The Great Lakes Economy: The Growth Engine of North America
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The Great Lakes Economy: The Growth Engine of North America

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We don’t often think about the states and Canadian provinces surrounding the Great Lakes as its own economy – but maybe we should.

After all, the region is tightly integrated in terms of trade. It alone accounts for more than 50% of all U.S./Canadian bilateral border trade and sees over 200 million tons of cargo shipped annually. If it were its own country, it would have a GDP of US$6 trillion – making it the third biggest economy in the world.

An Economic Powerhouse

Today’s infographic comes from the Council of the Great Lakes Region, and it breaks down the massive economic impact and trade partnerships that stem from the region’s prolific waterways, and the people living around them.

The Great Lakes Economy: The Growth Engine of North America

The Great Lakes Region has always been a center of trade. From the fur trade of the 17th century to modern day, the area’s navigable terrain, waterways, and ports have made it an easy place for goods to exchange hands.

Overview: The Great Lakes Economy

The Great Lakes Region includes eight states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec) that surround the five interconnected freshwater bodies known as the Great Lakes. The area is home to 107 million people, 51 million jobs, and a GDP of US$6 trillion – making the Great Lakes Economy a powerhouse on an international level.

In particular, the region is well-known globally for its manufacturing prowess. It’s home to automobile and aerospace giants like Ford, GM, Chrysler, Bombardier, GE Aviation, and Magna International, and also many other diverse industries. Education and health, shipping and logistics, agriculture, mining and energy, tourism, and finance are some of the other major industries that generate business for the region.

And despite having a border, the Great Lakes Economy is highly integrated. Each year, there is $278 billion in bilateral U.S.-Canadian trade in the Great Lakes area – more than the entire region trades with countries like Mexico, China, UK, Germany and Japan combined.

Cross-Border Customers

The relationship between U.S. states and Canadian provinces in the Great Lakes Region is unique, and relies on goods flowing both ways.

For U.S. companies in the region, 78% of the imports they bring in from Canada are “intermediate goods”, which are raw materials, parts and components, and services that are used to produce other goods and services in the United States.

Here’s a breakdown of Canadian intermediate goods bought by U.S. states:

RankStateCanadian imports (Intermediate Goods, $USD)
#1Illinois$25.5 billion
#2Michigan$15.7 billion
#3New York$11.6 billion
#4Ohio$9.9 billion
#5Minnesota$7.6 billion
#6Pennsylvania$7.4 billion
#7Indiana$5.3 billion
#8Wisconsin$3.0 billion
Total$86.0 billion

Going the other way, Canadians buy billions of dollars worth of goods from the Great Lake states as well.

In fact, Canada is actually the biggest international customer for each state in the region – something we’ve previously shown in our USA/Canada trade infographic as well.

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Although rhetoric against the U.S./Canadian trade relationship has ramped up in the recent months, there is still one enduring symbol that exemplifies the intimate trade relationship of the two countries in the Great Lakes Economy: the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario.

Each day, over this one 1.3 mi (2.3 km) suspension bridge alone, close to 10,000 trucks pass to generate close to US$500 million of international trade between the two nations.

That’s equal to 25% of all bilateral trade between Canada and the U.S. Amazingly, more bilateral trade happens over this single bridge than the U.S. does in its entirety with France, Germany, South Korea, or the United Kingdom.

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Mapped: Corruption in Countries Around the World

Which countries are the most (and least) corrupt? This map shows corruption around the world, and the movers and shakers over the last decade.

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Mapped Corruption in Countries Around the World Share

Mapped: Corruption in Countries Around the World

How bad is public sector corruption around the world, and how do different countries compare?

No matter your system of government, the public sector plays a vital role in establishing your economic mobility and political freedoms. Measuring corruption—the abuse of power for private gain—reveals how equal a system truly is.

For more than a decade, the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) by Transparency International has been the world’s most widely-used metric for scoring corruption. This infographic uses the 2021 CPI to visualize corruption in countries around the world, and the biggest 10-year changes.

Which Countries are Most (and Least) Corrupt?

How do you measure corruption, which includes behind-the-scenes deals, nepotism, corrupt prosecution, and bribery?

