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Global economy 2023: how countries around the world are tackling the cost of living crisis

Price inflation has hit countries differently, but most central banks and governments are concerned about the rising cost of living in 2023.



Many countries are dealing with a rapidly rising cost of living. Billion Photos/Shutterstock

The rising cost of living is biting businesses and households around the world. Editors from across The Conversation’s international network have asked local academic experts to explain how their countries and regions are tackling this issue, as well as the 2023 outlook for prices and interest rates where they live.

This article is the third in our series on where the global economy is heading in 2023. It follows recent articles on inflation and energy.

UK: recession on the horizon

At first sight, the UK’s cost of living crisis might look fairly mild compared to other countries. Its inflation rate was 10.7% in November 2022, compared to 12.6% in Italy, 16.% in Poland and over 20% in Hungary and Estonia. But the Bank of England expects a recession in the UK this year – possibly lasting until mid-2024.

This is because the proportion of UK households that lack insulation against financial setbacks is unusually large for a wealthy economy. One pre-pandemic survey found that 3 million people in the UK would fall into poverty if they missed one pay cheque, with the country’s high housing costs being a key source of vulnerability. Another recently suggested that one-third of UK adults would struggle if their costs rose by just £20 a month.

The pandemic saw over 4 million households take on extra debt with almost as many falling behind on repaying it. And recent jumps in energy and food bills will push many over the edge, especially if heating costs remain high when the present government cap on energy prices ends in April.

UK governments have been stealthily raising taxes since 2010 and in real terms (adjusting for inflation) typical UK household income was already 2% lower in 2018 than in 2007. But real incomes have been further eroded over the past year since the UK’s 10.7% inflation rate (as of November) is far above the pay increases many employees have had to settle for in recent months.

But recent events have forced the government to make decisions that were not necessarily aligned with the looming recession. In September 2022, Liz Truss became prime minister with bold pledges to cure the UK’s economic malaise. The global financial markets responded dramatically to her tax cutting plans by hiking the interest they charge the UK government and businesses to borrow. This forced the newly installed chancellor Jeremy Hunt to embark on another round of public spending cuts and tax increases in November – actions governments usually reserve for the height of a boom, not the eve of a slump.

Read more: How bonds work and why everyone is talking about them right now: a finance expert explains

A union jack, British flag, flies above the bank of england building in London.
Bank of England, London. aslysun / Shutterstock

The Bank of England is also doing the opposite of what central banks prefer to do before a downturn. High inflation forced it to raise rates to 3.5% in December, with more rises expected in 2023. This boosts debt repayments for the millions who’ve borrowed to buy their homes, not to mention those with unsecured credit card or overdraft debt.

All of these additional costs subtract from a household’s disposable income. And because household consumption makes up close to 60% of all spending in the UK economy, this will inevitably lead to recession – which could well turn out to be very painful and very long.

US: central bank signals caution

Inflation increased significantly in the US in late 2021 and early 2022, reaching levels higher than at any time in the last 40 years. The Federal Reserve responded by aggressively raising its benchmark rate (the federal funds rate) seven times since March in an effort to stabilise prices. A couple of smaller increases are expected in 2023.

The US consumer price index, a standard measure of inflation, shows that prices peaked in June 2022, increasing by 9.1% over the previous year. The index has decreased every month since June, with the November data – the most recent available – indicating that US prices are 7.1% over the prior 12 months.

The fed funds rate serves as a benchmark for other interest rates, such as mortgage rates. Its recent increases have started to reduce demand for goods and services and investment. For example, existing home sales in November were 7.7% lower than in October and are down over a third from a year earlier. The underlying reason is that mortgage interest rates have more than doubled to over 6%, after reaching 7% in October, from 3% in the beginning of 2021.

The ripple effects of the reduction in housing demand will continue to slow economic activity for months to come because some of the impacts of monetary policy occur with a lag.

