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Speaker of the House Mike Johnson speaks during a news conference at the US Capitol on May 7, 2024, in Washington, DC.

USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters

Hard Numbers: GOP makes illegal thing illegal, Immigration inquiries overload Ottawa, Westjet makes its flight, US gas demand sputters

0.0001: Republican lawmakers in the US have proposed a new bill that would make it illegal for non-citizens to vote in US elections. As it happens, this is already illegal. House Speaker Mike Johnson explained the measure by arguing that “we all know intuitively that a lot of illegals are voting” but acknowledged that this is “not easily provable.” A 2016 NYU study of more than 20 million votes in 42 jurisdictions found that 0.0001% were cast by non-citizens.

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Are markets becoming immune to disruptive geopolitics?
Geopolitics & the economy | Global Stage

Are markets becoming immune to disruptive geopolitics?

There’s no escaping the intricate link between economics and geopolitics. Today, that link has become a crucial factor in investment decision-making, and who better to speak to that than Margaret Franklin, CEO of CFA Institute, a global organization of investment professionals? Franklin sat down with GZERO’s Tony Maciulis at a Global Stage event for the IMF-World Bank spring meetings this week.

Economists once predicted that sovereign debt would overwhelm global markets. But now, having been through the pandemic, the advent of AI, and wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, “there's almost a level of immunity,” she says, “to the dramatic nature of it until something really cataclysmic happens.”

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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and New South Wales Premier Chris Minns join other politicians as they lay flowers at the scene of Saturday's mass stabbing at Bondi Junction, Sydney, Australia April 14, 2024.

AAP Image/Dean Lewins via REUTERS

Hard numbers: Sydney stabbing, Pricey Pakistan, US Steel deal, Costco gold rush

6: Australia is reeling from one of the country’s deadliest mass killings after six shoppers were stabbed to death at a mall in Sydney on Saturday. The attack left several others injured, including a baby who is in intensive care. The assailant, who was shot dead by police, was known to authorities and had been diagnosed with a mental illness as a teenager.

25: Pakistan has the highest cost of living in Asia, according to a report from the Asian Development Bank, and it’s only set to grow with a crushing 25% inflation rate. Authorities have hiked interest rates to 22% to try to alleviate the problem, but Pakistan’s economy will likely require further support from the International Monetary Fund.

14.9 billion: Shareholders in US Steel overwhelmingly voted to approve an offer from Nippon Steel to acquire the company at about $55 a share — but don’t expect the deal to close anytime soon. US President Joe Biden has expressed opposition to the deal, which could cost him crucial support from steelworkers in upper Midwestern swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

200 million: Wholesaler Costco is estimated to be selling over $200 million worth in one-ounce gold barsevery month, according to an analysis by Wells Fargo. Those who made their purchases in the fall, when Costco was selling the bars for around $2,000 each have earned a nice bit of profit, as gold has surged to over $2,300 an ounce since March.
Jess Frampton

Secret sauce of the boom: immigration

The riddle of recovery: Is the economy broken, or is it booming? And is there a secret accelerant no elected official wants to talk about?

Turns out, how folks perceive the economy is often tied more closely to how they vote than to reality. Donald Trump's supporters argue the economy is a disaster of debt and inflation, made worse by an immigration nightmare playing out at the borders. To prove their case, they wander into the Cherry Orchard of Convenient Stats and pick a few choice numbers to make their case.

  • US debt has passed $34 trillion and will exceed the dangerous 99% debt-to-GDP ratio.
  • Between 60%-78% of US households are living paycheck to paycheck, depending on the survey.
  • Credit card debt has hit record levels, with 50% of consumers unable to pay off their monthly bills.
  • Food prices are going up even as inflation is down, rising over 2.2% from last year, according to the Consumer Price Index.
  • Big layoffs are hitting the tech, financial, retail, media, and energy sectors.
  • Home affordability: Most people with an average income can no longer afford a home, which in most cities now requires an income of over $100,000.
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REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany.

Have the US and Canada managed a soft landing?

Speaking of things looking up. An economic outlook report from Deloitte Canada suggests the country will avoid a recession and begin to recover in the second half of 2024 – assuming the US economy keeps humming along, the Bank of Canada starts cutting interest rates soon, and newcomers keep arriving.
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Ian Explains: Will foreign policy decide the 2024 US election?
Will foreign policy decide the 2024 US election? | Ian Bremmer explains | GZERO World

Ian Explains: Will foreign policy decide the 2024 US election?

How much does foreign policy matter in a US presidential election? This year, more than usual.

When pollsters started asking Americans in 1948 what they viewed as the “most important problem” facing the country, foreign policy and international security dominated.

Looking ahead to the 2024 presidential election, Biden has managed to turn a Covid-ravaged economy around, with growth pegged at about three percent per quarter. Wages are going up, unemployment is at an all-time low and the stock market is coming on strongly. By every economic indicator, Biden should be surging. And yet, by every political indicator, he’s floundering.

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Ian Explains: Is the US economy good or bad?
Is the US economy good or bad? | Ian Bremmer explains | GZERO World

Ian Explains: Is the US economy good or bad?

What’s going on with the US economy? On Ian Explains, Ian Bremmer breaks down the confusing state of America’s financial health.

Trying to make sense of economic indicators right now can be an exercise in illogic: unemployment is down, but inflation is still stubbornly sticky. Interest rates are higher than they’ve been in two decades, but stock indexes are closing at record highs. Adding to confusion, the upcoming US presidential election means that the economy is front and center, but Democrats and Republicans have a partisan interest in making things seem worse or better than they actually are. So what’s really going on?

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Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies to the Senate Banking Committee in Washington, DC.

Jasper Colt-USA TODAY via Reuters

Central bankers forecast clouds, with a chance of rate cuts

The millions of homeowners who have seen their mortgage payments double in recent years would no doubt concur with Mark Twain in his assessment of bankers – as the type of people who lend you an umbrella when the sun is shining and want it back as soon as it starts to rain.

Hopes for a break in the monetary policy clouds were frustrated this week as two North American central bankers said that interest rate cuts remain some way off.

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