EGS Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 108, Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CFE, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS)

Comments About This 108th Issue:  When AI capabilities will rival those of humans. Who walks, drives cars or rides buses around the world. An interesting look at rapidly changing women’s sports in the Middle East. The immense impact of vaccinations on children around the world. Renewables are now 30% of the world’s electricity. Positive news on the economies of Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. How America’s U.S. stocks have dominated global investing, as measured by market capitalization, for most of the past 125 years. And how life expectancies have changed over time around the world.


Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CEO & Global Advisor, Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS), Irvine, California, USA. Contact Bill with any questions, comments and contributions.

Bedwards@edwardsglobal.com, +1 949 375 1896



First, A Few Words of Wisdom From Others For These Times

“I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless, and it isn’t of much value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.” Boris Pasternak

The best way to predict the future is to create it – Peter Drucker

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you,”, Jim Rohn


Highlights in issue #108:

  • Brand Global News Section: Luckin Coffee®, McDonalds®, Nothing Bundt Cakes®, Pret A Manger®, Planet Fitness®, Yum China

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Interesting Data, Articles and Studies

Life Expectancy by Region (1950-2050F)At the beginning of the 19th century, no country had a life expectancy exceeding 40 years, with much of the global population enduring extreme poverty, limited access to medical care, and a lack of sanitation.

By 1950, newborns in Europe, North America, Oceania, Japan, and parts of South America were seeing life expectancies surpassing 60 years, while in other regions, newborns could only anticipate a lifespan of around 30 years. For instance, individuals in Norway had a life expectancy of 72 years, while in Mali, it was merely 26 years. On average, Africa had a life expectancy of only 38 years. Since then, life expectancies have substantially grown worldwide. Notably, between 1950 and 2000, significant progress was observed in Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.”, Visual Capitalist and the United Nations, May 6, 2024


Japanese angst as India set to become 4th largest economyOnce an economic powerhouse that was the envy of much of the world, there is deep concern in Tokyo that the economies of China and Germany have already surpassed Japan’s — and that India’s will do so next year. The announcement that in 2025 India will overtake Japan in nominal gross domestic product in dollar terms has shocked Tokyo, which had until 2010 been the undisputed second-largest economy in the world but is now on the brink of slipping to fifth place. In estimates released in late April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicated that India’s nominal GDP will reach $4.34 trillion (€4.03 trillion) in 2025, surpassing Japan’s $4.31 trillion.”, Deutsche Welle, May 10, 2024


Vaccines have saved 150 million children over the last 50 years – Every ten seconds, one child is saved by a vaccine against a fatal disease. Vaccination against measles has had the biggest impact, saving 94 million lives over the last 50 years — more than 60% of the total. This has been a truly global effort, with more than 5 million children saved in every region, including over 50 million in Africa and 38 million in Southeast Asia. Infant mortality rates have plummeted over the last 50 years. Globally, they’ve fallen by over two-thirds, from around 10% in 1974 to less than 3% today.”, Our World In Data, May 6, 2024



What’s the future of AI? AI is here to stay. To outcompete in the future, organizations and individuals alike need to get familiar fast. We’re in the midst of a revolution. Just as steam power, mechanized engines, and coal supply chains transformed the world in the 18th century, AI technology is currently changing the face of work, our economies, and society as we know it. We don’t know exactly what the future will look like. But we do know that these seven technologies will play a big role.” McKinsey & Co., April 30, 2024


Women’s Sports in the Middle EastFor centuries, women in the Middle East have faced significant cultural and societal barriers when it comes to participating in sports. However, times are changing, and a growing movement of passionate female athletes, advocates, and organisations are paving the way for greater inclusion and opportunities in the world of sports across the region. In this post we will have a look at how things have changed and how things are improving. With the Olympics around the corner and so many great sports initiatives in the Gulf region, let’s have a look at some of the Women Athletes making waves in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region….”, Middle East Sunday Pages, May 12, 2024. Article by Corina Goetz, Middle East Sunday Pages

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Global Supply Chain, Energy, Commodities, Inflation, Taxes & Trade Issues

