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Expert analysts predict tough times ahead for the world’s global economy. Although only predictions, there are many factors throughout the world that support these anticipations of the future; undoubtedly, the most significant is the number of nations at risk of entering a recession. If the predictions were to end up being correct, factors like this would be the prime cause of what experts are calling a “global recession.” 

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On Friday, September 20th, thousands of people poured through the streets of capitals and major cities all over the world to march for climate change. Over 150 counties held climate strikes organized by youth advocates and had participants of all ages. The climate strikes attracted the media and have caused numerous political and business leaders to promise change.

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Since the financial crisis in 2008, Germany has been the leading economy in the European Union. Due to turmoil in the global economy and some negative internal forces, the historically strong and stable German economy is expected to experience low growth in 2019.

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As stated by Capital Economics’ Chief Asia Economist Mark Williams, “China’s time as an emerging markets outperformer is ending”. The reasons for this include high levels of debt, a declining working-age population, and lower levels of productivity. This has the potential to send shockwaves through countries supply chains and force companies to look elsewhere when seeking imports. The Chinese government is planning to cut taxes and boost military spending as a cash injection into the economy, but analysts remain skeptical. Last year, China reported growth of 6.6%, anything below this mark would be a new three-decade low.

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Global growth shows the rate at which the global economy is either growing or falling. Global growth is important when understanding where the economy of the future is headed. The World Bank just decreased their 2019 expected growth forecast for the second time in the last 6 months. At the beginning of 2018, it was expected that the 2019 global growth was to be 3.1%, then in June, it was reduced to 3.0%. Most recently the projection has been reduced to 2.9%. While 0.2% can seem small, when put in terms of the entire global economy, that small reduction in future growth can have a significant impact on the global economy. The lead forecaster of the World Bank, Ayhan Kose, said the following about global growth, “When you think about the engines of the global economy, they’re all going to lose momentum.” This change is going to affect every major market across the country.

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Stan Lee, an exceptional individual who helped to create remarkable characters like Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, and the X-Men, passed away last week at the age of 95. He was a comic book writer and more importantly, revolutionized the comic book industry. In his stories, the superheroes are more relatable. They go through hardships that normal people experiences, that the readers experiences. For example, he created a new superteam, The Fantastic Four, that broke the tradition of flawless, impeccable superheroes. He targeted his audiences well, and as a result, helped Marvel in becoming an important pillar in Hollywood.

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International production, strategic global investments, and the infrastructure design of global supply chains are all a function of driving satisfaction among a company’s customers (and perhaps some can argue satisfaction among a country’s citizens). On October 26, 2018, I am giving a talk (ppt slides) at the World Investment Forum in a session titled “Explaining today’s global investment and international production trends.”

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Natural disasters have always been detrimental to society. They disturb peoples' lives, destroys infrastructure, and the aftermath can last up to several months. All of these factors affect the global economy in its own way. From 2000-2017 alone, there was an estimate of about $3 trillion economic loss from natural disasters worldwide. Since this number only represents the measurable losses, the actual amount goes way beyond this number.

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Popularized by recent ride- and accommodation-sharing platforms, the sharing economy has experienced significant growth and demonstrated its potential for international scalability. The implications of this new economy are predicted to disrupt a variety of business models and industries, ultimately challenging the way we define consumption. Topics to consider include factors driving growth, potential industry risks, and future trends set to affect the way consumers capture value.

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Entrepreneurship is permeating business conversations as more people discover the lasting benefits that come with investing in start-ups. Entrepreneurs are responsible for driving the majority of social and economic innovation across the globe and continue to foster opportunities for growth in mature, emerging and frontier markets alike .

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Chewing-gum—from the baseball diamond to office workplaces, over 100,000 tons of gum is chewed per year around the world.  Dating back to ancient times, different versions of gum have been used as a means of trade in Africa, stress relievers in Greece, and a construction material in Central America.  To this day, chewing-gum continuous to hold its position as a popular commodity on our planet.

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Each day, millions of people fill up reusable water bottles during school, sports, and work, continuing to grow the trend of ditching clear plastic bottles for their refillable—and more environment-friendly—counterparts.  Fueled by an increase in online shopping, reduction in overall price, and easy accessibility, the consumption of reusable water bottles across the globe is estimated to reach 3,902,642 thousand units in 2017 alone.  The implementation of these types of bottles into sports and travel shows the most opportunity for the market to grow, finding more efficient and practical ways for users to store and drink water without negative health and environmental impacts.

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Recently, technology has been hitting many new sectors of everyday life from reading, media and now clothing. The bra industry plays a major factor in the economic impact of clothing and now is attempting to flourish even more with the new technology being implemented into innovative products.

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With Hurricane Harvey just recently striking southeastern Texas and part of Louisiana the damage major storms can create is too fresh in our minds.  Images of the submerged houses and destroyed stores fill most news programs in the United States.  Storms like Harvey often cost many people their livelihoods and sometimes even their lives.  The destructive power of a hurricane is even greater than most people realize.  NASA estimates that during a hurricane’s entire life cycle they can give off as much energy as 10,000 nuclear bombs.  While major storms like these never go through their entire life cycles damaging land they still hit land and destroy with a ridiculous amount of strength.

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How drastically has Brexit affected the United Kingdom’s economy, and where does the country stand as it attempts to separate from the European Union? Reports released by the INSEE on July 27th indicate that the United Kingdom only saw a .3 percent increase in GDP during last quarter, marking yet another term in which the country has lagged in economic growth while rival countries such as the United States, France, Spain, Austria, and Sweden have performed far better.

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globalEDGE has added a Best Countries Index to our Country Indices pages. The index, compiled using data from the U.S. News and World Report, assigns a ranking and score to 80 separate countries, based on how global perceptions on a variety of attributes could potentially increase trade, travel, and investment in each country. The information also takes into account how these perceptions could potentially affect the national economy of each country. The factors considered are qualitative instead of quantitative, giving varying amounts of weight to these subrankings: adventure, citizenship, cultural influence, entrepreneurship, heritage, movers, open for business, power, and quality of life. Check out our new indices today.

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The scope of global business and international trade has seen optimistic improvements throughout recent years. Many analysts and companies are becoming increasingly confident regarding global trade and overseas opportunities. This confidence is due to global trade growth exceeding initial forecasts as well as the stabilization of China's economy and demand. These particular factors could be indicative of a year without a major economy falling into recession, a benchmark that has never previously been reached.

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The Xiongan area outside of Beijing has been deemed the newest special economic zone (SEZ) by the Chinese government. Compared to other countries, China has been the most successful in using SEZs to spur investment and growth—specifically by attracting foreign capital. For example, Shanghai's Pudong New Area was established in the early 1900's and is now the nations hub for financial business. However, there are also significant concerns when establishing a special economic zone that have to be taken into account.

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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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Oil prices worldwide are in decline. Much of the decline in oil prices has been contributed to rising oil production in the United States. To combat this it is expected that OPEC will decide to continue its cap on oil production at their meeting in May. As recently as one week ago it was reported that Saudi Arabia was gathering support from other OPEC countries in extending their cap on production.

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In part three of our transport manufacturing blog series, we look at high speed trains.

In 2013, the Japanese government set the goal of tripling its infrastructure exports, such as nuclear plants and bullet trains, to a nearly $262 billion valuation in hopes of continuing to bolster its economic growth. Pros for the Shinkansen bullet train include a sound safety record, low emissions, and punctuality, but despite its technological advancements, foreign buyers remain unconvinced of the feasibility of the bullet trains.

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Investors are investing more in equities in European markets, which is leading to a rally in the continent, despite fears driven by political uncertainty, such as Brexit and the upcoming elections in France. This is a reversal of 2016, where investors pulled out nearly $100 billion from the equities asset class, and this is seen as being driven by the hopes of a harmonized global expansion. Stock funds in American markets are facing outflows due to investor’s worries of high valuations, and political uncertainty around the current presidential administration's efforts to reach agreements on tax reform and the fiscal spending plan. It is thought that investor confidence in the global economic outlook and its resilience against shocks can be attributed to strong economic signs, such as purchasing manager indices reaching a high in the Eurozone, and easier financial conditions globally.

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Global interest rates are one of the several factors that can drive merger and acquisition activity in 2017.  The London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) is connected to the United States Federal Reserve Bank’s short-term rate, which plays a role in determining the debt financing rate. If the LIBOR rises, it would make it costly for companies to borrow money, leading to less being paid for acquisitions, however, a gradual rise would soften the material impact of rising rates.

