Daily updates on climate change and the global economy.

30th Jan 2023 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

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.

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.

27th Jan 2023 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

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.

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.

25th Jan 2023 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

The international business community expects a challenging 2023 marked by geopolitical tensions, high inflation and the energy crisis, according to the Eurochambres global economic survey published Wednesday.

“The Eurochambres’ report, based on the responses of trade and commerce organisations representing around 70% of world GDP, shows prolonged geopolitical tensions and instability as the top challenges for the global economy this year.”


A Summer of Sovereign-Debt Crises Could Be Coming. Is the Fed Ready?

“…The truth of the matter is that for different reasons we could have debt crises as early as this summer in the world’s three largest sovereign bond markets: the United States, Japan, and Italy. Should any of these crises occur, they could shake up currently illiquid world financial markets. They could do so in much the same way as the recent U.K. gilt-market meltdown in the wake of former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s ill-advised budget shook up U.K. financial markets.”


The leveraged loan ‘downgrade wave’ is starting as era of cheap debt fades.

A credit downgrade wave has begun to hit the highflying $1.4 trillion U.S. leveraged loan market as the Federal Reserve’s rapid pace of interest rate hikes threatens companies hooked on cheap debt… warning signs of potential stress have emerged as companies with shakier finances navigate a slowing U.S. economy and a higher interest rate world.”


The U.S. Economy Is Screwed Whether Inflation Slows Or Not…

“Pick your poison:

1.) Hyperinflation returns leading to recession/depression.
2.) Inflation moderates, financial markets likely see gains, but consumers remain squeezed.
3.) Inflation turns to deflation, recession becomes near-certainty.”


A key barometer for the health of the economy continues to flash a recession warning sign, indicating a downturn is in store for the US in the near future. A growing number of business leaders agree the US economy is getting worse.

“America is not in an official recession — not yet, anyway — but the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index declined for the 10th consecutive month…”


Doomsday prepper has enough food to survive five years in case of disaster…

“For Gubba who lives just outside Seattle in Washington, USA, worrying about the end of the world is more than a once-a-year thing. She keeps the pantry on her 30-acre farm packed with cans, rice and pasta at all times, deploying oxygen absorbers and freeze-drying techniques to keep it all edible for as long as possible.”


UK Asks Consumers to Cut Energy Use as London Freezes.

“The UK grid is asking some households to cut energy use on Monday — a request which is likely to be extended Tuesday — as a plunge in wind power and freezing temperatures across the country test its ability to keep the lights on.”


UK borrowing pushed to new record amid energy crisis and debt bill.

“British government borrowing shot up to a December record on the back of a climbing debt interest bill and the cost of energy subsidies for households and businesses. Official figures show public sector borrowing hit £27.4 billion last month, the highest for December since equivalent records began…”


There are growing fears that 2023 could see a wave of company collapses as the cost of living crisis continues [UK].

“The number of firms on the brink of going bust jumped by more than a third at the end of last year, said insolvency firm Begbies Traynor. It expects this number to rise due to higher costs, firms repaying Covid loans and consumers cutting back.”


France to move ahead on pension reform despite protests.

“France’s government says it will continue with plans to hike the retirement age by two years to 64, among other reforms. It says this is necessary to restore economic balance — but unions strongly disagree.”


Italy Braces for Disruption as Gas Stations Begin Strike.

“Italy is bracing for two days of disruptions after gas station operators across the country started a strike late Tuesday to protest against a new policy introduced by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government… Italy’s strike comes on the heels of widespread labor protests in the UK and following strikes in France against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform.”


The Dutch government plans to close the Groningen gas field this year despite Europe’s precarious supply position. Groningen is the largest gas field in Europe…

““We won’t open up more because of the safety issues,” Hans Vijbrief told the FT. “It is politically totally unviable. But apart from that, I’m not going to do it because it means that you increase the chances of earthquakes, which I don’t want to be responsible for.””


Germany is still years from substituting Russian pipeline gas imports with liquefied natural gas capacities, according to estimates by the country’s Economy Ministry…

“But it will take until 2026 for Germany to install 56 billion cubic meters of domestic LNG import capacity, about the same it imported by pipe from Russia in 2021…”


Is Europe Sleepwalking Into Another War? The continent’s last major conflict in the Balkans never stopped smoldering, and a fragile peace is at a precipice…

“…in a tinderbox of division and mutual distrust, a small spark can easily become a raging fire. A diplomat in Belgrade, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said it was shocking to watch Europe flirt with a second conflict in recent months.”


The Doomsday Clock reveals how close we are to total annihilation.

On Tuesday, the clock was set at 90 seconds until midnight — the closest to the hour it has ever been, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which created the clock in 1947. Midnight represents the moment at which we will have made Earth uninhabitable for humanity.”


