REPOST: Europe’s economy grew faster than the US in 2017

Last year, one of the world’s most powerful regions experienced its strongest economic performance in more than 10 years. Europe outgrew the U.S. within that period, and while not as strong as that of Asia Pacific, the growth was impressive enough to reaffirm the continent’s place in world economics. More on this from EURONEWS:

Europe’s economy grew faster than the US in 2017, according to official data released this week, which shows an increase of 2.5% in both the eurozone and European Union last year.

The results published by the EU’s statistics office Eurostat mark the best period of growth for both groupings in more than a decade, and put them slightly ahead of the US, which posted a 2.3% expansion in 2017.

Eurostat also estimated that gross domestic product in the 19 countries sharing the euro and the 28-member EU rose 0.6% during the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with the previous quarter.

“It seems that the eurozone economy continues to fire on all cylinders,” said Bert Colijn, economist at ING bank.

By contrast, the UK economy grew by 1.8% in 2017, down from 1.9% the previous year and the weakest expansion since 2012.

Experts have said the results reflect the impact of higher inflation and weaker investment following the 2016 Brexit vote.

A government assessment leaked to BuzzFeed News this week found that the UK will be worse off outside the EU no matter what deal is struck with Brussels.

Financial services that put the Cayman Islands on the cutting edge

Image source: lom.com

Located in the Western part of the Caribbean Sea is the British Overseas Territory (BOT) of the Cayman Islands – a small but booming region with an economy that can equally compete with the biggest countries in the world. Aside from being a tax-efficient jurisdiction, the Cayman Islands is home to top financial industries globally trusted by international clients and corporations.

Captive Insurance

According to the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA), medical practice liability, medical malpractice coverage, assumer workers compensation risk, as well as workers compensation hold the largest lines of coverage reinsured by captives in the islands. On the other hand, healthcare captives make up at least half of all the captives in the island’s jurisdiction. Worldwide, the Cayman Islands rank second among the biggest captive insurance markets.

Hedge Funds

The Cayman Islands is the top offshore destination for hedge funds. Currently, the region is a home to over 11,000 regulated funds, cementing its rank as one of the leading financial centers in the world. All these were possible because of the Cayman government’s dedication to creating policies that favor and attract international fund managers. It’s quite easy to register new entities on the islands as long as they meet the requirements.

Banking

For many years, the Cayman Islands have been recognized for its international banking opportunities. According to recent data, there are 18 domestic banks in the islands and 140 foreign-controlled banking institutions that are either branches or subsidiaries. The head offices of these banks are usually in the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, and Canada.

According to LOM Financial Cayman, private and institutional investors are attracted to the region because of its professional infrastructure, English common law framework, and robust regulatory framework. The Cayman Islands is also a stable economic and political jurisdiction, and does not directly levy any personal, corporate, or property taxes.

REPOST: Europe’s eastern tigers roar ahead

In Central and Eastern Europe, the world is looking at potentially the next economic powerhouses. The likes of Romania, Poland, and Hungary have recorded highly impressive growth rates over the past years and are expected to build new highways, modernized buildings, and a plethora of foreign investment in the next couple of decades. More insights from POLITICO:

Romania’s map is carved with a heart rate graph | Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images

BUDAPEST — Forget the politics for a moment — check out the economics.

Central and Eastern EU members are in Brussels’ bad books over democratic and legal standards but their economies have become some of the bloc’s star performers.

Romania was the fastest growing economy in the EU last year, with an estimated GDP growth rate of 6.4 percent. Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are also growing more quickly than major economies in Western Europe and boast low unemployment. Of the 12 EU members forecast to grow by 3 percent or more this year, nine are former communist countries in the east of the Continent, according to the European Commission.

A visitor returning to these countries after a few years away will find new highways, modernized buildings, and a plethora of foreign investment. At the same time, low unemployment is boosting consumer confidence and domestic demand, while the continued flow of EU cohesion funds means money is still pouring into the region.

In some countries, unemployment is so low that it’s a problem. In Hungary, high demand for staff and an exodus of workers to Western Europe is making recruitment hard for some companies. Locals complain of having to wait six months just to have an apartment painted. Poland, the region’s largest economy, has thus far avoided a shortage of workers by importing labor, primarily from Ukraine.

EUROPE’S BOOMING EAST
Expected real GDP growth in 2018, divided into fastest growers (3% and over), steady growers (2-3%) and slowest growers.

Such strong economic performance is prompting political leaders in Central and Eastern Europe to demand a greater say in the future of the EU.

“Our country witnessed, at the end of 2017, its seventh consecutive year of growth,” Teodor Meleșcanu, Romania’s foreign minister, wrote in a note to POLITICO. “The first decade after the EU accession was one of growth and development, and we are confident that this next one will be one of consolidation, as we are increasingly active in all EU debates on the main themes concerning its future.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said this month the region was “making more of a contribution to the strength of the European Union than anyone would have thought back in 2004,” when eight Central and Eastern European countries joined the bloc.

Continue reading HERE.

REPOST: Eastern Europe’s major economies are having an underappreciated “Goldilocks moment”

Eastern Europe is a budding economic powerhouse in the world’s wealthiest continent, but no one seems to notice it. Here is an article from Quartz for some insights:

Germany has long been the engine that drives the EU’s economic growth, but for the past few years it has been outpaced by countries further east—most notably Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic.

The three largest eastern EU members by GDP are experiencing a “Goldilocks moment” of high economic growth, low unemployment, and manageable inflation of around 2%, according to Diana Amoa, a money manager at JPMorgan Asset Management who specializes in emerging market debt.

The IMF now forecasts that “emerging and developing Europe” economies to grow 4.5% this year, upping their prediction by 1.5 percentage points from six months ago. This increased optimism is based, in part, on bumper growth in the second quarter of 2017, when Romania’s economy increased 5.7% versus a year earlier, the Czech Republic’s by 4.7%, and Poland’s by 4.4%. By comparison, the EU average was 2.4% growth over the same period.

Why are these countries growing so quickly?

All of these economies are still heavily reliant on manufacturing, exporting much of their production to the rest of the EU. For example, the Czech Republic—er, Czechia—has the lowest unemployment rate in the EU and about 35% of the Czech labor force is employed in manufacturing, the highest proportion of any EU country. When Europe is growing, demand for the things made in these economies grows. Often this means cars: automakers including Toyota, Volkswagen, and Peugeot have factories in the Czech Republic. Romania’s largest exporter is Dacia, a subsidiary of French car company Renault.

Continue reading HERE.

Europe’s most environmentally vulnerable regions are preparing for the worst

Image source: NASA.gov

Humanity is slowly waking up to the inevitable reality of climate change and its potential economic, social, and political repercussions. While some countries have been relatively fortunate to escape the wrath of the worsening changes in the world’s weather patterns, many of the most naturally vulnerable regions are preparing for the worst.

Europe, for instance, as part of the northern hemisphere, is experiencing an alarming pace of warming temperatures more than the global average. Because of this, experts have warned the country of multiple climatic hazards.

According to a related study, European mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees and the Alps will soon experience a dramatic glacier-melting temperature rise – and the Mediterranean is facing the same threat of extreme and drastic heat, possibly triggering a region-wide drought, forest fires, and crop failure.

Image source: ibtimes.com

Even countries fronting the Atlantic could suffer the opposite but similar fate, with experts predicting heavier rainfalls, bigger flood risks as well as continuous devastations from storms of unprecedented strength.

Recently, a massive earthquake shook the Turkish coast and the Greek Islands. Greece and Turkey, according to United Nations University for Environment and Human Security’s (UNU-EHS) World Risk Report in 2015, are among the countries in the continent vulnerable to natural disasters more specifically earthquakes.

These two major European countries are considered the most earthquake-prone countries in the region because of its unfortunate location, seated on the meeting point of Eurasian and African tectonic plates.

