Japan’s Two-Year Growth Streak Comes to an End

Japan’s impressive streak of eight consecutive quarters of growth came to an end this month, as the third-largest global economy reported that its gross domestic product decreased at an annualized rate of 0.6 percent during the first quarter of the year.

 

Wednesday’s release of this data ends what had been the longest period of growth for Japan since the late 1980s. Expert economists point to lackluster performances by a myriad of different industries, rather than just one collapse. A combination of flat spending on investment partnered with weak consumption of private goods contributed to the contraction, which was worse than what financial analysts had predicted.

 

Net exports also decreased, possibly in small part to escalating trade tensions in the global economy. The strength of the Japanese yen against the United States dollar also makes exports including venerable Japanese automobiles and consumer electronics more expensive to global customers. The stability of the yen makes it a safe bet for foreign investors, however, this might be negated if the trade wars come to fruition.

 

Despite the weaker than expected growth, most experts do not expect Japan to slide into a recession. Most predictors demonstrate that the country will rebound with modest growth in the second quarter. The country faces an uphill in growing its economy because of factors including lower than desired inflation, an aging population requiring government subsidies, and lack of females in the workforce.

Stream Energy’s Philanthropic Footprint in Texas

The news that Stream Energy had launched its charity foundation, Stream Cares, came as no surprise as the Dallas-based firm has proven its affinity for charitable causes. And the energy firm does not just write checks but also commits time to philanthropic causes.

While it is the norm for many modern firms to be involved in corporate social responsibility, Stream Energy’s involvement in such causes is ingrained in its business model. The company’s business model relies on independent associates to market energy, wireless, and home services. The associates earn a commission based on their sales. The company has many associates, who are actively involved in philanthropic causes. Add that to the company’s effort, and you establish why the energy firm is the most talked about in Texas regarding philanthropy.

When Hurricane Harvey touched down in Southern Texas destroying homes, property, and displacing residents, Stream Energy made efforts to help heal and rebuild the affected areas. The company donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross. In addition, the firm collaborated with Red Cross, accepting donations on behalf of the non-profit. What’s more, the firm announced it would be lenient towards its customers in the affected areas, regarding payment of utility bills.

Statistics indicate that there is a 24 percent rise in homelessness in Dallas. What a better way to alleviate the suffering of the homeless than affording them memorable experiences? Stream Energy, its associates, and Hope Supply Co. have collaborated to sponsor annual Splash for Hope. The event saw over a thousand North Texas homeless children access monetary assistance, essential supplies, and partake in a fun day. Hope and Stream have had such partnerships for over four years.

Dallas-area veterans and their families have benefitted from Stream and its associates. Through the Operation Once in a Lifetime program, the company sponsored the veterans and their families to sumptuous lunch. The firm also catered to their transportations costs. The American Girl Doll experience shortly came after the lunch. The experience sought to pamper 10 young girls belonging to the veterans.

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United Kingdom Economic Growth Downgraded

The year 2017 final financial figures are in and officials say the GDP of the UK economy grew by a paltry 0.4% in the last three months of the fourth quarter. Previously, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had stated that they believed the economy would have grown at a rate of 0.5% The revised decreased rate of growth was largely attributed to a lower gain in the production industries. Overall the national economy grew at a rate of 1.7% for the year. This figure is the lowest since 2012.

Experts attribute the shutdown of the Forties pipeline system for most of December 2017 as a major contributor to the revised decrease in economic prosperity. Other factors include a stifled business investment scene, a perceived construction recession, stagnate wage growth, and concerns over rising inflation. A slowdown in household spending, as well as higher prices on consumer goods, was attributed to the inflation worries. The 1.4% year-on-year rate of growth in the last quarter of the year lands the UK as the slowest growing economy among the world’s wealthiest countries, behind both Italy and Japan.

The Bank of England is encouraged by future growth forecasts and has raised their prediction of economic output to increase to 1.8% overall for the upcoming year. Assuming this growth comes to fruition, the Bank has indicated that interest rate hikes could accelerate given this economic trajectory.

