Lessons in the "Economic" Category

The Stock Market Crash

Fear is what has been driving stock markets to recently crash. Why? Because of plunging oil prices and China’s falling economy. Saudi Arabia is determined to control the world’s oil prices so refuses to reduce its pumping in the hope of putting other types of energy companies out of business.

Oil prices have plunged from US$110 per barrel to a low of US$26.19 a barrel. This is destabilising for the world economy. It has caused stress in the credit market as oil is tied to many products.

Office Attire

Today, let’s talk about office attire. What should we wear in an office that is suitable? In today’s world there are several possible answers.

Men are normally expected to wear a suit, a shirt, a tie, and polished black shoes. Women should wear a blouse, a skirt and smart office shoes. However, office attire in some countries does vary, probably because of the climate.

If staff deal with customers and are front office they will usually need to wear a suit or company office uniform. If they are back office they might not need to wear a formal suit. This though will depend on company policy.

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.

New Suez Canal for Egypt

A new Suez Canal is being built in Egypt. It will run alongside the current Suez Canal. The idea is simple – by building a second canal it will allow the number of ships passing through to practically double, thus increasing trade. This will mean a lot more money coming into the Egyptian economy.

The idea is the brainchild of Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi who is hoping the new second canal will kickstart the country’s ailing economy. For the last few years it has been down on its knees; due to the Arab Spring happening and ultimately then falling flat on its face.

Emerging Markets Sell Off

Recently stock markets around the world took a tumble after investors dumped emerging market stocks. In this lesson we will look at what happened in the last week of January when investors yanked some US$3.3 billion; causing the largest outflow on record in dollar terms.

Emerging markets have been hit this year because of a slowdown in China, rising interest rates in the US, political turmoil in several countries around the world and overall concerns that emerging markets haven’t reformed fast enough to make growth substantial.

Category: Business / Emerging Markets / Funds

Last telegram sent: STOP

Recently the last telegram was sent in India. The country’s State-run telegraph service shut down in mid July following decades of decline. Telegrams have been replaced by text messages and emails. Most young people today have never seen a telegram!

In the old days telegrams brought happy and sad news to millions of Indians every year. A knock at the door could bring a sense of foreboding when one heard the word “telegram”.

Category: Communication / Telegram / India

Top 10 cars sold in April in UK & USA

Today let’s talk about cars. It’s a topic we all like to discuss with our friends - so why not in an English lesson? Car sales statistics for April 2012 have recently been published so I thought it a good idea to compare the UK and USA figures. The UK figures do, I believe, represent the number of vehicles registered in April rather than those actually sold.

Category: Cars / Car Sales / Top Ten

Pakistan floods: Millions homeless: More aid needed

The recent floods in Pakistan have caused utter devastation across many parts of the country. Millions of people are now homeless, many are now without jobs. The agricultural heartland of the country has been destroyed. The monsoon-triggered floods have hit a fifth of Pakistan. An estimated 20 million people are affected.

Experts say food, clean water and shelter is urgently needed to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Tens of thousands of villages remain under water. Aid agencies say the situation is actually worsening, as new flood waters continue to surge south down the Indus river. More flood defence systems are collapsing, forcing people to flee their homes. So far 1,500 have died in the floods. The threat of disease remains high.

The army has been dropping limited supplies in some areas but in many other areas there has been no assistance. There is a desperate need for international aid but so far this has been pitifully slow. The world does not seem to care about just how bad the situation on the ground actually is in Pakistan. But why? Is it the slow nature of the disaster relative to say an earthquake or tsunami? Maybe it’s because of the terrorist threat, the poor showing of the Pakistani politics or simply because it is just Pakistan?

Category: Asia / Pakistan / Floods

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

Russia begins to cut off gas to Belarus

Russia has begun to cut off gas supplies to its neighbour Belarus. On Monday it cut gas supplies by 15% amid claims Belarus owes ₤135m (US$200m) in unpaid bills. On Tuesday it cut the gas supply by another 15%. This follows Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s order on Monday to Russian gas monopoly Gazprom to cut supplies from Monday.

Russia has said the cuts will rise day by day to 85% if Belarus does not start paying off its debts, accrued when it failed to pay increased prices. This has raised fears in European countries in that deliveries to Europe might again be disrupted. Relations between Russia and Belarus have soured since they failed to agree on unified customs rules and Belarus gave refuge to ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Russia supplies a quarter of Europe’s gas needs. It uses Belarus, which borders European Union member Poland, as one of the key transit routes for oil and gas to the continent. Previous pricing disputes with Minsk led to oil supply cuts, with Poland, Lithuania and Germany being affected most. A similar standoff with Kiev halted Russian gas supplies across Ukraine for two weeks in January 2009. This left many Europeans without heating and fuel during a harsh winter.

Category: Energy / Belarus, Russia / Gas