Renewable energy passes 30% of world’s electricity supply – Report says humans may be on brink of cutting fossil fuel generation, even as demand for electricity rises. Solar was the main supplier of electricity growth, according to Ember, adding more than twice as much new electricity generation as coal in 2023. Solar was the main supplier of electricity growth, according to Ember, adding more than twice as much new electricity generation as coal in 2023. The first comprehensive review of global electricity data covers 80 countries, which represent 92% of the world’s electricity demand, as well as historic data for 215 countries. The surge in clean electricity is expected to power a 2% decrease in global fossil fuel generation in the year ahead, according to Ember.”, The Guardian, May 7, 2024

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Global & Regional Travel

How People Get Around in America, Europe, Asia – This chart highlights the popularity of different transportation types in the Americas, Europe, and Asia, calculated by modal share.  Data for this article and visualization is sourced from ‘The ABC of Mobility’, a research paper by Rafael Prieto-Curiel (Complexity Science Hub) and Juan P. Ospina (EAFIT University), accessed through ScienceDirect. The authors gathered their modal share data through travel surveys, which focused on the primary mode of transportation a person employs for each weekday trip. Information from 800 cities across 61 countries was collected for this study.”, Visual Capitalist, May 8, 2024

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Country & Regional Updates

China

The Debate Is Heating Up Over China’s Factory OutputChina’s exports rose more than expected in a boost for the economy. A growing number of countries are complaining that China produces too much cheap stuff in its powerhouse factories, and should do something about it soon. They’d better not hold their breath……..China’s economic planning agency had released a detailed rebuttal of claims about “overcapacity,” arguing that Chinese electric cars and solar panels are cheap because their producers are efficient, not because they’re subsidized.”, Bloomberg, May 9, 2024


EU Firms’ Appetite for China Investment Sinks to Record LowCompanies invest in Asean as China’s appeal fades: survey Overcapacity observed across industries, deflating prices. China is losing its luster as a top country to invest in as firms seek to avoid geopolitical risks and turn to Southeast Asia and Europe, according to a survey by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.Only 13% of firms surveyed earlier this year saw the country as a top destination for investments, the lowest level since records began in 2010 and down from 27% in 2021. Companies are now shifting investments to mitigate the impact of “decoupling” between China and other countries as well as to find opportunities elsewhere….”, European Union Chamber of Commerce, may 8, 2024


Egypt

Fitch revises Egypt’s outlook to positive on reduced external financing risks – In March, the International Monetary Fund approved an expanded financial support of $8 billion for the North African country. The IMF’s loan programme with Egypt should help the country gradually reduce its debt burden, an IMF official said last month. In February, the country also secured a $35 billion real estate investment from the United Arab Emirates to develop its Mediterranean coast stretch. Foreign investors have poured billions of dollars into Egyptian treasury bills since the country announced the IMF loan programme.”, Reuters, May 3, 2024


Indonesia

Indonesia Economy Expands Steadily at Start of Year, But Challenges PersistSoutheast Asia’s largest economy grew 5.11% on the year in the first quarter. Household consumption and investment, along with government spending, were among the main drivers of growth. Manufacturing—the sector that makes up the biggest share of GDP—grew 4.1% on the year in the first quarter, while the agricultural industry, which accounts for about 12% of GDP, contracted by 3.5%.”, The Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2024


Indonesia taps influencers to convince people to move to its new, under-construction capital – Social media stars are downplaying fears of deforestation and boredom in Nusantara. Four years after Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced that he would move the nation’s capital from the main island of Java to Borneo, he led a tour of dozens of influencers through Nusantara, the new capital under construction. The influencers, wearing hard hats, stood in front of a giant glass-and-chrome building in the shape of a bird — the mythological garuda or golden eagle — which will be the new presidential palace. On TikTok, Jerhemy Owen told his 3 million followers: “Nusantara will be the smartest and most eco-friendly city in the world! It will be 65% forest and 25% urban area.”, Rest Of World, April 19, 2024


South Korea

South Korea prepares support package worth over $7 billion for chip industrySouth Korea is readying plans for a support package for chip investments and research worth more than 10 trillion won ($7.30 billion), the finance minister said on Sunday, after setting its sights on winning a “war” in the semiconductor industry. Finance Minister Choi Sang-mok said the government would soon announce details of the package, which targets chip materials, equipment makers, and fabless companies throughout the semiconductor supply chain. The program could include offers of policy loans and the setting-up of a new fund financed by state and private financial institutions, Choi told executives of domestic chip equipment makers at a meeting, the finance ministry said in a statement. South Korea is also building a mega chip cluster in Yongin, south of its capital, Seoul, which it touts as the world’s largest such high-tech complex.”, Reuters, May 11, 2024


