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Germany takes centre stage in the Ukraine-Russia crisis talks


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Hello and welcome to the working week.

It is a bold commentator that tries to predict the conclusion of the diplomatic game of chess that is the Ukraine-Russia border crisis. But the next seven days will produce some significant moves, if not an attempt at checkmate.

Perhaps the strangest event of the week will be on Thursday, when Russia, as current head of the UN Security Council, is due to chair a discussion at the body’s global headquarters in New York about the Ukraine crisis.

But before then we have the new German chancellor Olaf Scholz travelling to Moscow and Kyiv to try to ease the tension. He follows in the footsteps of France’s Emmanuel Macron and UK prime minister Boris Johnson — and the stakes are high for all European economies — but Scholz’s meetings have a particular significance given Germany’s need for a new Ostpolitik, or eastern policy, as Timothy Garton Ash explained in his FT opinion piece this week.

On Wednesday, attention will switch to Nato, where defence chiefs from the member nations are gathering in Brussels.

It’s then back to Germany on Friday as the Munich Security Conference begins. Speakers include Kamala Harris, US vice-president. She is expected to use her trip to meet US allies and partners to deter Russian aggression. It will therefore be a test of her diplomatic skills.

But perhaps this week will not be the catalyst for action. Mindy Kotler, a director of Asia Policy Point, and a loyal Week Ahead subscriber, got in touch — at jonathan.moules@ft.com — to say that next week features Defender of the Fatherland Day (Soviet Army Day), a national holiday in Russia, noting that it “looks like a good day for an invasion.” Hmm. Perhaps, Mindy.

Economic data

The story of 2022, inflation, will be back with another instalment this week as India, China, Japan, the US, the UK and Canada all report data in one form or another — consumer price index or producer price index figures. Employment data are also due from the UK and the EU. Elsewhere, Japan updates us on its quarterly GDP plus the Fed and Reserve Bank of Australia publish their policy meeting minutes.


Food is a theme for this week’s corporate earnings, with analyst calls for the heavyweights of supermarket retailing on either side of the Atlantic — Carrefour and Walmart — as well as consumer goods companies.

Investors in the former will be looking for signs of progress in chief executive Alexandre Bompard’s turnround strategy. Expectations are higher for Walmart, the world’s largest bricks-and-mortar retailer, which has already raised guidance for the full-year earnings it will report on Thursday. However, both companies are under pressure from the global forces of supply chain snarl-ups and rising inflation.

Nestlé has been one of the market’s favourite consumer goods companies under chief executive Mark Schneider. He has shifted its portfolio into fast-growing areas such as plant-based foods, meal kits and pet food. But its 2021 figures, due on Thursday, will reflect a tough comparison with a year earlier, when coronavirus lockdowns boosted sales of items such as coffee. Investors will also be scrutinising how the world’s largest food company expects to deal with rampant cost inflation that has cut into rivals’ margins.

Key economic and company reports

Here is a more complete list of what to expect in terms of company reports and economic data this week.


  • India, January consumer price index (CPI) figures

  • Japan, Q4 GDP data

  • UK, Office for National Statistics report into homeworking and spending during the pandemic

  • Results: Michelin FY, Raizen Q3, Toshiba Q3


  • EU, Q4 GDP and employment data plus December goods trade figures

  • Germany, ZEW economic sentiment survey

  • Hungary, Poland: Q4 GDP

  • India, trade data

  • Japan, December industrial production figures

  • UK, employment data plus quarterly productivity estimate

  • US, January producer price index (PPI) figures

  • Results: Airbnb Q4, BHP Billiton H1, Randstad Q4, ViacomCBS Q4


  • Canada, China, UK: January CPI figures

  • EU, industrial production data

  • Japan, January trade balance figures

  • UK, December house price data

  • US, Federal Open Market Committee releases minutes of its January meeting plus retail sales and industrial production data

  • Results: Barrick Gold Q4, Carrefour FY, Cisco Systems Q2, Heineken FY, Kraft Heinz Q4, Nvidia Q4, Schindler FY, Standard Chartered FY


  • EU, European Central Bank monthly economic bulletin

  • Italy, December trade balance figures

  • Japan, monthly inflation data

  • US, residential construction figures

  • Results: Air France-KLM Q4, Airbus FY, AutoStore Q4, Commerzbank FY, Kering FY, Moneysupermarket.com FY, Nestlé FY, Reckitt Benckiser FY, Repsol Q4, Walmart FY


  • Canada, December retail trade figures

  • EU, consumer confidence data

  • France, Q4 employment figures plus January CPI data

  • UK, January retail sales figures

  • Results: Allianz FY, EDF FY, Eni FY, John Deere Q1, NatWest FY, Norwegian Air Q4, Renault Q4, Segro FY

World events

Finally, here is a rundown of other events and milestones this week.


  • Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro to visit Russia

  • German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, to visit Ukraine in an effort to ease tensions over the build-up of Russian forces on the border. He visits Moscow on Tuesday.

  • Valentine’s Day


  • Eightieth anniversary of Singapore falling to Japan in the second world war

  • Chinese Lantern Festival marks end of the Lunar New Year celebrations

  • UK, anniversary of Decimal Day in 1971 when British currency finally moved to a system based on units of 10



  • Russia, as the current head of the UN Security Council, plans to hold a meeting on Ukraine at UN headquarters in New York


  • Germany, 58th Munich Security Conference begins, with attendees due to include US vice-president Kamala Harris and German chancellor Olaf Scholz

  • London Fashion Week begins

  • UK, latest deadline for the government to agree a funding deal for Transport for London following the pandemic hit to the Tube operator’s finances

  • US, self-imposed deadline for Congress to pass legislation to avoid a partial federal government shutdown



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