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Sneak peak at The Debrief: Pakistan in political turmoil after PM Khan ousted

Imran Khan is at the World Economic Forum speaking in front of a backdrop. He has on a suit jacket with no tie. His left hand is raised.

Editors Sophie Perryer and Awais Ahmad discuss Pakistan’s political crisis, plus more from Jimmy Lovaas on Greece raising its minimum wage, Italy easing coronavirus passport rules, a meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve and Russian companies delisting from international exchanges.

These stories and more are also available in our weekly Forecast email and you can subscribe for free.

Subscribing to The Debrief Newsletter is also free. Our next edition comes out May 2nd and features a deeper look at Pakistan’s political turmoil.

This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Jess Fino, Irene Villora, Jeff Landset, Alex Moore, Sophie Perryer and Awais Ahmad.  Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Have feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed? Drop us a note: hello@factal.com.

Forecast Podcast Transcript

JIMMY LOVAAS, HOST:

Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is April 28th.

In this week’s forecast we’ve got Greece raising its minimum wage, Italy easing coronavirus passport rules, a meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Russian companies delisting from international exchanges and a look at Pakistan’s political crisis.

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you can find a link to in the show notes.

Greece raises minimum wage

Information compiled by Jess Fino

JIMMY: Greece will increase the national minimum wage by 50 euros ($53) a month on Sunday. It’s the second increase since the start of the year.

Last month, the country hit its highest inflation level in 27 years amid the rise in energy prices. That’s a trend affecting many European countries and partially triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Greece is also subsidizing most electric bills to make energy costs more affordable for its citizens.

Now, the paycheck rise will mean the new monthly minimum wage will go up roughly 7.5% from 663 euros ($699) to 713 euros ($752). 

The government hopes the raise will help curb future protests after thousands took to the streets in Athens earlier this month demonstrating against rising prices. 

The country will hold elections next year, in August, when this government’s term ends.

Italy scraps coronavirus passports

Information compiled by Irene Villora

JIMMY: Italy will no longer require proof of coronavirus vaccination to enter public spaces starting Sunday.

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced in March that the country would begin gradually lifting coronavirus restrictions after the government decided against renewing the state of emergency enacted during the pandemic. 

Most coronavirus rules were progressively scrapped in Italy beginning April 1 and the special scientific committee in charge of monitoring the evolution of the virus was dissolved.

Now, starting May 1, Italians and tourists will not be required to prove their COVID vaccination or recovery status to access public transport or indoor facilities for sports, culture and leisure, as well as restaurants and other hospitality venues. 

However, the certificate will not disappear entirely. It will still be required to access health centers and care homes.

U.S. Federal Reserve meeting

Information compiled by Jeff Landset

JIMMY: The U.S. central bank will meet for two days beginning Tuesday.

They’re meeting to approve new methods to slow inflation in the United States, including the probability of another rate hike.

As you may recall, as the coronavirus pandemic began, the United States lowered interest rates to keep the economy from going into a recession. 

As the world rebounded, however, inflation rose at a significant rate. To cut that back, the Fed approved an interest rate increase in March. Recently, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled a larger hike would be coming in May.

Now, with Powell’s comments, experts now believe the Fed will continue to hike interest rates for the foreseeable future at a steeper rate than originally thought. 

Some economists warn the cuts are too much and too soon, making a recession more likely because people and businesses will cut their spending due to the increased cost to borrow money.

Russian companies must revoke foreign listings

Information compiled by Alex Moore

JIMMY: Russian companies will be forced to delist from international exchanges by next Thursday. The requirement stems from a new Central Bank order and is part of a strategy by the Kremlin to reduce foreign influence on the economy.

Of course, many of the affected companies are in western countries that have halted trading regardless. 

Exempt from the order are Russian companies that carried out initial public offerings abroad, such as tech giant Yandex. 

Now, the move represents the latest example of economic tit for tat measures between Moscow and the west that have left the Russian economy devastated and isolated. 

With Russia’s more limited war aims making it possible that the war will drag on far longer than many initially anticipated, the likelihood of the crippling international sanctions against Russia following suit appears just as likely.

The Debrief: Pakistan political crisis

Information compiled by Sophie Perryer and Awais Ahmad

JIMMY: Our last item for this forecast is actually an excerpt from an interview Senior Editor Sophie Perryer recently did for Factal’s upcoming Debrief Newsletter. 

In case you weren’t aware, in addition to our weekly Factal Forecast, we also publish a monthly newsletter that looks at big global stories that you might have missed. Like our Forecast email and this podcast, The Debrief is also free. 

For the latest edition of The Debrief, which comes out Monday, Sophie spoke with Factal editor and South Asia specialist Awais Ahmad about Pakistan’s growing political crisis. 

It’s an informative read that you’ll definitely want to check out. 

In the meantime, here’s Awais explaining how ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s troubles with both the military and the public far predate the opposition-led initiative to remove him from office.

SOPHIE: I guess, sort of speaking specifically now about the prime minister, what role does the country’s military kind of play in Pakistan’s political landscape? And what role did the military’s support or lack thereof play in this specific situation?

AWAIS: Yeah, so, immediately what came to my mind was a thing that my aunt once said to me, that Pakistan, it seems, cannot survive without martial law. Which kind of speaks to a very true nature of the country, which is that the Pakistan military has influenced the political landscape of the country directly or indirectly since the very birth of the country, right. So, Pakistan has spent several years of its life under military rule through coups. So from 1958 to 1971, there was a coup. From 1977 to 1988, there was a coup. And then 1999 to 2008 also lived under military rule. So when Imran Khan was elected back in 2018, it was widely believed, though never really confirmed by either side, that the military put him in the government. And he ran what essentially was a “hybrid government,” which was a civilian government with immense support from the military. Now it clearly seems that he has fallen out of favor with the military in recent times, likely due to the role of leadership of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, which they had a very public sort of row over who should lead the intelligence agency, as well as a February trip to Moscow where Khan became the first foreign leader to visit Russia post-invasion, which also rubbed the army the wrong way. So it seems like there are some strings being pulled, I guess, but the army chose to stay neutral throughout the process, but has since denied Khan’s claim of a U.S. conspiracy to oust him as well. So, while throughout the process they approached it in a very “neutral” way and actually had the supreme court go through a constitutional process to deem his move unconstitutional and reestablished the National Assembly, they did not have to kind of force him out in that way, which kind of sets a new precedent in my opinion.

JIMMY: For even more on Pakistan’s political turmoil, be sure to subscribe to our monthly Debrief Newsletter. We’ll throw a link to that in the show notes.       

Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Jess Fino, Irene Villora, Jeff Landset and Alex Moore. Our interview featured editors Sophie Perryer and Awais Ahmad and our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, thanks for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. You can, of course, subscribe for free. And if you have feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing hello@factal.com.

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

Lead photo: Pakistan’s ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan, speaking at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in January 2020. (Image: World Economic Forum.)

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