A for sale sign outside a family house.
US housing demand is falling. Juice Flair / Shutterstock

The Fed is now signalling that it will continue to raise interest rates in early 2023 before pausing, a cautious approach that is justified by a variety of economic data. This is partly due to continued strength in the labour market as unemployment remains low, wages that haven’t been adjusted for inflation continuing to rise, and roughly 10 million jobs remaining open, according to the latest data. To the extent that companies have to raise wages to attract or keep workers, this may lead to higher prices and persistent inflation.

This issue is especially important given the ageing population in the US and the effect it has on the labour market. At the same time, the recent fall in energy prices is unlikely to continue, so further reductions in inflation will have to come from declines in other areas, such as shelter and food.

Australia and New Zealand: using restraint to ease inflation

The regular survey of economic forecasts published by The Conversation Australia at the start of 2022 was titled: Top economists expect RBA to hold rates low in 2022 as real wages fall.

This forecast for how the Reserve Bank of Australia would set rates in 2022 was spectacularly wrong. The second part turned out to be pretty right: real wages did fall, although not because they continued to barely grow as the experts had been expecting, but because their growth was dwarfed by an explosion in inflation.

After hovering below the Reserve Bank’s 2-3% target band for most of the previous five years, Australia’s annual rate of inflation began 2022 at 3.5% but shot up to 5.1% in March after Russia invaded Ukraine and reached 7.3% for the year to September. The bank expects something close to 8% for the year to December when the figures are next updated in late January.

A map of New Zealand and a red plane with a flag of New Zealand attached to its wings.
hyotographics / Shutterstock

Australia’s neighbour New Zealand has experienced much the same thing, with an inflation rate that also hit 7.3% and has since slipped to 7.2%. But its response has been dramatically different.

Whereas Australia’s Reserve Bank increased its rate in eight small monthly steps from May, either by 0.25 or 0.5 points, New Zealand’s Reserve Bank began pushing up rates much earlier and more aggressively – including a recent 0.75 point hike, even as it forecasts a New Zealand recession.

In Australia – unlike New Zealand, the US, the UK and much of the rest of the developed world – a recession isn’t commonly forecast, largely because of the bank’s restraint in the face of a three-decade inflation high. This approach has served Australia well over the 29 years until the COVID recession in 2020. The country avoided the “Great Recession” after the 2007-08 global financial crisis and the 2001 “tech wreck” recession that hit the US and much of the rest of the world in 2001.

This restraint also reflects a belief among authorities that a wage-price spiral isn’t taking hold in Australia. Wage growth remains mired at 3.1%, well below New Zealand’s 7.4%.

And inflationary pressure seems to be easing. Global oil and wheat prices are down one-quarter to one-third from mid-2022 peaks following Russia’s Ukraine invasion. The Reserve Bank reckons Australian inflation will slide throughout 2023, slipping to 4.7% by the end of 2023, and to 3.2% by the end of 2024, almost back to its 2-3% target band.

By being less hawkish than its global counterparts, the bank hopes to remain on the right side of history.

France: managing price increases relatively well (for now)

Inflation is an area where France appears to be more resilient than its neighbours. In December 2022, the country’s inflation rate (measured by the consumer price index) was 6.1%, compared with 10% in Germany, 11.8% in Italy and 9.3% in the UK.

The main challenge facing countries, and contributing to inflation – or even stagflation (which refers to a combination of inflation and low economic growth) in the case of some economies – is the huge increase in energy prices in recent years.

Faced with this rise, the total French state budget devoted to mitigating household energy bills is set to reach at least €75 billion (£66 billion) across 2022 to 2023, through schemes including energy vouchers and a tariff shield.

These actions have kept the inflation rate well below that of most European economies. In addition, France is less reliant on fossil fuel products, and therefore less vulnerable to energy price fluctuations.

Line graph showing that France's use of nuclear for electricity production is significantly higher than that of the UK and Germany.
Our World in Data, CC BY

While the chart above shows France’s use of domestic nuclear power sources, the chart below shows that other countries rely more on – often imported – fossil fuels.

