1 World Bank cuts global growth forecast (BBC) The World Bank has cut its global growth forecast, warning the US alone cannot drive an economic recovery. The Bank predicted global growth of 3% this year and 3.3% next year, below its June forecast of 3.4% and 3.5% respectively. “The global economy is running on a single engine…The American one. This does not make for a rosy outlook,” chief economist Kaushik Basu warned.
It said lower oil prices would benefit some countries. The Bank warned that lower oil prices would hurt growth in countries which export oil, such as Russia, weighing on its global growth predicitions. The World Bank expects the Russian economy to contract by 2.9% this year, and to grow just 0.1% in 2016.
In contrast, it said economic activity in the US and the UK was “gathering momentum” as interest rates remain low. But it said the lingering “legacies of the financial crisis’ meant the recovery had been “sputtering” in the eurozone and Japan. “The global economy is at a disconcerting juncture,” Mr Basu added.
2 UK inflation drops to record 0.5% (Angela Monaghan in The Guardian) UK inflation unexpectedly halved in December to the lowest level on record as the sharp drop in global oil prices fed through to petrol pumps and the supermarket price war cut consumers shopping bills.
The government’s preferred measure of inflation fell to 0.5% in December from 1% in November, taking the consumer prices index (CPI) to the joint lowest level since equivalent records began in 1989. The only other time the CPI hit 0.5% was May 2000, and it has never been lower.
Paul Hollingsworth, UK economist at Capital Economics, said the continued drop in oil prices should mean the UK comes “within a whisker of deflation soon”. Responding to the December inflation figures, the Chancellor George Osborne welcomed the lowest level of inflation in “modern times”, even though it is sharply below the Bank of England’s 2% target.
December’s drop in inflation was the latest sign that UK workers can look forward to a sustained period of real wage rises. Real pay fell for six years from 2008, as inflation consistently outpaced wage growth.
3 Mad men of media (Tom Plate in Khaleej Times) As the editor in charge of the Opinion pages of newspapers in New York and Los Angeles, what was the hardest part of my job? Dealing with annoying, demanding bosses?
Calming down angry readers? Smoothing the enormous egos of neurotic writers? No, that was the easy part.
The hard part was supervising the truly creative artist — the crazy mind that could twist a lance into your brain to make a point that you knew in your heart was true but mere writers somehow found impossible to capture quite so deftly. Yes, I am talking about newspaper and magazine editorial cartoonists — truly the “mad men” of journalism.
In various positions at different US newspapers, my job was to “supervise” them, an almost impossible task. There are no soft edges to their work. And they know how to hurt. Sorry to say, but most of them enjoy it, at least the good ones with whom I worked. The editorial cartoonist views his work not as happy-making or newspaper-marketing, but as newspaper truth-finding. Their view is that if everyone’s happy, they are doing something wrong.
In recent years, in US newspapers at least, the edgiest of them have retired, or been quietly retired. The new crop seems, to me at least, tamer, even worryingly polite. The passion somehow seems to have diminished. But not in Paris: tame was not a word to describe the caustic cartoons of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine that was the target of an attack by armed gunmen that killed 12 people, including journalists, cartoonists and police officers.
The problem here is that speaking the truth can be a risky business. Some people (as we see) just can’t handle the truth. There will be more bloodshed of this kind. This little magazine is now more famous than ever. In fact, the grisly event is a museum-quality statue to the power of the artist.
The gunmen may have killed the magazine’s staff, but they have only rekindled the spirit and reason of the satirical magazine in general. They did not realise it, but these assassins met an enemy that, over time, will defeat them. They met the truth.