Over the last few decades, the CPI has found success doing so indirectly through perceptions.
By aggregating multiple analyses from country and business experts, the index assigns each country a score on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

Here are the results of the 2021 CPI, with the least corrupt countries at the top:

Corruption Perception by CountryScore (2021)
Denmark88
Finland88
New Zealand88
Norway85
Singapore85
Sweden85
Switzerland84
Netherlands82
Luxembourg81
Germany80
UK78
Hong Kong76
Austria74
Canada74
Estonia74
Iceland74
Ireland74
Australia73
Belgium73
Japan73
Uruguay73
France71
Seychelles70
UAE69
Bhutan68
Taiwan68
Chile67
U.S.67
Barbados65
Bahamas64
Qatar63
Portugal62
South Korea62
Lithuania61
Spain61
Israel59
Latvia59
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines59
Cabo Verde58
Costa Rica58
Slovenia57
Italy56
Poland56
Saint Lucia56
Botswana55
Dominica55
Fiji55
Georgia55
Czechia54
Malta54
Mauritius54
Cyprus53
Grenada53
Rwanda53
Saudi Arabia53
Oman52
Slovakia52
Armenia49
Greece49
Jordan49
Namibia49
Malaysia48
Croatia47
Cuba46
Montenegro46
China45
Romania45
Sao Tome and Principe45
Vanuatu45
Jamaica44
South Africa44
Tunisia44
Ghana43
Hungary43
Kuwait43
Senegal43
Solomon Islands43
Bahrain42
Benin42
Bulgaria42
Burkina Faso42
Belarus41
Timor-Leste41
Trinidad and Tobago41
India40
Maldives40
Colombia39
Ethiopia39
Guyana39
Kosovo39
Morocco39
North Macedonia39
Suriname39
Tanzania39
Vietnam39
Argentina38
Brazil38
Indonesia38
Lesotho38
Serbia38
Turkey38
Gambia37
Kazakhstan37
Sri Lanka37
Cote d'Ivoire36
Ecuador36
Moldova36
Panama36
Peru36
Albania35
Bosnia and Herzegovina35
Malawi35
Mongolia35
Thailand35
El Salvador34
Sierra Leone34
Algeria33
Egypt33
Nepal33
Philippines33
Zambia33
Eswatini32
Ukraine32
Gabon31
Mexico31
Niger31
Papua New Guinea31
Azerbaijan30
Bolivia30
Djibouti30
Dominican Republic30
Kenya30
Laos30
Paraguay30
Togo30
Angola29
Liberia29
Mali29
Russia29
Mauritania28
Myanmar28
Pakistan28
Uzbekistan28
Cameroon27
Kyrgyzstan27
Uganda27
Bangladesh26
Madagascar26
Mozambique26
Guatemala25
Guinea25
Iran25
Tajikistan25
Central African Republic24
Lebanon24
Nigeria24
Cambodia23
Honduras23
Iraq23
Zimbabwe23
Eritrea22
Congo21
Guinea-Bissau21
Chad20
Comoros20
Haiti20
Nicaragua20
Sudan20
Burundi19
Democratic Republic of the Congo19
Turkmenistan19
Equatorial Guinea17
Libya17
Afghanistan16
North Korea16
Yemen16
Venezuela14
Somalia13
Syria13
South Sudan11

Ranking at the top of the index with scores of 88 are Nordic countries Denmark and Finland, as well as New Zealand.

They’ve consistently topped the CPI over the last decade, and Europe in general had 14 of the top 20 least corrupt countries. Asia also had many notable entrants, including Singapore (tied for #4), Hong Kong (#12), and Japan (tied for #18).

Comparatively, the Americas only had two countries score in the top 20 least corrupt: Canada (tied for #13) and Uruguay (tied for #18). With a score of 67, the U.S. scored at #28 just behind Bhutan, the UAE, and France.

Scoring towards the bottom of the index were many countries currently and historically going through conflict, primarily located in the Middle East and Africa. They include Afghanistan, Venezuela, Somalia, and South Sudan. The latter country finishes at the very bottom of the list, with a score of just 11.

How Corruption in Countries Has Changed (2012–2021)

Corruption is a constant and moving global problem, so it’s also important to measure which countries have had their images improved (or worsened).

