Global Economic Watch


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  • Singapore Now The World's Priciest City

    You think New York City is expensive? San Francisco? Then don't move to Singapore. The Economist Intelligence Unit now ranks Singapore as the most expensive city to live. With the yen losing value over the last year, Tokyo lost its hold at the top if the EIU list. EIU economist Edward Bell talked about the rankings, and the key factors that make a city pricey or affordable, with the Wall Street Journal 's Deborah Kan :
  • Economist Intelligence Unit Projects These Five Economies Will See Fastest Growth in 2014

    Want your economy to be fast-growing in 2014? It doesn't hurt to have some sort of direct line to the world's most populous economy: China. A gas pipeline or shipping line for minerals will do. Or even a line of wealthy Chinese at your booming casinos. The Economist Intelligence Unit has put out its top five nations for projected growth in the coming year. Numbers 2 through 5 all have economies where growth is tied to China. #1's growth depends more on its ability to stabilize politically, but then it too depends greatly on China.
  • Switzerland and Japan Take Top 4 Spots on World's Most Expensive Cities List

    Zurich has supplanted Tokyo as the most expensive city in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit . The struggles in the EU seem to have pushed already pricey Swiss cities Zurich and Geneva into the top three most expensive cities, as the Swiss Franc keeps getting more and more valuable. From the EIU's Worldwide Cost of Living 2012 report: Both Japan and Switzerland have seen strong currency movements over the last few years which have made them relatively more expensive. This has become especially true of Switzerland in the last year, where investors looking for a haven currency outside the beleaguered Eurozone have invested heavily in the Swiss Franc, prompting an unprecedented move by the Swiss government to peg the Swiss Franc to the Euro to keep the currency competitive. Although Switzerland has long featured in, or around, the world’s most expensive cities, the strong swing in currency headwinds is responsible for Zurich’s current elevated position. In local terms the opposite has been true, with relatively cheaper imports and a stable economy keeping local price inflation low. This mirrors a similar situation in Japan over recent years which resulted in Tokyo and Osaka traditionally holding the unenviable title of being the world’s most expensive cities. Local inflation in mature markets always has far less influence on the relative cost of living than the currency movements of the countries in question. This also explains the recent presence of Australian cities like Sydney and Melbourne in the ten most expensive locations as last year saw the Australian dollar pass parity with the US dollar from holding half that value a decade ago. New Yorkers with empty pockets may be surprised to learn that their city isn't near the top of the list. In fact, no American city cracks the top ten this year. Here are the ten most expensive cities: Read the EIU's release here .
  • Liveability Ratings: Vancouver Remains on Top, Harare Holds Onto Last Place

    The Economists Intelligence Unit 's annual report on the relative liveability of cities is out, and Vancouver remains at the top of the list. Here's the top ten: From the report summary: Vancouver (Canada) remains at the top of the ranking, a position that can only have been cemented by the successful hosting of the 2010 winter Olympics and Paralympics, which provided a boost to the infrastructure and culture and environment categories. Only petty crime presents any difficulties for Vancouver, although this would be a typical shortfall of any such location. Violence is reportedly on an upward trend in the city, but the figures need to be put in context. A murder rate of 2.6 per 100,000 population recorded in 2009 is certainly above the Canadian average of 1.8. However, it remains on a par with the rate in innocuous locations such as New Zealand and Finland, and amounts to one-half of the US average of 5.4 murders, with New York reporting a rate of 6.3 homicides per 100,000 (both figures are for 2008). These advantages are shared with a number of other cities in the survey, and the variation between surveys is minimal. Just 2.3 percentage points separate the top ten cities, where the only change in the current survey is a slightly lower score for Vienna. As a result, Melbourne rises to become the second highest ranked city. This list tends to draw some heated conversations, especially in the US where the top ranking city, Pittsburgh, comes in at 29th overall. But it is important to note that what the list is designed to do is help companies better understand living conditions (including costs) for their workers in various locations. The concept of liveability is simple: it assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions. Assessing liveability has a broad range of uses, from benchmarking perceptions of development levels to assigning a hardship allowance as part of expatriate relocation packages. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rating quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in any given location, and allows for direct comparison between locations. You can access a summary of the report here .
  • Measuring Opportunities for Women Workers

    Martha McCubbin of Grayling London, writes in VoxEU that opportunities for women in business continue to fall short in emerging economies. And, she argues, though the progress has been significantly better in wealthy countries, "full equality is still some distance away." McCubbin highlights the work of the Economist Intelligence Unit (2010) which has accumulated data that might once and for all reveal the key reasons women workers have found more challenges in some countries. The Women's Opportunity Index grades individual countries based on "laws, regulations, practices, customs and attitudes that allow women to participate in the workforce under conditions roughly equal to those of men, whether as wage-earning employees or as owners of a business." And McCubbin shares these ratings: McCubbin: No index of this kind can ever be perfect. This one focuses entirely on the formal sector – jobs that usually have set hours and agreed levels of pay, and that are reflected in national accounts. Many women, especially in lower-income economies, work in the informal sector, where activity is often untaxed and not usually counted by the authorities, but also where labour rights and contracts cannot be enforced. While informal employment can lead to short-term gains, these may be outweighed by informality’s long-term negative impact on economic growth and job creation. For example, a study in Mexico found that women moving from informal to formal employment enjoyed a significant increase in earnings (de Laiglesia et al. 2008). This new index is intended to spur further debate on the drivers of, and constraints on, women’s economic opportunity. The results have been validated against existing external benchmarks, such as the ratio of female-to-male participation in the labour force. The scores were also correlated against other standards of women’s achievement, such as the UN Development Program’s Gender Empowerment Measure. The index was reviewed at critical stages by a peer panel of international development and gender experts. This index breaks new ground by focusing specifically on a country-by-country comparison of economic opportunities for women, going beyond a measurement of gender gaps. For this reason it includes an assessment of the national business environments in which women must function. The index also builds on well-established legal codes, such as the International Labour Organisation’s annual evaluation of equal-pay conventions; in this case, the project team created a scoring scheme based on the International Labour Organisation’s written assessments. Read Empowering women economically: 2010 Women’s Economic Opportunity Index here .
  • Olympic Host City is World's 'Most Liveable'

    The world's "most liveable city" is on display, across the globe, all month. Vancouver, host of the Winter Olympic Games, sits atop the Economist Intelligence Unit 's global liveability survey with a score of 98%. The average score globally is 76%. Canada boasts two other top 5 cities in Toronto (97.2%) and Calgary (96.6%). For comparison sake, The Economist puts Vancouver's scores next to those of the main host city for the next big global event, the 2010 World Cup. Johannesburg, South Africa ranks 92nd with a liveability score of 69.1%. Read more from the Economist Intelligence Unit here . And look at the data for the global liveablilty report here .