Daily updates on climate change and the global economy.

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

“The return of the rice crisis…

“Analysts warn that if India maintains its current restrictions, and other producers follow, the world is on track for a repeat of the 2008 rice crisis, when a contagion of protectionist policies contributed to rice prices tripling in six months, driving inflation across the globe and sparking civil unrest in north Africa, south Asia and the Caribbean.”


“Türkiye extends ban on olive oil exports.

“A three-month export ban on olive oil exports, which came following a significant price increase in Türkiye and around the world, has been extended indefinitely… Producers warned that demand has started to decline and pointed out that there will be a price increase in new crop products.”


“Central Banks Search for Lessons From the Great Inflation Outbreak…

“…academics and economic practitioners are running autopsies on what could have prevented the cost-of-living crisis and how to ensure the same mistakes won’t be repeated. Markets have scrambled to price in high-for-longer interest rates, with a new war in the Middle East adding yet more risk to an already uncertain outlook…”


“How stable is the global financial system really?

“…What worries me more about central bank monetary policy and financial stability (coined macro-prudential policies) is the way in which central banks have expanded their “safety net” wider and wider, including using their balance sheet to buy all kinds of assets… who will ultimately pay for the losses? We are socialising private risks onto public books.”


“Gold rallies as geopolitical turmoil overshadows rising bond yields.

“Gold prices have rallied sharply since the Hamas-Israel conflict broke out, further highlighting the divergence in its long-term relationship with US Treasuries as investors flee to the haven asset. Prices of the precious metal have surged as much as 10 per cent to $1,996 per troy ounce…”


“Hamas and Israeli troops clash in Gaza as airstrikes intensify.

“Hamas fighters and Israeli forces engaged in limited clashes inside Gaza on Sunday as the Israeli military ramped up airstrikes on the Palestinian enclave ahead of what its spokesperson described as the “next stage” of its war on the militant group.”


“Israel expands evacuations as Lebanon border clashes escalate…

“After enacting a plan last week to move residents out of 28 border-area villages, and the nearby town of Kiryat Shmona, with state-funded temporary accommodation, the Defence Ministry said it was adding 14 communities to the evacuation list.”


“Hezbollah alone will decide whether Lebanon − already on the brink of collapse − gets dragged into Israel-Hamas war…

“If a war between Hezbollah and Israel does erupt, the already significant violence and destruction in southern Israel and Gaza will likely be greatly compounded by further massive loss of life in Lebanon, Israel and perhaps in other parts of the Middle East.”


“Iran’s quandary: How to stay out of Israel’s war on Hamas…

“…any major attack against a U.S.-backed Israel could exact a heavy toll on Iran and trigger public anger against the clerical rulers in a nation already mired in an economic crisis, said the officials who outlined the various military, diplomatic and domestic priorities being weighed by the establishment.”


“An Iranian teenager who fell into a coma this month after an alleged encounter with officers over violating the country’s hijab law is said to be brain dead, Iranian state media reported on Sunday…

“The report on Geravand could revive countrywide protests sparked by the death of the 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini…”


“Two Iraqi soldiers and two fighters of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces were killed on Sunday as the two sides clashed in a mountainous northern area, Iraqi and Kurdish security sources said.

“Iraqi Prime Minister and commander-in-chief of the armed forces Mohammed al-Sudani ordered forming a high-level committee to investigate, a military spokesperson for Sudani said in a statement.”


“‘We will not give away our land’: Armenians near Azerbaijan exclave…

“Following the takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh, which led to an almost full exodus of its Armenian population, fear grows among locals… “We worry every day. Every hour. We even know where their troops are located at our borders,” said Margo. “We will not give away our land, not a chance. We will fight…””


“American troops at risk across Middle East amid rising tensions, US warns…

“Washington has ordered all non-emergency US government personnel and family members to leave Iraq. The state department cited “increased security threats against US government personnel and interests” for the order.”


“The housing market was already painful, ugly and anxious. Now the 8% mortgage rate is back.

“Today’s housing market is a toxic mix of high mortgage rates, high prices, tight supply and strangely strong pent-up demand — and it’s scaring off buyers and sellers alike.”


“Americans Are Overdue With Their Car Payments At Highest Rate In Nearly 30 Years.

“Higher car prices and rising interest rates are hindering car owners’ ability to afford their vehicle payments, as 6.1% of subprime auto borrowers are at least 60 days past due on their loans, the highest percentage in data dating back to 1994, according to Bloomberg, which cited Fitch Ratings.”


“Red Alert for America’s Wild Arctic Fishery…

“America’s great northern fishery is now gripped in a gathering crisis. Fish runs and populations of several iconic species, such as king salmon and snow crab, have suffered crashes while pressure mounts on others. The politics of Alaskan fishing has soured amid a scramble to preserve access and ascribe blame.”


“Australia in ‘the midst of a food security crisis’ as 3.7m households struggle to buy enough to eat.

“The biggest driver of food insecurity was the cost-of-living crisis, with 77% of households saying it was the main reason, up from 64% in 2022. This was followed by low-income employment and inadequate welfare payments…”


“Low-income families in Scotland are at an increasing risk of malnutrition as the price of some essential food items continues to soar.

“A report by Which? found cupboard staples including fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat and porridge were subject to the highest price hikes with some increasing by as much as 144% in the last year.”


“‘We had no money’: desperate UK public increasingly turning to pawnbrokers to make ends meet…

“Amid the cost of living crisis and with inflation stubbornly high, the Financial Conduct Authority says there has been a 25% increase over the last year in the number of new loans from pawnbrokers. Nathan Finch, Pickwick’s managing director, notes an uptick in business by about 30% in their eight stores over the last 12 months alone.”


“Debt can be redefined but it won’t disappear. Hard decisions are needed…

“It’s an uncomfortable position to be in — horrible, in fact. The present [UK] government will preside over the biggest tax rise over a single parliament since at least the end of the Second World War. That will take tax as a fraction of national income to its highest sustained level ever. Yet government debt is stuck at getting on for 100 per cent of national income…”


“‘Britain will need gas to avoid blackouts for decades’…despite calls for the Government to begin shutting off the pipes.

“Jon Butterworth, chief executive of National Gas, said: “In 2022, the wind didn’t blow enough or at all for 262 days. And in those 262 days, we would have had rolling blackouts, or a full blackout across the UK if it wasn’t for gas.””


“EU accelerates Egypt aid package as it fears fresh wave of refugees.

“Brussels is stepping up its efforts to conclude a broad economic support agreement with Egypt, as the EU grows increasingly nervous about the Israel-Hamas war potentially escalating into a regional conflict and a new refugee crisis erupting.”


“More than 1,400 African migrants have reached Spain’s Canary Islands this weekend, with one vessel bringing a single-boat record of 321 people, authorities said Sunday.

“The first fortnight of this month alone saw 8,561 arrivals – Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska last week said on a visit to the archipelago the spike in numbers resulted from political “destabilisation in the Sahel”.”


