Info seputar HK Hari Ini 2020 – 2021.
Back in the financial markets, bitcoin has plunged 7% after China’s central bank intensified its crackdown, by calling all digital currency activities illegal.
CNBC has the story:
In a Q&A posted to its website, the People’s Bank of China said services offering trading, order matching, token issuance and derivatives for virtual currencies are strictly prohibited.
Overseas crypto exchanges providing services in mainland China are also illegal, the PBOC said.
“Overseas virtual currency exchanges that use the internet to offer services to domestic residents is also considered illegal financial activity,” the PBOC said, according to a CNBC translation of the comments. Workers of foreign crypto exchanges will be investigated, it added.
This has knocked bitcoin down to around $41,600, from around $44,700 last night.
There are also electricity supply problems in China, Bloomberg explains, with high fuel prices and a crackdown on pollution leading to power cuts:
Power rationing and forced cuts to factory production in China are widening amid electricity supply issues and a push to enforce environmental regulations.
The curbs have expanded to more than 10 provinces, including economic powerhouses Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong, the 21st Century Business Herald reported Friday. Several companies have reported the impacts of power curbs in filings on mainland stock exchanges.
Local governments are ordering the power cuts as they try to avoid missing targets for reducing energy and emissions intensity. The country’s top economic planner last month flagged nine provinces for increasing intensity over the first half of the year amid a strong economic rebound from the pandemic.
Meanwhile record high coal prices are making it unprofitable for many power plants to operate, creating supply gaps in some provinces, the Business Herald reported. If those gaps expand the impact could be worse than power curtailments that hit parts of the country during the summer.
Last night, HGV driver Tom Reddy wrote an informative Twitter thread explaining why fuel tanker drivers are in short supply (and also advising against panic buying…):
Motoring body the AA has insisted that there’s no shortage of fuel, and that most forecourts are operating as normal.
Edmund King, the AA’s president says:
“There is no shortage of fuel and thousands of forecourts are operating normally with just a few suffering temporary supply chain problems.
“Fridays and the weekend always tend to be busier on forecourts as drivers either combine filling up with shopping runs, prepare for weekend trips or refuel for the start of the new working week.
King insists there’s no need for drivers to fill their tank specially — as the shortage of fuel tanker drivers was ‘a manageable’ problem:
“Drivers should not fill up outside their normal routines because, even if the occasional petrol station is temporarily closed, others just down the road will be open.
“It is now clear that there have been occasional delays over recent weeks that have been managed with hardly anyone noticing. This was a manageable problem.
“Meanwhile road fuel demand is down to 92% of pre-pandemic levels according to monitoring by the Government.
“Also, the average pump price of petrol has risen half a penny in the past two days when it should be 2.5p lower after cheaper E10 (10% ethanol) became the standard petrol on forecourts on 1 September.”
Grant Shapps insisted this morning that motorists should carry on as normal, saying:
“The advice would be to carry on as normal, and that is what BP is saying as well.”
Asked about the Petrol Retailers Association warning that drivers should keep a quarter of a tank of fuel in their car in case forecourts ran out, Shapps downplayed the issue and said motorists should “carry on as normal” and not panic buy,
“I’m not saying there is no issue. There has been an issue. Although there are stresses and strains in the system, by and large it has not impacted on people’s everyday life when it comes to filling up with petrol.
There is not a shortage of fuel at the refineries.”
But there are some reports this morning of longer than usual queues at some petrol stations, after BP closed “a handful of sites temporarily” due to fuel supply issues
Queues formed at some petrol stations in London and the southern English county of Kent on Friday as motorists rushed to fill up, Reuters reporters said.
This is from the BBC’s Sonja McLaughlan:
Here’s journalist Polly Curtis:
But other people are reporting that there are no queues in the area:
The UK transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said he would “move heaven and earth” to solve the nationwide shortage of truck drivers that threatens fuel supplies at some petrol stations, adding that motorists should not panic as the problem would be “smoothed out relatively quickly”.
Shapps said he would consider all options, including the possibility of issuing short-term skilled worker visas to tap mainland Europe’s pool of potential HGV drivers.
“I’ll look at everything,” he told Sky News.
“I wouldn’t rule anything out. We will move heaven and earth to do whatever it takes to make sure shortages are alleviated with HGV drivers.”
The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has claimed Boris Johnson asked him for an “emergency” deal to ease shortages of an unspecified food product, amid concerns about further disruption to supermarket supplies.
A lack of drivers and food pickers, as well as carbon dioxide used to stun animals for slaughter and create dry ice to keep food fresh, has led to fears that some goods will be missing from shelves in the run-up to Christmas.
