81 million jobs lost as COVID-19 creates turmoil in Asia-Pacific labour markets
Massive drops in working hours due to the COVID-19 crisis have had a devastating effect on jobs and incomes in Asia and the Pacific according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
According to Asia–Pacific Employment and Social Outlook 2020: Navigating the crisis towards a human-centred future of work estimates, the economic backlash of the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out some 81 million jobs in 2020. In nearly all economies with available quarterly data for 2020, employment levels contracted compared to 2019.
The impact of the crisis has been far-reaching, with underemployment surging as millions of workers are asked to work reduced hours or no hours at all. Overall, working hours in Asia and the Pacific decreased by an estimated 15.2 per cent in the second quarter and by 10.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2020, relative to pre-crisis levels.
Working-hour losses are also influenced by the millions of persons moving outside the labour force or into unemployment as job creation in the region collapsed. Using available quarterly data, the report provides a preliminary estimate that the regional unemployment rate could increase from 4.4 per cent in 2019 to somewhere between 5.2 per cent and 5.7 per cent in 2020.
“COVID-19 has inflicted a hammer-blow on the region’s labour markets, one that few governments in the region stood ready to handle. Low levels of social security coverage and limited institutional capacity in many countries have made it difficult to help enterprises and workers back on their feet, a situation compounded when large numbers remain in the informal economy. These pre-crisis weaknesses have left far too many exposed to the pain of economic insecurity when the pandemic hit and inflicted its toll on working hours and jobs,” said Ms Chihoko Asada Miyakawa, ILO Assistant Director General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
Women and young people are disproportionately hit
According to the report, most countries in the region saw a larger decline in working hours and employment for women than men. Also, women were more likely to move into inactivity than men. Young people have also been especially affected by working-hour and job losses. The youth share in overall employment loss was 3 to 18 times higher than their share in total employment.
“The report shows a clear picture of young people and women being pushed out of work compared to other workers,” says Ms Sara Elder, Senior Economist at the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and lead author of the report. “With increased unemployment, young workers are likely to find it difficult to compete for new jobs. When they do find work, it may well be a job that does not match to their aspirations. Millions of women have also paid a high price and it could take years for those who have exited the labour force to return to full employment.”
Labour income as another crisis victim
With fewer paid hours of work, median incomes are falling. Overall, labour income is estimated to have fallen by as much as 10 per cent in the Asia–Pacific region in the first three quarters of 2020, equivalent to a 3 per cent loss in gross domestic product. A further consequence is the increase in working poverty levels. In absolute numbers, preliminary estimates in the report find an additional 22 million to 25 million persons could fall into working poverty, which would push the total number of working poor (living on less than $1.90 a day) in the Asia–Pacific region to between 94 and 98 million in 2020.
The report also warns that given the scope of the damage to labour markets, the overall size of the fiscal response in the region has been insufficient, especially in the region’s developing economies. As a result of fiscal expenditure gaps, the crisis is likely to exacerbate inequalities among countries in the Asia and the Pacific.
“On the more positive side,” says Ms Elder, “we are able to show in this report that government efforts to help enterprises retain workers, albeit on reduced hours, have worked to prevent what would otherwise be larger job losses. Given the mounting evidence that social protection and employment policies save jobs and incomes, the hope is that the crisis brings about a more permanent and increased investment in elements needed to boost resilience and promote a more people-centred future of work.”
FORBES: Where is the Russian banking crisis?
“Sanctions were supposed to kill the Russian financial sector. It did, and it didn’t. Where is the Russian banking crisis?” – FORBES is perplexed.
Yes, sanctions have hurt Russia’s financial institutions. But a Russian banking crisis, one that looks like we have seen in the U.S. recently with Silicon Valley Bank and in Switzerland with Credit Suisse, has not occurred.
There were never any runs on Russian banks. The ruble strengthened. And while most banks are protected by the state – led by Sberbank and VTB – the Russian Central Bank has spent much of the last decade working to clean up the financial system.
For this reason, Russian banks have survived the West’s sanctions regime and stock market delistings better than anyone would have imagined. For a cynical Russian, watching Silicon Valley Bank and Credit Suisse burn down while their bankers are gainfully employed is like smirking before the camera lens in front of a burning building.
Had the sanctions come at the time when the Russian Central Bank was cleaning up its “zombie banks” – all hell would have broken loose. But seeing how much of that mess was swept away prior to the 2022 sanctions regimes taking hold, Russia’s banks remain safe and sound, even if Russian investors in those banks have lost their shirt.
