Largest stock exchanges in the newly industrializing world

Over the last centuries, the number of countries with stock exchanges has significantly grown and this rise can be easily attributed to the markets’ role in encouraging economic development by providing a generous amount of capital for national development.

Although this connection between progress and stock exchanges has been underrated for many years, it has continued to prove its worth by giving the necessary financial resources for investments that directly benefit the industrial and economic sectors of many developing countries.

Here are three of the largest stock exchanges of today’s developing countries.

 

  1. Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE)
Image source: business.illinois.edu

Image source: business.illinois.edu

Based in the city of Shanghai in China, the SSE is one of the two major independent stock exchanges in the country and ranks fifth largest in terms of market capitalization (US$3.5 trillion) in the world as of February 2016.

However, SSE is not completely accessible to foreign investors because of the strict policies implemented by the mainland authorities as well as the Central Government.

 

  1. Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE)

 

Image source: ibtimes.co.in

Image source: ibtimes.co.in

BSE is based in Mumbai, India and was founded in 1875. It is Asia’s very first stock exchange and often referred to as the fastest stock exchange in the world (approximately performing at a 6-microsecond median trade speed).

The BSE has 5500 companies in its listings and in the global ranking, it secures the 11th spot with over $ 2 Trillion (as of July 2017 data), with stocks trading accounting for 4% of the country’s economy.

 

  1. Brasil Bolsa Balcão S.A. (B3)
Image source: wikimedia.org

Image source: wikimedia.org

The Brazilian stock exchange based in Sao Paulo was formerly known as BM&FBOVESPA and is currently the 13th largest in the world (R$2.37 Trillion market capitalization at the end of 2011).

However, the growing political turmoil in the country the following years created a slump in their economy that resulted its market capitalization to shrink to R$2.21 trillion in 2015.

 

REPOST: Lessons From Cuba For Real Estate Investors In New And Emerging Markets

Lead with heart, create alliances with other entrepreneurs, and many other pieces of advice from Forbes‘ Susan Leger Ferraro with regards to real estate investments:

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It’s not always as “simple” as building a company. In some cases, an investor needs to help form the industry they want to emerge in. This is what I am working on as a member of the Forbes Real Estate Council and an eco-friendly real estate developer.

My first visit to Cuba was in 2015, and it was love at first sight. Life in Cuba is all about passion and simplicity, and I decided I wanted that life. I wanted to give others the joy of visiting Cuba too, so I set out to support the development and expansion of infrastructure to meet the growing demands for tourism.

My husband, Jeffrey, and I are partnering with Cubans to rebuild modernized apartments in Old Havana to host tourists. We work directly with local artisans, schools and craftsmen to promote a new kind of experience for visitors that promotes eco-tourism and cultural connection. It’s a reciprocal relationship: We are learning the needs of the Cuban people as well as sharing our real estate expertise.
Here are some of the best strategies I have learned through this venture for developing real estate in an emerging economy:

1. Develop and hire local talent.

Wherever you seek to invest, work to develop and enhance the capacity of the local population. This is especially important in countries like Cuba, where international mentorship opportunities are limited. One way to connect with local talent is to host a meet-and-greet with local vendors, starting with tradespeople. Friends bring friends with them and offer collaboration and talent.

2. Build the infrastructure.

Many Cubans rent out rooms in their houses. Known as “casas particulares” or private homes, this is a cheap option for the nearly 2.7 million tourists who visited Cuba in just the first half of this year. Hotel stays are quite expensive, so the casas particulares offer a great alternative. Renting out rooms is one of the few avenues that has always been available to Cubans who wish to become entrepreneurs.

I worked with owners of casas particulares to help them enhance their properties and market their rooms more effectively. I also encouraged them to charge higher rates once these improvements were made. Short-term home rental platforms are important differentiators, and these steps can elevate a region’s short-term hospitality industry as a whole.

In the Caribbean, many landlords support renting units like these to international travelers. Owners can begin by listing one or two units on a site meant to reach these vacationers to see what traction they get. Location, location, location is especially important to tourists, so owners should be sure to highlight the unique points of their locales.

