Hard Numbers: Another South American leftist on the ropes?

21 million: China has pledged $21 million to Nepal over the next three years as part of its latest attempt to pull that country away from India's sphere of influence. This follows China's earlier promise to build a railway connecting Nepal and China.


6: The Greens Party made historic gains in Switzerland's national elections on Sunday, getting a six-point boost since 2015, taking 13.2 percent of the vote. While the anti-immigration Swiss People's Party remains the leader despite a slip in support, the Greens' rise reflects voters' concerns over climate change, which emerged as the dominant electoral issue.

9: India and Pakistan blamed each other for an exchange of fire in disputed Kashmir that killed nine people on both sides. This was one of the deadliest episodes since renewed fighting between the hostile neighbors began in August after India stripped the region of its semi-autonomy.

45: Bolivia's President Evo Morales fell short of outright victory in Sunday's presidential elections, taking 45 percent of the vote with most ballots counted. Many have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest the leftist firebrand's increasingly authoritarian instincts. Bolivia's weak opposition will now get a chance to beat the 15-year incumbent in December's runoff elections.

The danger to informal workers grows: Coronavirus lockdowns have created a world of uncertainty for businesses and workers around the world. But one group of people that could be hit particularly hard are those working in the so-called "informal economy," where workers lack formal contracts, labor protections, or social safety nets. Nowhere is this challenge more widespread than in Africa, where a whopping 85 percent of the work force toils in the informal sector. These workers, which include street vendors, drivers, and the self-employed, don't have the luxury of working from home, which makes social distancing unviable. As a result, many continue to go to work, risking exposure to the virus, because not turning up is often the difference between putting food on the table and starving. What's more, even where governments are trying to provide support, many people lack bank accounts, complicating efforts to get them aid. In Nigeria, for example, some 60 percent of people do not even have a bank account, according to the World Bank.

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As Europe inches past the peak of COVID-19 deaths and the US slowly approaches it, many poorer countries are now staring into an abyss. As bad as the coronavirus crisis is likely to be in the world's wealthiest nations, the public health and economic blow to less affluent ones, often referred to as "developing countries," could be drastically worse. Here's why:

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What's the new normal going to look like? Now that numbers are at least plateauing, if not leveling off in hard hit countries in Europe. An effective lockdown may last 4 - 8 weeks. Once you start pulling back on quarantine measures, what's life look like? What's the economy look like? The idea that life is back to normal anytime soon is really, really overstated.

Assuming workplaces get fully functional with suitable personal protective equipment, feel comfortable that we're not going to get significant additional cases. In the workplace, you organize social distancing in offices, you give people more flexibility on work from home, and everybody in contact regularly with people gets masks. You should be able to get to that point within 3 months in the world's developed economies. They're there functionally in China. That allows you to get the economy going again.

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Ben White, Chief Economic Correspondent for Politico, provides his perspective on the coronavirus-related news in US politics: What's the coronavirus update?

Well, we've gotten at least a little bit of good news that perhaps the rate of deaths in New York City is plateauing and may start to come down. God willing, we'll see if that comes to pass. Also, some indications that if we keep social distancing in place through the end of May, we could see fewer deaths than we worried about and fewer hospital beds need it. So, God willing, that happens.

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