Rolling live coverage of business, economics and financial markets as European economy suffers its worst contraction since at least 1995
Stronger public finances come as Rishi Sunak prepares to unveil budget next month
British Chambers of Commerce report says long-term uncertainty is impeding growth
Swedish academic Hans Rosling has identified a worrying trend: not only do many people across advanced economies have no idea that the world is becoming a much better place, but they actually even think the opposite. This is no wonder, when the news focuses on reporting catastrophes, terrorist attacks, wars and famines.
Who wants to hear about the fact that every day some 200,000 people around the world are lifted above the US$2-a-day poverty line? Or that more than 300,000 people a day get access to electricity and clean water for the first time every day? These stories of people in low-income countries simply doesn’t make for exciting news coverage. But, as Rosling pointed out in his book Factfulness, it’s important to put all the bad news in perspective.
While it is true that globalisation has put some downward pressure on middle-class wages in advanced economies in recent decades, it has also helped lift hundreds of millions of people above the global poverty line – a development that has mostly occurred in South-East Asia.
The recent rise of populism that has swept across Western countries, with Trump, Brexit, and the election of populists in Hungary and Italy, among various other factors, is thus of great concern if we care about global welfare. Globalisation is the only way forward to ensure that economic prosperity is shared among all countries and not only a select few advanced economies.
While some people glorify the past, one of the big facts of economic history is that until quite recently a significant part of the world population has lived under quite miserable conditions – and this has been true throughout most of human history. The following seven charts show how the world has become a much better place compared to just a few decades ago.
1: Life expectancy continues to rise
Source: Seven charts that show the world is actually becoming a better place : The Conversation
In recent weeks media outlets in the US have been fretting over what would ordinarily be considered good news – the roaring American economy, which has brought low unemployment and, in some places, a labour shortage. Owners and managers have complained about their problems in finding people to fill low-wage positions. “Nobody wants to do manual labour any more,” as one trade association grandee told the Baltimore Sun, and so the manual labour simply goes undone.
Company bosses talk about the things they have done to fix the situation: the ads they’ve published; the guest-worker visas for which they’ve applied; how they are going into schools to encourage kids to learn construction skills or to drive trucks. The Wall Street Journal reports on the amazing perks that plumbing companies are now offering new hires: quiet rooms, jetski trips, pottery classes, free breakfast, free beer.
But nothing seems to work. Blame for the labour shortage is sprayed all over the US map: opioids are said to be the problem. And welfare, and inadequate parking spaces, and a falling birthrate, and mass incarceration, and – above all – the Trump administration’s immigration policies. But no one really knows for sure.
Some possible precipitating factors are already in place. How the West reacts to them will determine the world’s future.
It is all fantasy and I do not believe in fantasy, I will still Vote Leave, Brexit all the way.
With one month to go to the referendum, George Osborne is pulling out all the stops. The chancellor has a clear message: a vote to leave the EU is a vote for recession, a house price slump, soaring food prices and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.
The chancellor has been shouting out numbers and lamenting the fate of the “working people of Britain who will pay the price if we leave the EU”. He even talked about “evidence” Britain will spark its own downturn.
Let’s be clear, all Osborne has are “scenarios”. At best, semi-educated guesses, pulled out of models that make a host of assumptions over what the post-Brexit future holds.
Even the Treasury itself wants to emphasise that all this talk of shrinking GDP and rising prices is by no means a forecast. Rather, the latest doomsday scenario for post-Brexit Britain…
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Google, crony capitalism and zero-hour contracts are just some of the things fuelling public anger. We need to channel that rage into reform