The struggling economy in Russia is already facing more challenges, including currency volatility, deteriorating oil prices and sanctions by the West. However, Arkady Dvorkovich, the prime minister, feels that this is not likely to affect the economy. Despite the 0.6 percent economic growth in the country in 2014, the dropping oil prices are likely to cause a slump in Russia economy.
According to the International Monetary Fund, the economy is likely to drop by 3.8 percent in 2015 and about 1.1 percent in 2016. However, Dvorkovich insists that the country has enough reserves to withstand this turbulence. He further said that the current situation gives the agricultural exports and manufacturing sector a competitive edge in the global markets.
The current fluctuation in oil prices, coupled with the currency volatility as well as the Western sanctions does not seem to affect the already struggling economy in Russia. According to the Prime Minister, Arkady Dvorkovich, the main problem facing the economy in the country is the lack of funding for new projects.
Despite the 0.6 percent growth in the economy in 2014, the economy is expected to decline considerably this year. This is mainly because of the decline in oil prices, the sanctions on the country by the West and the underlying structural weaknesses in the country. This is expected to impact greatly on the business as well as consumer confidence.
Despite its earlier predicted decline, of 3 percent, this year, the International Monetary Fund changed its growth outlook for Russia to 3.8 percent this year. However, the prime minister still insists that the country is not likely to suffer this much. According to him, the country has sufficient reserves to withstand this turbulence, especially in the commodities market. Additionally, Dvorkovich mentioned that all these happenings give the countries agricultural and manufacturing a competitive edge, with regards to their pricing in the global market.
Having ranged in the low level for a while now, the EUR/USD currency pair hit a new level (1.0600) on Friday, closer to its support level (1.0550). This change may be attributed to the shift by FOMC members in accordance with the hawkish comments from, which cause the dollar to strengthen. This downward trend is estimated to continue because the European Union situation is not improving.
As of Friday, the US dollar had appreciated against the GBP to hit 1.4585. This caused an FOMC member, Jeffrey Lacker, to echo his opinion that the interest rates should be increased in June, should there be no relevant data to support the opposite trend for this currency pair. Other FOMC members have also supported his opinion. At the same time, the U.K outlook has declined owing to the unclear circumstances surrounding the upcoming elections.
Since no important economic events are expected to be released today, this currency pair is expected to range between its resistance of 1.4725 and support 1.4565.
The expectation that the weakening of the yen will lead to inflation of prices across Japan is probably wrong. This is because of the declining oil prices; since last June, crude oil prices have dropped by more than 50 percent. The economic policy of the Prime Minister Abe and the mandate of the Bank of Japan are to bring to an end the two decades deflation of the Yen. However, their efforts are yet to bear fruits. As of February this year, the inflation rate of the Yen was close to zero.
The increase of the consumption tax from 5 to 8 percent in April 2014 lend to the contraction of household spending by 2.9 percent. The depreciation of the Yen against the US dollar by about 30 percent, coupled with the increase in oil prices by 8 percent lend to inflation of prices by about 0.5 percent, in the second half of 2013.
Since October 2014, when the BOJ increased the quantitative easing program, the Yen has depreciated by about 10 percent. Having failed in its two-year target, meant to reduce inflation to 2 percent by this April, many analysts are expecting the BOJ to further ease the monetary policy and extend its goals.
For years people used checks for paying for things without ever giving it a second thought that they may one day become obsolete, then along came the debit card and all that changed. Could the same thing be happening with passwords? If recent trends are any indication, then the answer to this would be a resounding yes.
The online payment division of Alibaba, Alipay, has just announced that very soon they will be using facial recognition software to verify identity.
The Alibaba Chairman, Jack Ma, demonstrated how the technology would work at a recent trade fair. He used a smart phone camera to scan his face to verify his identity. This widely popular payment service in China has long made their wishes to expand globally no secret and has just taken a huge step toward that by giving payment service users a lot of confidence in them.
And it’s not only Alibaba that is trending toward eliminating passwords to use their services. Apple has already announced plans to use a fingerprint scanner on their iPhone’s in order to process Apple pay transactions and Google and Yahoo have also expressed a keen interest in using facial and fingerprint biometrics to verify identity.
It certainly does not look good for big fans of passwords and internet hackers as the end of the password is on the horizon.
The US dollar has been on an extremely strong run of late which has seen many investors real in some very big profits on their investments. Recently the US Dollar has experienced highs that it has not seen in over 11 years. But that rising trend came to a halt for a few days due to an unexpected drop in US retail sales. Experts expected that trend to slightly continue based on the fact that no new economic news was forthcoming.
The dollar retreated against both the Japanese Yen and Euro after experiencing 12 year highs of 121.34 and $1.0613 against them respectively. Part of this was due to the Eurozone’s 1 trillion euro bond sale going into effect. Investors are eagerly awaiting the results of several US Federal Reserve meetings which will take place in March to see how they will invest next. Most investors expect a mid-year interest rate hike to come into effect.
