The Chinese Economy Will Turn Around

The Chinese economy has had an incredibly difficult year. Between the dramatic sell-off in the Shanghai stock exchange and their weakening GDP numbers, it has just been a constant flow of bad news from China. There has also been some negative statistics that are fueling concerns that China’s legendary success of pushing over 300 million people out of poverty over the last 30 years is coming to an end.

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Besides economic troubles, China has also been facing pollution and other environmental challenges. A World Bank Study actually states that only 1 percent of China’s 560 million city dwellers breathe safe air. There is also a looming property bubble and the fact that their country de-prioritizes democratic principles, but let’s keep the focus of this to economics.

By some estimates, China’s GDP growth rates are hovering below the minimum 7 percent per annum that is required to double per capital incomes in one generation. However, there are factors that suggest a rebound is about to occur. Public policymakers are planning to further cut interest rates, encourage bank lending by reducing the reserve requirement and increase public investment.

China is managing the three main drivers of growth – capital, labor and productivity in a way that supports long-term prospects. The relaxing of the one child policy back in October was quite a surprise. It was originally introduced in 1979 to slow the population growth rate – it is estimated to have prevented around 400 million births. Now, 90 million couples are eligible to have two children.

The country also has plans to increase the number of cities with a population of 1 million from around 10 today to 221, as well as the cities with 10 million people from 5 to 8 by 2025. A more urban population is the key piece of their strategy to move from an investment led, export based economy toward a consumption based urbanized growth. This will help the Chinese avoid a middle-income trap.

A lot is at stake. Over the past few decades, China has become a major and main trading partner and source of foreign direct investment for developed and developing countries. They are the largest foreign lender to the U.S. government and the biggest source of foreign direct investment to Australia, as well as the largest trading partner and source of infrastructure for emerging countries such as Brazil and South Africa.

Needless to say, China has an enormous vested interest in avoiding an economic slump.

The Technology that Will Make 2016 a Transformative Year

The technology of 2015 went beyond larger screens and app updates. There has been a broad range of technologies invented from cool science projects to objects that can transform peoples lives. Some are saying that we haven’t seen anything of this since the invention of the printing press in the 1400s. Let’s take a look at the three new technologies that will transform our lives as we know it.

A technology that became mainstream this year was the CRISPR gene modification. These are elements of an ancient system that protect bacteria and other single-celled organisms from viruses, acquiring immunity to them by incorporating genetic elements from the virus invaders. With them, DNA can be edited. That means that we can remove unwanted sequences or insert payload sequences, costing as little as $100. CRISPR modification can correct DNA that is responsible for genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia and Alzheimer’s.

imagesSince the cost of drone dropped to $100, the drone age has officially begun. It was estimated that Americans would purchase almost half a million of these flying machines over the holiday season this year. We will see them everywhere; and as the technology advances, they will be able to carry heavier weights and travel greater distances. Who knows, by next year Amazon and Walmart could be delivering your groceries or Starbucks to your home via drone. Not only making our lives easier, but they will monitor traffic and crime, perform building inspects and provide emergency assistance in disasters.

Bitcoin, the unregulated and uncontrolled digital currency has caused a lot of controversy. It gained notoriety by criminals and hackers, then falling from its peak of $1100 to $250. Now it is gaining acceptance by retailers like Overstock.com. Aside from this, the technology that underlies it – blockchain has become the basis of hundreds of technology-development efforts. You see, blockchain isn’t just for finance. It can digitize anything like birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, deeds and titles of ownership, medical records, votes, etc. It could transform the lives of billions of people who lack bank accounts and access to legal infrastructure that we take for download (5)granted.

There has most definitely been great progress in data of the Internet and connecting doctors to patients as well. What else do you see disrupting our world in 2016?

It’s Just the Beginning for LGBT Rights

2015 will go down in history as the turning point in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT rights movement. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges guaranteed every American the right to marry whoever they love. The last remnants of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy were banished – in 2016, transgender personnel can serve openly in the military alongside gay colleagues.download (1)

There is still a critical zone where LGBT individuals face hurdles – employment. In 28 or 50 states, it is still legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation and in 31 states, it is legal to fire a transgender employee.

In 2016, the lack of protections will become a major focus. Companies like Eli Lilly realize that the fight for LGBT rights will have serious impact on talent and consumers. Janice Chavers, a spokesperson for Eli Lilly responded to Indiana’s passing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which expanded the right for people to secure religious exemptions from state and local laws by saying, “This legislation is bad for Indiana and business…We search for top talent al over the world, and many of those individuals won’t want to come to a state with laws that discriminate. In studies, over 70 percent of job seekers evaluate companies based on their LGBT-friendly benefits.

