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After a long day of rushing from work to the gym to taking their child to soccer practice, many individuals come home too exhausted to think about cooking which has created the epidemic of fast and prepackaged foods. This uptake in the use of single-use packaging has aided in creating our culture of convenience and waste. The UK alone produces about 170m tons of waste annually, and it can take some materials up to 450 years to break down and others are not biodegradable at all.

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

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The Downside of Brexit for Ireland 

Looking across the pond to Ireland, Americans unfamiliar with the still evolving consequences of Brexit might be inclined to see it as a net positive for the Emerald Isle. After all, it didn't Brexit, but neighbors to the north most certainly did. 

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2017 is quickly coming to an end with many major holidays approaching in the blink of an eye. People are beginning to search for the perfect gift for their significant other and grandmothers. Black Friday, and more recently Cyber Monday has played a large part in the purchasing of holiday gifts. Black Friday originated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the 1950s and expanded across the globe in the last ten years.

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Globalization created a platform for the world’s people, firms, and governments to become more integrated. It enhances the networks between countries and creates more opportunities. When globalization first began, the anticipated economic theory suggested that regional inequalities would diminish as poorer countries would attract investment more than the rich countries. However, we see inequalities between many countries and within many countries.

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In 2015, Netflix streamed 42.5 billion hours of programming an incredible rise from the "mere" 29 billion hours in 2014 with the numbers predicted to continue growing. This averages out to about 568 hours a person in 2015 or watching the 288 episode series of Criminal Minds two and a half times through. Currently, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are the three companies who hold the most stock in streaming however by 2019 Apple and Disney are predicted to get into the running as well. Since streaming has become a daily occurrence for many people, multiple companies are investing more money into the service. Recently, many of the streaming platforms have begun to produce their own shows in hopes of raising their income. Netflix predicts they will spend about $8 billion on filming and producing original content in 2018 and Apple estimating about $1 billion to be spent on their own shows. Additionally, there are fewer restrictions on the content they can display which is a large draw for many since the censorship guidelines, for live television, have been ridiculed as being “too strict” in the past.

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This is part three of a five-part blog series on the evolution of the textile industry over time.

The Industrial Revolution started in England in the 1700’s.  At this time, England was a colonial power, and used its colonies in the Americas and Asia to provide resources such as silk, tobacco, sugar, gold, and cotton, and provided its colonies with finished products such as textiles and metalware. As the population in Britain and its colonies increased, Britain had to find new ways to keep up with the demand for its products. The value for trade motivated Britain to produce more ships and goods, and Britain’s ports, population, and supply of water and coal made it the perfect place to industrialize.  At this time, Britain largely controlled international trade, and most global trade was conducted within Europe, but by the late 1790s 57 percent of British exports went to North America and the West Indies, and 32 percent of British imports were provided by these regions.

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Driverless, or autonomous, cars have been in the news a lot this past year.  Essentially it is a car that can drive itself with no help needed from a human driver.  There are many people who believe this is the next big development in the automotive industry.  We are still several years off from driverless cars being fully implemented on the road. According to a plan laid out in the U.K. last year driverless cars are to be implemented fully and on the road by 2025

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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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Just last month, the United Kingdom Parliament triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, officially commencing the necessary processes for leaving the European Union. The entire operation is expected to take two years, and the U.K. hopes to set up the structure for a positive international investment climate during that time. As part of this pursuit, Prime Minister Theresa May began a multiple-day visit to Saudi Arabia on April 4 to discuss trade deals between the two nations. Saudi Arabia and the U.K. have been prolific trading partners for years; the talks were intended not only to maintain this relationship, but also to discuss future developments in defense, security, and economic reform. May's visit has been criticized by various international leaders, who have cited Saudi Arabia's record on women's rights as well as the country's involvement in the current Yemen conflict. Worries abound both outside and within the U.K. government that the nation may be overlooking human rights concerns in favor of favorable trade deals.

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Inflation plays a major role in every economy in the world and measuring it is a very difficult issue for government statisticians. A variety of indices to measure inflation exist and each country picks the indices that are deemed relevant and measure it according to their own economy. Therefore, even if two countries use the same index, the basket of goods used to measure the index will include different items that are constantly revised and updated.

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On March 29th, Britain is expected to formally trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which will open a two-year time window to negotiate the exact terms of the British exit from the European trade bloc. With all of the uncertainty surrounding what will become of the current free trade system between the United Kingdom and the rest of the European Union (EU), companies are taking a strong proactive approach to mitigate potential risk rather than waiting until 2019 to know the exact ramifications a post-Brexit trade deal will have on this business.

