Kamil Porembiński

Sharing economy – by Tsz-Tian Lu

As the sharing economy sector has become more mature and been embraced globally, the prospect of this profitable industry is pretty positive. Especially in Asia, where the market is rather nascent for sharing economy companies like Uber and Airbnb and the demands for relevant services have been rising drastically in recent years. In China, for instance, it is predicted that the growth rate of the market is at 40% for the next five years, as sharing economy industry in China is entering its “golden age” according to the Japanese media Nikkei. The rise of sharing economy is mainly contributing to the features that the innovative platform makes some services or products become more affordable and convenient. Now, the customers long for not only the above-mentioned features but also a more customise and high-quality user experience. Also, from a retail perspective, items that are high in value but low in usage ratio can potentially be suitable to apply the concept of sharing economy. For instance, in the fashion industry, if the sharing economy of high-end clothing and accessories, as well as runways, can flourish, the impacts on traditional retailers can be profound.

On the not-so-bright side, the for-profit part of the sharing economy has been in trouble for a long time but the controversies remain unsolved in some places. The harms caused by this including the damage of reputation, the loss of trust from the consumers and the decrease in revenue. For example, in the case of Uber in some countries, vested interest groups like local taxi-drivers are strongly against it, the authorities are accusing Uber of tax evasion and the people are concerned about passenger rights and safety. There remain some improvements both local governments and the companies can make to strike a balance between regulations and embracing innovations.

Business predictions 2017 – by Nando Slijkerman

Predicting financial markets is always a risky thing. A small thing can change the whole prediction (i.e. last year’s unexpected Brexit) and, therefore, it is a difficult job to predict the markets. Personally, I think it is worthless to give some numbers, however, market segments will be more useful in this case.

2017 will be a profitable year for High Frequency Traders and day traders. It will be a year of uncertainty. Trump will fulfil his first year as President of the States, and the elections of multiple countries in Europe will strengthen this. Oil prices will know a lot of uncertainty due to the OPEC-agreements, because the success of this agreement stands or falls on the involvement of the participating countries. This results in volatile oil prices and prices of oil-stocks. All this volatility is very profitable for High Frequency Traders and day traders, but might be risky for long-term investors.

After all, I think that economic growth will continue in 2017, and taking the fact that investor confidence is on the rise, the AEX will rise a little. I still say “a little” due to high volatility and market uncertainty.

Summarized, 2017 will be a year of a lot volatility and uncertainty, and therefore will result in a modest positive result.

The upcoming Dutch elections – by Leonie Ernst

2017 is going to be a stirring year for European politics. The Dutch people will vote for their House of Representatives in March, the French presidential and parliamentary elections will take place in respectively April and June, and the German federal elections are set for September. In all three countries a right-wing, or populist, party is taking root in society. Proponents of the EU fear that due to the rising popularity of these parties, which are quite Eurosceptic, the stability of the union is in jeopardy.

In The Netherlands, the support for Geert Wilders’ Party of Freedom (PVV) has increased in such a way that according to the latest opinion polls the PVV would win the elections with 35 (of 150) seats. The runner up in this case would, with only 23 seats, be the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), which won the elections in 2013 with 40 seats.

Whether the number of seats will remain at this predicted level is hard to say, but there is a real chance that the PVV will actually turn out to be the biggest. However, many politicians in the House of Representatives have already announced not to be willing to cooperate with Wilders, so the PVV is only going to rule if it reaches the majority of seats (more than 75) all by itself. The probability that this scenario will occur is relatively small, which also decreases the probability that Wilders will become the Dutch prime minister. What would be the most likely scenario is that the current prime minister, Mark Rutte, will try to form a coalition with CDA, D66 and PvdA, depending on the number of seat these parties will have after the elections. However, the forming of the coalition is going to be really tough, since the House of Representatives is rather fragmented at the time.

The Dutch people will decide on the 15th of March.

