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The Best Countries For Business 2019: UK On Top, US Down

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British prime minister Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote called by her own Conservative Party last week in the battle over Brexit. “We now need to get on with the job of delivering Brexit to the British people and building a better future for this country,” May told reporters after the vote.

As terms of the country’s exit from the European Union are mapped out, Britain’s future is murky. Yet the foundation of its business climate remains attractive, leading the U.K. to the top spot in Forbes’ 13th annual look at the Best Countries for Business, which measures countries that are most hospitable to capital investment. It is the second straight year with the U.K. in the lead.

“The U.K. has a globalized economy that is more open than most across the world in terms of trade, investments, capital flows and, until recently, immigration,” says Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi.

The U.K. is the only country to land among the top 30 (out of 161 countries ranked) on all 15 metrics Forbes used to rate the countries. Gallery: The Best Countries for Business 201910 imagesView gallery 

The Heritage Foundation touts the benefits of Brexit for the U.K. in its annual “Index of Economic Freedom,” which is part of our scoring. “The process of exiting the European Union will afford the government opportunities to correct any remaining structural deficiencies that might be holding back an already high-performing economy,” per the report. “The U.K. has one of the world’s most efficient business and investment environments and will soon be open to expanded global trade relationships.”

Zandi is less optimistic. He thinks it could take multiple generations for the $2.6 billion economy to recover from Brexit. “Under the Theresa May proposal, which is most likely, the U.K.’s global orientation is diminished. It makes investment and trade more challenging,” says Zandi. “The British economic sun is definitely going to shine less bright.”

We gauged the Best Countries for Business by rating nations on 15 different factors, including property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape and investor protection. Other metrics included were workforce, infrastructure, market size, quality of life and risk. Each category was equally weighted.

Click here for the full list of The Best Countries For Business.

The data is based on published reports from Freedom House, Heritage Foundation, Property Rights Alliance, United Nations, Transparency International, World Bank Group, Marsh & McLennan and World Economic Forum (click here for more details on the methodology and the best and worst country on each metric).

Sweden moves up two places to finish second this year. The business climate of the export-oriented economy received high marks for innovation, property rights, risk and low corruption. Stockholm is one of Europe’s leading tech startup hubs. The ratio of national debt to GDP in the Scandinavian country has dropped from 80% in 1995 to 41% last year.

Rounding out the top five countries overall are Hong Kong, Netherlands and New Zealand.

The U.S. fell five spots this year to 17th, a tick ahead of Spain. The world’s biggest economy at $19.5 trillion lost ground on personal, trade and monetary freedoms.

“Instead of embracing the world, we are pushing it away, and that is bad for business,” says Zandi, who highlights the immigration policy as a major deterrent to the U.S. business climate. The problem of getting visas for highly skilled workers is forcing companies to move overseas. The best and brightest are often taking jobs outside the U.S. It is a double whammy if these people are starting new companies. “It puts a stake in the heart of what makes the American economy tick,” says Zandi.

Watchdog organization Freedom House annually rates countries on the “real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals.” Thirty-three countries get their highest rating. As of this year, the U.S. is not one of them. The U.S. political freedom score took a hit, with the report citing “Growing evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, violations of basic ethical standards by the new administration, and a reduction in government transparency.”

African nations populate the worst countries for business with seven of the bottom 10 (Haiti is the weakest among non-African countries). These countries typically fare poorly on innovation, trade freedom and investor protection. The Central African Republic ranks last. The conflict-prone nation has a GDP per capita of only $400.

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South Africa aims to finalize long-term energy plan next month: minister

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South Africa is aiming to finalize a long-term plan for the country’s energy mix next month, and once that is done it will launch another round of renewable energy deals, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said on Wednesday.

“We are aiming for February,” Radebe told Reuters, when asked when the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) would be completed. “Straight away after that we will launch more renewable energy contracts,” he added. -Reuters

-Alexander Winning

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The Happiest Companies To Work For In 2018

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Companies that keep employees happy aren’t just helping their workers—they’re helping themselves, since satisfied workers are more productive. In fact, a mutual fund that invests in companies with positive workplace ratings, Parnassus Endeavor, has beaten the market handily over the past 10 years.

What are the organizations with the happiest employees? Careers site CareerBliss launched its eighth-annual list of the happiest companies in America. It surveyed tens of thousands of workers and asked them to rate their employers on ten key factors, such as their relationship with management, workplace environment, compensation, satisfaction with job function and growth opportunities.

To see the top 10 happiest companies to work for, open the gallery below. For the full list of 50, see the end of this article.

Keller Williams Realty takes the top spot. The Austin, Texas company has 175,000 agents across more than 900 metro areas and claims to be the world’s largest real estate franchise by agent count. A Keller Williams Realty employee wrote on CareerBliss.com, “One of the greatest benefits is how our company promotes from within. All employees are encouraged and supported to be in control of their growth and career paths.”

Sneaker king Nike ranks second. It remains one of the most valuable brands in the world, and it’s navigating a big transition as more consumers shop online. In June it announced its “NIKE Direct” initiative—the company is trying to sell more of its products directly to consumers through its website and own stores, rather than rely on traditional retailers like Foot Locker.

