Briefs: Geographic Trends

Wildcard: The Splinter Net

SplinterNet_mikecogh
  • The Internet “is arguably the most transnational economic and political network in human history,” one that has “greatly benefited the spread of commerce and ideas.”

The US, along with many allies, has been a champion of a free and open Internet, and US-based multinational companies have reaped substantial rewards from Internet economic activity. Some other nations have sought, to varying extents, to control Internet content and access.

Because of its global nature, which provides a ready highway for hackers and spies, it’s been argued that the Internet threatens to weaken national borders.

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Wildcard: Massive Solar Storm

solarstorm

On Sept. 1, 1859, astronomer Richard Carrington watched a massive solar flare erupt from the surface of the sun. The “Carrington event” sent a stream of charged particles toward Earth — producing the largest disturbances in Earth’s magnetic field ever recorded, lighting the night sky with beautiful auroras visible as far south as Cuba, and causing major telegraph outages.

The probability of an extreme solar-weather event as large as the Carrington event of 1859 occurring in the next decade has been estimated at about 12 percent.

The intensity of solar weather peaks on an 11-year cycle, with the next expected peak in 2012–2015. Measured elements of solar weather include solar flares, coronal mass ejections, solar wind, and solar energetic particles.

Solar flares emit streams of charged particles; when the particles reach Earth, they cause changes in the planet’s magnetic field and electrical environment that can, for instance, induce DC currents in power grids with the potential to disrupt and damage electrical systems.Read more…

China’s Evolving Diet

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Chinese consumers continue to shift their diets as incomes rise — including more sophisticated tastes, the pursuit of convenience, and an increasing demand for food safety.

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The Future of Cities: Smarter, Greener

flickr_Trey Ratcliff

Propelled by drivers in all five STEEP categories (social, technological, environmental, economic, and political), many of the world’s cities are striving to become greener and smarter.

A rising number of cities are pursuing environmental sustainability and embracing intelligent systems not only for their own sake (to cut costs, to run more efficiently, and to better serve their residents), but also for the sake of the greater world (to reduce carbon emissions and to inspire other cities to do the same).

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Rising Giants: Companies Welcome

Gabriel White flickr

The landscape of global business is changing. While World 1 economies still dominate the global business landscape, more and more companies based in World 2 and even World 3 are making their presence known on a worldwide scale.

These rising giants are not only serving — and in some cases dominating — their home markets, but they also are increasingly seeking to expand into other markets, both from other emerging economies and from developed economies. The growth and expansion of companies from emerging economies will dramatically transform the global business landscape in the next two decades.

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The Future of Low-Carbon Vehicles

Image: pictruck340, flickr creative commons for commercial use

In Europe and most advanced economies, government regulation and growing consumer interest are driving the development and deployment of vehicles that reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and resultant carbon emissions.

While the expanding market for more sustainable vehicles does not yet signal the imminent demise of the internal combustion engine, the combination of consumer demand and regulatory pressure will accelerate the shift toward hybrid, electric, and alternative-fuel vehicles over the next two to three decades.

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The Three Tribes: Culture Breeds Commerce

3Tribes

In today’s globalized and digitally enabled economy, cultural ties powerfully bind people and communities across geographic distances.

In fact, culture is a strong determinant of who does business with whom, lubricating the wheels of international trade, investment, and consumerism much more than is commonly recognized, asserts Joel Kotkin, a geographer and author, in The New World Order, a paper for the Legatum Institute.

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Latin America’s Rising Middle Class

LatinAmericaRisingClass

New studies reveal that in the 2000s, the middle classes of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) grew by a striking 50 percent. As of 2009, the LAC middle class had expanded to at least 152 million consumers, comprising almost a third (29%) of the region’s population. Moreover, this trend has proven resilient to the global economic downturn. The result is that for the first time in history, LAC has nearly as many middle-class people as poor ones.

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China in Africa: Seeking Resources and Markets

ChristianRowlands_flickr

China is rapidly increasing its presence in Africa through private and public investment, economic aid, and trade. It is outdoing the developed world in several respects: size of investments and aid packages, scale of infrastructure-building and resource acquisitions, and the sheer numbers of people involved on the ground.

As a result, China will help to reshape Africa as a competitive environment and as a market. This brief examines drivers of China’s interest and activity in Africa, explores some of the likely outcomes, and analyzes the implications of these changes for businesses and other organizations.

Conflict-Free Products: Ethics in the Marketplace

Image: MauroCateb
Flickr, creative commons for commercial use

The idea of “conflict-free” products is spreading. Originating in the role of mineral industries in Africa, it centers on the concept that some products are ethically questionable because their ingredients or inputs are sourced from areas facing armed conflict, thereby contributing to instability and war.

