News Briefing - Friday, January 26th 2024
From US Top News and Analysis
Commodity markets are in a 'super squeeze' — and higher prices could be here to stay
HSBC has warned that global commodity markets are facing a "super squeeze" due to supply disruptions and insufficient investment. According to HSBC's chief economist Paul Bloxham, this situation will worsen as geopolitical and climate risks exacerbate the issue. Bloxham explained that a commodity "super squeeze" is characterized by higher prices driven by supply constraints rather than robust demand growth. This scenario has a different impact on global growth, as higher prices resulting from supply constraints are not as positive. HSBC predicts that the supply-side factors contributing to the "super squeeze," such as political uncertainties, climate change, and the lack of investments in green energy transition, will continue to keep commodity prices elevated. This suggests ongoing challenges for global commodity markets in the future.
AI hiring frenzy to fuel layoffs in other tech segments as firms strive to balance costs
Tech firms like Google are prioritizing investments into artificial intelligence (AI), leading to a wave of layoffs in other areas of the industry. Over 20,000 tech employees have already lost their jobs in 2024, as giants such as Google focus on AI while cutting back on non-strategic sectors. Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently warned employees of further job cuts this year, as the company shifts its investment towards AI. Pichai explained that tough choices are necessary in order to create the capacity for this investment. The layoffs come as Google seeks to enhance its search engine with AI features in response to rival Microsoft, which has integrated ChatGPT into Bing search. Overall, experts predict that the hiring frenzy in the AI sector will continue, while other segments may see ongoing layoffs throughout 2024.
Shein rejects Amazon 'clone' talk as it prepares for U.S. listing
Chinese e-commerce giant Shein is planning to expand its product offering in the U.S. market as it prepares for its highly anticipated initial public offering (IPO) in 2024. The company aims to take on competitors like Amazon and popular Chinese marketplace Temu by diversifying its product range. Amazon recently announced a shift towards Shein's territory by reducing fees for clothing items priced below $20. Shein is known for its ultra-low-cost fashion offerings and has gained popularity for its "on-demand" model, which allows it to test small batches of products with users before full rollout. The expansion plans come amidst reports that Shein's IPO valuation may be lower than expected, as current investors are selling shares due to regulatory scrutiny and intense competition. Shein's IPO is expected to fetch a valuation of $90 billion, but reports suggest that it could be as low as $45 billion. Despite this, a Shein spokesperson stated that valuations in secondary sales do not necessarily reflect the true value of the company.
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From BBC News - Home
Kenneth Eugene Smith: Alabama carries out first US nitrogen gas execution
Alabama has executed a convicted murderer, Kenneth Eugene Smith, using nitrogen gas, marking the first time this method of capital punishment has been used in the US. Smith had lost all of his final appeals, arguing that the execution would be a cruel and unusual punishment. The use of nitrogen hypoxia as an alternative method of execution has been approved in Alabama, as well as two other US states, due to the difficulty in sourcing the drugs used in lethal injections. Smith was convicted in 1989 of murdering Elizabeth Sennett, a preacher's wife, as part of a killing-for-hire scheme. Nitrogen gas causes cells in the body to break down, leading to death. Smith's execution lasted around five minutes, during which he was observed writhing and breathing heavily. His death was confirmed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who noted that Smith had "answered for his horrendous crimes."
Post Office plan to sack Horizon reviewer kept secret
Documents obtained by the BBC reveal that senior figures at the Post Office secretly decided to sack forensic accountants in 2014 who had found flaws in their Horizon IT system. The minutes from two Project Sparrow meetings in April 2014 indicate that a Post Office board sub-committee, led by Post Office chair Alice Perkins and including then-CEO Paula Vennells, decided to bring the investigation of sub-postmasters' cases under the control of the Post Office, thereby removing Second Sight from its independent role. Former sub-postmaster Alan Bates has described the documents as evidence of a "total cover-up". The Horizon system generated false evidence of cash shortfalls at sub-post offices, leading to wrongful prosecutions of sub-postmasters. The scandal is now estimated to cost over £1bn in compensation. The Post Office declined to comment.
Nottingham attacks: Triple killer's sentence to be considered for review
The attorney general is considering whether to review the sentence of Valdo Calocane, who was given an indefinite hospital order for the murders of two students and a school caretaker in Nottingham last June. Calocane fatally stabbed students Barnaby Webber and Grace O'Malley-Kumar, before killing school caretaker Ian Coates. He pleaded guilty to the killings and was sentenced to a high-security hospital for the rest of his life. The attorney general's office has received a referral arguing that the sentence was unduly lenient. Under the Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme, anyone can ask for a crown court sentence to be reviewed if they think it is too short. In 2022, officials were asked to look at almost 1,200 cases, resulting in longer sentences for 95 people.
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From CNN.com - RSS Channel - App International Edition
Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts
Former President Donald Trump's arraignment in a New York state court will not be broadcasted by news outlets, according to a judge's ruling. However, the judge will allow five pool photographers to take still photos in the courtroom prior to the proceedings. Trump's arraignment, which is a public proceeding, typically does not allow cameras inside. The media organizations that requested live cameras in the courtroom argued that the significance of the proceeding required broad public access. Trump's lawyers opposed the media's request, while the Manhattan District Attorney's office did not take a stance. Trump has arrived in Manhattan ahead of the arraignment following his indictment by a grand jury last week. The criminal charges, related to hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign, have not been seen by Trump's legal team or the public. Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyers plan to challenge the charges.
Haberman reveals why Trump attacked judge and his family in speech
CNN political contributor Maggie Haberman provides insight into Donald Trump's motivation for attacking a judge and his family during a speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort after being arraigned on felony charges. According to Haberman, Trump is known for his instinctive ferocity when he feels threatened, particularly in legal matters. In this case, the judge's decision to allow prosecutors to seize records from Trump's personal attorney triggered Trump's ire. Haberman suggests that Trump's attacks were aimed at discrediting the judge and undermining the legitimacy of the case against him. Furthermore, by targeting the judge's family, Trump seeks to convey a message that his opponents are corrupt and that he is the true victim in this situation. Haberman emphasizes that Trump's inflammatory language is designed to rally his supporters and galvanize them against his perceived foes. Overall, the attacks on the judge and his family reflect Trump's combative nature when confronted with legal challenges.
Russian authorities detain suspect over St. Petersburg cafe blast
Ukraine has received the first tranche of $2.7 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of a new program. The IMF recently approved a four-year extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for Ukraine, totaling around $15.6 billion. The program aims to promote stability, support economic recovery, and enhance governance and institutional strength. It also provides support for structural reforms. This is the first major conventional financing program approved by the IMF for a country involved in a large-scale war. However, there are risks involved, as highlighted by Gita Gopinath, first deputy managing director of the IMF. She mentioned that external financing on concessional terms is crucial for the success of the program, as it will help close fiscal and external financing gaps and restore debt sustainability. The IMF's support is part of a larger $115 billion package to assist Ukraine.