Hard Numbers

450,000: Venezuelan crude output has fallen 450,000 barrels per day, or 23 percent, over the past six months amid an exodus of employees at state-run oil giant PDVSA. Even as other major oil producing nations benefit from the 65 percent increase in oil prices since last June, Venezuela and its long-suffering population won’t experience the same lift.


30: China paid nearly $30 billion in licensing fees and royalties for foreign technology in 2017, up from just $8 billion a decade earlier. Excluding Ireland and the Netherlands, which account for an outsized portion of such payments due to the large number of multinationals headquartered within their borders for tax purposes, China ranks second globally behind the US and ahead of Japan, South Korea, and India.

25: With the resignation of Britain’s home secretary earlier this week, the government of Prime Minister Theresa May has lost six senior cabinet members since it was formed last June. That makes it the least stable government in the UK in 25 years. Mrs May is still a long way from Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who during his tenure lost, on average, one cabinet member every 35 days.

9.1: Nearly three-quarters of Liberians have cell phones, but only 9.1 percent of the African nation’s citizens have electricity. While the Harvard economist Ricardo Hausmann recently used this juxtaposition to illustrate how nimble private investment in telecoms has outpaced plodding public spending on Liberia’s power grid, my big takeaway is that people are astonishingly resilient — I say this as someone who can barely keep his phone charged.

3.1: China enticed the Dominican Republic to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and establish relations with Beijing by dangling a $3.1 billion package of investments and loans, a Taiwanese official told Reuters. That’s roughly 50 percent more than the total trade that the Dominican Republic says it conducted with China last year.

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

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Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

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It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.