Africa’s Population Boom: Will it mean disaster or economic and human development gains?

In a perfect world, where access to technology and the wealth are equally distributed, the GDP of each country would be proportional to its population. In the real world that relationship exists on average (see the dot charts below) but with significant deviations from the trend on a GDP per capita basis. Many developed countries, being relatively less populous than their developing counterparts, have high levels of GDP, while the GDPs of less-developed countries, especially in Africa, are disproportionally low.
  • According to the UN DESA baseline scenario, by 2100 Africa will become the world's most populous region, accounting for 39 percent of global population and replacing Asia as the key driver of global population growth.

Venezuela: No help from OPEC before the elections, hard times ahead

On Friday, 4 December OPEC decided to forgo an artificial - and rarely upheld - ceiling on crude oil output and maintain current crude oil production volumes, even as markets brace for an increase of Iranian oil in global markets.

The decision by OPEC left Venezuela - one of the members of the cartel most seriously affected by the decline in oil prices - without any hope for improvement in external economic conditions right before the elections. And what a historic elections these were, with the opposition winning the majority of seats in the National Assembly for the first time since the late President Hugo Chavez took office in 1999. Venezuela is struggling with the worst crisis in decades, a harsh reality for the President's party in the lead up to the elections. Many Venezuelans, faced with chronic shortages and triple-digit inflation, wonder how their country, an OPEC member with more oil than Saudi Arabia, has made them feel so poor.

Can Data Collection in a Sustainability Report Prevent a Crisis?

As Volkswagen contends with a reputational crisis of epic proportions much of the focus has been on how it needs to manage the fallout from its emissions cheating scandal. While dissecting a crisis communications strategy for Volkswagen best practices makes for compelling theater, this incident is an opportune reminder for corporate leaders to focus on something much more mundane: the critical importance of accurate data in a sustainability (or CSR) report. 

Volkswagen is an illustrative example: Volkswagen built a reputation as a responsible company committed to producing vehicles that emitted fewer harmful emissions than the competition’s. Its diesel cars were the centerpiece in that narrative. Consumers purchased Volkswagen’s diesel powered cars because they liked driving a sporty and fun vehicle that was assumed to be not terribly harmful to the environment.

China Announcing an End to the One-Child Policy

Originally implemented in 1980 to curb its rapid population growth, China’s one-child policy has witnessed a fertility rate decline from 2.7 births per woman in 1981 to 1.6 births in 2015. Those who backed the one-child policy claimed it led to 300 million fewer births and lifted 200-400 million people out of poverty. Yet, the policy is not without its toll, with more than 336 million abortions and 222 million sterilizations having since taken place. Gender imbalance in China, with 115.9 boys born to every 100 girls in 2014, has led to increases in sex-trafficking and prostitution. The Chinese population is aging drastically, with an estimate of one in every three Chinese being over 60 years of age by 2050 and a dwindling working class to support them. The economy is also facing labor shortage and slow growth.

Time spent on free time activities

If life seems more rushed than ever, you might be surprised to learn that we actually have more leisure time than we did 40 years ago, and quite a bit more. So why does it feel like we have so much less? It might be because we waste half of all our leisure time watching television. Globally, people devote more than 2.5 hours a day to viewing television programs despite the diversity of leisure options. 

How people spend their leisure time has significantly changed and is evident even in the short period from 2003-2010 captured in the visualizations below. Men and women spend no more than one hour a day on sport activities, with men spending significantly more time on sports.

Avian Flu Epidemic: Massive Impact, Uncertain Future

In the first half of 2015 the United States faced its worst outbreak on record of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in poultry (HPAI, informally known as bird flu). According to the World Organisation For Animal Health, since December 2014 in the U. S. nearly 65 million birds were susceptible to HPAI. In it's recent report, titled "Fall 2015 HPAI Preparedness and Response Plan", the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) says 7.5 million turkeys and 42.1 million egg-layer and pullet chickens have already been killed or culled, with devastating effects on these businesses and a cost to Federal taxpayers of over $950 million. U.S. egg prices skyrocketed to record high in summer because of the egg shortage and may continue to rise in case of likely fall return of epidemic. Under USDA's worst case scenario, 500 or more commercial establishments of various sizes across a large geographical area could be affected, including commercial high-volume poultry establishments, commercial high-value poultry establishments (game or specialty birds), the live bird marketing system, and backyard flocks in the 20 States that represent a composite of the top broiler, turkey, and layer producing states.

