Soft skills like team-working and the ability to learn have become more important than experience or even competency on spreadsheets for people looking for jobs in England at the start of 2024.

Using Reed Recruitment’s job vacancy data, Bloomberg will produce monthly readouts on the state of the jobs market in England.

The findings in an analysis of data from Reed Recruitment provided to Bloomberg is an indication that employers have relaxed hiring standards to lure staff from a small pool of applicants. It also sheds light on shifts in working patterns following the pandemic.

The data showed that mentions of “previous experience” in banking, professional and financial services listings have fallen 22% in the month through Jan. 7 compared with pre-Covid levels. References to “excellent communication” were up 18%. Those looking for Microsoft Excel, once considered a must for those in finance and consulting, dropped by 40%.

“A tight labor market, with more vacancies and fewer available workers, makes it harder to find candidates,” said James Reed, chairman of the jobs-search organization that bears his name. “Employers have had to widen their criteria, making communication and other soft skills more important.”

Soft Skills Trump Know-How on UK Employer Wish Lists

Mentions in legal, finance and banking job ads in the month to Jan. 7

Note: Includes jobs in legal, accounting, financial services and banking sectors. Index refers to the normalized frequency of phrases to account for variations in the number of job ads across periods.Source: Reed Recruitment

The findings bolster the Labour Party’s efforts to improve communication skills of students in state schools. Opposition leader Keir Starmer has said communication skills are essential to “remove barriers to opportunity.” That approach differs from Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, which emphasizes math and science education and computer coding skills.

Employers are finding it difficult to hire staff to fill the jobs they have open, which has pushed up wages and triggered alarm bells at the Bank of England. While those forces have moderated in recent months, the Reed figures indicate the pressures are still a factor for many companies.

More than 500,000 people dropped out of the UK workforce since the pandemic, and many of those still haven’t returned. It’s left companies struggling to fill vacancies, a constraint on the ability of the economy to grow and an upward force on wages and prices. Reed’s data sets in sharp relief trends others have noticed.

“When the going gets tough, employers get less specific about what they need,” said Jon Boys, senior labor market economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. “We’re in an environment where it’s really hard to get hold of people. There might be more of an emphasis on recruiting for potential and re-skilling existing staff.”

UK Firms Still Have More Unfilled Roles Than Before Covid

Number of vacancies in the UK, three-month average

Note: January to March 2020 to October to December 2023Source: Office for National Statistics

Official data showed pay growth cooled at one of the fastest paces on record in the three months through November, while the number of employees on payroll dropped in the quarter through December. Postings continued to fall as firms lowered demand for staff, but there were still over 100,000 unfilled roles compared with pre-Covid levels.

Sectors including retail, manufacturing and construction were among those seeing the highest increase in open roles at the end of December compared to 2020, according to separate data from the jobs site Indeed.

A survey by the business consultant Hays indicated that more employers in 2024 are willing to hire candidates who don’t have all the necessary skills in 2024 than the year before. And almost half of employers say it’s not important if a job applicant has a degree, the same report found.

“I don’t know if candidates quite realize the power they still have,” said Gaelle Blake, head of permanent appointments at Hays UK and Ireland. “The jobs market is stronger for the candidate than it’s for the employer.”

Reed says that while companies are more vague about who they’re after, they’re more specific about what they offer. Postings on its site show an increase in mentions of holiday days, pension schemes and mental health than before the pandemic struck in early 2020.

Hays echoed that sentiment, saying benefits like cycle-to-work schemes, corporate retail discounts or eye care vouchers are also becoming more popular than last year.

“You can’t always compete on salary,” according to Kate Shoesmith, deputy chief executive officer at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation. “One of the things that we are definitely seeing as a recruitment trend is how you think about the overall benefits package.”

Non-Pay Benefits Are More Popular Than Pre-Covid

Change in mentions in all job postings in the month to Jan. 7, 2024 versus 2020

Note: Normalized to account for variations in the number of job ads in each periodSource: Reed Recruitment

As employers cast a wider net to fill open roles, candidates who can learn on the job are becoming more desirable. In addition to communication abilities, other desirable traits include the ability to learn new skills, adapt to change, solve problems and work flexibly, according to a number of recruiters.

