The state of international finance has continuously achieved monumental and dramatic changes over the years. While there are several aspects that may have contributed to its transformation, there’s no denying that the main drivers of these changes come from three major factors: technology, geopolitical climate, and economic policies by the world’s leading decision-makers.
Here are the latest updates from around the world that are slowly transforming international finance.
China’s global trading conquest.
As the second largest economy in the world, China has the power to stir dramatic changes on a global scale. The economic giant recently reached out and forged partnerships with other countries. Additionally, its famed “One Belt One Road” initiative is set to create a modern Silk Road, providing a massive infrastructure through efficient land and sea access among China, Russia, Europe, and other neighboring countries.
Financial Technology in Banking
Technology has touched almost every aspect of the modern world, and the Finance Industry is no exception. Innovations such as blockchain technology, data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) as well as cloud computing are slowly transforming modern banking and investing. In offshore investment centers like Bermuda, firms are increasingly capitalizing on digital platforms. LOM Financial’s OPUS system, for example, offers self-directed online trading access on all major global markets and exchanges.
Japan’s rising ETFs.
Last year was a great one for the stock market, and it’s not just participants from the West that enjoyed its benefits of the soaring financial markets. Japan, for instance, experienced a surge in Exchange Traded Funds. Experts suggest that the reelection of Shinzo Abe as the country’s prime minister caught the attention of investors, benefiting two of Japan’s leading ETFs: iShares MSCI Japan ETF and WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund.
Generally, the increase in oil prices can also create a corresponding increase in inflation and at the same time, dramatically reduce global economic growth. An increase in this product’s prices on a global scale can affect everyone: manufacturers, companies in every industry, and even ordinary citizens who rely on hundreds of petroleum products in their day to day operations and activities.
Economists and several other experts know very well of the power of oil and how it can either drive even the most powerful nations into recessions or can easily cause regimes to collapse. It’s important that any subtle change in oil prices must be closely analyzed, and events that can cause a disruption in the oil market may correspond to changes in the economic performance of the affected nations.
One perfect example of how changes in the oil prices can cause a major impact on a global scale is during the Iranian revolution and the following Iraq-Iran war in 1979-1980. The anticipated shortage in oil supply and the resulting price shocks greatly affected the GDP of major economies, more specifically the U.S. This event triggered the American recession – eventually spreading the aftermath on other smaller economies that largely rely on the nation’s stability.
The Bahamas is a natural Atlantic paradise that attracts millions of tourists every year but it’s not only tourism that makes it an international favorite—it’s also an important global financial services center for offshore investments, offshore portfolio management, and offshore discretionary management, among others. The island-nation has a stable economy and is considered one of the few tax-neutral jurisdictions that serve as financial sanctuary not just to its residents but also to international investors and businesses.
Non-residents can enjoy the benefits of working and investing in the country because of several tax treaties in the Bahamas. However, it’s important to take note that living full-time in the Bahamas does not excuse foreign residents from fulfilling their tax responsibilities in their home country.
Income tax and national insurance
One attractive benefit of working in the Bahamas is its zero personal income tax policies. Both employed by a company and self-employed individuals, however, are not excluded from paying a national insurance on salary if you are a resident.
The proceeds of these funds keep the country’s benefits system alive. However, the fund will only benefit Bahamian residents. Refunds, depending on how long they’ve been working in the Bahamas, can be claimed by expats after retirement, given that they return to their home country.
Value Added Tax
As of January 2015, a new tax policy—the value added tax—has been introduced to the Bahamas. Because of this, hotel, home rental, and similar services will have to pay 7.5 percent of the VAT, as an alternative to the previous 10 percent guest tax.
Stamp Duty and other taxes
This tax policy covers a different variety of circumstances. Examples are real estate transactions or even large amounts of currency transactions abroad. The fees are shared and divided between the two parties, the buyer, and the seller.
There are traditional signs that reveal if a country’s economy is flourishing. Some examples can be seen in the results of several domestic economic activities such as in the goods and services that a nation produces annually (GDP), their overall economic output that includes revenues from foreign investments (GNP), their yearly increase in their GDP and GNP, and many more.
While those indicators mentioned above can easily describe the state of a country’s economic prowess, the 21st century presents multi-layered challenges and victories that either contribute or hinder a country’s economic progress as a whole.
In developing countries, for example, there are several factors that can affect economic growth. These factors offer a checklist of goals that they look up to in order to achieve a more developed and progressive economy: improvements in the levels of infrastructure, the rate of labor mobility, and most importantly, the volume of foreign and direct investments.
Additionally, technological advancements should be recognized as a major indicator of economic progress, and this is quite true especially for developing countries. Technology, for one, enables them to be globally competitive and emerge as equally capable players in the world economy.
However, according to experts, it’s important to recognize the huge difference between economic growth and economic development. Economic growth can be measured through the GDP, GNP and other statistics that describe the country’s overall economic performance. However, these numbers do not fully consider other aspects such as a country’s literacy rate, environmental quality, life expectancy, social justice, and freedom – the major indicators that fully describe “economic development”.
