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The world has been gripping the edge of its seat watching the protests continuing in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has had a long and complex history with its relationship to China19th-century conflicts led to the colonization by Britain, removing the territory from Chinese control. Hong Kong was returned to China a century later, being allowed to control many of its own systems. The wildly different forms of government (Communist China as opposed to the limited democratic Hong Kong) have led to culturally and politically different regions. The 2019 protests have not been the first occasion where citizens of Hong Kong rallied against governmental decisions. In 2014, over 100,000 people protested Chinese intervention into their election process.

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South Korea has been under tremendous pressure as tensions increase due to China’s boycott of South Korean products, North Korea firing missiles, and the United States insisting that South Korea increase its defense. Recently, North Korea has been testing ballistic missiles and firing them near Japan and South Korea, and this has many countries concerned with their defense systems. The U.S. argued that Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), “an American missile defense system designed to shoot down short and intermediate range missiles in the terminal phase”, was needed in South Korea to protect the country from the North. Therefore, Seoul's government agreed to increase its defense system and install THAAD on its soil.

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On Monday, January 30th, Morocco was readmitted as a member state of the African Union (AU) following a summit at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Morocco had previously withdrew from the AU’s predecessor, the Organization for African Unity, in 1984 in protest of the organization's decision to allow the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) membership. Morocco and the SADR, which is not officially recognized by the UN, have been in conflict over the Western Sahara region since 1975 when Spain withdrew its colonial power. Morocco’s readmittance will likely have significant geopolitical ramifications in the coming years. However, placing the politics to the side, Morocco joining the AU will also have significant economic effects.

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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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Girl power” was made popular by the pop group Spice Girls in the mid-to-late 1990s. The phrase is typically used as a reference to female empowerment and independence, and has also been linked to modern-day feminism. The “girl power” phrase came in vogue in 1987 in a song by London-based all-girl group Mint Juleps and their “Girl to the Power of 6.” The pop-punk due Shampoo also had a single titled Girl Power in 1995. But, Spice Girls, without a doubt, set the phrase on fire in the mid-to-late 1990s.

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The Olympic Games are the biggest collection of sporting competitions in the world. Occurring every two years, a multitude of countries compete for medals in a variety of sporting competitions ranging from track and field to basketball. This year, Brazil will be hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics which has raised a lot of debate considering Brazil’s current economic, health, and political situations.

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The Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) countries have come together to reach an agreement regarding implementing the VAT (Value Added Tax) system by the end of 2018. This agreement may come as a surprise to many people, since the GCC region was known for its tax-free perks and massive income from oil. However, the circumstances now prove to be otherwise. The plunge of oil prices since last year has immensely reduced government revenues, making it a necessity for the GCC countries to find new sources of revenue and diversify their portfolio.

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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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Currently, the United Kingdom is going through its highest level of political elections, the race for prime minister. The frontrunners are the sitting PM David Cameron and the Labour Party’s Ed Miliband. Cameron, who’s long been known to favor the rock bottom interest rates that the country is currently experiencing, is the only PM in the country's history since the 1950s to hold office without even the slightest fluctuation of the interest rates. However, the anticipation of a changing political horizon brings immense speculation in both domestic and international markets.

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With changing political office, comes changing economic policy. At least, that is what millions of Nigerians are hoping for from newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari. The Nigerian capital market responded positively to the change in leadership, gaining 8.30%, its single biggest daily gain all year. High optimism for the new leader to follow through on his promise to reshape the national economy is sorely needed at this point.

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

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The Nile River is a major influence on the economies it encompasses, and in the past it has been controversial how the energy, space, and water is allocated amongst the countries it passes through. Ethiopia is constructing a massive dam costing billions of dollars on the Blue Nile, which will distort the previous allocation of water agreed by the countries surrounding the river. Most of the disagreement in the initial stages of project development stemmed from this allocation dispute, but the presidents of Egypt and Sudan, as well as the Ethiopian Prime Minister, all recently signed a contract pledging to better share the water and resources of the Nile. On Monday, Egypt agreed to a preliminary deal with Ethiopia on the construction of the dam.

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

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In recent developments of the ongoing deterioration of relations between the United States and Venezuela, the U.S. government sanctioned multiple Venezuela government officials for alleged human rights violations, demanded the release of political prisoners, and warned against blaming American policies for the country's continued economic and political problems. While this exchange or harsh rhetoric and sanctions is nothing new for the U.S. and countries that differ greatly from its foreign policy goals, what makes this episode especially noteworthy is that it could entail significant consequences for American prospects for doing business within the Latin American region, and especially within Cuba.

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There is no question that Nigeria will face many challenges in early 2015, which could individually or collectively have serious economic implications for the nation and the region. The constant threat of violence from the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, upcoming political elections, and the decline in oil prices all threaten the political and economic stability in Nigeria. The question is will Nigeria be able to weather the economic onslaught that these events could produce.

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The Jasmine Revolution of Tunisia was the first in a series of democratic uprisings that extended to a number of North African and Middle Eastern countries, in what became known collectively as the Arab Spring. Earlier this month, Tunisia’s new unicameral parliament held its inaugural session at the nation’s capital. Although the landmark transition towards a new republic has been fraught, a novel, egalitarian constitution was adopted, while a majority of the other participating nations deteriorated into extremism.