Image source: telegraph.co.uk

Since most Europeans live in the cities, urban development experts agree that focusing the attention on infrastructure can be the first line of defense against natural disasters and a long-term solution in coping with climate change. In fact, many cities have adapted similar plans like Copenhagen, Bratislava, London, and Almada in Portugal. Other major cities like Bologna, a medieval city prone to flooding and heatwaves, followed a totally different approach

REPOST: What is the ‘Lucifer’ heatwave in Europe, which countries have had the highest temperatures and what’s the latest forecast?

Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy, and Greece have been the worst hit of this year’s European summer heat wave. The weather phenomenon is particularly dangerous for older people and can cause massive forest fires. Here are more details from The Sun:

A RELENTLESS heatwave which has surged across southern Europe has been given the satanic nickname “Lucifer”.

The sweltering temperatures have caused the mercury rise to as high as 44C in the south of Spain.

Here’s the low down on the high temperatures currently hitting the continent.
People enjoy the sun and the sea on a beach in Villeneuve Loubet, southern France

What is the Lucifer heatwave?

“Lucifer” is the nickname Europeans have come up with to describe the heatwave baking southern Europe.

The devilish moniker was coined after several countries across the continent saw temperatures head north of 40C.

So far at least five people have died in the heat in Italy and Romania.

Unusually high temperatures are being recorded across an area spanning much of Spain and Portugal, southern France, Italy, the Balkans and Hungary.

Hospital admissions have spiked 15-20 per cent in Italy, where at least three people have died.

Italians longing for the beach have dubbed the hot spell “Lucifero”, or Lucifer.

Which countries have had the hottest weather?

Weather boffins have warned the dangerous heatwave has put lives at risk on the continent.

Meteoalarm – a Europe-wide operation made up of dozens of national weather services – has warned that “major damage and accidents are likely, in many cases with threat to life”.

It has issued red alerts – considered “very dangerous” and meaning “exceptionally intense meteorological phenomena are forecast” – for parts of Italy, Switzerland, Croatia and Poland.

Orange alerts – which mean dangerous weather is expected – are in place in Spain, southern France, Greece and much of the Mediterranean.

Continue reading HERE.

Experience an extraordinary gastronomic adventure in these underrated EU cities

Image source: themileageclub.com

 

Europe is a major destination for hundreds of millions of tourists around the world. In fact, the hospitality business in the region is so big that in 2014, one in ten enterprises in the European non-financial business economy belonged to the tourism industries. Its biggest attractions are its majestic ancient and medieval wonders, but visitors also flock to the continent for its diverse and glamorous food scene.  Whether you’re a foodie who just wants to have that once-in-a-lifetime gastronomic experience or if you’re a humble connoisseur of the finest wines, these emerging food hotpots in Europe should be on your itinerary:

 

1. Dubrovnik

Image source: happytrips.com

Located along the Dalmatian coastline, this fascinating Croatian city is a home to a delectable range of seafood cuisines, cooked fresh off the boat in a Mediterranean-style of food preparation that will definitely bring up your appetite.  If you’re more of a truffle fan, did you know that it was in Croatia where they have discovered one of the world’s largest truffle? No wonder why gourmet fungi is popular all over the country.

 

2. Bordeaux

Image source: williams-sonoma.com

Paris and Lyon may be two of the most visited places to eat in France but Bordeaux has its own charm when it comes to its wine culture – however, if we scratch the surface, there’s more to this French city than just a haven of finest wines – its emerging food and restaurant culture. The developing food scene in Bordeaux is credited to the advent of the bistronomy movement, a new culinary movement that’s rejuvenating France’s restaurant scene, attracting a new wave of chefs and culinary experts to the city.

 

3. Lisbon

Image source: hostelsclub.com

An impressive range of seafood from the waters of the Atlantic, an abundance of fruits and fresh meat from Portugal’s countryside: what more could any epicurean ask for? This destination is a treasure island for gourmet pirates who would to enjoy the privilege of a wide selection of Michelin starred- restaurants, relaxed cafes, and interesting establishments and bistros around the city.

