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The latest forecast from the IMF has brought some sunny news for those who are optimistic about the world economy. Global growth estimates have been raised for this year and next by 0.2 percentage points above last October’s forecast, and growth for 2017 registered higher than for any year since 2010 and 2011, the years of post-crisis recovery. These signs point to a tentative recovery.
But, warns Martin Wolf in his column, we would be foolish to celebrate without a dose of healthy scepticism. The two main reasons for the robust showing are highly supportive monetary policies (sustained by low inflation) and the absence of any recent negative shocks. While these factors might boost short-term growth and confidence, Martin says, they may not be enough to ward off longer-term risks.
Latent risks include the high level of debt held by governments and non-financial institutions, the rapid growth of crypto-assets and breaches in cyber security — not to mention the more obvious political threat to the world trading system emanating from the US. The recovery is real, Martin says, but so, alas, is its fragility.
US classroom rebellions: In an age of crushing student debt, school massacres and chronically underfunded public education, Simon Schama follows the protests against Donald Trump’s America all the way into the schools and colleges of the heartland states — West Virginia, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona — that supported the president in the 2016 election. This is now a debate, he observes, about the character of American life.
Overworked on Wall Street: Some at the boutique investment bank Moelis & Co have been slow to catch on to the vogue for flexible office hours and a healthy work-life balance, writes Brooke Masters. A leaked email revealed a mid-level banker berating his junior analysts at 12.30am: apparently, he had found only 11 of them at their desks at that hour. It was another example of Wall Street repeatedly failing to absorb the lesson that exhausted employees do not produce better results.
Commonwealth dreams turn sour: Just as Britain was gearing up to welcome the leaders of the Commonwealth nations in a festival of bunting and benevolence — and with an eye to enhancing a few post-Brexit trading partnerships — a political bombshell has wrecked the mood, observes Frederick Studemann. The UK government was forced to apologise for its “appalling” treatment of the “Windrush generation” of Commonwealth citizens who were threatened with deportation — not quite the beginning of the beautiful friendship that had been envisioned.
Best of the rest
France has many missions to carry out; it’s time to use innovation to complete them — Nicolas Colin in Le Monde
How much is an hour worth? The war over the minimum wage — Peter C Baker for the Guardian Long Read
A high-paying job? Go to app boot camp? — Tina Rosenberg in the New York Times
The shameful Windrush saga has struck fear into EU nationals’ hearts — Tanja Bueltmann in the Guardian
Solar energy is at risk — Varun Sivaram in the Washington Post
What you’ve been saying
Selective claims damage debate over artefacts— letter from Michael Savage
If we restitute identifiable objects, must we also make recompense for objects that were destroyed, and people enslaved and killed? And to whom should we restitute? Should the National Museum of Congo hold the best artefacts from 900,000 square miles of territory that has been home to myriad cultures? Or should it be restituting objects to local museums? These difficult questions are not really about law or history. They are about competing claims here and now. The questions about cultural authority and contextual meaning are hard, but they are more easily answered directly rather than hiding behind selective claims about historic wrongs.
Comment from Heir of the Kemal on The realities of Syria’s war remain unchanged by western strikes
Norms are not binary . . . Saddam Hussein placed chemical weapons release under his personal veto during the war with Iran. [This is a sign] of a normative effect. Without this normative effect, the sheer military efficiency that chemical weapons offer for counterinsurgency campaigns would have been taken much more advantage of by the Syrian regime, and possibly others in similar circumstances. Chemical weapons excel in urban combat against those without protection. Therefore there is still value in attempts to reinforce this international norm.
Good Friday pact did not innovate on identity— letter from Graham Gudgin
The Good Friday Agreement acts as a kind of blank sheet on to which people project liberal ideas and then stand back to admire its support for civil rights. Perhaps the most common of these projections is the claim that the agreement allows the people of Northern Ireland to identify as “Irish or British or both.” The GFA does say this, but it was not in any sense an innovation. People had been free to identify as they wished for decades.
Larry Summers’ blog: The boom in Puerto Rican debt has nothing to do with reality
Speculators reap windfalls as estimates of hurricane damage are revised up
Rebellion against Donald Trump’s US moves into the classroom
Crushing student debt, massacres and underfunded public education are causing fury
Iran deal at risk due to John Bolton’s extremism
EU efforts to preserve nuclear restraint agreement may not be enough
The global economic recovery is real but fragile
The IMF is optimistic in the short term, but long-term structural risks remain
Commonwealth dreams refuse to become reality
An event meant as a celebration started with an anguished Windrush apology
Britain’s electric car aspirations lag way behind Asia’s headstart
The UK’s quest to lead the world in battery technology is 20 years too late
Not all high-flyers are suited to life at the top
Few are good at management — and even fewer know when to quit
Wall Street still has lessons to learn about overworked staff
There is no evidence that the culture of long hours yields better results
Lex: Netflix: dearly loved
Equity cushion just became fatter after streaming service’s quarterly results
FT View: Abiy Ahmed has a chance to lift the lid on freedoms in Ethiopia
The new prime minister offers fresh hope of democratic reform
FT View: Emmanuel Macron’s call for reform and plea for democracy
A stronger financial system can help safeguard liberal values
The Big Read
The Big Read: Start-up republic: can Iran’s booming tech sector thrive?
Dependent on oil and bruised by sanctions, the Iranian economy needs new sources of jobs but some are wary of the growing role of technology companies
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