Pakistan Rising or Failing? Reality vs Perception

Pakistan has a population of over 200 million people and a booming trillion dollar economy ranked among the top 25 largest economies of the world.
Courtesy:  Ashraf Hameedi, Highforest Capital

Pakistan's 135 million millennials have made it the world's fastest growing retail market. There is surging demand for fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and durables like smartphones, computers, cars, motorcycles and home appliances.

Courtesy: Nikkei Asian Review

Major energy and infrastructure projects, part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), are transforming the country and creating millions of new jobs.

Incidents of terrorism and terror related deaths are in sharp decline since the country's military started nation-wide anti-terror operations in 2013.

Its $20 billion tourism industry is seeing rapid growth.

And yet, many continue to call Pakistan a "failed state". Why is it? Why is perception lagging reality?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Monis Rehman, Pakistani entrepreneur and CEO of Rozee.pk, and regular panelist Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/XDima7JSxKs





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan is the 3rd Fastest Growing Trillion Dollar Economy

Pakistan Education Budget Surpasses Defense Spending

Information Tech Jobs Moving From India to Pakistan

Pakistan is 5th Largest Motorcycle Market

"Failed State" Pakistan Saw 22% Growth in Per Capita Income in Last 5 Years

CPEC Transforming Pakistan

Pakistan's $20 Billion Tourism Industry Boom

Home Appliance Ownership in Pakistani Households

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel



Comments

Riaz Haq said…
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > BUSINESS
Consumer confidence in Pakistan at all-time high

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1609611/2-consumer-confidence-pakistan-time-high/

KARACHI: Pakistan’s consumer confidence has reached an all-time high of 111, up by nine points in the third quarter (July-September) of 2017, from 102 points in the previous quarter (April-June), according to the Nielsen Global Survey of consumer confidence and spending intentions.

“The nine-point increase in Pakistan’s consumer confidence score depicts an improving outlook for the country,” Nielsen Pakistan Managing Director Quratulain Ibrahim was quoted as saying in the press release.

“Since Nielsen launched the survey, this has been the highest number reached to date, which can be attributed to several reasons such as the growth in the agricultural sector, controlled inflation, strengthened power supply and most importantly, the uplift in the job market. Pakistan is flourishing and is rated as one of the top growth markets in the Middle East & Africa region.” The survey data highlights a positive perception of job outlook, increasing from 47% in the second quarter to 57% in the third.

Although there has been a one percentage point dip in job security being the biggest concern over the next six months, it still remains the top concern amongst 21% of Pakistani consumers. Consumers are spending more on vacations and technology in third quarter, suggesting that they have more disposable cash.

Regionally, there has been a one-point increase in the index level. Africa / Middle East has also witnessed a one percentage point increase in the job prospects (38%), with no change in the state of respondent’s personal finances. Spending intentions increased one percentage point to 34%.

Four out of six Africa / Middle East markets showed consumer confidence gains. Pakistan’s consumer confidence rose the most, by nine points (which stands at 111). United Arab Emirates (112), South Africa (83) and Egypt (81) were amongst the other countries showing an increase in consumer confidence index.

Conversely, consumer confidence fell in Morocco (72) and Saudi Arabia (93), declining by five points in both countries.

Established in 2005, the Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index is fielded quarterly in 63 countries to measure the perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances, immediate spending intentions and related economic issues of real consumers around the world. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism, respectively.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan keeps #terrorists on the run and #economy on a roll
Businesses' focus shifts from bombs and kidnappings to taxes and policy. #Taliban #TTP #terrorism #India #Karachi #Rangers

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/Pakistan-keeps-terrorists-on-the-run-and-economy-on-a-roll

KARACHI -- Terrorism, corruption, misrule: Negative perceptions have dogged Pakistan for years. But thanks to sweeping operations by the army and a powerful paramilitary force, those perceptions may be becoming outdated, and businesses are taking notice.

In Karachi, the country's largest city, motorcycles and elaborately decorated buses weave down dusty roads between colonial-era buildings. Less than a decade ago, these were truly mean streets. "Between 2010 and 2012, we saw one or two terrorist attacks every month and one or two targeted killings and kidnappings for ransom every day," recalled Army Maj. Gen. Mohammad Saeed. "There were 17 no-go areas which the police could not touch in Karachi."

