Best nations to do business

October 7, 2008

1. Singapore – Singapore kept its top ranking for the third year in a row as the easiest place in the world to do business. The Asian city-state edged out New Zealand and the United States in the ‘Doing Business 2009’ ranking. Along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, Singapore is one of the Four Asian Tigers. Singapore’s economy depends heavily on exports refining imported goods, especially in manufacturing. Thousands of foreign expatriates work here in multi-national corporations. The city-state employs thousands of blue-collared workers across the globe.

2. New Zealand- New Zealand has a developed economy with an estimated nominal GDP of $128.1 billion as on 2008. The country has a very high standard of living. New Zealand’s service sector is the largest sector in the economy, followed by manufacturing and construction and the farming/raw materials extraction. New Zealand is heavily dependent on free trade, particularly in agricultural products.

3. USA- The American economy is under terrible stress at the moment.  A series of events in United States, including the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Bank of America agreeing to buy Merrill Lynch for $44 billion, has shaken up the global financial markets. There could be several more developments over the next few months that might make things more difficult. Thousands will lose their jobs in the global financial sector as many companies have witnessed the fastest drop in business levels, profitability and confidence in almost two decades.  Initial estimates say that the unprecedented crisis in the global financial services industry will lead to more than 250,000 jobs being lost globally. And economists say that this figure is ‘very conservative.’ The eventual number of jobs that will actually be lost could be much higher, they say. The fiscal hurricane that originated in the United States has soon spread panic and gloom across the world markets. European companies have already announced layoffs, while some Asian companies too have done the same. However, some relief came with the US Congress approving a revised $700 billion package to bail out the beleaguered financial sector of the country.

4. Hong Kong- Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading financial centers.  It is one of the four Asian tigers known for its high growth rate and rapid industrialization. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the sixth largest in the world, with a market capitalization of $2.97 trillion as on October 2007. It is an important centre for international finance and trade, with the greatest concentration of corporate headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region.

5. Denmark- Denmark has a GDP per capita higher than that of most European countries, and 15-20% higher than that of the United States. Denmark is one of the most competitive economies in the world according to World Economic Forum 2008 report, IMD, and The Economist. Denmark’s market economy features efficient markets, above average European living standards, and high amount of free trade. Denmark is home to many multinational companies. Among them: A P Moller-Maersk Group, Lego, Bang & Olufsen, Carlsberg, Vestas, Novozymes and the pharmaceutical companies Lundbeck and Novo Nordisk deserve special mention

6. Britain- The British economy is made up (in descending order of size) of the economies of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In the 1980s, during Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s tenure, most state-owned enterprises were privatized. The British government now owns very few industries or businesses — Royal Mail is one of the very few examples. In the post World War II period, the British economy recorded chronic weak growth. However, in recent years Britain has seen the longest period of economic growth. It has grown in every quarter since 1992.  It is one of the strongest EU economies in terms of inflation, interest rates and unemployment, all of which remain relatively low. The country’s GDP as of 2007, stands at $2.772 trillion.

7. Ireland- The economy of the Republic of Ireland is modern and trade-dependent with growth averaging a 7% per annum in 1995-2007. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry, which accounts for 46% of GDP, about 80% of exports, and employs 29% of the labour force. Ireland has the second highest per capita income of any country in the EU next to Luxembourg, and fourth highest in the world based on measurements of gross domestic product per capita

8. Canada- Canada is one of the world’s wealthiest nations, and a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and Group of Eight. As with other developed nations, the Canadian economy is dominated by the service industry, which employs about three quarters of Canadians. The country’s GDP as of 2007 stands at $1.274 trillion. Canada has a sizable manufacturing sector, centered in Central Canada, the automobile industry being especially important.

9. Austria- The economy of the Republic of Austria may be characterized as a social market economy similar in structure with that of Germany. In 2004 Austria was the fourth richest country within the European Union, having a GDP per capita of approximately Euro27’666, with Luxembourg, Ireland, and Netherlands leading the list. In the post World War II era, Austria has achieved sustained economic growth. In the crisis-ridden 1950s, the rebuilding efforts for Austria lead to an average annual growth rate of more than 5 per cent in real terms and averaged about four point five per cent through most of the 1960s.

