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US-China Tensions, Threat To World Economy – IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has alerted the global community that the fresh trade tensions between the United States (US) and China were threatening the world economy.

Head of IMF, Christine Lagarde, told journalists at a conference in Paris yesterday that, “clearly the tensions between the United States and China are the threat for the world economy,” adding that recent “rumours and tweets” made any agreement between the countries less likely.

President Donald Trump jolted global markets on Monday by threatening on Twitter that tariffs already imposed on $200 billion in Chinese exports to US would more than double to 25 per cent on Friday from the current level of 10 per cent.

Also speaking at the Paris Forum, French Economy Minister, Bruno Le Maire, warned about the impact of a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

Maire said: “We are following the current negotiations very closely between China and the United States and we want them to respect the principles of transparency and multilateralism.”

He called on the two sides to “avoid taking decisions that would threaten and could undermine global growth in the months ahead.”

“Increasing tariffs is always a dead-end and a negative decision for the whole world, for the United States, for China, for the Eurozone, for Europe and world growth,” he said. China said yesterday that its top trade negotiator would visit the US for talks with his American counterparts this week.

The countries have been locked in talks to resolve tensions that have seen both of them imposing tariffs on goods worth $360 billion. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described the negotiations as 90 percent complete but told reporters that in recent days the talks went “substantially backwards”, which he blamed on China reneging on previous commitments.

Source: By Bayo Amodu

World Bank Approves $250 Million to Enhance Access to Affordable Housing Finance for Kenyans

The World Bank today approved a $250 million International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loan to enhance access to affordable housing finance for Kenyans who are unable to access long-term housing finance.

The Kenya Affordable Housing Finance Project (KAHFP) will support the establishment and operationalization of the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Corporation (KMRC) a largely private sector-owned and non-deposit taking financial institution under the supervision of the Central Bank of Kenya. KMRC’s goal is to drive affordability of mortgages by providing more long-term funding to financial institutions, an incentive to enable them to offer long tenure loans to homebuyers. The project will also assist the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning to improve property registration and address structural constraints in the land management system in Kenya.

“We believe that Kenya’s vibrant private sector offers an excellent opportunity to crowd in privately held skills and resources towards achieving the country’s Big 4 affordable housing goals and in alignment with the World Bank Group’s Maximizing Finance for Development agenda,” said Felipe Jaramillo, World Bank Kenya Country Director. Urban housing currently remains unaffordable for most Kenyans due to cost of financing, the short loan tenures and the high cost of properties.”

Currently, commercial banks in Kenya hold only about 26,000 mortgage loans of an individual value of $110,000 (KES 11,000,000). The interest rate cap of 2016 coupled with an overall Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratio of 12% led banks to tighten their credit standards and offer variable rate loans locking out middle to low income would-be homeowners.

Kenyans largely access loans from Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) that are estimated to provide almost 90% of Kenya’s total housing finance. While SACCOs’ interest rates remain low at 12% they remain highly constrained by the short-term nature of their deposits liabilities and short loan tenures of not more than five years. The KAHFP support will target households that are classified by the Government of Kenya to fall within the mortgage gap and low-cost categories and represent 95% of the formally employed population.

“The project will endeavor to boost shared prosperity for all Kenyans by addressing rapid urbanization which often manifests itself through the development of slums,” said Caroline Cerruti, World Bank Senior Finance Specialist and Task Team Leader for the Project. The World Bank has supported many mortgage refinance companies in emerging markets, and Kenya has the right pre-conditions for KMRC to be successful, such as supportive macroeconomic conditions, well developed capital markets and financial institutions active in housing finance.”

KAHFP is expected to increase access to finance by tripling the proportion of urban households having access to a mortgage. The project will promote inclusive finance through KMRC serving SACCOs and microfinance banks which target borrowers on low and irregular incomes. Investment into affordable housing will have a strong economic multiplier effect given the number of linked sectors and could support 132,000 new jobs. Better housing conditions are also linked to improved health and education outcomes.

The project will be implemented through KMRC, the National Treasury and the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning.

Source: Africannews

Hong Kong’s March Home Prices Rise at Fastest Pace in 2-1/2 years

Hong Kong’s private home prices, one of the world’s most expensive property markets, rose in March at their fastest pace since September 2016 on strong pent-up demand and improved sentiment.

