Then came Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war between two of the world’s largest exporters of food and energy led to a big surge in prices, especially for importers like Ghana. Consumer prices have gone up 30 percent for the year through June, according to data from the research firm Moody’s Analytics. For household essentials, annual inflation has reached 60 percent or more this year, the S&P data shows.

To illustrate this, consider the price of a barrel of oil in dollars versus the Ghanaian cedi. At the beginning of October last year, the price of oil stood at $78.52 per barrel, rising to nearly $130 per barrel in March before falling back to $87.96 at the beginning of this month, a one-year increase of 12 percent in dollar terms. Over the same period, the Ghanaian cedi has weakened over 40 percent against the dollar, meaning that the same barrel of oil that cost roughly 475 cedi a year ago now costs over 900 cedi, almost twice as much.

Adding to the problem are large state-funded subsidies, some taken on or increased through the pandemic, that are now weighing on government finances.

Ghana’s president cut fuel taxes in November 2021, losing roughly $22 million in projected revenue for the government — the latest available numbers.

In Egypt, spending on what the government refers to as “supply commodities,” almost all of which is wheat for its long-running bread subsidy, is expected to come in at around 7 percent of all government spending this year, 12 percent higher — or more than half a billion dollars — than the government budgeted.

As costs ballooned throughout the pandemic, governments took on more debt. Ghana’s public debt grew to nearly $60 billion from roughly $40 billion at the end of 2019, or to nearly 80 percent of its gross domestic product from around 63 percent, according to Moody’s.

It’s one of four countries listed by S&P, alongside Pakistan, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, where interest payments alone account for more than half of the government’s revenues.

“We can’t forget that this is happening on the back end of a once-in-a-century pandemic in which governments, to try and support families as best they could, did borrow more,” said Frank Gill, an analyst at S&P. “This is a shock following up on another shock.”

In May, Sri Lanka defaulted on its government debt for the first time in its history. Over the past month, the governments of Egypt, Pakistan and Ghana have all reached out to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout as they struggle to meet their debt financing needs, no longer able to turn to international investors for more money.

“I don’t think there is a lot of appetite to lend money to some of these countries,” said Brian Weinstein, co-head of credit trading at Bank of America. “They are incredibly vulnerable at the moment.”

That vulnerability is already reflected in the bond market.

In 2016, Ghana borrowed $1 billion for 10 years, paying an interest rate of just over 8 percent. As the country’s financial position has worsened and investors have backed away, the yield — indicative of what it would now cost Ghana to borrow money until 2026 — has risen to above 35 percent.

It’s an untenable cost of debt for a country in Ghana’s situation. And Ghana is not alone. For bonds that also mature in 2026, yields for Pakistan have reached almost 40 percent.

“We have concerns where any country has yields that calls into question their ability to refinance in public markets,” said Charles Cohen, deputy division chief of monetary and capital market departments at IMF.

The risk of a sovereign debt crisis in some emerging markets is “very, very high,” said Jesse Rogers, an economist at Moody’s Analytics. Mr. Rogers likened the current situation to the debt crises that crushed Latin America in the 1980s — the last time the Fed sought to quell soaring inflation.

Already this year, more than $80 billion has been withdrawn from mutual funds and exchange-traded funds — two popular types of investment products — that buy emerging market bonds, according to EPFR Global, a data provider. As investors sell, the United States is often the beneficiary, further strengthening the dollar.

“It’s by far the worst year for outflows the market has ever seen,” said Pramol Dhawan, head of emerging markets at Pimco.

Even citizens in some of these countries are trying to exchange their money for dollars, fearful of what’s to come and of further currency depreciation — yet inadvertently also contributing to it.

“For pockets of emerging markets, this is a really challenging backdrop and one of the most challenging backdrops we have faced for many years,” Mr. Dhawan said.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Strong Dollar Is Good for the US but Bad for the World

The Federal Reserve’s determination to crush inflation at home by raising interest rates is inflicting profound pain in other countries — pushing up prices, ballooning the size of debt payments and increasing the risk of a deep recession.