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When experts study the economic effects of migration, the amount of money expatriates send back to their homes plays a key role in some countries. These transactions are commonly referred to as remittances, and they represent a major international financial resource in the world and a mean to reducing poverty in the developing world. Remittances also create positive spillover effects, such as improving health, education, and gender equality.

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Mongolia is in the midst of a debt crisis, and this week it was announced that the troubled country would receive a $5.5 billion international bailout. The loan will be financed by a collection of entities, including the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, Japan, South Korea, and China. Mongolia’s struggles are recent, but came swiftly. After growing an incredible 17% in 2011, the country quickly fell into cash problems. China’s economic slowdown was a major factor in the economy’s collapse, along with falling commodity prices, a backbone of the Mongolian economy.

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In recent years, the demand of expatriates has shifted from Westerners to expats from Asia. Many corporations in the West would send their employees to different countries for a short period of time to gain experience and transfer knowledge to their companies. However, companies in Asia are drawing attention due to their global economic success, resulting in an Eastern shift for expats.

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The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal, was a global agreement that curtailed multinational sanctions on Iran with the promise that Iran would cut back on its uranium enrichment. Several nations have doubted Iran's full commitment to the deal, especially with news of the recent missile test; nonetheless, the JCPOA has held firm thus far. Helped by the sanctions relief, Iran has now taken a large step in revitalizing its position within the global marketplace. The country has started building 12 new oil refineries, hoping to increase its overall output to at least 4 billion barrels a day by the end of March. Unaffected by the OPEC supply cuts negotiated last November, Iran hopes to massively expand its lagging energy industry, a sector that was particularly hit hard by pre-deal sanctions.

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Many companies all over the world are concerned with the challenges of the hospitality industry including the threat of Airbnb, as well as social responsibility and liability complications. Airbnb is seen as an increasing threat to the hospitality industry and researchers predict that the company will eventually become a replacement for extended stay hotels, bed and breakfasts, rental sites, and corporate apartments. As Airbnb is continuing to grow, hotels are having a hard time maintaining their nightly and occupancy rates that they had the year before. Not only are companies like Airbnb a threat to the hospitality industry, but other challenges include liability alleviation and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

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Destination cities in South America, like Bogota and Columbia, have registered double-digit tourism growth in the past year. A positive impact of the currency devaluations is that the exchange rates across the South American region have allowed an affordable opportunity for foreign travelers to go to South America. Investments in infrastructure are also helping to propel the hospitality industry because the improvements help increase access to various markets and boost travel in the region.

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Russia has been pushing to incorporate nuclear technology in medicine. This process, known as nuclear medicine, involves the use of radioactive substances producing dangerous radiations to gamma rays, beta particles, and alpha particles. Although it may be risky and unsafe, Russia’s increasing participation in the “international market for the production of medical isotopes” has brought tremendous success to the country in the means for fighting cancer.

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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 International Monetary Fund has lowered its global outlook for the 2016-2017 year, despite a fairly strong performance during 2016. The U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union has led to uncertainty macro economically and may lead to a negative impact due to damaging investor confidence and market sentiment. The IMF is projecting that the advanced economies will hold steady with growth at 1.8% for both 2016 and 2017, and the overall global growth is projected to increase by 3.1% in 2016, 3.4% in 2017.

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On December 4, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi mandated a referendum for a major constitutional reform. The goal was remove certain powers from the Senate—the upper house of the national legislature—so as to establish sole approval power in the lower house and expedite the legislative process. A powerful movement against the referendum was led by populist coalition Five Star Movement, reflective of a global trend of increased populism in national governments over the world. The results mirrored this: 60% of referendum voters chose to reject the measure, causing Renzi to meet with Italian President Sergio Mattarella the following day and offer his resignation. However, the referendum results have not just shaken Renzi's political career; Italy's entire future now lays in the balance, with several potential crises at hand.  Questions have risen over probable political changes, the future of Italy's place in the European Union, and the effects on the banking system.

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Today, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will be conducting a highly anticipated meeting regarding the future production of oil and its prices. The main issue the meeting will focus on is the amount of oil supplied by members of OPEC, with an emphasis on the leading oil producing countries in the group. Investors are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the OPEC decision to potentially cut oil production globally. Outcomes of the previous meeting conducted in Algiers seemed hopeful, as the majority of OPEC members agreed to cut as much as 2 percent of their total oil production.

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Despite the trade agreement disputes, political instability, and concerns about the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, the European economies have continued to grow slowly and steadily. During the months of July through August in the third quarter, GDP rose 0.3%, consumer prices rose up to 0.5%, and economic growth as well as inflation occurred as predicted. Global economic growth is based on the productive potential of a country, and the Eurozone economy has, for the past few months, experienced a steady yet sluggish growth.

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Global interest rates currently span a wide range; from Switzerland, at a negative 0.75%, to Belarus at 28.5%. Overall, 45% of the world’s central banks lowered their rates in the last year, 29% increased their rates, and the remaining 26% left their rates unchanged. Central banks are often nationalized institutions that are usually independent from the government, but whose privileges are established and protected by law.

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Through October, the Eurozone’s economy grew at the fastest pace of the year. The rally in in United Kingdom government bonds and a higher chance of inflation has caused 10 year government bonds in the UK to now yield more than double the levels they did in August. Due to the interconnected global bond markets, the yields in Eurozone bonds rose as a result. The raise eased pressure on the European Central Bank, whose quantitative easing program prevents it from buying any debt that yields under the deposit rate of -0.4 percent.

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Global economic growth has been held back in recent times and many factors play into this; however, political uncertainty has been at the forefront. Unpredictable political outcomes, such as the general election season in the world, instability in the Middle East, the Brexit, and China’s leadership reshuffle, have created considerable doubt and uncertainty in global markets.

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The economic impact of natural disasters can be witnessed on a global scale. These disasters often set in motion a variety of chain reactions, negatively impacting and in some cases decimating sectors of the global economy. "In 2014, 72 percent of global losses classified as "disasters" were caused by extreme weather events: hailstorms in Europe, drought and severe winter weather in the U.S., hurricane damage in Mexico to typhoon damage in the Philippines, and disastrous flooding in the U.K., India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan." 

These are some of the most infamous natural disasters with respect to their economic repercussions:

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Venezuela has one of the largest oil supplies in the world, and oil serves as the primary source of income for Venezuela’s economy. The large drop in prices has severely hampered its ability to import products, and has prompted a rapid rise in inflation. The IMF is forecasting that inflation will hit 700% by year end 2016, compared to the Venezuelan government’s forecast of a 180% increase in inflation.

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International trade is an exceptionally important driving factor for corporate and economic growth. Following a two year decline in international trade figures, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) finally reported growth in the second quarter of 2016. Members of G20, an exclusive group of 19 countries and the European Union, showed an increase in combined exports and imports after a run of declines. The majority of G20 countries' export economies rose by at least 1.5% in the second quarter of 2016. Unfortunately, a few major countries such as Argentina, Canada, and China failed to experience export growth.

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Central banks are responsible for determining the monetary policy by setting the interest rates to balance investments and savings, which helps to keep economies fully employed and inflation stable. The natural rate is the interest rate that helps to achieve the balance, and federal reserve policy makers believe that the rate is at 3%, down from 4.5% prior to the recession. The 1.5 percentage point decline in the natural interest rate provides less ability to counteract future economic shocks.

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From 2012 and 2015, it was estimated that budget deficits for governments in the Eurozone were reduced by 40% because of lower borrowing costs. The reduction in the cost of borrowing can be attributed to central banks policies. Low bond yields allow for governments to reduce their deficits and possibly lighten their current austerity measures, and lately, many yields have fallen into negative territory.

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U.S. crude oil prices have been falling for the past two years and some claim that prices may not change until 2019, when oil production will reach its peak. Ever since the global oil-price collapse, oil has become a lot more affordable for consumers, hitting a two-month low on Wednesday, July 20th. As a result of excess oil productions, many suspect that oil prices may go back to $20 per barrel while others predict prices to reach $80 a barrel because the excess is overestimated.

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This blog was written using a wealth of materials promoted by the United Nations, UNCTAD, and various UN Forums, such as the World Investment Forum, but with my take on the implications and where to go from here. This inclusion of official, publicly available UN materials sets the tone for the debate about UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 2030 Agenda, funding and bold leadership required, and the worldwide collaboration needed by the UN’s 193 member states. My take is that collaboration – whether it be structured as a series of multilateral agreements and/or regional agreements – is the way to go over any form of isolationism.