At the time, even major hotels had occupancy rates of just 10% to 15%. Hundreds of shops and other businesses closed down.

Then the Rangers began to clean up.

The Pakistan Rangers, a paramilitary law enforcement organization overseen by the military and the Interior Ministry, set out to tackle the violence head-on. In 2013, the Rangers Sindh -- which operate in Sindh Province, including Karachi -- mobilized 15,000 troops. The provincial legislature granted them broad powers to search homes and make arrests, enabling them to quickly turn the tide.

In 2017, there were zero bombings and only five kidnappings, according to Saeed, who serves as director general of the Rangers Sindh. This is no small feat in a city with a swelling population of 17 million -- perhaps even 20 million if migrants from rural areas are factored in. "We destroyed all of the terrorists' pockets," he said, adding that hotel occupancy rates are over 90%.

The story is similar in Pakistan's other major cities. And as the Rangers have made headway, business sentiment has improved and growth has picked up.

Pakistan's real gross domestic product grew 5.3% in the fiscal year through June 2017, the quickest pace in 10 years. The central bank projects the growth rate for this fiscal year will approach 6%. Inflation has stabilized and exports are brisk.

"Unfortunately, Pakistan is a victim of negative perception," said Arif Habib, who heads the conglomerate Arif Habib Group. "There is a lot of difference between perception and reality."

But the rest of the world seems to be catching on to the positive changes, too: Foreign direct investment is estimated to reach a record $5 billion or so in the current fiscal year, up from $3.43 billion last year.

Last June, in a survey by the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry, 89% of respondents said security concerns in Karachi had receded since 2013.

The OICCI is made up of 193 companies, mainly major foreign businesses in Pakistan. Each year, it surveys the members about factors that are hampering investment in Pakistan. "The top answer in 2015 was 'security, law and order,' but it fell to third place in 2017," said OICCI Secretary-General Abdul Aleem, who served as the chief executive of a state-run company. "It was overtaken by 'tax burden' and 'policy implementation.'"

Riaz Haq said…
‘#Pakistan #economy set to achieve 6% #GDP growth’ in current fiscal year 2017-18, says nation's central bank report

http://www.gulf-times.com/story/578803/Pakistan-economy-set-to-achieve-6-GDP-growth


he State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said yesterday that prospects for economic growth remain strong, noting that the economy is poised to achieve the growth target of 6% for 2017-18.
In its first quarterly report on the state of the economy, the SBP said rising income levels of consumers are fuelling retail sales and commercial activities.
However, there was an urgent need for finding more avenues for foreign exchange earnings and realigning policies favouring exports growth by addressing long-term structural impediments.
“For the external sector, recent gains in exports growth and foreign direct investments (FDI) while significant were not enough to contain the overall balance-of-payments deficit,” said the report.
It added that the widening of the current account deficit associated with increased economic activity is a recurrent phenomenon in Pakistan and has undermined maturing growth cycles in the past.
While the report expressed satisfaction over the increased revenue in the first quarter of 2017-18, it said that earlier efforts aimed at increasing the tax base need to be more concerted and perhaps require new, innovative methods.
The report raised the question whether the economy is doing well enough to sustain the virtuous equilibrium of high growth-low inflation into the medium and long terms. The report stressed the need for addressing the long-standing structural reforms in the fiscal and the external sectors for sustainability.
The report analysed the recent growth in exports and identified three reasons for it. Uninterrupted energy supplies to the manufacturing sector, increasing global demand and commodity prices and the recent exchange rate deprecation.
What stands out is the role of a benign inflationary environment for some time now that has helped spur the expansion in economic activities. Low and stable prices have facilitated and eased the process of economic decision-making.
“More tangibly, falling inflation along with healthy agriculture output and stable exchange rate has resulted in higher real rural incomes and urban wages. The resultant boost in consumption forms an integral part of the current economic growth paradigm,” said the report.
Low inflation has also allowed the SBP to cumulatively cut the policy rate by 425 basis points since the autumn of 2014.
The report suggested that average inflation in 2017-18 would remain below its annual target of 6%.
However, there are two major risks to this inflation forecast: first, recent exchange rate depreciation through expectations channel and, after some lag, through the higher imported goods’ price can seep into domestic prices; second, uncertain global oil prices pose both upside and downside risks.
The report said in the first quarter, the fiscal deficit was 1.2% of gross domestic product, lower than 1.4% recorded in the corresponding period of the last year. Total revenue recovered strongly, showing an 18.9% increase in the three-month period against an 8% decline in the same period a year ago.
“Against this, consolidated federal and provincial expenditures grew 12.8% compared to 2.8% increase in the same period last year,” said the report.