Those interest rate increases are pumping up the value of the dollar — the go-to currency for much of the world’s trade and transactions — and causing economic turmoil in both rich and poor nations. In Britain and across much of the European continent, the dollar’s acceleration is helping feed stinging inflation.

On Monday, the British pound touched a record low against the dollar as investors balked at a government tax cut and spending plan. And China, which tightly controls its currency, fixed the renminbi at its lowest level in two years while taking steps to manage its decline.

Somalia, where the risk of starvation already lurks, the strong dollar is pushing up the price of imported food, fuel and medicine. The strong dollar is nudging debt-ridden Argentina, Egypt and Kenya closer to default and threatening to discourage foreign investment in emerging markets like India and South Korea.

the International Monetary Fund.

Japanese yen has reached a decades-long high. The euro, used by 19 nations across Europe, reached 1-to-1 parity with the dollar in June for the first time since 2002. The dollar is clobbering other currencies as well, including the Brazilian real, the South Korean won and the Tunisian dinar.

the economic outlook in the United States, however cloudy, is still better than in most other regions.

loss of purchasing power over time, meaning your dollar will not go as far tomorrow as it did today. It is typically expressed as the annual change in prices for everyday goods and services such as food, furniture, apparel, transportation and toys.

A fragile currency can sometimes work as “a buffering mechanism,” causing nations to import less and export more, Mr. Prasad said. But today, many “are not seeing the benefits of stronger growth.”

Still, they must pay more for essential imports like oil, wheat or pharmaceuticals as well as for loan bills due from billion-dollar debts.

debt crisis in Latin America in the 1980s.

The situation is particularly fraught because so many countries ran up above-average debts to deal with the fallout from the pandemic. And now they are facing renewed pressure to offer public support as food and energy prices soar.

Indonesia this month, thousands of protesters, angry over a 30 percent price increase on subsidized fuel, clashed with the police. In Tunisia, a shortage of subsidized food items like sugar, coffee, flour and eggs has shuttered cafes and emptied market shelves.

New research on the impact of a strong dollar on emerging nations found that it drags down economic progress across the board.

“You can see these very pronounced negative effects of a stronger dollar,” said Maurice Obstfeld, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and an author of the study.

central banks feel pressure to raise interest rates to bolster their currencies and prevent import prices from skyrocketing. Last week, Argentina, the Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Britain and Norway raised interest rates.

World Bank warned this month that simultaneous interest rate increases are pushing the world toward a recession and developing nations toward a string of financial crises that would inflict “lasting harm.”

Clearly, the Fed’s mandate is to look after the American economy, but some economists and foreign policymakers argue it should pay more attention to the fallout its decisions have on the rest of the world.

In 1998, Alan Greenspan, a five-term Fed chair, argued that “it is just not credible that the United States can remain an oasis of prosperity unaffected by a world that is experiencing greatly increased stress.”

The United States is now facing a slowing economy, but the essential dilemma is the same.

“Central banks have purely domestic mandates,” said Mr. Obstfeld, the U.C. Berkeley economist, but financial and trade globalization have made economies more interdependent than they have ever been and so closer cooperation is needed. “I don’t think central banks can have the luxury of not thinking about what’s happening abroad.”

Flávia Milhorance contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Carbon Farming Is A New Way For Farmers To Make Extra Money

By Alexa Liacko
September 19, 2022

Thousands of farms had to shut down last year due to low profits. Now there’s a new way for farmers to make money.

It’s getting tougher and tougher to survive as a family on a farm these days because the cost of doing business is just getting so high. But there’s a new, environmentally friendly way of farming that’s putting thousands of dollars back into farmers pockets. 

Since 1926, Todd Olander’s family has worked this land to make a living. 

“We grow corn, alfalfa, barley, wheat, rye. I am the last remaining farmer that’s left out of everyone,” said Olander. 

He’s trying to keep his family’s legacy alive, but, to do that, he’s had to embrace change. 

“I’m always open to trying different things,” he said. 

The corn fields that once provided a stable paycheck weren’t making as much of a profit, so he started a malting operation that works with Colorado breweries and distilleries. It’s called root shoot malting.

Mike Myers helps him run it. 

