World’s top innovative nations

January 16, 2009

1. United States

The United States still rules the world when it comes to innovation. This is no surprise, as the US with a legacy of over 100 years in innovation, has been consistent in taking the leader’s slot. The US knows it must continue to innovate to stay ahead. It tops in three areas: human capacity, business markets and competitiveness. The five input pillars that are included in the GII are: Institutions and Policies, Human Capacity, General and ICT Infrastructure, Markets Sophistication and Business Sophistication. The input pillars define aspects of the conducive environment required to stimulate innovation within an economy. There are three output pillars which provide evidence of the results of innovation within the economy: Knowledge Creation, Competitiveness and Wealth Creation. The US scored high on both input (ranked 2nd) and output (ranked 1st) pillars.

2. Germany

Germany follows in second position, maintaining its position from last year. Germany scores relatively low on the input pillars (10th) and very high on the output pillars (2nd), leading to an overall second rank. It is important to note that that eight out of the top 10 countries in the list are from Europe. As global competition intensifies and innovation becomes more important, the business sector has been internationalizing knowledge-intensive corporate functions, including research and development, the study points out.

3. Sweden

Sweden rises to 3rd rank in 2008 year from 12th position in 2007. It’s important to provide a safety net to innovators, says the study. There must be a conducive environment for innovative companies. A ‘succeed or perish’ environment often kills innovative ideas in the nascent stages as people will be too intimidated to take creative risks that could fail.

4. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom fell from 3rd to 4th position in 2008. The study reflects that innovation is correlated with income levels in a country. For example, the innovation levels in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries are much more than non-OECD countries. The high income countries do significantly better by topping innovation rankings. The average innovation index falls with the income levels of the country.

5. Singapore

Singapore rose to 5th rank in 2008 from 7th. Singapore is also 2nd from the Asian region. Innovation is not just about generating new ideas, says the study. It is about translating these ideas into value-added products and services. This requires flexibility of attitude and a willingness to adapt and welcome unprecedented levels of change on the part of all stakeholders involved, says the study.

6. South Korea

South Korea made a giant leap by grabbing the 6th rank, up from 19th position in 2007. Over the last two decades, the Republic of Korea has undergone a great change, with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and innovation becoming the power engine for its high economic growth. After facing a big financial crisis in 1997, Korea emerged into a powerhouse of knowledge through the consolidation of knowledge industries with the ICT industry itself contributing to more than 30 per cent of its total exports, the study states.

7. Switzerland

One of the world most beautiful places has also made it to the top innovative nations’ list. Switzerland is ranked 7th in the global innovative index. Innovation is the key driver of any economy. It works best when like-minded individuals come together in small collectives, irrespective of political and cultural differences and work on projects that yield value for all parties involved.

8. Denmark

While Denmark features among the top nations with an overall score of 5.73 along the different input pillars, it ranks relatively low at position 21st along the output pillars. This pulls the overall GII rank of Denmark down to 8th and raises questions as to why despite creating a highly conducive environment for innovation, it is not able to capitalize on it. The remarkable leadership and phenomenal development of the three Nordic countries of Finland, Denmark and Sweden have consistently done well in the development of institutions and policies that nurture innovation. Denmark tops the ICT and infrastructure pillar. Denmark also comes at top position in the 2008 Networked Readiness Rankings of the World Economic Forum.

9. Japan

The world’s industrial powerhouse Japan moved down to 9th position in 2008. It was ranked fourth in 2007. Ranked relatively lower along the input pillars (16th), Japan comes in at an impressive 3rd position along the output pillars. Clearly, Germany and Japan are able to leverage their less favorable innovation environments into more effective innovation results. The Japanese society is currently undergoing deep structural changes. Japan enjoys a competitive edge in business sophistication, innovation and R&D (research and development) spending. But its macroeconomic weaknesses have led to one of the highest debt levels in the world. People are also questioning the values of the political, economic and social institutions, and alternatives are being explored. This includes the fields of education, research and innovation as well. The government and the private sector give high priority to R&D spending.

10. Netherlands

The Netherlands with a prosperous economy is ranked 10th in the list. It is also the 16th largest economy in the world. A country’s readiness is linked to its ability to garner the best from leading-edge technologies, expanded human capacities, better organizational and operational capabilities and improved institutional performance, according to the study.


World’s top 10 consumers of oil

July 25, 2008

1. United States

The United States of America is the single largest consumer of oil. It uses as much as 20.73 million barrels per day.

2. China

A fast growing China is the world’s second largest user of oil. The world’s most populous nation uses 6.534 million barrels per day.

