Apologies for the geopolitics but this is currently the most important story for the global economy; I am not endorsing the position of either side but observing that de-escalation is looking less likely than ever:“Biden and Putin both implicitly tie their futures to the outcome in Ukraine.
“In their speeches, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin could not have been further apart in their interpretations of the past year, its culprits, causes, and consequence. But in one aspect they were agreed: this is a war intended to remain on the territory of Ukraine, but is being elevated into something far wider – a battle of survival between the west and Russia.”
Putin suspends nuclear pact, Biden says support for Ukraine ‘will not waver’…“
“Biden went on to say that “there should be no doubt: Our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided, and we will not tire.” …”The elites of the West do not hide their purpose. But they also cannot fail to realise that it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield,” Putin said.”
War in Ukraine defining new world order, says thinktank [looks more like a pre-collapse phase of splintering and fragmentation than the rising of a new order to me].“
“Almost a year after Russia’s war against Ukraine started, it has united the west, according to a 15-country survey – but exposed a widening gulf with the rest of the world that is defining the contours of a future global order.”
QE has become ‘Hotel California’ for central banks… While commercial lenders change behaviour when the balance sheet expands, they do not change it back when it shrinks…“
“… banks make greater claims on the system’s liquidity during QT, which may continue until there is a market blow-up.”
Money supply numbers have been sending important signals before and during the pandemic…“
“…by December last year the three-month annualised growth rate of broad money (M2) in the US had sunk to a stunning minus 5.4 per cent pushing the year-on-year growth rate into negative territory. One conclusion: the equity market is currently too sanguine about avoiding a recession. Another: time for a rethink about money.”
U.S. existing home sales slowed for the 12th consecutive month in January as high mortgage rates, surging inflation and steep home prices sapped consumer demand from the housing market.“
“Sales of previously owned homes tumbled 0.7% in January from the prior month to an annual rate of 4 million units, according to new data released Tuesday…”
UK House prices are the most expensive they’ve been for almost 150 years relative to average earnings, a new study has revealed.“
“The average house in the UK currently costs 9.1 times average earnings, according to a report by investment manager, Schroders. The in-depth study looked at property prices all the way back to 1845 and said last time they were as expensive was in 1876.”
Leveraged Real Estate in Europe Faces Its Reckoning.“
“The reckoning has begun for continental Europe’s highly leveraged real estate companies. With property values falling in response to higher borrowing costs, balance sheets are feeling the strain and bosses are taking defensive measures.”
Germany’s GDP is expected to decrease for the second quarter in a row, meaning the country is officially in a recession, according to predictions from the country’s central bank.“
“The German Federal Bank published on Monday its monthly report, predicting a shrinking economy for two quarters in a row – a trend economists characterise as a recession.”
Among the challenges facing French wine producers right now is finding enough glass to bottle their 2022 vintage – and it’s becoming so bad that some want the government to step in…“
“…shortages of glass started to become apparent in France during Covid-related restrictions, when furnaces stopped running a full capacity. Today, the production of glass is also reduced, but for a different reason: the cost of fuel to fire the furnaces.”
Shares in beleaguered lender Credit Suisse plunged to record lows today after it was revealed that chair Axel Lehmann is under investigation by Swiss regulators over potentially misleading claims he made to the media last year.“
“The Swiss financial regulator Finma is reportedly scrutinising whether Lehmann was aware that investors were still pulling cash from the firm when he told media that outflows had stabilised, Reuters reported.”
Australia’s politicians and Reserve Bank officials have obfuscated the extent of the economic challenges ahead.“
“The spin is that interest rate rises are temporary and for the best. The truth is that the cost of living and interest rates may stay high for some time to come… Long-term resource scarcity concerns loom. Shortages of water, food and non-renewable raw materials are likely because of rising demand, supply constraints and inadequate investment.”
A Queensland house builder is the latest construction company to go into liquidation as the industry is plunged into even deeper crisis.“
“Brisbane-based Pantha Homes has been wound up and put in the hands of liquidators as soaring raw material costs and rising interest rates wreak havoc.”
New Zealand hikes rates to over 14-year highs, flags more to come; kiwi rallies.“
“New Zealand’s central bank raised interest rates by 50 basis points to a more than 14-year high of 4.75% on Wednesday, and said it expects to keep tightening further as inflation remains too high, a hawkish signal that sent the local dollar surging.”
