Leaving London! 18 November 2022
The 3,011 real estate and properties transactions totalled US$ 2.37 billion, during the week ending 18 November 2022. The sum of transactions was 230 plots, sold for US$ 463 million, and 2,233 apartments and villas, selling for US$ 1.37 billion. The top two land transactions were both for land in Palm Jumeirah – US$ 35 million and US$ 19 million. Al Hebiah Fifth recorded the most transactions, with 122 sales worth US$ 117 million, followed by Al Hebiah Fourth, with seventy-two sales transactions, worth US$ 48 million. The top three transfers for apartments and villas were all in Palm Jumeirah – a villa that was sold for US$ 40 million, followed by apartments sold for US$ 22 million and US$ 17 million. The mortgaged properties for the week reached US$ 379 million, with the highest being land in Al Hamriya, mortgaged for US$ 41 million. 87 properties were granted between first-degree relatives worth US$ 195 million.
latest report from CBRE shows that the Dubai property market continued its growth in October, with higher average price increases over the twelve months – 13.0% for villas and 8.5% for apartments – and by 0.7% and 1.4%, compared to September. Last month, the number of transactions was 72.5% higher, on the year, at 8.3k, with a 133.5% jump in off-plan market sales and by 29.4% in the secondary markets. In the ten months of the year to 31 October, total transaction volumes reached 71.4k – the highest total recorded since 2009. Average prices in Dubai reached US$ 313 per sq ft for apartments, and US$ 371 per sq ft for villas. However, these figures are still below the figures recorded in 2014, by 22.8% and 6.0%, for apartments and villas respectively. The most expensive areas for apartments and villas per sq ft were Jumeirah and Palm Jumeirah.
A partnership, incorporating Ellington Properties, Shuaa Capital and Sol Properties, has launched a new residential project on Palm Jumeirah, designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group. It will comprise nine floors, with 88 units, ranging from two to six bedrooms, as well as duplexes. Northacre, the real estate development arm of Shuaa Capital, is already involved in projects, totalling US$ 3.6 billion, including The Broadway, a US$ 1.5 billion residential and mixed-use development in central London. Meanwhile, Ellington has two developments on The Palm – the 123-unit Ellington Beach House and The Ellington Collection, comprising nine beachfront villas. A recent Knight Frank report indicated that prime residential values in The Palm Jumeirah have risen 89% over the course of the past twelve months.
Savills has ranked Dubai as the world leader for branded residences, with the property consultancy indicating that the global sector has expanded 150% over the past decade. There are currently 640 schemes, (expected to top 1.1k by 2027), with Dubai, with more than forty completed branded residences, (set to take that number beyond seventy), running ahead of South Florida and New York City in terms of hotspots for completed and current pipeline. Last August, the Jumeirah Group unveiled its fourth branded residence in the emirate, as part of the area’s new Peninsula waterfront development. The Atlantis The Royal Residence is finally set to open next year, along with a 795-room hotel, and this month, the Mag of Life Mansions, each valued at US$ 48 million, at the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Creekside, was launched.
The national day holiday will start on Thursday, 01 December, with employees returning to work the following Monday, 05 December; the four-day weekend celebrates Commemoration Day and the UAE’s 51st National Day. Commemoration Day, formerly known as Martyr’s Day, that officially falls on 30 November, remembers those who have lost their lives in the line of service. National Day marks the day that six emirates bound together to form the UAE, with Ras Al Khaimah joining as the seventh and final emirate the following year.
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid met various local dignitaries, heads of Dubai government entities and businessmen at his Majlis at Zabeel Palace. Two of his sons, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Dubai’s Crown Prince, and Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed were also in attendance. Discussions involved initiatives and efforts to further improve government services and enhance the business-friendly legislative framework, with the Dubai Ruler commenting that development is a continuous process, aimed at achieving the nation’s goals and aspirations. He also emphasised the importance of partnerships between the public and private sectors to help realise the vision of the UAE, as well as that of Dubai, and accelerate the country’s development. Sheikh Mohammed expressed his appreciation for the efforts undertaken by various stakeholders to accelerate the UAE’s development journey and meet the needs of the community.
