Monday, April 17, 2017

China Q1 growth at 6.9%; Saudi seeks 10% renewable energy; Older people and the 'wealth mountain'

1 China Q1 growth at 6.9% (San Francisco Chronicle) China's economic recovery is gaining momentum, with growth ticking up to a 6.9 percent annual pace in the first three months of the year, lifted by government stimulus and a property boom. The growth seen in January-March in the world's second-biggest economy was an improvement from the previous quarter's 6.8 percent pace and surpassed economists' forecasts.

China saw its slowest growth in nearly three decades in 2016. Policies aimed at tempering the slowdown included higher spending on construction of infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Relatively cheap credit spurred booming property sales. The official full-year economic growth target for 2017 is 6.5 percent.

During the first quarter, investment in fixed assets such as factories expanded 9.2 percent from a year earlier, while retail sales grew 10 percent. Industrial production rose 6.8 percent, including a stronger-than- expected 7.6 percent year-on-year gain in March. Economists say they expect the boost from the government's policies to persist for a few more months before fading later in the year.

2 Saudi seeks 10% renewable energy in six years (Gulf News) Saudi Arabia wants 10 per cent of its electricity to come from renewable sources within several years as part of a transformation in its power sector, the energy minister has said. Khalid Al Falih said his country, the world’s biggest oil exporter, will also sell renewable energy and its technology abroad.

At a forum seeking investment in the sector, he announced “30 projects to be implemented” in order to reach a goal of about 10 gigawatts of renewable energy production early next decade. Virtually all of the kingdom’s domestic power currently comes from crude, refined oil or natural gas.

But as part of an economic reform plan to wean the kingdom off oil, the government has embarked on what Al Falih called an “ambitious” renewables programme featuring solar and wind power. He has said the projects could cost between $30 billion and $50 billion. “The percentage of renewable energy by 2023 will represent 10 per cent of the total electricity of the kingdom,” he said.

Al Falih said the energy sector is being completely restructured to include an autonomous board of regulators, and with privatised generation capacity. He formally opened bids on the first 300-megawatt solar plant under the renewables plan. Government estimates say Saudi peak energy demand is expected to exceed 120 gigawatts by 2032.

3 Older people and the ‘wealth mountain’ (Phillip Inman in The Guardian) Property worth more than £400bn in the UK is set to cascade down from grandparents to younger generations in the coming decades, though only a minority of those under 45 are likely to benefit.

According to research by the insurers Royal London about 4 million of the 17 million people aged 25 to 44 are in the “fortunate position” of being in line to inherit from grandparents who have bought property. It found that among the grandparents, all of whom were homeowners, the typical estate expected to be left averaged between £400,000 and £500,000.

The “sandwich generation” of 45- to 64-year-olds were the most likely recipients of this wealth, the research found – but about half of grandparents also plan to pass on wealth directly to their grandchildren. And many people in the middle sandwich generation either want to pass on the inheritance or feel under pressure to hand it to their own adult children – the millennial generation.

A recent report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggested the amount of wealth that younger generations will end up with is more likely to hinge on how well off their parents are than was the case for older generations. The IFS warned that today’s young adults will find it harder to create their own wealth than previous generations, with implications for social mobility.

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