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Amid the economic gloom and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, there are signs of a return to normality.

The Golden Globes returns to its home in Los Angeles this week after boycotts over a lack of diversity led to the event’s cancellation last year. Looking ahead, world leaders, business leaders and economic thinkers will begin arriving in the Swiss resort of Davos this Sunday for next week’s World Economic Forum.

The next seven days also see the starting gun for the official start of the fourth-quarter earnings season, starting with Wall Street banks and British retailers. This will of course remind us that we are back to normal for the global economy – more on that below.

For the UK, normality right now means widespread industrial activity. Strike ballots have been closed for teaching unions in England and Wales this week as emergency workers and driving instructors stage more walkouts.

At least the US Congress has returned to normalcy with the vote to appoint Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Attention can now turn to the economic challenges this year will bring – more on this week’s upcoming data announcements below.

A rocket carrying a payload of small satellites sits under the wing of ‘Space Girl’, a converted Boeing 747, at Cornwall Spaceport in Newquay © Tim Hepher/Reuters

Can things get better? Yes, if you are in Cornwall. Monday promises to be a historic day for a UK county – at least according to Virgin Orbit – with the launch of the first space satellite from the UK.

It’s best described as a bit of classic British eccentricity as the nine satellites will be launched into orbit using a rocket launched from a modified Boeing 747 due to take off from Newquay Airport on Monday night. It certainly shows a degree of creativity and should lift at least some British spirits.


Who likes interest rate hikes? Banks, who is he? That will become clear this week when several of Wall Street’s biggest lenders report fourth-quarter numbers on Friday.

These companies cashed in on Fed tightening by raising interest rates on loans rather than deposits. Analysts expect JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo to post a collective net interest income of about $60 billion for the final three months of 2022, up 30 percent year over year, according to consensus data compiled by Bloomberg. The concern is that this revenue growth side cannot continue and the net interest margin has peaked.

A line graph of net interest income in billions of dollars shows the sharp increase in loan income of the big US banks

The flip side of rising interest rates is the challenge of high inflation, which brings me to another topic on the corporate calendar this week, retailers. An increase in check prices may seem like a good thing for retailers. Not when inflation reaches double digits.

Just how badly it went over the Christmas period – or whether stocking up to watch the World Cup really provides any added value – we’ll find out this week through a series of trading updates from British high street and online brands.

Consumer spending could certainly be better than expected, as Next showed last week. Games Workshop, which reported first-half numbers on Tuesday, is generating a lot of excitement (and not just among Dungeons and Dragons-obsessed teenagers) about growth opportunities due to a surge in role-playing games during the pandemic. Investor (and teen) expectations have been raised even further by the fantasy game producer’s latest Amazon TV and movie deal.

Economic data

A shopper carries a Zara bag on Regent Street, London

A shopper carries a Zara bag on Regent Street, London. The British Retail Consortium updates its monthly high street sales survey on Tuesday © Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

Expect consumer price index and other inflation data from the US, China, Japan, Australia, Brazil and Mexico in the coming days.

The British Retail Consortium updates its monthly survey of UK high street sales on Tuesday, while on Friday the Office for National Statistics publishes its latest monthly gross domestic product estimate of where the country stands in terms of the recession.

Monetary policy comes this week from the Bank of Korea, which is expected to raise its base rate by another 25 basis points to 3.50 percent on Friday.

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