In a quite stunning development that came in on the newswire during the small, dark hours of Friday, the United States has entered a recession, after failing to arrest a contraction in the economy for the second successive quarter in 2022. The US Commerce Department on Thursday reported a 0.9% contraction in the gross domestic product from April through June, the year's second quarter.
It followed a 1.6% annual drop in the first, from January through March. Consecutive quarters of falling GDP constitute a technical definition of recession, although not the official one in the US. Fears of a recession had been doing the rounds of course, as the US Federal Reserve took it upon itself to aggressively fight the inflation taking hold in the US economy, that has been threatening to break through a 40-year ceiling it has been gnawing at for months now. Chair Jerome Powell shrugged off recession fears even yesterday, as the Fed announced an eye-watering 0.75% hike in its key interest rate.
The world looked on in horror on February 24, as Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Since the war broke out, bloody fighting and attacks on civilians have resulted in at least tens of thousands of deaths, the displacement of 12 million Ukrainians abroad or within the country, and at least $100 billion of infrastructure damage. Now more than five months in, there's no end in sight to the brutal conflict.
While Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces continue to pursue his war aims, Ukraine's armed resistance has impressed in the way they have faced down a much larger opponent. Following Ukrainian successes early on in the war, Russia has turned its attention towards Ukraine's easternmost Donbas border region-and the more recent phase of the war has been going more in Moscow's favour, even as it seemed to rein in its aims. With Russia having expended most of its long-range missiles, the conflict has become "a slow grinding war of attrition" on the frontlines, according to Angela Stent, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Most analysts predict that the war could go on for years, as successful peace negotiations at this stage seem unlikely.
Russia and Ukraine account for nearly one-third of the world's wheat supplies, and the disruption in global grain supplies caused by the war has affected food security, particularly in African and Middle Eastern countries, and even in our part of the world, due to both higher prices and supply issues.
A deal brokered by Turkey on July 14 with Russia, Ukraine, and the U.N. to resume Ukrainian grain exports that had been blocked by Moscow was celebrated for heralding some hope amid this most mindless of wars in a large, in fact massive European country (even if not the EU), that is industrialised and resourceful. The war's squeeze on energy supply chains-either as a result of the war or sanctions on Russia-mean that the longer it goes on, the harder gets life for the citizens of any number of countries, right around the world.
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