Global Pensions Asset Study – 2014
Source: Towers Watson
This is a study of the 13 largest pension markets in the world and accounts for more than 85% of global pension assets. The countries included are Australia, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK and the US. The study also analyses seven countries in greater depth by excluding the six smallest markets (Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Hong Kong and South Africa).
The analysis includes:
- Asset size, including growth statistics, comparison of asset size with GDP and liabilities
- Asset allocation
- Defined benefit and defined contribution share of pension assets
- Public and private sector share of pension assets.
Statistical Signs of Social Influence on Suicides
Certain currents in sociology consider society as being composed of autonomous individuals with independent psychologies. Others, however, deem our actions as strongly influenced by the accepted standards of social behavior. The later view was central to the positivist conception of society when in 1887 \’Emile Durkheim published his monograph Suicide (Durkheim, 1897). By treating the suicide as a social fact, Durkheim envisaged that suicide rates should be determined by the connections (or the lack of them) between people and society. Under the same framework, Durkheim considered that crime is bound up with the fundamental conditions of all social life and serves a social function. In this sense, and regardless of its extremely deviant nature, crime events are somehow capable to release certain social tensions and so have a purging effect in society. The social effect on the occurrence of homicides has been previously substantiated (Bettencourt et al., 2007; Alves et al., 2013), and confirmed here, in terms of a superlinear scaling relation: by doubling the population of a Brazilian city results in an average increment of 135 % in the number of homicides, rather than the expected isometric increase of 100 %, as found, for example, for the mortality due to car crashes. Here we present statistical signs of the social influence on the suicide occurrence in cities. Differently from homicides (superlinear) and fatal events in car crashes (isometric), we find sublinear scaling behavior between the number of suicides and city population, with allometric power-law exponents, β=0.836±0.009 and 0.870±0.002, for all cities in Brazil and US, respectively. The fact that the frequency of suicides is disproportionately small for larger cities reveals a surprisingly beneficial aspect of living and interacting in larger and more complex social networks.
Status of the WTO Brazil-U.S. Cotton Case (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Library)
The so-called “Brazil cotton case” is a long-running World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement case (DS267) initiated by Brazil—a major cotton export competitor—in 2002 against specific provisions of the U.S. cotton program. In September 2004, a WTO dispute settlement panel ruled that (1) certain U.S. agricultural support payments for cotton distorted international agricultural markets and should be either withdrawn or modified to end the market distortions; and (2) U.S. Step-2 payments and agricultural export credit guarantees for cotton and other unscheduled commodities were prohibited under WTO rules and should be withdrawn.
Brazilian economy is expanding again but long-term challenges remain, says OECD
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Brazil has moved up the ranks of the world’s largest economies while making economic growth ever more inclusive. Renewed economic dynamism will allow it to continue converging with more advanced economies and ensuring that disadvantaged groups share in the benefits of future growth, according to the OECD’s latest Economic Survey of Brazil.
Country Analysis Brief: Brazil
Source: Energy Information Administration
The latest complete EIA statistics for all countries (2010) indicate Brazil is the 8th largest energy consumer in the world and the third largest in the Americas, behind the United States and Canada. Total primary energy consumption in Brazil has increased by more than one third in the past decade because of sustained economic growth. EIA 2010 statistics show Brazil is the 10th largest energy producer in the world. In addition, Brazil has made great strides in increasing its total energy production, particularly oil and ethanol. Increasing domestic oil production has been a long-term goal of the Brazilian government, and recent discoveries of large offshore, pre-salt oil deposits could transform Brazil into one of the largest oil producers in the world.
Total Brazilian energy consumption grew to 11.7 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2011. The largest share of Brazil’s total energy consumption comes from oil and other liquid fuels (47%), followed by hydroelectricity (35%) and natural gas (8%). Additionally, Brazil is consuming increasing amounts of biomass in both the residential and industrial sectors.
Just Published: Law Library of Congress Report on Guest Worker Programs
Source: Law Library of Congress
A report titled Guest Worker Programs was recently added to the list of reports posted on the Law Library of Congress website under “Current Legal Topics” where you can also find a range of other comparative law reports on various topics.
The Guest Worker Programs report is based on a study conducted by staff of the Global Legal Research Center (GLRC). The report describes programs for the admission and employment of guest workers in fourteen selected countries:
- the Russian Federation,
- South Korea,
- the United Arab Emirates, and
- the United Kingdom.
It also provides information on the European Union’s Proposal for a Directive on Seasonal Employment, the Association Agreement between the European Union and Turkey regarding migrants of Turkish origin, and the Multilateral Framework of the International Labour Organization on the admission of guest workers. The complete report is also available in PDF.
The report includes a comparative analysis and individual chapters on each country, the EU, and relevant international arrangements. It provides a general overview of a variety of immigration systems, and addresses issues such as eligibility criteria for the admission of guest workers and their families, guest workers’ recruitment and sponsorship, and visa requirements. The report further discusses the tying of temporary workers to their employers in some countries; the duration and the conditions that apply to switching employers; the terms, including the renewability, of guest workers’ visas; and the availability of a path to permanent status.
Brazil’s Changing Religious Landscape: Roman Catholics in Decline, Protestants on the Rise
Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Since the Portuguese colonized Brazil in the 16th century, it has been overwhelmingly Catholic. And today Brazil has more Roman Catholics than any other country in the world – an estimated 123 million. But the share of Brazil’s overall population that identifies as Catholic has been dropping steadily in recent decades, while the percentage of Brazilians who belong to Protestant churches has been rising. Smaller but steadily increasing shares of Brazilians also identify with other religions or with no religion at all, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Brazilian census data.
