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Catalonia, the northeastern region of Spain, held a referendum for their independence on Sunday, October 1st. Unofficially recorded by the Catalonian government, 90 percent of the 2.3 million citizens who attended the polls voted for the region’s autonomy from Spain. While this result is not an official decision and will take extensive deliberation between the Catalan and Spanish governments for it to be formally enacted, there are many ramifications of how Catalonia’s independence would not only affect Catalonia and Spain’s economies but the entire economy of the European Union as well.

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After a tedious war that took a toll on its people, Chechnya remained under the control of Russia following its annexation. After a very close outcome on the 2012 referendum, Scotland remained a loyal entity of the Queen’s monarchy. While both attempts of secession were predictably unsuccessful, it seems Spain’s biggest problem isn’t going to be a gruesome war or rioting masses in the streets. If Cataluña is successful in efforts of secession from Spain, it’ll be out of the frying pan and into the fire for the Iberian democracy.

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According to figures released last Thursday, unemployment in Spain fell to its lowest level in four years. This figure could increase the chances for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to win the general election, as unemployment is currently a hot topic for discussion in the country. The rate fell from 22.4% in the previous quarter to 21.2%, bringing the number of people without work down to 4.85 million, which is the lowest it has been since mid-2011. At the peak of the economic crisis during this time, unemployment reached a record of nearly 27%.

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The thriftily lending of Spain’s commercial and investment banks to those who borrowed excessive capital from international markets to lend to developers at rates they could not repay caused the Spanish economy to tumble in 2011. Basel III, a voluntary framework on bank capital adequacy, stress testing, and market liquidity risk, seemed to be the regulatory answer by the financial services industry. It was adopted by all of Spain’s largest lenders and local governments. Their main mission: stabilize the credit markets enough for foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Spanish economy.

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Last week, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visited Beijing, China to help gain economic support for Spain. Rajoy met with the President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to help facilitate the signing of 14 contracts, totaling about 3 billion euros ($3.8 billion). A crowd of Spanish and Chinese businesspeople were in attendance as Rajoy encouraged China to invest in Spain after its recovery from the Eurozone crisis.

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Spain's economic depression has changed many aspects of the country, one of them arguably including the abdication of its king, but recent reports have shown that the demographics of Spain's workforce have experienced a dramatic shift. Due to the lack of economic opportunities for Spain's youth, the cost of living, and high unemployment rate, many Spaniards have left the country. Spain experienced it's first population decline since 1971 in 2012, with statistics now stating that over 310,000 citizens have left the country since the end of 2012. In spite of this, five million foreigners have entered the country's workforce, mostly from Russia, China, and other Asian countries in search of bargains for valuable factory properties, water sources, and natural resources.

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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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While the globalEDGE team is comprised of students and professionals with various academic backgrounds, one common theme amongst us is our passion for international business and to experience first-hand the effects of an increasingly globalized economic, political, and cultural world outside of the classroom. In my case, I have been given an incredible opportunity to work this summer with a non-governmental organization (NGO) called Poleas Global in Barcelona, Spain, which works to promote the coordination and multiplication of successful international relationships between the different sectors of the business world and projects aimed at social development. Alongside working in a dynamic international business-focused environment here in Barcelona, I will also be reading news articles from local sources, such as La Vanguardia and El País, to utilize different perspectives for analyzing global business news.

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Following six long years of recession, which reduced Greece's economy by a quarter of its size and rose unemployment to 28%, Greece is finally expected to stabilize and begin its economic comeback in 2014. A poll of 35 economists and strategists suggested an expected growth rate of 0.3% for the Greek economy, while analysts at the International Monetary Fund and European Union proposed a slightly more optimistic 0.6% rate.

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The country with over twenty-five percent of its population unemployed has finally climbed out of recession with third quarter growth up 0.1 percent. With an economy that is driven mainly by the tourism sector, automobile industry, and the energy industry, Spain has managed to slow down its rate of poverty and unemployment enough to stop the recession.  The bailed out banking sector is still far from cured and the giant amount of debt will still hold them back in the years to come, but the government has taken steps in the right direction in gaining control of these areas of the economy.

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While the unemployment rate of Spain and Greece roaring extremely high these days and economies in the European Union rest down in the trough, good news has finally arrived from the Office of National Statistics. Recent statistics showed that the United Kingdom's economy grew 0.3% during the first quarter of 2013, which relieves the fear of the British economy falling into a triple-dip recession. Is this a sign that United Kingdom is getting itself out of the European Financial Crisis?

