For many people around the world 2022 marked a return to something resembling normality after two years of the global COVID pandemic. Airlines resumed flights, industries reopened and in many countries governments eased restrictions on social gatherings. Even China, the world’s second largest economy, ended the year with an easing of its controversial zero COVID policy which sparked extensive protests around the country.
This year the global agenda has been defined by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the 24th February, following an ominous build-up of troops on the border since the start of the new year. The resilience of the Ukrainian people in the face of Russian atrocities has been widely applauded, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and “the spirit of Ukraine” named Time magazine’s person of the year 2022.
The invasion instigated a series of interconnected global crises which world leaders sought to contain; sanctions on Russia, the country with the largest natural gas reserves and exporter of 14% of the world’s crude oil supply, triggered an increase in energy and fuel prices which in turn drove up both living costs and inflation rates across Europe. Further afield, the conflict impacted the supply of crucial food staples such as grain, wheat and sunflower oil as Ukraine, known as the breadbasket of the world for its large share of global food exports, was unable to harvest or export produce due to the war. This had devastating consequences for the already drought stricken Horn of Africa in particular.
In the United Kingdom we witnessed one of the most turbulent years in politics for a generation, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson eventually succumbing to a series of scandals over several parties held at Downing Street while the rest of the country endured harsh lockdown measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. A divisive leadership campaign during the summer saw Liz Truss elected by Conservative Party members to become the new party leader and Prime Minister, however her triumph was short-lived as her new economic programme launched by the recently appointed Kwasi Kwarteng caused turmoil in the markets with the pound falling to a record low against the dollar and yields on government bonds rising to its highest in over a decade. Kwarteng’s tenure at number 11 Downing Street was brought swiftly to a halt after just 38 days. Liz Truss did not last much longer under pressure from the back benches, resigning after just 44 days in office as the shortest serving PM in British history and paving the way for her leadership contest opponent and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
As we approach the end of the year, international attention has been focused on Qatar, the first Middle Eastern nation to host the football world cup. The Gulf state’s human rights record and the harsh treatment of migrant workers who developed the tournament facilities have been subject to commentary in the run up to and throughout the tournament. The sheer drama of the tournament on the pitch has come to dominate headlines over the last month, which, in the face of accusations of sportswashing from many observers, will be considered by Qatari authorities as a good return on investment for the most expensive world cup in history.
The Aequitas Global team would like to share their best wishes for the festive season, we hope to see a peaceful and prosperous year in 2023.