Looking for good students rather than experts to fill vacancies also comes as generative AI is making it easier to acquire complex skills like coding or writing with flair. Companies are increasingly scouting employees who understand how to use ChatGPT-style tools as the technology becomes more widespread in the workplace, according to Ngaire Moyes, UK country manager at LinkedIn. Job postings mentioning AI have already more than doubled in the UK over the last two years, LinkedIn said.

Almost a quarter of UK companies said they planned to automate more of their work in Autumn 2023 in the face of skill shortages, around 37% more than the year before, according to a CIPD report.

More Firms Want Workers Who Can Learn on the Job

Top soft skills UK employers are looking for in 2024

Source: Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends Guide 2024

“You’re taking a skill that would’ve taken decades to learn and you’ve put it within grasp of the new starter,” Boys said. “AI could be a boon for the mediocre worker.”Reed said that lockdowns that forced millions of people to work from home interrupted the social skills people develop in offices.

“Covid-19 acted as a huge barrier to soft skills development, and now there is a fresh push from employers to re-nurture these skills,” Reed said. “The increased emphasis on soft skills suggests employers are looking for candidates showing potential to grow within their business and adapt, bolstering their technical ability along the way.”

Federal Reserve policymakers may finally be right on the verge of cutting interest rates.

Going into this week’s two-day policy meeting, which wraps Wednesday afternoon in Washington, investors are assigning roughly even odds to the prospect that the US central bank will start lowering borrowing costs at its next decision in March.

That makes Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference, and any signal he may or may not choose to send, of critical importance. It all comes down to how Powell and his colleagues have been reading the recent spate of economic data.

On one hand, inflation numbers continue to surprise to the downside. The Fed’s preferred gauge decelerated to 2.9% in December, crossing below 3% for the first time since early 2021, according to data published Friday.

On the other, consumer spending continues to be surprisingly robust. It’s undoubtedly getting a boost from the downdraft in inflation, but the strength still may keep some worried that price pressures could mount once again.

What Bloomberg Economics Says:

“The stage is set for the Fed to take steps toward cutting rates in coming months. We expect the Fed to begin lowering the federal funds rate target range in March as it attempts to stick a soft landing.”

—Stuart Paul and Estelle Ou. For full analysis, click here

Fed decision aside, we’ll get more US data in the week ahead. Most important will be the monthly jobs report on Friday. Job openings and consumer confidence data on Tuesday — and a quarterly employment cost index release on Wednesday, during the Fed meeting — will also help inform how strong the outlook for spending really is.

Turning north, Statistics Canada releases gross domestic product data by industry for November, after three consecutive months of flat growth. The economy would be shrinking, if not for a massive population surge led by uncontrolled temporary migration.

Central Bank Rate Decisions This Week

Source: Bloomberg

Note: Mapped data show rate decision schedules for distinct central banks.

Elsewhere, central bank decisions in the UK and Sweden may keep rates on hold while three Latin American central banks are set to cut.

Euro-zone inflation and GDP data, and Chinese business surveys will also focus investors, and the International Monetary Fund published new forecasts on Tuesday.

Asia

China releases purchasing manager indexes on Wednesday that will shed light on the current state of the world’s second-largest economy.

Both the manufacturing and service sectors have weakened since September, with falls in factory activity deepening amid continued chatter over the need for more stimulus to support sputtering growth.

The official readings will be followed by private sector PMI reports for China and the corresponding figures for other countries in a region that has shown sluggish activity levels, partly due to their giant neighbor’s lack of zip.

The week kicks off with the first decision by the Monetary Authority of Singapore since it switched to quarterly meetings and long-running chief Ravi Menon departed.

A summary of opinions from Bank of Japan board members at its January gathering will offer further clues to how close the central bank is to its first rate hike since 2007. March or April are seen as very much live meetings.

The Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong release economic growth results for the fourth quarter during the week.

Australia’s quarterly inflation figures are due Wednesday with a further cooling expected just a few days before the central bank decides policy at its first meeting of the year.

South Korean trade figures offering a pulse check on global trade, and inflation data round out the week.

Thai Economic Growth Lags Regional Peers

Gross domestic product

Source: Bloomberg

Note: All 2023 numbers barring Vietnam’s and that for 2024 are forecasts

Meanwhile, most Thai people believe the nation is suffering an economic crisis that needs to be addressed urgently, according to a survey published Sunday, which shows mixed views among citizens about the government’s planned $14 billion cash handout program.

