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 USA has seen strong jobs growth this quarter, with average wages also rising. October alone saw the creation of over half a million jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 4.6%. The news boosted expectations of a strong recovery from COVID, but there remain 4 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic.
- The Bank of England held interest rates at a record low of 0.1% despite fears of rising inflation. Andrew Bailey did warn that the Bank “will have to act” and committed to raising rates soon, once more information has been gathered on the effect of the furlough scheme ending in October.
- Elon Musk has promised to honour a recent public Twitter poll on whether to sell 10% of his Tesla shares. He is critical of a so-called “Billionaires Tax” advocated by some Democrats on unrealised gains in stock prices but could face a substantial capital gains bill if the public decides he should sell.
- 46 countries at the COP26 conference signed an agreement to phase out coal-generated electricity by the 2030s. The surprise announcement includes countries in the top ten users of coal such as South Korea and Vietnam. However, China, India, and Australia – where over 47% of electricity generation comes from coal – refused to sign.
- The Taliban have issued a ban on the use of all foreign currencies in Afghanistan. Due to the instability of the domestic currency, the afghani, the dollar has been widely used. The economy is struggling as aid payments have been withheld and Afghan-owned foreign assets frozen after the Taliban takeover.
- G20 leaders have rubber-stamped the minimum global corporation tax of 15%. It aims to make multinational corporations pay more tax instead of rerouting profits through tax havens.
- Global food prices have risen to the highest level in over a decade, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Prices rose by more than 30% in the last year, largely owing to the soaring cost of cereals and vegetable oils. Economists point to the following factors: pandemic-induced supply disruptions, increased demand for commodities, factory closures and poor harvests aggravated by climate change.
- The US House of Representatives has passed a landmark $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, with 13 Republicans joining most of the Democrats. This represents a major victory for Joe Biden following falling approval ratings and losses in key elections this week. The bill will now be signed into law.
- More than 100 world leaders have agreed to end deforestation by 2030. The deal includes Brazil, which has cut down large swathes of the Amazon rainforest. Critics point out that previous international agreements failed to slow deforestation in any way.
- The UK government has abruptly withdrawn plans to reform the standards system for those in public office. The reversal follows outrage from opposition MPs, who accused the government of “corrupt and contemptible” behaviour to try and “protect” Conservative MP Owen Paterson. Mr Paterson was found to have breached lobbying rules.
- Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has survived an assassination attempt following a drone attack on his home in Baghdad. The attack has escalated tensions following last month’s election, as political parties seek to form a new government.
- In the United States, this week saw a series of gubernatorial elections that favoured the Republicans. Glenn Youngkin is the governor-elect for Virginia, a historically Democratic state. While the Democrats maintained the governorship of New Jersey, Phil Murphy only beat his Republican opponent by one percent.
- Italy has witnessed its largest mafia trial in decades, sentencing 70 members of the influential ‘Ndrangheta crime family. Over the next two years, 355 alleged mafiosos and corrupt officials will face trial for their connections with Italy’s richest and most powerful organised crime group.
- Protests have wracked Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, following a military coup carried out two weeks ago. Roads remain clogged with makeshift barricades; neighbourhoods are waiting to see if tense behind-the-scenes political negotiations can unravel the coup.
- Ethiopia’s civil war has escalated, with Tigray and Oromo rebels approaching the capital, Addis Ababa. Thousands of civilians have demonstrated in the streets, supporting the President, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Abiy Ahmed, while opposition parties have denounced his decision to crack down on the Tigray rebels last year. Ethiopia has been in a national state of emergency since 2 November.
Written by Chenyang Li and Tristan Hand