6th May 2021 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

Food insecurity in the world’s poorest countries reached record highs in 2020, with millions staring at famine, a situation exacerbated in part by the COVID pandemic, according to a UN report.

“From Haiti to Syria, some 155 million people across 55 countries who rely the most on humanitarian assistance were classified as being in “crisis” – meaning in urgent need of food – a 20 million increase since 2019, according to the report released Wednesday.

The report… attributed three main factors to the worsening situation: conflict, economic factors related to the COVID pandemic and climate change.”


US birth rate falls to lowest point since records began.

Birth rate in the United States fell 4% in 2020 to about 3.6 million babies, its sixth straight annual decline and the lowest since 1979, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”


Can’t find chicken wings, diapers, or a new car? Here’s a list of all the shortages hitting the reopening US economy.

“As the US economy increasingly reopens, it is seeing shortages of all sorts of items… Insider rounded up some of the major supply shortages and why they’re lagging.”


Fed Hawks Join the Chorus Playing Down Worries On Inflation

Fed officials want to ensure investors and the U.S. public are not alarmed by higher inflation readings in the coming months as the economy reopens… They are playing down the risk of economic overheating that has been raised by critics of President Joe Biden’s ambitious spending plans.”


White House grapples with reports of labor shortage, inflation as recovery picks up steam

“White House officials are carefully monitoring inflationary risks amid a flurry of concerns on Wall Street, particularly as news reports point to rising prices across sectors.

“National Economic Council Director Brian Deese has shown a keen interest in how White House officials are talking about inflation, worried about sending any signals the administration is overly concerned about it.”


French military ship heads to Jersey to join post-Brexit fishing protest as Royal Navy patrols waters.

“France has threatened to cut off Jersey’s electricity as it says fishing licences are being granted with conditions not agreed.”


Europe’s carmakers and pharmaceutical firms have suffered a slowdown in trade with the UK since the Brexit vote, according to the eurozone’s central bank.

“Researchers at the European Central Bank found that British imports of vehicles and pharmaceutical products have fallen “from stable double-digit positive growth to double-digit negative growth”.”


Cautious German Savers Brave the Stock Market: Earlier this year, a typical German investor, Michael Schact, 70… was told by his bank it wanted to charge him a negative 0.5% interest rate to hold his money.

“Furious, Mr. Schacht did something he never considered: He put it all in the market.”


Tunisia’s third COVID-19 wave: Doctors warn of health system collapse.

“Hospitals are full, oxygen supplies are low, doctors are exhausted and locals don’t trust the government. Why is Tunisia the worst affected country in North Africa?”


Chad unrest casts pall over debt deal and global relief push:

“Political turmoil in Chad has cast doubt over the Central African oil producer’s efforts to agree relief on its nearly $3 billion debt burden, widely seen as a test case for a global plan to help the world’s most indebted countries.”


Kyrgyzstan’s economy is going through the most serious crisis over the past years, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov said in Bishkek on Wednesday

“According to the president, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the Central Asian republic has failed to fully restore trade and economic ties with other states.”


Thousands of Afghans were forced to flee their homes as fierce fighting erupted between government forces and the Taliban in a southern province after the US military began withdrawing its remaining troops from Afghanistan, officials said yesterday.

“Afghan forces pushed back insurgent attacks on multiple checkpoints in the past 24 hours itself in the province of Helmand…”


Growth setback likely as rural India begins to reel from Covid-19.

“With India’s second wave of the coronavirus pandemic lashing at its interiors, the economic fallout is likely to be far more severe than the first wave, further delaying a recovery in Asia’s third-largest economy”


Cambodia’s COVID-19 lockdown has created an avoidable food crisis

“… with the arrival of the country’s first serious outbreak, the government has taken an approach that essentially manufactures a food security and economic crisis in the capital.”


North Korea faces economic ruin amid food and medicine shortages

“The country’s economy has been battered by more than a year of border restrictions imposed after the coronavirus outbreak, flooding caused by natural disasters, and international sanction…”


“Were corruption and corner cutting to blame?

Why the Mexico City metro crash was an avoidable tragedy… funding issues have been exacerbated by the economic slowdown caused by coronavirus.”


Creditors urge Belize for IMF involvement in debt overhaul.

“Holders of Belize sovereign bonds on Wednesday reiterated their call for the government to implement their economic policies under an International Monetary Fund-supported programme.”


‘No food and no fuel’: Colombia torn by protests and violent crackdown.

