covid pandemic – Beacon at Bangsar Sat, 12 Mar 2022 00:50:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 covid pandemic – Beacon at Bangsar 32 32 Debt maturity and central bank hikes loom in Russia Fri, 11 Mar 2022 23:20:00 +0000

A man walks out of a currency exchange office in Saint Petersburg, Russia, January 26, 2022. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

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LONDON, March 11 (Reuters) – The cost of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will become much clearer next week, with a previously unthinkable sovereign default looming, other central bank emergency measures probable and a guaranteed stock market crash in the event of a reopening.

Moscow’s “special operation” in its former Soviet neighbor has cut Russia off from key parts of global financial markets by the West, triggering its worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Wednesday could mark another low. The government must pay $117 million on two of its dollar-denominated bonds. But he signaled that he wouldn’t, or if he did, it would be in rubles, which would amount to a default. Read more

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Technically it has a 30 day grace period, but that’s a minor point. If that happened, it would represent its first international default since the Bolshevik Revolution more than a century ago.

“Default is very imminent,” said Roberto Sifon, a top analyst at S&P Global, which just hit Russia with the world’s largest-ever sovereign credit rating downgrade. Read more

That state-run energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft have made international bond payments in recent days and that around $200 billion in still-unlicensed government reserves leave a glimmer of hope that may not happen, even if those odds seem bleak.

Russia’s international debt default looms

Wednesday could be busy for other reasons as well.

Russian financial newspaper Vedomosti reported that central bank and Moscow stock exchange sources said this week that suspended local stock and bond trading could resume by then.

It would be chaotic at least in the short term. Big Russian companies, also listed on the London and New York markets, saw these international stocks plummet to virtually zero when the crisis hit and have now come to a halt. Read more

“A lot of financial institutions are sitting on Russian assets that they want to get rid of but they can’t,” said Rabobank currency strategist Jane Foley.

“They really have no choice but to sit on it. But that means when they are allowed to trade, the selling can be quite persistent.”

Ruble plunges as conflict triggers unprecedented sanctions


It won’t stop there. Russia’s central bank is due to meet on Friday after already more than doubling interest rates to 20% and implementing sweeping capital controls to try to prevent a full-scale financial crisis. Read more

Western investment banks like JPMorgan now expect the economy to plunge 7% this year due to a combination of bank run fears, sanctions damage and an instant spike in inflation. caused by a 40% drop in the ruble.

This compares to the 3% growth forecast at the start of the year. It also means a peak-to-trough dive of around 12%, which would be bigger than the 10% drop in the 1998 ruble crisis, the 11% lost in the global financial crisis, and the 9% drop of the COVID-19 pandemic. .

“The CBR might raise rates a bit more, that would be the safest guess at the moment,” said Arthur Budaghyan, chief emerging markets strategist at BCA Research.

However, the most crucial measures at this stage could be new capital controls to try to keep the financial system in a cocoon.

“It’s much more important to make sure the banks can operate, can still process payments and keep credit flowing to the economy so that it can at least function to some extent,” Budaghyan said.

The Russian stock market plunges much more than in other crises
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Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by David Gregorio

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

It’s high time to #breakthebias | The star of the day Mon, 07 Mar 2022 18:00:00 +0000

Gender equality is still an elusive term, not just in Bangladesh, but all over the world, despite so much economic progress and so much action by policy makers. Stereotypical political, social and cultural values ​​continue to act as barriers to the advancement of women. This is why, despite the world’s irresistible progress on various fronts, women in positions of power are still rare.

In Bangladesh, women’s participation in the labor force has risen from just 4% in 1974 to 38.5% today. Women are working not only in agriculture or in the export-oriented RMG sector, but also in many non-traditional sectors at an increasing rate. Greater participation in education has created opportunities for high-value jobs for Bangladeshi women. Yet, the number of women participating in these sectors is still low and few women can access leadership positions in these organizations. The gender gap in leadership positions in Bangladesh is as high as 88%, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2021.