Discover World in 2020

We are happy to introduce the World in 2020, the newest advanced data product from Knoema, to you.
 
Learn at a glance which sources have proven most reliable over time in projections for particular indicators you are most interested in for a country or region. The World in 2020 accuracy tool automatically calculates the mean average error for projections for you to facilitate your forecast data selection.

We all know the value of forecasts, here today, gone tomorrow with unexpected market crashes, fallen governments, and natural disasters. And, yet, we all need a basis from which to plan, assess risk, and establish a common dialogue. With this in mind, Knoema set out to create a comprehensive data resource on the future of the world's development.

Save yourself time digging for the latest reports from the world’s leading international economic agencies. Step outside your comfort zone to explore projections for other measures of growth and development that could provide unexpected insights for your next proposal.

Africa: Power Consumption and Energy Infrastructure

Africa’s power sector struggles under low access and insufficient capacity. Only 35 percent of the population of Sub-Sahara Africa, including South Africa, has access to electricity while more than 90 percent of the populations of Burundi, Chad, Liberia, Malawi, and South Sudan lack access to a power grid. Most African countries, except South Africa, face severe power generation capacity deficits even compared to international peers of similar economic size. For example, electric power consumption in Kenya is 157 kWh/year per capita, equivalent to 11 times less than in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the poorest Former Soviet Union countries. Similarly, Cameroon, with a population of about 22 million, has only 1 GW of installed electricity capacity versus 22 GW of installed capacity in Romania, one the poorest European countries with the same total population. 

Revising the Global Tax System

Unprecedented changes to the international tax system are expected over the next five years. An OECD/G20 global campaign to address tax base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) is in full swing and could dramatically alter the tax landscape.

According to a November 2014 update from the OECD, BEPS refers to corporate tax planning strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules between countries to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations characterized by little or no economic activity, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid. BEPS would potentially have major implications for developing countries due to the heavy reliance of these countries on corporate income tax, particularly from multinational enterprises.

US Education: Costs Skyrocketing, Some States Falling Behind

The cost of education in the United States has dramatically increased against general inflation rates during the period 2000-2014. The consumer price index for education services increased 120 percent while overall inflation rose about 40 percent. Changes in recent months have only reinforced this trend. The consumer price index for education for the January-July period increased from 3.6 in 2014 to 3.8 percent in 2015, whereas the index for all consumer items was steady at -0.2 percent for the same period in 2014 and 2015. Turning to total expenditures, US federal government expenditures on education are about 5.2 percent of GDP, which is on par with other OECD economies and slightly higher than the world average. That said, the governments of several emerging countries, such as Bolivia, Brazil, and Ghana, outspend the OECD average.

FSU Countries: Military Strength Magnifies Value of NATO

The Global Firepower database published earlier this year provides an interesting perspective on the relative military strength of the former-Soviet Union (FSU) member states bordering Russia as compared to Russia. The contrast is so sharp that any of the FSU countries would almost certainly be unable to defend themselves from Russian military advancement without the direct involvement of NATO or other allied forces. 

The Baltic States, Georgia, and Ukraine combined spend fifteen times less on defense than does Russia. While military expenditures offer only a simplistic cross-country comparison - obscuring differences such as procurement systems and how related industries are supported by each government - the data in this case does show a correlation with smaller armed forces and limited resources. For example, the active military manpower of the Baltic States - comprised of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania - is 25 times less than Russia's, and the States have no tanks (vs 15,400 in Russia), no fighter jets or other interceptors, and only small coastal Naval defense crafts.

Nigeria: Armed Conflicts, Military Spending, and the Economic Context

During the mid-to-late 2000s, Nigeria struggled to reign in the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, better known simply as MEND. MEND is a militant group based in the southwest of Nigeria in the Niger Delta, Nigeria's primary onshore oil production region. The group sought increased economic benefits for residents of the Niger Delta from the country's oil production and reparations for destruction of the environment by foreign oil companies. The group's guerrilla warfare tactics and deadly bombings were only part of the reason it was so potent; the group also caused severe economic losses by disrupting or shutting in oil and gas production infrastructure and kidnapping foreign oil workers.