“Mass protests were held across Colombia on Wednesday after a night of unrest in the capital city, as street violence continued after more than a week of angry anti-government demonstrations. Twenty-three protesters and one police officer have been killed…”


The global chip shortage is set to ignite a power struggle between chip manufacturers and their customers about how the industry’s supply chain works and who pays the costs of carrying inventory.

“In an interview with the Financial Times, the chief executive of one of Europe’s biggest chipmakers said that customers would have to accept that their “dream is over”.”


The Chip Shortage Is Getting Worse at the Worst Possible Time

“The global semiconductor shortage is entering a new. more serious phase, with the potential to do damage to the stock prices of car manufacturers.”


Global economic recovery rests on cutting vaccine inequity: US trade chief.

“United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai says that making vaccines more widely available throughout the world is needed to end the coronavirus pandemic and foster economic recovery.”


Global Vaccine Crisis Sends Ominous Signal for Fighting Climate Change.

“The gap between rich and poor countries on vaccinations highlights the failure of richer nations to see it in their self-interest to urgently help poorer ones fight a shared crisis.”


You can read the previous ‘Economic’ thread here. I’ll be back tomorrow with a “Climate” thread.

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4th May 2021 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

Widespread Commodity Shortages Raise Inflation Fears: For products as diverse as lumber and microchips, price increases are filtering through the economy

“…commodity shortages… are rippling across the United States economy as growing demand for housing, cars, electronics and other goods runs up against supply chain congestion and high tariffs left behind by former President Donald J. Trump…

The shortages — and the price increases they are eliciting — are being watched closely by the Biden administration, which is under increasing pressure from industry groups and businesses to take steps to ease them.”


The survey from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) on Monday showed record-long lead times, wide-scale shortages of critical basic materials, rising commodities prices and difficulties in transporting products across industries [slowing US manufacturers].

The pandemic, now in its second year, has severely disrupted supply chains.”


Cash-rich US banks move to reduce corporate deposits: JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup take unusual step to avoid having to hold more capital… [a weird distortion caused by Fed interventions].

Jenn Piepszak, JPMorgan’s chief financial officer, acknowledged last month that “turning away deposits” was an “unnatural” action for banks, adding that such measures “cannot be good for the system in the long run”.”


Collapsing yields on risky US debt test investors’ limits.

“The additional premium investors are paid for buying the debt of the worst-rated companies in the US has fallen to its lowest level in seven years, raising warnings that the brightening outlook for the American economy is leading to excessive risk taking.


BofA Securities’ measure of Wall Street sell-side sentiment is pushing into euphoria territory, at the highest level since the Financial Crisis.

“The Sell Side Indicator, which tracks the recommended equity allocation by sell-side strategists rose to 59.8% from 59.4%, the highest it’s been in 13 years.”


The U.S. market’s CAPE [cyclically adjusted price/earnings ratio] is now the world’s highest and this gives stock investors little cover.

“The CAPE currently stands at 36.6 for the S&P 500 SPX, +0.27%, according to Shiller’s latest calculations. That’s higher than 98% of monthly readings since 1881, and more than double the 140-year average, suggesting an extremely overvalued market.”


Is the US headed toward a new housing bubble?

“The staggering rise of U.S. home prices is forcing thousands of aspiring buyers into grueling, often risky bidding wars, raising questions about whether the torrid housing market could be in a bubble.”


The US Government’s Debt-to-GDP Ratio Is Worse Than Greece’s Before the 2008 Crash (And It’s About to Get Worse).

“The US is in uncharted debt territory. That should worry us… ultimately the government doesn’t decide how much debt is bearable. The market does.”


U.S. National Debt Expected To Approach $89 Trillion By 2029 [larger than current global GDP].

“The U.S. national debt is rising at a pace never seen in the history of America… Washington is now debating an infrastructure bill with a price tag close to $2 trillion. Even without this additional spending, the national debt will approach $89 trillion by 2029…”


Boris Johnson must confront the worst-case scenario for the Union [United Kingdom]…

“We may be reaching the endgame of the Union. Its demise in coming years is not inevitable – but it is plausible. Nicola Sturgeon’s imminent victory in the Holyrood elections on Thursday will ramp up pressure for a new Scottish referendum… if it comes to it, [English Conservatives] must accept that a dignified end would be better than a disastrous collapse.


Over 90 German Police Injured in May Day Riots

“At least 93 police officers were injured and 354 protesters were detained after traditional May Day rallies in Berlin turned violent, the city’s top security official said Sunday.”


Euro-Area Factories Face Unprecedented Supply-Chain Delays.

“Euro-area manufacturers are battling unprecedented delays in securing raw materials and parts, leading to a record build-up of uncompleted orders and rising prices as the economy starts to recover.”


