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Studying abroad is becoming increasingly more popular with students all over the world and in every field of study.  There are numerous benefits that a student can get from studying abroad including gaining knowledge of another culture, learning a new language, gain international job prospects, and meet new people.  However, international students also offer many benefits to the economies of the countries that host them.  

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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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China has gained a valuable foothold in the nuclear energy industry as Britain’s new Prime Minister has given the green light for a power plant to be built in Hinkley, England. The project is worth a reported $24 billion and has many people worried about the economic ramifications of allowing China and France to fund this large scale project on English soil. “In response, the U.K. has set out new restrictions on the project's builders, saying the companies would not be able to sell their stakes in the plant without prior approval from the government. Going forward, the British government will take a stake in all nuclear power projects, giving it control over a change of ownership.” (CNN) The restrictions that the UK has put on this project eases the fears of many, but some still are worried over the consequences of this act.

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From November 30 to December 11, leaders and negotiators from 195 countries are meeting in Paris to reach a deal on global carbon emissions and rising global temperatures. The meeting is officially known as the United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference and the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties, or COP21 for short. The Conference of the Parties is an annual U.N.-supervised global meeting that has taken place since 1995 and is dedicated to reducing the effects of climate change. COP21 is one of the largest conferences organized yet, meeting with the goal of creating the first legally binding global climate agreement. Past climate change agreements, including the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Accord, either focused mainly on curbing carbon emissions or introduced measures that did not reach unanimous global approval. The nations meeting in COP21 aim to change this with a new agreement.

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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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Three-quarters of France’s electricity comes from nuclear power, which is a higher proportion than any other country in the world. In France alone, 220,000 people are hired to work in the energy industry. Because of this, French nuclear companies have been seen as leaders at the forefront of developing and operating uranium fueled reactors around the world. But recently, it was discovered that new power plants intended to showcase the energy industry’s latest technology are now extremely behind schedule and over budget. Problems at one site have raised doubts that it will even be completed.

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The French unemployment rate has hit a record high, currently standing at about 11.1% for 2013. In December alone, about 10,200 people listed themselves as jobless.  This 0.3% is only a fraction of the 3.3 million who registered as out of work for the entire year, a figure that has never been higher. Additionally, increases in unemployment have been observed across all sectors and also take part-time workers into account. The 5.7% rise in unemployment is unfortunate news for French President Francois Hollande who had previously promised that joblessness would fall by the end of 2013.

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Long before the financial crisis hit in 2009, private debt clouded the economics of developed countries and emerging markets.  Between 2004 and 2009, as seen on this interactive map, shows the private-sector non-financial debt rose by an average of 43% of GDP in the Western countries.  Since then, the public sector’s ledger has taken on the debt burden.  The frequency and amount of government bailouts and fiscal stimuli dished out by lethargic economies sent the ratio of government debt to GDP spiraling.  The Corporate sector have begun to deleverage while Households and Financials are taking on more.  This is especially evident in France, where sustainable growth is expanding in five strategic areas: education, research, industrials, infrastructure, and financial technology.

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The International Monetary Fund releases a yearly forecast for countries that will predict the growth of the country. For France and China, the IMF has recently lowered their growth forecast due to a number of different reasons. For France, Paris has lacked a competitive economy and been slow to reform in recent times. For China, credit has been rising too fast along with the debt, and also slow growth economically will coincide with a slower growth in China. These two countries will have to find new ways to generate expansion along with minimizing losses during this slow economic period globally.

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Parisian influence is growing in Asia as French citizens pour into Hong Kong looking for economic hotspots in luxury retail, commercial and residential real estate, and business services. Recently, World Economic Forum rated Hong Kong as the world’s most developed economy.  The country’s booming economy, coupled with Europe’s debt crisis, has significantly increased the rate at which French citizens are immigrating to Hong Kong.  Since 2006, the French community in Hong Kong has grown by more than 60%.  But Hong Kong is not the only country where Westerners are flocking; mainland China, Thailand, Singapore, and India have been expanding rapidly as their markets open up.

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In France, those that have grown accustomed to downloading free, illegal music and videos from the internet have found themselves facing stricter government warnings and fines. Since the inception of the 2009 HADOPI law, which promotes the distribution and protection of creative works on the internet, French officials have noticed a sharp decline in illegal file-sharing. The three-warning system, which by the end of 2011 had sent out 822,00 warning e-mails, 68,000 second warnings, and 165 cases where offenders have been fined around $2,000 (USD), has had an immense impact on the music and film industries in France. Following the implementation of the law, French music industry revenues have been stabilizing, digital sales markets are growing, and iTunes sales have risen more strongly than in any other European country, most notably by bringing an extra €13.8 million a year worth of iTunes music sales into the economy.

