All over again

Delivered on By Justin Pyvis

Good morning! The federal election now has a date after ScoMo flew to Canberra on Sunday to ask the Governor General, David Hurley, to dissolve Parliament.

That date is Saturday, 21 May. Get ready for a looong six weeks of politicking and electioneering! ๐Ÿฅบ

Introductory image.

Reading the tea leaves

Daily % change

AUD/USD

74.6

-0.3%

AUD/CNY

4.74

-0.2%

AU Bond

2.99

+0.6%

US Bond

2.71

+2.3%

ASX200

7,478

+0.5%

S&P500

4,488

-0.3%

Brent (bbl)

102.5

+1.9%

Gold (oz)

1,950

+0.8%

Iron ore (t)

154.4

-1.4%

Bitcoin

43,354

+1.3%

Ethereum

3,295

+1.0%

Note: Brent oil, gold bullion and iron ore prices are the second futures contract. Bond yields are 10-year Treasuries.

Theย US S&P500ย fell -0.27%, notching up its first weekly decline in a month following relatively hawkish comments from Federal Reserve officials throughout the week.

Locally, theย ASX200 added 0.47% led by materials (+1.25%) as a result of generally higher commodity prices and news that BHP’s (+1.70%) energy divestment to Woodside had been green-lit by an independent expert.

However, the index was down -0.21% for the week, ending a run of three consecutive weekly gains.


Food for thought

Global food prices hit a fresh record high in March.
Global food prices hit a fresh record high in March. Source

Global food prices rose by 34% in March from a year ago, the fastest rate rate of growth in 14 years. Food is now the most expensive it has been in real terms (i.e., inflation adjusted) since global data became available in 1961.

While the Russian invasion of Ukraine contributed to the latest surge โ€“ together they account for around 30% of global wheat trade, and Ukraine has cut its wheat, corn and cooking oil exports โ€“ prices were already rising before the war, as we reported on back in November last year:

“The post-pandemic world is very much at risk of a similar crisis [the 2007/8 global unrest] recurring all over again, only this time with heightened levels of public debt and supply chains that continue to be overwhelmed by the combination of COVID-19 restrictions and demand stimulus in relatively wealthy countries.”

The people hit hardest will be the poor (food expenses are a relatively larger share of their incomes) in the Middle East and North Africa, which are the most exposed to Ukrainian and Russian grain exports.


Chewing the fat


Bits and bytes

๐Ÿ›‚ The Australian Border Force “searched 822 travellers' mobile phones in 2021, despite admitting it has no power to force arrivals to give them the passcode to their devices”.

๐Ÿ” From Shanghai: “Reports of millions struggling to feed themselves, elderly unable to access medicine, videos of small riots breaking out circulating on social media. Many households relying on inadequate govt food deliveries.” Disturbing video footage here.

๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ The latest Newspoll shows ScoMo ahead of Anthony Albanese as preferred PM, although Labor remains ahead of the Coalition 53-47 on a two-party-preferred basis, “a 4.5% swing against the ยญgovernment since the last election”.

๐Ÿ›ฐ๏ธ Satellite footage shows a 13km convoy of Russian vehicles heading south towards the Donbas region, which “is becoming a central focus for Russian forces following their failure to capture Kyiv”.

๐Ÿ‘Ž Ratings agency S&P downgraded Russia’s debt to “selective default”, indicating an expectation that it will default on some of its obligations. A default on foreign debt would be Russia’s first since the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.

๐Ÿ Canada’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.3% in March, the lowest since modern records began in 1976. Average hourly wages increase to 3.4% annually, below pre-pandemic levels and negative in real terms (inflation was 5.7% in February).

๐Ÿค UK PM Boris Johnson travelled to Kyiv to meet President Zelensky in person, walking the streets “in a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people”.

๐Ÿ‘ด Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel called Warren Buffett a “sociopathic grandpa from Omaha” and bitcoin’s “enemy number one”. Watch the full keynote address here.

โœˆ๏ธ A DHL cargo plane broke in half when it skidded off the runway following an emergency landing in Costa Rica.

๐Ÿ’ธ This is on top of their ~$A200,000 annual pensions: “Six former prime ministers slugged taxpayers more than $A360,000 in three months for office facilities and administration as well as telecommunications and car costs.”

โŒ Actor Will Smith copped a 10-year ban from the Oscars for his infamous slap of Chris Rock

๐Ÿ—พ Japan’s government said it will “lift the entry ban on 106 countries”, although it turns out it was just a change to bureaucratic wording, with an official confirming that “In reality, there will be no change to who can enter Japan.”

โ›๏ธ Russian coal was banned by Japan’s government. Japan bought around 11% of Russia’s total coal exports in 2021.

๐Ÿ’ฒ Please stop: “Zuck Bucks are the latest digital currency scheme brewing at Meta, after Facebook’s cryptocurrency Diem collapsed.”

๐ŸŽพ Boris Becker was found guilty of making various financial transfers and hiding assets after declaring bankruptcy. He faces up to seven years in prison.

๐Ÿ‘‹ Imran Khan is no longer Pakistan’s PM after losing a no-confidence motion in parliament. Not one of Pakistan’s 29 PMs have completed a full five-year term in the country’s 75-year history.

โš”๏ธ NATO will deploy a permanent military force on its border with Russia and Belarus, replacing the small existing “tripwire” presence.