1 Eurozone joblessness at record high (Katie Allen in The Guardian) Official figures showed eurozone unemployment hit a new high last month with young people again the hardest hit – almost one in four are now out of work. Unemployment in the crisis-stricken currency bloc rose to 12.2% for April, according to Eurostat, the statistics office of the EU. At 24.4%, youth unemployment was double the wider jobless rate and up from 24.3% in March. The problem was most extreme in Greece where almost two-thirds of those under-25 are unemployed. The rate was 62.5% in February, the most recently available data.
The numbers come days after eurozone leaders unveiled plans to get more young people into work as they faced warnings about the risks of civil unrest, long-term economic costs and fears that a generation could lose faith in the European project.
While France and Germany responded to growing anger at youth unemployment this week with a new jobs plan, labour market experts warn that any measures will take time to turn the tide after 24 consecutive monthly rises in the jobless level. Economists say things will get worse before they get better for the 19.4 million people in the eurozone out of work.
In the wider EU area unemployment stood at 11%, as the rate rose in all but nine countries compared with a year earlier. The biggest rises in overall joblessness on a year ago were in Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal. Youth unemployment in Spain is 56.4%, in Portugal 42.5%. Italy recorded its highest overall unemployment rate since records began in 1977, at 12%, with youth joblessness at 40.5%. Economists said that the rise in unemployment was fairly broad-based with rises in so-called core countries as well, including Belgium and the Netherlands. The rate in France was 11%.
Annual capital investment growth slowed to 3.5% in the first three months of 2013, down from 4.5% year-on-year in the previous quarter. Meanwhile, complex business regulations are often blamed for driving foreign companies away. Foreign direct investment into India has fallen, while the amount of corporate money leaving the country is on the rise.
3 Virus from Middle East threat to world (Johannesburg Times) The World Health Organisation has branded the SARS-like virus that has killed 27 people - mainly in Saudi Arabia - as a threat to the entire world. The warning came as a new study showed that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus may have an incubation period - the time between infection and symptoms - of nine to 12 days, longer than the one-to-nineday period previously observed.
The disease is a cousin of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which sparked a global health scare in 2003 when it leapt from animals to humans in Asia and killed about 800 people. WHO's director-general, Margaret Chan, said the virus was her greatest health concern. WHO said the global death toll from the virus had risen to 27, after three patients died in Saudi Arabia in addition to the death in France.
4 India’s bickering opposition (Neeta Lal in Khaleej Times) If India’s opposition BJP has failed spectacularly at the national level, the other opposition outfits have done no better. The Left, which was a formidable force earlier as a UPA ally (till it broke ranks with it in 2008), has all but dismantled. Its credibility has eroded further after its defeat in its two stronghold states — West Bengal and Kerala.
The Samajwadi Party, the Trinamool Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are busy fighting turf battles. Have they forgotten that they are in the government or supporting it from outside? Down south, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham or DMK was a part of the government till very recently. But it pulled out on grounds which seem whimsical at best, and hardly underscore its respect for ethics.
The BSP, whose trump card has been Dalit uplift, did little to promote that cause in Uttar Pradesh when it was in power for five long years. The Samajwadi Party, which came to power on the anti-incumbency factor against the Dalit leader Mayawati with an earnest young chief minister, has also been a flop show with its disregard for addressing the state’s governance deficit.
The Indian Constitution mandates that coalition parties and the opposition become integral to the governance procedure to strengthen the nation. Unfortunately, all they’re doing is bicker, play vendetta politics and make the UPA seem angelic in comparison!
5 Bleak future for ageing Chinese (Tom Orlik & Olivia Geng in The Wall Street Journal) China's elderly are poor, sick and depressed in alarming numbers, according to the first large-scale survey of those over 60, an immense challenge for Beijing and one of the greatest long-term vulnerabilities of the Chinese economy.
The survey of living conditions for China's 185 million elderly paints a bleak picture that defies the efforts of the government to build what it calls a "harmonious society," one dedicated to human welfare rather than simply economic growth. Of the generation that built China's economic boom, 22.9% — or 42.4 million — live in poverty with consumption of less than 3,200 yuan a year ($522).
The fear of being old and poor, which prompts many Chinese to stash away their earnings, also cuts against another of Beijing's priorities: to rebalance the economy toward stronger consumption.