The silent recovery: how much longer can America’s long, slow boom last?

If it lasts till 2019, it will have run for a decade. But this upswing, marked by weak growth and inequality, is not a normal one

It all started in the summer of 2009. Barack Obama was six months into his presidency and desperate for some good economic news. The US had just suffered its deepest post-war recession, unemployment was heading for 10% and Washington had been forced to bail out the banks.

But in June of that year, the world’s second-biggest economy turned the corner. A recovery began that has continued uninterrupted ever since. At the end of this month, the US will have enjoyed its second-longest period of economic expansion in history, beating the upswing under John F Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson between 1961 and 1968.

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Some praise our gig economy flexibility. I call it exploitation | Larry Elliott

For ‘record employment’, read low wages, low productivity, low investment. The idea of happy zero-hours workers is for the birds

Getting on for one million people in Britain wait each day for a text or a phone call to let them know whether an employer has work for them. Twenty years ago few had heard of zero-hour contracts, but the number of workers covered by them has increased more than fourfold since the recession of a decade ago.

Related: More than 900,000 UK workers now on zero-hours contracts

The reason for weak consumer spending and the flat housing market is wages not keeping pace with inflation

Related: Record 60% of Britons in poverty are in working families – study

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Global debt now worse than before financial crisis, says IMF

Fund warns all economies look vulnerable as low interest rates lead to debt worth 225% of GDP

The global economy is more deeply indebted than before the financial crisis and countries need to take immediate action to improve their finances before the next downturn, the International Monetary Fund has said.

The IMF said a prolonged period of low interest rates had stimulated a build-up of debt worth 225% of world GDP in 2016, 12 points above the previous record level reached in 2009.

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Raise UK household incomes by ending austerity, say Fabians

Labour MPs co-author report urging public investment and a bigger role for unions

Stronger trade unions, improved regional policy and an end to austerity should form part of a plan to return growth in living standards to its pre-crisis levels, according to a leading leftwing thinktank.

Calling for a fairer tax system and a less flexible labour market, the Fabian Society said a comprehensive strategy was required to boost household incomes.

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Oil soars to three-year high on growing Middle East tensions – business live

Global stocks on edge as Donald Trump says ‘missiles will be coming’ in Syria; Theresa May says chemical attack ‘cannot go unchallenged’

And we’re off. Germany’s Dax, Spain’s Ibex and the FTSE 100 index in London are flat while France’s CAC has edged up 0.1%.

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

Oil prices soared to their highest levels since December 2014, above $73 a barrel last night. Brent crude futures are at $72.30, still the highest in more than three years.

Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!

Last year Russia and Syria did not shoot back against US missiles. But this time the scale of possible attacks by the US and possibly its allies seems larger if Russia fires back, the war front will be bigger.

I don’t think we are heading into World War III but should there be a direct collision between the US and Russia for the first time, that’s the sort of headline that would plunge stock prices.

With nerves already frayed sentiment wasn’t helped by reports that Saudi Arabian defence systems had intercepted a number of missiles fired from Yemen, over the skies of Riyadh, which in turn saw oil prices hit their highest levels since December 2014 above $73.

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European stock markets open lower as IMF head warns on trade wars – business live

Christine Lagarde warns the system for world trade is in ‘danger of being torn apart’

Germany’s VDMA engineering association has called on the West to lift some sanctions against Moscow.

Its president, Carl Martin Welcker, has told Reuters that the association is hoping for a sustained recovery in demand from the Russian market. German engineering exports to Russia rose 22.5% to €5.3bn last year, but that was still far below a peak of almost €8bn peak in 2012.

Russia has developed very positively over the past year, after all the disappointing years before.

Economic sanctions have little political impact in this respect, we want them to be critically scrutinised. The things that work should be upheld and others should be loosened if possible.

A report released this morning shows that Britain’s high streets suffered more store closures in 2017 than in any year since 2010. Fashion retailers, shoe shops, travel agents and estate agents have been driven out by the rise of internet shopping.

