currencies have taken the hardest hit.

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An article written recently by Tomas Hult, Director of Michigan State University's International Business Center, focuses on the devaluation of the yuan and the impact it will have on the U.S. economy. He argues that the impact on U.S. businesses will not be as negative as many people think and cites research to support his position. His article appears in Fortune's online publication and can be accessed by clicking here

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The ECB is still struggling to keep Greece above water, while China is dealing with its market crash. The surprise yuan devaluation has agitated global markets further. When the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) decided to weaken its currency to get back on the right track, the USD, JPY, and EUR have been forced to adjust accordingly. Anytime a nation deliberately interferes with its currency, ripples are sent through the markets. China, with its 1.9% devaluation, has made waves. Last year, it was Europe in this position, and in 2013 it was Japan’s Abenomics with a weak yen at the helm of its policy that took center stage. With China’s recent move, countries all over are engaging in competitive devaluations to protect currencies. With an increasing number of countries being involuntary drawn in and a few apparent losers already, this is shaping up to be quite a turbulent currency war.

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There are presently many different happenings all across the globe that are affecting emerging market (EM) currencies. A lessening demand for commodities, a devaluation of China's currency, stalled global trade, and an expectation that the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates are all bearing down on EM currencies. Some of the countries on the more drastic end of this are Russia, Colombia, and Brazil, whose currencies have fallen more than 30% over the past year, according to Bloomberg Business. Currently, emerging market currencies are in a "free fall" and according to Stephen Jen, a former International Monetary Fund economist, we should expect "a violent sell-off in some emerging market currencies in the second half of this year".

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The fire may have died down in China, but the burns it left in its wake are still raw, as the Chinese government attempts to bring back some stability by weakening the yuan. Devaluing its currency is proving to be rather injurious for Australian, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwanese dollars, as they took a rough tumble earlier this week. Luckily for America though, this drop has proven successful for the USD, as investors are getting bullish on its outcome in coming weeks. But this move on behalf of China’s bank is not to be overlooked or underestimated, since it is being hailed as a one-time fix.

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From the free silver policy issue of the 1800s to the Bretton Woods agreement of 1944, America has always had differing views on how the dollar should be valued and leveraged, as well its role in the global currency exchange. Ever since the eve of World War II, the U.S. dollar has had notable domination in the international marketplace. In nearly all transactions made using more than one currency in the past three years, the dollar was required as a conversion factor to complete trades. The U.S. dollar, for quite some time now, has been the world’s reserve currency. In Currencies After the Crash, Sara Eisen explores the impact of the world’s strongest currencies, the possible ramifications of highly leveraged monies, and the perilous yet profitable realm that is the foreign exchange market.

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Since last year, the rupiah has lost 10% of its value against the dollar. This is a serious matter following the Indonesian government, despite the fact that the country is currently welcoming delegations to the World Economic Forum. President Joko Widodo has promised stronger economic growth for the country, and has implemented measures to combat the currency decline. The Indonesian government hopes that by lifting visa fees for tourists and changing tax regulations, the value of the rupiah may rise again.

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Imagine a scenario where a market is losing value (deflation), which in turn scares away investors and greatly reduces cash flow in the active market. This stems growth, as more people lose confidence in a downward spiraling market. This is a scenario that the European Central Bank (ECB) would like to avoid, as the Eurozone is currently experiencing -0.1% deflation. Perhaps the ECB’s most important response has been through quantitative easing, which has had a substantial impact on the Eurozone's economy.

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What exactly is the Eurozone? It is easy to confuse the Eurozone and the European Union, but hopefully this blog post will sort out some of the discrepancies. Simply stated, the Eurozone, also called the euro area, is made up of 19 European countries that all use the euro as their currency. The European Central Bank is in charge of monetary issues for all 28 members of the European Union; however, it also plays a major role in leading the cooperation between the central banks of the Eurozone member countries. The euro has a strong international presence and plays a major role in the global financial and monetary markets.

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Late last year, the RUB-USD exchange rate dipped significantly, which carried on into 2015 with the ruble’s unfaltering depreciation against the dollar. This now full-fledged currency crisis has Russia’s Central Bank bailing out its private banking sector and reinstating a unique quantitative easing strategy that aims to spur foreign investment and have a positive impact on GDP. Despite the government scrambling to stabilize its currency, economic recession in 2015 seems inevitable.