Europe, Middle East, Africa

Three central bank decisions will draw attention in Europe:

  • The Bank of England could step back from its threat to raise rates again if needed after UK wage growth cooled at one of the fastest paces on record. There’s reason for caution though, not least after data showed an unexpected pickup in inflation last month. That’s on Thursday.
  • Riksbank officials have already indicated that it won’t be necessary to lift borrowing costs again, but their decision the same day could reveal how determined they are to keep rates high for now.
  • In Hungary on Tuesday, policymakers could follow through with another reduction in borrowing costs. Most economists are anticipating a 100 basis-point move down to 9.75%.

The week is also significant for data, with countries across the European Union set to release both growth and inflation numbers.

Euro Area Was Probably in Recession in Second Half of 2023

Source: Eurostat, Bloomberg survey of economists

Belgium and Sweden will publish such reports on Monday, followed the next day by several countries including Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

For the euro zone, economists anticipate the outcome to be a second quarterly contraction of 0.1% — meeting the typical definition of a recession.

Inflation reports from around the region are also due, culminating in the result for the currency zone as a whole on Thursday.

A reading of 2.7% is expected there — still noticeably above the European Central Bank’s target — while the so-called core gauge that strips out energy and such volatile elements may remain even higher.

Euro-Area Inflation Is Slowing Down

Source: Eurostat, Bloomberg survey of economists

Beyond Europe, several other central banks will make announcements too:

  • The Bank of Ghana’s decision on Monday is a close call on a possible cut. Inflation is continuing to slow, making its real rates among the world’s highest. Even so, the IMF has cautioned against loosening.
  • The same day, Zimbabwe could explain its plans to handle a rout in the currency, which is down more than a third against the dollar on the official market so far this year.
  • Lesotho which has its currency pegged to South Africa’s rand, may follow its neighbor on Tuesday and hold its key rate at 7.75% to support its economy.
  • On Wednesday, Mozambique is likely to keep borrowing costs unchanged to contain inflation even after the IMF said it has room to cut.
  • Egyptian officials will meet the next day amid the worst economic crisis in decades, with investors ultimately anticipating a devaluation. While talks with the IMF continue, the central bank may still keep its rate at 19.25%.

Among data highlights, data on Wednesday may show Saudi Arabia’s economy shrank for a second straight quarter at the end of 2023 after a contraction that mostly reflected a cut in oil production to push up prices. That’s turned it from one of the Group of 20’s fastest-growing members to one of its laggards.

 

Latin America

Banco Central do Brasil has telegraphed delivery of a fifth straight half-point rate cut Wednesday to 11.25% and a sixth lined up for the March meeting.

Analysts surveyed by the bank see 9% by year-end but little leeway thereafter given sticky inflation expectations.

Brazil also reports out December year-end industrial production and national unemployment.

Brazil, Chile and Colombia to All Cut Key Rate This Week

Current key rate, median estimate for Jan. 31 decision, year-end forecast

Source: Central banks, Bloomberg

Note: Forecasts via Bloomberg, central banks; `Next decision’ for Peru, Mexico refer to 1Q ’24 forecasts via median est. of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg

Colombia’s central bank is also all but certain to cut for a second straight month though analysts differ over the size of the reduction. A lower-than-expected December inflation reading my persuade the bank to go for a half-point trim to 12.5%.

Banco Central de Chile has far more room for maneuver and may vote for a 100 basis-point move lower to 7.25%. Economists surveyed by the bank see inflation back to the 3% target this year.

On the inflation front, data for Lima, Peru’s megacity capital, may show that consumer price increases picked up from December’s 3.24% reading. Brazil reports out its less-closely watched IGP-M price index, the country’s broadest measure of inflation.

Mexico’s 2023 Economic Growth Never Stopped Surprising

Analysts had to mark up their GDP growth estimates all year long

Source: Statistics agency, Bloomberg

Note: Forecasts via median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Rounding out the week, Mexico’s flash reading on fourth-quarter output should show a quarter-on-quarter downshift from the 1.1% pace seen in the three months through September, slowed by more than a year of double-digit borrowing costs.

Qatar’s already high credit rating was upgraded by Moody’s Investors Service for the first time since 2007, as strong global demand for liquefied natural gas boosts the Gulf state’s long-term prospects.