3. Japan

Japan is the third largest consumer of oil. The Asian nation consumes 5.578 million barrels per day.

4. Germany

Germany is the fourth biggest consumer of oil in the world. It uses 2.650 million barrels per day.

5. Russia

Russia is the fifth largest consumer of oil. It uses 2.500 million barrels per day.

6. India

India is the sixth largest consumer of oil. It burns up 2.450 million barrels per day.

7. Canada

Canada is the world’s seventh largest consumer of oil. It uses 2.294 million barrels per day.

8. South Korea

South Korea is the world’s eighth largest consumer of oil. It uses up 2.149 million barrels of oil per day.

9. Brazil

Brazil is the ninth largest user of oil. It guzzles 2.100 million barrels per day

10. France

France is the world’s tenth largest consumer of oil. It devours 1.970 million barrels per day.


World’s 10 best airports

April 26, 2008

According to Airports Council International’ ‘Best Airport Worldwide Quality Survey’ for 2007 the top spots went to three Asian airports — Seoul’s Incheon (serving 25-49 million passengers annually), Kuala Lumpur International Airport (15-25 million) and Singapore’s Changi Airport (25-49 million). Two other Asian airports, Central Japan (5-15 million) and Hong Kong (over 40 million), were picked as winners in the five annual-passenger traffic size categories. Other airports to feature in the list were Oporto in Portugal, Dallas Fort Worth in the US, Johannesburg in Africa, Guayaquil in Latin America & Caribbean, and Tel Aviv in the Middle East.

1. Incheon International Airport

Incheon International Airport, the ‘Winged City’, is located on reclaimed land approximately 32 miles from downtown Seoul, South Korea at a cost exceeding $5bn. The main passenger terminal is the largest in South Korea, measuring 496,000 square meter. It is 1,060m long, 149m wide and 33m high. Incheon Airport’s baggage handling system is designed to process 31,000 pieces of luggage an hour by using a centralized computer-controlled, automated tilt-tray system that sorts pieces of luggage with barcode readers. Arrival facilities include 120 immigration counters and 50 customs counters.

2. Kuala Lumpur International Airport

KL International Airport is surrounded by four main cities of Kuala Lumpur, Shah Alam, Seremban and Malacca. KL International Airport is close to Malaysia’s Administration Capital – Putrajaya. KLIA was voted as the World’s Best Airport for two consecutive years, in the 2005 (AETRA awards) and 2006 (ACI-ASQ awards). The airport is built on 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres – one of the world’s largest construction site) of agriculture land at a cost of about $3.5bn and commenced full commercial operations on June 28, 1998. From the air, the KLIA looks like a futuristic structure hidden in a remote jungle. Encircling the airport is a tropical forest.

KLIA boasts of the world’s tallest air-traffic control tower, the biggest column less hangar, biggest passenger lounge and the capacity for 25 million people a year. KLIA is the second airport in the world after Munich to have a special chamber to defuse explosives as part of its sophisticated fire-fighting systems.

3. Changi International Airport

Singapore Changi Airport is recognized as one of the best airports in the world. With 80 airlines serving more than 180 cities in over 50 countries, Changi Airport has established itself as a major aviation hub in the Asia Pacific region. Terminal 3 was built at a cost of S$1.75 billion and has an annual handling capacity of 22 million passengers, bringing Changi Airports total handling capacity (including Budget Terminal) to 70 million passengers per annum. In 2007, the airport handled a record 36,701,556 passengers, a 4.8 per cent increase over the 2006 fiscal year. This made it the 19th busiest airport in the world and the fifth busiest in Asia by passenger traffic in 2007.

The airport is one of the busiest cargo airports in the world, handling 1.89 million tons of cargo in 2007. With the impending arrival of the Airbus A380, the airport put into place modifications works costing S$60 million. These included the building of 19 gates capable of handling the large aircraft, eight of which are in Terminal 3. Baggage claim carousels, runways, and taxiways were expanded, and two new freighter aircraft stands and two remote aircraft parking stands were built. Two aircraft taxiway bridges spanning Airport Boulevard leading to the terminals also had shields installed on either side to shield the road from the jet blast.

On 11 November 2005, the airport became the first outside Europe to receive the A380 for airport compatibility verification tests, and was the first in the world to have an operational triple-passenger loading bridge fit for trials.

4. Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport is colloquially known as Chek Lap Kok Airport, since it was built on the island of Chek Lap Kok through land reclamation, and also to distinguish it from the old Kai Tak Airport. Terminal 1 of the HKIA is currently the second largest airport passenger terminal building of the world.