“We wanted to focus on quality more than anything. So that also kind of is why we’ve changed some of our farming practices is to make sure that our barley is the highest quality possible,” said Myers.  

The biggest change to their farming practices: becoming a carbon farming operation. 

What does that mean? When plants grow, they remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it. Now, there are companies making natural compounds to help crops do that better. The goal is to slow or reverse the impacts of climate change and grow crops better and faster. 

Todd is getting paid to try this carbon farming assistant on his crops. 

“It’s not going to replace actually growing the crops. It’s going to be just extra money to kind of offset maybe some of the extra fertilizer costs or fuel costs that we’re seeing,” said Olander. 

It’s earned him several thousand dollars, at a time when every penny counts. The company that he’s working with has paid family-owned farms across the country more than $1.5 million for carbon farming. 

“That’d be my hope is that farmers are going to see the incentive to actually earn a little bit of extra money and they’re going to take some of these steps towards regenerative farming,” he said. 

And Todd is taking his carbon farming one step further — he’s growing radishes as ground cover to keep the soil cool, moist and full of nutrients. 

TODD OLANDER: Once you get the cycle working together, you should be able to eliminate fertilizer. 

SCRIPPS’ ALEXA LIACKO: And that’s better for the planet, too.

OLANDER: It is. Exactly. 

These two know, every farmer that takes on these changes can help better feed our nation and better protect our environment. 

“I think we can reverse global warming. I mean, that’s that’s my hope,” said Olander.  

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

U.S. Inflation Falls For 2nd Straight Month But Remains High At 8.3%

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 13, 2022

Consumer prices were up 8.3% in August compared with a year earlier, but that was down from an 8.5% jump in July and a 40-year high of 9.1% in June.

Sharply lower prices for gas and cheaper used cars slowed U.S. inflation in August for a second straight month, though many other items rose in price, indicating that inflation remains a heavy burden for American households.

Consumer prices surged 8.3% in August compared with a year earlier, the government said Tuesday. Though still painfully high, that was down from an 8.5% jump in July and a four-decade high of 9.1% in June. On a monthly basis, prices rose 0.1%, after a flat reading in July.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, so-called core prices jumped 0.6% from July to August, higher than many economists had expected and a sign of inflation’s persistence.

Inflation remains far higher than many Americans have ever experienced and is keeping pressure on the Federal Reserve, the agency tasked with keeping prices stable. The Fed is expected to announce another big increase in its benchmark interest rate next week, which will lead to higher costs for many consumer and business loans.

Inflation has escalated families’ grocery bills, rents and utility costs, among other expenses, inflicting hardships on many households and deepening gloom about the economy despite strong job growth and low unemployment.

Even if inflation peaks, economists expect it could take two years or more to fall back to something close to the Fed’s annual 2% target. The cost of rental apartments and other services, such as health care, are likely to keep rising in the months ahead.

Republicans have sought to make inflation a central issue in the midterm congressional elections. They blame President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package passed last year for much of the increase. Many economists generally agree, though they also say that snarled supply chains, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and widespread shortages of items like semiconductors have been key factors in the inflation surge.

Yet the signs that inflation might have peaked — or will soon — could bolster Democrats’ prospects in the midterm elections and may already have contributed to slightly higher public approval ratings for President Biden. In his speeches, the president has generally stopped referring to the impact of high prices on family budgets. He has instead highlighted his administration’s recent legislative accomplishments, including a law enacted last month that’s intended to reduce pharmaceutical prices and fight climate change.

Nationally, the average cost of a gallon of gas has dropped to $3.71, down from just above $5 in mid-June. Many businesses are also reporting signs that supply backlogs and inflation are beginning to fade.

Over the past year, prices of meat, milk and fruits and vegetables have soared by double-digits. But executives at Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery chain, said that falling prices for farm commodities like wheat and corn could slow cost increases for food.

Next week, most Fed watchers expect the central bank to announce a third straight three-quarter-point hike, to a range of 3% to 3.25%. The Fed’s rapid rate increases — the fastest since the early 1980s — typically lead to higher costs for mortgages, auto loans and business loans, with the goal of slowing growth and reducing inflation. The average 30-year mortgage rate jumped to nearly 5.9% last week, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac, the highest figure in nearly 14 years.

