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Hard Numbers: Forever young in Malaysia, global economy’s “darkest hour”, Swat protests, welcome back to Japan

Former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad gestures during a news conference in Putrajaya.

Former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad gestures during a news conference in Putrajaya.

REUTERS/Hasnoor Hussain

97: Politics truly never gets old — especially in Malaysia, where former PM Mahathir Mohamad will compete in upcoming snap elections at the spry young age of … 97. For context, the world’s youngest leaders would need to be on the job for another six decades to be on Mahathir’s level.

2.7: Global economic growth will slow by half a point next year to just 2.7%, according to the International Monetary Fund’s latest forecast. Geopolitical risks, stubbornly high inflation, and central bank interest rate hikes together create what the IMF says is “the darkest hour” for the global economy.

15,000: Touched off by the recent killing of a bus driver, some 15,000 protesters hit the streets in the Pakistani region of Swat to demand that the government squelch rising violence in the area. Locals say that Swat, once a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, has seen a rising militant presence lately.

34.5: Japan has finally dropped all COVID-related tourism restrictions in a bid to boost its economy and take advantage of the weak yen. But analysts say hotel shortages and lingering COVID concerns will undermine the government’s goal of reaching $34.5 billion in annual tourist revenue any time soon. Foreign visitors are expected to spend less than half of that next year.

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