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Month: April 2022

Сервіси онлайн-продажу залізничних квитків знову запрацювали – «Укрзалізниця»

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Перевізник пояснював, що продаж е-квитків на поїзди та роботу сервісів онлайн-підтримки й гарячої лінії «Укрзалізниці» призупиняли через «невідкладні технічні роботи»

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Nepal Second South Asian Country to Grapple with Economic Woes

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Nepal has banned imports of cars, alcohol and other luxury goods to conserve foreign exchange reserves as spiraling prices of fuel and food imports stemming from the war in Ukraine strain an economy already battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Himalayan nation between India and China is the second South Asian country, after Sri Lanka, to face a foreign exchange crunch.

The goods that will not be imported include expensive televisions and mobile phones, the government said this week. The ban will remain in force until mid-July.

To conserve fuel, which Nepal imports, the work week in government offices has been shortened to five days.

“This is a short-term measure taken to prevent the economic condition of the country from going bad,” said Narayan Prasad Regmi, a senior official in the Industry, Commerce and Supplies Ministry.

Nepal’s central bank has said foreign exchange reserves are sufficient to cover just over six months of imports, down from 10 months in mid-2021. The landlocked nation of 29 million is heavily dependent on imports.

The government hopes the measures will help stave off a crisis like the one roiling Sri Lanka, where acute foreign exchange shortages have resulted in massive supply shortfalls, runaway price increases of fuel and food and a suspension of payments of its foreign debt.

Experts however call Nepal’s temporary ban on luxury goods and the shortening of the work week “desperate measures” that will not address the root cause of the problem that the economy faces.

“All this is only a quick fix and a Band-Aid over essentially what is a very big crack. The basic problem is that our imports far exceed our exports, so we face a huge balance of payments problem,” according to Santosh Sharma Poudel, co-founder of Nepal Institute for Policy Research.

Nepal’s foreign exchange crunch began during the COVID-19 pandemic. With tourism hit, earnings from foreign visitors plummeted in a country where more than a million tourists used to come before the pandemic.

Remittances sent by an estimated 3 million to 4 million Nepali migrants employed mostly in the Middle East and India have also taken a hit – before the pandemic they added up to as much as one-fourth of the country’s gross domestic product.

The war in Ukraine has added to its woes, as prices of both crude oil and food spiral in global markets — Nepal’s imports most of its essential needs, such as fuel, and food, such as cooking oil.

While Nepal’s economy is not as fragile as Sri Lanka’s, there is apprehension of what lies in store in one of the world’s poorest nations. The World Bank warned this week that the war in Ukraine is set to cause the “largest commodity shock” since the 1970s and “households across the world are feeling the cost-of-living crisis.”

They are households like that of Vijay Thapa, who works as a cook in New Delhi to support his family in a village in Nepal. “They can no longer manage in what I send. Prices of everything have spiked, whether it is cooking oil or wheat. Taxi fares have gone up by 50%.”

The situation is more worrisome for small countries, experts say.

“This is the second example in South Asia of how the war just after the pandemic is affecting us,” said Dhanajay Tripathi, a professor at the South Asian University in New Delhi.

“There are real worries for countries like Nepal because with smaller incomes it is harder for them to absorb the shock of high imports compared to larger countries such as India where the huge economy makes it possible to manage,” he said.

Analysts also warn that fixing the economy could be more difficult because Nepal also has some of the political problems that contributed to Sri Lanka’s crisis.

“We also have crony capitalism; corruption is high and there is political instability. That makes it harder to put long-term efficient policies in place,” Poudel said.

Economic mismanagement that led to the crisis in Sri Lanka has been blamed on the powerful Rajapaksa political dynasty that controls the government. Although some family members have resigned as ministers, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda, who is prime minister, still hold the top posts.

In Nepal constant infighting among political parties has resulted in short-lived governments for the last three decades.  For much of last year, the country was mired in political turmoil and is presently ruled by a fragile five-party coalition.

Plummeting COVID-19 cases, though, have encouraged the country to lift restrictions on tourists. Tourism earnings are up, although still far below prepandemic levels. And as Middle East countries increase crude output after the pandemic, when demand had plunged, jobs are coming back for Nepalese nationals, which could mean remittances will again pick up.

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Foreign Businesses Consider Leaving China Amid Lockdowns

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Chris Mei has been stuck in his Shanghai flat for a month save for PCR testing and occasional volunteer work delivering food to neighbors. That will change in a couple of days when he boards his flight for a long-scheduled trip home to Portland, Oregon.

He uses Zoom to do factory inspections for his 2-year-old import-export firm, Shanghai Fanyi Industry, but he can’t complete all the orders for clients overseas. He’s locked down like most of the 26 million people in the city, along with some of the factories where he normally sources goods, such as artificial plants and solar lights.

“In terms of how’s business, it’s definitely affected us,” Mei said. “Clients abroad always have deadlines, especially for some of our products.” He continued, “For example, for a shipment that recently went out, we had a portion of the order canceled due to the fact that the factory, they were on lockdown as well, so we basically could only produce what they could, and then the remaining part of the order basically passed the client’s deadline in South America.”

Leaving a city in lockdown has become an expensive, multistep process. Mei, a U.S. citizen, applied for permission to leave Shanghai by getting a pass from his neighborhood committee. He then found a driver with special permission to take him to the airport during lockdown – for about six times the usual price of that ride.

Shanghai’s residents have been ordered to stay home since early April in response to a spike in COVID-19 infections. Last week, authorities began easing restrictions in parts of the city to restore economic activity.

Mei’s case is typical, analysts who follow China say. Large numbers of foreign businesspeople in China are planning on leaving the country, for now or for good. The lockdowns have hammered an economy already hobbled by the 4-year-old Sino-U.S. trade dispute, capital outflows and last year’s crackdown on tech giants.

On March 18, That’s Shanghai, a local magazine, reported the results of an online survey saying 85% of foreigners in the city would “rethink their future in China” because of the lockdowns. The survey found that 48% of respondents plan to leave China over the next year and that 37% would wait in case anti-pandemic measures improve.

Risk seems to be increasing

Shipments through seaports in Shanghai and the Chinese tech hub Shenzhen, which locked down in March, have slowed because of a lack of workers and a shortage of truckers who are allowed to move imports and exports around the country.

Larger businesses can afford to wait in case lockdowns ease and China resumes its robust economic growth, said Doug Barry, communications vice president with the U.S.-China Business Council, a 265-member advocacy group in Washington.

Smaller companies are having more trouble because they depend on China’s advanced contract manufacturing ecosystem and cannot easily relocate, Barry said. He said some businesses have closed temporarily because so many workers can’t report to their jobs.

Others have spent money to help feed workers and even let them stay overnight at workplaces so they can report to their jobs the next day.

Overseas-based company leaders are staying away from their China projects because of quarantine rules, he said.

“Business in some cases has come to a complete stop,” Barry said. “The risk seems to be increasing, and the unknowns are also increasing and you’re looking at bottom lines and the future of things, and you’re wondering what to do.”

While foreign businesspeople are thinking of leaving, the significance of China to outside companies can be seen in the numbers. Foreign businesses invested $173.5 billion in China last year, up from $163 billion in 2020 and $140 billion a year earlier, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s latest report.

Just more than 1 million foreign companies were registered in China at the end of 2020.

Companies normally relocate in China for contract manufacturing – which is seen as professional yet inexpensive – or to sell cars, coffee, phones and fashion apparel to the massive consumer market.

Incentives to stay

Mei will be back in Shanghai after a couple of months at home. By then, he expects there will be a “more solid” response to COVID-19 with clarity about people’s mobility.

Some people he knows have been called back to work in May, he said.

William Frazier, a 58-year-old U.S.-born owner of a business advisory firm in Shanghai, has lived in the city continuously since 2002.  He has no plans to leave the city even though he’s been locked down since March 16. Frazier has a spacious flat in a high-end compound, making life tolerable as he works though emails, phone and video conferences. The economic chaos has caused more clients to call him for information.

“No real significant impact, I would say, not for me,” Frazier said. “I don’t see hiccups. I see opportunities.”

Local officials in China want foreign investors to stay in the country, the U.S.-China Business Council has found. They are willing to meet and hear out American businesspeople, Barry said, though no government body has offered them any economic stimulus.

