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

  1. Despite the rising cost of living hitting UK households nation-wide, retail sales jumped 1.4% in April with the sales of tobacco and alcohol driving such growth. However, official figures revealed a longer downward trend of sales across all sectors of the UK economy.
  2. Chief executive of Marks & Spencer, Steve Rowe, has warned that the introduction of an online sales tax would “stifle the very innovation physical retail needs to compete in a digitalized era”. This arises after a three month government consultation on the introduction of an online sale tax closed on Friday.
  3. UK consumer confidence has fallen to the lowest level since records began in 1974 amid growing concern over the cost of living crisis. The headline UK consumer confidence index dropped to -40 in May, surpassing the record low of -39 set in 2008 after the global financial crisis.

International Business & Economics

  1. Analysts at Goldman Sachs have cut their forecast of China’s GDP growth to 4% after “weak data” was released in April, with the bank not expecting China to completely ease Covid controls until the second quarter of 2023.
  2. India has become the latest country to ban wheat exports as the threat of food shortages continues to grow. India has joined several countries, including Argentina and Egypt, to impose export restrictions on the sale of wheat; this caused global wheat prices to jump 6%
  3. Sri Lanka has defaulted on its debt for the first time in the nation’s history, with inflation spiraling towards 40%. The country has suspended payments on about $7 billion of international loans and Economists fear other countries such as Egypt and Tunisia could follow.
  4. The World Bank has vowed $12 billion in support for low income countries which have been hit by shortages of food and fertilizer. Current projects are expected to receive $30 billion in support for areas such as agriculture, water, and irrigation schemes. The president of the World Bank, David Malpass, said loans would encourage farmers to fund investments for more efficient methods of food production. 
  5. Portugal’s finance minister has pledged to remove his country from the “podium” of the three most indebted countries in Europe in order to prevent higher government borrowing costs hitting the wider economy. Medina told journalists “we cannot afford to introduce an additional risk factor”. 

UK Politics

  1. The UK slashed its humanitarian aid budget by 51% despite the global food crisis, with Ministers accused of choosing “the worst moment in history” to do so. This comes in light of the UN warning the crisis in Ukraine risks tipping 1.7 billion people into poverty, destitution, and hunger.
  2. The Liberal Democrat Party is urging Boris Johnson to confirm whether he discussed the issue of introducing an energy windfall tax with his informal political advisor Sir Lynton Crosby who represents clients in the oil and gas industry. Ed Miliband, shadow energy secretary, has claimed a windfall tax would raise funding to help millions of people with energy bills.
  3. Union leaders have warned against transport secretary Grant Shapps pushing through tighter industrial action laws. This arises after the RMT prepared to reveal the results of a 40,000 member strike ballot on Wednesday. Shapps intervened by stating “minimum service levels would be a way to work towards protecting those freight routes”.

International Politics

  1. Saudi Arabia has announced that they are hoping to “work out an agreement” with OPEC+ in order to supply oil to Russia despite tightening sanctions from the USA and Europe. Prince Abdulaziz said they would increase production if the “demand was there”. 
  2. Anthony Albanese was elected Australia’s new PM this Saturday, with the Australian Labour party winning a substantial seat majority against the Coalition government. The new PM has already vowed to “end climate wars” and adopt more ambitious emission targets.
  3. Sweden and Finland simultaneously submitted their applications to join NATO on Wednesday morning. However, Turkey’s president Erdogan has said they will not look “positively” on their bids unless Sweden and Finland “show that they will stand in solidarity with Turkey on fundamental issues” associated with harboring outlawed Kurdish rebels.
  4. The Ukrainian government has announced that they will not agree to a ceasefire deal which involves giving up Ukrainian territory to the Russians. Andriy Yermak, Ukraine’s presidential Chief of Staff confirmed “the war must end with the complete restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty”.
  5. Joe Biden will be launching the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) in Tokyo on Monday. It has four pillars which will deal with issues such as infrastructure, supply chain resilience, and clean energy whilst also including discussions about forming a digital trade agreement.

Written by Philip Weaver and Rob Webb