FirstFT: Sunak takes advantage of public finances with pre-election tax cut


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Rishi Sunak yesterday offered pain relief to households facing a crippling cost of living crisis, but he took the bulk of a £50billion windfall in public finances as the UK Uni is entering dark economic times.

The Chancellor hopes to use some of that money for pre-election tax cuts, but his allies expect he will have to come up with a much bigger household bailout package in the fall amid runaway inflation and higher energy bills bite.

Labor claimed the tax cuts contained in Sunak’s spring declaration were nowhere near enough to offset a decline in living standards not seen since comparable record highs began in 1956, and some Tory MPs agreed in private. The announcement confirms a grim political and economic situation.

Opinion: Rishi Sunak is a low-tax chancellor the way people who play air guitar in their bedrooms are rock stars. He did his best, writes Henry Mance. Robert Shrimsley argues that the Chancellor’s most political decision has resurrected the old notion of deserving and undeserving.

Share your thoughts with us at [email protected] and we can feature them in the newsletter. Here’s the rest of today’s news — Jennifer

1. United States: Russia has committed war crimes The United States said it had firmly determined that the Russian military had committed war crimes in Ukraine, pointing to atrocities including “indiscriminate attacks deliberately targeting civilians”. The charge came after NATO announced it would provide Kyiv with defenses against chemical and nuclear weapons. To follow our live blog for the last.

More news about Ukraine

2. DeFi projects are full of hidden “risks” The global umbrella organization of securities regulators has warned that decentralized finance contains a myriad of conflicts and hidden risks, as authorities begin to circumvent one of the most dynamic corners of the cryptocurrency markets.

3. Chelsea will be allowed to inject £30million The football club’s parent company will be allowed to inject up to £30m to help the Premier League side ‘address any cash or liquidity issues’.

4. The Taliban ban Afghan teenage girls from secondary school The Taliban have said students in grade 7, around 13, will not be allowed to return to class. The U-turn drew international condemnation and left desperate students stranded outside campuses.

5. Evergrande bondholders threaten legal action A group of bondholders are closing in on formal legal action against the world’s most indebted property developer after it came as a surprise revelation that mysterious lenders to one of its subsidiaries were demanding more than $2 billion in cash .

Video: Evergrande: The end of China’s property boom

Summary of coronavirus

The day ahead

World leaders meet in Brussels NATO heads of state will discuss the next steps in the Ukrainian conflict a month after the start of the Russian invasion. Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, is expected to urge leaders to double down on economic sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime and step up defensive lethal aid, as he unveils a £25m financial package for Ukraine’s armed forces as well as 6,000 defensive missiles. US President Joe Biden and European leaders fear Putin will resort to weapons of mass destruction.

  • Elsewhere in NATO: The leaders will discuss extending the term of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg beyond his scheduled departure this summer. This decision coincides with a meeting of the European Council of leaders of EU member states.

Moscow Stock Exchange partially reopens Trading will resume on 33 stocks, including Sberbank, Rosneft and VTB, but only between 9:50 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Toshiba shareholders’ meeting The meeting will be the culmination of a four-year battle between Toshiba and shareholders who believe they can force the conglomerate to reopen takeover talks with private equity.

P&O chief faces MPs Peter Hebblethwaite will appear at a special joint session of the House’s transport and business, energy and industrial strategy committees after Boris Johnson accused the ferry company of breaking the law by sacking nearly 800 staff without notice last week.

Economic data Purchasing managers’ index reports for the euro zone, France, Germany, the UK and the US are expected to show a slight slowdown in activity in March, after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. (FT, WSJ)

What else we read

Roman Abramovich’s yachts navigate the Turkish squall The superyacht Eclipse, one of the billionaire’s ocean-going vessels, arrived in Marmaris port this week, its 163-meter hull illustrating Western concerns over Turkey’s reluctance to sign sweeping sanctions against Russia.

The pendulum of globalization returns Powerful investing themes emerge in a connection between seemingly unrelated events. The outbreak of war in Ukraine revealed such a theme, and Howard Marks, co-founder of Oaktree Capital, thinks investors should heed it.

The global food crisis is the prisoners of trade’s dilemma The rush for more crops in the ground goes against the decades-long direction of European agricultural policy and subsidies. It is in everyone’s interest to keep exports flowing, writes Alan Beattie.

Iran’s enemies in the Middle East are closing ranks Efforts to renew the 2015 nuclear deal could be in jeopardy, writes David Gardner, as the possibility of the United States removing Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards from its list of foreign terrorists worries the region.

We need to be clear about dirty money In trying to impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs, Western governments are forced to look in the dark, writes Gillian Tett. For example, Roman Abramovich’s $50 million Aspen villa is listed in his own name, a rarity among oligarch assets.

Movie

write with fire follows the all-female staff of Hindi news portal Khabar Lahariya. This “observational documentary” is not only about journalism, but also reveals the complexity of caste and class inequalities. Here’s how a film about fearless Indian reporters made it to the Oscars.

Indian journalist Suneeta must fight chauvinism and corruption © BBC/Black Ticket Films

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