Home prices in the densely-populated city gained 2.9 percent last month, the third straight rise and accelerating from February’s revised 1.6 percent increase, government data showed on Tuesday.

Hong Kong’s home prices fell from August to December last year weighed by U.S.-China trade tensions and higher interest rates after rising for 28 consecutive months, but then quickly rebounded since the beginning of this year.

“The rise is higher than expected,” said Thomas Lam, executive director of Knight Frank. “If the index continues to rise in the next two, three months and there are no other negative factors, housing prices will see another uptrend in the short term.”

Over the past decade, ultra-low interest rates, limited housing supply and large capital flows from mainland Chinese buyers into the financial city on China’s doorstep pushed housing prices up more than 200 percent, angering many Hong Kong residents who could not afford to jump on the bandwagon.

Property consultancy CBRE named Hong Kong the least affordable housing market for the eighth year in a research report published earlier this month, with an average property costing $1.2 million or $2,091 per square foot. That compares with Singapore, ranked the second priciest, at $874,372 and $1,063, respectively.

Another consultancy JLL said on Monday the drop in stamp duties levied on non-first time and foreign homebuyers in the first quarter suggested the bulk of buyers were local first-time purchasers.

As the property market starts to revive, developers are selling new launches at higher prices than a few months ago.

Last week, New World Development and Henderson Land launched their joint high-rise residential development in Kowloon at a floor price 10 percent higher than the neighbourhood. Analysts expected developers will offer less attractive selling prices than last year going forward.


In the first quarter, developers sold a total of 5,532 new flats in the first three months, the highest in 10 quarters. The figure was up 70 percent from the previous quarter and 44 percent from a year earlier.

Property developers also became more active in land auctions. A land plot in the New Territories received 11 tenders last week, according to Hong Kong media, a high in recent months despite the record-asking price of the area. ($1 = 7.8440 Hong Kong dollars)

By Clare Jim; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

New Bay Area Crown: Most Expensive Place in the World to Build

The Bay Area is the most expensive place in the world to build an apartment building, office tower, hospital, warehouse or school.

And it’s not even close — the region is 13 percent more costly to develop than second-place New York, according to a new report by UK-based consultant Turner & Townsend.

“Another dubious award for the Bay Area,” said Russell Hancock, CEO of the non-partisan, regional think-tank Joint Venture Silicon Valley.

The report blamed high costs on a combustible mixture of high demand, labor shortages, steel tariffs and rapid economic growth.

Even as the expanding Bay Area economy demands more homes, offices, roads and transit projects, rising costs could threaten development, forcing project delays or changes in size and scope.

The region eclipsed New York for the first time last year, and also outstripped London, Zurich and Hong Kong for the top spot. The average construction cost per square foot in the Bay Area is now $417, besting New York’s average of $368 per square foot.

Costs for commercial development, including apartments,  grew 5 percent in the Bay Area last year, tied with Seattle for the fastest-rising market in North America, according to Turner & Townsend. And it could get worse — the real estate consultant firm expects Bay Area prices to grow 6 percent more this year.

John Robbins, North American managing director at Turner & Townsend, said Bay Area developers have been forced to bring in labor from outside the region to handle the demand, and also raise prices as tariffs drive up the cost of steel, aluminum and other materials.

“It’s good old supply and demand,” Robbins said. “Contractors are stretched.”

The labor needs have pushed wages up for Bay Area construction workers, whose earnings now only trail workers in New York and Zurich. The region is also one of many in the world facing a shortage of skilled labor, according to the report.

Bay Area prices have also been pushed higher by tech giants desire to create more inventive and complex buildings, Robbins said. Facebook last year unveiled its sprawling new campus in Menlo Park designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. The social media company spent an estimated $1 billion on recent construction in Menlo Park, according to city permits. Two years ago, Apple opened its vast, spaceship headquarters in Cupertino,estimated to cost $5 billion.

Google also has ambitious plans in Mountain View and San Jose. “These are not just square boxes anymore,” Robbins said. “They’re going to make some beautiful spaces.”

Although the study focused on commercial construction, Robbins said the labor and materials crunch is felt acutely in the residential home building market as well. He added that major tech companies definitely recognize and want to help address the region’s shortage of affordable housing and reliable transit.

