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International trade and policy experts have made strong arguments that the worldwide economic downturn a decade ago (2008-2009) was due to the inadequacies in the rules that we need to have globally for a stable and prosperous economy. The carryover effect to today, some 10 years later, is potentially worrisome in the long term, some economists suggest.

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Online streaming services are spreading all around the world and are eating away from the traditional cable service. With access to the internet around the world becoming easier as ever and subscription prices to video streaming services dropping every year, there is no reason why online video streaming companies will soon be the norm around the world. Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and HBO NOW are some of the common names that fall under the streaming bucket in the US. However, we now see some of these companies begin to dominate also in international markets as both Netflix and Amazon are now present in more than 190 countries, which represents 97% of the global market.

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The technology industry is made up of skilled workers from all over the world, and the success of this industry largely relies on the ability to share and develop different ideas. When countries enforce strict immigration laws, or prevent travel in and out of the country, it hinders the technology industry. This is pertinent considering the possible changes in immigration laws in the United States under the Trump administration which may include reducing visas, increasing deportation, and focusing efforts on what used to be considered sanctuary cities. Multiple technology companies have expressed complaints with these policies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Apple.

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Tech firms have been innovating and growing freely with no strings attached for the past few decades. However, governments and politicians in the America and Europe have been growing a negative sentiment towards the freedom of the giant tech firms. Companies that fall under the social media, search engine, and e-commerce buckets have been specifically put under the microscope. The whole world is currently watching Mark Zuckerberg’s, the Founder and CEO of Facebook, testimony where he has been drilled with 100s of questions revolving around Facebook’s business model, monopolistic power, and the company’s lack of responsibility and respect towards its users data. The real question here is: should governments intervene and regulate these industries?

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Artificial limbs, manufacturing machines, and transportation drones all share one common trait: the implementation of robotics.  One of the fastest growing sectors in the world, robotics and its applications are revolutionizing the way society conducts our lives.  The recent data boom has produced a newfound excitement around all technology, using the benefits of mass statistics to carefully craft new innovative products.  Robotics has been one of the largest, if not the largest, benefactors from this trend, using systems like cloud storage, artificial intelligence, and responsive programming to evolve into a highly intelligent and efficient tool.  Currently, technology stocks are growing tremendously compared to past years and robotics seem to be on the cutting edge of a new era.

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It is no surprise that the proposed Chinese tariffs looming over American agricultural industries such as soybeans, fruit, nuts, wine, and pork have the potential to greatly affect not only the companies and farmers that they target but the everyday Chinese consumers who purchase those products as well. If the duties are imposed, they will raise the cost of American imported goods in China to a point that exported goods from other countries may become a more valuable and competitive option than those from the United States.

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In simple terms, inflation rates measure what has happened to consumer prices over the latest 12-month period. But what increases inflation? Well, economic growth is generally followed by a stronger and growing labor market, which means that unemployment is down and wages are increasing. This increases consumer’s disposable income and increases the cost of wages for companies. Both of those factors push prices up for consumers, which in turn, increases inflation rates. This is where interest rates, inflation’s best friend, comes into play. Shortly after inflation increases, interest rates begin to increase to control inflation (generally to 2%). Governments increase interest rates to incentivize people to save a larger chunk of their disposable income and decrease discretionary spending, in turn, decreasing consumer prices.

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The past couple of years have experienced tremendous growth in renewable energy, and this is expected to continue throughout 2018.  According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global renewable energy is expected to grow by 43%, to 920 GW by through 2022.  In 2016, about two thirds of the global net new power capacity came from renewable energy sources, and solar photovoltaic capacity grew by 50%. This is considerable growth because this allowed the growth of solar energy to exceed growth of all other fuel sources.  The world leader in renewable energy is China, which added approximately half of the growth seen in 2016.

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Companies often seek growth opportunities by acquiring a company or merging with one either within its borders or internationally. Successful M&As (mergers and acquisitions) have proven to be one of the most effective ways to increase a company’s sales and/or profitability. It is also a method to push competitors outside the picture and take a larger part of the pie. M&A’s face a long list of challenges when it comes to M&A, but one of the most significant obstacles companies face in the pre-deal stage is government intervention.

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Canada appears to be taking the brunt of political and economic uncertainty occurring in North America. A potential renegotiation of NAFTA, US tax cuts, and a weakening oil and gas industry are leaving investors wary of future economic growth in Canada. This speculation appears to be a reality for Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who forecasted an average annual growth of 1.7% between now and until 2022. This is a rapid change of events for the country, who saw 3.7% economic growth in the past year and the jobless rate hitting a record low.

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"This is the final call for the flight to Havana. You should be in your seats with safety belts fastened."

Most Americans never thought they'd hear a message like this on an airplane in their lifetimes, but at one-point last year, dozens of such flights departed airports from across the nation. For example, Alaska Airlines won a route between the U.S. west coast and the Cuban capital.

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The number of firearms produced and sold in the United States has continued to rise, and according to the Firearms Commerce in the US report produced by the Justice Department, the amount of firearms that are manufactured in the country have tripled since 1968. This may be alarming considering the fact that in the time it took the number of manufactured guns to triple, the US population has only grown by 35%. In 2015 alone, there were about 9,360,000 firearms manufactured in the US. Out of the 9,360,000 firearms that were manufactured in the US, only about 343,000 firearms were exported from the US in 2015, which is less than 4% of the total.

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Venezuela is in the midst of a political and economic disaster and has faced hyperinflation, an increasingly worthless physical currency, and heightening food and medicine shortages. Recently, Venezuela has turned to blockchain, and the cryptocurrency boom as a potential method to fund its debt and develop a stable currency. The Petro and Petro Gold have the potential to replace the bolivar, which was the countries primary currency in the past.

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This is the second post in a five-part blog series focused on the consumer products industry.

Adaptability, innovation, and differentiation are three important qualities consumer product (CP) companies must uphold in order to be successful in the ever-changing global market. The North American market upholds these ideas well through adapting technological improvements and having a good feel for the market climate. In turn with these abilities, the countries also work well with meeting the demands of their consumers, working through consolidating markets and executing strategies proficiently.

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2018 could be a very important year for the Chinese economy, with retail sales expected to exceed those of the United States this year.  In the past, China’s economy has been largely supported by its manufacturing businesses, but now, there is a decline in manufacturing and an increase consumer spending and importing.  Considering that China is the largest export economy for approximately 40 countries today, by the year 2030, many more countries may be relying on exporting to China.  This includes the United States, who currently purchase almost 20% of China’s total exports. In fact, China currently buys over 20% of total sales from major companies such as Apple, Boeing, and General Motors.  Many imports to China are coming from the United States, including approximately one out of every five cars sold in China.  One factor that has contributed to the increased spending by Chinese consumers is the fact that there have been increases in their incomes.  

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In the midst of an economic transformation that favors technology, the trucking industry is seeing one of its largest growth years in the past decade. In January, American trucking companies ordered the largest number of new 18-wheelers in about 12 years. This action took place following a tax overhaul that gave them more cash to invest. Trucking companies have also been incentivized to purchase new fuel-efficient trucks in a period of rising diesel costs. In a way, a digital economy has the potential to boost the growth of the trucking industry even further. Heightened packaging volumes have allowed suppliers to employ more truckers, which has boosted margins through their economies of scale. On top of this, more individuals are partaking in e-commerce, which has pressured the shipping industry to have the capability to access customers in rural areas as well as suburban and urban areas.

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A Hope in the Hollers

Trade and trade agreements are blamed by many people for a decline in good paying jobs, wage stagnation, and other ills.  There’s a widespread belief that globalization and its corporate and multinational organization enablers have handed right-wing nativist groups a club with which to bash free market liberalism, a philosophy that has prevailed since the end of the World War II.

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What does full employment really mean? Full employment in an economic point of view does not necessarily mean everyone has a job. If employment drops beyond a certain point, it can generate price and wage pressures, which might spark an inflation. Therefore, economists refer to the term as the sweet spot, where employment is close to full and does not push prices up.

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This is the fourth post in a five-part blog series focused on the energy industry.

As more countries consider the environmental impacts of capturing and using different forms of energy, the era for previous power-houses like coal is coming to a close. This post will explore the accessibility, development, and trading of upcoming fossil fuels around the globe.

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This is the second post in a five-part blog series focused on the energy industry. 

Every day we face new problems arising from the environmental state of our world. Widespread pollution is a huge problem to our environment and there is an urgent need to start using renewable sources that eliminate the burning of fossil fuels. Geothermal and hydroelectric are renewable sources of energies and produce “clean” fuel sources.

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2017 was a busy year for the food industry with many mergers and acquisitions taking place, and this is expected to continue into 2018.  According to the Food Institute data, 587 companies completed mergers and acquisitions last year.  This is a considerable increase from the 505 mergers and acquisitions from 2016 and the 410 from 2015.  In the United States, the food industry completed deals worth a total of $42 billion throughout 2017, up from the $27.1 billion in deals from 2016.  Mergers and acquisitions have been taking place in all sectors of the food and beverage industry, with the largest being the sale of Whole Foods to Amazon for $13.7 billion.  Along with Amazon, other large companies have also been expanding into the food distribution industry, including Walmart and Target.  Other examples of recent mergers and acquisitions include the sale of Snyder’s Lance Inc. to Campbell Soup and the sale of Nestlé’s US confectionary business to Ferrero.

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With the new tax reform coming into place, many American firms are expected to repatriate money from abroad, especially from the EU, with a reduced price tag. Interestingly, there is about $2.5 trillion of unremitted foreign profits accumulated over the past three decades that are expected to come back to the US. The US government expects to collect around $339 billion in the next decade in repatriation tax.

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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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Stock markets all over the world did very well last year.  Many countries have seen their stock market indices hit record highs recently.  A stock market index is a tool used to measure a section of the stock market.  The most popular stock market indices measure some of the largest, most influential companies traded on the stock market.  Here are two links that explain how a price-weighted index and a market-value weighted index are calculated. The two most popular American stock market indices are the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is a price-weighted index, and the S&P 500, which is a market-value weighted index. 

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Late last year Russia and OPEC agreed to extend their agreement to decrease oil production until the end of 2018.  Russia, OPEC, and other major oil-producing countries agreed to reduce their oil production in 2017 in an attempt to decrease the global supply of oil and in turn increase the price of oil.  An extension was signed in advance of the previous deal ending in this coming March.  The original cut in oil production was in response to falling oil prices.  After declining for the previous few years, 2017 saw rising oil prices worldwide, due in large part to the agreement limiting oil that OPEC and other countries enacted last year.  West Texas Intermediate saw crude oil prices rise from $43.33 per barrel in 2016 to $50.56 per barrel in 2017. 

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In October, the National Retail Federation announced that it expected holiday sales to increase between 3.6 and 4 percent in 2017. This would create a total spending of $678.75 billion to $682 billion, up from $655.8 billion last year. After the primary holiday shopping season concluded on December 24th, the U.S. economy slashed these estimates, resulting in a 4.9 percent yearly increase in this time period.

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This month marks the 10-year anniversary of the ‘Great Recession.’ The subprime mortgage crisis ignited the 2008-09 financial crisis in the US, which rippled through almost every market in the world causing a global meltdown. America itself is estimated to have lost about $4 trillion from the financial crisis and its labor market has not yet recovered ever since. So, what should we expect this upcoming year?

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Although overall retail spending has continued to grow, factors such as e-commerce and an abundance of shopping malls are changing the way people shop.  Today, e-commerce sales are steadily increasing, with Amazon sales rising from $16 billion to $80 billion between 2010 and 2016, and nearly half of all United States households are now Amazon Prime subscribers.  Also, according to Cowen and Company’s research analysts, between 1970 and 2015 the number of shopping malls in the United States grew more than twice as fast as the population.

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There is no doubt that studying abroad has become one of the most established business sectors in international education. The number of students studying abroad is increasing every year and this is encouraging institutions and governments to tap into the market. Becoming a part of this growing industry has a great business impact on educational institutions, organizations, and faculties.

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Every year, millions of people go shopping the weekend after Thanksgiving.  However, people are choosing to shop online on Cyber Monday rather than visit retail stores on Black Friday. Cyber Monday was one of the biggest shopping days in the United States.  This year, Americans spent $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday alone, according to data from Adobe Analytics.  This large amount of online orders so close to Christmas puts extra stress on retailers trying to avoid late deliveries and unfilled orders.  Normally during the holiday season, the number of late deliveries to households doubles, but this year, companies are having a particularly hard time delivering all of their orders on time.  

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It is very likely that you will soon witness a self-driving truck next to you on the highway. The world keeps taking a step further into the tech field, sparking innovative solutions for automotive companies. The automotive industry is highly competitive and many automotive companies are working very hard to stay ahead and take part in one of the greatest advancements in trucks.

