Transcontinental countries: How economically significant are they?

There are several transcontinental states in the world – and their characteristics of being geographically linked to more than one continent make them economically unique from the rest of the world. However, while some transcontinental countries benefit from this, others suffer from its disadvantages.

Russia

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Russia is the largest country in the world and is located between Asia and Europe. With a GDP of over $1.28 trillion, it is one of the world’s most powerful economies. Aside from leading the race in oil and natural gas production, Russia is also a top exporter of important metals like aluminum and steel. One of the BRICs, Russia has strong potential to become among the four most dominant economies by the year 2050, alongside Brazil, India, and China.

 

Turkey

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The Republic of Turkey is set at the junction of Asia and Europe. Because of its strategic location, the United States consider the country as a high-priority market and is recognized as an important economic hub in the entire region. Turkey’s GDP as of 2016 reached $857 billion. However, in 2017, analysts have observed an increased rate of both inflation and unemployment because of their currency’s depreciation against the U.S. dollar.  For an insightful analysis on Turkey’s current economic landscape, read this article by LOM Financial.

 

Panama

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The country is dubbed as a bridge between two continents: South America and North America. Panama’s economy is actually dollar-based, and its services sector makes up a large percentage of its GDP. Panama is also a Free Trade Zone and hosts several sectors such as offshore banking, logistics, and tourism. Furthermore, the GDP value of Panama covers 0.10% of the world economy.

 

Egypt

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Egypt can be found in both Africa and Asia, with an economy that relies on agriculture, tourism, and other from industries and services. Uncertainties in the country’s political state have caused several economic woes, including a slower growth in 2011. Egypt’s Gulf allies helped the country recover, bringing in an increased in foreign investment. In 2016, Egypt reported a GDP of $336 billion.

Latin American economy’s rise from the rubble

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Several nation-states compose the entirety of Latin America: Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. While these countries are geographically close to one another in the same region, they actually have varying levels of economic complexities.

Overall, the Latin American economy is considered major performer as an export-based economy, but previous recessions led the region to a devastating slowdown. While their road to recuperation is already in sight, economic experts and investment firms suggest that the only way to fully recover is to find newer engines that can jumpstart economic growth and finally boost prosperity further into the future.

According to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund, the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region was predicted to enjoy growth by 1.1% in 2017. This year, the region is looking at a 1.8% of growth, and another 2.3% in 2019. The main drivers for these improvements are credited to LAC’s biggest economies in Argentina and Brazil. Additionally, Mexico is also doing its part, bringing in optimistic growth forecasts for the region, with Central America boasting a healthy pace of recuperation by 3.9% in 2017 alone.

There are still much to do in order to achieve more positive long-term effects, and these include focusing on investing, exports, savings, and most importantly, promoting the development of the private sector. Moreover, acknowledging fiscal and external imbalances should also be a priority not only to stabilize economic integration but also to strengthen it.

However, the biggest changes that are set to promote a huge leap in LAC’s economy, according to experts, is for these nations to address inequality and to invest in people, especially those who live in poverty.

How a country’s Gini coefficient shapes its economic landscape

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The Gini coefficient, also known as the “Gini index,” is a statistical measure of distribution. It was developed in 1912 by Corrado Gini, an Italian statistician. At present, it is a reliable tool that helps reveal and analyze income distribution where 0 is perfect equality and 1 signifies perfect inequality.

In some instances, the Gini index can also be used to assess wealth distribution among a country’s population. However, while it’s true that the world’s poorest nations hold the highest Gini coefficients and the wealthiest have the lowest, the index should not be considered as an absolute measurement of either wealth or income. This is because, this tool measures relative wealth, not absolute wealth.

Thus, it’s possible for a developing economy to have a higher Gini index due to rising inequality but at the same time have a lower number of people that are below the poverty line. Moreover, a high-income nation can share the same Gini coefficient as a low-income country if both of them follow a similar distribution of income among their respective population. This scenario can be seen between Turkey and the U.S. (based on 2014 data).

Most importantly, according to experts, the growing concentration of income on a particular group of earners can directly reduce a country’s economic growth. For starters, the income inequality and unequal distribution of wealth between the rich and the poor can result in a stunted economy due to lower spending. Economic growth happens when a larger population spends money. Usually, the majority comes from middle to lower middle-class citizens. However, the minority who holds a country’s huge percentage of wealth doesn’t consume and spend at the same rate that the former can.

How urban planning transforms a city’s economic landscape

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When talking about sustainable development for the world’s modern cities, urban planning presents the most practical and strategic scenario – and this is true especially when developing economically progressive communities of the future.

Any city planned and prepared to provide the necessary infrastructure to its residents, balance demands of the population, and present a friendly environment for investors can easily withstand the challenges of social and economic demands of modernizing communities.

Urban planning directly fuels the generation of employment and boosts wealth and productive growth among its workforce. Well-planned city centers, for instance, empower local and the national economy to achieve greater heights in terms of production and economic output to compete on a global scale.

