Category : Economy

Church Commissioners appoint planning specialist Jennifer Longstaff to aid affordable housing delivery

Longstaff will help drive forward the Church Commissioners’ ambitions for affordable housing delivery, particularly in rural areas, across the Church Commissioners’ land portfolio.

The Commissioners’ real asset portfolio includes significant landholdings, which have a critical role to play in supporting rural communities and maintaining their vibrancy across the country, including through the delivery of new housing.

A chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute, Longstaff has nearly 15 years’ experience working for Savills undertaking project development and securing planning permissions to support new developments, including rural housing.

At Savills, she managed several smaller development sites, as well as successful larger housing and mixed-use projects across the North of England. She also worked closely with the Church Commissioners’ teams as a development consultant on their rural housing projects across England, with great success.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Housing/Real Estate Market, Religion & Culture

(The Verge) Amazon shows off Alexa feature that mimics the voices of your dead relatives

Amazon has revealed an experimental Alexa feature that allows the AI assistant to mimic the voices of users’ dead relatives.

The company demoed the feature at its annual MARS conference, showing a video in which a child asks Alexa to read a bedtime story in the voice of his dead grandmother.

“As you saw in this experience, instead of Alexa’s voice reading the book, it’s the kid’s grandma’s voice,” said Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s head scientist for Alexa AI. Prasad introduced the clip by saying that adding “human attributes” to AI systems was increasingly important “in these times of the ongoing pandemic, when so many of us have lost someone we love.”

“While AI can’t eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last,” said Prasad.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Science & Technology

(Economist) How to fix the world’s energy emergency without wrecking the environment

Energy shocks can become political catastrophes. Perhaps a third of the rich world’s inflation of 8% is explained by soaring fuel and power costs. Households struggling to pay bills are angry, leading to policies aimed at insulating them and boosting fossil-fuel production, however dirty.

Mr Biden, who came to power promising a green revolution, plans to suspend petrol taxes and visit Saudi Arabia to ask it to pump more oil. Europe has emergency windfall levies, subsidies, price caps and more. In Germany, as air-conditioners whine, coal-fired power plants are being taken out of mothballs. Chinese and Indian state-run mining firms that the climate-conscious hoped were on a fast track to extinction are digging up record amounts of coal.

This improvised chaos is understandable but potentially disastrous, because it could stall the clean-energy transition. Public handouts and tax-breaks for fossil fuels will be hard to withdraw. Dirty new power plants and oil- and gasfields with 30- to 40-year lifespans would give their owners more reason to resist fossil-fuel phase-outs. That is why, even as they firefight, governments must focus on tackling the fundamental problems confronting the energy industry.

One priority is finding a way to ramp up fossil-fuel projects, especially relatively clean natural gas, that have an artificially truncated lifespan of 15-20 years so as to align them with the goal of dramatically cutting emissions by 2050.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(Telegraph) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard–The US recession is here, and central banks are still fighting the last war

The US is either in recession already, or probably will be by early autumn. This has sweeping consequences for the world’s dollarised financial system, for commodity demand, and for global inflation.

The New York Federal Reserve’s internal model is flashing an 80pc risk that the US economy will enter a sustained contraction in the second half of this year, much sooner than presumed just weeks ago. The chances of a “soft landing” have dropped to 10pc. If so, you can stop worrying about an inflationary spiral.

The institution’s “dynamic stochastic general equilibrium” model (DSGE) points to an outright fall in GDP of 0.6pc this year and a further fall of 0.5pc next year. It likens the current picture to the 1990 recession under George Bush senior, triggered by the First Gulf War.

Monetarists think the DSGE model understates the danger since it entirely ignores the role of money in the economy. It treats the abrupt switch from extreme quantitative easing to extreme quantitative tightening – a $2.4 trillion reversal, annualised – as mostly background noise. This New Keynesian blind spot on how QE works (through the banking multiplier) has misled the Fed before, and may be misleading the Fed now.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, Federal Reserve

(I E) A new plant-based material can replace plastic food packaging for keeps

Interestingly, they observed a decline in the populations of these pathogens after the introduction of APFs. The researchers further deposited the antimicrobial fibers on avocados. They noticed that the APF coating prevented the growth of pathogens on the fruit and protected the same from spoilage and damage. Thus increasing the shelf life of avocados by about 50 percent.