Continue reading HERE.

Consider these tiny tropical paradises when investing in offshore mutual funds

Many offshore financial centers have been dependable jurisdictions for international financial investors as well as commercial and corporate entities.  Within the industry, there are regions that have become the top go-to locations that offer generous benefits like financial privacy and tax liability. Some perfect examples are the islands in and near the Caribbean region: Cayman Islands, Bahamas, and Bermuda.

The Cayman Islands

Image source: worldpropertyjournal.com

Image source: worldpropertyjournal.com

Located in the western Caribbean Sea, this offshore financial center has been considered as one of the largest in the world. It primarily provides its Western clients services like offshore mutual funds and offshore banking. What makes the islands so attractive to investors and companies is the fact that it does not impose income tax, estate or inheritance tax, corporate tax, or capital gains tax, to name a few. Cayman’s highly strict banking laws protect banking privacy and they do not have any tax treaties with other countries.

The Bahamas

Image source: cntraveler.com

Image source: cntraveler.com

Located just a few hundred kilometers away from mainland USA, the island-country of the Bahamas is one of the most prosperous and richest countries in the Caribbean region.  Its government has been actively promoting programs to attract offshore businesses to its islands. Aside from the fact that the country is a popular tourist destination among European and American travelers, the nation’s well-designed tax laws as well as tax regulations particularly on asset protection, have been attractive characteristics for non-resident investors and commercial businesses.  In addition, the Bahamas boasts of an open economy, with their currency, the Bahamian dollar, pegged to the U.S. dollar.

Bermuda

Image source: bermudianlife.com

Image source: bermudianlife.com

This wealthy Atlantic paradise has two main attractions: first, it is home to one of the world’s biggest reinsurance centers and second, it has made its name as one of the most dependable offshore centers on insurance-related securities and offshore mutual funds. Although geographically nearer to the Caribbean, Bermuda is actually a part of the British North America, located in the Sargasso Sea. One of the world’s most trusted offshore financial services firms, LOM Financial, is headquartered right at the heart of this British Overseas Territory (BOT) in Hamilton, with offices in the two aforementioned jurisdictions.

To know more about offshore mutual funds, click HERE.

Economic losses due to Hurricane Harvey may reach $190 billion

Image source: bbva.com

Image source: bbva.com

While it may take several months before the full economic impact of Hurricane Harvey can be accurately assessed, many are already considering the disaster to be the most expensive in US history. Analysts estimate $190 billion in economic losses (business, infrastructure, etc.). Houston, one of the country’s economic powerhouses, was the most severely hit, with its oil and gas industry taking the heaviest toll.

Harvey struck at the heart of America’s oil and gas industry, affecting nearly a third of the US production. Inevitably, refineries around the Gulf Coast were closed down and pipelines used to transport oil to other markets were shut—all of which contributed to oil price’s spike. Companies, including those outside the fuel industry, are still figuring out how they can resume operations. Along with revenue losses, the catastrophe may also lead a significant number of jobless claims.

Image source: people.com

Image source: people.com

Although Harvey’s impact on the local level is apparently overwhelming, it is not expected to make a huge dent in the national economy. Thousands of homes and other infrastructure have been destroyed, but rebuilding efforts in the future could offset challenges elsewhere. However, depending on how recovery takes, the GDP for third quarter is expected to slow down a little.

The storm will likely impact primary insurers, traditional reinsurers—including those based in offshore financial centers like Bermuda—and the National Flood Insurance Program with the potential to also affect collateralized reinsurers and insurance-linked securities markets.  The storm’s most significant impact, however, is on families who do not have sufficient financial bedrock as well as property or life insurance. In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), around 350,000 people have registered for assistance from the federal government.

Hurricanes are among the most destructive forms of natural disasters, with the top 10 most devastating storms to hit the US making a total financial loss of nearly $450 billion. Harvey and other massive weather-related catastrophes are part of a continuing, costly trend.