Sticking around will keep companies competitive after China returns to normal, he said.

If lockdowns in Shanghai end in May, more businesspeople are likely to stay in the city, said Yan Liang, professor and chair of economics at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. Local and central government policymakers have the economic aftershocks of COVID-19 “on their radar,” she said.

“It’s just so important to be able to have a foothold in a large market like this,” Liang said. “And I think some of the sentiments (are) also that even though there are some maybe temporary or maybe more permanent slowdowns, the Chinese economy is still a really bright spot when you compare with other countries in the world.”

That makes the lure of the largest market in the world worth waiting for, for businesses that can afford to hold out until cities open again.

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Британська розвідка заявила про «значні проблеми» Росії в Україні і слабкий моральний дух її військ

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«Росія сподівається виправити проблеми, які раніше стримували її вторгнення, географічно зосередивши бойову міць, скоротивши лінії постачання і спростивши командування й управління»

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Categories: Новини, Світ

Tech Stocks Sink Again; Nasdaq Has Worst Month Since 2008 

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped more than 900 points Friday as another sharp sell-off led by technology added to Wall Street’s losses in April, leaving the S&P 500 with its biggest monthly skid since the start of the pandemic.

The benchmark S&P 500 fell 3.6% and finished April with an 8.8% loss, its worst monthly slide since March 2020. The Dow slumped 2.8%.

The Nasdaq composite, heavily weighted with technology stocks, bore the brunt of the damage this month, ending April with a 13.3% loss, its biggest monthly decline since the 2008 financial crisis.

A sharp drop in Amazon weighed on the market after the internet retail giant posted its first loss since 2015.

Major indexes have been shifting between slumps and rallies throughout the week as the latest round of corporate earnings hit the market in force. Investors have been reviewing a particularly heavy batch of financial results from big tech companies, industrial firms and retailers.

Fed medicine

The volatile week caps off a dismal month for stocks as traders fret about the tough medicine the Federal Reserve is using in its fight against inflation: higher interest rates. That will increase borrowing costs across the board for people buying cars, using credit cards and taking out mortgages to buy homes.

The S&P 500 fell 155.57 points to 4,131.93. The Dow dropped 939.18 points to 32,977.21. The Nasdaq slid 536.89 points to 12,334.64.

Big Tech has been leading the market lower all month as traders shun the high-flying sector. Tech had posted gigantic gains during the pandemic and now is starting to look overpriced, particularly with interest rates set to rise sharply as the Fed steps up its fight against inflation.

Internet retail giant Amazon slumped 14%, one of the biggest decliners in the S&P 500, after reporting a rare quarterly loss and giving investors a disappointing revenue forecast. The weak update from Amazon comes as Wall Street worries about a potential slowdown in consumer spending along with rising inflation.

Prices for everything from food to gas have been rising as the economy recovers from the pandemic, and there has been a big disconnect between higher demand and lagging supplies. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only added to inflation worries as it drives price increases for oil, natural gas, wheat and corn.

The Commerce Department on Friday reported that an inflation gauge closely tracked by the Federal Reserve surged 6.6% in March compared with a year ago, the highest 12-month jump in four decades and further evidence that spiking prices are pressuring household budgets and the health of the economy.

Europe, too

The latest report on rising U.S. inflation follows a report from statistics agency Eurostat that shows inflation hit a record high in April of 7.5% for the 19 countries that use the euro.

Bond yields rose following the hot readings on inflation. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.92% from 2.85%.

Persistently rising inflation has prompted central banks to raise interest rates to temper the impact on businesses and consumers.

Much of the anxiety on Wall Street in April has centered around how quickly the Fed will raise its benchmark interest rate and whether an aggressive series of hikes will crimp economic growth. The chair of the Fed has indicated the central bank may raise short-term interest rates by double the usual amount at upcoming meetings, starting next week. It has already raised its key overnight rate once, the first such increase since 2018, and Wall Street is expecting several big increases over the coming months.

Investors spent much of April shifting money away from Big Tech companies, whose stock values benefit from low interest rates, to areas considered less risky. The S&P 500’s consumer staples sector, which includes many household and personal goods makers, is on track to be the only sector in the benchmark index to make gains in April. Other safe-play sectors, such as utilities, held up better than the broader market, while technology and communications stocks were among the biggest losers.