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According to The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, consumer confidence in the United States has increased three points, rising to 129.5 from 126.2 in October.  Consumer confidence has been steadily increasing over the past five months, and is now the highest American consumer confidence rate posted in the past 17 years.  Americans are becoming increasingly confident in their finances, and spending even more as we come into this year’s holiday season.  During the second quarter of 2017, consumer spending in the United States has increased by 3.3% to $11.8 trillion.  This rise in consumer spending is noteworthy, considering consumer spending makes up almost 70% of GDP.  Two-thirds of this spending is on services, almost one-fourth is on nondurable goods, while the rest is spent on durable goods.

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Business dislikes uncertainty, and there’s plenty of it now in the Gulf of Arabia region.  In case you missed it, a coalition of Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia are making life difficult for Qatar because of its alleged support of terrorist groups.  Qatar has hotly denied the charges, accusing coalition members of ganging up and attempting a takeover of the tiny sheikdom, which currently hosts 10,000 U.S. troops who are fighting the terrorists Qatar is accused of harboring and funding. 

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This is the final post in a five-part blog series focused on International Education Week.

International Education Week wouldn’t be complete without the central force that drives international education—international students.  With a record 1.08 million foreign students enrolled in approximately 2,100 US institutions, education in America is as enticing as ever.  Students from China account for nearly a third of foreign enrollees, with 350,000 students coming to the US in 2016—a seven percent increase from 2015.  Indian students are the second most enrolled at 53,000 students, and Brazilian students come in at third with 13,000 students.  Times Higher Education states that schools like our own Michigan State University have become “international powerhouses” regarding global education.  According to Alyson L. Grunder, a deputy assistant secretary of state for policy, “The US higher education sector remains the global leader in welcoming students from around the world, and at the same time, we are committed to increasing opportunities to study abroad for Americans.”

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Inflation is a huge problem for many economies worldwide.   In countries like Venezuela, Argentina, and Ukraine the average consumer has been largely affected by the inflation currently occurring.  A basic definition of inflation is when the currency used in a country experiencing inflation buys fewer goods, the purchasing power decreases.  This is often bad for consumers, especially in countries experiencing very high inflation rates because they are not paid enough to compensate for the rising cost of goods and services.

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As Halloween week winds down, consumers across the nation will begin the process of slowly making a dent in a pile of over 600 million pounds of one of the world’s most coveted treats—candy.  Candy—also called confectionery and comprised of chocolate, sugar, and gum products—has been one of the most popular goods on the globe since 1894, with worldwide confectionery sales anticipated to increase 3.2 percent by 2022 and valued at 85.5 billion dollars in 2016.

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The United States is Canada’s number one trading partner, and Canada is America’s second largest. However, to what extent does the amount of trade between these two nations span? The Great Lakes Region is composed of the two Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and the eight states of Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. The Gross Domestic Product of the Great Lakes Region is $6 trillion, which means that if the region were a country, it would be the third largest economy right behind the United States and China. $278 billion dollars of bilateral trade is generated in the Great Lakes Region each year, and there is a highly integrated supply chain in order to sustain such a massive amount of exports and imports.

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Many still think of biofuels as the fuel of the future.  They think of a futuristic technology that still has not really been developed fully.  Biofuels have actually been around much longer than most people realize.  Henry Ford even planned to have his Model T run on ethanol way back in the early 1900s.  Problems with today’s energy sources often come up because of the harm they can cause to the environment.  Biofuels may eventually become a solution to both of these problems.  That is why people still think of biofuels as a fuel of the future; they have not yet been implemented in society in an effective way. 

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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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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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When it comes to market growth, countries around the world have different perspectives on what constitutes a strong performance of the economy. On Wednesday, October 11 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced its prediction that India’s growth rate will decrease to 6.7 percent for 2017, compared to a prediction earlier this year of 7.2 percent. This large drop is largely due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) and the demonetization of the Indian banknote. If India’s growth rate falls, it would be behind China’s predicted growth rate of 6.8 percent for 2017. Modi has faced backlash and criticism about the effects that these policies have had on India’s economy so far, which is an interesting contrast to the opinions of citizens in developed countries on the progress of their markets’ growth.  

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We are in the midst of the 10 year anniversary of the S&P 500’s its pre-recession high. On October 9th, 2007, this index peaked at 1,565. Since then indexed bottomed at 666 on May 6th, 2009 but has recovered. This index is currently trading around 2,550, the highest it has ever been. The United States is in the midst of the second longest economic expansion in its history. Economic prosperity has allowed the housing market to recover and the United States Federal Government has ended its policy of fiscal stimulus by normalizing interest rates. How does this compare to Europe and Asia in the same time period?

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The sneaker industry is becoming a new fad in today’s society, and led by sportswear behemoths Nike and Adidas, is transforming the market into one of the world’s most profitable and demanding sectors.  Propelled by the resurgence of Adidas footwear in popular models like the “Ultra boost,” “NMD,” and rapper Kanye West’s coveted creation, the “Yeezy,” and the continued success of Nike in models such as the “Air Jordan” and “Air Max,” consumers are lining up to purchase sneakers more than ever.  One way producers are ensuring the continued success of their products is by making purposely small amounts of their sneakers in order to create an atmosphere of excitement and exclusiveness that buyers aim to obtain.  This then allows the producers to release the same shoe in larger quantities at a later date—a restock—and gain high sales rates, making their profit margins even larger.  Transparency Market Research expects the world sneaker market to be worth $220.2 billion by 2020.

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Recently, Hurricanes Irma and Harvey slammed into the coasts of the Caribbean and southern parts of the United States. These destructive tropical storms caused billions of dollars worth of damage combined and displaced millions of families. JP Morgan recently estimated that the insurance industry could lose $10 to 20 billion from Hurricane Harvey alone.    

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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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Initial Coin Offerings, or ICO’s, are a new and quickly growing way for startups to raise capital. Despite being a relatively new phenomenon the total value of ICO’s has been proliferating with nearly $1.5 billion dollars being raised since the start of the year. That value seems outlandish when compared to the mere $256 million of funding that was raised in the entirety of 2016.

While the value of ICO’s has grown nearly six-fold in the past year, many people are still in the dark regarding the new trend that is sweeping investors and startups across the globe. Essentially, ICO’s are a cross between more traditional IPO’s and crowdfunding. During and ICO a company issues “coins”, or digital tokens, similar to the popular cryptocurrencies bitcoin and Ethereum. Investors can then purchase these coins and conceivably can use them to purchase a good or service from the company at some point in the future. The value of these coins will theoretically increase in value, as long as others continue to invest. An important distinction between IPO’s and ICO’s is that investors in an ICO do not receive equity in the company and don’t really have anything tangible behind their investment besides a promise for the ability to be able to purchase a good or service from the company in the future. A second differentiator between traditional methods of raising capital and ICO’s is the amount of regulation. Given that the concept of an ICO is so new, the space is largely unregulated allowing companies to prepare for and launch in ICO in a matter of weeks as compared to the months it takes for companies to clear regulatory approval for IPO’s.

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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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Let’s start with a quick overview of what a cryptocurrency is.  It is a digital currency and is known for its unique feature, in that it is not issued by any central authority, therefore, cannot be controlled and manipulated by any government. Bitcoin is one of the oldest and most popular cryptocurrencies. It, as well as the other cryptocurrencies, are stored and transferred on Blockchain – a peer-to-peer network that validates and records all transaction and is considered to be the ledger for all cryptocurrency transactions. This network eliminates the need for a middle man (financial institutions), however, there are miners who validate the transactions through a process called “mining” and are rewarded free bitcoins for their work. It is important to know that Blockchain’s uses are not limited to just cryptocurrencies and many industries are discovering how they could take advantage of this ledger system. For the sake of simplicity, I will be focusing primarily on one cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, as there are more than 900.

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On August 18, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced a trade probe of China's intellectual property practices. According to the Chicago Tribune, the probe is meant to verify complaints that "Beijing improperly requires foreign companies to hand over technology in exchange for market access." The United States government claims that these allegations amount to serious intellectual property and technology theft, meriting a thorough investigation that may take up to a year. The probe was invoked by triggering Section 301 of the Trade of Act of 1974, which allows the president to levy tariffs and other such restrictions on countries accused of "unfair trade practices." If the allegations against China are true, it is estimated that the value of intellectual property loss may amount to as high as $600 billion.

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The first round of NAFTA renegotiations between the United States, Canada, and Mexico concluded in Washington this past Sunday. Trade representatives from each country began to lay out their goals for a probable update of NAFTA policy. The 24-year-old trade bloc, which was established to eliminate barriers among its three trade partners, has garnered intense backlash in recent years. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a third of U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost since NAFTA was first established. In addition, NAFTA has caused Mexico to lose 1.3 million farm jobs due to removed tariffs that rendered Mexican farmers effectively noncompetitive.

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Climate change has become a prominent issue within the past few decades. To stay in tune with global efforts to improve global climate, several nations have committed to the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement, a multinational deal made with the United Nations to curb worldwide carbon emissions. According to the New York Times, many "countries and businesses all over the world [have] already made advances based on the agreement," including rich and poor nations alike. The world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China, remains fully "committed in the fight against climate change and to participating in international efforts for a greener world." Brussels and Beijing have been cooperating in order to move forward together with the agreement, and India has pledged its commitment as well.

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Recent indicators by top battery and automotive manufacturers have sparked interest in the revolution of the electric vehicle (EV) market. Though electric vehicles have not hit mainstream markets yet, many industry analysts believe that EV technology is developing faster than consumers think. Additionally, an updated report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reveals an optimistic forecast of the EV market due to falling prices of batteries and the aggressive policies promoting zero-emission vehicles in China and Europe. Previous pessimistic reports of higher sticker prices and government subsidies have become outdated, and BNEF includes detailed material to prove it.

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A new video published by Dr Jagdish N. Sheth from Emory University discusses the economic factors that caused many United States citizens to vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. 25 years ago, world leaders decided to create the G7 and G8 agreements to liberalize trade as a growth engine. As a result, general tariffs were abolished, the World Trade Organization (WTO) was created, and trade increased across borders. NAFTA and the European Union were also created, but in the process, jobs began to shift.

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On May 19, United States President Donald Trump embarked on his first series of foreign trips for the current presidential term. His first stop was Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, where he met with King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, and other members of the Saudi royal family. During the two-day visit, President Trump and King Salman signed arm deals worth an immediate total of $110 billion, with additional promises of further investment over the next decade that will eventually equate to $350 billion. On a wider scale, the arms deals are part of a larger series of potential deals between Saudi Arabia and the U.S, often involving specific corporations from each nation. Collectively, they encompass the energy, defense, technology, chemicals, and mining sectors, signifying initiatives from the Saudi government to diversify its business from oil exports (part of the Saudi Vision 2030 plan established in spring 2016) and establish new trade relations within other industries within the U.S. Following the signings, global aerospace and defense stocks rebounded in value

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The fifth Copenhagen Fashion Summit took place on Thursday, May 11 to address sustainable development in the fashion industry. Influential representatives from apparel and textiles and retail companies spoke at the event, including the chairman of the board and interim CEO of Tiffany & Co, the President of Global Sourcing at Target, the CFO of Tommy Hilfiger Global and PVH, and the head of sustainability at H&M. Eva Kruse, the CEO of the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) explained how “today's linear economic model, which sends too many clothes to landfills and incinerators, is simply not sustainable.” She called on all retail and fashion companies to support a circular fashion system and sign the Summit’s Call to Action.

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On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that China and the United States had signed a new trade agreement, named the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue. The trade agreement is a result of ongoing negotiations between the two countries following a meeting between U.S. President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April. This 100-day action plan contains 10-points to be implemented by both China and the United States. For the United States, the agreement is part of an ongoing attempt to cut the trade deficit with Beijing.

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On April 26, United States President Donald Trump announced plans to "re-negotiate" the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. As related in a White House press release, the administration had intended to completely withdraw the U.S. from the trade deal, but was dissuaded from doing following conversations with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Peña Nieto. At present, NAFTA stands in its current form, although the U.S. has explicitly stated its desire for major changes to the trade deal. The situation is predictive of a potentially volatile future for NAFTA and trade relations between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

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Growing up, many kids turned to ketchup to go with every meal, from hot dogs to mac and cheese to scrambled eggs. Now, the condiment of choice has turned into Sriracha. In the past 16 years, the hot sauce market, specifically Sriracha sauce, in America has increase by 165%, which makes the market one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.

Sriracha is now becoming a global phenomenon with over 200 tons produced a week worldwide. David Tran, the creator of the spicy condiment, never trademarked his creation which has created more success for his name sake. Many imitations are produced in countries such as France, China, and Australia, which are sold alongside the original sauce produced by Huy Fong Foods.

