294 and 297:  Passport numbers issued to two alleged Russian intelligence operatives suspected in the attempted assassination of a former double-agent in the UK ended in the digits 294 and 297. News outlets have subsequently identifiedseveral other spook-ish characters with numerically close passport numbers, some of whom listed a building just around the corner from military intelligence headquarters in Moscow as their home address. #NotEvenHidingIt

$81:  Brent crude oil breached $81 per barrel on Monday, its highest level since late 2014. Falling Iranian oil exports, continued fighting near key oil fields in Libya, uncertainty about Venezuela’s political future, and bottlenecks in the US pipeline system have all contributed to the recent runup in prices, which some oil traders think could hit $100 before long.

4: Just four countries -- Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia-- accountfor nearly a quarter of all murders around the world every year. Overall, Latin America accounts for about a third of global homicides despite being home to just 8 percent of the world’s population.

1: Hong Kong’s government has banned a political party just once since the city-state returned to Beijing’s control in 1999. It happened this weekend when officials outlawed the minuscule pro-independence Hong Kong National Party on national security grounds.

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.

More Show less

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:

More Show less

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.

More Show less

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.

More Show less