What started with misery at the pumps due to fuel prices, then air travel disruption rising due to staff shortages will this week spread to trouble on the trains — in the country that gave you this transport mode. A series of national rail strikes, and in London another walkout on the Underground system, are likely to bring the network to a standstill.
The dispute focuses on pay demands and the impact on jobs of efficiency savings made more urgent by revenue decline during the pandemic lockdowns. Government ministers, which as this piece notes now effectively control all rail financing following changes brought in during the pandemic, have been refusing to talk directly with the RMT, the main union calling the action.
Whether this will greatly have an impact on the two British by-elections on Thursday — this week’s main election news — is a moot point given the polling already indicating a double whammy for the Conservatives — one “red wall” and one “blue wall” constituency — amid anger at their leader, and the country’s prime minister, Boris Johnson.
The aviation industry will also be in the spotlight this week as the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) is held in Doha. News here is unlikely to be very positive. Last October, the Iata predicted 2.3bn people would fly in 2021 and 3.4bn in 2022, down from 4.5bn people who traveled in 2019.
Another international gathering this week will be the delayed meeting of Commonwealth heads of state in Rwanda. The venue will provoke some uncomfortable questions for Prince Charles, who will be attending on behalf of the Queen, given the UK’s deal with the country to take British asylum seekers, a policy the heir to the throne had described as “appalling” according to a report in the Times newspaper.
The week will end with German chancellor Olaf Scholz welcoming his counterparts from the other G7 nations for a summit at Bavaria’s secluded Schloss Elmau castle, the same venue as his predecessor Angela Merkel in 2015. The most notable point here, however, is the special guest , India’s Narendra Modi, and whether this will help western powers — Australia will be doing something similar in a state visit to India earlier in the week — in the battle for allies to counter the growing closeness between Russia and China.
Surveys are the theme for this week with a clutch of purchasing managers’ index reports, regional Fed announcements in the US and Germany’s Ifo business confidence figures.
The highlight in terms of central banker speeches — and there are a few this week — will be Jay Powell’s semi-annual appearance in front of the Senate banking, housing and urban affairs committee to give his monetary policy report. And in case you have not had enough data on the cost of living, we will also get more inflation updates from Germany, Canada, the UK and Japan.
The cost of living and trends in shopping will be a discussion point among the global retailing groups gathering in Dublin this week for the Consumer Goods Forum. The chief executives of Unilever, Coca-Cola, Carrefour, Tesco and Walmart are among those on the list of speakers.
Not a lot of diaried earnings this week. FedEx will be reporting fourth-quarter figures on Thursday but this was pre-empted last week with the US delivery company shrugging off concerns about the economy when it announced an increased dividend and two new board members.
Read the full week ahead calendar here