Chair Jerome Powell has said the Fed will need to see several months of low inflation readings that suggest price increases are falling back toward its 2% target before it might suspend its rate hikes.

Wages are still rising at a strong pace — before adjusting for inflation — which has elevated demand for apartments as more people move out on their own. A shortage of available houses has also forced more people to keep renting, thereby intensifying competition for apartments.

Rising rents and more expensive services, such as medical care, are also keeping inflation high.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

UN: U.S. Buying Big Ukraine Grain Shipment For Hungry Regions

The shipment is one of several the U.N. agency that fights hunger is pursuing.

The United States is stepping up to buy about 150,000 metric tons of grain from Ukraine in the next few weeks for an upcoming shipment of food aid from ports no longer blockaded by war, the World Food Program chief has told The Associated Press.

The final destinations for the grain are not confirmed and discussions continue, David Beasley said. But the planned shipment, one of several the U.N. agency that fights hunger is pursuing, is more than six times the amount of grain that the first WFP-arranged ship from Ukraine is now carrying toward people in the Horn of Africa at risk of starvation.

Beasley spoke Friday from northern Kenya, which is deep in a drought that is withering the Horn of Africa region. He sat under a thorn tree among local women who told the AP that the last time it rained was in 2019.

Their bone-dry communities face yet another failed rainy season within weeks that could tip parts of the region, especially neighboring Somalia, into famine. Already, thousands of people have died. The World Food Program says 22 million people are hungry.

“I think there’s a high probability we’ll have a declaration of famine” in the coming weeks, Beasley said.

He called the situation facing the Horn of Africa a “perfect storm on top of a perfect storm, a tsunami on top of a tsunami” as the drought-prone region struggles to cope amid high food and fuel prices driven partly by the war in Ukraine.

The keenly awaited first aid ship from Ukraine is carrying 23,000 metric tons of grain, enough to feed 1.5 million people on full rations for a month, Beasley said. It is expected to dock in Djibouti on Aug. 26 or 27, and the wheat is supposed to be shipped overland to northern Ethiopia, where millions of people in the Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions have faced not only drought but deadly conflict.

Ukraine was the source of half the grain that WFP bought last year to feed 130 million hungry people. Russia and Ukraine signed agreements with the U.N. and the Turkish government last month to enable exports of Ukrainian grain for the first time since Russia’s invasion in February.

But the slow reopening of Ukraine’s ports and the cautious movement of cargo ships across the mined Black Sea won’t solve the global food security crisis, Beasley said. He warned that richer countries must do much more to keep grain and other assistance flowing to the hungriest parts of the world, and he named names.

“With oil profits being so high right now — record-breaking profits, billions of dollars every week — … the Gulf states need to help, need to step up and do it now,” Beasley said. “It’s inexcusable not to. Particularly since these are their neighbors, these are their brothers, their family.”

He asserted the World Food Program could save “millions of lives” with just one day of Gulf countries’ oil profits.

China needs to help as well, Beasley said.

“China’s the second-largest economy in the world, and we get diddly-squat from China,” or very little, he added.

Despite grain leaving Ukraine and hopes rising of global markets beginning to stabilize, the world’s most vulnerable people face a long, difficult recovery, the WFP chief said.

“Even if this drought ends, we’re talking about a global food crisis at least for another 12 months,” Beasley said. “But in terms of the poorest of the poor, it’s gonna take several years to come out of this.”

Some of the world’s poorest people without enough food are in northern Kenya, where animal carcasses are slowly stripped to the bone beneath an ungenerous sky. Millions of livestock, the source of families’ wealth and nutrition, have died in the drought. Many water pumps have gone dry. More and more thousands of children are malnourished.

“Don’t forget us,” resident Hasan Mohamud told Beasley. “Even the camels have disappeared. Even the donkeys have succumbed.”

With so many in need, aid that does arrive can disappear like a raindrop in the sand. Local women who qualified for WFP cash handouts described taking the 6,500 shillings (about $54) and sharing it among their neighbors — in one case, 10 households.

