“Banks are being rocked again as real estate losses mount… Nearly a year on from a banking crisis that led to the collapse of three US regional lenders and the emergency takeover of Credit Suisse in Europe, a fresh chill is running through banks as far apart as New York, Tokyo and Zurich.
“Common to all of them — mounting losses on lending to the troubled commercial property sector.”
“Regional bank that played rescuer in 2023 now in turmoil.
“New York Community Bancorp… initially fell 46% Wednesday after it reported a surprise net loss of $252 million for the fourth quarter and announced it slashed its dividend. Its 37% decline for the day was the largest one-day percentage drop in the stock’s history.”
“Japanese lender Aozora Bank Ltd. plunged for a second straight day after saying it would have its first loss in 15 years because of bad loans tied to US property.
“The company’s two-day tumble wiped out 33% of its value, equivalent to 128 billion yen ($870 million) in market capitalization.”
“US orders reprisal strikes against Iranian-backed militia.
“US defense secretary, Lloyd Austin… said all drones in the region attacking the US were of Iranian origin. The retaliatory strikes are expected to hit militia in Syria and possibly Iraq, though Austin did not specify the timing or precise location.”
“Shadow War With Iran Risks Turning Into a Direct Conflict.
“For the Biden administration, hitting Iran’s paramilitary forces risks a counterstrike against American troops or Middle East bases by Tehran’s formidable arsenal of advanced missiles and drones, expanding the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas into a wider regional conflict.”
“Iran not seeking war with US but ‘not afraid of it’, says military chief…
“The IRGC commander-in-chief, Maj Gen Hossein Salami, said: “We hear some threats from American officials about targeting Iran. We tell them that you tested us and we know each other. We do not leave any threat unanswered, and we do not look for war, but we are not afraid of it. This is the well-known truth.””
“China hacking threatens US infrastructure, FBI director warns, as Volt Typhoon botnet foiled.
“US officials say they have disrupted a state-backed Chinese effort to plant malware that could damage civilian infrastructure, as the head of the FBI warned that Beijing was positioning itself to disrupt daily life in America were the US and China ever to go to war.”
“US military stockpiling supplies in Australia in readiness for any confrontation with China.
“When US and Australian troops practised amphibious landings, ground combat and air operations last year, they drew headlines about the allies deepening defence cooperation to counter China’s growing military ambitions. But for US war planners preparing for a potential conflict over Taiwan, the high-profile Talisman Sabre exercises had a far more discrete value…”
“‘Gutter-level’ talk: China-Philippines discord deepens over Taiwan.
“The latest fracas over Taiwan follows increasingly aggressive Chinese activity over the past year in territories claimed by Manila. Experts said that upcoming Senate elections in the Philippines — where public opinion has turned against China — could lead to more provocative rhetoric that further fuels tensions.”
“World War 3 likely in next 5-10 years, think most Britons.
“Most also think nuclear weapons would be used if WW3 did break out… New YouGov data shows that most Britons are now braced for WW3, with 53% thinking it is likely that there will be another world war in the next 5-10 years.”
“Britain is set to test fire a nuclear missile in just a few days in a major show of force towards Iran and Russia.
“This will be the first time since 2016 that the UK will test fire a missile and it comes amid warnings that the world could be edging closer to World War III.”
“‘Almost inevitable’ UK will burn more gas and import more energy after Hinkley nuclear plant delayed, experts warn.
“Hinkley was due to provide 7% of the UK’s electricity from 2027. The latest delays to the clean power project raise questions about what will plug the gap and the impact on climate goals.”
“[UK] Wind Farms Are Overstating Their Output — And Consumers Are Paying For It.”
“Dozens of British wind farms run by some of Europe’s largest energy companies have routinely overestimated how much power they’ll produce, adding millions of pounds a year to consumers’ electricity bills, according to market records and interviews with power traders.”
“The financial crisis facing England’s councils is “out of control” with even well-run local authorities at risk of going bust, MPs have warned.
“A cross-party committee said the government must plug a £4bn funding gap to avoid a “severe impact” on services. They also called for council tax to be reformed, describing the current system as “outdated” and “regressive”.”
“Some 290,000 Finnish workers began two days of strike action on Thursday to protest against the right-wing government’s planned labour market reforms and proposed cuts to social welfare.
“Companies and labour unions said the strikes were expected to halt much of Finland’s air traffic, hit oil refinery output and close many shops, factories and kindergartens.”
“Fires erupt as farmers protest outside European Parliament in Brussels.
“Convoys with hundreds of angry farmers arrived in Brussels to protest their terms of work and pay, with fires lit outside European Parliament and police in riot gear firing tear gas. EU leaders met nearby.”
“Tractor-driving Portuguese farmers block roads to Spain as protests grow.
“Portuguese farmers used tractors to block at least three roads linking Portugal to Spain on Thursday, joining Europe-wide protests over a range of grievances, from cheaper imports to insufficient state aid and bureaucracy.”
“How much could the farmer protests cost Europe’s economy?
“…In the summer and autumn of last year, Europe had to grapple with extensive damage to forests and crops due to floods and wildfires. Consequently, many farmers lost their livestock and crops, and suffered serious financial losses… the farmers’ actions are further compounding the problems.”
“Slovaks ratchet up protests against government’s criminal law reform.