Following a meeting with high-achieving learners this week, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Dubai’s Crown Prince, pledged that the emirate would support the academic aspirations of the best and brightest high school pupils; he also commented that the Dubai government will provide financial awards and scholarships to prestigious universities for top performers, and that the Dubai Ruler’s “vision focuses on recognising and rewarding talent”. Many of the leading students are in line to receive ten-year golden visas, as it was announced by 151.7k have already been issued by Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. Launched in 2019, it was awarded to exceptional workers and foreign investors to give them the opportunity to establish deeper roots in the country and allow the nation to benefit from their expertise.
This week, Sheikh Hasher bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, Director-General of Dubai Department of Information, opened the 11th edition of Paperworld Middle East and the co-located Gifts & Lifestyle Middle East. The three-day event closed yesterday, Thursday 17 November and had hosted 316 exhibitors from more than forty countries, a 68% increase on last year’s event; there were also nine country pavilions from Germany, Turkey, China, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Russia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and the UK.
Emirates SkyCargo expects to add seven more Boeing 777F freighters over the next two years, to bring its fleet to eighteen, indicating the airline’s confidence in the market; it is also looking at the feasibility of expanding its facilities at Dubai World Central airport to accommodate an anticipated rise in exports and imports, as it has already reinstated its cargo hub at DWC for dedicated freighter aircraft operations. The facilities encompass 60k sq mt and has the capacity to handle one million tonnes a year. In H1, Emirates SkyCargo witnessed growth in demand, particularly for pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, foodstuffs and manufacturing-related goods, with more of the same expected in H2, ending 31 March 2023; the facility is still seeing growth in both revenue and yield at a double-digit increase over pre-pandemic levels, and expects to carry two million tonnes of cargo by the end of the financial year on 31 March. Based on current demand, Emirates SkyCargo expects cargo rates to “stabilise” and even “decline slightly” going forward, but despite this, they remain up to 60% higher than their pre-pandemic levels.
As from this Sunday, 20 November, until 19 December, Flydubai and Qatar Airways will operate up to 120 daily World Cup football shuttle flights in and out of Dubai World Centre. This influx of fans will see passenger demand at DWC “triple” over the coming weeks. The number of passengers through DWC is forecast to exceed 494k in Q4. Latest analysis indicates that bookings to Qatar, from the thirty-one competing countries, and from the UAE, where many fans are basing themselves during the tournament, are currently ten times the volume of pre-pandemic levels. With Dubai’s hospitality benefitting from the lack of available accommodation in the host nation, many fans are using the emirate as a base, and flying over just for match days. 85% of all “day trips” to Qatar, during this period, will emanate from the UAE, and it is estimated that Dubai will capture 65% of all fans travelling to other destinations, after their stay in Qatar.
In the first nine months of the year, Dubai hosted 10.12 million overnight visitors, equating to 85% of its comparative pre-pandemic level, when it welcomed 12.08 million. Last week, the UAE announced a national tourism strategy, targeted to forty million hotel guests, raising US$ 27.2 million in additional tourism investment and increasing the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP to US$ 122.6 billion by 2031.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has referred an unnamed private company to the public prosecutor after claims that it wrongly deducted money from the salaries of Emirati staff intended to support their training under the government’s Nafis. This employment programme, set up to support the government’s push to ensure citizens make up 10% of the private sector by 2026, which included a monthly stipend of US$ 1.4k for up to five years for Emirati university graduates, as well as a one-year salary support of up to US$ 2.2k a month for skilled Emiratis undergoing training. Following a complaint by an Emirati female employee, investigations were carried out showing that the woman, and other workers, were instructed to pay monthly contributions to their employer, which were taken out of the additional payments they were due to receive for a period of twelve months. Even though the firm indicated that the deducted money was being used to support humanitarian initiatives, the Ministry argued that “such practices are considered a violation of the requirements explained to establishments before they are licensed by the Nafis programme to train Emiratis,” and noted that companies face US$ 27.2k fines for forging hiring documents to hit a new quota for Emiratis working in the private sector. Many firms will not realise that, by 01 January 2023, companies with more than fifty employees must ensure 2% of their staff are Emirati, with failure to adhere to the target must pay US$ 1.6k a month for every position short of the quota.