“Nigerians groan as price of cooking gas, rice, other staple foods surge in October…

“Nigerians have continued to grapple with galloping food prices over the years, which has only worsened following the announcement by the federal government to discontinue petrol subsidy payments and devalue the official exchange rate.”


“Violent unrest erupts in Bophelong as residents loot overnight [South Africa]…

“Angry residents… engaged in a night of mayhem and destruction. The spark for this unfortunate incident was a feedback meeting held at the Bophelong community hall yesterday, where Nkhwashu expressed his concerns about the region turning into a ‘banana republic’.”


“Peru approves $400 million fiscal stimulus to boost economy as recession bites.

“Peru’s Congress approved a fiscal stimulus package of around 1.581 billion soles ($408.42 million) late Friday in a bid to ease the impacts of the El Nino weather phenomenon and to reactivate the country’s economy amid a recession.”


“There’s No Easy Way Out of Argentina’s Endless Crisis…

“The country is on the verge of a sixth recession in a decade and inflation rose to 138% last month. With its geopolitical alignment also in flux (the outgoing government has been deepening ties with China) betting on Argentina is now “more akin to gambling,” the founder of M2M Capital Diego Ferro mused.”


“China deploys warships to Middle East amid fears of wider conflict…

“China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has deployed six warships in the region amid escalating tensions. According to the South China Morning Post, these warships, including the Zibo, a Type 052D guided-missile destroyer, the frigate Jingzhou, and the integrated supply ship Qiandaohu, were part of the PLA’s 44th naval escort task force.”


“China and the Philippines traded accusations over a collision in disputed waters of the South China Sea as Chinese vessels blocked a Philippine boat supplying forces there on Sunday, the latest in a series of maritime confrontations.

“The two countries have had numerous run-ins in areas of the South China Sea in recent months, especially the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands.”


“China raids iPhone maker Foxconn as founder runs to be Taiwan president…

“The raids come as Foxconn’s founder and biggest shareholder, Terry Gou, prepares to mount a bid for the presidency of Taiwan. His candidacy has led to questions over whether Beijing could put pressure on Mr Gou through his business interests.”


“Graphite stocks surge as Beijing opens new frontier in trade war.

“Australian graphite stocks surged after China announced export controls restricting supply of one of the key battery minerals required for electric vehicles, opening a new frontier in a trade war with the US and its allied nations. China is the world’s top graphite producer and exporter…”


“China coal imports hit record high after surge in air conditioning use… Rising temperatures trigger spike in power demand…

“China has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in renewable energy in recent years. However, hydropower generation slumped 9pc in the first nine months of the year just as demand surged. Coal power generation rose by around 6pc over the same period.”


“The outlook is mixed: The asymmetric effects of weather shocks on inflation…

“The findings suggest that as climate change brings more frequent and more severe weather shocks, the volatility and heterogeneity of inflation may increase, and hotter summers may result in more frequent and persistent upward pressure on inflation.”


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 October 2023 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

“An Israeli minister has told troops massing at the border that they will soon see Gaza ‘from the inside’ sparking fears a ground invasion is imminent.

“Yoav Gallant, who is the country’s defence minister, told Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers to ‘get organised, be ready’ to move into the Palestinian territory as he vowed there would be ‘no forgiveness’ for Hamas, only it’s ‘total annihilation’.”


“Gaza conflict spills into the West Bank as settler attacks and clashes leave dozens of Palestinians dead.

“Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military’s spokesperson, said last week that the military was on high alert in the occupied territory, adding it was preparing to thwart any potential attacks.”


“Jordan fears ‘the worst is coming’ in Gaza war…

“”All the indications are that the worst is coming.. The catastrophe will have painful consequences in coming periods,” Safadi said, adding that diplomatic efforts were not yielding any results in ending the conflict.”


“The US, Britain and Germany called on their citizens to leave Lebanon on Thursday amid growing fears that Israel’s war with Hamas will escalate into a regional conflict.

“The embassies in Beirut issued their warning after shelling intensified between northern Israel and southern Lebanon, the stronghold of Tehran’s ally Hizbollah.”


“Much of the world’s gas comes from Hamas headquarters. This war could affect us all…

“The questions surrounding Qatar arise chiefly from its strong ties to both Hamas and Iran, which serves as Hamas’s major funder and sponsor. Hamas maintains its head office in Qatar’s capital city of Doha and receives a good deal of its funding from the Qatari government.”


“Iran called for an oil embargo against Israel over its air strikes on Gaza, causing oil futures to rise.

“Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian called for an “an immediate and complete embargo on the Zionist regime by Islamic countries, an oil embargo against the regime,” according to a ministry statement on Telegram. He also urged Muslim countries to expel Israeli ambassadors.”


“Drone Attacks Syrian Gas Field as Israel Conflict Escalates.

“In reports unconfirmed by the U.S. military, Syrian opposition figures claim that a possible Iran-backed group in Syria launched a drone attack on an oil facility and a U.S. military base in the country’s eastern region, as the Hamas-Israel conflict escalates.”


“US shoots down drones targeting its troops in Iraq as regional tensions flare.

“In a recent incident, two drones attacked the al Asad airbase in western Iraq and another targeted a northern Iraqi base. While US forces intercepted and destroyed two drones, the third caused minor injuries among coalition forces.”


“Biden draws direct link between Putin and Hamas as he urges aid for Israel and Ukraine…

““Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: they both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy,” said Biden, sitting at the Resolute desk with flags, family photos, gold curtains and a darkened window behind him.”


“A relentless global bond rout is piling pain on to investors who loaded up on fixed-income assets this year as they spied the end of central banks’ cycle of interest rate rises.

“The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note climbed to around 5 per cent — a level not seen since before the global financial crisis — on Thursday… The sell-off across the world’s bond markets resumed this week after a brief pause as investors flocked to safe assets following the outbreak of Israel’s war with Hamas.”


“Dollar’s reserve currency status depends on U.S. controlling spending, ‘bond king’ Gundlach warns.

“”Should the Federal Reserve continue to raise rates, which may happen, or should the national debt grow, which is certain to happen, this problem will get much worse,” Gundlach said in an opinion piece. “The future of the U.S. dollar and possibly out-of-control inflation depends on getting the budget and spending under control.””


“Investors now view U.S. Treasuries as “riskier assets.”

“Losses in emerging-market stocks and bonds deepened as the rise in US TREASURY YIELDS and concern about a wider conflict in the Middle East pushed investors to UNLOAD RISKIER ASSETS.”


“The ratio of the Nasdaq to US Treasuries return is currently at a record 8.2x… even at the peak of the 2001 bubble, the largest tech bubble in history, this ratio was ~4.8x.

“In other words, the Nasdaq to US Treasuries return ratio is now 70% HIGHER than it was in 2001. It’s now also 5.5x HIGHER than it was at the peak of the 2008 financial crisis. There has never been a larger gap between return in equities and US Treasuries. Something needs to give.”