Australian inflation hits 33-year high on energy costs and tourism rebound…

“Official data on Wednesday showed that inflation rose 7.8 per cent year on year in the October to December quarter, the highest rate since 1990. The reading will dash hopes of a pause in rising interest rates, which have climbed 3 per cent since May, putting pressure on household finances.”


Bank of Japan Owns More Than 100% of Some Debt as Bonds Go Round and Round.

“Japan’s broken bond market continued to throw up anomalies with central bank ownership of some government debt exceeding the amount outstanding, according to its latest data… How the central bank can own more than 100% of a bond is down to double counting…”


Kepco debt crisis exposes South Korean vulnerabilities…

“Unless prices are raised much further Kepco’s debts are likely to mount. By crowding out other borrowers, the scale of Kepco’s bond issuance has already contributed to an autumn liquidity crunch that triggered government and central bank interventions in October last year. But if prices are raised substantially, this could not only feed inflation but also weaken the country’s prized export competitiveness.”


Chinese migrant workers face crackdown for ‘malicious’ protests over unpaid wages…

“More than a dozen cities across China have in recent weeks threatened to punish workers who take “extremist” measures, such as protests blocking traffic or outside government offices, to get the money they are owed.”


Natural Gas Shortages Hit China as Temperatures Plunge.

“Local governments starved for cash after enormous spending on costly “zero Covid” measures cannot afford to keep up adequate supplies of gas… The lack of natural gas, which is used widely across China to heat homes and businesses, has angered tens of millions of people and spilled over into caustic complaints on social media.”


As Uzbekistan freezes, is it exporting valuable gas to China – or not?

“As Uzbekistan freezes amid rampant power shortages in its coldest winter for half a century, there is a million dollar question on the lips of its shivering citizens. Is the government exporting gas that could be powering heating plants and pumping warmth into people’s homes?”


Pakistan’s economic crisis forcing its army to retreat from Balochistan…

“To confirm the report of the Pakistan army’s withdrawal from Kahan, an oil-rich region in Kohistan Marri, the Hamgaam News contacted the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) sources which confirmed that the army has abandoned several of its check posts from Kahan and adjoining areas including some of its main cantonments.”


Pakistan imports luxury cars worth $1.2 billion amid economic crisis.

“According to the reports by The News International newspaper, cash-strapped Pakistan has spent $1.2 billion on the imports of transportation items like luxury cars and electric vehicles during the last six months.”


Iraq sacks central bank governor as dinar slides in value.

“Iraq has dismissed the governor of the Central Bank of Iraq and replaced him with the monetary authority’s former chief as the government tries to stem a big decline in the country’s currency.”


‘Eggs Are Luxury Items, Avoid Buying Rice in Bulk’: Egypt Heads towards a Financial Crisis.

“Egypt is facing a financial crisis mostly because it has allowed the military to run a parallel government… Sisi commissioned the building of a new capital, 45kms from Cairo, and in that new city he has given contracts to companies associated with Egyptian military to build Africa’s tallest skyscraper and a mega-mosque. He also purchased a jumbo jet for himself worth $500m…”


South Africa Government Sued by Opposition Over Power Crisis.

“South Africa’s biggest labor union and three opposition parties sued the nation’s president, the energy and public enterprises ministries and power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. over their approach to ending a 15-year energy crisis.”


South Africa Inquires About Rapid Deployment of Power Ships.

“South Africa made fresh inquiries about securing electricity supply from Turkey’s Karpowership as it battles its worst ever power outages, according to people familiar with the situation. The approach follows a stalled attempt to procure 1,220 megawatts of emergency power from the company, a process that’s been mired in legal battles…”


Venezuelan public workers resume protests to demand pay hike.

“Thousands of public employees took to the streets again in a number of Venezuelan cities on Monday to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the country’s democracy and to demand that the government give them a pay hike that “allows (us) to live with dignity.””


Violent Demonstrations Roil Peru’s Southern Copper and Tourism Heartland.

“The focus of Peru’s violent unrest shifted back to the impoverished rural south after mass demonstrations in Lima last week failed to unseat the fragile government of President Dina Boluarte… The copper-rich south of Peru is the heartland of the country’s mining industry, as well as its tourism sector.”


As deadly protests continue, Peru’s government faces crisis…

“… the burning question on the minds of millions of Peruvians is: How does their nation overcome this deadly political impasse? “”I don’t see another path forward that doesn’t mean more repression, possible loss of life or extreme instability, impasse and paralysis.””


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.

23rd Jan 2023 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

Global PC shipments saw a record decline in the fourth quarter of 2022 amid economic headwinds, global inflationary pressures and stagnant PC demand, according to a recent report.

“PC shipments in the three months ended December 31 fell 27.8 per cent year on year to 65.2 million units, according to data from Counterpoint Research. For the full year, shipments declined 15 per cent.”