Source: PriceWaterhouse Coopers
The 2012 global multichannel retail consumer survey was completed by more than 11,000 respondents from 11 different countries. For PwC, this is our most comprehensive research to date on multichannel retailing. In order to truly understand the trends and spot the patterns in multichannel shopping, we surveyed only those consumers who self-identified as online shoppers.
The 11 countries covered in the survey were:
- United Kingdom
- United States
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
A handful of developing countries are becoming major players in the global economy due, in part, to their large populations, rising trade flows, and rapidly growing economies. These evolving economies are likely to be of increasing interest to the 113th Congress. Led by China, these rising economic powers (REPs) include Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey. Based on purchasing power parity estimates, China, India, Brazil, and Russia are now among the 10 largest economies in the world and Mexico (#11), Indonesia (#15) and Turkey (#16) are not far behind. With large economies and rising shares of world trade flows, the REPs have greater involvement in World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations and dispute settlement cases, have protested with greater frequency U.S. economic and trade policies, and are more able and willing to deflect or reject U.S. trade and market access demands.
Although they have made great economic strides, any of these REPs could stumble if they do not take steps to improve their business climates by undertaking a range of trade, regulatory, and structural reforms. At the same time, other large developing countries that have enormous economic potential, such as Egypt, Iran, Nigeria, and Vietnam could rise if they successfully address underlying political and economic challenges.
U.S. exports to the REPs and other developing countries have become an increasingly important source of growth for the U.S. economy. If the United States is to maximize its export potential and boost its living standards, U.S. exporters and investors may need to have better access to the REP markets. Trade and investment barriers remain considerably higher in most of the REPs than in the United States and other advanced countries. Efforts have stalled in these countries to reduce their barriers further, and several REPs have reactivated industrial policies or found ways to take advantage of gaps in the world trade rules to promote home companies at the expense of foreign companies.
The United States’ ability to persuade these emerging economic powers to embrace the principles of free and fair trade is constrained by growing differences over the role of the state in economic activity. The more interventionist practices and philosophies of REP governments coincide with a desire to maintain “policy space” to promote development of their economies via policies that often appear to violate the letter or spirit of WTO rules and obligations. Persuading the REPs that a strengthened multilateral trading system is squarely in their national economic interests and a way to move their domestic economic reforms forward remains a challenge.
As global power and prosperity is reconfigured, U.S. trade policymakers face a number of overlapping and complex issues relating to the role of future trade liberalizing negotiations, U.S. leverage in influencing REP economic reforms, and the management of the global trading system. Given the checkered history of the Doha Round, future progress on trade liberalization within the WTO may require new approaches. Principles that have guided multilateral trade negotiations in the past, such as unconditional most-favored-nation (MFN) and special and differential treatment (S&D), may need to be reexamined. Similarly, if the United States wishes to negotiate free trade agreements (FTAs) with large and more significant trading partners, it may need to consider deviations from its standard FTA template. At the same time, ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and a potential comprehensive U.S. FTA with the European Union (EU) could serve as incentives for the REPs to view multilateral or bilateral negotiations more favorably.
Current Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke Exposure Among Women of Reproductive Age — 14 Countries, 2008–2010
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)
Tobacco use and secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in reproductive-aged women can cause adverse reproductive health outcomes, such as pregnancy complications, fetal growth restriction, preterm delivery, stillbirths, and infant death (1–3). Data on tobacco use and SHS exposure among reproductive-aged women in low- and middle-income countries are scarce. To examine current tobacco use and SHS exposure in women aged 15–49 years, data were analyzed from the 2008–2010 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) from 14 low- and middle-income countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Vietnam. The results of this analysis indicated that, among reproductive-aged women, current tobacco smoking ranged from 0.4% in Egypt to 30.8% in Russia, current smokeless tobacco use was <1% in most countries, but common in Bangladesh (20.1%) and India (14.9%), and SHS exposure at home was common in all countries, ranging from 17.8% in Mexico to 72.3% in Vietnam. High tobacco smoking prevalence in some countries suggests that strategies promoting cessation should be a priority, whereas low prevalence in other countries suggests that strategies should focus on preventing smoking initiation. Promoting cessation and preventing initiation among both men and women would help to reduce the exposure of reproductive-aged women to SHS.
Adult Awareness of Tobacco Advertising, Promotion, and Sponsorship — 14 Countries
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)
According to the 2012 Report of the U.S. Surgeon General, exposure to tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship (TAPS) is associated with the initiation and continuation of smoking among young persons. The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires countries to prohibit all forms of TAPS (2); the United States signed the agreement in 2004, but the action has not yet been ratified. Many countries have adopted partial bans covering direct advertising in traditional media channels; however, few countries have adopted comprehensive bans on all types of direct and indirect marketing. To assess progress toward elimination of TAPS and the level of awareness of TAPS among persons aged ≥15 years, CDC used data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) collected in 14 countries during 2008–2010. Awareness of any TAPS ranged from 12.4% in Turkey to 70.4% in the Philippines. In the four countries where awareness of TAPs was ≤15%, three of the countries had comprehensive bans covering all nine channels assessed by GATS, and the fourth country banned seven of the nine channels. In 12 countries, more persons were aware of advertising in stores than advertising via any other channel. Reducing exposure to TAPS is important to prevent initiation of tobacco use by youths and young adults and to help smokers quit.