Moody’s lifted Qatar one level to Aa2, its third-highest investment grade, according to a statement late Thursday. It’s now on par with France, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, and a level above the UK.

The rating company also changed Qatar’s outlook from positive to stable, meaning another upgrade is unlikely in the short term. Qatar’s rated the same level by S&P Global Ratings and one step below by Fitch Ratings.

“The upgrade reflects Moody’s view that the significant improvement in Qatar’s fiscal metrics, achieved during 2021-2023, will be sustained in the medium term,” Moody’s analysts including David Rogovic wrote. “The government will continue to maintain fiscal prudence, including by continuing to wind down its infrastructure spending program.”

Moody’s also cited Qatar’s “large ramp-up” in LNG production as a positive factor. The country, which vies with the US and Australia as the biggest exporter of LNG, is spending tens of billions of dollars to increase its supply capacity in the next three years by around 60%.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and Moscow cutting piped gas supplies to Europe, Qatar’s been selling more LNG to the continent.

Qatar’s economy slowed last year, in part because of the ending of projects related to the football World Cup held in late 2022. The government spent an estimated $300 billion on the event, a huge sum for the country of 3 million people.

Still, the International Monetary Fund is predicting robust growth for the next several years.

Qatar, flush with cash from gas sales, hasn’t sold debt internationally in four years. But it’s getting ready to offer its first green bond soon, the country’s finance minister, Ali Al-Kuwari, told Bloomberg this month. The sale is a signal about the need to counter climate change, he said.

Qatar’s reduced its debt levels significantly in recent years, after being downgraded by all three rating companies in 2017. The government’s ratio of debt to gross domestic product stands at around 40%, down from 73% in 2020, according to the IMF.

The Gulf monarchy has been at the forefront of regional geopolitics in recent months. It’s emerged as a crucial conduit between Israel and Hamas, which is designated a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union, over their war in Gaza.

The best cities in the world for Europeans are in Europe.

As tensions rise around the world, cities in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Scandinavia topped the 2023 list of the most livable cities for Europeans by ECA International, a global workforce consultancy.

Bern, Switzerland; Eindhoven, Netherlands; and Stavanger, Norway, were the top three cities. Meanwhile, Hong Kong (110th), Kyiv (218th) and Moscow (189th) fell in the rankings, as geopolitics and war have worsened residents’ quality of life there.

Best Cities for European Expats

Source: ECA International

The study, which examined 500 cities across the globe, took into account health services, housing, access to recreational facilities and other factors, including air pollution, personal safety and social and political tensions.

The ranking of some popular destinations in Europe — including Dublin (11th) and Copenhagen (5th) — took a hit from limited housing. Elsewhere, London ranked as the 37th best place and Edinburgh came in as the highest UK-ranked city at 17th.

Asset managers, worried that the end-of-year rally on expectations of a soft landing was overly optimistic, are selling bonds and boosting their cash holdings.

Bond allocations among fund overseers have tumbled 17 percentage points since the same time last month, according to a Bank of America Corp. fund manager survey published this week. The amount of money they parked in money market funds and other cash vehicles rose 13 percentage points in the same period.

Taking profits in bonds makes sense now. Because short-term rates are so high relative to intermediate- and longer-term yields, a junk bond doesn’t pay that much more yield than a Treasury bill. And monetary officials caution that markets have grown too confident that rate cuts are coming soon. Traders are broadly tempering bets on the number of interest rate cuts by central banks this year.

“This is a month to sell risk into a rally rather than aggressively chase risk,” said Adam Darling, a high-yield bond fund manager at Jupiter Fund Management Plc, who is among those increasing his allocation to cash. “If data indicates anything other than a soft landing there will be a lot of panic in the market.”

For managers like Darling, it’s becoming harder to justify holding bonds that can slump if rates fail to fall as much as expected or if fears of a recession start to intensify. Geopolitical tensions, including attacks by Houthi militants on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, could cause inflation to start to tick back up again, complicating the outlook for monetary easing.

Rates traders are currently pricing in more than five 25-basis-point cuts this year in the euro region and the US, and more than four by the Bank of England, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Easing is likely in the summer, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said this week, while cautioning that the aggressive bets are “not helping our fight against inflation.”