REPORT: The 17 most inclusive cities in Europe

Planning to visit, work, or perhaps live in Europe? The cities listed below, as published on The Independent, are considered the best in the continent, ranked based on innovation, inspiration, inclusion, interconnection, investment, and infrastructure:

Europe is incredibly diverse, and it can be hard to know where to go — or where to live, if you’re considering a move.

Savills Investment Management (Savills IM) has released a list of the 40 most dynamic cities in Europe based on a number of factors that contribute to long-term wealth, economic growth, and positive population trends.

130 cities were chosen for the complete survey, which included all European capitals, as well as all cities with a minimum metropolitan area of 250,000 inhabitants, and positive forecasted population growth.

The cities were then measured on innovation, inspiration, inclusion, interconnection, investment, and infrastructure.

Scroll down to see a list of the 17 most innovative, inspiring, and inclusive cities in Europe, ranked in ascending order.

 

  1. Barcelona, Spain

The capital of Catalonia and home to La Rambla, one of Europe’s most famous streets. The Spanish city is famous for its beautiful Gaudí architecture

 

  1. Lausanne, Switzerland

Located in the heart of Europe, Lausanne ranks number one for foreign-born population and number three for number of foreign university students

 

  1. Basel, Switzerland

Located on the Rhine River in northwest Switzerland, close to the borders with France and Germany, Basel is the country’s third most populous city

 

  1. Oxford, England

 

Oxford is helped by a strong and developed university presence and scores particularly highly in individual engagement in community-organised, arts-related activities

 

  1. Oslo, Norway

Oslo is the capital of Norway, which was ranked number one in the OECD’s 2016 Better Life Index. The majority of Norway’s population benefit from paid jobs, a high level of education, and long average life spans.

 

 

  1. Vienna, Austria

Vienna scores fourth in terms of interconnectivity, which takes into account both current and future transport links

 

  1. Madrid, Spain

The city takes the top spot for number of railway stations and ranks fifth in terms of interconnectivity overall. There are less transport projects planned in Madrid compared to the top four cities ranked by this measure

 

  1. Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich scores highly for wealth and consumer spending indicators. The population is forecasted to grow, and the Swiss city ranks in the top 20 for commercial real estate investment activity

 

  1. Edinburgh, Scotland

Historically part of Midlothian, the city has long been a centre of education, particularly in the fields of medicine, Scots law, literature, science, and engineering. The University of Edinburgh is now one of four universities in the city

 

  1. Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm has strong forecasted growth in its urban population and ranks well for government infrastructure

 

 

See the full list on this PAGE.

Most iconic TV and movie locations you can actually visit

Many of us love watching movies and while others just enjoy the good laughs and the wonders of what films have to offer, some fans make the extraordinary effort to travel and get a glimpse of the world inside and beyond their imagination. In fact, in many instances, places featured on popular shows and films have reported a major boost in tourism revenues due mainly to their new-found fame. If you want to visit the most iconic movie locations of some of your favorite films, this list will help you map out an unforgettable and fantastic travel experience.

 

  1. Skiathos and Skopelos islands, Greece
Image source: thomson.co.uk

If you’ve sung along Mamma Mia’s charming classic covers of several iconic songs in this musical film, we’re sure you’ve also noticed the stunning islands where the movie was set: the Grecian jewels, Skiathos and Skopelos. With the enchanting blue waters, the sandy beaches and the familiar tavernas, this film location will surely make you fall in love over and over again.

 

  1. Durham City, Durham
Image source: dur.ac.uk

The Harry Potter series may be a story about a magical world of wizards and witches but it doesn’t mean that muggle fans like us can’t have the chance to visit Hogwarts – at least its counterpart in the real world, the Durham Cathedral. This UNESCO World Heritage Site served as a film location for Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and its sequel, the Chamber of Secrets.

