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.