Japan manufacturers gloomy as global slowdown hurts.“
“Big manufacturers in Japan remained gloomy in February and the service-sector mood slid for a second straight month, a Reuters’ poll showed, a sign that the global slowdown is holding back the country’s recovery from COVID-induced economic doldrums.”
If you thought it was about time global semiconductor demand bottomed out, you may want to think again by looking at South Korea’s latest chip exports.“
“Korea’s shipments abroad of semiconductors that go into everything from computers to smartphones plunged 43.9% in the first 20 days of this month compared with a year earlier, according to the national customs office. That’s similar to the 44.5% drop for the full month of January.”
North Korea’s official newspaper has urged economic self-reliance amid reports of food shortages, arguing that relying on external aid to cope with the food situation would be like taking “poisoned candy”.“
“The commentary, published in the Rodong Sinmun on Wednesday, comes days after South Korea announced that the food crisis in North Korea “seems to have deteriorated”.”
China’s Coal Mining Boom Is Running on Fumes…“
“China’s emissions may have increased by 1.3% or decreased by 1% depending on how you interpret the data… Myllyvirta and Yan Qin, a carbon analyst for data provider Refinitiv, have offered an intriguing explanation for the conundrum — it’s possible that the quality of China’s coal is declining. That would mean that energy content (and thus emissions) are holding more or less steady, even as tonnage increases… There’s plenty of evidence to support this theory.”
India is invoking an emergency rule that will force some of the country’s biggest coal power plants to operate at full capacity, as the nation prepares to meet surging electricity demand and avoid blackouts.“
“Power stations operating on imported coal will be asked to run flat out for three months during the summer season to ease the burden on domestic coal supplies.”
Gas shortage exposes fragile South Asian economies to more pain…“
“Despite LNG prices having fallen from last year’s record highs, the superchilled fuel is still expensive for South Asian buyers as their currencies have weakened sharply, making it hard for them to boost LNG imports this year.”
Sri Lankan police disperse protesters demanding election… Sri Lankan police fired tear gas and a water cannon at opposition supporters…“
“Several thousand backers of Samagi Jana Balawegaya, or United Peoples’ Power party, shouted anti-government slogans as they marched toward the center of Colombo, where government offices and the president’s office and residence are located.”
Imran Khan plans mass protests as Pakistan races to secure IMF deal.“
“Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan said his allies plan to get arrested en masse on Wednesday in protests designed to destabilise the government, which is urgently seeking to secure an IMF bailout to avert a default.”
Iran rations euros as fights break out at foreign-exchange offices amid rial’s plunge to record lows…“
“Monday’s push to sell rials followed the currency’s rapid decline in value, dropping to a record low of 501,300 rials per US dollar. The day’s massive sell-off even led to fighting outside foreign-exchange offices, as customers tried to break through security, according to Bloomberg.”
Mass protests as Israel moves ahead with judicial ‘reform’…“
“Demonstrators from across Israel descended on Jerusalem on Monday to rally near the Knesset for a second straight week ahead of the first reading of the legislation to change the way judges are picked… Protesters accuse the government of a power grab…”
Sudanese demonstrators take to the streets to protest military rule.“
“Hundreds of Sudanese protesters took to the streets of Khartoum on Tuesday, demanding the ouster of the country’s military rulers and rejecting a deal from late last year for the gradual transfer of power to civilian leaders. Riot police fired tear gas at protesters, and confrontations took place between security and protesters.”
Tens of thousands of refugees flee from Somaliland clashes.“
“More than 60,000 Somali refugees have fled to Ethiopia after an escalation in fighting in the town of Las Anod, in the Sool region, where tensions between local people and the governing Somaliland authorities have been building for weeks.”
Patients dying as Nigerian cash crisis hits health services before election.“
“Several people have died and the lives of pregnant women and critically ill patients have been put at risk after a botched attempt to replace Nigeria’s currency in the buildup to Saturday’s general election left countless people unable to pay for treatment.”
South Africa Quietly Deepens Power Cuts to Unprecedented Level.“
“The company cut 7,045 megawatts from the grid, a practice locally referred to as loadshedding, in order to keep the grid from a total collapse, Sikonathi Mantshantsha said in a post on Twitter… the deepest level of outage on record…”
Financial sector plans for grid collapse.“
“South Africa’s financial services sector is panicking over the impact that a potential collapse of the national electricity grid could have on the country’s financial and monetary system.”
