Climate Change May Usher in a New Era of Trade Wars. Efforts to mitigate climate change are prompting countries across the world to embrace dramatically different policies toward industry and trade, bringing governments into conflict.“
“These new clashes over climate policy are straining international alliances and the global trading system, hinting at a future in which policies aimed at staving off environmental catastrophe could also result in more frequent cross-border trade wars.”
UK must respond as prospect of transatlantic trade war looms large…“
“Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act …is a gigantic piece of pump-priming, a $369bn package dangling generous subsidies and incentives to stimulate the take-up and roll-out of green energy across the US… The EU… is horrified… Also unhappy is Canada… while Japan and South Korea have also been aggrieved. The act, then, threatens to spark a trade war.”
Central banks are buying gold at the fastest rate in half a century.“
“Central banks are stocking up. Three economists—Serkan Arslanalp and Chima Simpson-Bell at the International Monetary Fund, and Barry Eichengreen at UC Berkeley—have published a new report pointing out that gold, far from being on the way out as an international reserve currency, has been coming back in.”
The Fed finds itself in a nasty hole… There is never a good moment for the US government to hit its ceiling for debt issuance… Now, however, is particularly inopportune timing for this fight. “
“That is partly because big foreign buyers have quietly trimmed their Treasury purchases in the last year, and this might accelerate… It is also because liquidity has repeatedly vanished from the Treasuries sector at times of stress in recent years… This could easily reoccur in a debt-ceiling shock, since these structural problems remain (lamentably) unaddressed.”
U.S. economy doesn’t look as good as GDP suggests…“
“…a large increase in inventories, or unsold goods, generated about half of the growth in GDP the fourth quarter… A falling international trade deficit and higher government spending, meanwhile, also padded GDP in the fourth quarter… Even consumer and business spending wasn’t as strong as it looked.”
Economy grows, even as U.S. braces for recession.“
“…the coming year is peppered with potential landmines that could reshape the 2024 election, with most CEOs and Wall Street economists expecting a recession to hit later this year, triggered by the highest borrowing costs in decades.”
UK Business Confidence Drops to Lowest Since Financial Crisis.“
“Business confidence in Britain has sunk to its lowest level since the global financial crisis, according to a survey of accountants, amid persistently high inflation and fears that the country is already in a recession.”
UK cost-of-living crisis pushes mothers to the brink…“
“”We have suicidal mums… we have kids who just managed to come through the pandemic only to find this terrible cost-of-living crisis,” said Wester-Okiya. “Broken mums, broken homes, broken families. The mums are depressed, the kids are crying all the time.””
[UK] Bankers’ pay rises three times as fast as nurses’ since 2008 crash, TUC finds.“
“Bankers’ pay has risen more than three times as fast as nurses’ pay since the 2008 financial crisis, according to an analysis by the TUC, which said low paid nurses are being forced to rely on handouts from food banks.”
Thousands of doctors, nurses, teachers and taxi drivers took to the streets of Barcelona and other major Catalan cities on Wednesday, pointing out their poor working conditions and low wages.“
“Barcelona saw the protests of more than 15,000 doctors and nurses, according to official figures, to avoid, as they said, the collapse of the region’s health system.”
European petrochemicals and fertilizer sectors suffered from the record gas & electricity prices in 2022. “
“Many of them stopped production, whilst returning in the latter part of 2022, when prices lowered a bit.
“Still, a great share is offline or running at a reduced capacity.”
Ukraine’s harvest of grains and oilseeds will see further declines in 2023 as Russia’s invasion drags on, an industry official warned on Thursday, putting further pressure on global prices for essential foodstuffs.“
“Planting acreage will again shrink and the total harvest is forecast at 53 million tonnes for 2023 after 65 million tonnes last year… Ukraine’s farmers had produced a record 106 million tonnes in 2021…”
New Zealand drink makers slash production as CO2 shortage strikes.“
“A temporary shutdown of New Zealand’s only liquid carbon dioxide plant has prompted beer and soda makers to slash production at the height of summer and warn of drink supplies drying up.”