The sanctions policy, the hardest ever taken out on Russia, is 13 months old. New ones pop up regularly. It is unclear what can possibly be next, as Russia’s financial institutions have already been largely cut off from the Western system.
Russia’s financial sector, and its banks at home, aren’t making headlines like banks in the U.S. and Europe are. They have withstood the onslaught of sanctions.
They’ve lost their European and U.S. assets, which will not be recovered for years to come, if ever. Sberbank CEO Herman Gref said in press reports that Sberbank is “the most attacked entity” in the country, which experiences “unprecedented challenges in terms of complexity and power.” He said Sberbank lost nearly all of its assets abroad, leading to massive write-downs.
Yet, Russian president Vladimir Putin smirks at the burning buildings of Credit Suisse and the lost $200 billion in Silicon Valley Bank deposits, needing unprecedented FDIC support to protect account holders. The bank is now insolvent. His biggest banks remain only because most of Russia’s banks over the years have been folded and rendered insolvent. And a danger to the Russian financial system was liquidated.
“Thanks to the professional actions of our banking community, government agencies, and the efforts of the central bank, I want to emphasize that we managed to overcome all these (sanctions) difficulties in general,” Putin reportedly said in Moscow earlier this month after meeting with Sberbank’s CEO. He said that Sberbank’s current stable position was “a good signal for the whole economy.”
With sanctions expected to remain for a long time to come, will Russia’s heavily sanctioned banks fold one day, too?
“Who knows what will happen in Russia, because we all only know what we read in the press and what we read in the press is that Russia did a smart job handling their banks pre-sanctions and so after sanctions they have managed okay,” says famous commodities investor Jim Rogers from his home in Singapore, who has been a director of Russian fertilizer company PhosAgro. “We saw the ruble go down when sanctions were first imposed, then it went up. So in that case alone, the market tells me that somebody in Russia did something right,” he says.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Funeral Chairs for Memorial Services
The loss of a loved one is devastating for the entire family. For churches providing funeral and memorial services, it’s important to ensure grieving family members are as comfortable as possible throughout the service. The right funeral chairs can help you achieve this goal. To find the right chairs, there are several factors that you must consider.
Comfortable Seating: Enhancing the Memorial Experience for Attendees
Comfort is of the utmost importance when choosing chairs for funerals and memorials. Grieving attendees are already facing hardship. Providing a comfortable place to sit during the service will provide them with some comfort during this difficult time. Comfortable seating will also enhance the memorial experience because attendees can stay fully focused on the service.
Look for chairs with foam seating and comfortable fabrics. Chairs that offer full back support will allow attendees to rest or reflect without being distracted by discomfort.
Dignified Seating: Reflecting the Importance of the Occasion
For first memorial funeral services, it’s important to choose seating that is dignified and respectful of the occasion. Choose plain, solid fabrics. Patterned fabrics can be distracting or distasteful in some cases.
Acceptable colors for funeral chairs include (but are not limited to)
- Gray or charcoal;
- Dark plum;
- Beige or brown;
- Dark red;
Choose your color and style wisely to ensure you’re providing dignified seating for attendees.
One advantage of choosing these colors is that it allows you to use these chairs for a variety of purposes. Rather than having to invest in a new set of seating for services and events, you can use the same seating for all occasions.
Improved Concentration: The Impact of Comfortable Seating on Focus
Those who attend funerals and memorial services should remain focused on the service and nothing else. Providing attendees with comfortable funeral chairs will allow them to stay focused on the service. During the funeral and memorial services, family members often share stories and thoughts about their lost loved one. A formal service may also be given.
Often, services last between 30 minutes and one hour – sometimes more. Because attendees will be asked to sit for long periods of time, it is crucial to ensure they have a comfortable place to sit.
When chairs are poorly constructed or have uncomfortable seats, attendees will be more concerned about their discomfort than listening to the service. They may become distracted or find themselves fidgeting and distracting others in the process.
However, when you invest in comfortable seating, attendees can sit quietly, reflecting on the words being spoken during the service.
Health Benefits: The Positive Impact of Comfortable Seating on Physical Health
One thing that is often overlooked when selecting funeral seating is its impact on physical health. Pain and discomfort are two common complaints when funeral attendees sit in pews.
If you have the option to offer individual seating, attendees will be much more comfortable. Cushioned seats will also ensure that guests with mobility issues can be present during the service without feeling uncomfortable.
