In today’s Recap, Marcello talks about a number of Starlink satellites that will allow for cell capabilities anywhere on Earth; A massive police response was reported in a Miami mall after a misterious sight of unidentified walking beings was made. Reports talk about a group of teenagers that let off several fireworks. US federal debt has passed $34T making its payment larger than the whole military budget.
Argentina’s cash-starved government will raise $3.2B in hard currency in order to meet debt repayments via an issuance of 10-year bills to the central bank. The new administration of libertarian president Javier Milei is fighting against the country’s worst economic crises in 2 decades, including inflation ratcheting towards 200%, a lack of foreign currency reserves & rising poverty. While the central bank has built up gross foreign currency reserves since Milei took office in December, analysts estimate that net reserves remain some $8B in negative territory. Argentina recently paid some $920M to the IMF, but faces an upcoming capital payment to the fund for about $1.95B in mid-January.
Local news media said on Friday that the South Korean government has reportedly ordered civilians on the border island of Yeonpyeong to move to shelters, after North Korea fired 200 artillery shells into the sea near the island. Yeonpyeong Island is close to what is known as the “Northern Limit Line,” the de facto maritime border that separates the 2 Koreas, which are still technically at war. None of the shells fired on Friday actually crossed the NLL.
The US has become the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the 1st time, with 2023 shipments overtaking leading suppliers Australia & Qatar. The US exported 91.2M metric tons of LNG in 2023, a record for the country. The expanded output was due to last year’s restart of Freeport LNG in Texas, which had been closed for months after a June 2022 fire & explosion. Qatar, the top LNG supplier in 2022, saw its volumes shrink for the 1st time since at least 2016, with a 1.9% decline dropping the nation into 3rd slot for shipments. Australia ranked 2nd, with exports basically unchanged from 2022.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up whether former President Trump can be disqualified from appearing on Colorado’s ballot over his supposed actions surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, setting up a historic case that could upend the presidential election. The justices’ order sets the case up to be heard at a speedy pace, with oral arguments scheduled for Feb. 8 & a decision to follow. Dozens of challenges to Trump’s eligibility under the 14th Amendment have been filed nationwide, though many cases have been rejected by lower courts.
Shippers around the world have been switching away from the Red Sea, the shortest route from Asia to Europe via the Suez Canal used by roughly 1/3 of global container ship cargo, after Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen stepped up attacks on vessels in the Gulf region to show their support for Palestinian Islamist group Hamas fighting Israel in Gaza.
It was reported on Friday that Danish shipper giant Maersk which controls 1/6 of global container trade, is now diverting all container vessels from Red Sea routes around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope for the foreseeable future, warning customers to prepare for significant disruption, while German shipper Hapag Lloyd tallied a big increase in costs of diverting ships. It is expected to cost up to $1M extra in fuel for every round trip between Asia and Northern Europe. Higher costs have stirred worries about a resurgence in inflation, particularly in the Euro- zone.
Finland’s record low temperatures this week inspired a tourist on a trip to the Arctic to try throwing boiling water in the air Lauri Untamo, a 49-year-old sales manager from southern Finland, was on holiday in Finnish Lapland with friends when the temperature fell to minus 30 degrees Celsius (-22°F) on New Year’s Day. Lauri said he boiled water in his cabin, quickly brought it outside & threw it in an arc over his head, surviving the attempt without burns as the water immediately turned into an icy cloud that drifted away. The lowest temperature in 25 years was recorded in Finland at minus 44.3 C (-47.74°F) which was recorded on Friday in Enontekio.