|"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award||ICC WTO||London|
Three of the world's top 10 economies are ending the year in worse shape than they started. And they've only got themselves to blame.
Two referendums and an unparalleled currency experiment have left them facing a very uncertain 2017.
Here they are, and here's what happened:
The United Kingdom
The first jolt of the year came on June 23, when the people of the U.K. voted to leave the European Union.
The "Brexit" referendum had an immediate impact on global markets, sending shares crashing. They soon recovered, but the biggest loser was Britain's currency.
The pound crashed to its lowest level in over 30 years against the dollar. It has steadied since but has still lost 18% of its value, pushing up the price of everyday goods. Inflation will accelerate next year.
But more damaging is the uncertainty the British economy faces in breaking up with its biggest trading partner, and the threat that companies may move operations out of the country.
The U.K. was enjoying one of the fastest rates of growth in the G7. But the economy could slump to its slowest pace of expansion in seven years in 2017.
What happens when a country that lives on cash abruptly decides to ban the vast majority of its banknotes?
India was forced to find out on Nov. 8, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that 500 rupee and 1,000 rupee notes would no longer be legal. They would be replaced with new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes.
The shock move caused chaos for millions of people who struggled to get their hands on the new money. Businesses have suffered from the cash crunch, and India's high-flying economy is suffering as a result.
India's 7.3% growth rate, the envy of every major economy, is expected to slow dramatically. The Reserve Bank of India has already cut its growth forecast for the current fiscal year by 0.5%; analysts say the damage could be much more severe than that.
The government says the rupee ban was aimed at combating tax evasion and counterfeit currency, and will benefit the India in the long run. But political opponents question whether the pain is a price worth paying.
On Dec. 4, Italians voted overwhelmingly against constitutional reforms proposed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The reforms were aimed at ending political gridlock and reviving Italy's stagnant economy.
Renzi resigned the next day. The ensuing political and economic uncertainty has already claimed one casualty -- nervous investors refused to provide the world's oldest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMDPF), with the $5 billion it urgently needed to stay afloat.
The Italian government has been forced to step in with a bailout, drawn from a $21 billion rescue fund that will add to the country's huge debt mountain of $2.34 trillion.
Italy's banks are just one lingering headache. The threat of early elections has receded but not gone away. If they happen, populist parties of left and right could ride a wave of public discontent with Europe.
One of them -- the Five-Star Movement, founded by comedian Beppe Grillo -- could make a Brexit-style referendum on the euro a cornerstone of its campaign.
Analysts say the odds of such a referendum happening are slim, but the political risks for Europe are rising.
According to the bill, a business with sales income of no more than MNT 1.5 billion will have a corporate income tax rate of one percent in the following sectors: food, clothing and textiles, construction materials, agriculture and livestock.
The government stated its goal is to ease the tax burden on small and medium-sized enterprises, hoping to create jobs in these sectors. Should parliament approve the bill developed by the government, it will take effect starting January 1.
BEIJING, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- China's energy consumption is expected to reach 4.36 billion tonnes of coal equivalent in 2016, up 1.4 percent year on year, an official said.
Non-fossil fuel consumption accounts for 13.3 percent of the total amount, up 1.3 percentage points year on year, as China encourages users to switch from coal and oil to cleaner fuels, Nur Bekri, director of National Energy Administration, told a conference.
The country aims to raise the ratio of non-fossil fuel consumption to 14.3 percent in 2017, while cutting the ratio of coal to around 60 percent, he added.
He also called for efforts to promote clean energy and emission reductions, optimize the country's energy structure and strengthen international energy cooperation.
China has long been promoting clean fuels and is committed to increasing investment in renewable energy.
It is currently the world's biggest country in terms of installed water, solar and wind capacity.
Toshiba shares fell 20% on Wednesday after the firm warned that its US nuclear business may be worth less than previously thought.
The slump was large enough for trading in stocks of the Japanese industrial giant to be automatically halted.
Shares had already fallen 12% on Tuesday, after reports of the likely write-down began circulating.
Toshiba said the possible heavy one-off loss was linked to a deal done by a US subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric.
Westinghouse bought the nuclear construction and services business from Chicago Bridge & Iron in 2015. But there is now a dispute over the costs of the deal and the value of the assets it took on.
Toshiba President Satoshi Tsunakawa apologised for "causing concern".
The news is a blow for the firm's corporate reputation, which is still struggling to recover after it emerged profits had been overstated for years - prompting the chief executive to resign.
Since then, Toshiba has been trying to slim down the business, including selling its medical devices operations to Canon.
But while the share price slump is a blow for investors, 2016 has still been a pretty good year for the firm's stocks - which had gained more than 77% before this week's falls.
