We’ve summarised the 15 key stories of the last week into an easily digestible briefing so that you can stay up to date on what’s happening around the world. You can subscribe to receive the briefing in your inbox each week.
- The total number of deaths in the UK from Covid-19 has passed the grim milestone of 100,000. However, hope is growing that the UK’s rapid rollout of Covid-19 vaccines could prevent many future deaths. To date, over 8.3 million people in the UK have been given a first dose of a vaccine.
- The EU threatened to trigger Article 16 in the Northern Ireland Protocol as part of their drive to put in place export restrictions on vaccines. The EU has become increasingly concerned in recent weeks at the slow pace of vaccinations inside the bloc. However, after a swift backlash from both the UK and Ireland, the threat was rescinded.
- The EU has become embroiled in a dispute with the drug manufacturer AstraZeneca over its supply of the Covid vaccine. The EU alleges that AstraZeneca has broken its contract by not supplying enough doses, but AstraZeneca says it only promised its “best reasonable effort”.
- President Biden has continued to sign executive orders at a rapid pace, reversing many of the Trump administration’s policies. He has now signed numerous orders relating to the environment and healthcare, as well as many aimed at the economy and equity.
- Congress is embroiled in a bitter dispute over the Democrats’ proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package. Many Republicans oppose it, while even some moderate Democrats want it to be pared down. However, the Democratic Leadership have pledged to force it through without the support of the GOP if necessary.
- Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned this week after Matteo Renzi withdrew his party’s support for the coalition. The Italian President has allowed for four days of crisis talks in order to allow parties to form a new coalition, but it remains unclear what will happen.
- The Chinese government has announced that it will no longer recognise the British National (Overseas) Passport as a valid document for travel or identification. The news came after Boris Johnson announced that millions of Hongkongers would be eligible to apply for a visa to live and work in the UK.
- The Netherlands has been rocked by rioters protesting against the imposition of the first “stay-at-home” order since the Nazi occupation. More than 180 were arrested after fires were lit and shops looted. Since the start of the pandemic, the country has had nearly a million Covid cases.
Business & Economics
- GameStop stock exploded this week after retail investors, organised through the Reddit forum WallStreetBets, bought up the stock en masse. Several hedge funds had large short positions in the stock, so the increase in price caused a significant short squeeze that saw the stock jump to over $300, up from $18 at the start of the month.
- Several trading apps, including the popular Robinhood, came under fire this week after they suspended purchases of GameStop stock as well as a number of other volatile stocks. Investors who used the platform were only able to close their positions in the stocks, leading to calls for investigation into the apps from Congressmen and Senators from both parties.
- The value of bitcoin jumped again this week to $37000 after Elon Musk added the word Bitcoin to his Twitter bio. Nor was this the only asset whose price jumped due to Musk’s words this week. GameStop stock jumped 50% after Musk tweeted “Gamestonk!!”.
- General Motors has announced that they will end production of all petrol vehicles by 2035, speeding up their plans to go electric. The carmaker is the largest in the US and has set itself a significant target; of the 2.55 million cars it sold last year, only 20,000 were electric.
- The iconic boot brand Dr Martens this week launched its IPO. The offer was significantly oversubscribed, and prices rose by 14% from the initial offering at 370p. Meanwhile Moonpig has announced it is accelerating its IPO and will price its offer at the top end of its range.
- Apple has recorded its most profitable quarter ever, with a revenue of $111.4 billion and profits of $28.7 billion. The results were partly fuelled by massive demand for the newest iPhones. iPhone revenues made up $65.6 billion of the total, a new record for Apple.
- The Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant has been delayed by 6 months and will cost another £500 million due to the pandemic. The plant will now not come online until at least June 2026 and will cost almost £23 billion, a significant increase from the £18 billion price tag that was originally estimated.
Written by Milo Dennison and Ed Hilditch