A worker inspects fabric on looms at a textile manufacturing unit in Karachi. The State Bank of Pakistan said yesterday that prospects for economic growth remain strong in Pakistan, noting that the economy is poised to achieve the growth target of 6% for 2017-18.
Riaz Haq said…
India Lacks a Competitive Trade Strategy for Chabahar
India needs a sound economic and political strategy to maximize the benefits it receives from Chabahar.

https://thediplomat.com/2018/01/india-lacks-a-competitive-trade-strategy-for-chabahar/

The first shipment to pass through the port of Chabahar to Afghanistan was celebrated with much fanfare and excitement this late October. India, with the largest economy in South Asia and an ever-rising military footprint has much to be proud of regarding this development. In the face of regional tensions with its western neighbor, Pakistan, India has chosen to circumvent the nation in order to open new trade routes with Afghanistan and greater Central Asia. Delhi may now find it easier to further diversify its trading partners, strengthen its relations with regional neighbors, and simultaneously compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

While the potential for Chabahar’s positive externalities remain numerous, they also remain largely hypothetical. The completion of the project does not necessarily guarantee an increase in Indian economic influence, considering the economic and political realities that Delhi presently faces on the domestic front and in the region. The competitiveness of Indian exports, the security situation in Afghanistan, and regional geopolitics pose several hurdles that India must overcome.

Domestically, India faces a slowing economy that has had six continuous quarters of decreasing growth. The economy rebounded in the latest quarter but growth forecasts for the economy continue to be revised downwards due to recent poorly executed economic reforms (the Goods and Services Tax and demonetization). This becomes further troubling as the Indian economy continues to be faced with a critical job shortage that must incorporate 12 million young people every year. Additionally, India’s banking sector continues to pose risks to the economy with non-performing assets (bad loans) continuing to rise to unprecedented levels. In light of domestic economic challenges, Delhi would be wise to draft a comprehensive economic strategy to justify the cost of the overall investment in Chabahar and the overall multinational initiative.

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Currently, India has allocated around $2 billion to the overall project — $500 million dollars has been allocated to the construction of Chabahar port to increase cargo handling capacity and $1.6 billion to the construction of a rail link that will connect the port to the city of Zahedan. The city borders Afghanistan and will allow goods to flow into the country through already built infrastructure. Chabahar port will also serve as a starting point for the over-arching International North-South Trade Corridor (INTSC) that aims to connect India, Iran, Russia, and various Central Asian states. Remarks by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and various analysts claim that the new port will revolutionize trade and commerce. This may prove to be true if India is able to drastically improve the efficiency of its manufacturing sector and increase the demand for Indian goods.

Yet, the current status quo will prove difficult to change considering both the cost and share of total exports India sends to Central Asia (including Afghanistan) when compared to other nations, specifically China. In early July, the Minister of State for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, Haribhai Chaudhary, was asked why domestically produced goods cost more than those imported from China. Chaudhary responded, “The products manufactured in China are reportedly of lower price mainly because of their opaque subsidy regime and distorted factor prices.” India’s economy is primarily based on the services industry, which composes more than half of its GDP, compared to industry (including manufacturing), which only composes a little more than a quarter. China’s economy on the other hand, is primarily composed of industry, giving it greater leverage and ability to compete with Indian goods.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan: Chai at Midnight
Scenes of daily life in Pakistan rarely make the news; here are some glimpses.