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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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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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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 March 1, over 1.5 million shopkeepers in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu started a mass boycott of Coca-Cola and Pepsi products, pulling the beverages off their shelves and replacing them with domestic soft drink brands. All of the involved vendors are members of the Tamil Nadu Traders Association, a retailers organization that directed the boycott toward United States-based soft drink brands. The Association cited two primary reasons for the boycott: PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company's exorbitant use of the area's groundwater, and the continued "meddling" by American organizations in Indian traditions.

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Since 2006 the rate at which beehives die has jumped from 5-10% a year to about 30%. In the United States roughly 10 million beehives, worth an estimated $2 billion, died from 2006-2015. These statistics become even more alarming when you realize how important bees are to the world’s economy. Bees have been identified by a United Nations Environment Programme report as the most economically important pollinators in the majority of the world’s regions. There are 100 crop species that provide 90% of the world’s food. 71 of these crop species are pollinated by bees. Almonds, pumpkins, and cucumbers are almost entirely dependent on bees for pollination. California produces 82% of all the almonds in the world. About 70% of the almonds California produces are exported to other countries, coming out to over $2.5 billion in revenue for California. The production of almonds in California would become nearly impossible without the presence of bees.

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It is no secret that the new President of the United States, Donald Trump, favors protectionist economic policies. We are most used to hearing how his policies might affect relationships with China, Mexico, and Russia, but almost all countries will be impacted by the new president's policies. One of the countries who might see significant economic change from Trump's economy is India. India’s largest export, IT Services, face a particularly concentrated threat, and other industries such as pharmaceuticals also find themselves impacted by Trump’s America first policies.

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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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Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are a type of investment vehicle which invests in real estate through property and mortgages, and similar to stocks, they can be traded on major exchanges. In the U.S., there are three major kinds of real estate investment trusts (REITs). Equity based REITs own and invest in properties, and are responsible for the value of their assets, and account for the majority of REITs. Mortgage REITs invest in and own property mortgages, and tend to either loan money to real estate owners for mortgages, or purchase mortgage-backed securities. Hybrid REITs are the third kind of REITs, and invest in both properties and mortgages.

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As many of us know, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) played a significant role in the US elections, with president-elect Donald Trump clearly stating that he will renegotiate the agreement with Canada and Mexico in order to stop the outflow of middle-class jobs. Changes in NAFTA would transform the auto industry in the US since it allows automakers, as well as other suppliers, to move production to Mexico without facing any tariffs and take advantage of the lower labor costs.

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The Korea Fair Trade Commission, a corporate regulator based in South Korea, declared that it would fine mobile chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. a hefty $853 million over the company’s purported abuse of antitrust laws. The announcement comes at the end of the Commission's three-year investigation of Qualcomm and constitutes the highest such fine charged to an individual United States-based company. The Commission concluded that Qualcomm broke antitrust laws by refusing patent access to competing chipmakers and by withholding necessary phone chips in order to pressure mobile manufacturers into strict licensing agreements. In addition, the Commission claimed that Qualcomm used patents from other chipmakers without fair compensation. Qualcomm has stated they will appeal this decision to the Seoul High Court, professing that their licensing practices follow decades-old industry standards. 

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During this past November, sales on United States homes have substantially increased, reaching an unexpected ten year high. Buyers have been flooding the market, rushing to invest in homes during this current period of low interest rates, especially with anticipated increases in borrowing costs in the near future. The sudden upsurge in home-buying activity may be a result from the strain of rising prices and mortgage rates.

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Approximately two years ago, United States President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro proclaimed the official reestablishment of diplomatic relations between their nations. After decades of embittered disputes, economic sanctions, and general hostility, the two countries have come ever closer to bridging their differences. In the time since, Cuba and the United States reopened embassies on their respective mainlands and oversaw several other achievements: the expansion of aerial and naval transport between the two countries, the increase of agricultural sales to Cuba, and the augmentation of telecommunications services in Cuba. In addition, plenty of agreements involving business opportunities within the countries' private sectors are on the table, with the potential to take effect soon. Many of these efforts are taken up by the Cuba Working Group, a group of Congress lawmakers dedicated to legislating such advances. For the most part, the newfound ties between Cuba and the United States have been received positively on an international scale. The developments been praised domestically as well, as officials from both countries see the new diplomacy as a gradual establishment of democracy in Cuba. However, recent events have cast a shade of uncertainty, including the results of the United States presidential election and the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Now, citizens and leaders are pondering what comes next for the relationship between Cuba and the United States.

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In North America, there are currently two very contradicting states between the Central Banks of Canada and the Federal Reserve of the United States. According to a senior central bank official, the Bank of Canada will not respond mechanically to any future move by the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. Deputy Governor Timothy Lane spoke to an audience in Waterloo, Ontario and stated that “tighter monetary policy in the U.S. would lead to higher market interest rates globally, producing a tightening effect for Canada.”

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Two of the world's most valuable technology companies, Facebook and Alphabet (by means of its subsidiary Google), are working with TE Subsea Communications (TE SubCom) and Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC, a subsidiary of China Soft Power Technology) to construct the world's fastest trans-Pacific submarine cable. The 12,800 kilometer (8,000 miles) submarine cable will enable a speed of 120 Terabits per second and connect the United States and China by way of two major cities: Los Angeles and Hong Kong (where PLDC is based). The cable, known as the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), will utilize fiber-optic technology to create the fastest possible telecommunication channel, covering twice the speed of the current-fastest undersea cable. The goal of the PLCN is to increase bandwidth and reduce connection delays in the Asia-Pacific region. According to Google, the cable should be built and functioning by 2018.

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Chaos flooded the streets of Berlin. 80,000 protesters gathered, while up to 320,000 others held organized protests in seven other major German cities, to express their strong opposition to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US. In 2013, the EU and the US began negotiating a trade deal, hoping to create the world’s largest free trade market of 850 million consumers. The proposed deal promises to lower tariffs, and hopes to promote economic growth overseas. Protesters fear the deal will lead to an increase in outsourcing and unemployment, as it favors industrialized agricultural processes over non-GMO privatized food production. This prioritization would likely cost thousands of jobs and could potentially compromise food safety and employment standards.

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For years Americans have seen manufacturing jobs relocated overseas in an effort to lower production costs. The loss of these jobs has put millions out of work, and has done nothing to help the economy. There is a push to relocate these lost jobs back to American soil, to help recreate the jobs that have been lost. However, the question is, will the returning of these factories actually create more jobs?

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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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On Wednesday, United States President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will meet in Ottawa for the annual North American Leaders' Summit. The meeting, commonly referred to as the Three Amigos Summit, has gathered almost every year since 2005 to discuss strategic cooperation and important economic issues. This year's meeting in particular will prove to be of high significance. The primary objective of the 2016 Summit is to develop clean power plans for each country in the continued combat against climate change. However, recent political developments may cast a shadow over this year's talks.

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On Sunday, NASA issued a press release announcing they had just signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates. The agreement signifies cooperation between NASA and the UAE Space Agency in aeronautics research, space exploration, and the peaceful use and habitation of outer space. Other objectives covered by the agreement include collaboration in Earth and space science research, the establishment of educational programs, and outreach to relate the global benefits of space travel. Possible future cooperative projects include the joint use of certain airspace technologies, ground-based research facilities, and antennas. Above all, the agreement seeks to strengthen the diplomatic and economic relationships between the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

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On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would be easing some of its economic sanctions on Burma. Under new provisions, seven Burmese companies and three state-run banks will be allowed to engage in business with American corporations. The announcement shortly followed the seating of Burma's first democratically elected government in decades, led by the opposition party of revolutionary Aung San Suu Kyi. Obama cited several other developments in Burma that led to this decision: the freeing of several political prisoners, the discharge of child soldiers from the Burmese military, and improved labor standards. The lifting of these particular sanctions is meant to reward Burma for taking the steps toward a more democratic society. 

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This Monday, Puerto Rico defaulted on a $422 Million dollar debt payment, a significant development as the island faces an impending economic crisis. As stated by Heather Long in CNN Money, “Puerto Rico, a tropical paradise in economic purgatory, faces a $70 billion debt bill it knows it cannot pay, a staggering 45% poverty rate and a shrinking population as citizens flee to the mainland.” This quote shows what kind of state the island is currently in and its outlook for the future does not look any better. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla says that they are facing a “humanitarian crisis”, and he claims that he is prioritizing the basic needs of his people over what the territory owes to banks. 

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For pro basketball fans everywhere, it comes as no news that last night was Kobe Bryant’s final game as a basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant has become a household name, not just in America, but globally. Kobe Bryant has ridden the larger wave of global basketball, with a particularly massive (and growing) fan following in China. Sports, and American culture of many varieties have become commoditized and are now consumed in massive quantities throughout the world.

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It is no secret that China has experienced massive capital outflows over the past year, and it also isn’t a secret where a lot of this capital is going. Capital flows from China to the U.S. have occurred at record levels in 2015 and the first quarter of 2016, with a large portion of these flows going into real estate and other hard assets. What is particularly interesting, however, is the recent acceleration of Chinese investment in the hospitality industry of the U.S., mainly hotels. It isn’t an entirely new phenomena, as evidenced by the Chinese purchase of the historic Waldorf Astoria in 2014 for $1.95 Billion. It is striking, however, how quickly the pace of investments has increased. Much of the high profile purchasing comes from one company, Anbang Insurance, but represents a larger ideal within China.

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As container ships continue to grow larger and as global trade increases, the need for automated shipping terminals is apparent. The United States has four such terminals, where computer-operated robots automatically load and unload shipping containers from massive cargo ships. There is no doubt that automation boosts productivity and cuts labor costs; however, it remains to be seen whether automation is worth the hefty investment.

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On Tuesday, Iran launched a large number of ballistic missiles from silos all over the country. According to reports, the missiles can cover distances ranging from 190 to 1,242 miles. Reports from a local news agency reported that the missiles were launched as part of a supposed military exercise. An official statement from The Revolutionary Guards, a division of Iran's Armed Forces affiliated with the Islamic Revolution, declared that the missiles were launched to showcase Iran's "deterrent power" and "all-out readiness to confront threats". The United States has reacted unfavorably to the news. Just two months ago, the U.S. had imposed sanctions on Iran in reaction to missile tests run by the country last October, meant to disrupt further activity. Now, additional sanctions against Iran may be on the discussion table.

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Since President John F. Kennedy signed the Presidential Proclamation 3447 on February 3, 1962, the United States has not been able to invest or do business with Cuba, as an “embargo on all trade” was declared. However, within the past two years, major changes have been made to reopen business opportunities between the U.S. and Cuba. In December 2014, President Obama met with Raul Castro and made the controversial decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. More recently, in July last year, both countries reopened their embassies and U.S. companies such as Verizon, Netflix, and Airbnb have expanded into the Cuban market. Many believe that now is the ideal time to start doing business with Cuba; however, there are also a wide variety of potential issues that could complicate future transactions.

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February was one of the best months for U.S. auto sales in recent years. Due to Presidents' Day deals, leap day transactions, and delayed demand from hazardous winter weather, overall sales from major automotive companies have far surpassed industry projections. The high numbers show promise for automotive sales in the U.S, with several analysts saying 2016 could be another record year for the industry. Investors were worried that 2015's prolific sales were to be the industry's peak; now many of them are changing their tune, expecting automotive prosperity to continue well into next year. It is keenly expected that companies based in foreign countries, especially Japan, will be playing a major role in the increased demand and consumption of automotive products in the U.S.

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The United States government has approved the construction of a $5 to $10 million dollar heavy equipment factory in Cuba’s Mariel port and special economic zone located 30 miles west of the Cuban capital of Havana. This announcement comes merely 15 months after the United States and Cuba announced plans to normalize relations. The Oggun Tractor Plant, as it is to be named, marks the first significant American business investment in the small island nation since the rise of Fidel Castro in 1959, when $1.8 billion dollars (estimated present day value of $7 billion) worth of American corporate and private property was nationalized.

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Japan’s tough economic sledding continues. The Land of the Rising Sun faces currency appreciation without the underlying fundamentals to support it. A myriad of issues have led to weak economic conditions in Japan, and the recent appreciation of the yen isn’t helping at all. In fact, it is a counteractive force to Japanese monetary policy, and is causing headaches for Japanese firms.