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As the Eurozone progressively works on pulling out of financial distress, the economy is getting a much needed boost from its relatively weak euro. The euro has fallen 19 percent against the U.S. dollar ($1.11/euro) and 12.5 percent against the U.K. Sterling (0.73/euro).The weak euro is a distinctive element for providing a big boost for exporters. Moody’s, z credit rating agency, explains the drop in the euro as “positive for companies that have the majority of their cost bases in the euro area with significant sales to regions outside it."

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Exchange rates for currencies across the world are akin to a seesaw - they need a balance. As a result, the simplest differences in the exchange rates can have drastic ripple effects on economies due to the economic purchasing power principle. If your domestic currency is trading strongly (weakly) against a foreign currency, you have increased (decreased) your purchasing power and can purchase more (less) just from currency swapping. The effects of currency exchange on purchasing power can be in the form of government policy, such as Japan, or based on the nature of current positive market conditions within the economy like the United States. As you will see, exchange rates can have a drastic impact on tourism globally.

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Since the Eurozone has been at a very low inflation level for quite some time and people have become more conservative in their spending, the issue of pushing the economy up has been raised by the European Central Bank. The ECB President, Mr. Draghi said, “for growth to pick up, you need investment. For investment, you need confidence. And for confidence, you need structural reforms.” Then, a 60-billion-euro-a-month bond purchase program became such a structural reform last week. This blog will examine both the regional and international impacts of this quantitative easing policy.

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Just last week, Russia's currency, the ruble, fell sharply in value by almost 20%. This drastic event sent Russia's central banks into chaos as they consistently increased interest rates to try to rebalance the ruble. On Thursday, Putin declared that the ruble has reached its highest value in three weeks and is stable again. Unfortunately, economists warn that the fall and subsequent recovery of the ruble is not going to pass without adverse effects, both for Russia and for the global economy. Russia, which has already had a rough year economically, now is forced to withstand the threat of an impending recession. Other regions of the world will also have to be wary of the impact of the ruble dilemma.

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Several new economic developments have occurred in the United States during this last quarter. The recent drop in gas prices, credited to the drop in global oil prices led by OPEC, is one of these noteworthy developments. This has led to increased spending in the U.S, especially in the retail and automotive industries. There have also been significant increases in employment, as well as a strengthening in the value of the dollar. While these all seem like boons to the United States, some of these factors have the potential to not only hurt the U.S. economy, but economies around the world as well. As a result, economists are warning the U.S. to take caution, especially with its fragile economy now leaving the period of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve.

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Global financial markets have suffered from selfish decisions made by central banks in various countries. There have been talks of currency wars coming from emerging markets trying to manipulate their currencies in order to get the best pricing for growth. Now, there has been currency competition within developed countries. The Fed recently decided to halt its quantitative easing operation which purchases bonds to lower long-term interest rates. When the government owns most of these bonds, the supply to the public is decreased which lowers yields and raises the prices of these bonds.

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Export growth in the global economy is stagnant. China’s exports increased by 8.6% last year, yet for a decade it had produced export growth rates around 20%. Similarly, Germany’s export growth has slowed significantly, increasing by only 0.9% in 2013. Sluggish trade is a result of a slow global economic recovery that has consistently failed to meet target projections. Financial officials in some countries are contemplating currency devaluation as a measure to make exports more appealing abroad.

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As a summer filled with significant developments in the international system that have been highly influential over global business comes to an end, the world now turns its eyes to the British Isles as the vote on Scottish independence draws nearer. Although inherently a political subject, the vote that will take place on September 18th will also have important ripple effects for international business in Scotland and the United Kingdom should the movement pass. One of the primary economic concerns facing an independent Scotland includes the unresolved question regarding what currency the new state would adopt, which could have significant impacts on the business environment in Scotland.