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The United Kingdom recently announced that they could be leaping into space by 2020. Up until now, the UK has been dependent on countries such as the United States, India and Japan to help launch their satellites. However, the British have just announced a proposal, the Spaceflight Bill, which contains information on the establishment and operation of spaceports across the United Kingdom. This proposal is estimated to be worth over 30 billion dollars in the next 20 years, which will open up ample opportunities for British scientists to explore the possibilities of antibiotic and vaccine creation in a zero-gravity environment.  

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The European Commission recently adjusted their forecast for the economic growth of the United Kingdom for 2017. Although the U.K. is expected to slow its economic growth relative to the previous year, the Commission now anticipates an annual growth of 1.5% in 2017; up from their previous prediction of 1.0%. The European Commission still expects an annual growth of 1.2% by 2018, which would still remain far below their 2% growth in 2016. This decrease in economic growth could be a response to both rising prices and the uncertainty of Britain’s future ties with the European Union.

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The Danish firm Novo Nordisk confirmed on Monday, January 30th its investment of 144.5 million dollars to employ about 100 academics and scientists to perform research and treatments for type 2 diabetes. This investment has helped raise the economic standard of the UK which has been on a decline since the announcement of the Brexit. The research will occur in Oxford, but any new treatments are likely to be developed and produced in Denmark. This will help both countries economically, and boost confidence for further investments. 

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For the past five years the European Union and Canada have been negotiating the terms of a comprehensive free trade agreement. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, would effectively eliminate 98% of tariffs between Canada and the EU, leading some experts to predict an increase in trade of over 20%. CETA was in its final form, with a signing ceremony scheduled for this Thursday, October 26th, but the deal was blocked at the last minute by Wallonia, the French speaking region of Belgium.

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Consumer prices surged this September in the United Kingdom, rising at the fastest annual pace in two years. A seasonal rise in clothing prices, increasing hotel stay prices, and a spike in gas prices are all contributing factors to this inflation. According to the Office for National Statistics, the Consumer Price Index has risen by 1.0% as of September in 2016, the highest increase since November 2014.

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After the Brexit, the pound fell immensely, by 8.4% in one day, to its lowest since 1985, which was the biggest one day fall on record.  Since the morning of the referendum result, the pound has deprecated by around 11% against the dollar without any large fluctuations in the last two months. The depreciation of the pound could be seen as a double-edged sword. It caused a significant boost in exports in several industries in the United Kingdom due to British prices becoming relatively lower for the world, but prices of imported goods, such as raw materials, have and will continue to rise.

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

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On June 23rd, the United Kingdom made a monumental decision to exit the European Union. However, the magnitude of impact which the Brexit will have on the British economy remains uncertain. Following the vote, significant increases were predicted in the UK’s economic welfare and consumer confidence, although future statistics may indicate otherwise. After a week of collecting official data, the numbers forecast that consumers are spending more, the value of the pound has weakened, and tourism has increased in the UK. Simultaneously, interest rates have taken a historical cut, while inflation has begun to rise.

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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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Even after Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, Europe still stands strong and connected in many ways. The European Union is a treaty with 28 country participants, developed to bind its members with specific laws and an internal market. The Union was originally created after the Second World War to unify Germany and France, but now it serves its main purpose to allow the free movement of people, capital, goods and services between its members.

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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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The European Union is a political and economic union consisting of 28 European countries. Originally created in 1958 under the name European Economic Community (EEC), the group of countries strictly began as an economic union. However, over time, the EEC started expanding its work into political matters across Europe and, in 1993, the European Economic Community developed into the European Union. Great Britain, one of the countries in the European Union, is now debating on withdrawing its membership, known as a Brexit, and parting ways with the other European Union countries.

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On June 23rd of this year, the United Kingdom will vote in referendum on their future with the European Union. Their potential exit, which has been dubbed “The Brexit”, would undoubtedly have major ramifications on the European economy, and the global economy as a whole. One of the ramifications of a Brexit on the rest of Europe that could possibly be overlooked or underestimated, is the effect on employment throughout the entire EU.

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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 United Kingdom is slated to have a referendum by the end of 2017 on whether it is to remain a member of the European Union or leave, however negotiations are underway by the Conservative government to see if a new agreement can be reached. The United Kingdom can risk facing major repercussions both domestically and internationally if they were to leave. Internally, it can raise the risk of political instability both within the Conservative party and the viability of the political union between England and Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and externally, the concern lies in the future relationship between the U.K. and the European Union as well as potential future trading agreements.