Global Foundry Sales Set to Drop in 2023 in Blow to Taiwan, South Korea.

Revenues in global contract chipmaking, or foundries, are projected to fall this year as demand cools rapidly for the advanced chips that have bolstered Asian technology-driven economies Taiwan and South Korea… The gloomy projection underscores the pace of the global economic downturn.


South Korea’s early trade data showed a decline in exports persisting this month in the latest sign of a global economic slowdown…

“Waning semiconductor demand is at the heart of the decline in Korea… Trade performance has far-reaching implications for Korea as the economy relies heavily on global commerce to drive growth.”


Google announces 12,000 layoffs worldwide as tech giants continue to slash jobs…

“The firings add to tens of thousands of other job losses recently announced by Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook parent Meta and other tech companies as they tighten their belts amid a darkening outlook for the industry.”


Banks prepare for deepest job cuts since the financial crisis… Firings expected to be ‘super brutal’, with Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley already laying off staff…

“And just like 15 years ago, the prospect of quickly finding re-employment for those now out of work is bleak, according to recruiters.”


A growing number of Americans face potentially crippling credit-card debt… Americans are piling on credit-card debt just as interest rates are reaching historic highs.

“Multiple polls show American consumers sinking deeper into credit-card debt. A new survey from Bankrate, the consumer finance company, found 46 percent of cardholders carrying credit-card balances from month to month, up from 39 percent a year ago.”


Americans Are Struggling To Pay Car Loans.

“An alarming number of Americans with auto loans are struggling to make monthly payments. Auto loan performance saw further deterioration in December, and loan delinquencies jumped. Of all loans, severely delinquent ones have reached the highest rate since the financial crisis about 15 years ago.”


Finland’s interest payments take a ‘giant leap’.

“Interest payments are approaching record highs in Finland, taking a “giant” three-fold leap compared to last year because of the pandemic and increased government borrowing, the Ministry of Finance’s Director General Mika Niemelä said in a recent interview.”


Protests in Stockholm, including Koran-burning, draw strong condemnation from Turkey.

“Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Saturday that a planned visit by his Swedish counterpart to Ankara has been canceled after Swedish authorities granted permission for protests in Stockholm.”


‘There is no room’: anti-immigration protesters march in Dublin.

“Ireland has long prided itself on greeting visitors with warmth, styling itself the land of “a hundred thousand welcomes”, but now there is a new slogan: #IrelandIsFull… They are the cry of an anti-immigrant backlash that has spread across Dublin and other towns in recent weeks…”


Illegal migrants crackdown will block bank accounts, rented homes and driving licences [UK]…

“Migrants who entered the country illegally and are working in the black market face a new crackdown on their access to bank accounts, jobs in the gig economy and public services including education and health.”


‘Eating or breathing’: energy costs force stark choices on disabled people [UK].

“Soaring energy bills are forcing people with severe disabilities and chronic health conditions to choose in extreme cases between “eating or breathing” as they struggle to navigate the cost of living crisis, research shows.”


France protests: man lost testicle after clashes with police – lawyer.

“Doctors had to amputate the testicle of a young man who got clubbed in the groin by a police officer during demonstrations in Paris last week, according the man’s lawyer.”


Spain: Thousands stage anti-government protest in Madrid.

“Right-wing and far-right parties organized the rally, accusing leftist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of doing deals with coup leaders and terrorists. Spain is due for local, regional and national elections this year.”


Europe Is Bracing for a Sharp and Abrupt Real Estate Reversal… Borrowers face crunch as valuations fall and lending tightens…

Loans, bonds and other debt totalling about €1.9 trillion ($2.1 trillion) — nearly the size of the Italian economy — are secured against commercial property or extended to landlords in Europe and the UK, according to the European Banking Authority…”


Brazil and Argentina will this week announce that they are starting preparatory work on a common currency, in a move which could eventually create the world’s second-largest currency bloc.

“South America’s two biggest economies will discuss the plan at a summit in Buenos Aires this week and will invite other Latin American nations to join.”


Police violently raid Lima university and shut Machu Picchu amid Peru unrest…

“Amid the demonstrations and with roadblocks paralysing much of the country, Peruvian authorities on Saturday ordered the closure “until further notice” of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and the Inca trail that leads to the world heritage archeological site…”


Glencore halts operations in Peru due to violent protests.

“Following Friday’s attack that set on fire a worker housing area, Glencore announced that it has halted operations at the Antapaccay copper mine in southern Peru… Prior to this incident, Glencore’s mine, one of the country’s largest, was operating only with 38% of its workforce due to protests.”


The Cuban government is facing a high-stakes court case over unpaid commercial debt…

“The legal battle is over a portion of Cuba’s unpaid commercial debt dating back to the 1980s. If Cuba loses, it could ultimately cost the island nation billions in long overdue payments — and, in a worst-case scenario, lead to the seizure of government-owned assets such as oil tankers and in-bound wire transfers.”