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Zelenskyy’s Invite to G20 Not Enough for Biden

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who holds this year’s Group of 20 (G-20) presidency, announced Friday that he has invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the economic forum’s November summit in Bali.

“We understand the G-20 has a catalyst role in global economic recovery, and when we speak of global economic recovery there are two important factors right now; COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine,” Widodo said in a video outlining the rationale of his invitation to Zelenskyy.

Widodo said he extended the invitation during a call with Zelenskyy Wednesday when he turned down a request for weapons but offered humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. He said he spoke to Vladimir Putin on Thursday and the Russian president informed him that he will be attending the summit.  

“Indonesia wants to unite G-20,” Widodo said. “Peace and stability are the keys to global economic recovery and growth.”

That may be a tall order amid Western leaders’ demands to kick Russia out of the group of the 20 largest economies. U.S. President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, among others, have raised concerns about Putin’s participation in the summit and signaled they will not attend if Putin is there.

Not enough for Biden

“The president has been clear about his view, this shouldn’t be business as usual and that Russia should not be a part of this,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said to VOA Thursday when asked if Biden would consider attending with Zelenskyy invited.

It was Biden who suggested that Kyiv be able to attend G-20 meetings should other members disagree to kick out Russia. He made the point following a meeting with NATO members and European allies in Brussels last month, where he said they discussed expelling Putin from the G-20.

With China supporting Moscow to remain in the group, analysts point out that Widodo is in a tough position. Ultimately his government may have to decide whether it is willing to trade Putin’s attendance for several Western leaders’ absence.

“I think the perfect solution for Indonesia would be, they invite Zelenskyy and then the Russians say that Putin decided not to come and then Jokowi doesn’t have to make this decision,” said Gregory Poling to VOA, using Widodo’s nickname. Poling researches U.S. foreign policy in the Asia Pacific at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Earlier this month the Biden administration signaled it wants the G-20 to discuss the international economic repercussions of the Russian invasion and potentially Ukraine’s reconstruction.  

That idea is likely to create further rifts in the economic forum. Middle-power G-20 members, including India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and others, have their own agenda centered around post-pandemic recovery that do not align with the West’s focus of isolating Putin and helping Ukraine.

Jakarta has set three pillars for its G-20 presidency: global health architecture, sustainable energy transition and digital transformation. It has chosen “Recover Together, Recover Stronger” as the theme of this year’s summit – a proposal that could unravel amid new geopolitical rivalries triggered by Putin’s war.

Eva Mazrieva and Virginia Gunawan contributed to this report.

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Amazon Stock Falls After Company Reports First Quarterly Loss in 7 Years

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Amazon share prices fell 11% Friday after the massive online retailer posted its first quarterly loss in seven years.

Amazon lost $3.84 billion during the first quarter of this year after recording a profit of $8.11 billion in the same period last year.

Revenue growth for the quarter was the slowest ever for the company, rising 7.3%.

The company blamed investments in warehouses and more staff for the slowdown. It also said there is uncertainty about consumer spending caused by inflation, supply chain problems and the war in Ukraine.

“With inflation hitting household budgets around the world, spontaneous Amazon purchases are likely to be reined in,” Sophie Lund-Yates, analyst at Britain-based financial services company Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

Another big hit to Amazon’s bottom line came from its stake in electric vehicle maker Rivian, shares of which are down 70% this year.

Amazon Web Services remained a strong point for the company as revenue for the cloud computing service jumped 36.6%.

The value of Amazon stock has dropped 23.2% this year.

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Швейцарський регулятор перевірить банк, який допомагає громадянам РФ обходити санкції, про що розповідали «Схеми» 

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CIM Banque допомагає громадянам РФ відкривати мультивалютний рахунок та оформлювати віртуальні та пластикові картки міжнародних платіжних систем Visa/Mastercard

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«Договору про дружбу не буде»: Подоляк пояснив, як може виглядати двостороння угода між Україною та Росією

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«Нам треба зафіксувати позиції, які будуть для Росії «червоними лініями», що на територію України жодного разу ця країна більше зайти не зможе»

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Categories: Новини, Світ