At the beginning of this year, the Ministry of Finance announced the introduction of Corporate Tax, set at a standard 9%, and to commence on or after 01 June 2023. One of the main aims of this new federal tax is to strengthen the UAE’s position as a world-leading hub for investments and businesses. Some of its main details of the tax include:
- levied on income of over US$ 102k (AED 375k)
- starting from the financial year 01 July 2023 so that most businesses with a financial year ending 31 December will start from the year ending 31 December 2024
- a rate of 9% which will vary for big multinational companies that meet certain specific criteria
- it will be the FTA’s responsibility to administer, collect, and enforce CT administration in the UAE
- the MoF will remain the competent authority for international tax agreement purposes, and treaties
The FTA has announced that it will launch the EmaraTax online platform on 05 December, with the migration to the new system commencing on 30 November. The aims of the new platform include improving taxpayer’s access, payment of taxes and obtaining refunds, as well as increasing the authority’s ability to administer taxes; it will also enable better, faster decision-making and earlier engagement with taxpayers that need support. Its introduction will align the FTA, with the UAE Digital Government Strategy 2025, to leverage emerging technologies and build a solid digital infrastructure that serves the people and business community.
There has been a major amendment in VAT, effective from 01 January 2023 – director services undertaken by natural persons serving as members of boards at entities and institutions across the UAE will not be subject to VAT; however, VAT is still applicable to director services for legal persons serving as board members that delegate a natural person to act in the name of the legal persons as a member of the board of directors.
Dubai-based fintech firm baraka has raised US$ 20 million, on its latest funding round, led by New York-based Valar Ventures, backed by billionaire venture capitalist, Peter Thiel, with investment firm Knollwood also investing. Money raised will help baraka expand its presence in the GCC, Egypt and the wider MENA region, as well as enhancing customer acquisition. The firm allows users to have “commission-free” investing in US stocks and exchange-traded funds, with its founder, Feras Jalbout, noting that “in just one year since our launch, tens of thousands of users have signed up to baraka.” It will also work with local stock exchanges to allow local trading on its app, as they have seen the recent regional IPO boom.
Zomato has announced that, as from 24 November, its Zomato UAE app will cease to function, and that people will no longer be able to order food; it added that they have “renewed (their) focus on restaurant discovery and dining out”, especially with “new features like Vibe check and additional offers via Zomato Pay”. Customers will be able to continue to order using the Talabat app.
Emaar Properties posted a 46.0% hike in Q3 net profit to US$ 409 million, attributable to new project launches and strong demand, whilst revenue in the period fell 21.0% to US$ 1.45 billion. EBITDA was 12.0% higher at US$ 627 million, as its international real estate operations recorded property sales of US$ 1.0 billion, (that contributed US$ 872 million to revenue), in the first nine months of 2022, led by successful operations in Egypt and India, with its cumulative revenue 1.2% lower at US$ 5.15 billion. However, its net profit came in 47.0% higher to US$ 1.58 billion, with EBITDA up 47.0% at US$ 2.29 billion. The nine months saw Emaar recording the highest group property sales of US$ 7.33 billion, along with a property sales backlog topping US$ 14.14 billion that will be recognised as revenue in the coming years.
Emaar Development, the UAE build-to-sell property development business, majority-owned by Emaar Properties, reported revenue of US$ 2.53 billion in the nine-month period, with both Emaar Malls, and its hospitality, leisure, entertainment and commercial leasing businesses, 24% up at US$ 1.09 billion and 78% higher at US$ 654 million. Its UAE hotels achieved strong ADRs (average daily rates) with average 67% occupancy levels.
Taaleem Holdings’ IPO raised US$ 204 million, (AED 750 million), equating to 25% of its paid-up capital, with 250 million shares available at US$ 0.817. The company, with twenty-six schools in its portfolio, is one of the largest K-12 premium education providers in the country. The issue was eighteen times oversubscribed, and as this offering is a primary offering, the net proceeds of the Offering will go to the company upon settlement, with the money raised being used to expand its K-12 premium education network. Based on the Final Offer Price, its market cap is expected to be in the region US$ 817 million, (AED3.0 billion).
