#GlobalEconomy; #CorporateProfits; #CoronavirusOutbreak; #InvestorsRetreat
New York, Feb 28 (Canadian-Media): Corporate profits in the world economy has suffered a heavy blow when equities shed a tenth of their value this week in a rout extending into Friday with with investors' retreats due to mounting concerns of the coronavirus outbreak, media reports said.
World stocks set for worst week since 2008. Image credit: Twitter
As US stocks dropped 4 percent in morning trading on Friday S&P dropped 500 from last week’s record high to 15 percent.
The decline led to the selling of European and Asian equities in the final trading day of the week.
There was a drop of 2.6 in MSCI’s Asia Pacific index, while the Stoxx Europe 600 and the FTSE 100 both dropped by 4 percent.
“There is fear in the streets,” said Patrick Kaiser, portfolio manager for Brandywine Global Investment Management. “No one wants to have exposure over the weekend.”
Travel and leisure stocks in Europe have been hit fiercely by 19 percent from last week, the heaviest decline since the terrorist attacks in September 2001.
Investors are regarding the Covid-19 coronavirus not as being predominately a Chinese issue, but to be a fast-spreading global concern.
Gold, which had been in demand this week against sliding stock markets. But it its price also fell 3.7 percent to $1,582 an ounce, its biggest one-day drop since 2013.
US government debt, considered to be one of the safest holdings dropped below 1.2 per cent on Friday for the first time to hit 1.167 per cent pointing to sudden tightening of US' financial conditions.
“Over the past few days financial conditions have tightened sharply in response to rising fears that the coronavirus could exert a more severe and persistent drag on global and US growth than previously expected,” Deutsche Bank said.
The rising concerns of the spread of Covid-19 far beyond Asia has hit the investors hard with the fear the economy would be disrupted.
As stocks tumbled on Monday and Tuesday due to coronavirus fears, Robert Herjavec, founder and CEO of Herjavec Group said that markets are starting to take note of how the global trading ecosystem could be negatively affected.
“What I think we all learned yesterday is how truly interconnected the world is in ways that we don’t even think. The coronavirus breaks out in South Korea, [so] why does this affect the global economy? South Korea is the number one shipping point for most goods out of Asia. So anything out of Asia is going through South Korea and if they shut down, how do we get goods?” he said.
More than 83,000 people have been infected and 2,858 have died.
European governments have taken action in an attempt to arrest the virus’ spread.
Around 1,000 people in a town in the country’s west of Germany have already been quarantined, while some 50,000 people have been locked down in Italy’s industrial north.
A ban launched by Switzerland on events attended by more than 1,000 people led Geneva's Friday's annual motor show to be called off.
There have also been cancellations of other major industry gathering such as the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
World Health Organization (WHO) reported Saturday that coronavirus has wiped $6 trillion off markets.
With the WHO saying it's time to prepare for a potential pandemic, there are fears Tokyo 2020 may be impacted.
#Bitcoin; #easeOfUse; #HerjavecGroup; #Investing; #Gold; #MetalsAndMines
New York, Feb 28 (Canadian-Media): Bitcoin's ease of use promises its acceptance as the future method of payment by most consumers, media reports said.
Bitcoin. Image credit: Facebook
“I’m a big believer in bitcoin, electronic payments in the future but I think we’re a long way away from that,” said Robert Herjavec, founder and CEO of Herjavec Group to Kitco News earlier this week.
Bitcoin prices will likely skyrocket, Herjavec noted, $100,000 a coin for bitcoin is not impossible.
“Consumers, over the long run, always go to convenience, and bitcoin is just convenient,” he said.
#U.K.; #EU; #nodealBrexit; #UNCTAD; #BrexitBeyondTariffs; #UKEUAgreements; #NTMs
United Kingdom, Feb 27 (Canadian-Media): The United Kingdom (UK) risks losing up to 14 per cent of its exports to the European Union (EU) in a so-called “no-deal” Brexit, according to a new study by the UN Conference on Trade, Investment and Development (UNCTAD), UN media reports said.