Sylvana Simons – by Michael van Rhee

Elaborating on the subject of the upcoming general elections in the Netherlands, I predict that Sylvana Simons — the former TV and radio presenter whose recent decision of becoming a politician has been met with a wave of racist remarks and even death threats — will make it into the House of Representatives with her newly founded party Artikel 1. The name refers to Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution, which states that all who reside within the Netherlands are ought to be treated equally in equal situations. In order to be elected, Simons must meet the election threshold of 0,67% of all votes. (Think of it this way: since Parliament’s 150 seats correspond to 100% of all votes, one seat corresponds to 0,67% of the electorate.) Compared to neighbouring countries, this is a very low number, and that’s one of the reasons why the Dutch political landscape has become increasingly fragmented over the last few decades. After all, there are virtually no barriers when it comes to founding political parties, and because of this very low threshold, a seat is always in sight. In fact, we might even face serious problems getting all 81 (!) parties on the ballot paper this year. However, Simons will be on there, and I’m secretly hoping that she lands a seat — if only to shut up the brainless people in this country.

Sefa prospects – by Daphne Sweers

The start of 2017 is a great opportunity to enlighten our readers with the prospects of the events that Sefa will bring to our members. And man, the future does look promising!

We kickstart 2017 with a New Year’s Dinner and from then on a rollercoaster of exciting activities will follow. Don’t miss out on our biggest career event, Amsterdamse Carrière Dagen, from the 6th until the 10th of March. Not long after that, our Sefa Study Trip will take off to experience the local (business) culture in Cape Town for more than a week.
In May, the career event Let’s Get Started will take place, focusing on Entrepreneurship.

Most important, however, is that 2017 marks the 95th anniversary of Sefa. This is a good reason for some great celebrations, which will take place in May. Two weeks full of surprising activities will take place. We already look forward to it! The academic year will be closed with an open party in June to wave each other farewell for the summer. Last but not least, there are still two remaining recruitment periods before the end of the summer in February and May. Sign up in case you would like to join a committee to organise an event yourself.

For now, we would like to wish you all the best for 2017 and hope to see you in one of our events!

Boom and Bust – by Hải Đăng Vũ

Bitcoin, the “cryptocurrency”, has long been notoriously known for its seemingly unpredictable movements on its value compared to other fiat currencies. Since last Christmas, the volatility of Bitcoin has again been consistently making headlines at multiple commodity trading platforms worldwide. Following the publicity from mainstream media the currency received in the last week of 2016, the value of Bitcoin increased above the $1,000 (per bitcoin) benchmark for the first time in three years (peaked at 1,130) and later its exchange rate dropped by almost 20 percent in one day. The breakout of the speculative bubble was not unprecedented; in November 2013 the value of the currency was almost tenfold compared to the value at the beginning of the same year and subsequently worth as much as four times less than its peak value in late 2014.

The aftermath of these monumental changes in value led to a consensus by many investors that Bitcoin should be rather perceived as a trading asset. However, some encouraging achievements recorded by Bitcoin the previous year strengthened its position as the most popular means of digital currency: the number of users is at another all-time high, with transactions happening 50% more frequently compared to 2015. It should come to no surprise that in 2017, the number of bitcoin wallets will keep increasing as it has been the trend of the last decade, and the volume of transaction globally would increase correspondingly with the increase in the number of users. However, traders should be extremely cautious of holding bitcoin in their portfolios – both bubbles were rumored to have been initiated from the Chinese market.

Trump and Nethanyahu, a match made in Heaven… – by Raffaele Di Carlo

As the Israeli government approves the construction of nearly 6000 new settlements in Eastern Jerusalem (with around 600 already on their way), it is clear that Israel has no intention of conforming to the UN resolution passed by the Security Council on the 23rd of December. The resolution demanded an immediate halt to all settlement-building operations in prevalently Palestinian territory. With all Security Council members approving it except for the United States, which abstained, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally reprimanded each approving country plus the historical ally, whom he claims to have conspired with Palestine under the Obama administration.