A second violent group was developing its identity and reach during this same period: Boko Haram. Much of the world learned of the Boko Haram terrorist group after it kidnapped 276 school girls from their dormitory in the Nigerian town of Chibok in April 2014, but for years it has grown in size and capability. Formally established in the early 2000s, this Islamic extremist group gained new momentum and potency in the period 2009-2010 when it started an armed rebellion against the government of Nigeria.

Emerging Market and Commodity Currencies

The US dollar strengthened recently to the highest level in the past 10 years against a broad range of currencies. Falling commodity prices force "emerging" and "commodity-dependent" countries to weaken their currencies to maintain competitiveness. However, trying to improve export competitiveness through currency devaluation can induce a sharp rise in inflation rates. Enforced tightening of monetary policy also reduces economic growth because high interest rates stifle new business activity. According to the latest IMF estimates, countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Russia, and Venezuela are experiencing simultaneous declines in GDP and rapdily rising inflation, the so called "stagflation" phenomenon.

China Emerging Cities, 2015

Where will business opportunities in urban China arise as a result of rapid increases in populations, incomes, infrastructure and economic activity? Five years ago, The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) looked to answer that question. The EIU devised an emerging city rankings index and published a report on the subject, CHAMPS: China’s fastest growing cities, which highlighted the rise of inland Chinese cities. It identified 2007 as a pivotal year for the economy, when inland China started to grow at a faster rate than the more developed coastal region. The aforementioned CHAMPS came not from the east, but from north-eastern, central and western parts of the country: Chongqing, Hefei, Anshan, Maanshan, Pingdingshan and Shenyang.

Sovereign Defaults, 1975-2014

A sovereign default is the failure or refusal of the government of a sovereign state to pay back its debt in full. Cessation of due payments (also euphemistically termed receivables) may either be accompanied by formal declaration (repudiation) of a government not to pay (or only partially pay) its debts, or it may be unannounced. Defaults have typically involved low-income and emerging-market economies, although recent cases include advanced-economy sovereigns. Until recently, there have been few efforts to systematically measure and aggregate the nominal value of the different types of sovereign government debt in default. This reflects a number of factors. An important reason is that there is no single internationally recognized definition of what constitutes a sovereign default. As a result, standards used by government borrowers and their creditors to report defaults, if they report at all, differ, and information on the various types of defaulted debt must be mined from different sources.

The 2015 Global Peace Index

The Global Peace Index is a composite index comprised of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators that gauge the level of peace in 162 countries. These indicators can be grouped into three broad themes: the level of safety and security in a society, the number of international and domestic conflicts and the degree of militarisation. The only statistical measure of its kind, the Global Peace Index allows us to understand what makes societies peaceful and what we need to do in order to mitigate violence in the future. The 2015 Global Peace Index shows that the world is becoming increasingly divided with some countries enjoying unprecedented levels of peace and prosperity while others spiral further into violence and conflict.

Population Trends

In 2014, the world population reached 7.21 billion people. However, some countries are facing depopulation. Besides Japan, these are mainly Central & Eastern European highly indebted states. Hard economic conditions, caused by austerity policy, lack of growth and high unemployment are forcing people to move to other countries in search for better job. Only during 2013-2014 (July to July) Spain have lost about 215 thousands of residents, Romania 73 thousands, Greece - 70 thousands, Ukraine 126 thousands, Portugal - about 60 thousands.

It seems that the one who is benefiting from this process of labour force migration the most - is the Germany. Since 2005 Germany had a very large population decrease: about 1,6 mln., the second largest single-country depopulation in the world for the past 10 years by the absolute amount. But since 2011 due to influx of work force from the European "periphery", this trend has broken. In 2014 Germany got total increase of about 244 thousands of people.

Global Firepower: World Military Strength Rankings - 2015

Global Firepower (GFP) provides a unique analytical display of data concerning today's world military powers. Over 100 world powers are considering in the ranking which allows for a broad spectrum of comparisons to be achieved concerning relative military strengths. The GFP ranking is based strictly on each nations potential conventional war-making capabilities across land, sea and air. The nuclear capability is not taken into account. The final ranking also incorporates values related to resources, finances and geography.

