As the Federal Reserve kicked off 2024 nearly achieving its inflation target, officials remain hesitant to lower interest rates due to the persistent risk of inflation exceeding their 2% goal. Recent inflation data, particularly concerning consumer prices excluding food and energy, rose unexpectedly in January, suggesting businesses, especially within the services sector, still possess significant pricing power. This development has dampened hopes for an imminent easing of monetary policy. The Fed's cautious stance is further reinforced by various uncertainties, including the robustness of the economy and geopolitical tensions, which have influenced their decision to adopt a more deliberate approach towards adjusting interest rate policies.
Gold miner SSR Mining suspended production at a mine in eastern Turkey after a landslide, which left at least nine miners missing. The disaster also sent the stock down more than 50% in its Toronto-listed shares.
On Monday Zimbabwe’s government said it plans to introduce a gold-backed currency to replace the country’s nearly worthless dollar. Minister for Finance and Economic Development Mthuli Ncube told reporters in an online press conference that Zimbabwe was making the move to ensure sustained growth. “Going forward, we want to make sure that the growth we have achieved so far — which is very strong — is maintained and even increased,” he said. “We can only do that if we have further stability in the domestic currency. ... And the way to do that is perhaps to link the exchange rate to some hard asset such as gold.”
Scotiabank has forecasted a downturn for the US Dollar in 2024, influenced by the strengthening of the BRICS alliance and ongoing global inflation trends. Over the past year, the BRICS countries have seen an increase in their economic significance, partly due to Western sanctions which have accelerated their de-dollarization efforts. These developments are expected to further diminish the value of the US Dollar, particularly in its exchange rates against other major global currencies. Scotiabank's analysis suggests that the concerted efforts of the BRICS nations to reduce dependency on the US Dollar, combined with inflationary pressures, will contribute to the dollar's depreciation in the upcoming year.
During President Joe Biden's tenure, over 3.7 million borrowers have seen their student loans forgiven, totaling $136.6 billion in relief. The Supreme Court thwarted Biden's proposal to cancel up to $400 billion for millions of Americans, prompting his administration to leverage every available avenue within its existing authority to reduce student debt burdens. The administration's proactive review of borrower accounts continues to identify those eligible for forgiveness, marking a period of unprecedented loan cancellation activity.