Skyline of the City of London, United Kingdom. Image credit: Unsplash/Ali Yaqub
Brexit Beyond Tariffs: The role of non-tariff measures and the impact on developing countries maintains that without UK-EU agreements, or non-tariff measures (NTMs), in place, post-Brexit exports could fall by $32 billion.
Potential losses under a “no-deal” Brexit from tariffs are estimated at between $11.4 billion and $16 billion of current exports – and the new study says NTMs would double those losses.
The study also projects that even if a “standard” free trade agreement were to be signed by the parties, the UK’s exports could still drop by nine per cent.
This is because standard trade deals normally focus on reducing or eliminating tariffs rather than NTMs and Britain has already indicated it will diverge from the EU in terms of regulation.
As the EU market accounts for 46 per cent of the UK’s exports, a no-deal Brexit would deal a major blow to the UK’s economy, according to the study by the Geneva-based agency.
Moreover, mounting trade costs due NTMs and potentially rising tariffs would more than double the adverse economic effects of Brexit for the UK, EU and developing countries, the study notes.
NTMs include regulatory measures protecting health, the environment and traditional trade policies, such as quotas.
Regulations affect most of the products we use in our daily lives, from packaging requirements and limits on pesticide usage to restrictions on toxins in toys and emission standards for cars.
“EU membership has its advantages to deal with non-tariff measures that even the most comprehensive agreement cannot replicate. This offers important lessons to other regions trying to deal more effectively with such non-tariff measures,” said UNCTAD Director of International Trade Pamela Coke-Hamilton.
Developing countries boon
On the flipside, a no-deal Brexit could offer opportunities to developing countries, as trade barriers between the UK and the EU would benefit third countries suppliers.
Post-Brexit “no-deal” fallout
However, the study finds that a positive third-country effect could be diminished by increasing regulatory differences, saying that if the UK’s regulations divert over time from the EU’s, trade costs would rise for third countries, disproportionately affecting smaller and poorer countries.
In quantitatively exploring the post-Brexit role of NTMs and their consequences for developing countries, the study revealed a positive impact on agriculture, food and beverages, wood and paper sectors and a weaker one in electrical and machinery, metal products, chemicals, and textiles.
‘Hard’ and ‘soft’ exits
Britain left the European Union last month and has vowed to strike a deal on new trading relations with the bloc by the end of the year.
While a “hard” exit scenario would result in the study’s projections, the economic effects of a “soft” exit, in which the status quo is largely maintained, would depend on the details of that relationship.
Based on the study’s results, to minimize potential negative effects, the relationship should address customs unions, or trade blocs, and NTMs in a more comprehensive way than typical free trade agreements (FTAs).
Standard FTAs and customs unions generally promote trade through tariff reductions. And although tariffs are undeniably important, substantial evidence shows that the EU’s effect on trade exceeds that of zero tariffs.
#Oil&GasCompanies; #U.S.Lawmakers; #EnvironmentalProtection; #LeagueOfConservationVoters
New York, Feb 26 (Canadian-Media): A combined team of researchers from Yale University and the University of Cambridge has found that gas and oil companies reward U.S. lawmakers who oppose environmental protections by increasing campaign contributions. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their study of the money donated to politicians in the U.S. by gas and oil companies and what they found, phys.org/news reports said.
Oil & Gas companies. Image credit: Twitter
In the United States, corporations are allowed to donate money to politicians running for public office. Such funds are typically used to create advertisements to persuade voters to select the politician in the ads. Such donations are allowed as a vehicle for corporations and private citizens to express their support for a given candidate. But they can also be seen as rewards for past behavior. In this new effort, the researchers have found evidence that suggests gas and oil companies have been rewarding politicians who vote against policies that would undermine their ability to produce the gas and oil essential to their survival.
The work team involved analyzing campaign donation data for Congressional candidates over the years 1990 to 2018 and comparing what they found with voting records. Their goal was to determine if politicians were receiving funds because supporters agreed with their stance on issues, or as rewards for past voting behavior. To that end, they used scores from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV)—an environmental advocacy group. Scores from the group are meant to gauge the level of support for environmental protections by representatives in Congress.
