How great was the global economy in the first quarter?
We know the US economy was crummy. The revised GDP estimate will likely sink into red mire. Hence the heated proposals these days, including at the Fed, to apply “a second round of seasonal adjustment” that would “correct” the first-quarter GDP estimate, no matter how bad, into positive territory. An elegant way of covering up an unsightly sore.
So was it just a crummy quarter in the US, or was it a global thing, in which case we might have to apply a “second round of” whatever to adjust the global downturn out of the picture?
Because here is the thing: in the first quarter, one of the crucial measures of the global economy – global trade – slumped the most since the Financial Crisis. But ironically, it wasn’t because of the USA.
The CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, a division of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, just released its latest Merchandise World Trade Monitor, which covers global import volumes as well as global export volumes. The index dropped 0.1% in March to 136.5, after having already dropped 0.7% in February, and 1.7% in January. The index, which was set at 100 in 2005, is now down 2.5% from the peak of 140.0 in December. That 3.5-point decline was the sharpest since the Financial Crisis.
Meeting the 2015 international hunger targets: taking stock of uneven progress.
This year´s annual State of Food Insecurity in the World report takes stock of progress made towards achieving the internationally established Millennium Development Goal (MDG1) and World Food Summit hunger targets and reflects on what needs to be done, as we transition to the new post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. The report reviews progress made since 1990 for every country and region as well as for the world as a whole.
Progress towards the MDG 1 target, however, is assessed not only by measuring undernourishment, or hunger, but also by a second indicator – the prevalence of underweight children under five yearsof age. Progress for the two indicators across regions and over time, is compared, providing insights into the complexity of food security.
Overall progress not with standing, much work remains to be done to eradicate hunger and achieve food security across all its dimensions. The 2015 report not only estimates the progress already achieved, but also identifies remaining problems, and provides guidanceon which policies should be emphasized in the future. Key factors that have determined success to date towards food security and nutrition goals are identified. The list of factors – economic growth,agricultural productivity growth, markets (including international trade) and social protection – is by no means exhaustive. The report also shows how protracted crises, due to conflict or natural disasters, have deleterious effects on progress in hunger reduction.
The number of hungry people globally has declined from about one billion 25 years ago to about 795 million today, or about one person out of every nine, despite a surge in population growth, the United Nations reported Wednesday.
In developing regions, the number of hungry people has fallen to 780 million today, or 12.9 percent of the population, from 991 million 25 years ago, or 23.3 percent of the population at the time, according to the United Nations’ annual hunger report, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Program.
Despite the finding that nearly 800 million people in the world remain hungry, the report described the progress made as a significant achievement.
It said that 72 of the 129 nations monitored by the Food and Agriculture Organization had achieved the target under the so-called Millennium Development Goals of halving the percentages of hungry people in their populations and that developing regions had missed the target by only a small margin. The Millennium Development Goals are a set of eight international objectives, including hunger eradication, established by the United Nations in 2000.
ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The number of hungry people worldwide has declined to 795 million, a decrease of 167 million in the past decade, three U.N. agencies announced on Wednesday.
Despite population growth, fewer people are hungry today than at anytime in the last two decades, including 10 million fewer than last year, according to the “State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015″ report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
By the numbers:
– People who don’t have enough food in 2015: 795 million
– People who didn’t have enough food in 2014: 805 million
– Decrease in number of hungry people worldwide since 1990: 216 million
– Number of developing countries that reached the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of reducing hunger by half since 1990: 72
– Number of developing countries that didn’t: 57
– Number of people in developed countries who don’t have enough food: 15 million
– Number of African countries facing food crises in 1990: 12
– Number of African countries facing food crises in 2015: 24
– Number of hungry people in Asia in 1990: 742 million
– Number of hungry people in Asia in 2015: 512 million
– Percentage of South Americans who are hungry: Less than 5
– Percentage of Sub-Saharan Africans who are hungry: 23.2
(Reporting By Chris Arsenault; Editing By Leslie Gevirtz)
The second half of the 1960s was a boom time for nightmarish visions of what lay ahead for humankind. In 1966, for example, a writer named Harry Harrison came out with a science fiction novel titled “Make Room! Make Room!” Sketching a dystopian world in which too many people scrambled for too few resources, the book became the basis for a 1973 film about a hellish future, “Soylent Green.” In 1969, the pop duo Zager and Evans reached the top of the charts with a number called “In the Year 2525,” which postulated that humans were on a clear path to doom.
No one was more influential — or more terrifying, some would say — than Paul R. Ehrlich, a Stanford University biologist. His 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” sold in the millions with a jeremiad that humankind stood on the brink of apocalypse because there were simply too many of us. Dr. Ehrlich’s opening statement was the verbal equivalent of a punch to the gut: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over.”
He later went on to forecast that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s, that 65 million of them would be Americans, that crowded India was essentially doomed, that odds were fair “England will not exist in the year 2000.” Dr. Ehrlich was so sure of himself that he warned in 1970 that “sometime in the next 15 years, the end will come.” By “the end,” he meant “an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity.”
As you may have noticed, England is still with us. So is India. Hundreds of millions did not die of starvation in the ’70s. Humanity has managed to hang on, even though the planet’s population now exceeds seven billion, double what it was when “The Population Bomb” became a best-seller and its author a frequent guest of Johnny Carson’s on “The Tonight Show.” How the apocalyptic predictions fell as flat as ancient theories about the shape of the Earth is the focus of this installment of Retro Report, a series of video documentaries examining significant news stories of the past and their aftermath.
After the passage of 47 years, Dr. Ehrlich offers little in the way of a mea culpa. Quite the contrary. Timetables for disaster like those he once offered have no significance, he told Retro Report, because to someone in his field they mean something “very, very different” from what they do to the average person. The end is still nigh, he asserted, and he stood unflinchingly by his 1960s insistence that population control was required, preferably through voluntary methods. But if need be, he said, he would endorse “various forms of coercion” like eliminating “tax benefits for having additional children.” Allowing women to have as many babies as they wanted, he said, is akin to letting everyone “throw as much of their garbage into their neighbor’s backyard as they want.”