Allspring Global Investments is among the money managers that still see an opportunity in bonds because yields are high enough to compensate for inflation, said Henrietta Pacquement, head of global fixed income and sustainability at the firm. But there could still be pressure on the debt this year, she said.

“We would be amazed if we didn’t have at least one spread selloff this year,” said Jupiter’s Darling. “The economic environment is so volatile that we could have a selloff on even a small piece of bad news.”

This month, a cold front swept across much of Europe and giant tankers that carry fuel through the Red Sea were rerouted to avoid escalating violence. That should have pushed gas prices higher. Instead, they just kept falling.

Even if it’s a step too far to give Europe the all-clear, it’s a strong sign that the worst of the nightmare that sent energy bills soaring and pushed inflation to multi-year highs is in the past.

Europe is benefiting from having amassed record gas reserves last year, along with help from renewables and a relatively mild winter — some cold snaps aside. Sluggish economic growth is also playing a part, capping demand for energy in major industrial powers such as Germany.

That’s been enough to boost confidence across trading desks that the region is on a stable-enough footing to get through the rest of the winter with gas to spare. Benchmark European prices are currently trading under €30 a megawatt-hour, about a tenth of the peak levels in 2022.

Europe’s Gas Prices Are Far Below Their Crisis Peaks

Source: ICE

Still, having scraped through the crisis, Europe has emerged into a new reality that has its own list of challenges.

It’s now relying more on renewables, and will have to deal with the intermittency of that power generation. With the loss of Russian gas, on which it was overly dependent before the invasion of Ukraine, it’s also had to look elsewhere to fulfill its fuel needs. That means vying for a share of foreign liquefied natural gas cargoes with other parts of the world.

“Just by looking at prices, it seems that the crisis is over,” said Balint Koncz, head of gas trading at MET International in Switzerland. “However, we are now reliant on global factors, which can change rapidly.”

“Prices could rise again, even in this heating season, if there’s a sudden supply disruption or an extended period of cold weather,” he said.

One key risk is the Middle East amid attacks on ships in the Red Sea, a route that Qatar uses to send LNG to Europe. Oil and gas tankers are avoiding the area, instead opting to go around the southern tip of Africa. On a typical day, roughly two to three LNG vessels would be using the passage, according to data from Kpler.

Alternative Energy

Gas prices plunged almost 60% in 2023 and are down a further 12% so far this year, which should help to lower consumers’ energy bills.

In the UK, the state-regulated price cap will fall almost 14% by spring, consultancy Cornwall Insight estimated in December.

“This is the second winter that Europe is experiencing without Russian gas,” said Kim Fustier, HSBC Holdings Plc head of European oil & gas research. “The fact that there is now a precedent — the 2022-2023 winter that went without any issues — is helping to calm traders’ nerves.”

Europe’s build-out of renewable energy means a dwindling share for gas in the continent’s power mix. An increase in wind turbines and solar installations has helped reduce the need for the fuel, together with a recovery in French nuclear production last year.

But there’s a long road ahead, with many potential bumps. A gas pipeline transit agreement between Russia and Ukraine expires at the end of this year — and is unlikely to be renewed — meaning that the continent could get even less gas from Russia. While there’s a massive global investment in LNG, much of the new capacity won’t come to the market until 2025 and 2026.

And extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, straining power systems and sometimes boosting demand for gas.

How Europe Curbed Gas Use to Cope With Russia’s Supply Cuts

Gas demand may see some recovery this year, but should stay below pre-crisis levels, Morgan Stanley estimates

Source: Morgan Stanley

*Data for key EU gas-consuming markets (excludes Iberia)

In Asia, strong inventories mean gas prices there are also declining at the moment, and are at the lowest since June. LNG buyers in Japan, the world’s second biggest importer of the super-chilled fuel, are actively selling shipments because they have too much. Some of those cargoes are likely to make their way to Europe.

While there are pockets of demand, particularly in India and China, those purchases are primarily driven by traders looking for a good deal.

The story is much the same in the US, where gas futures dropped about 20% last week as storage remains well above the five-year average. Cold weather drove up power demand and froze some gas wells, but did little to boost futures.

