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The people of Afghanistan are facing “dire” financial prospects, the former head of its central bank has warned, cautioning that an acute shortage of dollars and higher inflation will fuel the flow of migrants out of the country.
Ajmal Ahmady, who escaped Kabul on Sunday, told the Financial Times that Afghanistan had been dependent on bulk shipments of dollar reserves from the US and was now rapidly running short, leading to the likelihood of higher food prices and capital controls.
Washington has blocked Taliban access to Afghan central bank reserves held in US banks, while the IMF has put a hold on $460m in pandemic funding.
“If you think the situation at the airport is now bad, I think over the medium term, you’re going to see major, major migration flows from Afghanistan and, unfortunately, if Europe or other countries think that they could stop that, you simply can’t,” he said.
Ahmady’s comments came as the Taliban leadership was rushing to work out how to run Afghanistan after the militant Islamist group’s exiled leaders returned to a country that had changed profoundly since it was driven from power 20 years ago.
On Wednesday, the group cracked down on the first public display of dissent since it seized power. At least three people were reportedly killed as fighters violently dispersed people from an anti-Taliban protest. Follow the latest on FT.com. (FT, Reuters)
More on the fall of Afghanistan:
What questions do you have about the Taliban’s rise to power? FT journalists may address them in our upcoming webinar with US defence correspondent Katrina Manson, Asia editor Stephanie Findlay and US managing editor Peter Spiegel. Register here for The Fall of Afghanistan: What’s Next on August 25. Thanks for reading. — Emily
Five more stories in the news
1. Xi calls for wealth redistribution President Xi Jinping has called for stronger “regulation of high incomes” in the latest sign that a 10-month campaign targeting China’s largest technology companies is rapidly expanding to encompass broader social goals.
2. Fed officials anticipate stimulus wind-down this year A majority of Federal Reserve officials believe that the US central bank could start withdrawing a massive pandemic stimulus programme later this year, according to a record of their latest meeting.
3. Scoop: CME in $16bn bid for Chicago exchange rival Cboe CME Group has approached fellow Chicago exchange company Cboe Global Markets about an all-share deal to acquire the owner of the Vix volatility indices for nearly $16bn.
4. Chinese start-ups stuck in US listings purgatory More than 50 Chinese companies that filed their intention to list on US markets this year are “in limbo”, advisers have said. Initial public offerings by Chinese groups in the US have ground to a halt after the $4.4bn listing of Didi Chuxing, which was followed by a flurry of US and Chinese regulatory action.
Go deeper: Tencent has warned investors that more regulatory changes will impact on China’s technology sector. Tencent issued the warning as it reported an unexpected jump in second-quarter profits.
5. Millions of T-Mobile customers’ data leaked The personal information of almost 50m people has been “stolen” from T-Mobile US in the latest high-profile data breach to emerge in recent years. The mobile telecoms group said the “highly sophisticated cyber attack” resulted in personal details of its current, former and even potential customers being taken.
New Zealand’s central bank delayed a planned interest rate rise on Wednesday after a Covid-19 outbreak sparked a nationwide lockdown.
The Biden administration is set to begin offering Americans third doses of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines next month.
Australian flag-carrier Qantas has said that it will be mandatory for all of its 22,000 employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Swiss tourism is counting the cost of the loss of Asian travellers after years of targeting visitors beyond Europe.
The day ahead
FTC faces deadline on Facebook suit The Federal Trade Commission has until Thursday to submit an amended complaint in its Facebook antitrust suit after a federal judge dismissed the complaint, saying the agency’s argument that Facebook had monopoly power over the social network market was “legally insufficient”.
Tesla AI Day Elon Musk is expected to give a keynote at Tesla’s AI Day on Thursday. The event comes just days after the US government launched an investigation into crashes involving the carmaker’s Autopilot driverless technology and US senators called for a probe into the company’s marketing practices.
What else we’re reading
Why Hong Kong’s crypto crown is slipping Hong Kong has played a pivotal role in the short history of cryptocurrencies. But what was once a feather in Hong Kong’s cap has become an uncomfortable subject for the city’s financial regulators, putting the industry increasingly at odds with China’s obstructive stance on cryptocurrencies.
Preparing for the next pandemic When coronavirus emerged, governments scrambled to address shortages of basic medical supplies. Since then, countries have deployed export controls to prioritise vaccinating their own citizens. Rattled by these experiences, many are seeking to bring home drug manufacturing — but it is proving challenging to plan for the next crisis.
Interview: Germany’s Greens set out split from Merkel era Annalena Baerbock, the Green candidate for chancellor, vowed to get tough on China and Russia and reform Europe’s fiscal rules should her party gain power, marking a sharp break from the policies of outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel. Baerbock spoke to the FT’s Erika Solomon in a rare interview with foreign media.
Huawei woes hide ‘toothless’ US export controls Washington’s efforts to destroy the Chinese technology group appear to be working. But policy experts caution that the US is in no position to declare victory in its “technology war” with China, writes Kathrin Hille.
Big Tech wants its workers back where it can see them In the midst of a truly disruptive global trend, the world’s greatest disrupters are clinging on to tradition, writes Elaine Moore. According to data from the US Postal Service, the number of people moving out of the Bay Area is back to pre-pandemic levels.
Thank you to those who took part in our poll yesterday. Twenty-seven per cent of readers said they had taken up cycling as a new hobby during the pandemic.
With butler service, banquets, speedboat transfers — and a £15,000 entry fee — Scotland’s 120-mile Highland Kings race bills itself as the first “luxury wilderness ultra-marathon”.