Whereas plastic packets often release harmful chemicals into our food and take more than 400 years to biodegrade, the APF coating is a naturally derived biodegradable and non-toxic biopolymer that does not impact the quality of the edible it covers (a previous study also highlights that humans can digest pullulan). Moreover, according to the researchers, it can be easily washed off from a food item using water and takes only three days to completely decompose in the soil.

Excited with these results, Demokritou wrote, “What we have come up with is a scalable technology, which enables us to turn biopolymers, which can be derived as part of a circular economy from food waste, into smart fibers that can wrap food directly. This is part of the new generation, ‘smart’ and ‘green’ food packaging.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ecology, Economy, Science & Technology

(NYT) How a Religious Sect That Dominated a Company Unit Landed Google in a Lawsuit

Founded in 1970 by Robert Earl Burton, a former San Francisco Bay Area schoolteacher, the Fellowship of Friends describes itself as an organization “available to anyone interested in pursuing the spiritual work of awakening.” It claims 1,500 members across the globe, with about 500 to 600 in and around its compound in Oregon House. Members are typically required to give 10 percent of their monthly earnings to the organization.

Mr. Burton based his teachings on the Fourth Way, a philosophy developed in the early 20th century by a Greek Armenian philosopher and one of his students. They believed that while most people moved through life in a state of “waking sleep,” a higher consciousness was possible. Drawing on what he described as visits from angelic incarnations of historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci, Johann Sebastian Bach and Walt Whitman, Mr. Burton taught that true consciousness could be achieved by embracing the fine arts.

Inside the organization’s Northern California compound, called Apollo, the Fellowship staged operas, plays and ballets; ran a critically acclaimed winery; and collected art from across the world, including more than $11 million in Chinese antiques.

“They believe that to achieve enlightenment you should surround yourself with so-called higher impressions — what Robert Burton believed to be the finest things in life,” said Jennings Brown, a journalist who recently produced a podcast about the Fellowship called “Revelations.” Mr. Burton described Apollo as the seed of a new civilization that would emerge after a global apocalypse.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(NYT front page) Ravaging the Congo Basin’s Essential Rainforest, Raft by Raft

The mighty Congo River has become a highway for sprawling flotillas of logs — African teak, wenge and bomanga in colors of licorice, candy bars and carrot sticks. For months at a time, crews in the Democratic Republic of Congo live aboard these perilous rafts, piloting the timber in pursuit of a sliver of profit from the dismantling of a crucial forest.

The biggest rafts are industrial-scale, serving mostly international companies that see riches in the rainforest. But puny versions also make their way downriver, tended by men and their families who work and sleep atop the floating logs.

Forests like these pull huge amounts of carbon dioxide out of the air, making them essential to slow global warming. The expanded scale of illegal logging imperils their role in protecting humanity’s future.

The Congo Basin rainforest, second in size only to the Amazon, is becoming increasingly vital as a defense against climate change as the Amazon is felled. However, the Democratic Republic of Congo for several years in a row has been losing more old-growth rainforest, research shows, than any country except for Brazil.

In this lawless trade, the river is the artery to the world. In some places, where once-towering trees are prepared for the journey, the water itself is stained caramel from the bleeding sap of felled trees.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Africa, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Republic of Congo

(Bloomberg Top) US Faces a Fed-Triggered Recession That May Cost Biden a Second Term

Soaring prices are hurting Americans. The cure is going to hurt, too. It may take a recession to stamp out inflation — and it’s likely to happen on President Joe Biden’s watch.

A downturn by the start of 2024, barely even on the radar just a few months ago, is now close to a three-in-four probability, according to the latest estimates by Bloomberg Economics.

On Wednesday the Fed delivered its biggest interest-rate hike in almost three decades, as it takes the fight against inflation into overdrive. When central bankers try this hard to slow the economy down, they often end up tipping it into outright reverse.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, Federal Reserve

(NYT Op-ed) [Former Fed Chair] Ben Bernanke–Inflation Isn’t Going to Bring Back the 1970s

None of this implies that the Fed’s job will be easy. The degree to which the central bank will have to tighten monetary policy to control our currently high inflation, and the associated risk of an economic slowdown or recession, depends on several factors: how quickly the supply-side problems (high oil prices, supply-chain snarls) subside, how aggregate spending reacts to the tighter financial conditions engineered by the Fed and whether the Fed retains its credibility as an inflation fighter even if inflation takes a while to subside.

