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US Economy Ranked #1 on Global Competitiveness Index

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, The U.S. economy has regained its status as the world’s most competitive , for the first time since 2008, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. The U.S. scored 85.6 out of a possible 100. The World Economic Forum says the U.S. is the country closest to the “frontier of competitiveness,” an indicator that ranks competitive productivity using a scale from zero to 100.

“America’s vibrant entrepreneurial culture and its dominance in producing a competitive labor market and nimble financial system” partly explain its top ranking, the Global Competitiveness Report says.

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Apr 14, 9:47 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund, citing the consequences of a strong dollar, is downgrading its outlook for the U.S. economy but raising its forecast for Europe and Japan.

The IMF predicted Tuesday that the American economy will grow 3.1 percent this year and next – a performance the fund characterized as “robust.” But the U.S. outlook was down from the IMF’s January forecast of 3.6 percent growth in 2015 and 3.3 percent growth in 2016. The American economy advanced 2.4 percent last year.

The IMF forecast that the 18 European countries that use the euro currency collectively will expand 1.5 percent in 2015 and 1.6 percent in 2016, up from a January forecast of 1.2 percent growth this year and 1.4 percent next. The eurozone grew just 0.9 percent last year.

The fund expects Japan to grow 1 percent this year and 1.2 percent next year, versus an earlier forecast of 0.6 percent this year and 0.8 percent in 2016. The Japanese economy shrank 0.1 percent in 2014.

The IMF expects the world economy to grow 3.5 percent in 2015, barely up from 3.4 percent last year and unchanged for its January forecast. It raised the outlook for global economic growth in 2016 to 3.8 percent, up from a January forecast of 3.7 percent.

The international lending agency also left unchanged its prediction that the Chinese economy will grow 6.8 percent this year and 6.3 percent in 2016. That marks a sharp deceleration from last year’s 7.4 percent expansion, already the slowest for China in two decades. But Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, the IMF’s deputy director for research, told reporters the slowdown in China reflects the country’s transition from growth built on often-wasteful investment in factories and real estate to slower but steadier growth built on spending by Chinese consumers. “We think it is a good slowdown for China,” he said.

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Students from Ridgewood, Japan share cultures


MARCH 31, 2015    LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 2015, 8:44 AM

Building bridges – when it boils down to it, that’s a big part of what education is really all about.

The Kakehashi Project, operating with the slogan “The Bridge for Tomorrow,” extended that bridge to Ridgewood when 23 Japanese students visited the village as part of the cultural and educational exchange program.

The Kakehashi Project is the United States-focused portion of an effort by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan to “enhance bilateral youth exchange and mutual understanding” between the U.S. and Japan, according to the Ministry.

Ridgewood families hosted the Japanese students from Takamatsu High School from March 23 to 26. While in the village, the students “shadowed” fellow students at Ridgewood High School (RHS) by attending and participating in classes with them. The students will also visit San Francisco before returning to Japan.

The 23 Takmatsu students’ arrival in Ridgewood represents the second and final phase of the project. Last summer, 23 Ridgewood students took a 10-day trip to Japan, where they toured various parts of the country. They traveled through Tokyo and the mountainous Nagano Prefecture, exploring the cultures and educational foundations that have shaped that country.

Tokyo’s Fuchie High School served as the host school for the Ridgewood students. RHS was selected as one of just 47 American high schools to participate in the Kakehashi Project.

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Why Japan has bet its revival on humanoid robots


Why Japan has bet its revival on humanoid robots
By David R. Baker

Updated 8:53 pm, Friday, December 12, 2014

TOKYO — Tap a touch screen in the Miraikan science museum, and a woman seated nearby on a plush white chair beams a placid smile. Tap another icon, and her too-smooth face twists into a scowl.

Watch a corner of the screen, and see the museum through a camera embedded in one of her eyes. Speak into a microphone, and your voice comes out of the robot’s mouth.

“This is just a trial,” said Yuko Okayama, the museum’s manager of international affairs. “But in the future, people might live with this. We want visitors to think what it’s like, living with robots.”

Japan loves robots, a fascination nurtured by decades of manga and anime. And if the Japanese government gets its way, that love could spark a revolution.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls robots a “pillar” of his efforts to revive Japan’s stalled economy and deal with the country’s shrinking, aging population. And he’s not just talking about industrial robots like the ones that powered Japan’s rise to auto-manufacturing dominance in the 1980s.

Japanese researchers have created humanoid robots that can walk and run, and some with faces that mimic emotions with startling accuracy. Abe foresees robots helping out in nursing homes and hotels. Others, humanoid or not, could respond to disasters like the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. It is a growth industry, he says, that Japan should lead.