The Foreign Exchange Market (Forex) is a 24-hour over-the-counter market for trading of currencies. Since it has a global scope and is decentralized type of market, transactions take place everywhere in the world with no central and physical location unlike other financial markets like the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and the New York Stock Exchange (NSE). In addition, since there is no clearinghouse or a central exchange, dealers and brokers conduct negotiations directly with one another.
The Forex market is the largest financial market in the world, and not to mention it’s also the most popular among individual investors, central banks, commercial banks, and financial institutions. Since it’s an extremely liquid market, it allows huge trading volumes to take place without greatly affecting price or price action. However, depending on the time of the day and the currency pair, its relative liquidity could influence the market depth.
The Forex market is composed of traders representing hundreds of international banks, central banks, governments, institutional investors, and millions of private traders trading currencies on a daily basis. This huge volume of participants contributes to the market’s turnover rate and based on recent data, it continues to grow. According to the Bank for International Settlements, the daily trading was $5.1 trillion (as of April 2016). In 2010, it was the average daily turnover was just estimated to be $3.9 trillion.
There are different currencies being traded in the forex market but the ones from highly industrialized countries with the most active economies lead the rank. As of 2017 data, the U.S. dollar against other currency remains the most traded in the market, followed by the Euro. Other highly traded currencies include the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan.
For more insights into the forex market—and investing as a whole—read up LOM Financial’s posts on their Facebook page.
Are you a big fan of a movie or a particular fictional character that you’re willing to spend hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise just to have your personal souvenir of this awesome work of fiction? Have you ever bought a shirt designed after the logo of your favorite superhero, an action figure of a famous villain or even a copy of your favorite Disney movie?
If you answered “yes” to at least one of these questions, then you’re definitely a part of a larger and wider market of consumers that help the film and its partner media franchises to make money.
A media franchise is defined as a collection of related media composed of derivative works based on an original creative work such as movies, literary works, television series, or even computer games. Here, the creators of the original work grant the intellectual property rights to providers for further commercial exploitation and merchandising purposes.
One of the most popular media franchise and in fact, the work that started it all, is Star Wars. The cinematic universe created by George Lucas attracted millions of fans not just in the U.S. but around the world. In fact, the franchise made a staggering 12 billion in revenue – and this jaw-dropping figure came from toy licensing alone.
The Harry Potter book and film series have billions of readers and followers across the globe and this makes this work of fiction one of the most in-demand media franchises in the world today. Companies like Johnson and Johnson, for instance, bought Harry Potter’s intellectual property rights for their HP bathroom products. Other gaming companies have also seen the earning potential of this franchise like Electronic Arts, creating the earliest Harry Potter video games.
The biggest movies in the industries also make big money in when they become box office hits but what happens once they leave the theaters? Most of the time, producers sell the rights of showing these films to other international media and television companies. Airline companies, too, contribute in producing a huge profit for filmmakers for their in-flight entertainment.
The kind of workplace culture is an extremely important determinant of a company’s overall “health.” Those that foster an excellent work environment for employees seem to generally enjoy longevity in the industry that belong to. More on this from The Balance:
People in every workplace talk about organizational culture, that mysterious word that characterizes the qualities of a work environment. One of the key questions and assessments, when employers interview a prospective employee, explores whether the candidate is a good cultural fit. Culture is difficult to define, but you generally know when you have found an employee who appears to fit your culture.
He just feels right.
Culture is the environment that surrounds you at work all of the time. Culture is a powerful element that shapes your work enjoyment, your work relationships, and your work processes. But, culture is something that you cannot actually see, except through its physical manifestations in your workplace.
In many ways, culture is like personality. In a person, the personality is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, interests, experiences, upbringing, and habits that create a person’s behavior.
Culture is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors shared by a group of people. Culture is the behavior that results when a group arrives at a set of—generally unspoken and unwritten—rules for working together.
An organization’s culture is made up of all of the life experiences each employee brings to the organization. Culture is especially influenced by the organization’s founder, executives, and other managerial staff because of their role in decision making and strategic direction.
But, every employee has an impact on the culture that is developed at work.
What are you looking for when you want to see and understand an organization’s culture? Culture is represented in a group’s:
-stories and legends, and
-daily work practices.
Something as simple as the objects chosen to grace a desk tells you a lot about how employees view and participate in your organization’s culture.
Your internet sharing in programs like Skype and Slack, your bulletin board content, the company newsletter, the interaction of employees in meetings, and the way in which people collaborate, speak volumes about your organizational culture.
Aside from being one of the most efficient offshore investment and financial centers in the Caribbean region, the Cayman Islands is also home to several personalities from different industries who managed to conquer the world through their sheer talent and hard work.
From the fashion scene to the world of sports, here is a list of some of the notable figures who hail from this British Overseas Territory:
Known for her image as a highly-sought after top model of high-fashion companies like Ralph Lauren and Neiman Marcus, not all of Selita Ebanks’s followers realize that she’s a Cayman-born beauty. From 2005 until early 2009, she was one of Victoria’s Secret “angels”. Aside from her fashion gigs, she also practiced her talent in acting, making appearances in several American television series.
