It was a tumultuous week. In the United States, Hurricane Ian pummeled Florida and South Carolina. Analysts estimate the destruction in Florida will cost U.S. insurance companies about $63 billion, although the cost of recovery will be much higher. “The total economic damage will be well over $100 billion, including uninsured properties, damage to infrastructure, and other cleanup and recovery costs,” according to a source cited by Max Reyes of Bloomberg.
In the United Kingdom, fiscal and monetary policies collided last week. Britain’s new government plans to encourage economic growth with a stimulus package to offset energy costs and big unfunded tax cuts. The government’s fiscal stimulus plan could spark at the same time Britain’s central bank is trying to tamp inflation down. Investors showed their disapproval by selling U.K. government bonds, which are known as gilts. As yields surged, gilts rapidly lost value, imperiling the nation’s pension funds. The Bank of England staged an emergency intervention, calming bond markets by promising to continue its bond purchases, reported Brian Swint of Barron’s.
Inflation continued to be a concern around the globe. In the U.S., the Personal Consumption Expenditures Index was released last week. It showed prices rose 6.2 percent year-over-year in August. In the 19-member Eurozone, inflation was up 10 percent in September, largely because energy prices are up more than 40 percent year-over-year, reported Elliot Smith of CNBC. In Argentina, the central bank lifted its benchmark rate for the ninth time – to 75 percent – in an effort to tame inflation.
The war in Ukraine continued to affect food and energy supplies, driving prices higher. The agreement between Russia and Ukraine that allowed some grain exports to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa in July and August appears to be in jeopardy. Russia is reconsidering the agreement, and has threatened to reject it, which could exacerbate food insecurity in some countries and drive food prices higher.
On Friday, major U.S. stock indices were in bear territory, closing at 52-week lows, reported Ben Levisohn of Barron’s. The yield on benchmark U.S. Treasury notes rose to a 14-year high before falling back a bit to finish the week at 3.8 percent.