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We also frequently talk about the wage gap between men and women in many sectors, including clothing, construction and agriculture. More than 90% of working women have informal jobs. Due to the high informality of their jobs, their earnings and job security are also low, especially compared to men. According to the WEF, in 2021, women earned only 40.3% of men’s estimated income in Bangladesh. And the pay gap is also true for highly educated executives and managers. Women are often reluctant to negotiate their salary; many also don’t know how to negotiate. And the men feel that the women are not the breadwinners, and that their income is just “additional”. Such a thought also exists in some women, unfortunately. This is why the fight to establish gender equality is not fighting against certain sections of the population, but against the system within which these skewed values ​​are born and nurtured.

The strong bias against women goes against gender equality in many ways. The 2020 United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) indicates that globally, 90% of men and women are prejudiced against women. The report reveals that beliefs and social norms hinder gender equality in work, education and politics. The GSNI also shows that over 40% of people believe that men can be better business leaders, and when there is a shortage of jobs, men have more job rights. Even more striking, 28% believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife. Although Bangladesh is not among the 75 countries studied by the UNDP, the scenario would not be much different here.

With such biases and barriers in place, achieving gender equality is not easy. In 2021, the WEF suggested that it would take 135.6 years to close the gender gap globally. The Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI) considers four key dimensions of the gender gap: economic participation and opportunity; education level; health and survival; and political empowerment. GGGI also tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time. The Covid-19 pandemic has extended this period by 99.5 years, as estimated by the WEF 2020 report.

Thus, the road to gender equality is long and difficult. Many young university graduates enter the labor market with great enthusiasm. It begins to decline within a few years as they expand their family. Many women end up having to choose between motherhood and their career. This mid-term departure of female managers reduces the number of capable women in leadership positions. When their children grow up and they want to return to the labor market, their knowledge becomes obsolete. Employers don’t want to hire them with such shortcomings. Our labor market is small and new graduates have difficulty finding jobs. However, women must stay the course and not give in. They need to learn new skills and retrain. Many have become small entrepreneurs, although it is not easy to access financing from financial institutions. Bias also harms women when they approach commercial banks for loans.

Prejudices against women are rooted in most of us. Highly educated or less educated, rich or poor, male or female, we all hold similar values ​​when it comes to women’s issues. Therefore, achieving gender equality is going to be a long and tedious journey. As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we must commit to walking this arduous and treacherous path together.

Dr Fahmida Khatun is executive director of the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD). The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

Ukraine is conflict to bring higher food prices Wed, 02 Mar 2022 16:44:01 +0000

The Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), an inter-agency platform to improve food market transparency and the food security policy response launched by the G20, issued a clear message this week. Putting it bluntly, the farm organization said the “sharp escalation” of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine poses a significant threat to global food security.

“As well as causing humanitarian hardship in the region itself, the crisis threatens to compromise the food security of millions of people around the world who depend on affordable food from international markets for their daily subsistence”Adriana Herrera, president of AMIS, wrote.

As major grain producers and exporters, Russia and Ukraine are “crucial players” in safeguarding global food security, Herrera stressed. Russia and Ukraine together account for almost a third of global wheat exports, 19% of exported corn and 80% of sunflower oil exports – the third most traded vegetable oil internationally.

With much of the world – from the EU and US to Japan and South Korea – implementing sanctions designed to squeeze the Russian economy in response to the country’s military action in Ukraine, the AMIS urges restraint by “all parties” from any movement that leaves food and agricultural markets exposed to the wider consequences of conflict.

“As Chair of the G20 Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), which includes all parties involved in this dispute, I urge all members to: (i) refrain from any action that would adversely affect global food trade flows, including trade sanctions, blockades and restrictions; and (ii) ensure that the world’s food and agricultural markets have sufficient access to global supplies, particularly those low-income countries importing countries food imports,”Herrera wrote.