Lessons in the "Business" Category

A lesson on Fracking

Today let’s talk about fracking. It’s a subject that is constantly in the news. However, what is fracking? Well, fracking or hydraulic fracturing is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release the natural gas inside.

The process involves using a lot of water that at the fracking site is mixed with up to 600 different chemicals; including lead, uranium, and mercury. The fracking fluid is then pressure injected into the ground through a drilled pipe. When this mixture reaches the end of the well it causes the nearby shale rock to crack, creating fissures where natural gas flows into the well.

Mobile phone banking revolution in Central Europe

In the Central European country of Slovakia, a mobile phone banking revolution is taking place. Thousands of people are now regularly making payments using their mobile phone. It’s all down to new technology that several Slovakian banks have introduced.

The system being used in Slovakia is called Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. This offers users a user-friendly solution to the mobile payment hang-up, but it requires coordination between banks and mobile operators, as well as infrastructure in shops. Slovakia is considered the European leader in adopting innovative solutions.

Category: Economic / Banks / Business

Economic impact of E. coli on the agricultural industry

‘Fear’ is what is stopping the sales of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables right across Europe following the recent E. coli scare in Germany. The result has had a devastating impact on the livelihoods of farmers across Europe, especially those in Spain. Tens of thousands of tons of fruit and vegetables have had to be destroyed, especially cucumbers, as it was originally thought the E. coli outbreak originated from Spanish cucumbers.

The economic impact has seen a meltdown in the Spanish agricultural industry. Most of the harvest has had to be destroyed or simply ploughed back into the soil. Tests have been ongoing in Germany to establish exactly where and from what the deadly outbreak of E. coli started. The result was that people suddenly stopped buying Spanish vegetables, especially cucumbers. Spanish farmers have demonstrated, demanding compensation from the EU.

Category: Economic / Business / Agriculture

Rare earth metals shortage

Look at your mobile phone, Blackberry or low energy light bulb. Now ask yourself what is inside it? Yes, it is made with different components. The technology is great. But what are the components made with?

The chances are some of them are made with rare earth metals. Where do these rare earth metals come from? The answer is probably China. Certainly 95% of the world’s rare earth metals are currently mined there. So why should you worry about it?

Simple, if China stops the exports of these rare earth metals then your mobile phone can’t be built, as it needs certain components made with these rare earth metals to build a part of it. As it goes, China has decided to slash exports of these rare earth metals that have left the West scrabbling for alternative sources.

Category: Technology / Economic / Business

Should Britain leave the EU?

Should Britain leave the EU? Britain’s Daily Express newspaper thinks so. It recently explained why and hopefully it now makes an interesting theme to discuss. The British newspaper demanded ‘our country’ back from the EU! They called it ‘a crusade for freedom’. They wish to see Britain break free from the ‘EU dictatorship’.

Certainly many in Europe and beyond now jokingly call the EU the ‘E.U.S.S.R.’. This point definitely rings alarm bells in Eastern European countries, who clearly remember the U.S.S.R. and communism, and whose citizens now see the EU for what it really is.

Is the EU a Big Brother state like the U.S.S.R. once was? The Daily Express states those behind the EU have been intent on one goal: the creation of a single political and economic European state with absolute sovereignty over the nations under its control

Category: Europe / EU / Economic & Business

Is Africa a new Chinese colony?

Less than one hundred years ago Africa was still being colonised by the western imperial powers. Large parts had still yet to be discovered. The British Empire was nearing its peak with red covering many countries on the new map of the African continent. France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Belgium all had colonies there. Yet today where are they all?

Having kicked out their imperial western masters and gained their independence today’s African leaders have turned their backs on the west. Instead they have set their eyes firmly towards the east. China has emerged as the new Asian tiger – or should that be dragon. Hungry for raw materials, land and energy China has for a number of years now been quietly doing massive amounts of new business all over the African continent.

Thousands and thousands of Chinese have been relocated to Africa to organise and deliver many precious raw materials. China desperately needs them due to its own shortage of raw materials. Over the last decade a staggering 750,000 Chinese have resettled in Africa. Many more are coming. Africa is rapidly becoming a new Chinese colony or satellite state.

Russia burns: Moscow under smog: Grain export ban

The heat wave that has gripped Russia this summer continues. As a result devastating fires continue to burn continuously right across Central Russia. The fires have caused havoc. There has been no rain for months. In parts, the land resembled the results of implementing a ‘scorched earth policy’. Thousands of people have lost their homes in 14 regions of Russia over the past few days. Up to 2,000 homes have been destroyed in the blazes.

Category: Russia / Moscow / Devastating Fires

Zimbabwe ‘blood diamond’ trade talks collapse

Should Zimbabwe be allowed to resume diamond sales? That’s the question delegates from 70 countries at talks in Israel recently had to decide. The organisation that controls the international diamond trade failed to find an answer after allegations of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe’s mines.

Members of the watchdog, known as ‘the Kimberley Process’, said discussions had been ‘clouded’ by the arrest and imprisonment of a human rights activist. Farai Maguwu had alleged that forced labour, rape, torture and harassment were being used to develop Zimbabwe’s new lucrative Marange diamond mines.

Zimbabwe’s ability to export Kimberley certified diamonds – ‘the Kimberley Process’ - was suspended after the army seized control of Marange, allegedly massacring up to 200 miners two years ago. The country has accused the west of trying to hold back its economic development.

The diamonds from the Marange field could see the country become one of the world’s top six exporters of diamonds and generate US$1.7bn a year. But human rights groups want Zimbabwe to remain banned from selling “blood diamonds” - those which are used to fuel a conflict.

Category: Zimbabwe / Blood Damonds / Kimberley Process

British oil dispute with Argentina deepens

A new dispute is escalating in the South Atlantic between Argentina and Britain over the disputed Falkland Islands. This time, it is about black gold – oil. So far, it is only a diplomatic war of words between the two countries. The trigger for the latest bout of words was a ship called Thor Leader. Its cargo was pipes bound for the Falkland Islands where an oil drilling platform is about to start drilling for oil.

Argentina has accused Britain of illegally promoting drilling operations. Geologists have estimated there could be up to 60 billion barrels of high grade oil in the 200 square mile seabed zone surrounding the Falkland’s. That could make the Falklands one of the world’s largest oil reserves, comparable with the North Sea, which so far has produced about 40 billion barrels of oil.

Sky Europe finally goes bankrupt

Ailing low cost Central European airline SkyEurope has finally gone bankrupt. After struggling for months it finally admitted defeat at the beginning of September. The airline that existed for 7 years has had ongoing financial problems. It is yet another casualty of the economic recession that has seen other low cost carriers recently slash routes and jobs.

The collapse left thousands of passengers stranded abroad. The airline that flew across Europe from its hub bases in Prague, Bratislava and Vienna ceased trading after airports banned SkyEurope planes over non-payment of debts at the beginning of September.

Having been banned from Vienna Airport in August the airline shifted its flights to nearby Bratislava in Slovakia. It faced a similar ban at Prague airport unless regular payments were made. A day later Slovakia revoked its operating licence as a result of the bankruptcy. Previously SkyEurope had had planes impounded in Paris and Bulgaria over non payment of airport fees...