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Travel Tuesday, the Hardest Geezer and his journey across Africa, update on the Israel-Gaza conflict, and higher than expected British retail sales.

Travel Tuesday: South Korea

Home of the family controlled conglomerates that dominate the economy – these are called Chaebols – and include Samsung, LG and Hyundai.

GDP $1.67 trillion

Population 52 million

Top 3 Exports Semiconductors, Cars, Petroleum products

Trade with UK £16bn

Coastline 2,413km

Next Election 10 April 2024

The Hardest Geezer

Yesterday, British athlete Russ Cook finished the remarkable feat of running 10,100 miles from the South African village of L’Agulhas to Tunisia’s Cape Angela.

The incredible challenge saw Cook run the equivalent of 385 marathons across 16 countries, namely: South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Algeria and Tunisia.

We thought it would be worth taking a dive into some facts and figures around these economies.

The total population of the countries that Cook ran through exceeds 600m, with Nigeria being the most populous country at 220m ahead of Congo and South Africa at 95m and 62m, respectively. Had Cook run this in 2050, according to some estimates the cumulative population of the countries is likely to exceed 1bn and be just shy of 1.9bn by 2100. The vast majority of this population growth is forecasted to come from Nigeria whose population is expected to more or less double from 2019-2050 to become the fourth most populous country in the world.

When looking across all sixteen countries, their cumulative GDP totals $1.575 trn, roughly between that of Spain and Mexico. The largest economy is Nigeria whose considerable agricultural, services and petroleum industry help contribute to an annual output of around $475bn while Guinea Bissau’s economy which is underpinned by agriculture and lumber stands at just $2bn.

The average interest rate of these countries is around 9.5% with Nigeria, Congo and Ghana all bringing up that figure given rates being at 24.75%, 25% and 29% respectively. This comes in contrast to Algeria, Cameroon and the Republic of Congo whose central banks all have rates below that of the Bank of England’s 5.25%.

Regarding the countries’ labour market Benin, Ivory Coast and Algeria’s respective unemployment rates of 1.4%, 2.6% and 3.1% suggests that the countries are at what economists generally deem to be full employment. Meanwhile, Congo has an unemployment rate of 46.1% while South Africa and Angola’s unemployment rate also remains north of 30%.

For more on Cook’s journey and achievement click here to see the BBC’s article.

 

Israel-Gaza

There’s an interesting opinion piece in the New York Times on Israel. It says that Netanyahu risks making the same mistakes as the US did when they took down Saddam Hussein and his ruling Baath party.

The piece talks about the various phases of war and how Israel has proven, as the US did, incredibly effective in the first phase of war, which is the attack, but is not doing so well in managing an occupation, with a view that there should be a transition to local leadership with occupation forces support.

The parallel is drawn because Israel are reporting “renewed insurgency” from Hamas in the north of the country, which means there is a vacuum emerging by where people are able to resume daily life, but with no firm governance established which is giving Hamas oxygen to resurface. The link to the full story is here: Opinion | Israel Is Making the Same Mistake America Made in Iraq – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Staying with Israel; truce talks are still deadlocked after Hamas rejected the latest proposals. Netanyahu has said “this victory requires entry into Rafah and the elimination of the terrorist battalions there. It will happen – there is a date.” But he hasn’t specified the date. Hopes of an Eid ceasefire are now fading after this continued stalemate.

Meanwhile Tehran has said that “the coming days will be hard for Israel”, raising concerns that Iran will carry out retaliatory actions against Israel following their air strike on an Iranian consulate in Syria last week. Retaliation could take many forms, with drone swarms traditional missiles and cyber attacks, or a combination. What would also be interesting is whether Tehran would have the appetite to target any US assets in the region at the same time – so far they’ve limited any skirmishes on the US to being undertaken by proxies, either Hezbollah or Houthi forces.

BRC Retail Sales Boosted on Early Easter

This morning, the British Retail Consortium’s Like-For-Like Retail Sales came in considerably higher than expected as the early easter boosted spending. On a year-on-year basis, retail sales rose 3.5% against a market consensus which was pointing to a 1.8% print. This also came in considerably stronger than last month’s print where sales rose a more modest 1%. Here, an early easter is thought to have helped rive up food sales which rose 6.8% on an annualised basis, though this still came below the 12-month average growth of 7.7%. During the press release, the Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson said that “A strong retail industry can boost investment across our towns and cities, and as we gear up for a general election, it is essential the next government recognises this and rethinks the burdensome costs imposed on retailers.”

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