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Three months after Japan’s largest earthquake, a major nuclear reactor disaster seems to have been avoided. However, major doubts surrounding nuclear energy as a safe power source remain in countries around the world. If these doubts linger, the energy industry can be changed dramatically with this significant loss of faith in nuclear energy. Alternative energy sources must be able to replace nuclear energy and many countries will have to develop efficient and sustainable infrastructures to support this energy change.

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Wine production is a source of great pride for many French citizens.  Partners throughout the global supply chain are proud to take part in an industry with such cultural importance.  Change is not easily embraced in an industry with so much history and a rapidly aging workforce.  Regardless, to make products more affordable and accessible there has been a push to use plastic wine bottles.  There are clear advantages and disadvantages associated with this trend, but its popularity amongst consumers is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. 

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Traditionally free trade agreements and their kin are the principle agents of more competitive, efficient, and economically viable countries. However, people often look at the overall effect of FTA’s in their questioning for whether or not FTA’s should be implemented. The smaller country is usually considered the major benefactor after an FTA is implemented, but what happens when the opposite happens? There is an obvious, glaring example that is often overlooked, I myself just stumbled upon it a few days ago. Looking at Europe currently, you have the PIIGS, the countries that seem to be on the fast track to nowhere, and the rest of the Union. The idea behind the Union was that the economies could build on each other and raise the smaller less developed countries to the same standard as the U.K., France and Germany. Did this actually happen though?

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Recently, France has been experiencing protests of epic proportions that have disrupted public transit systems, educational systems, and shortages in necessary commodities such as petroleum. There must be a good reason for an entire country to deal with strikes that are so disruptive, and there is: French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for the government to raise the legal retirement age from 60 to 62. Who wants to work for two more years before their pension kicks in? That question explains the reason for the strikes, but I feel that it is worth exploring the reasons why the minimum retirement age should be raised.

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As a result of the economic crisis, countries around the world are attacking their own debt problems with austerity measures. A mixture of culture, value systems and tradition play a role in how these measures actually are received by the citizens. Based on the fact that both the U.K. and France have adopted changes in their pension systems, how are these changes being received in the context of each country’s cultural values?

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The Africa-France Summit held this week has brought up some wonderful opportunities for international business professionals. Many countries around the world have been looking to Africa for new business opportunities. The continent has vast natural resources and a lot of potential for growth in infrastructure that makes it appealing to foreign investors. Many African countries are now attempting to encourage France to invest in these growing areas.

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The European Commission recently funded a five year project that was completed during fall 2009 - the ENSEMBLES project. Its purpose was to develop a prediction system to provide relevant information on climate change and its interactions with society. According to a report submitted by the scientists who worked on the project, France, Italy, and Spain are some of the countries that will most likely experience great changes by the end of the century due to climate changes.

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Each country has different ways of doing business. Sometimes it may be confusing for foreigners visiting the country for the first time. What follows is tips on doing business successfully in some of the most advanced countries in Europe:

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Check out this ranking of the top MBA programs outside the US, from BusinessWeek. Just in case you're curious, here are the contenders:

  1. Queen's University, in Canada
  2. IE Business School, in Spain
  3. INSEAD, in France
  4. University of Western Ontario, in Canada
  5. London Business School, in the UK
  6. ESADE, in Spain
  7. IMD, in Switzerland
  8. University of Toronto, in Canada
  9. IESE, in Spain
  10. Oxford University, in the UK

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France is one of the leading countries with employees taking long vacations and working short work days. For the French, Sunday has always been a day to relax, visit family, or go to church. However, the government is trying to pass a bill making Sunday a working day for stores.

Some believe that if stores in the big cities and in tourist areas are open on Sundays it will be good for business and add a boost to the economy. This seems quite logical, since it will be more convinient for tourists and will also increase the income of those working. However, many disagree with the idea. They are used to regarding Sunday as a work-free day. Therefore, in order for the idea to reach its desired success, it is necessary to keep workers enthusiastic about work on Sundays.

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Think that the United States being in financial limbo has no repercussions on the rest of the world? You’d be thinking wrong. In Nigeria, financial authorities have attempted to construct strong fiscal measures in an attempt to extricate the country’s stock market in the wake of the collapse of major U.S. financial institutions. Nigeria’s two chief government-operated financial policymakers, The Central Bank of Nigeria and the Securities and Exchange Commission have announced new policy measures they plan to enact in order to prevent this hemorrhage of assets in the Nigerian capital market. The plan includes measures set forth by the Central Bank such as reducing the Monetary Policy Rate, reducing the Cash Reserve Ratio, and reducing the Liquidity Ratio. Following three years of spiraling growth and high returns, the Nigerian market is now seeing prices crashing beneath initial quotation.

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Ask an American about French business practices, and you’ll probably hear about short work weeks, massive amounts of vacation time, and the penchant to go on strike every month or so. On a more social level, you might hear about free college, free healthcare, and rock-solid job security, but the average American might carefully note that this comes at the cost of sky-high taxes, layers upon layers of bureaucracy, and continually high unemployment.