Archive for the ‘World Bank’ Category

Trade Barriers Could Threaten Global Economy

March 18, 2009

At least 17 of the 20 major nations that vowed at a November summit to avoid protectionist steps that could spark a global trade war have violated that promise, with countries from Russia to the United States to China enacting measures aimed at limiting the flow of imported goods, according to a World Bank report unveiled yesterday. 

By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Staff Writer

The report underscores a “worrying” trend toward protectionism as countries rush to shield their ailing domestic industries during the global economic crisis. It comes one day after Mexico vowed to slap new restrictions on 90 U.S. products. That action is being taken in retaliation against Washington for canceling a program that allowed Mexican truck drivers the right to transport goods across the United States, illustrating the tit-for-tat responses that experts fear could grow in coming months.

The report comes ahead of an April 2 summit in London in which the heads of state from those 20 industrialized and developing economies will seek to shape a coordinated response to the economic crisis. Their inability to keep their November promises is another indication of how difficult it will be to implement any agreement reached next month on a global scale.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dy
n/content/article/2009/03/17/AR200
9031703218.html?hpid=topnews

Obama, Geithner: recession requires global action

March 11, 2009

The emphasis on economic stimulus has already been met coolly by many European nations, raising questions whether a gathering of finance chiefs from the Group of 20 rich and developing economies near London this weekend will make much headway battling a deepening downturn.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/
nm/us_financial_g20

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Warning that the global recession is deepening, the Obama administration on Wednesday called on major U.S. allies to do their part and support strong stimulus programs to fight the downturn.

The administration said decisive action was needed by all countries to complement what is being done in the United States. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner outlined an ambitious agenda, including a tenfold increase in the size of an emergency fund the International Monetary Fund uses to help countries in trouble to as much as $500 billion.

“We can do a really good job here at home, with a whole host of policies, but if you continue to see deterioration in the world economy, that’s going to set us back,” President Barack Obama said in the Oval Office following a briefing by Geithner.

By JENNIFER LOVEN and MARTIN CRUTSINGER, Associated Press Writers

It’s essential for other major countries to commit to substantial and sustained efforts to bolster their economies in the face of a deepening recession, Geithner later told reporters.

The U.S. challenge highlighted a rift with European nations who are balking at U.S. calls for more stimulus spending, arguing they do not want to pile up huge levels of debt. Some European critics have charged that the U.S. demand for increased stimulus spending was an effort to divert a European call for a major overhaul of regulations governing the financial system to curb the types of excesses in the U.S. that spawned the crisis.

Obama said the U.S. has two goals for the G-20 summit in April: to make sure there is “concerted action around the globe to jump-start the economy” and to achieve consensus on regulatory reform to take place in each country.

However, many European nations have been critical of U.S. calls for increased stimulus spending. At a meeting this week of finance ministers of the 27-nation European Union, officials said they were doing enough already to support the world economy.

Geithner sought to play down any disagreement between the U.S. and Europe.

“I think you will find very broad support to address these objectives,” he said. Geithner will attend talks Friday and Saturday in London with finance officials from the Group of 20 nations.

Those meetings are designed to develop a common agenda for a summit April 2 in London to be attended by Obama and the other leaders of G-20 countries, a group that includes not only the world’s wealthiest nations but also major developing countries such as China, India and Brazil.

Geithner said the U.S. will seek approval to expand a $50 billion fund the IMF maintains to support countries in trouble to as much as $500 billion. The IMF needs much greater resources to be able to provide emergency loans to countries during the current crisis, he said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090
311/ap_on_bi_ge/obama_geithner

World Bank: Global Trade Drops Most in 80 Years; What’s it Mean For Obama?

March 9, 2009

In a paper prepared for this month’s meeting of the G20 in London, the World Bank says global trade is on track to this year record its largest decline in 80 years.

The bank also says that suffering in places like the U.S. and Europe may be significant but the global economy’s impact in poorer countries is much more dramitic.