Of these, history teaches us, the last may be the most important. Inflation will not become self-perpetuating, with price increases leading to wage increases leading to price increases, if people are confident that the Fed will take the necessary measures to bring inflation down over time.

The Fed’s greater policy independence, its willingness to take responsibility for inflation and its record of keeping inflation low for nearly four decades after the Great Inflation, make today’s Fed much more credible on inflation than its counterpart in the ’60s and ’70s. The Fed’s credibility will help ensure that the Great Inflation will not be repeated, and Mr. Powell and his colleagues will put a high priority on keeping that credibility intact.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, Federal Reserve, History

(FT top) US set for recession next year, economists predict

The US economy will tip into a recession next year, according to nearly 70 per cent of leading academic economists polled by the Financial Times.

The latest survey, conducted in partnership with the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, suggests mounting headwinds for the world’s largest economy after one of the most rapid rebounds in history, as the Federal Reserve ramps up efforts to contain the highest inflation in about 40 years.

The US central bank has already embarked on what will be one of the fastest tightening cycles in decades. Since March it has raised its benchmark policy rate by 0.75 percentage points from near-zero levels.

The Federal Open Market Committee gathers once again on Tuesday for a two-day policy meeting, at which officials are expected to implement the first back-to-back half-point rate rise since 1994 and signal the continuation of that pace until at least September.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Federal Reserve

(W Post) Beijing chafes at Moscow’s requests for support, Chinese officials say

Russian officials have raised increasingly frustrated requests for greater support during discussions with Beijing in recent weeks, calling on China to live up to its affirmation of a “no limits” partnership made weeks before the war in Ukraine began. But China’s leadership wants to expand assistance for Russia without running afoul of Western sanctions and has set limits on what it will do, according to Chinese and U.S. officials.

Moscow has on at least two occasions pressed Beijing to offer new forms of economic support — exchanges that one Chinese official described as “tense.” The officials familiar with the talks spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.

They declined to share specifics of Russia’s requests, but one official said it included maintaining “trade commitments” predating the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, and financial and technological support now sanctioned by the United States and other countries.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, China, Economy, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(W Post) U.S. intelligence document shows Russian naval blockade of Ukraine

Newly declassified U.S. intelligence shows that a Russian naval blockade has halted maritime trade at Ukrainian ports, in what world leaders call a deliberate attack on the global food supply chain that has raised fears of political instability and shortages unless grain and other essential agricultural products are allowed to flow freely from Ukraine.

Russia’s navy now effectively controls all traffic in the northern third of the Black Sea, making it unsafe for commercial shipping, according to a U.S. government document obtained by The Washington Post.

The document, based on recently declassified intelligence, analyzed the density of Russian naval activity along portions of Ukraine’s southern coast and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia occupied and annexed in 2014. The blockade that ensued following Russia’s invasion in February halted civil maritime traffic, “entrapping Ukrainian agricultural exports and jeopardizing global food supplies,” according to a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the intelligence.

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Economist) The recipe for the outperformance of Swiss businesses

This approach makes for light regulation from the top. The Federal Council, the federal government’s executive branch, does without recognisable figureheads. The cabinet has seven members who have equal power and each of whom spends a year as president, ensuring that no one remembers their names for long. While the council has few powers the country’s 26 cantons have plenty, as do its more than 2,000 municipalities. Cantons run health care, welfare, education, law enforcement and fiscal policy. That allows them to compete to be attractive to businesses and their workers. Lucerne halved its corporate tax rate in 2012 to do just that. Zug has the lowest corporate tax rate at 11.9%. Only “offshore” financial centres such as Guernsey and Qatar have lower tax rates than those levied in the low-tax cantons, states a report by kpmg, an accounting firm. Compare that with France where the rate is 26.5%.

The competition doesn’t stop at light taxation. Cantons help to fund top-notch universities. Zurich’s Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (eth), one of the two federal institutes of technology, is regularly ranked among the best universities in continental Europe. Strong links between business and academia mean that graduates have the right skills. For instance, in January 2020 Nestlé, the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (epfl), another federal institute of technology, the canton of Vaud and the Swiss Hospitality Management School in Lausanne launched the “Swiss Food Nutrition Valley”, a research programme to promote innovation in sustainable food production. Logitech, a maker of software, and Cisco, a technology firm, have research centres on the epfl campus.

