Globally, people are experiencing inflation at levels not seen for decades as prices surge for essentials like food, heating, transport and accommodation. And though a peak could be in sight, the effects may yet get worse.
How did we get here? In two words: pandemic and war.
A long and comfortable period of scant inflation and low-interest rates ended abruptly after COVID-19 struck, as governments and central banks kept locked-down businesses and households afloat with trillions of dollars of support.
That lifeline kept workers from joining dole queues, businesses from going broke and house prices from crashing. But it also knocked supply and demand out of kilter as never before.
By 2021, as lockdowns ended and the global economy grew at its fastest post-recession pace in 80 years, all that stimulus money overwhelmed the world’s trading system.
Factories that had been idled could not ratchet up fast enough to meet demand, COVID-safe rules caused labour shortages in retail, transport and healthcare, and the recovery boom caused a spike in energy prices.
If that wasn’t enough, Russia invaded Ukraine in February and Western sanctions on the major oil and gas exporter sent fuel prices yet higher.
Why it matters
Known as a “tax on the poor” because it hits those on low incomes the hardest, double-digit inflation has exacerbated inequalities worldwide. While wealthier consumers can rely on savings built up during pandemic lockdowns, others struggle to make ends meet and a growing number rely on food banks.
With winter setting in across the northern hemisphere, that squeeze on living costs will tighten as fuel bills soar. Workers have taken strike action in sectors from healthcare to aviation to demand that wages keep pace with inflation. In most cases, they are having to settle for less.
Cost of living concerns dominate the politics of rich nations – in some cases relegating other priorities, such as climate change action.
While recent falls in gasoline prices have eased some of the pressure, inflation remains a top focus for US President Joe Biden’s administration. France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz are stretching their budgets to channel billions of euros into support programmes.
But if things are tough in industrialised economies, rocketing food prices are worsening poverty and suffering in poorer countries, from Haiti to Sudan and Lebanon to Sri Lanka.
The World Food Programme estimates an extra 70 million people worldwide have been driven closer to starvation since the start of the Ukraine war in what it calls a “tsunami of hunger”.
What does it mean for 2023?
The world’s central banks have embarked on steep interest rate hikes to cool demand and tame inflation. By the end of 2023, the International Monetary Fund expects global inflation to have fallen to 4.7% – just less than half its current level.
The aim is for a “soft landing” in which the cooling-off happens without housing market crashes, business bankruptcies or surging joblessness. But such a best-case scenario has proven elusive in past encounters with high inflation.
From US Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell to the European Central Bank’s Christine Lagarde, there is growing talk that rate-hike medicine may taste bitter. On top of that, risks surrounding the big uncertainties – the Ukraine war, tensions between China and the West – are skewed to the downside.
The IMF’s regular October outlook was one of the bleakest for years, stating: “In short, the worst is yet to come and for many people, 2023 will feel like a recession.”
PKR on track to become top-performing currency this month: Bloomberg
- Pakistani currency rose around 6% this month against dollar.
- Authorities curb leakages happening through illegal channels.
- Crackdown on illegal dollar traders helps local currency.
The Pakistani rupee is on track to become the top performer globally in September as the caretaker government continues its crackdown on illegal dollar trade, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
The local currency rose around 6% this month against the dollar — an amazing feat despite the Thai baht and South Korean won tumbling against the greenback.
Major currencies lost ground against the dollar on speculations that the US interest rates will stay elevated for longer.
The rupee increased 0.1% to 287.95 per dollar on Thursday, after sliding to a record low of about 307 this month. Pakistan’s currency market will remain closed for the Eid Miladun Nabi holiday on Friday.
“Many leakages were happening through illegal channels of hawala and hundi trade from the open market,” Khurram Schehzad, chief executive officer of Alpha Beta Core Solutions Pvt Ltd, told Bloomberg.
“When the dollar rate reverses everybody, the hoarders, the exporters who are holding their export proceeds, start selling their dollars,” Schehzad said.
The interim rulers have intensified efforts by launching a crackdown on people involved in the illegal dollar trade, allowing the currency to gain some lost ground.
The Federal Investigation Agency, Bloomberg reported, conducted raids across the country and security officials in plainclothes were deployed at money exchanges to monitor dollar sales as part of the crackdown.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar this week said the rupee’s gain is “fostering optimism for stability.”
For its part, the State Bank of Pakistan raised the capital requirements of smaller exchange companies and ordered large banks to open their own exchange companies to make the retail foreign exchange market more transparent and easier to monitor.
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inDrive now available in five more Pakistani cities
KARACHI: inDrive, a popular ride-hailing service in Pakistan, has now expanded its network to five more cities across Pakistan including Larkana, Kāmoke, Sheikhupura, Hafizabad, and Okara.
In a statement issued by the transport company, the inclusion of these cities reflects inDrive’s dedication to bringing innovative transportation options to both urban centres and suburban areas.
Speaking about the expansion, Senior Business Representative at inDrive Hasan Qureshi said: “We are excited to extend the convenience and reliability of inDrive to residents of Larkana, Kāmoke, Sheikhupura, Hafizabad, and Okara.”
“Our mission is to redefine transportation by providing safe, affordable, and accessible rides to everyone. With this expansion, we are not only enhancing the commuting experience but also contributing to the economic growth and empowerment of these communities.”
PR Manager Sidra Kiran said that their new service offers city residents the convenience of accessing transport from their homes, eliminating the need to search for it.
“Both drivers and passengers stand to gain significant benefits, including time-saving and the elimination of challenges associated with street hailing. This service addresses issues such as locating rides during odd hours like early mornings or late nights,” she stated.
She further added: “inDrive ride-hailing presents numerous benefits to drivers in small cities, including flexible opportunities, reduced unemployment, supplemental income, enhanced community connection, and positive contributions to the local economy.”
The launch of the company in these cities would benefit both riders and driver-partners.
inDrive further said that it remains committed to upholding the highest standards of safety, affordability, customer service, and technological innovation.
inDrive is Pakistan’s premier ride-hailing service and is revolutionising the way people travel. With a commitment to providing safe, affordable, and reliable transportation.
The company allowed riders to connect with nearby drivers with its app.
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