Your Wednesday Briefing: A Gloomy Economic Forecast

I.M.F. sees risks to global growth

The International Monetary Fund warned that a painful slowdown had become a greater risk for the global economy. The warning came amid worries about the banking system and concerns that rising interest rates could force banks to curtail lending.

The I.M.F. said a financial crisis could be averted, but suggested that a “hard landing,” when economies around the world could tip into recession, had grown increasingly plausible. Along with the World Bank, the I.M.F. has recently raised alarms about a period of extended stagnation. It expects growth to hover around 3 percent for the next five years, its weakest medium-term forecast since 1990.

“The fog around the world economic outlook has thickened,” the I.M.F. said in its latest World Economic Outlook report.

The dimmer forecast came as top economic officials gathered in Washington for the meetings of the I.M.F. and World Bank. There is high uncertainty because of the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, high prices around the world and debt burdens in developing countries. The global banking sector has been hit by weeks of turmoil, which include the failures of two banks in the U.S. and UBS’s takeover of Credit Suisse.

The numbers: The I.M.F. cut its forecast for global growth slightly for this year to 2.8 percent, from 2.9 percent in January. Both are a drop from 3.4 percent a year ago. Growth projections for Japan, Germany and India were all lowered since the start of the year.

In other economic news:

California fears that it is more vulnerable to a recession after layoffs in the tech and entertainment sectors.

Bitcoin is a success story: It topped $30,000 yesterday for the first time since June.

Myanmar airstrike kills at least 100

An attack in rebel-held territory yesterday was the deadliest since the junta seized power in a coup in 2021. Rescuers said body parts were scattered over a wide area after the military bombed a gathering in a village in the Sagaing Region of northwestern Myanmar.

An emergency worker at the scene said that at least 100 people were confirmed dead and that more remained unaccounted for. At least 30 children were among the dead.

The apparent target of the attack — carried out by a military jet and helicopter — was a celebration of the resistance movement’s opening of an administration office. Only the building’s charred frame remained after the raid, footage showed.

Targeting the resistance: Since the coup, pro-democracy forces have united with some armed ethnic groups to form the most unified resistance movement the military has faced. As the resistance becomes better armed, the military has doubled down on air raids and targeting of civilians. Last month, it killed monks and civilians at a monastery.

The victims: Several of those killed in the village were local rebels who had come for the celebration, said a soldier with a local armed group, but most were civilians. “There are many children and women,” he said, “in the pile of dead bodies.”

Hope for peace in Yemen

A new round of talks began this week in Yemen’s capital, Sana, to end eight years of civil war, which has been fueling one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The difference between these negotiations and those of years past is the surprise rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which have been backing opposing sides in the war.

The negotiations bring together Saudi Arabia — which leads a military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 — and the Houthis, Iran-backed rebels who control Yemen’s capital and northwest.

Some analysts fear these talks could simply usher in a different phase of the complex conflict, but others are more optimistic. A Houthi official said that “unlike in previous times, we sensed earnestness from Saudi Arabia.” The Saudi ambassador to Yemen wrote on Twitter that he sought “to stabilize the truce and cease-fire” and “explore venues of dialogue” to reach “a sustainable, comprehensive political solution” in Yemen.

Toll: The war has led to the deaths of more than 350,000 people, many of them from hunger, in what was already the poorest country in the region.


Around the World

The U.S. and the Philippines began their largest military exercises in decades yesterday, The Associated Press reports. More than 17,600 American, Filipino and Australian personnel will take part.

An audio recording of French officers threatening young pension protesters has reignited a fierce debate over police brutality in France.

Science Times

Virtual vets can make care easier for anxious or carsick pets. But some ailments can’t be determined online.

The proportion of girls diagnosed with autism in the U.S. has grown over the past decade.

More than 400 drug company executives condemned a ruling that invalidated U.S. health authorities’ approval of an abortion pill.

A Morning Read

In China, some young people are trading high-pressure, prestigious white-collar jobs for light manual labor — even as youth unemployment reaches record highs. Their moves are reviving a debate about the futility of China’s rat race.

“I was tired of living like that,” said a woman who quit her job as a designer to be a pet groomer for one-fifth the salary. “I didn’t feel like I was getting anything from the work.”

Lives lived

Myriam Ullens, a pastry chef, started institutions in Belgium, Nepal and China, including a major museum in Beijing. She died at 70. Her stepson has been charged with shooting her over money.

Vivan Sundaram has been widely credited with spearheading a transition in Indian art from European-inspired abstract painting to multimedia forms addressing India’s social and political realities. He died ‌at 79.


Does intelligence need a body?

Philosophers have agonized over the distinction between mind and body for centuries, and now, the rise of artificial intelligence is adding urgency to the question. In some sense, chatbots have minds. Trained on human language, they have learned to express beliefs, hope, love. They speak of introspection and doubt, self-confidence and regret.

But some researchers question whether A.I. can be truly intelligent without a body that can interact with and learn from the physical world.

For them, talk of disembodied intelligent minds is misguided — even dangerous. A.I. that is unable to learn limits could make life-threatening mistakes or pursue its goals at the risk of human welfare.

Several robots pairing language models with machines are in development. Robots of this kind, experts say, will be able to perform basic tasks such as pouring you a soda or making you lunch. Experts surmise that maybe, with the help of a body, a real artificial mind will emerge.


What to Cook

Tofu is a versatile ingredient. Use silken tofu to make dòuhuā, a pudding with ginger syrup.

What to Read

“Once Upon a Prime” explores the relationship between mathematics and literature.

What to Watch

These children’s movies include animated journeys and a basketball high-school comedy.

What to Listen to

Sink into the spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane.

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Used to be (three letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Amelia

P.S. The Times’s Telegram app account is now sharing stories from around the world. To follow, click here.

“The Daily” is about dissent in Russia.

You can always reach me at [email protected]. I read every note.

Source: Read Full Article