With saturated markets in Europe and North America, industrial firms are turning to other parts of the world to bring their craft and technology, and to maintain their growth. And right in the middle of their scope lies Africa. The size and magnitude of industrial and infrastructural project in Africa have been on the steady rise over the past years, enough to turn the continent into a new business hunting ground.
Both because of the cliché of African poverty and because of higher-economic profile countries such as China or Brazil, uninformed readers may believe that Africa’s growth is sluggish, or even dormant. Nothing could be further from the truth, with some African countries posting growth rates neighboring 10%, far beyond the champions of Asia or Latin America. In fact, even when factoring in the sluggish or war-ridden areas of the continent, Sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest developing area in the world. Some of this growth is due to post-conflict reconstruction, some due to renewed political governance. But with the vastest natural resources in a ever-hungrier world, the road is open for Africa to maintain its steady growth and attract increasing attention from foreign investors. Economic expert Krispinana Shirima Krispinana explains (1): “Although concerns exist regarding the negative effects of foreign capital inflows, including Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and portfolio equity and debt flows, a variety of empirical studies have demonstrated that the inflows stimulate economic growth with the transfer of new technologies and innovations, human capital formation, and integration in global markets.”
With wanting areas of development, and stabilized conditions foreign investors will be the key to unlocking projects. The Ethiopian Herald reports the effectiveness of foreign funds investment (2): “Ethiopia has continued becoming investors’ choice. It is attracting more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from time to time. Particularly, textile and garment manufacturing industries, as the sectors are labour intensive, they create millions of job opportunities, and help transfer technology.” Even with the period of peace and stability, little or nothing will happen without FDIs, due to lack of available native funds from the African private sector. A playground is a necessary condition to play, but not sufficient to launch the game.
Business day highlighted this dilemma (3) in its February 2017 analysis : “Between 2010-2016, Africa recorded $22.7billion in private equity transactions, reports the Financial Times (FT), representing only about 1% of global PE investments despite a contribution of roughly 3% to global GDP. Furthermore, the majority of the transaction capital came from a few big investment firms targeting a limited number of deals.” This entails that a vast majority of investments are injected by the public sector, with often reduced efficiency, exposure to graft and dependence upon international aid.
Africa has succeeded in turning its difficulties into opportunities. With less than half the continent electrified, save Northern Africa, lack of access to reliable power has plagued economic development for years. Today, numerous projects are coming out of the ground with off-grid powering solutions. Expansion of water networks or transportation networks, which suffer years of belated maintenance, is currently picking up. “A doubling of Ethiopia’s road network in two decades, has allowed more farmers to bring their produce to market”, the Overseas development Institute published in a recent report (4), stressing the impact on the general economy of the country “On average, Ethiopia’s economy is growing at 10% a year and it is expected to double within the next seven years. This means that by 2025, it will have grown to a middle-income nation. This is as reported by World Bank.” In fact, off-grid power solutions are on the rise in Europe also, where households seek to take part in environmental progress by producing their own power; so, Africa may prove to be the test lab and launching pad of the nascent technology, which Europe will then absorb with its high purchasing power.
Moreover, an increasing number of reforming and corruption-fighting leaders are at work in Africa and getting traction, according to many experts. Patrick Couzinet, director of Veolia Water Technology for Africa, gives great importance to the link between governance and economic perspectives: “In terms of development, economics and politics are one. And we are at the beginning of a new phase of stability, development and growth, with projects ready for every industry to strive on; from communications to transport, and from energy to tourism”. Throughout African 20th century, there has been many examples of development eras snapped short by revolts and instability sparked off by one political group. And when stability was assured, it has often been the silver lining of locked political interests, with a high cost to economic development. The political layer within countries often has more nuisance power than added value: it is difficult for the political establishment to develop by itself, but it can hamper development by itself. According to Patrick Couzinet, this threat is slowly drifting away from Africa, through reforms and structuration.
If anything is to confirm that the African continent is sizzling, it is the increase in foreign investments from China and from Western countries. Several post-crisis reconstruction phases are currently in progress, which yield high growth rates, just as the post-war reconstruction efforts pushed Germany and Japan to the top of the world’s economic ranking. And because the project under way are basic infrastructural equipment, it is very likely that it will bear further economic growth. There will therefore be many business opportunities for British and European businesses, due to Africa’s need for technological transfer.
Financial Economists & Analysts Point Out Important 2018 Economic Indicators
Economic growth in the United States has been on a general upward tick for several years. Many people have long been claiming that a recession – however mild or severe – is long overdue. As time continues to pass, some financial analysts point to the increased likelihood of a downward turn in 2018.