“A number of U.S. banks saw continued pain in the third quarter on delinquent commercial real estate loans in their portfolios, as stress in the sector persists.

“Building owners that borrowed money to finance their properties are being squeezed by high interest rates and vacant offices as workers opt to work from home. Weak demand for offices could trigger a wave of borrowers to default on their loans and put pressure on banks and other lenders…”


“Climate activists force Fed chair Jerome Powell off stage in New York…

“At the Economic Club of New York, protesters stormed the stage holding a banner that read “Fed Is Burning: Money, Futures, Planet” and chanting “Off fossil finance!” Powell, who was on stage, briefly left the event before returning to deliver his speech as planned.”


“The co-founders of Just Stop Oil have been arrested in dawn raids ahead of an “unprecedented” series of protests in London.

“Roger Hallam, 57, and 29-year-old Indigo Rumbelow were arrested at separate addresses after officers “forced entry to their homes, searched belongings and confiscated papers”, Just Stop Oil said in a statement.”


“More English councils face bankruptcy, leaders warn, as deficits reach £4bn.

“The bleak message, set out in a letter to the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, said council budgets were “under pressure like never before” because of the rapid deterioration in their finances caused by inflation and soaring demand for social care.”


“Millions of UK families could face cuts to the value of their benefits next year as ministers seek to make space for a fiscal giveaway in the run-up to the next election…

“Jeremy Hunt, chancellor, said last week that he faced “difficult decisions” in his Autumn Statement next month because of the spiralling cost of servicing government debt and fragile public finances.”


“The cost of UK state borrowing is close to a 15-year high – levels seen only twice since the global financial crash.

“The amount the UK government has to pay – the yield – to borrow money for 10 years via its benchmark 10-year bonds – known as gilts – rose to more than 4.7% on Thursday. Only twice since the 2008 crash has such a high been reached, both times in August this year.”


“UK And Germany See No Way Back To Energy Trade With Russia.

““There is no way back to energy relationship with Russia that we saw before the war. This relationship has ended,” said Miguel Berger, Germany’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom. The UK’s Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Graham Stuart, echoed those comments, saying that there would be no return to the previous energy relationship with Russia for the UK either…”


“Industrial energy users push for subsidies ahead of German government meeting.

“Please take note of the increasingly dramatic economic situation of the energy-intensive industries in Germany,” the letter addressed to Scholz and his ministers reads… “the massive cutbacks in local production that can already be observed are acutely endangering jobs and locations,” the representatives of the steel, paper, chemical and glass industries, as well as trade unions, write.”


“Euro area borrowing costs rise, Italian yield hits highest in almost 11 years.

“Euro area borrowing costs were close to their highest in around a decade as investors balanced expectations for higher-for-longer rates against appetite for safe-haven assets on fears that the conflict in the Middle East might widen beyond Gaza. Bond prices move inversely to yields.”


“Bank of Japan intervenes as 10-year JGB yield hits fresh peak.

“The Bank of Japan intervened in the Japanese government bond (JGB) market on Friday as the 10-year JGB yield touched a decade high early in Asian trading, driven up by surging U.S. Treasury rates… The rise prompted the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to step in as it tries to stabilise market expectations and slow the pace of yield gains.”


“The crisis in China’s property sector deepened as Country Garden, the country’s biggest developer by sales, reportedly missed its final deadline for an interest payment on a dollar bond, putting it at risk of default.

“The company, which has about $200bn (£163bn) in liabilities and nearly $11bn in dollar-denominated offshore bonds, was due to make a $15.4m coupon repayment this week, but failed to do so…”


“Bangladeshi banks on brink of a major liquidity crunch…

“Meeting sources said other burning issues like NPL buildup, forex dearth and exchange rate-related volatility came up in the meeting where the BB governor asked the bankers to pay more attention on asset recovery, steps to bring more remittance and export proceeds.”


“No end to the Papua New Guinea fuel shortages.

“Papua New Guineans continue to face fuel shortages brought about by one of the main suppliers, Puma Energy, not having access to enough foreign exchange to pay for what it needs. More rationing is coming…”


“‘Very thin budget’: Forex shortage triggers cost-of-living crisis in Malawi…

“Since 2021, the country has been experiencing acute foreign currency shortages, a consequence of reduced exports, experts say. This has led to a scarcity of essential goods such as food, medicine, fertiliser and fuel.”


“Epra faces MPs’ wrath over rising pump prices [Kenya]…

“Kaloleni MP Paul Katana sparked the debate after demanding to know if pump prices would be reduced in the near future. “There is a huge outcry by Kenyans following the recent increase of fuel prices by as much as Sh6 per litre,” he said.”


“Fuel prices surge in Congo amidst protests and economic struggles.

“In the Republic of Congo, diesel prices have risen by 25 percent in October, marking another increase following a hike in January. Similarly, since July, the pump price of gasoline has also surged by 25 percent. Authorities in Brazzaville attribute the soaring fuel prices to recommendations made by the International Monetary Fund.”


“Fuel Scarcity Hits Lagos, Abuja [Nigeria] as Pump Price Crosses N600…

“Our correspondents observed long queues at the few stations still dispensing fuel in Lagos on Thursday, while some major outlets belonging to NNPC have suspended sales. Independent marketers selling petrol have increased prices between N600-N650, up from N568-N585 previously.”


“Lithium Price Crash Could Trigger Shortages From 2025…

“…what has really spooked the markets is looming supply coming online from China, Australia and Chile, “Supply is coming on stream faster than you can say ‘boo’. Demand remains strong but prices have been unsustainable for some time now,” analyst Dylan Kelly of Ord Minnett has told Mining.”


“The Green Power Grid Isn’t Coming… Build millions of miles of transmission lines, with Chinese materials?

“The International Energy Agency said this week that 49.7 million miles of transmission lines—enough to wrap around the planet 2,000 times—will have to be built or replaced by 2040 to achieve the climate lobby’s net-zero emissions goal. This amounts to a plan for everyone to buy more metals from coal-fired plants in China.”


“With Climate Crisis Deepening Worldwide, Third Committee [UN] Urges States to Ramp Up Environmental Legislation, Provide Funding to Hard-Hit Developing Nations.

“As the global environmental crisis inflicts despair on millions of people worldwide, States must implement and enforce stronger climate and environmental laws, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) heard today…”


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.

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

“A new geopolitical dark age is about to shatter the West’s fatal illusions [picture is of fall of Berlin Wall, heralding what was thought to be a new era of peace and progress]…

“Every so often, an earthquake rips through history, shattering the simple stories that help us to make sense of the world…. Hamas’s unprecedented assault… may… finally dismantle some of the fundamental assumptions that have underpinned the wider West’s perception of safety, heralding a new geopolitical dark age.”