On Tuesday, DFM’s latest entrant, Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation (Empower), started its first day of trading – the Dubai bourse’s fourth public offering and listing this year. One of those four, TECOM announced that shareholders have approved the proposed US$ 54 million (AED 200 million), in line with the Group’s previously announced dividend policy of distributing US$ 218 million, (AED 800 million) annually, to be distributed in semi-annual payments, to shareholders through to October 2025. In the first nine months of the year, TECOM had posted a 51% increase in profit, to US$ 174 million, on the year, driven by double-digit growth in revenue because of high occupancy levels, with lower operational expenses and reduced financial costs.
In the first nine months of 2022, Amanat Holdings posted a 6.3% hike in net profit to US$ 17 million, with adjusted total income 17.1% higher at US$ 29 million and adjusted EBITDA up 19.3% to US$ 30 million. Over the period, the company acquired HDC – and entry into the special education needs and care market in Saudi Arabia – along with the acquisition of LIWA by NEMA Holding. Amanat’s healthcare platform income grew 39.1% to over US$ 12 million.
The DFM opened on Monday, 14 November, 78 points (4.1%) higher on the previous five weeks, lost 55 points (1.6%). to close on 3,352 by Friday 18 November. Emaar Properties, US$ 0.08 higher the previous week, shed US$ 0.06 to close the week on US$ 1.68. DEWA, Emirates NBD, DIB and DFM started the previous week on US$ 0.67, US$ 3.61, US$ 1.62, and US$ 0.43 and closed on US$ 0.65, US$ 3.58, US$ 1.59 and US$ 0.43. On 18 November, trading was at 185 million shares, with a value of US$ 61 million, compared to 132 million shares, with a value of US$ 98 million, on 11 November 2022.
By Friday, 18 November 2022, Brent, US$ 2.65 (2.7%) lower the previous week, was down US$ 8.37 (8.7%) to close on US$ 87.62. Gold, US$ 126 (7.6%) higher the previous fortnight, shed US$ 22 (1.2%), to close on 1,752, Friday 18 November.
Owing to an economic slowdown in China, a strong greenback and Europe’s energy crisis, the International Energy Agency lowered its 2023 global oil demand growth estimate by 1.6 million bpd, 0.1 million bpd lower than its previous forecast. With Opec+ cutting production by two million bpd, and an EU ban on Russian energy supplies, the IEA estimates that this will reduce oil supply by one million bpd for the rest of 2022. Meanwhile, global demand for diesel and gas oil is estimated to fall to 400k bpd in 2022, from 1.5 million bpd last year. In September, global crude oil stocks fell by 14.2 million barrels, with OECD oil stocks dropping by 45.5 million barrels.
Six airlines have been fined a combined US$ 7.3 million – and have agreed to issue US$ 622 million in passenger refunds – by the US Transportation Department who seem to have tightened up their consumer enforcement procedures. Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, commented that “it shouldn’t take enforcement action from (USDOT) to get airlines to pay the funds that they’re required to pay,” with many of the refunds involving flights delayed or cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many travellers have had to wait months, or even years, for refunds. The six airlines involved were ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines ULCC.O, (who was required to pay US$ 222 million in refunds and will pay a $2.2 million penalty), Tata Group-owned Air India (US$ 121 million / US$ 1.4 million), Colombia’s Avianca (US$ 77 million / US$ 750k), El Al Israel Airlines (US$ 62 million / US$ 900k) and Mexico’s Aeromexico, (US$ 14 million / US$900k).
This week, and following a review, the UK government has finally advised Newport Wafer Fab that its Chinese owners must sell 86% of its stake “to mitigate the risk to national security”. In July 2021, the firm, the UK’s largest microchip plant, was acquired by Dutch-based technology company Nexperia, a subsidiary of Shanghai listed Wingtech. The ruling was based on two factors – Nexperia’s development of the Newport site, which could “undermine UK capabilities” in producing compound semiconductors, and its location as part of a semiconductor cluster on the Duffryn industrial estate, could “facilitate access to technological expertise and know-how”. The firm employs more than 1.5k workers in Newport and Manchester and would be a major player in the sector that could prove a boon for the UK economy.
Last week, Toucan Energy Holdings 1 entered into administration owing the Thurrock Council US$ 755 million; the Tory-run council helped the renewable energy company finance fifty-three of the company’s solar farms in the UK and had racked up debts totalling US$ 1.78 billion; it is reported that these solar parks, with a combined capacity of 513 MW, “continue to operate as normal”. The debt-ridden council has also entered administration, with its leader noting that it was a “significant step to reducing our overall debt”, and that the appointment was a “positive move forward”. Earlier in the year, the then Johnson administration appointed Essex County Council to step in and act as a commissioner for Thurrock because of the “serious financial situation”.
