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Gold Market Soars Amid Financial Turmoil

The price of gold is climbing at a rapid pace as the banking crisis continues to ripple through the financial markets and the inflationary climate worries investors.
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 (full fact-check in progress).
Person depositing a gold bar in a well-stocked reserve of precious metals
The precious metal traded at over $2,000 per ounce (31.1 grams)

On Friday, April 7, gold prices rose more than 2%, representing the largest weekly increase in gold since November. This upward trend was driven by investors’ desire to hedge against economic instability due to the current banking crisis.

In 2022, central banks and other sovereign wealth funds bought 1,136 tons of gold, more than double the amount of the previous year. This rush to buy the yellow metal is the largest volume of gold purchased in 55 years. It has the effect of exploding global demand, which has reached 4,741 tons of gold in 2022, a figure that is 18% higher than in 2021.

The use of gold as a safe haven goes back thousands of years. Ancient civilizations already used the yellow metal as a medium of exchange and a store of wealth.

In modern times, gold has often been seen as a way to protect against inflation, currency fluctuations, stock market shocks, economic crises and geopolitical tensions. In times of crisis, gold was and still is often preferred to other forms of currency because of its portability and durability.

Its scarcity and difficulty of extraction make it a valuable and prized metal, giving it a high intrinsic value. Moreover, it does not degrade over time, unlike perishable commodities, and thus retains its value. This physical asset can be stored at home, unlike bonds and shares which are dematerialized and dependent on third parties, such as financial institutions.

Central banks have always been key players in the gold market as a safe haven

Finally, gold is not subject to the fluctuations of the financial markets, and thus, it mitigates the risk of financial losses in case of economic or political crisis. And unlike real estate, gold is easily traded and can be sold quickly. It is a scarce and tangible resource that cannot be artificially created like bonds, making it a stable and reliable asset.

These characteristics make gold a particularly popular safe haven in times of crisis for investors seeking security for their savings and protecting their portfolios from volatile equity markets.

This also explains why gold continues to be supported by central bank purchases, which see it as a means of diversifying their foreign exchange reserves in the face of current macroeconomic uncertainties.

Renewable Energy Rises in Power but Remains Outpaced by Fossil Fuels

Although fossil fuels still dominate the world's electricity production, solar and wind power are gradually gaining ground.
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Worker on a solar station equipped with wind turbines
Clean energy growth is good news for the environment

According to the “Global Electricity Review” report, published by the global energy think tank Ember, 12% of the world’s electricity was generated by solar and wind in 2022.

While this total is an all-time high, it should not obscure the fact that coal remains the leading source of electricity in the world today.

The report analyzes data from 78 countries, representing 93% of global electricity demand. It shows that renewables have seen a 40% increase in electricity generation since 2015. Wind and solar’s share of electricity generation has also increased by 19% over the same period.

However, coal remains the world’s leading source of electricity, accounting for 36% of global power generation in 2022. Natural gas comes in second, weighing in at 23% of total energy produced.

The continued use of gas and coal to meet the growing demand for electricity has resulted in increased greenhouse gas emissions. This has reached a new record level of 12 billion tons of CO2 equivalent in 2022 (a 1.3% increase compared to 2021).

The report also points out that some countries continue to have a heavy reliance on coal for power generation, such as China, India, Indonesia and South Africa.

The economic benefits of renewable energy are clear. The costs of producing wind and solar power have dropped significantly in recent years, making them an increasingly viable option for large-scale power generation.

Finally, the Global Electricity Review highlights the importance of continuing efforts to increase the share of renewable energy in electricity generation to reduce dependence on fossil fuels such as coal and gas and to meet global climate goals.

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Despite Brexit, London Still Leads in Tech Investment in Europe

With a total of nearly $20 billion, investment in London tech startups has surpassed that of other European cities.
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Financial District of London seen from the River Thames
The British capital continues to reign supreme among innovative start-ups

In 2022, $19.8 billion in venture capital was invested in London’s tech companies, $10 billion more than Paris and $14 billion more than Berlin, according to Dealroom and the nonprofit London & Partners, founded by former London Mayor Boris Johnson.

On a global scale, the UK is the third largest contributor to new technologies, behind the US and China.

Still, London’s investments have dropped significantly from the $27.5 billion raised in 2021. This decline is due to a general decrease in investment around the world due to rising interest rates and the disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In addition, the impact of the Brexit on London tech has been felt in the recruitment sector. The city is currently facing a talent shortage that limits its ability to evolve and grow. As it turns out, more and more young graduates are looking to cross the Atlantic to develop their skills in the US.

Despite this challenging economic environment, Laura Citron, managing director of London & Partners, said the City’s technology sector is resilient.

She added that London continues to be the technology hub of Europe and one of the best places in the world to grow an innovative business. The city’s strengths include its heritage in the finance sector, its economic dynamism embodied in a strong entrepreneurial community, a highly supportive regulatory environment for innovation and significant tax advantages for startups.

Dealroom analysts said the venture capital ecosystem in Europe is on the upswing, largely due to the large amounts of money that were raised before the recession.

Despite fears over the Brexit, London has not been dethroned by other European capitals like Amsterdam, Berlin or Paris as some experts predicted. Better still, the city should be able to retain its status as Europe’s technology capital for many years to come.

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OPEC+ Makes Big Move Affecting Oil Price: 1.66 Million Barrels Per Day Cut

Tensions are rising between the United States and Saudi Arabia as analysts suspect the top oil producer and its partners of imposing a floor price per barrel.
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A line of working oil pumps are silhouetted against the sun and sky
OPEC+ cuts production output causing a rise in oil prices

Oil prices spiked by over 6% on Monday, April 3, 2023, after OPEC+ announced an unexpected cut in oil production of 1.66 million barrels per day. The voluntary production cut will be implemented from May until the end of 2023. This move surprised markets and was criticized by the United States Government as not advisable.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) comprises 23 countries that export crude oil: 13 historical members plus 10 additional producing countries since 2016. The group coordinates to determine the appropriate volume of crude oil to sell on the global market. By cooperating in this way, OPEC+ can regulate the price they get for their oil.

Saudi Arabia remains the largest oil producer within OPEC+, with a daily production of up to 10 million barrels. Historically, the nation has been known for its close ties with the United States. It was a reliable supplier of crude oil to support the dollar as the global reserve currency.

However, tensions have developed between the US and Saudi Arabia over various issues. Subsequently, Saudi leadership have expressed interest in moving closer to China and the BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa).

President Biden went to Saudi Arabia in July 2022 to negotiate a rise in oil production in order to reduce gasoline prices. Despite his efforts, Saudi Arabia denied his request, leaving the issue unresolved.

Saudi Arabia and its OPEC+ allies say they are committed to ensuring the stability of global oil markets. However, some oil analysts have interpreted recent production cuts as signalling that OPEC+ has identified a floor price for global crude oil trading. This means they may intervene with measures to buoy the market should it approach or dip below that level.

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