Adobe is the fourth happiest company, according to CareerBliss. The Silicon Valley tech giant invented PDFs and launched them 1993. It claims PDFs have led to a 91% reduction in environmental impact and 90% cost savings when compared with paper-based processes. And Adobe’s Photoshop software is used by 90% of creative professionals. “The atmosphere is highly collaborative and energizing. People have always been friendly and helpful; very professional,” wrote one employee on CareerBliss.com.

Pharmaceutical giant Amgen ranks fifth. Arthritis drug Enbrel is its top-selling product, bringing in nearly $6 billion in sales last year. “The work-life balance is great, fantastic daycare on campus, lots of smart co-workers,” wrote one CareerBliss reviewer. “Working for Amgen was very rewarding to see the positive impact we made in patients’ lives,” reported a West Coast employee.

Full List: The Happiest Companies to Work for in 2018

  1. Keller Williams Realty
  2. Nike
  3. Total Quality Logistics
  4. Adobe
  5. Amgen
  6. Chevron
  7. Intuit
  8. Bristol-Myers Squibb
  9. PNC Financial Services Group
  10. TruGreen
  11. CIGNA
  12. Starbucks
  13. Apple
  14. Quicken Loans
  15. Leidos
  16. Qualcomm
  17. iGATE
  18. The Vanguard Group
  19. Citrix Systems
  20. Kaiser Permanente
  21. Chase
  22. Pfizer
  23. Fidelity Investments
  24. American Income Life Insurance Company
  25. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
  26. American Express
  27. GE Capital
  28. Merck
  29. American Airlines
  30. Microsoft
  31. Cisco Systems
  32. Nordstrom
  33. Exxon Mobil
  34. Alcatel-Lucent
  35. CenturyLink
  36. Bank of America
  37. The Walt Disney Company
  38. Wells Fargo
  39. Oracle
  40. Citigroup
  41. Broadcom
  42. Farmers Insurance Group of Companies
  43. DirecTV
  44. Dell
  45. Symantec
  46. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
  47. ABC News
  48. CareFusion
  49. Spectrum
  50. Verizon Communications
    – Jeff Kauflin

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5 Questions You Should Never Ask During A Job Interview

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So, you think you’re acing your job interview.


Your interviewer seems to like you. You like your job interviewer. The camaraderie couldn’t be better.

Then comes the proverbial: “So, what questions do you have for me?”

Whether you’re interviewing for a job at Google or joining your local small business, the questions that you ask your interviewer matter. It’s your opportunity to showcase your talents, knowledge, and judgment.

Here are 5 questions that you should never ask during a job interview (and three more that you should).

1. “So, how much will I get paid?”

This seems like a no-brainer, but for some reason, interviewees still think the question is fair play.

That said, it is a fair question. After all, you need to know how much you’ll be paid before you take the job. While that’s true, the interview is not the time to discuss salary.

If you receive a job offer, you can discuss salary at that time.

2. “How much vacation time will I get?”

Again, your vacation and personal time might be an important part of your calculus when deciding to take a job offer.

However, asking how much vacation time you’ll get demonstrates you’re focused more on time off than working.

Like salary, your vacation and other benefits should be reflected in the job offer. You can ask all the questions related to salary and benefits at that time. You can also schedule a follow-up session with the human resources department for a benefits deep-dive.

3. “How quickly can I get promoted?”

Climbing the ladder of your potentially new organization is admirable.

However, don’t assume during the interview that you have the job. It’s important to understand options for movement – both upward and lateral – within the organization. If you plan to work at this organization, it’s essential to understand your career trajectory.

You don’t want to come off as entitled. This question may convey to the interviewer that you think you already have the job (when you don’t).

4. “Why did the company fire so many people last month?”

It’s never a good sign to read about layoffs.

This is especially true when you may be joining an organization after a big headcount reduction.

It’s a fair question, and you should understand the details. However, the job interview is the wrong time.

When you receive your job offer, you can have a frank conversation with your manager about the layoffs, the rationale, whether additional layoffs are expected and other related information to fortify your understanding.

Before accepting a job, make sure to understand if the headcount reduction is expected to be ongoing or if it was a one-time occurrence.

5. “So, who do you consider your competition?”

Instead of asking your interviewer about the competition, spend the time asking questions that demonstrate your interest in the company and also show that you’ve done research prior to your interview.

Before the interview, you should have conducted due diligence on the competitive landscape.

That includes understanding key competitors, relative strengths and weaknesses, the supply chain, key opportunities and threats, barriers to entry and other pertinent market dynamics.

You’re better off weaving this information into the interview, rather than asking during the question period.

3 Questions That You Can Ask During An Interview

Here are three potential questions that you could ask during your job interview:

1. “What are the best attributes of the company’s culture?”

  • Show your interest in company culture.
  • Understand the key values that set this company apart.
  • Learn more about the company’s mission and value proposition.

2. “How much is collaboration across departments encouraged?”

  • Determine whether collaboration is promoted internally.
  • Learn more about ways in which collaboration helps create value for employees and customers.
  • See if the interviewer can share concrete examples to further your understanding.

3. “What would you like the person that you hire to accomplish over the next 6-12 months?”

  • Learn about your interviewer’s goals for the position.
  • Understand expectations.
  • This will give you insights because the question is specific to the role and shows your ability to think longer-term.
  • -Zack Friedman

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