The data showed that when gas and oil companies donated to candidates running for office, there were no discernible changes in LCV scores over the following term. But when they looked at terms during which there had been a 10 percent drop on average in LCV scores, donations by gas and oil companies increased on average by $1,700 in the following election. This finding showed that representatives in Congress were being rewarded for voting against policies that would protect the environment and be detrimental to gas and oil companies.
#GlobalStockMarket; #CoronavirusFear; #500RichestPeopleInWorld; #BloombergBillionairesIndex
New York, Feb 25 (Canadian-Media): The dread of coronavirus destroying the global economy led to a combined loss of $139 billion on Monday by the world’s 500 richest people, the biggest wealth drop for the group since the Bloomberg Billionaires Index began tracking that figure in October 2016, media reports said.
Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Image credit: Facebook
With the global health authorities struggling to contain the virus, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average each dropped more than 3 percent on the day, the most in more than two years.
Bernard Arnault, chairman of luxury-goods maker LVMH -- a French multinational luxury goods conglomerate headquartered in Paris -- and Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Inc. founder topped among the declines, with each losing more than $4.8 billion.
40 percent of the global market for luxury goods is contributed by China, where the virus originated.
Amancio Ortega, chief executive officer of Zara parent Inditex SA, declined $4 billion, and the fortunes of everyone else in the top 10 slid by at least $2.3 billion.
LVMH's shares in Asia (excluding Japan) increased to 30 percent last year from 15 percent in 2002.
Stocks of cruise-line operators were hit hard by the market declines particularly with Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. each dropping about 9 percent
Micky Arison, Carnival Chairman's net worth fell $406 million to $10.6 billion due to hundreds of people aboard Carnival’s Diamond Princess in Japan tested positive for the virus.
#IMF; #SaudiArabia; #G20Meeting; #UnderperformingEconomies; #COVID19Virus
Saudi Arabia, Feb 23 (Canadian-Media): The following statement was issued on Feb 23 by Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the conclusion of the Group of 20 (G20) meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, media reports said.
Kristalina Georgieva. Image credit: Twitter
“We met at a time of particular uncertainty. At the start of the year, global growth appeared to have bottomed out, with signs of stabilization and expectation of a modest rebound—from 2.9 percent last year to 3.3 percent this year. This tentative stabilization was helped by continued monetary and—in some countries—fiscal easing, as well as by the Phase 1 trade deal between the US and China. The projected recovery, however, is fragile and predicated on a return to more normal conditions in previously stressed or underperforming economies.
“Since that projection was made, the COVID-19 virus—a global health emergency—has disrupted economic activity in China and could put the recovery at risk. Above all, this is a human tragedy, but it also has negative economic impact. I reported to the G20 that even in the case of rapid containment of the virus, growth in China and the rest of the world would be impacted. Of course, we all hope for a V-shaped, rapid recovery—but given the uncertainty, it would be prudent to prepare for more adverse scenarios.
“And there are other risks: high debt levels in countries and corporates could be affected by a rise in risk premia or an unanticipated tightening in financial conditions; and climate change has been associated with an increase in the frequency of natural disasters.
“We have an important agenda ahead. With slow growth and low inflation, monetary policy should remain accommodative in most G20 economies. Fiscal policy should also be deployed—where space allows—to support economic prospects; this does not have to be costly and could be done through reprioritizing spending toward high-return infrastructure and investment in people. At the same time, structural reforms should be implemented to boost productivity, growth, and jobs.
“Beyond country-level policies, many challenges are global and require global solutions. We discussed a number of these in Riyadh, including addressing tax challenges that arise from the digitalization of the economy; strengthening debt transparency and sustainability; and building a more open and resilient financial system. There was also strong support for the Saudi Presidency’s agenda of enhancing access to opportunities, especially for women and youth.
“I would highlight three other areas where international cooperation is key:
—First, we must work together to contain COVID-19—both its human and economic impact—especially if the outbreak turns out to be more persistent and widespread. The IMF stands ready to help, including through our Catastrophe and Containment Relief Trust that can provide grants for debt relief to the poorest, most vulnerable countries.