China Huarong Seeks to Reassure Investors That It Can Repay Debt

“China Huarong Asset Management Co. broke its silence over the embattled company’s financial position, with a company executive telling media the firm is prepared to make its bond payments and state backing remains intact.”


Philippines protests `blocking’ of its patrol ships by China.

“The Philippine government has protested the Chinese coast guard’s harassment of Philippine coast guard ships patrolling a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday.”


Australia could be on the verge of an all-out war with China as tensions between the two trading partners continue to escalate, a top general has warned his troops.

“Major-General Adam Findlay, formerly one of Australia’s top military commanders, said that a combat war with the communist nation was likely and we were already engaged in ‘grey zone’ warfare.”


Protests grow in South Korea over Japan’s Fukushima water release plan.

““Our industry is on course to suffer annihilating damage, just with people’s concerns about a possible radioactive contamination of marine products,” a coalition of 25 fisheries organisations said, in a written protest to the Japanese embassy last month.”


‘Hospitals are full’ as Argentina COVID-19 cases hit 3 million.

“Argentina coronavirus cases hit 3 million on Sunday since the pandemic began, as medical workers said hospitals were full to capacity despite toughened government measures to bring down the spread of infections.”


Five civilians and one police officer die in Colombia tax protests.

“At least five civilians and one police officer have died during protests against a government tax reform in Colombia since the start of unrest this week… At least 179 civilians and 216 police officers have been injured…”


Traders in Brazil face off with farmers as they default on deals [to take advantage of higher prices]

“Global grains merchants are using satellites and spies to surveil Brazil’s soybean heartland and deploying an army of lawyers to ensure farmers deliver promised crops instead of finding a different buyer at prices that have doubled since deals were made.”


A Summer of Sold-Out Ships Awaits as Sea Cargo Chaos Intensifies.

“Container shipping rates are heading higher again, driven to new heights by unrelenting consumer demand and company restocking from Europe to the U.S. that are exhausting the world economy’s capacity to move goods across oceans.”


The world risks “running out of copper” amid growing demand for the metal, paving the way for a spike in prices just as the global economic reopening gets under way, according to commodity strategists at Bank of America.

“Inventories, measured in metric tons, now stand at levels seen 15 years ago, “implying that stocks cover just 3.3 weeks of demand…””


You can read the previous ‘Economic’ thread here. I’ll be back tomorrow with a “Climate” thread.

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1st May 2021 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

Margin debt and leverage are flashing red, again.

“Much of the froth in US markets is being driven by unusual liquidity flows that may reverse soon…

Data collected by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority shows that total margin debt across Wall Street hit $822bn by the end of March — *after* Archegos had failed.

“That was almost double the $479bn level of this time last year and far more than the around $400bn peak that margin debt reached in 2007, just before the financial crisis.”


Affluent Americans Rush to Retire in New ‘Life-Is-Short’ Mindset.

“The unprecedented surge in shares and home values during an economic crisis is easing the retirement path for those who have savings and investments.”


European economies have lapsed into recession again as lockdowns and other pandemic-fighting measures further suppress economic activity.

With voters’ patience running thin, this might be the last chance establishment governments have to avoid a populist surge.”


Germany battles with a protracted slump as woes keep mounting.

“Lingering lockdowns and computer chip supply problems for its crucial car industry will prolong the Covid pain in Europe’s largest economy.”


China’s economic growth may have ‘peaked’, will ‘wane’ for rest of 2021 after April sentiment slowdown.

“China’s official manufacturing and non-manufacturing purchasing managers’ indices (PMI) dropped in April, but continued to show growth in the economy.”


China’s Hidden Bank Assets Are Emerging from the Shadows. Lenders are being pushed to recognize $1.3 trillion of products sold in racier times. That could prove costly.”


India COVID crisis: four reasons it will derail the world economy

If the leading powers fail to do everything they can to help out, India’s crisis will become a world crisis in short order, not only for health but also for the economy.”


India’s Covid Crisis Could Reach You, Too.

Should the overstretched Indian healthcare system collapse, it will trigger a humanitarian crisis that would set back the global fight against the coronavirus and reshape the geopolitical map of Asia.”


India’s covid crisis could result in oil glut.

“Worsening COVID outbreak is set to disturb the nearly balanced global oil market, which will show a surplus of oil supply of as much as 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) next month amid a sizeable loss of demand from the world’s third-largest oil importer, Rystad Energy says.”


India’s deepening water crisis at the heart of farm protests.

At the heart of India’s farm protests and decades-old agrarian crisis is a policy conundrum: India has been subsidizing the cultivation of rice in the north, but these are thirsty crops that have dramatically lowered the groundwater table.”


