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Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers (UAW) speaks as President Joe Biden joins striking UAW members on the picket line in Belleville, Mich., in September.

REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Could union wage hikes worsen inflation?

It may be cold out, but bankers up north are sweating thanks to a flurry of union settlements that could, according to a new report from Toronto-Dominion Bank, have “staying power.”

For years, unionized workers’ pay failed to keep pace with inflation, but now labor negotiators are pressing to close the gap. The successful UAW strike in the United States led to 11% wage increases, and Canadian union settlements, though not as high, are rising as workers try to make up for ground lost to inflation.

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Protestors gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court ahead of the oral arguments in two cases that challenge President Joe Biden's $400 billion student loan forgiveness plan.

Megan Smith-USA TODAY via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: SCOTUS mulling student debt relief, Blinken visiting Central Asia, Biden's partial TikTok ban, Petro’s post-honeymoon phase

US Supreme Court weighs student loan forgiveness

The US Supreme Court began hearing arguments on Tuesday in a pair of cases that will test the limitations of presidential power and could derail Joe Biden’s plan to forgive $400 billion in student debt. Biden campaigned on debt relief, promising to help families burdened by the pandemic-fueled economic crisis. But now the court will decide whether Biden has the authority to forgive student loans. The White House cites a 2003 law aimed at alleviating hardship suffered by federal student loan recipients following a national emergency, but opponents say debt relief should require congressional approval. Biden hopes to fulfill his campaign promise ahead of next year’s presidential race, and millions of millennials and Gen-Z scholars – many of whom could see up to $20,000 of their federal student loan debt wiped away – will be waiting with bated breath. A decision will drop before the court adjourns in June, but so far, justices in the conservative majority seem critical of Biden’s move.

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A new 1000 Naira note as the Central Bank of Nigeria releases the notes to the public, December 15, 2022.

REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

What We’re Watching: Nigeria’s dwindling cash/patience, Bolsonaro’s next move, China's diplomatic European tour, Armenia’s olive branch

Nigeria’s currency crisis

It’s a little over a week before voters head to the polls in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, and temperatures on the streets are rising amid protests over a cash shortage. In November, outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari began a program of phasing out currencies of high denominations, saying it would help transition the country to a cashless economy and clamp down on the currency black market and inflation. The timing appears odd so close to an election, but Buhari’s explanation has been that the measure will curb vote buying. But fast forward three months, and banks are running low on cash, with people having to line up for hours to withdraw their own savings. After being told by the government to hand in large denomination notes in exchange for new wads of cash, many are being sent home empty-handed. This is particularly problematic because the West African country of more than 213 million is highly reliant on cash, with just 45% having access to a bank account in 2021. Violence is on the rise as frustrated Nigerians take to the streets, which presents increasing governance challenges ahead of the crucial Feb. 25 vote. In a bid to calm things down, Buhari announced Thursday that one of the three banknotes being phased out would remain legal for another two months. For more on what’s at stake, see this Q+A with Eurasia Group’s Africa expert Amaka Anku.

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Welcome to the GZERO

Welcome to the GZERO

Hi, I’m Ian Bremmer, and I want to help us all become a little less crazy. Starting now.

I think, talk, and write about global politics for a living. That's too important a subject to be left to “schools of thought,” which is why I left academia to go into business—the business of geopolitics. And because so many people know they don’t really understand this subject—and know they need to—I and 200 of the smartest people I know have built the world’s largest political science company, Eurasia Group.

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How Covid-19 killed the KL-Singapore project

January 02, 2021 5:00 AM

Malaysia's decision yesterday to cancel the high-speed rail (HSR) project with Singapore was a painful one, say analysts, but a necessary move to shore up its domestic economy against the more immediate onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chinese leaders pledge to keep up economic recovery

December 19, 2020 5:00 AM

Senior Chinese leaders have pledged to maintain "necessary support" to keep up China's economic recovery, as the world's second-largest economy continues to face uncertainties and headwinds.

Wuhan: A city of resilience, a city of scars

December 12, 2020 5:00 AM

WUHAN - On a rainy Sunday evening, a line of about 100 cars is at a standstill waiting to enter an upscale mall in the Guanggu district east of Wuhan.

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