It is reported that Frasers Group is in advanced discussions to acquire the 251-year old Savile Road tailor, Gieves & Hawkes, which has faced uncertainty ever since its Hong Kong-based owner collapsed into liquidation in 2021. Frasers, owned by Sports Direct, used to be run by retail billionaire, Mike Ashley, but he has recently stepped down from the Board, handing the role over to his son-in-law, Michael Murray. No further details were readily available. In recent times, the ex-Newcastle FC owner has taken over several troubled brands and retailers, including the collapsed fashion outlets of Missguided in June, as well as Game, Evans Cycles, Jack Wills and Sofa.com in similar deals.
A week after furniture retailer Made.com fell into administration, clothing group Joules has become the latest to become another victim of the tough times hitting the retail sector. It also runs the online-only Garden Trading Company. The Leicestershire-based company, which has 132 shops, had failed in negotiations with several potential investors, including Next, is looking at buying Made’s brand name, website and intellectual property. Its founder, Tom Joule, admitted that “we recognise our business has become too complex and our model today is not aligned to succeed in the current, tough trading environment.” It put disappointing quarterly results down to “the challenging UK economic environment which has negatively impacted consumer confidence and disposable income”. When the company listed its shares on London’s junior stock exchange market, Aim, in 2016, it was valued at US$ 165 million, but with its shares tanking 95% YTD sees its current value at just US$ 12 million.
Having come under serious pressure from regulators to treat its 15k riders as employees, and from a serious increase in competition, UK-based food delivery app Deliveroo has confirmed it is quitting Australia. The seven-year old entity is being placed into voluntary administration and has stopped accepting orders via its app. Just like its three main rivals ‘down under’, Uber Eats, Doordash and Menulog, it has been fighting against the new Albanese government which is on record saying that it would work to improve the rights of workers in the gig sector, calling such work a “cancer” on the economy, with accusations that it drives down the wages of a million workers. Business went gung-ho during the pandemic but has seen a slowdown, as consumer spending has been hit with surging inflation, along with regulations being tightened. The company has pledged “guaranteed enhanced severance payments for employees, as well as compensation for riders and for certain restaurant partners.” Last month, Deliveroo also announced that it has planned to quit the Netherlands market at the end of November; it exited the German market in 2019 and Spain earlier in 2022. Its London-listed share value has halved since the start of the year. There is no doubt that the country’s food delivery sector is heading towards a monopoly, and this could have a negative impact on its many stakeholders, including hospitality venues, gig economy workers, and consumers.
At the initial chapter 11 bankruptcy hearing into the fall of the FTX crypto empire, John J Ray III told the court that “never in my (forty-year) career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here”, adding that most of the group’s accounts were unaudited and some subsidiaries did not have financial accounts at all; he also advised the court that a “substantial portion” of the estate’s property may be missing or stolen. FTX – established, in May 2019, by tech wunderkind Sam Bankman-Fried and his partners Zixiao “Gary” Wang and Nishad Singh – had claimed that, in 2021, the firm had “millions” of registered users and was responsible for around US$ 15 billion of assets on the platform, equating to 10% of global volume for crypto trading. Mr Ray commented that “these figures have not been verified by my team”.
The ECB President Christine Lagarde has reiterated that she believes singling out raising interest rates, over balance sheet reduction, is the best way forward to restrict economic activity to tame inflation. Over the past five months, the central bank has lifted rates by an unprecedented 200 basis points to tackle inflation and said that more policy tightening is coming via rate hikes, and the reduction of its US$ 5.2 trillion euro debt holding. She again reiterated that “we expect to raise rates further – and withdrawing accommodation may not be enough,” and that “interest rates are, and will remain, the main tool for adjusting our policy stance.” It seems likely that rates will head further north by 50bp next month and whether this is sufficient to see inflation, now running at 10.5%, fall to anything near to the bank’s 2.0% target, remains problematic. What is certain is that the bloc will be in recession as early as Q1 2023 and that it will have to start reducing its balance sheet by quantitative easing and letting some of its bonds expire. Otherwise, the bloc could enter a period of entrenched inflation and all the economic troubles that would entail.