“Global economy faces new age of volatility…

““Maybe the most dangerous time the world has seen in decades” …fears of a wider conflict in the Middle East have added to concerns for a global economy already rocked by war in Europe and still feeling the aftershocks of Covid-19… “Debt levels are at record levels and at the same time we are in this higher-for-longer interest [rate] environment. There is a lot . . . that could go wrong” said Gita Gopinath, deputy head of the IMF.”


“The world holds its breath: Israel-Palestine war dramatically escalates after hundreds die in Gaza hospital strike as Iran warns ‘time is up’ and Hezbollah calls for ‘day of rage’ – hours before Biden flies in to Tel Aviv…

“The hospital strike has sparked global anger, with Iran – Israel’s foe – declaring last night warning that the ‘time is up’ for the country and Tehran-backed terror group Hezbollah calling for a ‘day of rage’. ”


“Violent protests erupt across Middle East after Gaza hospital strike.

“US embassy in Lebanon is targeted with fire attack as angry demonstrations spread to Turkey, the West Bank and Tunisia… In Iran, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the British and French embassies in the early hours of Wednesday morning, chanting “death to France and England”.”


“Why has Jordan cancelled Biden visit after Israel bombing of Gaza hospital?

“It was to be a centrepiece of United States President Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East on Wednesday: a trip to Jordan to meet a range of Arab leaders amid Israel’s incessant bombing of the Gaza Strip. But on Tuesday, Jordan cancelled that summit…”


“China and Russia harden positions on Gaza as war stirs geopolitical tensions.

“China and Russia have hardened their positions towards the conflict in Gaza in recent days, as the war between Israel and Hamas aggravates existing geopolitical tensions and underscores the growing gulf between the cold war allies and western powers such as the US, UK and France.”


“Biden to cut China off from more Nvidia chips, expand curbs to more countries.

“The Biden administration said on Tuesday it plans to halt shipments to China of more advanced artificial intelligence chips designed by Nvidia and others, part of a suite of measures aimed at stopping Beijing from getting cutting-edge U.S. technologies to strengthen its military.”


“US bond market is losing its strategic footing.

“it’s important to note that thee resilience of US Treasuries should not be taken for granted. No matter how you look at it, the world’s most crucial benchmark market is on an unpredictable journey with an uncertain destination.”


“President Joe Biden sold off nearly half the federal government’s oil reserve last year to stanch rising fuel prices after Russia invaded Ukraine.

“Republicans now argue that the drawdown has left the country vulnerable to a disruption of global oil supplies as violence between Israel and Hamas threatens regional conflict… Yet the country remains part of a global oil market — and even a fully stocked oil reserve wouldn’t fully insulate the nation from price shocks.”


“U.S. to ease sanctions on Venezuelan oil for freer presidential election…

“If the deal is signed, the U.S. government is prepared to announce the lifting of certain oil sanctions against Venezuela, the two people said. The sanctions relief could include a general license for Venezuela’s state-owned oil agency to resume business with the United States and other countries.”


“Environmentalists are gearing up for their next giant climate fight: They want to force a showdown with the Biden administration over the massive expansion of U.S. natural gas exports.

“Less than a decade ago, U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas — LNG for short — didn’t exist. Now they are growing so rapidly that the United States last year became the world’s largest gas exporter.”


“Why Biden’s multibillion-dollar bet on hydrogen energy is such a big deal.

“Clean hydrogen can be a lot dirtier than it seems, especially when the fossil fuel industry gets involved. One of the biggest bets of the Biden administration is that clean hydrogen will help the United States reach its climate goals, revitalize domestic manufacturing, and bolster a shrinking fossil fuel workforce. That’s a lot riding on an industry that barely exists today.”


“Hydrogen for home heating should be ruled out, infrastructure adviser says [UK]…

““We do not see any role for hydrogen in the future of home heating,” said Nick Winser, NIC commissioner, arguing it was “simply not ready at scale” and risked being an inefficient use of green electricity… The intervention comes as the government grapples with the dilemma of how to reach the UK’s 2050 net zero goal.”


“The UK is making a series of changes to its climate finance definitions as a way to meet its target to spend £11.6bn over five years in the developing world to help combat the climate crisis, Andrew Mitchell, the development minister, has said…

“Mitchell defended himself from the charge of a “sleight of hand” by describing the changes as “clarifications and not definitional changes.”


“The UK economy is in a “horrible fiscal bind” as it heads for recession and with no room to cut taxes or increase public spending amid mounting political pressure on the Chancellor to do so, according to a report.

“The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned in its latest Green Budget that Britain will slump into a “moderate” recession in the first half of 2024 as borrowing costs stay elevated.”


“Humza Yousaf promises first ever Scottish bond in bid to revive independence.

“Scotland will borrow money from investors independently for the first time, Humza Yousaf has pledged, as the Scottish National Party seeks to reinvigorate the case for independence. The First Minister said Holyrood would sell the first ever Scottish bond by 2026…”


“An undersea telecommunications cable between Sweden and Estonia has been damaged, the Swedish government has said, the second such incident to be reported in the region in a week.

“Sweden’s civil defence minister, Carl-Oskar Bohlin, said the damage to the cable appeared to have happened at around the same time as an undersea gas pipeline…”


“Middle East crisis casts shadow over ECB meeting.

“The Israel-Hamas war is creating new challenges for Europe’s economy, from energy market disruption to an influx of refugees, Greece’s central bank governor has warned. Yannis Stournaras told the Financial Times that the turmoil in the Middle East shifted the balance against any further tightening of monetary policy.”


“Some of lost European gas demand may be gone for good – Vitol CEO…

“Some analysts say the price of reduced energy use could be a permanent contraction of industrial activity. Europe’s biggest economy Germany is expected to shrink this quarter as industry is in recession, according to the country’s central bank.”


“Germany Fires Up Extra Coal Unit to Help in Cold Snap…

“Last year’s historic energy crisis forced Germany to temporarily increase its reliance on the dirty fuel after supplies of Russian pipeline gas were shut off. While that poses a setback for the government’s plans to curb harmful emissions, it’s part of its strategy to contain price increases for consumers during the heating season.”


“Germany caves in to French demands over EU electricity market reform.

“Germany has given leeway for France to use state subsidies to fund its nuclear power plants, unblocking a long-stalled reform of the EU electricity market in the face of vast state aid regimes in China and the US.”


“Dutch Energy Minister Admits That Wind Power Agenda Is Pricier Than Anticipated…

“In a surprising announcement, Dutch Minister of Climate and Energy, Rob Jetten, has informed the market, government, and parliament that the costs of offshore wind projects in the North Sea will be significantly higher than previously assessed. Minister Jetten… has also indicated that consumers should expect substantially higher electricity prices than initially anticipated.”


“Exclusive: China instructs banks to roll over local government debt – sources.

“China has instructed state-owned banks to roll over existing local government debt with longer-term loans at lower interest rates, two sources with knowledge of the matter said, as part of Beijing’s efforts to reduce local debt risks in a faltering economy.”


