In 2016, instability in emerging markets is set to end six consecutive years of decline in global insolvencies, according to Euler Hermes, the worldwide leader in trade credit insurance. The Euler Hermes Economic Outlook 2015-16: The insolvency U-turn predicts that worldwide insolvencies will stabilise at 300,000 cases as 2015 marks the end of the post-crisis adjustment trend. This trend, which saw a healthy decline in insolvencies of -14% in 2014, continues into 2015 but loses momentum in line with the global economic slowdown. As a result, Euler Hermes estimates that its Global Insolvency Index will decrease by only -4% this year. Despite six consecutive years of decline, the positive trend was not robust enough to offset the sharp hike in bankruptcies recorded between 2007 and 2009, so the Global Insolvency Index remains higher by 3% than its pre-crisis average. “After a five year love story with the fastest-growing part of the world, time has come for a reality check,” says Ludovic Subran, Chief Economist at Euler Hermes. “Large current account deficits, a vulnerable private sector and a highly politicised reform agenda created a perfect storm for emerging markets. Capital outflows, volatility and credit risks are on the rise.” The divergence between advanced economies and emerging markets should continue to grow in 2016, creating a -1% decline in insolvencies in advanced economies compared to a +4% increase in emerging markets. Currently, a strong decrease in bankruptcies in the U.S. and Western Europe is offsetting turmoil in Asia and Latin American, but the outlook is increasingly cloudy for emerging markets. “Brazil, China, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa and Turkey – to name a few – have all been negatively affected by cheaper commodity prices, a looming Fed rate hike which is pressuring currencies and financing, and the overall slow growth mode. World GDP has been growing below 3% for the past five years. High corporate Debt levels, Disinflation . . .
Although the property market has seen an increase in activity over the last few years, economic conditions are still tough for many and the predicted interest rate hikes are likely to place further strain on homeowners around the country. “This year, those with high debt levels will be heavily affected as the interest rate increases and the cost of living continues along its upward trajectory. While for some, it may simply be a matter of readjusting certain behaviour to rectify their financial situation, others may find themselves in more dire circumstances further along the road,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “Due to the fact that many feel overly stressed and sometimes shameful about their financial distress, they are less likely to communicate about the topic and ask for help. However, it is vital that homeowners in financial trouble take immediate action and proceed with the necessary steps before the situation slips out of their control. It is a time to act decisively, take control of the situation and consult with people who can assist.” Goslett offers homeowners advice on how to handle this often complex situation: Evaluate your situation Homeowners need to be honest with themselves and look at their circumstance objectively when determining whether they can continue to pay their bond. Goslett says that if a homeowner can no longer afford their bond, they need to notify their lender as soon as possible. “Avoiding the situation and doing nothing is the worst possible decision a homeowner in distress can make. It is best to be upfront with the bank and tell them the situation, rather than defaulting on a payment without notification. If the situation is left to run its course, it will not only result in the homeowner losing their property, it will also lead to a tarnished credit record and black listing,” says Goslett. He adds that a blacklisting will leave the consumer unable to obtain any credit . . .
Are you sitting yourself to death? Sitting is the new smoking. Many office workers, in particular, are in danger of sitting themselves to death and should urgently kick this unhealthy habit. “A number of studies have indicated that there are a wide range of negative health implications to spending hours each day sitting, which hundreds of thousands of South Africans do in the workplace,” warns Dr Jacques Snyman, acting CEO of Agility Global Health Solutions (Africa). A landmark study published in the medical journal Lancet, as long ago as 1953, looked at about 31,000 men, aged 35 to 64, employed as bus, tram and trolleybus drivers in London, and their colleagues who were conductors, mechanics, or railway guards. The drivers, who had more sedentary jobs, were found to have higher rates of coronary heart disease. The UK’s National Health Service also warns that prolonged sitting is thought to slow metabolism, which affects the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, and break down body fat. “As technology has, and continues, to take over those tasks that used to be performed by muscle, millions of people worldwide find themselves sitting behind a desk, gazing at a computer screen,” Dr Snyman observes. “Many people mistakenly assume that going to gym for a few hours a week can counter the effects of sitting, however this does not seem to offset the risk.” Debbie Valentini, General Manager: Marketing and Communications, Loyalty and Rewards at Zurreal and Agility Corporate, Agility Africa’s wellbeing and rewards offering, says that one need not spend a lot of money to make this healthy change. “Before you take out a second mortgage to buy yourself a standing desk, test it out by going for a cheap option. All you need to do is put a box, or a small chest of drawers on top of your existing desk. You could also get creative with ordinary items around the office, such as a box of printer paper, to create your own standing desk.” “At . . .
