Privet i dobro pozhalovat to this week’s blog, which has a distinct homage to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, hosted for the first time in Russia. Whether you will watch any of the matches or not, take five minutes and enjoy the latest News, Views and Truths.
So here we go. The quadrennial international football competition which delivers frequently dodgy songs (more of that to come) and heartbreak for England fans. This year’s competition, running from 14th June to 15th July, is the most expensive ever at $14bn with 64 matches played at 12 venues across 11 cities.
• 3.2bn people (almost half of the world’s entire population) watched the 2014 World Cup.
• The 2002 World Cup was the first time the competition was hosted in two different countries; South Korea and Japan.
• The oldest goal scorer was Roger Milla who was 42 in 1994 when he scored for Cameroon against Russia.
• In this year’s competition, the distance between the most easternmost host city (Ekaterinburg) and the westernmost (Kaliningrad) is 1500 miles; that’s the same distance as Moscow to London.
Brazil and Germany are favourites to win at 9/2; England are at 16s and 14s to reach the final itself. Harry Kane is favourite to be England’s top goal scorer at 5/4, although Marcus Rashford at 8/1 could be a good shout. Then again, no goal scorer is 50/1…
And whilst all eyes are on Russia, the US Federal Reserve has increased interest rates by one quarter of a percent, from 1.75% to 2%, signalling that two more increases are likely in 2018 amid the accelerating US economy and rapid job creation. Importantly, the central bank dropped previous crisis-era assurances that is would keep rates below their historical norms.
“The Committee expects that further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will be consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labour market conditions, and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2 per cent objective over the medium term,” the Fed said, adding that risks to the outlook were roughly balanced.
This move was widely anticipated and therefore was largely ignored by markets; the US closed down 0.4%. In Europe, the rate rise has sparked discussion as to whether or not the ECB will announce a change to its programme of quantitative easing, due to expire in September this year. One thing that is for certain is that the already fascinating fixed income market is about to become far more trickier if the main buyer of Eurozone debt starts to reign in its purchases. Watch this space…
And to round up this week’s piece in consistent fashion, the playlist is dedicated to the World Cup; a bleak list to “songs” condensed into a slightly bleaker list. Try to enjoy and hopefully I shall see you all next week.