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Earlier this month, United Kingdom Chancellor George Osbourne declared that there would be a new legal living wage of £7.20 per hour. Employers are required to pay this amount starting in April of 2016 to employees aged 25 or older, and this rate is expected to rise to £9 per hour by 2020. The existing minimum wage for those over 21 is £6.50 an hour. Although the U.K. government predicts that around 2.7 million low wage workers could benefit from the change, many organizations and citizens throughout the country are fiercely opposing the soon-to-be implemented measure.

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Despite low unemployment, the United Kingdom is currently faced with extremely low levels of productivity. As a country, the U.K. produces 30% less per hour than its counterparts in France and Germany while working on average more hours. The problem is deep-seeded and dates back to almost 1991. And although productivity was not high on the agenda during election season, Chancellor George Osbourne has stated that addressing the root causes is now a priority for Parliament.

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Following a shockingly strong win for the Conservative Party in the recent United Kingdom elections, re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron promised an "in-out referendum" on the future of the U.K.'s membership within the European Union before the end of 2017. The referendum has its roots in the understandably unpopular red tape and bureaucracy that affects British business prospects within the E.U., especially with regard to the trade bloc's employment laws and health and safety issues. In spite of this, Cameron's announcement was met by fairly strong opposition within a study surveying a grouping of Britain's most influential business leaders.

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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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In February, the inflation rate in the United Kingdom fell to 0%. This is the lowest rate since records of inflation were first taken in 1960. Official figures demonstrate that lower prices of transportation, food, and computer goods helped to cut the rate back from January’s inflation rate of 0.3%. Although these figures are good indicators in some ways, they can also impact the interest rates set by the Monetary Policy Committee, which is considering raising the rates from their record low of 0.5%.

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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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Found under the social responsibility section of globalEDGE’s Global Resource Directory, the Corporate Giving by the FTSE 100 report offers in-depth information on charitable contributions made by the United Kingdom’s largest companies. The report is provided by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and contains data related to corporate philanthropy, as well as emphasizes the importance of transparent social responsibility. This resource also aims to bridge the gap between what United Kingdom businesses are actually doing in terms of corporate giving and the public’s perception of these corporations’ charitable actions.

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The slogan, “Time is Money, Efficiency is Life”, has driven China to become the world’s largest manufacturing power over the last decade. But the era of cheap China seems to be drawing to an end now. A similar issue is happening in another part of the world. Australia, the old auto-manufacturing giant, is seeing an increasing number of auto-production lines drawing out of the country and moving to lower-cost destinations around the world. The global manufacturing industry is currently undergoing dramatic changes.

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Due to a stagnant "eurozone" economy between April and June, the United Kingdom is bracing itself for a period of economic decline, as well as contemplating the steps necessary for avoiding another lengthy recession. The slight decline of the reliable German economy, which has diminished by 0.2% in GDP growth this year, has signaled that harder times are most likely in the eurozone's future and have already affected the U.K.'s manufacturing industry and exports to mainland Europe. Five of the UK's top six major export partners reside within the eurozone (Germany, the Netherlands, France, Ireland, and Belgium), and this has prompted the nation's economists and political leaders to call for new economic policies to protect Great Britain's market interests.

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Scotland has voted “no” to independence from the United Kingdom. The voting finished with a final count of 55.3% to 44.7% in favor of remaining a part of the United Kingdom and continuing the 307-year-old union. David Cameron, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, is now a little more comfortable in his position after helping lead the charge to keep the union together. He claims that the Scottish Referendum has settled the independence debate for a generation.

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

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This past week in Luxembourg, the European Court of Justice struck down legal opposition by the British government in order to move forward in creating a new tax law in the European Union. Commonly known as the "Tobin Tax," named after American economist James Tobin who first proposed the idea in the 1980s, the law would tax the financial sector of the EU in order to cover some of the costs placed on taxpayers in the outcome of the recent financial and debt crises. The European Commission first announced the proposition of the new law in 2011, during which it stated that the financial tax law would require institutions in participating member states to pay a tax of at least a tenth of 1 percent of the value of transactions with other institutions. Since then, debate among EU member states regarding the effectiveness and possible consequences of implementing the tax has ensued.

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This September, the ballot to vote on Scottish Independence will be held. Scotland’s North Sea possesses a great amount of oil revenue for the United Kingdom, which poses a threat to the United Kingdom if Scotland were to become independent.  What does this mean economically and politically for the country of Scotland, the United Kingdom, and the European Union? A lot of uncertainty. The rarity of the creation of a new state in Western Europe poses a lot of questions that economists do not know the answer to.