It’s another hurdle for Bay Area policymakers to leap — rising construction costs have made it unprofitable for developers to bring homes for low- and middle-income residents to market.

Josh Roden, president of Brookfield Residential in the Bay Area, said the region’s labor shortage started about a decade ago during the last recession, when construction workers found other jobs and moved to cheaper areas.

During the recent economic boom, residential developers have had to compete for skilled workers with major commercial and municipal projects, driving up prices. “It becomes a feeding frenzy,” Roden said. “Some projects don’t get started.”

According to a study by Joint Venture Silicon Valley, the region is running a housing deficit of more than 100,000 units. More than 80 percent of the new homes permitted in the last four years were priced at the top of the market, affordable only to residents in the top-quarter of all earners.

Hancock said Bay Area developers plan for a long, costly public process to build a project, often complicated by legal and regulatory challenges. Cash-rich companies and individuals are also willing to pay a premium to get projects done, inflating prices. “We have a marketplace for affluence,” he said.

High construction prices means higher costs for building new apartments, often driving up rents in new projects. Government subsidies could help add more affordable housing, Hancock said, but “at the moment, that’s not a conversation we’re having.”


Bangladesh’s $33bn fabrics industry holds lessons for Nigeria’s textile dreams

For knit products, 80 percent of the yarn requirements is met by domestic supplies because the country has a competitive advantage in that area.
However, only 20 percent of the woven requirements for the garment sector is catered to by local firms.

The country’s parliament passed a bill specifying the level of quality which all export firms must meet in order to beat China to number one in competitiveness. Hence, emphasis was laid on competitiveness, with the government providing market access for companies through trade negotiations targeted at removing international barriers.

Moreover, some of Bangladesh citizens were sent to China and Europe to acquire the skills needed to run the mills.

Again, the country paid closer attention to the use of modern technology to lower costs.
Big global brands such as Walmart, H&M, Benetton, Gap and Zara were partnered with to distribute Bangladeshi ready-made garments.

Stitch Dairy, a local Bangladeshi publication, said that the South Asian country was able to enjoy duty-free advantage to export garments to the European Union, the US and Malaysia.

Experts equally attribute Bangladesh’s success to a convivial business environment with minimal government influence and low taxes, which attracted Chinese and Vietnamese firms to Bangladesh.

Textile Today reported in 2015 that firms from Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, which had traditionally relied on low-cost production in China, were shifting out of China and making their way to Bangladesh as a result of well-developed Bangladeshi textile value chain that guarantees three to five years return on investments.

Another key factor in Bangladesh is cheap labour with minimum monthly wage of a garment worker at $197, which makes it have the last but one lowest wage among 21 textile-making countries in the world.

However, Nigeria has even more advantage than Bangladesh in terms of labour cost as its recent minimum wage hike to N30,000 amounts to only $83.3 per worker.

“The government of Bangladesh provides cash incentives as export subsidies, amid other supporting policies, to promote exports in various business sectors. There is no alternative to the export-led growth of the economy to achieve its goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2021,” said two researchers, Afsana Arafin and Belalur Rahman, in a paper entitled ‘Cash Incentives for Export Oriented Industries of Bangladesh: A Critical Evaluation’.

However, the number of full-fledged textile mills in Africa’s most populous country has whittled down to two, from over 180 in 1985. Industry players say the number of players is 24, but findings show that most of them are manufacturers of rugs, handkerchiefs, sweaters, towels and stockings.

“Some of the mills have even gone into receivership as they could not repay their loans. The lesson is that we should deal with the fundamental issues of production competitiveness in our economy. The textile industry needs to be saved from the excruciating burden of high operating and production cost,” Muda Yusuf, director-general of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently set up an additional N50 billion intervention fund to facilitate the takeover of existing debt and offer additional long-term loans and working capital to existing companies in the cotton, textile and garment sector.

As of 2016, N3.4 billion had been disbursed to local firms.
Recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) placed access to FX for all forms of textile materials on the FX restriction list.

Smuggling has turned textile hubs in the main cities of Kano, Kaduna and Lagos into solitary camps and event centres, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) said.
“The hitherto manufacturing hubs in Kano, Kaduna and Lagos are now solitary camps with most of their factory sheds now used as event centres and warehouses to store smuggled textile materials,” MAN, which is an association of over 2,500 manufacturers in Nigeria, said in its review of 2018 performance of the sector.

Hamma Kwajaffa, director-general of Nigeria Textile, Garment and Tailoring Employers Association (NTGTEA), told BusinessDay that the problem is importation and smuggling.
“The level of importation and smuggling in this country are killing the few surviving companies. They used to run three shifts but they have closed down these shifts,” Kwajaffa said.

“The Executive Order 003, for instance, has been pronounced, but it is not being implemented. So we have low patronage in the industry,” he added.

Executive Order 003 mandates government agencies and departments to patronise local firms by as much as 40 percent during contracts or bids.

Independent checks show that a few Nigerian textile firms are still competing with imports. They include African Textile Mills, Angel Spinning and Dyers Limited, Sunflask, Nichemtex, among others.


As China’s Housing Boom Cools, Insurer Ping An and Developer Cifi Shift Focus to Rental market

The real estate investment platform of Ping An Insurance has joined Shanghai-based developer Cifi Holdings to launch a 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) rental home investment and management business, targeting affordable living for those who have yet to get on the housing ladder.

The two companies announced on Thursday they would co-invest in a batch of rental home projects in first- and second-tier mainland cities over the next three years.

The investment and management platform will also engage in acquisition, redevelopment, management and asset securitisation of the rental home businesses, they said.

Zhu Zhengjian, general manager and chief operating office of Ping An Real Estate, said the company would seek to boost total assets of rental homes to 200 billion yuan in 10 years by securing more partnerships.

The announcement marked a milestone in China’s rental home sector because it was the first time that a cash-rich institution and a leading developer committed to building and managing residential properties for lease, an untapped area in the country’s real estate market.

More than 200 million people are renters in China, according to global property services firm JLL.

In Shanghai, the demand for rental homes is expected to hit 4 million units, far exceeding the available supply.

Beijing has been encouraging growth in the home leasing market to accommodate new urban immigrants who lack the means to buy.

The central government stipulated in 2017 that tenants and homeowners enjoy equal residence rights and equal access to public services such as education and health care, a move intended to make renting more attractive to young professionals.

“Residential properties for leasing are increasingly becoming a new force to help ease the housing problem,” said Lin Zhong, chairman of Cifi. “This is a market with greater potential and Cifi hopes to be a top player in the segment.”

Cifi and Ping An are developing their first rental project at Pujiang Town of Minhang district in Shanghai.

The development, after completion, will offer 2,100 flats for lease.

The six major cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Chengdu will have 750,000 newly completed rental homes by 2022, reflecting a sixfold increase over the current stock of 135,000 units, according to JLL.

Ping An Real Estate, whose parent is one of the mainland’s most powerful financial conglomerates, has assets of more than 340 billion yuan under management.

Cifi, one of the fastest-growing developers in the country, posted a 36 per cent jump in underlying profits to 5.54 billion yuan for 2018 on revenue of 42.4 billion yuan.

By Sandy Li

Poor Housing Conditions Contribute to Spreading of TB Among Inuit

Improving housing conditions among Inuit in Canada may reduce the occurrences of tuberculosis in the population.

The fact that Inuit in Canada run a significantly higher risk for contracting tuberculosis than does the rest of the Canadian population has been known for a long time. In 2016, the occurrence of tuberculosis was 300 times higher amongst the Inuit than among the Canadian non-indigenous population.

Trudeau apologized in March

Canada’s authorities have promised to work to eradicate tuberculosis among Inuit in the Canadian north and as recently as in March, PM Justin Trudeau apologized to the Inuit for the treatment this groups has been subject to during the tuberculosis epidemics in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to the Inut for the treatment they were subject to in the mid-1900s. Here the PM is embracing one of the participants at a meeting in Iqaluit, the Nunavut capital. (Copyright: Justin Trudeau)

Poor housing standards spread disease

Improving housing standard may significantly improve the situation, the scientists argue.

The new study concludes that even minor and stepwise improvements of housing standards, as well as a reduction of the number of residents per room, may prove a significant contribution to improving the situation and preventing the spreading of TB in the population.

Scientists point out e.g. the fact that climatic conditions prevent someone from living outdoors, like some do in city areas further south in the country. Among the Inuit, this leads people to coach curving – living temporarily – with friends, acquaintances and/or relatives for shorter or longer periods of time.

