A few snippets from The Economist's The World in 2019 report.
The Trump Presidency has been a dream-run for corporate America,
The boom in 2018 was a dream come true. As of October, 90% of firms in the S&P 500 index enjoyed growing sales, compared with a ten-year average of 69%, and a low of 36% in 2009. Some 52% of firms experienced rising margins. Overall, S&P 500 profits grew by 25% compared with the prior year, or 16% if you strip out the tax cut. The bullish mood spurred firms to bet more on investment. Including capital spending and research and development, it increased by 18%.
San Francisco's cost of living threatens the very future of the city
The cost of living in San Francisco is now the highest in America; a family living on less than $120,000 is considered "low income" by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Online shopping fact of the day,
Online clothes-shoppers return more than 50% of the garments they order because they do not fit, coasting the global apparel business around $62 bn a year.
Latest in the problem of infrastructure construction challenges,
For all of Germany's teutonic efficiency, Berlin's new airport, which was meant to have opened in 2011, has yet to do so, hampered by over 65,000 errors in its construction.
As Charles Read writes, the efficiency gains possible in global logistics business are enormous,
Amazon, an e-commerce giant, now delivers orders within an hour or two in 50 cities. More than 90% of deliveries by JD, an up-and-coming Chinese rival, are now made within a day. But getting larger loads delivered remains painfully slow and expensive. It still takes most firms two or three days to get a quote to move a pallet or container by air or sea. The speed of delivery is unreliable: it can take between 30 and 90 days to move a container between China and Europe by ship. And air freight is shockingly expensive. Sending a 70 kg parcel from Shanghai to London with DHL Express, a delivery firm, takes three times longer, and costs four times as much, as buying an airline ticket for a human of the same weight.
Much of the problem relates to dealing with all the legal documents, customs clearances, insurance contracts and other paperwork relating to trade. Maersk, the world's biggest container-shipping line, found that a single shipment of avocados from India to the Netherlands in 2014 required 200 communications involving 30 parties to straighten out all the bumf.And its likely impact?
Ditching paper will reduce transport costs, which should stimulate trade and economic growth. The UN reckons that the full digitisation of trade paperwork in Asia could boost the region's exports by as much as $257 bn a year, slashing transport times by 44% and costs by 31%. Some economists think that the potential gains are greater than those from getting rid of all the region's remaining tariffs.