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Since abandoning the Zimbabwean dollar in 2009, Zimbabwe’s central bank has allowed the use of the U.S. dollar, the South African rand, the British pound, and the Botswanan pula.  Recently, the central bank announced that four additional currencies will become legal tender in Zimbabwe: Australian dollars, Chinese yuan, Indian rupees, and Japanese yen.  The hope is that the move to more currencies will bring in more cash and quell the ongoing liquidity crisis, which has forced some banks to stop lending altogether.

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Russia has spent more than $45 billion hosting the most expensive Winter Olympics in history with the hope of boosting its economy. People are beginning to doubt if this larger expenditure is really worth it. Although people have already seen the Russian ruble appreciate in value, they are still unsure if the Olympics will take Russia out of the time when the economic growth slowed down to only 1.3 percent last year. This article will analyze the economic data of several countries after hosting major international sporting events so you are able to predict how Russia’s economy will perform after the Winter Olympics.

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In December of 2013 the Federal Reserve (FED) announced that it would begin to taper its bond-buying program by $10 million per month. As a result of quantitative easing (QE), the FED had been purchasing $85 million in assets in order to stimulate the economy. As the Federal Reserve continues to reduce its monthly purchases, there will be certain effects on globalization. Since tapering was announced, emerging market economies have been struggling. As the FED continues to taper, emerging markets could continue to see and outflow of funds and fluctuations in their currencies.

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With the current state of the global economy, the Eurozone crisis, and the large numbers of countries that have left similar unions in the past, a new currency union would not seem like an appealing idea to most regions of the world. However, six West African countries, including Ghana, Guinea, and Nigeria, have all decided to adopt the eco as a common currency by 2015. Members of Africa's current currency union, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), have also decided to adopt the eco by 2020. Similarly, five countries of the East African Community (EAC)—Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi—have all signed an agreement on forming their own monetary union in a decade. There are several potential advantages to these proposed unions, however these could also lead to several big problems for Africa.

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In recent years, the financial markets have seen the introduction of a digital currency called bitcoin. Bitcoin is a digital currency that is called cryptocurrency, making it very difficult to replicate. Currently there are about 21 million bitcoins in circulation, each one being valued at about $500 today. In recent months, a bitcoin was valued at $1,200, but new regulations in China made it difficult to exchange the yuan for bitcoins. Some global trends in digital currencies include regulations, buying goods with digital currencies, and using it as an alternative to national currencies. One question many economist ponder is if digital currencies could one day replace national currencies.

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Recent financial figures have shown that several countries around the globe have experienced some of their lowest inflation rates in years. Normally this would be the goal of the nations' central banks, but in the economic states of these regions, this low inflation could be the source of several problems. Now the issue facing many of the world's richest nations is to avoid extremely low inflation and to try and raise prices. The proposed processes to achieve these goals have the potential to lead to some intense competition.

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Starting in 2008, the financial crisis affected most of the countries in the world. Recently, a light of global economic recovery was shed on many of these countries. However, a new challenge aroused in the Asian currency price market. In India, people hope that the government can change a record-low currency trading situation, accelerating inflation. Furthermore, they hope India’s economy can find its way back to the normal path.

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As the world migrates ever more so to the internet it seems like a logical step that a currency would develop for those online. Known as alternative, or more specifically, digital currencies, these relatively new creations have become more popular as internet connectivity has expanded and is also seen as a safe haven for some when more traditional currency markets take a hit.

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For the most part, my pennies spend most of their time collecting dust in either the bottom of my wallet or in the cup holders in my car. Apparently Canada, among other countries like Australia, Brazil and Sweden, has had enough with the cumbersome coins as well. As of February of 2013, Canada officially ceased distributing pennies, considering the cost of manufacturing them is even more than the worth of the penny. Should the United States and the U.K. follow in Canada’s footsteps and eliminate the penny?

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With underdevelopment and currency volatility in the emerging markets, the biggest players have set out to fix those problems. The BRICS leaders met in late March in South Africa to plan out objectives for a new bank that would help fund infrastructure expansion, which is set to reach $4.5 trillion in the next five years. Talks also included discussing pooling foreign currency reserves to resolve currency volatility.

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What leads to the prosperity of nations? It is an interesting question that many have tried to answer throughout time. It puzzles many that a small island off the northern edge continental Europe can come to dominate the globe for a period of time. There surely is not one answer to this question and, in fact, there are many more that can be written. Niall Ferguson takes on this question through the effect that financial institutions have on the prosperity of nations in his financial history of the world in The Ascent of Money.

