“…it doesn’t take a catastrophe like war or drought to disrupt [food supplies]. In Venezuela, a country blessed with rich oil reserves, a political crisis driven by rocketing inflation has led to shortages of food and medicine, forcing families to live off rotten meat and leading millions to leave the country all together. The Eurozone crisis that sent Greece’s economy to the brink of collapse also brought food shortages to the struggling country.
“Meanwhile, disease, poor weather and rising prices have led to shortages of a number of popular crops in recent years. Soaring rice prices led to panic buying in the Philippines and other Asian countries in 2008, causing a supply crisis for this staple food. Bad weather in Europe in 2017 saw prices of many vegetables rise while there also were worldwide shortages of avocados after several countries were hit by poor harvests.
“The fuel protests that hit the UK in 2000, where farmers and hauliers blockaded oil refineries and fuel depots, led to supermarkets rationing food as they struggled to get deliveries to restock their shelves. Even the stockpiling of food by schools, care homes, hospitals and pessimistic shoppers in the UK ahead of Brexit show what effect even the mere rumour of food shortages can have…”
“The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Tuesday that the bloc was prepared for a no-deal Brexit scenario.
“Barnier acknowledged that the UK’s House of Commons had voted against leaving the EU without a deal last week but cautioned: “Voting against a No Deal does not prevent it from happening.” His advice then followed: “Finalise all preparations for a no-deal scenario.””
“Trade body Oil and Gas UK has released its 2019 business outlook, setting out that new exploration is expected bounce back from last year, which saw lowest levels since the 1960s, while production is also on the rise.
“Meanwhile drilling activity is at a “record low rate” and supply chain firms remain under “significant financial stress”.”
“There was an important piece of economic news this month that most Irish people probably considered a good development. Mario Draghi, the governor of the European Central Bank, promised to keep the ECB base rate of interest at zero for at least the rest of the year…
“It was widely believed that the ECB would want to raise rates here, if only to build up some space for a cut before the arrival of the next recession, when it will be needed.”
“When Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank confirmed they are holding formal talks about a merger, critics were quick to question a tie-up that may lead to tens of thousands of job losses and the potential failure of a plan that may do little to address underlying problems at both banks.
“Now, the European Central Bank is adding its criticism to the mix.”
“That the region’s financial institutions, including some of the biggest, are in a state of grinding decline is a grave cause for concern—and not just for their stockholders and bondholders. Europe relies heavily on its lenders to fuel growth. Banks provide about three-quarters of financing to companies and nine-tenths of credit to households. In the U.S., corporations rely on capital markets—selling bonds and shares—for the bulk of their financing.
“BOTTOM LINE – Europe is even more dependent on strong banks to fuel its economy than the U.S. Yet the continent’s lenders can’t seem to find healthy profits.”
“Germany’s top economic experts have slashed their growth forecast for 2019 from 1.5 per cent to 0.8 per cent…”
“Indian women, especially those working in precarious informal sectors, are at the sharp end of what economists and opposition politicians describe as a jobs crisis in India.
According to the private Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), 90 percent of around 10 million jobs lost last year were held by women.”
“Confidence among Japanese manufacturers hit its weakest in two-and-a-half years in March, a Reuters poll showed, as global trade friction fuelled concerns that a postwar record growth cycle driven by Abenomics may be over…
“The central bank will closely read the results of its official tankan due out April 1…”
“Chief financial officers and even average U.S. citizens have been bracing themselves for a recession, either this year or next… A potential economic slowdown could convince the Federal Reserve to put off another interest rate hike, according to the poll. In January, 78% of respondents expected a rate hike sometime this year. That is down to 60% now.”
“Almost half of Americans carry a balance on their credit cards, a new survey finds, and paying it off is proving a challenge: Only about 30 percent of people with credit card debt say they’ll be able to wipe it out this year.”
“At 9%, or 5%, and certainly at 22% as back in the 1980’s, the Fed has plenty of room to lower rates. But at 2.4% or anywhere near that level, they don’t have much room above zero.
“THAT is one of the biggest threats to investors next time we do have a recession. And did I mention, we will have one at some point?”