Technology is disrupting the workplace with increasing speed and intensity. “As the world of work changes, school leavers are a facing a dilemma as to how best to prepare for success in their careers,” says Sandra Burmeister, CEO of Amrop Landelahni. “More specifically they are asking what fields of study they should consider.” Burmeister believes that a premium will continue to be placed on graduates skilled in technical subjects. “Automation and the digital revolution signal a move away from jobs that demand routine mental or physical activity to those that depend on human judgement,” she says. “Robotics will take over a lot of the mundane work currently being done. “This is already the case in several industries, such as car manufacture, where robots are taking over from people in automated assembly lines. “On another front, the landmark climate accord announced in Paris in December 2015 will spur industry to focus on renewable sources of energy. “There will be a huge demand for specialised skills in the fields of energy and water. These are issues of concern globally, and no less so in South Africa. Eskom continues to be under pressure, while water-scarcity in large parts of the country demands safeguarding and efficient management of water resources. “Energy and technology companies will focus their endeavours on making breakthroughs in areas from solar and wind power and electric cars to hydrology and environmental engineering. This will create a demand for highly-skilled individuals with the potential for embracing new technologies. “Adding to the demand for skills, is the fact that a large proportion of SA’s qualified technical and engineering professionals are aging out of the system. A cadre of South Africa’s highly skilled personnel – from electricians to civil engineers – are moving into retirement, bringing South Africa to what has been called a ‘skills cliff’. “These disruptive forces bring huge opportunities for today’s . . .
While Gartner in its ‘Top Ten Strategic Technology Trends for 2016’ says the year will be all about the Internet of Things and smart devices talking to each other, Prof Barry Dwolatzky, director of the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) says that he believes that while the hype continues around these areas including big data, cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the theme really should be the Internet of Everything. “I fully expect to see a level of maturity reached within these technologies with significant application during 2016. We should see some solid impact from big data and AI as a result of the hype over the past two years,” says Dwolatzky. The challenge, according to Dwolatzky, is figuring out how to use the information that all the devices and associated technology would produce: “While there are huge possibilities, the challenges are almost as big.” According to Gartner, by 2020, 25 billion devices will be generating data about almost every topic imaginable. This is equal parts opportunity and challenge. There will be a plethora of data, but making sense of it will be the trick. Those companies that harness the power of this tidal wave of information will leapfrog competitors in the process. “While South Africa does lag behind international markets adoption curves, I fully expect to realise some benefits in 2016. We should see results from AI and big data, in fact so much so, there should be real disruption that challenges traditional industries to either reinvent or shut their doors,” says Dwolatzky. In five or ten years we will be living in a different world he says, but in 2016, it should really be the Internet of Everything. “However, one thing that won’t change is that we will always need good quality software. While how we use it will change dramatically, the basic need for world class software that is handcrafted will always be relevant,” concludes Dwolatzky. Author: Kirsty Thompson from Watt Communications. More . . .
Isilumko Activate (powered by Studentwise), a market leader in the activations space, has been recognised for its commitment to meaningful transformation at the 13th National Business awards, where the company was presented with the Diversity in the Workplace Award. Recognised for “outstanding business achievement in bettering our people, planet and profits through excellence” Isilumko was the obvious choice for the award, often exceeding the criteria included in the assessments. Isilumko also achieved a highly commended certificate as the runner up in the Customer Focus Award, while parent company EOH Holdings received the 2015 National Business of the Year Award. Focused on facilitating creative, integrated one-on-one interactions between brands and consumers, Isilumko has always viewed BBBEE as an opportunity to make a positive contribution towards transformation of the activations industry and indeed the greater South African landscape. Evidence of its position on the matter, the company has a Level 2 BBBEE contributor status; with black ownership currently at 73.51% and black female ownership at 45.5%. Believing in real change, the company focusses its attention on more than just employment equity, investing in skills development, preferential procurement, enterprise development and socio-economic responsibility. Isilumko director Brendan Powell says that the group is understandably delighted with the recognition and honoured to have been acknowledged for the work it’s done in the area of diversity development. “This award doesn’t indicate that we have arrived and while an endorsement that we are on the right track, we will need to remain focused on making further improvements to our employment equity profile and skills development initiatives in the future, and ultimately making a difference in the development of South Africa.” Introduced in 2002, The National Business Awards recognise the success, innovation and ethics of South African . . .
