If you live in North America or Europe it’s easy to get sucked in to this global depression scenario. The fact is that not everyone is on a downward slope of stagnant growth and escalating debt – African economies are actually growing now faster than ever. The continent that has long been the ’basket case’ of the world is now looking at average growth rates of 6%, a level European economies can only dream about.
But there’s more, in some of the major no go areas, investment is beginning to flood in. The latest boost is the report issues by the IIF (Institute for International Finance), who have spent some time analysing the African figures to see if these growth figures really stand up to scrutiny. Their conclusion is that behind Asia, Africa is the fastest growing area in the world.
The IIF are not that well known outside the financial markets but they are hugely influential and respected by investors and financial bodies. The positive report is a huge step for encouraging more investment from the big financial investors across the globe. The main reason that finally Africa is starting to grow is the progress in stabilizing the countries. Most African nations have put in more stable governments and their economies are finally looking somewhere you can invest safely.
There is a little problem however with some of their research, the report does cover African nations but only seven of them. Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania are some of the success stories, stabilising their economies on the backs of some significant mineral resources. They are still relatively poor countries but the fruits of a stable government are beginning to show encouraging signs.
If you’re interested in keeping up to date with all the global financial markets, there are a host of excellent programmes on BBC TV and radio. If you’re outside the UK you can access these sites, by using a proxy server, this site shows you how to access UK TV online – http://www.anonymous-proxies.org/2009/02/using-iplayer-abroad-viewing-bbc-via.html. So if you’re beginning to get frustrated with the investment options in Europe or the US, check out some of the African nations who have overcome their difficulties – they are out there.
Recently came across another option for investigating different sites which are normally blocked. I found it because I needed a method to enable access from tablets and smart phones, the solution is called – Smart DNS and it simply requires modifying your DNS server to use a specially configured one.
This weekend in Sydney, the finance ministers of the G20 group of countries meet. Every meeting has an official theme, and this one is no exception – the subject is restoring global group.
Over the last few years we have seen amid the turmoil in the developed economies of the world, the emergence of huge growth in Asia and South American economies in particular. Much of this growth had in part been due to the other countries problems particularly the US. The US Federal Reserve for example has been buying bonds in order to keep money cheap and interest rates low – this has helped the US economy return to growth but it has many other economic impacts. For example funds were driven towards the emerging countries seeking to invest in the higher growth rates and higher interest rates.
Now this money is being returned to a more prosperous US, also because the risks in developed countries are much lower. This is causing a huge problem with big falls in currencies in Argentina and India for example. The US has faced some criticism that it’s own economic policies have caused such instability in other countries.
Over the last few years, we amongst others have reported some of the incredible rises in the economies of some of these nations particularly the likes of Brazil and Argentina. However it seems that the underlying instability and weaknesses of these economies means that they could be subject to damaging fluctuations when big economies like the USA change their policies.
It’s unlikely that we will ever see the situation where a country like the US will alter it’s economic policy in order to reduce global instability, western democracies really aren’t built like that. However it is hopeful that meetings like this with the other G20 countries will at least make them ‘mindful’ of the affect that their policies can have on other countries with less stable infrastructure.
There are some interesting debates on the US media both print and online, you can access the US online news services from ABC, CNN and NBC by using a US proxy service like this.
Additionally there is coverage of the G20 meeting itself on the BBC website, the majority is accessible internationally although to view the news and broadcast documentaries – you may need to watch this video.
For accessing the above reports on an iPad please see this post
For many years in economic terms – the word debt has been synonymous with South America, Africa and the Third World. We looked on and marvelled at the huge amounts of debt that Mexico and Argentina got into and wondered how they managed to get into that mess. Yet now we who live in North America and Europe are pretty much in the same boat. A lot of the causes are the same, ridiculous overspending by our governments and a rather ludicrous consumption driven lifestyle that many of us simply could not afford. We also of course had a huge selection of badly run and reckless financial institutions formerly known as banks.
You would have thought economists would have seen all this coming, but apart from a rare few – nobody was any wiser than the man on the street. The crisis in the Eurozone is now likely to affect the lives of each and every one of us for the foreseeable future. So it’s worth keeping up with events, maybe we can’t effect them but it’s got to be better to be aware of the facts. They are also very fast moving and of course we all have savings, debts, mortgages and pensions of our own to watch out for.
One of the best place in my opinion to keep up with events is the BBC website. It’s a well funded and impartial site which is updated 24 hours a day online with the latest news and events. It’s especially useful if you live away from your home country – I currently live in Turkey and the BBC Iplayer and website is a real lifeline for me. Normally the BBC Iplayer – which streams the shows and news programmes is restricted to the UK only but you can use a BBC web proxy to get access to. It’s worth investing in this neat little service as it also allows you to access live news broadcasts and shows from other media sites across the world like the US, Canada and Australia – more information here.
Not all debt is bad, after all look at the roof over your head – the place you live is probably the result of you have taken on some debt. How long would we have to save before we could have bought a house outright? I’m sure my parents would have got kinda of tired of me hanging around their house into my forties.
If you look outside you might see a car, or a truck – perhaps in the corner of the room a nice flat screen TV. All these may have been acquired by some debt. How many companies would be in existence today without the ability to borrow money – the firms who employ thousands owe their existence to the ability to borrow money to expand. There’s a whole lot of stuff in my life from my laptop which I happily sit and watch BBC Iplayer through a proxy – http://www.theninjaproxy.org/tv/how-to-use-a-bbc-iplayer-proxy/ to my lovely house and car – all would have been much more difficult to obtain without debt.
But unfortunately many of the poorest countries in the world are saddled with a different type of debt which is crippling their development and leaving their citizens in poverty. Much of it wasn’t used to boost a countries economy, it didn’t establish infrastructure improvements or build schools or hospitals. If this was the case the debt may have been serviced properly on the benefits accrued. No, much of this third world debt was frittered or simply stolen by whichever tin pot ruler was in charge at the time. The Western world threw money at countries thinking that would make things right.
There were little benefits to this debt but the repercussions of the repayments have left many countries stranded in a poverty that is impossible to escape. There are the repayments of course and various conditions attached to the payments – further restricting the opportunity to invest in their own country.
The basic problem is much of this debt – much of it from the 1970s was a complete failure – the projects usually achieved little or nothing. We must let these countries have the chance to compete, the shackles of debts from Western inspired ideas should be removed to give them half a chance.