1 IMF sees global economic growth picking up (BBC) The world economy seems to be gaining momentum, according the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund. Maurice Obstfeldt said “we could be at a turning point”. The report forecasts global growth this year of 3.5%, up from 3.1% predicted in 2016.
The UK’s economy is forecast to expand by 2% this year, stronger growth than any of the major developed economies apart from the US. The prediction for Britain this year is now only marginally below what the IMF predicted a year ago, its last full forecast before the Brexit referendum.
The figure then was 2.2%. The revised forecast reinforces the picture of the British economy’s performance being little affected by the aftermath of the referendum, contrary to the expectations of the IMF and many independent economists. The IMF does, however, expect the longer term impact on Britain to be adverse.
The dominant tone of the report is rather sunnier than it has been for some time. For much of the period since the financial crisis of 2008 the IMF has worried that the recovery was failing to generate momentum. This time the IMF sees buoyant financial markets and “a long awaited cyclical recovery in manufacturing and trade”.
One decidedly weak area is Africa, for which the IMF describes the outlook as subdued. For sub-Saharan Africa, economic growth is likely to only moderately exceed population growth. That means correspondingly only moderate progress in raising average living standards in the region.
2 Theresa May pushes Britain into snap poll (The Guardian editorial) Even before day one of Theresa May’s prime ministership, she was categorical about the undesirability of an early election. As Mrs May put it in Whitehall on 30 June 2016 at the launch of her Conservative leadership bid: “There should be no general election until 2020.” This was unambiguous and, until today.
Yet now it is going to happen after all, and it is happening solely because Mrs May sees Conservative partisan advantage in making it happen. Today, Mrs May stood in Downing Street and announced with a completely straight face that the government intended to call an election on 8 June.
Parliament will vote on the matter tomorrow. Unless more than a third of MPs vote against Mrs May’s motion, Britain is heading to the polls in seven weeks’ time. Mrs May may have presented the decision as the government’s, but it is very clear that it was hers alone.
Britain does not need, and its people are not demanding, this general election. There is no crisis in the government. Mrs May is not losing votes in the Commons. The House of Lords is not defying her. No legislation is at risk. There is no war and no economic crisis. Brexit is two years away. Yet now a supposedly five-year parliament will have lasted for just two, solely because Mrs May thinks this is a good time to crush Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.
As U-turns go, it is an absolute screecher. Judgments about Mrs May will never be quite the same.
3 Singapore, German passports most powerful (Straits Times) For the first time, Singapore is tied with Germany as the country with the most powerful passport in an international ranking. Both Germany and Singapore now top the Global Passport Power Rank 2017, published by Arton Capital’s Passport Index.
Holders of the Singapore passport can now get visa-on-arrival in Ukraine for up to 15 days, upping the Republic’s score by one to 159, Arton Capital said). Germany still has the edge for visa-free free travel, it said. Germans can travel to 125 countries without a visa, holders of the Singapore passport, 122.
But Singapore beats Germany with a visa-on-arrival score of 37 to 34. The result – a tie. The Passport Index compares the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories. Singapore was fourth this year in the Visa Restrictions Index, another ranking of travel freedom which uses a different way of calculating how “powerful” a passport is.