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As the world becomes increasingly globalized, workers from around the world are experiencing increased opportunities to work abroad. This is exactly what is occurring in Canada. As the province of Alberta continues to boom economically, Canadian companies are in need of a labor supply. With too few Canadians to fill the extra jobs needed, Canadian firms have begun recruiting internationally. The international recruiting strategy has been very successful as Canadian companies were able to find an abundant supply of workers from the United Kingdom and Ireland. This development in Canada is a testament to the many benefits of international business.

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Standard Chartered, a British bank with more than 1,700 branches in over 70 countries, has officially opened its first branch in Iraq.  This branch will be located in Baghdad.  The British bank plans to open another branch this year in Erbil, Iraq and another next year in Basra, Iraq.  These Iraq-based branches are being established to meet the needs of Standard Chartered’s global clients working in the oil, telecommunication, and infrastructure industries.  Standard Charter also intends for these branches and their personnel to aid the Iraqi Government, its ministries, and the Iraqi Central Bank in an advisory role.

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While the European economic crisis appears to be gradually resolving, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is insistent that the improvement being observed is not actual. Although the deficits of struggling economies such as Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Spain are contracting, this is due to a collapse in imports as a result of the recession, not an increase of trade exports. The IMF has also taken note of lowering labor costs, but attributes the decreases to mass unemployment rather than pay cuts for workers. Consequently, even though economic indicators are showing signs of improvement, these events could be causing an even larger cyclical downtown for Europe. Since European banks have allowed large amounts of loans to be taken out, they too are unable to invest in businesses which might support infrastructural growth. As a result of this, the United Kingdom in particular is seeking help from international business partners to mitigate the issue.

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In a recent series of blog posts in the Economist, the Schumpeter columnist compared start-ups in two European cities: London and Berlin. Both are major cities in Europe that are popular to tourists, but are less well known for being leading cities for start-ups. Comparing the two, Berlin has only recently seen an increase in digital start-ups. In contrast, London has seen a large increase in tech start-ups during the internet boom in the late 1990’s. Increases in technology and international business could result in more cities beginning to experience tech start-ups.

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The United Kingdom’s membership in the European Union could be coming to a crossroads within the next few years, as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg admitted Tuesday he no longer is fighting to keep the referendum off the ballot. Clegg is a fierce opponent of leaving the EU, relating it to “economic suicide,” but said on Tuesday that he now plans on showing the importance and benefits membership brings to the British economy, in hopes that he can convince voters to stay in.

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

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Starting a business is not an easy task. It’s one that takes hard work, dedication, and an entrepreneurial spirit that is willing to take on challenges. Despite the many challenges faced by entrepreneurs, starting a business has become easier in certain parts of the world as policymakers begin to recognize the importance of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial activities are extremely crucial for the economic well-being of almost every country. As the driving force of innovation and job creation, entrepreneurship has taken on a new level of significance in the global economy. However, certain countries lag behind others in terms of entrepreneurial activities. Differences in culture and business climate are the major factors affecting the level of entrepreneurship within a country.

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

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With an increasingly interconnected world and growing international marketplace, many companies are searching for opportunities at a global level. Businesses are looking to expand overseas for many reasons—stagnant economies at home, desired growth in their customer base, or even the pursuit for higher profit margins. Whatever the case may be, these businesses are becoming very important for the global economy. Surprisingly enough, not all of these businesses are large multinational firms. In fact, there is a recent trend where small businesses are beginning to follow larger companies in expanding their business operations into foreign markets.

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The last few blogs here on globalEDGE have not been too optimistic and may make one think that the world may indeed end in December (as the Mayans allegedly predict). This blog will not be much more optimistic. However, instead of just talking about recessions, this will explore some of repercussions or causes that are being observed right now. Specifically, this will explore the potential permanent change in the financial services industry.

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Just about two weeks ago it was reported that Hewlett-Packard had to write down somewhere in the neighborhood of $8.8 billion, stemming from an acquisition of a United Kingdom based software company, Autonomy. Accounting improprieties within the acquired company seem to be at the heart of the issue and HP claims the fraudulent numbers account for over 5 billion of the write down. Two of the “Big Four” accounting firms were brought in to perform due diligence for the deal but the inconsistencies still managed to slip through. This is an extremely public example that calls into question the different accounting standards practiced in different countries and how those should be reconciled.