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Auto maker giant, General Motors, recently announced its fourth quarter earnings. After a record year, GM reported net income of $6.3 billion in the last quarter of 2015. This was caused by consumers buying less gas efficient models, as gas in United States has continued to stay very low at around $2 a gallon. Sales in North America rose 8.6% in the final quarter and 14% in China. This could have a great impact heading into 2016, where consumers were initially predicted to go more into electric vehicles and more gas efficient models. If the current trend stays true, then the first quarter of 2016 could spike as well. In Europe, the company continues to struggle as they are still in the negative in the difficult continent. However, GM's CFO has stated “Breaking even in Europe in 2016 is a companywide focus and we’re confident that we’re going to achieve that,” leading many to view GM's prospects in the region optimistically.

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On Tuesday, The U.S. House of Representatives voted almost unanimously to pass legislation that would broaden sanctions on North Korea. This bill comes after North Korea announced last Wednesday that they had successfully completed a hydrogen bomb nuclear test. The bill proposes stronger sanctions that would deny North Korea the money that it needs for developing nuclear warheads, long-range missiles, and for paying its army and police forces. It will also use financial and economic pressure to keep North Korea away from maintaining the assets that they hold in foreign banks.

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In 2015, the NASDAQ is up 6.1%; thanks to its tech heavy nature, with companies like Netflix, Google, and Amazon traded on the exchange. “Some of the big Nasdaq names—Amazon, Google and Netflix—those stocks have powered the market forward this year,” said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth LLC. He also added, “People were looking for growth in a very low-growth economy.” This plays a predictive part for 2016 when the population will be looking for the next fast rising stock by making them focus on the tech base stocks over other ones. In 2015 alone, Netflix has increased its share price by 140%. This rapid increase is the effect of Netflix being present in the daily lives of millions of users and its gained popularity over the last twelve months.

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Alibaba Group Holding Company is a Chinese e-commerce corporation that works to connect online businesses and marketplaces all over the world. The company is the largest e-commerce operation in China and has made its founder and chairman, Jack Ma, his country's richest man. Alibaba has often drawn comparisons to Amazon due to each company's respective dominance in local and global markets. A big part of Amazon's success has been due to its expansion from online retail services, and Alibaba now appears to be following a similar route

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Alas! After months of waiting and a volatile year in the global markets, the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it will be increasing rates from close to zero to between 0.25% and 0.5%. This is the first interest rate rise in almost a decade, and the effects of the increase will spark volatility in domestic markets as well as international markets. The rate hike is meant to signal economic strength in the United States by showing that the economy is strong enough to handle larger borrowing costs. Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chair, explained that further rate hikes will be “gradual” in an effort not to slow economic recovery.

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The Celtic Tiger is roaring again. After an economic downturn in 2008, Ireland was in dire straits. It was more often associated with the failing economies in Southern European countries than its peers in Northern Europe. In 2015, however, these troubles seem to be a relic of the distant past. Ireland’s GDP has grown at an astounding 7% through this point in 2015, while most of Western Europe is marred in low growth in the 0 to 2 percent growth range. This positive trend in the Irish economy has been spurred mainly by investment from overseas, particularly U.S. pharmaceutical and tech companies.  A skilled workforce, and a minimal corporate tax rate of 12.5% has led many of these U.S. corporations to set up their base European operations in Ireland. Companies such as Pfizer, Apple, Facebook, and Google have built up major operations in Ireland’s main cities. Some major US companies have even completed mergers or acquisitions to execute a tax inversion, and move their base of operations for tax purposes to Ireland. Not only are these countries creating jobs and bringing in tax income to help the public financing of Ireland, but they are helping to offset all of the negative aspects that were dragging down the Irish economy.

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Over the past five years, the U.S. real estate market has been flooded with capital from Chinese investors who are eager for the opportunity to both earn high yields and move their cash outside the reach of the Chinese government. This real estate binge began when the crash of the U.S real estate market drew in thousands of Chinese investors looking to swoop up houses and commercial properties for highly reduced prices. The Chinese government limits individual's annual overseas investments to roughly $50,000; however, for years these laws have been circumvented by channeling money through friends, relatives, and employees. After the Chinese market crash in August, the government has cracked down on these laws, making it increasingly difficult to transfer capital outside the country. John Chang, a real estate broker with Re/Max in New York City described the current situation as being “like barbarians at the gate,” Chinese families want to buy, but “can’t get the money out.” 

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Do you need to find the U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) that covers a certain ZIP code area in the United States? Then this new globalEDGE resource is just what you need. The new ‘Look Up’ tool, located in the Trade Contacts page of the Insights by State section, helps you search for any ZIP code within the U.S., and provides you with the contact information of the USEAC office(s) that covers that particular ZIP Code area. There are more than 100 USEACs located across the United States, and the centers assist U.S. businesses that are new to exporting, want to expand to additional export markets, or want to increase their market share in existing markets. USEACs also connect local U.S. companies with additional international trade resources, as well as work closely with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Export-Import Bank to counsel clients on export finance options.

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As of October 15, 2015, USA Trade Online is now free for all users. For those who are not familiar with USA Trade Online, it is a dynamic data tool provided by the U.S. Census Bureau that provides U.S. export and import data. In addition to becoming free for all users, many new data fields and functions have been added. These changes have made this resource an even more powerful tool for exploring U.S. international trade data.

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Natural resources businesses in the Arctic are facing a complex economic situation. A new economic organization, the Arctic Economic Council (AEC) Secretariat, was recently founded in the region to help small to medium-sized businesses and promote favorable business policies. However, many countries are reassessing their strategies of drilling for oil and gas in Arctic region because of falling oil prices and the downturn of the global economy.

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The European Court of Justice declared the 2000 “Safe Harbor” agreement between the United States and the European Union invalid on October 6. This is important because the agreement allowed U.S. tech firms to transfer large amounts of data from European users to American servers. The lawsuit first came to light when Max Schrems, an Austrian law student, noticed that “Facebook transfers his personal data to the U.S., where it can be accessed by authorities with little respect for his privacy.” Many companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Twitter are left in a sort of “legal limbo”, as described by The New York Times. This essentially means that large tech companies, like those aforementioned, can no longer transfer such data to the United States.

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement has been a focal point in international business news over the last few days. Tomas Hult, Director of Michigan State University’s International Business Center, wrote an article discussing the ramifications of the TPP for the United States regarding trade with the rest of the world. The United States’ share of imports in the Asia-Pacific region has been declining as of late, but the TPP could provide the U.S. with the spark it needs to regain its strong presence in this market. Click here to check out Tomas’s article in the online publication The Conversation.  

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After years of negotiation, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal was finally reached on Monday. This means that a new trade bloc has been created with reduced trade barriers among the 12 countries that signed. Since these countries together are responsible for 40% of the world’s GDP and 26% of total trade, the impacts of TPP are far-reaching and significant to the world economy, as well as to the U.S. economy.

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Cybersecurity remains one of the largest concerns for many of today’s largest institutions. Hackers have become more prevalent than ever and are always finding new ways around the latest internet security precautions. There are many different kinds of information that these hackers seek. It can range from medical information from hospitals, staff and donor information from universities, or inside information from public or private companies. Whatever the targeted material may be, hacking is putting companies and even countries at risk to have this information stolen. Multinational cybersecurity corporations such as Cisco and Fortinet have tackled the task of creating cybersecurity systems to protect complex data and operating systems used by many institutions. As the internet grows every day, these cybersecurity platforms need to fend off new and improved cyber threats.

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Following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election in 2014, many had hoped that the leader would speed up market reforms in order to attract foreign capital and grow the economy. However, rampant political and social problems throughout the country have caused these reforms to materialize much more slowly than initially anticipated. Many are additionally uncertain on the state of India’s economy due to modest GDP growth and little manufacturing output. In order to combat these issues, Modi is now beginning to prioritize the modernization of India’s digital infrastructure. A digital revolution in the country could potentially boost education and consumption, and consequently contribute to economic growth.

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As part of the normalization process that began a little less than a year ago, the United States has taken additional steps in renewing full relations between itself and Cuba. On September 18th, the U.S. government announced revisions to its sanctions against Cuba that would make business and travel between two countries much easier. On top of this, President Obama may be working to end the embargo that the United States has on Cuba. Insistence on removing the embargo comes from personal requests by Cuban President Raul Castro, Pope Francis, and the United Nations, who condemned the embargo. Obama may aid Cuba in ending the embargo to the U.N.'s wishes, an unprecedented move by a world leader. While most are in favor of continuing to open trade between the U.S. and Cuba, completely removing the embargo proves to be a controversial subject.

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The world electric car market could get a shake up soon as Porsche unveiled a concept for a four door electric sports car known as the Mission E. This so called “Tesla Killer” won’t hit the streets until at least 2019, but it puts a statement out there that other companies have put a target on Tesla’s back. This is all part of Porsche’s parent company, Volkswagen (VLKAY), push to have a greater presence in the electric car market. The impact this could have the global economy could be huge as the United States is the world’s largest purchaser of hybrid/electric vehicles in 2015, with the Tesla Model S near the top of the list. Tesla is an American company so the impact that a prominent foreign electric car manufacturer could be huge as Porsche claims their car will charge faster and last longer than the current Model S. All hope isn’t lost for Tesla as they still have at least four to five years to improve their current battery technology to compete the Mission E.

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The Federal Funds Rate (FFR) is designed to either stimulate saving or spending based on the level of economic growth. Following the 2008 financial crisis, the rate was slashed in attempt to temporarily buoy the markets, but the current economy is calling for an increase in the rate. The series of rate increases proposed by the Federal Reserve were set to be enacted sometime around fall of 2015, although more recently analysts predict that the September 16-17 meeting specifically will reflect any actions taken by the central bank. This rate hike, planned for quite some time now, is becoming increasingly ambiguous as the Fed faces tension following the recent succession of turbulent economic events. Chief among these stressors is the IMF, which is urging the Federal Reserve to cut a little slack for the sake of the global economy.

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An article written recently by Tomas Hult, Director of Michigan State University's International Business Center, focuses on the devaluation of the yuan and the impact it will have on the U.S. economy. He argues that the impact on U.S. businesses will not be as negative as many people think and cites research to support his position. His article appears in Fortune's online publication and can be accessed by clicking here

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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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To say the global oil industry has had a turbulent year would be an understatement. The industry has been thrown into a violent tailspin, which has culminated in oil trading for under half the price it was fourteen months ago. While the initial cause of the crash was oversupply, several recent international developments, including the Chinese market downturn and the proposed Iran nuclear deal, have only accentuated the demise. More information about the underlying causes and the current state of oil prices can be found in previous globalEDGE blog posts containing the Oil tag.

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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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There is a large trade agreement under negotiation involving major economies around the Pacific. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will include the major economies of Japan and the United States, while also including the following ten countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These twelve countries account for forty percent of global gross domestic product. It has been noted that China has been left out of this partnership because it has been criticized for not following trade rules. In the future, China will be able to join the partnership pending compliance to the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s standards.

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Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is set to visit the U.S. this week and aims to pitch Japan’s bullet-train system to state representatives in California. Currently, Japanese companies are competing to join three fast-train projects that are under consideration in the United States. The three individual projects would link Los Angeles to San Francisco, New York to Washington, and Dallas to Houston. Abe is hoping to attract an export market for Japan’s advanced bullet-train system in order to help jumpstart the nation’s economy. As of now, he sees the United States as a viable export market for the revolutionary train system.

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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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Since early 2014, the U.S. Central Bank has been in the process of easing the economy into a rising interest rates program. In an effort to contract the economy while it’s still recovering, the main goal of this initiative is to gently maneuver the United States into a more stable fiscal state, and out of the transitional zone it is currently in. The Federal Funds Rate (FFR) has been flat at a historic rock bottom 0.25% for about six years now, following the financial crisis of 2008. Economic analysts and investors alike are dubious about the unprecedented situation in which the Fed will try to raise rates from such a low point, partially playing it by ear.

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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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With the proposed re-establishment of normal diplomatic relations and the potential easing of economic sanctions between the United States and Cuba, trade relations between the two nations have begun to thaw. Cuba offers a new market of avid consumers, and an economy that could potentially be a key contributor to the Caribbean region. Even though the embargo may potentially be lifted, there are several challenges that remain to be overcome for Cuba and U.S. to be successful as trade partners.

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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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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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As people in developed countries live longer lives, companies with pension plans are facing growing pension shortfalls. The Society of Actuaries estimates that the average 65 year old man today will live two years longer than it estimated 15 years ago. This has led to large differences in the amount budgeted for pension plans and the amount actually being spent. The increased longevity of these employees’ lives has caused many major companies’ balance sheets to be changed dramatically. Most United States companies use defined-contribution plans such as 401(K)s, and these leave workers on their own after retirement. These companies will not have to worry about increased life longevity when it comes to these payments.

