Geo-Economics and Politics

What you need to know about the global economy this week

Figurines are seen in front of displayed stock graph and the word "Inflation" in this illustration taken 13 June 2022.

Latest economy news stories ... US inflation slows and a drought-stricken Rhine threatens $80 billion in trade. Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Joe Myers
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  • This weekly round-up brings you the latest stories from the world of economics and finance.
  • Top economy stories: US inflation slows; Risk to trade as River Rhine dries up; German economy to lose $265 billion in added value.

Economy stories from around the globe

The Bank of England will likely have to raise interest rates further to tackle inflation, Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden told Reuters.

When a global standard setter for company climate disclosures is established, it should align with European and US alternatives to allow easier implementation across jurisdictions and to avoid fragmenting information to investors, the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund have said.

The Philippines' economic growth slowed in the second quarter amid high inflation, rising by 7.4% from a year earlier, slower than a forecast of 8.2%.

A measure of Australian business confidence rebounded in July as sales and profits held up surprisingly well in the face of rising interest rates and high inflation, although firms also reported record costs amid supply constraints.

Greece's annual consumer inflation slowed to 11.6% in July from 12.1% in June, but remains close to its near three-decade high.

Indonesia's economic growth accelerated in April-June as a result of an export boom driven by rising commodity prices. Official data showed it was up 5.44% on a year earlier, with exports expanding nearly 20%.

Investor morale in the Eurozone was essentially unchanged in August from the previous month, amid fears of recession in the 19-country currency bloc, a survey showed on 8 August.

Egypt's annual urban consumer inflation accelerated to 13.6% in July from 13.2% in June.

Thailand's central bank has raised its key interest rate by 25 basis points – the first increase in nearly four years.

Inflation in Norway jumped to its highest in more than two decades in July, hitting 4.5%.

US worker productivity in the second quarter fell at its quickest pace since records began in 1948, dropping by 2.5% on the year.

Annual inflation in Mexico hit its highest for nearly 22 years in July, according to official data, rising by 8.15%. It reached 8.96% in December 2000.

US inflation slows

The US Consumer Price Index was flat in July after advancing by 1.3% in June. It's the largest deceleration in price increases since 1973 and is largely a result of a sharp drop in the price of gasoline – down around 20% since mid-June.

US consumer prices have been rising because of a number of factors, including global supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine. And despite falls in some areas – notably gasoline – food prices continued to rise in July, climbing by 1.1% after increasing by 1% in June.

"This is not yet the meaningful decline in inflation the Fed is looking for. But it's a start and we expect to see broader signs of easing price pressures over the next few months," said Paul Ashworth, Chief North America Economist at Capital Economics.

Inflation for the 12 months to the end of July was 8.5%, dropping from 9.1% in June.

Dramatic drop in US inflation.
The US Consumer Price Index was flat in July. Image: Reuters Graphics

Germany to lose $265 billion in added value

The German economy will lose more than €260 billion ($265 billion) in added value by 2030 as a result of the war in Ukraine and high energy prices. There will also be negative effects on the labour market, according to a study by the country's Institute for Employment Research.

Germany's price-adjusted gross domestic product will be 1.7% lower next year – compared with expectations if there were no war in Ukraine – and there will be about 240,000 fewer people in employment, said the study.

One of the big losers will be the hospitality industry, which was already hit hard by the pandemic and is likely to feel the pinch of consumers' waning purchasing power.

Energy-intensive sectors, such as the chemical industry and metal production, are also especially likely to be affected.

Have you read?

River Rhine set to become impassable, hitting trade

The River Rhine is set to become effectively impassable at a key point this week. The key European waterway – which runs north from the Swiss Alps, through western Germany and into the North Sea via the Netherlands – is a critical transport route for energy products and other industrial commodities.

River levels at the German town of Kaub are set to fall to just 40 centimetres on Friday, and as low as 37 centimetres by Saturday. This means that barges used to transport goods including coal and diesel will be unable to pass along the route.

Across Europe, rivers and canals transport more than a tonne of freight every year for every EU citizen, according to Eurostat calculations. The economic impact of the Rhine drying up will be significant.

“The capacity for inland shipping is going to be severely limited as long as there’s not a lot of rain in the area,” Albert Jan Swart, a transportation economist at ABN Amro Bank told Bloomberg. “You also get the damage caused in Germany by the high electricity prices. We’re talking billions.”

Other rivers across Europe are also suffering through a hot summer, with high river temperatures threatening nuclear power output in France. Italy's longest river, the Po, has been hit by drought, threatening agricultural production.

Some economics research to read this week

Global current account balances are widening for a second straight year, according to IMF research.

The evolution of current account balances
How current account balances have changed. Image: IMF

Who holds sovereign debt? And why does that matter? A new working paper from NBER explores.

Investor holdings of emerging/developing economy debt
Who holds sovereign debt? Image: NBER
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