Climate change, stock markets fall, the gig economy, ethnicity pay gaps: your commercial news round-up
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Back in 2013, the naturalist David Attenborough called for action on climate change, arguing that “we have a finite environment – the planet. Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth in a finite environment is either a madman or an economist.” Fast forward to 2018 and the United Nations’ panel on climate change has said that the world has only 12 years left to prevent ecological catastrophe.
How is this relevant to a commercial-awareness-oriented news round-up? Last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that problems involving interest rates and bad debt in economies as diverse as the United States, Venezuela, Argentina, China, Turkey and Italy could lead to another global economic crash. But unlike previous crises that capitalism has been able to overcome, the next crash will be made worse by climate change. Without radical reform to our growth-focused economies and the ways we harvest energy, the traditional ways to stimulate economic recovery will only accelerate the disaster looming for us and our planet.
There are solutions available, though, and these – as well as the potential causes of economic trouble – are explored in this highly recommended article by the Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott.
Keeping that issue on our radar, let’s round up the other big business stories from the last week.
The world’s stock markets have fallen to an eight-month low in the wake of a global sell-off by spooked investors. The trade war fears sparked by US President Donald Trump’s protectionist economic policies have contributed to anxiety in the markets, while his tax cuts are already starting to cause an increase in interest rates (and therefore borrowing costs).
The precarity of work in the gig economy has fuelled a “lost decade” of stagnating wage growth in Britain, according to Bank of England’s chief economist. Andy Haldane said that “the dark side of job flexibility is increased income uncertainty and job insecurity. In short, job insecurity reduces workers’ pay power and weakens upward pressure on pay.”
Following the introduction of mandatory gender pay gap reporting, companies may be forced to reveal their ethnicity pay gaps. Prime Minister Theresa May announced the plans at the recent Conservative Party Conference, admitting that people with BAME backgrounds often "feel like they are hitting a brick wall" at work.
Newspaper publisher Johnstone Press has put itself up for sale. The publisher of the ‘i’, The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post has found itself in debt as revenues from digital and print advertising have fallen.
High-street retailer WH Smith has announced plans to restructure its business. Although the company had a good year in terms of revenue, it is still planning to cut back initiatives outside its core offering and close around six shops.