Solar Tariffs Could Lead To An International Economic Shake Up

The Trump administration has recently decided to levy tariffs on imports of solar modules to the United States. This cam after some module manufacturers in the United States complained that the cheap cost of foreign technology, often driven even lower due to government subsidies, were making it impossible for them to compete on such a lopsided playing field. The tariff tacks on 30% of the panels cost as it comes into the country in an attempt to give domestic manufacturers more of a chance to compete. Similar tariffs against washing machines were also put into place at the same time as the solar tariffs. The countries hit hardest by this decision include both China and South Korea. The United States already had tariffs against Chinese solar modules in place causing them to move many of their operations to nearby South Korea. This could ultimately lead to strained relationships between the United States and these two countries in a time when an alliance between the three is more important than ever. Some sources indicate that China and South Korea could take their claims to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO would likely take years to make a ruling in the case however and given that the tariffs are only set for a four year time frame they may end up having little to no impact on the issue. Some fear that this could lead to an all out trade war which in the end would benefit no one and lead to economic decline for all countries involved. Only time will tell what the outcome of these economic decisions will be both at home and abroad.

200,000 Jobs Added In US Economy In January, Beating Expectations

The expectations for January job growth numbers were actually lower than what the real number turned out to be. As a matter of fact, the 200,000 jobs added in January was a strong enough month to bring the unemployment rate down just a nudge more. Even so, the market is not necessarily taking the news as some might expect.

Trading has been down in the triple digits the last few days. As of the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down roughly another 250 points according to CNBC. This is despite all of the supposedly good news that has been out related to the economy as of late. It is perplexing to a lot of people to say the least, but others see it as an obvious sign that prices in the market have been too high for a long time.

The market has a funny way of deciding to go up or down when people least expect it. They always say that it is best to buy when everyone is fearful and sell when they are greedy. As of late it feels like greed has indeed taken over the market. Perhaps this is why people are starting to pull back on the investments that they had previous made without question.

It is a market that we all have to keep an eye on at this point. There could be more twists and turns to come.

Factory Output Looks Good at Start of 2018

Many parts of the world have a booming economy. One way that economic growth is measured is by factory output. One indicator of factory output is the Purchasing Managers’ Index. According to this measurement, factory output looks good for the coming year, but not in all places.

The Euro Zone countries are showing good factory output. In fact, the entire Euro Zone is seeing the best factory output numbers since the 1990s.

Within the Euro Zone, some countries are doing better than others. Germany and Italy are seeing almost record numbers in factory growth. Both France and Spain have seen production increases that are well above expectations.

Not all is well in the European Union. The United Kingdom is not fairing as well as the other nations. Its rate of factory output growth is expected to be at least one percent below the Euro Zone nations. The entire British economy is expected to grow at a reduced rate in 2018 compared to growth in both 2016 and 2017. This may be due in part to the Brexit situation.

In Asia, factory output is going well, and it is expected to remain strong in both Taiwan and Japan. China is doing better than expected even though it is placing more controls on factories in regard to pollution and environmental controls.

The global economy does have one worry going into 2018. Uncertainty remains on the course that the Unites States will take in regard to protectionism. The imposition of tariffs may slow the economy if trade wars develop.

President Trump Will Stand Firm On America First Agenda At World Economic Forum

January has been a busy month both in the United States and around the world. The World Economic Forum, held in Switzerland, garnered a lot of attention as President Trump arrived with the plan to push his America First agenda that was prominently discussed during his run for president in 2016. Videos of news coverage as well as some prominent speeches from President Trump can be viewed at Huffington Post.

The World Economic Forum was held in Davos and lasted two days featuring many speeches from political leaders from around the world. As a businessman, President Trump was never invited to the meeting, and as President of the United States, he will be the first to attend the gathering since Bill Clinton last attended in 2000. President Trump will have a prime opportunity to mix and mingle with the elite globalists that he spent much time bashing during his 2016 election campaign. White House aides made it clear that President Trump intended to push the same agenda that he had campaigned on during election time, and the same messages he had pushed with multiple trips abroad over his first year as president. President Trump himself took to Twitter to let the country know where he stands by proclaiming “Our economy is now booming an with all I am doing, will only get better…Our country is finally WINNING again!”