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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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In a move that always stirs controversy and can enflame international relations President Evo Morales, of Bolivia, has moved to nationalize the energy sector by overtaking the largely Spanish owned company, Electropaz. President Morales has accused the Iberdrola, the company based in Spain that owns the majority of Electropaz, of charging artificially high prices to residents in rural areas of the country. Morales argues that under the constitution this move is permissible by acting in the public’s interest.

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In today’s interconnected and globalized world, receiving investments from abroad is a major factor contributing to economic growth for countries all across the world. Spain has recognized the importance of international business and foreign investment by implementing strategies to change the flow of investment. In the late 1990s, many Spanish companies began investing in Latin America and also started a vast amount of business operations there. Now, Spain is looking for investments to flow in the complete opposite direction.

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European stocks have been struggling as Spain does not seem close to requesting a bailout soon. Spain’s debt and interest carrying costs are increasing at a rate much faster than the GDP, and it seems as though this trend will not slow down. Greece is in the same situation. Greece has incurred a lot of debt and is struggling to pay it back. Due to this, the country is in the process of securing a bailout. Both countries’ unemployment rates have risen above twenty percent, and the Eurozone in general has a combined unemployment rate of 11.4%. Talks that France is going to be next have many people worried and these worries can only lead to more problems.

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Spain’s Labor Ministry recently reported that the number of people filing for unemployment benefits fell by 0.63% since May.  While this might seem like good news, it is not.  An estimated 30,113 people have simply stopped trying to find a job.  The country’s unemployment rate of 24.3% is the highest in Europe.  A new conservative government is trying to battle the rough economic times by employing a variety of labor market reforms.  Some of the legislature has included a reduction in severance pay and the banning of increases in salary to match inflation. Spain's new measures for reducing the unemployment rate and debt levels are highly unpopular with unions.

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U.S. billionaire investor Sheldon Adelson has plans to open a £17 billion hotel and casino resort in Spain. The resort, being called “EuroVegas", would contain 12 hotels, six casinos, a concert hall, several theaters, and golf courses. It would be about half the size of the Las Vegas Strip in the United States. If plans for the resort follow through, it would be a huge stimulus to the Spanish economy.

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Skiing in Barcelona probably sounds like an oxymoron to most people. With its warm climate and lack of snow, Barcelona is not normally on avid skiers’ top lists of destinations, but that all could soon change once an indoor skiing facility is built in Barcelona.

The concept of an indoor skiing facility may be foreign to some, but there are actually a lot of facilities like this that already exist. There are several in Europe – mostly in areas with cooler climates, some in Asia, and others scattered across the world. The indoor skiing facility in Dubai is the most relevant to Barcelona because it is also in a very warm climate. The facility has had to take extra care by making walls several feet deep and heavily insulated to keep the inside cold enough for ideal skiing conditions, exactly what the facility in Barcelona will need to emulate.

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As of recent, companies in Spain have been following a common trend of expanding overseas. The country’s ability to grow in foreign markets is on the rise as successful Spanish companies turn their focus to manufacturing and developing new products in emerging markets abroad. Over the last three years, Spain has maintained a 1.8 percent share of world trade despite the rise of China and the Far East. As Spain looks to retain its position as a strong exporting nation by expanding into new markets, the domestic workforce will face steady unemployment.

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

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The preferred way of travel for long distance travel among those in the business field has been by air. Flying takes less time and is more convenient than taking a four hour train trip to the desired destination. However, flying has its disadvantages as well - lost luggage, taking taxis to and from airports, etc.

In Spain however, taking the train from two main cities - Madrid and Barcelona has become very popular since the opening of Alta Velocidad Espanola high-speed service. This rail service provides the same luxuries as a plane - breakfast, newspaper, and comfort; however, it is a faster journey than flying. This improvement in high-speed rail has shifted most travel in Spain from air to rail. Even though Spain joined the high-speed rail industry later than other countries, it has become one of the top leaders in it - right after Japan and France. Furthermore, it has brought more tourists to Barcelona and Madrid which has been a boost to business there. Also, the success of this project has been noticed from other countries. For example, there is a proposition in Britain for a high-speed line between London and Glasgow. Moreover, in the U.S., there is a proposal to invest $8bn in high-speed rail.

In conclusion, high-speed rail in Spain has been a huge success, as it has enabled railways to take market share from airlines and has been promoting economic development. It also promotes competition in the travel industry and stimulates innovation in other countries as well. 

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

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

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Spain has the highest unemployment rate out of all developed European Countries. One region that is in desperate need for new investments and jobs is Aragon. Therefore, the parliament has decided to approve a law to allow the construction of a casino city in the countryside near Ontinena. The following video gives details about The Gran Scala project.