• This weekly wrapper brings you the latest stories from the world of economics and finance.
  • Top economy stories: just 8% of insurers 'preparing adequately' for climate change; UK inflation hits highest level on record; World Bank to make $30 billion available to tackle food security.

1. Top global economy news stories

The Russian economy, hit by unprecedented Western sanctions, is potentially resilient but needs a significant increase in imports and greater freedoms, economists at state development bank VEB said on 17 May.

Uruguay's central bank has increased its benchmark interest rate to 9.25%. It also signalled it would continue to rise in an effort to tackle inflation. Consumer prices rose 9.4% in April.

Chinese government income has fallen while spending has risen in the first four months of the year, Ministry of Finance data has shown. Income for January to April 2022 was 7.43 trillion yuan, down 4.8% on the same period in 2021. General fiscal spending rose 5.9% during the same period, reaching 8.1 trillion yuan.

Bank of England Deputy Governor, Jon Cunliffe, has warned that most retail investors who've put money in digital currencies probably don't understand exactly what they've purchased, or the risks.

The US Biden Administration is set to fully block Russia's ability to pay US bondholders, with a deadline expiring next week. Any such move could bring Russia closer to default.

US retail sales rose strongly in April as consumers bought more motor vehicles amid an improvement in supply and increased spending at restaurants, providing a powerful boost to the economy at the start of the second quarter.

Bloomberg Economics has lowered its 2022 forecast for global GDP by $1.6 trillion. The main driving forces? Russia's invasion of Ukraine and China's COVID-19 lockdowns.

Asian stocks fell on 19 May, following a steep fall on Wall Street the day before, with investors concerned about global inflation, China's zero-COVID-19 policy and the war in Ukraine.

The World Bank has announced it will make $30 billion available to help tackle a food security crisis threatened by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has cut off grain exports from the two countries.

Indonesia's government has asked for parliamentary approval to top up energy subsidies by about $23.8 billion to be able to keep some energy prices unchanged amid a global surge in inflation, its finance minister said on Thursday.

For the first time since records began, there are now more job vacancies than unemployed people in the UK, according to the latest data from the country's Office for National Statistics.

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2. Just 8% of insurers ready for impact of climate change

Climate change is having a major impact on the insurance industry, with just 8% of insurers preparing adequately for its impact, consultants Capgemini and financial industry body Efma said in a report released on 17 May.

Insured losses from natural catastrophes have increased 250% in the past 30 years, with perils such as wildfires and storms, seen as particularly impacted by climate change, causing an even faster rise in insured losses, the report said.

Insurers' main catastrophe risk in the past was typically from hurricanes in US states such as Florida and Texas, Seth Rachlin, global insurance industry leader at Capgemini, told Reuters.

"We've seen with the flooding in Europe and wildfires in Australia, wildfires in California, it's becoming a broader geographic issue, affecting a broader percentage of the Earth."

European insurers are leading the way in embedding environmental, social and governance issues in insurance underwriting and investment and in focusing on risk prevention, Rachlin said.

3. UK inflation hits 9% - highest since 1980s

British consumer price inflation hit an annual rate of 9% in April, the highest since official estimates began in the late 1980s, data showed on 18 May. The figure is up from 7% in March. Around three-quarters of April's rise came from higher energy bills, which saw millions face a £700($870)-a-year rise.

The Office for National Statistics, which said consumer price inflation was probably last higher sometime around 1982, said the price of food, transport and machinery also contributed to price rises.

Earlier this month, the Bank of England forecast inflation would top 10% later this year and investors expect the BoE will add to the four interest rate increases it has done since December which took its Bank Rate to 1%, its highest since 2009.

Some economics research to read this week

The impact of the pandemic could leave lasting scars in G20 economies - particularly in emerging markets: new IMF analysis.

Graphic showing how G20's emerging market economies will see greater losses from the pandemic than their advanced counterparts.
An unequal hit.
Image: IMF

The impact of remote work on local service economies. A new NBER working paper takes a look.

The impact of politics on bond markets? Another new NBER working paper explores.