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The 2012 Summer Olympics will undoubtedly have a major impact on the British Economy. Prime Minister David Cameron has already stated that the Olympic Games will give Britain a 13 billion pound economic boost. With the 2012 Olympics in London shaping up to be the most expensive games in history, much is expected from the Olympics in terms of economic growth for the United Kingdom. However with all this talk about its impact on Britain, the Summer Olympics may have an even greater impact on the global business world.

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Despite stories of economic struggles scattered around Europe, there is some bright news from the United Kingdom. According to financial data, the United Kingdom maintained its 16-month recovery in the construction sector. Strong orders for new building projects and a rise in employment in April have helped sustain construction recovery as well as economic growth. The main demand for this boost of construction output has come from commercial building and civil engineering during the spring months and is expected to be carried forward into the summer. Another major cause of this growth is probably not a surprise to anyone—the 2012 Summer Olympics.

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As discussed in yesterday’s introduction post, different cultures have very unique ways of doing business; from business dress, to conducting meetings, to even the customs surrounding deal-making. Each nation takes a unique approach to how many holidays they observe; this is a reflection of their distinctive culture and can affect their economy and business environment. In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing work environment, each day off means less output which in turn reflects potentially lost money. Days off are important for worker’s mental and physical health, but there needs to be a balance between productivity and a conducive work environment. The amount of bank holidays that a nation celebrates could be impacting the economy more than you think.

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As economic globalization continues to make foreign markets more accessible, opportunities for small businesses to export abroad remain on the rise. In response to the ongoing global recession, the United States federal government has recognized the importance of small business owners, and the crucial aspect they play in a successful economy. Stemming from the government’s National Export Initiative, many small businesses have stepped out of American markets and found success through exporting abroad, such as the Patton Electronics Company.

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With growing food and energy prices worldwide, it may be surprising to hear that some consumers are willing to pay more for certain food products. This is the case in the United Kingdom where sales of fairly traded products have beaten the trend of decline in the retail market and have grown by 12 percent this past year. Fairtrade products have higher prices than normal food products but in return consumers feel socially responsible as Fairtrade goods are marked with higher environmental standards. Perhaps more importantly, these fairly traded food products ensure that producers in developing countries are paid properly for their hard work while also promoting better trading conditions between global businesses.

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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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The Olympic games are designed to be the final decider of the best athletes across the globe. Although hosting countries respect the competition, their main goal is completely different – provide as much stimulus as possible to their economy. London is in the midst of a massive advertising and building spree in preparation for the 2012 Olympics. In the process, Prime Minister David Cameron is busy promoting the tourism opportunities available in London and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) is working to prepare local businesses for the expected influx of economic activity.

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Food prices have certainly become a hot topic recently, and so has food quality. With oil spills, nuclear waste scares, and natural disasters constantly threatening the quality of the world’s food supply, businesses have to be more careful with what food they sell. Still the exporting of food seems to continue to increase. Fish exports in particular have seen a huge increase in global demand.

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London has always been well-known internationally for its historical and cultural importance. In recent years the city has also developed into a significant force in the technological sector. Innovative businesses were completely absent from London’s economy back in the year 2000, but the roughly 100 new high-tech businesses in east London have received international attention for their significant contributions to global business. While far from reaching the level of California’s Silicon Valley, the so-called “Silicon Roundabout” is joining cities such as Boston and Tel Aviv in the second-tier of global innovative centers.

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

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I have been following the currency markets quite heavily in the past few weeks trying to gage the effects of the much discussed QE2 that the U.S. Federal Reserve implemented. Personally, I was expecting that to lead to more inflation in the U.S. dollar and depreciate its value relative to other currencies, including the Euro. Imagine my surprise when I found that I was correct in inflation being expected by the market (due to high treasury yields) but that the Euro was actually the one depreciating versus the dollar! How could this be?

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

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Following the recent financial crisis, many people are blaming the large banks almost solely for the collapse. Many feel that the banks must split their commercial banking divisions from their investment banking ones. People think that the banks should not be allowed to use the money they hold for customers in speculative investments for the bank's potential profit. Do these concerns sound familiar?

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In a challenging economic environment, young professionals and recent graduates across the globe are forced to think of new ways to enter the workforce.

In the United States, some are taking an entrepreneurial approach. These entrepreneurs recognize that what they are doing on the side can create revenue – running a website out of their home or offering social media marketing consultation – and can be performed anywhere in the world with anyone, at any time. They toss the security of a paycheck and good benefits at a place that is now considered a boring place to work.