Terminal 2 of the Hong Kong International Airport, together with the Sky plaza, opened on February 28, 2007. Annual passenger and cargo throughput reached 47.8 million and 3.74 million tons in 2007, up 7.5 per cent and 4.5 per cent over 2006, respectively. As the world’s fifth busiest international passenger airport and most active worldwide air cargo operation, HKIA sees nearly 800 aircraft take off and land every day. Over 85 airlines operate at HKIA, linking Hong Kong with more than 150 locations round the world, including some 40 cities on the Chinese Mainland.

5. Central Japan International Airport

The Central Japan International Airport is located on a reclaimed island, approximately 2 kilometers offshore from Tokoname City, which is roughly 35 kilometers south of Nagoya. Thanks to its central location, visitors arriving at Centrair will find the rest of Japan easily accessible through the domestic air service network, the Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train), and the Tomei and Meishin Expressways. Planned as an international airport operating 24 hours a day, Centrair is the new gateway to all of Japan. In the passenger terminal building of Centrair, shops and restaurants surround the Center Plaza.

6. Ben Gurion International Airport

Ben Gurion International Airport is the largest and busiest international airport in Israel, with about 10.5 million passengers passing through it in 2007. The airport is near the city of Lod, 15 kilometers southeast of Tel Aviv. Ben Gurion Airport is the hub of El Al Israel Airlines, Israir Airlines, Arkia Israel Airlines, and Sun d’Or International Airlines. Ben Gurion International Airport started out in 1936 as Lydda Airport.

Ben Gurion Airport is considered one of the world’s most secure airports. The airport has been the target of several terrorist attacks, but no attempt to hijack a plane departing from Ben Gurion airport has succeeded. Terminal 3 is used for international flights, and Terminal 1 is used for domestic flights. The airport has three runways and is used by commercial, private, and military aircraft.

7. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

DFW International Airport is located halfway between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. DFW International is the world’s third busiest airport, offering nearly 1,900 flights per day and serving 60 million passengers a year. Voted ‘Best Airport in the Americas for Customer Service’ two years in a row by an Airports Council International survey of passengers, DFW provides nonstop service to 135 domestic and 38 international destinations.

The new international terminal (Terminal D) opened in July 2005. A new people mover system named Skylink, opened in spring of 2005 and is the world’s largest high-speed airport train system. Totally automated, Skylink trains run every few minutes and travel at speeds up to 35-37 mph. DFW is connected by shuttle bus to a commuter rail station just south of the airport. The Trinity Railway Express line serves both downtown Dallas and downtown Fort Worth. Dallas/FortWorth International Airport has five terminals. The airport is designed with expansion in mind, and can theoretically accommodate up to thirteen terminals totaling 260 gates!

8. Francisco SA Carneiro Airport

Francisco SA Carneiro Airport, also known as Oporto Airport, is the third-busiest airport in Portugal based on aircraft movements and also for passenger numbers (after Lisbon and Faro). The airport is situated 11km from the city of Porto. A new terminal building worth euro 108m opened in the fourth quarter of 2006. The new facility has increased the amount of space at the airport for check-in; there are two additional luggage carousels and more space for retail concessions and facilities such as coffee shops, bars and restaurants

9. OR Tambo International Airport

OR Tambo International Airport (formerly Johannesburg International) is the busiest airport on the continent – and the air transport hub of southern Africa. The airport caters for over 13 million passengers each year, and employs some 18 000 people. The airport was named the leading airport in Africa at the 2005 World Travel Awards, and won the Skytrax Best Airport in Africa award from 2002 to 2004 (coming second to Cape Town International in 2005).

The opening of a new, state-of-the-art domestic terminal in 2003 significantly expanded the airport’s capacity and facilities. The R450-million terminal development was accompanied by a R400-million upgrade of adjacent aprons and the road network feeding the airport.

10. Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport

Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport, Guayaquil, Ecuador was formerly called Simon Bolivar International Airport. The airport, which has the newest terminal in Ecuador, was renamed after Jose Joaquin de Olmedo, a notable Ecuadorian poet, in 2006. Buses and taxis connect the airport to Guayaquil’s city centre. Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport was named ‘Best Airport in Latin America’ by BussinessWeek Magazine.


What you MUST know about Inflation

March 31, 2008

“Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for the ten-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair.” — Sam Ewing.

“Inflation and credit expansion, the preferred methods of present day government openhandedness, do not add anything to the amount of resources available. They make some people more prosperous, but only to the extent that they make others poorer.” – Ludwig von Mises.

