(March 2013) The consumer products sector truly has the capability to generate “big” data—spanning point-of-sale information, customer sentiment, weather forecasts, supply-chain tracking and far more. Firms in the industry struggle, however, to work out how to fully exploit all these data assets for competitive advantage. Many focus on technology issues, which remain a consideration, but technology is not the main hindrance to effectively tapping big data.
(March 2013) Composite leading indicators (CLIs), designed to anticipate turning-points in economic activity relative to trend, issued on Monday, showed diverging growth patterns in the economic outlook of major economies. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based think tank, said in China, India and to a lesser degree in Brazil the indicators point to growth below trend. In Russia however, growth picking up. However, the world’s biggest emerging markets have finally emerged and are now powering global expansion. In 2011, Brazil, Russia, India and China (the original BRIC countries) created the equivalent of a new Italy in terms of economic output. Global growth this decade is expected to be the higher than in the past three decades thanks to emerging economies.
(March 2013) Global economic growth moderated slightly in February 2013, as rates of expansion in manufacturing production and services business activity both slowed.
(March 2013) World merchandise trade volumes only grew 2.2% in 2012 compared with 5.8% in 2011 and 15.1% in 2010.
(March 2013) "In Tunisia, protesters escalated calls for the restoration of the country's suspended constitution. Meanwhile, Egyptians rose in revolt as strikes across the country brought daily life to a halt and toppled the government. In Libya, provincial leaders worked feverishly to strengthen their newly independent republic," thus wrote 'Foreign Affairs,' the US magazine in 2011. It was referring to events in 1919, long before the Internet was conceived.
(March 2013) Growth of the global manufacturing sector was maintained in February 2013, although the rate of improvement eased from the start of the year and was only modest.
(February 2013) Global cross-border capital flows have fallen more than 60% from their pre-crisis peak, with the UK seeing the biggest fall, highlighting the challenges created by a plunge in cross-border lending and the availability of funds for investment.
(February 2013) Life expectancy is increasing in most countries and has exceeded 80 in several, as low-mortality nations continue to make progress in averting deaths. The bulk of the mortality reduction has occurred since 1900 and has been experienced by only about 4 of the roughly 8,000 human generations that have ever lived. Moreover, mortality improvement in humans is on par with or greater than the reductions in mortality in other species achieved by laboratory selection experiments and endocrine pathway mutations. Researchers say this observed plasticity in age-specific risk of death is at odds with conventional theories of ageing.
(February 2013) Historic lows for interest rates and bond yields mean low prospective returns on all assets. The financial crisis has created a new investment landscape. Yields on sovereign bonds in safe-haven countries have fallen to historic lows. This has prolonged the bull market in bonds, but prospective real yields in many countries are now negative, or very low. Meanwhile, since 2000, equity returns in developed markets have been disappointing, leading many to ask if the cult of equity is dead. What rates of return should investors now expect from equities, bonds, and cash?
(February 2013) The outlook for economic growth is gradually improving in many parts of the world. Investors, businesses and consumers are becoming more confident, the Chinese economy is picking up after its downturn in 2012, and—despite a fourth quarter contraction in GDP (gross domestic product) - - there is evidence of a more sustainable recovery in the US. However, the global economy has yet to fully work off the effects of the financial crisis and multicountry housing bust of 2008-09, and the debt crisis in the Eurozone - - although moving into a less acute phase - - remains both a real and present danger to financial stability and a serious drag on economic growth.