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An August work trip for central bankers

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Hello and welcome to the working week.

Central bankers will be packing their bags ready for a few days in the great outdoors this week. But unlike the rest of us, their annual August getaway — to Wyoming — will be no holiday.

The Jackson Hole Economic Symposium, which starts on Thursday, will be closely watched and for good reason. The beast of inflation has slipped its shackles and is running rampant around the world.

Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell is the symposium’s headline act — he is due to speak on Friday — with the audience keen to hear guidance on the US rate-setting path. His comments are likely to be hawkish given recent data on the US jobs market and views from the Federal Open Market Committee — the July minutes revealed some uncertainty over the strength of US employment, but the committee still advocated a restrictive rate-setting policy to quell price pressures.

The Fed is not alone among central banks in taking an aggressive stance. For instance, read the comments from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand when it raised its rate by 50 basis points last week.

Further clarification appears to be needed for the US markets, however. As my colleagues on Unhedged have noted, traders have not been buying the hawkish line.

The UK’s inflation problems will be brought into focus with the anticipated announcement from energy regulator Ofgem on the new (ie higher) gas and electricity price caps. Sadly for Britons, the indicators are that the pain of the domestic energy crisis has only just begun. There was an ominous sign last week when an Ofgem director quit in protest at the way changes to the energy price gave “too much benefit to companies at the expense of consumers”.

Then there is Ukraine, where this Wednesday will mark six months since Russia’s full-scale invasion, a sombre occasion occurring on the same date as the country’s independence day — and only two days after Russia’s national flag day celebrations.

And the good news coming up this week? Well, the Edinburgh Festival has been back on the streets of the Scottish capital this year and will celebrate a successful return with its traditional closing fireworks ceremony on Sunday — the same day that marks the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. A reminder that we can build a better future.

Thank you for your continued feedback on The Week Ahead. Keep the emails coming to jonathan.moules@ft.com, or hit reply to the email of this newsletter. I am taking a week’s summer break, but The Week Ahead will be back next Sunday with my colleague Jennifer Creery in the writer’s chair.

Last week, I wrote that Japan’s former prime minister Yoshihide Suga would be attending the commemorative ceremony to mark the end of the second world war, when it was, of course, the current prime minister Fumio Kishida. Apologies.

Economic data

Surveys dominate the data schedule this week, notably the flash purchasing managers’ index reports and a rush of business and consumer confidence measures, giving an indication of relative economic strength across the globe.

The US will also be supplying personal income, durable goods and house sales data, while Japan publishes inflation figures. On Thursday, we will get the minutes from the last European Central Bank monetary policy committee meeting.

Companies

There is a post-lockdown theme to financial results this week. For some, such as pandemic darlings Zoom and Delivery Hero, it will about returning to earth as the world of hybrid work settles. Zoom fatigue is a thing, plus a combination of economic slowdown and the opportunity to eat out may temper demand for home deliveries in the coming months.

Others are hoping that things (ie aeroplanes) are taking off again after two years of restrictions. We have a clutch of airlines reporting quarterly figures.

Qantas attracted headlines this month for employing its managers as baggage handlers to relieve chaos at airport terminals. And it seems the flying kangaroo has rediscovered some bounce, forecasting a cut in net debt to about A$4bn ($2.8bn) by the end of the year, while delivering underlying profit growth of about A$500mn in the second half.

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.

Monday

  • UK high street retailer John Lewis ends its 97-year-old price pledge “never knowingly undersold”

  • Results: Ampol H1, Zoom Video Communications Q2

Tuesday

  • Eurozone, France, Germany, Japan, UK and US: S&P Global/IHS Markit composite (services and manufacturing) purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data

  • EU, flash consumer confidence figures

  • UK, CBI industrial trends survey

  • US, July residential sales data

  • Results: Macy’s Q2, TAG Immobilien H1, Wood H1

Wednesday

  • Brazil, monthly inflation data

  • South Africa, monthly consumer price index (CPI) figures

  • Results: Costain H1, Delivery Hero H1, Nvidia Q2

Thursday

  • EU, minutes of July’s European Central Bank governing council meeting

  • France, business confidence data

  • Germany, Ifo monthly business confidence index plus Q2 GDP figures

  • Mexico, Q2 GDP data

  • UK, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders monthly vehicle manufacturing figures

  • US, Q2 GDP second estimate plus personal income and goods trade balance figures

  • Results: Air New Zealand FY, Coty Q4, CRH H1, Dell Technologies Q2, Dollar General Q2, Grafton H1, Norwegian Air Shuttle Q2, Qantas Airways FY

Friday

  • France, August consumer confidence data

  • Germany, GfK consumer confidence survey

  • Nigeria, Q2 GDP figures

  • UK, estimate of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET)

  • Results: SAS Q3

World events

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

Monday

  • Italy, the European Economic Association’s annual conference begins at Milan’s Bocconi University

  • Russia, National Flag Day — a national holiday, but offices remain open

  • UK, former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is due to appear before Westminster magistrates’ court charged with “fraud by false representation”. Ecclestone, 91, allegedly failed to declare to HM Revenue & Customs overseas assets believed to be worth more than £400mn.

  • UK, further strike action begins when Unite union members who manufacture coffins for Co-op Funeralcare down tools

Tuesday

  • Ukraine, National Flag Day

  • UK, up to 120 Unite union members employed by the Red Funnel ferry company resume strike action in a row over pay

  • UK, hosepipe bans come into force. South West Water will introduce one covering Cornwall and parts of Devon, the first such restrictions in 26 years, while Thames Water’s will affect 15mn customers across the south of England. A ban for Yorkshire households begins on Thursday.

Wednesday

  • Angola, parliamentary elections

  • UK, around 1,500 Unite members working in the waste departments of 15 Scottish councils will join cleansing workers from City of Edinburgh council in a second wave of strike action over pay

  • Ukraine, Independence Day and six months since Russia’s invasion began

Thursday

  • Algeria, French president Emmanuel Macron begins an official visit to the country

  • Uruguay, Independence Day celebrations and public holiday

  • UK, GCSE results for England, Wales and Northern Ireland published

  • UK, strike ballot closes for train drivers in the Aslef union working for Chiltern Railways, Northern Trains and Transpennine Express

  • US, start of the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium, an annual conference of central bankers, sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

  • US, President Joe Biden attends a Democratic National Committee event in Montgomery County, Maryland

Friday

  • UK, energy regulator Ofgem announces the October price cap, expected to raise the upper limit of charges for households by 65 per cent to £3,244 a year

  • UK, more than 1,000 journalists at regional newspaper publisher Reach plc go on strike over pay. Separately, more than 115,000 members of the Communication Workers Union at Royal Mail will begin four days of strikes in a dispute over wages.

Saturday

  • UK, Notting Hill Carnival, an annual three-day street celebration of Caribbean culture dating back to the 1960s, returns in London

  • UK, third anniversary of the death of British teenager Harry Dunn, who was killed when his motorcycle collided with a car driven by Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US government employee who was working at an American Air Force base

Sunday

  • UK, a fireworks concert marks the end of the annual Edinburgh International Festival

  • US, anniversary of Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC

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