Briefing of May 5, 2022 — Quartz

Here’s what you need to know

The Russian ruble jumped over two years against the dollar and the euro. The currency remains supported by capital controls.

Hungary rejected EU plan to ban Russian oil…. The European Commission had proposed to end imports of Russian oil in six months. Meanwhile, the UK has halted service exports to Russia as the EU prepares to impose war crimes sanctions.

… And European energy prices have risen. Gas, electricity and coal prices rose more than 4% following the EU’s announcement to phase out Russian oil.

Beijing has tightened covid restrictions. The Chinese capital closed 60 subway stations as 51 new cases were confirmed.

US companies have warned of supply chain issues related to Shanghai’s lockdown. Companies such as Apple and GE have anticipated commercial successes and disrupted operations that could stretch into the summer.

India has hiked interest rates… Its central bank announced the first rate hike in two years as it seeks to rein in soaring consumer prices, and it was not the only one (see below).

…and saw its biggest IPO ever. Life Insurance Corp debuted at $2.7 billion.

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To monitor

On the heels of the US Federal Reserve raising its federal funds rate by half a percentage point – the largest such increase since 2000 – the Bank of England is also expected to raise interest rates to a high of 13 years. Like the Fed, BoE officials are concerned about slowing demand too much and aiming for what the US calls a “soft landing.”

Pop quiz: which major central bank? doesn’t have rates increased further?

  1. European Central Bank
  2. Swiss National Bank
  3. Bank of Canada
  4. Reserve Bank of Australia

The answer is both 1 and 2. Prices in Switzerland are not rising as fast as they are in the EU and the United States, while the ECB takes into account the impact of the war in Ukraine on economic growth in the EU.

Why ban Russian oil?

The European Union will stop all crude and refined oil imports from Russia by the end of 2022, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said. Here is a numerical overview of the impact this could have:

25%: Share of total European oil coming from Russia

12%: Share of Germany’s total oil coming from Russia

96%: Share of total oil of Slovakia coming from Russia

$285 million: Daily amount of funding Russia’s war in Ukraine gets from oil

In the short term, however, the European embargo will likely benefit Russia, as higher prices could compensate for the drop in the number of barrels sold.

The Enduring Power of Practical Design

Image copyright: Eames Institute

More sweat than sprezzatura.

The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity was launched last month. The educational nonprofit is a design lover’s paradise, with a collection of thousands of prototypes and models left behind by mid-century design couple Ray and Charles Eames. Everything is accessible virtually at the moment, but plans to open as a museum in the future. Anne Quito of Quartz discovered some familiar seats:

🪑 Tandem Sling seats: Airport maintenance staff gave the Eameses crucial feedback on the ubiquitous, easy-to-fix black and silver chairs that travelers at the gates are used to collapsing while waiting for a flight delay.

🪑 LCW molded plywood chair: Developing leg braces for the U.S. military led the Eameses to pioneer a plywood bending technique used to mass-produce the chair that TIME magazine called “the best design of the 20th century” .

🪑 Eames lounge chair and ottoman: This status chair has an extra deep recline for the US market. Europeans, in comparison, prefer to relax in a more upright position.

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Surprising discoveries

Bolivian prisoners can shorten their prison term by reading books. The program aims to spread literacy in resource-poor prisons.

A Brazilian entered the Guinness Book of World Records for staying with a company for 84 years. Sales manager Walter Orthmann has worked for textile manufacturer Renaux since he was 15 years old.

Elon Musk gets the first dibs on a famous Sicilian landmark. The Turkish Steps co-owner thinks Musk should add an eroded limestone cliff to his shopping list.

Foodies are obsessed with Cambodian peppercorns. Italian chefs attest that Kampot’s complex flavor profile enhances dishes like cacio and pepe or rigatoni alla griciabetter than ho-hum black pepper.

Italian chefs will also have to accept that the future of pasta is chickpeas. With climate change making durum wheat less abundant, the all-purpose chickpea may need to step in. Learn more about how pasta has warmed hearts and stomachs around the world in the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast.

🍝 Listen on: Apple podcast | Spotify | Google | embroiderer

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