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This past week, the Obama Administration cleared a plan to override federal regulations on oil drilling off of Alaska's coast in the Arctic Ocean. The proposal is intended to establish drilling standards for the Chuckchi and Beaufort Seas, both of which are believed to be abundant in fossil fuels, and follows a growing emphasis in the international system on the Arctic's natural resources. Last January, 1,400 participants from several countries gathered in Tromsø, Norway to stake their claims at the Arctic Frontiers conference. Russia's increasing interest in the region, coupled with its growing military presence throughout international waters, gave the conference unprecedented significance.

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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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Since the Eurozone has been at a very low inflation level for quite some time and people have become more conservative in their spending, the issue of pushing the economy up has been raised by the European Central Bank. The ECB President, Mr. Draghi said, “for growth to pick up, you need investment. For investment, you need confidence. And for confidence, you need structural reforms.” Then, a 60-billion-euro-a-month bond purchase program became such a structural reform last week. This blog will examine both the regional and international impacts of this quantitative easing policy.

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The United States has pledged financial support of $2 billion to Ukraine to help them prevent a looming bankruptcy, and boost recovery efforts amidst the financial turmoil in Europe and Asia. Ukraine is trying to recover and stabilize its economy, but the waging conflict in Eastern Ukraine with Pro-Russia rebels is hurting the economy and driving down consumer spending.

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Oil prices dropped by 42% in 2014, and hit a five and a half year low on Monday. Many analysts are projecting that the price of oil is only going to continue to decrease in the near future. This drop in oil prices is having a drastic effect in a multitude of sectors of the economy, all across the world. What is causing oil prices, which have continually risen in the past decade, to suddenly crash? There is not a single source of this crash, but rather a plurality of causes.

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This past year was considered a significant year for the global airline industry. The disappearance of AirAsia Flight 8501 and the explosion of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in the Ukraine war zone have raised questions about the safety of Asia’s low-cost airliners. Meanwhile, as oil prices drop, the cost of operating airlines will definitely decrease, but it may or may not help the global airline industry.

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After nearly 16 years, European beef will once again be making the trip across the Atlantic to American stores and restaurants. Ireland and its beef industry have become the first from Europe to be granted permission into the United States market, following over a decade long ban on beef from Europe. The ban resulted from the mad cow disease outbreak in the 1990s, and fears that it could begin an epidemic in the United States. The lifting of the ban could be a big help to Irish farmers, as well as the possible reopening of the United States market to all European cattle farmers.

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On December 17, President Obama announced that the United States would normalize relations with Cuba. Before relations are entirely healed, the US Treasury and other related agencies are required to complete certain business-related tasks. The Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control, for example, will enact its treasury specific changes in the form of amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations. The Department of Congress will additionally need to enact changes through amendments to Export Administration Regulations. However, these changes will improve the Cuban private sector as a whole and make it much less difficult for its citizens to access inexpensive goods while becoming more independent from Cuba.

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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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Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan recently returned from a week long business investment trip to China. In an effort to promote international trade, Snyder continued his mission of increasing trade between Michigan and Asian countries. Snyder first embarked on this mission in 2011 and has made trips every year since. He has visited China, Japan and South Korea with a concentration on the automotive industry. He wishes to build a long term relationship to increase business investments.

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Earlier this week, the United States and India were able to reach a breakthrough in negotiations regarding food security issues, which international trade analysts have speculated could lead to an international trade deal worth $1 trillion USD for the global economy. Debates regarding India's food security programs, which the country views as vital for ensuring meals for its poorest citizens, had continued for months since proposals of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) were first made at a World Trade Organization summit in Bali, Indonesia. With the breakthrough achieved, global markets analysts speculate that the achievement not only greatly benefits the policy goals of India and the U.S., but also the WTO and international system as a whole.

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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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President Obama began his week-long trip abroad this Monday in Beijing, where he was attending the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. While at the conference, President Obama unveiled a new visa agreement with the Chinese government. The new agreement extends tourist and business visas from one year to ten years, the longest allowed under US law. Student visas are also extended from one year to five years. The visa reforms went into effect Wednesday, November 14th.

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Amidst the overshadowing election events, a Texas company defied the norm and exported domestic oil to a foreign customer, despite the government ban on exporting crude oil. This ban has been in effect since the 1970’s Arab Oil Embargo crisis. The company, BHP Billiton, struck a deal to sell $50 million worth of a lightweight-oil called condensate to foreign purchasers without government approval. This is the first instance where a company has exported US crude oil without the consent of the government. Since the 1970 ban, the US has kept all crude oil within the country and as a result created a huge surplus in storage. With all of this extra oil build up, companies have been longing to sell it and remove the ban. However, this could have big implications for US consumers of oil.

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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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A recent U.S. Commercial Service event in Los Angeles, California focused on the export and business opportunities available in Europe for U.S. companies. A video highlighting The Discover Global Markets: Europe conference discusses the many takeaways from the conference and provides an overview of specific trade opportunities in the European market. The video also discusses how the U.S. Commercial Service can assist companies in developing a strategy to start or expand a business in Europe.

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A free trade agreement (FTA) is a treaty between two or more countries that reduces trade barriers and encourages transparent trading and investing among member countries. Consistently, free trade agreements have benefited United States exporters by making foreign markets more accessible and by creating a more stable and transparent trade environment. In 2012, nearly half of US goods exports went to FTA partner countries and the US manufacturing sector alone realized a $59.7 billion trade surplus. Currently, the United States has 14 free trade agreements in place with 20 countries and is in the process of negotiating two additional FTAs.

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, are being used more and more in U.S. and U.K. military operations, where manned flight is considered too risky or difficult. Drones are making their way into everyday use as technology gets more sophisticated and regulators loosen restrictions on the usage of these unmanned aircraft vehicles. In the last month, over ten incidents have occurred where drones have interfered with a commercial flight in airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration has attempted to outlaw or limit commercial use of drones, but experts believe there are better ways to regulate usage in a safe manner.

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Leaders from almost 50 African countries and the United States met in Washington DC on Monday, kicking off a three day conference that hopes to boost trade between the US and the largely untapped African continent. The summit highlights the realization by many US officials that greater attention needs to be paid to African countries who hold great economic potential. Leaders at the summit expect many trade and business deals to be signed during the three day conference, with some estimating that over $1 billion worth of deals will be announced by Wednesday. With these deals in hand, US African trade relationships could increase greatly in the coming years.

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Alibaba is a Chinese corporation that operates as a bank, marketplace and a search engine. The company is the largest online retailer in the world, handling 80% of all online retail sales in China. The company handled more money in transactions last year than Amazon and eBay put together. It’s made up of three major websites that have millions of users all over the world. The three main sites are Alibaba.com, Taobao, and Tmall.  Taobao is a shopping website that gives seven million merchants a place to sell, and Tmall is a retail site where major businesses such as Apple and Nike are able to sell products directly to Chinese shoppers. Alibaba does not currently have a date listed for its IPO, but it is expected to go public in early August. It will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Over the years, Vietnam has been consistently at battle with the United States over the trade of catfish. The country’s ability to export catfish for a lesser price has made them a top exporter and caused the domestic industry to contract by 60% in the last decade. With local catfish farmers losing money, a so called war was waged starting in 2008 with the introduction of a catfish inspection program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And although the program has yet to go into effect, numerous Pacific exporters are already protesting its introduction.

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On Monday, June 2nd, the Obama administration announced through the EPA that new rules have been put into effect to reduce carbon pollution by coal and power plants by 30% by 2030. This is a historic occasion, as it marks the first time that the United States government has acted to try and regulate power plant emissions. The new rules have been met with high praise by many environmental groups and activists. However, debate has sparked over the potential economic impact of these rules. While concerns have been voiced over the effects on the coal and energy industries, many economists are also claiming these rules will lead to an overall positive outcome for the U.S. and the world. Here is a closer look.

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For many corporations in the US, having to pay the high corporate tax rate is a problem worth avoiding. In order for these companies to avoid having to pay these taxes, they are reporting profits under the holdings of offshore subsidiaries. There is a lot of speculation that if companies could bring the money back over to the US, it would stimulate the economy and help the United States. In order for this to become reality though, the current tax rate would have to be much lower. There is in fact some myth to this. In order for the money to be considered "offshore" on the financial statements, the money simply has to be under a foreign subsidiary, even if it is invested in a bank in the US like a lot of companies' profit currently is. This allows them to avoid having to pay the US corporate tax rate on their offshore profits, while still having the money accessible in the US.

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Negotiations on the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) heated up over the past week during President Obama’s visit to Asia, although no major breakthroughs in the talks were announced. The negotiations slowed down during the President’s visit to Japan, as talks between the United States and Japan focused on the auto industry; the two countries have long had a rivalry in the auto sector.  Japanese car companies entered and ended the Big Three’s dominance of the US market during the 1970s. This tension has continued today, influencing the trade discussions and preventing the countries from reaching a deal during last week’s negotiations.

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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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On February 19th, President Barack Obama flew to Mexico to meet with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, approximately twenty years after the three nations had signed NAFTA. The goal of the Toluca summit was to attempt to reduce trade frictions and come to agreement on trade conflicts between these countries. Issues discussed included Obama's trade executive order, the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, the "trusted traveler" program, updating NAFTA, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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In his 2010 State of the Union address, United States President Barack Obama announced the US National Export Initiative to improve conditions affecting exporting in the private sector. Obama hoped to double exports by 2014. This would include working to remove trade barriers abroad, help firms and farmers enter new markets, and help with financing. Since the initiative was announced, over a million export-supported jobs have been created and exports have increased by over fifty percent. In 2012, US exports set a record reaching $2.2 trillion, which was 13.9% of overall GDP.

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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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Is it possible to predict the number of medals each country will win in the Winter Olympics by using a combination of economic indicators?  Without economics, predicting the winners would involve an extensive amount of knowledge on numerous sports and athletes. By using an economic model, one does not need extensive knowledge about each sport. In a recent study, Madeleine Andreff and Wladimir Andreff tried to predict the number of medals a country could win in the Winter Olympics by using economics.

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In December of 2013 the Federal Reserve (FED) announced that it would begin to taper its bond-buying program by $10 million per month. As a result of quantitative easing (QE), the FED had been purchasing $85 million in assets in order to stimulate the economy. As the Federal Reserve continues to reduce its monthly purchases, there will be certain effects on globalization. Since tapering was announced, emerging market economies have been struggling. As the FED continues to taper, emerging markets could continue to see and outflow of funds and fluctuations in their currencies.

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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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In December of 2013, American Airlines and US Airways have completed their long awaited merger to create the world’s largest airline. Earlier in 2013, the merger was blocked by the United States Justice Department due to concerns that the merger would adversely affect competition in the airline industry of the United States. In order to reach a settlement, American Airlines and US Airways agreed to give up several hundred gates at airports across the United States. Now the companies expect to save over one billion dollars in synergy with the merger. This merger will undoubtedly have a variety of effects on the global airline industry.

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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.

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The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is offering Michigan food companies multiple opportunities to exhibit within Michigan Pavilions at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Show and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show. The shows offer businesses a unique, helpful, and affordable way to showcase products under the Michigan name, known globally for outstanding quality. In previous years, over $600,000 in actual sales were reported with $3 million in anticipated sales!

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In a world with a clearly-defined gap between developed, larger countries and small countries categorized by political turmoil and radical militant groups, it is difficult to recognize the growth of peace and stability. United States based companies often view currently developing countries as risks due to economic instability. Nevertheless, these low-to-middle income countries are increasingly becoming more stable and present the potential to be beneficial business associates.

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While most Americans view cities such as New York, Los Angeles, or Miami as truly global cities with a wide variety of different cultures, foreign businesses, and spoken languages, a recently released resource titled "Mapping the Nation" reveals that often over-looked cities and counties throughout the United States actually contain more global connections than one would expect. Presented by the Asia Society, Longview Foundation, and SAS Institution, this resources contains data from over 3,000 counties in all 50 states regarding how globally connected Americans are to the greater international system with regards to economic, demographic, and educational factors.

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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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It’s not too early to start planning for 2014! The 2014 year holds an extensive list of Food Export Association activities, programs, and services to help exporters of Michigan food and agricultural products begin or expand their international sales. They provide educational programs, export promotions, customized export assistance, market entry support, and a cost-share funding program. The 2014 Food Export Activity Calendar includes the dates, locations, and other details about buyers’ missions, seminars, focused trade missions, and more!

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Since 1999, the music industry has experienced years of decline and for those who care about the industry, the past decade has been nothing short of a nightmare. With piracy increasing and record sales diminishing, many were worried that the music industry would never recover. However, recent reports from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) shed rays of hope for the music industry. According to these reports, for the first time in 14 years, the global music industry experienced slight growth in trade revenues—increasing by 0.2 percent in 2012. Perhaps better news is that revenues are on pace to grow yet again this year in 2013. Could this signal that the global music industry has finally turned the corner and is poised to experience a new day & age of growth and profits?