The Global Gender Gap Index 2014

Gender inequality is still an acute problem in the modern world. It arises from differences in social, political and civil rights between men and women. This problem has existed since ancient times and remains urgent to the present. Nowadays fighters for women's rights has achieved notable progress. In many countries the differences in rights between men and women have become less noticeable. However, in some regions the women are still highly discriminated against.

The presence and magnitude of gender inequality is evaluated by measuring the representation of men and of women in a range of roles. A number of international comparative gender equality indices have been prepared and these offer a way to compare the level of gender equality in different countries.

World Exporters and Importers Ranking

Over the last thirty years the rating of world exporters has changed significantly. Until 2010 the leading positions were occupied by Germany and the United States, but in 2010 China outpaced the leaders, and till now Cathay remains the largest exporter in the world by a wide margin. According to 2014 numbers, the United States and Germany take the second and the third place in this rating respectively.

As for import, the United States is still the largest importer by the amount of imported goods, according to 2014 results. The second and the third place are occupied by China and Germany respectively, which makes the three nations, described above, top-trading countries in the world in 2014.

LMC Automotive Production & Sales, 2015

LMC Automotive in partnerships with Oxford Economics and JATO Dynamics provides the highest quality global sales and production data and forecasts for light vehicles and heavy trucks. As motor vehicles are big-ticket consumer durables, monthly sales figures in particular are seen as an indicator of broader economic health of a given country. On this dashboard the latest LMC public data for Global light vehicle sales*, passenger car sales in Western Europe, and light vehicle production in North America is presented. 

According to LMC's numbers, the global light vehicle sales in 2014 exceeded 87.3 million cars, 27% of which were sold in China. Car sales in most regions continued to grow in April 2015: +1.6% year-over-year worldwide, +4.6% in the U. S., +7% in Western Europe. However, in Eastern Europe, Japan, Brazil and Argentina light vehicle sales have declined sharply.

The Global Energy Architecture Performance Index

During the three-year period ending 2014, the World Economic Forum has been working on the New Energy Architecture Initiative to deeper understand the changes underway in the global energy system, and how they could be managed to enable an effective transition. A core pillar of this work was the development of The Global Energy Architecture Performance Index.

The EAPI employs a set of indicators to assess and rank energy architectures of 124 countries. The indicators highlight the performance of each country across key dimensions of the "energy triangle", measuring the extent to which a country’s energy architecture adds or detracts from the economy, the environmental impact of energy supply and consumption and how secure, accessible and diversified the energy supply is.

The World's Biggest Public Companies, 2015

The Forbes Global 2000 is an annual ranking of the world’s top 2000 public companies published by Forbes magazine since 2003. The companies are ranked according to four basic metrics: profit, sales, assets and market value.

In total, the world's 2000 biggest public companies account for $162 trillion in assets, $39 trillion in revenues, $3 trillion in profits and $48 trillion in market value, according to the 2015 list.

The world's largest company by market value is still Apple, however the technology industry juggernaut from Cupertino is not the leader by the overall score.

United Kingdom general election, 2015

As a result of the surprising UK parliamentary elections, the Conservative Party has got a majority of 330 seats in the new UK Parliament. The Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats have lost much more seats than it had been expected according to the pre-election polls. For the Liberal Democrats it was the absolute defeat: they've lost 48 of 56 parliamentary seats. 

According to the report by The Smith Institute the average age of the Member of Parliament (MP) following the election has risen to 51.2 years  - the highest level in the past years. Only 15% of newly elected and re-elected MPs are under 40 years old (5% less than in 2010). The gender balance continues to improve. In 1987 women made up only 6% of all MPs, whereas in the previous parliament their share improved to 22% and in the newly elected parliament it increased to 29%.

Half Century of US Food Stamps

In 1964 United States by the Food Stamp Act of 1964 have re-established the Food Stamp Program intended to provide food-purchasing assistance for low- and no-income people living in the U.S. In 2008 the program was renamed as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As of 2014, 46.5 million Americans or 14.6% of resident population were receiving SNAP benefits (monthly average). The average SNAP client received a monthly benefit of $125.35. Total program cost has exceeded 74 billion dollars.

