The United Kingdom finds itself ensnared in an inflation-driven cost-of-living crisis, a predicament that, according to a recent study in the open-access journal BMJ Public Health, could have dire consequences, including premature deaths and an alarming exacerbation of wealth-related health disparities.
The study, underpinned by meticulous modeling, presents a grim prognosis. It anticipates that the percentage of individuals meeting an untimely demise (before the age of 75) will surge by an unsettling 6.5% owing to the prolonged period of elevated price levels. What’s particularly disconcerting is the disproportionate impact on the most economically disadvantaged households. The research predicts that these vulnerable segments of society will witness a fourfold increase in mortality rates compared to their more affluent counterparts. This grim disparity is exacerbated by the fact that the less privileged must allocate a larger share of their income to grapple with soaring energy costs.
The study’s focus was on the impact of inflation on mortality rates in Scotland during the years 2022-3. It took into account scenarios with and without potential mitigating measures, such as government interventions aimed at alleviating household financial burdens.
Analyzing the collected data, the researchers constructed models to explore the potential ramifications on life expectancy and socioeconomic inequalities for the entire United Kingdom if varying degrees of mitigation were enacted. The unmitigated scenario paints a bleak picture, projecting a 5% increase in mortality rates in the least deprived areas and a staggering 23% surge in the most deprived areas. However, with the implementation of mitigation measures, these figures diminish to 2% and 8%, respectively, albeit still contributing to an overall increase of approximately 6.5% in mortality rates.
This grim outlook extends to overall life expectancy, which is expected to decline in all scenarios. The study underscores a crucial point: the economy’s performance directly impacts public health. It highlights the detrimental consequences of inflation and reductions in real-term income, underlining the stark disparities in how these challenges affect different segments of the population.
In a sobering conclusion, the researchers emphasize that public policy responses, as currently formulated, are insufficient to safeguard public health and prevent the deepening chasm of inequality. The situation remains grim, despite a slight unexpected slowdown in UK inflation to 6.7% in August, though it still maintains its position as the highest among G7 nations. This inflation surge is attributed to a combination of factors, including the enduring impact of coronavirus lockdowns, Brexit, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Bangladesh Triumphs in IMO Council Election-2023
Bangladesh has emerged victorious in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) council election 2023 in category C, securing 128 votes out of the 175-member council. This marks the first time Bangladesh has won in the highly competitive category C of the IMO, as reported by the Bangladesh mission in London.
Following the election results, Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK and Permanent Representative to the IMO, Saida Muna Tasneem, expressed gratitude to IMO members for electing Bangladesh as a Council member. She reiterated Bangladesh’s commitment to the IMO’s charter of actions for dealing with maritime affairs. Tasneem extended thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Shipping in Bangladesh, specifically acknowledging Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her decision to participate in the IMO council election in 2023.
“Bangladesh’s election to the International Maritime Organisation’s elite 40-member council is a testimony of the confidence and trust that the IMO member states and the International Maritime Community place in Bangladesh’s leadership as a maritime nation, led by the prudent leadership of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” stated the Bangladesh envoy.
Previously, Tasneem was elected by consensus as the Vice President of the 33rd assembly of the IMO during which the election took place.
The IMO, as the only UN specialized body, regulates global shipping standards that impact ship-operating flag states, seafarers, and maritime safety, security, and marine pollution.
Bangladesh, heavily reliant on international trade, with 90 percent conducted via the sea, aims to address key issues such as the transition of maritime ports into green and digitalized entities and compliance with the Hong Kong convention on ship recycling and the use of greener fuels. These matters will be on Dhaka’s negotiation agenda at the IMO council during the term 2024-25.
BGMEA Urges Gloria Jeans to Boost Garment Sourcing from Bangladesh
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan has encouraged Gloria Jeans, a prominent Russian high street retail giant, to explore increased sourcing of garments from Bangladesh, particularly focusing on high-value and non-cotton items. The plea was made during a courtesy meeting between Faruque Hassan and Moyeen Ahmed, the regional general manager for Bangladesh and India at Gloria Jeans, held at the BGMEA head office in the capital.
In the meeting, discussions revolved around mutual interests and efforts to strengthen the collaborative relationship between Gloria Jeans and the Bangladeshi garment industry. Faruque Hassan provided insights into Bangladesh’s garment industry initiatives aimed at enhancing manufacturing capabilities, emphasizing the production of high-end products like manmade fiber and technical textile-based garments. Additionally, he highlighted BGMEA’s ongoing endeavors to promote eco-friendly processes and the adoption of a circular economy model in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) industry.
Dollar Slides as Traders Bet on Fed Rate Cuts Amid Inflation Battle
The US dollar continued its decline on Wednesday as traders increased bets on the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates in the coming year, fueled by optimistic statements from officials regarding the battle against inflation. Meanwhile, equity markets showed a mixed performance after another subdued day on Wall Street, with attention turning to the central bank’s preferred gauge of prices, set to be released later in the week.
Recent indicators have suggested a softening in the US job market and a slowing economy, though not at a pace that raises significant concerns about a recession. This has led investors to shift back into risk assets, although profit-taking has restrained the latest gains in anticipation of a potential “Santa rally.”
Market data indicates that traders are now anticipating a Fed rate cut in June, with an 80 percent likelihood of such a move in May. Billionaire investor Bill Ackman has even suggested the possibility of a rate cut as early as the first quarter. The dovish comments from Fed officials, falling yields, and adjusted rate expectations have weighed on the dollar, causing it to reach its weakest level since September against the yen, near a four-month low versus the euro and sterling, and lower against various other currencies.
Fed Governor Christopher Waller expressed confidence in the current policy’s ability to slow the economy and bring inflation back to the target, signaling a positive shift. Michelle Bowman, his counterpart, supported potential rate hikes but remained conditional in her assessment. The market’s reaction to these comments has been significant, leading to a decline in the dollar’s value.
Despite the dovish turn, some analysts noted the potential challenge posed by falling yields, which may limit the effectiveness of higher Treasury yields as a substitute for further rate hikes. Equity markets struggled for direction as investors awaited the release of the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) data, the Fed’s preferred guide for inflation.
In Asian markets, Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Wellington, Taipei, and Jakarta saw gains, while Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Manila experienced declines. The subdued performance on Wall Street persisted, even as reports indicated an increase in US consumer confidence and healthy sales over the recent shopping weekend.
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