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World's Economic Recovery Gets Delayed by Slow Vaccine Rollouts – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The world economy is facing a tougher start to 2021 than expected as coronavirus infections surge and it takes time to roll out vaccinations.

While global growth is still on course to rebound from the recession of last year, it may take longer to ignite and not be as healthy as previously forecast. The World Bank already this month trimmed its prediction to 4% in 2021 and the International Monetary Fund will this week update its own outlook.

Double-dip recessions are now expected in Japan, the euro area and U.K. as restrictions to curb the virus’s spread are enforced. Record cases in the U.S. are dragging on retail spending and hiring, prompting President Joe Biden’s new administration to seek an extra $1.9 trillion worth of fiscal stimulus.

Only China has managed a V-shaped recovery after containing the disease early, but even there consumers remain wary with Beijing partly locked down.

High frequency indicators tracked by Bloomberg Economics point to a troubling start to the year with advanced economies beginning on a weak note and emerging economies diverging.

“That’s a reflection of the hard reality that, ahead of widespread distribution of the vaccine, a return to normality is an unlikely prospect,” said Tom Orlik, chief economist at Bloomberg Economics.

It’s a stark outlook facing policy makers after $12 trillion worth of fiscal support and trillions in central bank money printing failed to cement a recovery. Those from the Federal Reserve meet this week.

Market Optimism

Even as the economic outlook has darkened as the weeks of 2021 ticked by, financial markets have continued to rally on optimism government stimulus and the vaccine roll out will drive a recovery. Global stocks hit an all-time high last week.

The unevenness is likely to feature in remarks by global leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping, his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others who will speak at an online event the World Economic Forum is holding from Jan. 25 to Jan. 29 instead of its usual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

The U.S., Britain and European Union are delivering vaccines, setting up a scenario where some parts of the world reach herd immunity while others lag, hurting poorer economies.

“While there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is still a long and difficult road ahead before we are out,” said Erik Nielsen, group chief economist at Unicredit SpA. “So long as the pandemic terrorizes part of the world, normality will not be restored anywhere.”

The optimistic outlook rests on authorities getting the vaccine out on a material scale by mid-year and neutering the threat of more transmissible variants of the virus. The ongoing provision of easy monetary policy and hope that governments won’t pull back their support prematurely as some did after the financial crisis should also assist.

Lockdowns and other restrictions on movement also appear to be having less of a detrimental economic impact this time than last year as consumers and business have found ways to adapt. And China’s lead in the global recovery shows what’s possible once the virus is controlled.

“The first quarter will be worse than we had thought,” said Shaun Roache, Asia Pacific chief economist at S&P Global Ratings in Singapore. “But we see a delayed, not derailed recovery.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Biodiversity and the circular economy | Greenbiz – GreenBiz

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Making its way to the top of global agendas and the bottom of balance sheets, biodiversity recently has risen through the ranks of planetary priorities. As a result, I’ve noticed a growing number of organizations calling to connect the dots between the circular economy and biodiversity, so I thought it worthwhile to consider their relationship — one that I instinctively felt to be a bit of a stretch. 

Although fundamentally aligned in their overlapping aims to address resource extraction, water scarcity, energy generation, toxicity and climate change, in practice circular economy strategies and biodiversity preservation seem to be one step removed. 

For example, repairing or reselling a pair of jeans does not directly preserve biodiversity. But done at scale, product life extension and keeping materials in use for as long as possible does reduce the need to extract the same quantity of natural resources, and therefore reduces the strain on our ecosystems. The same can be said for climate change mitigation, given that climate change contributes to 11 to 16 percent of biodiversity loss, and circular economy strategies can reduce carbon emissions

A central aim of the circular economy is to curb the extraction of finite resources and to regenerate living systems — two strategies that support the preservation of biological diversity, but only if they are done right. 

No one framework or priority is intended to stand alone or address every problem in the world.

As companies champion the $7.7 trillion potential of the bioeconomy by 2030, a gradual move away from nonrenewable (and often petroleum-based) inputs has made manufacturers and materials scientists alike turn to bio-based materials as ideal inputs to more circular systems.

One example is the nuances of bioplastics, which are often produced through monoculture farming in deforested areas and use synthetic fertilizer. This actively decreases biodiversity and contributes to the 90 percent of biodiversity loss created by the way that we extract and process materials, fuels and food. 

I think the Dutch consultancy Circle Economy posed the question best: “You need biodiversity for a circular economy, but do you need a circular economy for biodiversity?” 

Personally, I don’t care. Connecting the dots between biodiversity and circularity isn’t necessarily additive, although it certainly can’t hurt.

Whether a company’s primary lens is sustainability, regeneration, net-zero, biodiversity, the circular economy or something else, what matters most is an aligned orientation of these solution sets to make sure we’re moving in the right direction. Neither the circular economy nor biodiversity preservation are ends unto themselves. These are means to move us towards a clean and resilient economy, equitable and prosperous communities and a healthy planet. 

No one framework or priority is intended to stand alone or address every problem in the world. 

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Biodiversity and the circular economy | Greenbiz – GreenBiz

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Making its way to the top of global agendas and the bottom of balance sheets, biodiversity recently has risen through the ranks of planetary priorities. As a result, I’ve noticed a growing number of organizations calling to connect the dots between the circular economy and biodiversity, so I thought it worthwhile to consider their relationship — one that I instinctively felt to be a bit of a stretch. 

Although fundamentally aligned in their overlapping aims to address resource extraction, water scarcity, energy generation, toxicity and climate change, in practice circular economy strategies and biodiversity preservation seem to be one step removed. 

