Global pension assets record largest annual decline since the global financial crisis.“
““Last year we experienced, to an extent, a global ‘polycrisis’ where various risks combined, were amplified as a result, and manifested in significant asset falls. It is our view that these systemic risks will increase in the future and will emanate predominantly from environmental, societal and geopolitical sources,” said Marisa Hall, head of the Thinking Ahead Institute.”
Soaring energy prices triggered by the Russia-Ukraine conflict could push up to 141 million more people around the globe into extreme poverty, a study has found.“
“The cost of energy for households globally could have increased by between 62.6% and 112.9% since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a modelling study by an international group of scientists published in Nature Energy.”
Europe to face intense competition for gas with China this year, Shell warns… Energy giant says invasion of Ukraine has caused ‘structural shifts’ in gas market…“
“Shell cautioned there will not be enough liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies to meet global demand later this decade unless more money is put into new projects.”
Pentagon’s top China official to visit Taiwan amid rising bilateral tensions.“
“The Pentagon’s top China official is to visit Taiwan in the coming days, a rare trip to the island by a senior US defence policymaker that comes as relations between Washington and Beijing are mired in crisis over a suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down two weeks ago.”
Taiwan reports Chinese balloon found on northern island.“
“Taiwan’s Defense Ministry says it found a Chinese weather balloon on one of its outlying islands, amid U.S. accusations that such craft have been dispatched worldwide to spy on Washington and its allies.”
Britain Wargames a Crash Far Worse Than Covid If Chip Supplies [from Taiwan] Are Shut Off…“
“The UK is preparing a contingency exercise across multiple government departments, Bloomberg has learned, and the pandemic offered a mere preview of the chaos that tiny silicon wafers can unleash… The shock of a TSMC shutdown would be felt immediately and in every corner of British life.”
Taiwan’s Director of Chinese Affairs Dr Lai Chung has warned Australia could be China’s “next target” if Beijing successfully invades and takes over Taiwan.“
[Seems improbable to me but I post it to highlight the general atmosphere of worsening paranoia, as the species gaslights itself into psychosis with potentially combustible results.]
Russia has started deploying tactical nuclear weapons-armed vessels in the Baltic Sea for the first time in three decades, according to a Norwegian intelligence report…“
“The Norwegian intelligence report stated that… “It cannot be ruled out that a localised war could escalate into a wider conflict with direct military involvement of Russia, the United States, NATO, and Norway.””
We Are Not Frightened Enough – Nuclear Weapons And The Horrors They Pose… New survey reveals how the public understanding of “nuclear winter” is dangerously low…“
“In a statement, Paul Ingram, the senior researcher working on the CSER survey, explained how worrying the results are. “Ideas of nuclear winter are predominantly a lingering cultural memory”, he said, “as if it is the stuff of history, rather than a horribly contemporary risk.””
U.S. household debt jumps to record $16.90 trillion.“
“U.S. household debt jumped to a record $16.90 trillion from October through December last year, the largest quarterly increase in 20 years, as mortgage and credit card balances surged amid high inflation and rising interest rates, a Federal Reserve report showed on Thursday.”
Tuesday Morning, the discount home goods retailer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday, its second bankruptcy in three years.“
“It’s the latest example of the retail apocalypse, which is starting to creep back… Tuesday Morning joins a growing number of financially distressed retailers that have filed for bankruptcy this year.”
Fears for the futures: half of British youth believe they will never earn enough to support a family…“
“…this report shows that young people in 2023 are less satisfied and confident with money than they were then. The diminishing levels of happiness and confidence are accredited to the cost-of-living crisis and the upcoming recession. Young people are losing hope in the future and their ability to achieve their potential.”
Critical care nurses in England join strikes as pay dispute deepens.“
“The unprecedented move came as the UK’s biggest transport union announced four new strike dates and Royal Mail workers balloted overwhelmingly for up to six more months of walkouts… The tougher stance comes as the government refuses to reopen pay talks for the current financial year.”
