Pandemic could push 115 mn into extreme poverty in 2020: World Bank

Pandemic could push 115 mn into extreme poverty in 2020: World Bank
In this file photo a woman sells tickets for the Thai national lottery on a street in Bangkok on September 15, 2020. As many as 115 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty this year due to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the World Bank warned on October 7, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 07 October 2020

Pandemic could push 115 mn into extreme poverty in 2020: World Bank

Pandemic could push 115 mn into extreme poverty in 2020: World Bank
  • This is higher than the bank previously estimated, even as recently as August, when the worst case was put at 100 million

WASHINGTON: As many as 115 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty this year due to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the World Bank warned Wednesday.
That is a devastating reversal after decades of progress, and higher than the bank previously estimated, even as recently as August, when the worst case was put at 100 million.
And the bank’s new report estimates that by 2021, 150 million could be living below the extreme poverty threshold of less than $1.90 a day.
“The pandemic and global recession may cause over 1.4 percent of the world’s population to fall into extreme poverty,” World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement.
If the pandemic had not struck, the global extreme poverty rate was expected to fall to 7.9 percent, but now could climb as high as 9.4 percent, the bank said in its flagship report.
World Bank economists say the dire estimates for new victims of poverty this year, which range from 88 million to 115 million, depend on the outlook for the global economy, which the Washington-based crisis lender estimates range from a contraction of five percent to eight percent in the worst case scenario.
That would erode years of success in reducing extreme poverty, and the authors warn create “poverty hotspots” in areas that face a double-hit from economic crisis and conflict: more than 40 percent of the poor live in conflict-affected areas.
The research also finds a rising share of those living in extreme poverty are in urban areas, which threatens to overwhelm existing support programs that are designed for rural populations.
Instead of achieving the goal of eradicating poverty by 2030, the convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the pressures of conflict and climate change will put the goal “beyond reach without swift, significant and substantial policy action,” the World Bank said, warning that the global poverty rate could be about seven percent in the next decade.
“In order to reverse this serious setback to development progress and poverty reduction, countries will need to prepare for a different economy post-COVID, by allowing capital, labor, skills, and innovation to move into new businesses and sectors,” Malpass said.
The bank said the policy response must be commensurate with the severity of the crisis, including modernizing education and online learning and deploying new technology to expand the reach of social protection programs.
“Failure to act comprehensively and urgently will create even bigger challenges in the future,” the authors warned.
Looking at a broader definition of poverty, the report found that close to a quarter of the world’s population lives below the $3.20 line and more than 40 percent — almost 3.3 billion people — live below the $5.50 line.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains the epicenter of the problem, and could see an additional 40 million people fall into extreme poverty this year, and move closer to 500 million next year, according to the report.
And climate change will drive 68 million to 135 million into poverty by 2030, with Sub-Saharan Africa again the most vulnerable.
Latin America could see an increase of five million in the worst case scenario, and East Asia an additional nine million. The report does not include estimates for South Asia given the lack of data from India.


GM teams up with Microsoft on driverless cars

GM teams up with Microsoft on driverless cars
Updated 39 min 54 sec ago

GM teams up with Microsoft on driverless cars

GM teams up with Microsoft on driverless cars
  • Auto companies have been joining forces and bringing technology firms on board to try to spread out enormous costs
SILVER SPRING, Maryland: General Motors is teaming up with Microsoft to accelerate its rollout of electric, self-driving cars.
In the partnership announced Tuesday, the companies said Microsoft’s Azure cloud and edge computing platform would be used to “commercialize its unique autonomous vehicle solutions at scale.”
Microsoft joins General Motors, Honda and other institutional investors in a combined new equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise, bringing its valuation to about $30 billion. Cruise, which GM bought in 2016, has been a leader in driverless technology and got the go-ahead from California late last year to test its automated vehicles in San Francisco without backup drivers.
Auto companies have been joining forces and bringing technology firms on board to try to spread out the enormous costs — and by nature, risks — of developing self-driving and electric vehicles.
Honda is in on the Cruise project with GM, Volkswagen and Ford have teamed up with Pittsburgh autonomous vehicle company Argo AI, and Hyundai joined with Fiat Chrysler last summer in a deal to use Waymo’s driverless car technology.
Toyota and Uber are also working together, while Amazon skipped over the automaker part of the equation and last summer bought self-driving technology company Zoox, which is developing an autonomous vehicle for a ride-hailing service.
Mass adoption of driverless vehicles — and profits — are still a ways off, said industry analyst Sam Abuelsamid of Guidehouse Insights.
“The reality is that the automated driving landscape is taking much longer to mature that had been anticipated a few years ago,” Abuelsamid said. “It’s probably going to be mid-decade before we start to see significant volumes of these vehicles.”
Abuelsamid added that the importance of adding a company like Microsoft to the mix is its cloud computing power and the ability to analyze data from the vehicles to improve the technology.
“Microsoft is a great addition to the team as we drive toward a future world of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Microsoft will help us accelerate the commercialization of Cruise’s all-electric, self-driving vehicles and help GM realize even more benefits from cloud computing as we launch 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025 and create new businesses and services to drive growth.”
General Motors has been aggressively revamping its image, saying the industry has reached a history-changing inflection point for mass adoption of electric vehicles. The 112-year-old Detroit automaker this month unveiled a new corporate logo to signify its new direction as it openly pivots to electric vehicles. It wants to be seen as a clean vehicle company, rather than a builder of cloud-spewing gas-powered pickups and SUVs.
GM scrapped its old square blue logo for a lower-case gm surrounded by rounded corners and an ‘m’ that looks like an electrical plug.