By Robert Gerhardt
January 26, 2018

https://thediplomat.com/2018/01/pakistan-chai-at-midnight/

Pakistan has a mixed reputation in the eyes of many Americans (including the president, according to his tweets). When Pakistan is in the international news, it’s often for terrorism or sectarian violence. But while terrorist attacks do happen in the country — the people I met during a recent visit were open about that fact — the country is far from being a warzone.

During my travels, no matter where I went, or what time of day or night, every Pakistani I met was unbelievably welcoming to me. They would offer up bits of small talk and copious quantities of tea and snacks. They even put up with my bad attempts to speak Urdu, smiling and laughing as I tried to string together a few phrases.

Virtually every night my new friends and I went out for chai at a little market stall, usually around midnight when the heat broke — at least a bit. It got to the point that the locals and the Puthans who worked there stopped acting surprised to me see; they would smile and wave as we arrived.

As I traveled around the country, I photographed what I saw in front of me: the markets, streets, late-night chai stalls, drivers, motorbikes and street food vendors. It’s these people going about their routines that make up the daily life of a country many never see.

Robert Gerhardt is a social documentary photographer based in New York City. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Hindustan Times, and Newsweek among others. Robert’s projects can be seen on his website: www.RobertGerhardt.com
Riaz Haq said…
Imports of used cars in Pakistan jump 70pc

https://www.dawn.com/news/1385303/imports-of-used-cars-in-pakistan-jump-70pc

KARACHI: Imports of used cars and minivans surged to 65,723 units in 2017, up almost 70 per cent from 38,676 units a year ago, latest data released by the auto industry shows.

The arrival of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) also increased 59pc to 7,758 units. Imports of pickups and vans registered a 9pc rise to 3,154 units.

The local industry maintains a record of each imported vehicle, whether new or old, through the Import General Manifest (IGM). Every imported car is logged in the customs’ IGM.

Toyota Vitz was most popular foreign vehicle in 2017

Toyota Vitz remained the most popular imported car in 2017. As many as 8,680 units arrived in 2017, up almost 40pc from a year ago. The volume of Daihatsu Mira swelled 73.1pc to 6,091 units.

Toyota Aqua imports climbed 96pc to 7,123 units from 3,622 units in 2016.

As many as 5,088 units of Suzuki Every were brought into Pakistan in 2017, up 14.6pc year-on-year. Imports of Daihatsu Hijet rose 34.5pc to 3,367 units.

The arrival of Suzuki Alto doubled to 4,158 units from 2,013 units a year ago. Suzuki WagonR imports surged 115pc to 3,574 units.

Imports of Honda Vezel and Toyota Land Cruiser stood 2,431 units and 3,301 units in 2017, up 57.5pc and 55.7pc, respectively, on an annual basis.

The overall volume of imported used vehicles grew 65pc to 76,635 units in 2017 from 46,500 units a year ago, data showed.

Low interest rates, increase in auto financing by banks and lifting of vehicles by investors for cab services like Careem and Uber boosted the imports of used cars as well as sales of locally assembled vehicles.

The government imposed regulatory duties on the purchase of foreign used vehicles in October, which largely failed to dent the overall annual import figures.

Sales of locally produced cars rose 20.4pc on a year-on-year basis to 103,432 units in July-December.

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, overall imports of cars increased 64pc to $276 million in July-December.

Pakistan Association of Automotive Parts and Accessories Manufacturers’ former chairman Aamir Allawala said the local vending industry lost estimated revenue of Rs23 billion last year.

The estimate is based on taking the average local content per vehicle of Rs300,000 on imports of 76,645 units in 2017. This is in contrast to a loss of Rs14bn in 2016 with imports of 46,500 vehicles.

He said imports of used cars were the biggest impediment to investment by existing assemblers, new entrants and part makers.

He said the government has modified the procedure for the payment of duties and taxes to curb imports of used vehicles.

“Time has come for the existing players to make prompt investment in capacity expansion, improve localisation, introduce new models and reduce delivery time to eliminate the menace of premium,” he said, adding that an increase in production will boost tax revenue and create jobs.