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By 2050, the world’s population will have grown by 32%, but the working age population (ages 15-64) will have only expanded by 26%. Amongst the more advanced economies, by 2050, the working age population will have shrunk 26% in South Korea, 23% in both Germany and Italy, and 28% in Japan. India’s population is expected to grow by 33%, however Russia and China’s working population will contract by 21%.

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Economists warn of a sudden recession due to the uncertainty of Britain’s exit from the European Union and the lack of a strong plan for the future with minimal further disruption of the global markets. Over the past 2 weeks, the British pound has dropped to record 31 year lows against the American dollar, and the Bank of England recently stated that it would likely combat the financial turmoil through quantitative easing and rate cuts. Current economic predictions of households delaying consumption and corporations postponing investment would further lower the demand for labor and increase unemployment. However, despite the potential signs of further economic turmoil, there are silver linings that are becoming more apparent, such as emerging markets and the role of uncertainty.

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A big topic in finance, and more specifically tax, is base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS). The BEPS project is a way to readjust the taxation of profits with the location of economic activities. The goal is to eliminate incidences of tax avoidance around the world once BEPS is implemented. The OECD, G20, and the United States are currently working together to recommend and propose policies to take place under BEPS.

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Economists and governments have predominantly been talking about bringing the ancient Silk Road back into the world of trade. Although the Silk Road dates back to 300 BC, it has had a lasting significant impact on stimulating the cities that laid along its trail. This has influenced China to bring the Silk Road back in order to enhance global business. As a result, President Xi Jinping of China launched China’s Silk Road trade in 2014.

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As the capabilities of artificial intelligence and technology continue to grow and become more versatile and sophisticated, there are more opportunities for continued growth, but these advances can have a wide range of impacts across many industries in the global economy. Artificial intelligence encompasses a wide spectrum of technological advances, such as robots, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, and algorithms.

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The sugar industry could be seeing big changes in the coming years, jump started when the European Union announced a liberalization of their sugar policies. The new sugar policy will allow farmers to produce more sugar, as production quotas and minimum payments have been abolished. With the new rules, the EU expects to become a net exporter of sugar for the first time since 2005, which will impact sugar farmers internationally, especially those used to importing to Europe.

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The global debt is currently around $60,244,106,843,495, and according to the CIA’s World Factbook, there are only two countries, Liechtenstein and Macau, that don’t owe any sovereign external debt. Both countries are fairly small, and are both resource rich, thus helping each sustain a steady flow of cash into their economies. Macau is a semiautonomous region of China, and is home to the world’s largest casinos. Lichtenstein is one of the smallest European countries, and is the largest manufacturer of fake teeth and sausage casings. Both countries don’t use their own currencies, with Lichtenstein using the Swiss franc and Macau using the Hong Kong dollar, so their governments are unable to print more currency and utilize inflationary financial policy.

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“Fintech” has been used lately as a catch-all for the development of new technologies that have challenged and changed the more traditional aspects of finance, such as wealth management, lending, insurance, and payments. A current key challenge that the financial technology industry is facing is if the industry can continue to grow while facing increasing amounts of financial regulation.

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Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), gave a speech concerning the global economy last Tuesday in Frankfurt, Germany. The speech covered several facets of international business and economics, including free trade, political risks to worldwide economies, income inequality, and recent policy actions. Above all, Lagarde emphasized the overall state of the global economy, claiming that the current pace of economic recovery and growth is much too slow. Lagarde warned that unless more is done to kickstart economic growth, the global economy will fall behind. Her speech precedes, and perhaps sets the tone for, the IMF and World Bank spring meetings, set to take place in Washington D.C.

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On Sunday April 3, documents from a Panama-based firm, Mossack Fonseca, were leaked in what is being called the biggest leak of confidential information ever. The leak amounts to approximately 11.5 million documents or 2.6 terabytes’ worth of data. The leaked documents reveal corruption and shady business dealings of politicians, world leaders, and celebrities. The leak exposes how major banks, law firms, and asset management companies manage the wealth of the world’s most powerful people.

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Ethiopia plans to become a top regional exporter in electricity under a new 2015-2020 development plan. It is attempting to tap several rivers for power generation, which is a part of its plans to boost its manufacturing, help to industrialize its agrarian economy, and to export power to countries in Northern and Southern Africa. A $4 billion deal was signed with an U.S.-Icelandic firm in 2013 to build a private-run 1000 megawatt geothermal plant and more power generating projects are being negotiated with other international companies. Egypt is dependent on the Nile, and is concerned that the Renaissance Dam would reduce the river’s flow. In addition, Kenya stated that the Gibe 3 dam and its related irrigation scheme could reduce the volume of water in its Lake Turkana. Low levels of rainfall this year have had an adverse impact on existing dams, and currently four hydropower plants are producing at low levels due to low water levels. There are several more concerns about these projects, namely the current ongoing severe drought and the environmental ramifications.

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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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Iran, OPEC’s number 3 crude oil producer, is expected to raise its oil exports to around 1.65 million barrels per day in March. Previously, Iran was exporting about 1.5 million barrels per day. With the rise in exports, the state-run National Iranian Oil Company plans to increase shipments to several countries throughout Europe. The National Iranian Oil Co. is expected to ship around 250,000-300,000 barrels per day to Europe beginning on March 1. France is contracted to receive about 200,000 barrels per day, while Spain is set to receive about 35,000 barrels per day. Russia and Greece are also expected to receive shipments from Iran.

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A referendum is a vote in which nearly anyone of a voting age can take part in, and can cast a “Yes” or “No” vote to a question, and whichever side has over half of the votes cast wins. U.K.’s Prime Minister David Cameron announced a referendum on June 23, 2016 to vote on whether the United Kingdom should remain a part of the European Union. Britain held a referendum in 1975, and voted to stay; however, there are many who called for another vote because they argued that the European Union has changed over the past 40 years.

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The Bank of Japan reduced interest rates to below zero on Friday, after years of keeping them in the positive range. The negative interest rates will be placed initially on reserves valued at 10-30 trillion yen and will apply only to new reserves that financial institutions deposit at the central bank. The goal is that the reduction would cause the real interest rates to decrease, thus stimulating consumption and investment. This policy will decrease rates for lending and isn’t supposed to negatively affect banks. The Bank of Japan will be dividing the account balances into 3 tiers, and the interest rates placed depending on the type of reserves that are placed in the Bank of Japan.

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The World Bank has reduced its forecast for global growth for a third year in a row due to weakness in the developing world. Global markets hit a rough patch in the beginning of 2016 due to weak Chinese data, the fall of currencies in emerging-markets, decreased stock prices, and an increase in the value of the U.S. dollar. The World Bank’s forecast involved three optimistic assumptions for global growth, being that commodity prices will stabilize and that the Chinese government will able to manage the transition away from rapid and unsustainable growth. The other assumption that was made in the forecast was that the interest-rate hike by the United States Federal Reserve wouldn’t damage the U.S. economy or have a negative impact in the global financial market.

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With the holiday season on the near horizon, it’s crunch time for people across the globe to find the best deals on presents, especially those that aren’t usually affected by seasonal sales. This past weekend and subsequent “Cyber Monday” marks the annual event of the consumer discretionary sector marking down retail goods, offering exceptional savings for a very limited time. Generally, a jolt in sales due to Black Friday is expected to be a harbinger of a relatively healthier Q4 earnings report, especially if previous periods had stagnant growth or lackluster earnings. The holiday shopping season is vital to the fiscal success of many retailers and yet historically, sales during this time of year don’t follow any particular pattern or have any distinctly profound impact on overall economic trends. But for many, Black Friday is a time of year that can make or break a company’s financial statements.

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2015 has been a tough year for international trade, as new statistics show this year is on pace to be the worst year for trade since 2009. The numbers were a surprise compared with earlier projections, and have led to worries among some economists about the health of the global economy. The IMF had expected a 3.1% increase in trade volume compared to last year, but through three quarters of 2015, trade has only grown 0.7%. Analysts have highlighted lower demand from the Eurozone as well as an economic slowdown in China as major factors in the low trade numbers.

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El Niño is a weather and climate phenomenon which is characterized by unusually warm sea and surface temperatures and can be measured by ocean temperatures and atmospheric convection activities. The change in the sea temperature can affect the timing of when the heat transfers from the oceans into the atmosphere, which can affect temperature and rainfall patterns. Historically, El Niño has immediately impacted the agriculture sector, but its effects can also be felt later in the global marketplace.

