More from: LOM Financial

Geography affects a country’s economic activities but can it determine growth?

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It’s not a coincidence that most of the highest-earning countries with progressive economies come from regions ideally located on the Temperate Zone. The US, Canada, Australia, Japan, and Europe dominate the world when it comes to economic development.

Indeed, the climate of a particular country and where they are located on the globe may have a huge impact on their income levels. This is because other aspects related to a country’s geography such as transport costs, productivity, availability of specific natural resources and raw materials, accessibility to major distribution hubs, the burden of diseases, political stability, also come into play – and the same aspects make underdeveloped countries located in geographically disadvantaged setting, less competitive.

While geographical factors can easily determine economic growth and the types of economic activities that countries take part in, experts argue that these are not constant determinants of economic performance. A country, despite its geographic disadvantages, can still push progress forward by focusing on the resources available to them.

Middle Eastern countries, despite in the middle of a desert and experiencing dry and hot climate follow a similar reality. The abundance in petroleum fields and the richness in natural gases necessary to sustain the international industrial life force make these nations competitive players in the global economic stage.

Developing countries as well as developed countries in Asia, on the other hand, despite being set in regions bombarded by different environmental hazards such as earthquakes and typhoons, have their own resources that have helped them stand out, and one of the most important is this: knowledge in technology. Meanwhile, tiny countries and territories such as Asian Tiger Singapore, leading offshore financial center Bermuda, and Mediterranean island-nation Malta all have very little resources yet were able to succeed and become significant global players.

A skilled and educated population can be a huge asset to their workforce. The creation of globally competitive human resources can topple down even the most stubborn obstacles that connects geography and economic development.


How the world’s biggest Sovereign Wealth Funds are financed

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Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) are state-owned and are characterized by a heavy focus on long-term investments on foreign assets like bonds, stocks, precious metals, and even real estate. Most of these funds are created by export-oriented countries rich in natural resources. As of 2017, the world’s total sovereign wealth fund has reached over $7 trillion in assets.

While objectives of creating a sovereign wealth fund may vary among nations, almost all of them focus and have these general goals in common: diversification of their revenue base, protection from market volatility, and accumulation of savings for their country’s future generations.

Currently, the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund is owned by Norway, followed by oil-rich countries in the Middle East like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Perhaps the primary reason why these nations always make it to the top of the rankings has something to do with their access to the most important capital sources of a sovereign wealth funds: commodities, in the form of oil and gas-related funds.

Primarily financed by exporting commodities, commodity sovereign wealth funds rely on the growth of both gas and oil prices – and these resources fund a majority of funds, accounting for more than 50% in 2015 alone.

Sovereign funds can also be financed by non-commodity assets, and usually created from an excess of the country’s current account surpluses’ currency reserves, privatization proceeds, resource exports as well as fiscal surpluses. These make up the over 40% of the world’s sovereign wealth funds.

On a smaller scale, private investment portfolios function almost on the same way as SWFs—except that they are personal accounts. Wealth management firms and offshore portfolio management companies like LOM Financial work with clients to build customized investment accounts that are powerful enough tap into the world’s biggest and newly emerging markets.


Exclusive Caribbean beach destinations for luxury travelers

Tourism is one of the most important sectors in the Caribbean region – and the island-destinations scattered throughout this part of the world are popular destinations for luxury travelers from various countries. The most admired Caribbean beach destinations among high net-worth individuals offer more than just a laid-back tropical lifestyle. Luxury travels within this region promise privacy, five-star services, and exclusive access to the most lavish travel experience there is.

Here are the top beach destinations in the Caribbean for luxury travelers:

Seven-Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands

Image source: caymancompass.com

When it comes to luxury family vacations, the Seven-Mile Beach in the western side of the Grand Cayman is an easy choice because of its selection of the most sophisticated and exclusive accommodations in the entire Cayman Islands—one of the world’s most important jurisdictions for offshore investments. Popular hotel brands offer the most lavish holidays especially for wealthy guests who want to spend quality time with their family. Aside from hosting one of the largest luxury penthouses in the Caribbean, Cayman hotels offer exclusive facilities such as private elevators, outdoor terraces, a libraries, and movie theaters.

