As the year ends, we look back at our victories and our losses, challenges overcome and milestones achieved, endings and beginnings.
Stock markets surged in 2017. Following a 2016 close at 6840 from 6952 in 2015, the local market looks set to end the year with the index and virtually all sectors up from year-end 2016. The market closed at historic highs twelve times this year, reaching a historic high of 8523 and currently hovering in the 8400 range. This is a 23% increase from last year.
It was also a great year for the US stock market with all of the key indices up with the volatility index (VIX) at all-time lows. The Dow increased over 25% this year, its highest spike since 1995 increase of almost 30%. The broader S&P 500 is up 20% and NASDAQ is up nearly 30%.
Yardeni Research Inc.’s Performance 2017 report shows increases in all the major indices, with the all-country index increasing (in local currency) by 18% as of 25th December, Europe at 10%, Japan at 18% and the UK at 6%. Emerging markets performed particularly well with an increase of 26% overall. Asian emerging markets increased 32%, outstripping the 17% increase posted by Latin American emerging markets.
Bitcoin erupted into mainstream consciousness when the bitcoin index value began its astonishing wild ride, rising from just below USD 1000 in the beginning of the year to breach the USD 10,000 mark in November of 2017. The bitcoin mania spread to other crypto currencies and allegations about money laundering have led to clampdowns on major cryptocurrency exchanges in most major economies, including the US, the EU and China.
Business and Management
The disruption in the retail sector continued with online giant Amazon buying Whole Foods and China’s Alibaba setting up its chain of HEMA stores. Iconic toy giant Toys R Us filed for bakcruptcy protection this year and many retail brands are continuing to reduce physical locations while ramping up same-day delivery and in-store pickup.
Uber suffered a terrible year, having been banned from many major cities and having to apologize for covering up a massive customer data breach. It is still in the middle of trade secret and consumer protection lawsuits. Uber Investors forced out founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick and the company which was once the poster ch9ild of the sharing economy is having to deal with the fallout of having overpromised expected returns to Uber drivers, many of whom entered into debt in order to purchase cars in order to become Uber partners.
As online retailing grows, concerns about data breaches continued to grow. Yahoo still doesn’t know who is behind the 2013 hack, which affected 3 billion users and is still the largest internet breach in history. And let’s not even ask how our own Commission on Elections managed to open the doors on its entire electorate database.
Clearly, the world of business continues to change massively and technology is a major source for the disruption. This explains the rush towards hard skills orientation in education.
However, elsewhere in management news, Google, the company founded on the belief that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates are the foundation of a technology company released results of a massive data-crunching exercise that explained that soft skills are more important for the success of their top teams. Topping the list of the skills exhibited by the best teams in Google: emotional safety. Team success at Google depends on the ability of members to be confident in speaking up and making mistakes.
Endings and Beginnings
In world news, Google’s annual search trends for 2017 were dominated by catastrophes, both natural and man-made. From suicide bombers and mass shootings to what is now being called an ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, from earthquakes and hurricanes to wildfires, 2017 seemed to be a year of constant calamity.
In health this year, the WHO narrowly averted what could potentially have been a massive outbreak of plague and the Philippine Department of Health reported concerns about the Dengvraxia vaccine.
The scientific community continued to report fresh insights into the universe, reporting the discovery of seven earth-like planets, pushing back and increasing the locations of the first appearance of our species, and reporting evidence of gravitational waves.
It was a year of scandal. The Harvey Weinstein scandal precipitated many confessions and allegations and a massive online campaign #Metoo brought out the sad fact that too many of these sexual harassment acts go unpunished and even unreported. As the year drew to its end, the scandal claimed the career of Matt Lauer. Across the world, reports of women having to allow use of their bodies in order to access medical care continued the tragic story.
In a year that was dominated by sexual scandals, it seems ironic that we lost two of the most powerful voices in gender rights, Norma McCorvey (the Roe in Roe vs. Wade) and LGBT rights activist Edith Windsor (who prevailed against the ban on gay marriage). This year, we also said goodbye to Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner and Cardinal Bernard law, disgraced former archbishop of Boston who was found guilty of covering up the sexual misconduct of priests for years.
In this year of the Justice League movie, we said goodbye to the actors who played some of my early TV and movie heroes, Adam West (Batman) and Roger Moore (James Bond).
The world is a little less funny and less musical. In 2017, we lost comic legend Jerry Lewis, funny man Don Rickles, smart and funny lady Mary Tyler Moore, Benson star Robert Guillaume, and Erin Moran from Happy Days. We said goodbye to rock icon Chuck Berry, genius vocalist Al Jarreau, 70’s pop star David Cassidy, rock and roll legendary pianist Fats Domino, country singer Glenn Campbell, Linkin Park lead vocalist Chester Bennington, rocker Greg Allman, and lead singer of K-pop group Shinee, Kim Jonghyun.
As we look forward to 2018, we look to technology and science as a source for potentially saving the world and realize that, in the end, it is people and being able to work well with others that will ultimately help us succeed.
Happy New Year, dear readers!
For more information on AIM’s new programs, please go to www.aim.edu. Readers can email Maya at [email protected] Or visit her site at http://integrations.tumblr.com. For academic publications, Maya uses her full name, Maria Elena Baltazar Herrera.