Job creations and revenue generation from the city’s different sectors in trade, finance, transport, manufacturing, and communication and so on, are just some of the many direct economic impacts of proper urban planning.

The focus on planning cities provides access to urban objects such as commercial centers, airports, sports stadiums, railways, and other infrastructure that contribute to the overall economic and social well-being of the communities that they serve. The availability of such development projects and accessibility to these resources further contribute to advantages that can be measured in terms of income, employment, leisure opportunities, and gross national product.

The boom in these primary sectors will usher a corresponding growth in business, tourism, real estate, hospitality, agriculture, and other sub-sectors that benefit from healthy and more dynamic economic activities within cities. Naturally, they become a major economic consideration for many international companies, investors, as well financial institutions such as banks and investment firms (like LOM Financial).

The end product of urban planning can achieve the ultimate purpose of why governments should focus on creating and planning sustainable cities in the first place: to promote the welfare and provide a better quality of life for its local population.

The Power of Balance of Trade (BOT) over currency values

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In definition, a balance of trade (BOT) is the difference, in terms of value, between a country’s exports and imports over a particular period of time. For instance, if a country’s value of imported products is more than its exported goods, this leads to what experts call, a “trade deficit.” On the other hand, if there is a bigger value for exports than its imports, a positive balance or a trade surplus is said to occur.

Such movements and fluctuations in values of the factors mentioned above directly affect a country’s overall performance in the world market – and these effects are quite visible on how BOT determines the value a nation’s currency. As such, they are an important consideration for the investment decisions of wealth management experts, including offshore investment companies such as LOM Financial.

Basically, a trade balance has a major effect on currency exchange rates because of how the former influences supply and demand, especially on foreign exchange. What happens is, when a country’s transaction has more numbers of their exports and less on their imports, a resulting higher demand for goods directly causes a higher demand in its currencies.

If, on the other hand, the opposite happens, the basics of economics tell us that producing more imports rather than an increase of exports, directly causes less demand for that country’s currency, eventually depreciating that currency’s value against other currencies.

These relationships and how the value of one affects the other are based on the idea that the market has the power to determine the value of a country’s currency as well as how it interacts with other countries’ currencies. However, it doesn’t mean that imbalances on trade can readily cause currency depreciation. If a particular currency is pegged (or fixed) to another currency, their exchange rate will remain unaffected.

Creating a diversified portfolio can help you survive your first year in investing

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Once you’ve finally decided to manage your finances and invest, the next step that you have to take is to create a more diversified portfolio. Regardless of how new you are to the world of investing, this move will determine whether or not you’ll survive your first year. Why?

There are several reasons why many financial experts—including offshore portfolio management firms like LOM Financial—will suggest relying on different asset classes and investing in securities of a variety of issuers. One of them is to make sure that the fall of a single asset class will not totally affect your entire investment performance.

It is important to understand that even the most competitive industries fail, and focusing your resources on a single asset can result in an equal failure. This is because, as societies grow and turn to newer and more advanced resources, disruptions—especially through technology—create an environment where even the most established corporations can be run over by emerging startups.

The only way to fully protect your assets without worrying about such terrifying unpredictability is portfolio diversification.  Asset allocation, for instance, means combining several investment classes under one financial roof: bonds, cash, stocks, commodities, and even precious metals like gold and silver.

Asset allocation is a strategic type of diversification that provides a fail-proof environment even for neophyte investors. For instance, the fall of stocks directly triggers bond prices to rise. In other words, you’ll be bulletproof.

Ultimately, the reason for diversification is to lower one’s overall risk especially during political unrest and its resulting economic woes. Spreading your assets means building several forts that can protect your financial territory. Even if one falls to the ground, you’ll still have other “defenders” to protect your wealth.

Most importantly, diversifying one’s investment portfolio is not just a passive defense against risks—it’s also a powerful method to find more investment opportunities and help them grow.

The Cayman Islands: A rising powerhouse for offshore business deals

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From its humble beginnings as a barter economy in the 1960s, Cayman Islands have accomplished a huge transformation as one of the world’s leading offshore financial centers. What was once a remote island where sailors dock their vessels to rest, the three-island nation now serves as an international haven for telecommunication, business, and finance (especially offshore portfolio management).

Aside from their state-of-the-art infrastructure, the Cayman Islands’ present success can be attributed to its early years as a part of the British overseas territory. Just like other jurisdictions under the former empire, the Cayman was structured and strategically positioned to respond to the demands of the post-war era, especially for public and private business opportunities – and one of its most important moves was the favorable tax policies catered to its early offshore clients.

The fire of the overseas territory’s business success, according to experts, is still far from burning out and the nation continues to defend its place in the global pedestal. Based on recent reports by the World Finance, the Cayman Islands bagged the title as the primary jurisdiction for mergers and acquisition for offshore locations – defeating other offshore financial center powerhouses like Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands.

