Monday, November 20, 2017

Prospects for the United States, Brazil and Nigeria

By Deanna A. Smith
NEW YORK, October 27 - Prospects for countries can be looked at a number of ways. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), Goldman Sachs, the World Bank Group and the World Economic Forum all put out different reports to measure the prospects of countries.
The World Economic update is published by the International Monetary Fund addresses a global economy with activity that is picking up with recovery in investment, manufacturing, and trade with world growth continuing modestly. Specifically addressing countries, this report shows that the average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States from 1999 to 2008 was 2.6 percent with projections that the average will hold at 2.1 for 2017 and 2018. 2008 produced a negative GDP for America as result of the financial crisis of that year, with positive GDP growth from 2009 onward. Brazil has an average annual growth rate of 3.4 percent – faster than the United States, though this in a country whose economy is only about 1/20th the size of the massive US economy. Brazil had not experienced consistent growth since 2008, a source of disappointment for those cheered when the country was deemed a BRICS nation. The 2017 growth projection for Brazil is a GDP of 0.2 percent in 2017 with a rise to 1.7 percent in 2018.
At least the numbers for Brazil and the US are positive. Nigeria is another developing country to consider, and another story when it comes to growth. A period of strong, consistent expansion took place from 1999 to 2008 when GDP growth averaged 7.5 percent. GDP expansion held up through the global downturn until 2016. At that point, the economy faltered, battered by a collapse in oil prices and serious internal problems, including official corruption and the violent Boko Haram insurgency. Following a year of negative growth in 2016, the IMF’s projections for 2017 and 2018 are positive at 0.8 and 1.9 percent, respectively. These are not nearly as robust as figures from 2009 and 2010 when GDP was at 8.4 and 11.3 percent, but at least growth has returned after a short recession.
The Global Competitiveness report shows declining in openness, which threatens growth and prosperity. Here, countries are rated on a scale of 1-7 on how efficiently their economies are organized by way of transparency; rule of law; and takes on the determinants of long term growth. The United States has a score of 5.70, holding the number three spot. Brazil comes in at 81 with a score of 4.06. Nigeria’s score is 3.39 – number 127 on the list.
The Economy Rankings by Ease of Doing business report gives the United States a ranking of 8 on the 1-190 scale. Brazil’s ranking is 123 and Nigeria is at 169. The low rankings of Brazil and Nigeria insinuate a regulatory environment that is more conducive to starting and operating a local firm. Not only that, but the high ease of doing business would be expected from developing countries/economies as it indicates the prospects for foreign aid to supplied to a country.
With all of this being said about the countries of the United States, Brazil, and Nigeria, it is important to get down to the basics. While all three appear to be growing, investors will continue to be attracted to the dynamic and relatively transparent US economy. Brazil will win its share of investment as its large economy picks up steam again. Nigeria, however, continues to be hampered by domestic and international headwinds that will give investors pause.

Five Greatest Risks to Global Stability by Deanna Smith

                       NEW YORK, Oct. 31 
v Trump. With the election of Donald Trump came the risk of instability for the geopolitical climate and global economy. Trump was elected on basis that he would flex America’s raw power (issues with the Iran nuclear deal; threats to North Korea) and stray from trade agreements that shape the global economy, as we know it today. Trumps presidency is listed as a threat in the Eurasia Group’s Top Risk 2017: The Geopolitical Recession as well as Top 5 Risks for Business in 2017
v Corruption. Corruption leads to inequality. As a result, the people look to populist leaders who promise to fix the issues plaguing the poor (much like in the United States 2016 elections). However, the corruption in nations continues. Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index shows two-thirds of the 176 countries and regions of the world fall below the midpoint of the corruption scale.

v Competition between States. There is a new world order among us that encompasses the rise of the rest. America’s primacy is declining and other countries want and have the ability to challenge America. China is the second most important country in the world with a booming economy not to mention they finance the debt of the United States and are exercising their own sort of Roosevelt Corollary in the South China Sea. North Korea is increasingly testing out nuclear weapons and as of October 20, it is reported that North Korea is “months away” from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile.
v Terrorism. Terrorism has been high on America’s radar since 9/11 with al Qaeda and now with the Islamic State. When the fall of the Islamic State comes, it will cause a massive migration of Islamic extremists and foreign fighters that will threaten many countries.

v Mass Involuntary Migration.  As stated above, with the potential fall of the Islamic State comes the migration of Islamic extremist and foreign fighters not to mention civilians all together. Massive migration leads to a number of other issues, including but not limited states collapsing, social instability, and food crises.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Rainy Dusk in Wall Street by Mathilde Poncet & Sumesh Shiwakoty

NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE, October 24, 2017, 4 pm
By Mathilde Poncet and Sumesh Shiwakoty

