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In the depths of a second peak of Covid19 infections, the inauguration of Joe Biden was simultaneously comforting to see as well as a stark reminder of all that is not well in the world. It was good to see life going on, but Joe Biden takes his seat in office with a wealth of problems to grapple with. A highly divided population, a struggling economy and the pandemic are just some of the issues he will have to deal with during his time in office. He set the tone for his presidency by signing a massive 16 executive orders on his first day - many overturning some of Trump’s more startling presidential decisions.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, but shocking nonetheless, was the release of economic data for the UK showing that the UK government borrowed more in December than ever before. Given that borrowing has been at a rate previously never seen in peace time, the implications on economic growth in the future are a worry for ministers. While this level of debt may make for a difficult investment backdrop in the short and long term, emphasis on good fundamentals should hopefully produce good investment opportunities.
Now three weeks into having left the EU, Britain continued to see a few teething problems in terms of trade.Those problems were arguably exacerbated by the COVID19 restrictions put in place to curb infection rates of the new variant. However, issues such as not having enough customs agents at borders cannot be put entirely at the foot of the pandemic’s door. So, as a result, how Britain copes having left the EU with a trade deal in place is yet to truly be seen, even though markets reacted positively to news of the final agreement.
The US unemployment figures released this week shows that those claiming unemployment benefits have gone down slightly. However, the number of those seeking any form of state aid is still astronomically high. As the globe’s largest economy, its unemployment figures and rates can have a rippling effect throughout the rest of the world as unemployment stunts consumer purchasing and confidence.
Of course, one of the most important things to keep an eye out for is the rollout of the vaccine. If the Government maintains its current rate it should meet its target for innoculating much of the most vulnerable people in the UK’s population by Spring. However, doing so is highly dependent on so many factors - manufacturing of the vaccine being just one very important one. While the vaccine is not the silver bullet to lead us out of lockdown, it is still vital to getting society back to vaguely normal.
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