Canal Disruption

Still, issues at two key LNG passages — the Suez Canal and the drought-hit Panama Canal — are lengthening journeys, adding to the cost of shipping and stretching the global fleet of ships. While traders don’t appear to be too fussed, a prolonged disruption could change that.

The decline in gas prices from the 2022 peaks hasn’t always been one way.

Intense bouts of volatility — from LNG strikes in Australia to outages in the US to the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war — have caused spikes, offering reminders that the current calm isn’t guaranteed to last.

“We are still very cautious on what is going to happen next,” Stefan Rolle, head of energy policy at Germany’s Energy Ministry said at the Americas Energy Summit in New Orleans on Thursday.

It’s too early to get excited about a rebound in European luxury stocks, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts, who handed industry leader LVMH its sixth downgrade in three months.

Investors are better off holding out until the second half of 2024, JPMorgan analyst Chiara Battistini wrote in a note on Wednesday, cuttting LVMH to neutral.

“We see little scope to chase the sector in the short term,” Battistini wrote. While luxury stocks have given back some gains since the summer, the analyst is cautious given a lack of earnings upgrades and still-pricey valuations.

After a tough few months due to concerns over fading demand, luxury stocks have staged a rally since the end of October, with an index tracking the sector up nearly 10%. Gains continued on Wednesday, with LVMH reversing a near 2% drop at the open to trade slightly higher.

JPMorgan is still positive on high-end jewelry makers, with Richemont the broker’s only overweight-rated luxury stock. Battistini also recommends investors stick with sports-apparel names such as Adidas AG and JD Sports Fashion Plc.

Hungary is looking to attract the Qatar Investment Authority to a consortium the government is forming for the purchase of Budapest Airport Zrt.

A deal to purchase the hub is close to being finalized but the signing may slip into next year because the buyers need to agree on the price with the three current owners as well as 10 debt holders simultaneously, Economic Development Minister Marton Nagy said in an interview in Budapest on Monday.

“It’s a very complex negotiation,” the minister said. The government is seeking to agree on a “competitive, market-based price.”

Hungary is teaming up with French infrastructure group Vinci SA in the first step of the deal, with a Hungarian state-owned vehicle looking to buy a 51% stake, Bloomberg reported last month. The Qatari fund may then join either as a financial or strategic investor, Nagy said.

When the acquisition goes through, Hungary plans to expand the airport by building a third terminal and boosting capacity for both passengers and cargo, the Nagy said.

Vinci and Hungarian state-controlled Corvinus International Investment Zrt. requested European Union approval last month for the purchase. The government has long coveted the airport but was forced to abandon an earlier takeover attempt amid a cash squeeze.

“Hungary seeks to leverage synergies with its co-investor — which is both an airport operator and a developer — to build the third terminal,” Nagy said.

Acquisition Warchest

Prime Minister Viktor Orban previously floated a potential Qatari involvement in an interview in May at the Qatar Economic Forum. Qatar’s investment authority also owns a stake in Heathrow Airport in the UK, and the hub recently attracted the Saudi Arabian PIF investment fund as a new shareholder.

AviAlliance GmbH, the operator of the Hungarian hub and its biggest shareholder, initially had no plans to sell the airport. It entered into talks after a years-long government campaign that sought to push out the current owners for under-investing in the hub, a claim the management has denied.

This time, Hungary has built up a war chest for the purchase, including the divestiture of a 15% stake in the local unit of Erste Group Bank AG, the sale of a 35% stake in the Hungarian unit of Vienna Insurance Group and by issuing debt.

“The strategy is to focus on logistics and to build a third terminal at Budapest Airport,” Nagy said.

New money pledged for the global food system’s climate fight topped $7 billion during this year’s COP28 summit.

The financing has been promised for helping farmers curb their footprint and adapt to climate change, including through innovation and regenerative agriculture. Major pledges include $519 million funding for research consortium CGIAR and $389 million from philanthropies, according to COP organizers.

From farming to processing and consumption, food accounts for about a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. The climate summit in Dubai has sought to elevate food at this year’s talks. On Sunday it held the Food, Agriculture and Water Day — the first ever dedicated entirely to food systems.

Still, the amount of climate funding going to agri-food systems is “strikingly low” and continues to diminish compared with global climate finance flows, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization said Sunday. In two decades through 2021, support for agri-food systems totaled $183 billion. Contributions fell 12% to $19 billion in 2021 from a year earlier.