Frank E. Flowers
In the independent film industry, Frank E. Flowers is an emerging director and screenwriter who won several awards and nominations for his works. Among his best works is the awarding-winning “Swallow”, a 2003 short film and “Haven”, a 2004 feature motion picture. According to a 2015 report, he was chosen by Lantica Media to direct the studio’s new thriller, “Our Father”.
Travers was Cayman Islands’ first Winter Olympian, representing the Caribbean country in alpine skiing during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Aside from his skiing career, Dow Travers is a rugby union player for the Cayman Islands national team. Because of his famously red hair and an impressive athletic agility, he was branded the name, “The Ginger Ninja” by his fans and followers.
Ever since the 1950s, the world’s most industrialized nations have depended on one vital source of energy: oil. As the lifeblood of the modern era, its products have powered several industries and sectors and have contributed to numerous present and future innovations.
According to a 2016 data, global oil production ran a daily average of 80.6 million barrels on that year alone – and a dominant percentage of its producers mostly come from developed countries, including regions from Europe.
While Europe is the smallest oil-producing continent (in fact, it is dwarfed by the Middle East), three of its nations contribute to a massive volume of oil products in the world. Here they are.
Russia (Approx. 540.7M tons annually)
Russia belongs to the ranks of the top oil producers in the world and it’s the largest in Europe. The massive oil production in the country mostly comes from the Eastern and Western Siberian region. Oil dominates the list of Russia’s commodities for export, selling almost 70% of its oil.
Norway (Approx. 88M tons annually)
The Norwegian oil production’s operation started in the 1960s when it was first discovered in the country’s North Sea. Since then, Norway became the second largest oil producer in Europe, with oil becoming the nation’s top export commodity. Crude oil accounts for almost 40% of Norway’s total exports every year, while the petroleum industry covers 17% of the country’s GDP.
United Kingdom (Approx. 45.3M tons annually)
As the third largest oil producer in the continent, the UK has also won its place as the 19th largest in the world. The country’s oil reserves were discovered in Scotland during the 19th century. As the production reached its peak, oil deposits in Derbyshire and Eakring were discovered a century later.
Strengthening the synergies between tourism and culture may not only lead to economic prosperity, but also to sustainable development that many generations will be able to enjoy. More on this in the article below from eTurboNews:
Culture, in all of its wondrous expressions, inspires more than 1.2 billion tourists to pack a bag and cross international borders each year. It is an important means to promote inter-cultural dialogue, create employment opportunities, curb rural migration, and nurture a sense of pride among host communities. Yet unmanaged, it can also harm the very heritage cultural tourism relies on.
Recognizing that a sustainable, approach with buy-in from all partners, is crucial to cultural tourism, peacebuilding and heritage protection, on December 12, the Muscat Declaration on Tourism and Culture: Fostering Sustainable Development was signed by representatives of UNESCO, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), delegations, private sector, local communities and NGOs.
This concluded the two-day World Conference on Tourism and Culture co-organized by UNESCO and the UNWTO and hosted by the Sultanate of Oman. Through the Declaration, some 30 Ministers and Vice Ministers of Tourism and Culture, and 800 participants from 70 countries, reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the synergies between tourism and culture, and to advance the contribution of cultural tourism to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
“Cultural tourism is growing, in popularity, in importance and in diversity embracing innovation and change. Yet, with growth comes increased responsibility, responsibility to protect our cultural and natural assets, the very foundation of our societies and our civilizations” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, emphasized that we need to create a positive dynamic between culture and tourism “that promotes sustainability while benefiting local communities. This dynamic must contribute to safe and sustainable cities, decent work, reduced inequalities, the environment, promoting gender equality and peaceful and inclusive societies.”
Ministers from Cambodia, Libya, Somalia, Iraq and Vietnam discussed the role of cultural tourism as a factor of peace and prosperity, and shared views on the capacity of tourism to support the recovery of their countries.
The Declaration calls for cultural tourism policies that not only empower local communities, but also employ new, innovative tourism models that advance sustainable development, host-guest interaction, and cultural exchange. It promotes integrating sustainable cultural tourism and the protection of heritage in national, regional and international security frameworks. The Declaration also references UNESCO’s 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in relation to these objectives.
Ahmed Bin Nasser Al Mahrizi, Minister of Tourism of the Sultanate of Oman, highlighted the importance of exchanging experiences and ideas to achieving sustainable tourism development. Participants shared best practices on issues such as community engagement, visitors’ management, and use of resources from tourism in conservation in such diverse locations as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania, the Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates or the Palace of Versailles in France. Entrepreneurship, SME’s and the protection of traditional knowledge were viewed as compatible with developing sustainable tourism, with examples from India in the hotel sector and in other regions developing local food initiatives. Other examples included World Bank projects revitalizing cultural heritage for sustainable tourism development, and Seabourn Cruise Line’s partnership with UNESCO to raise awareness of World Heritage with their guests.
Following the first UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture in Cambodia in 2015, this second Conference was part of the official events of the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism, so declared by the United Nations. Istanbul (Turkey) and Kyoto (Japan) will host the 2018 and 2019, editions respectively.