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2015 has been a huge year for mergers and acquisitions, with current projections predicting the total value for the year will be the highest since pre-recession levels. Well-known industry leaders such AbbVie and Pharmacyclics, Royal Dutch Shell and BG Group, and Kraft and Heinz have all announced mergers this year, creating huge international corporations to compete in the global market. Several sectors have seen a large share of the activity, one being the technology industry, especially in the electronics and semiconductor area. The semiconductor industry is the backbone of the technological industry, producing the chips used in computers, cell phones, and appliances.

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The low oil prices have had both positive and negative effects in the short-term, but the long-term effects are less known and are thought to have wide and long-term impacts on the global economy. Low oil prices have reduced gas prices and have allowed people to save money at the pump. Lower gas prices can help people who have lower incomes and can also reduce costs on energy bills for those who live in cold climates. The automotive industry has sold more cars while gas has been less expensive, which has caused total vehicle sales to climb from 12 million per month to nearly 18 million. In addition, transportation companies benefit from lower fuel costs, as does any business that has to pay fuel bills to power its operations.

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Japan’s recent recovery, frail as it is, is doing far better than the failing endeavor it’s been pegged as in mainstream media. Understandably, claims on the many faults of Prime Minister Abe’s Quantitative Easing policy have been warranted. This year alone, Japan has faced a shrinking economy in its second quarter and came uncomfortably close to the same designation in the third quarter. Most notably, inflation has been on a steady decline since April and has since stabilized but remains alarmingly close to zero. Dismal as the outcomes have been thus far, the island nation is inching closer to its goals.

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After multiple offers, Anhesuer-Busch (AB) InBev has reached a $106 billion takeover deal with SABMiller. AB InBev, owner of Budweiser, Stella Artois, and Corona, will now become the controlling player in the international beer market after the purchase of SABMiller, owner of Miller Lite, Peroni, and Fosters. As a result of the merger, the newly created company will hold about 30% of the global beer market share. The $106 billion deal is atop the record charts for beer acquisitions and is one of the highest-dollar corporate takeovers in history. AB InBev and SABMiller’s combination sets the stage for many shifts in the international beer market.

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This coming week will provide several indications of the recovery of the global economy, amid increasing concerns of another economic downturn. A major point of worry for economists is that there are limited tools that Central Banks can use globally to avoid another recession. China is expected to release data that is leading to expectations of an increase in stimulus measures to avoid a sharp downturn. The European Central Bank has been attempting to raise inflationary pressure to spike a raise in prices. Inflation numbers for some member countries are expected to be published this coming week and are expected to confirm that prices fell by 0.1 percent annually last month. Banks globally have been taking either a more hawkish stance, where there may not be an extension of quantitative easing, or a stance of allowing more money to enter the economy through increased stimulus.

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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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India and China are both among the fastest-growing economies in the world. Despite the global economy being in financial turmoil after China's projected lower economic growth, India is trying to project itself as a safe investment with continued economic growth. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Indian business leaders and economists for a three-hour summit to discuss how to steer India’s economy in a positive direction after China’s slowdown was announced.

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As of late, there has been a lot of talk of whether the United States Federal Reserve Bank will raise interest rates in September. Typically, the Federal Reserve would raise its benchmark interest rate when the economy is growing too fast to encourage people to spend less and save more. This slows the economy down, thereby reducing inflationary pressure. A raise in interest rates signals a perception that inflation is rising and that the economy is healthy and growing.

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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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El Niño is a weather and climate phenomenon that is characterized by unusually warm sea surface temperatures. During the El Niño, warm water moves from the Western part of the Pacific Ocean to the Eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, often accompanied by a change in trade winds. This occurrence can cause significant economic impacts, which could directly impact the agricultural economy first, but later can be felt in the global marketplace.

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With a new development by an engineer at Michigan State University, soon a sky scraper could generate enough energy from its windows to supply all of the energy it needs. Researcher Richard Lunt, of Michigan State University, has been able to do what many have tried in the past, making a fully transparent solar concentrator. This new technology, within the next couple of years, could change the face of solar energy and global business. This new technique could change the windows in any building or the glass face on a mobile device into a solar power harvesting application. 

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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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In her novel The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, author and Georgetown University professor of international economics Pietra Rivoli researches and follows the lifespan of a simple commodity - a t-shirt - across the world, while examining the insights it provides into the markets, power, and politics of an increasingly interconnected global economy. Beginning with a street peddler selling shirts intended for tourists in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Rivoli investigates the roots and destinations of her t-shirt in an epic that spans the U.S. cotton industry's historical versatility and dominance of international markets, textile production facilities in China, market demands for affordable commodities in the United States and Europe, and ending its journey in used clothing markets in sub-Saharan Africa.

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In the past few years, globalization has become more apparent in its role in the global economy, where more people, countries, and economies are becoming interconnected with one other. In the book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman attempts to break down the role that globalization has played and how it can be considered as a new sort of international system for the future.

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For the first time, Saudi Arabia has opened its markets to foreign investors in hopes that in can attract more international investments in the country. Saudi Arabia has experienced solid growth over the last decade due to hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from the sale of oil and is attempting to maintain its local spending plan after crude prices have tumbled. The opening of the stock exchange can play a role in reducing its dependence on oil as a driver in its economy and also aid in its future economic growth.

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Nigeria is a country that is steeped with opportunities and chances for economic growth, but has its problems and challenges as well. Between 1990 and 2010, Nigeria re-based its GDP, which resulted in an 89% increase in the economy's estimated size. Now, Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa with a nominal estimated GDP of  $590 billion, surpassing South Africa’s $340 Billion, and has maintained over the past decade an average growth rate of 6.8%, higher than the West Africa sub-region.

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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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Some may think that the key to expansion is growing, but it is becoming more popular in the global business world today for companies to divest in order to achieve desired growth. Many CEO's are saying that divestitures are the key to unlocking hidden potential and value within a company and also help improve corporate performance. A growing abundance of divestitures is being seen throughout industries around the globe, even in industries where M&A activity like this is anything but the norm.

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Latin America has often been considered one of the largest areas for economic growth; however, at the end of the first fiscal quarter, the region has contracted. Despite most economies in the region continuing their steady growth paths, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela have decreased in their growth, with only Chile and Peru seeing an increase of growth. This can be attributed to global conditions, as other countries, such as China and Japan have also showed similar signs of decreased economic growth.

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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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Oil prices dipped on Monday due to the rising value of the dollar and the potential for an oversupply of oil. Global conditions and the turmoil in the Middle East caused oil barrel prices to rise, especially due to the gains that Islamic State militants made in Iraq after seizing the provincial capital of Ramadi. In addition, the dollar continued to rise against other major currencies, thus making raw materials less affordable to holders of the euro and other currencies.

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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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Since the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was founded in 2014, there have been many discussions around this multilateral development bank concerning its purposes and functions. Despite the skepticism, AIIB, once launched, will accelerate Asia’s infrastructure development and international trade. This blog will briefly explain the impacts of the high-speed Silk Road, one of such projects that AIIB has announced recently.

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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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It has been big news in the world economy that The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is trying to implement a single economic community called the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). What does this mean for ASEAN and the entire world economy? The AEC is expected to lead to a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, a region of equitable economic development, and a region fully integrated into the global economy.

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Since last year, prices of oil have decreased by over fifty percent and have festered at some of their lowest rates in many years. This has occurred due to several factors, including decreasing global demand for oil and an increasing supply. Lately, however, demand for crude oil is on the rise and overall output has been growing in major oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Libya. It is yet to be seen if these events will continue as an industry trend for this year, but a potential change in oil prices could certainly occur.

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As of late, the value of the dollar has appreciated compared to other currencies, and one currency that the effects are evident in is the euro. The fall of the euro has been increased due to the willingness of investors to move their assets out of the Eurozone, and into “safe havens” like the U.S., Denmark, and Switzerland.  The difference between the European and American monetary policies has been a catalyst for investors reallocating their portfolios, looking for bigger gains. A major difference playing a role is that euro will be further pushed down against the dollar, as the European Central Bank is holding interest rates, while the U.S. Fed Reserve is looking to raise the rates.

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Globalization can be defined as the process of interaction and integration among the people, companies, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade, investment, and information technology. It is not a new concept, and has been present for thousands of years, as people and corporations have been buying and selling goods and services, along with exchanging ideas across long distances.

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Last Friday, the United Nations announced that the world may be facing a major shortage of water supplies in about fifteen years. Available water for consumption and other uses may be reduced by 40% as a result of factors such as urbanization, high living standards, heavy industry usage, and booming population growth. The report calls for drastic measures to keep freshwater as a readily available resource for the future, as some regions of the world are already starting to run out of water and aquifers are becoming exploited beyond a sustainable level. This will mean cutting down on heavy water consumption and use, a move which will affect people and industries worldwide.