IMF World Economic Outlook, April 2015

In the April 2015 World Economic Outlook (WEO) IMF has revised down global growth forecasts compared to October 2014 estimates. According to IMF, the global growth is projected to be 3.45% in 2015, with uneven prospects across the main countries and regions. Relative to last year, the outlook for advanced economies is slightly improving, while the growth in emerging market and developing economies is projected to be lower, primarily reflecting weaker prospects for some large emerging market economies and oil-exporting countries.

Advanced economies are generally benefiting from lower oil prices. Growth in the United States is projected to exceed 3 percent in 2015–16, but in later years IMF foresees slowdown in US growth to 2% in 2019-2020. Growth in the euro area, after weak second and third quarters of 2014, is showing signs of picking up, supported by lower oil prices, lower interest rates and a weaker currency. After a disappointing 2014, Japan growth is also projected to pick up, sustained by a weaker yen and lower oil prices.

US Social Security & Medicare Outlook

Next year, the US Old Age and Survivors Insurance trust fund (OASI) for the first time since early 1980s will have a deficit of 13 billion dollars. According to the projections of the US Whitehouse Office of Management and Budget, by 2020 the deficit of the largest US retirement fund will deepen to $123 bln - the level never seen in history.

Despite the expected surpluses in others social and Medicare funds, the US federal social security system as a whole will become insolvent in the next 5 years. Aggregate deficit of the US Social Security trust funds (OASI and the Disability Insurance funds) would amount $70 bln. by the 2020, and about $43 bln. counting Medicare trusts.

The effects of international sanctions on Iran's economy

Last week at the meeting in Lausanne (Switzerland) the United States and five other world powers reached a provisional agreement with Iran to scale back its nuclear program significantly for 10 to 15 years and accept intense international inspections. In exchange, the United States and the international community would lift most of the sanctions that have punished the Iranian economy.

UN E-Government Development Index 2014

Every two years, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) through its Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) publishes the United Nations E-Government Survey. The Survey provides a snapshot with relative rankings of e-government development of all Member States of the United Nations.

By ranking the performance of countries on a relative scale, the Survey provides relevant information to support policy makers in shaping their e-government programmes for development. As a composite indicator, the e-government development index (EGDI) is used to measure the willingness and capacity of national administrations to use information and communication technologies to deliver public services. This measure of the index is useful for government officials, policy makers, researchers and representatives of civil society and the private sector to gain a deeper understanding of the comparative benchmarking of the relative position of a country in utilizing e-government for the delivery of inclusive, accountable and citizen-centric services.

US Federal Debt will increase to $27 trillions by 2025

The US Federal Debt (also referred to as The Public Debt or The Government Debt) is the amount owed by the federal government of the United States at any time in the past and not yet repaid. America has the largest debt burden in the world, which is estimated to be $18,472 billion by the end of 2015.

Generally, there are two components of gross federal debt: debt held by the public and debt held by government accounts. In 2007 the share of US federal debt held by the public was 56% only, whereas in 2014 this component constituted approximately 72% of the total debt burden.

According to the latest forecasts, US Federal Debt is going to reach $27 trillion by 2025, with the proportion of debt held by the public constituting 78,7% of 2025 US GDP!

Oil Stock Levels in Days of Net Imports

The International Energy Agency is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. The IEA was initially dedicated to responding to physical disruptions in the supply of oil, as well as serving as an information source on statistics about the international oil market and other energy sectors.

IEA member countries (excluding crude oil net exporters) are required to maintain total oil stock levels equivalent to at least 90 days of the previous year's net imports. As the IEA data shows, by the end of 2014 IEA members have significantly surpassed this obligation. The overall oil stocks levels for IEA member countries has exceeded 220 days of net imports, driven mainly by the enormous increase of oil stocks in the United States.

The Global Pension Index

Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index has become an important reference point in the debate about the quality of retirement systems around the world. While some countries have well-established retirement systems that have stood the test of time, others are just developing, especially those within the Asian region. The main goal of the Index is to provide additional information for policy makers to struggle with the competing needs of an ageing population and achieving an appropriate fiscal balance.

The overall index value for each country represents the weighted average of the three sub-indices: adequacy, sustainability and the integrity.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor is the largest ongoing study of entrepreneurial dynamics in the world. Initiated in 1999 as a partnership between London Business School and Babson College, the first study covered 10 countries; since then over 100 ‘National Teams’ from every corner of the globe have participated in the project, which continues to grow annually.

