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February 13, 2023

Economy On The Up

This week saw the surprise news that Britain's economy is 'more resilient than many feared,' according to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. The U.K. narrowly avoided entering a recession in 2022, but remains in a tight spot. Ukraine's war still rages on, with many in the West worrying of a Russian invasion on the one year anniversary of the invasion. This week also saw YouTube's CEO, Susan Wojcicki step down after nine years in the role, saying she had "decided to start a new chapter".

Many feared that the UK economy was heading into a recession - London

Britain's economy is "more resilient than many feared" - Hunt

Earlier this month, it was reported that the U.K. GDP experienced a contraction of 0.5% in December, resulting in a stagnant economy over the final quarter of 2022. This prevented a technical recession from occurring. However, despite these weak GDP figures and official forecasts, Brough, who is the head of the pan-European small and mid-cap team at British asset manager Schroders, has observed greater resilience among businesses through his interactions with them.

The U.K. has thus far avoided a widely anticipated recession, and the signs from the business world are that the economy may be holding up better than feared, according to veteran Schroders fund manager Andy Brough.Figures published earlier this month showed that the U.K. GDP contracted by 0.5% in December, as the economy flatlined over the final quarter of 2022 to narrowly avoid a technical recession.

According to Schroders fund manager Andy Brough, the U.K. economy is holding up better than expected, despite weak GDP figures and official forecasts. While the Bank of England predicts a shallow recession in the first quarter of 2023, Brough suggests that consumer spending remains strong, and businesses are displaying greater resilience than the numbers suggest.

Brough notes that recent earnings reports from U.K. businesses show that they are "doing okay", with good dividend increases and earnings statements.

Real business investment increased by 10% in 2022, and recent trends suggest that momentum could continue in the coming quarters. However, businesses are lacking confidence, not opportunity, and the U.K. desperately needs a wholesale uplift in its capital stock to improve its paltry productivity performance in the post-GFC era.

A Ukrainian soldier beacons his troops on in the ongoing fighting

West worry Russia may plan a new assault on Ukraine in light of the one year anniversary

Early on Friday, Russia launched a wave of attacks on Ukraine using strategic bombers, cruise missiles, and killer drones. The military push, which Kyiv claims has been in the making for days, seemed to intensify in eastern regions ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion.

On the first anniversary of the Russian invasion, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has vowed to fight for victory this year, hailing the resilience of Ukrainians in the face of the deadliest conflict Europe has seen since the Second World War. Funerals for recently killed Ukrainians have taken place throughout the country, while church services have been held in commemoration of the fallen, serving as a reminder of the relentless attrition of the ongoing war.

Zelenskiy has commended Ukrainians for proving their invincibility over “a year of pain, sorrow, faith, and unity”. Zelenskiy paid homage to cities like Bucha, Irpin, and Mariupol, which have become synonymous with alleged Russian war crimes, describing them as “capitals of invincibility”. The day of commemorations and reflections comes amid continuing attacks by Russian forces along the entire eastern front.

Meanwhile, hopes for modern western weapon systems promised by allies were bolstered by a Polish news agency report that the first German-built Leopard 2 main battle tanks had been transferred to Kyiv.

At a service at St Vladimir’s church in Kyiv, the former patriarch Filaret described the “challenges and suffering” his country was facing. On social media, many Ukrainians posted recollections from the opening day of the war when Russian tanks poured over the border, and aircraft and missiles pummelled cities.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki giving a presentation during an annual Google Event

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki departs as CEO of the company

After nine years as YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki has announced in a blog post that she will be stepping down from her role to prioritize her family, health, and personal projects that she is passionate about.

Susan Wojcicki, a prominent Google executive who played a key role in the formation of YouTube, will be stepping down as CEO after nine years.

She announced her departure in an email to YouTube employees citing a desire to focus on family, health, and personal projects. Neal Mohan, who has worked closely with Wojcicki for years, will replace her as CEO.

Wojcicki has been a respected female executive in the male-dominated tech industry. She is also known for her involvement in Google's early days. In 1998, she rented the garage of her Menlo Park, California home to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin for $1,700 a month. They worked on refining their search engine in her garage for five months before moving into a formal office. Wojcicki later joined the company and describes it as "one of the best decisions of my life."

YouTube is facing a challenging time with a slump in ad revenue during the final six months of 2022. While YouTube has become a cultural phenomenon with billions of viewers and ad revenue totaling $29 billion last year, analysts are concerned about this downturn, which is the first since Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., began to disclose YouTube's financial revenue in 2017.

Alphabet's stock price has dropped 11% since its most recent quarterly report two weeks ago.

Wojcicki's departure comes just before the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in a case that could have a significant impact on YouTube and the entire internet. The case stems from a lawsuit filed by the family of an American woman who was killed in a Paris attack by the Islamic State in 2015.

The family alleges that YouTube's algorithms aided the terror group's recruitment. If the court holds tech companies liable for material posted on their sites, it could have serious repercussions for internet companies.

Under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, internet companies are generally exempt from liability for the material users post on their networks.

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