• This weekly wrapper brings you the latest stories from the world of economics and finance.
  • Top economics stories: Regulators monitor crypto and the war in Ukraine; IMF warns of lower global growth forecast; Economists list three future challenges for global economy.

1. Top economics news stories from around the globe

The Swiss National Bank is set to keep the world's lowest interest rate – minus 0.75% – when it gives its latest monetary policy update on 24 March. Other global central banks have raised rates in recent weeks.

Central banks in Argentina and Paraguay both raised interest rates on 22 March.

China's Evergrande Group, which made headlines last year after warning it could default on its debts, will unveil a debt restructuring proposal for its creditors by the end of July.

Russia's central bank has kept its key interest rate at 20% after February's emergency increase. It also plans to start buying Russian government bonds again, but warned of a spike in inflation and the prospect of economic contraction.

HSBC is buying a plot of real estate in an online space called The Sandbox, marking the bank's first major activity in the metaverse. Learn more about real estate in the metaverse in our explainer.

Thailand is set to ban the use of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment, warning that the broader use of such digital assets threatens its financial system and economy.

The US and UK have reached a deal to ease tariffs on British steel and aluminium. This will allow 500,000 tonnes a year of duty-free steel imports, the US Commerce Department said. In response, the UK will lift tariffs on $500 million of US exports – on products including distilled spirits and agricultural products.

Meanwhile, inflation in the UK has hit a 30-year high of 6.2%. The country's central bank is warning of a risk of double-digit inflation by the end of 2022.

The IMF has warned about the impact of rising food prices and the potential effects on vulnerable populations.

Consumers in countries with lower incomes spend more on food and are most affected when those prices rise.
Economics news: Food commodity prices rose by 23% last year, the fastest pace in more than a decade.
Image: IMF

2. Global regulators monitor crypto use in Ukraine war

Financial regulators around the globe are keeping a close eye on the use of cryptoassets during the war in Ukraine, amid concerns they could be used to bypass Western sanctions on Russia.

The $1.8 trillion crypto sector is on the defensive amid warnings from US and European lawmakers that digital asset companies are not up to the task of complying with Western financial sanctions imposed on Russia following the country's invasion of Ukraine.

Some crypto exchanges have rejected calls to cut off all Russian users, raising concerns that crypto could be used as a way to circumvent sanctions.

Ukraine has also raised more than $100 million in cryptocurrencies after posting appeals on social media for donations for military and humanitarian needs in bitcoin and other digital tokens.

"We at the FSB [Financial Stability Board] are monitoring the situation, the conflict situation relative to cryptos," FSB secretariat member Patrick Armstrong told a City & Financial conference in London.

3. IMF set to cut 2022 global growth forecast

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is set to lower its global growth forecast for this year as a result of the war in Ukraine, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told Foreign Policy magazine. She also warned of recession risks in a number of countries.

The global economy is still set to expand this year, but by less than the 4.4% previously anticipated.

Some economies are in a better position to cope with the economic shocks of the Russian invasion, but "those that were not yet coming out of the COVID crisis, that were falling further behind, they're going to be bit even harder", she said.

And as central banks respond to rising inflation, any tightening of financial conditions could be a "big shock" to many emerging markets, Georgieva warned.

Food

What is the World Economic Forum doing to help ensure global food security?

Two billion people in the world currently suffer from malnutrition and according to some estimates, we need 60% more food to feed the global population by 2050. Yet the agricultural sector is ill-equipped to meet this demand: 700 million of its workers currently live in poverty, and it is already responsible for 70% of the world’s water consumption and 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

New technologies could help our food systems become more sustainable and efficient, but unfortunately the agricultural sector has fallen behind other sectors in terms of technology adoption.

Launched in 2018, the Forum’s Innovation with a Purpose Platform is a large-scale partnership that facilitates the adoption of new technologies and other innovations to transform the way we produce, distribute and consume our food.

With research, increasing investments in new agriculture technologies and the integration of local and regional initiatives aimed at enhancing food security, the platform is working with over 50 partner institutions and 1,000 leaders around the world to leverage emerging technologies to make our food systems more sustainable, inclusive and efficient.

Learn more about Innovation with a Purpose's impact and contact us to see how you can get involved.

Economics research to read this week

A new survey by Fidelity shows that almost half of next-generation Americans don't see a point in saving for retirement until things return to normal.

Next Gen Americans retirement plans
COVID-19 disrupted retirement planning for many.
Image: Fidelity

Wondering about the impact of working from home on productivity? New research looks at Japan.

A new report looks at three major future economic challenges – and some possible solutions.

The impact of air pollution on "non-health" outcomes from labour productivity to decision making? A National Bureau of Economic Research working paper explores.