Greece offers more aid to inflation-hit pensioners and businesses.“
“Greece’s conservative government on Wednesday announced more financial aid for pensioners, farmers and businesses hurt by inflation and costly energy bills, launching the latest measures months before a national election.”
Albania has third anti-government protest this week, PM called to resign.“
“The opposition and supporters held the third anti-government protest in a week outside of parliament in Tirana on Thursday, calling for the prime minister to resign and attempting to disrupt the parliamentary session.”
Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports plunged 25% year on year in January — their largest drop in 10 years.“
“Government data showed Singapore’s non-oil exports to its top markets led the wider decline, with exports to China falling by more than 41%, to the U.S. by 31.5% and to Hong Kong by more than 55% for the month.”
Japan’s Trade Deficit Smashes Record Amid Global Slowdown.“
“Japan’s trade deficit surged to a record in January, as exports to China sharply dropped and the global economy slowed. The trade gap jumped to 3.5 trillion yen ($26.1 billion) from 1.45 trillion yen in December, the finance ministry reported Thursday. The deficit far exceeded the previous record of 2.82 trillion yen…”
Amazon pollution: the stain on Ecuador’s oil boom.“
“…millions of hectares have been transformed — for better or worse — into Ecuador’s oil capital. The region’s forests are receding as pollution spreads, activists claim — the landscape increasingly dominated by wells, pipelines, tanker trucks, oil flares and processing plants. The government says oil income is essential for the country’s development, and that of its people.”
Peru protests jolt mine activity with Las Bambas, Antapaccay hit hardest.“
“Peru’s top copper mines are starting to see activity hit harder by protests and blockades in the country’s southern Andes, power data reviewed by Reuters shows, with Chinese-owned Las Bambas and Glencore PLC’s Antapaccay currently worst affected.”
Chile’s government cuts estimate for 2023 GDP.“
“The Chilean government on Thursday pared back its forecast for the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2023, saying it now expects a 0.7% economic contraction in the year, down from a 0.5% contraction seen earlier.”
Argentina faces a historic contraction of citrus fruits in the domestic market.“
“Corrientes’ citrus sector ran out of fruit in January and has been unable to calculate total losses, stated Nicolas Carlino… Citrus plantations have been affected by permanent water stress for three years, he stated. “The worst part about this lack of water is that its happening right now, while the fruit is growing, in the middle of summer, when the crops should be bearing fruit.””
Food Prices Hit 14-Year High as South Africa Power Cuts Escalate…“
“The increase in food prices came as state-owned Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. imposed power cuts of as long as 12 hours a day — the most severe outages yet — for nine days in January. Power cuts, known locally as loadshedding, have been implemented for 108 straight days because of frequent breakdownds at Eskom’s plants.”
Scores Killed, Injured in Clashes in Oil-Rich Somaliland Region…“
“Somaliland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week denied killing civilians and accused Somalia of trying to destabilize the oil-rich region. Last year, Somaliland defended its right to award oil-exploration licenses, after Somalia’s government declared the UK-based Genel Energy Plc’s operations there illegal.”
Two people died Thursday in clashes between anti-junta protesters and security forces in Guinea [also oil-rich]… with the country’s opposition coalition reporting “many arrests” and injuries from live ammunition.“
“Protesters took to the streets to demand a return to civilian rule, and the release of arrested activists and other political prisoners under the military junta that seized power in the West African nation in 2021.”
Police fire tear gas at supporters of Senegal opposition leader Sonko.“
“The demonstrations are the latest sign of unrest in the West African country where elections next year could pit Sonko against President Macky Sall, if the president seeks a third term, a move that opponents say is unconstitutional.”
Rioters have attacked bank ATMs and blocked roads in three Nigerian cities as anger spilled on the streets over a scarcity of cash, just days before the country’s general election.“
“Nigeria has been struggling with a shortage in physical cash since the central bank began to swap old bills of the local naira currency for new ones, leading to a shortfall in banknotes.”
