Tag Archives: Korea

Hope for the Best and Plan for the Worst in 2018

Courtesy of Iecs.

The world economy has been booming.  Bloomberg says the world economy is approaching its best year since 2011.

On the other hand, there are always things that can go wrong. Here are a few possible events that could put the brakes on continued, unencumbered growth.


Though all-out war seems unlikely, other tension can exert serious negative pressure on world economy, mostly because South Korea makes up 2% of the entire world’s gross domestic product.


Rapidly rising debt and slow economic growth forced credit rating agencies to downgrade China as an investment opportunity, for the first time in 30 years. The country did announce economic reforms for the coming year, but analysts feel that if the reforms come too late, there could be serious de-stabilization in the Chinese economy.

US Protectionism

Donald Trump’s “America First” policies could backfire and cause our biggest trade partners, especially China to retaliate with some “protectionism” of their own. This could then lead to an unpredictable global business climate and unstable operating costs.


The uncertainty caused by President Trump’s threat to pull out of the North American Trade Agreement, which has been operational since 1994, could disrupt markets, reduce credit growth, and have many other dire consequences to our best trading partners, Mexico and Canada.

European Union

The EU had more economic growth in 2017 than the US, but that is not a guarantee that such a state of affairs will continue. The rise of the far-right in the East, Brexit, immigrants and more can all lead to destabilization and uncertainty in the Eurozone marketplace.

Russia Joins North Korea to Condemn “The Interview”

Spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry Alexander Lukashevich condemned the United States on Thursday for permitting the release of Sony Pictures raunchy comedy “The Interview.”

After Sony was hacked by an unknown entity, but most likely North Korea, the threat of further cyberattacks convinced the giant entertainment company to shelve the film to protect their interests. As a result of that decision Sony was inundated with criticism, including from President Obama, that caving into threats was not the way the United States, the world’s symbol of freedom and free speech, should respond. Sony relented and the film, an essentially low-brow, expletive not deleted, sexually suggestive trashy comedy became an ironic symbol of free-speech which opened in theaters across the country on Christmas Day.

North Korea already voiced its displeasure, insulting President Obama in the crudest language, a bit reminiscent of the movie they condemned. Now Russia is adding its angry voice to the chorus.

“The very idea of the film is so aggressive and scandalous that the reaction of the North Korean side… is completely understandable,” explained Lukashevich, referring to the film’s story which involves the assassination of the North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un.

“We believe that the threats of revenge and calls on other countries to condemn North Korea voiced in the United States are absolutely counterproductive and dangerous,” he added, adding that the escalation of tensions should be avoided.

GM Remaining in Korea: Labor Force Still Uncertain

GM CEO Dan Akerson
GM CEO Dan Akerson

Due to on-going tensions between North and South Korea, CEO of GM Dan Akerson said last month that the US-based car manufacturer is considering moving output away from this important production center.

Last week Akerson addressed a meeting with GM Korea’s union leader in Detroit, saying GM is not planning on leaving Korea, but will need to discuss his labor problems with South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye when she visits the US this week.

“We are upset by his remarks. We did not go all the way to the U.S. to hear that,” Choi Jong-hak, Korea’s union leader said.

Choi added that Akerson’s original statements on the possibility of a change in venue for GM’s facilities was an empty threat meant to calm down the union before talks commence on a possible restructuring of production systems.

“GM cannot withdraw from South Korea. We have technology to make good cars and our wages are only about one third of those in the United States and Europe,” Choi remarked.

Payless Shoes Expanding to Asia

Payless Shoe Source

Collective Brands Inc, the owners of Payless discount shoe stores, announced that it plans on opening its first franchised branches in Vietnam, Thailand and Korea this coming year.

In the planning stages are 16 stores throughout the three Asian countries, said LuAnn Via, the head of the Payless division of Collective Brands (PSS.)

“We were very interested in Korea; we think that our brand will resonate very well there,” Via said. “We perform extremely well” in developing countries, she added.

Collective Brands stated in August last year that it was ‘reviewing’ its strategic options to help propel the price of its stock. According to the value of its various separate businesses Collective Brands could be worth as much as $27 per share.

Today Payless has about 4500 stores throughout 34 countries. Its first overseas franchise opened in Kuwait in 2009. Now there are 140 franchised locations with the hope of expanding to 700 locales by 2014. Collective Brands is also the owner of Saucony, Stride Rite, Keds, and Sperry Top-Sider brands.

On February 3rd this year the price of one share of Collective Brands stock fell 1 percent to $16.65 on Wall Street. In 2011 the total value of Collective Brands stock fell by 32 percent.