We’ve summarised the top 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.
Business & Economics
- Fear of interest rate rises, coupled with a long period of bullish speculation, has sparked a major sell off in the stock market. Many high-growth, high-risk technology companies have borne the brunt of this as investors flee for safety. The Russell 3000 is down 35% from its 12 month peak.
- Despite inflation and anger over its regressive nature, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak remain firm on their plan to raise National Insurance contributions from April. The aim is for the tax to raise an extra £12bn for the NHS and social care sector.
- Fraudulent businesses which took government-guaranteed bounce-back loans threaten to steal up to £3.5bn worth of taxpayer money. Governmental anti-fraud controls put in place to prevent this were not sufficient in the rush to ‘get help to businesses’. In addition, some of the banks’ lending practises have led to added losses for the firms.
- The CBI’s latest industrial trends survey indicates a low likelihood of disinflation in the near future. Producer Price Inflation (PPI) was at 9.3% for the year up to December, indicating continued CPI increases for at least the coming half year.
- Britain’s graduates are to experience a stealth tax on their student loan repayments. The threshold before which one has to begin repaying the loan is to be frozen for the fifth year running.
- UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has approved the extradition to the US of UK billionaire Mike Lynch. This comes as a result of Hewlett Packard’s successful legal case against Lynch, accusing him of having manipulated Autonomy’s accounts during the sale of the company to HP in 2011.
- A 254% increase in the value of housing stock in the UK over the last 20 years has led to higher levels of wealth inequality within the nation. With home-owners from the 90s benefitting from the gains, the ability to join the housing ladder is becoming less and less attainable for young earners.
- Tensions between Ukraine and Russia have been steadily rising, marked by the US’ rejection of Russian demands to reduce Nato’s expansion. American intelligence officials believe that the Russian military is planning an invasion of Ukraine that could begin within weeks.
- Sergio Mattarella has been re-elected as president of Italy for the next seven years, even though he had previously intended not to serve a second term. This appointment brings some certainty to the political climate in Italy, often marked by significant deadlock in parliament.
- Moderna has initiated trials of an experimental HIV vaccine, using the same mRNA technology as their Covid-19 vaccine. According to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, this is the first time that humans have received an mRNA vaccine for HIV.
- US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has announced his retirement later this summer. President Joe Biden has promised to nominate a female black successor to the Supreme Court, to be confirmed by the Senate before the start of the court’s next term.
- The EU has opened a World Trade Organisation case against China over its politicised handling of Lithuanian imports. China blocked Lithuanian products in December after Taiwan was allowed to open a diplomatic office in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.
- North Korea has fired multiple missile tests this week, including its longest-ranged missile in five years as well as two short-range missiles. These launches make this month one of the busiest ever missile testing months for North Korea. In response, South Korea, Japan, and the US have condemned the tests, as they directly contravene UN Security Council resolutions on nuclear weapons testing.´
- The army in Burkina Faso launched a coup, removing President Roch Kaboré from power in response to the government’s failure to fight Islamist insurgents. This follows protests and mutinies from soldiers last week.
- Sue Gray’s report on lockdown parties in Downing Street and Whitehall has been delayed in part due to police investigations into the same matter. Police Commissioner Cressida Dick’s decision to launch an inquiry into these allegations has drawn fierce criticism, as it asked for the Gray report to make ‘minimal reference’ to the events under investigation.
Written by Ollie Weldon and John Chang