A very dark experiment is under way in Nigeria, with deadly consequences. Since October 2021, 99.5% of Nigerians have refused to use the central bank's digital currency, the so-called e-Naira, preferring to continue using cash. So what did the central bank do? It doubled down.
— Nick Corbishley (@NickCorbishley) February 16, 2023
Ghana facing the worst economic catastrophe in our lifetimes – Kofi Bentil to Akufo-Addo…“
“He believes that the president needs to act decisively on same by making radical changes especially at the Ministry of Finance, where he wants all the political leadership led by minister Ken Ofori-Atta removed.”
Twelve years after Yemen uprising, people’s dreams are shattered.“
“As Yemen marks 12 years since the February 2011 uprising, aspirations remain unfulfilled and the unthinkable has happened as the country slipped into years of strife and then war, which pushed it into the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis. Today, 17 out of 33 million people in Yemen are food insecure…”
Egypt’s economic woe spreads across all classes.“
“Egyptians already battered by high prices fear they will face even steeper inflation. “All prices have increased but incomes have not,” said Robert Botros, a family therapist, who added that clients were cutting down on visits to save money. His children’s school fees have jumped 50 per cent since the start of the school year…”
Lebanese Depositors Smash Up, Burn Beirut Banks.“
“Several dozen Lebanese protesters attacked banks in a Beirut neighborhood on Thursday, while blocking roads protesting against informal restrictions on cash withdrawals in place for years and rapidly deteriorating economic conditions.”
Iran protests flare in several cities amid continuing unrest…“
“Since they began, at least 529 people have been killed in demonstrations, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran. More than 19,700 others have been detained by authorities amid a violent crackdown trying to suppress the dissent.”
Impoverished Afghans Turn To Booming Crystal-Meth Industry To Eke Out A Living…“
“Among them is Ahmad Wali, who lives in the remote province of Ghor in central Afghanistan. Wali is believed to be among the thousands of people who earn money by collecting ephedra, a wild herb that is used to make crystal meth. “For now, it is our only source of income,” he told RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi…”
How Pakistan is taking desperate economic measures for IMF bailout.“
“The Pakistan government is trying its best to secure a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the release of a critical bailout package, failing which it can slump into default.”
Sri Lanka hikes power prices by 66% hoping to gain IMF support.“
“The scale of the price rise will heap misery on Sri Lankans already struggling with inflation running at 54.2%. But, the government can barely able to afford vital imports due to a lack of foreign currency reserves, and has to convince international creditors that it will follow sound fiscal policies.”
The Managing Director of the IMF warned that we need to “think of the unthinkable,” as we live in “a more shock-prone world” impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the recent earthquake across Syria and Turkey…“
““What we are very concerned [about] is the unexpected,” Kristalina Georgieva said.”
You can read the previous “Economic” thread here. I’ll be back tomorrow with a “Climate” thread.
If you found value in this content, please help me continue this work by becoming a patron of my work via Patreon. And if you are already a subscriber or have donated – thank you! It is an enormous help as the cost-of-living crisis ratchets up here in the UK.
Ha! I never read/watch sky.news au I see the URL or logo and always move on without even registering their headline, until I saw your purple comment! I’ve always seen it as the Oz version of the US Fox News channel.
With all these reports from Africa, I had to open up a continental map, as my knowledge of African geography/politics is almost nil.
The edges of the industrialised world are indeed crumbling before our eyes. Institution of ‘austerity’ fiscal policies. While that has happened before in countries seeking IMF packages, I’ve never seen so many countries in the same boat at the same time.
As a trivial aside, or minor irritation, on climate news, northern hemisphere news are getting it slightly wrong… it’s EX-cyclone Gabrielle which dumped on NZ. Gabrielle burned out while still at sea, but still severe because the remnant rain depression is not just unusually south of where it should have moved (ie. below the tropic latitude band), but like other monsoons this season, then stalled over the north island.