Platinum Coast, Barbados

Image source: tropicalsky.co.uk

This Caribbean destination is known as the “Platinum Coast” because of the long line of luxury hotels located along this western coast. It includes the sophisticated first-class accommodation, Sandy Lane – the most luxurious beachfront property built on the island. In Barbados, you can pretty much enjoy everything that a dream tropical experience is all about: fine dining, water sports, shipwreck diving, golfing, shopping, sightseeing, and many more.

Gregory Town, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Image source: cruisegourmet.com

Luxury suites, fine dining, private boat and plane, hilltop infinity pool, indoor and outdoor recreations…you name it. This Bahamian paradise has everything that a luxury holiday has to offer – and it is set in an exceptionally beautiful high-end beachfront location: the Eleuthera. This place is a characteristically long and thin island in the Bahamian territory and is popular for its turquoise waters and pink beaches. It’s also the location for the archipelago’s five-star hotels and exclusive resort-boutiques popular to European and American luxury travelers. In addition to being a prime offshore investments center, the Bahamas is indeed a luxury traveler’s paradise.


The ultimate Caribbean spring break destinations

While your home country offers a long list of Spring Break destinations that can definitely make the best time of your college year unforgettable, the Caribbean promises you a vacation of a lifetime that can easily be summarized in two words: paradise and fun.

If you’re still looking for the ultimate getaway itinerary for your Spring Break vacation, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the best Caribbean destinations that you should consider:

Nassau, the Bahamas

Image source: flyingandtravel.com

Aside from being a popular cruise-ship stop and a major offshore investments center, Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas offers long lines of crystal clear beaches and a rich underwater paradise of offshore coral reefs. In fact, it’s a famous diving destination for Western tourists seeking the ocean life adventure. The city’s downtown area is also lined with chic hotels, restaurants, and boutiques. If your idea of fun is partying, it has a vibrant nightlife hosted by several local clubs and casinos.

 

Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands

Image source: LOM Financial

The British Overseas Territory is known as a primary cruise-ship destination because of its rich colonial-era ruins and attractions. In addition, the island’s beaches and colorful coral reefs also make the region of one the most preferred spring break destinations for those who want to experience both culture and underwater adventure.  The Grand Cayman is the best location where you can interact with nature, thanks to its calm waters in its beaches and shady trees around its old-growth forest.

 

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Image source: dominicantraveling.com

One of the emerging travel destinations for spring breakers is Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana. While it still can’t compete with other Caribbean locations in terms of popularity, the island’s all-inclusive resorts offer the ultimate and overall fun-travel-party experience. The adventure does not stop there. The neighboring tropical rainforest offers the best outdoor activities from hiking, ATV adventure, and zip-line rides.


Famous people and their gorgeous homes

For celebrities and well-known personalities, fame and fortune can be the keys to happiness—especially if one’s definition of being ‘happy’ is going home to an outrageously stunning million-dollar mansion. Just imagine having all the money in the world to buy almost anything under the sun. What would your dream home look like?

Before you answer, take some design inspiration from these famous sports and Hollywood personalities and their gorgeous homes.

 

  1. The Kardashian Sisters’ California Homes

Image source: architecturaldigest.com

Both of Kourtney and Khloe’s Calabasas properties in California used to be owned by two famous stars, NFL celebrity Keyshawn Johnson and superstar Justin Bieber, respectively.

Although the sisters hired the same decorator, each of their homes reveals very different designs: Kourtney focused on a sophisticated but family-friendly style while Khloe’s vibrant and contemporary combination of Middle Eastern, Moroccan and Turkish sense embrace an elegant vibe.