10. Norway- The economy of Norway has shown robust growth since the start of the industrial era. Shipping has long been a support of Norway’s export sector, but much of Norway’s economic growth has been fueled by an abundance of natural resources, including petroleum exploration and production, hydroelectric power, and fisheries. Norway is among the most expensive countries in the world, as reflected in the Big Mac Index. Historically, transportation costs and barriers to free trade had caused the disparity, but in recent years, Norwegian policy with respect to labor relations, taxation, etc, have contributed significantly.


World’s best Metro Rail Systems

August 21, 2008

Here are the world’s most popular international underground transit systems. . .

1. New York

The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the City of New York and leased to the New York City Transit Authority. The NYCTA is a subsidiary of Metropolitan Transportation Authority. From 28 stations, when it was founded in October, 1904, it has grown to 462 stations. The subway carries 4.9 million people daily. It is one of the most extensive public transportation systems in the world, with 369 km of rail route. The subway is also among the few rapid transit systems in the world to run 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

2. London

The London Underground, usually referred to as the Tube, is Europe’s largest metro subway system and also the world’s oldest. Inaugurated in 1863, today it has 268 stations and covers 405 km of rail tracks. It transports over 976 million people yearly. The Underground serves a large part of Greater London and neighboring areas of Essex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire in England.

3. Paris

The Paris subway system is the second oldest in the world and transports roughly 1.5 million people daily at modest fares. The subway system runs over 214 km and stops at 380 stations. The network is so extensive that almost every building in Paris is within 500 meters of a subway station. Many of these stations are famous for their architecture, representing the Art Nouveau style.

4. Moscow

The Moscow subway system caters to 3.2 billion riders travelling annually on 12 subway lines to 172 stations. The Moscow Metro covers approximately 290 km. On an average weekday, the subway itself carries about 8.2 million passengers. Each subway line is identified by an alphanumeric index (usually consisting of just a number), a name, and a color. The voice announcement systems refer to lines by name, while in colloquial usage they are mostly referred to by color. While most of the Moscow trains run underground, some lines cross bridges overlooking the Moskva and the Yauza Rivers.

5. Montreal

The Montreal Metro is a rubber-tired metro system, and the main form of public transportation in the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Inaugurated in 1966, it is not too extensive — about 60 km, reaching 68 stations on four lines — but is a very modern system that was inspired by the Paris Metro. It caters to 835,000 people daily. The Metro is operated by the Societe de Transport de Montreal

6. Madrid

The Madrid Metro is the second largest underground system in Europe and the sixth largest in the world. The first line of the Madrid metro opened on October 17, 1919, under the direction of the Compania de Metro Alfonso XIII, with 8 stations and a 3.5-km track. This metro network now has 231 stations on 12 lines. It has 227 km of track and an additional 44 km of track is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The Madrid Metro is one of the densest metro networks in the world.

7. Tokyo

Tokyo Metro is one of two metro systems making up the Tokyo subway system, the other being Toei. In addition to underground subways, the Tokyo transit system consists of the Toden Arakawa light rail line and the Ueno Zoo Monorail. The Tokyo subway system carries approximately 2.8 billion people per year to 282 subway stations. Efforts are made to make the system accessible to non-Japanese speaking users. Many train stops are announced in both English and Japanese. Announcements also provide connecting line information. Ticketing machines can switch between English and Japanese user interfaces. Many stations’ railings often have Braille at their base meant for visually challenged commuters.

8. Seoul

The Seoul Metropolitan Subway is one of the most heavily used subway systems in the world with more than 8 million daily trips. Seoul Metro is a public corporation which runs the Seoul Subway. During 1970-2006, it was called Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corporation. It is also one of the longest subway systems worldwide, running 287 km in length. The trains mostly run underground, but 30 per cent of the system is above ground.

9. Beijing

The Beijing Subway opened in 1969 and serves Beijing and the surrounding suburbs. Just before the 2008 Beijing Olympic games began, it was further developed at a cost $7.69 billion. The expansion project has taken the length of the subway station to about 480 km. With almost a dozen lines and 123 stations currently in operation and average passenger strength of 3.4 million per day, the Beijing Subway is the busiest in mainland China.