“The most interesting thing we hear is people saying, ‘We’re not the only ones,'” WFP program officer Felix Okech told the AP. “‘We’re the ones who have been selected (for handouts), but there are many more like us.’ So that is very humbling to hear.”

In a small crowd that had gathered to listen to stories of children too weak to stand and milk gone dry, one woman at the edge of the woven plastic mat spoke up. Sahara Abdilleh, 50, said she makes perhaps 1,000 shillings ($8.30) a week from gathering firewood, scouring a landscape that gives less and less back every day. Like Beasley, she was thinking globally.

“Is there any country, like Afghanistan or Ukraine, that is worse off than us?” she asked.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Ukraine Defies Russia With Attacks on Crimea, a ‘Holy Land’ to Putin

Credit…Denis Sinyakov for The New York Times

KYIV, Ukraine — The Crimean Peninsula dangles off Ukraine’s southern coast like a diamond, blessed with a temperate climate, expansive beaches, lush wheat fields and orchards stuffed with cherries and peaches.

It is also a critical staging ground for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Connected via bridge to Russia and serving as a home to Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet, Crimea provides a vital link in the Russian military’s supply chain that supports tens of thousands of soldiers now occupying a vast swath of southern Ukraine.

For President Vladimir V. Putin, it is hallowed ground, having been declared part of Russia by Catherine the Great in 1783, helping pave the way for her empire to become a naval power. The Soviet ruler Nikita S. Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine in 1954. And because Ukraine was then a Soviet republic, not much changed.

But when the Soviet Union collapsed nearly four decades later, Russia lost its jewel. Mr. Putin thus claimed to be righting a historic wrong when he illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.

Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Mr. Putin promised at the time that he had no intention of further dividing Ukraine. Yet eight years later, in February, tens of thousands of Russian soldiers stormed north out of the peninsula, kicking off the current war.

In recent days, military targets in Crimea have come under attack, and the peninsula once again finds itself at the fulcrum of a great power struggle.

Military Importance

Early in the war, Russian troops surging from Crimea seized swaths of the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions that remain the key to Russia’s occupation of southern Ukraine.

Crimea, in turn, offers key logistical support for Russia to maintain its occupation army, including two main rail links that Russia relies on for moving heavy military equipment. Crimean air bases have been used to stage sorties against Ukrainian positions, and the peninsula has provided a launching ground for long-range Russian missiles.

The peninsula is also home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, helping Russia maintain dominion over the sea, including a naval blockade that has crippled Ukraine’s economy.

A Place in the Sun

Russia is cold — a fifth of the country is above the Arctic Circle. But it can be positively balmy in the sun-drenched Crimean city of Yalta.

“Russia needs its paradise,” wrote Prince Grigory Potemkin, Catherine the Great’s general and lover, when he urged her to claim the land.

Crimea is where czars and Politburo chairmen kept vacation homes. Before the West imposed sanctions on Russia for illegally annexing the peninsula, it was a place where wealthy Eastern Europeans went to unwind and party.

“Casinos buzz and ping everywhere amid the city’s pine-bowered alleyways,” a New York Times Travel article proclaimed about Yalta in 2006, adding: “Much — if not everything — goes in this seaside boomtown.”

Tourism fell steeply after 2014. But when explosions rang out at an air base last week near Crimea’s western coast, there were still visitors at nearby resorts taking photos and videos as black smoke obscured the sun.

Credit…Reuters

Ties to Russia

“Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people,” Mr. Putin declared in his 2014 address marking the annexation. But his is a selective reading of history.

Over the centuries, Greeks and Romans, Goths and Huns, Mongols and Tatars have all laid claim to the land.

And perhaps no group in Crimea has watched the unfolding war with as much trepidation as the Tatars, Turkic Muslims who migrated from the Eurasian steppes in the 13th century.

They were brutally targeted by Stalin, who — in a foreshadowing of the Kremlin’s justification for its current war — accused them of being Nazi collaborators and deported them en masse. Thousands died in the process.

In 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, allowed Tatars to return to Crimea. And before the 2014 annexation, they made up about 12 percent of Crimea’s population, numbering about 260,000 there.

