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Paige Fusco

Japan’s inflation rate hit 4% last month. Sounds low, right? Compared to many Western countries, it is. But for Japanese consumers, it’s the highest spike in prices since 1981. As a result, the Bank of Japan is under increasing pressure to raise its key interest rate from -0.1%, where it’s been since 2016. Japan’s central bankers are far from alone. In fact, on Wednesday, the Bank of Canada again boosted its benchmark interest rate, this time to 4.5%, but also became the first major central bank to announce it plans to hold off on further rate hikes for now. Most wealthy countries have felt the price crunch due to high energy costs, COVID supply chain issues, and the war in Ukraine. We compare inflation numbers for the past year across all G-7 countries.

Paige Fusco

French workers will flock to the streets in droves this week to protest the Emmanuel Macron’s proposed reforms to the national pension system, which seek to raise the retirement age by two years to 64. Unions aren’t having it: They say the government needs to honor the social contract with French workers who are now being told they’ll need to work for 43 years – up from 41 – to access their full pension. The government is preparing for pandemonium. So how does France’s retirement age stack up against other European states? We take a look here.

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Immigration is always a divisive political issue, but it’s been particularly loaded for President Joe Biden, who has seen a record number of migrants fleeing political and economic crises in Latin America arrive at the US southern land border under his watch. To address this issue – used as a cudgel by Republicans – Biden recently announced a new immigration policy, whereby migrants from Nicaragua, Haiti, Cuba, in addition to Venezuela, would be eligible for “parole” – meaning temporary two-year work visas – only if they apply for asylum from outside the US. Mexico, for its part, has agreed to take in 30,000 migrants each month from these countries expelled by the US. How many people will this plan impact? We take a look at monthly migrant arrivals from these four countries in 2022.

For months, Europe has been bracing for an energy crisis as it weans itself off Russian oil and natural gas amid the ongoing onslaught in Ukraine. But mother nature has given European countries a helping hand in recent weeks by keeping temperatures mild across much of the Northern Hemisphere – and reducing demand for gas needed to heat homes. As a result, the Dutch gas trading exchange – a benchmark for measuring natural gas prices – has plummeted by 80% from an August high and is now below pre-war levels. This is a welcome development for European governments that have already taken measures to curb consumption and shield consumers from high prices. We take a look at European natural gas prices since Jan. 2022.

Paige Fusco

India, now the fastest-growing major economy on the planet, is expected to become the world’s third-largest by 2027. But this wasn’t always the case. After independence in 1948, India’s closed markets and notoriously red-taped “License Raj” kept growth and foreign investment at bay until financial reforms were passed in 1991. From thereon, growth has accelerated. Despite a change of hands between the two major parties — the Congress and the BJP — financial and market reforms have continued consistently without any significant rollbacks. Today, PM Narendra Modi continues previously planned policies of privatization and digitization, with an emphasis on export incentives, to keep driving the Indian economy moving forward. The lesson? Consistency is key. We explore the big milestones and hiccups in the last 30 years of Indian economic growth.

Foreign born World Cup players.

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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.

Paige Fusco

The US plays, of all countries, Iran (!) at the Qatar men's soccer World Cup on Tuesday in the most politically charged game of the most political edition of the tournament in decades. What’s more, if Team Melli — as Iran's team is popularly known — wins, it’ll advance to the knockout stage for the first time. (Not to mention that Iran won't miss a chance to beat Great Satan at anything.) USMNT, for its part, wants revenge from France '98, when Iran won 2-1 in a major upset that Tehran billed at the time as the "Mother of all Games." We take a look at how the two geopolitical rivals compare on some soccer and non-soccer metrics.

Paige Fusco

The world's population hit 8 billion on Tuesday, according to UN projections. So, why should you care about this particular milestone? For one thing, population growth is slowing down, which means it'll take longer to reach 9 billion. That’s mainly a result of declining birth rates in Europe and East Asia. For another, 8 billion humans are now competing for increasingly scarce resources and territory in a planet already suffering the effects of climate change. Meanwhile, countries in sub-Saharan Africa are still having babies like there's no tomorrow — precisely where people have the least access to basic stuff like food, electricity, the internet, or water.

This was featured in Signal, the daily politics newsletter of GZERO Media. For smart coverage of global affairs that normal people can understand, subscribe here.

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