In the United Kingdom, graduates are trying to fill their resumes. They are encouraged to find a market shortage and then gain the skills to fill the gap.

In China, the story is different. The economic future looks (arguably) optimistic – China boasts more than 10% growth on average. The problem is that China is providing more than 6 million college graduates a year and the economy is not producing the number of jobs demanded by the graduates. The video below is a great 6 minute documentary on the issue, especially for international students traveling to China to broaden their interests and expand their resume.

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We all need vegetables in our diets, but many people also base their entire business off of these healthy foods. Research from the University of Massachusetts shows that the United States vegetable industry is beginning to be heavily influenced by other regions. This is good news for farmers all over the world. Supermarkets and restaurants are looking to expand their markets by offering more exotic options. Areas like Africa, Asia and Latin America produce several exotic vegetables that the United States has started to take interest in. This could help smaller countries who are heavily dependant on agriculture and are looking to increase their exports.

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Did you ever wonder what happens to airplanes when they “turn in their wings?” Well, when airlines can’t fill seats or sell their old, inefficient jets, they send them to an airplane scrap yard.  Kemble Airfield, located in Cotswold, Britain, is now the hot spot for the dismantling, crushing, and recycling of aircrafts that are out of a job.

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

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

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

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As jobs are scarce worldwide, women in some countries are finding it harder than ever to find a job. There are still many places where women are not allowed to work, and in almost the entire world women are faced with less opportunities to get ahead than men. This is not only unfair, but a business mistake. Especially now, when the world is faced with a financial crisis, both men and women should be given equal opportunities. Also, including women in the workforce allows for more innovation in the economy as there is a larger diversity of ideas.

Watch this video to hear the story of women trying to make it in the world of construction. It is important to give both men and women the chance to prove themselves capable of doing any kind of work because the world of business needs some renovation.

 

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I am a huge fan of pretty much everything that Monocle publishes. They are always on the cutting edge, whether the topic is public affairs, business, or even culture and design. Recently they partnered with UK Trade & Investment to produce a series of videos on the business climate in different sectors and countries around the world. So far the topics have been: Doha, Boston, UK Creative Sector, UK Motorsport, London, São Paulo, Guangzhou, and Sofia. 

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The United Kingdom recently unveiled a new plan to revamp its inter-city rail system, awarding Hitachi a contract to develop new, more efficient and lightweight trains, called the "Super-Express". The 7.5 billion-pound upgrade comes in the midst of the worst global recession in decades, but transport secretary Geoff Hoon is confident that investing now will pay off, both in the short term job creation and the long term infrastructure boost.

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The world is still in a financial crisis and it is highly unlikely that it will be over soon. Many nations still blame the problem on CEOs in the United States. After the government bailed many banks out, people ask what is happening to that money. Is it really put into good use or do banks keep on lending more? Everyone knows that the problem is that consumers and businesses are facing huge debts, but it doesn’t seem that CEOs are taking any responsibility.

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Football, or soccer as the Americans call it, especially in England is the second most important thing after family in life; it is like a religion. Europeans follow it closely because it is part of their lifestyle. But what happens when t-shirt sponsors go bankrupt? When team sponsors suffer huge financial setbacks because they hold stakes in Icelandic banks?

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Although the current state of affairs seems predisposed in dealing with the global banking and equities crisis, another crisis has the potential to dominate our lives much more in the long-term - energy. The supply of fossil fuels will not last forever, and so the race for finding viable replacements to gas, oil, and coal before these become unaffordable to the average person is on.

The heart of business has been and always will be innovation. Therefore, it’s not hard to believe that numerous business schools have begun taking the lead in planning for a post-oil world. According to an article on CNN, this is going to become an increasing trend.  Institutions such as Judge Business School at Cambridge University are committed to the movement away from dependence on fossil fuels. Judge recently held a three-day pioneering conference called Entrepreneurship for a Zero Carbon Society, which brought together the best minds in ecological entrepreneurship to share both ideas as well as business cards.

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The Beijing Olympics are over and the Olympic flag has been handed over to the new host for the games. Having done it twice before (in 1908 and 1948), it is London’s turn once again to host the 2012 Olympics. However unlike the last two times, London’s mayor has recently appointed an IBAC (International Business Advisory Council) to advise him on issues related to the globalization challenges and policies to help make the British economy more competitive in the world. The Games are clearly of enormous importance to London and London's business. The main role of the council will thus be to advise the Mayor on developing opportunities, initiatives and ideas that make London a more appealing place for companies and their employees to live and work in.