In the near future, Hyundai, Kia and Renault will set up plants in the country.
Riaz Haq said…
#BMI Research in World Economic Forum (#WEF18) report says #Pakistan among top 10 drivers of global #economic growth as "manufacturing hub". Others in top 10: #Bangladesh #Egypt #Indonesia #Nigeria #Ethiopia #Kenya https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/07/these-are-the-10-emerging-markets-of-the-future


"Pakistan will develop as a manufacturing hub over the coming years, with the textile and automotive sectors posting the fastest growth at the beginning of our forecast period. Domestic manufacturing investment will be boosted by the windfall from lower energy prices compared to the last decade, and improved domestic energy supply."



A new report from BMI Research has identified the "10 emerging markets of the future" — the countries that are set to become new drivers of economic growth over the next 10 years.

BMI estimates that these countries will cumulatively add $4.3 trillion to global GDP by 2025 — roughly the equivalent of Japan's current economy.

In general, manufacturing and construction are the sectors that will drive the economies. BMI reports that new manufacturing hubs are set to emerge in Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Pakistan, and that these countries will see particularly strong growth in exporting manufacturing industries. And construction growth is going to be widespread throughout all the countries — partly to facilitate increases in urban populations and partly to help develop the manufacturing sector.

On the other hand, extractive industries — like mining, oil, and gas — are going to play a far smaller role in driving growth than they have the past 15 years.

While it might provide bright spots for some countries, the report states, "the ubiquitous commodity-driven growth model that was derailed by the 2012-2015 collapse in commodity prices is not coming back."

Riaz Haq said…
Two-time #Grammy wining #American DJ and #music producer Diplo brings his Mad Decent Block Party to #Pakistan's capital #Islamabad over the weekend, headlining a roster of musicians including local #Pakistani acts. #SNKM

http://www.todayonline.com/world/pakistan-gets-dash-music-diplo-macy

For two-time Grammy winner Diplo, playing Pakistan is a way to foster good relations with the mostly Muslim country after an angry Jan. 1 tweet from U.S. President Donald Trump complaining that Pakistan gives "terrorists" a safe haven.

"I think the best way we can do any kind of diplomacy with the Pakistani people is ... basically reaching out to the kids like we do at the concerts," Diplo told TMZ last month after the Trump tweet, which soured U.S.-Pakistani relations.

He added that by having U.S. acts connect with the large youth population - an estimated 60 percent of Pakistanis are under age 30 - "they can grow into being our allies".

More than 2,500 young people crowded into an outdoor venue in the capital, Islamabad, to a scaled down version of the event known for bringing together some of the hottest names in dance-hall, hip hop and electronic music.

Among the headliners were Diplo's chart-topping side project Major Lazer Soundsystem, DJ Chrome Sparks and Pakistani duo SNKM, which has played the South by Southwest festival and toured with Diplo in the U.S.

"There's a lot of bridges being built between here and the U.S." says SNKM's Adil Omar, who also has a successful hip hop career and a new album and film "Transcendence" to be released this year. REUTERS
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's auto sales surge 23 pct in January 2018

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-02/12/c_136970661.htm

The Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association announced on Monday that Pakistan's locally assembled cars and Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) sales volume jumped by 23 percent to 23,562 units in January on the yearly comparison and by 22 percent on the monthly comparison.

The growth was largely attributed to Pak-Suzuki Motor Company's (PSMC) impressive sales numbers of the Wagon-R (an increase of 1,101 units) and Cultus (an increase of 680 units) and a strong response to Honda Atlas Cars' BR-V (an increase of 500 units).

Moreover, recent changes in import procedures have also resulted in a higher offtake for the less than 1,000cc segment, as consumers continue to shift to Pak-Suzuki Motor Company.

According to the Pakistani auto industry's official numbers, volumes for PSMC and Honda Atlas Car (HCAR) increased by 24 percent and 10 percent on yearly comparison while Indus Motor's volumes decreased by 7 percent.

Furthermore, growth was also recorded in LCVs sales, as they increased by 38 percent to 3,638 units in January this year when compared with the sales of 2,629 units in January last year.

Similarly, tractor sales continued to perform well, thereby registering 5,863 units for January, up by 9 percent as against 5,390 units in the same month of last year.

Moreover, motorcycles and three-wheelers also witnessed a fair bit of increase of 20 percent on the yearly comparison and 13 percent on the monthly comparison.