In Manhattan’s Financial District, at the crossing between Wall Street and Broad Street, the market is about to close. Nothing seems to prevent business people in a hurry from catching their train or going to a meeting. Zig-zagging between tourists, people in suits seem to be used to all this animation and do not pay any attention to dozens of people taking selfies and pictures nearby. At the front door of the New York Stock Exchange, people are getting out, one by one or in little groups, armed with umbrellas and suitcases, fleeing toward the subway.
The Big Red One - as he likes being called – is a private security contractor. He did not want to say his name to stay into his character’s skin. Very tall, dressed in a red coat, a hat and sunglasses on, even if it rains, people can’t miss him. He is used to this mix between tourists hanging out and people in a rush. He talks about it with a certain lassitude.
 “Usually people are asking me about the bull. Where is the bull? Where is the bull? I said to them, it is bullshit”, says Big Red One, laughing. He actually refers to the Wall Street statue made by Arturo Di Modica, not far from the Stock Exchange, which has become over time a touristic attraction and a symbol of the neighborhood.
            When business people are not running to catch their trains, they are busy talking on their phones. Except for Tim, who is in the website business. Tim, who chose not to give his last name, does not work in the Financial District and had to go to a meeting in this area. He is sightseeing before catching his train. According to him, “there is too much power and wealth for one single place”.
The majority of people who are seen in the Wall Street can be categorized into two types. First are those with selfie-stick and second with suits. 
Most of the selfie-stick people do not really understand the inside details of the stock market, but they are there because they either watched a movie about Wall Street, heard about Wall Street in political debates or they just want a selfie with the ‘Charging Bull'. The people wearing a suit, on the other hand, are the ones with busiest schedules. The hardest thing in the Wall Street is to find someone in suits who will speak with you. Every single of them would have either meeting, interview or conference call to catch. After requesting around twenty people in suits, Jack Halsey, a corporate attorney by profession agreed for an interview, a walk-and-talk interview. According to Jack, there is not much money left in the Wall Street these days in comparison to the Park Avenue.
“All the new banks and big financial firms are based in the Park Avenue, and that’s where all the money sits,” he said. “Wall Street is just a thing to say”.

            In front of the statue of George Washington that sits next to New York Stock Exchange, Ahmad Ali, an immigrant from Egypt was selling ‘halal food’ in his food cart. “What kind of people usually come to eat here?” With a smile on his face, Ali replied, “All sort of people, from tourists to bankers”. Pointing to tall buildings nearby, he added, “I have few regular customers who work in these buildings.” When asked if his customers wear suits, he answered laughingly, “money can buy you food but not taste”. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Does the U.S. government have a need to keep information secret?

By Maddie Miniats
 OCTOBER 3, 2017- The United States government has a definite need to keep information secret from the United States public because it is the government’s responsibility to ensure the safety of the American people. Allowing the American people to have full access to the government’s classified information would dismantle the difference between the citizens and the government. In some ways what Edward Snowden did was courageous and heroic but sometimes the citizens simply do not need to know.
As the Deputy Director of the NSA, Richard Ledgett, says if you are not placed into a category by the National Security Agency as a threat to national security, they have no interest in your activities online. It isn’t as if they are scrolling through the data of the recent meme searches of a 17-year-old online or shuffling through your chainmail.
Snowden expresses that the reason why the people should be up in arms is that we need to protect our rights for when we actually need them and not give them up so quickly. A response to that would be that no one is “giving up” their rights, people are just not as paranoid of the government.
People know the government needs to do what it needs to do to protect its people. All in all the people trust the system and trust the government. Though it is important for people like Edward Snowden to check the government’s actions and reveal to them that the citizens of the U.S. are cautious, there will not be a day in which there will be a free flow of information between the citizens of the United States and the United States government.

The citizens of the U.S. don’t want to know everything the government is undertaking just as much as the government doesn’t want to know that you have online shopped one too many times this month.

A Drizzly Afternoon in Lincoln Center

By Karmen Kollar and Maddie Miniats
LINCOLN CENTER Oct, 24, 2017: 4:15pm- On a rainy Tuesday afternoon, three ballet dancers crossed the square. Some tourists were taking pictures enthusiastically. Flocks of students passed by with heavy backpacks. We were debating the significance of the iconic fountain among the buildings of Lincoln Center.

A lady in a French beret, who was posing for pictures in front of the Met, appeared to be at home. Natasha, as we later found out, was originally from Russia but now lives in Florida, had lived in Queens for 20 years. She immediately stated with pride that she had never missed an opera performance at The Met during the years she lived here. She explained that she had seen Aida seven times and would be seeing The Hoffman Stories that night for the second time. When asked how she felt about Lincoln Center she said “This is my life” smiling, her eyes sparkling behind her green eyeliner.

4:30pm - A couple standing under the awning of the New York City Ballet looking at a poster of ballet dancer Chase Finlay. Jalna Jaeger, from Connecticut, a self-identified “ballet geek,” says enthusiastically “We know him!” She has been going to the New York City ballet since she saw the Nutcracker as a little girl when Lincoln Center first opened. To our surprise, Jalna expressed her love of the fountain.

Two Fordham students, Kyle and Nathaniel, standing by the fountain explained that they often come here to relax and reflect between classes. Nathaniel, wearing a red Fordham sweatshirt, said that he has often come on dates here. Turns out he is also an opera and theater fan and goes to shows and performances frequently. Alluding to the iconic scene in which Cher attends the Met with her date: “This also where Moonstruck with Cher was filmed so…” and laughs.
4:50pm - A few teenagers sitting under the trees next to the reflection pool, Madeline, Emma, Jadelyse, students at LaGuardia High School, explained that Lincoln Center was a nice place to come after school. While the three girls sat giggling and posing for our photo, the boy sat with them indifferently - possibly anxious to get away.

Though the rain continued to fall softly over the buildings and the square, it did not stop people from leisurely crossing between the famous buildings of the Philharmonic, Ballet and the Met. Tourists would enter the square with happiness in their eyes and for a brief moment, this one place became everything that mattered, where dreams have come true and hearts are opened.