According to the same report, among the over 2,771 deals focused on offshore companies in 2017, the Cayman Islands found their busiest year yet and closed 773 offshore business deals. Several sectors dominated the offshore transactions in the Cayman Islands, led by the finance and insurance industry as well as the real estate sector. Other performers such as the software development sector also contributed to this recent success.

Speed and efficiency: How on-demand business models serve a global market

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The boom of the “on-demand economy” can be credited to start-ups and technology companies that have found a golden opportunity in the consumer’s growing demand for fast, intuitive, efficient and economical products and services.

Currently, there is a long list of “on-demand” business models that represent a variety of business categories in the industry and they remain unstoppable. Here are some examples of the top on-demand business models today.

Print on demand (POD) model

In a POD model, a book or other types of published works is printed and distributed on a “as needed” basis. Unlike the traditional printing model, a POD model eliminates the need for excessive inventory of hard copy books on libraries or bookstore. Instead, it prints books whenever an order has already been made. This type of book production is made possible by self-publishing platforms such as CreateSpace and IngramSpark as well technology like the Espresso Book Machine (EBM). POD allows writers, authors, and content providers to self-publish at a very low cost.

Video on demand (VOD) model      

Gone are the days when people relied on limited program viewing list to enjoy a cozy evening at home. With the VOD model, specific TV programs, sports events, and even movies can easily be accessed and viewed on request from cable and satellite service providers.  Under an internet-based VOD model, free and paid programs can be viewed wherever you are in the world as long as you have a computer and access to the internet through popular streaming sites.

Food on demand model

The food on-demand business model highlights the food service industry’s answer to the fast-paced millennial consumer lifestyle. Thanks to digital technology, the industry can now count on a mobile ordering system to answer urgent calls from patrons for immediate and pre-packed meals. The model is optimistic about its future in the industry, as they look at drone technology, robotics and third-party meal delivery options to serve a large volume of customers in the most convenient way possible.

How emerging economies led their own technological revolutions

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The conclusion that emerging markets can achieve an accelerated economic growth, through the help of new technology transfer and the resulting innovations, is nothing new to many research studies. In fact, these emerging economies from middle-income countries are slowly taking over the old technology hailed in developed countries and creating their own, globally recognized innovations, thanks to their access of today’s newest technologies.

One perfect example is how Kenya, dubbed as “the cradle of Africa’s technological innovation”, has successfully launched a large-scale mobile money transfer system. The concept was meant to answer to the demand of the Kenyan citizens who do not have a bank account.

The system allows a large number of the country’s population to remit funds to their friends and family. Even if it was just a small venture by a domestic mobile network operator, it rapidly grew in popularity, recording a 25% contribution to Kenya’s GDP. Its success story inspired other countries in Africa, Asia, and even Europe to adopt the same system.

There are other similar instances in which developing markets caught the attention of their developed counterparts. India’s Grameen Danone came up with a cost-effective system that allowed the production of yogurt even at small-scale plants. The system eliminated the need for freezer storage and transportation costs – and developing countries big in the yogurt industry were quick to accept the same process.

What contributed to the success of these innovations, even coming from humble beginnings can be summarized in one word: leapfrogging.

In definition, it is the concept that countries that have poor technological economic and development can easily move forward by adopting new technologies and developing modern innovations without the need to go through intermediary steps. In other words, their economies are like blank canvases that can easily be turned into a revolutionary masterpiece.

REPOST: Tech Stocks Still Lead U.S. Sectors For One-Year Trend

As the world becomes increasingly technology-driven, tech stocks will continue to dominate markets. Seeking Alpha has a brief overview on this sector:

Technology shares continue to post the strongest trend performance for US equity sectors, based on a set of ETFs ranked by one-year return. Although most sectors are posting year-over-year gains, the annual pace for tech remains notable for its outsized advance vs. the rest of the field.

Technology Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLK) is up a strong 35.8% for the year through Wednesday (Jan. 3). The current gain is close to the ETF’s highest one-year total return since the recession ended in 2009 (At one point in last year’s fourth quarter, XLK’s rolling one-year change briefly accelerated to just under 40%, a cyclical peak for the post-recession period.).

XLK’s current upside momentum for the one-year gain is well above the number-two performer: stocks in the materials sector. The Materials Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLB) is up 25.9% on a total return basis over the past 12 months – a solid increase, but no match for tech’s surge.

Although all but one of the 11 sectors are posting one-year gains, only five are beating the broad market, based on the SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY), which is currently posting a 22.4% total return for the trailing one-year period.

The lone sector with a negative one-year trend at the moment: telecom. The Vanguard Telecommunication Services (NYSEARCA:VOX) was down 9.5% at Wedneday’s close vs. the year-earlier level. In fact, VOX’s rolling one-year total return has been consistently negative every day since Dec. 5.

The performance chart below presents a visual summary of tech’s dominance in recent history. Although most sector trends are positive, XLK’s run (black line at top of graph) stands apart as unusually bullish.