2017 will then start further and further away from the dreamed two-state solution. President-Elect Donald Trump has already taken a stance on the matter, claiming Netanyahu’s claims about Obama’s involvement in the resolution are truthful. This seems unlikely: although Obama clearly interrupted the US tradition of full support towards Israel, his administration still provided the Israeli government with funds and military aid, most notably a $38 billion deal signed in September 2016. Trump’s claim can then be seen as a “teaser trailer” of his future agenda, and we can expect stronger military and financial support for Israel’s operations, and possibly an inversion on the prized nuclear deal with Iran. A free Palestine and a stable Middle East seem then much like a mirage in the desert at this point in time.

US-Russian Relationship – by Yana Chernysh

With Donald Trump winning the presidential election in the US a lot has been said about Russia and how the relationship between these two countries will be affected. Donald Trump mentioned several times that a healthy business relationship with Russia is needed and that nice relationship with the country is a good thing only. Moreover, he mentioned on his Twitter that working together both countries can start solving global and important problems that the world is facing nowadays.

Russian politicians share the view that the winning of Donald Trump can start a new chapter in US-Russia relationship in a more positive way. However, they are concerned that the president in the US is not the one making decisions and the Congress may not find Trump’s Russia policy appealing. At the same time Russian politicians do hope to make a stable and useful relationship with the US.

A business relationship or an alliance between these two countries may be quite a crucial thing. Both of them are very powerful and full of useful resources. If their strengths are used together and not against each other it can make a difference in some of the world’s problems and also improve the situations in the countries themselves.

It is hard to say now if Trump’s politics will improve the US relationship with Russia, but it is definitely an interesting topic to follow.

What will be Latin America’s Relationship Status? – by Brunno Fontanetti

The upcoming rise of neoliberal tendencies has reached South America. With the election of President Macri in Argentina and the coup d’etat which lead to Michel Temer becoming the leader of the executive powers, two of the most powerful countries in the region are now lead by right wing governments. The question is how these presidents will deal with Donald Trump being the new leader of the free world.

South America’s dependency over the US had been mitigated in the last few years with the left wing governments, bringing somewhat of an independence from that relationship. But now, with the promise of the new president of the bald eagle country to strike, ‘great deals for America’, the export agreements between these countries might suffer some changes.

And South America should not only be afraid of the results of the American election: with the nearing of French and German elections this year, and with the Brexit results of last year, the commercial deals with Europe might also suffer a change. With over 30% of all trade between the EU and the region originating in Brazil, you might be able to see the consequences of such changes.

South America’s reaction to all these factors will be the turning point of their economical year: Will they follow the typical neoliberal latin government tendency of compliance with the decisions made by developed countries, or will they follow the new positioning of independence conquered in the last decade?

Environmental policy improvement prospect, where art thou? – by Magdalena Wiśniewska

2017 was supposed to finally be the year when we will do something about the climate change – thanks to the Paris Agreement. It aims at keeping average global temperatures from rising 2˚C above pre-Industrial levels—and have them stay as close to 1.5˚C above pre-Industrial levels as possible. With the EU ratifying it, with Australia taking on almost radical 2030 targets for the climate change as a part of it, with the USA Clean Power Plan and with – unbelievable! – China promising cap and trade – a limit on total greenhouse gas emissions and with power plants’ permits to emit.

But guess what, it is not exactly what is going to happen.

First, the opponent of the US Clean Power Plan managed to challenge it in the Court, with no ruling yet. And then the US election has happened, with Trump stating that Paris agreement is a bad deal and promising to investigate it further. And now, when he became the President elect, it all depends on his decision regarding the withdrawal from the deal. He has already appointed his own climate ‘specialists’, who are going to lead the key climate agencies and he is well known to want to increase oil, gas and coal production. And the question is, what will he decide and what will the countries previously taking the US lead do in the case he withdraws. It may even happen that China will become the new leader regarding the Environmental Policy changes!