Turkey

S&P upgrades Turkey’s credit outlook on rebalanced economic strategy – Ankara is expected to take measures to streamline fiscal, monetary and incomes policies in 2024. The country’s long-term rating was raised one notch up to “B+” from “B”, with a positive outlook, the New York-based ratings agency said on Friday. A “B+” rating, which is “highly speculative”, is four levels below investment grade, according to S&P’s ratings scale. Non-investment grade makes it more difficult for a country to access capital markets and raise funding that it needs when it wants to borrow. S&P expects Ankara will take measures to streamline fiscal, monetary and incomes policies, which would include cuts to current non-wage expenditures in 2024. A return to a more orthodox policy has led S&P to ‘believe the co-ordination between monetary, fiscal, and incomes policy is set to improve, amid external rebalancing.’ ”,  The National News, May 4, 2024


United Kingdom

UK economy ‘going gangbusters’ after coming out of recession with fastest growth in two years, say expertsWe’re seeing the fastest growth for two years – the joint highest in the G7. We’ve got inflation down from over 11% to just over 3%. Mortgage rates are down from their peak. Food prices are coming down. And we’ve seen wages growing in real terms for nine months in a row. The numbers on business investment don’t lie either.  This follows major investments from the likes of Google, Microsoft, Nissan and Tata Group. It’s a huge vote of confidence in the UK.”, The Sun, May 10, 2024


Heineken to refresh hundreds of pubs with £39m (US$49m) upgradeStar Pubs reopenings and revamps expected to create more than 1,000 jobs, with new lighting and sound systems introduced to broaden their appeal. Ninety-four pubs are set for makeovers costing an average of £200,000 (US$250,000). The revamps, which come as pubgoers remain eager to go out despite the cost of living crisis, enable pubs to cater for numerous occasions and maximise events, Heineken said.  Updates planned include overhauling cellars with state-of-the-art dispense equipment and launching energy-efficiency measures such as heating controls, insulation and low-energy lighting. Heineken says these changes will cost about £12,500 (US$16,000) per pub but reduce energy use by 15 per cent.”, The Times of London, May 6, 2024


United States

“An American Century (and more) for Stocks – EVERY YEAR, CHINA GETS CLOSER to catching the U.S. as the world’s biggest economy. When it comes to their stock markets, however, there’s no contest. Since 1992, China’s GDP has grown 6.5 times as fast as America’s—but U.S. stock returns have been 3.5 times as high. Indeed, U.S. stocks have dominated global investing, as measured by market capitalization, for most of the past 125 years. For that, you can partly thank New Deal–era regulations that tamed the Wild West of U.S. markets, making them attractive to risk-averse investors worldwide. And compared with China, where state-owned companies drive the economy, the U.S. gets more growth from publicly traded companies. But supremacy can be fleeting. Just ask Japan, whose markets soared in the late 1980s, only to nose-dive amid asset bubbles and massive overborrowing. In other words: Don’t get too cocky, U.S. stock bulls.”, Fortune and UBS, May 12, 2024


There’s Not Enough Power for America’s High-Tech Ambitions – (The state of)Georgia is a magnet for data centers and other cutting-edge industries, but vast electricity demands are clashing with the newcomers’ green-energy goals. Georgia’s main utility, Georgia Power, has boosted its demand projections sixteen-fold and is pushing ahead on a hotly contested plan to burn more natural gas. Critics warn it will yield higher bills and unnecessary carbon emissions for decades. Some companies are scrambling to secure bespoke renewable-energy deals to power their development. One major source of disruption is data centers. The facilities are ballooning in size as people spend more of their waking hours online and companies digitize everything from factory processes to fast-food drive-throughs.”, The Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2024

