Hot News on 22/03/2023

Rolling coverage of the latest economic and financial news, including the latest UK inflation report and the Federal Reserve’s US interest rates decision

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of business, the financial markets and the world economy.

The cost of living squeeze is in focus on both sides of the Atlantic today.

Following an increase in interest rates, new startups, old tech companies and SVB are facing hard times

Tech companies and their bank of choice are in crisis: there have been widespread layoffs, and Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) recently collapsed. So what went wrong?

Let’s start with tech companies. There are at least two types: “new tech” and “old tech”. The new-tech companies are usually small and dynamic, and their funding mix is predominantly made up of private capital (typically venture capital or angel investors). Conversely, old-tech companies have a more interesting mix of equity and debt to fund their activity – and therefore a more complex relationship with financial markets and institutions. This is partially down to the different levels of risk of the two asset classes, which also drives their different accessibility to retail investors.

Maurizio Fiaschetti is a lecturer in banking and finance

Four killed overnight in drone attack on Rzhyshchiv in Kyiv region; IMF agrees $15.6bn finance package for Ukraine

Cambridge study reveals the great composer experienced a hepatitis B infection and was at high risk for liver disease

When an autopsy was carried out after Ludwig van Beethoven’s death in 1827, his liver was found to be “beset with nodules the size of a bean”. Now researchers say the cause may not have been alcohol consumption alone, with a genetic analysis revealing the great composer experienced a hepatitis B infection and was at high risk for liver disease – the condition generally thought to have killed him.

Tristan Begg, first author of the research from the University of Cambridge, said Beethoven had been extremely sensitive in his lifetime about suggestions he was a drunkard.

Despite billions spent on the humanitarian response, Somalia faces another year of drought and hunger. We desperately need money, but it needs to be better spent

In Somalia, we are climate-vulnerable, yet we barely contribute to climate emissions. If we are to cope, we need justice in the form of financing.

We’ve seen droughts, but never six consecutive failed rainy seasons. We’ve known displacement, but never 3 million internally displaced people. We were at the brink of famine in October last year, we narrowly averted it, and we’re facing similar conditions today, with 8.3 million people needing urgent assistance.

One person held on suspicion of attempted murder after search of properties in far-right investigation

A German police officer has been shot and wounded during raids on properties across the country in an operation related to investigations of the far-right Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich) movement.

One person was detained on suspicion of attempted murder after shots were fired in the southern town of Reutlingen, near Stuttgart, German prosecutors said.

The Australian Museum’s new multimedia exhibition, The Birds of Australia, traces the journey of the 19th-century naturalist and ornithologist John Gould and his wife, illustrator Elizabeth Gould, as they travelled through New South Wales and recorded the unique birdlife, identifying hundreds of species new to western science

  • The Guardian and Birdlife Australia’s bird of the year returns later in 2023
  • The common and scientific names in brackets reflect the current taxonomy

From low-fat milk to sugar, energy bills to clothing, how costs have soared

The UK’s annual inflation rate unexpectedly jumped to 10.4% in February, adding to the pressure on households as prices continue to rise for a wide range of goods and services.

The Office for National Statistics compiled the overall figures using the consumer prices index but also logs the cost of individual goods and services. Here we break down how those everyday items have shot up in price over the past year.

Love Better campaign includes a video that encourages teenagers to delete their exes on social media and ‘own the feels’

“OK, I’m doing it. I’m officially deleting my ex from all my socials,” a young woman says, looking determinedly into her phone screen. She leans closer and whispers: “I’m moving on.”

The footage appears in a New Zealand government video which affirms the universal truth that “break-ups suck”, as part of an unusual new campaign to support young people through their experience of being dumped and suggest healthy ways to process their feelings.

Chinese capital saw more deaths than births in 2022 as high cost of living and education as well as legacy of one-child policy take their toll

Beijing’s population has declined for the first time in almost two decades, new population figures have revealed.

In 2022 there were more deaths than births in the Chinese capital, home to more than 21 million people, resulting in a natural population growth of minus 0.05 per 1,000 people. It is the first time the population has gone backwards since 2003.

