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August 27: Masks are back! Trump Mug Shot, India Restricts Sugar Exports (Recap ep242)

In this week’s Recap, Marcello talks about the possibility of the return of the mask mandate in the US; A picture of a mugshot of former president Trump has gone viral in the internet; India is restricting the exports of sugar due to the reduced local production, this adds up to its restriction on rice exports.

Brazil’s President called on the BRICS nations to create a common currency for trade & investment between each other, as a means of reducing their vulnerability to dollar exchange rate fluctuations. Officials & economists have pointed out the difficulties involved in such a project, given the economic, political & geographic disparities between the present membership.
In November 2019, a median new home price was $260,000, with a mortgage rate of 4%. The typical house payment including insurance & taxes was $1,700.00. A household income of $60,000 could usually qualify for buying a new home. At present that same house now costs $436K. With a 30 year mortgage at a +7% interest rate the typical payment is $3,700 a month. That necessitates a household income of $115K. As a result, home ownership has become out of reach for many middle class Americans.
Foreign firms trying to leave Russia are facing a big jump in costs as the gov’t there is demanding bigger discounts on assets to be sold. Russia has tightened exit requirements since Western firms started leaving soon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Executives say navigating the rules is becoming more difficult. Russia already demands a 50% discount on all foreign deals after consultants selected by the Russian gov’t have valued the business. Russia also requires a contribution to the Russian budget of at least 10% of the price. Foreign companies have already been hit by losses of more than $80B from their Russian operations.
Brazil to become the world’s top corn exporter, reflecting both a bumper harvest & logistical breakthroughs such as the consolidation of northern export routes, which are boosting its competitiveness. Corn exports through Brazil’s northern ports, which use the waterways of the Amazon basin, are on track to beat volumes via the most traditional port of Santos for a 3rd year. The shift underscores how Brazil, which churns out 3 corn crops per year & still has huge expanses of under-used farm land, is finally overcoming some of the infrastructure bottlenecks that have long made it hard to get its harvests to global markets.
U.S. chip-maker NVIDIA climbed another +3.17% on Wednesday at $471.16 ahead of its quarterly report set for release after the bell. Expectations were high for the chip-maker after its shockingly positive forecast in the prior quarter. NVIDIA has been one of the biggest winners on the back of the artificial intelligence boom. The stock rose another +3% on Thursday at $486.39, after reaching a high of $502.66. after the company reported a beat on both the top & bottom lines as well as offering strong guidance for the upcoming quarter.
10 people have been killed in a private jet crash north of Moscow with the Russian Civil Aviation Authority saying Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group was on the passenger list. Multiple videos posted on social media appear to show the jet crashing. Prigozhin, who is believed to have been on board the flight, shared his 1st video address since his aborted June mutiny which threatened President Putin’s grip on power, just 2 days ago. The mercenary chief, who was sent to Belarus in the aftermath of his march on Moscow, released footage of himself speaking while wearing camouflage & holding a rifle.

U.S. mortgage applications fell to their lowest level since 1995 this week, as interest rates surge. A 30 year mortgage is 7.23%, the highest level in 23 years; US Discount retailer Dollar Tree said customers’ shopping lists have largely narrowed to food & necessities.

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