Global Review – 1st November

Eurozone inflation climbs to a new record high of 10.7%

Inflation in the eurozone reached a new record high of 10.7% in October – the first inflation reading crossing the 10% threshold. Inflation was at 9.9% in September. Last month’s increase was fuelled by energy prices which Eurostat estimates were 41.9% higher than in the same month last year. Prices for food, alcohol and tobacco were believed to have risen by 13.1% year-on-year. The Baltic countries remain the most deeply affected with the annual inflation remaining above the 20% mark. Estonia leads the pack with a 22.4% estimate. Meanwhile, France retained its position as the least impacted country although annual inflation for October is seen at 7.1%. Italy, whose annual rate is forecast at 12.8%, has recorded the highest month-on-month increase with a 4% jump.

‘Tax rises for all in Rishi budget’

The ‘Daily Mail’ quotes a British Treasury official who warns of impending tax rises for the entire country, saying the rises will be “rough” and most revenue will be raised through “stealth taxes” such as a freeze on income tax levels. ‘The Daily Telegraph’ also leads with reports of impending tax rises, noting that the prime minster and the chancellor have agreed “tough decisions” must be taken to fill a £50billion budgetary black hole. It says Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is planning a mix of £25bn in tax rises and £25bn in spending cuts. The ‘Daily Express’ also has warnings of a “painful” Autumn Statement, and reveals that the pensions triple lock – which ensures pension payments rise by whichever is highest out of inflation, average earnings or 2.5% – could be under threat.

Wheat prices soar after Russia ditches grain deal

Wheat prices shot up on global commodity markets after Russia pulled out of a deal to keep grain exports moving out of Ukrainian ports, exacerbating concerns that the move by Moscow could worsen global food shortages. Soft red wheat futures jumped 7% from Friday to Monday, while contracts for hard red wheat rose 6%. Moscow’s move adds more pressure to international grain prices that are already up 11.2% since last year, according to the FAO cereal price index.

On Monday, traders watched for developments on exports after Russia warned that shipments would become “much riskier” without its participation, even as ships loaded with grain began to leave Ukraine – one of the world’s biggest suppliers of wheat, corn and vegetable oil. The July agreement to open three Black Sea ports has been vital to help alleviate a global food crisis.

Russian missiles target Ukraine’s infrastructure
Russian missiles hit critical infrastructure in Kiev, Kharkiv and other Ukrainian cities resulting in water and electricity outages in large parts of the country’s capital. There were reports of power failures in Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv, as well. Ukrainian air defence forces shot down 44 of more than 50 missiles launched by Russian forces on Monday, the country’s air force command said on Telegram. The EU has condemned the Russian missile attacks. “Moscow’s strategy of sowing fear will not work,” writes European Council President Charles Michel. “Instead of fighting on the battlefield, Russia fights civilians,” Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, tweeted.

‘Lower prices or tax on extra profits’ Biden tells oil companies

US President Joe Biden has warned the so-called ‘Big Oil’ companies to lower their prices or face taxes on their profits, which, he said, in recent times were “of a scandalous magnitude”. Answering questions from reporters at the White House, Biden again criticised the Big Oil for the umpteenth time for not lowering consumer prices yet. “Give the consumers some respite,” he insisted, and “stop profiting from the war” in Ukraine.

Bolsonaro stays silent on defeat

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has not conceded his defeat to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, raising concerns of a possible Trump-inspired denial. Lula’s victory saw tens of thousands of celebrants out on the Sao Paulo streets on Sunday evening. Bolsonaro had made repeated claims – without any basis on reality or facts – that the electoral system was open to fraud. Meanwhile, truck drivers who support Bolsonaro staged more than 230 protests to partially or fully block roads in 20 states.

Israeli called for fifth election in four years

Israel goes to the polls today for the fifth time in under four years, with veteran right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu seeking to make a comeback as prime minister. Last polls before today’s elections give Netanyahu 60 seats, and a few extra votes, but still not the 61 he needs to get a Knesset majority. After a record total of 15 years in power, Netanyahu was ousted folowing the March 2021 elections as he again failed to form a government, whereupon the task fell to Yair Lapid, the centrist Yesh Atid party leader, who stitched together an eight-party coalition, united by their desire to topple Netanyahu. But in April this year, the coalition lost its majority when the government whip joined the Netanyahu camp.

Danes also head to the polls

Denmark also votes today in what promises to be a tight parliamentary election in which incumbent Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s survival in the face of the far-right depends on a new centrist party. This election triggered by the “mink crisis” that has kept the country in suspense for over a year, when a party propping up the minority Social Democrats government threatened to topple it if it did not call elections to regain the confidence of voters after a decision – which turned out to be illegal – to cull the country’s roughly 15 million minks over fears of a mutated strain of the novel coronavirus. Recent polls give the left-wing “red bloc”, led by Frederiksen’s Social Democrats, 47.1 to 49.1% against 40.9 to 43.6% percent for the “blues” – an informal alliance of liberal and conservative parties, supported by three populist parties. With neither bloc looking likely to gain their own majority, they will not be able to govern without the help of the Moderates, polling at 9.3 to 10% of the vote.

China warns Australia over US nuclear bombers in Darwin

China has warned that Australia could trigger an “arms race” in the region if the US pursues plans to station nuclear bombers in Darwin. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said such a move by Australia and the US would escalate regional tensions and gravely undermine peace. “China urges parties concerned to abandon the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical mindset, and do more things that are good for regional peace and stability and mutual trust among all parties,” said Mr Zhao at his regular briefing in response to a question. On Monday, the Australian Broadcast Corporation reported that the US is planning to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Royal Australian Air Force’s Tindal base. This comes as the region has become a crucial US defence hub as tensions with China mount.

Iran to hold public trials for 1,000 protesters

A thousand people will be tried in Tehran alone for taking part in the protests over the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s morality police. The protests, over 100 cities across the country, have been going on for over a month.

Pelosi’s attacker wanted to ‘break her kneecaps’

David DePape, the attacker at US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home, has been charged with attempted murder, among other things. DePape allegedly told police that he had intended to kidnap Pelosi and break her kneecaps if she did not “tell the truth”. DePape settled with assaulting her husband, Paul Pelosi, 82, who is currently in hospital with a fractured skull.

Avian flu alert in UK

British health authorities have issued a directive to poultry owners to keep their farmed bird animals indoors as of next week as a precaution after the detection of several outbreaks of Avian flu. The precautionary indication covers all poultry farms in England but will be extended to anyone who owns chickens or other farmed birds. It follows the raising to the “very high” level of the alert on a possible widespread wave of infections among animals in the cold season.

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