To date, the idea of conflict products has mostly been applied to select, high-profile conflicts, but this could change. Activists and governments are moving to increase consumer awareness of the issue, reduce the trade in such goods, and change business behaviors.

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Top Global Risks: Is the World Riskier?

Top3GlobalRisks

The world is slightly more at risk in 2013 than it was in 2012, according to Global Risks 2013, the eighth annual edition of this authoritative series on global risk from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

According to the 1,000-plus experts surveyed by WEF, almost all of the top 50 global risks identified in 2012 are deemed more likely to manifest in the next 10 years than they were in 2012. Many were seen as having greater potential impact than a year ago as well.

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Eurozone Breakup: Possible Consequences

EU_Eurozone

When the euro began circulating in 2002, it was seen as a great step forward in the economic and fiscal integration of EU members. Now it is a source of great divisiveness, as the EU struggles to manage economic crises within the confines of the euro.

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The Future Impact of the Panama Canal

Panama_dsasso - flickr

When the Panama Canal opened in 1914, it revolutionized shipping, dramatically cutting the amount of time it took to ship goods to North American and South American ports, both east and west. But as trade between the Americas and Asia grew in the 20th century, the engineering marvel known as the Panama Canal became increasingly obsolete.

Massive ships that carried up to three times the freight of ships a generation earlier became more prevalent in the shipping industry. But these supersize ships were too big to navigate the Canal.

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The Future of Chile: Demography, Consumer Life, Business Conditions

Chile_BruceW_Flickr

 

A World 2 country in South America, Chile has achieved real development and is on the shortlist to transition to World 1 status. It has a high percentage of middle-income consumers, with sophisticated buying habits. Business conditions are good, and the country is ranked highly in global lists of competitiveness.

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Argentine Consumer Life: Five Trends

Argentina

Argentina is an upper-middle-income nation with aspirations to join the ranks of high-income economies over the course of the next two decades. It has already recovered significantly from the 2001 government default and the subsequent economic collapse that plunged more than half of its people into poverty in 2002.

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The Arab Digital Generation

ArabDigitalGens

Internet use is low but rising in the Arab world. One group is ahead of the curve, however: the so-called Arab digital generation. These young, enthusiastic users of information technology show distinct characteristics, both in their approach to IT and in other aspects of their lives. This brief examines the group, based on Understanding the Arab Digital Generation, a 2012 report produced through a collaboration between Booz and Co. and Google, and several supplemental sources.Read more…

Turkish Consumers: New Prosperity and Optimism

TurkishCustomers

Turkey is a middle-income emerging market. A strengthening economy is bringing new prosperity to Turkish consumers, and the middle class is expanding. Its demographic profile, typical of upper World 2, features large youth cohorts that reinforce the country’s economic growth.

Turkey’s outlook and the values of its consumers are changing, too. Even as it continues discussions about entry into the EU, it is expressing a more organic identity that incorporates its Islamic roots and growing ties to the Middle East. Its consumers see their future with the EU, but are increasingly confident in Turkey’s independent regional role.

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Women Rising in Worlds 2 and 3: The Third Billion

flickr_U.S. Army
Working women in emerging markets are making unprecedented strides in education and income, giving them vast new opportunities as citizens, consumers, employees, and entrepreneurs. Some business and political leaders refer to these women as “the third billion” — an “emerging market” equal in numbers and potential to China or India, with up to a billion women who are willing and able to contribute to the global economy.

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Wildcard—Massive Solar Storm: Threats to Power, Communications, and Navigation

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THE WILDCARD: On September 1, 1859, astronomer Richard Carrington watched a massive solar flare erupt from the surface of the sun. The “Carrington event” sent a stream of charged particles toward Earth—producing the largest disturbances in Earth’s magnetic field ever recorded, lighting the night sky with beautiful auroras visible as far south as Cuba, and causing major telegraph outages.

The probability of an extreme solar-weather event as large as the Carrington event of 1859 occurring in the next decade has been estimated at about 12%.

The intensity of solar weather peaks on an eleven-year cycle, with the next expected peak in 2012–2015.

Measured elements of solar weather include solar flares, coronal mass ejections, solar wind, and solar energetic particles.

Solar flares emit streams of charged particles; when the particles reach Earth, they cause changes in the planet’s magnetic field and electrical environment that can, for instance, induce DC currents in power grids with the potential to disrupt and damage electrical systems.Read more…

Entomophagy: Insects as Food

bugs_flickr_Line Sabroe

Entomophagy — the consumption of insects by humans — is an ancient practice that has fallen out of favor in some cultures in recent millennia. Yet insects (and some arachnids) are gaining new attention as a food source.

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