Everyone is facing the brunt of rising prices. Prices of all essential commodities are rising not just in India but across the world due to a fall in supply. Inflation has spiralled all over the world. With India importing food items, it is only adding more woes to the people.

The Indian economy is also facing a slowdown. The markets have also shed huge gains — March 25 was a sort on anomaly — taking a cue from global meltdown. Industrial production has slowed down, further decelerating the economy. There were risks from turbulence on global financial markets and from rising oil, metals, and wheat and rice prices worldwide. The rise in Inflation is a matter that causes worry to any government. When inflation is on the rise, all of us should be concerned.

What is inflation?

“Inflation is the most regressive form of taxation because it hits the poor the most.”-Narendra Jadhav, Vice Chancellor, University of Pune.

 Inflation is a rise in the prices of a specific set of goods or services. In either case, it is measured as the percentage rate of change of a price index. Food prices are soaring . . . all essential items like vegetables, oil, milk, sugar are getting costlier. Rentals and real estate rates have almost doubled in just a few months in most cities. The real estate prices are at record highs making life miserable, especially for people who have migrated to cities for jobs.

Why inflation hurts us badly

“Inflation is bringing us true democracy. For the first time in history, luxuries and necessities are selling at the same price.” — Robert Orben.

Inflation hits you badly as prices are rising. You end up spending more money for things that you could buy for les earlier.

What you could buy for $ 100, a few years ago, would now cost you nearly double. As a result, your savings will come down. As prices rise, the purchasing power of money goes down too. So to fight inflation, you must always invest money wisely. When you invest money, you must be careful about the return on your investment. The return on your investment must always be higher than the rate of inflation. You may have got a good pay hike, but were you able to save the extra cash? Well, if inflation is high, you end up spending more money so in effect the hike makes little sense. A high inflation rate negates the salary hike you have received.

Inflation reduces the purchasing power of your money. It hits retired folk and people with fixed incomes very badly. Inflation destabilizes the economy as consumers and investors change their spending habits. People tend to spend less when prices are up as a result production slows down resulting in job losses as well. Inflation also affects the distribution of income. Lenders and borrowers are also hit. Experts say a little inflation is good for the economy. It keeps the economy active as the prices of goods keep changing. In the short term, it encourages spending and borrowing and also encourages long term investments.

How inflation hits you

“The first panacea for a misguided nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.” — Ernest Hemingway.

Economists attribute inflation to a demand-pull theory. According to this, if there is a huge demand for products in all sectors, it results in a shortage of goods. Thus prices of commodities shoot up.

Another reason for inflation is the cost-push theory. It says that labor groups also trigger inflation. When wages for laborers’ are increased, producers raise the prices of products to make up for salary hike. The rising prices of food products, manufacturing products, and essential commodities push the inflation rate further.

Spiraling global crude oil prices have worsened the situation. Sometimes, banks create more liquidity by allowing more loans for people, giving them the purchasing power to buy more, as a result of which prices are driven up further. The demand-supply gap also drives inflation rates.

How is inflation calculated?

“Inflation is taxation without legislation.” Milton Friedman.

India uses the Wholesale Price Index to calculate and then decide the inflation rate in the economy. Most developed countries use the Consumer Price Index to calculate inflation. WPI is the index that is used to measure the change in the average price level of goods traded in wholesale market.

 In India, data on a total of 435 commodities’ prices is tracked through WPI which is an indicator of movement in prices of commodities in all trade and transactions.

CPI is a measure of a weighted average of prices of a specified set of goods and services purchased by consumers. It is a price index that tracks the prices of a specified basket of consumer goods and services, providing a measure of inflation.CPI are a fixed quantity price index and considered by some a cost of living index.

Many economists say that India must adopt CPI to calculate inflation as CPI measures the increase in price that a consumer will ultimately have to pay for. United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Canada, Singapore and China use CPI to measure inflation.

WPI does not measure the exact price rise consumers will experience because; it is calculated at the wholesale level.

Another issue with WPI is that more than 100 out of the 435 commodities included in the Index are no longer important for consumers. Even commodities like livestock feed are considered to measure the WPI. In India, inflation is calculated on a weekly basis.

Types of inflation

“Inflation is like sin; every government denounces it and every government practices it.” Frederick Leith-Ross .

 There are different types of inflation:  

 Deflation: It refers to a general falling level of prices. 

 Disinflation: This is a decrease in the rate of inflation.  

Hyperinflation: When prices zoom and inflation goes out-of-control, it is called hyperinflation. 

 Stagflation: It is a combination of inflation, rising unemployment and stagnation in the economy.  

Reflation: This refers to move to hike prices to fight deflationary pressures.