This contributes to increased spreading of tuberculosis.

Half the houses should be upgraded

In the Nunavut capital Iqaluit, one of the communities in which the study was conducted, five percent of the population did not have permanent housing and were living temporarily in other people’s homes. The scientists conclude that half of the houses in Nunavut were too crowded or in dire need of an upgrade – or both – during the year the studies were conducted.

The group of scientists stresses in its Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health article that other social conditions also influence the rather high occurrence of TB amongst the Inuit in Canada and on Greenland, where former studies have established that the occurrence of tuberculosis is very high also among Greenland’s Inuit population.

Diet, smoking, alcohol and low-level education

Both this study as well as former studies point at poor diet, smoking of tobacco and marihuana, high use of alcohol, low education level and ethnic affiliation as key factors for the frequency of tuberculosis amongst Inuit.

Reference is for instance made to the fact that while 16 percent of the Canadian population over the age of 12 smoke on a daily basis, that number is a staggering 63 percent among Inuit in Nunavut.

Introduced by European people

The heightened occurrence of tuberculosis among ethnic Inuit is also explained by the fact that the indigenous people was not introduced to European people groups until the past century, and they have thus not had sufficient time to build up genetical resistance against the disease.

The researchers’ conclusion in the new study is nevertheless clear: Improving housing conditions for Inuit in Nunavut will contribute significantly to reducing the spreading of tuberculosis in the population.

Brexit Crisis Inflates Fall in Property Market

The decline in London house prices is accelerating with the property market dropping at its fastest rate in a decade at the start of the year, new figures reveal recently.

The average price of a London home fell 3.8 per cent to £455,594 in the three months to March compared with the same period in 2018, according to a survey from leading lender Nationwide.

That was the biggest drop since the depth of the property market rout that followed the financial crisis in 2009 and wiped £18,182 off the average value.

It was also the seventh consecutive quarter when prices have fallen since the last rise in the spring quarter of 2017.  The latest lurch downwards comes amid the political chaos over Brexit that has put off many buyers from entering the market in turbulent conditions, although some agents have reported a pick up in interest in recent weeks. Guy Gittins, managing director at agents Chestertons said: ”It was almost inevitable that the uncertainty of Brexit would drag property prices down, especially as the date gets closer and many buyers take a ‘wait -and- see approach’.

“However, we have experienced an incredibly busy start to the year, with a sharp increase in buyer registrations, viewings and offers, which reflects pent-up demand and suggests that prices are now at a level that buyers are comfortable buying.

“I therefore see this drop as a temporary blip, and expect prices to recover once the market has more clarity on Brexit.” Jonathan Hopper, managing director of buying agents Garrington Property Finders, said: “On the front line we’re seeing increasingly aggressive offers from buyers, who feel emboldened by their strong position and are dictating the pace of the market.

“With what should have been Brexit Day reduced to the status of just another milestone in a Brexit process leading who knows where, and who knows when, this year’s spring bounce is nowhere to be seen.”

The Nationwide survey showed that prices in the “Outer Metropolitan” commuter belt are also dropping with a two per cent fall to £355,978 while across the broader south east they were down 1.1 per cent at £274,122.

Source: Sunng

View from India: Technology for housing, highways and road networks

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared April 2019-March 2020 as the ‘Construction-Technology’ year.

Close on the heels of this announcement, a high-rise building has been in the news recently. Kolkata, once the seat of the British Raj, is now home to ‘The 42,’ a 268-metre tall ultra-premium residential project.

As the demand for rapid urbanisation is increasing, Modi has stressed the need for eco-friendly, disaster-resilient and energy-efficient construction.

To boost the housing sector, the Government of India (GoI) has implemented national programmes such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana; Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana; National Urban Livelihoods Mission; HRIDAY; AMRUT and Smart Cities. These programmes can be implemented only if there’s a skill-ready workforce to take it forward. Clearly, this means that the local talent needs to be nurtured. This explains why the government is working on systematic reforms to fine-tune the engineering and technology curriculum in colleges.

The thrust is on innovative technology and high-tech engineering in order to meet the growing requirement. Low-cost mass housing projects are being planned as per the government policy which envisions ‘House for all by 2020.’