 

  1. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Majorcan Villa

Image source: mirror.co.uk

This stunning luxury home was a recent additional to the couple’s portfolio in 2016 and was acquired before their rumored separation. It is located in the sunny town of Andratx, the same area where Pitt’s WWII drama Allied was filmed.

According to report, this coastal property is an eight-bedroom home and is estimated to be 900 square meters. The property also covers a double living room, a large garden and swimming pool.

 

  1. Stephen Curry’s Alamo Mansion

Image source: bizjournals.com

Curry’s latest East Bay property is a five-bedroom, 10,290 square feet mansion that houses a Finnish-style sauna, five fireplaces, chef’s kitchen, billiard room, and a library. In addition, it has a 1.5-acre footprint that includes an outdoor pavilion with kitchen and a remarkable infinity edge pool. The property also has enthralling formal gardens with a fountain.

 

Wealthy individuals, including celebrities and business tycoons, are responsible for some of the biggest real estate deals in the world. Each property costs millions of dollars, and that translates to substantial profits to both realtors and property developers. Real estate as a whole is a major economic driver of any city, and thus, an important component in many investment portfolios. Know more how you can diversify into real estate by consulting with a financial advisor at LOM Financial.


Supreme innovation: Mobile tech trends emerging anytime soon

A few decades back, mobile phones used to be those big clunky machines which people would use to communicate with another individual by utilizing radio waves. This was a breakthrough in and of itself because it meant people didn’t have to use wires anymore. They also had those big antennas sticking out of their heads and buttons which were not necessarily easy to press. That form factor is practically nowhere to be seen in the smartphone-dominated world of today. Its quick-paced evolution is definitely mind boggling, but the industry isn’t done innovating just yet. And for technophiles and tech investors alike, this is more than good news.

Experts speculate that one major change in mobile tech this year would be the arrival of speech-to-speech translation. A person only needs to speak into his smartphone using his native language and the phone will take care of translating it into any language that the user desires. Multi-language conference calls without translators of any kind can now become a reality.

Image source: cnn.com

 

Another trend that the world should expect in the very near future are foldable, wearable phones. People want to watch online content on a wide screen but that also means using a device that is larger than their palms. Foldable tech will definitely address this issue. By utilizing the Organic Light Emitting Diode technology, smartphones don’t need to stick to their rigid form anymore. People can switch between phone and tab mode or even wear their smartphones on their wrists. All it needs is some added flexibility.

Batteries dying out has always been one of the banes of the industry. That’s why leaders are putting their effort into developing wireless and speedy charging. This could come in the form of walking, tapping the screen, or by simply coming into contact with body heat.

The future of mobile technology seems overwhelming but at the same time very promising. Tech giants like Apple, Samsung, and Sony are working extremely hard to bring these concepts to life and hopefully, become permanent part of the mainstream culture. Expect the industry to gain further growth within the next decade or so.

Image source: thecoolist.com

 

For more insights into the tech sector and the economics behind it, here is an interesting article from LOM Financial.


Super-cities: Skyscrapers of the future

The last two decades were perhaps history’s most ambitious period for architecture. Multi-billion development projects across the globe fuel massive construction booms, pushing design boundaries as well as boosting local or national economies. While the financial crisis of 2008 seemed to have discouraged many developers, building mega-projects—such as skyscrapers—did not stop companies from making history. In Dubai alone, dozens of innovative and groundbreaking structures rose above empty deserts like mushrooms and forever changed the emirate’s cityscape. In the next couple of years, several more revolutionary skyscrapers will hit news headlines. Some of them are as follows:

 

Jeddah Tower

When completed by the end of the decade, this Saudi super-structure will be the tallest skyscraper in the world. It will be more one kilometer tall and will be the centerpiece of a US$20 billion proposed development known as Jeddah Economic City. The project was designed by multi-awarded American architect Adrian Smith, who is also the genius behind the world’s current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Aesthetically, the structure will resemble desert plant shooting upwards, symbolizing Saudi Arabia’s growth and future.