Line chart showing that the UK, Germany and Italy rely much more on fossil fuels for power generation.
Our World in Data, CC BY

Energy issues aside, countries are also impacted by the global market just like companies are affected by their institutional environment. As a result, future changes in public policy could influence the inflation rate, which may or may not have peaked.

For example, the European Central Bank’s decision to raise interest rates for the first time in a decade last July could weigh on countries’ budgets, giving governments less room for manoeuvre as they try to contain price increases.

Without some regional stability in terms of politics and economics, France may not be able to continue to outperform its neighbours in the coming months.

This is an edited excerpt from an article published in October 2022.

Spain: inflation, public spending, deficit and debt

After beginning 2022 with inflation at 6.1%, Spain’s consumer price index peaked at 10.8% in July before closing out the year at a rate of 6.8%. Taking into account the 2021 inflation journey from 0.5% in January, to 2.9% in July and 6.5% in December, it now looks like price rises are being brought under control.

Core inflation (which excludes unprocessed food and energy) saw a more gradual but sustained rise. It was 2.4% in January 2022, peaked at 6.4% in August and fell to 6.3% in November. The closing gap with headline inflation during the final quarter of last year was mainly due to government measures to control the rise in energy prices.

Inflation in Spain, 2021-2022

Spain’s Consumer Price Index (the figure for November 2022 refers to the leading indicator). National Statistics Institute (INE), Spain

Like many other countries, Spain lacks control and efficiency when it comes to public spending. The country’s pension system must support a rapidly growing older population; it is highly dependent on fossil fuels; the unemployment rate has been above 10% since 2008; and – again like other countries – it is suffering from deep political and social polarisation right now. A high public deficit has also helped inflate the Spanish debt bubble.

Aerial view of Cibeles fountain at Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid in a beautiful summer day, Spain
Spain’s unemployment rate has been above 10% since 2008. Sergii Figurnyi / Shutterstock

But this is an election year for municipal, regional and general government and so major reforms will be difficult – particularly anything that affects Spain’s 9 million pensioners or its more than 3 million public workers.

Digitalisation and training could provide a solution by supporting more efficient management of resources. This could help to gauge available resources and develop ways to find savings while also addressing the needs of Spain’s people. It makes no sense that even though productivity is now higher thanks to technology, social inequality prevails.

Hopefully 2023 will see more discussion of digital identity and currencies or even universal income, and less of the words that characterised 2022: crisis, war and inflation.

Indonesia: seven-year inflation high leads to massive layoffs

While relatively low compared to other countries, Indonesia’s overall inflation rose to its highest level in seven years, reaching nearly 6% in September 2022. Ballooning food and subsidised fuel prices are behind this increase.

At the beginning of this year, Indonesia, the world’s biggest crude palm oil producer struggled to control cooking oil prices due to a supply bottleneck, despite enjoying the financial benefits of the commodity’s price increase.

Banjarmasin, September 2012. A trader from lok baintan offer guava fruit in the Floating Culture Festival in Banjarmasin.
Rising prices for food and other commodities have impacted Indonesia’s economy. Robby Fakhriannur/Shutterstock

More generally, the prices of staple commodities – from rice to spices – also rose on the back of failed harvests due to unpredictable weather. In addition, the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine partially contributed to rising food prices, especially food for animals, which became more expensive and affected livestock prices. The government’s decision to raise subsidised fuel prices by 30% in September delivered a further blow to the country’s inflation rate.

This inflation has increased the cost of living as it has not been accompanied by a sufficient wage increases. In 2022, Indonesia’s minimum wage increased only by 1.09% – the lowest-ever recorded rate. With annual inflation hitting 5.51%, it means that the purchasing power for those on lower incomes has declined by 4.42%.

