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Global food prices are going up, and the timing couldn’t be worse. In Indonesia, tofu is 30% more expensive than it was in December. In Brazil, the price of local mainstay turtle beans is up 54% compared to last January. In Russia, consumers are paying 61% more for sugar than a year ago.

“Emerging markets are feeling the pain of a blistering surge in raw material costs, as commodities from oil to copper and grains are driven higher by [IMO ill-founded] expectations for a “roaring 20s” post-pandemic economic recovery as well as ultra-loose monetary policies [plus shipping and and climate disruptions].

“Consumers in the U.S., Canada and Europe won’t be immune either as companies — already under pressure from pandemic-related disruptions and rising transport and packaging costs — run out of ways to absorb the surge…

“While never welcome, the coming round of food inflation will be especially tough. As the pandemic wrought havoc on the global economy, it ushered in new concerns about hunger and malnutrition, even in the world’s wealthiest countries”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-01/inflation-2021-malnutrition-and-hunger-fears-rise-as-food-prices-soar-globally


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The U.S. House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 219–212, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package early Saturday morning that includes $1,400 stimulus checks to individuals, an extension of unemployment benefits, and tens of billions in aid for small businesses and not-for-profits.

“The bill, titled the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, H.R. 1319, also includes phased increases in the minimum wage that would bring it to $15 an hour by 2025.”

https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/news/2021/feb/house-passes-stimulus-bill-small-business-relief.html


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There was quite a spike in interest rates the last week of February with the 10-Year T-Note spiking from a 1.36% level as of the close on Wednesday to as high as 1.60% intraday…

“The immediate cause of the rate spike was the worst 7-year Treasury auction on record (i.e., the lowest bid to cover ratio). Notable was the lack of any Japanese participation, likely Chinese too. And with the upcoming massive “stimulus” package that passed the House of Representatives early Saturday morning, markets are seeing massive new debt that is likely to cause indigestion unless the Fed steps in with new rounds of QE.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2021/02/27/the-rate-spike-will-damage-the-recovery-fed-intervention-needed/?sh=7fa25da53fef


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In the past fortnight, and especially last week, global money markets have cratered and interest rates have soared. For many, it’s a shrug-your-shoulders incident, an obscure and esoteric event that has little bearing on everyday life.

“Except it isn’t. What has just occurred could have a profound impact on our future. It has the potential to delay and possibly derail the economic recovery now underway across the developed world. And, if it continues, it will wreak havoc with global stock markets during the next few months.”

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-01/why-interest-rates-are-soaring-and-what-it-means-for-you/13201602


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Coal terminal facing export slump amid Australia-China trade bans:

“Australia’s coal producers have been hit hard since COVID-19 restrictions slashed demand for the commodity and worsening diplomatic ties between Canberra and Beijing led to China unofficially black-listing Australian coal imports.”

https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/coal-terminal-facing-export-slump-amid-australia-china-trade-bans-20210226-p5764p.html


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The value of Chinese investment in Australia collapsed last year in the face of tougher scrutiny by Canberra, a breakdown in bilateral relations and a global downturn in foreign investment owing to the pandemic.

“New data show Chinese investment fell 61 per cent to A$1bn (US$780m) in 2020, down from A$2.6bn a year earlier and a peak in 2016 of A$16.5bn.”

https://www.ft.com/content/f8e9a93f-72a5-49c3-832c-9a36fb6d4113


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China’s exporters hit by global shortage of shipping containers:

“The surge in exports from China to the west, combined with disruption at ports due to coronavirus, has left many containers out of position, resulting in queues of ships outside ports and soaring freight rates. The Chinese media have dubbed it “a single box is hard to find”.”

https://www.ft.com/content/71818164-9f74-48ad-af10-88c3acf30190


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The Caixin China General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which gives an independent snapshot of the country’s manufacturing sector, fell to 50.9 in February from 51.5 the previous month, according to a report published Monday.

“…the pace [of growth] slowed for a third consecutive month.”

https://www.caixinglobal.com/2021-03-01/manufacturing-recovery-slows-as-employment-comes-under-pressure-caixin-pmi-shows-101667826.html


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A Chinese property developer backed by the country’s largest insurance group has defaulted on a $530m bond in the latest test for the country’s debt-laden real estate sector and the international investors backing it.

“The failure of China Fortune Land Development to repay the bond, investors in which include BlackRock and HSBC, comes against a backdrop of mounting pressure from Beijing on China’s biggest developers to reduce their debts.”

https://www.ft.com/content/de1c000a-8594-4e91-886c-c19398c21129


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Chinese Super League in disarray as champions Jiangsu cease operations: Chinese football was thrown into disarray on Sunday as the owners of reigning Chinese Super League champions Jiangsu FC announced the club would cease operations with immediate effect…

“The Jiangsu announcement comes days after Chinese FA Cup winners Shandong Luneng had their expulsion from the Asian Champions League confirmed by the Asian Football Confederation due to “overdue payables”.”

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/feb/28/chinese-super-league-in-disarray-as-champions-jiangsu-cease-operations


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Should the rich pay for the pandemic? Argentina thinks so. Other countries are taking a look.