GEM explores the role of entrepreneurship in national economic growth, unveiling detailed national features and characteristics associated with entrepreneurial activity. The data collected is ‘harmonized’ by a central team of experts, guaranteeing its quality and facilitating cross-national comparisons.

The Social Progress Index

The Social Progress Index is the result of a two-year process guided by a stellar team of experts which includes, among the others, renowned economists Hernando de Soto and Michael Porter and the president of The Rockefeller Foundation Dr. Judith Rodin. The Index synthesizes a huge body of research to identify the dimensions of performance of societies and measure the social progress comprehensively and rigorously.

The Index has been structured around 12 components and 54 distinct indicators consolidated into three dimensions of Social Progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. The first dimension, Basic Human Needs, assesses how well a country provides for its people’s essential needs by measuring whether people have enough food and are receiving basic medical care, if they have access to safe drinking water, if they have access to adequate housing with basic utilities, and if they are safe and secure.

Ebola Situation Report

In general, there are improvements in Ebola case finding, burial practices and community engagement. Nevertheless, the decline in case incidence has stopped. The increase in number of cases in Guinea and widespread transmission of Ebola in Sierra Leone highlight a significant problem, which should be solved in order to lower case incidence to zero.

The first week of February 2015 ended with 144 new cases. Guinea reported a sharp increase in case incidence: there were 65 new confirmed cases compared to 39 cases reported the week before. Sierra Leone continues suffering from widespread transmission of Ebola virus: they reported 76 new confirmed cases. Liberia, on the other hand, reported a lower number of new confirmed cases compared to other African countries.

Youth Wellbeing

The Global Youth Wellbeing Index collects youth-related data to estimate the state of young people’s wellbeing throughout the world. The Index is designed to elevate youth needs and opportunities along with young people’s participation on national and global issues. It also provides public and private sector decision-makers with a clear vision of today’s youth needs. The Index takes into account 30 countries with both high and low income from five regions, which represent nearly 70% of the world’s youth.
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Marijuana Use and Cannabis Industry Statistics

Since Colorado legalized marijuana, cannabis industry stocks skyrocketed about 150% in the early 2014. Unfortunately, the boom was over by spring. Nevertheless, according to Bloomberg, legal marijuana market was the fastest growing industry in the US in 2014. As stated in the ArcView Market Research report, the US market for legal cannabis grew by 74% from 1.3 billion in 2013 to 2.7 billion in 2014 (check the pie chart).
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 12% of US population (12 years old and older) have been smoking marijuana during the past year on a regular basis. For young adults (18-25 years old) this figure is even higher (32%). Most active weed fans live in District of Columbia, Rhode Island, Alaska, Vermont, Oregon, and Colorado.

The Big Mac Index Update

The Economist has recently updated its famous “Big Mac Index” based on McDonald’s Big Mac prices, collected throughout the world. Now the cheapest burgers in US Dollar terms can be bought in Ukraine: for $1.2 only. The most expensive ones are being sold in Switzerland, where you should pay $7.54 for one burger.

Big Mac Index shows, how much the national currency is “undervalued” or “overvalued” in relation to “fair” Big Mac price. In respond to the criticism that you would expect average burger prices to be cheaper in poor countries than in rich ones, it was adjusted for differences in countries' GDP per capita. E. g., in case of Russia, US$ Index of -57.75 means that current Russian Ruble/US$ market exchange rate is 57.75% lower than its Big Mac purchasing power parity level.

Apple's Record First Quarter Results

At the peak of the US corporate earnings reporting season, Apple Inc. reported record revenue for the 4th quarter of 2014 calendar year (or the 1st quarter of 2015 fiscal year, which began in the US in October 2014). Now Apple Inc. has market capitalization of about 640 billion dollars, which is larger than GDP of such countries as Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Norway, Venezuela, Algeria and many other (they are painted in shades of red on the map). The US and China are as large as 27-28 AAPL's market caps. India is about 11 "Apples". Japan is 7.5 and Germany is 5.7 only.