In the meantime, other countries are about to release their own economic data. Canada was one country expected to announce a good economic report, but not as good as their 35 thousand job gain in January. Although the Canadian Dollar strengthened against the US Dollar ever so slightly, this trend was not expected to continue much longer.
The end of 2014 saw the first resurgence in the price of gold in a long time and that trend continued into the new year. It had gold investors smiling again for the first time in a long time. But what happened next was totally unexpected. The USA made huge strides in 2014 in getting closer to energy independence and the world’s oil market collapsed. The turnaround of the dollar haltedthe gold surge in its tracks.
The dollar found itself at an 11 year high against many major currencies as a result of many new jobs being created in the USA and the non-farm payroll report being very positive. Spot Gold was around $1,170.95 an ounce which represented about a 3% loss on the year.
So what may happen next? It looks like the Federal Reserve of the USA may be forced to raise interest rates for the first time in a while.Higher interests rates combined with a strong dollar have typically decreased demand for precious metals such as gold in the past, which should drive their price of gold even lower.
One of the things gold investors have in their favor is the debt crisis in Greece. The uncertainty surrounding Greece’s financial crisis is providing a much needed push back for gold against the dollar.
It is no secret that Greece has struggled mightily financially in recent years. It is one of the key reasons for some of the problems with the Euro too. Greece’s newly elected government is searching for solutions to relieve the financial crisis in the country and one of the things that has been discussed is bringing back the old currency.
This thinking by Greece has raised a lot of financial fears in Europe and Greece because of what happened when the opposite currency exchange took place several years ago. Some of this comes about undoubtedly as a tactic by Greece’s new government to put pressure on the European Union to help them more with their debt crisis.
Despite all the talk of Greece leaving the Eurozone, many analysts see this as having a very low probability of it happening. They have their hands somewhat tied by the two bailouts they have received since 2010 that total almost 250 billion Euro. There has been a lot of tension going back and forth between the government of Greece and the Eurozone for a while now. Experts also think that this would deal a death blow to Greece financially because converting to the Drachma will not eliminate their debt to the Eurozone and Greece’s credibility would be all but lost in the World’s financial markets.
Not to mention, Greece would have problems designing and paying for the new currency under its current financial crisis, so don’t be looking for Greece to convert to the Drachma anytime soon.
Recently the European Central Bank (ECB) took an aggressive step to curtail the deflationary trend of the Euro. The ECB decided to initiate what they termed a ‘quantitative easing’ plan; the plan involved funding in excess over 1 trillion Euros.
With hope of that working, the ECB can know turn their attention back to Greece and the worry about the country’s just finished elections. As expected, the Syriza party wona majority of the vote and Alexis Tsipra was elected Greece’s new Prime minister. What worries the ECB is that the Syriza party ran based on an anti-austerity platform.
One of Syriza’s campaign promises was to aggressively lobby Eurozone and the ECB to reevaluate the amount of their debt holdings to Greece. The new government then will look to increase spending in an attempt to promote job growth.
Why is the ECB worried about this? There is a big fear that if Tsipra and the Syriza party get their way, then it could be enough to offset any gains made through the quantitative easing plan and send the European economies spiraling downward again. The results of the Greek election have definitely generated a feeling of uncertainty in global markets and have given rise to a lot more volatility in the markets at the same time.
The positive part of the election results are that Syriza has stated it no longer wants to leave the European Union; there was a big fear about this three years ago when Greece’s struggling economy severely faltered. Since that time and their subsequent bailout, under the terms of the agreement, Greece has been subject by periodic inspections by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union commission and has also been subjected to ECB reforms brought on by the urging of Germany.
Despite their new ambitions, it will be hard for Greece’s newly elected government to satisfy its campaign promises and at the same time ease tensions with the IMF and Europe.
Sometimes there is some economic news that is more than just a little bit surprising. Such is the case with social media giant Facebook. It is a lot like the snowball that gets bigger as it is rolling down the hill; Facebook, its appeal to the masses and its spin off businesses and advertising have shown to have a large domino effect on the economy.
A recent study on Facebook released some overwhelming numbers on the economic impact of the website. Its over 1.3 billion users and the desire for businesses to reach them had an economic effect of over 200 billion dollars and helped create over 4 million jobs last year. Those are some staggering numbers.
The study focused mainly on businesses that had both a page on Facebook, the sites mobile apps and the games that were featured on the website. It looked at the resulting economic activity that was connected to them. This report also focused on Facebook users demands for gadgets and other online connectivity type services. There were several businesses whose sales and profits were directly associated with their advertising that was done by targeting Facebook’s customers.
A great example of Facebook’s influence in the social media market is the silly but purposeful Ice Bucket Challenge, a challenge that was aimed at raising money to help fund research that would help those affected by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Through the attention the disease received on Facebook and the subsequent auto play ads with videos, over 100 million dollars was donated by the websites users to help fight it.
Ironically, the report came out at a time when many people were becoming overly critical of tech startups and were suggesting that these new businesses were having a negative effect on the economy and hurting job growth. The numbers from the report would certainly suggest that startups that were created to target Facebook users had quite the opposite effect.