‘I gasped for air as the cyanide kicked in’: South Africa’s battle against murderous corruption.

“Hours after resigning as chief of his country’s troubled national power generator [Eskom], Andre de Ruyter suddenly began to feel violently ill… Mr de Ruyter told The Telegraph he had underestimated Eskom’s problem with crime and corruption when he took on the top job.”


Ramaphosa Urges Delaying South Africa Power-Price Increases.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa has appealed to the board of South Africa’s cash-strapped power utility to suspend its biggest electricity-price increase in more than a decade as the nation faces two more years of rolling blackouts.”


Nigerians Count Losses as Power Grids Collapse Again…

“Today’s reality is that Nigerians continue to rely heavily on generators, which consume vast amounts of resources due to the high cost of diesel and petrol, and there is no public power.”


Economic crisis: Is Egypt the ‘new Lebanon?’

“Food prices doubled, salaries halved, banks restricting withdrawals: Egyptians now have the same problems as the Lebanese. But if things get worse here, the fallout will be far more damaging.”


Lebanon’s recovering drug addicts risk relapse as economic crisis destroys hope…

“Across Lebanon, drug consumption has increased in line with the country’s financial crisis, which has seen a collapse in the value of the Lebanese pound that has plunged the majority of people into poverty. At the same time, the deterioration of the healthcare system has made relapses more frequent and made treating addiction harder.”


Erdogan Readies Debt Relief for Millions as Turkish Election Approaches.

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is preparing to announce what could be his costliest pre-election giveaway yet with a plan to offer debt relief to millions of people… his party has lost support among the poor, who’ve typically been among its most stalwart backers.”


Iran’s currency hits record low amid tensions with the West.

“Iran’s currency has reached an all-time record low amid increasing tensions with the West and the unrest gripping the country. On Sunday, the United States dollar went past the 450,000-rial mark for the first time on the open market.”


Pakistan has suffered nationwide power outages due to a “major breakdown” of the national grid…

“…the country lacks resources to run its oil and gas-powered plants, and the sector is heavily in debt. Inadequate investment in infrastructure and power lines has also resulted in the national grid suffering frequent breakdowns.”


Pakistan on the brink of mass deaths? ‘Only two days of medicine stock left in the country’…

“The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association raised an alarm, saying that they have only two days’ worth of medicines left in their stock. PPMA warned that the situation will worsen in the coming days if Letters of Credit are not released by the State Bank of Pakistan within a fortnight. This comes after the shortage of wheat…”


Afghanistan Is Disintegrating. It Can’t Afford to Give Up Opium’…

“The economy of Afghanistan is 80 or 90 percent agrarian, and opium is a hefty slice of that. There are no other sources [of income]. Afghanistan hardly has a raison d’etre without the drug trade and its auxiliary industries.”


Another Cold, Dark Winter That Central Asia Will Not Forget…

“In Tashkent, Central Asia’s largest city with around 3 million people, residents have been seen cooking meals on open fires on the street, echoing scenes from early December 2002 in the city of Ekibastuz, Kazakhstan, where a power plant went offline for the best part of a week.”


Will the World Face More Debt Crises in 2023?

“…A catastrophic debt crisis for developing nations is predicted for 2023, which will be made worse by a confluence of high interest rates, fast inflation, weak growth, and a strong currency [dollar, I assume]. This implies that even if the economic problems in borrowing nations worsen, attempts to reduce debt will have a very tough time succeeding.”


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.

20th Jan 2023 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

More rotting assets are lurking in the shadows of the financial system…

“The pandemic foreshadowed cracks in the credit system that the Federal Reserve papered over with its massive injections of liquidity in 2021. The need to tamper resurgent inflation has now stripped central bankers of that tool. And the hangover of years of policy-driven, frothy credit provision are now showing, as default rates in the U.S. and Europe escalate.

“The hangover from this subprime corporate lending will amplify any future downturn as companies struggling to service their debt laypeople off and reduce their capital investments amid a global economic slowdown. It will also test the financial system, daring central bankers to veer away from higher rates.”


We need to deal with regulatory blind spots in the financial system…

“In its ‘2023 Global Investment Outlook’, BlackRock paints a gloomy picture. The world’s most powerful asset management firm forecasts a painful recession and an unstable environment for investments. Contrary to what many investors assume, they would not be able to count on the support of the central banks in an emergency. What this seemingly frank assessment neglects to mention, however, is the considerable systemic risk posed by ‘shadow banks’ such as BlackRock itself.”


No, Banks Aren’t Stronger Than They Need to Be; Capital standards have proven their worth. They should be restored, not weakened…

So how much capital do banks really need? It’s hard to say precisely, but it’s abundantly clear that the biggest ones don’t have enough.


