Chief Economists Outlook Warns of Dire Human Consequences from Fragmentation of the Global Economy
The World Economic Forumís Community of Chief Economists expects lower economic activity, higher inflation, lower real wages and greater food insecurity globally in 2022, pointing to the devastating human consequences of the fragmentation of the global economy.?†
Reversing previous expectations for recovery, the majority of respondents to the latest survey expect only a moderate economic outlook in the United States, China, Latin America, South Asia and Pacific, East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa in 2022. In Europe, the majority expect the economic outlook to be weak.
The choices of both business and government are expected to lead to greater fragmentation in the global economy and unprecedented shifts in supply chains, creating a perfect storm of volatility and uncertainty. These patterns are expected to create further difficult trade-offs and choices for policy-makers, and Ė without greater coordination Ė shocking human costs. These are the key findings of the World Economic Forumís quarterly Chief Economists Outlook, published today.†?†?ďWe are at the cusp of a vicious cycle that could impact societies for years.
The pandemic and war in Ukraine have fragmented the global economy and created far-reaching consequences that risk wiping out the gains of the last 30 years. Leaders face difficult choices and trade-offs domestically when it comes to debt, inflation and investment. Yet business and government leaders must also recognise the absolute necessity of global cooperation to prevent economic misery and hunger for millions around the world.
The World Economic Forumís Annual Meeting this week will provide a starting point for such collaborationĒ, says Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director at the World Economic Forum.?†?Higher inflation, lower real wages and food insecurity?†?The war in Ukraine, continued surges of COVID-19 variants and associated supply shocks are impacting expectations on inflation.
The majority of chief economists surveyed by the Forum expect high or very high inflation in 2022 in all markets except China and East Asia Ė with 96% expecting high or very high inflation in the US, 92% for Europe and 86% for Latin America. In parallel, two-thirds of chief economists expect that average real wages will decline in the near term in advanced economies, while one-third are uncertain. Ninety percent of those surveyed expect average real wages to fall across low-income economies.
With wheat prices expected to increase by over 40% this year and prices for vegetable oils, cereals and meat at all-time highs, the war in Ukraine is exacerbating global hunger and a cost-of-living crisis. Over the next three years, chief economists expect food insecurity to be most severe in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Middle East and North Africa.
At the current trajectory, the world is on track for the worst food crisis in recent history, compounded by the additional pressure of high energy prices.? ?These expert predictions are echoed in the experience of the general public. A recent 11-country survey, conducted by Ipsos with the World Economic Forum, reveals high levels of public economic pessimism in the face of a cost-of-living crisis.
Twenty-five per cent of the public say they are finding it quite or very difficult to manage financially, ranging between two-thirds of Turkish citizens and 16% of those in the US and Germany. The largest group (34%) say they are ďjust about getting byĒ. Only 11% say they are living comfortably while three in ten (29%) feel they are doing alright.? ?Expectations of price rises are also widespread across all 11 countries Ė almost four in five people expect the cost of their food shopping to increase, while three-quarters expect rises in utility bills such as gas and electricity.
For most countries, a rise in food prices is the area households say would have the biggest impact on their quality of life Ė this is the case for the US, Canada, Italy, Japan, Australia, Poland and Turkey. In the remaining four countries (Britain, Italy, Germany and Spain) an increase in utility bills would have the biggest effect.
A difficult balancing act for policy-makers?†?Faced with the challenge of containing inflation without tipping economies into recession, chief economists are divided. While a majority (57%) agree that the risks associated with higher inflation in low-income economies outweigh those associated with short-term contraction due to monetary tightening, opinions of the effects in high-income countries are more divided.
With fiscal spending set to increase in many countries to deal with current developments, balancing the risks of a cost-of-living crisis with higher debt is a key challenge for policy-makers. In advanced economies, 54% of chief economists expect energy price subsidies while 41% expect food price subsidies. In low-income economies the vast majority feel that food price subsidies will be necessary (86%), while 60% expect energy price subsidies.
However, this necessity will need to be squared against a higher risk of debt default (81% see an increased risk of this for developing economies). †?†?With the World Bank expecting energy prices to rise by more than 50% in 2022, before easing in 2023-24, policy-makers are faced with balancing the risks of energy insecurity against the transition to greener energy. Most chief economists surveyed expect policy-makers to try and tackle both challenges simultaneously.
However, a clear majority of respondents expect a prioritization of energy security based on carbon-intensive sources rather than greener sources across all regions except Europe and China.?†?Fragmentation and politicization of supply chains?†?As supply chains enter their third year of disruption, governments and business are rethinking their approach to exposure, self-sufficiency and security across their supply chains.
