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.
UK Business & Economics
- NHS prescription charges will be frozen at £9.35. Normally, single prescription prices rise in line with inflation. However, following an announcement by Boris Johnson asking ministers to ease pressure on household budgets, Sajid Javid has announced the first prescription charge freeze in 12 months which will “put money back in people’s pockets”.
- Analysts warn that the risk of an impending recession has risen. The economy shrank by 0.1% in March and prices are rising at their fastest rate for 30 years. The recent rise in prices is “beginning to bite”, says the ONS, with people spending less and cutting down on car journeys due to high energy prices
- Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, will face MPs in parliament on Monday. He is set to face the “toughest grilling” in the House of Commons on whether the Bank has lost control of rising inflation rates which are now at 7% – the highest in 30 years.
International Business & Economics
- Russian energy supplier RAO Nordic will suspend its delivery of electricity to Finland, citing problems with payments as the chief reason. Finnish grid operator Fingrid said it does not expect any shortages given only 10% of the country’s electricity is supplied from Russia, and this news comes in light of Finland’s talks of joining NATO earlier this week.
- Sri Lanka’s new PM has stated the economic crisis the country is facing “will get worse before it gets better”. It has so far been the worst economic crisis the country has faced since gaining independence in 1948. The country is facing fuel shortages and soaring food prices, as well as a recent outbreak in violent protests
- India’s inflation rate has surged to an eight year high, largely resulting from supply chain issues tied with the Russo-Ukraine conflict. In April, CPI inflation jumped to 7.8% – the highest since 8.3% in May 2014 – with oils and fats experiencing the highest price increases of over 17.3%
- Inflationary pressures on the global economy have increased again over the fifth week of disruption in the world’s busiest port Shanghai. Over 20% of China’s international trade is handled from Shanghai and firms such as Apple, Tesla, and Amazon are warning of another supply chain shortage of key components such as computer chips.
- The United States has warned that global wheat production will fall for the first time in four years. Ukraine, one of the top five global wheat exporters, are expected to drop production by over 35% to 21.5million tons due to the ongoing conflict. This comes at a time when the UN World Food Programme have announced the possibility of a global food crisis with over 193million people suffering from acute food insecurity.
- Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has been urged to cancel Ukraine’s national debt to the UK as part of the UK’s wider aid package in light of the Russian invasion. Campaigners, which included several MPs, claimed the “crippling” burden should be lifted immediately to support Ukraine’s finances
- Labour has announced it will call a vote on Tuesday to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, with shadow minister Ed Miliband stating it was obscene the government has refused to implement the policy in light of these firms’ unexpected profits during the energy crisis
- Boris Johnson is expected to sign off plans for a law which will unilaterally scrap parts of the UK’s Brexit deal despite warnings it could cut off talks with Brussels and start a trade war with the EU. The law will be targeted at reforming parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol which currently stop a hard border forming between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
- Finland and Sweden announced on Sunday that they will be submitting a formal application to join NATO in response to rising aggression from the Kremlin. Putin has warned that “such a change in the country’s foreign policy could negatively affect Russian-Finnish relations”.
- Biden announced at the EU summit that the US would deliver a further 15 billion cubic metres of liquid natural gas to Europe in a bid to reduce the reliance on Russian supplies. However, US gas plants are already operating at full capacity and such increases in exports will “rely on the reallocation of existing supply”, say analysts at Goldman Sachs.
- German chancellor Olaf Scholz and his Social Democrat Party suffered a major blowback on Sunday when electoral results in North Rhine-Westphalia, the nation’s most populous state and former SDP stronghold, showed the SDP were down 4 points compared to the 2017 elections. Scholz has been criticised for his lack of support towards Ukrainians in the ongoing war.
- Elections in Australia have begun with the final polling day due on the 21st May. Over 300,000 Australians have already cast their votes in anticipation of hour long queues. The current Liberal-National coalition government, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, is seeking a fourth consecutive term in office.
- Reports from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have warned the window to prevent the 1.5C global warming limit being broken is “rapidly closing”. Over 40 countries will meet in Copenhagen this week to discuss global policies towards tackling climate change.
Written by Philip Weaver and Rob Webb