‘Greed is Good’ …The [UK] Government is Quietly Rolling Out Dozens of Changes that could ‘Unleash the Next Financial Crash’…

“Jesse Griffiths, chief executive of the Finance Innovation Lab, told Byline Times the package was the “biggest change to the rules since the 1980s”. As many as 100 reforms are on the cards. “Taken together they represent a push to roll back protections since the crash. The Financial Services bill makes regulators cheerleaders of the sector. It is… really worrying.””


Global Property Market Faces $175 Billion Debt Spiral.

“The slump in the world’s biggest asset class has spread from the housing market to commercial real estate, threatening to unleash waves of credit turmoil across the economy. Almost $175 billion of real estate credit is already distressed…”


The global construction slowdown could be upon us: Construction in 7 out of 10 countries worldwide is expected to decline this year…

“The forecast predicted falling construction activity this year in 82 of the 112 countries where data was collected. The declines are primarily due to higher mortgage rates worldwide, weaker economies, and reduced buying activity, as well as tighter budgets for homebuilders.”


Weak US Retail Sales, Factory Data Heighten Recession Concerns.

“US retail sales fell by the most in a year and business equipment production slumped, raising concerns that the economy is losing momentum under the weight of tighter Federal Reserve policy… Taken together, the data show a consumer that’s losing steam and business investment falling…”


FBI warns of neo-Nazi plots as attacks on Northwest power grid spike…

“Attacks like the one in Morton are on the rise in the Northwest – there have been 15 since June, more than in the previous six years combined. The recent attacks make this region a hotspot for such activity, according to a joint investigation by Oregon Public Broadcasting and KUOW. In most cases…”


Another electrical substation damaged by gunfire in North Carolina.

“An electrical substation in North Carolina has been damaged by gunfire, marking the third incident where a substation was damaged since November. An EnergyUnited substation was damaged around 3 a.m. Tuesday…”


Bank of England Says Banks Most Wary Since Financial Crisis About Lending to Households.

“UK banks are more hesitant about lending to households than at any point since the financial crisis more than a decade ago, the Bank of England said in figures that underscore the growing risks for the economy.”


UK Retail Sales Had Worst Year on Record in Spending Squeeze.

“UK retail sales fell unexpectedly last month, capping the worst year on record after a cost-of-living squeeze forced consumers to pay more for fewer goods. The volume of goods purchased in shops and online fell 5.8% from a year ago…”


Striking French workers lead 1 million people in protest over plans to raise retirement age.

“Strikes disrupted train services, flights, schools and businesses in France on Thursday as more than one million people protested against the government’s plans to raise the retirement age for most workers.”


Lagarde promises to ‘stay the course’ on high interest rates.

“Christine Lagarde warned financial markets on Thursday that the European Central Bank was determined to “stay the course” and signalled further big interest rate rises lay ahead to get inflation down.”


Cost of living: Japan inflation jumps to new 41-year high.

“Core consumer prices for last month rose by 4% from a year earlier, double the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) target level.

It puts further pressure on the central bank to put up its interest rates to help ease the rising cost of living.”


Dysfunction plagues Japan bond market as BOJ sticks to its guns…

“There are doubts over the BOJ’s ability to sustain bond purchases. The bank has bought 34 trillion yen ($265 billion) in bonds since December to defend its policy band. It is now believed to hold almost all of the three issues targeted by its unlimited bond-buying operations, which has thrown a wrench into trades by institutional investors.”


Drop in China-bound Japanese exports adds to fears of global downturn.

“Japan’s export growth slowed sharply in December as China-bound shipments fell for the first time in seven months, stoking fears of further slowdown in the global economy and external demand for Japanese shipments.”


Foreign Investors Pulled $91 Billion From China’s Bond Market Last Year.

“Foreigners cut their holdings of yuan-denominated bonds by the net equivalent of $91 billion in 2022. It was the only net annual outflow since China’s central bank began publishing foreign ownership figures in 2013…”


Too-big-to-fail Chinese banks have $550B capital gap to fill – S&P Global…

“While the Chinese government remains highly supportive of domestic banks, that does not mean the entire system would be bailed out in the event of a crisis, Ratings said, adding that the government’s vast resources could be outmatched by contagion effects of a massive systemic crisis.”


Peru Unrest Threatens to Choke Off Almost 2% of Global Copper Supply.

“Protests in Peru are threatening to choke off access to almost $4 billion worth of copper just as China’s emergence from Covid lockdowns promises to boost demand… Unrest has rattled Peru since the ouster and arrest of former President Pedro Castillo, upending commodity supply chains from metals to organic coffee.”


‘Takeover of Lima’: thousands march on Peru’s capital as unrest spreads.

