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US President Joe Biden grapples with inflation.

GZERO Media

The jobs report for November came in hot Friday, revealing that wage and job growth in the world’s largest economy remain robust. Sounds like a good thing, right? Well, not when the US economy is reeling from decade-high inflation.

Markets cooled on Friday morning – and then recovered slightly – as investors got spooked by news that the US economy added 263,000 jobs in November while average hourly wages jumped 5.1% year-on-year, a key component of inflation. For context, between 2010-2019 average monthly job gains in the US came in at around 183,000. November’s unemployment rate, meanwhile, remained stubbornly low at 3.75% despite recent aggressive efforts by the US Federal Reserve to cool an economy set on fire by dual nightmares: the pandemic and war in Ukraine.

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Chips enable the tech in your devices — and are making political waves around the world. We don’t expect you to know your fabs from your polycrystals, but if you’re a Signal reader you might be familiar with the politics of it all. Test your knowledge of recent news in our quiz.

Semiconductor manafacturing require a lot of water.

GZERO Media

264 billion: Semiconductor manufacturing is extremely water intensive. Consider that the industry consumes as much as 264 billion gallons of water per year, and by some estimates, a large chip plant can use up to 10 million gallons of water a day, equivalent to the water consumption of roughly 300,000 households.

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A US cellphone chip's global journey

GZERO Media

Semiconductors bind the electrical circuits in the tech we use every day. In mid-2021, a global semiconductor shortage caused by COVID supply/demand issues and a drought in Taiwan made many devices hard to come by. But the self-ruled island in China's crosshairs is only part of the global chipmaking supply chain, which travels back and forth between Europe, Asia, and the US. We follow its steps for a smartphone.

Semiconductor manufacturing.

Annie Gugliotta.

In technology, as in geopolitics, a little resistance can make all the difference. Consider semiconductors, the nearly invisible microchips essential for running everything from our computers to our cars to our cruise missiles. They work by doing something deceptively simple: They use carefully calibrated resistance to slow the flow of electricity through a circuit in ways that make computing possible. The smaller they get the more powerful our devices become.

The trouble is, global semiconductor supply chains have some big resistance points of their own, choke points that threaten to make microchips a macro-geopolitical flashpoint.

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Foreign born World Cup players.

GZERO Media

If you're a soccer player, your dream is to compete in the World Cup — with whatever country will call you up, whether you were born there or not. About 10% of players in the 2022 edition of the tournament in Qatar are foreign-born.

But this is nothing new. Almost 14% of players in Italy '90 were foreign-born and in the colonial era legends like striker Eusébio from Mozambique defended the colors of Portugal. What's more, when FIFA's eligibility standards were more lax, players were allowed to switch sides. José Altafini won the trophy with his native Brazil in 1958 and four years later didn’t repeat victory because he’d signed up for Italy, his adopted country. Wars matter, too: Robert Prosinecki played for Yugoslavia in 1990 and later for independent Croatia in 1998.

Also, the distribution of foreign-born players in Qatar 2022 is unequal: While half of Morocco's squad was not born in Morocco, four teams — Argentina, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea — have no foreign-born players at all. Fun fact: The Williams brothers, both born in Spain, are playing for different countries — the older Iñaki is realizing his grandfather's dream by playing for Ghana, where the family's roots are, while Nico is with La Roja.

We take a look at the number of foreign-born players in World Cup national squads.

Symbols of the Republican and Democratic parties

GZERO Media

President Joe Biden has given every indication, short of a formal announcement, that he will run for reelection in 2024. But public focus on his age – he’ll be 82 on Election Day – and his higher-but-still-sagging approval ratings continue to feed media speculation, and the hopes of some Democrats, that he’ll follow the lead of outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and make room for a younger generation of leaders within his party.

Biden knows that past presidents eligible for reelection who decided not to run have seen their party lose the White House. (See Harry Truman in 1952 and Lyndon Johnson in 1968.) No one within the party wants to publicly push him off stage. As both parties have learned the hard way, a primary challenge for a sitting president can doom the incumbent’s party to defeat. (See Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George HW Bush in 1992.)

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