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. The UK is preparing for major public sector strike action on Wednesday as schools, railways, and university classes are expected to be disrupted. The Fire Brigades Union is also expected to release news on whether they will proceed with strike action over government refusal to increase wages in line with inflation.
  2. Taxpayer’s handed over £48 billion more to the treasury in the last nine months of 2022 than the same period the year before the tax thresholds and allowances were introduced. The figure totaled £553.2 billion which is roughly 9.5% higher than the previous year. 
  3. The CIPD, a body that represents HR professionals, has discovered that up to £2 billion of the Apprenticeship Levy has been spent on management training over the past six years. This is suggested to have benefitted existing staff at the expense of younger people most in need of job training. 

International Business & Economics

  1. America’s economy grew by 2.9% in the fourth quarter of 2022, just below the 3.2% growth rate of the preceding quarter. The total GDP of the USA increased by 2.1%.
  2. The Bank of Canada signalled it would become the first major central bank to stop increasing interest rates after raising rates to 4.5% in December, the highest since 2008.
  3. Concerns over Pakistan’s economy have sparked speculation that only an IMF bailout will be able to save the economy. Last Thursday, the Pakistani rupee dropped 14%, which marks an all time low, and inflation reached 25%.
  4. The German economy shrank by 0.2% in the final quarter of 2022, largely accredited to increasing gas prices causing reduced demand within the economy. Timo Wollmershäuser of the IFO Institute think tank has said ‘high rates of inflation have driven the German economy into a winter recession’.
  5. Leading central banks are expected to increase interest rates to a 15-year high this week. Investors are expecting the Federal Reserve to increase the rate by 0.25% whilst the Bank of England and European Central Bank are perceived to add 0.5% to the rate. 

UK Politics

  1. Sunak sacked Nahim Zahawi, the Tory party chair, for a “serious breach of the ministerial code”. Zahawi had admitted to reaching a settlement with the authorities over previously unpaid tax: reportedly around £5 million.
  2. MI5 have been criticised on ‘serious failings’ to protect the public’s data over alleged cases of mass surveillance. Currently, MI5, MI6, and GCHQ have the right to intercept phone calls and carry out surveillance on subjects of national security. 
  3. The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has insisted that HS2 will terminate in central London despite reports that the high speed railway may not. The estimated cost of the project has increased from £33 billion to over £100 billion since it was first instituted almost a decade ago. 

International Politics

  1. Five officers from the Memphis Police Department have been fired and charged with second-degree murder after videos were released of a black man, Tyre Nichols, being beaten during a traffic stop. Protests have erupted in Tennessee and several other cities across the US.
  2. Zelensky called on allies to speed up the deliveries of weapons and asked them to send more equipment, including long-range missiles. Under current plans, promised equipment could take months to arrive in addition to the need of weeks of training for Ukrainians to successfully operate the equipment.
  3. Hong Kong has banned cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabis compound that is currently available in bars and shops, labelling it a “dangerous drug”. From Wednesday trafficking and manufacturing CBD can carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a $639,000 fine.
  4. Burkina Faso terminated a security pact with France that allowed 400 French troops to be stationed in the country to fight jihadists in the Sahel. French soldiers left neighbouring Mali last year.
  5. Biden selected Jeff Zients,  who coordinated the Biden administration’s covid-19 response,
  6. to replace Klain as the White House chief of staff.

Written by Philip Weaver and Rob Webb