The Bank of Japan is facing a fresh headache in the dysfunctional local bond market — it has become so illiquid that some securities are being kicked out of an important global index.“
“Japanese government bonds expiring in March 2032 and March 2024 are among the issues that have been booted out of the World Government Bond Index…”
Korea’s GDP shrinks 0.4% in Q4, 1st contraction in 10 quarters.“
“The Korean economy contracted 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the previous three months, with the twin engines of growth ― private spending and exports ― declining simultaneously amid a global economic slowdown, the Bank of Korea (BOK) said Thursday.”
Hong Kong exports slump 28.9 per cent in December, marking biggest monthly drop in 7 decades.“
“Hong Kong exports fell a staggering 28.9 per cent year on year in December, the biggest monthly drop in seven decades, amid a deteriorating external environment and disruptions to cross-boundary land transport. The decline followed a drop in November, when exports contracted 24.1 per cent…”
Soaring prices and smuggling: The Philippines are in an ‘onion crisis’…“
“Onions now cost more than meat in the Philippines. As the country undergoes near-unprecedented levels of inflation… The shortage and consequent price surges come after billions of pesos worth of crops were destroyed by a series of typhoons in 2022.”
Pakistan’s economy nears collapse as foreign currency reserves plunge…“
““Every day matters now. It’s simply not clear what the way out is,” said Abid Hasan, a former adviser to the World Bank. “Even if they get a billion [dollars] or two to roll over . . . things are so bad that it’s going to be just a Band-Aid at best.” …Pakistan argues that pushing through painful austerity measures while it is recovering from the floods is impractical…”
Gas shortage renders Iran’s air quality ‘unbreathable’ due to mazut pollution…“
“The lack of natural gas for power plants in Iran has another side effect beyond the cold and darkness across Iran. It has polluted the air with toxic elements. Faced with massive shortages, Iranian authorities are running the engines in the power plants to generate as much electricity as possible by burning “mazut”, a polluting, cheap and low-grade heavy fuel oil.”
Gov’t mismanagement, external pressures as Arab currencies crash…“
“The Iraqi dinar has lost 7 percent of its value since mid-November, leading to the sacking of the central bank governor on Monday. In September, the Tunisian dinar reached a record low versus the dollar… Meanwhile, the currencies of other countries, including Syria, Sudan, Lebanon and Egypt, were among the world’s worst-performing currencies in 2022.”
Cameroon: Memvé’éle dam’s low production leads to rolling blackouts…“
“…six of Cameroon’s ten regions will be left in the dark from time to time over the next two months, impacting economic activities and household comfort. Sources revealed that the Memvé’élé dam is forecasted to not reach its 211 MW installed capacity this year, due to the low flow of the Ntem River…”
[President] Buhari Gets 78-Hour Ultimatum To Resolve [Nigeria’s] Fuel Crisis.“
“A coalition of civil society organisations operating under the auspices of Civil Society Coalition for Economic Wellbeing and Good Governance, yesterday issued a 78-hour ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari to end fuel scarcity or face mass protest.”
Thousands march in Cape Town to protest energy crisis.“
“The demonstrators gathered in the centre of the financial capital of Africa’s most industrialised nation to march on the headquarters of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party… Some held signs reading “enough is enough”, “power to the people” and “load-shedding is killing jobs.”
Photos: Power cuts grinding South Africa’s food sector to a halt.“
“From dairy farms unable to keep milk refrigerated to chickens suffocating en masse as ventilators fall idle, an energy crisis is taking a heavy toll on South Africa’s food sector, industry groups say. Record power cuts have caused shortages of some staples…”
The rolling blackouts in South Africa are jeopardising the mining output in South Africa – one of the few things our country has left to rely on.“
“According to Statistics SA, mining output decreased by 9% year-on-year in November 2022 and, so far, loadshedding in 2023 strongly indicates that the worst is yet to come, threatening platinum and palladium supplies in the top miner…”
Latin America’s Mining Troubles Add to Copper Supply Concerns.“
“From Peru’s social unrest to Panama’s industry intervention, Latin America is becoming a trickier destination for big diggers… Copper isn’t the only mineral in the crosshairs… We may be only at the start of a new wave of popular disruption and resource nationalism with which miners — and the wider world — will have to contend.”