India Must Settle the Teesta River Dispute With Bangladesh for Lasting Gains.

The “Golden Era” in India-Bangladesh relations must also lead to resolution of the most vexing issue between the two.”


At least 31 people have been killed, scores injured and 10,000 evacuated after a water dispute led to some of the worst clashes in years on a disputed Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border.

“Clashes started on Wednesday when people from both sides hurled stones at each other after surveillance cameras were installed at a water facility.”


Sri Lanka declares worst economic downturn in 73 years.

“Sri Lanka announced Friday that its economy shrank 3.6 percent last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, making it the worst downturn since independence from Britain in 1948.”


“Worst economic crisis” in Tonga’s history.

“The economies of the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, and Tonga will continue to decline in 2021. “The COVID-19 pandemic is the worst economic crisis in the history of these countries,” said economist James Webb. “While lives have been saved, livelihoods have been lost.””


Brazil registers record 14.4 million unemployed.

“Pandemic-battered Brazil registered a record 14.4 million unemployed workers in the three-month period to February 2021, up two million from the year before, officials said Friday.”


Mexico’s young workers are desperate for jobs.

One in every six young people aged 18 to 29 in Latin America and the Caribbean has left work since the pandemic began, studies show.”


South Africa’s real GDP stopped growing 14 years ago.

Speaking at the Rotary Africa Centennial Conference, Finance Minister Mboweni said South Africa’s real GDP per capita stopped growing in 2007 and has now fallen to its 2005 level.”


Kenya meets IMF to review policy progress on Sh255 billion.

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday started reviewing policy reforms that saw it approve $2.34 billion (Sh255 billion) facility for Kenya early this month… The fund gave Kenya a number of demands especially on fiscal and governance.”


Tunisia to seek $4 billion IMF loan, PM says.

“Tunisia will seek a $4 billion loan programme from the International Monetary Fund in talks starting next week, Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi told Reuters on Friday, saying politicians faced a “last opportunity” to save the economy.”


Myanmar approaching point of economic collapse: UN report.

“The turmoil following the military coup in Myanmar, coupled with the impact of COVID-19 could result in up to 25 million people – nearly half of the country’s population, living in poverty by early next year, a United Nations report said on Friday.”


Tonnes of dead fish wash up on shore of polluted Lebanese lake

Ecological disasters are the last thing Lebanon needs as it suffers through an alarming financial collapse and the aftermath of a huge explosion that devastated Beirut port last August.”


Starving Malagasy forced to eat leaves, locusts for survival.

“Near-total disappearance of food sources has created a ‘full-blown nutrition emergency’ in southern Madagascar, World Food Programme warns.”


Soaring timber prices are just one more sign that inflation is on the way.

The price of lumber has risen by more than 230% since the onset of the coronavirus crisis and timber is now trading at all time highs of around US$1,188 per thousand board feet.”


Inflation tests pricing power of global brands.

Some of the world’s biggest consumer goods makers are pushing up prices for branded goods, from nappies to veggie burgers, testing their ability to pass on higher input costs to households.”


Global Chip Shortage Hits Apple, BMW, Ford as Crisis Worsens.

The global chip shortage is going from bad to worse with automakers on three continents joining tech giants Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. in flagging production cuts and lost revenue from the crisis.”


Shipping Delays and Supply Shortages to Constrain Firms All Year.

Companies worldwide expect supply-chain constraints resulting from logistics backlogs and the global semiconductor shortage to continue for much of this year.”


The Economic Consequences Of Bank Credit Contraction:

“As well as financing escalating government deficits, central banks face an additional problem of replacing contracting bank credit to the non-financial private sector if a slump is to be avoided.

“The problem comes at the worst possible time in the bank credit cycle, with commercial banks’ balance sheets as highly leveraged as they have ever been.”


You can read the previous ‘Economic’ thread here. I’ll be back on Monday 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.com.

29th April 2021 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

Markets are behaving dangerously but central banks have their heads in the sand

“…the Fed is increasingly caught up in a dilemma of its own making because the tide of cheap liquidity its $US120 billion ($155 billion) a month of bond and mortgage purchases has generated is producing some quite peculiar and potentially destabilising outcomes.”


US House prices soared by 12.0% from a year ago, the biggest increase since February 2006, near the peak of Housing Bubble 1, according to today’s National Case-Shiller Home Price Index for “February,” which reflects the three-month average of sales recorded in public records in December, January, and February…

“Ignored by CPI.”


Is The New Zealand Property Market Going Haywire?