Chief economists consider it likely or highly likely that multinational companies will both localize and diversify their supply chains in the next three years, realigning them along geopolitical fault lines.?†?The November 2021 edition of the Chief Economists Outlook identified ďdeglobalizationĒ as an emerging trend driven by the impact of the pandemic.
The war in Ukraine and its geopolitical and economic fallout is accelerating these trends, with declining physical integration and increasing friction in the virtual space. A majority of the chief economists polled for Mayís Outlook expect higher fragmentation in the markets for goods, technology and labour in the next three years, while most expect services to remain stable or be more globalized.
Four futures for economic globalization? ?An additional World Economic Forum report, published today, maps out possible trajectories for globalization in the coming five years. Four Futures for Economic Globalization: Scenarios and Their Implications outlines how the nature of globalization may shift as economic powers choose between fragmentation or integration in both the physical and virtual dimensions of the world economy.
The four scenarios are as follows:? ?Globalization 5.0: Reconnection describes physical and virtual integration Ė a new form of globalization that couples integration with stronger national safety nets and alignment on global frameworks for tax and technology.? ?Analogue Networks: Virtual Nationalism describes physical integration and virtual fragmentation Ė a potential future in which trade, especially in strategic commodities, is secured but a tech race, cybersecurity concerns and uncoordinated regulation lead to virtual disintegration.
Digital Dominance: Agile Platforms describes physical fragmentation and virtual integration, as the physical movement of goods and people regresses and large global platforms dominate global economic activity.? ?Autarkic World: Systemic Fragmentation describes both physical and virtual fragmentation relative to today, as leaders turn inwards and seek to exert greater control over production, services, people and technology.
The report calls for ďno-regret actionsĒ by policy-makers such as: global cooperation on the climate crisis; investment in human capital to prepare populations for a range of economic futures; and developing resilience through greater economic integration, knowledge-sharing and diversification.
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Grit divests from Letlole La Rona
Grit Services Limited, a member of the pan African real estate group, London Stock Exchange listed Grit Real Estate Income Group is divesting from Letlole La Rona Limited (LLR), a local real estate company established by government investment arm Botswana Development Corporation over a decade ago.
The Board of Directors of Letlole La Rona Limited this week announced in a statement to Unitholders that Grit Services Limited (‚ÄėGrit‚Äô) has informed them of its intention to exit its investment in the company.
Grit has been a material shareholder in LLR since 2019. On 07 March 2023, Grit sold 6 421 000 linked units, representing 2.29% of the Company‚Äôs total securities in issue, at a market value of BWP 22 537 710.
This trade follows previous sales of 6.79% in December 2022, as communicated to Unitholders on 10 January 2023, as well as a further sale of 4.78% (representing 13 347 068 linked units) on 24 February 2023 to various shareholders.
In aggregate, Grit has sold 13.9% shareholding in the Letlole La Rona between December 2022 and March 2023, resulting in current shareholding of 11.25% in the Company.
Letlole La Rona said in the statement that the exit process will take place in an orderly manner so as to maintain stability of the Company‚Äôs share price.
The statement explained that Grit‚Äôs sale of its entire shareholding in LLR is in line with its decision to exit investments where it does not have majority control, or where it has significant exposure to currencies other than US dollar, Euro or hard-currency-pegged revenue streams.
‚ÄúGrit has announced similar decisions pertaining to certain of its hospitality assets in Mauritius recently. The Company would like to advise Unitholders that it remains focused on long-term value delivery to all stakeholders‚ÄĚ LLR said
In July last year as part of their Go-to-Africa strategy Letlole La Rona acquired an initial 30% equity stake in Orbit Africa Logistics, with an option to increase this investment to 50%. OAL is a special purpose vehicle incorporated in Mauritius, owning an industrial asset in a prime industrial node in Nairobi, Kenya.
The co-investment was done alongside a wholly owned subsidiary of London listed Grit. The Orbit facility is situated on a prime industrial site on Mombasa Road, the principal route south of Nairobi center, serving the main industrial node, the port of Mombasa and the industrial town of Athi River and is strategically located 11 kilometers south of the international airport and 9.6 kilometers from the Inland Container Depot.
Grit shareholding in Letlole La Rona was seen as strategic for LLR, for the company to leverage on Grit‚Äôs already existing continental presence and expand its wings beyond Botswana borders as already delivered by Kenya transaction.
Media reports have however suggested that LLR and Grit have since late last year had fundamental disagreements on how to go about the Go-to-Africa strategy amongst other things, fuelled by alleged Botswana government interference on the affairs of LLR.
