We’ve summarised the top 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.
Business & Economics
- The G7 has struck an agreement to raise taxes on multinational corporations. This marks a significant development in negotiations that started in 2013. The deal stipulates that “the largest global companies” with profit margins of over 10% will have to allocate 20% of their global profits to countries where they make their sales, while also creating a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15%.
- 559,000 new jobs were added to the US economy in May, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.8%. While the new data released by the US labour department fell short of predictions, it was significantly higher than the 278,000 new jobs created in April. The unemployment rate is below 6% for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This data comes alongside economic growth due to the easing of lockdown restrictions as well as increases in inflation.
- The UK and the EU have launched new antitrust probes into Facebook. In particular, regulators seek to investigate whether Facebook’s data gives it an unfair advantage in its Facebook Marketplace and Facebook Dating platforms.
- Russia has announced that it would cut its US dollar holdings in its National Wealth Fund to zero, increasing its stake in the euro, renminbi, and gold. This change comes two weeks before a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden.
- European inflation has overshot the ECB target for the first time since 2018. Prices in the Eurozone increased 2% in May compared to last year, up from 1.6% in April. The ECB’s governing council will meet next week to decide how to respond to the new figures, including how to adjust its recently accelerated pace of quantitative easing.
- AMC, the cinema chain, has seen its share price surge as it reached “meme stock” status due to day traders bidding its price up. On 2 June, it closed at a market capitalisation of $31 billion, compared to $4 billion the previous month. The company has offered free popcorn for shareholders and plans to issue more stock to shore up its cash reserves, which were depleted during the pandemic.
- The UK has signed a trade deal with Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, boosting trade currently worth £21.6 billion. The agreement holds clauses to reduce the customs process by using digital paperwork as well as to reduce duties on imports. Although the relationship will likely be more bureaucratic than it was pre-Brexit, it will be an improvement on standard World Trade Organization terms.
- Israeli opposition parties have reached a coalition agreement to form a government and end Benjamin Netanyahu’s time in office. The announcement could circumnavigate the political deadlock that has gripped the nation for four elections in the past two years. If successful, the coalition would be led by Naftali Bennett, a former Minister of Defence, until 2023 and then by Yair Lapid, a centrist, until 2025.
- China announced that they would allow families to have up to three children, following census data showing a sharp drop in birth rates and economists’ warning of a declining workforce. In 2016, the Chinese government removed the one-child policy, allowing couples to have two children instead. However, this has so far not led to a significant increase in births, likely due to the high costs of raising children.
- The European Union has decided to maintain its non-essential travel restriction on the US and the UK, while adding Japan to its list of nations for which restrictions will be lifted. These recommendations are not legally binding, and France will allow fully vaccinated visitors from the US and the UK to avoid quarantines from 9 June.
- Belarusian dissident journalist Roman Protasevich was arrested in Minsk on 23 May. The commercial airliner he was flying on was forced to land in Belarus, despite being headed for Lithuania. On 4 June, he was filmed in a state television interview, where he appeared to praise President Lukashenko of Belarus and confess to attempting to topple him. It is almost certain that these statements were made under duress.
- Militants in Burkina Faso have killed 132 civilians and injured many more in an attack on a northern village. Several homes and the market of Solhan, near the northern border with Niger, were burnt down. This incident is the deadliest single attack on civilians in Burkina Faso since 2015.
- Hong Kong authorities have banned a candlelight vigil for the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. It was the first time that Victoria Park was empty on 4 June since 1989.
- Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony led a protest in Hungary’s capital, joined by thousands, decrying plans to build a Chinese university’s campus in the city. Karacsony, a candidate to lead an opposition alliance, claims that the $1.8 billion government-backed project shows Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s “moral suicide”. This follows the renaming of streets around the planned campus sites with references of the Dalai Lama and Free Hong Kong by the Budapest city authorities.
- Germany has formally acknowledged its role in genocide and property seizures in its former colony of Namibia. In addition, it has pledged to fund 1.1 billion euros worth of reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. While this is a historic moment for post-colonial redress, critics have said that the payment is neither a formal reparation, nor an adequate amount.
Written by John Chang