Downing Street has urged people not to panic-buy, after the announcement by BP that there may be a lack of fuel at some petrol stations and the managing director of Iceland supermarket warned food supplies could come under threat within days, not weeks.
Government insiders worry about a return to the days leading up to the first coronavirus lockdown, where shelves were left bare as people stockpiled items such as toilet roll.
Bolsonaro made the claim about Johnson’s request after a meeting between them in New York earlier this week at the UN general assembly. The prime minister had stressed the benefits of the Covid-19 vaccine to his Brazilian counterpart.
However, speaking in his weekly webcast to supporters, Bolsonaro recalled that Johnson “wants an emergency agreement with us to import some kind of food that is lacking in England”, according to Reuters, though he did not specify what the product was.
It is understood the UK government regards the claim as untrue. More here.
The HGV driver shortage means consumers face longer waits, and rising prices for goods.
London-based digital freight forwarding company Zencargo CEO Alex Hersham explains:
“We have actually been experiencing a shortfall in hauliers in the UK for a number of years, but this has intensified because of Brexit, which is making it more difficult for hauliers to recruit from mainland Europe, and COVID-19, which is continuing to force drivers to self-isolate. We believe there’s currently a shortage of between 40,000 and 70,000 drivers. Earlier this year some sources are saying 100,000 and there is limited evidence to suggest the situation has changed substantially. This means the available pool of drivers are getting booked up extremely quickly, and prices are naturally starting to increase.
“The upshot is that consumers could potentially face weeks of delays when ordering products online, whether it be furniture, cosmetics, clothes, or bicycles. On top of this, the unprecedented driver demand is increasingly leading to rising bids for those who are available. This additional cost could ultimately end up being passed onto customers. We are hearing that some drivers are switching jobs at the last minute in order to take higher-paid work from companies desperate to get their goods moved from A to B, which is causing even more disruption.
“Despite the UK Government announcing certain measures designed to alleviate the shortage, we are very likely going to experience significant delays, meaning consumers are going to be waiting a while to receive their items.”
Yesterday, home furnishings retailer DFS predicted that furniture prices will rise next year because of production and supply chain bottlenecks.
Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds has said the UK Government’s handling of Brexit was partly to blame for the crisis, by putting extra pressure on the HGV sector.
Speaking to Sky News, Dodds said:
“There are shortages of HGV drivers in other countries.
“I have to say, however, that there have been big failures in planning for this situation and the additional red tape that has been created, which was not inevitable, it was not an inevitable result of Brexit in many cases, but that hasn’t been tackled by Government.
“I talk to advanced manufacturers in my patch for example, and they tell me that now they have got to fill in dozens of pages of paperwork and that is quite a tall order for a HGV driver if they have got to be dealing with all of that, as well as getting goods from one place to another.
“So undoubtedly the Government’s method of implementing Brexit has had an impact overall on the system, but there are other factors that are in play here.
Data released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics showed that additional paperwork and transportation costs remain the top challenges for UK firms exporting and importing.
The ONS said there was a large increase in companies who “experienced a challenge in importing or exporting” in January 2021 [the first month after the UK-EU Brexit deal] with levels “broadly stable” since.
Dodds also urges ministers to listen to businesses who say HGV drivers should be eligible for skilled worker visas.
“And I think their failure to consider whether they need to ask that Migration Advisory Committee about a different approach to shortage occupations – I really do think they should be engaging with business on this and listening to them.”
Consumers have been warned to expect higher prices in the supermarkets within weeks, as the supply chain problems drive up costs.
David Sables, CEO of consultancy Sentinal which advises suppliers to supermarkets, told Radio 4 this morning that the sector face cost pressures across the board.
Shortages of labour in production, the driver shortage, and higher costs for shipping, commodities and raw materials are all pushing up costs, putting pressure on suppliers and retailers to pass those costs on.
We’ve never seen this level of suppliers coming to us and speaking about planned cost price increases.
Sables explains that ten or 12 weeks ago (a typical lead time that suppliers give retailers) people were looking at an eight to ten percent cost price increase.
That doesn’t all go onto the shelf — typically retailers will absorb some of the costs, as will suppliers to a certain extent.
But consumers will see an impact, Sables predicts:
I would expect to see, across the next six to eight weeks, something like five percent of that going across the board onto the prices on shelves.
Shoppers will see those price rises on the shelves “certainly before we start to get into the Christmas period”, Sables adds, so over the next six weeks or so.
Q: So it could well be a more expensive Christmas?
Sables says Christmas is a project ‘all on its own’, as prices tend to be agreed with suppliers earlier in the year, around June.
But that creates problems for suppliers, who have to bear any price pressures that build up after an agreement is reached.
