On Monday, the International Monetary Fund kicks off a two-day conference of top economists to try to distill some lessons from the global financial crisis.
Rising food prices pushed millions of people into extreme poverty last year and are reaching "dangerous levels" in some countries, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Tuesday as he released new data showing the cost of grain and other staples is now near its historic high. A bank index of food costs rose 15 percent over the last four months and is now just three percent below the level reached in 2008, a historic high that eased during the economic downturn. Wheat prices have been among the fastest moving, doubling between June and January as Russia restricted exports, Australia's crop was damaged by flooding and the size of China's upcoming winter crop has been cast into doubt due to an ongoing drought.
In a historic shift of economic powers, China has leapfrogged over Japan to become the world's second-largest economy. Japan's government made it official Monday when it said that its economy shrank at a 1.1 percent annual rate for the last three months 2010. China's GDP, meanwhile, surged 9.8 percent. That made Japan's full-year GDP $5.47 trillion as compared to the $5.88 trillion China reported. Both economies remain significantly smaller than that the world's largest economy--the United States.
The International Monetary Fund may be run by a card carrying socialist, but its underlying trend became apparent at a morning reception where right-leaning coffee cups made it near impossible for the left-handed to drink without making a mess.
BERLIN - Germany and France have called for a comprehensive proposal for European economic reforms to be formulated by late March, but a top German finance official said Wednesday that his government is ready to act sooner, if necessary. "If we have the necessity to act before the end of March because of the markets, we will do this," said Jörg Asmussen, state secretary at the German Finance Ministry, in an interview.
Irish parliamentary elections are set for Feb. 25 following the collapse of Prime Minister Brian Cowen's government, blamed for a bank bailout that left the country close to insolvent and in need of $113 billion in emergency help.