Tax avoidance by the world’s wealthiest people and largest companies is widespread. The excuse is that such avoidance is legal. Rich individuals and corporations look for jurisdictions that have low or no tax on personal or corporate income, on dividends, on capital or R&D expenditure. They base their business activities there, at least for the purposes of taxation.
After months of early NY Penn Station mornings trying to remember whether to get on the Amtrak north to New Haven or south to DC, I am thrilled to transition from incoming Chief Economist to Chief Economist. We have so many fascinating problems to tackle and I truly hope my experience and humble efforts will contribute to the Bank’s mission.
In 1997, Garry Kasparov, one of the greatest chess players in history, lost a chess match to a supercomputer called Deep Blue. Some years later Kasparov developed “advanced chess,” where a human and a computer team up to play against another human and computer. This mutation of chess is mutually beneficial: the human player has access to the computer’s ability to calculate moves, while the computer benefits from human intuition.
IT’S robots that mostly come to mind when you ask people about the future of work. Robots taking our jobs, to be specific. And it’s a reaction that’s two centuries old, in a replay of Lancashire weavers attacking looms and stocking frames at the start of the first Industrial Revolution. A secondary reaction, among a much smaller group, is the creation of new jobs in the coming fourth Industrial Revolution.
Professor Ed Glaeser at Harvard neatly summarizes this dichotomy in one figure:
Non-energy prices changed little as a 1.4 percent gain in beverages was balanced by a 2 percent loss in raw materials and a 1.1 percent decline in Fertilizers.
Metals prices gained 0.4 percent, led by nickel (+3 percent) and aluminum (+2 percent).
Precious metals prices lost 2.1 percent, led by a similar decline in gold.
The Pink Sheet is a monthly report that monitors commodity price movements.
Source: World Bank.
Trade unexpectedly rebounded in 2017, after a period of slow growth and despite recent uncertainty about trade policy. Growth in the volume of trade in goods and services jumped to 4.3 percent in 2017—the fastest rate in 6 years (Figure 1). The recovery was widespread, with the largest contributions to growth coming from East Asia and the Euro area. Data just released for the first quarter of 2018 suggests that the faster growth persists: merchandise trade volumes grew by 4.4 percent in the first quarter of 2018 relative to the first quarter of 2017. What explains these developments?
Chart 1: Commodity prices are forecast to rise across the board
The energy price index is anticipated to rise 20 percent in 2018, largely on strengthening of oil prices. The increase is a 16-percentage point upward revision from October 2017. Metal prices are projected to increase 9 percent in 2018 due to a further pickup in demand. Agricultural prices are forecast to gain more than 2 percent.
After a prolonged slowdown, investment growth in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) picked up to 4.5 percent in 2017, and is projected to accelerate to 5.2 percent in 2018 and 2019 (investment refers to real gross fixed capital formation, public and private combined). Yet projected investment growth is below its long-term (1990–2017) average, inhibited by political uncertainty, trade risks, and expectations of rising interest rates. This will likely limit potential output growth and delay per-capita income convergence between EMDEs and advanced economies.
Non-energy prices advanced 1.8 percent while agricultural prices increased 1.7 percent on higher prices for wheat (up 11 percent), rice and cocoa (4 percent rises each), soybean meal and tea (4 percent gains each). Fertilizer prices decreased 0.7 percent, led by a 5 percent drop in urea.
Metals prices gained 2.3 percent, led by gains in aluminum (up 9 percent) and nickel (4 percent rise).
Global inflation has been trending up over the last two years, but is still subdued despite a broad-based recovery in economic activity. The reasons for this include the lingering impact of the 2007-2009 financial crisis on price and wage formation in advanced economies, as well as downward pressures associated with rapid technological changes and foreign competition.