Job opportunities are even more limited amid high inflation rates. Export-oriented manufacturing companies have begun to carry out mass layoffs. Digital startups, the hope of young people during the pandemic, have also cut employee numbers. At the same time, four million new workers joined the labour market between August 2021 and 2022, while Indonesia already has a youth unemployment rate of 16% – relatively high for southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, to curb inflation, the central bank raised interest rates by 2% between July and December 2022, triggering an increase in lending rates. More than 70% of house purchases in Indonesia rely on mortgages and it might also now be more difficult for new businesses to access much-needed loans.

While state revenues from commodities are increasing due to the recent bonanza, inflation in 2023 is expected to remain high, mostly due to elevated transport costs driven by volatile fuel prices. The Indonesian government now needs to rethink inflation policy and public service costs such as healthcare insurance fees and public transportation rates. These items affect most people and will trigger an additional inflationary impact.

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Economic Death Spiral

Economic Death Spiral

Authored by Robert Stark via Substack,

Fed Trap: Financial Collapse or Hyper Inflation?

With this banking crisis,…



Economic Death Spiral

Authored by Robert Stark via Substack,

Fed Trap: Financial Collapse or Hyper Inflation?

With this banking crisis, which has serious Lehman vibes, it is a good time to revisit my article, Is This The End of The End of History, from March of last year. The article dealt with the theme of collapse vs stagnation, and historical cycles, in light of the Ukraine war, the post-pandemic climate, the onset of inflation, and speculation about economic collapse. A point of mine, that has especially been vindicated, is that “a delay in the Fed raising interest rates, could cause a short term rally in stocks, further expanding the bubble. The bigger the bubble, the worse inflation gets, and the longer the Fed keeps delaying raising rates, the worse the crash will be down the road.” For the most part, most of my geopolitical and economic forecasts have come true, though I actually predicted an economic collapse to occur sooner, which actually vindicates that point, that kicking the can down the road will just create a much worse crisis.

Despite countless signs of economic volatility, the recent bank failures, with shockwaves to the entire financial system, are a turning point, where it is clear that there is going to be a severe economic downturn. For instance, Elon Musk recently said, lot of current year similarities to 1929, and Moody’s cut the outlook on the entire U.S. banking system to negative from stable, citing a "rapidly deteriorating operating environment." Even the perma bulls, mainstream media, and financial “experts,” can no longer deny the obvious signs of economic peril. However, the bullish propaganda was still strong as recently as January, which was really the bulls’ last gasp, with the monkey rally, in response to the Fed only raising interest rates by .25 points, plus economic data showing record low unemployment plus a dip in inflation.

It is important to emphasize that the same figures in media, banking, and government, who were recently shilling a soft landing or mild recession, were previously saying that inflation is transitory. It is especially laughable to think that there are people who take someone like CNBC’s, Jim Cramer, seriously, who in 2008 told his audience don’t be silly on Bear Stearns, right before it crashed, and more recently shilled for Silicon Valley Bank, and is still predicting a soft landing. A lot of the recent propaganda is practically identical to right before the 08 crash, as well as during stagflation in the 70s, and even before the Great Depression, as the media has vested economic and political interests in propping up the markets. The financial YouTuber, Maverick of Wall Street, brilliantly uses this “self-love” gif of  Jack Nicholson, from the film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as a metaphor for whenever perma-bulls see any data that may signify a Fed pivot, causing stocks to rally. As the desperation really kicks in, expect further talk of a soft landing, as well as more rallies in stocks, as we saw in response to the bailouts, as well as desperate investors switching back and forth between the NASDAQ and S&P500, which happened in 08. So any return to bullish sentiment is actually a sign of greater economic catastrophe. The stock market rallying over bad economy news, as a sign of a potential pivot, just further shows that the markets are not a good metric for the health of the economy. Not to mention that the top 1% own over half of all stocks.

