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Are you ready for Blue Monday, the day that this year falls earlier this week, which Cliff Arnall, a former psychologist at Cardiff University, calculated in 2005 to be the hardest 24 hours on the calendar?

Arnal’s damning conclusion about the third Monday of the first month (which he has since tried to reverse) was based on an analysis of data such as consumer surveys, divorce filings and weather reports. The main conclusion for most of us from this analysis is that not all academic research is useful to society.

If you’re a world leader or top executive, at least the World Economic Forum in Davos will distract you from the January blues. The FT Live team will also be in the Swiss resort town hosting several in-person and digital events where political, business and finance leaders will share thoughts on the big issues being debated. You can watch the events and register for free here.

For the rest of us, we’ll just have to live with the grim economic news coming into 2023 and hope things can only get better.

If you are in the UK, the dominant reality is the mass strike. It may not be close to being the second “winter of discontent”, at least according to my colleague Jonathan Guthrie, but another strike vote for ambulance workers will take place this week, while the University and College Union announces a wave of 18 new strikes. It covers 150 UK universities this week in February and March after its members voted last week to reject their latest pay offer.

The Northern Ireland Protocol will raise its head again with Thursday’s deadline for restoration of power-sharing at Stormont. Don’t expect it to make you feel better about life or cross-border politics.

Abortion rights activists marched from Washington Square Park to New York’s Bryant Park last June © Alex Kent/AFP/Getty Images

Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which established Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion. This is, of course, a very lively debate that even extends to the courtroom in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 ruling. Anti-abortion activists will march on Washington on Friday, prompting further commentary on a fundamental political fault line in the US.

The week will end with another man-made day, this time based on astrology, with the celebration of the Lunar New Year. This year’s mass movement of people to visit family and friends celebrating the occasion will take place under the shadow of rising Covid levels in China. Concerns about the impact on the spread of the disease are high.

One thing to look forward to a little earlier is an evening with FT columnist Martin Woolf. Join Martin and other thought leaders online for an exclusive subscriber event on January 31 to discuss the key changes required at this time of great global uncertainty. The discussion coincides with the publication of Martin’s new book, The crisis of democratic capitalism. Register for free here.

Economic data

Tesco cashierless store High Holborn, London

Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy has warned that UK inflation could rise further © Luke McGregor/Bloomberg

This week will be busy with data from China, the UK and the US. The European Central Bank will publish the minutes of its December meeting on Thursday, and various central bank governors will discuss regional and global economies in Davos.

The UK inflation rate will be updated on Wednesday. The outlook is not good, especially after recent comments from Bank of England Chief Economist Hugh Peel. Ken Murphy, chief executive of the UK’s largest food retailer Tesco, even warned that UK inflation could rise further. Last month’s release showed that the cost of living, measured by the consumer price index, was 10.7 percent in November, compared with 11.1 percent in October.


We’re at the peak of the first earnings season of 2023, and it’s a bunch of companies, particularly from Europe and (when Wall Street returns from its Martin Luther King Day break) the US.

Online food ordering services Just Eat Takeaway and Deliveroo will inform investors of their holiday sales on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. Both are under pressure to improve profitability. The end of the lockdown did not bode well for food ordering apps as customers decided to return to restaurants.

The question now is whether the recession will help these companies as more people get takeout instead of eating out, or will it hit them harder as customers are reluctant to return to their own kitchens. Efforts to increase grocery sales through partnerships with supermarkets and convenience apps like Getir could also give Deliveroo and JET a slice of the home cooking market.

Last year was one to forget for Ocado Retail. The online supermarket, jointly owned by Ocado, which reports figures on Tuesday, and Marks and Spencer, has parted ways with the company’s chief executive Melanie Smith and has repeatedly warned about profits; Its sales are expected to decline for the first time in its history.

A woman goes through unwanted bags at Southwest Airlines baggage claim in Salt Lake City

Public attention is focused on technical problems at low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines © Rick Bowmer/AP

In its last update in September, Ocado said it expected strong customer growth and sales growth of around 5 per cent in the fourth quarter. It would be similar to increases announced by Tesco and J Sainsbury last week, after British shoppers went out for the first Christmas in two years to avoid being disrupted by Covid-19.

US airlines report fourth-quarter and full-year earnings as public attention focuses on technical failures at low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines and the nation’s top aviation regulator that triggered high-profile collapses. But for most airlines, the news is likely to still be rosy as (despite the post-Covid surge in interest in private jets) demand for commercial air travel drives profits.

United Airlines will report on Wednesday. Expect Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby to have some wise words for the US Federal Aviation Administration, which grounded planes for two hours on Wednesday after a corrupted database file caused a key safety system to fail. He said over the summer that the agency needed more air traffic controllers.


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