Home Weekly Reviews Economic and Political Weekly 15-03-2020

Economic and Political Weekly 15-03-2020

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World

Politics

· Corona virus: China stabilizes while Europe grapples with outbreak

While new cases of corona virus in China have dropped to single figures for the first time since the country began daily reporting in January, European Union interior ministers are trying to co-ordinate their response to a rolling crisis. Europe is now the epicenter of the outbreak which has spread throughout the 27-nation bloc. But countries are taking individual measures to slow the disease down. The situation contrasts with the improving circumstance in China which as of Friday has 80,813 confirmed cases and a death toll of 3,176. However, more than 64,000 patients have recovered to date on the Chinese mainland.

Trump declares national emergency over corona virus

US President Donald Trump has warned that Britain “and a couple of other” countries could be added to America’s travel ban list, noting the rise in corona virus cases in Britain in recent days.

Asked why he had decided to omit the country from the original travel ban announced on Wednesday, given that several Schengen countries have fewer cases than the UK, Mr. Trump said he had been advised to do so by experts. However, he said he could change this position, and add some countries and remove others from the list. “We’ll be taking another look at that, absolutely,” he said.

Corona virus: Canadian PM’s wife tests positive as Nepal shuts Himalayas

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in isolation for two weeks after his wife, Sophie, tested positive for corona virus, on 12th March, and the outbreak prompted the province of Ontario to shutter schools to limit the spread. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau recently returned from London and experienced flu-like symptoms, so she was tested for corona virus also known as Covid -19, the prime minister’s office said earlier on Thursday. The test came back positive, it said in the evening.

Health minister in Boris Johnson‘s government has become the first British MP to test positive for corona virus, raising fears about the potential spread of the disease in Westminster.

Nadine Dorries, who attended a reception with the Prime Minister and his fiancée Carrie Symonds in Downing Street, said in a statement on 10th March that she had been diagnosed with the virus and is in self-isolation

Corona virus: Italy records over 1,000 deaths from Covid-19

Italy, the centre of Europe’s corona virus pandemic, has hit the milestone of 1,000 deaths since it saw its first cases of the Covid-19 virus in mid-February. On 12th March, the country registered 15,113 confirmed cases and the death toll hit 1,016. More than half of those who are in intensive care in Italy are located in Lombardy province. Hospitals in Lombardy are overflowing with the dead.

Iran announced on 12th March that another 75 people had died of the new corona virus, bringing the overall number of deaths to 429 out of more than 10,000 infections.

It is the highest single-day death toll in the three weeks since the Islamic republic announced its first deaths from the outbreak last month. “In the past 24 hours, 1,075 people have been infected with COVID-19 … bringing the total number of infected people to 10,075 cases,” health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said at a televised news conference. “Seventy-five people hospitalized in the past few days have lost their lives and today a total of 429 infected people are no longer with us,” he added.

Amid all the fears, quarantines and stockpiling of food, it has been easy to ignore the fact that more than 68,000 people have recovered from the corona virus spreading around the globe.

The disease can cause varying degrees of illness and is especially troublesome for older adults and people with existing health problems, who are at risk of severe effects, including pneumonia. But for most of those affected, corona virus creates only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, with the vast majority recovering from the virus. According to the World Health Organization:

·  People with mild illness recover in about 2 weeks

· Those with more severe ailments may take 3 to 6 weeks to rebound

In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed, but more than 58,000 already have recovered.

·I had the corona virus: here’s what you should know

 “The doctor came in and said, unfortunately, the tests were positive. I had Covid-19.” Morena Colombi, a 59-year-old company worker, was an early patient in Italy’s corona virus outbreak that has claimed 1,016 lives in the country. Now recovering in total isolation in her home close to Milan, she has decided to share her story to urge people to follow quarantine instructions, and to avoid hospitals unless absolutely necessary so medical staff can focus on saving people whose lives are threatened.

·Police in Delhi accused of abetting Hindu violence against Muslims

Kaushar Ali, a house painter, was trying to get home when he ran into a battle. Hindu and Muslim mobs were hurling rocks at each other, blocking a street he needed to cross to get to his children. Ali, who is Muslim, said that he turned to some police officers for help. That was his mistake. The officers threw him onto the ground, he said, and cracked him on the head. They started beating him and several other Muslims

Ghani signs decree freeing 1,500 Taliban prisoners to kick start talks while he is in clash with Abdullah Abdullah as both have taken oath as president of Afghanistan.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani has signed a decree to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners as a move to launch direct talks between the Afghan government and the hard-line insurgent group to end the 18-year-long war in Afghanistan, according to a copy of the decree seen by Reuters. The two-page decree – to be made public later by Mr. Ghani’s office – said all released Taliban prisoners will have to provide “a written guarantee to not return to the battlefield”.