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Brand & Franchising News

McDonald’s is betting on its mobile business with new franchisee digital marketing fund – McDonald’s will require its U.S. operators to pay into a new digital marketing fund starting next year, according to a memo viewed by CNBC. The switch is meant to modernize the company’s marketing strategy and widen its competitive advantage as it doubles down on mobile ordering and its digital business. U.S. franchisees will start paying into a digital marketing fund next year as the fast-food giant looks to expand its booming digital business, according to a memo viewed by CNBC on Thursday. The change is meant to modernize the company’s marketing strategy and widen its competitive advantage, according to the memo, which was written by U.S. Customer Experience Officer Tariq Hassan and Chief Information Officer Whitney McGinnis.”, CNBC, May 9, 2024


Planet Fitness is raising prices even as it warns customers are growing cost-consciousPlanet Fitness said it’s hiking its base-level membership prices for new customers for the first time since 1998, even as the gym operator warns that customers are growing increasingly cost-conscious.Classic card membership will be priced at $15 per month for new members starting this summer. Current members will continue to pay $10 per month “for the duration of their membership,” Planet Fitness said Thursday alongside its quarterly earnings report. The change comes after months of price testing in several markets countrywide.”, CNBC, May 90, 2024


“Luckin Coffee s revenue surged by 40 percent in the first quarter but the ongoing price war is eating away at profits – The price war that has lasted for nearly a year has an increasingly obvious impact on coffee companies. According to the announcement, in the first quarter of 2024, Luckin Coffee opened 2,342 stores, including 2 Singapore stores, bringing the total number of Luckin Coffee stores to 18,590, including 12,199 self-operated stores and 6,391 jointly operated stores……. According to the announcement, in the first quarter of 2024, Luckin Coffee opened 2,342 stores, including 2 Singapore stores, bringing the total number of Luckin Coffee stores to 18,590, including 12,199 self-operated stores and 6,391 jointly operated stores.”, Yical News, May 2, 2024. Compliments of Paul Jones, Jones & Co., Toronto


Edinburgh and Dundee set for six new Pret a Manger outlets as Scottish franchisee expands – The new store openings are expected to create at least 150 jobs. Two Scottish cities are set for three new Pret a Manger sandwich and snack outlets apiece after a franchise funding deal was agreed. Glasgow-based Joup Group has received a seven-figure financing package from HSBC UK to acquire three existing stores and open the six new ones – three in Edinburgh and three in Dundee. Joup Group already owns six Domino’s pizza franchises across Dundee and Angus.”, The Scotsman, May 10, 2024


Cake Company Seeks $240 Million Selling Franchise-Backed BondsNothing Bundt Cakes has added nearly 200 stores since 2021 Whole business securitizations already outpaced 2023’s totals. The Texas-based cake maker is borrowing in the whole-business asset-backed securities market for the third time after its initial foray in 2021, when it sold $355 million in bonds. This time, proceeds from the bond sale led by Barclays Plc will be used to refinance all of the company’s 2023-1 Class A notes and possibly to fund a payout to shareholders, according to a person familiar with the matter.”, Bloomberg, May 10, 2024


Yum China had a good start in the first quarter it has more than 15 000 stores and capital expenditures for mini stores in small towns are as low as 500 000 yuan (US$69,000). This quarter, Yum China added a net of 378 stores , passing the 15,000-store milestone . The total number of stores reached 15,022, including 10,603 KFC stores and 3,425 Pizza Hut stores. It is expected that by 2026, the total number of stores will reach 15,020,000 homes (in China).”, Caijing, April 30, 2024. Compliments of Paul Jones, Jones & Co., Toronto


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Our Mission, Information Sources & Who We Are

Our biweekly global business update newsletter focuses on what is happening around the worldthat impacts new trends, health, consumer spending, business investment, the franchise sector, economic development, and travel. We daily monitor 30+ countries, 40+ international information sources and six business sectors to keep up with what is going on in this ever-changing business environment. And our GlobalTeam™ on the ground covering 25+ countries provide us with updates about what is actually happening in their specific countries.

William “Bill” Edwards: Global Advisor Is Uniquely Qualified to Steer Sr. Executives Successfully Through the Complex Waters of Going Global.  With four decades of successful international business experience spanning virtually every corner of the world and many business sectors, Bill Edwards understands the global business landscape like no other.  He has been a County Master Franchisee in five countries in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East; the Senior VP for a franchisor operating in 15 countries and a full-service consultant since 2001 taking 40+ franchisors global.

For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to take your business global successfully, click on the QR code or contact Bill Edwards at bedwards@edwardsglobal.com or +1 949 224 3896. 

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