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United Kingdom, the financial center in Europe, has always been an attractive investment place. Because large amount of foreign buyers rushed into London’s real-estate industry, it has produced highest profits in the United Kingdom since 2011. It seems like British home sellers are never satisfied by the status quo as they raised asking prices to their highest levels in five years this month.  However, the increasing price on the real-estate property did not stop foreigners from buying British homes. Instead, they invested more since they foresaw the huge potential of growing profits in the British real-estate industry.

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How do you know if a currency is overvalued or undervalued?  Well, there are currently many measures that contribute to determining the fair value of a currency.   One common measure is evaluating purchasing-power parity (PPP) and another is determining whether or not a country’s trade deficit or surplus is representative of the country’s fundamental economic attributes.  Although these factors can together accurately determine a currency’s fair value, a universal method is still lacking.

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In 2010, countries around the world engaged in a race to the bottom to devalue their currencies in hopes to boost exports and thus foster economic growth. Now in 2012, fears of another currency war have arisen again after the Federal Reserve announced the third round of quantitative easing which has caused many to believe that the U.S. dollar will weaken. It’s still unknown if central banks in other countries will respond by keeping the value of their currency low relative to the dollar. The main goal of weakening a currency’s value is to increase exports by making goods cheaper in relation to other countries. So what exactly does this mean for international business?

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Way back in 2001, Jim O’Neil coined the term “the BRIC countries.” These countries were to be the building blocks of the “post-American world.” Businessmen and investors flocked to these locations to see what the future held.

Fast forward to 11 years later and the story is a very different one. Uncertainty now resonates throughout the BRIC (BRICS if you want to include South Africa) countries due to an increasingly slow growth rate, coupled with widespread corruption, political failure and currency woes. This paints a familiar picture to some who witnessed the former “American Killers” such as Europe (1960), Japan (1970) and the Asian Tigers (1990) unable to sustain steady growth during those times.

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Alternative currencies have been around throughout history, mostly in times of economic crisis or during times of war. The situation throughout the Euro Zone is no different at the current moment. Countries including Spain, Greece and Portugal all have alternative currencies in some form, floating around in their economy. More people are turning to these alternative currencies because they are used locally and allow people to trade services for goods or services for services. The currency is calculated in terms of hours, allowing someone who, say, taught piano lessons, to buy a haircut with the hours she accrued teaching the piano lessons.

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In China, the domestic economy is struggling just like the rest of the world with slow sales and declining construction. The cost of labor has also increased drastically, with wage rates increasing upwards of 15% in some cases, year over year. Compared to May of last year though, exports have increased 15.3 percent, twice as fast as economists had predicted. How are Chinese companies finding success when Europe is in a debt crisis and the United States is still recovering from rampant unemployment though? Easy – exporting and automation.

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The storm caused by the European Debt Crisis has loomed like a dark cloud over much of the world.  But certain sectors of the economy, the transport manufacturing industry in particular, have weathered the turbulent markets.  It is the rise in purchasing manager indexes for the United Kingdom, Switzerland, China, India, and Australia, coupled with the decrease in Germany's unemployment that make economists suggest a boom in the export of cars and machinery for the coming year.

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In the last decade, Argentina has undergone a rapid ascension from widespread poverty and a huge budget deficit towards economic prosperity and stability.  The government of Argentina, only ten years ago, defaulted on a $100 billion budget, sending over half its population into poverty.  Following this economic catastrophe was a period of contraction.  This, however, would last only three months and would then give way to economic growth.

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The Euro has popped up many times in the news recently. Because of the debt crisis in Europe, many countries were left unable to fulfill the convergence criteria to have the Euro as a currency, leading to many problems throughout Europe. It wasn’t just the current crisis that brought about these issues; they have been rooted in the Euro ever since it was created. So what exactly are a few of these issues and how can they be solved?

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Feeding on the strength of European demand and Asian emerging markets, China’s trade surplus rose to its highest level in more than two years during the month of July. The country’s surplus rose to $31.5 billion, the biggest gap since January of 2009. Chinese exports and imports both grew over 20 percent from a year ago and there are a couple key reasons that account for these large increases.