“At his colonial-era estate in central Argentina, Gabriel De Raedemaeker says he’s already calculating what parts of his farm he might need to sell. It’s not that crops have failed or commodity prices are ailing. It’s the government’s new tax on wealth.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/world/argentina-tax-rich-covid-latin-america-b1805603.html


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Severe weather, culture clashes, hunger: Venezuelan migrants’ perilous journey to Chile.

“Venezuelan migrants trek on a mountain road crossing the high-altitude Chilean Altiplano and the Atacama Desert, considered the driest place on earth. The migrants face not only severe weather, but also a “culture clash” with local populations.”

https://news.yahoo.com/severe-weather-culture-clashes-hunger-050017101.html


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Thousands of Haitians protested Sunday in Port-au-Prince and several provincial towns against a spike in kidnappings by gangs, as well as accusing the president of establishing a new dictatorship.

“Earlier Sunday in the capital city, a 63-year-old pediatrician was murdered in front of his clinic by unidentified assailants who had sought to abduct him, neighbouring residents told local media.”

https://www.france24.com/en/americas/20210228-thousands-of-haitians-take-to-streets-to-protest-against-kidnappings-president


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Protests over the jailing of a Spanish rapper in a highly contentious free speech case turned violent again, after a brief respite, in the city of Barcelona where a police van was torched, and looting broke out on Saturday.

“Spain has been hit by widespread demonstrations since police jailed rapper Pablo Hasel on February 16. Several thousands of people marched peacefully on Saturday before small groups of people spun off and engaged in acts of vandalism.”

https://www.dw.com/en/spain-fresh-violence-erupts-at-protests-over-rappers-arrest/a-56727266


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Clashes have erupted between Athens police and protesters supporting a jailed far-left hitman, who was hospitalized after a long hunger strike. Officers deployed irritant gases in an attempt to muscle the mob into a metro station.

“Scuffles between dozens of left-wing protesters and law enforcement erupted in central Athens on Friday.”

https://www.rt.com/news/516740-greece-athens-protest-clashes/


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Algeria’s political protests poised to grow as economic crisis bites:

“The glue holding Algeria together is no longer binding. The country’s finances have been hit hard by low oil prices and the regime is unable to buy social peace as the currency, the economy and public services crumble further fueling the pro-democracy protests known as the Hirak.”

https://northafricapost.com/47937-algerias-political-protests-poised-to-grow-as-economic-crisis-bites.html


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Tunisia: Thousands protest amid political standoff.

“A spat among Tunisia’s president, prime minister and parliament has brought the government to a grinding halt as the country battles COVID and an economic recession.”

https://www.dw.com/en/tunisia-thousands-protest-amid-political-standoff/a-56727122


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Police in Kazakhstan detained dozens of protesters on Sunday (Feb 28) who were calling for the release of political prisoners in line with a resolution passed by the European Parliament.

“Government opponents were attempting their first protest since the resolution called for the European Union to prioritise rights in its relations with Kazakhstan, saying there had been a “worrying deterioration” in the oil-rich country.”

https://www.straitstimes.com/world/dozens-held-over-kazakh-political-prisoner-protest


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At least 21 protesters were injured Saturday in demonstrations in the provinces of Zikar and Najaf [Iraq].

“Fifteen demonstrators and six security officers were injured during the rallies in the two provinces as protests continue in Zikar for a sixth straight day because of a lack of public services.”

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/21-injured-in-protests-in-southern-iraq/2159481


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Last month, Malaysian authorities seized a Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777 plane, with passengers still on board, at Kuala Lumpur airport for not paying leasing fees worth $15 million.

“The embarrassing incident became the subject of memes, derision, and despair in Pakistani media circles. Awkward as the incident was, the unpaid leasing fees are just the tip of the iceberg and Pakistan’s debt problem has been in the making for some years now.

https://thewire.in/south-asia/pakistan-debt-crisis-intensifies-as-economic-mismanagement-continues-unabated


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Dozens were injured on Sunday as Bangladeshi police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at opposition activists to prevent new protests over the death of a writer in jail, police and a party official said.

“Live footage from local television station Channel 24 showed a road and footpath in front of the National Press Club — a favourite protest site in the capital Dhaka — turning into a battleground as police beat protesters with batons to disperse them.”

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210228-bangladesh-police-fire-rubber-bullets-tear-gas-at-new-opposition-protests


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Police have fired on protesters in Myanmar killing at least 18, the UN human rights office says, on the deadliest day of anti-coup rallies.

“Deaths were reported in several cities including Yangon, Dawei and Mandalay…

“….police used live rounds and tear gas.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-56228357


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The IMF no longer functions as the world’s safety net: The fund has deployed just 10% of its capacity during the pandemic, though it says it is ‘ready to help’…

“This begs the question, does the IMF provide help no one wants any more?

https://www.ft.com/content/9de8e963-850c-47ce-97f1-b0bf29b2b751


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Economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic is driving up hunger in fragile countries and threatening famine, Britain’s leading aid charities have warned.

“Thousands are likely to die this year as the knock-on effects of the world’s 15-month-long struggle against Covid-19 have left people unable to afford food.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/01/covid-pandemic-driving-hunger-fragile-states-warn-leading-charities/


You can read the previous ‘Economic’ thread here. I’ll be back tomorrow with a ‘Climate’ thread.

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