So with fuel prices rising, and CO2 prices also expected to increase sharply, suppliers may need to “go a second time on pricing”, with another wave after Christmas, he adds.
Supply chain problems are also hammering German factories, as voters prepare to head to the polls this weekend.
Ifo, a thinktank based in Munich, has reported that manufacturers are suffering a ‘bottleneck’ recession, as they simply can’t get the components and commodities they need.
This has knocked business morale in Europe’s largest economy, for the third month running.
Ifo President Clemens Fuest says:
“Problems in the procurement of raw materials and intermediate products are putting the brakes on the German economy,”
“Manufacturing is experiencing a bottleneck recession.”
Improving conditions for HGV drivers needs to be part of the long-term solution, hauliers say, but a short-term visa scheme for overseas lorry drivers would help tackle the immediate crisis.
The trucking industry body, the Road Haulage Association, has called on the government to allow short-term visas for international drivers to enter Britain and fill the gap, while British drivers are being trained for the future.
“It’s an enormous challenge,” Rod McKenzie, head of policy at the RHA, told Reuters. In the short-term he said international drivers could help, even if it may be too late to help Christmas, and in the longer term the industry needed better pay and conditions to attract workers.
“It’s a tough job. We the British do not help truckers in the way that Europeans and Americans do by giving them decent facilities,” he said.
The British haulage industry says it currently needs around 100,000 more drivers after some 25,000 returned to Europe before Brexit and the pandemic halted the qualification process for new workers.
Grant Shapps, though, is arguing that it’s a wider problem than just the UK:
The transport secretary has told Times Radio:
“It’s a bit of a global problem so it’s not immediately obvious that opening up visas would actually resolve the problem but we’ll move heaven and earth on this.”
Our financial editor Nils Pratley argues this morning that the government should heed calls for visa rules to be relaxed temporarily for HGV drivers.
Having failed to be swayed by earlier warnings for retailers, the petrol delivery problems should trigger a rethink, he writes:
Higher wages and signing-on bonuses for drivers (well deserved after years of seeing their skills under-priced) can’t alter the basic lack of qualified individuals. Pragmatism is required.
Nobody would pretend that relaxing visa rules is a cure-all, and certainly not one that would come in time for Christmas: EU countries have their own shortages.
And, yes, the long-term answer is obviously more training and permanently higher wages. But the shortage of drivers looks likely to last well into 2022. Tweaking visa rules in preparation would be a minor act of common sense.
Challenged on how Brexit has made the lorry driver shortage worse, Grant Shapps replies that it’s a global problem, with shortages in other European countries too.
He argues that Brexit provided ‘part of the solution’; leaving the EU allowed the UK to change driving tests and double testing capacity.
But…Road Haulage Association warned earlier this month that those streamlined tests are a risk to road safety,
The BBC explained:
Andrew Malcolm, chief executive of the Malcolm Group, was also sceptical, saying the new regulations would result in people who had sat a single test being allowed to drive the largest articulated lorries.
Mr Malcolm told the BBC: “In principle, I can understand what they’ve done, to try to unlock test dates.
“However, I am seriously concerned about the safety aspect. I think they’ve cut far too much out the process of the test – that’s my biggest worry.”
Road haulage firms have also warned that Brexit exacerbated the UK’s existing problems with a shortfall in lorry drivers.
Q: Does ‘moving heaven and earth’ include having a standby plan to deploy army drivers using army tankers to deliver fuel if necessary (as has been reported)?
Shapps doesn’t rule it out:
I’ll look at anything that’s reasonable.
But it’s probably not the solution in “terms of sheer numbers”, Shapps adds.
He says we’re not in a position where drivers have stopped driving, as has happened previously (a nod to the 2000 crisis when protest over petrol duties led to pumps running dry).
Q: So you might, but you hope not to have to do it?
We will always look at all the different things which are required.
Grant Shapps has also spoken to Radio 4’s Today Programme, and also arguing that more testing, higher pay and better conditions should fix the HGV driver shortage.
Q: Long-term fixes won’t get petrol to the forecourt now. How bad must things get before you allow, at least temporarily, more drivers from abroad?
The transport secretary repeats his line about moving heaven and earth, and doing “anything required” to make sure lorries carry on moving goods, services and petrol around the country.
Q: So does moving heaven and earth including allowing foreign drivers come in?
I’ll do anything that actually helps, Shapps replies.
A lot of people have an HGV license, but it’s lapsed in the years since they left the market – often because of cheaper European labour, he claims.
We want to get those people back in, so testing is a very big block on it.
Q: Can that be done in time to avoid shortages?
A lot of people are coming back into the market, Shapps insists, due to higher wages.
He says a UK milk distributor are offering £78,000 to drive a lorry.
