Challenges that await business owners in 2014
By: John McMalcolm
While many entrepreneurs are gaining confidence in the U.S. economy, others prefer to remain in a "cautious" mode.
With gains in consumer spending, employment and housing, the economy is currently growing gradually (even despite news of the recent government shutdown), but the fragility of the recovery suggests that it may contract again in the near future.
As 2014 approaches, there are a number of issues that are causing concerns among business owners in the U.S.
One of the main factors indicating that the U.S. may not experience strong economic growth in 2014 is its weak GDP growth.
According to Federal Reserve research, since 1947, when real GDP grows at a rate of less than two percent year-over-year, recession has occurred in the following year about 70 percent of the time.
In the first and second quarters of 2013, GDP in the U.S. grew by 1.1 percent and 2.5 percent respectively. Barclays forecasted that third-quarter GDP growth will be 1.5 percent, but it can be significantly lower because of the government shutdown.
The government shutdown can have a very real impact on the economy, putting its recovery in jeopardy.
Businesses are facing more policy uncertainty now than any other time since the debt-ceiling fiasco in 2011. The current monetary and fiscal uncertainty can result in a significant decline in investment and employment, and potentially lower economic growth rate by as much as one percent this year.
If that happens, the economy may be at stall speed by the beginning of 2014. According to some experts, there is a possibility that the U.S. will experience a recession next year.
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Potentially Higher Healthcare Costs
Insurers are predicting that health insurance premiums may rise dramatically for some businesses in 2014 because of rising healthcare costs and President Obama's new healthcare reform law.
Obamacare requires insurance companies to provide better healthcare benefits for Americans, and therefore, it may drive up insurance costs for businesses. Although the healthcare reform law has many provisions for lowering healthcare costs, there is no guarantee they will be effective.
Many businesses are reducing the work hours of their employees or replacing fulltime employees with part-time workers in order to avoid the Obamacare employer mandate.
In a survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, about 71 percent of small businesses said that the new healthcare reform law has made it more difficult for them to hire new employees.
Growing National Debt
Many business owners are also worried about the growing national debt and the government's unwillingness to fix the problem.
If the national debt remains high for a long period of time, it can lead to a decline in investor confidence and an increase in interest rates, or it may cause the Federal Reserve to create large amounts of money, which can result in inflation. Both outcomes can have a negative impact on the business climate.
About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from business news to college degrees.
G7 Summit guide: What it is and what leaders hope to achieve
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll have seen the term ‘G7’ plastered all over the Internet this week. We’re going to give you the skinny on exactly what the G7 is and what its purpose on this planet is ─ and whether it’s a good or a bad collaboration.
Who are the G7?
The Group of Seven, or ‘G7’, may sound like a collective of pirate lords from a certain Disney smash-hit, but in reality, it’s a group of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies ─ the powerhouses of the world, if you like.
The merry band comprises:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Historically, Russia was a member of the then-called ‘G8’ but found itself excluded after their ever-so-slightly illegal takeover of Crimea back in 2014.
Since 1977, the European Union has also been involved in some capacity with the G7 Summit. The Union is not recognised as an official member, but gradually, as with all Europe-linked affairs, the Union has integrated itself into the conversation and is now included in all political discussions on the annual summit agenda.
When was the ‘G’ formed?
Back in 1975, when the world was reeling from its very first oil shock and the subsequent financial fallout that came with it, the heads of state and government from six of the leading industrial countries had a face-to-face meeting at the Chateau de Rambouillet to discuss the global economy, its trajectory, and what they could do to address the economic turmoil that reared its ugly head throughout the 70s.
Why does the G7 exist?
At this very first summit ─ the ‘G6’ summit ─, the leaders adopted a 15-point communiqué, the Declaration of Rambouillet, and agreed to continuously meet once a year moving forward to address the problems of the day, with a rotating Presidency. One year later, Canada was welcomed into the fold, and the ‘G6’ became seven and has remained so ever since ─ Russia’s inclusion and exclusion not counted.
The group, as previously mentioned, was born in the looming shadow of a financial crisis, but its purpose is more significant than just economics. When leaders from the group meet, they discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including injustice around the world, geopolitical matters, security, and sustainability.
It’s worth noting that, while the G7 may be made up of mighty nations, the bloc is an informal one. So, although it is considered an important annual event, declarations made during the summit are not legally binding. That said, they are still very influential and worth taking note of because it indicates the ambitions and outlines the initiatives of these particularly prominent leading nations.
Where is the 2021 G7 summit?
This year, the summit will be held in the United Kingdom deep in the southwest of England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosting his contemporaries in the quaint Cornish resort of Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall.
What will be discussed this year?
After almost two years of remote communication, this will be the first in-person G7 summit since the novel Coronavirus first took hold of the globe, and Britain wants “leaders to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener, and more prosperous.”
The three-day summit, running from Friday to Sunday, will see the seven leaders discussing a whole host of shared challenges, ranging from the pandemic and vaccine development and distribution to the ongoing global fight against climate change through the implementation of sustainable norms and values.
According to the UK government, the attendees will also be taking a look at “ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change, and scientific discovery.”