OECD cuts world growth outlook, warns on emerging markets; Ortega, second richest man, closes in on Gates; Social media and mental health of teenagers

1 OECD cuts world growth outlook, warns on emerging markets (Gulf News) The OECD has cut its world economic growth forecasts for 2015 and 2016, warning of a dramatic slowdown in Brazil and a global outlook clouded by uncertainty over China. The policy analysis club of 34 advanced economies had already slashed its forecasts just three months ago because of weak US activity.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development cut its world growth forecast for this year to 3.0 per cent, trimming 0.1 percentage points off its previous estimate made in June. “The outlook has worsened further for many emerging market economies”, the OECD said.

The group issued its new economic outlook on the eve of a US Federal Reserve decision on whether to lift interest rates for the first time in nine years. Analysts say such a tightening could chill global activity. For China, whose slowing economy has prompted deep uncertainty in global financial markets, the OECD cut its 2015 growth forecast by 0.1 percentage points to 6.7 per cent.

But Brazil’s forecasts took the biggest hit, by far, in the latest OECD report. Suffering like other emerging economies from a commodity price crash, engulfed in recession and with its debt downgraded by Standard & Poor’s this month to junk bond status, Brazil had its economic outlook for this year downgraded to a 2.8-per cent contraction instead of a 0.8-per cent contraction.

Coincidentally, within an hour of the report’s release, Standard & Poor’s cut Japan’s investment-grade credit rating by one notch, saying the government’s strategy to revive growth and end deflation was unlikely to reverse the deterioration in the next two to three years. Meanwhile, the euro area’s recovery lacked some vigour and activity in China was “difficult to assess”, the OECD said.


2 Ortega, second richest man, closes in on Gates (Robert Lafranco in Sydney Morning Herald) Spain’s fast-fashion king Amancio Ortega has added $3.7 billion to his personal fortune after Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer and owner of the Zara chain, announced brisk sales, boosting its shares.

Now Ortega, who passed US billionaire investor Warren Buffett as the world’s second-richest person in June, is $9.5 billion away from leapfrogging Microsoft founder Bill Gates as the world’s richest person, as of mid-day trading in New York on Wednesday.

The 79-year old businessman began building the Spanish fashion empire with his siblings and soon-to-be wife in 1963, making women’s bathrobes and other clothing in their home in northern Spain. He opened the first Zara store in 1975 and created Inditex a decade later. Its initial public offering was in 2001 and since then, Ortega has reaped in more than €4 billion ($6.3 billion) in dividends, investing much of it in commercial properties in major US and European cities.

Those real estate holdings amount to about $8 billion of his net worth, with Inditex making up more than $63 billion. Ortega has risen from the world’s seventh-richest person since March 2012, when his fortune was at $38 billion.

Gates had $62.5 billion in March 2012 and passed Mexico’s Carlos Slim to reclaim the world’s richest person spot in May 2013 when Microsoft hit a five-year high. Microsoft’s shares closed at $44.30 overnight in New York, giving Gates a fortune of around $80.6 billion. Ortega has $71.1 billion.


3 Social media and mental health of teenagers (June Eric Udorie in The Guardian) The digital landscape has put increased pressure on teenagers today, and we feel it. A new study has found that teenagers who engage with social media during the night could be damaging their sleep and increasing their risk of anxiety and depression.

Teenagers spoke about the pressure they felt to make themselves available 24/7, and the resulting anxiety if they did not respond immediately to texts or posts. Teens are so emotionally invested in social media that a fifth of secondary school pupils will wake up at night and log on, just to make sure they don’t miss out.

Perhaps the worst thing about this is that teenagers need more sleep than adults do, so night-time social media use could be detrimental to their health. Research has shown that teenagers need 9.5 hours of sleep each night but on average only get 7.5 hours. A lack of sleep can make teenagers tired, irritable, depressed and more likely to catch colds, flu and gastroenteritis.

During the summer holidays, I lost my phone. And for the week that I was phoneless, it felt like a disaster. I love my phone. It gives me quick access to information and allows me to be constantly looped in with my friends, to know exactly what is going on in their lives. So when I didn’t have my phone for a week, I felt a slight sense of Fomo, or if you’re not up to speed with the lingo, fear of missing out.

A separate study by the National Citizen Service found that, rather than talking to their parents, girls seek comfort on social media when they are worried. The survey also suggests that girls are likely to experience stress more often than boys – an average of twice a week.



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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