The principle bottleneck is getting drivers tested and onto the roads.
Q: So are you ruling out adding EU drivers to the shortage occupation for now, while we hold our nerve [and try to recruit more UK drivers]?
Shapps doesn’t say whether this is going to happen or not, saying just that:
“We will do whatever is required in order to make sure there are sufficient drivers”.
Shapps adds that some of the six million Europeans with settled and pre-settled status to live and work in the UK are lorry drivers — they could be enticed back to the country.
But he argues that bringing in drivers from overseas ‘undercuts’ the marketplace and weakens conditions, creating a systemic long-term problem where salaries become unattractive.
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
Pressure is mounting on the UK government today as a severe lack of lorry drivers nationwide disrupts fuel supplies to some petrol stations across the country.
Ministers are being urged to ease immigration rules as an emergency measure to attract HGV drivers from overseas, as the industry warns that around 100,000 are needed to fix the supply chain crisis.
Speaking on Sky News this morning, transport secretary Grant Shapps says he won’t rule anything out, but insists the real problem is the bottleneck in getting drivers tested, on top of a systemic shortage of drivers over many years.
Asked if the government will add lorry drivers to the list of shortage occupations, meaning overseas drivers could receive skilled visas to operate in the UK, Shapps says:
We’re absolutely not ruling anything out at all. We want to see this problem resolved, but we also want to see it resolved in the long term.
Q: A quick term fix would be short-term visas for drivers in Europe to come and work…
Shapps pledges to look at all possibilities:
I’ll look at everything, and we’ll move heaven and earth to do whatever we can to make sure that shortages are alleviated with HGV drivers.
But we need to look at the things that are going to make a difference, and the big problem is the testing of drivers.
The transport secretary also insists that the pandemic is the principle cause of the problem, as Covid-19 prevented people getting tested to replace people leaving the industry.
He also argues that the short term shortage should be resolved quickly, as there are twice as many tests on offer now.
“Many more tests are being made available now so we should see it smooth out fairly quickly.”
But can it be resolved fast enough to save Christmas?
Last night, Rod McKenzie of the Road Haulage Association trade body accused ministers of “government by inertia”, allowing the situation to get “gradually worse” in recent months.
He told BBC’s Newsnight.
“We have got a shortage of 100,000 (drivers),
“When you think that everything we get in Britain comes on the back of a lorry – whether it’s fuel or food or clothes or whatever it is – at some point, if there are no drivers to drive those trucks, the trucks aren’t moving and we’re not getting our stuff.”
Mr McKenzie insisted at people shouldn’t race out to panic buy fuel or food:
“I don’t think we are talking about absolutely no fuel or food or anything like that, people shouldn’t panic buy food or fuel or anything else, that’s not what this is about.
“This is about stock outs, it’s about shortages, it’s about a normal supply chain being disrupted.”
Speaking on Sky News, Grant Shapps also argues that the UK has relied on importing cheap labour from overseas, and need to make trucking more attractive and better paid – so he very much welcomes salaries going up, attracting people back to the sector.
It also needs to become more diverse, he argues, with most drivers white, male, often over 55, so offering better conditions should help being more people in.
Yesterday, BP said that up to 100 of its forecourts were short of at least one grade of fuel, with several forced to close entirely due to problems with supplies. Esso said that a handful of its petrol stations operated alongside Tesco Express stores were affected, while some of the supermarket chain’s own-branded sites are also suffering outages.
The fuel supply problems are the latest blow to the economy, as the energy crisis, rising inflation, workers shortages and a cost of living squeeze raise fears of a winter, or even an autumn, of discontent.
Britain’s farmers are warning that supermarket shelves will go empty and consumers will panic buy to try and get through the winter unless the Government takes urgent action to alleviate labour shortages.
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) yesterday called for an urgent Covid Recovery Visa to allow firms to recruit from outside the UK to alleviate “crippling” labour shortages across the supply chain.
The head of the NFU, Minette Batters, wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning that the food and farming sector is on a “knife edge” due to a shortage of workers across the entire supply chain…. More here.
Also coming up today:
Financial markets are on edge as uncertainty over China’s indebted property group Evergrande weighs on investors.
Evergrande was due to pay an interest payment on an offshore bond at midnight in New York (5am UK time) – but there’s no official word as to whether it’s paid, leaving investors in the dark.
Evergrande, which owes around $300bn, is caught up in an unfolding storm as Beijing tries to crack down on excessive debt in its property sector…and a default could knock China’s property and banking sectors, weakening growth:
- 9am BST: Ifo survey of German business climate in September
- 11am BST: CBI survey of UK retail sales (distributive trades) in September
- 3pm BST: US new home sales for August