“Thousands of protesters in Peru, many from the country’s heavily indigenous south, descended on Lima, the capital, on Thursday, angered by a mounting death toll since unrest erupted last month and calling for sweeping change.”


A Bolivian judge ruled Thursday that Santa Cruz Governor Luis Camacho, a leader long in opposition to the left-leaning federal government, must remain detained while he awaits trial.

“Camacho was arrested in December… Since then, weeks of protests and blockades in Camacho’s Santa Cruz region, an agricultural hub, have impacted trade with the rest of the country, putting pressure on political capital La Paz.”


An Energy Crisis Is Seeping Into South Africa’s Food Supply.

“The most severe power cuts ever experienced in South Africa are threatening food and water supplies and disrupting the lives of millions of people, including chicken farmers.”


South African businesses turn to diesel and solar panels as Eskom crisis deepens…

““When you’re running a business, you have to consider not just your stock, but the diesel you have to purchase. It’s very difficult for these businesses to survive,” said Thabi Leoka, an independent economist. Even phone calls or internet access were ordeals as mobile tower batteries ran out, she said.”


South Africa: Fresh Protests Erupt in Phoenix As Power Outages Continue.

“Fresh protests erupted in Phoenix, north of Durban, on Wednesday afternoon, with people taking to the streets and burning tyres. This comes after protests earlier this week were sparked by a 40-hour long power outage over the weekend. On Tuesday, ward 50 was again without power.”


Frequent blackouts cripple South African labs…

“In Johannesburg, paleoclimatologist Stephan Woodborne needs these faltering power supplies to run the African continent’s sole accelerator mass spectrometry facility, which uses radiocarbon dating to determine the age of historical artefacts, as well as biological, hydrological and geological samples.”


Malawi’s cholera outbreak exacerbated by inadequate funding for water and sanitation.

“Malawi’s worsening cholera crisis is the result of long-term neglect of the country’s water supplies and water testing urgently needed, specialists say. Malawi has been dealing with a cholera outbreak since March 2022 with 26,263 confirmed cases in 27 districts and 852 deaths as of this week…”


Cholera has been classified as a “deteriorating” situation which will further strain healthcare systems worldwide, the UK’s health authority announced today.

““The incident is deteriorating with increased implications for public health,” the UKHSA said, indicating that the threat to the UK has also been raised.”


Unrest and unsettled leaders bode ill for the Middle East in 2023…

“Last week there were warnings of civil war in Israel over Netanyahu weakening the Supreme Court… the worsening economic conditions and failing institutions in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria are beyond crisis point.”


Egypt’s economic situation is so dire that the government is asking people to eat chicken feet…

“Many Egyptians are furious that the government would ask citizens to resort to foods that are symbols of extreme poverty in the country… “(We have entered) the age of chicken feet, the collapse of the Egyptian pound… and drowning in debt,” tweeted Mohamed Al-Hashimi, a media personality, to his 400,000 followers.”


Lebanese pound slumps to new low as president vote fails again.

“Lebanon’s currency hit an all-time low against the dollar on the black market Thursday as politicians for an 11th time failed to elect a new president in the crisis-torn country… Since an unprecedented financial crisis hit Lebanon in late 2019, the currency has lost more than 95 percent of its value…”


Lebanon to take out $116m in loans for ailing electric grid.

“The cash-strapped country for over two years has struggled with rampant power cuts that have crippled much of public life, worsening a broader economic crisis that has pulled over three-quarters of the country’s population into poverty. Today, households only receive about an hour of state electricity per day…”


Lebanon’s middle class vanishes as economy collapses.

“Following years of political and economic crises, Lebanon’s population structure has changed, and not for the better… Lebanon’s capital Beirut has turned into a city of contrasts. Expensive cars park before popular restaurants and bars, while people of all ages rummage through bins for something edible.”


Balochistan unrest unnerves Pakistan, Army chief Munir blames ‘external enemies’…

“Not just terrorism, the Balochistan province of Pakistan is even facing an acute shortage of essential food items. Earlier this month, in the wake of the worsening economic situation in Pakistan, the Balochistan administration had sent an urgent missive to the Shehbaz Sharif-led government informing about the complete lack of wheat in the province.”


Bangladesh: Protests denouncing government’s plan to increase gas price rates possible across country into late January.

“Various opposition political groups, such as the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and other activists opposed to the government’s plan to increase gas prices may stage protests across the country into late January.”


The number of children grappling with various forms of undernutrition in Sri Lanka increased for the first time in at least six years in 2022, a government report and data from the health ministry indicate.

“The island nation of 22 million people is struggling with soaring prices, including of food, largely caused by its worst economic crisis since it gained independence in 1948.”


The worst thing about Davos? The Masters of the Universe think they are do-gooders…

“Davos and similar conclaves can only be understood as performances. They are the stage upon which the Masters of the Universe act out the dramatic narrative of their own lives. They are exercises in mutual self-affirmation: we’re here, and we are important.”


