Global Glance: May 11, 2015
A quick look at intriguing international stories
By John Bostwick, Managing Editor, Radius
Introducing Global Glance
Radius’ blog readers have come to expect a new post every Wednesday. These Wednesday posts provide insight into important regulatory developments (such as recent changes to China’s visa requirements), international business advice (such as how to understand ongoing obligations when going into an M&A carve-out deal), and general information for those new to global expansion (such as how to avoid triggering agency permanent establishment).
Today, we’re introducing another regular weekly blog feature: Radius’ Global Glance. Each Monday morning, we’ll provide brief summaries of interesting and informative international stories from around the web. The summaries will keep you abreast of important international events and provide links so you can get all the details. Some stories will contain general information — such as a helpful guide published last week for non-Brits on the UK’s general election — and some will focus on more specific issues that may illuminate larger trends — such as a photo essay on lavish airplane suites that shows how some international business models rely on “V.I.P.” packages to increase margins.
In each case, we’ll present stories that are not only instructive, but entertaining. Our goal is to provide you with useful international information that’s actually fun to read, so you can start your workweek a little smarter and a little more energized. Happy reading!
UK General Election: A Primer and an Interview with an Oddsmaker
UK voters went to the polls last Thursday to elect their local members of parliament. If you live outside the UK and feel you could use a refresher course on its system of parliamentary democracy, check out this primer published last week by The Guardian: “A guide to the British general election for non-Brits.” It details general points such as how the prime minister is chosen (not by the wider electorate) and what constitutes a hung parliament. It also covers some more topical areas such as why the recently ascendant Scottish National Party is likely to have “a lot of power going into the election and beyond,” and why some feel that the “Lib Dems” have sold out.
For more information on the UK general election, check out the coverage in Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog. Among other pieces, you’ll find an interview from last week with a representative for the London-based betting company Ladbrokes PLC, which accepts wagers on UK elections. Interestingly, Ladbrokes doesn’t adjust odds to ensure a more or less equal amount of money is collected from each side. Rather, the company “looks for inefficiencies in the market — overly enthusiastic backers of a party or candidate, say — and tries to cash in.” After having been in sports books in Las Vegas — when it sometimes seems as if every person in the room is rooting for the same outcome to the same game — I suspect US oddsmakers follow similar practices.
Photo Essay: Singapore Airlines’ $18,000 Luxury Suites
Last Sunday I was put in mind of a 2010 New York Times article on V.I.P. packages offered to well-heeled rock and roll fans. These packages include not only designated premium seating, but often meals, swag and access to the artists. A single package can run upwards of $1,000. As one promoter remarked of the V.I.P. programs, “On a hot act you can make as much money from 10 percent of the house as the other 90.”
Singapore Airlines’ Suites Class service may produce similar financial results for that company. On Sunday, Business Insider republished a fascinating photo essay by a travel blogger who redeemed his miles to book one of the lavish suites. Without the miles, the single round-trip ticket would have cost him over $18,000.
Investors and Business Elite Poised to Profit from India's Fast Changing Business Climate
Speaking of The New York Times, last week the paper reported that prominent investors from around the globe are turning to India and its burgeoning electronic commerce market. Investors are eager to capitalize on India’s growing middle class, and see parallels between India’s current situation and the situation of another prominent economic player not so long ago. The article explains: “India resembles China of seven to 10 years ago in its broadband internet growth, creation of digital-native marketplaces and rapid user adoption.” India already boasts 300 million internet users, second only to China. Amazingly, “five million users are added each month” to India’s total.
British Embassy in Dubai Launches Social Media Campaign to Warn Expats
In case anyone needed a reminder about the importance of expatriates knowing and following local immigration laws, the British Embassy in Dubai launched a social media campaign last week called “Checking Out.” The campaign was aimed at UAE-based Brits planning to leave the country permanently, warning that “unpaid debts and contracts left unfulfilled could land expatriates in prison.” The UAE exit process includes canceling bank accounts and credit cards, and paying off all utilities. One Briton interviewed said that preparing to leave the UAE “took a solid six months.” In this area — as in virtually any area of international expansion and operations — careful research and advance planning are critical.