Ultra-low interest rates, FOMO-driven mindset, and pandemic-related stimulus are seen to be turbocharging property markets across the globe, including New Zealand…”


Tasmania’s real estate market soaring, north-west prices up almost 30 per cent… There were 144 sales over $1 million, a whopping 162 per cent increase on last year.”


A staggering 123% boost in UK house purchases (Q1 2021) was… reported along with a rise in the purchase of second homes, which increased by 17% compared with Q1 last year.”


UK manufacturers’ profitability has dropped to its lowest level for a decade, according to official data that reflect the impact of pandemic-related costs and Brexit friction on the corporate sector…

The average was dragged down by a collapse in the profitability of North Sea oil and gas.”


Scottish company insolvencies expected to rise steeply. The number of Scottish companies facing insolvency is expected to rise steeply as government loans have to be paid.

“It comes despite restrictions on the economy being relaxed.”


Europe’s leaders are betting everything on red with reopening gambit.

The vaccine debacle tore EU politicians’ credibility into shreds; to open up only to spark another wave would be the final straw.”


France Demands More From EU on Growth as U.S., China Race Ahead

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire urged the European Union to speed up disbursements from its flagship stimulus package after the Finnish government threw a potential wrench into the process of releasing the funds.”


Germany’s domestic secret service placed one of the country’s most radical and violent groups opposed to coronavirus restrictions under surveillance, the Interior Ministry announced in Berlin on Wednesday

“The “Querdenker” group has made international headlines for being repeatedly involved in extremely brutal clashes with police where they attacked not only security forces but also media representatives.”


China labels India, Australia, Japan supply chain plan as ‘artificial’ and ‘unfavourable’ to global economy

“A move by Australia, India and Japan to establish an initiative to “strengthen supply chain resilience” in the region that is viewed as an effort to lessen dependence on China has been criticised by Beijing as an “artificial” programme that could upset the global economy.”


China is scrambling for semiconductor supremacy

“Chinese companies, along with others, have long-relied on a globalised value chain, and supplies from other companies. But this reliance has become, in the words of those at its highest levels of government, a “choke point” for the country’s technological ambitions.”


‘We will defend ourselves to the very end’: Taiwan minister’s vow as China ‘prepares final assault’

“China is “preparing for its final military assault” on Taiwan, the island’s foreign minister has told Sky News… Chinese military aircraft have been making almost daily incursions into Taiwan’s air identification defence zone recently, with April being a record month.”


Credit markets are sounding warnings for other asset classes amid India’s unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases.

Firms have defaulted on at least 57 billion rupees (S$1 billion) of domestic bonds this year, the most on record for a similar period. Traders expect more.”


Chile’s dockworkers join nationwide protest over pensions policy.

“Chileans struggling with the financial impacts of Covid-19 are holding mass protests aimed at pushing President Sebastian Pinera to allow them to access funds from their privately held pensions for a third time during the pandemic.”


Argentina’s shale industry rattled by social unrest in Patagonia

Roadblocks to Argentina’s vast shale fields in Patagonia are about to enter their fourth week, as health workers on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic demand higher wages to keep pace with one of the highest inflation rates in the world.”


Thousands of Colombians march to protest tax proposals

“Thousands of protesters answered calls from Colombia’s biggest unions to come out on streets around the country on Wednesday in protest against a controversial tax reform proposal.”


Algeria struggles to feed its people as crisis persists.

Strikes, unemployment, soaring prices and shortages of basic foodstuffs in Algeria, a boiling social situation is now added to a deep economic crisis caused by the fall in oil revenues and aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic.”


Chad protests turn deadly as demonstrators demand civilian rule

At least five people have been killed in Chad as demonstrators took to the streets demanding a return to civilian rule after the military took control following President Idriss Deby’s death last week.”


Nigeria’s Rivers state bans people entering, leaving at night.

Nigeria’s Rivers state will ban people crossing its borders at night due to heightened insecurity, its governor said on Tuesday, as violence and lawlessness surge across the West African country.”


Mozambique’s economy facing multiple risks as insurgency grows.

“Mozambique’s economy faces multiple challenges, including a growing insurgency against the government and recurring extreme weather events, ratings agency S&P Global said in research report.”


Almost 30 million will need aid in Sahel this year as crisis worsens, UN warns.

“A record 29 million people will need humanitarian assistance in the Sahel and the Lake Chad basin in 2021 amid a deepening crisis, a report by the UN office for humanitarian affairs (Unocha) has estimated.”


The Federal Reserve upgraded its view of the US economic recovery, but kept interest rates close to zero and showed no signs of moving to remove support for the economy.