Peru faces food, fuel shortages as Boluarte defiant.“
“Shortages in Peru of basic products, including increasingly expensive fuel and food, mount further Wednesday, as the president remained defiant in the face of relentless protests. Dozens of roadblocks are hindering freight deliveries to the country’s south…”
Credit ratings agency Moody’s reported that Argentina’s US$1 billion sovereign debt buyback announced last week constitutes “a default under our definition”.“
“The agency called the buyback, which mainly involves two dollar-denominated bonds that mature in 2029 and 2030, a “distressed exchange,” which qualifies as a default according to their criteria.”
Haiti police block streets, break into airport to protest officer killings.“
“Haitian police officers on Thursday blocked streets and forced their way into the country’s main airport to protest the recent killing of officers by armed gangs expanding their grip on the Caribbean nation.”
Multiple crises unleash one of the lowest global economic outputs in recent decades, says UN report.“
“A series of severe and mutually reinforcing shocks — the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and resulting food and energy crises, surging inflation, debt tightening, as well as the climate emergency — battered the world economy in 2022. Against this backdrop, world output growth is projected to decelerate from an estimated 3.0 per cent in 2022 to 1.9 per cent in 2023, marking one of the lowest growth rates in recent decades…”
You can read the previous “Economic” thread here. I’ll be back over the weekend with a “Climate” thread.
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Africa makes you ‘world streetwise’
Glad I don’t live in Haiti. Surely that is the place that has been applying for some time along with Somalia where the fewest sun holidays will be booked. Gruesome and for those who live there daily a hell on earth. Biden has now and sausage in front of them :The Biden parole will let 30,000 migrants a month from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti enter the U.S. for two years if they apply for it in their home country – and not make dangerous trips to the overwhelmed U.S. southern border and the Florida Keys……. But it won’t be like that 🙂
Your selection of posts on Africa and energy I always read with great attention. If you have ever flown over it at night you will understand why they call it the ‘black’ continent…. No electricity only endless fires.
Take Cameroon… once a bit of an odd French British German colony….
If you look at ‘ worldometers’ of the country, with incidentally the sometimes snowy Mount Cameroon the highest peak in West Africa, on electricity consumption you will understand why. For a population anyway about half that of England/France there is 1.3 gig installed…. In France 85.6 gig ! And oh well then a dam fails too.
We are very concerned about deforestation in the Amazon. In Cameroon, 200,000 hectares of forest are lost every year…. This is because they burn that up for cooking and turn it into charcoal. That’s the downside of no energy infrastructure and an exploding population.
And then they are now going to build a new dam in the same river for a lot of money whose flow is questionable anyway…. But !!! we Europe need them because they produce LNG gas…an admittedly half Gazprom company but who cares .
Somehow we remain banal colonists anyway whether we are Europeans, Chinese or Russians.
A distant uncle of mine was once a missionary in Cameroon and every year we raised money for the leprosy patients there. Fascinating stories and photos about ‘ the past of the future’….’Out of Africa’, who wouldn’t want to go there. Africa makes you ‘ world streetwise’. Hope you have been there once or many times.
Thanks for your efforts…. It motivates me to connect the ‘ general with a focused research’ when posting, and this time that was Cameroon…. Thanks to pastor and missionary JH Stelma.
But even then it was not all fluff and the missionaries were not sure of their lives.
Zip, you are welcome and thank you for your thoughtful insights. The first I ever heard of Cameroon was the terrible Lake Nyos disaster: