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Monday, 10 January 2022

Supply chain crisis is coming with us into the new year + Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund is jumping on the ESG train

It’s clear the Great Supply Chain Snarl of 2020 is continuing well into 2022 and will push up global inflation, but industry players remain divided on just how long it will last, reports the Financial Times. One of the biggest challenges this year will be unclogging traffic jams to bring down the cost of freight and make space on cargo ships. Two key factors will be how China, which houses seven of the top 10 container ports, copes with bottlenecks that will likely pop up during the upcoming Winter Olympics and Chinese new year, and whether US consumer spending will fall to pre-pandemic levels. Another key factor is dealing with backlogs at US ports, which have outdated infrastructure compared to their Asian counterparts and do not operate 24/7.

What does that mean for international trade? It’s unlikely that the industry will go back to the way it was before the outbreak of the pandemic, insiders tell the salmon-colored paper. Some experts predicted that one medium- to long-term consequence of the current crisis may be manufacturers moving production of complex goods closer to home to offset high transport costs and the absence of cheap Chinese labor. They also warn that fewer direct connections with African nations are raising the cost of trade for these countries — an alarming trend that, if it continues, could exclude those countries from ongoing globalization.

Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund is jumping on the ESG train: The Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) — one of the world’s biggest wealth funds — is looking to make its entire USD 700 bn portfolio fully compliant with environmental, social and governance standards, with a current focus on “the E part of ESG,” Managing Director Ghanem Al-Ghunaiman told Bloomberg. The Kuwaiti economy is one of many Gulf economies that mainly rely on crude, making the authority’s move towards more sustainable financing a significant step as the country prepares for a post-oil future. Currently, over two-thirds of the authority’s assets are ESG compliant, an unnamed source said.

MIT’s Technology Review is calling out the worst tech that came out in 2021: First off on the five-entry list is Biogen's Alzheimer's med, which was given FDA approval in June despite its ineffectiveness in treating the condition as well as its huge pricetag of USD 54k a year. Next up was Zillow’s house-buying algorithm, which it was using to buy and flip houses. With time, it was discovered that it didn’t correctly forecast changes in housing prices and Zillow was forced to shutter its iBuying unit, cut 2k jobs, and take a USD 500 mn write-off. Space tourism got a nod on the list as cool, but largely unessential technology after Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos both jetted off into space this year. Bezos has also unveiled plans to launch a commercial space station “Orbital Reef” as a “mixed-use business park.” Finally, ransomware and social media beauty filters were also on the tailend of a wagging finger.

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