Government through LLR founding shareholder – Botswana Development Corporation has a controlling stake of around 40 percent in the company. Government is the sole shareholder of Botswana Development Corporation.
Letlole La Rona recently released their financial results for the six months ended December 2022, revenue increased by 4% to P50.2 million from P48.4 million in the prior comparative six months, whilst operating profit was up 8% to P36.5 million. Profit before tax of P49.7 million was reported, an increase of 8% on the prior comparative six months.
‚ÄúWe are encouraged by the strong results, notwithstanding a challenging economic environment. Our performance was mainly underpinned by annual lease escalations, our quality tenant base and below average market vacancy levels, especially in our warehouse portfolio,‚ÄĚ Kamogelo Mowaneng, Letlole La Rona Chief Executive Officer commented.
LLR reported a weighted average lease expiry period of 3.3 years and escalation rates averaging 6.8% per annum for the period ended 31 December 2022.Its investment portfolio value increased by 14% year-on-year to close the period at P1.4 billion, mainly driven by the acquisition of a 30% stake in OAL in July 2022.
The Company also recorded a significant increase in other income, predominantly due to foreign exchange gains on the OAL shareholder loan. ‚ÄúWe continue to explore pipeline opportunities locally, and regionally in line with our Go-to-Africa strategy and our interest remains on value-accretive investments,‚ÄĚ Mowaneng said.
An interim distribution of 9.11 thebe per linked unit was declared on the 6th of February 2023 for the half-year period to 31 December 2022, comprising of a dividend of 0.05 thebe and debenture interest of 9.06 thebe per linked unit which will be paid to linked unit holders registered in the books of the Company at the close of business on 24 February 2023.
Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW
Internationally-acclaimed diamond manufacturing company StarGems Group has established the Stargems Diamond Training Center which will be providing specialized training in diamond manufacturing and evaluation.
The Stargems Diamond Training Institute is located at the Stargems Group Botswana Unit in Gaborone.
‚ÄúIn accordance with the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) which holds the principle that through education and skills development as well as the strategic alignment between national ambitions and individual capabilities, Botswana will become a prosperous, productive and innovative nation due to the quality and efficacy of its citizenry. The Training Centre will provide a range of modules in theory and in practice; from rough diamond evaluation to diamond grading and polishing for Batswana, at no cost for eight weeks. The internationally- recognized certificate offered in partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School presents invaluable opportunities for Batswana to access in the diamond industry locally and internationally. The initiative is an extension of our Corporate Social Investment to the community in which we operate,‚ÄĚ said Vishal Shah, Stargems Group Managing Director, during the launch of the Stargems Diamond Training Center.
In order to participate in this rare opportunity, interested candidates are invited to submit a police clearance certificate and a BGCSE certificate only to the Stargems offices.¬† Students who excel in these programs will have the chance to be onboarded by the Stargems Group. This serves as motivation for them to go through this training with a high level of seriousness.
‚ÄúCommunity empowerment is one of our CSR principles. We believe that businesses can only thrive when their communities are well taken of. We are hoping that our presence will be impactful to various communities and economies. In the six countries that we are operating in, we have contributed through dedicating 10% of our revenues during COVID-19 to facilitate education, donating to hospitals and also to NGOs committed to supporting women and children living with HIV. One key issue that we are targeting in Botswana is the rate of unemployment amongst the youth. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and other relevant authorities to curb unemployment,‚ÄĚ said Shah.
Currently, Stargems Group has employed 117 Batswana and they are looking forward to growing the numbers to 500 as the company grows. Majority of the employees will be graduates from the Stargems Diamond Training Center. This initiation has been received with open arms by the general public and stakeholders. During the launch, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, ¬†Honorable Lefoko Moagi, stated that the ministry fully endorses Stargems Diamond Training and will work closely with the Group to support and grow the initiative.
‚ÄúAs a ministry, we see this as an game changer that is aligned with one of the United Nations’ Six Priority Sustainable Development Goals, which is to Advance Opportunity and Impact for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What Stargems Group is launching today will have a huge impact on the creation of employment in Botswana. An economy‚Äôs productivity rises as the number of educated workers increases as its skilled workmanship increases. It is not a secret that low skills perpetuate poverty and widen the inequality gap, therefore the development of skills has the potential to contribute significantly to structural transformation and economic growth by enhancing employability and helping the country become more competitive. We are grateful to see the emergence of industry players such as Stargems Group who have strived to create such opportunities that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy,‚ÄĚ said the Minister of Minerals and Energy.