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Risk of volcano catastrophe ‘a roll of the dice’, say experts

The world is “woefully underprepared” for a massive volcanic eruption and the likely repercussions on global supply chains, climate and food, according…

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The world is “woefully underprepared” for a massive volcanic eruption and the likely repercussions on global supply chains, climate and food, according to experts from the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), and the University of Birmingham.

Credit: Dr Mike Cassidy

The world is “woefully underprepared” for a massive volcanic eruption and the likely repercussions on global supply chains, climate and food, according to experts from the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), and the University of Birmingham.

In an article published in the journal Nature, they say there is a “broad misconception” that risks of major eruptions are low, and describe current lack of governmental investment in monitoring and responding to potential volcano disasters as “reckless”. 

However, the researchers argue that steps can be taken to protect against volcanic devastation – from improved surveillance to increased public education and magma manipulation – and the resources needed to do so are long overdue.

“Data gathered from ice cores on the frequency of eruptions over deep time suggests there is a one-in-six chance of a magnitude seven explosion in the next one hundred years. That’s a roll of the dice,” said article co-author and CSER researcher Dr Lara Mani, an expert in global risk. 

“Such gigantic eruptions have caused abrupt climate change and collapse of civilisations in the distant past.”

Mani compares the risk of a giant eruption to that of a 1km-wide asteroid crashing into Earth. Such events would have similar climatic consequences, but the likelihood of a volcanic catastrophe is hundreds of times higher than the combined chances of an asteroid or comet collision.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars are pumped into asteroid threats every year, yet there is a severe lack of global financing and coordination for volcano preparedness,” Mani said. “This urgently needs to change. We are completely underestimating the risk to our societies that volcanoes pose.”

An eruption in Tonga in January was the largest ever instrumentally recorded. The researchers argue that if it had gone on longer, released more ash and gas, or occurred in an area full of critical infrastructure – such as the Mediterranean – then global shock waves could have been devastating.

“The Tonga eruption was the volcanic equivalent of an asteroid just missing the Earth, and needs to be treated as a wake-up call,” said Mani.  

The CSER experts cite recent research detecting the regularity of major eruptions by analysing traces of sulphur spikes in ancient ice samples. An eruption ten to a hundred times larger than the Tonga blast occurs once every 625 years – twice as often as had been previously thought.

“The last magnitude seven eruption was in 1815 in Indonesia,” said co-author Dr Mike Cassidy, a volcano expert and visiting CSER researcher, now based at the University of Birmingham.

“An estimated 100,000 people died locally, and global temperatures dropped by a degree on average, causing mass crop failures that led to famine, violent uprisings and epidemics in what was known as the year without summer,” he said.

“We now live in a world with eight times the population and over forty times the level of trade. Our complex global networks could make us even more vulnerable to the shocks of a major eruption.”

Financial losses from a large magnitude eruption would be in the multi-trillions, and on a comparable scale to the pandemic, say the experts.

Mani and Cassidy outline steps they say need to be taken to help forecast and manage the possibility of a planet-altering eruption, and help mitigate damage from smaller, more frequent eruptions.

These include a more accurate pinpointing of risks. We only know locations of a handful of the 97 eruptions classed as large magnitude on the “Volcano Explosivity Index” over the last 60,000 years. This means there could be dozens of dangerous volcanoes dotted the world over with the potential for extreme destruction, about which humanity has no clue.

“We may not know about even relatively recent eruptions due to a lack of research into marine and lake cores, particularly in neglected regions such as Southeast Asia,” said Cassidy. “Volcanoes can lie dormant for a long time, but still be capable of sudden and extraordinary destruction.”

Monitoring must be improved, say the CSER experts. Only 27% of eruptions since 1950 have had a seismometer anywhere near them, and only a third of that data again has been fed into the global database for “volcanic unrest”.

“Volcanologists have been calling for a dedicated volcano-monitoring satellite for over twenty years,” said Mani. “Sometimes we have to rely on the generosity of private satellite companies for rapid imagery.”

The experts also call for increased research into volcano “geoengineering”. This includes the need to study means of countering aerosols released by a massive eruption, which could lead to a “volcanic winter”. They also say that work to investigate manipulating pockets of magma beneath active volcanoes should be undertaken.

Added Mani: “Directly affecting volcanic behaviour may seem inconceivable, but so did the deflection of asteroids until the formation of the NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office in 2016. The risks of a massive eruption that devastates global society is significant. The current underinvestment in responding to this risk is simply reckless.” 


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Wyshbox Life Insurance study shows how the pandemic, inflation and looming recession has led to women worrying about their financial future.

Wyshbox Life Insurance study shows how the pandemic, inflation and looming recession has led to women worrying about their financial future.
PR Newswire
MILWAUKEE, Sept. 29, 2022

Through interviews and surveys of over 400 working women between the …

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Wyshbox Life Insurance study shows how the pandemic, inflation and looming recession has led to women worrying about their financial future.

PR Newswire

Through interviews and surveys of over 400 working women between the ages 20-45 years, the numbers aren't good for how women feel about their financial future.

MILWAUKEE, Sept. 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- It's no surprise that women have had to deal with unprecedented volatility over the past few years. The (financially) unprotected sex by Wyshbox Life Insurance includes interviews and surveys of over 400 women and takes a deep dive into how much of a negative financial impact the pandemic, inflation and fears of a potential recession in the future has had on women of different ages and cultural backgrounds. We've discovered that 83% of women surveyed worry about high inflation in the future, which has increased their household expenses and has had a negative effect on their purchasing power. Shockingly, the biggest worry for women of color (35% surveyed) is that their wages are not keeping pace with rising expenses, a worry not shared as strongly by caucasian women.1

New study shows how the pandemic, inflation and looming recession has women worrying about their financial future.

Found on our website at www.wyshbox.com/women, The (financially) unprotected sex white paper not only seeks to understand the emotional and financial burdens and worries of women of different racial backgrounds, but also their employment and childcare struggles when compared to men.

"An eye-opening learning we found was that 30% of caucasian women versus 42% of women of color had to quit their job over the pandemic," says Hetal Karani, Senior Strategist who led the research effort for Wyshbox. Those who had quit the workforce cited pursuing higher education opportunities, limited childcare availability and a lack of alternative schooling options as their main reason to exit the labor market—in addition to not wanting to risk their family's health after being denied remote working options by their employer.1 

Coupled with the importance of a mother's salary and a steep rise in dual income households, we found these learnings particularly troubling. "More than 70% percent of households with children under 18 years rely on the woman's salary, and 40% of moms are the primary breadwinner for the home,"1 added Hetal, "yet our emphasis on the importance of financial planning for the well being of women and their families has remained stagnant"

And when it comes to protecting their future, 70% of mothers said they were worried about what would happen to their families if they passed away.2 So it was no surprise that Wyshbox Life Insurance saw an unprecedented level of women applying for Life Insurance, well above the historical average. Applicants were looking to protect their children and spouse should they lose their salary unexpectedly, cover their mortgages to protect their family from losing their home pay out to a college tuition that they have been saving for.

Read The (Financially) Unprotected Sex white paper for insights and actionable takeaways for not only the insurtech industry, but for anyone looking to understand how women are taking on the new challenges in front of them.

About Wyshbox

Wyshbox life insurance is there to help make sure that life post-you is everything you want it to be. Wyshbox provides term life insurance tailored to everyone's specific needs with policies that can help take care of your family, kids, pets, friends, funeral arrangements, and so much more. It takes less than 10 minutes, is 100% online, and plans start at just $9 per month.

Media Contact:
media@wyshbox.com

Copyright © 2022 Wysh Life and Health Insurance Company
*Disclosures at: www.wyshbox.com/ad-disclosures 

1 Wyshbox Life Insurance. Quantitative Survey "Women during COVID and Recession". 400 participants. August 8, 2022
2 Wyshbox Life Insurance. Quantitative Survey "Thematic Survey". 1200 participants. November 2021

View original content to download multimedia:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wyshbox-life-insurance-study-shows-how-the-pandemic-inflation-and-looming-recession-has-led-to-women-worrying-about-their-financial-future-301636835.html

SOURCE Wyshbox

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Economics

EasyJet share price has collapsed by 53% in 2022. Is it a buy?

The EasyJet (LON: EZJ) share price has hit turbulence as concerns about demand and soaring costs remain. It dropped to a low of 293p, which was the lowest…

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The EasyJet (LON: EZJ) share price has hit turbulence as concerns about demand and soaring costs remain. It dropped to a low of 293p, which was the lowest level since November 2011. It has plummeted by more than 82% from its all-time high, giving it a market cap of more than 2.5 billion pounds.

Is EasyJet a good buy?

EasyJet is a leading regional airline that operates mostly in Europe. It has hundreds of aircraft and thousands of employees. In 2021, the firm’s revenue jumped to more than 1.49 billion pounds, which was a strong recovery from what it made in the previous year.

EasyJet’s business is doing well as demand for flights rises. In the most recent results, the firm said that forward bookings for Q3 were 76% sold and 36% sold for Q4. For some destinations, bookings have been much higher than before the pandemic.

EasyJet’s business made more than 1.75 billion in revenue in the first half of the year. This happened as passenger revenue rose to 1.15 billion while ancillary revenue jumped to 603 million pounds. The firm managed to make a loss before tax of more than 114 million pounds. It attributed that loss to higher costs and forex conversions.

As I wrote on this article on IAG, EasyJet share price has collapsed as investors worry about the soaring cost of doing business. Besides, jet fuel and wages have jumped sharply in the past few months. Also, analysts and investors are concerned about flight cancellations in its key markets.

Still, there is are two key catalysts for EasyJet. For one, as the stock collapses, it could become a viable acquisition target. In 2021, the management rejected a relatively attractive bid from Wizz Air. Another bid could happen if the stock continues tumbling.

