Unique beginnings of the world’s top companies

With all the millions in revenue every year, who would have thought that the world’s most successful companies today actually came from the most unique beginnings?

Here are the top global brands with the most interesting stories from their early years.

 

Berkshire Hathaway

Did you know that Berkshire Hathaway, today’s leading conglomerate holding company, actually started out as a textile manufacturing company? In fact, textile was their primary product for over 100 years until the company was purchased in 1964 by Warren Buffett.

Berkshire Hathaway now boasts over $250 dollars in revenue (according to 2017 data) and owns subsidiary companies such as Heinz, Dairy Queen, Home Services of America, to name a few.

 

Paypal

According to the brains behind one of the most successful online payment systems today, Paypal started earning money by paying users $10 to create a free account – and an additional incentive if they can invite their friends to be members, too.

Luckily, the online money transfer platform giant was able to make it big in the industry with over a million users in its first year. Today, Paypal now has over 8 million active users and the company has topped a revenue of almost 14 million in the latest quarter of 2018.

 

Amazon

Originally named “Cadabra,” Amazon started a revolution that transformed how people buy and purchase their books. It was a unique idea ahead of its time when the company founders decided that creating a virtual, online bookstore should be a million-dollar business model.

While most readers typically want the experience of going to physical bookstores, it turned out that millions of them actually prefer their books being delivered to their homes, acquiring one book title, one click at a time.

Today, the company is no longer just an online bookstore but a leader in e-commerce, boasting a latest revenue of $177.9 billion.

Safe haven assets that can protect you from stormy markets

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Finding the best place for your money should be one of your concerns, especially when faced with the unpredictability of stormy markets. This is a sound and practical advice for both beginner and seasoned investors, but choosing the right “safe haven” assets is sometimes easier said than done.

Some stocks and investment options, for instance, may not always fall on the list of the safest choices for investing. For one, constantly changing market conditions can make once common safe haven assets vulnerable. The good news is, there are still others that are strong enough to withstand the very same challenges. Here are the strongest and most stable safe haven assets that you should include in your investment portfolio.

Gold

Gold is considered the ultimate safe haven asset. In fact, its resiliency and non-dependence on changes in interest-rate policies of any government in the world make it a reliable physical asset. Even in the face of U.S. dollar decline, the resulting inflation lures investors to gold because that is where the money is. For this reason alone, experts believe that gold will never lose its safe-haven asset status. This is the very reason that major financial institutions, such as LOM Financial, have departments that are specifically intended for dealing in all manner of precious metals and associated derivatives.

Treasury bills

As a form of debt securities, treasury bills (also known as T-bills) rely on the stability of the U.S. government. Backed by the full confidence and credit of one of the most economically powerful nations in the world, it’s not surprising that treasury bills top the list among the highest valuable safe haven assets today.

Diamonds

Diamonds are not overrated, especially when it comes to choosing the best investment option for your portfolio. In fact, experts agree that it’s a great non-gold safe-haven asset that can be a better alternative to against other types of assets. Although diamonds can be less liquid than gold, this type of asset is less volatile.

For infant industries and highly industrialized nations, tariffs matter

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A country’s tariff system may have uneven benefits, but it is undeniably an important source of revenue especially for developing markets as well as advanced industrial nations. Basically, it is a tax imposed on imported goods that enter a domestic market. Additionally, it is also an economic tool that reduces competition against domestic industries. Any change in the tariff system may be an important financial considerion amongst investors and portfolio managers, including the likes of LOM Financial.

The importance of tariffs and why such trade barrier matters can be seen through how they are used by developed as well as infant industries.

The imposition of tariffs on imported goods from foreign competitors is the government’s way of protecting the state of domestic employment. If foreign companies can produce and sell goods cheaper, it presents production abroad a much more suitable option for business owners, thus leading to unemployment and local companies going bankrupt.

Tariffs don’t only allow a country’s chance of empowering its workers. It can also be used to protect its ordinary consumers from possibly harmful foreign goods and products. Higher tariffs can be a tougher barrier for these goods to enter the country.

Most importantly, tariffs may serve as a defensive tool against another country’s unfavorable trading practices. For instance, the on-going trade war between the United States and other countries (China, Mexico, Canada, and EU) describes such scenario where tariffs are used by the two or more parties as a retaliatory tool against one another.

According to latest updates on this present trade war, President Donald Trump imposed a tariff of 25% on steel imports and another 10% on aluminum on its allies, EU, Canada, and Mexico. Another $50 billion worth of tariffs also targeted Chinese goods. As news of retaliation from these countries made it to the headlines, Trump promises more measures and trade barriers that could escalate things further.

Tiny Caribbean countries and their role in global economics

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Just by observing the recent trends in the financial markets and the global economy as a whole, experts find an optimistic future especially for countries located in the Latin American and Caribbean regions. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum’s latest projections for some parts of the Caribbean and Latin America (except for Venezuela), the economic performance of these neighboring countries have greatly determined and contributed to one another’s growth potential in the next two years.

The Caribbean, most especially, is benefiting from the sturdier growth in the United States, resulting in the former’s economic prospects to generally improve. Furthermore, analysts suggest that the region will see these results as early as this year and in 2019.

However, the more important question to ask is what does the growth in the Caribbean region mean to the global economics? In order to reduce their dependency of larger countries and maintain their small economies, it became a home to the top offshore investment and financial centers in the world such as the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas – and this factor made the Caribbean a strong player in world economy.

Tax-efficient jurisdictions, especially the ones found in the Caribbean region, have played an important role for governments, developing economies, corporations and even private individuals by providing access to capital, privacy, and protection of assets, and most importantly, financial guidance on wealth management and protection.

While countries around the Caribbean have a level of vulnerability caused by natural disasters such as the one that brought massively devastating hurricanes in 2017 and 2004, its economic policies and trade openness is a good example of how strong relationships on international and regional trade can create opportunities even for small and diverse economies to prosper.

Latest developments and trends that are shaping international finance

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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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

How crude oil can fuel growth or ignite economic downfall

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Crude oil is a fossil fuel that can be converted to various forms as highly-efficient and useful products—one of the very reasons oil companies are a staple in most investment portfolios, including offshore mutual funds. Most experts say that the discovery of this non-renewable energy source has literally and figuratively fueled technologies and economies around the world – and the mere fluctuation of this material’s prices can make or break global economics.

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.

What makes the Bahamas a financial sanctuary?

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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.

The Bahamas don’t have inheritance taxes and wealth taxes. Moreover, there is no need for a declaration of earnings in the country. This Caribbean gem holds very high regard to its bank privacy law.

What makes a country ‘economically progressive’ in this day and age?

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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 Forex market: How big and liquid is it exactly?

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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.

The many ways a media franchise makes money

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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.