Singapore and Zurich surpassed New York to become the world’s most expensive cities to live in this year, according to a new global survey.

The sky-high cost of car ownership, pricey alcohol and rising grocery prices saw Singapore pull ahead of the US city, with which it shared top spot last year, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living 2023 report.

Zurich jumped from sixth place last year to joint first, thanks in part to the strong Swiss franc, as well as expensive groceries, household goods and recreation.

Geneva, tied with New York in third position, and Hong Kong rounded out the list of the top five costliest places. Overall, global prices rose an average 7.4% year-on-year in local currency terms, slightly down on last year’s 8.1% increase.

Chinese cities were among the biggest movers down the rankings, mainly due to the country’s slow post-pandemic recovery and subdued consumer demand.

Other findings from the study were:

  • Los Angeles (sixth place) and San Francisco (10th) were the only other US cities to make the top 10
  • The cheapest city remained the Syrian capital of Damascus, in spite of its cost-of-living basket price rising 321%
  • Mexico’s Santiago de Querétaro and Aguascalientes were the biggest global movers upwards in
  • the ranking after the peso strengthened against the US dollar
  • The weaker Japanese yen saw Tokyo slip 23 places to 60th place and Osaka drop 27 spots to rank 70th.
  • While Israel’s Tel Aviv made the top 10, the survey was carried out before the Israel-Hamas war, which may have affected prices
  • Utility prices rose the most slowly out of the 10 broad categories of goods and services examined, increasing by 5.7%

“The supply-side shocks that drove price increases in 2021-22 have reduced since China lifted its Covid-19 restrictions in late 2022, while the spike in energy prices seen after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 has also eased,” said Upasana Dutt, head of worldwide cost of living at EIU. “Despite upside risks we expect inflation to decelerate further in 2024, easing prices globally.”

The survey was carried out between Aug. 14 and Sept. 11 and compared more than 400 individual prices in 173 cities globally.

The sky-high cost of car ownership, pricey alcohol and rising grocery prices saw Singapore pull ahead of the US city, with which it shared top spot last year, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living 2023 report.

Nightlife in Singapore Ahead Of CPI
Customers listen to a band at a bar in the Clarke Quay area in Singapore.Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg

Zurich jumped from sixth place last year to joint first, thanks in part to the strong Swiss franc, as well as expensive groceries, household goods and recreation.

Geneva, tied with New York in third position, and Hong Kong rounded out the list of the top five costliest places. Overall, global prices rose an average 7.4% year-on-year in local currency terms, slightly down on last year’s 8.1% increase.

Chinese cities were among the biggest movers down the rankings, mainly due to the country’s slow post-pandemic recovery and subdued consumer demand.

Other findings from the study were:

  • Los Angeles (sixth place) and San Francisco (10th) were the only other US cities to make the top 10
  • The cheapest city remained the Syrian capital of Damascus, in spite of its cost-of-living basket price rising 321%
  • Mexico’s Santiago de Querétaro and Aguascalientes were the biggest global movers upwards in the ranking after the peso strengthened against the US dollar
  • The weaker Japanese yen saw Tokyo slip 23 places to 60th place and Osaka drop 27 spots to rank 70th.
  • While Israel’s Tel Aviv made the top 10, the survey was carried out before the Israel-Hamas war, which may have affected prices
  • Utility prices rose the most slowly out of the 10 broad categories of goods and services examined, increasing by 5.7%

“The supply-side shocks that drove price increases in 2021-22 have reduced since China lifted its Covid-19 restrictions in late 2022, while the spike in energy prices seen after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 has also eased,” said Upasana Dutt, head of worldwide cost of living at EIU. “Despite upside risks we expect inflation to decelerate further in 2024, easing prices globally.”

The survey was carried out between Aug. 14 and Sept. 11 and compared more than 400 individual prices in 173 cities globally.

Swiss Economy as Growth Forecast Trimmed on Ukraine
Shoppers on a pedestrianized retail street in Zurich.Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg

These are the top 10 most expensive cities in the world, with their 2023 ranking. Some cities are tied.

Singapore — 1

Zurich — 1

Geneva — 3

New York — 3

Hong Kong — 5

Los Angeles — 6

Paris — 7

Copenhagen — 8

Tel Aviv — 8

San Francisco — 10