There are also public rankings like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index that people have easy access to. 78 percent of LGBT consumers and their friends would switch from the normal brands they buy to support LGBT-friendly companies. That means that unsupportive companies and states are losing out of $884 billion in the U.S. alone.

Become a role model- institute protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Guess what? 89 percent of Fortune 500 companies already prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, other companies can still do more like call on senior leaders to role model inclusive behaviors and enforce these policies in the workplaces.

Also, why not flex some corporate muscle? Show your influence on the political culture outside of your walls. The pressures in Indiana and Arkansas were successful in pushing through revisions to their RFRA bills that prevent LGBT discrimination.

Multinational companies are on this issue too. In 2016, the new HRB criteria for pro-LGBT multinationals will include a global anti-discrimination policy rather than just country-specific protections.

What Will We See in 2016?

Despite events like ISIS and Donald Trump running for President of the United States, there are some things that should give us greater hope for 2016.

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Entrepreneurship

Corporations can’t seem to keep up with modern technologies and progressive thinking. Hierarchies based on egos rather than leadership and skill are putting extra weight on the employees that get over 100 emails a day, face a long commute and then are surrounded in a negative environment and overworked from lack of support from management.

If they aren’t laid off, they are quitting to give up on the corporate lifestyle. Individuals are looking inside themselves and building up their self-esteem to make it on their own. This self-empowerment is replacing corporate dependency. Sure, some will return to the trenches, but others will not give up until they succeed.

Cooperation

Start-up communities are popping up everyone. People are realizing that there is power in cooperation – sharing and joint venturing. Like-minded business owners are putting their resources together to buy supplies, give each other mutual support and apply for large contracts. Entrepreneurship is no longer a lonely journey. You can see people across industries combining forces to threaten established corporations. Where is this mostly happening? Online.

Well-being

As we watch the baby boomers encounter health problems, we are more determined to buy the fitness gear and hit the gym. People are especially taking to exercise their mental health by seeking peace and reducing stress. Yoga, meditation and spirituality are for more than just hippies now. Having a balance between work and personal life is more important now. People no longer want to prove themselves by excessive work; they want to prove themselves by stability.

Help

If a company isn’t giving to those in need or helping to save the planet, their customers are leaving. Thanks to the Internet, consumers are more aware of corporation’s practices including how they make their products and how they treat their employees. If there is any sign of disrespect to people or the environment, then expect to see a loss of sales.

Society doesn’t want to watch our world fall apart. Activism is increasing as we realize how wars and poverty even far away affect our daily lives. The scope of the world is changing – we see the impact and we want to be a part of it.

Minimalism

Consumerism is still going strong, but there is a new movement against excessive materialism. Less is more – in all ways possible. A more simple and slower life is now what we desire. We are cutting back, downsizing and reserving more time for self-reflection. We will try to spend more time with friends and family and less time worrying. No, in 2016 the important things will not fall off the radar.

Marketing in 2016

There are rumors that another Google Algorithm update will occur before the end of the year. This kind o
f update always creates tension for the online marketing community.
They want to know what type of changes to expect so that they can understand how their site will be impacted. These updates have to be taken seriously because they can cause a lot of trouble like broken links caused by being part of an unauthorized link building program, maybe lack of updating and too much reliance on a domain’s name.

Each time that this happens, it is important to focus on linking your company brand name with its location and services you perform. Make sure that all five of these things appear.

  1. Company name and location- continued focus on brand name recognition
  2. Location – locally, regionally and nationally
  3. Product(s) / Service(s) descriptiondownload (4)
  4. Name(s) of company representative, stressing client service
  5. Value Content – blog, content marketing, reports
  6. Marketing Channel – where to invest time in delivering the company message

This list should look very familiar to you. Yes, we work on building our reputation through SEO and content marketing, but there is another side. The part that I feel the need to stress on is mobile.

Mobile Apps

Many companies think that apps are a long-term strategy, but for now we are still in the erly stages. This audience will definitely grow, but we are still missing almost three-quarters of the population – it is just too early in the game.

Strong Brand Recognition

It is now more important than ever to link all six of the above listed items together. If you leave one thing out, your audience will now see the overall value. More emphasis needs to be made to connect all of these things together. That means that you may need to provide more information to emphasize points like price and personnel.

Valuable Content

The definition of content has drastically changed. It is more than just knowledge information. Now, content requires more information such as specific reports and video presentations. It is critical for companies to look at the content production process from a news media standpoint to product higher quality content and delivery.

The Right Mix of Channels

Where are people going for their information? There is a huge disruption right now with Internet and technology. Now, companies need to find the right channels within the two to make them succeed.