Top international headlines: Covid continues to wreak havoc with global supply chains

India plans to ban private cryptocurrency, Turkish lira tumbles after interest rate cut, and more.

China’s Covid Zero policies are adding to the supply chain crisis, with a global shortage of nitrogen fertiliser expected to further drive an increase in food prices. The US leads the charge for oil stockpiles to be released. The Turkish lira takes a knock from the central bank’s decision to cut interest rates despite raging inflation and India mulls the banning of private cryptocurrency.

Oil stockpile release to swell surplus
OPEC expects that oil stockpiles released by consuming nations could massively swell the surplus in global markets.

The projections from OPEC’s advisory body, the Economic Commission Board, would bolster the case of countries lobbying for such a pause. The excess in world markets would expand by 1.1 million barrels a day in January and February to 2.3 million and 3.7 million a day, respectively, if 66 million barrels are injected over the two-month period, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg.

OPEC+, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, have ignored calls to revive production more quickly.

China’s Covid Zero impacts supply chain
China’s Covid Zero policies are impacting shipping industry recovery, with as much as a seven-week mandatory quarantine for returning Chinese seafarers. Even vessels that have refreshed their crew elsewhere have to wait two weeks before they’re allowed to port in China, reports Bloomberg.

Shipowners and managers have had to reroute ships, delaying shipments and crew changes, adding to the global supply chain crisis.

Turkish lira tumbles after interest rate cut
Turkey’s central bank’s decision to cut interest rates amid increasing inflation has led investors to dump the lira, which has 40 percent of its value this year.

Rates have been slashed by 400 basis points, from 19 percent to 15 percent, since September, despite inflation running at an annual rate of 20 percent in October.

Experts and opposition parties have accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of political interference by putting pressure on the central bank to lower rates, reports CNN Business.

The president has long championed the unorthodox view that rate cuts can fight rising inflation.

Global fertiliser shortage
A global shortage of nitrogen fertiliser is driving prices to record levels, prompting North America’s farmers to delay purchases and raising the risk of a spring scramble to apply the crop nutrient before planting season, reports Reuters.

Farmers apply nitrogen to boost yields of corn, canola and wheat, and higher fertiliser costs could translate into higher meat and bread prices.

World food prices hit a 10-year high in October, according to the UN food agency, led by increases in cereal crops such as wheat and vegetable oils.

India looks to ban private cryptocurrency
The Indian government is preparing to ban private cryptocurrencies and allow the country’s central bank to launch an official digital currency.

The proposed legislation follows a crackdown on cryptocurrencies in China, where financial regulators and the central bank have made all digital currency transactions illegal, reports The Guardian.