 

Image source: stuff.co.nz

 

KL118

Consisting of 400,000 square meters (4,300,000 square feet) of residential and commercial space, KL118 will overtake the iconic Petronas Towers as Malaysia’s tallest structure when it opens in 2019. It is currently being constructed within the vicinity of a number of historic landmarks with little modern development.

 

Image source: skyrisecities.com

 

Hydropolis

An aquatic city found right next to a cosmopolitan desert boomtown, this mega-project will be a magnificent underwater hotel that will once again put Dubai on the map. When completed, the hotel will cover an area of 260 hectares, which is roughly the size of Hyde Park in London. The central structure of the Hydropolis is the Lemniscate, a symbol of wisdom. A unique aspect of the underwater building is that it will comprise of different structures that represent various parts of the human body.

 

Image source: charismaticplanet.com

 

Baoneng Shenyang Global Financial Center

Currently under construction in Shenyang, Liaoning, China, this supertall skyscraper is notable for its design emphasis on both simplicity and iconicity. It has conical extrusions at its base, resembling canopies or nomadic tent entrances common during the Qing Dynasty. At the top is a “pearl” that would symbolize the Chinese wisdom, luxury, and purity. Located on a high seismic zone, the tower was designed to withstand strong ground shaking.

 

Image source: allday.com

 

These structures are highly impressive in their own right and will go down in historic as architectural marvels. However, regardless of how ambitious a building plan looks, its economic, cultural, and environmental value must be of the greatest importance.  Man’s ingenuity must always be used for the greater good.


Sleek and simple but a bit more personal: Interior design trends for 2017

The first few months of the year is often the start of an entirely different ball game in the world of interior design. The things which might have looked fantastic six months ago may no longer be as chic as it would be today. Design truly is a fickle creature. That’s why leading experts in the field try their best to stay in the know by keenly observing what kind of trends will follow the industry as a whole. For the most prolific, they can create and start a new trend themselves.

Image source: diningandlivingroom.com

 

Generational fault lines

One interior design prediction by a luxury rental developer is that the favorability of designs created this year will lie partly on the generational fault lines. This is driven by the growing number of millennials and baby boomers who are now shying away from home ownership. Generation Y is also following the dogma “less is more.” They want their space to be uncluttered and less fussy than traditional designs.

 

Geometric minimalism

Chanel Korby, the director of business development at a brokerage firm, also confirmed the appeal of clutter-resistant areas to young adults. The world outside is only becoming more hectic, that’s why people are now opting for tranquil environments in their homes. Even in the midst of a bustling cosmopolitan city, homes can achieve Zen-inspired interiors.

 

Emphasis on personalization

Millennials might be shying away from quite a number of knick-knacks, but that doesn’t mean that furniture are only applicable to the older generation. They just want a specific set of demands which will highlight who they are as a person. Young adults want to mix design styles and create a one-of-a-kind simple look, and they are more than willing to dish out more money to get what they want.

Image source: modern-homedesign.com

 

Return to gold

The world’s most popular precious metal will once again make its way to interior design this 2017. This design trend has always been a classic, but it can now be used in conjunction with modern styles, especially when used as a finish for kitchen light fixtures and hardware. Gold tends to look great in every room, and pairs perfectly with a wide range of palettes and patterns.

 

Mixing furniture pieces properly

Scandinavian design will dominate this year, thanks to its clean lines and refreshing balance. This particular trend embodies the idea of simplicity, which many modern homeowners are continuing to gravitate to and enjoy. How to achieve the look? Neat and proper combination of furniture piece. Simple but sleek designs always translate to comfort and positive ambiance.

Image source: onthewebrealestate.com

 

Poor housing market propelled by the last major economic crisis adversely affected the interior design industry. However, things seem to be turning the tides as the business managed to grow fairly well over the last five years and is expected to do better up to the end of the decade or even beyond. The housing market is expected to improve dramatically, yielding growth for residential interior designers as home sales skyrocket. For investors with the heart for the arts, the interior design market could be a good venture to tap into.