Davos elites need to wake up to ‘megathreats’ the world is facing…

“Where once interest rates were too low – or even negative – they have now been rising fast, driving up borrowing costs and creating the risk of cascading debt crises. The age of hyper-globalisation, free trade, offshoring, and just-in-time supply chains has yielded to a new era of deglobalisation, protectionism, reshoring (or “friend-shoring”), secure trade and “just-in-case” supply-chain redundancies.”


The Era of Markets ended in 2019. What comes next?

“…What comes next? The honest answer is nobody knows. What is clear is that we are moving towards a more multipolar world, instead of the American-dominated order. The bad news is that this is going hand-in-hand with rising protectionism, conflict and outright war.”


You can read the previous “Economic” thread here. I’ll be back over the weekend 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.

18th Jan 2023 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

Central banks risk setting off a financial earthquake with constant rate rises, warns ex-IMF economist… Odds of a major financial crisis are shortening, says Ken Rogoff.

“Breakneck monetary tightening by the major central banks is nearing a critical tipping point and risks triggering a chain-reaction of financial distress, the world’s leading expert on debt crises has warned.

“The combination of recession and rising real interest rates is very dangerous,” says Harvard professor Ken Rogoff, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund…

“He believes it was a minor miracle that the world averted financial crisis last year but the odds of a major accident are shortening as the delayed effects of past tightening feed through.

““We were very fortunate that we didn’t have a global systemic event in 2022, and we can count our blessings for that, but rates are still going higher and the risk keeps rising,” he told The Telegraph on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos.”


The dangerous spread of shadow banking.

Since the global financial crisis, regulators have restricted the lending abilities of traditional banks, leaving the riskier bits to non-bank financial institutions. The policy may have gravely backfired.”


We must tackle the looming global debt crisis before it’s too late…

“The world opened up a debt trap, by making the terms of borrowing attractive but risky. Covid-19, soaring energy and food prices, higher interest rates, a strong dollar and a global slowdown have now rendered the costs prohibitive, duly closing the trap upon these vulnerable countries.”


The world has a major debt problem. Is a reset coming?

“…There is no easy way out of a global debt crisis, write Chan and Dimitrijevic. Avoiding a crisis will require unpopular actions and a “great reset” of policymaker mindset. That may mean more cautious lending, curbing overconsumption and restructuring projects or entities that don’t make a profit.”


The World Economic Forum’s Klaus Schwab on What Lies Ahead…

“…when you have a restructuring of an economy, it bites into the purchasing power of the people. We should not look at the global economy with a crisis mindset and a short-term approach. We have to manage in a strategic way this transformation period, which may last three, four, five years and will be socially very painful.


The New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index, a gauge of manufacturing activity in the state, tumbled 21.7 points to negative 32.9 in January, the regional Fed bank said Tuesday.

“This is the lowest level since the worst of the pandemic in May 2020 and among the lowest levels in the survey’s history, the regional Fed bank said… Any reading below zero indicates contraction.”


Britain risks another Equitable Life-style savings crisis because of Brexit reforms, warns Bailey.

“Andrew Bailey said the package of reforms, which are intended to boost the competitiveness of the UK’s financial industry, increased the risk that pension providers could run out of capital to back up their promises. Mr Bailey cited the collapse of Equitable Life as an example. The demise of the world’s oldest mutual insurer was described as a “Ponzi scheme”…”


Higher UK energy bills here to stay, warns oil company boss.

“The boss of one of Europe’s biggest energy companies has warned that higher gas and electricity prices are here to stay and consumers should not expect them to return to levels seen before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”


A UK food wholesaler who supplies the catering trade has described the rise in food prices as “the worst I’ve seen in 40 years”.

“New figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed prices had risen on average 10.5% in the year to December 2022. Food prices have risen much faster.”


UK suffers worst strikes in 30 years as unions plan more action.

“Britain was in the grip of its worst industrial strife in more than 30 years even before the rail network and postal service ground to a halt over the festive period. Some 467,000 working days were lost to strikes in November…”


The British government wants to hand police unprecedented powers to handle protesters. Human rights activists say it’s an affront to democracy…

“The government issued a statement on Sunday night, in which it said it would table amendments to legislation that is already passing through Parliament called the Public Order Bill.”


Europe’s ban on Russian diesel could send pump prices even higher…

“Russia is the bloc’s biggest supplier, making up 29% of its total diesel imports last year, data from Rystad Energy shows. The fuel is the continent’s “economic workhorse,” Mark Williams, a research director at Wood Mackenzie, told CNN.”


Philip Lane [European Central Bank’s chief economist]: ‘We haven’t seen “normal” in Europe for a long time’…

“…we need to raise rates more. Once we’ve made further progress, the risks will be more two-sided, where we will have to balance the risks of doing too much versus doing too little. This is not just an issue about the next meeting or the next couple of meetings, it’s going to be an issue for the next year or two.”