Russia opens path for Putin to retain power until 2036 

Russian deputies have backed a proposal that could allow Vladimir Putin, who has ruled the country for 20 years, to remain president until 2036. Former cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space and now a deputy for the ruling United Russia party, told parliament on Tuesday that constitutional changes planned for this year should “reset” presidential term limits, allowing Mr. Putin to run for office again when his current mandate expires in 2024.

Dozens killed in Burkina Faso as unrest spreads across Sahel

Militants killed 43 people during attacks in Burkina Faso this week, turning attention back on the restive Sahel region. The Ouagadougou government said the attacks took place in Dinguila and Barga, two villages in Yatenga province in the country’s north, near the border with Mali.

The landlocked West African country has a population of roughly 20 million.

Sudan prime minister ‘in good shape’ after surviving assassination attempt

Sudan’s prime minister survived an assassination attempt on Monday, when there was an explosion close to his convoy in capital city Khartoum. Afterwards, he told citizens he is “safe and in good shape”. “Rest assured that what happened today will not stand in the way of our transition, instead it is an additional push to the wheel of change in Sudan,” Abdalla Hamdok wrote on Twitter.

Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan walking away from the UK Royal Family joint gathering with not to return

Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, are one of the most famous couples in the world. Harry, the second son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, was introduced to Meghan, an American actress, by mutual friends in July 2016. They were married in May 2018 in a ceremony watched by millions around the world. The two had their first child, Archie, in May 2019. In January 2020, the couple announced that they are stepping back from their roles as senior members of the British royal family and plan to work toward becoming “financially independent.”

Mohammed bin Salman purges rivals to clear path to throne

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has initiated a new round of purges of potential royal challengers with the aim of clearing his path to the succession once his elderly and ailing father, King Salman (84), steps down or dies. Bin Salman may try to achieve this objective before the G20 meeting of leading industrial nations in Riyadh in November. The detained princes are accused of “treason” for contacting foreign powers with the aim of carrying out a coup. The crown prince’s most senior targets are Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the king’s full brother and former interior minister, and his son Nayef, head of the Land Forces Intelligence and Security Authority and the highest ranking member of the Saudi armed forces to be purged. Bin Salman’s repression of Shias has deepened resentment against the Sunni establishment in the oil-rich Eastern Province. By allowing women to drive, obtain passports and attend sporting events, by opening cinemas and promoting concerts, bin Salman has become popular with the young generation of Saudis who have no means to affect policies in the autocratic kingdom.

· Iraq warns of consequences after six killed in US air strikes

Iraq condemned overnight US air strikes on 13 March, saying they killed six people and warning of dangerous consequences for what it called a violation of sovereignty and targeted aggression against the nation’s regular armed forces. President Barham Salih said repeated such violations could cause Iraq to unravel into a failed state and revive the Islamic State militant group. Iraq’s foreign ministry announced plans to bring a complaint to the United Nations.

New Zealand’s Ardern leads Christchurch shooting memorials amid corona virus scare

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on 13th March the country has “fundamentally changed” since last year’s Christchurch shootings, as the corona virus pandemic loomed over a planned weekend memorial. Ms Ardern said the Sunday event to mark the anniversary of the attack on two mosques that killed 51 people was still scheduled to go ahead, but acknowledged that could change quickly if the corona virus, also known as Covid-19, situation worsened.

Economy

The Bank of England has slashed interest rates to a record low and launched other emergency measures as part of a dramatic and coordinated UK response to limit the economic falloutfrom the corona virus.

The central bank said in a statement Wednesday that while the magnitude of the shock from the corona virus remains “highly uncertain,” economic activity is “likely to weaken materially in the United Kingdom over the coming months.” The move follows the US Federal Reserve’s decision to slash interest rates by half a percentage point in an extraordinary move last week .The Bank of England said that slashing its main interest rate by half a percentage point to 0.25% would “help to keep firms in business and people in jobs and help prevent a temporary disruption from causing longer-lasting economic harm.”

Christine Lagarde calls for ‘ambitious’ actions as ECB disappoints by keeping its rate unchanged.

European Central Bank (ECB) president Christine Lagarde called on governments to launch an “ambitious and coordinated” financial response in light of the “major shock” to economic growth caused by Covid-19, as her institution disappointed financial markets by leaving its key interest rates unchanged. “Governments and all other policy institutions are called upon to take timely and targeted actions to address the public health challenge of containing the spread of the corona virus and mitigate its economic risk,” Ms Lagarde said at a press conference on 12th March in Frankfurt.