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With diverse ecosystems, the ocean is a key source of marine life and resources. Because the Caribbean region is surrounded by ocean, exporting marine resources could potentially be a key driver in the region's economy. However, because of overexploitation and poor management, many Caribbean countries have not made full use of their marine resources, which has limited their ability to expand economically.

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In recent years, immigration has been a topic that has been widely discussed globally, from the U.S. to the EU to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.  There are other aspects of immigration that are often not considered that tend to slip through the cracks of the political quagmire, and those aspects can influence the global economy and can be far-reaching.  One such aspect is remittance, which is the transfer of money from a worker in a foreign country back to individuals back in their home country, typically family members and friends.

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On February 19, the German government rejected Greece’s request for a 6 month extension to its Eurozone program. Germany had hoped that Greece would renew its existing deal that contains harsh austerity conditions, and a German Finance Ministry spokesman claimed that the proposed assistance package was “not a substantial proposal for a solution”. The Finance Minister himself, Wolfgang Schaeuble, stressed that no new payment of funds would be given to Greece until a new deal was made. Despite the Greek economy growing in all four quarters last year, it has been in recession for almost 6 years and must take measures to improve the condition of its economy.

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Globalization is occurring and the world is growing more interconnected and accessible, and as a result it is now easier to travel to other countries. Cultural awareness is increasing, and as a result, tourism is too as people want to experience the culture of other countries. The tourism industry accounted for 9.5% of the world’s GDP in 2013 (U.S. $7 trillion) and currently employs 266 million people worldwide. In perspective, the global tourism industry employs 1 in 11 people on this planet. One aspect related to tourism, that is often not considered, is that with benefits and new opportunities, come new challenges.

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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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In 2014, international tourism grew by 4.7%, and strong growth is expected for 2015 as well. In fact, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) anticipates that global tourism will grow by 3-4% in 2015, further aiding in the global economic recovery. 2014 marks the fifth consecutive year with above average industry growth, as the international tourism industry has shown strong resilience following the 2009 economic crisis. In recent years, tourism has been a major contributor to world economic growth, generating billions of dollars in exports and creating millions of jobs. The question remains, will this growth continue into the foreseeable future?

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At a recent G20 finance ministers’ meeting, the main topic of conversation was economic growth and policies to implement. The OECD was in attendance, and expressed the need for countries to focus on policies that won’t just establish economic growth, but that will foster global recovery. The desire for economic growth needs to be coupled with a focus on combating growing inequality around the world.

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McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm, has released a report containing information on the debt of over 47 different countries. The numbers show that total global debt has increased by $57 trillion since the 2007 financial crisis, making current global debt a record high of $199 trillion. Debt is now 286 percent of global economic output, a 17 percent increase from what it was during the financial crisis. These figures expose weaknesses and trends present in all markets and countries, and also imply that many of these economies might be headed on rocky roads toward bankruptcy or severe crisis, affecting the economy on a global level. Here is a closer look.

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Ask and you shall receive. The Greek population decided it was time for a change in government and just last week, Greece elected and swore in its new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras. The prime minister represents a leftist party and reflects the desire of the Greek people for reform just years after a major bailout. Tsipras ran his campaign based on the issue of renegotiating the ensuing debt that citizens have blamed for large increases in unemployment and a recession.

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Recently, Hershey blocked Cadbury's products from being imported to the United States by reaching a settlement with Let’s Buy British Imports, or L.B.B. These agreements forced L.B.B. to stop exporting Cadbury chocolates made overseas to the United States.

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The global economy had its projections cut by the World Bank, saying that the United States will not be able to hold up the global economy alone.  The global economy is now projected to grow 3.0% this year, rather than the 3.5% that was formerly projected. However, the United States had its projection increased from 3.0% growth to 3.2% growth. The World Bank cited Europe, Japan, Russia, and parts of Latin America as the source of the struggles leading to the lower projections. While oil prices are low, developing economies who import oil will receive a boost. However, oil exporters will continue to struggle, especially Russia, due to the low price of oil.

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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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Within the past few weeks, news of the cyber-hack into Sony Pictures' confidential files has demonstrated once again the undeniable influence that individuals can hold over a major corporation due to the empowerment of the globalization of modern technology. Unlike any other time in human history, the rise of the "Information Age," which has led largely to positive global effects like easing barriers to trade, efficiency in communication or sharing ideas, and enhancing the private citizen's ability to raise awareness for social progress, has also enabled criminal activity to pose serious threats to not only fellow individuals, but massive corporations and governments as well. For this reason, the White House has called the attacks on Sony a "serious national security matter" due to the effects that cybercrime can inflict not only on a nation's informational security, but also on the global economy.

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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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Oil prices fell 6.7% per barrel on November 27th after OPEC decided not to cut production. Currencies linked to oil such as the Canadian dollar and the Norwegian krone took a hit, as prices this low will cause many fracking companies to become unprofitable. Low cost producers in countries like Saudi Arabia will be able to sustain small profits at such low prices, but U.S. fracking companies are not profitable at a price under $70 per barrel. Falling oil prices are a positive sign for economies worldwide, since it acts like a tax cut for consumers. The current price weakness can be somewhat attributed to weak demand globally, but the rise of fracking worldwide leads us to believe that there might be an oversupply.

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On a meeting in Berlin on Thursday, thirty wealthy nations pledged to donate $9.3 billion towards the Green Climate Fund, a sum dedicated toward reducing emissions and helping to protect developing and poorer nations from the stark effects of climate change. This is a little short of the $10 billion goal that was supposed to be reached, but it is a big step forward in investing to prepare help prepare for the effects of climate change. Environmental officials everywhere have highly praised the fund, and more countries are to offer donations by the end of the year.

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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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In an earlier blog post, I discussed how the restructuring of China's economy by its government had the potential to affect other nations and impact the global economy. In this post, I will be discussing the economic and political struggles it is currently facing and how these issues are influencing Western nations. China is currently having trouble with its slowing economy as well as a tough anti-corruption campaign that deals with government figures and local business. Currently, the government is actively seeking solutions to these problems.

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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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According to a draft of a communique that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Development Committee plan to release on October 11, finance and development officials are warning of major current downside risks to the global economy. The major risks that are cited include potential deflation in Europe, Japanese recession, and a slowing Chinese economy.

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As the world's second biggest economy, China is a mainstay for several countries who depend on it for their international services. Most of these tend to be neighboring countries on the same continent, but China's influence is not limited to Asia alone. With major business also being done in Australia and North America, China has proved that its reach is global. As a result, the impact of its attempt to rebalance its markets and economy will not stay within its borders, and will most likely affect economic policies everywhere.

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In what would be a great engineering feat, plans for a canal to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in Nicaragua have been finalized. The idea of a Nicaraguan canal goes back to the 19th century, when officials in the United States looked into the feasibility of a canal project. Nicaragua ended up being passed over when Panama was chosen as the site for a trans-oceanic canal by Congress in 1902. After the Panama Canal’s construction, talks of a Nicaraguan canal died down until the early 21st century. With increasing world trade and the need for quick shipping, the idea of a second canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was proposed by the Nicaraguan government.

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Sports are big business across the world. The recent agreement to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, of the NBA, for $2 billion is the largest amount paid for a sports franchise in the history of the United States. Across the world things are no different. In 2012, for the first time, a sports franchise issued an IPO and went public. Manchester United, an English soccer club, currently holds a $2.75 billion market cap, making it one of the most valuable sports franchises.

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Nowadays, people have more opportunities to move to different parts of the world than ever before, thanks to globalization. Global trade, therefore, is changing with the increasing mobility. A new report says that, while the last era of globalization was driven largely by sourcing low-cost production, the next era will center on the rise of the global knowledge economy.

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A few months ago, Brazilian authorities officially announced that $2.3 billion will be spent on infrastructure projects alone for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. These costs will rise as projects are added along the way, and efforts to solve Brazil’s infrastructure gap continue. The pressure on the country continues as Brazil will be the first South American country to host the Olympic Games. On top of the 2016 Olympics, Brazil is also hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup this summer and has experienced delays in its infrastructure preparation. Therefore, the focus on infrastructure development has sharpened in Brazil. Now the question is: How will Brazil’s infrastructure growth impact its long-term prospects as an emerging country in the global economy?

