The New York Times – Matt Phillips / Virus headwinds hit Wall St. after months of smooth sailing
- Fear jolted the financial markets on Monday as investors realized that the path to global economic recovery after the pandemic would be anything but straightforward.
- For months, investors had been behaving as if they expected a full, smooth rebound from the Covid crisis. From January through June, stocks rose 14 percent, one of the best first-half performances since the late 1990s.
- But the virus’s potential to upend life all over again caught up with investors, as a spate of worrying news — in particular, new outbreaks involving the highly contagious Delta variant among unvaccinated people — led to a big sell-off on Monday.
- The S&P 500 stock-market index had its worst decline since May, sliding more than 2 percent during the day before closing down 1.6 percent. The Dow fell 2.1 percent, its biggest one-day loss this year. Europe’s Stoxx 600 fell 2.3 percent.
- The Washington Post – Taylor Telford and Hamza Shaban / Delta variant fears send Dow tumbling more than 700 points in worst one-day decline of 2021
Politico – David M. Herszenhorn / Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine see joint path to EU
- The presidents of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine on Monday jointly proclaimed their commitment to a European future, standing with European Council President Charles Michel in what amounted to a triple rebuff of Russia, which has menaced all three countries in an effort to thwart their Western aspirations.
- The striking display of pro-EU unity came at the annual Batumi Conference, on Georgia’s Black Sea coast. “We have a lot in common,” Georgian President Salomé Zourabichvili said, standing with Michel, alongside Maia Sandu of Moldova and Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine.
- Monday’s event was a marked triumph for the EU’s 12-year-old Eastern Partnership initiative, an effort to reach out to former Soviet states, that has suffered numerous setbacks over the years and, at times, seemed at risk of doing more harm than good.
- In Moldova, Sandu’s Party of Action and Solidarity won a resounding victory in parliamentary elections this month by campaigning on a pro-EU platform. And in recent years, the Georgian and Ukrainian governments have consistently reiterated their aspirations to join both the EU and NATO.
- Euractiv – Georgi Gotev / Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova seek acceptance of their EU membership perspective
The Economist / Syria has become a narco-state
- Though Saudi rulers have opposed the regime in Syria for a decade, the pill-popping by young people is funding it. For Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, the drug has become a boon—at least in the short run.
- His country has become the world’s prime pusher of Captagon. As the formal economy collapses under the burden of war, sanctions and the predatory rule of the Assads, the drug has become Syria’s main export and source of hard currency.
- The Centre for Operational Analysis and Research (COAR), a Cyprus-based consultancy, reckons that last year authorities elsewhere seized Syrian drugs with a street value of no less than $3.4bn. That compares with Syria’s largest legal export, olive oil, which is worth some $122m a year.
- A recent survey of Syrians in the north found that in January this year 33% said they knew a drug user. That is up from 7% in 2019. So prevalent is the habit that during this year’s Ramadan, in April and May, the prime-time serial on state television was “On a Hot Plate”, portraying a family of drug dealers.
- Foreign Policy – Lynne O’Donnell / The Taliban are breaking bad
Financial Times – David Pilling / Africa’s green superpower: why Gabon wants markets to help tackle climate change
- After years in which its economy depended on oil, Gabon is seeking to reposition itself as a “green superpower”. A rare high-income country in Africa, with a nominal per capita income of $8,600, Gabon wants to diversify as oil reserves dwindle.
- It also wants recognition for preserving its tropical forests, part of the great Congo Basin rainforest — the “lungs of Africa” that are the planet’s most important forest ecosystem after the Amazon.
- Gabon in central Africa is one of the world’s few net sequesters of carbon along with a handful of other countries such as Guyana and Bhutan. Some 85 per cent of Gabon’s land is covered in carbon-absorbing rainforest, an area about the size of the UK.
- Gabonese forests emit about 20m tonnes of carbon through natural decay, fires and deforestation. Human activity from industry to providing power to Libreville, the capital, emits about 15m tonnes more. But the rainforest sequesters roughly 140m tonnes annually, making Gabon a net absorber of more than 100m tonnes a year.
- Bloomberg – Akshat Rathi / Less than 15% of Covid-19 recovery spending went to green energy
Today’s further reads:
- The Economist / What the IMF’s plan to disburse $650bn in special drawing rights means for poor countries
- Project Syndicate – Carl Bildt / The variant threat is real