Prior to heading overseas, President Trump took the time to place a 30% tariff on solar panels that are imported, which is expected to only be the first of many trade restrictions from his administration. It is expected that in 2018 President Trump takes strong steps in the area of steel and might do away with NAFTA agreements with Mexico and Canada. It is also expected that while at the meeting he will push for more global investment in the United States which could benefit other countries with the corporate tax cuts that were added in 2017.

The meeting is also expected to cover topics like the strong influence Iran has garnered in the Middle East, battles with militants from the Islamic State and the nuclear challenge that has been ongoing with most of the world and North Korea. While in Davos, President Trump will also have a few diplomatic meetings with Theresa May, Paul Kagame, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Alain Berset.

Israeli and European Startups Attracting Investment Interests

In news that will generate further interest in the European and Israeli startups sector and economy at large, a Luxemburg-based investment firm raised millions of dollars to invest in the Israeli and European economies. The Mangrove V set up by Mangrove Capital Partners raised up to $170 million to invest in the extraordinary and novel technologies emerging from these economies. While the investment fund seems relatively smaller compared to the sums raised by other investment firms for the same purpose, Mangrove Capital Partners’ management believes that it has a great potential of realizing higher returns. Mangrove Capital Partners is the latest investment company to have trained its eyes for the emerging startup markets in Israel and Europe. Others such as Index Ventures, EQT Ventures and Atomico Ventures had earlier laid down markers with a combined investment fund of over $3 billion.

The latest investment forays in the startups in Israel and Europe portend greater economic gains for the startup sector in the target markets and their economies at large. The forays have the potential of improving economic growth and job creation in the economies. It is also an indication of the fast growth of Israeli’s startup sector, which has already seen many startups acquired by big corporations in deals worth billions of dollars. Mobileye recently set the pace in the sector when it was acquired in a deal worth a mouth-watering $15 billion by Intel. It will motivate local innovators to develop revolutionary ideologies that will hit the magical and coveted $1 billion mark in acquisition fees. For Mangrove Capital Partners investors, the recent successes with startups acquisition in Israel should ease their mind when it comes to getting a return on their investments. The company’s investments in two startups in one of the world’s fastest growing hi-tech economy saw the company realize over a hundred fold return on investment.

The Budding State of Economy in America Attracts Legislators

According to a Washington report posted on Thursday, America is vastly showing an exceptional economic growth following several investment schemes. In regards to this, the American senators ignored issues that were raised by the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen. Instead of addressing economic issues, most questions were channeled towards regulatory concerns. This was a meeting dubbed the banking committee of senates. According to most Republicans, Yellen was consulted to allow the elimination of some stringent rules imposed on most financial institutions. This was after the financial crisis that was marked in 2008. Most Democrats on the panel pushed her to state the importance of affirming the regulations.

Opinion

Yellen is prominent for her instrumental role in rebuilding most regulations. In the meeting, she stated that she was proud of her input to the systems. Yellen said that since the financial crisis in America, she had done outstanding work in support of the financial system. This was in order to create a resilient as well as reliable financial structure for citizens. Yellen told the committee that there are rollbacks that may contribute to the setbacks that the Trump administration has proposed.

Conclusion

To clear the air on economic regulations, Yellen was careful to state that some rules are too strict for operations. She also highlighted her willingness to call for changes. According to Yellen, she supports the regulation of banking institutions in community banks. This is a renowned idea for most citizens. Yellen hardly commented on monetary policies. According to the benchmark raised by the Federal department, the people will enjoy reduced bonds this year. In her opinion, the economy is in stellar health, and no kind of interference will contribute to its interference anytime soon. According to Yellen, the Federal department is keen on the progress of the economy. Yellen is hopeful that the regulations will not interfere with the progress of the economy.