Global Economy

FirstFT: Delta variant sparks UK worker shortage

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More than 700 workers at the UK’s largest car factory are self-isolating as business groups warn that some companies are missing 20 per cent of their staff after being “pinged” by the NHS Covid-19 app.

The Delta coronavirus variant is wreaking havoc on industry with factories, shops and warehouses hit by labour shortages and workers told to self-isolate for 10 days if they have come into contact with an infected person.

Nissan said production in “certain areas” of its plant in Sunderland, the largest in the UK, had been adjusted “as we manage a number of staff being required to self-isolate”.

Covid-19, flu and other respiratory illnesses could overwhelm the NHS this winter, scientists say. Six elected mayors in England have called on Boris Johnson to retain mandatory mask wearing on public transport.

Five more stories in the news

1. Global inflation puts tension on governments Jay Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, said the US central bank was ready to intervene if inflation spiralled out of control, but stressed that he expected price increases to ease this year. A surge in the pace of price growth has revived concerns about overheating.

2. Brussels unveils plan to reduce Europe’s carbon footprint Brussels set out sweeping plans yesterday for the EU to become the world’s first mover on achieving net zero emissions to limit global warming, with a strategy targeting all sectors of the economy and trade.

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3. Heywood’s widow Greensill inquiry fears Suzanne Heywood, the widow of Jeremy Heywood, the former head of the UK civil service, has claimed that an official review into how Lex Greensill came to be working in Whitehall as an unpaid adviser in 2012 would “unfairly” blame her late husband for bringing the Australian financier into the heart of government.

Suzanne Heywood said she was told of the report’s allegations following a three-hour meeting on Monday with Nigel Boardman, the lawyer running the inquiry
Suzanne Heywood said she was told of the report’s allegations following a three-hour meeting on Monday with Nigel Boardman, the lawyer running the inquiry © John Stilwell/AFP/Getty Images

4. Facebook: FTC chair should step back from antitrust case The social media platform has requested that Lina Khan, the new chair of the Federal Trade Commission, step back from deciding whether to pursue an antitrust case against the tech group. For the latest tech news, subscribe to Chris Nuttall’s #techFT newsletter.

5. China economic uncertainty The pace of China’s economic recovery rose modestly in the second quarter after signs of sluggishness in the world’s second-biggest economy stoked expectations of greater policy support.

Coronavirus digest

  • Covid-19 has led to falls in childhood vaccinations, the WHO has warned.

  • New Zealand’s central bank said it would halt bond purchases this month as the nation became one of the first in the developed world to step back from pandemic monetary stimulus.

  • Tui, the UK’s largest travel company, has told staff they will only need to be in the office for one day a month.

Follow the latest with our coronavirus live blog and sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter for more Covid-19 news.

The day ahead

Merkel makes last official US trip Angela Merkel said she would discuss Germany’s differences with the US over Nord Stream 2 during her visit with Joe Biden today — probably her last as chancellor — but did not know whether they would actually reach agreement.

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Morgan Stanley earnings Morgan Stanley will close out this week’s US bank earnings announcements. It follows Bank of America and Citigroup, which reported declining revenues yesterday.

  • It’s going digital: Wells Fargo, Citigroup and JPMorgan together closed more than 250 branches in the first half of the year, as US lenders bet that much of the foot traffic that went digital during lockdowns will never return.

Poland-EU rule-of-law dispute The Court of Justice of the EU is to rule on Poland’s chamber for disciplining judges breaches the country’s EU treaty.

What else we’re reading

The former plastic surgeon behind Tether As the world’s largest cryptocurrency pegged to other assets, Tether is a lubricant for investors moving in and out of more volatile cryptocurrencies — but it is also deeply controversial. At its centre is a man named Giancarlo Devasini.

Private credit joins private equity to freeze out banks For private equity firm Thoma Bravo to get its recent $6.6bn acquisition of over the line, the group turned to private lenders for $2.6bn in debt financing. The deal underscores the firepower of private credit funds and how they are putting that cash to work, according to people involved in recent deals.

What Utoya massacre survivors know 10 years on “22 juli” has become as infamous as 9/11 is in the US. Due to the tight-knit nature of Norway, one newspaper estimated as many as one in four Norwegians knew somebody affected. Here’s how the country’s worst violence since the second world war changed their lives.

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Cecilie Herlovsen was shot in the shoulder, chin and arm, which was later amputated: ‘I am actively working to get out of what I call the Utoya prison,’ she says
Cecilie Herlovsen was shot in the shoulder, chin and arm, which was later amputated: ‘I am actively working to get out of what I call the Utoya prison,’ she says © Andrea Gjestvang

Cuba needs fresh thinking If the country’s largest protests in decades were spontaneous, the government’s response was anything but, writes the FT’s Michael Stott. The response was as old as the challenges facing the single-party state: a failed economy and an ossified political system.

‘One by one, my friends were sent to the camps’ A couple of years ago, Tahir Hamut Izgil was an Uber driver in Washington. Few of his passengers would have known he was also a famed Uyghur poet who came to the US in 2017 fleeing persecution by his government. Now, as he applies for asylum, he has chosen to tell his story. (Atlantic)

Thank you to readers who took our poll yesterday. Fifty-nine per cent said the Tokyo Olympics should not proceed as planned because of Covid-19.


Five eco sunscreens How do you curb your plastic use? Take sunscreen — 72 per cent of which contains microplastics. And that’s not including the packaging. Here’s how to soak up the sun — without a hint of plastic.

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