A net 1,700 chain shops closed their doors in 2017, according to analysis of the UK’s top 500 towns compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC) for PricewaterhouseCoopers. An average of 11 stores a day opened, while 16 a day closed. The data does not include independent shops.

Fashion and footwear stores were the hardest hit in 2017, according to LDC, as shoppers’ freedom to spend on non-essentials was diminished by rising food price inflation, partly fuelled by the fall in the value of the pound after the vote for Brexit in 2016.

Tesco is the biggest riser on the FTSE 100 index in early trading after its better-than-expected results, with the shares up 3.6%. Other supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s are also up.

Asos shares have fallen as much as 7% despite strong results, after the company upped its investment plans.

European stock markets have opened lower, as expected, with trade tensions simmering.

FTSE 100 index in London down 0.27% at 7246.85

Hammerson, which runs the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham and Brent Cross in London, said this morning that it has rejected a sweetened £5bn bid from bigger French rival Klépierre.

The French shopping mall operator offered to pay 635p a share in a mix of Klépierre shares and cash, up from its £4.9bn proposal on 8 March (615p a share).

The board has considered the revised proposal from Klépierre carefully. At 635p, it is only a 3% increase on the previous proposal and continues very significantly to undervalue the company.”

Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco has reported a 28% rise in operating profits, beating City expectations. Profits were boosted by better than expected sales in the last three months of its financial year.

Online fashion retailer Asos, which targets shoppers in their 20s, has also reported strong numbers. Sales were up 27% in the first half and it expects similar growth in the second half. Chief executive Nick Beighton said the firm would step up investment in distribution and logistics.

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has issued a stark warning that the current system for world trade is “in danger of being torn apart”, with the potential to upset the present global economic upswing and make consumers poorer. She urged governments around the world to steer clear of protectionism or face negative consequences.

Let us redouble our efforts to reduce trade barriers and resolve disagreements without using exceptional measures.

For equity markets to regain a sense of equilibrium we need to start to see progress on the road away from a potential trade war, and currently there is no evidence of that whatsoever.

The strange thing is that for all the warm words, and President Trump’s positive response to them, is that what President Xi actually said wasn’t much different to previous speeches he has made in the past, which means that eventually these words will need to be turned into actions. The easiest one to deliver is probably the reduction in tariffs on cars, but even that is likely to be difficult, particularly since further talks between the various parties aren’t actually planned at the moment.

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Markets set to open higher as Trump calms trade war fears – business live

Investors hope talks will resolve trade dispute, while new figures on UK housing and world economy are due

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

It was another wild week on stock markets last week as the rollercoaster ride that is the trade dispute between the US and China continued to unnerve investors.

President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade. China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries!

Steep declines on Wall Street have been shrugged off in Asian markets overnight and European shares look set for a positive open. US shares had initially held up relatively after President Donald Trump threatened another $100bn in tariffs against China. Few were willing to hold on over the weekend after US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged the possibility of a trade war. Trump tweeted over the weekend with respect to China that ‘Taxes will become reciprocal & a deal will be made on intellectual property.’ Trump’s softened stance offers some hope for calm in his trade dispute with China.

European Opening Calls:#FTSE 7204 +0.28%#DAX 12274 +0.26%#CAC 5260 +0.03%#MIB 22972 +0.19%#IBEX 9703 +0.21%

With US earnings season starting this week some decent reports could be the difference between a rebound off these [market] lows, and optimism about future profits or worries as to whether we’ve seen the high water mark for profits growth. Investors will have to look past recent tax changes, as well as market volatility and flatter yield curves to determine what effects these might have on long term profitability.

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UK labour productivity increase at fastest rate since financial crisis

Data for last six months of 2017 show strongest economic growth, but worker efficiency languished

The productivity of British workers in the final six months of 2017 increased at the fastest rate since before the financial crisis, handing a rare boost to the government.

Labour productivity, or economic output per hour worked, grew by 0.7% in the three months to December, marking the second consecutive quarter for positive growth, the Office for National Statistics said. Together, the two periods showed the strongest growth since the second half of 2005.

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