Nevertheless, there are many indicators for 2018 that suggest a mixed bag of news. Whether you are planning on pursuing a career in economics, wanting to safeguard investments, or merely want to shore up your position in the job market, it’s important to know what to expect. Let’s review what financial analysts are saying 2018 has in store for us.
Overall GDP Growth: Steady
One of the biggest forecasting factors – simple GDP growth – isn’t forecast to change all that much in the upcoming year. In the United States, the national economy is expected to grow by between 1.7 and 2.5 percent, putting it right in the middle of both 2016 and 2017’s economic growth numbers.
However, it is worth noting that financial analysts have cut growth figures in recent months; a recent report in July released by the IMF lowered GDP growth by roughly one-quarter of a percentage point over previous estimates. Because GDP growth is broad-based, its effects on the economy can be very encompassing and yet hard to feel in any one industry or niche.
With each passing year, more and more skilled laborers enter the workforce. 2018 is poised to be a record-setting year in this regard, with online educational institutions fueling the pursuit of degrees in financial economics, chemistry, health-related fields, and dozens of other industries.
According to the Online Learning Consortium, one in four college students are currently enrolled in one or more online classes. Analysts are expecting this number to reach 30% in 2018, as the cost of brick-and-mortar institutions continues to increase rapidly; an online MFE program is much cheaper than a traditional master’s degree.
Inflation and Commodities
Two additionally important factors in economic health are inflation rates and commodities prices.
Even in an economy that is growing, high inflation rates can completely wipe out the benefits normally earned through such conditions. Fortunately, inflation has been under control in the US for some time and will continue to remain that way in 2018. As the Federal Reserve plans to increase interest rates toward the end of the year, a small increase in inflation may occur, but it is expected to remain within the two-percent ball park for 2018.
Commodities, on the other hand, have been clearly on a downward trend thanks to a recovering economy. Items such as oil and gold will in all likelihood remain reasonably priced in 2018, according to leading financial analysts. According to those with masters in financial economics and those working for top-tier firms, these items tend to decline when the economy is in strong shape. This is yet another good indicator for a stable economic climate heading into 2018.
All in all, 2018’s economic forecast according to analysts and economists appears to be on the right track. This dynamic will help provide further stability to markets and ensure that everything from job hunts to the stock market remains in a solid position for the next year.
The EU Commission seeks to ban cash: A cashless democratic sham?
Belgium, Denmark, France, Canada, the UK, Sweden and many other countries from the Eurozone and Western world are amongst the most prominent countries to move away from cash, namely due to the large availability of other types of payment. And yet, the EU Commission continues to push towards even less cash and fantasizes on killing it completely off. Why the obstinacy? Is cash giving governmental agencies an itch because it escapes their control?
In the Netherlands, 85% of transactions are cashless: transfers, debit, e-payment, etc. take the cake. It doesn’t result from a ban on cash, but a country where 98% of citizens have debit cards is bound to take it easy on currency. In Sweden, cashless transactions amount to even more. The cashless world champion is Belgium, where only 7% of transactions are carried out in cash. Cashless-support Robert Colville recently published (1) an OpEd in which he wrote: “it’s about not just cash but credit cards themselves disappearing – about paying for whatever we like with the wave of a phone or the blink of a biometrically-verified eye. That future is coming sooner than we think”. As more options opened up to the public to make their payments, the more digitally developed populations slowly adopted them, reducing gradually the use of cash. Much to their government’s delight.
India violently pushed the envelope in the end of 2016, when the Prime Minister announced overnight that almost all banknotes would be null and void within a few weeks. The BBC announced (2): “In an unscheduled televised address on 8 November Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the nation just four hours notice that 500 ($7.30; £6) and 1,000 rupee notes would no longer be legal tender. People were told they could deposit or change their old notes in banks until 30 December and new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes would be issued.”. This set off an earthquake in a country where a large share of the population has no debit card, cell phone or even access to a nearby bank.
The Indian PM announced the move was intended to fight corruption, crime, terrorism, as well as to modernize the country. However, the reason simpler, yet more complex. The Indian government, like just about any other government in the world, is trying to force its citizens under more of its control. From a governmental point of view, complete control means more taxation earnings, more powerful means to tackle crime, and better population control.
National governments, international governmental bodies and interstate agencies all want to kill cash, so as to close the loop on their control over populations. Because cash is the only true peer-to-peer payment vector, killing cash means a citizen has nowhere to hide from governmental control. This explains why, as the cash-killing pressure grows from governments, alternate currencies such as bitcoins continue to develop: citizens who see governmental hyper-power as a threat to their liberties move to the only place where they can be left alone. Bitcoin News published a 1999 interview (3) of economist Milton Friedman, broaching the question of civil liberties: “The Internet is going to be one of the major forces for reducing the role of government. The one thing that is missing, but will soon be developed, is a reliable e-cash: a method by which on the Internet you can transfer funds from an A to B without A knowing B or B knowing A. The way in which I can take a $20 and hand it over to you and there is no record of where it came from”. Many people today see crypto-currency not as a way to commit crimes, but as a way to fight back on government control.