“Former Bank of China boss arrested on corruption charges…

“China has arrested the former head of one of the country’s largest commercial banks on charges of accepting bribes and illegally granting loans, amid a two-year anti-corruption drive targeting the financial sector… President Xi Jinping has made fighting corruption a key part of his political project as he has cemented his position as paramount leader.”


“In Guatemala, Protests Have Brought Economic Life to a Halt.

“Millions of bananas are rotting in containers across Guatemala as the region’s largest economy grinds to a halt. Over the past 16 days, protests have left millions of Guatemalans confined to their homes, while the country runs out of food, fuel, and water.”


“Tunisia’s economy minister sacked amid unprecedented financial crisis.

“Tunisian President Kais Saied sacked the economy minister on Tuesday and appointed the finance minister to the role on an interim basis, the presidency announced without giving any explanation.”


“Pakistan’s ailing national carrier cancels 14 flights amid fuel shortage.

“Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Tuesday canceled 14 international and domestic flights due to fuel shortages after state-owned Pakistan State Oil (PSO) canceled supply over unpaid dues, a spokesman for the national carrier said.”


“Papua New Guinea: Fuel rationing measures ongoing nationwide as of Oct. 18…

“Puma Energy is restricting the distribution of fuel and rationing supplies in Papua New Guinea as of Oct. 18. The company stated that ongoing foreign exchange shortages are delaying payments for fuel. The duration of the rationing measures remains unclear.”


“World lacks enough LNG for energy transition, key trader says…

““Announced projects in the world still won’t make up for the supply needed when considering the energy transition that will take several decades,” said Kenichi Hori, president of Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co., in an interview in Tokyo last week. Hori echoed major exporters including Chevron and Shell…”


“Global electricity grid must be upgraded urgently to hit climate goals, says IEA…

“Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, has warned that the equivalent of the entire global electricity grid – 80 million km of grid – needs to be added or refurbished by 2040 to hit climate targets and ensure reliable power supplies. Global investment in energy grids needs to double to more than $600bn (£492bn) a year…”


“Investment in climate technology has fallen by 40% in the last year, according to a report from PwC.

“The financial services giant’s State of Climate Tech report for 2023 analysed more than 8,000 climate tech start-ups and more than 32,000 deals worth more than £400 billion.”


“‘No question’ that the decarbonization of shipping will contribute to inflation, says industry CEO…

““There will be an inflationary impact coming from [the] decarbonization of shipping … there is no question of it,” Bertrand Chen, CEO of the Global Shipping Business Network, told CNBC’s East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China.”


“Central bankers fear energy, inflation shocks in chaotic climate transition.

“All this pushes central banks into uncharted waters, profoundly challenging their mandate to manage systemic risk, ensure price stability, and keep inflation low. Unlike previous historical monetary and economic shocks, there is no precedent for climate risk.”


“As global debt worries mount, is another crisis brewing?

“Record debts, high interest rates, the costs of climate change, health and pension spending as populations age and fractious politics are stoking fears of a financial market crisis in big developed economies. A surge in government borrowing costs has put high debt in the spotlight…”


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.

16th October 2023 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

“The spectre of a wider conflict in the Middle East poses a fresh threat to the global economy just as the world emerges from shocks triggered by Covid-19 and the Ukraine war, finance ministers and officials have warned…

“If we are facing any escalation or extension of the conflict to the whole region we will face big consequences,” Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, told the Financial Times, adding that risks ranged from higher energy prices stirring inflation, to a decline in confidence…

“On the other side of the Atlantic, Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan, called this “the most dangerous time the world has seen in decades”.”


“Western capitals urge restraint in private discussions with Israel…

“…privately the messaging has shifted to focus on containing the war to prevent it escalating into a broader regional conflict. There are fears that a new front risks being opened on Israel’s northern border with Hizbollah, the powerful Iran-backed Lebanese militant movement, as well as the dangers of an explosion of violence erupting in the occupied West Bank.”


“Netanyahu tells his forces Israel is with them as the ‘fateful hour’ to attack Gaza Strip by land, sea and air draws near…

“Israel’s imminent invasion of Gaza could turn into an occupation lasting 18 months in order to dismantle the ‘bloodthirsty monsters’ of Hamas. Rainy weather delayed the full-scale onslaught yesterday but Israel’s prime minister vowed to ‘demolish’ the terror group.”


“Gaza residents face food and water shortages as they flee south…

“Across Gaza, shellshocked residents awoke to the ninth day of a punishing war between Israel and Hamas… On Sunday, there were scant supplies of food, fuel, water and electricity in Gaza, home to 2.3 million people, and phone and internet connections were intermittent as critical infrastructure collapsed.”


“Tens of thousands rally around the world in solidarity with Palestine.

“Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in the US capital on Saturday, marching past the White House to chants of “Free Palestine” as the death toll continued to climb in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.”


“For American Evangelicals Who Back Israel, ‘Neutrality Isn’t an Option’.

“Some evangelicals see Israel’s existence connected to biblical prophecy about the last days of the world before a divine theocratic kingdom can be established on earth… Conservative evangelicals have long formed the backbone of the Republican Party’s support of Israel.”


“US warns Iran against escalating Israel-Hamas war into regional conflict.

“The US has held back-channel talks with Iran to warn the Islamic republic against escalating the war between Israel and Hamas into a broader regional conflict, according to President Joe Biden’s top security adviser.”


“All Eyes On Iran For Security Of Oil Supply.

“”The main thing to watch for is whether Iran becomes actively involved in the conflict and the reason why is because of Iran’s proximity to the really crucial waterway called the Strait of Hormuz,” Rapidan Energy Group’s global oil service director Clay Siegle told Bloomberg this week.”


“We are one miscalculation short of a Middle East firestorm and the next world oil crisis…

“The grand bargain between the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia is already a dead letter… One can only assume that Hamas intended to provoke total conflagration… There must be a high risk that the unstoppable chain of events will trigger an assault by the Lebanese Hezbollah, backed by Iran…”


“Lebanon border fire stokes fears of regional spillover from Israel-Hamas war…

“Clashes between the pro-Iranian militants of Hezbollah and the Israeli army have grown more intense in recent days along Israel’s border with Lebanon. Over the past week, about a dozen deaths have been reported on the Lebanese side, most of them combatants but also a Reuters journalist and two civilians.”


“The Israeli defence ministry has announced that it will evacuate residents who live within two kilometres of the Lebanese border as concerns Hizbollah will enter the fray mount.

“There are 28 villages within the two kilometre zone that will be evacuated and put up in state-funded guesthouses.”


“The war between Israel and Hamas is heaping pressure on borrowing costs in neighbouring countries, as international investors grow increasingly concerned that the conflict will rapidly escalate.