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Infrastructure can be defined as the structure or underlying foundation on which the continued growth of a community depends and is of vital importance to countries in all stages of development.  The rapid development of innovations in technology and communication has enabled significant improvements in the design, installation, and operation of assets, which can expedite the process of upgrading infrastructure.  In today’s global business environment, cities around the world are competing for business and investment, and the quality of existing infrastructure is often a determining factor.  Countries that are able to deliver improvements to infrastructure quickly and without political interference will likely reap the greatest economic benefits.

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As Russia prepares to make Crimea part of Russia, other countries have watched from afar and have developed plans to impose economic sanctions on Russia. Government officials from the United States have already signed an order enabling economic sanctions against sectors of the Russian economy. Leaders from the European Union are also considering their options as they meet in Brussels to discuss economic sanctions against Russia. With economic sanctions on Russia looming, the impact on Russia and the global economy remains to be seen.

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For the first time in China’s history, a Chinese company defaulted on its bond payments, signaling a change in the country’s economic policy.  Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science and Technology, a company that produces solar panels, could not make its interest payments on a one billion yuan bond, and defaulted after the Chinese government refused to bail the firm out. This is a stark change from previous actions by China, which has always bailed out onshore companies that were on the verge of defaulting. This decision to allow Chaori to default shows China’s commitment to a more open economy, in which investors cannot fall back on the government to bailout bad business decisions.

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is a trade agreement between twelve countries, including China, Japan, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, and Peru. This agreement, if ratified, would eliminate almost all trade barriers between these twelve countries, uniting them in the largest free-trade zone in world history. The problem is, it doesn't seem to be getting approved anytime soon; talks that occurred just last week in Singapore ended with the countries reaching no finalized agreement that would put the TPP into effect. As the partnership has been undergoing negotiation talks for years, it is wondered how much longer it will take for the countries to cooperate on certain final issues and establish the partnership.

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The political and economic future of Ukraine remains uncertain despite a rapidly changing political situation. This uncertainty will undoubtedly affect economic conditions for those in Ukraine but also other countries supporting Ukraine. Officials from both the United States and the European Union have stated that they are willing to provide financial assistance to Ukraine. How will the future of Ukraine be shaped by this financial assistance and growing international relationship?

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In a meeting last week, the leaders of the United States, Mexico, and Canada got together and discussed various issues surrounding their own countries, including forming new trade agreements to open up more trade across the globe. These three countries entered into their own agreement 20 years ago when they signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was a significant step for regional trade in the Western Hemisphere. Now, these three countries hope that they can use NAFTA as a springboard to form new agreements with other countries in an attempt to find new markets and diversify their own economies.

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Mitigating climate change and the shortage of natural resources require rapid and widespread development of renewable energy. As the demand for renewable energy has increased largely in the past 10 years, the number of renewable energy trade disputes is also rising. A number of countries have found that their feed-in-tariff (FIT) programs are at odds with the fair trade agreements in the international trade of renewable energy. Therefore, this post will introduce the impacts of trade barriers on the international trade of renewable energy.

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China's economy has politicians, investors, and businessmen all over the world biting their nails in nervous anticipation. Business and investment in the country have become increasingly risky and low expectations have been predicted for several sectors of the economy. The country as of late has been able to hold their own and beat their dismal forecasts; however if it does not stabilize its economy soon, it could prove bad news for the country and for the global economy.

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Employee resource groups (ERGs) are very popular with companies in the United States, but it is becoming increasingly important for companies all over the world to adopt this workplace habit. Employee resource groups are groups of employees who join together in their workplace based on shared characteristics or life experiences. Global companies need to hone in on this, and take full advantage of what ERGs can do for a business.

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People’s attention shifted to the U.S. stock market again when stock prices dropped by 10 percent and hit a record low since October 2011. Although the recent ease-money government policies played a role in the price drop, the main reason for the decline was the global growth slowdown.

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This past week, the World Economic Forum (WEF) hosted its 44th Annual Meeting 2014 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Every year, the WEF brings together the leaders of the world to reflect on the past year and discuss the significant global issues to focus on for the year. The list of attendees are considered the world’s most influential leaders including government officials, economists, top corporate executives, actors and activists, among other prominent figures.

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Forecasts from the World Bank show that the global economy should experience more growth in 2014 than what was expected seven months ago, showing that the world’s economy is finally turning a corner from the recession of recent years. According to a report released on January 14th, the world’s economy should grow by 3.2%, up from the 3% projection made in June. This is good news to many investors and business people around the world, since it is the first time in three years that the World Bank has revised their forecast and predicted improvement.

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Throughout the past year China has announced its plans to open industries to foreign companies. Since the Shanghai free trade zone was introduced in September 2013 China has made many attempts at opening up parts of the economy in hopes of stimulating economic progress in the country. Within the Shanghai zone the government is testing free trade in Chinese currency as well as allowing interest rates to be set by market forces. This provides a great opportunity for foreign companies who wish to harness the mass market China provides.

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As students all over the country depart from the cozy homes of their parents to go back to school a question with a seemingly obvious answer is asked - why? The start of a new semester signals a new beginning that entails learning and growth for another four months. The obvious answer to why so many young people do this every fall and winter is that school provides them with necessary skills in order to make a living in the world—a world that is becoming ever more competitive. However, little research has been done on exactly what return someone may receive for the skills they possess. The OECD published a recent paper taking a stab at this question.

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Now that 2013 is wrapping up people are interested in predictions for 2014. Two important predictions to look at are the global economy and global business. These two factors usually go hand in hand; if the global economy is looking brighter it may be due to the fact that global business is increasing. Since a large plummet in 2011, global business and the global economy have slowly been increasing and there is more confidence on what the future holds.

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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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Major changes could be coming to China, after officials released plans to reform economic and social policies. China’s president, Xi Jinping, unveiled reform plans after a four-day conclave of Communist Party leaders in hopes that the economic changes will increase economic growth, which has slowed since the world-wide recession. Along with the economic reforms, plans were made to relax the one child policy and close labor camps, both infamous in the international community. The reforms, if implemented, could have wide-ranging impacts on society and business in China, improving human rights and opening new sectors of the economy to private companies.

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The effect of time zones has been a little-known but important issue for international business. Country time zones have been historically influenced by trading patterns and partners. Setting the same time zone to a partner makes it easier to conduct trading since business hours match. Different time zones force businesses to factor in time zone conversion when dealing with international business and can negatively impact worker productivity.

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It has been five years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, an investment bank in the United States, launched the global economy into one of the worst financial crises of all time. Since then, the United States and many other major global financial institutions have taken big steps in securing a safer worldwide financial state. The United States, along with many other countries, have made many reforms that will allow the global financial situation to become more protected. However, there are new areas in the world which could threaten the state of global finance.

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The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its annual Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) for 2013-2014 on September 3rd. The 2013-2014 GCR is unique in a way that it is a significant measure of the health of global economy during an economic shift. As emerging nations continue to fuel rapid economic growth, and financial-burdened countries regain positive economic momentum, the report captures the economy during a sensitive shift. The top three spots from the previous years’ report remain unchanged as Switzerland, Singapore and Finland respectfully prevail in descending order. The GCR can be found as a ranking for each country under the indices section on country pages such as Switzerland. The Netherlands, Denmark and South Korea dropped three to five spots for larger losses. On a positive note, Norway, New Zealand, and United Arab Emirates gained an impressive four, five and five spots representing a strong push for global competitiveness.

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As time goes by, we often forget about the fast paced and dynamic environment that we live in. Over the past five years, the international business world has changed dramatically. Believe it or not, in just five years, rapidly growing countries have emerged onto the global economic scene, various industries have been drastically altered by technology, and start-up businesses have grown into international powerhouses. Today, in honor of the 5th year anniversary of the globalEDGE blog, we will look at global business facts and trends in 2008 and compare them to that of 2013.

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In the five years that the globalEDGE blog has been operating, much has changed in the area of global trade and investment. It all began when the global financial crisis came about in 2008 and this led to major changes in the global trade markets. Global trade relative to GDP plummeted around thirty percent during the financial crisis, and the crisis seemed to have come from problems such as poor trade regulation, bad credit, and poor bank strategies. There are many changes that have been made to the global economy and many challenges that have been faced in the area of global trade since 2008. Here’s a look at what has happened.

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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.

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Economic bubbles have been a reoccurring economic cycle in the world throughout the history of capitalism. Recent economic bubbles that the world has experienced include dot-com/telecom, real estate, stocks, and biotech bubbles. They date back to the 1880’s when the first railroad tracks were laid down in the United States. The goal was to connect the United States through economic integration and development, which created a boom in the development of canals, turnpikes, railroads, and telephone lines. Many of these projects were funded by the government, and now green technology projects are funded by them as well. Globally, governments are beginning to promote green technologies through loans and subsidies. The rapid growth the world has seen in green technology could be the start of the next big economic bubble.

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Emerging markets has become a phrase that incites a lot of excitement. With high growth rates and the possibility of huge returns, investors have flocked to put money in the best performing emerging markets. One of the darling emerging markets over the past decade has been India. The combination of a large landmass, rich with resources, and the world’s second largest population has been the framework that allowed India’s GDP to grow at an average rate of 7.65% a year over the past decade. This well outpaces the United States as well as almost every western economy and has caused investors to salivate at the potential they see in India. Regardless of these extraordinary statistics, recent stumbles in India’s economy has reminded everyone just how risky emerging markets can be.

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While it is no secret that Sub-Saharan Africa has been plagued with poor infrastructure throughout the region’s history, the region’s economic prospects and investment opportunity just took another major hit. On August 7th, a massive fire damaged much of Kenya’s main international airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, causing the airport to close indefinitely with no flights arriving or departing since the blaze was first reported. What made the fire so devastating to the airport was that the Nairobi County fire department did not have a single working fire engine, due to an auction last month where three of their engines were sold in order to pay a $1,000 USD repair bail, which local papers called a “disgrace of biblical proportions.” Despite the physical damage done to Kenya’s major airport, the destruction caused by the flames is unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the economic havoc that this fire most likely will unleash upon developing Sub-Saharan Africa.

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England, the third largest economy entity in the euro zone, is facing difficulties on its way to economic recovery and is seeking help from a Canadian governor. Taking the term from Sir Mervyn King, Mark Carney became the new governor of the Bank of England (BE) with hopes of bringing a breath of fresh air to the British economy. Before entering Carney’s time in charge, let’s take a glance at the British economy and predict the future trends under Carney’s lead.

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According to a report by the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa is on pace to achieve larger economic growth than the global average over the next three years. The report stated that higher commodities, increased investment opportunities, and a steady recovery in the global economy should sustain the region’s GDP growth above 5%, while the global average remains merely 2.4% as of this year. Excluding South Africa, the region’s strongest economy, African economies are currently growing at 5.8 percent, higher than the developing country average of 4.9 percent.Coupled with an anticipated increase in global foreign direct investment, which is expected to reach $54 billion USD by 2015, the economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa provides an immense opportunity not only to elevate the standing of African nations in the global economy, but also the chance to fight back against the region’s staggering poverty levels.

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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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The past five years has seen an increased importance placed on a country's level of debt. Trying to deal with this problem can differ greatly by country. From the gradual debt reduction approach seem to be preferred by the United States to the austerity measures that became a popular tool by Eurozone governments, countries are waking up to the realization that too much debt is a bad thing. What is too much debt? The groundbreaking academic paper released by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff in 2010 seemed to have solved the problem when the models they ran indicated that when a country exceeds a 90% debt to GDP ratio it greatly diminishes growth rates.

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Globalization is the worldwide movement to increase the flow of goods, services, people, real capital, and money across borders in order to create a more integrated world economy.  Previously, I wrote of international trade in antiquities, but let take a look at trade during antiquity and how it has affected today’s economy.  Trade networks have always followed the trends of politics, economics, technology, and most importantly culture.  Exotic luxury goods demanded by elites encouraged trade to gain momentum: Incense Route, Silk Road, Amber Road, Spice Route, and Tea Route.  Soon, economics became so interconnected that World Systems became dependent on each other.

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Jobs, a word that stirs up many emotions, and as of late mostly worry. For those of all ages the economy is worrisome. From those who have been loyal employees at the same company for thirty years to those stepping off of campus this month with the ink still wet on their diplomas. All are troubled with what the future holds for them. Every year, at this time, the discussion resurfaces and as graduation inches closer for us here the thought of life after school becomes ever more prominent.

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This year the spring slowdown in manufacturing may slow down more than anticipated. Following disappointing results in the manufacturing activity and industrial production worldwide, analysts are saying that with the already weak economies in China, Germany, and the United States, the slowdown could impact more than just spring. Germany has had a trend in weaker manufacturing activity, and the U.S. has been introduced to sequestration due to its weak trend in the industry. If China, Germany and the United States can’t find a way to power their manufacturing activity this slowdown could have global effects.  

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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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The global sovereign debt crisis has impacted our world economically almost like a 3rd world war.  And because money was thrown out with rabid fury, it is boomeranging back with a vengeance.  In his quintessential narrative-style nonfiction book, Boomerang, Michael Lewis presents to the reader four case studies: Iceland, Greece, Ireland, and Germany.  Lewis travels the world examining how each of these countries dealt with the collective problem of debt and how their cultural characteristics impacted the citizens.

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The theory of a steady state economy and the end of economic growth as we know it has been discussed more frequently today as the world struggles to climb its way out of a recession. Whether or not this theory will become reality is up for debate. However, one specific aspect of this theory is certain. If economic growth continues to diminish and GDP growth rests motionless, the impact on international business will be profound. We will now look at some of the implications this reality would hold for international business, and we will also discuss possible solutions to the problems created by growth in our finite world.

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In 2010, Emirates ordered 32 new A380 macrojets from Airbus, which opened the door for the airline market in India. Shortly after this, Airbus announced Monday that it had a received an order for $24 billion worth of new single-aisle jets from the Indonesian budget airline Lion Air. While the world is expecting growth of the airline industry in developing countries, the global air traffic industry is actually shrinking. Let’s examine the global air traffic industry and analyze the various factors affecting the business environment of the industry.

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As the U.S. has just released that its GDP has grown only 0.1% in the 4th quarter of 2012 and that trend of low growth is persistent in every economic headline for seemingly every country, the question of whether this is a temporary phenomenon or the new reality is very relevant. Personally, I am of the opinion that this zero growth environment may be unavoidable.

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The lackluster global economy is now going on its fifth year and new information suggests that it is still a series of ebbs and flows. Economists’ predictions about the United States’ fourth quarter growth was off by over a percent and the U.S. experienced a contraction of the economy for the first time in a few years. The unemployment rate ticked up .1% to 7.9%, not the kind of news a recovering economy wants.

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Policy makers around the globe have all consistently attempted to solve the answer to one riddle: what makes a country wealthy? Every national policy maker in the world is attempting to advance the economic wellbeing of their country. Often, the question is posed as “what makes a country poor” in order to try to find some possible remedies. For instance, why haven’t Canada or Mexico reached the same level of GDP as the US? Why is Egypt much more developed than its neighbors of Libya and Sudan? The answers to these questions have varied from the degree of market freedom (Adam Smith) to overpopulation (Thomas Malthus) to a country’s natural resources (Jeffrey Sachs).

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Alongside China’s growing assertiveness in foreign policy, businesses in China are also being more aggressive in their international business practices. Chinese businesses are increasingly using international acquisitions to expand their presence overseas in various countries such as Canada and the United States. Chinese firms have already acquired an American manufacturer of high-tech batteries and a major aircraft leasing business this past month. Overseas acquisitions by Chinese companies are expected to continue to increase as firms pursue companies in Canada including Nexen, a major Canadian energy company. Chinese acquisitions are changing the landscape of international business and may also be an indicator of China’s goal to be the world’s strongest economy.

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As globalization has emerged and evolved into one of the leading factors driving business decisions today, certain countries and economies have been profiled for their seemingly important role in this new age. India is seen as one of those stars in the age of globalization but recent setbacks may warrant a second look. With anemic growth in the United States economy and the European Union with its whole host of problems some economic consequences for India seem legitimate. However, with the missteps that India businesses have taken, both at home and abroad, the business practices of the country must be questioned.

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Agriculture has been an essential industry for nearly all major economies in the world. These countries use agriculture to drive international trade and create jobs. In the United States, agriculture is one of the most export dependent sectors of the economy with one-third of US agricultural production exported annually. Developing countries have realized the importance of creating economic growth through agricultural production and exports. With an increasing global population, agriculture has provided emerging economies opportunities for growth and integration into the global economic picture.

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In light of ensuing protests in Egypt, attention has been turned to the potential effects the crisis will play on the already stunted global economy. President Morsi of Egypt announced that his decisions would not be subject to judicial oversight until a new constitution has been enacted. This seemingly dictatorial declaration is what sparked the unrest that has already greatly affected the national economy. The protests are continuing, as seen on Sunday when supporters of Morsi surrounded the judicial court, forcing them to suspend sessions until protests have ceased. Due to the continuation of this crisis, the global economy might soon experience some dangerous effects that the Egyptian economy is already facing.

