This United Nations Agency reported yesterday that for the 10th consecutive month world food prices have risen in March. So if you have a sense that your weekly supermarket shop is getting dearer, you may well be right. The rises are led by vegetable oil, dairy product and meat prices. Prices overall are at their highest since June 2014. Not included in the current price rise drivers is sugar-down 4% on the month but up 30% over the past year. As always, food price movements are both seasonal and subject to supply and demand variations, so if your Waitrose shop is causing you pain, it may be time to get real and get down to Tescos or maybe even Asda.
Christine Lagarde seems prepared like many European politicians to become a hostage to fortune by stating that risks beyond the next few months to EU economic growth are receding following the Covid pandemic. While hard evidence provided in support of that statement is in somewhat short supply, it is of course true to say that that prognosis becomes more likely given that already over a year has elapsed since LockDownOne…unless of course Europe does not succeed in rolling out vaccines faster than the growth in the rate of infection. In which case Lagarde’s hope that the ECB will not need to spend the EUR 185 Trillion allocated for the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme looks less well founded. EUR however at $1.1925 well off its lows at the end of March of $1.17. That of course is more than somewhat to do with USD retracing and giving back some of its strong gains rather than EUR strength bolstered by Fed Chairman Powell’s strong talk about his inflation fighting credentials.
Hit by a drop of 86% in its tourist trade last year to a mere trickle of 2.7 million foreign visitors, Singapore is pitching a post pandemic recovery by setting out its stall to become one of if not the global centre of the cruise liner industry. Currently Singapore accounts for a third of all cruises but that is somewhat skewed by most other centres being shut and Singapore tapping into the lucrative “cruises to nowhere” industry for its 5.7 million citizens. USD/SGD at 1.34 almost its best level in the past 2 years.
Readers will recall the 1969 archetypal Roger Miller song made famous by the likes of Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead. Clearly it has also been on the mind of POTUS when he allocated the split of the monster economic stimulatory measures in the USA. What President Biden has done here has largely passed unnoticed: he is trying to wean Americans off the automobile and on to public transport. Take the following figures: in the past 65 years $10 Trillion has been spent on highways and roads versus $2.5 Trillion on subway and passenger trains and buses. In the latest package $85 Billion has been set aside for mass transit transportation to be spent in the next 8 years. A further $80 Billion has been put aside for intercity rail such as Amtrak. While $115 Billion has been allocated to the road system, this is mostly for repairs to potholed highways and crumbling bridges. Quite a turnaround. Here is the great song by Roger Miller:
Busted flat in Baton Rouge headin’ for the trains feelin’ nearly faded as my jeans
Bobby thumbed a diesel down just before it rained took us all the way to New Orleans
I took my har’poon out of my dirty red bandana
And was blowin’ sad while Bobby sang the blues
With them windshield whipers slappin’ time
And Bobby clappin’ hands we finally sang up every song that driver knew
Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free
Feeling good was easy Lord when Bobby sang the blues
Feeling good was good enough for me good enough for me and Bobby McGee
From the coal mines of Kentucky to the California sun
Bobby shared the secrets of my soul
Standin’ right beside me Lord through everything I done
And every night she kept me from the cold
Then somewhere near Salinas Lord I let her slip away
Lookin’ for the home I hope she’ll find
I’d trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday holdin’ Bobby’s body next to mine
Freedom’s just another…
La la la la la…
Have a Great Weekend!
Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder