Australian Economy

Britain Braces For More Economic Agony – Foreign Policy

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Britain’s new economic roadmap, Myanmar’s release of political prisoners, and Russia and Ukraine’s extended grain deal.  

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Britain Unveils New Economic Roadmap

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Britain’s new economic roadmap, Myanmar’s release of political prisoners, and Russia and Ukraine’s extended grain deal.  

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Britain Unveils New Economic Roadmap

As a cloud of economic gloom descends over Britain, the British government announced a £55 billion ($65 billion) plan of tax increases and spending cuts on Thursday in a bid to stabilize the budget and calm uneasy markets. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s five-year-plan will likely intensify economic pressures on a public already struggling to cope with a painful cost-of-living crisis. Inflation soared to a 41-year high of 11.1 percent last month, and the country will soon face its largest-ever decline in living standards, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, meaning Britons will see their real disposable incomes decline by over 4 percent.  

Britain has already slid into a recession, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday. In his address, he acknowledged that the government was making “difficult decisions,” although he stressed that the moves were necessary. 

“There is a global energy crisis, a global inflation crisis and a global economic crisis,” he said.  “But the British people are tough, inventive and resourceful. We have risen to bigger challenges before.” 

“We aren’t immune to these headwinds but with this plan for stability, growth and public services, we will face into the storm,” he added. 

Sunak’s economic agenda marks a sharp reversal from that of his embattled predecessor, Liz Truss, who resigned in October after facing sharp political blowback over pushing for unfunded tax cuts for wealthy Britons. 

Soon after Truss’s plan was announced, the value of the pound plummeted to a record low against the dollar and the Bank of England declared an emergency intervention into markets. As political pressure against her economic agenda intensified, Truss dismissed Kwasi Kwarteng, then the chancellor, and walked back parts of her controversial policies before eventually resigning herself. 

Sunak has now been in office for nearly a month, having just attended the latest U.N. climate talks, COP27, as well as the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. As the Financial Times‘ Martin Wolf argues, “The most important achievement of Hunt and Rishi Sunak is to reintroduce a degree of coherence and predictability into policymaking.”


What We’re Following Today

Myanmar frees political prisoners. Myanmar’s military junta freed 5,774 prisoners on Thursday, four of whom were foreign citizens: Sean Turnell, an Australian economic aide to Aung San Suu Kyi; Vicky Bowman, the former U.K. ambassador to Myanmar; Toru Kubota, a Japanese documentary filmmaker, and Kyaw Htay Oo, a U.S. citizen. 

Of the freed prisoners, dozens were likely political prisoners. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, the junta has detained more than 16,000 people since launching a coup in 2021. 

Extended grain deal. Russia and Ukraine have extended the U.N. and Turkey-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative by 120 days, after it was originally set to end on Nov. 19. The deal, which was designed to help ease the global food crisis, has been marked by uncertainty ever since it was enacted in July. 

“I welcome the agreement by all parties to continue the Black Sea grain initiative to facilitate the safe navigation of export of grain, foodstuffs and fertilizers from Ukraine,” said U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. 

MH17 verdict. A Dutch court sentenced three men (in absentia) to life imprisonment for murder in connection with their role in bringing down a Malaysian Airlines jet flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over Ukrainian territory in 2014. The attack on flight MH17, by separatists linked to Russia, killed 298 people—many of them Dutch citizens.


Egypt’s detained dissident. The family of Alaa Abd el-Fattah, the detained British-Egyptian activist, has warned that his health has “deteriorated severely” after seeing him for a scheduled monthly family visit on Thursday. 

Abd el-Fattah, who had been on a hunger strike for months, also began refusing water to coincide with the start of COP27, the latest U.N. climate summit. He began drinking water and eating again this week after a “near-death experience,” his family said, but is intent on resuming his hunger strike.

Italy’s migrant-smuggling rings. Following a more than three-year-long investigation, Italian authorities have apprehended 12 people for smuggling migrants. Officials said the suspects would make anywhere between 30,000 and 70,000 euros per smuggling operation by requiring each migrant to hand over 3,000 to 5,000 euros.


A Theme Park Crisis Is Wrecking South Korea’s Bond Market by S. Nathan Park

Ukraine’s Appetite for Weapons Is Straining Western Stockpiles by Jack Detsch and Amy Mackinnon

Sweden’s Espionage Scandal Raises Hard Questions on Spy Recruitment by Elisabeth Braw 


Researchers believe octopuses may use their many arms to whip objects at their peers, perhaps in an attempt to create some personal space, the Washington Post reported. In an effort to understand the phenomenon, researchers from the University of Sydney studied over 20 hours of videos; one showed a female octopus flinging 17 different objects in just an hour. 

“We can’t be sure, but we think some hits are probably intentional,” Peter Godfrey-Smith, an Australian researcher, told the Post

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