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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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Usually unrest in the Middle East translates into booming gas prices for American drivers, but so far the Syrian conflict has had little to no effect on US gas prices.  Slight increases, as of late, in average gas prices nationwide have been attributed to Labor Day weekend and its tendency to induce higher prices at the gas pump.  An increase in the number of fuel efficient cars on the road and a push for sustainable oil consumption are all contributing factors that have kept gas prices in check.

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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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Exports continue to help grow and expand Michigan’s food and agriculture economy, while generating nearly $2.8 billion in economic activity with support from the nation’s second most diverse agriculture industry, strong public and private investment, and a diversified portfolio for food processing. Exports of consumer food products are growing three times faster than sales in the United States due to the foreign consumers’ growing purchasing power and lower trade barriers. Thus, exporting is vital to Michigan companies as an opportunity to increase sales and profits, as 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. Moreover, food and agriculture producers can reduce dependence on existing domestic markets, and off-set slow sales due to economic changes, demands, and cyclic fluctuations resulting in short and long-term security for Michigan.

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For decades, free trade has received major support in the increasingly globalized market. of today. To account for the economic effects of free trade, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has caught the attention of economists and has become one of the most important components of measuring the economy. Since the Great Recession in 2008, most countries, especially the United States, have been experiencing a huge decline in FDI. However, in certain parts of America, we may see a much needed comeback of foreign investments in the next two years.

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Harnessing the energy in shale has created a boom in the markets with enough momentum to alter the global energy industry altogether.  The controversial drilling technique involves fracturing shale formations using water, sand, and other (undisclosed) chemicals to access natural gas.  Entrepreneurial potential coupled with technological innovations from both the public- and private-sectors attract investment to either resource rich regions or competitive hedging projects for returns.

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Last week, the City of Detroit became the largest city to file for bankruptcy in the history of the United States. The once vibrant city, whose roots came from automobiles and music, fell-victim to its financial situation, which includes between $18 to $20 billion in debt. Along with a large amount of debt, Detroit has encountered problems with underfunded pensions, diminishing population, and poor public services. As a result of the bankruptcy, Detroit could experience large legal fees and cuts in its public services and bondholders will be left with pennies on the dollar. Is Detroit just the tip of the iceberg for cities that may file for bankruptcy?

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International Energy Agency (IEA) reported on Tuesday that the shale oil recently found in the United States will help meet most of the world's oil demand in the next five years. It is significant to the world market as well as to the U.S. itself because it eliminates the threat of future energy shortage and reshapes the U.S energy market and its relationship with other countries.

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No matter where you are in the world, the sustainability of almost every economy depends on one critical idea. Young and highly educated workers must be able to fill the void created by an aging population leaving the workforce. In the competitive global economic landscape of today, even highly developed countries cannot afford to slide into downward educational trends. One can obtain great foresight into the future outlook of the global economy by simply comparing international education across industrialized economies. This analysis leads to the discovery of many surprising revelations about the future setting of the global economy.

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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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A few months ago, Zheng wrote a blog post about a possible Trans-Atlantic trade agreement. Recently, talks have been heating up between the United States and the European Union with negotiations on a trade deal likely to begin by the end of June. The free trade agreement, if passed, would remove tariffs and reduce other barriers to trade, spurring economic growth, exports and job creation for both parties. Given the stagnant state of the global economy, there is much excitement over a potential deal and optimism is high that an accord will be reached.

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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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Controversies surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline have arisen yet again due to the pipeline rupture that occurred in Arkansas suburbs just last week. Over 12 thousand barrels of heavy crude oil flowed into a residential neighborhood, rendering about 24 families homeless during the evacuation. Even though an around-the-clock cleanup began last Saturday, what will this mean for Pegasus pipeline, run by Exxon Mobil? And also, how will the leak affect public opinion regarding the implementation of the Keystone XL pipeline?

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Charlie LeDuff’s Detroit: An American Autopsy is brutally honest. In a story filled with corruption, anger, and even laughter, LeDuff goes into detail about the crumbling of an American city, and what is left of it. After leaving a job with the New York Times, LeDuff comes to find what was once a city that represented the American Dream, now rotting and broken.

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Despite looming budget cuts that sequestration has promised for the United States, investors seem unconcerned, considering the record-breaking levels the Dow reached just last week. With help from the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, propping up the market, the Dow reached 14,286.37 last Tuesday to break the previous record of 14,198.10 from October of 2007. Although this is exciting news for investors and publicly traded companies, there are several concerns resounding with this new, record-breaking high.

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Out of the millions of businesses in the United States, only about 1.5 percent of these companies sell their products internationally. Furthermore, over half of these businesses exported to only one foreign market. So what can be done to increase U.S. exports? Doug Barry of the U.S. Commercial Service has the answer. In his book, Exporters! The Wit and Wisdom of Small Business Owners Who Sell Globally, Doug Barry shares 26 success stories from small companies in the United States who made the leap of faith in selling their products abroad. These companies started from small beginnings and now make products for customers throughout the world.

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The shale-gas industry is flourishing in the United States and West African crude oil exporters are being negatively impacted.  Because of the “U.S. shale-gas revolution”, crude oil exports from Angola, Algeria, and Nigeria to the United States have fallen by over 40%.  Thus far, this has led to a decrease in overall crude oil exports from these three countries; however, the increase in supply of sweet crude oil has led existing buyers to increase their purchases and allowed new buyers to enter the market.

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What seemed unthinkable just a half decade ago is now reality. The United States has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest fuel producer. Crude output in the U.S. has hit a 20 year high and has produced the most fuel in the world for the first time since 2002. The United States is producing 11.65 million barrels of liquid fuel a day (which includes crude, refined petroleum products, and biofuels) surpassing the Saudi Arabian output of 11.25 million barrels a day.

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While "made in China" products become wide-spread in the U.S and China-U.S trade continues to grow, the trade between the European Union (EU) and the U.S is actually the driving force behind world trade figures. Indeed, the EU-U.S trade is the largest trade in the world and comprises one-third of all trade, determining the shape of the global economy. Now, the debt crisis in Europe and the desire for American growth are pushing both sides to consider knocking down the barriers to trade. A trans-Atlantic trade talk is underway.

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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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It is no secret that America tops the list of fattest nations. In fact, it is one of the largest stereotypes facing the people of the United States. Yet for the first time, competition has emerged from other nations like Mexico, New Zealand, and Chile and it may even be due to U.S. markets. Both fast food and drug markets are spreading globally, and consequently, so is obesity. With obesity, of course, come related health issues, especially diabetes, which is where the pharmaceutical companies swoop in to save the day while churning out incredible profits.

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While economists have many different ways of observing trade trends (think about looking at GDP changes), one of the best ways is to isolate a specific area and observe that to gain a good picture of it. One such area is the Port of Los Angeles and the clues that it provides about American international trade as a whole.

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Globalization has provided the world economy with an enormous amount of wealth and expansion since it first began in the 1970’s. It slowly progressed throughout the 1980’s up until the fall of the Berlin Wall, which led to a doubling of the global free-market labor force. Since then, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed from 800 in 1979 to over 13,000 by 2007. The era of financial globalization went into effect in 2003, when financial services accounted for 30% of stock market earnings. For the past 3 to 5 years though, we have seen a different trend in globalization and the free flow of capital across borders.

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With the 2014 deadline set for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, franchising consultants are starting to turn their attention toward the prospective market. Besides fast-food chains, there are not many American franchises in Afghanistan, but that may soon change as RadioShack begins to establish ties in the region. Other franchises are following suit, despite depressing property values, capital flight, and other economic woes. The promise among tech-savvy Afghan businessmen may facilitate economic growth, stability, and employment in the suffering region.

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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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As a current college student, I always find myself interested in the huge investment that many students are making in college. This is especially more interesting to me as many nations are experiencing rising unemployment rates and many college students are returning home to live with mom and dad according to a Pew study. Further, the Federal Reserve of the United States just released new data on the debt levels that college students and graduates have accumulated. While this is a problem that is mostly unique to the United States, the European Union and many Asian countries currently subsidize higher education. Therefore all countries should pay attention to this as the subsidies may run out in the near future.

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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 customer is always right. This golden rule of business even resonates with giant corporations—the consumers are the main priority, because without their support, revenue will stop pouring in. For example, if the consumer wants businesses closer to home, that’s what they’re going to get.  The distance problem has initiated a recent trend in outsourcing that can be seen in countries all over the world, most recently India and the United States.

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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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International trade is a very important aspect of the world’s economy in the globalized business climate of today. Less than one percent of all United States businesses export and according to research, the main reason for not exporting is the lack of confidence in selecting the best market for U.S. products. To help solve this issue, the U.S. International Trade Administration has published a book titled Free Trade Agreements: 20 Ways to Grow Your Business available for download on iTunes.

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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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When the financial crisis hit the world in the fall of 2008 most sectors of the economy came crashing down with it. International trade was no different, and by some measures the decline was more pronounced. When world GDP began to contract and hit its bottom in 2009, exports dropped nearly 30%. One would expect a certain amount of withdrawal when a crisis of this magnitude hit but with such a huge drop off the question arises what other factors could have played in? The answer is not as simple as it may seem.

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With the global economy in a slump, there are many industries that are suffering. You do not have to look very far to find news about spending cuts, job loss, and shrinking sales within many sectors. One industry that has managed to escape the blunt of these issues is the automotive industry. A recent report found that auto sales in the United States were the highest in four years, many other countries around the world are experiencing success. Many experts are beginning to ask: is this the beginning of the next big boom for the global auto industry?

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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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While most news headlines involving Mexico revolve around drug cartels, illegal immigration, and law enforcement, economists are noticing a new story south of the border. Trade between the United States and Mexico has been surging recently, including a 17 percent increase to a record level of $461 billion (USD) in 2011. Mexico is currently competing with China for the title of America's second-largest trading partner following Canada, and the Mexican economy became the top investment destination for the aerospace industry this year. Mexico's middle class, which is quickly growing to be the country's majority, has been responsible for much of the trade with the U.S. since they are buying record levels of American goods.

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While the United States has made great strides to increase its exports in the last several years, there is still a lot of untapped potential for more growth abroad. There are already several ways to get government assistance when exporting. All 50 states have Export Assistance Centers that aid US companies who are new to exporting. These centers help companies get in touch with overseas suppliers as well as potential customers abroad along with walking them through the entire exporting process. Still, some argue that more needs to be done to increase US exports.

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In China, the domestic economy is struggling just like the rest of the world with slow sales and declining construction. The cost of labor has also increased drastically, with wage rates increasing upwards of 15% in some cases, year over year. Compared to May of last year though, exports have increased 15.3 percent, twice as fast as economists had predicted. How are Chinese companies finding success when Europe is in a debt crisis and the United States is still recovering from rampant unemployment though? Easy – exporting and automation.

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Earlier this month a report from The Brookings Institution was released with some useful data. The data, while slightly obvious, came to the conclusion that the majority of our cities and metro areas are the factories of our nations export output. Some of the notable data points include:

- 100 metro areas generated 84% of U.S. exports in 2010
- Exports increased 11% in 2010, the fastest increase since 1997
- Jobs supported by exports rose 6% in 2010, while the overall economy lost jobs during 2010.

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To compete in the global economy, a country’s workforce must be knowledgeable, well-trained, and understand the complexities as well as the benefits created by globalization. It’s true that accomplishing these objectives is easier said than done but in our hands lies a great tool to assist us with these goals—and this great tool is simply education. Just as globalization has changed business around the world, it is also changing education. A common trend in higher education policy is the internationalization of education to help students live, work, and be successful in today’s interconnected global economy.

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Around the world many small businesses are beginning to take advantage of global opportunities by exporting their products abroad and finding new markets in different countries. With many opportunities to find business partners overseas, finding the right path to take may prove to be a difficult task. However in the United States, there are many government export promotion programs that assist small to medium sized firms succeed and find the right opportunities in these new markets. One program in particular is the International Trade Administration. Doug Barry of the Trade Information Center and the U.S. Commercial Service recently sat down with a technology company from Maryland to discuss the benefits it gained from using export assistance programs.

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Work-life balance has always been a priority for employees, but not all workplaces have given it the same respect. The amount of vacation time and the number of hours employees are required to work in a week vary greatly across the world. Much of this is a result of cultural differences and tradition, but it also can greatly affect the productivity and happiness of workers. Overworked and unhappy employees can be extremely unproductive. There are many theories and methods for improving morale, but one of the simplest ones is limiting the amount of time employees are working. Sounds simple right? For many employers, it hasn’t been so easy.