It has always been the case with bubbles, that the greater the size of the bubble, the more copes to deny reality, and the more vested interests there are in preventing the inevitable crash. Certainly many corporations and banks have made economic decisions based upon an assumption of a soft landing or Fed pivot. This also explains the gaslighting to justify that the 2010s economic boom, especially in tech, was based upon productivity and innovation, when it was primary due to Fed monetary policy, plus data mining in the case of Big Tech. While it is silly for conservatives to blame wokeness as the primary culprit of bank failures, wokeness and bullshit DEI jobs, are a symptom of the corruption that Fed policy enabled. 

Fed Balance Sheet: Return to QE


The current banking crisis is triggering more stock buybacks, and a return to Quantitative Easing with the bank bailouts, including plans to inject another $2 Trillion into the banking system, on top of the $300 billion increase in the Fed’s Balance Sheet, in just the last week. This seems counter intuitive, as QE caused inflation, but the economy is so addicted to the “Cocaine,” that is  cheap money. So basically quantitative tightening is being implemented and interest rates raised  to stop inflation, but as soon as the first major economic disruption of raising rates is felt, then a return to financial policies to further prop up the bubble, causing more inflation. Now the Fed is trapped with two bad options, raise rates or pivot, both of which will lead to inevitable economic doom.

Populists can talk about nationalizing the banks into public debt free banking, and Austrian School libertarians can call for ending the Fed, and returning to a gold standard. While it is true that the Federal Reserve is a corrupt system, that is quasi private in how private banks own shares, the reality is that we are stuck with this system of relying upon the Fed’s interest rates, for the incoming economic crisis. If the Fed continues raising rates, there will be a liquidity crisis, with more bank failures. While interest rates were close to zero, banks used uninsured deposits to both invest in securities and purchase bonds, and thanks to fractional reserve banking, banks are only required to hold a fraction of deposits. So when rates rose, bonds fell in value and unrealized losses surged, so the banks were not able to pay off their depositors.


Regional banks make up about half of all US banking, so any contagion in the banking system, as people and businesses move their deposits to mega banks, deemed “too big to fail,” could trigger a Depression. One of the main reasons that the economy has not crashed sooner is because more people have been tapping into their savings and maxing out their credit cards. However, high interest rates will cause many people to default on their credit card debt, which will exacerbate the banking crisis. Not to mention Auto loans defaults wiping out credit unions, and the potential for another mortgage crisis, due to rising mortgage rates. There is a ripple effect, as far as rising interest rates being felt by debt holders, and now is just the tip of the iceberg. This could end up being a multifaceted debt crisis, in banking, corporate debt, personal debt, and government debt.

Besides the Fed likely pivoting soon due to the banking crisis, higher rates will make interest payments on the National Debt too expensive to pay off, risking a default on government debt. Overall levels of debt, both public and private, are much worse than when Fed Chair, Volcker, raised rates very high to successfully quell inflation. Any freeze in Federal spending or a default on the national debt, in response to the debt ceiling, will crash the economy, and any major extension in the debt ceiling will accelerate inflation. There is a good chance that inflation will be tolerated, with the dollar greatly devalued, to make government debt cheaper so that creditors eat the costs.

Source: Peter G. Peterson Foundation

A tight labor market is the main case that the bulls make to prove a strong economy. However, the official BLS jobs numbers are “baked” to exclude those who have given up on seeking employment, as well as counting 2nd or 3rd jobs. Not to mention that the BLS numbers were exposed by the Fed as overstating 1 million jobs during 2022. Even if one accepts the “baked” numbers, layoffs have a lagging effect on unemployment, including by industry (eg. tech layoffs before service sector). Now new jobless claims have grown at the fastest pace since Lehman'. It is also noteworthy that just about every recession has been preceded by low unemployment numbers. The increase in layoffs will put further pressure on the Fed to pivot, which on top of increased unemployment benefits, will cause inflation to surge again. This creates another doom loop, as inflation leads to more unemployment, as consumers are forced to cut back on spending.

