A heads-up that I am away for the first half of Feb, so Wednesday 1st will be my last thread until the 14th – my apologies. We are heading to the mainland for my father’s 80th birthday celebrations and are going to do some of the things we were too ill to do over our ill-fated Christmas break.
A huge thank you to my subscribers and anyone who has donated. In the immortal words of Bette Midler, you are the wind beneath my wings. 😎
‘Flying with one engine’: why global food supplies are at risk despite falling crop prices… Geopolitical uncertainty, volatile energy markets and climate change all pose a threat…“
“Food prices were already elevated before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine early last year, due to droughts and coronavirus pandemic-related hoarding by governments and businesses…
“…a potential El Niño next quarter . . . could wreak havoc on weather around the world,” said Kona Haque, head of research at commodity trader EDF Man. “Tropical developing countries have the potential to be most hit, with Asia turning drier under El Niño conditions, while South America could see excessive rainfall.”
“Relatively low grain inventory levels have added to analysts’ concerns about global food supplies.
Oil and gas investment needed for another 30 years, BP warns…“
“”“Natural declines in existing production sources mean there needs to be continuing upstream investment in oil and natural gas over the next 30 years,” wrote Spencer Dale, chief economist at BP, in the report… The warning comes as investors increasingly turn their backs on fossil fuels, with close to $40 trillion in global capital committed to divesting from fossil fuel companies.”
Commodity trade costs surge as industry seeks up to $500bn in extra finance.“
“High interest rates, volatile prices and the war in Ukraine have made it significantly more expensive to finance commodity trade… Changing trade patterns have made the global flow of raw materials less efficient and more costly to finance and are also likely to push up the price of commodities for consumers, according to a new study by consultancy McKinsey.”
Central banks prepare to lift interest rates to 15-year highs as investor jitters grow.“
“The world’s leading central banks are poised to raise interest rates this week to their highest levels since the financial crisis, stoking anxiety among some investors that this month’s record bond market rally underestimates the growing evidence of persistent inflation.”
US trade shifts on Covid and China tensions, but no ‘decoupling’ yet…“
“While security concerns have escalated and US imports from China fell after Washington and Beijing imposed tit-for-tat tariffs, trade has since climbed again. The numbers could rise further when 2022 trade data is released next month, pointing to how interlaced the world’s two biggest economies are.”
A top Republican in the United States Congress says the odds of conflict with China over Taiwan “are very high” after a US general caused consternation with a memo suggesting war would happen in two years’ time.“
“In a memo dated February 1 but released on Friday, General Mike Minihan, who heads the Air Mobility Command, wrote to the leadership of its roughly 110,000 members saying: “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.””
Americans are going ‘recession brunette’ as economic woes force cutbacks on luxuries like hair-coloring.“
“While an outright recession still hasn’t come, Americans are feeling the impacts of a slowing economy in their wallets. Inflation is still high, albeit cooling, but savings are dwindling, thousands of Americans are getting laid-off, and credit card debt is climbing.”
The Bank of England is set to raise rates again and we could still face a 2008 crunch…“
“The illiquidity of markets is something we all need to deal with. We are probably at a point over the next few months where we are going to find out the outcome of this. Using fixed income terminology, we are probably at the point of maximum convexity. This means we are in an unstable equilibrium. Something must happen.”
London £4 trillion stock market sees profit warnings hit financial crisis levels…“
“Against a backdrop of skyrocketing energy prices and slowing demand amid cost of living crisis, businesses have had to tell shareholders to brace for profits to come in under forecasts some 305 times over the last year, a 50 per cent increase from the 203 profit warnings issued in 2021…”
Frankfurt, Germany: Germany’s economy unexpectedly shrank at the end of 2022 due to the fallout from the war in Ukraine, official data showed Monday, even as hopes grow an energy crisis is easing.“
“Europe’s top economy contracted 0.2 percent in the October to December period compared to the previous quarter, according to preliminary figures from statistics authority Destatis.”
Hungary’s soaring inflation puts squeeze on Viktor Orbán“
“With long queues at petrol pumps, teachers blocking Budapest streets in a strike over pay and small-business owners demonstrating against tax rises, Hungary’s economic woes and the resulting public anger have wrongfooted rightwing prime minister Viktor Orbán and threaten to escalate his dispute with Brussels over frozen funding.”