Regardless of whether it is a buyer purchasing their first property or an experienced investor who is expanding their portfolio, buying a property is a large investment, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “Due to the fact that a property investment can have such a significant impact on a buyer’s financial well-being, it is imperative that they look past the aesthetic appeal of a home and focus rather on the integrity of the components that make up the property. While a home can be beautiful at first glance, there may be underlying elements that could end up costing the buyer a lot of money in the long run,” says Goslett. “While the seller is required to provide the buyer with a list of defects, it is still advisable for the buyer to be aware of certain aspects when viewing a property.” Goslett provides a few defects that buyers should keep an eye out for when looking at a home: Rotten wood Areas in the home such as bathrooms and kitchens are often exposed to moisture, which could cause the wooden elements in these areas to rot over time if not maintained. It is important that wood is treated and protected with a paint or finish that is specifically designed for this purpose. Exterior features such as decks or trims that are made from wood should also be checked as these will be exposed to the elements. Loose or dangerous railings While inspecting the exterior decks, it is vital to ensure that all the railings are fastened securely and that none are missing. This applies to any staircases or balconies as well – unstable or insecure railings can be very dangerous. Ventilation Adequate ventilation is essential to ensure that any moisture in the home can evaporate. Moisture that sits for extended periods of time can cause issues. Another important aspect to consider is the space between the roof and the ceiling. This area should be well ventilated to ensure the longevity of the roof. Weep holes and ventilation . . .
QuickPic embarked on creating the ultimate in simplified and accurate media monitoring solution for a Public Relation’s and Marketing team’s needs. The realm of media influence ensures that no brand can solely rely on the perception they have of their influence on today’s ultra-informed markets. And with an ever increasing focus on direct market influence, brands are becoming more aware of their impact through in-depth analysis of impact sentiments and influence. QuickPic prides itself on providing a specialised monitoring service catered uniquely to your brand. There is no one-size-fits-all methodology. Media’s entire spectrum of print, broadcast, social and online is meticulously covered and content is analysed through a second-tier human perspective, thus ensuring the accurate monitoring of relevant media. Quickpic understands your brand and delivers the content relevant to you within your desired search parameters. Reputation is included among the filter covered by human impact. The ongoing debate around AVE and Reach/Impact does create room for personal preference as QuickPic caters for both by using a combination of measurements. The QuickPic methodology is based on the universally accepted Barcelona Principles. Also, QuickPic based its AVE measuring on the actual calculation as editorial is perceived less impartial than advertising and relies less on AVE as QuickPic desires to be accountable and demonstrate value. This ensures for a rounded approach to accurately measuring relevant data. Meaningful insight into the brand’s media reputation is accomplished through measurement of human-analysed content which enables the understanding of brand perception. All this meaningful data intelligence is presented in a world-class automated and graphic report tailored around brand specific requirements. QuickPic provides the creation of LIVE brand specific tracking dashboards thus enabling public relations members to track leads, media influencers and . . .
In anticipation of the US Federal Reserve bank hiking its benchmark Fed Funds interest rate, the first rate hike in the US in almost a decade, the South African Reserve Bank took proactive action by hiking the interest rate by 25 basis points at the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting. This was an attempt to lessen the residue effect that the hike would have on the South African market. Some economists believe that the reaction of the US equity markets to the hike in the US interest rates will be one of the most crucial influences on South Africa’s financial markets this year. Fed Chair, Janet Yellen had prepared the financial markets for the rate hike by describing the contraction in the US GDP during the first quarter of the year as transitory. The rate was already expected to rise in September this year, however the rate increase was pushed back to the end of the year. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that the US has a major impact on the markets around the world, pointing to the sub-prime crisis as an example. “Often the monetary policies of the US Fed have a knock-on effect, with investors closely watching the US markets. While there are currently not that many US investors in South Africa when compared with some other emerging markets, the hike in rate is likely to increase investment interest in the US, with many choosing to take their money out of foreign countries and place it back into the US markets,” says Goslett. “Although year-to-date foreign investors have bought approximately R8.5 billion worth of SA bonds and around R22.9 billion in equities, data has shown that the percentage of non-resident owned SA government bonds has dropped to its lowest level in 18 months due to a loss of appetite ahead of the Fed’s expected interest rate hike. Now that the rate has been hiked this trend is likely to continue.” South Africa, along with other emerging-market economies will have to adopt measures that will . . .
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