Yet for all its success Switzerland has become less attractive as a hub for multinationals over the past three decades. In 1990 two-thirds of America’s top 20 companies (including General Motors, Hewlett-Packard and ibm) had their European headquarters in Switzerland. In 1992 Swiss voters decided against following the Norwegian example and joining the European Economic Area with access to the eu’s single market. As a consequence some of the world’s most successful companies, such as Amazon, Alibaba and Samsung, decamped to Amsterdam, Dublin and London. Last year Switzerland missed another chance to gain smooth access to one of the world’s largest markets when it failed to convert 120 bilateral deals into an overarching treaty with the eu.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Taxes

(FT Big Read) Is the global economy heading for recession?

If Leo Tolstoy were writing about today’s business conditions, he might have noted that happy economies are all alike but every unhappy economy is unhappy in its own way.

China’s growth prospects have been hammered by strict Covid-19 lockdowns in a bid to quell its Omicron outbreak; the US Federal Reserve risks turning an American boom into bust; Europe’s households are enduring a cost of living crisis; and the situation is worse in many poorer emerging markets, where food crises and even famines beckon.

These four different but imposing problems each stalk the global economy as it recovers from the pandemic and it is not surprising the mood is darkening.

According to Robin Brooks, chief economist of the Institute of International Finance, the confluence of these shocks suggests the world economy is already in trouble. “We’re in another global recession scare now, except this time we think it’s for real,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization

(FT) The truckers who keep our world moving

Archie Norman, chair of Marks and Spencer, said this week: “Some of the descriptors, particularly of animal products, have to be written in Latin and in a certain typeface.” Every sandwich containing butter, he said, requires an EU vet certificate, which means employing 13 vets and budgeting for 30 per cent more driver time.

Six-mile queues at Dover and 18-mile lines at Calais this year were caused by post-Brexit checks, worsened by small numbers of lorries with the wrong paperwork.

We can expect more delays in September, when a new security system may require drivers to leave their vehicles for facial or body scans, and more again next year when trucks will be inspected at the new inland border at Sevington, near Ashford, Kent.

The metaphor of supply “chains” makes the process sound orderly and smooth, but from the first this journey along them was more like an adventure through a wild ecosystem in which we were a prey, dashing between safe habitats such as lorry parks and filling stations, hunted by authorities, legislation and customs rules that sought to charge, delay or stop us.

It was not that the trucks had any deficiency to bother the police or the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, which regulates haulage in Britain. It was that many drivers loathe and avoid the DVSA, and checkpoints of all kinds in all countries. 

“They’re not on your side. They’re out to get you. It’s like they want to punish you for doing your job,” Ian said. “They want to fine you and take your money.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Travel

(Bloomberg) Cracks in US Economy Start to Show as Recession Warnings Mount

The late Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson once quipped that Wall Street had predicted nine out of the last five recessions. This time, the stock market may be right.

The US economy is starting to show signs of strain under the weight of decades-high inflation and climbing interest rates — raising the risk of a downturn.

Investors are taking note, with equities nosediving this week as earnings gloom at retailers like Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. fueled the growing fears. And the trend could spell trouble for President Joe Biden, whose Democrats must defend thin Congressional majorities in November’s midterm vote.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy

(Church Times) Bishops challenge Government on cost-of-living and climate crises

Bishops in the House of Lords continued to challenge the Government’s response to the cost-of-living and climate crises this week, as debates on the Queen’s Speech of last week (News, 13 May) entered a fourth day.

On Monday, debate focused on economic development, energy, and the environment. The Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, the Rt Revd Martin Seeley, said: “The climate crisis is the multiplying factor for all the other crises we face.”

In his maiden speech, Bishop Seeley dedicated much of his time to environmental issues. “Global temperature rises will dramatically increase the global refugee crisis and food shortages, and the geopolitical impact will continue to be magnified,” he said.

“We must pursue the determined course set at COP26, where we take actions —challenging actions — now, for the sake of the long term.”

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, who is the C of E’s lead bishop on the environment, wrote of the agreement at COP26 that “progress was made . . . but not enough” (Comment, 18 November 2021).

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Economy, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Economist Cover story) The coming food catastrophe

Mr Putin must not use food as a weapon. Shortages are not the inevitable outcome of war. World leaders should see hunger as a global problem urgently requiring a global solution.

