Stock Market Selloff, Fiona Hits Canada, Russians Flee to Turkey : Up First Global markets tumbled this week, deepening fears of a possible recession ahead. Hurricane Fiona weakens to a post tropical storm as it hits eastern Canada. Some Russian men flee to Turkey as they try to avoid the military call up to fight in Ukraine.

Stock Market Selloff, Fiona Hits Canada, Russians Flee to Turkey

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Fiona hits eastern Canada.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER RUSHING)

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Now a post-tropical cyclone, its 90-mile-per-hour winds have knocked out power for hundreds of thousands.

SIMON: I'm Scott Simon.

RASCOE: I'm Ayesha Rascoe. And this is UP FIRST from NPR News.

SIMON: And it was a tough week for the U.S. stock market. Some experts are nervous about a coming recession.

RASCOE: The view from Wall Street on what might be ahead.

SIMON: Fighting-age men fleeing Russia by car, bus and plane following President Putin's military call up.

RASCOE: Many of those men have gone to Turkey to avoid being sent to the front lines in Ukraine. What they're telling us about their decision to leave Russia.

SIMON: So please stay with us. We've got the news you need to start your weekend.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: It's been a while since the stock market's best week of the year - in fact, it's been since January.

RASCOE: This week marked a steep drop in the downward trajectory it's had since then.

SIMON: On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average flirted with a bear market as sell-offs deepened, and that raised concerns about a possible global recession.

RASCOE: NPR's David Gura is here now with details. Hi, David.

DAVID GURA, BYLINE: Hi, Ayesha.

RASCOE: So how is Wall Street interpreting this downturn? Like what does this mean for the future?

GURA: You know, big investment banks pay big money to analysts and strategists to figure out where markets and the economy are headed. And right now, they are much less confident. David Kostin is the chief U.S. equity strategist at Goldman Sachs. And Wall Street took notice on Friday when he revised his forecast and said his outlook for stocks and the economy is unusually murky.

Take inflation, for instance. A lot of investors thought the Fed Reserve was getting it under control. And then the Consumer Price Index for August told a different story. There were signs inflation became more entrenched, including increases in rent. And now, as companies are reporting quarterly results, Kostin points out many of them, including FedEx and Ford, are revising their outlooks downward because the landscape has changed.

DAVID KOSTIN: Not so clear exactly where we are in that landscape. And that's, I think, the challenge that portfolio managers and investors and the environment and community writ large are facing right now.

GURA: So, Ayesha, we're seeing a lot of revisions and a lot of recalibration happening.

RASCOE: So what was behind the big stock market sell off? Like, why did that happen right now?

GURA: Well, trading was volatile going into a big meeting this week of the Fed Reserve. And while the Fed's decision on Wednesday to hike interest rates by an additional three-quarters of a percentage point was not a huge shock, what did surprise investors were the central bank's forecasts - basically battle plans for the Fed's ongoing fight against high inflation. And what the central bank said was, we're going to keep raising interest rates aggressively until we get inflation under control.

Now, those moves are going to be painful to the economy. Growth is going to slow. People are going to lose their jobs because of the central bank's policies, because when you pay higher interest rates to borrow, that puts pressure on companies to invest less in their businesses and it leads to job cuts. So people are really worried that the Fed's actions, this very fast pace of raising rates, is going to trigger a recession.

RASCOE: How likely is a recession, according to analysts and strategists that you've been speaking with?

GURA: You know, what's interesting is when I talked to David Kostin at Goldman Sachs, he said his colleagues there who are economists still argue there is a way for the Federal Reserve to get this right - to avoid a recession. Now, separate from them, Kostin is thinking about what a recession might look like. The sell-off that we're seeing not just in stocks but in bonds and other assets reflects this growing pessimism about the future of the economy. Still, despite all that, Kostin told me he retains some optimism the U.S. economy is going to pull through.

KOSTIN: I think relative to the rest of the world, the U.S. is actually in a comparably pretty good position.

GURA: You know, the outlook looks worse in Europe, which is facing a huge energy shortfall as it weans itself off Russian oil and gas. Asia is still dealing with the fallout from strict COVID lockdowns. And this week, Japan stepped in to prop up its currency, which has been very weak lately. And for all the criticism that the Fed Reserve did not take inflation as seriously as it should have early on, it has moved fairly fast and more aggressively compared to central banks in other countries around the world, and all of them are now locked in a battle against inflation, Ayesha, which has become the biggest economic problem worldwide.

RASCOE: NPR's David Gura, thank you so much.

GURA: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: More than half a million households and businesses in eastern Canada are without power as Fiona's strong winds and heavy rains batter the region.

RASCOE: The storm was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone early Saturday, and forecasters at the Canadian Hurricane Center predict it will be historically large and potentially very destructive.

SIMON: Reporter Emma Jacobs has been watching Fiona's progress. She joins us now from Montreal. Emma, thanks so much for being with us.

EMMA JACOBS, BYLINE: Thank you.

SIMON: And what's the latest on the storm?

JACOBS: Fiona made landfall in Nova Scotia early this morning, no longer at hurricane strength, but still strong enough to do a lot of damage. This is the same storm that's been wrecking a really destructive path through the Caribbean and northwards. It caused a lot of damage in Puerto Rico, leaving thousands without power.

In Canada, Fiona's winds and heavy rainfall are expected across parts of five provinces, including Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. It's going to take a while to assess the damage, but there are a couple of big concerns. With high winds and leaves still on the trees, power outages are going to be very widespread and will take longer to restore. The storm surge will also peak this morning.