South Korea's pension fund head has been arrested in a probe into alleged corruption involving electronic firm Samsung and the country's president.
Special prosecutors said they raided National Pension Service (NPS) chairman Moon Hyung-pyo's home on Monday, before arresting him on Wednesday.
The NPS is the world's third-largest pension scheme.
It comes amid President Park Geun-hye's impeachment over the scandal involving her longstanding mentor Choi Soon-sil.
In the latest arrest, investigators are looking into NPS's support of an $8bn (£6.5bn) merger between two Samsung Group affiliates and whether Mr Moon used his influence as health minister at the time, to pressure it to back the deal.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare runs the pension service, which manages 545 trillion won ($451bn; £367bn) and was a major shareholder in Cheil Industries Inc and Samsung C&T Corp when they merged.
The NPS has denied previous reports that Mr Moon pressured the organisation to back the deal, and Mr Moon told reporters on Tuesday that he would cooperate with the investigation.
The scandal has also caught Samsung up in allegations that it backed foundations controlled by Choi Soon-sil in the hope of receiving political favours, which investigators are also examining.
Politicians voted on 9 December to impeach President Park - a decision South Korea's constitutional court has six months to uphold or overturn. Until then she remains formally president but stripped of her powers, which are handed to the prime minister, a presidential appointee.
Ms Park denies wrongdoing but has apologised for the way she managed her relationship with Ms Choi, who also denies committing criminal offences.
BEIJING - More sectors will be open to foreign investment, an important stimulus for China's real economy, the Ministry of Commerce has said.
In 2017 a larger share of capital inflow will be directed to high-end manufacturing, a key part of the real economy, Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said at a national commerce work conference concluding Tuesday.
Investment access restrictions will be lowered for general manufacturing as well, he added.
Foreign investment will also highlighted in the development of a modern service industry, as the country opens its finance and telecommunication service sectors in an orderly fashion, Gao said.
Developing the real economy will be a major feature of the country's efforts to go global next year, with more investment for technical and managerial expertise.
The country's foreign direct investment, excluding investment in the financial sector, is likely to be around 785 billion yuan ($126 billion) this year, with 70 percent of the inflow going to the service sector, official estimates show.
To attract more foreign investment, Gao called for repeating the success of free trade zones, which have fewer investment restrictions.
German development cooperation pledges another 7 Mio. EUR for Mongolian protected areas www.montsame.mn
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Germany and Mongolia continue their successful cooperation at protecting the country´s unique biodiversity. Germany will support the Mongolian protected areas’ landscape with another 7 mil. EUR.
Thereby, this year´s pledge is increased to 13,5 mil. EUR in grant funding for this innovative approach, which aims at improving management structures of natural spaces that deserve particular protection. 6,5 mil. EUR were already pledged during the successful governmental negotiations in Berlin, held November 23rd and 24th 2016. Germany provides Mongolia an amount totaling to 25 mil. EUR for the joint project “Biodiversity and Adaption to Climate Change”.
The Mongolian contribution adds further 3.5 mil. EUR. An increase of the Mongolian contribution is being planned currently. D. Oyunkhorol - Mongolian Minister for Environment and Tourism - highlighted in a meeting with Dr. Christian Glass – Head of the Development Cooperation Division at the German Embassy – and Petar Gjorgjiev – Director of KfW Office Ulaanbaatar – the high importance of the cooperation. She stressed that with this project Mongolia’s unique nature can be preserved, the livelihood can be enhanced and, simultaneously, the basis for sustainable tourism can be established.
As of now, the following 11 protected areas were selected this year with the aim to improve their management and park infrastructure with German and Mongolian support: Dornod, Gorkji Terelj, Khangai, Khan Khentee, Khustai, Onon Balj, Orkhon, Otgontenger, Tarvagatai, Ulaan Taiga und Zed Khantai. With the additional funding, protected areas in western Mongolia shall be supported. Possible measures in the Gobi region may also be assessed. The innovative approach based on the principle of competition, whereby protected areas with good management concepts can apply, remains valid. Dr. Glass stressed that the support for protected areas and their population by the Mongolian Government remains an important investment to the country´s future, even in times of financial challenges.
In 2017, the German–Mongolian Development Cooperation celebrates its 25th anniversary. Approximately 347 mil. EUR of funding were pledged by Germany within these 25 years. Supporting Mongolia in the priority areas “Biodiversity”, “Energy Efficiency” and “Sustainable Resource Management”, Germany promotes the country´s sustainable development and remains an important partner in the sustainable improvement of the living conditions of the Mongolian population throughout the country and the implementation of the “Sustainable Development Goals”.
Eastern US coal miner, Peabody Energy, filed a reorganization plan last week to emerge from bankruptcy.