Russia and Ukraine supply 28% of globally traded wheat, 29% of the barley, 15% of the maize and 75% of the sunflower oil. Russia and Ukraine contribute about half the cereals imported by Lebanon and Tunisia; for Libya and Egypt the figure is two-thirds. Ukraine’s food exports provide the calories to feed 400m people. The war is disrupting these supplies because Ukraine has mined its waters to deter an assault, and Russia is blockading the port of Odessa.

Even before the invasion the World Food Programme had warned that 2022 would be a terrible year. China, the largest wheat producer, has said that, after rains delayed planting last year, this crop may be its worst-ever. Now, in addition to the extreme temperatures in India, the world’s second-largest producer, a lack of rain threatens to sap yields in other breadbaskets, from America’s wheat belt to the Beauce region of France. The Horn of Africa is being ravaged by its worst drought in four decades. Welcome to the era of climate change.

All this will have a grievous effect on the poor. Households in emerging economies spend 25% of their budgets on food—and in sub-Saharan Africa as much as 40%. In Egypt bread provides 30% of all calories. In many importing countries, governments cannot afford subsidies to increase the help to the poor, especially if they also import energy—another market in turmoil.

The crisis threatens to get worse.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(CNN Business) Most CEOs are bracing for a Recession

CEO confidence has tumbled to the weakest level since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Conference Board said Wednesday.

For the first time during the economic expansion, CEO confidence is now in negative territory.

Worse, business leaders are bracing for a potential downturn caused by the Federal Reserve’s quest to tame inflation.

A staggering 68% of CEOs surveyed by The Conference Board expect the Fed’s war on inflation will eventually trigger a recession. The survey, fielded between April 25 and May 9, measured responses from 133 CEOs of mostly public companies.

The good news is that just 11% of CEOs anticipate a so-called hard landing, marked by a deep recession. The rest expect a “very short, mild” recession.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Psychology

(NYT) Ben Bernanke Sees ‘Stagflation’ Ahead

….he also suggests it is possible the nation could be in for a period of “stagflation,” a word Mr. Bernanke says was invented in the 1970s.

“Even under the benign scenario, we should have a slowing economy,” he said. “And inflation’s still too high but coming down. So there should be a period in the next year or two where growth is low, unemployment is at least up a little bit and inflation is still high,” he predicted. “So you could call that stagflation.”

He is particularly aware that runaway inflation can quickly become a political issue — possibly putting the Federal Reserve in the cross-hairs of the public — in a way that even unemployment doesn’t evoke. “The difference between inflation and unemployment is that inflation affects just everybody,” he said. “Unemployment affects some people a lot, but most people don’t respond too much to unemployment because they’re not personally unemployed. Inflation has a social-wide kind of impact.”

Mr. Bernanke appears to be somewhat concerned about the credibility of the Federal Reserve in the public consciousness, especially given the aggressive approach that he took in 2008 and that Mr. Powell continued during the pandemic. “I had this fantasy conversation in my head between Jay Powell and William McChesney Martin, where I think Martin probably would have had apoplexy or something because of the different things that intervening chairs have done,” he said, referring to Mr. Martin, the chair of the Federal Reserve from 1951 to 1970.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve

(Economist) The Indian economy is being rewired. The opportunity is immense

Over the past three years India has endured more than its share of bad news and suffering. The pandemic has killed between 2.2m and 9.7m people. Lockdowns caused the economy to shrink temporarily by a quarter and triggered the largest internal migrations since partition in 1947, as city workers fled to their villages. Religious tensions have been simmering, stoked by the anti-Muslim chauvinism of the Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp), in power since 2014 under the strongman prime minister, Narendra Modi. Now a heatwave is baking the north of the country and the global oil- and food-price shock is battering the poor.

Yet as our Briefing explains, if you take a step back, a novel confluence of forces stands to transform India’s economy over the next decade, improving the lives of 1.4bn people and changing the balance of power in Asia. Technological leaps, the energy transition and geopolitical shifts are creating new opportunities—and new tools to fix intractable problems. The biggest threat to all this is India’s incendiary politics.

Since India opened up in 1991, its economy has prompted both euphoria and despair. One minute it is the next China: a rising superpower bursting with enterprising geniuses. The next it is a demographic time-bomb unable to generate hope for its young people; or a Wild West where Vodafone and other naive multinationals are fleeced. Over the past decade India has outgrown most other big countries, yet this has been overshadowed by a sense of disappointment. It has not engineered the manufacturing surge that enriched East Asia nor built enough big companies to marshal capital for development. Its fragmented markets and informal firms create few good jobs.

