Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

A chaotic exodus against the clock

Written by Javier Maquieira, senior associate 
Edited by Tom Gillingham, associate partner
25 August 2021

Good morning,

It’s been a momentous 24 hours for the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.
 
Emergency meetings, press conferences, and evacuation plans flew around on Tuesday as G7 leaders tried to press President Joe Biden to delay the withdrawal of US troops beyond the 31 August evacuation deadline.
 
Chaired by the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, the G7 meeting resulted in the agreement of a roadmap of engagement with the Taliban, which rests upon one crucial demand: safe passage for those who want to leave the country beyond that date.
 
The group’s efforts have been of no avail. President Biden has remained unmoved, rejecting pleas for a delay and citing security threats from the terrorist group Isis-K as one of the main reasons behind his decision to reject an extension. 
 
Speaking at their own press conference on Tuesday, the Taliban insisted extending the evacuation deadline would violate the agreement with the US and asked the international community not to encourage Afghan nationals to leave the country. The Islamist group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said Afghans face “no danger” as “the war for us has finished”. However, there are “harrowing and credible” reports that summary executions of civilians are being carried out and the rights of women, violated.
 
Words have quickly turned into action for the Taliban. The road leading to Kabul airport has been blocked for Afghan nationals that now must brave checkpoints and risk injury or death in the crowds as they hope to flee the country. Afghan working women – one of the European Union’s priority groups for evacuation – are not to return to work “for the time being” and should remain at home “for their own security”, according to Mujahid.
 
At the time of writing, at least 70,700 people have been airlifted from Kabul. Defence sources in the UK, where the prime minister is facing criticism from all sides for failing to persuade Biden, said Britain’s evacuation from the Afghan capital is expected to end within “24 to 36 hours”. The move risks abandoning thousands of Afghans, including women’s rights activists and judges at serious risk from the Taliban.
 
If anything, the deteriorating situation at Kabul airport has highlighted the limits of western influence in Afghanistan since the Taliban swept to power more than a week ago. As the airlift deadline looms, expect the risk of starvation, disease, and persecution for millions of Afghans to be felt well beyond the country’s borders.

News

Public health experts in England have reported an expected waning of protection against Covid-19 in double-vaccinated people. According to their estimates, protection after two shots of Pfizer decreased from 88% at one month to 74% at five to six months, while the fall was from 77% to 67% at four to five months for AstraZeneca. Despite this data, researchers have insisted that vaccines still provide a high level of protection against severe illness and deaths.
 
The Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts, has died at the age of 80. It was announced earlier this month that the musician, who had been a member of the English rock band since 1963, was to miss the group’s forthcoming US tour, which will resume in September following its postponement last year.
 
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games opened last night in a ceremony full of colour, celebration, and poignancy. The event’s concept, “We Have Wings”, was intended to raise awareness of the courage of Paralympians, especially in Japan, where it is hoped the Games will act as a catalyst for change in societal attitudes towards disability.

Business and economy

Ryanair will stop all flights from Northern Ireland after the airline blamed the UK government’s passenger duty and the absence of any Covid-19 recovery incentives for both Belfast international airport and Belfast City airport. The move comes as a further blow to connectivity between Northern Ireland and the rest of Europe when it is trying to attract foreign investment in the post-Brexit business landscape.
 
According to a survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), major retailers’ stock levels in relation to expected sales fell to their lowest level in August since 1983, when it began tracking retail industry trends. The organisation has blamed staff shortages and transport disruption triggered by the pandemic and Brexit for the trend, which could continue for longer than expected.
 
Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky has told the BBC that there is still time for companies to “speak up and help” Afghans facing displacement in what he called “the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time”. The accommodation platform has promised to provide free temporary stays for 20,000 Afghan refugees globally.

Columns of note

Could a four-day week become one of the few good things to come from the pandemic? In The Times, Alice Thomson explores the concept, which economists are now linking to higher levels of productivity and employee contentment. Although new, more altruistic generations would prefer to balance paid work and volunteering, a majority of British workers wouldn’t favour cutting working hours if it meant lower wages. (£)
 
Writing in the Financial Times, Marietje Schaake argues that protection for critical infrastructure is often awarded using twentieth-century criteria, leaving significant information produced by data and knowledge centres unnecessarily vulnerable. She calls for academic institutions to be designated critical knowledge infrastructure to afford them extra cyber security protections against ransomware attacks and foreign intrusion, without compromising their independence. (£)

Cartoon source: The Times

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks finished higher on Tuesday with decent gains in travel and leisure. The FTSE 100 ended the day up 0.24% at 7,125.78, while sterling was weaker both against the dollar by 0.03% at $1.37 and versus the euro by 0.06% at €1.17.
 
Across the pond, Wall Street closed at record highs as investors shook off Delta variant fears. The S&P 500 finished 0.2% higher and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite closed up 0.5%.
 
In company news:
 
J Sainsbury declined 4.85% after surging on Monday, following a report that US private equity firm Apollo was considering making a £7bn offer for the supermarket chain.
 
Wood Group slid 0.21% as the consulting and engineering company reported a rise in interim profit as trading momentum improved in the second half but said revenue fell 22.9%.
 
Rio Tinto gained 2.97% after the miner said it had resumed operations at Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in South Africa.

What’s happening today?

Interims
Anglo Pacific
Costain
Grafton Group

AGMs
Adams
Afritin Mining.
Kaspi.kz S
Latham Timber
Oxford Technology 2 VCT
Oxf.tech 3 Vct
Oxford Technology 4 VCT      
Oxford Technology Venture Capital Trust

Int. economic announcements
(07:00) Import Price Index (GER)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Apples, pears, peaches, cherries, and raspberries are all members of the rose family. (Source: @8fact)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

Scottish parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess until 30 August.

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