What is the world's biggest worry? 5 economic stories to read this week

Person reading a newspaper. Gender inequalities, Russian debt default and slowing shipping - here are the latest economic stories.

Gender inequalities, Russian debt default and slowing shipping - here are the latest economic stories. Image: Unsplash/Roman Kraft

Tom Crowfoot
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  • This weekly roundup brings you some key economic stories from the past seven days.
  • Top economics stories: The Global Gender Gap; What the world's worrying about; The impacts of Russian debt default; Shipping could be about to slow down; and Trade as a gateway to climate resilience.

1. How measuring wealth can help close the gender gap

On average, women accumulate only 74% of the wealth that men have at retirement, according to the new Wealth Equity Index. The report illustrates how women are disadvantaged throughout their careers, helping to identify the specific factors causing inequitable outcomes.

The World Economic Forum's new Global Gender Gap Report 2022 also sheds light on the issue of gender quality — predicting it will take 132 years to reach full gender parity, at the current rate of progress. Read more about how we can address the gender gap in the workplace.


What's the World Economic Forum doing about the gender gap?

2. Inflation is the world's biggest worry, according to a new poll

In a new Ipsos survey, 37% of people named inflation as their top concern. This figure has risen 3 percentage points since May, as the global cost of living crisis and surging inflation grip global economies.

A chart showing the top global concerns over the past two years, with inflation now at number one.
Inflation has been increasingly becoming a top global concern over the past two years. Image: Ipsos

Concern about COVID-19 has fallen in recent months, though, with unemployment and jobs rising. Learn more about what's worrying the world.

3. Here's what Russian debt default means for the nation and global financial markets

For the first time since 1918, Russia has defaulted on its foreign debts. Economic sanctions have been imposed on the nation by western governments since the invasion of Ukraine in February.

In this piece, a legal expert and an economist explore the significance of default, both in the short and longer term.

Learn more about the long-term implications of Russia's foreign debt default.

Russian currency
Due to this foreign debt default, Russia will have to pay a higher cost of borrowing to attract new investors and to keep those it already has. Image: Korobcorp/Shutterstock
Have you read?

4. Why shipping might be about to get slower

From 2023, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires all ships to calculate their annual carbon intensity based on a vessel's emissions for the cargo it carries - and show that it is progressively coming down. The two options available for older ships are to either be retrofitted with new technologies or simply slow down. A 10% drop in speed slashes fuel usage by almost 30%, according to marine sector lender Danish Ship Finance.

With supply chains already under strain from a surge in demand post-lockdowns, pandemic disruptions at ports, and a lack of new ships, shipping capacity looks to decrease even further with these IMO requirements. Find out more about the state of global shipping.

5. How trade can become a gateway to climate resilience

Climate-related droughts, deadly heatwaves, severe storms, cyclones, hurricanes, and a pandemic. These factors make growing and exporting staple crops extremely challenging, pushing a growing number of people into poverty and starvation, writes Molly Olson - CEO of Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand.

Based on current trajectories, around a quarter of Brazil’s coffee farms, and 37% of Indonesia’s, are likely to be lost to climate change.

A map detailing the effects of climate change on the bean belt.
Coffee is one of the sectors that could be hardest hit by climate change, and worsening conditions hit crop yields hard. Image: Fairtrade

However, global trade could be used to mitigate climate change and uplift the world's poorest, if exporting countries adopt sustainable and climate-resilient practices. From adopting sustainable soil and water management to reforesting farmlands, discover how climate resilience and trade can grow together.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Geo-economicsEconomic ProgressFinancial and Monetary Systems
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Revised figures for US Q4 growth, and other economic stories to read

Joe Myers

March 1, 2024

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