For example, repairing or reselling a pair of jeans does not directly preserve biodiversity. But done at scale, product life extension and keeping materials in use for as long as possible does reduce the need to extract the same quantity of natural resources, and therefore reduces the strain on our ecosystems. The same can be said for climate change mitigation, given that climate change contributes to 11 to 16 percent of biodiversity loss, and circular economy strategies can reduce carbon emissions

A central aim of the circular economy is to curb the extraction of finite resources and to regenerate living systems — two strategies that support the preservation of biological diversity, but only if they are done right. 

No one framework or priority is intended to stand alone or address every problem in the world.

As companies champion the $7.7 trillion potential of the bioeconomy by 2030, a gradual move away from nonrenewable (and often petroleum-based) inputs has made manufacturers and materials scientists alike turn to bio-based materials as ideal inputs to more circular systems.

One example is the nuances of bioplastics, which are often produced through monoculture farming in deforested areas and use synthetic fertilizer. This actively decreases biodiversity and contributes to the 90 percent of biodiversity loss created by the way that we extract and process materials, fuels and food. 

I think the Dutch consultancy Circle Economy posed the question best: “You need biodiversity for a circular economy, but do you need a circular economy for biodiversity?” 

Personally, I don’t care. Connecting the dots between biodiversity and circularity isn’t necessarily additive, although it certainly can’t hurt.

Whether a company’s primary lens is sustainability, regeneration, net-zero, biodiversity, the circular economy or something else, what matters most is an aligned orientation of these solution sets to make sure we’re moving in the right direction. Neither the circular economy nor biodiversity preservation are ends unto themselves. These are means to move us towards a clean and resilient economy, equitable and prosperous communities and a healthy planet. 

No one framework or priority is intended to stand alone or address every problem in the world. 

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US adds a strong 379000 jobs in hopeful sign for economy – constructconnect.com – Daily Commercial News

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WASHINGTON — U.S. employers added a robust 379,000 jobs last month, the most since October and a sign that the economy is strengthening as confirmed viral cases drop, consumers spend more and states and cities ease business restrictions.

The February gain marked a sharp pickup from the 166,000 jobs that were added in January and the loss of 306,000 in December. Yet it represents just a fraction of the roughly 9.6 million jobs that the economy needs to regain to return to pre-pandemic levels.

The pickup in hiring lowered the unemployment rate from 6.3 per cent to 6.2 per cent, the Labor Department said in its monthly jobs report. That is down dramatically from the 14.8 per cent jobless rate of April of last year, just after the virus erupted in the United States. But it’s well above the pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 3.5 per cent.

Stock prices surged on the news of solid job growth, a day after Wall Street suffered deep losses on fears that inflation and interest rates could soon be headed higher.

One year after the pandemic triggered a violent recession, economists are increasingly optimistic that hiring will accelerate in the coming months as Americans seize the opportunity to once again travel, shop, attend sporting events and visit movie theatres and restaurants. Households as a whole have accumulated a huge pile of savings after having slashed spending on those services. Much of that money is expected to be spent once most people feel comfortable about going out.

The report showed that the nation’s job growth is still being driven by a steady recovery of bars, restaurants and other leisure and hospitality establishments. Bars and restaurants, in particular, snapped back last month, adding 286,000 jobs as business restrictions eased in California and other states. That trend will likely continue as Texas joined some other states in announcing that it would fully reopen its economy with no restrictions.

Also hiring last month were retailers, which added 41,000 jobs, health care companies with 46,000 and manufacturers with 21,000. On the other hand, construction companies shed 61,000 jobs, likely in part because of the severe storms and power outages in Texas.

The strong jobs report, by suggesting that the economy is on the mend, could complicate President Joe Biden’s push for his $1.9 trillion economic rescue package, which is being considered by the Senate after winning approval in the House. The Biden package would provide, among other things, $1,400 checks to most adults, an additional $400 in weekly unemployment aid and another round of aid to small businesses.

One discouraging note in the February data is that last month’s net job growth came entirely from people who reported that their layoffs had been temporary. By contrast, the number of people who said their jobs were permanently gone was largely unchanged compared with January. People who have permanently lost jobs typically face a tougher time finding new work. In many cases, their former employers have gone out of business.

With so much money being pumped into the economy, Oxford Economics forecasts that growth will reach seven per cent for all of 2021, which would be the fastest calendar-year expansion since 1984. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the nation will add a substantial 6.2 million jobs this year, though that wouldn’t be nearly enough to restore employment to pre-pandemic levels.

Still, the size of the Biden relief package, coming as the economy is already showing improvement, has stoked fears that growth could overheat and accelerate inflation, sending borrowing costs up and possibly leading the Federal Reserve to jack up interest rates. Those fears have roiled financial markets for the past two weeks.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell sought to assuage those concerns – without success, based on sharp selloffs in the stock and bond markets – when he suggested that any meaningful rise in inflation would likely prove temporary and that the Fed would be in no hurry to raise its benchmark short-term rate.

Nor did Powell offer any hint that the Fed would act to push back against a surge in the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which has jumped from about 0.9 per cent last year to 1.5 per cent. Still, Powell sounded some optimistic notes. Citing in part the increasing distribution and administering of coronavirus vaccines, he said, “There’s good reason to expect job creation to pick up in the coming months.”

Other recent economic reports have also suggested better times ahead. Americans sharply increased their spending at retail stores and restaurants in January, when the $600 relief checks were mostly distributed. Retail sales jumped 5.3 per cent, after three months of declines.

Factory output also picked up that month, and demand for long-lasting goods, such as autos and aircraft, rose 3.4 per cent, the government said last week.

Home sales have been on a tear for most of the past year, driven by low mortgage rates and the desire of many Americans for more space during the pandemic. A huge jump in the proportion of people working from home has also driven up sales, which were nearly 24 per cent higher in January than a year earlier.

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