“Debt issuance by high-income countries is set to increase dramatically, crowding out many developing-country borrowers, both private and public,” it says.

World Bank president Robert Zoellick warned that preventing an economic catastrophe in developing countries was important for global efforts to overcome the crisis.

“We need investments in safety nets, infrastructure, and small and medium size companies to create jobs and to avoid social and political unrest.”

What’s this mean for President Obama: should he help “bailout” poor countries, as the New York Times proposes?  Or should he get money flowing again so Americans can buy goodies at WalMart from China, boosting world trade?  Either way, the solutions take a lot of debt, much borrowed from China, with may cut into his health care plans and ideas about the environment, global warming, energy, education and other projects….

Related:
 NYT Urges Obama To “Bail Out” Third World Too

 Despite Global Economy Downturn, China Still Lending

 World Bank Says Global Economy Will Shrink in ’09

 Obama has little reason to fall in with the G20

World Bank Says Global Economy Will Shrink in ’09

March 8, 2009

The economic crisis that started with junk mortgages in the United States is causing havoc for poorer countries around the world, not only stifling their growth but choking off their access to credit as well, the World Bank said on Sunday.

By Edmund Andrews
The New York times

In a bleaker assessment than those of most private forecasters, the World Bank also predicted that the global economy would shrink in 2009 for the first time since World War II. The bank did not provide a specific estimate, but bank officials said its economists would be publishing one in the next several weeks.

Until now, even extremely pessimistic forecasters have predicted that the global economy would eke out a tiny expansion but had warned that even a growth rate of 5 percent in China would be a disastrous slowdown, given the enormous pressure there to create jobs for its rural population.

The World Bank also warned that global trade would shrink for the first time since 1982, and that the decline would be the biggest since the 1930s.

The report, released on Sunday, was prepared for a meeting next week of finance ministers from the 20 industrialized and large developing countries. It warned that the financial disruptions are all but certain to overwhelm the ability of institutions like itself and the International Monetary Fund to provide a buffer.

The bank, which provides low-cost lending for economic development projects in poorer countries, pleaded for wealthy governments to create a “vulnerability fund” and set aside a fraction of what they spend on stimulating their own economies for assisting other countries.

“This global crisis needs a global solution and preventing an economic catastrophe in developing countries is important for global efforts to overcome this crisis,” said Robert B. Zoellick, the World Bank’s president. “We need investments in safety nets, infrastructure, and small and medium size companies to create jobs and to avoid social and political unrest.”

The bank said that developing countries, many of which had been growing rapidly in recent years, are being devastated by plunging exports, falling commodity prices, declining foreign investment and vanishing credit.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/
09/business/09bank.html?_r=1&hp

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Vietnam beomes more poor:
http://ph.news.yahoo.com/afp/20090308/tbs-
finance-economy-vietnam-poverty-a179076.html

Related:
Stimulus Too Late, Wasteful, Reckless; Toxic Assets and Banks Still Unaddressed

NYT Interviews Obama; No Economic Recovery This Year

 NYT: After March 6 Economic News, “2009 is Probably a Lost Cause”

Global Unemployment Threat to Stability Worldwide

February 14, 2009

From lawyers in Paris to factory workers in China and bodyguards in Colombia, the ranks of the jobless are swelling rapidly across the globe.

Worldwide job losses from the recession that started in the United States in December 2007 could hit a staggering 50 million by the end of 2009, according to the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency. The slowdown has already claimed 3.6 million American jobs.

NELSON D. SCHWARTZ
The New York Times

High unemployment rates, especially among young workers, have led to protests in countries as varied as Latvia, Chile, Greece, Bulgaria and Iceland and contributed to strikes in Britain and France.

Last month, the government of Iceland, whose economy is expected to contract 10 percent this year, collapsed and the prime minister moved up national elections after weeks of protests by Icelanders angered by soaring unemployment and rising prices.

