The last quarter of 2015 saw the proportion of people in jobs in the OECD area return to the peak level hit in the first quarter of 2008. However, employment rates are not back to pre-crisis levels in many countries. including the US, Spain, Italy and France.
The 2015-16 El Niño episode has been either the most or one of the most intense on record, depending on which measure you use.
Going on sea surface temperatures alone, the latest El Niño narrowly edges out 1997-98, the previous strongest. Temperatures in the Niño 3.4 region of the Pacific Ocean — the most commonly used of the regions scientists measure for signs of an developing El Niño or La Niña conditions — peaked at 2.37°C above the long term trend in November 2015, just ahead of the 2.33°C mark reached in 1997. Read more
Counterfeit and pirated goods represented a value of more than $460bn in 2013, similar to the GDP of Austria. Almost 20 per cent of the value seized products refers to intellectual property of holders registered in the US, then Italy with 15 per cent.
A survey of leading European economists has put the probability of the UK voting to leave the EU at 41.3 per cent. The experts also believe that a British exit could trim half a percentage point off growth over the next two years
Some 77 per cent of the population in Northern Ireland reports high or very high happiness levels, 4 percentage points higher than the national average. A smaller proportion is happy in London and the north of England
The proportion of ‘materially deprived’ people in the EU and eurozone fell in 2015. But it continued to rise in Greece, where a record 22 per cent cannot afford unexpected expenses, enough heating or a week’s holiday abroad.
Commodities prices are generally falling but lithium spot price tripled in the past year, driven by demand for batteries used in electric cars and devices. Read more
PSG are so far ahead of their domestic rivals that manager Laurent Blanc has been able to field weakened sides ahead of big Champions League matches at a rate unmatched by any other quarter-finalist, ensuring that his strongest side has been as well-rested as possible. Read more
The IMF now expects advanced countries to grow at a lower rate in 2016 than was forecast a year ago. The US and Japan had the biggest downward growth revisions, at minus 07 percentage points, but prospects are brighter for Spain.
Japan is embarked on a demographic transition without precedent in human history, the OECD has warned, with its population both declining and ageing rapidly.
In 2050 the share of over 65s will hit 40%, the highest in the world. Read more
Walnut prices in the European Union have fallen by 20 per cent year-on-year as a result of a global supply glut, despite soaring consumption by health-conscious consumers.
EU production is expected to rise by 5 per cent year-on-year to reach 117,000 tonnes for the 2015-16 season. This was intended to meet demand from the EU which has risen, up 2 per cent year-on-year, driven by a buoyant snack industry as consumers become more aware of the health benefits of walnuts with their high nutrient content. Read more
Guest post by Eswar Prasad and Karim Foda
The world economy continues to be beset by mediocre growth, hesitant or impotent policy actions by national governments, and a dearth of confidence among households and businesses. The worst may be over but after yet another year of tepid growth in 2015 the world economy in 2016 faces the unsettling prospect of more of the same—at best. Read more
The US minimum wage, as a proportion of average wages, fell to an all time low in 2005, at just 28 per cent. Plans to lift it to $15 an hour would represent a minimum wage of over 60 per cent of current average earnings
Gun ownership in the US is at its lowest point since record began, according to research from NORC at the University of Chicago.
Their General Social Survey, which NORC has been running since 1972, has found that in 2014 less than a third of Americans owned a firearm or lived with someone who does, compared with about half the population in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Read more
Hosts India squeezed into the semi-finals of the ongoing ICC Twenty20 World Cup largely thanks to a sensational innings from their star batsman Virat Kohli, who hit 82 off 51 balls, without losing his wicket, to take India past Australia and eliminate their opponents in the process.
In doing so he scored more than half of all India’s runs for the match — having almost managed the same two games earlier, scoring 46 per cent of the team’s total in another crucial win, this time against Pakistan. Read more
Pollsters should be more transparent about their methodology and more quizzical about people’s intention to vote, a wide-ranging review of last year’s election polling disaster has recommended – as well as suggesting that Britain needs fewer, but better, political polls.
Polling companies were left embarrassed last year by the surprise Conservative election win, which none of them had accurately predicted. Polls showed Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck in the run-up to the vote last May, but on the night the Tories won an outright majority with a lead of 7 percentage points in the popular vote. Read more
Experts pinpoint why online polls and those made by phone show wide discrepancy Read more
The market is unconvinced about the Federal Reserve’s interest rate projections released this month. At the end of 2018 policymakers see the Fed funds rate at 3 per cent, though the market sees it at 1.1 per cent
England’s Premier League is enjoying one of its most competitive seasons for years, but at the same time the league is without a club in Europe’s top 10 for the first time in 20 years.
The interplay between competitive balance and outright quality of football is a complex one, and depending on who you talk to, different levels of importance are placed on each when it comes to talk of which league is the best. Read more