Source: ZeroHedge

While bulls can say that this time is different from past crashes, all of the signs are pointing to this crisis being much worse than previous crashes. For instance, the economic recovery, after Volcker was done raising rates to fight inflation, was possible because of lower levels of debt, but the US has never entered a recession with debt/GDP at 125% and deficit/GDP at 7% in at least 85 years. Also the fallout of the 2008 crash was mitigated by a strong dollar, which also minimized the effects of inflation last year, but inflation will surge if the dollar is weakened. Despite signs of a pivot, the Fed has been moving much faster to fight inflation, then in the past, even with Volker. This crisis is also unique in that rates are being raised while entering a severe recession, and inflation could coincide mass layoffs. While the general assumption is that severe economic downturns are deflationary, financial commentator, Peter Schiff, makes a compelling case as for why an Inflationary Depression is a likelihood. Under this nightmare scenario, which would be much worse than even the Great Depression, inflation will negate any of the remedies that ended past crises, such as the New Deal, quantitative easing in 08, and the covid stimulus. Other signs of economic peril include, the steepest yield curve inversion since the early 80s recession, which is a barometer that has predicted just about every single recession, a major decline in ISM manufacturing sales, a big decline in savings rates, and Americans’ credit card debt approaching a record $1 Trillion.


This is the perfect storm with inflation, stagflation, recession, a potential debt crisis, as well as energy and supply chain issues. With this bubble to end all bubbles or too big to fail on steroids, the Fed has two choices, cause a liquidity crisis by shrinking the money supply, or letting inflation rip. While raising rates appears to be the least bad of these two options, further rate hikes are futile with the return of QE. A combo of QE plus interest rates having to remain high, is what could lead to that scenario of inflationary financial collapse, that Peter Schiff warned about. Though most likely it will either be long term stagflation or a deflationary Depression. This is not a hyperbole, nor clickbait, but a Depression is a very real possibility, especially if policy makers continue to kick the can down the road, to prop up the bubble.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Tue, 03/21/2023 - 17:25

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Three Years To Slow The Spread: COVID Hysteria & The Creation Of A Never-Ending Crisis

Three Years To Slow The Spread: COVID Hysteria & The Creation Of A Never-Ending Crisis

Authored by Jordan Schachtel via ‘The Dossier’…



Three Years To Slow The Spread: COVID Hysteria & The Creation Of A Never-Ending Crisis

Authored by Jordan Schachtel via 'The Dossier' Substack,

Last Thursday marked the three year anniversary of the infamous “15 Days To Slow The Spread” campaign.

By March 16, yours truly was already pretty fed up with both the governmental and societal “response” to what was being baselessly categorized as the worst pandemic in 100 years, despite zero statistical data supporting such a serious claim.

I was living in the Washington, D.C. Beltway at the time, and it was pretty much impossible to find a like-minded person within 50 miles who also wasn’t taking the bait. After I read about the news coming out of Wuhan in January, I spent much of the next couple weeks catching up to speed and reading about what a modern pandemic response was supposed to look like.

What surprised me most was that none of “the measures” were mentioned, and that these designated “experts” were nothing more than failed mathematicians, government doctors, and college professors who were more interested in policy via shoddy academic forecasting than observing reality.

Within days of continually hearing their yapping at White House pressers, It quickly became clear that the Deborah Birx’s and Anthony Fauci’s of the world were engaging in nothing more than a giant experiment. There was no an evidence-based approach to managing Covid whatsoever. These figures were leaning into the collective hysteria, and brandishing their credentials as Public Health Experts to demand top-down approaches to stamping out the WuFlu.

To put it bluntly, these longtime government bureaucrats had no idea what the f—k they were doing. Fauci and his cohorts were not established or reputable scientists, but authoritarians, charlatans, who had a decades-long track record of hackery and corruption. This Coronavirus Task Force did not have the collective intellect nor the wisdom to be making these broad brush decisions.