“At the end of a two-day meeting, officials noted the improvement in the economy and offered a brighter picture than they had in March.”


Central bankers can no longer dismiss inflation concerns – price rises are everywhere.

China seems alert to the threat but the US Federal Reserve and other major central banks in the West need to show more concern about rising prices.”


The unlikely ticking time bomb on corporate balance sheets

“Corporate debt is relatively transparent and managed through legally binding contracts…

“The value of many assets, on the other hand, is little more than a collection of best guesses. For none is this more true than goodwill, which Adam Leaver, a professor of accounting and society at the University of Sheffield, describes as “the shadow asset of the corporate debt bubble”.”


A banking crisis is often seen as a self-­fulfilling prophecy: banks fail because too many people, anticipating failure, pull their money out at the same time.

But a newly published paper co-authored by finance professor Emil Verner suggests that banks can suffer losses serious enough to cause economic downturns even when that dramatic panic never happens.”


The New York State Department of Financial Services released a report on Tuesday regarding the investigation of the New York’s financial services industry’s response to the supply chain attack of… SolarWinds…

This [SolarWinds] incident confirms that the next great financial crisis could come from a cyberattack,” said Department of Financial Services Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell.”


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.com.

27th April 2021 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

Global military spending hits highest level since 1988Military spending as a share of GDP – the military burden – reached a global average of 2.4% in 2020, up from 2.2% in 2019. This was the biggest year-on-year rise in the military burden since the global financial and economic crisis in 2009…

“The US, China, India, Russia, and the UK were the top five spenders in 2020, with 62% of the global military expenditure, the survey said.”


Bank of England considers ‘going Swedish’ with Britcoin… “No cash” signs are a frequent feature in central Stockholm. In 2018, just 1pc of Sweden’s GDP was circulating in cash, compared to 11pc across the eurozone.

“The trend is being mirrored in the UK… Now, both nations are on a quest to understand how a new type of digital currency can stop the countries’ central banks being sidelined in the future of money.”


Never mind debts in Greece or Italy, it’s France that’s heading for a crisis… Which country in Europe has the most total government debt?

“…As of this month, it is France. In hock to the tune of €2.67 trillion (£2.32 trillion), this month it finally overtook Italy as the Continent’s biggest debtor – and the third biggest globally.”


Twenty retired generals and scores of ex-officers have sparked a political furore in France after calling on President Emmanuel Macron to stop the country from descending into chaos and “civil war” at the hands of Islamists

“…the appeal has gained traction just days after a woman police employee had her throat slashed by an Islamist who had entered France illegally from Tunisia before eventually being granted residency.”


Bloodletting: Spanish banking sector reels as thousands let go:

“In Spain where bank tellers were once legion, the sector is again reeling from thousands of more job cuts as a 10-year trend gathers pace due to the ongoing pandemic.”


Italy eases Covid restrictions, as parliament weighs EU recovery package amid worst recession since World War II.

“Three-quarters of Italy have begun to ease Covid measures as the nation starts to emerge from months of lockdown after regional governments and residents protested continued restrictions amid a deepening recession in the country.”


Will Teenage Debt Cripple China’s Luxury Market? …Gen Zers reportedly buy 15 percent of all luxury goods sold in China

“…a 2019 HSBC survey highlighted that the debt-to-income ratio of Chinese consumers born in the 1990s had reached a whopping 1,850 percent.”


India’s COVID surge imperils global economic recovery: US Chamber

“Myron Brilliant, an executive vice president of the Chamber, the biggest US business lobby, said on Monday that the risk of spillover effects was high given that many US companies employ millions of Indian workers to run their back-office operations.”


Zimbabwe street vendors reel under virus curbs… The UN World Food Programme in a recent report, noted “a sharp decline in the standard of living” among the urban poor…

“Zimbabwe’s economy has been struggling for over a decade with hyperinflation and an economic downturn.”


Uganda says may approach creditors for suspension of debt repayments:

“Uganda said on Monday it may approach its major creditors including China and the World Bank to negotiate a possible suspension of loan repayments amid a growing default risk after its debt load ballooned 35% in a single year.


Chad faces devastating lean season, food crisis… Lean season is the period between planting and harvesting when job opportunities are scarce and incomes plummet…

““The number of food insecure people is expected to increase from nearly 4 million (March-May 2021) to 5.1 million from June to August 2021, when food is scarce before the next harvest,” the WFP said.”


Nigeria: Hunger Looms as Food Prices Spike

With food inflation leaning at a tipping point of 23 per cent amid the recent 18.17 per cent inflation figure released by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), tougher times now await Nigerians, LEADERSHIP Sunday can now reveal.”


