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Covid Protests Spread in China | Quick Take | GZERO Media

COVID protests spread in China

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: My goodness, speaking of kicking off your week, all across China, demonstrations of the sort that we have certainly not seen under Xi Jinping rule about COVID, about zero COVID, and the loss of liberties that Chinese citizens have faced, but also increasingly moving towards demands for free speech and open media, and even Xi Jinping's removal, certainly unprecedented in this country in the last decade. Xi now, of course, on his third term, having removed term limits, consolidated extraordinary power, but some people really aren't happy about it.

What's going on here? Well, first of all, the proximate cause, the spark that set this all off was an apartment building fire in Xinjiang, where the firefighters were not able to adequately respond because of COVID quarantine measures. So, they couldn't get hoses to actually fight the fire because they weren't allowed in, they didn't have the keys, it was locked down. And as a consequence, a lot of Chinese citizens died. That led to demonstrations all over the country, ostensibly in solidarity with this incredibly poor mistake on the part of local Chinese leaders in Xinjiang, but also really increasingly frustrated with the fact that zero COVID in China has been an incredible disruption to daily life for hundreds of millions of Chinese.

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Chinese workers load a van with parcels, most of which are from online shopping, at a distribution center in Shanghai.

Reuters

Hard Numbers: Global packaging boom, livestreamed peaches, the art of 1s and 0s, e-commerce’s share of the pie

63.6: All those e-commerce goods have to be shipped in something, right? The global market for envelopes, tubes, mailers, and other protective packaging is projected to hit $63.6 billion this year, nearly double where it stood in 2019.

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Ask An Economist: How to Lower Inflation | GZERO World

Ask An Economist: How to lower inflation

US inflation is now at a 40-year high. So, what are we going to do about it?

That depends on where you think the problem is coming from, American economist and University of Chicago professor Austan Goolsbee says on GZERO World with Ian Bremmer.

If inflation is being driven by too much stimulus, like some economists such as Larry Summers believe, Goolsbee believes the Federal Reserve is doing the right thing by raising interest rates to cool demand. But if inflation is mostly due to the war in Ukraine or supply chain disruptions, rate hikes might result in stagflation.

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The Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni leaves the sea port in Odesa after restarting grain export, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine.

REUTERS/Serhii Smolientsev

Hard Numbers: Grain ship finally departs Odesa, EU cash to Ukraine, monkeypox spreads in Brazil, BoE mulls big rate hike

26,000: The first grain-filled ship to leave the Black Sea port of Odesa set sail on Monday. Carrying 26,000 metric tonnes of Ukrainian corn, the ship will first stop in Istanbul en route to Lebanon.

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GZERO Media

What We're Watching: Truckers wanted & not-so-cheap chips

Where are all the truck drivers?

The global truck driver shortage has been disrupting already-out-of-whack supply chains, particularly in the US, the European Union, and Britain – further complicating their post-pandemic economic recoveries. Last year, the American Truckers Association said it was around 80,000 drivers short, while in Europe, a deficit of 40,000 truckers has contributed to long waits and empty shelves. What’s going on? The pandemic has upended the way we work. Trucking is an arduous and ungratifying gig: Drivers often spend days or weeks far away from home, and they don’t get paid for hours spent waiting for goods to be loaded and unloaded. The road can be grueling, the compensation is underwhelming, and the benefits are often … nonexistent. In the US, trucking salaries have plunged in recent decades. Median wages for truck drivers in 1980 were about $110,000 annually (adjusted for inflation); in 2020, they were just $47,130. Unsurprisingly, many truckers are opting for jobs with better conditions and pay, so trucking firms in Europe and the US are struggling to lure drivers back to work and recruit new staff. It’s particularly grim in the UK, where supply side frictions have been exacerbated by Brexit. In the US, meanwhile, companies like Walmart are fighting back by offering massive salary hikes to attract truck drivers. Will it get the wheels turning?

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Global Inflation Shock | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Global inflation shock

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Going to talk about inflation. Why inflation? Well, because I posted something on Twitter that sort of exploded over the course of the last couple of days, which means people are clearly interested. And I'll tell you what the tweet was, I'll show you a little post here. It said, "US: left government, high inflation. UK: right government, high inflation. Germany: centrist government, high inflation. Italy: everyone in government, high inflation. Wild guess, it's not the government." Now of course, it is government in part, but it's not the government, which is the point. In other words, no matter who you decide to elect, if it was Trump, or Biden, or Merkel, or Scholz, or Johnson, or Starmer, or Bolsonaro, or Lula, you are getting high inflation, you're getting high inflation globally. I'll talk about why that is.

Now, a lot of people went nuts and said, "How can you call the US government left?" And certainly, from a global perspective, the entire US political spectrum is kind of on the right. And from the European perspective, you wouldn't call Biden a leftist, you'd call him a centrist. You might even call him center-right? Of course, Fox News on Primetime calls Biden and the Democrats a bunch of socialists. And if I said that the US was a left government, I mean a right government, then everybody in the US explodes, so it just shows how divided and screwed up everybody generally is anyway. But leaving that all aside, the point is the point. And it's an important point, which is that we are so divided in the United States and globally that when something that really upsets us happens that we haven't seen in over a generation, which is persistent levels of very high inflation, we get really angry, and we want to blame the government and blame the government hard.

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Models of oil barrels and a pump jack are displayed in front of a rising stock graph

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

What We're Watching: Soaring oil prices, inching towards an Iran nuclear deal

Rising energy crisis? Barely a week after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, energy prices are going up faster than most experts predicted. Brent oil rose above $119 a barrel on Thursday, while Dutch natural gas futures — the benchmark for Europe — were trading at the equivalent of $360 per crude barrel. What’s more, prices are already soaring before Western sanctions have targeted Russian oil and gas, which could provoke Moscow into cutting off supplies to Europe. Why is this happening? Demand for Russian commodities has plummeted over fears that the next wave of sanctions will include energy. This week, the US and 30 other countries announced the release of 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserves to stop the bleeding, but that won’t be enough if the Russians turn off the tap. Will the Europeans continue supporting tough sanctions when their citizens start complaining about the cost of electricity bills and gas at the pump?

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Macron & Putin Discuss Ukraine & De-Escalation | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Signs of Russian climbdown following Macron-Putin meeting

How did the Macron-Putin meeting go? What is going on with the Canadian truckers' protest? Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

How did the Macron-Putin meeting go?

What was five hours long and it was like a football field away from each other. And of course, Macron is focused on his election coming up. So with all of that, you'd think it would be problematic, but actually engagement between Macron and Biden the day before was pretty strong. And it does look like the ball’s moved a little bit diplomatically. Most importantly, some of the news coming out of the Kremlin overnight that indeed the Russians are planning on taking those troops out of Belarus after the military exercises are over. Now I mean, of course, if they say they are planning on taking them back out of Belarus and putting them into Ukraine, that would be a technicality, but pretty bad. But no, actually that does seem like a bit of a climbdown. Still, Putin is not friendly. He is blustering all over the place and certainly, he wants to be respected. He doesn't feel like he is right now. But on balance we're in a slightly better place because of the Macron meeting than we were the day before.

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