During his Partygate hearing, Boris Johnson was grilled over pictures of a gathering at No 10 on 13 November 2020. Bernard Jenkin asked the former prime minister to confirm the fact that people were standing close together meant guidance was not being followed, to which Johnson seemed to suggest the guidance allowed exemptions. Jenkin replied that if Johnson said this to the House of Commons instead of saying the guidance was followed at all times, they would probably not be having the inquiry. The former prime minister is being questioned by the privileges committee about whether he knowingly misled parliament over Covid rule breaches at No 10

The Vjosa River in Albania teems with more than 1,000 species, while rare vultures and Balkan lynx visit its banks. It has seen off the threat of a surge in barriers, but the shadow of development persists

The fast-moving Vjosa River in Albania curves and braids, sweeping our raft away from the floodplain towards the opposite bank, and back again. The islands that split the waterway in two are temporary, forming, growing, then dissipating so that this truly wild river, one of the last in Europe, never looks the same.

“There’s a saying, ‘you can’t step in the same river twice’,” says Ulrich Eichelmann, the head of Riverwatch, a Vienna-based NGO for river protection, who is paraphrasing the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. “A river is a living, dynamic thing, an architect of its surroundings. It changes all the time. That’s its beauty.”

Member of girl group Twice says she ‘didn’t correctly recognise the meaning’ of symbol on Sid Vicious T-shirt she wore

Chaeyoung, a member of Twice – one of the most globally successful K-pop groups – has apologised after wearing a T-shirt featuring a swastika.

The 23-year-old’s T-shirt featured an image of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious wearing a swastika logo. She posted a photo of herself wearing it on her Instagram account to her 8.6 million followers, but soon deleted it, replacing it with an apology. “I didn’t correctly recognise the meaning of the tilted swastika in the T-shirt I wore,” she wrote. “I deeply apologise for not thoroughly reviewing it, causing concern. I will pay absolute attention in the future to prevent any situation similar from happening again.”

The typically low-key Shou Zi Chew faces his biggest test yet as he testifies before Congress over China influence concerns

Shou Zi Chew is not a prolific TikToker. The 40-year-old CEO of the Chinese-owned app has just 23 posts and 17,000 followers to his name – paltry by his own platform’s standards.

Chew’s profile sees him attending football games, visiting Paris and London, trying Nashville hot chicken, or boating on a lake, often with generic captions. (“Love the outdoors!”). Users have noticed: “Bro the TikTok ceo with 41 likes,” one person commented on his video of the outdoors. “Shout out to this small creator,” another wrote.

Authors of paper accepted for publication in Harvard Environmental Law Review argue firms are ‘killing members of the public at an accelerating rate’

Oil companies have come under increasing legal scrutiny and face allegations of defrauding investors, racketeering, and a wave of other lawsuits. But a new paper argues there’s another way to hold big oil accountable for climate damage: trying companies for homicide.

The striking and seemingly radical legal theory is laid out in a paper accepted for publication in the Harvard Environmental Law Review. In it, the authors argue fossil fuel companies “have not simply been lying to the public, they have been killing members of the public at an accelerating rate, and prosecutors should bring that crime to the public’s attention”.

Artwork reported to be worth up to €50m recovered in operation targeting international art smugglers

A previously unknown painting by the US artist Jackson Pollock has been discovered in Bulgaria by police investigating international art smugglers, officials said.

The work could be worth up to €50m ($54m), Bulgarian National Radio reported, citing experts.

Kyiv remains keen not to anger Beijing given its influence over Moscow, and Zelenskiy is open to a meeting

Hours after Xi Jinping wrapped up a state dinner hosted in a lavish 15th-century palace, where he extolled Beijing’s “positive role” in Vladimir Putin’s invasion, Russia sent a swarm of drones to Ukraine that killed seven people in a town south of Kyiv.

Commenting on the attack, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, wrote: “Every time someone tries to hear the word ‘peace’ in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal strikes.”

International Monetary Fund breaks ground with first such support for a country at war

The International Monetary Fund, the global lender of last resort, has agreed a package of support for Ukraine of $15.6bn (£12.8bn).

The loan, the first the Washington-based lender will make to a country at war, could represent one of the biggest tranches of financial support for Ukraine so far. It still needs to be signed off by the IMF’s executive board, a process which should conclude within weeks.

Burnout, poor work/life balance and ‘unsustainable’ pressures are causing many NHS family practitioners to consider retirement

GPs in the UK have some of the highest stress levels and lowest job satisfaction among family doctors, a 10-country survey has found.

British GPs suffer from high levels of burnout, have a worse work/life balance and spend less time with patients during appointments than their peers in many other places.