IMF says trade war hurting Asia and may cut global growth

Changyong Rhee is voicing a note of caution over trade friction between the US and China. (AFP)
Updated 18 December 2018
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IMF says trade war hurting Asia and may cut global growth

  • Global body says said Japan and South Korea could be among countries in the region hit hardest by the trade war between US and China.
  • Citing the potential fallout from the Sino-US trade war, the IMF cut its global growth forecast in October to 3.7 percent for both 2018 and 2019

TOKYO: Trade frictions between China and the United States are already affecting business confidence and investment in Asia, a senior International Monetary Fund official said, warning that the fund could further cut its global growth forecasts in January.
Changyong Rhee, director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, said Japan and South Korea could be among countries in the region hit hardest by the trade war given their reliance on exports to China.
“Investment is much weaker than expected. My interpretation is that the confidence channel is already affecting the global economy, particularly Asian economies,” Rhee told Reuters.
“We see global growth a little bit slower than we forecast in October,” he said on Monday.
Citing the potential fallout from the Sino-US trade war, the IMF cut its global growth forecast in October to 3.7 percent for both 2018 and 2019, down from 3.9 percent projected in July.
It expects Asia’s economic growth to slow to 5.4 percent next year from 5.6 percent projected this year.
Rhee said there was a chance the IMF could cut further its growth forecasts when it reviews them in January, given signs of slowdown not just in Asia but in Europe and the United States.
“Uncertainty is so large ... uncertainty means you have upside potential as well as downside risk. At this moment, we believe the downside risk is a little bit higher,” he said.
On China, Rhee said that it was not resorting to big-scale stimulus despite growing external headwinds, given the need to deal with long-term challenges such as curbing excess debt.
“They aren’t accelerating (stimulus) yet but taking the foot from the brake for the time being. But that doesn’t exclude the possibility that if the trade tension escalates, if growth goes down, they are ready to use stimulus,” he said.
“What we’re concerned and what we’re advising them is that the medium-term goals such as deleveraging are still important for financial stability,” Rhee added.
“So when they actually try to use stimulus, we hope they can use more fiscal policy rather than credit expansion.”


Google puts up $1B to ease housing headaches it helped cause

In this May 1, 2019, file photo, a woman walks past a Google sign in San Francisco. Google is making a $1 billion commitment to address the soaring price of housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, a problem that the internet company and its Silicon Valley peers helped create as the technology industry hired tens of thousands of high-paid workers. (AP)
Updated 19 June 2019
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Google puts up $1B to ease housing headaches it helped cause

  • A report by Working Partnerships called upon Google to build more than 17,000 homes in the area to help offset the anticipated price increases caused by the new campus

SAN FRANCISCO: Google is pouring $1 billion into easing the high-priced housing headaches that it and its Silicon Valley peers helped give the San Francisco Bay Area.
The pledge announced Tuesday by Google CEO Sundar Pichai consists of a $250 million investment fund and $750 million of company-owned land. It will be used to build at least 15,000 homes that will include low- and mid-income housing.
Google’s commitment eclipsed a recent $500 million pledge made by Microsoft to combat housing shortages in the Seattle area and a $500 million housing fund created by a consortium including Facebook.
Google is extending a helping hand as it draws up plans to expand into sprawling offices beyond its headquarters in Mountain View, California. That suburban city of roughly 80,000 people has been swamped with affluent tech workers since Google moved there shortly after its 1998 inception.
Since then, Google’s payroll has swelled from a few dozen workers to the more than 103,000 people now working for it and its corporate parent, Alphabet Inc. Nearly half of those workers are based in the Bay Area.
While Google has been expanding, so have a wide variety of other technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, Oracle, Salesforce and Netflix — all of whom also lavish their workers with six-figure salaries and stock options that can yield multimillion-dollar windfalls.
The high incomes have resulted in bidding wars for the limited supply of homes in the Bay Area that can only be afforded by the affluent, a group increasingly dominated by tech workers, while people employed in other lines of work struggle to make ends meet on more modest incomes.
That is making it impossible for people on the lower end of the economic spectrum to buy a home in the Bay Area, where a mid-priced house sold for $990,000 in April, according to the California Association of Realtors, a trade group. In 1999, a mid-priced home sold for $308,000.
It’s even worse in San Francisco, a city from which many tech workers ride company buses to the Silicon Valley suburbs. A mid-priced house in San Francisco sold for nearly $1.7 million in April, according to the realtors’ group, quadruple the price of 20 years ago.
Google’s next big project will be in the Bay Area’s most populous city, San Jose, where it plans to build a corporate campus consisting of offices and housing where 15,000 to 20,000 of its employees will work and live.
The project faced resistance from community activists worried about its effect on housing prices. Last week, a report by Working Partnerships called upon Google to build more than 17,000 homes in the area to help offset the anticipated price increases caused by the new campus. The report by the labor-union backed labor group envisions apartment rent increases of $235 million by 2030 if action isn’t taken.
“For several months, we have encouraged Google to make a bold commitment to address our region’s affordable housing challenge,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement applauding the company’s $1 billion pledge.