Photos and videos of a mass irregular migration attempt in Fnideq, northern Morocco went viral on Sunday… A group of young Moroccans lined up on the town’s beach in an attempt to swim from Fnideq to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta…

The situation… emphasized the frustration in the region regarding the socio-economic crisis…”


Terrorist Group Steps Into Venezuela as Lawlessness Grows

“Venezuela’s economic collapse has so thoroughly gutted the country that insurgents have embedded themselves across large stretches of its territory, seizing upon the nation’s undoing to establish mini-states of their own.”


Venezuela’s Armed Forces reported new clashes with a Colombian irregular group on the border with Bogota.

“The clashes resulted in a “significant number” of Colombian causalities, and “some” Venezuelan casualties,” said the forces in a statement on Monday.”


Mexico’s economy extended its decline as it shrank more than expected in February… The Mexican economy contracted by 5.1% in February…

Latin America’s second largest economy has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic…”


Prosperous Costa Rica faces reckoning on debt

“Covid-19 has brought a reckoning. As the economy contracted 4.5 per cent last year and the important tourism sector slumped 40 per cent, a debt burden approaching 70 per cent of gross domestic product proved unsustainable.”


Caribbean food security during COVID-19 can only be ensured through debt relief...

“The pandemic and global trade disruptions have highlighted the growing vulnerability of Caribbean states when it comes to importing food items. Annually, Caribbean states import food items valued at nearly US$5 billion for food security.”


Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Agriculture Minister issues food security alert

“The catastrophic situation in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which suffered a series of volcanic eruptions this month that left the country in a state of emergency, is affecting the availability and affordability of food…”


Puerto Rico’s population fell 11.8 percent to 3.3 million over the past decade

“Puerto Rico has suffered a string of disasters and setbacks that have led to an exodus of island residents to the U.S. mainland. Those include drought, near economic collapse because of crushing debt, and thrashings from hurricanes…”


2020 Census shows U.S. population grew at the second slowest pace in history

“The first numbers to come out of the 2020 Census show the U.S. population on April 1, 2020 — Census Day — was 331.5 million people, an increase of just 7.4 percent between 2010 and 2020…

“The slowdown is probably due to the aging of the country’s White population, decreased fertility rates, and lagging immigration.”


US companies plan price rises as inflation pressure builds

“Consumers have been put on notice to expect higher prices for goods ranging from toilet paper to washing machines to restaurant burritos, in a number of recent announcements that underline inflationary pressures across the global economy.”


Producer Prices Surge. Germany, China, other Countries Are Now Exporting Inflation, Adding to US Inflation Pressures

“…factory prices have been rising on a month by month basis for the seventh straight months — with large increases over the past three months.”


Pandemic has affected tourism 18 times more than the 2008 financial crisis: WTTC…

““Tourism is currently facing its greatest challenge in history to overcome the adverse situation left in its wake by… COVID-19. And this great challenge also requires a team effort, also unprecedented, that allows us to overcome adversity,” said Guevara Manzo.”


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.com.

24th April 2021 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

The Grocery Price Shock is Coming to a Store Near You: Corn, wheat, soybeans, vegetable oils: A small handful of commodities form the backbone of much of the world’s diet and they’re dramatically more expensive, flashing alarm signals for global shopping budgets.

“This week, the Bloomberg Agriculture Spot Index — which tracks key farm products — surged the most in almost nine years…

“With global food prices already at the highest since mid-2014, this latest jump is being closely watched because staple crops are a ubiquitous influence on grocery shelves — from bread and pizza dough to meat and even soda.”


Why ‘Clean Plate’ must only be part of China’s war on food waste:

Although the Asian powerhouse has recently seen a decline in population growth, food security remains a key issue.”


USDA wants farmers’ ideas on how food supply chains can be strengthened:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking comments on a Department-wide effort to improve and reimagine the supply chains for the production.”


87% of Americans are worried about inflation. Americans are growing more concerned about rising costs and are consistently boosting their inflation expectations, new data show.”


Despite falling jobless claims, America’s poverty rate just reached the highest level since the pandemic began

Those who experienced the sharpest rise in poverty included children, white people, women, those with low education, and those in nearly half of U.S. states that have more restrictive unemployment-insurance payment policies.”


Medical debt is engulfing more people [in the US] as pandemic takes its toll.

“”I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it. I just can’t believe it’s come to this,” said one woman with long-term Covid symptoms.”


The UK Government borrowed £303.1bn in the last year, an increase of £246bn on the previous year, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

As a ratio of GDP, borrowing was up 14.5 per cent, the highest ratio since the end of World War Two when it was 15.2 per cent.”