It has been an eventful three weeks since Elon Musk moved into his Twitter office after his US$ 44 billion acquisition in March. This week, he was in a Delaware court, defending himself against claims that his US$ 56 billion pay package at Tesla was based on easy to achieve performance targets and that it was approved by a compliant board of directors. There are several Tesla investors not happy to see its founder apparently spending most of his time with his new acquisition, with Musk indicating that “there’s an initial burst of activity needed post-acquisition to reorganise the company, but then I expect to reduce my time at Twitter.” In the last fortnight, he has sent Twitter’s previous chief executive and other senior leaders packing, as well as laying off half of Twitter’s staff, and this week he said that he hoped to complete an organisational restructuring and also to find a new leader. On Wednesday, he sent an email to the remaining Twitter employees giving them twenty-four hours to decide whether they wanted to stay on at the company to work “long hours at high intensity” or take a severance package of three months’ pay.
Following this edict, hundreds of Twitter employees are estimated to be quitting the beleaguered social media company. It is clear that many more staff members are considering “jumping ship” from a company that the new owner seems overkeen to rid it of half of its payroll, as well as ruthlessly changing the culture to emphasise long hours and work at an intensive pace. Yesterday, Musk twittered that he was not worried about resignations as “the best people are staying,” even though the departures include many engineers responsible for fixing bugs and preventing service outages. Yesterday, 17 November, Twitter told employees that the company’s office buildings will be temporarily closed, with immediate effect, and would reopen next Monday. Despite all the shenanigans going on at Twitter, Elon Musk could still see the funny side of the drama that could soon turn into an economic tragedy – “How do you make a small fortune in social media?” – “Start out with a large one.”
Google will pay $392 million to settle allegations about how it collects data from users, after forty US states, claiming that it had tracked the location of users who opted out of location services on their devices, took the tech giant to various courts. Having settled the largest privacy-related multi-state settlement in US legal history, it has been told to be transparent about location tracking in the future and develop a web page telling people about the data it collects. Earlier in the year, Texas, Indiana, Washington and the District of Columbia had already taken legal action against Google in January, whilst in October, Google agreed to pay Arizona US$ 85 million over similar issues. It has been proven that Google had been misleading consumers about location tracking since at least 2014, and knowing that information, helps advertisers target products, with this seeing Google generating US$ 200 billion in annual advertising revenue. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson was correct, noting that “for years Google has prioritised profit over its users’ privacy. It has been crafty and deceptive”.
As widely expected, Amazon has announced that it is cutting its payroll by almost 3%, equating to 10k jobs, and joins other tech giants shedding jobs across the sector, as revenue streams begin to dry up as the global economy slows. (Last week Meta – which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – announced that it would cut 13% of its workforce, whilst the likes of Microsoft, payment processing platform Stripe and cloud-based business software firm Salesforce have also announced layoffs). Amazon had already introduced a hiring freeze, having recognised that it had over-hired during the pandemic, as well as cutting some of its warehouse expansions. Its founder, Jeff Bezos, has recently warned that the US economy was slowing and that it was time to “batten down the hatches”. YTD, Amazon’s share price has fallen by more than 40%, as it grapples with a slowdown in online sales.
This week, the Amazon founder awarded a US$ 100 million prize, the Bezos Courage & Civility Award, to country star and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. In giving the award, his partner, Lauren Sanchez, noted that the singer-songwriter was “a woman who gives with her heart and leads with love and compassion in every aspect of her work”. Her Dollywood Foundation has been a high-profile supporter of charities, including giving books to children around the world, and has supported Moderna with a US$ 1 million donation for coronavirus to the Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.
Jeff Bezos has also confirmed that he plans to give away most of his US$ 124 billion fortune, during his lifetime, mainly to fighting climate change and reducing inequality. He follows the paths of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott who had already pledged to give their fortunes away. The Amazon founder, who previously pledged US$ 10 billion to the Bezos Earth Fund, which he launched in 2020 to help fight climate change, also owns the Washington Post and space tourism company Blue Origin.