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Imports of used cars in Pakistan jump 70pc

https://www.dawn.com/news/1385303

Imports of used cars and minivans surged to 65,723 units in 2017, up almost 70 per cent from 38,676 units a year ago, latest data released by the auto industry shows.

The arrival of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) also increased 59pc to 7,758 units. Imports of pickups and vans registered a 9pc rise to 3,154 units.

The local industry maintains a record of each imported vehicle, whether new or old, through the Import General Manifest (IGM). Every imported car is logged in the customs’ IGM.

Toyota Vitz remained the most popular imported car in 2017. As many as 8,680 units arrived in 2017, up almost 40pc from a year ago. The volume of Daihatsu Mira swelled 73.1pc to 6,091 units.

Riaz Haq said…
A future perfect
Stephen Pinker’s case for optimism
“Enlightenment Now” explains why the doom-mongers are wrong

https://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21737241-enlightenment-now-explains-why-doom-mongers-are-wrong-stephen-pinkers-case

TO ANYONE who reads a newspaper, this can seem a miserable world. Syria is still at war. Another lunatic has gone on a gun rampage in an American school. The tone of political debate can rarely have been as crass and poisonous as it is today.

Front pages are grim for the same reason that Shakespeare’s plays feature a lot of murders. Tragedy is dramatic. Hardly anyone would read a story headlined “100,000 AEROPLANES DIDN’T CRASH YESTERDAY”. Bad things often happen suddenly and telegenically. A factory closes; an apartment block burns down. Good things tend to happen incrementally, and across a wide area, making them much harder to film. News outlets could have honestly reported that the “NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN EXTREME POVERTY FELL BY 137,000 SINCE YESTERDAY” every day for 25 years. But readers might get bored.

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The world is about 100 times wealthier than 200 years ago and, contrary to popular belief, its wealth is more evenly distributed. The share of people killed annually in wars is less than a quarter of that in the 1980s and half a percent of the toll in the second world war. During the 20th century Americans became 96% less likely to die in a car crash, 92% less likely to perish in a fire and 95% less likely to expire on the job.

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Best of all possible worlds

Progress has often been stunningly rapid. The vast majority of poor Americans enjoy luxuries unavailable to the Vanderbilts and Astors of 150 years ago, such as electricity, air-conditioning and colour televisions. Street hawkers in South Sudan have better mobile phones than the brick that Gordon Gekko, a fictional tycoon, flaunted in “Wall Street” in 1987. It is not just that better medicine and sanitation allow people to live longer, healthier lives, or that labour-saving devices have given people more free time, or that Amazon and Apple offer a dazzling variety of entertainment to fill it. People are also growing more intelligent, and more humane.

In every part of the world IQ scores have been rising, by a whopping 30 points in 100 years, meaning that the average person today scores better than 98% of people a century ago. How can this be, given that intelligence is highly heritable, and clever folk breed no more prolifically than less gifted ones? The answer is better nutrition (“brains are greedy organs”) and more stimulation. Children are far likelier to go to school than they were in 1900, while “outside the schoolhouse, analytic thinking is encouraged by a culture that trades in visual symbols (subway maps, digital displays), analytic tools (spreadsheets, stock reports) and academic concepts that trickle down into common parlance (supply and demand, on average, human rights).”

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Belief in equality for ethnic minorities and gay people has shot up, as demonstrated not only by polls (which could be biased by the knowledge that bigotry is frowned upon) but also by internet activity. Searches for racist jokes have fallen by seven-eighths in America since 2004. Those who enjoy them are dying out: online searches for racial epithets correlate with interest in “Social Security” and “Frank Sinatra”, Mr Pinker notes. Even the most conservative places are loosening up. Polls find that young Muslims in the Middle East are about as liberal as young western Europeans were in the early 1960s.

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Mr Pinker has answers for all these questions. In 45 out of 52 countries in the World Values Survey, happiness increased between 1981 and 2007. It rises roughly in line with absolute income per head, not relative income. Loneliness, at least among American students, appears to be declining. Global warming is a big threat, but not insurmountable. The number of nuclear weapons in the world has fallen by 85% since its peak.

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