10. Hong Kong

The Hong Kong subway, also known as the Mass Transit Railway Corporation, was set up in 1979. Despite its relatively small size (90 km), compared to other metro systems across the globe, the MTR transports an average of 2.46 million rides per day. The Hong Kong system is based on a British design. Recently, approval was granted for the merger of the MTR and the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, to make the system more cost-effective and efficient.

11. Sao Paolo

The Sao Paulo Metro is the first underground transit system in Brazil and it began operations in 1974. It works alongside a larger company called the Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM) and together they cover about 300 km of track and transport approximately 3.7 million people daily. Sao Paulo is one of the largest cities in the world, with a population of 19 million. Its metro system consists of four color-coded lines: Line 1-Blue, Line 2-Green, Line 3-Red and Line 5-Lilac. Line 4-Yellow is currently under construction and is due to start operating in late 2009. The metro system carries 3.2 million passengers a day.

World’s top business centers

June 12, 2008

According to a study titled ‘MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index, the following are the top business centers of the world. All the cities have been rated on seven different parameters, including legal and political framework, economic stability, ease of doing business, financial flow, business centre, financial flow, knowledge creation and information flow and livability, MasterCard said.

#1: London

At rank 1, London reigns supreme among the top commercial cities of the world. London scores highest in the financial flow, knowledge creation and information flow. London is also ranked high in the business centre criteria. It is ranked 3rd in terms of ease of doing business and 9th in legal and political framework. London did not fare as well in livability criteria (rank 24th), and economic stability (rank 20th). A strong economy and a vibrant financial market are its strengths.

#2. New York

New York ranks second in the list of top global business centers. These global cities connect markets and commercial activity across the world. New York is ranked top in North America. It beats London in the legal and political framework dimension and economic stability and livability. New York, however, ranks lower in financial flow and business center dimension.

#3. Tokyo

Tokyo ranks third in the list of top ‘Worldwide Centers of Commerce’. More and more Asian cities rapidly growing attracting big business and a place in the global business world. Tokyo scores very well in the dimensions of financial flow, business centre, livability and knowledge creation and information flow where also it was ranked 3rd. However, Tokyo scored considerably lower than London and New York in legal and political framework, economic stability and ease of doing business

#4. Singapore

Singapore ranks fourth in the list of top business centers. Two Asian cities top the list in terms of ease of doing business. Singapore tops with an index value of 82.82 and in terms of business centers, Singapore is ranked at the third spot with an index value of 62.58.

#5. Chicago

Chicago ranks fifth in the list of top business centers in the world. In terms of knowledge creation and information flow, Chicago ranks among the top 10. More universities, MBA programmes, research institutions and numbers of researchers drive this dimension of knowledge creation.

#6. Hong Kong

Hong Kong ranks sixth in the list of top commercial centers. In terms of ease of doing business, Hong Kong is ranked second with an index value of 80.37. Cities in Asia were not generally major centers of commerce in the second half of the 20th century, with the exception of Tokyo and subsequently Hong Kong and Singapore.

The very strong rise of Shanghai in the 2008 Index reflects the equally spectacular rise of China. While Shanghai was likely the dominant Asian commercial centre before World War II, it faded for many decades until China’s economic reforms of the 1980s catapulted it back to global prominence, the report states.

#7. Paris

Paris ranks seventh among top global business centers. In Europe, it ranks at No. 2 after London. With a score of 79.17, London tops the list in Europe also but there is a big gap between it and other cities, Paris has a score of 63.87 and Madrid has a score of 58.34.

#8. Frankfurt

Frankfurt has slipped to No. 8 among the world’s top commercial centers. It stood in the seventh spot in 2007. The city ranks at No. 3 among European cities.

#9. Seoul

Seoul ranks ninth among the world’s top financial centers. The booming Chinese and Indian economies reflect the economic power to Asia. The strong presence of Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa cities is further evidence of the growing influence of the region not just in manufacturing and services, but also in broadly based commercial strength, the study said

#10. Amsterdam

Amsterdam ranks tenth among the list of top commercial centers in the world. It ranks among the top ten in legal and political framework. It also ranks high in the business centers criteria and economic stability.