Further, the company could do well as the aviation industry stabilizes in the coming months. A key challenge is that confidence in Europe and the UK.

EasyJet share price forecast

EasyJet share price

The daily chart shows that the EasyJet stock price has been in a strong bearish trend in the past few months. During this time, the stock has tumbled below all moving averages. It has also formed what looks like a falling wedge pattern, which is usually a bullish sign.

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) has dropped below the oversold level while the Awesome Oscillator has moved below the neutral point.

Therefore, in the near term, the stock will likely continue falling as sellers target the support at 270p. In the long-term, however, the shares will likely rebound as the falling wedge reaches its confluence level.

The post EasyJet share price has collapsed by 53% in 2022. Is it a buy? appeared first on Invezz.

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Economics

August data shows UK automotive sector heading for a “cliff-edge” in 2023

With an all-out macroeconomic storm brewing in the UK, the Bank of England (BoE) has been forced to intervene in the tumultuous gilt markets, particularly…

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With an all-out macroeconomic storm brewing in the UK, the Bank of England (BoE) has been forced to intervene in the tumultuous gilt markets, particularly towards the tail end of the yield curve (details of which were reported on Invezz here).

Car manufacturing is a key industry in the UK. Recently, it registered a turnover of roughly £67 billion, provided direct employment to 182,000 people, and a total of nearly 800,000 jobs across the entire automotive supply chain, while contributing to 10% of exports.

Just after midnight GMT, data on fresh car production for the month of August was released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited (SMMT).

Strong annual growth but monthly decline

Car production in the UK surged 34% year-over-year settling at just under 50,000 units. This marked the fourth consecutive month of positive growth on an annual basis.

However, twelve months ago, production was heavily dampened by a plethora of supply chain bottlenecks, work stoppages on account of the pandemic, and a worldwide shortage of microchips. The August 2021 output of 37,246 units was the lowest recorded August volume since way back in 1956.

Although the improvement in output is a good sign, equally it is on the back of a heavily depressed performance.

Source: SMMT

To place the latest data in its proper context, production is still 45.9% below August 2019 levels of 92,158 units, showing just how far adrift the industry is from the pre-pandemic period.

Since July, production in the sector fell 14%.

The fact that the UK is facing a deep economic malaise becomes even more evident when we look at full-year numbers for 2020 and 2021.

In 2020, total output came in at 920,928 units, while 2021 was even lower at 859,575. The last time that the UK automotive sector produced less than one million cars in a calendar year was 1986.  

Unfortunately, 2022 has seen only 511,106 units produced thus far, a 13.3% decline compared to January to August 2021.

In contrast, the 5-year pre-pandemic average for January to August output from 2014 – 2019 stands well above this mark at 1,030,527 units.

With car manufacturers tending to pass price rises on to consumers, demand was dampened by surging costs of semiconductors, logistics and raw materials.

The SMMT noted,

The sector is now on course to produce fewer than a million cars for the third consecutive year.

Ian Henry, managing director of AutoAnalysis concurred with the SMMT’s analysis,

It is expected that by the end of this year car production will reach 825,000, compared to 850,000 a year ago, but that’s 35% down on 2019 and a whopping 50% on the high figure of 2017.

Sector challenges

Other than the obvious fact that the UK’s economic atmosphere is in hot water, the automotive industry (including component manufacturers) has been struggling to stave off the high energy costs of doing business.

In a survey, 69% of respondents flagged energy costs as a key concern. Estimates suggest that the sector’s collective energy expenditure has gone up by 33% in the last 12 months reaching over £300 million, forcing several operations to become unviable.

Although the government enacted measures to cap the price of energy and ease obstacles to additional production, Mike Hawes, the CEO of SMMT, said,

This is a short-term fix, however, and to avoid a cliff-edge in six months’ time, it must be backed by a full package of measures that will sustain the sector.

Due to the meteoric rise in costs across the automotive supply chain, 13% of respondents were cutting shifts, 9% chose to downsize their workforce and 41% postponed further investments.

Bleak outlook

Uncertainties around Brexit and the EU trade deal are yet to be resolved.

Moreover, the energy crisis is poised to get even more acute unless Russia withdraws from the conflict, or international leaders ease restrictions on Moscow. Last week, I discussed the evolving energy crisis here

With global central banks expected to tighten till at least the end of the year, demand is likely to be squeezed further pressurizing British car manufacturers.

Electric vehicles made up 71% of car exports from the UK in August, but robust growth in the sector looks challenging in the near term, in the absence of widespread charging infrastructure, high electricity prices and globally low consumer confidence.

Although energy subsidies could provide some relief in the immediate future, the industry will remain in dire straits while investments stay low and the shortage in human capital persists, particularly amid the push for EVs.

Given the prevailing macroeconomic environment, and severe market backlash to Truss’s mini-budget (which I discussed in an earlier article), the sector is unlikely to turn the corner any time soon.

The post August data shows UK automotive sector heading for a “cliff-edge” in 2023 appeared first on Invezz.

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