Cameron sees second global crash looming; Japan falls into recession; Singapore’s tuition dilemma

1 David Cameron says second global crash is looming (Patrick Wintour in The Guardian) David Cameron has issued a stark message that “red warning lights are flashing on the dashboard of the global economy” in the same way as when the financial crash brought the world to its knees six years ago. Cameron says there is now “a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty” that presents a real risk to the UK recovery, adding that the eurozone slowdown is already having an impact on British exports and manufacturing.

His warning comes days after the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, claimed a spectre of stagnation was haunting Europe. The International Monetary Fund managing director, Christine Lagarde, expressed fears in Brisbane that a diet of high debt, low growth and unemployment may yet become “the new normal in Europe”.

“The eurozone is teetering on the brink of a possible third recession, with high unemployment, falling growth and the real risk of falling prices too,” Cameron wrote. “Emerging market economies which were the driver of growth in the early stages of the recovery are now slowing down. Despite the progress in Bali [trade talks in 2013], global trade talks have stalled while the epidemic of Ebola, conflict in the Middle East and Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine are all adding a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty.”

With Germany, Europe’s manufacturing powerhouse, growing by just 0.1% in the third quarter, the eurozone economy appears to be faltering. The EU may also be only one or two new rounds of sanctions away from pushing Russia into a deep recession as punishment for its interference in Ukraine. World leaders pledged 800 separate measures designed to lift their combined economic growth by an additional 2.1% above the current trajectory by 2018 compared with 2013.

2 Japan economy in recession (BBC) Japan’s economy unexpectedly shrank for the second consecutive quarter, marking a technical recession in the world’s third largest economy. Gross domestic product fell at annualised 1.6% from July to September, compared to forecasts of a 2.1% rise. That followed a revised 7.3% contraction in the second quarter, which was the biggest fall since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The economy shrank 0.4% in the third quarter from the previous one. Economists said the disappointing figures are likely to lead to a delay to the proposed increase of the country’s sale tax. Private consumption, which accounts for about 60% of the economy, was 0.4% higher from the previous quarter – much weaker than the 0.8% increase that economists had been expecting.

3 Singapore’s tuition dilemma (Straits Times) That the tuition industry is now worth $1.1 billion a year is cause for concern, although tutors are contributing to the gross domestic product and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore has recovered more than $2.3 million in unpaid taxes and penalties from private tutors and tuition centre proprietors who under-declared their incomes.

There would be nothing to complain about tuition per se as an educational transaction engaged in by parents and tutors, willing buyers and sellers of knowledge and skills. But it is the purpose and impact of tuition on students generally that warrants introspection. Individual attention can help immensely. But for many parents, tuition is synonymous with educational rites of passage such as the PSLE and later national examinations. To them, tuition is all about making a difference to test scores.

However, those who truly embrace holistic education might instead tap tuition to spark or sustain a child’s interest in the arts or sports, to broaden his social horizons, or to equip him to participate more fully in the life of the country. Not every such child will become a literary or sporting star, but all children will gain from a sounder sense of their place in the social scheme of things.

The problem occurs when parents view tuition not as an exceptional means of meeting minimal educational goals or of expanding a child’s mind, but as a perpetual attempt to game the educational system at elusively higher and higher levels of expectation.


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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