Archive for the ‘International economy’ Category

Populated Peoples Front of Australia

January 24, 2011

I so enjoyed my amateur economic geography yesterday that I’ve made an another tribute map.

If you click on the “Population” tab on the aforementioned map from The Economist you can see the US states transformed into the equivalent nation by population (I’m feeling more exotic now as my 2011 US journeying will take me to Cameroon and Senegal).

So here is the Australia commonwealth rebadged (population for our states is from the ABS again, and country comparisons from this Wikipedia aggregation of sources):

This is a quite different batch of pairings, and my thoughts on each:

  • It’s a joy to be living in Copenhagen again, although I’m stunned by the traffic (especially the paucity of bicycles) and lack of decent smørrebrød
  • The NSW Labor Party would love the electoral might of Emomali Rhamon
  • WA is no doubt relieved it has held off on adopting the Euro
  • Tasmania has under-utilised its first-mover advantage with legal casinos
  • Both our non-states (i.e. the Northern and Australian Capital Territories) have tax-haven status
  • …and I know a lot less about Queensland and South Australia than I thought

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A slightly different Australian Federation

January 23, 2011

Inspired by The Economist magazine’s latest map of the USA with state names replaced by the equivalent nation based on GDP, I felt inspired to do the same for Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics calculates Gross State Products. I converted each to $US using the average exchange rate of (A$1=US0.88) for the period 2009-10.  I then compared them to the latest country GDP calculations from the International Monetary Fund. It throws up some fun replacements:

I draw a number of conclusions from this:

  • Victorians should be much more excited by the rarity of our current floods
  • The beer in Queensland should be much, much better
  • The current economic dramas of New South Wales should be viewed as a likely long-term issue
  • Our Olympic sprint coaches should be scouring the Northern Territory
  • All future Western Australian tourist campaigns will incorporate Paddington Bear
  • We may see South Australia split into two states very soon
  • Tasmania is NOT an island, but rather is mountainous (I assume all of Hobart has moved to the top of Mt Wellington) and landlocked…and bordering WA
  • Julia Gillard will be delighted that her power has increased, ruling in a Kingdom as she does!

As an aside, I was a little disappointed that, during my stay in the US this year, I’ll be splitting much of my time between Australia and Indonesia!

Update: I have also done this for population now.

Who’s #2? Who’s #2?

August 20, 2010

It would be remiss of a blog about International Business to not comment upon a major milestone that occurred (or at least was acknowledged) this week.

China has usurped Japan as the world’s 2nd largest economy behind the US.  This is rightfully being hailed as yet another step on China’s rise to the #1 spot (typically forecast as happening by 2030).

A few issues worth noting:

– This is simply in nominal terms (i.e. converted at prevailing exchange rates).  Allowing for cost of living (what we typically refer to as Purchasing Power Parity) China’s GDP was almost twice as large as Japan already (and about 60% the size of US, rather than the nominal 40% or so)

– There is good reason to believe that these Chinese economy is even larger, with one study estimating the grey economy may add another 30% on top of the official GDP numbers

– A long-term historical perspective would acknowledge this as a “return” to #1 (a rank China has probably occupied more than any other nation-state over human history)

– Putting this all in per capita terms tempers the story considerably, as China struggles to crack the top 100 nations on an income per head basis even when converted to PPP.

This last point is in many ways the most important aspect.  China, and in particular its entrepreneurs, planners, and citizens, isn’t about to slow down in the pursuit of a prosperity.  In the medium-to-long term only India has any real chance of matching the nation for market and labour-force size.  China is already the world’s top exporter, steel-maker and auto market.  The world’s largest multinationals are all scrambling to part of  China’s engagement with each and every aspect of their value chains.

Time for Apple to flex its muscles?

January 12, 2010

There’s more to a firm or product’s success than merely the action of the firm in question.

Apple have a struck rich seam of gold with the iPhone.  I recently joined said user cult, and in the Australian domestic setting, was wowed by its interface, the integration of voice and data services (plus all the apps, music and general funkiness elements).

But, here I am in Thailand and I don’t dare utilise the data roaming facilities (beyond typically unsuccessful searches for free wi-fi).  I am simply unwilling to incur the astronomical prices being quoted by my Aussie telecoms provider (something like $20 a mb!), nor am I enamoured with the call costs ($1 for 30 secs).

So I am back using a 1st generation Nokia with a local SIM card and a ridiculously cheap prepaid topup.  I also carry what is now effectively a very pricey iPhone touch in case someone calls from down under.

It is alarming how easily the utility of a nifty product can fall away.

It is criminal how the various national (and international) telecoms players interact to generate such enormous rents from international travellers.  There were similar problems in the voice domain a decade ago, but someone clearly broke the cartel.

The challenge is there for Apple given their headline device is so data hungry. It is scaring off corporate clients. There is a lot of noise around the internet from dissatisfied customers slugged with outrageous bills.

Apple has rewritten the handset provider-telecoms bargaining relationship, earning a considerably higher percentage of call revenues than their competitors.  Will they flex their muscles on the global roaming front and thus maintain their unofficial role as the purported patron saints of consumers everywhere?

More on forward integration into online retailing

December 3, 2009

Yesterday’s post about Billabong’s forward integration into online retailing ended with a query about whether other such firms have pursued this strategy (and whether it has been a success).

Coincidently I have since stumbled upon this story reporting recent moves by various Italian fashion houses such as Armani, Roberto Cavelli, Valentino and Ferragamo, to build their presence online (link c/o State of Lux). This quote sounds pretty familiar:

“The cost of making a Web Site is not that big. That’s encouraging fashion houses,” said Stefano Sassi, chief executive officer of Milan-based Valentino, which opened its Web shop six months ago. “There’s a very interesting margin on e-commerce.”

It would seem these firms would face a similar issue with channel conflict (with potentially even more conflicts with respect to price parity maintenance).

Armani has also taken on the m-commerce challenge with an i-Phone application. Is this sort of customer engagement better suited to luxury goods?