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The US Commercial Service is hosting a webinar to highlight the new opportunities and positive outcomes from the recent free trade agreement with Korea. The U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement took effect earlier this month on March 15th and has provided many new business and trade possibilities. Billions of dollars in tariffs are expected to be eliminated due to this new agreement. It is estimated that up to 95% of bilateral trade with Korea will be duty free within the next 5 years. This will benefit a wide variety of industries: agriculture, services, financial services, and more!

This webinar, which will detail more specific benefits, will be held on April 12th from 2-3pm EST and does require a $15 fee along with registration. To find out more information and details about the webinar, please visit the export.gov website. Here you will also find information on how to register for the webinar event!

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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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Over the past years, free trade agreements have proven to be one of the most effective ways to open up foreign markets for businesses looking to export overseas. Trade agreements help reduce barriers for these businesses and eliminate costly tariffs on imports. The creation of more transparent trading promoted by free trade agreements also contributes to an easier environment for the exporting of goods and services. This past week, the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement entered into full force, creating many opportunities for increased trade between the two countries.

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As globalization increases, small businesses are gaining many opportunities to export their products overseas. However, less than two percent of all United States companies export to foreign markets. With the National Export Initiative, the United States plans to turn this surprising fact around and double U.S. exports within the upcoming years. Small businesses can play a crucial role in helping the United States accomplish its exporting goals. In fact, some small businesses in the United States have already found success in markets abroad.

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With the National Export Initiative, the United States is seeking to double exports by the end of 2014. However, the typical United States manufacturing exporter sells to less than five buyers in overseas markets. Many people may assume that the responsibility of meeting the ambitious export goal lies in the hands of large businesses and corporations in America. While partially true, there are other businesses in the United States that are already stepping up to the challenge. These businesses are the small businesses all over the country that are being driven by entrepreneurship, creativity, and hard work.

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With many concerns and debates regarding climate change, countries around the world are looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions. These carbon emissions happen to be the leading cause of climate change and large coal-burning industries are mostly responsible. One way to reduce these harmful emissions involves a new technology that captures carbon dioxide from the air and pumps it directly underground for permanent storage. This project was operated in Germany, Scotland, and the United States with little success. However, the two largest consumers of carbon dioxide, China and the United States, are investigating a new way to reduce carbon output and are looking toward a surprising industry for this solution.

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With the United States setting a goal to double exports in the next four years, small businesses play a very important role in accomplishing this mission. The National Export Initiative, the official title of this export growth objective, has a website designed to help small businesses export products to new markets and attain business growth abroad. Doug Barry of the U.S. Department of Commerce is an expert in exporting strategy for small businesses and has helped many small businesses accomplish their exporting goals. Last week, we posted a blog about an interview with Doug Barry where he explains how a small bio-business used international markets to achieve remarkable levels of business growth. This week, Doug Barry has conducted additional interviews where he shares his small business expertise and knowledge.

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For small businesses, exporting products to new markets may appear unattainable.  With assistance from partners such as the U.S. Commercial Service, business leaders with minimal international experience can soon learn the basics of exporting.  This can be an enormous opportunity for business growth, attainable without unnecessary levels of risk.  Jim Blasingame of “The Small Business Advocate” recently sat down with Doug Barry, the Director of Marketing and Communication for the U.S. Commercial Service, to discuss such a success story.  One small bio-business used international markets to quickly achieve levels of wealth that otherwise would have seemed impossible. 

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This past week, the United States passed a trio of free trade agreements removing trade barriers with the countries of Panama, South Korea, and Colombia. The free trade agreements will have many impacts on international trade tendencies between these countries as the pacts will essentially eliminate tariffs faced by exporters in all four countries. Exports of each country are expected to rise as a result of the agreements and many businesses small or large will be able to compete in new markets abroad. The trade relationships between each country will dramatically change as the new trade agreements mark the biggest opportunity for exporting businesses in decades.

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

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Exciting news! The United States Trade and Development Agency, in coordination with the U.S.-Egypt Business Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Egyptian Embassy and the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce, will be hosting a two-day forum on June 27-28 to encourage enhanced trade and sustainable economic development in Egypt. This conference, being held this year in Washington D.C., will provide an unprecedented opportunity to foster increased cooperation and trade between the United States and Egypt by encouraging business-to-business networking and highlighting commercial opportunities and financing resources.

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With its close proximity to Canada and Mexico, most United States exporters export to only one market and unsurprisingly this market is usually Canada. However, many smaller companies that work with the U.S. Commercial Service have found other great markets filled many new customers. Some of the best markets with countless opportunities for U.S. companies are Vietnam, India, Indonesia, India, China, Taiwan and Thailand. You can learn more about these markets by watching these videos on India, Indonesia, and Vietnam posted on the Export.gov website. With these videos, you will learn about some of the many sectors in these markets where U.S. companies are competitive. In the videos, you will also be introduced to the top U.S. commercial diplomats in these markets who will help your company evaluate and enter exciting new markets.

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With unemployment in America still hovering near 9 percent, many Americans are upset that companies are offshoring jobs to countries such as China. However, according to a new analysis by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), there is a “manufacturing renaissance” on the United States’ horizon.

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Over a quarter million small businesses in the United States export their products and services to other countries around the world. By doing so these businesses increase their revenues, broaden and diversify their customer base, and provide jobs for their local communities. The United States has set a goal to double exports by 2014 in order to support the addition of two million jobs for the American workforce and encourage economic growth. To reach this goal and help small businesses further increase their exports, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of Commerce, and the Small Business Administration have released a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Tariff Tool.

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Pecans have long been a steady source of income for farmers in the United States.  Southern farmers produce two-thirds of the world’s supply and U.S. consumers have been the main source of their business.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the current price of $2.14 per pound for pecans is nearly twice as high as three years ago.  What has caused this sharp spike and what does the future hold for the pecan industry? 

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Over the last 100 years, transportation has taken some significant leaps.  With the invention of the car and its proliferation to countries around the world, individuals were empowered to go where they wanted, when they wanted.  However, as the boundaries of distance decreased with an increase in vehicle quality and reliability, so did the world’s desire to travel even further and at greater speeds.  The latest potential advance in human transportation is the proliferation of high-speed rail.

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Qatar has said it is looking at spending $100 billion as it is currently trying to revamp its infrastructure in preparation for the 2022 World Cup.  In response to the government of Qatar’s request, the United States government is sponsoring a trade mission to Qatar in June this year.  The country has been growing rapidly and is looking to build multiple new stadiums to host the event.  The growth potential in this country and for this trip is phenomenal.

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For just about as long as any living person can remember, Bollywood and Hollywood have both been producing movies and been dominating their respective countries and audiences.  As far as Bollywood goes, many people in the U.S. view this burgeoning industry as a distant neighbor (although Bollywood was created 11 years before Hollywood, in the 19th century no less) of our hallowed Hollywood. In some sad cases people think it is just a misspelling of Hollywood.  With both Hollywood and Bollywood having already survived over a century each and the massive trend towards globalization, most people would think the similarities between the two would be great.  In actuality, the difference is vast.

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A recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau highlights the U.S. Trade deficit for 2010. This report is very straight-forward and shows the change in the trade balance throughout the years. As most everybody knows, the U.S. has been running a large trade deficit (i.e. they have been importing more then they export) for several years now. The report gives us a good starting point to understand where the deficit is coming from and some of the reasons behind it.

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After the official unpegging of the Renminbi (Also referred to as the yuan) to the dollar mid-way through last year, China has surprisingly started to increase the flexibility of the Renminbi and is actively encouraging the globalization of the currency.  Much of this change has come for two reasons. The first is as China has become the world’s second largest domestic economy, the need for a globalized currency becomes exponentially more important. Also, international pressures on the Renminbi and China, especially from the U.S., have started to force change.

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The Wall Street Journal had a very interesting piece for their “The Saturday Essay” this past week. It reflected on the cultural differences in parenting styles; written from the perspective of Amy Chua – a Chinese mother who is also a professor at Yale Law School. While it is written to contrast mostly American parents, I believe (and so does the author) that the article can be viewed from a completely global perspective.

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There are many markets for U.S. goods in the Middle East and North Africa but the largest single market happens to be relatively new. Formed in the 1970s, the United Arab Emirates is the largest single market for U.S. goods in the region and the 19th largest market globally. The United Arab Emirates is a federation composed of seven states located on the Arabian peninsula. As new, large-scale infrastructure projects continue to develop, this market will remain a prominent source of opportunities for United States exporters.

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A few weeks ago, President Obama discussed progress made on an important goal of the United States. Over the next five years, the American economy is looking to double its exports and support the creation of many new American jobs. The first step of this process began with the implementation of the new U.S. export control system in August of 2010. Now, President Obama’s Administration is deploying its Export Control Reform Initiative webpage at export.gov. This website has helped the United States make remarkable gains on its plan to double national exports.

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As we kick off our International Flower Market blog series at globalEDGE this week, I thought I should do a brief article talking about the history of flowers, specifically from an economic perspective. This is pretty intriguing because as a commodity flowers have no intrinsic, economic value. They just have value as decoration and whatever other cultural values are placed on them. That being said, the flower market is currently a $32.5 billion industry. Looks like flowers are much more than just a hobby for retirees.

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Wondering where to go next? The answer is easy, Korea. Approaching the top ten largest economies in the world, it is often overlooked because of its physical distance and the close proximity of its big brothers China and Japan. In fact, Korea has recently doubled its GDP and its imports from the United States. So while recent news may be bringing adverse attention to Korea, it is starting to bring to the spotlight an economy that is growing and is expected to soon become a major economic partner of the United States.

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The Wall Street Journal brought together CEOs of 100 major corporations to discuss their thoughts on recent economic challenges. During the meeting in Washington D.C., CEOs argued that the only way to increase jobs in the United States is to embrace increased global trading relationships. This plan would necessitate government and business leaders to work together and promote free-trade agreements that would open doors to international markets.

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By supporting India for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, President Barack Obama positioned the United States for a long-term political and economic partnership with the emerging Asian nation. While much focus has been put on the political alignment of the United States and India against their rivals in China and Pakistan, there are also great opportunities for business partnerships to emerge. As is often the case, strengthened political ties may lead to strengthened economic ties as well.

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Just recently, on November 8, 2010, gold reached its non-inflation adjusted high of $1,400 per ounce. As shown in this chart by Kitco, gold has been increasing at a very rapid pace in the past year. This has prompted many investors to say that gold could potentially be the next “bubble,” or a security that has a huge increase in price only to suddenly “pop” and decrease rapidly in price. However, there is evidence to contradict these fears, especially in the U.S. bond markets.

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Despite the tendency to think otherwise, it is possible for businesses of any size to have a successful strategy centered on exporting products overseas. While many entrepreneurs and small business owners may believe that they cannot possibly develop a successful international business strategy due to a lack of knowledge about foreign customers, poor foreign language skills, or size constraints, experts in the field of international business would urge them to push those doubts aside. 

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If you watched the news recently, you would have probably noticed a huge event happening in Chile. In case you haven’t heard, 33 miners went to work in the San Jose Mine (used for the mining of raw copper) for what was supposed to be a ten hour shift. The roof of the mine ended up collapsing on them. Fortunately, after spending 69 days underground, all of the miners have been rescued from their earthen prison safe and sound. Now that this saga has finished its final chapter, perhaps the greatest impact experts in the Mining, Minerals, and Metals industry hope it has was best summed up by Alonso Contreras (a cousin of one of the trapped miners): “Hopefully no one ever again has to do anything like this.”

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Many small business owners in the United States struggle to successfully export products to global markets. Without expertise in dealing with international markets, it may be challenging to develop a business plan that is well-suited for customers around the world. Doug Barry of the Trade Information Center at the United States Department of Commerce recently interviewed one man who set an example for other small business leaders to follow.

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The United States has long been known as a global powerhouse when it comes to innovation – especially when it comes to manufacturing. These innovations may not necessarily be products (although some certainly were) but, rather, just tweaks to the manufacturing process that greatly improved efficiency (think of interchangeable parts or the assembly line, both developed by Americans). However, in today’s global economy, the United States is losing jobs in the industrial manufacturing sector, despite still being on the forefront of innovation. Many claim that this is simply because of the lower wages required in other countries, but is that the only reason why?

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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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Last week I had a unique opportunity to hear the Korean Ambassador to the United States, Han Duk-soo, speak at a luncheon in East Lansing, Michigan. The event was sponsored by the Global Business Club of Mid-Michigan. The ambassador has been traveling to various locations throughout the Midwest to tout the benefits of passing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Korea. Currently, the agreement has been tabled by Congress due to other higher priority matters.

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It can be done! Creating jobs back home while increasing sales overseas is possible and United Solar Ovonic has proved it. United Solar Ovonic is a Michigan based company that creates and exports solar panels and has recently begun a joint venture with United Solar Ovonic Jinneng in China. They develop lightweight, flexible solar panels. They are great, not to mention green, energy producers so it’s no wonder that this business has been booming.