Comfortable seating is an essential part of a memorial service; it not only provides guests with places to sit but also helps create a warm and inviting atmosphere where people can come together to honor the memory of their loved one.
When seats are uncomfortable or poorly made, guests may experience pain or other forms of discomfort that will make it difficult to be present during the service. Seats with foam padding can provide much-needed support and cushioning, allowing guests to sit comfortably even for long periods of time.
Chairs with solid, durable metal frames will also ensure that your seating stands up to frequent use. Providing safe seating is essential, and quality, durable chairs will help you achieve that.
Customizable Seating: Personalizing the Experience for Attendees
Another important factor to consider when choosing funeral seating is customization. Providing a personalized experience for attendees will allow them to experience the service in the way they envision.
Individual chairs will allow the family to choose the layout for the seating. Some chairs interlock to form pews, and some families may prefer this more traditional option.
Traditionally, the family of the deceased sits in the first row or first few rows. If the family wishes to maintain this convention, chairs of different colors can be provided, or additional space can be placed between these rows and the remainder of the seating.
When chairs are provided instead of traditional pews, there are more opportunities for customized layouts and seating for attendees. Being able to provide this level of customization may bring a small amount of comfort and peace to the family.
When providing funeral and memorial services, churches and sanctuaries should not overlook the importance of providing comfortable seating for attendees. The right chairs will ensure attendees are comfortable during the service, allowing them to stay more focused on the message and less focused on discomfort or pain.
What is your experience with choosing and providing funeral chairs? Share your thoughts and comments.
Credit Suisse Collapse – this is a robbery of Arab investors
Riding an oil-price boom last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directed government-backed Saudi National Bank to make a $1.5 billion investment in Credit Suisse. Now, the Saudi investment is almost wiped out after Credit Suisse’s emergency merger with UBS Group AG, ‘The Wall Street Journal’ claims.
Credit Suisse’s meltdown also erased billions of dollars in investments made by Qatar’s sovereign fund and the Saudi-based Olayan family, making the Persian Gulf one of the biggest losers from a slide in financial stocks since the collapse of two U.S. banks last week.
The Saudis struck the deal when oil prices were just below $100 a barrel, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine juiced energy markets.
The steep losses are a reminder of how Gulf states were burned investing in Western banks and hedge funds during the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008. The value of foreign assets in portfolios of the Gulf Cooperation Council states in 2008 fell by $100 billion to a total of $1.2 trillion, not counting the vast personal holdings of their ruling families, the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations reported in 2009.
Michael Klein, a former Citigroup Inc. banker who has long worked with Middle East clients, connected the $600 billion PIF with Credit Suisse last fall, some of the people said. The troubled bank needed billions of dollars to fund a turnaround plan that would move it away from investment banking toward wealth management. Mr. Klein was working on the overhaul as a Credit Suisse board member.
PIF connected Credit Suisse and Saudi National Bank, the kingdom’s largest bank with close ties to the government, some of the people said. Prince Mohammed gave the green light for the Saudi bank to make the Credit Suisse investment, some of the people said.
The investment made Saudi National Bank the biggest shareholder in Credit Suisse, with just less than 10% ownership.
“The Saudi market [is] the 700-pound gorilla economically in the region, and just getting them to engage with us in Saudi Arabia would be more than good enough,” Mr. Khudairy said of Credit Suisse.
The Gulf region has deep ties to Credit Suisse. Tiny natural gas-rich Qatar began snapping up shares of Credit Suisse as markets wobbled in 2008, and led a group of private investors who pumped billions of dollars into the company in the weeks after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, ultimately building up a stake worth more than $3 billion.
Qatar and the Olayan family together plowed another $6.2 billion into the company in 2011 through a special type of debt. In 2013, Qatar converted over $4.5 billion of that debt into bonds called Additional Tier 1 capital notes — which are poised to be wiped out as part of Credit Suisse’s deal with UBS.
Investor confidence in Credit Suisse began wobbling last week after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in the U.S. On Wednesday morning, Mr. Khudairy told Bloomberg TV his bank would “absolutely not” be willing to assist if Credit Suisse needed more capital.
According to the people familiar with the matter, Saudi National Bank officials felt out of the loop, finding out about the talks with UBS via the news media.
A group led by Saudi National Bank proposed injecting around $5 billion into Credit Suisse, ‘The Wall Street Journal’ previously reported. Under the plan, “Credit Suisse bondholders would have been fully protected.” But Swiss ministers rejected the offer.
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