The plan was filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Peabody is targeting emergence around the beginning of the second quarter of 2017.
"Today's proposed plan is an important achievement in our path toward emergence," said Peabody Energy President and Chief Executive Officer Glenn Kellow in a news release.
"The plan charts Peabody's course forward and reflects an enormous amount of work by the company and multiple creditor groups to advance a proposal that has broad consensus, maximizes the value of the enterprise and paves the way for a sustainable future. We look forward to moving toward confirmation of the plan."
The company is negogiating with three key stakeholder groups—the First Lien Creditors, the Second Lien Group and the Unsecured Noteholder Group. It is also updating its projections given changes to the industry and commodity prices.
"Eight months ago, we set out on a path to strengthen the balance sheet and position the company for long-term success amid historically challenged coal industry fundamentals," said Kellow.
"While we still have outstanding issues to resolve prior to emergence, this plan demonstrates that Peabody retains an unmatched asset base, leading U.S. platform, substantial Australian thermal and metallurgical coal business, and a team of skilled employees with a fundamental commitment to lasting values. We're pleased to reach this important step as we move to the next phase of Peabody's Chapter 11 process. And we appreciate all of our employees' actions in continuing to manage safe, low-cost operations and deliver the results that can best ensure our success."
The global diamond industry is facing disruption as a result of the Indian government’s demonetization move which has caused a cash crisis in the country.
Eighty percent of the world's diamonds are cut and polished in India, where the industry employs a million people. The short supply of cash has severely affected the operations.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month withdrew the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes (about $7.35, $14.7) from circulation, turning 86 percent of the cash in the country to paper. The dramatic measure was said to fight tax evasion and corruption.
Indians were given until December 30 to swap their old bills for new ones.
Almost all of India's transactions are in cash and many people don't have a bank account.
The liquidity crunch has badly hit consumer demand for diamond jewelry in India, which is the world's third-biggest market.
Demand for precious stones in India usually picks up in the winter wedding season. This year sales were plunging as nearly two-thirds of jewelry is usually purchased with cash.
Traders also complain lack of money damages their operations. "The market is frozen. We don't have cash to buy diamonds," said trader Kalpesh Savaliya who’s been in the jewelry business for 25 years.
Experts say the disruption could lead to cheaper polished stones on the market, with a temporary glut and lower prices at wholesale and store level.
"During the cash crunch, diamonds are one of the last things people want to buy. At least for the next six months demand will remain weak," Praveenshankar Pandya, head of India's Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) told Reuters.
As for the higher-value jewelry business, it will be protected because cutting and polishing are also done in Israel, Belgium and by bigger Indian companies that rely on bank transactions.
"The knock-on effect of Indian demonetizations has meant a reduction in the price of lower quality diamonds," said Tobias Kormind, managing director of 77 Diamonds, an online jewelry retailer based in London. "As a result, we've seen an increase in demand for those kinds of diamonds as our clients have snapped up these favorable deals."
India's rough diamond imports grew by more than 30 percent between April and November, GJEPC data showed. Exports of cut and polished diamonds rose 12.2 percent.
Amazon just had its greatest holiday season ever.
And the retail giant had some fun detailing just how great it was.
The voice-controlled Echo Dot was its top-selling item, followed by its Fire TV stick, Fire tablet and Echo.
Shoppers with an Amazon Prime membership, which costs $99 a year and offers free two-day shipping, purchased more than one billion items during the holiday shopping season.
December 19 was the peak shipping day for Amazon (AMZN, Tech30), while December 23 was the biggest day for Prime Now deliveries. Among the most popular items for the two-hour delivery service that day were Oreo cookies.
TVs were hot items this holiday season: The Samsung 32-inch Smart LED TV and the Avera 32-inch LED TV were among the top sellers in the category. But the 4K TVs were also popular, with Amazon saying customers bought enough to reach the top of Mount Everest more than nine times.
There was a lot of sparkle this holiday season as well: 10,451 carats of diamonds were purchased on the website, and a watch was sold every 1.5 seconds.
The fanfare over the Broadway mega-hit Hamilton is still going strong. Amazon reported shoppers ordered enough "Hamilton: The Revolution" collectible books and albums to give every guest at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City (which has 1,319 seats and is where the show performs), a copy for 96 consecutive shows.
When it comes to video games, Pokémon reigned supreme this holiday with Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon for the Nintendo 3DS being the most popular.
Shoppers scooped up a lot of toys and Hasbro's Pie Face games were the best-selling in the category.
The holiday season wouldn't be complete without some homemade treats, and shoppers bought enough KitchenAid mixers to make around 7.5 million cookies at once. Amazon also said it sold enough running shoes to run 18,603 times around the globe. That's a lot of burned calories.