Just last week, the new United States director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, told Congress that instability caused by the global economic crisis had become the biggest security threat facing the United States, outpacing terrorism.

“Nearly everybody has been caught by surprise at the speed in which unemployment is increasing, and are groping for a response,” said Nicolas Véron, a fellow at Bruegel, a research center in Brussels that focuses on Europe’s role in the global economy.

In emerging economies like those in Eastern Europe, there are fears that growing joblessness might encourage a move away from free-market, pro-Western policies, while in developed countries unemployment could bolster efforts to protect local industries at the expense of global trade.

Indeed, some European stimulus packages, as well one passed Friday in the United States, include protections for domestic companies, increasing the likelihood of protectionist trade battles.

Protectionist measures were an intense matter of discussion as finance ministers from the Group of 7 economies met this weekend in Rome. [Page A16.]

While the number of jobs in the United States has been falling since the end of 2007, the pace of layoffs in Europe, Asia and the developing world has caught up only recently as companies that resisted deep cuts in the past follow the lead of their American counterparts.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15
/business/15global.html?_r=1&hp

G7 finance ministers reject protectionist measures

February 14, 2009

Rejecting protectionism, the Group of Seven finance ministers pledged Saturday to work together to support growth and employment and to strengthen the banking system so the world can overcome its worst financial crisis in 50 years.

But the bad news continues. The final statement on their two-day meeting in Rome also predicts a gloomy forecast, with the severe economic downturn continuing through most of 2009.

By COLLEEN BARRY and ARIEL DAVID, Associated Press Writers

The G-7 ministers warned that any protectionist measures to boost national economies would only undermine global prosperity. They also stressed the need to support developing countries to prevent the world’s poorest from being the biggest losers in the downturn.

“The stabilization of the global economy and financial markets remains our highest priority,” the statement said, noting that the world’s seven most industrialized countries have “collectively taken exceptional measures” to address the challenges.

The statement endorses the U.S. and British approach to fixing the banking system by recapitalizing banks. The ministers also said a way must be found to deal with the banks’ toxic assets, however no prescription was laid out.

The meeting marked the international debut of new U.S Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who conferred with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as the session began Saturday at the Italian Finance Ministry.

Geithner smiled at cameras, but declined to respond, when asked if any progress was being made.

The G-7 countries urged China to continue allowing its currency to rise in value to even out the world’s massive trade imbalances. But there was no reference to comments Geithner made in Washington that were seen as a strong rebuke of China’s currency policy, which many believe keeps the yuan artificially low to boost exports.

Geithner, who arrived after a week of widespread criticism over the rollout of the administration’s new bank bailout plan, got a boost with Friday’s passage of President Barack Obama‘s $787 billion plan to resuscitate the economy.

But new economic data out Friday in Europe showed the continent’s recession deepening, lending urgency to the ministers’ task.

The ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, along with their central bankers, are looking for agreement on common approaches to the crisis, with the United States pushing for a bold approach to match its stimulus package.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090214
/ap_on_re_eu/eu_italy_g7

Global Economy Sparks Protests; Governments Fear Greater “Social Unrest”

January 31, 2009

Americans just started a new presidency but in China, Russia, France, Iceland and Britain, some leaders already fear that the worsening global economy will result in calls for new governments with new leaders and ideas.

Protesters in Rusia’s eastern most industrial hub and seaport, Vladivostok, called this week for new government leaders because of the economic down turn.

Opposition groups led by Communists protested the economic policies of the Russian government in the eastern city of Vladivostok on Saturday.
James Hill for The New York Times

The protest was peaceful; but more protests are planned.  And previous protests like this one in Russia ended in violence and the police making dozens of arrests. 

The crowd called for the replacement of Dmitri Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, Russia’s top leaders, for mismanaging the economy.

On Saturday protesters held demonstrations throughout Russia, offering largely subdued, but pointed criticism of the government’s economic policies as the country continues to sink deeper into an economic morass, the New York Times said.

In Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown is under fire.  He is currently taking heat for a jobs and rights protest that stems from his pledge that “British jobs need to be British.”
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Thousands of workers across Britain have walked off their jobs following protests over the use of foreigners at a Lincolnshire oil refinery.

On Saturday, the number of strikers multiplied, with hundreds of energy workers across the UK protesting — and with lines of police around them.

And millions of Chinese have gone home for the Spring Festival or New Year and told not to return to their jobs.  China is so worried about domestic unrest that it has started its largest anti-democracy crackdown ever: specifically targeting the media and Internet.

“People have this psychology of crisis,” said Victor Yuan, chairman of Beijing-based consultant Horizon Research Consultancy Group, which does polling for the private sector and the government.

Horizon’s latest survey showed consumer confidence at its lowest since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2003.

“The real, real winter for the Chinese economy hasn’t come yet,” said Chen Jian, chairman of Hangzhou Hengwei Investment Co., which has business in restaurants, real estate and trading.

In France, President Sarkozy can’t get away from the jeers and shouts of protestors when he makes public appearances.  He has taken to firing public officials that  don’t keep protesters far away from the President’s ears.

A crowd of 300,000 protested in Paris this week in the largest protest in 10 years, some said.

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Paris this week

Countries such as France and Greece have been hit by riots and strikes as militant unions demand protectionist measures to keep out foreign rivals.

And both Germany and China expressed fears of American protectionism this week.  Angela Merkel of German told audiences at the economic conference in Davos that the U.S. auto bailout hurts the global economy and spells a new era of protectionism from the U.S.  China’s Hu Juntao told President Barack Obama that the “buy American” provision in the stimulus was rank protectionism and needed to be scuttled.

The economy has made the entire world more tense.

The French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said, “We’re facing two major risks: one is social unrest and the second is protectionism.”

“We need to restore confidence in the systems and confidence at large,” she added.

Christine Lagarde
Lagarde

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the world body needs to be reorganized in view of the economic crisis.

“The current architecture of managing global affairs is broken and needs to be fixed,” Annan said.

The worldwide economic recession has exposed a “crisis of global governance” that can only be addressed by the radical reform of the United Nations, said Mr. Annan.

And Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called on world leaders to set about reforming international financial institutions to prevent a repeat of the circumstances that led to the current financial crisis.

“We’ve got to be far bolder and far more imaginative,” Brown said. “We want to create a global society. But we need to have global institutions that work and the problem is the institutions we built 60 years ago are out of date.”

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

The BBC on Russian Protests:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7862370.stm

Related:
Britain:
 Oil refinery strikes: Protests over foreign workers

France’s Sarkozy Getting Testy Amid Public Disapporval, Fires Public Servants

China, Germany Both Pressure Obama on Protectionism

Kofi Annan: Global Economy Tells Us, New forms of government needed

From CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/BUSINESS/0
1/31/davos.wef.brown/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2009/BUSINESS/0
1/30/britain.refinery.strikes/index.html

Paris:
http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/
world-news/300000-protest-in-paris-14
162666.html?r=RSS

Media Censorship, Criminalization of Free Press In Vietnam Needs Action

January 9, 2009

US-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) called Friday on the World Bank and donor nations to Vietnam to press the communist government to stop criminalising journalists and allow a free media.

The group pointed to the recent jailings of reporters and bloggers and the dismissals of two newspaper editors as the latest examples in “a series of measures by the Vietnamese government to stifle criticism and dissent.”

AFP

A newspaper vendor in Hanoi. US-based group Human Rights Watch ... 
A newspaper vendor in Hanoi. US-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) called Friday on the World Bank and donor nations to Vietnam to press the communist government to stop criminalising journalists and allow a free media(AFP/File/Hoang Dinh Nam)

“Vietnam is one of the few countries where people can be locked up on charges of ‘abusing democratic freedoms’,” said HRW Asia director Brad Adams.