 

  1. Amalfi Coast, Italy
Image source: popsugar.com

The director and the creators of the 2017 Wonder Woman movie actually considered 47 different countries and even visited several of them just to find the most ideal location for the Amazon’s city-state, Themyscira. At last, production designer Aline Bonetto fell in love with the wild, rocky, green coastal landscapes and the sparkling seas of the Amalfi Coast located south of Italy and thought that its Mediterranean landscape would be perfect for the ancient and exotic all-women tribe.

 

  1. Central Park, New York
Image source: traveldigg.com

New York City itself is a popular setting for many television shows and films, but it is its universal symbol, the Central Park, that appears most frequently in the majority of NY-based productions. Huge blockbusters and TV ratings winners such as Law & Order (1990), Sex and the City (1998), The Avengers (2012), and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) all had at least one scene shot in the park.

 

  1. Korean Folk Village, South Korea
Image source: korea.net

Made popular by the Hallyu phenomenon, a.k.a. the Korean Wave, many K-drama locations have become iconic amongst fans, especially those in Asia. The Korean Folk Village in Yongin, Gyeonggi province, for example, is best recognized as the filming location of historical-themed dramas like Jewel in the Palace (2004), Moon Embracing the Sun (2012), and Arang and the Magistrate (2012). This place also offers Instagram-perfect Joseon-era buildings and interesting activities, such as Korean folk games, traditional weddings, and martial arts.

REPOST: The Best Places to Travel in Europe This Year

Europe is a universal staple on every traveler’s bucket list, and there is a very good reason for that. Parade.com suggests 10 destinations that globetrotters–whether first-time vacationers or repeat tourists–must visit this year, with trip highlights such as museums, historic architecture, and fantastic cuisines!

Why should you visit Europe on your next vacation? As the team at new nightlife and travel website SELECT: Your City’s Secrets Unlocked (the fastest way to get to know any city and live like a local) is fond of pointing out, there are a multitude of reasons. For example: World class museums. Movie-worthy beaches. Picturesque skiing. Historic architecture. And, oh yeah, great food, even better wine and all the culture and history you could ever dream of. But what are the best places to visit in Europe, and which travel destinations should you keep in mind when you want to broaden your horizons and get out of your comfort zone? If you’re ready for adventure, here are ten top hotspots to put on your list today.

 

Ireland

First Place to Stop: Belfast

What’s rated as Europe’s top attraction in several polls? The Titanic Museum, which shows off replica cabins and the slip where the fabled ship was built. The W5 children’s science and discovery museum also notches up rave reviews, with more than 250 interactive exhibits on offer, including a multi-story climbing exploration tower aptly called Climbit.

 

Croatia

First Place to Stop: Dubrovnik

This “pearl of the Adriatic” boasts medieval architecture, stunning beaches and exquisite natural beauty. Oh, and if you’re a Game of Thrones fan who appreciates atmospheric locales, rest assured: It’s a must-see city. Croatia’s got several up-and-coming wine regions to explore as well—if you need a quick guide to the area, Dubrovnik Wine Tours can help give you a taste of the region.

 

France

First Place to Stop: Bordeaux

A new high-speed TGV Oceane train connects Paris to Bordeaux, making it possible to journey in less than six hours from the capital’s cultural attractions to the wine and beaches of one of the world’s most fabled retreats. Be sure to check out the recently opened Cite du Vin wine museum as well, and—on a hot day—cool off at the Water Mirror, where you can get misted in rhythmic bursts to cool down in between wine tastings and cultural endeavors.

 

Switzerland

First Place to Stop: Zermatt

If you like mountain hiking and skiing, then Zermatt’s a must-visit destination. Neighbors to the sky-touching Matterhorn, this Swiss town has been a tourist destination for centuries. The five-star Riffelalp Resort, facing the mountain, just reopened after a remodeling in December, with ski access—a visit should quickly be added to your bucket list.

 

See the full list on this PAGE.