Hard Numbers

257: The Trump administration is preparing to announce tariffs on all remaining Chinese exports to the US if talks between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit next month fail to achieve a breakthrough. The new tariffs, which would total around $257 billion on top of $250 billion already implemented, could be announced by early December.


143: Nearly half of Iran’s 80 million people are set to receive government handouts of rice, chicken, and dairy products worth up to 6 million rials, or $143, as the country braces for the impact of new US sanctions. New curbs on Iranian crude shipments are expected to go into effect early next week.


19: The net worth of the world’s 2,158 billionaires rose 19 percent last year, to $8.9 trillion – the biggest increase on record, according to UBS. Chinese billionaires got the biggest bump. They ended the year 39 percent richer. Asia also surpassed the US in the total number of billionaires for the first time ever.


1.3:  Around 1.3 billion tourists hit the road 2017, according to World Tourism Organization. That’sdouble the number of vacationers just 18 years ago. Many of these adventure-seekers are traveling to the same handful of top global destinations, leading to overcrowding and tensions between tourists, locals, and governments.

Brazil's governors take on Bolsonaro: We've previously written about the tensions between local and national governments over coronavirus response, but few places have had it as bad as Brazil. As COVID-19 infections surged in Brazil, the country's governors quickly mobilized – often with scarce resources – to enforce citywide lockdowns. Brazil's gangs have even risen to the occasion, enforcing strict curfews to limit the virus' spread in Rio de Janeiro. But Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has mocked the seriousness of the disease and urged states to loosen quarantines in order to get the economy up and running again. "Put the people to work," he said this week, "Preserve the elderly; preserve those who have health problems. But nothing more than that." In response, governors around the country – including some of his allies – issued a joint letter to the president, begging him to listen to health experts and help states contain the virus. The governor of Sao Paulo, Brazil's economic powerhouse, has even threatened to sue the federal government if Bolsonaro continues to undermine his efforts to combat the virus' spread.

More Show less

The major outbreaks of coronavirus in China, Europe, and the United States have garnered the most Western media attention in recent weeks. Yesterday, we went behind the headlines to see how Mexico and Russia are faring. Today, we'll look at three other potential hotspots where authorities and citizens are now contending with the worst global pandemic in a century.

Start with India. For weeks, coronavirus questions hovered above that other country with a billion-plus people, a famously chaotic democracy where the central government can't simply order a Chinese-scale public lockdown with confidence that it will be respected. It's a country where 90 percent of people work off the books— without a minimum wage, a pension, a strong national healthcare system, or a way to work from home.

More Show less

In the end, it took the coronavirus to break the year-long deadlock in Israeli politics. Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu will still face corruption charges, but he has yet another new lease on political life, as he and political rival Benny Gantz cut a deal yesterday: Bibi will continue as prime minister, with Gantz serving as Speaker of the Knesset, Israel's parliament. After 18 months, Gantz will take over as prime minister, but many doubt that will ever happen.

More Show less

With large parts of the American economy shuttered because of coronavirus-related lockdowns, the number of people filing jobless claims in the US last week exceeded 3.2 million, by far the highest number on record. Here's a look at the historical context. The surge in jobless claims, which may be an undercount, is sure to cause a spike in the unemployment rate (which tells you the percent of work-ready people who are looking for a job). At last reading in February, unemployment was at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent. Economists warn that it could reach 5.5 percent in the near term. Even that would be far lower than the jobless rates recorded during previous economic crises such as the Great Depression or the Great Recession. Have a look.