REPOST: Leading Digital Transformation Is Like Urban Planning

The key to creating a new digital revolution is doing it the systematic way. Similar to urban planning, it has to have anchoring landmarks, focus on removing structural hurdles, or entirely break away from old systems and build new ones. More insights from the Harvard Business Review:

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Most companies want their businesses to keep pace with digital startups, but end up bogged down by the need to fix the daily challenges that their decades-old IT systems create. How do yoy redesign and rebuild major infrastructure while keeping the day-to-day work going? This kind of challenge is often referred to as “repairing the airplane while you’re flying it.” But a more instructive analogy might be the redesign of a major city’s infrastructure.

Specifically, there are three urban planning strategies, commonly followed by major metropolises, that leaders can use for inspiration in the race to keep up with digital competition. They include building glistening landmarks that anchor their digital strategy (as Dubai has done), removing roadblocks and bottlenecks to improve their underlying speed and agility (Boston), or changing course altogether to construct an entirely new city (Shanghai).

Dubai: Erecting Modern Landmarks
Targeted investments in striking new sights, like Dubai’s Emirates Office Tower or London’s giant Ferris wheel, serve as useful starting points for broader revitalization plans. The Emirates Office Tower was one of the first skyscrapers that marked Dubai’s transition to being a modern focal point for the United Arab Emirates. Today Dubai also boasts the world’s tallest building, artificial islands, the first hotel with a rain forest, and the largest indoor theme park on earth.

In the same way, investments in landmark digital projects that significantly enhance customer experience can help launch wider digital transformations. By developing visible, high-impact apps or improving data analytic capabilities separately from core IT systems, companies can roll out new offerings where they will most strongly change perception and put pressure on digital rivals — even if their back-end systems still need years to catch up. A pragmatic, output-focused approach can provide a catalyst to the back-end reinvention that needs to follow, and kickstart a company’s digital transformation by making the benefits real and impossible to miss.

For example, by designing a new cloud-based customer service platform, within nine months a power company could go head-to-head with an internet service provider that had started to sell electricity alongside Wi-Fi services and cheaply financed cars. Now the utility will be able to provide not just power but also phone, internet, smart meter, smart home, and security services. To customers, the company feels as nimble and innovative as its digital competition, even though its back-end systems remain problematic.

Boston: Removing Roadblocks
At the other end of the spectrum, companies can first focus on removing the structural hurdles that prevent them from moving with speed and agility over the long run. Boston, with its Big Dig project, for example, invested heavily in creating room for more vehicles and future growth by tearing down an aging elevated highway and replacing it with a tunnel highway network to circumvent the maze of congested roads in its downtown area. Even with the project’s delays and costs, city planners confronted the fact that the old infrastructure just wouldn’t fit the area’s transportation demands.

Companies can help themselves become more agile and remove their own bottlenecks by taking a similar approach. For example, retailers will struggle to put the right products on their shelves until they have accurate data about the dimensions of the packaging itself. Companies with sales forces that collect important customer data inconsistently in notes fields, because their data collection systems haven’t been kept up to date, will wrestle with problems downstream because workarounds must be developed to compensate for the poor quality of the initial input data.

The business case for these improvements is often hard to make because the benefit in speed and agility is indirect. It requires an extraordinary level of vision to see how a very different company will emerge at the end of the process and to persevere — as, I’m sure, the architects of Boston’s Big Dig can testify.

Continue reading HERE.

Should your next house be a ‘smart home?’

Image source: intuitrics.com

Image source: intuitrics.com

Technology is driving the world towards an extraordinary tomorrow and it’s not only our personal gadgets or how we do work that’s changing. In fact, we’re living in the future that even our sanctuary, our homes, are joining the “smart” revolution.

While it’s still in its infancy, several smart homes have already been organized and powered by smart home products and devices, letting owners control almost everything around the house: from the thermostat and lighting, to kitchen appliances and even window blinds. But what makes a “smart” essential to a rapidly evolving, technology-driven world? Is it just another fad or will it really change our lives for good? To be able to answer these questions, let us look at some features that these smart homes have to offer.