“The spreads — or gaps — between the average yields on both Jordan’s and Egypt’s dollar-denominated bonds and equivalent US Treasuries have shot up this week…”


“Blinken warned lawmakers Azerbaijan may invade Armenia in coming weeks…

“Azerbaijiani President Ilham Aliyev has previously called on Armenia to open a “corridor” along its southern border, linking mainland Azerbaijan to an exclave that borders Turkey and Iran. Aliyev has threatened to solve the issue “by force.””


“Our Current Bond Crisis Should Scare You…

“Looking to history for comforting answers on the biggest bond rout in more than a century won’t provide many. Last year was in fact US bond investors’ worst year since 1871… For 2023, the year-to-date return has been almost minus 10%; annualized, that’s minus 17.3% — even worse than 2022. We are looking at bond investors’ two worst years in a century and a half.”


“Time Is Running Out for the ‘Year of the Bond’ as Losses Mount…

“At HSBC Holdings Plc, Steve Major says he was “wrong” to assume the US government’s growing supply of bonds didn’t matter. Earlier this month, Morgan Stanley finally joined Bank of America and moved to a neutral position on Treasuries. “It’s been a very, very humbling year,” Hunt said.”


“Default risks loom for nearly $2 trillion of junk-rated debt as US companies hit with higher interest rates.

“Non-investment grade US companies face growing refinancing and default risks with interest rates expected to stay high and financial conditions for borrowers tightening, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The ratings agency says about $1.87 trillion of junk-rated debt is maturing between 2024 and 2028.”


“Amid tensions with Russia, UK to deploy 20,000 troops, 8 warships to Northern Europe.

“Britain has pledged to send 20,000 troops to northern Europe next year in a drive to keep Russia at bay in the Baltic Sea and prevent sabotage of a “spaghetti” of undersea cables, the National News reported. According to the report, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made the commitment at a summit in Sweden.”


cooking gas ring“Gas prices have soared this week, with geopolitical volatility rattling spot markets and escalating fears of supply shortages this winter.

“Having seemingly calmed from last year’s bumper commodity rally when prices topped out at record highs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe’s benchmarks are surging again – with the UK recording its highest prices since February.


“The nuclear dispute driving a wedge between France and Germany…

“France and Germany’s split over nuclear power is a tale of diverging mindsets fashioned over decades, including since the Chernobyl disaster in USSR-era Ukraine. But it has now become a major faultline in a touchy relationship between Europe’s two biggest economies.”


“China’s slowdown casts pall over Xi’s Yangtze Delta project.

“…even Xi’s goal of creating a more efficiently run economic bloc and high-tech Arcadia hasn’t been spared the impact of the recent uncertainties. “As the world splits into blocks, we don’t know to what extent trade would be curtailed,” said Shanghai-based independent economist Andy Xie. “International trade drives wealth creation here.””


“China Local Governments Are Finding It No Longer Cheap to Borrow.

“China’s local authorities are finding it more expensive to sell bonds, the latest sign of rising stress as policymakers ramp up borrowings to stimulate growth and defuse short-term payment risks.”


“Evergrande bankruptcy fears spark a bank run in China.

“One of heavily indebted Chinese property developer Evergrande’s local lenders displayed this week a “cash wall” of renminbi notes at its office after depositors queued up to withdraw their deposits in what could be the front edge of a bank run crisis in China. Hundreds of people have queued up at the Bank of Cangzhou’s head office in Hebei province…”


“Rohingya face ‘second genocide’ as violence surges in Bangladesh refugee camps…

“Escalating violence in the camps and increasing repression by Bangladeshi authorities have left Rohingya refugees devoid of protection or justice. Many Rohingya have also fallen prey to armed gangs involved in smuggling drugs, human trafficking and abductions for ransom.”


“South Sudan buckles from stream of refugees fleeing Sudanese war.

“”We are calling on the world to pay more attention to what is happening in South Sudan,” said Charlotte Hallqvist, a spokesperson for the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR. “It’s a sad reality that it’s one of those crises that has fallen out of the media spotlight.”


“How a Fertilizer Shortage Is Spreading Desperate Hunger.

“Across Africa and in parts of Asia, disruption to the supply chain for fertilizer is raising food prices and increasing malnutrition… The breakdown in fertilizer production challenges the orthodoxy that has dominated international trade for decades. Prominent economists have promoted globalization as insurance against upheaval…”


“IMF, World Bank make desperate call for cooperation, but is anybody listening?

“As weak growth and high debt forces the Global South to cut critical spending from education to climate mitigation, the Marrakech Principles are yet another rallying call for global cooperation in a divided world that seems likely to go unheeded.”


“Break-up of world economy into competing blocs poses huge risk to human society.

“Fragmentation will mean a more divided world where essential solutions—on climate, financial crises or new pandemics—will be much harder to reach, and where the risks of conflict will be that much greater.”


“This Is What It Looks Like Right Before A Depression Starts…

“Often, the period leading up to a depression can seem deceptively stable. Markets may be booming, and the general public might be optimistic. For example, before the Great Depression, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached an all-time high of 381.17 in September 1929. However, beneath the surface, several indicators can signal a looming economic downturn, such as rising private debt and over-leveraged financial institutions.”


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.

13th October 2023 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

“The Israel-Hamas war is a “new cloud” on the horizon that threatens to darken an already murky global economic outlook, the head of the International Monetary Fund has warned.

“Kristalina Georgieva said severe shocks are becoming “the new normal” in an economy dominated by weak growth.”


“Israel’s military on Friday called for all civilians of Gaza City, more than 1 million people, to relocate south within 24 hours, as it amassed tanks near the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground invasion.

“”Now is a time for war,” Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on Thursday as Israeli warplanes continued pounding Gaza in retaliation for the weekend attacks by Hamas militants that killed more than 1,300 Israelis, mostly civilians.”


“Israel-Hizbollah clashes prompt fears of Lebanese militia joining Hamas war.

“In the days since Hamas’ surprise assault on Israel, the Jewish state has also been fighting on another front: its northern border with Lebanon, where light artillery exchanges have killed three members of militant group Hizbollah.”


“If Israel doesn’t stop bombing Gaza, war may open on ‘other fronts,’ Iran foreign minister warns…

““In light of the continued aggression, war crimes, and siege on Gaza, opening other fronts is a real possibility,” Amirabdollahian says, speaking to journalists on his arrival.”


“After Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan eyes a strategic strip of Armenia.

“Meghri sits at a strategic crossroads that regional powers, including Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey and Russia, are competing to access — prompting fears it could soon be at the center of a new war… “I think the threat of a flare-up is very real,” said Stefan Meister, a South Caucasus expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations.”


“Brace for global fallout from higher-for-longer interest rates, World Bank warns.

“The prospect that high interest rates will keep constricting the global economy is worrying World Bank officials as they look to the impact on nations nursing large debts.”