Italian, Portuguese and Greek banks face debt ‘challenges’, says watchdog.

“A requirement for banks in the European Union to issue debt to plug depleted capital in a crisis is particularly challenging for lenders from Greece, Italy and Portugal, the bloc’s banking watchdog said on Monday.”


New Zealand Business Confidence Slumps to Worst Since 1970s.

“New Zealand business confidence slumped to the lowest since the 1970s in the fourth quarter as the prospect of higher interest rates and weaker demand fuel fears of a sharper-than-expected recession. Expectations for profits, investment and hiring have tumbled…”


China’s first population fall since 1961 creates ‘bleaker’ outlook for country…

“Speaking on the eve of the data’s release, Cai Fang, vice-chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, said China’s population had reached its peak in 2022, much earlier than expected.”


China’s latest source of unrest: Unpaid ‘zero Covid’ workers.

“In the eastern city of Hangzhou, witnesses said several workers climbed on the roof of a test kit factory and threatened to jump to protest unpaid furloughs. And at a separate test manufacturing plant in the city, workers protested for days over a wage dispute.”


Taiwan’s Economy Shrinks by Most Since Global Financial Crisis.

“Taiwan’s economy unexpectedly shrank last quarter, recording its worst contraction since the global financial crisis as waning global demand brought to an end a pandemic-fueled trade boom… The drag on the economy was “clearly from exports,” said Ho Woei Chen, an economist at United Overseas Bank Ltd. in Singapore.”


As more unrest looms, Peru leader calls for calm.

“With Peru’s capital bracing for two days of anti-government protests starting Wednesday, President Dina Boluarte called on the demonstrators flooding into Lima to gather “peacefully and calmly” — even as they demand her resignation. The South American country has been rocked by over five weeks of deadly protests…”


Venezuela’s teachers march for better pay amid soaring inflation.

“Teachers, retirees and workers’ unions have marched in at least six Venezuelan cities to demand better salaries as the government of President Nicolas Maduro faces renewed challenges in its attempt to fight inflation.”


Brazil Electric Towers Hit With Sabotage After Bolsonaro Supporters Riot.

“Brazil has suffered a series of attacks on electricity towers since the Jan. 8 capitol riots, an unnerving development for a major economy that has no history of infrastructure sabotage. Four pylons have been toppled and another 12 vandalized since Jan. 8…”


Financial Crisis likely to Worsen in many Arab Nations.

“There is a general concern that the Lebanese scenario may unfold in many Arab countries as a result of the financial crisis compounding other crises… All economic indicators suggest that 2023 will see several of these debts turn into crises that some of these countries may not be capable of handling.”


Egypt’s deepening economic crisis.

“…tens of millions of people are struggling to put food on their tables as the Egyptian pound has fallen to record lows and inflation soars above 20 per cent. The private sector is grappling with an almost year-long foreign currency shortage that is choking businesses. Egypt is a country in crisis.”


Saved from death at sea, Syrian refugees face deportation.

“Since the collapse of Lebanon’s economy in 2019, an increasing number of people — mostly Syrian and Palestinian refugees but also Lebanese citizens — have tried to leave the country and reach Europe by sea. The attempts often turn deadly.”


Thousands of tons of essential items stuck at Karachi port amid Pakistan economic crisis.

“Thousands of containers packed with essential food items, raw materials and medical equipment have been held up at Pakistan’s Karachi port as the country grapples with a desperate foreign exchange crisis. A shortage of crucial dollars has left banks refusing to issue new letters of credit for importers…


Protests erupt in PoK as residents grapple with economic, flour crisis…

Pakistan is facing its worst-ever flour crisis, with parts of the country reporting a shortage of wheat and stampedes reported from several areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan provinces. Tens of thousands spend hours daily to get the subsidised bags of flour…”


In Afghanistan’s battered healthcare system, power cuts can prove fatal…

“For hospitals and health clinics, electricity can mean the difference between life and death. Health workers scramble to keep a steady power flow to everything from the storage fridges for life-saving medicines, to the incubators cradling premature babies – in which a drop of temperature can have drastic effects on a newborn’s health.”


In Yemen, medical shortages compound suffering of cancer patients…

“”The hospital gives the medicines they have but the expensive medicines you have to go and buy them outside …we can’t afford these medicines,” Jabri said, pleading for help from well-wishers to send his son abroad for treatment.”


Tamil Protesters In Sri Lanka Pull Out Shampoo To Wash Hair As Police Fire Water Cannons…

“To shoo away the protesters, the Sri Lankan police fired water cannons at them. However, in a gesture of defiance, the protesters pulled out the shampoo and started using the sprayed water to wash their hair.”


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.