As the country emerges from the pandemic, however, a new pattern of growth is visible. It is unlike anything you have seen before. An indigenous tech effort is key. As the cost of technology has dropped, India has rolled out a national “tech stack”: a set of state-sponsored digital services that link ordinary Indians with an electronic identity, payments and tax systems, and bank accounts. The rapid adoption of these platforms is forcing a vast, inefficient, informal cash economy into the 21st century. It has turbocharged the world’s third-largest startup scene after America’s and China’s.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, India, Politics in General

(Washington Post front page) Oil Sales Remain Russia’s Lifeline

Despite the European Union’s drastic measures to wind down imports of Russian oil, Moscow still has plenty of buyers — and at prices steep enough to keep government revenue high and its coffers flush.

Before the war with Ukraine, Russia sold about half of its 7.85 million barrels a day of crude and refined oil to Europe. But with the war and the E.U.’s vow to abruptly end its reliance on Russian oil and gas, the Kremlin has been benefiting from high world prices while looking for new customers and reorienting its export strategy toward Asia.

The windfall shows how hard it is to punish a major oil and gas power such as Russia when so much of the world — especially developing countries — depends on fossil fuels.

Even with “severe oil production cuts” expected this year, Russia’s tax revenue “will increase significantly to more than $180 billion due to the spike in oil prices,” according to Rystad Energy, an independent research firm advising investors. The figure is 45 percent higher than in 2021.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(NYT front page) The Federal Reserve Confronts Why It May Have Acted Too Slowly on Inflation

Some Federal Reserve officials have begun to acknowledge that they were too slow to respond to rapid inflation last year, a delay that is forcing them to constrain the economy more abruptly now — and one that could hold lessons for the policy path ahead.

Inflation began to accelerate last spring, but Fed policymakers and most private-sector forecasters initially thought price gains would quickly fade. It became clear in early fall that fast inflation was proving to be more lasting — but the Fed pivoted toward rapidly removing policy support only in late November and did not raise rates until March.

Several current and former Fed officials have suggested in recent days that, in hindsight, the central bank should have reacted more quickly and forcefully last fall, but that both profound uncertainty about the future and the Fed’s approach to setting policy slowed it down.

Officials had spent years dealing with tepid inflation, which made some hesitant to believe that rapidly rising prices would last. Even as they became more concerned, it took the Fed’s large group of policymakers time to come to an agreement on how to respond. Another complicating factor was that the Fed had made clear promises to markets about how it would remove support for the economy, which made adjusting quickly more difficult.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve

C of E to provide up to £3 million to boost diocesan discretionary funds in face of rising cost of living

Decisions about the distribution of grants will be made at diocesan level but it is expected that people from the following groups will be eligible to apply:

–Stipendiary clergy, including curates
–Self-supporting ministers with a provided house (‘House-for-Duty’)
–Salaried lay workers employed by the diocese or parishes such as youth and children’s workers
–Retired clergy carrying out a specific role in support of Diocesan ministry as agreed by or at the request of a Bishop or Archdeacon

A Church of England report published last year backed targeted support for clergy facing financial challenges such as those with larger families or with no additional household income other than the stipend.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

([London] Times) Boomers go on courses to understand young staff

Baby boomer and Generation X bosses are going on courses to help them understand younger employees and get more out of them in the workplace.

Experts say that millennials and Generation Z actually speak a different language to older colleagues, causing friction in the office.

It follows a tribunal last month in which a trainee accountant was sacked after his boss claimed he was “too demanding, like his generation of millennials”.

Dr Elizabeth Michelle, a psychologist who gives workshops on how to handle millennials — a term for people born between 1981 and 1996 — and Generation Z, born from 1997-2012, said: “As a psychologist, I work with so many different things but the main thing people have been interested in is millennials and now Gen Z.

“I think boomers are desperate to be able to work more productively with them and they are very frustrated because they are so different. Managers want to understand their employees better.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Middle Age, Psychology, Science & Technology, Young Adults

From the Standing Committee of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina

This week, after much prayer and discussion as well as consultation with legal counsel, the Trustees and the Standing Committee of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina unanimously decided not to seek a rehearing of the April 20 opinion from the South Carolina Supreme Court. Many of the parishes have reached this same conclusion, although eight* of those named in the lawsuit filed a petition yesterday for rehearing, based on their specific and unique circumstances. Several questions remain about how this decision will be implemented, including that of the betterments statute, which may have implications on how these issues are finally resolved.