In all parts of the world, states struggle to acquire more control. Many Asian, South American and African states, sometimes dubbed “failed states” by the West, have very limited or non-existent control over their citizens and territory. Greece has no cadaster, many African countries have no civil registries, and almost half the world has only an approximate idea of the size of their own population. But in the West, a State knows each of its citizens and residents by name, where they live, where they work, what they drive, the names of their children, the size of their house, etc. To that existing data repository, States can add potential data: data which can be easily accessed through online investigation: whom they call (with phone registers), whom they do business with (with banking registers), where they go (cell phone tracking), etc.
But cash eludes their control, because it doesn’t rely on banks or any other intermediary. Killing cash will be the ultimate step of state control. Payment-method specialized website LTP reports (4): “Increasingly, government agencies are also feeling the need to shift to modern payment processing tools and techniques and leave the traditional formats behind. A number of companies are fulfilling the government’s needs through their payment rails”.
Public entities claim to be fighting cash, in order to better protect their citizens, but there is far more to it. If the advantages and disadvantages of cash are weighed from a citizen’s point of view, maintaining the existence of cash is obviously preferable: while other types of payment can be practical according to circumstances, why deprive oneself of an option which we use every day? But that same balance from a state’s or superstate’s perspective is very different. Be it fiscal agencies, or law enforcement, or cyber-surveillance, governmental bodies yearn to reign every citizen in the world -not just their own – into the electronic world, where national borders no longer exist and civil rights to privacy can be easily and discretely hacked into. They will apply to the 0.01 % of people who use cash for criminal and terrorist activities, and for the 99.99% of law-abiding citizens who don’t.
Trump Is A Cash Cow For Swedish Vehicle Tester
A Swedish vehicle tester, whose technology identified discrepancies which kick-started the Volkswagen AG diesel engine scandal, is beginning to see US president Donald Trump as a plump cash cow.
While it’s generally not a good thing for the country or the planet as a whole when the American president isn’t pro-environment, any decision by the new head of state to repeal fuel-consumption regulations means that automakers can begin selling highly inefficient models for much longer than was previously anticipated. This, in turn, will lead to an increase in emissions testing technologies, as there will be a more polluting vehicle fleet over the next 10 years than anticipated.
Trump has vowed to reinstate a review of vehicle emissions and fuel economy, spending another year scrutinising rules that require companies to cut gasoline consumption, and bring MPG up to more than 50 miles to the gallon by 2025. This is intended to undermine the Obama administration’s assertions that the standards and their deadline are both effective and affordable. If this emphasis on fuel efficiency were to carry on, it would be great news for the EV sector, but not so much for efficient part manufacturers such as Borla.
While announcing his intentions to a crowd of factory workers in Michigan, president Trump sent a message to the CEOs of major automakers including General Motors, Chrysler, Fiat and Ford that they needed to give a trade-off by creating more American jobs and manufacturing plants. He blamed Obama’s efforts to preserve fuel economy standards on supposed colossal damage to the US auto industry.
Inspection company Opus provides emission testing in the States, including remote-sensing services, measuring large numbers of privately owned vehicles as they drive over public roads. In late 2014, roughly a year before Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating scandal made the news, Opus and a group of scientists carried out work which discovered readings for Volkswagen and Audi vehicles with two-litre diesel engines were significantly lighter than they were supposed to be.
As one of the biggest companies of its kind in the United States, Opus sees the nation as one of its most integral markets. The business has a market share in more than 40% of the government-contracted emission-testing industry there, and handles nearly 25million separate inspections every year. One of the Swedish firm’s biggest competitors is Japan’s Horiba Ltd., which produces testing equipment that was instrumental in blowing the lid off the Volkswagen scandal.
Donald Trump’s aforementioned pledge means that demand in America will at least stay the same, rather than decline, which would have been a risk for these testing firms if Obama’s efficiency standards had gone ahead. While it’s unclear exactly what Trump has in store for the auto industry, it’s more or less certain that emission testing isn’t the biggest of his concerns. Ostensibly, the president is much more concerned with improving the market position of the American auto industry, and loosening environmental requirements. This is guaranteed to lead to higher pollution and emissions in the country, and eventually demand for pollution-reduction programs.
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