World Newsletter

FRONT PAGE NEWS
5 March 2020

GLOBAL GROWTH TO 'DIP BELOW' LAST YEAR'S RATE: IMF CHIEF

The new coronavirus epidemic poses a "serious threat" and will slow growth
in the world economy to below the 2.9 per cent posted last year, IMF chief
Kristalina Georgieva said Wednesday.
The COVID-19 outbreak "is no longer regional issue, it is a global problem
(that) calls for global response", Georgieva told reporters.
The epidemic's impact on confidence and steps to contain it are impacting
economic activity, with the result that "global growth in 2020 will dip
below last year's levels," she said.
The IMF in January forecast growth this year of 3.3 percent, which means at
least a half point will be lost to the virus.
But "how far it will fall and how long the impact will be is still difficult
to predict," she said.
Georgieva said the fund's analysis had assumed the virus would be largely
confined to China, which would have led to a sharp but short economic
slowdown, followed by a quick recovery.
"Unfortunately over past week we've seen a shift to a more adverse scenario
for the global economy," due to the "sheer geographic spread of the epidemic
around the world," impacting a third of the IMF's 189 member countries.
"We are determined to provide the necessary support to mitigate the impact,
especially on the most vulnerable people and countries," the statement from
the governing body, the IMFC, said.


JOE BIDEN WINS 9 STATES IN SUPER TUESDAY RACE; BLOOMBERG DROPS OUT

Super Tuesday, when fourteen American States voted in the Democratic
primaries, was a watershed moment in former Vice-President Joseph R. Biden
Jr.'s quest for the nomination, as he surpassed his progressive rival,
Bernie Sanders by winning strongly in the south.
The crowded democratic field has now been reshaped into a Biden vs. Sanders
contest, and battle of identity for the Democratic party - between its
centrist or moderate wing represented by the former Vice-President and its
progressive wing led by the independent Senator from Vermont, Mr. Sanders.
Tuesday, however, went to Mr. Biden, who won nine of the 14 States in
contest. Buoyed by a win in South Carolina on Saturday and with endorsements
from other Democrats, including Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, who
dropped out of the race in the last few days, Mr. Biden had won at least 418
delegates (so far) to the nominating convention, relative to Mr. Sanders's
count of 367 delegates.
Mr. Biden had a surprise win in Texas, the State with second most number of
delegates, which Mr. Sanders was leading in, according to opinion polls
before Super Tuesday. He also won Virginia, and North Carolina.
California, which has the most number of delegates (415), is expected to be
won by Mr. Sanders, although by a narrower margin than first expected. Mr.
Sanders has won 72 delegates relative to Mr. Biden's 21, with just under 80%
reporting, as per the Associated Press.


FRENCH PARLIAMENT CLEARS PATH FOR CONTROVERSIAL PENSION REFORM

France's lower house of parliament approved a hotly debated overhaul of the
country's byzantine pensions system early Wednesday, clearing a major hurdle
for one of President Emmanuel Macron's signature reforms.
The law passed shortly after midnight after two no-confidence votes
introduced by the opposition failed against Mr. Macron's centrist majority.
The attempt to topple the government came after it employed a rare
constitutional measure to cut short a debate that had become bogged down in
a morass of opposition amendments, effectively forcing through the bill.
Trade unions and opposition parties slammed the move as anti-democratic but
their calls for fresh protests against a bill that triggered the longest
French transport strike in decades fell largely on deaf ears.
Critics say the introduction of a single, points-based system will force
people to work well beyond the official retirement age of 62, or face lower
pensions.
The government argues that abolishing the country's 42 separate pension
regimes, which offer early retirement and other benefits mainly to
public-sector workers, will be fairer and end years of deficits.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe hailed the text as a victory for "social
justice", saying that "those who defend the status quo... too often are just
talking nonsense."
The text now goes to the Senate, where it is also expected to face
opposition, before returning to the National Assembly for final approval.


TORNADOES TEAR THROUGH US STATE OF TENNESSEE, AT LEAST 25 DEAD

Tornadoes ripped through Tennessee early on Tuesday, leaving at least 25
people dead, destroying buildings and toppling power lines hours before the
southern US state voted in Super Tuesday primaries.
Voting hours were extended due to the devastation the twisters wrought when
they touched down shortly after midnight-rubble was strewn across the state
capital Nashville.
Residents ran for their lives as their homes came down around them. Tens of
thousands lost power to their homes, officials said.
"TAKE COVER NOW! THIS IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS STORM!!!" the National
Weather Service tweeted as one tornado tore through an area west of
Nashville.
Television broadcast showed cars piled up, hangars destroyed and what
appeared to be dozens of aircraft smashed into each other at Nashville's
John C. Tune Airport.
The Nashville Police Department circulated aerial photographs of many
buildings missing roofs and homes destroyed-standing next to houses that
escaped damage.
"In the hours ahead, we will continue deploying search and rescue teams,
opening shelters across the state, and sending emergency personnel to our
communities hit hardest," Governor Bill Lee wrote on Twitter.
Lee said late Tuesday that the toll had risen to 25 during the day.

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