 

Image source: intel.com

Image source: intel.com

Green technology for ‘smart’ living

Upgrading your home can be good for the environment because of how the latest devices like smart thermostats and smart light bulbs provide remarkable energy-saving features. Thanks to technology and its quest to be more eco-friendly products, home devices are more adaptive and interactive. In other words, a smart home is capable of learning and adjusting to its owner’s lifestyle.

 

Smart home lock and surveillance technology

Smart homes have the technology to increase a home environment’s security and surveillance capability (whether you’re home or not) because of its ability to be remotely controlled by its users. Some examples include remote locking, code generation for guests, and even to keeping track of foot traffic around the residence. What’s impressive is, these locks can interact with other devices for added features.

We’re getting a glimpse of a new wireless and smart world and it’s just the beginning. For the real estate business, such innovations are making the industry even more competitive. Come 10 to 20 years, we’re going to welcome more exciting breakthroughs that will change the way we live forever.

REPOST: Eight Real Estate Buyer FAQs

Have you finally saved up enough money to buy a new home? There are eight things you need to be sure of first before making that huge decision. Three are written below, while the rest are posted on Forbes:

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When I travel and speak at industry events, I connect with amazing folks, including investors, who want to become homeowners, but are afraid to. I feel some people put off buying a home simply because they are intimidated by the process that comes with real estate purchase. Becoming a new homeowner should be a source of pride, not something to fear. Here are eight answers that will help you get a handle on what to expect when buying a house.

Am I ready to be a homeowner?

If you think you are prepared to take the leap from renter to homeowner, then it is important to take a financial inventory of your lifestyle, debts and assets. Are you gainfully and reliably employed? Lenders look for those who will pay their loans payments on time, and consistent income is a must to qualify. Do you have enough money saved to put up a down payment? The down payment should be a minimum of five to 10 percent of the real estate property purchase price. Your credit score should be in at least fair to good shape and only contain a few outstanding debts that can be easily resolved. Your payment history should show a good record of payments being made on time.

Is renting or buying better?

Comparing buying and renting is no different than comparing apples to oranges. While they both have pros and cons, it simply comes down to what each person prefers when considering buying a house for sale. Renters have the advantage of management-provided maintenance and lawn care in most cases. When buying your own home, there is opportunity to build equity with the monthly payments, while also qualifying for tax incentives to help offset new homeowner expenses.

What is the lender’s formula?

The lender’s formula is a complex configuration of debt-to-income ratio, available credit and score, credit history and the amount of available cash for the down payment and closing costs, as well a few other numbers.

Continue reading HERE.

How social entrepreneurship can potentially change the way we do business

In business, everyone subscribes to different definitions of success. While most of them focus on the growth of their enterprise through strategies on how to earn more, others have found a whole new sense of purpose that not only made them good entrepreneurs but also socially responsible members of their community.

 

Image source: studyinsweden.se

Image source: studyinsweden.se

According to Stanford Social Innovation Review, social entrepreneurship utilizes specific business models to help in the development, funding and implementation of solutions to different environmental, social, and cultural issues around the globe. However, unlike non-profit organizations that depend on donations and generous financial support from private individuals or foundations, a for-profit social enterprise expects a return on investment to ensure the survival of their business.

But this new way of doing business while making the world a better place doesn’t come without challenges. For instance, identifying the most reliable business models that can fit the vision and objectives of a particular social enterprise can be tricky.

 

Image source: youinc.com

Image source: youinc.com

A 2008 book published by Harvard Business School Publishing have identified three strategic models of social entrepreneurship: the leveraged non-profit, hybrid-non-profit, and social business venture. All of these three models have one goal of responding to social needs but the differences among them lie on how they use their financial resources and direct their funds to make a difference whether to support a specific community or to help sustain other smaller businesses and operations.

Undeniably, social entrepreneurship can potentially change the way we do business and just like other enterprises that have started to give something back to the community, many of them have successfully developed their business while representing their stand on the issues that they care about.