From a technology standpoint, prefab technology is a good option for low-cost housing. Besides being earthquake resistant, it doesn’t require foundations. The houses, which take a few hours to build, can be built on locations. Alternatively, they can be built in factories or workshops and transported to the location. Of course, this can become a reality only when incentive schemes are rolled out to prefab makers to lower operational costs.

Besides dwelling homes, highways and road networks are other dimensions of the Construction-Technology vision.

As indicated in the 2019 Interim Budget, India is the world’s fastest highway developer with 27km of highways built each day. In December 2018, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) worked on 31.87km of national highway construction. This is an average record per day.

Moving on, one wishes that technological innovation will bring about a sea change in highway and road journeys. Highways, it is hoped, will package automated computerised traffic systems. These intelligent highways should leverage advanced communication systems to manage traffic in real time. Besides transport management, highways need to be lined with detection points to determine the speed of vehicles. Sensors will help provide weather alerts.

The setting up of electronic tolls will serve a dual purpose. Vehicles need not queue up at toll centres, so the air pollution from idling engines can be avoided. Simply put, highways need to be smart and green.

In 2018, the Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) became the country’s first smart and green highway. The 135km six-lane highway that passes through the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh is lit by solar power and has provision for rainwater harvesting. Around 2.5 lakh trees line the periphery of the highway. Intelligent highway traffic management system (HTMS) and video incident detection system (VIDS) are other highlights.

All this aligns with the 2015 National Green Highways Policy. The initiative is towards the fulfillment of India’s commitment of voluntary carbon emissions reduction of up to 35 per cent by 2030. This is as per the United Nations Conference of Parties on Climate Change 21 (CoP 21 Summit). Though national highways are the lifeline of road infrastructure, it’s important to keep them green. National Green Highway projects are being encouraged to synergise road development and environment protection.

It would be nice if there will be eco-friendly roads made with recycled materials. While we do require roads for connectivity, it’s also important to keep the ecology intact. As the usage of plastic has been banned at the national level, this is the time when plastic waste needs to be put to good use. Rather than have them contaminating our oceans, it’s practical to recycle plastic waste and use it with asphalt for road construction.

A move has been made in this direction. JUSCO (Jamshedpur Utility and Services Company Limited), a 100 per cent subsidiary company of Tata Steel has combined plastic waste with bitumen technology to make 12-15km of road in the steel city of Jamshedpur, located in the state of Jharkhand. Let’s hope there are more green roads in the country. Large-scale commercialisation of green roads will generate employment and open out newer engineering innovations in road construction.

We continue on the eco-friendly trail, with a departure from road construction. One upcoming trend is that of self-sustaining Industrial Parks whose energy management extends to rainwater harvesting and solar panels. Many of them are poised to be manufacturing hubs and hence attract foreign direct investments.

Logistics parks are beginning to spring up in various states led by government-aid, private-public partnerships and national consortiums. What is important is that these parks are positioned as sustainable and green units that improve the transportation and warehousing industry activities. These parks are expected to handle various manufacturing aspects like the final assembly and labeling, along with packaging, distribution and disposal. Electric and emission-free vehicles, solar and renewable sources of energy are among the norms that will be followed by these upcoming logistics parks.

Source: By  Kavitha Srinivasa

No signs of global recession in next 12 months: BlackRock’s Fink

There are no signs that the global economy is sliding toward a recession in the next 12 months, BlackRock Inc’s Chief Executive Larry Fink said in remarks published on Saturday.

In an interview with German business daily Handelsblatt, Fink warned, however, that the global economy was in the late stage of a long growth cycle, suggesting that downturn was becoming more likely.

“I see no signs of a global recession in the coming 12 months,” said Fink, who leads the world’s largest asset manager.

“The central banks have loosened their policy above all because of the weak fourth quarter of 2018. We will go through a phase in which things are not great but also not bad.”

He added: “But we are naturally in a late phase of the economic growth cycle.”

The International Monetary Fund cut its global economic growth forecasts for 2019 this month and said growth could slow further due to unresolved trade disputes and the risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.

The global lender said some major economies, including China and Germany, might need to take short-term actions to prop up growth and that a severe downturn could require coordinated stimulus measures.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has ruled out taking on new debt to stimulate growth in Europe’s biggest economy, saying tax cuts, higher investments and a solid labor market will continue to provide growth impetus.

Source: By Joseph Nasr, Reuters

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