“Tens of thousands of people attended rallies across Slovakia on Thursday against plans by Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government to scrap the office that probes high-profile financial crimes, including cases close to the premier.”
“Western officials and Ukrainian soldiers are warning that rising tensions between President Volodymyr Zelensky and his top general could hamper the country’s war effort against Russia.
“The strains flared into view this week with speculation in Ukrainian political circles and news media that Zelensky was planning to dismiss Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhniy, the commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces.”
“Russia oil product exports fall by a third due to Ukrainian drone attacks on refineries.
“Russia has reduced gasoline and diesel exports to non-CIS countries by 37% and 23% respectively in January y/y, to compensate for unplanned repairs at refineries, the Ministry of Energy said on February 1… Ukraine has a new strategy, deploying new longer-range drones…”
“Airports And Emptiness: Inside The Azerbaijani Districts Recaptured From Armenia.
“Azerbaijan’s Fuzuli International airport bustled with journalists and minders on October 26, 2021, when President Ilham Aliyev opened the facility alongside his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Since then, the new airport has stood largely empty.”
“Nagorno-Karabakh refugees face difficult exile in Armenia…
“Azerbaijan took control of the Armenian-majority enclave in a lightning offensive last September, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee to Armenia. Now living in poverty, they dream of returning home to Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“‘We’ll Kill You’: Karakalpak Students Face Threats, Arrest In Uzbekistan For Voicing Support For Anti-Government Protests…
“The student is among dozens who have been arrested, fined, or expelled from universities since the mass anti-government protests erupted in Karakalpakstan’s capital, Nukus, in July 2022, according to activists.”
“Political unrest grows in Pakistan ahead of general elections.
“Just a week ahead of the country’s general elections, Islamabad is struggling to contain violence in its restive northwestern region. Pakistan’s security says it has killed 21 terrorists in Balochistan’s Mach and Kolpur areas in operations conducted after the militant attacks.”
“Pakistan: Unusually dry winter threatens food supply.
“Little rain has fallen in the past three months across Pakistan, and farmers are worried about their winter crops and missing agricultural production targets. Fareeda Nasrullah runs a small farm in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province and said the lack of rainfall is threatening her wheat crop this year.”
“Growing unrest in Syria’s Suwayda as Jordanian airstrikes and civilian deaths increase.
“As the civilian death toll continues to rise, Jordan has come under growing criticism for its airstrikes in southern Syria’s Suwayda Governorate, aimed at combatting drug trafficking and smuggling operations.”
“Revealed: Israel’s new Gaza border… Israel is accused of clearing a 1km “buffer zone” inside the Gaza Strip as part of a new security border that could shrink the overall size of the Palestinian territory.
“Satellite images analysed by The Telegraph show more than 1,000 buildings destroyed around the land perimeter of Gaza since the Oct 7 Hamas terror attacks.”
“The war in Gaza is exacerbating Egypt’s economic collapse…
“Egypt has been on the brink for some time. It was hit badly by a sharp rise in food prices from the war in Ukraine and its currency is one of the world’s worst-performing (see chart)… the [Gaza] conflict and its overspill in the Red Sea are threatening to tip it over the edge.”
“Cash-strapped Tunisia wants to take the unprecedented step of borrowing billions from its central bank to plug budget deficits and heal its economic crisis, a move that experts say could cause inflation and undermine confidence in institutions.
“In an emergency closed-door meeting, parliament’s finance committee on Wednesday considered President Kais Saied ‘s government’s request…”
“Nearly 8 million people have been displaced by the war in Sudan as the conflict enters its 10th month, the UN has announced.
“The conflict, which erupted on April 15, 2023, between the Rapid Support Forces Paramilitary group (RSF) and the Sudanese Army (SAF) after weeks of tensions linked to planned civilian rule, has killed at least 12,000 people according to the U.N.”
“Top Biden administration officials are set to hold high-level meetings with counterparts from Colombia in Bogotá next week amid increasing tensions with neighboring Venezuela.
“US Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer and the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere Juan González will travel to Colombia’s capital…”
“Some 25,000 people have been confined in their villages in the Colombian Amazon and risk running out of food as tensions soar between two guerrilla groups, a local governor said Thursday.
“”Confrontation is imminent” between the two dissident groups, which split from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after it signed a peace deal with the government in 2016…”
“Argentina police crack down on protests as lawmakers debate Milei’s sweeping reform bill.
“TV footage showed police firing rubber bullets and water cannons at hundreds of demonstrators opposed to the reform package… Myriam Bregman, a leftist lawmaker and former presidential hopeful, told reporters that a group of some 40 legislators urged police to stop the violence.”
“How a US mining firm sued Mexico for billions – for trying to protect its own seabed…
“Odyssey Marin Exploration had an ace up its sleeve… it used an obscure tool of international law called investor-state dispute settlement, which allows companies to bypass domestic courts. Suddenly, the fate of this seabed mine mattered far beyond this desert-fringed coast.
“Odyssey’s lawsuit had opened a window into an opaque legal system, one with the power to fatally undermine the abilities of countries to protect their own environments – just as the world teeters on the edge of climate and biodiversity breakdown.”
You can read the previous “Economic” thread here. I’ll be back tomorrow with a “Climate” thread.
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