Growth in shipments to Europe has doubled over the last two months granting China higher export numbers. Exports to Japan also rose as Japan surges back after the tragic earthquake that occurred earlier in the year. China’s relationship with developing countries in Asia, such as Vietnam and Indonesia, continues to strengthen providing China with lucrative export markets. Sales of Chinese goods in these markets have increased this past year allowing the trade surplus gap to grow even larger.

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After the official unpegging of the Renminbi (Also referred to as the yuan) to the dollar mid-way through last year, China has surprisingly started to increase the flexibility of the Renminbi and is actively encouraging the globalization of the currency.  Much of this change has come for two reasons. The first is as China has become the world’s second largest domestic economy, the need for a globalized currency becomes exponentially more important. Also, international pressures on the Renminbi and China, especially from the U.S., have started to force change.

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Just recently, on November 8, 2010, gold reached its non-inflation adjusted high of $1,400 per ounce. As shown in this chart by Kitco, gold has been increasing at a very rapid pace in the past year. This has prompted many investors to say that gold could potentially be the next “bubble,” or a security that has a huge increase in price only to suddenly “pop” and decrease rapidly in price. However, there is evidence to contradict these fears, especially in the U.S. bond markets.

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The issue of euro-area governments exceeding standards for allowable debt has led to calls for tighter regulations and sanctions against nations that do not exhibit fiscal responsibility. While it is difficult for a large and diverse organization such as the European Central Bank to reach a consensus on any major policy, recent scares have opened the discussion of proposed regulatory changes.

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Historically, China has gone to great lengths to shield their currency, the yuan, from the global markets. To coincide with this, the Chinese governments have off and on pegged the yuan with the U.S. dollar. Recently China has made some mini-steps to hopefully open up their currency to outside markets. Last month they said that a handful of foreign banks could invest some of the yuan they hold offshore in local Chinese bonds. Another step was that China ended the peg to the dollar in June. Even though this de facto peg was supposedly removed in June, the yuan has only appreciated less than 2% against the dollar. If you look at historical data you can tell that volatility has increased between the two, but barely enough to even notice. Is China holding back a potentially huge export, their currency, for a particular reason? Many believe that the yuan is artificially being kept undervalued. What kind of pressures is this putting on other economies to devalue their currency, as discussed in a previous post in the series?

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Very recently, all 27 member nations of the European Union (EU) approved the entry of Estonia into the eurozone, meaning that Estonia would adopt the euro as its primary form of currency. At first glance, it seems that tying itself to a widely-used, strongly-supported currency would be a no-brainer for Estonia. However, with Europe’s recent economic woes, the situation becomes a bit more complicated.

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Yesterday the Euro hit a four-year low against the dollar. The euro fell to $1.2237 in early trading on Monday and actually fell slightly below $1.22 today. Investors fear that the austerity measures being put in place in many of the eurozone countries will hinder growth. Low growth would also mean low interest rates, so holding the currency would bring about poor returns. A lot of these measures stem from Europe's debt problems, and specifically Greece's recent troubles. This is very ironic because of the fact that their troubles may actually stem from the euro.

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Since its establishment in 1981, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has made its primary priority to be the creation of a monetary union, and subsequently, a single currency across the region. The Gulf Cooperation Council is a trade bloc of six Arab nations residing in the Persian Gulf: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The GCC nations, excluding Oman and the UAE, have aimed for January 1, 2010 as a deadline for establishing a common currency. If the GCC is successful in establishing a single currency among their member nations, what implications could this have for them and the international business world?

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The damage the stronger yen is causing to Japan's export reliant economy has been large. The new government in Japan took an anti-interventionist policy, which has caused speculators to strengthen the yen even more. It made sense when the Japanese economy was healthy, but now with deflation and a decline in exports, an intervention is just what they need. While the cheaper imports are good for the consumer, Japanese Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii sees this steep increase as signs of trouble. His concern may weaken the yen, making it easier for companies to export. While trade protectionism between the U.S. and China is a concern, the yen will keep increasing unless an invervention occurs. This short video explains the situation a little better.