Historic Crash for Memory Chips Threatens to Wipe Out Earnings…“
“The unprecedented crisis isn’t just wiping out cash at industry leaders SK Hynix Inc. and Micron Technology Inc., but also destabilizing their suppliers, denting Asian economies that rely on tech exports, and forcing the few remaining memory players to form alliances or even consider mergers.”
Taiwan’s export orders likely contracted again in December and at a faster clip than the previous month, a Reuters poll showed on Monday…“
“The median forecast from a poll of 13 economists was for export orders to fall by 25.6% from a year earlier… Taiwan’s export orders, a bellwether of global technology demand, fell by a worse-than-expected 23.4% in November.”
China’s 2022 smartphone shipments the lowest in 10 years, research firm says…“
“The total number of devices shipped was 286 million, down from 329 million in 2022. That meant total 2022 sales volume was the lowest since 2013 and the first time since then that annual sales have dropped below 300 million, IDC said in a report.”
Mongolia reels from impact of Russian sanctions…“
“The collateral damage ranges from complications in paying Russian companies on which Oyun-Erdene says Mongolia is “wholly dependent” for fuel, to the loss of revenues from airlines that once flew over the country.”
Pakistan lifts petrol, diesel prices by 35 rupees a litre.“
“Pakistan’s ministry of finance announced on Sunday petrol and diesel prices would rise by 35 rupees ($0.1400) a litre after the country’s currency value plummeted this week when price caps were removed. The decision came days before an International Monetary Fund mission will visit Pakistan…”
Iran: Nationwide uprising marks 135 days; People protest severe gas shortages.“
“Locals in Tehran’s numerous neighbourhoods, including Sadeghiyeh and Tehranpars, started singing anti-regime chants on Friday night that were directed primarily against Khamenei and the whole mullah system”
Drones target Iranian weapons factory in central city of Isfahan…“
“There was no immediate confirmation about who was responsible, but the attacks appear to fit a pattern of strikes against strategic sites across Iran that have been attributed to Israel in recent years. A fire erupted at a fuel refinery in the north-west of Iran at about the same time…”
Tens of thousands of Israelis have protested across the country against the right-wing government for the fourth consecutive week.“
“The latest rally was held on Saturday, with demonstrators carrying Israeli flags on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv chanting “No to dictatorship” and “Democracy”.”
UN agency warns of record rates of hunger in Syria…“
““Hunger soars to 12-year high in Syria,” as 70 percent of the population might soon be “unable to put food on the table for their families,” the statement said. “Syria now has the sixth highest number of food insecure people in the world,” the WFP added, with food prices increasing nearly 12-fold in three years.”
How IMF loans keep Sisi afloat as Egypt sinks deeper into debt.“
“Egypt has agreed three bailouts with the IMF under the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in office since 2014. It is currently the second biggest borrower from the IMF after Argentina. The IMF deals came against the backdrop of a shortage in foreign currency and skyrocketing debts.”
Moody’s downgrades Tunisia’s credit ratings amid funding crunch…“
“Moody’s cut Tunisia’s long-term foreign-currency and local-currency issuer ratings to Caa2 from Caa1 and changed the outlook to negative, the New York-based ratings agency said in a statement on Saturday. Caa ratings are judged to be of poor standing and are subject to very high credit risk.”
As spiraling economic crisis drags on, Sudanese tighten belts…“
“”We are trying to find cheaper alternatives to the food we normally consume,” said Soaad Bashir, a government employee and mother of four. “My income is meager, and expenses are too high,” said the 43-year-old who makes less than 200,000 Sudanese pounds per month.”
[Nigerian] Petrol consumers have continued to groan under the burden of skyrocketing prices, as Premium Motor Spirit almost hit N400 per litre over the weekend…“
“President Buhari had last week set up a 14-man committee that he would be heading to proffer solutions to the lingering fuel scarcity.”
Nigeria cost-of-living crisis sparks exodus of doctors…“
“”Imagine going to the grocery store one day, and everything has tripled in price? How do you even cope? You have a family at home. What do you cut out of the budget?” Oroma Cookey Gam tells me by Zoom, her face incredulous.”