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Southeast Asia has been lauded for its robust connectivity and commerce within sectors ranging from manufacturing to tourism to technology for the past few decades. And, in light of recent events, Burma (also known as Myanmar) seems to be following the same trend. Last month, more than 22 companies announced they will move manufacturing facilities into Burma’s Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The initiative is one of the first steps President Thein Sein took to reintegrate Burma in the global economy. When fully-functioning, Thilawa will be able to employ 70,000 workers and manufacture goods, consumer products, and construction materials for the domestic market, while also supporting export-oriented goods such as apparel, textiles, and automotive parts.

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With multi-nationals operating across the world, it is relatively easy for these companies to shift activities to countries where the tax rates are significantly lower or nonexistent. In recent years, this has caused significant political and public reactions. Citizens and politicians are looking to ensure that companies pay their fair share of tax. Leaders of the world's largest economies are scheduled to meet to determine whether the ratification of new global tax rules can solve widespread tax evasion problems. However, improving the tax system may prove to be a rather difficult task with large implications for the global business community.

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It's no secret that the Eurozone is an economically struggling region of the world, and although it has been recovering from the blow caused by its economic crisis, it has been doing so very feebly. Now, the recovery has suddenly stopped; in the second quarter of the year, the Eurozone was recorded as growing 0%. While economists say that the overall Eurozone economy should not sink into a recession yet again, it does not seem like the recovery will pick up its pace anytime soon. The future of its countries economies all depends on what actions the European Central Bank takes.

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Within the last weeks, few news headlines have been as heart-wrenching as the loss of 298 lives on the Malaysian Airlines commercial flight that has been suspected of being destroyed by a missile fired by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Stemming from the Russian government's support of this group, many countries, including the United States and members of the European Union, have proposed increasing sanctions on Vladimir Putin's government. These sanctions would include banning people in the U.S. from banking with three Russian banks, as well as sanctions targeting the oil sector, defense equipment, and sensitive technologies.

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Recognizing Albania’s recent governmental reforms, the European Union officially named Albania a candidate for membership, the first step for the country to join the EU. The move came after Britain and France agreed to drop their opposition to Albania’s candidacy, citing new leadership in Albania that has promised to reform the country. Led by Prime Minister Edi Rama, the government has begun to fight against corruption and crime which has ravaged the country for many years. Police forces have started efforts to retake control in areas dominated by drug cartels, and the government has pushed for reform in the country’s economic structure.

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This past week here in Spain, news outlets were dominated by the announcement of the abdication of King Juan Carlos, who has ruled the country since 1975. While the king's rule has been generally supported by the Spanish public, due to his implementation of a democratic system following the oppression of the fascist Franco regime, Spain's support of the king has dwindled rapidly in pace with the country's economic deterioration over the past 6 years. Although the king proclaimed that the succession of the throne by his son Felipe would bring new energy towards facing Spain's economic issues, new political parties, including "Podemos" that won 1.2 million votes in Sunday's elections, believe that the economic and political system created by Juan Carlos' government needs significant changes to meet the economic needs of the Spanish people.

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This past weekend, European Union nations experienced eventful elections for the Europe Parliament that will cause a stir on future economic reforms. This election term saw a very aggressive battle between two opposing forces – pro-European Union parties supporting strong central powers, and anti-European Union parties (also known as Eurosceptics), who are nationalists that want to decrease central powers of the union. The elections were forecasted to see anti-European forces make major gains and double their seats in parliament as a result of increasing unrest caused by unfavorable union wide measures.

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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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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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India has a caste system which is a social structure that separates people according to different socio-economic conditions.  In recent years the system has been relaxed and it is easier to move from caste-to-caste, but it is still significant to the Indian culture. Having a caste system can increase the amount of poverty and economic activity, leading to a decrease of international trade. In May, India’s general election will take place and the front-runner to be the next prime minister is Narendra Modi. Modi was a former tea seller, which is not considered an elite occupation and is quite different from the former occupations of leaders from the ruling Congress party.

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With the lighting of the ceremonial torch in Sochi, Russia last Friday night, the 22nd Winter Olympic Games have officially begun. Beyond capturing the world's attention throughout the month of February, these Olympic Games, like other major sporting events, have profound economic and political effects that resonate throughout the entire international system. Therefore, as the world's eyes turn towards the showcase of some of the world's finest athleticism taking place in Sochi, this post will explore some of the less eye-catching, yet equally significant, aspects of events like the Sochi Olympics and their unique place within international markets and politics.

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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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As the Eurozone Crisis has progressed and European Union countries have continued to struggle to devalue their currencies, with the goal of making exports less expensive for importing markets, many countries are now adopting "Americanized" labor policies of dismantling workplace protections to reduce labor costs. In Portugal, the 1.9 million workers that were protected by collective bargaining agreements have now diminished to merely 300,000, while Spain has agreed to ease restrictions on collective layoffs and unfair dismissal. The motive for these actions, as encouraged by the German government, European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund, is to restore competitiveness, increase employment, and recover solvency.