We’ve summarised the 15 key stories of the last week into an easily digestible briefing so that you can stay up to date on what’s happening around the world. You can subscribe to receive the briefing in your inbox each week.
- Donald Trump’s impeachment trial concluded on Saturday with 57 senators voting to convict and 43 voting to acquit, meaning that the two thirds majority necessary to convict was not reached. However, it was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in history, with 7 Republicans voting to convict along with all 50 Democrats.
- The UK has reached its target of offering a jab to the 15 million people in the four most vulnerable groups in the UK population. The target will then switch to vaccinating all over 50 year olds by May, as well as starting the rollout of second doses.
- Mario Draghi has been sworn in as the Prime Minister of Italy after he formed a Unity government consisting of the main political parties. He is seen as a safe pair of hands to lead Italy out of its worst recession in decades, having been credited with saving the Euro as president of the ECB.
- China and Hong Kong have banned BBC World News as tensions between Britain and China persist. The move comes after Ofcom revoked China Global Television Network’s UK license for breaching broadcasting laws. Both the UK and US have condemned the decision.
- The UK’s hotel quarantine scheme is set to come into force on Monday. Travellers arriving from 33 “red list” countries will be required to pay £1750 to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days. The scheme has faced criticism for delays and technical problems.
- The WHO has announced that the AstraZeneca vaccine was suitable for adults of all ages, contrary to the approach of some countries. Meanwhile a WHO director said that the UK’s delayed second dose strategy has been vindicated and that it offered a great lesson to the world.
- The government is preparing to lay out its plans for a gradual reduction in lockdown measures from next week. There are numerous contradicting accounts of the plans, but schools seem likely to be one of the earliest areas to return to normal.
- Concerns have been raised about China’s unwillingness to share data from the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. The US national security adviser has said that the US have “deep concerns”, although the WHO has made clear that it is extremely unlikely the pathogen leaked from a Chinese laboratory, as former President Trump suggested.
Business & Economics
- Bitcoin continued to rise this week after BNY Mellon and Mastercard announced projects with the cryptocurrency and JP Morgan said that it would start trading bitcoin at some point. Meanwhile, Tesla invested $1.5 billion in the currency, pushing the price higher.
- The trading of euro-denominated derivatives fell in London as the results of Brexit continue to become apparent. Trading fell from 40% of the market to only 10%, as business flooded out of the UK and into other trading hubs such as New York and Amsterdam.
- The latest UK GDP figures show that the economy grew by 1% in Q4, avoiding a double-dip recession. However, GDP is still down 9.9% annually, making it the largest fall in GDP for over 300 years, when the Great Frost of 1709 led to GDP falling by 13%.
- Shell has confirmed that it believes its production of oil peaked in 2019 and will now fall by 1 to 2% annually over the next few years. They also announced that they are looking to grow their network of electric vehicle chargers to 500,000 by 2025.
- The FTSE 100 has still not recovered from the slump of 2020, in comparison to other important indexes such as the Nikkei, DAX, and S&P 500, which are now higher than they were a year ago. Much of this stems from the FTSE’s exposure to technology companies, which is comparatively low to many others.
- The US Federal Reserve has announced the terms of the annual stress test. Large banks will need to be able to withstand a 55% fall in the US stock market, worse even than the almost 50% used in special tests in September, as fear of a bubble in the market builds.
- Cumbria county council have announced that they plan to reconsider the planning permission they gave for a new UK coal mine, giving the government a chance to intervene. The government have faced criticism for not rejecting the plans, which seemingly contradict the government’s green agenda.
Written by Milo Dennison and Ed Hilditch