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Curtailed: A screen displays trading information for ride-hailing giant Didi Global at the New York Stock Exchange. The company delisted its shares six months after getting market recognition. — Reuters

HAPPY New Year! Welcome to a fresh beginning and one that is filled with hope and expectations.

With the global gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 4.9% this year, as predicted by the International Monetary Fund in October last year, the global economy and markets are ushering in the new year with caution as economic growth expectations are again being disrupted by the Omicron variant which has now become the dominant form for the spread of Covid-19.

Despite more than 9.1 billion doses of vaccines administered worldwide, the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be behaving like a guest who never wants to leave and has been overstaying its unwelcome presence.

Scientists and governments have been battling hard to tackle the pandemic and despite the booster shots and the third dose, while reducing the severity of cases, the number of cases and deaths are persistently and stubbornly high.

With the total number of cases reaching 287 million worldwide and almost 5.5 million deaths globally, the Covid-19 pandemic is indeed a catastrophic event that will leave its mark on the economy and lives for years to come.

The record high daily cases of almost 1.83 million cases globally on Thursday, with more than half originating from the United States, France, and the United Kingdom alone, shows the seriousness of the threat of the variant to the global economic growth trajectory for 2022.

In a two-part series, this column will highlight key factors that will impact the economy and markets with this week’s column focusing on three main global factors, and next week the column will discuss in greater detail five key elements that will dictate the local economy and financial market.

Inflation worries

The year 2021 saw inflation showing its ugly head and governments globally are now battling hard to contain it with measures to tackle the spiralling rise in aggregate prices.

From supply disruptions to pent-up demand, which has gained significant pace over the past year, a runway inflation pressure will just kill off the economic momentum if not contained well, and worse, a period of stagflation will instead prevail – a period of high inflation, slow growth, and rising unemployment.

From what was seen as transitory in the beginning, inflation is now persistently high with the November reading in the US core Personal Consumption Expenditure at 4.7%, well above the United States Federal Reserve’s (Fed) comfort zone of 2%.

While the Fed has fast-paced its tapering move by doubling on the pace of reduction of its bond purchase programme, the Fed is still nowhere near lifting the benchmark interest rate, which remains at the floor of between 0.0-0.25%.


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