Back then, there were only literally a handful of people who attempted to raise awareness about the wave of tyranny, hysteria, and anti-science policies that were coming our way. There were so few of us back in March in 2020 that it was impossible to form any kind of significant structured resistance to the madness that was unfolding before us. These structures would later form, but not until the infrastructure for the highway to Covid hysteria hell had already been cemented.

Making matters worse was the reality that the vast majority of the population — friends, colleagues, peers and family included — agreed that dissenters were nothing more than reckless extremists, bioterrorists, Covid deniers, anti-science rabble rousers, and the like.

Yet we were right, and we had the evidence and data to prove it. There was no evidence to ever support such a heavy-handed series of government initiatives to “slow the spread.”

By March 16, 2020, data had already accumulated indicating that this contagion would be no more lethal than an influenza outbreak.

The February, 2020 outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship provided a clear signal that the hysteria models provided by Bill Gates-funded and managed organizations were incredibly off base. Of the 3,711 people aboard the Diamond Princess, about 20% tested positive with Covid. The majority of those who tested positive had zero symptoms. By the time all passengers had disembarked from the vessel, there were 7 reported deaths on the ship, with the average age of this cohort being in the mid 80s, and it wasn’t even clear if these passengers died from or with Covid.

Despite the strange photos and videos coming out of Wuhan, China, there was no objective evidence of a once in a century disease approaching America’s shores, and the Diamond Princess outbreak made that clear.

Of course, it wasn’t the viral contagion that became the problem.

It was the hysteria contagion that brought out the worst qualities of much of the global ruling class, letting world leaders take off their proverbial masks in unison and reveal their true nature as power drunk madmen.

And even the more decent world leaders were swept up in the fear and mayhem, turning over the keys of government control to the supposed all-knowing Public Health Experts.

They quickly shuttered billions of lives and livelihoods, wreaking exponentially more havoc than a novel coronavirus ever could.

In the United States, 15 Days to Slow The Spread quickly became 30 Days To Slow The Spread. Somewhere along the way, the end date for “the measures” was removed from the equation entirely.

3 years later, there still isn’t an end date…

Anthony Fauci appeared on MSNBC Thursday morning and declared that Americans would need annual Covid boosters to compliment their Flu shots.

So much of the Covid hysteria era was driven by pseudoscience and outright nonsense, and yet, very few if any world leaders took it upon themselves to restore sanity in their domains. Now, unsurprisingly, so many elected officials who were complicit in this multi-billion person human tragedy won’t dare to reflect upon it.

In a 1775 letter from John Adams to his wife, Abigail, the American Founding Father wrote:

“Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrender their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.”

Covid hysteria and the 3 year anniversary of 15 Days To Slow The Spread serves as the beginning period of a permanent scar resulting from government power grabs and federal overreach.

While life is back to normal in most of the country, the Overton window of acceptable policy has slid even further in the direction of push-button tyranny. Hopefully, much of the world has awakened to the reality that most of the people in charge aren’t actually doing what’s best for their respective populations.

Tyler Durden Tue, 03/21/2023 - 18:05

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From the bed sheets to the TV remote, a microbiologist reveals the shocking truth about dirt and germs in hotel rooms

The filthy secrets of hotel rooms and why you might want to pack disinfectant on your next trip.




Relaxing in filth? Pexels/Cottonbro studio

For most of us, staying in a hotel room is either something of a necessity – think business travel – or something to look forward to as part of a holiday or wider excursion.

But what if I told you there’s a large chance your hotel room, despite how it might appear to the naked eye, isn’t that clean. And even if it’s an expensive room, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any less dirty.

Indeed, whoever has stayed in your room prior to you will have deposited bacteria, fungi and viruses all over the furniture, carpets, curtains and surfaces. What remains of these germ deposits depends on how efficiently your room is cleaned by hotel staff. And let’s face it, what is considered clean by a hotel might be different to what you consider clean.

Typically, assessment of hotel room cleanliness is based on sight and smell observations –- not on the invisible microbiology of the space, which is where the infection risks reside. So let’s take a deep dive into the world of germs, bugs and viruses to find out what might be lurking where.