By using CPI scores dating back to 2012, we can examine how country scores have changed over the last decade:

Change in Corruption by Country10-Year Trend (2012-2021)
Seychelles+18
Armenia+15
Italy+14
Greece+13
Myanmar+13
Guyana+11
Uzbekistan+11
Estonia+10
Latvia+10
Belarus+10
Saudi Arabia+9
Kazakhstan+9
Laos+9
Timor-Leste+8
Vietnam+8
Afghanistan+8
North Korea+8
Taiwan+7
Lithuania+7
Senegal+7
Cote d'Ivoire+7
Angola+7
Sudan+7
South Korea+6
Slovakia+6
China+6
Jamaica+6
Benin+6
Ethiopia+6
Indonesia+6
Nepal+6
Ukraine+6
Papua New Guinea+6
Austria+5
Ireland+5
Bhutan+5
Czechia+5
Oman+5
Montenegro+5
Kosovo+5
Paraguay+5
Iraq+5
Somalia+5
United Kingdom+4
Costa Rica+4
Burkina Faso+4
India+4
Tanzania+4
Ecuador+4
Georgia+3
Sao Tome and Principe+3
Tunisia+3
Colombia+3
Argentina+3
Gambia+3
Sierra Leone+3
Azerbaijan+3
Kenya+3
Kyrgyzstan+3
Tajikistan+3
Zimbabwe+3
Trinidad and Tobago+2
Morocco+2
Suriname+2
Albania+2
Turkmenistan+2
Luxembourg+1
Germany+1
Uruguay+1
United Arab Emirates+1
Jordan+1
Namibia+1
Croatia+1
Romania+1
South Africa+1
Bulgaria+1
Egypt+1
Russia+1
Pakistan+1
Cameroon+1
Guinea+1
Cambodia+1
Haiti+1
Chad+1
Norway0
France0
Rwanda0
Moldova0
Togo0
Bangladesh0
Burundi0
Hong Kong-1
Japan-1
Portugal-1
Israel-1
Malaysia-1
Kuwait-1
Serbia-1
Mongolia-1
Algeria-1
Philippines-1
Denmark-2
Finland-2
New Zealand-2
Singapore-2
Switzerland-2
Netherlands-2
Belgium-2
Cabo Verde-2
Poland-2
Cuba-2
Ghana-2
Panama-2
Peru-2
Malawi-2
Thailand-2
Niger-2
Dominican Republic-2
Uganda-2
Central African Republic-2
Democratic Republic of the Congo-2
Sweden-3
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines-3
Dominica-3
Malta-3
Mauritius-3
Sri Lanka-3
Mexico-3
Mauritania-3
Iran-3
Nigeria-3
Eritrea-3
Equatorial Guinea-3
Spain-4
Slovenia-4
North Macedonia-4
El Salvador-4
Zambia-4
Gabon-4
Bolivia-4
Guinea-Bissau-4
Libya-4
Chile-5
Qatar-5
Brazil-5
Eswatini-5
Mali-5
Mozambique-5
Honduras-5
Congo-5
Venezuela-5
United States of America-6
Djibouti-6
Madagascar-6
Lebanon-6
Bahamas-7
Lesotho-7
Bosnia and Herzegovina-7
Yemen-7
Iceland-8
Guatemala-8
Comoros-8
Bahrain-9
Nicaragua-9
Canada-10
Botswana-10
Barbados-11
Turkey-11
Australia-12
Hungary-12
Liberia-12
Cyprus-13
Syria-13
Saint Lucia-15
FijiN/A
GrenadaN/A
VanuatuN/A
Solomon IslandsN/A
MaldivesN/A
South SudanN/A

The biggest climber with +18 was Seychelles, Africa’s smallest country and also its least corrupt with a score of 70. Other notable improvements include neighboring countries Estonia, Latvia, and Belarus, with Estonia rising into the top 15 least corrupt countries.

On the opposite side, both Australia (-12) and Canada (-10) have actually fallen out of the top 10 least corrupt countries over the last decade. They’re joined by decreases in Hungary (-12) and Syria (-13), which is now ranked as the world’s second-most corrupt country.

Which countries will rise and fall in corruption perceptions over the next 10 years, and how do your perceptions compare with this list?

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How the Top Cryptocurrencies Performed in 2021

Cryptocurrencies had a breakout year in 2021, providing plenty of volatility and strong returns across crypto’s various sectors.

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The Returns of Top Cryptocurrencies in 2021

2021 saw the crypto markets boom and mature, with different sectors flourishing and largely outperforming the market leader, bitcoin.