GLOBAL INDICES AS OF 15th March 2020

As compared to 8th March 2020

Global indices as of 15th March 2020
Name Current Value Prev.Close
US MARKETS
 NASDAQ (Mar 13) 7,874.88 7201.80
EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Mar 13) 5,366.11 5237.48
 CAC (Mar 13) 4,118.36 4044.26
 DAX (Mar 13) 9,232.08 9161.13
ASIAN MARKETS
 SGX NIFTY (Mar 14) 10,015.00 9979.00
 NIKKEI 225 (Mar 13) 17,431.05 18559.63
 STRAITS TIMES (Mar 13) 2,634.00 2678.64
 HANG SENG (Mar 13) 24,032.91 24309.07
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Mar 13) 10,128.87 10422.32
 KOSPI (Mar 13) 1,771.44 1834.33
 SET COMPOSITE (Mar 13) 1,128.91 1114.91
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Mar 13) 4,907.57 4895.75
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Mar 13) 2,887.43 2923.49

 

Global indices as of 8th March 2020
Name Current Value Prev.Close
US MARKETS
 NASDAQ (Mar 06) 8,575.62 8738.60
EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Mar 06) 6,462.55 6705.43
 CAC (Mar 06) 5,139.11 5361.10
 DAX (Mar 06) 11,541.87 11944.72
ASIAN MARKETS
 SGX NIFTY (Mar 07) 10,814.00 10902.00
 NIKKEI 225 (Mar 06) 20,749.75 21329.12
 STRAITS TIMES (Mar 06) 2,960.98 3018.27
 HANG SENG (Mar 06) 26,146.67 26767.87
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Mar 06) 11,321.81 11514.82
 KOSPI (Mar 06) 2,040.22 2085.26
 SET COMPOSITE (Mar 06) 1,364.57 1390.83
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Mar 06) 5,498.54 5638.13
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Mar 06) 3,034.51 3071.68

 

Pakistan

Politics

A Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16 aircraft crashed near Shakarparian in Islamabad on Wednesday morning during rehearsals for the March 23 parade, the air force said.

Wing Commander Nauman Akram was martyred in the crash, PAF confirmed. PAF said rescue teams rushed to the site of the crash while a board of inquiry has been ordered by Air Headquarters to determine the cause of the accident. Shakarparian is a hill in the capital, located near the Zero Point Interchange.

  • Four persons each were killed when a roof collapsed in Swabi and a snow avalanche hit three vehicles in Abbott bad, administration officials and police said on 11th March.

The first incident occurred in Mohallah Balarkhel area of Marghuz in Swabi tehsil on Tuesday night, which also caused injuries to three others. The house had been weakened by recent rain, but the family did not sense the danger to shift to a safe place, an official who visited the house, said.

In accountability court in Lahore on 13th March granted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) 12-day physical remand of Jang Group’s Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakilur Rahman in a property case.

The court had originally granted NAB an 11-day physical remand but extended it by a day when Rahman’s counsel Aitizaz Ahsan said that he would not be available for proceedings on March 24. Rahman was arrested by the anti-corruption watchdog yesterday when he appeared before NAB in a 34-year-old case related to 54-kanal land he allegedly acquired “illegally” in the tenure of then-chief minister of Punjab Nawaz Sharif.

Economy

Foreign inv­estors have pulled out almost one-sixth of their investments, usually referred to as hot money, in treasury bills (T-bills) during the last three weeks as they jump to safer bets to mitigate risks in the aftermath of corona virus pandemic.

Net outflows from the T-bills reached $606.54 million in the first 12 days of the current month whereas total divestment from the country’s capital markets — equity, T-bills and Pakistan Investment Bonds (PIBs) — stood at $671.37m during the period, data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Special Convertible Rupee Account (SCRA) showed on 12th March.

Falling world prices of various commodities owing to the corona virus has diluted the impact of rupee devaluation against the dollar on local prices of imported items.

Market people said that in addition to the declining trend in world prices, local prices of imported pulses, spices, chemicals, tea, palm oil, plastic items etc have remained intact since dollar has been climbing up from 9th March onwards, followed by low demand of these goods in the local market. From its closing value of Rs154.25 on 13th March, the dollar has rose to Rs159.30, thus making imports costlier. Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association former chairman and Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (Kati) Chairman Sheikh Umer Rehan said corona virus has kept palm oil prices under pressure as it had fallen by $25-30 per ton in just one day.

F.C Exchange Rates of PKR as of 15th March 2020 as compared to  8th March 2020
Countries PKR rate as of  8th March 2020 PKR rate as of   15th  March  2020
U.S.A. $ 154.50 159.30
U.K. Pounds 200.50 200.00
Euro 174.00 178.50
Japan Yen 1.44 1.64
Saudi Arabia Rial 41.05 42.20
U.A.E. Dirham 42.00 43.30

 

Pakistan Stock Exchange Indices

As of 15th March 2020 As Compared

To 8th March 2020

Position as of 15th March 2020
Symbols KSE100 Index PSX-KMI All Shares Index
Advance 143 (Curr) Current 36060.88 Current 16856.21
Decline 180 (High) High 36212.38 High 16914.82
Unchanged 12 (Low) Low 34266.91 Low 16019.50
Total change 335  104.19  174.19
Position as of 8th March 2020
Symbols KSE100 Index PSX-KMI All Shares Index
Advance 67 (Curr) Current 38219.67 Current 17891.48
Decline 251 (High) High 39382.11 High 18402.30
Unchanged 24 (Low) Low 38122.96 Low 17856.25
Total Change 342  -1162.44  -510.82

 

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