One clothes shop in four in Antwerp [Belgium] is in danger of going bankrupt, according to figures from the business consultancy Graydon, reports Gazet Van Antwerpen.

“Needless to say, the Covid-19 crisis has made the situation worse. Before the pandemic, Graydon said, about 9% of shoe shops were flirting with failure. That figure is now 45%.”


Banks in the eurozone and in Greece should be ready to face a significant increase in nonperforming loans in view of the pandemic crisis and prepare for active management of those loans…

“We expect a further worsening of asset quality, particularly with the gradual phaseout of support measures.”


Credit Suisse has been forced to go cap in hand to its shareholders for £1.3billion of emergency funding after suffering a double blow from the implosion of hedge fund Archegos and the collapse of Greensill Capital.

On a bleak day for the Swiss banking giant, it confessed to racking up losses of £594million in the first three months of the year.”


Emerging Market issuers raise record $191bn on foreign debt markets in early 2021

Governments and companies in developing nations borrowed on foreign markets at a record pace in early 2021, but investors say the risks are mounting as some countries endure a resurgence of coronavirus.”


Hundreds of Chileans, mostly women, headed to capital Santiago Thursday to access their pension funds in the face of an economic crisis.

Protesters banged pots and pans and disrupted traffic by setting a barricade on fire.”


Argentina can’t overcome its chronic inflation issue:

“In the first three months of 2021, price rises show no sign of slowing down. As well as being cause for concern for the government, businesses and citizens are feeling the pinch.”


Ravaged by Covid, Brazil Faces a Hunger Epidemic:

“Tens of millions of Brazilians are facing hunger or food insecurity as the country’s Covid-19 crisis drags on, killing thousands of people every day.”


Now hunger stalks India as country’s Covid crisis deepens.

A wider disaster is building, one that – if left unchecked – could start to engulf large parts of the country.”


There are 22.7 million children in Turkey and at least one-third face chronic poverty, with the COVID-19 pandemic deepening their deprivation…

“…around 7.5 million children were deprived of the conditions that were needed to support their physical and psychological development.”


Saudi Arabia announced on Friday a ban on imports of fruits and vegetables from Lebanon, blaming an increase in drug smuggling, in a measure that will add to Lebanon’s economic woes.

“Lebanon is already in the throes of a deep financial crisis that is posing the biggest threat to its stability since the 1975-1990 civil war.”


Panic in Lebanon as desert locust swarms hit farmland:

“Ersal Mayor Bassel Al-Hujairi recounted seeing “millions” of locusts flying and attacking cherry trees and crops… If these swarms multiply, they can cover the sun.”


The Next Middle East Crisis Will be Rising Food Prices:

Prices have already soared 25% in the past year and are set to rise further. Could another Arab Spring follow?”


Shortage of semiconductors, dubbed the ‘new oil,’ could dent GDP growth, boost inflation.

Soaring demand coupled with supply bottlenecks have led to a situation in which orders for everything from cars to televisions to touch-screen computers and more are on backup for six months or more.”


Global supply chains are struggling to keep pace with spiking orders volumes

“The strain on supply chains is particularly acute among manufacturers. Order volumes across the sector were up by 80% year on year in March, but invoice volumes grew by just 20% over the same period.


Prices of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, bitcoin, fell over 13% on Friday to slump below the $50,000 level for the first since 8 March on US president Joe Biden’s tax plans. Bitcoin (BTC) dominance has also dropped below the 50% mark for the first time since 2018…

“Meanwhile, the world’s second-biggest cryptocurrency, ethereum, which hit its all-time high of $2,640.37 on Thursday, slumped as much as 14%…”


The U.S.’s mounting debt load may warrant investors rethinking their expectations for a liftoff from the Federal Reserve’s easy monetary policy

Kit Juckes, a London-based strategist at Société Générale warns the U.S.’s indebtedness may mean tighter monetary policy could prove more punishing to the economy, creating a ceiling on how high interest rates can rise.”


Money Market Funds Melted in Pandemic Panic. Now They’re Under Scrutiny.

“In March 2020, the Federal Reserve had to step in to save the mutual funds, which seem safe until there’s a crisis… Now, the savings vehicles could be headed for a more serious overhaul.”


Deadly Banana Fungus Puts World’s Top Exporter [Ecuador] on High Alert

The banana woes are just the latest example of a supply threat to crops as a cold snap slows U.S. grain planting and dry conditions plague corn in Brazil. That could all mean even higher food prices at a time when global grocery costs are spiking.


You can read the previous ‘Economic’ thread here. I’ll be back on Monday 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.com.