There was a little good news for the EU this week with its Q3 seasonally adjusted GDP nudging 0.2% higher in both blocs – euro area and in the EU – compared with the previous quarter, according to a flash estimate published by Eurostat;; in Q2, GDP had grown by 0.8% in the euro area and by 0.7% in the EU. When it comes to employment data, there was a Q3 0.2% increase in the number of employed persons in both sectors, compared to a 0.4% growth in both the euro area and EU in Q2. On the year, the increases were at 1.7% and 1.5% respectively.
The latest EC economic forecast notes that the eurozone and most EU countries will be in an economic recession, (for at least two quarters), before the end of the year, as its economic situation has deteriorated markedly. It also revised upward trends in its inflation forecast, indicating it would peak by 31 December and average 9.3% in the EU and 8.5% in the eurozone for the year, whilst remaining high well into the new year. The forecasts for the next two years see inflation in the eurozone and the EU at 6.1% /7.0% and 2.6%/3.0% in 2024. The forecast included the caveats that geopolitical tensions, such as the war in Ukraine, would neither normalise nor escalate and that sanctions against Russia would remain in place. Average inflation was highest in the Baltics, where it was forecast to be 19.3% in Estonia, 18.9% in Lithuania, and 16.9% in Latvia. EU unemployment rates are expected to nudge higher from 2022’s level of 6.2% to 6.5% and then 6.4% in 2024, with current employment growth of 1.8%, sliding to zero next year. However, there is no doubt that, despite all the negative economic data around, the bloc’s labour market remains strong.
Like other members of G20, Japan has been badly impacted by the rising cost of living which has markedly reduced consumer spending growth. Consequently, Q3 GDP fell an annualised 1.3%, but it seems that the country may well bounce back in Q4. The world’s third biggest economy is expected to recover, driven by a rebound in tourism and a much-improved trade balance. However, because of the variances in interest rates between the Bank of Japan, (keeping its key rate below zero) and the Fed, (in contrast, aggressively raising rates), the value of the yen, to the greenback, hit new thirty-two-year lows last month – making exports cheaper but imports more expensive.
Although September UK wages rose at their fastest rate in more than two decades, at 5.7%, they are still 2.7% lower because of the soaring cost of living, rising at its fastest rate in almost forty years, largely due to the ongoing Ukraine war. Although nudging 0.1% higher to 3.6% in the September quarter, this is still near a fifty-year low; however, the BoE has issued a warning that because of the upcoming recession in the country, this could climb to 7.0% by 2025.
The UK overall inflation rate jumped 1.0% on the month to 11.1% in October, which was the highest rate in forty-one years, as food prices rose at their fastest rate in forty-five years, coming in at 16.2% last month – 1.7% up on the month. Energy and fuel costs rose in tandem, with the surging cost of living impacting household budgets, leaving many people facing hardship, especially in the poorer households, who tend to spend 50% of their income on food and energy, compared to about 33% for those on middle incomes. Although the Office for National Statistics noted a spike in food prices last month, with milk, pasta, margarine, eggs and cereals all going up, gas and electricity prices remained the main drivers of inflation after bills climbed again last month – with gas and electricity prices a staggering 130% and 66% up, compared to October 2021. Most households did benefit from the government’s Energy Price Guarantee scheme which limits the average household bill to around US$ 3k (GBP 2.5k) a year. There are signs that the inflation level could slowly start to move downwards from this month, but don’t bet your house on it.
Since records began in 2003, the London Stock Exchange had always been the most valued bourse in Europe but has now lost this position to the French stock market. It is now worth US$ 2.823 trillion – US$ 0.002 trillion more than its London rival; six years ago, the gap was around US$ 1.4 trillion in London’s favour. Three main factors in this change seem to be a weak pound, fears of recession in the UK and surging sales of French luxury goods makers. On top of that is that the UK’s medium sized companies have been doing particularly badly this year, as consumers cut back on their spending and businesses struggle with higher costs; the FTSE 250 share index has shed 17% in value over the past twelve months. Since the Brexit referendum, in June 2016, Paris’s CAC-40 index is up 47% and London’s FTSE 100 by just 16%, and it was only a matter of time before London lost its crown. If the economy continues to be run by inexperienced politicians and bloated bankers, human capital, investments and industries will also be joining the be bandwagon Leaving London!