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A major trend in international education is the increase in students studying abroad and enrolling in universities outside of their home countries. Each year billions of dollars are invested in educating bright minds and building relationships by sending students abroad for a well-rounded educational experience. Not only does this movement have profound impact on the future landscape of education, but the exchange of students is giving host countries an economic boost. A recent report by the National Association of Foreign Student Advisors found that international students contributed nearly $22 billion to the United States economy in the school year 2011-2012.

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The European Union is pushing back the implementation of the global banking reforms, which were supposed to take place on January 1st. It has been delayed at least six months, with talks that it may get pushed back even further. Basel III is the name of the reform plan, and it is a global response to the financial crisis from 2007-2009. Basel III is a critical step to protect large institutions against future financial shocks. Until the European Union can agree on the plan, the delay holds a risk of throwing off the recovery process. However, if the regulations in Basel III are too harsh, it could risk cutting economic growth and an increase in unemployment.

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After an exhaustive Tuesday night of speculation and predictions, Barack Obama managed to hold his position as the President of the United States for another four years. Foreign support for the President rained in on Wednesday through countless newspaper headlines, and it became apparent that allied nations have a tall order for the reelected President. They expect him to start his term off with a strong foreign policy with hopes to quell the global debt crisis and help boost emerging markets.

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One of the major events affecting the world right now is the tropical cyclone in North America known as Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Sandy was the largest ever Atlantic hurricane by diameter and affected many parts of the Caribbean and Mid-Atlantic including the countries of Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and the United States. Early estimates vary significantly, but most suggest total economic damages attributable to the storm to be over $50 billion, which would make Sandy one of the most destructive hurricanes on record. As of the publication of this post, over 150 fatalities have been confirmed as a result of the storm. The majority of damage from the disaster occurred on the United States east coast, where Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey and New York City. The impact on the economy from this disaster can be enormous, as natural disasters have been proven to drop GDP and economic growth significantly. The impacts due to this devastation in the world’s largest economy will have a profound impact on international business.

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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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In an era where globalization perpetually extends the frontiers of international business, a company's ability to have their products reach markets in developing, or even remote, locations has become an increasingly important factor for success in global markets. Statistics support this claim, seeing as the share of gross domestic product as a percentage of the international market in 2012 has clearly shifted from developed countries to nations just emerging in the global economy. This trend has resulted from the growing middle classes of third-world economies having the ability to purchase goods for a higher quality of life, such as safe food, clean water, and secure pharmaceuticals. The astounding international demand for consumer goods has elevated the packaging industry to deliver these goods in frontier markets, while simultaneously trying to reduce their environmental impact during this time of expansion.

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One of the most public dramas that has played out in the downturn of the economy has been the manufacturing sector's struggles. Data released earlier this week shows reason for cautious optimism in the United States. For nearly the first time in four months, manufacturing grew within the United States. While the U.S. welcomes even the smallest improvement, other regions did not fare as well. Both China and the Eurozone continue to see the manufacturing sector of their economy contract.

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China is currently in an economic slowdown, the causes of which are a great debate in Asia’s largest economy. China, the world’s second largest economy behind the United States, expanded 7.6 % in the second quarter from a year earlier, the slowest pace since 2009. While a growth rate above 7% might seem thriving at first glance, you must first consider that China has had an average annual growth rate of nearly 15% since 2000. Many economists believe that their growth will slow further to a rate of around 7.0% for 2012. Is the economy of the most populous nation in the world in trouble?

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The global economy came to a stall earlier this summer with China slowing and the European debt crisis worsening, many investors and business owners were expecting the worst.  The Federal Reserve has already promised to keep short-term interest rates at zero until 2014 and flattened the yield curve through Operation Twist. If that can’t spark any economic growth, then what is there left to do?

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This week the World Economic Forum released the 2012-2013 edition of the Global Competitiveness Report. The report measures the business operating environment and competitiveness of over 140 countries worldwide. It also acts as a benchmarking tool for the public and private sectors by identifying the many advantages and obstacles economies face on their way to national growth. As the balance of economic activity shifts away from advanced economies toward emerging markets, many countries are trying to push their economies forward despite the increasingly complex global landscape. This year’s report shows interesting results as some countries were able to accomplish this feat more so than others.

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The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) constitute 20% of the world economy, and, according the IMF, will have a projected combined GDP of more than $14 trillion this year.  Growth and prosperity have been bestowed upon these now-influential powers for the past decade.  But clear signals are being given that these economic bastions are heading towards a muddy path, like most macro bull run investments do.

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As technology and communication capabilities increase, it may be safe to assume that the world is becoming more connected with many countries becoming integrated to the world economy. This basic idea is called globalization and with globalization comes many benefits such as new opportunities in emerging markets and increased access to international trade. To many people, globalization is making the world flat meaning businesses can collaborate and operate across borders without regard to geography or distance in today’s modern technological and political landscape. Many businesses are beginning to realize the opportunities abroad made possible by an increasingly connected world. However, is there a way to measure how connected the world really is?

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While cities and industries around the world have been displaying a great deal of resilience in tough economic times, small businesses also have the opportunity to accomplish this. Almost every day businesses overcome a variety of obstacles and setbacks in order to operate successfully. In fact, in a globalized world, small businesses may have greater access to foreign markets and the latest technology but that also means these businesses are connected to potential disruptions in the global economy. These small businesses also have the problem of facing increased competition from larger businesses. However, just as countries or industries can bounce back from economic hardships and natural setbacks, small businesses can do the same.

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In a year plagued by economic uncertainty, natural disasters also made their mark on global markets in 2011. Shattering the previous record of $262 billion worth of economic costs in 2005, disasters of 2011 in Japan, Thailand, China, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S. cost the economy $378 billion. The deluge in Thailand alone, which cost the country $40 billion, J.P. Morgan estimates set back global industrial production by 2.5%. Looking towards the future, risks are continuing to rise as the world’s population and economic output continue to migrate towards global centers located in vulnerable areas, such as Shanghai or Kolkata.

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While the recent global downturn has had a major impact on many national economies, the weakened economic setting has also negatively influenced many city centers throughout the world. It is important for these metropolitan areas to be resilient to changing economic times. One example of great economic resilience in tough times comes from the county of West Yorkshire, United Kingdom.

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Although the BRIC grouping of emerging economies does not include a single representative from the African continent, many economic experts and multinational corporations see enormous growth opportunities across the continent.  While most businesses are now aware of opportunities in countries such as Brazil, India, and China, corporations truly utilizing global expansion as a growth opportunity are looking beyond these popular markets.  More than 12 African nations have seen economic growth exceeding six percent for six consecutive years. 

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The economic growth outlook for developed countries has gotten much worse in the past few months. With the amount of globalization in the business world today, economic concerns abroad can have profound impacts at home. A lot of experts in the field are beginning to wonder: will these events lead to another global recession?

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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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As the world’s population continues to grow and the problem of poverty remains, it is clear that we must continue to develop the world economy. However, many believe that this economic growth should not come at the cost of the environment that supports our lives. Recently, the United Nations released a report that estimated the cost of changing the world from an unsustainable economy to one that is both resource efficient and environmentally friendly.

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There has been much hype recently about rising inflation rates around the globe. The euro zone had an inflation rate of 2.2% in 2010, while China's rose 5.1% from November 2009 to November 2010. Many people fear that a surge in inflation could have an adverse effect on the recovery efforts of many economies. But what exactly is inflation and how does it affect an economy?

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Over the past ten years, Brazil has emerged as a major global power capable of wide scale competition in the international marketplace. Being the world’s fifth-largest land mass and the eighth-largest economy, Brazil has become one of the top global producers of market necessities including vegetables, minerals, water, and energy. Brazil’s economic growth correlates with the relative decline of United States influence in Latin America and the rise of new economic powers in Asia. Now, Brazil is looking to exert its force as a global heavyweight with an ambitious foreign policy.

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Discussion about the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India, and China, has become widespread as global trade continues to see growth in the near future. Doug Barry, the Director of Marketing and Communication at the United States Commercial Service was able to emphasize this growth in his article Building with BRICS. These countries are on everyone's radar when looking for potential market growth and investment. They have proved their worth so far in the past couple years and there doesn't seem to be much slow down in the next decade. Now the only question is where to focus the most attention and what actions are being made to ensure we don't miss out on a great opportunity.

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Recently a study released by Ernst and Young, looks in detail to how leading global companies have dealt with the recession and are looking ahead. The report compiles conversations that over 500 of the firms senior partners had with clients around the world.