“Panicking central banks risk creating another financial meltdown…

“Financial institutions are nursing large capital losses on their bond holdings; and, much as with subprime mortgages in 2008, it is impossible to know where this could blow up the financial system. Several smaller banks and one large one, Credit Suisse, have already collapsed.”


“Biden borrowing binge driving ‘unsustainable’ rise in global debts, warns IMF…

“Janet Yellen, the US Treasury Secretary, has insisted that interest payments on the country’s mammoth borrowing pile remain sustainable… The IMF said politicians around the world faced tough choices to bring debt down… Officials said: “For all countries, it is becoming hard to balance public finances.“


“Bond-Supply Fears Reawaken.

“The Treasury market isn’t taking all the debt sales too well… again. The bond-market breather of the past few days appears to be over. Long-term yields are on the rise again after buyers were reluctant to step up for a bond auction on Thursday.”


“US inflation higher than expected in September.

“US inflation was higher than forecast in September, raising the prospect that the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates following similarly robust recent data on the strength of the jobs market.”


“All the headlines say that inflation is now 3.7%. But, what they fail to mention is that this is building on YEARS of inflation.

“3.7% inflation is building on 8.2% in September 2022 and 5.4% in September 2021. That means that inflation since September 2021 is has been nearly 20%. Furthermore, even if the rate of inflation is falling, prices are still RISING.”


“Consensus opinion suggests the U.S. economy is on course for a soft landing… The trouble is that the consensus often turns out to be wrong.

“In early 2007, most economists also expected a mild fallout from the U.S. housing downturn. Going further back, investors remained relatively upbeat after the stock market crash of October 1929, even as the United States teetered on the brink of depression.”


“Credit card companies are racking up losses at the fastest pace in almost 30 years, outside of the Great Financial Crisis, according to Goldman Sachs…

“It is far from over, the firm predicts… What is unusual is that the losses are accelerating outside of an economic downturn.


“Thousands of autoworkers walk out at Ford’s largest factory as UAW escalates strike.

“The United Auto Workers union is raising the stakes against Detroit’s Three automakers, shutting down Ford’s largest factory and threatening Jeep maker Stellantis. In a surprise move Wednesday night, 8,700 members left their jobs at Ford’s Kentucky truck plant in Louisville.”


“NATO vows to respond if Finland-Estonia gas pipeline damage is deliberate.

“NATO has promised a “determined” response if damage to an undersea gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia proves deliberate, as investigators said traces of an “external, mechanical force” had been found on the seabed.”


“Court orders Estonian state energy firm to halt shale oil plant construction.

“Estonia’s supreme court has ordered the state energy company Enefit to halt construction on a shale oil facility because of the damage it will do to the environment… “It’s remarkable that the first climate court case in Estonia – and in the Baltics – ended in a win,” said Kertu Birgit Anton, an activist…”


“Greta Thunberg and Norwegian activists stand firm against wind farm on Sami reindeer herding land.

“Greta Thunberg is among dozens of activists protesting outside the office of Europe’s largest onshore wind farm operator in Norway today. The activists say a transition to green energy shouldn’t come at the expense of the rights of Indigenous people.”


“Experts warn of risk of civil unrest in UK due to food shortages…

“…80% of experts believe logistical distribution issues leading to shortages are the most likely food-related cause of civil unrest in the next 10 years. But, considered over a 50-year horizon, they said catastrophic failure resulting in insufficient food to feed the UK population, rather than distribution problems, would be the most likely cause.”


“NHS presses Treasury for £1bn bailout as waiting lists hit record high.

“The NHS is pressing ministers for a £1 billion bailout to stave off a financial crisis it says has resulted from the doctors’ strikes. Talks have begun with the Treasury as health chiefs say they will have to abandon attempts to bring down waiting lists if finances run out of control.”


“[UK] Mortgage defaults have risen at their fastest pace since 2009 as lenders warn over plans to restrict the supply of deals.

“There has been a spike in the number of homeowners missing mortgage payments, data from the Bank of England shows, as they battle high interest rates.”


“The International Energy Agency warned on Thursday of possible shortages of diesel fuel in Europe this winter due to supply constraints including the European Union embargo on Russian crude.

“The IEA said Europe would need sustained imports from elsewhere but stringent winter quality specifications could constrain supplies, warning: “It may take another mild winter to avoid shortages.”


“France Tightens Energy-Saving Measures To Avoid Another Crisis.

“The French government will further restrict store and commercial real estate lighting usage and fine offenders as part of a new set of measures aimed at saving energy. France and all other European countries are looking to curb energy and gas use after last year’s energy crisis…


“Police use teargas on banned pro-Palestinian rally in Paris as Macron calls for unity.

“French police used teargas and water cannon to break up a banned rally in support of the Palestinian people in Paris on Thursday night, as President Emmanuel Macron urged the French to remain united amid fears a spillover of the Israel-Hamas conflict in France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities.”


“Economic crisis worse than expected, says German government.

“The government has downgraded its economic growth projections for the current year, signalling a deeper-than-expected economic crisis and slower recovery, according to their revised autumn forecast published on Wednesday.”


“Is the next subprime crisis brewing in China’s property market?

“…China’s outlook is complicated by the rise of financial instruments that help investors manage risks in good times but accelerate downturns in bear markets, as the global financial crisis showed 15 years ago. A recent court decision in Shanghai on a case of asset-backed security fraud warns of potential dangers.”


“Brazil’s energy strategy in Itaborai raises climate concerns.

“Huge investments in fossil fuels are supposed to revive the fortunes of Brazil’s oil hub, Itaborai. While the government’s plan is welcomed on the ground, climate activists accuse President Lula of breaking promises.”


“Fertile Cuba relies on food imports as farmers lack seeds, fuel.

“Crop production has plummeted in fertile Cuba as aid for farmers from a government grappling with tough sanctions and the worst economic crisis in decades has dried up. The country today imports almost all its basic foodstuffs, up from an already high 80 percent before the coronavirus pandemic…”


“Economic crisis: Pakistan’s poor flee cities.

“Spiralling inflation and an imploding economy force struggling families to abandon city life, seeking survival in their home villages… Some have decided that the only answer is to leave or to send their families back to their home villages, where they can live more cheaply thanks to family networks and assets.”


“Deporting a million Afghans won’t solve Pakistan’s problems.

“When Pakistan’s caretaker government announced it will deport all “illegal” immigrants by the end of the month, everyone knew exactly what it meant: Afghan refugees are once again to be the targets of Islamabad’s threats.”


“Afghanistan earthquakes a ‘disaster on top of a disaster’, World Food Programme says.

“We have 50 million people who do not know where their next meal will come from, and the World Food Program is only able to support 3 million people due to a massive funding shortfall,” Kropf said in Herat, a northwestern province where the WFP has begun distributing rations.”


“Why are we avoiding the ‘what if’ of nuclear war?

“…One would hope bright minds in political capitals around the world are gaming how to avoid a nuclear conflict. But that notion calls to mind a moment when President Reagan after being briefed on the concept of Mutual Assured Destruction posed the simplest of questions, “What is Plan B?” to which his advisors had no answer.”


