The complete article is here at The Dispatch.
- The S&P 500 fell 3.9 percent Monday, closing more than 20 percent below its all-time high set in January—the benchmark for a bear market—amid continued high inflation and fears of excessive tightening by the Federal Reserve. The tech-heavy Nasdaq has been in a bear market for a while, but the Dow is still about 4 percent above that mark. Cryptocurrency continued its plummet, with Bitcoin at one point on Monday down 67 percent from its November high.
- Seventy-three members of Iraq’s parliament loyal to influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr resigned at his direction Sunday after seven months spent trying to form a coalition government with Sunni and Kurdish blocs in Iraq’s 329-seat parliament. Talks had broken down over who would be president, and Sadr—who has no formal political position—described the mass resignation as a sacrifice to allow the formation of a government. He has previously swapped political negotiations for street protests, sparking fears he will do so again and further destabilize Iraq.
- Blocked by protestors, Libya’s oil output has dropped by 1.1 million barrels per day from last year’s average of 1.2 million barrels per day, Oil Minister Mohamed Oun said Monday. That’s down from about 600,000 barrels a day in April. Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and former interior minister Fathi Bashagha have rival governments each backed by militias, and protestors have targeted oil production and shipping.
- Russian troops are still fighting to encircle the city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, which would give them control of every major city in the Luhansk region of Donbas. Regional official Serhiy Gaidai said Russian forces have destroyed the last bridge to the city, trapping civilians and blocking humanitarian supplies. Gaidai said Russia controls more than half of the city but the situation of Ukrainian troops is “difficult but under control.” Ukrainian officials have warned some units in eastern Ukraine are running low on artillery shells for Soviet-era weapons and do not yet have enough newer artillery pieces to replace the older systems.
- Beijing officials have reintroduced mass testing mandates and closed public venues less than a week after lifting harsh restrictions, warning of a “ferocious” COVID-19 outbreak after the official case count increased sixfold over the weekend. Shanghai officials have also instituted mass testing in 15 of the city’s 16 districts.
- United Nations human rights head Michelle Bachelet said Monday she won’t seek another turn in the role when her four-year term ends in August. She cited personal reasons and said the decision was made before recent sharp criticism from U.S. officials and others for her trip to China—Bachelet made a China-controlled visit and praised its poverty reduction efforts while using China’s counter-terrorism terminology for mass detainment of Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities.
Inflation Sets Another 40-year Record
Not to be dramatic, but inflation has snatched our wallets, chucked them in a grocery cart, doused it in gasoline, and pushed the whole thing into a blast furnace while the Federal Reserve has been running around in the background yelling DON’T PANIC and brandishing a fire extinguisher on a time delay.
University of Michigan reports consumer sentiment has hit a record low. Which is kind of fair, based on Friday’s inflation report. In May, the Consumer Price Index report showed, inflation hit yet another 40-year high of 8.6 percent year over year, reversing April’s fall to 8.3 percent.
Gas prices helped lead the way, rising 4.1 percent from April to May and topping an average of $5 a gallon Sunday, according to automobile association AAA. One Massachusetts gas station owner stopped selling fuel in protest—which seems counterproductive, but we appreciate the thought. Even the IRS has noticed rising gas prices, hiking its maximum mileage reimbursement rate to compensate. “The pain U.S. consumers are feeling at the pump will get worse before it gets better,” analysts at credit ratings firm Moody’s Analytics wrote Thursday, predicting prices may reach $5.50 over the next few weeks, but then forecasting a steady decline.
Other prices outpaced gasoline’s gains. Airfare rose 13 percent from April to May, and housing jumped 5.5 percent. Food overall rose 1.2 percent May over April, including a 5 percent increase in the price of eggs, thanks in part to an outbreak of bird flu. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates this outbreak will spike the price of eggs by about 20 percent this year. Bad news for Gaston.