Gender disproportions and female foeticide

In relation to Barack Obama's recent visit, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a wide-sweeping reform to address the female foeticide problem, which has been growing in India over the last few decades. As fetus imaging technology has developed, a great number of pregnant women started checking the sex of their unborn children in India. If it is a girl, they simply terminate the pregnancy. As a result, while overall ratio of females to males (feminity ratio) in India is gradually improving, the same ratio among newborn babies is deteriorating dramatically. In mid-1970s there was about 94 newborn girls per 100 boys, and now it is only 90. This is definitely what the United Nations call the "emergency proportions". According to some studies, about 2,000 girls are killed every day in India, either by abortion or just after the birth. Mr. Modi is going to stop this by boosting the economy through what he calls “Women Empowerment.” His campaign is called “Educate the Girl, Save the Girl”. This medieval-era female foeticide practice continues not only in India. China and some other developing Southern Asian nations also suffer from the same problem.

Greek elections and challenges

According to the preliminary results, the left-radical party SYRIZA won the parliamentary elections in Greece. The voting results are very close to the forecast made on the basis of polls (see bar charts). SYRIZA won 10% more votes than in 2012, and will get 149 (vs 71 previously) seats in the new Parliament of Greece which does not provide it with the majority directly, but makes it easy to form the majority in the coalition.

The main message of SYRIZA in the elections was a rejection of austerity measures imposed on Greece by European Union and the so-called "Troika". At the same time, the leader of SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras confirmed his commitment to this course immediately after the elections, but also stated the absence of intent to declare a default or to leave the Eurozone.

Is Grexit really possible? Poll data and greek elections forecast

On Sunday, January 25th, the parliamentary elections are taking place in Greece. Today the Greek political arena consists mainly of all shades of red and brown. Some recent polls show, that the left-radical party SYRIZA may get the majority (151) of seats in parliament as a result of upcoming elections. However, every poll has a margin of error, and some individual poll results can significantly differ from other observations. To make more reasonable estimates, it is better to use average data from all the surveys conducted from January 1st by different polling firms that are collected on this Wiki page. According to the forecast, most likely SYRIZA will get 146 seats in the parliament, which would not give it an absolute majority, but will give an opportunity to get a majority in coalition with some smaller parties.

Such an outcome worries observers, who fear a sharp reversal of Greek policy towards rejection of the Euro currency and exit from the European Union (so-called Grexit), despite the fact that SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras recently stated that he has no such plans.

Billionaires & Paupers. Global inequality and the Forbes

According to data prepared by Oxfam International for Annual Meeting in Davos, in 2014 the wealth of 80 world's richest people exceeded total wealth of more than 3 500 000 000 (three-and-a-half billion) people belonging to bottom 50% of the world's population by incomes. If growing inequality trend, which got a fresh start since 2009, continues, then top 1% of world population will be wealthier than bottom 99% by the end of next year.

For now, 80 richest billionaires have net worth of about 1.9 trillion dollars and the richest in 2014 according to Forbes was Bill Gates, with net worth of $76 billion. Next one is Carlos Slim from Mexico ($72 bln) and the third is Spanish businessman Amancio Ortega ($64 bln).

Ongoing armed conflicts 2015

Since 2014 the armed conflicts and wars have killed more than 214 000 people. Approximately one third of all victims - about 77 000 - claimed the war in Syria. 40 000 of casualties are on account of one of the bloodiest wars of nowadays that are not so often mentioned in media - the Civil war in South Sudan. The war in Ukraine which began in 2014 already took at least 4 843 human lives.

Some of ongoing conflicts lasts for years and decades, such as LRA insurgency, Katanga insurgency, Kivu conflict and other wars in Democratic Republic of Congo with more than 407 000 in their total death toll, internal conflict in Burma (Myanmar) ongoing since 1948, or raging drug wars in Mexico, taking about 5000-10000 victims annually.

Global terrorism map and trends

Since 1970 there was more than 266 000 people killed in terrorist attacks. The total number of people injured during terror incidents - about 355 000. This century overall number of fatalities in terrorist attacks are more than 125 000 with about 220 000 people injured, and 2013 year made an (anti) record in overall terrorist activity (see the chart below the page). Most notable long-term trend in terrorist incidents was the increase of terrorism in Middle East, North Africa & Asia and decrease in North America and Europe. Whether last act of terrorism in France will mark the beginning of a new tendency? Hope its not.