Information meeting of June 1, 2022

Here’s what you need to know

Europe has experienced record inflation. The euro zone recorded inflation of 8.1% last year, a record since its creation in 1999.

Shanghai, reopened. After a strict two-month lockdown to slow the spread of covid, China’s most productive city plans to restore public transport, let businesses operate and free citizens from their homes.

Russia cut more gas. Moscow said it would deprive three European companies of natural gas purchases after they refused to violate EU sanctions by paying in rubles. The decision comes after the EU approved a 75% ban on imported Russian fossil fuels.

Ukraine continues to resist. Concentrated Russian forces took control of Severodonetsk, a major city in eastern Ukraine, as the UN attempted to smuggle Ukrainian wheat around the Russian naval blockade.

The Australian cabinet is closer to gender parity. New Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has outlined his plans to govern, appointing 10 women to his 23-person cabinet, including his finance and foreign ministers.

BTS visits JRB. South Korean pop music superstars BTS have visited US President Joe Biden to highlight the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to American culture and condemn anti-Asian hate crimes.

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To monitor

Today will mark a reduction in tariffs on UK steel and aluminum exports to the US, and the end of UK retaliatory measures on iconic US products.

💸 President Donald Trump enacted special taxes in 2018, ostensibly to protect American steelmakers from China. They created several thousand new jobs in the steel industry, at a cost of $900,000 each paid by consumers.

🎈 Removing tariffs should help reduce US margin inflation, by reducing the cost of goods that need steel, especially automobiles.

🍷 UK tariffs applied to US products, such as Levi’s jeans, bourbon, Harley Davidson motorcycles and wine. They didn’t have a big impact, but the targeted industries lost a lot of business in old Blighty.

🤷 The US is still keeping Trump’s tariffs on China, the US’s largest trading partner, in place without much apparent benefit. Biden has been wary of offending unions or appearing “weak” to China, but import taxes aren’t helping the United States fight inflation. They expire in July.

🧧 A sign that China’s trade fears aren’t going away anytime soon: a one-off clause that allows the US to audit UK exporters with Chinese investors for improper government influence.

You don’t become a rich crypto owner by using it

Recent data collected by the US Federal Reserve has shown a stark contrast between crypto investors and crypto operators. The former generally have incomes above $100,000 and use the traditional banking system to save, spend and obtain credit. Those who use the purchasing power of crypto to buy things and transfer money instead are disproportionately unbanked and low-income.

Crypto advocates present it as an alternative financial system. However, recent downturns in crypto markets have mimicked those in traditional financial markets, leading many analysts to speculate that corporate and institutional investments in crypto have linked the two. Crypto is not a stable hedge against inflation, nor a safe haven of money away from banks – it is an unregulated, high risk and volatile investment. Anyone who considers it more than that has probably already been burned.

Quick Quiz: Which of the following is causing the price increase?

Image copyright: Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi

  1. The pandemic and government measures to counter its effects on the economy
  2. Central banks
  3. supply chains
  4. Corporate greed
  5. The Russian invasion of Ukraine
  6. Labor shortages
  7. Wage shortages

All? None? Some, to a greater degree than others? Inflation is notoriously difficult to diagnose, and to fix the problems you need to know what the problems are.

For a little more clarity and to find out how rising prices can be slowed, listen to the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast.

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Rolled cheese is back. British (?) sport will make a comeback this weekend, with competitors set to chase tricks up a hill in Gloucester, England.

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