While bitcoin only managed to return 59.8% last year, the crypto sector’s total market cap grew by 187.5%, with many of the top coins offering four and even five-digit percentage returns.

2021 Crypto Market Roundup

Last year wasn’t just a breakout year for crypto in terms of returns, but also the growing infrastructure’s maturity and resulting decorrelation of individual crypto industries and coins.

Crypto’s infrastructure has developed significantly, and there are now many more onramps for people to buy altcoins that don’t require purchasing and using bitcoin in the process. As a result, many cryptocurrency prices were more dictated by the value and functionality of their protocol and applications rather than their correlation to bitcoin.

CryptocurrencyCategory2021 Returns
BitcoinCryptocurrency59.8%
EthereumSmart Contract Platform399.2%
Binance CoinExchange Token1,268.9%
SolanaSmart Contract Platform11,177.8%
CardanoSmart Contract Platform621.3%
XRPCryptocurrency277.8%
TerraSmart Contract Platform12,967.3%
AvalancheSmart Contract Platform3,334.8%
PolkadotSmart Contract Platform187.9%
DogecoinMeme Coin3,546.0%

Sources: TradingView, Binance, Uniswap, FTX, Bittrex

Bitcoin wasn’t the only cryptocurrency that didn’t manage to reach triple-digit returns in 2021. Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash also provided meagre double-digit percentage returns, as payment-focused cryptocurrencies were largely ignored for projects with smart contract capabilities.

Other older projects like Stellar Lumens (109%) and XRP (278%) provided triple-digit returns, with Cardano (621%) being the best performer of the old guard despite not managing to ship its smart contract functionality last year.

The Rise of the Ethereum Competitors

Ethereum greatly outpaced bitcoin in 2021, returning 399.2% as the popularity boom of NFTs and creation of DeFi 2.0 protocols like Olympus (OHM) expanded possible use-cases.

But with the rise of network activity, a 50% increase in transfers in 2021, Ethereum gas fees surged. From minimums of $20 for a single transaction, to NFT mint prices starting around $40 and going into the hundreds on congested network days, crypto’s retail crowd migrated to other smart contract platforms with lower fees.

Alternative budding smart contract platforms like Solana (11,178%), Avalanche (3,335%), and Fantom (13,207%) all had 4-5 digit percentage returns, as these protocols built out their own decentralized finance ecosystems and NFT markets.

With Ethereum set to merge onto the beacon chain this year, which uses proof of stake instead of proof of work, we’ll see if 2022 brings lower gas fees and retail’s return to Ethereum if the merge is successful.

Dog Coins Meme their Way to the Top

While many new cryptocurrencies with strong functionality and unique use-cases were rewarded with strong returns, it was memes that powered the greatest returns in cryptocurrencies this past year.

Dogecoin’s surge after Elon Musk’s “adoption” saw many other dog coins follow, with SHIB benefitting the most and returning an astounding 19.85 million percent.

But ever since Dogecoin’s run from $0.07 to a high of $0.74 in Q2 of last year, the original meme coin’s price has slowly bled -77% down to $0.17 at the time of writing. After the roller coaster ride of last year, 2022 started with a positive catalyst for Dogecoin holders as Elon Musk announced DOGE can be used to purchase Tesla merchandise.

Gamifying the Crypto Industry

The intersection between crypto, games, and the metaverse became more than just a pipe dream in 2021. Axie Infinity was the first crypto native game to successfully establish a play to earn structure that combines its native token (AXS) and in-game NFTs, becoming a sensation and source of income for many in the Philippines.

Other crypto gaming projects like Defi Kingdoms are putting recognizable game interfaces on decentralized finance applications, with the decentralized exchange becoming the town’s “marketplace” and yield farms being the “gardens” where yield is harvested. This fantasy aesthetic is more than just a new coat of paint, as the project with $1.04B of total value locked is developing an underlying play-to-earn game.

Along with gamification, 2021 saw crypto native and non-crypto developers put a big emphasis on the digital worlds or metaverses users will inhabit. Facebook’s name change to Meta resulted in the two prominent metaverse projects The Sandbox (SAND) and Decentraland (MANA) surge another few hundred percent to finish off the year at 16,261% and 4,104% returns respectively.

With so many eyes on the crypto sector after the 2021’s breakout year, we’ll see how developing U.S. regulation and changing macro conditions affect cryptocurrencies in 2022.

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