SIMON: How have people prepared?

JACOBS: People in the path of the storm have been raiding grocery stores, getting boats out of the water, stocking up on fuel for generators. Provincial officials in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia said to have supplies on hand that will last three days. Parts of Nova Scotia have opened evacuation centers, and officials running the emergency response have warned people in vulnerable coastal areas to be prepared to evacuate. Inspectors also visited construction sites in Halifax this week. In 2019, a crane collapsed on a building during post-tropical storm Dorian.

SIMON: Emma, how unusual is it for a storm of this strength to hit eastern Canada?

JACOBS: It is unusual, but not unheard of for hurricanes to land up in the Maritimes. The most infamous was Hurricane Juan back in 2003, which did about $200 million in damage. There was Dorian in 2019. We do know that climate change and warmer oceans are making extreme weather events like this one more intense, with more rainfall, and in general, more of these storms are making landfall further north. So whatever the outcome with Fiona, and it's difficult to assess while this storm is still cutting a very destructive path across the region, many meteorologists have predicted that this will be a storm of historic proportions for this part of Canada, and it's going to leave a lot of broken records trailing in its wake.

SIMON: Emma Jacobs in Montreal, thanks so much for being with us.

JACOBS: Thank you.

SIMON: Cars and long lines at Russian border crossings, tickets for flights out of Russia sold out or skyrocketing in price.

RASCOE: That was after this week's announcement from Russia that the country would be mobilizing hundreds of thousands of reservists to bolster their forces on the ground in Ukraine.

SIMON: NPR's Fatma Tanis is in Turkey, where flights from Russia have been packed with many men trying to avoid military service. She recently spoke to some of them when they arrived in Istanbul. Fatma, thanks so much for being with us.

FATMA TANIS, BYLINE: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: You were at Istanbul's main airport yesterday, and what was the scene like?

TANIS: All right. So first, I should note that Turkey is one of few countries that doesn't require a visa for Russians, since they can't go to European Union countries or the U.S. easily. Lots of Russians have been coming here. There are multiple flights every day from Russian cities to Istanbul and other places in Turkey, and nearly all of them have been booked solid for the next few weeks. Tickets were sold for upwards of $3,000, even.

At the airport, I found Russians coming in the arrivals terminal. Most of them were men, and many didn't want to talk because they're afraid of Russian government tracking them. One of them actually asked if I had a secret camera around as I was trying to interview him. But one thing really stood out. Most of the men had very little luggage, and that's because they had to convince Russian authorities that they were just leaving the country for a short trip, not to evade conscription.

SIMON: So they have to act like they're not leaving to avoid the war. Were you able to speak with some of these men, and what did they tell you about how they got out?

TANIS: Yes. They said it wasn't easy. After they heard the announcement, they rushed to find tickets, paid a lot of money, packed quickly. Then at the airports in Russia, they described crowds, long waits, as men who tried to leave were being interrogated by police. And because they were concerned about government retribution, they didn't want to use their names when talking to me. But here's one 35-year-old man from Moscow describing the questioning he faced.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Police interrogated us. There was some question about, for example, when did you buy this ticket? Was it bogus? And the second plane, they asked, did you service in the military? When? And did you receive the post that you need to go?

TANIS: He said nearly all of the people on his flight were men between the ages of 20 to 50, and he knows many more back in Russia who are desperately trying to leave, but it's very hard to find tickets now.

SIMON: Fatma, did you get a sense of how they felt about the war, not just their own welfare, but the war generally?

TANIS: I did. So the ones I spoke with said they were anti-war and they believe that a full-on draft is coming soon. But they said that not only can you get in trouble for saying that publicly, it's caused divisions between friends and relatives, and people have been arrested for protesting the mobilization in Russia. There are even reports that they're getting drafted while in police custody to be sent in Ukraine. One man told me that for Russians who are anti-war today, there are only two choices - to leave the country or go to jail.

SIMON: What do they plan to do now that they're out of Russia?

TANIS: They have limited options. You know, they moved quickly to leave and were limited to taking out just $10,000 in cash. It's difficult to use the Russian payment system abroad because of sanctions. But while in Turkey, most said they'll try to get a residence permit, look for apartments and jobs so they can bring their families out of Russia, too. Some of them already have friends here. There's a Russian anti-war community already here that can help. They've been coming in large numbers since the invasion began in the spring.

SIMON: NPR's Fatma Tanis in Istanbul. Thanks so much.

TANIS: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: And that's UP FIRST for Saturday, September 24, 2022. This weekend version of the podcast has been produced by Andrew Craig, Ian Stewart and Isabella Gomez Sarmiento.

RASCOE: Our editors are Ashley Lisenby, Ed McNulty, Melissa Gray and Ravenna Koenig.

SIMON: Directing our podcast, Michael Radcliffe and Danny Hensel.

RASCOE: Our technical directors are Alex Drewenskus and Hannah Gluvna.

SIMON: Evie Stone is our supervising editor, and Sarah Lucy Oliver is our executive producer.

RASCOE: And Jim Kane is our deputy managing editor, with an assist from Steve Drummond.

SIMON: I'm Scott Simon.

RASCOE: And I'm Ayesha Rascoe. Tomorrow on UP FIRST, the second part in the story of one Uyghur man's effort to reunite his family after his wife and children were detained by Chinese authorities. You can follow us on social media. We're at @upfirst on Twitter.

SIMON: And for more news, interviews, features, entertainment, you can always find us on the radio.

RASCOE: Weekend Edition, Saturday and Sunday mornings. Find your NPR station at stations.npr.org.

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