‘Australia faces years of low growth’; India air pollution cuts crop yields by nearly half; One World Trade Center open for business

1 ‘Australia faces years of low growth’ (Michael Koziol in Sydney Morning Herald) Australia will suffer sub-trend growth for years to come as economies transition from a pre-Lehman to a post-Lehman world, JPMorgan’s top markets watcher says. John Normand, the bank’s head of FX and international rates strategy, said Australia was part of a large contingent of nations undergoing a lingering structural adjustment in the wake of the financial crisis, which could take years to complete.

“In Australia, going from pre-Lehman to post-Lehman means living with less mining activity as a driver of growth,” he said. Sluggish growth was the new normal, Mr Normand said, with the US, UK, New Zealand and potentially Mexico the only countries growing at an above-trend rate. “That’s it. It’s a small club.”

Last week’s Federal Open Market Committee announced the end of quantitative easing and expressed confidence about employment and the domestic economy. The Fed might still worried about the non-US world, but it didn’t rate a mention. “These non-US economies are going to lag the US economy in terms of growth [and] non-US central banks will lag the fed in terms of raising rates.”

Other areas that had big transitions to make in the “post-Lehman world” were China, where reliance on fixed investment would need to give way to domestic consumption, and Europe, where corporate-driven growth would have to replace debt-driven models, Mr Normand said.


2 India air pollution cuts crop yields (Azeen Ghorayshi in The Guardian) Air pollution in India has become so severe that yields of crops are being cut by almost half, scientists have found. Researchers analysed yields for wheat and rice alongside pollution data, and concluded significant decreases in yield could be attributed to two air pollutants, black carbon and ground level ozone. The finding has implications for global food security as India is a major rice exporter.

Black carbon is mostly caused by rural cookstoves, and ozone forms as a result of motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, and chemical solvents reacting in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight. Both are “short-lived climate pollutants” that exist locally in the atmosphere for weeks to months, with ozone damaging plants’ leaves and black carbon reducing the amount of sunlight they receive.

Comparing crop yields in 2010 to what they would be expected to be if temperature, rainfall and pollution remained at their 1980 levels, the researchers showed that crop yields for wheat were on average 36% lower than they otherwise would have been, while rice production decreased by up to 20%. In some higher population states, wheat yields were as much as 50% lower.

Using modelling to account for the effects of temperature increase and precipitation changes in that time, they were able to show that 90% of this loss is attributable to the impact of the two pollutants. The results are specific to India’s seasonal patterns, the crops, and its high pollution levels, but may extend to other places with similar problems, such as China.


3 One World Trade Center open for business (BBC) More than 13 years after the original towers were destroyed in the 9/11 attacks, New York’s World Trade Center has re-opened for business. Employees at publishing giant Conde Nast are starting to move into the 104-storey One World Trade Center.

The $3.8bn skyscraper took eight years to build and is now the tallest building in the US. It is 60% leased and the government’s General Services Administration has signed up for 275,000 square feet. “The New York City skyline is whole again,” Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority, which owns the restored site, said in a statement.

The 1,776ft (541m) tall skyscraper is at the centre of the site, which includes a memorial in the footprints of the old towers and a museum, opened this year. An observation deck at the top of the building will eventually be open to the public.

TJ Gottesdiener of the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill firm that produced the final design said the high-rise went beyond the city’s existing building code, and was built with steel-reinforced concrete. The new World Trade Center is the centrepiece of the 16-acre site where the twin towers once stood, before they came crashing down, killing more than 2,700 people.



About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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