Hard Numbers: Baguette inflation, Beijing countdown, Poland fines, Saudi sweeteners

Illustration, probable increase in the price of the baguette due to the increase in flour.

5: The price of a fresh baguette in France could soon rise by as much as 5 centimes (about 6 cents), as a global wheat shortage makes the staple of French cuisine (and identity) more expensive. That might not sound like much, but considering that France's famed "Bread Observatory" estimates that the French eat 10 billion baguettes every year, it adds up. Revolutions have started over less!


99: There are just 99 days until the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics. That means 99 days for Xi Jinping's people to figure out how to hold a pandemic-safe event, and 99 days for other countries, particularly in the "West" to decide what kind of boycotts they are really willing to impose on account of China's human rights abuses in Xinjiang and its security crackdown in Hong Kong.

1 million: Poland's ongoing clash with the EU over judicial reforms is starting to get expensive now. The European Court of Justice on Wednesday ordered Poland to begin paying a fine of 1 million Euros per day so long as Warsaw continues to ignore an EU ruling which said that recent Polish judicial reforms violate the bloc's rule of law standards. Poland, which called the fine "blackmail," doesn't seem likely to start writing checks to Brussels just yet.

7,000: Saudi Arabia is reportedly trying to lure as many as 7,000 companies from around the world to set up regional headquarters in the Kingdom. The move — which includes incentives like expedited work visas and lighter regulation — is part of Riyadh's bid to challenge Dubai as the Gulf's most multinational-friendly location.

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The supply chain mess is hitting all of us. Inflation is now the highest it's been in over 30 years.

The costs of food, gas and housing are going through the roof. What's more, almost everything made outside of America is now in short supply — like semiconductors for our cars.

Why is this happening? A lot of it has to do with the pandemic. Asian factories had to shut down or thought there would be less demand for their stuff. So did shipping companies. But then online shopping surged, and now there's a lot of pent-up demand to spend all the cash we saved during COVID.

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Veteran Korea correspondent and former AP Pyongyang bureau chief Jean Lee discusses the two Koreas with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World. From K-Pop supergroup BTS to Oscar-winner Parasite to Netflix global sensation Squid Game, South Korea seems to be churning out one massive cultural hit after another. And North Korea is taking notice.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: The Korean Peninsula from K-Pop to Kim Jong-un

Subscribe to GZERO on YouTube to be the first to see new episodes of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: http://bit.ly/2TxCVnY

The economic consequences of high inflation are already bad enough.

But for Larry Summers, sometimes the psychological trauma that comes with it can do even more damage to a society.

"A society where inflation is accelerating is a society that feels out of control."

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Should you believe the hype(rsonic)?

Over the past few months, US officials have become increasingly alarmed about a new type of killing machines called "hypersonic weapons."

The top US General, Mark Milley, said that China's successful test of an advanced hypersonic weapon earlier this year was "very close" to a "Sputnik moment" – referring to the Soviet Union's surprise launch of the world's first artificial satellite in 1957, which raised fears that the US was lagging behind a formidable technological rival.

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Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

What is Facebook planning with the metaverse?

Well, my sense is that Facebook mostly prefers a virtual reality over the actual situation the company is in, with overwhelming criticism about the many harms to people it is causing all over the world. The metaverse at launch would be added to a number of services and experiences online in a more virtual and augmented reality setting. Think about what the gaming sector has done, but now, also, other big tech firms are jumping on the bandwagon. The thing to remember is that the user experience would be more immersive.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

Why did President Biden renominate Jay Powell to be the chairman of the Fed, and who's his No.2, Lael Brainard?

Well, Powell by all accounts has done a pretty good job of managing the Fed through the coronavirus pandemic. He dusted off the playbook, first pioneered by Chairman Bernanke during the financial crisis, and he's largely continued the relatively easy monetary policy of his predecessor at the Fed, now Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen. With inflation growing the way it has over the last several months, Biden now owns the policies of the Fed and is essentially endorsing what Powell has been doing and giving Powell the political cover to continue to keep rates low for longer, or as many people expect, raise them slightly over the next 12 months in order to fight inflation.

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When Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all counts, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who created the "1619 Project" tweeted: "In this country, you can even kill white people and get away with it if those white people are fighting for Black lives. This is the legacy of 1619." In an upcoming interview with Ian Bremmer, she explains why she saw the verdict as a consequence of this country's long history of double standards when it comes to racial justice. "The fact that we own more guns in this country than any other country is certainly a legacy of 1619" Hannah-Jones says. "This idea that white Americans can patrol, that they have the right to open carry, this is not something that Black Americans can engage in, in the same way." Watch her full conversation with Ian Bremmer in an upcoming episode of GZERO World.

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How did we get to today's supply chain mess?

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