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.

11th October 2023 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

Very shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of Michael Dowd of Post Doom. He was a stalwart supporter of this site, an effervescent character and extremely well informed. It was a pleasure and a privilege to have known him just a little. RIP Michael.

“IMF says global economy ‘limping along,’ cuts growth forecast for China, euro area.

“The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut its growth forecasts for China and the euro area and said overall global growth remained low and uneven despite what it called the “remarkable strength” of the U.S. economy…

“IMF chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas told reporters… said the forecasts generally pointed to a soft landing, but the IMF remained concerned about risks related to the real estate crisis in China, volatile commodity prices, geopolitical fragmentation, and a resurgence in inflation.”


“The world is hurtling towards another financial crisis, and the IMF is in denial.

“With war in the Middle East looming, energy prices once more spiking, and governments seemingly drowning in debt, the impression of all-embracing perma-crisis grows by the day. Yet at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meeting… there is an almost surreal air of calm verging on outright complacency.”


“War in Israel, oil shocks, and roaring inflation, Deutsche Bank sees ‘a striking number of parallels’ with the 1970s…

“Allen’s main fear is that we could see a repeat of this type of persistent inflation during the 2020s. He pointed to a number of reasons why he’s so concerned on Monday, from the threat of another oil price shock to growing “industrial unrest” from workers that can be seen in union strikes.”


“Senator Lindsay Graham, a notable hawk in foreign policy, has called for bombing Iranian refineries in retaliation for the country’s supposed involvement in the Hamas attack on Israel this weekend.

“Speaking to the media on Monday, Graham said that if there was another attack by groups affiliated with Iran, the United States should “destroy Iran’s oil infrastructure”.”


“US bond market bomb could blow up the world economy…

“Joe Biden keeps spending while Jay Powell is raising interest rates to tame inflation… [unlike the UK gilts crisis last year] The US economy is big enough to blow up the world economy. President Joe Biden is spending up big on green projects… Unfortunately, that is blowing out the US budget deficit, which is expected to rise to more than 6 per cent of output next year.”


“Housing industry urges Powell to stop raising interest rates or risk an economic hard landing.

“Top real estate and banking officials are calling on the Federal Reserve to stop raising interest rates as the industry suffers through surging housing costs and a “historic shortage” of available homes for sale.”


“Almost half of US listed firms have negative profit margins.

“They have been able to survive in artificially low interest rates and ample liquidity environment. Things have changed though.”


“Mack Trucks workers go on strike as labor unrest drags on at Detroit automakers.

“More auto workers are on strike after union members rejected a tentative five-year contract with Mack Trucks. They now join fellow United Auto Workers members who have been striking against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis since the middle of September.”


“South Carolina nuclear plant gets warning over another cracked emergency fuel pipe.

“Small cracks have been found a half-dozen times in the past 20 years in pipes that carry fuel to emergency generators that provide cooling water for a reactor if electricity fails at the V.C. Summer plant near Columbia…”


“Union workers are set to go on strike at Chevron’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in Australia next Thursday, in renewed action that could disrupt about 7% of global LNG supply.

“Chevron (CVX) confirmed that it had received notice of industrial action scheduled to start on October 19 that would involve work stoppages and partial work bans.”


“Israel shuts down major offshore gas field amid violence.

“Chevron was instructed to suspend production Oct. 9 at the Tamar gas field off its southern coast and will seek alternative fuel sources to meet its needs, following three days of violence in the region.”


“Gas prices surged after Russia was suspected of sabotaging an undersea gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia [this is the Finnish government’s speculation; I am just reporting it].

“On Tuesday, Sauli Niinistö, the president of Findland, said that the 48 mile-long Balticconnector link between the two Nato allies has been extensively damaged by “external activity”.”


“Hundreds of thousands of [UK] households struggling with energy bills, industry chiefs warn.

“E.On and EDF revealed a recent spike in the number of customers unable to pay, as they called for Government support before bills rise further over winter. Philippe Commaret, EDF’s managing director for customers, said he has seen an increase of 100,000 in the number of struggling households. “That’s pretty stark,” he said.”


“As the cost of living increases amid an unstable economy, people are panicking about their finances. It’s taking a toll on mental health and quality of life for billions across the globe.

“…more and more people are starting to panic about their money. Financial anxiety has set in for billions of people – including some who haven’t felt the acute pressure before.”


“Bank of England flags concerns over longer mortgages and rise in credit card use.

“Consumers are taking longer mortgages and spending more on credit cards in an attempt to adapt to higher interest rates and living costs, potentially storing up debt troubles in future, the Bank of England has said.”


“Loans by Italian banks to businesses in August posted the biggest drop on record, data showed on Tuesday, as the European Central Bank’s policy of tightening bites.

“A string of hikes by the ECB, whose key rate stands at a record high of 4% since last month, make it much more expensive for firms to borrow.”


“Bank of Japan’s interest rate-rising dilemma.

“After having maintained near-zero interest rates for decades, the Japanese central bank may be forced to hike rates if inflation remains persistently high. But Japan’s enormous government debt and vulnerable banking sector mean that doing so could trigger a systemic financial crisis.”


“China’s Country Garden warns it could default on debt…

“In a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange the company said that it “expects that it will not be able to meet all of its offshore payment obligations when due or within the relevant grace periods, including but not limited to those under the US dollar notes issued by the company”.”


“Argentina’s peso has tumbled against the dollar as voters and markets brace for a possible victory by Javier Milei, a radical rightwing economist who wants to dollarise the economy, in elections on October 22…

“The gap between the official and unofficial rates has widened to 165 per cent, the largest on record.”


“Guatemala’s Arevalo says government using violence to counter protests, warns possible state of siege…

“Ongoing protests entered their eighth straight day on Monday, with Guatemalans taking to the streets to demand the resignation of authorities from the attorney general’s office, which has faced international accusations of trying to undermine Arevalo’s landslide electoral victory in August.”


“Bulgaria’s miners, energy workers plan national protest.

“Miners and energy sector workers have been blocking key roads in Bulgaria for eleven days in a row… By the end of 2038, Bulgaria has pledged to close the coal industry under its recovery and resilience plan… These plans envisage the smooth transition of regions where coal industry is located towards green energy production.”


“Coal industry faces 1 million job losses from global energy transition – research.

“The global coal industry may have to shed nearly 1 million jobs by 2050, even without any further pledges to phase out fossil fuels, with China and India facing the biggest losses, research showed on Tuesday. Hundreds of labour-intensive mines are expected to close…”


“We are not in an energy transition. We are in an energy addition.

“Energy demand keeps going up, and only a small portion of that is being covered by the increases in renewable energy. 82% of the worlds energy still comes from fossil fuels. This is not simply a matter of building out renewables. That market logic is a failure.”


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.