“Vietnam’s donors should continue to insist that the government stop its criminalization of peaceful expression.”

Authorities have targeted the Thanh Nien (Young People) and Tuoi Tre (Youth) dailies, which helped uncover a major graft scandal in which officials squandered money from projects partially financed by Japan and the World Bank.

“The World Bank and Japan should come to the defence of these investigative reporters and their editors,” said Adams.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090109/wl_asia_af
p/vietnammediarightshrwworldbank_newsmlmmd

To Trade Sceptic Barack Obama: World Wants To Know is U.S. For Free Trade?

December 22, 2008

The question whether the Obama presidency could deliver the coup de grâce to the sickly Doha trade round may seem like a mere footnote to the unfolding economic drama. Doha’s few ardent supporters concede that the direct boost from a global trade accord would be modest – peanuts compared with the hundreds of billions of fiscal stimulus being pumped into the stalling global economy. The cancellation this month of a ministerial meeting at the World Trade Organisation was all but shrugged off by Pascal Lamy, the WTO director-general. Even in the last chance saloon, he said, there were more drinks available at the bar.

By Rosemary Righter
Times of  London
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Yet this was not quite the nonevent that Mr Lamy made out. Doha is not a footnote. It is the canary in a fast-flooding mine. The meeting had been ordered up at their November summit by leaders of the G20, countries that between them account for 80 per cent of world trade, with trumpeted instructions to secure the framework of a deal by the year’s end – before the presidency of George W. Bush, a convinced free trader, gives way to that of the trade sceptic Barack Obama. It did not take place for one reason: these same governments had failed to give trade ministers new marching orders.

The G20’s Doha pledge was a test of international will to keep markets open. Governments failed that test, and are failing others, too. The G20 also undertook not to impose or raise any new barriers to trade or investment for the next 12 months.

Days later, Russia raised import duties on imported cars and announced a general review of all its trade agreements and India increased tariffs on steel. China, cunningly, had already slipped in new export tax rebates on more than 3,700 products – covering roughly 28 per cent its exports – under a “China World Top Brand” programme that on Friday the United States took to the WTO. This was not innocent trade promotion, the US plausibly complains, but a massive export subsidy that gives Chinese manufacturers an unfair advantage over exporters in countries whose cash-strapped governments cannot afford to forgo big hunks of tax revenue. But China could well retort that the US bailout for Detroit is equally discriminatory, as is Nicolas Sarkozy’s “investment fund” to keep France “a country where we continue to build cars, boats, trains and planes”.

The trouble with favours offered to some industries is that they encourage demands from others. With trade volumes expected by the World Bank to shrink next year ….

Read the rest:
http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/b
usiness/columnists/article5380484.ece

Global demand for oil to plummet

December 10, 2008

Global oil demand will collapse next year and commodities will not return to the highs they reached this summer in the foreseeable future, two authoritative reports said on Tuesday as they forecast a long and painful worldwide recession.

The stark conclusions came as the World Bank’s chief economist predicted that the world faced “the worst recession since the Great Depression”.

By Javier Blas in London and Krishna Guha
FT

A view of an oil refinery off the coast of Singapore March 14, ... 
A view of an oil refinery off the coast of Singapore.(Vivek Prakash/Reuters)

The US energy department said global oil demand will fall this year and next, marking the first two consecutive years’ decline in 30 years.

“The increasing likelihood of a prolonged global economic downturn continues to dominate market perceptions, putting downward pressure on oil prices,” it said, forecasting that demand would drop 50,000 barrels a day this year and a hefty 450,000 b/d in 2009. US oil demand will drop next year to the lowest level in 11 years.

Meanwhile, the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects report said the commodities boom of the past five years – which drove up prices 130 per cent – had “come to an end”.

Read the rest:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bcda848c-c62a-11
dd-a741-000077b07658.html