Protesters storm parliament in Suriname, dozens arrested and injured…“
“The demonstration, which was initially calm and organized, became increasingly aggressive and degenerated into the storming of the parliament building… The protesters were angry about… the economic crisis in Suriname. Inflation there, for example, is above 54 percent.”
These countries have been the hardest hit by food price inflation.“
“Historically high commodity prices, Russia’s war in Ukraine, volatile fertilizer markets and other causes, have left many countries facing a cost-of-living crisis with double- and even triple-digit food price inflation, according to the World Bank.”
Oil falls on worries interest rates will rise more and curb fuel demand.“
“Oil prices fell for a third trading session on Wednesday on expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will indicate later in the day that interest rates are set to rise more, stoking concerns of lower global economic growth and demand for fuel.”
You can read the previous “Economic” thread here. I’ll be back tomorrow with a “Climate” thread.
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Thanks for the overview.
You understand that, as a half-Frenchman and innkeeper 🙂 , am worried about the lack of bottles for white wine in particular. We should not have that this summer.
Still, I think it won’t be too bad. As often happens with impending shortages, people start hoarding…. It may seem like a paradox. Faced with a shortage of white glass bottles, winemakers have chosen to stock up.
In Sommier, for example, there is a stockpile of 400 000 bottles at the ready.
“It’s an exceptional situation, normally we have 10 times less stock in the cellar. We are forced to stock up more to make sure we can fulfil our customers’ orders in the next three months,” explains Thibault Crespin, cellar master of Aspères in Gard. Indeed due to energy prices and the closure of glass factories, delivery times for ‘ white wine’ (not easy to recycle!) have reached six months . So it is mainly a big cash flow gap….. thankfully!
Then on to something more serious…
Suriname. It is a former Dutch colony and because my mother’s sister fled there in World War II and stayed on as a lawyer, I have built up extensive knowledge about the country in exchanges and visits.
The Netherlands is still home to a large group of Surinamese 400,000 who migrated to the Netherlands after independence in 1975. The news was therefore widely reported there and led to a lot of emotions and rising tensions.
You often see this with problems in ‘former colonies’ and those who still feel Surinamese in the country of the former colonist.
Suriname is one of the most insightful developing countries that should potentially have a lot of potential due to its resource reserves. Suriname once figured (1980) as 19 the richest country in the world where raw materials were concerned; Aluminium, gold, hardwood etc; 30% of the population works in the often small-scale often criminal and illegal gold industry.
But yes commodities are a guarantee of prosperity and after the commodity crisis and the depletion of the most easily extractable aluminium reserves (Alcoa) in 2014/15, the country sank into a debt crisis and the economy became increasingly perverted by arms trade and drugs.
Their energy production is at least as interesting; It produces the most green energy in the world in percentage terms than through a huge Brokopondo reservoir built by ALcoa and the Netherlands.
But yes what is that about…. About twice nothing. I believe 350 Mwh on a population of 800,000 in a country the size of 60% of the UK!
In a country so big, so inaccessible and with so few inhabitants, it is impossible to build a viable economic and energy infrastructure…. even if reserves are still huge. It is the problem of almost all countries that depend mainly on high commodity prices.
Now all hope is pinned on oil resources which, like in neighbouring British Guiana, should start pulling the cart. Whether that will succeed remains to be seen. Hope and setbacks alternate and yet it will be the only possibility for that country not to fall completely into the financial and economic abyss like Venezuela.
I follow Suriname closely you will understand as an example for very many countries. I advise everyone to follow closely a ‘simple’ third world country to really understand the big picture. Soon I’m sure something about Eskom also another insightful example. Maybe an idea for you to pay attention to ‘ ‘energy theft’. After all, electricity and oil are easy to steal
Zip, thank you for your thoughts.
Re Guyana, it has enjoyed the fastest growing economy in the entire world these past few years, thanks to recent oil discoveries. Suriname’s situation is slightly less rosy: https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Surinames-Oil-Boom-Is-Far-From-Guaranteed.html
Yes the oil and gold rush… it must be an exciting time in Georgetown.
To give you a peek alongside all this economic and climatic newsgathering here is a nice article on ‘ what life is about’ 🙂
Lets go there….Good for your experiential wealth about the human species and what they are up to.
I’m sure you could make a wonderful documentary about it …. the toxic metal in the shadow of the gold/oil industry….