In 2017, Human Rights Watch accused Moscow of intensifying the persecution of the Tatar minority in Crimea, “with the apparent goal of completely silencing dissent on the peninsula.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

U.S. Inflation Slips From 40-Year Peak But Remains High At 8.5%

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
August 10, 2022

Consumer prices jumped 8.5% in July compared with a year earlier, down from a 9.1% year-over-year jump in June, according to government data.

Falling gas prices gave Americans a slight break from the pain of high inflation last month, though the surge in overall prices slowed only modestly from the four-decade high it reached in June.

Consumer prices jumped 8.5% in July compared with a year earlier, the government said Wednesday, down from a 9.1% year-over-year jump in June. On a monthly basis, prices were unchanged from June to July, the smallest such rise more than two years.

Still, prices have risen across a wide range of goods and services, leaving most Americans worse off. Average paychecks are rising faster than they have in decades — but not fast enough to keep up with accelerating costs for such items as food, rent, autos and medical services.

Last month, excluding the volatile food and energy categories, so-called core prices rose just 0.3% from June, the smallest month-to-month increase since April. And compared with a year ago, core prices rose 5.9% in July, the same year-over-year increase as in June. 

President Joe Biden has pointed to declining gas prices as a sign that his policies — including large releases of oil from the nation’s strategic reserve — are helping lessen the higher costs that have strained Americans’ finances, particularly for lower-income Americans and Black and Hispanic households.

Yet Republicans are stressing the persistence of high inflation as a top issue in the midterm congressional elections, with polls showing that elevated prices have driven President Biden’s approval ratings down sharply.

On Friday, the House is poised to give final congressional approval to a revived tax-and-climate package pushed by the president and Democratic lawmakers. Economists say the measure, which its proponents have titled the Inflation Reduction Act, will have only a minimal effect on inflation over the next several years.

While there are signs that inflation may ease in the coming months, it will likely remain far above the Federal Reserve’s 2% annual target well into next year or even into 2024. Chair Jerome Powell has said the Fed needs to see a series of declining monthly core inflation readings before it would consider pausing its rate hikes. The Fed has raised its benchmark short-term rate at its past four rate-setting meetings, including a three-quarter-point hike in both June and July — the first increases that large since 1994.

A blockbuster jobs report for July that the government issued Friday — with 528,000 jobs added, rising wages and an unemployment rate that matched a half-century low of 3.5% — solidified expectations that the Fed will announce yet another three-quarter-point hike when it next meets in September. Robust hiring tends to fuel inflation because it gives Americans more collective spending power.

One positive sign, though, is that Americans’ expectations for future inflation have fallen, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, likely reflecting the drop in gas prices that is highly visible to most consumers.

Inflation expectations can be self-fulfilling: If people believe inflation will stay high or worsen, they’re likely to take steps — such as demanding higher pay — that can send prices higher in a self-perpetuating cycle. Companies then often raise prices to offset their higher labor costs. But the New York Fed survey found that Americans foresee lower inflation one, three and five years from now than they did a month ago.

Supply chain snarls are also loosening, with fewer ships moored off Southern California ports and shipping costs declining. Prices for commodities like corn, wheat and copper have fallen steeply.

Yet in categories where price changes are stickier, such as rents, costs are still surging. One-third of Americans rent their homes, and higher rental costs are leaving many of them with less money to spend on other items.

Data from Bank of America, based on its customer accounts, shows that rent increases have fallen particularly hard on younger Americans. Average rent payments for so-called Generation Z renters (those born after 1996) jumped 16% in July from a year ago, while for baby boomers the increase was just 3%.

Stubborn inflation isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon. Prices have jumped in the United Kingdom, Europe and in less developed nations such as Argentina.

In the U.K., inflation soared 9.4% in June from a year earlier, a four-decade high. In the 19 countries that use the euro currency, it reached 8.9% in June compared with a year earlier, the highest since record-keeping for the euro began.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

In a Summer of Feints, Russia and Ukraine Try to Predict Enemy’s Next Move

SLOVIANSK, Ukraine — At one point on the front line, Ukrainian soldiers advanced by creeping on their bellies 50 yards at a time, digging new trenches at every stop. Elsewhere, soldiers with the 93rd Brigade captured about three miles of wheat fields — and a Russian tank. Another unit liberated a village last week.