—Second, cooperation is required to further reduce uncertainty over global trade. Despite the Phase 1 deal, trade tensions have shaved 0.6 percent off this year’s global GDP. It remains essential to move from trade truce to trade peace.
—Third, the world must collaborate to scale up climate change mitigation and adaptation.
“COVID-19 is a stark reminder of our interconnections and the need to work together. In this regard, the G20 is an important forum to help put the global economy on a more sound footing.
“In conclusion, I would like to thank Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan and Governor Ahmed Abdulkarim Alkholifey for the excellent organization of our meeting and their warm hospitality.”
#UN; #Albania; #Earthquake; #UNDP; #SDGs; #NaturalDisaster
Brussels, Feb 21 (Canadian-Media): The international community has pledged $1.25 billion to help Albania recover from a devastating earthquake during a European Union-led donors’ conference in Brussels, UN media reports said.
The remains of a destroyed building in the aftermath of the devastatomg 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck Albania in November 2019. Image credit: UNDP
UN agencies have joined forces in developing and implementing the recovery measures based on the sectoral needs as identified by the Government,” said Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, Director of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS.
The pledges are expected to cover the country’s reconstruction needs following the November 2019 earthquake, which was the strongest to hit Albania in more than 30 years and killed 51 people.
The aftermath of the earthquake also increased the poverty rate by 2.3 per cent and hit more than one per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), with 220,000 people or 10 percent of the country’s population being affected.
A post-disaster needs assessment undertaken by the European Union, the United Nations, the World Bank and Albania appealed for € 1.08 billion from international donors to rebuild vital infrastructure such as houses, schools, and businesses.
That amount will also fund an upgrade in the country’s disaster preparedness.
Ms. Spoljaric called for transparency in the recovery effort and urged the Albanian Government to streamline its disaster preparedness, as the country being the most vulnerable to disasters in Europe.
She further added that a strong recovery programme would provide sound foundations for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Albania.
#CurtinUniversity; #research; #NewTechologiesBenefitEmployees;
Australia, Feb 19 (Canadian-Media): New Curtin University-led research has found that the introduction of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, robots and automation into the workforce could potentially benefit employees, rather than replace them, if the right steps are taken, phys.org/news reports said.
Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain
The research, published in Applied Psychology: An International Review, examined how new technologies positively and negatively affect the way managers design work, and in turn impact employees' wellbeing, work load, job satisfaction, performance and skill use.
Lead author ARC Laureate Fellow John Curtin Distinguished Professor Sharon Parker, Director of the Centre for Transformative Work Design based at Curtin's Future of Work Institute, said it was important to address how tasks could be best shared between humans and machines, rather than focusing on how machines could replace humans.
"New technologies have the potential to bring new and exciting opportunities to the future workforce, but action is needed to ensure there are benefits for people rather than costs," Professor Parker said.
"The most publicised risk of these technologies is the removal of jobs and workers due to automation, but this is not the only risk. Technology can also disempower workers and be used to intrusively monitor their every action.
"Because of these risks, our research shows it is important to focus on how technology and work can be adapted to better meet human skills, needs and values."
Professor Parker explained how individual tasks would be automated, not whole jobs, which means it is critical to design the work so that humans and autonomous technology can work together effectively.
"When careful attention is given to work design issues, we found that the introduction of technology into the workforce can enhance people's work lives, by improving the level of control and autonomy in their jobs, the use of their skills, the quality of feedback people received, and levels of work load," Professor Parker said.
"There can also be performance and safety benefits when a human-centred approach is considered when designing and implementing new technologies. Organisations need to go beyond their predominant focus on replacing human work with digital systems and managers need to think more about how technology and people work together effectively through the design of quality work."
#JeffBezos, #World'sRichestMan; #ClimateChange; #Amazon
United Kingdom, Feb 17 (Canadian-Media): Amazon boss, Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man has pledged $10bn, almost 8 percent of his fortune finance work by scientists, activists and other groups to fight climate change, media reports said.
Jeff Bezos. Image credit: Facebook
The Seattle-based company, Amazon, a neighbor of Microsoft, had unveiled a plan in January to become carbon negative by 2030.