Nevertheless, we are preparing for the next steps in bringing this dispute to a resolution and charting a creative path forward for the entire diocese, especially our affected parishes and our summer camp. These ministries will continue. Ministry does not depend upon geography as much as it depends upon the faithfulness of the Lord and the Spirit working in the people of God.

This news will no doubt be met with mixed emotions. While we are thankful that many of the parishes in the lawsuit have retained their property, we grieve as we face the loss of sacred spaces where generations have worshipped and met Jesus.

In his pastoral letter, Bishop Edgar reminded us that “the ministry of this diocese to a confused and broken world is dependent on God’s mercy and call, not on our property and resources.” This truth does not lessen our grief, but we grieve as a people with hope (1 Thess 4:13). God remains faithful, Christ still sits on the throne, and our mission remains clear – to proclaim the death, resurrection, and Lordship of Jesus. We will continue to do so boldly, even as we grieve, certain of our strong bonds of fellowship and the Easter hope of the resurrected Christ.

The Rev Tyler Prescott, President

The Standing Committee
The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina
Anglican Church in North America
126 Coming Street
Charleston, SC 29413

tylerp [at]goodsamaritansummerville[dot] org

* Parishes filing Petitions
1. Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant
2. Good Shepherd, Charleston
3. Holy Comforter, Sumter
4. Holy Cross, Stateburg
5, Old St. Andrews, Charleston
6. St. Jude’s, Walterboro
7. St. Luke’s, Hilton Head
8 Trinity, Myrtle Beach

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry

(BBC) Bradford: Wyke 5G phone mast plan refused for listed church

A 5G phone mast will not be allowed to be built on a 176-year-old Grade II-listed church in West Yorkshire due to concerns it could harm its appearance.

The spire at St Mary’s The Virgin in Wyke, Bradford, already has antennae attached and Cellnex UK had applied for permission to upgrade the base station.

But Bradford Council has rejected the application, saying it would “detract from the church’s architectural form”.

The building, dating back to the 1840s, was a “landmark”, the council said.

Although Cellnex’s planning application said 5G coverage in the area was “essential” and that any visual effect caused by a new mast would be outweighed by the benefits of 5G, Bradford Council’s conservation officer Jon Ackroyd disagreed, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(C of E) ‘It gave me back hope and ambition’– Lichfield Cathedral helps young people

More than 30 six-month work placements were made available by Lichfield Cathedral for 16 to 24-year-olds in the region. The roles available were in the Cathedral, churches, and organisations across the Diocese – providing valuable work experience for those impacted by the pandemic.

For some young people, like Gabriella, this opportunity proved to be life changing.

“In 2019, I began the year homeless” she explained.

“All the stress caused me to end up in hospital, which meant I missed my exams.

“Finding work was difficult to say the least.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

Church Commissioners for England invest €30 million in sustainable infrastructure

The Church Commissioners for England have committed €30 million into European sustainable infrastructure with Pioneer Infrastructure Partners SCSp

The investment marks a continuation of the Church Commissioners’ commitment to reaching net zero as a signatory of the UN-convened Asset Owner Alliance

Pioneer Infrastructure Partners SCSp has secured commitments from other large institutional investors, including Texas Municipal Retirement Systems

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stock Market

(NYT) Get Ready for Another Energy Price Spike: High Electric Bills

Already frustrated and angry about high gasoline prices, many Americans are being hit by rapidly rising electricity bills, compounding inflation’s financial toll on people and businesses.

The national average residential electricity rate was up 8 percent in January from a year earlier, the biggest annual increase in more than a decade. The latest figures, from February, show an almost 4 percent annual rise, reaching the highest level for that month and approaching summer rates, which are generally the most expensive.

In Florida, Hawaii, Illinois and New York, rates are up about 15 percent, according to the Energy Department’s latest figures. Combined with a seasonal increase in the use of electricity as people turn on air-conditioners, the higher rates will leave many people paying a lot more for power this summer than they did last year.

The immediate reason for the jump in electric rates is that the war in Ukraine has driven up the already high cost of natural gas, which is burned to produce about 40 percent of America’s electricity. And supply chain chaos has made routine grid maintenance and upgrades more expensive.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Personal Finance