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  • A Brief History of Trade – Part 2 - 5 August 2010
  • (Cont.from Part 1)Between the 8th and 11th century the Varangians and Vikings used their prowess at sea to dominate trade in the Scandinavian countries, as well Western Europe and Russia. Between the 13th and 17th centuries the Hanseatic League, also referred to as the Hansa, was an alliance of trading cities which monopolized trade along the coastlines of Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea and the Northern Sea, as well as inland at various points.

  • A Brief History of Trade – Part 1 - 29 July 2010
  • With the sophisticated methods of trading in the world today and stock exchanges handling billions of dollars on a daily basis, looking back at the challenges faced by early traders and the development of the modern commercial system can be quite fascinating. Trade is likely as old as mankind itself, with commodities and services being bartered long before different forms of currency were created. Some experts, including well respected historian Peter Watson, are of the opinion that commerce likely began around 150,000 years ago. Certainly, trade has featured prominently throughout recorded human history.

  • Farnborough International Airshow Points to Aviation Industry Recovery - 26 July 2010
  • The recent wave of mergers, and potential mergers, in the aviation industry have raised their fair share of criticism and analysis, with concerns over monopolies and raised fares being voiced, amid fears that the commercial aviation industry may be in trouble. However, the deals struck at the biennial Farnborough International Airshow, held on 19-25 July 2010 in Hampshire, England, indicate, not only recovery, but that there is huge potential for this market sector to keep growing. On Friday organizers announced that deals to the value of $47 billion took place during the well attended event, and while this is below the figure of $88.7 billion for 2008, when the event was last held, it is nevertheless seen as an encouraging indicator that the recession has not done quite as much damage to the aviation industry as many feared. This is especially heartening in the light of the fact that the Le Bourget/Paris Airshow, which alternates annually with Farnborough, only signed up a disappointing $7 billion worth of deals in 2009.

  • Uncertain Economic Outlook Depresses Market - 22 July 2010
  • With second quarter corporate results and forecasts offering up a mixed bag of optimism and pessimism, (or realism depending on who you talk to), the mid-week market reflected investor disappointment at Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's warning that the US economic outlook remains uncertain. Actually, his words were "unusually uncertain" which is seen by many as an indication that this has come as somewhat of a surprise even to the Fed. However, Bernanke offered reassurance that tightening up of policies will prevent the US economy from falling into recession again, and while maybe not at the pace hoped for, the economy is nevertheless strengthening. The tightening up of policies alluded to, include the Wall Street reform bill signed by President Barack Obama on Wednesday, which is being described as the most stringent set of financial rules and regulations since the Great Depression of 1929.

  • Q2 Results Dominate the Week Ahead - 19 July 2010
  • The upcoming week will see the trickle of second quarter results, and projected earnings, turn into a flood on Wall Street, which will no doubt have an impact on markets and investment decisions. More than a hundred of America's largest and most influential companies will release data during the week, providing a clearer picture of the state of the economy, as well as providing some insight into consumer activity. The reporting season started off reasonably well with relatively good results from Alcoa and Intel, but last week ended with Citigroup, Bank of America and General Electric dishing out a dose of disappointment to investors. Adding to investor concern at the end of the week was the July consumer sentiment index from the University of Michigan, which revealed consumer confidence to be at its lowest point in close to a year.

  • Fed Adopts Cautious Outlook on Pace of Economic Recovery - 15 July 2010
  • The minutes of the US Federal Reserve's meeting on June 23 were released on Wednesday, revealing that the Fed is being somewhat cautious, if not pessimistic, with regard to the pace of economic recovery. This resulted in markets finishing flat yesterday, despite the Obama administration's assurances that the $787 billion stimulus plan is working. As reported by the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) on Wednesday, around three million jobs have either been created or saved from redundancy. This figure measures up to the expectations of the CEA which was aiming to save 3.5 million jobs by the end of the year, as noted by CEA chairperson Christina Romer. The validity of this number has been openly questioned by economists and Congressional Republicans because it has not been confirmed with an actual headcount of workers who are currently employed as a direct result of stimulus funds. The general opinion is that the actual number is substantially lower than reported. This would be supported by the fact that, while the CEA predicted in January 2009 that the unemployment rate would remain at around 7 percent, the figure has been adjusted by the Obama administration to 9.8 percent for the end of 2010.

  • Wall Street Focus on Second Quarter Results - 12 July 2010
  • It appears that cautious optimism was the name of the game on Wall Street following the Independence Day weekend celebrations, resulting in the best week it has experienced in the past twelve months. Cautious optimism can also be used to describe the mood among investors as companies prepare to start reporting second quarter profits and losses, with Alcoa (Dow component, Fortune 500, NYSE:AA) starting the ball rolling today, Monday July 12. Other Dow components expected to report in the upcoming week include JP Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), General Electric (NYSE:GE), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

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