It starts at the lift

Before you even enter your room, think of the hotel lift buttons as germ hotspots. They are being pressed all the time by many different people, which can transfer microorganisms onto the button surface, as well back onto the presser’s fingers.

Communal door handles can be similar in terms of germ presence unless sanitised regularly. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitiser after using a handle before you next touch your face or eat or drink.

The most common infections people pick up from hotel rooms are tummy bugs – diarrhoea and vomiting – along with respiratory viruses, such as colds and pneumonia, as well as COVID-19, of course.

Hotel door opening.
Welcome to germ paradise. Pexels/Pixabay

Toilets and bathrooms tend to be cleaned more thoroughly than the rest of a hotel room and are often the least bacteriologically colonised environments.

Though if the drinking glass in the bathroom is not disposable, wash it before use (body wash or shampoo are effective dishwashers), as you can never be sure if they’ve been cleaned properly. Bathroom door handles may also be colonised by pathogens from unwashed hands or dirty washcloths.

Beware the remote

The bed, sheets and pillows can also be home to some unwanted visitors. A 2020 study found that after a pre-symptomatic COVID-19 patient occupied a hotel room there was significant viral contamination of many surfaces, with levels being particularly high within the sheets, pillow case and quilt cover.

While sheets and pillowcases may be more likely to be changed between occupants, bedspreads may not, meaning these fabrics may become invisible reservoirs for pathogens – as much as a toilet seat. Though in some cases sheets aren’t always changed between guests, so it may be better to just bring your own.

Less thought about is what lives on the hotel room desk, bedside table, telephone, kettle, coffee machine, light switch or TV remote – as these surfaces aren’t always sanitised between occupancies.

TV remote lying on pink bedding.
Handle with care: the TV remote is often one of the dirtiest items in a hotel room. Pexels/Karolina grabowska

Viruses such as the norovirus can live in an infectious form for days on hard surfaces, as can COVID-19 – and the typical time interval between room changeovers is often less than 12 hours.

Soft fabric furnishings such as cushions, chairs, curtains and blinds are also difficult to clean and may not be sanitised other than to remove stains between guests, so washing your hands after touching them might be a good idea.

Uninvited guests

If all those germs and dirty surfaces aren’t enough to contend with, there are also bedbugs to think about. These bloodsucking insects are experts at secreting themselves into narrow, small spaces, remaining dormant without feeding for months.

Small spaces include the cracks and crevices of luggage, mattresses and bedding. Bed bugs are widespread throughout Europe, Africa, the US and Asia – and are often found in hotels. And just because a room looks and smells clean, doesn’t mean there may not be bed bugs lurking.

Woman making bed in hoteroom.
Get those cushions off the bed straightaway. Pexels/Cottonbro studio

Fortunately, bed bug bites are unlikely to give you a transmissible disease, but the bite areas can become inflamed and infected. For the detection of bedbugs, reddish skin bites and blood spots on sheets are signs of an active infestation (use an antiseptic cream on the bites).

Other signs can be found on your mattress, behind the headboard and inside drawers and the wardrobe: brown spots could be remains of faeces, bed bug skins are brownish-silvery looking and live bed bugs are brown coloured and typically one to seven millimetres in length.

Inform the hotel if you think there are bed bugs in your room. And to avoid taking them with you when you checkout, carefully clean your luggage and clothes before opening them at home.

As higher-status hotels tend to have more frequent room usage, a more expensive room at a five-star hotel does not necessarily mean greater cleanliness, as room cleaning costs reduce profit margins. So wherever you’re staying, take with you a pack of antiseptic wipes and use them on the hard surfaces in your hotel room.

Also, wash or sanitise your hands often – especially before you eat or drink anything. And take slippers or thick socks with you so you can avoid walking barefoot on hotel carpets – known to be another dirt hotspot. And after all that, enjoy your stay.

Primrose Freestone does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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