Out on the rolling plains of eastern Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, soldiers and commanders are pointing to these modest gains as a measurable result of Ukraine’s strategy of publicly, and frequently, making its intentions known to attack Russian forces along another front: southern Ukraine.

The Russian Army, Ukrainian officials and Western analysts say, has been diverting soldiers to the south to meet a potential offensive — allowing Ukraine to regain slivers of land in the east.

strike with precision far behind Russian lines.

making a difference, but with everything in this war, much remains opaque: Rumors run rampant, propaganda is pervasive, and both Ukraine and Russia are quick to tout advanced weapons — like the HIMARS — while keeping operational details secret.

Some analysts say Russia’s slowdown in the east has less to do with splitting its attention or Ukraine’s weapons than with a need to rebuild and redeploy its battered forces.

The Pentagon highlighted that problem in a news briefing on Monday, where Colin Kahl, under secretary of defense for policy, estimated that 70,000 to 80,000 Russian troops had been killed or wounded since the invasion began, a staggering loss that exceeds the official U.S. military casualty counts in the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

the podcast “War on the Rocks,” on Monday. But he added that Russian forces were still testing lines in the east, putting pressure on Ukrainian forces in the northeast, and making at least a limited attack in the south. “So you see now a kind of much more active battlefield,” he said.

Regional leaders on Monday outlined the steady toll of that activity. Mayor Ihor Terekhov of Kharkiv, in the northeast, which Russians have bombarded steadily since failing to seize it early in the war, reported at least seven explosions early on Sunday and said shelling continued on Monday, killing one civilian and damaging several homes.

“There is definitely no military infrastructure in this peaceful and densely populated area,” he wrote on Telegram.

In the eastern province of Donetsk, part of the Donbas, the regional official Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram that Russian forces had killed five civilians and injured 17 on Sunday.

In the Donbas, the Russian Army has narrowed its offensive at least for now to an assault on the city of Bakhmut and the towns of Pisky and Avdiivka, all of which are being hammered daily by artillery.

On a recent visit, Bakhmut seemed to be teetering. Explosions and the metallic whistles of incoming shells rang out every few minutes. The only people on the streets appeared to be drunk, poor or elderly, with nowhere to run.

With the enemy close and tensions high, some vigilantism emerged. Residents beat an apparently intoxicated man who had started a fire with a cigarette.

The deputy mayor, Oleksandr Marchenko, said in an interview that Russians were closing in from three sides about six miles outside town, pointing to smoke from burning villages nearby. An outdoor market was reduced to a tangle of twisted sheet metal from obliterated stalls. In one backyard, a body lay under a sheet beside a fresh shell crater.

The fighting in the countryside between the Donbas towns, in contrast, has been a war of small steps that Ukrainian forces say are mostly in their favor. Soldiers are still dying every day, but Russia’s once-punishing artillery barrages targeting front lines have petered out, compared to their earlier furious pace.

On a recent, sweltering summer morning, Sgt. Serhiy Tyshchenko walked a warren of trenches dug into a tree line, tracing his troops’ slow advance on a southern rim of the eastern front line.

The focal point of the war has moved elsewhere, he said. “Our position is not a priority for us or for them,” he said.

He advanced by sending troops crawling on their stomachs at night among the roots and leaves of acacia trees, along three parallel tree lines beside wheat fields. Each time, they dug new trenches, gradually pushing back the Russians.

When he reached the former Russian line, a panorama of garbage emerged: Water bottles, empty cans of fish, plastic bags and discarded ammunition boxes lay everywhere. Flies buzzed about.

“They don’t care” said Sergeant Tyshchenko, “because it’s not their country.”

Yurii Shyvala contributed reporting from Sloviansk and Bakhmut, Ukraine, Maria Varenikova from Kyiv, Ukraine, Emma Bubola from London, Anastasia Kuznietsova from Mantua, Italy, and Alan Yuhas from New York.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

3 More Ships With Grain Depart Ukraine Ports Under U.N. Deal

The exports under a deal are off to a slow, cautious start due to the threat of explosive mines floating off Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline.