Bezos is also financing the Blue Origin space program which is criticized for its carbon footprint.
Compared to some multi-billionaires, Bezos' philanthropy is only limited .
Infact some Amazon employees have walked out and spoken publicly and asked Bezos to do more to fight the cause of climate change.
Before Monday's pledge, his biggest donation had been $2bn in September 2018 to help homeless families and fund schools.
He has also been criticized for not signing the Giving Pledge, under which the super-rich promise to give away half of their wealth during their lifetimes.
#WorldUrbanForum; #Culture; #Youth; #investment; #urbanDecay; #UNHabitat
Abu Dhabi, Feb 8 (Canadian-Media): The Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10), the largest global gathering on the future of cities, opened on Saturday with thousands taking part in lively discussion, through different assemblies representing youth, women, grassroot communities, local and regional governments and business, UN News release of Feb 8 reported.
Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, speaks at the opening of assemblies on the first day of the 10th Session of the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi. 8 February 2020, United Arab Emirates. Image credit: UN-Habitat/Waseem Ali
The Executive Director of the UN’s agency for urban affairs, UN-Habitat, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, urged participants in the five assemblies to focus on concrete outcomes.
“I know that we share a common vision of sustainable and safer cities. We will go further today. We know that urbanization is unstoppable”, she said at the first event of the six-day meeting being held for the first time in the Arab region, in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi.
'There is no time left
'The Youth Assembly was represented at the Joint Opening by Leah Namugerwa, a 15-year old climate activist from Uganda and founder of the youth climate action group Fridays for Future, who told participants they were good at planning but fell short on implementation.
“I am here to promote action to ensure that children and youth are truly represented in your decisions making processes. We must take action. There is no time left...Please take serious climate action now,” she pleaded.
The Chair of the Global Board of the Huairou Commission, Ms. Violet Shivutse said women were coming to cities for various reasons and faced several challenges including housing, inadequate provision of childcare facilities, and lack of security.
“We may be poor, homeless, and landless, but we are not hopeless,” she concluded.
The Chief Executive of the bank, HSBC Amanah Malaysia, Arsalaan Ahmed, pointed out that while the public sector is an enabler, the private sector can and should provide the international financial capital required to ensure sustainability.
Culture can 'reverse urban decay'
Following the Opening Session, delegates rushed to attend the various Assemblies taking place concurrently. The importance of working with all levels of government was emphasized at the World Assembly on Local and Regional Governments.
The President of the South African Local Government Association Thembisile Nkadimeng, Mayor of Polokwane, referred to the WUF10 theme, Cities of Opportunities Connecting Culture and Creativity, saying that “culture plays an important part in influencing creativity around the world and contributes to inclusive and sustainable development...Local and regional authorities are well placed. Johannesburg has used culture as a key for reversing urban decay.”
‘Youth have a huge role’
The Youth Assembly heard from Ms. Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) who told them: "Youth have a huge role in driving political will. It is time for us to trust the youth. They are ready to listen, link, learn and lead.”
Young Kenyan community leader Isaac Muasa told the Youth Assembly that the biggest challenge was unemployment and lack of opportunities.
Juan Ramón Lazcano de la Concha, Vice Mayor of the City of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, Spain, said flexibility would be needed going forward: “We need to generate the ability to resist, change, reform and adapt to everything ahead. There will be new jobs relationships and ways of inhabiting the planet and these will be future challenges,” he stated.
In the Business Assembly, UN-Habitat’s Deputy Executive Director, Victor Kisob, said creating well-functioning, sustainable cities, required massive funding and this should be turned into an opportunity for investors.
“As the global leader on sustainable urbanization, UN-Habitat is capitalising on its unique position to rally a broad spectrum of partners to innovate cities of the future,” he said.
In the Women’s Assembly, Hoda Alkhzaimi President of Emirates Digital Association for Women spoke about the main challenges being perceptions and the importance of “pushing boundaries, breaking boxes and rebuilding norms.”
Her words were echoed by Roheyatou Lowe, Mayor of Banjul, Gambia, who said her priority was to change the narrative to empower women and break down barriers to make hers a more gender-responsive and “smart” city.