HARD NUMBERS

120: Record homicide levels have sapped some $120 billion from Brazil’s economy since the mid-1990s, according to a government report released this week. To put that in perspective, that’s almost equal to what the US spent on the Marshall Plan to revive Western Europe after World War Two.


66: A staggering 66 percent of Russians say they expect their team to win the World Cup this year, despite the fact that the odds are 50–1 against the home team. But the disappointment won’t be too widespread: only 15 percent of Russians say they’ll even watch the event closely either way.

40: Close to 40 percent of multinational firms’ profits are shifted away from their countries of residency into low-tax havens each year. That’s a huge amount of revenue that national governments aren’t getting to spend on their people, and it’s one of the reasons for the backlash against “globalism.”

29: Members of the security personnel of Swaziland’s King Mswati III have been fined 29 cattle after pictures of his multi-million-dollar private jet appeared on social media. In a country where two-thirds of the population lives in poverty, that’s a bad leak with a big bovine cost.

3/4: Nearly three-quarters of South Korean businesses say they would be willing to invest in the North if international sanctions on Pyongyang are lifted. One European company is already looking to outsource its technology there — well, we know that North Korea has world class hack- . . . er, we mean programming capabilities. 

The Business and Market Fair that recently took place in Sanzule, Ghana featured local crops, livestock and manufactured goods, thanks in part to the Livelihood Restoration Plan (LRP), one of Eni's initiatives to diversify the local economy. The LRP program provided training and support to start new businesses to approximately 1,400 people from 205 households, invigorating entrepreneurship in the community.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky sat down yesterday with Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron for a meeting in the Elysée Palace in Paris for peace talks. This was the first-ever meeting between Putin, Russia's dominant political force since 2000, and Zelensky, who was a TV comedian at this time last year.

Fears that Putin would use Zelensky's inexperience to back him into a deal on Russian terms weren't realized, but the relationship between the two has only just begun.

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Macron not backing down over pensions – Despite five days of mass unrest that has paralyzed Paris' public transport system and dented both tourism and Christmas retail, the government will stand firm on a proposal to reform and unify the country's 42 different pension plans. France's pension system, one of the most generous of any major industrialized country, has major budget shortfalls that contribute to the country's ballooning deficit. Last year, Macron abandoned a proposed fuel price hike that ignited the Yellow Vest movement. But overhauling France's "welfare state" was central to his 2017 election platform, and acquiescing to protesters this time around would be political suicide. France's prime minister – tapped to lead the pension reform project – is expected to announce the plan's final details tomorrow. We're watching to see how this might escalate things further.

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4: The World Anti-Doping Agency handed Russia a four-year ban from all major sporting events, precluding its participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and soccer's 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Russia has three weeks to appeal the ban, which its prime minister says is the result of "chronic anti-Russian hysteria."

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Are we seeing the creation of a parallel universe for US and Chinese tech industries?

I think the answer is yes. In the past, US has dominated the world in technologies from P.C. operating systems, semiconductors, to servers, and even Internet. But ever since the rise of mobile technologies, China has really leveraged the large market with a huge amount of data and now is beginning to innovate and build great mobile apps on which there's a large amount of data being collected.

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