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In February 2009, the U.S.-Peru trade promotion agreement (TPA) went into effect. The TPA has had some exciting effects for many U.S. companies. Doug Barry of the U.S. Commercial Service interviewed John Simmons, the Department of Commerce’s senior commercial officer in Lima, about how the TPA is helping U.S. businesses.

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Recently Jim Glasingame of The Small Business Advocate talked with Doug Barry of the US Commercial Service about the US National Export Initiative. The United States has announced that they want to double the number of exports as well as increase jobs at home. The reality is that a lot of US companies do not export as well as they could, or to as many places as they could. Research shows that most companies that actually do participate in exporting only export to one country. There are so many opportunities all around the world that businesses are not taking advantage of.

Luckily, the US Commercial Service is willing to help businesses. They have offices in countries all over the world and are passionate about helping businesses expand internationally. Want more information? Go to export.gov or listen to this interview here!
 

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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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This week is National Small Business Week in the United States! This yearly tradition began in 1963 and has continued ever since. Its objective is to recognize how small businesses contribute to the growth of America. This year’s Small Business Week conference began Sunday and just finished up today. Some of the topics discussed at this year’s conference were ‘turning innovation into jobs’, ‘taking your business global’, and ‘social media and small businesses’.

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What do Michigan and China have in common?  They are both involved in the production of a triple junction amorphous crystalline solar cell. In layman’s terms, solar energy.  These roof-mounted solar cells will generate much more electricity than silicon because of it is lightweight and flexible structure which holds up more efficiently in real-world conditions.

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Poultry farmers all over the globe are running into serious problems with the waste from chickens, which is real trouble when it gets into the water supply. Years back John Logan, a farmer from Prentiss, Mississippi, noticed the same problem. In an interview with NPR radio he recalled, "I said, 'I got to do something.' I can't be putting this on the ground. Now, I have a river right here. What's to happen when that phosphorus overload washes into the river, which then ends up in the Gulf of Mexico?"

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Just over six years ago, a “state of the art” free trade agreement (FTA) was signed between the United States and Chile. Since that time, a nearly perfect model of bilateral trade has ensued. In fact, the projected growth between the two countries was between 18% and 52%. Would you believe that the actual growth over this period is over 345%?! Free trade agreements have often been a source of debate because of the potential environmental and human rights impacts they have had in the past. How has this FTA impacted each country?

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Now-a-days, students have the opportunity to study in numerous countries. Each year, thousands of students travel abroad to enhance their academic and cultural experiences. Open Doors Institute of International Education’s 2009 International Educational Exchange was released on November 16th. It included everything from leading destinations and primary sources of funding to regions and popular fields of study.

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Poultry has been traded globally for years. Each individual country can not possibly produce everything it needs, making this trade a necessity. Of course, that does not mean that there hasn't been any problems. There are several past examples of poultry trade gone wrong, but as a result standards are higher, making trading less of a risk.

In 2004, China and the United States had a major rift in their chicken trades and there has been tension ever since. The initial problems were a result of the bird flu outbreaks. Following that, both countries temporarily banned the trade of poultry from one another. Soon after, China lifted their ban, but it was another two years before the U.S. followed suit. Around the same time, Thailand chicken exports were suffering because several countries refused to buy their chicken because of past outbreaks, even after the products have been inspected and deemed safe. It seems that there will always be tension over poultry trade.

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As the Trade North America Conference continues, it is important to understand the nuances of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which make the implementation of NAFTA’s goals possible. One of the largest barriers to getting the agreement passed, and which still creates issues today are the legal issues surrounding the agreement, as well as how it deals with the differing legal systems of each of the countries involved.

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Jamal Qureshi never imagined the success he would have when he immigrated to the United States a few years ago from his native city of Bhopal, India. Now he is doing business in the same city he grew up in, just from the opposite end of the world. Qureshi is the CEO of JQ American in Hayward, California, an exporter of products and services in the energy, medical, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries. The unique part of JQ American is that they sell to a whopping 16 countries, while most small and medium sized U.S. firms only export to one international market. So how was all this possible?

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A recent ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) has those in the U.S. entertainment industry rejoicing. The ruling would force China to open the channels of distribution to free enterprise. This means that those from the U.S. in the entertainment business will be have their work distributed in a manner which should yield more profits. The ruling will play a major role in the complex relationship between China and the U.S. entertainment industry.

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China has three main goals it weighs when considering where to invest its vast sums of money. Those goals are “safety, liquidity, and profitability - in that order.” For many years, the result of this strategy has been to invest heavily in U.S. Treasury notes. As the Middle Kingdom’s coffers began to fill with dollar-denominated debt, the financial well-being of the entire nation began to be increasingly tied to the strength of the U.S. dollar. So it should not come as a surprise that declines in dollar value that have occurred in recent years have been met with consternation by the Chinese.

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U.S. and Peruvian exporters received good news last February, when a new trade promotion agreement between the countries took effect. The agreement has a number of upsides for both countries, such as the fact that 80% of U.S. goods exported to Peru now enter duty-free.

Check out this interview from the International Trade Administration for more details on how your business can take advantage of the agreement.

You can also learn about other trade agreements with Latin America in this interview from the Small Business Advocate

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Solutions to this economic mess may seem to necessitate complex plans, but a deceptively simple old visa program is starting to garner growing attention as a means to lift especially troubled areas of the U.S. out of their economic woes.

It works like this: immigrants invest $500,000 in a new or struggling business via an approved regional center, get green cards for their families, don't have to manage day-to-day issues with the businesses, and get to pull their money out after 2 years if they pass an audit. Sounds good?

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Passport requirements have been a complicated issue for travelers in North America. Starting June 1, 2009, new travel requirements will be implemented by the USA which will consequently have an effect on Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and 17 nations in the Caribbean region. The WHTI (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) will require all persons to present a valid passport when entering the USA by land or sea. As of 2007 these requirements have been in effect for air travel. Because of a friendly border crossing agreement, the Canada Border Services does not require U.S. citizens to present a passport when driving to Canada. This agreement used to be mutual, however the USA wants to strengthen border security and standardize travel documentation.

These new regulations will have a tremendous economic effect on the involved nations. Canada will feel the change more strongly than the USA since a bigger percentage of Canadians have passports compared to Americans. The changes will not affect business travel as much as leisure trips. Niagara Falls, Windsor, Toronto, and Montreal are among some of the most visited places in Canada. Furthermore, the summer is a popular period for many who live close to the border to go on camping trips in Canada. During the summer of 2009, however, there will probably be a huge decrease in travel. The WHTI is expected to lower U.S. travel receipts by close to $800 million (compared to data from five years ago) in the two years following full implementation. Furthermore, according to a report prepared by The Conference Board of Canada, U.S. travel to Canada is expected to fall by approximately 3.2 million trips and the Canada-USA trips by 7.4 million. This report however was prepared at a time when the world was not facing a financial crisis. Consequently, it is now expected that travel would fall by even bigger numbers.   

Tourism in North America will most likely face a not so profitable season this summer while travelers try to find their way through the confusion of new travel documents.

 

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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 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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The average Frenchman works about 18 hours per week, the average Italian – close to 17. Even Europe’s biggest workaholics – the British – don’t work as much as Americans (21 hrs a week for the average British compared to 25 for the average American). Europeans have been astonished by the amount of time Americans are willing to spend in the office -  how can Americans not want to take off a whole month in the summer to go on a vacation? Well, workers in Japan are even more extreme when it comes to work. If you are thinking about getting a job in Japan – think again! Japanese workers are known to work about 12 hours a day! Yes, you can leave at 5.30pm when the day is over but you might get many bewildered and disapproving looks.

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Lists are interesting creatures - some find them informative while others simply disregard them. The 2nd annual list of the top 5,000 fastest growing private companies in the U.S. is an interesting follow-up to the recent Global Entrepreneurship Series on our blog. The list is a comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy - America's independent-minded entrepreneurs. Taken as a whole, these companies represent the backbone of the U.S. economy.

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As the executives of the Big 3 in Detroit - General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler - fly in their private jets to Washington in order to ask for public funds, they should consider this: a bail-out may not be the best way to revive the auto industry! The problems being faced by the Big 3 are not only a result of hard economic times, but also an inevitable conclusion of poor business practices. There are a number of things the auto industry must do to get itself back on track, and a check for $25 billion isn’t one of them. Such a measure will only prolong the inevitable collapse.

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Recently President Bush and heads of state from 11 other nations in the Western hemisphere met in New York to sign the Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas initiative. The agreement focuses on further cementing regional “trade and investment liberalization, social inclusion, development, rule of law, and democracy.” Although the agreement is largely symbolic at this point, talks are planned for the end of the year to discuss possible policy changes that can advance the goals of the initiative. In his formal announcement of the agreement, president Bush declared that the deal provided “a forum where leaders can work to ensure that the benefits of trade are broadly shared,” and expressed optimism that cooperation would enhance and strengthen the relations between all signatory nations.

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In the midst of a housing bubble, sub-prime mortgage crisis, an unpopular war, and the stock market steadily declining, it stands to reason that many Americans, nay, citizens of the world are worried about the future of the financial world. Our business world has been built on the "magic of the market" and "success of the fittest," which provided the booms throughout the century that shaped the contemporary market. However, in an article by Breitbart, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd argues, the global economic crisis is a result of the "comprehensive failure of extreme capitalism."

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For many years Americans looked at Europe as a place for vacation and not as a place for economic innovation. However, recent events have proved them wrong – Europeans have proven themselves better at solving financial problems.

Many Europeans feel very triumphant now as Leon Brittan, who served as Home Secretary under Margaret Thatcher and was a top official at the European Commission, says that "There’s no doubt that it was a British plan that was copied by the U.S." As the financial crisis deepened, Europeans came up with a bailout plan that has set up the pace for Washington. This was clear when the Treasury Department decided to depart from its own bailout plan and invest up to $250 billion in banks across the United States. And that outcome left Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, in something of a commanding position to claim the title of wise men.

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Forget the change of socks; business travelers may need to pack a change of laptop. 

In mid-July 2008, United States Customs and Border Protection passed the “Policy Regarding Border Search of Information” concerning the search of information contained in documents and electronic devices.  The Policy sets forth the legal and policy guidelines within which officers may search, review, retain and share certain information possessed by individuals crossing the United States border.  The policy applies to anyone entering the country – citizens and noncitizens alike.

What does this mean for international business people?

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President Bush achieved one of his top legislative priorities Wednesday, but the magnitude of the occasion may have been obscured by other news. What I’m referring to, of course, is the US-India civilian nuclear agreement.

The nuclear deal is the culmination of an initial joint statement between President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which was signed in 2006. For the past two years President Bush and Prime Minister Singh have trudged through domestic opposition, international hurdles, and legal bureaucracy to produce a finalized agreement. The pact allows full nuclear cooperation between the United States and India, as well as opening up the Indian market to US nuclear technology suppliers. The necessity of the seal of approval by the Nuclear Suppliers Group also makes it a de facto recognition of India’s status as a legitimate nuclear power, despite their abstinence from the NPT.

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Animal friendly products or the new thing on the market? Salads that are on a blue table or salads on a red table? Loaf of bread or sliced up bread? Cheese slices wrapped in plastic or not?

Dutch lab researchers try to figure out what people eat and how to influence their habits. They study the influences on eating in order to be able to find ways to make products more appealing and to direct consumers to healthier choices.

The $4.5 million Restaurant of the Future is run by scientists of Wageningen University and Research Center, working with Sodexo, an international catering firm, and the Noldus software company, to answer questions from the food industry and behaviorists.

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The credit crisis that has been a major issue in the United States lately has spread fear through European governments as they saw the need to step in with a flurry of major bank bailouts in different countries from Iceland to Germany. The governments of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands have been taking partial control of some of their national banks. Furthermore, the government of Iceland seized control of Glitnir bank – the third largest in the country. However, these rapid bailouts are not making banks in Europe feel more secure as they keep on refusing to lend to each other money for all but the shortest periods of time. Meanwhile, shares are falling heavily and the money markets remain frozen.

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

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Never before has the American auto industry witnessed such a myriad of harmful factors that came about with the swiftness and magnitude of the present situation. The credit crunch, soaring gas prices, and an unprecedented collapse in demand for large trucks and SUVs all tangled together to create a perfect storm. The already ailing automakers are now struggling to cope with an 11% slide in U.S. sales so far this year. In the rest of the world, auto sales are either growing or experiencing a much more modest drop. Yet the financial collapse and rising oil costs are worldwide phenomena. So what makes the U.S. so much different?

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