Tuesday, October 4, 2016

IMF warns of hit to UK growth; Pound at 31-year low; The great Pacific garbage patch

1 IMF warns of hit to UK growth (Andrew Walker on BBC) The International Monetary Fund has cut its forecast for UK economic growth next year as it warned that the global recovery remains "weak and precarious". Although the IMF raised its prediction for UK GDP growth this year to 1.8%, the figure for 2017 was cut to 1.1%.

Its assumptions are based on "smooth post-Brexit negotiations and a limited increase in economic barriers". The IMF's latest World Economic Outlook predicts "subpar" global growth this year of 3.1%, rising slightly in 2017.

A fall in US growth this year to 1.6%, down from the previous 2.2% forecast, will be offset by increases in countries including Japan, Germany and Russia and India, the IMF said.Economists for Brexit, a group of eight influential economists which supported the Leave campaign ahead of the EU referendum, criticised the IMF's forecasts arguing their pre-Brexit forecasts had already been proven wrong.
Weak growth can lead to lower investment, slower productivity growth and the erosion of what the IMF calls "human capital" - which means skills and expertise.

2 Pound hits 31-year low (Khaleej Times) Sterling slid to its lowest in more than three decades on Tuesday on fears of a "hard Brexit" from the European Union and its single market that could hurt the economy, although the weaker pound sent UK stocks surging.

The pound has already lost 1.7 per cent against the US dollar since Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday the formal process to take Britain out of the EU will start by the end of March 2017. On Tuesday, she added the divorce from the EU will not be "plain sailing" and that there would be "bumps in the road".

Economic activity has held up better than many had expected since Britons voted in a June referendum to leave the EU, but many policymakers are anxious about the prospects for future investment. The Bank of England launched a big stimulus package in August and may ease policy again in coming months, which could drag the pound still lower.

3 The great Pacific garbage patch (Oliver Milman in The Guardian) The vast patch of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean is far worse than previously thought, with an aerial survey finding a much larger mass of fishing nets, plastic containers and other discarded items than imagined.

A reconnaissance flight taken in a modified C-130 Hercules aircraft found a vast clump of mainly plastic waste at the northern edge of what is known as the “great Pacific garbage patch”, located between Hawaii and California.

The density of rubbish was several times higher than the Ocean Cleanup, a foundation part-funded by the Dutch government to rid the oceans of plastics, expected to find even at the heart of the patch, where most of the waste is concentrated.

The heart of the garbage patch is thought to be around 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles), with the periphery spanning a further 3.5m sq km (1,351,000 sq miles). The dimensions of this morass of waste are continually morphing, caught in one of the ocean’s huge rotating currents. The north Pacific gyre has accumulated a soup of plastic waste, including large items and smaller broken-down micro plastics that can be eaten by fish and enter the food chain.

The full scale of plastic pollution was revealed in 2014, when a study found there were more than 5tn pieces of plastic floating in our oceans. In 2014, 311m tonnes of plastic were produced around the world, a 20-fold increase since 1964. It is expected to quadruple again by mid-century.

A report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation earlier this year predicted there would be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050 unless urgent action was taken.

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