Three more ships carrying thousands of tons of corn left Ukrainian ports Friday, in the latest sign that a negotiated deal to export grain trapped since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly six months ago is slowly moving forward. But major hurdles lie ahead to get food to the countries that need it most.

The ships bound for Ireland, the United Kingdom and Turkey follow the first grain shipment to pass through the Black Sea since the start of the war. The passage of that vessel heading for Lebanon earlier this week was the first under the breakthrough deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations with Russia and Ukraine.

The Black Sea region is dubbed the world’s breadbasket, with Ukraine and Russia key global suppliers of wheat, corn, barley and sunflower oil that millions of impoverished people in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia rely on for survival.

While the shipments have raised hopes of easing a global food crisis, much of the grain that Ukraine is trying to export is used for animal feed, not for people to eat, experts say. The first vessels to leave are among more than a dozen bulk carriers and cargo ships that had been loaded with grain but stuck in ports since Russia invaded in late February. And the cargoes are not expected to have a significant impact on the global price of corn, wheat and soybeans for several reasons.

For starters, the exports under the deal are off to a slow, cautious start due to the threat of explosive mines floating off Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline.

And while Ukraine is a major exporter of wheat to developing nations, there are other countries, such as the United States and Canada, with far greater production levels that can affect global wheat prices. And they face the threat of drought.

“Ukraine is about 10% of the international trade in wheat, but in terms of production it is not even 5%,” said David Laborde, an expert on agriculture and trade at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.

The three ships left Friday with over 58,000 tons of corn, but that is still a fraction of the 20 million tons of grains that Ukraine says are trapped in the country’s silos and ports and that must be shipped out to make space for this year’s harvest.

Around 6 million tons of the trapped grain is wheat, but just half of that is for human consumption, Laborde said.

There is an expectation that Ukraine could produce 30% to 40% less grain over the coming next 12 months due to the war, though other estimates put that figure at 70%.

Grain prices peaked after Russia’s invasion, and while some have since come down to their pre-war levels, they are still higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Corn prices are 70% higher than at the end of February 2020, said Jonathan Haines, senior analyst at data and analytics firm Gro Intelligence. He said wheat prices are around 60% higher than in February 2020.

One reason prices remain high is the impact of drought on harvests in North America, China and other regions, as well as the higher price of fertilizer needed for farming.

“When fertilizer prices are high, farmers may use less fertilizer. And when they use less fertilizer, they will produce less. And if they will produce less, supply will continue to remain insufficient,” Laborde said.

The three ships that departed Ukraine on Friday give hope that exports will ramp up to developing nations, where many are facing the increased threat of food shortages and hunger.

“The movement of three additional vessels overnight is a very positive sign and will continue to build confidence that we’re moving in the right direction,” Haines said. “If the flow of grain from Ukraine continues to expand, it will help relieve global supply constraints.”

The Turkish-flagged Polarnet, carrying 12,000 tons of corn, left the Chornomorsk port destined for Karasu, Turkey. The Panama-flagged Navi Star left Odesa’s port for Ireland with 33,000 tons of corn. The Maltese-flagged Rojen left Chornomorsk for the United Kingdom carrying over 13,000 tons of corn, the U.N. said.

It added that the Joint Coordination Center — run by officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the U.N. overseeing the deal signed in Istanbul last month — authorized the three ships and inspected a ship headed for Ukraine. The Barbados-flagged Fulmar S was inspected in Istanbul and is headed for the Chornomorsk port.

The checks seek to ensure that outbound cargo ships carry only grain, fertilizer or food and not any other commodities and that inbound ships are not carrying weapons. The vessels are accompanied by Ukrainian pilot ships for safe passage because of explosive mines strewn in the Black Sea.

After Turkey, which has relations with both Russia and Ukraine, helped broker the food deal two weeks ago, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin later Friday in Sochi, Russia. That meeting follows another face-to-face meeting the two leaders had in Iran three weeks ago.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<