 

Image source: hbr.org

Image source: hbr.org

Some of the world’s top social enterprises focus on the environment, local workforce (such as farmers and artists), small manufacturers, and digital systems. While they may still be developing, they have great potential to become big brands in the future.

REPOST: America’s Hottest Real Estate Market Is Cooling Off

The ever-increasing living costs, worsening traffic congestion, and slowing job growth are driving home buyers away from some of America’s biggest real estate hot spots, including the Bay Area. The Epoch Times has the full story:

 

The Silicon Valley area as seen from Monument Peak in near Milpitas, Calif., in this file photo. According to a poll by the Bay Area Council, a growing number of residents said they would like to leave the Bay area.(Yuval Helfman/Shutterstock)

The Silicon Valley area as seen from Monument Peak in near Milpitas, Calif., in this file photo. According to a poll by the Bay Area Council, a growing number of residents said they would like to leave the Bay area.(Yuval Helfman/Shutterstock)

 

San Francisco, which had the greatest home value pick up in recent years, had the weakest real estate market out of the top 100 metropolitan areas in the first quarter of this year, with annual prices falling for the first time since 2011.

Single-family house prices in the San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco area fell 2.5 percent, according to a report by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Meanwhile, home values in the United States rose 6 percent from a year earlier.

Although mortgage rates had risen late last year, there was no slowdown in house price appreciation across the country during the fourth quarter, said FHFA Deputy Chief Economist Andy Leventis in a video.

“Throughout the first quarter of this year, mortgages rates remained at the slightly higher levels, but once again price appreciation remained quite strong,” he said.

Among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, value increase was the highest in Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Michigan, with home prices rising nearly 14 percent year-on-year.

And the three states that had the highest annual appreciation were District of Columbia, Colorado, and Idaho.

The FHFA index only takes into account purchases financed with mortgage loans that conform to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac standards. Hence the FHFA index may not represent all homebuyers.

 

Continue reading on this PAGE.

Clever and space-smart ideas for tiny homes

Small and tiny living spaces have become a trend nowadays not only for the economic practicality that they offer but also for the uniquely comfortable experience that these home owners can enjoy. Downsizing your home isn’t that easy unless you know the basics especially when it comes to providing your stuff proper storage spaces. However, many have proven that it’s possible to build your new tiny home and still have even more than enough space than an ordinary house.

 

 

Image source: countryliving.com

Image source: countryliving.com

 

If you don’t know where to start, these clever and space-smart ideas for tiny homes will help you build the most practical and unique house without sacrificing your comfort.

 

  • Closet-stairs combination

One of the features of a tiny home is the smart combination of closet and stairs. Utilizing the space under the stairs and turning it into a closet or drawers for your other stuff can be stylish if you combine different shapes and a variety of colorful knob designs.

 

  • Storage cubes and unlimited drawers

Kitchen, bedroom or even tiny living room spaces can be cleverly converted to provide practical and stylish storage units. Colorful drawers, cubes and dividers will do the trick.

 

  • The magic of curtain rods

If you want to maximize your kitchen space, curtain rods are all you need. The secret is this simple home device’s functionality and organization. For instance, it can help you to stack cans on their side instead of putting them on top of another. Plus, this set up enables you to take them out easily.

 

  • Vertical kitchen storage

The kitchen is always at the heart of any food-loving owner’s home. It’s important to have the right tools and equipment but how can it be possible for a tiny house? Simple. Make it practical by going vertical. Vertical storage tricks make it easy to organize kitchen tools and it won’t take up so much space.

 

 

Image source: fabfurnish.com

Image source: fabfurnish.com

 

While these hacks can make a huge difference, it is still in the innovativeness of the overall housing design that homeowners can feel more empowered. The rising urban population means that space in cities is getting scarcer, hence the need for residential units that can efficiently use spaces. Such trend is increasingly common amongst real estate developers, especially in congested cities such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, and even New York. It’s one of the many ways in which the real estate industry is able to innovate, and therefore, make it more appealing to both buyers and investors.

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