Rain, thank you for clearing that up re cyclone Gabrielle; I hadn’t twigged.
UK Sky News is fairly anaemic politically, left leaning if anything, so I was surprised by the few clips I’ve seen of Sky News Australia on YouTube – it is, as you say, the equivalent of Fox in the US or GB News in the UK, and at least as bad for climate misinformation as either of them.
Thanks for your overview. but zooming in on ‘ energy poverty’ for a moment. The Guardian does believe very much in renewables as the solution to many energy problems… I don’t.
Anyway in the UK all seems not so good.
I don’t know if you yourself have many friends and acquaintances who have ‘heat’ and ‘inflation’ problems. Coronationstreet exists and is everywhere!
I hear it mostly from friends in the Netherlands who belong, let’s say, to the lower middle class and below. Many elderly people who do set the thermostat very low out of fear, etc.
Here in France, there are 6 million households that get an energy cheque every year, year after year. Every year I go with my wood supplier once to my departmental when he delivers wood to people who can’t actually afford it. That is instructive.
At the same time, the annual figures of EDF the world’s largest electricity producer were released today…..EDF posted a historic loss of 17.9 billion euros in 2022 and increased its debt to a record 64.5 billion euros. Its revenue grew 70% to 143.5 billion euros, driven by the rise in energy prices, but the group is in the red with a very heavy net loss, compared to a profit of 5.1 billion in 2021.
Difficult the problem of affordable energy…….
Interesting; thanks, Zip. Here’s an article about that huge loss at EDF:
“A price cap on energy for French consumers hit EDF profits hard but so did the enforced closure of many of its of nuclear power stations for repairs. The losses are the third biggest in French corporate history and the worst for more than 20 years. EDF’s debts have spiralled to €64.5bn.”
The cost of living crisis is indeed hitting vulnerable segments of the UK population very hard. We have to be grateful that the winter has so far been pretty mild.
We are very over-reliant on now expensive gas but have inadequate storage for it. Also, we are a net energy exporter turned importer (two decades ago now), which is a problem, given that a growth trajectory is so pivotal for an economy. I’m afraid the UK stands out as one of the very weakest developed nations.
Thanks for your response… over the years I have become something of an EDF nuclear specialist 🙂 The French government sets twice a year what the ‘ energy cost’ may be for consumers. They have determined that the price may go up by up to 15% on 1 February…. and so goes! In summer, a new price agreement is made etc etc. Since EDF is now a fully nationalised company again, some kind of ‘ utility’ balance is sought each time. What can the consultant pay and what does it cost to keep EDF’s nuclear arm afloat….
That’s tightrope walking on the narrow rope…. too cheap for EDF to function properly and too expensive for the ‘ yellow jacket’….
This year will be exciting because very soon the financing of the new nuclear fleet plans will have to be put in place. They are making a real attempt at utility pricing by using the French savings to good effect to finance a sloppy 50 billion after all….
Contrary to your article about increasing consumer credit in US, among others, France is curiously experiencing a reverse trend…. Consumer credit in the broadest sense from mortgages to cars etc is falling significantly while citizens’ savings balances are rising significantly.
This is also really encouraged; e.g. I have as many as six different savings bank accounts 🙂 some even pay out 6% on an annual basis.
Like Japan by the way, the balance of payments deficit is historically high. The only sector where there is a large surplus is the service sector and especially tourism…. that is the sacred economic cow.
Panopticon it’s good to have you back at the wheel, driving us thru the fantastical miasma.
Hard to believe it’s finally all coming apart at the seams.
Thanks, Curt. It is. And at the same time hard to believe how resilient the global economy has proven, even as it runs out of road. If you’d asked me beforehand whether it could survive the stresses of the pandemic, I would have guessed not.