Ghana Set for World’s Biggest Rate Hike So Far This Year…“
““We expect the Bank of Ghana to hike its policy rate by 200 basis points from 27% to 29% at its January meeting, following 250-basis point hikes at the two prior meetings,” Bojosi Morule and Andrew Matheny, economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said in an emailed response to questions.”
Haiti in turmoil as police riot over officer deaths.“
“The Haitian government is under mounting pressure amid violent protests by police, who have accused acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry of inaction. The UN is considering sending troops to stabilize the nation in crisis.”
1 killed in fresh clashes as Peru unrest toll rises to 65.“
“One person was killed as hundreds of anti-government protesters clashed with the Peruvian police on Saturday in Downtown Lima amid an ongoing nationwide unrest that has roiled the South American country for weeks. “We regret the death of Víctor Santisteban Yacsavilca in today’s violent demonstrations,” Peru’s ombudsman tweeted.”
China’s MMG flags production halt at Las Bambas in Peru due to protests…“
“Peru, the world’s second-largest copper producer, has been gripped by growing unrest following weeks of sometimes violent anti-government protests triggered by the ouster of the country’s former president last month.”
Mining giant ‘sorry’ over lost radioactive capsule in Australia.“
“Mining giant Rio Tinto says it is working with authorities to try to find a radioactive capsule that went missing in Western Australia this month. “We recognise this is clearly very concerning and are sorry for the alarm it has caused,” the firm told the BBC.”
You can read the previous “Economic” thread here. I’ll be back tomorrow with a “Climate” thread.
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Yes that Bette Midler is really famous for her quotes after all… “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” and more wisecracks like that.
I know she is right, because we happen to have only daughters and our grandchildren, all growing up girls, are also busy with their looks by now.
So the funniest post was your post on the ‘ brunette crisis haircut’… ‘recession brunettes…’Very instructive and telling what cost trade-offs are made and the huge sums involved. All ‘ discretionary economics’ they then deftly say.
So when I add up what is spent on ‘ appearance and display’ it is indeed huge and is suddenly under real pressure.
Yesterday I had a lengthy video chat with the family ‘backhome’ (Netherlands) about also work inflation and recession that is now starting to bite after a year. A two-week holiday in Spain easily costs 8,000 euros for a day or fourteen and indeed, all that wellness, clothes and handbags 🙂 and what goes with it is now really starting to bite the ‘middle class’. That doesn’t seem to be a good thing 🙂
Some kind of ‘discretionary degrowth’ strategy they will have to apply or something.
Let’s see what problems that will cause in Dutch digital ‘ I’ll send you a tikkie’ society. You won’t know that in the UK, but that’s a digital wallet that lets you pay and transfer money instantly even at the Fish and Chips. Has your pocket money run out no problem just ask your parents for ‘ a tikkie’.
In the US, the system is called Venmo… ‘I’ll venmo you…’
Ok in the rest of the world it’s a lot less than in that extremely rich Dutch consumer paradise, but that kind of consideration doesn’t help with the cracks and fractures in your ‘ welfare consciousness’. Your own reference, expectations and consumption dreams are what matters.
Still, to get ‘serious’ for a moment… just looked at the BP investment forecasts for one of these energy giants betting on two scean trios…. Well when you see what they put down in their renewables sceanrio mining copper, nickel and lithium… you might wonder if they will mine that own’handy’….
I guess that will be a ‘a tikkie’ to the ‘fossil department’ one floor up or down to forage for diesel.:)
Zip, I think that Bette Midler song popped into my mind because the first article references flying with one engine. Funny how the subconscious operates!
Re the BP forecast… although the headline focuses on their call for more investment, what stands out is how all in they seem to be on the green energy transition. I wonder whether that talk is cynical realpolitik or if they are genuine believers. Oh, to be a fly on the boardroom wall…
If I were BP/Shell strategist I would be rubbing my hands with happiness! Left to right dependence on fossil fuels is 100%. The energy ‘transition’ is replacing steam with copper coils and advanced magnets with very many ‘rare minerals’…. no problem. You ask ‘ green or grey’ we run. Hier in delink een long read….
Have a good time with the family. Hopefully better than xmas. Happy birthday to your dad.
Thanks, Bry. My poor Dad is a little bummed out by the prospect of turning 80 tbh but we’re going to jolly him along!